The Putnam Hall Rebellionñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“Just what I say!” exclaimed Pepper.
“We are certainly entitled to as good a table as we have been having,” was Jack’s comment.
“Then, if we don’t get it, let’s strike!” cried Andy.
WORDS AND BLOWS
The meeting at the boathouse lasted for nearly an hour, yet no definite conclusion was reached. Some of the boys wanted to wait and see what developed, while others were for taking the most drastic action immediately. At last it was voted to wait, and to leave the matter of what was to be done in the hands of a committee of five, of which Jack was the chairman. The other four members of this committee were Pepper, Dale, Bart Conners and a cadet named Barringer, a youth who had the distinction of being the first cadet enrolled at the Hall, and whose folks were warm personal friends of Captain Putnam.
“I am sure if we act with care and fairness Captain Putnam will uphold us,” said Frank Barringer. “But there must be no rowdyism. If there is I shall withdraw from the committee and from whatever is done.”
“I shall not favor rowdyism,” answered the young major. “But neither shall I allow Crabtree or Cuddle to walk over us.”
“Oh, I agree on that, Major Ruddy. Both of those teachers have been far too dictatorial. But it was a mistake to throw potatoes and bread around the dining room, and it was vile to throw an inkwell at Crabtree,” added Frank Barringer.
During the afternoon Josiah Crabtree drove to Cedarville in Captain Putnam’s coach. When he returned he had with him three men, burly individuals who looked like dock hands – and such they were.
“What are those men going to do here?” asked Andy of his chums.
“I can’t imagine,” answered Pepper. “If they were going to do some work they wouldn’t come at this time of day.”
“Let us see if Peleg Snuggers knows anything about it,” suggested Dale, and he and the others walked down to the barn, where they found the general utility man putting up the team the teacher had used.
“Come to help me, young gents?” asked Snuggers, with a grin.
“Peleg, we want to know what those three men came for?” said Dale.
“Oh!” The general utility man shrugged his shoulders. “Better go an’ ask Mr. Crabtree – he brung ’em.”
“You mustn’t say ‘brung,’ Peleg,” said Pepper. “It’s bad geography. You ought to say bringed or brang.”
“Well, you see, I ain’t never had much schoolin’,” was the reply, as the man scratched his head. “Say,” he went on, with a grin, “you had high jinks this mornin’, didn’t you? I wanted to laff right out, but I didn’t dast.”
“Are those men going to work here, Peleg?” demanded Jack, sternly.
“Why don’t you ask Mr. Crabtree? He brung – no, bringed, no brang ’em.”
“Are they here to keep the peace?” asked Andy, suddenly.
“Mr. Crabtree said as how I wasn’t to say nuthin’ about it,” stammered the general utility man.
“Then he brought them here for that purpose?” demanded Jack.
“Yes – but don’t let on as how I told ye!” whispered Peleg Snuggers.
“He an’ Cuddle got scart, I reckon, and Crabtree said he was goin’ to git some special policemen to keep the peace.”
“Well, if that isn’t the limit!” cried Pepper.
“The next thing you know he’ll be marching the whole school down to the Cedarville lock-up,” came from Dale. “That is – if he can!” he added significantly.
“Now please don’t let on I said a word about it!” pleaded Peleg Snuggers. “If ye do it may cost me my place.”
“We won’t utter a syllable,” answered Jack. “Remember that, fellows,” he added, and the others nodded.
“Crabtree is awful mad,” went on the man of all work. “He an’ that new teacher have got it in for all of ye! Better watch out!”
“We will,” said Pepper; and then he and his chums walked away.
It was now time for the afternoon dress parade, and the cadets had to hurry to get ready. Soon the drum sounded out and the cadets gathered on the campus. Jack got his sword and took command, and put the boys through a drill that would have done any army officer good to behold. Only a few boys, like Ritter, Coulter and Paxton took advantage of the fact that Captain Putnam was absent, and to these the young major and the other officers paid scant attention. Ritter hoped he would be “called down,” so that he might have a chance to answer back, and it made him sour when this opportunity was denied to him.
