Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Jim Ludwig
DICK PRESCOTT'S SECOND YEAR AT WEST POINT
Finding the Glory of the Soldier's Life
H. Irving Hancock
I. The Class President Lectures on Hazing
II. Plebe Briggs Learns a Few Things
III. Greg Debates Between Girls and Mischief
IV. The O.C. Wants to Know
V. "I Respectfully Decline to Answer, Sir"
VI. Greg Prepares for Flirtation Walk
VII. The Folks from Home
VIII. Cadet Dodge Hears Something
IX. Spoony Femme--Flirtation Walk
X. The Cure for Plebe Animal Spirits
XI. Lieutenant Topham Feels Queer
XII. Under a Fearful Charge
XIII. In Close Arrest
XIV. Friends Who Stand By
XV. On Trial by Court-Martial
XVI. A Verdict and a Hop
XVII. "A Liar and a Coward"
XVIII. The Fight in the Barracks
XIX. Mr. Dennison's Turn is Served
XX. A Discovery at the Riding Drill
XXI. Pitching for the Army Nine
XXII. Greg's Secret and Another's
XXIII. The Committee on Class Honors
THE CLASS PRESIDENT LECTURES ON HAZING
Leaving the road that wound by the officers' quarters at the north
end, turning on to the road that passed the hotel, a hot, somewhat
tired and rather dusty column of cadets swung along towards their
tents in the distance.
The column was under arms, as though the cadets had been engaged in
target practice or out on a reconnaissance.
The young men wore russet shoes, gray trousers and leggings, gray
flannel shirts and soft campaign hats.
Their appearance was not that of soldiers on parade, but of the
grim toilers and fighters who serve in the field.
Their work that morning had, in fact, been strictly in line with
labor, for the young men, under Captain McAneny, had been engaged
in the study of field fortifications. To be more exact, the young
men had been digging military trenches---yes---digging them, for
at West Point hard labor is not beneath the cadet's dignity.
Just as they swung off the road past the officers' quarters the
young men, marching in route step, fell quickly into step at the
command of the cadet officer at the head of the line.
Now they marched along at no greater speed, but with better swing
and rhythm. They were, in fact, perfect soldiers---the best to
be found on earth.
Past the hotel they moved, and out along the road that leads by
the summer encampment. The brisk command of "halt" rang out.
Immediately afterwards the command was dismissed. Carrying their
rifles at ease, the young men stepped briskly through different
company streets to their tents.
Three of these brought up together at one of the tents.
"Home, Sweet Home," hummed Greg Holmes, as he stepped into his
"Thank goodness for the luxury of a little rest," muttered Dick
"Rest?" repeated Tom Anstey, with a look of amazement. "What
time have you, now, for a rest?"
"I can spare the time to stretch and yawn," laughed Dick. "If
I am capable of swift work, after that, I may indulge in two yawns."
"Look out, or you'll get skinned for being late at dinner formation,"
There was, in truth, no time for fooling. These cadets, and their
comrades, had reached camp just on the dot of time. But now they
had precious few minutes in which to cleanse themselves, brush
their hair and get into white duck trousers and gray fatigue blouses.
The call for dinner formation would sound at the appointed instant
and they must be ready.
Sound it did, in short time, but it caught no one napping.
Nearly everyone of the young men in camp had just returned from
a forenoon's work, and hot and dusty at that.
But now, as the call sounded, every member of three classes stepped
from his tent looking as though he had just stepped from an hour
spent in the hands of a valet.
Not one showed the least flaw in personal neatness. Moreover,
the tents which these cadets had just quitted were in absolute
order and wholly clean. At West Point no excuse whatever is accepted
for untidiness of person or quarters.
With military snap and briskness the battalion was formed. Then
at brisk command, the battalion turned to the left in column of
fours, marching down the hot, sun-blazed road to cadet mess.
Despite the heat and the hard work of the forenoon---these cadets
had been up, as they we every day in summer, since five in the
morning---spirits ran high at the midday meal, and chaffing talk
and laughter ran from table to table.
The meal over, the battalion marched back to camp. There were
a few minutes yet before the afternoon drills. A few minutes
of leisure? Yes, if such an easy act as dressing in uniform appropriate
to the coming drill, may be termed leisure.
"Drills are going to be called off, I reckon," murmured Greg,
poking his head outside the khaki colored tent after he had put
himself in readiness.
"What's up?" demanded Anstey, lacing a legging.
"The sky is about the color of ink over old Crow's Nest," reported
Just then there came a vivid flash of lightning, followed, in
a few seconds, by a deep, echoing roll of thunder. The summer
storms along this part of the Hudson River sometimes come almost
out of the clear sky.
"I'm always thankful for even the smallest favors," muttered Anstey,
with a yawn.
"We'll have to make up this drill some other day, when it's hotter,"
Dick observed, but he nevertheless dropped on to a campstool with
a grunt of relief.
Yes; each of these three cadets could now have a campstool of his
own in quarters, for Prescott, Holmes and Anstey were all yearlings.
And a yearling is "some one" in the cadet corps. For the first few
days after his release from the plebe class the yearling is quite
likely to feel that he is nearly "the whole thing." By degrees,
however, the yearling in summer encampment discovers that there is
a first class of much older cadets above him.
There are no second classmen in summer encampment, until just
before the time to break camp and return to barracks for the following
academic year. Members of the new second class---men who have
successfully passed through the first two years of life at the
United States Military Academy---are allowed two months and a half
of summer furlough, during which time they return to their homes.
Readers of the foregoing volume in this series, _"Dick Prescott's
First Year at West Point"_, are already familiar with the ordeals,
the hard work, the sorrows and the few pleasures, indeed, of plebe
life at West Point.
These readers of the former volume recall just how Dick and Greg
reached West Point in March of the year before; how they passed
their entrance examinations and settled down to fifteen months
of plebedom. Such readers recall the fights in which the new
men found themselves involved, the hazing, laughable and otherwise,
will be recalled. Our former readers will recollect that about
the only pleasure that Dick Prescott found in his plebedom lay
in his election to the presidency of his class---position that
carries more responsibility than pleasure for the poor plebe leader
of his class.
But now all was wholly and happily changed. Dick, Greg and Anstey
were yearlings, entitled to real and friendly recognition from the
It is only seldom that yearlings are accused of b.j.-ety (freshness),
for about all of that is taken out of the cadet during his plebedom.
But the greatest sign of all to the new yearling is that now,
instead of finding himself liable to hazing at any time, he is
now the one who administers the hazing.
It is rare that a first or second classman takes the trouble to
haze a plebe. A first or second classman may notice that a plebe
is a little too b.j. If so, the first or second classman usually
drops a hint to a yearling, and the latter usually takes the plebe
So far, our young friends had been yearlings just three days.
They had not, as yet, exercised their new function of hazing
any plebes. The first three days in camp had been too full of
new and hard duties to permit of their doing so.
As Greg looked out of the tent, the wind suddenly sprang up, driving
a gust of big raindrops before it. In another moment there was
a steady downpour. Cadet corporals in raincoats darted through
the company streets, carrying the cheering word that drills were
suspended until change of orders.
"I hope it rains all afternoon, then," gaped Anstey, behind his
hand. "It's a rest for mine---you bunkies (tentmates) permitting."
Anstey stretched himself on his bed and was soon sound asleep.
In summer encampment, taps sound at 10.30, and first call to
reveille sounds at five in the morning. Six hours and a half
of sleep are none too much for a young man engaged at hard drilling
and other work. The cadet, when his duties, permit, may, however,
snatch a few minutes of sleep at any time through the day. Cadets
in camp quickly get the knack of making a few minutes count for
"It's going to be a good one," declared Greg, as the rain settled
down into a monotonous drumming against the shelter flap over
"A long one, too," spoke Prescott hopefully. "Greg, I actually
believe that the wind is growing cool."
"Don't speak about it," begged Greg. "I'm superstitious."
"Yes; if a rain comes up just after dress parade and guardmount,
then it'll keep up the rest of the evening, when we might be enjoying
ourselves after a strenuous day of work. But if you get to exulting
over the rain that is to get us out of a drill or two, or bragging
about a cool breeze getting lost around here in the daytime, then
the raindrops cease at once, the wind dies down, and the sun comes
out hotter than it has been before in a week!"
Dick took another look outside.
