Part 3 out of 4
to himself, as he strode away from the game. "I want to see Prescott
go up against the real star Darrin, and get his neck broken!"
Anstey was one of the few at West Point who knew anything about
the friendship between Prescott, Holmes, Darrin and Dalzell.
Dan Dalzell had also made the Annapolis eleven, playing right
tackle. That was bound to bring him into hard grip with Greg.
"Anstey, I hope there's time for you to make the acquaintance
of Dave and Dan," Dick said earnestly while the Virginian was
visiting Greg and himself. "Dave and Dan are two of the real
fellows, if there are any left in the world.
"They must be, old ramrod," replied the Virginian quietly, "if
they hold such place in your affections, and in old Holmesy's."
Great was the rejoicing, on the eventful morning, when the two
"Army specials" pulled out from the station down by the river's
The first section of the train pulled out ahead, carrying the
officers of the post, their families and closest friends.
On the second longer section traveled the corps of cadets---with
the exception of a few of the young men who, under discipline,
were not allowed to take this trip. With the cadets went the
tactical officers and the coaching force.
At Jersey City the first real stop was made. Then the journey
was resumed to Philadelphia.
Franklin Field was crowded with somewhere between thirty and
thirty-five thousand people when the corps of cadets, headed by
the band, marched on to the field and thence to the seats reserved
for the band and the corps.
The whole progress of the corps across the field was accompanied
by lusty cheering, by applause and by the mad waving of the gray,
black and gold Army pennants. Most of the spectators who carried
the Navy's blue and gold pennants so far forgot their partisanship
as to cheer and wave for the Army's young men.
Hardly was the corps of cadets seated when another loud strain
of joyous music was heard. The brigade of midshipmen, from Annapolis,
behind the Naval Academy Band, was now entering the field. All
the cheering and all the other frantic signs of approval were
repeated, the corps of cadets from West Point lending heavy additional
volume to the rousing send-off.
In the meantime rival football squads had been hustled off to
As the Army squad made quick time to the dressing rooms, Dick
and Greg had their eyes on the alert for even the briefest glimpse
of any of the Navy eleven. It was two years and a half since Dick
and Greg had had even a glimpse of Dave or Dan. How the two West
Pointers yearned for even an instant's look at the chums of old days!
But no such exchange of glimpses was possible at this time. The
Army players and substitutes got into their togs, then waited.
"All ready?" called Brayton at last. "Then fall in and out on
to the field in double time!"
Another wild outburst of cheering was let loose when the Army
eleven trotted in into view. The Military Academy Band began
playing. An instant later the Naval Academy Band fell in, playing
the same air by ear.
The ball was turned loose, and after it went the players. The
practice work was brisk and warm.
Hardly had the combined bands stopped playing when another great
yell broke loose. Young men in the blue and gold striped stockings
of the Navy were trotting on to the field. The Navy band turned
itself loose, followed in an instant by the Army band.
The din was something bewildering. Those in the further seats
could not hear the music of the bands at all.
Dick and Greg watched covertly as they saw the Navy team come
on at the other end of the field. Which was Dave, and which was
Dan? Hang it, how disguising these football suits were!
Both teams went on with their practice. There came a moment when
the Army and Navy teams came closer to each other.
Then the eager spectators saw something that was not on the programme.
The chums of the old Gridley days had made each other out in the
same moment. There was a rush. In mid-field Dick Prescott and
Dave Darrin gripped hands as if they could never let go again.
Across their outstretched arms Greg and Dan found each other in a
So delighted were the old chums that they fairly hugged each other.
Over it all, while the spectators gazed in silent wonder, came
the strains from the Army band, for the leader, more with a sense
of the fitting than from any knowledge of facts, waved his men
into the strains of "Auld Lang Syne."
"Should auld acquaintance be forgot-----"
The band was playing softly. As the spectators took up the fine
old words the band music died down. There came a rolling rattle
from the drum section of the Navy band, and then high over all
the voices rose the triumphant measures of "Columbia, the Gem
of the Ocean."
That crowd forgot to cheer. It was a moment for song, as thousands,
catching the full spirit of the air, gave voice to---
"The Army and Navy forever!"
Not a word, so far, had been spoken by any one of the chums.
They had not intended to bring about a scene like this, making
themselves the central figures in the great picture. But it was
too late to retreat.
"It seems as though an age had gone by, Dave," spoke Cadet Prescott.
"It surely does, Dick," returned Midshipman Darrin.
"And we've got to beat you today, too," said Midshipman Dalzell
"What? Beat the Army?" gasped Cadet Holmes.
"The Navy is the only crowd that can really do it," admitted Dalzell.
"Foes in sport today, Dave!" declared Prescott ardently. "But in
nothing else, ever!"
"Never mind either the Army or the Navy, just for the minute,"
begged Dave Darrin. "But it's great, isn't it, just to be in
the service at all?"
Then, becoming suddenly aware that they had demoralized the practice
work of both elevens, cadets and midshipmen parted.
"But do your best to beat me today, Dave!" begged Dick.
"I surely will!" came back the retort. "And don't you falter
for the Army, Dick!"
"Old friends, Prescott?" demanded Brayton as the two cadets ran
back to their own forces.
"We four learned football together, on the same team," confessed Dick.
"Is that man Darrin as big a wonder as we've heard?" queried Brayton.
"Bigger, I'm afraid," returned Prescott.
"He opposes you today. Can he get away with you?"
"He may be able to batter me down. But I'll give him all the
trouble I can, Brayton. Darrin is for the Navy, but I'm equally
for the Army!"
"It will be all right, as long as friendship doesn't break up your
work," warned Brayton.
"That very friendship will make all four of us fight harder than
ever we did in our lives before," spoke Prescott seriously.
At almost the very same moment Dave Darrin was saying about the
same thing to the captain of the Navy team.
"Humph! Do those fellows think they're posing before a moving-picture
The one who uttered that remark was turnback Haynes. He had come
on to the field with a scowling face, and the scowl was likely
to deepen steadily.
Anstey, from his seat, had been "all eyes" for the pair whom he
now knew to be the heard-about Darrin and Dalzell.
All Anstey's further speculation was cut short.
The Army and Navy elevens were lining up to start play.
HEROES AND A SNEAK
Turnback Haynes watched the game closely, darkly.
He wanted to note and to remember every play near the Army's left
end today. Should the Navy win the day's battle, then Cadets
Haynes felt sure he could make a large number of men in the second
class at the Military Academy believe that Prescott had allowed
his ancient friendship to stand in the way of an Army victory.
"Great Caesar, I might even succeed in getting to be president
of the class yet!" muttered the turnback. "There they go again!"
A second or two later the wild cheering began again.
For the Army was charging with the ball, well down in Navy territory,
and Prescott, with the pigskin safely tucked, was using his most
wily tactics to get by Dave Darrin.
And Dick succeeded, too, though only for eight yards, when Dave
had the satisfaction of helping to pull his old-time chum down
to the ground in the interests of the Navy.
For a little while the ball had been over on Army ground. Now,
however, it was going steadily toward the Navy's goal line, and
the interest of the spectators was intense.
The time of the game was more than half gone. Once the Navy had
been forced to carry the pig skin behind its own line, gaining
thus a fresh lease of life in the game. But, of course, the safety
scored two against the Navy. For a while afterward it had looked
as though that, would be the score for the game---two to nothing.
"If Brayton uses Prescott just right, and doesn't call on them
too often, they'll get the ball over the Navy's goal line yet,"
confided Lieutenant Carney to a brother officer who stood at his
"The Navy line-up is a great one this year," replied his comrade.
"For myself I'd be satisfied to see the score end as it stands---two
"Without a touchdown on either side!" questioned Lieutenant Carney,
with a trace of scorn in his voice. "That wouldn't be real sport,
"I know; but it would be at least a safe finish for the Army,"
responded the other.
Just then Quarterback Boyle's voice was heard giving the signal:
Lieutenant Carney gave his friend's arm a slight nudge.
By way of Greg the ball came to Dick, who, already in fleet motion,
was none the less ready for the pass.
With the ball under his arm, Prescott started. Almost in an instant
Dave and Dan piled upon him, ere Greg could get in for effective
Two more downs and the Navy had the ball.
