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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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"Old Lacy will remember us," was Andy's comment, in speaking of the affair the next day. "He'll have it in for us."

"I'm afraid so," replied Jack, seriously.

The main topic of conversation at the school now was the football game which was to take place with the eleven of the Clearwater Country Club on the following Saturday. This was another gala occasion for the school, and once more the boys had the pleasure of escorting the girls to and from the conflict.

"I hope we can do them up as we did Hixley High," remarked Jack. But this was not to be. The Clearwater Country Club eleven were much older than the cadets and much heavier, and all the Colby Hall team could do was to hold them down to a score of 16 to 10.

"Well, that's not so bad but what it might be worse," remarked Gif, when the defeated eleven had returned to Colby Hall. "I did hope, however, that we might hold them to at least a tie."

"They carried too much weight for us," replied Jack. "Even Slugger Brown couldn't do anything against them." For Slugger had been used as a substitute in the third and fourth quarters. But the big cadet had failed to show either form or efficiency. He had been warned by the umpire, because of an unfair tackle, and this had put him in anything but a good humor.

"I won't play again so long as Gif Garrison is captain!" cried Slugger to Nappy Martell; and that evening he sent in his resignation, which Gif promptly accepted.

The game with Columbus Academy was not to take place until two weeks later, so that, although they kept at their practice, the football players had considerable time for other things. Jack and his cousins had continued their target practice, and their shooting was now so accurate that Captain Dale complimented them upon it.

"The hunting season opens to-morrow," announced Jack one day, as he came back from an errand to the town. "How I'd like to go out and try my luck!"

"I'd like to go myself," spoke up Fred.

A number of the senior cadets had received permission to go hunting and Jack spoke to one of these youths about the prospects.

"I'd like first rate to have you come with me, Rover," said the cadet, Frank Newberry by name; "and if your cousin Fred wants to come along, he can do so."

"We'd have to get permission first, and also permission to use a couple of the shotguns," answered Jack. The gun rack at Colby Hall boasted a number of these weapons, but none of them could be taken out and used without special permission from Captain Dale.

It was no easy matter for Jack and Fred to gain the desired permission, but when Colonel Colby heard from Captain Dale what good shots the boys had proved to be, he said they might go out, along with Frank Newberry and some of the others.

"But I want you to be very careful," said the colonel impressively. "I wouldn't have an accident happen to you for the world. Don't fire a charge until you are absolutely sure of what you're firing at. Never point your gun at anybody else; and be very careful how you handle your weapon in climbing a fence or leaping over rocks or brushwood."

The twins were a bit envious over the prospects for their cousins, but they wished Jack and Fred the best of luck. All of the cadets who were to go out had lessons in the morning, but they departed directly after dinner, and were told that they could remain out as long as they pleased.

"Now, don't forget to bring back a deer or a bear," cried Andy.

"And if you can, bag a buffalo or a hippopotamus," added his twin.

"We'll be lucky if we bag some rabbits and a squirrel or two or some woodcock," answered Jack. "Big game doesn't exist around here any more. The farms are too thick."

"Well, be sure and bring down a pink canary bird, anyway," advised Andy; and at this there was a general laugh.

Frank Newberry had been out the year before, and consequently knew much about the lay of the land.

"We'll go down into the woods directly back of Haven Point," he announced. "Last year the hunting there was much better than it was up the Rick Rack River."

And then off the cadets started on the hunt. Much that was unusual lay in store for them.



CHAPTER XXVI

FROM ONE TROUBLE TO ANOTHER

Half an hour of tramping brought the two Rover boys and their friends into the heart of the big woods Frank Newberry had mentioned. They had entered it by way of the road they had used on Hallowe'en, and were now almost directly behind Elias Lacy's farm. In fact, although they were not aware of this, a large section of the woods belonged to the old farmer.

On their way into the timber they had heard various shots at a distance, showing that other hunters were abroad. Then came a report so close at hand, it made Fred jump.

"You want to be very careful so that you don't mistake some other hunter for game," cautioned Frank Newberry.

"Exactly!" grumbled Fred. "And I want the other hunters to be careful that they don't shoot me for a deer or a bear."

The cadets continued to advance into the woods, and then crossed an open space. Here they were fortunate enough to stir up quite a few rabbits, and Jack, after an hour's hunt, had the pleasure of bringing down two, while one was laid low by Fred.

So far the cadets had kept together, but presently the party managed to catch sight of game in two directions, and soon Frank Newberry and the seniors with him were hurrying off to the southward while the Rover boys went after game that had gone northward.

"Come right back to this spot!" cried Frank Newberry to the Rovers.

"All right," answered Jack.

Their sporting blood, aroused by the game already brought down, urged Jack and Fred forward, and almost before they knew it they had covered a long distance. They presently came to another clearing, bordering a good-sized pond. Here they stirred up half a dozen rabbits and also some squirrels, and each succeeded in bringing down more than half the game sighted.

"Say, this is the finest sport ever!" declared Fred, as he looked at his game with deep satisfaction. "Won't the others envy us when we get back to the Hall with these!"

"It's sport enough for us," returned Jack. "I don't know what the rabbits and squirrels think about it though," he added dryly.

From a distance the boys had seen more game and they began to circle the pond. Then they heard a strange whirring in some bushes a distance further on.

"Maybe we'll come across some wild turkeys or something like that," said Fred.

"I don't believe there are any wild turkeys around here," answered Jack.

"Oh! wouldn't it be fine if we sighted a deer or a bear?" sighed Fred.

"You don't want much for your money, do you?" laughed his cousin. "I rather think if a bear came after you you'd take to your heels."

"Maybe I would—if he was a big one."

On and on went the two boys, and presently were rewarded by the sight of several small woodcock. Both fired almost at the same instant, and two of the birds came fluttering down, to thrash around in the bushes until put out of misery by the young hunters.

"Two of 'em! Think of that!" chuckled Fred. "Oh! this is simply glorious!"

So far the two boys had not met any of the strange hunters, but now they came across two men well loaded down with rabbits. They did not know it, but one of the men was a farm hand employed by Elias Lacy.

"You'd better keep away from the Lacy place," said the man, with a sarcastic look at the Rovers. He had been on hand when the lads had had the chestnuts taken away by the old farmer, and had also heard about the joke on Hallowe'en.

"Don't you worry. We've no use for Mr. Lacy," returned Fred, crossly.

"He's the meanest man we ever met," added Jack. At this the farm hand only grinned, and then he and his companion disappeared once more into the woods.

So far the day had been typical of the Autumn season, somewhat gray, with only an occasional showing of the sun. Now, however, it became rapidly darker, and presently a few flakes of snow sifted down through the air.

"Hello! What do you know about this!" cried Jack, looking up. "I guess we're going to have a snowstorm."

"Oh, I hope it doesn't snow very heavily—at least not until we get back to school," returned Fred, quickly.

"A little snow won't hurt us, Fred."

"But if it got too thick, Jack, we might lose our way."

"I don't believe it will come down as heavily as all that—not at this season of the year."

With the sky growing darker, and the flakes of snow coming down thicker than ever, the two boys sought to retrace their steps in the direction of the pond. But in their eagerness to sight something at which to shoot, they had not noted their path very carefully, and as a consequence they now found themselves somewhat bewildered.

"If the sun was only out we'd know in what direction to steer," remarked Jack. "But when the sky is this way, a fellow is apt to get completely turned around."

"It's too bad we didn't bring a pocket compass."

"That's true. However, we haven't got one, so we'll have to make the best of it. Come on!"

They had paused for a moment to rest and to survey their surroundings. Now they continued their tramping, and at length came out on the edge of a sheet of water which they at first took to be the pond they had previously visited.

