Part 2 out of 4
"And I have the nerve!" retorted Dick defiantly. "But how about
Laura? She would discover, within a few minutes, that I am on
strained terms with the other fellows. That would do worse than
spoil her evening."
"Well," demanded Greg thoughtfully, "why do you need to take her
to the hop?"
"Because she says that's what the girls have come for."
"Bother! Do you suppose it's you, or the hop, that Laura comes for?"
But Dick, instead of being cheered by this view, turned very white.
"I've got to tell her," he muttered hoarsely, "that I'm in eclipse.
That the fellows have voted that I am not a fit associate for
"And I'll tell her a heap more," retorted Cadet Holmes. "Dick,
do you think either of the girls would go back on you, just because
a lot of raw, half-baked cadets have got you sized up wrong?
Is that all the faith you have in your friends? And, especially,
such a friend as Laura Bentley? Was that the way she acted when
you were under charges of cribbing? You were in disgrace, then,
weren't you? Did Laura look at you with anything but sympathy
in her eyes?"
"No; heaven bless her!"
"Now, see here, Dick. If the girls are up here this evening,
we won't take 'em to the hop. Instead, we'll sit out on the north
porch at the hotel, with Mrs. Bentley near by. We'll have such
a good old talk with the girls as we never could have at a hop."
"Everything in life would be easy, Greg, if you could explain it
away," laughed Dick Prescott, but his tone was bitter.
"Well, as you can't take the girls to the hop, with any regard
for their comfort, my plan is best of all, isn't it?"
"I---I suppose so."
"So make the best of it, old ramrod. There's nothing so bad that
it couldn't be a lot worse."
There was a long tour of work with the field battery guns that
afternoon. For once Prescott found his mind entirely off his
work. Nor could he rally his senses to his work. He got a low
marking, indeed, in the instructor's record for that afternoon's
Then, hot, dusty and tired, this detachment of cadets came in
In the visitors' seats, near headquarters, Dick and Greg espied
Mrs. Bentley and the girls. How lovely the two latter looked!
The instant that ranks were broken Laura. and Belle were on their
feet, glancing eagerly in the direction of their cadets. Dick
and Greg had to go over, doff their campaign hats and shake hands
with Mrs. Bentley and the girls.
"We've given you a surprise, this time," laughed Laura. "I hope
"Can you doubt it?" asked Dick so absently, so reluctantly, that
Laura Bentley shot a swift, uneasy look at the handsome young
"You don't seem over delighted," broke in Belle Meade. "Gracious!
I hope we haven't been indiscreet in coming almost unannounced?
See here, you haven't invited any other girls to to-night's hop,
Both girls, flushed and rather uneasy looking, were now eyeing
the two ill-at-ease young first classmen.
"No; we haven't invited anyone else. But there's something to
be explained," replied Dick lamely. "Greg, you explain, won't
you? And you'll all excuse me, won't you, while I hurry away
to tog for dress parade?"
Laura's face was almost as white as Dick's had been at noon, as
she gazed after the receding Prescott.
Then Greg, in his bluntest way, tried to put it all straight,
and quickly, at that.
"Oh, is that all?" asked Belle with a sniff of contempt. "Why
couldn't Dick remain and tell us himself? You cadets are certainly
cowards in some things---sometimes!"
But the tears were struggling for a front place in Laura's fine
"Is this 'silence' going to affect Dick very much in his career
in the Army?" she asked with emotion.
"Not if his staunchest friends can prevent it," replied Greg almost
fiercely. "And old ramrod has a host of friends in his class,
"It's too bad they're not in the majority, then," murmured Miss
"They will be, in the end," asserted Greg. "We're working things
around to that point. You should have heard the fierce row we put
up at the class meeting last night."
When it was too late Greg could have bitten his tongue.
"Class meeting?" asked Laura. "Then has there been further action
Greg nodded, biting his lips.
"What was last night's meeting held for?" persisted Laura.
"To try to oust Dick from the class presidency," confessed Cadet
"Did they do it?" quivered Laura Bentley.
"Ah! Then the attempt was defeated. Dick is to retain the presidency
of his class?"
"Action was deferred," replied Greg in a low voice.
He wished with all his heart he could get away, for he saw that,
no matter how he tried to hedge the facts about, these keen-witted
girls realized that Dick Prescott's plight was about as black
as it could be for a young man who wanted, with all his soul,
to remain in the military service of his country.
JORDAN MEETS DISASTER
Belle, with her combination of impulsive temperament, good judgment
and bluntness, came to the temporary rescue.
"Greg is trying to conceal the fact that he'll have a desperate
rush to get into his dress uniform in time for parade," Miss Meade
interposed. "Anyway, there's far more about this matter than
we can understand in a moment. Greg, you and Dick can call on
us at the hotel this evening, can't you?"
"We most surely can."
"Then come, as early as you can. We'll eat the earliest dinner
we can get there, and be prepared for a long evening. Now, hurry
to your tent, for I don't want to see you reported for being late
Between her visits to West Point, and her trips to Annapolis to
see Dave Darrin, as related in the Annapolis Series, Belle had
by this time a very considerable knowledge of formations, and
of other incidents in the lives of Army and Navy cadets.
"This evening, then," replied Greg, shifting his campaign hat
to the other hand and feeling like a man who has secured a reprieve.
"And give my love to Dick," Belle went on hastily, "and tell him
that the President of the United States couldn't, if he wanted
to, change our opinion of dear old Dick in the least."
"Thank you," bowed Greg, gratitude welling up in his heart.
"And you send him your love, don't you, Laura?" insisted Belle
Laura recoiled quickly, flushing violently.
It was all right for Belle Meade to send her "love" to Prescott,
for they were old friends, and Belle was known to be Dave Darrin's
With Laura the situation was painfully different. She and Dick
had been schoolboy and schoolgirl sweethearts, after a fashion,
but Dick had never openly declared his love for her.
Would he misunderstand, and think her unwomanly?
She trembled with the sudden doubt at the thought.
Besides, another, a prosperous young merchant back in Gridley,
had been ardent in his attentions to Miss Bentley.
"Of course Laura sends her love," broke in Greg promptly. "Who
wouldn't, when the dear old fellow is in such a scrape? And I'll
deliver the message of love from you both---and from Mrs. Bentley,
Greg looked inquiringly, but expectantly at Laura's mother, who
nodded and smiled in ready sympathy.
Then Greg made his best soldier's bow and hastened off to his
chum, whose heart he succeeded in gladdening somewhat while the
two made all haste to get ready for parade call.
When the corps marched on to the field that afternoon, Mrs. Bentley
and the girls were there among the eager spectators. Dick saw
them almost instantly, and his heart bounded within him. It was
Laura's mute message of sympathy and hope to him! He held up
his head higher, if that were possible, and went through every
movement with even more than his usual precision.
As the corps was marching off the field again, however, Dick's
heart sank rapidly within him.
"If I have to leave the Army, I can never ask Laura for her love,"
he groaned wretchedly. "If I go from West Point as anything but
a graduate and an officer, I shall have to start life all over
again. It will take me years to find my place and get solidly on
my feet I could never ask a girl to wait as long as that!"
In the early evening Laura, Belle and Mrs. Bentley were on the
veranda near the hotel entrance. Cadets Jordan and Douglass made
their appearance. Jordan had obtained official permission to
present Douglass to his sister, who was to go to the hop that
"By Jove, there's a spoony femme (pretty girl) over there," breathed
Jordan in Douglass' ear. "You don't happen to know her, do you?"
"Why, yes, that's Miss Bentley, and the other is Miss Meade.
The chaperon is Miss Bentley's mother," replied Cadet Douglass.
"You know them?" throbbed Jordan, his eyes resting eagerly on
Laura's face. "What luck! Present me, old chap!"
So Douglass, who, in some respects, had a bad memory, piloted
his classmate over to the ladies and halted.
"Good evening, ladies," greeted Douglass, raising his uniform
cap in his most polished manner. "Mrs. Bentley, Miss Bentley,
Miss Meade, will you permit me to present my friend and classmate
Belle, who was nearest, bowed and held out her hand.
But Laura drew herself up haughtily. "Mr. Douglass," she answered
coldly, "my apologies to you, but I don't wish to know---Mr. Jordan!"