"Then I won't say that this rain is going to last all afternoon, but
it is," Dick smiled.
"Now, you've spoiled it all!" cried Greg.
"Say, Holmesy, old spectre!" hailed a laughing voice across the
"Hullo!" Greg answered.
"Haven't a cold, have you?"
"Don't feel that you're marked for pneumonia?"
"What are you driving at Furlong?" Greg called back.
"Come along over, if you can brave the storm!" called yearling
Furlong. "You and the rest."
"Shall we go over, Dick?" asked Greg, turning around.
"Yes; why not? If nothing else, we'll leave Anstey in peace for
his big sleep. Duck out. I'll be on your heels."
The flap across the way was thrown open hospitably as Greg entered,
followed by Cadet Prescott.
"Where's old Mason and Dixon?" demanded Furlong, alluding to the
fact that Anstey was a Virginian.
"He has turned in for a big sleep," Greg informed their hosts.
"Great!" chuckled Furlong. "Let's peep in and throw a bucket
of water over him. He'll wake up and think the tent is leaking."
"Don't you dare!" warned Dick, but he said it with a grin that
robbed his rebuke of offence. "Old Mace (short for 'Mason and
Dixon') has been tired out ever since being on guard the first
night in camp. He actually needs the big sleep. I believe this
rain is for his benefit."
"Say that again, and put it slowly," protested Furlong, looking
Griffin and Dobbs, the other two yearlings who tented with him,
laughed in amusement.
"Now, that we've lured the class president in here," continued
Cadet Furlong, "we'll call this a class meeting. A quorum isn't
necessary. You've got my campstool, Mr. President, so we'll consider
you in the chair. May I state the business before the meeting?"
"Proceed, Mr. Furlong," requested Prescott gravely.
"Then, sir, and gentlemen-----" began Furlong.
"The chair calls you to order!" interrupted Dick sternly.
"Will the chair kindly explain the point of order?"
"It is out of order to make any distinction between the chair
"I yield to the---the pride of the chair," agreed Furlong, with
a comical bow. "Mr. Chairman and other gentlemen, the question
that I wish to put is-----"
Cadet Furlong now paused, glancing solemnly about him before he
"What are we going to do with the plebes?"
Dick dropped his tone of presiding officer as he answered:
"I take it, Miles---pardon me, _Furlong_, that your question really
means, what are we going to do to the plebes?"
"Same thing," contended the other yearling.
"Why should we do anything to them?" asked Dick gravely.
"Why should we---say, did you hear the man?" appealed Furlong,
looking around him despairingly at the other yearlings. "Why
should we do anything to the plebes? And yet, in a trusting moment,
we elected old ramrod to be president of the class! Why should
Cadet Furlong made a gurgling sound in his throat, as though he
were perishing for lack of air.
"Prescott isn't serious," hinted Griffin.
"Yes, I am," contended Dick, half stubbornly. "Griffin, what
did you think of yearlings---last year?"
"What I thought, last year," retorted Cadet Griffin, "doesn't
much matter now. Then I was an ignorant, stupid, unregenerate,
unsophisticated, useless, worthless and objectionable member of
the community. I hadn't advanced far enough to appreciate the
very exalted position that a yearling holds by right."
"We now know, quite well," broke in Dobbs, "that it is a yearling's
sacred and bounden duty to lick a plebe into shape in the shortest
possible order. Though it never has been done, and never can be
done inside of a year," he finished with a sigh.
"Do you seek words of wisdom from your class president?" Cadet
"Oh, yes, wise and worthy sir!" begged Furlong.
"Then this is almost the best that I can think of," Dick went
on. It will never be possible to stamp out wholly the hazing
of plebes at West Point. But we fellows can make a new record,
if we will, by frowning on all severe and needless forms of hazing.
I had the reputation of getting a lot of hazing last year, didn't I?"
"You surely did, old ramrod," murmured Furlong sympathetically.
"At times, then, my heart ached for you, but now, with my increased
intelligence, I perceive how much good it all did you."
"I took my hazing pretty well, didn't I?" insisted Dick.
"All that came your way you took like a gentleman," agreed Dobbs.
"At that time," went on Prescott, "I made up my mind that I'd
submit, during my plebedom. But I also made up my mind---and
it still my mind---that I'd go very slow, indeed, in passing the
torment on to the plebes who followed me."
Dick spoke so seriously that there was an awkward pause.
"I don't want you to think that I'm going to set up as a yearling
saint," Dick added. "I don't mean to say that I may not put a
single plebe through any kind of pace. What I do mean is that
I shall go very slowly indeed in annoying any plebe. I shan't
do it, probably, unless I note a case of such utter b.j.-ety that
I feel bound to bring the plebe quickly to his senses."
"You cast a gloom over us," muttered Furlong. "So far we haven't
done any hazing. We were thinking of ordering a plebe in here, and
starting in on him, so as to get our hands in. We need practice
in the fine art."
"Don't let me interfere with your pursuit of happiness," begged
Dick, with mock politeness.
"But, seriously, old ramrod, are you as strong for the plebe as we
have just been led to believe? Are you prepared to take the plebe
to our heart and comfort him---instead of training him?"
"Do you believe we ought to take the plebe right into our midst,
and condole with him until we get him over his homesickness?
Do you feel that we should overlook all the traditional b.j.ety
of the plebe, and admit him to full fellowship without any probation
"No," spoke Dick promptly. "I don't believe in patting the plebe
on the shoulder and increasing his conceit. When a candidate
first comes to West Point, and is admitted as a cadet, he is one
of the most conceited simpletons on earth. He has to have that
all taken out of him, I admit. He must be taught to respect and
defer to upper classmen, just as he will have to do with his superior
officers after he goes from here out into the service. The plebe
must be kept in his place. I don't believe in making him feel
that he's a pet. I do believe in frowning down all b.j.-ety.
I don't believe in recognizing a plebe, except officially. But
I don't believe in subjecting any really good fellow to a lot
of senseless and half cruel hazing that has no purpose except
the amusement of the yearlings. Now, I think I've made myself
clear. At least, I've said all that I have to say on the subject.
For the rest, I'll listen to the ideas of the rest of you."
There was silence, broken at last by Greg, who said:
"I think I agree, in the main, with Prescott."
"Oh, of course," grunted Dobbs, in a tone which might mean that
Greg Holmes was but the "shadow" of Dick Prescott.
Greg looked quickly at Dobbs, but saw nothing in the other's face
that justified him in taking open offence.
Somehow, though none of the others said anything to that effect,
Cadet Prescott began to feel that he was a bit in the way at a
conference of this sort. He didn't rise to leave at once, but
he swung around on his campstool near the door.
Without throwing the flap open, Prescott peeped through a slit-like
opening. As he did so he saw something that made his eyes flash.
The rain was pouring a little less heavily now. Down the company
street came a cadet with a pail of water.
It was Mr. Briggs, a round faced, laughter loving, somewhat roly
poly lad of the plebe class.
Just as Mr. Briggs was passing the tent in which Anstey lay making
up some needed sleep, a snore came out.
Briggs halted, glancing swiftly up and down the company street.
No upper classman being in sight, Mr. Briggs peeped into the tent.
He saw Anstey, asleep and alone.
Instantly raising the flap just enough, Mr. Briggs took careful
aim, then shot half the contents of the pail of water over the
chest and face of Yearling Anstey.
Dick Prescott watched unseen by the b.j. plebe. Mr. Briggs fled
lightly, but swiftly four tents down the line and disappeared into
his own quarters.
From across the way, came a roar of wrath.
Anstey was up, bellowing like a bull. Yet, roused so ruthlessly
from a sound sleep, it took him a few seconds to realize that
his wetting must be due to human agency.
Then Anstey flew to the tent door, looking out, but the chuckling
plebe was already in his own tent, out of sight.
"After what I've just said," announced Dick grimly, "I think I know
of a plebe who requires some correction."
"Listen to our preacher!" jeered Furlong.
PLEBE BRIGGS LEARNS A FEW THINGS
"Anstey!" called Prescott softly across the company street.
"Oh, was it you idiots?" demanded the Virginian, showing his wrathful
"No," replied Dick. "Come over as quickly as you can."
It took Anstey a few minutes to dry himself, and to rearray himself,
for the Virginian's sense of dignity would not permit him to go
visiting in the drenched garments in which he had awakened.
