Edward Stratemeyer.

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



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As soon as he arrived at the Hall, the small student was taken to a private bedroom and a doctor was sent for to attend him. In the meantime he was given something hot to drink and rolled in blankets, that he might not take cold. Not until that evening did Dr. Clay attempt to get the details of his story from the sufferer.

When the physician arrived he said that Frank's hurts were not of a serious nature. "He has been more frightened than anything else," said the doctor. "He must be kept very quiet for at least a week, and after that, Dr. Clay, you had better let him go slowly with his studies for a month or so."

"I'll do it," answered the master of Oak Hall.

"This lad is of a high-strung temperament and he has been under an unusual mental strain."

"You do not think he will suffer permanently?" asked the good doctor, anxiously.

"Oh, no, but he must be kept quiet."

In an easy kind of way Dr. Clay drew from Frank Bond his whole story of the initiation into the D. D. A. Club. From the lad he learned that Plum and Jasniff had been the prime movers in the so-called fun, and that Poole had backed them up. He at once sent for the three to come to his private office.

"I reckon we're in for it now," growled Plum, on receiving the summons.

"Deny everything," advised Nick Jasniff. He thought nothing of telling a falsehood whenever it suited him.

When the three entered the office Dr. Clay faced them sternly.

"I want to have a talk to you three young gentlemen," said the master of Oak Hall. "I have learned the truth of the Frank Bond affair and I want to know what you mean by such conduct."

The three tried to excuse themselves, but it was to no purpose. The doctor read them through and through, and then gave each a lecture that was never forgotten.

"Fun is fun, but this was not fun," said he. "Bond is a delicate and highly nervous boy, and to do what you did was to make him suffer most horribly. It is a wonder that you did not drive him insane. As it is, he will suffer for a long time to come, and if his parents see fit to prosecute you it will be your own fault if you are sent to jail. More than that, you have disgraced this school, and for that I intend to punish you myself. Each of you must remain inside of the academy grounds for the next two weeks, and in addition I will give you some extra lessons in history to learn, and I want them learned thoroughly. And more than this, if you are ever concerned in such a disgraceful proceeding again I shall dismiss you from Oak Hall."

When the three students left the doctor's office Nat Poole was so cowed that he trembled in every limb. Plum, too, was subdued, but Jasniff was boiling with inward rage.

"I didn't come here to be bulldozed," he declared. "If I want some fun I am going to have it. If old Clay sends me away, I guess I'll find some other school just as good." Jasniff was certainly a bad youth, but the others were still to find out how really bad he was.

After this a week slipped by rather quickly.

During that time Dave got word from the Lawrences that Phil was a trifle better physically, but that his head hurt him a great deal. He was still in bed and there was no telling when he would get around again.

"I trust it doesn't hurt his head permanently," said Dave, for at least the fiftieth time. He had heard of a boy who had had his head hurt by a water-wheel and had become silly in consequence.

"Let us hope for the best," answered Roger. "Poor Phil! It would certainly be awful if he didn't get around all right again!"

The injuries received by Phil and Frank Bond put something of a damper on the school and for some time matters ran along very quietly. Plum was troubled in more ways than one. He was afraid he was going to hear from Frank Bond's father or the police, and he was also worrying over his football wagers. He had lost all his spending money and he owed about thirty dollars, and his friends were pressing him to pay up. He had gone to Poole for a loan, but Nat had all he could do to pay his own losses. Jasniff had promised to do something, but since the Bond affair had said nothing more on the subject.

"Say, Nick, I thought you were going to help me get some money," said he one day to his crony, when he could keep silent no longer.

"Haven't you got some money from home?" asked the other boy, with a leer.

"No, my dad can't spare any just now," answered the bully, bluntly. He was growing desperate. His father had written that he must get along without spending money for at least a month more.

"Well, I'll let you know what I can do in a week or so," answered Jasniff, slowly.

"You said that before – right after the football game."

"Well, I haven't been able to see those fellows yet."

"What fellows?"

"Those I want to talk to."

"Can't you hurry it up, Nick? I want some money the worst way – ten or fifteen dollars at least."

The two were alone, down at the old boathouse, and Jasniff was smoking a cigarette on the sly. He blew a cloud of smoke to the ceiling.

"Wonder if I can trust you to keep mum?" he said, slowly and deliberately.

"About what?"

"About a little plan I've got to make some money."

"Haven't you always been able to trust me, Nick?"

"Certainly, but – this is out of the ordinary."

"I never went back on you yet."

"Will you promise to keep silent if I tell you something?"

"Yes."

"I've got a scheme to get hold of several hundred dollars."

"That's good."

