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Title: The Putnam Hall Rebellion - or, The Rival Runaways
Author: Stratemeyer, Edward
Language: English
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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.

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               “DOWN WENT THE MISCELLANEOUS COLLECTION.”
     _The Putnam Hall Rebellion._    _Frontispiece._ (_Page 157._)



                            THE PUTNAM HALL
                               REBELLION
                        _Or, The Rival Runaways_


                                   BY
                           ARTHUR M. WINFIELD
AUTHOR OF “THE PUTNAM HALL CADETS,” “THE PUTNAM HALL RIVALS,” “THE ROVER
                           BOYS SERIES,” ETC.


                             _ILLUSTRATED_


                                NEW YORK
                            GROSSET & DUNLAP
                               PUBLISHERS

                          Copyright, 1908, by
                          EDWARD STRATEMEYER.



                               CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
  I. Out on the Campus                                                 1
  II. Pepper Plays a Joke                                             11
  III. At Target Practice                                             21
  IV. The Blank Cartridges                                            32
  V. A “Rough House” at Putnam Hall                                   41
  VI. The New Teacher                                                 51
  VII. An Encounter on the Lake                                       60
  VIII. Starching and Blueing                                         71
  IX. What Happened at the Ice House                                  81
  X. A Mix-up on the Road                                             91
  XI. What Happened to Andy                                          101
  XII. The Beginning of a Rebellion                                  111
  XIII. Pluxton Cuddle’s Proposition                                 121
  XIV. In Which the Storm Gathers                                    131
  XV. Words and Blows                                                141
  XVI. Prisoners in the Dormitories                                  151
  XVII. Andy Snow’s Discovery                                        159
  XVIII. On a Foraging Expedition                                    167
  XIX. What Happened to Jack Ruddy                                   175
  XX. The Escape from the Guardroom                                  183
  XXI. How the Cadets Ran Away                                       191
  XXII. Josiah Crabtree Is Worried                                   199
  XXIII. A Discovery in the Woods                                    207
  XXIV. The Rival Runaways                                           215
  XXV. News of Interest                                              222
  XXVI. After the Stolen Camp Outfit                                 229
  XXVII. A Case of Tit for Tat                                       236
  XXVIII. After the Tramps                                           243
  XXIX. Something of a Confession                                    250
  XXX. Back to School—Conclusion                                     262



                              INTRODUCTION


My Dear Boys:

This story is complete in itself, but forms the fourth in a line known
under the general title of “Putnam Hall Series.”

As I have said before, this series was started at the request of
numerous boys and girls who had read some volumes of my “Rover Boys
Series,” and who wanted to know what had taken place at Putnam Hall
Military Academy previous to the arrival there of the three Rover
brothers.

In the first volume of this series, called “The Putnam Hall Cadets,” I
related how Captain Putnam came to found the institution and also told
of the doings of Jack Ruddy, Pepper Ditmore and their chums. The young
cadets were whole-souled and full of fun, and enjoyed themselves to the
utmost.

In the second volume, entitled “The Putnam Hall Rivals,” more of the
doings of the cadets were chronicled, and the particulars were given of
a queer balloon ride, and of an odd discovery in the woods.

The third volume, “The Putnam Hall Champions,” brought Jack and Pepper
once again to the front, in a series of stirring athletic contests. They
had some bitter rivals, and one of these played Jack a most foul trick,
which came close to having a serious ending.

Ever since the opening of the school the scholars had had much trouble
with an overbearing teacher named Josiah Crabtree. When the Hall was
left in charge of Crabtree and a new instructor named Cuddle, matters
rapidly grew worse, until there seemed nothing for the lads to do but to
rebel. How this was done, and what the rebellion led to, I leave for the
pages which follow to relate.

Once more I thank my young friends for the interest they have shown in
my books. May this tale please you in every way.

                  Affectionately and sincerely yours,
                                                     Arthur M. Winfield.



                       THE PUTNAM HALL REBELLION



                               CHAPTER I
                           OUT ON THE CAMPUS


“Boys, we are to have target practice to-morrow.”

“Good!” cried Pepper Ditmore. “That suits me exactly. Just wait, Jack,
and see me make half a dozen bull’s-eyes, handrunning.”

“Why don’t you make it a dozen, Pep, while you are at it?” answered
Major Jack Ruddy, with a smile.

“If Pep makes one bull’s-eye he will be lucky,” came from another of the
cadets gathered on the Putnam Hall campus. “The last time we had
practice, instead of hitting the target he almost killed a cow in the
next field.”

“Hold on, Andy Snow!” cried Pepper. “I shot straight enough, but the
wind blew so hard it sent the bullet the wrong way. Now if——”

“What a pity the wind didn’t shift the target to meet the bullet,” cried
Paul Singleton. “Now when I shoot——”

“You’re too fat to shoot, Stuffer,” interrupted a youth who spoke with a
strong Irish accent. “Sure, if you had to crawl up on the inimy, like in
war, you’d tip over on your nose!” And at this sally from Joseph Hogan a
laugh arose.

“I’d rather be fat than skinny,” retorted Paul, whose waist measurement
exceeded that of any other cadet of the Hall.

“Where are we to do the practicing?” asked another boy, who was somewhat
of a newcomer, having been a pupil at the Military Academy for less than
a term.

“I understand we are to go to Rawling’s pasture, Fred,” answered Jack
Ruddy. “Captain Putnam is going to make the test a very thorough one,
too, for he says all of the students here ought to be first-class
marksmen.”

“Well, I’d certainly like to know how to handle a rifle,” answered Fred
Century. “I’ve used a shotgun, in the woods, but never a rifle. I’m
afraid I’ll make a rather poor showing at first.”

“Many of the fellows will,” returned the young major. “It isn’t given to
everybody to become a good shot, no matter how hard a fellow tries.”

While the others were talking, a big, broad-shouldered youth joined the
gathering. He was Dale Blackmore, the captain of the Putnam Hall
football team, and a general leader in all kinds of athletic sports.

“Talking about the rifle practice, eh,” said Dale. “I just heard the
other fellows talking of it, too. One of ’em said he was going to show
your crowd how to shoot,” and he nodded toward Jack Ruddy.

“Who was it?” questioned the young major.

“Reff Ritter.”

“Oh, that bully makes me tired!” cried Pepper Ditmore. “Every time
anything is going on he tries to push himself to the front—and nobody
wants him—at least I don’t want him.”

“Nor I,” came from Andy Snow and Paul Singleton.

“Sure, an’ I doubt if he’s any better shot nor Major Jack,” remarked
Hogan.

“Not half as good, Emerald,” interposed Pepper quickly. “Jack’s a
soldier through and through. If he wasn’t the fellows wouldn’t have
elected him major.”

“Perhaps Reff Ritter is a good marksman,” said Jack. “He has made some
fair scores and he may have been practicing up for this contest. Who was
he talking to, Dale?”

“Oh, his usual crowd of hangers-on, Gus Coulter, Nick Paxton, Billy
Sabine, and that bunch. Coulter thinks, too, that he can make a big
score.”

“Well, I’ll bank on Jack—and on Bart Conners,” said Pepper. “Bart is a
good shot and always was.”

“Say, here comes Reff Ritter now,” whispered Andy, as a youth with a
somewhat sour-looking countenance put in an appearance. “Gus Coulter is
with him.”

“Hello, Reff!” sang out one of the boys, Dave Kearney by name. “I hear
you are going to wax us all at target practice to-morrow.”

“Who told you?” demanded Reff Ritter, coming to a halt.

“Oh, I heard it.”

“Yes, Reff and I are going to make star records,” came from Gus Coulter.

“Perhaps you think you can shoot better than Major Ruddy and Captain
Conners?” questioned Andy Snow.

“We can,” came from Reff Ritter promptly. “When it comes to handling a
rifle I don’t take a back seat for anybody.”

“Must have been practicing a tremendous lot lately,” was Pepper’s
comment.

“Never mind what I’ve been doing,” growled Reff Ritter. “I’m willing to
bet anybody here a new hat that I come out ahead to-morrow.” And he
gazed around with a “you don’t dare to take me up” look.

“I’d take that bet,” answered Pepper dryly. “Only a new hat would do me
no good—since I have to wear the regulation cap here. Just the same,
Reff, my boy, you won’t come out ahead of Jack and Bart, and I know
it—and neither will you, Gus.”

“Huh! just wait and see,” grumbled Coulter.

“You fellows think that because you have won a few races and things like
that you can win everything,” said Reff Ritter, sourly. “Well, to-morrow
you’ll find out differently. After the shooting is over you’ll see where
I and Gus and Nick Paxton stand.” And with this remark he strutted off,
arm in arm with Coulter.

“Say, but he is in a bad humor,” observed Andy Snow. “Somebody must have
brushed his fur the wrong way.”

“He has been behind in his lessons for over a week,” answered a boy
named Joe Nelson, a quiet and studious lad. “Yesterday Captain Putnam
called him into the office for a talk. When Reff came out he looked
pretty glum.”

“Must have gotten a strong lecture,” said Pepper. “And lectures don’t
agree with such fellows as Ritter.”

“Do they agree with you, Pep?” asked the young major of the school
battalion, with a twinkle in his eye.

“Me? Not much! I’d rather write a composition in Latin than face the
captain for a lecture! But, just the same, you can be sure Ritter didn’t
get it harder than he deserved.”

“There is nothing like blowing one’s own horn,” observed Fred Century.
“And certainly Reff Ritter knows how to do that to perfection.”

“Time for drill, boys!” cried Jack Ruddy, as a bell rang out. “Now, do
your best on the parade ground, even if you don’t know how to hit the
target.” And off he ran to get ready to assume command of the Putnam
Hall battalion.

The bell had hardly ceased to ring when there followed the rolling of a
drum, and out on the school campus poured the students, in their neat
military uniforms, and with their guns and swords polished to the
highest degree. Major Jack Ruddy was at the head of the battalion, which
consisted of Companies A and B, under the commands of Bart Conners and a
youth named Henry Lee.

“Battalion attention!” commanded Major Jack, after the rattle of the
drum had ceased. “Shoulder arms! Forward, march!” And then the drums
beat, the fifes struck up a lively air, and the cadets began a march
around the school grounds.

To those who have read the previous volumes of this “Putnam Hall
Series,” the lads mentioned above will need no special introduction. For
the benefit of others let me state that Putnam Hall Military Academy was
a fine institution of learning, located on the shore of Cayuga Lake, in
New York State. It was owned by Captain Victor Putnam, a retired army
officer, who, in days gone by, had seen strenuous military service in
the far West. It was modeled somewhat after West Point, our great
national school for soldiery, but, of course, on far less pretentious
proportions. The school building proper, located not far from the lake,
was of brick and stone, and contained many classrooms, a big mess hall,
a business office, library and sitting room, and, on the upper floors,
many dormitories. Besides this building there were a gymnasium, a
boathouse, a barn, and half a dozen minor structures. The location was
ideal, exactly suited to such a school as Captain Putnam had
established.

Jack Ruddy and Pepper Ditmore were chums, hailing from the western part
of New York State. Jack was a little the older of the two and was
inclined to be studious. Pepper was full of fun, and on this account was
often called The Imp, a nickname that did not bother him in the least.

When Jack and Pepper first arrived at the school, as related in the
initial volume of this series, called “The Putnam Hall Cadets,” they
found that no regular military organization had yet been effected. After
some time spent in drilling and studying, the cadets were permitted to
ballot for their own officers, with the result that Jack became the
major of the battalion, Henry Lee captain of Company A, and Bart Conners
captain of Company B. Jack wanted Pepper to try for an official
position, but The Imp declined, stating he thought he could have more
fun as a private.

At that time there was an overbearing lad at the school named Dan
Baxter. He bribed Coulter and some others to vote for him, but
nevertheless was defeated. Baxter was now away on a vacation, and Jack
and his chums wished he would never come back.

It was not long before Jack and Pepper made many friends, including Andy
Snow, who was an acrobatic youth, used to doing marvellous “stunts” in
the gymnasium; Dale Blackmore, of football fame; Hogan, whose Irish wit
was delightful to listen to; Stuffer Singleton, who much preferred
eating to studying, and Joe Nelson, the best scholar the Hall possessed.

But if Jack and Pepper made many friends, they also made many rivals and
not a few enemies. Baxter was gone, but Reff Ritter remained, and what
sort of a fellow he was we have already seen. As Andy Snow said, Ritter
frequently imagined that he “was the whole show.” His particular cronies
were Gus Coulter and Nick Paxton, while he had something of an admirer
in a small lad named Fenwick, usually known as “Mumps,” who was a
contemptible sneak, as had been proved on more than one occasion.

The organizing of the school had been followed by hard studying, yet not
a few adventures had fallen to the lot of Major Jack and Pepper, and
some of their chums. In the middle of one of the terms George Strong,
the second assistant teacher, disappeared. He was found a prisoner in a
hut, being kept there by two insane relatives, and to rescue him proved
no easy task.

The assistant teacher’s ancestry dated back to Revolutionary times, and
he told the boys of a treasure buried in that vicinity by some
relatives. How the treasure was unearthed had been told in detail in
“The Putnam Hall Rivals.”

With the coming of summer, the attention of the cadets was given largely
to sports in the field and on the water. Jack’s uncle presented him with
a fine sloop, the _Alice_, and in this the young major sailed several
races, as related in the third volume of this series, entitled “The
Putnam Hall Champions.” The cadets also held a great bicycle race and a
hill climbing contest, and they likewise had a bowling match with the
team of a rival school, Pornell Academy. At that time Fred Century was a
student at Pornell, but he became disgusted at the way his fellow
students acted, and at the treatment he received from Doctor Pornell,
and left that institution of learning and came to Putnam Hall.

As the time went on Reff Ritter became more and more jealous of Major
Jack’s popularity. A contest in the gymnasium was arranged between the
two, and then Ritter, with a wickedness which he was wise enough to keep
to himself, dosed the young major with some French headache powders,
putting the stuff in Jack’s drinking water. As a consequence, Jack,
while on the flying rings, became dizzy and then unconscious, and would
have hurt himself seriously had he not been caught as he fell. He was
put to bed and was sick for some time. It was discovered that he had
been dosed, but, so far, the perpetrator of the vile deed had managed to
keep his identity a secret. Jack and Pepper suspected Ritter, but not
being able to prove the rascal guilty, could do nothing.



                               CHAPTER II
                          PEPPER PLAYS A JOKE


As there were a great many students to take part, it had been arranged
that the whole of the next day should be devoted to rifle practice. The
cadets were to march to Rawling’s pasture directly after breakfast, and
each youth was to carry his lunch with him, as well as his rifle and
some rounds of ammunition.

“Now, young gentlemen,” said Captain Putnam, when the quartermaster of
the battalion had distributed the cartridges. “Kindly remember that your
cartridges have bullets in them. I want no loading or firing without
permission. A rifle, thoughtlessly discharged, may do great harm, and
there will be no need of loading your guns until you are called upon to
fire at one of the targets.”

“Have we—we all got to do the—the firing?” asked Fenwick, the school
sneak, in a trembling voice.

“Certainly,” answered Captain Putnam.

“I’ll wager Mumps is afraid to shoot with bullets,” whispered Pepper to
Andy Snow. “He always handles his gun as if he was afraid it would go
off.”

“He’s as much of a coward as he is a sneak,” answered Andy. His face
broke into a sudden grin. “I’ve got an idea,” he whispered.

“Let me in on it quick,” returned Pepper, scenting fun.

“I’ve got a pack of firecrackers, left over from last Fourth of July——”

“Andy, how could you keep them all this time?” cried The Imp,
reproachfully. “Why, a pack of firecrackers means dead loads of fun. Let
me have them, please.”

“What, the whole pack? Not much! I want some fun myself, sometime. I’ll
let you have a dozen crackers, though.”

“All right—I’ll make them do.”

“Want to play a trick on Mumps?”

“Yes, keep your eye peeled for fun.”

This talk took place half an hour before the boys were to start away
from the school. Having procured the firecrackers, Pepper sought out the
school sneak and found him talking to Billy Sabine, a cadet who was at
times a sneak and then again quite a good fellow. Mumps had his gun over
his shoulder and Sabine had his firearms across his elbow. Without being
observed, The Imp lit the long stems of two firecrackers and dropped one
down the barrel of each weapon.

“Hullo, you fellows!” he cried, hurriedly. “Have you heard the news?”

“What’s that?” asked both of the others, while a small crowd began to
collect.

“Somebody has sticks of dynamite, and some of the stuff was put in some
of the guns,” went on Pepper innocently. “You want to look out, or your
gun may explode and blow you to bits.”

“Gracious me, is that possible!” ejaculated Mumps, and turned pale.

“I didn’t know——” began Sabine, and then glanced at the muzzle of his
weapon. “I declare, what makes that smoke? And look, your gun is
smoking, too!” he added, to Mumps.

“It’s the dynamite——” began Pepper, and backed away as if in terror.

“Oh, dear, do you really think so?” quaked Mumps. “If I thought—— Oh!”

Bang! went one of the firecrackers, and both Mumps and Sabine let out
yells of fear. Bang! went the second cracker, and now both cadets threw
their guns from them and ran toward the school building.

“It’s the dynamite! We’ll be blown to pieces!” screamed Mumps.

“Somebody wants to kill us!” roared Sabine, and put his hands to his
ears, as if to keep out the sounds of some awful explosion.

And then both boys disappeared around a corner of the Hall. As they did
this The Imp rushed forward, cleaned the guns of the exploded
firecrackers, and threw the burning bits of cracker paper in some
bushes.

“What a joke!” cried Andy, who has witnessed the scene, and he and a
number of others laughed heartily.

“They’ll be afraid to touch the guns after this,” was Emerald’s comment.
“Sure, they’ll think the old Nick is after bein’ in ’em, so they will!”

“Here they come back!” called out Dave Kearney. “And look, they’ve got
old Crabtree with them!”

“If Crabtree is coming I think I’ll dust out!” murmured Pepper, and lost
no time in disappearing.

Josiah Crabtree was the first assistant teacher, and he was as cordially
hated by the majority of the cadets as George Strong, the second
assistant, was beloved. Crabtree was a fine scholar, but he was
headstrong and sarcastic, and continually “picking” at those under him,
no matter how hard they studied or how well they behaved.

“What is this I hear about dynamite?” he demanded, as he strode up and
glared at the assembled boys.

“Dynamite?” asked Andy innocently. “Did you say dynamite, Mr. Crabtree?”

“I did. There was an explosion out here. These boys’ guns——”

“Why, these guns are all right,” said Dale Blackmore, picking them up.
“I guess Fenwick and Sabine got scared at nothing.”

“They certainly did,” added Andy, and then, getting behind the teacher,
he doubled up his fist and shook it threateningly at Mumps and Billy.

Now, if there was one thing both the younger cadets feared it was a
whipping, and this suggestive attitude of Andy made each of them quail.
They both realized that if they told on Pepper they would be punished
for it. Each took his gun rather sheepishly.

“Fenwick, what have you to say?” began Josiah Crabtree. Just then the
welcome rattle of the drum was heard, calling the battalion to get ready
for the march.

“I—I guess it was a—a mistake,” faltered the sneak. “Can I go and get in
line, please sir?” he added.

“I—er—I suppose so—since this is no time to investigate,” answered
Josiah Crabtree; and off ran Mumps and Sabine, and the others also
departed.

“Well, what did Crabtree say?” asked Pepper of Andy, when he got the
chance.

“Didn’t have time to say much—the drum call broke in on his
investigation. I hope, for your sake, Pep, he doesn’t take it up when we
get back,” added the acrobatic youth.

It was a beautiful day for the outing, and the cadets certainly
presented an inspiring sight as they marched from the campus and turned
into the country road leading to the pasture where the rifle practice
was to be held. Captain Putnam was on horseback, along with George
Strong and an old army officer named Pallott, who was to assist in
showing the boys how to hold their rifles while shooting and how best to
take aim. Behind this little cavalcade came Major Jack with his sword
flashing brightly, and followed by Company A and Company B. To the front
were the two drummers and two fifers, making the welkin ring with their
martial music.

“Hi, you look fine, so you do!” sang out an old farmer, as he drew up by
the roadside with his wagon to let them pass. “You’re a credit to this
section. If I had the money I’d send my son Jock to train with you, yes,
I would!” And he waved a grimy hand after them.

A little later the cadets heard the honk honk of an automobile horn and
soon a big touring car came into sight. It contained Roy Bock, Bat
Sedley and several other students from Pornell Academy. As soon as Bock
saw the young soldiers he stopped his machine.

“Hello, look at the tin soldiers!” he sang out. “Going to hunt
mosquitoes?”

“No, we are going to hunt somebody who knows how to bowl,” retorted
Pepper, who was near.

“Huh! We can bowl right enough and don’t you forget it,” growled Bock.

“Yes, but you can’t beat Putnam Hall,” retorted Dale; and then the
cadets passed on, leaving the bully of the rival school in anything but
a happy frame of mind.

“Those tin soldiers make me sick,” said one of the students in the
touring car.

“We ought to get square with them for taking our trophies away,” said
another.

“They did that because we stole their cannon and flagstaff,” added
another.

“I don’t see how Fred Century can train with them,” added a youth named
Carey.

“We’ll square it up with them some day,” came from Roy Bock. “Just wait
till I think of something good. I’ve got it in for Jack Ruddy, Pepper
Ditmore and that crowd, and don’t you forget it!”

“I’ve got it!” cried another boy. “The whole crowd is away from the
school to-day. Why can’t we visit the place on the sly and turn things
topsy-turvy?”

“Somebody must be left behind,” answered Will Carey, who was far from
brave, as my old readers know.

“That doesn’t matter—we can keep out of the servants’ way—or get them
out of ours,” answered Roy Bock. His crafty face became fixed for a
moment. “That’s a good idea. Let us visit Putnam Hall by all means and
fix things up! When those tin soldiers get back they won’t know what to
make of it!”

“Well, we don’t want to get caught at this,” said Carey.

“Are you afraid?” demanded Bock.

“No, but——”

“No ‘buts’ about it,” said a youth named Grimes, who hated Major Jack
and his chums greatly. “I’m for visiting Putnam Hall to-day. We couldn’t
have a better chance, with the captain and his cadets away.”

The touring car journeyed along slowly and the students from Pornell
Academy talked the matter over carefully. Just as they came in sight of
the Hall they saw a buggy drive away from the entrance and turn in the
direction of Cedarville, the nearest village.

“There goes the head teacher, a fellow named Crabtree,” said Bock. “The
fellow driving him is Peleg Snuggers, the general helper. Boys, outside
of some help that doesn’t count, the coast is clear!”

“I’ve got a scheme,” said Grimes. “Let us hide the auto in the woods,
and then disguise ourselves as tramps by rubbing dust on our faces and
putting on the old auto dusters. Then we can sneak up to the school
building and the gym., and learn how the land lays.”

“Yes,—and turn things inside out,” answered Roy Bock, with a gloating
look. “Oh, won’t they be surprised when they get back to-night!”

The suggestion to hide the touring car and disguise themselves was
quickly put into execution, and then, with great caution, the six
students from Pornell Academy leaped a side hedge and made for the
gymnasium. Here they spent nearly half an hour in “fixing things up” to
their satisfaction. Then they entered the school building by a side
door, and while three went to the library and classrooms the others
ascended to the dormitories. They took care to keep out of the way of
all the hired help, although to do so taxed their ingenuity to the
utmost.

“Now, I reckon we have done something toward squaring accounts,”
remarked Roy Bock, as he led the way back to the touring car. “Even the
servants won’t be able to straighten things out. When those folks get
back they won’t know their own school!”



                              CHAPTER III
                           AT TARGET PRACTICE


“Here we are! Now to make nothing but bull’s-eyes!”

It was Pepper who spoke, as the Hall cadets came to a halt in Rawling’s
pasture,—a lot containing nearly a hundred acres which were almost as
smooth as a barn floor. It had taken the battalion almost an hour to
march there, and the students were allowed half an hour in which to rest
up previous to beginning the contest on the three ranges which had been
established in the pasture. The ranges were of one hundred yards, two
hundred yards, and three hundred yards, the last named distance being
deemed sufficiently great for the light rifles the cadets used. Had they
had arms of greater caliber, Captain Putnam would have made the long
range five hundred yards.

“I don’t expect to make very much of a score,” said Andy Snow. “I am not
much of a shooter. Now if it was a contest in the gym.——”

“Andy would win all the medals,” finished Jack, with a laugh.

“I’d rather have a fishing contest,” put in Stuffer, who loved to go out
with his rod.

“Sure, and what’s the matter wid an eating contest, Stuffer?” inquired
Hogan, with a broad grin. “I’m after thinking you’d take the head prize
there—and all the others, too!”

“Huh, you needn’t talk,” grumbled Stuffer. “I notice you can do your
share when we sit down in the mess hall.”

“That’s one thing I like about Putnam Hall,” declared Fred Century. “A
fellow always gets enough to eat—at least I do. Now at Pornell Academy
the meals were very uneven. The dinners were usually good, but some of
the suppers were woefully slim.”

“If the meals were slim here I’d rebel,” answered Pepper.

“So would I!” cried Stuffer. “I’d raise the biggest kick you ever heard
of.” How true their words were to become we shall see later.

The shooting soon began—at a distance of one hundred yards, and for two
hours there was a steady crack! crack! of the rifles.

Each cadet had three shots at each target. A bull’s-eye counted five, so
a perfect score would total up to forty-five.

On the short range, Jack managed to make three bull’s-eyes, thus scoring
15. Pepper got 13 and Andy 11. Much to his own delight Reff Ritter got
15, although one of his shots barely touched the bull’s-eye. Coulter
received but 9, much to his disgust. The other cadets ranged from 10 to
5,—the five being made by Mumps, who was almost afraid to discharge his
weapon.

“Wouldn’t Mumps make a fine soldier!” whispered Pepper to Jack. “If he
saw the enemy approaching he’d run for all he was worth.”

“If he didn’t get too frightened to move,” added the young major.

“He certainly is both a coward and a sneak.”

At the two-hundred yard range Jack made 14, while Pepper finished with
13, the same as before. The long-range shooting was not to take place
until after lunch.

“I don’t know whether to call it my unlucky thirteen or not,” said The
Imp. “It’s not so good as your score, but it’s better than some others.”

“It is certainly lucky,” answered Andy, who had made but 9 on the middle
range. “If you do so well on the long range you’ll be one of the
leaders.”

“Reff Ritter made 14,” put in Joe Nelson. “He and Jack and Bart Conners
are tied for first place so far.”

“Coulter had dropped behind, and Paxton’s score isn’t much better than
Mump’s,” came from Dale Blackmore.

“I’ve got two elevens,” said Fred Century. “I don’t think that’s so bad
for a fellow who hasn’t used a rifle for some years.”

Lunch was had in the shade of a number of trees growing at the edge of
the pasture. While the cadets were eating many of them stacked their
rifles and hung their belts and cartridge boxes on the weapons. Jack put
aside his sword and also the gun and cartridge holder he had been using.
There was a small brook nearby, fed by springs, and in this many of the
boys washed their hands and faces before eating.

While the meal was still in progress Gus Coulter motioned to Reff Ritter
and Nick Paxton, and the three drew away from the crowd and into some
bushes behind the trees.

“I’ve got an idea,” said Coulter, in a low voice. “I don’t know if we
can work it or not, but if we can—well, somebody will be surprised,
that’s all.”

“What’s your idea?” demanded Ritter.

“I was hanging around when Bob Grenwood, the quartermaster, was giving
out the ammunition for the shooting after lunch, on the three-hundred
yard range. I heard him say that he had brought along a case of blanks
by mistake. He said they looked a good deal like the cartridges that had
bullets in. Now if we could get hold of that case of blanks——”

“We can do that easily enough,” interrupted Nick Paxton. “The case is
right over yonder, on a rock.” And he pointed with his hand.

“I reckon I know what you mean,” said Reff Ritter, a wise look coming
into his face. “You mean for us to get the blanks and substitute them
for the regular cartridges some of the fellows intend to use.”

“Exactly. Can we do it?”

“I don’t know. But it’s a great scheme. I’d like to put it up Ruddy’s
back—and up Ditmore’s back, too.” Ritter bit his lip in thought for a
moment. “Let’s see if we can get hold of that case of cartridges
anyway.”

With great care the plotters stole through the bushes and up to the rock
upon which rested the case containing the blank cartridges. All of the
other cadets were busy lunching and nobody noticed them as they hauled
the box out of sight.

“The cover is loose, anyway,” reported Ritter. “Guess I’ll take a few
out, just for luck,” and he appropriated about a dozen blanks.

“Take out the top layer,” suggested Coulter. “Then Grenwood won’t be so
apt to notice that the box has been trifled with.” And he and Paxton did
so. Then the cover was slid into place once more and the case was
restored to its original position. The blanks certainly looked like full
cartridges, being tipped with silvery paper.

“Now to do some substituting,” said Reff Ritter. “That’s the hardest
part of the job. Some of the fellows are hanging around those cartridge
belts and boxes.”

“Maybe we can get them to walk away,” suggested Coulter. “Get them
interested in something, you know.”

“I have it!” cried Ritter. “Nick, you walk down in the woods on the
other side of the brook and yell like mad. Say you saw a big snake, or
something. That will draw the crowd, and then Gus and I can get in our
work with the blank cartridges.”

“I’ll do it,” answered Nick Paxton, and hurried around through the
bushes and across the brook. He had been gone about five minutes when
the cadets at lunch, as well as Captain Putnam and the others, heard a
great yelling.

“Help! help! A snake! A snake!”

“What’s that?” exclaimed half a dozen, and then, as the yelling was
continued, a rush was made in the direction of the brook.

“Now is our chance,” said Ritter to Coulter, and then the pair stole out
of the bushes and in the direction of the stacked arms and the cartridge
belts and boxes.

“What’s the matter, Paxton?” demanded Captain Putnam, who was the first
to arrive at the spot from whence the cries for help emanated.

“A snake, sir!” answered the cadet glibly. “Ugh! He ran right between my
legs!” And Paxton pretended to shiver.

“A snake!” cried several.

“Where is it?”

“Why didn’t you kill it?”

“Yes, a snake, and—and I guess it was a rattler, too. It was about that
long,” and Nick Paxton held his hands as far apart as possible. “I
couldn’t kill it for I didn’t have a thing in my hand. I—er—I looked for
a rock, but the snake was too quick for me.”

The news that a snake was around—and that it might be a rattlesnake at
that—alarmed many of the cadets, and some of them recrossed the brook to
the open pasture. But others, and Captain Putnam, began a hunt for the
reptile, but, of course, without success.

“We may as well give up the search,” said the master of the Hall, after
a hunt of ten minutes. “If it was a rattlesnake it has managed to get
away.”

“What was you doing here, Paxton?” asked Andy.

“Why I—er—I came over to look for—er—for ferns,” stammered the youth who
had played the trick.

“Ferns? Didn’t know you were interested in ferns,” observed Joe Nelson,
who was something of a collector of plants himself.

“Oh, I do a little collecting now and then,” answered Paxton, and then
walked off, to escape being questioned further.

Half an hour later the noonday rest came to an end and the target
practice was again taken up. In the presence of his pupils Captain
Putnam took several shots at the long distance target, making a
bull’s-eye each time. Then he and the old army officer who had been
hired showed the boys how to fire to the best advantage.

Reff Ritter was one of the first to shoot at the three hundred yard
target, and much to his chagrin got only three fours—a total of 12.
Coulter got but 9, and Paxton 7.

When Jack stepped to the front with the rifle and cartridge box he had
been using Reff Ritter winked suggestively at Coulter and Paxton.

“Now we’ll see something rich!” whispered Coulter.

“Hush! you want to keep this to yourself,” warned the bully of the Hall.

“Now, Jack, a bull’s-eye!” said Pepper to his chum.

“Right in the middle of the eye, too,” added Andy.

“I’ll do what I can,” answered the young major, modestly.

With great care he took aim at the target and pulled the trigger. There
was a crack and a flash and then a moment of breathless waiting.

“Missed!”

“He didn’t hit the target even!”

The announcement was true, and the young major turned a trifle pale in
spite of his efforts to control himself.

“Don’t fire hastily, Major Ruddy,” said Captain Putnam kindly. “Draw a
bead directly on the center of the target.”

“I—I—thought I did,” stammered Jack.

Again the rifle was raised. Jack was now a bit nervous, yet he managed
to steady himself ere he took another shot. His aim was directly for the
center of the target.

“Another miss!”

“Why, Jack, what’s got over you?” cried Pepper, real distress showing in
his voice.

“I—I don’t know,“ faltered the youthful major.

“Don’t you feel well?” asked Stuffer. “Or is it your eyesight?”

“Yes, I feel well enough—and my eyesight is all right.”

“Maybe you had a blank cartridge,” cried Dale, suddenly.

This remark caused Jack to look at the remaining cartridges he
possessed. Captain Putnam insisted upon examining them also, for he,
too, was unwilling to believe that the young officer has made a total
miss of the two shots.

“These are certainly ball cartridges,” he said, as he looked them over.
“Nothing wrong there. You must have been careless in your aim, Major
Ruddy.”

“Captain Putnam, I did the very best I could,” pleaded Jack.

“Well, you have one more shot,” answered the master of the school.

As pale as a sheet the young major of the battalion walked to the front
once more and raised his rifle. For several seconds there was a
deathlike silence. Then came another crack and flash and a moment of
suspense.

“Hurrah! A bull’s-eye!”

“That’s the time you did it, Jack!”

“Why didn’t you do that before?”

With a long breath, Jack lowered his rifle and, turning faced the master
of the school:

“Captain Putnam,” he said in a low but firm tone. “I made a bull’s-eye
that time because there was a bullet in the cartridge. I am satisfied
now that my other two shots were blanks.



                               CHAPTER IV
                          THE BLANK CARTRIDGES


For the moment after Jack spoke so positively there was a silence.
Captain Putnam looked at the young officer thoughtfully.

“Huh! that’s all tommy-rot!” observed Reff Ritter. “He missed and that
is all there is to it.”

“Of course he missed,” chimed in Coulter. “He isn’t a crack shot by any
means.”

“What makes you so certain that the first two shots were blanks, Major
Ruddy?” asked the master of the school, somewhat sternly.

“Well, sir, I think my record helps to prove it,” answered Jack. “At the
hundred-yard target I made three bull’s-eyes; at the two-hundred-yard
target I made two bull’s-eyes and a four; now I have made a bull’s-eye
and two blanks. Doesn’t it stand to reason, sir, that if those
cartridges had not been blanks I would at least have made a two or a
one?”

“It is probable, yes,” answered the captain, thoughtfully. “But I did
not know any blanks had been brought along, much less dealt out.”