"Which one of you was it?" demanded Anstey, as he finally entered
the tent of Furlong and his bunkies.
"No one here," Dick replied. "The other gentlemen don't even
know what happened, for I haven't told them."
So Anstey withdrew his look of suspicion from the five cadets.
No cadet may ever lie; not even to a comrade in the corps. Any
cadet who utters a lie, and is detected in it, is ostracized as
being unfit for the company of gentlemen. So, when Dick's prompt
denial came, Anstey believed, as he was obliged to do.
"It was a plebe, Mace," continued Dick.
"I'll have all but his life, then!" cried the southerner fiercely.
"I wouldn't even think of it. The offender is only a cub," urged
Dick. "If you accept my advice, Mace, you won't even call the
poor blubber out. We'll just summon him here, and make the little
imp so ashamed of himself that the lesson ought to last him through
the rest of his plebedom. I'm cooler than you are at this moment,
Mace, but none the less disgusted. Will you let me handle this
"Yes," agreed Anstey quickly.
As for Furlong, Griffin and Dobbs, it was "just nuts" for them
to see their class president, lately so stately on the subject
of hazing, now actually proposing to take a plebe sternly in hand.
The three bunkies exchanged grins.
"Tell us, Mace," continued Dick, "have you had any occasion to take
Mr. Briggs in hand at any time?
"So it was Mr. Briggs?" demanded Anstey angrily, turning toward
"Wait! Have you taken Mr. Briggs in hand at any time?"
"Yes," admitted Anstey. "When you and Holmesy were out, last
evening, I had Mr. Briggs in our tent for grinning at me and failing
to say 'sir' when he addressed me."
"You put him through some performances?"
"Nothing so very tiresome," replied Anstey. "I made him brace
for five minutes, and then go through the silent manual of arms
for five more."
"Humph! That wasn't much!" grunted Furlong.
"I guess that was why Mr. Briggs felt that he had to get square,"
mused Dick aloud. "But a plebe is not allowed to get square by
doing anything b.j."
Again Anstey turned as if to go out, but Dick broke in:
"Don't do it, Mace. Try, for the next half hour, to keep as cool
as an iceberg. Trust the treatment of the impish plebe to us.
Greg, old fellow, will you be the one to go down and tell Mr.
Briggs that his presence in this tent is desired immediately?"
Plebe Briggs was alone in his tent, his bunkies being absent on
a visit in another tent. Mr. Briggs was still grinning broadly
as he remembered the roar with which Anstey had acknowledged the
But of a sudden Mr. Briggs's grin faded like the mist, for Greg
was at the doorway.
"Mr. Briggs, your presence is desired at once at Mr. Furlong's
"Yes, sir," replied the plebe meekly. He got up with an alacrity
that he did not feel, but which was the result of the new soldierly
habit. Mr. Briggs threw on his campaign hat and a raincoat, but,
by the time he was outside of the tent, Holmes was just disappearing
under canvas up the company street.
"I guess I'm in for it," muttered the plebe sheepishly, as he
strode up the street. "Confound it, can a yearling see just as well
when he's asleep as when he's awake?"
He halted before Furlong's tent, rapping on the pole.
"Mr. Briggs, sir."
"Come in, Mr. Briggs."
The plebe stepped into the tent, drawing himself up and standing
For some seconds none of the yearlings spoke. In fact, only Dick
looked at the fourth classman.
"Mr. Briggs," demanded Prescott at last, "where is your bucket?"
"In my tent, sir."
"You will fill it, and report back here with it at once."
"Very good, sir."
"Now, what on earth is coming?" quaked the plebe, as he possessed
himself of his bucket and started for the nearest tap.
In the shortest time possible the young man reported hack at the
tent, his bucket as full of water as it would safely carry.
"Set the bucket down, Mr. Briggs, at the rear of the tent."
The plebe obeyed, then stood once more at attention.
"Mr. Briggs," continued the president of the yearling class, "it
was you who threw water over Mr. Anstey?"
"I am not obliged to answer that, sir," replied the plebe.
"You're quite within your rights there, mister," Dick admitted.
"But I looked out of this tent just in time to see you do it.
Have you any wish to deny it now?"
"Mister, you have given us the impression that you are altogether
to b.j.-ish to amount to anything in the cadet corps. Your sense
of humor is bubbling over, but your judgment is so small that
it would roll around inside the eye of a needle. This is a serious
condition, and we judge that your health will be sadly affected
if the condition is not promptly cured. One the first symptoms
to be subdued is that of a swollen head. The head needs reducing
in size. Take off your hat, and kneel in front of the bucket."
This Mr. Briggs did, meekly enough, now. There is never any sense
in a mere plebe refusing to follow the commands of a yearling.
"You will remain in that kneeling posture, mister, unless
you are released from it. Now, thrust your head down into the
water, as far as you can without interfering with your breathing.
Remain in that position. Take your hands off the floor, sir,
and do not rest them on the floor again. Continue with your head
in soak until you are directed to do otherwise."
Even Anstey had to look grimly satisfied with this punishment.
The unhappy plebe certainly did present a most laughable yet
woeful appearance. It seemed impossible to keep this position,
without occasional steadying by the hands, but it had to be done.
If the reader does not consider it a hard feat to kneel thus,
with one's head immersed in the water, the reader can easily satisfy
his curiosity on the point.
Having thus put the plebe in soak, the yearlings all turned away
from him, conversing among themselves on one subject and another.
Yet, had the plebe ventured to raise his head somewhat out of
the water, or to seek support from his hands, he would quickly
have discovered that he was being effectively if covertly watched.
Minute after minute the plebe remained "in soak." To him it seemed,
of course, like hours.
At last, when human endurance of the Briggs brand could last no
longer, the plebe gave an expected lurch sideways, falling flat,
upsetting the bucket and causing much of the water flow along his
own neck and beneath his underclothing.
"Mister, you are not on your knees, as directed," exclaimed Cadet
"I---I am sorry, sir, but I couldn't help falling over," replied
crestfallen Mr. Briggs, standing at attention beside his overturned
He wriggled slightly, in a way eloquently suggestive of the water
that was trickling over his skin under his clothing.
"Did you get wet, mister?" asked Dick.
"Now, that is really too bad, mister," continued Prescott in a
tone that hinted at a great deal of sympathy. "You mustn't be
permitted to get chilled. Exercise is what you need."
"Poor, young Mr. Briggs stood mute, blinking back.
"Milesy, may Mr. Briggs have the use of your piece for a few minutes?"
"Why, surely," declared Cadet Furlong in a tone of great cordiality.
"Mr. Briggs, take Mr. Furlong's piece, and go through the silent
manual of arms," ordered the president of the yearling class.
Mr. Briggs picked up the rifle that Furlong pointed out to him.
Then, trying to look very grave in order to hide the extreme
sheepishness that he really felt, Mr. Briggs brought the rifle up
to port arms.
"Proceed through the manual, mister," Dick counseled. "And keep
going until we decide that you have done it long enough to put
you past the danger of pneumonia."
Standing stiffly, the plebe started through the manual of arms.
As soon as he had gone once through, with West Point precision
in every movement, the plebe started in all over again.
"Now, do this to the stationary marching, mister," added Dick
gravely, as though prescribing something for the very immediate
benefit of the luckless fourth classman.
With that, Mr. Briggs began to "march," though not stirring from
the spot on which he was stationed. Left, right! left, right!
left, right! his feet moved, in the cadence of marching. At
the same time the victim was obliged to raise his feet.
"Bring the feet up higher and more smartly, mister," directed
Passing the rifle through every movement of the manual of arms,
lifting his feet as high as he could, and yet obliged to bring
them down noiselessly to the floor, Plebe Briggs quickly began
to drip with perspiration.
Yet his inquisitors sat by with the judicial gravity of drill
sergeants. For ten minutes Mr. Briggs continued this grotesque
work. He knew better than to stop; it would not be wise, even,
to send any appealing glances at his inquisitors.
"Halt!" called Prescott softly, at last.
Briggs stopped, holding himself at attention after he had allowed
the butt of the rifle to touch the floor noiselessly.
"Mister, return Mr. Furlong's piece."
The plebe obeyed, wondering what next was in store for him. Prescott
noted that Mr. Briggs's legs were trembling under him.
"That is all, for the present, mister," announced the class sergeant.