"There they go! Quick, Jack!" sang out Fred, and blazed away with his shotgun. His cousin followed suit, and soon they found they had bagged two additional rabbits—one the largest yet brought low.

"This isn't the pond at all!" cried Jack, in some disappointment, after the excitement of shooting the rabbits had subsided. "I never saw this spot before."

"Nor I! What do you make of it, Jack?"

"Don't ask me! It looks as if we were lost."

"Hark! I heard a shot!" cried Fred, a minute later, while the pair were looking around trying to make up their minds in what direction to proceed next. "Maybe those are our fellows shooting."

The shot had come from their right, and was presently followed by another. Thinking their friends might be close at hand, the Rovers started off as well as they could through the brushwood and between the trees. But then they came to some rough ground covered with rocks, and here further progress was all but impossible. In the meanwhile, no further reports had reached their ears.

"We are sure up against it," remarked Jack, after he and his cousin had looked at each other rather helplessly. It was darker than ever, and the snow still continued to sift down through the trees.

"Maybe we'll have to stay out here all night," said Fred, after consulting his watch. "It's half past five now."

"We ought to be on the way back to the Hall if we expect any supper," replied his cousin.

Being unable to advance further in that direction, the Rover boys sought to retrace their steps, and after considerable trouble managed to return to the sheet of water they had left a while before. But by this time the darkness of night had fallen.

"It's no use!" cried Fred, helplessly. "We're lost, that's all there is to it!"

"It was bad enough while it was daylight, Fred. I really don't know what we are going to do now it's dark," answered Jack, seriously.

On the return to the little pond Fred had stumbled over some tree roots, and this had lamed him a little.

"I can't walk very much further," he said, with a sigh. And then he added quickly: "Jack, have you any matches?"

"Oh, yes! I put a box in my pocket before we started."

"Good! Then if we have to stay here we can build a fire and maybe cook something."

The boys tried the water of the pond, and finding it fairly good drank their fill. Then they sat down to discuss the situation. Both were hungry, and in the end they gathered some dry sticks, started a fire, and cooked one of the rabbits and also a squirrel, which they ate with much satisfaction.

"We'll freeze to death if we stay here all night," was Fred's dismal comment.

"Oh, no—not if we keep the fire going."

"Then let's do that by all means. It will not only keep us warm, but it may be the means of directing somebody to this place."

It was a long night for both of the boys. They took turns at resting and at replenishing the fire, and it is doubtful if either of them got much real sleep. Once, in the early morning, came an alarm, and Fred imagined a bear was in the bushes. But the animal, or whatever it was, soon went away, and that was the end of the disturbance.

"Thank goodness! it has stopped snowing!" remarked Jack, when the cousins were preparing a breakfast of another squirrel.

The snow had not amounted to much, being less than an inch in depth. The storm had cleared away entirely, and at the proper time the sun came up over the hills beyond Clearwater Lake.

Long before that time the two young hunters were once more on their way. They had tramped along for fully half an hour when suddenly Jack let up a shout of joy.

"Hurrah! we've struck a road at last! Now we'll find out where we are!"

The road was little more than a trail through the woods, evidently made by the wagon or sled of some woodcutter. It ran down a slight hill, and the two boys lost no time in following it.

"I hope it brings us into Haven Point," remarked Fred, as they strode along. "I'm getting tired of walking and of carrying the shotgun. I'd rather have a ride."

"Let us be thankful to get out of the woods, Fred. We might have gotten so mixed up that we'd have had to spend another night there."

The two lads continued to follow the woods road, and presently came into sight of several farm buildings, including a corncrib and a long, low cowshed.

"Oh, for the love of doughnuts!" cried Jack an instant later. "Fred, do you know where we are?"

"No, I don't. Where?"

"Right in the back of old Lacy's place! There is his house;" and the oldest Rover boy pointed with his hand.

"You're right, Jack! Gee! we almost ran into the old man again, didn't we?" gasped Fred. "We had better get out of here as quick as we can!"

"Now you're saying something!" returned his cousin. "Come on, before he catches sight of us!"

The two boys had just started to leave the road on which they had been traveling when a shout reached their ears. The next moment another shout rent the frosty morning air, and then two men came running towards the lads, one carrying a gun and the other a pitchfork.

"Stop there! you young rascals! Stop!" roared out the voice of Elias Lacy. "Stop, I tell you! Caleb, cover 'em with your gun!"

"I'm doin' it, Mr. Lacy," replied the other man, and leveled his gun at the boys. He was the same man the Rovers had met in the woods the afternoon before.

With the weapon of the farm hand pointed at them the two Rover boys came to a halt. In a minute more the others came up, Elias Lacy puffing because of his exertions.

"Now I've caught you!" he snarled. "I didn't think it was goin' to be so easy."

"You're certainly in luck, Mr. Lacy," grinned Caleb Boggs. "I didn't think they'd stay roun' here after doin' it."

"They came back jest to have the laugh on me!" snarled the old farmer. "I know 'em! I s'pose they did it 'cause I took them chestnuts away from 'em, an' on account o' the way I treated 'em Hallowe'en night. But I'll fix 'em now! I'll have the law on 'em! I'll send 'em to state's prison for ten years! Jest you see if I don't!" and thus the old man spluttered on, saying many things the boys could not understand.

"See here, Mr. Lacy! What are you so mad about?" queried Jack, finally. "Can't you stand a little fun?"

"Stand a little fun!" yelled the excited old man, fairly beside himself with rage. "It ain't no fun to kill two o' my cows!" He shook his bony fist at the boys. "I'll have the law on you, so I will! I'll send you both to state's prison for ten years!"



CHAPTER XXVII

ELIAS LACY'S DEMAND

The two Rover boys stared at Elias Lacy in open-mouthed amazement.

"What did you say about killing two cows?" questioned Jack.

"Have two of your cows been killed?" came from Fred.

At these questions the old farmer seemed to become more enraged than ever. He raised his pitchfork as if to use it on the cadets.

"You can't play innercent with me!" he fairly screamed. "I know you! You shot them cows, an' I'm a-goin' to send you to state's prison fur it!"

"It's a purty serious business—killin' a man's cattle like that," added Caleb Boggs, with a shake of his head. He still held his shotgun so as to cover the two boys.

"I don't know a thing about your cows, and I certainly haven't shot at them," answered Jack, indignantly.

"We haven't been anywhere near your cow pasture, or your cowshed, either," said Fred. "We've been hunting up in the woods yonder. Your man saw us."

"We got lost up there after it began to snow, and we had to camp out all night," explained Jack. "We just found that road and were trying to get back to Haven Point and Colby Hall."

"It ain't so! It ain't so!" snarled Elias Lacy. "You come over to my cow paster yesterday afternoon an' shot both o' them cows and then you run away. One o' my men seen you."

"He never did!" burst out Jack. "I tell you we weren't near your place."

"We went out hunting with a number of other cadets, and we can prove it!" added his cousin.

"Huh! where are them other cadets now?" demanded the old farmer.

"We got separated in the woods—they going off for some rabbits in one direction and we going off after some other rabbits in another direction," explained the oldest Rover boy. "I don't know where those other cadets are now. Probably they went back to the school."

"You ain't got no right to hunt on my grounds."

"We were out in the open woods, Mr. Lacy, where we had a perfect right to be."

"Well, we won't talk about that now," snarled the old man. "I'm a-goin' to fix you for shootin' them cows. They was two of the best cows I had, an' they was wuth a lot o' money."

A wordy war followed, during which the boys became almost as angry as the old farmer. They insisted upon it that they had not been near his farm during the afternoon of the day before, but he did not believe a word they said.

