Edward Stratemeyer.

Dave Porter and His Classmates

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"I am glad you did not give in to him," said Vera. "I like a boy who can stand up for his rights."

"You can trust Dave to do that," said Ben. "He doesn't take water for anybody."

"Oh, come now, Ben – " murmured Dave.

"I believe Mr. Basswood," said Vera. "I hope Mr. Porter always does stick up for himself. I never liked a boy or a man – or a girl either – who was cowardly."

After that the boys and girls listened to the auctioneer for several minutes. Then Phil suggested soda to Mary Feversham, and all of the party walked over to a corner drug store, where hot chocolate was to be had, and there Phil and Dave treated.

The crowd was in the act of drinking the beverage, and Dave had just handed Vera her glass, when, glancing toward the doorway, he saw Link Merwell and a strange young man standing there. Link started and stared rudely at the girls. Then he whispered something to his companion, and both turned from the drug store and disappeared up the street.

"Did you see them?" whispered Dave to Phil.

"I saw somebody look in and walk away. Who was it?"

"Link Merwell and a stranger."

"Humph! I suppose Merwell didn't want to come in while we were here," murmured the shipowner's son. And there the subject was dropped. Little did Dave dream of what was to be the result of Link Merwell's unexpected appearance while he was in the company of Vera Rockwell.

The boys did not have much time to spend in town, and soon they bade the girls good-by and hurried back to Oak Hall. It was plain to be seen that Phil thought the trip an extra pleasant one.

"No use in talking; Mary Feversham is all right," he said to Dave, enthusiastically. "Finest girl I ever ran across."

"Phil, I'm afraid you're smitten," answered Dave, with a laugh. "You'll be dreaming about her next."

"Perhaps – I don't care if I do," was the reply, which showed that Phil was pretty far "gone" indeed. "But say," he went on, suddenly. "Talking about dreaming, I want to tell you something. Do you remember how Shadow Hamilton used to walk in his sleep?"

"I don't think anybody is liable to forget it," answered Dave, thinking of Shadow's theft, during his sleep-walking, of Doctor Clay's valuable collection of rare postage stamps as related in a previous volume of this series.

"Shadow is at it again – although not so bad as before."

"How do you know?" asked Ben.

"Because the other night I woke up and heard him getting something out of his trunk. He was at the trunk about ten minutes and then went to bed again. In the morning I asked him about it and he declared positively that he hadn't gotten up at all. He was much disturbed over what I told him."

"Maybe you were only dreaming," suggested Dave.

"No, I wasn't – I was as wide awake as I am now."

"It would be too bad if Shadow got to sleep-walking again," said Dave. "We'll have to watch him a little. We don't want him to get into trouble."

During the next two weeks Dave found but little time for recreation.

A test in two studies was in progress, and he made up his mind to pass with flying colors. He went in for a regular "grind," as Roger expressed it, and was at his books fully as much as was Polly Vane; indeed, the two often studied together.

"Come on out for a skate – it may be the last of the season," said the senator's son, one afternoon, but Dave shook his head.

"Can't do it, Roger – I've got my Latin to do, and four of those problems in geometry, – and some German."

"Oh, bother the lessons! Can't you let the geometry and the German slide?"

"Oh, I've made up my mind to get not less than ninety per cent. in the test this week."

"Then you won't really come?" Roger lingered in the doorway as he spoke.

"Not to-day. Have you got that geometry?"

"No – I thought I might do it this evening."

"What about the German?"

"Oh, perhaps I'll do that, too. I don't care much for the German, anyway."

"But you ought to study your lesson, now you have taken it up, Roger."

There was a minute of silence, and Dave turned to his text-books and papers and began to write. Roger drummed on the door and heaved a deep sigh. The ice on the river was growing soft – in a few days skating might be a thing of the past.

"It seems to me you don't care for skating as much as you did, Dave," he said, presently.

"Oh, yes, I do, Roger; but I'm not going to think about it while I have studying to do. I can't forget that, after all is said and done, I am here to get a good education, and that both my father and Mr. Wadsworth expect me to make the most of my opportunities."

Dave returned again to his books and papers and another silence followed. Then the senator's son came in, hung up his skates in the closet, and got out his own schoolbooks and papers.

"Well, if we've got to grind, I suppose it is up to me to do my share," he remarked, with another sigh. "But that ice – "

"Don't do it on my account, Roger."

"Yes, but, Dave, I can't stand it to see you grinding alone – when I know I ought to grind too. My father wants me to get a good education, too. So here goes," and then Roger began to study just as hard as Dave and Polly. Then Phil came in, and Shadow, and seeing the condition of affairs, went at it like the rest. Dave's example certainly carried a wonderful influence with it, even though the youth himself did not fully realize it.

