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Title: The Cadets of Flemming Hall
Author: Ray, Anna Chapin
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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                        ANNA CHAPIN RAY’S BOOKS.

                             --------------

“A quiet sly humor, a faculty of investing every-day events with a
dramatic interest, a photographic touch which places her characters
before the reader, and a high moral tone are to be remarked in Miss
Ray.”

                                                       —Detroit Tribune.

    HALF A DOZEN BOYS.
          12mo. Illustrated       $1.25

    HALF A DOZEN GIRLS.
          12mo. Illustrated        1.25

    IN BLUE CREEK CAÑON.
          12mo. Illustrated        1.25

    CADETS OF FLEMMING HALL.
          12mo. Illustrated        1.25

                  *       *       *       *       *

           For sale by all booksellers. Catalogues sent free
                           upon application.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                          T. Y. CROWELL & CO.,
                          NEW YORK AND BOSTON.


------------------------------------------------------------------------


[Illustration: THEIR GUESTS PROCEEDED TO SEAT THEMSELVES AS THEIR TASTES
SUGGESTED.—Page 15.]


------------------------------------------------------------------------


                               THE CADETS

                                   OF

                             FLEMMING HALL

                                   BY

                            ANNA CHAPIN RAY

          AUTHOR OF “HALF A DOZEN BOYS,” “HALF A DOZEN GIRLS,”
                         “IN BLUE CREEK CAÑON”



                     NEW YORK: 46 EAST 14TH STREET
                        THOMAS Y. CROWELL & CO.
                      BOSTON: 100 PURCHASE STREET


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                            COPYRIGHT, 1892,

                         BY T. Y. CROWELL & CO.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  _To_

                               “MY BOYS.”

               “You say you are a better soldier:
               Let it appear so; make your vaunting true,
               And it shall please me well.”
                                          SHAKESPEARE.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                PREFACE.

                               ----------


FROM the days of “Tom Brown at Rugby” to his more modern brothers, the
American “New Senior at Andover,” and the French “Straight On,” stories
of boy school life have gone on multiplying and still the tale is not
all told. Every school has its slightly different atmosphere, and calls
for its different historian. For that reason, I offer this picture of
life at Flemming Hall.

Though Irving Wilde and the doctor may not be portraits, still the
school life of each one of us has known one or more similar teachers,
from whom we have gained the inspiration to do broader, truer work,
inspiration which, although unconsciously received, perhaps
unconsciously given, has yet left its stamp upon all our later work in
life.

It is to the courtesy of one such teacher that I owe the Harrow song
with which my story closes. So far as I know, it has never been in
print, on this side of the Atlantic. My preface, too, would be
incomplete without an expression of my indebtedness to the boy friend
who criticised my athletics, and above all to the kindness of the
artist, Mr. Clephane, whose thorough and practical knowledge of cadet
life has been invaluable to me.

It is to be hoped that I have done no harm to the cause of Yale
athletics, in making use of the incident of Captain “Phil” Allen’s
daring leap, during the Yale-Atalanta race, in May, eighteen hundred and
ninety. I can claim no originality in the climax of my regatta; it is
the mere telling of an historical fact.

If, in spite of my long list of assistants, my boy readers can find a
single line of my story which shall bring me into closer touch with
them, I shall be more than satisfied.

          “TREMONT,”

     Third January, 1892.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CONTENTS.


              CHAPTER                                 PAGE

                  I. THE CADETS                         9

                 II. FLEMMING AND ITS WAYS             24

                III. LEON’S FIRST DAY AT FLEMMING      40

                 IV. THE BONIFACE REBELLION            57

                  V. WAR IN THE COLOR-GUARD            75

                 VI. VICTORIOUS NINETY-TWO             92

                VII. HOW LEON SPENT HIS               110
                       THANKSGIVING

               VIII. MAX MAKES A TREATY OF PEACE      124

                 IX. IN THE STORM                     142

                  X. THE HOLIDAYS                     163

                 XI. STANLEY CAMPBELL                 181

                XII. MIDWINTER REVELS                 198

               XIII. THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE          218

                XIV. SERGEANT-MAJOR ARNOLD            233

                 XV. ON THE LAKE                      247

                XVI. IN THE RAVINE                    259

               XVII. COMMENCEMENT                     279

              XVIII. FORWARD—MARCH!                   291


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  THE

                        CADETS OF FLEMMING HALL.

                             --------------



                               CHAPTER I.

                              THE CADETS.


“THERE comes the stage!”

At the word, four or five boys came leaping down the flight of steps and
joined the lad watching at the gate, as the old coach crept slowly up
the hill. The powerful, iron-gray horses, tired out with their long
climb, plodded onward, quite unconscious of the eager faces above them.
Suddenly a smooth brown head was popped out of the stage window,
followed by an arm that waved vigorously in answer to the ringing cheer
which greeted the owner’s coming.

“Hurrah, there’s Hal!”

The stage turned in under the arching gateway, and the horses,
quickening their pace as they reached their journey’s end, toiled up the
gravel driveway leading to the steps. Before they had fairly stopped,
out jumped a boy of sixteen, dressed in a gray uniform, resplendent with
brass buttons. He was immediately seized and surrounded by his
schoolmates, all talking at once.

“Glad to see you back, old boy!”

“So late I was afraid you had cut Flemming Hall for good!”

“Why didn’t you wait till Christmas, and done with it?”

“Where’ve you been all summer?”

“Lots of new fellows here and our new teacher; you just ought to see
him!”

Without deigning to reply to the shower of questions, as soon as he had
shaken hands all round, the new-comer turned back to the stage and
said,—

“Come, Leon, step out and show yourself.”

As he spoke, a boy two or three years younger than himself stepped down
from the stage and joined the group, a little shyly, it must be
confessed. But Harry laid a protecting hand on his shoulder, as he said
by way of introduction,—

“See here, you fellows, this kid is my brother, Leon Arnold. He’s a good
fellow, plucky enough to make up for his small size, and I know you’ll
like him. Now come on, one at a time, and I’ll tell Leon who you all
are, so you can start fair and square. This is Louis Keith,” he went on,
turning to a slender lad of fifteen whose dark olive skin and blue-black
hair were suggestive of Japan or China, rather than American birth; “we
call him Ling Wing, or Wing for short. He’s the dude of Flemming Hall,
and immensely proud of himself when he gets on his dress uniform. This
next one,” he added, pointing to a yellow-haired, roly-poly youth of
about the same age; “is Max Eliot. Look out for him; he’ll get you into
all sorts of mischief.”

“Don’t you worry, young Arnold; I’ll get you out again, and that’s more
than Hal does for his friends. Ask him about the night Max and Louis
went after the pies,” interrupted the tallest of the group, a
sixteen-year-old giant who was already past his six feet and was still
stretching upward, while his small sandy head and blue eyes looked
ridiculously boyish at the top of his manly figure.

“This, Leon,” his brother explained, without paying the slightest heed
to the interruption; “is Jack Howard, popularly known as Baby. He’s a
good fellow, but an awful drain on the family purse, for the tailor
always charges him double for his uniforms.”

During the laugh that greeted this sally, a young man drew near the
group, a well-built, athletic-looking young man dressed in army blue,
whose brown eyes brightened behind their spectacles as he put out his
hand, saying cordially,—

“Harry, I am glad to see you at last. We had almost given you up.”

Regardless of Leon and of his introductions, Harry whirled around
quickly and grasped the outstretched hand.

“Lieutenant Wilde! Are you really back here? How jolly!”

“Back again, as well as ever and delighted to be with my boys once more,
after six months of rest. They were all here but you, and the doctor and
I were beginning to be afraid you were not coming, after all. Is this
the brother you wrote about?”

“Oh, yes, this is Leon. Leon, Leon, this is Lieutenant Wilde,” he added,
eagerly pulling his brother by the sleeve.

Lieutenant Wilde looked at the lad with interest. Harry Arnold was one
of his favorites, and on that account he was the more curious to see
Harry’s younger brother. Very different were the two boys who were
standing there in the glare of the September sun, under their teacher’s
gaze. Harry’s broad shoulders, round face, quiet gray eyes and firm lips
seemed to tell of a more lasting strength than the thin, wiry figure of
Leon, his laughing, restless brown eyes and mobile mouth; but the boyish
hearts were the same in their quick, impulsive generosity, in their firm
adherence to a strict code of honor, and in their keen sense of fun.
Though apparently the more yielding of the two, Leon ruled his brother
with an iron rod, and in spite of the difference in age, he was
respected and admired by Harry, who willingly became his abject slave.

“And so you are Leon,” Lieutenant Wilde was saying. “I am glad to
welcome you to Flemming Hall, and I hope you may stay with us as long
and like us as well as Harry has done. The doctor is waiting for me now,
and I must go; but bring your brother to my room this evening at eight,
Harry; I want to have a talk with him, so I can tell into what class he
is to be put.”

“All right, sir.”

And as Lieutenant Wilde walked away, the boys all gave him the stiff
military salute.

“Well done, young Arnold,” remarked Jack Howard condescendingly. “You do
that very respectably for a new fellow.”

Leon laughed outright.

“That’s Hal’s work. He’s been coaching me all summer, so I shouldn’t
disgrace him when I came. It’s been nothing but _salute_, _present
arms_, _recover arms_ and all that, till I could do it to suit him.” And
the boy made a few quick turns with his tightly-rolled umbrella, in
place of a more dangerous weapon.

“There, Leon,” interposed his brother good-naturedly, “you’re telling
family secrets. Come and see our quarters now. Don’t go off, Paul,” he
continued, as one of the group started to turn away; “there’s room for
you all and more too, and I have some fine grub in my trunk.”

What boy could withstand such an invitation? With one consent, the lads
followed Harry as he led the way up the steps, into the broad hall and
up the oak stairs that wound along three sides of the wall.

“What room are you going to have?” inquired Max, as he brought up the
rear of the procession, with Harry’s bag in his hand.

“Number fifteen, of course,” said Harry, as he turned down a side hall.
“It’s the largest of the double rooms and I spoke for it long ago;
didn’t you know that? I shall take Leon in with me for a term, anyway.
Then, if he gets sick of me, he’s welcome to change. Come in, all of
you, and I’ll have the provisions out in a jiffy.”

While the boys were delaying below, the trunks had been brought
up-stairs, and now stood conveniently planted in the middle of the
floor. Harry and Leon each fell upon one of them, tugging at the straps
and impressively jingling their large bunches of keys, most of which, it
must be explained, were slipped on the rings for effect, since they and
their locks had long ago parted company, never to meet again. In the
meantime, their guests proceeded to seat themselves as their tastes
suggested, perching on any lofty point that presented itself. Jack
Howard arranged himself on the footboard of the bed, with his long legs
curled up until his knees nearly touched his chin; Louis and Max each
took a chair-back, while Paul Lincoln, a slender, brown-eyed,
rosy-cheeked fellow of seventeen, settled himself in the high
window-seat, with his feet on the table near by.

“Glad you’re going to have this room,” remarked Louis, as he passed a
caressing hand over the strap adorning his shoulder. “Max and I are
right across the hall. We couldn’t imagine who was coming in here, when
we saw the room was engaged. Nobody thought of you, for we supposed you
were booked for a single room.”

“So I was,” responded Harry, as he succeeded in opening his trunk and
tossed a pile of clothing out upon the floor; “but early in July father
decided to send Leon here, so I wrote to the doctor, and he said that
the Vernons weren’t coming back and we could have fifteen. Where are you
now? Oh, here you are!”

This apostrophe was addressed to a box of goodly proportions that soon
came to light, and was opened amid the admiring murmurs of the boys who
had learned, in past terms, to know and appreciate the boxes packed by
Mrs. Arnold.

“Your mother is a trump, Hal!” said Max, diving into the box to seize a
piece of cake in one hand and a chicken wing in the other. “I just wish
she’d show herself here. We fellows would make her our best bow,
wouldn’t we, Stan?” he continued, turning to a boy of fourteen who had
not yet spoken, though his rapidly changing expressions had shown him no
uninterested listener to the conversation.

While the boy addressed nodded in answer to the question, Harry
interrupted,—

“Now tell me all the news. Who is back of the old boys? Who is there
that’s new? Didn’t you say there was a new teacher?”

At the last question, Max rolled up his eyes and groaned. It was Jack
who answered,—

“Most of the old boys are back, and there are about twenty new ones,
none of them much account but my young cousin, Harold King. He must be
about Leon’s age, by the looks of him, and he’s a first-rate little
fellow, too. But this new teacher is the worst I’ve seen.”

“What’s his name?” inquired Harry, while he passed the box of sponge
cake to Stanley Campbell.

“Boniface. Luke is his first name, but the fellows call him Bony. He
deserves the name, too.”

“Looks as if he were made of three or four old skeletons patched
together,” remarked Max; and Louis added scornfully, with a satisfied
glance down at his own well-fitting uniform,—

“His clothes are loose where they ought to be tight, and tight where
they ought to be loose. I don’t see how the doctor ever came to pick up
such a man.”

“They say he knows most everything, though,” put in Stanley, rising to
the defence of the absent teacher.

“How old is he?” asked Leon.

“Not so old as he looks,” answered Paul; “but when you see him, you’ll
think he is about fifty, that he’s lost his last friend and never
expects to have another—”

“And doesn’t want any more, either,” Max went on. “He acts as if he
couldn’t bear us boys; not a bit like Lieutenant Wilde, but as if all he
wanted was to get his salary, without caring for us at all.”

“Show Hal the way he looks, Max,” said Jack, clasping his hands around
one of his knees, as he still sat on the footboard of the bed.

Max ran both hands through his soft yellow hair, until it stood rampant
and disorderly on his head. Then he raised his eyebrows, rolled up his
merry blue eyes and drew down the corners of his mouth into a mournful
curve.

“That’s just about it, Hal,” laughed Paul. “Max kept doing that this
morning when he was talking to us, and it was all we could do to keep
from shouting.”

“What does he teach?” Harry asked.

“Latin and Greek, in Mr. Winston’s place. Mr. Winston is going to New
York to study to be a doctor, and this man has come to take his classes.
He isn’t as cross as Mr. Winston used to be; but he’s sort of dismal,
perpetual mullygrubs, you know, and I don’t believe he’ll ever get much
out of the boys.” And Louis slipped down from his chair-back and moved
across the room to join Paul in the window.

“The seniors are all down on him,” added Max; “and most of the juniors
don’t like him. If many more of the boys get to hate him, I don’t
believe the doctor will keep him more than a term.”

“I wish the whole school would get after him, then,” remarked Paul
vindictively. “He uses words a mile long, but I don’t believe he knows
so very much, Stan; and even if he does, the boys won’t learn half as
much from him as they would from somebody that was a little less like a
walking funeral. For my part, I like a man that has some fun and life in
him, like Lieutenant Wilde.”

“Who is there that isn’t back?” asked Harry, while he began to unpack
his possessions, dropping his collars and cuffs in a pile on the floor,
and carefully placing his tennis racket and bat on the bed.

“All our class are back but Williams and Sothern,” answered Jack. “How
is it with the juniors, Stan?”

“There have five or six fellows dropped out of our class,” replied
Stanley; “Boothby and Allen and Crane and the Vernons; not much loss,
any of them except Crane, though. He was one of the best in ninety-two.”

Stanley’s remark ended in a most unmelodious croak, for he had just come
to the age when his voice was changing, and the feats that his throat
performed at times, surprised even its owner and covered him with
confusion. It was not so trying when, as now, he was alone with his
friends; but Stanley’s voice was no respecter of persons, and whether he
was in the class-room or on the parade-ground, in the midst of a Greek
exercise or giving some military command, his tone would suddenly change
from a manly bass to a piping falsetto, and poor Stanley would blush and
long to hide his diminished head in some safe retreat where he could not
see the knowing smiles and glances of his companions.

“Isn’t this a new racket?” asked Max, pouncing on it as soon as it
appeared.

“New in August,” answered Harry proudly. “I won it in a tournament at
Lenox. There were about a dozen of us played, and I took it in doubles.
Leon took the first prize in singles, though, and he was one of the
smallest that played.”

“Good for you, young Arnold,” said Paul. “You are the fellow for
Flemming, if you like that kind of thing. What can you do in football?”

“A little of everything,” replied Leon, with his head in his trunk as he
wrestled with a pile of books. “I’ve played centre rush for the little
fellows and quarter back for the large ones.”

“You ought to see him get over the ground, though,” remarked Harry, in a
confidential aside to Jack Howard. “He’s fine in an end play, and a
first-class man for almost any place you want to put him. What’s the
prospect for the season?” he went on, turning to Paul.

“The second team is a strong one, for the juniors have some splendid
men, and the new fellows are a good-looking set. We are only fair, now
Williams has gone and Brewster has strained his knee and can’t play.
Stan is to play quarter back on second, and Louis and Osborn are half
backs. There isn’t anybody in the second class to help us out, unless
your brother is there. Where are you going to be, Leon?”

“I don’t know yet; second, I think. Lieutenant Wilde is going to tell me
to-night,” answered Leon who, at the beginning of the football
discussion, had abandoned his unpacking and seated himself on the table
with his feet on the edge of his open trunk.

“I hope you will, for Hal seems to think you would be a good man, and
our first team is decidedly weak,” said Jack, uncoiling his long legs
and straightening his shoulders.

“How can I get first team, if I am only second class?” inquired Leon. “I
thought I could only get on second.”

“We used to divide up according to our playing, but that let the games
all end the same way. Then we took juniors and seniors against firsts
and seconds, and that wasn’t much fairer, for it put all the little
fellows against the big ones. Now we have juniors and firsts against
seniors and seconds, so it’s a little more even. We have our great game
of the year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and we begin training
next week. I’m captain of the first, and if you are a good man, I want
you, even if you are small.” And Paul smiled benignly down upon his new
schoolmate, with the air of being vastly older and wiser and taller than
he.

“Don’t go, Paul,” urged Harry, hospitably waving his hand towards the
box on the table.

“Needs must when Bony drives,” sighed Paul. “He has given out an endless
lesson in Homer for to-morrow, and I must get it, or be disgraced at
once and forever. I’ll see you at supper-time.” And he strolled away, to
be followed almost immediately by Jack and Stanley Campbell who was the
head-boy in the junior class.

Max and Louis, who were not afflicted with too much conscience in the
matter of lessons, remained in the Arnolds’ room, to watch the unpacking
and to talk over any bits of school gossip which had been omitted, their
summer frolics and their winter plans.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER II.

                         FLEMMING AND ITS WAYS.


FAR up among the hills, a short distance back from the Connecticut
River, is the little village of Hilton. It is the smallest of farming
towns, only one or two long streets shaded with tall, arching elms and
bushy maples, and bordered with simple, old-fashioned houses clustered
around the gray stone church and square town hall. At one end of the
main street is the low building, also of stone, that serves for store
and post-office, one corner being given up to the business of
government, while the rest of the room is filled with a motley
collection of dry goods, groceries and confectionery temptingly set
forth in glass cases on the counter, or ranged on the rough pine shelves
which line the walls. This building and the little village hotel that
stands next it, are the favorite resorts of all the old farmers of the
region, for whom the daily trip to the mail furnishes the main
excitement of life. Although the hour for the coming of the stage and
for the opening of the mail has never varied within the memory of that
oldest inhabitant without whom any well-regulated village would be
incomplete; on one pretext or another, the old men come driving up to
the door fully an hour ahead of time, and are apparently much surprised
to find that they are too early and must wait. In a leisurely fashion,
they get down from their mud-bespattered wagons, tie their horses to the
old posts whose uneven sides bear the marks of many an equine tooth, and
go shuffling into the hotel whence they presently emerge, wiping their
lips on their checkered shirt sleeves. Then they settle themselves in
the store, where they while away the hour of waiting by puffing at their
pipes and discussing the weather, the crops and other matters of local
interest, with an indolent disregard of the fact that, at home, their
wives and daughters are busy with many a task which they might help to
lighten.

Into this peaceful community there came, some twelve years ago, the
startling news that buildings were to be at once erected for a large
school for boys; and before the sluggish minds of the farmers had
grasped that main fact, the work was well under way. For a time the busy
laborers and the fast-rising brick walls bade fair to rival the post
office as an attraction for the villagers; but as the buildings drew
near completion and became an old story, the farmers returned to their
former seats in the hard arm-chairs and on the cracker-barrels of the
store, and thought no more about the new school-house, save when some
group of gray-coated lads stepped directly into their pathway.

This school was Flemming Hall, “a military and classical school for
boys,” as ran the circular. It was an excellent school in all respects,
and under the successful management of Dr. Flemming, its founder, it had
gained so high a reputation for systematic work and discipline as to be
overcrowded with applicants for admission. For this reason, the doctor
was able to select his boys with care and, in general, the Flemming
cadets were an honorable, manly set of fellows whose work was well done,
and whose fun and mischief were of a pure, gentlemanly sort. To be sure,
an occasional black sheep would find his way into the flock; but the
moral tone of the place was good, and the real work of the school was
thoroughly and intelligently carried on.

Dr. Flemming was the right man for the head of a boys’ school; he not
only had a fine, well-trained mind, but over and above all that, he was
genuinely fond of his boys and anxious to develop the best possibilities
that lay in each one of them. In this work he was ably seconded by his
nephew, Irving Wilde, who, at the close of his course at West Point, had
resigned from active service, in order to take charge of the military
training in his uncle’s school. Though still very young, during the
three years he had been at Flemming Hall, Lieutenant Wilde had gained a
strong influence over the lads in his care, who adored him for his
quiet, even discipline during school hours, as well as for his apparent
interest in all their games and sports, in which he often had a share.

To Irving Wilde, his pupils were no mere thinking-machines, to be fed
with so much material for their daily allowance. Instead of that, he
watched and studied each lad separately, never content until he had
mastered his subject and understood every boyish nature with all its
vague, restless ambitions, its faults and its chances for a good and
useful manhood. The boys never knew just how it was, but they soon
ceased to be surprised when Lieutenant Wilde seemed to divine their
thoughts, and spoke some word of encouragement for their nobler aims, or
let fall a quiet remark of disapproval for some wild, boyish freak. It
was impossible for them to resent any interference on the part of a man
who was not only an excellent teacher, but a champion in all athletic
sports as well, and always ready to join them in their expeditions up
and down the valley and over the hills. Lieutenant Wilde was such good
company that the boys could not afford to displease him, for fear he
would go with them no more, and, reasoning in this way, the lads vied
with one another to carry out his wishes until his will had become law
for nearly all of his pupils. A more selfish man might have abused this
power, a less conscientious man might have regarded it as of little
importance; but Irving Wilde did neither. On the contrary, he did his
best to increase it and to devote it, not to his own good, but to the
best interests of the boys and of the school. A low fever and a slow
convalescence had forced him to give up his work for a few months, and
the woe of the boys at his going away was only consoled by the joy of
his reappearance, at the time that our story opens.

Of the two other teachers, Herr Linden was an elderly German of majestic
proportions who contented himself, as far as the boys were concerned,
with instilling into them a generous amount of the French and German
tongues. That done, and to his credit it must be distinctly stated that
it was well done, he went his own way in calm unconcern of his pupils
who, on their side, accepted his labors as a necessary evil and thought
no more about him outside of school hours.

But the new teacher, Luke Boniface, though a very common type in
northern New England, was a foreign element at Flemming Hall. The son of
a poor country minister, he had early made up his mind to work his own
way through college and fit himself for the life of a missionary to
India. With this end kept constantly in view, the years of his boyhood
had been years of hard labor and stern self-denial. By working through
all his vacations, and occasionally giving up one year of study, in
order to earn enough money to carry him through the next, he had toiled
his way along until, at the age of twenty-eight, he had just completed
the undergraduate course in a small inland college. Then more money must
be had before he could take his special professional course, and to Luke
Boniface it seemed that a year of teaching was the best and easiest way
to gain that end. Some months of this work in a little country school, a
few years before, gave him the right to call himself experienced; and
with the help of friends, he asked and obtained the position of
classical teacher at Flemming Hall, although his only practical
knowledge of boys was that gained from teaching the overgrown striplings
whose school life was limited to a few weeks of every winter, and the
chubby, pinafored urchins of the A B C class. The boys at Flemming
filled him with terror when they assembled before him, on the first
morning of the term. So elegant and worldly-wise were they that, in
comparison, he felt himself a mere child in their presence. His
embarrassment made him appear even more awkward and constrained than
ever, and long before the hour was over, he heartily wished himself away
from Flemming Hall once more. Could he go through with it? His heart
almost failed him; but Luke Boniface was not the man to abandon the set
purpose of years, in the face of a roomful of rollicking boys. He would
remain in his place and conquer them. During the summer he had often
dreamed of the coming year, of the strong influence for good which he
would exert over the boys, of the popularity he would gain. Now, as he
glanced about the room, he instinctively tried to hide his large feet
under his chair, and to pull down the sleeves of his best coat, which
all of a sudden seemed to him to be pitiably mean and shabby. His years
of toil and care had drawn anxious lines on the face that now flushed a
deep, dark red, as he caught sight of Max who was roguishly imitating
him for the benefit of his mates. The young man raised his eyebrows, and
pressed firmly together his lips which had shaped themselves into a
melancholy droop. It is a true old saying that “God makes the other
features, man makes his own mouth.” In the midst of his petty anxieties
and struggles, Luke Boniface had found neither time nor disposition to
be genial; to him, life was all a hard, stern reality, and his mouth
showed that he felt it to be so. Taken all in all, he was a man to be
honored and respected rather than loved, sensitive and, like many
sensitive people, fond of pulling himself up by the roots occasionally,
to inspect his growth; conscientious and anxious for the good of those
around him, nevertheless he was ill at ease, cold and forbidding in his
manner to the very persons whom he most desired to approach. Moreover,
as has been said, he had little knowledge of boys and their ways and
small desire to increase that knowledge, though he regarded them as a
class of young savages whom it was his duty to try to improve, just as
one day he hoped to work among the heathen of India.

The large grounds of Flemming Hall lay a little to the south of the
town. Turning abruptly from the street, the drive wound up a steep
hillside to the group of brick buildings on the level ground at the top.
From there, a magnificent view opened out in every direction. Old
Flemming, as it was called, the dormitory where the boys all lived,
fronted towards the west, and, standing on its broad piazza, one could
look far away into the Green Mountains, beyond the river whose gray
water shone here and there through the trees below. At the south the
hills rose, range on range, some thickly wooded, others more open and
dotted with white farmhouses, long, rambling barns, and herds of black
and white cattle grazing over the smooth pastures. In the other
direction lay the little village nestled among its trees, and beyond
that, the mountains, blue and misty in the distance. Directly in front,
the smooth green lawn sloped away to the street, and half-way down the
hill was the pretty red cottage where Dr. Flemming lived with his wife
and little daughter. At the right of the dormitory rose the square tower
on the recitation hall; at the left was the armory, with the stars and
stripes flying above it. Back of the armory was the much-trodden
parade-ground, and beyond lay the great fields given up to baseball,
football and tennis, for Dr. Flemming believed that boys needed plenty
of out-door exercise and that, indulged in moderately, such exercise was
a help rather than a hindrance to the lessons. Having once made sure of
sound bodies, by a careful selection of his teachers and a no less
careful oversight of their work, he would succeed in developing the
sound minds to put into them. So well did he carry out his ideas that
there was nearly as much rivalry in the class-rooms as in the games, and
it was by no means uncommon to find the same boy excelling in both
connections.

As Leon followed his brother into the great dining-room, that first
night, he glanced curiously up and down the room to see his new
companions. The seventy or more cadets who were grouped about the four
long tables, looked so much alike, in their gray uniforms, that he had
some difficulty in recognizing the half-dozen of them to whom Harry had
introduced him, in the afternoon. But soon Jack Howard’s tall figure
caught his eye, and the next moment, he found himself sitting down
opposite Max Eliot who was casting significant glances towards the far
corner of the room. Leon followed the direction of his eyes and saw a
young man with a discouraged, anxious face and a head of bristly brown
hair, seated at the upper end of the table diagonally across from the
one at which they were taking their places.

“That’s Bony,” whispered Max, leaning across the table. “Isn’t he fine?”

Leon gave a nod of assent.

“Hope I don’t get at his table,” Max went on, in the same tone; “his
face would sour the milk on the oatmeal, mornings, and I don’t want to
have my appetite destroyed in that way.”

“You look as if you were pining away, Max,” remarked Leon’s right-hand
neighbor.

“So I am,” responded Max, with a pretended sigh. “You could pack my
appetite in a pill-box, and put on the cover. By the way, Alex, this is
Leon Arnold, Hal’s brother. Arnold, this fellow is Alex Sterne, a bright
and shining light of the senior class.”

Leon turned slightly, to be met by two blue eyes which gazed so squarely
and steadily into his own that they would have had a look almost of
defiance, had they not been softened by the mouth below them. There was
an air of candor and truthfulness about the lad, about his broad, open
forehead and the clear eyes which looked into Leon’s, that gave the
new-comer a sudden feeling that this was a friend to be trusted. Moved
by this attraction, he said, with a laugh,—

“Max doesn’t seem to fancy the new teacher.”

“He’s not so bad,” answered Alex, as he scientifically speared an olive.
“He isn’t pretty to look at, I know; but he would be well enough in
class, if the fellows would let him alone. Have you seen the doctor?”

“Not yet.”

“You’ll like him; all the boys do. He’s a good man, and Lieutenant Wilde
is another.”

“I’ve seen him,” said Leon; “and he told us to come to his room
to-night. Where does he live, at the doctor’s?”

“No; he’s down there now, but he rooms here and sits at the head of this
table. There’s always a squabble among the boys, to see who shall sit
near him. He’s so jolly that he keeps them in a roar, all meal-times. Is
this the first time you have been away to school?”

Leon modestly confessed his inexperience.

“Well, Flemming is a good place to come to, and I know you’ll like it.
You start at an advantage,” Alex went on, in a lower voice; “in being
Harry Arnold’s brother. Everybody here likes Hal, and if you’re the
fellow you look, they’ll like you too, provided you keep out of
mischief.” And he turned away from Leon, and began to talk with the boy
on the other side of him.

“I saw you chumming with Alex Sterne at supper to-night,” remarked
Harry, as the boys were starting for Lieutenant Wilde’s room. “How did
you like him?”

“Immensely,” responded Leon, with unexpected fervor.

“You’re all right there,” answered Harry; “Alex is one of the finest
fellows at Flemming. He’s older than most of us, nineteen, and adjutant
of our battalion, the truest, steadiest, most all-round sort of fellow
we’ve ever had here. I don’t believe he has an enemy in the school, and
that’s more than anybody else can say. I’ll tell you more about him some
day; but this is Lieutenant Wilde’s room.”

A cordial “come in” answered Harry’s knock, and the boys entered the
bright, attractive room, half bedroom, half study. Lieutenant Wilde
tossed his magazine on the table.

“It’s you, is it, Arnold?” he said, as he came forward to greet the
boys. “And I am glad to see you too, Leon. Sit down by the fire; I have
it for looks, not warmth.” And he drew up two or three chairs before the
ruddy grate that lent an air of cosy comfort to the chilly September
evening.

“We may as well proceed to business at once,” remarked the young man,
when they were seated. “Some of the other boys may be in soon, and I
want to find out what Leon knows, while we are alone.” And in a
pleasant, off-hand way, he began to question the boy about his past
work, while Harry amused himself with the magazine that Lieutenant Wilde
had laid aside. The examination was a most informal one, and was over
and done before Leon had time to be frightened.

“Your brother will easily go into the second,” Lieutenant Wilde said
then, as he turned back to Harry. “And now tell me what you have been
about, all summer.”

Harry was just entering on an account of his doings, when a knock
announced the arrival of Alex Sterne and Jack Howard, who were closely
followed by Max Eliot and Stanley Campbell; for Lieutenant Wilde’s room
was a favorite resort with the boys, and it had long been his habit to
hold a sort of open court in it, on every Wednesday and Saturday
evening. Though any and all of the cadets were welcome, it was Harry and
his half-dozen intimates who were most often to be met with, gathered
around the fire, or walking up and down the long room, now talking over
their lessons, now planning some holiday excursion or, quite as often,
listening meekly to a timely little lecture from Lieutenant Wilde, for
some thoughtless, mischievous freak, too slight to be brought before the
doctor’s notice.

This evening was the first Saturday of the new year, and with one
consent the boys grouped themselves about their teacher, waiting to hear
of the way he had spent his time during the six months that he had been
away from them. It was all so pleasant and sociable, so unlike the usual
relation between teacher and pupil that, for a time, Leon was content to
sit quiet and listen to the spirited narrative of Lieutenant Wilde, to
his lively description of the quaint little southern town where he had
gone for rest and change, of his summer camping tour in the Yellowstone
Park, where he caught his fish for dinner in one stream and cooked them
in the boiling waters of the next one, only a few paces distant. But it
was impossible to feel himself an outsider long, for Lieutenant Wilde
constantly turned the conversation in his direction, in such a winning,
friendly way that the lad was soon as much at home as any of the others;
and long before “lights out” had sounded, he had mentally sworn
allegiance to this young man who joked and laughed like a boy, yet never
failed to keep a certain quiet, kindly dignity of his own which made the
lads feel that, although he was a real friend and companion, still he
was never to be trifled with or opposed.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER III.

                     LEON’S FIRST DAY AT FLEMMING.


“SAY, Hal, how does it look?” asked Leon eagerly.

It was early the next morning, so early that Harry was still dozing
between the sheets; but Leon stood before the square mirror, trying in
vain to get a glimpse of his own back and legs which, for the first
time, were clothed in cadet gray. The suit he had worn the day before
was tossed carelessly across the foot of his bed, and for half an hour
he had been devoting all his attention to his toilet, then turning and
twisting himself before the glass, to assure himself that the new
uniform was to his liking. The change of costume was becoming to the
lad. He already looked more the man and the soldier than he had done the
evening before, and thanks to Harry’s persevering efforts during the
summer, he carried himself with the ease of an old cadet, rather than
the conscious awkwardness of the raw recruit, first donning his
regimentals. But after he had inspected himself in every possible
position, and gone through a sort of rudimentary drill of salutes and
facings, he began to wish for the admiration of some disinterested
person, so he remorselessly waked up his brother. At the third call,
Harry rolled over sleepily.

“Ha-um!” he remarked, with a vigorous yawn.

“Wake up, Hal!” Leon implored him. “I want you to see if I’m all right.”

“Guess so.” And Harry turned back and composed himself to sleep once
more, without bestowing a glance on his brother.

Leon crossed the room and shook him, for he felt that this was the time,
if ever, when he had a right to demand fraternal advice and approval;
but Harry only pulled the blanket over his head and sleepily murmured,—

“Go ’way.”

“Won’t you?” said Leon. “Well, we’ll see about it.” And filling a bath
sponge with water, he cautiously approached the bed, with one hand
suddenly twitched away the blanket and with the other dropped the sponge
directly into Harry’s face. This time his efforts were crowned with
success. Harry sat up spluttering and wrathful.

“Confound you, Leon!” he shouted, as he hurled the dripping sponge
straight at his brother, who dodged just in time to let it drop
harmlessly on the floor behind him. “Why can’t you let a fellow sleep?
What are you waking me up for, in the middle of the night?”

“’Tisn’t; it’s morning,” returned Leon coolly; “and besides, I wanted
you to see whether I’d put on my rig the way it ought to go. I knew
you’d hate to have me appear with my coat on hind side before. Just cast
your eye over me and see if I’m all here.”

“Did you get up at this time in the morning, just for this?” And Harry
surveyed his brother with a scorn which soon changed to ill-concealed
approval, as his eye rested on the trim, straight figure before him.

“You do carry it off better than most of the new fellows, Leon; that’s a
fact. You must button your coat, though, and just pull up your left cuff
a little, for it shows too much. There, that’s all right.”

“Then I do look well?” asked Leon, blushing like a girl at his own
vanity.

“Yes, you’re O.K., only don’t let your finery make a Miss Nancy of you.
Now, do let me go to sleep. It’s a good hour to breakfast time.”

“All right; I’m going out to explore.” And catching up his cap, he
departed, leaving Harry to resume his nap.

Fifteen minutes were enough to show him the grounds and the outside of
the buildings. On his way back to Old Flemming he met Stanley and Alex,
who were just starting for a walk.

“You’re early, young Arnold,” Alex called, as he drew near. “If you’ve
nothing better to do, come with us.”

“Where are you bound?” asked Leon, secretly longing to accept the
invitation, but afraid he might be intruding.

“Only just to the village and back,” answered Stanley, pushing back his
cap to let the cool morning air strike his forehead. “Come on.”

Leon accepted this repeated invitation, and the three boys tramped away
up the road, which stretched along between two stone walls overgrown
with blackberry vines and the dainty sprays of the Virginia creeper.

“What do you do here, Sundays?” asked Leon, stooping to break off a
top-heavy spray of golden-rod that was lazily supporting itself against
a rock.

“A little of everything,” answered Stanley. “Sunday is an off day and we
aren’t kept nearly so close. We don’t really begin work till to-morrow
morning, anyway.”

“When does drill begin?” inquired Leon.

“You new fellows will be put right at it,” Alex replied. “You’ll be
divided up into squads and put in charge of the sergeants till you can
salute and march and manage a gun without knocking the next fellow’s
head off. After that, you can drill with the battalion.”

“It’s no end of fun to see the new fellows on drill, for they make such
work of the ‘military goose-step,’ and when they first get their rifles,
they’re all the time dropping them on their own toes, in _parade rest_
and _order arms_,” added Stanley. “We used to go over to watch them, but
it rattled them so badly that Lieutenant Wilde made us stop.”

“What is he?” asked Leon. “What’s his rank, I mean?”

“He ranks lieutenant in the army,” said Alex; “but here he’s commandant
and major of our battalion. You’ll get on to the ranking soon,” he added
encouragingly.

“Oh, Hal’s told me some of it, and he’s given me ever so much drill this
summer, so he said that, after a day or two, I could go right into
battalion drill, with the other fellows of my class.”

