"Hello! Codfish has been fishing," cried Andy gaily.
"Maybe he got that from the cook's pantry, too," broke in Randy.
"What's the dear creature's name, Codfish?" questioned Fred.
"You haven't got to let go of him if you don't want to, you know," came from Jack.
All this while the sneak of the school was dancing around the room, doing his best to shake off the snapping turtle. But the creature, though small, had a hold that was very tenacious, and refused to budge.
"Say, he won't be seriously bitten, will he?" questioned Spouter, in a low tone.
"No, it's only a baby snapping turtle," answered Andy slowly. "Codfish is far more scared than hurt."
The sneak of the school was so frightened that he did not dare to take hold of the snapping turtle. He held the creature out at arm's length and continued to dance around, asking the others to take it off.
"He'll eat my finger!"
"Put it in some water and it will let go quick enough," suggested Fred presently.
"Yes, give him a chance to swim around in a bathtub," added Randy quickly, when he saw Stowell make a move toward the washbowl in one corner of the room. "That isn't big enough for a good healthy turtle."
"Oh, oh! I'll have the law on you for this!" yelled the sneak, and then bolted for the door and ran down the corridor in the direction of the nearest bathroom.
As it happened, at that moment Job Plunger, the school janitor, was coming along the corridor carrying an armful of old magazines which he had been ordered to store away in the attic. As my old readers know, Plunger, who had been nicknamed "Shout," was quite deaf, and with eyes in another direction he did not see Codfish coming. The two collided violently, and the janitor was sent over backward, scattering the magazines in all directions, while Codfish came down on top of him.
"Hi you! what you mean by knockin' me down that way?" shrilled the janitor, when he could regain his breath.
"I—I didn't mean to do it," stammered the sneak, as he arose to his feet. "I was in a hurry."
"You ain't got no right to race through these halls like a crazy horse," went on Plunger. "I ought to report you."
"I told you I was in a hurry," explained Codfish.
"Worry?" queried Plunger, not hearing aright. "Ain't I got a right to worry if a feller like you sends me sprawlin'?"
"I didn't say worry—I said I was in a hurry. A snapping turtle had me by the finger, and I wanted to get rid of it."
"Rappin'! Well, you ain't goin' to rap me. I'll let you know that!" growled the deaf janitor.
"I said snapping—not rapping—a snapping turtle!" Codfish put his mouth close to the janitor's ear. "A snapping turtle!"
"What's that? No, I ain't got no snappin' turtle. What would I be doin' with a snappin' turtle?" queried Plunger blankly.
"I said I had one here—on my thumb!" cried Codfish. "It's gone now. I guess my fall knocked it off," and he looked around in the rather dim corridor to see what had become of the turtle, but without locating the creature.
"I'm off, am I?" snarled Plunger, who had been asked that day to do a large amount of extra work by the cadets, and was consequently in no good humor. "I ain't half as much off as you are, you young rascal!" He grabbed Codfish by the arm. "You jest pick up them magazines and put 'em in my arms ag'in, or I'll report you."
At this the sneak muttered something under his breath. But he was afraid of the deaf janitor, and so he began to pick up the various magazines that had been scattered around and piled them high in Plunger's arms. While he was doing this, he continued to look around for the snapping turtle, but the little creature had disappeared.
"Now you be careful after this," said Plunger, when the task of gathering up the scattered magazines had been completed. "After this when you want to run through the halls, you walk!" And then he continued on his way.
The Rovers and their chums had witnessed the scene in the corridor, but as soon as Stowell turned to come back to his room they ran off and down a side stairs, carrying the packing cases with them.
"Say, but that was rich—the way he thumped into Shout," was Andy's comment.
"Yes, and the way Shout took him up for what he said," returned Randy. "Gosh! it seems to me as if poor old Shout is getting deafer every day."
"I wonder what became of the snapping turtle," said Fred.
"If they fell on it, they must have crushed the poor creature," returned Jack.
The boxes were soon placed on the various bonfires, and then the boys mingled with the other students in having a good time generally. The cadets sang songs and danced around the fires, and then organized an impromptu parade up and down the river front and around the Hall.
"How about that little feast we were going to have before we went to bed?" questioned Randy presently.
"Just what I was thinking about," answered Fred. "I'd like to have it first rate; but where are we going to get the eats?"
"Perhaps we can get something from the Hall pantry," suggested Jack.
"Nothing doing in that direction," came from Ned Lowe, who was present.
"What makes you say that?" questioned Spouter.
"Bart White and I tried it a little while ago, and everything is locked up as tight as a drum. I guess the head cook and the head waiter got on to the fact that we might make a raid."
"Then there is only one other thing to do," said Randy quickly. "And that is to go down to town for something."
"That would be easy enough, especially if we could get some one on the road to give us a lift," said Jack.
The Rovers and their chums talked the matter over for several minutes, and then it was decided that Jack, Fred, Spouter, and Gif would pay a hurried visit to Haven Point, bringing back with them such good things as they could pick up quickly in the stores and carry back. A cap was passed around, and eight dollars was collected for the proposed feast. The cadets who had been selected as a committee lost no time in leaving the school grounds, and then hurried off down the road leading to the town.
"Let's watch our chance for a ride," said Jack. "We don't want to waste any time on this trip."
He had scarcely spoken when they heard the rumble of a truck approaching. It was a motor truck belonging to a dairy company doing business in Haven Point and other towns around the lake.
"Hello there! Give us a ride into town, will you?" questioned Fred of the driver, as the truck came to a halt at their signal.
"Sure! Climb on board," said the good-natured driver. He had only a small load and was glad of their company, feeling sure that they would treat him well for the accommodation.
By means of the truck it did not take the cadets long to reach the town, and there they left the driver, Jack tossing him a quarter for his kindness. Then the lads hurried to such of the stores as were still open.
They had already made up their minds as to what they wanted if the things could be obtained. At a delicatessen store they purchased a pasteboard box lined with waxed paper and filled with chicken salad, and also some ham and tongue sandwiches. Then they rushed into a bakeshop, the proprietor of which was just closing, and purchased several layer cakes and also a generous supply of ginger snaps. Then they hurried to a confectionery, and there obtained some bottled soda water and ginger ale, and likewise several quarts of ice-cream.
"Now I guess we're pretty well fixed for a little spread," declared Jack, when they were once more on the street, each loaded with several bundles.
"I hope we can get a ride back to the school," said Fred. "These bundles are pretty heavy."
"I've got an idea," said Andy. "See that automobile yonder? Well, that belongs to the man who owns the moving-picture theater. There he is in front of his place. I wonder if he wouldn't let his chauffeur run us down to the Hall? He knows all the boys at the Hall are pretty good customers at his show place."
"It wouldn't do any harm to ask him, Andy," answered his cousin.
The crowd crossed the street and was soon interviewing the owner of the moving-picture theater. He had seen the boys there a number of times, and remembered them, and was keenly alive to anything that might aid his business.
"Sure, my man can run you down to the school," he said readily. "Here he is now." He turned to his colored chauffeur. "Joe, take these young gentlemen to Colby Hall and then come back here just as soon as you can."
The run to Colby Hall in the automobile took but a few minutes, and the driver very condescendingly agreed to take them around to the rear entrance of the building. The cadets paid him for his trip, and then lost no time in sneaking what they had bought up a back stairway and into the rooms occupied by the Rovers.
By this time the celebration over the defeat of Hixley High had about come to an end. The cadets were disappearing in all directions, some going to their rooms and others to the library of the school, a large room which was often used as a general meeting place.
Word had been passed around to a number of others, so that a crowd of about a dozen assembled in the Rovers' rooms to take part in the feast.
"I'll tell you one thing we ought to do," said Randy. "We ought to square ourselves somehow with Codfish. Otherwise he may be just mean enough to give us away."
"I guess I can fix it for you," said Ned Lowe, who in the past had been a bit more friendly with the sneak than any of the others present. "Just give me a plate of ice-cream and a piece of cake, and I'll go and smooth it over with the little sneak."
"Go ahead and do it, by all means, Ned," answered Andy quickly. "I don't begrudge the little sneak a bit of something good. It will make him forget how his thumb hurts."
Ned soon departed with the ice-cream and cake, and then the others passed around the food which had been provided. They had brought along some paper dishes and paper drinking cups, and likewise a few tin spoons, and the boys made themselves comfortable on various chairs and on the beds.
"It's all right," said Ned, when he returned. "Codfish was sitting by the window in his room wondering what he was going to do. He was suspicious at first, thinking there was some trick about the ice-cream or the cake, but when he found it was all right he felt better, and he has promised to keep quiet. But just the same, we'll have to keep quiet ourselves in here, or we'll get into trouble. I just heard the professors going around giving orders that the celebration was now over and everybody would have to turn in."
With such healthy appetites as all of the cadets possessed, the good things to eat and drink disappeared as if by magic. Some of the boys wanted to sing, but this had to be tabooed. Spouter, however, was called on to make a little speech, much to his delight.
"It's a grand occasion," he began. "A grand and glorious occasion, and one which will live long in the memory of those attending this school. In years to come we can point with great pride to our baseball association and how, in spite of the fact that our opponents possessed a pitcher whose renown had traveled for many miles, and an outfield which was classed as second to none in this district, yet our invincible heroes——"
"Hurrah! Hurrah! That's the stuff, Spouter!" interrupted Andy.
"Did you say invisible heroes?" queried Randy.
"I did not," snorted Spouter. "I said our invincible heroes. And as I was about to further remark, our invincible heroes covered themselves with a glory which will ever remain as a bright guiding star to this glorious school, and when in days to come——"
"How do you know the days are to come?" questioned Andy. "Maybe the days will go."