“I brought a case along by mistake,” put in Bob Grenwood. “But as soon
as I discovered my mistake I put the case to one side. There it is, sir,
on yonder rock.”

“I see. You are sure you didn’t hand any blanks around? That particular
box looks like the real thing.”

“Yes, sir—I was very careful.”

Captain Putnam strode over to the rock and shoved back the lid of the
case.

“Why, the top layer of cartridges is gone!” he cried. “Was the box full
when you opened it?”

“Why—er—yes, sir—I think so, sir,” stammered the quartermaster of the
school battalion. “It looked full to me.”

“Young gentlemen,” went on Captain Putnam, raising his voice. “Please to
look over the cartridges you have left.”

There was a hasty examination by over a score of cadets.

“Mine are O. K., sir.”

“So are mine.”

“Here, I’ve got a blank!” cried Andy Snow, rushing forward and holding
it up. “It’s one of the kind we used to have—those that looked so much
like the ball cartridges.”

“Hum! So it is—one of the kind made to represent ball cartridges,” mused
Captain Putnam.

“I’ve got two of them!” exclaimed Pepper, and held them up. “My other
one is all right,” he added.

“Two blanks and one good one,” said Jack. “That must have been just what
I had!”

“Quartermaster Grenwood, can you explain this?” demanded Captain Putnam,
sternly.

“N—no, sir. I—I am sure I didn’t deal out any of the blanks. I was very
careful, sir.”

“Then how do you account for the blanks being in use?”

“I—I don’t account for it, sir. I am sure, though, I didn’t give them
out.”

“You gave out all the ammunition, didn’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then you must have given out the blanks. It was very careless on your
part.”

“No wonder I missed!” growled one of the cadets.

“I think we ought to shoot over again,” added another.

“It was a mean trick!” cried a third.

“Quartermaster Grenwood, you have been grossly careless, and your
carelessness has caused a great deal of trouble,” said Captain Putnam,
sternly.

“I wasn’t careless, I tell you, I——”

“Silence. I say you were careless, and I now ask you to resign your
position as quartermaster of the school battalion.”

“Resign!” gasped Bob Grenwood.

“That is what I said. The battalion must have a quartermaster who can be
relied upon at all times. Supposing we were going to have a sham battle
and you dealt out ball cartridges instead of blanks, what would happen?
Why some of the cadets might be killed! Do you resign or not?”

“Captain Putnam, I—I——”

“If you refuse to resign I shall have to take the office away from you.”

“All right, I’ll resign,” cried Bob Grenwood, bitterly. “All the same, I
say you are treating me unjustly.” And with a red face and bowed head he
stepped back into the crowd.

“I don’t believe Bob did it,” whispered Stuffer to Hogan.

“Sure, and I thought he was more careful meself,” answered the
Irish-American cadet. “It’s a bad mess, so it is!” added.

Captain Putnam now held a consultation with several of the others and
then announced that for every shot fired which had not hit a target the
cadet should have another try. In the meantime the blanks were collected
and ball cartridges dealt out instead.

“Now, Jack, show ’em what you can do!” cried Pepper, as his chum walked
to the front once more.

“Confound it, I guess our plan is busted,” whispered Paxton to Ritter.

“Hush! Not a word of it!” whispered the bully, warningly. “If Captain
Putnam ever finds it out,—well, he’ll make it mighty warm for us, that’s
all!”

With great care Jack took aim once more. Everybody watched him with
interest, and a wild shout went up when the result was announced.

“A bull’s-eye!”

“There, what did I tell you?” cried Pepper. “I knew he could do it!”

“Now another, Jack!” said Andy, enthusiastically.

And the youthful major did make another bull’s-eye, amid the applause of
his many friends.

“That’s the highest score yet!”

“Major Ruddy, I must congratulate you,” said Captain Putnam, holding out
his hand. “I am now as convinced as you are that those other shots were
blanks.”

“Jack, that’s the highest score yet,” said Dale. “I rather think you
take the prize.”

“Didn’t know there was a prize, Dale.”

“Well, metaphorically speaking.”

“You’ve bested Reff Ritter and that’s a good deal,” said Andy.

When Pepper came to shoot he made one bull’s-eye and two fours. This
gave him quite a high score and made him content. Andy and Dale also did
well, while Bart Conners tied Ritter. Mumps and Paxton each made two
misses on the long distance target.

“More blanks, I suppose,” grumbled Paxton, although he knew better.

“No,” said Captain Putnam. “That was only your carelessness did that.
You shot too quickly.”

“I—I’m not feeling well to-day,” said the school sneak lamely. “I ought
to have stayed at the Hall.”

After the target practice was at an end the cadets were allowed an hour
to themselves.

“Let us take a walk through the woods,” said Pepper. And he and Jack and
half a dozen went off in one direction while Reff Ritter and his cronies
went off in another. Bob Grenwood felt so bad that he strolled off by
himself.

“I must say, I feel sorry for Bob,” said Jack. “Even if he did deal out
the blanks, I don’t think he meant to do it.”

“He feels all cut up to lose the quartermastership,” said Dale. “After
the captain made him resign I saw the tears standing in his eyes.”

“What do you say if we go to Captain Putnam and ask him to reinstate
Grenwood?” questioned Pepper, who was always ready to help anybody in
distress.

“I’ll do that willingly,” came from several of the others.

“I don’t think we ought to go right away,” said Bart Conners. “Wait a
few days—until his temper has a chance to cool. Finding the blanks riled
him all up.”

“By the way, fellows, have you heard the news?” asked Joe Nelson.

“What news?”

“A new teacher is coming.”

“Who told you that?” asked Pepper.

“Nobody. I heard Captain Putnam and Mr. Strong talking about it. It
seems Mr. Strong has got to go away on business, and the new man is
coming during his absence.”

“Who is he, did you hear, Joe?” asked several, for they were always
anxious concerning their instructors.

“Hope he isn’t like old Crabtree,” was Pepper’s comment. “If he is I’ll
feel like jumping into the lake!”

“I don’t know anything about him, excepting that his name is Pluxton
Cuddle.”

“Pluxton Cuddle!” cried The Imp. “Wonder if he’ll try to cuddle up to
us?”

“I did hear that he was quite a scientist,” went on Joe Nelson. “One of
the kind who does everything by rule.”

“Oh, dear! I can see my finish!” sighed Pepper. “It will be ten minutes
for this, ten minutes for that, and so on, all day long. And find out
the whyforness of the thus of everything in the bargain!”

“Oh, don’t worry beforehand,” answered Jack. “He may be another Mr.
Strong.”

“Not much, Jack! Mr. Strong is one teacher out of a hundred, heaven
bless him!”

“If all teachers were like Mr. Strong, going to boarding school would be
a cinch,” added Andy, slangily. “He’s the dearest man who ever tried to
teach a fellow the value of _x_ and _y_, and don’t you forget it!”

“And I firmly believe we learn twice as much under a man like Mr. Strong
as we do under old Josiah Crabtree,—although Crabtree may be the greater
scholar,” came from Stuffer.

The cadets spent a pleasant time in the woods, and at the roll of the
drum hastened back to the pasture. When the two companies were formed it
was found Bob Grenwood was missing.

“He got disgusted and said he was going to walk back to the Hall alone,”
said one of the students. “I can’t say that I blame him much. It was a
terrible thing to be made to resign.”

In a few minutes more the line of march back to Putnam Hall was taken
up. To give the cadets a variety of scene, Captain Putnam took to
another road than that pursued in the morning. This was nearly a mile
longer, and, consequently, it was after the supper hour when the cadets
came in sight of the school buildings.

As the cadets marched up to the campus a man came rushing out of the
school holding up his hands in horror. It was Josiah Crabtree.

“Captain Putnam! Captain Putnam!” he gasped. “Come quickly! Something
dreadful has happened!”



                               CHAPTER V
                     A “ROUGH HOUSE” AT PUTNAM HALL


“What is the matter, Mr. Crabtree?” demanded the master of the school,
as he dismounted from his horse and strode forward.

“The schoolrooms, sir—and the sitting room and library! All turned
topsy-turvy!”

“What!”

“Yes, sir! I just came in from the village—I went on a little business,
as you know. When I got back I went to the library for a book—‘The
History of Turkey’—and when I got there!” Josiah Crabtree held up his
hands mutely. “It is a shame, an outrage, sir! And the classrooms are
about as bad!”

“I’ll see about this,” said Captain Putnam, and strode into the school.

“Something is wrong,” said Pepper, after the cadets had broken ranks.
“Let’s see what it is!” And he ran off to place his weapon in the gun
rack.

Something was indeed wrong, as a hasty glance around the lower floor of
the school building revealed. Every book in the library had been thrown
on the floor, and to the general heap were added several pictures and
maps taken from the walls. Two inkstands from a writing desk had been
overturned, one on a table and over a beautiful statue of Justice
standing on a pedestal in a corner. The floor rug had been folded up and
thrown over a chandelier.

“Who did this?” demanded the master of the school sternly. “Who did
this, I say?”

Nobody answered for the reason that nobody knew.

“And the schoolrooms are as bad,” cried Josiah Crabtree. “Never have _I_
seen the equal, sir!”

Without loss of time Captain Putnam walked from one classroom to another
and the cadets and teachers followed him, and so did some of the
frightened servants. In every room books and papers were scattered in
all directions. On a big school globe rested an old silk hat, and an old
linen duster that Josiah Crabtree occasionally used in warm weather.

“Look at that! The rascals!” spluttered the irate teacher. “My coat,
sir! It makes the globe look like a—a—scarecrow, sir!”

“It certainly does,” answered Captain Putnam, and for an instant he felt
inclined to laugh. At the same time Pepper burst into a roar and Andy
and some others did the same.

“This is a rough house and no mistake,” murmured Jack. “Who did it, I
wonder?”

“Somebody has been here during our absence,” said Dale.

“Boys, stop your laughing!” exclaimed Josiah Crabtree, turning suddenly
upon Pepper and his chums. “If you do not stop this minute, I’ll punish
you severely! This is no laughing matter!”

“I won’t laugh any more,” answered Pepper, and, behind the fussy
teacher’s back drew such a doleful face that Andy and Dale were almost
convulsed.

“Here’s a go!” cried one of the cadets presently. “My Latin grammar is
gone!”

“So is my history!” came from another.

“So is mine!”

“And mine!”

A hasty hunt was made and soon it was discovered that every history and
every Latin grammar was missing. All the other books were there,
although mixed up and mussed.

“Well, I don’t mind the loss of the grammar and history so much,”
observed Pepper. “I’d like to get rid of them forever!”

“So say we all of us!” sang out Andy softly.

“Boys!” cried Captain Putnam loudly, and at the call everybody became
silent. “If any one of you know anything about this, I want that pupil
to step forward and say so.”

There was a pause. Nobody budged.

“Was anybody left behind when we went for the target practice?”

Again there was a pause. Nobody spoke.

“This is, as Mr. Crabtree says, an outrage, and I intend to get at the
bottom of it.”

“I know somebody who came back before we did,” said Mumps, stepping to
the front.

“Who was that, Fenwick?”

“Bob Grenwood.”

“Oh, what a little sneak!” murmured Pepper.

“He ought to have his neck wrung!” added Andy.

“Humph! So he did,” said Captain Putnam. “Does anybody know where
Grenwood is now?”

He looked from one to another of the assembled scholars, but all shook
their heads.

“Mr. Crabtree, have Peleg Snuggers hunt Grenwood up, and at once.”

“I will, sir,” answered the teacher and hurried off to find the general
utility man of the Hall. Then both went in search of Bob Grenwood, but
failed to find the ex-quartermaster.

“Perhaps he didn’t come back after he left us,” said Jack. “Maybe he
felt too down-hearted to return. I must say, I feel mighty sorry for
Bob.”

There was nothing to do but to straighten out the library, sitting room
and classrooms, and then the cadets went to supper. After that some of
the boys went out on the campus, some to the lake shore, and others to
the gymnasium.

“Well, one thing is certain, some of our school-books are gone,” said
Joe Nelson. “Too bad! I had an essay in my history. If it is not found
I’ll have to write another paper I suppose.”

“I’d not do it!” cried Stuffer. “It’s not your fault that the paper is
gone.”

Jack and his chums were entering the gymnasium when a student who had
gone ahead uttered a cry.

“They have been here, too!”

“What did they do?”

“Do? Did everything they could to spoil this place,” was the answer.

When lit up the gymnasium certainly presented “a sight for to see,” as
Andy expressed it. The wooden horses had been stacked in a corner, the
rings and turning bars had been cut down, and the Indian clubs, pulling
machines, and the floor covered with oil and grease. Jack did not notice
the grease on the floor until he slipped and fell, and Pepper, who was
at his side, came down on top of him.

“This is the worst yet!”

“Why, fellows, this place is almost ruined!”

“The fellows who did this ought to be tarred and feathered!” cried Jack,
as he got up and rubbed a bruised elbow.

“I don’t believe any of our cadets would do such a trick as this,”
observed Andy.

“Reff Ritter and his cronies are mean enough to do anything,” answered
Pepper.

“But they were with us,” answered Bart Conners.

“Boys, I think I know who is guilty!” almost shouted Jack, as a sudden
idea popped into his head.

“Who?”

“Roy Bock and his crowd—the fellows we met this morning in the big
touring car—the chaps who called us tin soldiers.”

“My gracious, Jack, do you think that is true?” demanded Pepper.

“If it is we ought to march over to Pornell Academy and wipe them off
the face of the earth,” said Fred Century. “This looks just like Roy
Bock’s underhanded meanness,” he added.

Captain Putnam was notified of the new discovery made and came down to
inspect the damage done. His face grew very stern.

“This is positive vandalism,” was his comment. “If any boy in this
school is guilty I shall expel him.”

“If you will permit me, Captain Putnam, I’d like to say a word,” said
Jack.

“What is it, Major Ruddy.”

“I do not think this was done by anybody in our school. If you will
remember, we were all away to-day to target practice.”

“That is true, but one boy, Robert Grenwood, came back early.”

“I know that, sir, but——”

“And I rather think he was in an ugly frame of mind upon his return,”
pursued the master of the school grimly.

“That might be, too, sir. All the same, I don’t think he’d do this. Bob
isn’t that kind of a fellow.”

“Well, what were you going to say?”

“I was thinking of that crowd of Pornell Academy students we met on the
road this morning.”

“The ones in an automobile?”

“Yes, sir,—the fellows who jeered at us and called us tin soldiers.”

“Ahem! What of them?”

“I don’t want to say too much, sir. But you know they are down on
us,—and you know how our flagstaff and our cannon disappeared,” went on
the young major, referring to an incident which had been related in
detail in “The Putnam Hall Champions.”

“Yes, yes. And I also know how Doctor Pornell complained of the
disappearance of some choice trophies belonging to his students,” said
Captain Putnam grimly.

“Well, they got those trophies back,” said a student in the rear of the
crowd, and a snicker passed among the cadets at the remembrance of the
incident.

“Those fellows are the worst boys at Pornell,” went on the young major.
“I don’t think they’d stop at anything to do this school an injury.”

“Can you prove any of them guilty?”

“No, sir—at least, not yet.”

“Then I can do nothing, for Doctor Pornell and myself are no longer on
speaking terms.”

“I think it is clear enough,” said Pepper. “Outsiders wouldn’t have any
reason to come here and do this—unless they had a grudge against you.”

“Maybe that butcher, Pangborn, did it,” suggested Dale, mentioning a
meat dealer who had had trouble with the captain over his meat bill, and
who no longer supplied the school.

“It might be.” The master of the school drew a long breath. “Well, I
shall watch out, and I want you young gentlemen to do the same. If you
learn of anything, let me know.”

A little later Bob Grenwood came in. From the target grounds he had
walked to Cedarville and had purchased his supper at the village. He
tried to slip upstairs unobserved, but was caught by Josiah Crabtree.

“Ha! so we have you, you young villain!” cried the teacher, taking him
by the collar.

“What’s the matter?” asked Bob, somewhat startled.

“You know well enough,” stormed Josiah Crabtree, and without further ado
marched the ex-quartermaster to Captain Putnam’s private office. Here
Grenwood was put through a great number of questions. When he learned
the drift of things he was highly indignant.

“Captain Putnam, I am not guilty, and you ought to know it!” he cried.
“It was bad enough to make me resign my position, this is even worse. I
shall write to my folks and ask them to take me away from this school!”

“You may do as you please, Grenwood,” was the captain’s cold reply.

“Some day, perhaps, you’ll find out your mistake,” said the cadet, and
then, with tears of anguish and indignation standing in his eyes he left
the office and ran up the stairs to the dormitory occupied by himself
and several others.

Left to himself, Captain Putnam leaned his elbow on his desk and rested
his head in his hand.

“These boys! These boys!” he murmured to himself. “I hardly know whether
to believe them or not—they are up to so many tricks! Grenwood looks
honest enough, and yet—you never can tell!” And he heaved a deep sigh.
He was beginning to learn that after all, running a boarding school was
not such an easy thing as he had at first supposed. He wanted to do what
was just,—but he hated to be imposed upon.



                               CHAPTER VI
                            THE NEW TEACHER


The first person the ex-quartermaster encountered upstairs was Jack.

“Hello, Bob,” cried the young major. “Just the person I want to see.”

“I—I—some other time, Ruddy,” stammered the youth, whose eyes were full
of tears.

“See here, Bob, what’s your hurry? Anything special on?” And now Jack
caught the other boy affectionately by the shoulder.

“I—I am going to leave this school!” was the bitter response. “Captain
Putnam hasn’t treated me fairly. I didn’t distribute those blanks, I am
certain of it—and I didn’t have anything to do with rough-housing the
Hall, either!”

“Who said you played rough-house here?”

“He did—or he said as much.”

“Where have you been?”

“To Cedarville. I walked there directly from the target grounds.”

“Meet anybody on the road?”

“Why—er—yes, a farmer named Laning. He was driving a team of oxen and
wanted to know what the shooting meant.”

“Where did you go when first you got to Cedarville?”

“What do you want to know that for?”

“Never mind, just tell me?”

“I went to the steamboat dock. There I met the agent, and helped him tow
a boat up to Chase Point. When we got back I went and got supper at
Berry’s and then came to the school.”

“Did you tell the captain all that?”

“No—he didn’t give me the chance.”

“Well, you should have told him. It seems to me it would be easy for you
to prove an _alibi_, so far as being here this afternoon is concerned.”

“I am not going to bother with it—I’m going to quit and go home,”
answered Bob Grenwood recklessly.

“I wouldn’t do it. Stay, Bob, and face the music. If you go away it will
make it look as if you were guilty.”

“But Captain Putnam——”

“Is all upset on account of this awful mix-up. He’ll calm down by
to-morrow—and so will you. And let me say another thing, Bob. None of us
fellows thinks you distributed the blanks,—or, if you did, we are sure
it was a pure and simple mistake.”

At this moment came a cry from one of the dormitories, followed a second
later by a yell from another room.

“This is the worst yet!”

“Every bed sheet is gone!”

“So are all the night clothes!”

“Here is some of the stuff, in the closet, and, yes, it’s tied up in
hard knots!”

“Talk about ‘chawin’ on the beef!’ It will take some ‘chawin’’ to get
these knots out!”

“Oh, if I only had the fellow who did this, wouldn’t I give him a piece
of my mind!”

“I’d give him a piece av me fist!” roared Emerald. “Just be after
looking at them beautiful pajamas of mine, toied in about twinty knots!”
And he held up the articles of wearing apparel dolefully.

Jack ran into his dormitory, to find Pepper with a bundle in his hand.
The bundle consisted of their night clothes and some bed sheets, all
knotted together in a hopeless tangle. Several similar bundles were in
the possession of other cadets.

The uproar was so great that soon all the teachers and the servants were
on the scene. For once Captain Putnam was as furious as Josiah Crabtree
had ever been.

“This is the vilest kind of an outrage!” cried the master of the Hall.
“If I find out who is guilty I’ll have that person locked up!”

“I fancy more than one person did this,” said George Strong.

“You are right—it would take several at least. What a mess!” The captain
glanced from room to room in perplexity. “I hardly know what to do.”

“Please, Captain Putnam, my nightgown is split from top to bottom,”
wailed Mumps.

“One of the legs of my pajamas is torn off,” growled Reff Ritter.

“An arm of mine is gone,” added Coulter.

“Boys, you will have to straighten out things as best you can for the
night,” said Captain Putnam at last. “To-morrow I’ll have a thorough
investigation.”

The cadets went to work “chawin’ good and proper,” as Andy expressed it,
and inside of half an hour the sheets and night clothing were
straightened out, and then the lads went to bed, tired but highly
excited. All voted that this was the most strenuous day that had ever
come to them.

“Captain Putnam can think as he pleases,” said Pepper. “I am certain in
my mind that the Pornell fellows did this, although how they managed it
without being seen is a wonder to me.”

“It wasn’t so difficult, with all the cadets and all the teachers away,”
answered Stuffer. “They must have gotten in on the sly and then posted a
guard.”

“If we find out it was really the Pornell fellows we ought to pay ’em
back,” spoke up Dale.

“We will,” answered Pepper promptly.

On the following morning both the cadets and the teachers had calmed
down, and Captain Putnam acted like quite another person. A rigid
investigation was held, but nothing came of it, although the missing
school books were found in a hall closet. Acting on Jack’s advice Bob
Grenwood went to the master of the school and told his story in detail,
adding that he could prove by Mr. Laning, the farmer, and by the people
in Cedarville how he had put in his time.

“Well, Grenwood, if you are innocent of this rough-house work I am glad
to know it,” answered Captain Putnam finally. And so that matter was
dropped. But he still believed poor Grenwood guilty of having
distributed the blank cartridges and refused to reinstate the
ex-quartermaster.

Two days later the new teacher arrived and was introduced to the cadets
by Captain Putnam. Mr. Pluxton Cuddle proved to be a large man, fully
six feet two inches in height and weighing at least two hundred pounds.
He had a shock of heavy black hair, a heavy black moustache, and heavy
black eyebrows. When he spoke his voice was almost a rumble, and he had
a manner of shifting his eyes constantly and of rubbing his hands
together as if soaping them well.

“I am sure we shall get along well together, young gentlemen,” he said
in a voice that could be heard out on the campus. “Education is a great
thing, a grand thing, and while you are at this institution you must
make the most of your opportunities. My heart goes out to all boys who
desire to elevate themselves mentally, and you who love to study will
find me your best friend. In a few days I shall feel more at home here,
and then we will see how much of precious study we can crowd into the
all but too short hours of school life.” And having said this he bowed
profoundly and sat down.

“Phew! but he’s a corker!” whispered Pepper to Jack. “I rather think
he’ll make us sit up and take notice, eh?”

“Right you are, Pep,” answered the young major. “If I am any judge he’ll
be even stricter than old Crabtree.”

“Looks like a chap who would carry out his ideas, once he had made up
his mind,” came from Andy.

“Silence in the classroom!” called out Captain Putnam, and then, after a
few words more, he left the new teacher and the students alone. Mr.
Pluxton Cuddle got to work at once, and that day the boys studied more
mathematics, astronomy and physics than ever before. They found that Mr.
Cuddle was a regular “slave driver,” as Dale called him. Even Joe
Nelson, studious as he was, shook his head.

“He’d want to keep a fellow at it every minute,” he observed. “I don’t
mind boning away, but I want a breathing spell now and then.”

In the mess hall Pluxton Cuddle made himself even more disliked than in
the classrooms. Hardly had the cadets at his table begun to eat when he
commenced to find fault.

“The food is really cooked too much,” he said. “It is not healthy for
the human stomach to eat food so well-done. And, boys, do not overload
your stomachs. An overloaded stomach befogs the brain. To grow up
clear-brained one must eat little and only that which is rare-done.”

“Gracious! does he want to starve us?” cried Pepper.

“He shan’t starve me!” returned Stuffer. He looked up to see the eyes of
the new teacher fastened on him and his plateful of victuals.

“I say, you!” cried Pluxton Cuddle, pointing a long finger at poor
Stuffer. “Do you mean to eat all that food?”

“Ye—yes, sir,” stammered Singleton.

“It is entirely too much, young man, entirely too much. Why, sir, do you
know the capacity of the human stomach?”

“I know what mine can hold,” answered Stuffer, and at this answer a
titter arose.

“Half of that food is sufficient for any boy,” went on Pluxton Cuddle,
and glared around so sharply that the tittering stopped at once. “You
cannot have a clear brain if you stuff yourself.”

“Captain Putnam lets me eat what I please,” grumbled Stuffer.

“Then the captain is making a sad mistake, and I feel it my duty to
rectify it. Take a saucedish and put half of the food on it, and then
eat what is left on your plate and no more.”

After that there was silence, but many of the cadets looked at each
other meaningly. Here was a brand-new experience. When they got out on
the campus they gathered to talk it over.

“Cut me off on food!” snorted Stuffer. “Say, if this thing keeps up I’ll
go home. Why, I ain’t had half enough to eat!”

“Poor Stuffer!” cried Pepper. “Now see what you get for pampering your
stomach!”

“I wanted some more rice pudding but I didn’t dare to ask for it,” said
Dale.

“I wanted some more meat,” came from Bart Conners. “But he wouldn’t let
the waiter bring me any. I think this is the limit!”

“What made me mad was the way Reff Ritter grinned at me from the next
table,” continued Stuffer. “He had all he wanted to eat, for they had
Mr. Strong there.”

“Too bad Mr. Strong is going away,” was Jack’s comment. “I hope he
doesn’t stay long.”

“When does he go?” inquired another pupil.

“To-morrow.”

“The only thing this Cuddle knows is lessons,” said Dale. “There is no
denying he is learned—more so even than old Crabtree. But I must say I
like him even less than Crabtree—and that is saying a whole lot.”

“I don’t see how Captain Putnam came to pick him out,” said Henry Lee.
“There are plenty of good teachers to be had.”

“He came well recommended,” answered Jack. “I heard Mr. Strong say so.”

“Humph! Wish he had stayed home,” growled Pepper. “If this sort of thing
keeps on, I’ll rebel.”

“So will I!” cried Andy.

And several others said the same. Little did they dream then, however,
of the rebellion so close at hand, and of the adventures which were to
follow.



                              CHAPTER VII
                        AN ENCOUNTER ON THE LAKE


“I am going out for a sail,” said Jack, on Saturday afternoon. “Will you
go along, Pep?”

“Certainly,” was the ready response. “Anybody else going?”

“Yes, Dale and Stuffer. Fred Century is going out in his boat too, and
take several others of our crowd.”

“Going to race again?”

“I don’t think so,” answered the young major. “He hasn’t said anything.
Of course I’ll race him if he wants to.”

As my old readers know, there had been in the past two races between the
_Alice_, the sloop owned by Jack, and the _Ajax_, the craft belonging to
Fred Century. These had taken place while Fred was a student at Pornell
Academy. In the first race a sudden gust of wind capsized the _Ajax_ and
Jack and his chums had to go to the rescue of Fred and his friends. In
the second race, which included another sloop belonging to a young man
who lived near the two schools, the _Alice_ came in ahead, with the
_Ajax_ second. On this race Roy Bock and his cronies lost considerable
money by betting, and they circulated a story that Fred had “sold out”
to the Putnam Hall boys. This caused a great rumpus, and a fight in
which Bock and several other Pornell students got a good drubbing. Then
Fred had a bitter interview with Doctor Pornell, and left the Academy
and came to Putnam Hall.

The two sloops, looking very much alike, now that both flew the colors
of the Hall, were soon standing up the lake in a breeze which was just
sufficient to fill the sails. Each carried a party of four, and all the
boys were in the best of spirits in spite of another “run in” with
Pluxton Cuddle over the matter of eating.

“Jack, if you don’t mind, I’ll race you for a couple of miles!” sang out
Fred, who was handling the tiller of the _Ajax_.

“Want to get beat again?” asked the young major, with a grin.

“No, I want to prove to you that the _Ajax_ is just as good a sloop as
the _Alice_.”

“All right, I’ll race if you want to. What’s the course?”

“From here to Borden’s Cove, if you don’t mind.”

“Want to capsize again?” questioned Pepper.

“No, I know enough to take in sail now,” answered Fred.

“All right!” sang out the owner of the _Alice_. “What’s the prize for
winning?”

“A quart of baked ice-cream,” answered Fred merrily.

“Add a dozen stuffed pancakes fried in ice and I’ll go you!” called the
young major. “Are you ready?”

“Yes.”

“Then go! And catch me if you can!”

“Catch me, you mean!” yelled Fred, and then both skippers settled down
to handle their respective craft as best they knew how. Each had his
topsail broken out, and each made his passengers sit so as to make his
sloop ride on as even a keel as possible.

It was a beautiful day for a race, warm and clear, with scarcely a cloud
in the sky.

“I know what I’d like,” said Pepper, as they bowled along over the
course. “I’d like to take a swim. I know the water must be dandy.”

“I’ll be with you—after this race is over,” answered Dale.

Side by side the two sloops kept on the course until Cat Point was
rounded. Then the _Ajax_ began slowly to crawl ahead.

“There! What did I tell you!” cried Fred Century. “See how we are going
ahead!”

“This race isn’t over yet,” answered Jack.

They had passed the spot where the mishap had occurred to the _Ajax_ and
were now heading directly for Borden’s Cove. Soon the _Alice_ began to
crawl up and presently passed the _Ajax_. Those on Jack’s craft gave a
cheer.

“You can’t beat the _Alice_, Fred!”

“If you want a tow we’ll throw you a rope!”

“Wait, this race isn’t over yet!” called Fred, and swung his tiller over
a little. At once his sloop began to move faster, and soon the two craft
were side by side again. And this position they kept until the Cove was
gained and the race had come to an end.

“We’ll have to call it a tie!” declared the young major.

“A tie it is,” answered the owner of the _Ajax_. “But some day I’ll beat
you yet,” he added, with a determined shake of his head.

“Well, I’d rather be beat by you than anybody else on this lake, Fred,”
said Jack.

“Thank you, that’s a nice thing to say.”

“I mean it.”

“I believe you, Jack, and I’d rather come in behind the _Alice_ than
behind any other sloop,” added Fred. “My opinion is that our boats are
both crackerjacks.”

“Right you are,” came from Pepper.

“If you want to give them away, I’ll take either,” said Andy, with an
innocent look, and this remark caused a general laugh.

The boys found a secluded spot, and tying up the two sloops, went ashore
and began to get ready for a swim. Soon Pepper plunged into the clear
water and Andy and the others followed. It felt a trifle cold at first,
but they soon got used to it, and they dove, splashed, and swam around
to their hearts’ content.

“Come on and race!” sang out Pepper, presently.

“Done!” called Dale, and side by side they struck out for a distant
rock. The others joined in, and in a few minutes all were some distance
away from where they had left the sloops and their clothing.

In the meantime a large gasolene motor boat had come up the shore of the
lake. It contained a pleasure party from Pornell Academy, including Roy
Bock, Grimes, Gussic, Sedley, and several others. The motor boat was an
easy-running affair and under reduced speed made little noise, so the
swimmers did not notice its approach.

“Hello, I see two sloops in the Cove,” remarked Roy Bock.

“One of ’em is Fred Century’s boat,” said Grimes.

“Yes, and the other is the boat belonging to Jack Ruddy,” added Gussic.
“Nobody on board,” he went on, after a close look.

“They must have gone ashore,” remarked Sedley.

“There they are, over by that rock, swimming,” said Will Carey, who was
present.

The motor boat had come to a stop and now the wind blew it inshore
behind a clump of overhanging bushes. From this point those on board
watched the antics of the swimmers for several moments.

“I’ve got an idea!” cried Roy Bock suddenly.

“So have I!” added Grimes.

“We’ll tow their sloops out into the lake and cast them adrift.”

“I was going to take their clothes and hide them.”

“Say, let’s do both!” put in Will Carey.

“We want to be careful,” added another student who was present. “If we
get caught——”

“We weren’t caught the other day, when we turned Putnam Hall inside
out.”

“That’s so,—but the cadets are close by now.”

“I have it. We can tie something over our faces, and over the name of
the motor boat,” said Gussic.

This advice was acted on, and then two of the boys stole ashore and
gathered up the heaps of wearing apparel Jack and his chums had left
there. In the meantime Roy Bock got out some ropes, with which to tow
away the _Ajax_ and the _Alice_.

“If this won’t put them in a pickle nothing will,” said the bully of
Pornell Academy. “Miles from their school and nothing to wear!”

“It’s the best joke we ever played on them,” answered Gussic.

“Hurry up, you fellows!” called Roy Bock to those who were gathering up
the clothing. “Be quick!”

“Stop! stop!” yelled a voice suddenly, and from some bushes rushed Joe
Nelson, a trowel in one hand and some wild plants in another. “What are
you doing with that clothing? Who does it belong to?”

“Confound it, who is this chap?” muttered one of the Pornell students
who had come ashore.

“I don’t know,” answered the other.

“Help!” yelled Joe. “Some fellows running off with this clothing! Cadets
ahoy!” For he saw that the bundles contained Putnam Hall uniforms.

“What’s up?” called back Jack. He swam to a rock. “Well, I never!” he
gasped, looking into the Cove.

“What do you see?” questioned Pepper, anxiously.

“Some fellows at our clothing! And look, there’s a motor boat!”

“Yes, and tying fast to our sloops!” gasped Fred Century. “Stop, you
thieves!” he bawled.

“Let that clothing alone!” commanded Joe, and ran forward with his
trowel uplifted as if it was a dagger. “Drop them, I say, or somebody
will get hurt!”

His attitude was so fierce that the students from Pornell Academy let
the bundles fall and ran back to the motor boat with all speed. Bock was
also alarmed, both at the shouts from shore and from the swimmers at a
distance, and had shoved off, so the pair had to wade in up to their
knees to get on board.

“Going to leave us behind, Roy?” demanded one, angrily.

“No, but we haven’t any time to waste,” said the bully. “Here they come,
like a band of wild Indians!”

And Jack and his chums certainly did look like wild men as they rushed
along the shore, catching up rocks as they did so.

“Stop, or I’ll hit you with a stone!” called out Pepper, and then let
fly a missile that whizzed so close to Roy Bock’s head that the bully
dodged. More stones followed, thrown by Jack and the other swimmers and
by Joe Nelson, and several students on the motor boat were hit.

“Don’t! don’t!” screamed Will Carey. “You may kill somebody!”

“Then leave those sloops alone!” called Jack.

“We know you, Roy Bock,” added Fred. “And you too, Gussic and Carey. You
clear out mighty quick, or you’ll get into trouble.”

“We have a right to come here if we want to,” growled Bock, seeing that
the chance to play the Putnam Hall lads a trick had passed.

