FRANK MERRIWELL AT YALE
BURT L STANDISH
I—Trouble Brewing II—Challenged and Hazed III—The Blow IV—The Fight V—The Finish VI—A Fresh Council VII—A Surprise VIII—The "Roast" at East Rock IX—The Duel X—At Morey's XI—"Lambda Chi!" XII—Freshman Against Sophomore XIII—Jubilant Freshmen XIV—The Rush XV—On the Ball Field XVI—To Break an Enemy's Wrist XVII—Talking it Over XVIII—Merriwell and Rattleton XIX—Who is the Traitor? XX—A Hot Chase XXI—Roast Turkey XXII—A Surprise for Frank XXIII—The Yale Spirit XXIV—Gordon Expresses Himself XXV—The Traitor Discovered XXVI—The Race XXVII—A Change of Pitchers XXVIII—The Game Grows Hotter XXIX—The End of the Game XXX—Rattleton is Excited XXXI—What Ditson Wanted XXXII—Ditson is Trapped XXXIII—"Play Ball" XXXIV—A Hot Finish
FRANK MERRIWELL AT YALE,
"Here's to good old Yale—drink it down! Here's to good old Yale—drink it down! Here's to good old Yale, She's so hearty and so hale— Drink it down! Drink it down! down! down!"
From the open window of his rooms on York Street Frank Merriwell heard the distant chorus of a rollicking band of students who had been having a merry evening in town.
Frank had passed his examinations successfully and had been admitted as a student at Yale. In order to accomplish this without taking a preparatory course at Phillips Academy, he had found it necessary to vigorously "brush up" the knowledge he had acquired at the Fardale Military Academy which was a college preparatory school.
Professor Scotch, Frank's guardian, had been of great assistance to him, for the professor knew just about what would be required at the entrance examination, and he had kept the boy digging away away at the propositions in the First Book of Euclid, had drilled him in Caesar, caused him to spend weary hours over Virgil and the Iliad, and made him not a little weary of his Xenophon.
As he passed without a condition, although he had been told again and again that a course at Phillips Academy was almost an absolute necessity, Frank was decidedly grateful to the professor.
Professor Scotch's anxiety had brought him to New Haven, where he remained "till the agony was over," as Frank expressed it. The little man bubbled over with delight when he found his protege had gone through without a struggle.
Having secured the rooms on York Street, the professor saw Frank comfortably settled, and then, before taking his departure, he attempted to give the boy some wholesome advice.
"Don't try to put on many frills here the first year," he said. "You will find that freshmen do not cut much of a figure here. It doesn't make any difference what you have done or what you have been elsewhere, you will have to establish a record by what you do and what you become here. You'll find these fellows here won't care a rap if you have discovered the North Pole or circumnavigated the globe in—er—ah—ten days. It will be all the better for you if you do not let them know you are rich in your own name and have traveled in South America, Africa, Europe, and other countries. They'd think you were bragging or lying if you mentioned it, and—"
"You know well enough that I am not given to boasting about myself, professor, and so you are wasting your breath," said Frank, rather resentfully.
"Hum! ha! Don't fly off the handle—keep cool. I know you have sand, and you're made of the right kind of stuff; but you are the greatest hand to get into scrapes I ever saw, and a little advice won't do you any harm. You will find that in many things you cannot do just as you would like, so you must—"
"I'll get into the game all right, so don't worry. You will remember that I did fairly well at Fardale, and you should not worry about me while I am here."
"I will not. You did well at Fardale—that's right. You were the most popular boy in the academy; but you will find Yale is far different from Fardale."
So the professor took his departure, and Frank was left to begin life at college.
His roommate was a rollicking, headstrong, thoughtless young fellow from Ohio. Harry Rattleton was his name, and it seemed to fit him perfectly. He had a way of speaking rapidly and heedlessly and turning his expressions end for end.
Frank had been able to assist Harry at examination. Harry and Frank were seated close to each other, and when it was all over and the two boys knew they had passed all right, Harry came to Frank, held out his hand, and said:
"I believe your name is Merriwell. Mine is Rattleton and I am from Ohio. Merriwell, you are a brick, and I am much obliged to you. Let's room together. What do you say?"
"I am agreeable," smiled Frank.
That was the way Frank found his roommate.
Harry was interested in sports and athletics, and he confided to Frank that he was bound to make a try for both the baseball and football teams. He had brought a set of boxing gloves, foils, and a number of sporting pictures. The foils were crossed above the mantel and the pictures were hung about the walls, but he insisted on putting on the gloves with Frank before hanging them up where they would be ornamental.
"I've taken twenty lessons, old man," he said, "and I want to point you a few shows—I mean show you a few points. We'll practice every day, and I'll bet in less than ten weeks I'll have you so you'll be able to hold your own with any fellow of your age and weight. Ever had the gloves on?"
"A few times," answered Frank, with a quiet smile.
"That's all the better. I won't have to show you how to start in. Here, here—that hand goes on the other glove—I mean that glove goes on the other hand. That's the way. Now we're off. Left forward foot—er, left foot forward. Hold your guard this way. Now hit me if you can."
Almost like a flash of lightning Frank's glove shot out, and he caused the glove to snap on Harry's nose.
"Whee jiz—I mean jee whiz!" gasped the astonished boy from Ohio. "You're quick! But it was an accident; you can't do it again."
He had scarcely uttered the words before Frank feinted and then shot in a sharp one under Harry's uplifted guard.
"Great Scott! You do know some tricks! I'll bet you think you can box! Well, I'll have to drive that head out of your notion—I mean that notion out of your head. Look out for me now! I'm coming!"
Then Harry Rattleton sailed into Frank and met with the greatest surprise of his life, for he found he could not touch Merriwell, and he was beaten and hammered and battered about the room till he finally felt himself slugged under the ear and sent flying over a chair, to land in a heap in one corner of the room. He sat up and held his gloved hand to his ear, which was ringing with a hundred clanging bells, while he stared astounded at his roommate.
"Wow!" he gurgled. "What have I been up against? Are you a prize fighter in disguise?"
That experience was enough to satisfy him that Frank Merriwell knew a great deal more than he did about boxing.
As Frank sat by his window listening to the singing, on the evening that this story opens, he was wondering where Harry could be, for his roommate had been away since shortly after supper.
Frank knew the merry singers were sophomores, the malicious and unrelenting foes of all freshmen. He would have given not a little had he been able to join them in their songs, but he knew that was not to be thought of for a moment.
As he continued to listen, a clear tenor voice struck into that most beautiful of college songs when heard from a distance:
"When the matin bell is ringing, U-ra-li-o, U-ra-li-o, From my rushy pallet springing, U-ra-li-o, U-ra-li-o, Fresh as the morning light forth I sally, With my sickle bright thro' the valley, To my dear one gayly singing, U-ra-li-o, U-ra-li-o."
Then seven or eight strong musical young voices came in on the warbling chorus, and the boy at the window listened enchanted and enraptured, feeling the subtle charm of it all and blessing fortune that he was a youth and a student at Yale.
The charm of the new life he had entered upon was strong, and it was weaving its spell about him—the spell which makes old Yale so dear to all who are fortunate enough to claim her as their alma mater. He continued to listen, eagerly drinking in the rest of the song as it came through the clear evening air:
"When the day is closing o'er us, U-ra-li-o, U-ra-li-o, And the landscape fades before us, U-ra-li-o, U-ra-li-o, When our merry men quit their mowing, And along the glen horns are blowing, Sweetly then we'll raise the chorus, U-ra-li-o, U-ra-li-o."
The warbling song died out in the distance, there was a rush of feet outside the door, and Harry, breathless and excited, came bursting into the room.
"I say, old man," he cried, "what do I think?"
"Really, I don't know," laughed Frank. "What do you think?"
"I—I mean wh-what do you think?" spluttered Harry.
"Why, I think a great many things. What's up, anyway?"
"You know Diamond?"
"The fellow they call Jack?"
"I should say so! It was his bull pup that chewed a piece out of the leg of my trousers. I kicked the dog downstairs, and Diamond came near having a fit over it. He's got a peppery temper, and he was ready to murder me. I reckon he thought I should have taken off my trousers and given them to the dog to chew."
"He's a Southerner—from Virginia. He's a dangerous chap, Frank—just as lief eat as fight—I mean fight as eat. He's been in town to-night, drinking beer with the boys, and he's in a mighty ugly mood. He says you insulted him."
"Is that so?"
"It's just so, and he's going to dallenge you to a chewel—I mean challenge you to a duel."
Frank whistled softly, elevating his brows a bit.
"What sort of a duel?" he asked.
"Why, a regular duel with deadly weapons. He's awfully in earnest, Frank, and he means to kill you if you don't apologize. All the fellows are backing him; they think you will not fight."
"Is that so? Looking for me to show the white feather, are they? Well, I like that!"
"But you can't fight him! I tell you he's a fire eater! I've heard that his father killed a man in a duel."
"And that makes the son dangerous! No, Harry, I can't afford to—What's all that racket?"
The sound of voices and of many feet ascending the stairs could be heard. Harry turned pale.
"They're coming, Frank!" he exclaimed. "It's the whole gang, and Diamond is with them. He means to force you to fight or squeal!"
CHALLENGED AND HAZED.
The voices were hushed, the feet halted in the hall, and then there was a sharp knock on the door.