"Stop your interrupting!" cried the young speechmaker. "And in the days to come——" he repeated, "and in the days to come—er—we shall, in the days to come——"
"Great Caesar, Spouter! how long are those days coming?" queried Randy.
"Say, how can a fellow make a speech if you're going to interrupt him all the time?" cried Spouter. "If you want to listen to what I've got to say——"
At this moment came another interruption, but not from any of the others present. There was a loud knock on the door, something which brought all of the cadets to their feet in alarm.
A TELEGRAM FROM HOME
"I'll bet it's one of the professors!" whispered Fred.
"Just our confounded luck!" grumbled Andy.
"And when we were having such a dandy time!" added his twin.
"Say, you fellows get that stuff out of sight, and be quick about it!" commanded Jack in a low tone of voice. "Take everything into the other rooms."
With alacrity the cadets removed all traces of the spread, placing the empty soda-water bottles and ginger-ale bottles and other things in a closet and in the adjoining rooms.
"Now you outside fellows get into the other rooms, and hide in the closets if necessary," said Jack. "I'll stay here with my cousins."
The knock on the door had been repeated several times, and Jack had answered in a sleepy voice that he was coming. Then, when all was ready, he threw the door open—to find himself confronted, not by one of the professors, as he had expected, but by Bob Nixon, a fellow who was employed as a chauffeur and a general man of all work around the school.
"You must sleep pretty sound," announced Nixon good-naturedly. "I thought I'd have to knock the door down to make you hear."
"I told you I was coming, Nixon," answered Jack. "What do you want?"
"Got a telegram for you," answered the man curtly. "Professor Brice asked me to bring it up to you. Say, you fellows certainly did trim up Hixley High to-day, didn't you?" the chauffeur went on, grinning.
"You're right we did!" answered Jack. He was immensely relieved to think it was not one of the professors come to spoil their feast. "Where is the telegram?"
"Here you are," and Nixon held it forth.
"No; it's a prepaid telegram. It was delivered with another one for Colonel Colby. He signed for it, thinking you might be asleep. I hope you haven't got any bad news."
"I hope so myself," answered Jack. His heart had given a little jump on first receiving the news, thinking that possibly something had happened at home. He lost no time in opening the envelope, and while he did this Fred and the twins crowded around him.
The telegram was from Jack's father, and read as follows:
"Your Uncle Sam and I have volunteered for the army. We have both received commissions. Tell Fred of this and break the news gently to Mary and Martha. Uncle Tom will manage business and remain head of Liberty Loan Committee. Colonel Colby will tell you more.
"What is it?" queried Fred.
"It's great news, Fred; especially for you and for me," answered Jack, whose eyes had traveled swiftly over the telegram.
Then he read the message aloud. Bob Nixon had retired, and Randy had closed the door after him.
"Well, what do you know about that!" ejaculated Fred. "My father in the army! Good for him!"
"And to think my father is going, too!" remarked the oldest of the Rover boys. "And he also has a commission." He looked at Andy and Randy and wanted to go on, but somehow could not.
"And they are going to make our father remain at home and take care of the business," remarked Randy soberly. "That's what I call tough luck!"
"It sure is!" declared his twin emphatically. "I'll wager he wanted to go to the front just as much as anybody."
"Why, of course he did," answered Jack readily.
"Uncle Tom is just as brave as anybody! We all know that!" burst out Fred. "It was only that somebody had to stay in New York and take care of The Rover Company."
"Of course our dad was never as much of a soldier as your fathers," continued Randy. "He never became an officer at Putnam Hall. Just the same, I'll wager he'd like to have a chance to put one over on the Huns."
By this time the other cadets had come from their various hiding places and were listening with much interest to what was being said.
"It certainly is great news!" declared Gif Garrison. "I wonder if my dad will want to go, too?" He knew that his parent and the older Rovers had been great chums.
"They leave us to break the news to Mary and Martha," said Fred. "That isn't going to be a very nice job. I'm afraid the poor girls will be all broke up."
"I can't see it that way," answered Jack. "They ought to feel proud to think our fathers are brave enough to volunteer."
"The telegram says that Colonel Colby will tell you more about this," said Randy. "Why don't you go over and interview him?"
"Maybe he has gone to bed," suggested Spouter.
"I don't think so—not if he was up to receive that telegram Nixon mentioned," said Jack. "Anyhow, I'm going down and find out. Do you want to come along, Fred?"
"Sure!" was the instant response.
"Find out if the colonel knows anything about my father," said Randy. And then he added to his brother: "We can stay here and get rid of the remains of this feast."
"All right," was Andy's answer. And then he added in a low tone. "Just the same, I can't understand why dad didn't volunteer along with Uncle Dick and Uncle Sam," and his face wore anything but a pleasant expression.
Leaving the others to dispose of what remained of the feast as they saw fit, Jack and Fred brushed up a bit, and then lost no time in hurrying downstairs and to the main entrance of Colby Hall. Here they found a night watchman on guard.
"You can't go out this time of night," said the watchman, following orders.
"We have just received this telegram," answered Jack, showing the yellow slip; "and we must confer with Colonel Colby at once. The telegram states that he can give us some information we want."
"Oh, all right, if that's the case," said the watchman, and allowed them to pass.
As stated before, the colonel and his family, along with a number of the professors, lived in a building some distance away from the Hall proper. Crossing the campus, the boys noted a light in the colonel's library, and presented themselves at the door of this place, and knocked.
"Come in," called out Colonel Colby.
They found the head of Colby Hall seated at his desk, looking over a number of private papers and accounts. He looked up questioningly, and then smiled as he recognized his visitors.
"Got your news from home, I suppose," he said, after motioning them to seats. "I knew it was coming."
"It's great news, Colonel Colby!" cried Jack, his eyes shining. "Here is the telegram. You see it says you will give us more information. Of course, both Fred and I are curious to know all the particulars."
"I'll be glad to tell you all I can, boys," answered Colonel Colby. "And first of all let me say that I have also volunteered, and I, too, have been commissioned."
"Isn't that fine!" exclaimed Fred. "Are you going with our fathers?"
"Yes. And I may as well tell you a little secret. Quite a crowd of us, all former pupils of Putnam Hall, have volunteered, and we hope to go into the war together."
"May I ask what sort of commission my father obtained?" questioned Jack.
"He has been made a captain and your Uncle Sam has been made a lieutenant."
"A lieutenant!" said Fred. "Well, that's something anyhow!"
"And what about you, if I may ask?" continued Jack.
"I, too, have been made a captain."
"Who of the others of the Old Guard are going?" asked Fred.
"Oh, there are quite a number, including Harry Blossom, Bart Conners, Dave Kearney, and Hans Mueller."
"For gracious sake! you don't mean that Hans Mueller is going?" queried Jack. He had often heard of this German-American who had been a school chum of his father. Mueller had never learned to use the English language correctly, and had been intensely German in many of his ways.
"Yes, Hans Mueller has volunteered," answered Colonel Colby. "But he is going into the heavy artillery, so I'm afraid your fathers and I won't see very much of him. In spite of his German blood, Hans Mueller is very patriotic, and that counts for a good deal."
"I should say it did!" said Fred.
"And what about Mr. Powell and Mr. Garrison?" questioned Jack.
"We have been corresponding with those two gentlemen, but up to to-day have not heard what they have decided to do. We are hoping that they will go with us if they can leave their business. And that puts me in mind. You will probably want to know about your Uncle Tom, and I presume the twins would like to know, too."
"Well, when the question of going to the front came up, your Uncle Tom was just as eager to go as anybody, even though he was never an officer during his days at Putnam Hall Military Academy. But it was realized that some one must remain behind to take charge of The Rover Company. More than this, your Uncle Tom is at the head of one of the most important committees connected with the sale of Liberty Bonds, and he is also at the head of one of the Red Cross committees, and doing splendid work in both positions. The matter was talked over a number of times, and finally, much, however, against his will, he consented to withdraw in favor of your fathers. It is understood that he is not only to look after the business, but that he will likewise look after all of you young folks, including your sisters."
"And how soon do all of you expect to leave, if I may ask?" questioned Jack.
"That will depend somewhat on circumstances. As soon as I receive any word, I'll let you know. In the meanwhile, however, you may get some word from home."
The two cadets continued to talk the matter over with Colonel Colby for several minutes longer, and then, realizing that he was a very busy man, they withdrew and hurried back to their own rooms.
"Now tell us all about it," said Andy. All of the outsiders except Spouter and Gif had gone to their own quarters.
"Tell it straight," said Randy.
Sitting down, Jack and Fred did so, the others listening closely to every word that was said. As they proceeded the twins showed their satisfaction over the news.
"I knew dad would want to go just as much as anybody," declared Randy.
"So did I," added his twin. "As it is, I guess he'll have as much to do as anybody."
"He'll certainly have his hands full, running The Rover Company and being on those two committees, as well as looking after all of us young folks."
"Just as if we couldn't look after ourselves!" exclaimed Fred.
"Oh, well, you know what I mean!"
"This gets me!" said Spouter. "I'd like to know what my father is going to do. If he is going into the army, I'd like to know it."
"And I'd like to know what my father is going to do, too," said Gif. "I don't believe he cares much for military matters, but just the same, he is intensely patriotic, and I know he would like to get a chance at those Boches."
"I suppose we'll get more news in a day or two," said Jack. "This telegram was sent more to break the ice than anything else. It puts it up to us to let Mary and Martha know," and he looked at Fred as he spoke.