“Good thing you have a brother,” said Stanley. “Most of us have to learn
it all after we get here, and precious slow work it is, too.”

“Hullo, what’s this?” exclaimed Leon suddenly, as he glanced up the road
ahead of them. “This thing coming looks like a scarecrow out for a
morning stroll.”

“That’s one of Hilton’s characters,” answered Alex. “He’s kind of a
half-witted fellow that lives in the woods north of the village. You
must go to see him some day, for he’s delighted to have us boys call on
him, and his cabin, where he lives all alone, is well worth the seeing.
Just bow to him when you meet him; it pleases him immensely.”

The subject of the conversation was hurrying along towards them, with a
curiously uncertain, rocking gait. The huge felt hat that covered his
head and rested on his shoulders behind, was pushed off from his
forehead, showing long, lank wisps of yellowish white hair; and the
ragged gray coat whose tatters were fluttering airily in the morning
breeze, made him look so much like what Leon had called him, “A
scarecrow out for a morning stroll,” that one felt moved to peep under
his coat for the supporting cross-sticks and straw which went to make up
his body. Trudging along by his side was a mite of a boy with a bushy
thatch of tousled flaxen hair, and dressed in a jacket and trousers of
blue checked gingham. The strange pair seemed to be well-tried friends,
for the urchin was chattering earnestly to his venerable companion who
looked down at him with a simpering, vacant expression, as if only half
understanding the simple talk of his little comrade.

“Who’s the boy?” asked Leon, after watching them for a moment, in amused
silence.

“Cappy Toomsen, short for Caspar,” said Alex. “It isn’t a cheerful name,
I confess; but it doesn’t seem to worry Master Cappy, for a more jolly
little imp never lived. He is a great admirer of old Jerry, and the two
are off somewhere together, almost every day.”

“How do? Fi’ day. New boy. Who he?” remarked Jerry, planting himself in
their path at this moment, and pointing at Leon who flushed under his
broad stare.

“Hullo, Jerry!” responded Stanley, nodding good-naturedly to the old
man. “This is Leon Arnold, a new boy at Flemming.”

“Arno’, Leon Arno’,” said the old fellow, bobbing his head wisely.
“Jerry likes Flemming boy!”

“Well he may,” remarked Stanley, as he went on. “He gets many an old
coat and bit of money out of them.”

“The Hilton people call him Flemming’s ragbag,” added Alex. “He goes
round, most of the time, dressed in our cast-off uniforms. Jerry always
insists on being introduced to every new boy that comes to Flemming, and
he has an endless memory for names and faces, so he’ll never forget you,
you may be sure.”

Quarter of an hour later, the boys went in to breakfast. At the
dining-room door, Leon was waylaid by his brother.

“Where in the world have you been, Leon?” he said eagerly. “I’ve been
looking all round for you, to tell you that word just came up from the
doctor’s that we’re to dine there to-night. Isn’t that jolly? It’s
because you’re a new fellow, with a brother among the old boys. He
always invites them.”

At breakfast, the new seats for the term were assigned, and Leon found
himself between Stanley Campbell and Mr. Boniface, with Max opposite
him. Farther down the table were Alex and Louis, while Harry was across
the room, next to Lieutenant Wilde. As the boys took their seats, Max
introduced Leon to still another table-companion, George Winslow by
name, who glanced up long enough to nod indifferently, then began to eat
his breakfast with a perfect unconcern. Leon watched him with an
instinctive feeling of repulsion, for he formed a complete contrast to
the genial good-nature of the other boys around him; and his low, square
head with its cold, steel-gray eyes and heavy under jaw, was as little
agreeable as was his habit of taking in his food in stolid silence, and
with an utter disregard for the needs of those about him. He was still
deliberately turning over the pile of muffins, to select the brownest
and lightest, when he caught Leon’s stare of amused astonishment. He
paused long enough to give back one look of defiance which made Leon
hastily drop his eyes, while his face flushed as if he had been struck a
blow. That one look told Leon, plainly as words, that here he had found
an enemy. When he glanced up again, Stanley was giving an account of
their meeting with Jerry.

“Jerry’s a rare specimen,” commented Max, as with a fine
unconsciousness, he slipped his hand under that of George Winslow, and
brought away the last muffin on the plate. “Oh, beg your pardon; were
you after that?” he asked innocently, then continued, “You just wait
till you get inside the church this morning, you’ll see more odd people
there than you ever supposed were in the world.”

When the long line of boys was marshalled into the little church, Leon
was forcibly reminded of the remark which Max had made at breakfast for,
accustomed as he was to the city and its ways, the place and people
filled him with amazement. The church itself was a low, square room in
which only the middle seats faced the minister, while along each side of
the room were rows of pews slightly raised and facing each other, thus
giving their occupants a fine opportunity to see everything that
concerned the congregation. The warm September sun streamed in at the
unshaded windows, making the two tall stoves with their long stretches
of rusty pipe seem quite unnecessary. Huddled together in the corner,
around the wheezy little organ, sat the half-dozen singers, while at the
foot of the low pulpit lay a shaggy yellow dog with one eye, who had
followed the minister up the aisle and taken his place with an air of
calm assurance which told, as plainly as words could have done, that his
appearance at church was as regular as the coming of Sunday itself. The
congregation, except for the Flemming boys, was limited to a few women
whose pleasant, gentle faces looked strangely overpowered by their vast
and top-heavy bonnets, while here and there was a subdued-looking farmer
in his ill-fitting suit of Sunday clothes, or a freckled, sun-burned
child. The boys of the school occupied the seats along the left side of
the room; and from his seat between Harry and Louis, Leon glanced about,
now at the tin basins hung by wires underneath the joints in the
stove-pipe, now at old Jerry who, from his seat by the door, was lending
a vacant attention to all that was passing, now at the dog who seemed
impressed with the solemn nature of his surroundings, and lay quiet,
only scratching his head, now and again, with a deprecating, apologetic
air.

“I seen them boys laughin’ at Bose, ma,” he heard a sharp-faced child
say to her portly companion, as they were coming out of church.

“More shame to ’em, Sairy, to hev their thoughts on sech carnal things!
But,” added the good dame severely, as she glared down at her little
daughter, “ef your own eyes had ’a’ b’en where they’d ought to be, you
wouldn’t ’a’ seen it.”

“That dog is another of Hilton’s characters,” Louis was explaining, as
the boys walked away down the road. “He was brought up from his
puppyhood to go to church, and he behaves better than most of the
children.”

“He has the advantage over the kids though,” put in Max from behind,
where he was walking with Harry. “Bose can go to sleep when the sermon
gets too dry, and they aren’t allowed to. I saw old Mrs. Wilson wake up
her little girl six and a half times to-day, Wing.”

“Which was the half-time?” asked Leon.

“The time she poked her and she didn’t wake up,” responded Max promptly,
while the boys laughed at his mathematics.

So the nonsense ran on until the boys reached the steps of Old Flemming.
There they separated, Harry, Stanley and Louis going to their rooms to
write their home letters before the hour for dinner, while Alex, with
Max and Leon, sat down on the steps in the sunshine.

“Come take a walk, Max?” asked a gay voice behind them.

Max sprang up at once, exclaiming,—

“Hullo, Frank; where’ve you been all the morning?”

“In my room; I didn’t feel just right, so I cut church. Now I want to
stretch myself a little. Come on.” And as the two boys walked away, Leon
heard the new-comer ask,—

“Who’s the new fellow?”

“Hal Arnold’s brother.”

“Any good?”

By this time, they were too far away for Leon to catch their words, but
he sat staring after them, as if dazzled by the rich, dark beauty of the
stranger. When they were out of sight, he turned back to Alex.

“Who’s that?” he asked eagerly.

Alex, too, had been watching the boys, while something like a frown
gathered on his face.

“That’s Frank Osborn,” he answered. “I don’t see what makes Max so wild
to be with him.”

“Why not?” inquired Leon, surprised at his change of tone.

“Because he’s the worst friend Max can have,” said Alex abruptly. “He’s
a Southerner with plenty of money and brains; but he’s no dig and he
gets Max into scrapes the whole time. He’s not really bad, only a little
fast, and getting worse; but he laughs at Max for being slow and makes
him think it’s manly to just steer clear of being expelled. He’s not
ugly, though, like Winslow, the fellow you saw at breakfast. He’s
nothing but a bully, and you don’t want to have much to do with him. But
you have Hal to look out for you, and he’s steady as a deacon, so you’re
all right.”

The shadows were stretching out in long lines from the western hills, as
Leon turned away from the mirror after a prolonged season of prinking,
and rather nervously followed his brother down the stairs, out of the
house and down the hill to the doctor’s door. In spite of Harry’s
delight at the invitation, Leon was dreading the prospect of dining with
the master of Flemming. However, such an invitation was not to be
refused, and he was soon being ushered into a cosy parlor, where a
little girl of six was sitting alone in front of a crackling fire. She
was a dainty maiden, with a tangle of long brown curls and a pair of
roguish brown eyes that shone with excitement, as she came bounding
forward to meet Harry, with a patient-looking gray cat so doubled up
over her arm that its lank tail and pointed ears met below.

“Hullo, Gyp!” exclaimed Harry, catching her up, as she reached him.

“Hullo!” she answered, returning his caress as a matter of course. “Papa
told me to stay here till you came, so I could call him d’reckly. I kept
Mouse for company, you see.”

“Is this the same old Mouse?” inquired Harry, laughing. “I thought the
rats ate her up, long ago.”

“No, course not,” responded Gyp, in a tone of contempt for Harry’s
mistaken idea. “Mouse _āted_ all the rats up; that’s the way ’twas. Now
I’ll call papa.” And she vanished, carrying the long-suffering Mouse
head downward in her arms.

“Gyp is a great institution,” laughed Harry. “She and Mouse make no end
of fun for us, and she’s as bright as Mouse is stupid. That cat must
have been damaged in her infancy, I know.”

At this point, Gyp reappeared, triumphantly leading by the hand a
gentleman whom she introduced as “papa.” Dr. Flemming might have been
forty or forty-five years old, and though his tall, slight figure and
thin face with its silky, yellow moustache and deep-set blue eyes,
suggested delicate health, yet, there was no air of languor in either
his words or manner. He welcomed both boys cordially, and at once set
about entertaining them in a pleasant, friendly way that delighted Leon
as much as did the quaint, dry wit which came into almost every remark
he made. A few moments later, Mrs. Flemming entered the room, and Leon
found her a bright, motherly little woman with a delightfully long
memory for the different boys of the school, and the pet hobbies of each
one of them.

After an informal dinner and an evening of pleasant talk, the boys
reluctantly rose, to say good night. Dr. Flemming rose, too, and, taking
Leon’s hand in both his own firm, slender ones and looking down into the
lad’s eyes so keenly that Leon felt he could see into the very depths of
his soul, he said kindly,—

“Arnold, you are just starting out into a new life, and I say to you
what I say to all the boys when they come here. You will miss your home
in many ways; you will find many things here that are new and strange.
Do the very best you can in everything, whether it is work or play. Be
generous and manly and, above all else, be true, true to yourself and
true to the hopes of your parents in sending you to us, and we shall all
be satisfied. And one more word: at the first, when you choose your
friends, remember that, in a school the size of this, there are all
sorts of boys, and choose those that will be a help to you, instead of a
pull-back. Boys can’t be too careful about their friends, for with them
it is just as it is with anything else. If you handle something black, a
little of the color is likely to rub off on you. Look for the best and
truest boys and, for your share, try to be as good for them as they are
for you. Then your life at Flemming will be a pleasant and a happy one.
And now, good night.” And he dismissed them, with a friendly smile.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER IV.

                        THE BONIFACE REBELLION.


THE real work of the term began in earnest, the next morning, and Leon
found himself in a class of fifteen or twenty boys, nearly all of them
older than himself, and among whom he looked in vain for one of the lads
that he had seen in Harry’s room. George Winslow’s scowling face was the
only familiar one that met his eye, and Leon gladly turned away from
him, to make a closer study of his new companions. At his right hand sat
a boy of eleven, with an abnormally large head and a dry, weazened,
lead-colored face, who appeared to feel it his duty to maintain the
credit of the class by answering all the questions addressed to any of
its members. At Leon’s other side was a boy of about his own age, whose
mocking brown eyes were dancing with fun, as he watched Leon’s other
neighbor; and he looked so bright and companionable that Leon ventured
to whisper, under cover of suppressing a yawn,—

“Who’s the fellow next me?”

“I don’t know,” answered the other; “I’m new here. Don’t you know him?”

“No; I’m new, too. Isn’t he a terror?” responded Leon.

Both boys kept their eyes intently fixed on their books, for a few
moments. Then Leon attempted another question.

“What’s your name?” he asked cautiously, with his gaze still on the page
before him.

“Harold King,” replied his neighbor. “What’s yours?”

“Leon Arnold; I’m Hal Arnold’s brother. Aren’t you Jack Howard’s cousin?
He said something or other about you.”

“Yes. Hush! Do hear that fellow go on. He must be one of the fiends.”

“Fiends!” echoed Leon in wonder; for his sole association with the word
was the idea of a black hobgoblin, and his neighbor only resembled his
mental picture of that race, in the size of his head.

“That’s what Jack called them,” answered Harold, as the class rose to go
back to the main school-room. “He says they call those little bits of
pert fellows that think they know it all, fiends. Not a bad name,
either,” he added, with a wink.

Leon’s reply was prevented by a sudden push from behind, and the next
instant George Winslow passed him, jostling him roughly as he went. The
rudeness of the motion was so uncalled for and so evidently intentional
that Leon, as he stood his ground and gazed proudly into the lowering
face before him, felt that sooner or later it would be war to the knife
between them.

He felt so still more during his first drill, that afternoon. The armory
was given up to the new cadets, together with the half-dozen
non-commissioned officers who were detailed for their instruction, under
the general supervision of Lieutenant Wilde. There were a few words of
explanation of the duties of the soldier, the object and aim of the
drill, and then the novices were divided into squads of four and
assigned to the care of their different instructors. As he took his
place, Leon glanced up to find himself confronted by George Winslow.
However, the weeks of faithful training that he had received from Harry,
made him feel no hesitation in obeying the orders which were issued, and
he promptly set to work to take the required positions for setting up
and saluting, confident that he could hold his own with the raw recruits
by his side. But for some reason or other, his best endeavors proved
quite unavailing, and he found himself constantly called to account, now
for having his shoulders uneven, now for inattention, and again for
delayed obedience. At first he was annoyed by these continual
reprimands; then he grew indignant, for he fancied he caught a little
smile of satisfaction on Winslow’s face, as he ordered,—

“Right hand—_salute_!” Then suddenly struck down Leon’s raised hand,
saying sharply, “Get in position before I command, and hurry up about
it.”

“Arnold’s position was correct,” said Lieutenant Wilde’s voice over his
shoulder; then he added quietly, “that will do, Winslow. I will take
charge of this squad myself, for the rest of the afternoon.”

The dismissal was final, and Winslow dared not disobey; so, with one
furious glance at Leon, he went away, and Lieutenant Wilde took his
place. Drilling under him was an entirely different matter; and Leon
left the armory, half an hour later, happy in the promise of being
promoted to drill with the battalion, so soon as he should have had a
little practice in the manual of arms. But, as he left the dining-room
that night, he was stopped by Winslow, who planted himself directly in
his pathway.

“I owe you one for this, Arnold,” he said, in a low, distinct voice;
“and if it means reporting me to the doctor, you’ll be sorry for it.”

“You’ll have trouble with Winslow yet, Leon,” said Harry, at bed-time
when Leon told him of the day’s events. “I don’t see what started him
after you, but he’s always taking just such spites. He’s an awful bully
and, if it only wasn’t against the rules of the school, the best thing
you could do would be to give him a good sound thrashing.”

In the meantime, matters had not gone well for Mr. Boniface, that
morning. The general school-room had been left in his charge, for the
doctor was busy with the new cadets, and Lieutenant Wilde’s classes met
in the little laboratory up-stairs. The ten or twelve seniors were
grouped at the front of the room for their Latin recitation, and Mr.
Boniface was trying to give them his undivided attention and, at the
same time, to keep a watchful eye on Max and Frank Osborn and half a
dozen kindred spirits who occupied the far corner of the room. The poor
teacher was nervous, that morning. In spite of the careful preparation
which he had given his lesson, he felt sure that he was not holding the
interest of his pupils who presented every appearance of languid
inattention. As he glanced from Jack Howard who was lounging in his
seat, with his eyes fixed on the tree just outside the window, to Harry
Arnold who was making an elaborate pattern of dots and dashes on the
margin of his Cicero, he raised his eyebrows and gave a deep, though
half-unconscious sigh. The sound was promptly echoed from the distant
corner; and when Luke Boniface looked over in that direction, he found
the boys all laughing except Max who, perfectly serious, was deep in his
lesson, swaying to and fro with his eyes fixed on his book and his lips
moving silently. Though in his own mind there was no doubt as to the
culprit, it was too slight an offence to be taken up, and Mr. Boniface
could only resolve to watch himself more closely in the future, that he
might present no such opportunities to the fun-loving Max.

The lessons went heavily on, marked by an entire absence of sympathy
between teacher and pupil. If Mr. Boniface tried to give some bit of
interesting information, it was received with perfect unconcern; if he
attempted any pleasantry, it was heard with stolid silence; when he was
stern and severe, it produced no more effect. When Irving Wilde came in,
at the end of the third hour, to take charge of the room, he found the
other teacher looking almost distracted, while the boys were all in a
high state of glee over the pranks of Max and Frank Osborn. As
Lieutenant Wilde took his place at the desk, with a reproachful glance
at the uproarious boys, the older man noted with envy how the faces
before him grew bright and interested, and how suddenly the room was
stilled. For a moment he stood looking about the room and rubbing his
hand up and down over his hair, as was his habit, when annoyed or
perplexed. Then he hastily gathered up his books and left the room, with
a miserable certainty that his morning had been wasted.

And so it went on, day after day. While there was no open outbreak or
breach of discipline, yet the new teacher was subjected to all sorts of
petty annoyances by the lads, who had taken a dislike to his gloomy,
serious manner. Order was out of the question, and any attempts, on the
master’s part, to establish it were worse than useless, for the boys
promptly turned the tables and came off victors, again and again.
However, it had taken but a short time for Mr. Boniface to single out
Max as the leader in much of the iniquity, and after watching him
closely for a week, he surprised him, one morning, by an invitation to
occupy the seat directly in front of the master’s desk which was
extended to serve for both master and boy. With a good-natured smile,
Max picked up his books and marched down the aisle to the appointed
place, where he seated himself, with a triumphant backward glance at his
mates, triumphant, for this was a fresh vantage point for an attack.

It was the habit of the awkward young teacher to sit with his feet
stretched far out in front of him, quite regardless of the fact that, in
this way, his coarse shoes were exposed to the gaze of the whole school.
Max had studied these shoes well, and was never tired of drawing them
from every possible point of view, exaggerating their defects with the
skill peculiar to boyish caricature.

As soon as the master’s mind was again on his class, Max displayed a bit
of paper on which his friends made out the terse inscription: “Got ’em.”
It was but two words, it is true; but it was enough to rouse their
curiosity, to see what the fertile brain of Max could mean by this novel
declaration of war. They watched and waited; but they only saw Max put
his elbows on his desk, clutch his yellow top-knot with both hands and
fall to studying with a will, as if heartily ashamed of his fault and
resolved to make amends. But if their teacher was deceived, the boys,
who knew their friend better, were not. His sudden devotion to his book,
at such a time and in such a place, could only mean fresh mischief.
Suddenly Leon, who was looking on, saw the teacher give a violent start,
while Max quite as suddenly raised his head, with an affectation of
perfect surprise, and meekly begged his pardon. The face of Luke
Boniface flushed, and he looked suspiciously at Max. He could read
nothing, however, in the boy’s unconscious expression, so he merely
bowed, in recognition of the apology, and went on with his lesson. Half
an hour later, the mystified boys saw the same performance repeated. At
the close of the morning session, Max was told that he could return to
his seat.

Late that afternoon, several of the boys were sitting on the piazza
rail, resting after a lively hour of football practice, when Jack Howard
suddenly inquired,—

“I say, Max, what was it you did to Bony this morning, to make him jump
so?”

Max chuckled at the recollection, but vouchsafed no other reply.

“Go on and tell us, Max,” urged Louis, hooking his toes into the railing
to balance himself, as he leaned forward with his elbows on his knees.

“What’s the use?” responded Max. “I may want to do it again some day,
and I don’t want you all to get on to it; it’s my own invention.”

“Nonsense, Max; we won’t steal it, and we couldn’t do it, if we would;
we’re all too good for that sort of thing,” put in Harry Arnold, from
the step near by, where he sat leaning against the end of the rail.

“Much you are!” returned Max ironically. “Well, I’ll tell you; I just
happened to step on his toe, that’s all.”

“Happened?” inquired Paul Lincoln, taking careful aim at a belated
mosquito, as he spoke.

“Yes, happened,” repeated Max solemnly. “You see, when I study, I get so
interested that I can’t keep on the lookout to see what my feet are
doing. To-day they wouldn’t stay on the floor, but, first thing I knew,
they were way up in the air. Of course I put them down again, as quick
as I found it out, and Bony’s feet were right in the way. See? I begged
his pardon, though. But the queerest thing about it all was that pretty
soon I did that very same thing again. Strange how interested a fellow
can get in his lessons, isn’t it?” And Max paused to look innocently
around at the group.

“It was an untoward event, anyway,” remarked Paul.

The boys groaned at the pun.

“Oh, come, you fellows,” observed Harry; “I feel sort of sorry for Bony,
once in a while. I hate him as badly as any of you; but we are leading
him a dog’s life between us.”

The boys turned and looked at him in surprise. Harry Arnold was a lad
whose opinion carried weight in the school, and a hush followed his
clear voice. It was Jack who broke the momentary silence.

“That’s true enough, Hal; but he isn’t obliged to stay here. The sooner
he clears out, the better we fellows would like it, and he may take the
hint, in time.”

“I wonder if the doctor likes him?” said Leon.

“I don’t see how he can,” said Louis, while he carefully brushed his cap
and replaced it on the back of his head. “I have an idea that the doctor
took him out of charity.”

“That’s just it,” responded Harry, clasping his hands behind his head.
“Bony’s got to grub along somewhere till he gets money enough to pay for
his course in the seminary. If he gets turned out here, it will be no
easy thing for him to get in somewhere else.”

“The sooner he goes off for a missionary, the better it will be for this
side of the world,” remarked Jack encouragingly. “You’re right there,
Hal, and we ought to do our share towards sending him off in a hurry.”

“If he only wasn’t so grumpy, I wouldn’t mind,” added Max; “but I hate a
man that can’t see a joke when it’s fired at him head first; and then
it’s such fun to see him get mad over every little thing.” And Max
twisted up his face in imitation of his teacher’s frown.

“I don’t blame you much, Max,” said Harry candidly. “He is pretty bad; I
don’t see what makes him so uncommonly disagreeable.”

“One thing’s sure,” suggested Max, laughing; “when he goes as a
missionary, the cannibals won’t do anything but taste him, for he’s so
sour that he’ll set their teeth on edge, first thing.”

At this point, a window just above their heads was abruptly closed. As
they heard the sound, the boys exchanged glances of consternation.

“Great Scott!” exclaimed Jack Howard. “That’s Bony’s window. Do you
suppose he’s been up there, all this time?”

“I hope he enjoyed himself, then,” answered Louis, as he slipped down
from the rail.

“I don’t know as I much care if he did hear,” said Max deliberately. “I
don’t want to be ugly and hurt his feelings, any more than Hal does; but
now honestly, if he knew just what we thought of him, perhaps he’d try
to treat us a little more decently.”

But how well he did know just what they thought of him! Sitting by the
open window, in the yellow sunset light, Mr. Boniface had been quite
absorbed in his work until the repeated use of his unpleasant nickname
had roused him from his book, and forced him to listen. It was only for
a few moments that he had sat there; but it was long enough to hear
Harry’s attempted defence and final confession to sharing in the general
dislike, to writhe under the jests of Max and to note the contempt in
the tone of all the boys. Then he closed the window; but it was too
late, for the winged words, sharp as arrows, had already flown in and
struck home, touching just the points where he knew himself weakest. And
with all their teasing, they were sorry for him; that was the worst of
it all. He could bear their dislike, but not their half-scornful pity,
as to an inferior. Just because their lives had been spent in luxury,
should they despise him on account of his struggle with poverty? The
thought galled him, and with his arms folded tightly in front of him and
his head bowed, he paced angrily up and down the room.

Irving Wilde found him so, when he knocked at his door, half an hour
later, to return a borrowed book. As he heard the nervous steps, he
paused for a moment to listen. Then he rapped with decision.

“Come in,” said an unwelcoming voice.

“I just came to bring back your book,” said Lieutenant Wilde, looking
with some surprise on the flushed face and angry eyes of his host, who
stood facing him, without making the slightest movement towards
receiving the book. “I am afraid I am intruding,” he went on.

“No,” the other man replied briefly; “I’m not busy.”

Irving Wilde felt a little perplexed. It was evident that Mr. Boniface
was in some trouble, but his rather hostile manner made it difficult to
offer any sympathy. The lieutenant put the book down on the table and
turned to go away.

“Sit down,” said the other abruptly.

It was more a command than an invitation, and Lieutenant Wilde meekly
obeyed, wondering what was to follow.

“I thought,” he was beginning vaguely, when Mr. Boniface interrupted
him.

“Lieutenant Wilde, what am I going to do about these boys?” he said,
rushing at once into the midst of his subject, with the air of a man too
much in earnest to waste time in mere words.

Lieutenant Wilde met him with equal directness.

“What boys?” he inquired. “Has there been any fresh trouble, Mr.
Boniface?”

“No,” burst out the other; “nothing fresh, but it’s a matter of every
day, and it’s wearing the life out of me. They hate me and they try to
annoy me in every way, till I feel like an old dog, at the mercy of a
crowd of snarling, yelping puppies. I’ve tried everything, but it’s
getting worse every day. I want the boys to like me, and I want to like
them,” he continued, resuming his march; “but it’s come to where we
regard each other as sworn enemies. It’s spoiling the best years of my
life and sapping my best energies.”

“Oh, pshaw, Boniface!” exclaimed Lieutenant Wilde, with sudden
impatience; “men in our position haven’t any business to know whether we
have any best energies or not; all we are here for is to make the best
we can out of our boys. But I beg your pardon,” he added more quietly;
“I didn’t mean to be rude. Who are the boys that are annoying you?”

Luke Boniface dropped into a chair and began twisting his watch-chain
restlessly.

“All the boys, more or less; but most of all, that Max Eliot and his
set.”

“Max Eliot?” responded the other teacher thoughtfully. “Max is an
incorrigible imp; but really, Mr. Boniface, he isn’t a bad boy, only a
thoughtless, mischievous tease. I am sorry he’s made you trouble, for I
think he and his set are the finest fellows in the school.”

Mr. Boniface looked at him incredulously.

“Have you ever found Max doing anything really dishonorable?” asked
Lieutenant Wilde. “All that set of boys are wide-awake, happy-go-lucky
fellows, ready for any amount of fun, and often a little too careless of
others’ feelings; but I don’t believe one of them would lie, if it were
to save himself from being expelled.”

“They must be remarkable boys,” said Mr. Boniface sarcastically.

Irving Wilde turned on him with a frown; then he controlled himself and
said quietly,—

“That is just where you lose ground with the boys, Mr. Boniface, by
making them feel that you distrust them. Do you remember what the Rugby
fellows used to say: ‘It’s no fun to lie to Arnold, for he always
believes us.’ There’s a great deal of truth there. Treat boys like
honorable gentlemen and, to a great extent, they will become so. Watch
them like pickpockets, and they will act accordingly. Boys are quick to
see when they are trusted, and nine out of ten of them will do their
best to be worthy of the trust. Try and see if it isn’t so, Boniface.”
And he beamed on his companion with such hearty good-will that Mr.
Boniface was forced to admit the truth of his remark, as far as he
himself was concerned.

There were a few moments of silence; then Lieutenant Wilde rose and
moved across the room to where his host was sitting. Leaning on the back
of his chair, he said, with the genial, off-hand manner that was
peculiarly his own,—

“Now, Boniface, take the advice of a friend, and forget all about your
best energies. Excuse my speaking so freely; but you asked my opinion,
you know. Trust the lads and make them feel that you trust them; like
them as well as you can and show them all the liking that you feel. That
is the main thing in dealing with boys. And then, if you could only be a
little more sociable with them, talk to them at table and when you meet
them around the grounds, till you know every single fellow for what he
really is; then I promise you that they will do their share towards
meeting you. For my part, I’ll have a little talk with Eliot and Howard
and two or three more of them, and I hope your trouble will be mostly
over.” And he went away, leaving Mr. Boniface to ponder on his words.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER V.

                        WAR IN THE COLOR-GUARD.


IT was the hour for afternoon drill. The trumpets had rung out in the
quick, tripping arpeggios of _assembly_ and the companies had formed for
roll-call, then marched to their places upon the battalion
parade-ground. In the centre of the line stood the color-sergeant, Frank
Osborn, with his senior corporals at either hand, Leon on his right, on
his left Winslow and Smythe, the “fiend” of the second class. Beyond
them, to the left and right, stretched the four companies of the
battalion, while still farther to the right stood the band.

From the first, Leon had been fascinated by the perfect order and
regularity of the battalion drill, where every man and every piece were
only well-adjusted parts of the whole, and where any trifling delay or
irregularity on the part of a single cadet was enough to mar the work of
an entire company. So heartily had he thrown himself into the training
that now, after six weeks of it, he was promoted to be one of the
ranking color-corporals, and each day proudly took his place beside
Frank Osborn, who never looked half so handsome and dashing as when on
duty, with the soft, bright folds of the flag drooping beside his dark
oval face. And yet, with all his attraction for Leon, the younger boy
felt a certain distrust of this brilliant comrade, which prevented their
daily association from ever ripening into anything like an intimacy. It
was not that he was not always bright and companionable, quick to plan
and bold to execute the frolics which seemed to add zest to his school
life, and equally ready to take the consequences of his many sins. But,
after all, there was a look about the imperious young face, about the
proudly arching lips and the restless eyes, that told of his descent
from the flower of Southern chivalry, a chivalry which might too easily
become hot-tempered and wild, in spite of a firm and resolute control.
Leon’s New England training held him aloof from the gay, rollicking
fellows who met in Osborn’s room to take counsel how best to shirk the
hours of study, and to hold late suppers, after “lights out” had
sounded, and the Flemming world was supposed to be sleeping the sleep of
the just. Max alone, of all the Arnolds’ friends, was frequently at one
of these revels; for with his eager activity, he was always ready for
fun, in almost any shape that offered, and was filled with a boyish
admiration for Osborn’s lavish generosity and high-handed carelessness
of discipline. The consequences of the intimacy were often disastrous to
poor Max, for while his friend contrived to emerge unscathed from scrape
after scrape, Max was singularly luckless, and was continually finding
himself reduced from the rank to which his brilliant scholarship and
excellent drill had raised him.

Of all the boys in the school, there was no other set so closely bound
together in all their tastes and pursuits, as the little group of
seniors and juniors who were most often to be found in the Arnolds’
room, or with Max and Louis, across the hall. For the past two years
their intimacy had been growing steadily. Other friendships had sprung
up and died away, in the meantime; but these seven lads stood firmly
together, never quarrelling and rarely disagreeing, in spite of the wide
difference in their characters. Instead of that, indeed, they were a
mutual help and check to each other, so that steady Alex Sterne was
stirred up by the irrepressible Max whom he vainly tried to keep in
order; while careless Jack and dandified Louis each rubbed off a little
of the other’s peculiarity, for though Jack laughed at Louis’s careful
precision of speech and dress, he unconsciously lost much of his own
slang and disorder by his daily association with his friend.

To this little circle, Leon and Harold King had been admitted, on
account of their relationship to Harry and Jack; and except for the mere
work of the class-room, they mingled little with the second class
cadets, greatly to the disgust and envy of those boys, for the Wilders,
as they were called, were the acknowledged leaders of the school. Not
only did they number among them the best athletes and brightest pupils,
but with them started nearly every change in the public opinion of
Flemming, and although the other lads might grumble a little at first,
in the end they never failed to follow in their footsteps. None of the
other cadets had cared to be on such intimate terms with the teachers,
satisfied to drift along from day to-day, in pleasant enough relations
with the doctor and his assistants, but regarding them only as very
insignificant parts of their school life, as compared with the
ball-field or the dinner-table.

As the cadets were leaving the armory, that afternoon, Max and Leon were
joined by Osborn who overtook them on the steps.

“Come up to my room this evening in study-hour, you fellows,” he said,
in a tone too low to catch the quick ear of Lieutenant Wilde who was
just ahead of them. “We’ll have some grub and some games.”

“Can’t,” said Leon concisely.

“Why not? Won’t the dominie let you?” asked Osborn, with a scornful curl
of his lip.

“The dominie, as you call him, has nothing to do with it. I don’t choose
to get myself into a scrape,” returned Leon loftily, for the slighting
allusion to his brother irritated him more than he cared to admit.

“Just as you say,” responded Osborn indifferently. “You’ll come, won’t
you, Max?”

“Dässent,” responded Max, with an indescribable flattening of the word.
“I can’t afford to get a rep, for the paternal has promised me a new
bicycle in the spring, if I’ll get up to a first lieutenancy by that
time. Here ’tis November and I’m only a sergeant, so I don’t care to run
any risks. Besides, I’m saving up all my energy for the game, next
Saturday.”

“You’re getting slow, Max,” was Osborn’s comment as he strolled off,
leaving the others to go on alone.

“He’s up to something,” Max said regretfully; “and I’d like to be in it;
but that Victor is too much to be thrown away, and Lieutenant Wilde is
getting to watch Osborn’s room as a cat watches a mouse-hole.”

“Osborn’s getting reckless, anyway,” answered Leon. “He’s come out all
right so many times that he’s beginning to believe his luck will follow
him. Some day he’ll get left.”

“Hope ’twon’t be this time,” said Max; “for it might mean extra guard
duty next Saturday, and he’s too good a half back to lose. It would ruin
our chances, if he didn’t play, for we haven’t a single good substitute.
I tell you, Leon, you’re in luck. ’Tisn’t every fellow that gets in the
color-guard and plays quarter back, the first term he’s here. You owe
some of it to the start Hal has given you, though.”

“Haven’t a doubt of it,” returned Leon, laughing. “By the way, do you
know why Osborn hates Hal so?”

“He doesn’t hate him, exactly,” Max answered, as he paused with his hand
on the knob of his door; “he only knows Hal is down on him, and it
doesn’t make him love the dominie, as he calls him, any too well.”

“Hal does say he’s outrageously fast,” said Leon meditatively. “He’s
full of his larks, but I don’t think he’s a bad fellow.”

The next morning Leon was a little later than usual in taking his place
at the breakfast-table. As he seated himself, Max leaned forward to
speak to him.

“Osborn was skinned last night,” he said in a low voice.

“What?” And Leon looked up in surprise.

“Yes, the lieutenant called on him last night, and caught him playing
cards in study-hour. ’Tisn’t the first offence, and they say it means a
reduction for him.”

This was evidently an unexpected announcement to George Winslow who
glanced up eagerly, as if in sudden exultation over the degradation of
his superior officer. The quick motion did not escape the keen eye of
Max, who went on with an increased distinctness of utterance,—

“Yes, and if he comes down to Private Osborn again, the boys all say ’t
will be Corporal Arnold that will be taking his place as color-bearer.
Are you open to congratulation yet? What are you kicking me under the
table for, Winslow?” he asked, suddenly turning to his neighbor. “If you
want anything, speak up and say so.”

“Beg pardon; didn’t know I hit you,” muttered Winslow, discomfited to
find that his sudden angry motion had not passed unobserved.

“Well, your shoes must be made of cast iron, then,” returned Max
composedly. “It’s my belief you’re nervous, Winslow, and oughtn’t to
drink so much strong coffee.” And before Winslow could realize his
intention, he had filled up his half-empty cup from the contents of the
water-flask which stood beside him. That done, he moved back from the
table, leaving Winslow to growl in peace, with the certainty that, true
to the nature of the genuine bully, he would never dare attack an upper
class man.

“What is it really about Osborn?” asked Leon, joining Max in the hall, a
few minutes later.

“Why, Lieutenant Wilde walked in on him last night, about half-past
eight. He suspected something was up, so he took them by storm. He found
Osborn and Strong playing cards, and he just walked them down to the
doctor’s. I don’t care for Strong; he’s no good, but I’m sorry for
Osborn. But I’ll tell you, Leon, we were well out of it.”

“I’ve never been in it much with Osborn,” said Leon thoughtfully. “Hal
won’t let me have much to say to him; but I shall miss him in drill, for
he’s a good fellow there, and I shall hate to lose him.”

“Even if it gives you his place?” suggested Max wickedly.

“’twon’t,” said Leon. “My chance isn’t as good as Smythe’s; he’s sure to
get it.”

“It’s a close call between you,” answered Max; “but everybody says that,
if it comes to a promotion, you’ll get it. If you do, though, you may as
well prepare for a row with Winslow, for he’s down on you already, and
never will consent to having you put over him. He wanted to go for me,
this morning; but he didn’t dare, for he knew I was more than a match
for him. We had one little set-to last year, and that taught him a
lesson. He’s queer, anyhow; he can’t stand it to be laughed at, so I
just make fun of him whenever I can.”

“I wish he were out of the way,” said Leon, with an anxious frown. “He
makes me wild, and I’m afraid some day I can’t stand it any longer and
shall pitch into him.”

“I hate fighting as badly as you do, Leon,” said Max candidly; “but
there are some fellows that need to be knocked down a few times to make
them endurable. The worst of it is, it’s likely to knock yourself down
at the same time and land you with the privates again. Winslow is just
naturally ugly, and he hates you because he says you laughed at him that
first morning you saw him. I don’t wonder; he’s enough to make a
crocodile laugh, sometimes.”