Belle caught the name again, and remembered.
"Oh!" she cried, snatching her hand away ere Jordan could touch it.
"I'm sorry, ladies," stammered Douglass. But they found themselves
confronted by rear views of two shapely pairs of young shoulders,
while Mrs. Bentley had the air of looking through the young men
without being able to see either.
Two very much disconcerted cadets, and very red in the face, stiffly
resumed their caps and marched away.
"Great Scott, what did that mean?" gasped Jordan, struck all in a
heap by his strange reception.
Cadet Douglass gasped.
"Jordan," he exclaimed contritely, "I'm the greatest ass in the
"You must be!" exploded Dick's enemy. "But what was the cause
of it all?"
"Why, Jordan, you---you see-----"
"Who is Miss Bentley?"
"Jordan, she's Prescott's girl!"
"What?" gasped the other cadet, staring at his classmate.
"Jove, a puppy like Prescott has no business with a superb girl
"All the same, Jordan, the fact will prevent you from knowing her."
"Now, I'm not so sure of that!" cried Jordan suddenly, with strange
fire in his eyes.
"What do you mean?"
"Oh, nothing," mumbled Jordan, suddenly recovering himself.
Then, under his breath, he chuckled gleefully:
"Miss Bentley is just struck on the uniform, of course. A girl
like that couldn't care for a misfit like Prescott. Well, he
won't be in the uniform much longer. I won't lose sight of Miss
Bentley. I'll find her again when Prescott is out of the uniform
Now, aloud, he asked:
"Doug, do you happen to remember Miss Bentley's first name?"
"Larry," answered Cadet Douglass absently.
"Stop that!" cried Jordan almost fiercely.
"Oh, a thousand pardons, Jordan. I'm so rattled I don't know
what I'm doing or saying. The girl's first name is Laura. Peach,
"Laura! That's a sweet name," murmured Jordan to himself. His
mind was now running riot, not only with plans to drive Dick Prescott
out of the Army, but also to win the heart of Laura Bentley.
"Hold on, Jord," begged Douglass, halting and leaning against
a post in the veranda structure. "Don't take me to your sister
just yet. Let me get my breath, my nerves, my wits back again."
"Take an hour," advised Jordan laconically. "You need it. Didn't
you know Miss Bentley was Prescott's girl?"
"Yes; but it had slipped my memory. It's mighty hard, when you
come to think of it, to remember the girls of so many hundreds of
fellows," explained Cadet Douglass plaintively.
Ten minutes later Dick and Greg appeared, greeting the ladies.
Mrs. Bentley assented to their going around to the north side
of the porch, whence they could look up the river to the lights
"We very nearly had an adventure, Dick," laughed Belle.
"We very nearly shook hands with Mr. Jordan. It was Laura's quick
cry that saved me, just in the nick of time, from touching hands
with the fellow."
Miss Meade then related their experience, and the discomfiture
of Cadets Douglass and Jordan.
"That's just about like Doug," observed Greg Holmes. "I'll bet
he never thought until Laura called off the signal for the kick."
"What's that?" demanded Miss Bentley.
"Pardon me," apologized Greg. "I think in football terms altogether
too often. But I'm glad Jordan saw the goal and then lost it."
"I think Dick wants to tell us something about the fellow Jordan,
and some of the other cadets," Belle hinted.
Between them the chums told the story of how the "silence" had come
to be imposed. Prescott did not, however, tell his feminine visitors
how he had happened to catch Jordan outside the guard line.
"How did that happen?" asked Laura innocently.
"Now, I'd tell you before I would any one else on earth," protested
Dick with warmth, "but I haven't told Greg or anyone else. I had
good military reasons, not personal ones."
"Oh!" replied Laura. And, not understanding, she felt more than
a little hurt by Dick's failure to answer frankly.
Both girls, however, talked very comfortingly, and Mrs. Bentley
very sensibly aided their efforts. All three tried to make it
quite plain to Dick Prescott that no amount, or consequence, of
lack of understanding by his classmates could make any difference
with his standing in their eyes.
Presently Mrs. Bentley consented to the girls strolling down the
road between the hotel and cadet barracks. Dick, of course, walked
with Laura, while Greg and Belle remained at a discreet,
At last they stood again by the gateway through the shrubbery at
the edge of the hotel grounds.
"Dick-----" began Laura hesitatingly.
"Yes?" asked the young cadet captain.
"Dick, no matter how far your classmates push this matter," begged
Laura, her eyes big and earnest, "don't let their acts force you
out of the Army. No matter what happens---stick!"
Cadet Prescott shook his head wearily. "I can't stick," he replied
firmly, "if I am shown that my presence in the Army is not going
to be for the good and the harmony of the service!"
Laura sighed. Another keen pang of disappointment, was hers.
She now believed that her influence over Dick Prescott was not
anywhere near as strong as she had hoped it would be.
A very wretched girl rested her head on a pillow that night, and
slept but poorly.
In the forenoon, while the corps was absent on an infantry practice
march, Laura, her mother and her friend went dejectedly away from
FATE SERVES DICK HER MEANEST TRICK
The furloughed second class returned, the encampment ended and the
corps marched back into cadet barracks.
The new academic year had begun, with new text-books, new studies,
new intellectual torments for the hundreds of ambitious young
soldiers at the United States Military Academy.
By this time both Dick and Greg had acquired the habits of study
so thoroughly that neither any longer feared for his standing or
To Prescott there was one big comfort about being back in the
old, gray cadet barracks.
The silence put upon Dick was not now quite as much in evidence.
With long study hours, Prescott had not so much need to meet his
In the section rooms nothing in the deportment of the other cadets
could emphasize the silence.
It was only in the authorized visiting hours that Prescott noted
the change keenly.
Of course, according to the traditions of the Military Academy,
Anstey and all the other loyal friends who ached to call were
barred from so doing.
While taps sounds at ten o'clock, and members of the three lower
classes must be in bed, with lights out, at the first sound of
taps, first classmen are privileged, whenever they wish, to run
a light until eleven at night, provided the extra time be spent
One evening in early September, Dick and Greg were both busy at
study table, when Dick chanced to look over some papers connected
with his studies. As he did so, he drew out an officially backed
sheet, and started.
"Jupiter!" he muttered. "I should have turned this in before
"Who gets the report?" asked Greg, looking up.
"It goes to the officer in charge," Dick answered.
"Oh, well, he's up yet. You can slip over to his office with
it," replied Greg easily.
"And I'll do it at once. It may mean a demerit or two, for lack
of punctuality, but I'm glad it's no worse."
Jumping up and donning his fatigue cap, Prescott thrust the neglected
official report into the breast of his uniform blouse, soldier
Then he walked slowly out, halting just inside the subdivision
"I don't mind a few demerits, but I don't like to be accused of
unsoldierly neglect," mused the young cadet captain. "Let me
see if I can think up a way of presenting my statement so that
the O.C. won't scorch me."
As Dick stood there in the gloom, a quick, soft step sounded outside.
Then the door was carefully opened, and a young man in citizen's
Civilians rarely have a right, to be in cadet barracks at any
time of the day. It is wholly out of the question for one to
enter barracks after taps.
"What are you doing in here, sir?" Dick questioned sternly, putting
out his hand to take the other's arm.
Then the young cadet captain drew back in near-horror.
"Good heavens! Durville?" he gasped.
"Yes. Sh!" whispered the other cadet, slinking back, a frightened
look in his eyes.
No cadet, while at West Point, may, without proper permission,
appear in any clothing save the uniform of the day or of the tour.
No cadet ever attempts to don "cits." unless he is up to some
grave mischief, such as leaving the post.
"Don't say a word! Let me reach my room!" whispered Durville
Dick Prescott wished, with all his heart, to be able to comply
with the other cadet's frenzied request.
But duty stepped in with loud voice. As a cadet officer, as captain
of Durville's company, Prescott had no alternative within the
lines of that duty. He must report Cadet Durville.
"Now, don't look at me so strangely," begged Durville. "Let me
go by, and tell me you'll keep this quiet. By Jove, Prescott,
you know what it means to me if I'm placed on report for---this!"
