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The Rover Boys at Colby Hall - or The Struggles of the Young Cadets
by Arthur M. Winfield
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"Oh, how glad I am that we are out of there!" exclaimed the girl who had been sitting beside Jack.

"I'm glad myself," he added, wiping away the tears which the smoke had started from his eyes.

"If only they all get out safely!" said one of the other girls.

"I don't know about that," answered Randy, seriously. "It was a bad enough crush at that side door, but I think it was worse at the front doors."

By this time everybody seemed to be out of the theater. An alarm of fire had been sounded, and now a local chemical engine, followed by a hook and ladder company, came rushing to the scene. There was, for fully ten minutes, a good deal of excitement, but this presently died down when it was learned positively that there was no fire outside the metallic booth from which the pictures had been shown and where the small explosion had occurred.

"It wasn't much of an explosion," explained the manager of the theater. "It was more smoke than anything else."

"Yes. And I yelled to the crowd that there was no fire and that they must keep cool," added the man who had been operating the moving picture machine.

In the excitement several people had been knocked down, but fortunately nobody had been hurt. A number of articles of wearing apparel had been left in the theater.

"I wish I could get my hat," said the girl named Alice, wistfully. "I don't want to go back to school bareheaded."

"What kind of a hat was it?" questioned Randy, who stood beside her. "Maybe I can get it for you;" and then, after the girl had given him a description of the head covering, he went off to question one of the theater men about it. In a few minutes more he came back with the missing property.

After Randy returned, the boys introduced themselves to the girls, and learned that all of the latter were scholars at Clearwater Hall. The leader of the party was Ruth Stevenson, who had sat next to Jack, while her friends were Annie Larkins, Alice Strobell, Jennie Mason and May Powell.

"I know a fellow named Powell quite well," remarked Jack, as the last-named girl was introduced. "He goes to our school. His name is Dick, but we all call him Spouter."

"Dick Powell is my cousin," answered May. And then she added smilingly: "I've heard of you Rover boys before."

"Yes, and I've heard of you, too," broke in Ruth Stevenson.

"And who told you about us?" questioned Jack.

"Why, a big boy at your school—the head of the football team."

"Oh! do you know Gif Garrison?"

"Yes. I suppose you know him quite well?"

"Well, I should say so!" declared Jack. "Why, my cousin Fred here is named after Gif Garrison's father. His father and my father were school chums."

"Oh! Why then we know a lot of the same people, don't we? How nice!" returned Ruth Stevenson, and smiled frankly at Jack.

After that the talk between the boys and the girls became general, and each crowd told the other of how matters were going at their own particular school.

"Yes, I've been up to Colby Hall several times to see the baseball and the football games," said Ruth to Jack in answer to his question. "It's certainly a splendid place."

"Some day, if you don't mind, I'll come over and take a look at Clearwater Hall," he answered.

"Clearwater Hall! Say, that must be a fine place to get a drink!" piped in Andy; and at this little joke all of the girls giggled.



CHAPTER XVII

THE GIRLS FROM CLEARWATER HALL

The Rover boys remained with the girls from Clearwater Hall for the best part of half an hour after the scare at the moving picture theater, and during that time the young folks became quite well acquainted.

"We'll have to be getting back to our school now," said Ruth Stevenson, presently.

"Oh, what's your hurry?" pleaded Jack. "Weren't you going to stay to the pictures?"

"No. We were going to leave immediately after that reel they were showing when the explosion occurred," the girl replied.

"Well, we've got to get back to Colby Hall in time for supper; but we can make that easily enough—we are all good walkers."

"I should think you would ride in your auto-stage," put in Alice Strobell. "I'd ride if we had a stage handy."

"The stage isn't down here now," answered Randy. "It only comes on order."

The four boys walked with the girls to the end of a side street of the town, and there the pupils from Clearwater Hall stopped to say good-bye.

"We are very thankful for what you did for us at the theater," said Ruth Stevenson. "You were very kind, indeed."

"You are regular heroes!" burst out May Powell, who by her merry eyes showed that she was almost as full of fun as were the Rover twins. "I'm going to write to Spouter and let him know all about it."

"And don't forget to mention the rescue of my hat," added Alice Strobell with a giggle.

"I hope I have the pleasure of meeting you again, Miss Stevenson," said Jack, in an aside to the oldest girl of the party.

"Well, maybe," she returned, looking at him frankly.

"I've enjoyed this afternoon very much—in spite of that excitement."

"Oh, so have I!" and now she cast down her eyes while a faint flush stole into her cheeks.

"We won't dare say much about that trouble in the theater when we get back to school," remarked Jennie Mason.

"That's right!" burst out Annie Larkins. "If we did, maybe Miss Garwood would refuse to let us attend any more performances."

"Is Miss Garwood the head of your school?" questioned Randy.

"Yes. And let me tell you, she is a very particular and precise woman."

"I guess she isn't as precise and particular as one of our professors," was Andy's comment.

"Oh! do you mean that teacher they call old Lemon?" cried May Powell.

"Yes."

"We've met him a number of times. What a ridiculous man he is! I don't understand why Colonel Colby keeps him."

"I saw you look at me when I spoke about that boat race," said Jack to Ruth Stevenson. "Maybe you like to be out on the water?"

"Oh, I do—very much! You know we have boats at the school, and I often go out with my friends."

"I like to row myself. Perhaps some day you'd like to go out with me?" went on the oldest Rover, boldly.

"I'd have to ask permission first," answered the girl, and then dropped her eyes. Evidently, however, the tentative invitation pleased her.

As was to be expected, the parting between the boys and the girls was a rather prolonged affair, and it looked as if everybody was highly pleased with everybody else. But at last Annie Larkins looked at a wrist watch she wore and gave a little shriek.

"Oh, girls, we must be going! We ought to be at the school this minute!"

"Then here is where we start the walking act," declared May Powell. "Good-bye, everybody!" and away she hurried, leaving the others to trail behind her.

"Don't forget about the row," said Jack in a low tone to Ruth Stevenson.

"I'll remember—if I get the chance," she returned; and in a moment more all of the girls were gone and the boys retraced their steps to the center of the town.

"Pretty nice bunch," was Randy's comment.

"It's funny that Spouter Powell never told us he had such a nice cousin," came from Fred.

"Hello, Fred's already smitten!" cried Jack, gaily.

"Huh! you needn't talk," retorted the youngest Rover. "How about yourself? Didn't I catch you trying to make a date with that Ruth Stevenson?"

"Oh, say, Fred! your ears are too big for your head," retorted Jack, growing red, while Andy and Randy looked at each other suggestively.

By this time the excitement around the moving picture theater had died away completely and the crowd had disappeared. The front doors were closed, but the manager was just hanging out a sign to the effect that the evening performances would be given as usual.

"I guess it was a big scare for nothing," was Randy's comment.

"The audience can be thankful that they got out without anybody being hurt," returned Jack.

The boys made a few more purchases in Haven Point, and then started back for Colby Hall.

"I wonder if those girls go to church in Haven Point on Sundays," remarked Jack, just before the Hall was reached.

"I don't know," answered Andy. "More than likely." His eyes began to twinkle. "Thinking of going to church yourself, Jack?"

"Didn't we go to church when we were at home, Andy?"

"Sure," was the prompt reply.

"I think we can find out from Spouter or from some of the other cadets," answered Fred. "I know the boys are allowed to go to whatever church they please on Sundays." It may be as well to add here that on week days regular chapel exercises were held at Colby Hall before the ordinary classes were in session.

From Spouter Jack received the information he desired, which was to the effect that his cousin May and a number of her chums generally attended a church on the outskirts of Haven Point in the direction of Clearwater Hall.

"If you say so, I'll go with you there to-morrow morning," continued Spouter; and so the matter was arranged. At the church the cadets heard a very good sermon, and after the services had the pleasure of strolling with the girls as far as the entrance to their school grounds.

Monday morning found the Rovers once more down to the grind of lessons. So far they had gotten along very well. But on Tuesday the unfortunate Andy had another run-in with Asa Lemm.

"This won't do at all, Rover," stormed the professor, after Andy had given the wrong answer to a question. "You must pay more attention to your studies."

"I'm doing the best I can, Professor," pleaded the youth.

"Nonsense! I don't believe a word of it. They tell me you spend most of your time in horseplay. Now, that won't do at all. You must buckle down to your studies or I shall have to take you in hand;" and Professor Lemm glared at the lad as if ready to devour him.

"Say, Andy, you'll have to toe the chalk mark after this," whispered his twin. "If you——"

"Silence there! I will have silence!" cried Asa Lemm, pounding on his desk with a paper weight.

"I'll have one grand smash-up with that man some day," was Andy's comment in speaking of the affair after the school session had closed. "I can't stand his arbitrary ways."

"Oh, he's a lemon—and worse," returned his brother.

During that week there was an election of officers for the school battalion, composed of Company A and Company B. The Rover boys, being freshmen, could not compete for any position, even had they so desired; but there was a good deal of electioneering among the cadets, and the lads got quite a lot of fun out of it. The announcement of who was elected was followed by a parade around the grounds and an unusually good supper in the mess hall. Then the boys were allowed to gather at one end of the parade ground near the river, where they soon had several large bonfires burning, around which they danced, sang, and cut up to their hearts' content.

The election had been a bitter disappointment to Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell. Each had wanted to be an officer of the battalion, and each had failed to get the required number of votes.

"It's that Gif Garrison-Spouter Powell crowd that did it," muttered Slugger Brown. "I saw 'em working like troopers to defeat us."

"Yes. And those Rover boys worked against both of you, too," piped in Codfish, who was present. "I watched 'em do it. They went all around among the fellows they know electioneering for the others who were running."

"It would be just like them to do it," muttered Nappy Martell, gloomily.

"I thought you were going to fight that Jack Rover to a finish some day?" questioned the sneak of the school.

