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The Boys of Bellwood School by Frank V. Webster

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"You've made a fine beginning in the new life, Bob; you can't deny that,"
said Frank. "Come, get on your duds and let's travel."

Half an hour later, within the classic precincts of the big hall of
learning on the hill, Frank Jordan and Robert Upton were duly registered as
students of Bellwood School.



"Frank, we are marked men!" declared Bob Upton tragically.

"Ha!" retorted Frank with a laugh. "The deadly enemy approaches!"

"No nonsense!" declared Bob, quite earnestly now. "We're in for a course of
sprouts; it's to come off this very night, and the savage horde which is to
begin the hazing operations is that gang of ten who occupy the big
dormitory room next to us."

"How did you find all this out, Bob?"

"I overheard them plotting."

"I see."

"I'm going to spike their guns and turn the laugh on them."


"That's telling. You'd object, so I'm going to keep my own counsel. There
are four degrees of initiation. If a fellow consents to all the tests with
a good-natured grin he passes muster. If he doesn't, he's tabooed."

"Well, then, let's stand muster cheerfully."

"Not I," retorted Bob grimly. "We'll turn the tables; then they'll think
all the more of us. Ever hear of the Chevaliers of the Bath? Or the Knights
of the Garter?"

"They are new to me--some school rigmarole, I suppose."

"Yes. Then there's Scouts of the Gauntlet."

"Worse and worse."

"And finally the Guides of Mystery."


"To be a free and accepted Chevalier of the Bath a fellow has to be a
water-proof rat. To be a Knight of the Garter he must consent to wake up at
midnight to find a rope tackle around one ankle, and be dragged out of bed
and down the hall."

"Well, we'll have to take our medicine, I suppose," said Frank lightly.

"To be a Scout of the Gauntlet," went on Bob, "is to be sent in the dark
down the stairs on a fool errand, and come back to face a pillow shower. A
genuine Guide of Mystery must have the grit to be left blindfolded in the
village graveyard at midnight, barefooted, and with a skeleton stolen from
the museum hitched to one arm."

"That's the program, is it, Bob?"

"Exactly," assented Frank's new chum. "The show begins to-night, as I say.
Stick close to me and you won't lose any rest."

Frank looked blandly and admiringly at his comrade, and was rather proud of

There had never come so marked and agreeable a change over a boy as that
manifested in the instance of Bob Upton within three days.

There was still under the surface with Bob, when he met strangers, a
certain suspicious element that had been engrafted in him. The least hint
that any one was guying him or imposing upon him would bring the old look
back to his face, but Frank watched him closely, and coming to Bellwood
School had indeed been the beginning of a new life for Bob.

An incident had occurred the morning after their arrival that, outside of
Frank's friendly effort in behalf of Bob, had been the means of lifting the
farmer boy to a new level.

The fellows at Bellwood School were of the average class in such
institutions, a mixture of jolly and gruff, good and bad. Like attracts
like, and the very first morning stroll on the campus Frank found himself
attracted to some boys who took him into their ranks as naturally as if he
had come recommended to them by special testimonials. Of course Bob went
where Frank went, and loyally followed his leader.

Frank soon found out that there were two cliques in the so-called
"freshman" crowd. A boy named Dean Ritchie lead the coterie that had
accepted Frank and Bob as new recruits. Frank liked him from the first. He
was a keen-witted, sharp-tongued fellow, out for fun most of the time and
never still for a minute.

At any time the appearance of a lad named Nat Banbury or any of his cohorts
was a signal for repartee, challenges, sometimes a sortie. Advances were
made by Banbury toward the enlistment of the two new recruits in his ranks,
but Frank had already made his choice.

"Oh, come on, he isn't worth wasting breath on," spoke up a big, uncouth
fellow named Porter, when Frank had politely announced to Banbury that Dean
Ritchie was a friend of some old friends of his at Tipton. "Ta, ta, Bob-
up!" rallied Porter maliciously to Frank's chum. "Keep close to brother!"

Bob flushed and his eyes sparkled. His fists clenched.

"Easy, Bob," warned Frank in an undertone.

"Say, Banbury Cross," observed Bob, "there was a fellow of your name chased
out of our county for sheep stealing, and another kept the dog pound. You
snarl just exactly like some of the curs he keeps there."

"Banbury, cranberry, bow, wow, wow!" derided Ritchie. "Good for you, Upton
--you hit the nail on the head that time."

"Upton--Robert Upton!" bellowed the old janitor, Scroggins, appearing on
the campus just then.

"That's me," acknowledged Bob.

"President Elliott wishes to see you in the library," said Scroggins.

"Aha!" snorted Banbury. "Called down already! Look out, Bob-up, you're in
for a quake in the shoes."

"No; the president is going to consult him on how to raise squashes,"
sneered a crony of Banbury.

"Say, Frank," whispered Bob, quite in a quake, "I'm going to get it for
something. What can it be?"

"Don't worry," replied Frank. "Face the music. I fancy you won't be hit
very hard."

Bob went away with the old, worried look on his face. He came back radiant,
and seemed to walk on air, and he never even heard the jeers of the Banbury
crowd as he passed them. He made a beckoning motion to Frank, and the two
strolled away together.

"Frank," said Bob, choking up, "I believe I'm some good in the world, after

"I told you so, didn't I?"

"I'm glad you made me come here," went on Bob. "Oh, so awfully glad! I
declare----" and there Bob broke down and turned his face away for a moment
or two.

"Say, Frank," he continued, "so is the president glad I came, too. He told
me so. What do you think? The two children in that runaway belong to his

"Well! well!" commented Frank.

"I almost sunk through the floor when the good old man, with tears in his
eyes, thanked me for saving them, as he called it. He said he was proud of
me, and that he predicted that the academy would be proud of me, too. I
tell you, Frank, it stirred me up. Strike me blue, if I don't try to behave

"Good for you, Bob!"

"Strike me scarlet red and sky blue, if I don't try to deserve his kind

Nothing seemed to ruffle Bob after that. He simply laughed at the snubs and
jeers of the Banbury crowd. He seemed to lose his old-time unsociability,
and went right in with the jolly crowd that composed the stanch following
of Dean Ritchie.

It was just after the nine o'clock bell had rung that evening when Bob so
mysteriously disclosed his suspicions of the initiation plots of the
occupants of the adjoining room.

"They're all Banbury's crowd," he explained to Frank. "Get into bed and
take in the fun. They're waiting for us to quiet down. Don't speak above a
whisper. Just stay awake long enough to see the program out."

Bob turned out the light and both snuggled down on the pillows luxuriously
after a strenuous day of sport and study.

"Act first," whispered Bob. "Soon as the Banbury crowd think we're fast
asleep, you'll hear them come stealthily out into the corridor. They've
fixed the transom over our door so it will swing open without a jar. One
fellow will stand on a chair. The others will hand him up the nozzle of a
hose running to the faucet in their room."

"And we'll be Knights of the Bath--I see," observed Frank.

"Yes, without having to take any of the medicine. Hist--they're coming."

Frank could readily guess what the enemy had in view--the old school trick
of dousing them in their sleep. He relied on the mysterious promises of his
chum, and lay still and listened intently.

There was a vast whispering in the next room, a rustling about, and then
more than one person could be heard just outside in the corridor.

A stool seemed to be placed near to the door. The slightest creaking in the
world told that the transom had been pushed ajar.

"Hand up the hose," whispered a cautious voice.

"Here you are."

There was a fumbling sound at the transom. Then came the impatient words:

"It don't work."

"Turn on the screw."

"I have. The water can't be on."

"Yes, it is. I turned it."

