Won at West Point, or, An army cadet in school and camp

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Won at West Point, or, An army cadet in school and camp

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Won at West Point, or, An army cadet in school and camp
Lounsberry, Lionel
Place of Publication:
David McKay Company
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Military education -- Fiction
West Point (N.Y.) -- Fiction

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
029704286 ( ALEPH )
09314695 ( OCLC )
C21-00035 ( USFLDC DOI )
c21.35 ( USFLDC Handle )

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THE CREAM OF JUVENILE FICTION THE ).f BOYS' OWN A Selection of the Best Books for Boys by the Most Popular Authors Z.HE titles in this splendid juvenile series have been selected with care, and as a result all the stories can be relied upon for their excellence. They are bright and sparkling; not over-burdened with lengthy descriptions, but brimful of adventure from the first page to the last-in fact they are just the kind of yarns that appeal strongly to the healthy boy who is fond of thrilling exploits and deeds of heroism. Among the authors whose names are included in tlae Boys' Own Library are Horatio Alger, Jr., Edward S. Ellis, James Otis, Capt. Ralph Bonehill, Burt L. Standish, Gilbert Patten and Frank H. ConTerse. SPEQAL FEATURES OF THE BOYS' OWN LIBRARY .JI. .JI. All the books in this series are copyrighted, printed on good paper, large type, illustrated, printed wrappers, handsome cloth covers stamped in inks and gold-fifteen special cover designs. HO Titles-Price, per 75 cents For sale by all booksellers, or sent, postpaid, on receipt of price by the publisher, DAVID McKAY, 6JO SO. WASHINGTON SQUARE, PHlLADELPHIA, PA. ( i )


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HARRY COLLINGWOOD. One of England's most successful writers of stories for boys. His best story is Pirate Island GEORGE H. COOMER. Two books we highly recommend. One is a splendid story of adventure at sea, when American ships were in every port in the world, and the other tells of adventures while the :first railway in the Andes Mountains was being built. Boys in the Forecastle Old Man of the Mountain WILLIAM DALTON. Three stories by one of the very greatest writers for boys. The stories deal with boys' adventures in India, China and Abyssinia. These books are strongly recommended for boys' reading, as they con tain a large amount of historical information. Tiger Prince White Elephant War Tiger EDWARD S. ELLIS. These books are considered the best works this well-known writer ever produced. No better reading for bright young Americans. Arthur Helmuth Check No. 2134 From Tent to White House Perils of the Jungle On the Trail of Geronimo White Mustang GEORGE MANVILLE FENN. For the past :fifty years Mr. Fenn has been writing books for boys and popular :fiction. His books are justly popular throughout the English-speaking world. We publis h the following select list of his boys' books, which we consider the best he ever wrote. Commodore Junk Dingo Boys Weathercock Golden Magnet Grand Chaco ENSIGN CLARKE FITCH, u.s.N. A graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, and tho roughly familiar with all naval matters. Mr. Fitch has devoted him self to literature, and has written a series of books for boys that every DAVID McKAY, Publisher, Philadelphia. (iii)


young American should read. His stories are full of very interesting mformation about the navy, training ships, etc. Bound for Anne.polis Clif, the Ne.val Cadet Cruise of the Training Ship From Port to Port Strange Cruise, A WILLIAM MURRAY GRAYDON. An author of world-wide popularity. Mr. Graydon is essentially a friend of young people, and we offer herewith ten of his best works, wherein he relates a great diversity of interesting adventures in various parts of the world, combined with a<',curate historical data. Butcher of Ce.wnpore, The Ce.mp in the Snow, The Campaigning with Braddock Cryptogram, The From Lake to Wilderness In Barracks and Wigwam In Fort and Prison Jungles and Traitors Raja.h's Fortress, The White King of Africa, The LIEUT. FREDERICK GARRISON, U.S. A. Every American boy takes a keen interest in the affairs of West Point. No more capable writer on this popular subject could be found than Lieut. Garrison, who vividly de sc ribes the life, adventures and unique incidents that have occurred in that great institution-in these famous West Point stories. Off for West Point On Gue.rd Cadet's Honor, A West Point Tree.sure, The West Point Rive.ls, The HEADON HILL. The hunt for has always been a popular subject for considera tion, and Mr. Hill has added a splendid story on the subject in this romance of the Klondyke. Spectre Gold HENRY HARRISON LEWIS. Mr. Lewis is a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and has written a great many books for boys. Among his best works are the following titles-the subjects include a vast series of adventures in all parts of the world. The historical data is correct, and they should be read by all boys, for the excellent information they contain. Centreboard Jim King of the Island Midshipman Merrill Ensign Merrill Sword and Pen Valley of Mystery, The Yankee Boys in Japan DAVID McKAY, Publisher, Philadelphia. (iv)


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CAPT. DAVID SOUTHWICK. An exceptionally good story of frontier life among the Indians in the far West, during the early settlement period. Jack Wheeler The Famous Prank Merriwell Stories. BURT L. STANDISH. No modem series of tales for boys and youths has met with anything like the cordial reception and popularity accorded to the Frank Merriwell Stories. There must be a reason for this and there is. Frank Merriwell, as portrayed by the author, is a jolly whole-souled, 1 honest, courageous American lad, who appeals to the hearts of the boys. He has no bad habits, and his manliness inculcates the idea that it is not necessary for a boy to indulge in petty vices to be a hero. Frank Merri well' s example is a shining light for every ambitious lad to follow. Six volumes now ready : Frank Merriwell's School Days Frank Merriwell's Trip West Frank Merriwell's Chums Frank Merriwell Down South Frank Merriwell's Foes Frank Merriwell's Bravery VICTOR ST. Cl..AIR. These books are full of clean adventure, thrilling enough to please the full-blooded wide-awake boy, yet containing nothing to which there can be any objection from those who are careful as to the kind of books they put into the hands of the young. Cast Away in the Jungle For Home and Honor From Switch to Lever Little Snap, the Post Boy Zig-Zag, the Boy Conjurer Zip, the Acrobat MATTHEW WHITE, JR. Good, healthy, strong books for the American lad. No more in teresting books for the young appear on our lists. Adventures of a Young Athlete Eric Dane Gny Hammersley My Mysterious Fortune Tour of a Private Car Young Editor, The ARTHUR M. WINFIELD. One of the most popular authors of boys' books. He writes also under the name of Bonehill and Stratemeyer. Here are three of his best. Mark Dale's Stage Venture Young Bank Clerk, The Young Bridge Tender, The DA YID McKAY, Publisher, Philadelphia. (vii)


GAYLE WINTERTON. This very interesting story relates the trials and triumphs of a Young American Actor, including the solution of a very puzzling mystery. Young Actor, The ERNEST A. YOUNG. This book is not a treatise on sports, as the title would indicate, but . relates a series of thrilling adventures among boy campers in the woods of Maine. Boats, Bats and Bicycles DAVID McKAY, Publisher, Philadelphia. (viii)




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CONTENTS. CHAPTER. I.-The Commencement of Hostilities. IL-The Accident. III.-Introduces an Old Acquaintance. IV.-Captain Orth Shows His Hand. V.-Harold has Visitors. VI.-A Foul Crime. • • VII.-The Conversation. VIII.-The Fight. IX.-Caught Red Handed. X.-An Unsuccessful Plot. XI.-Harold is Shot! XII.-The Mysterious Letter. XIII.-Out of Camp. XIV. -Hazed! XV.-The Foot-Pads. XVI.-T o the Rescue. XVII.-Captured. XVIII.-A Terrible Fate. XIX.-On Board the Schooner. XX.-A Struggle for Freedom. XXI. -Complications. XXII.-On the Yacht. XXIII.-' 'Stop Thief!'' PAGE 5 II 18 25 32 39 46 53 60 67 73 80 87 93 99 106 • 112 II8 • 124 130 • 136 143 • 149


iv CONTENTS. CHAPTER. XXIV.-A Significant Meeting. XXV.-On the Signal Tower. XXVI.-A Daring Rescue. XXVII.-The Accident at Pontoon Drill. XXVIII.-Harold Explains. XXIX.-Kirby Writes a Letter, XXX.-The Campaign Opens. XXXI.-1'he Flag of Truce. XXXII.-The Fort is Captured. XXXIII.-Victory. XXXIV.-The Summons. XXXV.-A Startling Interruption. XXXVI. -Conclusion. • PAGE 155 162 168 174 181 187 192 198 203 • 208 213 • 218 223


WON AT WEST POINT. CHAPTER I. THE COMMENCEMENT OF HOSTILI'.l'U:S. "The examination takes place at ten o'clock this morn• ing, mother." "Which examination, my son?" "The one for West Point." "Why, Harold Hughes! I thought you had given that up. Are you really determined to appear before the board? Don't you think you are wasting time trying to secure the appointment, when Captain Orth's son is a candidate?" The lad addressed-a handsome, manly youth of sev enteen years-arose from his seat, and walked slowly up and down the little room for a while before replying. Then, stopping in front of his mother, he said, with flashing eyes: "Ralph Orth hasn't any more right to the appointment than I, even if his father is a captain in the army and instructor in tactics at West Point. Old Mr. Hanna, the Congressman, said that it would be given to the boy re ceiving the highest percentage in the examination to be held this morning by the schoolmaster and two others, and that no favor would be shown."


6 The Commencement of Hostilities. "That is true, Harold, but the Orths are very influ ential in Riverside, and I don't think those on the board will forget it." "I am going to try for the appointment, notwithstandin g that fact, mother. If I succeed it will mean an honorable profession and an incom e after graduation that will place you beyond want. As for the Orths being in fluential here, we were equa lly so before father died, and would be yet if we had our just dues." Mrs. Hughes sighed, and glanced thoughtfully at her son. "I can't help believing that you are right, Harold. There is some terrible mystery connected with the loss of our property, but it seems to be impossible to find out anything about it." "That is another reason why I should like to secure a cadetship, mother. I know we have been cheated out of our money, and I also have an idea by whom, but it is impossible to go to law without funds, especia lly against such cunning scoundrels as the--" "Hush, Harold!" int errupted Mrs. Hughes, placing a fin ge r on her lips and looking toward the door. Footsteps sounded on the gravel walk outside, and then some one halted in front of the portal, and knocked. Composing herself, the Widow Hughes said, calmly: "Come in!" The front door immediately opened, giving entrance to a lad of about Harold's age. Although well-built, yet he did not have the splendid physique of the latter, and, moreover, his face was that of a youth petulant and spoiled by indulgent parents. Taking it all in all, the new-comer was not o ne apt to make fri e nds among fair-minded people, nor to even retain the regard of his whilom associates.


The Commencement of Hostilities. 7 On stepping into the little r oom, he favored the occupants with a supercilious nod, and, walking t oward Mrs. Hughes, handed her a letter with the remark: "Uncle sent me around with this. He says it is the last time he will notify you." Taking the missive, she s l ow ly opened it, a troubled lo ok coming into her face. While she was reading it, the bearer turned to Harold. "I say, Hughes, I am toli you have an id ea of appearing before the board this morning." The lad addressed flushed slightly at the insolent tone, but he kept his temper, and quietly replied: "You have been correctly inform ed, Ralph Orth; I do intend to try for the appointment." "Well, if you take a friend's advice, you'll save your time. You won't stand a ghost of a show." "Why? Because you are one of the competitors, I suppose?" Nettled at Harold's sarcastic remark, Ralph replied, loudly: "Yes, that's the reason, if you want to know. I have been boning up for this for some time under the best t eachers, and, anyway, old J ones wouldn't dare to bilge m e." Springing to his feet, Hughes asked, hotly: "Do I understand you to mean that the schoolmaster will pass you , anyway, even if you fail?" Ralph Orth suddenly appeared uneasy. Forcing a smile, he replied : "N-no, not that. I don't mean that he would be guilty of favoritism, but he's a friend of father, and--" Harold interrupted him by laughing grimly. "Oh, don't explain any further, Orth!" he said, con-


8 The Commencement of Hostilities. temptuously. "I know what you mean, and I am glad to say that I will enter the field without such doubtful aid." At the insinuation, Ralph flushed to the temples. Giving Hughes a vindictive glance, he started toward the door, at the same time saying, harshly: "Pah ! Who cares for the opinion of a pauper? Much good your attempt will do you . It will make you the• laughing stock among the--" Before he could complete his sentence, Harold was at his side. Throwing open the door, he pointed to it and exclaimed sternly: "Get out of this house, you coward ! If it was not for my mother's presence I would make you retract that in sult. Leave this room at once, I say!" Previous experience had taught Ralph that Harold was not to be trifled with, so he sullenly passed out into the front yard and hurried away. "Oh, Harold, I am sorry you have aroused his enmity!" cried Mrs. Hughes, after young Orth had gone. "I would not allow him to call us paupers, mother," re plied the lad, his brow still clouded. "He insulted me once before, and I warned him then to never do it again. What is in the letter he brought you?" "It is a legal notice from his uncle, Robert Orth, saying that if we do not satisfy the judgment note by the twen tieth he will foreclose." "That means the final loss of everything except this cottage." "Yes, my son. Out of all the property your father owned , we will only have this little home." "Well, we can do nothing now, but when I secure money enough to engage lawyers, we wiII probe that note business to the bottom," replied Harold, firmly. "Now, mother,


The Commencement of Hostilities. 9 it is almost time for the examination. I am going to try it, even if the schoolmaster is in favor of Ralph Orth." "Well, good luck to you, Harold,'' said Mrs. Hughes, affectionately. After brushing his hair and tidying his clothes, the lad , left the house and hastened toward the village school house. While he is on his way to the momentous examination, it will be well to acquaint the reader with the events leading up to the opening of this story. In the Western hamlet of Riverside had lived for many years the two families of Orth and Hughes. Harold's father, prior to his death, had been engaged in business with Robert Orth, and the firm prospered. Robert's brother, the father of Ralph, was a captain in the army, and stationed at West Point as instructor of tactics. When Ralph became old enough, Robert formed the idea of entering him in the military academy as a cadet. Although able to exercise sufficient influence to have him appointed by the President as an "at large" candidate, he wished the lad to win a cadetship at a competitive exam ination. In due course the Congressman from that district announced that a vacancy would occur within the following year, and Ralph, according to instructions from his father, studied hard before the board met. Six months previous to that event Mr. Hughes lost his life in an accident, leaving his family, as every one supposed, in comfortable circumstances. To the surprise and consternation of the widow and orphan, however, Robert Orth suddenly presented a claim against the estate for sixty thousand dollars, which he stated was due him for money advanced, and other debts. As a witness, he called in his brother, the captain, who


10 The Commencement of Hostilities. happened to be home on a furlough, and also presented his books as proof. Not being able to secure the proper legal talent, the widow was compelled to let it go. For several years Harold had longed to become an officer in the United States Army. His father had promised to pay his expenses, but when the sad catastrophe occurred, the lad gave up the idea for a while. The approaching date of the local examination revived old hopes, and he secured his mother's consent to appear before the board. The funds necessary for the purchase of uniforms and other expenses in case of success was provided for out of their little store, saved from the wreck of the previous fortune. Thus matters stood at the commencement of this true history.


CHAPTER II. THE ACCIDENT. On reaching the modest brick building known as the Riverside school-house, Harold found a group of boys gathered before the door, among whom he easily distin guished Ralph Orth. It was evident the party had been talking about him, as all eyes were turned in his direction as he approached. Ralph's position as the nephew of the richest man in the village caused a certain class to gather around him ready to laugh at his weak attempts at wit, or to follow his lead in even doubtful enterprises. Those now with him were of that description of toadies. Anticipating trouble , Hughes passed the m with head erect, and took his stand on the stoop before the door. As he did so, Ralph said something in a low tone to his companions, and laugh e d in a contemptuous manner. The others speedily joined in his mirth. Harold only caught two words, but they were enough to set his blood tingling with rage. He was just on the point of wreaking summary vengeance on the fellow when Mr. Jones, the schoolmaster, appeared at the door . In a voice filled with importance , the latter announced that the examination for West Point would take place at once, then, smiling cordially, he beckoned to young Orth. The act did not escape Harold. Compressing his lips, he calmly walked up and announced himself as a candidate.


I2 The Accident. His reception by the old schoolmaster was a cold one, but that did not disturb the lad, and he took his seat at a desk in a business-like manner . It is not necessary to give the details of the examina tion which followed. Questions, both written and verbal, were asked of the competitors in all branches of education, and at the ex piration of the noon hour a short recess was allowed. The entire afternoon was taken up with the succeeding examination, it being almost dark when the three judges announced that they were through. While the half-dozen lads under examination were leav ing the building, Harold noticed Jones slip up to Ralph's side and say something to him. The intelligence caused the latter to give a start of surprise, and the face he turne d to his companion was black with rage and what appeared to be disappointment. "By Jove! I believe he has failed," murmured Hughes to himself. Then the thought that he might be the suc cessful one caused his heart to leap with joy. The decision of the board would be announced the fol lowing morning, so Harold hastened home and related all that had taken place. "I feel that I am going to win," he said to his mother, with beaming eyes. "The questions were quite easy, and I think I satisfied two of the judges at least. , As for Mr. Jones, he will have to go with the majority." That night Hughes slept fitfully, and dreamed of martial combats and sharp skirmishes with c o pper-hued foes. Up at daybreak, he completed his few chores in feverish activity, and then, after a hasty breakfast, hurried off to the school-house. On the way he met one of the judges, a kind-hearted doctor.


The Accident. Something in the latter's face as they greeted each other caused the lad to stop and glance at him in eager ex pectation. For answer the surgeon silently handed him an official appearing envelope. "Allow me to congratulate you, my young friend , " he finally said, shaking Harold by the hand. "You have passed a very creditable examination, and will prove an honor to your native place." Too full to even reply, Harold returned home and burst into the little cottage with a whoop of joy. His mother was equally as well pl e as e d at the success of her son, but her joy was tinged with regret at the im pending separation. Ordinarily a year would elapse before the successful candidate need present himself at West Point for the final examination , but in this case the cadet from Harold's district had resigned , and the vacancy thus created was supposed to be filled th e following month . Accordingly, on the first of June our hero took an af fectionate leave of his mother, and, amid the cheers of several close friends, boarded the train for New York City. It was in the evening shortly after dark, and, as nothing could be seen of the country he was passing through, Harold settled himself comfortably in the cushioned seat of the coach, and fell to dreaming of his new life. Just behind him he had noticed a gentleman of erect form and military bearing. Something in the latter's face attracted the lad, and he felt that the friendship of such a man would be an honor. Somehow, in all the scenes he pictured in his reverie the countenance of the stranger was present. In the mad rush of battle, he was in the lead, sword in hand, and,


14 The Accident. amid the calmer surroundings of the military academy on the Hudson he also was found. "It certainly would be queer if he should turn out to be an army officer," mused Harold. He was just in the act of stealing another glance at the object of his attention when a series of shrill whistles sounded from _ the engine, and a jerking of the train indi cated the rapid application of the brakes. Seated near the forward end of the car was the con ductor. Springing to his feet, he rushed toward the door, but before reaching it the train stopped with a terrible crash. In an instant the utmost confusion reigned. The lights were extinguished, and from the wall of darkness came a chorus of heart-rending groans. Stunned by the shock, Harold lay stretched in the aisle of the day coach, where he had been thrown for a mo ment. Slowly his senses returned, but with complete con sciousness came a sensation of severe pain in his right shoulder. It was so acute that he could hardly refrain from crying with the agony at first, but presently the feeling subsided, and the tried to scramble erect. The car had been tilted to one side to such an extent that when he stood up he found the floor sloping at an angle of thirty degrees. Thankful that he was still alive, Harold crawled toward the side and felt for a window. As he did so, he noticed a glow of light appear several feet away. It increased in volume, smoke filled the shattered com partment, and then Hughes saw, to his horror, that the wreck had caught fire.


The Accident. 15 The very thought of being penned in with the devouring flames was enough. Dragging himself over a broken seat, he ran his hand along the outer wall of the coach and speedily found an open space. It was one of the nun:ierous windows, and led to safety. With a gasp of joy, the lad thrust his body through, and had almost reached the outside when he heard some one just behind cry out: "Help! help! I am pinned down and cannot escape I" For one brief moment Harold hesitated. With the horror of the accident still upon him, he first glanced at the spot offering safety so near at hand, and then his gaze wandered to the interior of the coach with its torch of leaping flame and shroud of stifling smoke. It was a veritable abyss of death-horrible, frightful death. As he paused, reluctant, on the threshold of safety, the voice again sounded : "Help! help! Will no one release me?" It was enough. With an inarticulate shout of encouragement, the brave lad left the window and dashed in the direction from whence the voice had come. "Where are you?" he cried, excitedly. "Quick! there is no time to be lost !" "Here---a few feet further on !" Groping his way, he suddenly stumbled against a form stretched prone on the floor. At that moment the dense smoke cleared away slightly, and by the ruddy light of the conflagration he saw a man's body pinned down by an overturned seat.


16 The Accident. The head was not visible, but from the movement of the limbs he knew that it was the one he sought. "Be of good cheer," said Hughes. "I will get you out, or perish in the attempt." A burst of flame edged toward them, throwing its fiery breath in their faces. Nearer and nearer came the destroying fire, lapping up the contents of the doomed coach with an insatiable appetite. Truly, but little time remained. A hoarse shouting sounded outside. Then heavy blows from numerous axes wielded by brawny arms beat upon the wooden sides, but help would surely come too late from that quarter. With eyes smarting from the pungent flames, and throat parched and blistered, Harold tugged with all his strength at the object weighing down the man he had resolved to rescue. His injured shoulder pained frightfully with each effort, but he heeded it not. Would the obstacle never yield ? Glancing about d e spairingly, the lad noticed a small, oblong case fastened to the end of the coach. Behind the glass front he could see a saw and an axe. Blessing the sensible rule providing for their presence in each car in use on the road, he sprang forward and in a twinkling grasped the latter instrument. Then hastily returning to the spot just left, the boy showered blow after blow on the seat. By that time the fire had almost reached them. The heat was intense, and more than once a groan from the prostrate man indicated that some greedy flame had touched him.


The Accident. At last, by a superhuman effort, Harold broke the frame of the seat. Thrusting it to one side, he bent over and assisted his companion to his feet. Then, overcome with the terrible heat and his exer tions, he staggered back, and all was darkness.


CHAPTER III. INTRODUCES AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. "There is no danger, then, you say, doctor?"' "Not the slightest. It is simply a case of collapse caus e d by the intense heat and excitement, I am glad to say. It would certainly be a pity if such a courageous hero should be compelled to pay the penalty for his bravery." Such was the conversation that Harold heard some time later. Slowly returning to consciousness, he became aware of several voices sounding close by. Opening his eyes, he looked upon a strange scene. He was lying on a rude litter--one of several-stretched near the track in the open air. A few torches scattered here and there, together with the dying embers of the burnt coach, cast a light upon various groups of men engaged in attending to the numerous injured. Looking up, he saw a familiar face bending over him. It was singed and blackened, but he recognized the coun tenance of the gentleman who had occupied the seat just behind him before the accident. N ear him stood one whom, from his professional air, could only be a surgeon. They were both looking in Hughes' dire ction, so when he op e ned his eyes they instantly noticed it. "Ah! my brave young friend, how are you now?" asked the doctor.


Introduces an Old Acquaintance 19 Before Harold could answer, the other stepped up and grasped his hand with a hearty grip, at the same time saymg: "Permit me to offer my thanks for your great service to me, my lad. If it had not been for your courage I would now be in the ruins of that car." So this was the man he had rescued. Harold felt doubly thankful when he made the discov ery. He was glad that he was the one for some reason. Sitting up before the surgeon could prevent him, he stepped on the ground from the stretcher. "I am all right now, sir," he replied to the medical gentleman's expostulation. "You may need the litter for some poor fellow." Then, turning to the one who had just thanked him, he added: "It was a narrow escape, sir. But how did I get out? All that I rememb e r was falling to the floor of the coach after seeing you clear of the seat." "When you got me free I just had time to help you through an open window and follow. As it was, the fire burned off part of my coat. As you say, it was a close shave. Another moment and we would have perished. I can hardly find words with which to express my gratitude to you. My name is Conrad, Lieutenant Carey Conrad of the United States Army, and I am on my way to West Point for duty there." Harold gave a start of pleasure. The announcement that the gentleman in whom he had taken such interest was an army officer came as an agreeable surprise. "I, too, am on my way to the academy, sir," he replied. "I have received the appointment from the Third Indiana


20 Introduces an Old Acquaintance. District, and am now going East for the final examina tion." "By Jove! I'm glad to hear it, Mr.--" "Hughes, sir , " quickly interposed the lad, introducing himself. "Harold Hughes." "I say agai n, I am glad to hear that you expect to enter the school, " continued Conrad. "I could not wish for anything better, Harold, if I may call you by your first name. It is just possible that I can find an opportunity to assist you in your career." "I will be glad of your aid, sir , " smiled Harold. "I hear a new boy has to pass through some queer experiences at the Point." The lieutenant laughed. "Yes; a ' pleb' has rather hard times of it, I must con fess," he said. "I remember the years I spent at the acad emy very well indeed, and they were not all sunshine by any means." To the readers who have followed the varying fortunes of the Border Boy, Carey Conrad , or "Kit Carey's Protege," as he was then known, the truth of the lieu tenant's words will be instantly appare nt. His career at the Point was indeed not all sunshine. Through the cowardly eiiorts of a treacherous foe, he came very near losing his cad e tship , won by bravery in the wild West; but right and justice at last triumphed, as it invariably does , and he graduated into the army with a host of friends to wish him success. After having served o n the frontier through the late Indian war with distincti o n , h e was at last ordered to a well-earned rest in an easy assignment at the military academy. It was while en route to his new duties that he met


Introduces an Old Acquaintance. 2 I with the accident just related, and also formed our hero's acquaintance. He was much taken with the lad's frank, manly face, and aside from the fact that he owed his life to him, something in Harold won his re gard at once, and he resolved to look after his interests in every way. As it ultimate ly transpired, young Hughes found need for a friendly hand before many months. The news of the railway wreck had been telegraphed to the division headquarters, and a special train immediately sent to the scene. Both the injured and those passengers who had escaped were embarked, and taken on to the next station. Here Harold and his n ew friend found a through train for New York awaiting them. As all the luggage except that in the baggage-car had been destroyed, the lieutenant filed a joint claim for damages and proceeded to the city. Hughes had telegraphed his mother before leaving the town nearest to the scene of the accident, thinking she might hear of it and feel worried. During the balance of the trip our hero learned many details of life at West Point, and when they took the steamer for the voyage up the Hudson he felt that he was well equipped for the coming experience. They arrived at the academy shortly before noon, and Lieutenant Conrad escorted the new candidate for military honors to the commandant's office. . "Now, Harold," he said, when they entered the build ing, "I must leave you for a little while, but I'll look you up later. You will probably be examined this afternoon, as I see by the bulletin that the board is ready. Keep a stiff upper lip, and remember that I will be very much disappointed if you fail." The kind words had a good effect, as Hughes felt a


22 Introduces an Old Acquaintance. little shaky. Now that he was on the spot, and in readi ness for the impending "probing," he realized how much success meant to him. The very appearance of the grand old Point, with its superb setting of romantic scenery, the sight of the well kept, military-appearing buildings, and a distant view of several squads of gray uniformed cadets, thrilled him with a martial feeling, and he firmly resolved to win the appointment, if it was in the power of man to do so. He well knew that the examination he had passed in Riverside was mere child's play to the one he must now undergo, but nevertheless he felt confident that his months of hard study had not been in vain. In the outer office were several other lads, evidently on the same errand as himself . One of these, a curly-headed boy about seventeen years of age, looked up and smiled as Harold entered. Making room on the settee he was occupying, he asked him to sit down, remarking: "Coming for your final examination, I suppose?" "Yes; and you also?" replied Hughes, rather glad to be able to talk with some one . "Yes, indeed. All these boys are here for that purpose. To tell the truth, I feel rather 'funked,' don't you?" Harold laughingly acknowledged that he was not altogether at his ease. "Well, if we pass, we might as well know each other," continued the other lad, good-naturedly. "My name is George West, and I am from this State." Hughes replied with his name and residence, and the two boys soon became well acquainted. Presently the commandant's secretary appeared, and called them in before that august officia l one by one. When it came Harold's turn, he entered the inner office


Introduces an Old Acquaintance. 23 and found himself in the presence of an elderly officer with a kind but stern face. "This is Harold Hughes from Indiana," he said, looking up from a paper spread out on the desk. "Well, Mr. Hughes, you are a likely appearing lad, and I hope you will pass the examination." Glancing admiringly at the boy's manly figure, he added: "You should have no difficulty in satisfying the medical board. If all those reporting here are as well set up as you, the corps will do well. Ah, by the way, the President has appointed a youth to the academy from your town. His name is-let me see-yes, here it is." Selecting a document from a file, he continued: "Appointed at large by the President, Ralph Orth, son of Captain William Orth, U. S. A." Harold could not repress an exclamation of su rprise, but it passed unheeded. "Do you know the lad ?" asked the commandant. "Yes, sir; he lives near me." "Competed with you at the local examination, eh?" asked the officer, shrewdly. "Well, I hope there will not be any ill-feeling over it." Our hero did not reply, but he had his doubts on that subject. "His father is drill instructor here, and a very able gen tleman," added the colonel. After complimenting Harold for his bravery in the rail way wreck, which had already been explained to him by Lieutenant Conrad, the commandant told him to report at medical headquarters for immediate examination. . This ceremony , although rigid, resulted in complete suc cess, and then the lad was taken before the mental board,


24 Introduces an Old Acquaintance. which he also satisfied, coming off with flying colors at the end of the six days' examination. To his delight he found that George West, his new friend, had been detailed as his room-mate in the junior dormitory. When taps sounded that night they retired completely exhausted by the nervous strain resulting from the examination, but as happy as larks in the knowledge that they were now full-fledged cadets. "I say, Harold, do you think we will be disturbed tonight?" asked George, in a whisper from his bed. "You know the old cadets have a disagreeable habit of putting greenies through their paces, as they call it." The deep silence reigning in the building caused Harold to believe that they would remain undisturbed, and he so informed his companion, but, alas! he reckoned without his host. Just as the two boys dropped into slumber, their room door quietly opened and a score of shadowy forms filed into the apartment, bearing divers strange and peculiar objects.


CHAPTER IV. CAP'l'AIN OR'l'H SHOWS HIS HAND. The first intimation Harold had of some one being in his room was a cold hand placed on his face. It just happened that at that moment he was deep in an imaginary combat with a horde of painted redskins, and his first dreamy impression was that they were trying to scalp him. Uttering a yell that rang through the room like a veri table war-whoop, he sprang from the bed and grappled with the first person he came in contact with. This line of tactics was entirely new to the hazers-for such they were-and for a moment they remained spell bound. Not so Hughes. Still laboring under the delusion that he was fighting for his very life, he kicked and struggled and rained such forceful blows on the luckless cadet he had tackled that the latter speedily fell to the floor, and appealed for help. At this moment the leader of the new-comers, seeing that the whole academy would be aroused if the hubbub continued, threw himself upon Harold, and, assisted by others, soon had him silenced by mere weight of numbers. "Shut up, will you?" growled the senior, sternly. "If you utter another sound we will gag you. Here, Jack, attend to that other pleb . " This last order came opportunely, as George West, taking advantage of the excitement, started to creep toward


26 Captain Orth Shows His Hand. the door with the laudable intention of making good his escape. He was set upon by the one called Jack, and made to return. "Now, boys," whispered the leader-a stalwart cadet named Kirby Chambers, "help me place this duck on the bed, and get everything ready for the first ceremony. Boyd, you take--" Suddenly stopping, he listened intently. A faint sound, as of the clank of a sword scabbard, came to their ears. "Sh-h-h ! Keep quiet, and get under cover! Here comes the officer of the day!" exclaimed Chambers. "Here! put these fellows in bed, and then lay low!" With the rapidity of lightning the lads bundled Harold and George into their iron cots, and arranged the covers over them in a natural manner. Then, after warning both boys to not utter a sound on their lives, they arranged themselves along the wall nearest the corridor, and waited. Harold had long since become aware of what was going on, and felt slightly ashamed that he had created such a disturbance. He resolved to take everything in good part without it culminated in downright insult; then, clenching his fist, he also awaited events. The sound outside grew nearer, and soon footsteps be came apparent. They presently halted before the door, and some one said: "This is the room the noise came from, I think, sir. Shall we enter and see?" "Yes; open the door. It is occupied by a couple of new cadets, but we must investigate. This kind of disturbance


Captain Orth Shows His Hand. 27 is becoming entirely too frequent, and discipline must be maintained." At the sound of the last words the door was thrown open, and the light from a hand-lantern penetrated the apartment. Just then Hughes gave an excellent imitation of a prolonged snore and moved restlessly on the bed. Taking the cue, George did the same with good effect. It may seem strange that neither lad took advantage of the opportunity offered for escaping further attention of their unbidden guests lined against the wall just outside of the lamp's range, but the truth of the matter is that both felt that it would not only be dishonorable to appeal for help, but also a cowardly act leading to a just retribution. They knew what a time-honored institution hazing was in the academy, and resolved to submit with as good grace as possible. As it transpired, their present actions stood them in good stead. The cadet officer of the day, a member of the senior class, had officiated at many a similar ceremony himself, and knew what was going on. In fact, from where he stood he could catch the outlines of a rotund cadet sev eral feet away, and saw at once what was on foot. Not wishing to see his comrades in trouble, he stepped back into the hall and said to his companion, an elderly commissioned officer : "Everything seems to be quiet in that room, sir. Perhaps it is from some other apartment lower down the hall. Shall we look further?" "Oh, I don't know that it is necessary," replied the other, sleepily. "I presume those new lads were dream• ing and raising a racket in their sleep."