Before Harry could reach the door Frank called out:
Open flew the door, and there stood the tall, straight, dark-eyed Southerner, with half a dozen other fellows behind him.
"Mr. Merriwell," said Diamond, stiffly, "I have called to see you on a very important matter, sir."
"Walk right in," invited Frank, rising to receive them. "Bring your friends in. State your business, Mr. Diamond."
The party came trooping in, and Frank was not a little astonished to observe among them Bruce Browning, a big, strong, lazy sophomore, a fellow who was known to be a great hand to plan deviltry which was usually carried into execution by his friends. As for Browning, he was not given to exerting himself when he could avoid it.
That a soph should associate with a party of freshmen seemed but a little short of marvelous, and Frank instantly scented "a job." Believing he had been singled out for the party to "jolly," his blood was up in a moment, and he resolved to show them that he was not "easy."
Jack Diamond drew himself up, his eyes fastened threateningly on Frank, and said:
"Sir, you had the impudence to kick my dog, and when I remonstrated with you, you insulted me. I demand an apology before these gentlemen."
Frank held himself in check; he appeared as cool as an iceberg.
"Sir," he said, "your confounded dog spoiled a pair of ten-dollar trousers for me, and I demand another pair—or satisfaction."
Harry Rattleton caught his breath. Was Merriwell crazy? He started forward, as if to intervene, but Diamond, his eyes blazing, motioned him back.
"Very well, sir," said the Southerner, addressing Frank, "you shall have all the satisfaction you desire. Mr. Ditson will represent me."
Roland Ditson pressed forward. He was a loud-voiced youth who wore loud clothes and sported a large amount of jewelry.
"Name your second, Merriwell," he said in an authoritative way. "We want to settle this matter as soon as possible."
Frank named Harry, and the seconds conferred together.
Merriwell sat down and coolly awaited the result, with his hands in his pockets. Diamond drew aside, his friends gathering about him. Bruce Browning interested himself in what was passing between Rattleton and Ditson, and it was plain that he was urging them to do something.
After a few minutes Harry approached Frank, a troubled look on his face.
"It's an outrage!" he indignantly exclaimed. "Ditson insists that it be a degular ruel—I mean a regular duel with rapiers. He says you gave the challenge, and so Diamond has the right to name the weapons. Such a thing can't take place!"
"Oh, yes, it can," said Frank, coolly. "Accept the proposition and have the affair come off as soon as possible."
"But, Frank, think of it! I'll bet Diamond is an expert swordsman, and he's just the kind of a chap to lose his head and run you through the body! Why, it would be dimply serrible—I mean simply terrible!"
"I'll have to fight him or take water. Now, Harry, old man, you don't want me to show the white feather, so go back and complete the arrangements."
"But there ought to be some other way of settling it. If you could fight him with your fists I know you'd beat him, but you don't stand a show this way."
Frank looked his roommate squarely in the eye.
"Go back and accept every proposition Ditson makes," he commanded, and Rattleton felt the influence of Merriwell's superior will.
Back he went, and it did not take the seconds long, with Bruce Browning's aid, to settle matters. Browning said he knew a nice quiet place where the duel could take place without danger of interruption, and in a short time the entire party was on the street, following the lead of the big sophomore.
Harry was at Frank's side and he was greatly agitated.
"If you are counting on Diamond backing down you'll be dadly—I mean sadly disappointed," he whispered. "That fellow doesn't know what it is to be afraid, and he'll stand up to the end."
"Keep cool," directed Frank. "He'll find there are others."
Harry gave up in despair.
"This is a terrible affair!" he muttered to himself. "It's likely to mean arrest, disgrace, imprisonment for the whole of us, if those blamed hot-headed fools don't kill each other!"
But he decided to stand by his roommate, no matter what came.
Browning led them away from the vicinity of the college buildings and down a dark street. At length they came to an old brick structure, in which not a light was to be seen. Down some slippery stone steps they went, and the big soph let them in by unlocking a door.
It was dark inside. Browning closed and locked the door, after which he conducted them along a narrow passage, opened another door, and ushered them into a room.
The smell of cigarette smoke was strong there, and Frank knew the place had been lately occupied by smokers.
A match spluttered, and then a lamp was lighted.
"Get ready for business," directed Browning. "I will bring the rapiers and another light."
Then he vanished beyond a door that opened into another dark room.
Frank looked around and saw a table, upon which were cards and empty beer bottles. There were chairs and some copies of illustrated sporting papers. The walls were bare.
It was warm down there, and Frank immediately discarded his coat.
Diamond was about to follow Merriwell's example, when there was a sudden rush of feet and the room filled in a twinkling with masked youths, who flung themselves on the astonished freshmen and made all but Frank a prisoner in a moment.
Frank instantly understood that they had been trapped and he knocked down four of his assailants before they could bear him to the floor and overpower him.
His hands were securely bound, and then he was lifted to his feet.
"Well, fellows, that was a pretty slick trick," he half laughed, as he coolly looked around. "You sophs have been trying to corral a gang of us for a week, and with the aid of the smooth Mr. Browning you succeeded very finely this time."
"Silence!" roared a deep voice, and a tall fellow in a scarlet Mephisto rig confronted Frank. "You have intruded upon forbidden ground. None but the chosen may enter here and escape with life."
"Not one!" chorused all the masks in deep and dismal unison.
Mephisto made a signal. Once more the freshmen were seized.
"Away with them!" shouted the fellow in red.
In another moment all but Frank had been hustled out of the room. Then Frank was suddenly held fast and blindfolded. He was dragged along to some place where the opening of another door brought to his ears the sound of horns and shouts of fiendish glee. He was made to mount some stairs and then his feet were kicked from beneath him, and he shot down a steep and slippery incline into the very midst of the shouting demons. He dropped through space and landed—in a vat of ice-cold water. Then he was dragged out, thumped on the head with stuffed clubs, deafened by the horns that bellowed in his ears, and tossed in a blanket till his head bumped against the ceiling. Then he was forced to crawl through a piano box that was filled with sawdust. He was pushed and pulled and hammered and thumped till he was sore in every part of his body.
All through this ordeal not a word or murmur escaped his lips. His teeth were set, and he felt that he had rather die than utter a sound that betrayed pain or agitation.
This seemed to infuriate his assailants. They banged him about till he could scarcely stand, and then, of a sudden, there was a great hush, while a terrible voice croaked:
"Bring forth the guillotine!"
There was a bustle, and then the bandage was stripped from Frank's eyes, he was tripped up, and a second later found himself lying helpless with his neck in the socket of a mock guillotine. Above him was suspended a huge gleaming knife that seemed to tremble, as if about to fall. At his side was a fellow dressed in the somber garments of an executioner.
It was really a severe strain upon his nerves, but still his teeth were clinched, and not a sound came from his lips.
"The knife is broken," whispered the mock executioner in Frank's ear, "so it may accidentally fall and cut you."
"Have you any last message, fresh?" hoarsely whispered the mock executioner. "There might be a fatal accident."
Frank made no reply save to wink tauntingly at the fellow.
The next instant, with a nerve-breaking swish, the shining blade fell!
A piece of ice was drawn across Frank's throat and a stream of warm water squirted down his back.
It was most horribly real and awful, and for a moment it seemed that the knife had actually done the frightful deed.
Despite his wonderful nerve, Frank gasped; but he quickly saw that the knife had swung aside and his head was still attached to his body.
Then he forced a derisive laugh from his lips, and seemed not the least disturbed, much to the disgust of the assembly.
"Confound him!" growled a voice, which Frank fancied he recognized as belonging to Browning. "There's no fun in him. Let's try another."
Then Frank was lifted to his feet and assisted to don his coat.
"If you want to stay and see the fun, put on a mask," directed Mephisto. "You must not be recognized by the other freshies."
He was given a mask and he put it on as directed.
A moment later the masked youths began to howl and blow horns. A door opened, and Diamond, blindfolded and bound, was led into the room.
The young Virginian stood up haughtily, and he was seen to strain and struggle in an effort to free his hands.
"I protest against this outrage!" he cried, angrily. "I want you to know that my father—"
The horns and the shouts drowned his words. He was forced to mount the steps to a high platform, and an instant later he found himself shooting down a slippery incline of planed and greased boards.
The racket stopped as Diamond scooted down the slippery surface. He dropped sprawling into the vat of icy water. Several hands caught hold of him, yanked him up, and thrust him down again.
"Oh, somebody shall suffer for this!" gurgled the helpless freshman, spluttering water from his mouth.
He was dragged out of the vat, and then he was forced to endure all the hustling, and thumping, and banging which Frank Merriwell had passed through. His protests seemed to fall on deaf ears.
It had been reported that Diamond had declared that the sophomores would not dare to haze him, as his father would make it hot for them if they did. The report was remembered, and he was used more severely than Frank had been.
Hazing at Yale was said to be a thing of the past, but Frank saw it was still carried on secretly.
"Make a speech, fresh!" shouted a voice.
"Speech! speech!" yelled the masked lads.
Diamond was placed on a low table.
For a moment he hesitated, and then he fancied he saw his opportunity to make a protest that would be heard.
"I will make a speech," he declared. "I'll tell you young ruffians what I think of you and what—"
Swish! a sponge that was dripping with dirty water struck him square in the mouth. Some of the water went down his throat, and he choked and strangled.
The table was jerked from beneath his feet, and he fell into the waiting arms of the masked sophomores.
"He called us ruffians! Give it to him!"