By noon, the rumors of Osborn’s disgrace were confirmed, and the
question of his probable successor was discussed on all sides. It was
the general opinion of the boys that the office would fall to Leon,
though Smythe’s narrow, but literal scholarship and slavish adherence to
rules made him a possible candidate. Of Winslow, strange to say, there
seemed to be no question.

Contrary to Leon’s expectations, Osborn, when he appeared at dinner,
seemed in no way cast down by his late experience. On the contrary, he
carried it off with his usual gay good-nature, and laughingly offered to
bet as to his successor who was not to be appointed until dress-parade,
on the following day.

“Whoever ’tis, he ought to be grateful to me for stepping down and out,”
he declared with a careless laugh. “I’ve given somebody a chance to go
up, and I hope he’ll feel properly obliged to me.”

Late that evening, Leon went to Lieutenant Wilde’s room, to ask a
question in regard to his lesson for the next day. As usual when he was
there, he lingered for a time, talking of this matter and that, with the
perfect good-fellowship which marked all the relations between
Lieutenant Wilde and his pupils. When, after half an hour of lively
talk, he stepped out into the hall, he was surprised to come upon
Winslow who stood a few feet from the door, apparently waiting for
someone.

“Hullo, Winslow! what are you up to here?” he asked, for Winslow rarely
went into his teacher’s room.

But Winslow made no reply, and Leon went away down the hall, quite
unconscious of the threatening glances cast after him by his rival. He
thought no more of the meeting until the next morning when he and Harold
King were strolling about the grounds, between the early guard-mounting
and chapel, as the boys called the simple opening exercises of the
school. The two boys had reached the foot of the hill and were just
turning to come back, when Winslow abruptly appeared to them.

“What were you doing in Lieutenant Wilde’s room last night, Arnold?” he
demanded roughly.

“It’s none of your business,” returned Leon coolly; “but I’d just as
soon tell you. I went in to ask him about to-day’s lesson.”

“I don’t believe it,” said Winslow doggedly. “You went in to talk up
this color-guard affair.”

“What an idea!” said Leon, with a disdainful laugh. “Nobody but you
would think of such a thing.”

“You did, then,” insisted Winslow, although without once meeting the
clear, steady gaze of his antagonist; “you went in there to try to get
him to give you Osborn’s place.”

“Oh, come, Winslow,” remonstrated Harold; “don’t be a fool. That isn’t
Arnold’s way.”

“You shut up, King!” returned Winslow brutally, “I’m not talking to
you.”

“No; but I am to you,” retorted Leon, who felt his temper fast giving
way. “I’ll thank you to clear out and let me alone; you’ve been in my
way long enough.”

“I’ve been there long enough to see that you’ve toadied to Lieutenant
Wilde ever since you came; and if you think you’re going to sneak, and
get promotions away from better fellows than you are, you’re much
mistaken.”

“What!” And Leon faced his foe with blazing eyes, and his lips quivering
with excitement. “I’ve never taken unfair advantage of any fellow in
this school, George Winslow, and you know it.”

“That’s a lie.”

The insult was more than Leon could bear; and the words were no sooner
spoken than there came one quick, decisive blow, and Winslow went
sprawling backward on the ground. Too thoroughly cowed to rise, he lay
staring up into the flushed, angry face of his slender conqueror. Half
frightened at what he had done, Leon bent on one knee to see that he had
not materially injured his fallen foe; then, when freed from any anxiety
on that score, he rose to his feet, saying haughtily,—

“Next time you want to tell any such stories about me, Winslow, just
remember that what I’ve done once I can do again, and keep out of my
sight, unless you want a worse thrashing than this. And now,” he added,
with cutting sarcasm, “if you aren’t afraid, you’d better get up and get
somebody to brush your back off, for it’s almost chapel time, and being
late might hurt your chances of promotion.” And turning on his heel, he
went in search of his brother to whom he told the story of the fight,
with a strange mingling of pleasure and shame as he recounted the
insults of Winslow and his speedy punishment.

“’Twas all you could do, Leon,” said Harry admiringly, when his brother
paused. “It had to come, for he was going to walk over you till you put
a stop to his impudence. The worst of it is, I’m afraid this ends your
chance of promotion, for the doctor is down on fighting. You’ll be well
off, if you get out of it without a week’s arrest.”

Leon groaned at the thought. Indeed, the idea of a week spent in his
room, only varied by going to and from his lessons, was not an
attractive one; and moreover, this was Wednesday and on Saturday came
the long-anticipated football game. The rest of the morning was spent by
Leon in alternating periods of hope and fear, which last was not
lessened by seeing Winslow go limping up the steps to the doctor’s door,
and later by overhearing a summons to Harold King to go to the doctor at
noon.

Soon after noon his own call came, and he slowly made his way to the
doctor’s study, which was always the scene of interviews of a like
nature. It was Leon’s first introduction to the place and, as he glanced
nervously about, it seemed to him that the very writing-table took on an
austere frown, and that the copy of a Verestschagin above the mantel
looked unnecessarily vengeful and destructive. Then he looked at the
doctor, and felt an immediate relief. Though unusually grave, it was
still the same kind, just, quiet man whom he knew so well.

“Arnold,” said the doctor slowly, “I am told that you have been
fighting.”

Leon looked at him without flinching.

“Yes,” he admitted; “I knocked Winslow over.”

“But don’t you know that it is against the rules of the school?”

Leon bowed in silence.

“Then why did you do it?” asked the doctor again.

The boy hesitated.

“Because there wasn’t anything else I could do,” he said at length.

“I can hardly believe that, Arnold. Fighting is thoroughly lowering and
brutalizing, besides destroying the order of the school. Questions of
discipline must be left to me, not settled by each one of you boys. I
think you understood that when you came here, although you have now
disobeyed the established rule of the school. Is there anything you wish
to say for yourself?”

“Nothing,” replied Leon briefly.

In spite of himself, the doctor looked at the boy admiringly. He had
heard the story of the fight from Harold King, and he appreciated Leon’s
silence in regard to the provocation he had received, his proud
reluctance to lighten his own punishment by accusing a schoolmate.
Memories of a like scene in his own school life rushed into the doctor’s
mind, and made him long to pardon the young culprit whose look met his
so squarely; but justice must be done, so he hardened his heart and
said, as severely as he could,—

“Very well, Arnold, you have willfully broken the rules and been guilty
of grave insubordination. Since you have no excuse to offer, I shall
order Lieutenant Wilde to deprive you of your promised promotion, and
put you under two days’ arrest. Now go.” And he waved Leon from the
room, not daring to prolong the interview, for fear he might relent.

“What are you going to do with such a boy?” the doctor said to his
nephew that night. “He just stood his ground and wouldn’t give in,
though he knew he had excuse enough, if he would only tell it. It’s no
easy work to punish a fellow like that, for you or I would have done
just as he did, if we’d been in his place.”

“It strikes me that our color-guard is getting demoralized about as fast
as it can,” Max observed to Louis, as they were going to bed. “With
Frank Osborn down, and Leon down, and Winslow half-way in disgrace,
Smythe can have it all his own way, confound him! But I’ll tell you one
thing,” he added vindictively; “I’ll make it hot for that Winslow. He
deserves to be court-martialled for his pains.”


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER VI.

                         VICTORIOUS NINETY-TWO.


“IF bread is the staff of life, butter is the gold head to the cane,”
remarked Max profoundly, as he waved the butter-knife.

“I say, Max,” inquired Stanley; “how long did it take you to study that
up?”

“I knew he had something on his mind,” added Alex; “he has been
unusually quiet all the morning.”

“None of your impertinence, Alex,” Max was beginning, with mock dignity,
when Louis said, from his seat farther down the table,—

“He made it up last night, before he went to sleep. I was just
dropping off when I heard him mumbling, ‘Bread—staff of
life—butter—hm—butter?—um—yellow—no, gold.’ I fell asleep just then,
and left him still studying on it.”

“You don’t appreciate really good jokes,” said Max loftily; “and if you
tell any more such stories about me, I’ll leave you out of the next lark
I have on foot.”

“You don’t dare,” said Louis, laughing.

“What’s going on?” inquired Stanley curiously, for he had caught a
knowing glance which passed between the room-mates, and felt sure, from
Max’s suppressed excitement, that there was some frolic on hand.

“Nothing more exciting than the game to-morrow,” answered Max evasively,
as he moved away from the table. “I only wish that Leon had been ordered
for extra duty in the afternoon, instead of Frank Osborn. I’m afraid our
side hasn’t much chance, unless two days of arrest have undermined
Leon’s constitution. He’ll make trouble for us, if it hasn’t.”

The boys separated for evening study-hour, and soon afterwards quiet
reigned over Flemming, for the members of the eleven went early to bed,
to be ready for the event of the morrow, while the other boys soon
followed the example of their mates. Long before “lights out” had
sounded and Lieutenant Wilde had made his round, Old Flemming was as
dark and silent as a deserted house, left tenantless even by ghosts.
However, if any ghostly wanderer had been walking the halls of Old
Flemming, that night at midnight, he would have been surprised to see a
door swing slowly open and two boys step stealthily out into the hall,
their shoes in their hands and a great, dark bundle under the arm of one
of them. With long, noiseless steps they moved towards the head of the
stairs, pausing often to listen and peer into the velvety darkness
around them; then they stole down the stairs to the outer door which
they opened as cautiously as they had done the other, closed it behind
them, and passed out into the night. At the foot of the steps leading
from the drive up to the level of the armory door, they dropped down on
the ground and began to put on their shoes.

“All right so far, Wing,” said one of them in a low tone, as he laced up
his shoe and tied the string in a complicated knot. “If we can carry
this thing through, we’re in luck.”

“And if we’re caught, it will be bad for us,” returned Louis gloomily.
“After all, though, the chances are with us, for nobody has ever tried
anything of the kind before now, and they won’t be on the watch to
prevent it.”

“We’re all safe enough till we go in again,” said Max; “as long as we
don’t break our necks,” he added provisionally, as he glanced up at the
armory which was dimly outlined against the starless sky above.

“Fine night for us,” observed Louis. “But come ahead; we don’t want to
waste any time talking.” And he led the way to the buttresses which
flanked the corner of a little wing near the front of the building.

“I’ll go up ahead,” said Max; “and then you hand up the colors. Bother
the fellow that planned this building!” he added petulantly. “I’ve
rubbed all the skin off my knee, trying to get a purchase against this
smooth stone. Why couldn’t he have left it rough, I wonder.”

“He would, if he’d had the interest of ninety-two at heart,” returned
Louis. “But stop scolding and hurry up there.”

Both the boys were as agile as monkeys, and by bracing themselves
against the angle of the buttresses, they had soon climbed up to where
they could gain a slippery footing on the steep roof of the wing. Once
there, their way was easier, for a row of small bars fastened to the
slates, showed where the janitor went up to the ridgepole, in the rare
event of trouble with the lines for raising the colors. At the ridgepole
the boys came to a halt, and seating themselves astride the sharp comb
of the roof, they began to untie the bundle they had so carefully
brought with them. The next moment, the roof at their feet was covered
with something large and dark, which lay in loose folds along the tiles.

“Ready?” asked Max, after a moment of careful adjustment.

“Ready,” answered Louis from his post farther back on the roof.

“Let her go, then!” And there was a sound of rasping cordage, as the
dark mass slowly rose into the air.

“Catch hold of me, while I make this fast,” said Max. Then he bent
forward over the edge of the roof, for a moment. “Now,” he continued, as
he cautiously rose to a perpendicular once more, “if they don’t stare
to-morrow morning, when they go to put up the colors, my name’s not Max
Eliot.”

“Won’t Paul be wild, though, to think that none of his men were bright
enough to think of it?” said Louis, with a chuckle, as he prepared to
descend.

Max followed him at a little distance, and half their way was safely
accomplished when Louis heard a sudden slip, followed by a heavy thud
and a suppressed exclamation from Max.

“What’s the matter?” he asked, in the same low tone in which all their
conversation had been carried on.

“Missed one of the steps and sat down,” replied Max wrathfully. “I
wouldn’t mind the thump; but I hit on one of these beastly nails and I
felt something give out. If I’ve torn a hole in my coat, it will give
the whole thing away. I could build a better armory than this, myself,”
he added, as he scrambled to his feet again.

“Safe!” ejaculated Louis, when the door of their room had once more
closed behind them. “We’ve put the thing through, Max, and I don’t see
how we can get caught.”

“Unless my coat tells the story,” said Max ruefully, as he pulled off
the offending garment and felt up and down the back. “Here ’tis,” he
continued; “a great three-cornered tear, large enough to put my head
through. However am I going to mend it, so it won’t show?”

“You can pin it up,” said Louis hopefully. “If you can just get through
the morning, you can let it go that was torn in a scrimmage. But do go
to bed, for we mustn’t be sleepy in the morning.”

Louis’s warning was unnecessary, for the excitement of their escapade
and of the coming game kept the boys from sleeping soundly during the
few remaining hours of the night; and the first light of the morning
found Max, partly dressed, sitting on the edge of his bed, with his
mouth full of pins, as he tried to repair the damages wrought by his
fall.

“How does this go, Wing?” he asked, slipping on the coat and turning his
back to Louis who was still in bed.

“Like time,” responded Louis promptly and concisely. “It’s all puckered
up and looks worse than the hole.”

“Then what can I do?” asked Max desperately. “I never could sew it up,
even if I had the tackle; and it can’t go as ’tis, for ’t would tell the
whole thing. If I only had another fatigue coat! Help me out, there’s a
good fellow, for you’re in it as badly as I am.”

“Let’s see,” said Louis, raising himself on his elbow to contemplate the
task before him; “my sister mends her gloves with plaster; why not
doctor up your coat the same way?”

“Good scheme!” said Max approvingly, as he dived into his pocket for a
tiny silver case.

Then, possessing himself of the one pair of scissors which the room
afforded, he settled himself to his novel tailoring with such good
success that he was enabled to put in a prompt appearance at the
breakfast-table, with but little trace of his adventure of the previous
night.

It was the unvarying custom of the school to have the colors raised on
the armory, every morning at the hour for guard-mounting; but on this
particular morning, the eyes of the early stragglers about the grounds
were met by a new feature in the landscape. From the top of the flagpole
on the armory, a flag was already waving in the morning wind; but
instead of the familiar stars and bars of the national tricolor, there
flaunted a huge blue cambric banner, inscribed in golden letters with
the legend: ’92 AND ’94. The new colors were promptly hauled down, but
not before most of the cadets had gathered around the armory to look and
laugh, and speculate as to the perpetrators of the joke; but neither the
boys’ speculations, nor the doctor’s efforts to discover the offenders,
ever succeeded in bringing to light the mystery of the midnight
expedition of the loyal juniors.

The long-anticipated Saturday before Thanksgiving was a cold, clear,
bracing day, as if especially designed for the annual football match.
According to the regular habit of the school, lessons were over at
eleven that morning, and a light lunch was served immediately
afterwards. Promptly at two o’clock the procession formed in front of
the armory, headed by the school band who banged and tooted away in
their best style. Back of them walked the two elevens, gorgeous in their
uniforms, the white jerseys of one side adorned with a huge scarlet F.
on the chest, while the others wore a blue letter modestly surrounded
with a halo of little golden stars. This impressive body was followed by
the twenty or thirty cadets who had no active part in the proceedings,
but went merely in the light of spectators. Lieutenant Wilde and Mr.
Boniface, walking arm in arm, brought up the rear with befitting
solemnity. To the inspiring strains of “Marching through Georgia,” the
line moved off, turned down the hill and marched twice around the
doctor’s house, while Mrs. Flemming and Gyp watched them from the front
piazza, and Maggie O’Flarity, on the back porch, saluted them with a
flourish of her broom and poker. Then, with the doctor in their ranks,
they started for the ball-field, while the band, with a delightful
impartiality, changed their tune to “See, the Conquering Hero comes!”
And the small village boys that garnished the fence, waved their shabby
hats in pleased anticipation.

The doctor and Lieutenant Wilde took up their positions as umpire and
referee, for out of love for their boys they cheerfully resigned
themselves to the somewhat doubtful enjoyments of these honorary
offices; the spectators arranged themselves as best they could, and the
players took their places for the struggle. The seniors realized that
this was their last chance to cover themselves with glory, so far as
football was concerned, and Leon was burning with a determination to
efface the memory of his recent disgrace; while, on the other side, the
juniors, secure in their faithful training, viewed their opponents with
scorn, and encouraged their young allies to do their best. Louis squared
his shoulders, and stood very straight, with the consciousness that his
blue and gold finery was extremely becoming, and Max tossed a stray pine
cone at the nearest village urchin, a tow-headed youth who dodged and
chuckled in recognition of this especial mark of attention.

At a signal from the doctor, the play began and then—But why describe
all the details of the game to an audience of American boys who know and
love it so well, or to those older and wiser—and duller heads, to whom
the whole subject is uninteresting, and its mysteries a sealed book? It
is enough to tell that there were the usual groupings of wildly excited
lads, the usual mad races across the field, the usual wild onslaughts of
the rush line. Again and again Leon caught the ball from the snapper and
passed it on to Paul for a run, again and again the fine punting of Max
saved the game for the juniors; but the intermission had come and gone,
and the issue was doubtful. Slowly, as if reluctant to leave the busy
scene, the sun dropped towards the western hills, and the battle was in
favor of the seniors. The critical moment had come, and the teams lined
up for a scrimmage, with the ball far towards the junior goal. Very
quietly and steadily Jack Howard took the ball, though his face was
white with the intense excitement of the moment, as he waited for the
captain’s signal to play.

“One—four—three!” commanded Paul.

For one instant he balanced the ball on its end, then snapped it back
with suddenness and precision, rising again in time to block his man in
the opposing rush line. With the same accuracy that his centre had
shown, Leon caught up the swiftly-moving ball in the hollow of his right
arm, and with one quick swing, passed it on to the left tackle who
darted away down the field, only to be met full in his course by the
junior right tackle, who leaped upon him with a suddenness that fairly
hurled the ball from his grasp into the clutches of the junior men.

Again came the breathless excitement of awaiting the signal to play.
Then the cry of the junior captain, “Five—six!” was followed by the
answering signal from Stanley, to warn the snap back that he was ready.
Swift as thought, the ball rolled back to his hand, and went flying to
Louis who, seizing an unguarded opening between the end and tackle,
sprang forward and went dodging down the field, half-way to the senior
goal, before he could be stopped. There was a moment of deafening
applause; then the tumult was stilled, for all realized that the climax
of the game had come.

“Seven—two!” commanded the junior captain.

Again, as the ball rolled back to Stanley, the lines were broken for a
desperate, hand-to-hand struggle. Then a triumphant shout from the
seniors was met by an answering groan from the friends of the juniors.
Stanley had passed the ball to the “scrub” who was substituting for
Frank Osborn. Misunderstanding the captain’s signal, he had fumbled in
receiving it, and the seniors had fallen on the ball.

For an instant, Paul surveyed the field. In spite of their recent
mishap, the juniors were playing finely; still, when it came to a
question of brute force, the advantage lay with the seniors, and he gave
his orders accordingly. Massing their men into a wedge about the
precious ball, the seniors ploughed their way down the field, offering a
resistless, impenetrable front to the baffled juniors. Six yards, eight
yards, eleven yards, on they swept. Then Louis, who had been watching
for his moment to come, all at once plunged through and over the human
barrier, knocking the ball from the hands of the man who was holding it,
and capturing it in the very midst of the enemy, amidst the jubilant
shouts of his allies. Ten minutes more to play, on an almost even score;
but the advantage of position lay with the junior team, as once again
the elevens lined up.

“Seven—four!” commanded the junior captain.

Once more the ball flew from Stanley to Louis who made a rush towards a
weak spot in the opposing line, then, seizing the moment when the senior
team had massed itself to protect the threatened point, abruptly passed
the ball to Max, who shut his teeth together and punted as he had never
punted before. Up and out flew the ball, far over the heads of the
rushers, and away sprang the boys after it, with Louis leading the
juniors, and the ends plunging along close at his heels. At almost the
same moment, Leon and Louis reached the ball. Leon cast himself upon it,
but Louis hurled himself on top of Leon and knocked the ball from his
grasp. When they emerged from the pile of wriggling boys, it was Louis
who held the ball and they were close to the senior goal. Three minutes
later, the victory lay with the juniors.

The conquering eleven were immediately seized and surrounded by their
schoolmates, for both the spectators and the defeated contestants united
in giving them hearty congratulations on their fine play, although Louis
was unanimously voted the real winner of the game. There were a few
minutes of breathless, noisy chatter; then the band struck up “Hail to
the Chief,” and the procession reformed, to march back to Old Flemming
for a jolly supper, presided over by no less a person than the doctor
himself, supported on either hand by the captains of the rival elevens.

“I say, Hal,” said Paul, stopping him on the piazza; “where’s that young
brother of yours? He played magnificently, and I want to tell him so.”

“I don’t know where he is,” answered Harry. “I haven’t seen him since
the game. Perhaps he’s gone up-stairs for something; I’ll go and see, if
you want.”

“Oh, never mind,” said Paul, turning away. “He’ll be down to supper in a
few minutes, and I can see him then.”

But Leon failed to appear at supper-time, and when Harry and Paul went
to look him up afterwards, they found him lying on his bed, looking a
little white about the mouth.

“What’s the matter, Leon?” exclaimed Harry anxiously.

“Oh, nothing much,” answered Leon, sitting up as he saw them enter;
“only I twisted my foot a little in that last rush. It felt sort of
queer, and I thought I’d keep still to-night; but ’t will be all right
in the morning, so don’t say anything about it.”

However, morning found the ankle so swollen and lame that Leon allowed
his brother to ask Lieutenant Wilde to come and look at it. Slight as
was his knowledge of such matters, Lieutenant Wilde unhesitatingly
pronounced it a severe sprain, and the village doctor, who appeared a
little later, confirmed him in the statement and ordered the boy to give
his foot a rest for some days.

“When you boys get a little sense of your own,” the old man remarked
vehemently, while he bound up the foot with fingers as gentle as a
woman’s; “when you boys get a little sense of your own, I say, you’ll
leave off playing such an abominable game as football. It’s come now to
where it isn’t much but a prize-fight, and all it’s good for is to bring
in an income to us doctors. There! now you’re all right, but don’t you
think of stepping on that foot for the next week. Then we’ll see!” And
he took his departure, leaving his patient looking rather forlorn.

“This is fine,” remarked Leon disconsolately, when he had gone. “Here
’tis Thanksgiving week, and everybody going off. Between this and my row
with Winslow, I am rather down on my luck, just now.”

“Never mind, Leon,” said Alex, who chanced to be in the room. “Everybody
says the doctor only punished you because he had to, for the looks of
it; and you can console yourself with the thought that the seniors are
all saying that you did more than any other one fellow to save the game
for them.”

“Yes,” added Harry; “and you’d better be thankful that you didn’t lay
yourself up in practice. Plenty of fellows have done it before now, and
there’s neither glory nor fun in that kind of thing, you know.”

“Much good that does me,” returned Leon ungratefully, though at heart he
was proud of his success. “I only hope daddy won’t think I’m a hard
case. But when you fellows are off eating turkey, think of me, starving
here on husks, with only Dame Pinney for company.”

But Mrs. Flemming was far too motherly a little woman to think of
leaving Leon for a lonely Thanksgiving with Mrs. Pinney, the
housekeeper. Early the next morning, she knocked at Leon’s door, with a
daintily-packed basket in one hand and the latest boys’ book in the
other.

“I just looked in for a minute,” she said; “to ask if it wouldn’t be a
good idea to have you carried down to our house, Wednesday morning, to
stay till the boys come back, on Monday. Lieutenant Wilde will be with
us, and we should all like this chance to get better acquainted with
you. Gyp is lamenting that we can’t have Harry, too; but I suppose his
plans are already made.”

Accordingly on Wednesday morning Leon was waited upon by a “lady’s
chair,” formed of Jack and Alex, who marched down the hill to the
doctor’s house and deposited their burden in a reclining-chair which was
cosily drawn up in front of the parlor fire, close to a little table
covered with the latest illustrated papers and a number of books of
travel and adventure, such as boys love. From this luxurious retreat,
Leon could watch his departing friends with calm indifference; for was
he not to spend five whole days in the house with the doctor and
Lieutenant Wilde, with Mrs. Flemming to coddle him, and Gyp to amuse him
to the best of her small ability?


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER VII.

                    HOW LEON SPENT HIS THANKSGIVING.


THE next morning Leon lay on the sofa reading, for at least the tenth
time, the adventures of the immortal Tom Brown, with as deep an interest
in them as he had felt when first he made the acquaintance of that hero
so dear to boyish hearts. The doctor and his nephew had gone to walk up
an appetite which should do honor to the dinner of state that Mrs.
Flemming was superintending in the kitchen, and Gyp sat on the floor in
the corner, robing the patient Mouse in the clothes of her second-best
doll.

“There! Doesn’t she look pretty, Leon?” she inquired at length,
triumphantly holding the cat up to his view.

The usual melancholy expression of the poor old cat was now set off by a
rosy silk bonnet cocked rakishly over one eye, while her long, lank body
was adorned with a green skirt, a pale blue sash and a white waist.
Mouse, however, was evidently accustomed to such finery for, except for
an increased droop to the corners of her mouth, there was nothing to
show her disapproval of this treatment. Leon laughed, as he dropped his
book by his side and, clasping his hands back of his head, he turned to
watch Gyp who was holding Mouse out at arms’ length, tipping her head
from side to side, as she critically eyed her pet.

“There’s one good thing about Mouse, Gyp,” he remarked lazily; “she’s a
real good frame to build a cat on, if you ever want to do it.”

“I don’t know zac’ly what you mean,” said Gyp, with great severity; “but
I ’most know you’re making fun of Mouse.”

She was silent for a few moments, while she added the finishing touches
to the already elaborate toilet of the cat. Then she seemed to repent of
her sternness, for she dropped Mouse into a chair and went across to
Leon’s sofa, where she sat down on the edge of it and laid one chubby
arm across the boy’s shoulders, in a comically protecting fashion. She
surveyed him for a moment, puckering up her small mouth, while her
roguish brown eyes grew gentle and the heavy curls drooped till they
brushed his cheek. Then, as if satisfied that he was neither hurt nor
angry, she went on in a wheedling tone, as she nestled closer to him,—

“I’m so sorry you hurt you, Leon. Don’t you think you’d like to tell me
a story?”

“A story!” groaned Leon despairingly, for as the youngest of the family,
he knew little of children. “I’m afraid I’m not much good at stories,
Gyp.”

“Why not?” inquired Gyp remorselessly. “Harry is. He says he used to
have to tell them to you lots of times, when you were little and cross.”

Leon blushed, in spite of himself.

“What kind of stories do you like?” he asked, willing to change the
subject.

“’Most any kind,” answered Gyp, reaching up to tuck the afghan around
Leon’s chin and, at the same time, slyly moving his book out of his
reach. “I like those best with ever so many wild animals in them,
eflunts and bears and things; but they must always be true ones, ’cause
mamma doesn’t want me to learn ’bout things that aren’t so.”

“But, Gyp,” remonstrated Leon, in dismay at this literary program; “I
don’t know any true stories about wild animals.”

“I should think you could make up some,” answered Gyp logically. “I make
’em up, sometimes, and I’ll tell you one, if you want, by and by, after
you’ve told me yours.”

“Tell me now,” urged Leon, hoping to gain time.

“No, you must tell first, ’cause you’re company,” replied Gyp, with an
uncomfortable regard for the etiquette of the occasion.

“Hm!” sighed Leon. “Let me see, what shall I tell you about? Do you know
old Jerry, Gyp?”

“Who’s he?”

“The old, old man with long, white hair that comes around here,
sometimes, to see if we’ll give him something to eat or some clothes.”

“Yes,” nodded Gyp. “I know him. What about him.”

“I was going to tell you how I went to see him once,” said Leon, moving
to make more room for the child. “It was about two weeks ago, and Max
and Jack and I started off, one Saturday, to go to his house. He lives
way up beyond the village, in the woods. His house is a queer little bit
of a one, made out of rough boards, with a piece of stove-pipe for a
chimney, and a little narrow door, painted blue.”

“What’s that for?” inquired Gyp.

“Why, to go in at,” said Leon, rather surprised at the question.

“No; I mean what for did he paint it blue?” persisted Gyp.

“I don’t know, I’m sure,” answered Leon, with the certainty that he was
about to lose favor in Gyp’s eyes, because of his lack of accurate
information upon this point.

“Well,” he went on; “we knocked at this blue door, and by and by we
heard a man say ‘come in,’ and we went in and there was Jerry. He sat
there smoking a pipe made out of a corn cob, and mending a hole in his
boot with a piece of string. There were ever so many funny things there,
fish-poles and box-traps and snares—”

“What’s that?” interposed Gyp.

“Oh, things to catch birds in,” explained Leon lucidly. Then he
continued, “And there were some cages on the wall, some with birds in,
and some with squirrels, and one had a snake. And there was a great
black crow hopping around on the floor, and three dogs, one yellow, and
one white, and one black and yellow. And—and—and—” Leon hesitated.

“What did you do then?” demanded Gyp.

“We stayed a little while, and then we came home again.”

“Is that all?” asked the child, and there was a scornful ring to her
tone.

“I’m afraid it is,” replied Leon meekly.

“Well, I don’t think that’s much of a story,” remarked Gyp, with a
frankness of criticism which would have done credit to a professional
reviewer.

“You tell me one now, Gyp,” suggested Leon, feeling that his attempt at
story-telling had resulted in dismal failure.

“Well, I will,” said Gyp, with perfect readiness.

Curling up one foot under her, she turned so that she could face Leon.
When she was settled to her liking, she began her tale which she
emphasized now and then by nodding her head, or smacking her lips, with
an air of relishing the gloomy details.

“Well, once, ever ’n ever so long ago, there was a duck and a squan, and
one day they were sitting on the bank in the sun to dry their feet, and
the duck said, ‘I love you; do you love me?’ and the squan said, ‘No, I
won’t,’ and the duck said, ‘I’ll make you.’ So he ran at the squan, and
the squan ran away and jumped into the lake. The duck ran after her and,
first thing he knew, he had tumbled in, right head first over heels.
They began swimming round and round after each other, and pretty soon
the squan was tired, so she turned into a crocodile with great, long
teeth and claw-nails, and climbed out on the bank. Then the duck turned
himself into another crocodile and went out after her; but when he found
her, she wasn’t there, for she made herself back into a squan and was
clear off in the water. You see, she was quicker ’n he was. He didn’t
stop to change, but went after her, fast as he could go, and when he
came up to her, he pulled out the carving-knife and cut her into four
pieces. ‘There,’ he said, ‘now I’ve killed you; that’s too bad.’ But the
pieces sank down to the bottom and when they hit the mud down there,
they all grew together again, so she could swim up. She came up, just as
quick, and pulled the carving-knife out of his hand, and she took the
carving-knife, and stuck the points in and made little dents all over
him. So he died, and the squan pulled three pink feathers out of his
tail, to show she’d killed him, and then she went home to her little
chickens. But she forgot the carving-knife, and when she saw her
chickens, she was so glad, that she dropped the carving-knife right down
on top of them and cut all their heads off, and so they were dead as
could be, every one of them; and when she knew they were dead and she
had killed them, she felt so badly that she went right off and was
drowned, and that’s all there is about them.”

“Where’d you get all this story, Gyp?” inquired Leon, much impressed by
the tragic end of the tale.

“Out of my think-box,” responded Gyp, as she slipped down from the sofa
and ran to the door, to meet her father and her cousin.

“Well, my boy; how goes it?” asked the doctor, as he moved up a chair
and sat down beside Leon. “Has it been a long morning to you?”

“Oh, papa, we’ve had a real good time,” interrupted Gyp, climbing on his
knee and taking his face between her hands, to enforce his attention.
“We’ve been telling stories, and Leon has been telling me about an old
man that lives alone with a black canary and smokes pop corn; and please
wont you take me to see him?”

“I wasn’t talking to you, chatterbox,” said her father, laughing. “How
is the foot, Leon?”

“All right—”

“Won’t you, papa?” Gyp insisted.

“Won’t I what, you monkey?”

“Won’t you take me to see the old man?”

“I tried to tell her about Jerry’s house,” explained Leon; “and she’s a
little mixed up about it.”

“Nothing unusual,” answered the doctor. “Is it Jerry that you mean,
Gyp?”

“Yes, I want to go to see his bird.”

“Some day, perhaps, when you are older; but it is too far for you to go
now, for you would get all tired out. Now you mustn’t tease any more,
but run away and play with Mouse, because I want to talk to Leon.” And
as Gyp walked away, he dismissed the matter from his mind although, as
it appeared later, the young lady did not.

Dr. Flemming devoted the next half hour to entertaining his guest, and
their pleasant, rambling talk of Tom Brown, and the football game, and
the boys, and the winter sports of the school gave Leon an even greater
admiration for the doctor than he had felt before, and made him forget
that he was a prisoner for some days. The doctor, on his side, was
making every effort to make the time pass pleasantly, for not only did
he admire the straightforward manliness of his pupil, but he was anxious
to remove the memory of their recent interview in the study when,
against his own will, he had been forced to punish the lad for a breach
of discipline which, in the eyes of the school, was more than justified
by its cause. He succeeded so well that, when Lieutenant Wilde came into
the room, he found them discussing the prospect for the spring regatta
with the eagerness and good-fellowship of a pair of children; and Leon
was almost sorry when Mrs. Flemming appeared, a little later, to tell
them that dinner was ready.

“Now, auntie,” said Lieutenant Wilde, as he rose; “as I said to you this
morning, we don’t want this young man to eat his Thanksgiving dinner, in
solitary state before the fire; so, with his permission, I’ll escort him
to the table.” And before Leon had time to object, he was picked up
bodily and carried out into the next room, where Lieutenant Wilde put
him down in a chair between himself and Mrs. Flemming.

It was one of the merriest dinners that Leon had ever known, and the
informality was decidedly increased by Gyp, who insisted that Mouse, in
all her elegance, should come to the table and sit in a high chair by
the side of her small mistress, where she was regaled on many a dainty
morsel which she received and swallowed with a stolid unconcern,
apparently quite unconscious of the fact that her pink bonnet had
slipped off from her ear, and worked its way around until the eye on the
other side was in a state of complete eclipse.

Then they went back to the parlor again, and while Mrs. Flemming drew
together the heavy curtains to shut out the gathering twilight and the
fine, soft snow which was beginning to fall, the doctor piled the sticks
high on the andirons, and they watched the slow, curling tongues of blue
flame work their way up among them, and then all at once turn to the
bright red blaze which lighted all the room. To Leon, after two months
in the large boarding-house, the quiet, homelike air of the place was
indescribably pleasant; and he lay back in his deep chair, saying
little, but watching the flickering light and listening to the
conversation around him. Lieutenant Wilde sat beside him, resting one
elbow on the arm of Leon’s chair. Suddenly he turned to the boy.

“Homesick or sleepy, Leon?”

“Not a bit of either,” declared Leon, laughing, “I’m as lazy and happy
as Mouse herself.”

“But it will never do to spend Thanksgiving evening in this quiet
fashion,” said Mrs. Flemming, starting up. “We must have lights, so we
can have some games.”

“Don’t do it for me,” protested Leon. “I’m having an uncommonly good
time, now.”

“It isn’t for you, any more than for the rest of us,” answered Mrs.
Flemming. “We play games, the doctor and I, almost every evening that we
are at home. It keeps us from getting old and stupid; and then I’m a
great believer in home games, anyway. If I had twenty boys, I’d keep
open house for their friends, and play games with them all, whenever
they felt like it.” And she went away to see about the lights, while
Lieutenant Wilde drew the card-table up to the fire, and the doctor
threw on fresh wood, preparatory to settling himself for his evening
game.

It was not strange that, after three or four days spent in this pleasant
home, Leon almost dreaded the return to the regular hours and discipline
of Old Flemming. So heartily did the doctor and his wife unite in making
the boy feel at ease, that he soon forgot he was a guest, and occupied
much the position of a favorite son of the house; for the family life
went on in its usual course, only widening its boundaries enough to take
him well inside them, cordially welcome, yet free from all constraint.
The doctor himself was enough to accomplish this, now entering into
games with the zest of a boy, now reading aloud interesting scraps from
his evening paper, now carrying off Leon for a long, quiet talk in the
study that, somehow, lost much of its threatening aspect and became a
mere cosy den, under these new conditions.

On Sunday night they were comfortably established there, alone, for Gyp
was in bed and Lieutenant Wilde had gone to church with his aunt, when
the doctor suddenly asked,—

“Did you know Winslow wasn’t coming back after the recess, Leon?”

“No.” And Leon roused himself from his book. “What’s that for?”

“Several reasons, none of them those that you need to know. I had a long
talk with him before he went, however, and he finally admitted that he
was as much in the wrong as you were, in your recent trouble with him. I
thought it only right to tell you this, as long as you refused to bring
any charges against him. But, after all, his fault doesn’t do away with
your own, and it’s only fair that you should suffer the penalty for it.
Next to deceit, my strictest rules are against fighting, for if all the
boys were to settle their disputes in that way, good by to the
discipline of the school, and then good by to the school itself. I know
it puts a boy into a hard place when he is annoyed in such a way, for of
course he doesn’t want to come to me with complaints. Still, I have made
the rule, and I feel that I have the right to exact obedience from my
boys. If they have the honor of the place at heart, they will see the
reason for it. Isn’t it so, Leon?”

And Leon gave a hearty assent.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER VIII.

                      MAX MAKES A TREATY OF PEACE.


“I DON’T believe you fellows know how hard you are making it for Mr.
Boniface,” Lieutenant Wilde had said to the boys who were gathered in
his room one night, not long before Thanksgiving. “I told him so the
other day when we were talking about it, for I don’t think any one of
you would be mean enough to try to break up his classes.”

The subject was unexpected to them all, and for a moment they were
speechless.