"So I am—when I get the chance," returned Martell.

As soon as the election of officers was settled, the minds of a certain number of cadets turned to football. Gif Garrison was busy arranging his teams and placing the names of the players up on a big board in the gymnasium.

"Hurrah!" shouted Fred, bursting in on Jack one afternoon while the latter was busy in his room studying the next day's lessons. "Our names are up on the board, Jack! Gif has put us up for a try-out on the scrub eleven!"

"Is that so!" exclaimed his cousin, his face showing his satisfaction. "Are you sure?"

"I am. I just came from the gymnasium. We are to report for practice to-morrow afternoon at four o'clock."

"Is Andy or Randy up?"

"No. You remember they told Gif they didn't want to play football this season."

The Rover boys soon learned that not only Gif but also Spouter, Ned Lowe, Walt Baxter, and Slugger Brown were on the regular eleven. The scrub team was made up largely from the freshmen class, although Dan Soppinger and a few others of the older cadets who had never played on the first team were also included.

"Now, I want all of you to do your very best," said Gif, at the close of a long talk to the boys on what was required of them. "We'll have nothing but squad work first, and then a game or two just to find out how matters are shaping themselves."

As an aid Gif had Mr. Crews, the gymnasium instructor, who in his younger days had been quite a football player. Between the pair matters took shape rapidly, and by the end of the week the scrub was in shape to play a game against the regulars.

As was to be expected, this opening contest was a decidedly ragged one, even the regular team making many plays which caused hearty laughter.

"You fellows have all got to do better if we want to win any matches," declared Gif. "Now then, go at it as if you meant it and see that you mind the rules." And after that the playing showed gradual improvement.

Colonel Colby had not forgotten his own football days, and one afternoon he came down to the field to see what progress his pupils were making.

"Be on the alert when the signals are given," he said. "The signals," he added, "count for a good deal."

With the master of the school present, the cadets put forth renewed efforts and the playing became actually snappy. There were several well-earned runs, and once Jack managed to kick a goal from the field which brought forth considerable applause.

"Keep it up, Jack! You're doing fine!" were Gif's encouraging words.

"Thanks. I'll do the best I know how," was the rejoinder.

Fred was also working hard, and a little later he made a run which netted the scrub team fifteen yards.

"Fine! Fine!" cried his cousin encouragingly.

"That was well played," announced Gif. "But I want every man on the field to do better than he has been doing," he added, stiffening up, for he knew that a captain can only get out of his men the best that is in them by thus urging them on.

During several of the plays Jack had come into contact with Slugger Brown, and the big fellow showed that he had no friendly feeling for the Rover boy.

"You be careful," warned Jack, when Brown started once to tackle him unfairly. But the big fellow merely grinned in a sarcastic fashion. Then, less than two minutes later and while there was a wild rush on, Slugger Brown, by a sidelong and unexpected leap, hurled Jack to the ground and spiked him in the leg with his shoe.



CHAPTER XVIII

SLUGGER BROWN IS EXPOSED

To be thrown down so violently was bad enough, but to be spiked in the leg hurt so much that Jack could not repress a gasp of pain.

"Get off of me, Brown!" he panted when he could speak. "What do you mean by spiking me that way?"

"Didn't spike you!" retorted Slugger Brown, scowling viciously.

The whistle blew and Gif came running towards the pair. "What's the matter?" he demanded.

"Brown tackled me unfairly and then spiked me," answered Jack.

"It's false!" roared the accused one. "I threw him down according to the rules and I didn't spike him at all!"

The pain in Jack's leg was so intense that he could hardly stand. Fred and some others came rushing to his assistance, and between them he managed to hobble to a bench at the side of the football field. A crowd began to collect, and all wanted to know what had gone wrong.

"Let us take a look at your leg, Rover," said Mr. Crews. "That will show whether you were spiked or not." The limb was exposed, and then a cry of dismay went up.

"Why, look there—it's all bloody! Slugger Brown must have spiked him for keeps!"

"That's a shame—if he did it on purpose. He has no right to have spikes in his shoes."

"I didn't do it on purpose! It was an accident!" cried the accused player. "I didn't know I had spiked him or that I had spikes. Maybe he cut himself on a stone or something like that."

"No; he has been spiked," announced the gymnasium instructor, after examining the wound. "Come, Rover; we'll go to the gymnasium and I'll attend to that and bind it up for you."

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Brown, for doing such a thing to my cousin," said Fred.

"That's right!" broke in Randy, who had come up.

"You stop your talking!" answered Slugger Brown, uneasily. "It was an accident, I tell you. Anybody on the team might have done it."

Colonel Colby had been on the other side of the field, but now he came hurrying forward to see what was amiss. He told Mr. Crews to do everything that was necessary for Jack, and then turned to Gif.

"I think it would be as well for you to retire Brown for the present," he said in a low voice.

"Just what I was going to do," answered the football captain quickly. "We'll have to investigate this matter after the game is over."

"I don't see why I should be put off the team!" cried Slugger Brown, when notified that a substitute would take his place. "It was an accident and nothing else."

"We'll see about that later, Brown," answered Gif briefly. "Anyway, you had no right to have spikes on your shoes."

With one substitute in place of Brown and another playing Jack's position, the game went on and came to a finish in favor of the regular team by a score of 22 to 16.

"Not such a very good showing for the regulars," was Gif's comment.

"Maybe, if Jack had been in shape to play, we might have beaten you," remarked Fred, grimly.

"Oh, I'm not willing to admit that," answered the football captain. "Just the same, some of you fellows on the scrub did very well, indeed. I'm going to continue to keep my eyes on all of you."

Down in the gymnasium the wound inflicted by the spikes in Slugger Brown's shoe had been carefully washed and dressed by Mr. Crews and then bandaged.

"I don't think you'll have any great trouble from it, Rover," remarked the gymnasium instructor. "But, just the same, you had better favor that leg for a few days."

"Then you wouldn't advise me to play football?" questioned Jack in dismay.

"Not for the next few days. After that I think you'll be all right."

As soon as the game was over, Gif, aided by Mr. Crews, began an investigation, closely questioning all of the players and those looking on who had seen the encounter between Brown and Jack. Of course, there were various versions of the affair, but the consensus of opinions seemed to be that the tackle had been an unfair one and that Brown could have avoided spiking Jack had he been more careful. It was likewise considered unfair to use spiked shoes even in a practice game.

"I guess he did it just to be nasty," said Gif to Mr. Crews. "You see, he and Nappy Martell and that crowd are all down on the Rovers."

"I know nothing about the quarrels between the cadets," was Mr. Crews' reply. "But I do know that spiking anyone on purpose cannot be permitted in this institution. I recommend, Garrison, that Brown be suspended from the team."

This was going a little further than Gif had anticipated. He knew that Brown was a fairly good player, carrying considerable weight, and that the cadet's heart would be almost broken if he was taken out of the games entirely.

"Don't you think, Mr. Crews, it would be going far enough if I put him on the bench with the substitutes?" he pleaded. "To be thrown out of the team entirely is a terrible blow for any one."

"But we expect our cadets to act like young gentlemen and not like brutes, Garrison," returned the gymnastic instructor warmly. "However, if you wish to place Brown among the substitutes, I will not oppose you. His weight might help you to win some game if it was running very close and some of your best players dropped out." And so it was arranged.

Slugger Brown had been very anxious to know what the outcome of the matter would be. He was far from appeased when he received the notification that, while he would be retained on the regular team, it would be only as a substitute.

"A substitute, eh?" he said sarcastically to Gif. "So that is the way you are going to punish me for something that couldn't be helped."

"Mr. Crews and I went into the details of the affair, Brown," answered the football captain. "Mr. Crews wanted to put you off the team entirely. It was only through my efforts that you are to remain as a substitute."

"I've been the mainstay of our football eleven ever since it was organized!" stormed Slugger Brown. "I helped to win every victory that came our way."

"I'm not denying that you play well. But, just the same, if you'll remember, you've been warned of your brutal attacks before. In that game with Hixley High last Fall, the left tackle said, if you will remember, that you ought to be handed over to the police. Now Mr. Crews says—and I agree with him—that we've got to play in a clean-cut fashion, free from all needless brutality."

"Bah! I won't listen to you," howled Slugger Brown. "You're in with those Rovers, and that whole crowd is down on me just because I am chummy with Nappy Martell. I won't stand for it! If I can't play on the regular team, I won't play at all!"

"Very well then, you can suit yourself about that," answered Gif; and to avoid further argument he walked away, leaving the big youth in anything but a pleasant frame of mind.

The interview had taken place in the gymnasium, and presently Slugger Brown was joined by Nappy Martell and three or four other cronies, including Codfish.

"It's an outrage!" was Martell's comment, when Slugger had told of what had occurred. "I wouldn't stand for it! No wonder you told him you wouldn't play on the eleven any more."

"A team that has got a captain like that doesn't deserve to win," was the comment of one of the other cadets.

"Say, Slugger, why don't you get to work and see if you can't boost Gif Garrison out of his place? He has no more right to be captain of the eleven than you have."

"Easy enough to say," growled Brown. "But Garrison has too many of the fellows under his thumb. Oh, I don't care—they can go to grass with their old football games!" And then Slugger Brown stalked off by himself to nurse his wrath as best he could. He was very bitter against Jack.

"It's all that Rover boy's fault," he muttered to himself. "I don't wonder Nappy is down on that crowd."

The recent cold snap had given way to weather that was quite balmy; and, being unable to put in his off time in football practice, Jack remembered what he had said to Ruth Stevenson about a row on the river. He consulted with Fred, and then the pair managed to get a message to both Ruth and May Powell; and in return received word that the two girls would be pleased to go out the following afternoon about four o'clock.

"Gee! you fellows will have a dandy time," remarked Randy, when he heard of this. "Why didn't you let us know?"

