Edward Stratemeyer.

The Putnam Hall Rebellion





CHAPTER XXV
NEWS OF INTEREST

And so youve really and truly run away! cried Laura Ford, after Pepper and Andy had told their story. What fun! I wish I was a cadet!

How angry that Mr. Crabtree must be! came from Flossie, as she tossed back her curls. Of course hell tell Captain Putnam it was all your fault.

Most likely, said Pepper.

Where are you going now? asked Laura.

To Cedarville to buy some things we need. You see, we came off in such a hurry we forgot some things, and The Imp grinned.

Cant we help you? asked Flossie. Id dearly love to you boys have done so much for us.

Might bake us some pies, suggested Andy, with a twinkle in his eye.

Just the thing only well get the cook to do the baking. Well have the pies for you to-morrow. Where shall we bring them?

Oh, that will be too much trouble, cried Andy. I didnt really mean what I said.

But well get the pies for you and some cake too. Just tell us where to bring them, said Laura. Can we visit your camp? Id like to see what it looks like.

Well feel honored, said Pepper, and then he told where the camp was located. The girls said they would have the coachman drive them as close as possible to the spot and would get there early enough, so the cadets could have the pies for dinner. Then the two parties separated.

Now those are girls worth knowing! cried Pepper. Always willing to treat a fellow just right.

I guess Stuffer would think so if he knew about the pies, returned Andy. Well, Id like a piece of good pie myself. And he smacked his lips.

The boys hurried to Cedarville and there procured the articles they wanted. Then they asked several people if any chicken thieves had been around lately.

Yes, indeed! said one man. Tom Robinson lost some chickens last week, and so did Billy Peters and the Widow Lilly.

Were any lambs stolen? asked Andy.

I heard that Landerson the butcher, had a lamb stolen a couple of weeks ago. He just bought it from a man over to Hoetown. What do you want to know for? Do you know anything about the thieves?

I think I do. Ill go over and ask the butcher about the lamb.

At the butcher shop the two cadets had quite a talk, the upshot of which was that the butcher said he would visit the camp on the following afternoon, bringing two farmers who had lost chickens with him. He let the boys have some fresh meat on trust, and smiled broadly when they asked him not to tell anybody where their camp was located.

I know something about the trouble up to the school, he said. One of them teachers I think his name is Crabapple, or something like that wanted my cousin, Jim Pepperhill, to go up there to keep order. But Jim didnt like the looks of the teacher and wouldnt go.

Did Mr. Crabtree say what the trouble was? asked Pepper.

Said some of the boys wouldnt behave themselves, and that they had to be locked in their bedrooms and kept there.

From the butcher shop the two cadets visited the post-office, to see if there was any mail for themselves and their fellow students.

To their surprise they were told that another cadet had called there only half an hour before and taken all the cadets mail away.

Who was it? asked Andy, and the clerk described the person.

I think his name is Coulter, he said. He has been here for mail before. Wasnt it all right to give it to him?

Not just now, answered Pepper. After this you keep some of the mail here until one of our party calls for it. And he wrote down a list of names. Then he and his chum hurried off in the direction of camp.

It was mighty cheeky of Coulter to take all the mail! grumbled Andy. Why didnt he sort it out and hand our mail back? Now we have got to wait until he gets ready to bring it to us.

Maybe he wont bring it, Andy.

Then well have to go for it.

You forget that we dont know where the Ritter crowd is located.

Gracious, thats so! Well, we will have to find out. If hes got any of my mail, I want it.

When the boys got back to camp the others listened with interest to what they had to tell.

It will be fun to go after those tramps and clean them out, said Dale. And if the fellow is there who attacked Andy I hope we catch him and get back the stolen things.

Home-made pies! murmured Stuffer, referring to what the boys said about the Ford girls. Yum! yum! Thats the best ever!

I knew that would make a bulls-eye hit with you! said Pepper, with a merry laugh.

I hope they bring enough to go around. Did you tell them how many there were of us? asked the boy who loved to eat, anxiously.

I told them there were over half a dozen of us, answered Pepper, with a wink at the others.

Oh, Pepper! Half a dozen! Then theyll only bring two or three pies, and we wont get more than a mouthful apiece! And Stuffers face took on a mournful look.

Well, you know, Master Singleton, said The Imp, imitating Pluxton Cuddles tone of voice. Too much eating is bad for a youth. It makes him stupid and incapable of studying properly. If one ate less

Oh, stop your tommy-rot about eating less! roared Stuffer. I guess you must really believe in it or you wouldnt let those Ford girls bring only two or three pies. And he turned to walk away.