It was whispered around what the three Cedarville men had been brought for, and loud were the denunciations of Josiah Crabtree in consequence.
“He wants to give Putnam Hall a black eye,” said Stuffer. “If he was a gentleman he would let us settle this matter among ourselves.”
“If those men try to do anything I fancy there will be a pitched battle,” said another.
As was the custom, Jack marched the battalion around the grounds and then into the mess hall, and here all sat down to the tables for supper. They saw the three strange men sitting at a side table, in company with the gymnastic instructor, and near at hand were half a dozen heavy carriage whips.
“Jack, did you notice the men and the whips?” questioned Pepper, in a low, excited voice.
“I did – and I think Crabtree and Cuddle are crazy,” was the equally low response.
“Young gentlemen!” called out Josiah Crabtree, from his place at the head of a table. “This noon we had a most outrageous scene enacted here. Such a scene must not be repeated. We must have order – no matter what the cost.” And he allowed his eyes to wander toward the three strange men and the gymnastic instructor and then to the whips.
No more was said, and the waiters began to bring in the food. There was bread and butter, some very thin slices of cold roast beef, tea, and some exceedingly small pieces of plain cake.
“What a supper!” murmured Pepper. “Does he take us for fairies?”
“I could eat three times as much as this,” said Andy. “Poor Stuffer, this will just about finish him!”
“It’s an outrage!” cried Dale, but in a low tone.
“Mr. Crabtree!” The call came from Stuffer, who had arisen.
“What do you want, Singleton?” snapped the teacher.
“I want more to eat.”
“You have all you are going to have. Sit down, or else leave the room.”
“I am hungry, and – ”
“You boys all eat too much,” interposed Pluxton Cuddle. “Hereafter you are to have what is proper for you and no more.”
“I tell you I am hungry,” insisted Stuffer.
“Sit down, or leave!” cried Josiah Crabtree.
“I want some more too,” put in Andy.
“So do I!” added Henry Lee.
“We are entitled to more,” came from Dave Kearney.
“Our folks pay for it,” said Reff Ritter.
“Will you be quiet,” stormed Josiah Crabtree. “Mr. Cuddle and I know what is best for you.”
“Mr. Crabtree!” called out Jack, getting up. “In the name of this school I demand that you listen to me.”
He spoke in a full, ringing voice that penetrated every corner of the dining hall. Instantly every eye was fastened on the youthful major.
“Ruddy!” gasped the teacher. “How dare you talk to me in this fashion! Sit down! Sit down instantly!”
“Not until I have had my say. Mr. Crabtree, the cadets of this school had a meeting this afternoon, and we resolved to – ”
“Ruddy, sit down and be quiet, or I’ll have you put out!” burst out Josiah Crabtree, purple in the face.
“We resolved that we would not stand this treatment any longer. A committee was formed, of which I have the honor to be chairman. This committee is willing to have a conference with you and Mr. Cuddle, and – ”
Jack got no further, for, wild with rage, Josiah Crabtree had motioned to two of the strange men and these fellows now came forward, each with a whip in his hand.
“Don’t strike Ruddy!” called out Pepper. “If you do, you’ll rue it!” And he caught up a plate from the table.
“Put those whips down!” came from a dozen boys, and on the instant the mess hall was in an uproar. Nearly every cadet armed himself with a plate, cup or saucer.
The strange men who had come close to Jack halted, and then slunk back. They saw that the cadets “meant business” and as a consequence they were afraid to act.
“Boys, keep quiet!” called out Jack, in the midst of the din, and when the tumult had somewhat subsided, he went on: “Mr. Crabtree, do not go too far, or the consequences will be on your own head. We are willing to do what is fair and just. But you must treat us fair and just, too, and we want the same kind of food, and the same quantity, that we had when Captain Putnam was here.”