"I tell you it won't work," was whispered from the stool. "Go back to the
room and turn on the faucet, I tell you."

Hurried footsteps retreated from the door. Some one could be heard entering
the next room. Then some one rushed out of it again.

"Say," spoke an excited voice, "we're flooded! The hose has burst, and we
are deluged, and----"

"Boys, a light--the monitor's coming," interrupted a warning voice.

"Cut for it! Something's wrong! We're caught!"

There was heedless rush now from the next room. Frank could hear the hose
dragged along the corridor. The door of the adjoining room was hurriedly

"Off with your clothes--hustle into bed," ordered some one in that

Shoes were kicked off, beds creaked, and then came odd cries.



Tap--tap--tap! came a knock at the door.

"What's going on here?" asked the sharp, stern voice of the dormitory


"Oh, my back!"

"I'm scratched to pieces!" So ran the cries, and half a dozen persons
seemed to bound from beds to the floor.

Bob Upton was shaking with suppressed laughter, stuffing the end of the
pillow into his mouth to keep from yelling outright.

"Bob," whispered Frank, "what have you been up to?"

"Drove a plug into their hose ten feet from the faucet, slit the rubber
full of holes--and filled the beds with cockle burrs," replied Bob, and,
quaking with inward mirth, he rolled out on the floor.

"Gentlemen of Dormitory 4, report at the office in the morning with an
explanation," droned the severe tones of the monitor out in the corridor.



"Bob, this is worse than the Banbury crowd could devise," remarked Frank.

"Yes. The only thing is that in this case it's friends who are responsible
for it. Ugh! I'm sunk to the knees in water."

"I'm in to the waist," said Frank. "They've gone--the vandals! Off with the
blindfolds. Well, this is a pretty fix!"

Two minutes previous a sepulchral voice had spoken the awful words:

"Slide them into the endless pit!"

Then, with a gay college song, the mob that had led Frank and Bob on a
hazing trip, that had been positively hair-raising in its incidents, had
seemed to retire from the spot. Their laughter and songs now faded far away
in the distance.

"Well," uttered Bob, getting his eyes clear and his arms free, "we've had
an experience."

"I should say so," echoed Frank. "That old ice chute they dropped us into
must have been a hundred feet long."

"The hogshead they rolled us downhill in went double that distance,"
declared Bob.

"Well, let's get out of this," advised Frank.

That was more easily said than done. Comparative strangers as yet to the
country surrounding Bellwood, even when they had got on solid ground out of
the muck and mire of the boggy waste, they knew not which way to turn.

It was dark as Erebus and the wind was blowing a gale. Nowhere on the
landscape could they discover a guiding light. They were in a scrubby little
patch of woods, and they were confused even as to the points of the

"I think this is the direction of the academy," said Frank, striking out on
a venture.

"Yes; and we want to get there soon, too," replied Bob, "for we're going to
have a great storm in a few minutes."

As Bob spoke the big drops began to splash down. As the lads emerged upon a
flat field, the drops seemed to form into streams, and they breasted the
tempest breathless, blown about, and drenched to the skin.

"We've got to get shelter somewhere," declared Bob. "Let's put back for the

"I think I see some kind of a building ahead," observed Frank. "Yes, it's a
hut or a barn. Hustle, now, and we'll find cover till the worst of this is

In a few minutes they came to an old cabin standing near some dead trees.
It was small and square and had one door and one window. Bob banged at the
door with a billet of wood he found, but could not budge it. The windows
had stout bars crisscrossing it.

"Give it up," he said at last. "No one living here, and padlocked as if it
was a bank. Hey, Frank, here's a chance."

In veering to the partial shelter of the lee side of the old structure, Bob
had noticed a sashless aperture answering for a window in the low attic of
the cabin. He got a hold with fingers and toes in the chinks between the
logs, and steadily climbed up.

"Come on," he called. "It's high and dry under the roof," and his companion
joined him, both half reclining across a loose board floor.

"Hear that," said Bob, as the rain seemed to strike the roof in bucket-like
volume. "I hope the crowd who got us in this fix are ten miles from any

The rain kept on without the slightest cessation. In fact, it seemed to
increase every minute in volume. Fully half an hour passed by. Neither lad
thought of leaving shelter, and Bob had stretched himself out. The
conversation languished. Then Frank, catching himself nodding, sat up and
looked out of the window, noticing that his rugged, healthy comrade was
breathing heavily in profound slumber.

"There's a light coming this way," spoke Frank to himself, as he peered
from the window. "If it's a wagon, I'll hustle down and see if there's any
chance of a lift in the direction of the school. Hello, it's two men!
Hello again--they're coming right here to this hut. There, I can hear them
at the front door."

Frank was convinced a minute later that the newcomers lived in the cabin,
or at least had secured the right to occupy the place. He could hear them
at the padlock, and then their lantern illumined the room below. Gazing
through a crack in the floor, Frank could make out all they did and was
able to overhear their conversation.

They were two rough-looking, trampish fellows. Each threw a bundle on the
floor. The room had some old boxes in it and a pile of hay in one corner.
The men seated themselves on boxes and let the water drip from their soaked

"That was a pretty husky tramp," spoke one of them.

"I see the governor isn't here yet."

"No; so it's up to us to get as comfortable as we can."

They threw off their coats, and one of them undid a bundle. He took from it
some bread, cheese, and a big black bottle, and the twain were soon
enjoying themselves. When they had finished eating they lay down in the
straw, smoking short, stubby pipes and chatting with one another.

"Now, then, look a-here, Jem," one of them remarked, "you wouldn't see me
tramping around in this kind of weather if it wasn't that there was a
chanct to get something out of it."

"Don't I tell you what's at the end of it, Dan?" retorted the other. "Don't
I say as how the governor pays the expenses right royal while we're here?
And then don't you know as how he's agreed to turn over the other half of
that card, when we helps him get his plans through about this young kid up
at the academy?"

"Say, that was a funny thing about that card," observed the man called Dan.

"No, 'twasn't," dissented Jem. "We got our hands on a fine piece of goods.
We had to hide it till there was no danger of its being looked for. The gov
and me therefore goes to a friend and we puts it in his strong safe. He is
told that we has a card torn up with writing on it, atween us. The
arrangement is made that he doesn't let go the property till we both
presents them there pieces of card together. So you see, the gov can't get
the property and run off with it. No more can I. Now, then, the gov says I
can have the property entire if we help him on his present business here."

"Say," spoke up the interested Dan, "is the property pretty fine?"

"I'd call it good for a thousand dollars."

"Where did you fellows get it, Jem?"

"At a town called Tipton."

"Ah!" aspirated the listening Frank in a great gasp.

"And what was it, Jem?"

"A bracelet--a diamond bracelet," replied the man Jem.

Frank held his breath. He was greatly excited and startled. It seemed a
strange thing to him that here, in a lonely loft hundreds of miles from
home, by pure accident he should run across a clue to the person who had
stolen Samuel Mace's diamond bracelet, the mysterious theft of which had so
darkened our hero's young life.



Frank gulped down his astonishment. Then he sat still without a rustle. He
was afraid that Bob might snore, wake up talking, and had an idea to creep
closer to his chum, wake him up softly, and warn him to remain perfectly

Before Frank could act, however, there came a sudden interruption to the
conversation between the men below, Jem and Dan. There was a thundering
knock at the door.

"It's the gov at last!" shouted Jem, jumping to his feet.

"No one else!" echoed Dan.

Jem opened the door and a man staggered in. His slouch hat, dripping wet,
was pulled down over his face. He was completely enveloped in a great rain
blanket. The hole in its center fitted about his neck and covered him
nearly to the feet, even to his arms. These held something under the cloak,
for its bulging surface showed that he was carrying something.