"This fifth problem in geometry is a corker," observed Shadow, presently. "If the gable of a house is fourteen feet long on one side, and the angle at the top is one of forty degrees, and the other side is but eleven feet long, how – "

"Don't say a word, I've been working on that for half an hour," said Phil. "Tried it this noon, after dinner, and couldn't get it."

"It's very easy," answered Polly.

"Have you got it, Dave?" asked Roger.

"Yes, but I didn't find it so easy."

"Guess I'll climb up some gable and measure it," said Shadow. He began suddenly to grin. "That puts me in mind of a story. Once a college professor – "

"Don't!" begged Polly. "I have some figures in my head I don't wish to lose!"

"Then nail 'em down," answered the story-teller of the school, calmly. "This college professor was paying a visit to some lumbermen and he was trying to convince one old tree-chopper of the value of an education. Says he, 'Now, look at it. You don't know how to measure a plank accurately.' 'Don't I, though?' says the lumberman. 'No, you don't, and I can prove it,' says the professor. 'Now, supposing you had a plank twenty feet long and one foot wide at one end and running up evenly to two feet wide at the other end. Where would you saw that plank crosswise so that one end would contain as much wood as the other? You can't do that problem and I know it, because you never studied higher mathematics.' 'That's dead easy,' says the old lumberman. 'I don't even need a pencil to figger it out,' says he. 'Jest balance thet plank on a bit of stick, an' cut her where she balances!' And then the college professor didn't have anything more to say, for he made out the lumberman was a hopeless case." And at this tale all the boys present snickered.

"Shadow would have a job climbing up on a gable to measure it," said Phil. "I'd rather do it on paper." Then Polly Vane and Dave gave Shadow some points as to how the problem should be worked out.

In some way Link Merwell and Nat Poole got an inkling of the fact that it was known they had done all in their power to break up the initiation ceremonies of the Gee Eyes, and, not to be cornered, both of the boys did all they could to keep out of the reach of their fellow-students. But the Gee Eyes did not forget, and at a special meeting of the club it was voted to give both Poole and Merwell "the cold shoulder" until something more definite could be done. By "the cold shoulder" was meant that no member of the club was to associate with Poole or Merwell or speak to them unless required to do so during school sessions. Outside of the schoolrooms they were to be as utterly ignored as though they did not exist.

"I think that will bring Nat Poole to terms, without going further," said Roger. "He hates to be left to himself – I've noticed that many times."

"Well, it may have that effect on Nat," answered Dave. "But I think it will only make Merwell more savage," and in this surmise he was correct.

The tests proved a severe strain on many of the boys, and Dave was glad when they were over. What the standing of each student was would not be known until later.

"Now I'd like to go skating," said he to Roger, but this could not be, for warm weather had set in and the ice and snow were rapidly passing away. That night it rained, and this made everything outside very sloppy.

Dave went to bed early, for he was tired out. He slept soundly for several hours and then awoke with a start, for something had brushed his face. He sat up, and was just in time to see a form gliding from the dormitory.

"Hello! what can that mean?" he murmured to himself, and then he sprang up. "Guess I'll investigate." And then, putting on a pair of slippers and donning a long overcoat that was handy, he made after the person who had just disappeared.


When Dave reached the hallway he saw, by a dim light that was burning, a form at the lower end, moving toward a back stairs. An instant later the form glided up the stairs toward the third floor of the school building. The form was in white, and Dave knew it must be one of the students in his nightdress.

"Something is going on," he thought. "Wonder if that is Phil or Roger?"

Curious to learn what the midnight prowler was up to, Dave followed the unknown to the third story of the building. He saw the fellow walk to a side hall. Here it was almost dark, for the servants' rooms were in that part of the building. He stopped and listened and heard an odd creaking and a scraping sound. Then he went forward once more.

Turning into the side hall, a gust of cold wind struck him. He knew it came from overhead, and then he remembered that at the end of the side hall was a ladder leading to a scuttle of the roof. The scuttle had been thrown open, and wind and rain were coming down through the opening.

Dave's curiosity was now excited to the top pitch. He felt sure that the servants had not left the scuttle open on retiring or that it had been blown open by the wind. Consequently, the midnight prowler must have opened it, and if so, for what purpose excepting to get out on the wet and slippery roof?

Suddenly an idea flashed into Dave's mind, and without further ado he ran to the ladder and mounted it with all speed. At the top he thrust his head through the scuttle opening and looked around that portion of the school roof which was visible from that point.