“Perhaps. But you have no right to touch our boats,” answered Jack.

“Nor our clothing,” added Andy. “Joe, how is it that you are here?” he
went on.

“I was digging plants in the woods when I heard some talking,” answered
Joe Nelson. “I came to the shore just in time to see two of that crowd
gathering up your clothing.”

“I see. Well, it was lucky you arrived.”

“We found the boats deserted,” said Sedley. “We were going to tow them
down to your dock.”

“Tell that to your grandmother, Sedley,” retorted Dale. “You were going
to run away with the sloops—and run away with our clothing too.”

“It’s on a level with the joke you played at Putnam Hall the other day,”
added Stuffer.

“What joke?” demanded Grimes.

“You know well enough.”

“I don’t know anything,” retorted the Pornell student uneasily.

“Perhaps you don’t know how we found you out,” added Jack, pinching
Pepper’s arm.

“And perhaps you don’t know that Captain Putnam is going to swear out a
warrant for your arrest,” added The Imp, as he returned Jack’s pinch.

“Our arrest!” cried Roy Bock, in consternation.

“That’s what I said.”

“He won’t dare to do it. If he does—well, we haven’t forgotten how you
came to our school one night and stole all our trophies.”

“You just wait and see what he does,” said Jack, calmly. And then he
started to dress and his chums did the same. Roy Bock wanted to talk
some more, but the young major cautioned his chums to keep silent, and
at last the motor boat and its occupants moved away across the lake.

“Well, we’ve found them out,” declared Pepper. “They are responsible for
that rough-housing right enough!”

“Yes, and we have them guessing as to what Captain Putnam is going to do
about it,” answered Jack with a grin. “Maybe they won’t sleep much
to-night, thinking it over!”

“We must get square on them, for that and for their attempt to take our
boats and our clothing,” declared Dale.

“You bet we will!” declared Andy; and all of the others agreed with him.



                              CHAPTER VIII
                         STARCHING AND BLUEING


“To get square with those Pornell fellows means two things,” remarked
Jack, as the boys proceeded to push off and out of the Cove. “One is to
do something worth while, and the other is to keep Captain Putnam in the
dark about the rough-house affair. If we raise a row about that——”

“The Pornell students will raise a row if we do anything and are found
out,” finished Andy.

“Right you are.”

“Well, I guess we can keep still, since the captain has admitted he
thinks Bob Grenwood innocent of the affair,” remarked Dale.

On the arrival at the Hall the two sloops were tied up at the dock, and
the boys drifted down to the gymnasium, where Andy did some wonderful
“stunts” on the rings and bars. Jack drew some of his chums aside and in
a corner it was discussed how accounts might be “squared up” with the
Pornellites.

“I know what I’d like to do,” grumbled Stuffer. “I’d like to present
them with Pluxton Cuddle. They could have him and welcome.”

“What, have you had more trouble?” questioned Pepper.

“Indeed I have! What do you think! I was eating some candy I bought in
town last week and he told me to throw it away—that it would ruin my
digestion!”

“That’s fierce,” said Hogan. “Sure, and where is this tyranny to stop, I
don’t know! Next thing ye know he won’t let us eat at all, at all!”

“I move we give Cuddle a lesson—after we get through with Pornell,” said
Bart Conners, and this suggestion was hailed with satisfaction by all
present.

One of the boys had learned that a number of Pornell students were going
to a party on the following Wednesday afternoon. The affair was to be
given by a number of girls at a place called Lakelawn, a mile from the
Academy. Among the invited guests were Bock and several of his cronies.

“And what do you think!” said the cadet who gave this news. “Reff
Ritter, Coulter and Paxton are also invited and I believe they are to go
too.”

“We ought to do something to spoil that fun,” said Andy.

“Let us think it over,” answered Jack.

On Monday afternoon Pepper learned through Mumps that Ritter, Coulter
and Paxton had accepted the invitation to Lakelawn and expected to have
a “large time,” to use Ritter’s own words.

At the time the school sneak gave this information to Pepper the latter
was eating candy from a bag he had purchased. Mumps wanted some of that
candy and he lingered around even after Pepper had given him several
chocolates.

“Say,” he said finally. “Give me some more chocolates and I’ll tell you
something very important.”

“What about, Mumps?”

“About Ritter and his crowd.”

“But you have just told me about them.”

“This is something different.”

“Well, let me have it.”

“Will you give me the chocolates?”

“Yes,—if the news is of importance.”

“How many?”

“All there are left in the bag.” The Imp twisted the top of the candy
bag shut as he spoke.

“All right.” The school sneak looked around the hall, to make certain
nobody was listening. “Ritter and his crowd are going to do you up brown
to-night,” he said coarsely.

“Do us up brown? What do you mean?” And now Pepper was all attention.

“I don’t know any particulars. But I heard Reff say that, when he was
talking to Coulter, Paxton and Sabine. I think they are going to visit
your dormitory after you are asleep.”

“What else did they say?”

“I didn’t catch much, for Reff saw me and ordered me away. I heard them
mention starch. He told some kind of a joke about putting the starch in
you instead of taking it out.”

“Hum!” mused Pepper. “Is that all?”

“Yes. But don’t say I told you, please!” pleaded Mumps.

“I won’t. And here is the candy.”

The Imp held out the bag and the sneak snatched it eagerly, and looked
inside.

“Huh!” he said, indignantly. “There is only one chocolate in the bag!”

“I gave you all I had left—just as I promised,” answered Pepper with a
grin, and walked away, leaving the sneak much crestfallen.

Pepper lost no time in hunting up Jack and some of the others and
relating all he had heard.

“We must be on our guard to-night,” said the young major.

“What do you make of this talk about starch?” asked Andy.

“I know that to-day is wash day and the wash-women in the laundry are
using a lot of starch,” answered Jack. “Maybe Ritter and his gang think
to steal some and use it.”

“Gracious! if they do that I know what I’ll do!” cried Pepper, struck by
a sudden idea.

“What?”

“If they try to starch us why can’t we blue them? We can get some of the
blueing balls from the laundry, and——”

“Good? Just the cheese!” cried Dale. “Blueing is better than starching
any day!” And he laughed gleefully.

The boys laid their plans with care, and retired to their dormitory at
an early hour. They had a little studying to do and got through with
their lessons as speedily as possible.

“Now I am going out and play enemy,” said Pepper, when it was time to
retire. “Remember, when I whistle it means get busy!” And he stole forth
out of the dormitory and down the semi-dark hallway with the silence of
a shadow.

When he reached the doorway of the room Ritter and his cronies occupied
he paused and listened intently. A low murmur of voices reached his
ears.

“Are you fellows all ready?” he heard Ritter ask, presently.

“Yes,” was the general answer.

“Everybody got his can of starch?”

“I couldn’t get any more starch so I got mucilage,” answered Paxton. “I
reckon it will be just as sticky.”

The others said they had starch, and then Reff Ritter came to the door
and opened it softly. Pepper was too quick for him, however, and hid out
of sight around an angle of the hall.

The conspirators had scarcely left the dormitory when Pepper entered it
and spent several minutes inside. Then he came out on the run, a
handkerchief tied over his face.

In the meantime Ritter and his crowd had entered the room Jack and the
others occupied. They were about to pour the cans of starch and mucilage
over the beds, where they supposed the cadets were reposing, when
something unexpected happened. From out of two closets leaped Jack, Andy
and the others, each with a wet and knotted towel in his hand.

“At them, fellows!” cried the young major. And whack! came his wet towel
on Reff Ritter’s head, sending the water flying into his face.

“Hi! stop!” roared the bully, taken completely off his guard.

Whack! whack! whack! went the wet and knotted towels, and every one of
the intruders received several cracks on the head and in the face. The
cloths were so saturated with moisture that the water flew in all
directions, wetting them completely. Ritter and his crowd were so
bewildered they knew not what to do and forget all about using the cans
of starch. Coulter let his can drop and then slipped on the contents,
pulling another boy down on top of him.

“Hi, Ritter, get back to your room! Old Crabtree is coming!” called out
Pepper in a disguised voice from the hallway, and then, more scared than
ever, the bully turned and darted from the dormitory and his cohorts
followed. In the darkness Pepper tripped the bully up, sending him
headlong on his nose. Then Pepper darted into the dormitory, and the
door was shut and locked.

“That’s the time we caught them on the fly,” cried Jack, joyously. “My,
but didn’t we give it to ’em good!”

“I hope you wet them all,” said Pepper.

“We did,” answered Andy.

“Then they’ll have a fine time drying themselves—if they get hold of the
towels I fixed up,” grinned The Imp.

They waited and heard Ritter and his cronies enter the dormitory at the
end of the hallway. Then they stole forth, Pepper leading the way.

“Who said Crabtree was coming?” they heard Ritter ask.

“Must have been some friend from another dormitory,” answered Billy
Sabine. “Ugh! I’m soaked through!” And he shivered.

“Don’t say a word, I got a crack right in the nose and it’s bleeding,”
growled Coulter.

“What, the crack or the nose?” queried Paxton grimly.

“Huh, this ain’t no time to joke! Where is there a towel?”

Towels were handy—Pepper had seen to that—and one after another of those
in the dormitory caught up a cloth and began to wipe the water from his
face and neck. They were doing this vigorously by a dim light when of a
sudden Coulter let out a yell.

“What’s the matter with your face, Paxton?” he asked.

“My face? Nothing, only it’s mighty wet.”

“It’s as blue as indigo!”

“Eh?”

“It’s as blue as indigo and all streaked!”

Nick Paxton ran to a glass and gave a look. But before he could say a
word Reff Ritter gave a cry.

“My hands are all blue—and so is my nose!”

“I’m blue too!” ejaculated Billy Sabine. “Oh, what has happened to us?”

“Maybe they had blue paint in those towels,” suggested Coulter. “Gosh,
if this ain’t fierce! We look like a lot of painted Indians!”

“So we do!” cried another student. “Wonder if it will wash off?”

Reff Ritter turned up the light and examined a towel closely.

“I see what it is!” he cried. “Somebody has put blueing powder all over
the towels. The water has made a regular dye of it!”

“Oh!” came in a groaning chorus.

“Will the—the blueing wash off?” asked Paxton, in a faint voice.

“I don’t think all of it will—it’s too strong,” answered Ritter. “I’ll
bet this is some of the Ruddy crowd’s work,” he added bitterly.

Just then a sheet of paper was thrust under the door. Coulter picked it
up. A patter of footsteps could be heard in the distance.

“A note,” said Coulter. “I’ll wager it is from those fellows.”

He brought the sheet of paper to the light and read it, the others
gazing over his shoulders. On the sheet was written:

  “Thank you very much for the starching. We return the compliment by
  doing the blueing.”

“I told you so!” growled Reff Ritter. “Blueing indeed? If we can’t get
this stuff off we won’t want to show ourselves in the classrooms
to-morrow!”

“And what about the party at Lakelawn?” groaned Gus Coulter. “Don’t
forget that, Reff!”

“If we can’t clean up we’ll have to stay at home. I don’t want to go
looking like a bluejay, do you?”

“We’ll have to get square with the Ruddy crowd for this,” said Paxton.
“Oh, what a mess!” And he did his best to get the blueing from his face.

“Just wait, that’s all!” answered Reff Ritter, savagely. “I’ll get
square if it takes a thousand years!”



                               CHAPTER IX
                     WHAT HAPPENED AT THE ICE HOUSE


The next morning Reff Ritter had to excuse himself, and he did not come
downstairs all day. Some of the blueing had gotten on his nose and
refused to come off. Paxton and Coulter appeared, and they looked “blue”
in more ways than one.

“We are going to square up some day!” growled Coulter, when he met
Pepper. “Just wait, that’s all!”

“Look out that you don’t burn your fingers doing it,” answered The Imp.
“Remember, we can give you as good as you send, every time!”

Coulter and Paxton still had some of the blueing on them and some of the
cadets not in the secret wanted to know what was the trouble.

“Oh, we had some blue ink and it got spilled,” answered Paxton, and that
was all he and Coulter would say. When Captain Putnam went upstairs to
call on Ritter and make sure he was not seriously sick the bully told
the same story.

“Well, be careful the next time,” said the master of the Hall, and he
left Ritter in deep thought. He felt almost certain some kind of a joke
had been played, but he did not wish to investigate, having his hands
full with other things. George Strong had departed, having received a
special message of importance, and the captain himself had to leave the
school the following Monday, to go to Chicago.

In a roundabout way Jack and his chums learned that Reff Ritter, Coulter
and Paxton were going to attend the lawn party in spite of the blueing
that still showed on their hands and faces, and they at once set to work
to see what could be done toward having more fun.

“This is going to be rather a delicate proceeding,” said the young
major. “Remember, we have two crowds to deal with—Ritter’s and Roy
Bock’s.”

“Perhaps we had better divide our forces?” suggested Dale.

“I’ve got a plan, but I don’t know if it can be carried out,” said
Pepper. “To my mind, Ritter and Bock are quite friendly.”

“Yes, it’s a case of one bully loving another,” chimed in Stuffer. “They
are thick, and so are Coulter and Gussic and Grimes.”

“Then perhaps I can get this plan to work after all,” went on The Imp,
and then he told the others of his scheme. This was nothing more than to
send a letter to Bock asking him and his cronies to meet Ritter at a
certain ice-house on the lake front, at two o’clock—just an hour before
the party was to come off. Another letter was to be sent to Ritter
asking him to meet Bock and his crowd at the same place, but a little
earlier.

The letters were written without delay and a farm boy of that vicinity
was hired to deliver them both at noon on the day the party was to come
off. Each letter spoke of “a way to fix Ruddy and his crowd,” and was
unsigned.

As Pepper anticipated, Bock and Ritter and their cohorts fell into the
trap readily. Each bully was more than anxious to learn of something
whereby he might do the young major and his chums injury.

“Ritter is a fine fellow,” said Roy Bock, to his cronies. “He hates
Ruddy and those other chaps like poison, too. He must have something
great up his sleeve.” And the others agreed this must be so; and all
voted to stop at the ice-house on the way to the lawn party.

On the other hand, Ritter was equally enthusiastic, and so were Coulter
and Paxton.

“We’ll work with the Pornell fellows in this,” said the Hall bully. “I
always liked Bock, and if he will show us how to turn a trick on Ruddy
I’ll like him better than ever.”

It was no easy matter for Jack, Pepper and the others to get away early
on the day the lawn party was to be held. Yet they managed it by various
excuses, and then met back of the gymnasium, and hurried at top speed to
the ice house.

The structure was empty, the last of the former winter’s ice having been
removed the week before. It was a large and gloomy place, and scattered
around were many tons of wet sawdust.

“Now boys, follow my directions and be quick about it!” cried Pepper.
“Andy, you keep an eye open and let us know as soon as you see anybody.
Jack, here’s your make-up,” and as he finished speaking he handed over a
suit of plain clothes and a hat, such as Bock was in the habit of
wearing. These the young major donned with all speed, and pulled down
his hair over his forehead, in the style Bock affected. This done, at a
distance he resembled the bully of Pornell Academy.

The cadets set to work doing various things in the ice house that Pepper
suggested. Hardly had they completed their labors when Andy gave a low
whistle.

“Ritter and his crowd are coming!” he called, as he came into the
building.

It was now that Jack acted. He ran to the doorway, and seeing Ritter at
a distance waved his hand wildly.

“Hurry up! You’re late!” he called out, imitating Bock’s voice as much
as possible.

Not dreaming that anything was wrong, Reff Ritter and his cronies
quickened their pace and soon came up to the ice house.

“Where are you?” called out Coulter.

“Here, inside,” was the muffled answer. “Come in, the place is empty.”

Ritter entered, followed by Coulter and Paxton. They saw somebody move
at the rear end of the building and started in that direction. Each had
hardly taken a dozen steps when he found himself attacked from behind. A
long bag was thrown over his head and pulled to his knees and tied fast
there.

“Hi, you! What does this mean?” roared Ritter, trying in vain to clear
himself of the bag. Then he commenced to cough, for the bag was full of
dust.

“Silence—unless you want to be buried deep in the sawdust,” commanded
Jack, in a heavy, unnatural voice.

“Do—don’t!” spluttered Paxton. “If yo—you bury us in that we—we’ll
smother to death!”

“Wh—who are you fel—fellows?” gasped Coulter.

“We are the Pornell Academy boys, and we mean to keep you from that
party,” answered Andy, in a voice that sounded much like that of Grimes.

“Confound the luck!” growled Reff Ritter. “Say, Bock, this isn’t fair.
You said in the letter you would help us to get Jack Ruddy into
trouble.”

“Ha! ha! you were nicely fooled!” laughed Jack, still disguising his
voice.

“March!” ordered Pepper.

“I won’t budge!” cried Paxton.

Scarcely had he spoken when he felt a whip lash across his legs.

“Ouch! Oh, let up! I’ll march!” he whined. “Don’t lash me again,
please!”

As they were absolutely helpless with the strong bags tied down to their
knees, Ritter Coulter and Paxton had to do as commanded, and they were
marched out of a back door of the ice house and to a grove of trees some
distance away.

“Hurry up, boys!” whispered Pepper, to his chums. “Somebody is coming
down the road. It must be the Pornell Academy crowd!”

In a twinkling the prisoners were tied with ropes to several trees. Then
Jack led the way back to the ice house. Here Pepper went to the front,
while the major resumed his uniform.

“Say, you fellows!” cried Pepper, as soon as he was sure of the party
approaching. “Don’t be all day! Hurry up!”

“It’s too warm to hurry!” called back Roy Bock. “Do you think I want to
get all heated up?” He was faultlessly dressed in his best, and so were
his cronies, for nearly all of the Pornell students were rich and spent
a good deal upon their attire.

They walked into the ice house just as Ritter and the others had done.
It was Dale who called them to the rear, and then the others came up
behind with another set of long bags and ropes.

“Let up!” roared Roy Bock, and began to fight with such vigor that he
almost broke away. But Jack held fast and both went down into the wet
sawdust, much to Bock’s disgust.

“Confound it, you’ve ruined my best suit!” he cried, “I’ll fix you for
this, see if I don’t!”

“When you get the chance,” answered Jack in a disguised voice. “Glad you
answered my letter,” he added.

“So this is what you were up to, eh?” stormed the Pornell bully, after
further resistance was useless. With the bag over him he could, of
course, see nothing. “What are you going to do with us?”

“Nothing, only keep you here while we enjoy that lawn party,” answered
Pepper, in a disguised voice.

“It’s a plot against us!” groaned Grimes. “I told you to be cautious
about coming here.”

“Say, Ritter, I thought I could trust you,” continued Roy Bock. “This
isn’t fair at all. I thought we were going to hatch out something
against Ruddy, Ditmore, and those fellows.”

“Not to-day,” murmured Dale, and he had all he could do to keep from
laughing over the turn of affairs. Andy was in a corner, holding his
sides and chuckling, and all of the other cadets were grinning broadly.

The Pornell students wanted to argue, but Jack and his chums would not
listen. With strong ropes they tied each of the enemy fast to a beam in
the ice house.

“W’ll be back bye and bye,” cried Jack, in an unnatural voice,

“Don’t leave us!” cried Gussic. “This bag is horribly dirty. I’ve got my
whole head full of it!”

“Come back!” yelled Ritter, from his bag. “Say, if you’ll let us out
we’ll call it square. If you don’t, I’ll——”

“What will you do?” asked Jack, from a distance.

“Report you to Captain Putnam.”

“Do it—I don’t care,” was the young major’s answer, and then he and his
chums departed, rolling the ice house door shut as they did so. They
waited till they had covered a hundred yards or so and then of a sudden
every cadet present burst into a roar of merriment that lasted for
several minutes.

“It’s the richest ever!” cried Andy, the tears fairly running down his
cheeks. “We’ve got ’em all prisoners and each party thinks the other
guilty!”

“Think of Roy Bock reporting to Captain Putnam for this!” said Pepper.
“Wouldn’t that make you scream?”

“And maybe Ritter will report Bock and his gang to Doctor Pornell,”
suggested Dale.

“Sure, and its the foinest mix-up I ever seen in me life,” was Emerald’s
comment. “If only they meet some day an’ fight it out!” And the grin on
his broad face spread from ear to ear.

The crowd walked down to the lake shore and then to the place where the
lawn party was in progress. They saw a dozen or more girls in the
grounds, but only five boys.

“It’s hard luck for the girls,” was Pepper’s comment. “But it can’t be
helped.”

“I don’t pity them,” said Andy. “They didn’t invite me,—and I once took
two of them rowing, too.”

“Yes, and they didn’t invite me—and I once treated three of them to
ice-cream soda,” added Dale.

The boys watched the party from a distance, and then, when it was
growing late, started again in the direction of the ice house.

“Hark! what is that?” called Andy suddenly.

“Sounds like somebody fighting,” answered Pepper.

“I think I know what it is,” burst out Jack. “Come, follow me!” And he
dove into the bushes lining the roadway.



                               CHAPTER X
                          A MIX-UP ON THE ROAD


As luck would have it, Reff Ritter’s party and the crowd from Pornell
Academy had become free at the same time, each working out of the ropes
and bags in a manner known only to themselves. Each had brushed up as
much as possible and started hurriedly for the place where the lawn
party was in progress. The two crowds had come together on the road not
over two hundred yards from the ice house. Each accused the other of
being guilty of the trick, and in less than five minutes blows were
being freely exchanged.

“I’ll show you what it means to treat me like a pig!” cried Roy Bock,
and he struck Ritter a blow in the nose that drew blood.

“Oh, you can’t bluff me!” retorted the Putnam Hall bully, and hit the
lad from Pornell in the left eye. Then the pair clinched and rolled over
and over in the dirt of the road.

In the meantime Grimes struck Coulter and Paxton hit Gussic. Then
everybody struck out, and inside of a minute the three Putnam Hall boys
were down and the enemy were on top of them. Clothing was torn, collars
and ties pulled off, and the general melée was something awful to
behold.

It was in the midst of this excitement that Jack and his chums arrived.

“Whow!” cried Andy. “Say, but they are going at each other for keeps,
aren’t they?”

“Sure, an’ it’s fightin’ like cats an’ dogs they are,” was Hogan’s
comment. “’Tis a bit av Donnybrook Fair,” he added. “Oh, for a
shillalah!”

“The Pornell crowd isn’t fighting fair,” said Jack. “They outnumber our
fellows.”

“What of it?” demanded Dale. “I reckon Ritter, Coulter and Paxton are
getting all they deserve.”

“Ge—get off of m—me!” came in a groan from Paxton. “Yo—you are crushing
in my ribs!”

“Don’t hit me with that stone!” they heard Coulter scream.

“They are certainly going too far,” said Pepper. “Enough is enough. Let
us scare the Pornell fellows off.”

This was agreed to, and picking up sticks and stones Jack’s crowd set up
a sudden wild yelling that made the Pornellites stop fighting and glance
around in fear.

“Come on!” cried Pepper. “Putnam Hall to the rescue! Down with Pornell
Academy!” And he looked over his shoulder, as if urging others behind
him. Then Jack and the others took up the cue, and they made it appear
as if a big party was approaching. Andy even ran behind some bushes and
called out in as many different tones of voice as he could master.

The ruse worked to perfection, and Roy Bock and his cohorts lost no time
in leaping to their feet and retreating a few paces.

“I guess the whole school is coming!” said the bully of Pornell Academy.

“Charge them! Charge them!” yelled Jack, and ran forward brandishing a
big stick. Pepper was at his side, and flung a big stone over Bock’s
head. This was too much for the Pornell students, and turning, they ran
along the road for a short distance and then took to the woods. They did
not stop running until they had covered a good quarter of a mile and
were sure the pursuit had come to an end.

“It was a put-up job!” growled Roy Bock, as he leaned against a tree to
rest and catch his breath. “That was Ruddy came to help Ritter and the
others. It was a put-up job and nothing else!”

“Yes, and we walked into the trap like a lot of mice after cheese,”
grunted Gussic, with his hand on his windpipe, where he had been hit.

“Just look at these duds!” came from another lad. “About fit for the
ragbag!” And he mournfully surveyed a torn sleeve and a hole in his
trouser leg.

“My collar is gone, and so is that new dollar tie I bought for the
party,” said Bock. “I ought to make somebody buy me another tie.”

“Speaking of the party,” said another. “Are you going?”

“Going?” stormed the bully. “Are you crazy? If we went the girls would
take us for scarecrows!”

“It’s funny that other crowd didn’t go to the party,” remarked Grimes.

“Oh, I guess they’d rather play a trick on us than go to any party,” was
Gussic’s comment. “I am of the firm opinion that Ritter, Ruddy and the
whole bunch was in the plot against us.”

“Sure thing,” answered Roy Bock. And then he and his cronies walked
slowly in the direction of Pornell Academy, wondering what they should
say when they got there, and what sort of excuse they should send to the
girls who had been waiting for them.

In the meantime Reff Ritter and his cronies had gotten up and brushed
themselves off. They were considerably astonished to find that Jack and
his chums had come to their rescue.

“Huh! So it’s you!” growled Ritter, with a far from pleasant look on his
face.

“Yes,” said the young major cheerily. “I guess we got here just in the
nick of time, didn’t we?”

“Maybe you did.”

“What’s the row about?” questioned Pepper innocently, but with a side
wink at Andy and Dale.

“About? They tied us up in bags, and——” began Paxton, when a cold look
from Reff Ritter stopped him. “I mean—er—they——”

“Never mind what it was about,” growled Ritter.

“Tied you up in bags, did they?” said Andy. “That was hard luck sure.
How did you escape?”

“I cut my way from the bag with my pocketknife,” said Coulter, ignoring
Ritter’s look. “Those fellows——”

“Say, can’t you keep it to yourself?” demanded the bully of the Hall
sourly. He was afraid Jack and his chums would laugh at him and those
who had suffered with him.

“Ritter, you needn’t tell us anything,” said the young major, drawing
himself up, stiffly. “We did what we could for you, but we don’t expect
either your confidence or your thanks.” He turned to his chums. “Come,
fellows, I fancy we are not wanted here,” and he turned and walked in
the direction of Putnam Hall, with Pepper and the rest at his heels.
Each boy wanted to laugh but each managed to keep a straight face until
a safe distance was covered. Then Pepper had to roll on the ground and
roar, and Andy did the same.

“Oh, Jack!” panted The Imp, when he felt able to speak. “That was the
richest yet—what you said—‘We did what we could for you, but we don’t
expect your thanks!’ Gracious, I thought I’d die when you said it!”

“We’ve got ’em guessing,” said Dale.

“Yes, and I reckon Bock and his gang and Ritter and his cronies will be
enemies for life now,” said Andy.

“Boys, in honor of this occasion, I move we celebrate to-night,” said
Pepper.

“Second the motion,” answered Andy, promptly. “But how is it to be
done?”

“Might each do an extra example in geometry, in honor of the event,”
suggested Jack, with a smile.

“Geometry!” snorted Stuffer. “Not much! Let’s have something to eat!”

“Stuffer’s one idea of celebrating is something to eat,” cried Andy.

“Well, a feast isn’t so bad,” said another cadet.

“Where are we going to get anything?” asked Pepper. “We can’t go to
Cedarville—it’s too late.”

“I have it!” cried Andy. “Let us have an ice-cream festival.”

“That’s easy enough to say, Andy, but where are you going to get the
cream?” asked the young major.

“If some of you will make excuses for me after supper I’ll get the
cream,” answered the acrobatic youth. “I can go to Cedarville and back
in no time on my wheel. But I want some money,” he added, suddenly.
“Poser, the ice-cream man, doesn’t tick anybody.”

“An ice-cream party it is,” said Emerald. “Sure, an’ I could eat some
now, so I could!” And he smacked his lips.

When the cadets got back to Putnam Hall they washed up hastily and then
some of the others turned over to Andy a portion of their spending
money. Andy got a hasty supper, and then, watching his chance, stole
from the mess hall on the sly. His bicycle was in the wagon house, and
mounting this he spun along the highway leading to the town at
record-breaking speed.

“Where did Snow go?” demanded Pluxton Cuddle, when he noticed the vacant
chair.

“Perhaps he wasn’t feeling well,” suggested Pepper. “I noticed he had
his hand to his stomach.”

“He eats too much,” grumbled the new teacher. “All of you boys eat more
than is good for you. After this I shall have to keep an eye on Snow.”
He glared round the table. “Singleton, what is that you have in your
hand?”

“A piece of cake, sir,” answered Stuffer.

“Didn’t you have a piece before, sir?”

“Yes, sir. But I’m hungry and——”

“One piece of cake is enough, Singleton. Put that down and leave the
table.”

“Do you want me to go hungry?” demanded Stuffer, half angrily. The
strenuous events of the afternoon had made him unusually hungry.

“I will not allow a cadet to stuff himself. I do not wonder that some of
the boys have given you the nickname of Stuffer—although I abhor
nicknames. Leave the room, sir!”

“All right, old cat!” grumbled Paul, under his breath, and he marched
out, with Pluxton Cuddle’s eyes glaring after him. In the meantime
Pepper calmly reached over, took half a dozen slices of cake and rolled
them up in a napkin in his lap. Seeing this, Jack did the same. When
Pluxton Cuddle chanced to look at the plate a minute later he stared in
amazement.

“Who took that cake?” he thundered.

To this question all the cadets remained silent.

“Answer me, who took that cake?” he repeated, and looked at each boy in
turn.

“I didn’t,” answered Dale.

“I ate but one piece, Mr. Cuddle!” said Pepper.

“That is all I ate, too,” added Jack.

“Only Stuffer—I mean Singleton—ate more than one piece,” said Bart
Conners.

“Strange! strange! I thought the plate was full of cake,” murmured
Pluxton Cuddle. He glared again at the cadets. “If I find out that any
of you have deceived me I shall punish you severely. Now finish your
suppers!” And he began to munch away vigorously on the dry toast he was
eating. His theory was that a person should eat very little but
masticate that little well, and he sometimes chewed a mouthful of food
thirty or forty times.

When the meal was over, Pepper and Jack slipped the napkins full of cake
under their jackets and left the mess hall. Then they took the cake
upstairs and hid the dainty in a safe place. This done they strolled
down the highway leading to Cedarville, looking for Andy.

“He ought to be coming soon,” remarked the young major, after a half
hour had passed.

They walked a short distance from the Hall and then sat down on a rock
to rest. Here presently Dale and Stuffer joined them.

“Where is Andy?” called out Stuffer. “I am hungry enough to eat that
ice-cream right now.”

“I think something is wrong,” said Jack. “He ought to be back by this
time.”

“What could be wrong, Jack?” asked Pepper.

“I don’t know, but——” The young major paused. “Somehow, I feel that
something serious has happened to Andy!”



                               CHAPTER XI
                         WHAT HAPPENED TO ANDY


“Perhaps Andy had a tumble from his wheel,” suggested Dale. “It might
have broken down, you know.”

“Let us walk toward town and find out,” answered Pepper.

To this the others readily consented, and all set off in the direction
of Cedarville. They had to go around a long curve, and then came to a
spot where the roadway was lined upon either side with thick brushwood
and trees.

“Here he is!” called out Jack, and ran forward. “At least, here is his
wheel.”

He was right about the bicycle. It rested by the roadside, close to the
fallen limb of a tree.

“He certainly took a tumble!” cried Stuffer. “But where is he?”

This question was answered by a groan that made all of the cadets start.
They turned, peered into the bushes, and there beheld poor Andy
stretched out on some grass. The blood was flowing from a wound in his
forehead and from a cut on his hand.

“Andy!” cried the young major. “Are you hurt much?”

“I—I don’t know,” was the gasped-out reply.

“Didn’t you see the tree limb?” asked Pepper, as he got out his
handkerchief to wipe away some of the blood on his chum’s face, so he
might see the extent of the injury. Fortunately the cut was not deep,
and it was easily bound up.

“That limb came down right in front of me,” was Andy’s answer. “If it
had been down before I got to it I could have cleared it somehow.”

Stuffer ran to a nearby brook for water, bringing some in a cone he made
of a sheet of writing paper, and inside of five minutes the sufferer
felt well enough to tell his story.

“I was coming along, guiding the wheel with one hand and holding the
ice-cream with the other,” he explained. “All at once the limb came down
right in front of me. I crashed into it and landed on some stones in the
bushes and then, I guess, I lost consciousness. That’s all I’ve got to
tell.”

“What became of the ice-cream?” asked Stuffer, and despite Andy’s plight
the lad who loved to eat gazed around rather anxiously.

“Why, it—it—I don’t know, I’m sure,” stammered Andy. “Isn’t it on the
road?”

It was not, nor was it anywhere in that vicinity. The cadets looked at
each other suggestively.

“Maybe it was a trick,” said Pepper. “A trick to get the cream away from
Andy and spoil our little festival.”

“That’s it!” cried Dale. “For look, there is no tree around here where
that limb could come from.”

The others looked around and saw that Dale was right. Only small trees
were in that vicinity and none of these had lost a branch.

“If it was a trick, it was a mighty mean one,” was the young major’s
comment. “Why, the tumble might have killed Andy!”

“Did you see anybody, Andy?” questioned Stuffer.

“No, and I didn’t hear anybody either.”

“Well, it’s too bad. It must have been a trick. I wonder if some of our
fellows or some fellows from Pornell Academy played it?”

“That remains for us to find out,” said Pepper. “And when we do find
out—well, somebody will suffer, that’s all!”

“Right you are!” answered Jack and Dale.

The other boys helped Andy to his feet. He was still dizzy and they had
to support him on either side. It was found that the bicycle had a
broken pedal.

“I wish I knew who did this,” grumbled Andy, as he started to limp along
between Pepper and Jack. “I’d—Oh!” And he stopped short.

“What’s the matter?” came simultaneously from those who were assisting
him.

“It’s gone!”

“What is gone?”

Andy did not answer immediately. He began to search his clothing, going
through every pocket several times. Then he started to hunt around on
the ground.

“What have you lost, Andy?” asked Jack.

“Was it valuable?” put in Stuffer.

“Was it valuable?” queried Andy. “Well, I just guess yes! It was worth
at least two hundred dollars!”

“Two hundred dollars!” exclaimed all of the others in astonishment.

“Yes—and more.”

“What was it?”

“Joe Nelson’s medal.”

“Andy!”

That was all the others said—but it was enough. Every lad at Putnam Hall
knew Joe Nelson’s medal, the one left to Joe by his Uncle Richard. It
was a beautiful racing medal of gold, set with jewels, and Joe was very
proud of it.

“What were you doing with Joe’s medal?” asked Jack, after a pause.

“The pin catch got broken and Joe sent it to the watchmaker to have
another put on. He asked me to get it for him—I was with him when he
left it at Bright’s shop. I went for it before I went for the cream.”

