The Putnam Hall Rebellionñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“Where is Andy?” called out Stuffer. “I am hungry enough to eat that ice-cream right now.”
“I think something is wrong,” said Jack. “He ought to be back by this time.”
“What could be wrong, Jack?” asked Pepper.
“I don’t know, but – ” The young major paused. “Somehow, I feel that something serious has happened to Andy!”
WHAT HAPPENED TO ANDY
“Perhaps Andy had a tumble from his wheel,” suggested Dale. “It might have broken down, you know.”
“Let us walk toward town and find out,” answered Pepper.
To this the others readily consented, and all set off in the direction of Cedarville. They had to go around a long curve, and then came to a spot where the roadway was lined upon either side with thick brushwood and trees.
“Here he is!” called out Jack, and ran forward. “At least, here is his wheel.”
He was right about the bicycle. It rested by the roadside, close to the fallen limb of a tree.
“He certainly took a tumble!” cried Stuffer. “But where is he?”
This question was answered by a groan that made all of the cadets start. They turned, peered into the bushes, and there beheld poor Andy stretched out on some grass. The blood was flowing from a wound in his forehead and from a cut on his hand.
“Andy!” cried the young major. “Are you hurt much?”
“I – I don’t know,” was the gasped-out reply.
“Didn’t you see the tree limb?” asked Pepper, as he got out his handkerchief to wipe away some of the blood on his chum’s face, so he might see the extent of the injury. Fortunately the cut was not deep, and it was easily bound up.
“That limb came down right in front of me,” was Andy’s answer. “If it had been down before I got to it I could have cleared it somehow.”
Stuffer ran to a nearby brook for water, bringing some in a cone he made of a sheet of writing paper, and inside of five minutes the sufferer felt well enough to tell his story.
“I was coming along, guiding the wheel with one hand and holding the ice-cream with the other,” he explained. “All at once the limb came down right in front of me. I crashed into it and landed on some stones in the bushes and then, I guess, I lost consciousness. That’s all I’ve got to tell.”
“What became of the ice-cream?” asked Stuffer, and despite Andy’s plight the lad who loved to eat gazed around rather anxiously.
“Why, it – it – I don’t know, I’m sure,” stammered Andy. “Isn’t it on the road?”
It was not, nor was it anywhere in that vicinity. The cadets looked at each other suggestively.
“Maybe it was a trick,” said Pepper. “A trick to get the cream away from Andy and spoil our little festival.”
“That’s it!” cried Dale. “For look, there is no tree around here where that limb could come from.”
The others looked around and saw that Dale was right. Only small trees were in that vicinity and none of these had lost a branch.
“If it was a trick, it was a mighty mean one,” was the young major’s comment.
“Why, the tumble might have killed Andy!”
“Did you see anybody, Andy?” questioned Stuffer.
“No, and I didn’t hear anybody either.”
“Well, it’s too bad. It must have been a trick. I wonder if some of our fellows or some fellows from Pornell Academy played it?”
“That remains for us to find out,” said Pepper. “And when we do find out – well, somebody will suffer, that’s all!”
“Right you are!” answered Jack and Dale.
The other boys helped Andy to his feet. He was still dizzy and they had to support him on either side. It was found that the bicycle had a broken pedal.
“I wish I knew who did this,” grumbled Andy, as he started to limp along between Pepper and Jack. “I’d – Oh!” And he stopped short.
“What’s the matter?” came simultaneously from those who were assisting him.
“What is gone?”
Andy did not answer immediately. He began to search his clothing, going through every pocket several times. Then he started to hunt around on the ground.
“What have you lost, Andy?” asked Jack.
“Was it valuable?” put in Stuffer.
“Was it valuable?” queried Andy. “Well, I just guess yes! It was worth at least two hundred dollars!”
“Two hundred dollars!” exclaimed all of the others in astonishment.
“Yes – and more.”
“What was it?”
“Joe Nelson’s medal.”
