The Putnam Hall Rebellionñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“Oh, don’t worry beforehand,” answered Jack. “He may be another Mr. Strong.”
“Not much, Jack! Mr. Strong is one teacher out of a hundred, heaven bless him!”
“If all teachers were like Mr. Strong, going to boarding school would be a cinch,” added Andy, slangily. “He’s the dearest man who ever tried to teach a fellow the value of x and y, and don’t you forget it!”
“And I firmly believe we learn twice as much under a man like Mr. Strong as we do under old Josiah Crabtree, – although Crabtree may be the greater scholar,” came from Stuffer.
The cadets spent a pleasant time in the woods, and at the roll of the drum hastened back to the pasture. When the two companies were formed it was found Bob Grenwood was missing.
“He got disgusted and said he was going to walk back to the Hall alone,” said one of the students. “I can’t say that I blame him much. It was a terrible thing to be made to resign.”
In a few minutes more the line of march back to Putnam Hall was taken up. To give the cadets a variety of scene, Captain Putnam took to another road than that pursued in the morning. This was nearly a mile longer, and, consequently, it was after the supper hour when the cadets came in sight of the school buildings.
As the cadets marched up to the campus a man came rushing out of the school holding up his hands in horror. It was Josiah Crabtree.
“Captain Putnam! Captain Putnam!” he gasped. “Come quickly! Something dreadful has happened!”
A “ROUGH HOUSE” AT PUTNAM HALL
“What is the matter, Mr. Crabtree?” demanded the master of the school, as he dismounted from his horse and strode forward.
“The schoolrooms, sir – and the sitting room and library! All turned topsy-turvy!”
“Yes, sir! I just came in from the village – I went on a little business, as you know. When I got back I went to the library for a book – ‘The History of Turkey’ – and when I got there!” Josiah Crabtree held up his hands mutely. “It is a shame, an outrage, sir! And the classrooms are about as bad!”
“I’ll see about this,” said Captain Putnam, and strode into the school.
“Something is wrong,” said Pepper, after the cadets had broken ranks. “Let’s see what it is!” And he ran off to place his weapon in the gun rack.
Something was indeed wrong, as a hasty glance around the lower floor of the school building revealed. Every book in the library had been thrown on the floor, and to the general heap were added several pictures and maps taken from the walls. Two inkstands from a writing desk had been overturned, one on a table and over a beautiful statue of Justice standing on a pedestal in a corner. The floor rug had been folded up and thrown over a chandelier.
“Who did this?” demanded the master of the school sternly. “Who did this, I say?”
Nobody answered for the reason that nobody knew.
“And the schoolrooms are as bad,” cried Josiah Crabtree.
“Never have I
seen the equal, sir!”
Without loss of time Captain Putnam walked from one classroom to another and the cadets and teachers followed him, and so did some of the frightened servants. In every room books and papers were scattered in all directions. On a big school globe rested an old silk hat, and an old linen duster that Josiah Crabtree occasionally used in warm weather.
“Look at that! The rascals!” spluttered the irate teacher. “My coat, sir! It makes the globe look like a – a – scarecrow, sir!”
“It certainly does,” answered Captain Putnam, and for an instant he felt inclined to laugh. At the same time Pepper burst into a roar and Andy and some others did the same.
“This is a rough house and no mistake,” murmured Jack. “Who did it, I wonder?”
“Somebody has been here during our absence,” said Dale.
“Boys, stop your laughing!” exclaimed Josiah Crabtree, turning suddenly upon Pepper and his chums. “If you do not stop this minute, I’ll punish you severely! This is no laughing matter!”
“I won’t laugh any more,” answered Pepper, and, behind the fussy teacher’s back drew such a doleful face that Andy and Dale were almost convulsed.
“Here’s a go!” cried one of the cadets presently. “My Latin grammar is gone!”
“So is my history!” came from another.
“So is mine!”