Stop, Stuffer, Pep was only fooling, cried Andy. Theyll bring enough pies, dont you worry. And then the youth who loved to eat felt relieved.

A campfire was kept going during the evening, and around this the runaway cadets gathered, to tell stories, sing songs and speculate upon how the whole affair was to end. A few were nervous, but others felt certain that Captain Putnam would not blame them for what they had done.

If he does, he is not the man I take him to be, said Dale.

If he sides with Crabtree and Cuddle I shall ask my father to send me to another school, said another.

If we stick together he is bound to side with us, added Fred.

Now, dont make such a mistake as that, said Jack, to the last speaker. Captain Putnam will not be influenced by our sticking together, even if it breaks up his school. He will decide this case solely on its merits. But I hope he will see that we were in the right at least, that we were not as much in the wrong as Josiah Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle.

Among the boys to be placed on guard when the cadets retired was Fred Century. He was stationed at the east side of the camp, not far from where the wagon stood and the horse was tethered. In the wagon were a goodly part of the provisions, covered with a tarpaulin that had been brought along.

Fred had not slept well the night before and was consequently sleepy. He tramped around for a while and then sat down on a rock to rest.

He had been sitting still for several minutes, with his eyes partly closed, when he heard a slight noise behind him. Before he could move a cloth was clapped around his mouth and his hands were caught and held. Then a rope was brought into play, and he was made a close prisoner and carried away into the woods.

CHAPTER XXVI
AFTER THE STOLEN CAMP OUTFIT

Hi, fellows, get up! Something has happened!

It was Pepper who aroused the others, and he made such a noise that the cadets who were asleep sprang up without delay.

Whats wrong?

Have the enemy discovered us?

Are we going back to the Hall?

These and a number of other cries rang out, and nearly all the runaways surrounded The Imp. For answer Pepper pointed to where the horse and wagon had been.

Gone!

Who took them?

Dont ask me, was the answer. I missed them a minute ago and tried to find out what had become of them. But they are teetotally gone, and that is all there is to it.

Where are the guards? demanded Jack. Brightwood, did you see anything of the horse and wagon?

I did not, answered one of the cadets who had been on guard duty. Then some of the others were questioned, but all shook their heads.

Fred Century was on guard near the wagon, said Andy, suddenly. Where is he?

All looked around, but in vain.

Maybe he drove off with the horse and wagon, suggested Hogan. But I dont know where hed go, so I dont.

Perhaps he got afraid and went back to the Hall, suggested another.

Fred Century wasnt the sort to get afraid, answered the young major. But I must confess I dont understand this.

Do you think Reff Ritter and his crowd would play this trick? demanded Pepper.

He might, Pep, but what of Fred?

Maybe Century joined the Ritter gang, vouchsafed Brightwood.

No, Fred didnt like Ritter at all, answered Andy.

Well have to make a search for the horse and wagon, said the young major. And the sooner the better. We cant afford to lose all those stores.

Oh, I say, cant we get breakfast first? asked Stuffer, reproachfully.

No, well hunt first and eat afterwards, said Jack, decidedly.

The cadets scattered in all directions, and less than three minutes later Dale set up a call that brought the others running to him. He had found poor Fred, gagged, and bound to a tree. The captive was glad to be released and to have his power of speech restored. His story was a short one.

There must have been four or five who attacked me from behind, he said, and they gave me no chance to cry out. I heard them talking about taking the horse and wagon and some other things, but I couldnt do a thing to warn any of you. They must have gotten off very quietly, not to have attracted the attention of the other guards.

Were they the Ritter crowd? asked Andy.

I am not sure. I thought perhaps they might be those tramps Andy and Stuffer discovered in a hangout in this neighborhood.

The tramps! ejaculated Andy. Thats so! Why didnt I think of them! If they rob the farmers around here, they wouldnt hesitate to rob us.

Fred, who was on guard next to you? asked the young major.

Caller was on one side and Beck on the other.

Well, Caller is a little deaf, he wouldnt be apt to hear them, said Pepper. He looked around. Where is Beck?

Beck was not in sight, and then the various cadets stated they had not seen him since he had gone on guard duty.

He must be tied up too, said Jack. Let us continue the hunt, fellows.

This was done, and the search lasted fully an hour. But not a trace of the missing cadet could be discovered.

Ill tell you what I think, said Pepper, when they met around the campfire. I think the Ritter crowd ran off with the horse and wagon and I think Beck went with them. If youll remember, he and Coulter and Paxton are quite chummy, and Coulter wanted him to come with them when they left our crowd. I think, if we can find out where the Ritter crowd is staying, we can get back our things and not before.