Now Darrin, with Dalzell's close elbow-touch throughout, started a
series of brilliant plays. To be sure, Dave didn't make all the
runs, but he made the larger part of them.
Turnback Haynes's eyes began to snap.
Dave Darrin was playing with fire in his eyes.
Prescott was fighting back, doggedly, sullenly it almost seemed,
but Darrin was putting on his best streak of the day. Ere the Navy
was obliged to give up the ball once more it had crossed the line,
and was twelve yards down in Army territory.
Nor did the Army succeed in getting the ball back over the center
line. Once more the Navy took the ball and began to work wonders
with it. Within fifteen yards of the Army goal line the middies
carried the ball, by easy stages.
Dan Dalzell, for an instant, caught Greg's glance and sent him
a look of comical warning.
Holmes stiffened, though he returned the look in all personal
"Don't let Dave do it---whatever he'll be up to next," begged
Greg, in an appealing whisper. "Dick, I'll stay beside you---to
It was another right-end pass for the Navy, backed by a solid
Worse, in the impact that followed Dave succeeded, somehow, in
outwitting even Prescott's stern vigilance.
Dick Prescott gave vent to a gasp. He felt his heart thumping
as he wheeled, dashing after Dave.
But Darrin was in his element now, neither to be stopped, nor
overtaken. Dodging with marvellous agility and craft three Army
men who sought to bar his way, Dave went pantingly over the Army
goal line---scoring a touchdown!
What a fearful tumult ascended from the seats of the Navy's sympathizers
over on the stands!
The Navy had proved itself, by scoring the only touchdown.
Lieutenant Carney groaned inwardly. Two to five now---and the
Army coach saw no more hope of scoring for this day.
Flushed, happy, the midshipmen ran back to form their line for
the try for goal.
That kick missed fire. No matter! Five to two for the Navy,
At the signal the Army and Navy lined up to fight out what was
left of time to play the game.
Naval Academy band and the whole navel crowd were having the
jubilation all their own way.
The midshipmen, having proved slight superiority over the Army,
could doubtless prevent more scoring in this game.
In fact, the Navy captain had just passed this wood to the members
of his team:
"Score, of course, if we can. But, above all, keep the Army from
It was the Navy's turn to make the kick-off. This gave the Army
at least the chance of starting the running with the ball.
Prescott and Holmes had shown as yet no signs of cave in.
Every player on the Navy team looked to see this swift, tricky
army pair make the first effort of the new series.
He carried it ten yards, too, ere he was obliged to go to the
ground with the pigskin under him. The next play was made at
the center of the Army line.
What was the matter? wondered many of the Army watchers. Was
Brayton becoming dissatisfied with his left wing?
"Humph!" rejoined Haynes sourly.
But the third time that the ball was put in play it went swiftly
to Prescott. Instead of trying to make his way around the end,
Dick suddenly sped some what to the right. Darrin had gone in
the opposite direction, yet, thoroughly familiar with his old
chum's tricky ways of play, Dave had his eyes wide open. So he
wheeled, rushing at Prescott. But he bumped, instead, with Greg,
a fraction of a second before Dalzell could reach the spot and
take a hand.
Then the whole Army line charged down on the endangered spot.
Dick was through, and the Navy men were having all they do.
In a twinkling Prescott had sped, on, now was he caught and downed
until he had the ball within twelve yards of the Navy's goal line.
Right off the Army cheer-master was on the job. The corps yell
was raised with Prescott's name and Holmes's.
Brayton looked flushed and happy. He hoped yet to show these
over-confident middies something.
Again the line-up was made for the snapback. The midshipmen players
were now justifiably nervous, though they gave no sign of the fact.
Again the signal was given. Holmes received the ball and started.
The whole Army line veered to the left. The Navy moved to mass
in support of Darrin and Dalzell.
Yet, just as the Navy men thought they could stop Greg, it turned
out that Prescott carried the pigskin.
Nor did Cadet Prescott lose any time at all in trying to buck the line.
Ere the attention of the Navy had been drawn away from Holmes,
Prescott was off on a slanting line around the Navy's right end.
Even Dave Darrin was properly fooled this time. Dick had only to
shake off a halfback and the fullback and he was over the goal line,
holding down the ball.
Never before had Franklin Field heard a greater din than now arose.
The Army Band was now playing furiously, yet the musicians barely
heard themselves. The black, gold and gray pennants of the Army
were waving frantically over half the field. The noise of cheering
must have been heard a mile away.
From the cadets themselves came some Army yell for which the
cheer-master had signaled, but no one heard what it was.
The noise continued until the line-up had been effected for the
kick for goal.
Brayton, flushed with delight, chose to make the kick himself.
The pigskin soared, describing a beautiful curve. Between the
goal posts it went, dropping back of the line.
Gloom had fallen over the middies, who realized that but three
minutes time was left.
Swiftly as could be, the line-up was made for the kick-off. It
was the Army's turn to start the ball, the Navy's to come back
with it, if possible, into Army territory.
The Navy soon succeeded in getting the pigskin a trifle over the
middle line. But the time was too short in which to do anything
decisive. The Army was strictly on the defensive, taking no chances.
Time was called.
The Army had won, eight to five!
When it was all over the middies cheered the victors as lustily as
anyone, though sore hearts beat under the blue uniforms of Annapolis.
West Points cadets, on the other hand, were wild with joy.
Again and again they sent up the rousing corps yell for Prescott
and Holmes, with Brayton's name added.
Turnback Haynes, finding no one to listen to him now, in anything
he might have to say against Prescott, turned to stare at the
heaving lines of gray.
To himself, Haynes muttered curiously:
That one word did not, however, do justice to Haynes's frame of mind.
He was wild with jealousy and hatred, but dared not show it.
That fellow Prescott will have his head fearfully swelled and
be more unbearable than ever! growled Haynes to himself. Confound
him, he has no business at all in the Army! Why should he be?
Then, after a pause, a cunning look crept slowly into the eyes
of the turnback, as he throbbed under his breath:
If I can have anything to do with it, he wont be much longer in
For just a moment, ere the teams left the field, the old Gridley
chums had a chance to rush over to each other.
"I was afraid of you, Dick," Dave confessed. "Not more than I was
of you, Dave, laughed Prescott."
"Did you find the Army such easy stuff to use as a doormat, Dan?"
queried Greg dryly.
"Oh, it--it--it was the fault of the new rules," retorted Midshipman
Dalzell, making a wry face. "You know, Greg, you never could play
much football. But the new rules favor the muff style of playing."
Only a few more words could the quartette exchange. There was
time, however, for a few minutes of talk before the West Pointers
were obliged to leave for their train.
Greg, sighed Dick, if we only had Dave and Dan playing on the same
team with us, such a game would be great!
"Oh, well," murmured Greg, "whether Annapolis or West Point lugged
off the actual score, the service won, anyway. For the Army and
Navy are inseparable units of the service."
It was a very orderly and dignified lot of cadets who filed aboard
the cadet section of the train to leave for home. Once the train
was well on its way out of Philadelphia, however, the pent-up
enthusiasm of the happy sons of the Army broke loose, nor did
the tactical officers with them make any effort to restrain the
Some of the cadets went from car to car, in search of more excitement.
Dick Prescott soon became so tired of hero-worship that he slipped
along through the rear car a few feet at a time until, at last,
unobserved, he managed to make his way out on to the rear platform.
Unobserved, that is, by all save one. Turnback Haynes, who had
been watching Dick with a sort of wild fascination, noted Dick's
The train, which had been traveling at high speed, now slowed down
to some twenty-five miles an hour in order to pass over a river.
While the attention of all the rest was turned toward the front
end of the car, Haynes, with lowered eyes and half-slinking manner,
made his way toward the rear of the car.
Peering through the glass in the door, the turnback could make
out Cadet Prescott standing outside. Dick's back was toward the
A diabolical light flashed in Haynes's eyes for a moment. He
shook from head to foot, but, by a strong effort of will, he stayed
One stealthy look over his shoulder Haynes took, then suddenly opened
the door, stepping outside.
Cadet Prescott half turned. There was no time to do more, when
he felt himself seized in a strong clutch.
