Edward Stratemeyer.

The Putnam Hall Rebellion





There was a pause, as the new teacher got out the roll book and began to scan the pages. Then, of a sudden, the door opened once more and Josiah Crabtree came in swiftly and marched to the desk. In his hand he held a cat-o-nine tails.

CHAPTER XIII
PLUXTON CUDDLES PROPOSITION

Say, Jack, this begins to look serious, remarked Pepper in a whisper, as all eyes were directed to Crabtree and the lash he carried.

Hell make a big mistake if he tries to whip us, was the young majors comment. Whats this? he asked, as a bit of paper was thrust into his hand. The paper read:

Refuse to say a word about anything. Pass this paper along.

Thats the talk, said the young major, and slipped the sheet to the student behind him. Thus the paper travelled from one end of the classroom to the other.

I was just going to call the roll, Mr. Crabtree, said Pluxton Cuddle. Well find out soon who is guilty of assaulting you.

Yes! yes! The quicker the better, answered the other teacher, grimly, and clutched his cat-o-nine tails tightly.

If he tries to use that there will be a regular fight, mark my words, whispered Dale, who sat near Pepper.

Hes a fool to bring that here, at such a time, answered The Imp. What does he take us for, a lot of kids?

Addison! called out Pluxton Cuddle, with his eyes on the roll book. Stand up!

The cadet addressed did so.

Did you throw anything at Mr. Crabtree?

I have nothing to say, sir.

Do you defy me? fumed Pluxton Cuddle.

To this the pupil made no answer.

Sit down! Blackmore, stand up. What have you to say?

I have nothing to say, Mr. Cuddle.

What! You er Is this a plot, sir?

I have nothing to say, sir, excepting that I am willing to go on with my lessons, Mr. Cuddle.

Well have no lessons here until this is settled! cried Josiah Crabtree. Call the next pupil.

Blossom! What have you to say for yourself? asked Cuddle.

I have nothing to say, sir, replied the first lieutenant of Company A, in the same tone of voice employed by those who had answered before him.

This is a conspiracy! gasped Pluxton Cuddle.

I told you how it was! cried Josiah Crabtree. I think the best thing I can do is to give each pupil present ten lashes with this cat. And he shook the cat-o-nine tails in the boys faces.

Mr. Crabtree! called out Jack, rising. As major of the school battalion I feel it my duty to speak out. I think the boys would like me to be their spokesman.

Yes! yes! was the cry from all sides.

Tell him we wont stand for a licking, said one boy in the rear.

Silence! cried the two teachers simultaneously.

We want justice! came from the middle of the room.

Leave it to Captain Putnam! came from the right.

Forget it and go on with the lessons, added a voice from the left.

Boys! called out Jack and waved his hand.

Let me do the talking please. And at once the classroom became silent.

Ruddy, I want you to sit down! thundered Josiah Crabtree.

Perhaps it would be as well to listen to what he has to say, whispered Pluxton Cuddle, who was growing a little alarmed at the demonstration the pupils seemed to be on the point of making.

Mr. Cuddle, am I in authority here, or you? demanded the unreasonable Crabtree.

You asked me to assist you, sir, answered Cuddle, sharply.

So I did, but but these young ruffians must be taught to mind! The way they have acted is outrageous!

You wont gain much by bullying them, went on Pluxton Cuddle. If I had my way, I know what Id do, sir.

And what would you do? snapped Josiah Crabtree.

I should cut down their supply of food. That is the whole fault in this school the boys get too much to eat, sir, entirely too much. It makes animals of them, yes, sir, animals! Pluxton Cuddle was beginning to mount his hobby. I have told Captain Putnam about it already. If the boys had only half of what they get now they would be brighter, quicker to learn, and much more easy to manage. As it is, they get large quantities of meat and it makes perfect bulls of them and the pastry clogs their brains, and they cant learn their lessons even if they try. Put them on half rations, and in less than a week you will behold a wonderful change in them.

Humph! mused Josiah Crabtree, struck by a sudden idea. It might be a good thing to cut down their food give them say one meal a day until they got to their senses.

Two small meals, interposed Pluxton Cuddle, eagerly. And meat but once every forty-eight hours and no pastry of any kind. It would do them a world of good.

Well, do as you think best, Mr. Cuddle. You have charge of them outside of the classrooms, remember.

Then you agree? questioned Pluxton Cuddle eagerly.

You may do as you please I leave them entirely in your hands, outside of the classrooms. During school hours my word must be law.

Exactly, I understand. Pluxton Cuddle began rubbing his hands together. Well start on the new system of meals this very evening.