“I would like to ask one question,” put in Frank Barringer. “Did Captain Putnam authorize anybody to cut down our food?”
“He authorized Mr. Crabtree and myself to manage the school,” snapped Pluxton Cuddle.
“That isn’t answering the question,” said Jack. “Did the captain say anything at all about the food?”
“I am not on the witness stand,” snarled Cuddle.
“We intend to manage this institution as we deem best,” said Josiah Crabtree. “I command every student present to put down the dish he is holding.”
“Then make those men retire and put down the whips,” cried Andy.
“Yes! yes!” was the cry. “Take the men and the whips away!”
Again the tumult arose, and in the midst of the uproar a plate whizzed through the air and struck Pluxton Cuddle on the shoulder, causing him to utter a cry of pain and alarm. Then a saucer landed on Josiah Crabtree’s bosom.
When the first plate was thrown the men with the whips sprang forward, and in a twinkling half a dozen cadets felt the keen lashes. But then came more dishes, and one man was hit on the nose and another on the hand.
“Hi! we can’t stand this!” called one of the men. “We’ll be killed! Come on!” And dodging a sugar bowl, he ran out of a side door, and the other men, including the gymnasium instructor, followed him. Then, shaking his fist at the students, Josiah Crabtree backed out also, and Pluxton Cuddle followed.
“Hurrah! We have vanquished the enemy!” cried Andy.
“Boys, stop that plate throwing!” called out Jack. And then gradually the excitement died down. Only the cadets and the waiters were left in the mess room. The waiters were so scared and perplexed they did not know what to do.
“Let us have some more eating,” exclaimed Stuffer. “We may not get another chance like this in a hurry.” And he gave a waiter an order to fill. Then came more orders, and the waiters went off, grinning from ear to ear, for at heart they sided with the students.
While waiting for more food the cadets talked the situation over from every possible point of view. Many condemned the plate throwing, which had been started by Ritter and Coulter. Yet all were glad that the men with horsewhips had been routed. What to do next was a question nobody was able to answer.
“I know one thing we ought to do,” said Jack. “Telegraph to Captain Putnam to come back at once.”
“That’s it!” cried Dale. “Do it before old Crabtree sends a message. That will show the captain we are not afraid to leave the case to him.”
“We’ll have to get his address first,” said Henry Lee.
“I have it,” answered Frank Barringer, “and I’ll send him a telegram to-night. But I don’t think he’ll be able to get back here inside of several days.”
PRISONERS IN THE DORMITORIES
“Well, one thing is certain,” observed Pepper, as he and half a dozen others left the mess hall. “We are getting into this thing deeper and deeper. I wonder how it is going to end?”
“I doubt if it ends before Captain Putnam gets back,” answered Jack. “Crabtree is just headstrong enough to attempt something even worse than getting men with whips. Maybe he’ll have all of us locked up.”
“Will you stand for being arrested, Jack?” asked Andy.
“Old Crabtree is a fool!” burst out Henry Lee. “I’d give half my spending money to ship him to – to Africa or the North Pole.”
“Say, I’ve got an idea!” burst out Stuffer. “Why not send him a bogus telegram, saying his grandfather or second cousin is dying of brainstorm, or something like that, and ask him to come right on? That might take him away until the captain got back.”
“We might try that,” mused Jack. “But let us see first what happens to-morrow. Maybe by morning Crabtree and Cuddle will cool off – and perhaps the fellows will cool off too.”
What had become of the teachers and the strange men none of the cadets knew, and the absence of all made the boys worry somewhat, although they tried not to show it. They wondered if the teachers had really gone off to summon more help, or make a formal complaint to the authorities. There was very little playing or studying done that evening.
“Might as well go to bed,” said Pepper, when the usual time for retiring was at hand. “I must say, I am dead tired. Such strenuous times are too much for me.”
One by one the cadets went to their various dormitories. A few were inclined to “cut up,” but Jack soon stopped this in every room but that occupied by Reff Ritter and his cronies.