“And where did you have the medal?” asked Dale.

“In the inside pocket of my jacket, and I had the pocket fastened with a
safety pin, too, to keep the medal from jumping out on the road.”

“It must be somewhere around here,” said Stuffer. “Let us make a good
search.”

This they did, but it was of no avail. In the midst of it Andy set up
another cry.

“My change is gone, and so is my ring!”

“Andy!”

“Boys, I have been robbed!”

“Oh, Andy, can this be true?” burst out Jack.

“What else can it be? I couldn’t lose my ring and everything else, could
I, by just tumbling from my bicycle?”

“Andy must be right—the sudden coming down of the tree limb proves it,”
declared Pepper. “Were you unconscious long?” he continued.

“I don’t know.”

“But you are sure you were completely knocked out when you hit the
rock?” asked Dale.

“Yes—everything got dark and I didn’t know a thing. And, yes, when I
came to my senses—just before you arrived—I was in the bushes!”

“Then somebody must have carried you from the road!” declared Jack. “And
that somebody robbed you!” he added, bitterly.

After this there was a moment of silence. The others looked at Andy, and
the acrobatic lad stared at them blankly.

“Yes, I must have been robbed,” he said slowly. “But who did it?”

“I don’t believe any of our fellows would do it,” answered Dale. “Even
Ritter isn’t bad enough for that.”

“Would the Pornell fellows do it?” queried Stuffer.

“I don’t think so,” answered the young major. “Why, this is a prison
offence!”

“Andy, who knew you were carrying the medal?” questioned Pepper.

“I don’t know.”

“Did anybody see you get it from the watchmaker’s?”

At this question Andy’s face lit up suddenly.

“Yes, a beggar, who came in and asked Mr. Bright for the price of a
meal. Mr. Bright gave him five cents and I gave him the same. He was a
tall, hungry looking fellow, with a flat nose, and, I remember now, he
looked greedily at the gold medal and at the things in the shop.”

“Then maybe he is the guilty man,” said Dale.

“How would he know enough to come here and strike Andy down?” asked
Stuffer.

“He would know, by Andy’s uniform, that he belonged to the Hall,”
answered the young major. “He may have taken to this road and laid in
wait for Andy.”

“I believe you are right!” cried Andy. “I didn’t like the looks of that
chap, even though I did give him five cents. He looked just as if he
wanted to get his hands on something of value.”

“And he must have taken the ice-cream too,” came mournfully from
Stuffer.

“I hope it poisons him,” muttered Pepper.

“Humph! The idea of ice-cream poisoning anybody! Besides, a fellow like
that most likely has the digestion of an ostrich,” returned Stuffer.

It was now growing so dark that to look around further was impossible.
Jack and Pepper assisted Andy, and Dale brought along the broken
bicycle, and thus the crowd returned to Putnam Hall. At the entrance to
the campus they encountered Josiah Crabtree.

“Stop!” called the teacher, harshly. “Where have you been? Did you have
permission to leave?”

“Mr. Crabtree, where is Captain Putnam?” asked Jack, without answering
the questions put. “Andy had been hurt and robbed. We’ll have to notify
the authorities at once.”

“Hurt? Robbed? How?” And Josiah Crabtree was much interested.

“He was knocked off his wheel and robbed of a ring, some money and Joe
Nelson’s fine gold medal. Is Captain Putnam in his office?”

“I presume so. But I want to know——”

“Time is valuable here, Mr. Crabtree. We want to catch the thief if we
can,” put in Pepper, and then the whole party hurried to the office of
the master of the Hall before Josiah Crabtree could detain them further.
The teacher’s curiosity was aroused and he stalked after them.

Captain Putnam listened to Andy’s story with keen attention, and then
asked all of the boys a number of questions. Nothing was said about
ice-cream, nor did the captain ask Andy if he had had permission to go
to the village.

“You did not come back at once, after getting the medal?” was the
question put.

“No, sir. I went to a couple of stores and posted a letter at the
post-office.”

“Then that would give the rascal time enough to get out of the village
and make his plans to waylay you,” answered Captain Putnam. “I think the
least we can do is to try to catch that beggar and make him give an
account of himself. If he can prove he was in Cedarville at the time of
the robbery, why then you’ll have to look further for the thief.”

His army experience had taught Captain Putnam to act quickly in a case
of emergency, and now, without delay, he had Peleg Snuggers hitch his
fast mare to a buggy, and he and Andy drove down to Cedarville. Here the
local authorities were interviewed, and two constables and a special
policeman went out on a hunt for the beggar. The policeman had seen the
man, and remembered how he looked and how he had been dressed.

“He had an upper set of teeth that were false and a flat nose,” said the
policeman. “He was dressed in a suit of blue that was too big around for
him but not quite long enough. I saw him begging down at the steamboat
dock, and I told him if he didn’t clear out he’d be run in.”

A hunt was instituted that very night, and was kept up for several days.
But the beggar had disappeared and all efforts to locate him seemed
fruitless. A reward was offered by the captain and by Andy’s parents,
but brought no results.

“I am afraid he’s gone, and for good,” sighed Andy.

“Well, if the medal is gone it’s gone, and that is all there is to it,”
answered Joe Nelson. He felt the loss of his uncle’s gift greatly.

“Joe, my father says he will buy you another medal,” said Andy.

“He doesn’t have to do that, Andy,” was the quick reply. “It wasn’t your
fault you were robbed. Besides, I’d like to have that particular medal
back.”

“Yes, and I want my ring,” said Andy. “My mother gave me that on my last
birthday, and I prized it highly.”

“Well, maybe the medal and the ring will turn up some day,” concluded
Joe; and there the subject was dropped.



                              CHAPTER XII
                      THE BEGINNING OF A REBELLION


As has been said, George Strong had gone away on business, and now
Captain Putnam followed him. This left the school in charge of Josiah
Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle. That there might be no dispute regarding
authority the master of the school made it plain to the two assistants
that Crabtree was to have undisputed sway during school hours and that
at other times Cuddle was to assume command.

“We are in for it now,” said Bart Conners, after the captain had gone.
“Just you wait and see. Crabtree will be as dictatorial as possible
during recitations and Cuddle won’t let us call our souls our own the
rest of the time.”

“Well, I’ll stand just so much,” answered Pepper. “Then, if it gets
worse, I’ll kick.” And his chums said about the same.

The first trouble arose in the schoolroom. Some of the boys had a Latin
lesson that was extra difficult, and when they stumbled in the
recitation Crabtree read them a lecture that was bitter in the extreme.

“You must understand that I am now in authority here,” he declared,
pompously. “I want no more shirking. The reason you haven’t this lesson
is because you are lazy!”

“Mr. Crabtree,” answered Joe Nelson, with a flushed face. “I did my best
on that translation. But we have never had——”

“Stop, Nelson, I want no excuses,” roared Josiah Crabtree. “This lesson
is simple enough for a child to learn.”

“I did my best,” put in Jack, half aloud.

“Ruddy, did you speak?” demanded the teacher, whirling around and eyeing
the young major savagely.

“I did, sir. I said I did my best. As Joe says, we have never had——”

“Silence! Didn’t I say I wanted no excuses? Ditmore, you may translate
from the beginning of paragraph twenty-four.”

“I didn’t study paragraph twenty-four,” answered Pepper. “I thought we
were to take to twenty-two only.”

“I said twenty to twenty-five,” answered Josiah Crabtree, coldly. “If
you can’t translate sit down, and I’ll mark you zero. Ritter, you may
translate paragraph twenty-four for Ditmore’s benefit.”

The last words were said maliciously, for the teacher knew that Pepper
and Ritter were on bad terms with each other. Pepper’s face reddened and
he scowled. But a moment later he had to grin.

“Mr. Crabtree, I—er—I am not prepared to translate,” stammered Reff
Ritter.

“What!” shouted the teacher.

“I am not prepared to translate. I—er—I had such a headache last night I
couldn’t study.”

“Headache is good!” muttered Dale into Pepper’s ear. “He was out on the
lake having a good time and smoking cigarettes!”

“Perhaps the cigarettes made his head ache,” answered Pepper.

“Stop that talking!” bawled Josiah Crabtree, and rapped sharply on his
desk with a ruler. “Kearney, you may go on with the lesson.”

Now as it chanced, Dave Kearney was an exceptionally good Latin scholar,
so he translated fairly well, even though he had not looked over the
paragraph given. Then Stuffer was called on.

“I studied only up to twenty-three,” said he. “That’s as far as you said
we were to go.”

“Don’t contradict me! Don’t you dare!” shouted Josiah Crabtree, red in
the face with rage. “I know what lessons I give out. Conners, you go
on.”

The big boy of the class shrugged his shoulders.

“I can go on, but not very well, sir,” he answered. “I understood we
were to go to the end of paragraph twenty-two only. I may be mistaken——”

“You’re right!” came from a cadet in the rear of the room.

“So he is!” said several others.

“Silence! silence!” shouted Josiah Crabtree, leaping to his feet and
shaking his ruler in the pupils’ faces. “Silence! I will have silence!”

“Anybody got any silence to spare?” murmured Pepper, looking behind him.
“Mr. Crabtree wants to borrow some silence.” And at this a snicker went
around.

“I will have silence!” repeated the teacher. “If you are not silent I
will keep every one of you in after school!”

“Mr. Crabtree,” said Jack, arising and facing the irate teacher boldly.
As major of the school battalion he felt it his duty to speak.

“Ruddy, what do you want?” snapped the teacher.

“There has evidently been a mistake made. I think most of the boys here
understood you to say we were to go to the end of paragraph
twenty-two——”

“That’s it! That’s it!” came in a dozen voices.

“Silence! Ruddy, sit down!”

“But, sir, I would suggest——”

“Sit down, or I’ll make you!” stormed Josiah Crabtree, and leaving his
desk he strode down the aisle with his ruler brandished over his head.

It was a critical moment—one of the most critical Putnam Hall had ever
seen—and many of the cadets present held their breath. Some expected to
see Jack drop into his seat, but the young major did nothing of the
kind. He stood in a soldierly attitude and looked the angry teacher full
in the eyes.

“Will you sit down or not?” demanded Josiah Crabtree, as he came to a
halt in front of the pupil.

“Will you listen to me, or not, Mr. Crabtree?” asked Jack. “If you
won’t, I have nothing more to say, here. But I’ll report the matter to
Captain Putnam when he returns.”

“Good! That’s the talk!” came from several others.

“Crabtree made the mistake and he is afraid to acknowledge it,” said one
cadet.

“Boys, will you be silent?” yelled the teacher. “This is—er—outrageous!
I never saw such actions in a schoolroom before! Am I in authority here,
or am I not?”

“You are—not!” squeaked a voice from the rear.

“Walk out in the air and forget to return,” added another voice.

“Take a vacation until Captain Putnam gets back,” suggested a third.

Josiah Crabtree trembled with rage and from red grew white. He waved his
ruler wildly in the air.

“This is—is rebellion!” he gasped. “Rebellion! I want everybody to sit
down!” For all the cadets were now on their feet.

“Sit down yourself!” came from Coulter, who was in the rear, and then
somebody threw a book into the air. More books followed, and several
volumes landed on Josiah Crabtree’s head and shoulders. He danced around
wildly, trying to reach some of the cadets with the ruler, but all kept
out of his way.

It was the most exciting time Putnam Hall had ever witnessed, and the
climax was gained when an inkwell, thrown by Reff Ritter, struck Josiah
Crabtree in the neck. Up flew the ink into the instructor’s face,
covering his nose, chin and one cheek.

“You wretches!” spluttered Crabtree, wiping the ink from one eye. “You
wretches! Stop, or I’ll have you all locked up! This is—is disgraceful,
outrageous, preposterous! I never imagined any set of boys could be so
bad! I shall have somebody arrested for assault and battery! I’ll have
the law on all of you!” And still brandishing the ruler he ran from the
classroom, banging the door after him.

For the moment after he was gone nobody spoke. Then Bart Conners emitted
a low whistle.

“Here’s a how-do-you-do!” he exclaimed.

“Do you think he’ll try to have anybody arrested?” questioned Reff
Ritter. He was just a little scared and wished he had not thrown the
inkwell.

“He’ll have a job arresting the whole class,” was Andy’s comment.

“It wasn’t our fault,” added Dale. “He started the trouble. It was his
mistake about the lesson.”

“So it was,” put in Dave Kearney. “I knew paragraph twenty-four, but he
gave us only to the end of twenty-two, I am certain of it.”

“So am I,” added nearly every student present.

“Boys, come to order!” called out Jack. “Everybody take his books and
sit down,” and all but Ritter did as requested. The latter took up the
fallen inkwell and carried it to his seat.

“It wasn’t fair to throw that inkwell,” remarked Joe Nelson.

“That was going a little too far,” said another student.

“Huh! Are you fellows going back on me?” demanded the bully, uneasily.
“Didn’t you throw books and other things?”

“Books aren’t inkwells full of ink,” remarked Stuffer.

“You threw an apple core!” flared back Ritter.

“So I did—into the air. But it struck the blackboard, not old Crabtree.”

“It’s just as bad.”

“Sure it is,” put in Coulter, bound to stand by his crony.

“We are all in this together,” said Paxton. “The fellow who tries to
crawl ought to be kicked.”

“And you’d be the first to do it—if you could,” retorted Pepper. “Just
the same, nobody is crawling yet,” he added, quickly.

A warm discussion arose on all sides, and it was generally admitted
that, barring the inkwell incident, Josiah Crabtree had gotten no more
than he deserved.

“He ought to be kicked out of this school,” said Henry Lee. “We ought to
combine and ask Captain Putnam to get rid of him.”

“He’s under contract,” said Bart Conners. “If the captain sent him away,
old Crabtree would most likely sue for his salary.”

“I’ll tell you what we can do,” said Jack. “Sit down and begin to study
just as if nothing had happened.”

“But if he has gone for the authorities——” began one of the cadets.

“I don’t think he’ll go. He’ll have to wash that ink off first—and the
water will cool him down.”

“He won’t dare to go, for we can complain too,” added Andy.

At that moment the door opened and Pluxton Cuddle stalked in, followed
by the gymnasium instructor and Peleg Snuggers. The general utility man
carried a cane and looked troubled. The new teacher marched to the
platform and the others did the same.

“This room will come to order!” commanded Pluxton Cuddle, but this order
was unnecessary, for every cadet was in his seat and all were sitting up
as stiff as ramrods. The silence was so complete that the clock in the
hall could be heard ticking loudly.

“Mr. Crabtree informs me that a disgraceful scene just occurred here,”
went on Pluxton Cuddle. “He was assaulted by books, inkwells and other
things. Were it not that he does not wish to bring disgrace upon this
institution of learning, he would at once summon the authorities and
have all of you placed under arrest.”

The instructor paused, hoping somebody would say something, but not a
cadet opened his lips, although all faced the teacher boldly.

“I want the names of all who threw anything at Mr. Crabtree,” continued
Pluxton Cuddle. “Everybody who threw anything stand up.”

The cadets looked at one another and nobody budged from his seat.

“Did you hear what I said, young gentlemen?” demanded the new teacher.

To this there was no reply. The students acted as if they were images of
stone.

“I will call the roll!” cried Pluxton Cuddle. “Snuggers, go to the door
and see that no boy leaves this room.”

“Yes, sir,” answered the general utility man, and with shuffling steps
he took up a position as required.

There was a pause, as the new teacher got out the roll book and began to
scan the pages. Then, of a sudden, the door opened once more and Josiah
Crabtree came in swiftly and marched to the desk. In his hand he held a
cat-o’-nine tails.



                              CHAPTER XIII
                      PLUXTON CUDDLE’S PROPOSITION


“Say, Jack, this begins to look serious,” remarked Pepper in a whisper,
as all eyes were directed to Crabtree and the lash he carried.

“He’ll make a big mistake if he tries to whip us,” was the young major’s
comment. “What’s this?” he asked, as a bit of paper was thrust into his
hand. The paper read:

  “_Refuse to say a word about anything. Pass this paper along._”

“That’s the talk,” said the young major, and slipped the sheet to the
student behind him. Thus the paper travelled from one end of the
classroom to the other.

“I was just going to call the roll, Mr. Crabtree,” said Pluxton Cuddle.
“We’ll find out soon who is guilty of assaulting you.”

“Yes! yes! The quicker the better,” answered the other teacher, grimly,
and clutched his cat-o’-nine tails tightly.

“If he tries to use that there will be a regular fight, mark my words,”
whispered Dale, who sat near Pepper.

“He’s a fool to bring that here, at such a time,” answered The Imp.
“What does he take us for, a lot of kids?”

“Addison!” called out Pluxton Cuddle, with his eyes on the roll book.
“Stand up!”

The cadet addressed did so.

“Did you throw anything at Mr. Crabtree?”

“I have nothing to say, sir.”

“Do you defy me?” fumed Pluxton Cuddle.

To this the pupil made no answer.

“Sit down! Blackmore, stand up. What have you to say?”

“I have nothing to say, Mr. Cuddle.”

“What! You—er—Is this a plot, sir?”

“I have nothing to say, sir, excepting that I am willing to go on with
my lessons, Mr. Cuddle.”

“We’ll have no lessons here until this is settled!” cried Josiah
Crabtree. “Call the next pupil.”

“Blossom! What have you to say for yourself?” asked Cuddle.

“I have nothing to say, sir,” replied the first lieutenant of Company A,
in the same tone of voice employed by those who had answered before him.

“This is—a conspiracy!” gasped Pluxton Cuddle.

“I told you how it was!” cried Josiah Crabtree. “I think the best thing
I can do is to give each pupil present ten lashes with this cat.” And he
shook the cat-o’-nine tails in the boys’ faces.

“Mr. Crabtree!” called out Jack, rising. “As major of the school
battalion I feel it my duty to speak out. I think the boys would like me
to be their spokesman.”

“Yes! yes!” was the cry from all sides.

“Tell him we won’t stand for a licking,” said one boy in the rear.

“Silence!” cried the two teachers simultaneously.

“We want justice!” came from the middle of the room.

“Leave it to Captain Putnam!” came from the right.

“Forget it and go on with the lessons,” added a voice from the left.

“Boys!” called out Jack and waved his hand. “Let me do the talking
please.” And at once the classroom became silent.

“Ruddy, I want you to sit down!” thundered Josiah Crabtree.

“Perhaps it would be as well to listen to what he has to say,” whispered
Pluxton Cuddle, who was growing a little alarmed at the demonstration
the pupils seemed to be on the point of making.

“Mr. Cuddle, am I in authority here, or you?” demanded the unreasonable
Crabtree.

“You asked me to assist you, sir,” answered Cuddle, sharply.

“So I did, but—but—these young ruffians must be taught to mind! The way
they have acted is outrageous!”

“You won’t gain much by bullying them,” went on Pluxton Cuddle. “If I
had my way, I know what I’d do, sir.”

“And what would you do?” snapped Josiah Crabtree.

“I should cut down their supply of food. That is the whole fault in this
school—the boys get too much to eat, sir, entirely too much. It makes
animals of them, yes, sir, animals!” Pluxton Cuddle was beginning to
mount his hobby. “I have told Captain Putnam about it already. If the
boys had only half of what they get now they would be brighter, quicker
to learn, and much more easy to manage. As it is, they get large
quantities of meat and it makes perfect bulls of them—and the pastry
clogs their brains, and they can’t learn their lessons even if they try.
Put them on half rations, and in less than a week you will behold a
wonderful change in them.”

“Humph!” mused Josiah Crabtree, struck by a sudden idea. “It might be a
good thing to cut down their food—give them say one meal a day until
they got to their senses.”

“Two small meals,” interposed Pluxton Cuddle, eagerly. “And meat but
once every forty-eight hours—and no pastry of any kind. It would do them
a world of good.”

“Well, do as you think best, Mr. Cuddle. You have charge of them outside
of the classrooms, remember.”

“Then you agree?” questioned Pluxton Cuddle eagerly.

“You may do as you please—I leave them entirely in your hands, outside
of the classrooms. During school hours my word must be law.”

“Exactly, I understand.” Pluxton Cuddle began rubbing his hands
together. “We’ll start on the new system of meals this very evening.”

“Do as you like.” Josiah Crabtree paused. “But I must finish what I
started out to do.” He looked at Jack. “Ruddy, since you seem so very
anxious to talk, what have you to say for yourself?”

“I wish to speak for the whole class—or at least for the majority of the
boys,” corrected the young major, with a glance at Ritter, Coulter,
Paxton and Sabine.

“Well, out with it!” snapped Crabtree.

“This trouble, sir, is all due to a misunderstanding,” pursued the young
major. “We thought you wanted us to study the Latin lesson up to and
including paragraph twenty-two. We were not prepared to go any further
than that, even though Dave Kearney did get through all right. We think
the whole matter might be dropped where it is—and we are willing to go
back to our studies.”

“Drop it!” snapped Josiah Crabtree. “Never! If I do nothing more, I am
going to thrash the boy who threw that inkwell at me and covered my face
with ink.”

He said this so fiercely that Reff Ritter grew pale and looked around
anxiously. The bully wondered if the other cadets present would help him
to keep his secret.

“I want the student who threw that inkwell to stand up,” went on the
teacher, as Jack, having had his way, sat down.

Nobody moved, although several pairs of eyes were turned upon Reff
Ritter. Many lads present would have been glad to have seen the bully
punished, but they did not consider it honorable to expose him.

Crabtree had Pluxton Cuddle go through the roll, but this gave the
teachers no satisfaction. Each and every cadet answered that he had
nothing to say.

After the last student had been questioned there was another pause and
an ominous silence. The boys were curious to know what Josiah Crabtree
would do next. The teacher was in a quandary.

“We will take this up again another time,” he snapped, finally. “You may
return to your lessons, and to-morrow we’ll have for a Latin lesson down
to the end of paragraph thirty-two. Do you understand?—down to the end
of paragraph thirty-two—not thirty or thirty-one, but to the end of
thirty-two.” And then turning he wrote the statement on the blackboard.
“Now there will be no further misunderstanding,” he added sourly. Then
he dismissed Peleg Snuggers and the gymnastic instructor, put away the
cat-o’-nine tails in his desk, and turned to talk with Pluxton Cuddle in
a whisper, so that the scholars might not hear what was said.

“Phew! I wonder if he really expects us to take such a long lesson?”
exclaimed Pepper in a low voice. “Why, from twenty-two to thirty-two are
ten paragraphs, and we never had over six before.”

“He is going to get square in one way if not in another,” answered Andy.
“Just the same, I’ll wager a lot of the fellows won’t have the lesson
to-morrow.”

A few minutes later Pluxton Cuddle hurried out to another classroom, and
then the routine for the day went on as if nothing out of the ordinary
had happened. The cadets even saw Josiah Crabtree smile to himself. It
was a bad sign, and they knew it.

“He’s got it in for us,” whispered Dale. “Look out for a storm.”

“Yes, and a hurricane at that,” returned Stuffer.

The classes were usually dismissed in the morning at ten minutes to
twelve, thus giving the cadets ten minutes for exercise before sitting
down to dinner. But twelve o’clock came and Josiah Crabtree made no
motion to dismiss the boys.

“Hello, this is a new move,” cried Pepper, in a low voice.

“Silence in the room,” called out the teacher sharply. “We will now take
up the lesson in algebra. Conners, you may go to the blackboard.”

Somewhat perplexed, Bart Conners arose and walked to the board. He did
not know the algebra lesson very well, for he had counted on going over
it during the noon hour. He was given a decidedly difficult problem in
equations.

“Say, is he going to keep us here all noon?” asked Hogan. “Sure, if he
is, ’tis an outrage, so ’tis!”

“He isn’t going to starve me!” answered Stuffer, who, as usual, was very
hungry. He raised his hand, and then, to get quicker recognition,
snapped his finger and thumb.

“Singleton, what do you want?” asked Josiah Crabtree, tartly.

“Please, sir, it’s after twelve o’clock.”

“I know it.”

“Aren’t we to go to dinner, sir?”

“Not now. Sit down.” And the teacher frowned heavily.

Stuffer sank into his seat, a look of misery on his face. His appearance
was so woe-begone Pepper had to laugh outright. At this Crabtree rapped
sharply on his desk.

“Silence! I will have silence!” he called. “Conners, go on with the
example.”

“I can’t—er—do it,” stammered the captain of Company B.

“Huh! Then take your seat! Ritter!”

“Please, sir, I am afraid I can’t do it either. I was going to study
directly after dinner——” began the bully.

“Never mind the rest, Ritter. Paxton!”

“I guess I can do it,” answered Nick Paxton, and shuffled to the
blackboard. He soon had a mass of figures written down, but they seemed
to lead to nowhere, and Josiah Crabtree was more put out than ever.

“That is all wrong, Paxton!” he said. “You are a blockhead! Take your
seat!” And Paxton did so, with his head hanging down.

In the meantime the other classes had been dismissed, and those kept in
could hear the other cadets walk through the halls and enter the mess
room. Then followed a clatter of knives and forks and dishes. These
sounds made many cadets besides Stuffer feel an emptiness in the
vicinity of their belts.

“As no one appears to know the algebra lesson, we will take time for
studying,” said Josiah Crabtree. “I will examine you again at one
o’clock. The room will be quiet.”

Quarter of an hour dragged by slowly. The boys wanted to talk the
situation over, but Josiah Crabtree would permit no whispering.
Presently the teacher arose and walked to the door.

“I will be back shortly,” he said, in a cold voice. “I want absolute
order maintained during my absence.” Then he went out, shutting the door
after him. A strange clicking followed.

“He has locked us in!” exclaimed a youth who sat near the door, in a
hoarse whisper. “Now what do you think of that?”



                              CHAPTER XIV
                       IN WHICH THE STORM GATHERS


“I guess he has gone off to get his own dinner, and he is going to leave
us starve!” groaned Stuffer. “I’m not going to stand it—no, sir!” And he
jumped up from his desk and began to walk around nervously.

“This is certainly a new move,” said Jack.

“I don’t believe Captain Putnam or Mr. Strong would do such a thing,”
vouchsafed Bart Conners.

“No, both of them are too considerate,” answered Dale.

“This is the combined work of old Crabtree and Cuddle,” came from Andy.
“Cuddle loves to cut a fellow short on grub.”

Jack walked to the door and tried the knob.

“Locked, true enough,” he said.

“But the windows aren’t,” added Pepper. “I could get out of a window
almost as quick as out of a door,” he went on suggestively.

“Let’s all climb out and make a break for the mess hall,” cried Fred
Century. “He has no right to cut us out of our dinner. It’s paid for.”

“So it is!” answered several.

“I’ll climb out if anybody else will,” said Reff Ritter.

“So will I!” said Dale and Coulter in a breath.

“Look here, fellows, if we make a move we ought to have a regularly
appointed leader,” said Dave Kearney. “I move we make Major Ruddy our
leader. He’s the commander of the battalion anyway.”

“Second the motion!” came in a dozen voices.

“What’s the matter with my leading?” demanded Reff Ritter. “I made the
suggestion to climb out of the window, didn’t I?”

“That’s it—make Reff leader,” put in Paxton, quickly.

“He’s just the fellow for the place,” added Coulter, while Sabine
nodded.

“No, no, give us Ruddy!” called out a great number of cadets.

“Ruddy! Ruddy!”

“No, give Ritter a show!”

“Might as well put it to a vote,” suggested Dale, when cries were heard
from all sides. “All in favor of Jack Ruddy for leader raise their right
hand.”

Instantly fifteen hands went up.

“Now those in favor of Reff Ritter.”

Eight hands went up. The other cadets present refused to vote at all.

“Major Ruddy has it,” announced Dale. “Is everybody satisfied?”

“Yes!” was the loud cry.

“I suppose we’ll have to be,” grumbled Coulter. “But Ritter would have
made a better leader. He offered to go through the window, and——”

“Never mind chewing it over now,” broke in Pepper. “From now on, let
Jack do the talking.”

“Boys, are all in favor of leaving this room and going to the mess
hall?” asked the young major, mounting to the top of a desk and gazing
around him.

“Yes! yes!” was the answer.

“Then let us get out of the windows, form a company on the campus, and
march into the mess hall in regular soldier style. When we get there,
let every fellow take his usual place—and refuse to budge until dinner
is served.”

“Hurrah! That’s the talk!” cried Stuffer. “And a full-sized dinner too,
with dessert!” he added hastily.

For cadets used to gymnasium practice, it was an easy matter to climb
out of the classroom windows to the campus. Once on the green, Jack lost
no time in forming the boys into a single company.

“Attention!” he called out. “By column of two, forward march!” And he
led the way, the cadets following in pairs, and marching as stiffly as
if on dress parade.

It may be that somebody was on the watch, yet the boys were not
disturbed, and soon they filed into the mess hall, where the other
cadets were just finishing their midday meal. At one table sat Pluxton
Cuddle and at another Josiah Crabtree. Both leaped to their feet in
amazement.

“How dare you!” gasped Josiah Crabtree. “How dare you!” For the moment
he could think of nothing else to say.

“As it was past the dinner hour the class made up its mind to come in
and get something to eat,” said Jack, stiffly, and looking the teacher
full in the face.

“You—you—rascal!” exploded the teacher. “I’ll have you to underst——”

“Excuse me, Mr. Crabtree, I am not a rascal,” interrupted Jack. “I am
the major of the Putnam Hall battalion and the spokesman of our class—so
chosen by a vote of the cadets. We decided that we wanted dinner—and we
are here to get it.”

“This is mutiny—rebellion!” gasped Pluxton Cuddle.

“You can call it what you please, Mr. Cuddle. We are entitled to our
dinner and we mean to have it.”

“Good for you, Major Ruddy!” came from a pupil from another classroom.

“Crabtree and Cuddle have no right to do you out of your dinners,” added
another.

“Make them give you what you pay for,” added a third.

The cries increased until it looked as if the demonstration in the mess
hall would be greater than that which had occurred in the classroom.
Pluxton Cuddle called for order, but even as he spoke a hot potato went
sailing through the air and hit him in the shirt front. Then a shower of
bread went up into the air, falling all around both Cuddle and Crabtree.

“Boys! boys!” gasped Josiah Crabtree, and now he turned pale, wondering
what would happen next.

“Better give ’em something to eat, sah!” suggested the head waiter, a
colored man. “Some of them hungry chaps look wicked, sah!”

“They have all been fed too much, that is the reason,” said Pluxton
Cuddle. “I don’t mean to-day, I mean in general. However, perhaps it
will be as well, just now, to let them have a—er—a light repast,” he
went on stammeringly, for another hot potato had hit him on the
shoulder.

“Boys!” called out Jack. “Stop throwing things. Mr. Crabtree wants to
say something.” For he saw that the teacher wanted to speak to the
assemblage.

“I—er—I wish to state,” began Josiah Crabtree, when the cadets settled
down at Jack’s command, “that I—er—I did not intend to make you do
without your dinner. I was—er—going to—er—let you come to the mess
hall—er—after the other pupils had finished. But as it is——” he gazed
around somewhat helplessly, “I—er—I think you can stay. The waiters will
bring in the dinner.” And he sat down and mopped his perspiring forehead
with his handkerchief.

“Gosh! I’ll bet it was hard for him to come down!” whispered Dale to
Pepper.

“He’s getting afraid of the crowd,” returned The Imp. “He was afraid
we’d pass him the stuff on the table without waiting for plates!” And
Pepper grinned suggestively.

The cadets had to wait a long time before they were served. Meanwhile
Pluxton Cuddle consulted with the head waiter and paid a visit to the
kitchen. As a result, when the dinner came in, the cadets found the food
both scanty and exceedingly plain.

“Say, how is a chap to get along on this,” growled Stuffer. “I could eat
twice as much!”

“Make the best of it this time,” said Jack. “We can hold a meeting after
school and decide upon what to do in the future—if things don’t mend.”

The worst of it—to Stuffer’s mind—was that there was nothing but a
little rice pudding for dessert. All of the cadets who had rebelled went
from the mess room hungry—and out on the campus they discovered that the
other cadets had fared little better.

“It’s Cuddle’s doings,” said one of the other students. “He’s a crank on
the question of eating—thinks a man ought to eat next to nothing to be
healthy and clear-minded.”

“Crabtree was willing enough to fall in with his views,” returned
Pepper.

“That’s because he wanted to square up with you. Personally, Crabtree
likes to eat as hearty a meal as anybody.”

“I know that.”

“I don’t know what we are coming to, if Captain Putnam or Mr. Strong
don’t come back soon,” said another cadet. “We had a row in our
classroom too.”

“Neither Crabtree nor Cuddle are fit to manage a school,” said Dale.
“They may be good enough teachers, but they need somebody in authority
over them.” And this statement hit the nail squarely on the head.

Reff Ritter was still disturbed, thinking that Crabtree might find out
that he was guilty of throwing the inkwell, and he went around,
“sounding” various cadets and getting them to promise not to mention the
matter. He was chagrined to think that he had not been chosen leader in
the rebellion, and was half inclined to draw away from Jack’s friends
and form a party of his own.

“Ruddy wants to lead in everything,” he growled to Coulter. “It makes me
sick!”

“Well, you can’t afford to go back on him now,” was the answer. “If you
do he may take it in his head to let old Crabtree know about the
inkwell, and then——”

“Oh, he can lead if he wants the job so bad,” interrupted the bully
hastily.

At the proper time the bell rang for the afternoon session and all of
the cadets marched to their various classrooms as if nothing out of the
ordinary had occurred. Lessons were taken up where they had been
dropped, but the boys found it hard to concentrate their minds on what
they were studying or reciting. All felt that a storm—and a big one at
that—was brewing.

Josiah Crabtree did not come into the classroom occupied by Jack and his
chums, and Reff Ritter and his crowd. Instead he sent an under teacher,
a meek man who did just what he was told, no more and no less. With this
teacher the boys got along very well.

“Wish we could have him right along,” observed Stuffer.

“If you did have him you wouldn’t make much progress,” answered Jack.
“He’s good enough for the lower classes, but that’s all. He doesn’t know
half as much as Mr. Strong.”

When the cadets were dismissed for the day they hurried out on the
campus, and here Jack asked all who were interested in what had occurred
to attend a meeting at the boathouse. About three-quarters of the cadets
responded, those holding back being the smaller lads and a few timid
ones like Mumps.

At this meeting it came out that every class in the school had “caught
it,” either from Josiah Crabtree or Pluxton Cuddle. Sharp words and
almost blows had been exchanged in the classrooms, and every cadet had
some fault to find with the food served for dinner.

“Cuddle not only wants to cut down the amount, but he wants the meats
and other things cooked in a peculiar way,” said one cadet. “I have
always been used to a good table and I am not going to stand for it.”

“Nor will I!” cried Stuffer. “Our parents pay for good board—and that
means three square meals a day.”