Then well find them, cried Andy.

It was soon learned that not only were the things left in the wagon gone, but also some of the cooking utensils and the fresh meat purchased from the butcher in Cedarville. This discovery made the cadets more angry than ever, and all vowed to square up with the Ritter crowd if they were really guilty and if it could possibly be done.

We gave them their share and they had no right to come here and take more, was the way Joe Nelson expressed himself.

Breakfast was had, and then Jack divided his force into three parties. Of these one party was to remain in camp and watch such of the outfit as was left. The other parties were to go on a hunt for the horse and wagon, one going to the north and the other to the west. The boys tried to follow the wagon tracks through the woods, but this was impossible, for many spots were hard and stony, and here the tracks were not distinguishable.

Jack and Pepper were in the party which moved to the westward, and they were accompanied by four other cadets, including Dale. They spread out in a line, about twenty feet apart, so that they might cover that portion of the woods as well as possible.

This may prove to be nothing but a wild goose chase, observed the young major as they moved along. But it is better than sitting still and doing nothing.

They soon crossed a clearing, and then came to a wagon road leading up a small hill. Here they saw freshly-made tracks and this gave them some encouragement.

I dont know of any farm up here, said Pepper. And if there isnt any farm what would a wagon be doing here this time of year? For the road was one for hauling wood.

Better not make any noise, cautioned Dale, as one of the cadets commenced to whistle. We may be nearer that wagon than you suspect.

They moved onward for about an eighth of a mile further, and then Jack called a halt.

I see something moving over yonder, he said, pointing with his hand. I think we had better investigate.

With increased caution, for they wished if possible to surprise the enemy, they went forward, keeping as much as possible behind the bushes lining the wood road. Then they made a turn, and off in a little glade to the left they saw the horse and wagon, the animal being tied to a tree. At the edge of the glade were several tents, and in front of them the remains of a campfire.

Do you see anybody? questioned Pepper, in a whisper.

Yes, I see Ritter and Coulter, back of the tents, answered Jack. I see some of the fellows in the tents, announced Dale. They are fast asleep.

Most likely tired out, because of last nights work, said another cadet. He looked at Jack. What do you want us to do, Major?

You fellows look in the wagon and see if our stuff is there, was the reply. Come, Pep, let us walk behind those bushes and see if we can discover anything more. If Ritter and Coulter are hatching out more mischief we want to know it.

I am with you, answered The Imp.

If the stuff is in the wagon, shall we drive off with it? questioned Dale.

Yes, but dont go too far, Dale, answered Jack. We may want you and the other fellows here.

All right if you want us, give the signal.

Then, while Dale and the others hurried toward the horse and wagon, Jack and Pepper stole behind the tents to where Ritter and Coulter were talking earnestly. Little did the young major dream of what he was to hear or of the discovery he was to make.

CHAPTER XXVII
A CASE OF TIT FOR TAT

Reff Ritter was evidently in high spirits over the success of his midnight raid, for his voice sounded positive and loud. Coulter was a little bit afraid.

They may follow us up, were the first words Jack and Pepper caught, coming from Gus Coulter.

Oh, they may try it, but I dont think they can do it, answered Ritter. We took good care to keep to the rocks when we left their camp. They cant follow the wagon tracks. Oh, say, but its a rich joke on them, isnt it? And the bully of the Hall chuckled loudly.

It sure is, Reff. But if they found us out Coulter shook his head. I suppose Jack Ruddy would be mad enough to chew us up.

I am not afraid of Ruddy.

Oh, I know that, Reff.

And I dont think he can find us out. He isnt as knowing as you think he is.

Yes, but hes pretty sharp, insisted Coulter.

Humph! He never found out how he happened to get sick so suddenly the day we had the gymnastic contest and he fell from the flying-rings.

Oh, you said youd tell me all about that some day, said Coulter. How did you manage it, Reff?

It was easy enough. If I tell you, will you keep it to yourself?

Sure.

Well, I got that French headache powder out of the medicine cabinet. I knew about how much to use to make Ruddy dizzy and dull.

Yes, but how did you manage to give it to him without his knowing it? went on Coulter with interest.

That was easy enough. I went down to the mess room just before the evening parade. I watched my chance, and when none of the waiters were looking, I slipped up to Ruddys seat and put the powder into the glass of water in front of his plate. Just as I hoped, he came in feeling dry, and he drank the stuff without knowing it. I think he did say something about a bitter taste, but that was all.