"Help me out of this," growled the newcomer. "Good I borrowed this blanket
in a convenient barn, or everything would have been soaked."

"Borrowed!" guffawed Jem.

"Haw! haw!" roared Dan, as if it was a great joke. "There you are, mate."

If Frank had been surprised and startled at the secret concerning Samuel
Mace's missing diamond bracelet, he was dumfounded at the face of the

"Why," he breathed in wonderment, "it's the man I drove off from bothering
that traveling scissors grinding boy at Tipton, Ned Foreman. Yes, this is
the man the boy called Tim Brady, and--whew!"

Frank's thoughts seemed to come as swift as lightning. He had marveled at
the strange series of events that had given him a clue as to the persons
who had stolen the diamond bracelet that had got him into so much trouble.
Now that the tramp, Brady, had appeared on the scene, Frank saw how it all
could have happened, for Brady was in Tipton the day the diamond bracelet
was stolen.

The only thing that mystified Frank was why these people should be at
Bellwood, so far away from Tipton. There was scarcely a chance in a
thousand that they could have come accidentally.

When the two men had pulled the blanket from Brady, he disclosed two
packages in his hand, one resembling a hat box. He placed them on the

"Got the togs there?" inquired Jem.

"Yes," nodded Brady. "I'm famished; give me something to eat."

Frank did not stir. He felt that it was important that he should remain
where he was. These men knew about Samuel Mace's missing bracelet. That was
one point of interest. They were up to something now; that was another.

Frank listened to every word they said, but they did not just then again
refer to the bracelet nor discuss their plans. They talked generally of how
easy the farmers they had met gave away meals. They discussed various
stores and houses that might be robbed readily. Frank realized that they
were very bad men.

Finally, having finished his meal, Brady got up from the box he had been
seated on. He went over to the bundles he had brought, undoing one of them.
He took out a long black dress coat. This he tried on. It buttoned up to
his neck closely, like some clerical garb.

He opened the other box and took out a silk hat. As he put this on his head
he straightened up and drew his face down in mock seriousness.

"My friends," he sniffled, "you see in me a penitent and reformed man."

"Hold me!" yelled Jem, rolling around on the straw in a paroxysm of

"Will it do?" smirked Brady. "Ter-rewly, my friends, I seek only now to
make amends for my wicked, misspent life--a--ah!"

"Wow! Oh, you actor! It's enough to make a cow laugh!"

"Will it work?"

"Work!" chuckled the man Jem. "Why, you'd win over the president of the
college himself."


"What was that?" demanded Brady sharply.

Frank was in dismay. In his sleep Bob Upton had groaned, then moved.
Probably, in some nightmare, dreaming he was back among his old tyrant
masters on the farm, he had kicked out his foot, landing heavily on the
floor of the loft.

"Oh, I guess it was the wind rattling some loose timber about the old ruin
of a place," observed Jem.

Frank crept cautiously to the side of his sleeping comrade.

Bob was muttering restlessly in his sleep, and Frank feared another
outbreak. He placed his hand over Bob's mouth.

"Wake up--quietly, now--there is somebody below," he whispered.

"What's the row?" droned Bob.

"S--st! Follow me. Get out of this. It's stopped raining."

Frank managed to get himself and his friend out of the place without
disturbing the three men in the hut or apprising them of their presence.
The rain had nearly stopped. Bob rubbed his eyes sleepily.

"Some tramps came into the cabin yonder after you went to sleep," explained
Frank. "They are hard characters, and it is best to steer clear of them."

It took the two boys an hour to find their way to Bellwood School. Bob was
tired out and sleepy, and Frank was by no means in a mood for chatting. He
was absorbed in thinking out his strange discoveries of the night.

"I've got a clue to that diamond bracelet of Mace's," he reflected. "Mace
don't deserve any favors from me after the outrageous way he's acted, but
if I can do anything toward getting it back for him, all right. I wonder,
though, what it means--that man, Brady, being here, and what trick he is up
to with the high hat and the dress coat? His friend spoke of the president
of the college and some 'kid.' Are they up to some thieving trick? If so, I
want to be alert to balk them."

When the two boys reached the academy, they had some difficulty in locating
a loose window, and they had to use caution in getting to their room. The
bed felt so good after the rough experiences of the night that Frank soon
joined his snoring companion in the land of dreams, leaving action as to
the crowd at the cabin for the morrow.

They met their friendly persecutors of the evening before good-naturedly at
breakfast. It was easy for Frank to see that Ritchie and his associates
were ready to accept them as gritty comrades who could take a joke as a
matter of course.

"You've paid your initiation fee in pluck and endurance, Jordan," said Mark
Prescott, the able lieutenant of Dean Ritchie in his rounds of mischief.
"You and Upton can consider yourselves full-fledged members of the Twilight

"Good!" laughed Frank as he started for the campus. Before he was out of
the building, however, Frank got thinking of his adventures of the evening
before. And instead of immediately joining his fellows he strolled around
to the side of the academy.

There was a walk, not much used by the students, leading past the kitchen
and laundry quarters of the school. As Frank got nearly to the end of this
a baseball whizzed by him and he saw Banbury and a crony named Durkin
making for it.

Just at that moment, too, Frank noticed a boy wearing a long apron sitting
on a stone step just outside the kitchen door.

He was peeling potatoes, and he was peeling them right, fully engrossed in
his labors, as though it were some artistic and agreeable occupation.

"Well! well! well!" irresistibly ejaculated Frank. "If it isn't Ned



"Shake!" cried Frank, rushing forward and extending a warm hand.

The boy peeling potatoes looked up in some surprise. For a minute he was
puzzled. Then his face broke into a genial smile.

"It's the fellow I met at Tipton----" he began.

"That's who--Frank Jordan."

"Who saved me from getting robbed."

"Put it that way, if you like," answered Frank. "How did you ever come

"Walked, coaxed freight hands, and got some passenger lifts," explained
Ned. "You know I told you I was going out of the scissors grinding and into

"I know you did."

"Well, I've landed. I've saved up twenty dollars. That don't go far in
tuition, so I'm working my way through school."

"Good for you," cheered Frank. "You're the kind that makes a mark in the
world. Say, come up to my room. I want to have a real chummy chat with

"I couldn't do that just now," demurred Ned. "You see, I help in the
kitchen here from six to eight in the morning, eleven to one at noon and
five to seven in the evening."

"I haven't seen you in any of the classes."

"No; one of the professors is coaching me. You see, I need training to get
into even the lowest class. As I said, I can't leave my work here now, but
I may meet you occasionally after dark."

"Come at four this afternoon."

"Think I'd better?" inquired Ned dubiously.

"Why not?"

"Well, to be candid," answered Ned manfully, "my clothes aren't very good,
as you see, and some of the fellows here have pretty well snubbed me, and
maybe it would be wiser for me to keep my place."

"Your place?" fired up Frank. "Except among the stuck-up cads, your place
is to be welcome to all the privileges of any well-behaved student, and
I'll see to it that you get them, too."

"Hi, Jordan; on the domestic list?" broke in Banbury just then. He had
regained the baseball and with his companion stood staring at Frank and

"Hum! I should say so," sniggered Durkin with a chuckle. "Pah! How it
smells of onions and dishwater!"

"Take your friend and introduce him to Ritchie," sneered Banbury. "He needs
a new catcher for his measly team that we're going to wallop to-morrow."