“I understand Captain Putnam and Mr. Strong expect to be away for at
least ten days,” said Henry Lee. “I am not going to starve myself for
that length of time, even to please Crabtree and Cuddle.”

“Just what I say!” exclaimed Pepper.

“We are certainly entitled to as good a table as we have been having,”
was Jack’s comment.

“Then, if we don’t get it, let’s strike!” cried Andy.



                               CHAPTER XV
                            WORDS AND BLOWS


The meeting at the boathouse lasted for nearly an hour, yet no definite
conclusion was reached. Some of the boys wanted to wait and see what
developed, while others were for taking the most drastic action
immediately. At last it was voted to wait, and to leave the matter of
what was to be done in the hands of a committee of five, of which Jack
was the chairman. The other four members of this committee were Pepper,
Dale, Bart Conners and a cadet named Barringer, a youth who had the
distinction of being the first cadet enrolled at the Hall, and whose
folks were warm personal friends of Captain Putnam.

“I am sure if we act with care and fairness Captain Putnam will uphold
us,” said Frank Barringer. “But there must be no rowdyism. If there is I
shall withdraw from the committee and from whatever is done.”

“I shall not favor rowdyism,” answered the young major. “But neither
shall I allow Crabtree or Cuddle to walk over us.”

“Oh, I agree on that, Major Ruddy. Both of those teachers have been far
too dictatorial. But it was a mistake to throw potatoes and bread around
the dining room, and it was vile to throw an inkwell at Crabtree,” added
Frank Barringer.

During the afternoon Josiah Crabtree drove to Cedarville in Captain
Putnam’s coach. When he returned he had with him three men, burly
individuals who looked like dock hands—and such they were.

“What are those men going to do here?” asked Andy of his chums.

“I can’t imagine,” answered Pepper. “If they were going to do some work
they wouldn’t come at this time of day.”

“Let us see if Peleg Snuggers knows anything about it,” suggested Dale,
and he and the others walked down to the barn, where they found the
general utility man putting up the team the teacher had used.

“Come to help me, young gents?” asked Snuggers, with a grin.

“Peleg, we want to know what those three men came for?” said Dale.

“Oh!” The general utility man shrugged his shoulders. “Better go an’ ask
Mr. Crabtree—he brung ’em.”

“You mustn’t say ‘brung,’ Peleg,” said Pepper. “It’s bad geography. You
ought to say bringed or brang.”

“Well, you see, I ain’t never had much schoolin’,” was the reply, as the
man scratched his head. “Say,” he went on, with a grin, “you had high
jinks this mornin’, didn’t you? I wanted to laff right out, but I didn’t
dast.”

“Are those men going to work here, Peleg?” demanded Jack, sternly.

“Why don’t you ask Mr. Crabtree? He brung—no, bringed, no brang ’em.”

“Are they here to keep the peace?” asked Andy, suddenly.

“Mr. Crabtree said as how I wasn’t to say nuthin’ about it,” stammered
the general utility man.

“Then he brought them here for that purpose?” demanded Jack.

“Yes—but don’t let on as how I told ye!” whispered Peleg Snuggers. “He
an’ Cuddle got scart, I reckon, and Crabtree said he was goin’ to git
some special policemen to keep the peace.”

“Well, if that isn’t the limit!” cried Pepper.

“The next thing you know he’ll be marching the whole school down to the
Cedarville lock-up,” came from Dale. “That is—if he can!” he added
significantly.

“Now please don’t let on I said a word about it!” pleaded Peleg
Snuggers. “If ye do it may cost me my place.”

“We won’t utter a syllable,” answered Jack. “Remember that, fellows,” he
added, and the others nodded.

“Crabtree is awful mad,” went on the man of all work. “He an’ that new
teacher have got it in for all of ye! Better watch out!”

“We will,” said Pepper; and then he and his chums walked away.

It was now time for the afternoon dress parade, and the cadets had to
hurry to get ready. Soon the drum sounded out and the cadets gathered on
the campus. Jack got his sword and took command, and put the boys
through a drill that would have done any army officer good to behold.
Only a few boys, like Ritter, Coulter and Paxton took advantage of the
fact that Captain Putnam was absent, and to these the young major and
the other officers paid scant attention. Ritter hoped he would be
“called down,” so that he might have a chance to answer back, and it
made him sour when this opportunity was denied to him.

It was whispered around what the three Cedarville men had been brought
for, and loud were the denunciations of Josiah Crabtree in consequence.

“He wants to give Putnam Hall a black eye,” said Stuffer. “If he was a
gentleman he would let us settle this matter among ourselves.”

“If those men try to do anything I fancy there will be a pitched
battle,” said another.

As was the custom, Jack marched the battalion around the grounds and
then into the mess hall, and here all sat down to the tables for supper.
They saw the three strange men sitting at a side table, in company with
the gymnastic instructor, and near at hand were half a dozen heavy
carriage whips.

“Jack, did you notice the men and the whips?” questioned Pepper, in a
low, excited voice.

“I did—and I think Crabtree and Cuddle are crazy,” was the equally low
response.

“Young gentlemen!” called out Josiah Crabtree, from his place at the
head of a table. “This noon we had a most outrageous scene enacted here.
Such a scene must not be repeated. We must have order—no matter what the
cost.” And he allowed his eyes to wander toward the three strange men
and the gymnastic instructor and then to the whips.

No more was said, and the waiters began to bring in the food. There was
bread and butter, some very thin slices of cold roast beef, tea, and
some exceedingly small pieces of plain cake.

“What a supper!” murmured Pepper. “Does he take us for fairies?”

“I could eat three times as much as this,” said Andy. “Poor Stuffer,
this will just about finish him!”

“It’s an outrage!” cried Dale, but in a low tone.

“Mr. Crabtree!” The call came from Stuffer, who had arisen.

“What do you want, Singleton?” snapped the teacher.

“I want more to eat.”

“You have all you are going to have. Sit down, or else leave the room.”

“I am hungry, and——”

“You boys all eat too much,” interposed Pluxton Cuddle. “Hereafter you
are to have what is proper for you and no more.”

“I tell you I am hungry,” insisted Stuffer.

“Sit down, or leave!” cried Josiah Crabtree.

“I want some more too,” put in Andy.

“So do I!” added Henry Lee.

“We are entitled to more,” came from Dave Kearney.

“Our folks pay for it,” said Reff Ritter.

“Will you be quiet,” stormed Josiah Crabtree. “Mr. Cuddle and I know
what is best for you.”

“Mr. Crabtree!” called out Jack, getting up. “In the name of this school
I demand that you listen to me.”

He spoke in a full, ringing voice that penetrated every corner of the
dining hall. Instantly every eye was fastened on the youthful major.

“Ruddy!” gasped the teacher. “How dare you talk to me in this fashion!
Sit down! Sit down instantly!”

“Not until I have had my say. Mr. Crabtree, the cadets of this school
had a meeting this afternoon, and we resolved to——”

“Ruddy, sit down and be quiet, or I’ll have you put out!” burst out
Josiah Crabtree, purple in the face.

“We resolved that we would not stand this treatment any longer. A
committee was formed, of which I have the honor to be chairman. This
committee is willing to have a conference with you and Mr. Cuddle,
and——”

Jack got no further, for, wild with rage, Josiah Crabtree had motioned
to two of the strange men and these fellows now came forward, each with
a whip in his hand.

“Don’t strike Ruddy!” called out Pepper. “If you do, you’ll rue it!” And
he caught up a plate from the table.

“Put those whips down!” came from a dozen boys, and on the instant the
mess hall was in an uproar. Nearly every cadet armed himself with a
plate, cup or saucer.

The strange men who had come close to Jack halted, and then slunk back.
They saw that the cadets “meant business” and as a consequence they were
afraid to act.

“Boys, keep quiet!” called out Jack, in the midst of the din, and when
the tumult had somewhat subsided, he went on: “Mr. Crabtree, do not go
too far, or the consequences will be on your own head. We are willing to
do what is fair and just. But you must treat us fair and just, too, and
we want the same kind of food, and the same quantity, that we had when
Captain Putnam was here.”

“I would like to ask one question,” put in Frank Barringer. “Did Captain
Putnam authorize anybody to cut down our food?”

“He authorized Mr. Crabtree and myself to manage the school,” snapped
Pluxton Cuddle.

“That isn’t answering the question,” said Jack. “Did the captain say
anything at all about the food?”

“I am not on the witness stand,” snarled Cuddle.

“We intend to manage this institution as we deem best,” said Josiah
Crabtree. “I command every student present to put down the dish he is
holding.”

“Then make those men retire and put down the whips,” cried Andy.

“Yes! yes!” was the cry. “Take the men and the whips away!”

Again the tumult arose, and in the midst of the uproar a plate whizzed
through the air and struck Pluxton Cuddle on the shoulder, causing him
to utter a cry of pain and alarm. Then a saucer landed on Josiah
Crabtree’s bosom.

When the first plate was thrown the men with the whips sprang forward,
and in a twinkling half a dozen cadets felt the keen lashes. But then
came more dishes, and one man was hit on the nose and another on the
hand.

“Hi! we can’t stand this!” called one of the men. “We’ll be killed! Come
on!” And dodging a sugar bowl, he ran out of a side door, and the other
men, including the gymnasium instructor, followed him. Then, shaking his
fist at the students, Josiah Crabtree backed out also, and Pluxton
Cuddle followed.

“Hurrah! We have vanquished the enemy!” cried Andy.

“Boys, stop that plate throwing!” called out Jack. And then gradually
the excitement died down. Only the cadets and the waiters were left in
the mess room. The waiters were so scared and perplexed they did not
know what to do.

“Let us have some more eating,” exclaimed Stuffer. “We may not get
another chance like this in a hurry.” And he gave a waiter an order to
fill. Then came more orders, and the waiters went off, grinning from ear
to ear, for at heart they sided with the students.

While waiting for more food the cadets talked the situation over from
every possible point of view. Many condemned the plate throwing, which
had been started by Ritter and Coulter. Yet all were glad that the men
with horsewhips had been routed. What to do next was a question nobody
was able to answer.

“I know one thing we ought to do,” said Jack. “Telegraph to Captain
Putnam to come back at once.”

“That’s it!” cried Dale. “Do it before old Crabtree sends a message.
That will show the captain we are not afraid to leave the case to him.”

“We’ll have to get his address first,” said Henry Lee.

“I have it,” answered Frank Barringer, “and I’ll send him a telegram
to-night. But I don’t think he’ll be able to get back here inside of
several days.”



                              CHAPTER XVI
                      PRISONERS IN THE DORMITORIES


“Well, one thing is certain,” observed Pepper, as he and half a dozen
others left the mess hall. “We are getting into this thing deeper and
deeper. I wonder how it is going to end?”

“I doubt if it ends before Captain Putnam gets back,” answered Jack.
“Crabtree is just headstrong enough to attempt something even worse than
getting men with whips. Maybe he’ll have all of us locked up.”

“Will you stand for being arrested, Jack?” asked Andy.

“No.”

“Old Crabtree is a fool!” burst out Henry Lee. “I’d give half my
spending money to ship him to—to Africa or the North Pole.”

“Say, I’ve got an idea!” burst out Stuffer. “Why not send him a bogus
telegram, saying his grandfather or second cousin is dying of
brainstorm, or something like that, and ask him to come right on? That
might take him away until the captain got back.”

“We might try that,” mused Jack. “But let us see first what happens
to-morrow. Maybe by morning Crabtree and Cuddle will cool off—and
perhaps the fellows will cool off too.”

What had become of the teachers and the strange men none of the cadets
knew, and the absence of all made the boys worry somewhat, although they
tried not to show it. They wondered if the teachers had really gone off
to summon more help, or make a formal complaint to the authorities.
There was very little playing or studying done that evening.

“Might as well go to bed,” said Pepper, when the usual time for retiring
was at hand. “I must say, I am dead tired. Such strenuous times are too
much for me.”

One by one the cadets went to their various dormitories. A few were
inclined to “cut up,” but Jack soon stopped this in every room but that
occupied by Reff Ritter and his cronies.

“I want you to be on your good behavior,” said the young major.
“Remember, when Captain Putnam gets back I am going to give him a full
and true report of what happened.”

“Don’t you dare to say anything to him about inkwells and plates,”
growled Ritter. “If you do you’ll get into trouble.”

“I expect every student to confess to just what was done,” answered
Jack.

By ten o’clock the majority of the cadets went to bed, and an hour later
the Hall was wrapped in stillness. Then, from the barn, there came a
number of strange men, Josiah Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle.

“Now make no noise,” cautioned Crabtree. “If you do some of them may
wake up and make trouble.”

“We understand,” answered one of the strange men, who appeared to be
something of a leader. Then the whole party entered the school building
by a back door, and went about carrying out a plan they had arranged.

“Hello!” cried Pepper, as he woke up in the morning and looked at his
watch. “Half-past seven! I didn’t hear any bell.”

“Neither did I,” came from Andy, who sat up at the same time. “I fancy
it didn’t ring.”

“Everything is going wrong in this school,” put in the young major, as
he slipped out of bed and commenced to dress.

“Maybe old Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle, Esquire, have given it up,”
suggested Pepper, as he rubbed his eyes and yawned.

Jack was the first to be dressed and Andy quickly followed.

“Let us take a look around and see how the land lays,” suggested the
young major.

“I’m with you,” responded the acrobatic youth promptly.

“Beware of traps!” sang out Pepper. “Crabtree may be waiting for you
with a club.”

“Or a shotgun,” added Dale, with a grin.

Jack walked to the door and turned the knob. To his surprise the door
refused to open. He tried to shake it, but it remained firm.

“What’s the matter?” cried Pepper.

“The door is locked.”

“Locked?”

“Yes.” Jack stooped down and looked into the keyhole. “The key is on the
outside,” he added.

“Perhaps somebody is playing a trick on us,” suggested Dale.

“Yes—Crabtree and Cuddle,” murmured the young major.

“Let’s try the door to the next room,” suggested Andy.

Several of the dormitories were connected by side doors, and hurried
into the next room, Andy tried the door leading to the hall.

“This is locked too!” he said.

“We’re locked in, that is all there is to it!” cried one of the cadets.
“The enemy has locked us in while we slept!”

“This must be a new idea for bringing us to terms,” said Stuffer.
“Wonder how long Crabtree and Cuddle expect to keep us here?”

“Long enough to make you go without your breakfast, Stuffer,” said
Pepper, with a grin. “Not much! I’ll break down the door first!”

“No, you won’t break down no door!” cried a harsh voice from the outer
side of the barrier. “If you try it, you’ll get hurt, remember that!”

“Who are you?” demanded Andy, in astonishment.

“I’m a man hired to watch this door, and I am going to do it. Don’t you
try no funny work, or you’ll get hurt.”

“Are you one of the fellows who was in the mess hall yesterday?” asked
Jack.

“Yes.”

“Then you’ve been hired by Mr. Crabtree and Mr. Cuddle?”

“That’s it.”

“Where are they?”

“That ain’t none of your business,” answered the strange man, roughly.

“It is my business,” returned the young major, warmly. “You send for Mr.
Crabtree at once.”

“I ain’t a-going to do it. I was told to stay here and watch these
doors. Now you jest keep quiet and mind your own business.”

“Supposing we break down the door?” asked Pepper.

“The first boy who tries it, will get a good licking, and he’ll be tied
up in the coal cellar in the bargain.”

“Are you alone?” asked Fred Century.

“Not much I ain’t! There are ten of us here and outside, and we are
actin’ under orders from the teachers. They are going to show you that
you can’t run this school during Captain Putnam’s absence.”

“I wonder if he is telling the truth?” whispered the young major to his
chums. “Ten of them! It doesn’t seem possible!”

“Wait till I take a look out of a window,” said Dale, and ran to the
nearest opening. He poked out his head and looked down on the campus.
“Well, I declare!” he ejaculated.

“What do you see?” asked several in a chorus.

“Three men down there, and they are armed with clubs and guns!”

“Never!” burst out Jack, and ran forward to take a look himself. Soon
every window was crowded with cadets, all gazing down to the ground
below. There were three strange men, including one of those who had been
in the mess hall the evening previous. As Dale had said, each had a club
in one hand and a gun in the other. They walked up and down the side of
the building, every once in a while glancing upward.

“This is the limit!” cried Pepper. “Why, you’d think we were prisoners
in a penitentiary!”

“Yes, and some of those men were the keepers,” added Andy. “Oh, I say,”
he went on, “let us give them something to let them know we are awake.”

“Right you are!” cried Pepper, quick to catch on to a joke. “Everybody
hand them a souvenir!”

In a moment more each cadet present in the two rooms had armed himself.
One had a cake of soap, another an old pair of shoes, another a pitcher
of water, and the rest old books and odds and ends of various kinds.

“Now then, all together!” cried Pepper. “One, two, three!” And down went
the miscellaneous collection on the heads of the guards. Yells of pain
and wonder arose, for each of the men was struck. Before the guards
could recover from the unexpected attack, each cadet withdrew from
sight.

“Hi, you! We’ll get square, see if we don’t!” yelled one of the men.
“Don’t you attempt to git out o’ them windows or you’ll git shot!”

“Do you think they’d attempt to shoot us?” asked one of the boys, in
consternation.

“I don’t know what to think,” answered Jack, and his tone was very
grave. He realized that the situation had become a truly serious one.



                              CHAPTER XVII
                         ANDY SNOW’S DISCOVERY


Leaving the windows, the cadets went back to the doors leading to the
hallway. They again called up the man on guard there and asked for
Josiah Crabtree.

“We must speak to him,” said Jack. “And if you won’t call him we’ll all
rush the doors, break them down, and—well, you know what to expect.”

At first the man wanted to argue again, but presently he became
frightened and blew a whistle he carried. Then the cadets heard
footsteps approaching.

“What do you want?” came in Josiah Crabtree’s sharp voice.

“They want to talk to you,” answered the guard doggedly. “Said they’d
break down the doors if I didn’t call you.”

“They’ll not dare to do it!” cried the teacher.

“Yes, we will dare!” shouted several of the boys who heard the remark.

“Mr. Crabtree, what is the meaning of this?” demanded Jack, in a loud,
clear voice.

“It means that I am going to keep you in your rooms until you learn how
to behave yourselves,” was the cold answer.

“What about breakfast?”

“You can have something to eat when you come downstairs.”

“Then let us come down now,” put in Stuffer.

“Not a cadet shall leave these rooms until he has apologized to Mr.
Cuddle and myself and given his word of honor that he will in the future
do precisely as he is told,” said Josiah Crabtree, in the overbearing,
dictatorial tone he so often employed in the classroom.

“Apologize!” gasped a number of the cadets.

“That is what I said.”

“I’ll not apologize!” murmured Fred.

“Not in a year of Mondays,” added Dale. “I don’t know that I did
anything to apologize for. He and Cuddle started the row.”

“Mr. Crabtree, I demand my breakfast!” cried Stuffer. “I am entitled to
it—my folks have paid for it—and I am not going to let you swindle me
out of it.”

“Swindle you!” gasped the teacher, in a rage. “Such language! To me! me!
Ha! boy, wait till I get my hands on you!”

“Mr. Crabtree, I think you’ll find it best to let us out and give us our
breakfast,” continued the young major. “You certainly can’t intend to
starve us.”

“We do intend to starve you, until you come to your senses,” said
another voice in the hallway. It was Pluxton Cuddle who had come up. “As
I have said many times, you eat too much and it has made you saucy,
impudent and unreasonable. An empty stomach may bring you to your
senses.”

“It may make us desperate,” murmured Stuffer. “I am not going to let
anybody starve me!”

During this talk there had been considerable pounding on the doors of
various other dormitories. Evidently the great majority of the cadets
were held prisoners in their rooms. Now Josiah Crabtree went off to talk
at another door, and was followed by the new teacher.

“Boys, I want you to come to order!” called out Jack, to the cadets of
the two rooms that adjoined each other.

“Going to hand around sandwiches?” questioned Stuffer, dolefully. “If
you are, give me about six!”

“Pull up your belt, Stuffer,” was the answer, with a smile. “If you
don’t get breakfast to-day you may get it to-morrow.”

“I’ll have breakfast to-day—or pull down the Hall!” said the youth who
loved to eat.

“The question is, What are we going to do?” said Jack, in a loud voice.
“Mr. Crabtree wants us to apologize and promise to do exactly as we are
told in the future. What have you to say to his proposition?”

“No apologies!” was the cry.

“No promises to do just whatever he wants,” added Dale. “He is too
unreasonable.”

“That’s it!” said Fred.

“Tell him we are willing to return to our lessons and behave ourselves,”
said Bart Conners. “And add that we are willing to leave the question of
punishment for what has happened to Captain Putnam.”

“That’s the talk!” said several.

“And if he won’t give in, sure, we can break down the dures, bedad!”
came from Emerald. “We can have a regular Donnybrook Fair time, so we
can!”

“If possible we ought to keep from further quarrels,” said Jack. “Let us
arbitrate if it can possibly be done.”

So it was finally decided, and again Josiah Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle
were called to one of the doors of the two rooms. In a calm voice Jack
explained to the teachers and pleaded that the whole matter be allowed
to rest until Captain Putnam’s return. He said he would vouch for it
that the boys would go back to their studies just as if nothing out of
the ordinary had happened. He added, that he thought it was a disgrace
to bring the strange men to the Hall as guards and he asked that they be
dismissed.

It was with difficulty that Josiah Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle could be
made to listen. The two instructors had talked the matter over between
them, and the unreasonableness of the one was bolstered up by the other.
They refused to listen to any argument, and stuck by the proposition
Josiah Crabtree had first laid down.

“And not a mouthful of food shall any cadet have until he does as we
demand,” said Crabtree.

“And if you try to break out you’ll do it at your peril,” added Pluxton
Cuddle. And then the two teachers gave the guards in the hallways some
instructions in whispers, and went below again.

It would be hard to define the feelings of the cadets when they were
left alone once more. Some wanted to break down the doors at once, while
others spoke of climbing out of the windows, using knotted-together
bedsheets for that purpose. Still others advised waiting to see what
might turn up.

“We can all do without our breakfast,” said Jack. “And we can go without
dinner, too, if we have to.”

“Maybe you can, but I can’t,” groaned Stuffer.

“I think old Crabtree wants us to break down the doors and do as much
damage to the building as possible,” said Andy. “Then he’ll be able to
prove to Captain Putnam what a lot of ruffians we are.”

“Maybe you are right,” answered Dale. “I agree with Jack, let us go slow
and see what happens.”

“I wonder how Reff Ritter and his crowd are taking it,” said Henry Lee.

“Coulter won’t want to go without his breakfast,” answered Andy. “He is
the greatest feeder in the school. He eats even more than Stuffer.”

“Reff Ritter can eat his share, too,” said Bart.

“Ritter is responsible for a good deal of this trouble,” went on Dave
Kearney. “He made old Crabtree boiling mad by throwing the inkwell, and
he started the throwing of things in the mess room.”

It was a dreary wait in the dormitories, and the majority of the boys
did not know what to do with themselves. Joe Nelson started to study but
soon gave it up. One lad had some dominoes and several cadets played a
dozen games or more.

While this was going on Jack walked around the two rooms and looked into
the various clothing closets. Presently an idea struck him and he called
Andy to his side. The two entered one of the closets, and the acrobatic
youth got up on a shelf and pulled loose a board of the ceiling. Then he
wormed his way through the opening made.

“What is Andy doing?” asked Pepper, coming up.

“Why, I remembered the board ceiling in this closet,” answered Jack. “I
wondered what was above it. Andy is such a gymnast I sent him up to
investigate.”

It was so dark beyond the hole that little or nothing could be seen.
Andy was gone over quarter of an hour. Then his head appeared and he
called softly.

“Jack!”

“Well, have you discovered anything?” asked the young major, eagerly.

“Have I discovered anything? Well, I just guess yes!” was the reply.
“I’ve made the greatest discovery of the century!”

“What?”

“Here, take these bags first. I would have brought more, only I couldn’t
carry them.”

And then, to the amazement of the cadets who assembled in the clothing
closet and near the doorway, the acrobatic youth passed down four large
paper bags, each filled with something to eat. Then he came down
himself, closing the opening in the ceiling after him.

“Tell us, Jack, where does the hole lead to?” asked Dale.

“That hole leads to one end of the trunk room,” was the answer. “The
door to the trunk room was unlocked, and from there I passed to a back
hallway and down a back stairs to the kitchen and pantry. Fellows, we’ve
got Crabtree and Cuddle beaten a mile! We can get all the grub we
want—and have our liberty too!”



                             CHAPTER XVIII
                        ON A FORAGING EXPEDITION


The announcement that Andy made was received with keen interest by all.
Every cadet crowded around to get some of the food brought in and to
learn the particulars of his foraging and exploring expedition.

“Getting down the back stairs was easy,” said the acrobatic youth. “But
once I was in the lower entryway I had to keep my eyes open, to escape
the cook and the waiters. I found the bags on a hook behind the door and
I got the grub from the pantry when nobody was near. I was careful what
I took, for I didn’t want anybody to discover what had been done. I may
want to go back for dinner, you know,” and Andy grinned broadly.

“Andy, you have saved my life!” cried Stuffer, with his mouth full of
bread and cheese. “I shall remember you in my will.”

“Leave some for me,” was the reply. “I am just as hungry as anybody. All
I had in the pantry was one cold sausage and a cracker.”

“Here, we’ll divide the stuff equally,” said Jack, and this was done.
Fortunately the paper bags held quite some food, so there was more than
enough for all.

“It’s a pity we can’t get some of this stuff to the fellows in the next
dormitory,” said Pepper. “I suppose they are as hungry as we are.”

“I’ve got an idea!” cried Dale. “Put all your contributions for the next
room into this bag,” and he held up the receptacle as he spoke.

“How are you going to get it to them?” questioned Henry Lee.

“I have a brand new, patented and copyrighted way,” went on Dale. “Just
fork over, everybody, for the benefit of the heathens in Hungry Land.”

The bag was soon filled with bread, cheese, crackers and chipped beef,
and then Dale tied it fast to the end of a hockey stick. This done, he
went to one of the windows and looked out cautiously. Not one of the
guards below was looking up. He shoved the bag outside and swung it to
the left as far as possible—directly in front of another window.

“Hello, what’s this?” a voice cried, and then the bag was caught and
taken in. Then the head of a cadet appeared. “Much obliged,” he said to
Dale. “Just what we were wishing for. How did you get it?”

“That’s a secret,” answered Dale. “Maybe, if you keep mum, there will be
more coming later.” “Are you fellows going to give in?” went on the
cadet from the next dormitory.

“Never!”

“Just what we’ve decided. We’ve got a plan.”

“What’s that?”

“If we are kept here until to-night we are going to run away.”

“Perhaps we’ll be with you,” answered Dale, and then, as a guard looked
up, he drew in his head.

“That’s a great idea, Dale,” said Jack. “By means of the windows we can
communicate with every dormitory on this side of the building. Queer we
didn’t think of it before.”

“We were too much upset by the talk with Cuddle and Crabtree,” answered
Stuffer.

“Let us pass along some notes and see how the different rooms feel over
this affair,” continued the young major.

Soon the notes were written, each having on it the number of the
dormitory for which it was intended. Then the communications were pinned
to the hockey stick, and by this means passed from one room window to
the next. Thus five rooms were reached, and soon notes began to come
back.

“We are certainly of one mind,” said Jack, after the various
communications had been read. “Everybody says, ‘No surrender!’ That’s
plain enough.”

“Barringer’s room is giving out apples,” said Bart. “That’s not so bad.
I shouldn’t mind an apple myself.”

“They are all waiting for food, and I suppose it is up to us to supply
them with some,” continued Jack. “I have half a mind to go down myself
and look around.”

“I’ll go with you,” put in Pepper. “I am tired of being boxed in here.”

“Well, be careful, or you’ll give the snap away,” cautioned Andy. “Some
of the steps of the back stairs squeak terribly. I left my shoes in the
trunk room when I went down.”

“We’ll leave them here,” answered The Imp, and took off the footwear
then and there, and Jack did likewise.

It was no easy thing to climb through the ceiling opening into the trunk
room, and once above they had to feel their way through the darkness to
the door. Pepper stubbed his toe on a trunk and drew a sharp breath of
pain.

“Hurt?” whispered Jack.

“No, but I put an awful dent in the trunk,” was the joking reply. “Let
us get a candle when we go down. I hate this darkness.”

With bated breath the two cadets walked out into the deserted hall and
then down the back stairs. Once they heard somebody close at hand slam a
door and their hearts leaped into their throats.

“If anybody sees us, run like mad for the trunk room and fasten the door
somehow,” said Jack. “We don’t want a soul to know what we are up to. If
we can get food we can stand Cuddle and Crabtree off indefinitely.”

At last the boys reached the back entryway, and through a crack of the
door peered into the kitchen. Nobody was present, and the big pantry was
also deserted, and so was the mess hall.

“We’ve got it all to ourselves!” whispered Pepper joyfully. “Jack, this
is a cinch, a picnic! Let us take up all the food we can carry!”

“Here is just what we want,” replied the major, and took from a hook two
big waiters’ aprons. “We can bundle up a lot of stuff in these.”

“And here are two fresh tins of crackers, ten pounds in each tin. We
must take these by all means—and that fresh chunk of cheese!”

“You take what you can carry to the trunk room,” answered Jack. “I’ll
hunt up something a little more appetizing.”

While Pepper was on his errand the young major made a careful survey of
the pantry, and into a wooden box he found there placed a freshly-boiled
ham, some cold roast beef, several loaves of bread, some butter, three
bottles of pickles, some cans of sardines and some bottles of milk.
Then, from a barrel, he filled a wash basin with apples.

“This will do for the present, I’m thinking,” he said, as he surveyed
the stuff. “Now for a candle and some matches,” and he procured them.

He carried the wooden box on his shoulder and Pepper came down and got
the apples, and also two loaf cakes which had been baked the day before,
and some knives, forks and several glasses and tin plates.

“You’d think we were getting ready for the annual encampment,” said The
Imp, while he and Jack were on the way upstairs with the last of the
things.

“Listen!” exclaimed the young major, suddenly. “Somebody is coming!”

“It’s the cook!” gasped Pepper, as he caught sight of a well-known
figure coming along the upper hallway. “Jack, what shall we do?”

“I—I don’t know! We’ll have to run past her, I guess.”

“We can’t do it—the hall is too narrow.”

The cook came closer, and the two cadets turned back and tried to crouch
out of sight in a doorway. The boys’ hearts were, figuratively speaking,
in their throats.

But just as the cook was almost on them she paused and turned back.

“Oh dear, I meant to bring that clean apron down!” the cadets heard her
murmur, and then she passed out of sight.

“What a lucky escape,” gasped Pepper.

“Don’t stop any longer—get up to the trunk room before it is too late,”
urged his chum, and together they sped on as if a ghost was at their
heels. Having arrived there they shut the door and pulled a trunk in
front of it, first, however, lighting the candle, that they might not
break anything.

It took some time to transfer all the food to the dormitory below. The
quantity made all the boys smile, and Stuffer’s eyes fairly glistened.

“This is the best yet,” said the youth who loved to eat. “Say, isn’t it
most dinner time?”

“I wish Bob Grenwood was in this room,” said Jack. “I’d appoint him
quartermaster once more—to divide the rations.”

“Make me quartermaster,” pleaded Stuffer.

“He’ll be sure to look out for No. 1!” said Fred, with a laugh.

“This food is to be divided among all the rooms we can reach,” said
Jack. “And it is to be a fair division, too.”

The division then commenced, and for the best part of an hour the cadets
were busy, passing stuff from one window to another. They had to do this
with care, so that none of the guards on the campus might discover what
was going on.

“And now for dinner!” cried Pepper, as he looked at his watch and saw
that it was twelve o’clock. “Boys, I think we can all be truly thankful
for the good things provided.”

“So we can,” answered Dale.

At that moment there sounded footsteps in the hallway and then came a
knock on the door.



                              CHAPTER XIX
                      WHAT HAPPENED TO JACK RUDDY


“Boys, get the eating out of sight—somebody may want to come in!” cried
Jack, in a low voice. And in a few seconds the food was placed in a
closet and covered with papers and books.

“I want to talk to you!” called the voice of Josiah Crabtree.

“What do you want, Mr. Crabtree?” demanded the young major.

“It is now twelve o’clock,” went on the teacher. “Dinner will be served
in a few minutes. Are you ready to do as I wish?”

“You mean for us to apologize?” asked Pepper.

“Yes, and to promise to do as ordered in the future.”

“We won’t apologize,” answered several, in unison.

“Don’t you want your dinner?” demanded the teacher, in a somewhat
crestfallen tone of voice.

“This is not a question of dinner—it is a question of principle, Mr.
Crabtree,” answered Jack.

“Exactly—but you must be hungry.”

“We are,” and this was true, for nobody had as yet started to eat.

“There is no use of your being stubborn,” continued Josiah Crabtree.

“We are not stubborn.”

“Yes, you are!”

“You are the one who is stubborn,” put in Dale. “You and Mr. Cuddle
think you are right—but we are about thirty or thirty-five to two.”

“Bah! you are only boys and do not realize what you are doing.”

“We are going to leave this matter to Captain Putnam.”

“Then you don’t want any dinner, eh?” Josiah Crabtree felt certain that
the cadets must be very hungry.

“Not on your terms,” answered Jack.

“Do you all say that?” called out the teacher.

“Yes!” came in a chorus.

“Very well, you can go hungry a while longer!” cried Crabtree in a rage,
and stalked off to interview the boys in some of the other rooms. One
and all refused to “surrender,” as they expressed it. Then Josiah
Crabtree went below to the office, where he met Pluxton Cuddle.

“They are as yet not hungry enough,” said Cuddle, after listening to the
other teacher’s story. “Wait until the middle of the afternoon, or
supper time. I’ll warrant they will then be glad enough to do anything
we wish.”

“Let us hope so,” answered Josiah Crabtree, and then he and Cuddle
talked the matter over from beginning to end, and fixed up the story
they should tell Captain Putnam when he returned. According to their
idea the cadets were to blame for everything and had assaulted them most
outrageously. Crabtree had already interviewed one of the men hired by
him at Cedarville and this fellow was ready to corroborate any tale the
instructors might put forth.

The teachers had just about finished their talk when they heard a
hurried knock on the door of the office and one of the waiters appeared.

“The cook and the head waiter would like you to come to the kitchen at
once, please!” cried the colored man.

“What for?” demanded Josiah Crabtree.

“A lot of the eating has been stolen, sah!”

“Stolen!” screamed Pluxton Cuddle.

“Yes, sah. They jess found it out, sah, and they sent me to tell you,
sah.”