"I'm a-goin' to have the law on you!" he cried. "I'm a-goin' to have you arrested! An' I'll make your folks pay fur them cows!"

"Hadn't we better march 'em down to the barn?" suggested the hired man. "Then I kin hitch up the horses and we kin take 'em down to the town lock-up."

"Oh, Jack, don't let them lock us up!" whispered Fred, in horror.

"If you lock us up, Mr. Lacy, you'll suffer for it," said Jack. "I'll get my father to sue you for damages."

"Don't you talk to me like that, you young whipper-snapper!" cried the old man. "I know what I'm a-doin'. I'm a-goin' to turn you over to the town authorities, an' that's all there is to it!"

The old man was obdurate, and he and the hired man forced the boys into the barn, where the farmer stood guard with the shotgun while the hired man hooked up a team of horses to one of the farm wagons. Then the lads were told to get into the turnout.

"I don't think I'll get in," said Jack.

"Yes, you will!" snarled Elias Lacy; and then followed a lively scuffle. But the two boys were no match for the men, and they were quickly disarmed. Then, being covered by the hired man's shotgun, they had to get up into the wagon. The hired man drove, while Elias Lacy sat in the rear, the shotgun ready for action so that the boys might not escape. Their own guns, along with their game, were placed on the bottom of the wagon under a blanket.

It must be confessed that Jack and Fred were in no enviable frame of mind as the wagon with the two prisoners aboard headed in the direction of Haven Point. They knew that news of their arrest would spread rapidly, and they wondered what their friends, and especially the girls at Clearwater Hall, would think of it.

"Gee, but we're in a pickle!" commented Fred, dismally.

"Yes. And the worst of it is, I don't know how we are going to clear ourselves," answered his cousin. "As near as I can learn, those cows were shot while you and I were off by ourselves in the woods. The hired man says the other man who works on the place saw two cadets disappearing between the trees."

"Who can those fellows be, Jack?"

"Don't ask me! Probably two of our fellows who have some grudge against Lacy."

This talk was carried on in an undertone, so that neither the old farmer nor his hired man could understand what was said.

"You needn't plan no trick to escape," warned Elias Lacy, raising his shotgun slightly.

"Mr. Lacy, what did you do with the two cows that were shot?" asked Jack, suddenly.

"I left 'em out in the paster, right where they fell," returned the old farmer. "I ain't a-goin' to tech 'em till the authorities have looked 'em over."

"Were they killed with bird shot or with rifle bullets?"

"Bird shot—same as you've been a-usin' in them shotguns of yourn."

A portion of the roadway leading into Haven Point was being repaired and was closed off; so, in order to get down into the town, they had to make something of a detour in the direction of Colby Hall.

"Oh, Jack, hadn't we better ask him to take us to the Hall first?" whispered Fred to his cousin. "Maybe Colonel Colby can fix this up for us."

"I might ask him," returned Jack, in a low tone.

"I ain't a-goin' to Colby Hall," snarled Elias Lacy, after the question had been put to him. "I'm a-goin' to take you to the lock-up."

The journey towards the town was continued, and presently those in the wagon came within sight of a rural free delivery turnout.

"Hello there, Pete! Got any letters for us?" sang out the farm hand.

"One fur Mr. Lacy," replied the post carrier, and, driving closer, he handed it over.

"I ain't got no time to read letters now," announced Elias Lacy, as he thrust the communication into his pocket. "I've got other business to 'tend to."

"Givin' a couple of the Colby cadets a ride, eh?" ventured the carrier.

"I'm a-takin' 'em to the lock-up, Pete. They went an' shot two o' my cows."

"You don't say, 'Lias!" cried the carrier in amazement. "Out huntin' I s'pose, and mistook 'em for deer or bears," and he chuckled over his little joke.

"No; they done it a-purpose," growled the farmer. "They held a grudge agin me, an' they thought they was a-goin' to git square. But I'll show 'em, an' don't you forgit it!"

"We didn't shoot his cows!" came simultaneously from Jack and Fred.

"Bad business! But I've got to be on my way," commented the carrier. "That road bein' closed puts me away off my regular route;" and off he drove.

Three quarters of the distance to Haven Point had been covered when those in the wagon heard a shout, and a moment later Captain Dale came galloping up on horseback.

"Where in the world have you two cadets been?" he cried. "We have been looking all over for you."

"We got lost in the woods and had to camp out all night," explained Jack, and then added: "Did the others get back?"

"Oh, yes. And they fully expected that you would follow them." And then, seeing a peculiar look on the boys' faces, the military instructor of Colby Hall continued: "Nothing wrong, I hope?"

"Yes, there is—a whole lot wrong!" cried Elias Lacy, before the cadets could answer. "They sneaked up to my farm an' shot two o' my cows."

"Impossible!" exclaimed the military man.

"No, it ain't! It's so!" shrilled the old farmer. "They killed the cows, an' I'm on my way to put 'em in the Haven Point lock-up."

"Oh, Captain Dale, don't let him have us arrested!" pleaded Fred. "We do not know anything about his cows, and we certainly did not shoot them."

"Tell me all about this," demanded Captain Dale. And in a highly excited fashion, Elias Lacy told his story, which was corroborated by his hired man.

"Now I'll hear what you have to say," said the captain, turning to Jack and Fred.

They gave him the particulars of what had happened, just as they had already related them to the old farmer. Then Captain Dale asked them a number of questions. Elias Lacy interrupted continually.

"I ain't a-goin' to stand no nonsense," said the old man doggedly. "I'm a-goin' to put 'em in the lock-up, an' do it right now!"

"Mr. Lacy, allow me to tell you something," said the military instructor coolly. "If these boys are guilty you will be justified in having them placed under arrest. But if they are not guilty—and they claim they are innocent—you'll make yourself liable for a big suit for damages."

"I don't care! I know they shot them cows!"

"No, you don't know it. You admit that the farm hand who saw the two cadets did not recognize them. In fact, he wasn't altogether sure that they were cadets. Now, these boys claim they were nowhere near your pasture lot when the cows were shot. I think the best thing you can do is to let them return to the Hall with me. Colonel Colby is away to-day, but I will take the matter up with him just as soon as he returns."

"Mebbe if I let 'em go to the Hall, they'll run away," answered Elias Lacy. The mention of a possible lawsuit for damages had taken some of the aggressiveness out of him.

"I will see to it that they do not run away," answered Captain Dale. "We have a guardroom at the Hall—a sort of lock-up; and if it is necessary I will have them placed there until Colonel Colby can investigate, and until you can make up your mind what you want to do."

The old farmer argued the matter for several minutes, but in the end agreed to let the military instructor take charge of Jack and Fred.

"But remember," he said in parting, "you've got to keep 'em under lock an' key till I see Colonel Colby. I'm a-goin' to make an investigation, an' I'm purty sure I'll be able to prove that they killed them cows."



CHAPTER XXVIII

IN THE GUARDROOM

"What in the world do you suppose has become of them, Randy?"

"I give it up! I hope they only lost their way and didn't have some kind of an accident."

"Oh, don't speak of an accident!" cried Andy in horror. "It makes me shiver to think of it."

"I can't understand why they didn't rejoin us as they promised to do," said Frank Newberry, who was present. "We looked all over for them, and fired one or two shots to attract their attention, but it was all useless."

The twins had passed a restless night following the continued absence from the school of their cousins. Early in the morning they had gone out in company with Gif and Spouter, and covered many miles in a vain search for the absent ones. They could not settle down to their class work, and so were excused by Professor Brice.

"Well, I've got to be getting back to the classroom," remarked Frank Newberry, presently, and he and several others who were present hurried away, leaving the twins to themselves.

