Part 2 out of 4
keep your eyes on a level, and you'll be able, in five minutes,
to understand why he is so good to you in the present instance."
Nevertheless, it was fully ten minutes before they met Griff again.
That young man was talking, with all animation, to a tall, rather
stately blonde young lady.
"My brother," remarked Miss Griffin, "is good boy, but he is
calculating, even in his goodness.
"I don't like to hear a word said against Griff," protested Greg,
"for I feel that I'm under the greatest obligation of my life
Miss Griffin laughed easily, but she glanced up challengingly
into the eyes of her tall escort. Miss Griffin had heard of the
gallantries of West Point's men, and didn't propose to be caught.
"You must find the cadets a good deal below your expectations?"
remarked Mr. Holmes inquiringly.
"No; they're a wholly charming lot," replied the girl. "Oh, that
word 'lot' simply escaped me. Yet it does seem rather apt. Don't
you think, Mr. Holmes, that the wearing of identical uniforms
gives the young men rather the look of a 'lot'?"
Greg felt just a bit crestfallen, but he wasn't going to show it.
"Why, I don't know," he replied slowly. "Some of the young ladies
who come here seem able to distinguish units in the lot."
"Differences in height, and variations in the color of hair and
eyes? Is that it?" asked Miss Griffin, with an air of mild curiosity.
"Why, perhaps we're like Chinamen?" laughed Greg good-naturedly.
"Pig-tailed and blue-bloused Chinese all look alike at first
glance. Gradually, however, one is able to note individual
peculiarities of appearance."
"Yes, I guess that's it, Mr. Holmes," replied the girl musingly.
"Now, I won't ask you to tax yourself unpleasantly in distinguishing
one cadet from another," Greg went on bravely. "But I am hoping,
with all my heart, that you'll know me the next time you meet me."
"I can tell you how to make certain," responded Miss Griffin demurely.
"Then I shall be your debtor for life!"
"Wear a red carnation in your blouse, and carry a white handkerchief
in your left hand."
"You're cruel," sighed Greg.
"Why?" demanded Miss Griffin.
"Both tests that you suggest are against cadet regulations. Let
me suggest a better test?"
"If you can?" challenged Miss Griffin.
The band, at this moment, was playing a Strauss waltz. The young
people had strolled just a bit beyond the encampment, and now
Greg compelled a halt under the added shadow of a big tree.
"The test I long to suggest," replied Greg, "is so exacting that
I hesitate to ask it."
"My curiosity is aroused," complained Miss Griffin.
"I had it in mind to ask you to look up into my face until you are
certain that you will recognize it again."
"Mercy!" gasped the black-eyed beauty.
"I knew I was presumptuous and inconsiderate," admitted Greg meekly.
None the less, Miss Griffin laughed and stood looking coyly up
into Mr. Holmes's face. But at last, feeling absurd, Miss Griffin
shifted her glance.
"I knew I was asking too much," remarked Greg in a tone of resignation.
"You couldn't stand it, could you?"
Laughing merrily, Miss Griffin turned her look upward again, meeting
Greg Holmes's gray eyes.
Then, after a few moments, she remarked thoughtfully:
"My brother was over-solicitous in fearing that I would embarrass
you in the least."
"Are you going to be at the hop tomorrow night?" Greg asked.
"I---would like to."
"Can it be possible," queried Mr. Holmes, "that I am so fortunate
as to be discreet in asking whether I may escort you there?"
"If you care to be so charitable, Mr. Holmes."
Greg had a moment's uneasy impulse to seize her hand by way of
answer. Fortunately, he restrained himself.
"If I call for you at the hotel tomorrow evening, Miss Griffin,
may I hope that you will recognize me?" he challenged.
"I will take another look and make sure," she laughed softly,
glancing up archly into Greg's face.
As the concert drew to a close Greg had to make a decent show
of trying to find Griffin, and he succeeded. Griffin was still
with the tall blonde. Griffin had permission to go to the hotel,
and Greg didn't. So Greg strolled with Miss Griffin until near
the hotel grounds. Then he bade her a cordial good night, and
Griff escorted both "femmes" to the hotel.
"What do you think of Holmesy?" asked Griffin of his sister.
"He's quite agreeable," replied Adele Griffin. "Very soldierly, if
I am any judge. I wonder how he will look in a second lieutenant's
As our three bunkies prepared for bed that night Prescott remarked:
"Tomorrow, Greg, we'll see the folks from home! I hope you'll
do nothing, though, to make Dave Darrin dislike you."
"I won't," promised Greg solemnly. Then: "Oh, great---Jove!
"Well?" demanded Dick. "What have you done?
"I've asked another femme to accept my drag to-morrow night!
"Anstey," continued Dick, turning quickly to hide a frown, "I shall
have to draft you!"
"I was bo'n and reared a gentleman, suh!" replied the Virginian,
with cordial gravity.
THE FOLKS FROM HOME
Two tall, superbly erect young men, showing the soldier in every
line of bearing, stepped jauntily along the road leading to the
hotel just before five o'clock.
Each wore the fatigue cap of the cadet, the trim gray, black-trimmed
blouse of the cadet uniform. Their white duck trousers were the
spooniest as to spotlessness and crease.
Dick and Greg went straight to the hotel office.
"The register, please," asked Prescott, for the clerk's back was
turned over some work that he was doing.
This was not a request for the hotel register but for the cadet
register. Understanding, the clerk turned and passed a small
book known as the cadet register. He opened it to the page for
the day, while Prescott was reaching for a pen.
In this register both young men inscribed their names. Each had
secured permission from the O.C. to visit the hotel. At the close
of every day, a transcript of the day's signatures by cadets is
taken, and this transcript goes to the O.C. The clerk will send no
cards for cadets who have not first registered. The transcript of
registry, which goes to the O.C., enables the latter to make sure
that no cadets have visited the hotel without permission.
Prescott laid down his visiting card. Holmes laid another beside it.
"Are Mrs. Bentley, Miss Bentley and Miss Meade here?" queried Dick.
After consulting the hotel register the clerk nodded.
"Our cards to Mrs. Bentley, please."
"Front! Fifty-seven!" called the clerk to a bellboy.
"Thank you," acknowledged Prescott.
"Wheeling, the young men turned from the office, striding down
the hotel veranda side by side. They turned in at the ladies'
entrance, then, caps in hand, stood waiting in the corridor.
It is a rule that a cadet must enter no part of the hotel
except the parlor. He must see his friends either there, or on
the veranda. There is a story told that a general officer's wife
visited West Point, for the first time, to see her son, a new
cadet at West Point. The plebe son called---with permission---sent
up his card, and was summoned to his mother's room. He went.
A few minutes later there was a knock at the door. The clerk
stood there, apologetic but firm.
"I am very sorry, madam, but the regulations provide that your
son can visit you only in the parlor."
"But I am the wife of Major General Blank!" exclaimed the surprised
"But, Mrs. Blank, your son is a cadet, and subject to the regulations
on the subject. He must either go to the parlor at once, or leave
the hotel instantly. If he refuses to do either I am forced to
telephone to the tactical officer in charge."
The general's wife was therefore obliged to descend to the parlor
with her plebe son.
No other room but the parlor! This prohibition extends even to
the dining room. The cadet may not, under any circumstances,
accept an invitation from a friend or relative to take a sociable
meal with either.
"Tyrannous" and "needlessly oppressive," are terms frequently
applied by outsiders to the rules that hedge in cadets, but there
is a good reason behind every regulation.
Two or three minutes later a middle-aged woman came slowly down
the staircase, gazing about her. At last her glance settled,
with some bewilderment on Dick and Greg, who were the only two
cadets in the corridor.
"Why, I believe you must be Mr. Prescott and Mr. Holmes!" exclaimed
Mrs. Bentley, moving forward and holding out both hands. "Yes;
I am certain of it," she added, as Dick and Greg, bowing gracefully
from the waistline, smiled goodhumoredly. "Mercy! But how you
boys have grown! I am not sure that it is even proper to call you
boys any longer."
"If we were boys any longer, Mrs. Bentley, I am sure you would
be in doubt," laughed Dick easily. "Yes; you see, cadets, under
their training here, usually do shoot up in the air. We have
some short, runty cadets, however."
Just then there was a flutter and a swish on the stairs. Laura
Bentley and Belle Meade came gliding forward, their eyes shining.