There was hardly any struggle. It all seemed to be over in a
second or so. Cadet Prescott plunged headlong through the darkness
of the night into the dark river below!
ROLL-CALL GIVES THE ALARM
For an instant Haynes leaned far out.
Now his eyes were filed with a terror that overcame the wild fascination
of his wicked deed.
His anger had died down in a flash. Turnback Haynes would have
given worlds to be able to recall the felonious deed he had just
committed. But it was too late. He had seen Prescott's flying
figure sink beneath the waters, which came up to within a few
feet of the railroad trestle.
Haynes turned back with a sobbing groan. Then he cast a terrified
look into the car.
Some of the fellows must have seen both of us come out here, he
quavered. They'll see only one of us come back. I'll have to
stand the whole fire of questions. Ugh! C-c-can I stand it without
breaking down and giving myself away?
The train was over and off of the bridge by now. Warned by a
light burning between the rails, the engineer brought the train
to a standstill.
His heart bounding with a cowards hope, turnback Haynes leaped
down to the roadbed. Breathlessly he rushed along the side of
the train. He succeeded in gaining the platform of the third
Though his knees shook under him, the turnback swung up on to
the steps. In another moment, after noting that the cadets were
not looking particularly towards the door, Haynes turned the knob,
stepping inside and dropping, with feigned carelessness, into
an empty seat.
"Hullo, Haynesy," was Lewis's easy greeting. Been up ahead?
"Yes," lied the turnback.
Anstey heard, though he did not pay much heed to the statement
at the time.
There were many, of course, who asked for Dick. Greg had not
seen his chum for some time. In his own heart Holmes felt sure
that Dick, tired of being congratulated, had sought retirement---in
the baggage car, probably. So Greg had little to say, and did
not go in search of his chum.
It was not, in fact, until the corps reached West Point, and roll-call
by companies was held, that the absence of Cadet Richard Prescott,
second class, was discovered.
Then there was a good deal of curiosity among a few comrades, wild
excitement and useless speculation.
An hour later, however, Greg's fevered imaginings were cut short
by word that was brought over to him from the cadet guard house.
Prescott had reported by wire. He had fallen from the rear
car of the train into a river. The telegram merely stated that
he had made his way to the nearest village, where a clergyman
had provided him with the funds needed for his return to West
Point. He would report at the earliest hour possible.
From room to room in cadet barracks flew the news.
"Now, how could a fellow be so careless as to fall off a moving
train?" demanded Lewis.
"Old ramrod may have been shaken up a heap in the game," hinted
Anstey. "Prescott isn't the sort of chap to tell us every time
he feels a trifle dizzy or experiences a nervous twitch. He may
have felt badly, may have gone out on the platform for a whiff
of fresh air, and then may have felt so much worse that he fell."
"Depend upon one thing," put in Brayton decisively. "Whatever
Prescott does there's some kind of good reason for."
"It's enough, for to-night, declared Greg, to know that the royal
old fellow is safe, anyway. To-morrow, well have the story, if
there is any story worth having."
Turnback Haynes received the news with mingled emotions. His
first sensation was one of relief at knowing that he was not actually
a murderer---one who had wickedly slain a fellow human being.
It was not long, though, before Haynes became seized with absolute
fright over the thought that Prescott must have recognized him.
"In that case, all I can do is to stick out for absolute
and repeated denial," shivered the turnback. "There's one great
thing about West Point, anyway---a cadets word simply has to be
taken, unless there is the most convincing proof to the contrary.
I guess Lewis will remember that I came in from the car ahead
or seemed to. But I wonder if anyone, officer or cadet, saw me
running along at the side of the train?"
It was small wonder that Cadet Haynes failed to get any sleep
that night. All through the long hours to reveille the cadet
tossed and tumbled on his cot. Fortunately for him, his roommate
was too sound a sleeper to hear the tossing.
Heavy-eyed, shuddering, Haynes rose in the morning. Through the
usual routine he went, and at last marched off to section recitation,
outwardly as jaunty as any other man in the corps, yet with dark
dread lurking in his soul.
It was about noon when Prescott reported at the adjutant's office,
next going to the office of the commandant of cadets.
By both officers Dick was congratulated on his fortunate escape
from death. Each officer asked him a few direct questions. Prescott
stated that he had remained over night with the village clergyman,
giving his wet, icy clothing a chance to dry.
It was when asked how he came to fall from the rear platform of
the car that the cadet hesitated.
"I thought I was thrown from the platform, sir," Dick replied
in each case.
"Who was on the platform with you?"
"No one, sir, an instant before."
"Did you see any one come out of the car?"
"Did you recognize any assailant?"
"Have you any good reason to suspect any particular person?"
"No _good_ reason, sir."
"Could any one have come out of the car, unless it had been a
tactical officer, a cadet or a railway employee?"
That was as far as the questioning went, for both the adjutant
and the commandant of cadets believed that Dick had been pitched
from the rear platform by some sudden movement of the car. No
other belief seemed sane enough to be considered.
It was the commandant of cadets who suggested:
"If you feel the slightest need of it, Mr. Prescott, you may go
at once to cadet hospital, and be examined by one of the surgeons.
We don't want you coming down with illness later, on account
of a neglected chill."
"I am very certain I don't need a medical officers attention,
sir," replied Cadet Prescott, with just the trace of a smile.
"The Rev. Dr. Brown and his wife were about the most attentive
people I ever met. I was pretty cold, sir, when I reached their
house. But inside of five minutes they had me rolled up in warm
blankets and were dosing me with ginger tea. Afterwards they
gave me a hot supper. I slept like a top, sir, last night."
"You feel fit then, Mr. Prescott, to return to full duty? asked
"Wholly fit, sir."
"Very good. Then I will so mark you. Go to your quarters, Mr.
Prescott, and wait until the next call, which will be the call
for dinner formation."
Saluting the commandant, Prescott left the cadet guard house,
hastening to his own room.
A few minutes later Cadet Holmes burst in upon his chum.
To him Dick told the whole story of his striking the water, of
his swimming to shore, and of hurried trip through the cold night
to the nearest house.
"And you're sure you were pushed?" questioned greg thoughtfully.
"Either I was pushed, or it was all a horrid dream," replied Dick
"Then why didn't you so tell the K.C.?"
"I answered the K.C. truthfully, Greg. I told him all that I really
know. I didn't feel called upon, and wasn't asked, to tell him
anything that I guessed."
"What is your guess?" insisted Holmes, with the privilege of a
"Greg, as far as I can be sure of anything without knowing it,
I am absolutely certain that a cadet came out of the car, behind
me, and that he pushed me off the platform."
"A cadet?" demanded Greg, turning pale. To Holmes it seemed atrocious
to couple the word cadet with any act of dishonor.
"Greg, as I plunged through the air, I succeeded in turning a trifle.
I am convinced, in my own mind, that I saw the gray cape overcoat
of a cadet I am also certain that I got a glimpse of his face.
The only limit to my certainty is that I wouldn't want to name
the man under oath."
"Who was he?" demanded Holmes.
Advancing, placing his lips against one of Greg's ears, Prescott
whispered the name:
"Haynes! But you mustn't breathe this to a living soul! Remember,
I wouldn't dare swear to the truth of what I've hinted to you."
Greg Holmes, wholly and utterly loyal to the cadet corps of which
he was himself an honored member, went even paler. He leaned
back against the wall, clenching his fists tightly.
"Haynes?" he whispered. "I don't like the fellow, and I never
did. He's no friend of yours, either, Dick. But he wears the
staunch old cadet uniform and has had more than three years of
the West Point traditions. It seems impossible, Dick. Had anyone
else but you told me this, even against Haynes, I would have turned
on my heel and walked away."
"I hope it isn't true---I hope it is all a hideous nightmare,
born of my dismay when I found myself going through space!" breathed
"What are you going to do about this?" asked Greg huskily.
"You are not going to mention Haynes to anyone else?"
"No, sirree! I shall keep my eyes open a bit when Haynes is around;
that is all."
"I hope it isn't true---oh, I hope it isn't true," breathed Greg
fervently. "But I know you're no liar, Dick, and you're no dreamer
of dreams! Confound it, I almost wish you hadn't told me this.
