The Putnam Hall Rebellionñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
Then Jack was led from the office to the rear of the Hall, where there was a sort of guardroom. This was an apartment not over ten feet square and having a single window, high up from the floor. Outside, a tall iron fence ran around the window in the form of a semi-circle. In the guardroom were two chairs and a washstand. The place was damp and gloomy.
“You’ll stay here for the present,” said Pluxton Cuddle, as he thrust Jack inside. Then the gag was removed, and his hands were unfastened.
“I shall report this outrage to Captain Putnam,” answered the young major. And then the door was closed and locked on him, and he was left alone.
THE ESCAPE FROM THE GUARDROOM
The young major was in no agreeable frame of mind when he found himself locked in the guardroom. He had been attacked in an underhanded fashion and rather roughly treated, and one button had been torn from his uniform. He sat down on a chair and shut his teeth tightly.
“This is the limit,” he mused. “When I get out I rather think I’ll make it warm for both Crabtree and Cuddle! They have no right whatever to treat me in this fashion.”
A quarter of an hour passed – to the young major it appeared a much longer time – when he heard footsteps approaching and the door was unlocked. He sprang up, hoping for freedom. But he was mistaken, instead another cadet was thrown into the room, protesting loudly. Then the door was secured as before.
“Ritter!” exclaimed Jack, in astonishment.
“Oh, so you are here, eh?” cried the school bully. “I thought I was to be alone. This is a fine way to treat a student.”
“If you mean that for sarcasm I agree with you,” answered the young major.
“Say, was it you gave me away to old Crabtree?” demanded Reff Ritter suddenly.
“I don’t know what you mean, Reff.”
“He sent Peleg Snuggers up to the door of our dormitory, stating he wanted to have a talk with me. As soon as I got to the office Cuddle and some of those outside guards pounced on me like a lot of wolves. I gave Cuddle a good one in the nose and he hit me over the head with a cane – and then I was thrown in here. Somebody must have told them about the inkwell and the hot potatoes and plates. I believe it was you!” And Ritter gave Jack an ugly look.
“I didn’t say a word, Reff – I give my word of honor.”
“I don’t believe you, Jack Ruddy. If you didn’t, why am I here?”
“For that matter, why am I here?”
“I don’t know, excepting as a witness against me.”
“You are mistaken, Reff. Whether you believe it or not, I did not tell Crabtree a word about you – in fact, your name wasn’t mentioned to me. I was asked to come down to the office and I went – and then I was attacked from behind, made a prisoner, and brought here.”
“Humph!” muttered the bully, and that was all he said for the time being.
Several more minutes passed and then from a distance they heard a sudden cry for help.
Both leaped up from their chairs.
“That was Bob Grenwood’s voice!” exclaimed Jack. “It came from the direction of the office. Maybe they are serving him as they served us.”
“Maybe,” returned Reff Ritter, and his face lost some of its gloomy look. It was a case of “misery loves company,” with him. The young major’s words proved true, and in a few minutes the former quartermaster of the Hall battalion was thrown violently into the guardroom. His collar was partly torn, and blood was flowing from a scratch on his cheek.
“They must have had quite a time with you, Bob,” said Jack, after greeting the new arrival.
“They sure did!” was the reply. “We had a pitched battle in the office, and Crabtree hit me in the mouth and I landed on his left eye. I guess he’ll carry the eye in mourning for a while.”
“It looks as if they were going to make all of us prisoners one by one,” said Reff Ritter.
“That’s about the size of it.”
“This guardroom won’t hold over a dozen,” said Jack. “What will they do with the rest? I’ve got an idea!” he added suddenly.
“Old Crabtree is sending for the leader of every dormitory. More than likely he thinks if he can get the leaders under lock and key the other cadets will knuckle under to him.”
“Maybe they’ll do it,” growled Reff Ritter. “When I came away Mumps and Billy Sabine wanted to give in. Mumps, the sneak, was scared half to death.”
“If they take the leader from each dormitory you’ll soon see Frank Barringer and Mart Ballock coming along,” said Bob Grenwood.
The three youths talked the situation over until another noise was heard in the hallway. Then Frank Barringer was shoved into the guardroom. He was a dignified, gentlemanly youth and showed little resistance.
“Mr. Cuddle, I protest against such rough treatment,” he said. “I shall hold you responsible for what you have done. If Captain Putnam will not take up the matter, I shall get my father to do so. I thought this was a young gentlemen’s school, not a penitentiary.”
“Don’t talk to me, sir, don’t talk to me!” spluttered Pluxton Cuddle. “I know what I am doing!” And then the door was banged into Frank’s face.
“Number Four!” cried Jack. “We are gradually filling the ranks. Before long we’ll have enough recruits for an awkward squad!” And he smiled faintly.