"But you will hold yourself in readiness, in case we call you out
for a soiree this evening."
"Yes, sir," assented the plebe.
"You may go."
Mr. Briggs judged that he had better salute the yearling class
president very carefully as he passed out with his bucket. This
he did, then hastened down the company street.
This time, when he had vanished behind his own tent flap, Mr.
Briggs didn't indulge in any grimaces or chuckles. Instead, he
made haste to get off his dripping garments and to get out others,
after he had enjoyed a rub down.
"Serves me right!" muttered the plebe. "I had been getting along
first rate, with nobody bothering me. Then I had to get that
b.j. streak on this afternoon. Now, I suppose I'm a marked plebe!"
GREG DEBATES BETWEEN GIRLS AND MISCHIEF
"Considering that you are the noble class president, who had just
made us feel so ashamed over our thoughts of hazing," muttered
Mr. Furlong, "I must say, Prescott, that I don't look upon you
as any tyro at hazing."
"This case was very different," Dick answered quietly. "This
plebe, Briggs, was caught in a very rank piece of b.j.-ety. We
couldn't let his offence go by. We hazed him for a straight cause,
not merely for being a plebe. What I object to is annoying plebes
simply because they are green men."
"But what about that soiree you mentioned to the plebe?" demanded
"I told him only to be ready if called," Prescott made reply.
"I had no intention of bringing him over for a soiree this evening,
unless the plebe does something else raw in the meantime."
A "soiree" is an institution of the summer encampment. The plebe
who is in for a soiree may be either a man who has committed some
direct offence against the upper classmen, or a plebe who has
been observed to be simply too b.j. in general. Mr. Plebe is
directed to present himself at the tent of some upper classman.
Several yearlings are here gathered to receive him. He is taken
in hand in no gentle way. He is rebuked, scored "roasted." He
is made to feel that he is a disgrace to the United States Military
Academy, and that he never will be a particle of value in the
Service. Mr. Plebe is hauled over the coals in a fashion that
few civilians could invent or carry out. Very likely, on top
of all the lecturing, the man will be severely hazed. He is also
quite likely, especially if he show impatience, to be called out
for a fight.
The b.j.-est plebe, after a soiree by capable yearlings, is always
afterwards observed to be a very meek plebe.
The rain continued so long that not only were afternoon drills
escaped, but dress parade as well. It was not, in fact, much
before supper time that the rain stopped and the sun came out
briefly. But the brief period of relaxation had been appreciated
hugely throughout camp. Three quarters of the cadets under canvas
had found time for at least a two hours' sleep.
When the battalion marched back from supper, and was dismissed,
the young men turned to for their evening of leisure and pleasure.
Over at Cullum Hall there was to be a hop for the evening.
Not all cadets, however, attend hops at any time.
Not long after supper many of the cadets began to dress carefully.
"Going to the hop, old ramrod?" inquired Mr. Furlong, standing
just outside his tent while he fitted a pair of white gloves over
"Not to-night," returned Dick indifferently.
"Why, do you know, you haven't shown your face at hop yet?" Furlong
demanded. "Yet when we were under instruction in the plebe class,
you turned out to be one of our best dancers."
"Oh, I'll be in at one of the hops, later on in the summer," responded
"One?" gasped Furlong. "Oh, you wild, giddy thing! You're going
to do better, aren't you, Holmesy?" continued Furlong, as Dick's
old chum came out, fitting on a pair of white gloves.
"I'm going over and put my head in danger of being punched, I
suppose," grinned Greg. "I'm going to have the nerve to 'stag
The man who "stags it"---that is, does not escort any young woman
friend to the hop, must needs dance, if at all, with the girl
some other cadet has "dragged." This sometimes causes bad feeling.
"I'm going to drag a 'spoony femme' tonight," declared Furlong,
contentedly. "She's no 'L.P.,' at that."
"Dragging a femme" is to escort a young woman to the hop. If
she be "spoony," that means that she is pretty. But an "L.P."
is a poor dancer.
"Hotel?" inquired Greg.
"Yes," nodded Mr. Furlong, turning to leave. "Miss Wilton. I
don't believe you've met her. Unless she dislikes your looks
I may present you to her."
"Do," begged Greg. "I'd enjoy going through a few dreamy numbers."
Mr. Furlong, having permission to go to the hotel for Miss Wilton,
started off, moving at his best soldier's step. After registering
at the hotel office, in the book kept for that purpose, as every
cadet is required to do, Mr. Furlong hoped for several minutes
of talk with his pretty partner, either in a corner of the parlor,
or on the veranda. Only the parlor and the veranda are open to
cadets having permission to call at the hotel.
Greg, having no companion to go after, brought out his stool and
seated himself beside Dick in front of the tent.
"Why don't you go over to the hop tonight, Dick?" Greg asked.
"Mainly because I don't wish to," replied Prescott, with a smile.
"Granted. But I am rather wondering why you don't wish to."
"I think you can keep a secret, Greg," replied his old Gridley
chum, looking quizzically at Holmes. "Greg, I'm too awfully lonesome
to trust myself at the hop tonight.
"Eh? Why, old ramrod, the hop ought to be the very place to lose
that lonesome feeling."
"Just what I'm afraid of," responded Prescott.
"You---eh---huh! You're talking riddles now.
"Greg, a cadet can't marry. Or, if he does, his marriage acts
as an automatic resignation, and he's dropped from the cadet corps."
"I know all that," Holmes assented.
"Now, here at West Point, with this nearly male-convent life,
a fellow often gets so blamed lonesome that almost any girl looks
fine to him, Greg. First thing he knows, a cadet, being a natural
gallant, anyway, goes so far in being spoons with some girl that
he has to act like a gentleman, then, and declare intentions.
A fellow can't show a nice girl a whole lot of spoony attentions,
and then back off, letting the girl discover that he has been
only fooling all summer. You've heard, Greg, of plenty of cadets
who have engaged themselves while here at the Academy."
"Yes," nodded Greg. "There's no regulation against a cadet becoming
engaged to a girl. The regulation only forbids him to marry while
he's a cadet."
"Now, a fellow like one of us either goes so far, in his lonesomeness,
that he's grateful to a bright girl for cheering him and imagines
he's in love with her; or else he finds that the girl thought
he was in love with her, and she expects him to propose. Greg,
I don't want to make any mistakes that way. It's easy for a cadet
to capture the average girl's heart; it's his uniform, I suppose,
for women always have been weak when uniforms enveloped fellows
who otherwise wouldn't attract their notice. Greg, I wonder how
many cadets have been lonesome enough to propose to some girl,
and afterwards find out it was all a mistake? And how many girls
fall in love with the uniform, thinking all the while that it's
the fellow in the uniform? How many cadets and girls recover
from the delusion only in after years when it's too late. I tell
you, Greg, when a fellow gets into this cadet life, I think the
practice of going too often to a hop may be dangerous for cadets
and girls alike!
"I'll get cold feet if I listen to you long," laughed yearling
Holmes grimly. "I wonder if I'd better pull these gloves off
and stay where I am?"
"I didn't have any idea of seeking to persuade you," Dick replied.
"If you feel proof against the danger, run right over to Cullum
and enjoy yourself."
"I was just thinking," mused Greg, "of a promise you and Dave
Darrin made some girls back in Gridley."
"I remember that promise," nodded Dick.
"You and Darrin promised Laura Bentley and Belle Meade that you'd
each invite them to hops, you to West Point and Dave to Annapolis,
just as soon as either one of you had a right to attend hops."
"I know," nodded Prescott.
Greg was silent. After a few moments Dick ventured:
"Greg, I kept that promise the day we moved into encampment---the
first day that I was a yearling."
"Oh! Are Laura and Belle coming on West Point soon?" Holmes asked
"I don't know. I'll be mighty glad when I do know. But undoubtedly
Darrin has invited them to Annapolis, too. Now, it may be that,
even if the girls can get away to travel a bit, they can't go
to West Point and to Annapolis in the same season. So the girls
may be trying to make up their minds---which."
"I hope they come here," murmured Holmes fervently.
"So do I," Prescott replied promptly.
"Dick---do you---mind if I ask a question," demanded Greg slowly.
"No," smiled Dick, "for I think I know what it is."
"Are you---is Laura---I mean-----"
"You wonder whether Laura and I had any understanding before I
left Gridley? That's what you want to know?"