"It will take some – er – quiet work on the part of both of us to do the trick."

"Well, as I said before, I am with you."

"Can I trust you absolutely?" demanded Jasniff, looking Plum closely in the face.

"You can."

"Then take a walk and we'll talk the matter over. But remember, if you say a word to anybody about it – well, you had better not, that's all!"

They walked to a secluded spot and there, slowly and cautiously, Nick Jasniff unfolded a plot to get money which filled Gus Plum with curiosity, fear, wonder, and fascination.

CHAPTER XXII
A BOY AND A MOTOR CYCLE

With all the excitement Dave had not forgotten his studies and each day he spent all the time that was necessary in preparing his lessons. He had a faculty of concentrating his mind upon what he was doing and this made learning easy.

"Going in for the medal of honor, I suppose," said Roger one day, as he observed Dave grinding away at a Latin exercise. "Well, if you win it I guess you'll deserve it."

"I am going to do what I can, Roger. I didn't come to Oak Hall just to cut up."

The medal of honor had been promised by Dr. Clay to the pupil who should stand highest in lessons and deportment at the end of the term. It was a beautiful medal of solid gold, and many students secretly hoped to win it. So far Polly Vane was in the lead, with Dave, Buster Beggs, Sam Day, Roger, and a student named Langdale close behind.

"Langdale says he is going to win or die in the attempt," went on the senator's son. "He is studying day and night, and so far his deportment has been about perfect."

"Well, mine hasn't been – at least, not according to Job Haskers," answered Dave. "He marks me down whenever he can."

"He does that to all of us," said Sam Day, who was near. "I wish he'd mark us up once."

"Which puts me in mind of a story," came from Shadow Hamilton, who was resting on the end of a bed. "A clothing dealer was going to have a fire sale. So he lit some damp paper in his stove and turned off the draught, so that his stock got all smoked up. Then he called his son Moses up. 'Make out new brice tickets,' says he to Moses. 'All right, fader,' says Moses, and goes to work, and the next day he put out suits of clothing labeled like this: 'Great Fire Sale! Suits marked down from $9.00 to $7.98.' Soon a man came along to buy a suit. 'Why,' says he, 'that suit was only $5.50 two days ago.' 'Yes,' says Moses. 'Vos it? Vell, ve haf der fire since, and now der suits vos all moth-broof!'"

"Phew! that's enough to drive all the lessons from a fellow's head!" cried Dave, after a short laugh. "Where did you get it, Shadow?"

"Maybe he picked it out of the Old Farmers' Almanack," said Buster Beggs.

"Which puts me in mind," began Shadow calmly. "A boy – "

"Not to-day!" interrupted Roger. "That's the fiftieth you've told this week. I'm going out for a spin, boys."

"Going to try that new motor cycle?" queried Dave, looking up.

"Yes."

"Well, don't let it run away with you," and Dave smiled broadly.

"No fear," said Roger, with a laugh, and left the dormitory.

The senator's son had received a new motor cycle the day before. It was a beautiful nickel-plated affair and Roger was very proud of it. He knew a little about motor cycles, so it did not take him long to get the machine in trim for use. He took a spin up and down the road, and let Dave and some others try it, and all pronounced it a beauty.

Roger was soon on the motor cycle and speeding in the direction of Oakdale. In the town he made a few small purchases, and then came away for a spin in the direction of Rockville, taking a side road which he thought in better condition than the main road.

The senator's son had covered a mile when he saw two boys on bicycles approaching him. He reduced his speed, and as the pair came closer he recognized Plum and Jasniff.

"Got your motor out, eh?" said the bully of Oak Hall, rather sourly.

"Yes," returned Roger, briefly.

"Can you get it to work?"

"The machine works perfectly."

"I'd rather have my bicycle," sneered Jasniff. "That thing makes too much noise for me."

"So would I," added Gus Plum. "Too much noise and too much smell."

"I'd rather have the motor cycle, so there you are," answered the senator's son, and moved on again, while the others did the same. "I guess it's a case of sour grapes," he told himself.

Roger had just passed a bend of the road when something happened to the battery which supplied the electric spark to ignite the gasoline. He set the motor cycle against a rock, and it was a full quarter of an hour before he could make the battery work. During that time somebody came through the bushes near him and looked at the youth, but Roger took no notice.

The motor cycle ready for use once more, the senator's son hopped on the saddle and turned on the power. All seemed to go well and presently, to make up for lost time, he put on all speed.

"It won't do to be late for supper," he reasoned. "Haskers will catch me sure."

He passed another turn, between some high bushes. The way was now downhill, leading over a small stream flowing into the Leming River. The motor cycle took the down-grade at a rapid rate of speed, and fearing an accident, Roger attempted to turn off the power and put on the brake.