A hasty hunt was made and soon it was discovered that every history and every Latin grammar was missing. All the other books were there, although mixed up and mussed.
“Well, I don’t mind the loss of the grammar and history so much,” observed Pepper. “I’d like to get rid of them forever!”
“So say we all of us!” sang out Andy softly.
“Boys!” cried Captain Putnam loudly, and at the call everybody became silent. “If any one of you know anything about this, I want that pupil to step forward and say so.”
There was a pause. Nobody budged.
“Was anybody left behind when we went for the target practice?”
Again there was a pause. Nobody spoke.
“This is, as Mr. Crabtree says, an outrage, and I intend to get at the bottom of it.”
“I know somebody who came back before we did,” said Mumps, stepping to the front.
“Who was that, Fenwick?”
“Oh, what a little sneak!” murmured Pepper.
“He ought to have his neck wrung!” added Andy.
“Humph! So he did,” said Captain Putnam. “Does anybody know where Grenwood is now?”
He looked from one to another of the assembled scholars, but all shook their heads.
“Mr. Crabtree, have Peleg Snuggers hunt Grenwood up, and at once.”
“I will, sir,” answered the teacher and hurried off to find the general utility man of the Hall. Then both went in search of Bob Grenwood, but failed to find the ex-quartermaster.
“Perhaps he didn’t come back after he left us,” said Jack. “Maybe he felt too down-hearted to return. I must say, I feel mighty sorry for Bob.”
There was nothing to do but to straighten out the library, sitting room and classrooms, and then the cadets went to supper. After that some of the boys went out on the campus, some to the lake shore, and others to the gymnasium.
“Well, one thing is certain, some of our school-books are gone,” said Joe Nelson. “Too bad! I had an essay in my history. If it is not found I’ll have to write another paper I suppose.”
“I’d not do it!” cried Stuffer. “It’s not your fault that the paper is gone.”
Jack and his chums were entering the gymnasium when a student who had gone ahead uttered a cry.
“They have been here, too!”
“What did they do?”
“Do? Did everything they could to spoil this place,” was the answer.
When lit up the gymnasium certainly presented “a sight for to see,” as Andy expressed it. The wooden horses had been stacked in a corner, the rings and turning bars had been cut down, and the Indian clubs, pulling machines, and the floor covered with oil and grease. Jack did not notice the grease on the floor until he slipped and fell, and Pepper, who was at his side, came down on top of him.
“This is the worst yet!”
“Why, fellows, this place is almost ruined!”
“The fellows who did this ought to be tarred and feathered!” cried Jack, as he got up and rubbed a bruised elbow.
“I don’t believe any of our cadets would do such a trick as this,” observed Andy.
“Reff Ritter and his cronies are mean enough to do anything,” answered Pepper.
“But they were with us,” answered Bart Conners.
“Boys, I think I know who is guilty!” almost shouted Jack, as a sudden idea popped into his head.
“Roy Bock and his crowd – the fellows we met this morning in the big touring car – the chaps who called us tin soldiers.”
“My gracious, Jack, do you think that is true?” demanded Pepper.
“If it is we ought to march over to Pornell Academy and wipe them off the face of the earth,” said Fred Century. “This looks just like Roy Bock’s underhanded meanness,” he added.
Captain Putnam was notified of the new discovery made and came down to inspect the damage done. His face grew very stern.
“This is positive vandalism,” was his comment. “If any boy in this school is guilty I shall expel him.”
“If you will permit me, Captain Putnam, I’d like to say a word,” said Jack.
“What is it, Major Ruddy.”
“I do not think this was done by anybody in our school. If you will remember, we were all away to-day to target practice.”
“That is true, but one boy, Robert Grenwood, came back early.”
“I know that, sir, but – ”
“And I rather think he was in an ugly frame of mind upon his return,” pursued the master of the school grimly.
“That might be, too, sir. All the same, I don’t think he’d do this. Bob isn’t that kind of a fellow.”