"Four in one of those rowboats is about enough," answered Jack. "But if you and Andy want to go out, why don't you get another boat and send word to a couple of the other girls?"

"All right! Let's do it," answered Andy, quickly; and the upshot of the matter was that they telephoned over to Clearwater Hall and made an arrangement with Alice Strobell and Annie Larkins.

"It's a shame we can't ask Jennie Mason, too," said Randy, who remembered the fifth girl who had been in the crowd at the moving picture theater.

"You won't have to worry about Jennie," answered Alice Strobell, over the telephone. "She has a date with somebody else."

The Rover boys had already arranged about the boats, and promptly on time they set off down the river in the direction of the lake. They had to row past the several docks of the town, and then drew up at a small wharf, leading up to the Clearwater Hall grounds.

When the girls appeared, they were accompanied by one of the teachers, who had been sent down, evidently, for the purpose of looking the cadets over.

"Now remember, do not stay out any later than six o'clock," said the teacher, as the girls were entering the two rowboats, assisted by the boys.

"Oh, we'll have to come back a little before that time," answered Jack. "You see, we are due at Colby Hall at that hour."

"Very well then," said the teacher. "I trust you all have a pleasant time," and she smiled.

"Oh, we'll have a good time—don't worry," sang out Andy, gaily.

"To be sure we will," echoed May Powell.

And then, with the girls safely seated in the two rowboats, the boys took up the oars, and the little outing on Clearwater Lake was begun.



CHAPTER XIX

A SQUALL ON THE LAKE

"It's too bad we don't happen to have a motor boat up here," remarked Jack, as he and Fred bent to the oars of their rowboat.

"You mustn't work too hard," came from Ruth.

"I wasn't thinking of that," answered the oldest Rover boy quickly. "I was only thinking if we had a motor boat we could go farther."

"They are going to have a motor boat or two at Colby Hall next Spring—I heard Colonel Colby speaking about it," put in Fred.

"That will be very fine," remarked May. "I suppose you'll give us a ride once in a while?" she added, her eyes twinkling.

"Sure!" responded the youngest Rover, quickly.

"Hi—over there!" came from Andy, as he and his twin bent to the oars. "Want to race?"

"Of course—if you'd like to!" responded Jack.

"Oh, a race!" exclaimed Alice Strobell. "Won't that be fine!"

"There won't be any danger, will there?" questioned Annie Larkins, anxiously.

"No danger whatever, so long as we keep far enough apart," answered Randy. "And we'll do that, because we expect to leave them far behind."

"Not much you won't leave us behind!" retorted Fred. And then he added: "Are you ready?"

"Wait a minute until we have the young ladies seated just right," answered Andy. And then, turning to the two girls in the boat with him, he continued gaily: "Now sit right in the center of the boat, please; and be sure to have your hair parted exactly in the middle;" and at this both girls shrieked with laughter.

With their passengers seated to their satisfaction, the four Rovers prepared for the race.

"Where are we going to race to?" questioned Jack.

"I don't know," answered Randy. "Can any of you tell me?" he went on, appealing to the pupils from Clearwater Hall.

"You might race to the near end of Foxtail Island," suggested Ruth, and pointed to an island some distance down the lake.

"That suits!" cried Jack.

"The first one to reach the dock at the end of the island wins the race," announced May.

"And what's the prize?" questioned Fred.

"Oh, the prize will be the pleasure of rowing back," answered May, and at this little joke there was a general laugh.

"Now please don't tip us overboard," pleaded Alice.

"Nary a tip," answered Randy.

"We're not looking for tips," broke in Andy, quickly. "We are going to do this free, gratis, for nothing," and at this pun there was another laugh. Then Jack gave the signal, and away the two rowboats started on the race.

Of course, it was only a friendly affair, and none of the boys rowed as hard as he would have done in a regular contest. Nevertheless, each craft made good progress over the sparkling waters of the lake.

"Oh, my! you certainly can row," remarked Ruth to Jack and Fred, as their craft drew ahead.

"Oh, we're not warmed up yet," was Jack's reply.

"We could do much better if we were in regular rowing togs," explained Fred.

"Hi you! What do you mean by going ahead?" piped out Randy. "Come on, Andy, or they'll beat us."

"Maybe they can beat a drum, but they can't beat us," cried Andy.

And then he and his twin increased their strokes so that presently their boat was once more beside the other.

The girls were as much interested as the boys in the impromptu race, and they soon began to shout words of encouragement.

"Pull! pull! we're going to win!" cried May.

"Not a bit of it! Our boat will get there first!" sang out Alice.

"You can't beat us!" came from Annie.

"He crows best who crows last," cried Ruth.

"Right you are!" came pantingly from Jack; and then, as he saw the look of encouragement in Ruth's face, he redoubled his efforts. Fred did the same, and when they came into plain view of the tiny dock at the end of Foxtail Island their boat was two full lengths ahead of the other.

"Hi you! What kind of a race is this, anyhow?" shouted out Andy, gaily. "Why don't you keep side by side and be sociable?"

"Sour grapes!" roared Fred. "Here is where we win!" and in a moment more he and Jack sent their boat up to the side of the little dock. Almost immediately the second craft followed.

"I think all of you did very well," remarked Ruth, consolingly.

"Anyway, we came in a close second," remarked Randy.

"We would have won if it hadn't been for one thing—just one thing," remarked Andy, solemnly.

"Why, what was that?" questioned several of the others quickly.

"That was the fact that the other boat"—Andy drew a deep breath—"came in first." At this the girls shrieked with laughter and the other boys set up a howl.

"Pitch him into the lake!"

"That's right! Give him a bath!"

"A ducking will do him good—he needs to be cooled off!"

"Not much! No bath for me!" cried Andy, quickly, and lost no time in leaping to the dock, where, in the exuberance of his spirits, he turned several handsprings, much to the amusement of the girls.

"Is there anything worth seeing on this island?" questioned Jack, when the excitement of the race was over.

"There isn't anything here that I know of," answered Ruth. "In the summer time people come here to picnic. There is a nice spring of water in the center of the island."

"Let's go and get a drink," said Fred. "That race made me thirsty;" and off the whole party trooped to the spring.

The young folks had a good time at the spring and in exploring the little island, which had a hill at one end covered with trees. They found some chestnuts and also a few hickory nuts, and these the boys opened for the girls' benefit.

"I suppose we had better go on and finish the row," remarked Jack to Ruth, presently. "That is, unless you girls would rather wander through the woods."

"Oh, it's nice enough here on the island," she answered. "Remember, you'll have quite a row back to the school and then to Colby Hall."

"Oh, let's stay here for a while," put in Alice. "Maybe we'll be able to find more nuts."

They hunted around, and presently discovered another large chestnut tree which was fairly loaded. The boys threw up sticks and stones, and brought down a big shower.

"If I had known this, we might have brought along a pillowcase for the nuts," said Fred.

"We can come back some day if we want to," returned Randy.

Before leaving the island the young folks decided to go back to where the spring was located, so as to get another drink and also to wash their hands. On this trip, in speaking about the excitement at the moving picture theater, Randy chanced to mention Jennie Mason's name.

"Jennie is a nice girl," answered Annie Larkins, to whom he was speaking, "but she does some things that I do not approve of. Do you know a cadet at your Hall named Napoleon Martell—I think they call him Nappy for short?"

"Do we know him!" exclaimed Randy. "I should say we did!"

"Oh! is that so?" Annie looked at him searchingly. "Is he a friend of yours?"

"No; I can't say that he is. To tell you the truth, he doesn't like us at all."

"If that's the case, I don't mind speaking to you about Jennie," went on the girl. "You know, Jennie comes from New York City. And down there she met Nappy Martell quite a few times, and they became well acquainted. But Jennie's folks don't approve of him at all; and they don't want her to go with him." And here Annie paused.

"And do you mean to say she does go with him, anyhow?" queried the Rover boy.

"Yes. She goes out to meet him whenever she can get the chance," was the reply. "You are sure you don't approve of him?"

"Not in the least. In fact, to tell the truth, we have no use for him or the bunch he trains with."

"I see. Well, all of us think it is perfectly dreadful the way Jennie accepts Martell's invitations. Of course, we don't want to tell on her, either in school or to her folks, and yet none of us think it is right."

"Does he take her out much?"

"Oh, as much as they dare to go. He takes her out sailing on the lake and to the moving picture shows, and once they went off together on a picnic to the Clearwater Country Club. The places were all right in themselves, but I know Jennie's folks don't want her to be seen in the company of Nappy Martell. He is so loud and forward."

"You can't tell us anything about Martell being loud and forward," answered Randy, readily. "We all know him to be a regular bully. Besides that, when he isn't in uniform, he wears the loudest kind of clothes—just as if he wanted to make an exhibition of himself."

"Jennie went out with him this afternoon," continued Annie. "Where they went to, I do not know. But I think they hired a motor boat and went across the lake."

"Does Martell know how to run a motor boat?"

"Oh, yes. He told Jennie that he owned a motor boat on the Hudson River—a boat his father gave him for a birthday present."

Randy and the girl had dropped a little behind the others, who now waited for them to come up.

"I think we had better be getting back," said Jack. "It isn't as clear as it was before, and it is beginning to blow."

"Yes, we'll get back," returned Randy, with a look at the sky. He knew that a blow on the lake might be no trifling matter.

On the way over to the island the sun had been clear and warm. Now, however, it was hidden under a dark bank of clouds, which were coming up quickly from the west. The wind was already blowing freely, and out on the bosom of the lake the water was roughing up in tiny ripples.

"All aboard, everybody!" sang out Jack. And then turning to his cousins he added in a low voice: "We mustn't lose a minute of time in getting back. This blow is going to be a heavy one."