"Say," spoke Frank steadily, though with a flashing eye, "I'll bet you that
my friend here--understand, my friend, Ned Foreman--would prove as good a
catcher as he has to my knowledge run a business where he was trusted and
did his duty well. I'll make another bet--you'll be the second-rate scholar
you are now two years further on, when my friend is the boss of some
surveying camp, where the smartest fellow is the one who has learned the
cooking and science both--not a smattering--but from the ground up."

"Yah!" yawped Banbury, but he saw something in Frank's eye that warned him
to sheer off promptly.

"You'll run up against a few cads like that fellow," explained Frank to
Ned. "Use 'em up in one chapter, and stick to the real friends I'll
introduce you to."

"Jordan, you're a true-blue brick," declared Ned heartily, "but I know from
experience how these things go----"

"There's the rally whistle for our crowd, so I've got to go," interrupted
Frank; "but four o'clock at my room. You come, or I'll come and fetch you."

Frank bolted off for the campus. As he neared his group of friends he
observed the Banbury crowd, just rejoined by their leader and Durkin.
Banbury was pointing at Frank and saying something, derisively hailed by
his companions. Then Frank saw his stanch champion, Bob Upton, spring
forward with clenched fists. Frank hurried his steps, guessing out the
situation, and anxious to rescue his impetuous friend from an outbreak.

"Hi, chef!" howled out Durkin, as Frank approached, and Frank knew that the
mean-spirited cads had been spreading the story of his meeting with Ned

"What have you got to say about it, huh? Who are you?" Frank heard Bob cry
out angrily, as he came nearer to the crowd.

Frank could not repress a start as he observed the boy whom Bob was facing.
He was a newcomer--he was Gill Mace. It appeared that the nephew of the
Tipton jeweler had been sent to the same school as Frank.

Gill Mace looked as mean as ever. There was a sneer on his face. He was
loudly dressed, or rather overdressed. His uncle had probably provided him
with plenty of spending money, for he was jingling some coins in his
pocket. His money and his natural cheek had evidently made him "solid" with
Banbury and the others, for they seemed to be upholding his braggart

"Don't get hot, sonny," advised Gill. "I said that Jordan needed to make
friends, for he never had any where he came from," and then, staring meanly
at Frank, he whispered something to Banbury.

"Hello!" broke out the latter. "That so? Jordan, how's the diamond market
this morning?"

Frank started as if he had been struck by a whiplash. A bright red spot
showed on either cheek. His eyes flashed, his finger nails dug into the
palms of his hands.

He advanced straight up to where Gill Mace stood, brushing aside heedlessly
all who were in his way. The jeweler's nephew tried to hide behind his
cohorts in a craven way, but Frank fixed him with his eye.

"Gill Mace," he spoke in a firm, stern tone, "you have been telling that
bully friend of yours some more of the falsehoods you peddled out at

"I told him how you stood in that old burg," admitted Gill.

"What do you mean?"

"I said that you robbed my uncle's jewelry shop."

"Then you uttered a low, malicious falsehood," retorted Frank. "Fellows,"
he cried, turning to his adherents, "I ducked this sneak in a mud puddle
for lying about me once. I want to now make the announcement in public that
if within twenty-four hours he does not retract his words I shall whip him
till he can't stand, leave the academy, and never come back till I have the
proofs to vindicate myself, which I can do."

Mace turned white about the corners of his mouth.

"Everybody in Tipton knows that Frank Jordan stole a diamond bracelet from
my uncle," he stammered.

"It's false!" shouted out Bob Upton, squarely springing before Gill, who
retreated in dismay, "and you are more than a thief, for you're trying to
rob an honest boy of his good name. Take that!"

And Bob Upton knocked Gill Mace down--flat.



Gill Mace went down with a shock of surprise and a yell of fright. He
blubbered as his teeth went together like a pair of castanets.

Banbury stepped forward in his usual braggart way. Bob did not wait for him
to advance. He flew right up to him.

"You want some?" he shouted. "Come on, the whole bunch of you, one at a

Just then, however, Dean Ritchie uttered a familiar warning, and there was
a general movement of commotion and dispersement among the group.

"Scatter, fellows," was what Ritchie said.

The Banbury contingent proceeded to sneak away. Some of Ritchie's crowd
surrounded Bob Upton and cleverly tried to manipulate him out of view.

Frank, turning, learned the motive for the maneuvers. Professor Elliott
stood not thirty feet away, his eyes fixed upon them. The seriousness of
his countenance told that he had witnessed the fight.

Bob brushed aside his friendly helpers. He walked straight up to Professor
Elliott, took off his cap respectfully and stood with his head bowed. Then
some words seemed to pass between them, and Mr. Elliott turned toward the
academy, Bob following him.

Frank was a good deal stirred up by the exciting events of the hour. He did
not feel much desire for companionship, and less for sport. He left his
friends and went up to his room.

He sat down on the bed somewhat gloomy and worried. Frank knew that the
malicious story told by Gill Mace would spread through the school like

Frank valued his fair name and the good opinion of the new friends he had
made. To be dubbed a thief meant harm, and there were some who would
believe the story. He recalled the impression such an accusation had made
on several people at his home town, and he grew quite downcast thinking it
all over.

"I won't mope," he cried resolutely, stirring about the room. "I am
innocent, so who can hurt me? I won't think of it."

Frank tried to whistle a careless air, but his efforts were somewhat
feeble. Then he went over to his trunk and looked over its contents. He got
to thinking of Ned Foreman, and took out a suit of clothes, some neckties
and a couple of shirts from the trunk, and had just placed them on a chair
when Bob entered the apartment.

"Well, what's the latest?" inquired Frank with a sharp quiz of his
impulsive friend's face.

"I'm all broken up, that's the latest," declared Bob, throwing himself into
a chair, his face a puzzling mixture of soberness and satisfaction. "Say,
Frank, I want to say one thing with all my heart--President Elliott is a
bang-up good old man. I've been ashamed, near crying, sorry, glad, mad, and
just about all knocked out in the last five minutes. Oh, that measly
Banbury mob! And oh, that miserable Gill Mace!"

"What's happened, Bob?"

"Why, I went to the library with the president, and told him manfully that
the Mace fellow had insulted the best friend I had, you, and that I
couldn't stand for it and just had to land him one."

"And the president?"

"He looked grave. Then he turned his head away. Then he sort of looked at
me as if he'd been a--a corker himself in the old boy days. He gave me a
mild lecture on controlling my temper. I told him he'd better have me tied
up or put Mace somewhere so I couldn't find him, or I was afraid I'd break
loose again."

"That was pretty strong, wasn't it, Bob?"

"I spoke my mind, and he knew it. Then he carried me right off my feet, and
I'd die for that bully old man any time. He just placed that gentle old
hand of his on my head and looked at me with his kind old eyes and said:
'Upton, we're going to be proud of you some day. I feel sure of that. My
little ones remember how bravely you risked your life to save them the
other day, and pray for you every night. Don't disappoint us, my boy. Young
Jordan is a good fellow, and I am sure he wouldn't encourage you to violate
our school discipline. Just simply forget the fellows who stir you up.
After a good many years' experience, I may say to you that in the long run
the bad ones sift out and the good ones come to the top. Make us proud of
you, Upton, and become proud of yourself by controlling your temper and
acting the gentleman.'"

"That was fine, and it's true," said Frank heartily. "Yes, Bob, we've got
to forget those fellows. You are a true-blue champion, but you've shown
your colors, so let it go at that."

"What, and have any of those fellows call you a thief?"

"Some day I shall prove my innocence," declared Frank firmly.

"You don't have to prove it--with your friends," flared up Bob. And just
then the chapel bell called them to the duties of the hour.

