The Dozen from Lakerim
by Rupert Hughes
1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse



Author of "The Lakerim Athletic Club"





About half of this book was published serially in "St. Nicholas." The rest of it is here printed for the first time. If in this story of life at a preparatory school I have neglected to say very much about books and studies, and have stuck to far less interesting matters, such as the games and gambols that while away the dull hours between classes, I hope my readers will graciously forgive the omission.















Some people think it great fun to build a house of cards slowly and anxiously, and then knock it to pieces with one little snip of the finger. Or to fix up a snow man in fine style and watch a sudden thaw melt him out of sight. Or to write a name carefully, like a copy-book, and with many curlicues, in the wet sand, and then scamper off and let the first high wave smooth it away as a boy's sponge wipes from his slate some such marvelous statement as, 12 x 12 = 120, or 384 / 16 gives a "koshunt" of 25. When such things are erased it doesn't much matter; but there are occasions when it hurts to have Father Time come along and blot out the work you have taken great pains with and have put your heart into. Twelve young gentlemen in the town of Lakerim were feeling decidedly blue over just such an occasion.

You may not find the town of Lakerim on the map in your geography. And yet it was very well known to the people that lived in it. And the Lakerim Athletic Club was very well known to those same people. And the Lakerim Athletic Club, or, at least the twelve founders of the club, were as blue as the June sky, because it seemed to them that Father Time—old Granddaddy Longlegs that he is—was playing a mean trick on them.

For hadn't they given all their brain and muscle to building up an athletic club that should be a credit to the town and a terror to outsiders! And hadn't they given up every free hour for two years to working like Trojans? though, for that matter, who ever heard of any work the Trojans ever did that amounted to anything—except the spending of ten years in getting themselves badly defeated by a big wooden hobby-horse?

But while all of the Dozen were deep in the dumps, and had their brows tied up like a neglected fish-line, the loudest complaint was made, of course, by the one who had done the least work in building up the club—a lazybones who had been born tired, and had spent most of his young life in industriously earning for himself the name of "Sleepy."

"It's a dad-ratted shame," growled he, "for you fellows to go and leave the club in the lurch this way, after all the trouble we have had organizing it."

"Yes," assented another, who was called "B.J." because he had jumped from a high bridge once too often, and who read wild Western romances more than was good for his peace of mind or his conversation; "it kind of looks as if you fellows were renegades to the cause."

None of the Twelve knew exactly what a renegade was, but it sounded unpleasant, and the men to whom the term was applied lost their tempers, and volunteered to clean out the club-room where they all sat for two cents.

But the offenders either thought they could have more fun for less money, or hadn't the money, for they changed their tune, and the debate went on in a more peaceful manner.

The trouble was this: Some of you who are up on the important works of history may have heard how these twelve youth of the High School at Lakerim organized themselves into an athletic club that won many victories, and how they begged, borrowed, and earned enough money to build themselves a club-house after a year of hard work and harder play.

Well, now, after they had gone to all this trouble and all this expense, and had enjoyed the fruits of their labors barely a year, lo and behold, one third of the Dozen were planning to desert the club, leave the town, and take their good muscles to another town, where there was an academy! The worst of it was that this academy was the very one that had worked hardest to keep the Lakerim Athletic Club from being admitted into the league known as the Tri-State Interscholastic.

And now that the Lakerim Club had forced its way into the League, and had won the pennant the very first year, it seemed hard that some of the most valuable of the Lakerimmers should even consider joining forces with a rival. The president of the club himself was one of the deserters; and the rest of the Dozen grew very bitter, and the arguments often reached a point where it needed only one word more to bring on a scrimmage—a scrimmage that would make a lively football game seem tame by comparison.

And now the president, or "Tug," as he was always called, had been baited long enough. He rose to his feet and proceeded to deliver an oration with all the fervor of a Fourth-of-July orator making the eagle scream.

"I want you fellows to understand once for all," he cried, "that no one loves the Lakerim Athletic Club more than I do, or is more patriotic toward it. But now that I have graduated from the High School, I can't consider that I know everything that is to be known. There are one or two things to learn yet, and I intend to go to a preparatory school, and then through college; and the best thing you follows can do is to make your plans to do the same thing. Well, now, seeing that my mind is made up to go to college, and seeing that I've got to go to some preparatory school, and seeing there is no preparatory school in Lakerim, and seeing that I have therefore got to go to some other town, and seeing that at Kingston there is a fine preparatory school, and seeing that I want to have some sort of a show in athletics, and seeing that the Athletic Association of the Kingston Academy has been kind enough to specially invite three of us fellows to go there—why, seeing all this, I don't see that there is any kick coming to you fellows if we three fellows take advantage of our opportunities like sensible people; and the best advice I can give you is to make up your minds, and make up your fathers' and mothers' minds, to come along to Kingston Academy with us. Then there won't be any talk about our being traitors to the Dozen, for we'll just pick the Dozen up bodily and carry it over to Kingston! The new members we've elected can take care of the club and the club-house."

Tug sat down amid a silence that was more complimentary than the wildest applause; for he had done what few orators do: he had set his audience to thinking. Only one of the Twelve had a remark to make for some time, and that was a small-framed, big-spectacled gnome called "History." He leaned over and said to his elbow-companion, "Bobbles":

"Tug is a regular Demoskenes!"

"Who's Demoskenes?" whispered Bobbles.

"Why, don't you remember him?" said History, proudly. "He was the fellow that used to fill his mouth full of pebbles before he talked."

"I'll bet he would have choked on some of your big words, though, History," growled a little fellow called "Jumbo."

But the man at his side, known to fame as "Punk," broke in with a crushing:

"Aw, let up on that old Dutchman of a Demoskenes, and let's talk business."

So they all got their heads together again and discussed their affairs with the solemnity due to their importance. They talked till the janitor went round lighting up the club-house, which reminded them that they were keeping dinner waiting at their various homes. Then they strolled along home. They met again and again; for the fate of the club was a serious matter to them, and the fate of the Dozen was a still more serious matter, because the Dozen had existed before the club or the club-house, and their hearts ached at the mere thought of breaking up the old and dear associations that had grown up around their partnership in many an hour of victory and defeat.

But where there are many souls there are many minds, and it seemed impossible to keep the Twelve together for another year. It was settled that Tug and Jumbo and Punk should accept the flattering invitation of the Kingston Athletic Association, and their parents were glad enough to have them go, seeing that Kingston was an academy of excellent standing.

History was also to be there, for his learning had won him a free scholarship in a competitive examination. B.J., "Quiz," and Bobbles were to be sent to other academies—to Charleston, to Troy, and to Greenville; but they made life miserable for their fathers and mothers with their pleadings, until they, too, were permitted to join their fellows at Kingston.

Sleepy was the only one that did not want to go, and he insisted that he had learned all that was necessary for his purpose in life; that he simply could not endure the thought of laboring over books any longer. But just as the Dozen had resigned themselves to losing the companionship of Sleepy (he was a good man to crack jokes about, if for no other reason), Sleepy's parents announced to him that his decision was not final, and that, whether or not he wanted to go, go he should. And then there were eight.

The handsome and fashionable young Dozener, known to his friends as Edward Parker, and to fame as "Pretty," was won over with much difficulty. He had completely made up his mind to attend the Troy Latin School—not because he loved Latin, but because Troy was the seat of much social gaiety, and because there was a large seminary for girls in that town. He was, however, at length cajoled into consenting to pitch his tent at Kingston by the diplomatic Jumbo, who told him that the girls at Kingston were the prettiest in three States. And then there were nine.

The Phillips twins, "Reddy" and "Heady," were the next source of trouble, for they had recently indulged in an unusually violent squabble, even for them, and each had vowed that he would never speak to the other again, and would sooner die than go to the same boarding-school. The father of this fiery couple knew that the boys really loved each other dearly at the bottom of their hearts, and decided to teach them how much they truly cared for each other; so he yielded to their prayer that they be allowed to go to different academies. The boys, in high glee, tossed up a penny to decide which should go with the Dozen to Kingston, and which should go to the Brownsville School for Boys. Reddy won Kingston, and rejoiced greatly. But though Heady was so blue that his brick-colored hair was almost dyed, nothing could persuade him to "tag along after his brother," as he phrased it. And so there were ten.

The deepest grief of the Dozen was the plight of the beloved giant, "Sawed-Off." There seemed to be no possible way of getting him to Kingston, much as they thought of his big muscles, and more us they thought of his big heart. His sworn pal, the tiny Jumbo, was well nigh distracted at the thought of severing their two knitted hearts; but Sawed-Off's father was dead, and his mother was too poor to pay for his schooling, so they gave him up for lost, not without aching at the heart, and even a little dampness at the eyelids.

Heady was the first to leave town. He slipped away on an early morning train without telling any one, for he felt very much ashamed of his stubbornness; and he and his brother shook hands with each other as nervously as two prize-fighters.