But I asked you to."
Greg's face was a queer ashen gray in color.
At that moment the call for dinner formation sounded.
"You're all ready, Dick, so hustle along. I've clean forgotten
to get myself ready. You hustle, and I'll try not to be late
in the formation."
As Cadet Prescott hastened along through the lower corridor, he
came face to face with the turnback.
Haynes stopped short, his jaw drooping. For just a second he
stiffened his arms as though to throw himself in an attitude of
Halting, without speaking or raising a hand, Dick Prescott looked
squarely into the other man's eyes.
Haynes turned ghastly pale, his jaw moving nervously as though
he would speak and could not.
A smile of scorn flashed into Prescotts face. Haynes fairly writhed
beneath that contemptuous look. Then, still without a word or
a sound, Prescott passed on.
"He did it!" muttered Dick to himself.
Yet, with the certainty of the turnbacks guilt, Prescott did not
wish Haynes any personal harm. The only greatly perturbed thought
that ran through Dick's mind was:
"That fellow is not fit for the Army. Must he be allowed to go
on and graduate?"
Thrice during the dinner period Dick allowed his glance to rove
over to the turnback. Not once did he catch Haynes's eye, but
that young man was making only a pretence at eating.
"If he really pushed me from the train," muttered Prescott to himself,
"I hope Haynes worries about it until he fesses cold in some study
and so has to leave the Military Academy. For he'll never be
fit to be an officer. He couldn't command other men with justice."
MR. CADET SLOWPOKE
Despite the fact that he had been through the first half of the
year before, Haynes actually did go somewhat stale in some of the
Some of the cadets who lived near enough were permitted to go home
at the Christmas holidays, and the turnback was among this number.
Yet Haynes came back. In the January examinations he stood badly,
getting place rather near the foot of the second class. Yet he
pulled through and retained his place in the corps.
Dick and Greg, who did not go home over the holidays, both did
fairly well in January. Each secured a number not far above the
bottom of the second third of the class.
On Washington's Birthday, the cadets had a holiday after dinner.
The day, however, was ten-fold joyous for Dick, because Mrs. Bentley,
Laura and Belle Meade were expected on the afternoon of that day,
the girls to attend the cadet hop at Cullum Hall in the evening.
Dick and Greg, in their spooniest uniforms, were at the railway
station to meet the visitors.
"Quick!" cried Mrs. Bentley, after the greetings were over. "There's
the stage, and its about to start. We'll all get seats in it."
"If that is the programme, Mrs. Bentley," laughed Dick, "Greg
and I will have to overtake you, later on, on foot. Cadets are
not allowed to ride in the stage.
"Can't you telephone for a carriage, then?" inquired Mrs. Bentley.
"Certainly, and with pleasure, but cadets may not ride in a carriage,
"Oh, you poor cadets!" cried Mrs. Bentley. "To think of your
having to climb that steep road ahead. And its ever so long, too!"
"You get in the stage, mother, and Belle and I will walk up the
road with Dick and Greg," proposed Laura Bentley.
So the two cadets busied themselves with assisting Mrs. Bentley
into the stage, after which they returned to their fair friends.
"Now, I have trouble in store for you two young men," declared
Belle Meade, frowning. "Why did you young men conspire to beat
the Navy at football?"
"For the honor and glory of the Army," replied Dick, smiling.
"To put humiliation over your old chums, Dave and Dan," flashed
Belle. "Laura and I were down at Annapolis, at a hop last month,
as you may have heard. Poor Dave hasn't yet recovered from the
blow of seeing the Navy lose that game to the Army!"
"But I'll wager he didn't blame us," retorted Prescott, his eyes
"He said that, if it hadn't been for you and Greg, the Navy would
have won the game," retorted Belle.
"I hope that's true," declared Dick boldly.
"Oh, you do, Mister Prescott? And why?" asked Belle.
"Because I belong to the Army, and I want always to see the Army
"If West Point defeats Annapolis next Thanksgiving, and if its
because of you and Greg, then I'll never speak to either of you
again," asserted Belle.
"Come along, Dick," laughed Laura. "Belle's positively dangerous
when she talks about the Navy!"
"The Navy is the only real branch of the service," declared Belle,
with a toss of her head. "Everybody says so. The Army is merely
"Laughing good-humoredly, Greg piloted Belle up the long, winding
walk that leads to the West Point plain. Dick and Laura soon fell
in behind, at some distance, walking very slowly.
"Did you have a tiresome trip here?" inquired Dick.
"No; a very pleasant one," Laura replied.
"I should think a long journey would be tedious to women traveling
without male escort," Dick went on.
"We had escort as far as New York," Laura replied promptly.
"Oh, you did?" inquired Prescott, feeling a swift sinking at heart.
"Yes; Mr. Cameron had to make a flying trip to New York. He had
to come at about this time, so he put it off for three or four
days in order to travel through with us. Wasn't that nice of
"Extremely nice of him," admitted the cadet rather huskily. "I---I
suppose he will return with you from New York."
"We expect him to," Laura admitted. "But what a great game that
must have been, Dick! How I wish Belle and I had gone over to
Philadelphia to see it."
"It was an exciting game, and a hard-fought one."
Laura chatted on gayly, and at the same time displayed much enthusiasm
over the life at West Point. Yet Dick, though he strove to conceal
the fact, was low spirited over the attentions of Mr. Cameron.
The two cadets had permission to visit at the hotel, so went into
the parlor until the girls joined them there. Later, as there
was no snow on the ground, a stroll about the post was proposed
Dick made out Laura's card for the dance that night, while Greg
attended to Belle's. Many were the cadets who glared at Dick
and Greg for not having inscribed their names on the dance cards
of these two very "spoony femmes." (pretty girls.)
After one of her dances with Dick, Belle asked him to lead her out
into the corridor, where the air was cooler.
"Shall I go after your wrap?" asked Dick solicitously.
"Goodness, no," replied Belle. "I'm not as sensitive as that."
Then, abruptly changing the subject, Miss Meade asked: "What do
you think of Mr. Cameron?"
"I saw very little of him," Dick replied.
"But what do you think of him?" Belle insisted.
"I think that, if he is Laura's friend, he must be a fine fellow,"
Dick replied with enthusiasm.
A slight shudder of disappointment passed over Belle.
"Are you beginning to feel chilly, Belle?" asked Dick anxiously.
"If I am, its nervously, not because I am really cold," replied
Miss Meade dryly.
"Why did you ask me what I think of Mr. Cameron?"
"Because I am interested in knowing," Belle answered. "Mr. Cameron
is with Laura a great deal these times."
"Is he?" asked Dick, with another sinking at the heart.
"Oh, yes," Belle replied. "Some folks in Gridley are nodding
their heads wisely, and pretending they can guess what is going
to happen before long. But I'm very certain that there is nothing
quite definite as yet. Indeed, I'm not quite sure that Laura
really knows her own mind as yet."
Soon after that, Miss Meade requested to be conducted back into
the ballroom, to find Greg, who was to be her next partner.
"Now, good gracious, I hope I've really given Cadet Slowpoke
a broad enough hint," thought Belle. "If he doesn't go ahead
and speak to Laura now, it'll be because he doesn't care. And
Leonard Cameron isn't a bad fellow, even if he does prefer the
yardstick to a sword!"
As for Dick, his evening was spoiled. His sense of honor prevented
his "speaking" to Laura until he felt that his future in the Army
Yet spoiled as his evening was, Prescott did his best to make it
a bright occasion for Laura Bentley.
The next morning, while the members of the cadet corps were grinding
at recitations, or boning over study desks in barracks, Mrs. Bentley
and the girls rode down the slope in the stage and boarded a train
for New York.
Dick had not "spoken."
THE ENEMIES HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING
After that February hop, Cadet Prescott appeared to give himself
over to one dominating ambition.
That ambition was to secure higher standing in his class.
He became a "bone," and tried so hard to delight his instructors
that he was suspected of boning bootlick with the Academic Board.
For Prescott had dropped Laura out of his mind.
That is to say, he had tried to do it, and Prescott was a young
man with a strong will.
Belle's words, instead of spurring him on to do something that his
own peculiar sense of honor forbade, had killed his vague dream.