"Yes; I know you both and could tell you apart," cried Laura,
laughing, as she held out her hand. "But what a tremendous change!"
"Do you think it is a change for the better?" asked Dick, smiling.
"Oh, I am sure that it is. Isn't it, Belle? A how wonderfully
glad I am to see you both again."
Dick gazed at Laura with pride. He had no right to feel proud,
except that she was from Gridley, and that she had come all the
way to West Point to see him in his new life.
Laura Bentley, too, had changed somewhat, though not so much as
had her cadet friends. She was but a shade taller, somewhat rounder,
and much more womanly in an undefinable way. She was sweeter
looking in all ways---Dick recognized that much at a glance.
Her eyes rested upon him, and then more briefly upon Greg, in
utter friendliness free from coquetry.
"Can't you get excused and take us over to dress parade?" asked
Dick turned to look more closely at Miss Meade. Yes; she, too,
was changed, and wholly for the better as far as charm of appearance
and manner went. Both girls had lost the schoolgirl look. They
were, indeed, women, even if very young ones.
"We can hardly get excused from any duty," Dick smiled. "But
to-day---a most unusual thing---there is no dress parade."
"No parade?" exclaimed Mrs. Bentley in a tone of disappointment.
"No; the officers are entertaining some distinguished outside
visitors at Cullum Hall this afternoon, and the band is over at
Cullum," Greg explained.
"I am so sorry," murmured Mrs. Bentley.
"But you will be here until the close of tomorrow afternoon?"
asked Dick eagerly.
"We had planned to go away about eleven in the forenoon," replied
"Then you girls would miss a stroll along Flirtation Walk," suggested
Cadet Prescott. "It is a very strange thing for a young lady
to go away from West Point and confess that she has not had cadet
escort along Flirtation Walk."
"Then we must stay until to-morrow afternoon; may we not, mother?"
"Yes; for I wish you to see the most of West Point and its famous
"Then to-morrow afternoon you will be able, also, to see dress
parade," Dick suggested.
"Do you forget that tomorrow is Sunday? asked Mrs. Bentley.
"No; we have dress parade on Sunday."
Mrs. Bentley looked puzzled. To her it seemed almost sacrilegious
to parade on Sunday!
"Wait until you have seen our dress parade," Greg begged. "Then
you will understand. It is really as impressive as a religious
ceremony; it is the last honors of each day to our country's flag."
"Oh," murmured Mrs. Bentley, looking relieved.
By this time the little party had moved out on to the veranda.
"As there is no dress parade this afternoon," urged Dick, "may
we not take you over, and let you see our camp from the outside.
Then, after supper, we may, if you wish, take you to the camp
for a look before going to the hop."
"As to supper," went on Mrs. Bentley, "you two young gentlemen
must come to the hotel a take the meal with us. Wait; I will
send word to the office that we shall have guests."
"If you do, you will give the clerk cause for a jolly smile,"
explained Prescott, smiling. "No cadet can possibly eat at the
hotel. There are many regulations that will surprise you, Mrs.
Bentley. I will explain as many as occur to me."
Prescott walked between Mrs. Bentley and Laura, while Greg came
along with Belle just behind them.
"Are you taking me to the hop tonight, Mr. Holmes?" asked Belle
with her usual directness.
Poor Greg, seasoned cadet though he was, flushed uncomfortably.
"I should be," stammered Greg, "but it happens that I am already
engaged to drag---to escort a young lady to tonight's hop."
"I like that word 'drag' better than 'escort'," laughed Belle.
"But Mr. Anstey, our tentmate, is to escort you tonight," Greg
made haste to explain.
"That is the first I have heard of it," replied Belle, with an
odd smile. "Does Mr. Anstey know about it, either?"
"Don't make fun of me," begged Holmes quickly. "Miss Meade, there
are many customs here that are strange to outsiders. But they
are very old customs."
"Some of them, I suppose," laughed Belle, "so old that they should
"All cadets are regarded as gentlemen," hurried on Greg. "Therefore,
any cadet may be a suitable escort for a young woman. If one
cadet has two young lady friends coming to the hop, for instance,
he asks one of his comrades to escort one of his friends. Why,
a cadet who, for any reason, finds himself unable to attend a
hop, after he has invited a young lady, may arrange with anyone
of his comrades to call for the young lady in his place."
"What if she should decline the unknown substitute who reported
to fill the task?" teased Belle.
"It would betray her unfamiliarity with West Point," replied Greg,
with more spirit than Belle had expected from this once very quiet
young man. "Miss Meade, we look upon a our comrades here as gentlemen.
We regard the man whom we may send in our place as being more
worthy than ourselves. Isn't it natural, therefore, that we should
expect the young lady to feel honored by the substitution in the
way of escort?
"Wholly so," Belle admitted. "If I have said anything that sounded
inconsiderate, or too light, you will forgive me, won't you, Mr.
"You haven't offended, and you couldn't," Greg replied courteously;
"for I never take offence where none is meant, and you would be
incapable of intending any."
The young people ahead were talking very quietly. Laura, indeed,
did not wish to talk much. She was taken up with her study of
the changed---and improved---Dick Prescott.
"Do you know, Dick," she asked finally, "I am more pleased over
your coming to West Point than over anything else that could have
happened to you."
"Why?" Dick asked.
"Because the life here has made such a rapid and fine change in
"You are sure it has made such a change?" Dick inquired.
"Yes; you were a manly boy in Gridley, but you are an actual man,
now, and I am certain that the change has been made more quickly
here than would have happened in any other life."
"One thing I can understand," pursued Laura. "The life here is
one that is full of purpose. It must be. It takes purpose and
downright hard work to change two young men as you and Greg have
By this time the little party was close to the west, or road side
of the encampment.
"Isn't that Bert Dodge over there?" asked Laura, after gazing rather
intently at a somewhat distant cadet.
"That is Mr. Dodge, Laura."
"Do you care to call him over to speak with us?" asked Mrs. Bentley.
"If you wish it," Dick responded evenly.
Laura looked at him quickly.
"Are you and Mr. Dodge no better friends here than at Gridley?"
she asked in a low tone.
"Mr. Dodge and I are classmates, but we are thrown together very
little," Dick replied quietly.
"I do not think we care about speaking with Mr. Dodge, do we,
mother?" inquired Laura.
"There is no need to," replied Mrs. Bentley.
At that moment Bert Dodge espied the little party. After a short,
but curious stare, Bert turned and came toward them.
CADET DODGE HEARS SOMETHING
It was an embarrassing position. So, at least, thought Laura
"Let us walk on," she suggested, turning as though she had not
"Humph!" muttered Dodge, turning his own course. "The girls are
showing their backs to me. Humph! Not that I care about them
particularly, but folks back in Gridley will be asking them if
they saw me, and they'll answer that they didn't speak with me.
There's no use in running into a snub, out here in the open.
But it's easy! I'll stag it at the hop tonight, and I can get
within range before they can signal me to keep away."
Smiling grimly, Dodge went to his tent.
After a while it was necessary for Dick and Greg to take their
friends back to the hotel, for the cadets must be on hand punctually
for supper formation.
"Mr. Anstey and I will call for you at 7:30, if we may," said
"We shall be ready," Laura promised. "And that we may not keep
you waiting, we'll be down on the veranda."
And waiting they were. Dick and Anstey found Mrs. Bentley and
the girls seated near the ladies' entrance.
Anstey, the personification of southern grace and courtesy, made
his most impressive greetings to the ladies. His languid eyes
took in Laura Bentley at a glance, almost, and he found her to
be all that Prescott had described. Belle Meade won Anstey's
quick approval, though nothing in his face betrayed the fact.
At first glance, it appeared that both girls were very simply
attired in white, but they had spent days in planning the effects
of their gowning. Everything about their gowning was most perfectly
attuned. Above all, they looked what they were---two sweet,
wholesome, unaffected young women.
"We have time now for a short stroll to camp," proposed Prescott.
"If you would like it, you can see how we live in summer. The
camp is lighted, now."
So they strolled past the heads of the streets of the camp. At
the guard tent, Dick and Anstey explained the routine of guard
duty, in as far as it would be interesting to women. They touched,
lightly, upon some of the pranks that are played against the cadet
Wherever Mrs. Bentley and the girls passed, cadet friends lifted
their caps to the ladies with Prescott and Anstey, the salutes
being punctiliously returned.
