Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Jim Ludwig
DICK PRESCOTT'S THIRD YEAR AT WEST POINT
Standing Firm for Flag and Honor
By H. Irving Hancock
I. On Furlough in the Old Home Town
II. Brass Meets Gold
III. Dick & Co. Again
IV. What About Mr. Cameron?
V. Along a "Dangerous" Road
VI. The Surprise the Lawyer Had in Store
VII. Prescott Lays a Powder Trail
VIII. A Father's Just Wrath Strikes
IX. Back to the Good, Gray Life
X. The Scheme of the Turnback
XI. Brayton Makes a Big Appeal
XII. In the Battle Against Lehigh
XIII. When the Cheers Broke Loose
XIV. For Auld Lang Syne
XV. Heroes and a Sneak
XVI. Roll-Call Gives the Alarm
XVII. Mr. Cadet Slowpoke
XVIII. The Enemies Have an Understanding
XIX. The Traitor of the Riding Hall
XX. In Cadet Hospital
XXI. The Man Moving in a Dark Room
XXII. The Row in the Riding Detachment
XXIII. The Degree of "Coventry"
ON FURLOUGH IN THE OLD HOME TOWN
"My son, Richard. He is home on his furlough from the Military
Academy at West Point."
Words would fail in describing motherly pride with which Mrs.
Prescott introduced her son to Mrs. Davidson, wife of the new
"I am very glad to meet you, Mr. Prescott," said Mrs. Davidson,
looking up, for up she had to glance in order to see the face of
this tall, distinguished-looking cadet.
Dick Prescott's return bow was made with the utmost grace, yet
without affectation. His natty straw hat he held in his right
hand, close to his breast.
Mrs. Davidson was a sensible and motherly woman, who wished to
give this young man the pleasantest greeting, but she was plainly
at a loss to know what to say. Like many excellent and ordinarily
well-informed American people, she had not the haziest notions
of West Point.
"You are learning to be a soldier, of course?" she asked.
"Yes, Mrs. Davidson," replied Dick gravely. Neither in his face
nor in his tone was there any hint of the weariness with which
he had so often, of late, heard this aimless question repeated.
"And when you are through with your course there," pursued Mrs.
Davidson, "do you enlist in the Army? Or may you, if you prefer,
become a sailor in our--er--Navy?"
"Oh, I fear, Mrs. Davidson, that you don't understand," smiled
Mrs. Prescott proudly. My son is now going through a very rigorous
four years' course at the Military Academy. It is a course that
is superior, in most respects to a college training, but that
it is devoted to turning out commissioned officers for the Army.
When Richard graduates, in two years more, he will be commissioned
by the President as a second lieutenant in the Army."
"Oh, I understood you to say that you were training to become
a soldier, Mr. Prescott," cried Mrs. Davidson in some confusion.
"I did not understand that you would become an officer."
"An officer who is not also a good soldier is a most unfortunate
and useless fellow under the colors," laughed Dick lightly.
"But it is so much more honorable to be an officer than to be
a mere soldier!" cried the pastor's wife.
"We do not think so in the army, Mrs. Davidson," Dick answered
more responsibility, to be sure, but we feel that the honor falls
alike on men of all grades of position who are privileged to wear
their country's uniform."
"But don't the officers look down on the common soldiers?" asked
Mrs. Davidson curiously.
"If an officer does, then surely he has chosen the wrong career
in life, madam," the cadet replied seriously. "We are not taught
at West Point that an officer should 'look down' upon an enlisted
man. There is a gulf of discipline, but none of manhood, between
the enlisted man and his officer. And it frequently happens that
the officer who is a graduate from West Point is called upon to
welcome, as a brother officer, a man who has just been promoted from
Mrs. Davidson looked puzzled, as, indeed, she was. But she suddenly
remembered something that made her feel more at ease.
"Why, I saw an officer and some soldiers on a train, the other
day," she cried. "The officer had at least eight or ten soldiers
with him, under his command. I remember what a fine-looking young
man he was. He had what looked like two V's on his sleeve, and
I remember that they were yellow. What kind of an officer is
the man who wears the two yellow V's?"
"A non-commissioned officer, Mrs. Davidson; a corporal of cavalry."
"Was he higher that you'll be when you graduate from West Point?"
"No; a corporal is an enlisted man, a step above the private soldier.
The sergeant is also an enlisted man, and above the corporal.
Above the sergeant comes the second lieutenant, who is the lowest-ranking
"Oh, I am sure I never could understand it all," sighed Mrs. Davidson.
"Why don't they have just plain soldiers and captains, and put
the captains in a different color of uniform? Then ordinary people
could comprehend something about the Army. But in describing that
young soldier's uniform, I forgot something, Mr. Prescott. That
young soldier, or officer, or whatever he was, beside the two
yellow V's, had a white stripe near the hem of his cuff."
"Just one white stripe?" queried Dick.
"Just one, I am sure."
"Then that one white stripe would show that the corporal, before
entering the cavalry, had served one complete enlistment in the
"Oh, this is simply incomprehensible!" cried the new pastor's wife
in comical dismay. "I am certain that I could never learn to know
all these things."
"It is a little confusing at first," smiled Dick's mother with
another show of pride. "But I think I am beginning to understand
quite a lot of it."
Mrs. Davidson went out of the bookstore conducted by Dick's parents
in the little city of Gridley. Dick sighed a bit wearily.
"Why don't Americans take a little more pains to understand things
American?" he asked his mother, with a comical smile. "People
who would be ashamed not to know something about St. Peter's,
at Rome, or the London Tower, are not quite sure what the purpose
of the United States Military Academy is."
Yet, though some people annoyed him with their foolish questions,
he was heartily glad to be back, for the summer, in the dear old
home town. So was his chum, Greg Holmes, also a West Point cadet,
and, like Prescott, a member of the new second class at the United
States Military Academy. Both young men had now been in Gridley
for forty-eight hours. They had met a host old-time friends,
including nearly all of the High School students of former days.
Readers of "_Dick Prescott's First Year at West Point_" and of "_Dick
Prescott's Second Year at West Point_," are familiar with the careers
of the two chums, Prescott and Holmes, at the United States Military
Academy. The same readers are also familiar with the life at
West Point of Bert Dodge, a former Gridley boy, but who had been
appointed a cadet from another part of the state. Our old readers
are aware of the fact that Dodge had been forced out of the Military
Academy for dishonorable conduct; that it was the cadets, not
the authorities, who had compelled his departure, and that Dodge
resigned and left before the close of his second year.
Readers of these volumes of the _High School Boys' Series_ know
all about Bert Dodge in the course of his career at Gridley High
School. Dodge, back in the old days in Gridley, had been a persistent
enemy of Dick & Co., as Prescott and his five chums had always
been called in the High School. Of those five chums Greg, as
is well known, was Dick's comrade at West Point. Dave Darrin
and Dan Dalzell were now midshipmen at the United States Naval
Academy at Annapolis. Their adventures while learning to be United
States Navel officers, are fully set forth in The Annapolis Series.
Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton had chosen to go West, where they
became civil engineers engaged in railway construction through
the wild parts of the country, as fully set forth in the _Young
Just after Mrs. Davidson left the bookstore there were no customers
left, so Dick had a few moments in which to chat with his mother.
"What has become of the fellow Dodge?" asked the young West Pointer.
"Oh, haven't I told you?" asked his mother. A shade of annoyance
crossed her face, for she well knew that it was Dodge who, while
at West Point, had nearly succeeded in having her son dismissed
from the Service on a charge of which Dodge, not Dick, was guilty.
"No, mother; and I haven't thought to ask."
"Bert Dodge is here in Gridley at present. The Dodge family are
occupying their old home here for a part of the summer."
"Do people here understand that Dodge had to resign from West Point
in order to escape a court-martial that would have bounced him out
of the Military Academy?" Dick inquired.
"No; very few know it. I have mentioned Dodge's disgrace to only
one person beside your father."
"You told Laura Bentley?"
"Yes, Dick. She had a right to know. Laura has always been your
loyal friend. When she reached West Point, last winter, expecting
to go to a cadet hop with you, she remained at West Point until
you had been tried by court-martial and acquitted on that unjust
charge. Laura had a right to know the whole story."
"She surely had," nodded Dick.
"As to Gridley people in general," went on Mrs. Prescott, "I have
not felt it necessary to say anything, and folks generally believe
that Bert Dodge resigned from the corps of cadets simply because
he did not find Army life to his liking."
"He wouldn't have found it to his liking had he chosen not to
resign," smiled Prescott darkly.
"Are you going to say anything about Dodge while you are home?"
inquired his mother, glancing up quickly.