It was an all-right trick, said Coulter. Only it didnt pan out just as you wanted.

But Jack Ruddy never found out about it, answered Reff Ritter. Say, Im getting sleepy, he added, with a yawn. Lets turn in, like the rest have done.

Want to set a guard?

Oh, all the fellows are too tired to stand guard, was the bullys reply, and then he passed into one tent and Coulter into another.

With keen interest Jack and Pepper had listened to every word of the conversation. The young major could scarcely control himself, and his chum had to hold him back.

The rascal! cried Jack. I always suspected him of having drugged me, and now I have the proof. I ought to hammer him well!

Wait dont let him see you here, pleaded Pepper, and pulled his chum back of some bushes.

But, Pep, that villain

Yes, yes, I know. Youd like to pound the life out of him, and so would I. But we can do no more we can expose him to Captain Putnam.

Certainly. But let me pound him first.

Not yet, Jack. Remember, we are two to two, and Ritter and Coulter can deny anything we say. We had better go slow, and fix it so that, when the time comes for an exposure, Ritter cant worm out of it.

As angry as he was, the young major saw the wisdom of this, and he allowed Pepper to draw him away from the vicinity of the tents. Both rejoined Dale and the others, who were behind some bushes close to where the horse was tied.

Our stuff is all in the wagon, announced Dale. We were going to drive off with it, but we saw Ritter and Coulter looking this way and we didnt want to be discovered.

Wait they are going to retire, said Pepper. I think in a few minutes every fellow in this camp will be asleep, and then He did not finish but his eyes began to twinkle.

Hurrah! cried Dale. I know what you mean! Tit for tat, eh?

And why not, Dale? Let me tell you fellows something. And then The Imp repeated the conversation that had just been overheard.

Is that true? demanded Dale.

It is word for word. Jack wanted to pound Ritter then and there, but I made him hold back, for we want to prove this matter to Captain Putnam.

If thats the sort he is, he and his cronies deserve to be cleaned out, said another cadet.

And well clean them out, answered Jack. Well leave them the tents and their clothing and thats all.

The boys had not long to wait for Ritter and Coulter to retire. Then, when they felt certain that all of the enemy were asleep, they stole into the camp and picked up the cooking utensils and provisions lying around and loaded them on the wagon. Then the horse was untied and the journey back along the wood road was begun.

We can change our own camp this afternoon, said the young major. And we can fix it so they wont have an easy time to find us.

It was nearly noon when the boys came into their camp with the horse and wagon. The other searching party had come back a few minutes before, much discouraged.

Good for you! said one of the other searchers. Im glad we didnt all fail.

Jack, dont forget that we expect visitors, said Andy, a little later.

Of course! exclaimed the young major. Boys, I want you to put this camp into first-class shape immediately, he added, and then proceeded to wash up and brush his hair before the one tiny mirror brought along from the Hall.

It was not long after this that a call sounded through the woods, and then the cadets saw two men and two girls approaching, each carrying a basket covered with a napkin. The party consisted of Mr. Rossmore Ford and his two daughters, and the family coachman.

So this is where you are stopping! cried Mr. Ford, after the greetings were over. An ideal spot, I must say, and one pretty well hidden from the carriage road. I take it that your teachers havent found you yet.

No, sir, answered Jack.

Would you mind telling me why you rebelled? I am very much interested, went on the gentleman.

In as few words as possible the young major told the particulars of the trouble with Josiah Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle. Mr. Ford, Laura and Flossie listened with close attention.

Well, if all this is true, I do not wonder at your running away, said Rossmore Ford. I rather think I should have run away myself.

Here are the pies, and some cakes and fresh rolls, said Laura. The pies are apple, lemon and cocoanut, and we hope youll like them.

Like them! cried a dozen cadets in chorus. Just you wait till you see us eat them!

We have only one lad here who doesnt like pie, went on Pepper, soberly. Thats Paul Singleton. He

Hi, you! cried Stuffer. I like pie as well as anybody, and you know it. Miss Ford, dont you pay attention to what he says!

Maybe he wants all the pie to himself, answered Flossie.

Wed feel honored to have you take dinner with us, said Jack to Mr. Ford, after consulting some of his chums.

Oh, let us stay, papa! It would be such fun! pleaded Laura.

Yes! yes! added her sister.

Well, if it is not too much trouble murmured Rossmore Ford.

No trouble at all! cried the cadets and then it was arranged that all of the visitors should remain for the midday meal. This settled, Stuffer and the other cooks bustled about to get the repast ready.





: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14