THE ROVER BOYS IN THE MOUNTAINS
or, A Hunt for Fun and Fortune
ARTHUR M. WINFIELD
Author of "THE ROVER BOYS AT SCHOOL," "THE ROVER BOYS ON THE OCEAN," "THE ROVER BOYS IN THE JUNGLE," "THE ROVER BOYS OUT WEST," "THE ROVER BOYS ON THE GREAT LAKES," ETC.
BY THE SAME AUTHOR
THE ROVER BOYS ON THE RIVER; Or, The Search for the Missing Houseboat.
THE ROVER BOYS IN CAMP; Or, The Rivals of Pine Island.
THE ROVER BOYS ON LAND AND SEA; Or, The Crusoes of Seven Islands.
THE ROVER BOYS IN THE MOUNTAINS; Or, A Hunt for Fun and Fortune.
THE ROVER BOYS ON THE GREAT LAKES; Or, The Secret of the Island Cave.
THE ROVER BOYS OUT WEST; Or, The Search for a Lost Mine.
THE ROVER BOYS IN THE JUNGLE; Or, Stirring Adventures in Africa.
THE ROVER BOYS ON THE OCEAN; Or, A Chase for a Fortune.
THE ROVER BOYS AT SCHOOL; Or, The Cadets of Putnam Hall.
12mo, finely illustrated and bound in cloth. Price, per volume, 60 cents.
I. THE BOYS OF PUTNAM HALL
II. A GLIMPSE AT THE PAST
III. TOM ON A TOUR OF DISCOVERY
IV. DORMITORY NUMBER TWO
V. A SCENE IN THE SCHOOLROOM
VI. NEWS OF AN OLD ENEMY
VII. SOMETHING OF A SURPRISE
VIII. JASPER GRINDER IS DISMISSED
IX. A RACE ON THE ICE, AND WHAT FOLLOWED
X. THE END OF THE TERM
XI. HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
XII. THE BRASS-LINED MONEY CASKET
XIII. THE HEART OF THE ADIRONDACKS
XIV. THE START UP THE RIVER
XV. WILD TURKEYS
XVI. ON THE WRONG TRAIL
XVII. AN UNEXPECTED DISCOVERY
XVIII. IN THE CAMP OF THE ENEMY
XIX. DICK AND THE WILDCAT
XX. BEAR POND AT LAST
XXI. A PAIR OF PRISONERS
XXII. JASPER GRINDER TRIES TO MAKE TERMS
XXIII. THE BLACK BEAR
XXIV. TOGETHER AGAIN
XXV. SNOWED IN
XXVI. AN UNWELCOME COMRADE
XXVII. BRINGING DOWN TWO BEARS
XXVIII. TWO FAILURES
XXIX. JASPER GRINDER AND THE WOLVES
XXX. A SUCCESSFUL SEARCH—CONCLUSION
My dear boys: "The Rover Boys in the Mountains" is a complete story in itself, but forms the sixth volume of the "Rover Boys Series for Young Americans."
This series of books for wide-awake American lads was begun several years ago with the publication of "The Rover Boys at School." At that time the author had in mind to write not more than three volumes, relating the adventures of Dick, Tom, and Sam Rover at Putnam Hall, "On the Ocean," and "In the Jungle," but the publication of these books immediately called for a fourth, "The Rover Boys Out West," and then a fifth, "The Rover Boys on the Great Lakes." Still my young friends did not appear to be satisfied, and so I now present to them this sixth volume, which relates the stirring adventures of the three Rover boys in the Adirondacks, whither they had gone to solve the mystery of a certain brass-lined money casket found by them on an island in Lake Huron.
In writing this volume I have had a double purpose in view; not only to pen a tale which might prove pleasing to all boys, but one which might likewise give them a fair idea of the wonderful resources and natural beauty of this section of the United States. Ours is a wonderful country, and none of us can learn too much concerning it.
Again thanking my young friends for their kindness in the past, I place this volume in their hands, trusting they will find it as much to their liking as those which have preceded it.
Affectionately and sincerely yours,
ARTHUR M. WINFIELD.
THE ROVER BOYS IN THE MOUNTAINS.
THE BOYS OF PUTNAM HALL.
"Hurrah, boys, the lake is frozen over! We'll be sure to have good skating by to-morrow afternoon!"
"That's fine news, Tom," came from Sam Rover. "I've been fairly aching for a skate ever since that cold snap of two weeks ago."
"We'll have to start up some skating matches if good skating does really turn up," put in Dick Rover, who had just joined his two brothers in the gymnasium attached to Putnam Hall. "Don't you remember those matches we had last year?"
"Certainly, Dick," answered Tom Rover. "Didn't I win one of the silver medals?"
"Gracious! but what a lot has happened since then," said Sam, who was the youngest of the trio. "We've gotten rid of nearly all of our enemies, and old Crabtree is in jail and can't bother Mrs. Stanhope or Dora any more."
"We didn't get rid of Dan Baxter," remarked Dick. "He gave us the slip nicely."
"Do you think he'll dare to bother us again, Dick?" questioned Sam anxiously.
"I hope not, but I'm not certain, Sam. The Baxters are a bad lot, as all of us know, and as Dan grows older he'll be just as wicked as his father, and maybe worse."
"What a pity a fellow like Dan can't turn over a new leaf," came from Tom Rover. "He's bright enough in his way, and would make a first-rate chap."
"It's not in the blood," went on Dick. "We'll have to keep our eyes open, that's all. If anything, Dan is probably more angry at us than ever, for he believes we were the sole means of his father being put in prison."
"Old Baxter deserved all he got," murmured Sam.
"So he did."
"Well, if Dan Baxter ever bothers me he'll catch it warm," came from Tom. "I shan't attempt to mince matters with him. Everybody at this school knows what a bully he was, and they know, too, what a rascal he's been since he left. So I say, let him beware!" And so bringing the conversation to an end for the time being, Tom Rover ran across the gymnasium floor, leaped up and grasped a turning-bar stationed there, and was soon going through a number of exercises recently taught to him by the new "gym" teacher.
"Gracious, but Tom is getting to be a regular circus gymnast!" cried Sam, as he watched his brother in admiration. "Just see what beautiful turns he is making."
"Humph! that aint so wonderful," came from someone at Sam's elbow, and turning the youngest Rover found himself close to Billy Tubbs, a short, stocky youth who had entered Putnam Hall at the opening of the fall term. Tubbs was a boy of rich parentage, and while he was not particularly a bully, he considered himself of great importance and vastly superior to the majority of his associates.
"All right, Tubby; if it isn't so wonderful, just you jump up and do it," returned Sam coldly.
"Look here, how many times have I told you not to call me Tubby!" burst out the rich youth. "I don't like it at all."
"Then what shall we call you?" asked Sam innocently. "Tubblets?"
"No, I don't want you to call me Tubblets either. My name is Tubbs—William Philander Tubbs."
"Gosh! Am I to say all that whenever I want to address you?" demanded Sam, with a pretended gasp for breath.
"I don't see why you shouldn't. It's my name."
"But Tubby—I mean Tubblets—no, Willander Philliam Tubbs—the name is altogether too long. Why, supposin' you were standing on a railroad track looking east, and an express train was coming from the west at the rate of seventy-five miles an hour, and it got to within a hundred yards of you when I discovered your truly horrible peril, and I should start to warn you of the aforesaid truly horrible peril, take my word for it, before I could utter such an elongated personal handle as that, you'd be struck and distributed along that track for a distance of a mile and a quarter. No, Tubby, my conscience wouldn't allow it—really it wouldn't." And Sam shook his head seriously.
"See here, what are you giving me?" roared Tubbs wrathfully. "Don't you worry about my standing on a railroad track and asking you to call me off." And then he added, with a red face, as a laugh went up from half a dozen students standing near: "William Philander Tubbs is my name, and I shan't answer to any other after this."
"Good for you Washtubs!" came from a boy in the rear of the crowd.
"I'd stick to that resolution, by all means, Buttertubs," came from the opposite side of the crowd.
And then one older youth, who was given to writing songs, began to sing softly:
"Rub-a-dub-dub! One man in a tub, And who do you think it is, It's William Philander, Who's got up his dander, And isn't he mad! Gee whizz!"
The doggerel, gotten up on the spur of the moment, struck the fancy of fully a score of boys, big and little, and in an instant all were singing it over and over again, at the top of their lungs, and at this those who did not sing began to laugh uproariously.
"I say, what's it all about?" demanded Tom, as he slid from the turning-bar.
"Songbird Powell has composed a comic opera in Tubby's honor," answered Larry Colby, one of the Rover boys' chums. "I guess he's going to have it put on the stage after the holidays, with Tubby as leading man."
"See here, I won't have this!" roared the rich youth, waving his hand wildly first at one boy and then another. "I don't want you to make up any songs about me."
"Songbird won't charge you anything," put in Fred Garrison, another of the students. "He's a true poet, and writes for nothing. You ought to feel highly honored."
"Make a speech of thanks, that's a good fellow," put in George Granbury, another student.
"It's an outrage!" shouted Tubbs, his face growing redder each instant. "I won't stand it."
"All right, we won't charge you for sitting on it," came from the back of the crowd.