A few days later the five sixths of the Dozen that were booked for Kingston stood on the crowded platform of the Lakerim railroad-station, bidding good-by to all the parents they had, and all the friends. All of them had paid long calls on their best girls the evening before, and exchanged photographs and locks of hair and various keepsakes more or less sentimental and altogether useless. So, now that they were in public, they all shook hands very formally: Tug with a girl several years older than he; Pretty with the beautiful Enid; Quiz with the fickle Cecily Brown; bashful Bobbles with the bouncing Betsy; B.J. with a girl who had as many freckles as B.J. had had imaginary encounters with the bandits who had tried to steal her; the unwilling Sleepy with a lively young woman who broke his heart by congratulating him on being able to go to Kingston; tiny Jumbo with plump Carrie Shields, whom he had once fished out of the water; and Reddy with the girl over whom he and his brother had had their bitterest quarrels, and who could not for the life of her tell which one she liked the better.

But there was one very little girl in the crowd whose greatest sorrow, strangely enough, was the fact that she had no one to bid good-by to, since her dearest friend, the huge Sawed-Off, was not to go to Kingston.

Just as the engine began to ring its warning bell, and the conductor to wave the people aboard, there was a loud clatter of hoofs, and the rickety old Lakerim carryall came dashing up, drawn by the lively horses Sawed-Off had once saved from destroying themselves and the Dozen in one fell swoop down a steep hill. The carryall lurched up to the station came to a sudden stop, and out bounced—who but Sawed-Off himself, loaded down with bundles, and yelling at the top of his voice:

"Stop the train and wait for me. I'm going to Kingston, too!"


There was just time to dump his trunk into the baggage-car, and bundle him and his bundles on to the platform, before the train steamed away; and the eleven Lakerimmers were so busy waving farewell to the waving and farewelling crowd at the station that it was some minutes before they could find time to learn how Sawed-Off came to be among them. When he explained that he had made arrangements to work his way through the Academy, they took no thought for the hard struggle in front of him, they were so glad to have him along. Jumbo and he sat with their arms around each other all the way to Kingston, their hearts too full for anything but an occasional "Hooray!"

The journey to Kingston brought no adventures with it—except that History, of course, had lost his spectacles and his ticket, and had to borrow money of Pretty to keep from being put off the train, and that when they reached Kingston they came near forgetting Sleepy entirely, for he had curled up in a seat, and was reeling off slumber at a faster rate than the train reeled off miles.

The first few days at Kingston were so busily filled with entrance examinations and selection of rooms and the harder selection of room-mates and other furniture that the Dozen saw little of each other, except as they crunched by along the gravel walks of the campus or met for a hasty meal in the dining-hall. This dining-hall, by the way, was managed by an estimable widow named Mrs. Slaughter, and of course the boys called it the "Slaughter-house," a name not so far from the truth, when one considers the way large, tough roasts of beef and tons of soggy corned beef were massacred by the students.

It might be a good idea to insert here a little snap shot of Kingston Academy. The town itself was a moth-eaten old village that claimed a thousand inhabitants, but could never have mustered that number without counting in all the sleepy horses, mules, cows, and pet dogs that roamed the streets like the rest of the inhabitants. The chief industry of the people of Kingston seemed to be that of selling school-books, mince-pies, and other necessaries of life to the boys at the Academy. The grown young men of the town spent their lives trying to get away to some other cities. The younger youth of the town spent their lives trying to interfere with the pleasures of the Kingston academicians. So there were many of the old-time "town-and-gown" squabbles; and it was well for the health of the Kingston Academy boys that they rarely went around town except in groups of two or three; and it was very bad for the health of any of the town fellows if they happened to be caught within the Academy grounds.

The result of being situated in a half-dead village, which was neither loved nor loving, did not make life at the Academy tame, but quite the opposite; for the boys were forced to find their whole entertainment in the Academy life, and in one another, and the campus was therefore a little republic in itself—a Utopia. Like every other republic, it had its cliques and its struggles, its victories and its defeats, its friendships and its enmities, and everything else that makes life lively and lifelike.

The campus was beautiful enough and large enough to accommodate its citizens handsomely. Its trees were many and tall, venerable old monarchs with foliage like tents for shade and comfort to any little groups that cared to lounge upon the mossy divans beneath. The grounds were spacious enough to furnish not only football and baseball fields and tennis-courts, but meadows where wild flowers grew in the spring, and a little lake where the ice grew in the winter. Miles away—just enough to make a good "Sabbath day's journey"—was a wonderful region called the "Ledges," where glaciers had once resided, and left huge boulders, scratched and scarred. As Jumbo put it, it seemed, from the chasms and caves and curious distortions of stone and soil, that "nature must have once had a fit there.".

Most of the buildings of the Academy looked nearly old enough to have been also deposited there by the primeval glaciers, but they were huge and comfortable, and so many colonies of boys had romped and ruminated there, and so much laughter and so much lore had soaked into the old walls, that they were pleasanter than any newer and more gorgeous architecture could possibly be. They were homely in the better as well as the worse sense.

But this is more than enough description, and you must imagine for yourselves how the Lakerim eleven, often as they thought of home, and homesick as they were in spite of themselves now and then, rejoiced in being thrown on their own resources, and made somewhat independent citizens in a little country of their own. Unwilling to make selections among themselves, more unwilling to select room-mates from the other students (the "foreigners," as the Lakerimmers called them), they drew lots for one another, and the lots decided that they should room together thus: Tug and Punk were on the ground floor of the building known as South College, in room No. 2; in the room just over them were Quiz and Pretty; and on the same floor, at the back of the building, were Bobbles and Reddy (Reddy insisted upon this room because it had a third bedroom off its study-room; while, of course, he never expected to see Heady there, and didn't much care, of course, whether he came or not, still, a fellow never can tell, you know); on the same floor were B.J. and Jumbo. Jumbo did not stoop to flatter B.J. by pretending that he would not have preferred Sawed-Off for his room-mate; but Sawed-Off was working his way through, and the principal of the Academy had offered to help him out, not only with a free scholarship, but with a free room, as well, in Middle College, an old building which had the gymnasium on the first floor, the chapel on the second, and in the loft a single store-room fixed up as a bedroom.

The lots the fellows drew seemed to be in a joking mood when they selected History and Sleepy for room-mates—the hardest student and the softest, not only of the Dozen, but of the whole Academy. Sleepy had been too lazy to pay much heed when the diplomatic History had suggested their choosing room No. 13 for theirs, and he assented languidly. History had said that it was the brightest and sunniest room in the building, and if there was one thing that Sleepy loved almost better than baseball, it was a good snooze in the sun after he had worked hard stowing away any of the three meals. His heart was broken, however, when he learned that the room chosen by the wily History was on the top floor, with three long flights to climb. After that you could never convince him that thirteen was not an unlucky number.

The Lakerimmers had thus managed quietly to ensconce themselves, all except Sawed-Off, in one building; and it was just as well, perhaps, that they did so establish themselves in a stronghold of their own, for they clung together so steadfastly that there was soon a deal of jealousy among the other students toward them, and all the factions combined together to try to keep the Lakerimmers from cabbaging any of the good things of academy life.

There was a craze of skylarking the first few weeks after the school opened. Almost every day one of the Lakerimmers would come back from his classes to find his room "stacked"—a word that exactly expresses its meaning. There is something particularly discouraging in going to your room late in the evening, your mind made up to a comfortable hour of reading on a divan covered with cushions made by your best girls, only to find the divan placed in the middle of the bed, with a bureau and a bookcase stuck on top of it, a few chairs and a pet bulldog tied in the middle of the mix-up, and a mirror and a well-filled bowl of water so fixed on the top of the heap that it is well-nigh impossible to move any one of the articles without cracking the looking-glass or dousing yourself with the water. The Lakerimmers tried retaliation for a time; but the pleasure of stacking another man's room was not half so great as the misery of unstacking one's own room, and they finally decided to keep two or three of the men always on guard in the building.

There was a rage for hazing, too, the first few weeks; and as the Lakerimmers were all new men in the Academy, they were considered particularly good candidates for various degrees of torment. Hazing was strictly against the rules of the Academy, but the teachers could not be everywhere at once, and had something to do besides prowl around the dark corners of the campus at all hours of the night. Some of the men furiously resisted the efforts to haze them; but when they once learned that their efforts were vain, and had perforce to submit, none of them were mean enough to peach on their tormentors after the damage was done. The Lakerimmers, however, decided to resist force with force, and stuck by each other so closely, and barricaded their doors so firmly at night, when they must necessarily separate, that time went on without any of them being subjected to any other indignities than the guying of the other Kingstonians.

Sawed-Off had so much and such hard work to do after school hours that the whole Academy respected him too much to attempt to haze him, though he roomed alone in the old Middle College. Besides, his size was such that nobody cared to be the first one to lay hand on him.

* * * * *

There was just one blot on the happiness of the Dozen at Kingston. Tug and Punk and Jumbo had started the whole migration from Lakerim because they had been invited by the Kingston Athletic Association to join forces with the Academy. The magnificent game of football these three men had played in the last two years had been the cause of this invitation, and they had come with glowing dreams of new worlds to conquer. What was their pain and disgust to find that the captain of the Kingston team, elected before they came, had decided that he had good cause for jealousy of Tug, and had decided that, since Tug would probably win all his old laurels away from him if he once admitted him to the eleven, the only way to retain those laurels was to keep Tug off the team. When the Lakerim three, therefore, appeared on the field as candidates for the eleven, they were assigned to the second or scrub team. (The first team was generally called the "varsity," though of course it only represented an academy.)