After all, Dick reasoned, it was Laura's own good and greatest
happiness that must be considered.
Leonard Cameron, a rising and prosperous young merchant in Gridley,
would doubtless be able to give Laura a much better place in the
In the matter of income, Cameron doubtless enjoyed three or four
times as much as the annual pay of a second lieutenant ($1,700)
amounts to. Besides, Cameron was not much in the way of risking
his life, while an Army officer may be killed at any time, even
in an ordinary riot. A lieutenants widow received only her pension
of a comparatively few dollars a month.
"It would have been almost criminal for me to have thought of
tying Laura's future up to mine," Dick told himself savagely,
as he took a lonely stroll one March afternoon. "I'll have nothing
but my pay, if I do graduate. A fellow like Cameron can allow
his wife more for pin money than my whole years pay will come
to. Really, I've no right to marry any but a rich girl, who has
her own income. And, even if I fell in love with a rich girl,
I wouldn't have the nerve to propose to her. I'd feel like a
cheap fortune hunter."
Having made up his mind to put Laura Bentley out of his inner
thoughts, Prescott did not write her as often as formerly.
He wrote often enough, and pleasantly enough to preserve the
courtesies of life. Yet keen-witted Belle Meade was not long in
discovering, from what Laura thought were chance remarks, that
Dick was "dropping away" as a correspondent.
So, too, Laura's letters were fewer and briefer.
"Dick didn't really care for her, I guess," Belle decided, almost
vengefully. "Then the bigger idiot he is, for there aren't many
girls like Laura born in any one century! But Dick sees a good
many girls at West Point, and perhaps he has grown indifferent
to his old friends. There are a good many very 'swell' girls
who visit West Point, too. Horrors! I wonder if Dick and Greg
think that we are too countrified?"
After the first few weeks, with his resolute nature triumphing
over anything that he set his mind to, Prescott found himself
thinking less about Cameron. It was practically a settled matter,
anyway, between Laura and Cameron, so Dick thought, and Cadet
Prescott had his greatly improved standing in his class to console
him for any losses in other directions. Yet Dick would not have
dared to confess, even to himself, how little class standing did
So hard had been study in the last few weeks that Prescott had
all but forgotten the existence of turnback Haynes. They were
not in the same section in any of the studies, nor did the two
mingle at all in barracks life. Neither went to the hops now,
"Is Prescott afraid of me---or what?" wondered Haynes. "Perhaps
he hopes I have forgotten him, but I haven't. One thing is clear
he doesn't intend to do anything about that train incident, or
he'd have done it long ago. If he thinks I have forgotten my
dislike of him, he may be glad enough to have it just that way.
Bah, as if I could ever get over my dislike for a bootlick like
Prescott! I'd like to get him out of the Army for good! I wonder
if I can't, between now and June? I'd like my future in the Army
a whole lot better with Prescott out of it."
So Haynes began taking to moody, lonely walks when he had any
time for such outlet to his evil, feelings.
It is one of the strangest freaks of queer human nature that one
who has once done another an injury ever after hates the injured
one with an added intensity of hatred.
Turnback Haynes was quite able to convince himself that Dick Prescott,
who avoided him, was really his worst enemy in the world.
So, one Saturday afternoon, in early April, it chanced that Dick
and Cadet Haynes took to the same stretch of less-traveled road
over beyond engineers' quarters.
Suddenly, going in opposite directions, they met face to face
at a sharp bend in the road.
"Oh, you?" remarked Haynes, in a harsh, sneering voice.
Prescott barely nodded coldly, and would have passed on, but Haynes
stepped fairly in his path.
"Prescott," cried the turnback, "I don't like you!"
"Then we are about even in our estimate of each other," responded
"Were you following me up, just now?"
"Why, as I have a memory, I might more properly suppose that you
had been prowling on my trail," retorted Dick, eyeing his enemy
"Humph! What do you mean by that?" demanded Haynes bristling.
"Do you deny, Haynes, that on the night when we were returning
from the Army-navy game you pushed me from the rear platform of
Cadet Prescott spoke without visible excitement, but gazed deeply
into the shifty, angry eyes of the other.
Haynes swallowed hard. Then he replied gruffly:
"No; I don't deny it."
"Why did you do that, Haynes?"
"I haven't admitted that I did do it."
"You know that you did, though."
"Why did you do it?"
"I'll tell you, then," hissed the turnback. "It was because neither
West Point nor the Army is going to be big enough for both of us!"
"When do you intend to resign?" demanded prescott coolly
"Re-----" gasped Haynes "Resign? I?"
Then you imagine that I am going to quit, or that you're going
to force me to do so? retorted Prescott. "Haynes, even up to
this hour I have hesitated to believe the half evidence of my
own eyes. I have tried to convince myself that no man who wears
the honored gray of West Point could do such a dastardly piece
of work. And you have as good as admitted it to me."
"Well," sneered the turnback, what do you think you're going to
do about it?"
"If I knew," glared Dick, "I wouldn't tell you until the time
"It will never come," laughed Haynes harshly. "That is, your
time of triumph over me will never come. What else may happen
it is yet a little too early to say."
Cadet Prescott felt all the cold rage that was possible to him
surging up inside.
"Haynes," he went on, "it may seem odd of me to ask a favor from
"Very odd, indeed!" sneered the turnback.
"It is a very slight favor," continued Prescott, "and it is this:
Don't at any time venture to address me, except upon official
With that Prescott stepped resolutely around the cadet in his
path, and went forward at a stiff stride.
Haynes remained for some moments where he was, gazing after Dick
with a curious, leering look.
"Prescott is a coward---that's what he is!" muttered the turnback.
"If he weren't, I said enough to him just now to cause him to
leap at my throat. Humph! Anyone can beat a coward, and without
credit. Prescott, your days at the Military Academy are numbered!
You, an Army officer? Humph!"
Though it would be hard to understand why, Haynes felt much better
after that brief interview. Perhaps it was because, all along,
he had feared Cadet Prescott. Now the turnback no longer feared
his enemy in the corps.
How would the feud end? How could it end?
THE TRAITOR OF THE RIDING HALL
If Dick gave no further outward attention to Haynes, he was nevertheless
bothered about the fellow.
"Haynes isn't fit to go through and become an officer; to be set
up over other men," Prescott told himself often.
This slighting opinion was not on account of the personal dislike
that Prescott felt for the turnback. There were other cadets
at West Point whom Dick did not exactly like, yet he respected
the others, for they themselves respected the traditions of honor
and justice that are a part of West Point.
With Haynes the trouble was that he was certain, sooner or later,
to prove a discredit to the best traditions of the Army. Such
a fellow was likely to prove a bully over enlisted men. Now,
the enlisted men of the Regular Army do not resent having a strict
officer set above them, but the officer must be a man whom they
can respect. Such an officer, who commands the respect and admiration
of the enlisted men under him, can lead them into the most dangerous
places. They will follow as a matter of course; but an unworthy
officer, one whom the enlisted men know to be unfit to command
them, will demoralize a company, a troop, a battery or a regiment
if he be given power enough.
Every cadet and every officer of the Army is concerned with the
honor of that Army. If he knows that an unworthy man is obtaining
command, it worries the cadet or officer of honor.
Had he been able to offer legal, convincing proof of Haynes's
dastardly conduct in pushing him off the train on the return from
the Army-Navy game, Prescott would have submitted that proof to
the authorities, or else to the members of the second class in
"But Haynes would only lie out of it, of course," Dick concluded.
"As a cadet, his word would have to be accepted as being as good
as mine. So nothing would come of the charges."
A class meeting, unlike a court-martial, might not stand out for
legal evidence, if the moral presumption of guilt were strong
enough; but Cadet Prescott would not dream of invoking class action
unless he had the most convincing proof to offer.
Class action, when it is invoked at West Point, is often more
effective than even the work of a court-martial. If the class
calls upon a member to resign and return to civil life, he might
as well do so without delay. If he does not, he will be "sent
to Coventry" by every other cadet in the corps. If he has the
nerve to disregard this and graduate, he will go forth into the
Army only to meet a like fate at the hands of every officer in
the service. He will always be "cut" as long as he attempts to
wear the uniform.