The girls were soon seated in the rowboats, and then the four Rovers lost no time in casting off from the little dock and in starting to row towards Clearwater Hall. As they proceeded, the sky kept growing darker and darker while the wind grew stronger and stronger.

"We're in for a squall all right enough," murmured Randy, as he and Andy bent to their oars with vigor.

"Gee! I only hope we can reach the shore before it strikes us," was the response.

"Row for all you're worth, boys!" sang out Jack from the other boat. "Bend to it just as if you were in a race!"

And then he and Fred, as well as the twins, settled down to the task of trying to outrace the oncoming squall.



CHAPTER XX

IN GREAT PERIL

As those who have had any experience know, a squall on a lake encircled by hills sometimes comes up very quickly, and this is what happened in the present case. Hardly had the two rowboats covered a quarter of the distance to the shore, when the wind came whistling across the bosom of the lake, sending the whitecaps tumbling in all directions.

"Oh, dear, just look how rough the water is getting!" remarked Ruth in alarm.

"And how the wind is blowing!" added May.

In the other boat the girls were even more fearful, and Andy and Randy had all they could do to make them sit still.

"Don't shift," pleaded Randy. "We don't want to ship any water."

"Oh, dear! If only we were safe on shore!" wailed Alice.

"I didn't think it looked like a storm when we left the school," added Annie, in dismay.

"This is only a squall. It may blow itself out in a few minutes," returned Randy, although to himself he admitted that the squall looked as though it might last for some time.

Battling as best they could against the wind and the whitecaps, the Rover boys strove to reach the shore in the vicinity of the girls' school. But the wind was blowing directly down Clearwater Lake and threatened more than once to capsize them.

"Gee, Jack, this is getting serious!" panted Fred, as he looked questioningly at his cousin.

The same thought had come into the minds of each of the boys. Could the girls swim? They wished they knew, but did not dare to ask any questions for fear of further alarming their passengers.

"I guess we had better head up into the wind. It's the safest thing to do," cried Jack. And then, raising his voice to be heard above the whistling of the elements, he added: "Head up! Don't take those waves sideways! Head up!"

The others understood, and in a minute more both of the boats were heading directly into the wind. This prevented either of the craft from swamping, but caused the spray to hit the bow more than once, sending a shower of water over everybody.

"Oh, dear! I'm getting wet!" wailed May.

"Do you think you can reach shore?" questioned Ruth of Jack; and her wide-open eyes showed her terror.

"We can't head for the school just now," he answered. "We'll have to keep pulling up against the wind until it lets up a little."

"Oh, but we sha'n't upset, shall we?" came from Spouter Powell's cousin.

"I don't think so. Anyway, we are going to do our best to prevent it," answered Fred.

Keeping as close together as they dared, the two rowboats continued to head up into the wind, which still blew as hard as ever. In the sky the clouds were shifting, and Jack and his cousins had great hopes that ere long the sudden squall would blow itself out.

"Here comes a motor boat up behind us!" cried Ruth, presently.

All looked in that direction and saw a fair-sized craft coming up the lake. She was making good speed in spite of the whitecaps, and was sending the spray flying in all directions.

"I think that is the boat Jennie Mason was going out in," remarked Annie to Randy. "Yes; I am sure it is," she added a minute later, as the motor boat came closer. "There is Mr. Martell at the wheel now."

The discovery that Nappy Martell was running the oncoming motor boat had also been made by those occupying the other rowboat.

"It's Martell! And there is Slugger Brown with him!" cried Fred.

"Isn't one of those girls Miss Mason?" questioned Jack.

"Yes. And Ida Brierley, one of our girls, is with her," answered Ruth. Her manner indicated that the discovery did not altogether please her.

"Maybe we can get that motor boat to pull us in," suggested May. "They could do it easily enough."

"So they could," answered Fred. "But I doubt if those two fellows who are running it would like to undertake the job. They go to Colby Hall, but they are no friends of ours."

"Yes, but they ought not to let their enmity stand between us in a time like this," said Jack. "If they were in the rowboats and I was in the motor boat, I'd give them help quick enough."

As the motor boat drew nearer, it prepared to pass close to the craft manned by Jack and Fred. As it came closer, Jennie Mason gave a cry of surprise.

"Oh, look! look! There are those Rover boys, and some of our girls are with them!"

"I'm glad I am not out in a rowboat," said Ida Brierley. "I'd be afraid of getting a good ducking."

"Ahoy there, on the motor boat!" sang out Fred, as the craft came alongside. "Can't you fellows give us a tow? We have plenty of rope."

"This motor boat wasn't built for towing," answered Nappy Martell, roughly.

"We're having a terrible time of it against this wind," put in Jack. He would not have asked for assistance on his own account, but he was thinking of the girls. He knew that all of them were badly frightened.

"Oh, yes! please tow us in!" came from May.

"Yes! please do!" added Ruth.

"It's so far to the shore!" came from Annie.

"And we're afraid we'll get wet through and through!" cried Alice.

"You ought to do something for them," declared Jennie Mason, who had herself become frightened over the roughness of the lake.

"I'm not going to tow those Rovers in," muttered Nappy Martell. "You wouldn't do it, would you, Slugger?"

"Not much! Let 'em take care of themselves," was the heartless answer.

"Oh! but they may be drowned!" gasped Jennie.

"Nothing of the sort. This is only a little wind, and it will soon die down. If those Rovers have to break their backs rowing, it will do 'em good!"

"If you don't tow us in, you'll be the meanest fellow on earth," sang out Andy.

"I wouldn't have your disposition for a million dollars," added his twin.

"Aw! go chase yourselves!" retorted Slugger Brown, heartlessly.

"We're not helping fellows like you," came from Nappy Martell. Then the motor boat passed on and was soon all but lost in the distance.

"Of all the mean people!" cried Ruth.

"I shouldn't think Jennie Mason would stand for such meanness," declared May. "Nor Ida Brierley, either."

The motor boat having gone on and left them to their fate, the Rover boys continued pulling on the oars. It was hard, laborious work, and soon Andy and Fred were all but exhausted. Jack and Randy, however, had now gotten their second wind, so to speak, and they continued their efforts with unabated vigor.

"It was as mean as dirt for them to leave us out here when they could have towed us in with ease," panted Fred. "Just you wait—I'll let the whole school know of this!"

"Don't talk! Save your wind. We can talk afterwards," returned his cousin.

The next quarter of an hour was one which none of the girls or boys ever forgot. The Rovers continued to battle with the wind and the waves with all the energy left to them, while the girls crouched down on the seats almost speechless with fear. Occasionally, the waves would hit the bow of one rowboat or the other, sending a shower of water over the occupants.

"I—think—it's—letting up—a—bit," panted Jack, presently, and glanced up at the sky.

"Oh, if only it would!" breathed Ruth.

The boat containing the others had dropped slightly behind, but now Jack and Fred held back until it was once more alongside.

"Oh, did you ever see such a storm!" wailed Alice.

"I don't think I'll ever want to go out in a rowboat again," was Annie's bitter comment.

"I think the wind is beginning to die down," said Ruth, encouragingly.

"Let—us—hope—so," came in jerks from Jack. He was still rowing, but his arms felt as if they were being torn from their sockets.

They had now covered nearly half the distance to the upper end of the lake, but they were just as far from the western shore as ever. Now, however, as the wind began to die down, they turned slightly in the direction of Haven Point.

"It won't matter where we land," declared Ruth. "We can easily walk back to the school."

The sun was still under a cloud, but now the wind went down more than ever. The surface of the lake, however, was still much troubled, and the boys had all they could do to make any progress towards the shore.

"Oh, you must be very tired!" said Ruth to Jack.

"Never—mind—we'll—reach—shore—somehow," he answered. Then she said no more, because she knew it was painful for him to speak.

The four boys continued to row on, and in about a quarter of an hour came within plain view of the shore, at a point some distance beyond Clearwater Hall and the town.

"Oh, look! Something is the matter down by the lumber yards," remarked Alice, presently. "See the men running!" She pointed, and those in both rowboats looked in that direction.

"I don't see anything wrong," said Ruth.

"I do!" cried May, and gave a little shriek. "Look! look! A whole lot of lumber is drifting this way!"

"Some—thing—broken—lose," gasped Jack. "Maybe—a—lumber—raft."

And that was just what had happened. In a manner to be explained later, a lumber raft being towed up the lake by a steam tug had not only broken away, but likewise had broken apart, and the timbers which had composed it were now floating around over a large area of Clearwater Lake.

In another minute the two rowboats were in the very midst of the drifting timbers and in great danger of being upset.



CHAPTER XXI

ASSISTANCE REFUSED

"My gracious! look at the lumber floating around!"

"Be careful, boys! Don't get hit if you can help it!"

"One of those timbers is heavy enough to send us to the bottom!"

"Oh, dear! Do you think we'll be smashed up?"

Such were some of the cries which rent the air as the Rover boys and the girls with them found themselves in the midst of the wreckage from the broken-apart lumber raft.

On all sides of them heavy sticks of timber were bobbing up and down on the whitecaps, and presently one of these bumped into the craft occupied by Jack and Fred and two of the girls. The rowboat careened so much that quite a large quantity of water was shipped, which made Ruth and May scream in fright.

"Stand up in the bow, Fred, and see if you—can—ward—them—off!" gasped Jack as well as his semi-exhausted condition would permit. "I'll stick to—the—oars."

He knew he must keep the rowboat headed up into the wind, for the squall had not yet subsided sufficiently to allow of their taking it sidewise.

A moment later came a cry from the other rowboat as the craft slipped up and over several large sticks of timber.



"Gosh! that was a narrow escape!" was Andy's comment, as the craft finally righted itself.

"Oh, dear! if only we were on shore once more!" wailed Annie, for at least the tenth time.

"I never dreamed that we would have such a dreadful experience as this!" came from Alice.