Bert Dodge was in a rage. He could not get so much as the courtesy
of a bow from these girls whom he had known for years. He was
being cut dead and he knew it, and the humiliation of the thing
was more than he could well bear. A half hour later, he saw the
party coming, and discreetly took himself out of sight.
"I can play my cards at the hop," he muttered.
The over to Cullum Hall, through the dark night, the little party
strolled, one of many similar parties.
Once inside Cullum Hall, Prescott and Anstey, looking mightily
like young copies of Mars in their splendid dress uniforms, conducted
the ladies to seats at the side of the ballroom. Dick and Anstey
next took the ladies' light wraps and went with them to the cloak
room, after which they passed on to the coat room and checked their
Laura and Belle gazed about them with well-bred curiosity---Mrs.
Bentley, too---at the other guests of the evening, who were arriving
rapidly. The scene was one of animated life. It would have been
hard to say whether the handsome gowns of the young ladies, or
the cadet dress uniforms, gave more life and spirit to the scene.
As Prescott and Anstey returned across the ballroom floor the
orchestra started a preliminary march. Both young cadets fell
unconsciously in step close to the door, and came marching, side
by side, soldierly---perfect!
"What splendid, manly young fellows!" breathed Laura admiringly
to Belle. Her mother, too, heard.
"Be careful, Laura," advised her mother, smilingly. "Don't lose
your heart to a scrap of gray cloth and a brass button."
"Don't fear," smiled Miss Bentley happily. "When I lose my heart
it shall be to a man! And how many of them we see here tonight
Nearly with the precision of a marching platoon the two young
men halted before the ladies. Yet there was nothing of stiff
formality about either Prescott or Anstey. They stood before
their friends, chatting lightly.
"Tell us about some of the other hops that you have attended before,"
begged Belle Meade.
"But we haven't attended any," Dick replied. "Do you recall my
promise in Gridley, Miss Bentley---that I would invite you to
my first hop as soon as I was eligible to attend one?"
"Yes," nodded Laura smilingly.
"This is my first hop," Dick said, smilingly.
"Mine, too," affirmed Anstey.
"Gracious!" laughed Belle merrily. "I hope you both know how
"We put in weary lessons as plebes, under the dancing master,"
"But you danced well in Gridley," protested Laura.
"Thank you. But the style is a bit different at West Point."
"You make me uneasy," pouted Belle.
"Then that uneasiness will vanish by the time you are half through
with the first number."
"There comes Mr. Holmes," discovered Laura. "What a remarkably
pretty girl with him."
"Mr. Griffin's sister," said Dick.
"Isn't that Mr. Dodge?" murmured Laura.
Dick only half turned, but his sidelong glance covered the doorway.
"Yes; he appears to be stagging it."
Bert presently disappeared. As a cadet always claims the first
number or two with the young lady whom he has "dragged" hither,
"staggers" have to wait until later in the programme.
Then, presently the music for the opening dance struck up. Dick
had already presented Furlong, a "stagger," to Mrs. Bentley, so
that she was not left alone. Furlong had asked the pleasure of
a dance with Laura's mother, but Mrs. Bentley, with instinctive
tact, realized that the older women did not often dance at cadet
hops. So she begged Mr. Furlong to remain with her and tell her
about the cadet hops.
As the music struck up, and Dick bent before her, he thrilled
with the grace and unaffected friendliness with which Laura rose
and rested one hand on his shoulder. She was a woman, and a
magnificent one! Away they whirled, Anstey and Belle following.
"I greatly enjoyed the High School hops of former days," sighed
Laura, "but this is finer."
"Same escort," murmured Dick.
"Same name, but in many ways much changed," laughed Miss Bentley.
"Dick, I am so glad you came to West Point."
"So am I," he answered simply.
The first two numbers they danced together, then changed partners
for the third dance. Between times, Greg had appeared with Miss
Griffin and introductions had followed. Dick's fourth number
was danced with Miss Griffin, while Anstey led her out for the
For that fifth dance Dick introduced one of his classmates to
Laura, and, during that dance, Prescott stood and chatted with
Mrs. Bentley. He saw to it that Laura's mother was very seldom
without company through the evening.
The sixth dance Dick enjoyed with Laura.
"I had a reason for waiting and asking for this dance," he murmured
in her ear.
"Yes?" challenged Laura.
"I discovered that it is the longest number on the programme.
I would dearly love the next number, also, but I must not make
the evening too dull and prosy for you. Will you trust me to
select your partner for the next dance?"
"I am wholly in your hands," smiled Miss Bentley.
After Dick had conducted Laura to a seat beside her mother he
stepped away to find Sennett, of the yearling class.
"Sennett," murmured Dick banteringly, "I have seen you casting
eyes at Miss Bentley."
"I fear I must plead my guilt, old ramrod. Are you going to present
"For the next dance. I think, if you are very much on your guard,
Sennett, you will pass for enough of a gentleman for a few minutes."
"I'll call you out for that on Monday," retorted the other yearling,
in mock wrath. "But, for the present, lead me over that I may
prostrate myself at the feet of the femme."
So Dick stood beside Mrs. Bentley and watched Laura dance with
one of the most popular fellows of the class. As Sennett and
Laura returned to Mrs. Bentley, Cadet Dodge suddenly slipped up
as though from nowhere.
"Miss Bentley," he murmured, bowing before Laura, after having
greeted her mother, "I am presumptuous enough to trust that you
"Perfectly, Mr. Dodge," replied Laura in her even tones. "How
do you do?"
She did not offer her hand; within the limits of perfectly good
breeding it was her privilege to withhold it without slight or
"How have you been since the old High School days?"
"Perfectly well, thank you."
"And you, Mrs. Bentley?" asked Dodge, again bowing before her
"Very well, thank you, Mr. Dodge," replied Mrs. Bentley, who subtly
took her cue from her daughter.
"Now, Miss Bentley, you are not going to leave a broken heart
behind you at West Point?" urged Bert softly. "You are going
to let me write my name on your dance card---even if only once."
"You should have spoken earlier, Mr. Dodge," laughed Laura. "Every
dance, if not already taken, is good as promised."
Yearling Dodge could not conceal his chagrin. At that moment
Belle Meade returned with one of the tallest cadets on the floor.
Bert greeted her effusively. Belle returned the greeting as evenly
and as perfectly as Laura had done---but nothing more.
"Miss Meade, you are going to be tenderhearted enough to flatter
me with one dance?" begged Dodge.
"Oh, I am so sorry!" replied Belle, in a tone of well-bred regret
that carried with it nothing more than courtesy, "but I'm promised
for every dance."
Cadets Prescott and Sennett had turned slightly aside. So had
Belle's late partner. Dodge knew that they were laughing inwardly
at his Waterloo. And Anstey and Greg, who stood by at this moment,
appeared to be wearing inscrutable grins. Dodge made his adieus
hurriedly, walking up the ballroom just ahead of Furlong, who
also had observed. Bert felt sure so many of his comrades had
seen and enjoyed his plight that his fury was at white heat as
he stepped just outside the ballroom.
Furlong came after him, looking at him quizzically.
"We staggers have a hard time of it, eh, Dodge?" grinned Mr. Furlong.
"Are you referring to the two femmes I was just billing?" shot
out Dodge impetuously. "Oh, they're very inconsequential girls!"
Mr. Furlong drew himself up very straight, his eyes flashing fire.
"You dog!" he exclaimed, in utter disgust.
Yearling Dodge turned ghastly white.
"You---you didn't understand me. Let me explain," he urged.
"You can't explain a remark like yours," muttered Mr. Furlong
over his shoulder, as he turned his back on Bert.
To be called a "dog" has but one sequence in cadet world. Bert
Dodge had to send his seconds to Mr. Furlong before taps. Though
they must have loathed their task, had they known the whole story,
the seconds made arrangements with Mr. Furlong's representatives.
Before reveille the next morning Bert Dodge stood up for nearly
two rounds before the sledgehammer fists of Mr. Furlong.
When it was over, Dodge sought cadet hospital, remaining there
until Monday morning, and returning to camp looking somewhat the
worse for wear.
Along with truth, honor and courtesy, tenderest chivalry toward
woman is one of the fairest flowers of the West Point teaching.