To his horror he could not move the power lever, which had become caught in some manner. The motor cycle was now bounding down the road at a terrific rate of speed. Just ahead was the little bridge. Roger gave a vain tug or two. Then the machine struck the rough boards of the bridge, made a turn against the stone wall, and heels over head the senator's son went sailing over the stone wall to the rocks and water below!

It was a terrible fall, much worse than that experienced by Dave and Babcock when they had run into the fallen tree, and no sooner did Roger land than his senses forsook him. His legs and part of his body went into the water, while his head and arms rested on some sand.

The short autumn day drew to a close and Roger did not appear at Oak Hall. The other students went to supper and then for the first Dave learned that the senator's son had not gotten back.

"Where is Master Morr?" demanded Job Haskers, severely.

"He went out on his new motor cycle," answered Dave. "Perhaps he had a breakdown."

"If he was not sure he could get back in time he should not have gone out," snapped the disagreeable teacher.

Supper over, some of the students retired to their dormitories while others sought the library and the gymnasium. Dave and Ben looked around for Roger, but as he did not put in an appearance they obtained permission from Andrew Dale to go out on their bicycles and make a hunt for the missing one.

"He must be somewhere in this vicinity," said Dave.

"He said he was going to Oakdale and would then come back by the Cass Brook road," returned Ben.

"Let us take to the Cass Brook road then, Ben. Maybe we'll meet him."

With their bicycle lamps lit and turned up brightly, the pair set off, and were soon out of sight of Oak Hall. The road was smooth and they made rapid progress. Ben took to one side of the road while Dave pursued the other. All was dark and quiet, not a breath of air stirring the almost leafless trees.

A mile covered, they slowed down, to peer into the bushes beside the road. They were now within half a mile of the bridge where Roger had taken the tumble.

"Hello! here comes somebody!" cried Dave, presently, and looked ahead. The rays of the bicycle lamp fell on a figure covered with dirt and dripping wet. "I declare, it's Roger!"

Dave had scarcely uttered the words when the figure tottered and fell. Riding up, the two boys dismounted and rushed forward. Roger lay in the middle of the road, his face resting on one arm.

"Roger what is it?" asked Dave. "Are you badly hurt?"

"I – I took a header – over the bridge!" gasped the senator's son, when he could speak. "I – fell in th – the water!" His teeth began to chatter. "My, but it was co – co – cold!"

"Any bones broken?"

"I – I reckon no – not. But I am awfully we – weak!"

"Where is the motor cycle?" asked Ben.

"I – I do – don't know."

"Here, put on my sweater," said Dave, and hastened to take off that which was wet. "We must get him to the Hall somehow," he added.

"If he isn't hurt he had better walk," returned Ben. "It will help to get his blood in circulation."

"Maybe I can walk if you'll help me," answered Roger.

The two bicycles were hidden in the bushes and Dave got on one side of the senator's son and Ben on the other. Thus supported, the sufferer started again for Oak Hall. He was hurried along as fast as possible, and arrived there feeling somewhat warmer than when discovered by Dave and Ben. Under Dr. Clay's directions he was put to bed and given some hot tea to drink. Only his left hand was bruised and this was washed and plastered up.

Having gotten Roger to Oak Hall, Dave and Ben received permission to go back to the brook road for their wheels. They found the bicycles where they had left them, and then went on a hunt for Roger's motor cycle.

"It certainly ought to be at the bridge," said Ben.

"If it didn't blow up," answered Dave, "or run off of its own accord. Roger said he couldn't shut off the power."

"If it ran off alone I don't think it would go very far, Dave."

The bridge reached, they looked around in all directions but could see nothing of the motor cycle. They went down to where Roger had landed and saw the impression of his body and feet in the wet sand.

"He can thank his stars that he didn't break his neck," said Dave. "This beats the fall Paul and I took."

"It's queer you never got to the bottom of that accident, Dave."

"Maybe I will, some day. I am certain that tree didn't fall of itself."

Having spent fully a quarter of an hour in looking for the motor cycle without success, there seemed to be nothing to do but to return to Oak Hall. This they did, and stored their wheels in the room set apart at the gymnasium for that purpose.

"Didn't find the motor cycle, eh?" said Sam Day, who was practising on the rings. "That is certainly queer."

"Maybe the motor cycle was stolen," suggested Shadow.

"Who would steal such a machine?" asked Ben. "Very few know how to run them."

"They might have taken it away in a wagon. Some people are mean enough to steal anything they lay hands on."

Dave and Ben spent some time in cleaning their bicycles and in oiling them. Then they left the gymnasium in company with Sam Day and several others. As they approached the Hall, Macklin came running out.