“Has he been complaining of us,” asked Jack scornfully, after the pause.

“Yes and no,” answered Lieutenant Wilde. “I saw that something was
wrong, and asked him about it. He told me then, and not till then. You
would all have been sorry for him, if you had seen him that day, for he
seemed to feel so keenly that he was making a failure here. Now aren’t
you boys all of you loyal enough to the doctor to feel that you must be
polite and respectful to any man he may choose to put in here over you?
Any rudeness to one of his teachers is an insult to himself.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” confessed Max frankly. “But Bony and the
doctor are two different people.”

“That may be,” responded Lieutenant Wilde, as he pulled off his
spectacles and fell to twirling them by the slender, bent ends of the
bows; “but Mr. Boniface represents the doctor in his classes. And
moreover, he’s come here a stranger, and you who know each other and the
place, ought to try to make him feel at home, instead of forming a
league against him, to torment him with childish tricks that are more
suited to Gyp than to cadets of your ages. He is hired to teach you and
is paid for it, I know; but he has come here with as true a wish to help
you and be friends with you, as the doctor himself, but you all treat
him like an enemy instead.”

“What makes him so queer and glum with us, then?” said Jack, as he
leaned forward to give the coals a vigorous punch.

“Don’t you know yet, Jack, that everybody isn’t just like everybody
else? Mr. Boniface would like to be pleasant and cordial with you; but
he hasn’t the gift of it, as the doctor has—”

“‘And you, Brutus,’” put in Max with a wink.

Lieutenant Wilde laughed, but took no other notice of the interruption,
as he went on with his plea,—

“Besides, Mr. Boniface has one quality that I’ve heard you all admire in
other people.”

“What’s that?” inquired Paul skeptically.

“Stick-to-ativeness, in plain Saxon. I’ve often heard you talk about it
in the boys, when they wouldn’t give up in some game, or the gymnasium;
and you all say that Louis, here, saved the football match for the
juniors in that very way. Mr. Boniface is doing just the same thing with
his education. He has had disadvantages and setbacks enough to knock
down a dozen ordinary men; but he has fought his way along till now, and
in the very last battle—scrimmage, if you prefer—he is liable to be
beaten and driven out of the field by a dozen thoughtless boys, who
would some day be sorry to be responsible for breaking down a man’s
courage and spoiling his life’s plans.”

“I don’t think we any of us started to be mean to Bony, Lieutenant
Wilde,” said Alex. “We’ve sort of fallen into the habit of running on
him, for we don’t any of us like him. He is pretty bad in class.”

“I didn’t suppose he really cared so much,” added Max. “It’s mean to hit
a fellow when he’s down. I can’t like him, though, Lieutenant Wilde.”

“Have you tried very hard, Max?” inquired Lieutenant Wilde, laughing.

“Uncommonly,” responded Max with fervor. “I can’t like him, I know; but
maybe I can swallow him like a very bitter pill, and he’ll be good for
me.” And he rolled up his eyes at his teacher, with such wickedness
sparkling in them that Lieutenant Wilde’s dignity broke down, and he
joined the boys in their shout.

“But, Lieutenant Wilde,” remonstrated Paul Lincoln; “why do you go for
us about it? We aren’t any worse than the other fellows.”

“Possibly not; but I doubt that. Even if you aren’t, though, I have
spoken to you about it, partly because I know you better, and partly
because you are the most organized set in the school, and so have more
weight and influence. If you nine boys would make up your minds to stand
by Mr. Boniface, you could carry the school along with you, till he
wouldn’t have any more trouble at Flemming. Why not do it? Every young
knight must win his spurs by helping the poor and oppressed. You won’t
find many giants and dragons in your way, so why not lend a hand to help
on Mr. Boniface? If you boys will treat him like a man and a friend,
you’ll be more than repaid, for he is only waiting for a chance to know
you and help you. And in some ways, he’s the finest teacher we have ever
had at Flemming.”

Jack shook his head incredulously; then he said seriously,—

“I’ll tell you what, boys, we ought to be willing to do as much as this
for Lieutenant Wilde’s sake.”

“Thank you, Jack,” replied Lieutenant Wilde quickly. “Start to do it for
me, if you will; but the time will soon come that you are doing it for
the sake of Mr. Boniface.”

The subject was dropped, but though no more was said at the time, it was
plain that the little talk had had its effect, for matters were now
going on most smoothly. Alex and Stanley had always been above any
reproach of rudeness, although it must be confessed that they had shown
a keen appreciation of the mischief of the others. Harry had gone over
to their side, as a matter of conscience, and insisted upon Leon’s doing
the same, while Jack Howard openly stated that he “stood up for Bony
just because Lieutenant Wilde wanted them to.” For one reason or
another, the other lads had followed their example, even to Max who,
like most impulsive, affectionate fellows, was easily influenced by his
friends for the time being, and not even the persuasions of Frank Osborn
had been able to win him from his good resolutions.

The change in the situation was so marked that it was small wonder that
Mr. Boniface had confided to Lieutenant Wilde his fear that it was too
sudden and too good to last.

“Even Eliot is behaving like a model boy,” he remarked, the Tuesday
night after Thanksgiving. “He is a likable fellow at times, too.”

“Max is a splendid fellow,” answered Lieutenant Wilde enthusiastically.
“He’s freakish and thoughtless in his fun, often a little too much so,
but he is the soul of honor and, in my opinion, that covers a multitude
of sins.”

“So it does,” assented Mr. Boniface a little dubiously, for he was
reflecting upon how large an expanse it had to work in the case in hand.
“Eliot is a truthful boy, I think; but what a comfort it would be, if
all the boys were as steady and as anxious to learn as little Smythe.
That boy is a perfect wonder.”

“Yes,” said Irving Wilde, in a tone of deep disgust; “he’s a wonderful
little prig. He learns like a poll parrot, and his only desires on earth
are to show off what he knows, and to turn out his toes at a proper
angle, when he’s on parade. The boys call him the King of the Fiends,
and it’s my private opinion that they’re about right. I’ve no patience
with him, and it just galls me to have to promote him over the heads of
much better fellows than he. Let me take Max, with all his sins, and
with proper training and influences, I’ll make ten times the man of
him.”

“Well, I think I prefer Smythe,” replied Mr. Boniface.

“You’re welcome to him; I don’t want him,” answered Lieutenant Wilde.
“Life is something besides committing schoolbooks to memory; put the two
boys into the same emergency, and balance the selfish conceit of Smythe
against the quick, impetuous generosity of Eliot, and tell me which will
do more to help on his fellow-men. Smythe is just the boy to put behind
a counter, to sell ribbons and tape and spools of thread; Eliot, if he
keeps straight, will be a man from whom we shall hear, sometime or
other. In the meantime, he’s neither saint nor sinner, but a genuine,
healthy American boy, and taken at its best, there’s no better race in
the world.”

The door closed behind him, and Luke Boniface sat down to read, feeling
unusually at peace with the boys, even to Max himself. Fortunately he
knew nothing of the mischief which was just then being plotted by the
boy, who was restless with the concentrated impishness developed by his
four days’ holiday. Had he suspected, his quiet, restful mood might have
been rudely disturbed; now, as it was, he could enjoy it to the utmost.

Next morning, the lessons were under full headway. In the large
school-room, left in the charge of Mr. Boniface, the seniors were having
a recitation, while the members of the junior and second classes were
deep in their work. Over in a sunny corner by the window, sat Max, in
his favorite position, with his bent head held firmly between his hands,
covering his ears from disturbing sounds. All at once, two or three of
the boys near him raised their heads and sniffed the air suspiciously. A
faint sickening odor began to be noticeable, and rapidly increased,
filling the air and penetrating even to the teacher’s desk, at the far
side of the room. In his turn, Mr. Boniface raised his head and looked
wonderingly about, as if seeking the source of this fragrance, whose
mystery was only equalled by its pungency. Nothing was to be seen to
account for the phenomenon. Although some of the boys were beginning to
choke, and Louis sat with his nose buried in his daintily-scented
handkerchief, Max alone seemed undisturbed in his work, and paid no heed
to the sensation in the room. At length it could be endured no longer,
and Mr. Boniface said,—

“Please open a window, Campbell.”

Stanley rose to do his bidding. As he moved across the floor, he glanced
at Max, surprised at his unusual interest in his lesson; then, for the
first time in his whole school life, Stanley Campbell lost all
consciousness of where he was, and burst into an irrepressible laugh.
Carefully arranged on the knee of Max, in the full glare of the
sunshine, lay a smoldering lump of india-rubber, mounted on a bit of
iron, and above it, just where it would focus the rays of light upon it,
was a powerful lens, for the moment converted from a magnifier into a
burning-glass.

In a moment, too soon for Max to remove his apparatus, Mr. Boniface
stood beside him. Silently he stretched out his hand; silently Max put
into it the glass and bit of rubber, noting, with a naughty
satisfaction, that his teacher winced as the hot mass dropped into his
palm. Then Mr. Boniface said quietly,—

“Come to my room at three this afternoon, Eliot.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Max, with unwonted meekness.

That was all. Mr. Boniface returned to his class and Max fell to
studying with a will, though pausing now and then, while he turned over
a leaf, to speculate as to what direful punishment was in store for him.
There seemed something ominous in the calm, collected manner of the
teacher, and Max wondered if he were aware of the doctor’s strong
prejudice against corporal punishment. Like most boys, Max disliked the
idea of being whipped, not only on account of the hurt, but also because
he had a vague idea that it took from his manliness, and put him on a
level with dogs and horses and very small babies. Still, he would pay
the penalty for his fun, and take the consequences as easily as he
could.

But Mr. Boniface was wily. He had watched Irving Wilde’s methods with
the boys, and had come to the conclusion that they were worth imitating.
He was gradually schooling himself until he had lost something of his
old excitable manner, and could more easily meet the little annoyances
that came to him, day after day. Now at length he was to attempt his
master-stroke and see if he could win over his arch-enemy, for so he
regarded Max. Directly after dinner, he went out for a long, rapid walk
in the clear, cold air, and came in with every sense so quickened and
refreshed from the hour of active exercise, that he felt himself ready
for the coming interview.

Punctually at three, there came a knock at his door. For a moment the
teacher’s courage failed. He could more easily face the whole examining
board of a missionary association, than one solitary, mischievous
schoolboy. But it was too late to draw back, so, as cordially as he
could, he told Max to enter.

Max strolled into the room, with his hands stuck into his trousers
pockets, and stood leaning against the table with a carelessness which
somehow failed to agree with the little troubled look in the blue eyes.
Not only was Master Max rather anxious to know what was in store for
him, but his conscience, too, was beginning to be uncomfortably active.
His burning the rubber seemed not quite so funny to him as it had done
in the time of it, or as it would have done if Mr. Boniface had been
very angry, instead of so quiet about it. He shifted his weight from one
foot to the other and back again, while he listened to hear his teacher
come to the subject in hand.

“Sit down, Eliot,” said Mr. Boniface, motioning him to a chair.

Max obeyed, with an unhappy feeling that this lessened his chance of
flight. He pulled his hands out of his pockets and carefully fitted the
tips of his fingers together, bestowing a little extra attention on the
thumbs. Suddenly Mr. Boniface turned to him.

“Eliot, what am I going to do with you?” he asked.

“I’m sure I don’t know, sir,” answered Max, half-defiantly, half-meekly.

“I don’t know as I do, either,” said. Mr. Boniface, with a smile. Then
he went on quite seriously. “Eliot, suppose we forget for a while that
we are teacher and pupil, and have a little talk, as one man would to
another.”

Mr. Boniface had struck the right chord. At this appeal to his manhood,
Max straightened up suddenly and looked his teacher squarely in the eyes
as he went on,—

“You’ll admit, won’t you, Eliot, that you were guilty of a great
rudeness this morning? I was doing my best to carry on the work for
which I am here, and you deliberately and purposely tried to break up my
class. Isn’t it so?”

“I—I s’pose so,” said Max, glaring down at his folded hands, as if they
were in some way to blame for his present position.

“But why did you do it?” went on Mr. Boniface, pursuing his advantage
unrelentingly.

“Fun,” answered Max laconically.

“Which was the fun,” inquired Mr. Boniface, “to sicken us all, yourself
among the rest, with a disagreeable smell, or to interrupt the class for
ten minutes and make the school work so much longer at noon? Whichever
way you put it, Eliot, it strikes me that the game isn’t worth the
candle, as they say, and the trick reacts on you and the other boys, as
much as on myself.”

Max raised his head at this.

“Honestly, Mr. Boniface, the other boys weren’t in it a bit. Nobody else
had anything to do with it.”

“Is this your glass?” asked Mr. Boniface, taking it from the table and
pointing to the initials H. P. A. cut in the handle.

“That’s Hal Arnold’s,” answered Max. “I borrowed it of him yesterday;
but I didn’t tell him what I wanted of it. I knew if I did, he wouldn’t
let me take it,” he added, with an artless confession that he knew he
was in the wrong.

“That’s as much as to say you knew you were doing something to be
ashamed of,” said Mr. Boniface slowly.

“I was; and what’s more, I believe I am a little ashamed,” answered Max
honestly. “I did just want to see if that glass would burn rubber, and
it was a splendid place to try. The other fellows did look so
astonished; didn’t they?” And Max laughed at the memory.

In spite of himself, Mr. Boniface laughed too. That laugh settled the
matter, for it won Max completely. The boy put both elbows on the table,
rested his chin in his hands and remarked with a frankness which took
away the teacher’s breath,—

“Mr. Boniface, now see here: I’m sorry for what I did, and I won’t do it
again—if I can help it. I’m willing to say I’m sorry before all the
boys, if you want. It’s no use for me to promise not to do that kind of
thing again, though, for I shall most likely forget and do something
just as bad, in a week or two. You see, when you just came, I sort of
got into the habit of teasing you, and I’ve kept on. I promised
Lieutenant Wilde that I wouldn’t any more, but I’ve broken my promise.
Now I’ll try again. You said we might talk together like two men, so I
thought ’twas fairer to tell you this, than to keep saying it about
you.”

During this clear, but surprising statement, Mr. Boniface had looked
first perplexed, then annoyed. At length his face brightened and, with a
smile as cordial as Lieutenant Wilde’s own, he held out his hand to the
boy, saying,—

“Thank you, Eliot, for being so honest; now I know just how we stand. I
don’t see but we mean to do the fair thing by each other, only, once in
a while, we both make mistakes. Shall we shake hands on it, and try
again in the future?”

What need to ask? As he put the question, Max’s brown hand lay in his
and the pressure of the boy’s fingers upon those of the man told an
eloquent story of a newly-gained friend. No direful punishment, no long,
solemn lecture could have done the work which this pleasant talk had
accomplished, and as Max sat there, he was resolving, in his boyish
soul, “to stand by Bony” in the future.

Meanwhile in Louis’s room, the boys were restlessly lounging about,
while they waited for the reappearance of the young sinner.

“He must be having a bad time,” said Jack, taking out his watch for the
twentieth time in the last half hour.

“I’m afraid Bony’s giving it to him strong,” added Paul.

“You don’t suppose Bony’d whip him, do you?” suggested Leon, in an awed
tone.

“Whip Max? Nonsense!” responded Harry.

“Don’t you be too sure, Hal,” said Jack. “Bony looks as if he’d be ready
for anything when his blood is up. He’s just made up his mind that he is
not to be interfered with.”

“But Dr. Flemming doesn’t allow whipping,” said Alex. “Bony’s much more
likely to report him. It’s mean to come down on Max, though, for such a
little thing, when we’ve all been as bad as he.”

“Or would have been, if we’d been bright enough and had dared,” added
Harry, unconsciously striking the two main causes of Max’s being singled
out to be the one in disgrace.

“The truth of it is,” said Louis; “Bony has been holding off, this long
time, and now at last, after we’ve walked all over him, the worm has
turned, so I shouldn’t much wonder if he was pretty severe. I only wish
it hadn’t been Max. A little discipline wouldn’t hurt Smythe or some of
those fellows, they’re such sneaks; but Max—”

“Here he comes!” interrupted Paul excitedly. “Now we shall hear all
about it.”

“Well,” remarked Max coolly, as he came into the room; “this is quite an
unexpected pleasure; but I am delighted to see you, gentlemen, I am
sure.” And with a low bow of mock ceremony, he crossed the room and sat
down on the bed.

The boys waited eagerly to hear him speak, for they felt sure that he
would have an interesting story to tell; but Max held his peace. His
cheeks were flushed, and his eyes looked a deeper, clearer blue than
ever; but otherwise there was nothing to show that anything unusual had
occurred. At length Louis’s impatience could be restrained no longer.

“Say, Max, what did he do to you?” he asked anxiously.

“Who?” inquired Max, with a preoccupied air.

“Oh come, Max, that’s no go,” interrupted Jack. “Bony, of course. Is he
going to report you?”

“Report me? No, indeed,” answered Max calmly.

“Did he scold you much?” asked Alex sympathetically.

“Scold me?” echoed Max. “Not a bit.”

“Well then, what the mischief did he do? Tell us, Max, for we’re dying
to know,” said Harry persuasively.

“Well, I’ll tell you,” answered Max slowly. “He treated me like a
gentleman that had made a mistake, and I’m going to try to behave like a
gentleman, after this. Bony’s a good man, boys, even if he is queer; and
I mean to stand by him. I’m ashamed of myself that I’ve carried on so,
and I told him I was. That’s all there is about it.”

“I’ll tell you what,” remarked Harry, as he and Alex went away together;
“Bony must have had a change of heart.”

“It’s much more likely that Max has,” responded Alex Sterne.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER IX.

                             IN THE STORM.


IT was more than a week after Thanksgiving when Dr. Flemming came
hurrying into the school-room one morning, and spoke to Mr. Boniface for
a moment. Then he turned to the boys who were watching, curious to see
the meaning of his unwonted excitement.

“I should like to ask if any one of you have seen Gypsy this morning.”

No one answered, but there was an immediate sensation in the room, for
from the doctor’s manner, they all saw that something was wrong with the
child, and merry little Gyp was the pet and plaything of all the boys.

“What is the matter? Is Gyp lost?” asked Alex, who had chanced to be
standing near the desk when the doctor entered.

“I am afraid so,” her father replied, knitting his brow anxiously. “Her
mother just sent up to see if she was here. Gyp went out to play, early
this morning, and she hasn’t been seen since then.”

“Perhaps she may be with Lieutenant Wilde,” suggested Mr. Boniface.

“A good idea! Thank you, Mr. Boniface,” said the doctor gratefully.
“Eliot, will you run up to the laboratory and see?”

Max rushed away, but was soon back again with the discouraging report
that no one there had seen the child since the afternoon before, when
she had brought Mouse to call upon her cousin.

The doctor took one or two hasty turns up and down the room to collect
his thoughts, for the idea of any harm coming to the child unmanned him.
Then he faced the boys again.

“My boys,” he said; “I must call on you for your help. Mrs. Flemming had
looked about the grounds before she came here, and now there is no
knowing how long the child has been gone. How many of you will help me
to hunt for her? Any that are willing may leave their lessons and come
to me in the hall.”

With one exception, every cadet in the room sprang up. The exception was
Leon who was still unable to use his foot freely, and who sat there,
gazing rather forlornly after his companions as they hurried away,
followed by Mr. Boniface himself. The boy had taken his sprained ankle
very patiently; but now he was wretched enough, as he glanced about the
empty room, and listened to the voices of his friends outside. Then he
hopped slowly over to the window and stood there, watching the boys as
the doctor divided them into squads and sent them off, this way and
that. It was a bleak, cold day, with every promise of snow. The upper
limbs of the bare trees waved and twisted in the wind like so many gray,
beckoning arms, and the dead brown leaves went scurrying across the
frozen ground, in search of some sheltered corner where they might stop
and rest. Leon watched the group of boys, among whom were Alex and Harry
and Max, until it was out of sight, then he looked up at the dull,
lead-colored sky and shivered, for it seemed as if he could feel its
chill, even inside the house. But there was no use in his staying there
alone, so, picking up his cane, he hobbled over to his room in Old
Flemming and sat down to read.

For some reason, his book was unusually dull, and out from its pages the
face of Gyp kept laughing up at him, just as it had laughed down at him
on Thanksgiving morning, when he lay on the sofa and she told him her
wonderful story of the duck. All at once Leon threw down his book
excitedly. Strange he hadn’t thought of it before! She had probably gone
to see old Jerry. He recalled how interested she had been in his blue
door and his crow. That was doubtless the secret of the matter. For a
moment he rejoiced in the suggestion; but then he remembered that he was
alone in the house, for even the servants had joined in the search.
Careless of his foot, he sprang up and started for the door, thinking to
go himself; but a dozen reckless steps convinced him that such a
proceeding was impossible, and with an irrepressible moan of pain, he
threw himself on his bed and clasped his ankle in both hands. There he
lay for a long hour, forgetting his throbbing, aching foot while he
listened for any sound from below, and meanwhile glancing out, from time
to time, at the heavy flakes of snow which were beginning to whiten the
air. What would become of Gyp, he wondered. It was more than four miles
to the old man’s house, a long walk for a little child, and the road
through the thick woods and along by the lake was lonely, even to a
grown person. He fancied he could see the small figure trudging wearily
along, now and then starting at some unexpected sound, and throwing an
affrighted glance back over her shoulder. And what if, as was highly
probable, Jerry should be away from home? Any one who has been anxious,
alone and in pain, will realize how rapidly Leon’s fears increased, and
understand the relief he felt when steps and voices were heard on the
piazza below. He rose and, though the pain in his ankle turned his very
lips white, he went to the window, threw it open, and called loudly,—

“Who’s there? Come to fifteen!”

He waited for a moment until he heard the steps coming up the stairs;
then he closed the window and dropped into the nearest chair, just as
Harry, Louis and Stanley came into the room.

“Did you find her?” he asked impatiently, while they shook the snow from
their shoulders and looked at him inquiringly, too breathless to speak.

“Not yet,” said Louis. “We thought there were too many of us together,
so we came back to see if there was any news, and if not, to start out
again.”

“What do you want of us, Leon?” added Harry. “Tell us quick, for we
don’t want to lose any time.”

“I think she’s gone to find Jerry,” answered Leon, and then, while the
boys rubbed their blue, cold fingers, he went on to tell them his
reasons for such a supposition.

“I shouldn’t wonder if you were right,” said Stanley, when they had
heard him out. “It’s a good idea, and we’ll start for there, straight.
Between the wind and the snow, it’s an awful day, and the child must be
found soon, or she’ll freeze. But what makes you look so queer, Leon?”

“Nothing, only I hurt my foot a little. Never mind me, but go along.
Bother my ankle! I wish I could go with you.”

“What crazy thing have you been doing, Leon?” demanded Harry sternly.
“If you’ve twisted your ankle again, it will be no joke. You know what
the doctor said.”

“Yes, I know,” replied Leon meekly; “I didn’t mean to. But you go on
now, for the storm is getting worse, every minute.”

Harry looked at him anxiously. He was afraid the boy had done more harm
than he would admit; but, in the meantime, as he had said, the storm was
increasing, and he felt that Leon’s clue was too valuable to be
neglected. With a reluctant glance at his brother he turned away, and
followed the other boys down the stairs and out to the road.

“This is a genuine blizzard, and no mistake,” remarked Louis, as the
boys paused at the gate to button their coats tightly, turn up their
collars and pull their caps well down over their eyes, before turning
north, to face the cutting wind.

“I believe you,” responded Harry briefly. “That baby couldn’t stand this
long.”

Then they were silent, for the wind blew the words back into their
teeth, and they needed all their energy to struggle onward against the
driving storm. The walking was comparatively easy as yet, for the snow
was soft and light, and only a few inches had fallen; but it powdered
the fences and tree-trunks and threw a bluish-white light over all the
landscape, till it seemed as if they were passing through a strange and
ghostly world. On they plodded, now facing the storm, now turning to
walk backwards for a few steps, now stopping short to regain their
breath. They passed through the village street; quite deserted it seemed
to them, for even the hardy farmers were staying inside their homes that
day; then they came out past the last house in the street, went down the
hill, crossed the brook at the foot and struck out into the open
country. For a mile the road was quite unsheltered; then it wound along
under the trees, gaining a partial protection from the storm; then again
it came out on the shore of the little lake, across which the wind swept
fiercely. They talked but little on the way, so absorbed were they in
reaching the end of their journey, for not one of the lads had the
faintest doubt of finding Gyp curled up by the fire in Jerry’s cabin.
Leon’s suggestion had seemed so probable to them that they had accepted
it as a fact, and felt quite sure that they would go triumphantly back
to Flemming, with Gyp in their arms.

It was nearly three o’clock in the afternoon when they came in sight of
Jerry’s well-known blue door. Exhausted as they were, half-frozen and
faint with hunger, the sight of the cabin roused them until they broke
into a run. Harry reached the door first, pushed it open and glanced in.
Then he stopped short, and his face grew deadly pale. No Gyp was there;
only old Jerry dozing contentedly before the fire, with his dogs asleep
around him.

“She isn’t here,” he said faintly, facing the others as they came up.

“Not here!” echoed Louis and Stanley, growing white in their turn.

“No one here but Jerry,” repeated Harry; and the three boys stood gazing
at one another, in blank dismay.

The rush of cold air had wakened Jerry, who turned drowsily in his
chair, caught sight of the well-known uniform, and was on his feet at
once, to show his respect for his guests.

“How do?” he remarked. “Flemming boys; Jerry knows. How do? Sit down.”
And he bowed so low that his yellow-white hair fell forward over his
wrinkled old face.

“We can’t stay, Jerry,” said Louis. “What shall we do, boys? It’s plain
she isn’t here.”

“I don’t know what next,” said Harry wearily, as he took off his cap and
wiped the melting snow off the visor. “What do you say, Stan?”

“She may have been here and gone,” suggested Stanley rather doubtfully,
for indeed it did not seem likely that the child would venture out into
such a storm, for the second time.

“We can’t have passed her on the way,” said Louis. “I’m sure I should
have seen her,” he added, as if to reassure himself, for a vision of
little Gyp, lying chilled and alone by the side of the road, had struck
terror to his soul.

“Gyp has plenty of pluck,” said Harry. “If she really made up her mind
to come here, no amount of storm could keep her away. Let’s ask Jerry if
she has been here. Do you suppose we can make him know what we mean?”

“I’ll try it, anyway,” said Stanley.

This little conversation had been carried on in a hurried undertone,
while the old man was still bowing and beckoning to the boys to approach
the fire. Stanley now turned to him and, following the direction of his
hand, went up to the stove in the corner.

“Jerry,” he began, “do you know little Gypsy Flemming?”

Jerry shook his head in hopeless bewilderment.

“It’s no use, Stan,” said Louis, in a low voice; “you’ll never get it
through his head, and we’re only just wasting our time talking.”

“Wait a minute, Wing,” said Harry; “it’s worth trying. Go ahead, Stan.”

“Listen, Jerry,” said Stanley firmly; “a little girl with long brown
hair, all curly, and a red coat. Has she been here?”

The old man’s face lighted with a sudden thought.

“Jerry knows,” he said, while the boys eagerly pressed nearer him.
“Little girl so high,” and he measured with his hand; “long hair, red
hat, red coat, all cold, came here this morning and played with Jim
Crow.”

As Jerry paused, the boys were startled to hear a hoarse caw from above
their heads. Looking up, they saw a black head and two bright, beady
eyes peering down at them from a beam of the rough wall.

“That’s Jim,” remarked Jerry. “Jim knows Jerry, heard Jerry call.” And
in proof of the statement, the bird just then swooped down to his
master’s shoulder where he stood, cocking his head this way and that, as
he lent a goblin-like attention to the conversation.

“Where is she now?” asked Louis excitedly.

“Gone,” said Jerry, shaking his head, while the crow bent forward and
twisted his glossy neck until he could look into his master’s face.

“Where did she go?” inquired Harry.

“Jerry do’ know.”

“Hold on, boys; too many of us asking questions at once will only rattle
him,” said Stanley. “Now, Jerry, tell me when she was here.”

“Lit’ while ago.”

“How long did she stay?”

“Good while; got warm, played with Jim, then said ‘good by’ and went
out, do’ know where.”

“I suspect that’s all we can get out of him,” said Louis. “We may as
well go on, for if he can’t tell time and doesn’t know which way she
went, we can’t gain much here.”

“At least, she’s been here,” said Harry thoughtfully; “and it can’t be
so very long since she left, I should think. What shall we do next,
Stan?”

“Let’s go on up the road a little farther,” advised Stanley. “If only
’twere not snowing so hard, so we could see her track! But that’s all
covered up.”

“Shall we all keep together, or shall we take different ways?” asked
Louis.

“Keep together,” said Stanley briefly. “It may be that we shall find her
somewhere that it will take us all to see to her.”

Though the boys made no response, they realized the awful meaning of
Stanley’s words, and it was with a dull, heavy ache in their hearts that
they sadly left the cabin. As Harry turned back, to pull the door
together after him, he got sight of the crow who was hopping up and down
on old Jerry’s shoulder, croaking and chattering in a perfect
abandonment of mirth, as if in malicious enjoyment of their trouble.

Even the short time they had spent talking with the old man had made a
great change out of doors. It was now snowing furiously, and the flakes,
instead of falling, were driven straight before the wind which had
increased to a gale, here sweeping the ground bare, there piling high
white drifts which, to the boys’ excited imaginations, looked in the
uncertain light like little mounds heaped over a human body. Twice they
started out into the road; twice they were beaten back, and stood
breathless in the shelter of the cabin. Then Louis said, as he shut his
teeth tightly together, to steady his voice,—

“This won’t do, come on.”

On and on they struggled, peering this way and that, now and again
stopping to call the child’s name, then pressing onward once more. At
length Stanley halted.

“You’ll have to leave me, boys,” he panted. “I can’t go on any farther.”

“You must,” said Harry decidedly. “It’s sure death to stop here. Wing,
you take hold one side of him, and I will the other. Steady, old fellow;
keep up your courage and try again. We’ll get to a house soon.”

Yielding to their encouragement, Stanley made another effort, and the
three boys went on, arm in arm, floundering through the drifts which
were every moment growing deeper. The road had come out into the open
fields again, and it was becoming difficult to keep in the track, while,
to add to the danger of getting lost, the early winter twilight was
settling down around them and they could see but a few paces ahead.
Stanley’s steps were growing more and more uncertain, and the other boys
staggered under the weight of supporting him. Their very eyelids were
pressed together with the sweep of the snow, and it was well-nigh
impossible for them to glance up, as they plodded onward, with only
chance—or a higher, unseen power, to guide them.

All at once, Harry stopped abruptly.

“Listen!” he exclaimed.

They listened and heard, close at hand, the welcome sound of a dog’s
bark.

“There, Stan,” said Louis, trying to speak lightly; “we’re all right
now. All we have to do is to follow our noses till we get to the house,
and then we can get warm and dry before we go on.”

They renewed their efforts, and twenty steps more brought them to the
farmhouse, only twenty steps, but to the chilled and weary boys they
seemed like twenty miles. Without waiting to knock, and only intent on
finding warmth and rest, they pushed open the heavy kitchen door and
stumbled in, dazed with the rush of light and heat which met them. Two
women sprang up as they entered, leaving a small figure before the fire.
The figure turned and calmly remarked,—

“Hullo, Harry! Come see my kitties.”

It was Gyp herself, sitting on the floor and contentedly playing with
the cat and her family, perfectly unconscious of the alarm and suffering
she had caused.

Too much exhausted to speak, now the stimulus of their anxiety was gone,
the boys sank into the hard kitchen chairs, while Gyp ran up to them,
with four or five squirming kittens gathered up in the skirt of her
little apron.

“What’s the matter?” she asked, pausing to survey them doubtfully. “Are
you cold, or only just tired?”

There was a moment of silence. Then Louis bent forward and caught the
child in his arms, with her warm cheek against his cold one. The drops
on his face were not all from the melted snow, and his lips were
quivering; but he only said,—

“Oh, Gyp!”

But fortunately boy strength and spirits are both elastic, and by the
time the lads had taken off their overcoats and drawn their chairs up to
the stove, they had rallied and were themselves again. While their plump
hostess and her rosy daughter trotted up and down, setting out a
bountiful supper for the unexpected guests, the older woman told them of
Gyp’s coming.

“We was sitting here by the fire,” she explained, as she brought out a
great mince pie to adorn the feast, “when we heard a little knock, low
down on the door. It was storming so that I was some surprised, for I
didn’t expect I’d see anybody to-day. I went straight to the door, and
there stood this little shape, looking for all the world like a great
big snowball. We pulled her in and give her some dinner and got her all
het up, sos’t she shouldn’t take cold. She told us she was Dr.
Flemming’s little girl; but there wasn’t anybody to take her home, for
our men-folks all went off after cattle, this morning. But heart alive!
did you walk up here in all this storm?”

“So’d I,” put in Gyp; “at least, it didn’t storm till I was ’most at
Jerry’s. I meant to go home again; but I was mixed up and came here
instead. I’m glad I did, though, for now I’ve seen the kitties.”

“What time did you start, Gyp?” asked Harry, taking her on his knee,
while she helped herself to his pie, unrebuked.

“Just when papa went up to school,” answered Gyp. “I wanted to get to
Jerry’s in time for dinner; but he didn’t give me any. I had lots of fun
with the crow, anyway.”

“But, Gyp,” remonstrated Louis, half-vexed at the child for being so
unconcerned; “don’t you know you were naughty to run away, and frighten
papa and mamma and all us boys?”

Gyp’s lip began to roll over, and she dropped her pie.

“I didn’t mean to,” she said. “I only wanted to see the old man and the
blue door that Leon told me ’bout.” And she burst out crying.

The boys looked at one another in dismay. It was easier for them to face
the storm than Gyp’s tears, and they hastened to console her with
assurances of pardon. The farmer’s wife came to their relief.

“Poor little tyke!” she said, taking the child into her motherly arms;
“she’s plumb tired out, and I’ll put her straight to bed.”

The supper completed the work the fire had begun, and when their hostess
came back to the kitchen, she found the boys pulling on their rubber
boots again and buttoning their coats.

“Whatever are you going to do?” she asked, in astonishment.

“We must get back now, as soon as we can,” said Louis, who had regained
all his usual grace of manner. “Dr. and Mrs. Flemming will be anxious to
hear, and we must let them know Gyp is found. We’re much obliged for the
supper, and if Gyp can stay here over night, somebody will come for her
in the morning.”

“I suppose you’d ought to go,” she answered reluctantly; “but even if
you do, you sha’n’t walk, when we’ve got a horse standing in the stable.
I’d like you to stop first-rate,” she added hospitably, as she started
in search of a lantern.

It was the work of only a few moments to harness the raw-boned old horse
to the home-made sleigh; the boys were rolled up in blankets. Harry took
the lines and they were off, with the wind at their backs, while the two
women encouraged them with shrill words of cheer, as long as they could
see the gleam of the lantern.

To both Mrs. Flemming and to Leon, the day had been a long one; and as
one party after another came back, took a hasty meal and went out again,
the suspense became almost unbearable. With an utter disregard for the
truth, the lads tried to convince the anxious mother that the storm was
not severe; but she was too familiar with the heavy snows which visit
the hill towns, to be deceived by their words. By afternoon it had
become impossible for her to keep still, and she wandered restlessly
from window to window, gazing out in the vain hope of seeing the
familiar little red coat being borne home in triumph. How cruel the
darkness seemed to her, as it settled down about the house! As the last
light faded away, she felt as if it were taking all hope with it. When
she could no longer see the outline of Old Flemming, up the hill, she
left the window, but still kept moving about the room, now stirring the
fire, now changing the position of the light in the window, and often
stopping to open the front door and listen intently. One by one, the
searching parties straggled in, each one stopping at the doctor’s to
give the same report, “No news yet,” and then going on up the hill, to
plan for their next departure.

Dame Pinny was ready for them with a hot supper, and they gathered in
the dining-room to eat and talk at once, for moments were precious.
Harry, Louis and Stanley had not yet appeared; but the boys were
expecting them at any minute, for no one but Leon knew where they had
gone, and none of the boys had been up-stairs to see him. In their
excitement, nobody noticed that he did not come down to supper.

The hurried meal was nearly ended, when the doctor came into the room.
At sight of his tired, haggard face, there was a sudden respectful
silence.

“I want to thank you all for the hard work you have done to-day,” he
said, and it was plain that it cost him an effort to speak. “And now I
must insist on your not going out again till morning. My duty to your
parents will not allow me to expose you to such a storm.”

There was a murmur of dissent from the boys; but it was stilled as the
doctor went on,—

“I am grateful for your good-will, but I shall forbid your going out
again to-night. Besides, it is useless to attempt anything in such
darkness. If Gyp is in some house, she will be perfectly safe; if not—”

He paused abruptly, rather than speak the words. The short silence which
followed, was broken by a sudden call from Jack Howard, who had
restlessly strayed to the door again.

In a second, the dining-room was deserted, and seventy anxious boys
stood bareheaded on the piazza, straining their ears to catch any sound
above the roar of the wind.

“It’s sleigh-bells!” exclaimed Max.

“Hush!” said Lieutenant Wilde, laying his hand on the shoulder of the
lad who was madly dancing up and down. “Listen again.”

This time there could be no mistake. The strong north wind was bringing
them the distant sound of bells, and with the jingling, were mingled
shouts and whistles, cheers and cat-calls, all of an unmistakably joyous
nature. The sounds came nearer and nearer, more and more distinct, until
above them all, could be heard Harry’s voice calling out the welcome
words,—

“Gyp’s found!”

And the ringing cheer from seventy throats bore the news to the lonely,
waiting mother.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER X.

                             THE HOLIDAYS.