"That is what I was wondering."
"There is no understanding between us--not the least," Prescott
replied. "I don't know whether Laura would consent to one, now
or later. I don't know myself yet, either, Greg. I want to wait
until I have grown some in mind. Laura Bentley is such a magnificent
girl that it would be a crime to make any mistake either as to
her feelings or mine."
"Do you think good old Dave and Belle Meade had any understanding
before Dave left Gridley?"
"Dave went away after we did," Prescott answered. "So I can't
be sure. But I don't believe Dave and Belle are pledged in any
"Funny game, the whole thing!" sighed Greg, rising. He had drawn
off one of his white lisle-thread gloves, but now he was engaged
in putting it on again.
"Confidence deserves to be paid in the same coin, Greg," warned
his chum. "Did you leave any girl---back in Gridley---or elsewhere."
"Dick, old ramrod," replied Cadet Holmes, frankly, as he finished
drawing on his glove, "I'm unpledged, and, to the best of my belief,
I'm wholly heart free."
"Look out that you keep so for two or three years more, then,"
laughed Dick, and Holmes, nodding lightly, strode away.
Despite the hop, there were some visitors in camp that evening.
Dick was presently invited over to join a group that was entertaining
three college boys who had dropped off at West Point for two or
Greg spent an hour or so at the hop. He was introduced to Miss
Wilton, a pretty, black-eyed little girl, and danced one number
with her. He presently secured another partner. But too many
of the cadets were "stagging it" that night. There were not feminine
partners enough to go around.
"My cue is to cut out, I guess," mused Greg, finding himself near
the entrance to the ballroom.
Once outside, Greg drew off his gloves, thrusting them in under
the breast of his gray uniform coat. He wasn't quite decided
whether to go back to Cullum later. But at present he wanted
to stroll in the dark and to think.
"I reckon I'll take Dick's line of philosophy, and cut girls a
good deal," decided Greg. "Yet, at West Point in the summer,
it's either girls or mischief. Mischief, if carried too far,
gets a fellow bounced out of the Academy, while girls---I wonder
which is safer?"
Still guessing, Cadet Holmes wandered a good way from Cullum Hall,
and was not again seen that night on the polished dancing floor.
* * * * * * * *
Anstey had gone visiting some other yearlings. Dick, after leaving
the college boys and their hosts, felt that a slow stroll outside of
camp would be one of the pleasantest ways of passing the time until
taps at 10.30. Even after the rain, the night was close and sultry.
"Don't you sing, Prescott?" called a first classman as Dick passed
near the head of the color line. "Some of our glee-club fellows
are getting together to try some old home songs."
But Dick shook his head. Though he possessed a fair voice, the
singing of sentimental or mournful ditties was not in his line
that night. He heard the strumming of guitars and mandolins as
he left camp behind.
Dick did not hurry, even to get away from the music. He kept
on up the road, and by the hotel, but was careful not to enter
the grounds, though three or four yearlings called gayly to him
from the hotel veranda. He had no permission for tonight to visit
"I'm not going to get into a row with the K.C. for a stupid little
violation like that," he muttered.
Presently Dick's stroll took him over in the neighborhood of "Execution
Hollow," the depression in the ground below where the reveille gun
Suddenly Dick halted, an amused look creeping into his face.
"Now, who'd suspect good old Greg of getting into sheer mischief,
all by himself?" the class president asked himself.
For Holmes was bending a bit low, a hundred yards or so away, and
stealing toward the fieldpiece that does duty as reveille gun.
"It would be a shame to bet on what Greg's up to---it would be
too easy!" muttered Prescott, standing behind a flowering bush
at the road's edge. "Greg is going to load the reveille gun,
attach a long line to the firing cord, and rig it across the path
here, so that some 'dragger,' coming back from seeing his 'femme'
home, will trip over the cord and fire the gun. The dragger can't
be blamed for what he didn't do on purpose, and cute little Greg
will be safe in his tent. But if Greg should happen to be caught
it might mean the bounce from the Academy! And, oh, wow!"
Cadet Prescott's heart seemed to stop beating. Glancing down
the road he saw a man standing, there, in the olive drab uniform
of the Army officer. Captain Bates, of the tactical department,
was quietly watching unsuspecting Cadet Holmes.
THE O.C. WANTS TO KNOW
As has been said, Cadet Prescott felt as though his heart had
In another instant mischievous Cadet Holmes would actually be
slipping a shell into the reveille gun, if it were not already
loaded, and then attaching a cord, to lay a trap for some other
Captain Bates, who was quietly looking on, would have Mr. Holmes
Charges would be preferred. Undoubtedly Greg would soon be journeying
homeward, his dream of the Army over.
Dick could not call out and warn Greg.
That would be a breach of discipline that would recoil surely
upon Mr. Prescott's head, making him equally guilty with his chum.
Yet, to see Greg walk unsuspectingly into the "tac.'s" hands in
this fashion! It was not to be thought of.
For two or three seconds all manner thoughts played through Dick's
But, no matter what happened to him, loyalty would not allow him
to stand by a mere mute spectator of Greg's downfall.
Prescott felt sure that he himself had not yet been seen by the
Slipping out from behind the bush, Cadet Prescott stepped briskly
along the path, bringing one hand sharply to his cap in salute.
"Captain Bates, have I your permission to speak, sir?"
Dick Prescott's voice, though not unduly loud, carried like a
pistol shot to Greg's alert ears.
Young Mr. Holmes did not immediately change his course, start
or do anything else that would betray alarm. Yet, ere Captain
Bates's voice could be heard in reply, Greg had swung slowly around,
and he came toward the path.
"Permission is granted, Mr. Prescott," replied Captain Bates---but,
oh, how coldly he spoke.
The Army officer seemed trying to look Mr. Prescott through and
through, for Bates thoroughly suspected Dick of a bold stroke
to save his friend from watchful tac. eyes.
"There was a question that came up among some of the yearlings
in camp today, sir," Dick went on, very respectfully. "I found
myself ignorant, as were some of the others, as to the correct
answer to the question. As you are the officer in charge of the
encampment, I have made bold, sir, to ask you the answer."
"Is it a matter relating directly to military tactics or discipline,
Mr. Prescott?" asked Captain Bates, speaking as coldly as before.
"Indirectly, sir, I think."
"Then state the question, Mr. Prescott."
Greg, having reached the path, halted at attention several yards
away from his bunkie.
"The question that came up, sir," continued Dick, and he was speaking
the truth, for the question had been discussed, "is whether there
is any regulation, or any tacit rule that requires a cadet of
the upper classes to attend any stated number of hops in the season,
or during the year?
"No cadet, Mr. Prescott, is required to attend any hop unless
he so elects. The single exception would be that any cadet, having
once made an engagement to attend a hop, would be bound by his
word to attend, unless he had received proper release from that
engagement. Such release, in nearly all instances, would come
from the young woman whom the cadet had invited to attend a hop
"Thank you, sir." Again Dick saluted very respectfully.
"Any other questions, Mr. Prescott?"
Dick saluted carefully. Captain Bates returned the salute, and
turned to go.
Cadet Holmes, waiting until he found himself once more in range
of the tactical officer's vision, raised his hand to his cap in
very correct salute. This salute, also, Captain Bates returned,
and then strode on toward camp.
"You came near missing me, Holmesy," Dick remarked carelessly
and in a low voice, though he felt very certain that his tone
overtook the departing tac.
In silence, at first, Greg and Dick turned and walked in the opposite
"Going to load the signal gun, eh, Greg!" chaffed Prescott.
"Yes," confessed white-faced Holmes, a quiver in his voice.
"It's a childish sport, and a dangerous one. Better leave it
to the fellows who are tired of being at West Point," advised
"Oh, what a debt I owe you, old ramrod!" cried Greg fervently.
"Not a shadow of a debt, Greg. You'd have done just the same
thing for me."
"Yes, if I could have been quick enough to think of it. But I
probably wouldn't have figured it out as swiftly as you did."
"Yes, you would," Dick retorted grimly, "for it was the only way.
What's that bulging out the front of your coat, Greg?"
"The cord," Greg confessed, with a sheepish grin.
"Better get rid of it right where you are. Even a fishline is
rope enough to hang a cadet when he gets into trouble too close
to the reveille gun."