Fellows like yearling Dodge cannot be taught. They can only
be insulted to the fighting point, and then pummelled. Cadet
Furlong went to considerable inconvenience, though uncomplainingly,
for two young women whom he had not the pleasure of knowing.
SPOONY FEMME---FLIRTATION WALK
"So this is Flirtation Walk?" asked Belle Meade.
The four young people---Anstey was one of them---had just turned
into the famous path, which begins not far to the eastward of
the hotel. It was between one and two o'clock on Sunday afternoon.
"This is Flirtation Walk," replied Mr. Anstey.
"But is one compelled to flirt, on this stroll?" asked Belle, with a
"By no means," Anstey hastened to assure her. "Yet the surroundings
often bring out all there may be of slumbering inclination to
"Where did the walk ever get such a name?" pursued Belle.
"Really, you have to see the first half of it before you can quite
comprehend," the Virginian told her.
"I suppose you have been over this way times innumerable?" teased
"Hardly," replied Anstey seriously. "I have been a yearling only
a few days."
"But is a plebe forbidden to stroll here?"
"If a plebe did have the brass to try it," replied Anstey slowly,
"I reckon he would have to fight the whole yearling class in turn."
Laura caught some of the conversation, and turned to Dick.
"Haven't plebes any rights or privileges?" she asked.
"Oh, yes, indeed," replied Prescott gravely. "A plebe is fed
three meals a day, like anyone else. If he gets hurt he has a
right to medical and surgical attendance. He is allowed to attend
chapel on Sunday, just like an upper classman, and he may receive
and write letters. But he mustn't butt into upper-class privileges."
"Poor plebe!" sighed sympathetic Laura.
"Lucky plebe!" amended Dick.
"Weren't you fearfully glum and homesick last year?
"Some of the time, desperately so."
"Yet you believe it is right to ignore a plebe, and to make him
"The upper classmen don't make the plebe wretched. The plebe is
just on probation while he's in the fourth class---that's all.
The plebe is required to prove that he's a man before he's accepted
"It all seems dreadfully hard," contended Laura.
"It is hard, but necessary, if the West Point man is to be graduated
as anything but a snob with an enlarged cranium. Laura, you remember
what a fuss the 'Blade' made over me when I won my appointment?
Now, almost every new man come to West Point with some such splurge
made about him at home. He reaches here thinking he's one of
the smartest fellows in creation. In a good many cases, too,
the fellow has been spoiled ever since he was a baby, by being
the son of wealthy parents, or by being from a family distinguished
in some petty local social circles. The first move here, on the
part of the upper classmen, is to take all of that swelling out
of the new man's head. Then, most likely, the new man has never
had any home training in being really manly. Here, he must be
a man or get out. It takes some training, some probation, some
hard knocks and other things to make a man out of the fellow.
He has to be a man, if he's going to be fit to command troops."
Anstey, who had been walking close behind his comrade, added:
"The new man, if he has been spoiled at home, usually comes here
with a more or less bad temper. He can't talk ugly here, or double
his fists, or give anyone black looks---except with one invariable
"What?" asked both girls eagerly.
"He must fight, as soon as the meeting can be arranged," replied
"That sounds rather horrible!" shuddered Laura.
"Does it?" asked Dick dryly. "We're being trained here for fighting
"But what do they fight about?" inquired Belle.
"Well, one man, who probably will never be thought of highly again,"
replied Anstey, "spoke slightingly of a girl at the hop last night.
The cadet who heard him didn't even know the girl, but he called
the cadet a 'dog' for speaking that way of a woman."
"What happened?" inquired Laura.
"The man who was called a 'dog' was, according to our code, compelled
to call his insulter out."
"Are they going to fight?" asked Belle eagerly.
"The 'dog' was whipped at the first streak of daylight this morning,"
the Virginian answered. "That particular 'dog' is now in a special
little kennel at the hospital. Hasn't he learned anything? He
knows more about practical chivalry than he did last night."
"This talk is getting a bit savage," laughed Dick. "Let me call
your attention to the beauty of the view here."
The view was, indeed, a striking one. The two couples had halted
at a rock-strewn point on the walk. The beauty of the woods was
all about them.
Through the trees to the east they could see the Hudson, almost
at their feet, yet far below them. Looking northward, they saw
a noble sweep of the same grand river, above the bend.
"Come forward a bit" urged Anstey of Belle. "I want to show you
a beautiful effect across the river."
As they passed on, just out of sight, Greg Holmes came along,
talking animatedly with Miss Griffin. At sight of Laura, Greg
halted, and the four young people chatted. At last Holmes and
Miss Griffin passed on to speak to Belle.
"I feel as if I could spend an entire day on this beautiful spot,"
murmured Laura contentedly.
"Let me fix a seat for you," begged Dick, spreading his handkerchief
on a flat rock.
Laura thanked him and sat down. Dick threw himself on the grass
beside the rock.
Then Laura told him a lot of the home-town news, and they talked
over the High School days to their hearts' content.
"I don't know that I've ever seen such a beautiful spot as it
is right at this part of the walk," spoke Laura presently, after
a few couples had strolled above them. "And such beautiful wild
flowers! Look at the honeysuckle up there. I really wish I could
get some of that to take back to the hotel. I could press it
before it withered."
"It is easily enough obtained," smiled Dick, rising quickly.
"O-o-o-h! Don't, please!" called Miss Bentley uneasily, for Dick,
after examining the face of the little cliff for footing, had
begun to scale up toward the honeysuckle.
"Hold your parasol---open," he directed, looking down with a smile.
In another moment he was tossing down the beautiful blossoms into
the open parasol that Miss Bentley held upside down.
"How would you like some of these ferns?" Dick called down, pulling
out a sample by the roots and holding it out to view.
"Oh, if you please!"
Several ferns fell into the upturned parasol. Then Dick scrambled
down, resuming his lounging seat on the grass, while Laura examined
her treasures and chatted.
"What a splendid, thoroughbred girl she has become!" kept running
through Prescott's mind.
Every detail, from the tip of her small, dainty boot, peeping out
from under the hem of the skirt, up to the beautiful coloring of her
face and the purity of her low, white feminine brow Dick noted in
turn. He had never seen Laura look so attractive, not even in her
dainty ball finery of the night before. He had never felt so
strongly drawn toward her as he did now. He longed to tell her so,
and not lightly, either, but with direct, manly force and meaning.
Though Cadet Prescott's face showed none of his temptation, he
found himself repeatedly on the dangerous brink of sentimentality.
Since coming to West Point he had seen many charming girls, yet
not one who appealed to him as did this dainty one from his own
home town and the old, bygone school days.
But Dick tried to hold himself back. He had, yet, nothing to
offer the woman whom he should tell of his love. He was by no
means certain that he would finally graduate from the Military
Academy. Without a place in life, what had he to offer? Would
it be fair or honorable to seek to capture the love of this girl
when his own future was yet so uncertain?
Yet caution and prudence seemed more likely to fly away every
time he glanced at this dear girl. In desperation Dick rose quickly.
"Laura," he said softly, "if we remain here all afternoon there
is a lot that we shall fail to see. Are you for going on with
Laura Bentley looked up at him with something of a little start.
Perhaps she, too, had been thinking, but a girl may not speak
all that passes in her mind.
"Yes," she answered; "let us keep on."
Dick, as he walked beside her, was tortured with the feeling that
Laura Bentley might not wait long before making her choice of
men in the world. Some other fellow, more enterprising than he,
"But it wouldn't be fair!" muttered Prescott to himself. "I have
no right to ask her to tie herself for years, and then perhaps
Laura thought her cadet companion appeared a bit absent minded
during the rest of the walk. Who shall know what passes in a
girl's innermost mind? Perhaps she divined what was moving in
As they passed by the coast battery, then came up by Battle Monument,
and so to the hotel, they found Greg and Anstey leaning against
the veranda railing, chatting with Belle and Miss Griffin. These
latest arrivals joined the others. Mrs. Bentley at last came
down and joined them.
Thrice, in duty bound, Dick glanced at his watch. The third time
a sigh full of bitterness escaped him.
"This is the meanest minute in my life," he declared. "It is
time to say good-bye, for we must get back to camp and into full-dress
uniform for parade."
"But shall we not see you after parade? asked Laura, looking
up quickly, an odd look flitting over her face.
"No; we are soldiers, and move by schedule," signed Dick. "After
parade there will be other duties, then supper. And you are going
at the end of parade!"