UNLIKE another young woman who shared Gyp’s taste for solitary and
unexpected rambles, and who was punished by being put to bed until she
was rested, justice descended upon Gypsy, and after the first hour of
enthusiasm over the returned prodigal, she was informed that she must
spend the rest of the day in her own room, while for a week she could
not leave the house nor see any one of the boys who came there. This was
a severe blow to the small sinner for she had been regarding herself as
the lion of the occasion and expected to be petted and admired for her
enterprise, accordingly. However, she knew the firmness of her mother’s
discipline too well to rebel, so, with one longing glance out at the
hill where the boys were coasting, she picked up Mouse and slowly
retired to her room. Once there, she passed the time by telling her
furry companion the story of her wanderings, dwelling with an unkind
emphasis on the beauty and plumpness of the cat and kittens at the farm.

But not even Gyp’s imprisonment punished her half so much as did the
sight of Leon, a week later, when she met him one morning, hopping over
to the recitation hall on crutches. Gyp was a tender-hearted child, and
fond of Leon, so the knowledge that her running away had been, even
indirectly, the cause of his fresh injury nearly broke her small heart;
and she tried, with all sorts of coaxing, wheedling arts, to make amends
for the suffering she had brought him. The few quick steps which Leon
had taken, on that memorable day, had done serious harm to his ankle
that had by no means recovered from the previous sprain, and his using
his foot was now delayed for weeks instead of days. During the time that
Gyp was shut up, he too was a prisoner; but, with no lessons, plenty of
books to read, unlimited dainties sent up the hill by the doctor’s wife
and the boys running in at all hours, a week spent in bed was rather
luxurious than otherwise. It was not quite so much fun when, promoted to
crutches and allowed, after a day or two of experimenting on them about
his room, to slowly work his way over to his classes, he could watch the
fun from a distance without being able to have a share in it. Still, he
was somewhat consoled by the doctor’s assurance that he would be able to
go home for the holidays, and that he would be walking as well as ever,
long before winter was over. With that he was forced to content himself;
and, thanks to a happy, sunny temper, he was enabled to make the best of
a rather bad matter, and bear the trouble with such perfect good-nature
that he won the praise of all the boys and the sincere admiration of his
teachers, even to the phlegmatic Herr Linden who said approvingly, one
day,—

“So, mein sohn, you haf a brave heart.”

“What’s the use of having anything else, I’d like to know, as long as it
can’t be helped,” was Leon’s comment, when he told Harry of the old
German’s praise. “It’s worth all the bother of it to be fed up as I am,
and have all you fellows at my feet, to say nothing of the lieutenant
and old Bony himself. If ’twasn’t quite such splendid coasting, I
shouldn’t be in any hurry to get on my feet again. I do hope daddy’ll
let me come right back after the holidays, though, and not make me wait
till I’m over it.”

A day or two later, several of the cadets were strolling back from the
armory where they had their afternoon drill, now that the storms had
made the parade-ground unfit for use. Leon was with them, for he had
been over to look on, a little enviously, it must be confessed, for the
drill under Lieutenant Wilde had been his delight, and this was the
first time he had seen it since his loss of promotion, a month before.
The boys came slowly along, adapting their pace to his rather uncertain
one. As they reached the steps of Old Flemming, Leon dropped down there
in the warm sunshine. The others followed his example.

“It doesn’t seem as if ’twere almost Christmas; does it?” asked Alex,
turning up his collar to keep out the wind, and then bending down to do
the same by Leon, who sat on the step below him.

During the past month, a strong intimacy had sprung up between the two
cadets, so far apart in age. Next to Harry, Leon adored Alex as a
superior being, and was never quite so happy as when in his society.
Alex, on his side, had been attracted from the first by Leon’s
wide-awake manner and frank, open nature. Then came the boy’s accident,
and Alex had been completely won by his pluck and uncomplaining
endurance. He had been most unselfish with him, giving up many an
out-of-door frolic to stay with him, until even Harry was half-jealous
at times, and laughingly protested that Alex was cutting him out.

“Thanks, old fellow,” said Leon, turning around, as he felt the hand on
his collar. “I don’t feel in any great hurry for vacation; I’m well
enough off here,” he added contentedly.

“You might petition the doctor to keep right on,” suggested Max
wickedly, while he appropriated one of Leon’s crutches to knock down an
icicle near by.

“No,” said Leon meditatively; “I don’t know as I mind going home for a
few days for a change. What are you going to do, Alex?”

“Stay around here, somewhere,” answered Alex. “Vacation’s too short to
make it worth while to go clear to Denver and back.”

“Not go home? H’m!” And Leon thoughtfully drew down his lips and raised
his eyebrows, in unconscious imitation of Mr. Boniface.

“Seems to me this has been an unusually exciting term,” observed Paul.
“With Winslow and the football and Gyp’s getting lost and—”

“The Boniface rebellion,” added Jack, in a lower tone.

“That’s mostly over now,” said Max. “There are a few little sneaks left
that walk over him, but most of the fellows either like him or let him
alone.”

“How he’s changed!” said Paul. “He doesn’t seem like the same man that
came here in September. He was a terror, then.”

“Perhaps the change is in us,” remarked Max, in a sanctimonious
falsetto. “Maybe we’re getting good at last.”

“No danger for you, Max,” said Leon reassuringly.

“We didn’t treat him decently, though,” returned Max, whose loyalty to
Mr. Boniface had dated from the day of their long talk together. “He was
queer and green and cross, and we made him more so.”

“I like old Bony pretty well, now,” said Jack, as he stretched out his
arms along the shoulders of the boys beside him. “He’ll always be too
solemn; but he’s improved immensely, and he’s a first-rate teacher,
anyway.”

“Even if we have been three months in finding it out,” said Alex, as he
rose and then stooped to help Leon to his feet.

Two days before vacation, Leon was sitting in his room, devoting one
last hour to an approaching examination, when Harry came in, with an
envelope in his hand.

“Here’s a letter for you from father,” he said, as he tossed it over to
Leon.

Leon caught it eagerly, tore it open and ran his eye over the contents.
Then he threw it down on the table.

“Good for daddy!” he exclaimed. “Here, Hal, you can read it; I’m going
to find Alex.” And he went hurrying away.

Harry picked up the letter and read the few lines it contained; then his
face grew as bright as Leon’s had done, and he rushed off after his
brother. The note was evidently in reply to one written by Leon, asking
permission to bring Alex home for the holidays; and it brought back a
most cordial invitation from both Mr. and Mrs. Arnold. But little urging
was needed to make Alex consent to so delightful a plan, and, two or
three days later, the Arnolds carried him home to Boston in triumph.

Three jolly stage loads left Hilton that morning, to board the train at
the station eight miles down the valley. Gathered at one end of the car,
the cadets formed a noisy, gay group, now chattering and laughing until
the rest of the passengers smiled in sympathy; now rushing to the door
at a station, to give three ringing cheers for the schoolmate who was
leaving them; now quiet for a moment while some member of the party
pulled the ever-present banjo from its green bag, and played a few
strains of a rollicking college air. It is remarkable the effect a party
of schoolboys going home for the holidays, can have on a carful of
people. Gradually the men leave their politics, the women their novels,
and even the fretful baby, who has been wailing for the past fifty
miles, stops its tired sobbing, while they all gaze with growing
interest on the happy group who are by no means impressed by them in
return. They catch at the names, listen eagerly for the jokes which they
repeat to each other in undertones, and quietly compare notes on their
preferences. On this particular day, opinions were divided, for the
older men declared themselves in favor of roguish Max, the mothers
beamed on steady Alex, the young girls pronounced Louis “so elegant,”
while Leon scarcely relished the verdict of one country dame who
remarked to her daughter, with the full power of her lungs,—

“For my part, I prefer the little lame one, he is so peart.”

Mr. Arnold met the boys at the station, and they drove directly to the
house, to be welcomed there by Mrs. Arnold and Dorothy, her pretty
daughter of eighteen. The next ten days were given up to holiday
merry-making, and the four young people were continually together.
Dorothy, who was enjoying her first winter of social life, would gladly
have drawn Alex into her gay circle, for she was by no means unconscious
of the advantage of introducing a handsome, well-bred escort; but here
Alex stood firm. Nothing would tempt him to forget that Leon was his
host, and to leave him alone, for the sake of pleasures in which he
could have no share. So the days passed in drives and a little
sight-seeing for the sake of Alex, who had never before visited the
city, and the evenings were given up to games and impromptu theatricals
with the young people who dropped in, nearly every night. It was a
pleasant home party, for while Mrs. Arnold petted and coddled Leon as
only a mother can do, and Mr. Arnold and his older son had the long,
quiet talks which so plainly showed the close intimacy between father
and child; in the meantime, Alex and Dorothy had established a frank,
cordial friendship, and indulged in a mild flirtation varied, now and
then, by a merry war of words.

On the last evening of the vacation and as the final frolic of the
holidays, the Arnolds and Alex went to the theatre together. The people
around them smiled sympathetically at their bright faces, as Dorothy
came in, followed by the three cadets, all in full uniform, and the tall
young cadet turned from the daintily-dressed girl, to help the short,
slight lad at his other side.

“I say, Dorry,” remarked Leon, bending across in front of Alex, to speak
to his sister; “I hope you aren’t easily puffed up. ’Tisn’t every girl
here that has a new frock and three elegant young men to take care of
her, and one of them a crippled veteran of the last campaign, at that.”

Dorothy gave him a look of amused scorn.

“Three young men!” she echoed in disdain. “You’d better say two young
men and one little boy. You’re nothing but a child, you know, and only
allowed to be up so late as a special indulgence, just for this once.”

Leon’s answering shot was prevented by the rising of the curtain, and
from that time on, they thought nothing more of themselves or the
audience, as they followed one of the most brilliant young actors of his
day in his changing fortunes, now at the country farm, now in the
excitement of London life, then back to the quiet home once more; now
laughing almost convulsively at the rustic’s struggles to attain the
height of city fashion, and now finding their eyes grow suddenly dim as
he turned from his scoffing friends to welcome his good old mother, in
spite of her strange, eccentric garb. In reality, it was only for two or
three hours that they sat there; but as the curtain fell, it seemed to
them that months had passed since they entered the theatre, and that
they had lived through the scenes which had gone on before them, for
with rare power and skill, the young hero avoided any professional
manner, but with his rich touches of fun, his grandly simple pathos, he
stood in all their eyes, not as an actor, but as a living, human man.

They did not talk much while they were driving home through the quiet,
snowy streets, for they were thinking of the play, and of their parting,
the next morning. But the stir of getting out of the carriage and going
into the house had roused them all, so that four rosy, wide-awake young
people entered the parlor, laughing and talking in a blithe chorus. Mr.
and Mrs. Arnold looked up to greet them, as they came in.

“You ought to have gone, mother,” Harry exclaimed. “It was too funny for
anything. I thought Leon would roll out of his chair, laughing.”

“After all,” added Dorothy, as she went up to the fire; “funny as it all
was, there was a cry under the laugh, till I didn’t know whether ’twas
more funny or sad.”

“Come, Dot, stop your wisdom and give us a song to top off with,”
demanded Harry, who stood leaning against the mantel, looking down on
his pretty sister with evident approval.

“I will,” said she, with her usual readiness; “and I’ll choose this one
because, if anything can teach us to appreciate our homes and parents,
it ought to be the little story we have watched to-night.”

Dorothy spoke with a sweet, gentle seriousness quite unusual with her,
for she was much like Leon in her bright, merry disposition, and
inclined to treat life as one long, happy frolic. Perhaps the tender
passages in the play had touched her girlish heart, perhaps she had some
dim realization of what the future had in store for her. However it
might have been, she threw aside her wraps, drew off her long, light
gloves and, going over to the piano, she sang the simple little song
from “The Water Babies,” which stood as the motto for the play.

                 “When all the world is young, lad,
                    And all the trees are green;
                  And every goose a swan, lad,
                    And every lass a queen;
                  Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
                    And round the world away;
                  Young blood must have its course, lad,
                    And every dog his day.

                 “When all the world is old, lad,
                    And all the trees are brown;
                  And all the sport is stale, lad,
                    And all the wheels run down;
                  Creep home and take your place there,
                    The spent and maimed among;
                  God grant you find one face there,
                    You loved when all was young.”

“Bee-youtiful, Dorry!” remarked Leon, from the easy chair, where he had
thrown himself down when he came in. “If you’d only just put a little
more feeling into the last part of it, you’d have made me cry.”

“Don’t you mind his impertinence, Dot,” said Mr. Arnold. “I’ll try to
keep him quiet, and you sing something else. No matter if it is late; it
is our last night together for some time.”

So Dorothy sang on, giving them one old favorite after another, as they
were called for; and to Alex, as he stood leaning on the piano with his
chin in his hands, watching the group before him, it seemed that no home
could be happier than this one, where parents and children were bound
together in such pleasant, lasting intimacy. It was only an every-day
home picture, it is true, but one telling an eloquent story of father
and mother love, of respect and honor from the children, well-deserved
and freely given, of perfect understanding and good-will on both sides.

“Now,” said Dorothy mischievously; “I’ll stop, after I have sung one
more for the benefit of the boys.” And turning back to the piano, she
sang “Sweet Home.”

Her face at first was brimming with fun; but the old familiar strains
brought back her former mood and, dropping her tone of exaggerated
sentiment, she sang it as simply and sweetly as a little child, while
her hearers, forgetting to laugh at the trite old lines, took up the
refrain of the last verse, and the sound died away in a happy chorus of
“sweet home.”

No one broke the hush that followed, until Leon said pensively,—

“I know I shall cry myself to sleep to-night, after Dorothy’s harrowing
me up in such style.”


[Illustration: AN EVERY-DAY HOME PICTURE.—Page 176.]


“You’d better take an umbrella up-stairs with you, Dot,” suggested
Harry. “Leon is right over you, you know, and if the ceiling should
leak, you’d get a ducking to pay for your song.”

“I wouldn’t go back, Leon, if I felt so badly about it as all that,”
said his father. “I confess that I hate to have you go, myself; I’d much
prefer to have you here, in charge of Dr. Bruce.”

“Don’t go, Leon,” urged his mother anxiously. “I’m afraid you’ll get a
fall on your crutches, or strain your foot again, in some way. You’d
better stay here at home, till you are over this.”

“Oh, mother,” remonstrated Harry; “Leon is just as well off up there.
We’ll take good care of him, I promise you.”

“One thing is certain,” said his father seriously; “that was the last
game of football that either of my sons will play, with my consent. You
needn’t groan, Leon, I mean just what I say.”

“Yes,” added Dorothy a little inconsiderately; “we’ve had football
enough for one family. This sprain of Leon’s has spoiled all the fun,
this vacation.”

Leon flushed.

“Speak for yourself, if you please, Dorry,” he said almost angrily. “I’m
sorry if I’ve been a drag on you; but, for my part, I’ve never enjoyed
the holidays so much. Have you, daddy?” And forgetting his momentary
temper, he laughed up at his father, who stood thoughtfully studying his
son’s face.

Mr. Arnold roused himself at the question.

“The holidays have been a success, have they, sonny? Well, I’ve hated to
see you hopping around in this way; but I’ve rather enjoyed it, after
all, for if you’d been quite well, you would all have gone gallivanting
off, and left the old people alone at home.”

“This is more fun than gallivanting,” said Leon serenely. “I’ll leave
that till Easter, or till mother and Dot come up to Flemming, next
month. But I think I’ll gallivant to bed now, for I’m uncommonly sleepy.
Come on, boys.”

He picked up his crutches, kissed his father and mother good night in
the same way he had done ever since he was a little boy, and limped
away, laughing and joking with his brother and Alex. As he passed the
door, some impulse made him turn back to add merrily,—

“Good night again, daddy. This is positively the last time.”

How often both the words and the scene came back to him, with the memory
of that evening!

Bright and early the next morning, the lads started on their journey,
for they had prolonged their vacation until the last possible moment.
The whole family drove to the station with them, and as the train rolled
away, the boys’ last glimpse was of handsome, kindly Mr. Arnold, waving
them one parting salute.

The term opened on that morning, and nearly all the boys were back, so
the Arnolds and Alex took the little journey by themselves. It seemed a
short ride to them all, for what with the past vacation and the coming
term, they had so much to talk over that they were all rather surprised
when they came into the familiar station, and saw the old stage waiting
for them.

In spite of the good times they had been enjoying, it was very pleasant
to Leon to go to supper in the great dining-room, and listen to the
uproar of seventy-five boys all talking at once; and when, an hour
later, he and Stanley and Max, with half a dozen others, were gathered
around the fire in Lieutenant Wilde’s room, planning for a sleighing
party, it seemed as if the home he had left that morning, were thousands
of miles and countless weeks away. It was not that he cared less for his
home than other boys do; but this happy school life had already become
so familiar to him that he dropped back into it just as naturally as,
ten days before, he had settled into his old home corner.

But when at last he fell asleep, on that first night of the opening
term, he found himself at home again, lying on the sofa, with his father
by his side. And his father bent over and said something to him. What
the words were, he knew not, nor yet the meaning; but he felt a strange,
deep sadness creep over him, and then his father’s face faded away from
his sight, and he was left alone.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XI.

                           STANLEY CAMPBELL.


“ARE you going to be busy this afternoon, Campbell?” asked Lieutenant
Wilde, as they came out from dinner one Saturday noon.

“Nothing special,” answered Stanley. “Is there anything I can do for
you?”

“I wondered whether you would be willing to go over to the laboratory,
and help me get ready for one or two experiments that I want to show the
class Monday morning. Don’t come, if you’ve anything else on hand.”

“I haven’t a thing,” said Stanley eagerly. “Really, I’d like no better
fun.”

“Well, I’m going over at half-past two. Will you be over there? Or come
to my room for me, if you like. I have a letter to write first.” And
Irving Wilde turned away to go to his room, while Stanley joined a group
of cadets who were standing in the hall, to discuss their plans for
making the best of a stormy Saturday afternoon.

Punctually at half-past two o’clock, Stanley and Lieutenant Wilde were
walking across the grounds to the recitation hall. It was a dreary, raw
day, with a heavy rain beating down, splashing on the paved walks and
soaking the earth until little dark gray pools of snow and water lay
here and there, while an occasional patch of brown, dead grass came up
through its white covering. But if it was cold and dismal outside, the
little laboratory was warm and comfortable enough to make up for it, and
Stanley gave his favorite inarticulate grunt of content as he hung up
his dripping cap and overcoat beside Lieutenant Wilde’s. It was no
hardship for him to have to help Lieutenant Wilde that day. The two were
excellent friends, and the lieutenant had often admitted to himself that
he found no one of the cadets more companionable than this silent, slow
boy of fourteen. Though Stanley might lack the brilliancy of Max or
Leon, and had to work far longer at his lessons than many another boy,
yet he never stopped until he understood his subject to its foundations,
and knowledge so thoroughly gained was never lost. No skimming over the
top of things, no hasty cramming would satisfy Stanley Campbell. He must
and would know his subject through and through, before it could make any
lasting impression on his mind. No matter, then, that when any test
came, he was found to lead his class. Such boys as Stanley go far
towards making the solid men who are much more the real leaders of the
nation, than the brilliant talkers and thinkers that float lightly along
on the surface of events but, like all other driftwood, lodge and stick
fast when they come to a rock in their passage. And moreover, silent and
unresponsive as Stanley was generally thought to be, Lieutenant Wilde
and his intimate boy friends knew him better. True, the lad could not
talk easily, partly from shyness, partly from utter inability to rattle
off the random nonsense which was the delight of the other boys; but,
under all his outward reserve, he kept up a strong interest in the
conversation, and his face would grow merry or soften by turns, and
often he would give the speaker a quick glance of understanding at some
little point, too slight to catch the notice of his companions. But
however silent he might be in general, he was always at his ease with
Lieutenant Wilde who saw and appreciated the real fineness of his mind,
and predicted a broad and honorable future for the lad.

“I haven’t so very much to do, after all; only a few sulphur
experiments,” remarked Lieutenant Wilde, with a laugh, as he began
setting out an array of flasks and beakers and rubber and glass tubes,
on the long, broad desk which ran across one side of the room. “I’m
afraid, if the truth were told, Campbell, I wanted your company more
than I did your help, this afternoon. Still, you may light the gas
there, if you will.”

Stanley did so, and then stood watching his teacher as he scientifically
linked together his flasks and tubes, now mixing innocent-looking
substances with a practised hand, now applying the flame to this
compound, or adding a few drops of acid to that.

“There,” he said, after looking closely at one of them for a moment;
“that will begin to work now. Bring up a couple of stools, Stanley; we
may as well make ourselves comfortable, for all we can do at present is
to watch this. I wanted to see that they were all in order for next
time, and not have them fail me, as my chlorine experiment did. Do you
know,” he added, with an anxious frown; “I am a little suspicious of
some of these last chemicals.”

“Why?” asked Stanley, as he seated himself astride his lofty stool.

“They don’t act just right, and I’m not at all sure that they are pure.
Still, they came from the same house that always supplies us, and they
must be good.” And Lieutenant Wilde bent his head, to look more closely
at the bubbling mixture.

“What if they aren’t pure?” inquired Stanley.

“Oh, they may explode; that’s the worst they can do,” said Lieutenant
Wilde, laughing at the boy’s dismayed face and involuntary motion away
from the desk. “You needn’t worry, Campbell,” he added reassuringly; “I
think these are probably all they ought to be.”

“I wonder how I’d like to be a chemist,” remarked Stanley thoughtfully.

“You have rather a gift for it,” responded Lieutenant Wilde, resting one
elbow on the desk, while he twirled his glasses by their bows, in the
other hand.

“I’m afraid I haven’t much gift for anything,” said Stanley, and there
was a little tone of regret in his voice, as he went on, “I wish I could
get at things as quick as Max does. It seems as if he knew everything,
without studying it at all. He’s an awfully bright fellow, Lieutenant
Wilde.”

“Yes,” assented Lieutenant Wilde absently. He was mentally weighing the
two boys, as unlike as boys could be.

They were silent for a few moments. Lieutenant Wilde could see that the
boy had something on his mind. He moved restlessly on his stool, while
he leaned his elbows on the desk in front of him, and fitted the
knuckles of his left hand against the knuckles of his right, with a
frowning precision. When he looked up, it was to meet his teacher’s
steady, inquiring gaze, and his face suddenly brightened, showing one
little dimple in his smooth, round chin.

“Well, Stanley?” said Lieutenant Wilde; laughing.

“Well?”

“You’ve something in your head; out with it!”

“How do you know?” asked Stanley rather abruptly, surprised at being
found out.

“How did I know? Why, everything about you tells it, except your tongue,
so that may as well speak,” answered Lieutenant Wilde, smiling as he
watched the boy’s face.

“I believe you do know everything, Lieutenant Wilde,” said Stanley.
“You’ve told me so much, you’d better finish, and say what it’s about?”

“Is it about Max?”

Stanley nodded.

“There’s nothing wrong with him, I hope.”

“No, I don’t know as there is; at least, nothing special. No, there
isn’t really,” answered Stanley, who had a curious habit of thinking
aloud, whenever he was much absorbed.

“What is it, Stanley?” asked Lieutenant Wilde quite seriously.

“It really isn’t anything; honestly, Lieutenant Wilde,” said Stanley,
supporting his chin on his hands and looking straight into his teacher’s
face. “I truly hadn’t any business to say anything, for I’ve most likely
imagined it all; but you caught me by taking me by surprise.”

“You’ve gone so far, Campbell,” said Lieutenant Wilde, as he moved to
light the gas under another flask; “that it isn’t quite fair to Max not
to talk it over and let me judge whether or not you have imagined some
trouble that isn’t there. Come,” he added persuasively; “you ought to be
able to trust me with it, Stanley. Have you boys been having a quarrel,
or has Max been shirking his work?”

“Neither,” replied Stanley. “It can’t do any harm to talk about it to
you, Lieutenant Wilde; it’s only this, have you noticed how Max is
getting in with Osborn and his set, lately?”

Lieutenant Wilde suddenly became very grave, and frowned a little, as he
sat with his eyes fixed on the rain-streaked window across the room. Of
late, Osborn and his friends had been causing Dr. Flemming more anxiety
than all the rest of his pupils. Their increasing disregard of
discipline and reckless extravagance threw little credit upon the
school, while their influence upon the other boys was far from helpful.
As they did just enough work to keep their place in their classes, and
were wary enough to avoid any open outbreak, there seemed to be no
reasonable excuse for sending them away from Flemming. But though the
doctor always hesitated about open expulsion, since he knew well how
difficult it would be for a pupil whom he had dismissed, to gain
admission anywhere else, yet he was only waiting till the end of the
year, to give them a quiet hint to leave Flemming, in search of another
school.

“I hadn’t thought of it,” Lieutenant Wilde answered, after considering
the matter for a moment. “Isn’t Max with your set, as much as he used to
be?”

“I don’t know but he is,” replied Stanley; “only ’tisn’t in just the
same way. He’s all the time running off to see some of them. I’m not a
bit jealous, Lieutenant Wilde,” and Stanley laughed uneasily; “but they
aren’t a good kind of fellows for Max to be with.”

“That’s very true, Stanley,” responded Lieutenant Wilde quickly;
“they’re the worst possible friends for an impulsive, good-natured boy
like Max, for he’s easily led, and before he knows it, they’ll get him
into trouble. How long has it been going on?”

“All this term. He’s with us a great deal of the time; but he and Osborn
are both training for the ninety-two crew, and besides, since the boys
started the quartette, that takes Louis and Leon and Paul and Alex, with
Harry for the banjo, and it sort of leaves Max by himself. Then he
doesn’t have to study nearly so much as the rest of us do; that gives
him more chance for fun, and so he takes up with them. They’re a jolly
set and make it lively for him; you see, they want to hang on to him,
for they know he’s in with the Arnolds and Alex and those fellows that
won’t have anything to do with them. I don’t think Max is to blame; but
he may get into a scrape, for all that, for they’re a reckless crowd,
and Max is always ready for a joke,” explained Stanley, not very
lucidly.

Lieutenant Wilde stroked his silky moustache and bit his lip
thoughtfully.

“I don’t quite like it, Campbell,” he said; “and I am very glad you
spoke of it. I’ll try to get a word with Max before long, and see if I
can’t break it up.”

“Oh, don’t!” exclaimed Stanley hastily.

“Don’t you be afraid, I won’t say anything about you. I only want to
caution him, as I have all of you, over and over again, to be careful in
choosing his friends. Max is a magnificent fellow and would never mean
to go wrong; but he is so fond of fun that he loses his head a little
sometimes, and I will just put him on his guard, that’s all.”

There was a moment of silence, and then Lieutenant Wilde said, with one
of his frank, boyish laughs, as he put on his glasses and leaned forward
to survey the compound before him,—

“Do you know, Stanley, that I make myself think now and then of a
Japanese juggler with his balls, when he is throwing them up by turns,
to keep them all in the air. It’s just about the way I have to do with
you boys, first one of you, then another, to keep you going the way I
want you to. It would be ever so much easier for me, if I didn’t care
about you and just let you go on in your own way; but I hate to see you
go wrong, so I have to put in my word occasionally. Perhaps we’re all
the better friends for it, though, and—I’ll see if I can’t give Max a
little start, to set him straight once more. Now,” he went on, “I must
see to this. Will you just hand me the largest flask you can find in
that closet over there?”

Stanley slid down from his high stool and went across to the closet,
while Lieutenant Wilde hastily pushed aside the low gas-burner, with its
flaring jet of colorless flame. The boy stood behind the half-open door,
comparing two or three of the flasks before him, when he heard an
ominous click and a short, sharp exclamation from Lieutenant Wilde. The
next instant, the room echoed with a loud explosion which jarred the
windows and doors in their casements, and set every flask and funnel to
dancing on its shelf; there was a rush of suffocating vapor that filled
the room and, catching fire where it was densest, blazed up in a dull
blue flame about the desk. Then came that sickening sound, the thud of a
heavily-falling body. For one moment, Stanley stood as if dazed by the
report; but it was for only one. Then this boy who was counted as slow
by his friends, returned to his senses and, only conscious that some
accident had occurred and that there was need of prompt action, turned
to see Lieutenant Wilde lying senseless on the floor, below the desk
which appeared to be enveloped in a mass of flame. It was but the work
of an instant to leap forward, turn off the gas, then rush to the
nearest window and throw it open with an unconscious force which
shattered the glass; only an instant, but it showed the stuff of which
the lad was made, and proved his ability to think and act quickly in an
emergency that would have paralyzed many an older person. From window to
window he hurried, throwing them wide open to let in the cool outer air,
then back to his teacher’s side, where he stooped to look at him closely
and steadily, though his heart sickened at the sight.

Lieutenant Wilde lay in the same cramped position in which he had
dropped when the rush of gas had stifled him; his eyebrows and moustache
were burned half off, and his face was cut here and there with the bits
of flying glass. For a minute, the boy’s courage failed, but he quickly
nerved himself again, when he remembered that they were alone in the
building and that immediate aid must be summoned. No calling would do,
for the boys were all inside the house, and the noise of the storm would
drown the sound of his voice. But, on the other hand, dared he leave
Lieutenant Wilde? He might then be dying, or even dead. Desperately he
tore off his coat, rolled it into a sort of pillow and arranged it under
the young man’s head. Then he rushed away, bareheaded and in his shirt
sleeves, through the cold, drizzling rain, down to the doctor’s house.

The doctor met him on the steps, for he had heard the explosion, and,
seeing him coming in this strange plight, he at once imagined some
serious trouble, an impression increased at sight of the boy’s drawn,
ash-colored face.

“Come quick—to the laboratory—Lieutenant Wilde!” panted Stanley
breathlessly.

The doctor turned to his wife, who had followed him out to the piazza.

“Send Maggie for Mr. Boniface,” he said briefly; “you stay here till I
send you some word.” And he hurried away up the hill after Stanley, who
had rushed back to the laboratory again.

When the doctor entered the laboratory, his nephew had opened his eyes
and was breathing with short, quick gasps, as he lay with his head and
shoulders supported on Stanley’s knees, while the boy bent over him,
anxiously gazing down, in the hope of receiving a glance of recognition.
In as few words as possible, Stanley told what had occurred, adding
pleadingly,—

“I did what I could, sir, and then called you,” as if fearing he might
in some way be blamed for the explosion.

“I know you did,” said the doctor heartily, just as Mr. Boniface came in
the room. “I don’t quite like the looks here, though,” he added, as
Lieutenant Wilde’s eyes closed heavily again, and he gave a little moan.
“Campbell, you’ve run enough, but I shall have to ask you to go and send
either Keith or Lincoln for the doctor, and then tell Mrs. Flemming what
has happened and to be ready for us to bring him down to the house, as
soon as he can be moved. Tell her to keep you there and look out for you
a little,” he went on kindly, as he noticed the hard, strained lines
about the boy’s white lips.

“Do you think he—?” faltered Stanley.

“I can’t tell yet,” interrupted the doctor, as if unwilling to hear the
words; “but if he comes out of this, he has you to thank. Go now,
please.”

The news had already flown through the school, and as Stanley went down
the hill, with his coat thrown carelessly over his shoulders, he was
waylaid and questioned by group after group of his schoolmates who had
rushed out, anxious to learn the truth, even at its worst. But Stanley
only answered with a word or two, and hastened on to give his messages
for, now that the reaction had come, he felt strangely weak and sick.

The rest of the afternoon was to him like a long, confused dream: the
half hour of anxious waiting, when kind Mrs. Flemming, in the midst of
her dread and her hurry, made him lie down on the sofa and take the
stimulant of which he stood so sorely in need; then the sound of heavy
steps as the doctor and Mr. Boniface, Jack and Alex brought the young
man into the house and up to the room which Mrs. Flemming had made ready
for him; then the quick trot of the doctor’s horse, as he came hurrying
up the hill; all the stir throughout the house, that comes with any
sudden illness. Then followed the dreadful stillness, when the old
doctor went into the room and the door closed behind him, and Stanley,
Alex and Jack sat on the stairs outside, listening oh! so intently for
any sound that might tell them what was passing within. They did not
speak, not even to whisper a syllable to each other, but sat silently
gazing at the opposite wall, in an agony of waiting. No harm to one of
their schoolmates, to Mr. Boniface, or even to the doctor himself could
have moved them as did this sudden fear of losing Lieutenant Wilde. They
felt as if they had never before appreciated him; and in their minds,
they were going over and over again the many pleasant hours they had
spent together, with a vague feeling that it all was ended now.

But someone was moving in the room, and now and then a low voice could
be heard. Then all was still again; but presently the door opened and
Mr. Boniface came out. He was smiling a little, and to the anxious lads,
his homely face looked like the face of an angel of light, as he came
down to them and seated himself at Stanley’s side.

“It’s not so bad as we thought,” he said, in a low tone. “He was stunned
by the explosion and half-suffocated with the gas; but he’s come to
himself now, and the doctor says the worst is over. He’s badly cut with
the glass, and burned; but his spectacles saved his eyes, and the rest
is painful, rather than dangerous, so it won’t be long till he’s as well
as ever.”

As Stanley gave a deep sigh of relief, Mr. Boniface put his hand on his
shoulder, while he went on,—

“And the doctor, Dr. Rowe, I mean, says that if this boy hadn’t kept his
wits about him as he did, we shouldn’t have had Lieutenant Wilde with us
now. Nothing but his quick thought in turning off the gas and letting in
more air, could have saved him. We can’t thank you, Campbell; but we can
congratulate you, and admire you for the part you have played. And now I
must leave you to tell the others, while I go back up-stairs. Don’t let
the boys make any noise outside, for they want Lieutenant Wilde to get
to sleep.” And he quietly left them.

“You’re the hero of the school, Stan,” said Jack, as the boys stood up,
with a queer, dizzy feeling, now that their anxiety was at an end.

“I knew you had it in you, though,” added Alex, as they put on their
caps. “There isn’t another fellow in Flemming that would have done as
well, and I’m proud to call you a friend of mine.”

And they went away to tell the good news.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XII.

                           MIDWINTER REVELS.

           “‘SHE sleeps, she sle-eps, my la-a-ady sle-e-eps.’”

But my lady was not sleeping; quite the reverse. After the excitement of
an evening spent in her brothers’ room, Dorothy was still lying awake,
thinking over the events of the day, when the boyish voice fell upon her
ears. Rising cautiously, so as not to disturb her sleeping mother, she
threw a heavy shawl across her shoulders and stole noiselessly across
the room to the window. There was no moon, but the white snow below and
the clear stars above made it easy for her to distinguish the scene
before her. But for once, Dorothy’s eyes were heedless of the long lines
of hill and valley, as she bent forward to peer down on the lawn below.
It was a most romantic-looking figure who stood there, banjo in hand;
and though the voice was quite unfamiliar, Dorothy was sure she could
recognize the dark, oval face and flashing eyes raised towards her
window as, after a short interlude, the singer went on,—

                      “‘Wind of the summer night.’”

“Boo-o!” shivered Dorothy, as the incongruity between the words and the
frost which was nipping her bare, cold feet, flashed into her brain.
“That must be the only serenade he knows, or else they never have cold
nights down south. But what’s the matter?”

A sudden sound like splashing water had succeeded an abrupt pause in the
serenade, and the next moment, the air below was thick with flying
snowballs that dashed against the singer’s back and shoulders, covering
him from head to foot with a soft, light powder. However, he stood his
ground valiantly, and with one proud glance towards the spot where he
supposed his unseen enemies to be, he strummed another short interlude,
and began on the last verse,—

                   “‘Mo-o-on of the su-ummer night.’”

But a carefully-aimed ball, which struck the back of his neck, just
above his upturned collar, was followed by a second volley so determined
that the cavalier took to his heels, regardless of his lady, who stood
peeping between the curtains and laughing at the fate of her tuneful
guest. She watched him until he had vanished in the darkness, and then
was about to creep back into bed again, when her quick ear caught a
crunching of the snow beneath, and in a moment more, she saw four
figures standing under her window, in place of the one who had gone. A
second glance told her that the shortest of the group was leaning on
crutches, and that the tallest had in his buttonhole a flower singularly
like the carnations she had worn in her belt, that evening. Then they
began to sing; but before she had time to recognize her brother’s clear,
high voice, and the deep bass notes of Alex, it had dawned upon her that
the Flemming quartette had come to serenade her and, finding someone
else upon the scene before them, had taken the quickest and surest means
of driving away the intruder.

                   “‘Good night, good night, beloved!
                       I come to watch o’er thee,’”

They were singing; and in spite of the beauty of the familiar strains,
Dorothy smiled to herself, as she thought of the undercurrent of meaning
which lay beneath the words. She knew that neither of her brothers
approved of Osborn’s evident admiration for her, and were probably
exulting in this opportunity to drive their unsuccessful rival from the
field.

As the last words died away upon the still night air, she hastily
snatched from a vase near by, the flowers she had been wearing, softly
opened her window and, with one quick sweep of her arm, dropped them
directly at the feet of the tallest singer. He stooped a moment to
gather them up from the snow, then bowed low in acknowledgment, as the
four voices took up the sadder, sweeter melody of the “Soldier’s
Farewell.”

That was all: only a school-boy frolic, and three, at least, of the
singers had no more thought of sentiment than they would have done in
listening to the band on parade. But if it were all child’s play, why
did Dorothy’s fair face grow suddenly wistful, under cover of the
darkness, as she watched them move away down the road; and why was she
conscious of her heart’s giving a quick throb of pleasure, when she saw
the tallest cadet slacken his pace and stretch out a hand to help
support his shorter comrade, as he limped slowly along over the slippery
crust? What a true knight he was, she said to herself; and then felt the
hot blood rush to her cheeks, at the thought of that unqualified
pronoun, “He.”

True to their promise made to Leon in the holidays, Mrs. Arnold and
Dorothy had come up to Hilton for a week, and Dorothy was holding high
carnival among the cadets. Captivated from the first by her pretty face
and dainty gowns, the boys had besieged Harry with requests for
introductions; and the acquaintance, once begun, was followed up
eagerly, as they came to know more of her. Her frank liking for them
all, and her evident enjoyment of the little entertainments they
prepared for her, quite won their hearts, and Dorothy soon had the
Wilders at her feet, while Frank Osborn, to Harry’s great disgust,
insisted upon lavishing on her the countless little attentions, which he
knew so well how to render acceptable to a young and charming girl.