The boys walked down the roadway which had been followed by the hunters the day before. They had covered only a short distance when they saw a farm wagon approaching, with Captain Dale beside it on his horse.

"There they are!" cried Andy, and an instant later added in amazement: "Old Lacy and one of his men are with them!"

"Yes. And I bet that spells trouble for Jack and Fred," announced his brother.

The old farmer would not stop for the boys on the roadside, but drove directly to the Colby Hall entrance.

"Why! what's the matter?" exclaimed Randy to the military instructor.

"A little trouble, boys," was Captain Dale's answer. "You'll hear about it later." And then he went after the wagon, and the boys took to their heels and followed.

"Now then, you do what you promised!" snapped Elias Lacy, after Jack and Fred had jumped from the wagon. "Don't let 'em run away, nohow!"

"You can rest assured that I will take care of them, Mr. Lacy," answered the captain coldly.

"When do you expect Colonel Colby back?"

"Some time this afternoon."

"Then I guess I'll be back by that time to see him. An' I guess I'll be able to prove them boys is guilty, too."

"Why, Jack! what is it all about?" demanded Randy, while his twin looked on questioningly. The boys' shotguns and game had been taken from the farm wagon, and now the pair from the Lacy farm drove away.

"You've got to search me!" declared Jack. "Old Lacy accuses Fred and me of shooting two of his cows."

"You didn't do it, though, did you?" queried Andy.

"Certainly not!" burst out Fred. "All we know about it is what he has told us. We weren't even near the pasture where the cows were kept."

As well as they were able, Jack and Fred explained the situation to their cousins and also answered a number of questions put to them by Captain Dale. The military instructor was much puzzled over the situation, and hardly knew what to do.

"You heard what I promised Mr. Lacy," he said finally. "I'll have to place you in the guardroom until Colonel Colby gets back. But I imagine you would rather be kept there than let Mr. Lacy take you down to the town lock-up."

"It isn't fair to lock us up at all," grumbled Fred. "We have done no wrong. Of course we stayed away from the Hall over night, but that couldn't be helped. It was no fun staying outdoors on such a cold night without shelter."

"Can't you parole us, Captain?" queried Jack.

"No. I gave Mr. Lacy my word that I would lock you up, and I'll have to do it. I'll see to it, however, that you suffer no discomforts while you are in the guardroom."

After this there seemed no help for it, and, turning their guns and game over to the twins, Jack and Fred followed Captain Dale through one of the lower corridors and then into a wing of the building. Here there was a room about twelve feet square, the one window of which was barred, and this was known officially as the school guardroom, or prison.

"You may wash up if you care to do so, and I will send you some breakfast," announced Captain Dale, and then left them in the room, locking the door behind him.

The apartment was but scantily furnished, containing an iron cot, a couple of stools, a table, and, in one corner, a wash bowl with running water. There was a small steam radiator in the room, and this the boys lost no time in turning on, for the air was damp and cold.

"This is a fine prospect, truly," remarked Fred, as he sank down on one of the stools. "I wonder how long we'll have to stay in this hole."

"That remains to be seen, Fred. I wish Colonel Colby were here. I think he would give us some good advice—being such an old friend of our fathers."

"Gee! I'd hate to have him send a letter home telling the folks that we were guilty of shooting a farmer's cows."

"So would I. I don't see how we are going to clear ourselves. You can bet Lacy will make out the blackest possible case against us."

After their outing in the woods the boys were glad enough to wash themselves. They had hardly finished when one of the waiters of the Hall came in with a large tray filled with an appetizing breakfast.

"This isn't so bad," declared Jack, when they had been left once more alone. The boys ate heartily, yet they were so much troubled that it is not likely the food did them any good.

The report soon circulated throughout Colby Hall that Jack and Fred had been placed under arrest, and many of the cadets wanted to know what it meant.

"They've been arrested for shooting two of old Lacy's cows!" said Codfish, who had heard the news and had started to circulate it as quickly as possible. "They say old Lacy is going to send them to state's prison for it."

"Spikeless mosquitoes!" cried Fatty. "Do you think they really went over there and shot the cows?"

"I don't know, I'm sure," answered Walt Baxter, who was present. "I know they didn't bear old Lacy much good-will. They felt rather raw over the way the old man held 'em up with his shotgun when they were having their Hallowe'en fun."

"Yes. And they were down on Lacy because he once took away some chestnuts they had gathered from one of his trees," put in another cadet.

"Shooting cows is rather a serious business," was Bart White's comment.

This talk took place on the campus. Down in the gymnasium another group of cadets had gathered, including Nappy Martell and Slugger Brown.

"Locked up for killing old Lacy's cows, eh?" cried Martell, with a satisfied grin on his face. "They'll catch it for that, all right enough!"

"I don't see why Colonel Colby don't fire 'em out of the school for it," said Slugger Brown.

"Maybe he will dismiss 'em if he finds out the report is true," ventured another cadet.

"Of course the report is true!" put in Codfish, who had come up. "Didn't one of the hired men see 'em do it?"

"Is that so, Codfish?"

"So they say."

"Oh, it would be just like those Rovers to do something like that," came from Nappy Martell. "They are that kind of fellows."

"I always thought they were pretty good chaps," was the comment of another cadet.

"Good chaps!" sneered Slugger Brown. "That shows you don't know 'em as well as we do. They are sneaks—all of 'em—and wouldn't hesitate a minute to do anything underhanded. I hope Colonel Colby gets after them and fires 'em out;" and then, with a knowing look at Martell, Slugger passed on, and presently his crony followed him.

A good deal of this talk drifted to the ears of the Rover twins and hurt them not a little. But they were in no position to combat what was said.

"Of course we know Jack and Fred are innocent," remarked Randy to his brother. "But in a court of law it is one thing to know it and quite another thing to prove it."

"Yet I've always heard it said that a man was innocent until he was proved guilty," asserted Andy.

"Very true. Just the same, many a man has been convicted on what they call circumstantial evidence; and evidently the circumstantial evidence against Jack and Fred is pretty strong."

In the guardroom the time for Jack and Fred passed slowly. They discussed the situation from every possible point of view, but without arriving at any satisfactory conclusion.

"Even if they don't send us to prison for the crime, they may make our fathers' pay for the cows," said Jack.

"Yes. And Colonel Colby may send us home," added Fred, dismally. "Oh, dear! wouldn't that be the worst ever?" and he sank down on the cot and covered his face with his hands.

It was Martell and Brown, aided by Codfish, who saw to it that the report of Jack and Fred's arrest was carried to Clearwater Hall. This brought consternation to the girls, particularly to Ruth and May.

"I won't believe it!" declared Ruth. "I don't believe Jack and Fred would be so mean."

"I don't believe it either!" cried Spouter's cousin. "Somebody else must have done it!"

In the middle of the afternoon Colonel Colby returned to the Hall and was at once acquainted with the affair by Captain Dale. The colonel was on the point of questioning the two prisoners when a servant came in, announcing the arrival of Elias Lacy. The farmer was as wildly excited as he had been in the morning.

"I knowed I was right!" he cried, flourishing a letter in the colonel's face. "Here's something I got to prove it! It come by mail this mornin' when I was bringin' them young whelps over here. I put the letter in my pocket, an' I forgot all about it until an hour ago. Jest read that, will you?" and he thrust the communication into Colonel Colby's hand.

The letter was postmarked at Beach Haven, and had been mailed the evening previous. It was written in a slanting backhand, evidently disguised, and ran as follows:

"Dear Mr. Lacy:

"Your two cows were shot by Jack Rover and Fred Rover. They were out in the woods hunting when we saw them go towards your pasture lot. We thought they were up to some trick, so watched them. They drove the two cows from the rest of the herd, and then Jack Rover gave one cow two shots and Fred Rover gave the other cow two shots. Then they ran back into the woods as tight as they could go. They didn't join the other hunters they had gone out with, most likely because they were afraid.