"My right name is——"
"Barrel, but they call me Tubbs for short," finished another student. "Hurrah, Tubby is discovered at last."
"Don't blush, Washtub! you don't look half as pretty as when you're pale."
"If you feel warm, Buttertub, go out and sit on the thin ice. It will soon cool you off," came from Fred Garrison.
"I'll cool you off, Garry!" burst out the rich youth, and made a wild dash at his tormentor. But somebody put out a foot and the tormented boy stumbled headlong, at which the crowd set up another shout, and then sang louder than ever,
"Rub-a-dub-dub! One man in a tub!"
"I say, who tripped me up!" gasped Tubbs, as soon as he could scramble up. "Tell me who did it, and I'll soon settle with him."
"Who rolled over the buttertub?" asked Tom solemnly. "One peanut reward for the first correct answer to this absorbing puzzle. Please don't all raise your hands at once."
"I believe you did it, Tom Rover!" bellowed the rich youth.
"I? Never, Tubby, my dear boy. I never rolled over a buttertub in my life. You've got the wrong number. Kindly ring the bell next door."
"Then it was Sam, and I'll fix him for it, see if I don't!"
"No, it wasn't Sam. He never touched a washtub in his life."
"I say it was Sam," cried Tubbs, who was almost beside himself with rage. "And I'm going to teach him a lesson. There, Sam Rover, how do you like that?"
As the rich youth finished, he caught the youngest Rover by the shoulder with his left hand and with his right gave Sam a slanting blow on the cheek.
"Stop! I didn't trip you!" exclaimed Sam; and then as Tubbs aimed another blow at him he ducked and broke loose and hit out in return. His blow was harder and more truly aimed than he had anticipated, and it took Tubbs directly on the nose. A spurt of blood followed, accompanied by a yell of pain, and the rich youth fell back.
"Oh! oh! My nose!"
"You brought it on yourself," retorted Sam. "I didn't——"
"Stop! stop! Boys, what does this mean?" came in a sudden stern voice, and in a moment more the two combatants found themselves confronted by Jasper Grinder, a new teacher. "Fighting, eh? How often, must you be told that such disgraceful conduct is not allowed here? You come with me, and I'll make an example of both of you."
And in a moment more the two lads found themselves prisoners in Jasper Grinder's strong grasp and being marched out of the gymnasium toward the school building proper.
A GLIMPSE AT THE PAST.
As old readers of this series of books know, the Rover boys were three in number, Dick being the oldest, fun-loving Tom next, and small but sturdy Sam bringing up the rear of a trio of as bright and up-to-date a set of American lads as could be found anywhere.
The home of the lads was with their father, Anderson Rover, and their Uncle Randolph and Aunt Martha, on a beautiful farm at Valley Brook, in the heart of New York State. From this farm they had been sent to Putnam Hall, a semi-military institute of learning situated near Cedarville, on Cayuga Lake. This was while their father had mysteriously disappeared while on an exploring tour into the heart of Africa.
At Putnam Hall the Rover boys made a number of friends, some of whom have already been mentioned in these pages, and they likewise made several enemies. Chief among the enemies were Josiah Crabtree, a dictatorial teacher, and Dan Baxter, a bully who had done his best to make them "knuckle under" to him.
Since those first days at school many changes had taken place; so many, in fact, that but a few can be noted here. Crabtree had been discharged, and was now in prison for trying to hypnotize a lady into marrying him. This lady was Mrs. Stanhope, the mother of Dora Stanhope, who lived in the vicinity of Putnam Hall, and a girl of whom Dick Rover thought a good deal.
It had not taken the Rover boys long to discover that not only the dictatorial old teacher, but also the bully, Dan Baxter, were rascals, and, what was more, that Arnold Baxter, the father of Dan, was an old enemy to their father. Following this had come a journey to Africa and into the jungle in search of Mr. Rover, and this mission accomplished, the Rover boys had gone West to establish a mining claim in which their father was interested. This claim was disputed by the Baxters, and when the Rovers won out and went for a pleasure trip on the Great Lakes, the Baxters did their best to bring Dick, Tom, and Sam to grief. But instead of accomplishing their purpose they failed once more, and Arnold Baxter was returned to the prison from which he had escaped some months before. What had become of Dan Baxter nobody knew, but the Rover boys were soon to learn, as we will see in the chapters which follow.
After their stirring adventures on the Great Lakes, and especially on Needle Point Island in Lake Huron, the Rover boys were glad enough to get back to dear old Putnam Hall and to their studies, even though the latter were something of a "grind," as Tom declared. They all loved Captain Victor Putnam, the owner of the institution, and it may be added here that the captain thought as much of the Rovers as he did of any of the scholars under him, and that was a good deal.
The coming of Jasper Grinder as a new under-teacher was a shock to many of the boys at the school. The principal teacher under Captain Putnam was Professor George Strong, who was stern but fair, and almost as well liked as the captain himself, and there were now several others, all of whom were on a good footing with the scholars. What had induced the captain to take in such a dictatorial and harsh master as Jasper Grinder was a mystery which nobody could explain.
As a matter of fact, Grinder had come into the Hall under a misrepresentation. He was from the Northwest, and claimed to have been a professor at a well-known California college. It was true he had once taught at this college, but his record was far from being as satisfactory as Captain Putnam had been led to believe. It was true he was a learned man,—quite the opposite of Josiah Crabtree, who had been wise only in looks,—but it was also true that he was a high-strung, passionate man, given to strange fits of anger, and that he was a miser, never spending a cent that was not absolutely required of him.
"I say, let me go!" cried Sam, as Jasper Grinder almost dragged him across the parade ground between the gymnasium and the school building. "I am not to blame for this row."
"Silence! I won't listen to a word until we are in the office," commanded the irate teacher.
"He started the whole thing," came from Tubbs. "He called me Tubby, and got the crowd to singing a song about me."
"I had nothing to do with the song, and all the boys have called you Tubby since you came here," went on Sam.
"Be quiet, I tell you!" cried Jasper Grinder, and clutched the arm of each so tightly that Tubbs set up a yell of pain. "I am master here, and I will show you how to mind."
At these words Sam's heart gave a sudden drop. It was Friday afternoon, and the next day would be, as usual, a holiday. Taking advantage of this fact Professor Strong had gone to Buffalo to visit a sick relative residing there, and only an hour before Captain Putnam had been driven away behind his team to visit an old army friend living at Fordview, twelve miles away. Professor Strong would not return until Monday morning, and it was more than likely the captain would remain away over night. During this interval Jasper Grinder would be in absolute charge of the academy and the pupils.
In a few minutes the teacher had led the way into Captain Putnam's office, and with a final pinch of their arms, which made Tubbs cry out once more with pain, he flung the pair away from him.
"Don't you know it is disgraceful to fight?" he thundered.
"We weren't fighting—that is, not exactly," said Tubbs meekly.
"Silence! I saw the whole affair. Why, your nose is still bleeding."
"I don't care. It was Rover's fault, Mr. Grinder. He started the boys, and they all began to make fun of me. He wouldn't stop——"
"And then you fought like a pair of young tigers. Disgraceful! I will have to make an example of both of you."
"I'd like to see Captain Putnam about the matter," said Sam boldly.
At these words Jasper Grinder fairly trembled with suppressed anger. "The captain is not here, and I shall deal with you as you deserve," he said.
Tubbs sank down on a chair and began to attend to his nose with his handkerchief. Sam remained standing, but his whole manner showed that he did not consider he was being treated fairly.
"What both of you boys deserve is a good thrashing," said the teacher, after a pause.
At this Sam looked his surprise. Thrashing was not permitted at the Hall. The worst that could happen to a student was to place him in solitary confinement over night, after a supper of bread and water.
"As I am not permitted by the rules to thrash you, I shall put you in the stone cell over night," went on Jasper Grinder.
"Together?" questioned Tubbs, from behind his blood-stained handkerchief.
"No. You shall go to the cell; and Rover shall be placed in the empty storeroom next to it."
"The cell is ice cold, and so is the storeroom," protested Sam.
"It is not my fault that you must be placed there, and you will have to put up with the cold," was the curt answer.
"I shan't stay in a cold room!" cried Sam. "It's not fair."
"You shall, and I'll put you there myself!" ejaculated Jasper Grinder. "Tubbs, don't dare to stir until I return."
So speaking, the unreasonable teacher caught hold of Sam once more, and despite the youngest Rover's struggles hustled him out of the office and through a long hallway, at the end of which was located the storeroom he had mentioned. The key to the room was in the lock.
"Now stay there until you are willing to behave yourself," said Jasper Grinder, and shoved Sam into the apartment. "For your impudence to me you shall go without your supper to-night."
"That remains to be seen," replied Sam, but in such a low voice that the teacher did not hear. Then the door was closed and locked, and Jasper Grinder hurried away with the key in his pocket, to make poor Tubbs a prisoner in the stone cell.
"Here's a pretty mess, and no mistake," thought Sam, as he sank on a bench, the only article of furniture the room contained. "I'm being treated worse than Tom was treated by old Crabtree when first we came to the Hall. And all because I called Tubby by his nickname! If this keeps on a fellow won't dare to breathe out loud when Grinder is around. What a passionate fellow he is at times! He glares at a fellow as if he was going to eat you up!"
While Sam remained on the bench he heard footsteps in the hallway and a howling protest from Tubbs. Then he heard the rich youth thrown into the stone cell next to the storeroom and left to his fate.
It was nipping cold, and, even with the window tightly closed and nailed over with slats, Sam could not endure it to remain on the bench long. Leaping up he began to stamp his feet and slap his arms across his chest to get them warm. Soon he heard Tubbs doing the same thing.
"I guess he's worse off than I am," thought the youngest Rover. "That stone cell hasn't any bench in it any more, and it must be twice as cold and damp as this room. It's a shame to put anyone there in this freezing weather. I don't believe Captain Putnam would stand for it if he was here."
He tried to speak to Tubbs, but the wall between was too thick, and he soon gave up the idea. Then he continued to stamp his feet and slap his arms, and even went through an imaginary prize fight, in order to warm up. It was now growing dark, and with the darkness the atmosphere of the storeroom became colder and colder.
TOM ON A TOUR OF DISCOVERY.
Poor Sam was removed from the gymnasium so quickly that neither Dick nor Tom had time to protest, and when they reached the main door of the school building they found it shut and locked in their faces.
"Say, this is an outrage," burst out Tom. "Sam wasn't to blame for that fight. He didn't trip Tubby up."
"I know he didn't," put in Fred Garrison, who had come up also. "It was Larry Mason. But I shan't give Larry away."
"Neither will I."
"Mr. Grinder always carries matters with a high hand when the captain is away," put in Dick. "And he gets red-hot at the least little thing."
"He doesn't deserve to be a teacher here," came from George Granbury, who had followed the others. "To my way of thinking, he's worse than old Crabtree was, even though he is perhaps better educated."
"I'd like to know what he is going to do with Sam," said Dick, with a serious look on his face. "Sam has made such a good record this term I hate to see it broken."
"He'll do something to punish 'em both," came from Fred. "It will be too bad, though, if he puts 'em in the stone cell. They'll freeze to death such a night as this is going to be."
"I won't allow it," ejaculated Dick. "Why, that would be inhuman!"
"I'm going in by the back way and find out what's going on," said Tom, and promptly disappeared around the corner of the Hall. He was soon inside the building, but to his chagrin found every door leading to Captain Putnam's private apartments and to the stone cell and the storeroom locked. Having gone through the mess-rooms and through several of the classrooms, he rejoined the others, who had gathered around the fire in what was called the students' general living room,—an apartment set aside during cold weather solely for the boys' comfort, where they might read, study, play quiet games, or do similar things in order to make themselves feel at home.
"How did you make out?" was the question immediately put.
"Made out, and that's all," said Tom gloomily.
"What do you mean?" came from Dick.
"Every blessed door is locked, and so are the windows. I can't get within two rooms of the office."
"Did you hear anything?" asked George.
"Yes; I heard a noise like somebody stamping."
"Where did it come from?"
"I think it came from the stone cell. But it sounded like somebody stamping on wood."
"Perhaps it came from the empty storeroom," cried Dick. "More than likely Mr. Grinder has placed Sam and Tubby there. I wish he'd come here. I'd question him."
"Your wish is gratified," whispered George. "Here he comes now!"
The door at the far end of the room had opened, and now Jasper Grinder came forth in a hurry. He was about to pass to another room at the rear of the school when Dick stopped him.
"Mr. Grinder, may I ask what you have done with Sam?" he asked.
"I have placed him in confinement until Captain Putnam returns," was the snappy answer.
"Did you put him in the stone cell?"
"It is not for you to question me, Rover."
"In this cold weather it isn't fit for anybody to be in that stone cell. Sam may catch his death of cold."
"I am the best judge of my own actions, Rover, and need no advice from you. Your brother has broken the rules of this school, and must suffer for so doing."
"It's inhuman to make a fellow freeze," burst out Tom. "I don't believe Captain Putnam would do that."
"Not another word from either of you," came sharply from the teacher. "Your brother will not freeze to death, but the cold may teach him a useful lesson."
"If he gets sick, I'll get my father to hold you legally responsible," went on Tom.
At these words the teacher turned slightly pale, a vision of a lawsuit with damages to pay floating across his miserly mind.
"To ease your mind Rover, let me say I'll see to it that he doesn't get sick," he said, and before Tom or Dick could question him further he passed out of the room.
"If he isn't the worst yet!" burst out Fred, who had listened with interest to what was said.
"I shan't stand it," returned Tom. "Will you, Dick?"
Dick, older and more thoughtful, mused for a moment.
"I'd certainly like to help Sam," he said. "But we must be careful and not get into trouble with Captain Putnam."
"I'm going to find my way to the door of the cell somehow," went on Tom.
"Old Grinder left that door unlocked when he came out," said George, who had joined them.
"Good! I'm going through before he comes back."
As good as his word, Tom slipped past the various tables at which the students were sitting, until he reached the door which connected with Captain Putnam's private apartments.
Usually this portion of the Hall was forbidden ground to the scholars. But Tom had been inside the rooms a number of times, so knew the way well. Passing through a private sitting room and a small library, he came to a narrow hall connecting with the main hall, at the end of which were the stone cell and the empty storeroom.
He was just about to step into the main hall when he heard somebody coming down from the floor above. The party was Mrs. Green, the housekeeper, a good-natured lady upon whom Tom had played many a joke in the past.
"Gosh! I mustn't be discovered!" he muttered, and looked around for some place to hide. Under the staircase was a recess containing a number of hooks with cloaks and overcoats, and into this he crowded, drawing one of the overcoats so as to completely cover the upper portion of his body.
Hardly had he gained the hiding place when Mrs. Green reached the lower hallway. Tom heard her pause at the foot of the stairs, strike a match, and light the big swinging lamp hanging from overhead.
"I might as well mend that overcoat now, while the captain is away," Tom heard her murmur to herself. "It's only a buttonhole that's torn out, and a tailor would charge him four times what it's worth—and he always so good at Christmas-time!"
"She's looking out for her present," thought Tom, with a grin. "But that's none of my affair. If only she isn't after this overcoat!"
He heard the housekeeper approach the recess and pause for a moment in front of it. He hardly dared to breathe, fearing that he would surely be discovered.
"Well, I declare, if he hasn't gone and worn the very overcoat itself!" he heard Mrs. Green cry. "Just like him, and two good coats a-hanging here. Well, I suppose it's the warmest he's got, and he'll have a cold ride back, especially if he returns to-night." And so speaking Mrs. Green hurried away.
"A narrow shave, and no mistake," murmured Tom to himself, and listened until he heard a distant door close. Then all was quiet, save the distant murmur of the student's voices, coming from the sitting room.
Without losing more time, Tom left the recess and hurried to the door of the stone cell.
"Sam!" he called out softly. "Are you in there?"
"No; I'm in here," came in the voice of Tubbs. "And—I'm almost frozen to—to—death." The last words with a chattering of teeth that told only too plainly how the rich youth was suffering.
"Sorry for you, Tubby, really I am. But where is Sam?"
"In the—the storeroom. Oh, Rover, won't you please ask Mr. Grinder to let me out? I'll freeze to death here, I know I will!"
"I'll do what I can. But he won't let you out. He isn't that kind of a fellow."
"You might buy him off, Rover. I've heard he's a regular miser, and I'll give you five dollars of my Christmas money if he'll let me go."
"I'll see what I can do after I've talked to Sam." And so speaking Tom hurried to the door of the storeroom.
"Tom, is it really you?" cried the youngest Rover joyfully.
"Yes. How are you making out?"
"Horribly. I believe my feet and ears are already frozen!"
"Grinder is a beast to put you in here, Sam."
"I know that well enough. He won't give me any supper, I'm afraid."
"Then I'll try to get some supper to you."
"Is the key of this door on a hook outside?"
"No. If it was I'd have the door open long ago."
Sam gave a deep sigh, and then began to dance around once more to keep warm.
"Perhaps I can find a key to fit this lock," went on Tom. "I know there are keys in some of the other doors."
He ran off and soon returned with four keys, which he tried, one after another. The third was a fair fit, and with an effort the bolt of the lock was forced back.
"Hurrah! the door's open!" exclaimed Tom. "Now you can go where you please."
"Then you wouldn't stay here?" questioned Sam anxiously.
"Not much! I'd hide in one of the dormitories, and I wouldn't show myself until Captain Putnam gets back. I'll see to it that you get something to eat, and when the captain returns you can tell him that if you had remained in this place all night you would have been frozen to death."
Sam was willing enough to take Tom's advice, and was soon in the hallway. Then the door was locked again.
"It's heartless to leave poor Tubby in that cell," said Tom. "Let's get him out too."
"All right—if you can find a key to fit the lock."
Losing no time, the brothers tried one key after another in the lock to the door of the stone cell.
"Who's that?" came in a chatter from Tubbs.
"Tom Rover," was the answer. "I've just released Sam, and now we are going to release you, if we can."
"Good for you Rover."
"There she goes!" cried Tom a few seconds later, and in a moment more the door was opened and Tubbs stood in the hallway with the Rover boys.
Tubbs was about to say something, when Sam suddenly caught him by the arm.
"Hush!" he whispered. "Somebody is coming! I hope it isn't old Grinder!"
DORMITORY NUMBER TWO.
For the moment none of the three students knew what to do. They felt that if the approaching personage should be Jasper Grinder there would certainly be "a warm time of it," to say the least.
Yet the approaching man was not the teacher, but Peleg Snuggers, the man of all work around the Hall, a good-natured individual, well liked by nearly all the students. Snuggers was in the habit of taking many a joke from the scholars, yet he rarely retaliated, contenting himself with the saying that "boys will be boys."
"It's Snuggers!" whispered Sam, after a painful pause. "What shall we do?"
"Perhaps we can get him to keep quiet," returned Tom, also in a low voice. "He's a pretty good sort."
"Do—don't trust him," put in Tubbs, in a trembling voice. "If I'm put back in that cell I'll die; I know I will!"
"I have it," said Tom, struck by a sudden idea. "Into the storeroom with you, quick!
"But he may be coming after me!" said Sam.
"Never mind—I'll fix it. Be quick, or the game will be up!"
On tiptoe the three students hurried into the storeroom and Tom shut the door noiselessly. Then he slipped the key he still held into the lock and turned it.
"Now groan, Sam," he whispered. "Pretend to be nearly dead, and ask Peleg to bring Grinder here."
Catching the idea, Sam began to moan and groan most dismally, in the midst of which Peleg Snuggers came up.
"Poor boy, I reckon as how he's nearly stiff from the cold," murmured Snuggers. "And this bread and water won't warm him up nohow. I've most a mind to bring him some hot tea on the sly, and a sandwich, too."
The general utility man tried to insert a key in the lock, but failed on account of the key on the inside.
"Oh! oh!" moaned Sam. "Help! help!"
"What's the row?" questioned Snuggers.
"Is that you, Snuggers?"
"Yes, Master Rover."
"I'm most frozen to death! My feet and ears are frozen stiff already!"
"It's a shame!"
"Tell Mr. Grinder to come here."
"He won't come, I'm afraid. He just sent me with some bread and water for you and for Master Tubbs."
"Water? Do you want me to turn into ice? Oh, Snuggers, please send him. I know I can't stand this half an hour longer. I'll be a corpse!"
"All right, I'll fetch him," answered Snuggers. And setting down the pitcher of water and loaf of bread he had been carrying he hurried off.
"Now is our time!" whispered Tom, as soon as he was certain the man of all work was gone.
"But which way shall we go?" questioned Sam
"Follow me, and I'll show you."
Leaving the storeroom, Tom led the way through the semi-dark hallway and up the stairs. At the rear of the upper hall was a bedroom reserved for the captain's private guests.
"Come in here for the present," said Tom. "And when I tap on the window unlock the sash and be prepared to climb from the window to the next, which connects with Dormitory No. 2."
"Good for you!" said Sam. "But how are you going to get to the dormitory?"
"Leave that to me."
Leaving Sam and Tubbs to take care of themselves, Tom left the bedroom and walked out in the upper hall once more.
He was just in time to hear Peleg Snuggers returning with Jasper Grinder.
"It's all nonsense," he heard, in the teacher's harsh voice. "The cold will do both of the boys good."
"He said he was half frozen," insisted Snuggers. "If anything serious-like happened to them, I dunno what the captain would say."
"I know nothing serious will happen," growled Jasper Grinder. "He was merely trying to work upon your sympathies. Both could stay there till morning easily enough."
"The wretch!" murmured Tom to himself. "I'm mighty glad I let them out!"
A few seconds later he heard a cry of dismay.
"Rover is gone!"
"Gone?" came from Snuggers.
"Yes, gone. Snuggers did you leave the door unlocked?"
"No, sir, I couldn't get the key in the lock. Here it is." And the general utility man produced it.
"Ah! here is a key on the inside. What can this mean?"
"I don't know, sir. I left him a-groanin' only a few minutes ago."
"It is very strange." Jasper Grinder gazed around the empty storeroom. "Did you hear anything from Master Tubbs?"
The teacher stepped out of the storeroom and made his way to the stone cell.
"He is gone too!" he ejaculated.
"Really, sir, did you say 'gone'?" cried Peleg Snuggers, in dismay.
"Yes. This is—ah—outrageous, Snuggers. Where can they be?"
"I'm sure I don't know, sir. Master Rover got out mighty quick."
"Look for them among the students, and if you find them bring them to me at once."
"I will, sir."
As soon as Peleg Snuggers had departed Jasper Grinder looked around the storeroom and the stone cell to learn if he could find any trace of the boys.
This gave Tom the chance to slip through the captain's private rooms and into the students' quarters.
"Well, how did you make out?" was Dick's impatient question. "You've been gone an age."
"Come with me and I'll tell you," said Tom, and taking his brother and several chums aside he related what had occurred.
"Keep them there all night, and on bread and water!" cried Dick. "It is awful. I'm sure the captain won't stand for it."
"To be sure he won't," came from Fred Garrison. "But what are you going to do next?"
"Let them in the dormitory window."
Tom led the way upstairs and into Dormitory No. 2. There were four windows in a row, and six beds, three occupied by the Rovers and the others by Fred, Larry, and George Granbury.
Going to the corner window Tom threw it wide open. It was growing dark outside, for it was now half-past six. As he stuck his head out of the window there was the rattle of a drum down in the mess hall.
"Supper time!" cried Fred.
"You go down," said Tom. "No use of all of us being late."
"No, you go down," answered Dick. "You've run risk enough. Besides, if you are absent from the crowd too long somebody may grow suspicious of you. I'll help Sam and Tubbs to a safe hiding-place."
"Find out if they are there first—and lock the door after we are gone."
Leaning out of the window Dick tapped on the next glass. At once Sam showed himself.
"It's quite a climb, but I reckon I can make it," said the youngest Rover.
Waiting to hear no more, Tom hurried below, followed by Fred, and mingled with the crowd of students entering the mess hall.
Many of the boys were talking about the quarrel between Sam and Tubbs, and all condemned the actions of Jasper Grinder.
"He ought to have set them to doing extra lessons; that would have been punishment enough," said one of the big boys, who was captain of Company A of the students for that term.
This opinion was that held by the majority. Several of the boys came to Tom to learn what he had to say. But he merely shrugged his shoulders.
"Wait and we'll see what we will see," he said
"Rover's got a card up his sleeve, that's as sure as you're born," said one of the students, and winked at Tom. But Tom only looked wise and turned away.
When the students sat down to eat it was noticed that Dick's chair was vacant.
"Master Thomas Rover, do you know anything of your brother Richard?" asked an under-teacher.
"Perhaps he is having a talk with Mr. Grinder," said Tom.
"Oh!" Then the under-teacher noticed that Mr. Grinder's chair was also vacant, and said no more.
While the boys were eating, Peleg Snuggers came to the door and looked carefully about the mess hall.
"You won't find them here, Peleg," said Tom to himself. Then the man of all work disappeared, and the supper continued as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
A SCENE IN THE SCHOOLROOM.
In the meantime, what of affairs in the dormitory? Was all going as quietly as Tom had anticipated?
As soon as Tom went below Dick locked the door, then turned again to the window. Sam was trying to climb from one room to the next, but could not get a satisfactory hold.
"Here, give me your hand," cried Dick softly, and reaching forth he soon helped his brother to a position of safety.
"Say, aint it dangerous?" asked Tubbs anxiously, as he gazed to the ground, twenty feet below.
"You've got to run some risks, Tubbs," said Dick. "Quick, or you may be too late."
Fearful of a fall, the rich youth put out one foot and a hand. Dick tried to reach him, but was unable to do so.
"A little further, Tubbs," he said encouragingly.
"I—I'm afraid I'll fall," was the trembling answer. Then the rich youth let out a cry of alarm. "Somebody is coming!"
"Come," cried Dick, and reached out a trifle further. As Tubbs gave the eldest Rover his fingers Dick hauled him from the window and literally swung him into the dormitory. Then, as Tubbs landed in a heap on the floor, Sam closed the window and locked it.
"Now you must clear out to another room!" cried Dick. "Whoever was coming will find that window wide open, and guess you have escaped in this direction."
"But where can we go to?" asked the rich youth.
"Go to Dormitory No. 6. Only young Adler is in there, and Hemmingway, and they are on a vacation until after Christmas. The closet is a big one, and you can both hide on the upper shelf. Quick! I'll bring you some supper."
All three left the dormitory, and Sam and Tubbs scurried off in the direction indicated. As for Dick, he lost no time in reaching the mess hall.
"Sorry, sir," he said to the under-teacher. "The bell couldn't have rung very loud."
"It rang as loud as usual," was the answer, and no more was said, the teacher's head being just then full of other matters.
Glad to get off so easily, Dick lost no time in eating his supper. While making way with the food he stowed a goodly portion in his pockets, in a couple of spare napkins, and by some silent motions from Tom learned that his brother was doing the same.
Just as the students were finishing the meal, Jasper Grinder came in and walked down the aisles between the tables. He looked both angry and perplexed. As he came close to Tom he paused.
"Excuse me, Mr. Grinder, but won't you let Sam out of the stone cell?" asked Tom, to avoid being questioned.
"You be silent Rover," muttered the teacher, and passed on without saying more.
After the supper hour it was usual for the students to have half an hour to themselves, during which they might read, play games, or do as they pleased. But now Mr. Grinder called them together in the main classroom.
"I wish to talk to you young gentlemen," said the teacher, when all were seated.
"We're going to catch it now," whispered Tom to Dick. "Don't you give the secret away."
"Indeed I won't," answered the eldest Rover. "I intend to lay the whole case before Captain Putnam as soon as he returns."
"Silence!" thundered Jasper Grinder. "I want you boys to stop talking instantly."
"I didn't say anything," murmured several in an undertone.
"Silence, I say!" repeated the master, and then all became so quiet that the ticking of the clock could be heard distinctly.
The teacher gazed around at the scores of faces and looked more stem than ever.
"I am going to question all of you separately, and I trust each of you will tell the truth. The question is, Do you know what has become of Samuel Rover and William Tubbs? or Do you know what they have done? I shall start with the first boy. Hickley, what have you to say?"
"I don't know anything about them," answered the boy named Hickley.
"Brainard, do you know?"
"I know they had a little set-to in the gymnasium, but that's all. The whole thing was a friendly bout, I guess."
"I am the best judge of that. It was a disgraceful fight. What have you to say, Griggs?"
"If you say it was disgraceful I suppose it was, sir. I thought it was only a friendly dispute——"
"Stop! I want you to answer the original questions, yes, or no."
"No, to both original questions."
"No, sir!" and Jasper Grinder stamped his foot.
"Oh! All right, sir. No, sir, to both questions, sir."
There was a titter at this, which caused Jasper Grinder to grow red in the face.
"Boys, be quiet!" he shouted. "If you do not be still I will keep all of you in to-morrow."
As this would have spoiled the chances for a good skate and some exciting races, the boys immediately subsided. Then the questioning went on until Dick Rover was reached.
"I don't know where Sam and Tubbs are now," said Dick. "Perhaps they are frozen stiff."
"Did you aid them in escaping from the stone cell and the storeroom?"
"Have you seen them since I placed them there?"
"Yes, I have," answered Dick boldly, seeing it was useless to beat about the bush longer.
"Oh! Then you did aid them to escape?"
"Not from the stone cell and the storeroom. I met them after they had escaped."
"Where did you see them last?"
"I decline to answer that question."
"Decline!" thundered Jasper Grinder.
"I do, sir. As soon as Captain Putnam arrives I shall lay this whole matter before him, and learn if you have any authority for placing my brother in a place where he is liable to catch a cold which may give him pneumonia and be the cause of his death. As it is, my brother suffered a great deal, and so did Tubbs, and if they get sick from it you may be sure that you will be held legally accountable. It was an inhuman thing to do."
As Dick finished there was a murmur, and then a number of the students broke out into applause, while Tom clapped his hands as hard as he could. Jasper Grinder stood at his desk dumbstruck, with his face growing paler each instant.
"Silence! silence!" he exclaimed, when he could control his voice. "Silence, I say, or I will cane you all! This is—is most unseemly—it is—er—mutiny! Silence!"
"I mean just what I say, Mr. Grinder," went on Dick, when he could be heard. "You are master here, and we are bound to obey you, in certain things. But you shan't keep my brother in an icy room all night, and on a supper of stale bread and cold water. Such treatment would almost make a mule sick."
"Rover, will you be silent, or must I get the cane?" gasped Jasper Grinder, almost beside himself with rage.
"If you get your cane, sir, you won't hit me more than once with it."
"Won't I? We'll see who is master here."
"My gracious! Is he really going to try to cane you, Dick!" exclaimed Tom.
"I suppose he is," was the cool answer. "He is so angry he doesn't know what he is doing."
Rushing from the classroom Jasper Grinder presently reappeared, carrying a cane which looked as if it might hurt a good deal, if vigorously applied.
Tom could not help but grin. Dick was almost as tall as the school-teacher, and probably just as strong, and the idea of a caning appeared ridiculous in the extreme.
Caning was not allowed at Putnam Hall, but evidently Jasper Grinder meant to take matters in his own hands.
"Richard Rover, come up here," he thundered.
"What for, sir?"
"To receive the punishment you so richly deserve."
"Mr. Grinder, you haven't any right to cane me. It's against Captain Putnam's rules."
"I don't care for the rules—I mean, you have acted in such an outrageous manner that I must do whatever I think necessary to uphold law and order."
"I am willing to stand whatever punishment Captain Putnam sees fit to inflict. But I shall not take a caning from you."
"Won't you? We'll see."
As Jasper Grinder spoke he leaped from the platform and strode rapidly toward the spot where Dick was standing.
The eldest Rover did not budge, but remained where he was, eying the enraged school-teacher determinedly.
"Don't you dare to strike!" he said warningly, as the cane was raised over his head.
"I will!" cried Jasper Grinder, and was about to bring the cane down with all force when Tom caught it from behind and wrenched it from his grasp.
NEWS OF AN OLD ENEMY.
Dick had not intended that the cane should hit him. He was prepared to dodge. But he wanted to make certain that Jasper Grinder would really try to carry out his ill-advised threat.
"Hi! give me that cane!" cried the schoolmaster, as he whirled around.
"I shall not," answered Tom, and began to run down one of the aisles to the door.
Instantly Jasper Grinder made after him. But the boys had gathered in a crowd, and it was with difficulty that the man could get through.
As Tom ran for one door Dick ran for another, and it was not long before both met in a hallway leading to the mess hall and the dormitories.
"Dick, what shall we do next?" questioned Tom. "We can't stay here, that's certain."
"We'll get out," answered Dick. "I think Mrs. Stanhope will keep us all night."
"And if she won't, I know the Lanings will," said Tom, with a grin.
"We must let Sam know," went on Dick. "He can go along. I shan't come back until Captain Putnam returns."
"Right you are."
Up the stairs they rushed, and into the dormitory where Sam and Tubbs were in hiding.
"Sam!" called Dick, and the youngest Rover at once appeared.
"What's up now? What are you in such a hurry for?"
"Get your overcoat and hat, and come on. We are going to the Stanhopes for the night. Here, Tubbs, is some supper," and Dick passed over what he had in the napkins, while Tom did the same.
"Thanks," said the rich boy. "But—but must I stay here alone?"
"I don't think we can take you along," answered Dick. "But you want to be careful. Old Grinder is as mad as a hornet. He was going to cane me for helping you two. Come, Sam, there is no time to waste. Tubbs, you had better let Fred Garrison know where you are. He's all right."
In a moment more Dick, Tom, and Sam were in their own room and putting on their heavy overcoats and their hats. They lost no time, and as they heard Jasper Grinder coming up one flight of stairs they ran down another pair leading into the kitchen.
Here the servants, directed by Mrs. Green, were putting away what was left of the students' supper.
"Oh, dear!" burst out the matron, on catching sight of the boys. "What do you want here?"
"Good-by, Mrs. Green," said Dick. "Tell the captain when he comes that we were driven away from the school by Mr. Grinder, and that we'll return as soon as we learn that he is back." And before the housekeeper could answer they opened the kitchen door and ran outside.
It was a dark night and the air was filled with snow, some of which was already sifting lazily downward. But they knew the way well, so the want of light did hot bother them. They crossed the parade ground on a run and made directly for the road leading to the Stanhopes' cottage.
"I reckon it will be quite a surprise for Mrs. Stanhope and Dora," said Tom, after they had told Sam of what had happened in the school-room. "They won't be looking for us."
"I know they'll treat us well," said Dick.
"To be sure they will—especially after all we did for them on the Lakes," put in Sam. "But let me tell you, I am curious to know how this thing is going to end."
"I think Mr. Grinder will get the worst of it," returned Tom confidently. "He must know he was doing wrong to put you in that icy storeroom and poor Tubbs in the stone cell. How did you make out with Tubbs in the closet?"
"Oh, he became quite friendly, and we decided to let the past drop. I promised I wouldn't call him Tubby any more."
"That's fair," came from Dick. "He isn't such a bad sort."
On and on hurried the boys. The road was a somewhat lonely one, with several patches of woods to be passed. Several times they halted, endeavoring to ascertain if they were being pursued. But all remained silent. The snow was now coming down more thickly than ever.
"What a lot of adventures we have had in these woods," observed Tom, during one of the halts. "Don't you remember the tramp who stole the watch, and the rows with Josiah Crabtree and with Arnold Baxter and Dan?"
"Indeed I do," said Sam. "Mrs. Stanhope and Dora must be glad to be rid of old Crabtree and Arnold Baxter."
"It's a pity Dan Baxter wasn't locked up with his father," said Dick. "Don't you remember how he used to bother Dora and the Laning girls?"
"Do you think he'd bother them now?" asked Sam. "If he bothers Grace Laning he had better look out for me."
"That's right, Sam, stand up for your own particular girl——" began Tom.
"I didn't say she was my girl," cried Sam, and he was glad that the darkness hid his red-growing face. "I'm no more sweet on her than you are on her sister Nellie."
"It's Dick who must lead off, with Dora Stanhope——" went on Tom.
"Oh, stow it, and come on!" burst in Dick. "If you keep on talking you'll surely be caught. Grinder may be coming after us in a carriage."
"If we had our bicycles we could get there in no time," said Sam.
"Yes, and we might break our necks in the dark," added Dick. "Come, we haven't more than a mile further to go."
On the three trudged, through the snow, which was coming down faster each instant. Once they thought they heard carriage wheels behind them, but soon the sounds faded away in the distance.
At last they came in sight of the Stanhope cottage. A bright light was streaming from the sitting-room windows, and looking in they saw Dora sitting at the table reading a book, and Mrs. Stanhope resting comfortably in an easy-chair in front of the bright-burning fire.
Dora herself came to the door in answer to their ring. "Why, mamma, it's the Rovers!" she cried, as she shook hands, "I never expected to see you to-night, in such a snowstorm. How kind of Captain Putnam to let you come."
"The captain had nothing to do with it," answered Dick, as he gave her hand an extra squeeze, which he somehow thought she returned. "We came because we were having a lot of trouble, and didn't know what else to do."
"More trouble!" came from Mrs. Stanhope, as she also greeted them. "I was hoping all our troubles were a thing of the past."
"This isn't any trouble for you," answered Dick. "Excepting that it brings trouble through your giving us shelter for the night."
"If that's the case, then let it bring trouble," put in Dora promptly. "But what is it all about."
"I'll tell you presently, Dora. But in the meantime can you give Sam some supper? He hasn't had a mouthful since dinner time."
"You poor boy!" came from Mrs. Stanhope. "To be sure he shall have his supper. I'll tell Mary to prepare it at once," and she bustled from the room to give the servant the necessary directions, and returned at once.
Sitting down in front of the fire the three boys told their tale, Mrs. Stanhope and Dora listening with keen attention. When Dick got to the point where Jasper Grinder had wanted to thrash him Dora gave a scream.
"Oh, Dick, the idea! Why, he really must be crazy!"
"I believe his passion got the best of him," said the eldest Rover.
"I'm glad Tom took the cane away," went on Dora.
"It is really too bad," observed Mrs. Stanhope, when their story was finished. "I quite agree with you that Captain Putnam will not uphold Mr. Grinder in his inhuman course. Of course you must stay here to-night, and as long after that as you please."
It was not long before supper was ready for Sam, and when he entered the dining room Mrs. Stanhope went along, to see that he got all he desired.
"I am awfully glad you came," said Dora, in a low voice, when she was alone with Dick and Tom. "I have something important to tell you, something I didn't wish to mention in front of mamma, for it will only worry her without doing any good."
"And what is it?" asked Tom and Dick, in a breath.
"I was down to Cedarville yesterday to do some shopping, and I am almost certain that I saw Dan Baxter hanging around the hotel there."
"Dan Baxter!" ejaculated Dick.
"Hush, Dick! not so loud. Yes, Dan Baxter. He was on the hotel stoop, but the minute he saw me he went inside."
"Perhaps you are mistaken," said Tom. "I hardly think he'd dare to show himself here."
"At first I was uncertain about it. But when I came back that way I looked again, and I caught him peeping out at me from one of the bar-room windows. As soon as he saw me look he dodged out of sight."
"If Dan Baxter is in this neighborhood, he is here for no good," was Dick's blunt comment. "Evidently he has not forgiven us for helping to put his father back in jail."
"Dan Baxter is not of a forgiving nature, Dick. You must be careful, or he will make trouble for all three of you."
"We can take care of ourselves, Dora. If only he doesn't annoy you and your mother."
"I don't think he'll do that—now Mr. Crabtree is out of it," answered Dora, and then, as Mrs. Stanhope re-entered the room, the subject was dropped.
SOMETHING OF A SURPRISE.
Despite the stirring events which had just passed the Rovers managed to pass a pleasant evening at the Stanhope cottage. This was in a large measure due to Dora, who did all she could to entertain them and make them forget their troubles. All played games, and Dora played the piano and sang for them, while Dick and Tom also took a hand at the singing. Sam could not sing, and declared that he was certainly getting a cold, whether from being in the storeroom or not.
At ten o'clock the boys retired, to a large bed chamber containing a double bed and a good-sized cot. They were soon undressed, and after saying their prayers dropped asleep and slept soundly until seven in the morning.
When they arose a surprise awaited them. On the ground outside the snow lay to the depth of a foot or more, and it was still showing as heavily as ever.
"Hullo! we are snowed in!" exclaimed Sam, as he gazed out on the whitened landscape.
"Sure enough," returned Dick, and added:
"This looks as if Captain Putnam might not come back to-day,"
"If that's the case, I vote we stay here," put in Tom. "I'm sure Mrs. Stanhope will keep us."
It was found that Sam's cold had attacked him in earnest. He was very hoarse, and complained of a severe pain in the chest.
"You'll have to do something for that cold," said Dick. "Better stay in bed this morning, and let Mrs. Stanhope put a plaster on your chest."
Going below, he told the lady of the cottage of his brother's condition. A mustard draught was at once prepared and placed upon Sam, and he was also given some pine tar cough mixture. These things relieved him somewhat, but Mrs. Stanhope insisted upon it that he remain in bed, and brought him his breakfast with her own hands.
"Of course you must stay here, especially since Sam is sick," said Dora, while they were eating a breakfast of buckwheat cakes, honey, chops, and coffee. "He may not get worse, but if he does, one of you will have to take the horse and go for the doctor."
"Yes, we'll have to watch Sam," answered Dick. "But don't put yourselves to too much trouble on our account."
"As if we could take too much trouble for you!" exclaimed Dora, and blushed sweetly. It was not likely that she would ever forget all the Rovers had done for her and her mother.
Tom was anxious to learn about the Lanings, and was told that they were all at home and doing finely.
"Nellie and Grace are going on a visit to an aunt at Timber Run after the holidays," said Dora. "They wanted me to go along, but I didn't care to leave mamma, and we didn't wish to lock up the house for fear some tramps might break in and rob us."
After breakfast Sam said he felt like sitting up, but toward noon his chest began to hurt him again, and Mrs. Stanhope said it would be best that somebody go for a doctor. Dick and Tom both volunteered, but it was finally decided that Dick should go alone, on horseback.
A steed was soon saddled, and off Dick rode, wrapped in his overcoat and with an old fur cap pulled well down over his ears. It had now stopped snowing, so the weather was not quite as unpleasant as it had been.
Dick was bound for the house of Dr. Fremley, a physician he knew well, and thither he made his way as speedily as the horse could plow through the drifts which presented themselves. At times, when the wind arose, it was nipping cold, and the youth was glad to get in where it was warm when the physician's office in Cedarville was reached.
"Certainly, I will come and see your brother," said Dr. Fremley. "I'll be ready to go in about half an hour."
"Will you go on horseback?"
"Then I'll wait in town and go back with you," said Dick. "I wish to make a purchase or two."
It was agreed that the youth should meet the physician at half-past twelve, and leaving his horse in the latter's stable, Dick walked down the main street of Cedarville.
He had his Christmas money with him, and entering a drug store he bought a cup of hot chocolate, that warmed him considerably. After this he selected a bottle of cologne and a box of chocolates as a Christmas gift for Dora.
Opposite to the drug store was a stationery and book store, and here Dick procured a fancy floral calendar for Mrs. Stanhope and an interesting girl's book for Dora.
From the store Dick could obtain a side view of the Cedarville Hotel, which stood on a corner up the street, and having paid for his purchases the youth stood near the door and watched the hotel, wondering at the same time if he would see anything of Dan Baxter.
Presently a number of men came from the bar-room of the hotel and moved in various directions. With one of these was the youth for whom Dick was looking.
Dan Baxter and his companion moved in the direction of the lake shore, and Dick lost no time in following the pair.
The man with Baxter was a stranger to Dick, but he showed by his manner that he was a rough individual, and when he talked he did a great deal of swearing, which, however, will not appear in his conversation in these pages.
Having reached the road running along the lake front, Baxter and his companion, whose name was Lemuel Husty, passed northward past a straggling row of cottages and then on the road leading to the village of Neckport.
"I wish I had time—I'd follow them," said Dick to himself, and turned back, much disappointed over the fact that he had not had a chance to speak to Dan Baxter.
As Dick turned in the direction of the doctor's office once more he was hailed by a lad of the village, named Harry Sharp.
"Hullo, Dick Rover!"
"How are you Harry? How do you like the snow?"
"All right enough, only it will spoil some of the skating."
"So I've been thinking," answered Dick, as the two came closer.
"Say, Dick, who do you suppose I met a while ago," went on Harry Sharp.
"I don't know—Dan Baxter?"
"That's the chap. How did you guess it?"
"I saw him myself."
"I thought he didn't dare to show himself?"
"Well, he ought to be arrested, Harry. But perhaps having his father in prison, and losing most of his money, is punishment enough for him."
"I met him in the post office. He was posting several letters."
"Did you see the handwriting on the letters?"
"No. As soon as he saw me he slid out of sight."
"I guess he doesn't fancy being recognized. By the way, have you seen Captain Putnam?"
"Saw him about an hour ago. I think he was going to the Hall."
"Good enough! I was waiting for him to get back."
A few words more followed, and the two boys separated, and Dick hurried to the doctor's office. Dr. Fremley was ready to leave, and soon the pair were on the way to the Stanhope cottage.
Not wishing to give the Hall a bad name Dick deemed it advisable to say nothing about the fact that Sam had been locked in an ice-cold room without his overcoat or hat, and merely stated that his brother had exposed himself.
"He has a very heavy cold," said the doctor, after an examination. "If let run, it would have become serious, beyond a doubt; but I feel confident I can check it," and he left some medicine and some plasters.
As soon as the doctor was gone Dick announced his intention of returning to Putnam Academy. "The captain has got back, and I want to lay the whole case before him, and do it, too while Sam is still sick."
"Shall I go along?" asked Tom.
"No, I'll go alone. They may need you here on Sam's account."
Dick was soon on the way, riding another horse, for the Stanhopes now kept two. He had had a fine dinner, and felt in the best of spirits, despite the disagreeable task before him. He did not doubt for a moment but that Captain Putnam would side with him and condemn the actions of Jasper Grinder.
He was still out of sight of the Hall when he saw Peleg Snuggers riding toward him in the captain's cutter.
"Is that you, Master Rover!" sang out the man of all work. "Where are your brothers?"
"Safe, Snuggers. Has the captain got back?"
"Yes—got in a couple of hours ago."
"Has he said anything about our going away?"
"Said anything? Just guess he has. Why, the whole school is so upset nobody knows what he is doing. Do you know what happened after you and your brothers ran away?"
"Of course I don't. What did happen?"
"Mr. Grinder had a terrible row with more than a dozen of the boys, who sided with what you had done. He got awfully mad at them, and was going to cane the lot, when all of a sudden he fell down in a fit, just like he was going to die, and we had to work over him most an hour before we could bring him around."
JASPER GRINDER IS DISMISSED.
Dick was greatly surprised over the news which Peleg Snuggers conveyed to him. He knew that Jasper Grinder was an intensely passionate man when aroused, as on the occasion of the attempted caning, but he had not imagined that the man would fall into a fit while in such a condition.
"Did he come out of the fit all right?" he questioned soberly.
"When he came around he was as weak as a rag, and I and one of the big boys had to help him up to his room. He stayed there the rest of the evening, and the other teachers had to take charge."
"What do they say about the matter?"
"As soon as the captain got back all of 'em got in the private office and held a long talk. Then the captain had a talk with Mr. Grinder, and after that the captain sent me off to look for you. He said you must be at the Lanings, or at Mrs. Stanhope's, or else somewhere in Cedarville."
"We are stopping with Mrs. Stanhope. Sam is sick with a heavy cold."
"It's not to be wondered at. Master Tubbs has a cold, too, and the captain had Mrs. Green give him some medicine for it."
"Has he punished Tubbs?"
"No. He's awfully upset, and I don't think he'll do anything right away," concluded the general utility man.
The cutter was turned around, and Dick and Snuggers hurried toward the Hall. Their coming was noticed by a score of boys who were snowballing each other oh the parade ground, and a shout went up.
"Dick Rover is coming back! Snuggers has brought Dick Rover back!"
"Take care of the horse, Snuggers," said Dick. "Do the right thing, and I won't forget to pay you at Christmas-time."
"All right Master Rover; thank you," answered the man of all work.
Dick was at once surrounded, but before he could answer any questions he saw Captain Putnam appear at one of the windows and at once went inside to greet him.
"Well, Rover, what does all this mean?" demanded the head of the school, but there was not much sternness in his tone.
"It means Captain Putnam, that Sam, Tom, and I couldn't stand the treatment we received from Mr. Grinder. For a little set-to which Sam and Tubbs had in the gymnasium Mr. Grinder put Sam in the ice-cold storeroom, and was going to keep him there all night, with nothing but stale bread to eat and cold water to drink. If Sam had remained in the storeroom he would have died from the effects of it. As it is, he is now in bed at Mrs. Stanhope's, and we had to call in Dr. Fremley to attend him."
"Is he very ill, Rover? Tell me the exact truth."
"I have never told you anything else, Captain Putnam. No, I don't think he is very ill, but he's got a bad cold. He is very hoarse, and he complained of such a pain in the chest that Mrs. Stanhope put on some plasters, and when the doctor came he left some more."
"Humph!" Captain Putnam began to walk up and down his private office. "What did you tell Dr. Fremley?"
"Nothing but that Sam had exposed himself. I didn't want to give the school a black name. But one thing is certain, we can't remain here if Mr. Grinder is going to stay. I shall write to my father and tell him the full particulars."
"It will not be necessary to do so, Richard." The captain caught Dick by the shoulder. "I have investigated this affair, and while I find that Sam was to blame, and Tom and you, too, yet I am convinced that Mr. Grinder exceeded his authority here. He had no business to put Sam in the storeroom and Master Tubbs in the stone cell in this freezing weather. More than that, something happened after you left that shows plainly Mr. Grinder is not the proper person to be a teacher here, and from to-day I intend to dispense with his services."
Dick knew what the captain referred to, the falling of the teacher into his passionate fit on the floor, but he said nothing on that point, for in a way he felt sorry for one who could control himself so little.
"I am glad we won't have to put up with him, sir, any longer. In one way, he is worse than Mr. Crabtree was."
"Let us drop the whole subject, Richard. I have not been satisfied with Mr. Grinder for some time past, and had in view a teacher to take his place before this happened. The new teacher will come after the holidays, and I feel certain all the students will like him fully as much as they like Mr. Strong."
"We won't ask for anybody better than Mr. Strong—or yourself," answered Dick, with a smile.
A talk lasting quarter of an hour followed, and it was decided that Dick should return to the Stanhope cottage, to tell Tom and Sam what turn affairs had taken. Then Tom was to come to the Hall, leaving Dick to look after Sam.
It was nightfall before Dick got back to the cottage. Of course his brothers and the others listened to his story with interest. Both Sam and Tom felt greatly relieved.
"If Grinder keeps on he'll kill himself in one of his fits," said Sam. "I hope he leaves before I go back to school."
"If I was you, I wouldn't go back until he does leave," said Tom. "I'm sure Mrs. Stanhope will let you stay here; won't you?"
"To be sure, Tom," answered the lady of the cottage. "But now Captain Putnam has made up his mind, you may be sure Mr. Grinder will not remain at the Hall many days."
"Perhaps he'll go to-night," said Dora. "The captain surely wont wish him at the Hall over Sunday."
Tom remained with his brothers until evening; then started for the Hall on foot, not caring to bother with a horse. The road was now well broken, so he had no trouble in making the journey.
When he arrived at the Academy he found the boys assembled in the classroom, in charge of one of the under-teachers.
"You cannot see Captain Putnam at present," said the teacher. "You will have to remain here with the other pupils until he is at leisure."
"Something must be wrong," murmured Tom, as he slipped in a seat next to George Granbury.
"I think the captain is getting rid of old Grinder," was the whispered reply. "He's afraid we'd go out and give him three groans when he left."
"I see. Well, it's best to let him go quietly. Good riddance to him."
"That's what all the boys say, although some are sorry he had the fit."
"So am I sorry; but he brought it on himself."
Presently there was loud knocking in the front of the building and the slamming of a door. Then a trunk was dumped into the captain's cutter, and the horse started off, carrying Peleg Snuggers and Jasper Grinder behind him.
When the captain came into the classroom he was pale, and pulled nervously on his mustache Evidently his task of getting rid of the passionate teacher had not been a light one. He said but little, and shortly after the boys were dismissed and sent to bed.
Sunday continued bright and clear, but it was so bitter cold that but few of the students went to church and Sunday school. Tom was anxious to hear how Sam was getting along, and in the afternoon Captain Putnam himself drove him to the Stanhope cottage in the cutter.
It was found that the youngest Rover was feeling much better, although his hoarseness had not left him. He said he was sure he could go back to school the next day.
"We had a visit from Jasper Grinder," said Dick. "He insisted on stopping here in spite of all Snuggers could do to stop him."
"And what did he say?" asked the captain anxiously.
"Oh, he was in a terrible rage, and threatened to sue my father because, as he put it, we had driven him from earning a good living. I could hardly get him out of the house, and when he left he picked up a big chunk of ice and snow and hurled it through the sitting-room window at Sam. I believe the man isn't quite right in his head."
"It certainly looks like it," was the captain's grave response.
"Did Snuggers leave him in Cedarville?"
"Yes. But Snuggers didn't know where he went after that, excepting that he called at the post office for some letters."
"I hope I never have anything to do with him again," said Sam, with a shiver.
"I do not believe he will bother you in the future," returned the captain. "When he comes to his sober senses he will realize fully how foolishly he has acted."
As Sam was so much better and needed no care that Mrs. Stanhope and Dora were not willing to give him, Tom returned to the Hall with Dick and Captain Putnam, after supper at the widow's cottage. The sleigh ride to the school was delightful, for the road was now in excellent shape, while overhead the stars shone down like so many glittering diamonds.
A RACE ON THE ICE, AND WHAT FOLLOWED.
After the events just narrated several days passed quietly enough at Putnam Hall. In the meantime the weather continued clear, and the boys took it upon themselves to clear off a part of the lake for skating. Then, one night came a strong wind, and the next morning they found a space of cleared ice nearly half a mile long.
"Now for some fine skating!" exclaimed Tom, as he rushed back to the Hall after an inspection of the lake's smooth surface. "We can have all the racing we wish."
"It's a pity Sam can't go out yet," returned Dick. Sam was back to the school, but his cold had not entirely left him.
"Never mind; here are several new magazines he can read," returned Tom, who had been to town with Snuggers on an errand and had purchased them at the stationery store.
"I would just as soon read now," said Sam. "The magazines look mighty interesting."
Just then Fred Garrison came in, accompanied by George Granbury. They had been down to Cedarville to purchase some skates and a new pair of shoes for George.
"Hullo, what do you think we saw in Cedarville!" cried Fred, as soon as he caught sight of the Rovers.
"Lots of snow," suggested Tom dryly.
"A mighty dull town," suggested Sam.
"We saw Dan Baxter."
"What was he doing?"
"He was walking down the street. And who do you suppose was with him? Mr. Grinder!"
"Grinder!" came simultaneously from Tom and Dick.
"Yes, Grinder. And they seemed to be on good terms with each other," put in George.
"I could hardly believe my eyes at first," went on Fred. "But there they were, as plain as day."
"It's very odd," mused Dick. "What should bring them together?"
Nobody could answer that question.
"I don't believe they are up to any good," said Tom.
"I hope Grinder doesn't join hands with Baxter in plotting against us," came from Dick.
The matter was talked over for some time, but no satisfactory conclusion could be reached, and presently the boys separated, some to go skating and others to attend to their studies for the morrow.
Down at the lake the scene was an animated one. Boys were flying in every direction, and mingled with them were a dozen or more girls and a few grown persons. George Strong, the head teacher, was there, enjoying himself fully as much as the pupils who loved him.
"I'll race you, Mr. Strong!" sang out one of the older boys, Tom Mardell.
"Done, Master Mardell," was the teacher's answer. "To yonder rock and return." And in a moment more the pair were off.
"Hurrah! A race between Mr. Strong and Tom Mardell!" came in a shout from a number of the students, and soon there was a general "lining up" to see how it would terminate.
"Go in, Tom!" shouted Tom Rover. "Don't let him beat you!"
"Mr. Strong is behind!" came presently. "Tom is going to win out, sure!"
On and on went the skaters, until the rock was gained. Then Tom Mardell turned so suddenly that he ran full tilt into the teacher with whom he was racing. Both spun around and came down on the ice with a crash.
"Oh!" gasped Mardell. "I didn't mean to do that!"
"I—I know you didn't!" panted Mr. Strong. "You have finished the race in fine shape, I must declare!" And then he arose slowly to his feet and Mardell followed. But nobody was seriously hurt, and in a moment more both skated off hand in hand.
Dick was looking for Dora Stanhope, and presently she appeared, in a pretty fur coat and a jaunty fur cap. He put on her skates for her, and they skated off, with many a side wink from some of the boys.
"Dick's head over heels," said one lad, to Tom.
"Well, I guess you'd be, too, Urner, if you could get such a nice girl to notice you," returned Tom dryly. And then he added: "You must remember we are all old friends."
"Oh, I know that; and I was only joking."
A grand race, open to all comers, had been arranged by the students of the Hall and of Pornell Academy, a rival institute of learning, which has already figured in other volumes of this series. The Pornell boys were out in force, and they were sure that one of their number would win the silver napkin ring, which was the first prize, and another the story book, which constituted the second prize.
Of this race a gentleman from Cedarville, named Mr. Richards, was to be the starter and judge. The course was a short mile, down the lake and back again. The Pornell boys to enter were named Gray, Wardham, Gussy, and De Long. The contestants from Putnam Hall were Tom Rover, Fred Garrison, Tubbs, and a lad named Hollbrook.
"Are you ready?" asked Mr. Richards, after lining the boys up and telling them of the conditions of the race.
There was a dead silence.
"Go!" shouted the starter.
Away went the eight skaters, side by side each striking out bravely. Fred was in the lead, with two Pornell boys a close second, while Tom Rover was fourth.
"Go in, Tom, you must win!" sang out Dick excitedly.
"Hurrah for Tubby!" came from several others. "He's crawling up!"
"Go in, Gray!" came in a shout from some Pornell sympathizers. Gray was one of the pair striving for second place. Now he shot ahead, and in a second more was close upon Fred Garrison's heels.
The pace was truly terrific from the very start, and long before the turn was gained De Long and Hollbrook dropped out, satisfied that they could not win.
Gray, the leader of the Pornell contingent, was a tall, lanky, and powerful fellow, and every stroke he took told well in his favor. The turning point was hardly rounded when he began to crawl up to Fred, and then he gradually passed him.
"Hurrah! Gray is ahead!" shouted his friends.
"Here is where Pornell wins the race!" added one enthusiastic sympathizer.
Fred's pace had been too sharp from the very start, and now he slowly but surely dropped back to second place, and then to third.
But then Tom Rover began to crawl up. He had held himself slightly in reserve. Now he "let himself out." Whiz! whiz! went the polished pair of steels under him, and soon Wardham, the fellow who had held second place, was passed, dropping behind Fred, thus taking fourth place. Then Tom came up on Gray's heels.
"Hurrah for Tom Rover!"
"Go it, Tom, don't let him beat you!"
"Go it Gray, Tom Rover is at your heels!"
Gray did not dare to look back, but at the latter cry he did his best to increase his speed. So did Tom, and while the finishing line was still a hundred yards distant he came up side by side with Gray.
"It's a tie!"
"No, Gray is a little ahead yet!"
"Go in, Gray, don't let him beat you!"
"Tom Rover to the front! Go it, Tom, for the glory of old Putnam Hall!"
A wild yelling broke out on every side. On and on went the two boys, with Fred Garrison not two yards behind them. That the finish would be a close one there was no question. The line was but a hundred feet away; now but seventy-five; now but fifty. Still the leaders kept side by side, neither gaining an inch. Surely it would be a tie. The yelling increased until the noise was deafening.
And then of a sudden Tom Rover shot ahead. How it was done nobody knew, and Tom himself couldn't explain it when asked afterward. But ahead he went, like an arrow shot from a bow, and crossed the line six feet in advance of Gray.
"Hurrah! Tom Rover has won!"
"Told you Tom would do it!"
"Three cheers for Putnam Hall!"
"And Fred Garrison came in only one yard behind Gray, too, and Tubby is a pretty good fourth."
"This is Putnam Hall day, thank you!"
The cheering increased, and Tom was immediately surrounded by a host of admirers.
Gray felt very sore, and wanted to leave the pond at once, but before he could do so Tom skated up to him and held out his hand.
"You came pretty close to beating me," he said. "I can't really say how I got ahead at the finish."
"I—I guess my skate slipped, or something," stammered Gray, and shook hands. Tom's candor took away the keen edge of the defeat.
The Putnam Hall boys were wild with delight, and insisted upon carrying Tom on their shoulders around the pond. A great crowd followed, and nobody noticed how this made the ice bend and crack.
"Be careful there!" shouted Mr. Strong warningly. "There are too many of you in a bunch!" But ere he had finished the sentence there came another loud cracking, and in a twinkle a section of the ice went down, plunging fully a dozen lads into the icy water below.
THE END OF THE TERM.
"The ice has gone down!"
"Some of the boys will be drowned!"
"Get some boards and a rope, quick!"
These and a score of other cries rang out. In the meantime those near to the hole skated with all speed to one place of safety or another.
Some of the imperiled boys who had not gone down very deeply managed to scramble out with wet feet or wet lower limbs only, but when the crowd had drawn back it was seen that three boys were floundering in the chilling water over their heads. These boys were George Granbury and Frank Harrington, who had been supporting Tom on their shoulders, and Tom himself, who had been dropped into the opening head first by the frightened lads.
Realizing that something must be done at once, Mr. Strong ran to the boathouse, which was close at hand, and soon reappeared, carrying a long plank. He was followed by a boy with a rope, and several boys brought more planks and more ropes.
When the first plank was pushed out Tom lost no time in grasping hold of it. He crawled to a safe place on hands and knees, but was so nearly paralyzed he could not stand up.
"I'll carry him up to the Hall," said Peleg Snuggers, who had chanced upon the scene, and without ceremony he picked Tom up in his strong arms and made off for the school building on a run.
After Tom came Frank Harrington, who caught hold of one end of a rope tossed toward the hole. As soon as he shouted he had the rope secure, a dozen boys pulled upon it, and Frank was literally dragged from his icy bath. Once on shore he was started on a run for the Hall, some boys rushing ahead to obtain dry clothing for both him and the others.
Poor George Granbury was now the only one left in danger, and matters appeared to be going hard with him. He clutched at one of the planks thrust toward him, but his hold slipped and down he went out of sight.
"He'll be drowned! He's too cold to save himself!" was the cry of several who were watching him.
"Be careful, boys!" came warningly from Mr. Strong. "Be careful, or somebody else will get in!"
"Mr. Strong, if you will hold the plank, I'll crawl out and get hold of Granbury," came from Dick, in a determined voice.
"Rover, can you do it?"
"I feel certain I can. Hold tight, please."
Dick leaped upon the plank and threw himself flat. Then he crawled out as fast as he could, until he was on the end over the open water. Holding to the plank with one hand he reached out to grasp George's shoulder with the other.