"Yes, I know," nodded Dick, dejectedly, and speaking as hoarsely
as did the other man. "Oh, Durville, I wish I could do it, but-----"
Dick had to clench his fists and gulp hard. Then the soldier in
"Mr. Durville"---he spoke in an impassive official tone, now---"you
will accompany me to the office of the officer in charge, and
will there make such official explanation as you may choose."
"Prescott, for the love of-----" began the other over again, in
"About face, Mr. Durville. Forward!"
Now, all the gameness in the other cadet came to the surface.
He wheeled about, head up, his clenched fists seeking the seams
of his condemning "cit." trousers. Durville marched defiantly
out into the quadrangle, across and into the cadet guard house,
up the flight of stairs and into the office of the officer in
Lieutenant Denton was again O.C. that night.
Both cadets saluted when they entered after knocking.
Lieutenant Denton glanced in sheer dismay at the "cit." clothes
worn by Durville.
"Sir," began Dick huskily, "I regret being obliged to report that
I just discovered Mr. Durville entering the sub-division in citizen's
"Have you any explanation to offer, Mr. Durville?" asked Lieutenant
Denton in his official tone.
"Very good, Mr. Durville. You will go to your room and remain in
close arrest until you receive further official communication in
"Very good, sir."
Durville spoke in steady, if icy tones, as he saluted and made
"That is all, Mr. Durville."
"Very good, sir."
Like one frozen, the cadet in unfamiliar attire turned and left
"How did you happen to make the discovery, Mr. Prescott?" gasped
"I discovered, sir, that I had overlooked this report, which I
now turn in, sir," Dick replied rather hoarsely. "It was just
as I was about to leave the sub-division that Mr. Durville came
in. I had no alternative but to report him, sir."
"You are right, Mr. Prescott. As a cadet officer you had no
Then, with a memory of his own West Point days, Lieutenant Denton
unbent enough to remark feelingly:
"You have unassailable courage, too, Mr. Prescott."
"Thank you, sir."
"Is that all?"
"You have finished your official business?"
"Good night," Mr. Prescott.
"Good night, sir."
Saluting, Dick turned from the office. As he pushed open the door
and reentered the subdivision, he beheld Durville, standing there
with arms folded.
"Possibly at the risk of being reported for breaking my arrest,
Mr. Prescott," began Durville, "I have lingered here to say to
you that you have succeeded in wreaking a most complete revenge
upon one who led a bit in having the silence conferred upon you."
All Dick's reserve melted for an instant.
"Durville, man---you---don't believe I did this for---for revenge?"
Cadet Durville smiled sarcastically.
"I shall undoubtedly be broken for this night's affair, Mr. Prescott,
and you and the rest will continue to believe that I was absent
merely on some vulgar escapade! I go, now, to my arrest, which
is doubtless the last military service I shall be called upon to
render. Mr. Prescott, I congratulate you, sir, upon your ability
to spy upon other men and to serve your highest ideas of suitable
Gloomily Durville turned to his room. Dick almost stumbled to
his own quarters.
Greg Holmes's face blanched when he heard the news.
"There'll be fine class ructions by to-morrow!" he told himself
with unwonted grimness.
THE CLASS TAKES FINAL ACTION
By the time the corps of cadets was seated at breakfast, in the
great mess hall, the following morning, the news began to circulate
It was discussed in low tones at every table save that at which the
silence against Prescott prevailed.
The silence by this time had ceased to be literal, except so far
as it applied to Dick. Other cadets at his table talked among
themselves, though never to Prescott. Greg, being Dick's roommate,
was the sole cadet exempted from this rule.
But the men at Prescott's table restrained their curiosity until
the two battalions had marched back to barracks and had been dismissed.
After the dismissal of the companies Dick and Greg strolled along
slowly. Wherever they passed backs were turned to them, though
this would not have happened to Holmes had he been alone.
Though the news was discussed, no class action was taken. This
must not be done until Durville's fate had overtaken him. Otherwise,
the Military Academy authorities might take such action as defiant
and visit a more severe penalty upon Cadet Durville.
For five days Durville remained in close arrest. This meant, to
the initiated, that the Superintendent had taken up the matter with
the War Department at Washington.
On the sixth day Durville was once more sent for by the commandant
of cadets. His sentence was handed out to him. On account of
an academic reputation of high grade, and a hitherto good-conduct
report, Mr. Durville was not dropped from the corps. Had the
offender, before leaving West Point in "cits.," gone to the cadet
guard house and made any false report concerning his absence,
nothing could have saved him from dismissal for making a false
official report. All things being taken into consideration, Cadet
Durville was "let off" with loss of privileges up to the time
of semi-annual examinations, with, in addition, the walking of
punishment tours every Saturday afternoon during the same period.
Now the gathering wrath broke loose upon Dick. A class meeting
was called, that neither Prescott nor Holmes could attend with
Durville, as a matter of policy, did not attend, but there were
not wanting first classmen who looked upon Durville as a sacrifice,
and who were fully capable of presenting his side of the case at
Upon Anstey, as on a former occasion, fell the task of making
Prescott's side clear.
The class meeting had not been in session many minutes when Dick's
accusers had made it rather plain that Mr. Prescott, following
his previous course with Jordan, had revenged himself also on
Durville, who had taken an active part in securing the imposition
of the silence.
Anstey took the floor in a fiery defence. He brought forth the
statement that Prescott had not made any attempt to pry into the
goings or comings of the unlucky Durville. The Virginian declared
that Prescott had happened to be abroad in time to "catch" Mr.
Durville, simply because Prescott had started for the office of
the officer in charge with an official paper that he had been
tardy about turning in.
Though Anstey dwelt upon this side of the case with consummate
oratory, the defence was regarded as "too transparent." Anstey's
good faith was not questioned, but Prescott's was.
In the turmoil the office of class president was declared vacant.
Anstey was nominated for the office just made vacant, but, with
cold politeness, he refused what, at any other time, would have
been a high honor.
Cadet Douglass was presently elected class president.
Then further action was taken with regard to Cadet Richard Prescott.
Without further debate a motion was carried that Prescott be sent
to Coventry for good and all.
The class meeting adjourned, and upon Greg Holmes, who was informed
by Anstey, fell the task of carrying the decision to Dick.
"I expected it, Holmesy," was Dick's quiet reply.
"Buck up, anyway, old ramrod," begged Greg. "This terrible mess
will all be straightened out before graduation."
"Not in time to do me any good," replied Dick gloomily.
"Now what do you mean?"
But Dick closed his jaws firmly.
Greg knew better than to press his questioning further, just then.
He contented himself with crossing the room, resting both hands
on Dick's shoulders.
"Now, old ramrod, just remember this: Into every life a good deal
of trouble comes. It is up to each fellow, in his own case, to
show how much of a man he is. The fellow who lies down, or runs
away, isn't a man. The fellow who fights his trouble out to a
grim finish, is a man every inch of his five or six feet! The
class is wild, just now, but on misinformation. Fight it out!
Enemies of yours have brought you to this pass. Don't run away!
All your friends are with you as much as ever they were."
Dick was a good deal affected.
"Believe me, Greg, whatever I decide on doing won't be in the
line of running away. Whatever I decide upon will be what I finally
believe to be for the best good of the service."
"Humph!" muttered Greg, looking wonderingly at his chum.
In the closing period of the next forenoon Dick's section did not
recite. Greg's did. So Prescott was left alone in the room with
Despite himself, Greg was so worried, during that recitation, that
he "fessed cold"---that is, he secured a mark but a very little
As soon as the returning section was dismissed Cadet Holmes, his
heart beating fast, hurried to his room.
There sat Dick, at the study table, as Greg had left him. But
Prescott had pushed his textbooks aside. Before him rested only
a sheet of paper. With pen in hand Prescott wrote something at
the bottom just as Holmes entered the room. Then Dick looked
up with a half cheery face.
"I've done it, Greg," he announced simply, in a hard, dry voice.
"Done it?" echoed Cadet Holmes. "What?"
"I have written my resignation as a member of the corps of cadets,
United States Military Academy."
"Bosh!" roared Cadet Holmes in a great rage. "The resignation
is written, signed, and---it sticks!" returned Dick Prescott
with quiet emphasis.