Frank did not pass a very happy day. He mingled of necessity with the
Banbury groups during the studies, but only for an occasional glowering
look from Gill Mace's discolored eye and some suppressed sneers from
Banbury, Durkin and others of their crowd, there was no allusion made to
the cause of the fight.

However, there were mysterious whisperings going on at times. Some boys
with whom Frank was not well acquainted shied off from him at noon time,
and Frank knew that the poison of Mace's insinuations was working among the
general school group.

Frank was in his room at four o'clock, and promptly at the hour Ned Foreman
put in an appearance. Frank set aside his troubles and greeted him in a
friendly manner. He locked the door and gave his visitor a comfortable

"Tell me about yourself, Ned," he said. "How you got here from Tipton, and
about your plans, and all that."

It was not much of a story, but its details showed again the homeless lad
was set and sensible in his resolve to gain an education.

"I like you, Ned," said Frank, "and you know it, and I wouldn't be acting
as a true friend if I didn't say just what was in my mind, would I, now?"

"You'll never say a thing to hurt a fellow's feelings, I'll risk that,"
returned Ned with a smile of confidence.

"I hope not. I've been thinking about you, and I'm interested in you. Say,
is that your best suit of clothes you're wearing?"

"Best and only," acknowledged Ned bluntly. "Why?"

"Well, I've got a suit that will just about fit you, and I want you to sort
of tog up when you have time to come out and join our crowd. Not that I
would ever be ashamed of you no matter what you wore, but we all have a
little pride."

"I'm not going to let you rob yourself to do a kindness for me," declared

"Rob myself?" repeated Frank with a laugh. "Say, let me tell you something,
and you'll see how you are helping me out. I've been living with an aunt at
Tipton who is a caution in some ways. She ordered a suit for me about six
months ago. Well, she's a great bargain hunter, and then, too, there was
some of the same cloth left, and taking two suits she could get a
reduction. Here's the one I was measured for first."

Frank opened the wardrobe and showed a light checked suit he did not often

"The other suit," he continued, "is this one," and he indicated the clothes
he had taken from his trunk that morning. "The tailor didn't have enough
cloth, and the suit is too short for me. My aunt packed it in my trunk,
thinking I could wear it out knocking around Saturdays, but it won't do at
all. It is nearly new, and you are a little smaller than I am, and I
believe it will fit you. There are a few spare neckties and such that go
with it, and there you are."

"Mine, eh?" said Ned with a smile, getting up and looking over the clothes.
"It will make me dreadfully proud and dressy, Frank. I never had such an
outfit before."

"You don't know the relief I have in getting rid of it," said Frank,
smiling. "It's settled, then--you'll lug it away with you."

"I'll carry it away as the finest present I could possibly get," responded
Ned warmly. "You don't know how I appreciate it."

There was no false pride or affectation about Ned Foreman, and Frank liked
him better than ever for his manly actions. He did up the bundle for Ned.
Then they had a general talk. An hour drifted by before they knew it.

"Saturday, remember," said Frank as they parted. "I want you to get in on
some of the games and know all the good fellows who train with Dean

Frank sat alone at the window after Ned left him, reflecting very

"I couldn't tell him," he murmured; "at least, not yet. How do I know that
I am right? Maybe I'm guessing it all out. Oh, dear, how I miss my father
to go to with all my troubles and perplexities. I'd have a talk with
President Elliott, only I don't want to bother him and make a lot of talk
about things that may naturally right themselves in time. Hello, there's

Frank got up to greet his friend, who swung down the corridor and into the
room, whistling.

"The very fellow!" exclaimed Frank. "I say, Bob, I want to ask your



"You want my advice?" asked Bob in some surprise.

"Just that, Bob," responded Frank Jordan.

"Huh--no one ever asked that before. I'm afraid I'm not much in that line,
but I'll do the best I can."

"All right. Sit down while I tell you a little story," directed Frank.

Bob had come into the room red and perspiring, as though he had just been
indulging in some very violent exercise. He soon settled down to steadiness
from sheer interest as Frank proceeded to talk.

Frank began at the beginning of quite a lengthy narrative. He recited the
episode of the diamond bracelet. He described his first meeting with Ned
Foreman. Then he brought his recital down to what he had seen and heard in
the lonely hut the night of the hazing and while Bob had been fast asleep.

"You're some story-teller, and that all sounds like a story-book romance,"
commented Bob, when Frank paused in his narrative.

"I only hope it will end in the good story-book way," observed Frank. "This
is all secret between you and me."

"Surely," assented Bob.

"I had to tell it to somebody, for it was worrying me dreadfully,"
confessed Frank. "You see, I'm in a dilemma."

"I do see that, Frank," nodded Bob seriously.

"I can't see it any other way, but this tramp and his friends, Jem and Dan,
among them stole that diamond bracelet."

"I think so, too," said Bob. "Anyhow, judging from their talk you overheard
they know where it is now."

"What had I better do? I am awful anxious to prove my innocence to the

"Why, I shouldn't hesitate a minute to have those three fellows arrested,"
exclaimed Bob.

"That wouldn't help the case any."

"Why wouldn't it?"

"They evidently haven't got the stolen bracelet with them."

"That's so, Frank."

"And I haven't the least proof in the world that they are the thieves. No,
I must get about it in a different way."

"But how?"

"You see, this man Brady knows me by sight. He doesn't know you. Do you
think you could locate the old cabin, Bob?"

"I don't think I could go direct to it," answered Bob, "but I am pretty
sure that by hunting for it and making some inquiries I could find it."

"All right; try it, Bob. If you succeed, sort of spy around and you may
pick up something that will give us an idea of what those men are about.
You see, the fact of Brady being here makes me anxious on another score."

"What is that?"

"They mentioned the academy here. I am afraid that Brady has some plan
concerning Ned Foreman."

"Say, Frank, it looks that way," declared Bob thoughtfully. "Why don't you
tell Ned about it?"

"I don't want to worry him until I find out something more."

"I'll get on the track of that old cabin and those men first chance I
have," promised Bob. "Say, Frank, I was coming to tell you I've just done a
big thing, Dean Ritchie says."

"What is it, Bob?"

"You know we are going to have a baseball game and some other matches to-

"Yes, I know," nodded Frank.

"Well, there's a foot race scheduled. The crack runner of our crowd,
Purtelle, is out of trim, and they were looking for a substitute. I don't
want to brag, but about the one thing in the athletic line I can do well is

"Then you must try to fill the bill."

"I'm going to. Ritchie asked me to give them a test. It's a long-distance
spurt--twice around the track over in the meadow where they train their
horses on the stock farm. I made the sample run just now. I don't know but
what the crowd were guying me, but they seemed to go wild over it."

"Oh, I guess they're in earnest, Bob."

"I hope so, for that big bully, Banbury, is to be my opponent, and I'd do
anything to take the conceit out of him and his crowd. Ritchie timed me,
and said I had discounted the best record ever made by an academy runner."

"That's grand," said Frank.

"They took me to the gymnasium and gave me this pair of shoes for the ones
I had on. They're going to grease up and soften my own shoes to make the
running easier, they say. I hope I don't disappoint them."

"You won't, I am sure," said Frank encouragingly.

The next day was Saturday. The weather was ideal, and the boys anticipated
a great deal of pleasure for the holiday.

Frank was pleased when his friend, Ned Foreman, showed up about ten
o'clock. Ned looked neat and handsome in the light checked suit Frank had
given him. He was modest and natural, and Ritchie and his crowd treated him

There was the first ball game of the series after lunch. Then the whole
school adjourned to the training track for the foot race.