Do as you like. Josiah Crabtree paused. But I must finish what I started out to do. He looked at Jack. Ruddy, since you seem so very anxious to talk, what have you to say for yourself?

I wish to speak for the whole class or at least for the majority of the boys, corrected the young major, with a glance at Ritter, Coulter, Paxton and Sabine.

Well, out with it! snapped Crabtree.

This trouble, sir, is all due to a misunderstanding, pursued the young major. We thought you wanted us to study the Latin lesson up to and including paragraph twenty-two. We were not prepared to go any further than that, even though Dave Kearney did get through all right. We think the whole matter might be dropped where it is and we are willing to go back to our studies.

Drop it! snapped Josiah Crabtree. Never! If I do nothing more, I am going to thrash the boy who threw that inkwell at me and covered my face with ink.

He said this so fiercely that Reff Ritter grew pale and looked around anxiously. The bully wondered if the other cadets present would help him to keep his secret.

I want the student who threw that inkwell to stand up, went on the teacher, as Jack, having had his way, sat down.

Nobody moved, although several pairs of eyes were turned upon Reff Ritter. Many lads present would have been glad to have seen the bully punished, but they did not consider it honorable to expose him.

Crabtree had Pluxton Cuddle go through the roll, but this gave the teachers no satisfaction. Each and every cadet answered that he had nothing to say.

After the last student had been questioned there was another pause and an ominous silence. The boys were curious to know what Josiah Crabtree would do next. The teacher was in a quandary.

We will take this up again another time, he snapped, finally. You may return to your lessons, and to-morrow well have for a Latin lesson down to the end of paragraph thirty-two. Do you understand? down to the end of paragraph thirty-two not thirty or thirty-one, but to the end of thirty-two. And then turning he wrote the statement on the blackboard. Now there will be no further misunderstanding, he added sourly. Then he dismissed Peleg Snuggers and the gymnastic instructor, put away the cat-o-nine tails in his desk, and turned to talk with Pluxton Cuddle in a whisper, so that the scholars might not hear what was said.

Phew! I wonder if he really expects us to take such a long lesson? exclaimed Pepper in a low voice. Why, from twenty-two to thirty-two are ten paragraphs, and we never had over six before.

He is going to get square in one way if not in another, answered Andy. Just the same, Ill wager a lot of the fellows wont have the lesson to-morrow.

A few minutes later Pluxton Cuddle hurried out to another classroom, and then the routine for the day went on as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. The cadets even saw Josiah Crabtree smile to himself. It was a bad sign, and they knew it.

Hes got it in for us, whispered Dale. Look out for a storm.

Yes, and a hurricane at that, returned Stuffer.

The classes were usually dismissed in the morning at ten minutes to twelve, thus giving the cadets ten minutes for exercise before sitting down to dinner. But twelve oclock came and Josiah Crabtree made no motion to dismiss the boys.

Hello, this is a new move, cried Pepper, in a low voice.

Silence in the room, called out the teacher sharply. We will now take up the lesson in algebra. Conners, you may go to the blackboard.

Somewhat perplexed, Bart Conners arose and walked to the board. He did not know the algebra lesson very well, for he had counted on going over it during the noon hour. He was given a decidedly difficult problem in equations.

Say, is he going to keep us here all noon? asked Hogan. Sure, if he is, tis an outrage, so tis!

He isnt going to starve me! answered Stuffer, who, as usual, was very hungry. He raised his hand, and then, to get quicker recognition, snapped his finger and thumb.

Singleton, what do you want? asked Josiah Crabtree, tartly.

Please, sir, its after twelve oclock.

I know it.

Arent we to go to dinner, sir?

Not now. Sit down. And the teacher frowned heavily.

Stuffer sank into his seat, a look of misery on his face. His appearance was so woe-begone Pepper had to laugh outright. At this Crabtree rapped sharply on his desk.

Silence! I will have silence! he called. Conners, go on with the example.

I cant er do it, stammered the captain of Company B.

Huh! Then take your seat! Ritter!

Please, sir, I am afraid I cant do it either. I was going to study directly after dinner began the bully.

Never mind the rest, Ritter. Paxton!

I guess I can do it, answered Nick Paxton, and shuffled to the blackboard. He soon had a mass of figures written down, but they seemed to lead to nowhere, and Josiah Crabtree was more put out than ever.

That is all wrong, Paxton! he said. You are a blockhead! Take your seat! And Paxton did so, with his head hanging down.

In the meantime the other classes had been dismissed, and those kept in could hear the other cadets walk through the halls and enter the mess room. Then followed a clatter of knives and forks and dishes. These sounds made many cadets besides Stuffer feel an emptiness in the vicinity of their belts.