“Well, what were you going to say?”
“I was thinking of that crowd of Pornell Academy students we met on the road this morning.”
“The ones in an automobile?”
“Yes, sir, – the fellows who jeered at us and called us tin soldiers.”
“Ahem! What of them?”
“I don’t want to say too much, sir. But you know they are down on us, – and you know how our flagstaff and our cannon disappeared,” went on the young major, referring to an incident which had been related in detail in “The Putnam Hall Champions.”
“Yes, yes. And I also know how Doctor Pornell complained of the disappearance of some choice trophies belonging to his students,” said Captain Putnam grimly.
“Well, they got those trophies back,” said a student in the rear of the crowd, and a snicker passed among the cadets at the remembrance of the incident.
“Those fellows are the worst boys at Pornell,” went on the young major. “I don’t think they’d stop at anything to do this school an injury.”
“Can you prove any of them guilty?”
“No, sir – at least, not yet.”
“Then I can do nothing, for Doctor Pornell and myself are no longer on speaking terms.”
“I think it is clear enough,” said Pepper. “Outsiders wouldn’t have any reason to come here and do this – unless they had a grudge against you.”
“Maybe that butcher, Pangborn, did it,” suggested Dale, mentioning a meat dealer who had had trouble with the captain over his meat bill, and who no longer supplied the school.
“It might be.” The master of the school drew a long breath. “Well, I shall watch out, and I want you young gentlemen to do the same. If you learn of anything, let me know.”
A little later Bob Grenwood came in. From the target grounds he had walked to Cedarville and had purchased his supper at the village. He tried to slip upstairs unobserved, but was caught by Josiah Crabtree.
“Ha! so we have you, you young villain!” cried the teacher, taking him by the collar.
“What’s the matter?” asked Bob, somewhat startled.
“You know well enough,” stormed Josiah Crabtree, and without further ado marched the ex-quartermaster to Captain Putnam’s private office. Here Grenwood was put through a great number of questions. When he learned the drift of things he was highly indignant.
“Captain Putnam, I am not guilty, and you ought to know it!” he cried. “It was bad enough to make me resign my position, this is even worse. I shall write to my folks and ask them to take me away from this school!”
“You may do as you please, Grenwood,” was the captain’s cold reply.
“Some day, perhaps, you’ll find out your mistake,” said the cadet, and then, with tears of anguish and indignation standing in his eyes he left the office and ran up the stairs to the dormitory occupied by himself and several others.
Left to himself, Captain Putnam leaned his elbow on his desk and rested his head in his hand.
“These boys! These boys!” he murmured to himself. “I hardly know whether to believe them or not – they are up to so many tricks! Grenwood looks honest enough, and yet – you never can tell!” And he heaved a deep sigh. He was beginning to learn that after all, running a boarding school was not such an easy thing as he had at first supposed. He wanted to do what was just, – but he hated to be imposed upon.
THE NEW TEACHER
The first person the ex-quartermaster encountered upstairs was Jack.
“Hello, Bob,” cried the young major. “Just the person I want to see.”
“I – I – some other time, Ruddy,” stammered the youth, whose eyes were full of tears.
“See here, Bob, what’s your hurry? Anything special on?” And now Jack caught the other boy affectionately by the shoulder.
“I – I am going to leave this school!” was the bitter response. “Captain Putnam hasn’t treated me fairly. I didn’t distribute those blanks, I am certain of it – and I didn’t have anything to do with rough-housing the Hall, either!”
“Who said you played rough-house here?”
“He did – or he said as much.”
“Where have you been?”
“To Cedarville. I walked there directly from the target grounds.”
“Meet anybody on the road?”
“Why – er – yes, a farmer named Laning. He was driving a team of oxen and wanted to know what the shooting meant.”
“Where did you go when first you got to Cedarville?”
“What do you want to know that for?”
“Never mind, just tell me?”