Banbury, Mace and their chums were in great evidence. The ball game had
come out a tie, and even this barren honor swelled them up considerably.
Banbury was gotten up in a flashy sporting suit, as though he was in for
the championship of the world, and Mace was also overdressed. Bob wore his
every-day clothes. He looked eager and hopeful as Frank helped him put on
his running shoes.

The evening previous Bob's remarkable test run had been noised around the
school, and Frank somewhat wondered at the vaunting spirit shown by the
Banbury crowd.

The start of the race was made in good order. The opponents were off on the
second, and they looked in splendid trim as they kept evenly abreast up to
the first quarter post. There Bob forged ahead slightly, and there was a
cheer from his excited friends. Then he lagged, and Banbury got the lead,
and his cohorts gave out ringing huzzahs.

"What's wrong?" uttered Ned breathlessly, as Banbury, with a jump and
kicking up his heels derisively at the Ritchie group, shot by the starting
post on the second spurt with Bob fully ten yards to the rear.

"Bob is lamed," said Frank in consternation. "See, he's limping."

"Go it, Bob!" yelled the voices of a dozen loyal friends.

Bob looked haggard and unfit. One foot dragged, and he acted like a person
in acute pain. At the encouraging word, however, he braced up, made a
prodigious spurt, but at the end of fifty yards hobbled and fell flat.

A cry of dismay went up from the Ritchie crowd, while Banbury's adherents
made the air echo with delirious shouts of triumph.

Suddenly, however, Bob was on his feet again and off down the course like
an arrow.

"He's thrown off his shoes. What's up, I wonder?" spoke Ritchie.

"He's gaining!"

"He's up to him!"

"Past him--huzzah!"

The spectators held their breath. Never had the boys of Bellwood School
witnessed so sensational a foot race.

Bob Upton flew like the wind. He was five--ten--twenty yards in the lead of
his laboring antagonist.

His face was colorless as he crossed the starting line. A flash of triumph
was in his eyes, but Frank saw that he was reeling. Our hero sprang forward
just in time to catch the falling champion in his outstretched arms--the
winner of the race.



"He's in a dead faint--give him air," ordered Dean Ritchie.

"Get a dipper of water," said Frank quickly, letting Bob slip gently to the

There was a pump just beyond the enclosure. Ned ran to it, and soon Frank
was sponging Bob's face with cool water.

"Who did it--and why?" spoke Bob suddenly and opening his eyes and sitting

He drew up one foot with a wry face. As he did so Dean Ritchie gave a start
and a stare.

"Why," he cried, "your stocking is dripping with blood."

"The sole of my foot feels like a raw beef-steak," said Bob.

One of the boys had gone after the shoes that Bob had thrown off a distance
from the course.

"Ritchie," he said gravely, "feel there."

His leader took the shoe, ran his hand into it, and looked into it.

"Oh, shame! shame!" he exclaimed with a wrathy face. "Whoever did this
deserves to be tarred and feathered."

"What is it?" inquired Frank.

"An old trick among touts and welchers. Just feel, Jordan--some one got
into the gym last night and doctored these shoes."

"Doctored the shoes?" repeated Frank vaguely.

"Yes, they set in a light cushion sole, with a half dozen blade-pointed
brads under it that would break through after a little use. It's a wonder
that Upton's foot isn't ripped to pieces."

"It feels pretty near as if it was," said Bob, wincing. "Frank, I guess I'm
crippled for a few days. You'll have to help me get to our room."

There were dark frowns of indignation and suspicion among the group. The
Banbury crowd were making off with glum faces and uneasy haste.

"Stop!" sharply shouted Ritchie after them. "I accuse nobody, but I want to
say right here and now, and I want everybody to hear me, that I'm going to
ferret out the low sneak who put those brads in Bob Upton's shoes. When I
do, he leaves this school or I do, and one of us will have reason to
remember the drubbing of his life."

"They're a fine set, aren't they?" spoke Purtelle. "Fellows, I think this
circumstance should be reported to the faculty."

"No," dissented Bob Upton decidedly. "The rascals will reach the end of
their tether some time, and we can't prove who worked this mean trick."

They got Bob to his room. Ned did not go there with the crowd, but he
appeared a little later with a box of salve and some strips of cloth. He
fixed up Bob's injured foot so skilfully that Ritchie complimented him as
an expert surgeon.

Frank stayed with his friend, reading to him for a time. All the others had
gone away. Finally Bob fell asleep, and Frank strolled out on the grounds.
As he again entered the building bound for his room, he ran directly
against Ned as he turned down a corridor near the reception-room.

"Why, Ned," he exclaimed, "what are you doing here?"

Ned Foreman was almost crouching in a dark corner. He was trembling, and
his lips were white, and there was a marked terror in his eyes. Frank was
profoundly startled, almost shocked at the strange appearance of his

"That man is in there!" gasped Ned.

"In where?"

"The reception-room."

"What man do you mean?"

"Tim Brady."

"Oh!" uttered Frank, and a whole lot of light seemed to flood his mind in
an instant. "How do you know that?"

"President Elliott send word to me that a visitor wished to see me in the
reception-room. I just came down and looked in. That terrible man who calls
me his relative is in there talking to the president."

"What is he after?" asked Frank.

"Can't you see?" spoke Ned in a tone of great agitation and excitement. "He
has followed me clear here. He is going to drive me away from here, just as
he has driven me away from other places. I can't meet him--the cold chills
run all over me whenever my eyes light on him," and Ned shuddered.

"See here, Ned Foreman," said Frank, "you go right into that room. Brace
straight up to that miserable wretch, and defy him. Don't be a bit scared
at anything he may say to you. I'll do the rest."

"How--how can you?" stammered the terrified boy.

"Leave that to me. I know a lot I'll tell you afterward. Go ahead, now, and
don't you show one particle of fear. Leave the door ajar a little, just as
it is. I'm no eavesdropper, but on the present occasion I'm mightily
interested in seeing and hearing all that's going on."

There was something unaccountable about Ned Foreman's dread of his
professed relative. He passed into the reception-room, but he was trembling
all over and his face was pale and frightened.

President Elliott sat near a table, and the tramp whom Frank knew as Tim
Brady was standing up in front of him.

He did not look much like the fellow Frank had rescued Ned from at Tipton.

In his hand he carried a high silk hat. He was clean shaven, and his hair
was combed and plastered down over his bullet head. His clerical-looking
frock coat was buttoned up to the chin. His face was drawn in a
hypocritical expression of great concern.

"Ah, my boy! my boy!" he exclaimed, jumping about and rushing at Ned,
extending both hands as if about to greet some beloved friend.

Ned Foreman shrank from his obnoxious relative in horror.



Frank, peering in at the doorway of the school reception-room, saw that
President Elliott looked both grave and concerned. Judging from the
expression of his face, Frank decided that the academy head was not very
favorably impressed with either the words or the appearance of the visitor.

"You see, kind sir," said the repulsed Brady, turning to him and snuffling
as if at the point of tears, "my own kin disowns me. Oh, sir, it is hard,
hard, to have it happen so!"

Ned did not say a word. He simply kept at a safe distance.

"If I may ask," spoke Mr. Elliott, "what do you expect of this boy?"

"Forgiveness," whined the tramp. "Yes, sir, that is the word. I have
wronged him cruelly. I admit it, to my shame. I was a worthless, shiftless
man, and I abused him and drove him from my heart. Now I have reformed, and
I seek to make atonement. He is my last living relative. To whom shall I go
for sympathy, to whom shall I cling but my dead wife's brother?"

"Stepbrother," corrected Ned almost sharply. "You are no relative of mine."