"Its a shame to let this fellow Haynes stay in the service," Dick
muttered. "And yet my hands are tied. With my lack of evidence
I can't drag him before either a legal or an informal court.
The only thing I can do is to let matters go on, trusting to the
fact that, sooner or later, Haynes will overstep the bounds less
cautiously, and that he'll find himself driven out of the uniform."
On going to his quarters for a study period one afternoon further
along in April, Haynes found himself unable to concentrate his
mind on the lesson before him. He was alone, his roommate being
absent with a section at recitation.
As he sat thus idle at the study table, Haynes toyed with a little
black pin. How the pin had come into his possession he did not
even recall. It was a pin of ordinary size, one of the kind much
used by milliners.
Having nothing else to do, Haynes idly thrust the head of the
pin repeatedly in under the sole at the toe of his right boot.
Somewhat to his surprise the head went well in, then stopped
at last, fitting snugly and stiffly in place.
"If I had a fellow sitting in front of me, what a startling jab
I could give him with the toe of my boot," grinned the turnback.
Then, suddenly, there came a very queer look into his face.
"Why, I reckon I could jab something else with a pin, beside the
flesh of another cadet," he muttered.
Then, trembling slightly, the turnback bent down and carefully
extracted the pin. His next act was to fasten it very securely
on the inside of the front of his fatigue blouse, where the black
uniform braid prevented its being seen.
Of late the second class cavalry drills had been in the open.
That day, however, it was raining heavily, and the order had
been passed for the squads to report at the riding hall.
Soon after Haynes's roommate had returned from recitation the
signal sounded for the squad that was to report at the riding hall.
Haynes rose, drawing on his uniform raincoat.
"What's the matter with you, Haynesy?" inquired his roommate.
"Why do you ask, Pierson?"
"There was a very queer look on your face," replied Cadet Pierson.
I couldn't tell whether it were a diabolical look or merely a
"I was just thinking of a story I heard told years ago," lied
"I don't believe I'd care to hear that story, then," returned
"I'm not going to tell it to you. 'Bye, old man. I'm off for
Dick and Greg were in the same squad. Those who were going for
drill at this hour fell in at the command, of their squad marcher,
and strode away to the riding hall.
Once inside, the cadets disposed of their uniform raincoats. The
squad marcher reported to Captain Albutt, who was their instructor
for the afternoon.
"To horse!" came the crisp order.
Each cadet stepped to his mount, untying the animal and standing by.
Haynes's heart gave a quick jump when he saw that to Dick's lot
had fallen Satan, a fiery black, the worst tempered and most
treacherous horse in the lot.
"My chance is coming sooner than I had thought for", quivered
Dropping his handkerchief, Haynes bent over and quickly slipped
the black pin in at the toe of his right boot.
"When we get into column of fours I have Prescott on my right,
muttered the turnback. He had straightened up again, in almost
no time, tucking the handkerchief again inside his blouse. His
act had attracted no attention.
"Prepare to mount!" rang Captain Albutt's voice.
Each cadet took hold of mane, bridle and saddle in the way prescribed
and stood with left foot in stirrup.
Jauntily each man swung up, passing his right leg over his mounts
back, then settling easily into saddle.
For the first few minutes the squad walked, trotted, cantered
and galloped around the tanbark in single file. Then their instructor,
riding always near the center of the floor, threw them into platoon
front at the west end of the hall. Now he gave them some general
instruction as to the nature of the evolutions they were to perform.
The next command came by bugle, and the platoon broke into column
of fours, moving forward at the trot, Captain Albutt riding at
the left flank near the head of the column.
As the horses fell into column of fours Haynes saw his chance.
Nearly always, in this formation, some of the horses bump their
neighbors. Haynes, by a slight twist of the bridle, threw horse
over against Prescott's. The thing was so natural as to attract
Just as the horses touched flanks, however, Haynes, with his right
foot swiftly withdrawn from its stirrup-box, gave Satan a vicious
jab with the pin-point protruding from the toe of his boot.
There was a wild snort. Satan seemed instantly bent on proving
the appropriateness of his name.
Lowering his head, Satan kicked out viciously with his hind feet,
throwing the horses just behind into confusion.
Almost in the same instant Satan bit the rump of a horse in front
Then up reared Prescotts mount.
Dick was a good horseman, but this move had caught him unawares.
A horse at a trot is not usually hard to manage, and Prescott had
not been on his guard against any such trick.
By the time that Satan came down from his plunge Dick had a firm
seat and a strong hand on the bridle. But Satan was a tough-mouthed
animal. His unlooked-for antics had caused the horses just ahead
Through the scattering four in front plunged Satan, fire in his
eyes, his nostrils quivering.
Captain Albutt took the situation in at once.
"Squad halt!" he roared. Be cool, Mr. Prescott! Bring your mount
down with tact, not brute force.
Satan, having taken the bit between his teeth, went tearing around
the tan-bark, not in the least minding the tight hold that his
rider had on the bridle, or the way that the bit cut into his
mouth. Satan blamed his own rider for that sharp, stinging jab,
and he meant to unseat that rider.
Dick kept perfectly cool, though he realized much of his own great
peril with this infuriated beast.
Captain Albutt, watching closely, became anxious when he saw that
the cadet was failing in bringing down the temper of the infuriated
Satan was more than furious; he was crafty. Master of many tricks,
and with a record for injuring many a rider in the past, the animal
dashed about the tan-bark, seeking some way of throwing his rider.
His uneasiness increasing, Captain Albutt put spurs to his own
mount and went after Satan.
"Steady, Mr. Prescott," admonished the cavalry officer, riding
close. I'll soon have a hand on your bridle, too.
Yet every time that Captain Albutt rode close, Satan waited until
just the right instant, then swerved violently, snatching his
head away from the risk of capture.
So villainous were these swerves that Dick had several narrow
escapes from being unhorsed. A man of less skill would have been.
At first the other members of the squad looked on only with
amused interest. When, however, they caught the grave look on the
captain's face, they began to comprehend how serious the situation was.
Satan, finding other devices for throwing his rider to be useless,
soon resorted to the most wicked trick known to the equine mind.
He reared, intent on throwing himself over backward, crushing
his rider beneath him.
Captain Albutt reached the spot at a gallop, just in the nick
of time. Standing in his stirrups, he caught one side of the
bridle just in time to pull the horse's head down.
But, foiled in this attempt, Satan allowed his front feet to come
down. Close to the ground the brute lowered its head, kicking
up high with his hind heels. This, accompanied by a "worming"
motion, sent Prescott flying from his saddle.
He made an unavoidable plunge over the animal's head.
"Let go your bridle!" roared Captain Albutt.
In the same instant the cavalry officer leaped from his own saddle.
Over came Cadet Prescott, turning a somersault in the air.
Albutt had jumped in order to catch the cadet. It all happened
so quickly, however, that the cavalry officer had chance only
to catch the cadets shoulders. Had it not been for that, Prescott
would have struck fully on his back.
Having thrown its rider, Satan cantered off to the far end of
the riding hall, where he stood, snorting defiance.
Captain Albutt allowed Prescott's head and shoulders to sink easily
to the tan-bark.
"Are you badly hurt, Mr. Prescott?" inquired the officer.
"The small of my back is paining me just a little sir, from the
wrench," replied Prescott coolly. "If it hadn't been for you,
sir, my neck would have been broken."
"I think it would," replied the cavalry officer, smiling. "But
this is one of the things I am here for. Do you feel as if you
could rise, Mr. Prescott, with my help?"
"I'd like to try, sir."
Dick did try, but watchful Captain Albutt soon let him down again.
"You may not be much hurt, Mr. Prescott, but I want one of the
medical officers to take the responsibility for saying so. Just
lie where you are until we get a medical officer here. Mr. Haynes,
pass your lines to the man at your left and run to the telephone.
Ask for a medical officer and two hospital corps men with a stretcher."
The turnback leaped quickly to obey. This gave him the coveted
chance to get away by himself, where he could secretly remove
from his boot the little black pin that had been responsible for
Surgeon and hospital men came on the run. The surgeon declined
to make an examination there, but directed his men to lift the
injured cadet to the stretcher and take him to the hospital.