"You had better go to Colby Hall and have them arrested before they run away.

"Yours truly,

"Three boys who know, but who do not dare to give you their names."



CHAPTER XXIX

THE EXPOSURE

"There! what do you think of that letter?" demanded Elias Lacy, after Colonel Colby had read the communication.

"I don't know what to think of it, Mr. Lacy," was the slow reply. "I have not yet had an opportunity to interview the two Rovers. If you will sit down here in my office, I'll talk to them and try to settle this matter with you."

"Don't you want me to go with you?" questioned the old farmer quickly.

"No. I prefer to interview them alone."

"All right then, I'll stay here. But don't be too long, 'cause I want to drive down to the town an' git Bill Pixley, the chief o' police, or one of his men."

"I don't think you'll need any police, Mr. Lacy. I think we'll be able to fix this matter up to your entire satisfaction," answered Colonel Colby; and then left the office and made his way along the corridors to the guardroom.

His coming was a great relief to Jack and Fred, for they felt that in Colonel Colby they had a real friend. Yet they were much troubled, for they realized that the case looked black against them.

"Now tell me everything you know. Don't hold back a single item," said the colonel, as he seated himself on one of the stools.

Thereupon both cadets related their story in detail—how they had gone out with Frank Newberry and the others, how the two parties had become separated, and how they had lost their way, camped out over night, and finally found the woods road leading down to the Lacy farm, and then how Elias Lacy and his hired man had held them up and threatened them with arrest.

"And you do not know a single thing about the shooting of the cows?" questioned the colonel, eyeing them sternly.

"Not a thing, sir," responded Jack, promptly.

"We don't know anything more about those cows than you do, sir," added Fred, vehemently. "We weren't anywhere near his place when they were shot."

"Then what do you two say to this letter?" continued the master of Colby Hall, and presented the communication to them.

Jack read the letter with Fred looking over his shoulder. Then, of a sudden, Fred gave a cry of amazement.

"I think I know who wrote that letter!" he exclaimed.

"You do!" returned Colonel Colby and Jack, simultaneously.

"I think so; although, of course, I am not sure." Fred looked at his cousin. "It would be just like him to do it."

"Who are you talking about, Fred?"

"I'm talking about Slugger Brown."

"Slugger Brown!"

"Do you mean Slogwell Brown?" queried the master of the school.

"Yes, sir."

"And what makes you think Brown wrote that communication?" demanded Colonel Colby. And now, somewhat to their wonder, the Rovers realized that the colonel seemed to be unusually interested.

"Because I once saw Brown writing in backhand fashion on the blackboard in the gymnasium," explained Fred. "He wrote a hand almost identical with that. I noticed it particularly, because he was amusing himself by writing one line slanting backward and the next line slanting forward."

"Did he know you were watching him?"

"Oh, no! I didn't stay there long enough for that. He was all alone, and as I didn't care to speak to him, I passed out without his noticing it."

"How long ago was this?"

"Only about a week ago."

"Hum!" The colonel mused for a moment, knitting his brows closely as he did so. "That is worth investigating." He thought for another moment. "You have nothing more to add to your story?"

"No, sir," answered Fred.

"I think we've told you everything, Colonel Colby," returned Jack. "We are innocent, and I trust you will do all you can to help us prove it."

"I shall do what is absolutely fair in the matter," answered Colonel Colby; and then left the two boys once more to themselves.

Andy and Randy had begged for permission to talk things over with their cousins, and they came in to see Jack and Fred almost immediately after Colonel Colby left.

"If Slugger Brown wrote that letter, maybe he and Nappy Martell did the shooting," remarked Randy.

"They would be just mean enough to do it," added his twin. "They'd do anything to get our crowd into trouble."

"Why can't you two fellows watch Brown and Martell?" questioned Jack. "You might tell Gif and Spouter and Ned about it, too. Find out where those two fellows were yesterday afternoon, and find out if they used any of the shotguns."

"Say! that's an idea!" cried Randy, enthusiastically. "I'll go at it right away!"

"And so will I!" declared his brother. "Maybe we'll be able to lay the whole blame on that pair."

The twins talked it over with the others for a little while longer, and then were let out of the guardroom by a servant, who locked the door after them. As they came out into the main corridor of the Hall, they saw that Elias Lacy was just leaving Colonel Colby's office.

"All right, then, I'll wait," the old farmer was saying. "But I'll be back by to-morrow afternoon, an' if you can't prove by that time that them Rover boys is innercent, I'm a-goin' to have 'em locked up."

"Very well, Mr. Lacy," the colonel replied, and bowed his visitor out of the door.

"Well, anyway, the colonel has got old Lacy to wait another day," whispered Randy. "That will give us just so much more time to get on the track of what Martell and Brown have been doing."

"All provided they are really guilty of playing this dirty trick," answered his brother.

In the upper hallway the twins ran across Ned Lowe, and immediately took that cadet into their confidence, and asked him if he would not try to find out for them where Brown and Martell had been the previous afternoon.

"For, you see, we can't ask them ourselves," explained Randy. "If we did that they would become suspicious at once."

"All right, I'll do what I can," answered Ned, and made off without delay. He came back in less than fifteen minutes, looking much excited.

"How did you make out?" queried Randy, eagerly.

"Great! I want you two fellows to come upstairs at once while Brown and Martell are out of their rooms. And I think you had better bring along one of the teachers as a witness."

"Why, what have you learned, Ned?" questioned Andy.

"I saw them down near the gymnasium, and sneaked up behind them, and by rare good luck heard them talking about two shotguns that belonged in the gun rack. They were wondering how they could get them from their rooms back into the gun rack without detection."

"Hurrah! I wager we have found 'em out!" ejaculated Randy, excitedly. "Come on! let's get one of the teachers at once!"

The boys were fortunate enough to fall in with Professor Brice a minute later, and in a rather excited fashion they told the teacher of what they had learned and what they proposed to do.

"Why, certainly, I'll go with you," said Paul Brice, quickly. "I want just as much as anybody to get at the bottom of this affair."

Accompanied by the professor, the three cadets hurried to the second floor of the Hall and then to the rooms occupied by Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell. The door to each was locked, but one of them was opened for the crowd by an assistant janitor. A hasty search revealed nothing in the shape of a firearm in either room, and the Rover boys were much disappointed. But then Randy thought of the bed, and quickly raised the mattress. On the springs rested a shotgun.

"And I'll bet the other shotgun is in the other bed!" cried Andy, and he and the professor made an investigation. The fun-loving Rover's surmise was correct.

"These are guns belonging to the Hall, too!" cried Ned, pointing out the mark of the school on the stocks. "They must belong down in the gun rack, just as Slugger and Martell said."

"Bring those guns along, boys, and we'll go directly to Colonel Colby's office," said Professor Brice; and the cadets lost no time in doing as he directed.

They found the master of the school seated at his desk, looking over a mass of papers. He gazed in wonder at the three lads and Professor Brice.

"We found the shotguns that were used on those cows!" cried Randy, his eyes sparkling.

"And do you know where we found 'em? In the beds that Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell use!" broke in Andy.

"What's this?" And now the colonel was really startled.

"You had better let the boys tell the beginning of the story, and I will tell the end," said Professor Brice.

Thereupon, the two Rovers repeated the talk that had taken place in the guardroom, and then told how they had gotten Ned to spy on Brown and Martell. Then Ned told of what he had heard, and of how the three had called on Professor Brice for assistance. After that the teacher took up the narrative, ending with the finding of the shotguns in the beds.