Then the unfortunate freshman was used worse than ever. He was tossed in a blanket, given a powerful shock of electricity, deafened by the horns, pounded with the stuffed clubs, and hustled till there was scarcely any breath left in his body.
Then the bandage was torn from Diamond's eyes and he was confronted by the guillotine, over which fresh red ink had been liberally spattered. The blade of the huge knife was dripping in a gory manner, and it really looked as if it had just completed a deadly piece of work.
Despite himself, the young Virginian shivered when his eyes rested on the apparently blood-stained blade.
"Be careful!" some one distinctly whispered. "We do not want to kill more than one freshman in a night."
Some one else spoke of the frightful manner in which the knife had cut Merriwell, and then, despite his feeble struggles, Diamond was placed upon the instrument of torture.
"The other fresh died game," muttered the executioner. "Of course we didn't mean to kill him, but the knife is out of order and it slipped by accident. We haven't time to fix it properly, but there are only about nine chances out of ten that it will fall again."
"Oh, you fellows shall pay for this!" feebly gasped Diamond.
Despite himself, although he knew how unlikely such a thing was, he could not help wondering if a terrible accident had really happened. If not, where was Merriwell. He looked around, but saw nothing of Frank, who was keeping in the background.
And then, when his nerves had been quite unstrung, the knife fell, the ice and warm water were applied, and Diamond could not choke back the cry of horror that forced itself from his lips.
A roar of laughter broke from the masked students.
When Diamond was lifted to his feet he was almost too weak to stand. He clinched his teeth, vowing over and over to himself that he would find a way to square accounts.
"If it takes me a year, I'll find out who the leaders in this affair are, and they shall suffer for it!" he thought.
"Give him a chance to see the others put through the mill," said Mephisto, and Diamond's hands were released.
The Virginian looked around, seeming irresolute for a moment. Not far away he saw a masked lad whose clothes were wet and bedaubed with dirt and sawdust.
In an instant Diamond sprang toward this person and snatched the mask from his face.
"It's Merriwell!" he triumphantly shouted, "and he has helped to haze me! His career at Yale will be suddenly cut short!"
There was a sudden hush. The students saw that Diamond was really revengeful, and his words seemed to indicate that he intended to report any one whose identity he discovered.
The Virginian was pale and he trembled with anger.
"You don't mean to say that you will blow, do you?" asked one.
"That's exactly what I do mean, sir!" came resolutely from the lips of the infuriated freshman. "I am a gentleman and the son of a gentleman, and I'll never stand it to be treated like a cur. Hazing is said to be no longer tolerated here, and an investigation is certain to follow my report of this affair."
A little fellow stepped out.
"You claim to be a gentleman," he said, distinctly, "but you will prove yourself a cad if you peach."
"I had rather be a cad than a ruffian, sir!"
"If you were a gentleman you would take your medicine like a gentleman. You'd never squeal."
"You fellows are the ones who are squealing now, for you see you have been imposing on the wrong man."
"Man!" shot back the little fellow, contemptuously. "There's not much man about a chap that blows when he is hazed a little."
"A little! a little! Is this what you call a little?"
"Oh, this is nothing. Think of what the poor freshies used to go through in the old days of Delta Kappa and Signa Epsilon. Why, sometimes a fellow would be roasted so his skin would smell like burned steak for a week."
"That was when he was burned at the stake," said a chap in the background, and there was a universal dismal groan.
"This is some of the Delta Kappa machinery here," the little fellow explained. "Sometimes some of the fellows come here to have a cold bot and hot lob. You freshies walked right in on us to-night, and we gave you a pleasant reception. Now, if you blow I'll guarantee you'll never become a soph. The fellows will do you, and do you dirty, before your first year is up."
"Such threats do not frighten me," haughtily flung back the lad from Virginia. "I know this was a put-up job, and Bruce Browning was in it. He got us to come here. Frank Merriwell knew something about it, or he'd never been so ready to come. And I know you, too, Tad Horner."
The little fellow fell back a step, and then, with a sudden angry impulse, he tore off his mask, showing a flushed, chubby, boyish face, from which a pair of great blue eyes flashed at Diamond.
"Well, I am Tad Horner!" he cried, "and I'm not ashamed of it! If you want to throw me down, go ahead. It will be a low, dirty trick, and will show the kind of big stuff you are!"
The masked lads were surprised, for Tad had never exhibited such spirit before. He had always seemed like a mild, shy, mother-boy sort of chap. He had been hazed and had cried; but he wouldn't beg and he never squealed. After that Browning had taken him under his wing, had fought his battles, and had stood by him through the freshman year. Anybody who was looking for trouble could find it by imposing on Horner; and Browning, for all of his laziness, could fight like a tiger when he was aroused.
Some of the students clapped their hands in approbation of Tad's plain words, and there was a general stir. One fellow proposed that everybody unmask, so that all would be on a level with Horner, but the little fellow quickly cried:
"Don't do it! You'd all be spotted, and the faculty would know who to investigate if anything should happen to Diamond. If I'm fired, I want you fellows to settle with him for me."
"We'll do it—we'll do it, Tad!" cried more than twenty voices.
Diamond showed his white, even teeth and laughed shortly.
"Perhaps you think that will scare me," he sneered. "If so, you will find I am not bluffed so easily."
"We are not trying to scare you," declared another of the masked students, "but you'll find we are in earnest if you blow."
"Well, you will find I am in earnest, and I do not care for you all."
The boys began to despair, for they saw that Diamond was determined and obstinate, and it would be no easy thing to induce him to abandon his intention of reporting the hazing. If he did so, Browning and Horner would find themselves in deep trouble, and others might become involved during the investigation. It was not probable that the consequences would be serious for Merriwell, who would be able to prove his innocence in the matter.
What could be done?
The boys fell to discussing the matter in little groups, and not a few expressed regret that Tad Horner had unmasked, as an alibi could have been arranged for him if he had not done so. Now he would be too proud to permit them to try anything of the sort, and he would tell the truth about his connection with the affair if the truth were demanded of him.
"We're in a bad box," said one fellow in one of the little groups. "Diamond is mad enough to do as he threatens."
"Sure," nodded another. "And that breaks up this joint. No more little lunches here—no more games of penny ante."
"It's a howling shame!" exploded a third. "It makes me feel grouchy."
"I move we strangle Diamond," suggested the first speaker.
"It seems that that is the only way to keep his tongue still," dolefully groaned a tall chap. "This is a big horse on us."
"That's what," sighed a boy with a face like a girl's. "The whole business puts me in a blue funk."
Then they stood and stared silently at each other through the eyeholes in their masks, and not one of them was able to propose anything practicable.
The rest of the assembled sophomores seemed in quite as bad a plight, and some of them were inclined to indulge in profanity, which, although it relieved their feelings for the moment, did not suggest any way out of the scrape.
At this point Merriwell spoke up, addressing Diamond.
"Look here, old man," he said in a friendly way, "you've only taken the same dose they gave me. It's nothing when you get used to it."
Diamond gave him a contemptuous look, but did not speak.
"Now, I don't propose to make a fuss about this little joke," Frank went on. "What's the use? I'm not half killed."
"Perhaps you think you can hoodwink me!" cried Diamond. "Well, you cannot! You were in the game all the time. That's why you were so ready to meet me in a duel—that's why you came here."
"I assure you on my word of honor that you are wrong."
"Your word of honor!"
"Yes, my word of honor," he calmly returned. "See—look at my clothes. You can tell that I have been through the mill."
"You may have had them fixed that way on purpose to fool me."
"Oh, you must know better than that! Be reasonable, Diamond."
The Virginian made a savage gesture.
"If you are so pleased to be made a laughingstock of it's nothing to me," he flashed. "Keep still if you want to. I'm going to tell all I know."
"That would make a very large book—full of nice clean, blank pages," said some one in the background.
Frank's manner suddenly changed.
"Look here, Diamond," he said, "you won't tell a thing."
The Southerner caught his breath and his eyes stared.
"Eh?" he muttered, surprised at the other's manner. "I won't?"
"Not on your life."
"Because it will mean expulsion for you as well as myself if you do."
Every one was listening. They gathered about the two freshmen, wondering not a little at Merriwell's words and manner.
"Expulsion for me?" slowly repeated Diamond. "How is that?"
"It's straight goods."
"Well, I will. We came here to fight a duel, didn't we?"
"You admit that?"
"I do, sir."
"That is all that's needed."
"How? Why? I don't understand."
"Duels are not countenanced in the North, and nothing would cause a fellow to be fired from Yale quicker than the knowledge that he had had anything to do with one while here. Do you twig?"
There was a moment of silence and then a stir. A deep sigh of relief came from the masked lads, and some of them showed an inclination to cheer Merriwell.
Diamond seemed nonplused for the moment. He glared at Frank, his hands clinched and his face pale.
At last he slowly said:
"A duel is something no gentleman can blow about, so if you are a gentleman you will have to remain silent, sir."
"That's the way you Southerners look at it, but yon will excuse us Northerners if we do not see it in the same light. A hazing is something we do not blow about, but you seem determined to let out everything, for all that it would be a dirty thing to do. In order to even the matter, these fellows are sure to tell that you came here to fight a duel with deadly weapons, and you'll find yourself rusticating in Virginia directly."
"'Way down in ole Virginny," softly warbled one of the delighted sophomores. "That's the stuff, Merry, old boy!"