In the meantime some enlisted men had caught and quieted Satan,
leading him from the tanbark.
"That brute never will be used again, if I have my way," muttered
Captain Albutt, loudly enough to be heard by most of the cadets of
Then the drill proceeded as though nothing had happened.
"I fixed my man that time, and easily enough," growled Haynes to
himself. "He's out of the service, from now on. He can nurse
a weak back the rest of his days."
When the drill was dismissed a party of three ladies, who had
seen the whole scene from one of the iron balconies, came down
to meet the cavalry officer.
"Your conduct was just splendid, captain, cried one of the women,
her face glowing. But I feared you would be killed, or at least
badly hurt, when you put yourself in the way of that somersaulting
cadet. Why did you take such chances?"
"In the first place," replied the cavalry officer quietly, "because
it was simple duty. There was another reason. If I am hurt,
in the line of duty, I have my retired pay, as an officer, to
live on. But a cadet who is hurt so badly that he cannot remain
in the service has to go home, perhaps hopelessly crippled for
life---and a cadet injured in the line of duty has no retired pay."
"Why is that?" asked another of the ladies.
"I do not know, replied Captain Albutt simply, unless it is because
Congress has always been too busy to think of the simple act of
justice of providing proper retired pay for a cadet who is injured
"Has Mr. Prescott been injured so that he'll have to leave the Army?"
"I don't know. But, if you'll excuse me, ladies, I am going over
to the hospital now and find out."
THE CADET HOSPITAL
Cadet Prescott lay on one of the operating tables at cadet hospital.
Without a murmur he submitted to the examination. At times the
work of the medical officer's hurt a good deal, but this was evidenced
only by a firmer pressing together of the young soldiers lips.
At last they paused.
"Are you through, gentlemen?" Dick asked, looking steadily at the
two medical officers.
"Yes," answered Captain Goodwin, the senior surgeon.
"May I properly ask what you find?"
"We are not yet quite sure," replied the senior surgeon. "None
of the bones of the spine are broken. There has, of course, been
a severe wrenching there. Whether your injury is going to continue
into a serious or permanent injury we cannot yet say. A good deal
will depend upon the grit with which you face things."
"I am a soldier," replied Dick doggedly. "Even if I am not much
longer to be one."
"We will now have you removed to your cot. We are not going to
place you in a cast as yet, anyway. It is possible that, after
a few days, you may be able to walk fairly well."
"In that case, captain, is it then likely that I shall be able to
return to duty?"
"Yes; the quicker things mend, and the sooner you are able to
walk without help, the greater will be your chance of pulling
through this injury and remaining in the service."
"Then I'd like to try walking back to barracks right now," smiled
Cadet Prescott, wistfully.
"You are not to think of it, Mr. Prescott! You must not even
attempt to put a foot out of bed until we give you permission.
If you take the slightest risk of further injury to your back
you are likely to settle your case for good and all, so far as
the Army is concerned."
"I told you I was a soldier, sir," Dick replied promptly. "For
that reason I shall obey orders."
"Good! That's the way to talk, Mr. Prescott," replied the senior
medical officer heartily. "The better soldier you are, the better
your chances are of remaining in the Army."
"There won't be any need, will there, captain, to send word to my
father and mother of this accident until it is better known how
serious it is?" coaxed Dick.
"If you wish the news withheld for the present, I will direct
the adjutant to respect your wishes."
"If you will be so good, sir," begged the hapless cadet.
Hospital men were summoned and Dick was skillfully, tenderly transferred
to a cot in another room. The steward stood by and took his orders
silently from Captain Goodwin.
Hardly had this much been accomplished when a hospital service man
entered, passing a card to Captain Goodwin.
"Admit him," nodded the surgeon.
In another minute Captain Albutt stepped into the room, going over to
the cot and resting one of his hands over the cadet's right hand.
"How are you feeling?" asked Captain Albutt.
"Fine, sir, thank you," replied Dick cheerily.
"I'm glad your pluck is up. And I hear that you have a good chance."
"I hope so, sir, with all my heart. The Army means everything
in life to me, sir. And Captain Albutt, I want to thank you for
your splendid conduct in risking your own life to save me."
"Surely, Prescott," replied the captain quietly, "you know the
spirit of the service better than to thank a soldier for doing
Captain Albutt had called him simply "Prescott," dropping the
"mister," which officers are usually so careful to prefix to a
cadet's name when addressing him. This little circumstance, slight
as it was, cheered the cadet's heart. It was a tactful way of
dropping all difference in rank, and of admitting Prescott to
full-fledged fraternity in the Army.
"I shall inquire after you every day, Prescott, and be delighted
when you can be admitted to the riding work again;" said the captain
in leaving. "And I think you need have no fear of seeing Satan
on the tan-bark again. If I have any influence, that beast will
never be assigned to a cadet's use after this."
When Captain Albutt had gone Greg came in, on tiptoe.
"Out the soft pedal, old chap," smiled Dick cheerily, as their
hands met. "I'm not a badly hurt man. The worst of this is that
it keeps me from recitations for a few days. If it weren't for that,
I'd enjoy lying here at my ease, with no need to bother about
reveille or taps."
Greg's manner was light-hearted and easy. He had come to cheer up
his chum, but found there was no need for it.
Then the superintendent's adjutant dropped in on his way home
from the day in the office at headquarters. Having talked with
Captain Goodwin, the adjutant agreed that there was no need, for
a few days, to notify Prescott's parents and cause them uneasiness.
"We'll hope, Mr. Prescott," smiled the adjutant, "that you'll
be well able to sit up and send them the first word of the affair
in your own hand, coupled with the information that you're out of
Had it not been for his natural courage, Cadet Prescott would
have been a very restless and "blue" young man. He knew, as well
as did anyone else, that the chances of his complete recovery
to sound enough condition for future Army service were wholly
in the balance. But Captain Goodwin had impressed upon him that
good spirits would have a lot to do with his chances. So strong
was his will that Prescott was actually almost light-hearted when
it came around time to eat his evening meal of "thin slops."
Over in cadet barracks interest ran at full height. Greg had to
receive scores of cadets who dropped in to inquire for the best word.
One of the last of these to come was Cadet Haynes.
Greg received him rather frigidly, though with no open breach of
"It's too bad," began Haynes.
"Of course it is," nodded Holmes.
"Prescott has very little chance of remaining in the corps, I suppose?"
"The surgeons don't quite say that," rejoined Greg.
"Oh, the rainmakers (doctors) are always cagey about giving real
information until a man's dead," declared the turnback sagely.
"They seem to believe that Prescott has an excellent chance,"
"No bones broken?"
"Not a one."
"What is the trouble, then?"
"The rainmakers can't say exactly. They're waiting and watching."
"Humph! That sounds pretty bad for their patient."
"They say that if Prescott is able to walk soon, then his return
to duty ought to be rather speedy."
"I'd like to believe the rainmakers," grunted Haynes.
"Would you?" inquired Greg very coolly.
"What is your particular interest in my roommate?" demanded Cadet
He looked straight into the other's eyes. "Why, Prescott is one
of the best and most popular fellows in the class. I've always
liked him immensely, and-----"
"Humph!" broke in Cadet Holmes, using the turnback's own favorite
To just what this scene might have led it is impossible to say,
but just at that instant Anstey and two other second classmen came
into the room, and the turnback seized the opportunity to get away.
Though Cadet Prescott was so cheerful over his injury he was in
a good deal of pain as the evening wore on.
Every hour or so Goodwin or the other surgeon came in to see him.
Though Prescott could hardly be expected to understand it, the
surgeons were pleased, on the whole, with the pain. Had there
been numbness, instead, the surgeons would have looked for paralysis.
Later in the night Dick asked Captain Goodwin if he could not
administer some light opiate.
"You are willing to be a soldier, I know, Mr. Prescott," replied
"Be sure of that, sir," replied the young man, Wincing.
"Then try to bear the pain. It is the best indication with which
we have to deal. It is one of the most hopeful symptoms for which
we could look. Besides, your descriptions of the pain, and of
its locality, if you are accurate, will give us our best indication
of what to do for you."