Randy said nothing, but continued to row, while Andy did the same as Fred was doing, both trying their best to ward off the heavy sticks which came floating towards them every minute or two.

Not far away was a steam tug, and presently two other boats came from the shore, both bent upon saving all that was possible of the broken-apart lumber raft.

"We'll pick you up if you have much trouble," cried the captain of the steam tug, as he ran a course between the two rowboats. "But don't ask us to do it unless it's necessary, for we want to round up this floating lumber before it gets away from us, if it can be done."

"Thank you!" gasped out Jack, in return. "Maybe we can—make—the—shore. The wind seems—to—be—going—down."

"Sure, we'll make it!" put in Randy. The fright of the girls in his boat had somewhat nettled him and he was resolved to land them safely without assistance.

But it was a time of peril as well as exhausting effort; and all of the Rovers were glad enough when the last of the drifting lumber was passed and they came within hailing distance of the shore. The wind had now gone down considerably, and most of this was to be felt farther out on the lake.

"Let us take them right down to the school dock," sang out Randy. "We can turn down the lake, and the wind will be just strong enough to help us;" and so it was arranged.

When the two rowboats came within sight of the school dock, those on board found fully a dozen of the scholars there, along with two of the teachers.

"Are you safe?" cried one of the teachers, as soon as the boats came within hailing distance.

"Yes, Miss Glover. We are all right," answered Ruth.

"Only we are rather wet," added May.

"And I'm awfully glad to get back," broke in Annie, who was fairly shivering over her trying experience.

"Well, anyway, I think you cadets did perfectly splendid," remarked Alice.

"Indeed they did!" broke out Ruth, quickly. "I don't believe anyone could have managed these boats better;" and she bestowed a glance of admiration first on Jack and then on his cousins.

"It was a terrible blow, and it came up so quickly that we all grew alarmed for your safety," said Miss Glover.

"And then to think that you must get mixed up with that drifting lumber!" put in the other teacher. "The squall was bad enough without having anything like that happen."

"It's too bad the lumbermen had their big raft go apart like that," was Jack's comment. "I guess those big sticks of timber are worth a good deal of money."

"They couldn't have had the raft chained together very tightly," said Miss Glover, who had come from a lumbering community where rafting was frequent. "I never heard of a raft going to pieces like that."

"Well, I don't know much about lumber rafts," answered Jack.

"Say, can't we leave our two rowboats here and ride back to the Hall?" questioned Randy. "I don't want to do any more rowing if I can help it."

"Of course you can leave your boats here," answered Miss Glover, and she showed where the craft might be stowed away in the boathouse. All of the Rovers were glad enough to give up further work at the oars.

"I am awfully sorry our little outing turned out as it did," remarked Jack to Ruth.

"And it was too bad to frighten you so," added Randy, to all of the girls.

"Oh, it wasn't your fault that the squall came up," answered Ruth. "And, besides that, now it is over I think I rather enjoyed the adventure—that is. I'll enjoy telling about it," she corrected.

"Some day I hope we'll be able to spend a nicer time together," said Jack.

"Perhaps," murmured Ruth, and blushed.

Before the Rovers left for Colby Hall, they asked if Jennie Mason and Ida Brierley had returned.

"They have not come back yet," answered one of the teachers. "We saw them going up the lake against the wind. We were a little bit worried, but I presume the motor boat can take care of itself in quite a blow."

"All they've got to do is to turn on the gasolene, while in a rowboat sometimes a fellow's muscles give out," was Andy's comment, and this caused a smile.

After bidding the girls and the others good-bye, the four Rovers walked towards the town. There they were fortunate enough to find the Hall auto-stage, and were soon at the school once more.

"Gee! but my arms ache!" was Fred's remark on the way. "The muscles hurt so I can hardly keep still."

"You'd better bathe them well with witch hazel or alcohol," returned Jack. "My muscles feel sore, too."

"It took the wind right out of me," came from Andy. "Funny, too—with so much wind all around," he added merrily.

"I can't help but think of how Martell and Brown treated us," said Randy, seriously. "It was as mean as dirt!"

"I believe they would have left us there to drown!" added Fred.

"Oh, I wouldn't like to think that of them," broke in Jack. "Just the same, it was a very dirty thing to do. Not on our account so much as on account of the girls."

When the boys got back, the first person they met was Spouter, who wanted to know how his cousin May had enjoyed the outing. He listened in some alarm to the story the Rovers had to relate.

"It was a narrow shave all right," was the comment. And then his face took on a stern look. "And to think Nappy Martell and Slugger Brown treated you that way! Those fellows ought to be run out of this school!"

The squall on the lake had been noticed by some of the other cadets who had been out on the river; and the news soon spread of the danger into which the Rovers and their companions had run. Gif, Ned, Walt, and several others wanted to know the particulars of the affair, and all were loud in their denunciation of the cadets who had been running the motor boat.

"Spouter is right!" declared Gif. "Those fellows ought to be run out of Colby Hall!"

"After this I want nothing more to do with them!" added Ned.

"I wonder what they would say if some of you had been drowned," remarked Walt.

"Makes me want to pitch into 'em," came from Fatty, who was present. "But then, in one way, it's a pity to dirty one's hands on such cattle as that."

Of course, the Rover boys had come in late for supper. Professor Lemm had started to find fault with Andy and Fred for this, but he was quickly stopped by Colonel Colby, who had come up to learn the particulars of what had occurred.

"I heard you were out in that big blow," remarked the colonel. "I trust none of you suffered from it."

"Well, we had rather a narrow escape," answered Fred. Then he and Andy gave a brief outline of what had happened, not forgetting to mention how Martell and Brown had left them to their fate.

"Too bad! too bad!" murmured the colonel, shaking his head slightly. "I did not think that any of our cadets would do such a thing;" and then he walked away in a very thoughtful mood.

"I wonder what he'll say to Brown and Martell," mused Fred, as, after being dismissed by Professor Lemm, they hurried to the mess hall. As they were late, they had missed the parade.

"Maybe he'll give 'em a piece of his mind. I hope he does," answered his cousin.

Nappy Martell and Slugger Brown did not appear until supper was almost over. Both had a gloomy look, as if something had gone decidedly wrong. They glared sourly at the Rover boys and their chums, and then sat down to their meal without saying a word to anybody.

"I'll wager something slipped a cog with them," whispered Fred to Jack.

"I've got an idea," returned the oldest of the Rover boys. "Maybe Jennie Mason and that other girl who were out in the motor boat gave them a piece of their mind for not aiding us."

"Oh, I hope they did, Jack!"

"It wouldn't be anything to wonder at. That Jennie Mason seemed to be a nice girl, and I don't think she would stand for any such meanness."

Jack's surmise concerning what had happened to Nappy and Slugger was correct. The two girls had pleaded with the two cadets to go back and give those in the rowboats aid. And after much argument, in which Nappy and Slugger had proved that they were anything but young gentlemen, the girls had politely asked to be taken ashore. This had brought on something of a quarrel, and in the end the two cadets had taken the girls to a dock near the lumber yards and quite a distance from Clearwater Hall.

"Now you can have the fun of walking to the school," had been Nappy Martell's final words.

"And I don't think you'll go out with us again in a hurry," Slugger Brown had added.

"I'll never go out with you again," Ida Brierley had answered.

"And I'd much prefer to walk to the school alone than to ride any further with you in the motor boat," Jennie Mason had added; and thus the four had parted, the two girls resolving in their hearts never to have anything more to do with Nappy Martell and Slugger Brown.



CHAPTER XXII

THE MEETING WITH HIXLEY HIGH

Football talk now filled the air at Colby Hall, and for the time being most of the cadets forgot about how the Rovers had been treated on the lake by Nappy Martell and Slugger Brown.

Nappy was particularly angry, because of the way he had been treated by Jennie Mason, on whom he had been sweet ever since they had become acquainted. Slugger, too, was hurt over what the girls had said about his meanness. But he was far more put out over the fact that he could act only as a substitute on the regular eleven, and that Gif Garrison had finally concluded to put Jack in his place. Fred had not won out for the first eleven, but Gif had told him he stood so high on the scrub that he might possibly make the team before the season came to an end.

"It's all those Rovers' fault," growled Slugger Brown to Martell.

"Of course it is!" was the unreasonable reply. "I'll tell you, Slug, we ought to do something to get square with those chaps."

"If I break loose and do that, it'll be something they'll remember as long as they live!" declared Slugger Brown, vehemently.

Nappy Martell looked at his crony knowingly, and then glanced around to see if anybody was listening.

"Let's do it right now, Slug," he said in a low voice. "I don't care what it is, so long as we can get the best of those Rovers."

"We'll think it over, Nap. This isn't to be any one-cent, every-day affair, you know."

"Right you are! I'm game for anything—just remember that!" added the other cadet.

As Gif Garrison had said, there were three football games scheduled for Colby Hall that Fall. The first of these was to be with Hixley High School, located in a town at the other end of the lake. Then would follow a game of more importance with the Clearwater Country Club, at their beautiful grounds on the outskirts of Haven Point. And then the last and most important game of all—that with Columbus Academy, located about ten miles away. Whether the last named game would be played at Colby Hall or at the Columbus Academy grounds, was still a question.

In a few days Jack recovered completely from the spiking he had received from Slugger Brown, and then he went at his football practice with greater vigor than ever. He took Slugger's place on the regular eleven, as already mentioned, and in his first game they beat the scrub team by a score of 32 to 12.

"Now, that's better!" declared Gif. "You didn't let the scrub walk all over you."

Fred had been on the scrub team, and, although that eleven had been defeated, he was in a rather happy frame of mind, for the reason that out of the twelve points scored he had been directly responsible for six points.

"I think Fred is going some," remarked Jack to Gif, later on when he had a chance to speak to the football captain privately.

"You're right, Jack," was the answer. "And I've got my eye on him."