“I went to the steamboat dock. There I met the agent, and helped him tow a boat up to Chase Point. When we got back I went and got supper at Berry’s and then came to the school.”
“Did you tell the captain all that?”
“No – he didn’t give me the chance.”
“Well, you should have told him. It seems to me it would be easy for you to prove an alibi, so far as being here this afternoon is concerned.”
“I am not going to bother with it – I’m going to quit and go home,” answered Bob Grenwood recklessly.
“I wouldn’t do it. Stay, Bob, and face the music. If you go away it will make it look as if you were guilty.”
“But Captain Putnam – ”
“Is all upset on account of this awful mix-up. He’ll calm down by to-morrow – and so will you. And let me say another thing, Bob. None of us fellows thinks you distributed the blanks, – or, if you did, we are sure it was a pure and simple mistake.”
At this moment came a cry from one of the dormitories, followed a second later by a yell from another room.
“This is the worst yet!”
“Every bed sheet is gone!”
“So are all the night clothes!”
“Here is some of the stuff, in the closet, and, yes, it’s tied up in hard knots!”
“Talk about ‘chawin’ on the beef!’ It will take some ‘chawin’’ to get these knots out!”
“Oh, if I only had the fellow who did this, wouldn’t I give him a piece of my mind!”
“I’d give him a piece av me fist!” roared Emerald. “Just be after looking at them beautiful pajamas of mine, toied in about twinty knots!” And he held up the articles of wearing apparel dolefully.
Jack ran into his dormitory, to find Pepper with a bundle in his hand. The bundle consisted of their night clothes and some bed sheets, all knotted together in a hopeless tangle. Several similar bundles were in the possession of other cadets.
The uproar was so great that soon all the teachers and the servants were on the scene. For once Captain Putnam was as furious as Josiah Crabtree had ever been.
“This is the vilest kind of an outrage!” cried the master of the Hall. “If I find out who is guilty I’ll have that person locked up!”
“I fancy more than one person did this,” said George Strong.
“You are right – it would take several at least. What a mess!” The captain glanced from room to room in perplexity. “I hardly know what to do.”
“Please, Captain Putnam, my nightgown is split from top to bottom,” wailed Mumps.
“One of the legs of my pajamas is torn off,” growled Reff Ritter.
“An arm of mine is gone,” added Coulter.
“Boys, you will have to straighten out things as best you can for the night,” said Captain Putnam at last. “To-morrow I’ll have a thorough investigation.”
The cadets went to work “chawin’ good and proper,” as Andy expressed it, and inside of half an hour the sheets and night clothing were straightened out, and then the lads went to bed, tired but highly excited. All voted that this was the most strenuous day that had ever come to them.
“Captain Putnam can think as he pleases,” said Pepper. “I am certain in my mind that the Pornell fellows did this, although how they managed it without being seen is a wonder to me.”
“It wasn’t so difficult, with all the cadets and all the teachers away,” answered Stuffer. “They must have gotten in on the sly and then posted a guard.”
“If we find out it was really the Pornell fellows we ought to pay ’em back,” spoke up Dale.
“We will,” answered Pepper promptly.
On the following morning both the cadets and the teachers had calmed down, and Captain Putnam acted like quite another person. A rigid investigation was held, but nothing came of it, although the missing school books were found in a hall closet. Acting on Jack’s advice Bob Grenwood went to the master of the school and told his story in detail, adding that he could prove by Mr. Laning, the farmer, and by the people in Cedarville how he had put in his time.
“Well, Grenwood, if you are innocent of this rough-house work I am glad to know it,” answered Captain Putnam finally. And so that matter was dropped. But he still believed poor Grenwood guilty of having distributed the blank cartridges and refused to reinstate the ex-quartermaster.