28 Captain Orth Shows His Hand. They accordingly returned to their quarters, evidently satisfied. The cadet officer-a gentlemanly youth from the South, named Dayton-smiled to himself as the y separated, and then murmured : " I must make the acquaintance of those plebs in that room. They are bricks from the word go. Not a squeal in them." In the meantime the hazing party in Harold' s room had remained quiet until all danger was past, and then surrounded the beds again. But this time with a different purpose. Giving Hughes a friendly slap on the back, Kirby ex claimed: "I say, young fellow, you are all right. That snore of yours pulled the wool over their eyes, and maybe kept us out of a scrape. You are straight goods , both of you , and there shan't be any 'deviling of plebs' in this room, if I can help it. What do you say, fellows?" His companions united in a whispered chorus of assent, and then all crowded around Hughes and West, eager to shake hands with them. Seeing the advantage they had gained, Harold said coolly: "What are you stopping your fun for? Go ahead, and don't mind us. We would rather like the experience." For a moment he received no reply-it was evident his unexpected remark rather staggered them . Then one of the cadets gasped : "Well, I declare! Who ever heard of a freshman asking to be hazed?" "Why not?" queried George, calmly. "We are ready for anything-that's what we are here for." The tables were indeed turned.


Captain Orth Shows His Hand. 29 The crowd of seniors, headed by Chambers, had approached the room with the avowed intention of putting the new boys through a course of sprouts, as they would express it, and now, instead of following their original intention, they were trying to keep from it, although begged to continue by their supposed victims. Never before had the sacred walls of the academy looked upon such a scene. "You certainly beat my time," said Kirby, at last, with a comical laugh. "What part of the world are you from, anyway?" "Indiana," replied Hughes, in a matter-of-fact tone. "Well, I will have a greater respect for Hoosiers after this, if you are a fair sample. And this other lad?" "New York," answered West, promptly. "Ah! a good combination," said the leader, smilingly. Then he added : "Come on, boys; let's try those other plebs in the next room. Do you want to see the fun?" This last to our hero and his r:oom-mate. At first Harold was tempted to go, but he then thought it would hardly look well for a cadet joining in such sport on his first day, and he politely declined. After a few further words, during which Chambers and several others introduced themselves in a friendly manner, the cadets quietly filed out of the room and peace reigned once more. Left to themselves, Harold and George shook hands in great glee. "Nothing better could have happened," exclaimed the former. "We are now fixed for good among our new comrades. They will swear by us now." That they had really made valuable friends became apparent the following morning at reveille. Their appear•


30 Captain Orth Shows His Hand. ance in the line was the signal for an ovation which even the strict discipline could not restrain, and after the roll had been called and the ranks dismissed, they were in stantly surrounded by a number of lads, at the head of whom was Kirby Chambers. He greeted them very pleasantly, and asked innocently if they had slept well during their first night after examination. The captain of their company, Cadet Dayton, happened to pass at that momen . t. Joining them, he was introduced by Kirby, and, after a few fonpal words, said: "Hughes, you have made a right start here, and you also, West. I need not tell you to what I refer, but allow me to say that in this acad e my the spirit of honor is thought more of than anything else." During the day the two lads were duly established in the awkward squad, and initiated into the mysteries of the "set-up drill." That afternoon, while walking up and down in front of the dormitory with Kirby and George, Harold saw Lieutenant Conrad approaching. With him was an officer in the uniform of a captain, whom our hero instantly recognized as Ralph's father. Instinctively feeling that the coming interview would prove disagreeable, he excused himself and quietly sauntered toward the officers alone. "Ah! here is the lad now, Orth," said Carey, advancing with outstretched hands. Turning to his companion he started to introduce him, when something in the other's face stopped him. "Never mind, Conrad," said the captain, glancing at Harold with an evil smile on his lips. "Don't bother yourself; we have met before."


., ..... -.... :::-.::..:::-_-::..:..-....... .. Captain Orth became white with rage." (See page 31)


Captain Orth Shows His Hand. 31 Flushing at the tone, Hughes proudly drew himself up, and replied : "Yes, Mr. Conrad. We are both from the same town. In fact , I am well acquainted with the captain's son." It was an unfortunate remark. Thinking Harold was referring boastfully to his triumph over Ralph, Captain Orth became white with rage, and stepped forward as if intending to strike the lad. "What do you mean, you-you-young scoundrel !" he choked. "How dare you say my son is an acquaintance of yours. He finds his companions in his own class, not with paupers like you." Completely dumfounded, the lieutenant stood staring from one to the other. Carried beside himself by the brutal words, Hughes retorted: "I am not a pauper, sir, and you well know it. If my fat .her was living , things would be different, and his fam ily in possession of their own."


CHAPTER V. HAROLD HAS VISITORS. Harold's bold speech had a peculiar effect. Instead of retorting, the captain glared silently at him for a brief space, and then turned on his heel and walked away. "What does this mean, Hughes?" asked Conrad, staring after !he retreating form in utter amazement. A sternness in his friend's voice showed Harold that he had been guilty of a grave breach of military discipline. He had been told that insolence to a superior officer was an unpardonable sin, punishable by court-martial and probable dismissal, but nevertheless he still felt rather glad of the shot he had just given Orth. As briefly as possible he explained to Carey that portion of his family history connected with the captain, and also his triumph over Ralph at the examination in Riverside. "There is no doubt but what the captain holds malice against me for that, as he was anxious to have his son win an appointment t o the academy by competitive examina tion, but I succeeded fair and square," he added. "That reason certainly has weight," replied Carey, thoughtfully. "But it is this question of property that seems far more important to me. It is very strange that your father could have contracted such a large d ebt without the knowledge of your mother, ,and also when he was engaged in a business as profitable as you say his was." "It is a mystery, sir, and I intend to probe it to the bottom if it takes my life."


Harold Has Visitors. 33 "You are certainly right in looking into it, Harold, but" -here the lieutenant's voice became very grave-"the most important question now is, what does Orth intend doing about your late breach of military etiquette? From the manner in which he hurried away, I think he intends to bring charges against you at once." Harold's heart fell. It was certainly a misfortune to get into trouble this early in his career. What if it should result in dismissal ! The very thought caused the lad a pang of overwhelming disappointment, but he turned a resolute face to his friend and said : "It cannot be helped, sir. I would far rather lose my appointment than allow that brute to insult me." "Oh! it won't amount to that, Hughes," returned Con rad, with a faint smile. "But I am afraid you will be restricted to the grounds and given several demerits. If the captain tries to make it go farther than that, I'll step in and give my testimony in a manner he won't like." "Don't you think he will call upon you as a witness, anyway?" asked Hughes. "No doubt; but I will have but little to say, without he pushes matters. By the way, I think it would be a good idea to have a talk with him any--" "Here comes a corporal's ' guard under arms," interrupted the cadet, suddenly, pointing toward headquarters. will wager they are in search of me." . And so it proved. On reaching their vicinity the non-commissioned officer in charge halted his men, and then, after saluting the lieu t enant as befitted his rank, turned to our hero with the words:


34 Harold Has Visitors. "I am compelled to place you under arrest, Cadet Hughes, by order of the commandant." "Very well," briefly replied Harold, stepping forward. "I am ready to go with you at once." "I will accompany you as far as headquarters, Harold," said Carey. Placing his prisoner between two privates, the corporal marched the squad to the academy guard-house, followed at a little distance by the lieutenant. Just before reaching the building devoted to that pur pose, a lad dressed as a civilian stepped into view from behind the superintendent's house, and stopped short at sight of the little party. To his momentary chagrin, Hughes recognized in the new-comer Ralph Orth. That worthy's face speedily took on an expression of triumphant delight, and turning to a boy clad in the cadet gray, who presently joined him, he said something in a l ow tone. Paying no heed to them , the prisoner walked past with head erect, and soon found himself in the guard-room . The cadet-officer in charge received him with military and taking a massive key from a bunch on his desk, said: "I have crders to confine you, Hughes, for insolence to a superior ofcer, the charges being preferred by Captain Orth, U. S. A." With that he led the way to a cell, and soon had the lad locked in behind an iron grating. Left to himself, Harold at first gave way to despair. "This is a pretty ending to my dreams of military glory," he said, bitterly. "Not hardly seven days in the academy and in danger of a court-martial. Why did I bandy words with that scoundred? If I could only have


Harold Has Visitors. 35 held my tongue until on terms of greater equality with him, it would have been all right. But no; I am glad I defied him, and there will be a day of reckoning between us yet." Pacing up and down the narrow apartment, the lad tried to console himself for his sudden misfortune, but it was extremely hard work. He well understood how little his influence would be against an old army officer, but the famed justice of the academy in all cases offered some hope. Presently a rattling of keys against the door outside proclaimed a visitor, and Harold composed himself in expectation. "It is Carey Conrad," he murmured, his face lighting up. vValking over toward the entrance, he silently waited, but to his disappointment, when the barrier was thrown back he saw, not the genial lieutenant, but the one of all others he had not expected to meet-Captain Orth. As if working under previous instructions, the cadetoffi.cer of the guard closed the door after the captain had entered and walked away, leaving them together, and alone. For a moment Orth gazed steadfastly at Hughes, then folding his arms, said : "Rather a peculiar position for a week-old cadet, eh?" It suddenly flashed over Harold's mind that the visit was simply intended to afford his enemy an opportunity to gloat over his misfortune, so he vouchsafed no reply. "Answer me, boy!" repeated the other, sternly. "You heard what I said: A nice situation for one who in tended to become an officer in the army." "Well, what of it?" quietly asked Hughes, keeping his


Harold Has Visitors. temper admirably. "I thoroughly understand my and, moreover, I do not regret its cause." His companion's eyes flashed ominously, but the next words were uttered in a more conciliatory tone. "Now, see here, Hughes," he said. " I did not come here to bandy words, but to see what could be done to get you out of this scrape." Thoroughly surprised, Harold glanced keenly at the captain, and something he saw in that worthy's expression caused him to become suspicious again. Although the offer was fair, yet he could see it caused Orth a great effort, and was uttered with lying lips. Standing on his guard, he awaited the next words . "I am now of the opinion that I acted hastily in having you confined this morning," continued the other, slowly, "but you enraged me, and caused my temper to get the better of me. Now, what I propose doing is to see the superintendent and have the charges erased. To tell the truth, I hate to see a likely youth like you ruined in his fondest ambition, and I am willing to do what is right." "I will certainly feel greatly obliged, sir," replied Hughes, warmly. His suspicions were rapidly disappearing, but the next sentence revived them fourfold. Visibly gratified at the progress .he was making, the captain smiled, and then added: "Now, Hughes, one good turn deserves another; by withdrawing the charge, I start you again on the fair road to a commission, but I also wish you to do something for me." He paused and watched the effect of his unexpected statement. Instantly becoming reserved once more, Harold asked cautiously what he wanted.


Harold Has Visitors. 37 'Awkwardly clearing his throat, the captain hesitated a moment and then c ontinued: "Why, it's about this d ebt owin g to my brother Robert by your father. He wants it s e ttle d without trouble, so if you will write to y our m o th e r to sign over the property in paym e nt, I will have y o u r e leased at o nce, and--" "No, sir, never!" cried Harold, wrathfully; then he added, bitterly: "So that is why you come here with an offer of assistance ! Understand, Captain Orth ; I would not p e rsuade my mother to sign such a paper if I were here under trial for my Taken aback by the determined words of the young lad, his companion glared at him for a brief space, and then, quivering with rage, fairly shouted: "You defy me, do you? You refuse my offer! Well, know that we can secure the property without your aid easy enough. Now, stay here and whine for mercy, you scamp. I will use my greatest influence in having you dismissed from the academy at once. You shall never--" He was interrupte d by a noise at the door, and the ca det-officer was heard saying: "There is some one with the prisoner, sir; and I have orders to not disturb them." "Very well; I will wait h e re until the person comes out." It was Lieutenant Conrad. Dashing past the captain, Harold rapped on the iron grating and exclaimed: "Offic e r o f the guard, we have finished our conversa tion. Please admit the lieutenant." The door was opened immediately, and Carey passed in with a slight bow to his brother officer. Hardly noticing the salutation, Orth rushed out and disappeared. "vVhat is up now, Harold?" instantly asked Conrad.


Harold Has Visitors. The cadet explained in detail all that had passed between him and his enemy. After he had finished, Carey sat on the bed and thought long and deeply, then jumping to his feet, he cried , firml y : "There is only one thing that will save you now, Harold, and it is this: I must leave for Riverside to-night and try to secure some information about this property affair , and hold it over the captain ' s head as a threat."


CHAPTER VI. 'A 1.<'0UL CRIME. When it became generally known around the school that Hughes, the popular fourth-classman, was in con finement awaiting a court-martial, the cadets united in expressing their sympathy. Kirby Chambers had taken pains to spread a detailed account of the hazing episode, and Harold's actions on that memorable occasion had endeared him to all classes. However, the combined influence of the cadets could not help the lad any except in spirits. The evening following his interview with Captain Orth found him in communication with the lieutenant. The meeting was a brief one, and was only held so that Carey could inform his young friend of his proposed to Riverside. "I had hard work securing leave of absence, and had to give the superintendent an inkling of my object," said the faithful young officer, as he bid the lad good-by. "He has promised me to delay your court-martial for four days, but cannot promise any further time than that. I will do my best for you, old boy, but the chance of success is very slim." "You are a true friend," relied Harold, in an unsteady voice. "I-I-appreciate you ' r kindness more than words can tell. Some day perhaps I can repay you, and--" "Tut, tut!" interrupted Carey, walking toward the door. "Just_ wait until I settle my debt to you on account of that railway wreck, and then talk."


A Foul Crime. Passing from the guard-house, he set out on his mo mentous journey, leaving Hughes with brighter hopes for the future. The succeeding four days dragge d heavily along, but their conclusi o n brought no word from the absent lieu tenant. Each morning Harold listened anxiously for the well known step , but it came not, and he at last abandoned hope for aid from that quarter. That something had happen e d to d e lay Care y, he was certain. Perhaps he had utte rly failed in his mission, or maybe the train carrying him East was wrecked. At noon of the fourth day, a m e ss e n ger ent ered the cell to inform him that his pre s e nce was r e quired in the library building before a general court-martial in s e ssion there. On reaching the historic ro o m in which many a now famous warrior had b e en trie d for various off e nses, Hughes found it occupi e d by seve n officers of diff erent rank. As everything had been previously prepared, the court proceeded with the trial at o nce, calling Captain Orth as the principal witn e ss as w ell as accu se r. His t e stimony was call e d for by the judg e advocate of the court, and he was just in the act o f taking the n e c e ssary oath when an orderly entered suddenly and handed him a note. Uttering an1 impatient exclamation , the captain tore open the envelope and r ead the first f e w lines. Feeling instinctively that it had something to do with him, Harold watched Orth narrowly , and was rewarde d by seeing h i m pale to the v ery lips. Then with an oath the office r turne d to the president and asked permission to retire for a moment. Hardly waiting for the latter's consent, he left the room.


A Foul Crime. 4I The different members of the court looked at each other in languid surprise, and began gossiping over the latest garrison news. Presently the officer in command was called out, but he returned suddenly and announced that owing to the withdrawal of the charges against the prisoner, the court was dismissed. As if in a dream, Harold left the room, and passing into the outer office, found Lieutenant Conrad, travel-stained and worn out, awaiting him. Holding out both hands, Carey smilingly exclaimed: "I guess you about gave me up, Harold, didn't you? I had a hard tussle of it, but success came at last, and I arrived in time. Better late than-why, what is the matter?" There was reason for this sudden question. Harassed and worried by the experiences of the past four days, the cadet found the reaction too great, and just as his friend . was speaking, he reeled and staggered against a centre table. It was only a temporary weakness, and soon passed away, however. Leading him into the open air, Conrad walked the lad up and down the parade ground until he fully recovered, and then continued the interrupted explanation. "When I left here that night, I was at my wit's end to devise a plan for securing the necessary information, to tell the truth. I did not sleep nor eat until I had formu lated a scheme, and on arriving at Riverside, began at once to work it out. Armed with the knowledge of affairs learned from you, I went at once to the residence of Robert Orth and managed to obtain a private interview with him. I had previously provided myself with. a de tective's badge and a revolver."


42 A Foul Crime. Harold interrupted him with an exclamation of astonishment. "Yes, a badge and a gun," repeated Carey, laughingly. "The reason I used those was because I learned my man was easily frightened, and it was just possible force would be necessary. \Vell, on seeing the confounded scoundrel I proceeded to business without delay. Showing my badge, I said authoritatively: 'I have been sent here to arrest you for conspiracy in attempting to secure the fortune of the late Henry Hughes.' Well, you should have seen him. The cowardly villain went on his knees and begged for mercy. Knowing that I didn't have a leg to stand on in my accusation, I pretended to make terms with him, and secured a letter to his brother, the captain, telling him to do as I said or all was lost. Armed with that I started for this place, but was delayed en route by a washout.'' "Then he did conspire to rob us?" eagerly asked Harold, deeply interested. "Yes, but we cannot prove it yet," replied Conrad, gravely. "Although his actions satisfy us, yet it would not hold any weight in a court of law. No, we must bide our time and investigate the whole affair from beginning to end. I am satisfied in doing what I did." At that Hughes tried to thank his faithful friend, but the lieutenant stopped him before he could utter more than a few words by saying that he could see a lot of cadets at the other end of the parade-ground, evidently dying to receive him. Looking in that direction, our hero saw Kirby Cham, hers and George Vv' est, together with a crowd of other lads, waiting near the barracks. On seeing him gazing in their direction, they beckoned him to join them.


A Foul Crime. 43 "Go ahead and meet your friends, Harold," said Carey, with a smile. "We can talk this matter over some other time." Not giving the lad a chance to expostulate, he left him and walked toward his quarters. In a few minutes Hughes was the centre of a group, the members of which were all striving to shake hands with him at the same time. "I am heartily glad you came out all right," said West, feelingly. "At first I thought it was all up with you, old boy." Just then the irrepressible Kirby broke in, and handing Harold a tuft of long, coarse hair stitched to a piece of leather, said solemnly: "As a token of our esteem, allow me to present you with the scalp of your enemy, Captain Orth, which you have taken so skillfully this morning. It is his, as you can readily see by its close comparison to a jackass' hide." Amid shouts of laughter, the party entered the dormitory and scattered to their studies. George and Hughes went at once to their room, where the former told his companion that he !::!ad a piece of information for him. "There is a cadet newly joined who has been quietly running you down among the fellows," he said, gravely. "He came to Kirby and I with a tale about your home, but we soon shut him up. Chambers was for licking him then and there, but I thought it best to wait until we saw you." "Is his name Ralph Orth?" asked Harold, quietly, but an ominous gleam in his eyes spoke volumes. "Yes, that is his name. He is from ) ;our place, Riverside, I believe." "What did he say?" George hesitated, as if unwilling to carry tales. Then,


44 A Foul Crime. evidently making up his mind to place his friend on his guard, he said : "Among other things the fellow stated was that you had begged the m embers of the local board to pass you, as your m othe r was poor and you wanted to support her." At the despicable lie, Harold became almost frantic with rage. Seizing his cap, he started toward the door, but West interposed himself and said: "Now, don't be raising a row in public, old boy. Just wait here a moment and I will bring the beggar up here; then you can make him eat his words. I'll also get some of the fellows as witnesses." Seeing the wisdom of the plan, Hug h es curbed his wrath and remained in the room while his friend set out in search of the captain's worthy son. Presently a noise in the corridor indicated that several persons were approaching. Eagerly walking toward the door, Hughes neared it just as George and Kirby entered the room. They were alone. Harold's questioning glance instantly elicited the information that Ralph had absolutely refused to come. "The blamed coward is down near the riding-school, and when I told him to step up here a moment, he grinned and said that if any one wished to see him they could call at his office," explained Chambers, with a burst of indignation. "Well, that is what we will do," replied Hughes, quietly. "The tan-bark arena is a splendid place for a 'scrap,'" remarked West, highly delighted at the prospect. On entering the parade-ground, the three lads slack ened their pace and sauntered leisurely along for the purpose of disarming suspicion .


A Foul Crime. 45 They well knew that if they were seen moving in any certain direction in evident haste, the whole mob of cadets, with possibly an inquisitive officer, would soon follow. After skirting the library they walked down a road sloping to the water's edge, and when midway, turned abruptly toward the huge building known as the riding school. While passing a clump of bushes at the top of the lane, neither of the lads saw a malignant face peering at them from amid the foliage, nor were they aware of the evil passions raging in its owner's breast. Just as they dis appeared in search of the captain's son, that worthy left his place of concealment, and hastening to the stone parapet lining the upper edge of the road, dislodged a huge fragment of rock, and with desperate energy hurled it into the space below. There was a series of echoing thuds as the terrible missile struck and rebounded from the rocky surface of the bluff, then a cry of agony sounded on the sultry air, immediately followed by an ominous silence.


CHAPTER VII. THE CONVERSATION. with the final echoes of that terrible cry ringing in his ears Ralph skipped away from the edge of the road and slunk into the shadows of a near-by row of trees, then rapidly made his way back past the library building to a path leading down to the cavalry barracks. Keeping as much as possible out of sight, he skirted that structure and the stables, and then leisurely sauntered out on a small space fronting the riding-school. Just as he came into view, a small group of lads gathered near the face of the bluff, turned and saw him. One of them, Harold Hughes, broke from the others, and striding up to Orth, shook his fist in the latter's face with the exclamation : "I have you at last, confound you! If the truth was known, that is a piece of your work also !" As he spoke, he pointed toward a cadet lying on the ground. The lad's face was covered with blood, and, from all appearance, he was seriously injured. A shattered fragment of rock near by told the tale. Ralph grew deadly white, and trembled violently for a moment. "What is the matter?" he stammered. "Who is it?" "George West, one of the new boys," broke in Kirby Chambers. "He was struck by a piece of stone some villain threw down from the path. Do you know who did it?" As he spoke he glanced keenly at young Orth. The latter avoided the look, and hastily replied:


The Conversation. 47 "No, of course not; why should I? Anyway, I don't believe it was pitched by any one. Those rocks up there are loose, and it may have been dislodged by the wind." Just then a surgeon from the hospital, accompanied by two privates with a stretcher, appeared and examined the wounded cadet. In the excitement, Ralph slipped away and disappeared up the road, unnoticed. Presently the doctor finished, and made the welcome announcement that Geor g e was simply stunned by the missile, but his right arm had been broken. "It was a very narrow escape," he added, glancing at the h e avy pieces of rock scattered about, "and if any fragment of larger size had struck him my services would be useless in the case." Under his directions the two men from the hospital corps lifted \Vest tenderly, and laid him on the canvas stretcher. Harold and Kirby accompanied their injured friend to the door of the hospital, and left him there on the surgeon's assurance that they would be allowed to see George that afternoon. "I tell you what it is, Chambers," said Hughes, as they walked back to the barracks, "I honestly believe the coward, Ralph Orth, was the cause of the accident. It is hard to think that a youth of his age, and a cadet of the Point would be guilty of such a dastardly crime, but I know him of old. He wouldn't hesitate at anything-not even murder-to get square with me." "Then you think the rock was intended for you?" asked his companion, in horrified tones. "Yes, that is my beli e f," r e pli e d Harold, thoughtfully. "Of course it would be impossible to prove it without witnesses, and it is be s t to say nothing about the affair,


The Conversation. but I will always think poor George is the victim of that villain's desire for revenge." "It is a shame that such a lad should be an army cadet!" exclaimed Kirby, indignantly. "This is no place for fel lows of his class. The very idea of a boy not yet eighteen trying to kill a person. If he is that way n ow, what kind of an officer will he make? And to have charge of men, too. Can ; t we do something to get him out of the academy?" "I hardly know," answered Hughes, slowly . "You see his father is a captain, and has a great deal of influ ence here, or he wouldn't have been able to get a Presidential appointment for Ralph. If we made a r eport of the affair to the commandant he would instantly ask for proofs. Then where would we be?" "Cashiered ourselves." "Yes; kicked out for bringing false charges. Our best plan is to keep both eyes open and watch the coward. We will catch him sooner or later, n eve r you mind. In the meantime I am going to interview him and stop his lies about me." "When? Hadn't you better settle it at once?" a sked Kirby, eager for a fight. Do not let it be supposed from this that W es t Point is an abode of lads fond of dis g rac e ful or brutal combats. Far from it! Neither the training there nor the class of youths admitted to the academy would allow it, but a cadet is taught, from the moment of entrance to the hour of graduation, that he must at all times be able to take care of himself either physically or mentally . Woe to the boy who shirks a challenge to fisticuffs by way of a settlement of petty differences! He would speedily find out the power of his companions' contempt. Kirby Chambers was no different from lads of his age


The Conversation. 49 and century, however, and he hailed the prospect of a fight between his friend and Ralph with joy, and offered his services at once. "You stroll down to the ravine back of practice fort, and I will look Orth up. If I give him the challenge be fore witnesses, he can't refuse to meet you. If he does, it'll just be our chance to shame him out of the academy. See?" "Yes, I s e e," smiled Harold, amused at his companion's evident enthusiasm. "I doubt very much whether you can get h i m down there. He is tricky, and will get out of it some way. D on't be long." Chamb ers darted away at a rapid speed, and Hughes walked slowly across the cavalry parade-ground to a series of earth-works in the northeastern corner of the plateau. Passing through the site of the summer camp, he crossed over a moat and entered the fort. It was deserted except by a couple of artillerymen cleaning a mortar. Down in one corner of the inclosure was a section of bastion lately constructed by the third-class cadets . Deeply interested in anything pertaining to his studies, Harold strolled over in that direction, intending to examine it for "points." On nearing the vicinity, he suddenly became aware of voices in conversation just beyond, and halted, not wishing to play the part of eavesdropper, but the unexpected mentioning of a name attracted his attention. The voice of one was familiar, too. It was Ralph Orth, and he was talking about Hughes."Yes, he is a low-born pauper, and his graduation would be a disgrace to the academy," came the words. "I would give a thousand dollars if he was dismissed in a month."


50 The Conversation. Harold heard Ralph's unknown companion laugh, then the latter replied : "A thousand, en? Well, you must want to get rid of him badly. If I thought you really meant it, I would try to earn the reward." "Mean it!" echoed Ralph, grimly. "Why, I would give more than that if he was convicted of some disgraceful act and fired from here. Have you the nerve to try for the money?" At that moment Harold, wild with rage and indigna tion, was just on the point of darting around the consiprator's hiding-place, when it suddenly struck him that now would be a good time to secure evidence of Ralph's plot ting. He paused and reflected that nothing could be accom plished without witnesses. Where could they be found in time to overhear the rest of the scheme? Glancing hastily around Harold saw the two artillery men. Their backs were turned, and both were busily engaged cleaning the trunnions of the mortar. A call or whistle to attract their attention would also alarm the plotters. Making up his mind to slip over and bring them to the spot, Hughes started hurriedly in that direction. Before he had gone five paces a loud shout came from the sally-port. "Hi there, Harold! Have you seen anything of that cub? I can't find head or tail of him." Turning quickly, Hughes saw Kirby Chambers appear in view, waving his hand. "Confound it! He has spoiled everything now!" groaned the young cadet, regretfully. He knew that Ralph would hear the noise and stand his guard.


The Conversation. SI It was too late now to help matters, so Harold beckoned his friend over and said : "He is behind the bastion with some fellow. I heard their voices a moment ago. We will walk around and have this affair done with." At first he intended to tell Kirby what he had overheard, but finally concluded to say nothing at present, and think it over . Chambers did not wait for further information, but led the way in a great hurry. On reaching the other side of the mound, they saw Ralph just rising to his feet from where he had been sitting on the sloping base of the bastion. He paled slightly on seeing them, and started toward the lower entrance, but a stern command from Hughes brought him to a halt. "A word with you, Ralph Orth," said the former planting himself in the other's way. "I have a little business to settle with you." Just then Ralph's companion started up and walked toward them. It was a second-class cadet named Barrett-a burly, hulking fellow, much disliked for his petty ways and illtreatment of his smaller acquaintances. "What's all this about, eh?" he demanded, roughly. Orth shot a meaning glance in his direction, and ex claimed, hurriedly: "Stand by me, Dick, will you? These cads are going to attack me." At that juncture Kirby interposed, and facing the older cadet , shouted : you keep your nose out of this scrap, Dick Bar rett. That coward has been running down my chum, and Hughes is going to make him own up. I am here to see


Tl;ie Conversation. fair play, and I won't allow any interference by you or anybody else." While speaking he doubled his fists and stood on the deft-nsiv-e in a mnst scientific manner. The big cadet glared at him in amazement, then with a howl of rage drew back his arm and aimed a blow at Kirby's head. The latter was expecting it , however , and countered lightly with his right, at the same time launching out with his other fist in such a forcible way that Master Barrett landed on the ground at Kirby's feet, in a highly excited state of mind. In meantime Harold was not idle. Grasping Orth by the collar, he raised his hand threat eningly and exclaimed : "You have got to publicly retract everything you have said about me at this academy, or I will thrash the life out of you I"


CHAPTER VIII. THE FIGHT. "I-I-haven't said anything about you," stammered Ralph; then beginning to bluster, he added: "Take your hands off of me ! How dare you attempt to-" "Did you hear what I said?" sternly demanded Hughes, giving the collar a twitch. "You've been spreading a parcel of lies about me, and I want you to promise that you will contradict them, or I will thrash you within an inch of your life !" Young Orth glanced desperately around as if looking for aid, but his search was without result. His late ally, Cadet Barrett, had found a match in the pugnacious Chambers. The big bully experienced a short moment of the greatest surprise of his life during the time he laid on the ground. . Always accustomed to receiving an immediate acknowl edgment of his prowess when tackling the smaller lads of the school, he reckoned without his host this time. However, to tell the truth, Kirby was equally as aston ished at the success of his blow. Although he struck out with the laudable intention of flooring the other, yet when he found Dick at his feet he was almost inclined to run for fear of reprisal. Instantly giving up the idea, he seized a big stick close by, and, when Barrett struggled erect, made for him with the determined words : "Now get out of here, you brute, or I will beat the head off you!"


54 The Fight. To prove the truth of his threat he whacked his antagonist across the shoulders so shrewdly that the latter nearly fell to the earth again. "Let up, confound you!" roared Dick, wild with pain. "Oh! but I'll kill you when I--" Bang, whack! "No threats, my brave soldier!" replied Kirby, plying his weapon in a skillful manner. "Now, get! Run home and tell your mamma." Barrett made a dash at the mocking lad , and after a short struggle succeeded in wresting the stick from him. Then raising it aloft he was just in the act of aiming a murderous blow at Kirby when Harold, seeing the turn of affairs, came to the rescue. "No, you don't!" he cried, grasping the arm holding the weapon. One quick jerk and the stick fell to the ground, leaving Dick between two foes. Wild with fury the bully turned on his new assailant and grappled with him. He managed to get in a blow on Hughes that caught the latter under the chin quite sharply, then following up the advantage, forced our hero against the end of the bastion. His triumph was only momentary, however. The training from many a rough and tumble scrimmage in Harold's Western home had taught the lad certain tricks which he now lost no time in using. • Ducking his head to save it from punishment, he caught Dick around the waist and gave himself a whirl to the right, the momentum twisting his antagonist sideways. Not expecting such a manceuvre, Barrett's feet became tangled up and he fell heavily with Harold on top of him.


"You have got to retract everything you have said." (See page 52)


The Fight. 55 "Give it to him now, Hughes!" shouted Kirby, dancing about excitedly. "Make him surrender!" But Harold sprang to his feet and stood on the defen sive, while Dick also scrambled erect. "Do you want any more?" demanded the former, squar ing off. Barrett simply contented himself with scowling evilly, and limped away, leaving the smaller lads in possession of the field. "Hurrah!" shouted Chambers, tossing his cap in the air. Then running up on the bastion he flapped his arms and crowed like a rooster. "Come down from there," warned Harold. "You will attract some of the officers . " Glancing about, he noticed that Ralph had taken ad vantage of the fracas with Dick and slipped away. "Such a cowardly desertion of his friend only shows him up in his true colors," said Hughes to Kirby, as they straightened their apparel before leaving the spot. "He begged for help quick enough," replied the other, contemptuously. "But when the shoe was on the other foot it didn't fit." "I suppose we can expect trouble from that bully, Dick Barrett," suggested Harold, thinking of the plot he had overheard. "Cert. He'll try and catch us in some out-of-the-way place alone, and then lick us." "If he can," laughed our hero. "I think we taught him a lesson to-day that he won't forget in a hurry. The whacks you gave him with that club must sting yet . " While crossing the parade-ground they saw Lieutenant Conrad leave the officers' row and walk toward them. He signaled Harold to stop. The latter did so, while Kirby proceeded on his way to the barracks.