Bravely Prescott faced the farewells, though he knew more of the
wrench than even Laura could have guessed.
"But you will come again in winter?" he murmured in a low voice
"If mother permits," she answered, looking down at her boot tip,
then up again, smiling, into his face.
"Mrs Bentley, you'll bring the girls here again, this winter,
won't you?" appealed Dick.
"If Dr. Bentley and Belle's parents approve, I'll try to," answered
Then came the leave-takings, brief and open. With a final lifting
of their caps Dick and the others turned and strode down the path.
Laura and Belle gazed after them until the young men had disappeared
into the encampment.
But you may be sure the girls were over on the parade ground by
the time that the good old gray battalion had turned out and marched
over, forming in battalion front.
It was a beautiful sight. Mrs. Bentley wasn't martial, but as
she looked on at that straight, inflexible wall of gray and steel,
as the band played the colors up to the right of line, the good
matron was thinking to herself:
"What a pity that the country hasn't a thousand such battalions
of the flower of young American manhood! Then what fear could
we know in time of war?"
The girls looked on almost breathlessly, starting at the boom
of the sunset gun, then thrilling with a new realization of what
their country meant when the band crashed out in the exultant
strains of the "Star Spangled Banner" and the Stars and Stripes
fluttered down at West Point, to rise on another day of the nation's
It was over, and the visitors took the stage to the railway station.
What a fearfully dull evening it seemed in camp! Dick had never
known the time to hang so heavily. He would almost have welcomed
Over in another tent near by a "soiree" was in full but very quiet
blast, for that bumptious plebe, Mr. Briggs, had been caught in
more mischief, and was being "instructed" by his superiors in
length of service.
Prescott, however, didn't even look in to see what was happening.
* * * * * * * *
"Isn't West Point life glorious, Belle?" asked Laura eagerly as
the West Shore train carried them toward New York.
"Fine!" replied Belle enthusiastically. "But still---wait until
we have seen Annapolis."
At ten o'clock the next morning the young ladies and Mrs. Bentley
were traveling in a Pullman car, on another stage of their journey.
"I wonder what our young cadets are doing?" Laura wondered
aloud, as she leaned forward.
"Enjoying themselves, you may be sure," Mrs. Bentley replied promptly,
with a smile.
"That summer encampment seems like one long, huge lark," put in
Belle Meade. "It must be great for young men to be able to enjoy
themselves so thoroughly."
"I wonder just what our young men are doing at this moment?" persisted
"Well, if they're not dressing for something," calculated Mrs.
Bentley, "you may be sure they're moving about looking as elegant
as ever and making themselves highly agreeable in a social way."
Ye gods of war! At that very moment Dick, in field uniform,
and dripping profusely under the hot sun, was carrying a long
succession of planks, each nearly as long and heavy as he could
manage, to other cadets who waited to nail them in place on a
pontoon bridge out over an arm of the Hudson. Greg Holmes was
one of four young men toiling at the rope by which they were
endeavoring to drag a mountain howitzer into position up a steep
slope near Crow's Nest, while Anstey, studying field fortification,
was digging in a trench with all his might and main.
THE CURE FOR PLEBE ANIMAL SPIRITS
So the weeks slipped by.
Up at five in the morning, busy most of the time until six in
the evening, the cadets of the first, third and fourth classes
found ample time to enjoy themselves between dark and taps, at
10.30, except when guard duty or something else interfered.
Much of the "idle" time through the day was spent in short naps,
to make up for that short six hours and a half of regular night
Yet all the young men seemed to thrive in their life of hard work
and outdoor air.
Hazing was proceeding merrily, so far as some of the yearlings
were concerned. Perhaps half of the class in all engaged in two
or more real hazings through the summer. A few of the third classmen
became almost inveterate hazers.
But Dick Prescott, true to the principles had stated at the beginning
of the encampment, hazed a plebe only when he believed it to be
actually necessary in order to keep properly down some bumptious
Dodge returned from hospital after a very short stay there. Word
had spread through the camp. Though Dodge, who admitted frankly
that his thrashing had been deserved, managed to keep a few friends,
but was avoided by most of the yearlings. Since he had taken his
medicine so frankly, he was not, however, "cut."
One afternoon, when Dick had been dozing on his mattress for about
ten minutes, during a period of freedom from drill, the tent flap
rustled, and Yearling Furlong looked in.
"What is it?" called Dick.
"Sorry if I've roused you, old ramrod," murmured the caller.
"That's all right, Milesy. Come in and rest yourself. You won't
mind if I keep flat, will you?
"Not in training for sick report?" asked Furlong, glancing down
solicitously. But he saw the glow of robust health glowing through
the deep coat of tan on Prescott's face.
"My appetite doesn't resemble sick report," laughed Dick. "But,
while you don't really look ill, Milesy, it's very plain that
you have something serious on your mind. Out with it!
"I guess that will make me feel better," assented Furlong, with
a sigh. "It's all that little plebe beast, Mr. Briggs."
"Surely he hasn't been hazing you?" inquired Prescott, opening
his eyes very wide.
"No, no; not just that, old ramrod," replied Furlong. "But Mr.
Briggs is proving a huge disappointment to me. I've done my best
to make a meek and lowly cub of him, but he won't consent to fill
his place. Now, that little beast made a good enough get away
with his studies during the three months before camp. He mastered
all the work of the soldier in ranks. At bottoms Mr. Briggs is
really a very good little boy soldier. But he's so abominably
and incurably fresh that he should have gone to Annapolis, where
there's always some salt in the breeze.
"What has Mr. Briggs been doing now?" asked Dick with interest.
"What doesn't Mr. Briggs do?" sighed Furlong mournfully. "Instead
of sleeping nights, that beast must lie awake, devising more ways
of being unutterably fresh. But now he's contaminating his bunkie,
"Evil company always did work havoc with good manners," nodded Dick.
"So Mr. Ellis has gone bad, has he?"
"Do you know," continued Furlong severely, "that three mornings
ago, when Jessup, of our class, was dressing at forty horsepower
so he wouldn't miss reveille formation, that he stepped into two
shoes full of soft soap, and had to go out sloshing into line
in that shape, just because he couldn't spare the time to take
his shoes off and empty them?
"Yes," nodded Prescott. "We suspected Haverford, of the first
class, of that, because Jessup, on guard, challenged Haverford
when Haverford was trying to run the guard after taps."
"Haverford nothing," retorted Furlong. "He's above such jobs.
No, sir! This afternoon Jessup ran plumb into Mr. Ellis when
that little beast bunkie of the other beast, Mr. Briggs, was just
in the act of dropping soft soap into the shoes that Aldrich will
wear to dress parade today.
"Where on earth did Mr. Ellis get hold of soft soap?" demanded
Prescott, raising himself on one elbow.
"You're entirely missing the problem, old ramrod!" grunted Furlong
wrathfully. "The question is, how can we possibly soak such habits
out of Mr. Ellis and Mr. Briggs?"
"Perhaps it can't be done," suggested Dick.
"It must be done!" uttered Furlong savagely.
"Well, I can't think of any yearling better suited to the task that
you are, Milesy!"
"One man? or one tentful, isn't equal to any such gigantic piece
of work!" retorted Furlong. "Ramrod, you've got to appoint a class
committee to take these two baboons in hand. It ought to be done
this very night, too. Now, sit up, won't you, and get your
thinking cap on?"
"Have you talked with any of the other men?"
"Yes; and they all agree that a soiree must be given to Mr. Ellis,
and that you should be present."
"What is the call for me, Milesy?
"You are the class president."
"But this is no affair that involves the honor of the class.
Therefore, as president, I cannot see that there is any call for me."
"It is the feeling with all the members of the yearling class that
you should be present."
Prescott looked at his visitor intently for a moment.
Dick understood, now. He had taken "too little" interest in the
hazing of b.j. plebes, and the class did not want to see its president
shirk any duties that might be considered his, either as yearling
or as class president.
"Very good, Milesy," replied Dick quietly. "You may inform all
anxious inquirers that I'll be on hand. Where and at what hour?"
"Eight o'clock, in Dunstan's tent."
Furlong arose with a satisfied look on his face. He had, in fact,
been deputed by others to make sure that Prescott would be on
hand. There is always a good deal of risk attendant on hazing.
It may lead to discovery---and dismissal.