Diamond trembled with intense anger. He tried to speak, but his voice was so hoarse that his words were unintelligible. A blue line seemed to form around his mouth.
"Merriwell's got him!" Bruce Brown lazily whispered in Tad Horner's ear. "See him squirm!"
Tad was relieved, although he endeavored not to show it; but a satisfied smile crept over his rosy face, and he felt like giving Frank Merriwell the "glad hand."
Diamond's anger got the best of him. He strode forward, looked straight into Frank's eyes, and panted:
"I hate you, sir! I could kill you!"
And then, before he realized what he was doing, he struck Merriwell a sharp blow on the cheek with his open hand.
The blow staggered Frank. It had come so suddenly that he was quite unprepared for it. His face became suddenly pale, save where Diamond's hand had struck, and there the crimson prints of four fingers came out quickly, like a danger signal.
With the utmost deliberation Merriwell removed his coat.
"Come, sir!" he said to Diamond as he passed coat and hat to a ready sophomore.
"I—I can't fight you that way!" protested the Virginian. "Bring the rapiers."
"This time I claim the right to name the weapons, and they will be bare fists."
"Right! right!" cried several voices. "You'll have to fight him that way, Diamond."
"I will fight him!" grated Jack, furiously. "It is the prize fighter's way, but I'll fight him, and I will lick him!"
He tore off his coat and flung it down. The boys quickly formed a ring, and the freshmen foes faced each other.
Then the door of the room where the other freshmen were confined was thrust open, and Harry Rattleton excitedly cried:
"Whee jiz—I mean jee whiz! what do you fellows think? Do you imagine we are going to stay penned in here while there is a scrap going on? Well, I guess not! We're coming out!"
Harry came with a rush, and the other freshmen followed at his heels, the party having been abandoned by the sophs who had been placed on guard over them.
"Hold on! hold on!" commanded Harry, forcing his way toward the fighters. "I am Merriwell's second, and I'm going to see fair play, you bet!"
"And I am Diamond's second," said Roland Ditson. "Just give me a chance in the ring there."
The appearance of the freshmen caused a brief delay. There was some talk about rules and rounds, and Diamond said:
"If I must fight with my fists, I'll fight as I please. I don't know about your rules, and there will be but one round—that will finish it."
"How does that suit you, Merriwell?" asked Tad Horner, who seemed to have assumed the position of referee.
"I am willing that Mr. Diamond should arrange that matter to suit himself."
"But there is to be no kicking," Tad Horner hastily put in.
"Certainly not," stiffly agreed the Southerner.
"All right. Shake hands."
Diamond placed both hands behind his back, and Merriwell laughed.
"Ready!" called Horner. "On guard! Now you're off!"
Barely had the words left the little referee's lips when—top, tap, slap!—Merriwell had struck Diamond three light blows with his open hand.
A gasp of astonishment came from the watching sophomores. Never had they seen three blows delivered in such lightning-like rapidity, but their ears had not fooled them, and they heard each blow distinctly.
Merriwell's guard was perfect, his pose was light and professional, and he suddenly seemed catlike on his feet.
Diamond was astonished, but only for an instant. The tapping blows started his blood, and he sprang toward his foe, striking out with his left and then with his right.
Merriwell did not attempt to guard, but he dodged both blows with ease, and then smiled sweetly into the face of the baffled Virginian.
"Oh, say!" chuckled Harry Rattleton, hugging himself in delighted anticipation, "just you fellows wait a minute! Diamond will think he has been struck by an earthquake!"
Bruce Browning, himself a scientific boxer, was watching every movement of the two freshmen. He turned to Puss Parker at his side and said:
"Merriwell handles himself like an old professional. By Jove! I believe there's good stuff in that fellow!"
"Diamond would like to kill Merriwell," said Parker. "You can see it in his face and eyes."
In truth there was a deadly look in the eyes of the pale-faced young Virginian. His lips were pressed together, and a hardening of the jaws told that his teeth were set. He was following Merriwell up, and the latter was avoiding him with ease. Plainly Diamond meant to corner the lad he hated and then force the fighting to a finish.
The rivals were nearly of a height and they wore built much alike, although Frank had slightly the better chest development.
Merriwell seemed to toy with Diamond, giving him several little pat-like blows on the breast and in the ribs. When the Virginian felt that he had Frank cornered he was astonished to see Merriwell slip under his arm and come up laughing behind him.
Merriwell's laughter filled Diamond's very soul with gall and wormwood.
"Wait!" he thought. "He laughs best who laughs last."
"Give it to him, Frank!" urged Rattleton. "You'll get out of wind dodging about, and then it will not be so easy to finish him off."
But Frank saw that in a scientific way Diamond was no match for him, and he disliked to strike the fellow. He regretted very much that the unfortunate affair had come about, and he felt that there could be no satisfaction in whipping the Southerner.
Merriwell hoped to toy with Diamond till the latter should see that his efforts were fruitless and give up in disgust.
But he did not yet recognize the kind of stuff of which John Diamond was built.
"Come! come!" impatiently called one of the spectators. "Quit ducking and dodging and get into the game."
"That's right! that's right!" chorused several. "This is no sport."
"And it's no six-day walking match," sneered Roland Ditson. "Merriwell seems afraid to stand up and face Diamond."
"Is that what you think?" Frank mentally exclaimed. "Well, I suppose I will have to hit him a few times, although it goes against my grain."
A moment later he dropped his hands by his side and took a step to meet the Virginian. It seemed like a great opportunity for Diamond, and he led off straight for Frank's face, striking with his left.
With a slight side movement of his head Frank avoided the blow, allowing his enemy's fist to pass over his shoulder. At the same time he cross countered with his right hand, cracking Jack a heavy one under the ear.
"Hooray!" cried Harry Rattleton in delight. "That was a corker! Bet Sparkler saw more stars than there are in the Wilky May—I mean Milky Way."
For a few minutes the fight was hot. Again and again Frank struck his enemy, but without putting his full strength into any of the blows, but it did not seem to have any effect on Diamond save to make him more fierce and determined.
"The Southerner's got some sand," commented Bruce Browning.
"That's right," nodded Puss Parker.
"He takes punishment well for a while, at least; but I don't believe he will hold out much longer. I think he is the kind of a fellow to go to pieces in an instant."
"You can't tell about that. I have a fancy that he's deceptive."
None of them, save Rattleton, possibly, knew that Merriwell was reserving any of his strength when he struck his foe.
The fellows who a short time before were the most indignant against the Southerner because he seemed determined to "blow" were now forced to admire his bulldog tenacity and sand.
Merriwell had no desire to severely injure Diamond, although he had felt some resentment toward the fellow for forcing him into a duel with rapiers.
To Frank it had seemed that the Virginian had no hesitation in taking advantage of an enemy, for Diamond must have presumed that Merriwell knew nothing of the art of fencing and swordplay.
But for this belief, Merriwell would have been inclined to keep on and tire his enemy out, without striking a single blow that could leave a mark.
But when Frank came to consider everything, he decided that it was no more than fair that he should give his persistent foe a certain amount of punishment.
Again and again Frank cross countered and upper-cut Diamond, and gradually he came to strike harder as the Virginian forced the fighting, without showing signs of letting up.
Bruises and swellings began to appear on Diamond's face. On one cheek Merriwell's knuckles cut through the skin, and the blood began to run, creeping down to his chin and dropping on the bosom of his white shirt.
Still, from the determination and fury with which he fought, it seemed that Diamond was utterly unconscious that he had been struck at all.
Jack did not consider how he had led Frank into a duel with rapiers without knowing whether the fellow he hated had ever taken a fencing lesson in all his life.
His one thought was that, being an expert boxer himself, Merriwell had forced him to a fist fight, believing it would be easy to dispose of him that way.
Diamond's hatred of Frank made him blind to the fact that he was in the least to blame, and filled him with a passionate belief that he could kill the smiling Northerner without a qualm of conscience—without a pang of remorse.
At last, disgusted with his non-success in striking Frank at all, he sprang forward suddenly and grappled with him.
Frank had been on the watch for that move.
Then the boys saw a pretty struggle for a moment, ending with Diamond being lifted and dropped heavily, squarely on his back.
Merriwell came down heavily on his persistent enemy.
Frank fell on Jack with the hope of knocking the wind out of the fellow and thus bringing the fight to a close.
For a few moments it seemed that he had succeeded.
Frank sprang up lightly, just as Tad Horner grappled him by the hair with both hands and yelled: "Break away!"
Roland Ditson was at Diamond's side in a twinkling.
"Come, come, old man!" he whispered; "get up and get into the game again! Don't let them count you out!"
But the Virginian was gasping for breath, and he did not seem to hear the words of his second.
"That settles it," said Puss Parker, promptly.
"Better wait and see," advised Bruce Browning. "Diamond may not give up when he gets his breath."
"It doesn't look as if he'd ever get his breath again."
Harry Rattleton was at Frank's side, swiftly saying:
"Why didn't you knock him out and show the fellows what you can do? You monkeyed with the goat too long. He's stuffy, and you had to settle him sometime. It didn't make a dit of bifference whether it was first or last."
"That's all right," smiled Frank. "He's got sand, and I hated to nail him hard. It seemed a shame to thump such a fellow and cover his face with decorations."