"Not a word, if I can avoid it," replied Dick. "I hate tale-bearers."
At this moment the postman came in, blowing his whistle and rapidly
sorting out a pile of letters, which he dropped on the counter.
"There are probably a lot here for me, mother," smiled Dick. "Shall
I separate then from the business mail?"
"If you will, my boy."
Some dozen of the envelopes proved to be addressed to young Prescott.
Of these two were letters frown West Point classmates. Three
were from old friends in Gridley, sending him congratulations
and expressing the hope of meeting him during his furlough. The
remainder of the letters were mainly invitations of a social nature.
"Odd!" grinned the young soldier. When I was merely a High School
boy I could go a whole month without receiving anything resembling
a social invitation. Now I am receiving them at the rate of a
score a day."
"Well, a West Point cadet is some one socially, is he not?" smiled
"I suppose so," nodded Dick. "The truth is, a cadet has so much
social attention paid to him that it is a wonder more of the fellows
are not spoiled."
"Are you going to accept any social invitations while you are home?"
asked his mother.
"That depends," Dick answered. "If invitations come from people
who were glad to see me when I was a High School boy here, then
I shall try to accept. But I don't care much about meeting who
didn't care about meeting me two years ago. Here is a note from
Miss Clara Deane, mother. She trusts that Greg and I can make
it convenient to call at her home next Saturday afternoon, and
meet some of her friends. When I attended Gridley Miss Deane
used to look down on me because I was a poor man's son. I believe
her set referred to me as a 'mucker.' At least, the fellows of
her set did. So I shall send Miss Deane a brief note of regret."
Dick continued to examine his mail while carrying on a running
fire of talk with his proud and happy mother.
"Oh, here is a very nice note from Susie Sharp," he murmured,
opening another epistle. "She is having quite a few friends at
the house this afternoon, and she begs that Greg and I will be
present. Miss Sharp was a very nice girl in the old days, although
she and I never happened to be very particular friends. Now, I
want to have all the time I can for my real friends of the old days."
"Miss Sharp would be very proud to entertain two men from West
Point," suggested his mother.
"That's just the reason," Dick answered. "Miss Sharp invites
us not because she was ever much a friend of ours, but simply
because she is anxious to entertain two cadets. She probably
reasons that it may give distinction to her afternoon tea, or
whatever the affair is."
"Then you are not going?" asked Mrs. Prescott.
"I hardly think so. Not unless Greg wishes it."
The next envelope that Dick picked up was addressed in Laura Bentley's
handwriting. Dick read for a moment, then announced:
"I have changed my mind. I shall go to call on Miss Sharp. Laura
urges me to, saying that Miss Sharp has been very kind to her in
the last year. If Laura wishes it, I'll go to call on any one."
At this moment Greg Holmes, tall, muscular, erect and looking
as though he had just come from the tailor's iron, stepped cheerily
into the store.
"Morning, old ramrod," hailed the other cadet. "I know you don't
mind that kind of talk, Mrs. Prescott. It's our term of affection
for Dick at West Point. Going through your invitations, are you?
Aren't they the bore, though. Especially as we had very few
invitations when we were High School boys in this same old town."
"You received one from Susie: Sharp, of course?"
"Yes," Greg assented. "And I'm going---not!"
"You are going---yes!" Dick retorted.
"Oh!" nodded Greg. "Am I entitled to any explanation?"
"Laura wishes it."
"That's a whole platoon of reasons boiled down into one file-closer,"
grinned Greg. "Yes; I am going to visit Miss Sharp this afternoon."
"Have you heard that Bert Dodge is in town at present?"
"No!" muttered Greg. Then added tersely: "The b.j.(fresh) rascal!
I wonder what folks here think of a sneak who was forced to resign
by a cadet committee on honor?"
"Folks here don't know that Dodge was forced out of the Academy."
"Thank you for telling me," nodded Greg. "Then I shall know how
to keep my mouth shut. Laura will be a Miss Sharp's this afternoon,
"Naturally. And Belle Meade, also."
"Then," proposed Greg, "suppose we 'phone the girls and ask if
we may call this afternoon and escort them to Miss Sharp's. We
must do something to show that we appreciate their loyalty in
remaining at West Point last winter until your name was cleared
"Yes; we'll 'phone them," nodded Dick.
On both days, so far, that he had been home, Dick had called at
Dr. Bentley's to see Laura. In fact, that was the only calling
he had done, though he had met scores of friends on the street.
Both young ladies were pleased to accept the proffered escort.
"By the way," proposed Greg, "what are you going to do this morning?"
"Going out for a walk, for one thing," replied Dick. "I've talked
to mother until she must have ear-ache on both sides, and feel
tired of having me home."
"What do you saw if we trot around and extract handshakes from
some of the follows we used to pack schoolbooks with?" hinted
Holmes. "For instance, Ennerton is down at the bank, in a new
job. Foss is advertising manager in Curlham & Peck's department
store. I know he'll be glad to see us if we don't take up too
much of his employer's time. Then Ted Sanders-----"
And so Greg continued to enumerate a lot of the old Gridley High
School boys of whose present doings he had gotten track. Dick
and Greg left the bookstore and started on the rounds to hunt up
the best remembered of their old schoolmates.
And a pleasant morning they had of it. Thought the sun poured
down its heat over the little city, these two cadets, who had
drilled for two summers on the blistering plain and the dusty
roads at West Point, did not notice the warmth of the day.
In the afternoon, in good season, Dick called for Laura, waiting
there until Belle Meade arrived under the escort of Greg.
"These West Pointers make the most correct and attentive escorts
imaginable," laughed Belle. "But there's just one disadvantage
connected with them."
"I hadn't noticed it," smiled Laura.
"Why, when Greg walks beside me, and holds my parasol, I feel
as though I were in the street with my parasol tied to the Methodist
steeple. Where's your rice powder, Laura? I'm sure the sun has
made a sight of my nose and neck."
Laughing merrily, the young people set off for Miss Sharp's.
The home was a comfortable one, with attractive grounds, for the
elder Sharp was a well-to-do merchant. Some three score of young
people were present, and of these nearly two thirds had belonged
to the High School student body in the old High School days of
Dick and Greg. Naturally, the young ladies outnumbered the young
men by more than four to one.
"Oh, I am delighted that you two have come," cried Susie, moving
forward to greet her cadet visitors. This was wholly true, for
Miss Sharp had planned the affair solely in order to have the
distinction of entertaining the young West Pointers. Had Dick
and Greg remained away, Susie, without doubt, would have been
both disappointed and humiliated.
Through the connecting drawing rooms Dick and Greg moved with
a grace and lack of consciousness greatly in contrast with their
semi-awkwardness in their earlier High School days. Many pleasant
acquaintances were renewed here.
Suddenly, Susie, catching a glimpse of the front walk, hastened
out into the hallway. Then she came in, smiling eagerly, a well-dressed,
pompous-looking young man at her side.
"Mr. Prescott! Mr. Holmes!" called Susie. "Here is an old comrade
whom you both may be surprised to meet!"
Dick and Greg turned, and indeed, they were astonished. For the
latest arrival was Bert Dodge!
"Howdy, fellows!" called Dodge carelessly, though inwardly he was
quaking with alarm. How would these two decent cadets treat the
fellow who had been kicked out of West Point for dishonorable acts?
Prescott bowed, but did not speak. Greg's line of conduct was
identical with his chum's.
Bert turned white, at first, with mortification. Then a red flush
set in at his neck, extending to his face and temples. But Dodge
possessed "brass," if not honor, so he decided to face it out.
Turning to a young woman standing nearby, Bert spoke to her, and
they laughed and chatted. From her, Bert passed through the room
nodding here, chatting there.
Dick and Greg, after the first look of amazement, followed by their
cold bows, had turned to the old friends with whom they had been
In the course of a few minutes Bert Dodge had got along close to
the two cadets.
"How are you, Prescott?" called Bert. "How is good old West Point?
And you, Holmes---how are you?"
Dodge held out his hand with all the effrontery of which he was
Turning, Dick gave the sneak only a cold, steady look.
BRASS MEETS GOLD
Neither Dick nor Greg took the trouble to answer the greeting.
Dodge's outstretched hand both cadets affected not to see.
As it happened, few of the others present noted this brief little
A natural break in the crowd left Dick alone for the moment, with
Holmes standing not far away and looking coldly in the direction
of the ex-cadet, yet not appearing to see him at all.
"Well, what's the matter?" hissed Dodge in an undertone that the
other guests did not hear. "Are you going to make a fool of
"You'd better execute a right-about face and make double-time
away from here," replied Dick in a freezing undertone. "Otherwise
I don't believe the guests will fail to observe how West Pointers
regard a convicted sneak."