The game with Hixley High was not a very important one, yet it was made the occasion for quite a gala day by not only the boys of both schools but likewise the girls attending the high school and also the young ladies of Clearwater Hall. The Rover boys and some of their chums invited Ruth and her several friends, including Jennie Mason and Ida Brierley, to be present, and this invitation was gladly accepted.

"I don't wonder that Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell look so glum occasionally," remarked Spouter to Jack the day after the invitations had been given and accepted. "I just had a talk with my cousin May, and she says Jennie Mason and Ida Brierley are through with those two cadets. They told Nappy and Slugger they thought they were nothing but cowards for the way they treated you Rovers on the lake."

"Well, I'm glad they've given up going with that pair," announced Jack.

The last game with Hixley High had been played on the grounds of that institution, so that the game this year was to take place at Colby Hall.

"You fellows will have the honor of bringing the girls over from Clearwater Hall," remarked Jack to his cousins and his chums. "I'll have to stay here and do a bit of practising."

The auto-stage and a number of automobiles and carriages had been requisitioned, and also a number of motor boats on the lake, and in these the young folks from Hixley High School and from Clearwater Hall journeyed to Colby Hall.

Jack was on the lookout for Ruth and the others, and lost no time in greeting the girl as soon as she appeared.

"I'm so glad that you're on hand to encourage us to win," said he, as he took Ruth's hand.

"Thank you. But how are you sure I am here to encourage you?" she questioned mischievously. "Maybe I'm going to root for Hixley High."

"You dare!" he returned earnestly, and then they both laughed and hurried towards the grandstand, where seats had been reserved for the entire party.

"Whoop her up for Hixley High!" was the cry. And then those in favor of the high school took up the slogan:

"Do or die! Hixley High! Hixley High!"

"They mean to win if yelling will do it," was May Powell's comment.

"Oh, I guess the cadets of Colby Hall can yell, too," responded Fred. And he was right, for a moment later there boomed out this refrain:

"Who are we? Can't you see? Colby Hall! Dum! Dum! Dum, dum, dum! Here we come with fife and drum! Colby! Colby! Colby Hall!"

And this the cadets repeated over and over again until they were hoarse.

"Well, I've got to go now," said Jack, reluctantly, as word came for the team to gather in the dressing room for final instructions.

"Good-bye then," said Ruth, sweetly. And then, looking Jack full in the eyes, she added earnestly: "Oh, I do hope you'll win!"

They were simple words, but the way in which they were spoken, and the look that accompanied them, thrilled the youth to the heart, and he went down to the dressing room on feet that seemed to be walking on air.

"Now then, boys, I expect every one of you to do his level best," said Gif. "Hixley High has been bragging everywhere that it has a superior team this year and is going to walk all over us. I want you to play with vigor from the very start;" and then followed a number of directions concerning plays and signals, to all of which his eleven listened earnestly.

When the Colby Hall team came forth, they were given a loud round of applause, and this was repeated when Hixley High showed itself. The high school boys were nearly all seniors, and a glance sufficed to show that, player for player, they were quite a few pounds heavier than the cadets.

"If our eleven wins this game they will be going some," was Fatty's whispered comment to a fellow cadet.

"You're right there," was the answer. "Those chaps certainly look pretty husky."

It is not my intention here to give the particulars of this game with Hixley High, interesting as it proved to be. It was not the big game of the season—that was to come later. During the first quarter, the playing on both sides was rather rough and ragged, each school doing its best to wear its opponent out at the very start. In these onslaughts the weight carried by Hixley High told, so that when the whistle blew the score was 6 to 3.

"Hurrah! Hurrah!" came from the supporters of the high school. And again and again they boomed out with their slogan.

"This game isn't over yet!" cried one of the followers of Colby Hall.

"We haven't begun to play yet! Just watch us in the second half!" added another cadet.

"Oh, dear! I thought Colby Hall would score, sure!" pouted Ruth.

"Those Hixley High boys are awfully big fellows," answered May.

The second quarter opened with a good deal of cheering for each side. The playing now became more settled, and the ball went back and forth from the 20-yard line on one side to the 30-yard line on the other. Then came a mix-up, in the midst of which Jack managed to get the ball and start with it for the goal.

"Rover has it!"

"Run, Jack, run! Leg it for all you're worth!"

And Jack did run, making the best of his opportunity. Three of the Hixley High players did their utmost to down him, but when the third laid him low, he was directly over the chalk mark.

"A touchdown!" was the cry from the Colby Hall cadets. And then they gave vent to their feelings by tooting their horns and sounding their rattles.

The touchdown was followed by a skilful kick for goal, and with this in their favor, Colby Hall went at the game with renewed vigor, so that when the whistle blew for the ending of the second half the score stood 13 to 6 in favor of Colby Hall.

"That's the way to do it!"

"Keep it up, boys!"

"Oh, wasn't that a splendid run by Jack?" cried Ruth, enthusiastically.

"It certainly was!" answered one of the other girls.

With the score piling up against them, Hixley High grew fairly frantic in the third quarter. As a consequence, their play became rougher than ever, and twice they had to be called to order, and once they were penalized. But their vigor told, and in spite of all Colby Hall could do to hold them back, they gained constantly, and when the end of the third quarter was reached the score was a tie.

"Thirteen to thirteen! What do you think of that?"

"Some playing, eh?"

Each side cheered its own, but many were the anxious faces when the two elevens lined up for the final quarter.

"Now then, boys, dig into them!" cried Mr. Crews, earnestly. "Show them what Colby Hall can do!"

"Watch 'em—watch 'em closely!" cautioned Gif. "They may try to pull off some new stunt at the last minute."

Once more the two teams went at it "hammer and tongs." It was certainly a battle royal, and on more than one occasion it looked as if some of the players might be seriously injured. As it was, Hixley High had to put in one substitute, and Colby Hall took on two. But the fighting blood of the cadets was now up, and with a great rush they carried the ball over the Hixley High line. They failed, however, to kick the goal, much to the regret of their followers.

"Never mind, boys," said Gif, encouragingly. "Hold 'em now! That is all I ask of you—hold 'em!"

And hold them Colby did, although the high school lads fought like demons to carry the ball across the cadets' territory. Back and forth went the play, the crowd meanwhile yelling itself hoarse. The ball was on the Colby Hall 15-yard line when the whistle blew and the game was over.

"Colby Hall wins!"

"Hurrah! Hurrah!"

Then the horns and rattles sounded out louder than ever, and in a twinkling the football field was alive with visitors, and the triumphant eleven was surrounded.



CHAPTER XXIII

TARGET PRACTICE

Colby Hall prepared for a great celebration that night in honor of their victory over Hixley High. Boxes and barrels had been stored away in anticipation of just such an occasion, and these were brought out and stacked up at a safe place along the river front.

"Bonfires to-night—and big ones, too!" cried Andy, and let off his surplusage of spirits by turning several handsprings.

"Look out, Andy!" cried Fred, "or some circus will capture you."

"Sour grapes!" retorted the fun-loving youth.

"Oh, it was grand—the way you held Hixley High back in that last quarter!" remarked Ruth to Jack. "I was so afraid they would break through and score, I could hardly wait for the whistle to blow."

"It was certainly some game!" answered Jack. "You see, they are so much heavier than we are."

The victorious eleven came in for all sorts of congratulations, and Jack was slapped on the back until the wind was almost knocked out of him. As soon as he could escape from his friends, he and the others took the girls down to a waiting automobile and set off for Clearwater Hall. On the way the young folks sang and cut up to their hearts' content, having the best possible time.

The only cadet at Colby Hall who was not elated over the victory was Slugger Brown. Even though two substitutes had been used in the game, and even though the big fellow had repented of his former decision, and agreed to play if called upon, Gif had ignored him and used a player at least ten pounds lighter in weight.

"He doesn't intend to give me a show—and that's all there is to it," remarked Slugger to Nappy Martell, bitterly.

"Well, you told him you wouldn't play unless you could go out at the start of the game," answered his crony.

"I told him that first, but afterwards I agreed to go in as a sub," growled Brown. "But I can see how it is—those Rovers have told Garrison how we acted on the lake, and so Garrison has made up his mind to ignore me entirely, even though I've got the weight and can play as good as any of them."

"Oh, I don't doubt but what it's the Rovers' fault!" retorted Martell. "And that puts me in mind—are we going to do anything to get square or not?"

"Don't worry about that, Nap—we'll do something all right enough! But I want the chance first to think up something that will be worth while," answered Slugger Brown, emphatically.

The bonfires along the river were lit directly after supper, after the cadets had received permission from Colonel Colby. The boys were allowed to do about as they pleased, the only stipulation being that they should avoid anything that might be dangerous or ungentlemanly.

With the bonfires blazing high, throwing a lurid glare over the campus and parade grounds, the cadets sang and danced and then started an impromptu parade which took them around the various buildings of the school. Many carried torches, while four had drums and bugles. There was a good deal of horseplay, and also something in the way of hazing.

"Here is where we get back at Codfish for some of his meanness!" cried Randy, as he and some of the others caught the sneak.

Then Codfish was made to stand up on an unusually large barrel and sing, after which he was told to hold out each hand for a valuable present.

"I don't want any present! I want to get down!" cried the sneak.

"Oh, this is something very valuable, Codfish," returned Randy, and winked at some of the others.

Just for the fun of it, some of the cadets had obtained some potatoes from the storehouse and started to roast these under one of the bonfires. Two of the potatoes, quite hot and black, were brought forth and thrust into Codfish's hands.

"Ouch! What do you mean by handing me red-hot potatoes!" yelled the sneak, in alarm.

"Oh, we thought you were hungry," cried one of the other cadets.

"You wanted to burn me—that's what you wanted to do!" shrieked Codfish, who, however, was far more scared than hurt. "I want to get down!"