“This is—er—extraordinary!”

“It’s those confounded boys!” roared Josiah Crabtree. “They must have
gotten to the kitchen somehow and taken the things.”

“But the guards—you forget the guards,” returned Pluxton Cuddle.

“Perhaps one of them was bribed—and perhaps a waiter was bribed too,”
said Crabtree with something like a groan. “Oh, I know no longer whom to
trust here!”

Both of the teachers followed the waiter to the kitchen. Here they found
the cook and several others talking excitedly. Nobody could tell exactly
what had been taken, but the cook was certain it was considerable.

“They have outwitted us!” moaned Pluxton Cuddle. “Now they will stuff
themselves and be more ugly than ever!”

“I am going to find out if they are in league with anybody outside,”
said Josiah Crabtree, and started without delay to interview all the
hired help around the Hall and also the men from Cedarville. Each and
every person, of course, declared he or she knew absolutely nothing of
the missing food and had had no communication whatever with the cadets.

“We are following your ordars, sah,” declared the head waiter. “Right or
wrong, we are following ’em.”

“Don’t you think I am in the right?” demanded Josiah Crabtree, sourly.

At this the colored man shrugged his shoulders.

“That is fo’ Cap’n Putnam to say, sah.”

“Ha! then you side with the boys, eh?”

“I ain’t sidin’ at all, sah. I obeys orders, that’s all, sah.”

“Humph!” growled the teacher and walked off, followed by Pluxton Cuddle.
Then the teachers held another conference.

In the meantime the imprisoned cadets ate what they had for dinner with
keen satisfaction, and then put away the rest of the food for future
use.

They had hardly finished when they heard footsteps in the hallway and
heard somebody talk to the guard.

“There is Peleg Snuggers,” said Pepper. “Wonder what he wants?”

“I say, in there!” called out the man of all work, pounding on the door
with his fist.

“Hello, Peleg! What’s this, a bombardment?” asked Jack, pleasantly.

“No, it ain’t no bombardment,” answered the man. “I want to talk to
Major Ruddy.”

“You’re talking to him now, Peleg, my son.”

“You are to come down to the office to onct,” went on the general
utility man.

“Who wants me?” asked the young major, in considerable astonishment.

“Mr. Crabtree. He wants to talk to you.”

“Does he want anybody else?” asked Pepper.

“No, only Ruddy.”

“Jack, look out,” whispered Dale. “This may be some trick.”

“I don’t think I’d go,” came from Bart. “There is no telling what those
teachers may be up to.”

“I am not afraid of them,” answered the young major bravely. “Perhaps
they want to compromise.”

“Are ye comin’ or not?” demanded Peleg Snuggers, impatiently.

“I can’t come unless the door is unlocked.”

“I’ll unlock it. But, remember, nobody but Ruddy is to come out,” went
on the man of all work.

With great caution the door was unfastened by Peleg Snuggers and the
guard, and Jack was allowed to pass into the hallway. Then the door was
fastened as before.

“I say, Jack!” called out Pepper. “If everything is O. K. we’ll look for
you back inside of an hour.”

“Very well,” answered the young major.

He was accompanied downstairs by Peleg Snuggers. Several times the
general utility man seemed to be on the point of speaking, but he did
not say a word until the door of the office was gained.

“Take care o’ yourself!” he whispered hoarsely. “Sorry I can’t do
nuthin’ for ye!” And then he opened the door and allowed Jack to enter.

The young major found Josiah Crabtree seated at Captain Putnam’s desk.
The teacher had a slip of paper in his hand.

“Major Ruddy, I wish you would read that,” he said, shortly.

Wondering what the paper would contain, Jack took it and started to
read. As he did so he was attacked from behind and a rope was quickly
passed from one wrist to another. In the meantime a folded towel was
held over his mouth, so that he might not cry out. Although he struggled
he was no match for Pluxton Cuddle and the guards, and in a very few
minutes he was a helpless prisoner. A loose gag was placed in his mouth,
so that to call out was impossible.

“I am very sorry to have to treat you in this fashion,” said Josiah
Crabtree, with a wicked gleam of triumph in his eyes. “But your conduct,
and the conduct of your associates, has rendered it necessary. I trust
by to-morrow you will be in a proper frame of mind to come to terms. Mr.
Cuddle, you may have him taken away.”

Then Jack was led from the office to the rear of the Hall, where there
was a sort of guardroom. This was an apartment not over ten feet square
and having a single window, high up from the floor. Outside, a tall iron
fence ran around the window in the form of a semi-circle. In the
guardroom were two chairs and a washstand. The place was damp and
gloomy.

“You’ll stay here for the present,” said Pluxton Cuddle, as he thrust
Jack inside. Then the gag was removed, and his hands were unfastened.

“I shall report this outrage to Captain Putnam,” answered the young
major. And then the door was closed and locked on him, and he was left
alone.



                               CHAPTER XX
                     THE ESCAPE FROM THE GUARDROOM


The young major was in no agreeable frame of mind when he found himself
locked in the guardroom. He had been attacked in an underhanded fashion
and rather roughly treated, and one button had been torn from his
uniform. He sat down on a chair and shut his teeth tightly.

“This is the limit,” he mused. “When I get out I rather think I’ll make
it warm for both Crabtree and Cuddle! They have no right whatever to
treat me in this fashion.”

A quarter of an hour passed—to the young major it appeared a much longer
time—when he heard footsteps approaching and the door was unlocked. He
sprang up, hoping for freedom. But he was mistaken, instead another
cadet was thrown into the room, protesting loudly. Then the door was
secured as before.

“Ritter!” exclaimed Jack, in astonishment.

“Oh, so you are here, eh?” cried the school bully. “I thought I was to
be alone. This is a fine way to treat a student.”

“If you mean that for sarcasm I agree with you,” answered the young
major.

“Say, was it you gave me away to old Crabtree?” demanded Reff Ritter
suddenly.

“I don’t know what you mean, Reff.”

“He sent Peleg Snuggers up to the door of our dormitory, stating he
wanted to have a talk with me. As soon as I got to the office Cuddle and
some of those outside guards pounced on me like a lot of wolves. I gave
Cuddle a good one in the nose and he hit me over the head with a
cane—and then I was thrown in here. Somebody must have told them about
the inkwell and the hot potatoes and plates. I believe it was you!” And
Ritter gave Jack an ugly look.

“I didn’t say a word, Reff—I give my word of honor.”

“I don’t believe you, Jack Ruddy. If you didn’t, why am I here?”

“For that matter, why am I here?”

“I don’t know, excepting as a witness against me.”

“You are mistaken, Reff. Whether you believe it or not, I did not tell
Crabtree a word about you—in fact, your name wasn’t mentioned to me. I
was asked to come down to the office and I went—and then I was attacked
from behind, made a prisoner, and brought here.”

“Humph!” muttered the bully, and that was all he said for the time
being.

Several more minutes passed and then from a distance they heard a sudden
cry for help. Both leaped up from their chairs.

“That was Bob Grenwood’s voice!” exclaimed Jack. “It came from the
direction of the office. Maybe they are serving him as they served us.”

“Maybe,” returned Reff Ritter, and his face lost some of its gloomy
look. It was a case of “misery loves company,” with him. The young
major’s words proved true, and in a few minutes the former quartermaster
of the Hall battalion was thrown violently into the guardroom. His
collar was partly torn, and blood was flowing from a scratch on his
cheek.

“They must have had quite a time with you, Bob,” said Jack, after
greeting the new arrival.

“They sure did!” was the reply. “We had a pitched battle in the office,
and Crabtree hit me in the mouth and I landed on his left eye. I guess
he’ll carry the eye in mourning for a while.”

“It looks as if they were going to make all of us prisoners one by one,”
said Reff Ritter.

“That’s about the size of it.”

“This guardroom won’t hold over a dozen,” said Jack. “What will they do
with the rest? I’ve got an idea!” he added suddenly.

“What’s that?”

“Old Crabtree is sending for the leader of every dormitory. More than
likely he thinks if he can get the leaders under lock and key the other
cadets will knuckle under to him.”

“Maybe they’ll do it,” growled Reff Ritter. “When I came away Mumps and
Billy Sabine wanted to give in. Mumps, the sneak, was scared half to
death.”

“If they take the leader from each dormitory you’ll soon see Frank
Barringer and Mart Ballock coming along,” said Bob Grenwood.

The three youths talked the situation over until another noise was heard
in the hallway. Then Frank Barringer was shoved into the guardroom. He
was a dignified, gentlemanly youth and showed little resistance.

“Mr. Cuddle, I protest against such rough treatment,” he said. “I shall
hold you responsible for what you have done. If Captain Putnam will not
take up the matter, I shall get my father to do so. I thought this was a
young gentlemen’s school, not a penitentiary.”

“Don’t talk to me, sir, don’t talk to me!” spluttered Pluxton Cuddle. “I
know what I am doing!” And then the door was banged into Frank’s face.

“Number Four!” cried Jack. “We are gradually filling the ranks. Before
long we’ll have enough recruits for an awkward squad!” And he smiled
faintly.

“Mart Ballock next,” said Bob Grenwood, and he was right, the cadet
mentioned was thrown into the guardroom a few minutes later. Then came
two more cadets, the head lads in two other dormitories.

“Boys, I’ve got a scheme,” said Jack. “There are now seven of us here.
Why not try to break away when they come with the next cadet? I’d rather
be out of the school than in such a gloomy hole as this.”

“I am with you!” answered Bob Grenwood.

“It may mean some fighting,” mused Frank Barringer.

“What of it?” blustered Reff Ritter. “I’ll fight if the rest will. Let
us give it to ’em good when they come!”

“But if we get away, where are we to go to?” questioned Mart Ballock. “I
haven’t a cent of money with me.”

“We can camp out, if we can’t do anything else,” said Jack. “We could
get a tent or two, some provisions, and go up the lake shore——”

“Hurrah! that’s the idea!” exclaimed another cadet. “We could remain out
till Captain Putnam came back.”

“What of the other fellows?” asked Reff Ritter.

“They can join us if they want to,” answered the young major.

“That will be a regular rebellion,” said Frank Barringer.

“Don’t you think we are justified, Frank?”

“Oh, yes, Jack—under the circumstances we are justified in doing almost
anything. Besides, if we get away, I’ll have a chance to send that
telegram to Captain Putnam. It ought to be sent at once.”

“We ought to have some plan of action,” said Bob Grenwood. “After we
break away what shall we do?”

“We ought to fix it so that the fellows left behind will know what we
are up to,” said the young major. “Perhaps they might get out tonight
and follow us—if they wanted to.”

After considerable discussion it was decided that, given the chance,
each cadet should get out of the Hall as best he could. All were to meet
later at the ruins of an old barn, half a mile up the lake shore.

“Don’t be worried if I don’t show up on time,” said Jack. “If I can I
want to let the other fellows know what is going on.” And then he told
of the hole in the closet ceiling and of how it led to the trunk room
above.

There was little time to say more, for soon more footsteps sounded in
the hallway and again the door was opened. This time the prisoner was
Fred Century.

“Now, boys, all together!” shouted Jack, and leaped for the half-closed
door. “Come on, Fred!” he added. “We are off for Bailey’s old barn.” He
spoke the last words softly, so that those outside might not hear.

Then came a wild rush, and blows were freely exchanged between the
guards and Pluxton Cuddle and the cadets. One of the guards was thrown
down and the other received a kick in the shins that made him roar with
pain. Cuddle made a grab for Jack, but Reff Ritter caught him by the
ankles and threw him on his back, where he lay for the moment, his wind
knocked out of him.

The encounter made considerable noise, and before the cadets could get
away Josiah Crabtree and one of the guards from upstairs appeared on the
scene. Crabtree held a cane in his hand and struck several lads. Then
Jack caught hold of the cane and wrenched it from the teacher’s grasp.

“Don’t—don’t hit me, Ruddy!” gasped the teacher, as he saw the cane go
up.

“Then get out of our way!” answered the young major, and Josiah Crabtree
shrank back in terror. The next moment Jack was bounding through the
hallway, and the other cadets scattered in several directions. Some went
into the classrooms and out of the windows while two ran out of a side
door. Jack mounted a side stairs, skipped past a guard who looked
bewildered and frightened, and then sped for the trunk room. But as he
reached the door his heart failed him. He remembered how the door had
been barricaded from the inside by a heavy trunk.

“If I can’t shove it back, I can’t get in!” he thought, and tried the
door. Just as he did so it came open, and to his surprise he found
himself confronted by Pepper.

“Jack!” gasped The Imp. “Where have you been? I was just going on a
scouting expedition after you.”

“Shut the door—and push the trunk back into place,” answered the young
major. “I’ve got a great story to tell,” he added. “We are now in open
rebellion!”



                              CHAPTER XXI
                        HOW THE CADETS RAN AWAY


While the uproar below was still in progress, Jack and Pepper climbed
down to the dormitory, and there the young major told of all that had
occurred since his departure.

“Old Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle are carrying matters with a high hand,”
he went on, “and we have decided to stand it no longer.”

“Well, we about reached the same conclusion here,” said Andy. “Pepper
was going to try to find you, and then we were going to see if we
couldn’t get the whole crowd to run away.”

“I hope none of the fellows who were in the guardroom with me are
captured,” continued Jack. “If Crabtree or Cuddle laid his hands on
anyone it will go hard with that cadet, I know.”

The guards had all gone below, so the cadets in the dormitories were
left to themselves. They crowded to the various windows and soon espied
Bob Grenwood, Reff Ritter and two others on the road beyond the campus.
As soon as the runaway cadets saw that they were noticed they raised
their hands and beckoned for those left behind to join them. At this the
cadets in the windows nodded vigorously. And so the plan to run away
from Putnam Hall grew rapidly.

“I see two of the guards going after those cadets,” said one student who
chanced to have a field glass. “But I doubt if they catch our fellows.”

“It will soon be night,” said Dale. “In the darkness getting away ought
to be easy.”

“Provided the teachers don’t get a stronger guard,” answered Stuffer.
“Now they are on the warpath there is no telling how far they will go. I
expect to see one of the cadets beheaded next.”

“Or made to learn ten pages of Latin backward,” put in Joe Nelson, and
this remark caused everybody to laugh.

“If we are going to run away, we want some definite plan of action,”
said Jack. “I’ve got my own idea, but I don’t know if it will suit the
rest.”

“What is the plan?” asked several.

“That we get away as best we can, and, if possible, get some tents and
rations, too. If we can’t get the rations from the pantry and the
storehouse, get them from the storekeepers of Cedarville. I am sure we
can raise some money, and we can get trust for the rest. Then we can go
off and establish a regular camp until we hear from Captain Putnam.”

This plan met with instant favor, and the idea was quickly circulated to
some of the other dormitories. Fully three-quarters of the cadets agreed
to run away, if the chance offered. The others, including Mumps and
Billy Sabine, were too timid and said they would not go.

Of the lads who had broken out of the guardroom only one was captured
and that was Frank Barringer. He and Josiah Crabtree had a warm
discussion after the capture, and what Barringer said made the teacher
somewhat nervous.

“You are carrying matters with a high hand, Mr. Crabtree, and when
Captain Putnam comes back I feel certain he will not uphold you,” said
Barringer.

“We must have order,” grumbled the teacher.

“That is true, but you must try to get it in the right way. To treat the
cadets as if they were hoodlums is not the right way.”

“We know what we are doing,” interposed Pluxton Cuddle. “You boys eat
too much, and——”

“Mr. Cuddle, I am talking to Mr. Crabtree,” said Barringer, with
dignity. “He is the oldest teacher in the Hall, and he is responsible
for what is happening.”

“I am responsible for what happened in the classrooms,” said Josiah
Crabtree, quickly. “The outside care of the students was left to Mr.
Cuddle.”

“And I know what I am doing,” said that individual, pompously. “I am
willing to assume all responsibility, and I want no advice from you.”

“All right—we’ll wait till Captain Putnam gets back,” said Frank; and
there the discussion ended. But the talk made Josiah Crabtree nervous
and after that he left the management of affairs largely in Pluxton
Cuddle’s hands. Perhaps he was “casting an anchor to windward,” and he
had need to, as later events proved.

Before the excitement attending the escape from the guardroom came to an
end, it was growing dark. When it was time for supper the door to each
dormitory was suddenly thrust open and a basket was set inside,
containing bread and butter and a tin pail full of milk, with a glass.

“Hello, they have given up the idea of starving us!” cried Dale.

“Huh! Nothing but bread and butter!” grumbled Stuffer. “I’m glad some of
that other grub is left.”

“They are afraid to let us go without food,” said Andy. “Perhaps they
think we’ll grow desperate on empty stomachs and break down the doors
and create trouble generally.”

“’Tis a great shame old Crabtree is so pig-headed,” observed Emerald. “I
shall be greatly surprised if the captain is afther upholdin’ him in
it.”

While it was growing dark the boys completed, as far as they could,
their plans for leaving Putnam Hall. Of course, much depended on chance
and there was considerable fear that their actions might fail. Word was
circulated that the movement should commence at exactly midnight, and in
the meanwhile every cadet should pretend to go to sleep.

Fortunately for the boys, nature aided them in their undertaking. Heavy
clouds obscured the sky, making it very dark outside of the school. From
a distance came the low rumble of thunder, drowning out many other
sounds.

“I hope it doesn’t rain,” said Pepper.

“I don’t think it will,” said Jack. “That storm is passing off to the
westward.” And he was right, hardly a drop of rain fell in the vicinity
of the lake.

A heavy rope had been procured and this was strung along the windows of
the various dormitories and by its aid many of the cadets climbed into
the room occupied by Jack and his chums. Then Andy went through the
trunk room to the upper hall and from thence, by a ladder, to the roof.
From that point of vantage he let down the rope to the window of a
dormitory on the other side of the building. To the end of the rope was
a note reading as follows:

  “Use this to get down to the ground. Wait until we make a noise down
  by the gym., to attract the guards. Meet us at the old Bailey barn.
  Bring camping outfit with you, if possible.

                                               “The Putnam Hall Rebels.”

To deceive the guards in the hallways, many of the cadets pretended to
go to bed about eleven o’clock.

“Might as well get a good night’s rest,” said Jack loudly. “We can’t do
anything more until morning.”

“Right you are,” answered Bart Conners, in an equally loud voice. “Call
it off, boys, and get to bed.” And this ruse was worked in every
dormitory from which the cadets hoped to escape. It deceived the guards
completely, and when Pluxton Cuddle came up to learn how matters were
progressing he was informed that the cadets had retired.

At one minute after twelve the boys arose from the beds upon which they
had been resting, and with their shoes and various bundles in their
hands crawled silently through the hole in the ceiling to the trunk room
above. Then, with Jack to lead them, they tiptoed their way through the
back hall and down the rear stairs, and then to the kitchen. Here the
back door was opened, and ten of the lads went out and in the direction
of the barn and storehouse. This detail was led by Andy.

“We want at least ten tents,” said the acrobatic youth. “And as much
food as we can lug along.”

“Say, why can’t we get a horse and wagon?” suggested Stuffer, who hated
to carry anything.

“Maybe we can—if Jack is willing. But get out the tents and food
first—so we can dust with them if there is any alarm.”

“We might take to the boats,” said Dale.

“No, Jack said that wouldn’t be safe. Old Crabtree would hire a steam
tug and come after us in no time. But say, I’ll tell you what we can
do—hide the boats in the creek! That will throw them off the scent.”

In the storehouse were packed a number of army tents, to be used when
the cadets went out on the annual encampment. Here were also boxes and
barrels of provisions, for use in the school. Making certain nobody was
around, the boys shut the door, pinned some empty potato bags over the
windows, and lighted a lantern. Then, with great rapidity, they got out
some of the tents, and in them rolled up various kinds of rations,
beans, bacon, dried fish, coffee, sugar, butter, crackers and so forth.
They also took along a small sack of potatoes and another of apples.
Then they got out a camp cook stove, and some tinware, including cups
and plates, and pots, kettles and frying pans.

“We can’t carry all this,” said Dale, in dismay. “We’ll simply have to
get a horse and wagon.”

“Very well then, we’ll do it,” said Andy. “But it is running an extra
risk.”



                              CHAPTER XXII
                       JOSIAH CRABTREE IS WORRIED


While Andy and those with him were getting out the things in the
storehouse, Jack and some others were searching the pantry and kitchen
for such articles as they thought they needed. These included knives,
forks and spoons, and also pepper, salt, lard and several smoked hams
and tongues, and all the bread in the big wooden bread box.

“Let’s take some jam too,” said one cadet, and several glasses were
added, and also such cake as chanced to be in sight. The boys also found
a small cheese, some lemons and oranges and a box of raisins.

“I reckon we’ve got all we can carry,” said Fred Century. “Talk about
moving day! This looks like one to me!”

As silently as shadows the cadets took the things outside and hurried
with them in the direction of the storehouse, where they met some of the
others.

“Where is Andy?” asked the young major, anxiously.

“Gone for a horse and wagon,” answered Dale. “It is simply out of the
question to carry all this stuff by hand.”

“But the risk!” cried Pepper. “I’m going to see how he is making out.”

He ran for the stable and saw Andy bringing forward one of the horses. A
spring wagon stood near by, under a shed, and Pepper ran it forward, and
helped his chum to hitch up the horse.

“Listen, somebody is coming!” said Pepper, presently, and a moment later
they heard Peleg Snuggers calling from his room over the horse stable.

“Who’s down there? What ye doin’?” bawled the man. And then he appeared
at a window in his nightdress.

“Stop your noise, Snuggers!” ordered Pepper. “If you don’t they may find
a dead man around here in the morning.”

“Land sakes alive! Don’t shoot me!” spluttered the man of all work, and
dropped out of sight in a hurry.

“Don’t you say a word and you won’t be touched,” went on The Imp. “If
you open your mouth there will be trouble, and lots of it, Peleg!”

“I ain’t sayin’ nary a word!” answered the man, in a voice filled with
terror. The doings of the day had filled him with apprehension.

As quickly as they could the cadets loaded up the spring wagon, putting
in all of the things collected and adding such additional stores as the
wagon would hold. Then Andy drove off, taking Dale, Stuffer and some
others with him.

“I’ll go up to Daly’s clearing,” said the acrobatic youth. “I’ll drive
right into the woods beyond. I don’t think anybody will find us there.”
And so it was arranged.

The outfit having been sent on its way, the cadets left behind breathed
more freely. If an alarm came they could take to their legs, and they
doubted if any of the teachers or guards could catch them.

“Now for the demonstration near the gym.,” said Jack. “Make as much
noise as possible, so the other fellows will have a chance to get out of
the dormitories, but don’t let the enemy catch you.”

In less than five minutes after that a loud yelling arose back of the
gymnasium and several cadets could be seen running in as many different
directions. There were calls for “Come this way, boys!” and “Look out,
there’s a guard after you!” and a lot of other cries that seemed to mean
much.

“What is that?” ejaculated Josiah Crabtree, who had fallen asleep in an
easy chair in his room. “Are they breaking out?”

“To the gymnasium!” was the call outside. “Catch them, men, at yonder
building!”

Then came a rush from the guards, and they were quickly joined by
Crabtree and Cuddle. All ran in the direction of the gymnasium, leaving
the school building, for the time being, to take care of itself.

It was what those left in the dormitories were watching and waiting for,
and in a twinkling cadet after cadet came sliding down the rope and a
line made of torn-up sheets. They threw out their bundles in advance,
and then, picking up the baggage, darted for a back path, leading
through the vegetable garden attached to the Hall.

“Hi! hi! Look!” shrieked Pluxton Cuddle, as he chanced to gaze behind
him.

“What is it?” demanded Josiah Crabtree.

“The boys! They are leaping from the dormitory windows!”

“Impossible! Some of them will be killed. Ha! I see. They have ropes!
Come, this is a trick—to get us from the school!” And the teacher ran
back toward Putnam Hall.

By this time the guards were thoroughly bewildered and did not know what
to do. Crabtree gave orders, and Cuddle told them to do something else,
and, as a consequence, nothing was accomplished. The teachers were
frantic.

“They have—have run away!” gasped Josiah Crabtree, as, having reached
the school, he threw open the door of one dormitory after another.

“All of them?”

“No, but the majority. What shall we do?”

“I don’t know.”

“Mr. Cuddle, you are responsible for this!”

“I, sir?” gasped the new teacher.

“Yes.”

“Not at all, sir, not at all, Mr. Crabtree! You started the affair. You
are responsible.”

“It is not true. If you had not cut down the food——”

“Tut! tut! tut! If you had not made a mistake in that Latin lesson, sir,
the cadets——”

“Don’t talk to me, sir! I say it was your fault, Mr. Cuddle,” growled
Josiah Crabtree.

“And I say, sir, it was your fault.”

And then the two teachers glared fiercely at each other.

“Please, sir, what do you want us to do?” asked one of the guards,
somewhat sheepishly.

“Do!” cried Josiah Crabtree. “You can’t do anything! You allowed those
cadets to run away! You are a set of blockheads!”

“So they are, blockheads!” added Pluxton Cuddle.

“I’m not a blockhead and I want you to know it,” answered the man
angrily. “You fellers brought us up here on a fool’s errand, I think. If
you’ll pay me off I’ll go home.”

“Yes, pay me off and I’ll go home too,” added another of the guards.

“What, are you going to desert us!” exclaimed Josiah Crabtree, in sudden
fear.

“I ain’t no blockhead. You pay me and I’ll go.”

“But see here, you promised to stay here as long as wanted,” pleaded
Crabtree.

“You don’t want me any longer—now the boys have run away. And let me say
one thing—I think the boys had a right to run away.”

“Bah!”

“You teachers ain’t treatin’ ’em right,” went on another guard. “Just
you wait till Captain Putnam gits back—I reckon he’ll make it warm for
you!”

At this plain talk Josiah Crabtree almost collapsed. He realized that he
had gone too far. He wondered what the result would be when the captain
did get back. He was getting a fine salary and he did not wish to lose
his position.

“My dear fellows, you are making a mistake,” he said, in a milder voice.
“Those cadets have broken the rules of this institution and must be
punished. I was simply going to keep them in their rooms until to-morrow
and then I was going to give them a lecture, nothing more.”

“What about the grub they wanted?” asked another guard, who had come up
during the talk.

“A little hunger would do them good. They would have gotten their fill
to-morrow, and——”

“No! no! that’s a mistake!” burst out Pluxton Cuddle. “Too much
eating——”

“Mr. Cuddle, I no longer agree with you on that point,” said Josiah
Crabtree coldly. “If they return they shall have the same quantity of
food as they got when Captain Putnam was here.”

“Humph! Then you have not the boys’ welfare at heart,” snorted the new
teacher.

“I want you men to stay here, at least for the present,” continued
Josiah Crabtree. “Let me see, I believe I promised you two dollars a
day, didn’t I?”

“You did,” said one of the guards.

“Your work has not been pleasant and therefore I’ll make the pay three
dollars a day. I did not mean to call you blockheads—I—er—was excited.
Let us get down to—er—business now—and see if we cannot find those
runaway cadets and persuade them to return to the Hall. If we can do
that and—er—hush up this whole unpleasant matter I will—er—reward you
handsomely.”

This talk was “pouring oil on the troubled waters,” and in the end the
guards promised to stick by Josiah Crabtree and do what they could to
bring the cadets back to school. They also promised, in view of a
liberal reward, to tell Captain Putnam that the students and not the
teachers were to blame for the outbreak.



                             CHAPTER XXIII
                        A DISCOVERY IN THE WOODS


“Andy, look out that you don’t drive off the road and into the gully,”
said Stuffer, as the spring wagon lurched forward over the rough ground
leading to Daly’s clearing.

“Stuffer wouldn’t have you lose any of that food for a fortune,” said
Dale, with a laugh. “Trust him to look out for that!”

“Well, you’ll be just as ready to eat your breakfast as anybody,”
grumbled the cadet who loved to eat.

Forward rolled the wagon, groaning dubiously when it bounded over the
rocks. It was loaded to the limit and the boys feared that the springs
would break before the journey was over.

From the vicinity of the Hall came calls and considerable noise. But
this presently died away, and then all was as quiet as a tomb on the
woody road the runaway cadets were traveling.

In half an hour the clearing was gained. They drove across it, and into
the woods beyond for a distance of a hundred yards. Here it was so dark
they had to light a lantern to see the way.

“They’ll be good ones if they track us to this spot,” observed Dale.

Having reached the place, they blanketed the horse and sat down to wait.
It was somewhat chilly and all of the cadets present were glad enough to
put on the heavy coats they had brought along.

“Don’t you think some of us ought to go over to Bailey’s barn and see if
the others have arrived?” asked Stuffer, presently.

“We might do that,” answered another cadet. “But we can’t all go.
Somebody must remain here and watch the horse and the outfit.”

In the end it was decided that Andy and Stuffer should make the journey
to the old Bailey barn, a distance of a mile or more. They set off at
once, Stuffer first, however, filling his pockets with crackers and
apples.

“I know a path right through these woods,” said Stuffer. “It will bring
us out just to the north of the old barn.”

“Well, be sure of the way,” answered the acrobatic youth. “We don’t want
to get lost in this darkness.”

“How can we get lost in the dark if we carry a lantern, Andy?”

“Easily enough—if you get twisted around, Stuffer. I was lost once, in
the Adirondacks, and I know.”

The two boys set off, Andy carrying a small lantern picked up in the
carriage shed. This gave more smoke and smell than light and they had to
proceed slowly, for fear of tumbling over the tree roots or into some
hollow.

“Oh!” cried Stuffer, presently, as a strange sound struck his ears from
close at hand. “What’s that?”

“Only an owl,” cried Andy, with a laugh. “How you jumped!”

“Are you sure it was an—an owl?” was the nervous question.

“Dead certain. Go ahead, or we won’t reach the old barn till morning.”

The path through the woods was not well defined and at one place forked
in several directions. Stuffer did not notice this and kept to the right
when he should have gone to the left. Andy followed without question,
and thus the two cadets, instead of nearing the old barn, plunged deeper
and deeper into the woods.

“Say, Stuffer, this doesn’t seem to be right,” observed Andy, after a
full mile and a half had been covered.

“Huh! I know I am right,” was the reply. “We’ll get to the barn in a few
minutes.”

They continued to go forward, up a slight rise of ground and then down
into something of a hollow. Andy was just about to say again that he
thought they were on the wrong path when he caught sight of a small
campfire.

“Hello, see that!” he exclaimed.

“They have arrived and lit a fire!” answered Stuffer. “I don’t blame
them. It is pretty cold. But they are running the risk of being
discovered.”

“Stuffer, this isn’t the location of the old barn. We are not near the
lake.”

“How do you know?”

“The locality doesn’t look like it. These are hemlock trees, while back
of the barn there are chestnuts and walnuts.”

“That’s so too,” and now Stuffer became doubtful.

Moving a little more slowly, the two boys drew closer to the campfire.
They saw that it was in a little clearing, to one side of which were
some rocks and a spring of water. On the other side several small trees
had been cut down and a rude shelter erected, covered with an old wagon
top and several old horse blankets.

“Must be a gypsy camp,” said Stuffer, in a low tone, as the two boys
stepped behind some bushes to gaze at the scene presented.

“They are tramps,” was Andy’s answer. “Don’t you see the hoboes lying
around?”

He pointed to the forms of three men resting near the campfire. They
were all rough-looking individuals and their clothing and shoes were
much dilapidated. Several empty bottles lay scattered around, indicating
that the fellows were drinkers. Near the shelter were a pile of chicken
feathers and the skin of a lamb.

“I’ll tell you what I think,” whispered Andy. “These are not only tramps
but also thieves. They have been robbing the farmers’ henroosts and
somebody’s sheepfold. They’ve got a regular hangout here. I wonder how
many of them there are?”

“I see three—but some of the crowd may be under the shelter. If they are
thieves they ought to be locked up.”

“Yes. Shall we go into the camp and ask them the way?”

“I don’t think we ought to trust them. They might detain us, and rob
us.”

Putting out the light so that they might not be discovered, the two
cadets walked around the camp of the tramps. They saw that it was a
hangout that had been used for some time. With great caution they stole
up to the back of the rude shelter and peered within. They saw three
more men, who were all snoring lustily.

“That makes six all told,” said Stuffer, as he and his chum withdrew.

“Did you notice that fellow who was in the corner?” demanded Andy,
excitedly.

“Not particularly. Why?”

“Unless I am greatly mistaken he is the fellow I saw in the jewelry
store the day I was robbed—the chap I thought might be guilty.”

“Is that so, Andy? Are you certain it is the fellow?”

“No, because I didn’t get a good look at his face. But he certainly
looked a good deal like him.”

“Then you ought to investigate—I mean later on, when we have some of the
others with us,” went on Stuffer hastily. “It would be foolish for us to
tackle six men alone.”

“I’ll come back some time to-morrow—if I can get a crowd to come along,”
was the reply from the acrobatic youth. “Beyond a doubt these fellows
are thieves, and the farmers around here would be glad to place them
under arrest.”

“In that case let the Putnam Hall cadets make the capture. It will be
quite a feather in our cap.”

“I’d like to get back that stolen medal and the ring,” said Andy, as
they moved away from the tramps’ hangout. “And I’d like to see the
guilty party punished for attacking me.”

Having withdrawn into the woods once more the two cadets set to work to
find the right path to the old barn. This was no easy task, and it was
not until almost daybreak that Andy gave a cry and pointed ahead.

“I see the lake! I think I know where we are now.”

He hurried on and Stuffer came behind him, and presently the pair struck
a wagon road running directly past the old Bailey barn. They ran up to
the structure, to be stopped by a cadet who was on guard.

“Halt and give the countersign!” cried the cadet.

“Hello!” cried Andy. “That sounds natural. Is the crowd here?”

“It is,” answered the cadet. “How did you make out?”

Andy told him and then went in the barn, where he found the other cadets
assembled, some sleeping and a few talking in low tones. Four guards had
been stationed outside, to give the alarm, should the enemy be seen
approaching.

“We might as well be on the move,” said Jack, after Andy and Stuffer had
told their story. “As soon as it is daylight Crabtree and Cuddle will
most likely send somebody out to look for us.”

“Yes, and we want to make a regular camp somewhere,” put in Stuffer.
“Then we can start a fire and cook a good breakfast, and——”

The boy who loved to eat did not finish for several began to laugh.

“We’ll make Stuffer head cook,” cried Pepper. “Stuffer, how does that
suit you?”

“All right—if only you won’t ask me to wash dishes,” was the reply.

“Everybody will have to do his share of work,” said Jack, and looked
knowingly at Pepper. Then he leaned over and whispered in Andy’s ear. “I
am afraid we are going to have trouble with Reff Ritter and his crowd.
Reff wants to have everything his own way, and he thinks the fellows
ought to make him leader.”