“Mart Ballock next,” said Bob Grenwood, and he was right, the cadet mentioned was thrown into the guardroom a few minutes later. Then came two more cadets, the head lads in two other dormitories.
“Boys, I’ve got a scheme,” said Jack. “There are now seven of us here. Why not try to break away when they come with the next cadet? I’d rather be out of the school than in such a gloomy hole as this.”
“I am with you!” answered Bob Grenwood.
“It may mean some fighting,” mused Frank Barringer.
“What of it?” blustered Reff Ritter. “I’ll fight if the rest will. Let us give it to ’em good when they come!”
“But if we get away, where are we to go to?” questioned Mart Ballock. “I haven’t a cent of money with me.”
“We can camp out, if we can’t do anything else,” said Jack. “We could get a tent or two, some provisions, and go up the lake shore – ”
“Hurrah! that’s the idea!” exclaimed another cadet. “We could remain out till Captain Putnam came back.”
“What of the other fellows?” asked Reff Ritter.
“They can join us if they want to,” answered the young major.
“That will be a regular rebellion,” said Frank Barringer.
“Don’t you think we are justified, Frank?”
“Oh, yes, Jack – under the circumstances we are justified in doing almost anything. Besides, if we get away, I’ll have a chance to send that telegram to Captain Putnam. It ought to be sent at once.”
“We ought to have some plan of action,” said Bob Grenwood. “After we break away what shall we do?”
“We ought to fix it so that the fellows left behind will know what we are up to,” said the young major. “Perhaps they might get out tonight and follow us – if they wanted to.”
After considerable discussion it was decided that, given the chance, each cadet should get out of the Hall as best he could. All were to meet later at the ruins of an old barn, half a mile up the lake shore.
“Don’t be worried if I don’t show up on time,” said Jack. “If I can I want to let the other fellows know what is going on.” And then he told of the hole in the closet ceiling and of how it led to the trunk room above.
There was little time to say more, for soon more footsteps sounded in the hallway and again the door was opened. This time the prisoner was Fred Century.
“Now, boys, all together!” shouted Jack, and leaped for the half-closed door. “Come on, Fred!” he added. “We are off for Bailey’s old barn.” He spoke the last words softly, so that those outside might not hear.
Then came a wild rush, and blows were freely exchanged between the guards and Pluxton Cuddle and the cadets. One of the guards was thrown down and the other received a kick in the shins that made him roar with pain. Cuddle made a grab for Jack, but Reff Ritter caught him by the ankles and threw him on his back, where he lay for the moment, his wind knocked out of him.
The encounter made considerable noise, and before the cadets could get away Josiah Crabtree and one of the guards from upstairs appeared on the scene. Crabtree held a cane in his hand and struck several lads. Then Jack caught hold of the cane and wrenched it from the teacher’s grasp.
“Don’t – don’t hit me, Ruddy!” gasped the teacher, as he saw the cane go up.
“Then get out of our way!” answered the young major, and Josiah Crabtree shrank back in terror. The next moment Jack was bounding through the hallway, and the other cadets scattered in several directions. Some went into the classrooms and out of the windows while two ran out of a side door. Jack mounted a side stairs, skipped past a guard who looked bewildered and frightened, and then sped for the trunk room. But as he reached the door his heart failed him. He remembered how the door had been barricaded from the inside by a heavy trunk.
“If I can’t shove it back, I can’t get in!” he thought, and tried the door. Just as he did so it came open, and to his surprise he found himself confronted by Pepper.
“Jack!” gasped The Imp. “Where have you been? I was just going on a scouting expedition after you.”
“Shut the door – and push the trunk back into place,” answered the young major. “I’ve got a great story to tell,” he added. “We are now in open rebellion!”
HOW THE CADETS RAN AWAY
While the uproar below was still in progress, Jack and Pepper climbed down to the dormitory, and there the young major told of all that had occurred since his departure.
“Old Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle are carrying matters with a high hand,” he went on, “and we have decided to stand it no longer.”
“Well, we about reached the same conclusion here,” said Andy. “Pepper was going to try to find you, and then we were going to see if we couldn’t get the whole crowd to run away.”
“I hope none of the fellows who were in the guardroom with me are captured,” continued Jack. “If Crabtree or Cuddle laid his hands on anyone it will go hard with that cadet, I know.”
The guards had all gone below, so the cadets in the dormitories were left to themselves. They crowded to the various windows and soon espied Bob Grenwood, Reff Ritter and two others on the road beyond the campus. As soon as the runaway cadets saw that they were noticed they raised their hands and beckoned for those left behind to join them. At this the cadets in the windows nodded vigorously. And so the plan to run away from Putnam Hall grew rapidly.