"You've got to give us a dance first, Codfish," ordered Randy.

"That's right! Give us a jig!" put in Andy.

"Make it a Boston seven-step," suggested Jack.

"Or a Washington dip," added Fred.

A dozen of the cadets were shouting at poor Codfish to dance, and presently the excited boy commenced to shuffle his feet.

"Now jump up three times and we'll let you go!" cried Randy.

Codfish made one leap into the air and came down on the barrel top successfully. Then he tried a second leap, but, as Randy well knew, the barrel top was weak, and, with a crash, poor Codfish went down straight into the big barrel up to his armpits.

"Whoop! Codfish has busted the barrel!" cried Fred.

"What do you mean by breaking up housekeeping like that, Codfish?" demanded Andy.

"Let's do the baker act for him," went on Randy, quickly.

"The baker act?" queried several of the cadets. "What's that?"

"Don't you know the baker loves his rolls?" answered Andy, with a broad grin.

"That's the talk!" came in a shout. "Let's give Codfish a roll;" and before the sneak could save himself the barrel was tipped up on its side and sent rolling over and over towards the parade ground.

"Ouch! Let up! I'll be killed!" screamed the victim. "This barrel may have a lot of nails in it!"

"Oh, do you think that's true?" asked one of the cadets in fright.

"Nary a nail! I saw to that before we used the barrel," answered Randy. "Such a rolling won't hurt him a bit;" and the cadets continued their sport with the barrel, finally sending it down a slight hill in the direction of the river. Here it lodged against some bushes, and Codfish was allowed to crawl forth. At once he took to his heels and disappeared.

It was noticed by many that Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell had not participated in the festivities of the evening. The two had gone off for a walk, during which they smoked many cigarettes and talked over their grievances against the Rovers. On their return they were met by Codfish, who related to them his tale of woe.

"Oh, we've got to do something," was Nappy Martell's comment. "If we don't, before we know it the Rovers will be fairly running this school."

"Well, they won't run me," growled Slugger Brown.

The following Monday found the Rover boys once more hard at work over their studies. They had now settled down to the regular routine of the Hall, and were doing very well, not only in their classes, but also in their training as young soldiers. Each of them could march and handle a gun as well as anybody, and now they were given the privilege of practising at target shooting—something which interested them greatly.

"Let's get up a little match among ourselves," said Randy one day; and this was agreed upon, eight new cadets entering the contest.

The shooting was done at a target set up against a tree some distance behind the gymnasium building; and the boys did their practising under the direction of Captain Dale.

"It requires considerable practice to become an expert shot," said the military instructor. "Once in a while we find someone who is a natural-born sharpshooter, but that is very rare. Some of the best shots in the army are men who, at the start, hardly knew how to handle firearms."

At this target practice a perfect score would have netted twenty-five points. The contest went on merrily, and at the conclusion it was found that Andy had scored ten points; Randy, twelve; Jack, eighteen; and Fred, nineteen. One other cadet, a youth named Lewis Barrow, had scored twenty.

"Well, the prize goes to Barrow!" cried Jack.

"Yes. But we came pretty close to winning," cried Fred, with justifiable pride.

"You and Jack needn't complain," was Andy's comment. "Eighteen and nineteen points out of a possible twenty-five is going some, especially for beginners."

"If I win the prize, what is it?" questioned Lewis Barrow, a tall, lanky youth with a rather leathery face. He came from the far West, and knew much more about firearms than did the Rovers.

"Oh, the prize is first choice of holes in half a dozen doughnuts," snickered Andy.

"Holes in doughnuts!" replied Barrow, who was not over-bright. "Suffering buffaloes! What would a fellow do with holes out of doughnuts?" and at this there was a little laugh.

"For beginners, I think you have all done very well," remarked Captain Dale. "The lowest score, I see, is nine. Last year when the new cadets went at practice, we had several fellows who didn't hit the target."

"Gee! I'd hate to go hunting with such chaps," was Andy's dry comment. "A fellow would have to get right directly in front of 'em to be sure of not being hit;" and this remark made even the military instructor laugh.

"I'll be proud of all of you," said Major Ralph Mason, when he heard of the scores that had been made. "First thing you know, we'll have a company of genuine sharpshooters."

"This practising at a target will come in fine if we get a chance to do any hunting this winter," remarked Fred. "Wow! Just think what would have happened if that target had been a deer, or even a partridge!"

"A deer or a partridge isn't apt to stand still," returned Randy. "If you want to become expert as a hunting shot, you'll have to practise at a swinging target."

"Well, that's to come later, so Captain Dale said," was the answer.

"Say, let's go out hunting some day when the season opens!" cried Jack. "I'd like first rate to bag something, even if it were only a few rabbits."

"That's the talk!" answered Fred, quickly. "As soon as the hunting season opens let's go out, by all means."

The target practice had been witnessed by Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell. Now, when Jack and Fred spoke of hunting, Slugger Brown's face became thoughtful.

"I think I see a way to square accounts with those Rovers," he remarked to his crony. "From now on, I'm going to watch 'em pretty closely. If ever they do go out hunting, I think we'll be able to put one over on 'em they'll never forget."



CHAPTER XXIV

THE FUN OF HALLOWE'EN

"Hallowe'en to-morrow night, boys! So get ready for some real fun!"

"Right you are, Andy! Remember what fun we had last year in New York?"

"And what fun we had down on the farm two years ago, scaring Aleck Pop and Jack Ness nearly to death?" broke in Fred.

"I don't know whether they'll let us have any fun around Colby Hall or not," remarked Jack, but in such a tone of voice that all of the others knew he was fooling.

Several days had passed since the target practice, and the boys were gathered in the room used by Andy and Randy for studying. All were deep in a discussion of what they might do on Hallowe'en, when there came a knock on the door and Dan Soppinger came in.

"Excuse me for interrupting you," commenced Dan, "but I'm up against a hard proposition. Can any of you tell me——"

"Gee! the Human Question Mark is at it again!" broke out Randy.

"Certainly we can tell you," put in Andy; "but please don't ask it."

"Three and three make six, three and three always have made six, and three and three always will make six!" cried Fred in a girlish tone of voice. "So what's the use of asking a question like that?"

"Who said anything about three and three making six?" snorted the Human Question Mark. "What I was going to say was: Can any of you tell me——"

"When Nero discovered the north pole?" interrupted Andy.

"No. He wants to know when Washington first crossed the Pacific in a motor boat," came from Fred.

"No; that isn't it at all," declared Jack, seriously. "Dan wants to know what kind of an automobile Noah took on the ark."

"Great Scott! What do you take me for?" groaned Dan Soppinger, helplessly. "Here I come in to ask you a perfectly simple question, and you start with a lot of foolishness."

"Why, my dear Dan, we are helping you all we can!" cried Andy in deeply injured tones.

"I want to know when Florida was first settled and by whom!" cried Dan, desperately. "I bet ten cents none of you know!"

"Oh, that's easy, Dan," answered Andy, gravely. "Florida was first settled by the alligators, in the year one;" and at this remark there was such a burst of laughter that the Human Question Mark gave it up in despair and fled.

"I've got a great scheme for Hallowe'en," said Andy a little later. He had been walking up and down the room trying to make up his mind what they might do to have some fun. "I wonder if the girls over at Clearwater Hall wouldn't lend us some dresses and some girls' hats for the occasion."

"They might if we agreed to lend them some of our suits in exchange."

"Well, we could do that easily enough," answered Fred. "We hardly ever have a chance to wear anything these days but our uniforms."

"What do you want to do, Andy—dress up as a girl?" questioned Jack.

"That's it. We might have dead loads of fun."

The matter was discussed for a time, and in the end a boy, who often did errands for the cadets, was dispatched to Clearwater Hall with a note to Ruth and her chums. The boy had performed this sort of service before, and knew that he must deliver the note without allowing the communication to go through the school office.

The messenger returned just as the cadets were on the point of retiring, and brought back a letter from the girls in which they agreed to let the boys have what they wanted in return for some suits of male attire. It was agreed that the exchange be made in the afternoon, directly after the school session.

The Rover boys and two of their friends walked to Haven Point, and there invested some of their spending money in the hire of an automobile. Then they rode back to the school, procured several bundles of clothing, and set out for Clearwater Hall.

The girls were waiting for them at a spot secluded from observation, and there an exchange of bundles took place, interspersed with a good deal of laughing by the cadets and giggling on the part of the Clearwater pupils.

"Oh, I'd love to see you dressed up as a girl!" cried Ruth to Jack.

"How about your being dressed up as a boy?" he returned.

"Oh, none of us will dare show ourselves outside the grounds," returned Ruth, blushing. "Miss Garwood wouldn't permit it."

"Well, if we get the chance, we may come up as far as yonder side fence," put in Fred. "If we do, we'll give you the signal—three long whistles."

Nearly all of the cadets at Colby Hall were ready for Hallowe'en fun. They dressed up in all sorts of disguises, including those of monks, Indians, negroes, and ghosts. Lighted pumpkins with grinning faces cut into them were likewise numerous; and one senior trailed around in a silk gown which he had brought from home for this very occasion.

When the Rover boys appeared dressed as young ladies, with girls' hats on their heads and parasols in their hands, they were greeted with a loud cheer, and this was redoubled as they marched around the campus arm in arm with several boys dressed as dudes, and one attired as an admiral.

"Some class to the Rovers, and no mistake!" was Spouter's comment. He had on a pair of long whiskers, a linen duster, farm boots, and a big straw hat.

"How do you do, Uncle Si?" cried Andy, coming up to him and bowing. "How is corn?"

"So high, by gosh! y'u can't see the house," answered Spouter in country dialect. "Do tell, leetle gal! but y'u do look mighty purty, y'u do!" and at this there was a general snicker.