LIEUTENANT DENTON'S STRAIGHT TALK
"Let me have that paper!" demanded Greg, darting forward.
There was fire in Cadet Holmes's eyes and purpose in his heart
as he reached forward to snatch the sheet from the desk.
Yet Dick Prescott stepped before him, thrusting him quietly aside
with a manner that was not to be overridden.
"Don't touch it, Greg!" he ordered in a low voice that was none
the less compelling.
"But you shan't send that resignation in!" quivered Greg.
"My dear boy, you know very well that I shall!"
"Have you no thought for me?" Cadet Holmes demanded.
"My going may put you in a blue streak for a week, old fellow,
but it will put me in a blue streak for a lifetime. Yet there's
no other way for me. What's the use of being an ostracized officer
in the service? With you, Greg, old chum, it is different. You
will, after a little, be very happy in the Army."
"Happy in the---nothing!" exploded Greg. "I told you, weeks ago,
that if you quit the service, I would do the same thing."
"But you won't," urged Dick. "In these weeks you have had time
to reflect and turn sensible."
"Do you suppose I care to go on, old chum, if you don't?"
"Yes," answered Dick quietly. "And if the case were reversed,
and you were resigning, I should go on just the same and stick
in the service. Why, Greg, if we both went on into the Army,
and under the happiest conditions, we wouldn't be together, anyway.
You might be in one regiment, down in Florida, and I in another
out in the Philippines. When I was serving in Cuba, you'd be
in Alaska. Don't be foolish, Greg. I've got to leave, but there's
no earthly reason why you should. Your resigning would be mistaken
loyalty to me, and would cast no rebuke or regret over the cadet
corps or the Army. The fellows who are going to stick would simply
feel that one weak-kneed chap had dropped by the wayside. They'd
merely march on and forget you."
"There goes the first call for dinner formation," cried Holmes,
wheeling and beginning his hasty preparations.
"That's better," laughed Dick, as he shoved his resignation into
the drawer of the table.
Then Dick, too, made his hurried preparations. Second call found
them ready to watch the forming of A company. At the command
Dick gave his own company order:
"Fours right! Forward---march!"
Away went A company, at the head of the corps, the whole long line
giving forth the rhythmic sound of marching feet.
No outsider could have guessed that the young senior cadet captain
was utterly discredited by the majority of his class, and that he
was about to drop hopelessly out of this stirring life.
On the return from dinner Dick went at once to his room.
"What are you going to do?" demanded Greg impatiently, as Prescott
seated himself at the study table.
"I am going to address an envelope to hold the sheet of paper
of which you so much disapprove."
Greg knew it was useless to expostulate. Instead, he hurried
out, found Anstey, and called the Virginian so that both could
stand in the place where they would be sure to see Prescott if
he attempted to come out.
Feverishly, in undertones, Greg confided the news to Anstey.
"I don't just see what we can do, suh," answered the southerner
with a puzzled look.
"Prescott is doing, suh, just what I reckon I'd do myself, suh, if
I were in his place."
"But we can't lose him," urged Greg.
"I know we'll hate like thunder to, suh. But what can we do?
Can we beg Prescott to stay, and face the cold shoulder, suh,
all the time he is here, and in the Army afterwards?"
"I'm not getting much comfort out of you, Anstey," muttered Greg
"And that, suh, is because I don't see where the comfort comes
in. Holmesy, don't think I'm not suffering, suh. It'll break
my heart to see old ramrod drop out of the corps."
"Then you don't think we can stop Prescott?"
"I reckon I don't Holmesy. This is the kind of matter, suh, that
every man must settle for himself. If I were a much older man,
Holmesy, with much more experience in the Army, I reckon I might
be able to give him some very sound advice. But as it is, suh,
I know I can't."
When Greg returned to the room he found Dick preparing books and
papers to march to the next section recitation.
"What have you done with that resignation of yours?" growled Greg.
"It's in that drawer," replied Dick, with a weary smile, "and
I rely on you, old fellow, not to do anything to it. It would
only give me all the pain over again if I had to rewrite it."
"Dick, can nothing change your mind?"
"I have thought it all over, old friend."
The call for section formation sounded, and both hurried away.
Later, Dick's section returned a full minute and a half ahead
of the one to which Holmes belonged.
"Now's the time!" muttered Dick, opening the drawer and slipping
the envelope into the breast of his blouse.
Then he hurried out, crossing the quadrangle to the cadet guard
house. Cadet Holmes, in section ranks, marched into the quadrangle
in time just to catch a glimpse of Prescott's disappearing back.
Going up the stairs, Dick knocked on the door of the office of
"Come in!" called the officer in charge, who proved to be none
other than Lieutenant Denton again.
"What is it, Mr. Prescott?" inquired the Army officer, as Prescott,
saluting, advanced to the officer's desk, then halted, standing
"Sir, I have come to ask for some information."
"What is it, Mr. Prescott?"
"Sir, I have a paper, addressed to the superintendent. I do not
know whether I should take it to the adjutant's office, or whether
I should forward it through this office."
"I thought you understood your company paper work, Mr. Prescott,"
smiled Lieutenant Denton.
"I think I do, sir; but this kind of paper I have never had to put
"What kind of paper is it?"
"My resignation, sir," replied Dick quietly. Lieutenant Denton
looked almost as much astonished as he felt.
"What?" he choked. Then a slight smile came into his face.
"Oh, I think I begin to understand, Mr. Prescott. You wish more
time for your studies, and so you are resigning your post as captain
of A company."
"This is my resignation, sir, from the corps of cadets."
Lieutenant Denton looked utterly nonplussed.
"Oh, very good, Mr. Prescott. If you are bent on leaving the
Military Academy, I presume I have no right to demand your reasons.
But---won't you sit down?"
The lieutenant pointed to a chair near his own.
"Thank you, sir," nodded Prescott. Taking off his fatigue cap,
he dropped into the chair, though he sat very erect.
"Now," smiled Mr. Denton, "perhaps we can drop, briefly, some
of the relation between officer and cadet. We may be able to
talk as friends---real friends. I trust so. May I feel at liberty
to ask you, Mr. Prescott, whether there are any urgent family
reasons behind this sudden move of yours?"
"Then is it---but I don't wish to be intrusive."
"I certainly don't consider you intrusive, Mr. Denton, and I
appreciate your sympathy and friendship. But I am resigning from
the corps for the best of good reasons."
"May I question you, Mr. Prescott?"
"If you care to, sir."
"I do wish it, very much," rejoined Lieutenant Denton, "though
I have asked your consent because, in what I am now seeking to
do, I am going rather beyond my place as a tactical officer of
the Military Academy. If you are sure, however, that you do not
find me intrusive, and if you would like to talk this matter
over---not as officer and cadet, but as between a young man and a
somewhat older one, and as friends above all, then I am going to
ask you a few questions."
"Although I am certain that you cannot help me, Mr. Denton, I
am very grateful for every sign of interest that you may show
in me. It is something of balm to me to feel that I shall leave
behind some who will regret my going."
"Prescott," asked the officer abruptly, "you have been sent to
Coventry, haven't you? You needn't answer unless you wish."
"I have, sir," Dick assented.
"Twice it has happened, when I have been on duty, that you have
had to report classmates to me. Now, I'm not going to step over
the line by asking you whether those reports were the basis of
your being sent to Coventry. But, to please myself, I'm going
to assume that such is the case."
To this Dick made no reply. It was an instance in which a cadet
could not, with propriety, discuss class action with an officer
on duty at the Military Academy.
"Now, Prescott, I'm not going to ask you whether my surmise is
a correct one, but I'm going to ask you another question, as a
friend only, and in no official way. Of course, in a friendly
matter you may suit yourself about answering it. Have you done
anything else that could excuse the class in punishing you?"
"Nothing whatever, sir."
"Mr. Prescott, aren't you wholly satisfied with your conduct?"
"I don't quite know how to answer that, Mr. Denton,"
"Have you done anything that you wouldn't repeat if the need arose?"
"I have not, sir," replied Dick with great earnestness.
"Do you feel, in your own soul, that you have done anything to
discredit the splendid old gray uniform that you wear?"
"I do not, sir."