"Then I don't want any opiate, sir," replied Dick bluntly. "I
don't care whether I'm kept here a day or a year, or what I have
to suffer, only as long as I don't have to lose an active career
in the service!"
"Good for you, my young soldier," beamed the surgeon, patting the
cadet's hand. "The superintendent telephoned over, a little while
ago, to ask how you were. I told him that your grit was the best
we had seen here in a long time."
"Thank you, sir."
"And the superintendent replied, dryly enough, that he expected
that from your general record. The superintendent sent you his
"Thank you, sir, and the superintendent, too."
"Oh, and a lot of others have been inquiring about you, too---the
K.C. and all of the professors and most of the instructors. And
at least a small regiment of cadets have tramped down as far as
the office door also. I've been saving the names of inquirers,
and will tell you the names in the morning. All except the names
of the cadets, that is. There was too big a mob of cadets for
us to attempt to keep the names."
It was a painful, restless, feverish night for Prescott. He slept
a part of the time, though when he did his sleep was filled with
The surgeons won his gratitude by their devotion to his interests.
The first half of the night Captain Goodwin was in at least every
hour. The latter half of the night it was Lieutenant Sadtler who
made the round.
By permission Cadet Holmes came to the hospital office just after
It was a gloomy face that poor Greg wore back to barracks with him.
The surgeons had spoken hopefully, but---
"Brains always work better than brute force," Haynes told himself,
struggling hard to preserve his self-esteem.
THE MAN MOVING IN A DARK ROOM
May came, and, with the gorgeous blossoms of that month, Dick
Prescott left the hospital.
He was able to walk fairly well, and was returned to study and
recitations, though excused from all drills or any form of military
Not quite all the old erectness of carriage was there, though
Dick hoped and prayed daily that it would return.
He had been cautioned to take the best of care of himself. He
had been warned that he was still on probation, so far as his
physical condition was concerned.
"A sudden bad wrench, and you might undo all that has been done
for you so far," was the surgeons' hint.
So Prescott, though permitted to march with his sections to
recitations, and to fall in at the meal formations, was far from
feeling reassured as to his ability to remain in the service.
He was to have a physical examination after the academic year
was finished, and other examinations, if needed, during the summer
And well enough the young man knew this meant that, if he was
found to be permanently disqualified in body, he would be dropped
from the cadet corps as soon as the decision was reached.
"Do you know," muttered Greg vengefully, "Haynes had the cheek
to come here and ask after you?"
"Did he?" inquired Dick.
"Yes; he pretended to be sorry about your accident."
"Perhaps he really was," returned Prescott.
"What? After his trick in pushing you from the train?"
"I hope he has lived to regret that," said Dick quietly.
"You're not quite a lunatic, old ramrod, are you?" asked Greg
"Oh, I've heard of fellows being bad, and then afterward repenting,"
murmured Dick. "Perhaps this has been the case with Haynes.
You see, Greg, lying there in hospital, day after day, I had time
to do a lot of thinking. Perhaps I learned to be just a trifle less
severe in judging other fellows."
Anstey visited as often as he could. He and Greg did all they
could to coach Prescott over the hard work that he had missed.
"There isn't going to be anything in the academic work to bother
you," promised Anstey. "You'll have lots of chance to pull through
in the general review."
"It's only the physical side of the case that gives me any uneasiness,"
replied Dick. "And I'm not worrying about that, either."
"I should say not, suh!" replied the Virginian with emphasis.
"I had a chance to talk with Captain Goodwin, one day, without
being too fresh, and he told me, old ramrod, that your work in
athletics did a lot to save your back from faring worse. He said
you were built with unusual strength in the back, and that many
a hard tug in the football scrimmages had made you strong where
you most need to be strong now."
"Now let's get back to work with our old ramrod, Anstey," cautioned
"Surely, suh, with all my heart," nodded Anstey. "But by day
after to-morrow he'll have caught up with us, and be coaching
us along for the general review."
The hard work that Dick had done through March and in early April
now stood him in excellent stead. He had, really, only to make
sure of the work that he had missed while at hospital. As to
reviewing the earlier work of the second term, there was not the
By the time that the general review was half through it was plain
enough that Dick Prescott's class standing was going to be better
than it had ever been before. In fact, he was slated to make
the middle of this class.
"I'll be above the middle of the class next year, if the fates
allow me to remain on with the corps," Dick promised himself and
"Oh, you'll be in the Army, suh, until you're retired for age,
suh," predicted Anstey with great gravity.
The latter part of May passed swiftly for the busy cadets. The
first class men were dreaming of their commissions in the more
real Army beyond West Point; the present third classmen were looking
forward with intense longing to the furlough that would begin
as soon as they had stepped over the line into the second class.
The new plebes were looking forward to summer encampment with
a mixture of longing and dread---the latter emotion on account of
the hazing that might come to them in the life under the khaki-colored
As the days slipped by, Prescott began to have more and more of
his old, firm step. He began to feel sure, too, that the surgeons
would have no more fault to find with his condition.
"Why, I could ride a horse in fine shape to-day," declared Prescott,
on one of the last days in May.
"Could you?" demanded Cadet Holmes quizzically.
"Perhaps I had better amend that bit of brag," laughed Dick. "What
I meant was that I could ride as well, to-day, as I ever did."
"Don't be in a hurry to try it, old ramrod," advised Greg with
a frown. "Be satisfied that you're doing well enough as it is.
Don't be in a hurry to joggle up a spine that has had about as
much as it could stand."
"I'll bet you I ride in the exhibition riding before the Board
of Visitors," proposed Prescott earnestly.
"I shall be mightily disappointed in your judgment if you attempt
it without first having received a positive order," retorted Greg.
"Don't be a chump, old ramrod."
The exhibition before the Board of Visitors to which Dick had
referred is one of the annual features of West Point life. The
Board is appointed by the President of the United States. The
Board goes to West Point a few days before graduation and thoroughly
"inspects" the Academy and all its workings. The Board of Visitors
impressively attends graduation exercises. Afterwards the Board
writes its report on the Military Academy, and suggests anything
that occurs to the members as being an improvement on the way
things are being already conducted by Army officers who know their
One man in the second class was going badly to pieces in these
closing days of the academic year. That man was turnback Haynes.
His trouble was that he had allowed a private and senseless grudge
to get uppermost in his mind. He lived more for the gratification
of that grudge than he did for the realization of his own ambitions.
"This confounded Prescott has escaped me, so far, though his last
experience was a narrow squeak. I've had two tries---and, by
the great blazes! the third time is said never to fail. He's
in such bad shape now that it won't take much of a push to put
him over the edge of physical condition. But how can I do it?"
So much thought did the turnback give to this problem that he
fell further and further behind in general review. He was moving
rapidly toward the bottom of the class.
Worse, he began to dream of his grudge by night. In his dreams
Haynes always reviewed his hopes of successful villainy, or else
found himself trying to put through some new bit of profound rascality.
Always the turnback awoke from such dreams to find himself in a
"I'll hit the right scheme---the real chance---yet!" the plotter
told himself, as he tossed restlessly at night, while his roommate,
Cadet Pierson, slept soundly the sleep of the just and decent.
"Haynesy, what's the matter with you?" demanded Pierson one morning,
as he watched his roommate going toward the washstand.
"What do you mean?" demanded Haynes, with the pallor of guilt
on his face for a moment.
"Why, you always look so confoundedly ragged when you get up mornings.
You used to wake up looking fresh and rosy. Now, you look like the
ghost of an evil deed."
"Huh!" growled Haynes, plunging his hands into the water. "I'm
"I wish I could believe you!" muttered the puzzled Pierson under
"It's near time to get Prescott, if I'm going to," Haynes told
himself a dozen times a day.
In fact, the matter preyed so constantly on his mind that the
turnback walked through each day in a perpetual though subdued state
of nervous fever.
The next night Pierson awoke with a start. At first the cadet
couldn't understand why he should feel so creepy. He was a good
sleeper, and there had been no noise.
Hadn't there, though? It came again. And now Cadet Pierson rubbed
his eyes and half rose on his cot, leaning his head on one hand.
Now, with intense interest, he watched the proceedings of his
roommate, turnback Haynes, who was up and moving stealthily about