"We'll go over to-morrow and see them," was Fred's reply. "I don't think I care to telephone news like this. No, we'll take them off by themselves and let them know."
A little later Spouter and Gif retired. The four Rover boys sat up for fully an hour longer, discussing the subject from every possible point of view. To Jack and Fred the entrance of their fathers into the army of the United States meant a great deal. The great war was on in all its fury, and they knew that sooner or later their fathers would be sent to France to face the enemy.
"It's all well enough to talk about going to the front and covering oneself with glory," was the way Fred expressed himself. "But some of those who go to the front never come back."
"That is true, Fred," answered Jack soberly. "But a good citizen has got to be ready to do his duty, no matter what the cost."
"Oh, I know that! Just the same, this going to the front is a serious business. Even if a person isn't killed, he may come back minus an arm or a leg, or something like that."
"Well, don't you go to talking like that to Mary and Martha."
"I don't intend to. Just the same, what I said is true."
"I know it."
ON THE WAY HOME
"Oh, Jack, you don't mean it! Father and Uncle Sam have really volunteered for the war!"
It was Martha Rover who spoke. She and her brother were seated in a small summerhouse attached to Clearwater Hall. Not far away sat Mary and Fred.
"It's the truth, Martha," answered Jack; "and here is the telegram that was sent. We at once went to Colonel Colby and got some particulars."
"But he may be shot down and killed!" and Martha's face grew white as she spoke.
"That's a chance every soldier takes when he goes to the front, Martha. But let us hope that dad will escape—and let us hope that Uncle Sam will escape, too."
Jack and Fred had come over early in the morning and had asked permission of Miss Garwood to see the girls on an important errand. They had left the school building under the curious eyes of Ruth and a number of their other chums.
"Well, in one way, I'm glad of this," declared Mary, her pride showing in her face. "It's exactly what I thought dad would do the minute we got into the war. I knew he wouldn't want to be thought a slacker."
"But, Mary! suppose they got killed—or even wounded?" murmured Martha.
"Martha Rover! do you want your father to hang back when he thinks it's his duty to go to the front?" demanded Mary, her eyes snapping questioningly.
"No, no!" answered her cousin quickly. "I know it's the right thing to do. Just the same, it worries me a great deal; and I know it will worry mamma, too."
"You mustn't say anything about being a slacker," admonished Jack. "If it should get to the ears of Uncle Tom, it might make him feel very bad."
"Oh, I don't put Uncle Tom down as a slacker," returned Mary quickly. "I think he is making a great sacrifice, by staying behind to keep the business together, and to serve on that Loan Committee and the Red Cross Committee."
The young folks talked it over for some time, and decided to wait until they got further word from home. Then the two girls went back into the school to tell Miss Garwood and their chums the news, while the boys hurried to Colby Hall, arriving there during the morning recess.
"Say, but we've had some fun since you went away!" cried Andy gaily, when they appeared. "Pud Hicks, the janitor's assistant, got the surprise of his life."
"How is that?" questioned Fred.
"Why, Pud was using a vacuum cleaner in the upper hall when he saw something in a dark corner that he couldn't quite make out. The thing got stuck in the cleaner, and he put down his hand to see what it was. The next minute he let out a yell like a wild Indian and came flying down the corridor, scared stiff."
"What was it—the snapping turtle?" asked Jack.
"You've struck it. The turtle must have crawled into the corner, and when he felt Pud's hand on him he took a good solid hold on Pud's little finger.
"I had just gone upstairs to get a book when I saw Pud tearing around. Half a dozen fellows were there, and the way Pud cut up was like a circus. Shout Plunger came tearing upstairs to find out what it was all about, and Pud gave the snapping turtle a sling, and it hit Shout right in the face and then fell down inside his coat. Shout put his hand inside to find out what it was, he being too deaf to hear the talk about a snapping turtle, and then the turtle got busy and got Shout by the hand. Then there was more fun!"
"What did they do with the turtle at last?" questioned Jack.
"Oh, Shout wouldn't take any chances," answered Andy. "He put the turtle down on the floor and smashed it with his heel; and then, of course, the fun was all over."
"Did they find out how the turtle came to be there?" questioned Fred.
"No, they didn't. Codfish came along, and he started to say something, but I put up my fist and motioned to him, and then he shut up like a clam."
"He'll give you away sooner or later, Andy," remarked Jack.
"If he does, he'll pay for it," retorted the fun-loving Rover.
Several days went by, and during that time the boys learned not a little concerning the catastrophe at the Hasley Shell-Loading plant, the local papers giving a full account of the affair. Fortunately the report that several had been killed was untrue, but about sixteen men had been injured, and several of them quite seriously.
There were many speculations concerning what had started the explosions. It was proved that the first had occurred in one of the cars which was standing loaded on the railroad track, while the second explosion had come less than a minute later from what was known as Storehouse No. 3. Then had followed an explosion at Storehouse No. 2, and after that the explosions had come so rapidly and there had been so much excitement that no one could tell exactly what had happened next. But fortunately the explosions had been confined to the storehouses and the loaded cars on the track. The main building of the shell-loading plant had suffered considerably, but a portion was still standing, and some underground vaults, filled with high explosives, had not been reached. Had these explosives gone up, it is more than likely Haven Point, as well as Clearwater Hall and possibly Colby Hall, would have been shaken to their foundations and with great loss of life.
A rigid investigation had been started by three different parties—the owners of the plant, the local authorities, and the Secret Service of the national government. The Secret Service men, of course, made no public report, but the others in authority came to the conclusion that the explosions had been started either by some spies working for the shell-loading plant or by two suspicious-looking men who had been seen several times around the place—the same fellows described by Jed Kessler.
"Maybe those two fellows on the outside had confederates on the inside," remarked Jack, in talking the affair over with his cousins.
"More than likely that's the truth of it," said Randy. "Those fellows often work in gangs."
During the days following the victory over Hixley High, a number of the cadets had gone down to Haven Point at various times, and several brought back the report that they had met Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell driving through the town in their runabout. Slugger and Nappy had put on a lordly air, bowing very condescendingly to those they knew, but refusing to stop for any conversation.
"Those fellows make me weary in the bones," was the way Dan Soppinger expressed himself. "What ever brought 'em to Haven Point? If I had been fired out of the school the way they were, I wouldn't want to show my face around here again."
"Yes, Dan; but you aren't the sort they are," declared Jack. "I don't believe either Slugger Brown or Nappy Martell has a particle of real pride. They think just because they have a little more spending money than most fellows, they can lord it over anybody."
It worried all of the Rovers to think that Brown and Martell were hanging around Haven Point, and Jack telephoned to Clearwater Hall several times, calling up Ruth and also his sister Martha, asking if they had been annoyed in any way by the pair.
"We saw them again down near our boathouse," said Ruth over the telephone. "They acted as if they wanted to talk to us, but we did not give them any chance to do it."
"If they dare to say a word to any of you, just let us know and we'll take care of them," declared the oldest Rover boy.
On the third day came a long letter to Jack and an equally lengthy communication for Fred. The letters were from their fathers, and in them Dick and Sam Rover gave the particulars of how they had volunteered for service in France and how Dick had been commissioned a captain and Sam a lieutenant. They mentioned the fact that they were soon to leave New York City, along with a number of other volunteers, to go to Camp Huxwell, a beautiful site selected by the government and located on the Atlantic coast.
"Why, say, that isn't very far from here!" exclaimed Jack. "I've often heard them talk about that place."
Jack's father also mentioned the fact that Colonel Colby had obtained a commission as a captain and that a great many others of his old school chums from Putnam Hall, and likewise two of his comrades from Brill College, were going. He added that if Jack wanted to come home to see him off, he could do so.
"And that's just what my dad says, too," said Fred, after both boys had finished reading the letters. "Of course we'll go!"
"Ten horses couldn't hold me back," answered Jack.
"Well, if you fellows go, we're going, too," declared Randy, when the matter was talked over.
"Bet your life!" added Andy slangily. "I want to know what dad has got to say about all this."
Jack and Fred communicated at once with their sisters, and learned that they, too, had received letters from home and were going to depart for New York City at the earliest possible moment. It was then arranged that the young folks should all leave together on the following morning.
"Remember me to your fathers," said Colonel Colby, after they had asked for and received permission to go. "Tell them they will hear from me very shortly."
The two girls met the four boys at Haven Point, and Ruth, May, Gif, and Spouter came to see them off.
"I've got a surprise for you," said Spouter, who had come to the railroad station at Haven Point earlier than the others, in order to obtain parlor-car seats for the party.
"What is that?" questioned Fred.
"When I came in for the seats, who do you think was just ahead of me at the ticket window?"
"You don't mean Slugger and Nappy?" questioned Randy quickly.
"You've struck it!"
"What were they doing there?" asked Jack with interest.
"They were getting tickets for New York."
"Oh, dear! do you mean to say we've got to put up with those fellows on this trip?" sighed Martha.
"You won't have to notice them, Martha," declared her brother.
"Don't worry but what we'll make them keep their distance," added Fred.
The whole crowd looked around the depot, and presently made out Slugger and Nappy at the far end of the platform. They were smoking cigarettes and talking in low, earnest tones.
"I hope they didn't get seats in the parlor car," said Mary.
"I don't think they did," answered Spouter. "They're such smokers, I guess they'd just as lief hang out in the smoking car."
In a few minutes the train came along, and, bidding their friends good-bye, the Rovers got aboard and had a porter show them to their seats. From the window Jack waved Ruth a good-bye, and then the long train pulled out of Haven Point and began its trip to the metropolis.
It was rather a long journey, and it was necessary that they obtain a meal on the train.