Greg had barely tossed away the coil of cord when-----
Bang! bang! bang!
Bang! bang! BANG!
The fusillade ripped out within a hundred yards of where they
Dick and Greg halted in amazement. They did not start, or jump,
for the soldier habit was too firmly fixed with them. But they
As they stood there, staring, more explosions ripped out on the
night air, over by Battle Monument.
Cadets Prescott and Holmes could see the flashes, also, close
down near the ground, as though an infantry firing squad were
lying prostrate and firing at will.
Bang! bang! bang! The fusillade continued.
Behind the two cadets sounded running footsteps.
"Hadn't we better duck?" demanded Greg.
"No; it would look bad. We had no hand in this, and we can stick
to our word."
Over at camp, orders were ringing out. Though the two cadets
near Battle Monument heard indistinctly, they knew it was the
call for the cadet guard.
Now the nearest runner passed them. It was Captain Bates, on
a dead run, and, as Bates was not much past thirty, and an athlete,
he was getting over the ground fast.
As he passed, Bates, without slackening speed, took Dick and Greg
in with one swift glance.
Back in Gridley Dick and Greg certainly would have dashed onward
to the scene of the excitement. As young soldiers, they knew
better. Their presence over by Battle Monument had not been officially
requested. Yet, as it was not time for taps, the cadets could
and did stand where they were.
Two different armed forces were now moving swiftly forward to
reinforce the O.C., as the officer in charge is termed.
Two policemen of the quartermaster's department---enlisted men
of the Army, armed on with revolvers in holsters---ran over from
the neighborhood of the nearest officers' quarters.
Cadet Corporal Haynes and the relief of the guard, moving at double
quick, passed Dick and Greg on the path.
"Some fellows touched off firecrackers," whispered Greg to his chum.
"Number one cannon crackers," guessed Prescott.
They could see Captain Bates take a dark lantern from one of the
quartermaster's police detail, and scan the ground closely all
around where the cannon crackers had been discharged.
"Nothing more doing," muttered yearling Prescott. "We may as well
be going back to camp, Greg. But we'll lose a heap of that six hours
and a half of sleep tonight."
"Think so?" demanded Holmes moodily.
"Know it. The tac. saw us twice on this path, and he has us marked.
The O.C. and the K.C. (commandant of cadets) will hold their own
kind of court of inquiry tonight, and you and I are going to be
"We didn't set the cannon crackers off; we didn't see anyone around
the monument, and we don't know anything about it."
"All true," nodded Dick. "But we'll have to say it in all the
different styles of good English that we can think of."
Dick and Greg reached the encampment, and passed inside the limits,
just before they heard the guard marching back.
Then all was ominously quiet over at the tent of the O.C., Captain
Tattoo had gone some time ago. Now the alarm clock told the bunkies
that they had just three minutes in which to get undressed and be
in bed before taps sounded on the drum.
"It's a shame, too," muttered Dick in an undertone. "We won't
be any more than on the blanket before the summons from the O.C.
"Here it comes, now," whispered Greg, nudging his bunkie.
But it was Anstey, their tentmate, hastening to be undressed in
time against taps.
"What was the row?" asked the Virginian.
"Cannon crackers over at Battle Monument," replied Dick. "We were
over there at the time."
"You were?" asked Anstey quietly, but shooting at them a look
of amused suspicion.
So many cadets were now seeking their tents that our three bunkies
did not notice that one footstep ceased before their door, for
a moment, then passed on.
The man outside was Bert Dodge, also of the Dodge was a former
Gridley High School boy and a bitter enemy of Dick's. The origin
of that enmity was thoroughly told in the _High School Boys Series_.
During the plebe year Dodge, who was a fellow of little honor
or principle had done his best to involve Prescott in serious
trouble with the Military Academy authorities, but had failed.
Dodge, however, had succeeded in escaping detection, and had
succeeded in passing on from the plebe to the yearling class.
Anstey, however, who had been Dodge's roommate in the plebe year,
was firmly resolved that he would not be roommate to Dodge when
they returned to cadet barracks the next year.
Dodge hated all three of the bunkies in this tent, but Dick Prescott
he hated more than the other two combined.
"Yes; we were near the spot," Dick said, answering Anstey's question.
"But we didn't set off the crackers, or have anything to do with
the matter. We don't even know, or have a guess, as to who the
Though Dodge knew, in his soul, that he could believe Prescott,
it was with an evil smile that Bert now hastened on, gaining his
Taps sounded, and fifteen minutes more went by. It began to look as
though the Battle Monument affair would be allowed to go by until
morning. Greg was asleep, and Dick was just dozing off, when there
came a sharp step in the company street. The step had an official
sound to it. That step halted, suddenly, before the door of the tent
of our three bunkies.
"By order of the commandant of cadets," sounded the voice of Cadet
Corporal Haynes. "Mr. Prescott and Mr. Holmes will turn out with
all due speed, and report at the office of the officer in charge."
"Yes, sir," acknowledged Prescott, and nudged drowsy, half-awake
"Yes, sir," replied Holmes.
Dick leaped up, lighting the candle. Then he gave a slight kick
that was enough to bring Holmes apart from his blanket.
Hastily, though with soldierly neatness, the two yearlings dressed
themselves, then stepped out into the night, prepared to face
the rapid-fire gun of official curiosity.
"I RESPECTFULLY DECLINE TO ANSWER, SIR."
"Mr. Prescott reports, sir."
"Mr. Holmes reports, sir."
Saluting, the two yearlings stepped into the tent of the O.C., then
halted at attention.
Two officers returned their salutes. Captain Bates sat at his
desk. Lieutenant Colonel Strong, commandant of cadets, sat back
in lower chair at the right of Captain Bates's desk.
"Mr. Prescott," began Captain Bates, transfixing the yearling
with his burning eyes, "you and Mr. Holmes were close to Battle
Monument when the firecrackers were discharged there this evening.
"Yes, sir," Dick admitted.
"What do you know about the affair?"
"Only this, sir: That, after passing you, we walked along the
same path until we turned in not far from the monument. We were
walking toward it when we heard the discharges, and saw the flashes."
"Had you been nearer to the monument at any time through the evening,
Dick answered with great promptness.
"Mr. Prescott, have you sufficiently considered my question and your
"I will put a question of another kind. Did you see, do you know,
or have you any knowledge of any kind, of those who placed the
firecrackers by the monument, or who set them off?"
"Absolutely no knowledge, sir, on any point you mention," Dick
"Did you have any knowledge that such a breach of discipline was
"I did not, sir."
It was Colonel Strong who spoke. Dick wheeled about, saluted,
then stood at attention.
"A serious offence against military discipline has been committed
at Battle Monument tonight. Have you any knowledge about the matter
which, if in our possession, would aid in any way in clearing up the
mystery surrounding this offence?
"I have absolutely no knowledge of any form, sir, except that,
as I stated, while Mr. Holmes and I were walking toward the monument,
we heard the reports and saw the flashes."
"You realize the full import of your statement, Mr. Prescott?"
pressed the K.C.
"I do, sir."
"Then, on your honor as a cadet and a gentleman, you declare that
your statement is true?"
"I do, sir," Cadet Prescott replied.
The pledge he had just given is the most solemn that is exacted
of a United States military cadet. Usually, the cadet's plain
word is accepted as ample, for the sense of faith and honor is
paramount at West Point. A cadet detected in a lie would be forced
out of the cadet corps by the ostracism of his own comrades.
"That is all, for the present, Mr. Prescott."
Dick respectfully saluted the K.C., then the O.C., next wheeled
and marched out of the tent, going straight to his own tent.
Prescott would gladly have remained, but he had been dismissed.
It was twenty minutes later when Greg crept back into the tent and
began to undress.
"How about it?" whispered Prescott.
"I was asked more questions, but all of the same import," Holmes
answered in a whisper.
"Did the O.C. make you tell on yourself, about being over by the
"No; I thought some of his questions led that way, but my other
answers stopped him in that line. As a last resort I would
respectfully have declined to say anything to incriminate myself."
As was afterwards learned, Dick and Greg were the only witnesses
examined that night. Captain Bates had followed the only trail
at which he could guess, and had learned nothing.
* * * * * * * *
"Mr. Prescott and Mr. Holmes both have the usual excellent reputation
of cadets for truthfulness, haven't they, Captain?" asked Colonel
"Then I am afraid we shall get no further in this investigation."