"I wonder if some of the fellows think I keep away from hazing
simply because I'm afraid of risking my neck?" yawned Dick. "They
practically insist on my sitting in to-night, do they? Oh, well!"
The hop took more men away from camp than usual that night. Other
cadets met friends from the hotel or officers' quarters at post
But over in Dunstan's tent a considerable group of yearlings gathered.
A few, in fact, were obliged to stand outside. This they did
in such a way as not to attract the attention of the O.C. or any
Dick was there, and with him were Holmes and Anstey, to both of
whom had been conveyed a hint as strong as that which had reached
the class president. Furlong, Griffin and Dobbs were in the tent.
Jessup and Aldrich were there as a matter of fact.
On the still night air came the clanging of eight on the big clock
down in the group of barracks and Academic Building. Just as
the strokes were pealing forth Plebes Briggs and Ellis came up
the street and stood at the front pole of Dunstan's tent.
"Come in, beasties," summoned Furlong. "We are awaiting you."
Neither plebe looked over joyous as the pair entered.
"Stand there, misters," ordered Dick, pointing to the space that
had been reserved for the victims of the affair. "Now, misters,
there is some complaint that you have mistaken West Point for a
theatrical training school. The suspicion is gaining ground that
you two beasties imagine you have been appointed here as comedians.
Is that your delusion?"
"No, sir," replied Mr. Briggs and Mr. Ellis in one solemn breath.
"Then what ails you, misters?" demanded Dick severely.
Both plebes remained silent.
"Answer me, sirs. You first, Mr. Briggs."
"I think we must have been carried away by excess of animal spirits,
sir," replied Mr. Briggs, now speaking meekly enough.
"Animal spirits?" repeated Dick thoughtfully. "There may be much
truth and reason in that idea. Camp life here is repressive of
animal spirits, to be sure. We who are your mentors to some extent
should have thought of that. Mr. Briggs, you shall find relief for
your animal spirits. Mr. Ellis, what is your defence?"
"I thought, sir---thought-----"
With the yearling President's eyes fixed on him in stern, searching
gaze, the once merry little Mr. Ellis became confused. He broke
"That's enough, Mr. Ellis," replied the class president. "You
admit that you thought. Now, no plebe is capable of thinking.
Your answer, mister, proves you to be guilty of egotism."
Then Dick, with the air of a judge, yet with a mocking pretence
of gentleness and leniency sounding; in his voice, turned back
to Plebe Briggs.
"Mr. Briggs, you will now proceed to relieve your animal spirits
by some spirited animal conduct. The animal that you will represent
will be the crab. Down on your face, mister!"
Flat on the floor lay Mr. Briggs. The yearlings outside, at the
tent doorway, scenting something coming, peered in eagerly.
"Now, spread out your arms and legs, mister, just as any good
crab should do. Raise your body from the floor. Not too much;
about six inches will do. Now, mister, move about as nearly as
possible in the manner of a crab. Stop, mister! Don't you know
that a crab moves either backwards or sideways? It will not give
enough vent to your animal spirits unless you move exactly as
your model, the crab, does. Try it again, mister, and be painstaking
in your imitation."
Mr. Briggs presented a most grotesque appearance as he crawled
about over the floor in the very limited space allowed him by
the presence of so many others. The yearlings enjoyed it all
in mirthful silence.
"As for you, mister," continued Dick, turning upon the uncomfortable
Mr. Ellis, "your self-conceit so fills every part of your body
that the only thing for you is to stand on your head. Go to the
rear tentpole and stand on your head. You may brace your feet
against the pole. But remain on your head until we make sure
that all the conceit has run out of you!"
Mr. Briggs was still "crabbing it" over the floor. Every minute
the task became more irksome.
"Up with you, mister," Prescott admonished. "No self-respecting
crab, with an abundance of animal spirits, ever trails along the
ground like that."
After some two minutes of standing on his head Mr. Ellis fell over
sideways, his feet thudding.
"Up with you, sir," admonished Dick. "You are still so full of
egotism that it sways you like the walking beam of a steamboat.
Up with you, mister, and up you stay until there is no ballast
of conceit left in you."
Crab-crab-crab! Mr. Briggs continued to move sidewise and backward
over the tent flooring.
Mr. Ellis was growing frightfully red in the face. But Prescott,
from the remembrance of his own plebe days, knew to a dot how
long a healthy plebe could keep that inverted position without
serious injury. So the class president, sitting as judge in the
court of hazing, showed no mercy.
Some of the yearlings who stood outside peering in should have
kept a weather eye open for the approach of trouble from tac.
quarters. But, as the ordeals of both of the once frisky plebes
became more severe, the interest of those outside increased.
Crab-crab-crab! continued Mr. Briggs. It seemed to him as though
his belt-line weighed fully a ton, so hard was it to keep his
abdomen off the floor, resting solely on his hands and feet.
Mr. Ellis must have felt that conceit and he could never again
be friends, judging by the redness of his face and the straining
of his muscles.
An approaching step outside should have been heard by some of
the yearlings looking in through the doorway, but it wasn't.
Then, all in an instant, the step quickened, and Lieutenant
Topham, O.C. for the day, made for the tent door!
LIEUTENANT TOPHAM FEELS QUEER
Yearling Kelton barely turned his head, but he caught sight of
the olive drab of the uniform of the Army officer within a few
Pretending not to have seen the officer, Cadet Kelton drew in
his breath with a sharp whistle. It was not loud, but it was
penetrating, and it carried the warning.
Swift as a flash Prescott caught upside-down Mr. Ellis, and fairly
rolled him out under the canvas edge at the back of the tent.
Greg instantly shoved the prostrate Mr. Briggs through by the
Fortunately both plebes were too much astonished to utter a sound.
"Crouch and scowl at me, Greg---hideously whispered alert-witted
As he spoke, Prescott swiftly crouched before Holmes. Dick's
hands rested on his knees; he stuck out his tongue and scowled
fiercely at Holmes, who tried to repay the compliment with interest.
Although all the yearlings in the tent had been "scared stiff"
at Kelton's low, warning signal, all, by an effort, laughed heartily,
their gaze on Prescott and Holmes.
"Yah!" growled Dick. "Perhaps I did steal the widow's chickens,
and I'll even admit that I did appropriate the pennies from her
baby's bank. But that's nothing. Tell 'em about the time you
stole the oats from the blind horse's crib and put breakfast food
in its place."
Everyone of the yearlings in the tent knew that trouble stood
at the door, and that they must keep up the pretence.
There was a chorus of laughter, and two or three applauded.
"I did---admit it," bellowed Greg. "But you stand there and admit
the whole shameful truth about the time that you-----"
"Attention!" called Kelton, turning, then recognizing Lieutenant
Topham and saluting. "The officer in charge!"
On the jump every yearling inside turned and stood rapidly at
"Gentlemen, I'm sorry to have spoiled the show," laughed Lieutenant
Topham. He had seen the shadows of Briggs and Ellis on the canvas,
and had expected to drop in upon a different scene. But now this
tac. was wholly disarmed. He honestly believed that he had stumbled
upon a party of yearlings having a good time with a bit of nonsensical
"Mr. Prescott! Mr. Holmes!"
"Sir?" answered both yearlings, saluting.
"I will suggest that you two might work up the act you were just
indulging in. You ought to raise a great laugh the next time a
minstrel show is given by the cadets."
"Thank you, sir"---from both "performers."
Lieutenant Topham turned and passed on down the company street.
The two expelled plebes, in the meantime, had a chance to slip
off silently. Even had Briggs and Ellis been inclined to "show
up" their hazers, they knew too well the fate that would await
such a pair of plebes at the hands of the cadet corps.
"That shows how easily a suspicious man's eyes may deceive him,"
mused Lieutenant Topham as he walked along.
Kelton now allowed his gaze to follow the retreating O.C., while
the yearlings in the tent stood in dazed silence. They were still
panting over the narrow escape from a scrape that might have cost
them their places on the roll of the battalion.
"Safe!" whispered Kelton. "You may thank your deliverers."
Then, indeed, the other yearlings pressed about Prescott and Holmes,
hugging them and patting them extravagantly.
When Lieutenant Topham returned to his tent, he found Captain
Bates there, with a visitor. By the time that he had stepped
inside, Topham also discovered the presence of the K.C. likewise
"I've just had a good lesson in the pranks that a man's eyes and
ears may play upon him," announced Topham, unbelting his sword.