                              CHAPTER XXIV
                           THE RIVAL RUNAWAYS


By eight o’clock that morning the runaway cadets of Putnam Hall went
into camp not a great distance away from where Andy had driven the wagon
into the woods. They found an ideal spot in a small clearing surrounded
by dense woods. There the tents were pitched, and some of the boys
cleaned out a handy spring, that all the water needed might be procured.
While some of the cadets were raising the tents, others, under the
directions of Bob Grenwood and Stuffer, were preparing breakfast. The
cook stove had been set up, and three cadets had been detailed by Jack
to procure firewood.

“We’ll have this camp in apple-pie order before noon,” said the young
major. “I am going to observe the same kind of regulations as if we were
off on an annual encampment.”

Early in the morning one of the cadets had hurried away to Cedarville,
to send a telegram to Captain Putnam, notifying him of the state of
affairs. A letter was also dropped into the post-office for the master
of the Hall, and this was marked Private. Then another letter was sent
to Josiah Crabtree, a farm boy being hired to deliver it. This letter
ran as follows:

  “Mr. Josiah Crabtree:

  “Dear Sir: We have left Putnam Hall to camp out until the return of
  Captain Putnam. To remain at the school under the management of
  yourself and Mr. Cuddle was impossible. As soon as Captain Putnam
  returns we shall lay our case before him.

                                “Yours truly,
                                               “The Students’ Committee,
                                                 “Joseph Nelson, Sec’y.”

“I guess that will set old Crabtree to thinking,” was Dale’s comment,
when the communication was dispatched. “He’ll find out that he can’t do
just as he pleases.”

“Yes, and it will set that new teacher to thinking too,” added Pepper.
“Oh, wouldn’t I like to square up with Pluxton Cuddle, for cutting us
short on rations!”

Andy had told the young major about the tramps and Jack agreed to see
what could be done as soon as camp matters were arranged.

“I’ve got to get things into shape here first,” said Jack. “I feel it in
my bones that Ritter is going to make trouble. Since we ran away he acts
like a regular sorehead.”

While breakfast was being served Reff Ritter and Gus Coulter growled at
nearly everything that was being done. The camping spot, to them, was no
good, the tents were not properly placed, and Reff stated loudly that he
would have picked out a spot that had better drinking water, while
Coulter turned up his nose at the coffee served.

“This is regular dishwater,” said Gus. “I thought we ran away to have
something good to eat and to drink.”

“See here, Gus, if you don’t like the coffee, supposing you make some
for yourself,” answered Bob Grenwood, sharply.

“Huh! Maybe you think I can’t make coffee!”

“This ham is about half done,” came from Nick Paxton. “It isn’t fit for
a dog to eat.”

“Well, what can you expect, when those fellows are running everything to
suit themselves?” growled Reff Ritter. “If I was leader I’d have things
different.”

“See here, Reff!” cried Jack, sharply. “I don’t like your talk at all.
The boys are doing the best they can. You can’t expect everything to
work like a charm at the very start. We are all tired out, and what we
need is a good night’s sleep. Don’t grumble so much.”

“I’ll grumble if I please!” flared up the bully of the school. “You may
be major of the battalion but you can’t boss me here.”

“You didn’t have to come with us if you didn’t want to,” put in Dale.
“Jack is our leader, and everybody in this camp has got to obey his
orders.”

“That’s the talk!” cried Pepper.

“Humph! Then I reckon the best we can do is to get out,” answered
Ritter, with a meaning look at his cronies.

“Yes, give us our share of the camp stuff and we’ll go,” added Coulter.

“All in favor of going with Reff Ritter raise their right hand,” sang
out Nick Paxton.

Evidently the matter had been talked over between the bully and his
cohorts for on the instant nine hands went up.

“Ten of us, counting Reff,” said Coulter. “How many are there all told?”

“Thirty-three,” answered Fred.

“Then we number about one-third of the total and we ought to have
one-third of the stuff,” said a cadet who had voted to join Reff Ritter.

“That wouldn’t be fair!” cried Hogan. “Sure, and it was Jack and his
chums who planned this thing and who got the most of the goods together,
so they did. Ritter didn’t carry a thing but his own clothing.”

“Never mind,” said the young major. “If Ritter and his crowd want to
camp by themselves let them do it. We’ll give them a fair share of the
tents and the provisions.”

A warm discussion followed, which almost ended in a fight. But Jack’s
suggestion prevailed, and just before noon Ritter and his nine followers
left, taking with them a share of the tents and the provisions. The
bully wanted more than was dealt out to him, and went away muttering
that he would pay the others back for their meanness.

“I am glad they are gone,” said Jack, when the crowd had departed. “We’d
never have harmony with them around.”

“Right you are,” answered Pepper. “Just the same, I think we gave them
more than they deserved.”

“We’ve got to keep our eyes peeled for them,” was Dale’s comment.
“Ritter is just the fellow to play us some underhanded trick.”

“That’s true—he doesn’t know when to be grateful,” said Bart Conners.

“I am glad he is gone,” came from Stuffer. “Now we won’t have to cook
for so many.” And this remark caused a smile.

With the discontented ones gone the camp took on a more cheerful
appearance. Breakfast was finished, and the few dishes washed, and then
the majority of the cadets laid down to rest, for they had not had a
sound sleep since the rebellion had begun. Andy and Joe were anxious to
go after the tramps, but Andy could hardly keep his eyes open, while Joe
was little better off.

“Might as well wait until to-morrow,” said the young major. “It isn’t
likely those tramps will go away in a hurry. Most likely they intend to
stay there until cold weather.”

A guard was set, which was changed every two hours, and the cadets laid
down to rest. The majority of them slept “like logs,” and it was again
dark when they commenced to stir around, and Stuffer began preparations
for supper.

“Wonder what is going on at the Hall,” said Jack, as he stretched
himself. “Crabtree and the others must be hunting for us.”

“I don’t care what they do, so long as they don’t find us,” answered
Pepper.

In the evening Pepper and Andy set off for Cedarville, to buy some
things that were needed in the camp. They took to the regular road,
thinking they could easily get out of sight if any of the enemy
appeared.

As they walked along they saw a buggy approaching. It contained two
girls, and as it came closer Pepper uttered an exclamation of pleasure:

“Laura Ford and her sister Flossie! Won’t they be surprised when they
learn what has happened.”

The girls he mentioned were two old friends of the cadets. They were the
daughters of a Mr. Rossmore Ford, a rich gentleman who owned a summer
cottage called Point View Lodge, located on the lake shore. In the past
the boys had done the girls several services of importance and the young
ladies and their parents were correspondingly grateful.



                              CHAPTER XXV
                            NEWS OF INTEREST


“And so you’ve really and truly run away!” cried Laura Ford, after
Pepper and Andy had told their story. “What fun! I wish I was a cadet!”

“How angry that Mr. Crabtree must be!” came from Flossie, as she tossed
back her curls. “Of course he’ll tell Captain Putnam it was all your
fault.”

“Most likely,” said Pepper.

“Where are you going now?” asked Laura.

“To Cedarville—to buy some things we need. You see, we came off in such
a hurry we forgot some things,” and The Imp grinned.

“Can’t we help you?” asked Flossie. “I’d dearly love to—you boys have
done so much for us.”

“Might bake us some pies,” suggested Andy, with a twinkle in his eye.

“Just the thing—only we’ll get the cook to do the baking. We’ll have the
pies for you to-morrow. Where shall we bring them?”

“Oh, that will be too much trouble,” cried Andy. “I didn’t really mean
what I said.”

“But we’ll get the pies for you—and some cake too. Just tell us where to
bring them,” said Laura. “Can we visit your camp? I’d like to see what
it looks like.”

“We’ll feel honored,” said Pepper, and then he told where the camp was
located. The girls said they would have the coachman drive them as close
as possible to the spot and would get there early enough, so the cadets
could have the pies for dinner. Then the two parties separated.

“Now those are girls worth knowing!” cried Pepper. “Always willing to
treat a fellow just right.”

“I guess Stuffer would think so—if he knew about the pies,” returned
Andy. “Well, I’d like a piece of good pie myself.” And he smacked his
lips.

The boys hurried to Cedarville and there procured the articles they
wanted. Then they asked several people if any chicken thieves had been
around lately.

“Yes, indeed!” said one man. “Tom Robinson lost some chickens last week,
and so did Billy Peters and the Widow Lilly.”

“Were any lambs stolen?” asked Andy.

“I heard that Landerson the butcher, had a lamb stolen a couple of weeks
ago. He just bought it from a man over to Hoetown. What do you want to
know for? Do you know anything about the thieves?”

“I think I do. I’ll go over and ask the butcher about the lamb.”

At the butcher shop the two cadets had quite a talk, the upshot of which
was that the butcher said he would visit the camp on the following
afternoon, bringing two farmers who had lost chickens with him. He let
the boys have some fresh meat on trust, and smiled broadly when they
asked him not to tell anybody where their camp was located.

“I know something about the trouble up to the school,” he said. “One of
them teachers—I think his name is Crabapple, or something like
that—wanted my cousin, Jim Pepperhill, to go up there to keep order. But
Jim didn’t like the looks of the teacher and wouldn’t go.”

“Did Mr. Crabtree say what the trouble was?” asked Pepper.

“Said some of the boys wouldn’t behave themselves, and that they had to
be locked in their bedrooms and kept there.”

From the butcher shop the two cadets visited the post-office, to see if
there was any mail for themselves and their fellow students. To their
surprise they were told that another cadet had called there only half an
hour before and taken all the cadets’ mail away.

“Who was it?” asked Andy, and the clerk described the person.

“I think his name is Coulter,” he said. “He has been here for mail
before. Wasn’t it all right to give it to him?”

“Not just now,” answered Pepper. “After this you keep some of the mail
here until one of our party calls for it.” And he wrote down a list of
names. Then he and his chum hurried off in the direction of camp.

“It was mighty cheeky of Coulter to take all the mail!” grumbled Andy.
“Why didn’t he sort it out and hand our mail back? Now we have got to
wait until he gets ready to bring it to us.”

“Maybe he won’t bring it, Andy.”

“Then we’ll have to go for it.”

“You forget that we don’t know where the Ritter crowd is located.”

“Gracious, that’s so! Well, we will have to find out. If he’s got any of
my mail, I want it.”

When the boys got back to camp the others listened with interest to what
they had to tell.

“It will be fun to go after those tramps and clean them out,” said Dale.
“And if the fellow is there who attacked Andy I hope we catch him and
get back the stolen things.”

“Home-made pies!” murmured Stuffer, referring to what the boys said
about the Ford girls. “Yum! yum! That’s the best ever!”

“I knew that would make a bull’s-eye hit with you!” said Pepper, with a
merry laugh.

“I hope they bring enough to go around. Did you tell them how many there
were of us?” asked the boy who loved to eat, anxiously.

“I told them there were over half a dozen of us,” answered Pepper, with
a wink at the others.

“Oh, Pepper! Half a dozen! Then they’ll only bring two or three pies,
and we won’t get more than a mouthful apiece!” And Stuffer’s face took
on a mournful look.

“Well, you know, Master Singleton,” said The Imp, imitating Pluxton
Cuddle’s tone of voice. “Too much eating is bad for a youth. It makes
him stupid and incapable of studying properly. If one ate less——”

“Oh, stop your tommy-rot about eating less!” roared Stuffer. “I guess
you must really believe in it—or you wouldn’t let those Ford girls bring
only two or three pies.” And he turned to walk away.

“Stop, Stuffer, Pep was only fooling,” cried Andy. “They’ll bring enough
pies, don’t you worry.” And then the youth who loved to eat felt
relieved.

A campfire was kept going during the evening, and around this the
runaway cadets gathered, to tell stories, sing songs and speculate upon
how the whole affair was to end. A few were nervous, but others felt
certain that Captain Putnam would not blame them for what they had done.

“If he does, he is not the man I take him to be,” said Dale.

“If he sides with Crabtree and Cuddle I shall ask my father to send me
to another school,” said another.

“If we stick together he is bound to side with us,” added Fred.

“Now, don’t make such a mistake as that,” said Jack, to the last
speaker. “Captain Putnam will not be influenced by our sticking
together, even if it breaks up his school. He will decide this case
solely on its merits. But I hope he will see that we were in the
right—at least, that we were not as much in the wrong as Josiah Crabtree
and Pluxton Cuddle.”

Among the boys to be placed on guard when the cadets retired was Fred
Century. He was stationed at the east side of the camp, not far from
where the wagon stood and the horse was tethered. In the wagon were a
goodly part of the provisions, covered with a tarpaulin that had been
brought along.

Fred had not slept well the night before and was consequently sleepy. He
tramped around for a while and then sat down on a rock to rest.

He had been sitting still for several minutes, with his eyes partly
closed, when he heard a slight noise behind him. Before he could move a
cloth was clapped around his mouth and his hands were caught and held.
Then a rope was brought into play, and he was made a close prisoner and
carried away into the woods.



                              CHAPTER XXVI
                      AFTER THE STOLEN CAMP OUTFIT


“Hi, fellows, get up! Something has happened!”

It was Pepper who aroused the others, and he made such a noise that the
cadets who were asleep sprang up without delay.

“What’s wrong?”

“Have the enemy discovered us?”

“Are we going back to the Hall?”

These and a number of other cries rang out, and nearly all the runaways
surrounded The Imp. For answer Pepper pointed to where the horse and
wagon had been.

“Gone!”

“Who took them?”

“Don’t ask me,” was the answer. “I missed them a minute ago and tried to
find out what had become of them. But they are teetotally gone, and that
is all there is to it.”

“Where are the guards?” demanded Jack. “Brightwood, did you see anything
of the horse and wagon?”

“I did not,” answered one of the cadets who had been on guard duty. Then
some of the others were questioned, but all shook their heads.

“Fred Century was on guard near the wagon,” said Andy, suddenly. “Where
is he?”

All looked around, but in vain.

“Maybe he drove off with the horse and wagon,” suggested Hogan. “But I
don’t know where he’d go, so I don’t.”

“Perhaps he got afraid and went back to the Hall,” suggested another.

“Fred Century wasn’t the sort to get afraid,” answered the young major.
“But I must confess I don’t understand this.”

“Do you think Reff Ritter and his crowd would play this trick?” demanded
Pepper.

“He might, Pep, but what of Fred?”

“Maybe Century joined the Ritter gang,” vouchsafed Brightwood.

“No, Fred didn’t like Ritter at all,” answered Andy.

“We’ll have to make a search for the horse and wagon,” said the young
major. “And the sooner the better. We can’t afford to lose all those
stores.”

“Oh, I say, can’t we get breakfast first?” asked Stuffer, reproachfully.

“No, we’ll hunt first and eat afterwards,” said Jack, decidedly.

The cadets scattered in all directions, and less than three minutes
later Dale set up a call that brought the others running to him. He had
found poor Fred, gagged, and bound to a tree. The captive was glad to be
released and to have his power of speech restored. His story was a short
one.

“There must have been four or five who attacked me from behind,” he
said, “and they gave me no chance to cry out. I heard them talking about
taking the horse and wagon and some other things, but I couldn’t do a
thing to warn any of you. They must have gotten off very quietly, not to
have attracted the attention of the other guards.”

“Were they the Ritter crowd?” asked Andy.

“I am not sure. I thought perhaps they might be those tramps Andy and
Stuffer discovered in a hangout in this neighborhood.”

“The tramps!” ejaculated Andy. “That’s so! Why didn’t I think of them!
If they rob the farmers around here, they wouldn’t hesitate to rob us.”

“Fred, who was on guard next to you?” asked the young major.

“Caller was on one side and Beck on the other.”

“Well, Caller is a little deaf, he wouldn’t be apt to hear them,” said
Pepper. He looked around. “Where is Beck?”

Beck was not in sight, and then the various cadets stated they had not
seen him since he had gone on guard duty.

“He must be tied up too,” said Jack. “Let us continue the hunt,
fellows.”

This was done, and the search lasted fully an hour. But not a trace of
the missing cadet could be discovered.

“I’ll tell you what I think,” said Pepper, when they met around the
campfire. “I think the Ritter crowd ran off with the horse and wagon and
I think Beck went with them. If you’ll remember, he and Coulter and
Paxton are quite chummy, and Coulter wanted him to come with them when
they left our crowd. I think, if we can find out where the Ritter crowd
is staying, we can get back our things—and not before.”

“Then we’ll find them,” cried Andy.

It was soon learned that not only were the things left in the wagon
gone, but also some of the cooking utensils and the fresh meat purchased
from the butcher in Cedarville. This discovery made the cadets more
angry than ever, and all vowed to “square up” with the Ritter crowd if
they were really guilty and if it could possibly be done.

“We gave them their share and they had no right to come here and take
more,” was the way Joe Nelson expressed himself.

Breakfast was had, and then Jack divided his force into three parties.
Of these one party was to remain in camp and watch such of the outfit as
was left. The other parties were to go on a hunt for the horse and
wagon, one going to the north and the other to the west. The boys tried
to follow the wagon tracks through the woods, but this was impossible,
for many spots were hard and stony, and here the tracks were not
distinguishable.

Jack and Pepper were in the party which moved to the westward, and they
were accompanied by four other cadets, including Dale. They spread out
in a line, about twenty feet apart, so that they might cover that
portion of the woods as well as possible.

“This may prove to be nothing but a wild goose chase,” observed the
young major as they moved along. “But it is better than sitting still
and doing nothing.”

They soon crossed a clearing, and then came to a wagon road leading up a
small hill. Here they saw freshly-made tracks and this gave them some
encouragement.

“I don’t know of any farm up here,” said Pepper. “And if there isn’t any
farm what would a wagon be doing here this time of year?” For the road
was one for hauling wood.

“Better not make any noise,” cautioned Dale, as one of the cadets
commenced to whistle. “We may be nearer that wagon than you suspect.”

They moved onward for about an eighth of a mile further, and then Jack
called a halt.

“I see something moving over yonder,” he said, pointing with his hand.
“I think we had better investigate.”

With increased caution, for they wished if possible to surprise the
enemy, they went forward, keeping as much as possible behind the bushes
lining the wood road. Then they made a turn, and off in a little glade
to the left they saw the horse and wagon, the animal being tied to a
tree. At the edge of the glade were several tents, and in front of them
the remains of a campfire.

“Do you see anybody?” questioned Pepper, in a whisper.

“Yes, I see Ritter and Coulter, back of the tents,” answered Jack. “I
see some of the fellows in the tents,” announced Dale. “They are fast
asleep.”

“Most likely tired out, because of last night’s work,” said another
cadet. He looked at Jack. “What do you want us to do, Major?”

“You fellows look in the wagon and see if our stuff is there,” was the
reply. “Come, Pep, let us walk behind those bushes and see if we can
discover anything more. If Ritter and Coulter are hatching out more
mischief we want to know it.”

“I am with you,” answered The Imp.

“If the stuff is in the wagon, shall we drive off with it?” questioned
Dale.

“Yes, but don’t go too far, Dale,” answered Jack. “We may want you and
the other fellows here.”

“All right—if you want us, give the signal.”

Then, while Dale and the others hurried toward the horse and wagon, Jack
and Pepper stole behind the tents to where Ritter and Coulter were
talking earnestly. Little did the young major dream of what he was to
hear or of the discovery he was to make.



                             CHAPTER XXVII
                         A CASE OF TIT FOR TAT


Reff Ritter was evidently in high spirits over the success of his
midnight raid, for his voice sounded positive and loud. Coulter was a
little bit afraid.

“They may follow us up,” were the first words Jack and Pepper caught,
coming from Gus Coulter.

“Oh, they may try it, but I don’t think they can do it,” answered
Ritter. “We took good care to keep to the rocks when we left their camp.
They can’t follow the wagon tracks. Oh, say, but it’s a rich joke on
them, isn’t it?” And the bully of the Hall chuckled loudly.

“It sure is, Reff. But if they found us out——” Coulter shook his head.
“I suppose Jack Ruddy would be mad enough to chew us up.”

“I am not afraid of Ruddy.”

“Oh, I know that, Reff.”

“And I don’t think he can find us out. He isn’t as knowing as you think
he is.”

“Yes, but he’s pretty sharp,” insisted Coulter.

“Humph! He never found out how he happened to get sick so suddenly the
day we had the gymnastic contest and he fell from the flying-rings.”

“Oh, you said you’d tell me all about that some day,” said Coulter. “How
did you manage it, Reff?”

“It was easy enough. If I tell you, will you keep it to yourself?”

“Sure.”

“Well, I got that French headache powder out of the medicine cabinet. I
knew about how much to use to make Ruddy dizzy and dull.”

“Yes, but how did you manage to give it to him without his knowing it?”
went on Coulter with interest.

“That was easy enough. I went down to the mess room just before the
evening parade. I watched my chance, and when none of the waiters were
looking, I slipped up to Ruddy’s seat and put the powder into the glass
of water in front of his plate. Just as I hoped, he came in feeling dry,
and he drank the stuff without knowing it. I think he did say something
about a bitter taste, but that was all.”

“It was an all-right trick,” said Coulter. “Only it didn’t pan out just
as you wanted.”

“But Jack Ruddy never found out about it,” answered Reff Ritter. “Say,
I’m getting sleepy,” he added, with a yawn. “Let’s turn in, like the
rest have done.”

“Want to set a guard?”

“Oh, all the fellows are too tired to stand guard,” was the bully’s
reply, and then he passed into one tent and Coulter into another.

With keen interest Jack and Pepper had listened to every word of the
conversation. The young major could scarcely control himself, and his
chum had to hold him back.

“The rascal!” cried Jack. “I always suspected him of having drugged me,
and now I have the proof. I ought to hammer him well!”

“Wait—don’t let him see you here,” pleaded Pepper, and pulled his chum
back of some bushes.

“But, Pep, that villain——”

“Yes, yes, I know. You’d like to pound the life out of him, and so would
I. But we can do no more—we can expose him to Captain Putnam.”

“Certainly. But let me pound him first.”

“Not yet, Jack. Remember, we are two to two, and Ritter and Coulter can
deny anything we say. We had better go slow, and fix it so that, when
the time comes for an exposure, Ritter can’t worm out of it.”

As angry as he was, the young major saw the wisdom of this, and he
allowed Pepper to draw him away from the vicinity of the tents. Both
rejoined Dale and the others, who were behind some bushes close to where
the horse was tied.

“Our stuff is all in the wagon,” announced Dale. “We were going to drive
off with it, but we saw Ritter and Coulter looking this way and we
didn’t want to be discovered.”

“Wait—they are going to retire,” said Pepper. “I think in a few minutes
every fellow in this camp will be asleep, and then——” He did not finish
but his eyes began to twinkle.

“Hurrah!” cried Dale. “I know what you mean! Tit for tat, eh?”

“And why not, Dale? Let me tell you fellows something.” And then The Imp
repeated the conversation that had just been overheard.

“Is that true?” demanded Dale.

“It is—word for word. Jack wanted to pound Ritter then and there, but I
made him hold back, for we want to prove this matter to Captain Putnam.”

“If that’s the sort he is, he and his cronies deserve to be cleaned
out,” said another cadet.

“And we’ll clean them out,” answered Jack. “We’ll leave them the tents
and their clothing and that’s all.”

The boys had not long to wait for Ritter and Coulter to retire. Then,
when they felt certain that all of the enemy were asleep, they stole
into the camp and picked up the cooking utensils and provisions lying
around and loaded them on the wagon. Then the horse was untied and the
journey back along the wood road was begun.

“We can change our own camp this afternoon,” said the young major. “And
we can fix it so they won’t have an easy time to find us.”

It was nearly noon when the boys came into their camp with the horse and
wagon. The other searching party had come back a few minutes before,
much discouraged.

“Good for you!” said one of the other searchers. “I’m glad we didn’t all
fail.”

“Jack, don’t forget that we expect visitors,” said Andy, a little later.

“Of course!” exclaimed the young major. “Boys, I want you to put this
camp into first-class shape immediately,” he added, and then proceeded
to wash up and brush his hair before the one tiny mirror brought along
from the Hall.

It was not long after this that a call sounded through the woods, and
then the cadets saw two men and two girls approaching, each carrying a
basket covered with a napkin. The party consisted of Mr. Rossmore Ford
and his two daughters, and the family coachman.

“So this is where you are stopping!” cried Mr. Ford, after the greetings
were over. “An ideal spot, I must say, and one pretty well hidden from
the carriage road. I take it that your teachers haven’t found you yet.”

“No, sir,” answered Jack.

“Would you mind telling me why you rebelled? I am very much interested,”
went on the gentleman.

In as few words as possible the young major told the particulars of the
trouble with Josiah Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle. Mr. Ford, Laura and
Flossie listened with close attention.

“Well, if all this is true, I do not wonder at your running away,” said
Rossmore Ford. “I rather think I should have run away myself.”

“Here are the pies, and some cakes and fresh rolls,” said Laura. “The
pies are apple, lemon and cocoanut, and we hope you’ll like them.”

“Like them!” cried a dozen cadets in chorus. “Just you wait till you see
us eat them!”

“We have only one lad here who doesn’t like pie,” went on Pepper,
soberly. “That’s Paul Singleton. He——”

“Hi, you!” cried Stuffer. “I like pie as well as anybody, and you know
it. Miss Ford, don’t you pay attention to what he says!”

“Maybe he wants all the pie to himself,” answered Flossie.

“We’d feel honored to have you take dinner with us,” said Jack to Mr.
Ford, after consulting some of his chums.

“Oh, let us stay, papa! It would be such fun!” pleaded Laura.

“Yes! yes!” added her sister.

“Well, if it is not too much trouble——” murmured Rossmore Ford.

“No trouble at all!” cried the cadets and then it was arranged that all
of the visitors should remain for the midday meal. This settled, Stuffer
and the other cooks bustled about to get the repast ready.



                             CHAPTER XXVIII
                            AFTER THE TRAMPS


It was pleasant for Jack and his chums to have the Fords with them, and
all spent an agreeable hour together, while waiting for the meal and
during the repast. The pies and fresh rolls proved highly acceptable.
The cake Stuffer wanted to cut, too, but the young major said that must
be kept for supper.

“He’d put on everything in camp, if I let him,” Jack explained to the
girls. “He’s the greatest eater in the school, and that’s why we call
him Stuffer. But he’s a good fellow all the same,” he added, hastily.

During the meal the boys told Mr. Ford of the tramps, and what was to be
done that afternoon to capture the fellows. The gentleman was much
interested.

“We have lost fowls over to my place,” he said. “Perhaps these men are
guilty of the depredations. If so, I think I ought to have a hand in
this round-up,” and he smiled faintly.

“You can go along if you wish, Mr. Ford,” answered Jack, readily.

“Then I will. The girls can drive home with Michael.” And so it was
arranged.

“Papa, I want you to keep out of harm,” said Laura, on parting. “And you
boys had better take care, too,” she continued.

“We’ll be on our guard, don’t fear,” answered Pepper, and then he and
Andy saw the girls to the carriage, and saw Michael the coachman drive
off with them.

While the cadets were awaiting the arrival of Landerson the butcher and
Peters and Robinson, two farmers who had lately lost chickens by
stealing, the young major gave some of them directions where to go and
establish a new camp. This was a spot known to but a few, and he felt
certain that Reff Ritter would not be able to follow them to it.

“Take the horse and wagon along over the stones,” he said, “and then
drive them down Baker’s brook. Water leaves a mighty poor trail.”

“All right, we’ll do the best we can,” said Bob Grenwood, who was placed
at the head of the cadets to superintend the removal.

About half-past two the butcher and the two farmers arrived, in company
with a small, fat man who gravely announced himself as one of the deputy
sheriffs of the county.

“Great Cæsar! Has he come to arrest us!” whispered Bart Conners, as the
deputy sheriff eyed the boys in a suspicious manner.

“No, he has come to arrest the chicken thieves—if he can find them,”
answered Jack.

It looked as if a storm might be brewing, so no time was lost in
starting in the direction of the tramps’ camp. Andy and Stuffer, knowing
the trail, led the way, and the men from Cedarville and Mr. Ford and six
of the cadets followed. The deputy sheriff and the two farmers carried
shotguns, and the butcher boastfully exhibited a pistol of the old
“hoss” variety, and nearly two feet long.

“We may as well arm ourselves,” suggested Rossmore Ford. “There is no
telling what may happen, if those rascals show fight.” And he cut
himself a stout stick, and the cadets did likewise.

The deputy sheriff being fat was also short of wind, so the party had to
move slowly. Once they came to a halt, Andy and Stuffer being a little
doubtful of the trail.

“Don’t—er—take us off the road,” panted the deputy sheriff. “This
walk—er—is bad enough as it is,” and he gave a deep sigh. Walking had
never been his strong point.

At last they came in sight of the hollow and Andy pointed out the rude
shelter and the remains of a campfire. Not a soul was to be seen.

“Perhaps they have deserted the spot,” said Jack. “If they have it’s too
bad.”

“Ha! don’t tell me you have brought me here on a fool’s errand!” puffed
the deputy sheriff.

“If you are fooled, Mr. Nugg, so are we,” answered Rossmore Ford.

“I think I see somebody sleeping under that shelter,” said the butcher.
“Yes, I do! It’s a man—and a tramp, by the looks of his ragged
clothing!”

“Then some of them must be on hand,” answered Pepper.

“I hope the man I am after is there,” put in Andy. He was thinking more
of the things he had lost than of capturing the rascals on account of
the chickens that had been stolen.

“Hadn’t we better surround the place?” suggested Jack, with true
military instinct.

“Just—er—what I was going to suggest,” said Mr. Nugg, quickly. “But
don’t do any shooting unless I give the command,” he continued
warningly.

“I doubt if it will be necessary to do any shooting,” said Rossmore
Ford. “Tramps are usually cowards and give up at the sight of firearms.
If we do any shooting somebody of our own party may get hurt.”

They spread out in a circle and with caution drew closer to the tramps’
camp. As they approached they saw that three men were resting under the
rude shelter. Presently one of the men raised his head, looked around
and uttered a cry of warning. Then all leaped to their feet, gazing at
the approaching men and boys in consternation.

“Surrender, in the name of the law!” shouted the fat deputy sheriff.

“Wot’s dis anyhow?” demanded one of the tramps, trying to retreat, and
finding himself hemmed in.

“Do you surrender, or do you want to be shot?” asked the butcher.

“Surrender?” asked a second tramp. “Wot’s dis? We ain’t done nuthin.”

“Up with your hands!” went on the deputy sheriff, who was bound to make
the capture as dramatic as possible, and up into the air went three very
dirty pairs of hands.

“Any more of you around here?” asked Andy, quickly, for he saw that not
one of the fellows present was the individual he had met at the jewelry
store.

“De udders have——” began the third tramp, a nervous looking young
fellow.

“You shut yer mouth, Bug!” cried the first tramp who had spoken,
warningly.

“Let him speak if he wants to,” said Jack, stepping forward. At the
sight of the military uniform the rascals looked much worried.

“So youse is bringin’ de soldiers here, hey?” said one.

“Da ain’t soldiers, da are cadets from a school,” said one tramp. “Don’t
yer know Flatnose told us about ’em?”

“Where is Flatnose?” asked Andy eagerly. He remembered that the tramp he
was after had a somewhat flat nose.

“He’ll be back in about——” began the younger of the three tramps, when a
warning look from both of the others halted him as before.

“When will he be back—answer me?” said Rossmore Ford sternly.

“Don’t youse say a word more!” growled the largest of the tramps.

“Here comes some men now—over yonder hill!” cried Dale, who chanced to
look back.

“Yes—and there is the rascal I want to catch!” returned Andy. “Come on,
Jack and Pepper, will you help me?”

“We will!” answered his two chums.

“There are four men!” cried the butcher.

“I know one of ’em!” yelled one of the farmers. “I saw him around my
henhouse one evening! He’s the chap I want to catch!” And away he went
with his shotgun.

“Hi! Wot’s dis?” cried one of the tramps in the distance.

“I know wot’s up,” answered another. “Da are after us! Our hangout has
been discovered! Say, boys, we have got to dust if we want to keep out
o’ jail!”

And then off they ran, in several different directions, and after them
went Andy, Jack and Pepper, and two other cadets, and Mr. Ford and one
of the farmers did likewise.



                              CHAPTER XXIX
                       SOMETHING OF A CONFESSION


“I want to get hold of that fellow with the flat nose!” cried Andy to
his chums. “I don’t care so much about the others.”

“We are with you, Andy,” answered the young major.

“We are bound to catch him sooner or later,” added Pepper.

The tramps had a start of at least a hundred yards and lost no time in
trying to escape. The fellow called Flatnose made for a dense patch of
woods behind the spring and was soon lost to sight. But the cadets heard
him as he crashed and plunged through brushwood and over rocks, and
slowly but steadily they drew nearer to the rascal.

“You might as well stop!” cried Andy. “We are bound to catch you.”

“If you come any closer somebody will git hurt,” called back the tramp
roughly. “You ain’t goin’ to catch me, not much you ain’t!”

“Do you think he’ll dare to shoot at us?” asked one of the cadets.

“No,” answered Jack. “I believe they are all cowards.”

On and on plunged the tramp, with the boys after him. He was now
ascending a small hill. Beyond, the cadets knew, was a cliff, fringed
with brushwood.

“Wonder if he knows about the cliff?” said Pepper.

“He must—since he has been in this neighborhood so long,” answered Jack.
“But if he doesn’t he may take a nasty tumble.”

“Maybe he is hoping to make us take the tumble,” came from Andy.

This was a trick the tramp had in mind, and reaching the edge of the
cliff, he darted to the right and crouched down under some thick bushes.

The cadets ran on at full speed until they neared the cliff and then
slowed up. They peered over the edge of the height into the little
valley below but could see no one.

“He’s around here somewhere,” declared Jack, and just then saw a bush
that had been caught back switch itself into place. He leaped into the
direction.

“Here he is, fellows!”

“Where?” asked Andy and Pepper in a breath.

“Under a bush. Come out of that!” Jack added to the fugitive.

“I ain’t comin’ out,” whined the tramp. He was out of wind and
crestfallen.

“If you don’t come out, we’ll kick you out,” answered Andy, and then he
shook his stick at the fellow. “Come out of that, and be quick about
it.”

The tramp looked at the acrobatic youth and he gave a little gasp.
Evidently he recognized Andy.

“I ain’t done nuthin,” he grumbled. “I’m an honest fellow, I am.”

“You certainly look it,” answered Jack. “Come, get up.” And he, too,
raised his stick as if to hit the rascal over the head.

“Don’t—don’t strike me!” was the cry. “I’ll come out! But I ain’t done
nuthin’.”

