Edward Stratemeyer.

The Putnam Hall Rebellion





Boys, I want you to come to order! called out Jack, to the cadets of the two rooms that adjoined each other.

Going to hand around sandwiches? questioned Stuffer, dolefully. If you are, give me about six!

Pull up your belt, Stuffer, was the answer, with a smile. If you dont get breakfast to-day you may get it to-morrow.

Ill have breakfast to-day or pull down the Hall! said the youth who loved to eat.

The question is, What are we going to do? said Jack, in a loud voice. Mr. Crabtree wants us to apologize and promise to do exactly as we are told in the future. What have you to say to his proposition?

No apologies! was the cry.

No promises to do just whatever he wants, added Dale. He is too unreasonable.

Thats it! said Fred.

Tell him we are willing to return to our lessons and behave ourselves, said Bart Conners. And add that we are willing to leave the question of punishment for what has happened to Captain Putnam.

Thats the talk! said several.

And if he wont give in, sure, we can break down the dures, bedad! came from Emerald. We can have a regular Donnybrook Fair time, so we can!

If possible we ought to keep from further quarrels, said Jack. Let us arbitrate if it can possibly be done.

So it was finally decided, and again Josiah Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle were called to one of the doors of the two rooms. In a calm voice Jack explained to the teachers and pleaded that the whole matter be allowed to rest until Captain Putnams return. He said he would vouch for it that the boys would go back to their studies just as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He added, that he thought it was a disgrace to bring the strange men to the Hall as guards and he asked that they be dismissed.

It was with difficulty that Josiah Crabtree and Pluxton Cuddle could be made to listen. The two instructors had talked the matter over between them, and the unreasonableness of the one was bolstered up by the other. They refused to listen to any argument, and stuck by the proposition Josiah Crabtree had first laid down.

And not a mouthful of food shall any cadet have until he does as we demand, said Crabtree.

And if you try to break out youll do it at your peril, added Pluxton Cuddle. And then the two teachers gave the guards in the hallways some instructions in whispers, and went below again.

It would be hard to define the feelings of the cadets when they were left alone once more. Some wanted to break down the doors at once, while others spoke of climbing out of the windows, using knotted-together bedsheets for that purpose. Still others advised waiting to see what might turn up.

We can all do without our breakfast, said Jack. And we can go without dinner, too, if we have to.

Maybe you can, but I cant, groaned Stuffer.

I think old Crabtree wants us to break down the doors and do as much damage to the building as possible, said Andy.

Then hell be able to prove to Captain Putnam what a lot of ruffians we are.

Maybe you are right, answered Dale. I agree with Jack, let us go slow and see what happens.

I wonder how Reff Ritter and his crowd are taking it, said Henry Lee.

Coulter wont want to go without his breakfast, answered Andy. He is the greatest feeder in the school. He eats even more than Stuffer.

Reff Ritter can eat his share, too, said Bart.

Ritter is responsible for a good deal of this trouble, went on Dave Kearney. He made old Crabtree boiling mad by throwing the inkwell, and he started the throwing of things in the mess room.

It was a dreary wait in the dormitories, and the majority of the boys did not know what to do with themselves. Joe Nelson started to study but soon gave it up. One lad had some dominoes and several cadets played a dozen games or more.

While this was going on Jack walked around the two rooms and looked into the various clothing closets. Presently an idea struck him and he called Andy to his side. The two entered one of the closets, and the acrobatic youth got up on a shelf and pulled loose a board of the ceiling. Then he wormed his way through the opening made.

What is Andy doing? asked Pepper, coming up.

Why, I remembered the board ceiling in this closet, answered Jack. I wondered what was above it. Andy is such a gymnast I sent him up to investigate.

It was so dark beyond the hole that little or nothing could be seen. Andy was gone over quarter of an hour. Then his head appeared and he called softly.

Jack!

Well, have you discovered anything? asked the young major, eagerly.

Have I discovered anything? Well, I just guess yes! was the reply. Ive made the greatest discovery of the century!

What?

Here, take these bags first. I would have brought more, only I couldnt carry them.

And then, to the amazement of the cadets who assembled in the clothing closet and near the doorway, the acrobatic youth passed down four large paper bags, each filled with something to eat. Then he came down himself, closing the opening in the ceiling after him.

Tell us, Jack, where does the hole lead to? asked Dale.

That hole leads to one end of the trunk room, was the answer. The door to the trunk room was unlocked, and from there I passed to a back hallway and down a back stairs to the kitchen and pantry. Fellows, weve got Crabtree and Cuddle beaten a mile! We can get all the grub we want and have our liberty too!