“I see two of the guards going after those cadets,” said one student who chanced to have a field glass. “But I doubt if they catch our fellows.”
“It will soon be night,” said Dale. “In the darkness getting away ought to be easy.”
“Provided the teachers don’t get a stronger guard,” answered Stuffer. “Now they are on the warpath there is no telling how far they will go. I expect to see one of the cadets beheaded next.”
“Or made to learn ten pages of Latin backward,” put in Joe Nelson, and this remark caused everybody to laugh.
“If we are going to run away, we want some definite plan of action,” said Jack. “I’ve got my own idea, but I don’t know if it will suit the rest.”
“What is the plan?” asked several.
“That we get away as best we can, and, if possible, get some tents and rations, too. If we can’t get the rations from the pantry and the storehouse, get them from the storekeepers of Cedarville. I am sure we can raise some money, and we can get trust for the rest. Then we can go off and establish a regular camp until we hear from Captain Putnam.”
This plan met with instant favor, and the idea was quickly circulated to some of the other dormitories. Fully three-quarters of the cadets agreed to run away, if the chance offered. The others, including Mumps and Billy Sabine, were too timid and said they would not go.
Of the lads who had broken out of the guardroom only one was captured and that was Frank Barringer. He and Josiah Crabtree had a warm discussion after the capture, and what Barringer said made the teacher somewhat nervous.
“You are carrying matters with a high hand, Mr. Crabtree, and when Captain Putnam comes back I feel certain he will not uphold you,” said Barringer.
“We must have order,” grumbled the teacher.
“That is true, but you must try to get it in the right way. To treat the cadets as if they were hoodlums is not the right way.”
“We know what we are doing,” interposed Pluxton Cuddle. “You boys eat too much, and – ”
“Mr. Cuddle, I am talking to Mr. Crabtree,” said Barringer, with dignity. “He is the oldest teacher in the Hall, and he is responsible for what is happening.”
“I am responsible for what happened in the classrooms,” said Josiah Crabtree, quickly. “The outside care of the students was left to Mr. Cuddle.”
“And I know what I am doing,” said that individual, pompously. “I am willing to assume all responsibility, and I want no advice from you.”
“All right – we’ll wait till Captain Putnam gets back,” said Frank; and there the discussion ended. But the talk made Josiah Crabtree nervous and after that he left the management of affairs largely in Pluxton Cuddle’s hands. Perhaps he was “casting an anchor to windward,” and he had need to, as later events proved.
Before the excitement attending the escape from the guardroom came to an end, it was growing dark. When it was time for supper the door to each dormitory was suddenly thrust open and a basket was set inside, containing bread and butter and a tin pail full of milk, with a glass.
“Hello, they have given up the idea of starving us!” cried Dale.
“Huh! Nothing but bread and butter!” grumbled Stuffer. “I’m glad some of that other grub is left.”
“They are afraid to let us go without food,” said Andy. “Perhaps they think we’ll grow desperate on empty stomachs and break down the doors and create trouble generally.”
“’Tis a great shame old Crabtree is so pig-headed,” observed Emerald. “I shall be greatly surprised if the captain is afther upholdin’ him in it.”
While it was growing dark the boys completed, as far as they could, their plans for leaving Putnam Hall. Of course, much depended on chance and there was considerable fear that their actions might fail. Word was circulated that the movement should commence at exactly midnight, and in the meanwhile every cadet should pretend to go to sleep.
Fortunately for the boys, nature aided them in their undertaking. Heavy clouds obscured the sky, making it very dark outside of the school. From a distance came the low rumble of thunder, drowning out many other sounds.
“I hope it doesn’t rain,” said Pepper.
“I don’t think it will,” said Jack. “That storm is passing off to the westward.” And he was right, hardly a drop of rain fell in the vicinity of the lake.
A heavy rope had been procured and this was strung along the windows of the various dormitories and by its aid many of the cadets climbed into the room occupied by Jack and his chums. Then Andy went through the trunk room to the upper hall and from thence, by a ladder, to the roof. From that point of vantage he let down the rope to the window of a dormitory on the other side of the building. To the end of the rope was a note reading as follows:
“Use this to get down to the ground. Wait until we make a noise down by the gym., to attract the guards. Meet us at the old Bailey barn. Bring camping outfit with you, if possible.
“The Putnam Hall Rebels.”
To deceive the guards in the hallways, many of the cadets pretended to go to bed about eleven o’clock.
“Might as well get a good night’s rest,” said Jack loudly. “We can’t do anything more until morning.”
“Right you are,” answered Bart Conners, in an equally loud voice. “Call it off, boys, and get to bed.” And this ruse was worked in every dormitory from which the cadets hoped to escape. It deceived the guards completely, and when Pluxton Cuddle came up to learn how matters were progressing he was informed that the cadets had retired.