"Let me go into the dining car and have a look around first," remarked Fred, when it came time to eat.
"What's the matter—afraid we won't be able to get seats?" inquired Randy.
"I want to see if Slugger and Nappy are around. I don't want to eat when they do."
"Right you are!" answered Jack.
He and Fred hurried through the train and into the diner. Neither Brown nor Martell were present, for which they were thankful. They found a table for four on one side of the car, with a table for two directly opposite, and at once engaged both. Then, while Jack held the tables, Fred hurried back and brought the girls and the twins.
"I never eat in a dining car but what I think of that fun we had with Asa Lemm when we first came to the Hall," remarked Andy, as they sat down. "My, what a pickle we did get that professor in!" he chuckled, referring to a series of incidents, the particulars of which were related in "The Rover Boys at Colby Hall."
"I wonder if we'll ever meet old Asa Lemm again?" remarked Fred.
"Sure!" returned Randy. "He's like a bad penny—bound to turn up some time."
The young folks ordered soup for a first course, and this was quickly served. Mary and Martha sat at the larger table with Andy and Randy opposite, while Fred and Jack occupied the smaller table on the other side of the car.
The soup was finished and the young folks were waiting to be served with the more substantial portion of the meal, when suddenly Fred, who was looking toward the far end of the dining car, pressed his foot down on that of his cousin.
"What is it?" questioned Jack quickly.
"Here come Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell," was the low reply.
TOM ROVER'S DILEMMA
Andy and Randy were facing the same way as Fred, and they, too, noticed the approach of Brown and Martell. Randy whispered something in a low tone of voice to Martha and Mary, and the two girls pursed up their lips, but said nothing, nor did they look around.
The dining car was almost full, and the only table vacant was a small one directly behind where Fred was sitting. Slugger and Nappy were conducted to this by the head waiter, thus passing the Rovers. They did not, however, notice our friends until they had seated themselves and given their order.
"Humph! what do you know about that?" murmured Nappy Martell to his crony. He was seated where he could stare directly at the two girls.
"What's the matter?" returned Slugger Brown, and then turned around to follow his crony's gaze. "What do you know about that? I didn't know they were in such a hurry to get to the diner, did you?"
"I knew they would most likely want to eat," answered Nappy.
The newcomers winked at each other, and then, while they were waiting to be served, Nappy began to stare boldly at Martha. But she refused to look at him, confining her attention to her plate and to Mary and the twins.
Fred could no longer see the unworthy pair, as they were behind him. But Jack, looking over his cousin's shoulder, got a good view of how Martell was staring at his sister, and he also saw how uncomfortable this was making Martha. He waited a minute or two longer, hoping that Nappy would desist. But then, as the dudish young man continued to gaze at the girl, trying his best to catch her eye, he whispered something to Fred, and then rose to his feet.
"All right, Jack, I'm with you if you want any help," returned Fred promptly.
Without hesitation, Jack approached the table at which Brown and Martell sat eating their soup, and placed himself close to the latter's side.
"Now listen to me, Nappy Martell," he said in a low but distinct voice, meant only for the dudish youth. "You keep your eyes to yourself and leave my sister and my cousin alone. If you don't, I'll smash you one in the face that will put you in the hospital. Now remember—I won't give you another warning!" And having thus spoken, Jack turned on his heel and went back to his own table.
Nappy Martell flushed up and an angry retort arose to his lips. Then, however, he became pale and not a word escaped him.
"What was that he said, Nappy?" demanded Slugger in a whisper.
"I—I'll tell you afterwards," stammered Martell. "He's mighty fresh—that fellow!"
"Did he threaten you?"
"I guess he wants to start a row," grumbled Nappy. "But I don't want any fight in front of those girls."
"Those Rovers are getting too fresh to live," was Slugger's comment. "Some day we'll have to get after 'em and polish 'em off."
"We can't get after 'em any too quick to suit me," answered his crony.
After that Nappy confined his gaze to his chum and to the lunch set before him. Never once did he allow his eyes to rove over to the table opposite. Jack had spoken with an intensity that showed his earnestness, and for once Nappy Martell was completely subdued.
"Those Rovers are getting to be a regular bunch of rough-necks," he growled, after he and his crony had finished a somewhat hurried meal and gone back to the smoking car.
"Did he want to fight you?" queried Slugger.
"That's what he had in mind to do—as if I would want to fight before that crowd of people! Why, we would all have been arrested!"
Jack's meal had been spoiled for him, but he did not let the others know this. He, however, kept his eyes on Brown and Martell until they left the dining car. Then he breathed a sigh of relief.
"Gee! I'm glad they're gone," was Fred's comment.
"You're no more glad than I am," answered his cousin. "I'll teach him to stare at my sister! For two pins I'd have wiped up the floor with him!"
"I wish I'd have gotten the chance," put in Andy, from across the aisle. "Wouldn't I like to have peppered up their food good for them!"
In due course of time the young Rovers reached the Grand Central Terminal at Forty-Second Street, in New York City. They had sent a telegram, announcing their coming, and found Mrs. Dick Rover and Mrs. Sam Rover awaiting them, each with a touring car.
"Well, I see you got in on time," said Mrs. Dick Rover, after the greetings were over. "I thought on account of so many soldiers being sent to the various camps, the train might be late."
"We saw some soldiers on the way," answered her daughter.
"And we also saw some freight cars carrying cannon," put in Mary.
"This war is going to make a great change all around," declared Mrs. Sam Rover. And then she added to her daughter: "What do you think about your father going to the front?"
"It's just what I expected," answered Mary promptly. "He's a real patriot—dad is!"
"You are right. But I hate awfully to see him go away," sighed the mother.
The young folks were soon seated in the two automobiles, and their handbags were disposed of in the tonneau. Then the cars were started up, and they were soon whirling away over to Broadway and Riverside Drive, and then to the comfortable mansions occupied by the three Rover families.
It was still rather early in the afternoon, but Sam Rover had already come uptown from his office and was there to greet his son and daughter and the others.
"It's great news, Dad!" cried Fred, shaking him warmly by the hand, while Mary clung around his neck and kissed him.
"Oh, I'm going to be real proud of you!" said the daughter.
A little later Dick Rover arrived, and Jack shook hands with a warmth that was most unusual. When Martha kissed her father a curious lump arose in her throat, and her eyes grew misty.
"I suppose it's all right, Dad," she whispered in his ear. "But, oh! I do hope you'll come back all right." And she clung to him in a way that spoke volumes.
"Of course I'll come back all right, Martha," said Dick Rover confidently. "And for all you know, your dad will come back a major or a colonel, or maybe a brigadier general."
"Oh, I don't care about that! All I want is for you to come back safe and sound!"
"Your father will be up in a little while," announced Dick Rover to the twins. "He had a meeting to attend in reference to the next Liberty Loan. He's a tremendously busy man these days."
"But Uncle Dick! he wanted to go to the front just as well as you did, didn't he?" questioned Randy eagerly.
"Of course he wanted to go," was the ready response. "But we couldn't all go, you know. Somebody had to stay behind to look after our business interests in Wall Street."
"But—but couldn't you hire somebody else to run the business for you?" questioned Andy. Now that he and his brother were face to face with the fact that their Uncle Dick and their Uncle Sam were going into the army, it did not look right at all to them to have their father left behind.
"We thought something of that, but we really couldn't see how it could be done. You see, we have a great many important deals under way, and if those transactions are not looked after carefully, we might stand to lose a great deal of money."
"I don't care—if dad wanted to go to the front, he should have had the chance to go!" burst out Randy.
"I declare, Randy, you'll be as hard to manage in this affair as your father was," said Dick Rover, with a faint smile.
"Was he really hard to manage?" queried Andy eagerly.
"He sure was! We had to talk to him for several days before he would agree to remain behind. He told us once that the whole business could go to pot."
"Hurrah for dad! That's the way I knew he'd act!" burst out the boy.
"If I was him I'd let the business go to pot!" declared Randy. "What good will your old business be if those Germans win this war and start in to rule everything? For all you know, they'll come right over to New York and take your whole business away from you."
"Well, that might possibly happen," put in Sam Rover seriously. "Although I don't think it is very probable."
Knowing that the young folks were usually very hungry when they got home and that they always enjoyed home cooking, their mothers had prepared quite a spread for them. Mrs. Tom Rover had gone downtown to meet her husband, and now she came back in a flutter of excitement.
"Hello, Ma! Where is Dad?" questioned Randy, as he ran up and gave her a hug and a kiss, followed by his twin.
"He's downtown, up to his ears in that Liberty Loan business," answered Mrs. Tom Rover. "Oh, dear! I never saw such a busy man! Half a dozen men are coming in and going out all the time, wanting to know what to do next and asking him if he won't make another speech here, there, or somewhere else. They want him to talk at two Liberty Loan meetings to-night and one Liberty Loan meeting and a Red Cross meeting to-morrow afternoon."
"Isn't he coming home at all?" questioned both of the twins in a breath.
"Oh, yes. He'll be here in a little while. But he won't be able to stay long," returned the mother.
When Tom Rover arrived he looked rather tired out, but he greeted all the boys with a smile and gave each of the girls the kiss he knew they were expecting.
"Oh, I'm in it neck deep," he answered, in reply to his sons' questions. "They must think I can talk just like a coffee-grinder grinds out coffee. And the nerve of some of them!" he continued. "Here they have asked me to go somewhere uptown and meet a lot of bankers and tell them how some of the work on the Liberty Loan is to be done! As if those bankers don't know as much about it as I do, and maybe more!"
"You've bought some of the bonds yourself, haven't you, Dad?" questioned Randy.