The Lakerim three, though disappointed at first, determined to show their respect for discipline, and to earn their way; so they submitted meekly, and played the best game they could on the scrub. When the varsity captain, Clayton by name, criticized their playing in a way that was brutal,—not because it was frank, but because it was unjust,—they swallowed the poison as quietly as they could, and went back into the game determined not to repeat the slip that had brought upon them such a deluge of abuse.

It soon became evident, however, from the way Clayton neglected the mistakes of the pets of his own eleven, and his constant and petty fault-finding with the three Lakerimmers, that he was determined to keep them from the varsity, even if he had to keep second-rate players on the team, and even if he imperiled the Academy's chances against rival elevens.

When this unpleasant truth had finally soaked into their minds, the Lakerimmers grew very solemn; and one evening, when the whole eleven happened to be in room No. 2, and when the hosts, Tug and Punk, were particularly sore from the outrageous language used against them in the practice of the afternoon, Punk, who was rather easily discouraged, spoke up:

"I guess the only thing for us to do, fellows, is to pack up our duds and go back home. There's no chance for us here."

Tug, who was feeling rather muggy, only growled:

"Not on your life! I had rather be a yellow dog than a quitter."

Then he relapsed into a silence that reminded History of Achilles in his tent, though he was ungently told to keep still when he tried to suggest the similarity. Reddy was fairly sizzling with rage at the Clayton faction, and sang out:

"I move that we go round and throw a few rocks through Clayton's windows, and then if he says anything, punch his head for him."

This idea seemed to please the majority of the men, and they were instantly on their feet and rushing out of the door to execute their vengeance on the tyrant, when Tug thundered out for them to come back.

"I've got a better idea," he said, "and one that will do us more credit. I'll tell you what I am going to do: I am going to take this matter into my own hands, and drill that scrub team myself, and see if we can't teach the varsity a thing or two. I believe that, with a little practice and a little good sense, we can shove 'em off the earth."

This struck the fellows as the proper and the Lakerim method of doing things, and they responded with a cheer.


Tug persuaded Reddy, B.J., Pretty, and Bobbles, who had not been trying for the team, to come out on the field. He even coaxed the busy Sawed-Off into postponing some of his work for a few days to help them out. He thus had almost the old Lakerim eleven at his command; and that very night, in that very room, they concocted and practised a few secret tricks and a few surprises for Clayton, who was neither very fertile in invention nor very quick to understand the schemes of others.

Clayton was too sure of his own position and power to pay any heed to the storm that was brewing for him, and was only too glad to see more Lakerim men on the scrub team for him to abuse.

The next day Tug persuaded some of the others of the scrub eleven to "lay off" for a few days, and he also persuaded the captain of the scrub team to give him command for a week. Then he took his new eleven, seven of them old Lakerim veterans, out on the field, and worked with them early and late.

To instil into the heads of his men the necessity of being in just the right place at the right time, Tug drew a map of the field on a large sheet of paper, and spread it on his center-table; then he took twenty-two checkers and set them in array like two football teams. He gathered his eleven into his room at night, told each man Jack of them which checker was his, and set them problems to work out.

"Suppose I give the signal for the left-guard to take the ball around the right-end," he would say, and ask each man in turn, "Where would you go?"

Then the backs drew their checkers up to position as interference, and the tackles and guards showed what particular enemies they were to bowl over. Many ridiculous mistakes were made at first, and each man had a good laugh at the folly of each of the others for some play that left a big hole in the flying protection. But they could practise at night and worry it out in theory, while their legs rested till the next day's practice.

When he could find an empty recitation-room at an idle hour, "Professor Tug," as they soon called him, would gather his class about him and work out the same problems on the blackboards, each man being compelled to draw an arrow from his position at the time of the signal to his proper place when the ball was in play.

The game now became a true science, and the scrub took it up with a new zest. This indoor drill made it easy also to revive a trick popular at Yale in the 'Eighties—the giving of one signal to prepare for a series of plays. Then Tug would call out some eloquent gibberish like "Seventy-'leven-three-teen," and that meant that on the first down the full-back was to come in on the run, and take the ball through the enemy's left-guard and tackle; on the second down the right half-back was to crisscross with the left half-back; and on the third down the right-guard was to scoot round the left-end.

The beauty of this old scheme was that it caught the enemy napping: while he was lounging and waiting for the loud signal, the ball was silently put in play before he was ready. On the fatal day Tug found that the scheme was well worth the trouble it took. It has its disadvantages in the long run, but on its first appearance at Kingston it fairly made the varsity team's eyes pop with amazement.

Tug did not put into play the whole strength of his eleven, but practised cautiously, and instructed his team in the few ruses Clayton seemed to be fond of. He was looking forward to the occasion when a complete game was to be played before the townspeople between the varsity and the scrub; and Clayton was looking forward to this same day, and promising himself a great triumph when the Academy and the town should see what a rattling eleven he had made up.

The day came. The whole Academy and most of the town turned out and filled the grand stand and the space along the side lines. It was to be the first full game of the season on the Academy grounds, and every one was eager to renew acquaintance with the excitements of the fall before. You have doubtless seen and read about more football games than enough, and you will be glad to skip the details of this contest.

It will be unnecessary to do more than suggest how Clayton was simply dumfounded when he saw his first long kick-off caught by the veteran full-back Punk, and carried forward with express speed under the protection of Tug's men, who were not satisfied with merely running in front of Clayton's tacklers, but bunted into them and dumped them over with a spine-jolting vigor, and covered Punk from attack on the rear, and carried him across the center line and well on into Clayton's territory before Clayton realized that several of his pets were mere straw men, and dashed violently and madly into and through Punk's interference, and downed him on the 15-yard line; how the spectators looked on in silent amazement at this unexpected beginning; how promptly Tug's men were lined up, a broad swath completely opened with one quick gash in Clayton's line, and the ball shoved through and within five yards of the goal-posts, almost before Clayton knew it was in play; how Clayton called his men to one side, and rebuked them, and told them just what to do, and found, to his disgust, that when they had done it, it was just the wrong thing to do; how they could not hold the line against the fury of the scrub team; how the ball was jammed across the line right under the goal-posts, and Clayton's head well whacked against one of those same posts as he was swept off his feet; how Tug's men on the line were taught to avoid foolish attempts to worry their opponents, and taught to reserve their strength for the supreme moment when the call came to split the line; how Sawed-Off, though lighter than Clayton's huge 200 pound center, had more than mere bulk to commend him, and tipped the huge baby over at just the right moment; how Tug now and then followed a series of honest football maneuvers with some unexpected trick that carried the ball far down the field around one end, when Clayton was scrambling after it in the wrong place; how Tug had perfected his interference until the man carrying the ball seemed almost as safe as if Clayton's men were Spaniards, and he were in the turret of the U.S.S. Oregon; how little time Tug's men lost in getting away after the ball had been passed to them; how little they depended on "grand stand" plays by the individual, and how much on team-work; how Tug's men went through Clayton's interference as neatly as a fox through a hedge; how they resisted Clayton's mass plays as firmly as harveyized steel; how Clayton fumed and fretted and slugged and fouled, and threatened his men, and called them off to hold conferences that only served to give Tug's men a chance to get their wind after some violent play; how Tug was everywhere at once, and played for more than the pleasure of winning this one game—played as if he were a pair of twins, and only smiled back when Clayton glared at him; how Punk guarded the goal from the longest punts the varsity full-back could make, and how he kicked the goal after all but one of the many touch-downs the scrub team made; how little Jumbo, as quarter-back, passed the ball with never a fumble and never a bad throw; how, when it came back to his hands, he skimmed almost as closely and as silently and as swiftly over the ground as the shadow of a flying bird, and made long run after long run that won the cheers of the crowd; how B.J., Sawed-Off, and Pretty, as right-end, center, and left-end, responded at just the right moment, and how Pretty dodged and ran with the alertness he had learned in many a championship tennis tournament; and how Reddy, as left half-back, flew across the field like a firebrand, or hurled himself into the line with a fury that seemed to have no regard for the bones or flesh of himself or the Claytonians; how—


But did any one ever read such a string of "hows"? Why, that sentence was getting to be longer and more complicated than the game it was pretending not to describe; so here's an end on't, with the plain statement that the game (like that sentence) came finally to an end. But the effects of the contest did not end with the dying out of the cheers with which the victory of the scrub was greeted. And Tug's elevation did not cease when he had been caught up on the shoulders of the crowd and carried all over the field, amid the wild cheers of the whole Academy. No more did Captain Clayton's chagrin end with his awakening from the stupor into which he had been sent by the surprisingly good form of the scrub.

Clayton felt bitter enough at the exposure of his bad captaincy, but a still greater bitterness awaited him, and a still greater triumph awaited Tug, for the Athletic Association put their heads together and decided to have their little say. The result was published in the Kingston weekly, and Tug, after the overwhelming honor of being interviewed by a live reporter, read there the following screaming head-lines:


* * * * *

Kingston Football Team Meets with a Crushing Defeat at the Hands of the Second Eleven.

* * * * *

SCORE, 28 to 4.

* * * * *


* * * * *

Popular Opinion Forces Captain Clayton to Resign in Favor of "Tug" Robinson.

* * * * *


* * * * *

Mr. Robinson Declares that Favoritism will Have no Part in the Make-up of the New Team, and Magnanimously Offers Ex-Captain Clayton a Position on the New Eleven.