“I want you to be on your good behavior,” said the young major. “Remember, when Captain Putnam gets back I am going to give him a full and true report of what happened.”
“Don’t you dare to say anything to him about inkwells and plates,” growled Ritter. “If you do you’ll get into trouble.”
“I expect every student to confess to just what was done,” answered Jack.
By ten o’clock the majority of the cadets went to bed, and an hour later the Hall was wrapped in stillness. Then, from the barn, there came a number of strange men, Josiah Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle.
“Now make no noise,” cautioned Crabtree. “If you do some of them may wake up and make trouble.”
“We understand,” answered one of the strange men, who appeared to be something of a leader. Then the whole party entered the school building by a back door, and went about carrying out a plan they had arranged.
“Hello!” cried Pepper, as he woke up in the morning and looked at his watch. “Half-past seven! I didn’t hear any bell.”
“Neither did I,” came from Andy, who sat up at the same time. “I fancy it didn’t ring.”
“Everything is going wrong in this school,” put in the young major, as he slipped out of bed and commenced to dress.
“Maybe old Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle, Esquire, have given it up,” suggested Pepper, as he rubbed his eyes and yawned.
Jack was the first to be dressed and Andy quickly followed.
“Let us take a look around and see how the land lays,” suggested the young major.
“I’m with you,” responded the acrobatic youth promptly.
“Beware of traps!” sang out Pepper. “Crabtree may be waiting for you with a club.”
“Or a shotgun,” added Dale, with a grin.
Jack walked to the door and turned the knob. To his surprise the door refused to open. He tried to shake it, but it remained firm.
“What’s the matter?” cried Pepper.
“The door is locked.”
“Yes.” Jack stooped down and looked into the keyhole. “The key is on the outside,” he added.
“Perhaps somebody is playing a trick on us,” suggested Dale.
“Yes – Crabtree and Cuddle,” murmured the young major.
“Let’s try the door to the next room,” suggested Andy.
Several of the dormitories were connected by side doors, and hurried into the next room, Andy tried the door leading to the hall.
“This is locked too!” he said.
“We’re locked in, that is all there is to it!” cried one of the cadets. “The enemy has locked us in while we slept!”
“This must be a new idea for bringing us to terms,” said Stuffer. “Wonder how long Crabtree and Cuddle expect to keep us here?”
“Long enough to make you go without your breakfast, Stuffer,” said Pepper, with a grin. “Not much! I’ll break down the door first!”
“No, you won’t break down no door!” cried a harsh voice from the outer side of the barrier. “If you try it, you’ll get hurt, remember that!”
“Who are you?” demanded Andy, in astonishment.
“I’m a man hired to watch this door, and I am going to do it. Don’t you try no funny work, or you’ll get hurt.”
“Are you one of the fellows who was in the mess hall yesterday?” asked Jack.
“Then you’ve been hired by Mr. Crabtree and Mr. Cuddle?”
“Where are they?”
“That ain’t none of your business,” answered the strange man, roughly.
“It is my business,” returned the young major, warmly. “You send for Mr. Crabtree at once.”
“I ain’t a-going to do it. I was told to stay here and watch these doors. Now you jest keep quiet and mind your own business.”
“Supposing we break down the door?” asked Pepper.
“The first boy who tries it, will get a good licking, and he’ll be tied up in the coal cellar in the bargain.”
“Are you alone?” asked Fred Century.
“Not much I ain’t! There are ten of us here and outside, and we are actin’ under orders from the teachers. They are going to show you that you can’t run this school during Captain Putnam’s absence.”
“I wonder if he is telling the truth?” whispered the young major to his chums. “Ten of them! It doesn’t seem possible!”
“Wait till I take a look out of a window,” said Dale, and ran to the nearest opening. He poked out his head and looked down on the campus. “Well, I declare!” he ejaculated.
“What do you see?” asked several in a chorus.