Then he related, with relish, the occurrence at Dunstan's tent.
"Humph!" grunted Captain Bates. "You say Mr. Prescott was there?"
"Then, Topham, you didn't really see very much of what happened,
after all," half jeered Captain Bates. "If Prescott was there,
the crowd had a plebe on hand, depend on it."
"But I would have seen the plebe."
"Not when you have to contend with a man like Mr. Prescott! If
he had a tenth of a second's warning it would be enough for him
to roll the plebe out at the back of the tent."
"Now, I think of it," confessed Lieutenant Topham slowly, "I think
I did hear a slight sound at the back of the tent."
"You didn't investigate that sound, Mr. Topham?"
"Why, no, sir. I thought I was looking at the whole show."
"Instead of which," chuckled Captain Bates, "you saw only the
curtain that had just been rung down, and the author of the piece
bowing to the audience."
"Well, I'll be---switched!" ejaculated Mr. Topham, dropping into
"Mr. Prescott has the reputation of being the cleverest dodger
in the yearling class," declared the K.C., in a dry voice. "It
was Bates who first discovered that quality in Mr. Prescott, but
I must admit that he has convinced me. Tomorrow a new cadet corporal
will be appointed, and the fact published in orders. The new
corporal takes the place of Corporal Ryder, who has been busted
(reduced). Mr. Prescott would have been appointed corporal, but
for his reputation for dodging out of the biggest scrapes of his
class. So Mr. Dodge is to be the new cadet corporal."
"Oh, you sly old ramrod!" Dunstan was murmuring ecstatically,
back in that other tent. "When I think of all the yearlings who've
been dropped for hazing in past years! If each class had only had
a Prescott all of those yearlings would have been saved to the
But Dick, though he did not know it, had a reputation in the
tac. department which had just prevented his attaining to the
honor that he desired most---appointment as cadet corporal.
UNDER A FEARFUL CHARGE
Cadet Corporal Dodge took his new appointment as a triumph in
revenge. Of late he had been growing even less popular. He
determined to be a martinet with the men in ranks under him. He
made the mistake that all petty, senseless tyrants do. The great
disciplinarian is never needlessly a tyrant.
* * * * * * * *
The summer in camp passed quickly after July had gone.
In all, Miss Griffin made four visits to West Point that summer.
Greg became her favored and eager escort, to the disappointment
of fifty men who would have been glad to take his place.
Both Cadet Holmes and Mr. Griffin's very pretty sister kept up
their attitudes of laughing challenge to each other throughout
the summer. It was impossible to see that either had scored a
deep impression on the other.
Not even to his chum did Greg confide whether Miss Griffin had
caught his heart. Mr. Griffin, her brother, could hardly venture
a guess to himself as to whether his sister cared for the tall
and manly looking Holmes.
But when Miss Griffin had reached the end of her last summer visit
to West Point she told Greg that she would not be there again for
some time to come.
"At least," asked Greg, "you'll be here again when the winter
"I cannot say," was all the reply Miss Adele Griffin would make.
"In three weeks she goes back to the seminary in Virginia," said
Griff, when Greg spoke to him about the matter. "Dell won't see
West Point before next summer. Our people are not rich enough
to keep Dell traveling all the time."
Whether Greg was crestfallen at the news no one knew. Greg had
never believed, anyway, in wearing his heart on his sleeve---"just
for other folks to stick pins in it, you know," was his explanation.
There came the day when the furloughed second class marched over
to camp. Very quickly after that all classes were back in cadet
barracks, and the charming summer of Mars had given place to the
hard fall, winter and spring of the academic grind.
The return to studies found both Greg and Dick forced to do some
extra hard work. Mathematics for this year went "miles ahead"
of anything that the former Gridley boys had encountered in High
School. Had they been able to pursue this branch of study in
the more leisurely and lenient way of the colleges, both young
men might have stood well.
As it was, after the first fortnight Greg went to the "goats,"
or the lowest section in mathematics, while Dick, not extremely
better off, hung only in the section above the goat line.
As the fall hops came on Greg went to about three out of every four.
"A fellow can bone until his brain is nothing but a mess of bone
dust," he complained. "Dick, old chum, you'd better go to hops,
Dick went to only one, in October. He stagged it, whereas Greg
often dragged. But Prescott saw no girl there who looked enough
like Laura Bentley to interest him. His standing in class interested
him far more than hops at which a certain Gridley girl could not
Laura had written him that she and Belle might be at a hop early
"I'll wait and look forward to it," decided Dick. But he said
nothing, even to Greg. Holmes was showing an ability to be interested
in too many different girls, Prescott decided.
But it may be that Holmes, knowing that Griffin corresponded with
his pretty, black-eyed little sister, may have been intentionally
furnishing subjects for the news that was despatched to a Virginia
"Come on, old ramrod," urged Greg one Saturday night, as he gave
great heed to his dressing. "You'll bone yourself dry, staying
here all the time with Smith's conic sections. Drop that dry
math. rot and stag it with me over at Cullum tonight. You can
take math. up again after chapel tomorrow."
"Thank you," replied Prescott, turning around from the study table
at which he was seated. "I don't care much for the social whirl
while there's any doubt about the January exams. It would be
no pleasure to go over to Cullum. There'll be real satisfaction
if I can look forward to better marking this coming week."
Dick spent his time until taps at the study table. But when he
closed the book it was with a sigh of satisfaction.
"If I can only go through a few more nights as easily as I have
tonight, I'll soon astound myself by maxing it" (making one of
the highest marks), he told himself. "I think I'm beginning to
see real light in conic sections, but I'll have the books out
again tomorrow afternoon."
* * * * * * * *
"Well?" challenged Holmes gayly, as he entered their room after
"I believe I'm going to turn over a new leaf and max it some,"
"Don't!" expostulated Greg, with a look of mock alarm.
The daily marks were not posted until the end of the academic
week, but Prescott knew, when Monday's recitation in mathematics
was over, that he had found new favor in the eyes of Captain Abbott,
the instructor. On Tuesday again he was sure that he had landed
another high mark.
Greg caught some of the fire of his chum's example, and he, too,
began to bone so furiously that he decided to drop the hops for
Wednesday again Dick marched back in mathematics section with
a consciousness that he had not fumbled once in explaining the
problem that he had been ordered to set forth the blackboard.
"I hear that you're going to graduate ahead of time, and be appointed
professor in math.," grinned Greg.
"Well, I'm at least beginning to find out that some things are
better than hops," laughed Dick happily. "Greg, if I can kill
math. to my satisfaction this year, I shan't have another doubt
about being able to get through and graduate here!"
It was the end of November by this time, and Dick, on Thursday
of this successful week, received a letter to the effect that
Laura and Belle would arrive at West Point on Saturday afternoon
at one o'clock.
The news nearly broke up Prescott's three hours of study that
Thursday evening. However, he fought off the feeling of excitement
and hampering delight.
When Dick marched with his section into mathematics Friday morning
he felt a calm confidence that he would keep up the average of
his fine performance for the week.
"Mr. Furlong, Mr. Dunstan, Mr. Prescott and Mr. Gray, go to the
blackboards," ordered Captain Abbott. "The other gentlemen will
recite from their seats."
Stepping nimbly over to the blackboard, in one corner of which
his name had been written, Dick picked up the chalk, setting down
the preliminaries of the problem assigned to him. Then his chalk
ran nimbly along over the first lines of his demonstration.
At last he stopped. Captain Abbott, who was generally accredited
with possessing several pairs of eyes, noted that Mr. Prescott
For some moments the young man went anxiously over what he had
already written. At last he turned around, facing the instructor,
"Permission to erase, sir?" requested Prescott.,
Captain Abbott nodded his assent.
Picking up the eraser, Dick carefully erased the last two lines
that he had set down.
Then, as though working under a new inspiration, he went ahead
setting down line after line of the demonstration of this difficult
problem. Only once did he halt, and then for not more than thirty
Dunstan went through a halting explanation of his problem. Then
Captain Abbott called:
Taking up the short pointer, Dick rattled off the statement of
the problem. Then he plunged into his demonstration, becoming
more and more confident as he progressed.
When he had finished Captain Abbott asked three or four questions.
Dick answered these without hesitation.
"Excellent," nodded the gratified instructor. "That is all, Mr.
