The Putnam Hall Rebellion
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УThis is true Ц and I have already told Mr. Crabtree so.Ф
УOh, then youТve been to the school?Ф
УThen Ц then Ц Ф The young major hesitated.
УWeТll thrash this whole thing out later, Ruddy. It is too serious a matter to decide now. A storm is coming and I want you to get back if possible before it breaks. Start for the school as soon as you can.Ф
In less than quarter of an hour the cadets were on the march. Andy drove the wagon, which was piled high with the outfit. Captain Putnam walked by the young majorТs side, and the cadets kept step as if on dress parade. All wondered what would be the end of the affair. Would any of them be expelled?
At the entrance to the campus they were met by Peleg Snuggers, and he was directed to take charge of the wagon and its contents. Then the cadets entered the Hall. All was silent within, and neither Josiah Crabtree nor Pluxton Cuddle showed himself. The boys were told to go straight to the general assembly room.
It had begun to rain and soon it was pouring in torrents, while the lightning flashed and the thunder roared incessantly. In the midst of the storm Dale dashed in.
УI went to their old camp, but Ritter and his crowd had moved,Ф he said. УI couldnТt find them, and not wishing to get soaked I came to the school.Ф
УIt is too bad,Ф said Captain Putnam. УBut it cannot be helped. I will send for them again after the storm clears off.Ф Then the captain left the cadets in the assembly room, telling them to keep quiet until his return.
УI guess he is going to have it out with Crabtree and Cuddle,Ф whispered Pepper. And he was right.
An hour passed, and then a side door opened and Captain Putnam entered, followed by Josiah Crabtree and Frank Barringer. The boys started on seeing the teacher for he seemed suddenly to have grown several years older. The master of the Hall ascended the platform and made a speech.
УI have heard both sides of this controversy,Ф said he. УMistakes have been made all around. It was a mistake for you cadets to become disorderly in the classrooms and in the mess hall Ц and it was a mistake on the part of the teachers to attempt to starve you into submission. For trying to starve you I find Mr. Cuddle responsible, and he has this day severed his connection with Putnam Hall.Ф
УGood!Ф whispered Andy. УGood-bye to Cuddle, and may we never see his like again!Ф
УMr. Crabtree is willing to let bygones be bygones,Ф went on Captain Putnam. УHe realizes his mistakes and regrets them. Supposing I am willing to overlook what you have done, young gentlemen, are you willing to start in to-morrow morning as if nothing unusual had occurred? If so, stand up.Ф
One after another the cadets stood up until not one remained seated. A smile spread over Captain PutnamТs face, and this was reflected on the face of Josiah Crabtree. The cadets did not know it, but their standing up saved for the teacher his position.Had they not been willing to forgive and forget Crabtree would have been discharged.
УThree cheers for Captain Putnam!Ф cried Pepper, and though the master of the Hall raised his hand to protest the cheers were given with a will. A faint cheer followed for Crabtree and the teacher arose and very awkwardly bowed his acknowledgement. Then the cadets were dismissed and the bell rang for supper.
УI reckon we wonТt see Pluxton Cuddle,Ф said Andy, and he was right, that unpopular teacher left early the next morning, before any of the cadets were around.
It was not until the next afternoon that Reff Ritter and his crowd showed themselves, and they brought the mail taken from the post-office. They had heard of Captain PutnamТs return and had come in of their own accord. The storm had blown down their tents and they were wet to the skin and terribly hungry. There had been a bitter quarrel among the crowd, and this was kept up after they got back. One of the boys had heard Ritter speak about the exchanging of blank cartridges for those containing bullets at the target practice and immediately upon his return to Putnam Hall he sought out Captain Putnam.
УWell, what do you want, Akers?Ф demanded the master of the school, sternly.
УI know I have done wrong, sir,Ф said Akers. УBut, Captain Putnam, I came to speak of something else.Ф
УWhat is it?Ф
УIt concerns Bob Grenwood, our former quartermaster.Ф
УWhat of Grenwood?Ф
УI suppose you remember about those blank cartridges that were dealt out to some of us when we had target practice.Ф
УWell, I want to tell you positively, sir, that Grenwood is not guilty Ц that he had nothing to do with handing them out.Ф
УHow do you know this?Ф
УBecause, when we were out camping, Reff Ritter got to boasting, and he told how he and another fellow got the blanks and distributed them. It was done at the time of the snake scare. There was no snake Ц the scare was gotten up merely to attract our attention, so that the blanks could be taken from the box.Ф
УHumph! You are sure of this?Ф demanded Captain Putnam.
УTell me all the particulars.Ф
Thereupon Akers told his story in detail, to which the master of the Hall listened with close attention. Then several other boys came in, among them Andy and Pepper.