"Are you going to open your mouth and do a lot of talking?" whispered
Dodge menacingly. "Or are you going to keep your tongue behind
"I can't undertake to lower myself by making any promises to a
sneak," retorted Dick, still in an undertone. "But I warn you
that any further conversation I have with you will be carried
on in ordinary conversational tones. And if you undertake to
remain, we shall be obliged to inform our hostess that we regret
our inability to stay any longer."
Conscious that others were probably looking their way, Bert Dodge
tried to make his face as expressionless as possible.
"See here, Prescott-----" the fellow began coaxingly.
But Dick turned and walked away. Greg, very stiff and straight,
moved at his friend's side.
Afraid of what others might notice, Dodge passed on. He presently
reached a door leading into the hallway. Here he remained briefly.
Then, when he believed himself to be unobserved, he slipped out, took
his hat and got away.
A few minutes later, as Dick and Greg passed the door of a little
reception room, Susie Sharp called them in quietly. They found
her there alone.
"Oh, Mr. Prescott! Mr. Holmes! Have I made any mistake, I thought
it would be a pleasant surprise to you both if I had Mr. Dodge here
to meet you, as you all three were classmates at West Point. But I
should have remembered that in the old High School days you two and
Mr. Dodge were not the best of friends."
There was an agitated catch in Susie's voice. Their young hostess
was worried by the thought that she had invited jarring elements
"Why, to be candid, I don't believe Dodge ever admired either Greg
or myself very much, replied Cadet Prescott evenly.
"But did I make a fearful mistake?" pleaded Susie.
"One cannot make a mistake who aims at the pleasure of others,"
Dick answered smilingly.
Somewhat reassured, Susie asked her cadet guests to return with
her to the drawing rooms. There they joined a little group, and
were chatting when a girl's voice reached them from a few feet
away. The girl who was speaking did not realize that her tones
carried as far as the ears of Dick and Greg as she explained to
two other young women:
"Mr. Dodge said he resigned from the Military Academy because
he could not stand the crowd there."
"I guess that's true," muttered Dick inwardly. "The crowd couldn't
stand Dodge, either."
But Sam Foss made the conversation general by calling:
"How about that, Dick! I always thought West Point was a very
select place. Bessie Frost says Dodge left West Point because
he thought the fellows there rather below his grade socially."
"Perhaps they are," nodded Dick gravely, but in even tones. "I
have heard it stated that about sixty per cent. of the cadets
are the sons of wage-earners. Indeed, one of the cadets whom
I most respect has not attempted to conceal the fact that, until
he graduates and begins to draw officer's pay, his mother will
have to continue to support herself at the washtub. That young
man is now in the first class, and I can tell you that we are
all mighty anxious to see that man graduate and find himself where
he can look after a noble mother who has the misfortune to be
unusually poor in purse."
"Then as an American, I'm proud of West Point, if it has fellows
with no more false shame than that," cried Foss heartily.
"Why, I always thought West Point a very swell place, extremely
so," murmured Bessie Frost. "In fact--pardon me, won't you---I
have always heard that the young men at West Point are very much
puffed up and very exclusive."
Dick laughed good-humoredly.
"Of course, Miss Frost, the cadet is expected to learn how to
become a gentleman as well as an officer. Yet why should any
of us feel unduly conceited? We are privileged to secure one
of the best educations to be obtained in the world, but we obtain
it at public expense. Not only our education, but all our living
expenses are paid for out of the nation's treasury, and that money
is contributed by all tax-payers alike. If we of the cadet corps
should get any notion that we belong to a superior race of beings,
to whom would we owe it all? Are the cadets not indebted for
their opportunities to all the citizens of the United States?"
"Did Bert Dodge have any especial trouble at West Point?" asked
"Mr. Dodge did not make us his confidants," evaded Dick coolly.
"What do you say, Mr. Holmes?" persisted the same girl.
"About the same that Dick does," replied Greg. "You see, there are
several hundred cadets at West Point, and Dick and I were not in
the same section with Dodge."
"Was he one of the capable students there?"
"Why, he was in a much higher section than either Dick or myself,"
admitted Greg truthfully; but he did not think it necessary to
explain the trickery and cribbing by which Dodge had secured the
appearance of higher scholarship.
At this point the tact and good sense of Miss Susie Sharp caused
her to use her opportunities as hostess to break up the group and
to start some new lines of conversation.
But Susie was uneasy, and presently she found a chance to whisper
to Laura Bentley:
"Tell me, dear---what lies back of the fact that Mr. Dodge does
not seem to be on good terms with Mr. Prescott and Mr. Holmes?"
"Did Bert Dodge know that Dick and Greg were to be here!" asked
"No; I wanted it to be a surprise on both sides."
"It must have been, my dear," smiled Laura "The fact is that Dick
and Greg are not on friendly terms with Mr. Dodge."
"Oh!" murmured Susie, moving away. "I am glad that it was no
A large tent had been erected on one of the lawns. To this tent,
later in the afternoon, Miss Sharp invited her guests. Here a
collation had been served, with pretty accessories, by a caterer,
and several waiters stood about to serve.
When the guests returned to the house they discovered that the rugs
had been removed, and that an orchestra was now at hand to furnish
music for dancing. Given music and a smooth floor, young people do
not mind exertion on a hot June afternoon. Dancing was at once in
full swing. Nor did the young people leave until after six o'clock.
Greg escorted Belle Meade home, Dick walking with Laura. The two
cadet chums met on Main Street a little later. They stood near a
corner, chatting, when Bert Dodge came unexpectedly around the
He saw the two cadets, changed color, then halted.
Neither Dick nor Greg checked their conversation, nor let it be
known that they were aware of the ex-cadet's presence.
But Dodge, after looking at the chums sourly for a moment, stepped
squarely in front of them.
"See here, you fellows-----" he began, his voice sounding thickly.
"Have you the impudence to address us," asked Prescott coolly.
"Don't talk to me about impudence!" snarled Dodge. "What did
you two say about me, after I left this afternoon?"
"Oh, I assure you we didn't discuss you any more than was necessary,"
replied Dick frigidly.
"What did you say?" insisted Dodge.
"We couldn't say much about you," Greg broke in icily. "You know,
you're hardly a fit subject for conversation."
"See here, you two fellows," warned Bert angrily, "you want to
be mighty careful what you say about me! Do you understand?
A single unfriendly word, that does any injury to my reputation,
and I'll take it out of you."
Prescott would not go to the length of sneering. He allowed an
amused twinkle to show in his eyes.
"On your way, Dodge that's the best course for you," advised Greg
coldly. "We're not interested in your threats of fight, and you
ought to know better, too, after some of the thumpings you've had."
"Fight?" jeered Dodge harshly. "You fellows seem to think you're
still in cadet barracks, and that all you have to do is to call
me out, and that my only recourse is to put up an argument before
a class scrap committee. But you fellows aren't at West Point
just now, and cadet committees don't run things here. You're
back in civilization, where we have laws and regular courts.
Now, if I find that you fellows are saying a single word against
me I'll have you both arrested for criminal libel. I'll have
you put through the courts, too, and sent to jail. Then, when
you get out of jail, you can find out what your high and mighty
West Point friends think of that!"
Dodge finished with a harsh, sneering laugh, then turned on his
"The cheap skate!" muttered Greg, looking after the retreating
fellow. "Humph! I'd like to see him make any trouble for us!"
"He may try it," muttered Prescott, gazing thoughtfully after
their ancient enemy.
"How?" demanded Greg. "We don't think him worth talking about
among decent people, so we'll give him not the slightest chance
to make any trouble."
"We won't give Dodge any real cause, of course," nodded Dick gravely.
"But a scoundrel like Dodge doesn't need real cause. That young
man has altogether more spending money than is good for his morals.
Why, with his money, Greg, Dodge would know how to find people,
apparently respectable, who would be willing to accept a price for
"Humph!" uttered Greg.
"If Dodge could get such testimony, and his perjurers would stick
to their yarns," continued Dick, "then the young scoundrel might
be actually able to carry out his threats."
"He wouldn't dare!"
"If it were anything high-minded and dangerous, Dodge wouldn't
dare," admitted Dick. "But minds like his will dare a good deal
to put through anything scoundrelly against people who try to
DICK & CO. AGAIN
"Hey, there, you galoot! You thin, long-drawn-out seven feet of
After having been home a week, Dick Prescott flushed as he wheeled
about to meet this jeering greeting.
In another instant every trace of his wrath had vanished.