CHAPTER XVIII
ON A FORAGING EXPEDITION

The announcement that Andy made was received with keen interest by all. Every cadet crowded around to get some of the food brought in and to learn the particulars of his foraging and exploring expedition.

Getting down the back stairs was easy, said the acrobatic youth. But once I was in the lower entryway I had to keep my eyes open, to escape the cook and the waiters. I found the bags on a hook behind the door and I got the grub from the pantry when nobody was near. I was careful what I took, for I didnt want anybody to discover what had been done. I may want to go back for dinner, you know, and Andy grinned broadly.

Andy, you have saved my life! cried Stuffer, with his mouth full of bread and cheese. I shall remember you in my will.

Leave some for me, was the reply. I am just as hungry as anybody. All I had in the pantry was one cold sausage and a cracker.

Here, well divide the stuff equally, said Jack, and this was done. Fortunately the paper bags held quite some food, so there was more than enough for all.

Its a pity we cant get some of this stuff to the fellows in the next dormitory, said Pepper. I suppose they are as hungry as we are.

Ive got an idea! cried Dale. Put all your contributions for the next room into this bag, and he held up the receptacle as he spoke.

How are you going to get it to them? questioned Henry Lee.

I have a brand new, patented and copyrighted way, went on Dale. Just fork over, everybody, for the benefit of the heathens in Hungry Land.

The bag was soon filled with bread, cheese, crackers and chipped beef, and then Dale tied it fast to the end of a hockey stick. This done, he went to one of the windows and looked out cautiously. Not one of the guards below was looking up. He shoved the bag outside and swung it to the left as far as possible directly in front of another window.

Hello, whats this? a voice cried, and then the bag was caught and taken in. Then the head of a cadet appeared. Much obliged, he said to Dale. Just what we were wishing for. How did you get it?

Thats a secret, answered Dale. Maybe, if you keep mum, there will be more coming later. Are you fellows going to give in? went on the cadet from the next dormitory.

Never!

Just what weve decided. Weve got a plan.

Whats that?

If we are kept here until to-night we are going to run away.

Perhaps well be with you, answered Dale, and then, as a guard looked up, he drew in his head.

Thats a great idea, Dale, said Jack. By means of the windows we can communicate with every dormitory on this side of the building. Queer we didnt think of it before.

We were too much upset by the talk with Cuddle and Crabtree, answered Stuffer.

Let us pass along some notes and see how the different rooms feel over this affair, continued the young major.

Soon the notes were written, each having on it the number of the dormitory for which it was intended. Then the communications were pinned to the hockey stick, and by this means passed from one room window to the next. Thus five rooms were reached, and soon notes began to come back.

We are certainly of one mind, said Jack, after the various communications had been read. Everybody says, No surrender! Thats plain enough.

Barringers room is giving out apples, said Bart. Thats not so bad. I shouldnt mind an apple myself.

They are all waiting for food, and I suppose it is up to us to supply them with some, continued Jack. I have half a mind to go down myself and look around.

Ill go with you, put in Pepper. I am tired of being boxed in here.

Well, be careful, or youll give the snap away, cautioned Andy. Some of the steps of the back stairs squeak terribly. I left my shoes in the trunk room when I went down.

Well leave them here, answered The Imp, and took off the footwear then and there, and Jack did likewise.

It was no easy thing to climb through the ceiling opening into the trunk room, and once above they had to feel their way through the darkness to the door. Pepper stubbed his toe on a trunk and drew a sharp breath of pain.

Hurt? whispered Jack.

No, but I put an awful dent in the trunk, was the joking reply. Let us get a candle when we go down. I hate this darkness.

With bated breath the two cadets walked out into the deserted hall and then down the back stairs. Once they heard somebody close at hand slam a door and their hearts leaped into their throats.

If anybody sees us, run like mad for the trunk room and fasten the door somehow, said Jack. We dont want a soul to know what we are up to. If we can get food we can stand Cuddle and Crabtree off indefinitely.

At last the boys reached the back entryway, and through a crack of the door peered into the kitchen. Nobody was present, and the big pantry was also deserted, and so was the mess hall.

Weve got it all to ourselves! whispered Pepper joyfully. Jack, this is a cinch, a picnic! Let us take up all the food we can carry!

Here is just what we want, replied the major, and took from a hook two big waiters aprons. We can bundle up a lot of stuff in these.

And here are two fresh tins of crackers, ten pounds in each tin. We must take these by all means and that fresh chunk of cheese!