"Answer this, or not, as you please. Don't you feel wholly convinced
that your class has done you an injustice which it would reverse
instantly if it knew all the circumstances?"
"I feel certain that my classmates would restore me at once to their
favor, if they knew the full circumstances."
"Have you felt obliged to refuse them any information for which a
class committee had asked, Prescott?"
"Let me do some hard thinking, my lad. Ah, now, as I look back
to the night when you were obliged to report Mr. Jordan for being
outside the guard lines, I had myself that night assigned you
to official duty near the guard lines. You were to intercept
plebes who might try to run the guard, and to send them back to
"That was special duty," resumed Lieutenant Denton. "Now, if you
had been asked, by a class committee, to explain how you happened
to be out there at the right time to catch Mr. Jordan, you would
have felt bound to refuse to reveal your orders from me?"
"I certainly would have felt so bound, Mr. Denton."
"Ah! Now I think I understand a good deal, Prescott. Then, at
another time, very recently, you forgot, until late, to turn in
an official report to me. You started to hurry over here, and,
in so doing, you must have accidentally encountered a certain
cadet returning in "cit." clothes. As his company commander,
you surely felt bound to report him for so flagrant a breach of
discipline. Yet, if your class did not fully understand or credit
the fact that only an oversight of yours had thrown you in that
cadet's way, it would make the class feel that you had deliberately
trapped the man, after having spied on his actions earlier in
Dick remained silent, but Lieutenant Denton was a clear headed
and logical guesser.
"In my cadet days," smiled the lieutenant, "such a suspicion against
a cadet officer would certainly have resulted in ostracism for him."
"Now, Prescott," asked the officer in charge, leaning over and
resting a friendly hand on the cadet's arm, "you feel that you
have been, throughout, a gentleman and a good soldier, and that
you have not done anything sneaky?"
"That is my opinion of myself, Mr. Denton."
"And yet, feeling that your course has been wholly honorable,
you are going to throw up your career in the Army, and waste some
twenty thousand dollars of the nation's money that has been expended
in giving you your training here?"
"It sounds like a fearful thing to do, Mr. Denton, but I can see
no way out of it, sir. If I am to go on into the Army, and be
an ostracized officer, I should be of no value to myself or to
the service. Wherever I should go, my usefulness would be gone
and my presence demoralizing."
"Now, if that ostracism continued, your usefulness would be gone,
Prescott, beyond a doubt, and the Army would be better off without
you. But if justice should triumph, later, you would be restored
to your full usefulness, and to the full enjoyment of your career.
Now, Prescott, my boy"---here the officer's voice became tender,
friendly, earnest---"you have been attending chapel every Sunday?"
"You have listened to the chaplain's discourses, and I take it
that you have had earlier religious instruction, also. Prescott,
do you or do you not believe that there is a God above who sees
all, loves all and rights all injustice in His own good time?"
"Assuredly I believe it, sir."
"And yet, in your own case, you have so little faith in that justice
that, though you feel your course has been honorable, you cannot
wait for justice to be done. Prescott, isn't that kind of faith
Dick felt staggered. Although his lot had been cast with Army
officers for more than three years, he had never heard any of
them, save the chaplain, discuss matters of Christian faith.
Yet he knew that Denton, who sat beside him, smiling with friendly
eyes, was talking from full conviction.
"You've made me see my present predicament in a somewhat different
light, sir," Dick stammered.
"Prescott, I have knocked about in a good deal of rough life since
I was graduated from here, but I have full faith that every upright
and honorable man is ultimately safe under Heaven's justice.
So have you, or I am mistaken in you. Why not buck up, and make
up your mind to go through your hard rub here firm in the conviction
that this is only a passing cloud that is certain to be dispelled?
Why not stick, like a man of faith and honor? Now, as officer
in charge, I will inform you that you should take a letter of
resignation to the adjutant's office, and hand it to that officer
As your friend, I suggest that you give me your letter, with your
permission to destroy it."
"Here is the letter, Mr. Denton."
"Thank you, my boy. You may see what I do with it."
Rising, Lieutenant Denton crossed to an open fire that was burning
low. He laid the envelope across the embers.
Prescott, too, rose, feeling that the interview was at an end.
"Just a moment more of friendly conversation, Prescott," continued
the lieutenant, coming forward and taking the cadet's hand. "I
want you to remember that you are not to write or send in any
other letter of resignation until you have first talked it over
with me. And I want you to remember that a soldier should be
a man of faith as well as of honor. Further, Prescott, you may
feel yourself wholly at liberty to explain, at any time, what
your orders from me were that led to your catching and reporting
"Thank you, sir; but I'm afraid I shan't be asked for any further
"Seek me, at any time, if there is anything you wish to ask me,
or anything that puzzles you."
"Yes, sir; thank you."
Dick had again placed his fatigue cap on his head, and was standing
rigidly at attention. They were once more tactical officer and cadet.
"That is all, Mr. Prescott, and I am very glad that you came to
see me," continued the officer in charge.
Prescott saluted, received the officer's acknowledging salute,
turned and left the office.
A minute later he was allowing good old Greg to pump the details
of that interview out of him.
"Say," muttered Cadet Holmes, staring soberly at his chum, "an
officer like Lieutenant Denton can put a different look on things,
"He certainly can, Greg."
"I'm not going to be fresh, while I'm a cadet," continued Holmes.
"But when I'm an officer I'm going to seek Mr. Denton and ask him
to be my friend, too!"
THE NEWS FROM FRANKLIN FIELD
Though Dick was firmly resolved on his new course, life none the
less was bitter for him.
The Army football team was now being organized and drilled in
earnest. Douglass captained it this year, and was doing excellent
work, though his material was not as good as he could have wished.
Anstey was developing speed and strategy in the position of quarterback,
and, in football matters, was a close confidant of Douglass.
"This Prescott muss has given us a bad setback this year," growled
"It certainly has, suh," agreed the Virginian. "We're certainly
going to feel the loss of Prescott and Holmes when we come to
face the Navy eleven with such men as Darrin and Dalzell."
"Hang it, yes. I'm shivering already," growled Douglass. "Now,
of course, we can't ask Prescott to join."
"And he wouldn't come in, suh, while in Coventry, if we asked him."
"But Holmes, who is almost as good a man, ought not to hold back
where the Army's credit and honor are at stake. Holmes ought
to stand for the Army, asleep or awake!"
"If I were in Holmesy's place, I wouldn't come in," rejoined the
Virginian. "I'd stay out, just as Holmesy is doing."
"But you were one of Prescott's thick friends, too."
"I'm not his roommate, or his schoolboy chum, suh. Holmesy is.
"It's hard to lose either of them," sighed Douglass, "and fierce
to lose both of them. We've worked like real heroes, but I can't
see any such team coming on as the Army had last year. And the
Navy eleven will undoubtedly be better this year than it was last."
"The Army must stand to lose by the action of the first class,"
insisted Anstey doggedly.
Though every man in the corps would have thrown up his cap at
the announcement that Prescott and Holmes were to play again this
year, the leaders of first-class opinion could see no reason to
alter their judgment of Dick. So he continued in Coventry.
The football season came on with a rush at last. The Army won
some of its games, from minor teams, but none from the bigger
Then came the fateful Saturday when the corps went over to
Philadelphia. Dick and Greg were the only two members of the
corps, not under severe discipline, who remained behind at the
Late that afternoon Greg, with a long face, brought in the football
news from Franklin Field.
"The Navy has wiped us up, ten to two," grumbled Holmes.
"I'm heartily sorry," cried Dick, and he spoke the truth.
"Well, it's our class's fault," growled Greg. "The Army can thank
"We might not have been able to save the game," argued Prescott.
"We could have rattled Dave and Dan a lot," retorted Greg. "My
own belief is we could have saved the day."
"You might have played, Greg. I wouldn't have resented it."
"No; but I'd have felt a fine contempt for myself," retorted Cadet
Holmes scornfully. "Besides, Dick, though I have done some fairly
good things in football, I don't believe I'd be worth a kick without
you. It was playing with you that made me shine, always."
Late that evening the cadet corps returned, in the gloomiest frame
"I can just see the blaze of bonfires at Annapolis," groaned Douglass.