"Yes, Son—twenty thousand dollars' worth, and The Rover Company, as a company, has taken twice that amount."
"And my father has taken twenty thousand dollars' worth, too," said Mary.
"And so has mine," added Martha.
"All told, I think we're doing pretty well by Uncle Sam!" cried Jack. "Just the same, Uncle Tom, I think it's a shame that they are going to make you stay behind to run the business."
"I won't stay behind if things get much warmer!" burst out Tom Rover suddenly. "I'll put somebody in my place and grab a gun and go after those Huns."
"Hurrah! that's the way to talk," cried Andy enthusiastically.
"Would you really, Dad?" burst out Randy, his eyes shining.
"Do you want me to go, Son?" demanded the father, catching him by the shoulder.
"Of course I do! I don't think you ought to stay behind with Uncle Dick and Uncle Sam going."
"It doesn't seem right," added his twin.
"And it isn't right! But what am I going to do?" asked their father somewhat helplessly. "We've all our money locked up in our various business deals. Those deals have got to be looked after. Who is going to do it if we all go away?"
"Oh, you can get somebody!"
"This getting somebody that you can trust absolutely is not so easy," answered Tom Rover. "I did think of getting one gentleman we know very well—a Mr. Allen Charter, who graduated from Brill College a year after your uncles and I were admitted to the institution. Mr. Charter is a very fine business man, and understands the deals we are in perfectly."
"Well, then, why didn't you get Mr. Allen Charter to take hold?" questioned Randy.
"He was going to take hold, but at the last minute he declined, stating that he had made up his mind to volunteer for the army."
"Well, there must be somebody else."
"There was another student at that college, named Stanley Browne. He is a cousin of Colonel Colby. We were very good friends, and I thought sure that we could get him to take charge. But Browne has also gone into the United States service."
"Oh, if that isn't a shame—every one of them going in and you left behind!" grumbled Randy. "I don't think it's fair at all!"
"Well, I suppose I've got to make the best of it," answered Tom Rover. But as he spoke he heaved a mountainous sigh. This being left behind while his brothers and his best friends went to the front was going to almost break his heart.
AT THE ROVER COMPANY OFFICES
"Well, we're off at last! Good-bye to everybody!"
The words came from Dick Rover as the last call was given for the volunteers who were going to Camp Huxton to entrain.
"Don't forget to write regularly!" came from Sam Rover.
"Oh, we'll do that—don't fear!" answered his wife Grace. "And don't you forget to answer every letter."
"And please, please, both of you be careful, and don't get hurt!" murmured Martha.
"Oh, say, Martha! don't put a wet blanket on things that way," whispered her brother. "Don't you know you have to send them away with a smile?"
"And I'm going to," she answered quickly, and then began to smile, even though the tears were forming in her pretty eyes.
"I know you will take good care of things while we are away, Tom," said Dick Rover to his brother.
"You can rest assured of that," answered Tom Rover. "Just the same, I wish I were going along."
"So do I, now that the time has come."
"We may never have to go to France," put in Sam Rover. "The war may be over before that time." Yet, as he spoke, he knew in his heart that such was not likely to be the case. But he wanted to say something to ease the minds of his wife and the other womenfolks.
There were quite a number of volunteers to entrain, and friends and relatives were hurrying this way and that to see them off. Among the Rovers there was much handshaking and not a few kisses, and then Dick Rover and Sam entered the train, which, a few seconds later, glided from the station.
It was a sober crowd that returned to the Rover homes, even Andy and Randy being subdued. No one felt like talking. Poor Martha seemed to be the most affected, and had she attempted to speak she would certainly have broken out crying.
"Well, I suppose we've got to get back to Colby Hall to finish out the term," remarked Jack, after Tom Rover had departed for the offices in Wall Street.
"Gee! I wish I could volunteer and go to that camp," sighed Fred.
"Well, we'll get a touch of camp life soon," returned Jack.
He referred to the annual encampment of the Colby Hall students. Every year the cadets of the school were marched away to some place either in the mountains or on the seashore, there to erect their tents and live under canvas for several weeks. During this encampment the cadets were given a taste of real military life, with strenuous drills and marches, target and bayonet practice, and usually ending with a thrilling sham battle.
"Well, we can't get under canvas any too quick to suit me," announced Randy. "I'd rather be out in the open air than in the Hall."
It was arranged that the young folks should return to Haven Point on the following morning. Andy and Randy wanted to see as much of their father as possible, and so decided to run down to Wall Street late in the afternoon and come home with him.
"And you fellows can come along, if you want to," said Randy to his cousins.
"That suits me," answered Jack. "I'd like to see how things look at the offices. I haven't been down there in a long time."
"I'd like to go, too," came from Fred. "Maybe we can cheer Uncle Tom up a bit. He certainly deserves it—having all this business thrust on his shoulders!"
It did not take the four boys long to reach Wall Street, and then they hurried down to one of the small but better-class office buildings in that vicinity.
The Rover Company occupied the entire fourth floor of this building. There was a large general office and a counting room and three private offices, one for each of the brothers. The office help numbered about twenty, and the place during business hours was usually a busy one.
They found Tom Rover in his private office at a large desk piled high with sheets and documents. He was hard at work signing his name to a number of sheets, but smiled pleasantly when he saw who his visitors were. The boys, of course, were well known to most of the employees, and so had passed in without being questioned.
"Come to help me out, I suppose," said the father of the twins, with a grin. "All right. Take off your coats, roll up your sleeves and pitch in. There is plenty to do."
"If that is the case, Uncle Tom, I guess you don't want us to disturb you," said Jack quickly.
"I'll be through here in less than half an hour," announced Tom Rover. "Just make yourselves at home for that length of time, and then I'll be with you."
This was a gentle hint that he must get through with his work, and the boys lost no time in backing out of his office. They went into the offices usually occupied by Dick Rover and Sam Rover, looking over a number of books, magazines and pamphlets.
"Let's go down in the street for a while and take a look around," suggested Andy, who always liked to be on the go.
As there was nothing particular for them to do in the offices, the others agreed to this, and so, telling the twins' father that they would come back at the end of the half hour, they walked out into the corridor opening upon the elevators and the stairway.
As they waited at one of the elevators for a chance to go down, the elevator came up and stopped to let out a messenger boy. Then it continued on its way upward.
"Say, did you notice who was in that elevator?" cried Randy quickly.
"I thought I saw Mr. Martell," answered Fred.
"Yes, it was Martell, and Nappy was with him."
"Well, there is nothing strange about that," came from Andy. "Probably he wants to see his father now he is in New York again."
"I'd like to know what Nappy has told his father about us," went on Fred. "You can wager it's nothing good."
"I don't care what he says, so long as he leaves us alone," said Jack.
Another elevator appeared, and the four boys descended to the ground floor of the office building. Here half a dozen people were waiting to go up, while several others were at the rear of the corridor, talking earnestly.
"Hello! there are Slugger Brown and his father," exclaimed Fred, pointing down the corridor. "Now, what do you know about that!"
"They must be in this building to visit the Martells," returned Jack.
"They are talking to two men," put in Randy. "I wonder who they can be?"
"Oh, some friends or business acquaintances, I suppose," answered the oldest of the Rover boys.
Ordinarily none of the Rover boys considered eavesdropping honorable, but they thought it a different thing when dealing with their enemies, and Andy, being naturally inquisitive anyway, sauntered down the corridor and passed the group that was talking so earnestly. The backs of both Mr. Brown and Slugger were toward him, so neither noticed the lad.
"And if you will do that, Mr. Brown, you will make very good money by it," Andy heard one of the strange men say. He spoke with a strong German accent.
"You will make far more money that way than you ever did in your business," added the other stranger.
"Yes, but I'll be running a big risk," Mr. Brown replied. "Those things are getting more dangerous every day."
"Say, Pop, why don't you go up and see Mr. Martell about this?" put in the son.
"Yes, I think we ought to go up and see Nelson Martell," answered Mr. Brown.
"I have already seen him," said one of the strangers.
"Well, it won't do any harm to talk it over again," returned Slogwell Brown. "Come on; his offices are up on the fifth floor."
The party of four turned, and as they did so Andy raised his hand and made a quick motion to the other boys to get out of sight. Then, as Slugger Brown and the men passed him, he turned quickly and, bending down, pretended to fix the lace of his shoe. Thus he was passed without being recognized. A few seconds later the four were in the elevator, going up.
"Why did you motion for us to get out of the way?" demanded Jack, as soon as Andy rejoined the others.
"Because I didn't want Slugger and his father and those other men to see you," was the quick reply. "Do you know what I think?"
"What?" came in a chorus from the others.
"I think that whole crowd is up to no good. Both of those men look like Germans, and each of them talked with a strong German accent, even though they are both evidently very well educated."
"What did they say?" demanded Jack; and when told, he looked grave.
"There may be something in this," he said slowly. "Suppose we go up to the fifth floor and try to find out a little more."
"We might get caught," said Fred.
"I don't see how," went on the oldest Rover boy. "Martell doesn't occupy the whole floor. He has the front offices only. There are several other firms in the rear. We might be calling on them, you know," and he winked.
The boys talked the matter over for a minute or so, and then, as an elevator came down, they entered and got out at the fifth floor. The little corridor here was empty, for which they were thankful.
"Of course there may not be a thing in this," announced Jack. "It may be some ordinary business deal which is perfectly legitimate."
"Not by the way those two German-looking fellows talked," said Andy. "I didn't like their looks at all. Unless I miss my guess, they are a slick pair."