You take what you can carry to the trunk room, answered Jack. Ill hunt up something a little more appetizing.

While Pepper was on his errand the young major made a careful survey of the pantry, and into a wooden box he found there placed a freshly-boiled ham, some cold roast beef, several loaves of bread, some butter, three bottles of pickles, some cans of sardines and some bottles of milk. Then, from a barrel, he filled a wash basin with apples.

This will do for the present, Im thinking, he said, as he surveyed the stuff. Now for a candle and some matches, and he procured them.

He carried the wooden box on his shoulder and Pepper came down and got the apples, and also two loaf cakes which had been baked the day before, and some knives, forks and several glasses and tin plates.

Youd think we were getting ready for the annual encampment, said The Imp, while he and Jack were on the way upstairs with the last of the things.

Listen! exclaimed the young major, suddenly. Somebody is coming!

Its the cook! gasped Pepper, as he caught sight of a well-known figure coming along the upper hallway. Jack, what shall we do?

I I dont know! Well have to run past her, I guess.

We cant do it the hall is too narrow.

The cook came closer, and the two cadets turned back and tried to crouch out of sight in a doorway. The boys hearts were, figuratively speaking, in their throats.

But just as the cook was almost on them she paused and turned back.

Oh dear, I meant to bring that clean apron down! the cadets heard her murmur, and then she passed out of sight.

What a lucky escape, gasped Pepper.

Dont stop any longer get up to the trunk room before it is too late, urged his chum, and together they sped on as if a ghost was at their heels. Having arrived there they shut the door and pulled a trunk in front of it, first, however, lighting the candle, that they might not break anything.

It took some time to transfer all the food to the dormitory below. The quantity made all the boys smile, and Stuffers eyes fairly glistened.

This is the best yet, said the youth who loved to eat. Say, isnt it most dinner time?

I wish Bob Grenwood was in this room, said Jack. Id appoint him quartermaster once more to divide the rations.

Make me quartermaster, pleaded Stuffer.

Hell be sure to look out for No. 1! said Fred, with a laugh.

This food is to be divided among all the rooms we can reach, said Jack. And it is to be a fair division, too.

The division then commenced, and for the best part of an hour the cadets were busy, passing stuff from one window to another. They had to do this with care, so that none of the guards on the campus might discover what was going on.

And now for dinner! cried Pepper, as he looked at his watch and saw that it was twelve oclock. Boys, I think we can all be truly thankful for the good things provided.

So we can, answered Dale.

At that moment there sounded footsteps in the hallway and then came a knock on the door.

CHAPTER XIX
WHAT HAPPENED TO JACK RUDDY

Boys, get the eating out of sight somebody may want to come in! cried Jack, in a low voice. And in a few seconds the food was placed in a closet and covered with papers and books.

I want to talk to you! called the voice of Josiah Crabtree.

What do you want, Mr. Crabtree? demanded the young major.

It is now twelve oclock, went on the teacher. Dinner will be served in a few minutes. Are you ready to do as I wish?

You mean for us to apologize? asked Pepper.

Yes, and to promise to do as ordered in the future.

We wont apologize, answered several, in unison.

Dont you want your dinner? demanded the teacher, in a somewhat crestfallen tone of voice.

This is not a question of dinner it is a question of principle, Mr. Crabtree, answered Jack.

Exactly but you must be hungry.

We are, and this was true, for nobody had as yet started to eat.

There is no use of your being stubborn, continued Josiah Crabtree.

We are not stubborn.

Yes, you are!

You are the one who is stubborn, put in Dale. You and Mr. Cuddle think you are right but we are about thirty or thirty-five to two.

Bah! you are only boys and do not realize what you are doing.

We are going to leave this matter to Captain Putnam.

Then you dont want any dinner, eh? Josiah Crabtree felt certain that the cadets must be very hungry.

Not on your terms, answered Jack.

Do you all say that? called out the teacher.

Yes! came in a chorus.

Very well, you can go hungry a while longer! cried Crabtree in a rage, and stalked off to interview the boys in some of the other rooms. One and all refused to surrender, as they expressed it. Then Josiah Crabtree went below to the office, where he met Pluxton Cuddle.

They are as yet not hungry enough, said Cuddle, after listening to the other teachers story. Wait until the middle of the afternoon, or supper time. Ill warrant they will then be glad enough to do anything we wish.