The Fight. "I have some news for you, my boy," smiled Carey. "Your great friend the captain has applied for a furlough of one month, and leaves to-night." "I am heartily glad to hear it, sir," promptly replied Hughes. "The air here will be m ore free during that time. I wonder if he is going home." "Perhaps. And if he does I suppose I will hear more of my visit there. It don't make much difference, how ever, as that old scamp, Robert Orth, is too badly fright ened to say much." "I hope you will not get into any trouble through me," replied his companion, anxiously. "My shoulders are broad enough, young man, even if I do," laughed the lieutenant. A glance at his stalwart figure showed that it was no boast. Years of roughing it on the wild Western plains had given the handsome officer a frame of iron and a constitution capable of meeting any hardship. Still Harold did not like the idea of seeing his kind friend annoyed because of his connection with the Orth mystery, and he again told him so in plain words. At that Carey pretended to grow angry, and told the cadet that if he did not stop talking on the subject he would report him at headquarters for disobedience of orders. "And you will not escape so easily this time, sir," he added, trying to hide the merry twinkle in his eye. "You are a true friend, Lieutenant Conrad," replied Harold, gratefully. "And I will never forget you." He then described the late adventure with Ralph and Dick Barrett to the great edification of his companion. After a f ew moments' further conversation, Carey walked on toward the stables, where he was to take part in the meeting of a board for inspecting cavalry horses,


The Fight. 57 and Hughes went to the hospital to inquire after his injured room-mate. He found George doing well, but low-spirited from the thought that he would be compelled to remain in bed for several weeks. This was particularly unfortunate, because the school expected to go into camp before many days. "I wouldn't mind it so much if this was winter," he growled, tossing about on the hospital cot. "But to think of you fellows having good times in the tents while I am laid out here like a spiked gun, makes me mad." "It is mighty hard, old boy," agreed Harold, sympa thetically. "But never mind; you will be all right before long, and then you can join us. I'll call every day and tell you the news." After explaining his encounter with Orth he left for his room. During the next few days nothing of interest occurred. The captain departed on his furlough, and it soon be came evident that he had instructed his son to avoid any trouble with Harold, as the latter only ran across his enemy at d rill or in the mess-hall. At the end of our hero's third week in the academy an order was issued from headquarters that the battalion of cadets would move into the summer camp the following day. It is the custom at West Point to exercise the students in actual tent life during the months from July to Sep tember. The transfer from their more or less stuffy rooms to the cool freedom of the field is invariably hailed with delight by both rank and file, and the scene incident to the moving is one of gayety and good fellowship. Down in one corner of the extensive space forming


58 The Fight. the centre of the academy is a spot partially shaded by noble old trees. It is laid out in stre ets and avenues, and made conve nient by perman ent racks for guy ropes and ridge pol e s. Here the rows of snow-white tents are placed with the quickness of discipline, and in an incredibly short time the whole four hundred lads are as much at home as when in stationary quarters. The class of "plebs" to which Harold belonged were stationed at the lower end, directly: under the watchful eye of the commandant. This fact did not prevent the youngsters from playing sly tricks on each other, however, and, if the white walls had been suddenly cleared away by an unfriendly gust of wind, the old warrior then at the head of the school would have beheld some strange and comical sights. A couple of daring spirits occupying the tent next to Harold had taken it into their mischievous heads to haze a new-comer as a fitting dedication of the transfer to camp. One of them ran over and brought an innocent-looking package from some secret hiding-place under the bluff, and called Hughes and the other kindred friends to wit ness the ceremony of "deviling a pleb." On entering the tent, Harold Hughes found Kirby Chambers enthroned as the lead e r. This did not surprise him in the least , as he knew that his lively fri e nd would rather be in mischief than eat. "Hi, the re , old boy; you are just the one we want," was Kirby ' s boisterous greeting. "We are going to have no end of fun, and at the same time teach an innocent fre shman that he is simply a wart on the earth until he passes his first year." "The deuce you say!" retorted Hughes, catching him


The Fight. 59 by the ear. "Just remember, sir, that I am a 'pleb' also, and not a wart by any means." "Oh, you're different," explained Chambers, in a con ciliatory manner. "You cut your eye-teeth at that court martial. Now. for business. What we want to do is to inveigle that slim chap called Hawkins in here, then we'H do the rest."


CHAPTER IX. CAUGHT RltD HANDED. "Do you mean the 'fence-rail' from Kentucky?" asked Harold, with a grin. "Yes, the lad that arrived last week with his dad and a nigger valet. He's the kind we don't want in this acad emy. We are not dudes, even if that Missouri Congressman does think so. Fancy not sending a cadet from his district simply because he has an idea it is a 'dude mill,' to use his words. If he would come here and see us at spade and shovel drill, he'd change his mind." "Yes, or travel around the parade-ground for an hour at double time w ith only one 'place rest,'" spoke up another youth, whose athletic form showed the good effects of such exercise. "I confess from my own experience that outsiders haven't the least knowledge of West Point," said Hughes, seriously. "I thought myself that it was only nice uni forms and a soft time when I join ed." "Ha! ha! I guess the belief must have left you yes terday, Hughes," lau gqed Chambers. "When I saw you in the trench with a pick-axe, about two o'clock, the per spiration was rolling from your noble brow like gravy from a duck's back. And you didn't have on a particular ly nice uniform, either." "That earth-work practice is hard on the muscle at first," confessed Harold. "It's good exercise, though, and we shouldn't complain about a little labor. There is noth ing degrading in manual labor when it's in a good


Caught Red-Handed. 6r "That is just what I want to impress on Hawkins' mind," chuckled Kirby. "You see, he thinks he is to be an officer the first thing, and should only stand around and order other men to do the work. He has altogether different ideas from his 'pred,'* who is now a second lieutenant in the seventh cavalry. I understand he was an honor to his State and to the academy." "Kentucky boys are all right," remarked Hughes, preparing to leave the tent in search of Hawkins. "You will find nincompoops from every State, but really, I think it a good idea to teach this particular one a lesson. He will be all the better for it . " While he was gone, Kirby and several others perfected their plans. It was risky business, this hazing within twenty yards of the commandant, to say nothing of a dozen cadet offi cers in the near vicinity, but the fact did not deter the young scalawags. The more peril they were in, the better they enjoyed the fun. And in this they were no different from other lads of their age, or other ages, for that matter. Presently voices were heard outside, and the tent-flap was thrown back, revealing Harold and a tall, slim youth with sandy hair. The latter's face was wreathed with smil es, and he glanced at the inmates with a cordial . nod of salutation. "Gentlemen, this is Cad e t Hawkins from 'Kaintuck,' " remarked Harold, solemnly, bowing low as he spoke. "I carried your invitation to him, and he has agreed to honor us in our little select gathering." *Predecessor.


Caught Red-Handed. "Weally, now; don't put it in that light, don't you know," expostulated Hawkins, weakly. "I-ah-consider it quite an honoh to visit other members of my-ahdass, don't you know." He produced a single eye-glass from some mysterious pocket, and, adjusting it carefully, tried to look important. Kirby stifled a giggle, and ceremoniously offered Hawkins a seat on the edge of a cot. "Pardon me, your royal-I should say, my honored friend, for asking you to sit on an ordinary cot, but, you know, we are not allowed any articles of furniture by our overbearing superior officers, you know; and, you know, we cannot receive such distinguished guests as yourself, you know, with becoming propriety, you know." This remarkabl e speech was received with a stare of mild surprise by Hawkins, but it was seen that he felt flattered at his reception. He stepped forward, bowing and smiling, and was in the act of gracefully seating himself when, with an adroit movement, one of the cadets tripp e d him up. Harold was just in time to stifle a shriek of astonish ment which came from the dude's lips. "My gracious! What is--Mur--!" squawked the now terrified youth. He got no further, as Hughes pressed a restraining hand on his mouth, effectually checking an alarm. "Quick, boys!" called out the former, pressing Hawkins down on the bed. "Get to work or he'll have the whole camp about our ears." Chambers thereupon produced a gag made of wood and cloth, and shoved it into the Kentuckian's mouth. The lat ter's arms and legs were then securely fastened and he was placed m an upright position on one of the camp stools.


Caught Red-Handed. '.After this had been accomplished, the inmates of the little tent stood off and admired their work. "He don't look ' very c o mfortabl e ,'' chuckled Kirby. "I guess this is a lesson he didn ' t anticipate, eh? Well , it will be one of the most thorough he ' ll receive in this academy." " Do you think he will stand it?" asked one of the boys . in mock tones of anxiety. "Oh, yes, I suppose so," replied Chambers, carelessly. "He's strong, and ought to bear a lot of pain. However, if he don't, we can ' t help it. It is far better to cripple a man at once than to let him impose on the public as a hardy officer fro m West Point." The prison e r writhed uneasily, and turned an imploring countenance toward Harold. He seemed to be badly frightened, and was becoming more so every minute. Harold turned to Chambers and whispered: "Get the thing over with, my boy, and don't make it too rough, as the fellow is on the high-road to hysterics now." "All right, Hughes,'' replied Kirby; "I don't believe he is very game myself." Striding up to the trussed youth, he struck a commanding attitude in front of him and said, ste rnly : "Now, look you , my bold lad, I intend giving you a f e w pointers in West Point etiquette, and I want you to pay strict attention. Do you understand?"' Hawkins nodded eagerly, and tried to answer, but the gag prevented him. "You came here from Kentucky as a cadet,'' continued Chambers , bending forward and lowering his voice im pres s ively. "You should have known before joining the school that this is no place for dudes or milksops , but an academy where the youth of America are taught to be


Caught Red-Handed. officers and gentlemen, where they are brought up in the strictest sense of military discipline, and, moreover, able to command themselves before being placed where they command others." "Hear! hear!" applauded Harold and the others, softly. Giving them a complacent smile and a wink, Kirby resumed: "Now, we, the committee upon good morals, have ob served your conduct since arriving with sorrow. You do not come up to the standard, and we concluded it was our duty to elevate you. For that reason you were brought here by our companion. Your case 1s a very bad one, and should receive heroic treatment, but we will see what can be done in your interest. All of the gentlemen present have passed through the ordeal, and are now manly, upright, and--" "Oh!" groaned Hughes and several others, unable to stand the strain. "Silence!" commanded Chambers, red in the face from an overwhelming desire to laugh. After a moment he continued : "Now, I intend permitting you to select your trial of endurance, although that is a favor vouchsafed to few. You will please listen to the testimony of my comrades, and then you can pick out a similar punishment from either one of theirs. Hawkins' eyes were bulging out with fright, and his face paled and reddened alternately. Turning to Harold, Kirby solemnly asked: "What trial did you suffer?" "Had my ears split, and my nose removed for ten days," replied Hughes, promptly. The callow youth in the chair made an inarticulate sound that was very like a groan.


Caught Red-Handed. "And you?" continued the leader, addressing another cadet. "They unscrewed one of my legs and made me carry it across the parade-ground in my mouth like a dog," answered the lad, checking a giggle. Another gasp and a groan. "What was your trial?" asked Kirby of a third, trying his best to refrain from roaring with laughter in the effort. "Oh, I got off easy. They made me grease the back of my head with suet aad slide off the library roof at midnight, when the moon-or the commandant-was full." This was too much. Harold exploded with mirth, and gave the ingenious cadet such a slap on the back that he stumbled against the prisoner, upsetting him with a re sounding crash. The accident caused the gag to work loose, and it dropp e d from Hawkins' mouth, a fact he no sooner ascer tained than he improved the opportunity by emitting a most unearthly yell. Harold and Chambers stood aghast. "Great Scott! we are gone up now!" exclaimed the latter, ruefully. "All the officers this side of 'Cro' Nest' will be here in a second." "Quick! I see a way out of the difficulty!" exclaimed Hughes. "How?" groaned his companions. In reply the young cadet sprang toward Hawkins, who was still lying on the floor unable to move, and rolled him behind the cot, pulling the blanket down so that it effectually concealed him. Then bidding all except Kirby


66 Caught Red-Handed. slip under the canvas wall in the rear, he deftly tied a towel around his face and sat down on one of the stools. He was just in time. Several persons were heard approaching outside, and the flap was suddenly thrown back, revealing the imposing figure of the commandant and three or four other officers. "What is the matter here?" sternly demanded the colo nel, eyeing our hero suspiciously. "Oh! oh! oh! my tooth!" groaned Hughes, rocking back and forth. "He is suffering from a sudden toothache," explained Chambers, gravely. "He came in here to ask me if I could give him anything, as he didn't care to bother the doctor, At that moment the cot heaved convulsively, and Hawkins rolled out before the astounded gaze of the officers I


X. :AN UNSUCCESSFUi, PI,OT. For a moment there was a dead silence, then the com mandant, turning his face away to conceal a fleeting smile, iaid grimly: "And is this youngster suffering from toothache, also?" Kirby blushed guiltily and replied: "No, sir; I-I-think he is not feeling well, and--" "Not feeling well? " interrupted the colonel, unable to restrain a hearty laugh. "Well, I should say-ha! ha!he isn't. Neither would I in that condition. Release him at once." Chambers obeyed with alacrity. He took heart from the officer's face, and made up his mind to keep that worthy in good humor if possible. Hawkins slowly ros e to his feet when the ropes were removed , a nd stood staring from one to the other in a vacant manner. "What is the matter with you, sir?" asked the com mar..dant, sternly. "How did you come behind that cot tied in such a disgraceful manner?" The cadet looked at Harold and Kirby as if fearing to answer. ' At that Hughes dashed the towel from his face and drew himself up stiffly. R e moving his cap in salutation, he said , in a quiet, d e termined voice: "Cadet Hawkins is not to blame, sir. I asked him in this tent, and tried to teach him a little manliness. If any one is to be punished for this, it is I, sir."


68 An Unsuccessful Plot. "No, no, sir," spoke up Kirby, eagerly. "I am to blame. Hughes was invited by me to help teach Hawkins the ropes, and--" "That will do," interrupted the colonel. "I am surpris ed to s e e such conduct in camp, and especially from a couple of intelligent lads like you. Go to your proper quarters, and remain there until sunset. In the meantime, I will consider the matter. " As he moved away the genial old warrior-a former graduate of West Point himself-said slyly to Harold: "I think you had better report to the surgeon on duty and ask him to extract that troublesome tooth. It has caused y ou enough worry." When he had disappeared Harold observed Kirby going through an elaborate pantomime in one corner of the tent. The merry lad was pretending to work a pair of dental forceps on the head of the cot, at the same time making horrible faces as if expiring with agony. Even Hawkins laughed. "By Jove! don't you know , " said the latter. "That is deuced funny. But, I say, you fellows have been playing what the vulgar call 'taffy' on me , don't you know. Not that I mind a little sport, but you-ah-frightened me quite strongly, don't you know." Chambers stopped his antics to at the youth in surprise. "Why, the gilly is still alive , Hughes. This will never do. He has failed to stand the test, and we must--" "No more of that, confound you!" retorted Harold, shaking his head. "We are good for a couple of demerits as it is, and I think we don't need any more this day. Hawkins, you had better skip for your tent and lay low. Keep your precious mouth shut about this affair, and per haps we will release you from any further trouble."


An Unsuccessful Plot. 69 The cadet from Kentucky did not require any stronger invitation, but left at once, still a little dazed. "Well, I suppose I had better have it over with," sighed Hughes. "Have what over with?" asked Chambers. "Why, this to o th-pulling. The old man meant what he said, and I'll wager a pair of socks to a paper collar that he will find occasion to look in my mouth before morning." Kirby fell back on the cot and shook with laughter. "You don't mean to say-ha! ha !-that you intend losing a tooth, old boy?" he gasped. "Y-yes, but I have a hollow one that won't count much." After giving his friend a reproachful glance, our hero left the tent and walked over to the surgeon's headquar ters. He found one of them in attendance and promptly explained his wish. It did not take long to perform the operation, and Hugh es soon returned to his company bearing the tooth as a souv e nir. That afternoon about an hour after dress parade, Kirby called Harold to one side in a mysterious manner. "I have just heard a bit of news that will interest you, chum," whispered the former, cautiously. "You remember that big brute, Dick Barrett, in the third class?" "Yes; the fellow we had a fight with last week." "Well, he has concocted some kind of a plot against one of the cad e ts, and is going to carry it out to-night." "What is it?" "I didn't hear all the particulars, but it is bad enough, and we want to stop it if possible. You know his tent is next to mine, and he bunks with that pre cious acquaint ance of yours-Ralph Orth. Well, just before retreat I


An Unsuccessful Plot. got in behind my place to tighten a guy-rope, when I heard the big bully say something in a loud voice about not making another step if he didn ' t get the whole thou sand. Then his companion, who I think was Orth him self, said something I couldn't hear, and for a minute they talked softly." "What do you suppose they meant?" asked Harold, thoughtfully, then he suddenly remembered the conversation he had overheard back of the bastion, and it all be came clear to him. Before explaining it to Kirby, he waited for that lad to finish his story. "Just before I got through with my little job, I heard Dick Barrett say: 'Well, we will cook his goose to-night, then, after taps, eh?' and the other fellow laughed and said that would do. Now, I don't know who they were talking about, nor what they meant to do, but I am sure it is some dirty trick." "Did you hear anything that would give an inkling of their plan?" anxiously asked Hughes. "Try and recall some expression or word that would help us to tain their purpose." Kirby glanced at his companion in surprise. "Why, you seem deeply interested in the affair." "I have cause to be," replied Harold, grimly. "I am the fellow they are after." "What ! You?" "Yes, your humble servant. It is some despicable plot formulated by that coward, Ralph Orth, to get even with me." He briefly explained the conversation heard on the memorable day of the fight, to the great indignation of Chambers. "Confound them I they will have to get up pretty early


An Unsuccessful Plot. if they succeed !" he exclaimed, then gazing reflectively at his companion, he added : "This puts a different face on the subject, Harold. I will try and think if I-yes, by Jove I I have it. Dick mentioned something about a bottle of rum, but what he meant, I don't know." "Maybe it was to slip it into my tent, or near by, and then tell the officer of the day?" suggested Hughes, trying to stimulate Kirby's memory, but without result. "I guess that was what he intended doing. However, we are warned, and can watch them." "Well, if he tries it, and I catch him, the cur can trust to a good beating, if it is midnight I" exclaimed Harold, threateningly. Mess call sounded just then, and the two friends sepa rated, after agreeing to meet that night at taps. When the last notes of the bugle died away, Hughes heard a low "hist" just outside of his tent. The sound came from the right, and apparently be tween his canvas quarters and the one next door. His room-mate was sound asleep, ha:;;ing retired shortly after tattoo, so the coast seemed clear for suc ceeding events. Creeping out of bed fully dressed, Harold stooped down and lifted the canvas a few inches, revealing to his expectant gaze the familiar face of his , friend Chambers. "Hurry up and come out here," whispered the latter, gleefully. "I see some one approaching." It was but the work of a moment for the active cadet to slip under the wall, and he soon occupied a place next his friend. The night was dark, but a lamp or gas-jet placed here and there in the company street gave a dim, subdued light.


An Unsuccessful Plot. Presently a shadowy figure slipped into view, and, halting in front of Hughes' tent, threw a package inside so that it would strike near. the cot. A slight thud came to their ears, and then Harold stepped out and brought his hand down on the mysterious visitor's shoulder. "What are you doing here?" he demanded, sternly. Kirby came up just then, and with a quick wrench tore away a sash the fellow wore around the lower part of his face, and Dick Barrett stood revealed. His ugly face was pale, and he panted for breath, as if terribly excited. "Wh-what do you want?" he stammered, trying to break away, but Hughes stopped him by grasping his arm in a tight grip. "None of that, you dog!" he said. "You are caught fair and square, and I am going to take you to the officer of the day." Dick glanced hastily from side to side, as if meditating a dash for liberty, but seeing the impossibility of it, he gave in and implored to be released. "I didn't mean any harm, Hughes," he quavered, badly frightened at the prospect of being exposed. "It was only a joke, and if you won't say anything about it I will make it all right with you." Harold gave the cowering wretch a contemptuous glance and then sternly bade him enter the tent. "We will see what you threw in there." Barrett went in very unwillingly , but he was compelled to under the circumstances-said circumstances being an old rusty bayonet Kirby had picked up, and which he used as a persuader on the fellow's flank.


CHAPTER XI. HAROI,D IS SHOT I On reaching the interior, Harold felt about until he found the object. He was ably guided by a pungent odor of rum which had become very perceptible in the close atmosphere. On being opened, the package disclosed to view a small flask filled to the neck with liquor. The discovery of spirits on a cadet or anywhere inside the academy grounds is a very serious offense according to the wise rules of the Government, and any infraction generally carries instant dismissal as a punishment. Hughes knew this thoroughly, and the evident attempt to fasten such a charge on him aroused his indignation. "Do you call this a joke?" he asked, angrily. "You won't help yourself by lying, Dick Barrett, so you might as well own up. I know you are not doing this dirty work on your own account, so if you want any mercy from me, confess who the real instigator is." The three lads were standing close to Harold's cot, and the conversation was carried on in whispers, so that nothing could be heard by the cadet officers on patrol. At first Dick hesitated, but a short word of demand from Hughes caused him to at last reply that he would tell all. "If you will promise to say nothing about it, I'll ex plain the whole affair. It was Ralph Orth who put me up to this. He offered me a certain sum of money if


74 Harold is Shot. I would throw that bottle in your tent, and-and I agreed to do it. I am sorry that--" "Oh, shut up!" interrupted Hughes, roughly. "I don't want to hear any expressions of regret from you, as I know they are false. Now, I am going to explain the whole business to the commandant and see if my esteemed friend Orth can stay in this academy any longer." "Please don ' t do that," pleaded Barrett, earnestly . "If you make the matter public, I will be dismissed also. I have three sisters to support. If you will only let it go, I'll keep an eye on Ralph myself and see that he don't bother you again. Please, Mr. Hughes, please don't tell the commandant." The young scamp's whining tone so incensed Kirby. that he gave him a jab with the bayonet, almost causing Dick to cry aloud with pain. Harold was undecided . The utter meanness of the plot had incensed him so that he felt like crying out for the guard then and there, but Barrett's pleading tone and the announcement that he had sisters dependent upon him had its weight. He, too , had some one looking to him for support, and it was that recollection which caused him to at last say: "Dick Barrett, you are a scoundrel, and I haven't the s li ghtest sympathy for you. If any one d ese rves dis missal it is you and that cur, Ralph Orth; but I don't want to see others punished for your action , so I will let this matter go. However, if you don't walk a straight line and shun Ralph I'll make a report of this business to the colonel commandant. Now get out of here and take your vile poison !" The culprit l ost no time in obeying the order. Almost before Harold had finished speaking, he was at the en trance and out of sight


Harold is Shot. 75 "I am afraid you have made a mistake, Hughes," whis pered Chambers. "Perhaps so, old boy, but I couldn ' t help it. You know there may be truth in his story about his sisters, and I'd hate to see them suffer for his misdeeds." "Well, we caught him, anyway, and foiled the plot. Heigho ! I am getting sleepy. Ta, ta; see you to morrow. Good-night." "Good-night, Kirby. I am awfully obliged for your information concerning this affair. If you hadn't told me I might be goincto bed in the guard-tent now instead of my own little cot, eh?" "Oh, that's all right. I got some fun out of it, and that is what I am looking for." As Harold was retiring, his room-mate, a lad named Caldwell, sleepily asked what the row was .about, but the cadet abruptly told him to mind his own business, and before long the little tent was quiet save for the heavy breathing of the two slumbering boys. At reveille the following morning Hughes and Kirby eyed Ralph Orth narrowly, but the fellow made no sign indicating the failure of his plan. As they were leaving the ranks Chambers muttered: "The two have communicated with each other, or Orth would show surprise." "No doubt, but I'll wager they won't let me catch them at it," grimly replied Harold. Nor did they for many weeks, but he knew, neverthe less, that out of his sight they were as thick as the pro verbial fleas of the Orient. The first month after moving to the summer camp was devoted to daily drills at the manual of arms and com pany formations, then came the annual target practice. Harold studied hard, and for several weeks after his


Harold is Shot. little encounter with Dick Barrett, paid strict attention to the different routine manceuvres. Naturally bright, and p o ssessed of a retentive memory, he showed great prog ress in his studies, and gave promise of making one of the most brilliant graduates. His ambition was the cavalry arm of th e s e rvic e , whose dashing records in our many wars with the h o stiles read to him like the tales of knight errantry and inspired in his youthful breast a desire to make one of them. He knew that only those passing high in the final examination would be allowed to select their future regi ments, so he pored over the numerous text-books, and secluded hims elf as much as possible from temptation , to the great disgust of Kirby Chambers and George West. The latt d r had finally recovered from his injury, and now formed one of the cadets in camp. He renewed his friendship with Harold, and tried hard to include him in their frolics, but without success . "You f e llows can spend y our tim e in running around," said Hug h e s one day, l o ok ing up at his t ormentors fro m a huge volume on fortifications; "but when the final examinations are held you'll find yourselves 'plucked' for honors, if not ' bilged' alto gether. I have 'fessed cold' long enough, and now I am going to quit being an 'immortal' and 'bone demer its' the r est of the term." "Oh, what's the use of working so hard the first year?" replied Kirby, with a yawn. "My plan is to just take it easy and watch thin gs for a while, then pitch in for the 'exams' in tim e to ' t ear my shirt' for the next term." For the benefit of th ose r eaders w h o are not conversant with the peculiar and flowing language common at the academy, it will be well to explain that Chambers did not really mean to rend his wearing apparel, but simply to learn enough to pass ea sy.


Harold is Shot. 77 And Harold's free and easy use of West Point slang would convey to a fellow pupil that he had been very poor in recitations long enough, and that he was going to leave the bottom of the class and shun bad marks the rest of the term, while the others, if they did not reform, would not only find themselves derived of honors, but would fail to pass entirely. The day following the above characteristic conversa tion, the "plebs" were called out to target practice. The yearly practice was held in the regular grounds devoted to the purpose, and the company of cadets was marched there in the early morning directly after break fast, so that plenty of time could be secured for all. The firing butts, as they were termed, were excavations in the ground forming a small chamber , to which the markers would retire during the firing. Above these were the swinging targets, arranged so they could be easily inspected by the boys on duty there. Each marksman had to take his turn in the butts after making his score, thus giving each a chance to become familiar with the system. On the way out, West, who was next to Harold in tht column of fours, managed to whisper that he had heard a rumor as to Ralph Orth' s proficiency as a sharpshooter. He has been telling all hands that he was the best shot in a cadet company he belonged to out West. Hughes laughed quietly, and replied: "He is lying, as usual. I can remember that he stood twenty out of a score of our boys, which is hardly the head of the class, without you count from the other end. What a silly thing it is to boast about what a fellow can do when he knows he will be caught!" After reaching the g rounds , Hughes was among the


Harold is Shot. first to fire, making an average of eighteen out of twentyfive-very good for a novice. He qualified as a marksman at the two and three hundred yard ranges, but just. missed the five hundred score by one point. The officer in charge complimented him and said that he would no doubt leave the academy a "badge" sharpshooter. He then ordered him to act as a marker at the butts, at the same time warning him to be extremely careful about exposing himself without first hoisting the red "danger" flag. Harold found George down in the excavation hard at work covering the holes in the target with little pasters. He looketl up as our hero descended the ladder, and said , with a comical grimace : "It is easy to find your 'spots,' chum, as they are all near the bull's-eye." "That is the place I aimed at, George," replied Hughes, laughingly. "By the way, my boy, I have brought down a little invention of mine by which we can keep our eye on the firing station without exposing ourselves." As he spoke he produced a small square fragment of mirror which he adjusted against the bank of earth back of the target. It answered the purpose, giving them a faint view of the marksmen. vVest was lost in admiration, and, when all was in readi ness for the next score, he took a peep to see who fired first. "It's that townsman of yours," he announced a moment later. "Who ? Orth ?" "Yes, that identical chap. Now, we will see how his boast comes out." Just then a sharp gust of wind caught the exposed end


Harold is Shot. 79 of the target and tore the corner slightly. It required immediate repairing, so Harold hoisted the red signal and climbed out of the excavation. A loud shout of warning came to his ears as he did so, and, turning, he saw Ralph at the two-hundred-yard station with rifle aimed directly at him. There was a sharp report, a confused cry of horror, and Hughes fell prostrate l


CHAPTER XII. THE MYSTERIOUS LETTER. For a moment the crowd of officers and cadets standing at the butts remained quiet-the silence of stupefaction! Then, with one accord, they rushed to where the figure lay outstretched on the sloping sward above the target pit. All save one started toward the wounded lad, and that one was Kirby Chambers. With face blanched to the whiteness of paper, he stood and glared steadily at the trembling form of Ralph Orth, then, moving slowly over, he grasped the latter by the arm and said, in a voice he did not recognize as his own : "You-you murderer! You have killed the best boy in this academy, and you shall hang for it if there is rope enough on earth!" Ralph had dropped the gun immediately after firing the fatal shot, and he now grovel e d almost to the earth in a complete collapse from t e rror. "I did not mean to shoot him!" he wailed, hiding his ashen countenance from the other ' s accusing gaze. "It was all an accident." "You lie!" shouted Chambers, hotly. "We warned you not to shoot, and you deliberately took aim and pulled the trigger." At that juncture the commandant and several surgeons came hurrying up, and the former overheard Kirby's accusation . He stopped and said sternly: "That will do, young man. The proper authorities will


The Mysterious Letter. 8r fix the blame where it belongs. Return to your quarters at once, or I will have you punished." The rebuked cadet obeyed promptly, realizing the truth of the colonel 's words. After recovering from his natural anger, he knew that justice would ascertain the truth, as it always does at West Point. In the meantime, Harold had been placed on a temporary stretcher and carefully examined by the chief surgeon. Those standing near, from the cadets lately joined to the oldest commissioned officer, awaited the doctor's ver dict with bated breath. They all liked Hughes, without one exception, and when at last the skillful medical expert raised his head with a smile and announced that the lad had only received a slight wound of the scalp, the entire crowd joined in a rousing cheer. The sound reached Kirby's ears as he was marching madly away in obedience to the commandant's orders, and he halted as if paralyzed. He well know the import of the cheer, and, forgetting discipline and everything else, ran back to Harold's side like a deer. His presence was unnoticed in the excitement, and he managed to reach the stretcher just as Hughes opened his eyes for the first time since receiving the wound. If it had not been for the surgeon's stern interference the injured lad would have been compelled to hold a regular reception, and probably shake hands with the entire post. As it was, Doct o r Rodgers caught Chambers patting Harold on the shoulder in boyish sympathy, and had to threaten him with a month in the hospital before he could drive the scamp away.


The Mysterious Letter. By this time an ambulance had arrived, and the transfer to sick quarters was made without loss of time. After seeing this attended to, the colonel ordere d rifle practice discontinued for the day, and sent an orderly to bring Cadet Ralph Orth before him in the camp office . The trembling youth, looking the picture of despair, was speedily found and conducted to the place designated by a sergeant of the guard. Then the commandant called as witnesses all those at tending target drill, and commenced the preliminary ex amination. On being questioned, Ralph stammered through an ex planation, stating that he had been called upon to fire and was just in the act of pulling the trigger when Cadet Hughes stepped into the range and was shot. "Didn't -you see him in time to lower your rifle, or at least fire in the air?" asked the colonel, sternly. Orth hesitated, and then replied : "No-no, sir; I had already pressed the trigger when I saw him." A low murmur ran through the numerous witnesses, and each looked at the other meaningly. "Silence!" commanded the officer, but he had heard the significant noise, and could not mistake its meaning. His brow clouded over, and a grim purpose could be seen in his face. "That will do, sir. Stand back until I examine the wit nesses," he said, motioning to the sergeant to keep watch over the prisoner. "Who was standing nearest to the marksman when he fired?" was asked next. Two lads stepped forward simultaneously. They were Kirby Chambers and Dick Barrett.


The Mysterious Letter. On seeing the latter, Ralph's anxious face cleared slightly, and he gave a sigh of reiief. "What did you see?" the colonel then asked, addressing Kirby. "I was standing within three feet of the prisoner, sir, and I distinctly saw him raise his rifle after we had called ou t the warning!" replied the lad, clearly, and in a loud voice. "And, moreover , he heard us in time to hold the shot without any doubt." "Take care, sir!" warned the colonel, sharply, his face becoming very grave. "You are testifying to a very serious charge." Chambers dog ge dly repeated his words, and the cadet adj utant was ordered to make a note of the t es timony. "Now, sir; what have you to say concerning this case?" the commandant asked Barrett. The latter gave Ralph a quick glance, and r e plied: "I was standing between the prisoner and Cadet Cham bers, sir, and . saw the whole affair more plainly than did . I know Orth could not have withheld his fire, as Hughes popped up unexpectedly just as the prisoner pulled the trigger. I am positive, because I was looking at the target when the rifle was raised, and I didn't see the wounded cadet." Kirby stared at Dick incredulously for a second, then, turning excitedly to the colonel, cried: "Don't believe him, sir; he was not standing between--" "That will do! Silence, sir!" roared the now exas perated officer. "I will put you in the guard-house imme diately, you scamp, if you say another word without per mission!" Poor Kirby realized that his impetuous temper had in volved him in more trouble, and he remained silent.