"Tom Reade!" hailed Dick in great delight, turning and rushing
at his old High School chum. "And good little Harry Hazelton!"
It was, indeed, the young engineer pair, Reade and Hazelton, old-time
members of Dick & Co., the great High School crowd of Gridley.
Reade and Hazelton, after finishing at the High School, had gone
out to Colorado to serve under the engineer in charge of a great
piece of railway construction work. The adventures of Tom and
Harry, in the wild spots of the West, are fully set forth in the
volumes of the _Young Engineers Series_.
"The last fellow I expected to meet in Gridley!" cried Dick,
overflowing with delight as he stuck out both hands at once and
"Well, we are, aren't we?" demanded Reade.
"The last fellows you've met in Gridley. But where's Greg?"
"If he's out of bed," grinned Prescott, "he's in cit. clothes."
"Carrying a rifle and marching the lock-step---the route-step,
I mean---has dulled your brain," growled Tom Reade. "Is Greg
"What scoundrel is taking my name in vein?" demanded Holmes, coming
upon the trio.
Then there were hearty greetings, all over again. But in the
end Reade looked Greg over from head to foot.
"Do they make you sleep on a stretcher at West Point?" Tom wanted
to know. "Or what do they do, to pull a pair of galoots out to
the length that you two have attained."
"It's the physical training and the military drills," explained
Prescott, laughing. "But my! You fellows look like the Indian's
head on a copper cent!"
Tom and Harry were, indeed, highly bronzed by the hot southwestern
sun. Harry, in fact, was well on the way to being black, so burned
had he become by his last few months of work.
"I hope, if you fellows are ever allowed to go forth into the Army,
you'll get your first station down in Arizona," teased Tom.
"I don't," retorted Greg, "if it will make us look like you two."
"Oh, it won't," broke in Harry mockingly. "You see, we have to
work down in Arizona. But you fellows wouldn't. We've seen some
thing of the soldiery down in that part of the world, and they're
the laziest crowd you ever saw. Why, the Army officers in Arizona
sleep all day and grumble about the heat all night. They have tame
Apaches to do their work for them. Oh, no, you wouldn't suffer
down in Arizona!"
"But how do you fellows come to be home at this time?" asked Dick.
"Homesick!" sighed Tom. "The fellows in our engineer corps are
entitled to some leave. So Harry and I waited until we had enough
leave piled up, and then we started back for Gridley."
"Well, it's hot on this corner," muttered Greg, "and there's an
ice cream place down the block, where the electric fans are going.
Let's make a raid on the place. Do you fellows remember when
we were happy if we could buy a ten-cent plate and then get by
ourselves with six spoons to dip into the ice cream? Come on!
Let's get good and square for those days."
"Yes; it is hot here on this corner," assented Dick.
"Hot?" demanded Reade impatiently.
"Humph! Harry and I were just regretting that we hadn't worn our
top coats today. We came to Gridley to cool off, and this old
town seems like a heaven of coolness after the baked-brown alkali
deserts of Arizona."
"Double orders for each one of us," explained Harry, after the
quartette of one time High School chums had seated themselves under
a buzzing fan.
Now, the chums of old days had time to look each other over more
Tom and Harry were taller than in the old High School days, but
they had not quite reached the height of Dick and Greg. Both
of the young civil engineers, besides being heavily bronzed, were
thin and sinewy looking. Thin as they were, both looked the pictures
of health. Though Tom and Harry did not "advertise" their tailors
as well as did the two West Point cadets, nevertheless the pair
of young civil engineers looked prosperous. They had the general
air of being the kind of young men who are destined to succeed
splendidly in life.
Before the ice cream---the first double order, that is---reached
the table, all of the young men were plunged into stories of their
adventures during the last two years. Readers of these two series
are familiar with the adventures that the young men discussed.
"You've been getting a heap more excitement out of life, you two,"
Prescott admitted frankly. "Still, from my point of view, I
wouldn't swap with you."
"Just as bughouse on West Point and the Army as ever, are you?"
"Just as much, and always will be," Dick nodded, beaming.
"I can't share your enthusiasm," laughed Hazelton. "We've seen
the Army in the West, and they're a lazy, little-account lot."
Instead of getting angry, however, Dick and Greg laughed outright.
"I wish we had you at West Point for forty-eight hours, right
in barracks and Academic Building," declared Greg, his eyes dancing.
"Whew! But you'd be able to view real world from a new angle!"
"Oh, maybe at West Point," nodded Hazelton teasingly. "But afterwards,
in the Army, it's just one dream of indolence."
"Well, what do the Army officers actually do, out your ways"
"Why, they---well, they-----"
"You don't know a blessed thing about it, do you?" dared Greg.
"I thought not. You see, we do know something about what Army
officers do with their time. That's what we're learning at West
"Don't let's fight," pleaded Tom pathetically. "Fellows, we may
never meet again. Before another year rolls around Hazelton and
I may have been scalped and burned by the Apaches, and you fellows
may have died at West Point, from nervous prostration brought
on by overeating and lack of exercise. So let's be good friends
during the little time that we may have together."
"When you get time," put in Dick dryly, "you might as well tell
us when you reached Gridley."
"After ten o'clock last night," supplied Harry. "Of course, we
had to go home first. But this morning we set out to find you.
We knew, of course, that any place would be likelier than your homes,
so we tried Main Street first."
"Many folks were glad to see you?" asked Tom.
"Too many," sighed Dick. "That remark doesn't apply to any old
friends, but there are a good many who always turned up their
noses at us in the old days. Now, just because we're cadets,
and because half-baked Army officers are supposed to be somebody
in the social world, Greg and I are getting so much social mail
that we fear we shall have to hire a secretary for the summer."
"Nobody will bother _us_, I guess," grimaced Tom. "Most people
here probably think that, because we're engineers, we run locomotives.
That's what the word 'engineer' suggests to ignoramuses. Now,
the man who runs a locomotive should properly be called an
engine-tender, or engineman, while it's the fellow who surveys and
bosses the building of a railroad that is the engineer. You get a
smattering of engineering work at West Point, don't you?"
"We've been at math. and drawing, so far," Dick explained. "That
all leads up to the engineering instruction that we shall have to
take up in September."
"Oh, I dare say you'll get a very fair smattering of engineering,"
assented Tom. "It's nothing like the real practice that we get,
though, out in the field with the survey and construction parties.
I guess you fellows, after your grind in the High School, found
West Point math. pretty easy, didn't you?"
Dick laughed merrily before he answered.
"Tom, the math. that a fellow gets in High School would take up
about three months at West Point. How are you on math., now?"
"Oh, not so fearfully rotten," replied Reade complacently. "Harry
and I have had to dig up a lot of new math. since we've taken
on with an engineering corps in the field. Harry, trot up some
of the kind of mathematics that we have to use."
"Wait a moment," put in Dick. "Greg, sketch out an easy one from
the math. problems we have to dig into at West Point. Give 'em
something light from conic sections first."
Cadet Holmes sketched out, on the back of an envelope, the
demonstration of a short problem.
Tom and Harry looked on laughingly, at first. Then their eyes began
"Do you really have to dig up that sort of stuff at West Point,"
"Yes," nodded Dick. "And now I'll show you another easy one,
belonging to descriptive geometry."
The two young engineers looked on and listened for a few moments.
"Stop!" commanded Hazelton, at last. "My head is beginning to
"If that's the sort of gibberish you have to learn, I'm more than
ever glad that I didn't go to West Point," proclaimed Reade.
The old-time chums had eaten their fill of ice cream some time
before, but they still sat about the table, chatting gayly.
"There's one thing you never really told us about in your letters,"
muttered Tom. "You wrote us that Bert Dodge had resigned from
the Military Academy, but you didn't tell us why. Now, that fellow,
Dodge, never gave up anything good that he didn't have to give
up. Was he kicked out of the Academy?"
"That story isn't known in Gridley," replied Prescott, lowering
his voice. "Dodge tells people that he left because he didn't
like the crowd or the life there. We haven't changed the story
any since our return. We'll tell you fellows, for we never used
to have any secrets from you in the old days. But you mustn't
pass the yarn around."
"No," grimaced Greg. "You mustn't tell the story around. Dodge
has threatened to have us imprisoned for life, for criminal libel,
if we allow his secret to reach profane ears."
"Just why did Dodge leave West Point?" asked Reade.
"He was invited to," replied Prescott, "by a class committee on
"I thought it was something like that," grunted Reade.
Then, in low tones that could not be overheard by other patrons
of the ice cream place, Dick Prescott told the story of Dodge's
cribbing at West Point, and of the way that Bert nearly succeeded
in palming his guilt off on to Prescott.