Let us hope so, answered Josiah Crabtree, and then he and Cuddle talked the matter over from beginning to end, and fixed up the story they should tell Captain Putnam when he returned. According to their idea the cadets were to blame for everything and had assaulted them most outrageously. Crabtree had already interviewed one of the men hired by him at Cedarville and this fellow was ready to corroborate any tale the instructors might put forth.

The teachers had just about finished their talk when they heard a hurried knock on the door of the office and one of the waiters appeared.

The cook and the head waiter would like you to come to the kitchen at once, please! cried the colored man.

What for? demanded Josiah Crabtree.

A lot of the eating has been stolen, sah!

Stolen! screamed Pluxton Cuddle.

Yes, sah. They jess found it out, sah, and they sent me to tell you, sah.

This is er extraordinary!

Its those confounded boys! roared Josiah Crabtree. They must have gotten to the kitchen somehow and taken the things.

But the guards you forget the guards, returned Pluxton Cuddle.

Perhaps one of them was bribed and perhaps a waiter was bribed too, said Crabtree with something like a groan. Oh, I know no longer whom to trust here!

Both of the teachers followed the waiter to the kitchen. Here they found the cook and several others talking excitedly. Nobody could tell exactly what had been taken, but the cook was certain it was considerable.

They have outwitted us! moaned Pluxton Cuddle. Now they will stuff themselves and be more ugly than ever!

I am going to find out if they are in league with anybody outside, said Josiah Crabtree, and started without delay to interview all the hired help around the Hall and also the men from Cedarville. Each and every person, of course, declared he or she knew absolutely nothing of the missing food and had had no communication whatever with the cadets.

We are following your ordars, sah, declared the head waiter. Right or wrong, we are following em.

Dont you think I am in the right? demanded Josiah Crabtree, sourly.

At this the colored man shrugged his shoulders.

That is fo Capn Putnam to say, sah.

Ha! then you side with the boys, eh?

I aint sidin at all, sah. I obeys orders, thats all, sah.

Humph! growled the teacher and walked off, followed by Pluxton Cuddle. Then the teachers held another conference.

In the meantime the imprisoned cadets ate what they had for dinner with keen satisfaction, and then put away the rest of the food for future use.

They had hardly finished when they heard footsteps in the hallway and heard somebody talk to the guard.

There is Peleg Snuggers, said Pepper. Wonder what he wants?

I say, in there! called out the man of all work, pounding on the door with his fist.

Hello, Peleg! Whats this, a bombardment? asked Jack, pleasantly.

No, it aint no bombardment, answered the man. I want to talk to Major Ruddy.

Youre talking to him now, Peleg, my son.

You are to come down to the office to onct, went on the general utility man.

Who wants me? asked the young major, in considerable astonishment.

Mr. Crabtree. He wants to talk to you.

Does he want anybody else? asked Pepper.

No, only Ruddy.

Jack, look out, whispered Dale. This may be some trick.

I dont think Id go, came from Bart. There is no telling what those teachers may be up to.

I am not afraid of them, answered the young major bravely. Perhaps they want to compromise.

Are ye comin or not? demanded Peleg Snuggers, impatiently.

I cant come unless the door is unlocked.

Ill unlock it. But, remember, nobody but Ruddy is to come out, went on the man of all work.

With great caution the door was unfastened by Peleg Snuggers and the guard, and Jack was allowed to pass into the hallway. Then the door was fastened as before.

I say, Jack! called out Pepper. If everything is O. K. well look for you back inside of an hour.

Very well, answered the young major.

He was accompanied downstairs by Peleg Snuggers. Several times the general utility man seemed to be on the point of speaking, but he did not say a word until the door of the office was gained.

Take care o yourself! he whispered hoarsely. Sorry I cant do nuthin for ye! And then he opened the door and allowed Jack to enter.

The young major found Josiah Crabtree seated at Captain Putnams desk. The teacher had a slip of paper in his hand.

Major Ruddy, I wish you would read that, he said, shortly.

Wondering what the paper would contain, Jack took it and started to read. As he did so he was attacked from behind and a rope was quickly passed from one wrist to another. In the meantime a folded towel was held over his mouth, so that he might not cry out. Although he struggled he was no match for Pluxton Cuddle and the guards, and in a very few minutes he was a helpless prisoner. A loose gag was placed in his mouth, so that to call out was impossible.

I am very sorry to have to treat you in this fashion, said Josiah Crabtree, with a wicked gleam of triumph in his eyes. But your conduct, and the conduct of your associates, has rendered it necessary. I trust by to-morrow you will be in a proper frame of mind to come to terms. Mr. Cuddle, you may have him taken away.





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