"Shame? shame?" spluttered Harry. "Why, didn't he force you into a duel with rapiers, or try to? and he is an expert! Say, what's the matter with you? If I'd been in your place I'd gone into him tooth and nail, and I wouldn't have left him in the shape of anything. Have you got a soft spot around you somewhere, Merriwell?"
"I admire sand, even if it is in an enemy."
"You take the cherry pie—yes, you take the whole bakery!"
Harry gazed at his roommate in wonder that was not entirely unmingled with pity and disgust. He could not understand Merriwell, and such generosity toward a persistent foe on the part of Frank seemed like weakness.
In the meantime Ditson had been urging Diamond to get up.
"They'll call the scrap finished if you don't get onto your pins in a jiffy," he warned. "Horner's got his watch in his hand."
Still the Virginian gasped for breath and seemed unable to lift a hand. If ever a fellow seemed done up, it was Diamond just then.
Roll Ditson ground his teeth in despair.
"Oh, Merriwell will think he is cock of the walk now!" he muttered. "He'll crow and strut! He's laughing over it now!"
"Wh-what's that?" gasped Diamond, trying to sit up.
"He is laughing at you," hurriedly whispered Ditson, lying glibly. "I just heard him tell Rattleton that he could have knocked the stuffing out of you in less than a quarter of a minute. He says you'll never dare face him again."
"Oh, he does! oh, he does!" came huskily from Diamond's lips. "Well, we'll see about that—we'll see!"
With Ditson's aid he got upon his feet. Then his breath and his strength seemed to come to him in a twinkling. With a backward snap of his arm he flung his second away. Then uttering a hoarse cry, he rushed like a mad bull at the lad he hated.
Diamond's recovery and the manner in which he resumed the fight caused general astonishment. Even Bruce Browning had come to think that the Virginian was "out."
Frank was taken by surprise. Before he could square away to meet his foe, Diamond struck him a terrific blow near the temple, knocking him into Rattleton's arms.
"Foul!" cried Harry, excitedly. "Horner hadn't given the word."
"Foul! foul!" came from all sides.
"There is no foul in this fight save when something is used besides fists," declared Merriwell as he staggered from his roommate's arms. "It's all right and it goes."
But he found that everything seemed swimming around him, and dark spots were pursuing each other before his eyes. The floor seemed to heave like the deck of a ship at sea. He put out his hand to grasp something, and then he was struck again.
Once more Rattleton's arms kept Frank from going down.
"This is no square deal!" Harry shouted. "By the poly hoker—I mean the holy poker! I'll take a hand in this myself!"
He would have released Merriwell and jumped into the ring, but Frank's strong fingers closed on his arm.
"Steady, old man!" came sharply from Merriwell's lips. "I am in this yet awhile. If Diamond finishes me he is to be let alone. The fellow that lays a hand on him is no friend of mine!"
"You give me cramps!" groaned Harry.
Instead of aiding in finishing Frank, Diamond's second blow seemed to straighten him up, as if it had cleared a fog from his brain. The spots disappeared before his eyes and things ceased to swim around him.
Into the ring to meet his foe sprang Frank, and, to the astonishment of everybody he still smiled.
At the same time, Merriwell knew he had toyed with Diamond too long. He realized that the Virginian's first blow had come within a hair of knocking him out, and he could still hear a faint, ringing and roaring in his head.
Frank saw that the only way he could end the fight was to finish his unrelenting and persistent foe.
Diamond fought like an infuriated tiger. Again and again Frank's fist cracked on his face, and still he did not falter, but continued to stand up and "take his medicine."
In less than a minute the Virginian was bleeding at the nose, and had received a blow in one of his eyes that was causing it to swell in a way that threatened to close it entirely.
The spectators were greatly excited, and not a few of them declared it was the most gamey fight they had ever witnessed.
The front of Diamond's shirt was stained with blood, and he presented a sorry aspect. His chest was heaving, but his uninjured eye glared with unabated fury and determination.
"Will he never give up?" muttered Harry Rattleton. "He's a regular hog! The fellow doesn't know when he has enough."
It was true Southern grit. It was the unyielding Southern spirit—the spirit that led the soldiers of the South to make one of the pluckiest struggles known in history.
While the fellow's grit had won Frank's admiration, still Merriwell had learned that it would not do to let up. The only way out of the fight was to end it, and he set about trying to accomplish that with as little delay as possible.
Once Diamond succeeded in getting in another blow, and it left a slight swelling over one of the other lad's eyes.
But Merriwell did not seem to know that he had been hit. He soon cracked the Virginian upon the uninjured eye, and that began to swell. In a few seconds it seemed that Diamond must soon go blind.
"Finish him, old man—finish him!" urged Harry.
Frank was looking for the chance, but it was some time before he found it. It came at last, and his left landed on the jaw beneath Diamond's ear.
Over went the Southerner, and he lay like a log where he fell.
At a glance, it was evident to all that he was knocked out.
The boys crowded around Merriwell, eager to congratulate him, but he thrust them back, saying:
"It's the first time in my life I ever did a thing of which I was ashamed! Look after him. I'm all right."
"Say!" exploded Harry Rattleton, "you make me sick! Didn't you have to do it?"
"I suppose so."
"Didn't he strike you foul twice?"
"He knows nothing of rules, and we were fighting by no rules, so there could be no foul."
"Oh, no! If he'd soaked you with a brick you'd said it was all right! I say, you make me sick! Wait till he gets a good chance to do you, and see how quick he will take it."
"He'll not be to blame if he tries to get square."
"Oh, go hoke your sed—I mean soak your head! I'll catch you some time when you are asleep and try to pound a little sense into you."
"Well, take care of Diamond," ordered Merriwell. "That last one I gave him was a beastly thump."
"Let the other fellows take care of him," said Harry. "We'll rub you down. You need it. Got any towels, Mr. Horner?"
"Guess we can find one or two," cheerfully answered Tad. "Come on, Merriwell. We'll fix you up."
Frank followed them into the room where the captured freshmen had been confined, and there they found running water, an old iron sink, a tin wash basin, and some towels.
The visitor was stripped and given a brisk and thorough rubbing and sponging by Harry and Tad.
Bruce Browning, with his mask still over his face, came loafing in and looked the stripped freshman over with a critical eye. He inspected Frank from all sides, poked him with his fingers, felt of his arms and legs, surveyed the muscles of his back and chest, and then stood off and took him all in at a glance.
"Humph!" he grunted.
Frank's delicate pink skin glowed, and he looked a perfect Apollo, with a splendid head poised upon a white, shapely neck. Never had he looked handsomer in all his life than he did at that moment, stripped to the buff, his brown hair frowsled, his body glowing from the rubbing.
"By Jove!" cried Tad Horner, who was sometimes called Baby, "he's a Jim Hickey—eh, old man?"
The interrogation was directed at Browning.
"Humph!" grunted Bruce, and then with his hands in his pockets he loafed out of the room.
Afterward it was reported that Browning said the freshman was the finest-put-up chap he had ever seen, but he didn't want to give him the swelled head by telling him so.
By the time Merriwell was well rubbed down one of the freshmen came in and reported that Diamond had come around all right.
"They're going to bring him in here and give him a rubbing," said the freshman.
Frank hastened to get into his clothes, in order that Diamond might have a chance. Rattleton had brushed the dirt and sawdust off those clothes, so they looked pretty well, and Merriwell showed no traces of what he had passed through when he stepped out of the little room.
Some of the boys were trying to induce Diamond to be rubbed down, but he objected, declaring he was going directly to his room. The blood had been washed from his face, and one or two cuts had been patched up with court-plaster, but his eyes were nearly closed, and he presented a pitiful appearance.
Frank hesitated a moment, and then he stepped up to his foe, saying in a manner most sincere:
"Old man, I am sorry this affair took place. I had the advantage, because I have taken boxing lessons, but you made a beautiful fight. I hold no hard feelings. Let's call it quits and shake."
He held out his hand.
Diamond's reply was to turn his back squarely on the proffered hand.
An additional flush arose to Merriwell's cheeks, and he dropped his hand by his side, turning away without another word.
A few moments later Diamond left the building, accompanied by a single companion, and that companion was not Roland Ditson.
Ditson remained behind, and he was among those who crowded about Frank Merriwell and offered congratulations.
"I was Diamond's second," said Roll, "but I am satisfied that the best man won. He is no match for you, Merriwell. I shouldn't have been his second, only he urged me to. I was glad to see you do him up."
He got hold of Frank's hand and held on, but received no friendly pressure in return. When he said he was glad that Merriwell did Diamond up Frank looked incredulous.
"As for me," said the victor, "I was sorry to have to do him up."
Somewhere about the place Rattleton had found an old floral decoration representing a harp. He brought it forward and presented it to Frank.
"Take it," he said. "You'll need it pretty soon. Your wings must be sprouting already!"
"What is it?" asked Frank.
"Why, can't you see? It's a harp."
"It looks to me like a blasted lyre," said Merriwell. "You'd better give it to Ditson."
Then everybody but Ditson laughed.
A FRESH COUNCIL.
Diamond was in a wretched condition. Hunk Collins, his roommate, procured two slices of fresh beefsteak, and the Virginian had them bound over his eyes, while his face was bathed with soothing and healing lotions; but nothing could soothe his bruised and battered spirit, and Collins said he was kept awake all night by hearing Diamond grind his teeth at irregular intervals.
Even when he slept near morning the Southerner continued to grind his strong white teeth.