There is no need telling here the wild emotions in the hearts of Clayton and his faction at the end of the game, and no need of even hinting the wilder delight of the Lakerimmers at the vindication of their cause. The whole eleven of them strolled home in one grand embrace, and used their jaws more for talking than for eating when they reached the long-delayed meal at the "Slaughter-house"; and after supper they met again at the fence, and sang Lakerim songs of rejoicing, and told and retold to each other the different features of the game, which they all knew without the telling. So much praise was heaped upon Tug by the rest of the Academy, and he was so feted by the Lakerimmers, that he finally slipped away and went to his room. And little History also bade them good night, on his old excuse of having to study.

It was very dark before the Lakerimmers had talked themselves tired. Then they voted to go around and congratulate Tug once more upon his victory, and give him three cheers for the sake of auld lang syne. When they went to his room, they were amazed to see the door swinging open and shut in the breeze; they noted that the lock was torn off. They hurried in, and found one of the windows broken, and books and chairs scattered about in confusion; the mantel and cloth and the photographs on it were all awry. It was evident that a fierce struggle had taken place in the room. The nine Lakerimmers stood aghast, staring at each other in stupefaction. Reddy was the first to find tongue, and he cried out:

"I know what's up, fellows: that blamed gang of hazers has got him!"

Now there was an excitement indeed. Punk suggested that perhaps he might be in History's room, and Bobbles scaled the three flights, three steps at a time, only to return with a wild look, and declare that History's room was empty, his lock broken, and his student lamp smoking. Plainly the hazing committee had lost no time in seizing its first opportunity. Plainly the Lakerimmers must lose no time in hurrying to the rescue.

"Up and after 'em, men!" cried B.J.; and, trying to remember what was the proper thing for an old Indian scout to do under the circumstances, he started off on a dead run. And the others followed him into the night.


Tug had stood the praise and applause of his fellow-students, and especially the wild flattery of the Dozen, who were almost insanely joyful over his success in captaining the scrub football team and wiping the earth up with the varsity, until he was as sick as a boy that has overfed on candy. Finally he had slunk away, rather like a guilty man than a hero, and started for his room. Once he had left the crowd and was alone under the great trees, darkly beautiful with the moonlight, he felt again the delicious pride of his victory against the heavy odds, and the conspiracy of his deadly rival in football. He planned, in his imagination, the various steps he would take to reorganize the varsity eleven, to which it was evident that he would be elected captain; and he smacked his lips over the prospects of glorious battles and hard-won victories in the games in which he and his team would represent the Kingston Academy against the other academies of the Tri-State Interscholastic League.

His waking dreams came true, in good season, too; for, under his inspiring leadership, the Kingston men took up the game with a new zest, gave up the idea that individual grand-stand plays won games, and learned to sink their ambitions for themselves into a stronger ambition for the success of the whole team. And they played so brilliantly and so faithfully that academy after academy went down before them, and they were not even scored against until they met the most formidable rivals of all, the Greenville Academy. Greenville was an old athletic enemy of the Lakerim Club, and Tug looked forward to meeting it with particular delight, especially as the championship of the League football series lay between Greenville and Kingston. I have only time and room enough to tell you that when the final contest came, Tug sent his men round the ends so scientifically, and led them into the scrimmages so furiously, that they won a glorious victory of 18 to 6.

But this is getting a long way into the future, and away from Tug on his walk to his room that beautiful evening, when all these triumphs were still in the clouds, and he had only one victory to look back upon.

Tug's responsibility had been great that afternoon, and the strain of coaxing and commanding his scrub players to assault and defeat the heavier eleven opposed to them had worn hard on his muscles and nerves. When he got to his room he was too tired to remember that he had forgotten to take the usual precautions of locking his door and windows, or even of drawing the curtains. He did not stop to think that hazing had been flourishing about the Academy grounds for some time, and that threats had been made against any of the Lakerim Dozen if they were ever caught alone. He could just keep awake long enough to light his student lamp; then he dropped on his divan, and buried his head in a red-white-and-blue cushion his best Lakerim girl had embroidered for him in a fearful and wonderful manner, and was soon dozing away into a dreamland where the whole world was one great football, and he was kicking it along the Milky Way, scoring a touch-down every fifty years.

A little later History poked his head in at the door. He also had left the crowd seated on the fence, and had started for his room to study. He saw Tug fast asleep, and let him lie undisturbed, though he was tempted to wake him up and say that Tug reminded him of the Sleeping Beauty before taking the magic kiss; but he thought it might not be safe, and went on up to his room whistling, very much off the key.

Tug slept on as soundly as the mummy of Rameses. But suddenly he woke with a start. He had a confused idea that he had heard some one fumbling at his window. His sleepy eyes seemed to make out a face just disappearing from sight outside. He dismissed his suspicions as the manufactures of sleep, and was about to fall back again on the comfortable divan when he heard footsteps outside, and the creak of his door-knob. He rose quickly to his feet.

A masked face was thrust in at the door, and the lips smiled maliciously under the black mask, and a pair of blacker eyes gleamed through it.

Tug made a leap for the door to shut the intruder out, realizing in a flash that the hazers had truly caught him napping.

But he was too late. The masked face was followed swiftly into the room by the body that belonged to it, and by other faces and other bodies—all the faces masked, and all the bodies hidden in long black robes.

Tug fell back a step, and said, with all the calmness he could muster:

"I guess you fellows are in the wrong room."

"Nope; we've come for you," was the answer of the first masker, who spoke in a disguised voice.

Tug looked as resolutely as he could into the eyes behind the mask, and asked rather nervously a question whose answer he could have as easily given himself:

"Well, now that you're here, what do you want?"

Again the disguised voice came deeply from the somber-robed leader:

"Oh, we just want to have a little fun with you."

"Well, I don't want to have any fun with you," parleyed Tug, trying to gain time.

"Oh, it doesn't make any difference whether you want to come or not; this isn't your picnic—it's ours," was the cheery response of the first ghost; and the other black Crows fairly cawed with delight.

Still Tug argued: "What right have you men got to come into my room without being invited?"

"It's just a little surprise-party we've planned."

"Well, I'm not feeling like entertaining any surprise-party to-night."

"Oh, that doesn't make any difference to us." Again the black flock flapped its wings and cawed.

And now Tug, as usual, lost his temper when he saw they were making a guy of him, and he blurted fiercely:

"Get out of here, all of you!"

Then the crowd laughed uproariously at him.

And this made him still more furious, and though they were ten to one, Tug flung himself at them without fear or hesitation. When five of them fell on him at once, he dragged them round the room as if they were football-players trying to down him; but the odds were too great, and before long they overpowered him and tied his wrists behind him; not without difficulty, for Tug had the slipperiness of an eel, along with the strength of a young shark. When they had him well bound, and his legs tethered so that he could take only very short steps, they lifted him to his feet.

"I think we'd better gag him," said the leader of the Crows; and he, produced a stout handkerchief. But Tug gave him one contemptuous look, and remarked:

"Do you suppose I'm a cry-baby? I'm not going to call for help."

There was something in his tone that convinced the captain of the Crows.


A detachment was now sent to scurry through the dormitory and see if it could find any other Lakerimmers. This squad finally came down the stairs, the biggest one of the Crows carrying little History under his arm. History was waving his arms and legs about as if he were a tarantula, but the big black Crow held him tight and kept one hand over the boy's mouth so that he could not scream.

Then Tug began to struggle furiously again, and to resist their efforts to drag him out of the room. He could easily have raised a cry that would have brought a professor to his rescue and scattered his persecutors like sparrows; but his boyish idea of honor put that rescue out of his reach, and he fought like a dumb man, with only such occasional grunts as his struggle tore from him.

He might have been fighting them yet, for all I know, had not History twisted his mouth from under the hand of his captor and threatened—he had not breath enough left to call for help:

"If—you—don't let me go—I'll—tell on you."

The very thought of this smallness horrified Tug so much that he stopped struggling, and turned his head to implore History not to disgrace Lakerim by being a tattler. The Crows saw their chance, and while Tug's attention was occupied one of them threw a loosely woven sack over his head and drew it down about his neck. Then they started once more on the march, History scratching and kicking in all directions and doing very little harm, while Tug, with his hands tied behind him and his head first in a noose, used his only weapons, his shoulders, with the fury of a Spanish bull. And before they got him through the door he had nearly disabled three of his assailants, making one of them bite his tongue in a manner most uncomfortable. And the room looked as if a young cyclone had been testing its muscles there!

The Crows hustled the Lakerimmers out without any unnecessary tenderness, forgetting to close the door after them. Out of the hall and across the board walk, on to the soft, frosty grass where the sound of their scuffling feet would not betray them, they jostled their way. Tug soon decided that the best thing for him to do was to reserve his strength; so he ceased to resist, and followed meekly where they led. They whirled him round on his heel several times to confuse him as to the direction they took, then they hurried him through the dark woods of a neglected corner of the campus. History simply refused to go on his own feet, and they had to carry him most of the way, and found only partial revenge in pinching his spidery legs and bumping his head into occasional trees.

The two boys knew when they left the campus by the fact that they were bundled and boosted over a stone wall and across a road.

History, as he stumbled along at. Tug's side, at length came to himself enough to be reminded of the way the ancient Romans used to treat such captives as were brought back in triumph by their generals. But Tug did not care to hear about the troubles of the Gauls—he had troubles of his own.