Mrs. Arnold was a model chaperon, and Dorothy enjoyed the week to the
utmost, entering into all the frolics with a heartiness which was,
however, never quite so apparent as when Alex was included in them.
There were grand coasting parties in the clear, cold starlight, when
Mrs. Flemming and Mrs. Arnold were each the centre of a little group
whose members had been too late to carry off Dorothy instead; there were
long hours of skating, on the little pond at the foot of the hill; there
was the daily expedition to the armory with Leon, to watch the drill
which was now in charge of Adjutant Sterne, while Lieutenant Wilde was
still confined to the house, as a result of his accident; and there were
impromptu spreads and euchre parties in the different rooms, after
evening study-hour. Day by day, Harry was becoming more and more proud
of his sister, while Alex and Paul and Louis and Jack and a dozen more
were eagerly contending for her smiles.

The last evening of the visit was to be given up to a dinner at the
doctor’s, although Mrs. Flemming had said, rather apologetically, as she
invited her guests,—

“I’m afraid we’re hardly in good order for company. My nephew will be
able to be down-stairs, but he doesn’t sit up much yet. Still, if you
can excuse his lack of manners, we shall all enjoy your being with us.”

It was a pleasant, informal evening, and when Harry, and Alex came to
take the guests home, they found Dorothy sitting by the sofa, chattering
gayly with Lieutenant Wilde, who looked very handsome and manly, in
spite of his undress uniform, and a most undignified strip of plaster
running down his left cheek. It was the first time the boys had seen him
since his accident and, made to feel at home by Mrs. Flemming’s cordial
welcome, and her assurances that it was too early for her company to
break up, they established themselves by the sofa, full of boyish
solicitude for his health, and eager questions as to his getting out
among them again.

Quite too soon the evening was over, and Dorothy found herself bidding
her hostess good night, then going out into the clear, frosty air, with
Alex at her side. They walked on in silence for a little way, then
Dorothy said enthusiastically,—

“Such a pleasant evening! It has been a fit ending to our visit here.”

“How did you like Lieutenant Wilde?” asked Alex. “Had you seen him
before to-night?”

“No; this was my first glimpse of him, and I don’t wonder that he’s
Hal’s hero. He’s every inch a man and a soldier. But do you know, Mr.
Sterne,” she added, with a laugh, “I’ve become so used to uniforms,
since I came up here, that I shall find it very hard to see nothing but
plain black coats, when I go home. You’ve all done so much to make me
have a good time, that you have quite spoiled me.”

“We have the worst of it,” Alex assured her. “We have to settle down now
for two months of steady grind, without the prospect of seeing a soul
outside the school, till the Easter holidays. Your being here has been a
perfect blessing to us; I only wish it hadn’t been quite so short.”

“I’m glad it seems short to you,” she answered frankly. “It has been
delightful, every moment of it; but I began to be afraid that Hal’s
friends would be heartily tired of entertaining me. You’ve certainly
done it right royally, and I wish I didn’t have to leave Hilton in the
morning.”

There was another little pause. Then she added, as they drew near the
gate where Harry and his mother stood waiting for them,—

“One more word I want to say, Mr. Sterne, before we say good night and
good by. Leon has told me, and I have seen how kind you have been to
him, since he hurt his foot. Let me thank you for it all, please, and
say how we appreciate it.” And she put out her hand impulsively.

Alex raised his cap, as he bent over the little hand.

“It was nothing,” he answered simply. “I was glad to do it for him—and
for you.” And as he walked back to Old Flemming, he was conscious that
the coming weeks would seem long and lonely to him, after the happiness
of the last one; and he found himself looking forward to June and
Commencement with an interest hitherto unknown.

It had been hard work for the Wilders to settle down to routine again,
the day after the Arnolds went home; and, as Alex had said, they had two
months of uninterrupted work before them. The new term was, by this
time, well on in its course, and the day was fast approaching when Leon
was to be allowed to give up his crutches and to use his foot again,
though with a little care at first. While athletics were out of the
question for the present, it would be such a delight to be able to walk
again, that he accepted the rest without a thought of complaint.
Lieutenant Wilde, too, had quickly recovered from his injuries and
resumed his usual place in the school where he was more than ever
idolized by his boys, who knew how near they had come to losing him.

In the meantime, January had drawn to a close, and Leon’s birthday had
come. The Wilders, with whom he was a general favorite, had put their
heads together to make the day merry enough to atone for any good times
he might have lost, as a result of his sprain, and with Alex and Max at
their head, the boys had not been slow to plan the jokes and surprises
which kept appearing from early morning until late at night. A long
drive with the doctor kept Leon out of the way during the whole
afternoon; and while he was gone, the lads busied themselves in making
ready for the spread which was to be the grand climax of the day. The
village store and the local bakery—pie-foundry, as Max called it—had
been ransacked, and the servants had received a generous bribe to do a
little extra cooking, when, as if in furtherance of their plans, a huge
box had arrived from home, and Harry had unpacked a tempting array of
goodies, in the midst of the admiring plaudits of the boys.

As seven o’clock struck, Harry appeared at Lieutenant Wilde’s door, to
escort his brother to his room, for Leon had not been allowed to return
there, after his drive in the afternoon. With due ceremony, he was
marched down the hall, between his brother and Lieutenant Wilde, and
ushered into the room which was strangely transformed for the reception.
The beds had been taken down and piled into Louis’s room across the
hall, while additional tables had been brought in and arranged in a row,
to form one long one, which was literally covered with the feast that
the lads had collected, to do honor to the occasion.

As Leon came inside the door, his guests rose to welcome him, and here
the surprise was perfect; for instead of the usual unbroken array of
gray uniforms, there were several fine ladies present to grace the
feast. This idea had come from Max, who had spent much time and shown
considerable ingenuity in devising the costumes from the material at
hand. A short curly bang, a great bath-sponge fastened to the top of his
head, eyeglasses and a sheet gracefully draped into a robe and enlivened
with a crimson portière, by way of court train, transformed Miss
Margaret Eliot, as she was introduced, into a very fair type of society
girl; while Harold King’s delicate face and slight figure were set off
by a red tablespread for a skirt, surmounted by a pale blue
dressing-gown belonging to Louis. Louis himself appeared in a trailing
blue gown, garnished with as many watch chains and scarf pins as the
entire force of the Wilders could afford, while a stuffed owl adorned
one shoulder, a huge bunch of red paper roses rested on the other, and
his head was covered with Dame Pinney’s second-best cap which Max had in
some way managed to coax her into lending. Stanley Campbell’s freckled
face and short, straight brown hair were unmistakably boyish; but Max
had done his best to disguise the work of nature with a dark green skirt
whose cambric breadths were insecurely basted together with long white
stitches, a gay orange and blue blazer and a broad straw hat, from which
waved a garland of peacock feathers. However gorgeous was the result,
when Max had added the finishing touches to his work, he had been moved
to confess that Stanley looked far more like an Indian on the war-path,
than the pretty girl for whom he was intended. But proud as the boys
were of their own costumes, one and all agreed that Baby was the real
success of the evening. Jack Howard’s long white cotton gown was tied in
at the waist by a broad blue cambric sash, blue bows fluttered airily on
his shoulders where a wide hem and the letters F. H. in indelible ink
made their appearance, and a blue band caught together the long golden
curls of a wig that Lieutenant Wilde had worn in some West Point
theatricals.

“The gentlemen will please escort the ladies to the table,” called
Harry, who had been chosen floor-manager of the occasion. “The hero of
the evening can have first choice.”

Leon advanced a step, and appeared to be hesitating between the
overgrown infant and the jewelled Louisa, when Stanley’s wonderful
headgear caught his eye.

“Thanks, I’ll take Lo,” said he, bowing before the appalling vision.

“Very well, take your places,” commanded Harry, pointing to the head of
the table; “and don’t forget to look out for the leg of that end table,
because it’s ricketty. Lieutenant Wilde, it’s your turn next.”

Lieutenant Wilde chose Max, and the others paired off in turn, until
they were all seated at the table. It was a wildly hilarious party, and
in spite of wooden plates, paper napkins and no serving, they enjoyed
their supper as only hungry, healthy boys can do, though the maidens
present were by no means left behind. And while the knives and forks
were busy, the tongues kept pace with them, and the jokes flew up and
down the room till the walls echoed with the laughter, and the boys in
the farthest corner of the house wondered enviously “what on earth the
Wilders are at.”

“My dear,” Dr. Flemming had said to his wife, that evening, “if you have
nothing else to do, suppose we go up to see Irving to-night. We haven’t
been up there since he went back.”

Mrs. Flemming agreed and, at a little before eight o’clock, the doctor
and his wife climbed the stairs of Old Flemming, and knocked at their
nephew’s door. All was dark within, but on the door was a card: “In
Number Fifteen.” The doctor read it.

“Fifteen? Let me see, that is the Arnolds’ room.”

“How good of Irving to go in there!” said Mrs. Flemming. “I suppose he
was afraid that Leon would have a dull evening for his birthday, and has
gone in to stay with him for a while.”

“Leon has had rather a bad time this winter,” answered the doctor;
“worse than any of us know, I fancy, for he has taken it so as a matter
of course, that he hasn’t had half the sympathy he has deserved. Well,
as long as Irving isn’t here, I suppose we may as well go home again.”

“Let’s go in to see Leon for a few minutes,” suggested Mrs. Flemming.
“He would be so pleased to have you call on him, and now we are here, we
can do it as well as not.”

As they approached the door of number fifteen, they heard a burst of
laughter from inside. Mrs. Flemming laughed too.

“Evidently he isn’t having a very dismal evening,” she said. “What can
they be doing in there?”

“That remains to be seen,” said the doctor, as his knock interrupted a
fresh shout.

There was a chorus of “come in” from several voices, and the doctor,
throwing the door wide open, appeared on the threshold, with Mrs.
Flemming at his side. There was an instant of perfect silence, while the
astonished boys gazed at the doctor who was no frequent visitor in their
rooms, and the doctor’s eyes roved from the loaded table to the
remarkable guests who were seated about it. However, before the pause
had lasted long enough to be embarrassing, Harry came to his senses and,
shaking his head at Stanley, who was plucking wildly at his feathers
without being able to remove them, he sprang up, went to the door and
invited the unexpected guests to come in and have a share in the feast.
The doctor accepted, with a manifest enjoyment of the fun, and while his
wife was laying aside her wraps, two more chairs were brought in, and
Harry led Mrs. Flemming to the table, as Jack rose and offered his arm
to the doctor. If the fun had been great before, it was perfect and
complete now, for the Flemmings entered into the frolic as heartily as
did their young hosts, tasting all the goodies and laughing at all the
jokes with as much enthusiasm as if they had been fourteen, instead of
forty. They had not spent twelve years in work among boys to no purpose,
and they understood just how to meet them on their own ground without
loss of dignity or lessening of influence. Suddenly the doctor rose to
his feet, with a glass of lemonade in his hand.

“I call on you all to drink a toast with me,” he said; “in honor of one
of our boys who, although almost the youngest present, has yet shown
himself a true knight and soldier, by his patience in bearing a trouble
that would have made too many of us fretful and unhappy. I drink to the
health and happiness of the guest of the evening, Leon Arnold.”

A wild burst of applause and a clinking of glasses followed the toast.
Then came the cry,—

“Speech! Speech!”

But, for a moment, Leon was speechless. The unexpected praise from the
doctor had touched him keenly, and brought the hot blood to his cheeks
and a lump into his throat. However, the boys were determined to have a
response from him, so he controlled himself with an effort, stood up and
began falteringly,—

“I thank you all for the spread, and for the toast, and for making my
birthday such a jolly one that I shall always remember it. You’ve all
been so good to me, since I sprained my ankle, that I haven’t minded it
much, now honestly, and—and—and—” Leon hesitated for a minute, in the
hope of further inspiration; then added desperately, “and please take
some more grub.”

It was scarcely the ordinary form for an after-dinner speech; but it was
sincere enough to make up for any other faults, and the boys received it
with acclamation, while Mrs. Flemming said to Harry, as she helped
herself to another piece of the birthday cake,—

“What a pity your mother and Miss Dorothy couldn’t have been here! But
tell me, where did you ever get such wonderful costumes for your young
women?”

Harry laughed.

“You’ll have to ask Max about that,” he answered. “He’s taken possession
of everything he could lay his hands on, from the sheets off his bed to
the dame’s cap. He’s made us some pretty fair-looking girls, though,” he
added, glancing complacently at Max who was coquetting with Lieutenant
Wilde, quite regardless of the fact that his top-knot had fallen off on
the floor, back of his chair.

Just then the doctor leaned forward as if to say something, and there
came a pause.

“Speech, sir?” inquired the irrepressible Max, turning his eyeglass on
him.

The doctor laughed.

“Not exactly a speech, Max. I only want to say, before I go, how much I
have enjoyed my evening. And now, as long as I don’t often see all the
Wilders, as the boys call you, together, I’m going to take just a minute
to talk to you. Some of you only have a few months more to stay here,
and then your days at Flemming will be ended. I dread the changes as
they come, for not even twelve years of teaching have hardened me to
having one class after another go away from me. You know you are all my
boys, and wherever you go in the future, whatever you do, you will still
be ‘the boys’ to me, no matter how old and gray, or how famous and
renowned you may become. And so I want my boys to always be as true and
pure and high in their aims, as honorable in their every-day lives as
they are to-day. I have been looking around at you since I have been
sitting here, and I am proud and glad to see that every one of you looks
me squarely in the eye, and holds up his head like a man and a soldier.
It’s not a bad test for a boy, after all; and I’ve watched you closely
enough to know that I am not deceived in it. So remember, whether you go
away from Flemming this year or next, while you are here and after you
have left us, make up your minds to live so that I can be proud of you;
so that you are doing honor to the old school; and, above all, so that
you may never shrink from looking your mothers and sisters and, some
day, perhaps, your wives too, straight in the eye when you meet them.
Then I shall know that I made no mistake when I gave my boys the
uniforms of soldiers, for a soldier’s first duty is to be true, true to
himself and to his Maker. That’s enough sermonizing to-night; but I am
so happy in my boys now, that I must never be disappointed in them in
the future.”

As the doctor paused, Max impetuously sprang up, waving his glass of
lemonade with such recklessness that he splashed it in a sticky tide
down over Lieutenant Wilde’s forehead and glasses.

“I say, boys,” he cried; “here’s three cheers for the doctor and his
wife, and may they live long enough to teach school till there isn’t a
boy left in the country!”

“That’s hard on you, uncle,” called Lieutenant Wilde, across the table.
“Are you going to kill them all off as you go along?”

In the jesting that followed, the doctor and his wife took their
departure, leaving the boys to prolong the fun until “lights out” put an
end to Leon’s birthday spread.

And when they did go to bed that night, there was not one of them but
lay awake for a few moments, thinking over the little talk the doctor
had given them, and resolving, in his boyish heart, to be worthy the
trust a good man placed in them, worthy to be an honored son of Flemming
Hall.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XIII.

                        THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE.


“OH, do hurry up, Wing!” said Max impatiently.

“Yes, in just a minute,” responded Louis.

“You’ve said that three times already, in the last quarter of an hour;
and besides, if you don’t come soon, you’ll crack that glass, see if you
don’t.”

“None of your impudence, Max,” returned Louis serenely, while he brushed
his coat and then turned his attention to his shoes.

“But you’ll be late.”

“Don’t care if I am. Girls are never ready, and I can’t go looking like
an old clo’ man.”

“What’s in the wind?” inquired Harry, strolling into the room without
the formality of knocking. “I’ve heard Max hurrying you up for the last
hour, Louis; and Leon and I are getting curious to know what’s going on.
What’s the whyness of all this prinking, I’d like to know?”

“Louis thinks the fate of the nation is hanging on his getting his hair
smooth,” returned Max. “He wants to put in a fine appearance, for he’s
asked the girls to go to ride, this afternoon. The worst of it is, he
insists on my going too, for ballast. Shouldn’t you think he’d be afraid
I’d hoodoo him? I say, Wing, why didn’t you put your hair in papers over
night, to give it an aristocratic curl?”

“It’ll have to go as ’tis,” replied Louis complacently, as, with his
eye, he measured the points of his collar, to see that they were even.

“I don’t really see, myself,” continued Max gloomily; “the use of
playing the agreeable to a girl old enough to be your maiden aunt. One
of these damsels is eighteen and the other is twenty-two; and they most
likely regard you as a promising infant, Wing. Why can’t you be sensible
and leave them to Lieutenant Wilde and Bony?”

“I don’t care for little girls, myself,” said Louis, once more picking
up his hairbrush. “If I’d known you felt this way about it, I’d have
asked one of the other fellows to go in your place, and left you to play
dolls with Gyp.”

“You didn’t dare,” chuckled Max; “you were afraid they’d cut you out;
but you knew there wasn’t any danger of my doing it. Now you see here,
you told me to be ready at half-past two. Here ’tis three, and we have
to go up to the stable to get the horses. How soon are you going to be
ready, I’d like to know?”

“I’ll be ready to leave the house in exactly five minutes,” answered
Louis.

“All right; I’ll be back by that time,” and Max went out of the room,
leaving Harry and Louis alone.

“Look out for yourself, Wing,” advised Harry. “Max is up to some
mischief, I know, for his eyes never look that way when he’s innocent.
He’ll probably do something to pay you for your prinking, all this
time.”

“What can he do?” asked Louis, looking a little alarmed.

“Trust Max for getting himself up in some absurd way, if you
particularly want him to look his best. I never knew him slow to
discover a way to tease.”

“I wish he wasn’t quite so bright,” said Louis, laughing uneasily. “I
want the girls to have a good time, as long as the doctor let me ask
them. I’ve hired the only decent rig in Hilton, Searle’s bays and the
double sleigh; and now, if Max does anything to spoil it, I’ll cut his
acquaintance, see if I don’t.”

“Where are you going?” asked Harry. “We ought to know, so we can send an
exploring party after you, in case you get lost or run away with.”

“Up the river, somewhere,” replied Louis, as he pulled on his overcoat
and plunged his hands into his sealskin gloves.

“The roads are abominable, that way,” said Harry. “Why don’t you go
south?”

“I’ll risk the roads,” said Louis. “Now, where’s Max? He’s the late one,
this time.”

“Here he is,” responded Max; “sharp on the minute. Come on.” And he
marched into the room, trying in vain to look unconscious of Louis’s
expression of consternation and Harry’s evident amusement.

“Max, you sha’n’t! You aren’t going to!” began Louis despairingly.

“To what?” inquired Max innocently.

“To wear those—those _things_.”

“What, these?” And Max raised his hand to the bridge of his nose, on
which triumphantly rode a huge, bulging pair of black goggles.

“Yes, those. Where’d you get them?” demanded Louis.

“They’re little Smythe’s. I borrowed them because the sun was so bright,
and you’ve no idea how comfortable they are,” returned Max, while Harry
laughed unfeelingly.

“But Max, you aren’t going out to drive with the girls, with those
things on!” protested Louis. “They make you look like a cuttle-fish, or
an octopus, or a—soft-shell crab. Do take them off.”

“Not a bit of it,” said Max solemnly. “They feel very good, and Smythe
wears them when he goes to walk with Bony, so they ought to look well
enough for you. Besides, my eyes feel very tired to-day. I studied two
good hours this morning, and they aren’t used to the strain.”

“Max Eliot, you deserve to be thrashed!” said Louis wrathfully. “But
come on; I can’twaste any more time talking. You’ll have the worst of
it.” And he stalked out of the room, followed by Max who pulled off his
goggles long enough to wink at Harry, and then settled them in place
once more, as he went down the hall.

Quarter of an hour later, a sleigh was driven up to the doctor’s door,
and Louis, after passing the lines to Max, jumped out and ran up the
steps. After a short interval, he reappeared, followed by two tall young
women, helped them into the sleigh, and the party drove off, while Gyp
gazed forlornly after them from the front steps.

It was a month after Mrs. Arnold and Dorothy had gone home, and a fresh
interest had come to Flemming for, two weeks before this time, the
school had been thrown into a ferment by the news that two nieces of the
doctor were about to come up from New York, to make him a visit. Guests
rarely came to Hilton during the winter months, and this second
excitement, following so closely upon the other, had roused even the
least susceptible of the boys; so it was surprising how many of them had
chanced to be out on the hill, one rainy afternoon, when the old stage
deposited two waterproofed figures and two large trunks upon the
doctor’s steps. There was but one subject of conversation in the
dining-room that night, as the cadets cast envious glances at the vacant
chair of Lieutenant Wilde who, in virtue of his cousinship, was
privileged to dine with the fair strangers down the hill. Naturally
enough, the Wilders were among the first boys to be introduced to Miss
Bernard and Miss Alice Bernard; and from that time on, they vied with
one another to make the girls’ visit a pleasant one. However, Louis had
soon distanced them all in the race for popularity, for a note had come
from his mother, introducing him to these daughters of an old
schoolmate; and aided by this and by his easy, charming manners, Louis
had succeeded in cutting out his mates. The young women, amused by the
boy’s devotion and regarding him, as Max had suggested, as a promising
infant, had accepted his attentions as frankly as they were given, so
Louis had been the fourth in most of their good times with Lieutenant
Wilde.

But the last day of their visit had come, and Louis had asked and
obtained permission from the doctor to invite his young guests for a
long sleigh-ride. Now, at length, there was no Lieutenant Wilde in the
way and, for the first and only time, Louis could monopolize the society
of Miss Bernard, leaving her younger sister to the care of Max, whom he
had repeatedly warned to be on his good behavior.

It would be hard to say why it is that every boy passes through the
stage of adoration for a woman years older than himself; but such is the
fact, and now, for Louis, that stage had come. He was conscious of a
wild thrill of pride and pleasure as he helped pretty Miss Bernard to
her seat, and then tucked the robes closely about her, noticing, as he
did so, the becomingness of her sealskin toque and jacket. And he too
felt very elegant and grown-up as he gathered up the reins, touched the
horses with the whip, and went dashing away down the hill and out into
the main road which led to the village. If only it had not been for Max
and those atrocious goggles, Louis would have been quite content.

“Do your eyes trouble you, Mr. Eliot?” Alice had inquired
sympathetically, as Max bent over to arrange the robe around her.

And Max had made answer, with perfect seriousness,—

“Very much, at times. You see, I suppose I study more than I ought, and
it keeps them a little weak. It’s very trying, I assure you.”

“I feel very sorry for you,” said Miss Bernard, turning to face the
goggles behind her. “It must be such an interruption to your work,
besides being so very painful.”

“It is, very,” replied Max, in a tone so suggestive of patient suffering
that Louis had a momentary longing to drop him out into a snowdrift, as
he saw the compassionate glance which Miss Bernard gave the young
deceiver.

But the clear, crisp air, the dazzling sun that blazed and sparkled over
the snowy crust and, above all, the pretty young woman at his side, soon
restored Louis to his usual good-humor, and he exerted himself to be as
entertaining as possible while they sped away up the valley. Miss
Bernard responded to his efforts, for both she and her sister had a
genuine liking for this lad, who had put himself and his resources so
entirely at their disposal during their visit at the school, so they
chattered away pleasantly like the oldest of friends, while an
occasional burst of laughter from the back seat, showed that his friend
was successfully amusing Alice, who was as gay and full of fun as Max
himself.

To the happy party in the sleigh, it seemed as if the sun were in an
unusual hurry to hide himself behind the western hills, and it was with
a feeling of unmixed regret that Louis turned the horses’ heads toward
home. The afternoon had been so short and so full of enjoyment to the
lad, and soon he would have left only the memory of what Miss Bernard
had just called their “perfect drive.” To his eager young mind, it had
all appeared to be created on purpose for his plans, the bright, cold
day, the fine sleighing, even the spirits of the horses who arched their
necks and tossed their heads with a pride far above their origin, as
coming from a mere country livery stable. As the sun went slowly down
towards the trees, the conversation had ceased, and Miss Bernard was
leaning quietly back in her seat, gazing at the constantly-changing
views of mountain and river. How pretty she looked, with the fresh,
bright color in her cheeks, and the dreamy expression in her eyes! If he
were only a little older, Louis thought, and if—

“Wing,” said Max abruptly; “I don’t want to complain, as long as I’m
only a guest; but my nose is simply congealed, and I know Miss Alice is
starving. Please remember that it’s almost supper-time and wake up those
horses; they’re only just somnambulating.”

Alas for sentiment! There was never an opportunity for it, when Max was
within reach; and Louis roused himself from his reverie, to start up the
horses once more. Max’s sudden remark had set them all to talking again,
and they went briskly on towards warmth and supper. With a sinking
heart, Louis noted how they flew past one familiar landmark after
another, now the upper cross-road, now Jerry’s cabin, now the lake and
now the old turnpike. Then, as the sun threw one last golden beam over
the white landscape and then lazily slid down out of sight, they reached
the little bridge at the foot of the long hill leading up into the town.

Max breathed a sigh of relief.

“Now the sun’s gone, I think I can take off my glasses,” he said, as he
pulled them off and deposited them in his side pocket, blinking
meanwhile at the sudden change.

“Don’t be in too much of a hurry,” Louis cautioned him grimly.

“No,” answered Max seriously; “but it will be dark soon, so I don’t
think I shall need them any more. But, say, Wing,” he added, in a hollow
tone, as he pointed to one of the tiny burial-grounds which were
scattered about the town; “aren’t you afraid to go past this spooky
graveyard at this time of night?—Hullo! What’s up?”

How it happened, Louis never knew, for it was all so sudden that no one
of the party saw the catastrophe coming in time to warn the driver, or
even to cry out; but the exclamation from Max found them all sitting in
the snow by the roadside, in various undignified attitudes, and gazing
stupidly after the sleigh which went frisking away from them on its side
until, all of a sudden, it righted itself and left the horses to draw it
after them at their ease, as they trotted quietly away to their
accustomed stable. Fortunately, except for the blow to Louis’s pride, no
one of the young people was hurt in the least, and after staring at the
sleigh until it vanished in the distance, and then turning absently to
look at each other, they suddenly came to their senses and sprang up,
with a general laugh over their upset.

“But I say,” remarked Louis ruefully, while he helped Miss Bernard to
brush the snow from her shoulders; “here’s a go!”

“Well, no; I should call it a stay,” returned Max unsympathetically, as
he performed a similar service for Alice.

“Oh, come, don’t laugh at a fellow,” implored Louis; “but help me find
some way out of this mess. Here we are two miles from home, not a house
in sight, and almost dark; what’s the best thing to do? Confound those
horses!” he added vindictively, as he drew off his glove, in order to
wipe his face which, in spite of the weather, felt uncomfortably warm.

“No use to wipe your eyes for spilt milk, much less for spilt humanity,”
said Max philosophically. “I don’t see but two things that we can
possibly do: either Miss Bernard and Miss Alice and I will sit here on
the fence and wait while you run up to the village for another team; or
else we’ll all walk home. Which do you prefer?” he asked, turning to
Alice who looked like a feminine Santa Claus, with her shaggy black fur
coat whitened here and there with the tiny lumps of snow which had
frozen into the curls.

“Walk, by all means; don’t you say so, Nell?” she answered, while Louis
bit his lip, and turned away his head to hide his vexation over the
unexpected end to his drive.

Miss Bernard, too, declared herself in favor of walking, so they set off
for home, while Alice gayly maintained that she had “always longed to be
tipped over just a little, for the fun of it.” Her sister, thoroughly
sorry for the evident annoyance of their young host, joined her in
turning the whole affair into a joke, so, in spite of the merciless
teasing of Max, the brisk walk homeward in the short twilight was by no
means the dullest part of the afternoon, and it was a jovial party that
looked in on the astonished men at the stable, to assure them that all
was well. Their coming was only just in time, for the owner, alarmed by
the appearance of the empty sleigh, was bestirring himself to drive down
to the school, and inform the doctor of the probable accident to his
young charges. Congratulating themselves that they had escaped this
exposure of their absurd plight, they climbed into the sleigh which was
still standing under the shed, and were driven home in triumph by
good-natured Mr. Searle, who promised to say nothing of the matter, thus
sparing Louis the mortification of being laughed at by the whole school.

Mrs. Flemming had the daintiest of dinners awaiting their return, and
insisted that the boys should stay and spend the evening. Lieutenant
Wilde, too, was of the party; but Miss Bernard, anxious to restore
Louis’s self-respect, for the once neglected her handsome cousin, in
order to devote herself more exclusively to the boy at her side.
Accordingly it was no wonder that Louis, as he went up the hill in the
starlight, had lost the memory of his brief mortification, in the
thought of the pleasant hand-clasp which accompanied the words,—

“Till we meet in the Easter holidays then, Mr. Keith.”

“I say, Wing,” said Max, ruthlessly breaking in upon his meditations;
“did you hear what Lieutenant Wilde was telling me, on the way up the
hill?”

“No,” answered Louis, rousing himself from a vague but blissful dream of
the future; “No; what was it?”

“Nothing very important,” said Max wickedly. “He only just happened to
mention that Miss Bernard is going to be married next month.”

“What!” And Louis was all attention.

“Yes,” pursued Max remorselessly; “she’s going to be married to a man
named Hiram Budge. Pretty name, isn’t it? Maybe she’d like to have you
on hand, to act as one of the little boys that open the floral gates, to
let the bride go through.”

This last thrust was more than Louis could bear. Pulling off his coat,
he tossed it into a chair, with a carelessness quite at variance with
his usual methodical precision. Then, turning on Max, he picked him up,
kicking and struggling, laid him carefully in his bed, piled the
blankets over him, threw the pillows on top of the blankets and seated
himself on the pillows, saying,—

“Now, Max Eliot, I’m going to sit here till you promise never to speak
of this day again, either to me or to anybody else, if I have to sit
here till morning. Now promise.”

And Max promised.

Three weeks later, both the boys received the wedding cards of Mr. and
Mrs. Hiram Budge; and not all of Louis’s remonstrances could prevent Max
from sending, as his gift, a silver bonbon dish in the form of a tiny
sleigh.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XIV.

                         SERGEANT-MAJOR ARNOLD.


THE winter term had passed rapidly, and again the boys were within ten
days of their vacation. The term had been a pleasant one; but in spite
of all their good times, Leon was eagerly looking forward to his two
weeks at home, for once more Alex was to be with them, and the Arnolds
were full of plans for his entertainment, which it had been impossible
for them to carry out at Christmas, owing to Leon’s temporary lameness.
Every day since Mrs. Arnold’s note of invitation to Alex had come, the
boys had added to their program, which had become full and varied enough
to satisfy the most difficult of guests, much more Alex, who was ready
to enjoy it all, however simple. Dorothy, too, had carried her point,
and invitations were already out for a grand party, on the night after
Easter, at which, as a crowning happiness, Lieutenant Wilde was to be
among the guests, going down from Hilton on the Saturday beforehand, and
staying at the Arnolds’, to come up with the boys, three days later.
What wonder that even quiet Harry was excited over the brilliant
prospect; while at home, pretty Dorothy was planning a wonderful gown of
the pale, creamy yellow which Alex had once chanced to say was his
favorite color.

“It doesn’t seem as if I could wait, Hal!” Leon kept saying. “I almost
know something will happen to spoil it all.”

And Harry would ask in reply,—

“But what can happen, Leon?”

Old Flemming was deserted, one afternoon, for the boys had just gone
over to a dress-parade in the armory; and they still stood grouped about
the door, while they waited for Lieutenant Wilde’s coming, before taking
their places. The cadets were all in a state of ill-suppressed
excitement, for Captain Curtis, an old class-mate of Lieutenant Wilde at
the Point, had suddenly appeared to him, and the boys were to have the
honor of parade before a soldier fresh from active service among the
Dakota and Montana Indians. None of the cadets had seen the hero who had
only reached Hilton that morning; but his fame had gone before him, and
the boys, forgetful of his years, were picturing him as a seamed and
scarred veteran who would burst upon them in all the panoply of war, and
were conscious of a keen sense of enjoyment as they put on their dress
uniforms and hurried across to the armory to await his coming.

“Alex says he came east on furlough, after the Sioux pow-wow, last
December,” said Leon.

Leon’s sleeve was now decorated with the three stripes and block of his
rank, for since he had been able to resume his drill, six weeks before,
his mental and physical standing had kept him constantly in the line of
promotion, and Corporal Arnold was now Sergeant Arnold, with a fair
prospect of rising, so soon as there should be a vacancy in the ranks.

“How jolly! Then he’s seen Sitting Bull and his men. I wish I could get
in at West Point, and have a chance for a little fun,” sighed Max
enviously.

“Much fun it is!” said Jack. “It’s mostly living in garrison on the
plains, for we don’t get an Indian war every day. This man was promoted
after the battle at Wounded Knee Creek. He was shot there; but he stayed
round in camp, and wouldn’t give up and come home, till the Indians
surrendered. He’s been at home ever since, getting patched up again, and
now he’s stopped over a day with Lieutenant Wilde, on his way back to
his company.”

“After all, it must be fun to be out there. I should think it would make
Lieutenant Wilde crazy to go,” said Louis, whose ideas of frontier army
life were largely derived from Captain King’s novels.

“Not much!” returned Jack scornfully. “I’d rather be a first-class
cowboy, myself. But here they come.” And the cadets scurried into
position and saluted, as Alex came into the armory, followed by
Lieutenant Wilde and a stranger.

At the first glance, the boys were a little disappointed in the
appearance of this yellow-haired, blue-eyed young officer, who looked so
like a boy, in his citizen’s dress; but there was something in his
soldierly carriage, in the firm lines about his lips which made them
realize that they stood in the presence of one accustomed to command,
while a long scar on his right cheek bore witness to his having seen
service, outside of the more ornamental duties of garrison life.

As the companies formed for inspection, the stranger walked slowly
across the floor and took up a position where he could watch the cadets
when, at _adjutant’s call_, they fell into line. Then, while the music
sounded off and the adjutant received the reports, he closely scanned
the faces before him, now and then giving a quick nod of approval at
some well-executed detail of the drill. As the sergeants returned to
position, Alex faced about, saluted Lieutenant Wilde and reported the
absentees. The lieutenant acknowledged the salute and added, according
to the usual form,—

“Publish the orders, sir!”

Again Alex faced about to the battalion commanding,—

“Attention to Orders!”

There was no need for the command, for the cadets always looked upon
this as the crowning moment of the parade, and waited eagerly to hear
the promotions and appointments; while, on this day in particular, they
were all on the alert to do credit to themselves and their commanding
officer.

Some sudden memory of his own cadet days made the young captain smile to
himself, as Alex read:—


                              Form No. 23.

                                                HEADQUARTERS
                                                FLEMMING HALL BATTALION,
                                                _March 18, 1891_.

General Orders, No. 116.

The following promotions of Officers and Non-com. Officers is announced
for the benefit of all concerned,—

          1st Lieut. Keith to be Capt.
          2nd Lieut. Walker to be 1st Lieut.
          1st Sergt. Eliot to be 2nd Lieut.
          1st Sergt. Arnold to be Sergt.-Major.
          Corp. Lockwood to be Sergt.

The following appointment is also announced,—

          Cadet Reed to be Corp.

                      By order of the Commandant.

                  ALEX P. STERNE, 1st Lieut. and Adj.

“I say, Leon; you’re in luck,” said Harry, seizing his brother’s arm, as
they left the armory after parade. “I didn’t suppose you were in for a
promotion now, anyway; and then it’s so jolly to get it under the eyes
of an army officer, too. I heard him asking Lieutenant Wilde which you
were, for he said he met father in Helena, two years ago. He remembered
the name, because father knew all about Lieutenant Wilde; and he’s
coming to our room this evening to see us.”

“I’m going over now to write to daddy,” said Leon. “I want him to know
about this right away, because he was awfully cut up about my row with
Winslow, even if he didn’t say much about it.”

“All right,” returned Harry; “I’ll be over by and by, to help get things
into shape for the captain.” And he strolled away with Max and Louis,
who were greatly elated over their new honors.

True to his promise, Captain Curtis did call upon the Arnolds in their
room, that evening; and for half an hour he held the boys in a state of
breathless interest, with his stirring tales of frontier life, in camp
and in the field. He had been detailed for service here and there in the
West until he was familiar with every phase of it, among the Black Hills
or in the Alkali deserts, in campaigns against Sioux, Blackfoot or
Apache. Two years before, while on a brief furlough, he had met Mr.
Arnold at Helena, and some slight favors which the older man had done
him, had ripened the short acquaintance into a friendship that made him
doubly glad to meet the young cadets. At length he rose, to return to
Lieutenant Wilde’s room; but at the door, he turned back to say
cordially,—

“Don’t fail to tell your father how well I remember our meeting at The
Helena; and say to him that the next time I come to Boston, I shall
surely call on him. I’m glad to have the chance to get acquainted with
you for his sake, for he is a man whom every one must delight to honor;
and I am so much indebted to him that I can only hope the time may come
when I can do something either for him or for his sons.”

He paused while he shook hands with Harry; then he turned to Leon, whom
he had been studying closely, during the evening.

“Let me congratulate you most heartily on your promotion,” he said. “So
far as I can judge by what I have seen to-day, you deserve it, for
you’ve the making of a soldier in you. Some day, perhaps, we may meet
again in service out on the plains.”

“Oh dear! I wish he meant what he said, and there was any chance of it,”
said Leon, as their guests took their departure.

“Why, you wouldn’t really like to go into the army?” And Harry looked at
his brother in surprise.

“Wouldn’t I, though!” echoed Leon. “I’d like it better than anything
else. I believe I was meant for a fighter; not fisticuffs, like the time
I knocked Winslow over, but regular army service. I wonder if daddy
would let me do it.” And Leon gave his more peaceful brother a look
which was anything but blood-thirsty, as Harry asked again,—

“How would you like it to have to give up college and just go to West
Point? Life there isn’t anything but states-prison discipline.”

“Give me a chance to choose, and I’d show you what I’d do. But ’tisn’t
so easy to get in at West Point, and I shall never get the chance. I
shall most likely end by being a minister, or a lawyer, or something
else that’s poky.” And Leon went to his desk, to add a postscript to his
letter to his father, telling him of their call from Captain Curtis, and
of the captain’s answer to his own unspoken longings.

