The Putnam Hall Rebellionñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
Then came a rush from the guards, and they were quickly joined by Crabtree and Cuddle. All ran in the direction of the gymnasium, leaving the school building, for the time being, to take care of itself.
It was what those left in the dormitories were watching and waiting for, and in a twinkling cadet after cadet came sliding down the rope and a line made of torn-up sheets. They threw out their bundles in advance, and then, picking up the baggage, darted for a back path, leading through the vegetable garden attached to the Hall.
“Hi! hi! Look!” shrieked Pluxton Cuddle, as he chanced to gaze behind him.
“What is it?” demanded Josiah Crabtree.
“The boys! They are leaping from the dormitory windows!”
“Impossible! Some of them will be killed. Ha! I see. They have ropes! Come, this is a trick – to get us from the school!” And the teacher ran back toward Putnam Hall.
By this time the guards were thoroughly bewildered and did not know what to do. Crabtree gave orders, and Cuddle told them to do something else, and, as a consequence, nothing was accomplished. The teachers were frantic.
“They have – have run away!” gasped Josiah Crabtree, as, having reached the school, he threw open the door of one dormitory after another.
“All of them?”
“No, but the majority. What shall we do?”
“I don’t know.”
“Mr. Cuddle, you are responsible for this!”
“I, sir?” gasped the new teacher.
“Not at all, sir, not at all, Mr. Crabtree! You started the affair. You are responsible.”
“It is not true. If you had not cut down the food – ”
“Tut! tut! tut! If you had not made a mistake in that Latin lesson, sir, the cadets – ”
“Don’t talk to me, sir! I say it was your fault, Mr. Cuddle,” growled Josiah Crabtree.
“And I say, sir, it was your fault.”
And then the two teachers glared fiercely at each other.
“Please, sir, what do you want us to do?” asked one of the guards, somewhat sheepishly.
“Do!” cried Josiah Crabtree. “You can’t do anything! You allowed those cadets to run away! You are a set of blockheads!”
“So they are, blockheads!” added Pluxton Cuddle.
“I’m not a blockhead and I want you to know it,” answered the man angrily. “You fellers brought us up here on a fool’s errand, I think. If you’ll pay me off I’ll go home.”
“Yes, pay me off and I’ll go home too,” added another of the guards.
“What, are you going to desert us!” exclaimed Josiah Crabtree, in sudden fear.
“I ain’t no blockhead. You pay me and I’ll go.”
“But see here, you promised to stay here as long as wanted,” pleaded Crabtree.
“You don’t want me any longer – now the boys have run away. And let me say one thing – I think the boys had a right to run away.”
“You teachers ain’t treatin’ ’em right,” went on another guard. “Just you wait till Captain Putnam gits back – I reckon he’ll make it warm for you!”
At this plain talk Josiah Crabtree almost collapsed.
He realized that he had gone too far. He wondered what the result would be when the captain did get back. He was getting a fine salary and he did not wish to lose his position.
“My dear fellows, you are making a mistake,” he said, in a milder voice. “Those cadets have broken the rules of this institution and must be punished. I was simply going to keep them in their rooms until to-morrow and then I was going to give them a lecture, nothing more.”
“What about the grub they wanted?” asked another guard, who had come up during the talk.
“A little hunger would do them good. They would have gotten their fill to-morrow, and – ”
“No! no! that’s a mistake!” burst out Pluxton Cuddle. “Too much eating – ”
“Mr. Cuddle, I no longer agree with you on that point,” said Josiah Crabtree coldly. “If they return they shall have the same quantity of food as they got when Captain Putnam was here.”
“Humph! Then you have not the boys’ welfare at heart,” snorted the new teacher.
“I want you men to stay here, at least for the present,” continued Josiah Crabtree. “Let me see, I believe I promised you two dollars a day, didn’t I?”
“You did,” said one of the guards.
“Your work has not been pleasant and therefore I’ll make the pay three dollars a day. I did not mean to call you blockheads – I – er – was excited. Let us get down to – er – business now – and see if we cannot find those runaway cadets and persuade them to return to the Hall. If we can do that and – er – hush up this whole unpleasant matter I will – er – reward you handsomely.”
This talk was “pouring oil on the troubled waters,” and in the end the guards promised to stick by Josiah Crabtree and do what they could to bring the cadets back to school. They also promised, in view of a liberal reward, to tell Captain Putnam that the students and not the teachers were to blame for the outbreak.
A DISCOVERY IN THE WOODS
“Andy, look out that you don’t drive off the road and into the gully,” said Stuffer, as the spring wagon lurched forward over the rough ground leading to Daly’s clearing.