"I'd believe every word of that yarn, even if a plumb stranger
told it to me," declared Hazelton. "It has all the earmarks
of truth. It's a complete story of just what Bert Dodge would
do in one form or another, in any walk of life."
"But you fellows won't repeat insisted Dick.
"And thereby have us consigned to prison cells for the balance of
our unworthy lives?" mocked Greg.
"You know us better than to think that we'd blab," retorted Tom
"You had a right to know, though," Prescott went on.
"Dick & Co. always were a close corporation," laughed Hazelton.
"And I hope the time will never come when we can't tell our secrets
to each other."
"I am sorry you fellows have so short a leave," murmured Dick.
"Why, What would you want us to do!" queried Tom.
"Greg and I would be tickled to death if you were going to be
here all summer," Dick answered. "In the first place, just for
the sake of having your company. In the next place, we'd think
it great if you could go back to West Point with us when our furlough
is over. If you could be there, over a Saturday and a Sunday,
we'd have time to show you a lot about the life there. You'd
feel acquainted from the start, for lots of the fellows of our
class have heard about you. You'd get a great reception."
"Gridley must seem dull, after your life in the West," mused Cadet
"Oh, I don't believe there's any place where you get excitement
all the time," declared Tom. "And there's no place so dull that
it doesn't have a little excitement once in a while."
Bang! bang! bang! sounded several sharp explosions of firearms
out in the street.
"There's some, right now!" muttered Greg, jumping up. "Come along!"
Bang! bang! bang!
As they ran forward toward the door of the ice cream place the
young men saw people fleeing in frantic haste along Main Street.
Five or six of these fugitives darted into the ice cream place.
As they did so, Chief of Police Simmons backed into the same
doorway. He had his revolver in his right hand, while he called
back over his shoulder to the owner of the store:
"Granby, telephone the station for my reserves. The Indians and
cowboys of the Wild West Show are on a rampage, and shooting up
Gridley. Tell Sergeant Cluny, from me, to bring the reserves
on the run!"
Bang! bang! bang!
Up the street came a picturesque, dangerous looking group. Three
men in cowboy hats, flannel shirts and "chaps," with revolver
holsters dangling from their belts, and each with a pair of automatic
revolvers in his hands, came along. Just behind this trio were
two indians, painted and wearing gaudy blankets. The Indian were
armed like the cowboys. It was evident that all the members of
the wild band were partially intoxicated.
Bang! bang! bang!
"Get back into the store, you young men!" ordered Chief Simmons
crisply. "These heathen are pie-eyed and they'll shoot you up
quicker than a flash!"
"Who, That lot of freaks?" demanded Tom contemptuously. "Dick!
Greg! Indians are the specialty of the Army. You go after the
redskins, while Harry and I tame these bad men!"
Like a flash, ere Chief Simmons could interfere, the four young
men were off. Straight up to the "raiders" dashed the former
High School boys.
One of the Indians wheeled, firing a fusillade just over Prescott's
"Oh, stop that noise!" ordered Dick dryly.
Before the Indian could guess it, Prescott had leaped in, had
grabbed the redskin by a famous old Gridley football tackle and
had sent the rampaging Indian to the ground Greg, equally reckless,
floored the other Indian and sat on his chest.
Tom Reade made a bolt for the fiercest-looking cowboy.
"Stop spoiling the pure air on a hot day, and give me those guns!"
commanded Reade, going straight at the fellow.
The big cowboy wheeled, aiming both weapons at Reade.
"Get back!" ordered the shooter. "If ye don't I'll pump ye full
of hole-makers! I'm bad! I'm a wolf, and this is my day to howl.
I'm a wolf---d'ye catch that, partners?"
"Then back to the menagerie for yours!" muttered Reade dryly.
"And first of all fork those guns over. You're making the air
smell of sulphur."
"Get back! I'm bad, I tell ye!"
"You, bad; you cheap Piute from Rhode Island!" sniffed Tom
Reaching forward, quick as a flash, Reade twisted a revolver from
the fellow's left hand.
"Now, pass me the other," continued Tom. "If you don't I'll wring
that wooden head of yours from your neck! I'm coming, now!"
Having tossed the captured revolver in the street behind him,
Reade made a sudden leap at the "bad wolf."
"Hold on!" cried the fellow sheepishly. "Don't get excited.
Here it is; take it!"
Seeing how readily their companion had surrendered, the other
two headed Hazelton's demand for their weapons.
From the doorway Chief Simmons had looked on at this brief, bloodless
battle like one dazed.
From up and down Main street at respectful distances, crowds of
Gridleyites gazed in stupefied wonder.
"Come on out, Chief, and talk to these naughty boys!" called Tom
good-humoredly. "They didn't mean to be troublesome, but Fourth
of July had got into their blood."
The police reserves came running up now. First of all, the revolvers
of the five wild ones were gathered up. Then the officers turned
to the prisoners that had been captured by the West Point cadets
and the Young Engineers.
"These fellows are only medicine-show cowboys," Tom explained,
with a grin, to the chief of police. "I know the real kind---and
these sorry specimens are not it. Probably these fellows have
never been west of Ohio."
"You're an Indian, I'm pretty sure," said Cadet Prescott to the
painted redskin whom he now held by one arm. "But you're a tame
Indian. What part of Maine do you come from?"
"Yes, I'm an Indian," grinned Dick's captive "I own a farm on the
east end of Long Island."
"Humph! You've been through the pubic schools, too?" demanded
Greg's Indian was quite as docile. The police now had the weapons
of all the party, except one automatic weapon that Greg was examining.
"Yah!" grinned Holmes. "This gun is loaded with blank cartridges.
I guess all the others were, too."
The guess was a wholly correct one.
By this time the Main Street crowd, wholly over its fright, was
crowding about the police and their captives.
"Say, this seems like old times!" called Sam Foss, laughingly.
"Dick & Co. right in the thick the excitement."
"There hasn't been any," grinned Prescott.
At this instant a new actor arrived on the scene. Wild Charlie,
the Indian medicine "doctor," immaculate in black frock suit and
patent leather shoes, with a handsome sombrero spread over the
glistening black hair that hung down over his shoulders, rushed up.
"Let these people go, Chief," begged the picturesque quack doctor.
"I'll pay for any damage they've done."
Chief Simmons looked the long-haired "doctor" over with a broad grin.
"You're Wild Charlie, are you?" demanded the chief.
"What part of Vermont do you come from! Or is Germany your hailing
place, Wild Charlie?"
"Don't josh me too hard, Chief," pleaded the medicine fakir "Will
you let my people go, if I settle?"
"These terrors," retorted Chief Simmons, "are about due for thirty
days for disturbing the peace."
"But that would bust my summer season, Chief," pleaded "Wild Charlie."
"Oh, don't run these innocents in, Chief," urged Tom Reade. "They
aren't really bad, and they admitted it as soon as we told 'em so.
These people are not dangerous---only a bit nervous."
"See here, Wild Charlie," grinned the chief of police, "I don't
want to do anything to make you wilder. I'll let these human
picture books go on condition that you take your show at once
and clear on out of town."
"I may just as well go," sighed the long-haired one. "This job
has ruined my business here. And say, Chief, won't you break the
guns and knock the cartridges out, and then let me have the guns,
too? They cost a lot of money!"
But on this point Chief Simmons was firm.
"No, sirree! You can take your infant terrors and load them on
the first train away from here. But the revolvers are confiscated,
Wild Charlie, and they'll stay here. You can try to recover the
revolvers by a civil suit, if you want to risk it in court. Otherwise,
make your get-away as fast as you can. I'll admit that your outfit
had the josh on me, and had me tickling the wire for the reserves.
But just now the town holds two West Point cadets, and two young
engineers from the real West, which makes Gridley no place to turn
a vaudeville powder-play loose in."
"Wild Charlie" and his band fled as fast as they could, for the
crowd was jeering loudly and talking of taking all six to the
nearest horse-trough for a ducking.
"Is that the best the old town can do for excitement in these
days?" laughed Reade, as soon as our young friends had separated
themselves from the laughing crowd and had started on a stroll.
"Why, that little episode was doing well enough for any town,"
smiled Dick. "A laugh is better than a fight, any day."
"Queer text for a soldier to preach from," grinned Hazelton.
"Not a bit," Dick retorted. "The soldier, above all men, hates
a fight, for the soldier knows he's the only one that's likely
to get hurt."
"Yes; and moreover," broke in Greg, "armies aren't organized,
in the first place, for fighting, but for preserving peace."
"Just as railroads are built to keep people from traveling," jeered
"If we don't look out the greatest excitement that we'll find today
will be starting a fight among ourselves," warned Harry dryly.