“Three men down there, and they are armed with clubs and guns!”
“Never!” burst out Jack, and ran forward to take a look himself. Soon every window was crowded with cadets, all gazing down to the ground below. There were three strange men, including one of those who had been in the mess hall the evening previous. As Dale had said, each had a club in one hand and a gun in the other. They walked up and down the side of the building, every once in a while glancing upward.
“This is the limit!” cried Pepper. “Why, you’d think we were prisoners in a penitentiary!”
“Yes, and some of those men were the keepers,” added Andy. “Oh, I say,” he went on, “let us give them something to let them know we are awake.”
“Right you are!” cried Pepper, quick to catch on to a joke. “Everybody hand them a souvenir!”
In a moment more each cadet present in the two rooms had armed himself. One had a cake of soap, another an old pair of shoes, another a pitcher of water, and the rest old books and odds and ends of various kinds.
“Now then, all together!” cried Pepper. “One, two, three!” And down went the miscellaneous collection on the heads of the guards. Yells of pain and wonder arose, for each of the men was struck. Before the guards could recover from the unexpected attack, each cadet withdrew from sight.
“Hi, you! We’ll get square, see if we don’t!” yelled one of the men. “Don’t you attempt to git out o’ them windows or you’ll git shot!”
“Do you think they’d attempt to shoot us?” asked one of the boys, in consternation.
“I don’t know what to think,” answered Jack, and his tone was very grave. He realized that the situation had become a truly serious one.
ANDY SNOW’S DISCOVERY
Leaving the windows, the cadets went back to the doors leading to the hallway. They again called up the man on guard there and asked for Josiah Crabtree.
“We must speak to him,” said Jack. “And if you won’t call him we’ll all rush the doors, break them down, and – well, you know what to expect.”
At first the man wanted to argue again, but presently he became frightened and blew a whistle he carried. Then the cadets heard footsteps approaching.
“What do you want?” came in Josiah Crabtree’s sharp voice.
“They want to talk to you,” answered the guard doggedly. “Said they’d break down the doors if I didn’t call you.”
“They’ll not dare to do it!” cried the teacher.
“Yes, we will dare!” shouted several of the boys who heard the remark.
“Mr. Crabtree, what is the meaning of this?” demanded Jack, in a loud, clear voice.
“It means that I am going to keep you in your rooms until you learn how to behave yourselves,” was the cold answer.
“What about breakfast?”
“You can have something to eat when you come downstairs.”
“Then let us come down now,” put in Stuffer.
“Not a cadet shall leave these rooms until he has apologized to Mr. Cuddle and myself and given his word of honor that he will in the future do precisely as he is told,” said Josiah Crabtree, in the overbearing, dictatorial tone he so often employed in the classroom.
“Apologize!” gasped a number of the cadets.
“That is what I said.”
“I’ll not apologize!” murmured Fred.
“Not in a year of Mondays,” added Dale. “I don’t know that I did anything to apologize for. He and Cuddle started the row.”
“Mr. Crabtree, I demand my breakfast!” cried Stuffer. “I am entitled to it – my folks have paid for it – and I am not going to let you swindle me out of it.”
“Swindle you!” gasped the teacher, in a rage. “Such language! To me! me! Ha! boy, wait till I get my hands on you!”
“Mr. Crabtree, I think you’ll find it best to let us out and give us our breakfast,” continued the young major. “You certainly can’t intend to starve us.”
“We do intend to starve you, until you come to your senses,” said another voice in the hallway. It was Pluxton Cuddle who had come up. “As I have said many times, you eat too much and it has made you saucy, impudent and unreasonable. An empty stomach may bring you to your senses.”
“It may make us desperate,” murmured Stuffer. “I am not going to let anybody starve me!”
During this talk there had been considerable pounding on the doors of various other dormitories. Evidently the great majority of the cadets were held prisoners in their rooms. Now Josiah Crabtree went off to talk at another door, and was followed by the new teacher.ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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