Once they paused and heard a mysterious whispering among the Crows, who left them standing alone and withdrew a little distance. History was afraid to move in the dark, for fear that he might step out of the frying-pan into the fire; but Tug, always ready to take even the most desperate chance, thought, he would make a bolt for it. He put one foot forward as a starter, but found no ground in front of him. He felt about cautiously with his toe, and discovered that he was standing at the brink of a ledge. How deep the ravine in front of him was, he could only imagine, and in spite of his courage he shivered at the thought of what he might have done had he followed his first impulse and made a dash. There are pleasanter things on a dark night than standing with eyes blindfolded and hands bound on the edge of an unknown embankment. As he waited, the weakening effect of the struggle and the mysterious terrors of the darkness told on his nerves, and he shivered a bit in spite of his clenched teeth. Then he overheard the voices of the Crows, and one of them was saying:

"Aw, go on, shove him over."

Another protested: "But it might break his neck, and it's sure to fracture a bone or two."

"Well, what of it? He nearly broke my jaw."

Then Tug heard more excited whispering and what sounded like a struggle, and suddenly he heard some one rushing toward him; he felt a sharp blow and a shove from behind, and was launched over the brink of the ledge. I'll not pretend that he wasn't about as badly scared as time would allow.

But there was barely space for one lightning stroke of wild regret that his glad athletic days were over and he was to be at least a cripple, if he lived at all, when the ground rose up and smote him much quicker even than he had expected. As he sprawled awkwardly and realized that he had hardly been even bruised, he felt a sense of rage at himself for having been taken in by the old hazing joke, and a greater rage at the men who had brought on him what was to him the greatest disgrace of all—a feeling of fear. He had just time to make up his mind to take this joke out of the hides of some of his tormentors, if it took him all winter, when he heard above him the sound of a short, sharp scuffle with History, who was pleading for dear life, and who came flying over the ledge with a shrill scream of terror, and plumped on the ground half an inch from Tug's head. It took History only half a second to realize that he was not dead yet, and he was so glad to be alive again—as he thought of it—that he began to sniffle from pure joy.

The Crows were not long in leaping over the ledge and getting Tug and History to their feet. Then they took up the march again, staggering under their laughter and howling with barbarous glee.

After half a mile more of hard travel, the prisoners were brought through a dense woods into a clearing, where their party was greeted by the voices of others. The sack over Tug's head was unbound and snatched away, and he looked about him to see a dozen more black Crows, with two other hapless prisoners, seated like an Indian war-council about a blazing lire, and, like an Indian war-council, pondering tortures for their unlucky captives.

In the fire were two or three iron pokers glowing red-hot. The sight of this gave the final blow to any hope that might have remained of History's conducting himself with dignity. When he and Tug were led in, there was such an hilarious celebration over the two Lakerim captives as the Indian powwow indulged in on seeing a scouting party bring in Daniel Boone a prisoner.

As Tug was the most important spoil of war, they took counsel, and decided that he should be given the position of honor—and tortured last. Then they went, enthusiastically to work making life miserable for the two captives brought in previously.

The first was compelled to climb a tree, which he did with some little difficulty, seeing that, while half of them pretended to boost him, the other half amused themselves by grabbing his legs and pulling him back three inches for every one inch he climbed (like the frog and the well in the mathematical problem). He finally gained a point above their reach, however, and seated himself in the branches, looking about as happy as a lone wayfarer treed by a pack of wolves. Then, they commanded him to bark at the moon, and threatened him with all sorts of penalties if he disobeyed. So he yelped and gnarled and bow-wowed till there was nothing left of his voice but a sickly wheeze.

Then they told him that the first course was over, and invited him to return to earth and rest up for the second. So he came sliddering down the rough bark with the speed of greased lightning.

The second captive was a great fat boy who had been a promising candidate for center rush on the football team until Sawed-Off appeared on the scene. This behemoth was compelled to seat himself on a small inverted saucer and row for dear life with a pair of toothpicks. The Crows howled with glee over the ludicrous antics of the fellow, and set him such a pace that he was soon a perfect waterfall of perspiration, and was crying for mercy. At length he caught a crab and went heels over head backward on the ground, and they left him to recover his breath and his temper.

History had watched these proceedings with much amusement, but when he saw the hazers coming for him he lost sight of the fun of the situation immediately.

The head Crow now towered over the shivering little History, and said in his deepest chest-tones: "These Lakerim cattle are too fresh. They must be branded and salted a little."

Then he fastened a handkerchief over History's eyes, and growled: "Are those irons hot yet?"

"Red-hot, your Majesty," came the answer from one of the other ravens, and History heard the clanking of the pokers as they were drawn from the fire. He had seen before that they were red-hot, and now they were brandished before his very nose, so close that he could see the red glow through the cloth over his eyes and could feel the heat in the air close to his cheek.

"Where shall we brand the wretch, your Honor?" was the next question History heard.

The poor pygmy was too much frightened to move, and he almost fainted when he heard the first Crow answer gruffly: "Thrust the branding-iron right down the back of his neck, and give him a good long mark that shall last him the rest of his life."

Instantly History felt a bitter, stinging pain at the back of his neck, a pain that ran like fire down along his spine, and he gave a great shriek of terror and almost swooned away.

Tug's eyes were not blindfolded, and he had seen that, though the Crows had waved a red-hot poker before History's nose, they had quickly substituted a very cold rod to thrust down his back. The effect on the nerves of the blindfolded boy, however, was the same as if it had been red-hot, and he had dropped to earth like a flash.

Tug, though he knew it would heighten his own tortures, could not avoid expressing his opinion of such treatment of the sensitive History. He did not know whether he was more disgusted and enraged at the actual pain the Crows had given their captives or at the ridiculous plights they had put them in, but he did know that he regarded the whole proceeding as a terrible outrage, a disgrace to the Academy; and ever after he used all his influence against the barbarous idea of hazing.

But now he commanded as though he were master of the situation: "Throw some of that water on the boy's face and bring him to," and while they hastened to follow out his suggestion he poured out the rage in his soul:

"Shame on you, you big cowards, for torturing that poor little kid! You're a nice pack of heroes, you are! Only twenty to one! But I'll pay you back for this some day, and don't you forget it! And if you'll untie my hands I'll take you one at a time now. I guess I could just about do up two of you at a time, you big bullies, you!"

And now one of the larger Crows rushed up to Tug, and drew off to strike him in the face. But Tug only stared back into the fellow's eyes with a fiercer glare in his own, and cried:

"Hit me! My hands are tied now! It's a good chance for you, and you'll never get another, for I'll remember the cut of that jaw and the mole on your cheek in spite of your mask, and you'll wish you had never been born before I get through with you!"

Tug's rash bravado infuriated the Crows until they were ready for any violence, but the head Crow interposed and pushed aside the one who still threatened Tug. He said laughingly:

"Let him alone, boys; we want him in prime condition for the grand final torture ceremonies. Let's finish up the others."

Then they laughed and went back to the first two wretches, and made life miserable for them to the end of their short wits. They were afraid to try any more experiments on History, and left him lying by the fire, slowly recovering his nerves.

All the while Tug had remained so very quiet that the Crows detailed to watch him had slightly relaxed their vigilance. He had been silently working at the cords with which his hands were tied behind his back, and by much straining and turning and torment of flesh he had at length worked his right hand almost out of the rope.

Soon he saw that the Crows were about to begin on him. He thought the whole performance an outrage on the dignity of an American citizen, and he gave the cords one last fierce jerk that wrung his right hand loose, though it left not a little of the skin on the cords; and the first Crow to lay a hand on his shoulder thought he must have touched a live wire, for Tug's hand came flashing from behind his back, and struck home on the fellow's nose.

Then Tug warmed up to the scrimmage, and his right and left arms flew about like Don Quixote's windmill for a few minutes, until two of the two dozen Crows lighted on his back and pinioned his arms down and bore him gradually to his knees.

Just as the rest were closing in to crush Tug,—into mincemeat, perhaps,—History, who had been lying neglected on the ground near the fire, rose to the occasion for once. It seemed as if he had, as it were, sat down suddenly upon the spur of the moment. He rolled over swiftly, caught up the two pokers which had been restored to the fire after they had been used to frighten him, and, before he could be prevented, thrust the handle of one of them into Tug's grasp, and rose to his feet, brandishing the other like a sword.

Tug lost no time in adapting himself to the new weapon. He simply waved it gently about and described a bright circle in the air over his head. And his enemies fell off his back and scattered like grasshoppers.

Tug now got quickly to his feet, and he and History shook hands with their left hands very majestically. Then they faced about and stood back to back, asking the Crows why they had lost interest so suddenly, and cordially inviting them to return and finish the game.

They stood thus, monarchs of all they surveyed, for a few moments. But dismay replaced their joy as they heard the words of the first Crow:

"They can't get back to their rooms before their pokers grow cold, and it is only a matter of a few minutes until they chill, anyway, so all that we have to do is to wait here a little while, and then go back and finish up our work—and perhaps add a little extra on account of this last piece of rambunctiousness."

Tug saw that they were prisoners indeed, but intended to hold the fort until the last possible moment. He told History to put his poker back in the fire and to heat it up again, while he stood guard with his own.

To this stratagem the first Crow responded with another,—he trumped Tug's ace, as it were,—for though he saw that the fire was going out and would not heat the pokers much longer, he decided not to wait for this, but set his men to gathering stones and sticks to pelt the two luckless Lakerimmers with.