As no one appears to know the algebra lesson, we will take time for studying, said Josiah Crabtree. I will examine you again at one oclock. The room will be quiet.

Quarter of an hour dragged by slowly. The boys wanted to talk the situation over, but Josiah Crabtree would permit no whispering. Presently the teacher arose and walked to the door.

I will be back shortly, he said, in a cold voice. I want absolute order maintained during my absence. Then he went out, shutting the door after him. A strange clicking followed.

He has locked us in! exclaimed a youth who sat near the door, in a hoarse whisper. Now what do you think of that?

CHAPTER XIV
IN WHICH THE STORM GATHERS

I guess he has gone off to get his own dinner, and he is going to leave us starve! groaned Stuffer. Im not going to stand it no, sir! And he jumped up from his desk and began to walk around nervously.

This is certainly a new move, said Jack.

I dont believe Captain Putnam or Mr. Strong would do such a thing, vouchsafed Bart Conners.

No, both of them are too considerate, answered Dale.

This is the combined work of old Crabtree and Cuddle, came from Andy. Cuddle loves to cut a fellow short on grub.

Jack walked to the door and tried the knob.

Locked, true enough, he said.

But the windows arent, added Pepper. I could get out of a window almost as quick as out of a door, he went on suggestively.

Lets all climb out and make a break for the mess hall, cried Fred Century. He has no right to cut us out of our dinner. Its paid for.

So it is! answered several.

Ill climb out if anybody else will, said Reff Ritter.

So will I! said Dale and Coulter in a breath.

Look here, fellows, if we make a move we ought to have a regularly appointed leader, said Dave Kearney. I move we make Major Ruddy our leader. Hes the commander of the battalion anyway.

Second the motion! came in a dozen voices.

Whats the matter with my leading? demanded Reff Ritter. I made the suggestion to climb out of the window, didnt I?

Thats it make Reff leader, put in Paxton, quickly.

Hes just the fellow for the place, added Coulter, while Sabine nodded.

No, no, give us Ruddy! called out a great number of cadets.

Ruddy! Ruddy!

No, give Ritter a show!

Might as well put it to a vote, suggested Dale, when cries were heard from all sides. All in favor of Jack Ruddy for leader raise their right hand.

Instantly fifteen hands went up.

Now those in favor of Reff Ritter.

Eight hands went up. The other cadets present refused to vote at all.

Major Ruddy has it, announced Dale. Is everybody satisfied?

Yes! was the loud cry.

I suppose well have to be, grumbled Coulter. But Ritter would have made a better leader. He offered to go through the window, and

Never mind chewing it over now, broke in Pepper. From now on, let Jack do the talking.

Boys, are all in favor of leaving this room and going to the mess hall? asked the young major, mounting to the top of a desk and gazing around him.

Yes! yes! was the answer.

Then let us get out of the windows, form a company on the campus, and march into the mess hall in regular soldier style. When we get there, let every fellow take his usual place and refuse to budge until dinner is served.

Hurrah! Thats the talk! cried Stuffer. And a full-sized dinner too, with dessert! he added hastily.

For cadets used to gymnasium practice, it was an easy matter to climb out of the classroom windows to the campus. Once on the green, Jack lost no time in forming the boys into a single company.

Attention! he called out. By column of two, forward march! And he led the way, the cadets following in pairs, and marching as stiffly as if on dress parade.

It may be that somebody was on the watch, yet the boys were not disturbed, and soon they filed into the mess hall, where the other cadets were just finishing their midday meal. At one table sat Pluxton Cuddle and at another Josiah Crabtree. Both leaped to their feet in amazement.

How dare you! gasped Josiah Crabtree. How dare you! For the moment he could think of nothing else to say.

As it was past the dinner hour the class made up its mind to come in and get something to eat, said Jack, stiffly, and looking the teacher full in the face.

You you rascal! exploded the teacher. Ill have you to underst

Excuse me, Mr. Crabtree, I am not a rascal, interrupted Jack. I am the major of the Putnam Hall battalion and the spokesman of our class so chosen by a vote of the cadets. We decided that we wanted dinner and we are here to get it.

This is mutiny rebellion! gasped Pluxton Cuddle.

You can call it what you please, Mr. Cuddle. We are entitled to our dinner and we mean to have it.

Good for you, Major Ruddy! came from a pupil from another classroom.

Crabtree and Cuddle have no right to do you out of your dinners, added another.

Make them give you what you pay for, added a third.

The cries increased until it looked as if the demonstration in the mess hall would be greater than that which had occurred in the classroom. Pluxton Cuddle called for order, but even as he spoke a hot potato went sailing through the air and hit him in the shirt front. Then a shower of bread went up into the air, falling all around both Cuddle and Crabtree.