Two days later the new teacher arrived and was introduced to the cadets by Captain Putnam. Mr. Pluxton Cuddle proved to be a large man, fully six feet two inches in height and weighing at least two hundred pounds. He had a shock of heavy black hair, a heavy black moustache, and heavy black eyebrows. When he spoke his voice was almost a rumble, and he had a manner of shifting his eyes constantly and of rubbing his hands together as if soaping them well.
“I am sure we shall get along well together, young gentlemen,” he said in a voice that could be heard out on the campus. “Education is a great thing, a grand thing, and while you are at this institution you must make the most of your opportunities. My heart goes out to all boys who desire to elevate themselves mentally, and you who love to study will find me your best friend. In a few days I shall feel more at home here, and then we will see how much of precious study we can crowd into the all but too short hours of school life.” And having said this he bowed profoundly and sat down.
“Phew! but he’s a corker!” whispered Pepper to Jack. “I rather think he’ll make us sit up and take notice, eh?”
“Right you are, Pep,” answered the young major. “If I am any judge he’ll be even stricter than old Crabtree.”
“Looks like a chap who would carry out his ideas, once he had made up his mind,” came from Andy.
“Silence in the classroom!” called out Captain Putnam, and then, after a few words more, he left the new teacher and the students alone. Mr. Pluxton Cuddle got to work at once, and that day the boys studied more mathematics, astronomy and physics than ever before. They found that Mr. Cuddle was a regular “slave driver,” as Dale called him. Even Joe Nelson, studious as he was, shook his head.
“He’d want to keep a fellow at it every minute,” he observed. “I don’t mind boning away, but I want a breathing spell now and then.”
In the mess hall Pluxton Cuddle made himself even more disliked than in the classrooms. Hardly had the cadets at his table begun to eat when he commenced to find fault.
“The food is really cooked too much,” he said. “It is not healthy for the human stomach to eat food so well-done. And, boys, do not overload your stomachs. An overloaded stomach befogs the brain. To grow up clear-brained one must eat little and only that which is rare-done.”
“Gracious! does he want to starve us?” cried Pepper.
“He shan’t starve me!” returned Stuffer. He looked up to see the eyes of the new teacher fastened on him and his plateful of victuals.
“I say, you!” cried Pluxton Cuddle, pointing a long finger at poor Stuffer. “Do you mean to eat all that food?”
“Ye – yes, sir,” stammered Singleton.
“It is entirely too much, young man, entirely too much. Why, sir, do you know the capacity of the human stomach?”
“I know what mine can hold,” answered Stuffer, and at this answer a titter arose.
“Half of that food is sufficient for any boy,” went on Pluxton Cuddle, and glared around so sharply that the tittering stopped at once. “You cannot have a clear brain if you stuff yourself.”
“Captain Putnam lets me eat what I please,” grumbled Stuffer.
“Then the captain is making a sad mistake, and I feel it my duty to rectify it. Take a saucedish and put half of the food on it, and then eat what is left on your plate and no more.”
After that there was silence, but many of the cadets looked at each other meaningly. Here was a brand-new experience. When they got out on the campus they gathered to talk it over.
“Cut me off on food!” snorted Stuffer. “Say, if this thing keeps up I’ll go home. Why, I ain’t had half enough to eat!”
“Poor Stuffer!” cried Pepper. “Now see what you get for pampering your stomach!”
“I wanted some more rice pudding but I didn’t dare to ask for it,” said Dale.
“I wanted some more meat,” came from Bart Conners. “But he wouldn’t let the waiter bring me any. I think this is the limit!”
“What made me mad was the way Reff Ritter grinned at me from the next table,” continued Stuffer. “He had all he wanted to eat, for they had Mr. Strong there.”
“Too bad Mr. Strong is going away,” was Jack’s comment. “I hope he doesn’t stay long.”
“When does he go?” inquired another pupil.
“The only thing this Cuddle knows is lessons,” said Dale. “There is no denying he is learned – more so even than old Crabtree. But I must say I like him even less than Crabtree – and that is saying a whole lot.”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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