"Unless, sir, my questions were so badly put as to give them a
chance of shielding themselves without giving untruthful answers.
I shall sleep on this matter tonight, Colonel. I don't want
these young men to think they can put such an easy one right over
"I wish you luck, Bates. But I'm afraid you've shot off your
only round of ammunition, and have found it a blank charge. Good
"Good night, sir."
"Mr. Prescott was clever enough to prevent my pouncing on Mr.
Holmes at the reveille gun tonight," mused the O.C. "I can hardly
suspect Mr. Prescott of untruthfulness, but I wonder whether he
has been clever enough to baffle me in this monument affair, without
telling an absolute untruth?"
For nearly a half an hour the O.C. lay awake, reviewing the method
he had followed in questioning Cadet Prescott.
In the morning, after breakfast, there were a few minutes of leisure
in camp before the squads or platoons marched away for the first
"You were on the grill, last night, old ramrod?" asked Furlong, in
a chuckling whisper.
"Yes," Dick nodded.
"You couldn't tell anything?"
"I knew less than nothing to tell."
"You didn't see us, last night, as we slipped away from the monu-----"
"Shut up, you sun-scorched idiot!" cried Prescott sharply, under
his breath. "I don't want to know anything about it now."
"Oh, that's all right, I suppose," said Mr. Furlong, looking furtively
towards Bert Dodge, who was standing some distance off.
The very thought that he was now practically certain, morally,
at least, who one of the perpetrators of the monument affair was,
made Dick uneasy. He knew there was still a danger that he and
Greg might be summoned again to the tent of the O.C.
Bert Dodge saw, from a distance, the whispered talk between Dick
and Mr. Furlong; he also saw the latter's quick, stealthy glance.
Now, Dodge, from having tried to visit Furlong the night before,
knew that the young man had returned from the hop, for he had
seen Furlong go into his tent shortly after ten. Dodge also knew
that Furlong had been absent from camp at the time of the monument
"Furlong is one of the offenders," thought Bert, "and Prescott
is roasting him about it. I suppose our highly conceited class
president thinks it his place to lecture all the jokers in the
class. But how would it be possible, without getting myself into
trouble, to pass on the hint that Prescott knows more than he
It didn't take a fellow with all of Cadet Dodge's natural meanness
very long to invent a plan that looked feasible.
Sauntering along near the guard tent, Dodge encountered a classmate
with whom he was on fairly good terms, Mr. Harper, who was waiting
to fall in when the next relief of the guard was called.
"Prescott was on the grill last night, I hear," began Bert.
"So I hear," nodded Harper.
"I guess he dodged the O.C. cold," chuckled Dodge.
"He denied any knowledge of the monument business, I've heard,"
"That sounds like old Prescott," laughed Bert. "And I'll bet
he managed it without telling any lies. I know Prescott of old.
Our family once lived in the same town with him, you know. Prescott
was one of the biggest jokers in our High School. And he never
got caught in those days. Prescott was always the artful dodger."
"What do you mean by that!" asked Harper. "You don't mean that
Prescott is untruthful."
"Oh, no, not at all," laughed Bert. "But, if I could put him
on the rack, and get the whole thing, unreservedly, out of Richard
Prescott, I'd be willing to bet, in advance, that he knows just
who set off the cannon crackers last night."
Dodge was careful not to speak so that he could be overheard by
Prescott or Furlong, yet he was certain that, on the still morning
air around the guard tent, his voice was carrying sufficiently
to penetrate to the other side of the khaki walls of the O.C.'s
"Prescott is the clever one, and the loyal one to all but tacs.,"
laughed Bert to Harper, as he strolled away. Dodge hoped that
the O.C. was in his tent.
It is true---Captain Bates was there. Having drawn the flap,
and being in the act of enjoying his morning newspaper, the O.C.
"Hang it, I felt last night that, while answering me truthfully,
Mr. Prescott was proving the possession of sufficient cleverness
to keep me off the monument trail, just as he foiled my catching
Mr. Holmes," mused the O.C. "And I said as much last night to
At that moment the flap of the tent was lifted and the K.C. returned
the salute of his subordinate, who had promptly leaped to his feet.
In a few swift, low words, Captain Bates repeated the conversation
he had just overheard.
"That bears out what you thought last night, Bates," rejoined the K.C.
"I think there is nothing for it but to have Mr. Prescott in here and
put him on the wheel again. Rack him, Bates!"
"I've just time, Colonel to catch Mr. Prescott before the drill
squads go out. Corporal of the guard!" hailed the O.C., looking
out from his tent.
In another moment a very erect young member of the guard was striding
around the head of the encampment, and then down one of the company
streets. Dick, in front of his tent, in field uniform, received
the summons and responded at once.
"Caught him!" quivered Bert Dodge. "No if that infernal humbug
will get hot-headed and answer the O.C. rashly, there may be something
good coming in the punishment line! It would be a source of wild
joy if I could get Dick Prescott on the wrong flank with the tacs.!"
The instant that Dick reported, and found himself in the presence
of his two inquisitors of the night before, he knew that some
hint of his new knowledge must have reached the tactical department.
"Mr. Prescott, last night," began Captain Bates, "you denied
absolutely having any knowledge as to the persons who set off
firecrackers near Battle Monument."
"I have since gained good reason to think," went on the O.C., "that
you know who at least one of the perpetrators was."
Mr. Prescott remained silent.
"Why do you not reply, Mr. Prescott?"
"I didn't understand, sir, that you had asked me a question."
Captain Bates flushed. He hadn't asked a question, in question
form, and he saw how neatly this cadet had "caught" him. But
that only served to increase the suspicion of both officers present
that Mr. Prescott was a very clever witness who was successfully
contriving to keep something back.
"Mr. Prescott, do you now know who was responsible for the monument
affair of last night?" insisted the O.C.
"I don't know sir," replied Dick, putting all proper emphasis
on the word.
"Yet you suspect?"
"I suspect one man, sir," Dick responded without attempt at concealment.
"Is the one you suspect a cadet?"
"His name?" broke in Lieutenant Colonel Strong.
Dick Prescott whitened a bit. He knew the chances he was taking now,
but he replied, in a clear, steady voice:
"I very respectfully decline to answer, sir!"
GREG PREPARES FOR FLIRTATION WALK
"For what reason, sir?" demanded the K.C. sharply.
Prescott opened his mouth, closed it again, without speaking,
then at last asked slowly:
"Sir, may I state my reasons in my own way?"
"Proceed, Mr. Prescott."
"My suspicion concerning a certain man, sir, does not cover a
really direct suspicion that he had a hand in the affair. His
remark led me only to infer that the man was present."
"That does not tell me, Mr. Prescott, why you have refused to
answer the question that I put to you," insisted Colonel Strong.
"My reason, sir, for respectfully declining to answer is twofold:
First, I do not know whether I am legally required to state a
suspicion only. My second reason, sir, is that to state the name
of the man I suspect would make me, in my own eyes, and in the
eyes of my comrades, a tale-bearer."
Since the K.C. had started this line of questioning, Captain Bates
remained silent. So, too, did the K.C. for some moments after
Dick had finished.
It was the first problem that faced the tactical officers---much
harder one than it would considered in civilian life.
In the first place, it is one of the highest West Point ideals
never to treat a cadet with even a trace of injustice. The young
man who is being trained to be an officer, and who will, in time,
be placed over other men, above all must be just. In no other
way can the cadet learn as much about justice as by being treated
As is the case with an accused man in the civil courts, no cadet
may be forced to testify in way that would incriminate himself.
When it comes to testifying against another the question has two
The tale-bearer, the informer, is not appreciated in the military
world. He is loathed there, as in civil life. Yet the refusal
of one cadet to testify against another might be carried, insolently,
to the point of insubordination. So, when a cadet, under questioning,
refuses to give evidence incriminating another cadet, his reason
may be accepted; or, if it appear best to the military authorities,
he may be warned that his reason is not sufficient, and then, if
he still refuses to answer, he may be proceeded against as for
disobedience of orders.
It is a fine point. The K.C. found it so at this moment. Dick
Prescott stood rigidly at attention, a fine, soldierly looking
young fellow. His face, his eyes, had all the stamp of truth
and manliness. Yet the suspicion had arisen with these two tacs.
that Mr. Prescott was a young man who was extremely clever in
giving truthful answers that shielded offending cadets.