"Boy, don't taunt me, don't make my sufferings more than they are," and
Brady heaved a prodigious sigh. "I have given up drinking. It's this way:
An old-time friend of mine, who has made eighteen million dollars in a
diamond mine in Canada----"

"How's that? How's that?" challenged the learned old professor keenly.
"According to the last authoritative geological data available, Canada----"

"I mean Brazil; yes, that's it, Brazil--anyhow, somewhere over in Africa."

"H'm!" sniffed the old professor suspiciously.

"He found me in rags. I told him my story. He offered to set me on my feet
again if I would sign the pledge. I signed it. Then he bought me a home,
and put enough money in the bank to start me in some nice little business,
and some other money. I got thinking of this poor, homeless lad. It almost
broke my heart. I have spent several hundred dollars having detectives
trace him down."

"Jem and Dan," Frank told himself, and almost laughed outright.

"At last I find him," proceeded Brady. "I wish to provide for him; I wish
to educate and make a man of him."

"Very well," nodded Mr. Elliott. "He is here at a good school. Let him
remain. I shall be pleased to have him now on a basis where he can study
and learn all of his time, instead of having to work his way, for he is a
bright, promising scholar."

"Exactly, exactly," assented Brady eagerly; "only, you see, sir, I want to
prove that I mean well by him."

"Prove it, then, by paying his tuition for a year, and leave him in
competent hands," suggested the practical, sensible educator.

"Willingly," declared Brady. "I'll pay five years in advance if you say so,
only I'd like to have him come with me for a week or so."


"To get used to me. To see that I'm in earnest I want his advice about my
new house, about my business. I want to get him a fine outfit. He can have
the best, sir, I assure you. I will get him a watch. I understand these
college fellows like pets. I'll buy him a pug dog."

"Not for Bellwood School you won't," observed Mr. Elliott bluntly.

"No, sir, that's so," assented Brady. "I'll buy him a horse and a boat,
then, anything he wants, only let him come with me. We are all of us weak,
sir. I may be tempted, I may fall. Let him sort of brace me up for a couple
of weeks. Then he will return, realizing that his poor old relative is
genuine, and I'll be proud all the time thinking I've won his respect."

Professor Elliott fixed his eyes on the speaker as if he would pierce him
through and through. Then he regarded Brady thoughtfully. Finally he spoke.

"Foreman, do you wish to go with this man?" he asked.

"No, sir, never!" cried Ned fervently. "Professor Elliott, please, please
don't let him take me away!"

"Do I understand," inquired the professor of Brady, "that you pretend to be
the legal guardian of this boy?"

"Oh, no, sir; no, indeed," Brady hastened to say. "I'm only his poor old--"

"Then, if you are not his legal guardian," remarked Mr. Elliott decidedly,
"the boy remains here, if he so elects. That ends the matter, I think."

Brady made a great ado. He tried to look pathetic and mournful.

"My boy," he sniffled, "won't you grant the dying request--I mean the
ardent request of your poor, homeless old relative?"

"I thought your eighteen million dollar friend had given you a home,"
intimated Ned.

"True, but what is a home without a--a relative?"

"I won't go with you, and that ends it," said Ned firmly.

"I will go, then, sir," said Brady to the professor with affected sadness,
"but I shall return to make another appeal to you."

"This incident is closed, sir, and my time is valuable," observed the
school president with some asperity, arising to his feet and waving Brady
out of the room.

The latter directed a venomous look at Ned. Frank noted this, and shuddered
as Ned himself had done. It was an evil face, unmasked now, that of the
tramp, and Frank realized that his young friend would do well to keep out
of the power of this hypocrite and knave.

Frank dodged aside as the man came out into the corridor. Then he followed
him at a distance. He waited till Brady had reached the road in front of
the academy. Then he stepped more briskly, caught up with him and touched
him on the arm.

"One moment," said Frank.

"Eh--ah--what is it?" stammered Brady, halting and staring suspiciously at
our hero.

"Do you remember me?" inquired Frank, looking him squarely in the eye.

"I don't," replied Brady.

"You're sure of that?"

"I never saw you before."

"Think again," spoke Frank. "I'll recall a little incident at Tipton, where
I came very near getting you into the hands of the town marshal."

With a frightened scowl Brady glared at Frank, the light of recognition now
in his eyes.

"I see you recall the incident," proceeded Frank steadily. "You are a
scamp, and you are up to some game about my friend, Ned Foreman. Now I've
something to say to you. If you hang around this place one single minute,
if you ever dare to come to this academy again, I'll have you in jail
inside of an hour."

"You impudent puppy!" shouted Brady, lifting his hand as if to strike
Frank. "You'll do what?"

"I'll have you arrested."

"What for?"

"For stealing a diamond bracelet from Mr. Samuel Mace of Tipton," was
Frank's reply.



The shot had told--Frank saw this at once.

Brady gasped for breath and turned white as a sheet.

"W--what diamond bracelet?" stammered the man.

"I guess you know," said Frank. "I guess, too, that the best and safest
thing for you to do is to get that bracelet back to the man you stole it
from before he sends an officer after you."

Brady simply stared at Frank. He was all taken aback. Frank saw that he was
dumfounded and scared. He followed up his advantage.

"You can't play any of your 'reformed man' tricks here, I can tell you," he
continued. "You practiced your game pretty well in that plug hat and
swallow-tail coat up at the cabin."

"The cabin?" repeated Brady, as though he was shocked.

"Yes; the cabin with those precious 'detectives' you told the professor
about, Jem and Dan."

"Say--look here--I don't see---- How do you know?"

"Never mind; you see I do," interrupted Frank. "Now, then, you follow my
advice. You get those two pieces of card together, and get that bracelet
from the man who has it in safekeeping for you."

Brady's eyes goggled. The amount of information Frank had about him, its
tremendous importance, staggered the man. He almost reeled where he stood.

"Send it at once to Samuel Mace at Tipton," went on Frank, "if you don't
want to be hunted down across the world if necessary. Then get as far as
you can from here. If you don't you're lost. Yes, sir," declared Frank
impressively, "a lost man."

"Thunder!" ejected the tramp in an overwhelmed sort of a way.

"You'd ought to be ashamed, hunting down an honest boy like Ned Foreman,
who is trying to make a man of himself," continued Frank indignantly.
"You've nigh ruined his chances already. You want to leave him alone. Mean
and low as you are, he is ashamed to tell the professor about it, but I'll
tell him, you bet. Now, then, you get away from here, double-quick."

The tramp started up as if he had been struck by a whip.

"And stay away," added our hero.

"I'm an abused man," sniffled Brady, trying the pathetic tack again.
"You're talking Greek to me about diamonds, and that such. Suppose I was a
bad one once, ain't I a reformed man now?"

"No, nor never will be, until you tell what dodge you're up to in getting
Ned into your clutches again."

"Boy, you mistake a poor old reformed man," said Brady, drawing a
handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his screwed-up eyes. As he did this a
lose pack of playing cards came out with the handkerchief and scattered all
around the ground, much on his confusion and assumed surprise.

"That looks like a reformed man, doesn't it?" said Frank. "You're a real,
right bad one, you are. Now you get away from here."

Brady went. He gave Frank an awful look of hatred and menace, but he
hurried his steps.

Frank stood watching him until the fellow was clear out of sight. Then,
very thoughtfully, he walked back to the school.

"Maybe I said too much; maybe I spoiled my own case," he reflected, "but I
was thinking of Ned's interests."

Frank had an idea in his mind that he would go to Professor Elliott, tell
him the whole story from beginning to end, and see if something could not
be done, here at Bellwood, to have the officers of the law try and find the
stolen diamond bracelet.