The two strangers had looked to be about forty years of age. Each was tall and rather stout, with a clean-shaven, florid face and close-cut, sandy hair. Their eyes had had a shifty snake-like look, and this it was, as much as anything, which set Andy against them.
The doors to the Martell offices were two in number, one marked "Private" and the other, "Entrance." The boys waited for a few seconds, and then walked softly over to the latter door. They heard a murmur of voices, but could not make out what was being said.
"Perhaps they are in the office marked 'Private,'" whispered Jack, and tiptoed his way in that direction, followed by his cousins.
In front of the door to this office they could hear slightly better. The murmur of voices was at times quite distinct, and they caught the words: "Supplies," "Canned goods," "Immediate delivery," "Motor trucks," "Machinery," "Cash payment," "Night work," and a number of others. Then the murmur of voices grew a little more animated, and finally they heard Nelson Martell exclaim: "I think we ought to have a thousand dollars at least in advance!"
"Better make it two thousand," came from Slogwell Brown.
There was an exclamation from the strange men, and then the voices sounded lower so that the Rovers could not hear what was being said. Suddenly, however, one of the strangers cried out:
"Oh, I forgot! I have an important engagement in less than half an hour. I must go at once."
"I guess it's time we got out of here!" exclaimed Jack, and started to retreat, as did the others.
The Rover boys had just reached a place in front of the elevators when the door to one of the back offices opened and much to their surprise Nappy Martell and Slugger Brown came out. Evidently they had been sent off by their fathers while their parents had been doing business with the two strange men.
"Hello! what are you fellows doing here?" grumbled Nappy, gazing at them suspiciously.
"Did my father come up here?" questioned Randy, before the others could speak. "We want to see him," continued the quick-witted Rover. "Maybe he's in Mr. Benson's office, fellows," he added. "Come on."
There was a Mr. Benson on that floor with an office in the rear. Without saying another word to Nappy or Slugger, the Rover boys marched to the door of the Benson place, knocked, and went in.
"Say, that was a neat trick, all right enough," whispered Jack to Randy. "But now you've got us into it, you'll have to get us out."
"Humph! that's easy enough," was the ready reply. "Just leave it to me."
A clerk came up, looking inquiringly at the boys.
"Excuse me, but did my father come up here?" questioned Randy innocently. And then, as the clerk looked puzzled, he added: "I am Randy Rover. My father is Thomas Rover of The Rover Company."
"Oh, I see!" and the clerk smiled. "No, I don't think your father came up here, but I'll ask Mr. Benson." The clerk disappeared into an inner office, to reappear a moment later. "Sorry, but your father hasn't been up here to-day."
"Thank you," returned Randy; and then he and the others backed themselves out.
The stairway was close at hand, and a few seconds later the four Rover boys were on the fourth floor. Here they waited for the elevator, and soon found themselves on the ground floor, and from that walked to the street.
"Let's hang around and see if that fellow really goes away," advised Fred.
This they did, and in a few minutes saw the two German-looking men come from the building. They seemed to be in a great hurry, and lost no time in disappearing up Wall Street in the direction of Broadway.
"I wonder if we hadn't better follow them?" said Fred.
"It might be rather a long-winded job, and we haven't time," answered Jack.
"Let us stay around until my father is at leisure," said Randy. "Then we can tell him what we have heard and see what he thinks of it." And so it was decided.
FUN AT THE RAILROAD STATION
"There may be a good deal in this, and there may be nothing at all," were Tom Rover's words, after he had listened to the story the boys had to tell. "This may be a perfectly legitimate business transaction, although, as I have said before, Nelson Martell has been known to go into more than one shady transaction here in Wall Street. Generally, however, he just manages to escape falling into the clutches of the law."
"Yes, but Dad! you must remember how Mr. Brown tried to treat old Barney Stevenson," broke in Randy.
"Yes, I remember that," answered his father. "And I have heard that Brown is no more reliable than is Martell. But to know a fact is one thing, to prove it in a court of law is another."
"And those two strangers were certainly Germans," said Andy.
"I'll look into this a little further as soon as I get time," said Tom Rover, after a moment of thought. "And perhaps I'll speak to one of the Secret Service men about it. It certainly will do no harm to have these men watched for a few days."
A little later Tom Rover was through with his labors at his office, and then he and the boys returned to the homes on Riverside Drive. The father of the twins had to go out in the evening, and the boys spent the time at home with their mothers and the girls.
"We can't go straight through to Haven Point this morning," announced Jack, on the following day, when they had arrived at the railroad terminal. "They are shipping some soldiers and some naval supplies, and the road is somewhat balled up. The gateman told me we should have to make two changes."
All of the mothers had come down to see the young folks off. Jack and Fred, as well as their sisters, felt particularly sorry for their parents, now left entirely alone so far as their own families were concerned.
"But never mind, Ma," said Martha. "The term at Clearwater Hall will soon be at an end, and then we'll be home again."
"And don't forget that we are to pay a visit to Camp Huxwell if the authorities will permit it and dad is still there," added Mary to her parent.
"Sure! we'll all go," cried Fred.
Owing to war conditions, there was no parlor car on the train, but the boys and girls managed to get seats together, for which they were thankful. They made themselves as comfortable as possible, and then settled down to read their newspapers and magazines, or gaze out of the window at the scenes which were flashing by.
There was no dining car on this train, but from the conductor the young folks learned that they would have to change at a place called Raymonton, and they would there have half an hour in which to get lunch.
"I can get all I want in less time than that, provided it's to be had," said Fred. "We can go to the lunch room just as soon as the train gets in."
Raymonton was nothing but an overgrown village containing but a handful of stores, a church, a garage, and a canning factory, with the houses occupying half a dozen straggly-looking streets. There was only a small and not an altogether inviting-looking lunch room, and here the bill-of-fare was decidedly meagre.
A tall, angular Irish girl waited on them. She was pleasant enough, and smiled broadly at the twins' jokes. She served them with sandwiches, cake, pie, and hot chocolate, and they also purchased from her a bag of grapes and pears.
"I told you we'd have plenty of time," remarked Fred, looking at a clock on the wall. "We have still ten minutes to spare."
"I think I'll get a shoe-shine," said Jack. "I saw a bootblack outside roaming around doing nothing. If I give him work it may keep him out of mischief."
At the end of the railroad platform was a stand devoted to the sale of newspapers and periodicals, chewing gum and candy. There was also a rack with postcards, and the girls busied themselves at this, picking out such cards as they desired. Not far from where the stand was located stood a long auto-stage, marked "Raymonton to Clappville. Fare 10 Cents." On the seat of the stage sat an elderly driver, smoking, and the bus contained one or two men and several women and children, evidently waiting for the stage to start on its journey.
Jack had just finished having his shoes polished when he and the other boys noticed a man at the newsstand talking to the proprietor. Both men appeared to be out of sorts.
"Sorry, Sir, but you can't have that magazine!" they heard the stand keeper exclaim.
"I'd like to know why not!" demanded the would-be customer. "I am ready to pay for it."
"That's all right—but you can't have it! I get only two copies of that magazine, and one is for the hotel and the other for Doctor Johnson's daughter. They both take it regular."
"Humph! I guess you don't want any customers," growled the other man savagely. "Well, if you don't want to sell me any of your old magazines you can keep them! I guess I can get all the magazines I want elsewhere." And the man stalked off in haughty anger.
The boys had watched this scene and listened to the talk with much interest. They had recognized in the would-be customer Asa Lemm, the professor who previous to his discharge from that institution had made life so miserable for them at Colby Hall.
"I'm glad the fellow didn't let him have the magazine," said Fred.
"Gee, I wish we could put one over on old Lemm!" whispered Andy.
"I wonder what he is doing in this town?" queried Randy.
"I think I can answer that," replied Jack. "I once heard that he had some relative—a brother I think—living at Clappville. Maybe he came from there, or is going over to that town in the stage."
Without allowing themselves to be noticed, Andy and Randy kept their eyes on Asa Lemm and saw him hurry over to one of the stores on the main street of the town, where a number of magazines were displayed in the window. He came out of the place, however, empty-handed, and looking more sour than ever. In the meantime Jack sauntered up to the keeper of the stand at the railroad station.
"Not a very pleasant sort of a fellow, that," he remarked.
"Say, that fellow makes me tired!" growled the newsstand man. "I have a run-in with him nearly every time he comes here. The last time it was over a plugged ten-cent piece he tried to pass on me. When I handed it back to him and told him I wanted a good one, he was as peppery as sin."
A minute or two later the driver of the auto-stage tooted his horn to show that he was about ready to start on the trip. At once several men and women came running from various directions and began to enter the stage. The last man to arrive was Asa Lemm. He had picked up a valise and a bundle from somewhere, and he had to stand in the rear, waiting for those ahead to enter the stage.
"I suppose there won't be any seat for me by the time I get aboard," he grumbled to the driver.
"Ain't my fault," answered the stage driver calmly. "If you don't want to stand, you can wait until the next trip."
"I haven't time to wait. I'll crowd in somehow," grumbled Asa Lemm.
While this was going on, Andy and Randy had come up close behind the professor. Both were wondering if they could not play some sort of trick on him before he departed.
The newsstand was similar to many of that kind, and on two sides of it were long rows of periodicals, fastened by clips to a wire held in place by small hooks. Watching his chance, Andy unfastened the end of one of these wires, and motioned to his twin to unhook the other end.
"Now I guess we'll fix Mr. Asa Lemm!" muttered Andy, and with a quick move he came up behind the former teacher of Colby Hall and twisted one end of the wire around a back button of Asa Lemm's cutaway coat.