"Say, the middies just fairly tore our scalps off. I always had
an ambition to captain the Army eleven, but I never thought I'd be
dragged down so deep under the mire!"
The details of that sad game for the Army need not be gone into
here. All the particulars of that spiritedly fought disaster
will be found in the fourth volume of the Annapolis Series, entitled
"_Dave Darrin's Fourth Year At Annapolis_."
A lot of the cadets who felt sorry for "Doug" came to his room.
"I haven't altogether gotten it through my weak mind yet," confessed
the disheartened Army football captain. "I can't understand how
those little middies managed to treat us quite so badly."
"I can tell you," retorted Anstey.
"Then I wish you would," begged "Doug."
"Go ahead!" clamored a dozen others.
"I don't know whether you fellows believe in hoodoos?" asked Anstey.
"Yes; the Army is under one now."
"Explain yourself, Anstey!"
"There is a man in this class," replied the Virginian solemnly,
"who has been treated unjustly by the others. Lots of you won't
see it, and can't be made to reason. But that injustice has put
the hoodoo on the Army's athletics, and the hoodoo will strut
along beside the present first class all the way through this
year. You'll find it out more and more as time goes on. Just
wait until next spring, and see the Navy walk away with the baseball
"Stop that, Anstey!"
"Put him out!"
"Give him soothing syrup."
"Wait until June, gentlemen," retorted the Virginian calmly.
"Then you'll see."
"What rot!" sneered Jordan bitterly.
"Well, of course," admitted others in undertones, "we lost through
not having Prescott and Holmes on the eleven. But we'd better lose,
even, than win through men not fit to associate with."
"Prescott must be chuckling," jeered Durville.
"He's doing nothing of the sort, suh!" flared Anstey. "And I'm
prepared to maintain my position."
READY TO BREAK THE CAMEL'S BACK
From Thanksgiving to Christmas the time seemed to fly all too fast
for most of the young men of the corps of cadets.
Dick Prescott, however, had never known time to drag so fearfully.
Cut off from association with any but Greg, Dick had much, very
much time on his hands.
Full of a dogged purpose to stick to his word given to Lieutenant
Denton, Prescott used nearly all of his waking time in study when
he was not at recitation. In his classes he soared. In engineering
and law, the studies of this term which called for the most exacting
thought, Prescott showed unusual signs of "maxing," or getting
among the highest marks. Yet, after all this was done, so much
leisure did the lonely Dick have that he found time to coach Greg
and pull him along over the hard parts.
"Look at that fellow recite! Look where he stands in the sections!"
growled Durville in bewilderment to Jordan.
"It looks as if the sneak meant to stick," uttered Jordan incredulously.
"Yet of course he knows he can't. If it were only for West Point
he might stick, but the Army, through his lifetime, would be just
as bad for him."
It had been a general notion that Prescott, either too proud or
too stubborn to allow himself to be forced out, would wait and
"fess out cold" at the January semi-annuals. Thus he would be
dropped for deficiency, and would not have to admit to anyone
that he had allowed himself to be driven from the Military Academy
by the "silence" that had been extended to him.
Jordan knew better than to go near the fiery young Anstey, so he
managed to induce Durville to speak to the Virginian as to
"I don't know Mr. Prescott's intentions, suh," replied Anstey
with perfect truth and a good deal of dignity. "I am bound, suh,
to follow the class's action, suh, much as I disapprove of it.
So I have had no word with Mr. Prescott later than you have."
"But you know the fellow's roommate, Mr. Holmes," suggested Durville.
"I am under the impression that you do, too, suh," replied Anstey
significantly, yet without infusing offence into his even tones.
It was no use. The first class could only guess. No cadet knew,
unless it were Holmes, what Prescott's intentions were about quitting
the corps in the near future. And Greg, usually both chatty and
impulsive, could be as cold and silent as a sphinx where his chum's
secrets or interests were concerned.
Had he wished, he might have gone home at Christmas, for a day
or two, for he was on the good-conduct roll; but Dick felt that
Christmas at home would be a heart break just now. As he did
not go, Greg did not go either.
The reader may be sure that Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell, at Annapolis,
knew the state of affairs with their old-time friend and leader.
Greg had sent word of what was happening with Dick.
"Buck up---that's all, old chap," Dave wrote from the Naval Academy.
"You never did a mean thing, and you never will. Even your class
will learn that before very long. So buck up! Hit the center
of the line and charge through! Don't think Dan and I are not
sorry for you, but we're even more interested in seeing you charge
right through all disaster in a way that fits the pride, courage
and honor that we know you to possess. I asked Dan if he had
any message to send you. Old Dan's reply was: 'Dick doesn't need
any message. If there's any fellow on earth who can jump in and
scalp Fate, it's our old Dick.' There you are, Army chum! We're
merely waiting for word that you've won out, for you're bound
January came, and with it the semi-annual examinations. So high
was Dick's class standing that he had to go up for but one "writ."
That was Spanish.
"I reckon Spanish is where he falls," chuckled Durville, when
Jordan spoke to him about it. "It's easy to make mistakes enough
on Spanish verbs and declensions to throw a fellow down and out.
That'll be Prescott's line."
"Of course," nodded Jordan. Yet Dick's enemy was very far from
feeling hopeful that such would be the case.
"I never imagined the fellow could stick as long as he has," Jordan
told himself disconsolately.
One night Anstey, just before the semi-ans., took a chance. Usually
the Virginian was careful in matters of discipline. But now he
invited a dozen members of his class to his room to discuss an
"Going?" asked Durville of Jordan.
"I'm not invited, Durry," replied the other.
"I am, and I'm going."
"But you don't know the subject of the meeting?"
"No; that's what puzzles me," admitted Durville. "I'm wondering
if it has anything to do with choosing the class ring, or selecting
our uniforms for after graduation."
"You simpleton!" cried Jordan in disgust. "You don't see far,
do you? Can't you guess what the meeting is to discuss?"
"I'm blessed if I can."
"Anstey, outside of Holmes, has been the most constant friend of
Prescott. Now, Prescott has his chance of passing, if the class
'silence' on him can be lifted. Anstey is going to sound class
opinion. If the 'silence' can't be lifted, then Prescott is
going to 'fess' down and out, and we shall see the last of him."
"Poor old fellow!" muttered Durville. "Say, do you know, I'm
growing almost sorry for the poor beggar and his long, bitter dose."
"After what he did to you?" demanded Jordan with instant scorn.
"Durville, I thought you a man of spirit."
"May a man of spirit forgive his enemy, especially when he sometimes
doubts whether the other fellow really is an enemy?" demanded
"Oh, he may, I suppose," replied Jordan, his lip curling. "On
the whole, however, I am a good deal surprised at seeing you accept
the loss of all your liberties and privileges so easily as you
Naturally, the effect of Jordan's words was to kill a good deal
of Durville's fleeting sympathy, for the latter had suffered a
good deal from the restraint of his liberties, following the escapade
for which Dick had reported him.
The meeting in Anstey's room resulted in the secret gathering
of a dozen men. Eight of these were friends of Dick, who would
still like to see the class action reversed or ended. But Anstey
had been clever enough also to invite four men who were numbered
among Prescott's adversaries. One of these was Douglass, the
cadet who had been elected to succeed Dick as class president.
"Now, gentlemen," began Anstey, in his soft voice of ordinary
conversation, "I don't believe we have any need of a presiding
officer in this little meeting. With your permission, I will
state why I have asked you to come here.
"For months, now, we have had a member of this class in Coventry.
Barely more than a majority believed in that Coventry, but once
action had been taken by the class, the disapproving minority
stood loyally by class action. I have been among those of the
minority to abide by majority action, and I can assure you that
I have suffered very nearly as much as has Mr. Prescott, whose
case I am now discussing.
"The majority has had its way for months. Is it not now time,
if the class will not grant full justice, at least to grant something
to the wishes of the minority?"
"What do you mean?" asked one of Dick's opponents. "Mr. Prescott
will let himself be found deficient in at least one study, won't
he, and thus take his unpopular presence away from the Military
"I cannot answer that," admitted Anstey slowly. "Doubtless many
of you will be surprised when I tell you that I have had no word
in the matter from Mr. Prescott. I have not even mentioned the
subject to his roommate, Mr. Holmes."