Collins was dropping off to sleep from sheer weariness when he awoke to find his roommate astride him and clutching him by the throat.
"This time I'll fix you!" mumbled Diamond, thickly. "I'll kill you, Merriwell—I'll kill you!"
Then he struck feeby at Collins, who rolled over and flung him off. They grappled, and it was a severe struggle before Diamond was flung down on the bed and held.
"What in thunder is the matter with you?" gasped Collins, whose hair was standing. "I'm not Merriwell! Have you gone daft?"
"Where are we?"
"Why, in our room, of course. Where did you think we were?"
"I didn't know. I was dreaming."
"Well, if you are going to be this way often, I'll have to take out a life insurance policy or quit you."
"Don't mind. I'll be all right in the morning. Oh, hang the luck!"
Then the passionate Southerner turned over with his face toward the wall. Collins smoked a cigarette to quiet his nerves, after which he got into bed once more. At intervals he could feel the bed shake, and he knew Diamond was shivering as if he had a chill.
In the morning Diamond was not all right. He was ill in bed, and it was necessary to call a physician, although he protested against it. His eyes were in wretched shape, but when the doctor questioned him, he persisted in saying he had injured them by falling downstairs.
Of course he could not appear at chapel or recitations, and he sent in an excuse.
Then Mr. Lovejoy came around to investigate.
Now, Mr. Lovejoy was most mild and lamblike in appearance, and one would have thought never in all his life had he indulged in anything that was not perfectly proper.
But appearances were deceptive in the case of Mr. Lovejoy. When a student at Yale he had made a record, but he had been fortunate, and he was never detected in anything the faculty could not approve. By those who knew him he was regarded as a terror, and by the faculty he was looked on as one of the most quiet and docile students in college.
When Cyrus Lovejoy became an instructor he did not forget the days when he had been a leader in scrapes of all sorts, and he was not inclined to be prying into the affairs of students under him. Not only that, but he could be blind to some things he accidentally discovered.
So when Mr. Lovejoy reported that John Diamond's eyes, being naturally weak, were inflamed by too close application to his studies, especially in the evening, no one thought of investigating further. The doctor, it was said, had forbidden Diamond to attempt to study for several days, and had ordered him to wear a bandage over his eyes.
Two or three evenings after the fight a party of freshmen gathered in Merriwell's room, for they were beginning to realize that Frank was likely to be a leader among them.
"I say, fellows," cried Dan Dorman, who was sitting on the sill of the open window, with a cigarette clinging to his lips, "do you know what Diamond is doing?"
"He's doing his best to cure those beautiful eyes of his," said Bandy Robinson.
"I'm giving it to you straight that he was out to-day and went down to the nearest gun store," declared Dorman. "Collins says he bought a Winchester rifle, a shotgun, two revolvers, a bowie knife, a slungshot, and a set of brass knuckles."
"Wo-o-oh!" groaned Dismal Jones. "Why didn't he purchase a cannon and start for some battlefield?"
"Look out, Merry," laughed Ned Stover. "He's after your scalp."
"He'll have to get a bigger outfit than that before he takes it," declared Harry Rattleton.
"How about it, Merry?" asked Bandy Robinson.
"I'll tell you, fellows," said Frank, who was not smoking. "Diamond is not the fellow to give up whipped very soon. I'm dead sure to hear from him again."
"He's a cad," growled Dismal Jones.
"I think you fellows judge him rather harshly," said Frank. "He is a Southerner, and he looks at many things differently than we do. From his standpoint he seems to be right."
"Well, he'll have to get those notions out of his head if he wants to stay in college," airily declared Dan Dorman. "Now, I came here with the idea of falling into the ways in vogue. Everything goes with me. That's the way to get along."
"I am not so sure of that," Merriwell returned. "A man must have some individuality. If you do everything everybody wants you to, it won't be long before they'll not want you to do anything."
"Oh, well, what's the use to be always hanging off and getting yourself disliked?"
"One extreme is as bad as the other. Now, I make allowances for Diamond, and I am not inclined to believe him such a bad fellow."
Harry Rattleton flung a book across the room.
"Oh, you give me the flubdubs!" he exploded. "Why, that fellow hates you, and he means to do you some time. Still you are soft enough to say he's not such a bad fellow! It's disgusting!"
"Time will tell," smiled Frank. "All of you fellows must admit that he has sand."
"Oh, a kind of bulldog stick-to-it-iveness," murmured Stover.
"I'll tell you one thing," said Bandy Robinson; "now that Diamond has not blowed, he's going to be backed by some of the leading sophs."
"Eh? What makes you think so?"
"Oh, I've got it straight. Browning has been to see him."
"No! Why, Browning is king of the sophs!"
"And he is jealous of Merriwell."
"Sure. He says Merry is altogether too 'soon' for a fresh, and he must be taken down. I tell you I've got it straight. He'll put up some kind of a game to enable Diamond to get square."
"Well, this is rather interesting," confessed Frank, showing that he was aroused. "I'll have to look out for Mr. Browning."
"He's a hard fellow to go against," solemnly said Dismal Jones. "He's a Le Boule man, and they say he may take his choice of the other big societies next year."
"Oh, what's that amount to?"
"It amounts to something here; but then he's a fighter, and he is authority on fighters and fighting."
"He is too fat to fight."
"They say he can train down in a week. He was the greatest freshman half-back ever known at Yale."
"Half-back—Browning a half-back! Oh, say, that fellow couldn't play football!"
"Not a great deal now, perhaps, but he could last year. He'd be on the regular team now, but his father swore to take him out of college if he didn't stop it. You see, Browning is not entirely to blame for his laziness. He inherits it from his father, and the old man will not allow him to lead in athletics, so whatever he does must be done secretly."
Frank was interested. He wondered how a fellow like Bruce Browning could come to be know as "king of the sophomores," unless such a title was applied to him in derision. Now he began to understand that Browning was something more than the lazy mischief planner that he had seemed.
Frank's interest in Browning grew.
"And you say he is backing Diamond?"
"That's the way it looks from the road."
"Well, Mr. Bruce Browning may need some attention. It is he who puts the sophs up to their jobs on us. We ought to put up a big one on him."
"That's right! that's right!"
"Merry," said Jones, "set the complicated machinery of your fertile brain to work and see what it will bring forth."
"That's right! that's right!"
"I'll have to take time to think it over."
"We have a few soph scalps," grinned Rattleton, pointing to a number of caps with which the walls were decorated, all of which had been snatched from the heads of sophomores. "Have the rest of you fellows done as well?"
"I have lost two," confessed Dan Dorman. "They seem to single me out as easy fruit."
"And haven't you made an attempt to get one in return?" asked Bandy Robinson.
"I haven't had a good chance."
"If you wait for a good chance you'll never get a scalp. You must snatch 'em whenever you can."
"By Jove!" laughed Frank, "this talk about scalps has given me an idea."
"Let's have it!" exclaimed several of the boys in unison.
"Not now," he said. "Wait till I have perfected it."
Roll Ditson strolled in, smoking a cigarette, and said:
"Hello, Merry! Hello, fellows! What's up? Council of war?"
"Just that," said Dan Dorman. "Merry is perfecting a scheme to put a horse on Browning."
"Eh? Browning? Great Scott! Is that so? He's a bad man to monkey with. Better let him alone, Merry."
Ditson had a patronizing way that was offensive to Frank, who had given him numberless digs; but he was too thick to tumble or he deliberately refused to take Merriwell's words as they were intended.
"You'll have to kick him before he knows he's not wanted," Rattleton had said.
"Thank you for your advice," said Frank, with mild sarcasm—"thank you exceedingly! Perhaps you are right."
"Oh, I know I am. I don't want to get the king after me, and I don't believe you care to have him on your trail. He is the most influential soph in college. Why, his name is on a table down at Morey's."
Ditson looked around as if his last statement had settled the question of Browning's vast superiority over all sophomores.
Morey's was the favorite resort of the students, and no freshman could enter there. It was an old frame house, with low-posted rooms, and there one could drink everything except beer. No beer could be had at Morey's.
Morey's was headquarters for the Society of the Cup. This cup had six handles and was kept in a locked closet. On the cup was engraved in large letters the word "Velvet," which is a well-known Yale drink, composed of champagne and Dublin stout, a drink that is mild and soft, but has a terrific "kick."
Besides the word "Velvet," a number of students' names were engraved on the cup, and no one whose name was not there could ask the proprietor to show the cup.
The marked tables were two round tables on which names of the frequenters of the place had been cut in the hard wood. One table had been filled with six hundred and seventy-five names and was suspended against the wall, where it would revolve, and the other tables were fast filling up.
Merriwell laughed at Ditson's statement.
"I don't see as it is such a wonderful thing for a soph to get his name on one of those tables," he said. "If you had said that Browning's name was on the cup, it would have seemed a matter of some consequence."
"It may be, for all I know. Sophs are not in the habit of telling us everything. Steer clear of Browning, Merry, old man."
"Thanks again! You have made me so nervous that I think I will take your advice."
"That's right, my boy—that's right," nodded Ditson, swelling with importance. "Always listen to your uncle, my lad, and you will never go wrong."
The other lads seemed rather disappointed, but Merriwell said nothing more of his scheme to get a "horse" on Browning—that is, he said nothing more that night.
It was singular how quickly Browning learned that Merriwell had contemplated working a job on him. It seemed an absolute certainty that some one of the party in Merriwell's room had gone forth and "blowed." Who had done so was a question.
