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Title: The Putnam Hall Cadets - or, Good Times in School and Out
Author: Stratemeyer, Edward
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 "The Putnam Hall Cadets - or, Good Times in School and Out" ***

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Transcriber's note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).



THE PUTNAM HALL CADETS

Or, Good Times in School and Out

by

ARTHUR M. WINFIELD

Author of "The Rover Boys Series," "Bob, The Photographer," etc.

Illustrated



Grosset & Dunlap
Publishers    ·    New York


      *      *      *      *      *      *

BY THE SAME AUTHOR


  THE PUTNAM HALL RIVALS;
    Or, Fun and Sport Afloat and Ashore.
  THE PUTNAM HALL CADETS;
    Or, Good Times in School and Out.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE PLAINS;
    Or, The Mystery of Red Rock Ranch.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE RIVER;
    Or, The Search for the Missing Houseboat.
  THE ROVER BOYS IN CAMP;
    Or, The Rivals of Pine Island.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON LAND AND SEA;
    Or, The Crusoes of Seven Islands.
  THE ROVER BOYS IN THE MOUNTAINS;
    Or, A Hunt for Fun and Fortune.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE GREAT LAKES;
    Or, The Secret of the Island Cave.
  THE ROVER BOYS OUT WEST;
    Or, The Search for a Lost Mine.
  THE ROVER BOYS IN THE JUNGLE;
    Or, Stirring Adventures in Africa.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE OCEAN;
    Or, A Chase for a Fortune.
  THE ROVER BOYS AT SCHOOL;
    Or, The Cadets of Putnam Hall.

 _12mo, finely illustrated and bound in cloth._
         _Price, per volume, 60 cents._


                GROSSET & DUNLAP
          PUBLISHERS    ·    NEW YORK

      *      *      *      *      *      *


Copyright, 1901
by
The Mershon Company



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
  I. Introducing Some Cadets                                           1
  II. The Mysterious Sloop                                            10
  III. A Case of Bribery                                              19
  IV. Electing a Major                                                29
  V. Off on a Picnic                                                  38
  VI. An Odd Bit of Punishment                                        47
  VII. How the Boat Races were Won                                    56
  VIII. The Cadets to the Rescue                                      66
  IX. The Chums Make a Call                                           74
  X. In the Hands of the Enemy                                        84
  XI. A Great Game of Football                                        92
  XII. Happenings after the Game                                     101
  XIII. The Circus, and a Monkey                                     110
  XIV. All about a Tiger                                             120
  XV. Prisoners of a Wild Beast                                      129
  XVI. Off on a Long March                                           138
  XVII. Mumps Sees a Ghost                                           147
  XVIII. The Young Major Shows His Courage                           156
  XIX. The Result of the Nutting Party                               165
  XX. Out in the Cold                                                175
  XXI. The Boys "Hold the Fort"                                      185
  XXII. Josiah Crabtree is Nonplused                                 194
  XXIII. Buried under the Snow                                       203
  XXIV. A Challenge Accepted                                         210
  XXV. How the Fight Ended                                           217
  XXVI. Friends in Need                                              225
  XXVII. The Punishment of a Bully                                   233
  XXVIII. The Results of a Fire                                      241
  XXIX. The Disappearance of George Strong                           249
  XXX. A Lucky Escape--Conclusion                                    257



                              INTRODUCTION


My Dear Boys: In bringing out this story, "The Putnam Hall Cadets," the
initial volume in the "Putnam Hall Series," I feel it necessary to make
an explanation why it is that this tale is brought out when I have
already written so much concerning the doings of the students at Putnam
Hall.

Ever since I presented to the boys the first volume in the "Rover Boys
Series," I have been urged by the boys--and girls, too, for the matter of
that--to write something concerning the doings of the students at the
Hall previous to the coming of the Rover boys on the scene. When the
Rovers arrived they found a wide-awake, jolly crowd of cadets already
there, some of whom had been at the academy several years. My young
friends wished to know more about these, and it is for their benefit that
I have instituted this new series, which will tell of many things that
happened at the famous seat of learning from the time it was first opened
to the present day.

Putnam Hall is an ideal boarding school for boys, located on the shore of
a beautiful lake in upper New York State. The students there are bright,
manly fellows, full of vigor and fun, and bound to get the best there is
out of school life. There are some keen rivalries, and in the story are
related the particulars of a mystery which had an unlooked-for ending.

In offering this first book of the new series I wish to thank the
thousands everywhere who have written to me regarding the "Rover Boys
Series." It does my heart good to know that the tales have been so well
liked. I trust sincerely that the present story meets with equal
approbation.

    Affectionately and sincerely yours,
                                                Arthur M. Winfield.
  _July 25, 1905._



                         THE PUTNAM HALL CADETS



                               CHAPTER I
                        INTRODUCING SOME CADETS


"Hurrah, Jack, I've got news! To-morrow we are going to ballot for
officers!"

"I'm glad to hear that," answered Jack Ruddy, as he threw down the
algebra he had been studying. "I was almost afraid we weren't going to
have officers this term."

"I suppose Captain Putnam wanted to find out if there was any military
material here before he let us fellows take charge," went on Pepper
Ditmore, as he swung himself up on a corner of the dormitory table. "Tell
you what, Jack, it's a great thing to organize a school like this, and
get everything in working order, all in six weeks."

"Do you think you are organized, Pep?" queried Jack Ruddy, with a twinkle
in his eyes.

"I'm organized about as much as I'll ever be," returned Pepper Ditmore.
"You can't expect a fellow like me to settle down and be as quiet as a
lamb, can you?"

"No, you're more like a jumping-jack. The fellows don't call you the Imp
for nothing."

"It's a base slander," returned Pepper Ditmore, with an injured air. "I'm
as meek, sometimes----"

"When you are asleep."

"As a--a----"

"Circus clown. By the way, have they found out yet who mixed the salt and
sugar last Saturday?"

"Can't say as they have."

"And who put that little bulldog in Josiah Crabtree's bedroom in the
dark?"

"They haven't asked me about it," and now Pepper Ditmore began to grin.

"Then let me congratulate you on your escape," and Jack Ruddy smiled
broadly.

"Let's change the subject, Jack. Don't you want to be an officer of the
Putnam Hall Cadet Corps? I should think that would just suit you. Your
father was an army officer."

"It would suit me first-rate. But the fellows don't know much about me.
Most of them are strangers to me."

"Well, they are mostly strangers to each other. If you want to become an
officer, say the word and I'll do the electioneering for you."

"Don't you want to be an officer yourself?"

At this question Pepper Ditmore gave a merry laugh.

"I'd make a fine-looking officer, wouldn't I?" he returned. "No, I'll
remain a high private in the rear rank--and take my sport in some other
way."

"And you expect me to be an officer over you, Pep? How in the world will
I manage you?"

"By not trying, Jack. But come, are you going to be an officer or not? As
a battalion, we are to have a major, two captains, two first lieutenants,
two second lieutenants, and a lot of sergeants and corporals. I want to
see you a captain at least."

"That's kind."

"I'd rather see you an officer than that Dan Baxter. Do you know, Jack, I
don't like that chap at all."

"No more do I. He is very overbearing. I heard him bossing some of the
little fellows around in regular slave-driver style."

"Well, he shan't boss me around."

"Oh, it's not likely he'll bother the big boys," came from Jack Ruddy, as
he arose from his chair and stretched himself. "Those chaps usually make
the little fellows toady to them. What time is it?"

"Just five o'clock."

"Then come on down to the lake and have a row before supper."

At that moment something soft, thrown up through the open dormitory
window, struck Jack Ruddy on the shirt bosom. It was a lump of mud, and
it left quite a mark behind.

"Hi, there, who threw that?" he cried, angrily, as he rushed for the
window. He was just in time to see a lank youth diving out of sight
behind some bushes.

"I know that lad," came from Pepper Ditmore. "His name is John Fenwick,
but they call him Mumps."

"I'll Mumps him!" retorted Jack Ruddy. "Come on!" And he rushed out of
the dormitory, and down the broad stairway three steps at a time. He was
just near the bottom when he passed a tall and rather sour-looking
teacher, who was coming up.

"Master Ruddy, not so fast----" began the teacher, when of a sudden
Pepper Ditmore struck the man on the shoulder, hurling him flat on his
back at the foot of the stairs.

"Oh, excuse me, Mr. Crabtree!" burst out the cadet. "I--er--I didn't mean
to run into you!"

"Yo--you imp!" spluttered Josiah Crabtree. "What do you mean by tearing
downstairs like a--a cyclone?"

"We're after a fellow who threw some mud up into our room," explained
Jack Ruddy.

"I didn't see you coming," added Pepper. "Very sorry--it shan't occur
again."

"This jumping downstairs has got to be stopped!" fumed Josiah Crabtree.
"I shall make an example of you, Ditmore. Go back to your classroom and
write this sentence one hundred times: 'It is best to walk with care.'"

"Have I got to go back now?" cried Pepper.

"At once."

"It isn't fair, Mr. Crabtree. I didn't mean to run into you; really, I
didn't."

"Stop! I want no back talk. To the classroom instantly."

"Mr. Crabtree," put in Jack Ruddy, "please----"

"Silence, Master Ruddy, or I shall send you, too."

"Catch that boy if you can, Jack," said Pepper, and walked slowly towards
his classroom. Josiah Crabtree saw him enter, and saw Jack Ruddy leave
the building, and then continued on his way upstairs.

Jack Ruddy and Pepper Ditmore were chums. Both hailed from the western
part of New York State, and they had arrived at Putnam Hall about a month
before this tale opens. Jack was a few months older than Pepper, but the
youths were of the same size and weight. Jack was of a serious turn and
studious, while Pepper was rightly called the Imp, on account of his
fun-loving disposition.

At the time of which I write, Putnam Hall was a new institution of
learning. It was located on Cayuga Lake, in New York State, not many
miles from the village of Cedarville. It was a handsome structure of
brick and stone, standing in the middle of a parade ground of about ten
acres. In front was a well-kept wagon road, and beyond this the grounds
sloped down to the lake, where were located the academy boathouse and
bathing houses. To the rear of the school were the barns and a
storehouse, and on one side a well-fitted-up gymnasium, all backed up by
a stretch of thick woods.

On the ground floor of the Hall, which was built in the shape of the
letter E, were located the classrooms and also a drillroom and a
messroom, all reached by three entrances, each of imposing appearance.
Above the ground floor were the sleeping apartments, those for the
students divided into dormitories holding four, six, or eight cadets.

The master of the school was Captain Victor Putnam, a bachelor, and a
West Point graduate. The captain had seen strenuous service in the West,
where he had fought under the gallant General Custer during several
Indian uprisings. But a fall from a horse had placed him on a sick bed,
and when he regained his health he decided to give up army life, and go
back to his former profession of teaching. Money had been left to him,
and with this he purchased the grounds and built the academy.

As was to be expected from a military man, the school was organized upon
military lines, and each cadet was given instructions in military duties
daily. All were clothed in neat but serviceable uniforms, and there was a
general parade each day, just before supper.

To get the school into proper shape, Captain Putnam had hired three
retired officers of the army to drill the boys daily. Under their tuition
all of the scholars had learned rapidly, and now the master of the Hall
was about to let the cadets choose their own officers and do their own
drilling, under his sole management.

Captain Putnam was a well-educated man, and taught several classes in the
school, besides looking after the general management. His head assistant
was Josiah Crabtree, just introduced, and his second assistant was George
Strong, whom we shall meet later.

Josiah Crabtree was a morose individual, with a very exalted opinion of
himself. He had come to the Hall with high recommendations, but it cannot
be said that Captain Putnam liked the man, and as for the cadets, they
nearly all hated him.

Leaving the building, Jack Ruddy hurried to the spot where his chum had
seen the boy called Mumps. He found the boy talking earnestly to a big,
burly youth, who carried a baseball bat in his hand.

"It was lots of fun," Mumps was saying, as Jack strode up. "I struck Andy
Snow, and Hen Lee, and some fellows in dormitory No. 4, and----"

"And you struck me, you sneak!" cried Jack, catching the boy by the arm.
"I suppose you thought it fine fun to cover me with mud."

"Hi! let me go!" cried Mumps, in sudden alarm. "Let me go. I--I--didn't
do anything."

"You threw a lump of mud up into our room and struck me."

"I--I--didn't----"

"You can't get out of it. I've a good mind to box your ears, Mumps."

"Say, you let that kid alone," came from the big boy with the baseball
bat. "Leave him alone, I say!"

"See here, Dan Baxter, this is none of your quarrel," retorted Jack.

"Let him alone."

"I'll let him alone when I feel like it."

"You'll let him alone now."

"Will I?" Jack caught Mumps by the collar and shook him thoroughly. "Now,
after this, you behave yourself, or I'll thrash you good," he went on.

"Oh! oh!" screamed the boy. "Le--let up! Don't--don't shake my head off!"

"Stop it!" roared Dan Baxter. "Stop it!" And rushing in he took hold of
Jack and tried to draw him back.

"Baxter, let go of me," said Jack, quietly, but with determination. "If
you don't----"

"What?" came from the big youth with a sneer.

"That!" retorted Jack, and turning from Mumps, he gave a quick push that
sent Dan Baxter flat on the turf.



                               CHAPTER II
                          THE MYSTERIOUS SLOOP


The attack had come so unexpectedly that for the moment Dan Baxter did
not know what to do. In a dazed fashion he sat up, and finally scrambled
to his feet. Mumps, the toady and sneak, gazed at Jack Ruddy in wonder.

"You'll catch it for that!" he cried. "Dan Baxter'll most kill you!"

"He has got to spell able first," murmured Jack.

"See here, what did you do that for?" spluttered Dan Baxter, when he
could collect himself sufficiently to speak.

"I told you this was none of your affair!" answered Jack. "After this you
attend to your own business, and I'll attend to mine."

"I told you to let up on Mumps."

"Well, you are not my master, Baxter."

"Mumps is under my protection."

"What you mean is, that he is one of your toadies."

"I ain't anybody's toady," came from John Fenwick, but his face grew as
red as a beet.

"Yes, you are, and you're a sneak in the bargain," said Jack.

"I've a good mind to give you a crack with this," burst out Dan Baxter,
as he swung his baseball bat aloft.

"Here, don't you hit Jack Ruddy with that!" came a voice from the rear,
and on the instant another cadet caught hold of the bat.

"Thanks, Andy," came from Jack. "But I don't think he'd dare."

"So you're going to take part in this too, eh?" said Dan Baxter, turning
to the newcomer.

"Oh, I only want to see fair play," answered Andy Snow, a tall, slender
boy, who was a good deal of an acrobat, and at the head of the gymnasium
class.

"Andy, were you up in your dormitory a while ago?" questioned Jack.

"Yes."

"Did you get hit with a lump of mud?"

"Yes. I'd like to spot the rascal that threw it."

"I was hit myself. That's why I came down after Mumps."

"So you're the guilty party, eh?" cried Andy Snow, stepping up to John
Fenwick.

"Don't!" screamed the lank boy, and turning, he ran off at top speed.
"Come on, Dan!" he called out, when at a safe distance. "Don't have
anything more to do with 'em!"

By this time a crowd of a dozen was beginning to collect. Dan Baxter
gazed around uneasily.

"We'll settle this some other time," he muttered, and edged away.

"Better settle it now," retorted Jack.

"I--I've got something else to do," faltered Dan Baxter, and then he
turned and followed his toady.

"Baxter is afraid of you, Jack," came from Andy Snow. "He's a bully if
ever there was one."

"He certainly is a bully."

"A thrashing would do him good."

"Well, he'll get it unless he minds what he is doing."

"It was a mean trick of Mumps to throw mud in at the windows," went on
Andy Snow, as they walked away. "I had just put on a clean shirt when it
hit me in the shoulder."

"Mumps is as much of a mean sneak as Baxter is a bully, Andy. They make a
fine team."

"Where are you bound?"

"Pepper Ditmore and I were going for a row on the lake, but Pep got into
trouble with Mr. Crabtree and had to go to the classroom."

"I'll go for a row if you wish."

"All right. We haven't much time, but we can take a short row anyway.
It's a pity Pep isn't along."

"You and he are great chums, aren't you?"

"Yes. You see, it is this way: His father and mine were old college
chums, and we take after them. Besides that, his father and mine are
associated in several business affairs."

The boathouse was soon gained, and the two cadets brought forth a rowboat
of fair size, and two pairs of oars.

"Hullo, you fellers!" came from back of the boathouse. "Is it yerselves
that's afther wantin' company, I don't know? If yez do, it's meself will
be afther comin' along."

"Hullo, Emerald!" returned Jack. "Yes, come on if you wish--there is room
enough."

"It's meself that would loike to learn how to row," said Joseph Hogan, as
he stepped into the craft. He was a pleasant-faced Irish lad, who had
come to Putnam Hall on the day the institution opened.

"All right, Emerald, we'll give you lessons," came from Andy Snow. "Wait
till we get out on the lake."

The craft was shoved off, and Jack and Andy seated themselves at the
oars. Soon they were gliding over the surface of Cayuga Lake in fine
style.

"Sure, an' it looks aisy enough," said Hogan.

"It is easy--after you know how," answered Andy. "By the way," he went on
to Jack, "are you going in for that boat race next week?"

"Yes, and so is Pepper."

"Good enough. I hope you both win."

As soon as they were well out on the lake both boys stopped rowing, and
allowed Joseph Hogan to take a pair of the oars.

"Now, take hold this way," said Andy Snow, "and pull like this."

The Irish lad tried. At first his blades slipped quite frequently, and
once he splashed some water into the craft.

"Look out!" cried Jack. "Emerald, we've had all the bath we want."

"Sure, an' I didn't mane to wet yez," was the answer. "The oars schlipped
before I knew it!"

In a few minutes the Irish boy was doing better, and they turned down the
lake. As they did this they noticed a small sailing boat approaching.

"There's that craft again!" cried Jack.

"What craft is that, Jack?"

"Oh, I forgot, Andy. It's a sloop Pepper and I saw day before yesterday.
We thought the fellows on board acted queerly."

"In what way?"

"They sailed up and down the shore at least ten times, as if they were on
the lookout for something or somebody."

"Who was on board?"

"Two men. I tried to catch a good look at their faces, but they wouldn't
give me a chance."

"It's certainly queer they should sail up and down here," was Andy's
comment. "Did they come from Cedarville?"

"I don't know."

By this time the strange sloop was close at hand. The same two men were
in command, but both kept their faces turned away as the rowboat glided
by.

"Did you notice how they kept their faces hidden?" queried Jack.

"Sure, I did that," answered Hogan. "B'ys, they are up to some thrick."

"It certainly is strange," said Andy, thoughtfully. "See, they are
turning back once more."

"Perhaps they know some of the cadets, and would like to meet them."

"More than likely they want to steal some of our boats."

The sloop turned again on her course, and it was not long before both
craft were only a short distance apart.

"I'm going to hail them, and learn what they have to say for themselves,"
whispered Jack.

"Do it," answered Andy.

"Sloop ahoy!"

At first there was no reply to this shout. Jack repeated the call, and
Andy brought the rowboat still closer.

"What do you want?" growled one of the men on the sloop, finally.

"Fine day," said Jack, brightly.

To this there was no answer.

"Looking for anybody around here?" came from Andy.

"No."

"Saw you cruising around here day before yesterday, didn't I?" continued
Jack.

"Maybe you did. We've been out on the lake quite some the past week,"
answered the second man.

"Thought, if you were looking for somebody, I might help you."

"No, you can't help us," growled the one who had first spoken.

"Do you belong at Putnam Hall?" questioned the other occupant of the
sloop.

"Sure, we do that," answered Hogan.

"Got many pupils there now?"

"Forty or fifty so far," said Jack.

"Humph! How many teachers?"

"Two regular teachers, besides Captain Putnam. Then we have others for
French, and German, and music."

"Who are the regular teachers?"

"Mr. Crabtree and Mr. Strong."

"Do they stay there all the time?"

"Yes."

"It must grow rather monotonous for them."

"Oh, we try to make it lively enough."

"Don't they ever go to town, or go boating?"

"Of course. Mr. Strong is quite an oarsman," came from Andy, who had been
out with the second assistant on more than one occasion.

At this announcement both of the men exchanged glances.

"You can come ashore and look at the school if you wish," said Jack.

"No, thank you, we don't care to do so," was the hasty answer; and a
moment later the sloop veered off, and was soon out of speaking distance.

"Well, they are a queer pair and no mistake," murmured Jack. "Did you
notice how one kept his hand over his forehead?"

"And how the other had his cap pulled far down over his eyes," added
Andy.

"Sure, an nayther of 'em looked roight sharp to me," put in Hogan. "I'd
not like to be spendin' much toime in their company."

"I believe they are up to something," said Jack. "I'd like to know what
it is."

"Perhaps we'll find out later," answered Andy. And they did find out, in
a manner that was as thrilling as it was astonishing.



                              CHAPTER III
                           A CASE OF BRIBERY


When the boys got back to the boathouse they found Pepper Ditmore
awaiting them.

"Dashed off that bit of writing as soon as I could," said he. "My, but
wasn't it mean of old Crabtree to make me do it! But wait, I'll get
square on him!"

"Pep, we met that strange sloop again," said Jack, and told of what had
been said.

"There's a mystery there, that's certain," answered Pepper. "Perhaps we
had better report to Captain Putnam."

"It won't do any harm."

"Then come on now. We've got ten minutes before parade."

Captain Putnam's office was a finely furnished apartment, just off the
main classroom. They found the master of the school engaged in writing a
letter.

"Well, young gentlemen, what can I do for you?" he said cheerily as they
entered.

"We've got something to tell you, sir," they answered, and then Jack
quietly related their story.

The master of Putnam Hall listened with close attention, and questioned
each one of the party.

"This is certainly odd," said he, meditatively. "Still, there may be
nothing of importance in it. If you see the sloop hovering around again,
let me know."

"We will, sir," answered Jack, and then he and his companions hurried
off.

The drum was already rolling, and all of the cadets lost no time in
getting out on the parade ground. It was a beautiful day in early
October, with just enough of coolness to make it bracing.

"The battalion will fall into line!" was the command, from one of the old
army officers present, and then the cadets of Company A and Company B
took the places assigned to them.

"Company, attention!" was the command from the officer in charge of
Company A, to which Jack, Pepper, and Andy belonged. And then followed a
similar command to Company B.

While the battalion was at attention, Captain Putnam came forth and
mounted a small stand that was handy.

"Young gentlemen," said he, gazing, at the assembled cadets, "I have an
announcement of importance to make to you. In the past you have been
under the command of Captain Wilson and Lieutenants Plummer and
Montgomery, who have drilled you thoroughly in the arts and duties of the
soldier. These instructors will leave the Hall early next week, and then
I intend to place the battalion in charge of such officers as you may
select for yourselves."

"Hurrah!" came the shout. "Three cheers for Captain Putnam!"

"Three cheers for Captain Wilson and his assistants!" was the added cry,
and the cheers were given with a will.

"As you well know, ever since this school was organized I have been
keeping a close watch on every cadet, to find out who was fit to take
command. I have prepared a list of sixteen names, which you will find
hung up in the general library and in the gymnasium. Of these names the
first eight are eligible for the rank of major of the battalion, and all
are eligible for the rank of captain, or first or second lieutenant. The
position of sergeant or corporal may be filled by any cadet in the
school. Voting for the various officers will take place to-morrow,
directly after the regular school session."

"Hurrah!" came another shout, as the captain stepped down.

"Battalion, attention!" came the command, a moment later. "Carry arms!
Present arms! Support arms! Shoulder arms! Forward, march!"

"Tap! tap! tap-tap-tap!" went the drums, and off moved the young
soldiers. They marched around the parade ground twice, and then into the
mess-hall, where each cadet took his place at one or another of the long
dining tables. It was a spirited scene, and one calculated to make the
heart of each boy bound with enthusiasm.

"Your name is on that list, Jack," whispered a cadet sitting near. "I saw
Peleg Snuggers tacking it up in the gym as I came away." Peleg Snuggers
was the general utility man around Putnam Hall.

"I hope you are on it, too, Joe," answered Jack.

"I am," returned Joe Nelson, who was a quiet and studious cadet, hailing
from Philadelphia. "And Andy Snow and Henry Lee are on it, too," he went
on. "I think----"

"Silence at the table!" broke in the rough voice of Josiah Crabtree. "If
I hear any more of that, I'll send you away without your supper!"

"Oh," murmured Joe Nelson. It was rarely that he had any trouble with any
of the teachers.

"Say, but old Crabtree is crusty enough to make pie of," was Pepper's
whispered comment.

"Silence, I say!" thundered the first assistant. "I will have silence!"
And he looked around the board so fiercely that hardly anybody dared to
say another word.

At the next table sat Dan Baxter and Mumps, the sneak. The former scowled
darkly at Jack and Andy, while the sneak put his tongue into his cheek at
them.

"I'm going to fix Mumps," whispered Pepper, who had been told of the
occurrence in the school yard, and watching his chance, he leaned back in
his chair and dropped a bit of sharp fish-bone down inside the sneak's
collar.

At first the sneak did not notice what had been done, but then he made a
side turn and of a sudden uttered a yell of pain.

"Hi! who's sticking me with a pin?" he roared. "Drop it!"

He glanced around, but the boys on both sides of him were busy with their
eating.

"What is it, Master Fenwick?" questioned George Strong, the second
assistant.

"Somebody stuck me with a----Oh, I'm stuck again! Oh! oh! Something is
down my back!" And the sneak began to wiggle from side to side. "Oh, dear
me!"

"You had better leave the room and find out what is the matter," said the
teacher, and still twisting and squirming, Mumps left the mess-hall in a
hurry.

"Baxter, do you know anything of this?"

"No, sir."

"It is strange; what could be the matter?"

There were a few minutes of silence, and then the sneak came back and
dropped into his chair.

"It was a fish-bone--awfully sharp, too," he said. "Somebody must have
dropped it down my back, sir."

There was a titter, in which our friends joined. Pepper winked at Jack,
Andy, and Joe Nelson, and they understood.

As soon as the meal was over, the cadets rushed off to the library of
Putnam Hall and to the gymnasium, to scan the list of names the master
had mentioned.

"Bart Conners is at the head," said Andy. "Harry Blossom comes next, Jack
is third, Henry Lee fourth, myself fifth, Dave Kearney sixth, Stuffer
Singleton next, and Dan Baxter next."

"And those are the ones who may be made major," came from a cadet named
Dale Blackmore, one of the leading athletes of the academy.

"You are up next, Dale," returned Jack. "That means you may become a
captain."

"I'd rather be captain of the football team," answered Dale, with a
smile.

As soon as the list was scanned, an animated discussion took place
regarding the merits of the different candidates. As among men, and
especially politicians, there was a good bit of "log-rolling" and
electioneering.

"I think Henry Lee ought to be major," said Jack. "He is one of our best
soldiers."

"He is no better soldier than you are, Jack," returned Andy.

"Just what I say," came from Pepper. "Jack ought to be major, and Henry
one of the captains."

"Dan Baxter is working hard to become major," came from a cadet who had
just strolled in. "Somebody told me he was actually trying to buy votes!"

"Buy them? Do you mean with money?" queried Jack.

"So somebody told me."

"Oh, that can't be true, Jerry. Why, who in this school would be mean
enough to sell his vote?"

"Well, Baxter has got a wad of rocks all right enough. I saw the money
myself."

"I'm going to watch him," came from Pepper, and he motioned for Andy Snow
to go along.

"What will you do, if you learn he is really offering money for votes?"
questioned Andy, as they hurried away.

"I don't know yet, Andy. But it would be a mean piece of business. Why,
in politics that is bribery, and they can arrest a man for it."

"I know that--but it's seldom a briber is caught."

It was not difficult to trace Dan Baxter. From a small cadet they learned
he was down by the lake, back of the row of bathing-houses.

By going down to the boathouse first, and then stealing along a fringe of
bushes skirting the lake shore, they reached the bath-houses without
being seen. As it was past the bathing season, the houses were supposed
to be "out of commission," and locked up, but one of them--the
largest--stood wide open.

"Well, that is the chance of your life, if you only know it," reached
their ears, in the voice of Dan Baxter. "Besides, you know well enough
that I would make as good a major as anybody in the school."

"That's a fine way to blow one's own horn," murmured Pepper.

"And what will you give me, Baxter, if I work for you?" came from a big
boy named Gus Coulter. He, too, was a bully, and, coming from humble
parentage, had very little spending money.

"I'll give you five dollars, Gus."

"Will you give it to me now?"

"Yes, if you'll promise to do all you can to elect me major."

"All right, then, hand over the money," answered Gus Coulter. "I'd just
as soon work for you as anybody."

"Why can't I have a fiver, too?" put in Mumps, who was present. "I'll
work as hard as Gus."

"I'll give you two dollars, Mumps," said the bully. "I can't afford any
more."

"Where do I come in on this?" came from a lad named Paxton.

"I'll give you two dollars, too, Nick, if you'll vote for me and try to
get others to do so, too."

"Humph! Aren't my services worth as much as Gus Coulter's?" demanded Nick
Paxton.

"Well, if I'm elected I'll give you two dollars more."

"Very well, hand over the dough, Dan. As Gus says, I'd just as soon work
for you as for anybody."

"What a barefaced thing to do!" whispered Andy Snow. "Baxter can't have a
bit of honor about him!"

"The others are just as bad--to take his money," whispered Pepper in
return. "If they--who's this?"

"Hullo, what are you doing here?" demanded a rough voice behind them, and
a cadet named Sabine appeared on the scene.

"Who is there?" cried Dan Baxter, and rushed from the bath-house. "Humph!
Pepper Ditmore and Andy Snow! So you've been spying on us, eh? That's a
nice business to be into, I must say!"



                               CHAPTER IV
                            ELECTING A MAJOR


"Have they been spying on us?" queried Mumps, and turned slightly pale.