Boys! boys! gasped Josiah Crabtree, and now he turned pale, wondering what would happen next.

Better give em something to eat, sah! suggested the head waiter, a colored man. Some of them hungry chaps look wicked, sah!

They have all been fed too much, that is the reason, said Pluxton Cuddle. I dont mean to-day, I mean in general. However, perhaps it will be as well, just now, to let them have a er a light repast, he went on stammeringly, for another hot potato had hit him on the shoulder.

Boys! called out Jack. Stop throwing things. Mr. Crabtree wants to say something. For he saw that the teacher wanted to speak to the assemblage.

I er I wish to state, began Josiah Crabtree, when the cadets settled down at Jacks command, that I er I did not intend to make you do without your dinner. I was er going to er let you come to the mess hall er after the other pupils had finished. But as it is he gazed around somewhat helplessly, I er I think you can stay. The waiters will bring in the dinner. And he sat down and mopped his perspiring forehead with his handkerchief.

Gosh! Ill bet it was hard for him to come down! whispered Dale to Pepper.

Hes getting afraid of the crowd, returned The Imp. He was afraid wed pass him the stuff on the table without waiting for plates! And Pepper grinned suggestively.

The cadets had to wait a long time before they were served. Meanwhile Pluxton Cuddle consulted with the head waiter and paid a visit to the kitchen. As a result, when the dinner came in, the cadets found the food both scanty and exceedingly plain.

Say, how is a chap to get along on this, growled Stuffer. I could eat twice as much!

Make the best of it this time, said Jack. We can hold a meeting after school and decide upon what to do in the future if things dont mend.

The worst of it to Stuffers mind was that there was nothing but a little rice pudding for dessert. All of the cadets who had rebelled went from the mess room hungry and out on the campus they discovered that the other cadets had fared little better.

Its Cuddles doings, said one of the other students. Hes a crank on the question of eating thinks a man ought to eat next to nothing to be healthy and clear-minded.

Crabtree was willing enough to fall in with his views, returned Pepper.

Thats because he wanted to square up with you. Personally, Crabtree likes to eat as hearty a meal as anybody.

I know that.

I dont know what we are coming to, if Captain Putnam or Mr. Strong dont come back soon, said another cadet. We had a row in our classroom too.

Neither Crabtree nor Cuddle are fit to manage a school, said Dale. They may be good enough teachers, but they need somebody in authority over them. And this statement hit the nail squarely on the head.

Reff Ritter was still disturbed, thinking that Crabtree might find out that he was guilty of throwing the inkwell, and he went around, sounding various cadets and getting them to promise not to mention the matter. He was chagrined to think that he had not been chosen leader in the rebellion, and was half inclined to draw away from Jacks friends and form a party of his own.

Ruddy wants to lead in everything, he growled to Coulter. It makes me sick!

Well, you cant afford to go back on him now, was the answer. If you do he may take it in his head to let old Crabtree know about the inkwell, and then

Oh, he can lead if he wants the job so bad, interrupted the bully hastily.

At the proper time the bell rang for the afternoon session and all of the cadets marched to their various classrooms as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. Lessons were taken up where they had been dropped, but the boys found it hard to concentrate their minds on what they were studying or reciting. All felt that a storm and a big one at that was brewing.

Josiah Crabtree did not come into the classroom occupied by Jack and his chums, and Reff Ritter and his crowd. Instead he sent an under teacher, a meek man who did just what he was told, no more and no less. With this teacher the boys got along very well.

Wish we could have him right along, observed Stuffer.

If you did have him you wouldnt make much progress, answered Jack. Hes good enough for the lower classes, but thats all. He doesnt know half as much as Mr. Strong.

When the cadets were dismissed for the day they hurried out on the campus, and here Jack asked all who were interested in what had occurred to attend a meeting at the boathouse. About three-quarters of the cadets responded, those holding back being the smaller lads and a few timid ones like Mumps.

At this meeting it came out that every class in the school had caught it, either from Josiah Crabtree or Pluxton Cuddle. Sharp words and almost blows had been exchanged in the classrooms, and every cadet had some fault to find with the food served for dinner.

Cuddle not only wants to cut down the amount, but he wants the meats and other things cooked in a peculiar way, said one cadet. I have always been used to a good table and I am not going to stand for it.

Nor will I! cried Stuffer. Our parents pay for good board and that means three square meals a day.

I understand Captain Putnam and Mr. Strong expect to be away for at least ten days, said Henry Lee. I am not going to starve myself for that length of time, even to please Crabtree and Cuddle.





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