At the first opportunity, the Rovers and several of their friends slipped away from the campus and hurried off in the direction of Clearwater Hall. They were lucky enough to meet a big wagon, the driver of which was going to the next town to pick up some young folks for a straw ride. This man took them to the young ladies' school just for the sport of it.

When the Rovers gave the signal, Ruth and her friends came running towards the side fence of the grounds. All were attired in male costumes, wearing exaggerated collars, cuffs and neckties. In addition, Ruth had on a big pair of pick-toed shoes and a silk hat many years out of date. She also carried a silver-headed cane.

"Oh, don't you want to take us out for a walk?" questioned Andy, in a high-pitched, feminine voice.

"Very sorry, my dear, very sorry," came from May Powell, in as deep a voice as she could command. "I have important business to attend to."

"Oh, Jack, what an awfully big girl you do make!" screamed Ruth, when she discovered his identity behind the little mask he wore. "I didn't know you were so large."

"And what a little man you are," he answered, gaily.

"Don't say a word," she returned. "See these sleeves? They are all rolled up; and I had to do the same with the trousers," and she laughed merrily.

Although acting against the rules, the Rovers and their friends found an opening in the fence, and for a brief quarter of an hour mingled with the girls on the campus of the school. They had "a barrel of fun," to use Andy's way of expressing it, and left only because it was getting late and they knew they would have to walk all the way back to Colby Hall.

"This is about the best Hallowe'en fun we ever had," remarked Jack, while he and the others were on the return to the school.

To make time, the boys did not take the regular road through Haven Point to Colby Hall, but tramped along a back highway which was considered something of a short cut. This presently brought them in sight of a large farm which belonged to a hard-fisted man named Elias Lacy.

"Say, we ought to call on old Lacy and give him a scare," said Randy, coming to a halt near the farmhouse.

"It would serve him right!" answered Fred, promptly.

None of the Rovers had a kindly feeling for Elias Lacy, for the reason that the old man had once caught them getting chestnuts from a tree on the corner of his farm and had made them give up all the nuts they had gathered and had then threatened them with the law if they dared to set foot on his premises again.

"I know you cadets," he had snarled. "You are all a pack of petty thieves! I want you to keep away from here."

He had suffered a great deal, some cadets, including Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell, having at various times robbed him of his cherries, his strawberries, and some melons. Of these depredations, however, the Rovers knew nothing.

"Maybe Lacy isn't around," remarked Jack. "He may have gone to town."

They knew that the old man was a bachelor. He had two young men working for him, and also a woman who came in during the day to do the housework, but all of these went home at night.

"I see somebody moving around the house now," answered Randy. "It's Lacy, too!"

"Let's knock on the door and pretend we are young ladies in distress," cried Randy. "Come on! I wonder what he'll do?"

"Don't ask him for any money. He won't give you a cent," chuckled Fred.

"Let's tell him some tramps stopped us and that we want him to go out and fight the fellows," suggested one cadet. "That will show how brave a man Lacy is. We can take off our masks."

So it was arranged, and in a minute more the boys were all on the front piazza of the farmhouse ringing the old doorbell. There was a sound within, and in a moment more Elias Lacy came to the door with a lamp in one hand.

"What do you want?" he asked in astonishment, when he saw what looked to be a number of well-dressed girls confronting him.

"Oh, Mr. Lacy, won't you please protect us?" pleaded Randy, in his best feminine voice.

"Three murderous tramps are after us!" gasped Andy. "Oh, dear! I know I shall faint!"

"The tramps wanted to rob us!" cried Jack.

"They are just outside your fence," put in Fred. "Please go out and chase them away."

Elias Lacy was staggered. He placed his lamp on a little table near by, and looked in wonder at the crowd before him.

"Three tramps, eh? An' goin' to rob you? Why, I never heard of sech a thing!" he shrilled. "Mebbe I'd better git my gun."

"Oh, yes! yes! Get your gun, by all means! Get your gun! And maybe you'd better get a sword, too!" cried Randy.

"Yes! Or a knife or a—a—razor," put in Andy.

"Now, now! don't git so excited!" cried the old man, for the boys insisted upon clinging to his arms and to his shoulders. "Them tramps ain't goin' to eat you up."

He was short-sighted, and, as the lamplight was poor, he had not noticed the boys' somewhat crude make-up. He hurried into a room and came forth presently carrying a shotgun. Then he walked back into his kitchen.

"Great Caesar! he's got his gun all right enough," said Jack in a low voice.

"Maybe he'll use it on us when he discovers the trick," returned Fred.

"I'll git my lantern, an' then we kin go after them tramps," announced Elias Lacy; and in a moment more he reappeared with a smoky lantern and started for the front door. "Come on, an' show me where them tramps are," he said, determinedly.



CHAPTER XXV

OFF ON A HUNT

"Say, as soon as we are outdoors let us give him the ha-ha and run away," whispered Fred to the others.

"Oh, no! Let's have some more fun," pleaded Randy. "Why! the sport has just begun!"

"That's it!" came from his twin.

"Don't forget we are due at the Hall," remonstrated Jack.

"Now then, show me them tramps!" cried Elias Lacy, as the whole crowd went outdoors and towards the front gate.

"Oh, protect us! Please protect us!" shrieked Randy, and caught hold of the old man's coat-tails.

"Don't let the tramps abduct us! I don't want to live with any tramp! I want to marry a millionaire!" screamed Andy, and began to cling so close to Elias Lacy that the old man could hardly move forward.

The twins cut up so that the others had all they could do to keep from laughing. One boy began to snicker, but promptly clapped his hand over his mouth.

"Don't hang on to me," ordered the old farmer. "I can't use my gun if you clutch my arm like that," and he tried to shake the twins off.

"Oh, there they are—behind the bushes!" screamed Randy, suddenly, pointing off to the left.

"Where?" demanded the old man, holding his lantern over his head. "I don't see nothin'."

"There they are!" screamed Andy. "They've got pistols, too! Oh, save us! Save us!"

"Drat the pesky rascals! I'll fix 'em!" snarled Elias Lacy, and, shaking loose the clinging boys, he ran off, lantern in one hand and shotgun held up to his shoulder with the other.

"Now is our time to skip out!" cried Jack.

"Right you are!" added another of the crowd. And then without waiting for the rest, this cadet let up a cry: "Sold! Mr. Lacy, you are sold!"

"Sold! With the compliments of the Colby Hall cadets!" cried another. And then, seeing that the disguise was at an end, the boys began to shout a variety of things not at all complimentary to the old farmer.

Elias Lacy was thunderstruck by the sudden turn of affairs, and, wheeling around, he stared in open-mouthed wonder at the retreating girlish figures.

"What's that?" he shrilled. "What are you runnin' away fur?"

"Good-bye, Mr. Lacy!" sang out Randy. "We're only having a little fun."

"Don't you know it's Hallowe'en?" queried Andy; and then started to walk off on his hands, but the dress he wore fell down around him and caused him to tumble over on his back. In the gloom, Fred stumbled and fell on top of him.

"Fun! Hallowe'en!" bellowed Elias Lacy, and of a sudden he became filled with rage. "You ain't gals at all! You're only playin' a trick on me!" he snarled.

"Good-bye and pleasant dreams!" shouted Randy.

"Don't tell any of your friends about the young ladies who called on you," advised Jack.

And then the other cadets made various taunting remarks. They had come to a halt to enjoy the old farmer's discomfiture and at the same time to give Andy and Fred a chance to regain their feet.

"Halt!" suddenly commanded Elias Lacy, and set down his lantern on a fence post. "Halt! or I'll shoot some of you!" and he aimed his shotgun at them.

"Don't shoot!" cried several of the cadets in alarm, for they could see that the old man was in a frame of mind to do almost anything.

"Stop! Don't you dare stir a step or I'll shoot as sure as you're standin' there!" continued the old man. And then, as all of the boys halted he went on: "Now come up here where I kin git a good look at you, but don't you come too clost or try to play any more tricks. If you do, somebody'll sure git shot."

There was no help for it, and rather sheepishly the crowd of cadets came forward as he had ordered.

"It was only a bit of Hallowe'en fun. We didn't mean any harm," pleaded Randy.

"Take them bunnets an' things off so I kin see your faces," ordered the old man, at the same time keeping the crowd covered with his shotgun.

With great reluctance one after another the cadets took off their veils and hats. The old man came a step or two closer, looking at each face sharply. His countenance grew even more hateful when he recognized the Rovers.

"Ha! you're the same fellers who robbed my chestnut tree," he snarled. "Didn't I tell you to keep off my premises? I've a good mind to have you locked up."

"Oh, come, Mr. Lacy, it was only a bit of fun," pleaded one lad. "Didn't you go out on Hallowe'ens when you were a boy?"

"No, I didn't! I stayed home an' done my work," was the harsh reply. "Nowadays boys cut up altogether too much."

Had it not been for the shotgun the boys would have taken to their heels; but with the old man thus armed none of them wanted to take any chances. But then came a lucky interruption. From back on the farm came a wild bellowing as if a cow was in trouble. This was followed by the squealing of a number of pigs.

"Hello! Those town boys must have come over after your cattle after all!" cried Jack, struck by a sudden idea.

"My cattle! What do you know about my cattle?" questioned Elias Lacy, quickly.

"That's it! The town boys are after the cows and pigs!" broke in Fred, quick to catch Jack's idea.

"You'll lose them all if you don't look out, Mr. Lacy!" put in Randy.

"They sha'n't tech my cows, nor my pigs neither!" snarled the old farmer; and, taking up his lantern, he left the cadets and ran off towards the rear of the premises. Fortunately, nothing serious had happened to his stock.

"Now's the time to skip out!" cried Jack, and led the way, and the others lost no time in following. The cadets had to hold their skirts high to keep from tripping as they sped along. They reached Colby Hall in safety, and lost no time in rejoining their friends. A little later the Hallowe'en celebration came to an end.

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