That was all the others said – but it was enough. Every lad at Putnam Hall knew Joe Nelson’s medal, the one left to Joe by his Uncle Richard. It was a beautiful racing medal of gold, set with jewels, and Joe was very proud of it.
“What were you doing with Joe’s medal?” asked Jack, after a pause.
“The pin catch got broken and Joe sent it to the watchmaker to have another put on. He asked me to get it for him – I was with him when he left it at Bright’s shop. I went for it before I went for the cream.”
“And where did you have the medal?” asked Dale.
“In the inside pocket of my jacket, and I had the pocket fastened with a safety pin, too, to keep the medal from jumping out on the road.”
“It must be somewhere around here,” said Stuffer. “Let us make a good search.”
This they did, but it was of no avail. In the midst of it Andy set up another cry.
“My change is gone, and so is my ring!”
“Boys, I have been robbed!”
“Oh, Andy, can this be true?” burst out Jack.
“What else can it be? I couldn’t lose my ring and everything else, could I, by just tumbling from my bicycle?”
“Andy must be right – the sudden coming down of the tree limb proves it,” declared Pepper. “Were you unconscious long?” he continued.
“I don’t know.”
“But you are sure you were completely knocked out when you hit the rock?” asked Dale.
“Yes – everything got dark and I didn’t know a thing. And, yes, when I came to my senses – just before you arrived – I was in the bushes!”
“Then somebody must have carried you from the road!” declared Jack. “And that somebody robbed you!” he added, bitterly.
After this there was a moment of silence. The others looked at Andy, and the acrobatic lad stared at them blankly.
“Yes, I must have been robbed,” he said slowly. “But who did it?”
“I don’t believe any of our fellows would do it,” answered Dale. “Even Ritter isn’t bad enough for that.”
“Would the Pornell fellows do it?” queried Stuffer.
“I don’t think so,” answered the young major. “Why, this is a prison offence!”
“Andy, who knew you were carrying the medal?” questioned Pepper.
“I don’t know.”
“Did anybody see you get it from the watchmaker’s?”
At this question Andy’s face lit up suddenly.
“Yes, a beggar, who came in and asked Mr. Bright for the price of a meal. Mr. Bright gave him five cents and I gave him the same. He was a tall, hungry looking fellow, with a flat nose, and, I remember now, he looked greedily at the gold medal and at the things in the shop.”
“Then maybe he is the guilty man,” said Dale.
“How would he know enough to come here and strike Andy down?” asked Stuffer.
“He would know, by Andy’s uniform, that he belonged to the Hall,” answered the young major. “He may have taken to this road and laid in wait for Andy.”
“I believe you are right!” cried Andy. “I didn’t like the looks of that chap, even though I did give him five cents. He looked just as if he wanted to get his hands on something of value.”
“And he must have taken the ice-cream too,” came mournfully from Stuffer.
“I hope it poisons him,” muttered Pepper.
“Humph! The idea of ice-cream poisoning anybody! Besides, a fellow like that most likely has the digestion of an ostrich,” returned Stuffer.
It was now growing so dark that to look around further was impossible. Jack and Pepper assisted Andy, and Dale brought along the broken bicycle, and thus the crowd returned to Putnam Hall. At the entrance to the campus they encountered Josiah Crabtree.
“Stop!” called the teacher, harshly. “Where have you been? Did you have permission to leave?”
“Mr. Crabtree, where is Captain Putnam?” asked Jack, without answering the questions put. “Andy had been hurt and robbed. We’ll have to notify the authorities at once.”
“Hurt? Robbed? How?” And Josiah Crabtree was much interested.
“He was knocked off his wheel and robbed of a ring, some money and Joe Nelson’s fine gold medal. Is Captain Putnam in his office?”
“I presume so. But I want to know – ”
“Time is valuable here, Mr. Crabtree. We want to catch the thief if we can,” put in Pepper, and then the whole party hurried to the office of the master of the Hall before Josiah Crabtree could detain them further. The teacher’s curiosity was aroused and he stalked after them.