“Stuffer wouldn’t have you lose any of that food for a fortune,” said Dale, with a laugh. “Trust him to look out for that!”
“Well, you’ll be just as ready to eat your breakfast as anybody,” grumbled the cadet who loved to eat.
Forward rolled the wagon, groaning dubiously when it bounded over the rocks. It was loaded to the limit and the boys feared that the springs would break before the journey was over.
From the vicinity of the Hall came calls and considerable noise. But this presently died away, and then all was as quiet as a tomb on the woody road the runaway cadets were traveling.
In half an hour the clearing was gained. They drove across it, and into the woods beyond for a distance of a hundred yards. Here it was so dark they had to light a lantern to see the way.
“They’ll be good ones if they track us to this spot,” observed Dale.
Having reached the place, they blanketed the horse and sat down to wait. It was somewhat chilly and all of the cadets present were glad enough to put on the heavy coats they had brought along.
“Don’t you think some of us ought to go over to Bailey’s barn and see if the others have arrived?” asked Stuffer, presently.
“We might do that,” answered another cadet. “But we can’t all go. Somebody must remain here and watch the horse and the outfit.”
In the end it was decided that Andy and Stuffer should make the journey to the old Bailey barn, a distance of a mile or more. They set off at once, Stuffer first, however, filling his pockets with crackers and apples.
“I know a path right through these woods,” said Stuffer. “It will bring us out just to the north of the old barn.”
“Well, be sure of the way,” answered the acrobatic youth. “We don’t want to get lost in this darkness.”
“How can we get lost in the dark if we carry a lantern, Andy?”
“Easily enough – if you get twisted around, Stuffer. I was lost once, in the Adirondacks, and I know.”
The two boys set off, Andy carrying a small lantern picked up in the carriage shed. This gave more smoke and smell than light and they had to proceed slowly, for fear of tumbling over the tree roots or into some hollow.
“Oh!” cried Stuffer, presently, as a strange sound struck his ears from close at hand. “What’s that?”
“Only an owl,” cried Andy, with a laugh. “How you jumped!”
“Are you sure it was an – an owl?” was the nervous question.
“Dead certain. Go ahead, or we won’t reach the old barn till morning.”
The path through the woods was not well defined and at one place forked in several directions. Stuffer did not notice this and kept to the right when he should have gone to the left. Andy followed without question, and thus the two cadets, instead of nearing the old barn, plunged deeper and deeper into the woods.
“Say, Stuffer, this doesn’t seem to be right,” observed Andy, after a full mile and a half had been covered.
“Huh! I know I am right,” was the reply. “We’ll get to the barn in a few minutes.”
They continued to go forward, up a slight rise of ground and then down into something of a hollow. Andy was just about to say again that he thought they were on the wrong path when he caught sight of a small campfire.
“Hello, see that!” he exclaimed.
“They have arrived and lit a fire!” answered Stuffer. “I don’t blame them. It is pretty cold. But they are running the risk of being discovered.”
“Stuffer, this isn’t the location of the old barn. We are not near the lake.”
“How do you know?”
“The locality doesn’t look like it. These are hemlock trees, while back of the barn there are chestnuts and walnuts.”
“That’s so too,” and now Stuffer became doubtful.
Moving a little more slowly, the two boys drew closer to the campfire. They saw that it was in a little clearing, to one side of which were some rocks and a spring of water. On the other side several small trees had been cut down and a rude shelter erected, covered with an old wagon top and several old horse blankets.
“Must be a gypsy camp,” said Stuffer, in a low tone, as the two boys stepped behind some bushes to gaze at the scene presented.
“They are tramps,” was Andy’s answer. “Don’t you see the hoboes lying around?”
He pointed to the forms of three men resting near the campfire. They were all rough-looking individuals and their clothing and shoes were much dilapidated. Several empty bottles lay scattered around, indicating that the fellows were drinkers. Near the shelter were a pile of chicken feathers and the skin of a lamb.
“I’ll tell you what I think,” whispered Andy. “These are not only tramps but also thieves. They have been robbing the farmers’ henroosts and somebody’s sheepfold. They’ve got a regular hangout here. I wonder how many of them there are?”
“I see three – but some of the crowd may be under the shelter. If they are thieves they ought to be locked up.”
“Yes. Shall we go into the camp and ask them the way?”
“I don’t think we ought to trust them. They might detain us, and rob us.”
Putting out the light so that they might not be discovered, the two cadets walked around the camp of the tramps. They saw that it was a hangout that had been used for some time. With great caution they stole up to the back of the rude shelter and peered within. They saw three more men, who were all snoring lustily.