Three days later, the Wilders had been out for a long walk up to the
lake and back. It had been an unusually merry walk, too, for the boys,
excited by the near prospect of vacation, were all full of fun; while
Max, in particular, had invented a dozen different pranks to amuse and
torment the others, until Harry had suggested dropping him into the lake
and leaving him there, to meditate upon his sins. An hour before supper,
they came trooping home, as hungry and hearty as nine lads could be, all
laughing and talking at once. As they separated, to go to their rooms,
Alex paused at the stairway window long enough to see the doctor walking
hurriedly up the hill, with an open letter in his hand, and his head
bowed, as if in deep and painful thought. For a moment, the boy watched
him anxiously, for he knew that the doctor rarely came to Old Flemming,
and never at this hour in the day, when he was usually preparing for
dinner.

“I hope nothing’s wrong,” he said to himself, as he went on. Then he
dismissed the matter from his mind, for Stanley Campbell had overtaken
him, with a question about the next day’s plans.

Alex would have been still more anxious, could he have seen the doctor
enter his nephew’s room, and heard the short, hurried conversation which
took place there.

“Do it if you can, Irving,” said the doctor, at length. “You can tell
them better than I, for the boys are both so fond of you.”

Irving Wilde rose to do his bidding; but his face was deathly pale, and
his knees were trembling beneath his weight. He took off his glasses and
wiped them, before he could see clearly. For the first time in his young
life, he was to be the bearer of a sad message, and the thought unmanned
him. Then he shut his teeth together, mustered all his strength and said
briefly,—

“I will. Let me take the letter, please.”

His uncle silently handed it to him; silently he turned away and walked
down the hall towards number fifteen. At the door he stopped, with his
hand raised, just ready to knock. He could hear the boys laughing inside
the room, while he stood there outside, waiting to put an end to all
their frolic. He longed to go back to his uncle, to beg him to take his
place; but it was too late, he must go on. He rapped desperately.

“Come on in!” shouted Leon’s voice.

Slowly the knob turned and the door swung open, showing Lieutenant Wilde
on the threshold. The boys had turned to the door, expecting to see one
of their mates, Max perhaps, or Jack, come to continue the fun. At sight
of their teacher’s wan white face, Harry sprang forward.

“Lieutenant Wilde!” he exclaimed in alarm. “What’s the matter? Are you
ill?”

With an effort, Lieutenant Wilde rallied.

“No,” he said; “I’m not ill, so don’t be frightened. I only came to
bring you a message from the doctor.” And he dropped into a chair, while
his fingers closed upon the letter in his hand with a nervous pressure
which left the nails white and bloodless. The boys watched him
anxiously, sure that something was amiss.

“The doctor has had a letter from your home,” Lieutenant Wilde went on,
after a moment, with a vain attempt to assume his usual quiet manner.

Leon’s hand was on his shoulder, and he felt the boy’s fingers grow
rigid, as they clutched him.

“Who is it?” he asked abruptly. “Some one is ill, I know.”

Delay was useless, and Lieutenant Wilde answered at once, feeling that
it would be cruel to waste words.

“It is your father,” he said gently.

Again the boy’s thought had rushed on in advance of the words.

“He is dead,” he said excitedly.

Irving Wilde could not speak. For his only answer, he rose and put his
arm around the boy. He was none too soon for with a cry,—

“Oh, Hal! Oh, daddy, daddy!” Leon reeled where he stood.

With the help of Harry, who until then had remained speechless and
dazed, Lieutenant Wilde laid him gently on his bed and sat down by his
side, with one hand on his, the other arm around Harry’s shoulders.
There was comfort and strength in his touch; but he sat there silent,
while the twilight in the room slowly changed to darkness, for he knew
only too well that, as yet, no words could comfort the sorrowing hearts
before him.

At length Harry raised his head.

“Please tell us,” he said brokenly; “when was it?”

Then Lieutenant Wilde told, as gently and quietly as he could, and
pausing, now and then, until the fresh wave of boyish grief had spent
itself, and he could go on with his sad story.

There was but little to tell, for in the hurry and confusion of their
sudden grief, the letter was short. During the early part of the evening
before, Mr. Arnold had seemed to be unusually bright and full of fun. At
about nine o’clock, he had gone into the library to write to the boys;
and he had been away from the room for more than two hours, before they
wondered at his absence. Then Mrs. Arnold went in to speak to him, only
to find that he had left them, never to come back to his pleasant
earthly home. He sat there, leaning back in his chair, as one fallen
asleep, with a quiet smile on his genial face which had so rarely known
a frown. Under his hand, still stretched out upon the table before him,
was a sheet of paper, on which he had written,—

“MY DEAR BOYS,—Only a week before you come back to your old daddy again,
but Leon’s letter, with its good news of his promotion and of your
seeing Captain Curtis, makes me write to you once more. Captain Curtis
is a good man, and if either of you could be as true a soldier as he, I
would gladly give my consent, though I had never thought of that life
for my sons. We were all delighted over the news from Leon; in fact,
your daddy is thoroughly proud of both of his boys wh—”

Then the nerveless fingers had relaxed their hold, and the pen had
dropped. Mr. Arnold’s last thought on earth had been given to his boys.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XV.

                              ON THE LAKE.


THE opening of the summer term found the Arnolds back in their old
places at Flemming, for it had seemed best not to interrupt their school
life, much as Mrs. Arnold longed to have them with her. She was not the
woman to sacrifice to her own inclinations the best good of her
children, and not even Harry’s entreaties to be allowed to stay with her
and Dorothy, had moved her from her original plan. Moreover the boys
were too young, she felt, to have their lives saddened by the constant
sight of her grief, so with the unselfishness of the true mother, she
gave them up once more, to go back to their happy school life among the
New Hampshire hills.

And the change was good for them. The past three weeks had worn upon
them both, and they needed the association with their old comrades to
rouse them from their sorrow. At home, everything had suggested to them
their loss; their father’s easy chair, his favorite books, even the very
walls of the rooms seemed to speak of him and of his absence. Once back
at Hilton, it was different. It was not that either Harry or Leon forgot
their father or mourned for him any the less; but the reaction had come,
as it naturally would do, and the fresh every-day interests crowded into
their lives and, in a measure, replaced the one absorbing thought of
their trouble.

Hilton was very beautiful, that year, with the on-coming of the spring;
and the seniors watched it lovingly, with a tender regret that, for
them, it was the last opportunity to see the buds swell into fresh green
leaves, to hear the songs of the birds returning to the Hilton
woodlands. A year from that time, they would all be scattered, while the
familiar life of the old school would be going on just as usual, only
without them.

One Saturday afternoon, early in May, Flemming Hall was quite deserted;
not a face appeared at any of the windows, not a cadet was to be seen in
any part of the grounds. It was the day of the annual regatta between
the junior and senior classes, and the Flemming world had betaken itself
to the lake.

Lake Hudson, as the cadets had named it, in honor of the river which
rolls below the West Point bluff, lay two or three miles to the north of
the village, in a small valley among the surrounding hills. It was a
beautiful sheet of water, more than six miles long, and only broken by
one little island near the southern end. Learned professors who had
visited the spot, had examined it well, surprised at its lack of inlets,
and had come to the only possible conclusion, that it was fed from
underground sources. This gave an air of mystery to the little lake,
which was heightened by a hollow, rumbling echo, to be heard at certain
points along the shore, that suggested rocky caverns far below the
surface. Lake Hudson had had its tragedy, too, like many another
peaceful inland lake. The boys were all familiar with the sad story of
the famous young musician who had been caught in a squall one day, while
fishing in company with his older brother; how the boat had been
overturned, and the older man had clung to its side in safety, only to
see his brother struggle and sink before his very eyes.

But the lake looked quiet enough to-day, in the warm spring sun which
lay over the water, turning it to a sheet of dazzling silver, broken
here and there into the tiny golden ripples which came nearer and
nearer, to creep through the rushes by the shore and splash up against
the pebbles on the margin, with a gentle, lapping sound. Away to the
north, the valley opened out before the eye, showing ranges of hills
growing more and more distant until their green sides turned to a hazy
blue, and then lost themselves against the hazier blue of the sky. The
wooded shores sloped down to the road which ran along the very borders
of the lake, affording scanty room for the throng of carriages which had
gathered there, for the day of the regatta was a gala day for the
surrounding towns, and ever since noon, the quiet country roads had been
gay with the crowd that had assembled from far and near to watch the
contest. Soon after dinner, the cadets had left Flemming, to walk up to
the lake, and a little later the doctor and his wife, Lieutenant Wilde
and Mr. Boniface had driven away in the same direction.

The three-mile course lay along beside the western bank, within full
view of the road, and started from a point about half a mile from the
foot of the lake, near the southern end of the little island, to take
advantage of a long, unbroken sweep of shore which afforded an
uninterrupted view of the boats, as they moved along parallel with the
road. Far out, beyond the line of gayly decorated stakes which marked
the half-mile points on the course, the water was dotted thickly with
the little boats of every shape and color, in which the boys were
paddling about as they waited for the crews to take their position at
the starting-line.

“Rah! F. L. E. M. M. I. N. G! Fszt! Rah! Rah! Rah! Rah!”

The Flemming cheer came up from the lake, in a stormy chorus, as the
doctor, with a tiny morocco case in his hand, stepped into the boat
which was awaiting him, and was rowed away towards the upper end of the
course, where a stake, adorned with the colors of the two classes,
marked the goal. For a time, the _Flemming_ was the centre of interest;
then, as it slowly came round into position and dropped anchor, every
eye was turned back, to look away to the southern end of the lake, where
the crews were still hidden in the lee of the Flemming boat house.

To the eager watchers, it seemed as if they would never start out into
sight; and they strained their eyes to catch the first glimpse of the
red and blue jerseys. In all the history of Flemming regattas, there had
never been so exciting a race as this one, for it was agreed on all
sides that, in any event, it must be a very close victory. Both crews
were in perfect condition, for they had been in training for months, and
had taken to the water so soon as the spring thaws had cleared the lake
of floating ice, and allowed them to go up for their daily pull over the
course. Moreover, the seniors were resolved to wipe out the stain upon
their football record, while the juniors were no less determined to
maintain the advantage they had gained, and leave untarnished the name
and glory of the class of ninety-two.

Some trifling collision between two of the little boats had directed the
attention to the upper end of the lake, when an enthusiastic cheer from
a tiny blue boat, turned every eye towards the boat house. Slowly the
junior crew rounded the side and came into view, followed, at a little
distance, by the seniors, and both rowed lazily down to the
starting-point. The regular sweep of the oars, and the almost mechanical
precision of the motion of the backs, as they rose and fell in perfect
unison, were the only hints they gave of their power, as they came down
towards their waiting schoolmates, who received them with loyal shouts,—

“Nine-ty-one! Rah! Nine-ty-one! Rah!”

“Nine-ty-two! Rah! Rah-oh-ah!”

But the shouts died away, as the crews took their places. The light
shells lay motionless upon the water, while the rowers sat with their
oars poised in air, their gaze bent on Lieutenant Wilde, as he stood
waiting to give the signal. Not a breeze stirred the air, and the lake
was only broken by the tiny ripples that just roughened its glassy
surface. The very water seemed to feel the hush of waiting, and to be
holding itself motionless, like the human life around and upon it.

Then the shouts rang out again, for the signal was given and each shell,
answering to the sudden tension of eight pairs of arms, leaped forward
on its course. The race had begun.

The shells passed the first half-mile post in excellent style.
Ninety-two was leading by a boat-length, and rowing twenty-eight strokes
to the minute. The senior stroke was a little slower, and it was plain
that both crews were reserving their best efforts until farther on in
their course. Keeping pace with them, the carriages drove along up the
shore of the lake, while beyond the course, on the outer side, the
little fleet of boats shifted their positions and moved on, to keep
their favorite crews well in sight. There was little outward show of
enthusiasm as yet, for the course was long, and the boys were saving
their throats for the final demonstration; but they watched with eager
interest the steady rise and fall of the shoulders, the quiet, even play
of the muscles which the light jerseys could not conceal, and the smooth
stroke as the oars struck the water, cut their way through it, then were
feathered in the air, before falling again for the succeeding stroke. In
the meantime, occasional scraps of comment could be heard, tossed from
boat to boat as the groups continually shifted and changed.

“Ninety-two has a fine stroke.”

“Wait till ninety-one gets after her.”

“I’ll wait; ninety-one won’t be in it to-day.”

“Don’t you believe it, she’s only holding off now.”

“The blue’ll have it; she’s more than three lengths ahead.”

“Red’s spurting. There she comes!”

True enough, as they approached the one-mile stake, the seniors
quickened their stroke to thirty to the minute, and little by little
their bow crept forward, lessening their distance by half a length, just
as they reached the second stake.

“Nine-ty-one! Rah! Nine-ty-one! Rah!” answered the friends of the
seniors, in an encouraging shout, while the loyal adherents of
ninety-two sent back the cry,—

“Nine-ty-two! Rah! Rah-oh-ah!”

The first mile stake once passed, the crews settled to work in earnest.
Ninety-two still kept the lead, with a long, steady stroke which not
even the occasional spurts of ninety-one could pass. Three lengths, at
the end of the next half-mile, showed that the juniors were more than
holding their own, and made their friends exultant over the prospect of
an easy victory. But the seniors and their friends, whose eyes were
fixed on Captain Howard’s face, felt that the real test had not yet
come; and they were content to wait, for they believed that the juniors
were using their most finished stroke, while ninety-one still held
herself in reserve. Even as they watched, the change came, a change too
slight to catch the attention of any but a trained eye; and as
ninety-one entered on the last half of her second mile, she slowly
gained upon her adversary. Line by line, inch by inch she approached the
leading shell, not a spurt this time, but a steady gain, slow but
resistless, and the crews swept past the second mile stake with but two
and a quarter lengths between.

“Hold your ground, blue!”

“Hurrah for red and ninety-one!”

“Ninety-one gains!”

“She can’t hold out!”

“Ninety-two’s stroke’ll win yet!”

“Ninety-one! Rah!”

But the cries died away again, for the boys were too eager in watching
the straining muscles, the set, resolute faces of their champions, to
waste any thought on mere class cries. Ninety-two was pulling
magnificently, but ninety-one still continued to decrease the distance.
At the end of the next quarter-mile, there was less than a boat-length
between them, and both crews were putting forth their best energies, as
they came sweeping down towards the goal. The next quarter-mile did its
work, and the senior crew were still gaining: a length, three-quarters,
half, one-third, one-eighth, and the crews were side by side with
scarcely ten inches start for the juniors, as they entered upon their
final half-mile, amidst the deafening cries which rose from lake and
shore.

All at once, there came a sudden stillness which turned their jubilant
shouts into a sort of low moan. The junior shell swerved slightly in her
course, and for an instant her speed was checked. The next moment,
ninety-one swept proudly past, leading her by two or three feet as she
righted and resumed her stroke. The change was so sudden, that even the
most distant on-looker realized that some accident had occurred, while
the boys in the nearest boats had seen Frank Osborn’s oar snap in two,
under the strain he had placed upon it.

“Nine-ty-one! Rah! Nine-ty-one! Rah!” shrieked the triumphant seniors,
for they already fancied the prize in their hands. Indeed, it seemed an
impossibility that the junior crew, crippled by the loss of an oar, and
by having to carry the weight of a useless man, could regain its lost
advantage.

No one knew what was to follow.

For one instant, the junior shell lay motionless as Frank Osborn rose,
with a hasty word of warning, turned his handsome, scornful face towards
the senior crew, in one flash of defiance, and then jumped far over the
side of the boat into the cold, blue water below, as the lifted oars
fell again and the lightened shell darted onward, amid the loud cheers
that rose on every side.

The third quarter post of the last mile flashed past them, and
ninety-one was still leading by a half length. Ninety-two had recovered
from her shock and, with thirty-four strokes to the minute, was cutting
the water like a knife, close in the rear, so close that Captain Howard
made a final spurt.

Ninety-two answered with another, gained a little, lost a little, gained
again, and for a second the boats stood bow to bow, and the goal was
close at hand. Not a cry rose from bank or boat; nothing could be heard
but the sound of the oars and the labored breathing of the men, as the
boats swept past the stake, not eighteen inches apart. There was a hush,
as the crowd drew one long, deep breath; and then came roar after roar,
louder and yet more loud,—

“Nine-ty-two! Rah! Rah-oh-ah!”

“Nine-ty-two! Rah! Rah-oh-ah!”

“O. S. B. O. R. N! Rah! Rah! Rah!”

“_Rah! F. L. E. M. M. I. N. G.! Fszt! Rah! Rah! Rah! Rah!_”

“NINE-TY-TWO! RAH! RAH-OH-AH!”

The race was over, and the blue had won. Once more, ninety-two was
triumphant; but the junior captain was not half the hero in the boys’
eyes that Frank Osborn was, when he was landed, dripping, from the boat
which had picked him up, and stowed away in the doctor’s carriage, for a
quick drive homeward in the sunset.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XVI.

                             IN THE RAVINE.


IT was two weeks after the regatta, and again the boys were on the
water. Six of the Wilders had taken advantage of a pleasant Saturday
afternoon to walk up to the lake, and take out the _Flemming_ for two or
three hours’ fishing. For some time they had been watching their lines
with a patience which was but ill-rewarded, for they had only a meagre
number of worthless little fish to show for their waiting. Now, at the
suggestion of Max, they were about to seek a fresh ground, and with
their light anchor still dragging, they were slowly rowing up to the
northern end of the lake, to try their fortunes in a deep, quiet pool
which they had known of old. Suddenly Harry paused on his oars.

“Halt! I say,” he exclaimed. “This place is too cool and pleasant to
leave; let’s lie off here for half an hour and enjoy it. We shall have
time then for all the fishing we want.”

“Only four weeks more,” sighed Jack; “and then where’ll we be?”

                  “‘We’re goin’ ’ome; we’re goin’ ’ome;
                   Our ship is _at_ the shore;
                   An’ you may pack your ’aversack,
                   For we won’t come back no more,’”

warbled Max sentimentally, from his seat in the bow. “We’ll be the
seniors then,” he added complacently, “and you’d better believe we’ll
show you how to do things.”

“No use to put on airs, Max,” retorted Jack. “There’ll never be another
class like ninety-one, and you may as well make up your mind to it.”

“Conceit, thy name is—Howard!” paraphrased Max, dropping his oar and
bending over the edge of the boat, to paddle in the clear water.

“Oh, Hal,” asked Alex, all at once; “how comes on the poem?”

Harry groaned, as he lay down on the narrow seat and turned his face up
to the blue sky above.

“It doesn’t come,” he said, “I’ve a few ideas, but I can’t make them
rhyme. I don’t see why, in the name of all common sense, you fellows put
me in as class poet.”

“Probably because there wasn’t anybody else to do it,” suggested Max
benevolently. “When we come to our class day plans, though, we sha’n’t
have any trouble over our poet, we have one all ready and waiting to
step into office.”

“Who is it?” inquired Leon curiously.

“Wing, of course,” responded Max. “Didn’t you know he wrote poetry? He
does, ever so much, and grates his teeth, and his eyes roll like
anything while he’s doing it. Then he tears it up. I saw one bit of it,
though. I’ve forgotten just how it was; but it went something like
this:—

                  “‘Oh, Miss Bernard, gentle sperrit!
                   For you I sigh, beyond your merit—’”

“Max Eliot, you hold your tongue,” interrupted Louis, blushing and
wrathful. “You make up stories faster than you can tell them.”

“What’s struck you to-day, Max?” asked Alex. “You’re even wilder than
usual.”

“Aren’t we all Wilders, I’d like to know? But I feel unusually
hilarious; I’m invited to a great and glorious spread to-night, and it
excites me, don’t you see?”

“Who has a spread?” queried Jack idly.

“Frank Osborn. It’s his birthday, I believe; anyway, he’s going to have
a great time of it.”

“Say, Max, I wouldn’t go,” said Alex persuasively.

“Not go! Why not, I’d like to know?” returned Max.

“Osborn isn’t any sort of fellow for you to be with,” Alex answered,
with a troubled look on his pleasant face. “I thought your liking for
him had died the death, anyway.”

“So it had, for we had a little row; but that’s all over now,” said Max
carelessly. “I don’t think Osborn’s a bad fellow, though, Alex.”

“He’s not my style, and I don’t like him at all,” returned Alex; “I
think he’s fast, and I hate to have him think he’s going to get in with
any of our set. I’d cut his acquaintance and let him go, Max.”

“Maybe I will, after I’ve had a taste of his spread,” answered Max,
laughing. “You seniors don’t like him because he won the race for
ninety-two; but it was a magnificently plucky thing to do, you know it
was.”

“If you want my candid opinion of Osborn,” said Jack deliberately; “he’s
a low-bred sneak and a disgrace to Flemming. He did do a plucky thing
when he jumped overboard; but he’s been insufferably conceited about it
ever since, too cockahoop for anything.”

For a minute Max glared at Jack, with an angry gleam in his blue eyes;
but Harry interrupted them,—

“Oh, come now, you fellows, don’t get into a row. There isn’t room here.
Besides, I’ve never noticed that the fish came down the lake to look for
us, and if we’re going to try our luck up above here, it’s time we were
starting.” And he took up his oar, letting its blade fall into the
water, with a splash which sent the drops flying into the faces of the
belligerent boys around him.

It had the desired effect of cooling their tempers; and the boys rowed
away up the lake, the long, steady sweep of the oars sending the tiny
waves far to the left and right of their track. The shadows from the
bank had grown long upon the water, as the boys skirted the little
island and then struck off towards the eastern shore. As they neared the
bank, Max rose and peered eagerly over the bow of the boat.

“Slow!” he commanded. “I want to be sure when we get there. Steady!
We’re in the shallows. Start her up a little; it’s more than ten feet
ahead.”

Forgetful of their anchor which was still dragging, the boys at the oars
made a sudden spurt. The little boat sprang forward for a few feet, then
stopped with such suddenness that Max was sent plunging forward, into
the clear, bright water below. For a moment there was a panic, and as
the boy disappeared under the ripples, his companions sprang to their
feet in alarm.

“Sit down!” commanded Alex instantly. “Do you want to upset the boat,
and give us all a ducking? Max is all right; he’s a good swimmer, and
here he comes up again, anyway.”

As he spoke, there was a miniature whirlpool at a little distance from
the boat; and the forehead, eyes, nose, mouth and chin of Max slowly
rose to their sight. Then one arm appeared, as Max made a hasty snatch
at his cap which was floating past him.

“Can you keep up a minute, till we get to you?” called Jack.

“Keep up; I should say so,” answered Max, spluttering and wiping the
water from his eyes. “I’m standing on the ground all right; but I can’t
wade over to you, for I’m just across that hole I was looking for. Told
you I’d find it,” he added, with a triumphant chuckle.

“All right, we’ll come over to you,” said Leon. “You didn’t go out quite
as gracefully as Osborn, but ’twasn’t so bad for a first attempt. Is it
wet any, over there?”


[Illustration: MAX WAS SENT PLUNGING FORWARD.—Page 264.]


“I should think ’twas, slightly,” returned Max, as he rubbed away the
streams which were trickling from his yellow hair. “If you doubt it,
come in and see. Do hurry up with that boat, though, for I am nearly
frozen.”

For again and again the boys had bent to their oars, but the boat
remained motionless.

“Confound the old tub!” exclaimed Jack. “What’s the matter with her? She
can’t be aground, for I can’t touch bottom with my oar. Pull again,
boys, and start her up.”

They did pull, but with no more result than before, while Max, his teeth
chattering from his chill, stood fifteen feet away, railing at their
efforts.

“It’s the anchor,” said Leon suddenly. “We forgot and left it dragging,
and it’s caught on something. Back her, some of you, till I get this
loose.”

“Anything you please, only do hurry up,” said Max. “I’m getting a little
damp about the ankles, and besides, I shall be late for the spread.”

“I shouldn’t much mourn about that,” said Jack, in an undertone, as he
went forward to help Leon in his efforts to free the anchor. “From what
I’ve heard, Osborn is getting ready to have a high time to-night. Max,”
he added, as a few powerful strokes sent the boat over to the drenched
and shivering boy, “now you tumble in here, and let us get you home as
soon as ever we can. If you didn’t have more lives than a cat, Max
Eliot, you’d be dead long before this. Now, boys, pile your coats over
him, and we’ll run him home in a hurry.”

Max came to the breakfast-table, the next morning, complaining of a
severe headache for which not even his unpremeditated bath of the
afternoon before, seemed sufficient to account. His unusual pallor and
the dark lines under his eyes were proof enough of his not being well,
so no one was surprised at his excusing himself from church, and
spending the morning in his room. Soon after dinner, however, he
appeared at the door of the Arnolds’ room, yawning and stretching, and
invited Leon to go out for a walk. In spite of the unseasonable warmth
of the day, the clear May sunshine was too attractive to be resisted, so
Leon gladly enough laid aside his book and went away with him.

Half an hour later, Alex put his head in at the door.

“Do you know where Max and Leon are, Hal?” he asked.

“No,—wait a minute, though; I think they said something about going up
to the ravine, but I didn’t pay much attention. What do you want?”

“Nothing special,” answered Alex lightly. “To the ravine? Well, perhaps
I’ll walk up that way, on the chance of meeting them.”

Alex went on his way; but instead of going directly to the ravine, he
paused irresolutely in front of the doctor’s house. Then he went up the
steps and rang the bell. The doctor himself came to the door. He looked
tired and anxious; but at sight of Alex his face brightened.

“Oh, Alex,” he said cordially; “I’m glad to see you. Come in.”

“May I have a little while to talk to you?” asked Alex, with simple
directness.

“Yes, indeed; I am always glad to have a call from you.” And the doctor
led the way into his study, where they could be free from interruption.

“Sit down,” he said; “and tell me about it.”

“It?” said Alex inquiringly.

“Yes, _it_,” returned the doctor, smiling. “You look as if something
were wrong.”

“So there is,” replied Alex, anxiously knitting his brows; “and the
worst of it is, I don’t know whether I have any business to be here, it
seems so like telling tales.”

Dr. Flemming bent forward and laid his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

“Don’t you know, Alex, that I always want to hear all that concerns my
boys, whether for good or ill? I can rely on your sense of honor, I am
sure, for you have proved yourself far above the meanness of ordinary
tale-bearing. If you wish, I promise you that whatever you say shall
remain a secret between the two of us.”

“Thank you.” And Alex met the doctor’s steady gaze without flinching.
“Of course you know how gossip flies, in a place like this, and won’t be
a bit surprised when I tell you it’s common talk that you had an
interview with Osborn this morning.”

“I didn’t expect it quite so soon,” replied the doctor quickly. “But go
on.”

“Well, the boys all think it means expulsion for him and his set; but
very likely that’s wrong. Now, what I wanted to ask you was—” Alex
stopped for a moment, then went on in a lower voice; “whether you knew
Max Eliot was at the spread last night.”

The doctor started; this was unexpected news.

“Please understand the reason I’m telling you this,” Alex continued
hastily, as if to free himself from any charge of meddling with
another’s concerns. “I knew you’d hear of it sooner or later, perhaps
from Osborn himself, for he’s always spited our set, and would like to
hurt us through Max. But if you heard it that way, you would never know
what a mere chance it was that Max was there. If he was in the scrape,
it’s the first time he’s done anything of that kind, for he isn’t a bit
fast, like the others.”

“And what then?” asked the doctor kindly.

“Just this,” replied the boy, with a quiet dignity all his own; “if it
should come to where you have to punish the other fellows, please
remember that Max isn’t quite one of them. He’s gay and full of his
pranks; but he’s not fast, and last night is the first time he’s ever
been at one of their wine spreads. He’s broken off with them lately, and
we were all surprised at his saying, yesterday afternoon, that the
friendship was on again. But upon my honor, Dr. Flemming,” here the blue
eyes were again fixed on the master’s face; “on my honor as a Flemming
boy, it is Max’s first offence, and I hope you’ll be as easy on him as
you can.”

The doctor closely studied the earnest face before him; then he rose and
took one or two turns up and down the room.

“Alex,” he said, as he came back to his chair; “I can trust you, and I
am going to talk plainly to you. The boys did have a very wild time at
their spread, last night, and one or two of them were the worse for the
champagne. For some time I have been suspicious of their spreads, but
this was the first time I could prove anything against them. This
morning I saw them, and quietly told them not to come back here, after
the close of this term. I have been thinking for months that this must
come, but the year is so nearly over that I thought best not to make a
public expulsion of it. I had no idea that Max was there, or he might
have shared the same fate. But if you can tell me on your honor that
this is his first offence, I will let him off this time. Max isn’t a bad
fellow, only too full of fun and a little weak, too easily made by his
companions of the moment. I will give him another chance, but I must
have a long talk with him. Can you see him this afternoon, tell him what
has occurred and ask him to come to me this evening?”

Alex tried to thank him; but he interrupted,—

“Never mind the thanks, Alex; they come to me in the perfect freedom you
have shown in talking with me. If only all my boys had felt to me as you
do, this miserable affair need never have taken place. But don’t go;
stay and tell me about yourself, for it’s a long time since I’ve had a
chance to talk with you.”

“I’d better not,” Alex answered. “I want to see Max, if I can, before he
gets wind of this.”

“Go, then; perhaps you’d better. I am glad you came to me as you did,
for if I had heard that Max was there, and nothing more, I might have
been unwisely severe.”

As Harry had suggested, Alex found the two boys in the ravine. After the
heat of the May afternoon and his rapid walk, the coolness around them
was a great relief, and Alex was glad to drop down on the coarse, uneven
turf by their side, and rest for a few moments, before beginning upon
the subject which was weighing so heavily on his mind. The ravine, as
the boys called it, was a deep gorge in the hills, worn away by the
swift mountain brook that hurried through it, to seek the calmer waters
of the Connecticut and go with them to the sea. The brook was so narrow
and the slant of its sides so abrupt that the branches of the trees on
either side mingled overhead to form one common shade; while below them
the water now plunged over a little precipice, now raced along the
shallows, breaking into a lacelike foam over its rocky bed, now flowed
smoothly and silently through the still pools, so dark and deep, where
trout love to hide under the shelter of the over-hanging ferns, then
rushed away, to go on racing and plunging and eddying, over and over
again, till it joined the quieter current of the mighty river, three
miles and more away.

“Max,” Alex began abruptly, after the interval of silence which had
followed their greetings; “you went to that spread last night, didn’t
you?”

Instantly Max was on the defensive.

“Yes, I did,” he replied curtly, as he threw a stick into the whirlpool
below him, and watched it circle round and round in the swirling eddy.
“What then?”

“I hear you had rather a lively time,” said Alex, trying to approach the
subject so gently that Max should not be roused to anger.

“Well, as I said, what then?” said Max defiantly, as he tried in vain to
meet the kind blue eyes so steadily fixed upon his own. “I don’t know as
it’s any of your business, if we did.”

Leon looked up in surprise, for in his ignorance of the matter, he was
at a loss to account for Max’s unwonted irritability.

“Perhaps it is my business,” Alex replied, and he went on to tell of his
talk with the doctor.

As Max listened, his face slowly lost a little of its frown, and he
rolled over on his back, to stretch his hot hand up to Alex.

“You’re a good fellow, Alex,” he said, with a new and softer light in
his eyes. “You’ve done me a good turn to-day, and I know it.”

“Prove it by letting those fellows alone, in the future,” responded Alex
quickly.

“I will, honestly, now. I didn’t stay as late as the others,” confessed
Max penitently; “I did take some of the stuff, though, but when I saw
how ’twas going, I sneaked out and came home. I wish I’d come earlier,
so I needn’t have had this abominable headache. Truly, though, Alex, I
only took a little.” And his voice was almost pleading, as he spoke.
“I’m sorry I did that, but it wasn’t enough to do the least bit of
hurt.”

Once more the silence was only broken by the rushing water below them,
and the bird-songs from the branches above their heads. Then Alex spoke
again, but slowly and as if with an effort.

“Max,” he said, “I’m not over fond of pulling family skeletons out of
their closets, and you fellows all know that I’m not much given to
talking about my own affairs. I suppose you all have wondered at my
being here, when I’m so much older than the rest of you. I think I’ll
tell you all the story now, for it can’t do any harm, and it may save
you a little something by and by.”

As he paused, there was a slight catch in his breath. Leon rose, as if
to leave them alone.

“Don’t go, Leon,” he went on. “Except for the doctor and Lieutenant
Wilde, Hal is the only one here who knows this, so you may as well stay
and hear it out, too. It isn’t a pretty story, but I’ll try to make it
as short as I can.”

Leon dropped back into his former place beside Alex, who continued, with
his eyes fixed on the water below,—

“You see, in the first place you must remember that life in Denver isn’t
much as it is here in the east. Out there, everybody drinks wine, as a
matter of course, and it comes into everything from a business contract
to an evening call. You have it here, I know; but not near so much.
Well, my father, when he went out there, was a gay, handsome young man
with a splendid reputation in his profession—he’s a doctor, you
know—just the kind of a man to be popular and in demand in a social way.
Being in society out there means, almost as a matter of course, taking
more or less wine; and father was just like all the rest of them, only
he couldn’t stand as much as some others. From a little and a little, he
went on until the little had come to be a great deal, and he had grown
to depend on it, as a daily need. Even then, his old patients stuck to
him, for ’twas a saying that they’d ‘rather have Dr. Sterne drunk than
any other doctor sober.’ But it had gone too far to stop, and
slowly—What’s the use of dwelling on it? Father finally reached the
point where he was a common street drunkard, without practice and
without money. I tell you, Max, those were bad times, and I remember
them well. They aren’t the kind of thing one wants to live through, or
to talk about, either. It went on so for several years, and then, eight
years ago, the change came. People said ’twas miraculous and wouldn’t
last, and even we never knew what started him; but all at once father
braced up a little. He had a few good friends out there, among the
solid, true men of the city, and with their help, he scrambled up on his
feet again. They wanted him to go away, and start fresh somewhere else;
but he said no, he’d gone under there, and there he’d come up, till he’d
lived down the past. There aren’t many men strong enough to do it, and
the fight was a terrible one; but now he has won back his old place in
the city, and his reputation is higher than ever. Still, it has made an
old man of him; and it all started from just such light social drinking
as you tried last night.”

Max had rolled over and turned his face away from his friends. He lay
very still.

“But that wasn’t the worst of it,” said Alex, in a lower tone. “As far
as a man can do, father has left the past behind him; but there is one
side of it that can’t ever be set right. I’ve a brother about ten years
old; I don’t believe you ever heard me say much about him.”

Leon shook his head.

“Poor little Jack! He’s had the hardest of it all to bear. He was born
just in the most dismal days, when father was at his worst, and mother
was overworked and worried till she didn’t know which way to turn to get
us food and clothes, for she was too proud to ask help from her old
friends. You ought to know my mother, Leon. Well, I suppose that
affected Jack; anyway, his mind has never been quite right, so he
couldn’t go to school or anything of that kind. He’s a dear little
fellow, but he’ll always be like a baby; and father has to watch him,
year after year, and know that he alone is the cause of it, that Jack
has to take the penalty of his father’s sins. That’s all there is to the
story; but if you’d lived through what we have done, you wouldn’t want
to play with wine-drinking, for it’s easier to go down than up, and
where one comes up again, one hundred stay down. Besides, if you can
bring yourself up out of the rut, you don’t know what harm you may be
doing to the next generation who aren’t to blame, but can’t help
themselves and just have to grin and bear it. Keep out of it, Max, if
you want to be a happy man.”

There was another silence, a long one this time. Max did not move, so
Alex beckoned to Leon, and together they stole quietly away, leaving the
boy to himself.

The boys never knew what passed in the doctor’s study, that night. Max
was gone for a long time, and when he went back to his room at bed-time,
his eyes were red and his voice unsteady. With scarcely a word to Louis,
he went to bed, but not to sleep. Far into the night, he lay staring at
the darkness, while Dr. Flemming’s last words still echoed in his ears,—

“But above all, my dear boy, you will never be a full-grown man until
you have learned to stand alone, without leaning on your friends.
Whenever the question arises, make up your mind, once for all, where the
right lies, and then go towards it, even if your path leads across the
bodies of your dearest friends. Right is always right; and I am here
only just to help my boys to find it out and march steadily towards it.
That done, I need no other reward. Now, bless you, my boy; and good
night.”


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XVII.

                             COMMENCEMENT.


QUICKLY, far too quickly, the remaining weeks of the year had passed,
and the commencement season had come. Little had occurred to mark the
four weeks, for the work of the school had gone smoothly on to its
close, without disaster or incident to mark the every-day routine. For a
week after the spread in Osborn’s room, the school had buzzed with more
or less incorrect reports of the affair; but, except for Alex and Leon,
none of the cadets knew how near it had come to being disastrous to
careless, mischievous Max. Then it was slowly forgotten by every one but
the disgraced lads, and by Max who had gone to work in earnest, anxious
to prove to the doctor that he was worthy of his continued confidence
and friendship.

The seniors, one and all, were busy with their plans for commencement;
and although they were clinging fondly to all the old associations; yet
in spite of it all, they were eager for the coming of the great day to
which, for four long years, they had been steadily pointing. The
juniors, too, caught something of their spirit, for the hour which
transformed the senior boys into men, would in turn advance themselves
into the coveted position of seniors, to be admired and looked up to by
the whole school; so that only the lower classes were free from the
excitement which reigned at Flemming, as the June days slowly passed
away.

At last the time had come, and Hilton was filled to overflowing with the
guests, who had assembled to watch the young soldiers march past their
first milestone. The quiet village street was swarming with gray coats,
and the elaborate gowns of stately mothers, and pretty sisters and
cousins; while portly fathers gathered on the piazza of the little
hotel, to exchange confidences in regard to “my boy,” with an
ill-concealed pride.