"Rot!" scoffed Tom. "The old chums of Dick & Co. couldn't fight
each other, any more that they can avoid joshing each other."
Though none of the chums guessed it, excitement enough for two
of them, possible, was brewing in another part of Gridley at that
Bert Dodge was talking almost in whispers with a young fellow
named Fessenden, who had discharged from the bank in which Bert's
father was vice president.
"You do my trick---put it through for me, Fessenden---and I'll
do my best with my father to get you back in the bank," Bert promised.
"Even if I fail in that, I'll pay you well, in addition to the
money I've just given you."
"Oh, it won't be a hard job to put through," nodded young Fessenden,
understandingly. "I can find two fellows who have nerve enough,
and who will go into court and swear to anything I want them to."
"That's the talk!" glowed young Dodge. "You will testify that
Dick Prescott was talking with you, and that he told innumerable
lies to blacken my name that he libeled me!"
WHAT ABOUT MR. CAMERON?
One place that Dick Prescott made it a point to visit early in his
furlough was the office of the morning "Blade," for which paper, in
his old High School days, the cadet had worked as a local reporter
A "space writer" is one who is paid so much per column for all
matter of his that is published in the paper.
Had it not been for the "Blade" Dick Prescott would not have been
as well supplied with pocket money as he had been during his High
Everyone about the "Blade" office, in the old days, had expected
that Prescott, at the end of his High School course, would join
the "Blade" staff as a "regular." But Dick had had his own plans
about West Point, although he had kept his intentions a secret
from nearly every one but his chums.
Early one bright June afternoon Dick strolled into the "Blade"
"Why, hullo, my boy!" cried Editor Pollock, jumping up out of
his chair and coming forward, hand outstretched. Bradley, the
news editor, and Len Spencer, the "star" reporter, now growing
comically fat, rushed forward to meet the cadet.
"Sit down, Dick, and let's hear all about West Point," urged Mr.
Pollock, placing a chair beside his own, while the other members
of the staff crowded about. "What sort of a place is West Point,
and how do you like it there?"
Dick smilingly gave them a lively account of life at the United
States Military Academy.
"I hope you're keeping track of all this, Len," nodded the editor
to Reporter Spencer. "Tell us plenty more, too Dick. We want
to give you and Holmes at least a bully two-column write-up."
Dick's cheery look suddenly changed to one of mild alarm.
"Do you want to do me a big favor, Mr. Pollock?"
"Anything up to a page, my boy, and you know it," replied the
editor heartily. "We still regard you as one of the 'Blade' family."
"The favor I'm going to ask, Mr. Pollock, is that you don't give
Greg and myself a write-up."
The editor looked so hurt that Prescott made haste to add, earnestly:
"Please don't misunderstand me, Mr. Pollock. But you simply cannot
imagine the trouble that a fine write-up in a home paper may make
for a cadet. If I were a plebe, now, the upper classman would
get hold of the write-up, somehow, and they'd make me read it aloud,
at least a hundred times, while upper classmen stood about
and congratulated me on being such a fine fellow as the paper
described. As Greg and I are now second classman, we couldn't
be hazed in quite that way. But the other fellows would find
some other way of using that home-paper write-up as a club for
pounding us every now and then. Mr. Pollock, believe me, cadet
is mighty lucky whose home paper doesn't say anything about him."
"What is the matter?" asked the editor gravely. "Are the other
"No; it isn't that," Prescott answered. "That sort of thing is
done, at West Point, to keep from getting the 'big head.' Probably
your memory goes back easily to the Spanish War days. You will
remember that Mr. Hobson, of the Navy, sank the Merrimac in the
harbor at Santiago, so that the Spanish ships, when they got out,
had to come out in single file. Mr. Hobson has a younger brother
then at the Military Academy. Well, the story still runs at West
Point that Military Cadet Hobson was forced to read aloud all
the best things about his brother in the Navy that the other cadets
could find in the newspapers. Besides that, Cadet Hobson, so
we are told today, had to 'sail' chips on a tub of water, at the
same time bombarding the chips with pebbles and cheering for his
brother. At West Point it doesn't pay a cadet to be famous, even
in the light of reflected glory. Now, that is why I beg you, not
to give Greg and myself the write-up that you propose."
"All right, then," sighed the editor.
"On the other hand, Mr. Pollock, I'll tell you all manner of lively
and printable facts about West Point, if you won't mention Greg
or myself or even mention the fact that Gridley has any cadets at
the Military Academy."
"That will have to answer," nodded Mr. Pollock. "But we wanted to
do something big for you, Dick."
"And you'll be doing something very big for us, if you don't mention
us at all," smiled Prescott.
So the "Blade" had a good deal of interesting reading about West
Point the next morning. Many Gridleyites were not satisfied because
neither Prescott nor Holmes was mentioned in connection with the
The second time that Mr. Pollock met his former reporter was on
"I've been kicking myself, Dick, because I forgot something the
other day," declared the editor. "I have one of the nicest, gentlest
little trotting mares in this part of the state, and a very
comfortable light buggy with top and side curtains. I hardly
ever use the rig in hot weather. Now, won't you often have use
for a horse and buggy while you're at home? If so, just ring up
Getchel's Livery at any time, day or night, and tell 'em to hitch
up against your coming. Will you?"
Dick tried hard to find words in which to thank Mr. Pollock for
the generous offer.
First of all, Prescott took Holmes out driving, one forenoon, to
"try out" the mare. The little animal proved speedy but tractable---a
wholly safe driving horse.
"I'm not a betting man," quoth Greg, "but I'll lay a wager that
I can guess who gets the next drive behind this horse.
"Post your wager," laughed Dick gayly.
"Wrong! My mother gets the next drive."
And so she did, that same afternoon. But the following afternoon
Prescott, after a good deal of attention to his personal appearance,
walked to Getchel's and drove away from there behind the mare.
The next stop was at the house of Dr. Bentley.
Yet, when Cadet Prescott caught his first glimpse of the broad,
cool veranda of the doctor's house, the young man felt a sudden
throb of the heart.
Another young man---he looked to be somewhat under thirty---was
seated in a big rocker, close to Laura. Both young people were
laughing gayly before Miss Bentley caught sight of Dick.
"You're occupied, I see," called Prescott lightly, though the
tone cost him an effort.
"Come right up, Dick," called Laura, so the cadet leaped from
the buggy, hitching the horse. The he turned into the broad walk
and gained the veranda, where he was presented to Mr. Cameron.
Mr. Cameron greeted the cadet pleasantly, yet didn't seem overjoyed
at his presence. Nor did Mr. Cameron seem in the least inclined to
take himself away.
Usually most self-possessed, Dick Prescott fidgeted a trifle,
and felt uncomfortable now. He wondered if good taste did not call
for him to take himself away after a brief conversation. It was
Laura who finally came to the rescue.
"Dick," she laughed, "there's something on your mind. I'm afraid
I shall have to help you out. Did you come to ask me to go driving?"
"Yes," Dick nodded. "But of course I realize that some other time
will be better."
"Oh, don't let me spoil fun," begged Mr. Cameron, half rising,
as though hoping to be asked to seat himself again.
"Mr. Cameron," Miss Bentley replied sweetly, rising also as her
caller completed the act of getting upon his feet, "I know you
will excuse me now, rude as it seems in me to ask it. But Mr.
Prescott's time in Gridley is very limited, and we are all anxious
to see as much of him as possible."
"Say no more, Miss Bentley," begged Mr. Cameron, forcing a genial
smile. "Mr. Prescott, I congratulate you on having such a good
champion. Good afternoon, Laura. Good afternoon, Mr. Prescott;
I am very glad indeed to have had the pleasure of meeting you."
"I am most happy to have met you, sir; if it were not for my own
great good fortune, and my natural selfishness, I would feel most
regretful over being the means of distracting Miss Bentley's
Laura, as soon as she had extended her hand to Mr. Cameron, had
run inside to get her hat. By the time that Mr. Cameron had reached
the front gate Laura came out again, adjusting a wonderfully becoming
bit of headgear.
"I am almost ashamed of myself for having spoiled another's call,"
Prescott told her.
"Oh, don't mind about Mr. Cameron," laughed Laura lightly. "He
has plenty opportunity, if he enjoys it, to call at other seasons
of the year."
"Oh! Does he?" muttered Dick. He began to feel a most unwarrantable
dislike for Mr. Cameron.
ALONG A "DANGEROUS" ROAD
"Oh, yes," smiled Laura. "Mr. Cameron is a frequent visitor."
This information had the effect of making Prescott almost feel
that he would enjoy kicking that other young man.