The Mysterious Letter. After glaring around the tent for a brief space, the commandant examined several other cadets without as certaining anything new, and then said to Barrett: "Will you take an oath to this ?" "Yes, sir," promptly replied the lad. "Well, in that case, I think it best to dismiss the court of inquiry. It is impossible for me to believe that a cadet at this academy would deliberately try to kill another one, so we will let the affair rest where it is." Ralph's face bore a very triumphant expression as he passed Kirby on leaving the office-tent, but he refrained from chancing a remark. The latter hurried over to the hospital, and, after pleading with the surgeon for permission to see his friend, was finally allowed to talk with Harold for several mo ments. "I tell you, I firmly believe the villain meant to shoot you, old boy," he exclaimed, after relating the scene at the court of inquiry. "Possibly he did," admitted Hughes, thoughtfully. "But it can not be proven under the circumstances. However, all is well that ends well, and the doctor says that I will be out in a few days. Until that time you keep a sharp lookout on both Ralph and Barrett." The following Monday found Hughes restored to his company with only a partially healed scar to show for his narrow escape. The doctor had given orders to have him relieved from heavy drill for that month, so he did not take part in the regular manceuvres for some time. It did not interfere with his studies, however, and he gained in one branch what he lost in another. Captain Orth had returned from his furlough several weeks previous, but the young cadet only caught an oc casional glimpse of him.


The Mysterious Letter. 85 Carey Conrad, the lieutenant, was on official duties at Washingto n, and Harold had not seen him for some time , but one night he found a letter in the mail-bag addressed in his friend's well-known handwriting. Hastily tearing it open , he read the following startling request: "Dear Harold :-Leave the post to-night at eleven o'clock and come to Highland Falls without delay. Do not mention this to any one, nor ask the commander for p e rmission. Do not fail , as it is a matter of life and death. Meet me midway between cross-roads and the town. Your mother is here. Yours, C. C." "Great Scott!" was all Hughes could say for a while, reading the letter over again. If old Fort Putnam had suddenly become peopled with a band of Revolutionary hero es he would not have been more surprised than at receiving such a request from his firm friend and monitor. It meant that he was to slip out of the academy grounds in the middle of the night, and elude the different sentries stationed here and the re, and then make hi ' s way to the little village of Highland Falls, about two miles toward the south. And then there was the short item stating that his mother was also there. This was the m ost surprising part of the whole affair, as he had e v ery reason to believe she was still in River side in the far distant State of Indiana. Still, there was no gainsaying the letter-it was cer tainly written by Carey Conrad . While he was p ondering over it Kirby Chambers came strollin1t up, and, seeing the note in his hands, made a laughing remark concerning love letters and other senti mental communications.


86 The Mysterious Letter. It suddenly struck Harold that it would be a wise idea to take Kirby with him in case of trouble. so he broached the subject and met with an immediate and eager consent. Several hours after that the two lads crept from their tents and started on a journey that proved to be fraught with grave peril and innumerable surprises.

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CHAPTER XIII. OU'l' OF CAMP. Luckily the night was dark, so the two boys had no difficulty in slipping out of the camp. Kirby, who was better acquainted with the locality, took the lead. They dodged along in the shadow of the tents, and, after several narrow escapes, found themselves in the dry moat of the practice fort. Pacing up and down its banks was a sentry, his foot steps sounding harsh and grating on the silent air. "That's the fellow we want to look out for," whispered Chambers, as they crouched flat on the ground, watching his approach. "If we only manage to escape his eye, yVe are all right for a while. From here to the-" He suddenly ceased speaking, alarmed at the unexpected halting of the muffled figure directly above them . ... He is looking straight at us," breathed Harold, ducking his head involuntarily. "Great Scott! what if he should shoot?" "He won't do that, but if he sees us, the jig is up," replied Chambers, in the same tone. "If he calls out, it is best to give up, as he will awaken the camp, and every tent will be searched for absentees." Fortunately the occasion did not arise. The sentinel presently turned away, and, to the cadets' unbounded re lief, moved toward the other end of his post. "That was a close shave, old fellow," remarked Kirby, as they crawled along the moat in the direction of the

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88 Out of Camp. artillery barracks. "However, I guess he didn't see anything-buried in thought, probably. "Now, the way we want to go is across this side of the parade-ground until we strike Trophy Park, and then be hind the officers' quarters to the side of the mountain. There is a path half-way up to old Fort Putnam that will take us to the cross-roads." While speaking, he led the way out of the grass-covered ditch, and started along the edge of the parade for cav alry. They were destined to not get out of the grounds with out another adventure, however, and it almost led to their ignominious capture. While slipping past the West Point Hotel, a dMr was suddenly thrown open, sending a stream of light directly on them. A sound of laughter came from inside ; and two offi cers stepped out on the piazza in full view. Harold instantly recognized in one of them his enemy, Captain Orth. For a second the lads stopped as if turned to stone, then Chambers wheeled around and dashed away at the top of his speed, with Hughes right after him. The latter heard one of the officers utter a quick exclamation of surprise; then both of them sprang to the ground, and followed the fleeing cadets. "Make for the tennis-court," called out Chambers, when his companion had advised him of the pursuit. This was a sunken place almost in the centre of the northernmost end of the parade-a natural ravine where the British spy, Major Andre, met his fate; and known in local parlance as "Gallows Hollow." It was now given up to the social game of tennis, and

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Out of Camp. where the brave English officer died can now be heard the merry shouts of youthful sportsmen. It did n o t take the boys long to reach its edge, but when the y scrambled down the sides their pursuers were at the ir heels. Suddenly one of the latter called out: "Stop, or we will fire!" At the command , Kirby slackened his pace, but Harold darted past him, saying: "Come on! Don't be afraid of them; they dare not s ' hoot." It was merely a conjecture on his part, but it proved true. Chambers took heart and followed his chum to the bottom of the court, where they hid near a netting-box. The two officers halted at top of the hollow and debated over the advisability of calling the guard. Hughes and Kirby heard one of the m say that it ought to be done. Then the captain replied : "Ah, let them go! We were b o ys once ourselves, and I dare say you 'cut' out of camp more than once." "Fancy that beggar siding with us!" whispered Cham bers . Harold thought it extremely strange , but learned soon afte r that it was not sympathy that caused Orth to display such a tender heart. Presently their neighbors moved away, evidently con cluding to let them escape. "Don' t stir yet," warned Hughes, seeing that his com panion was preparing to depart. "They may be trying a bluff, and are waiting up there for us to show our selves." "What if they go to camp and give the alarm?" sud-

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90 Out of Camp. denly asked Kirby. "If they do we will be caught sure, as the whole guard will turn out and search the grounds." "Well,' what shall we do about it?" "We might skirt around the fort and get in bed before they can reach our tents. Hadn't we better try 1t ?" Hughes thought of the mysterious letter, and replied firmly: "No; I will not go back now, Kirby, but I cannot ask you to come with me under the circumstances, and risk your commission." "The commission be hanged !" replied the other, then he grasped his companion's hand and added, with spirit: "I started out on this trip with you, and I am not going to back out. I don't know what your object is for wishing to reach Highland Falls to-night, arid I don't care much, but it must be something important or else you wouldn't go-that's all." Harold had only told his friend that he was bound to be in the village before midnight, but not why. Now, he felt that such devotion was worthy of greater con fidence, and he explained the contents of the letter in a few words. "You don't mean to say that Lieutenant Conrad has written you to 'leg it?' " asked his auditor, incredulously. "That's just what he has done . " "Well, I declare ! There must be something in it of great importance, or he wouldn't advise you to do such a thing. Ar:e you sure it is his handwriting?" "If it isn't, it's a splendid forgery, and I don't believe Conrad himself could doubt it," replied Harold. "Well, come on. The coast seems to be clear now." They made the best of their way to the parade-ground, but opposite to where they had descended. The night was too dark to see across the hollow, but

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Out of Camp. 91 no sound indicative of possible neighbors came to their ears, so the two cadets moved warily in the direction of the officers' quarters, and soon reached the side of the mountains. Here Kirby again took the lead, and made such rapid speed that Harold asked, in some surprise: "You must have taken this trip before, haven't you?" His chum chuckled softly to himself, and replied: "Many a time, young fellow, and it is a lucky thing for you, as I know the way out like a book." Presently they struck a thick copse, and travel became more difficult. "There is a path around here somewhere," remarked Kirby, after changing his direction several times. "I wish the moon would come out and give us a little light on the subject. Ah! here it is." While speaking he ran against a huge tree stump. The sudden contact gave him a sharp blow on the fore head , but he did not mind that. "This marks the commencement of the path," he explained, rubbing the injured spot. "From there it is only a mile to the cross-roads, but I want to take you some where else first." "What for?" asked Harold, in surprise. "Never you mind," replied Kirby, mysteriously. "Just come along and say nothing. I have been upon these journeys before, and I know what I am about . " Harold obeyed in silence, but he felt rather annoyed at the apparent loss of time. Still, he could not com plain. He would have had a sorry job of it finding his way to the Falls without Chambers' aid. They had now struck a path of ample width, and it enabled them to move along at a fair rate of speed. The leade r seemed to be thoroughly at home even in

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92 Out of Camp. the intense darkness, so Hughes followed close to his heels, and thought over the strange summ o ns. "Why on earth didn't Carey come to the post and see me? And why did not mother?" he asked himself, ha!( aloud. The more he pondered over it, the greater seemed the mystery. It was evident the lieutenant had some weighty reason for asking him to break one of the most stringent and important rules of the academy. If not, he certainly was not the man to make the re quest. Just then Kirby halted, and, stooping down, parted the bushes at one side. "Now, watch out for thorns, chum," he advised. "We are going in here, and there are lots of places you will get your face scratched if you don ' t look out." "Where on earth are you going, Kirby?" asked Harold, in reply. "What do you call this layout?" "Didn't I dun tol' you to nebber mind, as our friend Hawkins would say?" answered Chambers, with a grin. "You just keep quiet and say nothing, I'll give you a surprise in a moment." Hughes could hear him break through the underbrush ah ead, and he followed with a sigh. Presently he found himself in a little clearing, appar ently about the size of an ordinary room. Then a match cracked, and a tiny flame illumined the surroundings, revealing a rude hut of tree branches and bark at one end. "What do you think of this , eh?" asked the leader, chuckling. "Now, I am going to light a lamp in the cas tle, as we call it, and give you a suit of citizen's clothes to wear instead of that tell-tale gray uniform. That is why I brought you here."

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CHAPTER XIV. HAZED! Harold instantly saw the wisdom of his companion's idea. The cadet uniform was certainly familiar to every inhabitant of the surrounding country, and a lad observed in that guise outside the academy would be immediately put down as a deserter, or on leave without permission. "I told you I had a surprise in store," grinned Kirby, selecting an outfit from an odd collection of suits, and handing it to Hughes. "Now, doff those garments and see if these fit you . " As our hero was not very fastidious, he soon found a coat and trousers to meet his requirements, and donned them at once. Chambers did likewise. "Now, we are all fixed, as tough as they make them. It will take a person of mighty keen perception, or a mind-reader, to associate us with Uncle Sam's West Pointers." "I should say so," replied Harold, emphatically, sur veying his rather disreputable figure in a mirror some vain cadet had placed in the little hut. "Oh, I could do better if we were going to a blowout," added Kirby, complacently. "But as you said you were only to meet the lieutenant in the dark, I thought this would answer." "It is all right, old boy, and I am glad to have even this disguise," hastily answered his companion.

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94 Hazed. Chambers extinguished the lamp after seeing that everything had been secured, and led the way back to the path. "Of course it is not necessary to ask you to keep silent about the location of our castle , " he r e marked , a polo getically. "You see, only a few of the boys know about it, and we don't care to have the scheme common property, or it would be destroyed by the authorities in a jiffy." If Hughes had not thoroughly lik e d Chambers , he would have felt hurt at the remark, but he kn e w the lad was only solicitous for his schoolmate's welfare, so he m e rely answered that nothing could induce him to endanger the "castle." "By the way!" exclaimed Kirby, stopping suddenly, and speaking in a low tone, "it has just struck me that some of the first-class may have 'legged it' to-night. In that case we may meet them around here, so keep your ears open. If we should run into them unexp e ctedly , they might shoot, as any number of the boys carry revolvers while out of bounds." Harold promised to keep a sharp lookout, and it is well he did so , as they had not gone a quarter of a mile when he heard a slight commotion in the bushes near where they wer e passing. It was over in an instant, but in that time he thought he heard a voice. "There is some one to the right of us, Kirby," he whispered, slipping up alongside of that lad. "Sh-h-h ! didn't you hear that?" Before his companion could reply, several boys burst into the path, and advanced toward them. "Halt where you are!" called out one, seeing Chambers make an involuntary mov e ment toward the rear.

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Hazed. 95 The sharp click of a trigger accentuated his command, and the two cadets stood still. The moon had risen since leaving the academy grounds, and it now beamed down with sufficient light to render objects faintly visible. By its rays, Harold saw there were four of the new comers, all dressed in the familiar gray uniform. They advanced rather cautiously, as Hughes and his chum looked somewhat "trampish" in the uncertain light. "Don't you move a finger or I will fire," added the one holding the pistol. The warning was not needed , as neither Chambers or our hero had any idea of running, now that they recog nized the others. Several moments later, Hughes regretted that he had not taken leave of 'the party without ceremony. "Well, I declare, if it isn ' t young Chambers of the third class!" exclaimed a cadet on approaching closer. "Get out, you don' t say!" echoed the rest, grinning with pleasure. "What in the duse are you kids doing up here in that rig?" asked the first speaker, who seemed to be the leader of the little party. Kirby did not like being addressed in such a manner, hut he answered politely enough: "Oh, just out for a stroll. Where are you fellows going?" "Listen to him! Fancy the cheek of the young beggar! We will have to teach him how to address his su periors," and like remarks came from the senior cadets. Chambe rs turned rathe r pale, while Harold' s heart sank within him at the overbearing tone of the others. He thought of his object in leaving the grounds, and

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96 Hazed. resolved to try and get away without detention, but he reckoned without his host. Stepping forward, he said, hurriedly: "Come on, Kirby, or we will be late. These gentle men will excuse us, I know." "How do you know we will, my young bantam?" roughly replied the leader. His words were the signal for the rest to catch hold of both Chambers and Harold with no gentle grasp. At the same time one of the cadets called out: "Now is our chance to do a little hazing without having an officer poking his nose where it don't belong." "Right you are, Will," answered the leader, also grasping our hero by the arm. Frantic at the thought of being detained, Hughes launched out with his fists, and caught the elder cadet under the chin, landing him in the bushes on his head. Seeing his advantage, he tried a similar plan with the other, but it did not result in an equal success. His antagonist dodged at the right moment and threw out one foot in such a manner that Harold measured his length on the ground, hardly knowing what sent him there. "That's a trick you're not acquainted with, I guess," breathed the senior cadet, triumphantly. He then fell with his whole weight on Hughes, effectually pinning l:iim flat. After a short struggle, he gave it up in despair, and listened quietly to the commotion being kicked up by Kirby and the remaining lads. That they were having it hot and heavy was proven by the noise. Shouts and yells, and now and then a groan, pro-

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Hazed. 91 claimed that Cham'bers was making it interesting for the sophomores. The cadet Hughes had sent so unceremoniously into the scrub speedily appeared, however, and he added his exertions to his companion's, soon placing the plucky third-class man hors d e combat. "Now we will teach you fellows a lesson you won't forget in a hurry," cried the leader, savagely. He presented a sorry spectacle. The close contact with the thorny bushes had marked his face with bloody furrows, and an elongated scratch running from his left eye down to one side of his chin caused him to resemble a Piute Indian ready for the war-path. Harold could not refrain from laughing. "I'll make you laugh in a different tone, you con founded whelp !" cried the cadet, wild with rage. Advancing toward our hero, he raised his hand as if on the point of striking him, when several of his com panions interfered , exclaiming: "None of that, Jack! Don't hit a fellow when he is helpless ! " The big fellow growled out some reply, and then, rather ashamed of himself, said : "I didn ' t mean to hit the cub, you blamed fools. I was only trying to scare him. Now, bring them along to the castle and we will have some fun." Hughes tried to break away at the suggestion, but without success . "No, you don't!" cried the cadet in charge of him. "If you valu e your skin you will quit kicking and come along peac e fully." Seeing that it was useless to try force, Harold r eso lved to appeal to their mercy. "I wish you would please release us for the present , "

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98 Hazed. he said. "I have an important engagement down at the cross-roads, and I don ' t want to miss it. We will promise to give you your fun some other time, or I will pay you money for our liberty." He made a fatal mistake by trying to bribe the sophomores. Although perfectly willing to force their juniors to submit to any indignity, yet their peculiar code of honor immediately revolted at the idea of a financial bribe, and they sp e edily told Harold so to his great discomfiture. "I don't think you know us seniors very well, " re plied one, rather contemptuously. "We don't look at such matters in that light, young fellow." As if deeply incensed at the very thought, they dragged the two youthful cadets back to the castle, and lighted the lamp. "Now, Will, you get the materials and we will first decorate them until their own mother wouldn ' t recognize the ir pets," chuckled the lead e r. The one addressed as Will drew forth a package of artist's paints from some hiding place, and the senior lad proceeded to bestow vile imitations of whiskers and other hairy adornments on the captives' faces with a lavish hand.

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CHAPTER XV. THE FOOT-PADS. As their hands and feet had been previously secured, the two youngsters submitted with dignity, and forbore to raise a verbal objection. But Harold raged inwardly at the unfortunate delay, and swore a deep oath of revenge. "If I ever get a chance to pay you fellows back, I will settle this debt with the greatest of pleasure," he muttered, between his clenched teeth, but not so loud that his captors could understand. / Kirby Chambers glanced over toward his chum, and saw by his face that he was worrying over the detention. "I say, gentlemen," he began, with a strong accent on the last word; "won't you please hurry up and finish so that we can reach the cross-roads by midnight? It is really a matter of the greatest importance, and you will be doing both of us a decided favor by permitting us to go." "Hold your confounded tongue, you little beggar," re plied the leader, gruffly. "I might as well tell you now that we have been waiting for an opportunity like this for many moons, and we don't intend to let it slip. You freshmen are growing entirely too previous, and need bringing down a peg. When we get through with our little lesson in military etiquette you can go, and not be fore; understand?" Kirby understood, and his eyes flashed ominously at the senior's tone.

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100 The Foot-Pads. He then looked at Hughes as much as to say that he had tried his best, and failed. Our hero telegraphed back in the same manner that he appreciated his efforts, but the matter would have to wait further developments. After decorating the lads to his satisfaction, the leader bade them remove the citizen's clothes, and garb them selves with what he would supply. "Kids of your tender age know very little about the latest fashions," he added, grimly; "and I will dress you according to the latest mode from London." Their lashings were removed so they could disrobe, but all four sophomores stood near in readiness to quell any undue attempt at escape. Kirby was given a very ragged pair of trousers with a deep fringe on the bottom of the legs, and a battered stove-pipe hat. When attired in these a tomato can was slung around his neck with a string, and he was declared equipped for the road. "Hello, Weary Wraggles !" grinned one of the cadets. "How is tramping around here?" Harold looked at his ordinarily neat appearing friend, and could not keep from bursting into a hearty laugh. Chambers was completely transformed. He now bore what appeared to be a two weeks' growth of grizzly beard on his chin; one eye was black e ned in the latest and most improved style of the prize ring, and his nose had blos somed into a decided work of spiritual, or spirituous, art. This, taken together with his seedy attire and danglin g tomato-can, made the poor lad greatly resemble the modern tramp as pictured in the comic papers. Will and Jack viewed the results of their labors with decided approval, and laughed until the very wood_ s rang with their mirth.

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The Foot-Pads. IOI "Well, I declare!" gasped the leader, wiping his eyes. "This is too good to waste on the country air. What say, lads; shall we e scort him down to the commandant's door and ring the bell?" The others rec e iv e d the suggestion in silence. The idea was too daring for them to grasp at once. Finally Will replied : "I don't think we ought to try it now. The colonel has it in for our class since that last hazing scrape and we wouldn't last as long as a June frost if he caught us. No, let us fix this other fellow up, and take them to town." "That is the best plan," spoke up the two other lads. "All right, let her go at that," replied Jack. "What disguise will we give the kid with the ginger hair?" Harold considered such an appelation a decided insult, but he did not call their attention to the fact that his hair was only slightly auburn. He had suddenly hie upon a scheme, which he intended trying at the first opportunity. It was nothing more or less than a resolution to extinguish the lamp, and try to escape in the confusion. "If I only had a chance to tell Kirby," he muttered, looking in that highly decorated individual's direction. At that moment Chambers glanced toward him; and seizing a chance offered by the temporary engrossment of the cadets over a suitable costume for him, Hughes signaled his purpose by a significant gesture. Kirby grinned and nodded his head in assent. The sophomore guarding Harold turned his attention to his companion just then, and in an instant our hero picked up a stool and threw it directly at the burning lamp. The scheme succeeded beyond his highest anticipa tions.

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102 The Foot-Pads. The flying missile not only smashed the lantern, but it scattered the flaming oil in every direction, setting fire to clothes, bark, and even the bushes outside. For a moment Harold stood aghast. He then sprang toward the door, crying: "Run for it, Chambers! Now is our chance!" Grabbing up an armful of their uniforms the latter obeyed, reaching the entrance just as the four sopho mores recovered from the ir surprise. With a shout Jack darted after the two lads, but he was a moment too late. Stumbling over logs, breaking through thorny bushes, the fugitives ran, until at last they reached the path. "Slip in here, Hughes, " exclaimed Kirby, forcing his way into a cluster of bushes . "If they follow us, they will run in the other direction. Cricky ! that fire is burning!" A reddish glare became apparent , and it seemed to in crease with great rapidity. From where the lads were hidden they could hear the shouts of the sophomores in their frantic efforts to extinguish the spreading flames. "Did you get all our clothing?" asked Hughe s , an x iously. "I don't know. My arms were full, but it is hard to say whether they all belong to us. I only got one cap, but whose it is I can't tell now." "Hadn't we better hide the stuff and get out of here," advised Harold. "This blaze is liable to attract attention, and we may get caught." Kirby thought it a good idea, but he proposed to steal around nearer to the burning hut, and see what was going on first. "I don't believe we had better take any more risks, chum," replied Harold, doubtfully. "We are late now as

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The Foot-Pads. 103 it is, and if we should run against one of those fellows they would detain us surely." "All right then ; follow me," and the willing lad plunged into the undergrowth skirting the path, closely followed by our hero. It was slow work, but they finally struck an open space some distance down, which Kirby declared was within a short distance of the main road leading from the acad emy . They halted and glanced back toward the top of the mountains, but all signs of the conflagration had disap peared. "Those brutes stayed to put it out," said Chambers, with a chuckle. "They knew what would happen if the fire spread to the forest around Fort Putnam-it would cause the whole cadet corps to turn out, and then any absentees would be spotted at once." "We will have to concoct a scheme to get square for this night's work," hinted Hughes, firmly. "I am not going to let them crow over us even if they are sopho mores . But, by the way, you want to get that paint washed from your face, and straighten up a little, or the lieutenant will refuse to recognize us." "Look at your own mug," retorted his companion, remembering the way Harold had laughed at him in the hut. "You are worse than I am, I dare say." Hughes did not argue the point, not knowing what kind of a figure he cut, but he insisted on their washing up if possible , so Chambers led the way to a little brook nearby, and they removed the greater part of the decora tions. After that had been completed they struck out for the cross-roads at a rapid walk.

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104 The Foot-Pads. The uniform suits were hidden in a convenient nook, so they made greater progress thus unincumbered. Presently Kirby halted and pointed ahead. "There is where you ought to meet Conrad," he said, in a whisper. "Now, hadn't I better drop behind until you see what's up; then you can whistle and I will join you . " "You've got a great head, chum," replied Harold, ap preciating the other' s tact. "I guess you are right; the lieutenant might not like to see you at first, but I will fix that." "I say, Hughes, just slip a couple of rocks in your pocket," called out Chambers, in a matter of fact tone, as his companion started off. "Why? What do you expect!" asked our hero ; rather surprised at the suggestion. "Oh, nothing! But it is always better to be prepared; that's all." Although he did not think it necessary, yet Harold complied to escape an argument. And as it transpired, it was well he did. Keeping a careful watch on all sides, the young cadet walked down the road, followed at a convenient distance by his faithful comrade. He had gone about fifty yards when suddenly the sound of wheels came to his ears. It was a carriage approaching from the town. With a muttered imprecation at the delay, Harold stepped aside and dropped down behind a broken stone wall. Chambers immediately joined him, and the two cadets waited impatiently for the vehicle to pass. "Confound it, what do they want to travel around this time of night for!" exclaimed Hughes. "I suppose it is some guest of the hotel at the Point

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The Foot-Pads. 105 returning from the city," replied Kirby. "They are always--" "Sh-h-h ! did you hear that !" interrupted Harold, ex citedly. "There is some one on the other side of the wall." The faint sound of voices became apparent. It drew nearer and nearer, until the crouching lads were able to distinguish the words : "Hist, Bill !" exclaimed one of the unseen strangers. "Here comes a carriage. W'ot do yer say to stoppin' of it while we're waitin' for that blamed cad et?" "All right, Job; we may turn an honest dollar from it, but we want to be spry, as the other job will pay more. You grab the driv e r, while I see to the people in the car riage. Don't waste any time, but slit their throats if they m ake a row." Harold grasped his companion's arm with painful intensity and breathed : "We must stop their game. Take this rock and let fly at one of the villains when I give the word. Don't miss, whatever you do." The noise from the rapidly revolving wheels came nearer and nearer. The time for action was at hand. Hughes peep e d over the wall and saw two shadowy forms in the road ready to commence their n e farious work, then with a bound he cl ea red the obstruction and hurled a fragm en t of stone directly at the nearest one, at the same time giving the signal to Kirby.

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CHAPTER XVI. TO THE RESCUE. When Harold leaped over the wall into the road, as related in the last chapter, he had one prime object in view, and that was to save the occupants of the approaching carriage from robbery. The conversation overheard by Kirby and himself re vealed the true characters of the strangers. They were undoubtedly professional thieves and highwaymen, probably not hesitating at murder to gain their object. In his excitement, Hughes paid no heed to the peculiar reference one of the foot-pads made to a cadet they were waiting for, but he remembered it not long afterward from a very good reason. When he reached the lane, the young lad held in his hand a piece of the stone wall, and he proceeded to use it in a manner highly astonishing to the thugs. The moon's rays percolating down through a net-work of leafy branches revealed a villainous face not three feet from him. It was a splendid target, and Harold tried for the bulls eye without loss of time. With a shout of defiance he let • drive and caught the fellow square in the face, sending him to grass right speedily. At the same time, Kirby, who had heard his friend's call, entered the road in the same manner, and cast another granite missile at the remaining thief. It barely grazed him, however, and, with a whoop of rage, he made for the two lads, flourishing a revolver.

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To the Rescue. 107 "Blast ye! what do yer mean!" he stormed, cocking the pistol. Neither Harold or Chambers stopped to reply to his natural question, but with one accord they made for the protection of the stone fence. It was a thoughtless move, turning their backs to a gun, but fright controlled them for the moment, and they only desired to escape from the range of that wicked muzzle. Kirby, who was in the rear, heard a sharp click, but it was not followed by a report, nor did he feel an come bullet plowing its way through any portion of his anatomy, so he stopped suddenly, and, wh':"eling around, dropped on his hands and knees directly in front of the enraged villain. It was an old trick, but it acted successfully, as old tricks sometimes do, and the pursuer promptly stumbled over the unexpected obstruction, falling prostrate. "Jump him, Hughes!" sung out the triumphant lad , scrambling erect, and instantly throwing his weight on the fall e n foot-pad . Harold was quick to obey, highly elated at the turn of affairs, and he added his one hundred and thirty pounds to his chum's with instant effect. Almost smothered under the combined load, the light fingered gentleman first gave vent to a few choice oaths, and then begged to be released. It is needless to say that his request was not granted, and Kirby told him to entertain no hopes in that direc tion. "And, furthermore, if you don't lie quiet, we will punch your head," added the lad, threateningly. "Let me up, blast ye! or I'll skin yer alive!" howled

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ro8 To the Rescue. the infuriated man, commencing to struggle again. "Help, Job! help, help!" Unluckily ior the boys, the other scoundrel awakened to affairs of this world just at that moment; and he heard his mate 's appeal for aid. He did not rush up and throw himself into the fray im mediately on ascertaining the plight of his comrade in crime, but, with the astuteness of a man long experienced in similar cases, first skirmished a little until he found just how Bill was situated, then grasped a trusty club and sailed in. The first whack caught Harold on the shoulder, but its force was sufficient to tumble him over on the ground. The second . blow struck Kirby where he generally wore his cap-on the back of his head-but it was de livered with such uncertain strepgth that, instead of fracturing his skull, it simply knocked him alongside of his chum, slightly stunned. The whole struggle had barely occupied a couple of moments, and the carriage was sti1l in the di stance; but its arrival at the scene would soon take place. Seeing this, Job shouted to Bill to get on his feet and receive the approaching strangers as they had contem plated. "Ye needn't fear anything from them kids," he added, poking Harold with his bludgeon. "They're good for a half hour, if they ain't dead; an' in the meantime we can attend to the other case." "Let's finish them now, blast ye!" exclaimed Bill, his rage against the boys blinding his ordinary greed. "No ! come along, I tell yer !" muttered his companion, authoritatively. "We'll fix 'em when we git through wid the other job." Bill reluctantly obeyed, and, picking up his revolver,

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To the Rescue. 109 hastily prepared it for use. The cartridge that had failed to go off when he fired at the cad ets was removed, and another slipped in its place. A slight curve in the road hid the carriage from their view until it was almost upon them, and taking advantage of this fact , the two ruffians planted themselves di rectly in the center, intending to grasp the bridle and bring the horse to a halt before they were discovered. Their plan succeeded admirably. The vehicle came around the turn at a slow pace, and, without a moment's warning the animal was thrown on its haunches by a powerful arm. At the same instant a dark, scowling face was thrust over the step and a harsh voice grated : "Throw out yer valuables, an' be blamed quick about it !" To emphasize his demand, the scoundrel cocked his revolver and pointed the weapon at one of the occupants. There were two in the carriage, an old gentleman and a girl many years his junior. The latter uttered a shrill scream when she saw Job's hideous face in the dim rays of the moon. Then, turning to her companion, she tried to shield herself at first behind his portly form . It was only a momentary panic, however, < .nd she again settled down in the seat, apparently calm. Taken completely by 5urprise, the gentleman sat as if stupefied for a briet t'eriod; then, recalled to his danger by another thre<.t from the footpad, he made a feeble blow at the intruder. At the same time he utte red a loud cry for help, to which his fair companion adde d sundry screams of her own, pitched in an ascending scale.

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IIO To the Rescue. The duet of alarm so astonished Job that he involun tarily stepped backward with a muttered exclamation. Seizing the opportunity, the gentleman reached up and tried to grasp the reins from the driver's nerveless hands, but it was a useless attempt, as Bill fully controlled that end of the business. The latter ruffian then lost no time in bidding his mate finish the pair with dispatch, adding: "Stop their yawp, blame yer ! Why don' t you shoot, you fool? We'll have a mob on us in a jiffy!" Stimulated to renewed exertions, Job took rapid aim . at the elder party and pulled the trigger. Fired at such close quarters , there is no doubt that his intended victim would have been killed then and there, but just as the footpad ' s finger contracted an athletic form interposed and knocked the weapon up. Then two sinewy hands grasped the astounded Job by the throat and he was forced to the ground with such quickness that he landed with a thump. "Not this time, my friend!" chuckled a voice. "You'll stay there until my chum settles the other fellow." And Harold, for it was he, grasped the pistol from the fallen highwayman and placed the muzzle against Job's . head. fn the meantime a little by-play was in progress on the other side. Despite the supposition of the ruffians, the cadets were not badly hurt, but recovered consciousness within a few moments of the assault. Hughes came to his senses first, and he slowly scrambled erect, too dazed to remember the incidents happening during the previous half hour. He did not long remain in ignorance, however. An unexpected glimpse of his friet:id stretched out at

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To the Rescue. III his feet, with a dark stain of blood marking his hair, was enough, and Harold glanced quickly around in search of the highwaym e n. It did not take him long to descry them at their l a inous work, and just at that juncture the occupants of the carriage gave vent to their unite d appeal for help. The shrill sounds that so abash e d the murderous Job also brought Kirby to his feet as if by an electric shock. "What's that?" he gasped, still bewildered. "Hush-h !" whispered his companion, hastily placing one hand over the lad's mouth. "There is murder afoot, and we want to stop it. Get a stone and follow me." But Chambers found something bette r th a n a stone in the road near by. It was Job's club, which that knave had abandoned for the safer weapon, his revolver. With that he stole after Harold, and when the latter reached forth to grab the pistol aimed at the old gentle man, he set upon Bill and beat him lustily over the head. And now happened a disgraceful thing. The driver of the cab, helpless with fright up to the present mom e nt, chanc ed to recover just th e n, and, seeing the two robb e rs engaged with a couple of strangers, he snatched the whip and gave his horse a sharp blow. The animal, madden ed with pain, darted forward and disappeared around a bend in the road, taking the car riage and occupants with him. As they were being unceremoniously dragged away, the young girl caught one glimpse of the youth who had so gallantly come to their rescue, and she remembered the countenance exposed to her view by a chance ray of light long afterward.