Captain Putnam listened to Andy’s story with keen attention, and then asked all of the boys a number of questions. Nothing was said about ice-cream, nor did the captain ask Andy if he had had permission to go to the village.
“You did not come back at once, after getting the medal?” was the question put.
“No, sir. I went to a couple of stores and posted a letter at the post-office.”
“Then that would give the rascal time enough to get out of the village and make his plans to waylay you,” answered Captain Putnam. “I think the least we can do is to try to catch that beggar and make him give an account of himself. If he can prove he was in Cedarville at the time of the robbery, why then you’ll have to look further for the thief.”
His army experience had taught Captain Putnam to act quickly in a case of emergency, and now, without delay, he had Peleg Snuggers hitch his fast mare to a buggy, and he and Andy drove down to Cedarville. Here the local authorities were interviewed, and two constables and a special policeman went out on a hunt for the beggar. The policeman had seen the man, and remembered how he looked and how he had been dressed.
“He had an upper set of teeth that were false and a flat nose,” said the policeman. “He was dressed in a suit of blue that was too big around for him but not quite long enough. I saw him begging down at the steamboat dock, and I told him if he didn’t clear out he’d be run in.”
A hunt was instituted that very night, and was kept up for several days. But the beggar had disappeared and all efforts to locate him seemed fruitless. A reward was offered by the captain and by Andy’s parents, but brought no results.
“I am afraid he’s gone, and for good,” sighed Andy.
“Well, if the medal is gone it’s gone, and that is all there is to it,” answered Joe Nelson. He felt the loss of his uncle’s gift greatly.
“Joe, my father says he will buy you another medal,” said Andy.
“He doesn’t have to do that, Andy,” was the quick reply. “It wasn’t your fault you were robbed. Besides, I’d like to have that particular medal back.”
“Yes, and I want my ring,” said Andy. “My mother gave me that on my last birthday, and I prized it highly.”
“Well, maybe the medal and the ring will turn up some day,” concluded Joe; and there the subject was dropped.
THE BEGINNING OF A REBELLION
As has been said, George Strong had gone away on business, and now Captain Putnam followed him. This left the school in charge of Josiah Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle. That there might be no dispute regarding authority the master of the school made it plain to the two assistants that Crabtree was to have undisputed sway during school hours and that at other times Cuddle was to assume command.
“We are in for it now,” said Bart Conners, after the captain had gone. “Just you wait and see. Crabtree will be as dictatorial as possible during recitations and Cuddle won’t let us call our souls our own the rest of the time.”
“Well, I’ll stand just so much,” answered Pepper. “Then, if it gets worse, I’ll kick.” And his chums said about the same.
The first trouble arose in the schoolroom. Some of the boys had a Latin lesson that was extra difficult, and when they stumbled in the recitation Crabtree read them a lecture that was bitter in the extreme.
“You must understand that I am now in authority here,” he declared, pompously. “I want no more shirking. The reason you haven’t this lesson is because you are lazy!”
“Mr. Crabtree,” answered Joe Nelson, with a flushed face. “I did my best on that translation. But we have never had – ”
“Stop, Nelson, I want no excuses,” roared Josiah Crabtree. “This lesson is simple enough for a child to learn.”
“I did my best,” put in Jack, half aloud.
“Ruddy, did you speak?” demanded the teacher, whirling around and eyeing the young major savagely.
“I did, sir. I said I did my best. As Joe says, we have never had – ”
“Silence! Didn’t I say I wanted no excuses? Ditmore, you may translate from the beginning of paragraph twenty-four.”
“I didn’t study paragraph twenty-four,” answered Pepper. “I thought we were to take to twenty-two only.”
“I said twenty to twenty-five,” answered Josiah Crabtree, coldly. “If you can’t translate sit down, and I’ll mark you zero. Ritter, you may translate paragraph twenty-four for Ditmore’s benefit.”