"You are old friends, then?" he asked lightly, as he tucked the
thin carriage robe about Laura, then picked up the lines.
"No; quite recent acquaintances. We met about four months ago,
I think it was."
Though she spoke with apparent indifference, Prescott covertly
caught sight of a slight flush rising to the girl's face.
"After all," muttered Dick inwardly, "why not? Laura isn't a
schoolgirl any longer, and it certainly most be difficult for
any young man who has the chance to call to keep away from her!"
So Cadet Prescott tried to persuade himself that it was all very
natural for Mr. Cameron to call and for Laura to be glad to see
Mr. Cameron. Dick even tried to feel glad that Laura was receiving
attentions---but the effort ended in secret failure.
Then Dick, as he drove along, tried to tell himself that he didn't
care, and that he hadn't any right to care---but in this also he
fell short of success with himself.
So he fell silent, without intending to. Laura, on her part,
tried to make up for his silence by chatting pleasantly, but after
a while she, too, found herself out of words.
Then, for a mile, they drove along almost in complete silence.
Yet Cadet Prescott found plenty of chance to eye her covertly.
What he saw was a beautiful girl, so sweet and wholesome looking
that he had hard work, indeed, to keep ardent words from rushing
to his lips.
"She grows sweeter and finer all the time," he muttered to himself.
"Why shouldn't men be eager to call, often and long?"
At last the mare stumbled slightly, and Prescott jerked the animal
so quickly and almost savagely on the lines that Miss Bentley
looked at him with something of a start.
"Dick," spoke Laura at last, turning and looking him frankly,
sweetly in the eyes, "have I done anything to offend you?"
"I wondered," she continued. "You have been so very silent."
"I am afraid I was thinking," muttered Dick. "And that's a very
rude thing to do when it makes one seem to ignore the lady who
is with him," he added, forcing a smile. "I beg your pardon,
Laura, ten times over."
"Oh, I don't mind your being abstracted," she answered simply,
"so long as I am not the cause of it."
Dick checked himself quickly.
He had been right on the point of admitting that she had been
the cause of his abstraction, and such a statement as that would
have called for an abundance of further explanation.
So he forced himself into a peal of laughter that sounded nearly
"If I were to tell you what a ridiculous thing I was thinking about,
Laura!" he chuckled.
Then his West Point training against all forms of deceit led him
to wondering, at once, whether Mr. Cameron could truthfully be
defined as "a ridiculous thing."
"Tell me," smiled the girl patiently.
"Not I," defied Prescott gayly. "Then you would find me more
ridiculous than the thing about which I was thinking."
"Oh!" she replied, and the cadet fancied that his companion spoke
in a tone of more or less hurt.
But, at least, Dick could look straight into her face now, as they
talked, and every instant he realized more and more keenly how
lovely Miss Bentley was growing to be.
They were driving down sweet-scented country lanes now. The whole
scene fitted romance. The cadet remembered Flirtation Walk, at
West Point, and it struck him that there was danger, at the present
moment, of Flirtation Drive.
"I wonder what the dear girl is thinking about at this present
moment?" pondered Dick.
"I wonder what it was that made him so abstracted, and then so
suddenly merry?" was the thought in Miss Bentley's mind.
"That was a very pretty road we came through before we turned into
this one," commented Dick at a hazard.
"I didn't notice it," replied Laura. "Where are we now? Oh,
yes! I know the locality now."
"You have driven out here before---with Mr. Cameron?"
The words were out ere Cadet Prescott could recall them. He felt
indescribably angry with himself. In the first place, the question
he had asked was really none of his business. In the second place,
his inquiry, under the circumstances, was a rude one.
"Mr. Cameron was in the party," Laura replied readily. "There
was quite a number of us; it was a 'bus ride one May afternoon.
We came out to gather wild flowers."
"If I had the right," flamed up within the cadet, "I'd soon make
Mr. Cameron my business, or else I'd be some of his. But it wouldn't
be fair. I'm not through West Point yet, and I may never be.
Until my future is fairly assured I'm not going to ask the sweetest
girl on earth to commit her future to my hands. Even if I felt
that I could, a cadet is forbidden to marry and a two years' engagement
is a fearfully long one to ask of a girl. And a girl like Laura
has a chance to meet hundreds of more satisfactory fellows than I
in two years."
It required all the young soldier's will power to keep silent
on the one subject uppermost in his mind. And even Dick realized
that some very trivial circumstance was likely to unseat his firm
What he was trying to act up to was his sense of fairness. Hard
as it was under the circumstances, he was more anxious to be fair
to this girl than to any other living being.
"I mustn't spoil her afternoon, just because my own mind is so
dizzy!" he thought reproachfully.
So, a moment later, he became merrier than ever---on the surface.
It was Laura's turn to take a covert look at his face. She wondered,
for she felt that Prescott's assumed gayety had an almost feverish
"How much further are you going to drive?" she asked presently.
"The only pleasure I recognize in the matter, Laura, is yours.
So I am wholly at your command."
He tried to answer lightly and gallantly, yet felt, an instant
later, that his words had had a strained sound.
The same thought had struck the girl.
Yet, instead of asking him to turn the horse's head about, Laura
"Gridley must be pleasant, as your home town, yet I fancy you are
already looking forward to getting back to your ideals at West Point?"
"Is she tired of having me around?" wondered Cadet Prescott, wincing
within, as though he had been stabbed.
"I'm keener for West Point, every day, Laura," he answered quietly.
"Yet, even in the case of such a grand old place as the Military
Academy, it is worth while to get away once in a while. If it
were not for this long furlough, midway in the four years' course,
many of us might go mad with the incessant grind."
"Oh, you poor Dick!" cried Laura Bentley, in quick, genuine sympathy.
"Yes; I think I can quite understand what you say."
And then a new light came into her eyes, as she added, very softly:
"We in Gridley, who hope for you with your own intensity of longings,
must take every pains to make this furlough of yours restful enough
and full enough of happiness to send you back to West Point with
redoubled strength for the grind."
"The same Laura as of yesterday!" cried Dick with sincere enthusiasm.
"Always wondering how to make life a little sweeter for others!"
"Thank you," she half bowed quietly. "Yes; I want to see your
strength proven among strong men."
Again she looked frankly into Prescott's eyes, and he, at the
same moment, into hers. His pulses were bounding. What was to
become, now, of his resolution to hold back the surging words for
at least two more years?
Yet resolutely he stifled the feelings that surged within him.
He was a boy, though the training at West Point was swiftly making
him over into a man.
"I may lose her," groaned Cadet Prescott. "I may have lost her
already---if I ever had any chance. But a soldier has at least
his honor to think of, and no honorable man can ask a woman to
give herself to him, and to wait for years, when he isn't reasonably
certain he is going to be able to meet the responsibility that
Never had Prescott been more earnest, more serious, nor more attentive
than during the remainder of that drive. Yet he studiously refrained
from giving the girl any hint of the thoughts that were surging
Was he foolish?
Dick felt, anyway, that he was not, for he was waging a mighty fight
to stand by his best sense of honor.
THE SURPRISE THE LAWYER HAD IN STORE
The days went by swiftly, merrily.
Dick continued to see all that was possible of Laura Bentley,
without seeming to try to monopolize her time.
As for careless, good-humored, nearly heart-free Greg, that young
man divided his time almost impartially among several very pretty
girls. Cadet Holmes had no thought of arousing baseless hopes in
any young woman's mind. He simply had not yet reached the age when
he was likely to be tied closely by any girl's bright-hued ribbons.
Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton were much with the young West Pointers.
Had Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell been able to be home from Annapolis
at this time, the cup of joy would have been full for all the old
chums of Dick & Co. But that was not to be.
Even Reade and Hazelton were home only on limited leave, for they
were still very young engineers, who could not sacrifice much
time away from their work lest they lose the ground already gained.
So just after the Fourth of July, Tom and Harry left, on a morning
train, the two young West Pointers going to the station to see
them off with many a handshake, many a yearning wish for the two
dear old chums of former days.
"The blamed old town will seem a bit empty, won't it?" demanded
Greg, as the cadet pair strolled back from the railway station.
"What'll it be in after years," sighed Dick, "with you up at some
fort on the Great Lakes, say, with me in Boston, Tom and Harry
somewhere out West, with Dave on the European station and Dan,
perhaps, on the China station? Oh, well, chums who want to stick
together through life should go in for jobs in the same factory!"
"I suppose we'll get more used to being apart, as the years roll
on," muttered Greg. "But I know it would be mighty jolly, this
summer, if all the fellows of Dick & Co. could be here in Gridley."
"There's Bert Dodge," whispered Prescott.