УI want to speak to you about the time Major Jack Ruddy fell from the flying rings and came pretty close to being dangerously hurt,Ф said Andy. УI guess you remember that, sir.Ф
УIndeed I do Ц since he was very sick at the time,Ф answered Captain Putnam.
УWe know just how he got sick.Ф
УWhat was the cause, Snow?Ф
УReff Ritter put some French headache powders in his drinking water. The powders made him dizzy, and that is how he came to fall from the rings.Ф
УCan this be true?Ф And the captainТs face grew very stern.
УYes, sir, it is Ц and we can prove it by several boys,Ф put in Pepper.
УIt would seem that Ritter is responsible for many wrongdoings,Ф mused the master of the school.
УHeТs a bad egg,Ф said Andy. УMy own opinion is that he ought to be expelled.Ф
УWeТll see about that later. Now tell me all you know.Ф
Andy and Pepper related what they had heard, and then several other boys were called in.
An hour later Captain Putnam sent for Reff Ritter. The moment the bully entered the office he knew that something had gone wrong.
УI have had some very bad reports about you, Ritter,Ф said the master sternly. УI have a mind to expel you on the spot.Ф
УWhat for?Ф asked Ritter. His voice shook as he spoke.
УFor doing some very wicked and mean things.Ф
УI Ц I havenТt done anything, sir.Ф
УYou have Ц and it is useless for you to deny it.Ф
УWh Ц what Ц er Ц do you mean?Ф
УI am speaking of how you took those blank cartridges and used them, and of how you dosed Major Ruddy with those French headache powders.Ф
УCaptain Putnam, I didnТt Ц Ф
УStop, Ritter, donТt add falsehoods to your other faults. I am positive that you are guilty. And as I said before, I have a good mind to expel you here and now.Ф
УDonТt! Please donТt!Ф cried the bully, breaking down. УI Ц I didnТt mean any harm Ц it was only done in fun, sir! I Ц er Ц IТll never do such things again! Please donТt expel me!Ф
УYou might have killed Ruddy!Ф
УI Ц er Ц I thought the powders would make him a little sick Ц so he Ц er Ц he wouldnТt want to compete with me Ц for I was afraid of being beaten. And the blanks Ц Ф
УMade me take GreenwoodТs office away from him. But he shall be restored.Ф
УPlease, please, Captain Putnam, donТt expel me!Ф groaned Ritter.
УAre you willing to apologize to Grenwood?Ф
УAnd to Ruddy?Ф
УYe Ц yes.Ф It was like pulling teeth for Ritter to utter that last word.
УRuddyТs folks may want to prosecute you criminally,Ф continued the captain.
УOh! I Ц I hope not.Ф And now Ritter grew deadly pale.
After that Captain Putnam gave the misguided youth a stern lecture and then sent him to his room. Then Jack was called in.
УI donТt think IТll make a complaint,Ф said the young major. УPerhaps, after all, it was only a boyish prank. But I donТt want him to try such a prank again.Ф
УIt was a dastardly piece of business,Ф was Captain PutnamТs comment.
УI believe Ritter often acts before he thinks,Ф went on Jack.
УThen you want me to give him another chance?Ф
УYes Ц as far as I am concerned.Ф
УThis is generous of you, Ruddy.Ф
УI donТt want to be the means of casting Ritter out, sir. Maybe if he was expelled, heТd go to the bad utterly.Ф
УThat is true, too,†Ц yet this school cannot afford to suffer from the actions of such a fellow. But I will give him one more chance,Ф concluded the master of Putnam Hall. And so the matter rested.
Andy was anxious to hear from the authorities, and one day came word that the man named Levi had been caught. In his possession were the medal and the ring taken from the acrobatic youth, so Andy got back what belonged to Joe Nelson and himself, much to his satisfaction. Levi followed the tramps to prison.
УWell, I am rather glad our running away is at an end,Ф said Jack, two days after the return to Putnam Hall. УAlthough I did like the camping out.Ф
УWe are to go camping soon, Captain Putnam said so,Ф returned Pepper. УWe are to go out in true military style too,Ф he added. How the cadets went out, and what sports and adventures they had, will be told in another volume of this series, to be entitled УThe Putnam Hall Encampment; or, The Secret of the Old Mill.Ф In that book we shall meet all our old friends again, and likewise some of their enemies.
УI donТt think running away did us any harm,Ф said Dale.
УIt was fun,Ф put in Bob Grenwood, who had been restored to his position as quartermaster of the school battalion.
УJust what I say,Ф declared Pepper.
And then the drum rolled for the evening parade and the cadets rushed off to get their guns and swords; and here we will leave them, wishing them well.
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