"It looks like a pretty clear case against Brown and Martell," remarked the colonel slowly. "However, I shall have to make a further investigation. I will send for Brown and Martell at once."

The colonel was as good as his word, and inside of five minutes Slugger and Nappy came into the office together. They looked much disturbed, and this look increased when they saw Andy and Randy.

"Brown and Martell, I have sent for you to answer a few questions," began Colonel Colby, sternly, as the two cadets faced him. "I want you to answer me directly and truthfully. What was your object in taking two of our shotguns from the gun rack and going over to Mr. Lacy's farm and shooting down two of his cows?"

"Wh—wh—why, wh—wh—what do you mean?" faltered Brown.

"We didn't—er—shoot—er—any cows," stammered Martell.

Both boys were thrown into utter confusion, and showed it plainly. Then Slugger Brown suddenly turned to glare at the Rovers.

"Is this some of your work?" he demanded. "If it is, let me tell you I'll pay you back for it!"

"Stop that talk, Brown!" commanded Colonel Colby. "I want you and Martell to answer my question. Why did you go over there and shoot those cows?"

"Who says we shot the cows?" questioned Nappy, faintly.

"Never mind who says so. You did it, and it is useless for you to deny it. Here are the two guns you took from the gun rack and afterwards hid in your beds. And here is the despicable note you, Brown, wrote and mailed to Mr. Lacy," and the colonel held out the communication.

"Oh, Colonel Colby, I di—di—didn't do it!" faltered Slugger Brown. His face had suddenly gone white, and he could scarcely speak.

"Do you deny that this is your handwriting?"

"I—I——Oh, is——I—I—didn't——That is——" and here Slugger Brown broke down absolutely, not knowing what to say.

"Did you mail that letter or did Brown do it?" questioned the colonel, quickly turning to Martell.

"He did it! I didn't have anything to do with it!" burst out Nappy, breaking down completely.

"It ain't so!" cried Slugger. "He was with me, and he dropped the letter in the post-office!"

"And so you killed the cows to get the Rovers into trouble?" said Colonel Colby; and now his eyes glittered like steel. "A fine thing to do, truly! I did not think any of our cadets would stoop to such a base action."

"It was a—er—a joke," gasped Nappy.

"A joke! To kill two valuable cows? Martell, if you talk that way, I'll be inclined to think you are losing your senses. But evidently there is something radically wrong with both you and Brown," went on the master of the Hall. "This case of the cows and the plot against the Rovers is bad enough, but I have another matter against you which may prove even worse."

"What is that?" questioned Slugger, very faintly.

"It is a case that Captain Larkins of the steam tug, Mary D., has lodged against you. He says he has absolute proof that both of you went out in a motor boat one day and tampered with the towing line and the chains of a large lumber raft, so that when a sudden squall came up on the lake, the towing line parted and the lumber raft went to pieces."

"Oh, say! that must have been the squall we were out in!" exclaimed Randy. "And we got caught among that floating lumber, too!"

"Yes, that was the time," answered Colonel Colby.

"Oh, Colonel! can't we go to our cousins and tell them that they can have their freedom?" questioned Andy, with a sudden thought of those left in the guardroom.

"Yes, Rover. Both of you and also Lowe can go," was the colonel's reply. "I will settle this affair with Brown and Martell."

"And will you settle it with Mr. Lacy, too?" queried Randy, quickly.

"Yes. I will fix the whole matter up. You may tell Jack and Fred that they need not worry any further on this score." And thereupon Andy, Randy and Ned hurried away to bear the glad tidings to the prisoners.

Of course Jack and Fred were greatly pleased to be released. They listened eagerly to all the twins and Ned had to relate.

"So Nappy and Slugger are guilty!" cried Jack. "What a mean way to act!"

"And to think they are also guilty of sending that lumber adrift," said Fred. "They'll suffer for that."

"They ought to suffer," answered his cousin.



CHAPTER XXX

A FOOTBALL VICTORY—CONCLUSION

"Whoop her up for Colby Hall!"

"This is the time Columbus Academy wins!"

"Not on your life! This is Colby Hall day!"

"You'll sing a different tune after the game is over!"

"Hurrah! here come the elevens now!"

And then a wild shouting, intermingled with the tooting of horns and the sounding of rattles, rent the air, while banners went waving on every side.

It was the day of the great game between Colby Hall and Columbus Academy. It had been decided that the contest should take place on the field belonging to the military academy, and once again everything had been put in the best of order for this gala occasion. The grandstand and the bleachers were overflowing with spectators, and in a distant field were parked a hundred automobiles or more, while in another field were numerous carriages and farm wagons.

"We've certainly got a crowd to-day," remarked Randy, who, with his brother, was in the section of the stand reserved for the Colbyites and their friends. In front of the twins and their chums sat Ruth, May, and half a dozen other girls from Clearwater Hall.

"I don't see anything of Nappy Martell or Slugger Brown," remarked Ida Brierley, who was with the girls.

"I hope you don't want to see them, Ida," returned Ruth, promptly.

"Indeed, I do not!" answered the other girl. "I was only wondering what had become of them."

"Jack told me they had both left the Hall for the term. They shot those cows, you know, and they had some other trouble which was hushed up."

"Oh, that was the trouble over that lumber raft," put in Jennie Mason.

"Right you are!" answered Andy, bending over and speaking in a low tone so that no outsider might hear. "Their folks had to pony up a pretty penny, too, for the lumber and for the cows."

"Oh, well, let's forget Martell and Brown," broke in May. "I want to enjoy this game."

"And that's what we all want to do," said Alice Strobell.

What had been said concerning Slugger Brown and Nappy Martell was true. Questioned by Colonel Colby, the two misguided cadets had finally broken down utterly and confessed everything, telling how they had once gotten into a quarrel with Captain Larkins on the lake and how they had sought to get square by tampering with the fastenings of the lumber raft and the towline; and they had also related the particulars of how they had watched Jack and Fred go out shooting and had then purloined the two shotguns from the gun rack and hurried over to the Lacy farm to shoot the cows. Mr. Brown and Mr. Martell had been called upon to pay both the lake captain and the old farmer heavy damages; and thereupon they had withdrawn their sons from the Hall for the time being.

"And I'm glad they're gone," had been Fred's comment. "I hope they never come back here again."

"Yes, we could do without Brown and Martell very well," had been Jack's answer.

Both of the cousins were particularly happy on this day. Jack occupied his former position on the eleven, and Fred had been drafted from the scrub team and put on the substitutes' bench in place of Brown.

"Maybe I'll get a chance to play!" cried the youngest Rover eagerly, when the football captain brought him the news.

"Perhaps so, Fred," answered Gif. "Although, of course, I hope none of our players get hurt."

As the Colby Hall eleven marched out on the gridiron, Jack glanced towards the grandstand and caught Ruth's eye. The girl gaily waved a Colby Hall banner at him. Then May caught sight of Fred on the side lines, and shook her hand at him.

Spectators from the town were almost as much interested in the contest as were the two schools. This football game was always the big match of the season, and many wagers were placed on the result. In the past the contests had always been exceedingly bitter, with the various scores almost a tie, Columbus Academy winning by a narrow margin one year and Colby Hall taking the lead by an equally narrow margin the following year.

When the Columbus Academy boys came out on the field, it was seen that they were good, husky fellows, every bit as heavy as the Colby Hall eleven. They looked in the pink of condition.

"I am afraid our boys will have their work cut out for them in this game," remarked Mr. Crews to Colonel Colby.

"Well, our boys look pretty fit," answered the master of the Hall.

By the toss of a coin, Columbus Academy won the choice of position, and took the west goal, the slight wind that was blowing being in their favor. Then the two teams lined up for the kick-off.