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CHAPTER XVII. CAPTURED. Thus forsaken on the field of battle, as it were, Harold and Kirby proceeded to diligently continue the combat with the would-be assassins. The former had his man completely at his mercy, thanks to the revolver; but Chambers was not so fortu nate. The first few blows he gave Bill caused that precious rascal to dodge, and try to escape the punishment, but a severe crack on a tender spot rendered him frantic with rage, and he rushed in on the young cadet with such impetuous force that he beat down his guard. It was then an easy matter to wrest the club from him. "Now, where are you, my bold buck?" he demanded, exultantly. "You will interfere with a gentleman in his legitimate business, eh? Take that, and that, consarn ye!" The "that" and "that" were stinging blows with the stick, administered impartially on divers portions of Kirby's shrinking form. The lad would have skipped out of reach of the cruel punishment if he had been able, but Bill's hand held him fast, and he was compelled to stand it. To his everlasting credit, be it said that he made no outcry, but received it like a man. Finally, tiring of his revenge, the ruffian cast Chambers from him, and after bidding the youth begone, strode over to the assistance of his mate. Harold saw him coming, and prepared to retain the

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Captured. IIJ advantage he held over Job. He still had the revolver pointed at the former's head, and he knew that he would not move so long as it was aimed in that direction. one pistol could not cover two active men, and the cadet was in a quandary for a moment. He could have killed Job and then captured his mate, but a natural repugnance a gai nst shedding blood in such a cold-hearted manner, kept him from it. As the next best thing he sprang from where he had stood astride of the prostrate villain, and began moving the muzzl e from one to the other, at the same time calling out sternly: "Stop where you are, you scoundrel, or I'll fire!" Bill instantly obeyed, and, seeing the lad ' s advantage, tried to t empo rize. "Don't p ' int that thing this way, young feller; it's liable to go off, an' then some one'll git hurted." "I know it is liable to go off," replied Hughes, grimly. "Keep your distance if you don't want a bullet in your midriff. Here, you get up and stand alongside your mate ." The last sentence was addressed to Job. Casting an evil glance in the daring lad's direction, the ruffian obeyed, and arranged himself next to Bill. "Now, Kirby," continued Harold, to his friend, who had joined him by this time, "go over and take their weapons away from them." "Wot are yer up to, covey?" asked Bill, earnestly. "Hold your tongue, and obey orders !" retorted the cadet, sternly . "Can't we sorter square this matter?" continued the foot-pad, coaxingly. "I say, if youse fellers will let us go I can put a little stuff in yer way." Hughes maintained a contemptuous silence.

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Captured. "We didn't mean no harm, nohow," spoke up Job. "We were just expectin' friends, and t'ought we'd see if them duffers were de ones." This absurd excuse brought a grin even from his mate. It also caused Chambers to laugh heartily as he stepped forward to relieve the highwaymen of their weapons. "You are a fool," he said , frankly. "What do you take us for? Idiots like yourself, eh? Now, turn over your guns, and be quick about it." The lad was so highly pleased at the present state of affairs that he now made a grave mistake, and one the ruffians instantly took advantage of. In his eagerness to gain possession of their weapons, he stepped between them and Harold, thus blocking the latter's line of fire. Quick as a flash, Bill seized him, and held the lad so he could not move. Then Job darted behind the two. The result was that Hughes found himself aiming the revolver at his chum's Dody instead of the enemy's. "Ho, ho!" chuckled Bill, peeping out from behind the living barrier. "Now you can fire, as much as you please! Why don't yer shoot, eh ?" Harold almost dropped the pistol in disappointment. He recognized the fact t:1at he was now at a decided dis advantage, and the result would probably end in allowing the villains to decamp in triumph. As for Kirby, he felt so bitterly chagrined that he al most cried. He instantly saw what his carelessness would lead to, and in despair called out : "Don't mind me, Hughes. Fire away if they try to escape." At the mention of Harold's name, Bill gave an involuntary start, and asked, in a hoarse voice :

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Captured. II5 ' "What did yer call him, youngster? Speak, consarn ye, or I'll knock the top o' yer head off!" With that, he gave the boy such a shake that his teeth chattered in unison. "What-t do y-you mean?" gasped Chambers, struggling to free himself. "Didn't yer call that other kid Hughes?" But Kirby refused to answer. Not because he harbored any suspicion, but simply out of stubbornness. "That's wot he said,'' whispered Job, significantly. "It's the one we want." "If he is a cadet, wot is he
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n6 Captured. "Now, git up, an' jine yer pardner. Git a move on you!" In the meantime Bill had skillfully tripped poor Kirby, sending him to the ground. Then, taking a piece of strong cord from his pocket, he proceeded to bind the cadet's arms. After finishing that job, he turned to Hughes, and se cured him in a similar manner. He then stood off, and, placing his arms akimbo, said complacently: "Well, the job's done, pard. We've the lad we was looking for, an' also killed two birds with one rock, eh?" "Wot yer goin' to do wid the other kid?" growled Job, indicating Kirby with a wave of his grimy paw. "I'll be durned if I know. It won't do to leave him here to give the snap away." "Why not slit his weasand, an' hide the stiff in some hole around here?" The cold-blooded proposal sent a procession of shiv ers chasing one another up Chambers' back. It also caused Harold to strain at his bonds in frantic efforts for freedom. He knew the utter depravity of the men, and felt that nothing was too villainous for them to do. Bill chuckled for a moment, then replied : "You're too blamed savage, Job. That kind o' work'll do for them willains down in the city, but two tender hearted gents like us oughtn' t to spill claret. No; we'll take him along, an' maybe we might squeeze a few more scads from his nibs." "All right, mate; you're the boss. You watch them while I bring the hearse." He disappeared down the road, and, after an interval, again came into view, leading a horse and wagon. In the meantime, Bill had effectually gagged the sur-

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Captured. prised cadets with rolls of unsavory cloth torn from his ragged coat. With no more care than is used in handling merchan dise they were bundled into the shaky vehicle, and cov ered with a piece of old carpet. Then Job and his mate climbed up to the seat, and drove down the road, keeping a wary eye out for danger.

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CHAPTER XVIII. A TERRIBLE FATE. Almost stifled under the heavy folds of the rug, Harold and Kirby felt the rough jolting of the antiquated vehi cle with a sensation akin to despair. The savage suggestion of Job as to Chambers' proper disposal showed that little mercy could be expected from the ruffians if their present mood changed. It was merely a question of aollars and cents whether they would be killed, and dumped into some isolated spot on the mountains, or not. Bill's queer reference to the mysterious person he des ignated as "nibs," and the possibility of getting more money from him, caused Harold to open his eyes . He had taken the men to be ordinary footpads at first, only intent on a local robbery, but their interest in his name, and subsequent remarks, indicated a different mo tive. "Why should they want me?" he pondered, endeavoring to stretch his cramped limbs. "What have I to do with a couple of highwaymen?" Then the recollection of his object in leaving the academy camp returned to him, and he groaned in spirit. "The lieutenant will think I have been caught or refuse to take the risk. He will probably wait around here until daylight, and then get angry. And mother--" He stopped suddenly, struck a new thought-what if it was a foul plot to get him into trouble!

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A Terrible Fate. "But who would do such a thing?" he asked himself, doubtfully . "I haven ' t any enemies-ha! the captain!" With that word the whol e plan became clear to Harold. This wa s a scheme on the part of Captain Orth to get him disgrac e q or, horrible thought !--out of the way. "He is afraid I will cause him trouble about father's property when I grow older, and has not hesitated to take this m e ans to silence me." The very idea caused Hughes to struggle frantically at his lashings in a futile attempt at escape. His efforts caused so much noise that Job bent over, and hissed threatenin g ly : "Stop that racket, blame ye! If you so much as move again, I'll stick a knif e in yer gizzard!" Fully convinced that he would not hesitate to carry out his word, Harold ceased struggling for the moment. In the meantime , the wagon had covered some distance from the scene of the capture . The road became uneven, and pre sently the two prisoners knew from the slant of the vehicle that they were being conveyed down a steep grade. Both instantly realized what this meant. The ruffians were carryin g them from the town of Highland Falls to the lev e l g r o und along the Hudson River. A cold chill ran through them. Was it Job's ultimate intention to do away with his captives and drop them into that silent stream that hides so many secrets in its broad bosom? They were soon to know. The wagon reached level ground at last, and stopped near where the boys could hear the ripple of the water as it flowed past the river's banks. Then Bill came around to the rear, and jerked the carpet to one side.

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'I20 A Terrible Fate. "Come on, Job," he growled. "Let's get the kids in the boat. Time is precious, as it's near daylight." The other footpad joined him, and they carelessly dragged the cadets from the bed of the vehicle and dumped them on the ground. "Now, see here, young fellers," whispered the former; "I am going to cast off them lashings on yer legs, so that youse can walk, but I want to warn ye that if youse make one move toward runnin', I'll kill yer, so help me Moses! D'ye understand?" It was a useless question, as the gags effectually prevented them from answering. Satisfied that he had sufficiently impressed them, Bill stooped down and cut the ropes, then gave them a brutal kick by the way of reminder that he wished them to stand erect. The half-hour passed in a cramped position caused Harold and his chum to stagger at first, but they soon were able to follow their captors. Our hero gave a stealthy glance around, and saw that he had correctly surmised their destination. They were close to the water's edge, and within three hundred yards of the Highland Falls station of the West Shore Rail way. A light gleaming in one of the depot's windows looked so near that Harold involuntarily tried to shout, but the : sound died away in his throat. Close to where they stood was a boat, which Bill proceeded to unfasten from a fragment of piling to which it was tied. "Now, Job, you take the rig back while I guard our prisoners," he whispered, after finishing his task. "When ye come back, jest whistle the old call an' I'll pull in for

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A Terrible Fate. I2I yer. Keep yer peepers skinned an' don't bring any fly cops at yer heels." His mate growled some reply, and then drove back up the sloping road, while Bill made the cadets seat them s e lves in the ste rnsheets of the light craft. Shoving the bow a w ay from the shore, he pulled out a few yards and waited. In the course of a half hour a low whistle sounded, and those in the boat saw Job standing on a stringpiece frantically waving his hand. "Some one's after him!" ejaculated Bill, tugging at the oars. A ray of hope entered the boys' breasts. Help seemed near at hand. They strained their eyes to see if there was any sign of possible rescuers on land, but without result. A faint clatter from the direction of the road, sounding like horses' hoofs beating on the rocky ground, proclaim e d that some person, or persons, were riding toward the river in haste, however. Would they reach the bank before Bill beached his boat?" The manner in which that worthy plied the ashen blades showed that he was badly scared. He tugged, and swore, and tugged again. The per spiration formed great beads on his low forehead, and his breath came in great sobs, as if he was almost ex haused. In all his life Harold had never wished for anything so devoutly as he prayed for an oar to break, or the skiff to strike against some hidden rock that night. But it was all in vain. The ruffian reached the shore, and assisted his mate in the boat just as a couple of horsemen dashed around the curve at the bottom of the road.

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!22 A Terrible Fate. "Drop those oars !" shouted one, flourishing a revolver. "Drop them, I say, or I will fire!" Bill gave a mocking laugh, and, with a vigorous shove, sent the little craft out in the channel. "Fire away r' he shouted, defo}ntly. The boys saw a couple of bright flashes, then a bullet splintered the gunwale, barely a foot from where Harold sat. The reports were immediately followed by another vol ley , but this time the leaden pellets whistled overhead. "Who are they?" asked Bill, as they propelled the boat at the top of her speed. "Cops," replied Job, sententiously. The first speaker did not pursue the question-that one word was enough. The habitual enemy of all criminals was represented to him by the term, and he rowed away in silence. After the second attempt the policemen reserved their fire , and apparently prepared for pursuit, as the lads saw them hasten to a dark spot at the edge of the water, which resembled a skiff. Job noticed it also, and renewed his efforts. "Them fellers are going to foller us," he grunted, with a string of vile oaths. "We had better git over in the shadows an' try to throw them off'n the scent." "All right, bring her around," replied , Bill, pulling on the starboard oar. The craft was now headed for the eastern shore where a dark patch of water, caused by the shadow of the highlands, afforded a chance for concealment. After rowing steadily for several moments, Bill cried out that he was exhausted, and would have to rest. As they had reached what appeared to be a safe place, Job gave his consent, and the two ruffians ceased pulling.

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A Terrible Fate. 123 Then one of them bent over close to the surface, and listened intently. A faint sound of rowlocks became perceptible, evidently gradually increasing. The policemen were in hot pursuit. Job glanced at his mate uneasily. "Hadn' t we better hook it?" he asked. "It's State's prison , if they catches us, pard. " "Wot do yer mean? Down the river, or beach her an' foll er the track?" suggested Bill. "Better take to the railroad; I think it's a safer chance." "An' wot about the kids?" "Dump them," replied Job, with an oath. "Dead men tell no tales. Tie their legs to those pieces of iron in the bottom, an' heave them in." "It's a go , " said his mate, proceeding to fasten a lump of metal to Harold's feet. The other villain did likewise to Kirby, and presently the cadets felt themselves lifted over the edge of the boat. Both struggled desperately, but, handicapped by the lashing, they were quickly subdued, and then resigned themselves to their fate. "Ready?" asked Job, grasping Chambers by the shoul ders. "Yes," hoarsely reolied Bill, from the bow. "Let them go."

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CHAPTER XIX. ON BOARD THJ<; SCHOONJ';R. On very little things are hinged the greatest moments of our lives. If Job had obeyed Bill's signal and shoved Harold and Kirby into the swiftly flowing river, they would have instantly gone to the bottom and there re mained until the action of the currents had released them from their weights of iron. In that case this story would have been brought to a conclusion by an ill-timed obituary. Only one thing saved the cadets. Just as the elder ruffian called to "let, them go," Job espied the shadowy form of the police boat in mid channel, and instantly re alized that a splash at that moment would result in their ultimate and certain capture. A whisp e red word of warning apprised Bill of the dan ger, and the two would-be assassins quietly dropped the boys back into the boat, and waited with bated breath for the danger to pass. The light craft containing the officers sped rapidly down stream, and in a very short space of time the anxious watchers, hidden in the gloom of the eastern shore, knew they were safe for the time being. "Well, I'll be blowed !" exclaimed Bill, heaving a pro digious sigh of relief. "That was a narrow escape, an' no mistake. It's worser nor that time I cut from the peelers in Water street." "Don't t'ink you're safe yet, old hoss," warned Job, sullenly. "Them fellers are liable to come back afore Tong, an' search this here shore."

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On Board the Schooner. "Right you are, pard. It behooves us to skin from this yer locality in a hurry. Now, let me see. If we go down the river we 'll maybe meet them, and then again, if we take to de woods, we'll have to let the kids go." "W'ot of
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I 26 On Board the Schooner. Without more ado, Bill turned the skiff's head, and the two pulled along shore with noiseless strokes. It was evident that, d e spite their bravado, neither were overwhelmingly eager to chance a combat with the offi cers of the law. In the meantime, how had the two young cadets fared ? Trussed hand and feet as they were, both experienced the greatest discomforts. For a while they did not mind that. Their only feeling was of gratitude at their narrow escape from a terrible death, but at last the pain resulting from their close confinement became almost too great to be borne. Hughes was doubled up near the bow, benumbed in body, but still active mentally. Unlike the extraordinary lads as pictured in glittering literature, he had not felt delighted at the prospect of dying "with his boots on," but, when the villains lifted him and his chum over the gunwale with the expressed purpose of drowning them like rats, he experienced a half moment of overwhelming terror. It is one thing to stand in the presence of grim death on the field of battle , wh e re the g litt e r and tins e l and the pomp of war lend the excitem ent of d e lirium to the scene, but it is differeJlt to face the fell destroyer under the circumstances that our cadets had just passed through. He had given all up as lost, and when Bill dragged him back into the boat again, he actually cried from the revulsion of feeling. This natural emotion did not last long, however, and he was soon ' actively at work thinking out a scheme for escape. . The recent conversation between their captors indica ted that, without som ething unfores e en would occur, they need not fear any personal violence for the present.

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On Board the Schooner. 127 Bill's broad hint at a "scheme," by which he expected to make money through possession of the cadets, greatly puzzled Harold. "I don't doubt but what Captain Orth would give something to put me out of the way," he mused; "but what good are we to these ruffians? That's the ques tion." It was a mystery he could not solve, so, with philo soP,hical indifference, he waited for succeeding events to explain it. Hughes would have liked to converse with his friend, but the gags made it out of the question. He did manage to nudge Kirby as a reminder that he was still above board, instantly receiving a similar touch in return. The two thieves hugged the shore as close as possi ble, taking advantage of every shadow they encountered. Both were expert at dodging, and they used all the craft a lifetime spent in criminal tactics taught them. The row-locks had been muffled by shreds of cloth, thus re ducing the ordinary grating noise to a minimum. Presently Bill, who pulled the bow, craned his head and saw something not far ahead that caused him to in stantly cease rowing. . "The peelers are over there," he whispered, pointing with one hand toward a spit of land on the western bank. "Let her drift a leetle, Job; then when we git opposite, pull like mad." "An' if they holler, an' fire their guns?" "Shoot back at 'em, an' shoot to kill," was the grim reply. Nodding his head in savage satisfaction, the other foot-pad sat silently watching the shadowy spot where lay their mortal enemy. Nearer and nearer they drifted, until at last Bill gave

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128 On Board the Schooner. the signal by dipping his oars deep into the water and tugging with all the force of which he was capable. His mate followed suit, and the thugs strained their backs in the effort to lengthen the space between them and the officers of the law. They were not to pass undiscovered, however. Suddenly the bow of a skiff came out of the gloom, and then the police boat, manned by two experienced oars men, darted after them. "Stop!" shouted a hoarse voice. "Halt, and surrender or we'll fire." Neither Bill nor Job wasted precious breath in reply. They simply bent their heads and rowed away. Bang! Bang! Two shots rang out, and two conical pieces of lead struck the water with a snapping "zip" just in front, but it had no effect, save that of putting renewed power into the ruffians' arms. Again the sound of a volley came to their ears, but the distance had been materially increased, and the bul lets flew wide of the mark. "We've a hard pull before us, mate," gasped Job. "Yes, an' I don ' t know whether I can last very long , " replied Bill, with sundry groans of exhaustion. "I would give half the scads I expect to make out o' this job if that ere boat would strike sum'met an' sink." There is no doubt but what the other echoed his senti ment, but he kept quiet and rowed with a long, swift stroke, doubtless learned at sea. Presently they noticed that the distance between them and the pursuing boat was increasing. In a few moments this seemed so certain that Bill rested for a while, and then relieved Job for a like interval.

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On Board the Schooner. 129 Thus taking turn about, they remained comparatively fresh, and gradually dro pped the police boat behind. Soon a b e nd in the river hid the pursuers from view, and the n both ruffians gav e a cautious cheer of triumph. The y did not wast e tim e in c e l ebrating their escape, but pulled steadily until the v a g u e outlines of a small schooner b e cam e visible just ah e ad. "There 's the Mary Ann, " cri e d Bill, in tones of extreme satisfaction. "We' ll soon be on her deck, pard, an' then this wind 'll carry us down to the city in a jiffy." Five minutes later the skiff glided up alongside the larger craft, and a man em erge d from the little cabin to bid them welcome. "Is the job done?" he asked, leaning over the low rail. "Yes, Brocky," answered the leader. Then dragging Harold erect, he added . : "We've got a couple of valuable passengers for yer. Give us a hand, will yer? There's two fly-cops a-chasin' us, an' they 'll r-ound that p ' int b e fore long." At this startling int e lli ge nce, the man on board showed a little life, and assisted the others in dumping the cadets on deck. From there they were speedily carried to the after cabin and locked in. Before leaving them , Bill removed the gags and loos ened their lashings so that a little strain was taken from their limbs. "I'm just
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CHAPTER XX. A STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. The cabin was but a small affair, probably not over twelve feet long by half as wide, so Harold and Kirby found themselves almost able to shake hands with each other. "Thank goodness he has taken that dirty rag out of my mouth at last!" exclaimed Chambers, when his tongue became sufficiently loosened to wag. "Another hour and I would have died, sure. I say, Harold !" "Yes." "Oh ! you are still alive, eh ? This is a nice place for two West Point cadets to be in, isn't it?" "We ought to be glad that we are even aboard this lawless schooner," r e pli e d Hug hes, emphatically. "It was nip and tuck a little while ago, I tell you." Kirby shivered sympathetically, and nodded his head in decided assent. "By Jove! you are right, old boy. That certainly was a narrow squeeze. I confess I gave it up just about that time. Ugh! fancy the brutes tying iron to us and then starting to dump us in the river like so many useless cats or puppies." "Have you any idea what these men intend doing with us?" Harold asked, presently. "No, I can't see what their game is. They surely don't intend kidnaping us like the banditti of Italy. This is not the country nor the century for that kind of work."

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A Struggle for Freedom. 131 "But what did the one called Bill mean by saying he had a scheme by which he could make plenty of money, eh? That looks as if they were carrying us off for a ransom, don't it?" "They'll get fooled if they think my old man 'll poney up a cent," chuckled Kirby, highly amused at the idea. "He'll say they have their own reward by getting my company, and much good it'll do them." Harold laughed at his friend's exaggerated words, and then became grave again. "I think this is the work of my old enemy, Captain Orth," he continued, wrathfully. "It is to his interest to have me out of his way, and I think he has paid these scoundrels to do it; but what do they want with you?" "Give it up," promptly replied Chambers. "But I really believe you are right about the first part. That black-whiskered villain would do anything." "If we ever get out of this scrape alive, Kirby, I am going to bring that fellow to justice if it costs me my commission. That he has defrauded my mother out of her just fortune, I am positive, and now he is trying to remove her only means of support-myself." "Count on me, chum!" exclaimed Kirby, heartily. "I'd like nothing better than to help you do him up." Harold looked his gratitude for the disinterested offer, and the two lads talked over ways and means for several minutes. Presently Chambers gave a start, and exclaimed: "By Jove, Hughes I what will the commandant and the superintendent say about our absence?" That was a point our hero had not thought of, and he remained silent trying to form an idea of the commotion their disappearance would cause in camp at reveille that morning. ,

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132 A Struggle for Freedom. "It's pretty near time for the fellows to turn out," he said, glancing at a small deadlight in the side. "The sun is up, and first call will go before long. I wonder if the sophomores we met at the castle will explain anything?" "Humph! not they!" replied Kirby, with a snort of contempt. "It would endanger their own precious hides if they said they met us out of bounds, and they never do that." "What? Not to assist in rescuing a bcother cadet?" asked Harold, hotly. "Oh! that's a different thing; but how do they know we are in peril? It's my opinion Jack and the rest will think we became frightened at setting the hut on fire and are afraid to come back." The idea seemed very plausible to Hughes, and he made no reply. It certainly appeared natural for the sophomores to keep quiet on such a subject, and he im mediately gave up any hope of aid from the academy. "We are under way;" suddenly exclaimed Kirhy. In their preoccupation they had not heard the rattle of the anchor chain, and it was not until the schooner heeled over to the breeze while turning that they noticed the change. "Where are they going to take us, I wonder?" asked Chambers. "New York, I think,'' replied Harold. "But what they intend trying to do with us after that, I don't know." "Can you slip your hands free?" "No; can you?" "I hardly know y e t. I have been working at this rope for the last ten minutes, but only gained a little." "Try your best, old boy ; and maybe we can get out of those scoundrels' clutches before they get any further in their scheme. Remember, it is a case of life and death."

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A Struggle for Freedom. 133 For a while Kirby did not answer, but Harold saw him working his hands in the effort to get free from the re straining bonds. Our hero held his breath in anxious expectation . Cham bers' success would mean a great d e al to them under the present circumstances. Harold did not expect to do much against three burly men, but it w as som e thing to be fr e e and able to defend one's s elf in case of a cold-blooded attempt to murder. Presently Kirby call e d out that he was progressing finely, and would have his arms free before long. "That m e ans freedom of action, old boy," he added, cheerfully. "Now, if we can only run across a couple of clubs or anything else to serve as weapons, we will be in great form." Harold glanced carefully around the little apartment, but could see nothing save a miniature cuddy stove in one c o rn e r. "We might use several of the lids, or the grate bars , " h e said. "They would make a formidable instrument of defense by tying them in a towel or piece of cloth." In reply Kirby gave an exclamation of joy and waved both arms his head. He had triumphed over the knots. "Free! free!" he almost shouted. "Now, for liberty!" "Sh-h !" warned Hughes, glancing at the deck over head. "Don't make any noise. If Bill or Job hears you they'll come down here and settle us. Hurry up, and see what you can do for my lashing." Chambers first untied the rope wound around his legs, and then liberated his chum. His nimble fingers made it an easy task and in a very few moments the two cadets stood up and stretched their cramped limbs with fervent expressions of relief.

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134 A Struggle for Freedom. "This is something like it," remarked Kirby. "Ugh! my legs would nave died with the dry rot if they had been confined any longer. Now, what are we going to do?" As seemed natural to him, Hughes took the lead, and devised a plan of campaign. It would require sharp work to defeat the three ruffians on their own vessel, and the lad knew it. He first contrived a couple of passable weapons from the objects mentioned above, using the coat sleeves of an old garment, found in one of the bunks. In these queer receptacles he placed the small stove-lids and then tied hard knots at the ends to secure them. When wielded by a sturdy arm, it formed .an instrument not to be de spised. While engaged in looking through the little deadlights piercing the sides of the cabin, the cadets heard footsteps approaching the scuttle. "Some one is coming, Kirby," whispered Harold, grasping his weapon . "Stand just behind the door, and be ready to fight . If he comes in, I'll give him a tap on the head that will put him to sleep for a while. Our only hope is that they will step in here one at a time." His wish was destined to be gratified. The sound drew nearer, and finally Bill's discordant voice was heard ing a Bowery refrain. The ruffian stopped at the scuttle, and threw it back ; then, without looking in, he walked down the few steps. The light afforded by the dingy windows was poor, and one coming from the outside would find it difficult to see for a brief space. That is the reason Mr. "Bill" failed to notice the absence of the prisoners until he reached the floor. When he did so, however, he started back with an ex-

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A Struggle for Freedom. 135 clamation of extreme surprise, and was just in the act of roaring out a warning to those on deck when Harold, from his position on one side of the door, gave him a terrific blow on the head . It was enough to fell an ox, and Bill tumbled to the floor without a murmur.

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CHAPTER XXL COMPLICA'l'IONS. "Quick, Kirby ! bind him with those ropes ; I think I hear some one else approaching I" His sharpened sense of hearing had detected a move ment on deck. and it sounded as if others were walking aft. He knew that one of the ruffians must be at the helm, as they were under way. Which it was, he did not know, of course, but he hoped that the next one to step into their little net would be the meanest villain of them allJ ob. He hurriedly assisted Chambers to bind their prisoner, and then the burly ruffian was placed out of sight in one of .the bunks. By this time the second one of the crew had reached the cabin entrance. He fumbled at the door-which Hughes had carefully closed after Bill's admission-and then called out : "Hello ! mate I Vv'hat yer
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Complications. 137 Chambers stood in the spot his friend had just occu pied, and waited the coming of Job with grim determina tion. Harold crept back out of sight, but placed himself in readiness to assist if the attack failed. Not receiving an answer to his question, Job grumbled out a few oaths and prepared to descend. Whether the strange silence of his mate, or a naturally suspicious nature made him wary, is not certain, but he stopped short on throwing back the door and hesita ted to enter. "Wot be the matter wid yer?" he asked, sullenly. "I say, Bill, wot yer
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Complications. brought it down on Job's back, sending that worthy head over heels down the steps, howling with mingled terror and pain. For a moment the helmsman stood silently witnessing the fracas, then, drawing a huge knife, he uttered a defiant shout and rushed toward the boys. "Stand by, Kirby!" shouted the young leader. "Look out for him!" They were grouped almost back to back in a little space just under the scuttle hatch, and .nearly in the door of the cabin. The approaching ruffian had stood at the top of the steps, while Job, groaning and swearing, lay stretched out on the deck. In his rage Brocky had not taken under consideration the fact that two stalwart, well-built lads, armed with heavy weapons, formed a combination not to be despised, but he soon corrected his error. On reaching a place from where he could see the prep arations made for his reception, he halted and, flourish ing his knife, threatened: "Drop them t'ings, young feller! Drop them, I say, or I'll cut yer t'roats !" "You don't say so?" drawled Chambers, chuckling. "Hadn't you better drop your pig-sticker and surrender instead?" Brocky gave a gasp of anger at the cool request of the cadet, and then made a motion as if he intended charging them, but he speedily changed his mind on seeing Harold lift the stove-lids, and contented himself with swearing lustily. "Youse fellers are only makin' t'ings worse for yer selves," he added, in a confiding tone. "If yer give up peaceful like an' promise to say nothing, I'll see w'ot I can do about puttin' yer ashore; see?"

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Complications. 139 "l\fr. Brocky, or whatever your name is, you are a c o nfounded liar, and you know it," promptly replied Hug hes . " D o n ' t you call names, kid. Don't yer do it," blustered the ruffian, w rathfully. Then, suddenly pointing behind them, he shouted: "Cut the ir windpipes, Job ! Kill the blokes!" Taken unaw ares, both Harold and Kirby turned quick ly, expecting to see the injured footpad, but instead of that the y found the cunning Brocky at their side. H e had tried an old dodge, and found that it worked to perfection. Giving Harold a slash with the knife, he made a fierce attack on Chambers , endeavoring to plunge the murderous weapon in his breast , but the lad was too quick for him. Darting aside, he struck out with his left fist and cau ght the scoundrel under the chin, knocking him back against Hughes. The latt e r had only b e en lightly touched with the keen blade, and was still fit for duty, so when he felt Brocky's body against his he dealt him a swift blow with the loaded coat sleeve at close quarters, managing to knock the knife from his hand. He tried to follow up his advantage , but the ruffian slipped from him like an eel, and ran through the door out on deck. "After him," cried Harold, snatching up the dagger. "Now is our time to escape!" "What about Job?" asked Kirby, pointing toward the fallen man. "Hadn't we better secure him first?" Hughes instantly saw that it would be a wise precau tion, so they accordingly tied his hands and feet, and laid

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Complications. him alongside his mate. Then, running to the door, they peeped over the edge of the scuttle. The deck was clear, but perched out on the extreme end of the bowsprit was Brocky, white with mingled terror and wrath. Chambers laughed shortly, and muttered: "Seems to be afraid of us, eh? I guess he has learned that two kids are not so easily disposed of. What are you going to do?" Before his friend could reply, the frightened ruffian stood up, and grasping the jib-stay with one hand, began waving the other to a handsome little yacht which suddenly appeared in view from up the river. "Yacht, ahoy!" he shouted. "Send help on board. There's mutiny afoot!" "What on earth does the fellow mean?" exclaimed Hughes, in astonishment. "Has he gone crazy?" "He has some scheme in mind," replied Chambers, uneasily. "I'll bet he to tell them we are trying to steal the schooner. If he attempts that we will convince them differently in two seconds." Harold glanced at his chum's costume, then at his own, and slowly shook his head. "I am afraid we will have a hard time making people believe we are cadets from West Point. You certainly " look like a tramp, and I don't doubt but what I am just as bad." One glance at Hughes' ragged garments and dirty face, the latter besmeared with blood, proved the truth of his assertion. It would certainly be a severe strain on any ordinary man's credulity to try and take him for an army cadet. For a moment Harold was tempted to make an attack

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Complications. on Brocky, and compel him to keep silent, but he instantly dismissed the idea and decided to wait. In the meantime, the cunning villain continued his cries and gesticulations. Finally the pleasure craft ran alongside, and a man clad in a neat uniform stepped out on deck. "What is the trouble on board?" he shouted. Brocky climbed down from the bowsprit, and answered: "Them fellers aft there are tryin' to steal this here schooner. They've killed my mates an' are trying to do away wid me. Send some men over and help ketch them, will yer ?" The captain of the yacht-for such he appeared to be . gave a start of surprise, and, darting in the pilot-house, speedily reappeared, clutching a revolver. He then called to several gentlemen who had been attracted on deck by the stopping of the vessel. "Here is a pretty how-de-do, sir," he exclaimed, ad dressing a tall young man, evidently the owner. "There's murder been committed aboard that vessel, sir, and those two villains aft are the criminals . " "I declare! Is it possible?" replied the youth, in fied tones. "This must be attended to at once. Mr. Cut ter, run close to her, and secure the scoundrels." Thinking the affair had gone far enough, Harold climbed on the rail, and called out: "That man forward is lying, sir. We are cadets from West Point, and have been kidnaped by a couple of high waymen. If you will investigate you can find the truth of my assertion." "West Pointers?" exclaim e d the owner of the yacht, incredulously, then eyeing them through his glasses, he burst into a laugh.