"Then whom do you represent?" demanded the other cadet.
"Myself and other believers in Mr. Prescott," replied Anstey simply.
"The very least we ask is that you stop punishing so many of
us through Mr. Prescott. Gentlemen, do you not feel that any
man who commands as many friends in his class as does Mr. Prescott
must be a man above the petty meannesses of which he was accused,
and for which he was sent to Coventry?"
"I've been one of the sufferers through Mr. Prescott," commented
Durville grimly. "As for me, I'll admit that I'd be glad to see
the 'silence' lifted. I feel that Mr. Prescott has been punished
enough, and that, if we now lift the 'silence,' he would be more
careful after this. I think he has been chastened enough. If
I could find any reason whatever for refusing to vote for the
end of the Coventry, it would come from the question as to whether
any one class has the right to upset the traditions and establish
a new precedent for such cases."
"There is the most of the case in a nutshell I am afraid," declared
Cadet Douglass. "In our interior corps discipline we not only
work from tradition, but we strengthen or weaken it for the classes
that are to follow us. Have we any right to weaken a tradition
that is as old as the Military Academy itself?"
These simple remarks, made with an absence of bitter feeling,
swung the tide against Dick. The meeting in Anstey's room lasted
for more than an hour. When the meeting broke up Anstey and some
of his advisers felt convinced that to call a class meeting would
be merely to bring about a vote that Prescott was to be kept in
Coventry for all time to come.
Anstey told Greg the result of the meeting, but Holmes did not
tell his chum.
"It's all settled as it ought to be," declared Cadet Jordan.
"You mean-----" asked Durville.
"Why, either Prescott will have to be 'found' in his exams., or
else he'll be bound to resign as soon as he has proved that his
departure from West Point was not due to poor scholarship. Which
ever way he prefers to do it, the fellow will have to get out
of the corps within the next few days!"
"Yes; I suppose so," almost sighed Durville.
"Why, hang you, Durry, you talk like a man whose good opinion can
be won by a kicking."
"Do you" asked Durville, with a warning flash in his eyes.
"Oh, don't take me too seriously," protested Jordan. "But I cannot
help marveling at your near liking for the man who landed you
in such a scrape."
"I don't enjoy hitting a man who is down; that is all," returned
Durville. "I've seen Mr. Prescott down for so many weeks and
months that I'd like to see how he looks when he's a man instead
of an under dog."
"Well, I'm glad to say the class is plainly not of your way of
thinking," growled Jordan. "The class is for maintaining higher
ideals of the honor of military service and true comradeship. So
it's only a matter of what date the fellow selects for leaving
And truly that was the view that seemed to be pressing more and
more tightly upon Dick Prescott. The pressure was becoming more
than he could bear. He had followed Lieutenant Denton's advice,
and had put up a good and a brave fight. But to be "the only
dog in a cage of lions" is a fearful ordeal for the
bravest---especially when the door is open.
Greg never seemed to notice the sighs that occasionally escaped
Dick Prescott's lips. Holmes no longer tried to cheer his friend
by open speech or advice. Yet not a thing that Dick did escaped
the covert watchfulness of his roommate.
The semi-ans. over, and the results posted on the bulletin board
in the Academic Building, it was discovered that Cadet Richard
Prescott now stood number twenty-four in his class---a rank never
heretofore won by him.
Cadet Jordan was so furious that his face was ghastly white when he
made the discovery.
"Will nothing ever drive that living disgrace Prescott out of
the corps?" Jordan asked three or four of the men. "Why, the
fellow is defying class authority! He's making fools of us all.
He bluntly asks us what we think we can do about it!"
"We'll have to show Prescott, then," grimly replied one of the
cadets with whom Jordan talked.
"But how?" demanded Cadet Jordan craftily. "Is there any possible
way of making as thickheaded or stubborn a fellow as Prescott
realize that he simply can't go on with us? That we won't have him
"Oh, I think there's a way," smiled the other cadet.
"Then I wonder why some one doesn't find it?" demanded Jordan
"We shall, I think."
Greg scented new mischief in the air, yet he was hardly the one to
do the scouting.
Anstey, however, could look about for the news, and he could properly
discuss it with Cadet Holmes.
With the beginning of the last half of the year the members of the
first class found themselves sufficiently busy with their studies.
Dick's affair was allowed to slumber for a few days.
Even Cadet Jordan, whose sole purpose now in life was to "work"
Prescott out of the corps, was clever enough to assent to letting
the matter rest for a few days.
After another fortnight, however, the first class, in its moments
of leisure, especially in the brief rests right after meals, again
began to throb over what was considered the brazen and open defiance
of Dick Prescott in persisting in remaining a cadet at the Military
So many members of the class, however, insisted on going slowly
and with great deliberation that the Jordan faction did not make
the mistake of rushing matters. At any rate, Prescott was in
Coventry, and there he would stay.
Thus February came on and passed slowly. To all outward appearances
Prescott was as selfpossessed and contented as ever he had been
while at the Military Academy.
Now, Army baseball was the topic. The nine and other members
of the baseball squad were practising in earnest. Durville had
been chosen to captain the nine.
Though there was some mighty good material in the nine, neither the
coaches nor Durville were wholly satisfied.
"Holmesy," broached Durville plaintively one day, "you play a
grand game of football."
"Thank you," replied Greg, with a pretense of mock modesty; "I
"And you must play a great game of ball, too."
"I did once---pardon these blushes. Dick Prescott was my old trainer
"Oh, bother Prescott! We can't have him."
"I don't play well without him," remarked Greg blandly.
"Come over to practice this afternoon, won't you?"
"Yes; but I don't believe I'll try for the nine."
"Come over and let us see your style, any way."
Greg turned up late that afternoon for practice. What he showed
the captain and coaches had them fairly "rattled" with desire to
slip Greg into the nine.
"I'm much obliged to you all," Greg insisted gently, "but I told
you I wasn't going to try for the nine. I never played a game
without Prescott, and I know I'd be a hoodoo if I did."
Though a great lot of pressure was brought to bear upon him, Holmes
still held out. It was his privilege to refuse to play, if he so
chose. Above all, the coaches, who were Army officers, could not
"That man Holmes is just the fellow we need to round out the team,"
complained one of the players to Durville.
"Yes," sighed the captain of the Army nine; "and Holmesy tells
me that he's a tyro to Mr. Prescott."
"Then Mr. Prescott must be a wonder on the diamond," grunted the
"I hear that he is," assented Durville. "By the way, you remember
Darrin and Dalzell, who helped the Navy team to wipe the field up
with us last year?"
"I reckon I do."
"Well, it seems that Prescott, Holmes, Darrin and Dalzell were
all members of the athletic squad in the same High School before
they entered the service."
"Darrin and Dalzell are going to make it possible for the Navy to
wipe us up again this year, too," continued the other cadet
"I don't believe they would, if we could put in Mr. Prescott and
Holmesy for this year."
"But we can't, Durry."
"No; I know it."
"So what's the use of talking." Nevertheless, there was a lot
of talking, and dozens waylaid Greg and tried to induce him to
reconsider. But he wouldn't, and that was all there was to it.
No one even thought of lifting the ban from Prescott in order
to gain either or both of these cadet athletes. West Point cadets
are consistent. They will never lift the ban, once they believe
it to have been justly laid, just in order to make a better athletic
showing. The Academy authorities demand that a team athlete shall
stand well in his studies and general discipline; the cadets themselves
demand also that the man who carries their athletic colors must
conform to cadet ideals of honor. And Prescott, being in Coventry,
surely was not to be regarded as a man of honor.
Washington's Birthday had come and passed, and Prescott still
lingered in the cadet corps. Indeed, he seemed as determined as
ever upon graduating.
There were limits, however, to class patience. It was Anstey who
got on the track of the news and brought it to Greg.
"A class meeting is to be called ten days hence," reported the
Virginian. "The meeting will be announced at supper formation
to-night. It is set well ahead in order to give the fellows plenty
of time to think over the subject for discussion."
"That discussion," guessed Holmes, "is to be as to the best means
of driving Dick from the corps."
"You've guessed it, suh," replied the Virginian sorrowfully.