"Now then, boys, show 'em what you can do!" yelled the Colby Hall cadets, and then the school slogan rang out on the air.

"Put it all over 'em, boys!" yelled one of the Columbus Academy followers. "Come on now, all together!" he added, and started up a song, the refrain of which contained the line: "We're here to-day to bury them!"

"What an awful song to sing!" remarked Ruth.

"Oh, you mustn't mind that," returned Andy, gaily. "He sings best who sings last, as the cat said to the bird."

It must be confessed that both teams were rather nervous at the outset of the contest. The play was decidedly ragged, and one or two mistakes were made, which, however, profited neither side anything. The ball was carried first to the Colby Hall 10-yard line, and from there it went back to the Columbus 15-yard line, and then it sawed back and forth until eight minutes of the first quarter had passed.

"Gee! this begins to look like a blank," was Spouter's comment.

"So it does," returned Dan Soppinger. "Say! can any of you tell me why the——"

"Don't ask questions now, Dan," interrupted Randy. "Oh, look! look!" he burst out suddenly. "Isn't that great!"

The ball had dribbled back and forth until, by a punt, it reached Colby Hall's 20-yard line. It landed close to Jack, and like a flash he gathered it to his breast and started for the Columbus goal.

"Go it, Rover! go it!"

"Don't let 'em down you, Jack!"

With his friends cheering lustily, Jack sped on, dodging many straight-arm tackles, and skipping from right to left and then back again in order to avoid the numerous players who seemed to confront him as if by magic. Then somebody appeared on his left, and the next moment he went down with a thud, not knowing where he had landed.

"It's a touchdown!" was the cry, and then the Colby Hall followers went wild with delight, while Columbus Academy was mute. The girls stood up in the grandstand and waved their banners gaily.

"Oh, just to think, Jack did it!" murmured Ruth, and her face showed her intense satisfaction.

"Now if only Walt Baxter can kick a goal!" cried Randy.

But this was not to be, for at the moment the leather sailed through the air, a strong puff of wind came up and the ball went just outside the posts.

"Well, never mind," cried Randy, consolingly; "that puts us in the lead."

The run had somewhat exhausted Jack, but still he insisted upon keeping on playing, and after the wonderful exhibition he had made, Gif had not the heart to call in a substitute to take his place.

But if, with a touchdown in their favor, Colby thought to remain in the lead, they soon had this hope shattered. The Columbus Academy eleven played a fast and snappy second quarter, and, as a result, before it was half over they took the ball on a fumble and circled the left end for twelve yards.

"Say, that's going some," remarked Fatty.

"Oh, it won't net them anything," responded Andy.

But in this he was wrong, for on the next two plays Columbus carried the ball over the line for a touchdown.

"A tie! A tie!" yelled the followers of the Academy.

"Now then, boys, don't miss the goal!"

"It isn't likely they'll miss it," grumbled Andy. "The wind is in their favor." The goal was kicked with ease, and then the score stood: Columbus Academy—7, Colby Hall—6.

During the intermission between the second and third quarters, Gif and Mr. Crews gave the eleven some very pointed instructions. One player had hurt his ankle slightly, and he was taken out and a substitute took his place. But the substitute was not Fred, much to that youth's disappointment.

If the first and second quarters had been fast and snappy, the third quarter was even more so. Back and forth went the ball, and it was lost both by Colby Hall and by the Academy team. There were some really fine tackles and splendid runs, but all of these availed nothing. And when the whistle blew the score still stood 6 for Colby Hall as against 7 for Columbus Academy.

"Tough luck!" groaned Ned.

"Oh, we're going to win—I'm sure of it!" answered Randy.

"I hope what you say proves true," returned Ruth, hopefully.

Just before the whistle was given for the end of the third quarter there had been a grand crash and a fierce mix-up on the field. Then it was found that both a Columbus Academy player and a Colby Hall youth would have to be taken out of the game.

"Now then, Fred, here's your chance," said Gif, coming up to the youngest Rover. "I'm going to put you in, and I want you to help us win the game."

"Win it is!" cried Fred, his eyes shining eagerly. "We'll either win or we'll die!"

When the whistle blew for the final quarter, all of the players who trooped on the field had a do-or-die expression on their faces. Once more the play became fast and furious, and, as a result, in less than three minutes Columbus Academy scored another touchdown, which, however, failed of a goal.

"Hurrah! That's the way to do it!" yelled their followers in keen delight.

"Brace up, boys! brace up! This won't do at all. Come on now, all together!" And then Colby Hall went in with renewed vigor so that inside of a few minutes more they, too, had scored another touchdown, and from this they managed to kick a goal.

"Hello! what do you know about that! Another tie!"

"Thirteen to thirteen! Same as that other game! Say, this is getting mighty interesting!"

So far, Fred, although he had played as hard as anybody in the game, had failed to make any appreciable showing. Now, however, with only a few minutes to spare, he saw his chance.

One of the Columbus Academy players had dropped back for a punt. Fred, who was close at hand, made a sudden leap over a protecting half back and blocked the kick.

"Say, look at that! Fred Rover is in the game for keeps!"

"Send it back, Fred! Send it back!"

The words were scarcely spoken when the thrilled spectators saw that the youngest Rover boy had the leather. Like a flash he sent it rolling back, Gif coming to his aid.

"A safety! A safety for Colby Hall!"

"Hurrah! that puts Colby two points ahead!"

"Good work for Fred Rover!"

"Now then, Colby Hall, you've got 'em a-going! Keep it up!"

"Pitch into 'em, Columbus! Pitch into 'em!"

So the yelling went on while all of the spectators stood up in their seats, anxious to see what might be accomplished next. But there was no time to do more. The whistle blew and the great game was over.

Colby Hall had won!

In a twinkling the huge field was covered with spectators running in all directions, and the victorious eleven was surrounded. Many were the congratulations showered on all the players, and it may well be believed that Jack and Fred came in for their full share.

"The finest game I ever saw," declared Colonel Colby, as he shook hands with all his youthful players.

"Oh, Jack! It was simply grand—that run you made!" exclaimed Ruth, when she saw him.

"Yes. And the way you played for that safety!" put in May to Fred.

Columbus Academy was much disheartened over its defeat, yet it cheered the victors and was cheered in return; and then the great crowd gradually dispersed.

"Bonfire to-night, boys! And a big one, too!" cried Andy, as he rushed up to fairly embrace both his cousins. Then, to work off some of his high spirits, the acrobatic youth turned several cartwheels and handsprings.

"What a pity our folks weren't here to see this game," said Jack, wistfully.

"Never mind, we'll write them all the particulars," announced Randy. "And we'll send them copies of the local paper, too. That will have a full account of it," and this was done as soon as possible.

After the game refreshments were served to the cadets and their particular friends, and in this, of course, the Rovers and the girls from Clearwater Hall joined. Then the boys took the girls back to their school in an automobile.

"We are certainly having one dandy time at this school," remarked Fred, on the way back to Colby Hall.

"Right you are!" answered Randy.

"If only we hadn't had that trouble with Slugger and Nappy," remarked Jack.

"Oh, don't bother about those fellows!" cried Andy. "I don't believe they'll ever trouble any of us again."

But in this he was mistaken. Brown and Martell did trouble them, and in what manner will be related in the next volume of this series, to be entitled: "The Rover Boys on Snowshoe Island; or, The Old Lumberman's Treasure Box."

In that volume we shall meet all the boys and their chums again, and also learn the particulars of a queer mystery, and also of a great joke played upon Professor Asa Lemm.