And now Tug saw that the chances of escape were indeed small. He felt that he could make a dash for liberty and outrun any one in the crowd, or outfight any one who might overtake him; but he would sooner have died than leave History, who could neither run well nor fight well, to the mercies of the merciless gang that surrounded them.

"Let's give the Lakerim yell together, History," he said; "perhaps the fellows have missed us and are out looking for us, and will come to our rescue."

So he and History filled their lungs and hurled forth into the air the old Lakerim yell, or as much of it as two could manage:

{ray! {ri! {ro! "L'"iy-krim! L'"iy-krim! L'"iy-krim! Hoo-{row! {roo! {rah!"

The Crows listened in amazement to the war-whoop of the two Lakerimmers. Then the first Crow, who had Irish blood in his veins, smiled and said:

"Oho! I see what they are up to; they're calling for help. Well, now, we'll just drown out their yell with a little noise of our own."

And so, when Tug and History had regained breath enough to begin their club cry again, the whole two dozen of the Crows broke forth into a horrible hullabaloo of shrieks and howls that drowned out Tug's and History's voices completely, but raised far more noise than they could ever have hoped to make.

After a few moments of thus caterwauling night hideous, like a pack of coyotes, the Crows began to close in on the Lakerim stronghold, and stones and sticks flew around the two in a shower that kept them busy dodging.

"We've got to make a break for it, Hist'ry," said Tug, under his breath. "Now, you hang on to me and I'll hang on to you, and don't mind how your lungs ache or whether you have any breath or not, but just leg it for home."

He had locked his arm through History's, and made a leap toward the circle of Crows just as a heavy stone lighted on the spot where they had made their stand so long.

Before the Crows knew what was up, Tug and History were upon them and had cut a path through the ring by merely brandishing their incandescent pokers, and had disappeared into the dark of the woods.

There was dire confusion among the Crows, and some of them ran every which way and lost the crowd entirely as History and Tug vanished into the thick night.

The glowing pokers, however, that were their only weapons of defense, were also their chiefest danger, and a pack of about a dozen Crows soon discovered that they could follow the runaways by the gleam of the rods. Tug realized this, too, very shortly, and he and History threw the pokers away.

Tug and History, however, had come pretty well to the edge of the wood, and were just rushing down a little glade that would lead them into the open, when the first Crow yelled for some of his men to take a short cut and head them off.

The Lakerimmers, then, their breath all spent and their hearts burning with the flight, which Tug would not let History give up, saw themselves headed off and escape no longer possible. Tug knew that History would be useless in a scrimmage, so, in a low tone, he bade him drop under a deep bush they were just passing. History was too exhausted to object even to being left alone, and managed to sink into the friendly cover of the bush without being observed. And Tug went right into a mob of them, crying with a fine defiance the old yell of the Athletic Club:

"L'"iy-krim! L'"iy-krim! L'"iy-krim! Hoo-ray!"


The nine Lakerimmers who had set forth to the rescue of Tug and History had no more clue as to the whereabouts of the kidnapped twain than some broken furniture and an open door; and even one who was so well versed in detective stories as B.J., had to admit that this was very little for what he called a "slouch-hound" to begin work on. There had been no snow, and the frost had hardened the ground, so that there were no footprints to tell the way the crowd of hazers had gone.

As Jumbo said:

"It's like looking for a needle in a haystack after dark; and it wouldn't do you any good to sit down in this haystack, either."

The only thing to do, then, was to scour the campus in all its nooks and crannies, pausing now and then to look and listen hard for any sign or sound of the captives. But each man heard nothing except the pounding of his own heart and the wheezing of his own lungs. Then they must up and away again into the dark.

They had scurried hither and yon, and yonder and thither, until they were well-nigh discouraged, when, just as they were crashing through some thick underbrush, B.J. stopped suddenly short. Sawed-Off bumped into him, and Jumbo tripped over Sawed-Off; but B.J. commanded them to be silent so sharply that they paused where they had fallen and listened violently.

Then they heard far and faint in the distance to the right of their course a little murmur of voices just barely audible.

B.J.'s quick ear made out the difference between this far-off hubbub and the other quiet sounds of the night.

That dim little noise his breathless fellows could just hear was the wild hullabaloo the foolish Crows had set up to drown out the voices of Tug and History, as they gave the Lakerim yell.

B.J.'s ear was correct enough not only to understand the noise but to decide the direction it came from, though to the other Lakerimmers it came from nowhere in particular and everywhere in general. Before they had made up their minds just how puzzled they were, B.J. was striking off in a new direction at the top of his speed, and was well over the stone wall before they could get up steam to follow him. Across the road and through the barbed-wire fence he led them pell-mell. There was a little pause while Jumbo helped the lubberly Sawed-Off through the strands that had laid hold of his big frame like fish-hooks. B.J. took this chance to vouchsafe his followers just one bit of information.

"They're at Roden's Knoll," he puffed.

Roden's Knoll was a little clearing in the woods that marked the highest point of land in the State, though it was approached very gradually, and nothing but a barometer could have told its elevation.

It was a long run through the night, over many a treacherous bog and through many a cluster of bushes, which, as Jumbo said, had finger-nails; and there was many a stumble and jolt, and many a short stop at the edge of a sudden embankment. One of these pauses that brought the whole nine up into a knot was the little step-off where Tug and History had thought they were being shoved over the precipice of a Grand Canon.

At length Roden's Knoll was reached, but there the weary Lakerimmers were discouraged to find nothing but a smoldering fire and the signs of a hard straggle.

"We're too late; it's all over," sighed Pretty, thinking sadly of the mud and the rips and tears that disfigured his usually perfect toilet.

"I move we rest a bit," groaned Sleepy, seconding his own motion by dropping to the ground.

"Shh!" commanded B.J.; "d'you hear that?"

Instantly they were all in motion again, for they heard the noise of many runners crashing through the thicket.

Soon they saw a shadowy form ahead of them and overtook it, and recognized one of the Crows. They gave him a glance, and then shoved him to one side with little gentleness, and ran on. Two or three of the Crows they overtook in this manner, but spent little time upon them.

They were bent upon a rescue, not upon the taking of prisoners. Then, just as they were approaching the edge of the woods, they heard a cry that made their weary blood gallop. It was the "L'"iy-krim! L'"iy-krim!" of Tug making his last charge on the flock of Crows.

In a moment they had reached the mass of humanity that was writhing over him, and they began to tear them off and fling them back upon the ground with fierce rudeness. Man after man they peeled off and flung back till they got down to one fellow with his knee on somebody's nose.

That nose was Tug's, and they soon had the boy on his feet, and turned to continue the argument with the Crows. But there were no Crows to argue with. The Dozen had made up in impetus and vim what it lacked in numbers, and the Crows had fled as if from an army. A few black ghosts flying for their lives were all they could see of the band that had been so courageous with only History and Tug to take care of.

So the ten from Lakerim gathered together, and while B.J. beat time they spent what little breath was left in them on the club yell. It sounded more like a chorus of bullfrogs than of young men, but it was gladsome enough to atone for its lack of music, and it was loud enough to convince History that it was safe to come out, of the bushes where he had been crouching in ghostly terror.

The Lakerimmers were inclined to laugh at History for his fears, but Tug told them that if it had not been for his seizing the red-hot pokers there would have been a different story to tell; so they hugged him instead of laughing at him, and Sawed-Off clapped him on the back such a vigorous thump that History thought the hazers had hold of him again.

Now they took up their way back to the Academy, and B.J. began to plot a dire revenge on the cowardly Crows. But Tug said:

"I move we let the matter drop. They're the ones to talk now of getting even, for they have certainly had the worst of it. It'll be just as well to keep a sharp eye on them, though, and it is very important for us to stand together."

When they had reached the dormitory they all joined in straightening up and rearranging Tug's room before they went to their well-earned sleep.

* * * * *

I am afraid the Lakerim eleven had the bad taste to do a little gloating over the Crows. Their wit was not always of the finest, but they enjoyed it themselves, though little the Crows liked it, and it kept them all unusually happy for many days—

All except Reddy. He showed a strange inclination to "mulp"—a portmanteau word that Jumbo coined out of "mope" and "sulk."


To see the hilarious Reddy mulping was very odd. About the only subject in or out of books that seemed to interest him in the slightest degree was the mention of the name of his twin brother, Heady; and that, too, in spite of the fact that the two of them had quarreled and bickered so much that their despairing parents had finally sent them to different schools. But now Reddy seemed to be inconsolable, grieving for the other half of his twin heart.

Finally the boy's blues grew so blue that no one was much surprised when he announced his desperate determination to journey to the town where Heady was at school, and visit him. Reddy got permission from the Principal to leave on Friday night and return on Monday. He had been saving up his spending-money for many a dismal week, and now he went about borrowing the spending-money of all his friends.

One Friday evening, then, after class hours, all the Lakerimmers went in a body down to the railroad-station to bid Reddy a short good-by.

Jumbo felt inclined to crack a few jokes upon Reddy's inconsistency in struggling so hard to get away from his brother, and then struggling so hard to go back to him, but Tug told Jumbo that the subject was too tender for any of his flippancy.