"You have stated your position unreservedly and exactly, Mr.
Prescott?" inquired Colonel Strong at last.
"You are certain that you have not more than the merest suspicion
of the cadet off whom you have been speaking?
"I am absolutely certain, sir."
"How does it happen, Mr. Prescott, that you have this suspicion,
and absolutely nothing more?"
A cadet is not permitted to hesitate. He must answer not only
truthfully, but instantly. So Dick looked the K.C. full in the
eyes as answered:
"A cadet, sir, started to say something, and I shut him up."
"Because you did not wish to know more?"
"Yes, sir," Prescott admitted honestly.
Captain Bates fidgeted almost imperceptibly; in other words, as
much as a military man may. There were a few questions that he
wanted to ask this cadet. But it was Bates's superior officer
who was now doing the questioning.
The K.C. remained silent for perhaps half a minute. Then he said:
"That is all, at present, Mr. Prescott."
Saluting the K.C., Dick next made a slight turn which brought
him facing Captain Bates, whom he also saluted. Both officers
returned his salute. Dick wheeled and marched from the tent.
As he passed through the camp the cadet face had in it a soldierly
inexpressiveness. Even Bert Dodge, who covertly scanned Prescott
from a distance, could not guess the outcome of the "grilling."
"May I ask, Colonel, weather you agree with my opinion of Mr.
Prescott?" inquired Captain Bates.
"Your idea that he is an artful dodger?"
"If he is," replied Lieutenant Colonel Strong, "then the young
man is so very straightforwardly artful that he is likely to give
us a mountain of mischief to handle before he is brought to book."
"If I can catch him at anything by fair means," ventured Captain
Bates, "then I am going to do it."
"You are suspicious of Mr. Prescott?"
"Why, I like the young man thoroughly, sir; but I believe that,
if we do not find a means of curbing him, this summer's encampment
will be a season of unusual mischief and sly insubordination."
Perhaps there was something of a twinkle in Colonel Strong's eye
as he rose to leave the tent.
"If you do catch Mr. Prescott, Bates, I shall be interested in
knowing the particulars promptly."
Dick returned to his tent to find his bunkies gone to drills.
The summons before the O.C. had relieved Prescott from the first
period of drill.
On Dick's wardrobe box lay two letters that the mail orderly had
left for him.
Both bore the Gridley postmark. The home-hungry cadet pounced
upon both of them, seating himself and examining the handwriting
of the addresses.
One letter was from his mother. Cadet Prescott opened that first.
It was a lengthy letter. The young man ran through the pages
hurriedly, to make sure that all was well with his parents.
Now Dick held up the other letter. This also was addressed in
a feminine hand---as most of a cadet's mail is. It was a small,
square envelope, without crest or monogram, but the paper and
cut were scrupulously good and fine. It was the kind of stationery
that would be used by girl brought up in a home of refined
Dick broke the seal with a consciousness of a little thrill that
he had not felt in opening his mother's letter. Dick did not
have to look for the signature; he knew the penmanship.
"My Dear Mr. Prescott," began the letter. ("Hm!" muttered the
reader. "It used to be 'Dick'")
"Your note came as a delightfully pleasant surprise," Dick read
on ("Now, I wonder why it should have been a surprise? Great
Scott! Now, I come to think of it, I hadn't written her before
since last February!")
"Of course we are going to drop all other plans for a flying visit
to West Point," the letter ran on. "Belle is simply delighted
with the idea. She has heard from Mr. Darrin, but he suggests
September as the best time for us to visit Annapolis. So mother
will bring Belle and myself to West Point. We can spend two or
three days there. We shall arrive late on the afternoon on-----"
As Dick read the date, he gave a start.
"Why, they'll be here tomorrow afternoon," throbbed Prescott.
Then and there Prescott stood up in the low-ceilinged tent and
tossed his campaign hat up to the ridgepole. That piece of headgear
didn't have far to travel, but Dick accompanied it with an "hurrah!"
uttered almost under his breath.
"Won't Greg be the tickled boy!" murmured Prescott; joyously.
"Some one from home---and folks that we both like!"
Presently some of the drill squads returned to camp. Greg and
Anstey came in, warm and curious.
"Did you get into any trouble with the O.C., old ramrod?" questioned
Anstey in his soft voice.
"I don't believe I did," Dick answered.
Anstey nodded his congratulations.
"Greg, old fellow, guess what's going to happen soon?" demanded
"I'd rather you'd tell me."
"Folks from home! Mrs. Bentley, Laura and Belle Meade will be
here late tomorrow afternoon!
"Great!" admitted Cadet Holmes, but to Dick's ear his chum's enthusiasm
"We'll drag femmes to the hop tomorrow night, eh, Greg?"
"Anything on earth that you say, old ramrod," agreed Holmes placidly,
then stepped out of his tent to visit across the way.
"Spoony femmes?" inquired Anstey.
"Spooniest ever!" Dick declared.
"Not on your coming shoulder-straps!" retorted Prescott, an eager
look in his eyes. "And say, Anstey, you're going to the hop tomorrow
night, aren't you?
"Hadn't thought so," replied the other quietly.
"Anything else on?"
"Then be at the hop, Anstey, old bunkie--do! I want you to meet
both the young ladies, and dance at least a couple of numbers
"I reckon I'd go through fire or water for you, or Holmesy," murmured
the Virginian quietly.
"Oh, it isn't going to be anything like such an ordeal as that,"
laughed Dick happily. "Just wait until you've seen the young
ladies. That's all!"
"As they-----" Anstey paused. Then he went on, after considering:
"As they come from home, old ramrod, I should think you and Holmesy
would want them all to yourselves."
"But don't you understand, you uncivilized being," demanded Dick,
chuckling, "that we can't dance all the numbers with the girls?
It would be a slight on the girls if only two men wanted to dance
with them. Besides, we want to show them all that's best about
West Point. We want them to meet as many as possible the very
best fellows that are here."
"My deepest thanks, suh, for the compliment," replied Anstey,
with a deep bow.
"Well, that describes you, doesn't it?" demanded Dick. "We want
these girls to carry away with them the finest impression possible
of good old West Point!"
When evening came, and Prescott and Holmes strolled through camp,
listening to the band concert, Dick wanted to talk all the time
about the coming visit of the girls. Greg answered, though it
struck his chum that Holmes was merely politely enthusiastic.
"Say, Dick," whispered Greg presently, with far greater enthusiasm
than he had been displaying, "look at that black-eyed, perfectly
tinted little doll that is walking with Griffin!
"Stroll around and meet them face to face presently, then," grinned
Dick. "Griff won't mind."
"The deuce he won't" growled Greg. "I'd have a scrap on my hands,
besides being voted a butter-in."
"Try it," advised Prescott, giving his chum a little shove. "I
tell you, Griff won't mind. Her name is Griffin, too. She's his
A moment later Prescott turned and tried to gulp down a great
chuckle. For Greg, without another word, had left him, and now
was strolling along with an air of slight absorption, yet his
course was so managed as to bring Mr. Holmes face to face with
Griffin. At least a dozen other gray and white-clad young men
were also to be observed manoeuvring so as to meet Griffin casually.
Thus it happened that Greg was but one of a group. Observing
this, Holmes increased his stride.
"Hullo, Holmesy!" cried Griffin, with great cordiality. "Glad
to encounter you. I've just been telling my sister about some
of the best fellows. Della, I present Mr. Holmes. Mr. Holmes,
Greg lifted his cap in the most polished manner that he had been
able to acquire at West Point, while a dozen other men scowled
at Griffin, who appeared not to see them.
Miss Adele Griffin was presently chatting most animatedly about
her new impressions of West Point and the United States Military
"Holmesy, you know so much more about things than I do," pleaded
Griffin sweetly, "just be good to Dell for an hour, won't you?
You're one of the best-informed men here. Now, mind you, Dell!
No fun at Mr. Holmes's expense. Look out for her, Holmesy!"
With that Griffin "slid away" as gracefully and neatly as though
he hadn't been planning to do it all along.
"Your brother has always been mighty pleasant to me, but he never
was as downright good before," murmured Greg, looking down into
the big black eyes that glanced laughingly up into is face.
"Oh, if you are ordinarily observant," laughed Miss Griffin, "just