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Complications. "Fancy the beggars calling themselves cadets,'' he giggled, turning to his companions. "That's a deuced good joke , eh?" Hughes and Kirby reddened with anger at the inso lent tone, and clenched their fists involuntarily. "I'd like to punch the simpleton's nose," muttered the latter . "Keep quiet," warned his friend, cautiously. "Wait until we get out of this scrape . " Quick to see the state of affairs, Brocky walked toward the waist, and, when the other craft swung close enough, he jumped on board . Not to be outdone, Harold tried to do the same thing, but the yacht's captain pointed his revolver toward him with the harsh command of halt.

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CHAPTER XXII. ON 'l'HE YACH'!'. Hughes obeyed the skipper's order to keep off the yacht, but it was with a very bad grace. He viewed with alarm Brocky's strenuous efforts to convince the youthful owner of the pleasure craft that he was in immediate danger of assassination, and, when several of the crew prepared to board the schooner under the captain's command, he felt t hat he and his chum were simply getting out of the frying-pan into the fire. "All we can do is to demand an investigation," he whispered to Kirby. "But that will allow these scoun drels fime to escape, and I confess I would like to see them brought to justice." "For gracious sake! won't you be satisfied to get out of their reach?" asked his companion, in amazement. "No; I want to ascertain who put Bill up to this busi ness. If it is the captain, I'd like to know--" "Throw up your hands there, and be blamed quick about it! Here, drop that knife!" The command came from the skipper. He had walked forward on the yacht until he reached a spot just abreast of them, and now stood with revolver aimed in their direction. The cadets promptly elevated their arms, and remained in that position until a party of seamen from the other vessel manacled them together. They were then carefully watched until the owner and his friends examined the cabin. Not one of the ritfi yoi.ttHs descended until one of the

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144 On the Yacht. sailors had gone down first, however. It was evident they deemed discretion the better part of valor. Job and Bill were speedily discovered, and released from their confinement. The former had apparently re covered from the effects of Harold's blow, as he rushed on deck in a towering rage, and immediately attempted to attack the two lads. Several men from the yacht soon interfered and bade him be quiet. The ruffian was shrewd, and instantly saw the state of affairs. A few words spoken in a loud voice by Brocky also assisted him to take his cue, and he addressed the young proprietor of the pleasure boat in tones of mingled injury and gratitude. "I am orful glad you happened along, yer honor. These blamed willians hid aboard de schooner at Newburg, an' den kim out while we wuz under way an' took us by surprise. Dey knocked me down fust, den hit my mate over the head. Wot dey wants I dunno 'cept it is to rob the hooker." "He is not telling the truth, sir," cried Harold, indig nantly. "We caught him trying to rob a gentleman and lady between Highland Falls and West Point, and be cause we interfered, or for some other reason, he brought us aboard this vessel." "A likely story!" sneered Job. "We are decent sea farin' men, yer honor, an' can furnish references." "Who from? Those police officers who were after you last night?" asked Kirby, shrewdly. Bill turned slightly pale, and looked confused. "Wot perlice ?" he blustered. "I don't know anythink about cops around yer." Suddenly Harold glanced astern, and called out: "Why, there they are now I"

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On the Yacht. 145 The effect of his announcement was peculiar. Job wheeled around and stared aft in a terrified manner, while Bill and Brocky instinctively reached in their coats for concealed weapons. Our hero gazed triumphantly at the yacht's owner. "Isn't that a confession of guilt, sir?" he asked, quietly. The young gentleman looked perplexed. It certainly seemed as if the accused lads were helping their case. One of his guests, an intelligent appearing youth, stepped forward and said, suggestively. "Don't you think it would be a good idea to carry the boys and one of the sailors to New York, and report the matter to the authorities, George? We cannot waste much more time, as I want to catch the train to Phila delphia." "You are right, Charlie,'' quickly replied the other, apparently relieved at reaching a solution of the question. "That is the best plan. Here, captain, bring them aboard the Gipsy, and we'll get under way." From the appearance of Bill's face, he did not like the turn of affairs, and he favored the one making the suggestion with a scowl. "If youse would leave them wid us, we'd see they were given to de cops in the city, yer honor," he insin uated. "It would save yer the trouble, an' den we'd all be dere to testify." The one addressed as Charlie appeared suipicious now, and he whispered to his host for a moment. The latter looked slightly astonished, and then called out in a stern voice: "We cannot waste any more time with this affair. Bring the prisoners on board, captain. Now, one of you come with them, and be quick about it." Instead of complying, Bill waited until the cadets had

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On the Yacht. been transferred to the yacht, then he quickly cast off the ropes and allowed the Mary Ann to sheer away. "What are you doing there, you lubber?" asked the skipper, wrathfully. "Where is the;: man you want to send as a witness?" "Ain't goin' to send no man," replied the ruffian, sourly. "Glad to git rid of 'em as it is." "Hi, there!" shouted the youthful owner, loudly. "What do you mean, confound you? Come back here, and--" Job interrupted him by growling something not entire ly complimentary to the youth's intelligence in general, then saunte red to the helm and put the schooner before the wind in calm contempt. "Well, I declare!" gasped the proprietor of the pleasure craft, reddening. "The impudent wretch! I have a mind to have him arrested." "Let them go," advised Charlie, unable to prevent a smile. "We will take the boys down to New York and turn them over to the authorities with an explanation of the whole affair, then they can investigate further." This seemed good advice, so George ordered the captain to get under way, and the voyage down the river was resumed. Harold and Kirby, manacled, were at first placed in a spare room forward, where the boatswain, or carpenter, kept their stores, but finally they were sent for from the cabin. "The gents aft want to speak with you kids," said the steward, when he came for them. "If you wish to clean up a little you can go to the wash-room forward with me." That was just what both lads yearned for, and they

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On the Yacht. 147 took advantage of the offer so promptly that the colored servant concluded they were not so bad as painted. When they appeared in the cabin a moment later, their freshly-washed faces and carefully-brushed hair had worked such a change in their looks that George and his guests showed evidences of astonishment. "Why, I declare!" exclaimed the former. "Are these the same lads, steward?" "We are the two, sir," Harold replied, in lieu of the servant. He smiled as he spoke, and added : "I hope you will listen to our side of this affair now, sir. It is a peculiar story from beginning, but we can substantiate it in every particular." He then gave his interested audience a lucid descrip tion of all that had taken place since leaving the academy grounds the preceding night, not mentioning, however, his reason for the journey. "Now, sir," he concluded, "all this can be proven by communicating with the academy. As for the story told by those ruffians, it is not worth denying. I am only sorry they stand a good show of escaping the punishment they deserve." That his recital carried conviction was evident, and, if it were not for the peculiar fact that George, the owner of the yacht, was one of those conceited mortals who never acknowledge a mistake from fear that it will endanger their reputation for good sense, the lads would have been put on shore at the nearest town with enough . money to see them back to the Point. As it was, he hemmed and hawed for a while, and then said: "Your tale sounds plausible, young men, but the proofs are still lacking, and I shall be compelled to carry you

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On the Yacht. before the New York authorities. It is clearly my duty as a law-abiding citizen." The last sentence was said in a pompous tone, and, after uttering it, the speaker glanced around for approval. Of his several guests, Charlie was the only one who did not appear to agree with him, but even he did not raise a verbal objection. Harold was deeply disappointed, and viewed the threat ening arrest with horror. He wished above all things to escape figuring in a court of law, because of the taint of disgrace bound to follow.

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I ' CHAPTER XXIII. "STOP THIEF!" Concluding to make a last attempt to induce the yacht's owner to change his mind, Harold spoke long and earnestly on the subject, and was also assisted by Kirby, who said emphatically, if boyishly: "Now, see here, sir; just put yourselves in our place, and fancy how you'd like to be returned to the military academy by a police officer, and be made a guy of by all the cadets. Honestly, I'd rather jump overboard than go through it." Catching Charlie's eye, the lad turned such an imploring look toward him that the rich young gentleman was touched, and immediately resolved to do what he could for them. He appeared to have some influence with George, as a moment's whispered consultation with the latter resulted in the cadets being informed that they would be set at liberty on reaching the city. This was joyful news, and Harold expressed his gratitude in lively terms. "You will not regret it, sir," he added, "and to prove that our story is true,.I will write from the academy Just as soon as we report again." The boys were given some breakfast, and on arrival off the Battery a boat was sent ashore with them. As they left the side of the yacht its owner called out that he hoped they would prove to be what they had rep resented themselves to be, although he still had his doubts.

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150 "Stop Thief!" "Well, Harold, this is a pretty experience for two West Pointers, I must say," remarked Kirby, dropping into a seat near the elevated railroad structure. "Here we are, turned loose in this city, without a cent and dressed like tramps." "Oh, that does not make any difference!" Hughes re plied, cheerfully. "We will soon find our way back to the academy . " "How? We haven't any money, and it's too far to walk." "We can either telegraph to the commandant or go to the army building and see some officer on duty there." "What is the matter with seeing the superintendent of police and explaining matters to him. Maybe he will help us, and also catch those scoundrels." "I do not ;.,ish to have anything to do with the authorities in this case or allow it to become public in any way. The newspapers will get hold of it then, and we'll never hear the last of it. No, old boy, that won't do. Come along to the army building. It is up there, I think." Harold led the way out of the park, and after inquiring the proper street of a passerby, at last arrived at the huge stone structure used by Uncle Sam as an army headquarters in the metropolis. Forgetting their rough garments, the two cadets walked in the front entrance and passed on down the hall looking for some one to direct them to the office of the officer in charge. Presently a man clad in a janitor's uniform appeared and asked them in no gentle tones what they were doing in the building. "If ye have come to beg, young fellers, ye'd better git

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"Stop Thief!" out, as we don't allow tramps here , " he added, import antly. "We a re here on bus in e s s , and w i s h to s e e the colonel in comm a nd, " h o tly r e plied ou r h e ro , inc e nsed at the fel lo w' s t o n e . "Take u s t o him at o n ce ." "Yis, Oi will, in y e r m o ind ," r etorte d the janitor, moving toward the m. "Oi'll take ye z to th e lock up if ye r don't git out of that
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"Stop Thief!" on the group, to use a nautical expression, with majestic steps . "What do be the matter, Pat?" he called out, drawing his club. Before the janitor could answer Harold saw that they were in great danger of arrest, and he whispered to Kirby to run. It happened that a Broadway car was coming up at that moment, attended by the usual collection of trucks and other vehicles, so when Hughes and his friend made a sudden dash toward the opposite side of the street the policeman noticed their action just in time to see them disappear across the front platform. He immediately gave chase, calling out: "Stop thafe I Stop thafe I" As a matter of course, the cry soon attracted the atten tion of all within hearing, and a crowd of several hundred persons were soon in hot pursuit of the unfortunate cadets. Hughes and his chum did not stop on reaching the op posite side, but darted down a convenient street, and had almost reached another crossing when the officer ap peared in view with the howling mob. "We are in for it now!" exclaimed Kirby, his face pal-ing at the sight. "Don't give up, old boy," replied Harold, gritting his teeth. "If we are caught that fellow will swear us into jail sure." Their position was growing desperate. Several men in front had heard the cries and were coming toward them with the undoubted intention of catching the lads. Hemmed in both behind and ahead, it seemed as if another moment would see them in the hands of tlie police,

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"Stop Thief!" 153 when Hughes, who was slightly in advance, darted through, an open door, closely followed by his chum. Whe n the mob arriv e d at the spot they found it to be a hallway, but it was now empty. The alleged thieves had compl e tely disappeared. The police, of whom there were now three or four, drew their clubs and made a thorough search, finding that the narrow apartment led to a back court, on the other side of which was a cheap lodging-house fronting on another street. It was simply through sheer desperation that our hero ente red the hall. He realized that it would be utterly impossible to escape by running on, so , like a drowning man catching at a straw, he darted in the first open door. It fortunately turned out as describ e d above, and the sorely pressed lads soon found themselves in a strange street , safe at last. It did not take them long to put a considerable distance b e tween them and that part of the town where they had just met with such a disconraging experience. "Whew I but that was a close shave I" exclaimed Cham bers, slacking his speed . "I should say so," coindded Harold, emphatically . "A little more and we would have been arrested. Say! let's get out of this town a!'I quick as possible. I don't like the way they treat strangers." "Nor I, old boy," replied Kirby, with a grin. "They are too hospitable by tar. Want to provide one with lodgings free of charge the first thing. What are you going to do now?" "Telegraph." "What with? A check on the Point?" "We will see if they won't send a message collect at

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154 "Stop Thief!" the other end," replied Hughes, soberly. "We have to do something, Chambers, that's flat." "What are you going to say?" "Oh, just tell the superintendent we are here and want passage to the academy." "Then add that we'll explain later, eh?" "'Yes. Here is the Western Union office." They entered the Broadway edifice of the telegraph company, and Harold asked a lady stationed at the receiving window if he could send a collect message to West Point. "Yes ; by first depositing the amount with our cash ier," she promptly replied. "But I haven't any money," Hughes stammered, embarrassed at the confession. "We are compelled to obey the rules, young man," answered the clerk, severely. "Please make way for the gentlemen behind you." Harold turned sadly away, and to his extreme surprise and joy saw the familiar figun: of Lieutenant Carey CO!!rad standing before him.

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CHAPTER XXIV. A SIGNIFICANT MEETING. At first the young officer did not recognize him, but a sudden exclamation from Harold caused him to glance at the lad's face, ana he gave a start of amazement. Even then he did not appear certain, and simply stared at Hughes and Kirby until the smiles on the cadets' countenances brought added proof of their identity. "Well, what in the deuce are you doing here?" he gasped. "That will require a long explanation, Conrad," replied Harold, shaking the lieutenant's hand with extreme sat isfaction. "Oh, I am so glad to meet you here. We are in a bad fix, and if you hadn't come along I don't know what would have happened. Ain't there some place around here where we can talk without attracting attention?" The last question was caused by the many curious glances cast in their direction from strangers passing by. These were not the results of an idle curiosity, but from the fact that fashionably dre::.sed gentlemen, as a rule, do 1 1 .ot shake hands with ragged youths in public places. Carey saw the truth of the remark. and he instantl. replied: "It don't make any difference to me, boys, but if you wish to escape observation we will run over to the Astor House and engage a room. It is only a couple of blocks from here."

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A Significant Meeting. On the wav to the hotel he turned to Harold and asked gravely: "You boys have not-have not-deserted, have you?" Kirby laughed boisterously at the question, and inter cepted his chum's reply by saying: "Not by a jugful, Mr. Conrad. Wild horses couldn't drag us from the old academy." "It's a very strange story, sir," added Hughes, soberly. "And you will hardly believe it." Before the young officer had time to answer they arrived at the Broadway entrance of the famous hotel. A few words to the clerk in charge proved. sufficient, and they were soon installed in a pleasant room. "Now, first of all, Carey," asked Harold, "did you write me a letter yesterday?" "A letter?" echoed the lieutenant in surprise. "Why, no, certainly not." "I thought all along it was a fraud, or at least since leaving the academy, and now I am sure. There has been some deep plotting going on, lieutenant, and it almost succeeded." Hughes then related in detail everything which hacl occurred since their leaving camp the previous evening. He spoke with a natural eloquence, and his auditor lis tened with bated breath to the dark story of abduction and attempted assassination. When the young cadet had finished Carey jumped to his feet and walked up and down the room in an excess of rage. "Oh, the scoundrel!" he muttered, clenching his fists. "To think that an officer of the United States Army should be guilty of such a despicable crime. It is almost past belief."

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A Significant Meeting. 157 "That's what it is, sir,'' chimed in Kirby, heartily. "He surely didn't get his lessons in villainy at the academy." Again seating himself, Conrad thought deeply for a while; then he said to Hughes: "Ii it was not for one thing I would recommend exposing the rascal this very day. As it is, I think it best to say nothing about the captain's share in this affair until later." Drawing a paper from an inside pocket, he continued: "Here is a letter from a private detective I sent to Riv erside several weeks ago. He has been watching Ralph Orth, and says that the latter' s brother-the captainpaid a visit to the town not long ago. This detective succeeded in getting employed in the household as a ser v a nt, and managed to overhear several conversations be tween the pair of rascals. "From what he could understand, old Ralph was urging his brother on to put a c e rtain p erson out of the way so they could secure some property without fear of future trouble. It seems that the captain, who, by the way, i s v e ry dis s ipat ed, has run deeply into debt, and drew on his brother to satisfy the amounts. This the old miser hesitated to furnish until he suddenly got a chance at your fath e r ' s fortune. The rest you know." . Hughes felt deeply grateful to his friend for the inter est the latter was taking in his affairs, and he said so in heartfelt tones. "I am doing this for two reason . s, young man," replied Carey, smilingly. "In the first place, I want to help you all I can from general principles, and then again , I con sider it my duty as an officer and a gentleman to rid the army of such a despicable scoundrel as Captain Orth. Now, I was just in the act of telegraphing certain instruc tions to the d ete ctive in Riverside when I met you so for

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158 A Significant Meeting. tunately. I wanted to tell him to secure all the proofs he can of the conspiracy, and let me know from time to time how things are going. " "Can' t we get the captain out somewhere and beat him with a club until he confesses?" anxiously asked Chambers, deeply interested . His companions laughed at the lad's comical sugges-6 tion, but did not offer to adopt the idea. More subtle weapons than a club would have to be brought into use to def eat the scoundr el. "By the way, Harold, where is this letter supposed to hav e b e en written by me?" asked Conrad. The young cadet looked through his clothes without success for a while , then replied: "I must have left it in my uniform , hidden on the mountain just above the road to the academy. I will get it, and give it to you when we return. Now, what about our explanation to the superintendent?" Carey looked grave on hearing the latter question. "By Jove! I hardly know what to say , boys. Of course, you would be cleared of any serious charge if we told him all about the conspiracy, but that is just what we don't want to do yet. The only chance we have of probing the matter to the bottom is by keeping quiet and leading the captain to believe that no danger exists. "Probably it would be just as well for you to r eport to the comma:idant on reaching the academy and then refer him to me. I am on my way there now from Washington, and will accompany you as far as the grounds. You will be placed under arrest at once, no doubt, but keep a stiff upper lip, and if it begins to look serious I'll have a private talk with the superint e nd ent." "I would run any risk to get back my moth e r's property," replied Hughes, "but I don't care to endanger

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A Significant Meeting. 159 Kirby's prospects; he is in trouble enough already on my account." "What did I tell you last night, Harold Hughes?" cried Chambers, wrathfully. "If you commence to talk that way I'll refuse to go back at all, and be called a deserter. I want to tell you once for all that I am with you heart and soul in this affair ; do you understand?" "Well, don't quarrel about it, boys," laughed Carey, secretly proud of the cadet's stanch friendship for his protege. "I dare say you will find yourself a martyr soon enough. Now, it is almost time for the train to Highland Falls, so if you will come with me I'll settle -at the office and we will then go over to the station." An hour later the three friends were on board a fast train en route to the academy. On the way Harold ex plained their adventure with the janitor of the army build ing. Conrad laughed heartily, but admitted that he could hardly blame the man for bouncing such disreputable characters. This was said with such a quizzical glance at their attire that both lads joined in the mirth at their ex pense. It had been decided to say nothing about the footpads to the city police, as that would necessarily entail no toriety, and possibly cause Bill to give away the whole plot, if captured. The travelers left the train at Highland Falls station and took a carriage for the town. Carey left them there and went on to the post, while the two lads looked up their uniforms and exchanged the neat gray garments for the rags they had worn since the previous night. After that had been attended to they walked to the academy and went at once to the commandant's office.

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160 A Significant Meeting. Lieutenant Conrad was just leaving as they reached the door. Drawing them to one side, he said: "I have seen both the superintendent and the com mandant, and have stated that I met you in New York trying to return here. I also told them that you had left the academy clandestinely on business of great im portance to one of you. At first they absolutely refused to listen to anything except a court-martial, but upon my saying that I was personally acquainted with the circum stances, and would pledge my honor that it would be re vealed in due time, they consented to let you off with a light punishment. "The superintendent said that if the secret was not forthcoming within the gradt.tating term he would let this escapade stand against your commission.'' Glad to get off so easy, Harold and Kirby entered the office and presented themselves to the commandant. That official did not waste any words with them, how ever, but simply ordered them to report at their com pany's headquarters at once. As they were leaving the room, he called out : "I hope you will be satisfied with a quiet life within the academy limits for the next few years, young gentlemen. If not, you may have a better opportunity to live outside than yon care for." The significance of this speech was not lost on the cadets, and Kirby remarked as they were leaving the building: "I guess he means it, old boy, and it behooves us to say nothing and 'bone demerits' for a while, eh?" "I heartily agree with you, chum," replied Hughes. "We ought to settle down for the next six months at least and devote our time to hard study. I confess I greatly desire to pass the annual 'exam' as high as pas-

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A Significant Meeting. 161 sible, and if close application to the books will do it I will succeed." Just as they entered the parade-ground on their way to the summer camp a party of officers accompanied by sev eral civilians .. among whom was a young lady, came out of the library and met them face to face. The officer n e arest them was Captain Orth, and as he recogniz ed Harold he staggered back with a stifled ex clamation of mingled terror and surprise.

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CHAPTER XXV. ON 'l'HE SIGNAL 'l'OWER. The peculiar actions of Captain Orth instantly attracted the attention of his companions, and one, a junior .surgeon, hurriedly asked him if he was ill. "No-that is-I felt a slight giddiness, doctor," replied Orth, recovering his composure by a great effort. "It is nothing at all. I am all right now." While speaking he forced a smile, at the same time turning his back to Harold and Kirby. The latter had halted on seeing the commotion, but now they attempted to pass with a regulation salute to the officers of the party, when suddenly the young lady stepped forward , and glanced searchingly at our hero. Taken by surprise, Harold almost forgot to bow at the unexpe cted atte ntion. "Why, father, this is the young gentleman that saved us from those highwaym e n last night!" she exclaimed, turning to an old white-haired man forming one of the group. "Nonsense, Ethel!" replied the one addressed, looking at Hughes. "This is one of the cadets, and that boy was a citizen." "Great gosh!" murmured Chambers, unde r his breath. "It's the girl in the carriage!" Hughes felt highly embarrassed , and wish e d that he was miles away . He kne w that if h e was identifi e d with the lad who had filled such an important part in their, n o doubt, much talked of adventure, it would form a subject

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On the Signal Tower. of conversation for the whole academy, and that was just what he wished to prevent. How to get out of it without telling a deliber::ite lie , he did not know . To gain time, he lifted his jaunty cap and said , pol i tely : "I beg your pardon, but did you wish to speak with me?" It was now the young lady's turn to become embar rassed. She blushed slightly , and involuntarily turned to h e r pare nt. "You must excuse my daughter, sir," said the old gentl e man, good-humoredly . "She has mistaken you for one who lat e ly r e nder e d us a v a luable s e rvice." "I a m r e ally sorry it is a mistake , sir," gallantly replied Hughes. "As nothing would have given me greater pl e asure." The n, with another ceremonious bow, he walked on with Chambe rs, leaving the party smiling at his tact. Harold cast a cautious glance at Captain Orth as he moved away, and was rewarded by seeing the scoundrelly officer scowl at him in a menacing manner. After they had walked out of hearing, Kirby nudged his chum and said, slyly: "She 's a beauty, isn't she?" "Wha t are you t alking about?" asked Harold, in reply, aff e ct i n g ignorance of his companion's meaning. "Oh, you are t e rribly innocent all at once. Why, the young lady , of course. And see how she blushed when sh e spoke to you. Ha, ha!" "You're a fool," retorted Hughes, reddening. "And if you don't stop that talk, I will break your neck." Chambers was not greatly alarmed by the terrible threat, but he ceased talking, as they were drawing near the camp.

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On the Signal Tower. Their appearance was hailed with many exclamations of wonder by their brothe r-cadets , and after they had reporte d for duty, a cro w d surrounded them. " Well, you are fine fellows , I must say," remarked George West, with a prolonged grin. "Where under the heavens have you been?" "Oh, taking a stroll for our health," replied Kirby, care lessly. "The surgeon told the old man that we were suf fering from cramps in the liver, and that it would be best to let us have a spin to New York." "Get out, you confounded fibber! But, honestly, have you been to the city? " "Didn't I say so? Do you doubt my word, sir?" de manded Chambers, in such a dignified tone that every one laughed. To appease their curiosity, Harold stated that he and Kirby had been suddenly called away, but that everything had been satisfactorily explained to the powers that be. Leaving this slight information as a sop to their curi osity, the two lads went to their tents and dressed in the uniform of the day. It was now about dinner-time, and they soon found that the many startling adventures gone through with since leaving the academy had in no wise diminished their appetites. The bugle-call for mess formation had never seemed so welcome as it did that noon , and Harold lost no tim e in joining the front ranks. Chambers was ne.xt to him , and the two lads found themselves the cent e r of attrac tion. Life at the academy is not prolific of thrilling incidents as a rule, and when anything occurs so much out of the. common as two junior cadets taking "French leave" with-

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On the Signal Tower. out being severely punished for it, the principals in the affair are bound to find the mselves famous . Kirby rather gloried in it, but Hughes would have pre ferred less notorie ty if it had been in his power to choose. Noticing the absence of Ralph Orth, Harold asked a cadet, and was informed that he had been d e tailed for signal drill, and had gone over to the tower across the river early that morning. "I think another party will be sent to relieve them this afternoon," he added. "It's great fun, and gives a fel low a chance to stretch his legs outside the grounds. I guess you and your chum will go along this time." A couple of days . previous, Hughes and Kirby would have hailed the opportunity with delight, but their ex perience during the last twenty-four hours had taken away all feverish desire to "stretch their legs," as the lad put it. However, they were there to obey, and when the naling detail was made up, they went with the rest of those ordered. The system of conveying messages from point to point in the United States Army embraces among others, the use of flags, or, as it is termed, "wig-wagging." To teach the embryo officers at the military academy, the Government has placed two stations near the grounds, one at old Fort Putnam on the crest of the hills just back of the post, and another on a high tower crowning the mountain across the Hudson River. It was to this last one that Harold and his chum were sent that afternoon, together with several other cadets. The party marched down to the ferry landing, and were taken across in short order. Following a long, winding road, they reached the summit in good time and found the other detail in readiness to depart.

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166 On the Signal Tower. "I'll bet Ralph will be disappointed when he sees you,u whispered Kirby to his friend, as they marched up to the tower. "Not any more than his father appeared to be," replied Hughes, with a short laugh. "Did you notice how agitated he was this morning when we met that crowd?" "No; I was too busy watching the tell-tale blushes playing hide and seek on that fair young lady while she was speaking to-ouch I" Harold interrupte d the young scalawag's insinuating speech by a surreptitious pinch, causing him to howl in such a manner that the lieutenant in charge of the party threatened to send him back in disgrace. "I thought you had gone through enough trouble with the colonel to-day, Cad e t Chambers," he remarked, in a severe tone. "If I am compelled to make a report of your misconduct, I am afraid it will go hard with you." Kirby saw the truth of the remark, and hung his head in contrit e n e ss. He m anaged to give Harold a glance, however, that meant volumes in the way of good-humored revenge. Our hero paid no atte ntion to it, otherwise than by a threatening motion with his fist. He was rather curious to see what effect his appearance would have on the cap tain's worthy offspring. The other detail met them at the top of the hill, but Ralph was not among them. His absence was explained a moment later by the of ficer in charge, who stated that he had left one cad e t up on the tower to prevent the flags from being blown away. He also said that the lad could return with the new detachment. This arrangement being satisfactory, the cadets as-

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On the Signal Tower. cended to the top, while the others disappeared down the slope of the hill. Both Harold and Kirby were among the first to reach the upper platform, and just as they stepped out into view young Orth came forward to meet them. They expected him to display some surprise, but neither anticipated the remarkable effect the sight of . Hughes would cause. He stopped, stared at our hero as if at a ghost, and then, with a terrible cry, wheeled round and leaped on the low parapet surrounding the platform. "Come back !" cried one of the lads, terror-stricken. But the force of the jump caused him to waver and he fell from view into the depths below.

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CHAPTER XXVI. A DARING Horrified at Ralph's insane action, Hughes ran to the edge and looked over, fully expecting to see the lad's mangled body at the base of the tower. It was not visible, however, but several broken and torn bushes, just where the mountain side sloped toward the distant river, seemed to indicate that the unfortunate eadet's body had rolled out of sight in the foliage. "This is terrible I" exclaimed the lieutenant, coming up at that moment. "How did it happen?" While several of the boys were trying to explain, Hughes beckoned to Kirby, and rapidly descended the steps. "Hurry, old boy," he said. "We may be in time to save him. It was an awful fall, but it is still possible he is living, and we can do more good searching for him than staying up there." Nothing loath, Chambers hurried after his friend, and the two cadets soon found themselves on the ground. It was but the work of a moment to find the place where Ralph had struck. A shattered bush pointed out the spot, and just beyond were various marks, such as broken tree branches and scattered leaves, showing that his body had rolled in that direction. 'fhe ground sloped at a steep angle just there, and the boys knew the bank of foliage was liable to conceal a dangerous ravine or sharp precipice. "If we only had a rope, you could lower me down,''

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A Daring Rescue. suggested Hughes, glancing around him in search of some article that would ans wer the purpose. "How would that long limb do ? " a s k e d his companion, pointing to a tree branch n ear the edge. "You could hold one end, and--" He was interrupted by the faint sound of a groan. It came from beyond the bush es, and was plainly apparent. "He's alive!" shouted Hughes, excitedly. "Quick, Kirby I hold the limb while I crawl down the slope. Here I brace your feet against that rock." Both boys sung out to those above, giving the news and asking them tb hurry down. The lieutenant came first, and immediately took charge of the rescuing party. Hug hes explained his plan, but it did not meet with the officer's approval. Unfortunately he happened to be a pompous member of the academy staff, and the bare idea of an ordinary first-year cadet offering suggestions was unpardonable in his eyes. The army is afflicted with such characters as well as other professions. "A couple of you boys go down to the ferry-landing and borrow a rope," he ordered, addressing the detail in general. "Make haste, now, and hurry back. Get a stout line about thirty feet in length." Harold was surprised that his superior officer should adopt a plan causing such a delay. The distance to the river was fully two miles, and it would require at least an hour to secur . e the rope, while by utilizing the tree branch they could proceed with the work at once. "Shall I try my plan, sir?" he asked, respectfully. "I am in harge of this party, Cadet Hughes," quickly replied the officer, glancing at Harold through his glasses in a supercilious manner. "W. hen I wish advice, I'll ask you--"

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A Daring Rescue. "But, sir,'' expostulated our hero, forgetting the dif ference between their ranks in his anxiety; "it will be some time before the boys can return with the rope, and perhaps Orth is in momentary danger of falling into some ravine." "What do you mean, sir?" shouted the lieutenant, white with rage. "How dare you talk back to me? I'll have you--" He was interrupted by a wailing cry from the brush, beyond which Ralph had disappeared. "Help! help! I cannot hold on much longer. Save me! Save m me !" The officer gave a start on hearing the appeal, and then ran to the edge of the slope. "We hear you, Orth," he called out. "Do your best to keep up-help will be given you before long." "I wonder if he will give in now, and let us use this limb?" whispered Kirby. But his words fell upon the empty air. When he turned to speak to Hughes, he saw that the latter had walked to the commencement of the slope , and was now engaged in crawling down from bush to bush. It was plainly apparent the lad meant to risk punish ment for disobedience of orders, and rescue his bitter enemy, Ralph Orth. The lieutenant saw the move at once, and called to Harold to come back under p e nalty of instant arrest. Turning a deaf ear to the threat and the command, Hughes dropped from the edge down to a slanting tree trunk. When he reached there he found that he was not alone. Kirby Chambers was at his heels, and carried the I> ranch. "Did you think I would let you do this alone?" he

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A Daring Rescue. 171 asked, reproachfully. "That officer will find two to punish." "I couldn't bear to hear that fellow cry for help so piteously," said .Harold, from between his set teeth, "without making an attempt to assist him. He has tried to injure me in every way, but I hope I am not mean enough to let that influence my actions." "You are a noble fellow, Hughes," replied Chambers, in tones of admiration. His friend was too busy to hear the laudatory remark, as at that moment he proceeded to lower himself further down the slope. Up on the ridge, the lieutenant fumed and swore at the rank breach of discipline for a while, and then watched the work of rescue with great: interest. Under Harold's direction, Kirby held the long limb tightly with both hands, and braced himself against the trunk of an old tree. The other cadet grasped the novel ladder with one hand and parted the bushes with the other. "Hurrah!" he instantly shouted; "I can see him. Keep up your heart, Orth; I'll help you out in a moment." From where he stood the form of Ralph Orth was plainly visible, and he saw that the lad was in deadly peril. About six feet beyond the fringe of bushes Harold was peering through was the frowning edge of a danger ous-looking precipice, and right on its brink hung the captain's son, clinging to a fragment of rock. His face was pale, and he appeared completely exhaust ed. It was plainly evident to Hughes that only the utmost haste would save him. With another encouraging shout, he slipped through the foliage, and then tried to reach Ralph's shoulder.