As was the most natural thing, considering his dislike for the fellow, Frank felt that Roll Ditson was the telltale. Of this he had no proof, however, and he was too just to openly condemn a man without proof.
It was certain that Browning had learned all about it, for he sent word to Merriwell to go slow. At the same time, in all public places he avowed the utmost contempt and disregard for the freshman who had done up Diamond.
"The boy is altogether too new," Browning sneered. "What he needs is polishing off, and he is bound to get it."
Now, Frank had won admiration from the sophomores, and there were one or two who did not like Browning and would have given not a little to have seen him beaten at anything.
This being the case, it is not surprising that Merriwell received an anonymous note warning him to keep in his room on a certain evening and look out for squalls.
Frank knew Browning would not come alone, and he determined to be prepared. With this object in view, he gathered ten stout freshmen and had them come to his room early on the evening mentioned.
The curtains were drawn closely, and the arrivals were astonished to see a lot of Indian toggery piled up on tables and chairs, imitation buckskin suits, feathered headdresses, bows, arrows, tomahawks, and so forth. On Merriwell's table was a full supply of Indian red grease paint.
"Oh, say," gasped Ned Stover, his eyes bulging, "what's this—a powwow outfit?"
"This is the result of the idea you fellows gave me when you spoke of capturing scalps the other evening," laughed Frank. "Select your suits, gentlemen, and proceed to make up."
"Make up? What for?"
"Just you make up, and I will tell you what for afterward."
Merriwell's influence was sufficient to induce them to obey, and he aided them in the work.
"Blate grazes—I mean great blazes!" chuckled Rattleton, as he rubbed the war paint on his face. "Won't we make a bloodthirsty gang of roble ned men—er, noble red men!"
The boys aided each other, and Frank assisted them all.
"Aren't you going to make up, Merry?" asked Bandy Robinson.
"Not now. I am to be the decoy."
"The decoy? What's in the wind, anyway?"
"Well, I have it pretty straight that some sophs, led by Browning, are coming to take me out for an airing to-night."
"Eh? Take you out?"
"And he means to take them in," laughed Rattleton, arranging a war bonnet on his head.
"That's just it," nodded Frank. "If they come here, we'll be ready for them. If they do not come, we'll call on Mr. Browning."
"I'm afraid this is rather a serious matter," said Dismal Jones.
"Oh, don't begin to croak!" cried Rattleton. "Merriwell knows his business. Hurry up with your makeup. Can't tell how early the sophs will call."
So the boys hastened to complete their disguise, and a decidedly savage-looking band they were when all was completed. Frank surveyed them with satisfaction.
"Ah! my bold warriors!" he cried. "I am proud of you. To-night—to-night we deal the enemy a terrible and deadly blow."
"We're ready to hear what the layout is," eagerly said Ned Stover.
"Well, you are to retire to Robinson's room, which is exactly opposite this, and wait. I have two fellows outside to let me know when the enemy approaches and to take a hand in the game at the right time. When I whistle you are to make your way into this room if you have to break down the door. That's all."
The boys retired to Robinson's room, where they smoked and waited with great impatience.
Frank sat down and coolly went at his studies.
Nearly an hour passed, and then there was a sound of wheels outside. The sound stopped before the door.
A few moments later some one ascended the stairs and there came a knock on the door.
"Come in," called Frank.
The door opened, and Roll Ditson sauntered in, smoking the inevitable cigarette.
"Hello, Merry!" he cried, looking around. "All alone?"
"All alone, Ditson," yawned Frank. "It's beastly stupid but I am having a hard pull at my studies."
"Better come out with me and get a little air. It's stuffy here."
"Oh, you'll have to excuse me to-night. I don't believe I'll go out."
Ditson urged, but Frank persisted in refusing. Roll stopped near a table and picked up a stick of grease paint.
"Hello! what's this?" he exclaimed. "Aren't going into amateur theatricals, are you, Merry?"
"Oh, I don't know," smiled Frank. "I may do a turn."
Ditson looked at Merriwell curiously, as if in doubt concerning his sincerity, but Frank simply continued to smile.
"Indian red," said Roll, reading the lettering on the stick. "You don't mean to become a big chief, do you?"
"Well, you are pretty sure to become a big chief here at Yale, old man," said Ditson, with apparent earnestness. "You will be a leader here some day."
"Oh, I am dead sure of it."
Merriwell yawned again.
"Oh, come on!" Ditson urged. "You're stupid from digging over those books. Come out and have a walk."
"You'll have to excuse me to-night, Ditson."
"All right. But say, I came near forgetting something. As I came in, there was a fellow down to the door who said he wanted to see you."
"A fellow? Who was it?"
"Don't know. Some of the students, I think."
"Oh, if that is the case, go down and bring him up, Ditson. You can open the door and let him in without disturbing Mrs. Harrington."
"All right," nodded Roll. "Sorry you won't come out, old fel. You'll get grouchy. Good-night."
Ditson went out, and Frank heard him descending the stairs.
"There'll be music in the air," muttered Merriwell as he again lay back in his chair, elevating his feet to the top of the table. "But the surprisers are liable to be surprised."
He heard the front door creak. Often he wondered why Mrs. Harrington did not grease the hinges.
Frank had good ears, and it was not long before he was sure he could hear rustlings and whisperings in the hall. Then one person seemed to ascend the stairs very slowly, but he made out that there were two or three others with that one, the others stepping as softly as possible.
Merriwell remained cool and apparently quite unaware that anything unusual was taking place.
The footsteps reached the head of the stairs and advanced to the door, on which there was a distinct knock.
"Come in!" Frank once more called.
The door was promptly flung open, and into the room strode a person who was wrapped in a big overcoat and wore a wide-brimmed hat slouched over his eyes. His face nearly to his eyes was covered with bushy whiskers.
"Hello!" exclaimed Frank, as if surprised. "Who are you?"
"'Sh!" hissed the stranger, with a warning gesture. "Are we alone?"
"Where is your roommate?"
The fellow whistled sharply, and the next minute four masked lads appeared at the door and leaped into the room. One of them slammed the door shut and the others sprang at Frank.
Merriwell flung a book at the first one, and it struck the fellow's mask, tearing it from his face.
The well-known countenance of Bruce Browning was exposed!
"Good-evening, Browning!" cheerfully called the lively freshman as he darted behind the table. "I have been expecting a call from you."
"Grab him!" directed Browning. "Get hold of him!"
Frank was on the point of uttering a whistle, but it was not required, for the whistle that came from the lips of the disguised fellow had served as a signal to the painted braves.
There was a bang at the door, which flew open as if assaulted by a catapault, and into the room poured the disguised freshmen.
The Indians leaped upon the masked sophomores, and for a short time a very sharp struggle took place.
Bruce Browning did his best to escape from the room, but three of the savages laid hold of him, and he was finally subdued.
"Out of the house with them as soon as possible," ordered Frank. "Come on, two or three of you. We must nail the hack and the fellows outside."
Down to the door he led the way.
Mrs. Harrington came out into the hall, caught a glimpse of the painted faces, uttered a wild shriek of terror, and dodged back, slamming the door.
"All ready?" said Frank as he prepared to fling open the front door.
"All ready!" panted Harry Rattleton, close behind him.
"Don't let anybody get away," warned Merriwell. "I will look after the driver."
Creak! open swung the door, and out into the night leaped a youth who seemed to be hotly pursued by four painted and bloodthirsty-appearing redskins.
The hack was standing exactly as Frank expected it would be, and he was on the box with the driver at two springs.
"It's all right," he asserted. "We've got the fellow up there, though he did kick up some. A part of our gang was rigged up like Indians, and they nipped him all right."
"It's the divil's own set ye shtudints are!" muttered the driver. "Av ye hurry, Oi'll sthay to take him away; but Oi'll not remain here long, fer it's th' cops will be down on us roight away."
"We'll get away ahead of the cops, don't fear that," declared Frank. "They're bringing him downstairs now. We had to take two or three others with him; but well not bother with them long."
"Arrah! th' poor freshman!" said the driver. "Oi'd not loike to be in his place this noight!"
He was completely fooled, thinking all the time that Frank was one of the party he had brought there to capture the freshman.
As they rushed out Frank had seen a fellow standing near the open door of the hack, and that fellow had promptly taken to flight at sight of the Indians, two of whom pursued him hotly.
Frank hoped they would be able to overtake the fugitive, for if one of the party escaped he would report to the sophs, who were bound to make a big hustle to rescue their captured comrades.
The disguised freshmen came downstairs, bearing their captives, who were swiftly thrust into the hack, which was a big, roomy, old-fashioned affair.
As many of the freshmen as could do so piled inside and upon the hack, and then Frank gave the signal, the driver whipped up his horse and away they went.
"East Rock," said Frank.
"Eh?" exclaimed the driver. "Thot's not pwhere ye wur goin' in th' firrust place."
"We have changed the programme. East Rock is where we are bound for now."
"All roight, me b'y."
The triumphant freshmen felt like shouting and singing in jubilant mood. Indeed, Rattleton could not refrain from "letting off steam," as he called it, and he gave one wild howl of triumph that made the streets echo:
"Break it off!" sharply commanded Frank. "Want to let the sophs know we're up to something?"
"I don't care."
"They might raise a rescue party and follow us."
"But they wouldn't frop any chost—I mean chop any frost with us."