“That makes six all told,” said Stuffer, as he and his chum withdrew.
“Did you notice that fellow who was in the corner?” demanded Andy, excitedly.
“Not particularly. Why?”
“Unless I am greatly mistaken he is the fellow I saw in the jewelry store the day I was robbed – the chap I thought might be guilty.”
“Is that so, Andy? Are you certain it is the fellow?”
“No, because I didn’t get a good look at his face. But he certainly looked a good deal like him.”
“Then you ought to investigate – I mean later on, when we have some of the others with us,” went on Stuffer hastily. “It would be foolish for us to tackle six men alone.”
“I’ll come back some time to-morrow – if I can get a crowd to come along,” was the reply from the acrobatic youth. “Beyond a doubt these fellows are thieves, and the farmers around here would be glad to place them under arrest.”
“In that case let the Putnam Hall cadets make the capture. It will be quite a feather in our cap.”
“I’d like to get back that stolen medal and the ring,” said Andy, as they moved away from the tramps’ hangout. “And I’d like to see the guilty party punished for attacking me.”
Having withdrawn into the woods once more the two cadets set to work to find the right path to the old barn. This was no easy task, and it was not until almost daybreak that Andy gave a cry and pointed ahead.
“I see the lake! I think I know where we are now.”
He hurried on and Stuffer came behind him, and presently the pair struck a wagon road running directly past the old Bailey barn. They ran up to the structure, to be stopped by a cadet who was on guard.
“Halt and give the countersign!” cried the cadet.
“Hello!” cried Andy. “That sounds natural. Is the crowd here?”
“It is,” answered the cadet. “How did you make out?”
Andy told him and then went in the barn, where he found the other cadets assembled, some sleeping and a few talking in low tones. Four guards had been stationed outside, to give the alarm, should the enemy be seen approaching.
“We might as well be on the move,” said Jack, after Andy and Stuffer had told their story. “As soon as it is daylight Crabtree and Cuddle will most likely send somebody out to look for us.”
“Yes, and we want to make a regular camp somewhere,” put in Stuffer. “Then we can start a fire and cook a good breakfast, and – ”
The boy who loved to eat did not finish for several began to laugh.
“We’ll make Stuffer head cook,” cried Pepper. “Stuffer, how does that suit you?”
“All right – if only you won’t ask me to wash dishes,” was the reply.
“Everybody will have to do his share of work,” said Jack, and looked knowingly at Pepper. Then he leaned over and whispered in Andy’s ear. “I am afraid we are going to have trouble with Reff Ritter and his crowd. Reff wants to have everything his own way, and he thinks the fellows ought to make him leader.”
THE RIVAL RUNAWAYS
By eight o’clock that morning the runaway cadets of Putnam Hall went into camp not a great distance away from where Andy had driven the wagon into the woods. They found an ideal spot in a small clearing surrounded by dense woods. There the tents were pitched, and some of the boys cleaned out a handy spring, that all the water needed might be procured. While some of the cadets were raising the tents, others, under the directions of Bob Grenwood and Stuffer, were preparing breakfast. The cook stove had been set up, and three cadets had been detailed by Jack to procure firewood.
“We’ll have this camp in apple-pie order before noon,” said the young major. “I am going to observe the same kind of regulations as if we were off on an annual encampment.”
Early in the morning one of the cadets had hurried away to Cedarville, to send a telegram to Captain Putnam, notifying him of the state of affairs. A letter was also dropped into the post-office for the master of the Hall, and this was marked Private. Then another letter was sent to Josiah Crabtree, a farm boy being hired to deliver it. This letter ran as follows:
“Mr. Josiah Crabtree:
“Dear Sir: We have left Putnam Hall to camp out until the return of Captain Putnam. To remain at the school under the management of yourself and Mr. Cuddle was impossible. As soon as Captain Putnam returns we shall lay our case before him.
“The Students’ Committee,
“Joseph Nelson, Sec’y.”
“I guess that will set old Crabtree to thinking,” was Dale’s comment, when the communication was dispatched. “He’ll find out that he can’t do just as he pleases.”
“Yes, and it will set that new teacher to thinking too,” added Pepper. “Oh, wouldn’t I like to square up with Pluxton Cuddle, for cutting us short on rations!”
Andy had told the young major about the tramps and Jack agreed to see what could be done as soon as camp matters were arranged.
“I’ve got to get things into shape here first,” said Jack. “I feel it in my bones that Ritter is going to make trouble. Since we ran away he acts like a regular sorehead.”