"Whatever the class feels called upon to do, suh, I reckon it will
be something that will break our poor camel's back."
THE FIGURES IN THE DARK
The reader will hardly need to be told that this spirited young
cadet was suffering his unmerited disgrace as keenly as ever.
More keenly, in fact, for every day that the silence continued it
seemed to add to the weight of the burden that bound him down.
Yet Greg asked no questions, for he felt that it would be safer
not to do so. He had just barely told Prescott of the purpose
of the coming class meeting, which the latter cadet had already
guessed for himself, however.
"I suppose I'll have a few loyal friends at that meeting?" asked
Dick, with a sad smile.
"Just as many friends as ever," asserted Holmes stoutly.
"I'm mighty grateful for that," nodded Dick. "But what I seem to
need is more friends than ever."
"We'll find them for you, if there's any way to do it," promised
Holmes, and there the talk dropped.
"If the class goes against me again, and harder than before, I'm
certain I shall have to see Lieutenant Denton once more and tell
him that I can't stand it any longer," Dick told himself.
The class meeting was to be held on a Monday evening. On the
night of the Saturday before, when scores of cadets were over
at Cullum Hall at a merry "hop," Prescott slipped out of barracks
by himself in Greg's absence.
Almost unconsciously Prescott's steps turned in the direction
of Trophy Point. In the darkness he stood before Battle Monument,
on which are inscribed the names of the West Point graduates who
have fallen in battles.
"Will my name ever be there, or have any chance to be there?"
wondered Dick, a big lump rising in his throat.
A tear stood in either eye, but he brushed them aside as unworthy
of a soldier. Was he ever going to be a soldier, he wondered.
"I don't know that I'm really ready to be killed in battle," thought
Dick grimly. "It would be enough to know that my name is to be
on the roll of graduates of the Military Academy, and afterwards
on the rolls of the Army as an officer who had served with credit
wherever he had been placed. But the fates seem against even
that much. Hang it all, what was it that Lieutenant Denton said
about faith and right, and faith being as much the soldier's duty
as honor? I guess he was never placed in just such a fix as mine!"
For, slowly, all of Dick's iron-clad resolution to "stick it out"
was wearing away. It was becoming plainer to him, every day,
that he could not stay in the Army if he were always to live in
Coventry as far as his brother officers were concerned.
"I wonder what the fellows will do at the meeting next Monday
night?" Dick pondered, as he turned and strolled back by another
road. "If the fellows could only realize how unjust they are
without meaning to be! But I can't make them see that. I'll
have to resign, of course, but I promised Lieutenant Denton to
talk it over with him before doing anything of the sort, and I'll
keep my word."
Very absent minded did the young cadet become in the midst of
his perplexed musings. He heard the sound of martial music and
unconsciously his feet moved in quicker time.
It was as though he were marching, led on by he knew not what.
Straight toward the music he moved, with the tread of a soldier
responding to the drums.
Then, at last, when he was almost upon the building, Prescott
came to himself and stopped abruptly.
"Cullum Hall!" he muttered, with a harsh laugh. "The night of
the cadet hop. My classmates are in there, free-hearted and happy,
and taking their lessons in the social graces---while I am on
the outside, the social outcast of the class!"
Yet, as there were no cadets in sight, out at this north end of
the handsome building, Prescott presently moved forward, nearer.
"The old, old story of the beggar on the outside! The man on
the outside, looking in!" muttered Dick with increasing bitterness.
"Yet I may as well look, since there is none to see me or deny me."
Around the north end Dick passed, just as the brilliant music
of the Military Academy orchestra was drawing to its close. In
his misery the young cadet leaned against the face of the building,
behind an angle in the wall.
As he stood there Dick saw the figure of a man flit, by him. The
stranger was dressed in citizen's clothes. There was nothing
suspicions in that, since there is no law to prevent citizens
from visiting the Military Academy. But there was something stealthy
about this stranger's movements.
"It is a wonder he didn't see me," mused Dick. "He went by within
eight feet of me."
Dick was about to make his presence known by stepping out into sight,
when the stranger halted.
"Perhaps it may be as well not to show myself just yet," flashed
through Prescott's mind. "If the fellow is up to any mischief
probably I can prevent it."
A cold, biting breeze swept up from the Hudson River below. It
was chilling in the extreme, here at the top of the bluff, but
Dick, in his misery, had been proof against weather.
Not so with the stranger. He stamped his feet and struck his
hands against his sides. Then, after some moments, as though
angry at some one within Cullum Hall, the stranger wheeled and
shook one clenched fist at the windows overhead.
"Whom has that fellow a grouch against?" Dick wondered in spite
Just an instant later he heard a quick step coming around the north
end of the building.
A cadet was coming, beyond a doubt, and very likely to meet this
impatient or angry stranger.
Prescott had too much honor to play the eavesdropper. He was
just about to step out when the newcomer turned the corner, coming
on straight past where Prescott stood in the deep shadow.
The newcomer was a cadet, and that cadet was Mr. Jordan.
"Well, my good fellow, have I kept you waiting long?" demanded
Jordan, just the second after he had stepped past Dick without
seeing the latter.
"You could a jumped faster," growled the stranger. "With all
I know against you, Jordan, it will pay you to nurse my good feeling
a little harder."
"Why, what's the matter with you now?" demanded Jordan more seriously.
Somehow, Dick could not pull himself away just then.
"Have you brought me some of that money you owe me?" demanded the
"Now, you know I can't, before graduation day," pleaded Jordan
"And I know that, when graduation day comes, you'll tell me that
every dollar you had in the world had to go into uniforms," snapped
the stranger. "I'll tell you what I do know about you, Jordan,
my boy. I know that if you don't find the money, turn it over
and get back my note, you'll never graduate! Cadets can't borrow
money on their notes; it's against the regulations. If it was
known that you had borrowed five hundred dollars of me already,
and that you were defaulting on principal and interest, too-----"
"It wasn't five hundred," broke in Jordan nervously. "It was
just two hundred and fifty dollars."
"The note says five hundred," retorted the stranger tersely, with
a shrug of his shoulders. And there's interest on it, too. And
you haven't paid a dollar. You told me you could get the money
"I---I thought I could, at that," stammered Cadet Jordan. "But
I wrote my father, and he said he was near bankruptcy-----"
"Near bankruptcy?" almost screamed the stranger. "You young swindler.
You told me your father was a wealthy man!"
"Sh!" begged Jordan tremulously. "Not so loud! Some one will
"I don't care who hears me," retorted the stranger in an ugly
tone. "You've been swindling me right along, it seems. Now,
you'll hand me some money to-night, and all of the balance by
next Wednesday, or I'll go straight to the superintendent. Then
you'll lose your nice little berth here. You putting on airs,
and yet you told me how you had rebuked and paid back another
cadet for doing the same breezy thing."
Dick, his cheeks burning with the shame of having allowed himself
to listen to so much, was on the very point of slipping away around
the north end of Cullum Hall. But this last remark gripped him,
holding him feverishly to the spot.
"Prescott, I believe you said the fellow's name was," went on
"Yes," admitted Jordan. "And I put it all over him in a way that
should make anyone else afraid of having me for an enemy!"
Dick's heart gave a great, almost strangling bound. Then it was
quiet again, and his ears seemed preternaturally keen.
So sharp was his hearing, in fact, that he heard a sound that
did not reach the ears of the other cadet or the latter's companion.
It was someone else coming. With all the stealth in the world
Dick now managed to slip around the end of the building and toward
A cadet had stepped out as though seeking a breath of cool air
between dances. Dick darted forward on tiptoe until he recognized
the oncoming one. It was Douglass, president of the first class.
"Mr. Douglass!" whispered Dick, stopping squarely before his successor
in class honors.
Douglass, without looking at his appealing fellow classman, or opening
his lips to answer, stepped around Prescott.
But Dick caught his unwilling comrade firmly by the arm.
"Douglass," he whispered, "in the name of justice, listen to me
just an instant---a swift instant, too! I think the chance has
come to clear me of the load of dislike and contempt with which
I am regarded here. This appeal is between man and man! Jordan
is around the corner, telling a stranger how he trapped me and
got me into disgrace with the class. As a matter of cadet justice