At one minute after twelve the boys arose from the beds upon which they had been resting, and with their shoes and various bundles in their hands crawled silently through the hole in the ceiling to the trunk room above. Then, with Jack to lead them, they tiptoed their way through the back hall and down the rear stairs, and then to the kitchen. Here the back door was opened, and ten of the lads went out and in the direction of the barn and storehouse. This detail was led by Andy.
“We want at least ten tents,” said the acrobatic youth. “And as much food as we can lug along.”
“Say, why can’t we get a horse and wagon?” suggested Stuffer, who hated to carry anything.
“Maybe we can – if Jack is willing. But get out the tents and food first – so we can dust with them if there is any alarm.”
“We might take to the boats,” said Dale.
“No, Jack said that wouldn’t be safe. Old Crabtree would hire a steam tug and come after us in no time. But say, I’ll tell you what we can do – hide the boats in the creek! That will throw them off the scent.”
In the storehouse were packed a number of army tents, to be used when the cadets went out on the annual encampment. Here were also boxes and barrels of provisions, for use in the school. Making certain nobody was around, the boys shut the door, pinned some empty potato bags over the windows, and lighted a lantern. Then, with great rapidity, they got out some of the tents, and in them rolled up various kinds of rations, beans, bacon, dried fish, coffee, sugar, butter, crackers and so forth. They also took along a small sack of potatoes and another of apples. Then they got out a camp cook stove, and some tinware, including cups and plates, and pots, kettles and frying pans.
“We can’t carry all this,” said Dale, in dismay. “We’ll simply have to get a horse and wagon.”
“Very well then, we’ll do it,” said Andy. “But it is running an extra risk.”
JOSIAH CRABTREE IS WORRIED
While Andy and those with him were getting out the things in the storehouse, Jack and some others were searching the pantry and kitchen for such articles as they thought they needed. These included knives, forks and spoons, and also pepper, salt, lard and several smoked hams and tongues, and all the bread in the big wooden bread box.
“Let’s take some jam too,” said one cadet, and several glasses were added, and also such cake as chanced to be in sight. The boys also found a small cheese, some lemons and oranges and a box of raisins.
“I reckon we’ve got all we can carry,” said Fred Century. “Talk about moving day! This looks like one to me!”
As silently as shadows the cadets took the things outside and hurried with them in the direction of the storehouse, where they met some of the others.
“Where is Andy?” asked the young major, anxiously.
“Gone for a horse and wagon,” answered Dale. “It is simply out of the question to carry all this stuff by hand.”
“But the risk!” cried Pepper. “I’m going to see how he is making out.”
He ran for the stable and saw Andy bringing forward one of the horses. A spring wagon stood near by, under a shed, and Pepper ran it forward, and helped his chum to hitch up the horse.
“Listen, somebody is coming!” said Pepper, presently, and a moment later they heard Peleg Snuggers calling from his room over the horse stable.
“Who’s down there? What ye doin’?” bawled the man. And then he appeared at a window in his nightdress.
“Stop your noise, Snuggers!” ordered Pepper. “If you don’t they may find a dead man around here in the morning.”
“Land sakes alive! Don’t shoot me!” spluttered the man of all work, and dropped out of sight in a hurry.
“Don’t you say a word and you won’t be touched,” went on The Imp. “If you open your mouth there will be trouble, and lots of it, Peleg!”
“I ain’t sayin’ nary a word!” answered the man, in a voice filled with terror. The doings of the day had filled him with apprehension.
As quickly as they could the cadets loaded up the spring wagon, putting in all of the things collected and adding such additional stores as the wagon would hold. Then Andy drove off, taking Dale, Stuffer and some others with him.
“I’ll go up to Daly’s clearing,” said the acrobatic youth. “I’ll drive right into the woods beyond. I don’t think anybody will find us there.” And so it was arranged.
The outfit having been sent on its way, the cadets left behind breathed more freely. If an alarm came they could take to their legs, and they doubted if any of the teachers or guards could catch them.
“Now for the demonstration near the gym.,” said Jack. “Make as much noise as possible, so the other fellows will have a chance to get out of the dormitories, but don’t let the enemy catch you.”
In less than five minutes after that a loud yelling arose back of the gymnasium and several cadets could be seen running in as many different directions. There were calls for “Come this way, boys!” and “Look out, there’s a guard after you!” and a lot of other cries that seemed to mean much.
“What is that?” ejaculated Josiah Crabtree, who had fallen asleep in an easy chair in his room. “Are they breaking out?”
“To the gymnasium!” was the call outside. “Catch them, men, at yonder building!”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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