While breakfast was being served Reff Ritter and Gus Coulter growled at nearly everything that was being done. The camping spot, to them, was no good, the tents were not properly placed, and Reff stated loudly that he would have picked out a spot that had better drinking water, while Coulter turned up his nose at the coffee served.
“This is regular dishwater,” said Gus. “I thought we ran away to have something good to eat and to drink.”
“See here, Gus, if you don’t like the coffee, supposing you make some for yourself,” answered Bob Grenwood, sharply.
“Huh! Maybe you think I can’t make coffee!”
“This ham is about half done,” came from Nick Paxton. “It isn’t fit for a dog to eat.”
“Well, what can you expect, when those fellows are running everything to suit themselves?” growled Reff Ritter. “If I was leader I’d have things different.”
“See here, Reff!” cried Jack, sharply. “I don’t like your talk at all. The boys are doing the best they can. You can’t expect everything to work like a charm at the very start. We are all tired out, and what we need is a good night’s sleep. Don’t grumble so much.”
“I’ll grumble if I please!” flared up the bully of the school. “You may be major of the battalion but you can’t boss me here.”
“You didn’t have to come with us if you didn’t want to,” put in Dale. “Jack is our leader, and everybody in this camp has got to obey his orders.”
“That’s the talk!” cried Pepper.
“Humph! Then I reckon the best we can do is to get out,” answered Ritter, with a meaning look at his cronies.
“Yes, give us our share of the camp stuff and we’ll go,” added Coulter.
“All in favor of going with Reff Ritter raise their right hand,” sang out Nick Paxton.
Evidently the matter had been talked over between the bully and his cohorts for on the instant nine hands went up.
“Ten of us, counting Reff,” said Coulter. “How many are there all told?”
“Thirty-three,” answered Fred.
“Then we number about one-third of the total and we ought to have one-third of the stuff,” said a cadet who had voted to join Reff Ritter.
“That wouldn’t be fair!” cried Hogan. “Sure, and it was Jack and his chums who planned this thing and who got the most of the goods together, so they did. Ritter didn’t carry a thing but his own clothing.”
“Never mind,” said the young major. “If Ritter and his crowd want to camp by themselves let them do it. We’ll give them a fair share of the tents and the provisions.”
A warm discussion followed, which almost ended in a fight. But Jack’s suggestion prevailed, and just before noon Ritter and his nine followers left, taking with them a share of the tents and the provisions. The bully wanted more than was dealt out to him, and went away muttering that he would pay the others back for their meanness.
“I am glad they are gone,” said Jack, when the crowd had departed. “We’d never have harmony with them around.”
“Right you are,” answered Pepper. “Just the same, I think we gave them more than they deserved.”
“We’ve got to keep our eyes peeled for them,” was Dale’s comment. “Ritter is just the fellow to play us some underhanded trick.”
“That’s true – he doesn’t know when to be grateful,” said Bart Conners.
“I am glad he is gone,” came from Stuffer. “Now we won’t have to cook for so many.” And this remark caused a smile.
With the discontented ones gone the camp took on a more cheerful appearance. Breakfast was finished, and the few dishes washed, and then the majority of the cadets laid down to rest, for they had not had a sound sleep since the rebellion had begun. Andy and Joe were anxious to go after the tramps, but Andy could hardly keep his eyes open, while Joe was little better off.
“Might as well wait until to-morrow,” said the young major. “It isn’t likely those tramps will go away in a hurry. Most likely they intend to stay there until cold weather.”
A guard was set, which was changed every two hours, and the cadets laid down to rest. The majority of them slept “like logs,” and it was again dark when they commenced to stir around, and Stuffer began preparations for supper.
“Wonder what is going on at the Hall,” said Jack, as he stretched himself. “Crabtree and the others must be hunting for us.”
“I don’t care what they do, so long as they don’t find us,” answered Pepper.
In the evening Pepper and Andy set off for Cedarville, to buy some things that were needed in the camp. They took to the regular road, thinking they could easily get out of sight if any of the enemy appeared.
As they walked along they saw a buggy approaching. It contained two girls, and as it came closer Pepper uttered an exclamation of pleasure:
“Laura Ford and her sister Flossie! Won’t they be surprised when they learn what has happened.”
The girls he mentioned were two old friends of the cadets. They were the daughters of a Mr. Rossmore Ford, a rich gentleman who owned a summer cottage called Point View Lodge, located on the lake shore. In the past the boys had done the girls several services of importance and the young ladies and their parents were correspondingly grateful.
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