On reaching the depot they found that Reddy's train was half an hour late, and that a train from the opposite direction would get in first. So they all stood solemnly around and waited. When this train pulled into the station you can imagine the feelings of all when the first one to descend was—



The Twins stood and stared at each other like tailors' dummies for a moment, while the strangers on the platform and on the train wondered if they were seeing double.

Then Reddy and Heady dropped each his valise, and made a spring. And each landed on the other's neck.

Now Sawed-Off seized Heady's valise, and Jumbo seized Reddy's, and then they all set off together—the reunited Twins, the completed Dozen—for the campus. The whole Twelve felt a new delight in the reunion, and realized for the first time how dear the Dozen was.

The Twins, of course, were blissfulest of all, and marched at the head of the column with their arms about each other, exchanging news and olds, both talking at once, and each understanding perfectly what the other was trying to say.

Thus they proceeded, glowing with mutual affection, till they reached the edge of the campus, when the others saw the Twins suddenly loose their hold on each other, and fall to, hammer and tongs, over some quarrel whose beginning the rest had not heard.

Jumbo grinned and murmured to Sawed-Off: "The Twins are themselves again."

But Sawed-Off hastened to separate and pacify them, and they set off again for Reddy's room, arm in arm. Later Heady arranged with his parents to let him stay at Kingston for the rest of the school-year.

* * * * *

Heady had not been back among his old cronies long before they had him up in a corner in Reddy's room, and were all trying at the same time to tell him of the atrocious behavior of the Crows, their harsh treatment of Tug and History, the magnificent resistance, and the glorious rescue.

"It reminds me," said History, "of one of Sir William Scott's novels, with moats and castles, and swords and shields, and all sorts of beautiful things."

But B.J. broke in scornfully:

"Aw, that old Scott, he's a deader! It reminds me of one of those new detective stories with clues and hair-breadth escapes. And Tug is like 'Iron-armed Ike,' who took four villyuns, two in each hand, and swung them around his head till they got so dizzy that they swounded away, and then he threw one of 'em through a winder, and used the other three like baseball bats to knock down a gang of desperate ruffians that was comin' to the rescue. Oh, but I tell you, it was great!"

"'Strikes me," Bobbles interrupted, "it's more like one of Funnimore Hooper's Indian stories, with the captives tied to the stake and bein' tortured and scalluped, and all sorts of horrible things, when along comes old Leather-boots and picks 'em all off with his trusty rifle."

Two or three others were evidently reminded of something else they were anxious to describe; but Heady was growing impatient and very wrathful, and he broke in:

"Well, while you fellows are all being reminded of so many things, I'd like to ask just one thing, and that is, what are you going to do about it?"

"Nothing at all," said History. And thinking of his unexpected escape from his terrible adventure, he added quickly: "I think we did mighty well to get out of it alive."

"Pooh!" sniffed Heady, getting madder every moment.

"Well, Tug says the same thing," drawled Sleepy. "He says that we got the best of it all around, and that if anybody's after revenge it ought to be the Crows, because we wiped 'em off the earth."

"Bah!" snapped Heady. "It isn't enough for the Lakerim Athletic Club to get out of a thing even, and call quits. Leastways, that wasn't the pollersy when I used to be with you."

This spirit of revolt from the calm advice of Tug seemed to be catching, and the other Lakerimmers were becoming much excited. Tug made a speech, trying to calm the growing rage, and he was supported by History, who tried to bring up some historical parallels, but was ordered off the floor by the others. Tug's plan, which was seconded by History from motives of timidity, was thirded by Sleepy from motives of laziness.

But Heady leaped to his foot and delivered a wild plea for war, such another harangue as he had delivered during the famous snow-battle at the Hawk's Nest. He favored a sharp and speedy retaliation.

"Well, how are you going to retaliate?" said Tug, who saw his let-her-go policy losing all its force, and who began to grow just a bit eager himself to give the Crows a good lesson. Still, he repeated, when Heady only looked puzzled and gave no answer:

"How are you going to retaliate, I say?"

"A chance will come," said Heady, solemnly.

And Reddy, who had been burning up with patriotic zeal for the glory of Lakerim, was so proud of his brother's success in stirring up a warlike spirit that he moved over, and sat down beside him on the window-seat, and put his arms around him, and they never quarreled again—till after supper.

But the chance came—sooner than any of them expected.


For Quiz, whose curiosity threatened to be the death of him some day, and who was always snooping around, learned, not many days later, that the Crows were planning to give a great banquet in a room over the only restaurant in the village. This feast had been intended as a grand finale to the season of hazing, and it was to be paid for by the poor wretches who had been given the pleasure of being hazed, and taxed a dollar apiece for the privilege. Strange to say, the two Lakerim men whom the Crows had tried to haze were neither invited to pay the tax nor to be present at the banquet. In fact, the unkind behavior of the Lakerimmers had hurt the feelings of the Crows very badly, and cast a gloom over the whole idea of the banquet.

As soon as Quiz learned, in a roundabout way, where and when the feast was to be held, he came rushing into Tug's room, where the Dozen had gathered Saturday evening after a long day spent in skating on the first heavy ice of the winter.

Quiz crashed through the door, and smashed it shut behind him, and yelled: "I've got it! I've got it!" with such zeal that Sleepy, who was taking a little doze in a tilted chair, went over backward into a corner, and had to be pulled out by the heels.

History spoke up, as usual, with one of his eternal school-book memories, and piped out:

"You remind me, Quiz, of the day when Archimeter jumped out of his bath-tub and ran around yelling, 'Euraker! Euraker!"

But Heady shouted:

"Somebody stuff a sofa-cushion down History's mouth until we learn what it is that Quiz has got."

"Or what it is that's got Quiz," added Jumbo.

When History had been upset, and Sleepy set up, Quiz, who had run several blocks with his news, found breath to gasp:

"The Crows are going to have a banquet!"

Then he flopped over on the couch and proceeded to pant like a steam-roller.

The rest of the Dozen stared at Quiz a moment, then passed a look around as if they thought that either Quiz was out of his head or they were. Then they all exclaimed in chorus:

"Well, what of it?"

And Jumbo added sarcastically:

"It'll be a nice day to-morrow if it doesn't rain."

Quiz was a long time getting his breath and opening his eyes; then it was his turn to look around in amazement and to exclaim:

"What of it? What of it? Why, you numskulls, don't you see it's just the chance you wanted for revenge?"

"What do you mean?" exclaimed the others. "Do you mean that we should go down and eat the banquet for 'em?" queried Sleepy, whose first thought was always either for a round sleep or a square meal.

"I hadn't thought of that," said Quiz. "That would be a good idea, too. What I had in my mind was doing what they do in the big colleges sometimes: kidnap the president of the crowd so that he can't go to the dinner."

"Great head! Great scheme!" the others exclaimed; and they jumped to their feet and indulged in a war-dance that shook the whole building.

When they had done with this jollification, Tug, who objected to doing things by halves, asked:

"Why not kidnap the whole kit and boodle of them?"

Then there was another merry-go-round. But they all stopped suddenly, and Quiz expressed the sentiment of all of them when he said:

"But how are we going to do it?"

Then they all put their heads together for a long and serious debate, the result of which was a plan that seemed to promise success.

The banquet was to be held on the next Friday night at night o'clock, and the Dozen had nearly a week for perfecting their plot.

Sawed-Off suggested the first plan that looked feasible for taking care of the whole crowd of the Crows, about two dozen in number. The chapel, over which Sawed-Off had his room, had a large bell-tower—as Sawed-Off well knew, since it was one of his duties to ring the bell on all the many occasions when it was to be rung. In this cupola there was a loft of good size; it was reached by a heavy ladder, which could be removed with some difficulty. Under the chapel there was a large cellar, which seemed never to have been used for any particular purpose, though it was divided into a number of compartments separated by the stone walls of the foundation or by heavy boarding. A few hundred old books from the library were about its only contents. The only occupant of the chapel, except at morning prayers and on Sundays, was Sawed-Off. The gymnasium on the ground floor was not lighted up after dark, and so the building was completely deserted every evening.

Some unusual scheme must be devised to enable twelve men to take care of twenty-four. Fortunately it happened that half a dozen of the twenty-four took the six-o'clock train for their homes in neighboring towns, where they went to spend Saturday and Sunday with their parents. This reduced the number to eighteen. Friday evening a number of the Crows appeared at the "Slaughterhouse," though there was to be a banquet at eight o'clock. With true boyhood appetite, they felt, that a bun in the hand is worth two in the future; and besides, what self-respecting boy would refuse to take care of two meals where he had been in the habit of only one? It would be flying in the face of Providence.

Now, Sawed-Off, who, as you know, was paying his way through the Academy, earned his board by waiting on the table. He had an excellent chance, therefore, for tucking under the plates of all the Crows a note which read:

The Crows will meet at the Gymnasium after dark and go to Moore's resteront in a body.

N.B. Keep this conphedential.

To half a dozen of the notes these words were added:

You are wanted at the Gymnasium at a 1/4 to 7 to serve on a cummitty. Be there sharp.

The Crows naturally did not know the handwriting of every one of their number, and did not recognize that the notes were of History's manufacture. They were a little mystified, but suspected nothing.

The Dozen gathered in full force at the gymnasium as soon after supper as they could without attracting attention. Sawed-Off, who had the keys of the building, then posted a strong guard at the heavy door, and explained and rehearsed his plan in detail.