"Yes, they have been spying--I caught them at it," came from Billy
Sabine. "What have you fellows been up to here?" he added, anxiously.

"Never mind just now," answered Dan Baxter. He looked much disconcerted.
"Just step in here a minute, will you?" he requested, of Pepper and Andy.

"What do you want of us?" asked Pepper, cautiously, while Andy also held
back.

"Have you been listening to our talk?"

"Yes."

"It was a mean piece of business, Pepper Ditmore!"

"Not half as mean as what you were up to, Dan Baxter!"

"What was I up to?"

"You were bribing these fellows to vote for you."

"No, I wasn't. I--er--that is--we were talking about something else. It's
a--er--a secret society," stammered the bully. He did not know what to
say.

"Bosh!" came from Andy. "You were bribing them to vote for you for
major,--paying them from two to five dollars apiece."

"You shut up!" roared Baxter, rushing up to Andy and catching him by the
arm. "I know what I'm doing. I don't want any talk from you!"

He ran Andy against the side of the bath-house, but as said before, Andy
was a good deal of an acrobat, and in a twinkling he had slipped from
Baxter's grasp.

"Let us get out of here, Andy," said Pepper. "We have seen and heard
enough."

"Are you going to blab on us?" demanded Gus Coulter.

"That depends upon what you do," retorted Pepper, bravely. "We are not
going to stand for such underhanded work as has been going on here."

"If you dare to say a word I'll--I'll thrash you within an inch of your
life!" hissed Dan Baxter, rushing forward and catching Pepper by the
throat. "Don't you dare to do it! Don't you dare!"

"Le--let up, Baxter!" gasped Pepper. He pushed the bully back with his
hand. "You won't, eh? Then take that!"

So speaking, he landed a blow that took Dan Baxter full in the face and
sent him staggering back several paces.

"What's going on here?" came the cry from the parade ground, and half a
dozen cadets appeared, including Joe Nelson and Jack.

"Perhaps Baxter will tell you," said Andy.

"I--er--I haven't anything to say!" stammered the bully.

"But I have something to say!" cried Pepper, boldly. "Boys, take care
that he doesn't try to bribe you to vote for him. He has just bribed
Coulter, Paxton, and Mumps. I saw him pay over his money, and so did Andy
Snow."

"It's a--a--falsehood!" stormed Dan Baxter. He was beside himself with
rage.

"It's the truth," came from Andy. "It was the most disgraceful thing I
ever witnessed in my life. We don't want such a chap for a major, or even
for a captain."

"Maybe we don't want him even for a high private," came from somebody in
the crowd.

Gus Coulter whispered to Baxter, and then to Paxton and to Mumps.

"That's the way to talk!" whispered Mumps. "Our word is as good as
theirs!"

"What these fellows say is not true," came from Gus Coulter. "I was never
bribed in my life."

"I wouldn't accept a bribe," put in Paxton, loftily. "I'm not that sort,
and my friends know it."

"We all belong to a secret society, and we were counting up the money in
the treasury," said Mumps. "In the midst of it Ditmore and Snow rushed up
and intimated that Dan was bribing us. They ought to have their heads
punched for it!"

"Well, you'll never punch them, Mumps," said Pepper. "And Baxter won't
punch them, either."

"Don't be so sure about that," growled Dan Baxter. "You may get more than
you expect!"

"I am not afraid of you," answered Pepper.

Further talk was cut short by the ringing of the school bell, calling the
cadets into the Hall. Baxter and his cronies went off in one bunch, while
Pepper, Andy, and Jack went off in another.

Among so many cadets opinions were necessarily divided. Some thought
Baxter guilty, while others believed in his protestations of innocence.
Yet with it all, the bully had only a limited circle of friends and
hangers-on, as later events proved.

During the evening the air was filled with subdued excitement. All of the
candidates for the officers' positions were discussed, and it was
generally admitted that Jack, Bart Conners, Henry Lee, and Dan Baxter
stood equal chances of winning the majorship, or at least one of the
captaincies.

"I hope you win the majorship, Jack," said Andy. "You are just suited for
that position."

"I'd like it, Andy, I must confess. But I'm afraid I'm not well enough
known. Big Bart Conners has a host of friends--and he is a staving good
chap in the bargain."

During the following morning it was easily to be seen that Dan Baxter had
been working hard to win the cadets over to him. The bully and his
cronies had done a good deal of talking, and in a few cases it looked as
if he had been doing additional bribing.

During the recess electioneering became warm once more, and the students
gathered in little knots to discuss the situation. Jack, Pepper, and
several others were talking together when Dan Baxter strolled up, with a
dark look on his face.

"Say, I want this talk about bribery stopped," he said, savagely. "I
won't stand it--do you understand? I won't stand it!" And he shook his
fist at the crowd.

"If you won't stand it, sit down on it, Baxter," retorted Pepper.

"It ain't fair," roared the bully, for the benefit of the crowd.

"I believe Pepper tells the truth," came from Jack, eying Baxter boldly.
"He caught you in the act."

"Of course you'd say so, Jack Ruddy, you're so anxious to be elected!"

"Well, I don't want to be elected," came from Pepper.

"And neither do I," put in Andy. "I saw it as well as Pepper."

"It's false! Absurd!" roared Baxter, and then, as there seemed nothing
more to say, he walked off with his head held high in the air.

"He makes me tired," came from Dale Blackmore. "I'd never vote for him,
even if he hadn't started to bribe the fellows."

The voting began directly after dinner. There was a large ballot box, and
the cadets were given slips of paper and pencils, so that they might put
down the names of their candidates.

"There are seventy-seven students present," said Captain Putnam.
"Consequently it will take thirty-nine votes for a choice. We will now
take the vote for the majorship."

There was a moment of silence, during which the students put down the
names of their candidates, and then the line filed past the ballot-box,
and each youth deposited his ballot. Without delay the captain and George
Strong tabulated the vote.

"I will now read the result of the first ballot," announced Captain
Putnam, and at once the cadets became silent.

  "Number of votes cast, 77;
  Necessary to a choice, 39;
  Bart Conners has 21,
  John Ruddy has 21,
  Henry Lee has 14,
  Harry Blossom has 9,
  Daniel Baxter has 7,
  David Kearney has 3,
  Andrew Snow has 1,
  Paul Singleton has 1."

"Hullo, Bart and Jack are a tie!" exclaimed Pepper.

"And I've got one vote," put in Andy.

"Guess you must have voted for yourself," put in Gus Coulter,
sarcastically.

"If I did, I didn't have to bribe myself to do it," retorted Andy. He
raised his voice: "Whoever voted for me, will kindly vote for Jack Ruddy
on the next ballot."

"I also wish to withdraw in favor of Jack Ruddy," came from Dave Kearney.
"I don't believe I can fill the position of major just yet," he added, by
way of explanation.

"Please cross me off the list," sang out Paul Singleton, a fat youth, who
went by the nickname of Stuffer because he was always hungry.

After this came a little more electioneering, and Henry Lee said he would
withdraw and give Jack his support if Jack's friends would vote for him
for captain.

"Yes, we'll do that, Henry," cried Andy.

The second ballot was soon cast, and resulted as follows:

  Number of votes cast, 77;
  Necessary to a choice, 39;
  For John Ruddy, 48;
  For Bart Conners, 20;
  For Harry Blossom, 5;
  For Daniel Baxter, 4.

"Hurrah! Jack is elected!" cried Pepper, and rushing forward he caught
his chum by the hand.

"I congratulate you, Major Ruddy," said Captain Putnam, with a smile.

"I move we make the election of Jack Ruddy unanimous!" called out Bart
Conners. "I voted for him, and I want all of you to do the same."

"Hurrah! That's the way to talk!" sang out a student. "Bart, you're a
good fellow."

"Three cheers for Major Ruddy, Captain Putnam, and Bart Conners!" came
the cry, and the cheers were given with a will. But Dan Baxter and his
cronies did not join in.

"They sold me out!" muttered the bully to Mumps. "Some of the fellows who
said they'd vote for me didn't vote for me at all."

"I'd square up with them for it," returned the sneak.

"I shall--and I'll square up with Jack Ruddy too," added Dan Baxter,
bitterly.



                               CHAPTER V
                            OFF ON A PICNIC


As soon as the excitement attending Jack's election had subsided, Captain
Putnam announced that they would proceed next to the election of two
captains, one for Company A, and one for Company B. For this purpose each
student was allowed to put down two names, making the total number of
votes cast one hundred and fifty-four.

True to their promise, many who had supported Jack voted in favor of
Henry Lee, and as a consequence he was made captain of the first company.
Bart Conners became captain of Company B. Later still, Harry Blossom
became first lieutenant, and Dave Kearney a second lieutenant. For all of
these positions Dan Baxter received not more than six votes, much to his
disgust.

"It's a put-up job," he growled. "But just wait--I'll fix them!" And then
he and his cronies said no more.

After the voting was over, Captain Putnam called the newly elected
officers together and gave them their instructions.

"I shall leave the battalion in your hands from now on," he said to them.
"On parade and during drill you must see to it that every cadet does his
duty. Of course, during school hours and off hours, you will have no more
authority than any of your fellow pupils."

"I understand," said Jack, "and I don't want any authority excepting on
parade and during drill."

That evening the battalion celebrated on the campus of the Hall, with a
big bonfire and singing. There was also a fancy drill and a short parade,
and all enjoyed it excepting Baxter and his cronies. As soon as possible
the latter sneaked off in a little crowd by themselves.

"I'm satisfied that Ruddy and his crowd cooked this whole thing up
against you, Dan," said Coulter. "Look at Lee. He sold out the majorship
just to get a captaincy."

"And Dave Kearney sold out so he could be sure of becoming a lieutenant,"
put in Paxton. "It makes me sick."

"Well, some of the others sold me out," growled the bully. "I know twelve
fellows who said they'd vote for me, and the most votes I got were
seven!"

"Jack Ruddy must have bought them up," put in Mumps. "He's a slippery
one, he is!"

The majority of the cadets, however, were well satisfied over Jack's
election, and they told the newly elected major so. All shook him by the
hand, and wished him the best of success in his position. He was called
on to speak and made a neat speech.

"I thank you all for electing me," said he. "I trust we shall all be
friends, and that our relations with one another will be pleasant from
beginning to end. I am going to try to do my duty, and I know you will
try to do yours. And because you have made me major, don't forget
that--during school hours and off hours--I am one of you anyway."

"That's the way to talk!" called out a cadet. "Jack's the right kind of a
major."

"Three cheers for Major Ruddy," was the cry, and they were given loudly,
and a tiger followed.

A number of the boys, including Pepper and Andy, had worked hard to elect
Jack and he felt that he ought to do something for them in return. He
thought the matter over carefully and then decided to ask a dozen of the
cadets to go off on a picnic with him on the following Saturday
afternoon, which would be a half-holiday.

"Just the thing, Jack," said Pepper, when the thing was mentioned. "We
can have a jolly time, in the woods and along the lake shore."

"Do we take any grub along?" came from Stuffer Singleton, anxiously.
"It's no picnic without grub."

"Trust Stuffer to remember about food!" laughed Andy.

"To be sure we shall take something to eat along," answered Jack. "I'll
arrange it with the captain and Mrs. Green, and I'll buy some extras at
Cedarville."

As soon as the picnic, as it was called, was announced those to take part
became enthusiastic. Not to make the other cadets feel bad, it was kept a
secret among those concerned. Captain Putnam allowed the housekeeper to
have two baskets of provisions packed for Jack, and the young major took
Andy and Pepper with him to town, where they purchased some extra
dainties.

"This is going to be the dandiest of all picnics," declared Pepper. "A
red-letter day for Putnam Hall."

"Don't you want to invite Dan Baxter?" said Andy, with a sly grin.

"Not on your life, Andy!" cried Jack.

"Oh, I was only joking."

"He wouldn't come," put in Henry Lee. "He is as mad as hops because he
wasn't elected an officer."

"I don't want any such bully as he is to be an officer over me," came
from Stuffer Singleton.

There were signs of rain in the air on Friday and the students to
participate in the picnic grew anxious, fearing they would have bad
weather. But by the next morning the sun was shining as brightly as ever,
and soon all were ready for the start, which was to be made at one
o'clock.

"Say, what do you think?" cried Mumps, coming up to where Baxter and
Paxton were standing. "Jack Ruddy is going to take some of the fellows
out to the woods for a spread."

"Who told you?" queried the bully of Putnam Hall.

"I overheard them talking about it in the gym. They're going to take two
or three baskets of good things with them."

"That's a shame!" cried Paxton.

"We ought to spoil their game," suggested Gus Coulter. "Can't we do it,
Dan?"

"I don't know." Baxter became thoughtful. "Where are they going, Mumps?"

"Up to Gerry's Point, on the lake. It's about two miles from here."

"We might row up in one of the boats and see what we can do," answered
the bully. So it was arranged, and Baxter, Paxton, and Mumps set off
without delay. Coulter wished to go along but could not because he had an
extra lesson to do, he having missed several times during the week.

Jack and his friends started in high glee. They had three baskets filled
with good things to eat and to drink, and each basket was carried by two
boys, the handle having a stick passed through it for that purpose.

"I'm going to have a swim," declared Andy. "I know it's a little late in
the season, but the water is pretty warm."

"I'm with you," said Pepper. "I shan't mind the cold water. Why, I take a
cold bath two or three times a week, in the bathtub."

"Cold baths are very healthy," came from another of the crowd. "My father
used to be quite weak, but now he takes a cold bath every morning and it
is wonderful how strong he is getting."

The path led back of the Hall grounds and then through a dense woods
fronting the lake, where the shore made a sweeping turn. As the boys were
all good walkers, they covered the two miles with ease, reaching Gerry's
Point inside of an hour after starting.

"Now then for a rest and a swim," cried Pepper.

"And then we'll sample some of the good things Jack has provided," added
Stuffer, smacking his lips.

"Say, Stuffer, you could eat about all the time, couldn't you?" queried
Andy.

"No, not all the time--he must sleep," put in Jack, and this brought
forth a laugh.

"I caught myself eating once in my sleep," said Stuffer. "I began to
cough and woke up with a piece of pie in my hand. I had had the
nightmare, gone down to the kitchen pantry, and helped myself. After that
ma locked the pantry up and hid the key." And at this tale there was
another laugh.

After a short rest the boys went in bathing, placing their baskets in a
secluded spot behind some bushes. Not far away was a small stream of
water, and they did not know that in this one of the Hall rowboats was
hidden, containing Baxter, Paxton, and Mumps, who had watched their
arrival.

"Now is our chance!" cried Baxter, when all but two of the boys had gone
in bathing. "Let us take their baskets and make off with them. We can go
up the lake shore and have a dandy time on the good things!"

"Right you are," put in Paxton. "And won't Jack Ruddy and the others be
mad!"

"Be careful, or they'll spot you!" whispered Mumps, in a trembling tone.

"Oh, don't get scared, Mumps," said Baxter. "They can't see us--the
bushes are too thick."

Leaving the rowboat, the party of three stole to the spot where the
baskets were resting.

"Say but they are heavy," remarked Paxton in a low voice.

"Hush!" came warningly from the bully, and then nothing further was said.
Each took a basket, and started back for the rowboat as fast as he could
carry the load.

Baxter and Paxton had just placed their baskets in the boat when there
came a crash. Mumps, who was bringing up the rear, had slipped and let
his basket fall, breaking a drinking glass and a bottle of ginger ale.

"Hi, there, what's that?" came from Jack, who was standing in the water
up to his waist. "Who's breaking glass?"

"I'm not," answered one of the cadets on shore. "It was----"

"Hullo, there is Dan Baxter!" yelled Pepper. "He's got one of our
baskets!"

"They are running off with our things!" broke in Andy. "Hi, stop, Baxter!
Stop, Paxton!"

"Go to grass!" roared the bully of Putnam Hall. He flung himself into the
rowboat. "Quick, Paxton; quick, Mumps!"

Paxton leaped in, basket in hand. But Mumps, becoming frightened, let his
load remain where it had fallen and scrambled in headlong. Then the oars
were taken up and the craft shoved out into the stream.

"Stop them! Stop them!" came from Jack. "Don't let them get away, boys!"

"Swim for the boat," said another cadet. "Come on!"

"Baxter, stop your rowing!" called a cadet on shore. "Stop, or I'll throw
this!" And he held up a large and sharp stone.

"Ain't going to stop!" muttered the bully. "Clear the track, you
fellows!" And he shook his head at those in the water. "If you don't get
out of the way, I'll run over you!" And then he began to pull with might
and main, while Paxton did the same.



                               CHAPTER VI
                        AN ODD BIT OF PUNISHMENT


For the moment the declaration by the bully that he would run the boat
into those in the water kept the swimmers back.

"Look out, fellows!" cried Stuffer, in alarm. "That boat has got a pretty
sharp bow. If it hits you it will cut you deep!"

"I'm going to stop the boat anyway," cried Jack, and continued to swim
toward the craft.

As Jack did this, Andy measured his distance and suddenly dove out of
sight. Andy was as good at swimming as he was at acrobatic feats, and he
did not come up until he was close to the side of the rowboat. Then,
before Baxter knew what was up, he had hold of one of the oars and jerked
it out of the bully's hand.

"Hi, give me back that oar!" cried Baxter, in alarm.

"Not much," said Andy. And then, as Baxter tried to hit him with the
other oar, he dove under the boat and gave it a sudden push that nearly
upset the craft.

"Oh!" yelled Mumps, in alarm. "Don't! We are going over! Help!"

By this time all of the crowd in the water were surrounding the rowboat,
and Jack lost no time in pulling an oar from Paxton. Then he shoved the
end of the blade against Dan Baxter, and in a twinkling the bully fell
over against the gunwale. Here Pepper caught him by the arm, and over
went Baxter into the water with a loud splash.

"Don't throw me over!" screamed Mumps. "Don't! I--I can't hardly swim a
stroke."

"Do you surrender?" demanded Jack.

"Yes! Yes! Please don't throw me over! I--I wasn't going to do anything!"

"Paxton, do you surrender?" asked Jack.

"No, I don't! I'm going----Hi! give me that oar!" For somebody had
suddenly captured the other blade.

"If you don't surrender we'll cast you adrift without oars," came from
Pepper, with a wink at his companions.

"Yo--you won't dare," faltered Paxton.

"Won't we? You'll soon see."

"Yes, cast him adrift," was the cry.

"Send him away out into the lake!"

"No! No! I--I surrender!" said Paxton.

By this time Dan Baxter was walking ashore. His clothes--a new suit,
elegantly pressed,--were, of course, soaked completely, and there was a
streak of mud over one shoulder.

"I'll make somebody pay for this!" he growled. "It will cost two dollars
to have this suit fixed up again."

"You brought it on yourself, Baxter," said Jack.

"No, I didn't!"

"Yes, you did. What right had you to try to run away with our baskets of
things?"

"I--er--I wasn't going to run off with 'em. I was just fooling."

"I don't believe you," broke in Pepper.

Several surrounded the bully, so that he might not run away, and the
rowboat with Paxton and Mumps was turned back to the point from where it
had started.

"Let us make them prisoners," suggested Andy. "They ought to be taught a
lesson."

"That's the talk!" came the cry.

"I--I won't stand it," faltered Paxton.

"Then sit on it!" cried Pepper, and tripped the fellow up. While he and
Stuffer made Paxton a prisoner, the others attended to Dan Baxter and
Mumps. The prisoners had their hands tied behind them, and each had a
foot tied to the root of a big tree, the boys using sections of boat rope
for that purpose.

"Now let us finish our swim," said Jack, and drew his crowd to one side.

"What shall we do with them?" whispered Pepper.

"We ought to duck Paxton and Mumps," came the suggestion. "Baxter don't
need any more."

"Let us keep them bound up," said another. "They can look on while we are
feasting."

"That's the talk!" cried Jack. "It will make their mouths water to look
at us getting outside of the good things."

"And let us pretend that we're going to leave them tied up when we go
away," added Andy.

So it was arranged, and, this settled, the boys continued their swim and
then dressed at their leisure.

"See here, ain't you going to let us go?" asked Dan Baxter, after a long
spell of silence.

"Of course not," answered Jack. "We've decided to let you stay here until
Sunday night."

"Sunday night!" cried Mumps, in alarm. "I don't want to stay here all
night and all day tomorrow!"

"Don't get afraid, Mumpsy dear," came from Pepper. "There are not very
many bears around these parts now."

"Oh! one bear is enough!" And the sneak shivered.

"I'm not going to stay here until Sunday night," came from Paxton.

"Come, let us off, and maybe I'll call it square," said Baxter, in a more
reasonable tone.

"But we don't intend to call it square, Baxter," answered Pepper.

"Then you won't let us go?"

"No!" shouted the rest of the crowd.

After that the baskets were brought up and all the good things spread out
where Baxter, Paxton, and Mumps could see them. Soon the cadets were
eating and drinking to their hearts' content.

"Baxter, wouldn't you like a drink of soda?" asked Pepper, coming up with
a glass full of the beverage. "I don't like to be too hard on a fellow
student."

"Yes, I'd like a drink," grumbled the bully.

"All right then, you shall have one--as soon as you go down to Cedarville
and put up the necessary nickel at the store."

"Oh, go to thunder!" growled the bully.

"Can't I have a drink?" asked Mumps. "I'm as dry as a--a fish."

"Sure you can have a drink--but not of soda," said Andy. "I'll get some
water for all hands."

He disappeared behind the bushes in the direction of a spring. Soon he
came back with three glasses filled with water.

"Here's a drink for each," he said. "I'm not going to be too mean about
this. I know what it is to go dry."

He passed a glass to Pepper and one to Stuffer, and each of the cadets
held his glass up to the mouth of a prisoner. As Baxter, Paxton, and
Mumps were all dry, each drank eagerly.

"Hullo, what's this?" spluttered Paxton.

"Bah!" came from Baxter, spitting out the water. "It's full of salt!"

"This will make us drier than ever!" groaned Mumps.

"And I took several swallows," growled Paxton.

"So did I," added Baxter.

"To be sure it's full of salt," said Andy. "I thought you all needed it,
you're so fresh, you know."

"Be gorry, that's the bist joke yit," came from Emerald Hogan, with a
roar. "That's roight, Andy, me b'y, salt 'em down."

"I'll salt you down, Irish!" cried Baxter, in a rage. "Just wait till I
get back to the Hall."

After this the bully and his cronies asked for nothing more to eat or
drink, but they wistfully eyed the good things as the others disposed of
them. The salt made them fearfully dry, and each would have given a good
round sum for a glass of pure, cold water.

"Wonder if we can all get into that boat," said Jack, after the feast had
come to an end. "A row on the lake and back to the Hall would just suit
me."

"It will give us a little practice for those races," put in Pepper. "I
reckon we can manage it."

"Are you going to steal our boat?" demanded Baxter.

"It is not your boat--it belongs to the academy," retorted Jack. "We have
as much right to it as you have."

"Yes, but we had it first."

"You won't need any boat just yet," said Stuffer. "You're to stay here,
you know."

"No! No! don't leave us here," cried Paxton. "Let us go and--er--I, for
one, will call the whole matter off."

"Will you really!" said Pepper. "Awfully kind, I'm sure."

"If you don't let us go I'll tell on you," said Mumps. "The captain won't
stand for anything like this."

"What have you got to say, Baxter?" demanded Jack.

"You had better let us go," grumbled the bully. He did not fancy spending
a night in the dark woods.

"If we let you go, will you keep your mouth shut?"

"I haven't said that I would."

"All right, we'll leave you tied up."

"No! No!" came from Mumps, pleadingly. "Please don't do it! Dan, tell
them that you won't say anything."

"They won't dare to leave us," said the bully.

"Won't we?" said Jack. "Wait and see. Come on, fellows, put the baskets
in the boat and come on board."

"They are going to leave us," groaned Mumps, as the baskets were stowed
away and several entered the craft. "We'll have to stay here all night,
and I know it is going to rain! And there may be bears around! Peleg
Snuggers told me about a bear he saw once, on the road to Malville."

"Oh, don't be a calf, Mumps," interrupted the bully. "They'll all laugh
at you."

"I don't care, I don't want to stay, so there!" whimpered the sneak.
"Tell them you won't say anything."

"Well, good-bye!" shouted Jack, turning toward the rowboat.

He walked several steps, but then Baxter hailed him.

"Stop!" cried the bully. "Let us go. For Mumps' sake I won't say
anything."

"Very well. Remember, Baxter, that's a bargain. Are you agreed, Paxton?"

"Yes."

"And you, Mumps?"

"I shan't say a word--I promise, Ruddy."

Without another word Jack released the three prisoners. Then he ran for
the rowboat, leaped in and shoved off, and soon the craft was on its way
out into the lake.



                              CHAPTER VII
                      HOW THE BOAT RACES WERE WON


"Do you think they'll keep silent?" asked Stuffer, after the rowboat was
some distance from the shore.

"That's a problem," answered Jack. "Maybe they will--for their own
benefit."

"If they talk about it, the laugh will be on them," came from Andy.

"That was a fine dive of yours, Andy," came from Pepper. "You took them
by surprise."

"We would have been in a mess if they had gotten away with the baskets
and our clothes," said Stuffer.

"Sure, an do yez think they'd stale our duds?" questioned Hogan.

"They'd take everything--if they got the chance," answered Jack. "It was
lucky for us that Mumps fell and gave the alarm."

"What a calf he is!"

"Sneaks are generally of that sort," said Andy. "How I'd hate to have the
reputation he is gaining."

They looked back and saw Baxter, Paxton, and Mumps standing on the shore.
The bully shook his fist at them.

"He feels real friendly," said Andy. "I think he'd like to embrace us
all."

Soon the rowboat passed out of sight of that portion of the shore. Then
the craft was turned up the lake, and those who were to go into the boat
races during the following week took turns at the oars.

"Pepper pulls a fine stroke," said Stuffer. "He ought to win something."

"I believe Jackson and Perry will win the main races," said another
cadet. "They are bang-up oarsmen. They live on the Ohio River and have
had lots of practice."

"Well, I am going to do my best," answered Pepper.

"And so am I," added Jack.

The sun was just going down when the boys returned to Putnam Hall, tired
out but thoroughly happy. They cleaned out the boat and put it away, and
then went to their dormitories to wash up for parade.

"Hullo, look here!" cried Jack, as he got out his uniform. "Somebody has
been putting on my rank of office." And this was true, and the uniforms
of the other elected officers had been treated likewise. When the young
officers went below each received a shining sword, with a scabbard and
belt to match.

"We'll have to have our pictures taken," said Henry Lee, with pride, and
later on, this was done, and each officer sent one or more of the
photographs home, much to the parents' delight.

It must be confessed that Jack felt quite proud when he stepped out in
front of the battalion, sword in hand, and in his newly decorated
uniform. He saw his friends in the ranks and also saw his enemies. Baxter
looked as dark as a thundercloud, but did not dare to express his
feelings.

"That was very well accomplished, Major Ruddy," said Captain Putnam after
the drill was at an end. "I trust you keep the battalion up to such a
standard for the balance of the term."

"I shall do my best, sir," answered the youthful major.

"Ruddy seems to take hold with vigor," was George Strong's comment. "I
like to see a boy do that."

"His father was once in the army, and he has military blood in his
veins," answered the master of the Hall.

The boat races which have been mentioned were to come off on the
following Wednesday afternoon, starting at two o'clock. There were to be
four races, three among the students of Putnam Hall and the fourth race
with the students of Pornell Academy, situated a few miles from Putnam
Hall. Pornell Academy was an old institution of learning presided over by
a Dr. Pornell, who did not much fancy the coming of Captain Putnam to
that neighborhood.

"I hope we wax those Pornell fellows good," said Pepper. "They are a
proud lot, and they think we are nothing but the dust of the earth."

"The races between ourselves will show what we can do," answered
Singleton.

"Are you going to row, Stuffer?"

"To be sure I am."

"Well, I hope you win something."

The day was a cool, bracing one, an ideal day for boat racing, and
immediately after the midday meal the oarsmen turned out in force and the
lake front was alive with craft of various sorts. The races had been
talked of for two weeks and several sloops and a steam launch came up
from Cedarville bringing parties to view the contests. Some boats also
came from across the lake, and flags flapped gayly in the moderate
breeze.

The first race was a four-oared affair between the smaller boys, and much
to the surprise of everybody it was won by Mumps and a lad named Cathby.

"Hullo, I didn't know Mumps could row so well," cried Pepper.

"He comes from a town on the Hudson River, and was brought up around
boats," answered a cadet standing near. "His folks own several sailboats,
so I've been told."

"Well, he deserves credit for winning, even if he is a sneak," declared
Jack.

The next race was an eight-oared affair, between crews made of Stuffer,
Hogan, Blackmore, and a number of others already mentioned in these
pages. This was lost by the crew led by Stuffer.

"Stuffer had been eating too much," said Pepper. And the always-hungry
lad afterwards admitted that this was true.

The third race was a four-oared affair between Jack, Pepper, Andy, and
Joe Nelson on one side, and Paxton and several chums on the other. Baxter
had been expected to row in this, but fell out at the last moment,
stating he was not well. Privately, he was afraid of losing, for he knew
Jack and his friends were good oarsmen.

The race was for a mile, and at the discharge of a pistol both crews
started in fine shape.

"Go it, Paxton!" was the cry. "You can win if you try!"

"Pull, Pepper, pull!"

"Make every stroke tell, Jack!"

On and on swept the two boats, and for the first half of the course kept
side by side.

"It's going to be a tie race!"

"Pull, Paxton! Pull, Leeds!"

"See, Paxton's boat is going ahead!"

It was true--slowly but surely the craft went forward, until it was a
full length in advance. Jack, Pepper, and the others were doing their
best but the other boat continued to keep in the lead.

"I see a rope trailing behind!" cried Pepper suddenly.

"There it goes," added Andy. "It was caught on the bottom."

"All together, and give her tar!" shouted Jack, shutting his teeth hard.
"Pull, boys, pull!" And they did pull as never before.

But quarter of a mile of the race remained, and now Jack's boat was
crawling up to the rival craft.

"See, Paxton's boat is but half a length ahead!"

"They are tie again!"

"Pull, everybody, and may the best crew win!" came from a gentleman in
one of the sailboats.

"Oh, pa, I hope that last boat wins," cried a girl in the sailing craft,
a fine small yacht.

"So do I, Laura," came from a second girl.

"Why, Flossie?" questioned her father, with a smile.

"Oh, I don't know. They look nicer than the boys in the first boat."

"Really? You have sharp eyes, I must say." And then Mr. Ford, for such
was the gentleman's name, turned to the race once more.

Jack, Pepper, Andy, and Joe Nelson were working like steam engines, and
the same may be said of their opponents. On and on swept the two rowboats
toward the finish line. There was a wild yelling along the lake front and
from the various boats gathered around.

"Come, we must win!" shouted Joe Nelson, and seemed to suddenly wake up.
Jack and the others also renewed their exertions, and now their spurt
carried them a foot in the lead.

"Here they come!"

"Jack Ruddy's boat is ahead!"

"Paxton is crawling up again!"

It was true, the rivals were also spurting, and for a moment the two
craft were side by side once more. But Paxton's crew could not keep up
the terrific pace, and suddenly they fell back, and Jack and his friends
shot over the line winners by a full length.

"Hurrah! Jack Ruddy's crew wins!"

"It was a stiff race though, wasn't it?"

"It was, indeed!"

As soon as he saw that he had lost Paxton fell down in his boat and put
his hand to his side.

"What's the matter, Paxton?" asked George Strong, who was in a boat
nearby.

"Got a--a pain in--my--side," gasped Paxton. "It's the old trouble, sir."

"That's too bad."

"I--I could have won if--it--wasn't--for--that," went on Paxton.

"Possibly," returned the assistant teacher.

"He and his crew were beat clean and clear," whispered one of the cadets
nearby, and this opinion was the opinion of the majority who witnessed
the race.

When Jack and his crew landed at the boathouse a crowd surrounded them,
slapping them on the backs and shaking hands.

"It was well won!" cried Bart Conners. "But, say, wasn't there something
the matter with your boat at first?"

"Sure there was," answered Pepper. "Somehow, a rope caught fast to the
bottom. If it hadn't been for that I think we should have won with ease."

"I'd like to know how that rope got there," said Andy. But the mystery
was never explained.

Half an hour later the race came off between the Putnam Hall cadets and
the crew from Pornell Academy. None of our friends took part in this
affair, and to witness it to advantage Jack, Pepper, and Andy went out in
a small rowboat and stationed themselves near the course.

"There is that yacht that passed us while we were racing," observed Andy,
pointing the craft out. "See the girls who waved their handkerchiefs at
us."

"They look to be nice girls," said Jack. "Let us get a little closer to
the yacht."

"Hullo, Jack must be smitten!" came from Pepper.

"Nonsense!" murmured Jack, turning red. "I only wanted to see who the
gentleman was who is on board."

"I know him," came from Andy. "His name is Ford, and he has a fine estate
further up the lake. Somebody told me he was rich. Those girls must be
his daughters."

"I don't believe he knows much about handling a yacht," said the young
major. "See how he is bringing her around."

"Those girls want to be careful," came from Andy. "That boom may----"

Andy got no further, for just then the yacht swung around on another
tack. Around came the boom of the mainsail, hitting each of the girls on
the shoulder. Just then the yacht gave a lurch, and with a wild scream of
terror, the two maidens slipped over the craft's side and disappeared
beneath the waters of Cayuga Lake!



                              CHAPTER VIII
                        THE CADETS TO THE RESCUE


"They are overboard!"

"They'll be drowned!"

"We must save them!"

Such were the three exclamations that came from Jack, Pepper, and Andy as
Laura and Flossie Ford sank beneath the surface of the broad and rippling
lake.

"My daughters! My daughters!" came in an agonizing cry from Rossmore
Ford. "Save them! Save them! I cannot swim!"

"We'll save them!" shouted back Jack, and bent to the oars of the
rowboat, while Pepper did the same. Andy was in the bow, and stood up,
ready to dive overboard should it become necessary to do so.

The mishaps had occurred some distance away and it took nearly a minute
for the small craft to reach the locality. In the meantime both Laura and
Flossie had reappeared and were shrieking for help. Both could swim a
little, but not enough to keep up with all of their clothing and their
shoes on.

"Save them! Save them!" Mr. Ford continued to call out, and tried his
best to bring the yacht around again.

By the time the rowboat was at hand the girls had disappeared once more.
As quick as a flash Andy dove overboard, for he had caught a brief
glimpse of Flossie's dress.

"I see the other one, Pep!" called out Jack. "Keep the boat handy!" And
then he followed Andy into the water.

It was a long dive for Jack, but it brought him close beside Laura, and
soon he had hold of the girl and was bringing her to the surface. She
clutched him tightly, and he had all he could do to keep her from
shutting off his breath.

"Don't--don't hold so tight--you--you are safe," he gasped, when they got
their heads above water. "Here is a rowboat. I'll put you in that!"

"Oh!" murmured Laura. "Ple--please don't let me go down again!"

"I won't. Here's the boat. Now easy, Pep, or you'll tip over."

"I've got her, Jack," was the reply, and bracing himself in the rowboat,
Pepper hauled the young lady aboard.

"Where's Andy?" questioned the young major, looking around.

"I see him," answered Pepper, and a moment later Andy came up, holding
Flossie by the back of her shirt-waist. The girl was partly unconscious.

"Got tangled up in some wild grass on the bottom," spluttered Andy.
"Here, take her," and he held her up, and soon Flossie was resting on the
seats of the rowboat.

By this time several boats were coming up, including the steam tug
containing the judge of the coming race.

"They're safe!" was the cry. And this was re-echoed on all sides.

"Are they--they all right?" asked Rossmore Ford, in a faltering voice.

"Yes, sir."

"Thank God for that!" murmured the rich man. "Will you bring the rowboat
up here?"

"Better lower your mainsail first," suggested Pepper. This was done, and
soon the rowboat was alongside of the yacht, and then the girls were
passed up to the deck.

"Oh, dear, what has happened?" murmured Flossie, opening her eyes. She
gave a shudder. "I--we went overboard, didn't we?" And she gazed around
in wonder.

"Are you all right, Laura?" questioned the father.

"Yes, pa--but I--I don't want to fall overboard again," said the older of
the two sisters.

"Neither do I," put in Flossie. She was recovering rapidly. "It was the
boom struck us, wasn't it?"

"Yes."

"Let us get out of the crowd," whispered Jack. "The girls are all right
now."

"Just as you say," answered Andy. And they rowed away as rapidly as they
had come up.

"Hi! hi!" called out Rossmore Ford. "Wait! I want to thank you for what
you have done."

"Oh, that's all right, sir," called back Jack.

"Come back, won't you?" pleaded the rich man.

"We'll have to go back," said Andy, and once more the rowboat was turned
around, and presently they boarded the yacht and tied the small craft
behind.

"Are those young ladies safe?" asked the judge of the race, from the
steam tug.

"They are," answered Rossmore Ford.

"Good," and the tug soon after that moved away, and so did the majority
of the other boats.

"I owe you young gentlemen a good deal for saving my daughters," said
Rossmore Ford.

"I shall never forget what you did," put in Laura, with a bright glance
at Jack.

"You saved us from death," came from Flossie, and gave Andy a grateful
look.

"Your boom came around pretty lively," said the young major.

"Yes. The--er--fact is, I don't know as much about sailing a boat as I'd
like to," answered the owner of the yacht. "I'll have to be more careful
in the future."

He asked the cadets their names, and then introduced himself and his
daughters, and all shook hands.

"Pa, we'll have to go home and put on some dry clothing," said Laura.

"Gracious me, I never thought of that!" exclaimed the fond parent. "To be
sure--we'll go back at once. Do you wish to go along, young gentlemen?"

"I guess we had better stay behind and see the race," answered Jack,
after a questioning look at his companions.

"Yes, I presume you are greatly interested. I was interested myself."

"I hope your school wins," came from Laura.

"So do I," added her sister.

"You must give us a call some time," went on Rossmore Ford. "Our home is
up the lake--Point View Lodge we call it. We shall be glad to see you any
time."

"Thank you, perhaps we'll come up," said Andy, and the others said
practically the same. Then the cadets jumped into their rowboat once more
and the yacht went on its way.

"They are certainly nice people," was Pepper's comment. "You two fellows
are regular heroes for saving the maidens fair."

"Pooh! As if you didn't have as much to do with it as anybody!" cried
Jack.

"I didn't leap into the briny deep, as the novelists say."

"Briny deep is good," laughed Andy. "Why, the water isn't over twelve
feet deep around here."

"It's deep enough to drown in. If you don't believe it, stand on the
bottom and find out." And then there was a general laugh.

The race between the cadets of Putnam Hall and the boys from Pornell
Academy was now about to start. Crack! went the pistol and down into the
clear waters of Cayuga Lake went the oars.

"They are off!"

"And Putnam Hall leads!" came the cry half a minute later.

It was true, almost from the start Putnam Hall led by half a length. The
oarsmanship of the crew was perfect, and the lead was held for the first
half of the race.

"Oh, if only they can keep it up!" cried Pepper.

"Go it, boys, go it!" yelled Jack. "You've got to win!"

"Show 'em what Putnam Hall can do!" cried Andy.

On and on flew the two boats. Putnam Hall was still ahead, but only a few
inches.

"We're going to lose the lead!" cried Harry Blossom. "Too bad!"

"Are we?" came from Dave Kearney. "Not much! How is that for a spurt?"

As he spoke the captain of the Putnam Hall crew spoke to his fellows, and
in a twinkling the time of the stroke was increased. Straight to the
front leaped the boat, until the stern was even with the bow of the
rival's craft.

"They are going ahead!"

"Hurrah for Putnam Hall!"

"Pull, Pornell, pull! You've got to win!"

So the cries ran on and the crew of the Pornell boat did their best to
increase their stroke. But they could not overtake Putnam Hall and when
the line was crossed the latter was the winner by two lengths and a half.

A wild din went up. Horns tooted, rattles clacked loudly, and cheer after
cheer rent the air.

"That's the way to beat 'em!"

"Pornell wasn't in it from start to finish!"

"Better go home and learn to row!"

The rivals felt sheepish enough, and without loss of time they rowed
ashore and the members of the crew disappeared, followed by those who had
come from Pornell Academy to see them win.

"You have certainly done very well," said Captain Putnam, to the winning
crew. "Your stroke was almost perfect."

"And it was well kept up," came from George Strong. "I never saw a
prettier race in my life."

Josiah Crabtree had nothing to say, for he took no interest in sports.
But nobody paid attention to the crabbed teacher.

The races were followed by a general holiday time, in which nearly all of
the cadets participated. Only Dan Baxter and his crowd went away. They
departed for a deserted boathouse, and there sat talking and smoking
cigarettes.

"I suppose those fellows will have swelled heads after this," muttered
the bully.

"Sure," grumbled Paxton. "But I don't care. If they try to crow over
me----"

"What will you do?" asked Mumps.

"Never mind, I'll do something."

"And I'll help," came from the bully of the school. "We have got to take
them down a peg or two, or else they'll be running the whole Hall to suit
themselves."



                               CHAPTER IX
                         THE CHUMS MAKE A CALL


For a week after the races, matters at Putnam Hall ran along smoothly.
Captain Putnam insisted upon it that the students attend to their studies
and our friends pitched in with vigor, so that Jack stood first in his
class, Pepper third, and Andy fourth, which was certainly fine.

During that time Dan Baxter had a sharp "run-in" with the master of the
Hall, who gave the bully a stern lecture. As a consequence Baxter was
quite humble for the time being and did not risk doing anything to bring
him into further disgrace.

On a Tuesday morning Captain Putnam called Jack, Pepper, and Andy into
his private office.

"Gracious, I hope we aren't in for a lecture!" whispered Andy while on
the way.

"Have you been doing anything wrong?" asked Pepper with a wink.

"No, have you?"

"Not much. I had some flour yesterday and when I was upstairs old
Crabtree was in the lower hallway. Somehow the flour slipped out of my
hand and went down on Crabtree's head."

"Slipped is good!" chuckled Jack. "Did he spot you?"

"Not much! I had business elsewhere, and I dusted," answered his chum.

When they entered the office they found Captain Putnam awaiting them with
a smile and knew at once that everything was all right.

"I've received an invitation for you three lads," said the master of the
Hall. "It is from Mr. Rossmore Ford. He and his wife and daughters are
going to have a small gathering at their home this afternoon and evening,
and they would like you to be present. If you desire to go you may do so.
Mr. Ford is anxious to do something to show how much he appreciates what
you did for his daughters."

"Oh, I don't know----" faltered Andy, who was somewhat bashful.

"Let us go by all means!" cried Pepper. "I'm sure we'll have a good
time."

"I shouldn't mind going," said Jack. "They seemed to be real nice people,
and it would look strange to refuse."

So it was settled that they should go, and Captain Putnam said they could
take a horse and buggy from the Hall and make the journey to Point View
Lodge and back in that.

"And remember to be back by eleven o'clock," said the master of the Hall.

They were to start at two o'clock, and immediately after dinner they
rushed up to their dormitory to get ready. It was a rule of the
establishment that cadets must wear their uniforms when going out on such
occasions and they brushed up as never before, and put on their best
collars, cuffs, and shoes.

"Jack is sprucing up for the girls," observed Pepper, with a wink at
Andy.

"I'm sprucing up for the credit of the Hall," retorted the young major.
"And you must do the same."

When they went down to the barn, Peleg Snuggers had the horse and buggy
ready for them, and the utility man told them of the road to take to get
to Point View Lodge.

"Mr. Ford is a swell gent," said Peleg Snuggers. "Ain't no more swell
gent in these parts."

"Any danger of his bursting?" queried Andy.

"Is he a land swell or a sea swell?" questioned Pepper.

"You young gents know wot I mean," answered the utility man. "He's
rich--got millions."

"Phew!" murmured Jack. "Boys, we'll have to put on swell airs!"

"Peleg, won't you lend me a diamond for my shirt front?" asked Andy.

"Ain't got no diamond."

"Maybe you'll lend us a gold watch," suggested Jack.

"Oh, you stop a-jokin' me," cried the utility man. "How am I to git
diamonds an' gold watches on twenty dollars a month, answer me that now?"

"Oh, we know you're rich, Peleg," said Pepper. "Some day you'll buy out
the Hall and give us free board, eh?" And then the boys drove off,
leaving Peleg Snuggers standing grinning after them.

"Boys is boys, an' allers will be!" murmured the man of all work. "Bless
'em all, say I."

The road to Point View Lodge was somewhat rough and they had to drive
along with care. In some spots the trees overhung the road completely,
making the way rather dark.

"It will be no mean drive getting back," said Andy.

"We've got a lantern, and we can drive slow," answered Jack. "We ought to
start for the Hall by half-past nine o'clock."

At last they reached the Lodge, located on a point of the lake shore.
There were elegant grounds, filled with shrubs and flowers, and a fine
mansion with broad piazzas. Off to one side was a large summerhouse and
to the other a barn and sheds.

"This is fine and no mistake," murmured Jack. "See, there is quite a
crowd here, too."

A stable-hand took care of their turnout, and soon Rossmore Ford and his
stately wife came to greet them. Then the girls came also, and there were
warm handshakings all around.

"I am very, very thankful for what you did for Laura and Flossie," said
Mrs. Ford. "I want you to make yourselves at home here, and I trust you
have a good time."

"It's a splendid place," said Andy.

They were introduced to a number of the guests, including several young
men from Pornell Academy, and then Laura and Flossie took them around the
mansion and grounds, showing them various points of interest. The girls
were bright and lively and soon succeeded in making them feel perfectly
at home.

"I see you have several students from Pornell here," said Jack to Laura,
when they had drifted a short distance away from the others.

At this Laura frowned slightly.

"Yes. We did not expect them. They came to make a call."

"Oh, I see."

"One of them, Roy Bock, knows some of my mother's people, and he comes on
that account and brings those others with him."

"He seems to be making himself at home."

"Yes, he acts as if he owned the place. Flossie and I do not like them to
come, but mamma doesn't like to say anything, and pa is away most of the
time."

They took a ramble through the garden and into a conservatory, and Laura
gave Jack a big rose for his buttonhole, while Flossie got roses for Andy
and Pepper. These had just been pinned on when Roy Bock appeared,
followed by three of his fellow students from Pornell Academy.

"So here you are!" cried Roy Bock, loudly. "We were wondering what had
become of you. Spooning, I suppose?" he added, coarsely.

"We were showing our friends around the grounds," said Laura, quietly.

"I just heard you were the chaps that pulled the girls out of the lake,"
said a student named Grimes.

"Oh, anybody could have done that," came from another, named Gussic.

"I suppose anybody could have rowed that race, too," said Jack, sharply.
The manner of the rival academy boys was very obnoxious.

"Oh, I heard how your school won that race!" cried Flossie, her eyes
beaming.

"I guess our school didn't have a fair show," growled Roy Bock. "The
Putnam Hall crew started before the pistol went off."

"That is not true!" exclaimed Pepper. "The start was a very fair one."

"Humph! Of course you'd say so," grumbled the student named Gussic.

"I say so because it is true."

"I reckon all you fellows have the swelled head now," put in Grimes. "But
just wait till the football match comes off--we'll show you a trick or
two."

"Oh, please don't quarrel here!" whispered Laura, in a frightened tone.
"If you get Roy Bock mad, he'll say all sorts of mean things."

"We've got to go back now," said Bock. "We'll call again some day--when
these fellows ain't around. We don't want anything to do with chaps who
cheat at boat races."

"Bock, some day I'll make you take back those words," said Jack, hotly.
"But we are guests here, so I'll say no more."

"Bah! I'm not afraid of you," growled Roy Bock, and then he strode off,
followed by his fellow students. Soon they left the house, on the
buckboard that had brought them to the Lodge.

"Oh, how thankful I am that they are gone," said Flossie. "Do you know, I
am getting afraid of Roy Bock!"

"He's a--a--puppy," said Andy. "Excuse the word, but I can't describe him
in any other way."

"I think he is very mean," came from Laura. "I wish he would keep away
for good."

"His companions are about as bad as he is," said Pepper. "They seem to be
all tarred with the same brush."

"They are always together," said Flossie. "They always come here in a
bunch and stay and stay. It's a wonder they didn't invite themselves to
dinner. And then, so I've been told, they tell their fellow students that
we urge them to come, and that they can't hardly get away from here!"

There were one or two other young folks present, and all had a good time
until dinner was served. The repast was an elaborate one, and our friends
did it full justice. Then came some music and a few games, and all too
soon it was time for Jack, Pepper, and Andy to leave.

"We've had a boss time!" cried Pepper, enthusiastically. "Excuse the
French!" he added, meaning the slang.

"Couldn't have had a better!" added Jack.

"It was real nice of you to ask us to come," put in Andy.

"We have enjoyed your company," said Laura, and Flossie said the same.
Then Mr. and Mrs. Ford asked them to call again.

"You must come down to our school," said Jack. "On Saturdays we give a
special drill."

"And Jack, you know, is our major!" said Andy.

"Oh, pa, we must see the drill by all means!" cried the two girls.

"Well, we can drive over some day," answered the fond parent.

It was quarter to ten when the boys left the grounds in the buggy. The
lantern was lit and hung over the dashboard, yet it did not light the
road very well, and they had to proceed with care.

"This isn't so nice," observed Andy, when they were in a black portion of
the woods. "Supposing some tramps or highway robbers should pounce out on
us?"

"Andy must have been reading some trashy five-cent library," laughed
Pepper. "I caught Link Smiley reading one the other day, and I had to
laugh at all the hair-breadth escapes the so-called hero had."

"Excuse me, but I'm not giving up my good nickels for such rot," answered
Andy. "Good books are too plentiful. But it is dark and no mistake."

"I see a light ahead!" interrupted Pepper. "Perhaps a carriage is coming
this way."

They drove slowly, and presently came up to where the light was resting,
on a limb of a tree. Just as they were opposite to the lantern, eight
masked figures leaped out from behind the bushes.

"Stop!" was the command. "Don't you dare to drive another step!"



                               CHAPTER X
                       IN THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY


"What are we up against now?"

"Are these fellows tramps?"

"Are they going to rob us?"

Such were a few of the questions which Jack, Andy, and Pepper asked when
they found themselves confronted by the eight masked figures on the
lonely forest road. Each of the masked persons was armed with a stout
stick.

"Stop, do you hear?" came from one of the crowd, and stepping forward, he
caught the horse by the head.

"What is the meaning of this?" demanded Jack.

"It means that you must consider yourself prisoners," was the cold reply.

"Prisoners!"

"Yes."

"Who are you?" queried Pepper.

"That remains for you to find out. Step down out of that carriage and be
quick about it."

"Perhaps we won't step out," said Andy.

"If you don't, you'll get hurt."

"I know them!" shouted Jack. "They must be Pornell students. Roy Bock, I
know your voice."

"I am not Roy Bock," was the answer, in a disguised voice.

"You are. What are you going to do with us?"

"We are going to give you a lesson," growled Roy Bock, for it was really
he who had spoken. "Come down out of that buggy!"

As Bock spoke one of the boys leaped forward and secured the whip and two
others pulled away the reins. There was no help for it, and Jack, Pepper,
and Andy had to leap out. They were at once surrounded.

"This is a pretty high-handed proceeding," said Jack, in a steady voice.
"Don't you know we can put you in the hands of the law for it?"

"Bah!" growled one of the masked students. "You don't know us."

"Perhaps we do."

"We know Bock, and Grimes, and Gussie," put in Pepper.

"None of them here," said one of the Pornell boys. "You are on to the
wrong crowd entirely."

"Maybe this is a Baxter trick!" whispered Andy to his chums.

"No, it's a Roy Bock trick, I am sure of it," returned Jack. "He is mad
because we cut him out with the Ford girls."

Our friends were led to a small grove not far from the roadside. Here a
camp-fire was burning, and they were forced to kneel while the enemy
stood around with their sticks upraised.

"We want you to make a solemn promise," said one of the masked students.

"What promise?" demanded Jack.

"You have no right to visit Point View Lodge."

"Ho! I thought so!"

"All of you must promise not to go there again."

"I'll not promise," cried Jack.

"Nor I," added Pepper.

"Count me out too," came from Andy. "Why should we stay away?"

"You won't promise?" asked several.

"No!" came in unison from our three friends.

"Then you'd rather suffer, eh?"

"We don't intend to suffer!"

"Quit talking and take them to the lake, fellows!" growled one of the
masked students. "They'll sing another tune after they have been ducked
three or four times."

"So you are going to duck us?" said Jack.

"Such is our intention."

"It's a mean trick."

"You can save yourself by promising to steer clear of Point View Lodge in
the future."

"Supposing we are invited there?"

"You can plead a previous engagement."

"I'll not do it," said Andy.

"Nor I," came from Jack and Pepper.

"To the lake with them!"

In spite of their resistance, our three friends were hurried through the
woods, to a point where there was a small cove of the lake. Here a bent
tree overhung the water and here were several ropes.

"We'll tie them by the hands and feet and then duck them good," said Roy
Bock.

"We must escape!" whispered Jack to his friends. "When I give the word
cut for it, and cut lively."

"All right," they answered.

"I'd rather be ducked than make any promises," said Jack, loudly. "But I
want to tell you fellows something. We have friends, and some day we'll
get square. The people--Gracious sakes alive! What is that, fellows?
Look, it's coming this way! It must be a mad bull!"

As Jack broke off short and pointed with his hand, all of the masked
students looked in that direction. Then Jack gave Pepper and Andy the
signal, and side by side they dove into the woods and ran towards the
road.

"They are gone!"

"It was a trick, to get us to look away!" roared Roy Bock. "Come on after
them!"

"If you come after us now we'll shoot somebody!" cried Andy. They had no
firearms, but he thought he might scare their enemies.

"Do you think they will shoot?" questioned one of the masked boys, a lad
who was timid by nature.

"No, I don't," answered Grimes. "Come on!"

"We don't want to get hurt----"

"Come on, it's all right!" And then the crowd went after Jack, Pepper,
and Andy pell-mell.

But our friends had gained a good start and they made the best possible
use of their time. They leaped over the rocks and small brush-wood, and
presently caught sight of the lantern, still hanging over the dashboard
of the buggy.

"Hullo, what's this?" cried Pepper, as he stumbled over something.
"Bicycles, I declare, four singles and two tandems!"

"They must have come to this spot on their wheels," answered Andy.

"I've got an idea--we'll take a couple of the wheels along! Then somebody
will have to walk home!"

This was agreed to, and in a trice they had hoisted two of the bicycles
into the buggy. Then they got in and urged the horse forward.

"Stop!" came from behind. "Stop!"

"They have two of our wheels!" came in alarm, a moment later. "They are
driving away with them!"

"Give us back our bicycles!"

"Not to-night!" shouted Jack. "If you want them, come to Putnam Hall
to-morrow and get them!"

"This is the worst yet!" growled Roy Bock, whose wheel had been taken.
"We must catch them if we can."

"Yes, let's do our best," returned Grimes, whose wheel was likewise
missing.

The rest of the boys mounted their wheels and tried to follow the buggy.
But the road to Putnam Hall was much rougher than that to Pornell
Academy, and soon they had to abandon the pursuit.

"We made a mess of it," said Gussic. "They have the laugh on us."

"I don't feel like going to Putnam Hall for my wheel," said Grimes, with
a downcast look on his face.

"No more do I," answered Bock. "But what are you going to do about it?"

"They'll be sure to tell the Ford girls of this, and they'll have the
laugh on us."

"If they do that, I'll punch somebody's head," grumbled Roy Bock.

As soon as they were sure the Pornell students had given up the pursuit,
those in the buggy slackened their pace, and re-arranged the bicycles
they were carrying.

"We surely turned the tables on them that time," laughed Jack. "I don't
think they'll stop us again in a hurry."

When they reached Putnam Hall they placed the bicycles in care of Peleg
Snuggers.

"An' where did you get them machines?" demanded the general utility man.

"They belong to a couple of Pornell boys. We picked 'em up on the road,"
answered Jack.

"I'll wager a tomato you got into a scrap," said Peleg, with a grin.

"If we did, we didn't get the worst of it, Peleg," said Pepper.

"I don't reckon you did. Most on the boys at Putnam Hall knows how to
take care o' themselves."

Our friends were curious to know what the Pornell students would do about
their wheels. Two days passed, and then a hired man from the Academy
appeared with a wagon, and a note for Jack. The note was unsigned and
read as follows:

  "Please return the two bicycles per bearer, and we will call the whole
  thing off."

"That's short enough," said Pepper, after Jack had read the note aloud.
"What are you going to do?"

"Let them have their wheels. It wouldn't be honest to keep them."

"Let us send a note in return," suggested Andy.

"I have it!" cried Pepper, and without delay he wrote out the following:

  "In the future beware and keep off the grass.

                                                   "Committee of Three."

"That's short and to the point," said Jack. The note was sent with the
bicycles; and that was the last seen or heard of the Pornell boys for
some time to come.



                               CHAPTER XI
                        A GREAT GAME OF FOOTBALL


Once more the days glided by peacefully. Autumn was now well under way,
and the leaves of the trees were turning to crimson and gold. Boating
became almost a thing of the past, and talks about football filled the
air.

With the coming of the football season Dale Blackmore was in his element.
Not only was Dale a good athlete, but it was speedily learned that he had
been captain of a good amateur football team in the town he hailed from,
and that the team had in one season won nine games out of twelve.

"Dale is the man for our team," said Jack, and by a popular vote the lad
was made captain. There was a slight opposition by Dan Baxter but this
quickly subsided.

As soon as he was made captain, Dale set to work to organize as a good a
team as Putnam Hall could produce. He tried fully thirty cadets and then
selected fifteen--eleven for the regular team and the balance as
substitutes. On the regular team were Jack, Andy, Hogan, Bart Conners,
Henry Lee, and others already mentioned in these pages. Pepper was a
substitute, and he was willing enough to take a "back seat" as he called
it.

"Now we have got to get into practice," said Dale, "and it's to be no
baby play either." And every day the team went out on the playground to
practice. Dale made a good coach, and soon had the boys doing finely. He
was assisted by George Strong, who had himself played football on his
college team.

It had been expected that Pornell Academy would play Putnam Hall. But the
Pornell students were sore over their boat-race defeat and they insisted
that a false start had been made. The discussion grew warm on both sides,
and so the scheme for a football match for that year fell through,
although matches between the two schools were played later, as I have
already mentioned in certain volumes of the "Rover Boys Series."

"Those Pornell fellows are a sore lot," said Jack. "I suppose they felt
sure they'd win that boat race."

"They are going to play the Rigsby Football Club next Saturday," said
Andy. "Dale just told me."

"I thought we were to play Rigsby," put in Joe Nelson.

"We are, some time later."

The Rigsby Football Club was controlled by a rich gentleman named Rigsby
who had an elegant place outside of a nearby city which I shall call
Mornville. The team was composed largely of college boys and played
exceedingly well.

The game between the Pornell Academy and the Rigsby Club attracted a
large crowd to Mornville, and half a dozen students from Putnam Hall
journeyed to the town, to see what sort of a game was being put up.

"We must catch all the pointers we can," said Dale. "It may help us in
our playing."

The Pornell Academy made a fine showing during practice, but when the
game started it was quickly found that the Rigsby team was too heavy and
too clever for them. In each half of the game the Rigsby Club made a
touchdown and a goal, and when the contest came to a close the score
stood, Rigsby 12, Pornell Academy 0.

"That's as bad as the boat-race defeat," said Pepper. "They must feel
sick."

"Those Rigsby chaps are heavy and full of ginger," said Dale, seriously.
"We'll have no picnic playing against them."

When our friends were coming from the football grounds they fell in with
half a dozen Pornell students.

"Fine day, Bock!" called out Pepper, cheerily. "Good day for playing
football, eh?"

"Oh, you needn't crow!" growled Roy Bock. "Just wait till Rigsby waxes
you--you won't feel so happy."

"Maybe they won't wax us."

"Won't they!" put in Grimes, who was along. "The score will be about 50
to nothing in Rigsby's favor."

"Wait and see," said Jack, quietly; and then the students of the two
schools separated.

After this game the team of the Hall practiced harder than ever, and
George Strong taught them several useful plays. So the days went by until
the eventful day for the match arrived. The game was to come off on the
Rigsby grounds, and the students from Putnam Hall went over in the stage,
the carryall, and in carriages and on bicycles.

At first Dan Baxter said he was not going, but when he heard how the
Rigsby Club had defeated Pornell Academy he changed his mind.

"The Rigsby Club is sure to beat Dale Blackmore's crowd," said he to
Paxton and Coulter. "Let us go over there and see the drubbing
administered."

"All right, I'm willing," said Coulter. "Maybe we can pick up a little
money in bets." And when they arrived on the football grounds all of
Baxter's cronies as well as the bully himself put up money that Putnam
Hall would be beaten.

"I just heard Baxter is betting against our club," said Andy, coming in
with the news.

"How mean!" cried Jack. "To bet against his own school! I don't believe
in betting, but if I did want to lay a wager, I'd do it on my own
school."

"That's just how I feel about it," put in Pepper. "Well, I hope now, more
than ever, that we win."

It was a fine ground, with a beautiful stand and nice dressing rooms for
both clubs. Mr. Rigsby himself was at hand and shook each of the visitors
by the hand.

"Play for all you are worth, boys!" he said, cheerfully. "I want the best
club to win!"

"We are going to do our best, sir," said Dale, modestly.

The halves were divided into thirty-five minutes each, and soon the first
half was on. It was Rigsby's ball and they sent it twenty yards into
Putnam Hall territory. The Rigsby fellows were exceedingly active, and
inside of ten minutes they scored a touchdown and immediately afterwards
kicked a goal.

"Hurrah for Rigsby! That's the way to do it!" was the cry.

"Putnam Hall will be defeated worse than Pornell Academy was!"

When the touchdown and goal were made Dan Baxter grinned at Paxton and
his other cronies.

"What did I tell you?" he whispered. "This is a dead easy thing for
Rigsby."

"You're right," answered Paxton. "Wish I had another fiver up on them."

"Let us do a little more betting," said Mumps, who had just a dollar of
his spending money left.

They walked into the crowd, and after some trouble managed to place what
money they had left on the Rigsby team. Then they hurried back to their
seats. The first half of the game was drawing to a close.

"Another touchdown for Rigsby!"

"Hurrah! Now for a goal!"

"There she goes! A goal, sure enough! How do you like that, Putnam Hall?"

With the score 12 to 0 the two teams went at it again. But hardly had the
leather been put into play when the whistle blew and the first half came
to an end.

"We are up against it sure, this trip," sighed Andy. "They can play
like--like tigers!"

"They are too heavy for us, that is certain," said Dale. "We must depend
upon our lightness and our quickness if we want to win anything at all."

The brief intermission was soon at an end, and once more the two teams
faced each other. The Rigsby followers cheered wildly while the students
from Putnam Hall gazed expectantly.

It was soon seen that Dale's team was not playing as before. There was
little mass work, and the ball flew from player to player with great
rapidity. This did not suit the Rigsby team, and they made several errors
and lost some ground thereby.

Hardly had the second half been opened than Joe Nelson got the ball. He
passed it to Hogan, who sent it to Andy. With a wild leap over a Rigsby
player, the acrobatic youth went flying down the gridiron with the
leather clutched in his arms.

"See Andy Snow running with the ball!"

"Stop him, Brown! Stop him, Callahan!"

"Cut him off, Sturmen!"

So the calls rang out and several started in pursuit of Andy. But just as
they thought they had him he let the ball drop, gave it a swift kick, and
over the bar sailed the leather.

"Hurrah! What a beautiful kick!"

"And on a dead run, too!"

"Putnam Hall is waking up!"

The cadets cheered wildly and unfurled the flags they had brought along,
while some tooted their horns.

As soon as possible the ball was put into play once more. This time it
went far up into Putnam Hall territory, and it looked as if Rigsby would
score once more, when Hogan got the ball.

"Not just yit, me laddybuck!" muttered the Irish cadet, and started in
the opposite direction. He made twenty yards before he was downed and the
ball went to Joe Nelson, who carried it another ten yards. Then Dale
landed on it through a fumble by Rigsby, and took it over the line for a
touchdown. A moment later there was a trial for a goal, but it failed.

"Never mind, it's a touchdown, anyway!" shouted the Putnam Hall
supporters.

With the score 12 to 9 against them, Putnam Hall went again at the
battle. They had exactly seven minutes in which to do or die, and the
excitement all over the field was now intense. Among the anxious ones
were Baxter and his cronies.

"They can't win anything in seven minutes," argued Paxton, somewhat
gloomily.

"There it goes!" cried Mumps. "See, Rigsby has the ball!"

"They are going to score again!"

It certainly looked like it, but at the last moment Dale got the ball and
sent it back. Then it went from player to player so rapidly that the
Rigsby players could not follow it. At last Jack had it and he ran with
might and main for a touchdown--and got it!

"Whoop! Hurrah! Putnam Hall wins!" was the cry.

The goal was kicked, and the ball went again into play. But before it
could be moved ten yards time was called; and the match came to an end.
Putnam Hall had indeed won.



                              CHAPTER XII
                       HAPPENINGS AFTER THE GAME


"What a splendid game!"

"Say, but didn't the Putnam Hall boys pull themselves together in that
second half!"

"They surely did! I never saw such running in my life!"

"And such dodging, too! They deserve their victory!"

So the talk ran on. Both Captain Putnam and George Strong came up to
congratulate the team members.

Dan Baxter and his cronies were utterly downcast. Between them they had
lost sixteen dollars and a half, and now some of them would have to do
without spending money for a long time to come.

"I guess those Rigsby chaps didn't want to win," growled the bully. "They
went all to pieces in the second half."

Jack was talking to Andy and Pepper when Laura and Flossie Ford came up
with smiling faces.

"Oh, it was just splendid!" cried Laura.

"I just had to scream for you!" added Flossie. "I was terribly anxious at
first! Those Pornell boys were sure you'd be beaten."

"Well, we have disappointed them," said Jack. "I guess we could beat
them, too."

"Why, of course. See how they were beaten by Rigsby," said Flossie.

"Have you been bothered by Roy Bock lately?"

"Only once. Then he came and talked against you, and pa told them--Roy
and those others--they had better stay away."

"Good!" said Pepper, and told of the meeting in the woods. The girls
laughed heartily when they heard how the bicycles had been taken.

"We are coming to see the drill next week," said Laura. And they did
come, and were entertained to the best of our friends' ability. They
thought the drill and parade fine, and complimented Jack on the way he
handled the cadets.

As a substitute player, Pepper had gotten into the second half of the
football game, so he came in for a portion of the glory, even though he
had made no brilliant plays. That night the boys celebrated by a bonfire
and by singing and "larking" on the campus until eleven o'clock.

"Captain Putnam, let them have their sport," said George Strong. "They
certainly deserve it." And the captain took the advice of his assistant.
Josiah Crabtree took no part in the proceedings, but locked himself up in
his room and read. To his mind, all sports were just so much time wasted.

On the following day one of the students brought in news that interested
all of the cadets. A circus was to stop at Cedarville, and the boy had
brought one of the handbills along.

"This looks as if it might be a pretty good show," said Pepper, after
reading the handbill. "Andy, let's go if we can."

"Don't think the captain will let us off," answered Andy.

"We can sound him anyway," put in Jack.

The master of Putnam Hall was appealed to, and finally said the big boys
could go to the circus if they wished, but all must promise to behave
themselves.

"To be sure we'll behave ourselves," said Jack.

"But we must have a little fun," came from Pepper, with a wink at his
chums.

"Better keep out of mischief," put in Andy. "If you don't, the captain
will put the screws on us, and we won't get anywhere after this."

The circus soon became the chief topic of conversation, and it was
ascertained that twenty-one of the older cadets were going. Dan Baxter
"stuck up his nose" at the affair.

"Don't catch me going to such a one-horse affair," he said, with a sneer.
"When I go to a circus it's only to the best."

"We can get along very well without his company," was Jack's comment,
when he heard what the bully had said.

On the following day Jack and Pepper walked down to the lake shore and
then up to a spot where a large tree overhung the water. It was sunny and
fairly warm, and the two cadets took a seat in the tree to chat and rest.

They had been sitting there less than five minutes when the young major
uttered a cry of surprise.

"What is it, Jack?"

"Unless I am mistaken, there is that mysterious sloop again!"

"Where?"

"Up the lake! She is coming this way, too."

"Let us keep out of sight and see if we can discover anything."

This was agreed to, and from behind the boughs of the tree the two boys
watched the strange craft as it approached the shore where Putnam Hall
was located.

"The same two men are on board!" whispered Pepper.

"Yes, and they are acting as they did before, too," added Jack. "Pep, I'd
give a good deal to know what their game is."

"So would I. Let us lay low. We may learn something."

Slowly the mysterious sloop approached the shore and sailed past the
Putnam Hall grounds. The men on board looked eagerly toward the academy
buildings, and then went up the lake a short distance. A few minutes
later they came back, and lowering the mainsail, drew close to shore, a
short distance from where Jack and Pepper were in hiding.

"Perhaps our trip will be in vain again," said one of the men to his
companion.

"They cannot all be in vain," was the answer. "Some day we shall be
successful."

"Are you going to land?"

"Yes. But stand ready to sail when I come back."

So speaking, one of the men leaped ashore and stole behind a fringe of
bushes. From that point he made his way up to a spot back of the
gymnasium, and then walked completely around Putnam Hall, taking care to
keep out of sight of the cadets who chanced to be roaming about.

"He acts as if he was a robber!" whispered Pepper.

"I don't think a robber would come here in broad daylight."

It was quite a while before the man came back. As he boarded the sloop
again, his face showed his disappointment.

"Well?" questioned his companion.

"Another disappointment," was the answer. "Let us go. We may have better
luck another time." And without another word the two men hoisted the
mainsail of the sloop and sailed away across Cayuga Lake.

"Well, of all the odd things I ever heard of!" murmured Pepper. "If I
wasn't sure I was wide awake I'd say I was dreaming."

"They are after something," answered Jack. "The question is, what? I'm
rather sorry we didn't call Peleg Snuggers and capture that fellow who
came ashore. Perhaps Captain Putnam could get something out of him."

"Shall we go to the captain again?"

"I don't know. Perhaps he'll think we are only fooling him."

They talked the matter over, and decided to say nothing more for the
present. They watched the sloop until it disappeared from view, and
returned to the school building.

The day for the circus dawned bright and clear, and directly after the
midday meal the long stage belonging to the Hall was brought out and the
boys who were going to the show piled in. They were in charge of George
Strong, and many carried small flags and horns.

"Hurrah for Wildman's Great International Circus!" cried Pepper. "Largest
Aggregation of Wild Beasts on the Globe! See the wild man from Samoa, and
the elephant-faced monkey from Greenland! All for the one price of
admission, twenty-five cents--quarter of a dollar! Walk up, crawl up,
tumble up, anyway to get up, ladies and gentlemen! Children half price,
babies no price at all. If you don't get your money's worth, ask the
manager to refund your hard-earned savings! The show will be started at
exactly seventeen minutes past fourteen o'clock. The audience must come
dressed in uniforms befitting the occa----"

"Stop! stop!" cried Jack. "Pepper, you'll have us wound up before we're
started."

"All clocks are wound up before they are started," retorted the Imp.
"Don't you go on a strike though, if you do----"

"He'll be so shamed that, like the clock, he'll hide his face behind his
hands," finished Andy. "Call it off, as the young lady said of the
caterpillar."

"You'll have to be just a little less enthusiastic, young gentlemen," put
in George Strong. "We don't want this stage-load to be taken for the cage
of monkeys, you know." And then the crowd settled down, Peleg Snuggers
whipped up the four horses, and off they rattled for the circus grounds,
located on the outskirts of Cedarville.

When they arrived they found the tents in position, and a goodly crowd
assembled. There were the usual side shows and the usual stands with
peanuts, popcorn, and pink lemonade. There was also a man with a little
gambling game, surrounded by a score of countrymen who thought they could
win, when they were certain to lose.

"Looks as if it might be a pretty good show," remarked Andy, after the
chums had entered the tent devoted to the menagerie, and he was right.
The animals were not many in number, but they had been selected with
care, and George Strong explained just what each was to those under his
guidance.

"There is a particularly fine tiger," said he, pointing the beast out as
it paced up and down its narrow cage. "He looks as if he'd enjoy his
liberty."

"And he looks as if he'd like to chew some of us up," put in one of the
students, and this created a laugh.

It was soon time for the circus proper, and all obtained good seats. One
act after another passed and was applauded, for all were very good. Then
came a chariot race, to wind up the performance. This was in progress
when there came a shout from the menagerie tent.

"Stop the monkeys! They have broken loose!"

"Hullo, what's that?" cried Pepper. "Somebody said the monkeys were
loose!"

"If they are there will be fun!" murmured Jack, and he was right. But how
much fun he was still to see.



                              CHAPTER XIII
                        THE CIRCUS, AND A MONKEY


The chariot race soon came to an end, and the cadets passed into the
menagerie tent once more. Here there was considerable excitement. By
accident the monkeys had opened the door to their big wagon cage, and
fully a dozen of the little creatures were missing. One monkey had
climbed into a cage containing two lions, and the kings of the forest had
made a meal of the wanderer in double-quick order.

"Here's fun truly," said Pepper. "Wish I could catch one of the little
beggars!"

"You'd have your hands full, if Mr. Monk was of the biting kind,"
returned Dale.

They watched the circus employees trying to catch two of the monkeys, and
then passed outside. One of the monkeys had climbed clear to the top of
the flagpole on the circus tent and a crowd of children were watching him
with keen delight.

"He's the king-pin acrobat of the show!" cried Jack. "I don't believe
anybody will dare go after him," and so it proved. But the monkey soon
came down when shown some peanuts, and was then placed back in his cage.

"He didn't know what to do with his liberty after he got it," was Andy's
comment. "It's a wonder he didn't take to the woods."

"More than likely he was born in captivity and didn't know what liberty
meant," came from Joe Nelson. "I knew some folks who had a tame canary.
For an experiment they took the bird to the woods and opened the cage
wide. Close by the cage was a brook, and by the side of this they put the
canary's bath tub full of water. Would you believe it, the canary always
came back to his cage to roost, and instead of dipping himself in the
brook, took his bath in his old tub!"

"Which showed what habit would do," said another pupil. "He didn't know
anything different."

The boys were soon in the stage, and Pepper took his seat on the rear
step, the stage itself being crowded.

"Don't fall off, Master Ditmore," said George Strong.

"No fear, you can't lose me so easily," replied the fun-loving youth, and
said this so merrily that everybody had to laugh.

The stage was going along at a good gait when Pepper happened to look
under the turnout and saw a sight that made him open his mouth wide in
astonishment. There, on the bar running from the front to the back axle,
sat a little monkey, gazing around in wonder, with his face screwed up
into a curious pucker.

"Well, I declare!" murmured Pepper to himself. "Have you been hiding
there ever since we left the circus grounds?"

As soon as the monkey saw that he was discovered, he gave a little
squeak, and hopped a few inches away. Then he looked at Pepper in added
curiosity, as much as to say: "What do you want to do with me?"

"You're a cute little chap," thought the cadet. And then of a sudden he
broke into a grin. What fun might be had if he could capture that monkey!

"I'll do it," he told himself, and feeling into his pocket, he brought
out a few peanuts. As soon as the monkey saw these he came closer,
snatched one of the nuts, and proceeded to crack it open.

"Don't you want to come into the stage, Pep?" called out Andy. "We'll
make room for you."

"Oh, I can stay here," was the answer. "It's like a private seat, you
know." And then, when he got the chance, he whispered: "I've got a reason
for remaining here, but keep mum!"

"What's doing?"

"I'll tell you afterwards."

On and on rattled the stage, the boys singing and tooting their horns to
pass the time. The monkey did not appear to mind the noise, and evidently
enjoyed the ride. Luckily a slight shower the night before had laid the
dust, otherwise both Pepper and the monkey might have been smothered.

At last they came in sight of the Putnam Hall grounds, and then Pepper
realized that something must be done. He held out some more peanuts, and
when the monkey reached for them, he caught the animal and held him fast,
pushing him inside his jacket. Then Pepper knocked off his own cap into
the road.

"Hi! there goes my cap!" he called out, and leaped to the ground. "Don't
wait for me," he added. "I'll walk the rest of the way."

"Pep has lost his cap!" cried several.

"Never mind, it's only a step to walk," came from some others.

"I'm going to walk in with him," said Andy, and leaped to the ground,
followed by Jack. As the three were known to be chums, nothing was
thought of this, and in a moment the stage disappeared around a bend.

At first Pepper had his hands full holding the monkey, and he was afraid
he was going to be bitten. But as Jack and Andy came up the creature
quieted down.

"Well, I declare!" ejaculated the young major. "Where did you get the
monk?"

"He was on the stage," explained Pepper. "Say, help me make him a
prisoner, will you?"

"Sure," came from the others, and soon the monkey had a cord tied around
his waist. As this was nothing new to him, he submitted without much
trouble, and when given half a dozen more peanuts and a bit of candy Andy
carried, seemed quite content.

"What are you going to do with him?" questioned Jack.

"Introduce him to old Crabtree," was Pepper's answer.

"Just the thing!" ejaculated Andy. "Let's put him in Crabtree's room
to-night!"

"That's what I was thinking, Andy."

"There will be some fun when the monk begins to roam around."

After some talk, the boys decided to enter the school by the back way.
Jack went ahead to see that the coast was clear, and soon they had the
animal safe in dormitory No. 4, over which the youthful major presided.
Then Andy found an empty bird cage in the storeroom of the Hall, and his
monkeyship was transferred to this.

The evening was a long one to the boys, but it finally came to an end,
and they retired. Then, when all the lights were out, Pepper and Andy
stole through the darkened hallways to the door of Josiah Crabtree's
room. Listening intently, they heard the first assistant teacher snoring
peacefully on his bed.

"Is the door unlocked?" questioned Andy.

"Yes."

No more was said, and Pepper hurried back for the bird cage containing
the monkey, and also for an old school-book he had brought up from below.

Opening the door with caution, they took the monkey from the cage and
placed him at the foot of Josiah Crabtree's bed. Then they hurried to the
doorway once more, and went outside.

"Wait!" whispered Pepper, and taking aim, he sent the book flying at
Josiah Crabtree. Then the chums scampered for their dormitory with might
and main.

The book landed on Josiah Crabtree's somewhat bald head, and he awoke
with a start and sat up.

"What in the world was that?" he muttered. "Is the ceiling falling down?"

He stared around him. The moon was coming up, and it cast considerable
light into the apartment. He saw a dark object moving around.

"Hi! What's that?" he called out. "Scat!"

Thinking it might be a cat, he made a wild pass at the monkey. At once
the frisky animal caught him by the finger and gave him a nip.

"Oh, oh!" roared the teacher. "He has bitten me! Take him off! Help!
Robbers! Help!" And he flung the bedclothes aside and began to dance
around.

At the excitement of the man the monkey also became excited, and leaped
upon the top of a bookcase in a corner, which contained some volumes
belonging to the teacher. Down came a bust on the bookcase with a crash.
Then the monkey took up a book and flung it at the man.

"Stop! stop!" roared Josiah Crabtree. "Don't! Help! There is a wild beast
in the room!" And he ran around, with the monkey following. Presently the
animal leaped on his shoulder, and then Josiah Crabtree let out a yell as
if a dozen wild Zulus were on his track.

The noise aroused the whole school. Doors were flung open, and teachers,
hired help, and cadets came forth into the hallways.

"What's the trouble?"

"Is there a fire?"

"I heard somebody say robbers!"

"It's Mr. Crabtree!" shouted Pepper. "Somebody must be trying to rob him.
Come on, let us catch the thief!" And on the instant the cadets stormed
forward, towards the teacher's apartment, and George Strong and Captain
Putnam followed.

"Oh, dear! Scat, I tell you! Let me alone. Don't pull my hair! Oh, will
somebody take him away!" came from the room. "This is simply awful! Who
put this beast here?" and so the cries ran on.

"Something is surely wrong," cried Captain Putnam. "Stand back, young
gentlemen, or you may get hurt."

He flung open the doorway, and as he did so, Josiah Crabtree, robed in
his nightdress, leaped out, with the monkey on his shoulder.

"Have you gone crazy?" asked Captain Putnam. And then he added: "Where
did that monkey come from?"

"How should I know?" roared Josiah Crabtree. "Take him off! He'll have my
hair out by the roots!"

"What a pretty monkey!" cried Pepper. "Is he your pet, Mr. Crabtree?"

"My pet? Never! Take him away!" And the teacher continued to dance
around.

Several darted in to secure the monkey, but like a flash the animal
leaped to a fixture suspended from the ceiling, and then swung himself to
a hall window and slipped outside.

"He has gone!"

"Let us catch him!"

"Whose monkey is it?"

"He must have come over from the circus," said Jack. "They said a lot of
them had gotten away."

"I'll sue the circus proprietor for this!" howled Josiah Crabtree. "It's
an outrage on the public. Oh, my poor head!" And he ran back into his
room, banging the door behind him.

"Has the monkey gone?" asked Captain Putnam.

"Went through the window," answered Joe Nelson.

They looked out of the window, but could see nothing of the animal. Then
some went below, but the monkey had disappeared. He was captured in the
morning and returned to the circus by Snuggers.

"Young gentlemen, you may retire," said Captain Putnam, and one after
another the cadets did so. Safe in Dormitory No. 4, Pepper told his whole
story, and the boys had a laugh that lasted for a long time.

"Old Crabtree won't get over that right away," said Andy. "What a sight
he did cut, with Mr. Monk on his shoulder pulling his hair!"

"Mum's the word about this," came from Pepper. "If he found me out he'd
be mad enough to chew my head off."

"Well, we are not telling on you," came from one of the others. "We are
glad you fixed old Crabtree. He deserves it."



                              CHAPTER XIV
                           ALL ABOUT A TIGER


"Oh, it's awful, gents, really it is! As soon as I heard the news, it
made my knees shake like they was made o' jelly! Whatever are we goin' to
do, with sech a wild animal as thet roamin' the roads, I'd like to know?"

It was Peleg Snuggers who was speaking. He had just returned from an
early morning trip to Cedarville with the monkey, and was addressing a
little knot of cadets standing just outside of the parade ground.

"Better git in the school," he went on. "It won't be safe to go outdoor
no more. Ain't it awful, though?" And he shook his head solemnly.

"What is the trouble, Snuggers?" questioned Captain Putnam, who chanced
to come up and saw how disturbed his hired man was.

"It's about thet tagger as was at the circus, sir," said Snuggers.
"Somehow or other, he broke loose last night--knocked some o' the bars
out o' his cage. An' they ain't found him yet."

"A tiger broke loose?" queried the captain, and now he was intensely
interested. "Who told you of this?"

"Mr. Chase, sir--an' some circus folks. Cedarville is wild with
excitement, an' none o' the folks dare to go outdoors. They say he's a
powerful tagger an' mighty ugly."

"He certainly was a big tiger," said Jack, who was in the crowd. "I
shouldn't want to fall in with him."

"Maybe he is coming this way," suggested one of the smaller students,
looking around nervously.

"Excuse me from meeting a tiger," said Mumps, and without another word he
walked into the Hall and to his classroom.

The news spread with the rapidity of lightning, and to be on the safe
side, Captain Putnam ordered all of the boys into the school and had all
the lower windows and doors closed.

"This is certainly exciting enough," said Joe Nelson. "Supposing the
tiger takes it into his head to camp out around here? None of us will
want to go out any more."

"Oh, they are bound to either catch him or shoot him, sooner or later,"
answered Jack. "But just the same, I don't want to run afoul of that
beast. He looked strong enough to kill half a dozen of us."

The excitement was intense, and nobody dared to venture far from the
Hall. The cadets kept a constant watch; but nothing came of it.

"They must have news of the beast by this time," said Captain Putnam on
the following morning. "I'll drive down to Cedarville and find out."

"Oh, dear captain don't do that!" shrieked Mrs. Green, the housekeeper.
"If you meet him he'll eat you up!"

"I'll risk that," returned the master of the Hall, grimly. "I'll take my
rifle with me, and also my seven-shooter. If I see the tiger I'll try to
give him a warm reception."

"You--you--er--don't want me to drive you, do you?" asked Peleg Snuggers,
in a trembling voice. "I--er--I ain't well this morning. I had a--er--a
dreadful backache all night, an' a headache, an'----"

"You won't have to drive, Snuggers. I'll take the buggy and drive
myself."

"It's flyin' in the face of Providence," came from Mrs. Green. "Better
wait a day or two longer."

"No, I'm going now. Hitch up Black Bess, Snuggers. She is a steady mare,
and won't run away even if the tiger does show himself."

The mare was hooked to the buggy, and Captain Putnam looked carefully to
his rifle and his old army revolver. The excitement of the occasion was
just to his liking. It put him in mind of his days in the wild west, and
he half wished the escaped tiger would show itself so that he might get a
shot.

"The captain certainly has grit," remarked Jack, as the master of the
Hall drove away.

"I shouldn't mind going with him," came from Dale. "I like hunting."

"Well, this isn't ordinary hunting," put in Andy. "It's the wildest kind
of game to bring down."

As soon as the captain was out of sight all began to wait anxiously for
his return. The cadets could scarcely settle themselves to their studies,
and more than one failed utterly in his lessons.

"This is wretched!" cried Josiah Crabtree, wrathfully. "I shall keep all
of you in after regular hours!" He had not gotten over his adventure with
the monkey, and was feeling more sour than ever.

"We can't forget the tiger," said Andy.

"The tiger is not here," snapped the crabbed teacher. "Attend to your
lessons."

"Oh, what a teacher!" murmured Jack.

"I'll fix him," whispered Pepper. "Wait till he passes that open window
again."

A moment later Josiah Crabtree walked by the window in question. His back
was toward it, and on the instant Pepper arose and pointed at the
opening.

"Hi! Is that the tiger?" he cried, shrilly.

At the words Josiah Crabtree sprang a foot into the air and dodged into a
corner. All of the cadets leaped to their feet.

"Did--did you--see the tiger?" questioned the teacher, faintly.

"Where's the tiger?" roared several boys.

"Must be trying to come into the window," shouted Andy, catching the
spirit of the joke.

"Ke--ke--keep him ou--ou--out!" spluttered Josiah Crabtree. "Do--don't
let him get in here!"

"It is gone now," said Pepper. "Must have been something else!" And he
winked broadly at his friends, so that none of them might be alarmed.

"Are you--you sure, Ditmore?"

"Yes, sir."

"This is awful!" murmured Josiah Crabtree, wiping the cold perspiration
from his forehead.

"Oh, we can study anyway," murmured Pepper.

"Eh?"

"It won't hurt our studying, Mr. Crabtree. You can watch for the tiger
while we do our sums."

"Silence!" roared the crabbed teacher, but after that he said little
about the poor lessons.

By noon Captain Putnam came back, and the cadets at once surrounded him
to learn what he might have to tell.

"I saw nothing of the tiger," said the master of the Hall. "A number of
parties went out after him yesterday, and one crowd discovered the beast
near the lake. They fired on him and he started to swim away. They think
he must have been drowned, although they have not yet located the body."

"Hope he was drowned," said Pepper.

The matter was talked over for the balance of that day, and also the
next. Then came in news that the circus people were also certain the
tiger had gone to the bottom of Cayuga Lake, and everybody breathed
easier. The circus moved southward, and soon the excitement died down
completely.

Our young friends had not forgotten the Fords, and having received
another invitation to call at the mansion at Point View Lodge, they set
off one afternoon as soon as they could get away.

"I hope we don't have another encounter with those Pornell Academy
fellows," said Jack, as they drove along in the buggy the captain had let
them have. "One such mix-up was enough."

"I guess they haven't forgotten how they fared on that occasion,"
returned Andy. "They promised to call it off, if you'll remember."

"So they did, but I shouldn't take their word for it," put in Pepper.

They arrived at the Ford mansion without mishap, having met absolutely
nobody on the road. Laura and Flossie were there, and also Mrs. Ford and
a niece from Rochester, and all did what they could to make the time pass
pleasantly for the boys. They played croquet and lawn tennis, and went
out for a short row.

"You boys can certainly handle the oars," said Laura, with a sunny smile.
"I wish I could row half as well."

"It's practice that does it," answered Jack. "Now, all of you girls can
play croquet better than we can."

The party of girls and cadets was just returning to the house when they
heard a loud scream coming from the direction of the road running to
Point View Lodge.

"Hullo, what does that mean?" cried Jack, stopping short.

"Somebody is in trouble!" came from Andy.

"Help! save me!" was the cry. "Save me! I'll be eaten up alive!"

"Something is wrong, fellows. Come on!" ejaculated Jack, and ran forward,
catching up an oar as he spoke. The others followed, one with another
oar, and Andy with a boathook. They were just in time to see a colored
woman, who was the cook at the mansion, flying into a side door.

"I see what's up!" exclaimed Jack, pointing down the road. "It's the
tiger!"

"The tiger!" echoed Pepper, and all of the girls set up a scream.

"Yes, there he is--crouching by the side of yonder tree."

"I see him!"

"So do I," put in Andy. "Quick, girls, get into the house before he comes
this way!"

"Come in! Come in!" roared the colored cook. "He'll eat you all up!"