The cadets of Colby Hall were a happy crowd that night. A great bonfire blazed along the bank of the river, and around this the boys cut up to their hearts' content. Then they marched around and around the Hall, singing loudly.

"It's certainly a dandy school, isn't it?" remarked Jack to his cousins.

"The best ever!" they answered in a chorus. And here for the present we will leave the Rover boys and say good-bye.

THE END



This Isn't All!

Would you like to know what became of the good friends you have made in this book?

Would you like to read other stories continuing their adventures and experiences, or other books quite as entertaining by the same author?

On the reverse side of the wrapper which comes with this book, you will find a wonderful list of stories which you can buy at the same store where you got this book.

Don't throw away the Wrapper

Use it as a handy catalog of the books you want some day to have. But in case you do mislay it, write to the Publishers for a complete catalog.



THE HARDY BOYS SERIES

By FRANKLIN W. DIXON

Illustrated. Every Volume Complete in Itself

The Hardy Boys are sons of a celebrated American detective, and during vacations and their off time from school they help their father by hunting down clues themselves.

THE TOWER TREASURE—A dying criminal confessed that his loot had been secreted "in the tower." It remained for the Hardy Boys to clear up the mystery.

THE HOUSE ON THE CLIFF—Mr. Hardy started to investigate—and disappeared! An odd tale, with plenty of excitement.

THE SECRET OF THE OLD MILL—Counterfeit money was in circulation, and the limit was reached when Mrs. Hardy took some from a stranger. A tale full of thrills.

THE MISSING CHUMS—Two of the Hardy Boys' chums disappear and are almost rescued by their friends when all are captured. A thrilling story of adventure.

HUNTING FOR HIDDEN GOLD—In tracing some stolen gold the trail leads the boys to an abandoned mine, and there things start to happen.

THE SHORE ROAD MYSTERY—Automobiles were disappearing most mysteriously from the Shore Road. It remained for the Hardy Boys to solve the mystery.

THE SECRET OF THE CAVES—When the boys reached the caves they came unexpectedly upon a queer old hermit.

THE MYSTERY OF CABIN ISLAND—A story of queer adventures on a rockbound island.

THE GREAT AIRPORT MYSTERY—The Hardy Boys solve the mystery of the disappearance of some valuable mail.

WHAT HAPPENED AT MIDNIGHT—The boys follow a trail that ends in a strange and exciting situation.

WHILE THE CLOCK TICKED—The Hardy Boys aid in vindicating a man who has been wrongly accused of a crime.

FOOTPRINTS UNDER THE WINDOW—The Smuggling of Chinese into this country is the basis of this story in which the boys find thrills and excitement aplenty.

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, NEW YORK



TED SCOTT FLYING STORIES

By FRANKLIN W. DIXON

Illustrated. Each Volume Complete in Itself.

No subject has so thoroughly caught the imagination of young America as aviation. This series has been inspired by recent daring feats of the air, and is dedicated to Lindbergh, Byrd, Chamberlin and other heroes of the skies.

OVER THE OCEAN TO PARIS; or, Ted Scott's Daring Long Distance Flight.

RESCUED IN THE CLOUDS; or, Ted Scott, Hero of the Air.

OVER THE ROCKIES WITH THE AIR MAIL; or, Ted Scott Lost in the Wilderness.

FIRST STOP HONOLULU; or, Ted Scott Over the Pacific.

THE SEARCH FOR THE LOST FLYERS; or, Ted Scott Over the West Indies.

SOUTH OF THE RIO GRANDE; or, Ted Scott On a Secret Mission.

ACROSS THE PACIFIC; or, Ted Scott's Hop to Australia.

THE LONE EAGLE OF THE BORDER; or, Ted Scott and the Diamond Smugglers.

FLYING AGAINST TIME; or, Breaking the Ocean to Ocean Record.

OVER THE JUNGLE TRAILS; or, Ted Scott and the Missing Explorers.

LOST AT THE SOUTH POLE; or, Ted Scott in Blizzard Land.

THROUGH THE AIR TO ALASKA; or, Ted Scott's Search in Nugget Valley.

FLYING TO THE RESCUE; or, Ted Scott and the Big Dirigible.

DANGER TRAILS OF THE SKY; or, Ted Scott's Great Mountain Climb.

FOLLOWING THE SUN SHADOW; or, Ted Scott and the Great Eclipse.

BATTLING THE WIND; or, Ted Scott Flying Around Cape Horn.

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, NEW YORK



THE AVIATION SERIES

By JOHN PRENTICE LANGLEY

Here is an intensely exciting series on a topic of worldwide interest—Aviation. Every day one hears of new stunts accomplished by pilots. With the passing of each year new records in altitude and long distance are made. In these stories Amos Green and his chum, Danny Cooper, accomplish all the thrilling deeds of the air that have been done before only by hardened veterans. Moreover, backed by the mysterious "Mr. Carstairs" they succeed in doing stunts new to the history of aviation. You'll find them vastly exciting.

TRAIL BLAZERS OF THE SKIES

SPANNING THE PACIFIC

MASTERS THE AIR-LANES

THE PATHFINDER'S GREAT FLIGHT

AIR VOYAGERS OF THE ARCTIC

DESERT HAWKS ON THE WING

CHASING THE SETTING SUN

BRIDGING THE SEVEN SEAS

THE STAIRCASE OF THE WIND

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, NEW YORK



BOB CHASE BIG GAME SERIES

By FRANK A. WARNER

In these thrilling stories of outdoor life the hero is a young lumberjack who is a crack rifle shot. While tracking game in the Maine woods he does some rich hunters a great service. They become interested in him and take him on various hunting expeditions in this country and abroad. Bob learns what it is to face not only wildcats, foxes and deer but also bull moose, Rocky Mountain grizzly bears and many other species of big game.

BOB CHASE WITH THE BIG MOOSE HUNTERS

BOB CHASE AFTER GRIZZLY BEARS

BOB CHASE IN THE TIGER'S LAIR

BOB CHASE WITH THE LION HUNTERS

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, NEW YORK



BUDDY BOOKS FOR BOYS

Illustrated. Individual Colored Wrappers

Tales of Western pioneer days and the California gold fields; tales of mystery, humor, adventure; thrilling stories of sports and aviation. There is a wide range of subjects in this list of titles—all by well-known authors of books for boys.

HOT DOG PARTNERS By William Heyliger

YOUNG EAGLE OF THE TRAIL By J. Allan Dunn

THE LAND OF MONSTERS By Harold M. Sherman

QUARTERBACK HOTHEAD By William Heyliger

LEFTY LEIGHTON By Percy Keese Fitzhugh

NUMBER 44 By Harold M. Sherman

BILL DARROW'S VICTORY By William Heyliger

THE STORY OF TERRIBLE TERRY By Percy Keese Fitzhugh

BEYOND THE DOG'S NOSE By Harold M. Sherman

DING PALMER, AIR DETECTIVE By Harold M. Sherman

BEAN-BALL BILL By William Heyliger

CAMERON MacBAIN, BACKWOODSMAN By Harold M. Sherman

FLYING HEELS By Harold M. Sherman

FLASHING STEEL By Harold M. Sherman

BUFFALO BOY By J. Allan Dunn

THE CLOUD PATROL By Irving Crump

SPIFFY HENSHAW By Percy Keese Fitzhugh

THE PILOT OF THE CLOUD PATROL By Irving Crump

DON RADER, TRAIL BLAZER By Harold M. Sherman

TUCK SIMMS, FORTY-NINER By Edward Leonard

WIGWAG WEIGAND By Percy Keese Fitzhugh

HERVEY WILLETTS By Percy Keese Fitzhugh

SKINNY McCORD By Percy Keese Fitzhugh

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, NEW YORK

THE END

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