"Pwhat's thot?" came suspiciously from the driver. "An' is it not softmores ye are yersilves?"
"Of course we are," returned Harry, instantly.
"Thin pwhat fer do ye yell fer 'Umpty-eight?"
"Oh, it's a way we have. Don't mind it, but keep on driving if you want to retain your scalp, paleface. We are mighty bad Injuns!"
The driver knew how to pick out the darkest and most deserted streets. By the time the outskirts of the city were reached the freshmen were bubbling over.
Frank Merriwell improvised a stanza of a song, and in a few moments the entire band caught the words and the tune. As the hack rolled along toward East Rock the freshmen sang:
"We belong to good old 'Umpty-eight, For she's a corker, sure as fate, sure as fate. We have met the sophomores, And they're feeling awful sore; So hurrah for good old 'Umpty-eight! 'Umpty-eight!"
"Begobs! ye're th' quarest gang av softmores Oi iver saw!" cried the driver. "An' it's not wan av yez Oi remimber takin' up to th' freshman's boording house."
"We have changed," explained Ned Stover.
"And it's the first change I have seen for a week," declared Harry Rattleton. "I'm waiting to hear from the governor."
"Howld on," said the driver. "Oi want to see the mon thot hired me."
He threatened to pull up, but Frank caught the whip and cracked it over the horses.
"What do you want?" asked Merriwell.
"Oi want me pay."
Now, Frank knew well enough that the driver had received his pay in advance, but he was beginning to suspect that the party that hired him had come to grief, and so he was for exacting an extra payment from the victors.
"Look here, driver," said Frank, sternly, "I want your number."
"In case it may appear later on that you have received money at two separate and distinct times for doing the same piece of work."
"Get oop!" yelled the driver. "It's ownly foolin' Oi wur."
So the hack rolled on its way, with the happy freshmen smoking and singing, while the captive sophs ground their teeth and railed at the bitter luck.
Inside the hack Dismal Jones, most hideously bedaubed, was smoking a cigarette and brandishing a wooden tomahawk at the same time, while he sat astride of Bruce Browning, who was on the floor.
"This is a sad and solemn occasion, paleface," croaked Dismal. "You have driven the noble red man from his ancestral halls, which were the dim aisles of the mighty forests; you have pushed him across the plains, and you have tried to crowd him off the earth into the Pacific Ocean. Ugh! You have pursued him with deadly firearms and still more deadly fire water. You have been relentless in your hatred and your greed. You have even been so unreasonable that whenever a poor red man has secured a few paleface scalps as trophies to hang in his wigwam you have taken your trusty rifles and gone forth with great fury and shot the poor Indian full of hard bullets. You have done heap many things that you would not have done if you had not done so. But now, poor, shivering dog of a paleface, the injured red man has arisen at last in his might. If we are to perish, we are to perish; but before we perish, we will enjoy the gentle pleasure of roasting a few white men at the stake. Ugh! We have held a council of war, we have excavated the hatchet, we have smashed the pipe of peace to flinders, or something of the sort, and have struck out upon the war trail."
"You act as if you had struck out," growled one of the captives.
"That's because he has had a few balls," gurgled Browning. "Talk about being burned at the stake! That's not torture after being obliged to inhale his breath. My kingdom for some chloroform! Will somebody please hit me on the head with a trip hammer and put me out of my misery?"
"Whither art thou bearing us, great chief?" asked one of the captives.
"We will bare you out yonder," answered Dismal. "At the stake you shall stand arrayed in the garments nature provided for you."
"I don't care for tea," murmured Browning—"not even for repartee."
"This is worse than being roasted at the stake!" muttered a soph in a corner. "It is severe punishment."
"Help!" cried Dismal. "Somebody take me out! I can't get ahead of these miserable palefaces."
"You'll get a head if I ever find a good chance to give it to you," declared the voice of Puss Parker from the darkness.
Outside the painted savages were roaring:
"Farewell! farewell! farewell, my fairy fay! Oh, I'm off to Louisiana For to see my Susy Anna, Singing 'Polly-wolly-woodle' all the day."
And thus the captured sophomores were borne in triumph out to East Rock, and as they were the ones who engaged the hack, they paid for their own conveyance.
Never before had anything like it happened at Yale. It was an event that was bound to go down in history as the most audacious and daring piece of work ever successfully carried through by freshmen in that college.
And Frank Merriwell was to receive the credit of being the originator of the scheme and the general who carried it out successfully.
THE "ROAST" AT EAST ROCK.
A strange and remarkable scene was being enacted in the peaceable and civilized State of Connecticut—a scene which must have startled an accidental observer and caused him to fancy for a moment the hand of time had turned back two centuries.
Near a bright fire that was burning on the ground squatted a band of hideously-painted fellows who seemed to be redskins, while close at hand, bound and helpless, were a number of palefaces, plainly the captives of the savages.
That a council of war was taking place seemed apparent. And still the savages seemed waiting for something.
At length, out of the darkness advanced a tall, well-built warrior, the trailing plumes of whose war bonnet reached quite to the ground. If anything, this fellow was more hideously painted than any of the others, and there was an air of distinction about him that proclaimed him a great chief.
"Ugh!" he grunted. "I am here."
The savages arose, and one of them said:
"Fellow warriors, the mighty chief Fale-in-his-Hoce—I mean Hole-in-his-Face—has arrived."
Then a wild yell of greeting went up to the twinkling stars, and every savage brandished a tomahawk, scalping knife, or some other kind of weapon.
"Brothers," said Hole-in-his-Face, "I see that I am welcome in your midst, as any up-to-date country newspaper reporter would say. You have received me with great eclat—excuse my French; I was educated abroad—in New Jersey."
"Go back to Princeton!" cried one of the captives.
"Fellow warriors," continued Hole-in-his-Face, without noticing the interruption, "I am heap much proud to be with you on this momentous occasion."
"Yah! yah! yah!" yelled the savages.
"And now," the chief went on, "if you will proceed to squat on your haunches I will orate a trifle."
Once more the redskins sat down on the ground, and then the late arrival struck an attitude and began his oration:
"Warriors of my people, why are we assembled together to-night?"
"Because we couldn't assemble apart," murmured a voice.
"We are assembled to avenge our wrongs upon the hated paleface," the chief declared. "It was long ago that the proud and haughty paleface got the bulge on the red man, and we have not been in the game to any great extent since then. Every time we have held two pairs he has come in with one pair of sixes or a Winchester and raked the pot. He has not given us any kind of a show for our white alley. Whenever we seemed to be getting along fairly well and doing a little something, he has wrung in a cold deck on us and then shot us full of air holes, purely for the purpose of ventilation in case we objected. Warriors, we have grown tired of being soaked in the neck."
"That's right," nodded a savage, "unless we are soaked in the neck with fire water."
"At last," shouted the orator—"at last we have arisen in our wrath and our war paint and we are out for scalps. We have decided that the joy of the red man is fleeting. To-night a flush mantles your dark cheeks, but to-morrow it will be a bobtail flush. What have we to live for but vengeance on the white man and a little booze now and then? Nothing! Our squaws once were beautiful as the wild flowers of the prairie, but now the prize beauty of our tribe is Malt Extract Maria, whose nose is out of joint, whose eyes are skewed, whose teeth are covered with fine-cut tobacco, and who lost one of her ears last week by accidentally getting it into the mouth of her husband.
"My brothers, we are not built to weep. It is not the way of the noble red man. A few more summers and we will be no more. We will have kicked the stuffing out of the bucket and wended our way up the golden stair. But before we cough up the ghost it behooves us to strike one last blow at the hated paleface. When we get a chance at a paleface it is our duty to do him, and do him bad. Are you on?
"We have been successful in capturing a few of our hated foes, and they are bound and helpless near at hand. Shall they be fricasseed, broiled, fried, or made into a potpie? That is the question before the meeting, and I am ready to listen to others. Let us hear from Squint-eyed Sausageface."
"It doesn't make a dit of bifference—I mean a bit of difference to me how I have my paleface cooked," said the one indicated as Squint-eyed Sausageface. "Perhaps it would be well enough to cook them at the stake."
"I think that would be the proper mode," gravely declared another warrior; "for I have heard that they boast they are hot stuff. They should not boast in vain."
"Warriors," said Hole-in-his-Face, "you have heard. What have you to say?"
"So mote it be," came solemnly from one.
"Yah! yah! yah!" yelled the others.
"That settles it, as the sugar remarked to the egg dropped into the coffee. Prepare the torture stakes."
There was a great bustle, and in a short time the stakes were prepared and driven into the ground, one of the savages hammering them down with a huge stick of wood.
Then the captives were bound to the stakes and a lot of brush was brought and piled about their feet.
Some of the sophs actually looked scared, but Browning kept up a continual fire of sarcastic remarks.
"Ugh!" grunted Hole-in-his-Face. "This paleface talks heap much. Remove his outer garments, so the fire may reach his flesh without delay."
Then Browning was held and his clothes were stripped off till he stood in his under garments, barefooted, bareheaded, and still defiant.
"Oh, say!" he muttered, "won't there be an awful hour of reckoning! Merriwell will regret the day he came to Yale!"
At this Hole-in-his-Face laughed heartily, and Browning cried:
"Oh, I know you, Merriwell! You can't fool me, though you have got the best makeup of them all."
When everything was ready, one of the savages actually touched a match to the various piles of brush about the feet of the unfortunate sophomores.