As fast as they could the girls ran for the mansion, entering by a back
door. The cadets followed. Looking back they saw the tiger moving slowly
from the vicinity of the tree to a clump of bushes on the lawn.

"He is certainly coming this way," called out Jack.

"He is moving for the house, too!" put in Pepper. "There he goes around
to the kitchen door!"

Pepper spoke the truth. The tiger had reached the back door. Now he
bounded up the small stoop, and a second later entered the kitchen of the
mansion.



                               CHAPTER XV
                       PRISONERS OF A WILD BEAST


As soon as they could do so the three cadets ran into the side door of
the mansion. They found the girls on an upper landing, gazing down
anxiously.

"Is the tiger coming?" called down Laura.

"Yes, he's in the kitchen," answered Jack.

"The kitchen!" gasped Mrs. Ford, who had come out of the library.

"Oh, save me, somebody!" came from the rear of the mansion, and the
butler appeared, with his hair almost on end. "A wild beast, mum--roaming
the pantry, mum," he spluttered.

"Better go upstairs, all of you," said Jack, as he heard the tiger leap
upon a table.

"Dat's where I'm a-goin'," said the cook, and ran to the top of the
house, followed by the butler, where both locked themselves in their
rooms.

The girls and Mrs. Ford were soon on the second floor of the mansion, and
the three cadets followed.

"Shut all of the doors tight, Mrs. Ford," said Jack. "For all we know, he
may take it into his head to come upstairs."

Following Jack's directions, the doors were closed, and the family
gathered in a large room in the front of the mansion.

"Whatever are we to do?" questioned Laura, helplessly.

"Well, we can stay here," answered her sister. "That is what I am going
to do for the present."

"Where is Joseph?" asked Mrs. Ford. The man she mentioned was the
gardener.

"He has gone to town to have the lawn mower repaired," answered Laura.
She turned to Jack. "Oh, isn't this dreadful!"

"Have you got anything in the way of a gun or a pistol, Mrs. Ford?"
questioned the young major.

"My husband keeps a pistol in his bedroom. I can get it for you."

"Please do so."

"Are you going to risk going after the tiger?" asked Andy.

"A pistol won't fetch him," put in Pepper. "He looks as tough as a
boarding-house steak."

"I want to investigate, and I'll feel safer with the pistol," answered
Jack.

The weapon was soon brought and the young major saw that it was ready for
use. It looked as if it might do considerable damage.

"Keep all the doors but this one shut," said Jack, and then tiptoed his
way into the hall once more. He looked down the stairs and along the
lower hallway, but could see nothing of the tiger.

"How are you making out?" questioned Pepper, coming out behind him with a
bed slat.

"Don't see anything yet."

Andy came out into the hallway also, and the three listened intently. All
was quiet outside and not a sound came from the lower floor of the
mansion.

"Perhaps he went outside again," whispered Andy. "It wouldn't be natural
for him to stay indoors. Tigers love to roam the forest, and lay in wait
for----"

"I hear him!" interrupted Pepper. "Hark!"

All listened again, and now they could hear the creature moving from the
kitchen into the library, and then to the parlor. A discord on the piano
followed.

"Hullo, he is trying the piano!" cried Pepper, and grinned. "Maybe he'll
play us a waltz!"

From the parlor the tiger roamed into the library, and then showed his
head in the hallway for an instant. But before Jack could take aim the
beast had disappeared.

"He is making himself at home," muttered the young major. "Wish I could
get a chance at him."

"Here he comes again!" cried Pepper, and at that moment the tiger came
out into the hall and turned partly around.

Jack had his pistol ready, and taking a quick aim, he pulled the trigger.
There was a flash and a report, in the semi-dark hallway, and the tiger
gave a snarl of pain. Then he glanced up the stairs, glared at the
cadets, and came up four steps at a time.

"Into the room, quick!" yelled Jack, and blazed away twice in rapid
succession. The tiger was struck in the fore leg, and came to a pause
close to the top of the stairs. Jack fired one more shot, then followed
his chums into the room, and the door was closed and locked.

"Did you hit him?" queried several, in concert.

"I certainly did, but I don't know how badly he is wounded. Mrs. Ford,
have you any cartridges for this pistol?"

"Yes," answered the lady of the mansion, and brought forth a box half
full. Without loss of time, Jack filled up the empty chambers of the
pistol.

"He is snarling outside of the door!" cried Laura. "Oh, do you think
he'll try to break down the door?"

Before anybody could answer there came a wild snarl, and then a thump on
the barrier that almost took the door from its hinges.

"Better get into the next room," called out Pepper. "He'll break in here
if he can."

"Let us move the bed against the door," suggested Andy.

The bed was a large affair, of solid mahogany, and would prove an
excellent barrier, but before it could be rolled into position there came
a crash, and the tiger's head appeared through a portion of one of the
door panels.

Crack! crack! went the pistol in Jack's hand, and as quickly as he had
appeared the tiger disappeared, with a wound in the jaw and another along
the left ear.

"Guess that will teach him to keep his distance," said the young major.

"He is going to the front of the house," cried Andy.

"The upper veranda! He is going out on the upper veranda!" cried Mrs.
Ford.

"He'll come through the windows!" burst from Flossie's lips. "Let us go
to another room, mamma!" And the girls and their mother did so. Andy and
Pepper looked inquiringly at Jack.

"A few more shots ought to make him tired of living," said the young
major.

"Let me try the pistol on him," came from Pepper, and having secured the
weapon, he peeped out into the hallway. The tiger stood at the front end,
gazing at the upper veranda and beyond.

Pepper was not an extra shot, but the bullet took the tiger in the left
hind knee, and made him utter a fierce snarl. He leaped out on the
veranda, and then made another leap into the branches of a nearby tree.

"He has taken to the tree!"

"Let me give him a shot too," pleaded Andy, and having received the
pistol, he awaited his opportunity, and blazed away, hitting the beast in
the side. There was a snarl, and the tiger fell to the grass, rolling
over and over in evident pain.

"Good!" cried Jack. "That's one of the shots that told! Give him another,
Andy!" and the cadet did so.

"What's all this shooting about?" came from the roadway, and Mr. Ford
appeared, in company with his gardener. "Gracious! Where did that tiger
come from?" he added.

"It's the one that got away from the circus the other day!" called down
Jack. "Look out, there may be some fight left in him yet, although we
have peppered him pretty well."

"Throw down the pistol and I'll finish him," said the gentleman.

"Let us finish him, won't you?" pleaded Pepper.

"All right, you can do so."

All three of the cadets went down the front stairs with a rush, while the
girls and Mrs. Ford came out on the upper balcony. Pepper fired one shot,
Jack a second, and Andy a third. The last was too much for his tigership,
and with a final quiver he rolled over, stretched out, and lay dead.

"Is he--he dead?" asked the gardener cautiously.

"I think so," answered Mr. Ford. "But don't go near him yet--he may be
shamming."

They waited a few minutes, and then Jack went up carefully and made an
examination.

"Dead as a barn door!" he called out. "My, what a big fellow he is!"

"Are you certain he is dead?" faltered Laura.

"Yes," answered her father.

"Are there any more of them?"

"He is the only one that got loose," answered Pepper.

Thus assured, the girls and Mrs. Ford came downstairs, followed later by
the butler and the cook. The latter was still trembling.

"Thought we was goin' to be eat up suah!" said the cook.

"It was a great happening, sir," said the butler. "I can't abide wild
beasts, sir, not me!"

"You ought to have the skin of this tiger," said Jack to Mrs. Ford. "It
would make a fine rug."

"Yes, mamma, let us have the skin by all means," pleaded Laura. "We can
have it fixed up with the head on, and it will look beautiful!"

"I'll have to see the circus people about it," came from Mr. Ford. "Tell
me how he happened to come here." And then all told their stories, to
which the gentleman listened closely.

"I'm so glad these young men were here," said Mrs. Ford. "Had we been
alone, I do not know what might have happened."

The tiger was dragged to a carriage shed by the gardener and the boys,
and then the cook was sent off to get dinner ready. It was found that
outside of eating up some steaks, drinking a pan of milk, and breaking a
few dishes, the tiger had done no damage. Every bullet aimed at him had
taken effect, and there were also two old wounds on him, in the leg and
side.

"He must have gotten these old wounds when he leaped into the lake," said
Mrs. Ford. "But it was a mistake to report him drowned."

"I don't know as I ever want to meet another tiger at large," said Andy.
"They are too dangerous!"

"Yes, Snow," answered Mr. Ford. "You can all be thankful that he did not
get at you. If he had, he might have made mince-meat of one or another in
no time."



                              CHAPTER XVI
                          OFF ON A LONG MARCH


When the boys returned to Putnam Hall and told about their adventure with
the tiger, they were proclaimed genuine heroes.

"You certainly deserve a great deal of credit," said Captain Putnam.
"Just the same, had I known the tiger was still at large, I should have
kept you at the Hall."

Later on, the circus authorities were communicated with, and from them
Rossmore Ford obtained the skin of the beast, and had it prepared, with
the head on, for a rug; and it is in his mansion on the floor to this
day.

The cadets of Putnam Hall were now getting ready for an outing to last
several days. Before winter set in, the captain wished to give them a
taste of camp life, and so decided to make a march to a beautiful valley
some twenty miles away. Here the boys were to go into camp for two
nights, returning on the next day.

"That is what I'll like!" exclaimed Stuffer Singleton. "No lessons to
study. Only to march, get up an appetite, and eat!"

"Especially eat!" said Andy. "That hits Stuffer every time."

"We're to go on army rations," put in Pepper, with a wink at his chums.
"Pork and beans, and hard-tack."

"No!" exclaimed Stuffer in alarm. "Who told you that?"

"Why, everybody knows it," put in Andy.

"We'll see that you get all the hard-tack you want, Stuffer," went on
Pepper. "The captain won't want you to go hungry, you know."

"I don't want any hard-tack," growled Stuffer, in disgust. "I thought
we'd get the same kind of feed as we get here." The march had suddenly
lost all of its interest for him.

"Better take some private rations along," suggested another cadet. "A
loaf of bread, or some dried herrings, or----"

"Oh, you're joking!" exclaimed the boy who loved to eat. "I'm going to
ask Mr. Strong," and off he ran, while the others set up a loud laugh.

It was a cool, crisp morning when the battalion started. The cadets made
a fine showing in their clean, neat uniforms, with buttons and buckles
polished to the last degree. Major Jack was at the head of the column,
and he was certainly proud of his position, and had a right to be.

"Shoulder arms, forward, march!" was the command given, and the drums
sounded out, and the column moved off. A few people were present to see
them march away, and these gave a cheer.

"Ain't no nicer school in these United States!" exclaimed Peleg Snuggers,
enthusiastically. "Them boys is the real thing, right straight through!"

"An' nice boys, too," added Mrs. Green. "God bless 'em, every one!"

For the first mile the route was along the lake shore. Then the battalion
turned to the westward, and were soon pursuing a road that wound in and
out among the hills. The cadets passed through several small villages,
and the inhabitants came out to gaze at them in wonder, while the small
boys set up a cheer.

One of the villages had just been left behind, when those in the front of
the line of march heard a loud tooting from an automobile horn.

"Here comes one of those big autos," said Pepper. "Say, it's coming at a
spanking gait, too."

"Hope it gives us plenty of room," came from another cadet. "I don't like
to meet those big machines, when they are going at a twenty-mile clip."

The automobile was coming around a turn of the road, and soon it was
almost on top of Company A. The cadets were marching on the right side of
the road, but the automobile crowded them closely.

"Hi, there, keep to your side of the road!" shouted Jack.

"Go to Halifax!" growled the man who was running the machine, a big burly
fellow, with a red face.

"If you don't keep to your side of the road there will be trouble,"
answered Jack, sharply, and then the young major commanded the battalion
to halt. He was in sole charge, Captain Putnam and his assistants having
gone ahead to arrange for dinner.

"Look here, young fellow, you can't bulldoze me, even if you are in
soldier clothes!" stormed the man, bringing his machine to a standstill.

"Never mind, Carl!" pleaded a lady who sat on the rear seat of the
automobile. "Let us go on."

"I want him to understand he can't bulldoze me, Annie."

"I am not trying to bulldoze you, sir," answered Jack. "We are entitled
to half the roadway, and we are going to have it."

"Feel big, don't you?" sneered the automobilist.

"Are you going to give us half the road or not?"

"Give them what they want, Carl!" pleaded the lady.

"I can't give them half the road," growled the man. "I'm not going to run
my wheels into the soft ground for anybody. I might get stuck."

"You can give us half the road and not get stuck either," returned Jack.
He knew a little about running an automobile himself.

The machine was standing almost in the middle of the road. Somewhat to
the right was a puddle of water, and had the cadets marched around the
machine, they would have had to go directly through the wet spot.

"Do you expect us to march through that puddle?" demanded the young
major, after a pause.

"You can break ranks and go around the other way," answered the man. He
evidently wanted to make as much trouble for the young soldiers as he
could.

"We are not breaking ranks for that purpose." Jack's face was growing
white. "I'll give you just two minutes in which to get out of the road.
Now be quick, and move on!"

"Ho! do you intend to dictate to me?" growled the man, but looked just a
bit anxious.

For reply the young major got out his watch. At the same time he turned
to the two companies behind him.

"Support arms!" was the command. "Fix bayonets!" And at the last word the
cadets drew their shining bayonets from their scabbards and fastened them
to their guns.

"Oh, Carl, do move to one side!" cried the lady, in terror. "They are
going to charge on us!"

"Hi! hi! don't you charge!" yelled the man. He knew only too well what
bayonets could do to the rubber tires of his automobile.

"Time is up," called out Major Jack. "Are you going to get to your side
of the road or not?"

"Wait--I'll try it," grumbled the man, and turning on the power, he moved
to one side, and passed the two companies with ease. Several made
imitation charges on his rubber tires as he passed, much to his alarm.

"What a brute!" was Andy's comment, as the cadets moved on once more. "I
suppose he wanted the whole road to himself."

"A good many folks who own autos forget that other folks have rights on
the road which they are bound to respect," answered Joe Nelson. "If they
had their way, they'd ride over everything and everybody that came
along."

A short distance further on, the battalion came to another village, and
here the young soldiers stopped for dinner. Without loss of time Jack
reported to Captain Putnam.

"I am sorry you had trouble," said the owner of the Hall. "You did right
to demand half the road. If you have more trouble, let me know."

Dinner was had under some large spreading chestnut trees. It was plain
but wholesome, and the long morning march had given everybody a good
appetite.

"Are you enjoying your hard-tack, Stuffer?" asked Pepper, with a wink at
the always-hungry cadet.

"Humph! I knew you fellows were only fooling," was the answer.

At two o'clock the march was resumed, and kept up until half-past five.
They had now reached a spot known as Squire's Grove, and here tents were
pitched in true military style. Big fires were started, and the cadets
had their first taste of camp life.

"Say, but I'd like about a month of this," was Andy's comment, after each
cadet had been assigned to his quarters.

"Perhaps we couldn't have some fun!" put in Pepper. "As it is, I'm going
to try for some fun to-night."

"Right you are, Pep."

The air was so cool in the evening that the cadets were glad enough to
gather around the big camp-fires. They told stories, and sang songs, and
all too quickly came the hour to turn in.

As Captain Putnam wanted the students to learn what real military life
was like, each cadet was assigned to two hours of guard duty during the
night. As soon as he heard of this, Pepper learned where Mumps would be
stationed, and then called Andy to one side.

"Did you hear that ghost story Dale was telling?" he questioned.

"To be sure I did. It fairly made some of the younger lads tremble."

"Did you notice how scared Mumps was?"

"Yes."

"Well, Mumps is going to see a ghost to-night, Andy."

"How do you know?"

"Because we are going to fix one up for him," and then Pepper unfolded a
plan that had just entered his head. It met with instant approval, and
soon the two boys started to carry it out.

Taking a tree branch they wrapped it up in a white sheet, and on the top
placed a white duck cap, making the whole look like the ghost of a cadet
while at a distance. Then they took this out of camp, and placed it at
the end of a strong cord, running up over the limb of a tree. The figure
was pulled up among the branches, out of sight, and this done they sought
out Mumps.

"Say, Mumps, was it you told the fellows that a cadet was once murdered
around here?" questioned Pepper, innocently.

"Murdered?" returned the sneak of the school. "No, I never heard of it."

"They say a cadet was murdered at this place about four years ago, and
that if you watch for it, you can see his ghost among the trees."

"Ah, you can't scare me," returned Mumps.

"I'm not trying to scare you. I thought you told the story yourself," was
the answer, and then Andy and Pepper strolled on.

"He'll remember that, I'll wager," whispered Pepper.

"We'll know better when he goes on guard," answered Andy, and then they
waited impatiently for the time to come when they could work off their
little joke on the sneak.



                              CHAPTER XVII
                           MUMPS SEES A GHOST


As luck would have it, Pepper and Andy went on guard from ten o'clock to
midnight, while Mumps had his time set from midnight to two in the
morning.

As soon as they came in from guard duty, Pepper and Andy told a few of
their chums of what was in the air, and they all stole from their tents
to a spot overlooking the ground that Mumps would have to cover during
the next two hours.

The sneak was already on duty, pacing up and down slowly, with his gun on
his shoulder. He had to march from one tree in the grove to another, a
distance of two hundred feet.

As the sneak passed the tree where the white figure was concealed,
Pepper, who was close at hand, uttered a low and unearthly groan.

At once Mumps came to a halt.

"Wh--what's that?" he faltered.

For reply Pepper uttered another groan, and Andy followed with a sound
like that of a dying calf.

"I say, what's that?" repeated the sneak. All was so dark and strange
around him that he felt anything but comfortable.

"Murdered!" moaned Pepper. "Murdered!"

"Murdered!" put in Andy, in a solemn tone. "Oh, to be avenged!"

Then when Mumps' back was turned Pepper allowed the white figure to drop
to within a foot of the ground. As it was light in weight, the breeze
made it sway slowly from side to side.

"Ha! ha! ha!" came from Andy and Pepper together.

At this blood-curdling laugh the sneak of the school turned around once
again. When he saw the swaying figure in white his teeth began to
chatter.

"Oh! Ple--please go--go a--away!" he groaned. "G--go away!"

"Ha! ha! ha!" went on Pepper and Andy. "Down on thy knees, if thou
wouldst live!"

"Don't!" screamed Mumps, and fell on his knees. "Oh, please, don't kill
me! I--I didn't have anything to do with killing that other fellow,
indeed I didn't!"

"Thou art doomed!" went on the Imp and his chum.

"Doomed! doomed! doomed!" came from half a dozen. All of the cadets could
scarcely keep from laughing.

"Oh, save me!" yelled Mumps, and sprang to his feet. "Save me! Save me
from the ghost!" And throwing down his gun he started for the center of
the camp, with all the speed at his command.

The other cadets set up a laugh, but the sneak was too paralyzed with
fear to pay attention to it. Still yelling for help he ran down the main
street of the camp, and plunged into the tent occupied by Captain Putnam.

"Hullo, what's the trouble?" came from Captain Putnam.

"Oh, the ghost! Please save me from the ghost, Captain Putnam!" howled
Mumps, and clutched the master of the Hall by the arm. "Save me! The
ghost is going to kill me!"

"Why, Master Fenwick, what is the trouble? Have you a nightmare?"

"No, sir. It's the ghost of the murdered cadet! I--I saw it. It came
after me! Oh, save me!"

"Nonsense! You have seen no ghost. Be reasonable."

"I did see it, sir. It was all white, and it was going to kill me!" And
the sneak clung tighter than ever.

"This is some trick." The captain slipped into his clothes, and turned up
a lantern hanging on a tent post. "I'll investigate. Come along."

"Oh, I--I'm afraid!" whined Mumps.

"You need not be, Fenwick. I'll protect you. Come along. There are no
such things as ghosts."

It was fully five minutes before Captain Putnam could get the sneak to
accompany him to the spot where the latter had been doing guard duty. In
the meantime the whole camp had been aroused, and Pepper and Andy had
folded up the sheet and put it away, along with the cap and the cord.

"You can see for yourself that there is nothing here, Fenwick," said the
captain, gazing around.

"But I saw it, Captain Putnam. A tall white figure, right there."

"You must have been dreaming."

"No, sir, I saw it, I am certain."

"Well, where is it now?"

"I don't know, sir."

An investigation was made, but, of course, nothing out of the ordinary
was brought to light.

"You had better go back to your duty, Fenwick," said the master of the
Hall at last.

"Oh, sir--supposing that ghost comes again?"

"Run up and catch hold of it. You'll likely find it some joke the other
cadets have played on you," and Captain Putnam smiled broadly.

"A joke!" Mumps looked interested. "Do you think it was a joke?"

"More than likely."

"Oh, but it looked so real!"

"A ghost can't look real. You have been deceived. Go back to your duty,"
and the master of Putnam Hall returned to his tent, and Mumps resumed his
guard duty, with a heart that trembled every time he took a step.

"Gosh! but that was rich!" laughed Andy, when the affair was over.

"Talk about being scared," returned Pepper. "I was afraid he would have a
regular fit!"

There was more fun that night. Poor Hogan was tossed in a blanket, and
Dan Baxter had three frogs placed between the blankets of his cot. Our
friends did not escape, for in the morning Pepper found a sharp burr in
one shoe, and Andy found the sleeves of his coat tied into hard knots.
Jack was minus his shoes, which were finally located dangling from the
limb of a tree back of his tent.

"Hullo, Major Ruddy has planted a shoe tree!" cried one of the cadets.
"Wouldn't mind having some seed, major. I'd like to grow a pair of
slippers."

"Why not try some lady-slipper seed," suggested Pepper.

"I'll slipper the chap that put my shoes up there, if I can find him,"
grumbled Jack.

At breakfast there was more fun. Dan Baxter's crowd was preparing a pot
of coffee when Pepper, watching his chance, dropped a piece of soap into
the pot.

"Phew! but this is rank coffee!" came from Paxton, spitting out a
mouthful.

"Vilest I ever tasted," came from Coulter. "Say, Dan, did you make that
out of stale glue, or old boots?"

"It's good enough coffee for anybody," grumbled the bully. "If you don't
like it, make it yourself after this."

Then he took a deep gulp, just to show them he was not afraid to drink
it. A wry face followed.

"Fine, eh?" came from Paxton, sarcastically.

"Regular Waldorf-Astoria brand," put in Coulter.

"Something's got in the pot," cried the bully, and poured the coffee into
a big pan that was handy. "What's this? A cake of soap, I declare! Who
put that there?"

"Excuse me from drinking soap coffee," grunted Paxton.

"Hullo, Dan Baxter's crowd is drinking soap coffee!" shouted one of the
cadets.

"How do you like the flavor, Dan?" asked another.

"Better than Java, eh?" came from a third cadet.

"I have heard of all sorts of tastes in coffee, but I never heard of soap
being used before," was Pepper's comment.

"Baxter's afther wantin' a good wash on th' insoide!" came from Hogan.

"Ah, you fellows shut up!" growled the bully, and taking the chunk of
semi-soft soap, he hurled it at Pepper. But the Imp dodged, and the soap
landed in Mumps' left eye.

"Oh! oh!" howled the sneak. "Oh! you have put out my eye! Oh!" And he
began to dance around wildly.

"Didn't mean to hit you, Mumps," said Baxter. "I say," he called out;
"who put that soap in the coffee?"

"Here's a riddle," came from Andy. "A lima bean to the one who solves it
last."

"Coffee in the soap is good for warts," said Dale, with a grin, for
Baxter's hands were covered with warts.

"Just wait--I'll get square!" growled the bully; and there the talk had
to come to an end.

Breakfast over, there was a long drill, and then the cadets were allowed
to do as they pleased for several hours. Some wandered through the woods,
while others went to a nearby brook to fish. Half a dozen of Baxter's
crowd went off through the woods by themselves.

"Where are they going?" asked Pepper.

"I don't know--and don't much care," answered Jack.

Baxter's crowd walked through the woods to where there was a farmhouse,
and there stopped to get some apples and some milk. While stopping at the
place they got into conversation with the farmer's daughter, a
pleasant-looking damsel of eighteen.

"She's a beauty," said Coulter.

Baxter followed the farmer's daughter to the dairy, and began to talk to
her in a pleasant way. Then he tried to put his arm around her waist.

"Stop that!" she said sharply.

"I'm not going to hurt you," said he. "Won't you give me just one kiss?"

"I'll give you--this!" she answered quickly, and, taking up a can of sour
milk, she threw it directly into his face. Then she ran into the house,
shrieking with laughter.

"Dan got it that time!" said Paxton, with a snicker.

"It was real sweet, too!" added Coulter.

Wild with rage, Baxter wiped the sour milk from his face and hair.

"I'll fix you for that!" he roared, and started to go into the house, but
the girl appeared with a broom.

"You keep away!" she cried, shrilly. "If you don't, I'll set our dog on
you!"

"Oh, come on away!" put in Mumps, in alarm. "Come on!" And he hurried
towards the road.

"I guess we had better go," whispered Coulter. "If the farmer should
report us to Captain Putnam, there would be the Old Nick to pay," and he
too walked off, with Paxton and the sneak beside him. Seeing there was no
help for it, Baxter withdrew, the girl laughing merrily at him as he did
so.



                             CHAPTER XVIII
                   THE YOUNG MAJOR SHOWS HIS COURAGE


All too soon for the young cadets the encampment in the grove came to an
end, and the march back to Putnam Hall was taken up.

"This gives us a taste of what the annual encampment will be like," said
Andy. "My, but won't we have just boss times!" And his face glowed with
anticipation.

The day was positively cold, and the young soldiers were glad enough to
march along briskly. Mile after mile was covered, until they came to the
place where they had taken dinner when coming from the Hall.

While they were resting Jack and Pepper fell in with a boy of the
neighborhood, who was riding a bicycle. The boy asked them about life at
the Hall, and in return they questioned him about his wheeling trips.

"You can try my wheel if you wish," said the youth to them, and Pepper
took a short spin up the road and back. Then Jack turned his sword over
to his chum and hopped into the saddle.

"The seat isn't quite high enough for me," said the young major. "But
it's a good wheel and I feel as if I could pedal ten or twenty miles
without half trying."

Jack had gone quite a distance down the road when he heard a whirring
sound, and looking in the direction, saw an automobile approaching. It
was coming at good speed, and swaying from side to side.

"Hullo, I'll have to get out of the way, or run the risk of being run
over," he said to himself, and drew up near a stone fence.

As the automobile came closer he saw that it contained only a lady and a
little girl. The lady was holding on to the steering wheel with one hand,
and holding the girl with the other.

"Oh, help!" she cried out, as the automobile passed Jack. "Help! I cannot
stop the machine!" And then she passed by in a cloud of dust.

For the moment Jack did not comprehend. Then he shut his teeth hard,
turned around, and raced after the automobile on the bicycle.

"I'll have to stop that machine for her if I can!" he reasoned. "I
suppose she is afraid the girl will fall out, or else the lever is
stuck."

The automobile was now a good distance down the road, and running
dangerously close to the stone fence. Then it swayed to the other side,
two wheels going into some mud.

"Help! help!" the lady shrieked, at some cadets standing near.

"Here comes Jack on the bicycle!" exclaimed Andy.

"Look, he is going after the auto!" put in Pepper.

Along the road swung the ponderous machine, the lady continuing to call
for help, and the little girl crying in her terror. Behind, Jack was
doing his best to catch the runaway machine.

It was a stiff race, and for several minutes it looked as if the young
cadet would not make it. But at last he closed the gap ahead, and came up
directly behind the automobile. Then, with a quick leap, he cleared the
bicycle handle bars and caught hold of the back seat of the turnout
ahead.

"What's the matter?" he asked, as he piled forward. "Can't you stop it?"

"No, the lever is stuck!" gasped the woman. She was on the point of
fainting through excitement and fear.

Jack bent down, and his knowledge of automobiles stood him in good stead.
He saw how the lever had become bent. With all of his might he tugged
upon it, and brought it back. At once the automobile began to slacken its
pace. Then came another pull, and the ponderous machine came to a
complete standstill.

"Oh!" murmured the lady, and sank back in a deathlike swoon.

"Oh, Aunt Annie is dying!" shrieked the little girl. "Oh, dear, I never
want to ride like this again!"

"She isn't dying," said Jack. "She'll soon be better."

He looked back and saw some of the cadets hurrying along the road. Soon
Pepper came up, followed by Andy and a dozen others, and then Captain
Putnam put in an appearance.

The lady was lifted from the automobile and carried to a shady spot under
a tree. She had smelling salts with her, and was treated with these, and
her face was bathed with water from the brook. Soon she opened her eyes
and stared around her.

"You are safe, madam," said the captain. "Pray take it easy."

"And Jennie, my niece?"

"She is safe too."

"What a fearful ride I have had," went on the lady, with a shudder. "It
was awful! The auto got entirely beyond my control. Where is the brave
young gentleman who stopped it for me?"

"Here he is," answered Captain Putnam, pointing to Jack.

"What, you! Why, you--er--you are the young man that--that had the
trouble with my husband a few days ago," faltered the lady, and reddened.

"Never mind about that," said Jack, quickly. He remembered what the lady
had said on that occasion. "I'm glad I happened to be on the bicycle."

"You sprang from the wheel into the machine?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"It was a brave thing to do. I thank you from the bottom of my heart."

A few minutes later a buggy came along, being driven furiously by the man
who owned the automobile. He leaped out and ran toward his wife and his
little niece.

"Are they hurt?" he demanded.

"No, Carl, we are not hurt," answered his wife.

"What made you run off so furiously, Annie?"

"I didn't do it on purpose. The machine started up, and I could not stop
it."

"That young soldier saved us, Uncle Carl," came from the little girl. "He
rode on his wheel after us, and jumped into our auto and pulled on the
handles till it stopped."

The man looked at Jack, and his face grew red.

"Why--er--did you--er--you stop the auto for my wife?" he stammered.

"I did," answered the young major, coldly.

"He did it at the risk of his life, too," added the lady. "Carl, we owe
him a great deal."

The man's face became a study.

"How did you do it?" he asked at length. "Tell me the story, won't you?"
And Jack did so, and then the lady had her say, and so did Captain
Putnam.

"I thank you, sir," said the man. "It was handsome of you, handsome. And
after I treated you so meanly, too! Say, do you know how I feel? I feel
like two cents!"

"Let us drop it," said Jack, and walked away. But the man came after him,
and his voice was full of emotion.

"Don't go off that way. I want to tell you something. I--I acted like a
fool the other day. It wasn't fair at all. And now you've done the
handsome thing. It was great, simply great! I thank you, and I ask your
pardon at the same time. Won't you shake hands?"

"Certainly!" cried Jack, and held out his hand, which the other grasped
tightly. "It's all right--only please give us a little more show when
we're on the march after this."

"You shall have the whole road--you deserve it!" answered the man,
heartily. "This has taught me a lesson I'll not forget," he added, as he
turned back to look after his wife and inspect the automobile. It took
some time to repair the big machine, and in the meantime the cadets
walked away, and Jack delivered the wheel to the owner.

"That was a great ride of yours," said the boy. "And that jump into the
auto was grand. Do you know that man?"

"No."

"His name is Carl Reuterman. He is a rich brewer. He runs all over these
roads, and he is rather careless. But I guess he'll be more careful after
this."

"He'll have to be--or he and his family will get into trouble," returned
Jack.

"Did he reward you, Jack?" asked Pepper, later on.

"No, and I don't want any reward," answered the young major. "I don't
risk my neck for pay."

The march back to school came to an end that evening at seven o'clock. A
hot supper awaited all hands, and the manner in which the students
pitched in was astonishing.

"We're going to have cold weather now," said Pepper, on turning in.
"There's a heavy frost on the ground already."

"Frost will be good for the nuts," came from Andy.

"That's the idea!" put in Henry Lee. "Let us organize a nutting party. I
know where we can get a lot of nuts. The trees are just loaded with
them."

"All right, I'm ready any time Captain Putnam will let us off," came from
Jack. "But I don't believe he will let us off this week, on account of
the outing we have already had," and he was right.

The cold weather continued, and there was a promise of snow in the air.
The week passed, and on the following Saturday the master of the Hall
said all of the pupils could go out in the woods for three hours, if they
wished.

"But you must be careful of two things," he said. "Do not get lost, and
do not poach on private grounds."

"I don't think I'll get lost," said Andy. He had been out in the woods a
number of times.

The boys divided up into half a dozen parties, and set off with light
hearts. Each party carried bags for nuts, and Jack had a pocket compass,
in case his party should miss the way.

Just after they had started Dale came to Jack.

"Baxter is going up to Top Rock Hill," said he. "I believe that is
private property."

"I was going there myself," said the young major, "but not on private
grounds. There are a good many trees outside of the inclosures."

"I'll wager Baxter gets into trouble," said Dale. And he was right, as
later events proved.



                              CHAPTER XIX
                    THE RESULT OF THE NUTTING PARTY


All the boys who accompanied Jack were good walkers, and it was not long
before they were deep in the woods back of Putnam Hall. The clear,
bracing air put them in good spirits, and more than one began to whistle
as they went on their way.

"There is a barbed wire fence!" cried Pepper, as they began to ascend Top
Rock Hill. "We can't go over that, I suppose."

"Here is a path to the left," answered Andy. "And I don't know but what
it is the better of the two."

Not long after that they struck the first nut tree. They sent up a dozen
sticks and stones, and down came a perfect shower of chestnuts, so thick
in fact that they had to "stand from under" until the nuts stopped coming
down.

"We've struck a bonanza, first trip," cried Dale. "This will fill
one-third of our bags at least."

They began to pick up the nuts industriously, and soon had the majority
of them. Then they passed on up the hill and soon found another tree
almost as good.

"Let us go to the very top of this hill," said Jack. "We are sure to get
a beautiful view from up there."

For the time being nutting was forgotten, and they raced along, to see
who should get to the top of the hill first. But Dale outdistanced the
others with ease.

"No use talking, Dale, you are the champion runner of Putnam Hall!" cried
Jack, enthusiastically. "If we had a game of hare and hounds you ought to
be the hare."

"And no hounds would ever catch him," put in Pepper.

"Gosh, but running makes a chap hungry!" came from Stuffer.

"Have some chestnuts," answered Andy.

"Yes, here are a few to start on," came from Pepper, and he let several
fall down the hungry youth's back, inside his shirt.

"Wow! Let up!" ejaculated Stuffer, squirming around. "Don't! They'll
scratch me all the rest of the day!"

"Stand on your head and shake them out, Stuffer," suggested Jack, and in
the end that was what the hungry youth had to do. But he got square that
night by placing some chestnut burrs in Pepper's bed, much to the Imp's
discomfiture.

The top of the hill gained, a grand panorama was spread out on all sides
of them. To the westward were other hills, with streams winding along
them, and to the eastward Putnam Hall and the broad lake, the latter
lying like a sheet of silver among the trees and rocks.

"Isn't it great?" said Jack. "Do you know, I wish we had brought a camera
along. I'd like a photo of it."

"We can come up some day and take pictures," replied Andy. "The folks at
home will be glad to see them."

"Say, fellows, look over there!" came from Stuffer, a moment later. "Am I
mistaken, or is that Dan Baxter and his party?"

"To be sure it is Baxter, Paxton, and Mumps," answered Jack. He gazed a
moment longer. "What are those men doing to them?"

"I can't make out."

"The men have sticks, and one has a gun!" exclaimed Pepper. "As sure as
you are born, Baxter and his cronies are in trouble!"

"They went into private grounds, that's what the trouble is, and those
men have caught them," said Dale. "Just the same, fellows, I'd hate to
see any of our cadets come to harm."

"Baxter will earn what he gets, Dale."

"Let us sneak closer and see what is being done," said another. "We don't
want to see anybody shot."

So it was agreed, and with their bags of nuts over their shoulders they
hurried in the direction where they had located the bully and his
cronies.

As they surmised, the party had poached on a private preserve, and the
owner of the place, a hot-tempered old gentleman from Syracuse, and his
three workmen, had caught them red-handed, with their bags loaded with
the choicest kind of nuts.

To their consternation the old gentleman at first threatened to shoot the
evil-doers, at which Mumps fell on his knees and begged for mercy. Then
he ordered them to place all their nuts in a heap on the ground.

"Now, I'll let you off on one condition," he said, sternly.

"What condition?" asked Paxton.

"Oh, I'll do anything!" howled the sneak of the Hall. "Only don't have me
arrested."

"If the three of you will pick for me a full bushel of nuts I will let
you all go," said the owner of the preserve.

"Humph!" grumbled Baxter. "Aren't you satisfied to rob us of those we
have already picked?"

"I cannot rob you of what is already mine, young man."

"I'll pick nuts for you," said Mumps, eagerly.

"So will I," added Paxton, humbly.

"I'll not pick any more," came from the bully, defiantly.

"Very well, then, I'll have you sent down to the Cedarville jail. I don't
think Captain Putnam will like that, or your parents, either."

"It's a mean thing--to send a fellow to jail for a few nuts."

"You saw my signs, and when you came in here you did it at your own risk.
Men and boys have been hunting, fishing, and nutting in here until I am
tired of it, and I shall make an example of you, unless you agree to do
as I wish. I make this offer merely out of friendship for Captain
Putnam."

"I'm not going to pick any nuts," came firmly from Dan Baxter. He had on
an extra stubborn streak.

"Very well, then. Mike and John, make him a prisoner."

Without ceremony two of the workmen leaped forward and caught hold of the
bully. He tried to resist, but in a twinkling one of the workmen laid him
flat on his back. Then his hands were tied behind him.

"Let me go!" he roared.

"You keep quiet or you'll get a sound thrashing," ejaculated the
gentleman, whose temper was none of the best.

"I--I'll make you pay for this!"

"Perhaps you'll do a little paying for yourself, unless you wish to serve
a term in prison."

After this there came a spell of silence, during which Paxton and Mumps
piled up as many nuts as they could.

"I want your names," said the gentleman, taking out a note-book and a
pencil.

"Mine is John Fenwick," said the sneak, humbly. He felt there would be no
profit in acting ugly.

"Now yours, young man?"

"Nick Paxton."

"And now I want yours."

"Perhaps I won't give it to you," returned the bully.

"Really! Mike, did you bring that horsewhip along?"

"I did that, sur," answered the workman addressed.

"Don't you dare to horsewhip me!" cried Baxter, and now for the first
time he turned pale.

"Then give me your name."

"Jerry Smoker."

"Um! I believe I heard one of the others call you Dan," said the
gentleman, sharply.

To this the bully was silent.

"Come, give me your correct name--or it shall go hard with you."

"Dan Baxter."

"That's better."

"See here, if I help pick nuts will you let me off?" said the bully,
after an awkward pause.

"No, it is too late now."

This reply disconcerted the bully greatly, and he did not know what to
say further. He had a vision of being taken to the Cedarville jail, and
it caused him to shiver.

"That's rough on Baxter," whispered Jack, he and his chums having come
closer during the conversation.

"Well, he brought it on himself," answered Pepper. "The captain warned
him not to go on private property."

"He could easily do as Mumps and Paxton are doing," put in Andy. "They
are getting off easily enough."

Not long after this the gentleman that owned the preserve told Paxton and
the sneak of the Hall that they might quit gathering nuts.

"Let this be a lesson to you, John Fenwick and Nicholas Paxton," he said,
sternly. "I shall keep your names before me, and if I ever find you here
again it shall go hard with you."

"Can we go?" questioned Mumps, eagerly.

"Yes."

"Come on, Nick."

"Are you going to desert me?" cried Dan Baxter, in fresh alarm.

"I want them to go, and at once," said the gentleman. "I can take care of
your case without their aid."

A little more talk followed, and then Paxton and Mumps shoved off, in the
manner of two whipped curs, leaving the bully of Putnam Hall to his fate.

"Perhaps we ought to try to rescue Baxter," whispered Jack to his chums.
He was too generous-hearted to see any fellow cadet in trouble without
trying to aid him.

"Don't you attempt it," put in Dale.

"But if Baxter is put in jail it will bring discredit to the whole
school, Dale."

"I'll tell you what we can do," came from Pepper. "To get to Cedarville,
the owner of this place will have to take the Rumley Road. Let us get
back to the Hall and tell the captain what is going on. Perhaps he can
stop the party on the way to Cedarville and make a deal with the man who
wants to have Baxter arrested."

"That's an idea! Come on!" cried Andy.

With their bags of nuts on their shoulders, Jack and his friends hurried
away, down the hill and along the highway leading to Putnam Hall. Before
they reached the school they had to take to a side road, and along this
they fairly ran, so that they might not be too late with their news. As
luck would have it, they came upon the master of the Hall just as the
latter was returning from a visit to the gymnasium.

"Oh, Captain Putnam, we have news!" cried Andy. "Dan Baxter is in
trouble, and a man is going to take him down to Cedarville to have him
jailed."

"Baxter in trouble?" repeated Captain Putnam. His face grew serious.
"Tell me the particulars."

As well as they were able, they did so. The master of the Hall took in
what they said in silence and his face grew stem.

"You are sure Paxton and Fenwick were allowed their liberty?" he said at
last.

"Yes, sir."

"Very well; I'll meet Mr. Ringwood, and see what I can do about this. I
am glad you told me."

"We didn't wish to see any of the cadets put in jail," came from Jack.
"It would bring discredit to the whole school."

"Right you are, Major Ruddy. I'll go out to meet Mr. Ringwood at once,
and you can go along if you wish."



                               CHAPTER XX
                            OUT IN THE COLD


It was not long after this that our friends and Captain Putnam reached
the main road leading from Top Rock Hill to Cedarville. Scarcely had they
done so than they saw a carriage coming along the road, containing Mr.
Ringwood, Dan Baxter, and two of the workingmen from the preserve.

"Here they come!" cried Jack, and the captain ran out in the middle of
the road and motioned for the carriage to stop.

"Hullo, is that you, Captain Putnam?" called out Mr. Ringwood, in a far
from pleasant tone.

"It is, Mr. Ringwood, and I wish to talk to you."

"I've got one of your students here."

"So I see."

"He's a bad egg, captain. I caught him stealing my nuts. After that he
was impudent to me."

"I wasn't impudent," grumbled the bully.

"I just heard about it and I came out to meet you," answered Captain
Putnam. "Won't you drive over to the Hall, and we'll try to settle this
matter."

"If you wish it, captain. I had half a mind to have the young rascal
arrested."

"There will be no need to do that, Mr. Ringwood. I think I can punish him
sufficiently for what he has done."

"Very well, then; I'll drive over." And in a moment more the carriage was
headed for Putnam Hall, and the captain and our friends trudged after it.

"You may go now, young gentlemen," said the master of the Hall. "If I
wish you again, I'll call for you."

This was a hint that they were not wanted, and off they went, across the
campus and into the school by a side entrance, the others entering by the
front way and going directly to Captain Putnam's private office.

It was not until the next day that they learned something of what
happened to Dan Baxter. From Peleg Snuggers the information went forth
that the bully of the Hall was a close prisoner in a small room at the
rear of the Hall. The window to this room was heavily barred, making the
apartment a regular prison cell.

"The captain give Baxter a talkin' to which would make your hair curl,"
said the general utility man. "He laid down the law good an' strong. He
said he wasn't goin' to have no pupil a-gittin' the academy in disgrace.
Then he made Crabtree put him in a cell, an' he's livin' on bread, soup,
an' water fer a week."

"Phew! That's pretty severe punishment!" cried Jack. "The captain must
have been mad!"

"You git the cap'n riled up real good an' you'll see a reg'lar cyclone
broke loose," went on Snuggers. "I know him, because I worked fer the
fam'ly before. He's real tame alongside o' what he was when he was an
army officer."

Mumps and Paxton had little or nothing to say. Each was given extra
lessons to do, and did them without a murmur. They saw that the captain
was much disturbed over what had happened and did not want to do anything
to add to his anger.

Two days after the outing for nuts, came a light fall of snow, and then
the weather grew steadily colder and colder. As a consequence, many
outdoor games came to an end, and the students spent their off time
either in the library of the Hall or the gymnasium.

The latter place was a favorite with Dale, who was beyond question the
leading all-around athlete of the school. He was graceful on the rings
and bars, and could jump and run with the best of them. The only one who
could match him at all was Andy, who did things on the flying rings which
would have done credit to a professional acrobat or gymnast.

"Andy, you could go into a circus," said Jack, after watching the agile
youth.

"Perhaps I will go into a circus some day," answered Andy, seriously.
"I've heard that some daring fellows earn two or three hundred dollars
per week at it."

"They do," put in Pepper. "But they risk their necks every time they
perform."

"I don't see how you can do some of those tricks," put in Joe Nelson. "As
you do them, they seem as easy as pie, but when I try them, I can't do
them at all."

"I guess I was born to it," answered Andy, with a quiet smile. "Somehow
it always came natural to me."

"Must have circus blood in your veins," said Pepper, and then there was a
general laugh.

In his cell, Dan Baxter passed day after day in moody silence. He was
allowed only his school books, and each day Josiah Crabtree or George
Strong visited him to hear him recite. Only once did Coulter manage to
see him on the sly.

"Mumps and Paxton can't come," said Gus Coulter. "They are being watched
night and day."

"They have deserted me, and they gave me away!" growled the bully.

"No, they haven't deserted you," answered Coulter. "And they didn't tell
on you."

"Then who did tell on me?"

"Jack Ruddy, Pepper Ditmore, Andy Snow, and that crowd."

"Are you sure of this, Gus?"

"Positive."

"Then I've got an account to settle with them when I get out," and the
bully grated his teeth. He did not stop to consider that those who had
informed on him had probably saved him from a term in the Cedarville
jail.

During those days spent by Baxter in his cell, Jack, Pepper, and Andy,
along with a number of other students, had an exceedingly hard time of it
with Josiah Crabtree. For some reason or other, the head teacher was
feeling particularly cross, and he vented his anger on those under him,
until they could scarcely stand it. He made them do all sorts of extra
tasks, and "nagged" at them until some felt like open rebellion.

"It's outrageous!" declared Andy. "Here I've got ten extra examples in
algebra for nothing at all!"

"And just because I dropped my history on the floor, old Crabtree made me
stay in half an hour," grumbled Pepper.

"I've caught it, too," came from Jack. "I missed in astronomy and had to
study five pages extra. Mr. Strong or the captain never treated us that
way!"

"I wish we had another teacher in old Crabtree's place," came from Dale.

"Captain Putnam can't discharge him," said Joe. "He's got a contract, so
Stuffer was telling me."

"I wish we could duck him in the lake. The cold water might do him good,"
went on Pepper.

"That's a fine idea!" cried Andy. "It would certainly cool him off!"

One day Captain Putnam was called away to Albany on business. As it
chanced, George Strong was also absent, so the Hall was left in sole
charge of Josiah Crabtree.

"He will be more dictatorial than ever now," said Pepper, and so it
proved. During the day over a dozen students got into "hot water," and at
recess they held a secret meeting, to determine what had best be done.

"If we could only get him out of the building we might keep him out,"
suggested Andy. "It's going to be a cold night, remember."

This idea took like wild-fire, and it was resolved to get Josiah Crabtree
out of the building by all means. Only the faithful were let into the
secret, and they watched the teacher narrowly after the school session
came to an end.

"I know how to do it," said Pepper. And he unfolded his plot, to which
the others listened eagerly. They saw Crabtree walk through a side
hallway, and immediately hurried to a spot just around the corner from
where the teacher was standing.

"Yes, we'll meet at the gym to-night, at exactly ten o'clock," said
Pepper in a loud voice. "Be sure and be on hand."

"All right--the gym at ten o'clock," said Andy, in an equally loud voice.
"We'll have a fine spread!" And then the boys ran off before Josiah
Crabtree could stop them.

The crabbed teacher heard what was said, and as soon as the cadets had
vanished his face took on a crafty look.

"The gymnasium at ten o'clock, eh?" he murmured to himself. "A fine
spread, eh? Not if I know it! Josiah Crabtree, you must capture them, and
make an example of them!"

As the captain and Mr. Strong were away, he enlisted the services of
Peleg Snuggers. It may be mentioned here that the other teachers came
only during school hours, one living at Cedarville, and others coming but
twice a week, to teach music and foreign languages.

At the proper time that night all of the pupils but Pepper and Andy went
to bed. The latter hid themselves in the hallway, one near Josiah
Crabtree's room, and the other one downstairs.

At a quarter to ten the teacher came forth from his room, wearing his
regular school suit. As the gymnasium was only across the campus, he did
not feel it necessary to don his overcoat. He slipped to the rear of the
school, summoned Peleg Snuggers, and both left the building.

"He has gone!" cried Andy, and rushing forward from his hiding place he
locked the door. Then he and Pepper saw to it that all of the other doors
and also the windows were secured.

"Wait, I'll fix them better than that," said Jack, and secured small
wedges of wood. These were driven under the doors, and alongside of the
window sashes, so that they could not be opened without great effort.

By this time fully a dozen of the cadets were out of their dormitories.
Pepper and Andy went around summoning the others.

"We want your aid," said Pepper, boldly. "Old Crabtree has gone outside
and we mean to keep him out."

"Everybody in favor of keeping him out raise their hands," called out
Andy, and fully sixty hands went up.

"Paxton, what do you say?" asked Jack. He knew Nick Paxton was the leader
of the Baxter crowd during the absence of the bully.

"I'm not saying anything," growled Paxton.

"Don't you try to let Crabtree in," came from one cadet. "We are going to
let him have a regular freeze-out."

As Gus Coulter had had trouble with the teacher, he was willing to keep
the man out, and so, after some talk, it was decided that nobody should
aid in letting the teacher get into the Hall building.

"If anybody tries it, he'll catch it good and hard," warned Pepper.

"So say we all of us!" shouted a score of others. "No sneak wanted here!"
And some glanced at Mumps in a fashion that made that youth slink out of
sight in short order.

Going to an upper window, Pepper, Andy, and Jack looked out, and saw
Crabtree and Snuggers stealing softly around the gymnasium. After a look
into several of the windows, the two men crouched down behind some
bushes.

"This is the best yet!" whispered Pepper. "They think we haven't arrived
yet."

"Let them wait," returned Jack. "It will cool them off sure. It is
nipping cold to-night."



                              CHAPTER XXI
                        THE BOYS "HOLD THE FORT"


Quarter of an hour passed, and still Josiah Crabtree and Peleg Snuggers
remained in the vicinity of the gymnasium, while the boys, from behind
the window shades, watched all of their movements.

"They are cold enough," was Dale's comment. "See them slapping their
arms."

At last the crabbed teacher could stand it no longer. Leaving the general
utility man to remain on guard, he started back for the Hall at a brisk
pace.

"He is coming!" whispered Jack. "Now, boys, don't make a sound."

Reaching the door, Josiah Crabtree tried the knob.

"Humph! Who could have locked that?" he asked of himself. "Certainly I
did not. Snuggers must have the key."

"Ain't got no key an' I didn't lock the door, Mister Crabtree," said the
hired man, on being questioned.

"Well, it is certainly locked now."

"Ain't nobuddy come here neither," said Peleg Snuggers. He was growing
tired of waiting around in the cold.

"I'll try the other doors," came from Josiah Crabtree, and he hurried off
once more. Of course he found everything tight shut.

"Somebody has locked us out," he muttered. "It must have been those boys.
Perhaps they saw Snuggers and myself going to the gymnasium. Confound the
luck!"

Again he walked around the Hall, trying all of the doors, and when he had
done so, called to Snuggers:

"Have you a key?"

"No, sir."

"They have locked us out."

"You don't say so! Who did it?"

"I don't know."

Josiah Crabtree pondered for a moment and then, walking back to the main
door of the Hall, pulled the bell.

Ordinarily the bell pealed loudly, but now no sound came forth, for the
clapper had been bent back by one of the cadets.

"Ha! they have disconnected the bell!" growled Josiah Crabtree. "The
young scamps! I'll fix them for this! Just wait till I get inside." And
then he began to thump on the door with his fist.

"He's getting warmed up," whispered Andy, grinning broadly.

"Never mind, it will keep his blood in circulation," answered Jack, and
all of the cadets present snickered.

"Are you going to open that door?" roared Josiah Crabtree, at last. "You
young villains, open the door, I say!"

"My, but he's getting complimentary, I must confess," said Dale.

"Do you think the noise will wake up Mrs. Green?" asked one of the boys.

"No, she sleeps like a cow," answered another. "Besides, her room is at
the top of the building, and all of the upper doors are shut."

"Open the door!" bellowed Josiah Crabtree.

"Open the door!" echoed Peleg Snuggers.

"Shall we answer?" asked Joe.

"Not yet," returned Pepper. "Wait till he tries to break in. Then I've
got another scheme to work on him."

Finding he could do nothing at the door, Josiah Crabtree hurried to one
of the windows.

"Now, fellows, is your chance!" cried Stuffer. "A little water from one
of the pitchers--"

"Whoop!" came from Hogan. "It's a bath he's afther nadin', sure!" And up
the stairs he bounded. Water pitcher in hand, he approached a window over
the one the teacher was trying to open. Then down came the water on the
teacher's head, wetting him thoroughly.

"Ouch!" roared Josiah Crabtree, and began to dance around. "Oh, the water
has gone down my back! It's ice-cold! Oh, I'll pay you for that!"

"Thank you, no payment requoired!" said Hogan, softly, and closed the
window again.

"Emerald, you're a gem!" said Andy. "Won't old Crabtree feel fine with a
wet back on such a bitter night as this?"

"If you don't let me in I'll--I'll have the law on some of you!" yelled
Josiah Crabtree. "This is--er--preposterous! Open the door!"

"All the winders is tight shut," said Peleg Snuggers, who had been making
an examination. "I must say, I dunno how we are to git in, Mr. Crabtree."

"We must get in," fumed the teacher. "Why, my back feels like a--er--an
icicle."

"Sorry, sir."

"If I stay out here I'll catch my death of cold."

"I've got an idee, sir. I might get a ladder and put it up to the
second-story winders."

"Yes, yes. Get the ladder at once."

The general utility man hurried off to the carriage house and presently
came forth carrying a long ladder.

"It's all I can do to lift it, sir," he said. "You'll have to help me
raise it."

"I can do that."

"They've got a ladder!" whispered Jack. "They are going to try to get
into one of the upper windows."

"Come on upstairs," returned Pepper. "Say, has anybody got a blank
cartridge left?"

Several had, having saved them from the encampment, and they were passed
over to Pepper, who placed one in his gun. Then Andy loaded up likewise.

"Put on your caps, boys," said Pepper. "Pull 'em down over your eyes, so
Crabtree can't recognize us in the dark."

This was also done, and a score of students crowded into the room which
the teacher and Snuggers expected to enter.

They had scarcely done so when there came an unexpected crash. In trying
to raise the heavy ladder both Josiah Crabtree and Snuggers had allowed
it to slip, and the end came through the window sash, shattering the
window panes into a thousand pieces.

"Phew! That's the time they did it!" exclaimed Henry Lee. "There will be
some glass to pay for when this adventure is over."

"Well, that wasn't our fault," came from Harry Blossom. "They should have
been more careful with the ladder."

"Snuggers, have a care!" roared Josiah Crabtree. "You have broken the
window."

"Twasn't my fault!" howled the hired man. "Why didn't you keep her from
slippin'?"

"Hold the bottom of the ladder while I go up," ordered the teacher,
ignoring the question. "Be careful now. I don't want to break my neck."

"I'm a-holdin' tight enough," grumbled the hired man.

With caution Josiah Crabtree started to come up the ladder.

"Here comes the burglar, boys!" shouted Pepper, in an assumed voice. "He
has broken the window. He deserves to be shot!"

"Yes, yes! shoot the burglar!" came in a shout. "Shoot him!"

"We'll teach 'em that they can't rob Putnam Hall even if Captain Putnam
is away."

"Stop!" screamed Josiah Crabtree. "I am no bur----"

"Take careful aim," commanded Pepper, loudly. "All ready?"

"Boys, I am no bur----"

"All ready?"

"Yes, yes!"

"Boys, I command you to sto----"

"Fire!"

Bang! bang! bang! went three of the guns, the cadets shooting high up
into the night air. With a wild scream of terror, Josiah Crabtree slid
down the ladder, on top of Peleg Snuggers' head, and both sank to the
ground.

"There goes Mr. Burglar!"

"Run away, you robber! If you don't we'll give you another dose!"

"Oh, my poor head!" groaned Snuggers.

"They are shooting at me!" moaned Crabtree, scrambling up.

"They be takin' us for burglars!" went on the general utility man.

"There are two of them," came from above. "Shoot them, fellows! They must
be regular desperadoes to try such a game as this."

"Let us run!" screamed Peleg Snuggers, and set off at his best pace, with
Josiah Crabtree at his heels. Neither stopped until he was safe in the
shelter of the barn.

"There they go!" laughed Pepper. "I'll wager they won't come back in a
hurry."

"Shove the ladder off," commanded Jack, and this was done, the ladder
falling out across the campus.

"Of course they'll come back," came from Dave Kearney. "What shall we do
next?"

"Sure an' there is plenthy av water," suggested Hogan.

"That's the ticket. Put the guns away, or we may arouse Mrs. Green after
all, or somebody living at a distance."

The guns were restored to the racks on the lower floor of the Hall, and
this done, two students stationed themselves at each window upstairs,
each with a pitcher of cold water.

"Here is where somebody is going to get a fine ducking," said Bart
Conners, with a merry twinkle in his eyes. Bart did not do much talking,
but he was as full of mischief as the average cadet.

Soon they saw Josiah Crabtree and Peleg Snuggers sneaking toward one of
the lower windows. The hired man had an ax.

"They surely mean business this trip," whispered Pepper. "Give it to
them!"

Down went one pitcherful of water after another, and in a trice both the
teacher and the hired man were thoroughly drenched. They set up a howl,
and Snuggers dropped the ax as he ran off with Crabtree by his side.

"Haven't we had about enough?" questioned Jack, after a wild burst of
laughter.

"Let's go to bed, and be as mum as oysters," said Andy, and this was
agreed to. All of the upper windows were closed, and then some of the
cadets unlocked the door below that had been open, and fixed the door
bell.

"Now, then, not a word from anybody, on his life!" said Jack, and the
word spread rapidly. Inside of five minutes every cadet was in bed, the
lights were put out, and all became as silent as a tomb inside of Putnam
Hall.



                              CHAPTER XXII
                      JOSIAH CRABTREE IS NONPLUSED


"What's to do next, Mr. Crabtree?"

"I--er--I don't know," stammered the enraged teacher. He gave a shiver.
"I am wet to the skin!"

"So am I," came from Peleg Snuggers.

"I shall take cold."

"An' I'll be after gitting the rheumatism."

"I am half of a mind to invoke the aid of the law," went on Josiah
Crabtree, stalking around the barn to keep himself warm. "This is
preposterous, outrageous, extraordinary!"

"It's a blessed shame, sir, that's wot it is."

"It is strange that Mrs. Green was not aroused."

"No 'tain't, sir--she's a heavy sleeper. She sleeps with an alarm clock
on a chair beside her bed, to wake her up in the mornin'."

"Snuggers, we must get into the school building in some manner."

"Yes, sir."

"Let us go around to the front once more."

"I don't want another duckin', sir. It was terribul, that was!" And the
general utility man shivered.

"Perhaps we can get under the shelter of the doorway."

They left the barn once more, and sneaking around the campus, came at
last to the front of the hall.

"Why, the door's on a crack!" ejaculated the hired man. "I thought it was
locked!"

"So it was locked!" returned Josiah Crabtree. "Can it be possible that
the rascals have left the building?"

"Oh, Mr. Crabtree, perhaps they are after us with them guns!"

"I--I don't think so. Anyway, let us get inside. Then we can lock the
door on them. Some of the cadets must have gone crazy!"

The two passed into the Hall, and the teacher lost no time in locking and
bolting the door. All was pitch-dark, and Josiah Crabtree scarcely knew
what to do next.

"I don't see nuthin'," was Peleg Snuggers' comment.

"It is not to be expected without a light," answered the teacher,
sarcastically. "Have you a match?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then light up, and I'll try to get to the bottom of this piece of
villainy."

"Are you certain we ain't in danger o' bein' shot?" queried the hired
man.

"Light up, I tell you!" thundered the teacher.

The hallway was soon a blaze of lights. Nothing appeared to be out of its
place, and Josiah Crabtree passed from one classroom to the next, and
then to the messroom, the kitchen, and to Captain Putnam's private
office.

"They have gone!" murmured Snuggers, and breathed a sigh of relief.

"They are either outside or upstairs," answered Josiah Crabtree. "Come,
we will go up."

"Hadn't you better get a club--or somethin'?"

"I'll take this," answered the teacher, and brought forth a heavy ruler.
Then he gave the hired man a cane, and both mounted to the second floor
of the Hall. Here all was as dark as it had been below, and again
Snuggers was called on to light up.

Without further hesitation Josiah Crabtree pushed open the door of
Dormitory No. 1. A glance inside showed him all of the cadets in bed,
apparently fast asleep. He scratched his head in amazement.

"Am I dreaming, or is this a trick?" he murmured.

"Are the rascals there?" queried Peleg Snuggers.

"These--er--cadets seem to be asleep."

"Asleep!"

"Yes, let us look in the next dormitory," said Crabtree.

This was done, and then the other sleeping rooms were visited. Not a bed
was found vacant, and all of the boys looked as if they were sleeping
soundly.

"Snuggers, am I awake?" demanded the teacher.

"I reckon you are, sir. I know I ain't asleep--an' I ain't dry nuther."

"But what do you make of this?"

"I dunno, unless they be a-playin' off on you, sir."

"Did you recognize any of those who--er--attacked us?"

"No, sir."

"But we were attacked?"

"Yes, sir."

"We were doused with water?"

"Yes, sir--very cold water at that."

"And we were fired upon?"

"Yes, sir--I heard the bullets whistle past our heads, sir," added the
hired man, drawing on his imagination.

"And yet all of these cadets are asleep--or pretend to be."

"It's a mystery, sir, that's wot it is, sir. But what's to do?" and the
general utility man scratched his head.

For once in his life Josiah Crabtree was nonplused. He rubbed his chin
and cleared his throat several times.

"If I thought they were playing off on me----" he began.

"They couldn't have all been in it, sir," interrupted Snuggers.

"I don't know about that. But that's the point--I do not know which to
accuse."

"Well, what do you want me to do?"

"I--er--I don't know."

"Hadn't we better change our clothes an' go to bed?"

"You may change your clothes, and I'll do the same. But I am going to
investigate further before I retire for the night."

The pair separated, and Peleg Snuggers lost no time in getting to his
room. Josiah Crabtree stalked to his own apartment and there proceeded to
don dry clothing.

The head teacher was furious, but the more he mused over the problem
before him, the more was he perplexed. He could not call all of the boys
to account, and, to tell the truth, he was just a bit afraid of the whole
school. With Captain Putnam and George Strong absent, there was no
telling what the pupils might do.

"I don't want to get shot, or something like that," he told himself.
"Perhaps I had better wait until the captain gets back."

"Do you want me again?" came presently from Peleg Snuggers, from outside
the door.

"No, you can go to bed. But sleep with one ear open, in case there are
more disturbances."

"Yes, sir; good-night, sir," and the general utility man tiptoed away.
"Don't catch me a-gittin' up again to-night," he muttered to himself.
"One sech duckin' is enough fer me."

"I fancy he has given up the battle," said Pepper to his chums, after a
long spell of silence.

"He is afraid of us." came from Andy. "Those shots frightened him."

"I'll wager we hear something in the morning," put in Jack. "We ought to
bind every fellow to absolute secrecy."

"Let's do it!" cried Pepper. "We can visit every dormitory."

This plan was agreed to, and soon a dozen cadets were making the rounds,
and each student was made to promise on his honor not to say a word
concerning the doings of the night.

"Let me catch you opening your trap and I'll make it warm for you," said
Jack to Mumps, and the sneak promised faithfully to keep mum.

In the morning the cadets were on hand as usual, and they came down to
roll call as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Josiah Crabtree
was on hand, looking as dark as a thunder cloud.

"Phew, but his face is enough to sour the milk!" whispered Andy.

"Take care, he is watching us," returned Pepper, and then the chums
became silent.

Nothing was said during breakfast, and it was not until the school was
assembled for the first session of the day that Josiah Crabtree opened up
upon them.

"Last night a most disgraceful thing happened at this academy," he began.
"A number of headstrong pupils locked me out of this building, and
attacked me with their guns. I have some information concerning this
affair, but I am bound to get at all the details. I, therefore, demand
that each pupil tell all he knows of the affair. I shall ask each pupil
by roll order. Dale Blackmore, what have you to say?"

"Nothing, sir," answered Dale, rising.

"Don't you know anything of this affair?"

"I have nothing to say," returned the cadet, stiffly.

"Um! Sit down. Harry Blossom."

"I have nothing to say, sir," answered Harry, as he arose.

"You know nothing?"

"I have nothing to say."

"Bart Conners!"

"I have nothing to say, Mr. Crabtree," answered the captain of Company B.

"Augustus Coulter!"

As Coulter arose, Jack, Pepper, Andy, and a number of others eyed him
sharply.

"I--er--I don't know anything much," stammered Dan Baxter's crony. "I
was--er--very sleepy last night. I heard some noise, but I didn't pay any
attention."

"Really?" returned the teacher, sarcastically. "You must have slept very
sound, indeed, not to have heard the gun-shots."

"That wasn't so bad for Coulter," whispered Jack to Pepper.

One after another the pupils were questioned, but all had nothing to say.
Even Mumps said "Nothing to say!" in a voice that was as stiff as starch.

"He's afraid of his life," whispered Andy. "I told him he'd be treated to
an icy bath if he said two words."

"School will come to order!" thundered Josiah Crabtree, after the name of
the last cadet had been called out. "I shall inquire into this later on.
We will now take up our studies for the day."

"He's beaten!" said Jack, and the young major spoke the truth. Try his
best Josiah Crabtree could not get at the bottom of the mystery, and at
last he had to give it up, for fear of being ridiculed by Captain Putnam
and George Strong.



                             CHAPTER XXIII
                         BURIED UNDER THE SNOW


One morning the cadets of Putnam Hall awoke to find the ground covered
with snow. The storm had started in about midnight, and was still raging,
the wind sending the flakes whirling in all directions.

"Hurrah for the snow!" shouted Andy, as he rushed to one of the windows
to look out. "Pep, this is glorious!"

"Fine!" came from the Imp. "Oh, but won't we have a dandy time
snowballing each other!"

"And building a snow house," put in Stuffer. "I love to build a snow
house, and after it's all done, we can put benches inside, and a little
table, and have----"

"Something to eat," interrupted Jack. "Wasn't you going to say that,
Stuffer?"

"Yes, but--but how did you guess it?"

"Oh, I've got a way of knowing things," returned the young major. "But
this is grand and no mistake. Somehow, a good old snowstorm always makes
me feel jolly."

Pepper was at the window, and opening it a few inches he brought in a
handful of snow. Gazing around he saw that Henry Lee was still sleeping
peacefully.

"Hush!" he whispered, and going up to Henry laid the soft snow directly
over his mouth. "Hi, wake up!" he shouted.

Henry started, and opened his eyes. Then he started to speak, when some
of the snow dropped into his mouth, and he commenced to splutter.

"Wha--what--who--gug--gug--who put snow in my mouth?" he gasped, at last.

"Wake up, Henry!" sang out Pepper. "Don't you see how it's snowing?"

"Oh, well, you needn't try to fill me up with it, Pep."

"Get up, you're missing it."

Slowly Henry Lee arose and started to dress himself. Then Pepper turned
away. Like a flash Henry ran to a window, got some snow, and whacked it
on Pepper's neck, allowing some to run down the Imp's backbone.

"Great mackerels!" howled Pepper. "Let up! I'll turn into an icicle!" And
he began to dance around.

"It's all right--you don't want to miss the benefits of the storm," said
Henry, calmly.

The cadets were soon below, and snowballs flew fast and furious across
the campus. All of the boys were happy, and all too soon they had to go
in to breakfast and then take up their studies.

"I wish old Crabtree would come outside during recess," murmured Pepper
to Jack. "Maybe we wouldn't do a thing to him, eh?"

"He'll know better than to show himself," answered Jack, and he was
right, the teacher kept indoors all day.

But George Strong came out, and took a snowballing in good part. He even
threw a few balls himself, showing that his aim was as good as any of the
boys.

"He's the kind of a teacher to have," was Andy's comment. "A fellow can't
help but take to him."

The snow continued all of that day, and by nightfall was nearly a foot
deep. It was very blustery, and in some spots the drifts reached up to
one's head.

"This will make traveling bad," said Jack, and he was right. On the roads
in that vicinity horses with their turnouts could scarcely get through.

Poor Peleg Snuggers came in for his full share of the snowballing. As
soon as the general utility man appeared, he was bombarded from all
sides, and had to run for his life.

"Let up, please let up!" he bawled. "You ain't fer killin' an old man, be
you?"

"The snow will do you good, Peleg. It will make you grow," sang out
Pepper.

"It will make you handsome," put in Dave Kearney. "You want to be
handsome, don't you, Peleg?"

"It will teach you how to dance," came from Harry Blossom. "See, he is
dancing already." And Peleg was dancing, with pain, for a big snowball
had just landed in his left ear.

"Oh, dear, I knowed it!" he groaned. "The minit the snow comes, there
ain't no rest fer me. I'm goin' to resign!" And then he rushed for the
barn.

On the following day the sun shone brightly, and this caused the snow to
pack down. A dozen of the boys set to work to build a snow house and a
fort.

"This is going to be the biggest house yet," announced Pepper. And he and
his chums worked with a will. They kept at it during all of their spare
time for two days, and when done the top of the house was fifteen feet
high.

"This is a regular snow palace," cried Andy. "Let us stick a flag on the
top."

"I don't see how you are going to get it up there," returned Jack. "If
you climb up, now the windows are cut out, you'll cave in the roof."

"I'll be careful," said Andy, and ran off to get a small flag which they
had had on their tent during the brief encampment.

In the meantime, Pepper and Harry Blossom were inside of the snow house,
leveling off the flooring with their shovels. Jack went off to get a
bench, and Dale to get a stool.

Having procured his flag, Andy crawled up on the top of the house with
care and placed it in position. Then he came down and went around to the
doorway.

"Our colors are up," he announced. "Say, it's all right in here," he
added, looking around. "A fellow could live in here if he had to."

"Why not, since the Esquimaux live in snow huts," returned Harry. "It
might prove pretty cold, unless a fellow could start up a fire."

While the friends were talking, Dan Baxter came up, accompanied by Paxton
and Coulter.

"Hullo, look at the snow house!" exclaimed the bully. "Let us make one."

"I guess we can make a better one than this," growled Paxton.

"Say, let us cave it in on 'em," whispered Coulter.

"All right," answered Baxter, eagerly. "How shall we do it?"

"Let's all run up to the top. Come on!"

Andy had gone into the house, to aid Pepper and Harry, and nobody was
near. Looking around, to make sure they were not observed, Baxter,
Paxton, and Coulter ran up on the snow house and began to jump up and
down. There came a crack, several others, and then with scarcely a sound
the top of the snow house went down, burying the boys above up to their
knees.

"Get out of this!" exclaimed Baxter, and pulled himself free, followed by
his cronies. Soon they were clear of the snow and running across the
campus.

It was at that moment that Jack re-appeared, followed by Dale.

"Hullo, the house has caved in!" ejaculated the young major.

"Somebody is under the snow," came from Dale. "Don't you see the end of
that shovel moving?"

"Whoever is in there will be smothered to death, if we don't get him
out," went on Jack. "Come, get the snow out of the way as fast as you
can."

The pair set to work, and in a moment more several other cadets were
helping them. Then somebody ran off and called George Strong, who came to
the spot on the double-quick.

"Yes, yes, we must get them out at once," said the assistant teacher. "It
doesn't take much to smother a person under the snow. Work lively, boys!"

They did work lively, throwing the snow on all sides. The teacher worked
with them.

"Look out that you don't hurt somebody with your shovels," said Jack,
cautiously.

Soon he caught sight of a foot and then a leg. He began to pull, and
George Strong aided him, and up came Harry Blossom, almost black in the
face.

"Oh!" gasped the cadet.

"Who is under there?" demanded George Strong.

"Andy Snow and Pepper Ditmore," answered Harry. "Oh, get them out if you
can! If you don't, they'll surely be smothered to death!"

"Yes, we must get them out," came from Jack. "Come on--work harder than
ever!"



                              CHAPTER XXIV
                          A CHALLENGE ACCEPTED


It was soon noised around the Hall that two of the cadets had been buried
alive in the snow, and the whole school gathered around the collapsed
snow house, and as many went to work to dig out Pepper and Andy as could
get close enough.

On the outside of the crowd stood Baxter, Paxton, and Coulter, and the
face of each was pale and full of fear.

"I--I didn't think it was going to end this way," muttered Coulter,
hoarsely.

"Hush!" returned the bully, fiercely. "Do you want to be found out?"

"That's it--mum's the word," put in Paxton. "If we are found out, it may
mean our dismissal from the school."

"But if one or the other is dead----" Coulter could not finish the
sentence. Baxter clapped a hand over his mouth.

"Shut up, I say!" he cried. "Not a word more."

The workers had now gotten almost to the bottom of the snow house.
Presently they uncovered the form of Pepper. Close beside him lay Andy.
Both were partly unconscious.

"Give them air!" ordered George Strong. "Get back, boys!" And then the
two sufferers were laid out on the snow and several went to work to
revive them.

"Oh, I hope they get over it!" murmured Jack. He could not bear to think
of anything serious happening to his chums.

For several minutes all were in doubt. Then Pepper began to move, and
Andy gave a faint gasp.

"They are reviving!"

"Thank Heaven for that!" murmured Jack.

A little later the two sufferers sat up and stared around them.

"How do you feel, Pepper?" asked Dale.

"I--I don't know. The--the house came down on our heads, didn't it?"

"Yes."

"I remember now," came from Andy. "It came down awful sudden like, too."

"Do you feel anyway ill, boys?" questioned George Strong, kindly.

"I--I'm weak in the knees," answered Pepper, and Andy said the same.

"We'll carry them into the Hall," said Jack, and soon the two sufferers
were made comfortable indoors. Andy soon declared he felt as well as
ever.

"How did the snow house come to cave in?" questioned Jack, after the
excitement had somewhat subsided.

"I give it up," answered Andy. "The roof came down on us without
warning."

"Some fellows climbed up on the snow house," put in Bart Conners.

"Climbed up on it?" queried Jack.

"Yes, three fellows. I saw it go down with them. Then the three fellows
ran away as fast as they could go."

"Who were those three fellows?" questioned Andy.

"I can't tell you. I had been down to the lake looking to see if there
was any clear ice for skating. I was too far off to recognize them."

"Humph! that explains it," murmured the young major. "The snow house was
caved in on purpose."

"I'd like to know who would be so mean!" exclaimed Andy. "Those chaps
must have known that we were inside."

"Perhaps they didn't think it would be anything serious," came from
Stuffer, who was near. "Maybe they got scared after it went down, and
then they ran away."

The news that three cadets had caved in the snow house spread, and before
the day was over Captain Putnam did his best to locate the offenders. But
Baxter, Paxton, and Coulter said nothing, and they were not exposed.

"This was a mean and serious trick to play," said the captain, on
addressing the scholars. "Had it not been for the prompt work done to
rescue those under the snow, one or more lives might have been lost. I
wish to hear of no more such actions at Putnam Hall. If I learn who is
responsible I shall punish that party severely."

"Phew! we had a narrow escape," said Baxter, when he and his cronies were
safe in their dormitory. "Bart Conners saw us from the lake shore."

"Yes, but he didn't recognize us," added Coulter.

"I hope no one else saw us," said Paxton.

"I reckon we are safe. But we want to stop talking of it, or somebody may
overhear us," said the bully; and there the subject was dropped.

On the following day the boys had a big snow fight. Company A went into
the snow fort to defend it, while Company B did its best to capture the
stronghold. Andy and Pepper did not take part, as Captain Putnam thought
it best for them to keep quiet. But the other lads went at the fight with
a will, and the contest lasted for three hours, when the fort
capitulated. During the fight Stuffer was hit a heavy blow in the ear,
and Dan Baxter got a black eye from a "soaker."

"I wish I knew who threw that soaker!" howled the bully of Putnam Hall.
"I'd give him something, and don't you forget it!"

"I think Jack Ruddy threw it," said Mumps, although he had no reason for
such a statement.

During the fort fight Jack and Baxter had had something of a row, and the
bully was willing enough to believe what the sneak said. When Jack went
down to the gymnasium after the fight was over, the bully followed him.

"You think you're smart to hit me with a soaker," he said harshly. "For
two pins I'd knock you down."

Jack was angry, too, and without answering he took two pins from his coat
lapel and held them out.

"Do you mean that?" blustered the bully. He had not expected to have his
challenge accepted thus quickly.

"I do," was Jack's cool answer. "You are itching for a thrashing, Baxter,
and if you don't shut up pretty quick you'll get it."

"A fight! A fight!" cried several cadets, and the news spread like
wildfire that the young major was going to fight the bully of Putnam
Hall.

"Baxter is too heavy for Major Ruddy," said one.

"Jack will be knocked out clean and clear."

"I don't know about that. Jack can do some pretty good bag-punching,"
said another, which was true.

"Don't fight here, Jack," whispered Dale, who was present. "You are sure
to be found out, and then there will be a big row. Baxter wouldn't like
anything better than to see you lose your majorship."

"But I am not going to take his insults, Dale," returned Jack.

"Then fight some other place. I know a good spot. Down back of the
bathing houses. There is a clear space there."

"Are you going to fight?" blustered Baxter, doubling up his fists.

"If you wish to, Baxter."

"But not here," broke in Dale. "Come on back of the bathing houses."

"Yes, yes, that's a good spot!" came from several. "Come on!" And they
hurried from the gymnasium.

"I'd just as soon fight here," said the bully.

"Because you have nothing to lose by being found out," retorted Dale.
"Come on--unless you are afraid." And he led Jack out of the building.

"I won't----" began Baxter.

"Don't be a quitter, Baxter!" cried several. "Come on--unless you really
are afraid."

"I'm afraid of nobody in this school!" roared Baxter. "I'll fight him
here or anywhere he wants. Just you see me do him up in no time!"

"Talk is cheap," said Stuffer, who had come up. "After Jack is down and
out I'll believe you, not before."

The crowd was soon at a convenient spot behind the bathing houses. Here
the wind had swept the snow from the ground. The word had circulated
thoroughly, and fully fifty cadets were assembled to see the fight.

"Watch him closely, Jack!" whispered Andy. "He may try to play you foul."

"I'll be on my guard," answered the young major.

Each of the contestants took off his coat, and likewise his collar. Then
they faced each other; and the all-important fight was on.



                              CHAPTER XXV
                          HOW THE FIGHT ENDED


It must be admitted that Jack was a little in doubt as to the outcome of
the fight before him. Dan Baxter was large, and was something of a boxer
and an athlete. In fact, he could fight better than he could learn his
lessons.

"I've got to go at him from the start, otherwise he may wear me out," the
young major told himself.

With clenched fists the two cadets circled around, each watching for a
chance to deliver a blow. Those watching the contest formed a large
circle, and numerous were the words of advice given.

"Land him a good one, Jack!"

"Paste him hard, Dan!"

Suddenly Baxter's fist shot out and landed on Jack's breast, sending the
young major back a step or two. Then Jack sent in a blow on the bully's
arm. Next came several hits which were of small consequence.

"Give it to him good, Jack," came from Andy. "Don't fool."

"How do you like that?" cried the bully, and hit Jack a stinging blow in
the cheek.

It was just what was needed to wake the young major up. All of his real
fighting blood leaped to the surface, and an instant later he sent out
his fist on the bully's nose. Then, before Baxter could recover, he hit
out once more, and struck Baxter on the chin, lifting him from his feet
and sending him on his back in the snow.

"Hurrah! Jack has knocked Baxter down!"

"Time!" called out Paxton, and rushed to his crony's assistance. He
caught the bully by the arm and dragged him to his feet.

"Are you much hurt?" he demanded.

"What did--did he hi-hit me with?" stammered the fallen one.

"With his fist," answered Dale. "I reckon it was hard enough, wasn't it?"

"He struck me with something else--a stone," cried the bully.

"No, I didn't," ejaculated Jack. He held up his open hands. "I haven't a
thing but my fingers and thumbs."

Again the pair faced each other. Baxter was in a rage, and after a few
light passes he rushed in and clinched. Around and around the ring went
the two cadets, each trying to get the better of the other.

"Break away!" was the cry. "Break away!" But neither Jack nor Baxter paid
attention. Baxter had Jack bent far over and was hitting him on the neck.

"That's not fair!" cried Andy, but scarcely had he spoken when Jack
ducked still lower, and like a flash Baxter was raised in the air and
thrown over the young major's back. He came down with a thud, and before
he could get up Jack was on top of him.

"Do you give in, Baxter?" he demanded.

"I--er--I----"

"Get off of him!" cried Paxton. "That's no fair way to fight. Let him
up."

"I'll let him up," came from Jack, and he leaped up and away. Baxter sat
up, stared around, and arose slowly to his feet.

"Come on!" cried the young major. "Unless you have had enough."

"Oh, I'm all right," was the reply. "I'll fix you yet; see if I don't."

Once more the pair went at it, hammer and tongs. Blows flew thick and
fast, but to the majority of the boys it was easily to be seen that Jack
was getting the better of it. Baxter was almost winded, and stood up with
difficulty. He felt that another blow or two would make him fall.
Watching his chance, he tipped a wink to Paxton.

"Cheese it! Here comes one of the teachers!" called out Paxton. "Run for
it unless you want to be caught."

The cry was taken up on all sides, even though nobody saw the teacher. At
once Dan Baxter stepped back and reached for his collar and coat.

"I'll fix you another time, Jack Ruddy," he muttered, and hurried away
before the young major could reply.

Slipping on his own coat and adjusting his collar, Jack gazed around and
then, with his chums, walked toward the gymnasium.

"That was a fake, I believe," said he. "I don't see anybody."

"Paxton gave the alarm," came from Dale.

"Baxter winked at him--I saw him do it," said Stuffer. "I guess he wanted
to stop. He was pretty dizzy. Another blow or two would have finished
him."

"Never mind, I'll finish him some other time," answered Jack. "He won't
behave himself until he is well whipped."

Baxter did not stop until he reached his dormitory. He sank into a chair,
and, later on, bathed his swollen face and eyes.

"He's a pretty hard fighter," said Paxton.

"Pooh! I am not afraid of him, Nick," growled the bully. "The truth is
I--I shouldn't have tried to fight to-day," he went on, lamely. "I'm not
feeling well. My--er--my stomach is all out of order."

"I knew there must be something the matter," said Paxton,
sympathetically. "You didn't hit out like I expected."

"Wait till I'm myself; I'll lay him out cold," said the bully,
boastingly.

But for the present he was content to keep out of Jack's sight, and in
public he said little about the contest. Behind it all he was frightened.

"I've got to be careful how I go at him," he told himself. "He knows how
to handle his fists better than I thought."

After the fight matters remained quiet for some time to come. A brisk
wind cleared some of the snow from the lake, and the cadets spent a large
portion of their off time in skating. Some of the cadets built themselves
ice-boats, and had not a little fun in sailing up and down the lake
shore. One ice-boat was the property of Dale and Harry Blossom, and on an
afternoon Coulter, Paxton, and Mumps made off with the craft, without
asking permission to use it.

"That is what I call nerve!" Dale declared, when he heard the news. "Just
wait till they get back! I'll give them a piece of my mind!"

"And so will I!" added Harry. "Our friends can use the ice-boat if they
wish, but not such fellows as Paxton, Coulter, and Mumps."

The cadets who had gone off with the ice-boat did not know much about
running such a craft, although Mumps knew all about ordinary sailing
boats, having come from the Hudson River, as previously stated. The wind
carried the trio out of sight of the Hall, and they sat down to enjoy
themselves.

"This is all right!" said Coulter, enthusiastically. "Nick, we ought to
build a boat of our own."

"Too much labor," grumbled Paxton. "What's the use, when you can get
someone else's craft for nothing?" And he laughed.

"They'll be angry when they hear how we went off," came from Mumps.

"Perhaps, but I don't think they'll do anything."

Sailing with the wind was easy enough, and soon several miles were
covered.

"We had better turn around," said the sneak of the school. "Remember, it
won't be near so easy tacking back."

"Oh, don't turn back yet," said Paxton. "It's fine to spin along. Let her
go!" And on they went for another mile.

"Hi! hi!" shouted Coulter, suddenly. "Look ahead! What's that?"

"It's open water!" gasped Mumps. "Stop her! Lower the sail! We'll be
drowned!"

As speedily as possible they lowered the sail of the ice-boat. But the
momentum carried them closer and closer to the water, and at last they
had to jump out on the ice to try to save themselves. All rolled over and
over.

"Help! I'll drown!" shrieked Mumps, when he found himself in the water.
He floundered around, and so did his companions. Then Paxton stood up.

"Stand up--it's not deep," he called out, and they stood up and found the
water only up to their waists. The ice-boat lay near, floating around on
its side. Not far off was the bank of the lake.

"Birr! how cold!" came from Coulter.

"Don't sa--say a wo--word!" chattered Mumps. "I--I--can--can't get my
br--br--breath!"

"Haul the ice-boat in," came from Paxton, and in disgust they brought the
craft to shore. Here they huddled close together, shivering from head to
feet.

"I--I wi--wish we ha--had--hadn't ta--ta--ta--taken the con--confounded
bo--boat!" chattered Mumps. "Oh, this is dreadful! I'll be frozen stiff
in another minute!"

"How are we to get back?" questioned Coulter. "If we sail back we'll be
frozen to death before we re--reach th--the Hall."

They stared at each other in dismay. They were in a pickle truly, and did
not know how to help themselves.



                              CHAPTER XXVI
                            FRIENDS IN NEED


While the boys were staring around helplessly, and shaking from head to
feet from the cold, Coulter espied another ice-boat coming along the lake
shore.

"Let us stop those chaps!" he called. "Come on! Run!"

The others needed no second bidding. Anything was better than standing
still, and they set off at a dog-trot, and soon came up to the ice-boat.
It was a craft belonging to Bart Conners and some of his intimates.

"Stop! Stop!" yelled Coulter, Paxton, and Mumps. "Stop! There is open
water ahead!"

These cries were heard, and without hesitation Bart Conners turned his
craft into shore, allowing it to slide deep into a snowdrift.

"Oh, pshaw! Why didn't we think to run our boat ashore?" muttered
Coulter. Such a simple move had never entered the heads of the ill-fated
trio.

"What's the matter with you fellows?" demanded Bart Conners. "Why, you
look frozen to death!"

"W--we are--al--almost!" gasped Paxton. "Ca--can't you help us?"

"Did your boat go into the water?"

"Yes."

"Here's a blanket, we've been using it for a seat," sang out a cadet in
Conners' crowd. "Wrap yourself in that."

"Here's my overcoat, Mumps," said another. "I've got my sweater on and
don't need it."

"Coulter, you can take my overcoat," came from Bart Conners.

The three wet cadets were willing enough to don the things handed out to
them. But even with these dry coverings all were intensely chilled.

"Jump on and we'll take you back to the Hall as fast as we can," said
Conners. "It's dreadful to take a plunge in the lake in such weather as
this."

"Who lent you the ice-boat?" asked a cadet in the crowd.

"Oh--we--er--we only thought we'd have a bit of fun," stammered Mumps.

"Phew! if you took that boat without permission, I guess you got paid for
it," was Bart's comment.

The ice-boat was turned back, and as speedily as it could be done, they
brought the craft up to the Putnam Hall landing. Here they met Dale and
Harry.

"What do you fellows mean by running off with our ice-boat?" demanded
Dale.

"It was a mean piece of business," put in Harry. "You ought to be pounded
good for it!"

"Don't scold them now," said Bart. "They've been punished enough. They
got a ducking in the ice-cold water."

"Oh!"

"The ice-boat ran into the open water, and they might have been drowned,
only the water wasn't deep enough," put in another cadet.

"Where is the ice-boat now?" questioned Dale.

"In the open water near shore. I guess you can pull her in by throwing a
line over her," answered Bart.

Like so many half-drowned rats, Paxton, Coulter, and Mumps sneaked into
the Hall, and up to their rooms. The news soon circulated that they had
fallen into the lake, and Captain Putnam ordered them to bed, and had
Mrs. Green prepare some hot tea for them. In the meantime Dale and Harry
took a ride on Bart's ice-boat, and soon succeeded in hauling the
overturned craft to the firm ice once more. The ice-boat was not damaged,
and a little while later Dale and Harry were sailing her as before.

"I hope that teaches those fellows a lesson to leave our things alone,"
said Dale, and it did teach Coulter, Paxton, and Mumps a lesson, at least
as far as the ice-boat was concerned.

Following the adventure just narrated, came a series of heavy
snow-storms, which are remembered even to this day at Putnam Hall. They
lasted over the holidays, and many boys who had planned to visit their
homes at Christmas had to forego that pleasure. One party that left got
stalled on the cars just outside of Ithaca, and remained in the
snowdrifts for twenty-four hours. Another party got as far as Cedarville,
and after remaining there one whole day returned to the Hall.

That the cadets might not feel too blue because they were snowed in,
Captain Putnam allowed them to do pretty much as they pleased during
Christmas week. A fine turkey dinner was served on Christmas and on New
Year's day, and the boys had a great deal of sport in the Hall and in the
gymnasium. Captain Putnam allowed them to have some private theatricals,
and Jack, Pepper, Andy, Dale, and several others gave a two-act drama
entitled "The Boy from the Country." Andy was the country boy who comes
to the city to seek his fortune, and Dale played the part of an old lady
who knows the boy's rich uncle. The drama was full of fun, and was well
received. Before the drama came a banjo solo by one of the cadets, and
then a duet by two of the cadets who could sing remarkably well.

While the singing was going on, Pepper noticed Dan Baxter sneaking behind
the stage, and pointed him out to Dave Kearney.

"I think he is up to mischief," he said. "I've got to go on in the next
dialogue. Won't you watch him?"

"Sure I will," answered Dave, and hurried after Baxter. He was in time to
see the bully throw something on the floor, just at the places where the
actors and singers made their entrances and exits.

"Grease!" murmured Dave Kearney, after getting down and feeling of the
stuff with his fingers. "How mean! The boys would look fine, sprawling
all over the stage."

As soon as he had greased the floor Dan Baxter slipped back to his seat
in the hall.

"Be careful," said Dave, running around to those who were waiting to
perform.

"Careful of what?" demanded several.

"Of grease on the floor. If you're not, you'll go sliding from one side
of the stage to the other."

"How did the grease get there?" asked Jack.

"Dan Baxter put it there--I saw him do it."

"Say, he ought to be mobbed!" cried Andy.

"What a dirty trick!" came from another student. "We ought to pay him
back for that."

"Let us pay him back to-night," suggested Stuffer.

So it was agreed, and it was also settled that nobody should say a word
about the grease until the proper time came. The performance went on,
each performer taking good care not to get too much grease on his soles,
and stepping out with caution. At last the show was over, and the final
curtain went down amid great applause and cheering.

"That was as good as a professional show," declared Joe Nelson.

"Sure an' it was betther nor some professional shows," put in Hogan.
"Wanct I wint to a show in the country--a travelin' troupe 'twas--an'
they couldn't act fer a sour apple. The b'ys got ancient eggs, an' the
stage was a soight to see afther thim players got out av town!"

The performance had lasted until half-past ten, and as soon as it was
over the majority of the cadets retired to their dormitories. With the
crowd went Dan Baxter, much disgusted that his joke had not turned out as
he had anticipated.

"I suppose one of them found out about the grease, and he told the rest,"
was the way he reasoned. "Hang the luck anyway! I don't seem to be able
to get square with that crowd, no matter what I do!"

Baxter was tired, and it was not long before he was in the land of
dreams. How long he slept he knew not, but of a sudden he awoke, to find
a handkerchief tied across his mouth. Then his arms were tied to his
sides, his feet were fastened, and he was raised up out of bed by six
persons and carried from the dormitory.

He was not greatly frightened, because he thought some of the others in
the dormitory were playing a joke on him. He tried to see the faces of
the cadets, but could not, for each of the party had a big paper bag
thrust over his head, with two holes in front, for seeing purposes.

Baxter was carried downstairs to the lower floor of the Hall. Then the
party made its way to a side door.

"Throw a blanket over him, fellows," said one person, and then the bully
was almost smothered. The next instant he found himself out in the snow
and being carried toward the gymnasium. The building was soon reached and
the door opened. Then the whole party went inside, and a lantern was lit.

"Now set the prisoner up, and we will decide his fate," said one of the
masked cadets, and then the bully was placed on an empty box. His heart
sank within him, for he felt that he was not among friends, but among
those who had good cause to be his enemies.



                             CHAPTER XXVII
                       THE PUNISHMENT OF A BULLY


"Look here, what do you intend to do with me?" asked Dan Baxter, as soon
as he could speak.

"Punish you!" came from all of the masked boys.

"What for?"

"For many things."

"I don't know what I have done."

"You have tried to bully us," said one.

"You greased the stage at our entertainment," answered another.

"You are always quarreling with us," put in a third.

"You want to run things to suit yourself," came from a fourth.

"You get Mumps to play the sneak," added a fifth.

"I--I--don't!" cried the bully, and began to turn pale. "I want you to
let me go. It's cold here!"

"You'll feel warm enough before we get through with you," answered one of
the masked cadets, meaningly.

"If you--you hurt me, I'll--I'll----"

"Don't threaten us, Baxter. If you do, we'll treat you so much worse."

"It's a mean shame!"

"Stay where you are," said the leader of the masked cadets--it was Jack.
"If you move, it will be at the peril of your life!"

After that the crowd withdrew to a corner, leaving Baxter alone. The
bully wanted to escape, but he was afraid to try it. The masked cadets
held a consultation lasting several minutes.

"Just the thing!" was the cry. "Just the thing!"

"Now what do they intend to do?" asked the bully of himself. "Something
awful, I'm sure!"

"Baxter, we have decided on your fate," said one of the masked boys. It
was Pepper, but he disguised his voice well.

"What are you going to do?"

"We are going to brand you first and then march you out into the country,
so that you can't find your way back to Putnam Hall."

"Brand me! March me away! Don't you dare to do it!"

"Blindfold him first, fellows!" came from Andy, and the bully's eyes were
quickly bound tight with a handkerchief.

"Now heat up that iron," came loudly from one of the masked cadets. "I
think that a B on his forehead will look beautiful."

"What are you going to--to--put a B on me for?" asked Baxter, with a
shiver.

"B stands for Bully, and that is what you are, Dan Baxter. Hurry up with
that iron, boys."

"No! No!"

"The iron is getting hot!" came from Dale. He had stepped to one of the
windows and brought in a sharp-pointed icicle.

"Nos. 3, 4, 6, and 7 will hold him, while Nos. 1 and 2 perform the
operation. No. 5 can remain on guard."

"If you brand me, I'll--I'll----" began the bully.

"Silence! If you dare to cry out, we'll brand you on the cheeks as well
as the forehead."

"I won't stand it!" roared the bully and started to get from the
gymnasium, bound as he was. But they tripped him up with ease, and as he
went headlong, one cadet sat on his breast and another on his legs,
rendering him helpless.

"Now then, the iron!" called out Stuffer. "Brand him well."

The icicle was brought forward, and at the same time one of the boys cut
a little lock of hair from his head and lit a match. Then the icicle was
run over Baxter's forehead in the form of the letter B. At the same time
the lock of hair was lit and the smell of the burning hair was allowed to
reach the bully's nose.

"Oh! Oh!" yelled Baxter, squirming greatly. "Let up! Don't burn me! Oh,
I'll be marked for life! Oh, this is outrageous! Don't, I beg of you!
Please let me go! I'll--I'll do anything if you'll only let up on me!"

"Let up now," whispered Jack. "He may get a fit! He is almost scared out
of his life!"

"Now then, the blanket and the old boots," came from Andy, and the victim
of the hazing was provided with a big pair of old rubber boots and a
heavy horse blanket.

"What's this for?" asked the bully.

"For your long tramp into the country," was the answer.

"I don't want to go out into the country this cold night! Let me go,
please do!"

"It's too late to beg, Baxter. You have been a bad boy, and you must take
your medicine."

"I'll have the law on you!"

In a minute more the gymnasium door was opened and the victim was marched
outside. He was well blindfolded, so that he could not see where he was
going. The masked cadets led him into the woods, around the boathouse,
and then made half a dozen turns, so that Baxter was completely
bewildered.

"Here's the old shanty," said Jack, in a loud voice, when they came to a
halt. "Put him into the garret and leave him." And then Baxter was
marched into the carriage house of Putnam Hall and made to mount the
ladder to the loft. Here he was tied to a post, but in such a loose
fashion that he could get free with ease.

"Now, Baxter, listen," said Jack, still in an assumed voice. "You are
probably four miles from Putnam Hall. Don't try to get away, or you may
get into more trouble. To-morrow night we'll come back and finish our
job."

"I--I can't stay here so long. It's cold and I--I ain't got anything to
eat."

"Well, make the best of it," was the cry, and then the masked cadets
scampered off, and a few minutes later were safe in their dormitories in
the Hall.

With a sinking heart Dan Baxter listened to them depart, and then gave a
deep groan.

"I--I can't stand this!" he muttered to himself. "It's dreadful! And to
think they branded me, too. What will Paxton and the others say!"

The loft was not a particularly cold place, for the windows were tightly
closed. Waiting to make sure that the crowd had gone, he pulled himself
free from his bonds.

When he placed his hand to his forehead he could scarcely believe the
evidence of his senses. He could feel nothing of the branding--his
forehead was not sore--it did not hurt! What could it mean?

"They must have tricked me!" he told himself. "What a fool I was to raise
such a howl! How they'll laugh at me for it! But it did feel just as if I
was being burnt!"

All was pitch-dark around him, for the masked cadets had taken the
lantern with them. He stepped forward and ran into a low beam, giving his
forehead a severe bump.

"Ouch! Nothing fake about that!" he muttered, dancing around. "I'll have
to be careful, or I'll break my neck. Wonder how far I am from the Hall
and what sort of a place this can be?" He felt around and grasped some
old spider webs. "Some half tumbled down shanty, I suppose. Perhaps I'd
better make myself at home until morning," and he crouched down and hid
himself in the old horse blanket. He remained awake half the night,
finally falling off into a troubled doze.

When Baxter awoke it was early morning and still dark. He felt cold from
head to feet and gave a shiver.

"I'd give five dollars to be back at the Hall," he muttered to himself.
"Wonder if I can walk the distance before it gets too light? If any
person sees me on the road with the rubber boots and this horse blanket
they'll take me for a lunatic." He gave a deep sigh. "I suppose I must be
two miles away, at least. They said four, but maybe they piled it on."

Several times the bully thought of starting out but gave it up, thinking
he might lose his way; but when it became lighter he took a look around
the loft and presently descended the ladder to the ground floor of the
carriage house.

"Hi, you tramp! Wot be you a-doin' up there, tell me that?" cried a voice
from the other end of the building.

"I'm no tramp, sir," answered Baxter. "I am--Peleg Snuggers!"

"If it ain't Master Baxter!" ejaculated the general utility man, who had
just started in on his morning work. "Well, I never! How did you git
here?"

"What place is this, Peleg?"

"Wot place? Why, the carriage house, o' course."

"What!" yelled Dan Baxter; and at that instant he was by far the maddest
boy the school ever contained.

"Sure. Wot did you think it was, eh?"

"Never mind. Is the back door to the Hall open?"

"Yes."

"Then I'm going in," answered the bully, and ran off without another
word.



                             CHAPTER XXVIII
                         THE RESULTS OF A FIRE


That morning Dan Baxter did not appear and it was reported that he was
sick.

"He acts to me as if he were going to die," announced Mumps, when
appealed to. "I don't know exactly what is the matter with him."

"Can this be true?" asked Pepper of Jack. "I'd hate to think that Baxter
got sick through what we did to him."

"More than likely he is shamming," said the young major, and he was
right. But to make sure Captain Putnam sent for Doctor Framley, a
physician of Cedarville, who made a careful examination.

"He is nervous, as if he had been frightened, that is all," announced the
medical man. "Let him keep quiet for a day or two."

Baxter had hoped to scare his tormentors into thinking that they were
responsible for a serious spell of sickness. When this plan failed he
quickly got around as before. He tried his best to find out who had hazed
him, but the cadets kept their secret well.

On the day following the hazing Jack chanced to go down to the lake
front. He was just entering the boathouse when, to his astonishment, two
men stepped forth. They were the individuals he had seen several times on
the mysterious sloop.

"Say, what do you want here?" he demanded, but instead of replying the
men hurried away, up the lake, and then in the direction of Cedarville.

"Well, of all the mysteries I ever struck," exclaimed the young major.
"Now, what can those chaps be up to? This is at least the third or fourth
time they have come here, and nobody seems to know anything about them."

When Jack returned to the Hall he lost no time in visiting Captain
Putnam's office.

"Perhaps you'll laugh at me, sir," he said. "But I want to report those
two men again."

"Again!" cried the master of Putnam Hall. "Where did you see them?"

"At the boathouse. I went down there for a skate strap. They were just
coming out."

"Did you speak to them?"

"Yes, I asked them what they wanted. They didn't answer, and hurried away
on the Cedarville road."

"Did they take anything out of the boathouse?"

"I don't know."

"I must assuredly investigate this, Major Ruddy. Let us go to the
boathouse together."

This was done and they took a careful look around. Nothing was missing.

"Why can't we follow them up once?" questioned Jack. "We ought to be able
to overtake them in a cutter."

"A good idea. I'll have Snuggers get a cutter ready at once. Get your
overcoat and your gloves."

In a few minutes they were on the way, the captain driving and Jack
sitting by his side. They drove all the way to the village, but saw
nothing of the men.

"Perhaps they turned off on a side road," said the young major.

"It is possible."

There was nothing to do but to return to Putnam Hall. This they did; and
for the time being the subject was dropped.

At the end of the week, Jack, Pepper, Andy, and Dale got permission to
visit Cedarville, one to buy a pair of skates, and the others to get
various things. They set out on foot, thinking nothing of the rather long
walk before them.

Just before reaching Cedarville they came to a side road, leading to a
spot called Brierroot Grove. A short distance up the road was a two-story
cottage, located behind a hedge of boxwood.

"Look!" cried Andy, pointing to the cottage, "Am I mistaken, or is that
place on fire?"

"It's the chimney smoking," answered Pepper.

"No, it's a fire coming up through the roof around the chimney!" burst
out Jack.

"Let us go to the fire!" sang out Dale, and suiting the action to the
word, he turned down the side road, and the others followed at his heels.

By the time they reached the cottage the place was burning fiercely
throughout the second story and around the roof.

"I don't see anybody," said Pepper. "Perhaps the place isn't occupied."

"Maybe tramps set it on fire," suggested Dale.

"I see two men!" cried Jack. "Well, I never!"

"What is it, Jack?"

"The men from the sloop! Here is where they must have been putting up!"

The cadets ran into the yard of the house and to the front door. They had
seen the two men pass in and out, carrying some furniture.

"How did this start?" called out Pepper to one of the men.

At this cry both men turned around to gaze at the youths. Then one spoke
to the other in a low tone, and off they ran to the rear of the cottage,
leaped a rail fence, and disappeared from view in the woods.

"Stop!" yelled Jack, but the men paid no attention.

"They are the queerest chaps I ever met!" declared Pepper. "I believe
they must be crazy."

"Help! help!" came in a weak cry from the cottage.

"Somebody is in there!" said Dale.

"It's a woman," returned Jack. "Come on!" And he ran into the cottage.

The others followed. The smoke was growing thick, and at first they could
see nothing. Then they saw an old woman with a crutch, trying to hobble
down a pair of stairs.

"Don't let me burn up!" she screamed. "Don't let me burn up!"

Running to the old woman, Jack caught her in his arms. It was an easy
matter to carry her to the open air. Here he sat her down on an old
horse-block which was clear of snow. She was trembling so she could not
speak.

It was easily to be seen that the cottage was doomed. The village of
Cedarville boasted of nothing better than an old hand engine and a bucket
brigade, and to get the engine through the snow was next to impossible.

"Let us take out what furniture we can," said Jack, and this they did,
and also carried out some clothing, a lamp and a few pictures. While the
building was burning a crowd of thirty or forty folks collected.

"It don't belong to the old woman," said one of the farmers to Jack. "It
belongs to Mr. Eggers, a rich man of Ithaca. He let her live in it
rent-free, because it wasn't worth much."

"Then the old woman didn't lose much," replied the young major. "Who is
she?"

"Her name is Mrs. Cowen. Nobody knows much about her, except that she has
a brother who lives near the head of the lake."

The old woman was taken to the nearest cottage, and there, after the fire
was at an end, Jack went to interview her.

"I'm goin' to live with my brother now--I ain't goin' to live alone no
more," she murmured.

"We got out most of your furniture."

"Twasn't mine--it belonged to the house. The old hair trunk was mine. Did
ye save that?"

"Yes."

"Then I don't care much--brother Jim wants me anyway."

"I want to know about those two men who were stopping at the cottage,"
went on Jack. "Who are they?"

"Ain't they around?"

"No, they ran away."

"Humph! It's just like 'em. They were the strangest! Allers doin'
somethin' queer-like."

"Did they board with you?"

"Kind of--when they were to home. They went out a good deal. They each
paid three dollars a week. Sometimes they got their own meals, too--when
I wasn't feelin' well."

"Do you know their names?"

"No, 'ceptin' one was Bart an' tudder Paul. They had some scheme for
getting a million dollars."

"A million dollars?"

"Yes. They were after a fellow they called George. They said he had the
secret."

"I guess they were crazy," answered Jack. "Have you any idea where they
could have gone to?"

"No."

The old woman could tell no more, and a little later Jack left her, and
told his chums of what he had learned.

"Maybe the fellows will leave the neighborhood, now the house has burned
down," said Pepper.

"We must watch out for them," put in Andy. "They ought to be captured and
interviewed."



                              CHAPTER XXIX
                   THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GEORGE STRONG


Two days after the fire came another snow-storm, which lasted the best
part of a day and a night. After that the weather cleared rapidly, and it
became quite warm.

"I'm going to Malville," said George Strong, on Monday afternoon. "I
shall be back early in the morning."

"Very well, Mr. Strong," answered Captain Putnam.

Malville was a small settlement back of Top Rock Hill, and George Strong
said he had a distant relative there, whom he wished to see. He set off
in a cutter, and Jack and Pepper chanced to see him depart.

"Have a good time, Mr. Strong!" shouted Pepper, pleasantly.

"Thank you, Ditmore, I am going on business, not pleasure."

The following morning passed, and the assistant teacher did not appear.
Captain Putnam took his place in the classroom, and also taught during
the afternoon.

"This is strange," he said to Josiah Crabtree. "I expected him back by
ten o'clock, or noon at the latest."

The next day passed, and still George Strong did not show himself, nor
did he send any message to explain his absence.

Captain Putnam was much worried, and the absence of the assistant upset
matters in the school. All of the cadets began to talk of the affair.

"Maybe his horse ran away and threw him out on the rocks," said Stuffer.

"If I was the captain I'd investigate," came from Harry Blossom.

"He said he was going on business," said Pepper. "Perhaps the business
took longer than he expected."

Another day passed, and both the master of the hall and his cadets grew
worried. Josiah Crabtree was very sour, for he had to perform some of the
duties assigned to the missing teacher.

"He should have sense enough to come back," said he severely.

"Something is wrong, that is certain," answered Captain Putnam. "I am
going to investigate to-day."

When the boys heard that the captain was going to drive to Malville Jack,
Pepper, and Andy begged to be taken along.

"Perhaps we can be of assistance," suggested the young major. "That is,
if anything has happened to him on the road."

"Very well, I'll take the big sleigh and a team, and you can accompany
me," answered the captain.

In the end the party to go out numbered five, for Dale went along also.
The team was powerful, and in spite of the hills and the snow Malville
was reached in three hours. They found the cottage of George Strong's
relative, and were surprised to find it locked up.

"Nobody has been at home for a month," said a neighbor.

"Did you see anything of a man with a cutter around here yesterday, or a
day or two before?"

"No, sir."

"You would have seen him, had he stopped?"

"I think so. Our family generally see everything that is going on around
here."

The neighbor could tell no more, and Captain Putnam and the cadets were
nonplused.

"He must have gone somewhere!" declared Pepper. "The question is, where?"

"Let us ask the folks around town if they have seen him?" suggested Dale.

This was done, and at last they met a blacksmith who had seen George
Strong on the road a mile outside of Malville.

"He was stopping by the roadside, and two odd-looking men were talking to
him," said the blacksmith. "They seemed to be arguing about something."

"Wait!" burst out Jack. "Tell us how those men looked, if you can."

The blacksmith did so, and they listened with interest.

"The mysterious men, I'll wager a biscuit!" burst out Pepper.

"Exactly what I think," came from Jack.

"Don't you remember what the old woman told you?" came from Andy. "She
said those chaps were talking about a man named George!"

"That's it! Those men must have been hanging around Putnam Hall because
Mr. Strong was there."

The cadets looked at Captain Putnam, whose face was a study.

"You may be right, my lads," said the master of the Hall, slowly. "But
that doesn't explain what the men wanted of Mr. Strong, or where Mr.
Strong has gone to."

"I'm satisfied of one thing," said Jack. "Those men were up to nothing
good."

"Perhaps they robbed Mr. Strong of something, and threw his body into the
snow," suggested Dale.

They listened to all the blacksmith had to say, and then took him along,
so that he might point out the exact spot where the interview had taken
place. It was near a turn in the road, where the snow had drifted but
little.

"Here are many footprints," said Pepper, pointing with his hand.

"It looks to me as if there might have been a struggle," came from Andy.
"See how the snow is dug and scattered about."

"It does look as if something had been going on," answered the captain.
"See, the footprints lead along this path and into the forest."

"Here are the tracks of the horse and cutter!" shouted Dale, who had
wandered down the road. "They go into the woods, too. Do you know what I
think? I think those men either killed Mr. Strong, or made him a
prisoner, and then they carried him off!"

"Let us follow the tracks of the cutter," said Jack, and this was done;
the blacksmith accompanying them.

"It's a nasty business," said the blacksmith. "If those odd-lookin' men
killed your teacher they ought to be hung fer it!"

The tracks of the horse and cutter led into the forest, and then along a
cliff overlooking a stream now thickly covered with ice and snow.

"I see a little shanty!" cried Andy.

"Where?"

"Over yonder at the edge of that next cliff."

"Smoke is coming from the chimney," said Dale, an instant later. "That
shows somebody must be in the place."

"Let us approach with caution," came from Captain Putnam. "There is no
telling how those strange men will act if they are there."

"Better cut a few sticks," suggested Jack, and got out his jackknife.
They soon had sticks, and the blacksmith cut a good-sized club.

"If they be des'prit characters they'd better give me a wide berth," said
he.

Slowly they drew closer to the shanty. Just to the rear of the building
was an open shed, and here they saw the cutter, with the horse tied in a
corner and blanketed.

"What a shame to leave a horse out in such weather as this!" cried
Pepper.

"Those men must be in the shanty," said Captain Putnam. "I sincerely
trust that we find Mr. Strong unharmed."

"Let us slip up behind the trees," said Andy. "We ought to try to capture
them, or something, on the sly."

With caution they crept up behind the trees, and then walked slowly
toward the shanty. Some bushes helped to screen them, and soon they stood
at the very door to the place.

"Somebody is talking!" whispered Jack. "Listen!"

At first they heard only a murmur, but presently they made out what was
being said.

"Yes, sir, George, it's a million and nothing less!" one of the strange
men was saying. "A million, eh, Bart?"

"A million!" came from the other man. "A million, and all in cash, too!
We want no bonds or stocks."

"Stocks?" one of the mysterious men laughed harshly. "Stocks? Do you want
me to become poor again? Cash! It's cash we want, George!"

"What an easy time we can have on a million!" returned the other queer
individual.

"If you would only listen to reason!" came from George Strong. "I do not
know what has put this into your head. I haven't a million dollars, or
anything like it."

"You have!" came from both.

"You are acting very foolishly, Bart. And so are you, Paul. That failure
has turned your heads. If I----"

"I want that money, and I am going to have it!" roared the man called
Bart. "Hand over the million or I will shoot you!"

And drawing a pistol, he pointed it straight at George Strong's head.



                              CHAPTER XXX
                       A LUCKY ESCAPE--CONCLUSION


"Those men must be crazy!" cried Jack.

"I believe both of them are as mad as March hares," returned Captain
Putnam.

He tried the door, to find it locked. Putting his shoulder to the barrier
he burst it open, and the whole party stormed into the shanty.

"Oh, Captain Putnam!" cried George Strong, joyfully. "I am very glad that
you have come."

"Put down that pistol!" ordered the master of the Hall, sternly, and
looking the man named Bart straight in the eyes. "Put it down, I say!"

The man hesitated an instant, and then allowed the weapon to drop at his
side.

"I wasn't going to shoot anybody," he said, humbly.

"You had better give me the weapon," went on Captain Putnam, and wrenched
it from the man's grasp.

"Ha! they are attacking us!" shouted the other man. "Bart, we must fight
for it!" And with a wild spring he leaped upon Jack, and caught the young
major by the throat.

"Le--let up!" gasped Jack, and then he could say no more, for his wind
was completely cut off. Then the other man began to fight, so that the
captain and the blacksmith had their hands full trying to subdue him.

Seeing Jack's predicament, Pepper, Andy, and Dale rushed at the fellow
called Paul and dragged him backward. But he would not let go his hold
upon the young major, and Pepper hit him over the wrist with the stick.
Then the man's hand dropped, and Jack staggered back.

"We must make him a prisoner!" cried Andy, and they caught the man and
held him, while Jack got a rope from the sleigh. Soon the other man was
also bound. George Strong had had his hands tied behind him, and he was
quickly released.

"You do not know how thankful I am that you came," said the assistant,
warmly. "I--I imagine things were getting black for me."

"Let me go!" thundered the man called Bart. "I want my million dollars!"
And he glared wildly at George Strong and at the others.

"Do you know these men at all?" questioned Captain Putnam.

"I do, sir. I am sorry to say they are distant relatives of mine--third
cousins. Both of them used to be rich, but they went into an oil
speculation, and it failed, and they lost almost all of their money. That
seemed to turn their heads, and somehow they got a notion that I was
holding back a family treasure from them, a treasure they said was worth
one or two million dollars."

"Is there such a treasure?" asked Jack, curiously.

"I don't think so, although the story is told in our family that one of
my ancestors, during the Revolution, buried a pot of gold to keep the
English soldiers from getting it. But the amount could not have been
anything like a million."

"Those men were around the Hall a number of times," said Jack. "They were
the mysterious fellows I mentioned a long time ago."

"Yes, they came to see me on the sly if they could. I believe, had they
gotten the chance, they would have carried me off in their sloop."

"They ought to be put in an asylum," said Captain Putnam. "It is not safe
to allow them their liberty."

"With your permission. I'll turn them over to some of my relatives in the
West," answered George Strong. "I know they can manage them."

"As you please--but keep them away from the Hall in the future."

At first the two prisoners were furious, but when their fury subsided
they became very humble, and both began to cry.

"We wanted only our rights," whined one. "If I had a million dollars, I
could take an air-ship to the North Pole or the moon, or anywhere."

"He is certainly mad," said Andy. "What a dreadful condition to be in."

Late in the day the prisoners were taken to Cedarville, and George Strong
telegraphed for a relative to come at once and take charge of them.

"They may be crazy, but they told me something which I think may be
true," said the assistant teacher to the boys. "They said they were
watching around the school at the time you had the big snow house, and
they saw three cadets run up on top and cave it in. I questioned them,
and I am almost certain Coulter was one of the boys and Baxter another."

"It would be just like that crowd," exclaimed Pepper, bitterly. "If
Baxter and Coulter were in it the other fellow must have been Paxton or
Mumps,--I mean Fenwick, sir."

"They said they were all big boys."

"Then it must have been Paxton. That crowd always hangs together for
mischief."

As soon as they arrived at the Hall, Pepper tried to locate the bully and
his chums. The only cadet he could find of the crowd was Coulter.

"So, Coulter, it was you who helped to cave in that snow house, eh?" he
said, catching the cadet by the arm.

"Who--er--told you," stammered Coulter.

"Oh, don't deny it."

"I'm not denying it," was the bold reply. "What are you going to do about
it?"

"That!" cried Pepper, and hit Coulter a stinging blow in the mouth, which
loosened two front teeth. Then a regular fight ensued, and Coulter was
badly whipped. Paxton also received a thrashing at the hands of Andy,
while Baxter only escaped punishment by keeping out of sight excepting
during school hours.

"Now, maybe, they'll keep their distance for a while," said Pepper. But
he was mistaken, the bully of the Hall and his cronies were not subdued,
and what they did in retaliation will be told in another volume, to be
called "The Putnam Hall Rivals; or, Fun and Sport Afloat and Ashore." In
this book we will meet all of our friends once more, in games and
adventures as exciting as any of the past.

George Strong felt much relieved when a relative from the West came to
take the two crazy men away.

"I never want to see them again," said the assistant teacher. But he did
see them, and they did their best to cause him no end of trouble.

A week after the rescue of George Strong some of the cadets learned that
Captain Putnam's birthday was at hand. They asked the master of the Hall
if they could celebrate, and he gave the desired permission. Money was
raised among the cadets to present the captain with a fine set of
encyclopedias, and of this gift Captain Putnam was justly proud.

"All things considered, you are doing very well," said the master to his
pupils. "I am proud of you, and happy to think that Putnam Hall is
earning such a good reputation for itself."

"I shouldn't want to go to a better school," said Jack. "It just suits me
exactly."

"So say I," came from Pepper. "Of course we might do without Baxter and
that crowd----"

"Every school seems to have its bully," put in Andy. "All we can do is to
make him keep his place."

"Don't bother with Baxter!" broke in Dale. "Let us enjoy ourselves."

Just then Stuffer burst into the dormitory, his face wreathed in smiles.

"Come to the mess-hall!" he called out. "Such a spread! I'm going to eat
the meal of my life!"

"That settles it," laughed Jack. "Hurry up, all of you. If Stuffer gets
there first, there will be nothing left!"

And they rushed down the stairs pell-mell; and here let us leave them and
say good-bye.


                                THE END


                      The Famous Rover Boys Series

                         By ARTHUR W. WINFIELD
    Each volume is hailed with delight by boys and girls everywhere
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    Or, The Struggle for the Stanhope Fortune
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GROSSET & DUNLAP,    ·    NEW YORK



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

Obvious typographical errors were corrected without note.





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