"Did you hear the news?" cried the younger student.

"News?" queried Dave. "What news?"

"About Roger Morr?"

"We know he had a bad tumble, and we know we can't find his motor cycle," said Ben.

"Oh, so the machine is gone too," went on Chip Macklin. "Well, that certainly beats all!"

"What beats all?" asked Dave.

"This whole affair about Roger. When they put him to bed they didn't give his clothing much attention. Now they have just found out that he either lost everything he had or else he was robbed."

"Lost? Robbed?" cried Dave. "Are you sure of this?"

"Yes. You can go up yourself if you wish."

"I will," said Dave, and ran up to the dormitory. Several boys were present and also Dr. Clay and Andrew Dale.

"This is remarkable and must be investigated," Dr. Clay was saying. "Ah, here is Master Porter now. Did you find the motor cycle?"

"No, sir, it wasn't in sight anywhere. Ben and I looked high and low for it."

"Then that must have been stolen too," said Andrew Dale.

"They tell me Roger was robbed," said Ben. "What did he lose?"

"Lost a whole lot of things," replied Roger himself. "My watch and my diamond stickpin, and a gold ring, some loose change, and forty dollars that father sent me for some new books I've been ordering! Somebody cleaned me out for fair!" And the senator's son spoke very disconsolately.

CHAPTER XXIII
WHAT A RUNAWAY LED TO

The news that Roger had been robbed while unconscious spread rapidly, and many were the speculations as to who had done the wicked deed.

"I suppose it was somebody who just happened to come along," said Dave. "But what a mean thing to do! That person did not know but that Roger was dying, and made no effort to assist him!"

Roger's story was a brief one. How long he had remained unconscious he did not know. He came to his senses with a shiver, to find himself lying on some rocks under one end of the stone bridge. The lower portion of his body was wet and the chill had aided in reviving him. When he felt strong enough he had crawled up to the road and looked for his motor cycle. Not finding the machine, he had started for Oak Hall on foot. He felt himself growing weaker every step and fell prostrate, as already described, just as Dave and Ben discovered him.

"I am awfully glad you came along," said the senator's son to his two chums. "I don't know what I should have done if you hadn't."

"And you didn't know a thing about being robbed, then?" queried Ben.

"No, all I knew was that I was cold and as weak as a sick cat," was the answer.

A hunt was made for the robber, and the students spent several hours in searching around the spot. Nothing was found, and the local authorities were notified.

This robbery, coupled with those that had gone before, aroused the whole community. Many felt that they were no longer safe in their homes, and a meeting was held in Oakdale and a reward of two hundred dollars put up by the citizens for the capture and conviction of the offenders.

"I will get a private detective to look into this," said Dr. Clay and did so. The detective, a quiet-looking individual named Merivel, arrived the next day and went to work immediately. But the task proved too much for him, and inside of a week he gave it up.

"I reckon I am out my machine and my valuables," said Roger, who was around once more and as well as ever. "But I do wish I could lay hands on the rascal who went through me!"

The days slipped by, and again Dave and his chums devoted themselves to their studies. It was now growing colder and there was a suggestion of snow in the air.

"It won't be long before we have snow and ice," said Sam. "Hurrah for some fine skating!"

"And snowballing," added Buster. "Don't forget the fun we had last year."

"How we did pelt Pop Swingly!"

"And old Haskers!"

"You've got to be careful what you do to Haskers," said Shadow. "He is just watching for a chance to get somebody into trouble."

"Do you remember how Dave beat Plum in that race on the ice?" said Roger. "That was great!"

"By the way, Plum is cutting quite a dash again," said Buster. "His father must have sent him a lot of spending money."

"Then he can pay up those bets I heard about," said Macklin.

"He has paid them up, so I was told," replied another student. "But I'll wager it made him mad to do so."

"He had no business to bet against his own school," said Sam. "It was a mean piece of business. I've cut him dead for doing it."

What was said about Gus Plum having money was true. He had paid all his debts and in addition had spent several dollars in having a so-called "good time" with Jasniff and Poole in a tavern on the outskirts of Rockville. But he was not particularly happy, if one was to judge by the worried and scared look that often showed itself on his face. At times it looked as if he wanted to draw away from Nick Jasniff, but that student clung to him closer than ever.

One Friday afternoon Dave, Roger, and Ben got out of school a little early and resolved to walk to Oakdale, just for the exercise and to buy a few things of trifling importance. They were soon on the way, and arriving at the town lost no time in making their purchases. In Oakdale they met Mrs. Fairchild and asked her if she had heard anything concerning the robbery at her house.



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