Commencement week at Flemming always began with the anniversary sermon
in the village church which, once a year, was beautified with masses of
the pink laurel that softened the bare, barren walls of the dreary
little place. The following day was given up to the social pleasures of
the ivy-planting, and the evening hop at the doctor’s, together with the
dress-parade which came in the late afternoon.

On Sunday evening, the boys had gathered in the Arnolds’ room, for a few
minutes before “lights out.” They had been speaking of the young
clergyman who had made the annual address, a simple, earnest appeal for
a manly life, which had roused the boys to quick enthusiasm.

“I’d like to know that man,” Harry was saying; “he strikes me as being a
friend worth having.”

“Yes,” answered Max pensively, and without a thought of joking; “he must
be a pretty good man, for such a young one; for he made even me feel
sort of good.”

There was a moment of silence; then Harry said restlessly,—

“I do wish to-morrow would be over, for I’ve been dreading this
class-day circus for more than six weeks.”

“I’ve seen his old poem, though,” observed Leon; “and it really isn’t so
bad, considering Hal wrote it.”

“Thank you, my patronizing infant!” returned Harry, with a sweeping bow.
“You’d better go to bed, on the strength of that. Let’s hope ’twill be
pleasant to-morrow morning, for I don’t care to stand out in the rain
and spout my production.”

“That would be a waterspout, with a vengeance,” said Max, before Louis
could suppress him and drag him off to bed.

The next morning was pleasant enough to satisfy even Harry; and by
half-past nine o’clock, the guests had assembled in front of the
recitation hall, to await the coming of the boys. It was an attractive
sight as they marched across the familiar lawn, with the band gayly
playing at the head of the procession,—the last time that those same
boys would be marching together, under the green old elms of Flemming.
On the next day, the breaking-up must come and the friends be scattered,
some, perhaps, never to meet again.

There was an expectant hush as the seniors grouped themselves in their
places, and Jack Howard, as president of the class, made his little
address of welcome. Harry’s turn came next, and as he stood there
waiting, he glanced down into the front row of guests, where Leon had
stationed himself at his mother’s side and, back of them, Alex, moving
slightly from his place in the ranks, had taken his stand beside
Dorothy. The girl looked very delicate and pretty in her black gown, as
she gazed steadily and proudly up at her brother, then turned to speak
to the tall cadet at her side, with a perfect unconsciousness of the
envious glances cast upon her by the less favored girls in the rear.

But Harry had stepped forward and, with one anxious, troubled look down
at the little home group, as if beseeching them to be as merciful as
possible in their judgment, he began to read. As the last words were
spoken:—

 “Boys of our ninety-one, now and here must we leave our boyhood,
 Here at the quiet school, with the old granite hills watching o’er it.
 Glorious and brave and true, and all that can honor our teaching,
 This let us make our manhood,”

and Harry moved back to his place behind Jack, there was a short
silence, and then a burst of applause so enthusiastic that even modest
Harry could not forbear stealing one happy, exultant glance down at his
mother and Dorothy. Then, when all was done and the ivy planted in its
appointed place, hosts and guests scattered, to pass the time as best
they might, until four o’clock should bring them together again at the
parade-ground. In the meantime, the Wilders and their friends assembled
in the Arnolds’ room, where Harry received general congratulations for
his success of an hour before.

It was a very flushed and happy-looking Dorothy whom Alex escorted to
the parade-ground, that afternoon, after a long drive, and left in
charge of her mother, while he hurried away to change his fatigue coat
for the dress uniform which added so much to the dignity of his
appearance.

Then _assembly_ sounded, and, at the sergeants’ command, the companies
fell into line on their separate parade-grounds. As the signal ceased,
the order _Left_—FACE rang out and the cadets turned sharply in their
places before being brought to _support arms_, by order of the first
sergeant. A few moments later, the trumpets sounded the quick notes of
_adjutant’s call_, and Adjutant Sterne and Sergeant-Major Arnold, with
their markers, marched across to the regimental parade-ground, where
they took up their positions, Alex to the right, Leon on the left, while
company after company was led forward by its captain, dressed in line
and brought to _support arms_. As Lieutenant Wilde took his place, as
commanding officer, at a little distance in front of the battalion, the
adjutant ordered the captains to bring their companies to _parade rest_,
the butt of every piece fell to the ground, its barrel grasped with both
hands before the breast, and the cadets stood at _parade rest_, while
the band sounded off, marching along the line from right to left and
back again.

It was all so beautiful, with the warm June sun glowing down over the
grounds and buildings, and touching with a golden light the uniforms and
gleaming bayonets of the cadets, that the lookers-on were hushed in
admiration. Not a sound broke the stillness, but the gay notes of the
band, not a motion disturbed the absolute quiet of the ranks, but the
flutter of the stars and stripes which were softly stirred by the little
breeze that stole down from the hills. Dorothy’s eyes moved up and down
the line, rested proudly upon Leon’s slim, straight figure, then turned
to the opposite side of the parade-ground, where Adjutant Sterne stood
resting his clasped hands upon the grip of his sword.

But the band had returned to its former position, and Adjutant Sterne
stepped forward to order the ranks opened, verify the alignment of
officers and men, and bring the cadets to _present arms_, before
saluting Lieutenant Wilde, and making the report,—

“Sir, the parade is formed.”

“Take your post, Sir!” ordered Lieutenant Wilde, and Alex moved to his
place behind him and at his left, as Lieutenant Wilde drew his sword and
issued a succession of quick orders from the manual of arms.

The drill was a creditable one, both to commandant and cadets, for the
months of training had accomplished their work, and officers and men
were on their mettle to do their best, before the assembled guests. With
the precision of well-adjusted parts of a great machine, the rifles were
shifted up and down, to right, to left, then dropped to the ground in
_order arms_, as the adjutant once more advanced to receive the reports
from the first sergeants and drum major, who stepped forward to salute
and report, then fell back to position, while Adjutant Sterne saluted
Lieutenant Wilde again, before making the general report,—

“Sir! All are present or accounted for.”

Then came the concluding ceremony of the parade. At the order, _Parade
is dismissed_, the officers returned their swords to the scabbards,
marched towards the centre of the line, then forward, to halt six yards
away from the commandant and salute. For an instant they paused, with
their hands raised to their visors, while Lieutenant Wilde acknowledged
their salute; then, at the same moment, every hand fell to the side. The
officers dispersed, the first sergeants marched their companies back to
their own grounds, and ninety-one had ended its last parade.

Evening found the doctor’s rooms gay with lights and music and dainty
evening gowns. Out on the piazza overlooking the lawn, Dorothy was
holding a sort of court, surrounded by a dozen loyal admirers; for the
Wilders, one and all, had agreed in pronouncing her the prettiest girl
present. As she rested there, with the full moon shining down on her
golden hair and white gown, Alex sat on the rail at her right, Louis
stood at her left, toying with her great bouquet of white roses, and
Harry, Jack, Max and Stanley were at her feet.

“It has been a successful day,” she said, and she lingered over the
words as if they held some new, sweet meaning to her which, as yet, the
others could not know. “I wonder if any other class was ever quite so
fine as ninety-one.”

“That’s an amiable remark to make, Miss Arnold,” protested Max, from his
place on the floor at her feet. “Here you have the three finest minds of
ninety-two under your very eyes, and still you declare for ninety-one.
That’s not fair.”

“But you couldn’t expect me to forsake my allegiance to ninety-one, when
it has been giving me such a good time,” she answered contentedly. “And
besides, haven’t I a brother in this year’s class, and hasn’t he done us
all proud to-day?”

“Only wait till our turn comes next year,” said Louis, as he slyly
abstracted a rose from the great bunch in his hand.

In a moment, the eye of Max was upon him.

“No poaching on those preserves, young man,” he called. “Miss Arnold, I
advise you to look out for your bowpot, for Louis is helping himself to
it.”

“You’d better pass them around, Miss Arnold,” suggested Jack, laughing
up at Louis who was gazing sentimentally at the flower in his hand.
“That will make it even, and prevent our coming to blows later.”

Dorothy laughed, as she held out her hand for the flowers.

“Give them to me please, Mr. Keith,” she said. “Soldiers don’t usually
wear posies in their buttonholes, when they start out into battle; but I
will decorate you all, in honor of the happiest day I have ever spent.”

“What’s going on?” inquired Leon, strolling up to the group. “I demand
my share of the booty too, Dot, so pass over. What’s the meaning of this
unusual generosity?”

“Your sister is giving her colors to her true and lawful knights,”
answered Alex lightly, as, in his turn, he bent down while Dorothy fixed
the large, full-blown flower in his buttonhole.

“Oh, that’s it, is it?” said Leon. “Well, if that’s the order of the
day, mother’ll have to do the same by Bony, for he’s stuck to her like a
burr, all the evening, and he’s quite playing the society man. See
there!”

As he spoke, Leon pointed in at the open window, opposite which sat Mrs.
Arnold, with the young teacher at her side. Mr. Boniface was talking
with an animation and an earnestness which lent an unwonted ease to his
ordinarily stiff manner. Harry surveyed them approvingly.

“I knew ’twould be so, when I introduced him to her,” he said. “Trust my
mother for always finding out the softest side of people and getting at
it, in spite of their hard shells.”

Just then there was a general movement of the people inside the parlor,
and Mr. Boniface rose, offering his arm to the woman at his side. A
moment later, Lieutenant Wilde appeared in the doorway.

“Miss Arnold,” he said; “may I take you in to supper?”

For a moment, Dorothy’s eyes rested on him admiringly. Lieutenant Wilde
was unusually resplendent that night, for he was in full army uniform
and the lights shone out on his blue coat, and glittered and winked over
the brass buttons and epaulettes which were so becoming to the firm,
manly figure and handsome face. Then the girl rose and passed her hand
under the arm of Alex, who stood ready at her side.

“Thank you, Lieutenant Wilde,” she said gently; “but Mr. Sterne had
asked me before.”

Again, the next morning, they all gathered in the little church, for an
hour or two. Then, just as the golden noontide had come, the doctor
spoke his few last earnest words, and the class of ninety-one had
marched from quiet Flemming, out into their wider field of service.


------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XVIII.

                             FORWARD—MARCH!


THE next evening the Wilders were gathered on the steps of Old Flemming.
It had been a hurried, confused day, for the morning had been devoted to
departing friends, and the afternoon to packing, since they were to
leave Flemming Hall early the next morning. Now all was done, and they
had gone down from their forlorn, dismantled rooms, to enjoy the still,
warm night.

“I believe this has been an unusually moony commencement,” said Louis
thoughtfully, as he watched the white light on the lawn and buildings
before him.

“It most certainly has,” responded Leon fervently, while he stepped on
Alex’s toe, under cover of the shadow around them.

“I wish we could be as lucky, next year,” said Stanley. “Most likely we
shall have a rainy week, to make up for this.”

“Never mind if we do,” said Max consolingly.

“We don’t need the help of the weather, as this year’s fellows do. We
can stand on our own merits.”

“What are you all going to do, this summer?” asked Paul.

“Our plans are only just made,” Harry answered, as he took off his cap
and ran his fingers through his hair. “We’ve been so unsettled since
father’s death that we haven’t known what to do. Mother didn’t feel as
if she could go back to the old place in Lenox this summer, so we’re all
going abroad for the season. Jolliest of all, Alex is going with us.”

“Alex! Why didn’t you tell me, old fellow?” asked Stanley, turning to
his friend.

“I only knew it myself yesterday,” Alex answered; “and it didn’t seem
worth while to discuss an uncertainty.”

“I wish I could go too,” sighed Jack enviously. “Where shall you go,
Hal?”

“England, mostly. Leon and I both want to go to Eton and
Harrow-on-the-Hill and Rugby, and see the places it tells about in Tom
Brown. Mother and Dot care for the Cathedral towns, and then we shall
take in France and Germany. We shall have to be back by the time college
opens, so we can’t do much. It won’t make much difference if Leon is a
week or so late, coming back here. Lieutenant Wilde has just decided to
go over on the steamer with us, so we shall have quite a party, just by
ourselves. Where are you going to be, Paul?”

“Home, through July; then Jack and I are going camping in the
Adirondacks for a month.”

“What a mixed-up set we’ll be, in a year or two!” remarked Jack. “When
we’re scattered through all the different colleges, we shall come back
here as rivals, to fight our battles. If you go to Columbia, Paul, and
Alex and Hal to Harvard, and I to Cornell, that’s something of a break
up. Where shall you go, Max?”

“Yale, every time,” responded Max promptly.

“Louis?”

“I’m not sure yet; but most likely Yale. Father is a Yale man and he
wants me to follow in his footsteps. What do you do, Stan?”

“I’m going to Cornell for the electrical engineering,” replied Stanley.
“Give me the red and white for my colors!”

“We’ll be patriotic, at least, with our red, white and blue,” said Max,
laughing. “We sha’n’t have any stripes, though, for we’re every one of
us bound to be stars.”

“Gyp has been in her element this afternoon,” observed Harry, after a
pause. “She’s been wandering back and forth between our room and
Louis’s, with Mouse in her arms, offering all manner of suggestions to
help us in our packing. She wanted me to give Mouse the sash of my
tennis suit for a parting gift, and was quite disgusted when I refused
to bestow it on her.”

“Mouse came near being a dead cat this afternoon, though,” said Louis.
“I had my trunk all shut and locked once; but I heard a dismal, lonesome
little noise inside, so I suspected something was wrong, and went on an
exploring expedition. There was Mouse, carefully put to bed in the
deepest box of my trunk-tray, on top of all my collars and cuffs. Gyp
had stowed her away in there and forgotten all about her, till I rooted
her out. She was so distressed, that I gave her that little old
lambswool rug of mine, and sent her off home, to put Mouse to bed.”

“Mouse is getting old,” remarked Alex; “and I’m afraid that, if we come
back here next June, there won’t be any Mouse to welcome us.”

“She ought to be perfect through suffering, long before this,” said
Leon. “With the best intentions in life, Gyp has tormented the very hair
off her head. I don’t know what she will do, when Mouse dies.”

“Do you know,” said Paul reflectively; “I believe this has been the
jolliest year we have had. I shouldn’t have been half so sorry to leave
Flemming, a year ago, as I am now. We nine boys have had uncommonly good
times together.”

“Especially after the football game,” suggested Leon maliciously.

“You did get rather the worst of that, Leon; but then, you did by far
the best work on our side, and I’d be content to make such a record as
you did, on almost any terms,” said Jack admiringly. “But do any of you
lads know what Bony is going to do, next year?”

“I’m afraid he’s getting ready to leave,” said Max regretfully. “I’m no
end sorry, for now I know him, I like him. He’s a good man, through and
through, and it will be a long time before we get anybody to fill his
place.”

“That’s true,” assented Louis; “but it took us long enough to discover
it.”

“I told you, in the first place, he was like an olive,” retorted Max.
“He’s puckery, the first you get of him; but if you keep at him, you’ll
want more and more. I do wish he’d stay another year, to finish us off.”

Just as he spoke, the boys caught sight of two figures coming up the
hill from the doctor’s house.

“Is it a farewell-session of the Wilders?” called Irving Wilde’s voice.

“Yes, and we only need you to fill up the number, you and Mr. Boniface,”
said Alex, as he moved to give them a place on the steps beside him. “We
were just talking about you, Mr. Boniface, wondering if you were to be
here another year, or not.”

“And devoutly hoping you were,” added Max.

Mr. Boniface turned to him gratefully.

“Thank you, Max,” he answered. “I don’t really know, myself. I had
expected to go away at the end of this term, to finish up my studies;
but the doctor is urging me to stay at least one more year. If I thought
I could do good work here and be of any help to you boys, perhaps—”, he
hesitated, then went on; “but whatever comes, I know that I shall be
better through all my life, for having come to know and care for my
boys, here at Flemming Hall.”

Lieutenant Wilde broke in upon the pause that followed.

“Well, Leon,” he asked; “what do they say to your news?”

“He hasn’t told it yet,” interposed Harry. “He’s been waiting till he
could have the floor, and make his announcement with proper effect. Go
it now, Leon; we’re ready.”

“What’s up with Leon?” asked Max curiously.

“Tremendous honors are showered upon the infant,” answered Harry. “Speak
and tell us, Leon.”

Leon laughed; but even in the moonlight, the boys could see the quick
color come into his cheeks, and his voice trembled a little with
excitement, as he said,—

“You fellows all remember Captain Curtis, Lieutenant Wilde’s friend that
was here in March. He knew daddy, and after daddy died, he wrote to us.
I answered the letter, and since then he’s written to me three or four
times. Last Saturday I had another letter from him, and he’s offered to
get me in at West Point, when I’m old enough.”

“What!” And Max started up eagerly.

“Yes, isn’t it fine? He has a cousin that’s congressman from
Pennsylvania, and their district will have a vacancy the summer after
I’m seventeen. Captain Curtis says he can get me the appointment, if I
want it. Daddy would have been willing, I know, so, if nothing happens,
seven years from now, I shall be Lieutenant Arnold, of the United States
Army. Don’t you all envy me, though?” And Leon smiled complacently
around at the group.

“Just my luck!” sighed Max. “Another fellow is always sure to get the
blessings I deserve. Why couldn’t Captain Curtis have taken a liking to
me? Still, I’m no end glad you have it, Leon, for it’s just the thing
for you.”

For an hour longer they sat there, now talking, now silently watching
the moonlight as it lay caressingly over the doctor’s house, and over
their little group as they lingered on the piazza, where they had so
often sat before. It was far past their usual bed-time, yet no one of
the boys made the move towards going into the house. The next morning
would end it all, so why not prolong the evening as far as they might?
But, little by little, the light talk of past frolics and future hopes
and plans had died away, and they sat there quiet. Perhaps they were
growing sleepy; perhaps they were thinking of the morrow, and of the
days and years to come. Then, all at once, Leon’s clear, high soprano
voice took up the air of one of the Harrow songs which Lieutenant Wilde
had brought back to them after a vacation tour to England. It was a song
that the boys knew and loved, both for itself, and for that vague
feeling of romance which overhangs all that pertains to life at an
English public school. Often and often had they sung it together, when
driving, or rowing on the lake, or when, as now, they sat on the Old
Flemming steps; but never had it meant to them all that it did to-night,
on the eve of their parting. One after another, the boys joined in the
chorus, until the sound swelled on and upward, as if to carry out to the
waiting world their promise for their future lives:—

                   “Like an ancient river flowing
                      From the mountain to the sea,
                    So we follow, coming, going
                      To the wider life to be.
                       On our course,
                       From the source
                    To the wider life to be.

                   “Is it naught, our long procession,
                      Father, brother, friend and son,
                    As we step in quick succession,
                      Cap and pass and hurry on?
                       One and all
                       At the call,
                    Cap and pass and hurry on?

                   “One by one, and as they name us,
                     Forth we go from boyhood’s rule,
                    Sworn to be renowned and famous,
                      For the honor of the school,
                       True as steel
                       In our zeal
                     For the honor of the school.

                   “So to-day—and oh! if ever
                     Duty’s voice is ringing clear,
                    Bidding men to brave endeavour,
                     Be our answer, ‘We are here.’
                       Come what will,
                       Good or ill,
                     Be our answer, ‘We are here.’”

Clear and true, the last notes lingered upon the air, and then slowly
died away into the stillness of the summer night. Then Jack Howard’s
voice led off in one parting cheer:—

“Rah! F. L. E. M. M. I. N. G.! Fszt! Rah! Rah! _Rah!_ RAH!” [Music:
“_Here Sir!_”

            Words by E. W. HOWSON.    Music by EATON FANING.
                      Allegro moderato.    ♩= 112.

CHORUS.

               Like an an-cient ri-ver flow-ing
               From the mountain to the sea, So we fol-low


[Music:

                com-ing, go-ing To the wid-er
                Life to be—On our course From the source
                To the wi-der Life to be!

]

[Music:

             Here sir! Here sir! Here sir! Here sir!
             On the top of Har-row Hill, Here sir! Here sir!
             Here sir! Here sir! In the wind-y yard at Bill.

]



------------------------------------------------------------------------


                      NEW BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.

                           ------------------

TOM CLIFTON; OR, WESTERN BOYS IN GRANT AND SHERMAN’S ARMY. By WARREN LEE
GOSS, author of “Jed,” “Recollections of a Private,” etc. Fully
illustrated. 12mo, $1.50.

Mr. Goss has the genius of a story-teller. No one can follow the
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FAMOUS TYPES OF WOMANHOOD. By SARAH K. BOLTON, author of “Poor Boys Who
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Mrs. Bolton here gives in an entertaining style vivid pictures from the
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MIXED PICKLES. By MRS. EVELYN H. RAYMOND, author of “Monica, the Mesa
Maiden.” Illustrated. 12mo, $1.25.

Under this mysterious and alluring title Mrs. Raymond describes the
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and their cousins in a quiet Quaker farmhouse.

THE RIVERPARK REBELLION, and A TALE OF THE TOW PATH. By HOMER GREENE,
author of “The Blind Brother,” “Burnham Breaker,” etc. 12mo.
Illustrated. $1.00.

The first is the story of an episode in a military school on the Hudson,
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Mr. Greene takes the reader out of the usual environment and shows him
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IN BLUE CREEK CAÑON. By ANNA CHAPIN RAY, author of “Half a Dozen Girls,”
“Half a Dozen Boys,” etc. Illustrated. 12mo, $1.25.

Miss Ray transports to the Rocky Mountains a party of her happy,
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during a summer in a mining camp. The story is full of atmosphere and
life.

THE CADETS OF FLEMMING HALL. By ANNA CHAPIN RAY, author of “Half a Dozen
Girls,” “Half a Dozen Boys,” etc. Illustrated. 12mo, $1.25.

Schoolboy life has not been often depicted in colors that will more
surely delight the reader than in this volume. It is a story full of
enthusiasm, with exciting adventures, genial fun, and of high purpose.

THE MOTHER OF THE KING’S CHILDREN. By the REV. J. F. COWAN, author of
the “Jo-Boat Boys.” With an introduction by the Rev. F. E. Clark, D. D.
Illustrated. 12mo, $1.50.

A book of much merit, quite above the average, and will do good wherever
read. Especially will it deepen an interest in practical religious work.

LITTLE ARTHUR’S HISTORY OF ROME. By HEZEKIAH BUTTERWORTH, author of the
“Zigzag Books,” etc. A companion volume to “Little Arthur’s England and
France.” Illustrated. 12mo, $1.25.

No one better understands the requirements of the young than Mr.
Butterworth, and his book will foster an appetite for classical studies.

SHORT STUDIES IN BOTANY FOR CHILDREN. By MRS. HARRIET C. COOPER. Fully
illustrated. 12mo, $1.00.

Many teachers and parents have found that Botany may be made attractive
to very young children. Mrs. Cooper’s little volume contains a practical
demonstration of this.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  For sale by all booksellers. Catalogues sent free upon application.

                  *       *       *       *       *

               T. Y. CROWELL & CO.,—New York and Boston.


                     PUBLICATIONS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

A SCORE OF FAMOUS COMPOSERS. By NATHAN HASKELL DOLE, formerly musical
editor of the Philadelphia _Press_ and _Evening Bulletin_. With
portraits of Beethoven, Wagner, Liszt, Haydn, etc. 12mo, $1.50.

No pains have been spared to make this volume of musical biographies
accurate, and at the same time entertaining. Many quaint and curious
details have been found in out-of-the-way German or Italian sources.
Beginning with Palestrina, “the Prince of Music,” concerning whose life
many interesting discoveries have been recently made, and ending with
Wagner, the twenty Composers, while in the majority of German origin,
still embrace representatives of England and Italy, Hungary and Russia,
of France and Poland. Free from pedantry and technicalities, simple and
straightforward in style, these sketches aim above all to acquaint the
reader, and particularly the young, with the personality of the
subjects, to make them live again while recounting their struggles and
triumphs.

FAMOUS ENGLISH STATESMEN. By SARAH K. BOLTON, author of “Poor Boys Who
became Famous.” With Portraits of Gladstone, John Bright, Robert Peel,
etc. 12mo, $1.50.

Mrs. Bolton has found a peculiarly congenial subject in her latest
contribution to the series of “Famous” books. Nearly all of the English
statesmen whose biographies she so sympathetically recounts, have been
leaders in great works of reform; and with many Mrs. Bolton had the
privilege of personal acquaintance. She has given succinct, yet
sufficiently detailed descriptions of the chief labors of these
statesmen, and the young reader will find them stirring and stimulating,
full of anecdotes and bright sayings.

THE JO-BOAT BOYS. By REV. J. F. COWAN, D.D., editor of “Our Young
People,” etc. Illustrated by H. W. Peirce. 12mo, $1.50.

The shanty boats which shelter the amphibious people along the banks of
the Ohio are called Jo-Boats, and Dr. Cowan has chosen this original
environment for the earlier scenes of his remarkably lively and spirited
story. It will appeal to every boy who has a spark of zest in his soul.

AN ENTIRE STRANGER. BY REV. T. L. BAILY. Illustrated. 12mo, $1.25.

The heroine of Mr. Baily’s naïve and fascinating story is a
school-teacher who is full of resources, and understands how to bring
out the diverse capabilities of her scholars. She wins the love and
admiration of her school, and interests them in many improvements. It is
a thoroughly practical book, and we should be glad to see it in the
hands of all teachers and their scholars.

THROWN UPON HER OWN RESOURCES; OR, WHAT GIRLS CAN DO. By “JENNY JUNE”
(Mrs. Croly). A book for girls. 12mo, $1.25.

Mrs. Croly, the able editor of _The Home Maker_, in this book for girls,
shows in her practical, common-sense way, what chances there are open to
young women, when the necessity comes for self-support. The wise,
prudent words of one who has had so much experience in dealing with the
problems of life will be welcomed by a large class of readers.

LED IN UNKNOWN PATHS. By ANNA F. RAFFENSPERGER. Illustrated. 12mo,
$1.25.

A simple, unpretentious diary of homely, every-day life. It is so true
to nature that it reads like a transcript from an actual journal. It is
full of good-humor, quiet fun, gentle pathos, and good sound sense. One
follows with surprising interest the daily doings, the pleasures and
trials of the good family whose life is pictured in its pages.

HALF A DOZEN GIRLS. By ANNA CHAPIN RAY, author of “Half a Dozen Boys.”
Illustrated, 12mo, $1.25.

A book for girls displaying unusual insight into human nature with a
quiet, sly humor, a faculty of investing every-day events with a
dramatic interest, a photographic touch, and a fine moral tone. It ought
to be a favorite with many girls.


                    WAR STORIES BY WARREN LEE GOSS.

RECOLLECTIONS OF A PRIVATE. A Story of the Army of the Potomac. By
WARREN LEE GOSS, author of “Jed.” With over 80 illustrations by Chapin
and Shelton. Royal 8vo. Cloth, $3.25; seal russia, $4.25; half morocco,
$5.00.

Among the many books about the Civil War there is none which more
clearly describes what took place among the rank and file of the Union
Army, while on the march or on the battle-field, than the story given by
Mr. Goss in this volume.

It is one of the handsomest, as well as one of the most valuable works
in American war literature.—_Boston Globe._

No volume of war history has given the reader more graphic descriptions
of army life.... The writer speaks from knowledge and not from
theory.—_Chicago Inter-Ocean._

             _From General Rosecrans, Register of Treasury_
                TREASURY DEPARTMENT, REGISTER’S OFFICE.
                   WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 24, 1890.

... It may seem strange, but it is true, that I have had comparatively
little time to devote to war literature, but I derived much pleasure
from the perusal of this book. Its raciness of style, accuracy of
statement, and often pathos of the story, so much interested me that I
devoted a whole evening to it. It is all the more pleasant because from
my own knowledge, I believe it to be a fair representation of the spirit
of that great body of patriotic men, the private soldiers of the Union
Army; and I hope it may be largely read, not only by old soldiers, but
also by other citizens, young and old.

                                                            Yours truly,
                                                        W. S. ROSECRANS.

JED. A Boy’s Adventures in the Army of 1861-’65. A Story of Battle and
Prison, of Peril and Escape. By WARREN LEE GOSS, author of “The
Soldier’s Story of his Captivity at Andersonville and other Prisons,”
“The Recollections of a Private” (in the Century War Series). Fully
illustrated. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.

In this story the author has aimed to furnish true pictures of scenes in
the great Civil War, and not to produce sensational effects. The
incidents of the book are real ones, drawn largely from the writer’s
personal experiences and observations as a soldier of the Union during
that war. The descriptions of life in the Southern prisons are
especially graphic. It is one of the best war stories ever written. Boys
will read it with avidity.

Of all the many stories of the Civil War that have been published it is
not possible to mention one which for sturdy realism, intensity of
interest, and range of narrative can compare with Jed.—_Boston Beacon._

A book that every boy in the country will want to read the moment he
sees it, and it is as instructive as entertaining.—_Brooklyn Union._

A thrilling story of bravery, endurance, and final success.—_Boston Home
Journal._

                  *       *       *       *       *

For sale by all Booksellers. Complete Catalogue sent to any address upon
application.

                  *       *       *       *       *


                     PUBLICATIONS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.

                           ------------------

1 TOM BROWN’S SCHOOL DAYS

By THOMAS HUGHES. With 53 illustrations engraved by Andrew, carefully
printed from beautiful type on calendered paper. 12mo, cloth, $2.00;
full gilt, $2.50. _Edition de luxe_, limited to 250 numbered copies,
large paper, Japan proofs mounted, $5.00.

Praise or comment on this classic would be a work of supererogation.
Every parent sooner or later puts it in his children’s hands. We can
only say that the present edition is by all odds the best that has ever
been offered to the American public. Printed from large type, well
illustrated, and handsomely bound, it makes a book worthy of any
library.

2 FAMOUS EUROPEAN ARTISTS.

By MRS. SARAH K. BOLTON, author of “Poor Boys Who Became Famous,” etc.
With portraits of Raphael, Titian, Landseer, Reynolds, Rubens, Turner,
and others. 12mo, $1.50.

In this handsome volume, Mrs. Bolton relates sympathetically, and with
her usual skill in seizing upon salient points, the lives of Sir Joshua
Reynolds, Turner, and other artists, whose names are household words.
The sketches are accompanied by excellent portraits.

3 FAMOUS ENGLISH AUTHORS OF THE 19th CENTURY.

By Mrs. SARAH K. BOLTON, author of “Poor Boys Who Became Famous,” etc.
With portraits of Scott, Burns, Carlyle, Dickens, Tennyson, Robert
Browning, etc. 12mo, $1.50.

During a recent visit abroad, Mrs. Bolton had the opportunity of
visiting many of the scenes made memorable by the residence or writings
of the best known English authors, and the incidents which she was thus
enabled to invest with a personal interest, she has woven into the
sketches of Tennyson, Ruskin, Browning, and the other authors of whom
she writes. These two companion volumes are among the best of the famous
“Famous” Series.

4 GOSPEL STORIES.

Translated from the Russian of Count L. N. TOLSTOI by Nathan Haskell
Dole. 12mo, $1.25.

Count Tolstoï’s short sketches of Russian life, inspired generally by
some pregnant text of Scripture and written for the masses, perhaps even
more than his longer works show the man’s real greatness. Sixteen of
these, selected from various publications, are here presented in a neat
and attractive volume.

5 PHILIP, or What May Have Been

A story of the First Century. By MARY C. CUTLER. 12mo, $1.25.

An appreciative notice of this story contains the following
words:—“Reverence, accuracy, a chastened feeling of perfect sincerity,
pervade this book.... We have read it through, and can confidently
recommend it as in every way fitted to give the old familiar facts of
the gospel history a new interest.”

6 HALF A DOZEN BOYS.

By ANNIE CHAPIN RAY. 12mo, illustrated, $1.25.

This is a genuine story of boy life. The six heroes are capital fellows,
such as any healthy lad, or girl either for that matter, will feel heart
warm toward. The simple incidents and amusements of the village where
they live are invested with a peculiar charm through the hearty and
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worthy of Miss Alcott’s pen.


                      NEW BOOKS AND NEW EDITIONS.

THE EVERY DAY OF LIFE. By the REV. J. R. MILLER, D.D., author of “Silent
Times,” “Making the Most of Life,” etc. 16mo, gilt top, parti-cloth,
$1.00; 16mo, white and gold, gilt edges, $1.25; levant morocco,
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Hearty words of love and sympathy designed to help and cheer those who
are weary with the treadmill of daily cares and perplexities.

WORDSWORTH’S POEMS. (Selections.) Illustrated in photogravure by E. H.
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$3.50.

This is the selection made by the late Matthew Arnold and includes the
cream of Wordsworth’s verse. Mr. Garrett, the artist, has here found a
peculiarly congenial field, and his admirable drawings in the
interpretation of the text will be fully appreciated.

WALTON’S ANGLER. New edition. Complete in two volumes with all the
original 86 illustrations of Major’s edition and photogravure
frontispieces. 2 vols. 16mo, cloth, gilt top, $2.50.

Even those who do not fish love the quaint style of the “divine Izaak,”
and there is no better edition than Major’s, or this reproduction of
that time-honored classic.

POLLY BUTTON’S NEW YEAR. By MRS. C. F. WILDER. 12mo. Unique parti-cloth
binding, .75.

Miss Polly Button, reduced in fortune, makes herself a power in her
church by applying her Christianity to every-day life.

EQUITABLE TAXATION. A series of Prize Essays by WALTER E. WEYL, ROBERT
LUCE, BOLTON HALL, and others. Introduction by the Hon. Jonathan A.
Lane. Biographical sketches and portraits. 12mo, .75.

Nothing is more evident than that there is a crying need for change in
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DAILY FOOD. New illustrated edition, with 12 photo-engravings. 18mo.
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Thousands of this little classic have been sold. The present edition is
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A PLEA FOR THE GOSPEL. By the REV. GEORGE D. HERRON, author of “The
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.75.

The author’s previous volumes have been hailed by men of all
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MONICA, THE MESA MAIDEN. By MRS. EVELYN H. RAYMOND. Illustrated. 12mo,
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Monica is a Spanish girl of Southern California, who lives in a quaint
old house of adobe, surrounded with vines and flowers. She meets with
strange adventures which result in the unravelling of a complicated
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LES MISÉRABLES. By VICTOR HUGO. Translated by Isabel F. Hapgood. New
edition. Complete in two volumes, with 32 full-page illustrations. 12mo.
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TENNYSON’S POEMS. New edition. Complete in two volumes. Illustrated with
two photogravures and numerous wood engravings by the best artists. 2
vols. 12mo. Gilt top, $3.00; white back, fancy paper sides, gilt top,
$5.00.

                  *       *       *       *       *

  For sale by all booksellers. Catalogues sent free upon application.

                  *       *       *       *       *

T. Y. CROWELL & CO.,—New York and Boston.


                      MRS. BOLTON’S FAMOUS BOOKS.

                           ------------------

“_The most interesting books to me are the histories of individuals and
individual minds, all autobiographies, and the like. This is my favorite
reading._”—H. W. Longfellow.

“_Mrs. Bolton never fails to interest and instruct her
readers._”—Chicago Inter-Ocean.

“_Always written in a bright and fresh style._”—Boston Home Journal.

“_Readable without inaccuracy._”—Boston Post.

                           ------------------

POOR BOYS WHO BECAME FAMOUS.

By SARAH K. BOLTON. Short biographical sketches of George Peabody,
Michael Faraday, Samuel Johnson, Admiral Farragut, Horace Greeley,
William Lloyd Garrison, Garibaldi, President Lincoln, and other noted
persons who, from humble circumstances, have risen to fame and
distinction, and left behind an imperishable record. Illustrated with 24
portraits. 12mo. $1.50.

GIRLS WHO BECAME FAMOUS.

By SARAH K. BOLTON. A companion book to “Poor Boys Who Became Famous.”
Biographical sketches of Harriet Beecher Stowe, George Eliot, Helen Hunt
Jackson, Harriet Hosmer, Rosa Bonheur, Florence Nightingale, Maria
Mitchell, and other eminent women. Illustrated with portraits. 12mo.
$1.50.

FAMOUS MEN OF SCIENCE.

By SARAH K. BOLTON. Short biographical sketches of Galileo, Newton,
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others. Illustrated with 15 portraits. 12mo. $1.50.

FAMOUS AMERICAN STATESMEN.

By SARAH K. BOLTON. A companion book to “Famous American Authors.”
Biographical sketches of Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton,
Webster, Sumner, Garfield, and others. Illustrated with portraits. 12mo.
$1.50.

FAMOUS ENGLISH STATESMEN.

By SARAH K. BOLTON. With portraits of Gladstone, John Bright, Robert
Peel, Lord Palmerston, Lord Shaftesbury, William Edward Forster, Lord
Beaconsfield. 12mo. $1.50.

FAMOUS EUROPEAN ARTISTS.

By SARAH K. BOLTON. With portraits of Raphael, Titian, Landseer,
Reynolds, Rubens, Turner, and others. 12mo. $1.50.

FAMOUS AMERICAN AUTHORS.

By SARAH K. BOLTON. Short biographical sketches of Holmes, Longfellow,
Emerson, Lowell, Aldrich, Mark Twain, and other noted writers.
Illustrated with portraits. 12mo. $1.50.

FAMOUS ENGLISH AUTHORS OF THE 19th CENTURY.

By SARAH K. BOLTON. With portraits of Scott, Burns, Carlyle, Dickens,
Tennyson, Robert Browning, etc. 12mo. $1.50.

STORIES FROM LIFE.

By SARAH K. BOLTON. A book of short stories, charming and helpful. 12mo.
$1.25.

                  *       *       *       *       *

            For sale by all booksellers. Send for catalogue.

                  *       *       *       *       *

THOMAS Y. CROWELL & CO., Publishers, New York.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



 ● Transcriber’s Notes:
    ○ Music files have been provided for the song presented in Chapter
      XVIII, “Here Sir.” If your browser supports it, clicking on the
      MP3 link will play the music; clicking on the MIDI link may open a
      program that can play MIDI files; or it may just download the MIDI
      file to your computer.
    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected.
    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
      when a predominant form was found in this book.
    ○ Text that was in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).





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+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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