The last words were said maliciously, for the teacher knew that Pepper and Ritter were on bad terms with each other. Pepper’s face reddened and he scowled. But a moment later he had to grin.
“Mr. Crabtree, I – er – I am not prepared to translate,” stammered Reff Ritter.
“What!” shouted the teacher.
“I am not prepared to translate. I – er – I had such a headache last night I couldn’t study.”
“Headache is good!” muttered Dale into Pepper’s ear. “He was out on the lake having a good time and smoking cigarettes!”
“Perhaps the cigarettes made his head ache,” answered Pepper.
“Stop that talking!” bawled Josiah Crabtree, and rapped sharply on his desk with a ruler. “Kearney, you may go on with the lesson.”
Now as it chanced, Dave Kearney was an exceptionally good Latin scholar, so he translated fairly well, even though he had not looked over the paragraph given. Then Stuffer was called on.
“I studied only up to twenty-three,” said he. “That’s as far as you said we were to go.”
“Don’t contradict me! Don’t you dare!” shouted Josiah Crabtree, red in the face with rage. “I know what lessons I give out. Conners, you go on.”
The big boy of the class shrugged his shoulders.
“I can go on, but not very well, sir,” he answered. “I understood we were to go to the end of paragraph twenty-two only. I may be mistaken – ”
“You’re right!” came from a cadet in the rear of the room.
“So he is!” said several others.
“Silence! silence!” shouted Josiah Crabtree, leaping to his feet and shaking his ruler in the pupils’ faces. “Silence! I will have silence!”
“Anybody got any silence to spare?” murmured Pepper, looking behind him. “Mr. Crabtree wants to borrow some silence.” And at this a snicker went around.
“I will have silence!” repeated the teacher. “If you are not silent I will keep every one of you in after school!”
“Mr. Crabtree,” said Jack, arising and facing the irate teacher boldly. As major of the school battalion he felt it his duty to speak.
“Ruddy, what do you want?” snapped the teacher.
“There has evidently been a mistake made. I think most of the boys here understood you to say we were to go to the end of paragraph twenty-two – ”
“That’s it! That’s it!” came in a dozen voices.
“Silence! Ruddy, sit down!”
“But, sir, I would suggest – ”
“Sit down, or I’ll make you!” stormed Josiah Crabtree, and leaving his desk he strode down the aisle with his ruler brandished over his head.
It was a critical moment – one of the most critical Putnam Hall had ever seen – and many of the cadets present held their breath. Some expected to see Jack drop into his seat, but the young major did nothing of the kind. He stood in a soldierly attitude and looked the angry teacher full in the eyes.
“Will you sit down or not?” demanded Josiah Crabtree, as he came to a halt in front of the pupil.
“Will you listen to me, or not, Mr. Crabtree?” asked Jack. “If you won’t, I have nothing more to say, here. But I’ll report the matter to Captain Putnam when he returns.”
“Good! That’s the talk!” came from several others.
“Crabtree made the mistake and he is afraid to acknowledge it,” said one cadet.
“Boys, will you be silent?” yelled the teacher. “This is – er – outrageous! I never saw such actions in a schoolroom before! Am I in authority here, or am I not?”
“You are – not!” squeaked a voice from the rear.
“Walk out in the air and forget to return,” added another voice.
“Take a vacation until Captain Putnam gets back,” suggested a third.
Josiah Crabtree trembled with rage and from red grew white. He waved his ruler wildly in the air.
“This is – is rebellion!” he gasped. “Rebellion! I want everybody to sit down!” For all the cadets were now on their feet.
“Sit down yourself!” came from Coulter, who was in the rear, and then somebody threw a book into the air. More books followed, and several volumes landed on Josiah Crabtree’s head and shoulders. He danced around wildly, trying to reach some of the cadets with the ruler, but all kept out of his way.
It was the most exciting time Putnam Hall had ever witnessed, and the climax was gained when an inkwell, thrown by Reff Ritter, struck Josiah Crabtree in the neck. Up flew the ink into the instructor’s face, covering his nose, chin and one cheek.