"It was hardly worth the trouble to tell me anything about him,"
retorted Holmes, not taking the trouble to look at their ancient
"But what a scowl the fellow is wearing," smiled Dick, half in
"Scowling is his highest pleasure in life," returned Greg.
"He looked at me," continued Dick, as though he had discovered
some new reason for hating me."
"If he knew how little thought you gave to him he wouldn't really
take the trouble to hate you. Dodge has far more reason to dislike
himself. Where are you heading now?"
"Home and to the store," replied Dick. "I just saw the postman
leaving. Come along."
As Dick and his chum entered, both his father and mother were
behind the counter.
"Dr. Davidson and his wife are in the back room," announced Mrs.
Prescott. "They would like to see you, Dick."
"Oh, your new pastor and his wife? Will you excuse me, and wait
for me a few minutes, Greg?" asked Dick.
Holmes, nodding, picked up a magazine and seated himself. It
was twenty minutes ere Dick came out from that back room. Then
the chums started out for another stroll.
"Where are you going now?" asked Greg, suddenly, realizing that
his chum was walking at an almost spurting gait.
"In looking over my mail," replied Dick grimly, "I found a letter
from Lawyer Griffin."
"What does he want, You don't owe any money, here or anywhere else."
"Griffin wrote me that he wanted to see me about a case that has
been placed in his hands," replied Prescott quietly.
Greg started, then changed color.
"Dick," he demanded, "do you know what the lawyer's business is
"The lawyer's letter doesn't state any more than I have told you."
"Dick, that hound Dodge must be up to some trick!"
"I imagine that's the answer," replied Cadet Prescott quietly.
"And you're going to see the lawyer?"
"Humph!" muttered Greg. "I know what I'd do. I'd make the lawyer
come to see me."
"But I prefer going to his office."
"As soon as I can get there."
"And you want me with you?"
"Most decidedly, Greg. I don't care to go into the lawyer's office
without a competent witness."
"Then I'm yours, old fellow."
"I know that, Greg."
Despite himself Holmes began to feel decidedly uneasy.
"What on earth can Dodge be up to?" muttered Greg. "He threatened
a libel prosecution one day last month. Can it be that he has
found people who can be bribed to perjure themselves, and that he
is going to make his hint good?"
"It half looks that way," assented Dick.
"Then may a plague seize the cur!" cried Greg, vehemently. "Why,
if the fellow can buy other people into making out a case of libel
"I might be convicted, and that conviction would cut short my Army
career," replied Prescott as quietly as ever.
Greg stopped short in his walk, staring aghast at his chum.
"Why, can Dodge be scoundrel enough for that?" he gasped.
"The best way to judge a man, like a horse, is by the record of
his past performances," responded Prescott as quietly as ever.
"So that unutterable cur, since he couldn't remain in the Army,
is determined that you shan't, either! Dick, old ramrod, I'm
shaking all over with indignation and contempt, and you're as
cool as an old colonel going under fire again for the thousandth
"If there's any real danger I guess I'd better remain cool," spoke
Prescott slowly, though there was a flash of fire in his eyes.
"There's Bert Dodge again!" quivered Holmes, glancing along the
street. "Hurry up! Let's meet him. Just on general principles
one of us ought to thrash him, and I most joyously volunteer."
"Don't you do anything of the sort," begged Dick quickly. "We
don't want to make any matter worse. Here's the building where
Griffin has his offices. Come; we'll go up and see him."
The two West Pointers were soon in the lawyer's office. Mr. Griffin
was disengaged, and saw the young men at once. This attorney was
rather a new-comer in Gridley. Dick and Greg met him for the first
time. Prescott rather liked the man's appearance.
"Do you want the whole affair discussed before your friend, Mr.
Prescott?" demanded Griffin.
"By all means, sir," Dick responded.
"Very good, then," replied the lawyer, who was still engaged in
studying the faces of both cadets.
Then, while the two West Pointers sat before him, their faces
impassive, Mr. Griffin continued.
"When I was retained on this case I was asked to put the whole
matter before the Grand Jury at its next sitting. It is so very
unusual, however, to have criminal cases against West Point men
that I insisted with my clients that I would not take a decisive
step, Mr. Prescott, until I had first seen you."
"Thank you, sir," nodded Cadet Prescott.
"In brief then," went on the lawyer, "Mr. Dodge and his son Bert
have placed a good deal of sworn evidence in my hands, and they
have instructed me, Prescott, to procure your indictment on a
charge of uttering criminally libelous statements against Bert
PRESCOTT LAYS A POWDER TRAIL
Greg Holmes turned very white for an instant.
Then a flush rose to his face. He leaped to his feet, his hands
"This is an infamous, outrageous, lying-----"
"Thank you, Greg," Prescott broke in coolly. "But will you let
me question Mr. Griffin?"
"Yes," subsided Greg, sinking back into his chair. "I don't know
that I could say any more. It would be merely a change in the words."
Cadet Prescott turned back to the lawyer.
"Mr. Griffin, will you tell me why you sent for me?"
"Because," replied the man of law, "I have some knowledge of the
average West Point material. Frankly, I couldn't wholly credit
this charge against you. I wanted to see you and have a talk
with you, and I so informed the elder Dodge. Unless you can satisfy
me that this is a ridiculous case, or a wholly malicious prosecution,
then I shall feel obliged, as a lawyer, to take up the charges
with the district attorney, after which we shall proceed in the
usual way. But, first of all, I want to have a talk with you."
"That is very fair, sir," replied Dick.
"And I want to be fair," replied the lawyer with emphasis. "I
want to make sure that I am not taking part in a case needlessly
malicious, and one which, pushed to a needless conclusion, might
rob the Army of a valuable future officer."
"I appreciate your courtesy and fairness, and I, thank you, sir,"
"Now, Mr. Prescott, do you mind telling me, in a general way,
at least, just what you have said to others about young Dodge
since you have been home on your furlough?"
"I would rather, sir, tell you something else instead," replied
Cadet Prescott, with the ghost of a smile. "You have some affidavits,
Mr. Griffin---or, at least, you have some witnesses, and they
have very likely furnished you with affidavits. The names of
your witnesses, or of your most important witnesses, are Fessenden,
Bettrick and Deevers. Fessenden was a bank clerk, discharged
from the bank by the elder Dodge. Bettrick is a truck-driver,
and Deevers is---well, I understand he has no more important
occupation than lounging about drinking places."
"I am sorry that you know the names of my witnesses," replied
Lawyer Griffin gravely. "I am beginning to be impressed with
the idea that you know their names so readily because you recall
having said something in their presence or hearing against young
"That is hardly likely," replied Dick, smiling coolly, "because
I do not believe that I know either of the three young men by
"Then why," demanded the attorney, eyeing the young West Pointer
keenly, "do you know so much about their occupations or lack of
occupation? And why do you know that they are all young men?"
"I will tell you," replied Dick. "In the first place, you know
Dr. Carter, do you not?"
"He is a reputable physician, isn't he?"
"I believe Dr. Carter to be a very honorable man."
"Do you know Dr. Davidson?"
"I understand that he is one of the new pastors in town," admitted
"You imagine he would make a creditable witness, don't you?"
"Jurors generally accept the testimony of a clergyman at its face
value," replied Attorney Griffin.
"Down in one of the tenements of Gridley," pursued Prescott, rising
and leaning one elbow upon the corner of the top of the lawyer's
roll-top desk, "is a young man named Peters. He is a mill hand
who has been away from his work for weeks on account of illness.
Dr. Carter has been attending him, probably without charging
much if any fee. Last night Peters had a small boy rush out and
telephone in haste for Dr. Carter. As it happened, the physician
was at his office, and answered quickly. After Dr. Carter had
been in Peters's room, perhaps a minute, the physician hurried
out into the street, stopping the first man whom he met. That
man happened to be Dr. Davidson. The two men returned to Peters's
room. Now, all three of them listened."
Lawyer Griffin was eyeing Prescott curiously.
"Yesterday afternoon," continued Dick, changing the subject with
seeming abruptness, "Fessenden, Bettrick and Deevers were all here,
and signed affidavits before a clerk of yours, who is a notary public."
"Proceed," requested Mr. Griffin, without either denying or admitting
the truth of Dick's statement.
"Since he lost his bank position," Dick went on, "Fessenden has
been compelled to live in a wretched room next to that occupied
by the sick man Peters. Two nights ago, as you will remember,
there was a heavy rain. Now, the roof leaked at that tenement
house, and the dripping water washed away some of the plaster
covering the none-too-thick partition between the room of Fessenden
and the room of Peters. So our sick man heard much of the conversation