At a quarter of seven the six who had been requested to serve on the "cummitty" came in a body, and finding the door of the gymnasium fastened, knocked gently. They heard a low voice from the inside ask:

"Who's there?"

And they gave their names.

"Do you all belong to the Crows?"

Of course they answered: "Yes."

They were then admitted in single file into the vestibule, which was absolutely dark. As each one stepped in, a hand was laid on each arm and he was requested in a whisper to "Come this way." Between his two escorts he stumbled along through the dark, until suddenly the door was heard to close, and the key to snap in the lock; then immediately his mouth was covered with a boxing-glove (borrowed from the gymnasium), his feet were kicked out from under him, and before he knew it his two courteous escorts had their knees in the small of his back and were tying him hand and foot.

One or two of the Crows put up a good fight, and managed to squirm away from the gagging boxing-gloves and let out a yelp; but the heavy door of the gymnasium kept the secret mum, and there was something so surprising about the ambuscade in the dark that the Dozen soon had the half-dozen securely gagged and fettered. Then they were toted like meal-bags up the stairs of the chapel, and on up and up into the loft, and into the bell-tower. There they were laid out on the floor, and their angry eyes discovered that they were left to the tender mercies of Reddy and Heady. The only light was a lantern, and Reddy and Heady each carried an Indian club (also borrowed from the gymnasium), and with this they promised to tap any of the Crows on the head if he made the slightest disturbance.

The ten other Lakerimmers hastened down to the ground floor again just in time to welcome the earliest of the Crows to arrive. This was a fellow who had always believed up to this time in being punctual; but he was very much discouraged in this excellent habit by the reception he got at the gymnasium. For, on saying, in answer to the voice behind the door, that he had the honor of being a Crow, he was ushered in and treated to the same knock-down hospitality that had been meted out to the Committee of Six.

The wisdom of using the words "after dark" on the forged invitation was soon made evident, because the Crows did not come all at once, but gradually, by ones and twos, every few minutes between seven and half-past. In this way eleven more of the Crows were taken in. These were bundled down into the dark cellar, and stowed away in groups of three or four in three of the compartments of the cellar, each with a guard armed with a lantern and an Indian club.

By a quarter to eight the Lakerimmers believed that they had accounted for all of the twenty-four Crows except the president, MacManus. Six had left town, six were stowed aloft in the cupola, and eleven were, as B.J., the sailor, expressed it, "below hatches." Five of the Dozen were posted as guards, and that left seven to go out upon the war-path and bring in the chief of the Ravens.

He had felt his dignity too great to permit him to take two meals in one evening; besides, he was very solemnly engaged in preparing a speech to deliver at the banquet; and his task was very difficult, since he had to make a great splurge about the glories of the campaign, without reminding every one of the inglorious result of the attempt to haze the Dozen.

No note had been sent to him, and it seemed necessary to concoct some scheme to decoy him from his room, because any attempt to drag him out would probably bring one of the professors down upon the scene.

Tug had an idea; and leaving three of the seven to guard the door, he took the other three and hurried to the dormitory where MacManus roomed, and threw pebbles against his window. The chief Crow soon stuck his head out and peered down into the dark, asking what was the matter. A voice that he did not recognize—or suspect—came out of the blackness to inform him that some of the Crows were in trouble at the gymnasium, and he must come at once.

After waiting a moment they saw his light go out and heard his feet upon the stairs, for he had lost no time in stuffing into his pocket the notes for his address at the banquet, and flying to the rescue of the captive banqueters. As soon as he stepped out of the door of the dormitory, History's knit muffler was wrapped around his mouth, and he was seized and hustled along toward the gymnasium.

Tug felt a strong desire to inflict punishment then and there upon the man who had tortured him when he was helpless, but that was not according to the Lakerim code. Another idea, however, which was quite as cruel, but had the saving grace of fun, suggested itself to him, and he said to the others, when they had reached the gymnasium:

"I'll tell you what, fellows—"

"What?" said the reunited seven, in one breath.

"Instead of putting MacManus with the rest of 'em, let's take him along and make him look on while we eat the Crows' banquet."

"Make him 'eat crow' himself, you mean," suggested Jumbo.

The idea appealed strongly to the Lakerimmers, who, after all, were human, and couldn't help, now and then, enjoying the misery of those who had made them miserable. While MacManus was securely held by two of the Dozen, Sawed-Off and Tug went to the cupola to summon the Twins. The knots with which the "cummitty" were tied were carefully looked to and strengthened, and then the Lakerimmers withdrew from the cupola, taking the lantern with them, dragging a heavy trap-door over their heads as they descended the ladder, and then taking the ladder away and laying it on the floor. They hurried down the stairs then, and went to the cellar, looking alive again to the fetters of the Crows, and closing and barring the heavy wooden doors between the compartments as securely as they could.

They came up the stairs, and put down and bolted the cellar door, and moved upon it with great difficulty the parallel bars with their iron supports, from the gymnasium, and several 25-pound dumb-bells, as well as the heavy vaulting-horse. Reddy and Heady were in favor also of blocking up the narrow little windows set high in the walls of the cellar, well over the head of the tallest of the Crows; but Tug said that these windows were necessary for ventilation, and History was reminded of the Black Hole of Calcutta, so it was decided to leave the windows open for the sake of the air, even if it did give the Crows a loophole of possible escape.

"There's no fun in an affair of this kind if the other side hasn't even a chance," said Tug; and this appealed to the Lakerim theory of sport.


So they all left the gymnasium with its prisoners, and Sawed-Off locked the door firmly behind him. Then they went at a double-quick for Moore's restaurant and the waiting banquet, which, they suspected, was by this time growing cold.

When MacManus left his room he had thrown on a long ulster overcoat with a very high collar. When this was turned up about his ears it completely hid the gag around his mouth, and Tug and Sawed-Off locked arms with him and hurried him along the poorly lighted streets of Kingston without fear of detection from any passer-by. MacManus dragged his feet and refused to go for a time, till Tug and Sawed-Off hauled him over such rough spots that he preferred to walk. Then, without warning, when they were crossing a slippery place he pushed his feet in opposite directions and knocked Sawed-Off's and Tug's feet out from under them. But inasmuch as all three of them fell in a heap, with him at the bottom, he decided that this was a poor policy.

The Dozen were soon at Moore's restaurant; and there, at the door, they found waiting one of the Crows whom they had forgotten to take into account. He was the fat boy whom Tug and History had seen hazed just before their turn came, on the eventful night at Roden's Knoll.

Having been hazed, and having been taxed, this boy who was known as "Fatty" Warner, was entitled to banquet with the Crows; but he had been invited out to a bigger supper than he could get at the "Slaughter-house," and so he did not receive his note, and escaped the fate of the Crows who had been put in cold storage in the gymnasium.

B.J. and Bobbles, however, took him to one side and told him that they were afraid they would have to tie him up and put him in a corner with MacManus. But the tears came into his eyes at the thought of sitting and looking at a feast in which he could not take part, and he reminded the Lakerimmers that he had had no share in the attack on Tug and History, and had done nothing to interfere with their escape from Roden's Knoll, and besides, he had been compelled to pay out his last cent of spending-money to the Crows for this banquet: So the Lakerimmers decided to invite him to join them in eating the feast of the enemy.

Mr. Moore, the proprietor of the village restaurant, had a very bad memory for faces, and when the Lakerimmers came into the room where the table was spread, and told him to hurry up with the banquet, it never occurred to him to ask for a certificate of character from the guests. He was surprised, however, that there were only twelve men where he had provided for eighteen or more; but Jumbo said, with a twinkle in his eye:

"The rest of them couldn't come; so we'll eat their share."

The Lakerimmers grinned at this. Mr. Moore suspected that there was some joke which he could not understand; but the ways of the Academy boys were always past his comprehension, so he and the waiters came bustling in with the first course of just such a banquet as would please a crowd of academicians, and would give an older person a stomach-ache for six weeks.

Besides, the wise Mr. Moore knew the little habit students have of postponing the payment of their bills, and he had insisted upon being paid in advance. Poor MacManus suddenly remembered how he had doled out the funds of the Crows for this very spread, and he almost sobbed as he thought of the hard time he had spent in collecting the money and preparing the menu—and all for the enjoyment of the hated Lakerimmers, who had already spoiled the final hazing of the year, and were now giggling and gobbling the precious banquet provided at such expense! Mr. Moore wondered at the presence of such a sad-looking guest at the feast, and wondered why he insisted on abstaining from the monstrous delicacies that made the tables groan; but he reasoned that it was none of his affair, and asked no questions.

Before they had eaten much the Lakerimmers grew as uncomfortable over the torment they were inflicting on poor MacManus as the poor MacManus was himself. And Tug explained to him in a low voice that if he would promise on his solemn honor not to make any disturbance they would be glad to have him as a guest instead of a prisoner. MacManus objected bitterly for a long time, but the enticing odor drove him almost crazy, and the sight of the renegade fat boy, who was fairly making a cupboard of himself, finally convinced the president that it was better to take his ill fortune with a good grace. So he nodded assent to the promises Tug exacted of him, his muffler and overcoat were removed, and he was invited to make himself at home; and his misery was promptly forgotten in the rattle of dishes and the clatter of laughter and song with which the Dozen reveled in the feast of its ancient enemies.

1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse