Edward Stratemeyer.

Dave Porter's Return to School. Winning the Medal of Honor



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PREFACE

"Dave Porter's Return to School" is a complete story in itself, but forms the third volume in a line issued under the general title of "Dave Porter Series."

In the initial volume of this series, entitled "Dave Porter at Oak Hall," I took pleasure in introducing to my readers a typical American lad, of strong moral qualities, and told of many of the things which happened to him during a term at an American boarding school of to-day. Such a school is a little world in itself, and Dave made both friends and enemies, and aided one weak and misguided youth to a realization of his better self.

The great cloud over Dave's life was the question of his parentage. His enemies called him "a poorhouse nobody," which hurt him to the quick. At length he made a discovery which led him to begin a search for his missing relatives, and in the second volume of this series, entitled "Dave Porter in the South Seas," we followed the lad on a most unusual voyage, in a quarter of our globe but little known. Here Dave met his uncle, and learned something of himself and his father and sister, which pleased him immensely.

In the present volume the scene is shifted back to Oak Hall, where Dave goes to finish his preparation for college. His friends are still with him, and likewise his enemies, and what the various students do I leave for the pages that follow to relate. In all his trials Dave stands up for what is honest and true, and in this his example is well worth following.

Again I thank the many young people who have taken an interest in my efforts to amuse and instruct them. I hope this volume may prove to their liking and do them good.

Edward Stratemeyer.
Washington's Birthday, 1907.

CHAPTER I
AT THE RAILROAD STATION

"Here comes the train, fellows!"

"I hope Dave Porter is on board."

"He will be, and Ben Basswood too. Ben wrote to me that they were coming to-day."

"I wonder if Dave will be glad to get back to Oak Hall, Lazy?"

"Why not?" returned Sam Day, a big, round-faced youth, with a shock of curly hair hanging over his forehead. "Didn't we have fine times when he was here last term?"

"Yes, but – " Maurice Hamilton paused to glance at the train that had rolled into the Oakdale station. "There they are, sure enough! Hurrah!"

The train had come to a stop and a dozen or more passengers alighted. In the crowd were two boys, each carrying a dress-suit case. Both were tall, well-built, and manly-looking. The one in the lead had a face full of merriment and earnest eyes that were rather out of the ordinary.

"Dave!" cried Maurice Hamilton, rushing up and catching the youth addressed by the hand. "You don't know how glad I am to see you!"

"Same here, Shadow," responded Dave Porter, and gave the other boy's hand a squeeze that made the lad wince.

"Whoa, Dave! I want to use that hand again!" cried Shadow, as he was familiarly called.

"Not so hard."

"And how are you, Lazy?" went on Dave Porter, turning to the other boy on the platform. "Active as ever?" And he smiled brightly.

"No, it has been dead slow since you and Roger and Phil went away," answered Sam Day. "How are you, Ben?" he added, to the second youth from the train. "I hope you've come back to stir things up."

"Oh, Dave will stir 'em up, don't you worry," replied Ben Basswood. "He feels like a two-year-old colt since – well, you know," he added, in a lower voice.

"Any one would," responded Sam Day, heartily. "My, but what a trip you must have had to the South Seas!" he added, to Dave. "Wish I had been along!"

"Every one of our crowd has been wishing that," said Shadow Hamilton. "When you're settled down, and have time, you must tell us all about it, Dave."

"I certainly will. Have you seen anything of Phil and Roger yet?"

"They are coming to-morrow."

"Good. All the others here?"

"All but Polly Vane and Luke Watson. Polly had to go to his aunt's wedding, and Luke had to go around by way of Albany, on business for his father. But the whole crowd will be on hand by the end of the week."

"And what of Gus Plum and Nat Poole and that crowd?" asked Ben Basswood, with a shade of anxiety in his voice.

"Oh, they are around, as lordly as ever. But say, wasn't Plum taken down when he heard that Dave had found some relatives and was rich! He wouldn't believe it at first; said it was a fake."

"But it is true," cried Ben Basswood, his face glowing. "Dave's folks are rich. I don't know but that Dave is the richest boy at Oak Hall now."

"Oh, come, let us talk about something else," said Dave, blushing in spite of himself. "Where's the carryall?"

"Here you are, gents!" cried a voice from the end of the platform, and Jackson Lemond, the driver from Oak Hall, appeared. He got down on one knee and made a profound bow to Dave. "Hope I see you well, Lord Porter," he went on, humbly.

"Lord Porter?" queried Dave, in bewilderment.

"Hush!" whispered Sam Day, quickly. "Some of the fellows told Horsehair you were a real, live lord now, and he believes it."

"But I am not," cried Dave, and burst out laughing. "Up with you, Horsehair, or you'll get your knee dirty."

"Yes, sir, yes, sir," answered the driver, nervously. "Will – er – will Lord Porter sit on the front seat, or – "

"A lord always drives himself," answered Shadow Hamilton, with a grin. "Horsehair, you'll have to sit on the back spring."

"Yes, sir, but – er – " The driver of the carryall paused. "Any more boys?"

"Look here, fellows," interrupted Dave, throwing his dress-suit case on the top of the carryall. "I like fun as well as anybody, but making out I'm a lord is – well, it's something I don't like. Even though my folks may have a little money I want to be just as I used to be."

"Ain't you no lord?" gasped the carryall driver.

"Of course not – I'm a plain, everyday American boy."

"Well, I'll be switched! Them young gents told me as how you was a real lord, an' was coming to the school with four colored servants, an' a whole lot more."

"And now Dave has spoiled it all," said Shadow Hamilton, with a ponderous sigh. "Puts me in mind of a story I once heard about a – "

"Yarn No. 1," interrupted Ben. "I thought you'd begin to tell 'em as soon as we arrived. You have 'em bottled up, and unless you pulled the cork now and then I suppose you'd explode."

"Which puts me in mind of another story, about a – "

"Wait till we are on our way to the Hall," cried Sam Day. "All in!" And one after another the schoolboys piled into the big carryall which was to take them to Oak Hall. The turnout was just about to start when there came a cry from the other end of the station, and two youths appeared, each loudly dressed, one somewhat after the manner of a dude and the other in the style of a sport. Each carried a small parcel, showing he had come down to the town to do some shopping.

"Gus Plum and Nat Poole!" whispered Ben, and his face fell. "I hope they don't want to ride with us."

"That is what they are going to do," answered Dave. "I am sorry myself, but it can't be helped."

"Jump in if you are going along," cried the Hall driver.

"Who have you got?" sang out Gus Plum, rather roughly. He came closer with his companion and stared at those in the carryall. "Humph!"

"How do you do, Plum?" said Dave, politely. He knew Gus Plum to be the bully of the school, but he had determined to be perfectly fair to all.

"Humph!" murmured the bully again. "Got back, eh?"

"I have."

"Humph!"

"Going to cut a fearful swath, I presume," said Nat Poole, who was the bully's close crony.

Dave's face flushed. He had anticipated trouble, but had not expected it to come so soon. A sharp answer came to his lips, but he suppressed it and remained silent.

"Don't start in now, Plum!" cried Ben. "If you are going to the Hall say so and get in."

"I'll go to the Hall when I feel like it," growled the bully. It was plain to see that he was in an unusually bad humor.

"Well, we are not going to wait for you to make up your mind," said Shadow Hamilton. As we shall learn later, he had good reasons for counting Gus Plum his enemy. "Are you going, or are you not?"

"See here, Hamilton, you can't boss me!" roared the bully. "I'll get in when I please."

"The carryall has got to wait for us," added Nat Poole, maliciously. "Dr. Clay said we could come back in it."

"Then come on," said Sam Day.

"We are not through with our errands yet," answered Gus Plum, and winked in secret at his crony.

"That's it – and the carryall has got to wait till we are through," added Nat Poole, quickly.

"How long?" asked Dave, looking sharply at Plum and Poole.

"Oh, about half an hour," answered the bully, carelessly.

"This is a shame," muttered Sam Day. "Horsehair, can't you come back for them?"

"Certainly," answered the driver.

"Then off we go!" cried Shadow Hamilton. "I'd rather ride without them anyway," he whispered.

"Hi! stop!" roared Gus Plum. "If you drive to the Hall you won't be back for an hour and a half or more. You've got to wait for us."

At this bold announcement there was silence all around. The students in the carryall looked at Dave, as he was their natural leader.

"There are four of us who want to get to the Hall without unnecessary delay," said Dave, steadily. "Either you can go along now, or wait till Horsehair comes back."

"That's the talk," came promptly from Dave's chums.

"So you are going to play the master, are you?" blustered Gus Plum. "Going to rule the roost, eh? and make everybody bow low to you, eh?"

"Nothing of the kind, Plum. I merely wish – "

"Oh, I know! You've talked soft to me before, and soft to Nat, too! I suppose you think now you have money you can do anything here. Well, it don't go – not with me anyway, and I want to give you fair warning right now, at the very start. I want you to understand – "

"Plum, don't talk so loud, you are drawing a crowd," whispered Ben. "Dave is all right, and you know it."

"Humph! I want him to understand – "

"Plum, listen to me," said Dave, leaning out of the carryall and facing the bully squarely. "I intended to have a talk with you later, but since you are so insistent we may as well have it out right now. When it was decided that I should come back to Oak Hall I made up my mind to do my best to keep out of trouble and stick closely to my lessons. I also made up my mind to steer clear of you, and Nat Poole, and all the others of your crowd, and I was going to ask you to leave me alone. I want absolutely nothing to do with any of you, and I don't want any of you to go around talking behind my back, as you have been doing in the past. You know I could do some talking on my own account if I wanted to, but I prefer to keep silent. Now then, are you willing to meet me on those terms or not?"

"Humph!"

"That is no answer."

"You can't bully me."

"You are the bully and always have been, and you know it."

"That's the truth," said Sam Day.

"Plum, you've got to take a back seat, and the sooner you do it the better off you'll be," added Shadow.

"Exactly what I say," was Ben's comment.

"All against me, just as you always were!" cried Gus Plum, savagely. "But never mind! Just you wait, that's all!" And he shook his fist as he backed away.

"You're a set of sneaks!" murmured Nat Poole, as he too retreated. But he was careful to speak in such a low tone that nobody in the carryall understood him.

"I don't want to ride with you; I'd rather walk," went on the bully.

"I'll come back for you two," said the driver, as he took up the reins again. "Git up there!" he cried to his team and snapped his whip. "Looks to me like there was trouble in the air," he continued, glancing first at the students left behind and then at those in the carryall.

"I am afraid you are right," answered Dave, soberly.

CHAPTER II
SOMETHING OF THE PAST

Once again Dave Porter was brought face to face with the troubles which he had hoped had been put behind him forever. He had expected to have the best kind of a time on returning to Oak Hall, and here were his old enemies, Gus Plum and Nat Poole, ready to do all in their power to make his schooldays miserable.

To those who have read "Dave Porter at Oak Hall" Dave needs no special introduction. In that volume was related how the boy was found when a little child wandering along the railroad tracks just outside of the village of Crumville, and turned over to the poorhouse authorities. Every effort to establish his identity failed, and when he grew up he was taken in by a broken-down college professor, Caspar Potts, who had turned farmer.

The old professor did what he could for the youth, but his farm was mortgaged to a hard-hearted money lender, Aaron Poole, the father of Nat Poole, just introduced. Aaron Poole would have sold the old man out had not aid come from an unexpected quarter. There was an automobile accident, and Dave succeeded in saving the life of a little girl, Jessie Wadsworth. For this the Wadsworth family were very grateful, and when it was learned that Caspar Potts was one of Mr. Oliver Wadsworth's former college professors, the rich manufacturer took the old professor to live with him, and also took care of the mortgage. Then, for his bravery, and because Dave reminded him of a dead son, Mr. Wadsworth resolved to send the youth to a boarding school and give him a thorough education.

Oak Hall was the institution selected, an ideal place of learning, located not a great distance from the town of Oakdale, in one of our New England States. The buildings were substantial and surrounded by beautiful grounds sloping down to the Leming River. Stately oaks grew on the grounds and in that vicinity, giving the school its name.

Dave had but one boy friend in Crumville, Ben Basswood, who also went to Oak Hall, but the lad was not slow to make other acquaintances, some of whom became his closest chums. Among the number were Roger Morr, the son of a United States senator; Phil Lawrence, whose father was a ship-owner; Joseph Beggs, usually called Buster because he was so fat; and Sam Day and "Shadow" Hamilton, already introduced.

For a time all went well and the poorhouse boy was happy. But then came trouble with Gus Plum the bully, and with Nat Poole, who also became a student at the Hall. Poole told everybody that Dave was a "poorhouse nobody," and Plum taunted him, with the result that there was a fight, in which Dave came off the victor. But this only angered the bully the more, and he vowed to "get square" sooner or later.

"I'll take it out of the poorhouse whelp," he said to Chip Macklin, a small youth who was his toady, and laid his plot with care. But the plan miscarried, and when Dave learned the truth he gave Chip Macklin such a talking to that the small boy resolved to have nothing more to do with the bully. Macklin turned over a new leaf, and was now hailed as "a pretty decent sort of chap" by those who had formerly despised him. Then Plum did something which got Shadow Hamilton into serious trouble, stealing a collection of valuable postage stamps belonging to the master of the school, which poor Shadow had hidden when he was sleep-walking. This base action was also brought to light, and the bully came near being expelled from the Hall.

The question of his parentage was ever in Dave's mind, and when he gained what he thought was a clew he followed it up as promptly as possible. An old sailor named Billy Dill declared that he knew Dave or somebody that looked exactly like him, only older. This unknown individual was on an island in the South Seas, and the youth arranged to visit that portion of the globe in one of the ships belonging to Phil Lawrence's father. Phil, and Roger Morr, went with him, and also Billy Dill, the necessary funds for the trip being furnished by Oliver Wadsworth.

As related in the second volume of this series, "Dave Porter in the South Seas," the voyage of the Stormy Petrel proved to be a decidedly strange one. Fearful storms were encountered, and a portion of the crew, led by a dishonest supercargo and a mate, tried to run off with the vessel, leaving Dave, his chums, the captain, and some others, on an uninhabited island. But in the end the vessel was retaken, and Dave reached the place for which he was bound.

A great and happy surprise awaited the youth. He came face to face with a Mr. Dunston Porter, who proved to be the boy's uncle. Mr. Porter was rich and was wandering around the islands of the Pacific looking for a treasure said to have been buried by the natives years before. The uncle told Dave that he was the son of a twin brother, David Breslow Porter. Dave's mother was dead, but there was a sister Laura, one year younger than Dave. Mr. David Porter and his daughter Laura were now in Europe, traveling for the former's health. Dave had been stolen from his parents by a crazy nurse, and because of this Mr. Porter never went anywhere without taking Laura with him. There was a good deal of money in the family, a fair share of which would rightfully fall to Dave when he became of age.

As was but natural, Dave was impatient to meet his father and his sister. He and the others journeyed back to the United States, and various messages were sent, to Mr. David Porter and to friends at Crumville. Then Dave and his uncle journeyed to the Wadsworth home, where they were warmly received.

At first the message forwarded to Dave's father in Europe brought no reply, but at last came back an answer from the keeper of a hotel in Paris where Mr. Porter and Laura had been stopping. This said that the Porters had departed some weeks before for an extended trip to Norway, after which they expected to sail for New York, to which place all mail was to be addressed. Where the two travelers were at the present time there was no telling.

"Dave, this is hard luck," said the boy's uncle, on receiving the news. "I don't know what to do except to wait."

"Can't we send letters to different cities in Norway?" returned the youth. "I want to meet my father and my sister so much!"

"Yes, we can try that," answered Dunston Porter, and the letters were sent without delay; but so far no answers had been received.

Oak Hall had opened for the fall term, and after some discussion it was decided that Dave should return to that school until some word was received from his father. In the meanwhile Mr. Dunston Porter became the guest of Mr. Wadsworth.

Outside of the fact that he was impatient to meet his father and his sister face to face, Dave was very light-hearted when he and Ben Basswood left Crumville on their journey to Oakdale. Being a "poorhouse nobody" was now a thing of the past, and he felt relieved to think that no one could again taunt him regarding his parentage. More than this, he was now in the care of an uncle who was kind and loving to the last degree, and he was provided with all the money he needed, and it was "his own money," as he told himself with great satisfaction.

He had already met some of his chums since returning from the South Seas – boys who had stopped off at Crumville while on their railroad journey to Oakdale. All had congratulated him on his luck and wished him well.

But Nat Poole had not been happy over Dave's good fortune. They had met at the local post-office, and Poole had made some undertoned remarks that did not please Dave in the least. As a matter of fact Nat Poole, even though fairly well-to-do himself, envied Dave because of his riches.

"Wait and see how he tries to lord it over us when he comes back," said Nat Poole to Gus Plum, when the two met at Oak Hall. "I suppose he will put on such airs there will be no living with him. And he will do what he can to buy all the other fellows over to him."

"He shan't lord it over me, or buy me over either," answered the bully. His tone was very bitter, because of the fact that his own position in life seemed to be going down. His father had lost money steadily during the past year, and it was now almost a question whether Gus should continue at school or leave and go to work.

"It made me sick to see how Crumville folks bowed and smiled to him," went on Nat Poole. "When he was nobody they wouldn't notice him – now they tumble over each other to shake him by the hand."

"But has he really got so much money?"

"They say so – but I don't believe it."

"Does he dress any better than he used to?"

"Hardly a bit better. If that uncle of his has the rocks I guess he is miserly about using any."

"Then maybe Dave won't have so very much spending money," said Gus Plum, his face brightening a bit.

"I don't know anything about that. But I do know it makes me sick to think he is coming here to show off in front of all of us."

Gus Plum looked around cautiously. The pair were in their dormitory and nobody else was within hearing.

"Nat, we hung together last term and we had better hang together this term too," he whispered.

"What do you mean – against Porter and his crowd?"

"Yes."

"I'll do that quick enough."

"We must find some way to throw him off his high horse."

"Well, we don't want to get pinched doing it."



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