Very reluctantly the tramp crawled out from under the bushes and faced
the boys. When Andy looked at him his eyes fell.

“I guess you know me,” said Andy, sternly.

“You? I ain’t never seen you before.”

“Oh, yes, you have. We met in the jewelry store in Cedarville one
evening.”

“Not me. You’ve got the wrong man.”

“No, you are the fellow. And after we met at the jewelry store you
attacked me on the road, threw me off my bicycle, and robbed me.”

“No, I didn’t!” cried the tramp, but his manner showed that he was much
dismayed by the accusation.

“What I want to know is, What did you do with the things you took from
me?” continued Andy.

“Didn’t I say you had the wrong man?”

“Will you give up the stuff or not?”

“Say, I ain’t——”

“Answer my question.” And Andy raised his stick as if to hit the fellow
on the head.

“I—I ain’t got the stuff,” cried the tramp in alarm. “Don’t hit me. I—I
turned the stuff over to Levi, the fence.”

“Levi, the fence?” queried Andy.

“A fence, in criminals’ language, is a receiver of stolen goods,”
explained Jack. “Where is this Levi?” he asked.

“Over in Albany. He was in Cedarville when I give him the goods. He
promised me twenty dollars, but I only got five. He ought to be
pinched,” went on the tramp, meaning by “pinched” he should be arrested.

“You come with us,” said Andy, and between them the cadets marched the
tramp back to the camp in the hollow.

At the hangout they found that four of the tramps had been caught and
made prisoners. The others had escaped, and what became of them nobody
found out.

“I have heard of that fellow Levi,” said the deputy sheriff. “He has
been wanted for some time. I think the Albany police are now after him.”

Seeing it would be useless to conceal matters longer, the tramp called
Flatnose made a full confession, in which he told of attacking Andy just
as had been supposed. He had found the tree limb in the woods near the
road, and had thrust it out from the bushes just when the bicyclist was
passing.

“I got scared when you didn’t come to your senses,” he said. “I didn’t
mean to do nuthin’ but knock you into the road an’ take the things.”

“Well, that was enough,” said Andy, grimly. “But I must say I am
thankful I wasn’t killed.”

“These men are all rascals,” said Rossmore Ford. “They are petty
thieves, and they have terrorized the women and children for several
miles around. We’ll see to it that they all get what they deserve.” And
it may be added here that every one of the tramps was sent, later on, to
jail. At the camp were found ample proofs of how they had been robbing
not only henroosts and sheepfolds, but also houses and barns. The
butcher and the farmers were glad to see the rascals rounded up, and the
deputy sheriff was proud of the part he had played in the affair.

“We’ll look out for your things,” said the deputy to Andy. “And as soon
as we get them we’ll let you know.”

It was not deemed necessary for the cadets to help get the tramps to the
Cedarville lock-up and so, after bidding the men good-bye, the boys
started off in the direction where the new camp of the school runaways
was to be located.

“I’ll wager Reff Ritter was mad when he found the horse and wagon and
all those things gone,” said Pepper.

“He’ll do his best to find our new camp,” answered Jack. “Perhaps he’ll
want to fight next.”

“If he does, I reckon we can give him all he wants,” said Andy.

The sky was much overcast and it looked as if it might rain at any
moment. This caused the cadets to increase their speed, and soon they
were past the spot where the first camp had been located.

“Hello, look there!” cried Pepper, presently, and pointed among the
trees.

“It’s Gus Coulter!” answered another cadet “What is he doing here?”

“They must be looking for us already,” exclaimed Jack.

All ran up to Coulter, to learn that he was alone—some others who had
been with him having scattered to look for the new camp of the crowd
under the young major.

“See here, Coulter, I want to talk to you!” cried Jack, grabbing the
cadet by the arm. “Come here, boys!” he added, to his friends.

Thus caught alone, Coulter was much frightened and when the young major
began to talk to him he trembled in every limb.

“What do you want?” he faltered.

“I want to talk to you, Coulter.”

“What about?”

“About a certain talk you had with Reff Ritter.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“Well, you will know before I am done with you.”

“You let me go,” said Coulter, uneasily. “You haven’t got any right to
detain me in this fashion.”

“Well, I am taking the right,” answered the young major sturdily. “I
want you to understand——”

Jack got no further, for with a sudden twist and a push Gus Coulter
freed himself, leaped through the crowd, and dashed away.

“After him!” yelled Pepper. “He mustn’t get away like this!”

“I reckon we can catch him,” put in Andy, and then all of the cadets
started in pursuit of the fleeing one.

Coulter was badly scared—why he could not exactly tell—and he ran like a
deer. But the others kept on his track.

“There he goes!” cried Jack, as the running lad darted behind a heavy
clump of bushes.

The next instant there arose on the air a wild cry of dismay and alarm.

“Oh, dear! Help me, somebody!”

“He’s in trouble!” said Andy.

“Go slow—or somebody else may get into trouble, too,” cautioned the
young major.

Slackening their pace, the crowd approached the clump of bushes and
passed around to one side. They then saw what had caused Coulter to cry
for assistance.

On the other side of the bushes was a big swamp hole, filled with muck,
dead leaves and water. In his anxiety to escape Gus Coulter had plunged
into the swamp hole and was now up to his waist and rapidly sinking.

“Ge—get m—me out, somebody!” he gasped. “Quick, or I’ll—I’ll go down
an—and be smothered!”

The others saw that Coulter’s plight was serious and something must be
done to save him.

“I’ve got it!” cried Andy, as he looked around. “I reckon I can get him
out.”

“How?” questioned Pepper.

“Wait—I’ll show you.”

The acrobatic youth ran to a big tree growing close to the edge of the
swamp. He climbed up with marvellous rapidity, and then worked his way
out on a branch that grew over Coulter’s head.

“Good for Andy!” cried Jack.

“If only the limb will bend down far enough,” added Pepper.

Soon the acrobatic youth was close to the outer end of the limb. He bent
down, but his hand did not come within a foot of Gus Coulter’s reach.

“I—I can’t ma—make it!” gasped the boy below. His face was full of
abject fear.

“Wait a minute,” answered Andy.

He turned over, and the next moment was hanging from the limb by his
feet, which he had crossed one over the other. Thus he was able to reach
Coulter with ease.

“Look out, Andy, that you don’t go down, too,” cautioned Jack.

“And take care that the limb doesn’t break,” added Pepper.

Slowly but surely Andy began to draw poor Gus Coulter from the muck. It
was a severe strain on the acrobatic youth, and his muscles stood out
like whipcords, while his face, from hanging down, became purple. The
tree limb bent low, until the outer leaves swept the swamp hole.

“I don’t think he’ll make it,” was the comment of one of the cadets, but
even as he spoke there was a sucking sound and up came Coulter, and the
tree limb bounded several feet higher.

“Hurrah! He’s got him!” yelled Pepper, and his cheer was echoed by the
others.

Both boys in the tree were somewhat out of breath and they did not
descend at once. Finally Andy slid down and Coulter followed.

The lad who had the accident presented a most woebegone appearance. He
was covered with black muck up to his armpits, and some of the muck was
on his hands and face. Now that the danger was over the others had all
they could do to keep from laughing at the unfortunate one.

“Coulter, you can thank Andy for saving your life,” remarked Pepper.

“I—er—I wouldn’t have tumbled into the hole if you hadn’t chased me,”
grumbled Coulter.

“And we wouldn’t have chased you if you hadn’t tried to run away,” came
from the young major.

“You had no right to stop me.”

“As I said before, I am taking the right, Coulter. I want you to confess
something.”

“Me? I haven’t done anything.”

“You know what Reff Ritter did. I heard you talk it over.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean just this,” answered Jack, and then spoke about the talk he had
heard between Reff Ritter and Coulter concerning the use of the French
headache powders.

“Now I want you to tell the truth, Coulter,” said the young major,
finally. “Who put those powders into my drinking water? Answer, or I’ll
give you the biggest thrashing you ever had in your life!”

“Don’t—don’t hit me!” cried the cadet.

“Then answer—and tell the strict truth.”

“Reff Ritter. But if he learns I told on him he’ll hammer me to death,”
added Coulter, with a very white face.

And then he told the particulars, just as Ritter had given them. All of
the cadets present listened with interest. When Coulter had finished
Jack caught him by the shoulder.

“Now get out!” he cried. “Go back to Ritter, and don’t you show your
face near our camp!” And Coulter lost no time in disappearing.

Five minutes later the cadets came in sight of the new camp. As they
entered the clearing Pepper gave a gasp.

“Look! There is Captain Putnam!”

“You are right,” answered Jack. “Now we’ve got to face the music!”



                              CHAPTER XXX
                      BACK TO THE HALL—CONCLUSION


“Well, young gentlemen, it would seem that you have been taking matters
into your own hands,” remarked Captain Putnam, as he faced those who had
just arrived. He looked stern, yet not as angry as they had sometimes
seen him.

“Captain Putnam, we felt it was absolutely necessary to do what we have
done,” answered Jack.

“Have the others told you how we were treated?” asked Pepper.

“In part, yes. But I wish to hear what you have to say also.”

“And I suppose you’d like to hear what Mr. Crabtree and Mr. Cuddle have
to say,” put in Andy.

“Never mind that just now,” said the master of the Hall. “Major Ruddy, I
will listen to your story.”

In a plain, straightforward manner Jack told his story from beginning to
end, very much as I have set it down here. He did not omit a single
important detail. He told of the throwing of the inkwell, the hot
potatoes and the bread, but mentioned no names. He also related the
particulars of the trouble in the classrooms, and of how Pluxton Cuddle
had endeavored to starve them into submission, aided in this work by
Josiah Crabtree. When this was told the captain drew down the corners of
his mouth and frowned.

“He won’t stand for that—I knew he wouldn’t,” whispered Dale to Stuffer.

“Nobody would stand for starving!” cried the lad who loved to eat.

After Jack had finished, several other cadets were interviewed. Then
Captain Putnam wanted to know the whereabouts of Ritter and his crowd.

“We can take you to them,” said Dale.

“That will not be necessary, Blackmore. You may go to their camp and
tell them that I want them to return to Putnam Hall at once.” And
somewhat against his will, Dale departed on the errand.

“What are we to do?” asked Andy.

“Break camp and return to the school, now,” Captain Putnam turned to
Jack. “Major Ruddy, you will give the necessary orders.”

“Gladly, sir—now that you are back, Captain Putnam,” cried Jack.

“Are you really glad that I am back, Ruddy?”

“Yes, sir—and I know the others are glad, too. We didn’t run away just
for the fun of it,” he added, earnestly.

“It may give my school a black eye.”

“Not as much of a black eye as the teachers gave it by hiring those men
from Cedarville to come down and play guard.”

“This is true—and I have already told Mr. Crabtree so.”

“Oh, then you’ve been to the school?”

“Yes.”

“Then—then——” The young major hesitated.

“We’ll thrash this whole thing out later, Ruddy. It is too serious a
matter to decide now. A storm is coming and I want you to get back if
possible before it breaks. Start for the school as soon as you can.”

In less than quarter of an hour the cadets were on the march. Andy drove
the wagon, which was piled high with the outfit. Captain Putnam walked
by the young major’s side, and the cadets kept step as if on dress
parade. All wondered what would be the end of the affair. Would any of
them be expelled?

At the entrance to the campus they were met by Peleg Snuggers, and he
was directed to take charge of the wagon and its contents. Then the
cadets entered the Hall. All was silent within, and neither Josiah
Crabtree nor Pluxton Cuddle showed himself. The boys were told to go
straight to the general assembly room.

It had begun to rain and soon it was pouring in torrents, while the
lightning flashed and the thunder roared incessantly. In the midst of
the storm Dale dashed in.

“I went to their old camp, but Ritter and his crowd had moved,” he said.
“I couldn’t find them, and not wishing to get soaked I came to the
school.”

“It is too bad,” said Captain Putnam. “But it cannot be helped. I will
send for them again after the storm clears off.” Then the captain left
the cadets in the assembly room, telling them to keep quiet until his
return.

“I guess he is going to have it out with Crabtree and Cuddle,” whispered
Pepper. And he was right.

An hour passed, and then a side door opened and Captain Putnam entered,
followed by Josiah Crabtree and Frank Barringer. The boys started on
seeing the teacher for he seemed suddenly to have grown several years
older. The master of the Hall ascended the platform and made a speech.

“I have heard both sides of this controversy,” said he. “Mistakes have
been made all around. It was a mistake for you cadets to become
disorderly in the classrooms and in the mess hall—and it was a mistake
on the part of the teachers to attempt to starve you into submission.
For trying to starve you I find Mr. Cuddle responsible, and he has this
day severed his connection with Putnam Hall.”

“Good!” whispered Andy. “Good-bye to Cuddle, and may we never see his
like again!”

“Mr. Crabtree is willing to let bygones be bygones,” went on Captain
Putnam. “He realizes his mistakes and regrets them. Supposing I am
willing to overlook what you have done, young gentlemen, are you willing
to start in to-morrow morning as if nothing unusual had occurred? If so,
stand up.”

One after another the cadets stood up until not one remained seated. A
smile spread over Captain Putnam’s face, and this was reflected on the
face of Josiah Crabtree. The cadets did not know it, but their standing
up saved for the teacher his position. Had they not been willing to
forgive and forget Crabtree would have been discharged.

“Three cheers for Captain Putnam!” cried Pepper, and though the master
of the Hall raised his hand to protest the cheers were given with a
will. A faint cheer followed for Crabtree and the teacher arose and very
awkwardly bowed his acknowledgement. Then the cadets were dismissed and
the bell rang for supper.

“I reckon we won’t see Pluxton Cuddle,” said Andy, and he was right,
that unpopular teacher left early the next morning, before any of the
cadets were around.

It was not until the next afternoon that Reff Ritter and his crowd
showed themselves, and they brought the mail taken from the post-office.
They had heard of Captain Putnam’s return and had come in of their own
accord. The storm had blown down their tents and they were wet to the
skin and terribly hungry. There had been a bitter quarrel among the
crowd, and this was kept up after they got back. One of the boys had
heard Ritter speak about the exchanging of blank cartridges for those
containing bullets at the target practice and immediately upon his
return to Putnam Hall he sought out Captain Putnam.

“Well, what do you want, Akers?” demanded the master of the school,
sternly.

“I know I have done wrong, sir,” said Akers. “But, Captain Putnam, I
came to speak of something else.”

“What is it?”

“It concerns Bob Grenwood, our former quartermaster.”

“What of Grenwood?”

“I suppose you remember about those blank cartridges that were dealt out
to some of us when we had target practice.”

“Perfectly.”

“Well, I want to tell you positively, sir, that Grenwood is not
guilty—that he had nothing to do with handing them out.”

“How do you know this?”

“Because, when we were out camping, Reff Ritter got to boasting, and he
told how he and another fellow got the blanks and distributed them. It
was done at the time of the snake scare. There was no snake—the scare
was gotten up merely to attract our attention, so that the blanks could
be taken from the box.”

“Humph! You are sure of this?” demanded Captain Putnam.

“Yes, sir.”

“Tell me all the particulars.”

Thereupon Akers told his story in detail, to which the master of the
Hall listened with close attention. Then several other boys came in,
among them Andy and Pepper.

“I want to speak to you about the time Major Jack Ruddy fell from the
flying rings and came pretty close to being dangerously hurt,” said
Andy. “I guess you remember that, sir.”

“Indeed I do—since he was very sick at the time,” answered Captain
Putnam.

“We know just how he got sick.”

“What was the cause, Snow?”

“Reff Ritter put some French headache powders in his drinking water. The
powders made him dizzy, and that is how he came to fall from the rings.”

“Can this be true?” And the captain’s face grew very stern.

“Yes, sir, it is—and we can prove it by several boys,” put in Pepper.

“It would seem that Ritter is responsible for many wrongdoings,” mused
the master of the school.

“He’s a bad egg,” said Andy. “My own opinion is that he ought to be
expelled.”

“We’ll see about that later. Now tell me all you know.”

Andy and Pepper related what they had heard, and then several other boys
were called in.

An hour later Captain Putnam sent for Reff Ritter. The moment the bully
entered the office he knew that something had gone wrong.

“I have had some very bad reports about you, Ritter,” said the master
sternly. “I have a mind to expel you on the spot.”

“What for?” asked Ritter. His voice shook as he spoke.

“For doing some very wicked and mean things.”

“I—I haven’t done anything, sir.”

“You have—and it is useless for you to deny it.”

“Wh—what—er—do you mean?”

“I am speaking of how you took those blank cartridges and used them, and
of how you dosed Major Ruddy with those French headache powders.”

“Captain Putnam, I didn’t——”

“Stop, Ritter, don’t add falsehoods to your other faults. I am positive
that you are guilty. And as I said before, I have a good mind to expel
you here and now.”

“Don’t! Please don’t!” cried the bully, breaking down. “I—I didn’t mean
any harm—it was only done in fun, sir! I—er—I’ll never do such things
again! Please don’t expel me!”

“You might have killed Ruddy!”

“I—er—I thought the powders would make him a little sick—so he—er—he
wouldn’t want to compete with me—for I was afraid of being beaten. And
the blanks——”

“Made me take Greenwood’s office away from him. But he shall be
restored.”

“Please, please, Captain Putnam, don’t expel me!” groaned Ritter.

“Are you willing to apologize to Grenwood?”

“Yes, yes!”

“And to Ruddy?”

“Ye—yes.” It was like pulling teeth for Ritter to utter that last word.

“Ruddy’s folks may want to prosecute you criminally,” continued the
captain.

“Oh! I—I hope not.” And now Ritter grew deadly pale.

After that Captain Putnam gave the misguided youth a stern lecture and
then sent him to his room. Then Jack was called in.

“I don’t think I’ll make a complaint,” said the young major. “Perhaps,
after all, it was only a boyish prank. But I don’t want him to try such
a prank again.”

“It was a dastardly piece of business,” was Captain Putnam’s comment.

“I believe Ritter often acts before he thinks,” went on Jack.

“Then you want me to give him another chance?”

“Yes—as far as I am concerned.”

“This is generous of you, Ruddy.”

“I don’t want to be the means of casting Ritter out, sir. Maybe if he
was expelled, he’d go to the bad utterly.”

“That is true, too,—yet this school cannot afford to suffer from the
actions of such a fellow. But I will give him one more chance,”
concluded the master of Putnam Hall. And so the matter rested.

Andy was anxious to hear from the authorities, and one day came word
that the man named Levi had been caught. In his possession were the
medal and the ring taken from the acrobatic youth, so Andy got back what
belonged to Joe Nelson and himself, much to his satisfaction. Levi
followed the tramps to prison.

“Well, I am rather glad our running away is at an end,” said Jack, two
days after the return to Putnam Hall. “Although I did like the camping
out.”

“We are to go camping soon, Captain Putnam said so,” returned Pepper.
“We are to go out in true military style too,” he added. How the cadets
went out, and what sports and adventures they had, will be told in
another volume of this series, to be entitled “The Putnam Hall
Encampment; or, The Secret of the Old Mill.” In that book we shall meet
all our old friends again, and likewise some of their enemies.

“I don’t think running away did us any harm,” said Dale.

“It was fun,” put in Bob Grenwood, who had been restored to his position
as quartermaster of the school battalion.

“Just what I say,” declared Pepper.

And then the drum rolled for the evening parade and the cadets rushed
off to get their guns and swords; and here we will leave them, wishing
them well.


                                THE END


                      Books by Arthur M. Winfield

                         THE PUTNAM HALL SERIES

  THE PUTNAM HALL CADETS.
  THE PUTNAM HALL RIVALS.
  THE PUTNAM HALL CHAMPIONS.
  THE PUTNAM HALL REBELLION.

                    (Other volumes in preparation.)

                      THE FAMOUS ROVER BOYS SERIES

  THE ROVER BOYS AT SCHOOL.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE OCEAN.
  THE ROVER BOYS IN THE JUNGLE.
  THE ROVER BOYS OUT WEST.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE GREAT LAKES
  THE ROVER BOYS IN THE MOUNTAINS.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON LAND AND SEA.
  THE ROVER BOYS IN CAMP.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE RIVER.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE PLAINS.
  THE ROVER BOYS IN SOUTHERN WATERS.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE FARM.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON TREASURE ISLE.

                    (Other volumes in preparation.)

                       _12mo, Cloth, Illustrated.
                Price, per volume, 60 cents, postpaid._

                            GROSSET & DUNLAP
                         PUBLISHERS    NEW YORK


                      The Famous Rover Boys Series

                         By ARTHUR M. WINFIELD

No stories for boys’ Reading ever published have attained the immense
popularity of this new and extremely favorite series. They are full of
fun, fancy, enterprise, and adventure, and each volume is hailed with
delight by boys and girls everywhere.

12mo. Cloth. Handsomely printed and illustrated.

                 Price, 60 Cents per Volume. Postpaid.

  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE FARM
    Or, The Last Days at Putnam Hall
      The latest and best of all the Rover Boy Books.
  THE ROVER BOYS IN SOUTHERN WATERS
    Or, The Deserted Steam Yacht
      A trip to the coast of Florida.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE PLAINS
    Or, The Mystery of Red Rock Ranch
      Relates adventures on the mighty Mississippi River.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE RIVER
    Or, The Search for the Missing Houseboat
      The Ohio River is the theme of this spirited story.
  THE ROVER BOYS IN CAMP
    Or, The Rivals of Pine Island
      At the annual school encampment.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON LAND AND SEA
    Or, The Crusoes of Seven Islands
      Full of strange and surprising adventures.
  THE ROVER BOYS IN THE MOUNTAINS
    Or, A Hunt for Fame and Fortune
      The boys in the Adirondacks at a Winter camp.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE GREAT LAKES
    Or, The Secret of the Island Cave
      A story of a remarkable Summer outing; full of fun.
  THE ROVER BOYS OUT WEST
    Or, The Search for a Lost Mine
      A graphic description of the mines of the great Rockies.
  THE ROVER BOYS IN THE JUNGLE
    Or, Stirring Adventures in Africa
      The boys journey to the Dark Continent in search of their father.
  THE ROVER BOYS ON THE OCEAN
    Or, A Chase for a Fortune
      From school to the Atlantic Ocean.
  THE ROVER BOYS AT SCHOOL
    Or, the Cadets of Putnam Hall
      The doings of Dick, Tom, and Sam Rover.

              Always Ask for the Grosset & Dunlap Editions


                         The Putnam Hall Series

           Companion Stories to the Famous Rover Boys Series

                         By ARTHUR M. WINFIELD

Open-air pastimes have always been popular with boys, and should always
be encouraged, as they provide healthy recreation both for the body and
the mind. These books mingle adventure and fact, and will appeal to
every healthy and manly boy.

12mo. Handsomely printed and illustrated. Bound in cloth, with stampings
in Colors.

                 Price, 60 Cents per Volume. Postpaid.

  THE PUTNAM HALL CHAMPIONS
    Or, Bound to Win Out

In this new tale the Putnam Hall Cadets show what they can do in various
keen rivalries on the athletic field and elsewhere. There is one victory
which leads to a most unlooked-for discovery. The volume is full of fun
and good fellowship, calculated to make the Putnam Hall Series more
popular than ever.

  THE PUTNAM HALL CADETS
    Or, Good Times in School and Out

The cadets are lively, flesh-and-blood fellows, bound to make friends
from the start. There are some keen rivalries, in school and out, and
something is told of a remarkable midnight feast and a hazing that had
an unlooked-for ending.

  THE PUTNAM HALL RIVALS
    Or, Fun and Sport Afloat and Ashore

It is a lively, rattling, breezy story of school life in this country,
written by one who knows all about its ways, its snowball fights, its
baseball matches, its pleasures and its perplexities, its glorious
excitements, its rivalries, and its chilling disappointments. It is a
capitally written story which will interest boys vastly.

                     Other Volumes in Preparation.


                        The Rise in Life Series

                         By Horatio Alger, Jr.

These are Copyrighted Stories which cannot be obtained elsewhere. They
are the stories last written by this famous author.

12mo. Handsomely printed and illustrated. Bound in cloth, stamped in
colored inks.

                 Price, 60 Cents per Volume. Postpaid.

  THE YOUNG BOOK AGENT: Or, Frank Hardy’s Road to Success

A plain but uncommonly interesting tale of everyday life, describing the
ups and downs of a boy book-agent.

  FROM FARM TO FORTUNE: Or, Nat Nason’s Strange Experience

Nat was a poor country lad. Work on the farm was hard, and after a
quarrel with his uncle, with whom be resided, he struck out for himself.

  OUT FOR BUSINESS: Or, Robert Frost’s Strange Career

Relates the adventures of a country boy who is compelled to leave home
and seek his fortune in the great world at large. How he wins success we
must leave to the reader to discover.

  FALLING IN WITH FORTUNE: Or, The Experiences of a Young Secretary

This is a companion tale to “Out for Business,” but complete in itself,
and tells of the further doings of Robert Frost as private secretary.

  YOUNG CAPTAIN JACK: Or, The Son of a Soldier

The scene is laid in the South during the Civil War, and the hero is a
waif who was cast up by the sea and adopted by a rich Southern planter.

  NELSON THE NEWSBOY: Or, Afloat in New York

Mr. Alger is always at his best in the portrayal of life in New York
City, and this story is among the best he has given our young readers.

  LOST AT SEA: Or, Robert Roscoe’s Strange Cruise

A sea story of uncommon interest. The hero falls in with a strange
derelict—a ship given over to the wild animals of a menagerie.

  JERRY, THE BACKWOODS BOY: Or, The Parkhurst Treasure

Depicts life on a farm of New York State. The mystery of the treasure
will fascinate every boy. Jerry is a character well worth knowing.

  RANDY OF THE RIVER: Or, The Adventures of a Young Deckhand

Life on a river steamboat is not so romantic as some young people may
imagine. There is hard work, and plenty of it, and the remuneration is
not of the best. But Randy Thompson wanted work and took what was
offered. His success in the end was well deserved, and perhaps the
lesson his doings teach will not be lost upon those who peruse these
pages.


                       The Flag of Freedom Series

                       By CAPTAIN RALPH BONEHILL.

A favorite Line of American Stories for American Boys. Every volume
complete in itself, and handsomely illustrated. 12mo. Bound in cloth.
Stamped in Colors.

                 Price, 60 Cents per Volume. Postpaid.

  WITH CUSTER IN THE BLACK HILLS
    Or, A Young Scout among the Indians.

Tells of the remarkable experiences of a youth who, with his parents,
goes to the Black Hills in search of gold. Custer’s last battle is well
described. A volume every lad fond of Indian stories should possess.

  BOYS OF THE FORT
    Or, A Young Captain’s Pluck.

This story of stirring doings at one of our well-known forts in the Wild
West is of more than ordinary interest. The young captain had a
difficult task to accomplish, but he had been drilled to do his duty,
and does it thoroughly. Gives a good insight into army life of to-day.

  THE YOUNG BANDMASTER
    Or, Concert, Stage, and Battlefield.

The hero is a youth with a passion for music, who becomes a cornetist in
an orchestra, and works his way up to the leadership of a brass band. He
is carried off to sea and falls in with a secret service cutter bound
for Cuba, and while there joins a military band which accompanies our
soldiers in the never-to-be-forgotten attack on Santiago.

  OFF FOR HAWAII
    Or, The Mystery of a Great Volcano.

Here we have fact and romance cleverly interwoven. Several boys start on
a tour of the Hawaiian Islands. They have heard that there is a treasure
located in the vicinity of Kilauea, the largest active volcano in the
world, and go in search of it. Their numerous adventures will be
followed with much interest.

  A SAILOR BOY WITH DEWEY
    Or, Afloat in the Philippines.

The story of Dewey’s victory in Manila Bay will never grow old, but here
we have it told in a new form—as it appeared to a real, live American
youth who was in the navy at the time. Many adventures in Manila and in
the interior follow, give true-to-life scenes from this portion of the
globe.

  WHEN SANTIAGO FELL
    Or, the War Adventures of Two Chums.

Two boys, an American and his Cuban chum, leave New York to join their
parents in the interior of Cuba. The war between Spain and the Cubans is
on, and the boys are detained at Santiago, but escape by crossing the
bay at night. Many adventures between the lines follow, and a good
pen-picture of General Garcia is given.


                          The Frontier Series
     Stories of Early American Exploration and Adventure for Boys.

                       By CAPTAIN RALPH BONEHILL

The Historical Background Is Absolutely Correct.

12mo. Well printed and well illustrated. Handsomely bound in cloth,
stamped in Colors.

                 Price, 60 Cents per Volume. Postpaid.

  PIONEER BOYS OF THE GOLD FIELDS:
    Or, The Nugget Hunters of ’49

A tale complete in itself, giving the particulars of the great rush of
the gold seekers to California in 1849. In the party making its way
across the continent are three boys, one from the country, another from
the city, and a third just home from a long voyage on a whaling ship.
They become chums, and share in no end of adventures.

  PIONEER BOYS OF THE GREAT NORTHWEST:
    Or, With Lewis and Clark Across the Rockies

A splendid story describing in detail the great expedition formed under
the leadership of Lewis and Clark, and telling what was done by the
pioneer boys who were first to penetrate the wilderness of the northwest
and push over the Rocky Mountains. The book possesses a permanent
historical value and the story should be known by every bright American
boy.

  WITH BOONE ON THE FRONTIER
    Or, The Pioneer Boys of Old Kentucky

Relates the true-to-life adventures of two boys who, in company with
their folks, move westward with Daniel Boone. Contains many thrilling
scenes among the Indians and encounters with wild animals. It is
excellently told.


                       The Great Newspaper Series

                           By HOWARD R. GARIS

The incidents in these clever stories are taken from life. Beside being
a popular writer of books for boys’ reading, the author is a practised
journalist, and these stories will convey an absolutely true picture of
the workings of a great metropolitan newspaper in its entirety. Cheery,
sensible, healthy stories, all finely illustrated.

  FROM OFFICE BOY TO REPORTER
    Or, The First Step in Journalism
  LARRY DEXTER, REPORTER
    Or, Strange Adventures in a Great City
  LARRY DEXTER’S GREAT SEARCH
    Or, The Hunt for a Missing Millionaire

12mo. Handsomely printed and illustrated. Bound in cloth with decorative
cover.

                      Price, 60 Cents per Volume.


                        The Dick Hamilton Series

                           By HOWARD R. GARIS

A new series that is bound to become immensely popular. The author has
vivid powers of description and uses them to excellent effect. Will hold
the attention of the reader from start to finish.

  DICK HAMILTON’S FORTUNE
    Or, The Stirring Doings of a Millionaire’s Son

Dick was left a fortune by his mother, but before he could obtain
possession of the wealth, he had to fulfil several conditions. If he
failed he had to go live with a miserly uncle whom he despised. A volume
that is full of snap and “ginger.”

12mo. Cloth, with decorative cover. Well illustrated.

                            Price, 60 Cents.


                          The Enterprise Books

         Captivating Stories for Boys by Justly Popular Writers

The episodes are graphic, exciting, realistic—the tendency of the tales
is to the formation of an honorable and manly character. They are
unusually interesting, and convey lessons of pluck, perseverance and
manly independence.

12mo. Handsomely illustrated. Printed on excellent paper, and
attractively bound in colored cloth, stamped in Colors.

                 Price, 60 Cents per Volume. Postpaid.

  MOFFAT, WILLIAM D.
      THE CRIMSON BANNER.
        A Story of College Baseball

Books have been written about college baseball, but it remained for Mr.
Moffat, a Princeton man, to come forward with a tale that grips one from
start to finish. The students are almost flesh and blood, and the
contests become real as we read about them. The best all-around college
and baseball tale yet presented.

  GRAYDON, WILLIAM MURRAY
      CANOE BOYS AND CAMP FIRES.
        Or, Adventures in Winding Waters

Where is there a youth who does not love a gun, a fishing rod, a canoe,
or a roaring camp-fire? In this book we have the doings of several
bright and lively boys, who go on a canoeing trip on a winding stream,
and meet with many exciting happenings. The breath of the forest blows
through this tale, and every boy who reads it will be sorry that he was
not a member of the canoe club that took that never-to-be-forgotten
outing.

  HARKNESS, PETER T.
      ANDY, THE ACROBAT.
        Or, With the Greatest Show on Earth

Andy is as bright as a silver dollar. In the book we can smell the
sawdust, hear the flapping of the big white canvas and the roaring of
the lions, and listen to the merry “hoop la!” of the clown.

  FOSTER, W. BERT
      THE QUEST OF THE SILVER SWAN.
        A Tale of Ocean Adventure

A Youth’s story of the deep blue sea—of the search for a derelict
carrying a fortune. Brandon Tarr is a manly lad, and all lads will be
eager to learn whether he failed or succeeded in his mission.

  WHITE, MATTHEW, Jr.
      TWO BOYS AND A FORTUNE.
        Or, The Tyler Will

If you had been poor and were suddenly left a half-million dollars, what
would you do with it? Do you think the money would bring you happiness,
or would it bring only increased cares? That was the problem that
confronted the Pell family, and especially the twin brothers, Rex and
Roy. A strong, helpful story, that should be read by every boy and every
young man in our land.

  WINFIELD, ARTHUR M.
      BOB, THE PHOTOGRAPHER.
        Or, A Hero in Spite of Himself

Relates the experiences of a poor boy who falls in with a “camera
fiend,” and develops a liking for photography. After a number of
stirring adventures Bob becomes photographer for a railroad, and while
taking pictures along the line thwarts the plan of those who would
injure the railroad corporation and incidentally clears a mystery
surrounding his parentage.

  ROCKWOOD, ROY
      JACK NORTH’S TREASURE HUNT.
        A Story of South American Adventure

Jack is sent to South America on a business trip, and while there he
hears of the wonderful treasure of the Incas located in the Andes. He
learns also of a lake that appears and disappears. He resolves to
investigate, and organizes an expedition for that purpose. The book is a
thriller.

  BONEHILL, CAPTAIN RALPH
      LOST IN THE LAND OF ICE.
        Or, Daring Adventures Round the South Pole

An expedition is fitted out by a rich young man who loves the ocean, and
with him goes the hero of the tale, a lad who has some knowledge of a
treasure ship said to be cast away in the land of ice. On the way the
expedition is stopped by enemies, and the heroes land among the wild
Indians of Patagonia. When the ship approaches the South Pole it is
caught in a huge iceberg, and several of those on board become truly
lost in the land of ice.

                   GROSSET & DUNLAP,    -    NEW YORK



                          Transcriber’s Notes


--Copyright notice provided as in the original printed text—this e-text
  is public domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

--Moved promotional material to the end of the text.

--In the text versions, included italics inside _underscores_ (the HTML
  version replicates the format of the original.)





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