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172 A Daring Rescue. He was deeply vexed to find that his utmost efforts would only carry him within a few inches of the imperiled lad. Some other plan must be tried. "Can you crawl a little higher up?" he asked Ralph. "I-I-am a-afraid to let go I" gasped young Orth. "My body is slipping inch by inch. Oh, save me, Hughes, and I'll tell you all about Before he could finish the sentence the rock gave way, and he was just in the act of falling into the ravine when Harold, regardless of self , made a grab for him. It was fortunate that Kirby Chambers was well braced, or the sudden shock would have either drag ged the limb from his hands, or drawn him down the slope. As it was, he still held on to the branch, and a moment later saw Hughes appear through the fringe of foliage with Ralph Orth clinging around his neck. The shout that went up from the young cadets on the ridge could have been heard at the water's edge. They whooped and yelled, and then gave three rousing cheers for Hughes. And then several of the more quick-witted formed a hand-to-hand line, and helped the over-burdened lad up to the base of the tower. It was soon observed that Ralph had fainted from exhaustion, and it was instantly resolved to signal the academy for medical assistance. Kirby volunteered to work the flags, so the lieutenant told'him to ask for a surgeon, and also to have some one tell Captain Orth that his son had been injured. Chambers hurried to the top of the tower, and, seizing one of the signal pennants, commenced to wave it back and forth to attract the attention of the other tower. He received an immediate response-in fact, the detail

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A Daring Rescue. 173 in Fort Putnam had been waiting for some time for the commencement of practice. Very skillfully did the cadet wave the necessary sen tences with his flag. First to the right, then to the left, following the Morse system, with its dots represented by one side and the dashes by the other, ending each word with the downward movement in front. He finished at last, receiving in reply an assurance that aid would be sent at once. On reaching the ground once more, he found to his surprise and indignation that Hughes had been placed under arrest by the lieutenant. A couple of cadets stood at his side, and the officer was in the act of telling them to take their prisoner to the academy guard-house. Chambers took in the situation at a glance, then stepping forward, he placed himself next to his friend and exclaimed: "If you have arrested him, sir, you must not forget me; I am equally as guilty."

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CHAPTER XXVII. THE ACCIDENT AT PONTOON DRILL. The lieutenant stared at him for a moment in amaze ment, and then shouted: "What is this, sir? You are insubordinate, you young scamp! Consider yourself under arrest, also." Kirby gave an elaborate salute with his right hand, and stood stiffly at attention. "Well, in all my experience, I never saw such mutin ous conduct," growled the officer, glaring at the two cadets. "Why, one would think I was an enlisted private and they generals." . At that juncture one of the other lads spoke up calmly, but with determination : "I beg your pardon, Lieutenant Trott, but the rest of us think that Cadet Orth owes his life to Hughes, and he was only obeying an instinct of common humanity by rescuing him." "Do you wish to join the prisoners?" asked Trott, sav agely. "No, sir; but if we are called as witnesses we intend to testify that Hughes and Chambers risked their lives in saving a fellow-cadet, and that you forbid them doing just the thing that resulted so successfully." The officer bit his lips in vexation. He knew in his heart that, although he could have the boys punished, yet the superintendent, a fair-minded gentleman, would censure him, if not call a court of inquiry. If it were one or two cadets only, then he might get

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The Accident at Pontoon Drill. 175 the best of it, but with the whole detail arrayed against him, it would be a hard matter to convince the head of the academy that he was in the right. Making no reply to the last speech of the resolute cadet, he ran to the top of the tower, and "wig-wagged" for information concerning the departure of the surgeon. This manceuvre was only to gain time to think over the matter, however, but he learned at the same time that Captain Orth and the doctor had already reached the foot of the mountain. Returning to the ground, Trott ordered Harold and Kirby set at liberty, remarking that he would communi cate with the superintendent. "That's just what he won't do," whispered Hughes, highly indignant at his treatment. "But I am going to see Lieutenant Conrad, and ask his advice about reporting this outrage." In the meantime, Ralph had recovered consciousness, , and was sitting against the base of the tower, looking pale and weak. His escape from instant death was almost miraculous, as he had fallen fully thirty feet. If it had not been for the thick bushes upon which he had stmck, as against a cushion, the accident would have resulted fatally be yond a doubt. As it was, he had received a severe shock, which would possibly confine him to the hospital for some time. Up to the present nothing had been said about the cause of the accident. He had been seen to start back when the new detail re.ached the platform, and then spring on the parapet with an expression of terror upon his face. The lieutenant now asked him why he had acted so foolishly. "I-I-don't know, sir," Ralph stammered, glancing

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176 The Accident at Pontoon Drill. furtively at Harold. "It was just a bit of skylarking, I suppose." Hughes and Kirby smiled grimly. They knew the real reason. It was plainly evident to both that young Orth had been told of the plot by his father, and the unexpected appearance of the cadet acted as a shock . "I guess he thought I was a ghost," Harold managed to whisper to his chum. "It was a good thing for him a few moments ago that I proved to be real flesh and blood." Then he recollected what Ralph had said about some information concerning the captain when he pleaded for help, and he resolved to take advantage of the youth's apparent gratitude while it was fresh in his remembrance. Walking over to his side, he bent down, and, looking him in the face, said gravely: "You wished to tell me something, Ralph; what was it?" "What do you mean?" asked young Orth, in reply. "I don't remember saying anything." "Do you mean to deny telling me that if I saved you, you would tell all about your--" He was interrupted by h earing a sudden noise just be hind him, and, turning quickly, he saw Captain Orth walking in their direction. Not deigning him a glance, the officer strode up, and, stooping over his son, asked tenderly if he was badly injured. Hughes quickly withdrew, but with the mental resolution to have another interview with the son. The surgeon made a hasty examination, and found that Ralph had been severely bruised about the body , and was still suffering from the shock. He also stat e d that abso, lute rest was necessary for some time. A stretcher had be e n brought over, on which young

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The Accident at Pontoon Drill. 177 Orth was lifted and conyeyed to the academy by easy stages. Before the captain left the ridge, Lieutenant Trott called him to one side and briefly explained the part Harold and Kirby had taken in the rescue . His auditor looked excessively annoyed, and cast a furtive look at Harold as if he considered the unwelcome information another cause for hatred, then, turning to both cadets, he said stiffly: "You have my gratitude, young gentlemen, for your assistance to my son." Hughes and his chum simply bowed in reply, and then gave a military salute with their right hand. "The old pig! He don't mean a word of it," muttered Chambers, disdainfully, as the captain walked away with the stretcher. "I believe he would rather have had Ralph killed than you rescue him." Harold thoroughly agreed with him. After an hour's practice with the signal flags, the detail was escorted back to the academy by Lieutenant Trott, and dismissed to their various companies. Before night the occurrence was the talk of the post, and Harold came in for more praise. At evening parade his company commander took occasion to draw him to one side and compliment him highly on "his bravery. Kirby was not forgotten, either, and he heard enough pleasant words to make his mischievous face redden like a full-blown peony. The following morning Hughes met Lieutenant Conrad near the riding-school, and had a long conversation with him on the subjects of interest to both. "Although my private opinion about the way Trott treated you yesterday is that he tried to do you an in justice, yet I hardly think it would pay to take any further I

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r 78 The Accident at Pontoon Drill. notice of it," Carey said, in reply to his young friend's description of the affair. "I am sure he won't say anything more about the alleged insubordination, so you had better drop the whole thing." "But I hate to think that I am under reproof for trying to save a comrade's life," persisted Hughes, warmly. "Why, if we had waited until the fellows returned with the rope, Orth would now be lying at the bottom of that precipice. And then to have a supercilious cad like him place me under arrest for simply obeying the instincts of humanity." "Sh-h-h !" warned Carey, gravely. "This is highly spiced talk for a cadet to use against his superior officer, Harold. I acknowledge that Trott was unjust and over bearing, but discipline must be upheld in the army, or we would simply be an unruly mob." ''You are right, Conrad," replied our hero, in apolo getic tones. "I realize that fully, but it made me so angry that I spoke hastily. Have you heard anything lately from the West?" "Nothing but a short note, stating that our detective was getting more and more in the confidence of old Ralph Orth. He hints that it may take a long time; but we can afford to wait, eh?" "I will repay you for your kindness some day," began Hughes, gratefully, but Carey immediately started to walk away, and the lad laughingly ceased speaking on the subject. "I received a letter from mother this morning," he said, taking the epistle from his pocket. "She says that Ralph Orth has not troubled her lately, but that she lives in constant fear of him. In fact, I believe my poor old mother thinks • he can take even the little cottage away

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The Accident at Pontoon Drill. 179 from her. I tell you, Carey, I am sometimes almost tempted to throw up my chances of winning a commis sion and return home to wrest the truth from that villain." "Don't you think of doing such a foolish act," Conrad . replied, energetically. "Why, that would be the height of folly, young man. One of the main reasons for my interest in this affair is to see that you are undisturbed while under instructions for your commission. Now, run back to camp, and dismiss that idea from your head ; that's a good fellow. You are going to the pontoon drill at ten o'clock, and it is near that hour now." Harold had entirely forgotten the above-mentioned drill, and he now hurried back to camp fearful that he would be too late. Lieutenant Conrad walked leisurely up to his quarters, and, taking a seat overlooking the parade-ground, spent the following half-hour thinking about the almost incred ible villainy of his brother officer, Captain Orth. Presently he happened to notice a cadet running frantically across the parade toward the commandant's quar ters. Then the latter official came out, and, mounting his horse, dashed off in the direction of the river below Trophy Point. "Something has happened down there," murmured Carey. "I'll just walk down and see what's up." Shortly after leaving his room, he met an excited mes senger, and asked for the news. "There's been an accident down at the pontoon land ing, sir," replied the man. "And one of the cadets is drowned." "Who?" "I don't know, sir, but I think it is the one that saved . Cadet Orth yesterday at the-"

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180 The Accident at Pontoon Drill. He ceased speaking, for his auditor had turned swiftly and was now running toward the river's edge at the top of his speed. When Carey Conrad reached the elevation just above the pontoon house, he looked down upon a strange scene, and one that caused his heart to flutter with sudden dread.

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CHAPTER XXVIII. HAROLD EXPLAINS. For a proper understanding of the almost fatal accident which had happened to Harold, a short description of the drill known as "pontoon building" will be necessary. Besides being a very interesting ceremony, it also serves to show what a number of subjects form the edu cational category at the West Point Military Academy. A cadet is compelled to have a thorough knowledge of a great many widely different branches, and not only know infantry, artillery and cavalry drills, but be able to practice minor surgery, veterinary principles, and also to build a regular bridge when needed, and to throw a pontoon walk across streams in cases of emergency. It was the latter drill that called the class of cadets to which Harold belonged to the river front on the morning in question. A small inlet or bay, just in front of the battery, pointing toward Newburg, had been selected as the seat of operations, and the lads, working as members of the Engineer Corps, ordered to connect the two opposite points with a bridge capable of carrying a regiment of in fantry. The boats-oblong-shaped flat barges-were towed out and placed in line, then a score of nimble boys quickly swarmed over them, fastening the string-pieces in their proper places. On these were then laid short planks, bound to the gir ders with strong cords, and the work went rapidly on foot

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182 Harold Explains. by foot, until at last only a short space near the upper end remained to be finished. It was here Hughes was engaged. He had entered into the drill with the utmost zeal, and displayed great energy in mastering every detail. The officer in charge, noticing this, gave him plenty of opportunities, and sent the lad from place to place during the progress of the work. Suddenly noticing that one of the pontoon floats had shifted a trifle, he called out to Harold and ordered him to take a light skiff, and see if he could straighten it. "Row around on the outside, Hughes," he added, "and push the end over a little. Make haste, as it is delaying the others." Harold sprang into the light craft and rapidly sculled her to the spot. On reaching it, he bent over and endeavored to shove the float more to the right, but the action of the current rendered it difficult, and he leaned farther over to get a stronger purchase. At that moment the "wash" from a passing steamer came rippling in, and, before he could save himself, the skiff capsized, throwing him into the water. A cry of horror came from those on the bank, and sev eral cadets immediately stripped off their jackets and plunged in. As Harold had disappeared under the surface, the res cuers waited until he should again come into view, but the seconds passed rapidly by without his being seen. "He must have been stunned!" cried two or three, frantically waving their hands toward a spot on the water where several bubbles could be discerned. "Dive, some of you," directed the officer in charge. "Search the bottom thoroughly."

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Harold Explains. A cadet, well-known for his skill in swimming, in stantly obeyed, but when he reappeared a few seconds later a groan burst from the anxious watchers on shore. He was alone. "Cannot find him, sir,'' he sung out. Then, after a short breathing spell, he again vanished. Meanwhile the overturned skiff floated idly with the current, until at last it brought up against one of the pontoons unnoticed. It was at this time that the lieutenant in command dis patched a messenger to the commandant, which also re sulted in bringing Carey Conrad to the scene of the acci dent. When the latter reached the top of the bluff above the river, he saw below him a crowd of cadets thronging the edge of the water, closely watching several of their com rades swimming in the little bay as if in search of some thing. It was easy to see that an accident had happened. And he also saw that his young friend was not among them. A moment later, Carey was at the side of the commanding officer, listening to the sad details of the catas trophe. By this time the expert diver had gone to the bottom once more, again appearing empty handed. "It is no use," remarked the commandant, slowly shaking his head. "The poor lad is gone." Turning away, he ordered the lieutenant in charge to secure the skiff, and have the river dragged for the body. Then, taking Conrad's arm, they walked up to the top of th(' bluff. The two officers had hardly reached the upper battery, when a strange sound came to their ears, and they darted

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Harold Explains . back to the edge, the commandant in the lead , despite his age . wha t they had heard was a ringing cheer, a glad shout of joy, and it came from the cad e ts at the scene of the accid e nt. Vlh a t a transformation h a d take n place. Instead of the mournful, funeral-like attitudes of the watchers, they now danc e d around on the shore as if suddenly gone mad . But what instantly rivet e d the attention of the two of ficers on the bluff, causing them to rub their eyes in be wilderment, was the sight of Harold Hughes, alive and appare ntly uninjured, sitting on the edge of a boat near the stranded skiff. "Why, bless my soul!" exclaimed the good-natured commandant, completely dumfounded; "how on earthwhere did he come from, Conrad?" But the latter was gone before he had completed the question, and a moment later, Harold's stanch friend was at his side, holding the lad ' s hand, and making various inquiries in a voice suspiciously gruff. At last the lieutenant was given an explanation of the seeming mystery, and it was strange enough. In obedience to an order from the officer in charge, one of the cadets had rowed out to the skiff , and tried to righten it so that the frail craft could be towed to the little dock. At first it resist e d his efforts, and an investigation re vealed to the lad the astounding fact that some one was inside, or b e neath. He quickly caught hold of the edge , and, lifting it up, saw the missing cadet with one arm across the seat, in sensible. A shout brought others to his aid, and Harold was speedily carried ashore, reviving on the way.

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Harold Explains. "I am all right now, sir," Hughes replied, when asked by the officers how he f e lt. "My head is the least bit dizzy, but it will soon p a ss away . When the skiff upset, I went down only a short di s tance, and, on bobbing up again, must have struck und e r the capsized boat. I felt my head strike against som ething, and , just as I be came insensible, I made an involuntary grasp for some support. I suppose that was how I ran my arm under the seat." "By Jove! it seems miraculous," exclaimed the colonel, who had reached the spot by this time. "Although it is possible enough when you come to look at it. I remem ber, when a boy, of doing that same trick while swimming in the river near my home. We used to take a boat out in mid-str eam and capsizing it , then diving under, and hiding with our head above water inside the craft." "It was a common practice of hunters and trappers during the early days, in passing Indian encampments," said Conrad. One of the post surgeons came down, accompanied by a number of officers who had been attracted to the place by various rumors, but the former found little to do. He examined a slight citt on Harold's head , felt his pulse for a moment, and the n said that a couple of days' rest woul
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186 Harold Explains. "I'll try my best, Conrad, but it seems as if I was marked out to keep the academy in an uproar, don't it? However, for the next few months I intend studying day and night. He was as good as his word, and it was long after the summer camp had been vacated that he was brought prominently before the public at West Point again. Nothing of interest occurred worth recording until the annual examinations had been gone through with and were a thing of the past. Both Hughes and his chum, Kirby. passed well up in their class, and entered on their new terms with a greater fondness for the old academy than ever. Nothing new happened in the "Orth" affair, and neither the captain nor his son attempted to molest Hughes in any way. The detective still remained in Riverside, slowly but surely following up various clews, and ingratiating himself in old Ralph's good graces, but as yet he had not been able to bring matters to a climax.

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CHAPTER XXIX. KIRBY WRITES A LETTER. One morning, about two months after Harold's second tour of camp life, he strolled into Kirby's room, and found that gay lad hard at work penning a voluminous letter to some one. Chambers held up a hand much besmeared with ink, and greeted him with a hearty welcome. "You're just in time, old boy," he exclaimed, his mis chievous face beaming with delight. "I am having no end of fun out of this epistle." "Who are you writing all that to?" asked Hughes, viewing the pile of sheets with surprise. He knew that Kirby was not noted as a correspondent, and seldom devoted so much time and labor to his friends and relatives. "Oh, there's a young duck in my town who is just dying to join the academy, and he writes to ask me what kind of a life we lead here," chuckled Chambers. "I am obeying his polite request, and incidentally piling on the agony. He has a number of friends also interested, and he writes that he will read my reply at the meeting of their club. Ha, ha! just listen to this." Picking up one of the sheets, Kirby read the following in a voice choked with laughter: "You must ,excuse my bad penmanship, my dear Horace, as I am just recovering from a bad case of broken arm, received while trying to curry a horse-ma rine. You ask for information concerning the life of a

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188 Kirby Writes a Letter. cadet, with the view of joining the school. Well, I hardly know what to say. From my recollection of you, I really do not think you would prove strong enough to stand the preliminary torture dance. It is--" "What's that!" interrupted Harold, suddenly. "Tor, ture dance? Why, you young rascal! what are you giving those boys?" "Just a little taffy, that's all," replied Chambers, eyeing his friend's face askance. • I "I should thmk you would be ashamed of yourself," exclaimed Hughes, severely. "Why don't you tell them the truth, instead of writing a lot of lies like that? What if some one had written to you in such a strain before you entered the academy, eh? You would have 'kicked' like a mule, I'll wager. Now, tear those things up, and send him some correct information. There are lots of boys that are anxious to get an idea as to our life here, and they should be truthfully informed. I know I would have given a good deal for information giving inside facts." Kirby looked rather shame-faced for a moment, and then replied : "All right, old boy; we ' ll send Horace a decent letter, but just listen to some more of this." . "Not a word, you dog!" retorted Harold, grimly. "Tear it up, or I'll not help you." Still chuckling over his composition, Chambers obeyed, and reluctantly threw the sheets into his waste-basket. Getting some fresh sheets, he then commenced a new letter and wrote while Hughes dictated the following: "To give you a fair idea of our life here, my dear Horace, I'U just state the routine of one day's existence at the summer camp. At the sound of the bugle at five o'clock r eve ille we leave our blankets and aswer tq 94r names

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Kirby Writes a Letter. 189 during roll-call. After that the tents and grounds are 'policed'-that is, swept, while the bedding must be piled in regulation style in one corner. This generally requires fifteen minutes, and then a cadet officer comes along and inspects. He is supposed to see that all the quarters are properly. cleaned, and he invariably makes a report if he finds them not up to the standard. He cannot show fa voritism, as he is compelled to take an oath that he will do his duty in that respect." "Are you going to give every detail?" dolefully asked Kirby, chewing the end of the pen impatiently. Harold grinned, and bade him continue. The lad heaved a deep sigh, but he wrote on at his chum's dictation: "After inspection comes forty minutes' drill, and when you consider that it is on an empty stomach, you can be lieve that breakfast finds us ready to eat even cast-iron nails, instead of the really good. food served at the academy mess-hall. "A half-hour is allowed at meals, and that brings the ti!!le up to seven o'clock, when setting-up drill for 'plebs,' with several of the upper classmen as instructors, is gone through with. There is troop parade at eight, followed by guard mount at nine, and artillery drill at ten. "It is well to say that light artillery practice is not all play, and scampering about on a hot, dusty plain leaves you as black as a negro coal-heaver. Plenty of time is allowed for cleaning one's self, however, and when the • hour arrives for attending dancing-school-we also learn to dance here, my friend, and to waltz well, too--we are in good trim for a spin with the dancing master." "Better tell him there are no girls here to waltz with," chuckled Kirby, "and that we make pretty hard work of it, instead of sport."

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190 Kirby Writes a Letter. "All right; put that in," replied Harold, with a smile. Then Chambers continued : "After dinner you are supposed to do a little cleaning up, such as brightening your rifle and kit. Then comes infantry drill by companies or battalion for an hotir and a 1 half. This over with, you change clothes and get ready for dress parade, which occurs at sunset. "That generally ends the day, and from that on to tattoo the time is yours to either take long strolfs around the romantic grounds, or at whatever sport you care to devote yourself. "The discipline is very strict, dear Horace, and both smoking and drinking are firmly tabooed, and rightly, too. The academy occupi e s a great deal of territory, and the cadets are allowed to roam at will, but they must stay within the walls, or run the chances of instant dismissal. "There are three kinds of uniforms worn here. The gray dress coat with its fifty bell buttons; the shell packet, which is simply a gray blouse, and the white jacket worn on specia1 order in hot weather. White trousers are worn in summer, and gray ones in winter. "And now a word about hazing, my dear friend. It is not allowed at the academy, so if you should ever come here as a cadet, don't enter into it-and get caught. If a lot of the upper classmen should happen to come to your room during your first year and ask you to do various unexpected things, such as blacking their shoes , or eating half a bar of toilet soap, don't object or tell the col, onel, but just finish the unpleasant task and smile like a country boy at a circus. Then you will get along all right, and practice the same tricks on some other fel low in future years." "Now, say good-by and sign your name," concluded Harold, highly pleased at his efforts.

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Kirby Writes a Letter. Just as Kirby finished executing his signature with an elaborate flourish, George West came rushing in out of breath. "Come down below, you fellows! We are going to have a grand battle with snow-balls, and the colonel has promised a set of colors to the side showing the best tac tics. I think the boys in the third and fourth classes want you for a l e ader , Harold." The announcem ent was enough to set both Hughes and Chambers wild with excitement. Ever since the first snow had visited the academy that wint e r the cadets had been talking about matching the two upper classes against the lower ones in a military campaign with snow-balls as ammunition, instead of actual shells. The head of the school had fostered the idea, as in his opinion it would not only prove a source of much amuse m ent to the boys, but at the same time would furnish valuable practice in tactics and battalion formations. On being questioned, he had given his consent for the cadets to fight their mimic battle on the parade-ground and surrounding places , under condition that they would not make it a rough-and-tumble affair, but one of strategy and military maneuvers. For more than a week the entire post had been on the qiti vive awaitin" a sufficient fall of snow, and at last the day had arrived.

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CHAPTER XXX. THE CAMPAIGN OPENS. Hughes and his chum lost no time in reaching the parade-ground in front of the dormitory. There they found a large crowd of cadets, eagerly talking about the approaching event. Harold was received by a loud cheer from a group of the "plebs," and he was immediately surrounded by vari ous excited boys, all asking at once if he was going to command one of the armies. "I have been speaking to a number of the fellows, and they're anxious to have you take charge of us," whispered West. Harold's face flusheo proudly at the implied compli ment, and well he might, for it was an honor to oe thus selected from among almost two hundred others. He deserved it, however, as his manly bearing while at the academy, and his close attention to the studies, had made him not only popular, but well thought of by his superiors. "Now, don't refuse, old boy," exclaimed Kirby, almost as highly delighted as if it had been he instead of his friend . As if to add to the pressure they had brought to bear, came a shout from the various groups of cadets forming the lower classes : "Hugh es ! Hugh es ! General Hugh es !" "Do you hear that?" asked Chambers, with a grin. "Better say you'll lead us to glory, my brave commander."

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The Campaign Opens. 193 Just then several visitors from the hotel came along, and Harold saw among them the young lady Kirby and he had rescued from the foot-pads on that never-to-be forgotten night a couple of years previous. He had met her at the "hops" given at the hotel on various occasions, and had conversed with her father as well as herself. She had often told him that she fully be lieved he was that ragged boy who had appeared at the side of the carriage, and all of his denials went unheeded . Whether it was the sight of her, or for some other rea son, is not known, but the young cadet at last consented to lead the forces on one side, and immediately com menced preparations for the campaign. He selected Kirby and West as aides, and ordered them to form the battalion in front of the dormitory at once. By the time the different companies had been picked out and officered, a message came from the colonel commanding the post, asking that those cadets selected to control the two divisions report to him without delay. Harold and a first classman named Browne accord ingly hastened to the commandant's office, and were re ceived by him with a fri en dly smile. "So you have been selected to lead the opposing armies to victory or defeat, eh?" he said. "Well, I think the ca dets have made a wise choice on both sides. Now, Gen erals Browne and Hughes, I want it distinctly understood that this is going to be a campaign of military prac .. tice , and not rowdyism. The first signs of ill-temper I see on the part of either army, I will immediately have the retreat sounded, and, furthermore, punish the transgressors." Both Harold and his companions bowed respectfully. They knew the old warrior meant what he said. "I have concluded to let the two lower classes con ..

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194 The Campaign Opens. struct a snow fort anywhere on the parade ground they may select, and defend it against the attacks of the other classes. Eeach side must use the bugle in transmitting orders, and perform every evolution in strict accordance with military tactics as taught at this academy. "Lieutenants Conrad and Mason will be the judges for the upper classes, and Captain Orth, and the adjutant of the post for the opposing side. I will be the arbitrator. I have made a set of colors for the victorious side, and will also publicly decorate the general showing the greatest knowledge of tactics. "That side holding possession of the fort at noon will be declared the victors. It is now nine o'clock. so you will have ample time to prepare your plans of campaign. On the way back to their commands, Browne took oc casion to assure Harold good-naturedly that he intended to capture the fort early in the fight and everlastingly "lick" the opposing force out of their boots. Hughes politely thanked him for the interesting infor mation, and replied that he was sorry to doubt liis word, but that subsequent events would prove to the contrary. After this exchange of pleasantries, they separated and proceeded to organize their battalions on a war footing. In a short speech, Harold made known the tenor of the colonel's remarks and finished by saying: "If it comes to pass that we are on the wrong side of the fort at the noon hour, comrades, we had b etter all resign, as we will never hear the last of it. When the bat-' tle rages, and the tyrant's arms are upheld to strike, remember the indignities we have suffered at their hands, and wipe them off the earth. Let our watchword be: 'Hazing for hazers,' and repay them for all their past sport at our expense."

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The Campaign Opens. 195 The diplomatic lad could not have said anything more calculated to arouse the enthusiasm of his men, nor to urge them to greater efforts. The memory of many a humiliating night came to them, and they resolved then and there to "get square" be fore the day was over. After giving their young commander a hearty cheer, they formed into companies under the direction of the dif ferent captains, and marched out to the center of the pa rade. Harold, accompanied by his aides, had preceded them for the purpose of selecting a favorable site for the forti fication. "I think we couldn't find a better one than on the very edge of 'Gallus Hollow,' " recommended Kirby, pointing over to where the natural ravine was situated. Hughes instantly agreed with him, and ordered the companies to begin the fort at once. The spot picked out was an admirable one. On three sides was the level plain, and forming the back was the deep depression previously mentioned. "That only leaves us three fronts to protect," said West, approvingly. "If the enemy tries to attack on the other side, they will have to climb the steep slope, and that is just what they won't care to do." In the course of a half-hour the crowd of cadets had constructed a very respectable fort. It was laid out on strict military lines, with sloping bastions, embrasures and a central tower of observation. To offer plenty of fighting room, Harold had ordered it made about forty feet square, and even then the hundred and twenty boys stood elbow to elbow along the ramparts. While the majority were engaged in the work of

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196 The Campaign Opens. struction, a number of lads forming the ordnance depart ment, manufactured huge piles of snow-balls. Among those in Hughes' army were two whom he had early resolved to watch. They were Ralph Orth and Dick Barrett. Despite his expectations, they had joined the forces oi defense, and were now hard at work assisting in the con struction. Calling Kirby over to him, Harold whispered: "Keep your eye on those two fellows, old boy ; I think their extreme willingness looks suspicious. If you see any sign of treachery, let me know at once, and I'll hold a drum-head court-martial so quick it'll make their heads swim." Chambers grinned with pleasurable anticipation, and hurried away to establish a supervision over the suspect e d lads. In the meantime G e neral Browne's command had formed and disappeared down a road leading toward Old Cro' Nest. A large crowd of officers and visitors from the hotel had also gathered at the different points of vant age, and the time for action was near at hand. A temporary flag-staff had been raised in the center of the fort, from the top of which sudenly fluttered an American banner bearing in the center the letters: "H.F. H." At the same time the bugle corps of the defending force boomed forth the familiar "colors." A resounding cheer coining from the gayly-attired party of citizens on the hotel veranda, indicated that their sympathy was with the boys within the fortification. When everything was in readiness, Harold sent a messenger to the colonel to that effect, and a gun was fired from the saluting battery to notify the hidden army.

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The Campaign Opens. 197 A line of scouts had been stationed on each edge of the parade-ground, with instructions to give instant notice of the enemy ' s approach. Hughes also dispatched a large force of skirmishers toward the point he judged the attack would be made from. Suddenly one of the outlying sentries came dashing across the plain, or parade, and, excitedly and breathless, hurriedly whispered something to the general in command.

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CHAPTER XXXI. THE FLAG OF TRUCE. On receiving the communication from the excited sen try, Harold immediately turned to his aid, Kirby Cham bers, and ordered him to take a detachment of fifty men and prepare to storm a masked battery he had reason to believe would be established on the practice fort very shortly. This redoubt, of which mention has been made in pre vious chapters, was situated about a hundred yards from the snow fort. It was more elevated, and commanded a certain portion of the latter place. "Go, at once, sir," added Harold, "and clear them away before they can establish a permanent post. If neces sary, leave a small force to hold the spot." The young commander had secured an excellent pair of field-glasses, which he now used to minutely inspect every part of the parade. A slight commotion in the direction of Trophy Park attracted his attention, and he instantly saw something was wrong over there. A second glance showed that a . tight was actually in progress. He could see a crowd of boys pour out into the open space and fall upon his outpost, tooth and nail (as later histories chronicled it), and then the combatants surged J out of sight down a declivity. As it was not to his purpose to fight the enemy in the open, Harold ordered a messenger to recall the cadets of his division.

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The Flag of Truce. 199 Adjutant George West came up at that moment and asked permission to make a personal sortie with one of the companies toward the eastern edge of the parade. "It is my belief that General Browne has divided his forces and sent half of the m through the West Shore tunnel to attack us from the bluff beyond the site of the summer camp," he added. "There is no doubt but what it would be a good idea, George," replied Hughes; "but I hardly think we should weaken the garrison to that extent. You see, Chambers has a number of the boys with him over at the practice fort-and, by the way, I see he is fighting now. Ah! that's the style!" His exclamation of approval was called forth by seeing Kirby lead his men up the slope of the earthworks with a resounding cheer. The sound had hardly died away when an echoing cheer came from three separate directions, and the enemy was seen approaching in force. They were in different divisions, about equally divided as to numbers, and came dashing across the snowy plain in gallant style. Their youthful general handled them in magnificent style, wheeling his companies into line on reaching a certain distance from the out e r circle o ' f redoubts, and then sending a perfect hail of snow-balls into the ranks of the defenders. "Don' t waste your ammunition, lads," called out Harold, from his post on the counter rampart. "Remember that our supply is limited, while they have the whole parade to draw from." In obedience to his order, the force inside the fort kept quiet and allowed the attacking party to fire away without repaying in kind.