By this time all of the others had gotten into the stage, and, being somewhat in a hurry, the driver made a move as if to start away.
"Hi there! Wait till I get in!" shouted Asa Lemm and threw his bags and his bundle into the stage. Then he got on to the stage step and the driver started off.
"Hello, look at that!"
"Say, what is that fellow dragging behind him?"
"Hi, Mr. Gasaway! That fellow is running away with your magazines!"
"Talk about the tail of a kite—this beats any kite tail I ever saw!"
Such were some of the cries that rent the air as the stage started away from the depot. On the step, clutching the handrails, was Asa Lemm, and streaming out behind him was the wire, loaded with magazines and picture papers.
"Hi you! Come back here!" roared the stand keeper in bewilderment. "What do you mean by running off with my stuff? Come back, I say!" and, throwing up a flap of the counter, he ran out of his stand and after the auto-stage.
Asa Lemm did not know what to make of the hullaballoo. People were rushing toward the stage from all directions, and many were pointing their fingers at him. He felt a tug in the rear, but could not put his hand back to the button on which the wire was fastened for fear of falling from the stage step.
"Stop that stage! Stop that stage, I tell you!" bawled the newsstand keeper. "He's running off with my magazines!"
And then the crowd set up a roar of laughter.
"I ain't got no time to waste. I'm behind time already!" yelled back the auto-stage driver. "What do you want, anyway?"
"Oh, my! did you ever?" screamed Martha, dropping several of the postcards she had purchased.
"Just look at all those magazines dangling after that man!" screamed Mary. And then, as she caught sight of Andy and Randy, both doubled up with laughter, she continued: "I'm sure those twins must have done it!"
Jack and Fred had also come up, and both were on a broad grin. In the meanwhile the stage moved on with Asa Lemm still dragging the wire and the periodicals attached to it behind him.
"Hurrah! he believes in loading up on information!" cried Andy gaily.
"He's what you can call a real live wire!" added his twin.
"Come back with those magazines, I tell you!" bawled the stand keeper, shaking his fist at Asa Lemm. "Come back, I say!" And then he set off on a run after the stage.
He could not catch up to the vehicle, but he did catch up to the end of the wire, and as he stepped on this there was a tearing sound from beyond, and away came the button from Asa Lemm's coat, bringing with it a strip of cloth.
"Hurrah, he's got his magazines back!" exclaimed Randy.
"And a souvenir of Asa Lemm's coat to remember him by!" added his brother.
Just as Andy said this a train came rolling into the station.
"I hope that is our train," cried Fred.
The boys ran around to the other side of the station and found out from the conductor that the train which had come in was that for which they had been waiting. They at once called to the girls; and all lost no time in hurrying on board.
"Wait! I want to see the end of this!" cried Andy, and threw up a window. He stuck out his head, and as the train rolled away from Raymonton he was just in time to see Asa Lemm pulled from the step of the auto-stage by the irate man from the newsstand. Then the former Hall professor was tripped up and sent flat on his back in the dust of the road.
BACK TO COLBY HALL
"Well, that is where we got back at Asa Lemm!" cried Randy, after all of the Rovers had gazed out of the car windows as long as the scene near the auto-stage remained in view.
"I'll wager that stand keeper is mad," said Jack.
"And what a beautiful coat old Lemm has, with the tail torn to ribbons!" Fred added.
"Oh, I think you boys are simply dreadful!" cried Mary, but she smiled as she spoke.
"Don't you think you were rather hard on the professor?" questioned Martha dubiously.
"No, I don't!" answered Andy promptly. "He treated us as mean as dirt while he was at Colby Hall. He was more than stern—he was thoroughly unreasonable! That's why Colonel Colby discharged him."
"And please to remember how he backed up Slugger Brown's father on Snowshoe Island," added Randy. "He was perfectly willing to swindle old Barney Stevenson out of his property. He deserves no sympathy."
The remainder of the journey to Haven Point passed without special incident. The boys and the girls had sent word ahead that they were coming, and when they reached the town they found Bob Nixon there with one of the Colby Hall turnouts, and also a driver with a stage from the girls' school.
"Well, here is where we part and get back to the grind," said Fred, after he and Jack had placed their sisters' baggage in the proper car.
"Good luck to both of you girls!" cried Jack.
The girls were soon started off in one direction, and then the boys started off in the other. The latter were still some distance from Colby Hall when they saw Spouter Powell and Gif Garrison approaching on foot.
"Glad to see you back!" cried Spouter, as he climbed into the machine.
"We've got great news," announced Gif, his eyes beaming.
"Our fathers have volunteered for the war!" broke out Spouter.
"Really?" came from the Rover boys.
All were much interested, although Andy and Randy looked a trifle disturbed. The fact that their own father would have to remain behind while all of the others were going to the front was continually in the minds of the twins. They felt much disappointed.
"When did you get the news?" questioned Jack.
"It came in by the first mail this morning," returned Spouter. "I got a letter, and so did Gif. My father and Mr. Garrison are both going to do their best to join the crowd from Putnam Hall and Brill College."
Of course the Rovers wanted to know more particulars, and they were given so far as Spouter and Gif knew them.
"And we've got more news, too," announced Gif. "They've finally settled on the place where we are to have our annual encampment."
"And where will that be?" asked Randy eagerly.
"We're to go to Barlight Bay on the Atlantic coast. It's quite a distance from here."
"Barlight Bay!" exclaimed Jack. And then he looked inquiringly at Fred. "Isn't that in the vicinity of Camp Huxwell?"
"Sure it is!" answered Fred. "They are almost side by side."
"I asked about that," said Spouter; "and Captain Dale told me that our camp and the government camp will be not very far apart. There is a thick belt of timber and some rocky land between."
"Why then, we'll be close to our fathers!" cried Fred joyfully. "This suits me right down to the ground!" and his face showed his delight.
"Gee, I wish we were going under canvas to-morrow!" sighed Jack.
The next day found the Rovers deep in their studies. The examinations previous to the annual encampment were now close at hand, and all were anxious to make a good showing.
"Because, you see, it's this way," said Jack to his cousins, and especially to the fun-loving twins. "We didn't come here merely to cut up and have a good time. Our folks sent us to Colby Hall so that we would settle down and get good educations. If we don't make a good showing, you know how disappointed every one of them will be."
"Oh, I'm going to study like an Indian," answered Andy quickly. "I'm going to cut out every bit of horseplay until after the examinations are over."
"And so am I," added Randy.
And, strange as it may seem, the twins kept their word, and as a result, when the examinations were held for the term, both came through with markings which were exceedingly gratifying.
Jack and Fred likewise did very well, for which they were thankful. They telephoned the results to their sisters, and got back word from Clearwater Hall that Martha and Mary were also coming through finely.
"And what about Ruth and May?" questioned Jack, who was on the 'phone, with Fred beside him.
"Ruth is at the head of the class," announced Martha, over the telephone. "May will stand third or fourth."
"Then give them both our congratulations," said Jack.
"And also our best regards," added Fred, crowding his cousin to one side.
"Hold the wire a minute and you can talk to them yourselves," said Martha. And a minute later Jack was talking to Ruth and later still Fred managed to get in a few words with May.
Following the examinations, Colonel Colby called the entire school together, and then announced that he was going to take his departure for Camp Huxwell and would leave the scholars in charge of Captain Dale and Professors Grawson and Brice.
"I am sorry to leave you," announced the colonel, "but I have accepted the call of our country and shall go to the training camp without further delay. But you all know Captain Dale very well, and I feel sure that you will be glad to learn that he will have charge during the annual encampment. He will be assisted by the professors and some others, and all arrangements have been perfected for making this outing a great success.
"With talk of war filling the air, we shall try to show what Colby Hall can do in the way of first-class military training. Captain Dale will see to it that you are given an opportunity to show what you can do at target and bayonet practice, and in marching and other camp activities. There will, of course, be the usual athletic contests, and as you are going down to the coast, you will likewise have an opportunity to make use of the water."
Here the colonel paused, and there was a faint handclapping, quickly followed by a generous round of applause.
"Evidently you all like the idea of going in camp near the water," said Colonel Colby, smiling.
"It's dandy!" called out Andy, and at this there was a general laugh.
"Before you depart for Camp Barlight, as the place will be called, Captain Dale will hold the annual election of officers. As the old cadets here know, no cadet who has not been at this school for at least six months can hold any office in the battalion. Apart from that rule, the cadets can make up their tickets to suit themselves. You will first vote for a major, then for three captains, one each for Companies A, B, and C, and then for two lieutenants for each company. The other officers, including the quartermaster, will be selected by Captain Dale and the professors.
"And now, young gentlemen, I must bid you good-bye, and I trust that you have a good time during the encampment. As I expect to be at Camp Huxwell for some weeks at least, I shall probably have the opportunity from time to time of coming over to see how you are getting along."
Colonel Colby bowed and stepped back, and again there was a round of applause. In the midst of this Major Ralph Mason arose and walked to the front.
"Colonel Colby," he said in a loud voice, as soon as the applause had subsided, "in the name of the battalion which I have the honor to command, I wish to thank you for all your kindness to us as students here, and we trust you will accept our best wishes for good luck to you in the course you are taking. We feel sure that with such men as you in our army Uncle Sam is bound to help very materially in winning this World War.
"And now, sir, as a token of our esteem, and also as a reminder of what we hope you will do to the enemy, allow me, sir, in the name of all the cadets of Colby Hall, to present you with this."
As the young major concluded he drew from behind him a leather case which he sprung open as he presented it to the astonished master of the institution. There, in the case, rested a very fine automatic pistol, its polished handle engraved with Colonel Colby's name and also the fact that it was presented to him by the school, with the date. The hat had been passed around among the boys for contributions to this gift, and every cadet had given something.