As Dick turned to step to his seat he pulled his handkerchief
from the breast of his blouse and wiped the chalk from his hands.
All unseen by himself a narrow slip of white paper fluttered
from underneath his handkerchief to the floor.
"Mr. Prescott," called Captain Abbott, "will you bring me that
piece of paper from the floor?"
Dick obeyed without curiosity, then turned again and gained his
seat. The instructor, in the meantime, had called upon Mr. Pike.
While Pike was reciting, haltingly, Captain Abbott turned over
the slip of paper on his desk, glancing at it with "one of his
pairs of eyes."
Anyone who had been looking at the instructor at that moment would
have noted a slight start and a brief change of color in the captain's
face. But he said nothing until all of the cadets had recited
and had been marked.
"Mr. Prescott!" the instructor then called Dick rose, standing
by his seat.
"Mr. Prescott, did you work out your problem for today unaided?"
"I had a little aid, last night, sir, from Mr. Anstey."
"But you had no aid in the section room today?"
"No, sir," replied Dick, feeling much puzzled.
"You understand my question, Mr. Prescott?"
"I think so, sir."
"In putting down your demonstration on the blackboard today you had
no aid whatever?"
"None whatever, sir."
"At one stage, Air. Prescott, you hesitated, waited, then asked
permission to erase? After that erasure you went on with hardly
a break to the end of the blackboard work."
"And, at the time you hesitated, before securing leave to erase, you
did not consult any aid in your work?"
"This piece of paper," continued Captain Abbott, lifting the slip,
"fell from your handkerchief when you drew it out, just as you
left the blackboard. That was why I asked you to bring it to
me, Mr. Prescott. This paper contains all the salient features
of your demonstration. Can you explain this fact, Mr. Prescott?"
The astounded yearling felt as though his brain were reeling.
He went hot and cold, all in a flash.
In the same moment the other men of the section sat as though
stunned. All lying, deceit and fraud are so utterly detested
at West Point that to a cadet it is incomprehensible how a comrade
can be guilty of such an offence.
It seemed to Prescott like an age ere he could master his voice.
"I never saw that paper, sir, before you asked me to pick it up!"
"But it dropped from under your handkerchief, Mr. Prescott. Can
you account for that?"
"I cannot, sir."
Captain Abbott looked thoughtfully, seriously, at Cadet Richard
Prescott. The instructor had always liked this young man, and
had deemed him worthy of all trust. Yet what did this evidence
In the meantime the cadets sat staring the tops of their desks,
or the covers of their books. The gaze of each man was stony;
so were his feelings.
Prescott, the soul of honor, caught in such a scrape as this!
But there must be some sensible and satisfactory explanation,
thought at least half of the cadets present.
"Have I permission to ask a question, sir?" asked Dick in an almost
"Proceed, Mr. Prescott."
"Is the paper in my handwriting, sir?"
"It is not," declared the instructor. "Most of it is in typewriting,
with two figures drawn crudely in ink. There are three or four
typewriting machines on the post to which a cadet may find easy
access. You may examine this piece of paper, Mr. Prescott, if
you think that will aid you to throw any light on the matter."
Dick stepped forward, lurching slightly. Most of the silent men
of the section took advantage of this slight distraction to shift
their feet to new positions. The noise grated in that awful silence.
How Dick's hand shook as he reached for the paper. At first his
eyes were too blurred for him to make out clearly what was on
the paper. But at last he made it all out.
"I am very sorry, sir. This paper tells me nothing."
Captain Abbott's gaze was fixed keenly on the young man's face.
White-faced Prescott, shaking and ghastly looking, showed all
the evidences of detected, overwhelmed guilt.
Innocent men often do the same.
"You may return the paper and take your seat, Mr. Prescott."
As Prescott turned away he made a powerful effort to hold his
head erect, and to look fearlessly before him.
It was a full minute, yet, before the bugle would sound through
the Academic Building to end the recitation period. Dick was
not the only one in this section room who found the wait intolerable.
But at last the bugle notes were heard.
"The section is dismissed," announced Captain Abbott. Dunstan,
the section marcher, formed his men and led them thence. No man
in the section held his head more erect than did Prescott, who
was conscious of his own absolute innocence in the affair.
Yet, when he reached his room, and sank down at his study table,
a groan escaped Dick Prescott.
His head fell forward, cushioned in his folded arms.
Thus Holmes found him on entering the room.
"Why, old ramrod, what on earth is the matter?" gasped Greg.
A groan from his chum was the only answer.
At that moment another step, brisk and official, was heard in the
corridor. There was a short rap on the door, after which Unwine,
cadet officer of the day, wearing his red sash and sword, stepped
into the room.
"Mr. Prescott, you are ordered in close arrest in your quarters
until further orders."
"Yes, sir," huskily replied Prescott, who had struggled to his
feet and now stood at attention.
As Unwine wheeled, marching from the room, Dick sank again over his
"Dick, old ramrod," pleaded Greg terrified, "what on earth-----"
"Greg," came the anguished moan, "they're going to try to fire me
from West Point for a common cheat---and I'm afraid they'll do it,
IN CLOSE ARREST
Ever since Greg Holmes first came to West Point he had been learning
the repose and the reserve of the trained soldier.
Yet if ever his face betrayed utter abandonment to amazement it
Cadet Holmes gazed at his chum in open-mouthed wonder.
"By and by," uttered Greg fretfully, "You'll tell me the meaning
of this joke, and why Mr. Unwine should be in it, too."
It was several minutes before Prescott turned around again. When
he did there was a furious glare in his eyes.
"Greg, old chum! This is no joke. You heard Unwine. He was delivering
an official order, not carrying an April-fool package."
"Well, then, what does it all mean?" demanded Greg stolidly, for
he began to feel dazed. "But, first of all, old ramrod, aren't
you going to get ready to fall in for dinner formation?"
Mechanically, wearily, Dick obeyed the suggestion.
As he did so he managed to tell the story of the section room
to horrified Greg.
"See here," muttered Cadet Holmes energetically, "you didn't do
anything in the cheating line. Every fellow in the corps will
know that. So you'll have to set your wits at work to find the
real explanation of the thing. How could that paper have gotten
in with your handkerchief?"
"I don't know," replied Dick, shaking his head hopelessly.
"Well, you've got to find out, son, and that right quick! There
isn't a moment to be lost! You didn't cheat---you wouldn't know
how do a deliberately dishonest thing. But that reply won't satisfy
the powers that be. You've got to get your answer ready, and
do it with a rush."
"Perhaps you can also suggest where the rush should start," observed
"Yes; I've got to suggest everything that is going to be done,
I reckon," muttered Greg, resting a chum's loyal hand on Dick's
shoulder. "Old ramrod, you're too dazed to think of anything,
and I'm nearly as badly off myself. Say, did anyone, to your
knowledge, have your handkerchief?"
Cadet Richard Prescott wheeled like a flash. His face had gone
white again; he stared as though at a terrifying ghost.
"By the great horn spoon, Greg-----"
"Good! You're getting roused. Now, out with it!
"There were a lot of us standing about in the area, a little before
time for the math. sections to start off."
"Yes? And some other fellow handled your handkerchief?"
"Bert Dodge found himself without one, and asked me for mine, to
wipe a smear of black from the back of his hand."
"It doesn't really matter which hand," Greg pursued, "but I asked
to make sure that your mind is working."
"Oh, my mind is working," uttered Dick vengefully.
"But what else happened about that handkerchief?
"Dodge used it, then started to tuck it into his own blouse.
I grinned and reminded him that the handkerchief would fit better
inside my blouse."
"Just then the call sounded, and we had to jump. Dodge handed
me back the handkerchief with a swift apology, and raced away
to join his section."
"I tucked the handkerchief in my blouse."
"Now, do some hard thinking," insisted Holmes. "Did you take
that handkerchief out again until the unlucky time just after
you had turned away from the board after explaining in math.?"
Dick remained silent, while the clock in the room ticked off the
"I am sure I did not," he replied firmly. "No; that was the next
time that I took my handkerchief out."
"Huh!" muttered Greg. "We've got our start. And it won't be
far to the end, either. Cheer up, old man!"
At that instant the call for formation sounded. The young men
were ready and turned to leave the room on the jump. As they
did so, Greg muttered in a low tone:
"Say nothing, but hold up your head and smile. Don't let anyone