“You wretches!” spluttered Crabtree, wiping the ink from one eye. “You wretches! Stop, or I’ll have you all locked up! This is – is disgraceful, outrageous, preposterous! I never imagined any set of boys could be so bad! I shall have somebody arrested for assault and battery! I’ll have the law on all of you!” And still brandishing the ruler he ran from the classroom, banging the door after him.
For the moment after he was gone nobody spoke. Then Bart Conners emitted a low whistle.
“Here’s a how-do-you-do!” he exclaimed.
“Do you think he’ll try to have anybody arrested?” questioned Reff Ritter. He was just a little scared and wished he had not thrown the inkwell.
“He’ll have a job arresting the whole class,” was Andy’s comment.
“It wasn’t our fault,” added Dale. “He started the trouble. It was his mistake about the lesson.”
“So it was,” put in Dave Kearney. “I knew paragraph twenty-four, but he gave us only to the end of twenty-two, I am certain of it.”
“So am I,” added nearly every student present.
“Boys, come to order!” called out Jack. “Everybody take his books and sit down,” and all but Ritter did as requested. The latter took up the fallen inkwell and carried it to his seat.
“It wasn’t fair to throw that inkwell,” remarked Joe Nelson.
“That was going a little too far,” said another student.
“Huh! Are you fellows going back on me?” demanded the bully, uneasily. “Didn’t you throw books and other things?”
“Books aren’t inkwells full of ink,” remarked Stuffer.
“You threw an apple core!” flared back Ritter.
“So I did – into the air. But it struck the blackboard, not old Crabtree.”
“It’s just as bad.”
“Sure it is,” put in Coulter, bound to stand by his crony.
“We are all in this together,” said Paxton. “The fellow who tries to crawl ought to be kicked.”
“And you’d be the first to do it – if you could,” retorted Pepper. “Just the same, nobody is crawling yet,” he added, quickly.
A warm discussion arose on all sides, and it was generally admitted that, barring the inkwell incident, Josiah Crabtree had gotten no more than he deserved.
“He ought to be kicked out of this school,” said Henry Lee. “We ought to combine and ask Captain Putnam to get rid of him.”
“He’s under contract,” said Bart Conners. “If the captain sent him away, old Crabtree would most likely sue for his salary.”
“I’ll tell you what we can do,” said Jack. “Sit down and begin to study just as if nothing had happened.”
“But if he has gone for the authorities – ” began one of the cadets.
“I don’t think he’ll go. He’ll have to wash that ink off first – and the water will cool him down.”
“He won’t dare to go, for we can complain too,” added Andy.
At that moment the door opened and Pluxton Cuddle stalked in, followed by the gymnasium instructor and Peleg Snuggers. The general utility man carried a cane and looked troubled. The new teacher marched to the platform and the others did the same.
“This room will come to order!” commanded Pluxton Cuddle, but this order was unnecessary, for every cadet was in his seat and all were sitting up as stiff as ramrods. The silence was so complete that the clock in the hall could be heard ticking loudly.
“Mr. Crabtree informs me that a disgraceful scene just occurred here,” went on Pluxton Cuddle. “He was assaulted by books, inkwells and other things. Were it not that he does not wish to bring disgrace upon this institution of learning, he would at once summon the authorities and have all of you placed under arrest.”
The instructor paused, hoping somebody would say something, but not a cadet opened his lips, although all faced the teacher boldly.
“I want the names of all who threw anything at Mr. Crabtree,” continued Pluxton Cuddle. “Everybody who threw anything stand up.”
The cadets looked at one another and nobody budged from his seat.
“Did you hear what I said, young gentlemen?” demanded the new teacher.
To this there was no reply. The students acted as if they were images of stone.
“I will call the roll!” cried Pluxton Cuddle. “Snuggers, go to the door and see that no boy leaves this room.”
“Yes, sir,” answered the general utility man, and with shuffling steps he took up a position as required.ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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