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200 The Flag of Truce. Meanwhile Kirby had captured the battery on the left, and was now returning on the doublequick by way of "Gallow!5 Hollow ." He had left a small party in charge, with instructions to hold it at all hazards . Just as Chambers ' force r e ach ed the edge of the ravine, Hughes noticed a large body of cadets suddenly deploy from the right flank of the enemy, and run toward them as if for the purpose of cutting off their retreat. "By Jove I If Kirby is captured, I'll lose a quarter of my troops," muttered the young commander. "This will never do." Turning to West, he ordered him to leave the fort by the eastern ramparts, and go to Chambers' assistance. "Send one of your fleetest runners to tell him not to descend into the Hollow, whatever he does," added Harold, impressively. "If they get him down there he is gone sure !" Hastily gathering together about thirty strong lads, West climbed over the ramparts and darted straight out into the parade-ground. He was none too soon. The force dispatched by Browne had already reached a point almost opposite the fort, and only a few hundred yards separated them from Kirby's little band. Seeing the reinforcements sent to his aid, the latter drew up the cadets in the form of a hollow square, and awaited the attack. For a moment the situation resolved itself into a race between two companies. Whichever reached the spot occupied by Kirby first would hold the advantage. Suddenly Harold noticed a movement in the ranks of the main body opposite his stronghold , and then another squad was detached and sent after the first. "Does Browne mean to hinge the fight over there?"

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The Flag of Truce. 201 Hughes asked himself, grimly. "It looks very much like it, but I'll fool him." Turning quickly to beneath him, he ordered them to send a volley at the enemy. "Give it to them hot and heavy I Take careful aim and make every ball tell." Calling one of his captains, he then told him to take temporary charge of the fort, and keep the shots flying. Stepping down out of sight, Harold made up a com pany of a dozen stalwart cadets, and, breaking away part of the rampart facing the Hollow, crept through it with his band of rescuers . They descended the slope of the ravine several yards and then skirted along: until the other side was reached. Peeping up on the parade, Hughes saw the foremost squad within a short distance of Kirby's command, and slightly ahead of West. First seeing that his men were armed with snow-balls, he gave the word, and then sprang out in front of the enemy with a rousing cheer. Taken completely by surprise, they halted, and turned to face the new danger. The pause proved fatal. Instantly seeing his advantage, George brought his men up at a run, and fell upon their flank, immediately fol lowed by Chambers. Hemmed in on all sides, the squad broke, and, fighting desperately, managed to escape in different directions, vanishing just as their reinforcements appeared around the edge of the fort. "Don't stop to follow!" cried Hughes, sternly. "Retreat while you have chance . Go back the way we came." Just as the combined companies reached the breach in the ramparts, made by Harold, fully one-half of the enemy

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202 The Flag of Truce. came into view. The latter sent a shower of snow-balls at them, but without effect. "Now, Kirby, repair that hole as quickly as you can, and then take command of the western redoubt," cried the y oung commander, after they had safely reached the in side. "West, you had better give the ordnance cadets a shaking up and replenish our ammunition." The last order was certainly required, as only a small quantity of the novel "shrapnel and shell" r e mained. During the general's absence, the captain left in charge had literally obeyed orders and kept the snowy missiles flying. Again mounting his post of observation, Hughes saw that Browne had collected his forces in front of the fort once more, and from all appearances was holding a coun cil of war with the chiefs in command. Looking through the powerful fie ld-glass, he observed one of the latter hand the youthful general a paper, which Browne read with every manifestation of extreme surprise. "What on earth is that, I wonder?" muttered Harold, curiously. "It can't be that some of the officers have been giving him tips!" He was soon to know. While he was watching, one of Browne's officers left the group and came toward the fort, bearing a white piece of bunting. It was a flag of truce, and Hughes immediately respect ed it by ordering his men to reserve their fire until he gave a contrary command.

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CHAPTER XXXII. THE FORT IS CAPTURED. On arriving within speaking distance, the envoy held up a piece of paper and called out: "Here is a letter General Browne wishes you to read. It has just arrived from your camp, and is the work of some traitor." "Traitor!" echoed Harold, glancing sternly around him at the cluster of lads behind the ramparts. "Ah, ha! we have even that peculiar animal in our sham war, have we? Well, I think I know how to settle with him!" His gaze involuntarily wandered to where Ralph Orth and his unsavory chum, Dick Barrett, were standing. It might have been the reflection of the snow, but it seemed to him that their faces were very pale. Whispering to Chambers, who stood just below, he ordered him to stroll over near where they were and seize them if he gave a certain signal. Then, unfolding the paper, he read as follows: "If you wish to capture this fort without any trouble, make a sham attack on the southern and eastern sides, and then throw your main force against the side facing the artillery quarters. It is weak and but poorly de fended." It was printed with a pencil, rather than written, and bore no signature. Holding the document so that every one could see it, Hughes called out, in a clear, ringing v01ce: "Soldiers, we have a traitor in our midst, and he has

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204 The Fort is Captured. tried to give information to the enemy. It is only through the generosity of General Browne that we have escaped a serious danger. Instead of profiting by the despicable action of one of our number, he has sent the letter to me. The paper is in a disguised hand, and is unsigned, but I have a pretty good idea who the culprit is, and, before this affair is over, I hope to be able to unmask him. Now, in return for the enemy ' s gallant conduct, give them three cheers." That they were given with a will goes without saying. The huzzas rang over the parade-ground with a heartiness that even startled the feathered denizens of far-distant "Cro' Nest," and caused the interested spectators at the hotel to wonder if victory had been declared. "Tell General Browne that we are greatly obliged to him," Harold called out to the young envoy, as he started to return. "And if it should come in my power, I'll repay him." "Now, we will resume the fight on the same old line," added General Hughes. "Forewarned is forearmed, my dear Kirby, so you had better take a number of our brave privates and strengthen that suspected rampart. Hold on! By the way, who had charge of the division constructing that side?" "Ralph Orth," replied Chambers, significantly. "Ah! I thought so. Well, just place the gentleman under arrest, and we'll attend to his case later on." But when Kirby attempted to obey orders, the lad demurred and tried to escape. The movement was speed ily frustrated, however, and if it had not been for Harold's interference, the enraged cadets would have given him a sound thrashing. The young commander was so occupied in quelling the internal disturbance that he failed to notice a sudden at-

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The Fort is Captured. 205 tack made by the enemy, and when he at last turned to glance in that direction he saw them only a hundred feet distant. It was plain they had shrewdly stolen a march on him, and Hughes instantly realized that it would now require the hardest kind of fighting to retain the fort. "Stand by to repel a charge!" he shouted. "Marksmen, ready! Fire! That's it; give it to them. Another volley like that, and they'll retreat. Reserves to the front. Double-quick, there!" Picking up a handful of snow-balls, Harold let one fly directly at a youthful captain leading the right flank, and had the extreme satisfaction of seeing the missile strike him between the eyes, effectually blinding the lad for a moment. He hesitated slightly, and those just behind him tumbled over each other in trying to avoid the obstacle he thus unexpectedly presented. Browne's martial voice was heard cheering his forces on, and it must be acknowledged that he did not confine himself to words, but headed the central column with great bravery. Before the enemy had reached the outer circle of re doubts, they were seen to waver under the terrible shower of snow-balls Hughes' cadets were pouring into their ranks. The air seemed full of the white spheroids. They ap peared to come from a never-ending source, and each and every one managed to strike some spot in the compact mass of lads approaching the fort. In this Harold' s side had a decided advantage, as they were able to throw their ammunition while standing still, thus obtaining an aim impossible to the running forces of the enemy.

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206 The Fort 1s Captured. Seeing this, Browne ordered his bugler to sound the "halt," and then bade those nearest him to retain their plac e s and keep the other side busy dodging. The distance s eparating the two armi e s was now so short that Harold could hear their c o mmands without trouble. Suddenly General Browne called out: "First and second companies, right wheel , ):Ilarch ! Third and fourth, left wheel, march! Reserves to the front, double time !" In obedience to the command the line stre tched out in front of the fort broke into two divisions, directly in the middle, one toward the eastern edge of the parade, and the other going in the oppo s it e dir e ction. The wheel was made in doubl e time also , and in the twinkling of an e y e General Brow ne ' s command was split up in three fragments. "It looks as if he intends to attack us on every side at the same time," mused Harold, closely watching the manceuvres. As if to prove his words , both wings broke up into columns of fours and came charging cfown on each flank of the fort. At the same time the reserv e s marched ahead at double time and fille d the v a cancy l e ft in front. "Ah! That's their game , is it?" cri e d Hughes. "Well, we'll be amply pre pared to meet the m." Fully believing they meant to attack as indicated, Harold ordered his force divid e d into three se cti o ns, and prepared to guard the threate n e d ramparts. Alas ! he made a sad and fatal mi s take. Just b e fore the two c o lumns turne d the corners of the fortification, a bugl e call sound e d l oud and s hrill, and in much less time than it take s to d e scrib e it, th e y wheeled again and joine d the res e rves in the attack on the front. The result of the manceu v re i s plain. By making the

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The Fort ts Captured. feint they caused Hughes to weaken that part, thereby lessening the resistance. Our hero saw the movement a trifle too late to rally his forces, and the enemy swarmed up the ramparts like flies, carrying everything before them. It is not to be supposed that Harold gave up without a desperate struggle. Far from it. He darted here and there, calling upon his companions to throw the intruders out, and, ably backed by Kirby and West, succeeded in making a stand near the flag staff. The jour judges , together with the colonel, jumped upon the rear wall of the fort and almost shouted in their intense int e rest. At last, beset by an overwhelming number, Harold saw cadet after cadet of his command overpowered by the victorious enemy, and at last he , too, gave in, torn away from the flag halliards by main force. , Down came the fallen pennant, and amid the cheers of the spectators the fort was declared taken. However, it was only eleven o'clock, and a chance still remained t o the vanquished lads to retrieve their reverses. By mutual cons e nt, ten minutes were allowed in which to prepare for the second struggle.

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CHAPTER XXXIII. VICTORY. Amid shouts and merry banter Harold led his cadets from the captured fort, and drew them up in battalion formation some distance away. He thought a little speech was necessary, and accord ingly said: "We have certainly been fairly beaten, comrades; but that is no sign the day is lost altogether. Now, before we go any further, I wish to offer my resignation, so that you can choose another commander if you so desire. What do you say?" "No, no! We want you!" came the a.nswer from all sides. It was plain they did not blame him for the defeat. Evidently pleased at their spontaneous reply, Hughes proceeded to call a council of war. He, with Kirby, West, and two other lads, withdrew a short distance and prepared a plan of campaign. "We must branch out from the regular tactics, or those fellows will meet us at every point," began Harold, nerv ously pacing back and forth. "I agree with you there," replied West, emphatically. "They are now inside and actively alert. And another thing-we haven't much time left." Looking at his watch, he stated that it was now a quarter after eleven. "In just forty-five minutes the colonel will decide the contest, so it behooves us to rush things." "That was a bang-up move of Harry Browne's," re-

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Victory. marked Kirby, admiringly. "He certainly deserves credit." "I say, fellows, what's the matter with introducing artillery?" suddenly called out Hughes, his . face kindling with enthusiasm. "Artillery?" echoed his companions in amazement. "Why, what on earth do you mean?" Instead of replying, our hero bade one of his aids bring a company of cadets to the old practice fort without delay. "I have a scheme which will make them open their eyes," he added to Chambers. "I won't explain it yet, but just wait for a little while, and you'll say it's bound to win. Now, I want you to take command of the three remaining companies and make several attacks on the fort, just to keep them interested . Don't let them send any spi e s, as they will probably try to do when they see I am missing. Just possess your soul in patience, and the noon hour will surely see us the victors." _ With that Harold hurried away and disappeared inside the old fort, accompanied by a detachment of his men. In the meantime, Browne had strengthened the ramparts, replenished the diminishing supply of ammunition, and generally prepared things to meet the expected attack. In obedience to orders, Chambers brought the remainder of the battalion closer to the fort, and began a series of skirmishing manceuvres against the enemy. He sent one company to a spot between the Hollow and where Harold had vanished, with strict instructions to not permit a living soul pass in that direction. Then, with the other division, he kept up a steady fire of snow-balls against the new defenders of the fort. Thus the minutes passed, until at last Chambers began

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210 Victory. to grow uneasy. It was high time the commanding offi cer should appear, if he intended to make an attempt at recapture. The lads inside commenced to taunt their foes with their inaction, and dared them to charge within reaching distance. To make matters worse, a number of Browne's army began an old college song, with a refrain in it about the "boy that wanted to, but didn't dare." "I tell you, if Harold don't appear soon, I am going to storm those sophomores and make them shut up !" exclaimed Kirby, wrathfully. "It's a shame that--" "There he is now," interrupted West, pointing toward the old sally-port. "But what in the deuce is he going to do with those things?" It was no wonder George asked the above question with such strong amazement. The sight presented to his astonished eyes was sufficient to cause the emotion. Coming from the interior of the old fort, at double time, was Harold, at the head of a crowd of cadets, the latter dragging a dozen gun-carriages. On some of these could be seen a peculiar contrivance, the like of which had never been encountered in all the years of the academy, while on others were piles of huge snow-balls, apparently frozen solid. Kirby's forces, the enemy, and the numerous spectators at the hotel, gazed at the peculiar objects with unabated surprise, but Hughes coolly crossed the parade-ground, and, wheeling his battery into line, facing the snow fort, prepared for action. It was then the curious cadets saw what he had hurriedly created, and their cheers rang out again and again. On seven of the gun-carriages Hughes had placed a peculiarly-shaped weapon somewhat similar to the cata pults used in the early centuries. The bows were con-

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Victory. 2II structed of strong hickory withes bound together, and broad pieces of leather formed the "cord." To guide the aim, a "guttered" board had been placed over the bow, notched at one end to retain the tension when the instrument was ready for action. While Chambers and West were minutely examining the novel w e apons, Harold had "loaded" them with the monster snow-balls. These latter were fully the size of a boy's head, but not quite so hard as they first appeared . "I didn't want to make them too tough," remarked the young inventor, with a chuckle, "as it might do more damage than we care for. However, they'll land with sufficient force to make those fellows wish they were home, I'll wager." Attracted by the novel sight, both sides had ceased activities. The nearest rampart of the snow fort was lined with boys, eagerly looking in Harold's directiona fact the shrewd lad instantly took advantage of. Running from one to the other of the "catapults," he saw that all were ready, and then gave the word to fire. At the stern command, seven bows "twanged," and seven gigantic snow-balls went hurtling through the air, landing with a thud in the crowd of cadets, who were too amazed to dodge. The result was both emphatic and comical. Struck by the queer missiles, a score of the enemy tumbled from the rampart and fell in a confused heap on the soft snow inside. The balance speedily followed them, and in a second not one of General Browne's force could be seen. Then such a cheer rang out from the spectators that people across the river thought the whole post had gone raving mad. The crowd of citizens and officers on the hotel balcony

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212 Victory. laughed and shouted and laughed again, but Harold calmly ordered the weapons reloaded, and took little notice of the demonstration. "Mass your men close to the eastern corner," he sang out to Kirby and West. "Then, when I fire the second shot, make a combined attack." "And you?" asked Chambers. "Oh, I'll be with you at the capture. Now, on with you! Don't spare them, but take the fort at once." His aids quickly obeyed, and collected their troops where he had designated. Then, when all was in readi ness, Harold let drive another volley, with the same re sult. The huge spheroids literally swept the ramparts of every living soul, and the infantry had no trouble in mounting the outer works. Hughes joined his army at that moment, and, after a few minutes' sharp fighting, he succeeded in hauling down the enemy's colors. Just as the vanquished flag touched the ground, twelve strokes sounded from the academy bell. "You were just in time, old boy," exclaimed Lieutenant Carey Conrad, coming up to compliment him. "But the victory is yours, and if ever a lad deserved it you do for that most wonderful invention." At that moment an orderly approached and handed the young officer a telegram. Excusing himself, he hastily read it, and then turned to Harold with an exclamation of great excitement.

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CHAPTER XXXIV. THE SUMMONS. Harold noticed the lieutenant's agitation with some surprise, but a moment later he felt equally excited. "Just read that, Hughes," requested Carey, handing his companion the telegram. "We are nearing the end at last. I thought my detective friend would finally suc ceed in obtaining the facts in the case." Taking the piece of yellow paper, Harold read as fol lows: "Come at once, and bring the boy. R. 0. has prom ised restitution, and begs for mercy. I have him com pletely in my power, and can hold him if his brother don't interfere. If he manages to send for the captain, all will be lost for the present. Do not waste a moment, but en deavor to reach here by first train. Come direct to house, and bring local lawyer with you." For one brief moment the lad hesitated; a picture of the sad-faced mother in the poor little cottage in that far Western home-almost in dire poverty, while others enjoyed her rights-came to his mind, then, with clenched teeth, he turned to his faithful friend. "Let us hasten, Carey," he said, simply, but his voice sounded strange and hoarse. "Even now, old Ralph may have succeeded in sending the captain a message." "You are right, Harold," replied Conrad , gravely. "It will take us some little time to get permission to leave the academy. I'll have to explain matters to the superin tendent very strongly to obtain leave for you."

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214 The Summons. At that moment a messenger from the commandant ap proached them and stated that Hughes was wanted im m e diately. "It is the presentation of colors, sir," added the orderly. Seeing the cadet hesitate, Carey whispered: "Go ahead and attend the ceremony, as if nothing has happened, and in the meantime I'll get everything ready. If all goes well, we should leave here by the four o ' clock train this afternoon . " Controlling himself by a great effort, Harold resumed charge of the victorious army, and marched it to a place immediately in front of" the colonel's quarters. Browne had preceded him, so the entire battalion was assembled in line at parade rest when the old, white haired warrior came out of his office, accompanied by a brilliant array of ladies and gayly uniformed officers of the post. One of the latter bore a couple of fine silken flags, one being the American ensign , and the other a blue pennant, bearing in golden letters the inscription, "Victory!" Taking these, the colonel stepped forward, and bade General Hughes appear before him. Harold left his station in front of the line and advanced with a firm military tread, saluting as he halted a few feet from his superior officer. After making a short but highly effective speech, lauding the young commandant's knowledge of military tac tics, the old soldier added: "You have demonstrated by a certain act of yours to day, Cadet Hughes, one of the greatest secrets of success in an officer. Books on tactics have been writte n by the thousands, and volumes on that subject will continue to be written until the end of time, I suppose; but no man.

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The Summons. 215 can be a successful commander if he relies upon them and never exercises his inventive genius in cases of emergency. Your act in abandoning cut and dried tactics and bringing a new power into play is one of the greatest lessons o f to-day, and I hereby present you with this decoration of merit." As he spoke, the old warrior pinned a neat medal to the embarrassed cadet's breast, amid the cheers of the entire assemblage. After complimenting the leader of the vanquished army, the colonel ordered the battalion dismissed. While walking back to the dormitory with Kirby, Hughes noticed the mail orderly approach Captain Orth and hand him something. The distance was too great for him to recognize the object, but a recollection of the detective's warning that the old miser might find an opportunity to send for his brother caused our hero to slacken his pace and watch the officer. He was amply repaid for his trouble. Captain Orth received the missive in a careless man ner, but immediately on reading the contents he showed every indication of the greatest excitement, and instantly started for the colonel's office at a rapid walk. "I'll wager my life that is a message from Riverside," muttered Harold. "Now, where can I find Conrad?" Turning to his chum, he excused himself, and then hurried over to the lieutenant's quarters. The room was empty. "Perhaps he is still with the superintendent," concluded the iad, turning in the direction of headquarters. Just as he reached the door leading to the office, Carey darted out, almost running over him. " You are the very fellow I am looking for," exclaimed the lieutenant, hastily. "Go and pack your things; we

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216 The Summons. can leave at four. I have secured permission for a ten days' furlough. Now get ready and meet me in front of my quarters as soon as possible. But first, get your dinner." "Do you know that the captain has received some word from the West?" asked Hughes, significantly. "Yes; he's in there now, asking for leave of absence. That is why I am so anxious to get away. Oh! if we could only find some faster train, or be able to depart at once!" "Have you looked at a time card?" "Not yet; but I don't think there is anything leaving the city before four o'clock. However, it won't do any harm to make sure. Just wait a moment, and I'll read the one in the office." While Harold was waiting fot: his friend, Captain Orth hurried out, and started at a rapid walk for his house. He gave the lad a vindictive glance as he passed, and muttered something between his set teeth, but the words were indistinguishable. Hughes laughed grimly at the action. "You can save your red fire until the last scene, my bold captain," he said to himself. Just then Conrad appeared in the doorway, and, with traces of excitement in his manner, exclaimed : "Run and get your satchel, old boy. Make haste now, as I think we can catch a train on the New York Central that will put us in Riverside by its connections at least an hour befor e the oth e r roads . The captain knows of it, also, and we are liable to have him as a f e llow passen ger. Oh! if I only knew of some way to detain him!" While Harold was getting his luggage in order, he pondered over his fri e nd's last words, and tried to con-

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The Summons. / 217 jure up some plan to prevent Orth from leaving on their train. But he could think of nothing, so, after bidding his friends good-by, he joined Carey in front of his quarters. A stage conveyed them down to the ferry landing, where they found the captain already waiting. The latter favored them with a scowl, and then with drew to a secluded part of the boat, from which he did not emerge until they had reached the opposite shore. "I guess this will be a tight race to the very door of that old skinflint's house,'' whispered Conrad, while they were boarding the train. "I confess I cannot think of any scheme to detain that scoundrel." "As it wouldn't do to use bodily force, I suppose we'll have to trust to luck in getting the fastest horse in River side," replied Hughes, thoughtfully. "If we should manage to reach old Orth's residence first, we had better bar ricade the house, as the captain won't let anything stop him."

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CHAPTER XXXV. A STARTLING INTERRUPTION. "Well, if we once get inside before him, I'll wager he will have a hard time seeing his brother," replied Carey, grimly. "From the tone of the detective's telegram, I think he has old Orth frightened almost into a confess). on, but, as he says, the captain may stop it all." "There is one thing I have just thought of," remarked Harold, suddenly, lowering his voice. "Before reaching the station in Riverside, the train runs through one of the outlying streets, and passes within several blocks of Orth's place. It is compelled to move slowly, so why wouldn't it be a good idea to jump off, and beat the cap tain in that manner?" "Just the thing," instantly replied Carey. "We'll surely try it." During the remainder of the trip, they kept a close watch over Orth. He sent divers telegrams from towns along the road, but that did not bother the lieutenant, as he knew his detective would prevent the messages reaching their destination. It was apparent the captain was also keeping an eye on the enemy, but when the train at last reached the outskirts of Riverside, he was seen to walk out on the front plat form of the head coach, with the evident intention of leaving at the first opportunity. "He is perfectly welcome to," chuckled Harold, when he saw the move. "By that time, I hope we will be in possession of the house."

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A Startling Interruption. 219 "And the old fellow's confession," added Conrad, heartily. "Well, isn ' t it about time we jump? The train se e ms to be running slow enough." The sun had set some hours b e fore, but the night was not too dark for them to s e e objects quite plainly, so when Harold gave the word they r e ached the ground in safety. "Come this way," exclaimed the l a d , darting down a side street. He was closely followed by the lieutenant, and, after a few moments of rapid walking, they arrived in front of a large two-story dwelling, setting back in the yard. Not a light was visible at any of the windows . It ap peared as if the building was unoccupied, but a loud knock at the door sp e edily brought a response. "Who is it?" called out a gruff voice. "That's my man," whispered Carey, the n he replied: "It's Conrad. Quick! open the door!" A rattling of bolts was h ea rd, and then the oaken portal flew back, revealing a shrewd-faced man of middle age. He held a candle in one hand, which he shaded with the other, while looking at them. His glance w a s keen, and a certain air of quiet determination about him caused Harold to instantly see that he was not to be trifled with. "So it's you, Mr. Conrad?" he said, beckoning them in side. "Well, I am glad you are here at last; it has been an awful job to ke e p that old scoundrel properly tuned up. Where is the captain?" "At the depot by this time," replied Carey, significantly . The detective gave a slight start. Then stepping out on the stoop, he whistled softly. Hughes and the lieutenant heard a rustling in the bushes a few feet from the walk, and a couple of men slipped into view. "He is in town," called out the detective, in a low voice. "Keep your eye peeled, and on no account let him gain

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220 A Startling Interruption. entrance to the house. If necessary, knock him down; I I will see that you escape punishment. Now be careful, as all depends on you." After giving these instructions, he hurriedly closed the door and bade Hughes and Carey follow him. "Orth is locked in a back room at the top of the house," he explained, while asc ending the stairs . "I have suc ceeded in sending all the servants away for the night, so we have a clear field before us. As you know, I hold thl! position of general factotum here, and even the boss him self is afraid to move, if I don't give my consent." "What about a lawyer?" asked Conrad. "I couldn't obtain one, because we had to leave the train before it reached the station." "Oh, I have fixed that all right. There are two men inside the house now, hidden away in one of the rooms. One of them is a notary public of this place. Now, what we want to do is to get old Orth's signature to a document I have prepared. So far he has refused utterly, saying that he wants to see his late partner's son first." "Well, he will soon be gratified," spoke up Harold, grimly. By this time the little party had arrived at the upper floor. Halting before a door, the detective cautiously unlocked it and walked in, followed by his two companions. Seated at a table in the center of the room, with his head bowed, was an old man, whom Harold instantly recognized as the captain's miserly brother. The noise made by their entrance caused him to glance up. On seeing Hughes, he tottered to his feet and re treated to a corner, as if in mortal fear. The officer stepped forward and said, in a calm voice: "This is your partner's son, sir. He has come at your )

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A Startling Interruption. 221 bidding. Will you now do an act of justice and restore to him that which you stole from the widow and orphan?" "\Vho says I stole anything from widows?" feebly re plied the old man, glancing at his questioner cunningly. The detective turned to Carey and asked: "Did he not confess to you that he had forged orders and altered his books so that he could claim ,illl the money due Mr. Hughes in the business?" "That is just what he told me when I worked in his house as an alleged clerk," quickly replied the lieutenant. Then, with a rapid movement, he slipped a pair of false whiskers on his chin , and confronted the old miser. Orth started back in mingled terror and surprise. "This is a plot-a base scheme to defraud me of my hard-earned money!" he screeched, moving toward the door. "I'll have you all arrested. If my brother was here, . he would settle you." "You will wait a long time for Captain Orth," exclaimed Carey, trying a new plan to frighten the old scoundrel. "Your cowardly brother is already in the hands of the law, and aid from him is impossible." "Yes, and you will soon follow him," added the detec tive, sternly. "I do not intend to trifle with you any lon ger. If you won't sign a confession willingly, and re store to this lad that which rightly belongs to him, I'll see what effect the inside of a prison cell will have." While speaking, the shrewd officer had intercepted Orth's attempt to leave the room , and, beckoning to his companions, prepared to retire. The old miser again retreated to his corner and stood watching their movements with growing terror. Just as they started to pass through the door, he called out: "Will you promise to save me from punishment?"

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222 A Startling Interruption. "I'll try my best to," replied the detective. "And t think I can succeed if you restore everything." "But it will ruin me," wailed Orth, wringing his hands. "You lie, and you know it !" exclaimed Conrad, con temptuously. "You have plenty of your own to live upon without needing the property of others." "Come! Are you going to make restitution or not?" demanded the detective, impatiently. "I will not wait much longer." "Where is the paper?" sullenly asked Orth, sitting down at the table. The officer produced a document from his pocket, and whispered to Carey to call in a couple of men he would find in the hall outside. The lieutenant gladly obeyed. Opening the door, he stepped out, quickly returning with two gentlemen, who had evidently been expecting the summons. One of them immediately took a seat next to Orth, and handed him a pen. The old miser nervously scrawl e d his name, and, just as he finished the last stroke , ste ps sounded in the hall and the door flew open, revealing Cap tain Orth.

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CHAPTER XXXVI. CONCLUSION. For one brief moment the occupants of the little room !'tared at the intruder in overwhelming surprise, then, with an inarticulate cry, the old miser made a sudden grab at the paper he had just signed. But he was a second too late. As if anticipating the move, Harold jumped toward the table, and just as the scoundrel's hands reached for it, the lad picked it up and stood on the defensive. "Give it to me!" screamed Orth, trying to wrest it from Hughes' grasp. Then, finding the effort unsuccessful, he turned toward his brother, and moaned: "They have forced me to sign a confession, John, and it will put both of us into prison. Make them give it up." "What have you done, you hound !" growled the cap tain, hoarsely, his face flushing and paling alternately. "What confession have you signed?" Before the miser could reply, Conrad spoke up, saying, firmly: "Your brother has done an act of justice, and made restitution of property stolen by both of you from the mother of my protege, Harold Hughes. It has been wit nessed by a lawful notary public, and you cannot recall it." Those watching the captain saw him stagger as if struck a mortal blow. Then he sprang forward, and be-

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224 Conclusion. fore they could interfere, he had clutched Harold by the throat. There was a sound of rending paper, and several white objects fluttered to the floor. With a cry of anger, Carey cleared the intervening space, and threw himself upon the villain. Another form also joined the struggling group, and in an instant the air resounded with the din of a deadly combat. Back and forth they swayed, first in one corner of the little room, and then in another, striking, cursing and groaning until it seemed as if a mob of savages were engaged in the fray. At last one of the combatants separated himself from the others and fell upon his knees, almost immediately scrambling erect again. It was Harold, and he held in his hands the torn con fession. In the meantime the old miser had attempted to es cape from the room, but the notary public caught him and held the rascal so that he could not get away. After securing the precious document, Hughes and the remaining gentleman went to the other's assistance, and the desperate scoundrel was speedily subdued. The detective quickly produced several pairs of hand cuffs, and soon both the captain and his unworthy brother were placed where they could do no harm. "By Jove! but that was a tough struggle,'' exclaimed Carey, gazing ruefully at his torn and disordered garments. "But we have succeeded at last, and it is worth greater damage than this." "I am glad to see that he did not succeed in destroying the written confession," remarked the notary, examining the document Harold placed in his care. "We will now

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Conclusion. • 225 all place our names at the bottom of this portion as wit nesses, and to-morrow I'll file it with the authorities." "In the meantime, I think I will file these with the au thorities also," chuckled the detective, pointing toward his prisoners. "They will be more safe in the county jail." From then on until he left the house, Captain Orth re mained silent, but just as the detective bade him get into the carriage waiting in front of the house, he turned to Carey and growled: "There will be a day of reckoning between us yet, my good friend." "You don't say?" drawled the lieutenant, calmly. "Well, when you get out about ten years hence, just look m e up and we'll talk about it." After this little conversation, the Orths were driven to the sheriff's office, and placed under restraint. Carey Conrad rewarded the notary and his companion for their trouble, and told them to be in readiness to ap p ea r at the trial. As for the detective's men, the lieutenant first rebuked them for permitting the captain to enter, through their carelessness, and then bade them call the following day for their pay. "Now, Harold, I'll accompany you to your mother's for a moment, and then take a sleep," he remarked to his young friend, as they left the house. We will pass over the interview with Hughes' gentle parent, leaving our readers to form their own idea of the rejoicing in the little cottage that night. It is hardly necessary to say that Carey Conrad had the best room in the house and that neither Harold or his mother could do enough for their most welcome guest. During the course of the following week, both the cap tain and his brother were tried for forgery and grand

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Conclusion. ceny, and the jury instantly returned a verdict of guilty without leaving their seats. The authorities at Washington had dismissed the former from the army on receiving word of the affair, so when the judge pronounced a sentence of several years in the penitentiary he was immediately locked up for his term of service. The old miser, his brother, was given the benefit of his confession, and escaped with a few months. When the trial had been completed, and the lawyers paid, Harold found that he and his mother were worth quite a respectable sum-amply sufficient to place the old lady beyond want for the rest of her days, and also start him in business if he so desired. It is needless to say that he spurned the idea, and returned to West Point with his faithful friend, at the ex piration of the ten days, to resume his studies. Before doing so, however, he compelled the lieutenant to render an account of all he had paid out in the success ful attempt to bring the Orths to justice, and paid him in full, despite Carey's strenuous objection. The detective was not forgotten, either, and when he left Riverside he carried a snug little check for services rendered. Ralph Orth deserted from the academy several days be fore Harold returned, and disappeared from the ken of all concerned in him. Dick Barrett followed shortly after, and there is little doubt but what their kindred spirits attracted them to each other before many days, possibly to embark in schemes hardly conducive to the public welfare. During the time between his return to West Point and the day of graduation, our hero applied himself to his studies, rising successively from non-commissioned officer.

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Conclusion. to th.! captaincy of his company, and then cadet-colonel r finally leaving the grand old ac a d emy a full-fledg e d s e c ond lieutenant in the cavalry, his company commander being none other than his old friend, Captain Carey Con rad. Both Kirby Chambers and George West completed their course with honor, and then joined Western regi ments, wh ere they still remain, gentlemen, officers and right good f e llows. And now a parting word to those lads whose ambition may be to become one of the gray-coated cadets in our military school at West Point: If you succeed in passing the strict mental and physi cal examination, enter the gates of the old academy with the firm resolution that you will obey your superiors , treat your comrades with honesty and kindliness, and be a man in all things. Then will you pass forth a gallant officer and a gentleman to where, in the dim future, honor and glory await you in the noble profession of arms. THE END.


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