Though the colonel was much astonished, he was likewise greatly pleased at this evidence of their friendliness and interest in him, and he accepted the gift in a few words which showed his emotion.
"If I ever get to France this automatic shall go with me," he announced. "And you can rest assured that if ever the opportunity comes, the weapon shall render a good account for itself." And following these remarks there was another round of applause, and then the school was dismissed.
Of course the boys had known about the annual election for a long time, and there had been a good deal of wire-pulling over the question of candidates for the various offices. It was felt by many, including the Rovers, that Ralph Mason should remain the major of the school battalion, because he was so well liked and was such a thoroughly good officer. It was also felt that the captains of Company A and Company B should remain, and likewise several of the lieutenants.
"What we want most is a new captain for Company C," said Spouter.
"Yes, and we want two lieutenants for that company, too," put in Walt Baxter.
"And the whole company wants to be jacked up," added Don Soppinger. "The way they have been drilling has been a disgrace to this school. They don't do half as well as the other companies."
"Well, you must remember one thing," said Jack. "Company C was formed long after they had Company A and Company B. That company always got all the new fellows, and you can't expect new cadets to do as well as the old ones."
"Yes, but now that they are getting ready to form a Company D, the fellows in Company C ought to be jacked up," said Fatty Hendry. "They need it."
"Say, Fatty, do you want to become an officer of them?" queried Randy slyly.
"Well, I wouldn't mind the job," answered the stout cadet. "I think I could boss 'em around a little better than Phil Huber did." Huber had been the former captain, but he had left the school, and the command was now in charge of the first lieutenant, a fellow named Gabe Werner.
Now it chanced that Lieutenant Werner was not very well liked at Colby Hall. He was a tall, angular youth, with watery blue eyes and straw-colored hair, and he had a general manner about him which was anything but inviting. How he had ever gotten to be a lieutenant of the cadets was a mystery.
"I think they'll dump Lieutenant Werner," remarked Fred. "I don't believe anybody wants him for an officer again."
"I guess you're right," answered Dan Soppinger. "If anybody at all voted for Werner, it would be Bill Glutts."
"Well, Glutts isn't any better than Werner," was Jack's reply. "He's a regular blockhead, in my opinion."
Glutts was a youth who had come from the Middle West, and it was said that his father was in the wholesale butcher business. He was a broad-shouldered, beefy-looking youth, with prominent front teeth and a face that was far from inviting.
"Say, Jack, why don't you run for captain?" queried Gif. "I'm sure our whole crowd would stand by you."
"Oh, I don't know, Gif," returned Jack modestly. "I didn't expect to become an officer yet. Let some of the older cadets take hold. You might run yourself."
"No, I don't think I want the job," answered Gif.
"Maybe you'd like it, Spouter?" said Jack.
"No, I'll give it up in your favor, Jack," was the prompt response. Spouter looked at the assembled crowd. "Say, fellows, what do you think of it? Shall we put up Jack Rover for captain of Company C?"
"Jack will be sure to run well!"
So the comments ran on, and almost before he knew it, Jack had been nominated by his friends for the position of captain of Company C. Then began an animated discussion over the other offices to be filled, and a little later Fred was nominated for a lieutenancy.
THE ELECTION FOR OFFICERS
"Jack, I hope you win out in that election," said Fred, after the conference had come to an end and the cadets had dispersed.
"I hope you win out, too, Fred," was the quick reply.
"I think if anybody has a job to get elected, it will be you, Jack," came from Randy. "You can bet your bottom dollar that Gabe Werner will make every effort to secure that office."
"Well, as he is acting captain now, perhaps he deserves it," answered Jack slowly.
"He deserves nothing!" came promptly from Andy. "He's a regular bear. He never has any consideration whatever for the cadets under him. Why, only last week it made my blood boil the way he treated a couple of new fellows. Of course, they didn't know what he wanted, but that's no reason why he should howl at 'em the way he did. If he had done that to me, I'd have thrown my gun at his head."
What had been said about Gabe Werner's ambition to become the regular captain of Company C was true. The angular lieutenant was of the opinion that the place belonged to him, and he did not hesitate to tell this to all those with whom he was intimate.
Now that Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell had left Colby Hall for good, Henry Stowell had established himself as a satellite of Werner, doing all the mean little jobs the big cadet desired.
"Of course you'll be elected," declared Codfish to the lieutenant, when the talk over the coming election was rife. "The place belongs to you."
"Sure it does," answered Gabe Werner readily. "But I suppose I've got to work like the rest of the candidates if I want it," he added, heaving a deep sigh. Werner was lazy by nature, and he did not like the idea of electioneering, any more than he did the idea of studying.
"I'll tell you what you ought to do, Gabe," said Bill Glutts. "You ought to give the boys a spread, or treat them to an entertainment in town. That would nail the captaincy for you."
This idea pleased Werner, and, as a result, that night he invited all the cadets he dared to approach to the moving-picture theater at Haven Point. A crowd of about thirty accepted this invitation, and they not only went to the show, but later on dined at one of the restaurants at Gabe's expense.
"That sort of thing makes me tired," declared Spouter, when he heard of this. "Why, the poor fish is trying to buy votes!"
At first Dan Soppinger had said that he did not care to run for the captaincy, but a number of his friends insisted that he allow his name to be put up, and finally he consented. Others went to Walt Baxter and told him that he must run, too.
"You've simply got to do it, Baxter," said Ned Lowe. "If you don't, some of the fellows who might vote for you will go over to Werner, and he'll have a walkover from the start."
"All right then, if you want me to stand I'll do it," said Walt. "Just the same, I think Jack Rover ought to have it, and I'm going to vote for him."
The voting was to be held on the following Saturday, and on Monday morning the cadets were to leave Colby Hall for Camp Barlight. Consequently between getting ready to vote and preparing for the encampment, all of the students were unusually busy.
The election was held in the main hall of the school, and was presided over by Captain Dale and Professor Brice. It was announced that the total number of votes to be cast would be 111 and the number necessary for a choice would consequently be 56.
"We will ballot for the major and the three captains separately," announced Captain Dale. "Then we will have the balloting for the lieutenants."
The electing of a major for the next term proved easy. Ralph Mason obtained ninety-one votes on the first ballot and was consequently declared reelected.
"Hurrah for Major Ralph Mason!" cried one of the cadets, and the cheers were given with a will.
Then followed the balloting for the captain of Company A and the captain of Company B, and they were likewise reelected, and there was more cheering.
"We will now ballot for a captain for Company C," announced Captain Dale.
There was a murmur, and the cadets once more formed a long line and marched up to the platform, where each deposited his ballot in a big box, located there for that purpose.
There was a smug grin on the face of Gabe Werner when he dropped in his vote. It seemed to show that he felt sure of being elected.
A few minutes of silence occurred, during which time the votes were being tabulated, and then Professor Brice struck a bell to attract the attention of the cadets, and, stepping forward, read the result:
"Total number of votes 111 Necessary to a choice 56 Gabe Werner has 32 Jack Rover has 32 Daniel Soppinger has 30 Walter Baxter has 17."
At this there was a murmur of voices, and all the cadets looked at each other.
"As no candidate has received the required number of votes, I will leave you for ten minutes to talk matters over among yourselves, and then we will have another vote," announced Captain Dale.
"Say, Jack! what do you know about that?" cried Fred. "You and Werner are tied for first place!"
At this moment Walt Baxter came up.
"Listen, Jack," he said in a low voice. "I voted for you, and I would just as lief withdraw in your favor, but some of the fellows who voted for me say if I withdraw they will vote for Werner, so I'll have to stay on the ticket. But it's a blamed shame!" and Walt's face showed that he meant what he said.
"Say, Bill, we've got to get a hustle on and get more votes," growled Gabe Werner to his crony, as they walked over to a corner.
"I don't see how we're going to do it. I've talked to every fellow in the school," said Glutts.
"I'm entitled to this captaincy, and if they won't give it to me I don't want anything," growled Gabe Werner. It angered him to think that in spite of all the money he had spent he could muster up only thirty-two votes.
While this was going on, Dan Soppinger had been circulating among those who had been supporting him. Dan was gratified over the showing he had made, but he did not want the position. Now he came up and announced that he was going to withdraw.
"I'm withdrawing in favor of Jack Rover," he declared in a loud voice, and went around the hall repeating this statement. "I want everybody who voted for me to vote for Jack."
"Not much we won't!" cried one cadet. "If you won't run, we'll vote for Walt Baxter."
"We want Bart White to run!" put in another cadet.
"All right, suit yourselves," said Dan, with a shrug of his shoulders. "Just the same, I'm out of it, so I don't want anybody to vote for me again."
It was not long after this that the call came for the next ballot, and once again the cadets filed up and placed their slips of paper in the box. Then the counting began and was soon finished. Both Captain Dale and Professor Brice seemed to be much disturbed over something that had occurred, and the bell for silence rang out sharply.
"This ballot cannot be counted!" declared Captain Dale, in a stern voice. "There are but one hundred and eleven cadets present, but one hundred and fifteen votes have been cast, showing that some person or persons voted more than once. You will immediately prepare new votes and stand in one long line, handing each vote to me as you come up."
"Gee! what do you know about that?" whispered Randy.
"I wager some of the Werner crowd did that," remarked his twin.
"How foolish to do anything of that sort," said Jack. "They ought to have known they couldn't get away with it."
"Maybe they thought because Dan Soppinger retired some of the fellows wouldn't vote," suggested Fred.