He had expected to see a certain person, but he was disappointed. Yet this did not make him hesitate regarding his course of action. He crawled out on the roof, slippery and treacherous with slush, and made his way cautiously but rapidly to where there were an angle and a high gable, with a wide chimney between.

As he gained the side of the chimney and stood there in the rain, slush, and wind, he saw a sight that both thrilled and chilled him. The mysterious student in white was crawling up the gable and was already close to the ridge!

"Shadow Hamilton!" murmured Dave. "He is sleep-walking again!"

Dave was right – it was indeed poor Shadow, and as fast asleep as a sleep-walker can get. The lad had a tape measure in one hand and was muttering to himself:

"If the gable of a house is fourteen feet long on one side, and the angle at the top – " And then the rest was lost in the wind.

"He's dreaming of that problem in geometry," said Dave to himself. "It's got on his nerves."

He wondered what he could do to aid the sleep-walker. He was afraid to call to Shadow, for fear the boy might awaken suddenly and tumble off the roof. Shadow was now on the ridge, and, to Dave's added horror, he stood upright, the tape measure in his hands. Then he began to walk to the very end of the ridgepole.

"If he falls into the yard he'll break his neck sure!"

Such was Dave's agonizing thought, and despite the cold, the heavy perspiration stood out on his forehead.


It was a voice from the scuttle opening and came so unexpectedly it made the youth start. Turning back, he made out Phil in the dim light.

"Phil!" he whispered.

"What are you doing up there, Dave?"

"I followed Shadow Hamilton."


"Yes. He is sleep-walking again and has climbed to the ridge of the gable roof. I don't dare to awaken him for fear of an accident."

"I saw you go out and I was wondering what was up. Then I missed Shadow and came after you. It's too bad, Dave! But I imagine the very best thing you can do is to let him alone until he comes back."

"I don't like to take the responsibility, Phil. If anything should happen I'd never forgive myself. I'll tell you what I wish you'd do."


"Run and call Mr. Dale. He knows something about these cases. He once told me he had a brother who walked in his sleep and did all sorts of strange things."

"All right, I'll call him," answered the shipowner's son, and disappeared down the scuttle ladder.

Going back to the chimney, Dave now saw that Shadow had reached the end of the ridgepole and was kneeling down upon it. Holding out the tape measure he proceeded to make several imaginary measurements, all the while muttering to himself. The sight almost caused Dave's heart to stop beating, for the slightest miscalculation on the sleep-walker's part would have caused a serious if not fatal accident.

After what seemed a long time Dave heard Phil coming back. He was accompanied by Andrew Dale, the head teacher, who had stopped just long enough to get on some of his clothing.

"Where is he?" whispered Mr. Dale, as he came out in the wind and rain.

"There," answered Dave, and pointed out the form of the sleep-walker.

"Have you tried to speak to him?"

"No, I was afraid."

"Then, don't say a word till he comes down to a safer place."

After that the three watched Shadow Hamilton for several minutes while he continued his calculation and used the tape measure. Then they saw the sleep-walker wind up the measure.

"He is coming down!" whispered Phil, and he was right. Slowly Shadow climbed down from the gable roof and made his way toward the scuttle. He had taken but a few steps when suddenly he slipped and fell.

"Oh!" he cried, and looked around in bewilderment. "Where – "

"Shadow!" cried Dave, and caught him by the arm. "You are all right, so don't worry."

"But where am I?" insisted the sleep-walker.

"On the roof."

"You have been walking in your sleep, Hamilton," explained Mr. Dale. "Come, let me help you down the ladder. You are soaked through, and if you don't get into a warm bed very quickly you may catch your death of cold."

Completely bewildered, Shadow allowed himself to be taken to the ladder and aided to descend. Then the scuttle was closed and hooked.

"I do not think it best for you to go back to the dormitory," said the head teacher. "I'll put you in a warm room by yourself. But perhaps it would be as well for somebody to stay with you for the rest of the night," and Andrew Dale looked questioningly at Dave and Phil.

"I'll stay," said Dave, quickly.

"Very well. To-morrow we'll talk this over and see what is best to do. There is no use in trying to do so now, when we are all cold, wet, and tired."

The head teacher led the way to a private bedroom that was well heated and had Dave go back to the dormitory for some extra clothing. Then he left Dave and Shadow to themselves.

"This breaks me all up," said Shadow, moodily. "I thought I was all over those tricks."

"It was the hard study did it, and the tests," answered Dave. "You had that geometrical problem in your mind and couldn't get rid of it. Maybe you'll never walk in your sleep again."

"I sincerely trust not, Dave. It was good of you and the others to help me," and Shadow gave his chum a grateful look.

"We did very little, Shadow – indeed, I didn't know what to do. But when I saw you on the very end of the ridge I can tell you my heart was in my throat."

Before going to bed both boys indulged in a good rubbing down and consequently the exposure to the elements did them no harm. In the morning Shadow was excused from attending school and Horsehair was sent to town to get some of the medicine which the sleep-walker had taken in the past, after the exposure of his former exploits during the night.

With the coming of spring the boys had a vacation of several days. A few of the students went home, but the majority remained at Oak Hall, and, to pass away the time, indulged in all sorts of sports and pastimes, including a funny initiation of the Soden brothers.

At New Year a new gymnasium teacher had been engaged, – a fine man, who was an expert gymnast and also a good boxer and fencer. Since coming back to the Hall, Dave had become interested in both boxing and fencing, and spent some time under the new instructor.

"I believe a chap ought to know how to defend himself," he said to Roger. "In knocking around one doesn't know what kind of a hole he may be placed in, – and you can never know too much."

"Well, I like boxing and fencing myself," answered the senator's son, and after that he and Dave had many a time together, with the foils and gloves.

Link Merwell did not care much for fencing, but he took readily to boxing, and he caused Nat Poole to take up the sport. As the pair were still totally ignored by the Gee Eyes they had to box against one another or with some of the younger lads.

"Those fellows are afraid to box with me," said Link Merwell, on several occasions. "They know that I can do every one of them up in short order." He referred to Dave and his chums, and made the assertion in the presence of a large crowd of students.

At first none of the Gee Eyes paid any attention to the bully, but gradually the boasting nettled them, and some of them talked it over. Then came a report from little Frank Bond to the effect that Link Merwell was saying he had asked Dave to box him and the latter had declined because he was afraid.

"Dave, if I were you, I wouldn't stand for that," said Buster Beggs.

"What am I to do?" asked Dave. "The Gee Eyes voted to leave Merwell and Poole severely alone, and I've got to stick by my word."

"Well, I guess they'll vote for the boxing contest – if you want to stand up before him."

"I certainly am not afraid to do so."

As a consequence of this talk, Buster spoke to Luke Watson, and there was a hasty meeting of the Gee Eyes and it was voted that Dave should box Merwell if he so desired.

Not knowing of this meeting and of its result, Link Merwell strode into the gymnasium the next afternoon, in company with Nat Poole, and proceeded to put on a pair of boxing gloves.

"Too bad, Nat, but I can't wake any of those fellows up," he said, loudly. "Every one of 'em is afraid to face me."

"How about Dave Porter?" asked Nat Poole, in an equally loud tone.

"Worst of the bunch. I guess he's afraid I'll knock the head off of him."

These words were spoken so that Dave might hear them. There were a few seconds of silence, and then Dave walked up to Merwell.

"So you think I am afraid to box you, Merwell?" he said, quietly.

"Oh, so you've woke up, eh?" sneered the bully. "Thought you and your crowd had gone to sleep."

"I want to know if you think I am afraid to box you?"

"Of course you are afraid."

"You are mistaken – and I'll prove it to you in very short order. How soon do you want to box?"

At this Link Merwell was taken by surprise, and his face showed it. But he was "game," and drew himself up.

"Any time you want me to box you I'll be ready."

"Then we'll box right now," answered Dave.


"A boxing match!"

"I think Dave Porter will win."

"I don't know about that. Link Merwell has been doing a great deal of boxing lately and has it down pretty fine."

"That may be, but Dave is as quick as they make them."

So the talk ran on, as the boys in the gymnasium gathered around the would-be contestants. They felt that, no matter who won, they were going to see something worth while. Many secretly hoped that the boxing match would degenerate into a regular fight, for they knew that Dave and Merwell were bitter enemies, and the majority wanted to see the big bully soundly whipped.

"We'll have to have a referee and a timekeeper," said Dave. "Who shall they be?"

"A referee and a timekeeper?" repeated Link Merwell. "Why don't you start her up and have done with it?"

"This is to be no prize fight, Merwell. I shall box you for points only."

"Oh!" The bully put as much of a sneer into the exclamation as possible. "Afraid to finish it up, eh?"

"Perhaps you'll get all you want before we stop," answered Dave, calmly.

"What kind of gloves do you want? The thickest in the place, I suppose."

"No, a medium glove will do for me. Mr. Dodsworth recommends the number five."

"Humph! I'm willing to box with a number one if you wish!"

"We might as well box without gloves as with number ones. This is to be no slugging match, as I intimated before. If you are afraid to box for points say so."

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