When Frank got to his room Bob Upton was awake, and, pale and worried-
looking, Ned Foreman sat conversing with him, and both occupied Frank's
thoughts for the next hour.

Frank had a reassuring talk with Ned. He told him that he need not worry
about Brady any further, that he had pretty effectually scared the rascal

"All he can do is to try and kidnap you," explained Frank. "So you keep
pretty close to the academy for the next few days. Then I'll know if he is
hanging around here anywhere."

The next day Professor Elliott went away from Bellwood to visit a friend,
and Frank had no chance to talk with him about Ned, as he had planned.

Late that afternoon Frank strolled alone from the school grounds. He had no
definite purpose in view when he started. A little distance progressed,
however, he thought of the old hut, and made up his mind to see if he could
locate it.

For the first time since becoming a student at Bellwood Frank wore the
light checked suit of clothes, the counterpart of which he had given to

Our hero had a pretty good idea as to the direction of the old cabin. He
must have gone a mile, when, as he was passing through a dense patch of
shrubbery, Frank became aware that some persons were following him.

Two men were skulking in his rear, advancing as he advanced, but keeping
well under the shadow and shelter of the bushes.

"It's those two men--Jem and Dan," said Frank to himself.



Our hero quickened his steps a little. Then he made up his mind what he
would do. He fancied he knew what the presence of the men, Jem and Dan,
meant. He smiled to himself as he strolled along, carelessly now.

Sidelong glances enabled him to make out the movements of his trailers
without awakening their suspicions. He could observe that they had branched
off from one another, aiming at a clear space, where they planned to head
him off.

This is just what they did do. Frank anticipated their action as they
suddenly moved toward him. He was as cool as a cucumber, and halting hailed
them with a nod and a familiar:


"Hello, yourself, youngster," returned Jem, looking Frank over keenly,
while his comrade stood as if ready to pounce upon the lonely boy in the
woods at a given signal. "One of the school fellows, aren't you?"

Frank nodded.

"Thought so. Let's see, your name is----"

"Oh, call me Brown for short," retorted Frank with a laugh.

"You can't fool me," declared Jem, coming nearer.

"What do you want to know my name for?" demanded Frank.

"I'm sort of curious, that's all. Say, you give us the initial, and I'll
bet we can guess at the rest of it."

"Think so? All right, what do you say to N, now?"

"I'd say Ned, right off the handle," piped in Dan.

"All right," laughed Frank. "Then you might take F for the last name."

"Foreman--Ned Foreman!" shouted Dan excitedly. "It's him, Jem. The light
suit of clothes that Brady told us about----"

"Shut up--the bag!"

Quick as lightning Dan drew something from his breast and sprang forward.
It was to slip a canvas bag over Frank's head. Then each of the men
pinioned an arm, and Frank was a prisoner.

This was just as Frank had calculated it would be done, and he was not in
the least worried. He figured it out that these men had been sent by Brady
to kidnap Ned Foreman. The light suit of clothes had deceived them, and his
own verbal parrying had aided in their accepting him as the boy they had
been hired to capture.

The bag hung loosely about Frank's head. It was perforated at the top, and
he could breathe easily. He could not, however, see through the opaque

"Don't you make any noise now, if you're wise," ordered Jem.

"I'm not doing it, am I?" propounded Frank coolly in a muffled tone.

"Better not," said Dan. "I've got a heavy stick here, and I'd use it pretty

"Who are you, anyway, and what do you want of me?" asked Frank.

"Well, lad," answered Jem, "we're going to take you on a little journey. It
will take all night to do it, and we'll make you as comfortable as we can,
if you behave nicely. There's a real fine man you are to see. If you do as
he wants you to do, you won't be five minutes with him, and you'll leave
him with good pay for all the trouble we're putting you to."

"That's fair enough; I'm agreeable," said Frank.

"He's easy enough to handle," Frank heard Jem tell Dan.

"Maybe that's all put on," suggested the other. "Don't take any risks.
You'd better leave him with me when you get to the creek, and hurry on to
Middletown and get the horse and wagon."

Frank knew that Middletown was a small village not far from Bellwood. After
they had proceeded a little farther there was a halt. Dan made our hero sit
down on the grass and kept hold of his arm. The man Jem seemed to go away

It must have been nearly half an hour when Frank caught the echo of
rumbling wheels. Then there was a whistle as an approaching vehicle halted.

"Come on," said Dan, helping him to his feet. "We'll take a little ride."

"Anything for a change," laughed Frank. "What are you fellows up to,

"You're pretty cheerful for a boy in the dark," observed Dan.

"Oh, that's all right--I'm thinking of that good pay you were talking

"You're a sensible young fellow," commented Dan. "Don't you worry a bit.
You'll fare all right if you last through as you've begun. But if you
don't, then most everything fierce is likely to happen to you."

Frank was lifted into a wagon. Its back hinged out, and it was closed again
by Jem as Dan got into the vehicle after his prisoner. Frank dropped to a
pile of old blankets. Then Dan lifted the bag from his head.

"Don't try to see any further than the law allows," he remarked, "and it's
all right."

There was nothing to see, Frank found, but the sides, back and roof of a
shut-in delivery wagon. The driver's seat was obscured by a water-proof
blanket that came within a foot of the top of the wagon, leaving a small
space through which light and air might come.

"All right in there?" sang out Jem, and the vehicle started up.

"You can sleep or loaf, any way you like," said Dan. "If you get hungry or
thirsty we'll stop at some tavern and get you some food and something to

"I'm comfortable," declared Frank. "Say, look here, we've got quite
friendly. Maybe I can ask you a question or two."

"Ask away, youngster," directed Dan.

"Of course I guess what you are up to, or rather who put you up to it,"
said Frank.

"You wouldn't be Ned Foreman if you didn't," chuckled Dan.

"All right. Give me a guess, will you?"

"For certain."

"You're taking--me to see a man for five minutes, you said?"

"Yes, that's so."

"I'll bet you I know his name."

"Well, what is it?"

"Tim Brady."

"You've hit it wrong, youngster," declared the man Dan in apparent good
faith; "it's not Tim Brady."



Frank was a little surprised at the definite announcement of the man Dan.
The latter seemed to be telling the truth.

"If it's not Brady, who is behind this business?" began Frank.

"I didn't say that," retorted Dan.


"I said that it wasn't Brady you were going to meet."

"Oh!" uttered Frank vaguely.

"If you hadn't acted so sensible and handsomely," proceeded Dan, "I
wouldn't talk with you at all. You've got me sort of chummy, though. I like
you. I don't suppose there's any harm in telling you that it's a lawyer
you're going to see. He'll explain the business to you."

"What is the business?" persisted Frank.

"Bless me if I know," declared Dan. "We were to do something--get you. We
were to take you somewhere--we do it. After that we're paid off, and that's
our end of it."

Frank did some thinking and surmising; but he could only theorize. He saw
that now he was in the mix-up he must see it through.

How far they traveled in the next eight hours he could only guess at. The
vehicle had two horses attached; they were pretty good travelers, and the
road was a smooth and level one and in excellent condition.

A little after dark the team halted, and Jem went to some place near by and
bought some doughnuts. He gave them to Dan, who divided up with Frank. Then
Frank went to sleep, awoke, and went to sleep again on the heap of blankets
in the bottom of the wagon, to be aroused by Dan shaking his arm vigorously
and saying:

"Wake up, youngster."

"What time is it?" inquired Frank.

"Just struck midnight by the village clock," Dan informed him.

"What village?" asked Frank.

"You're not to know that, youngster," responded Dan with a chuckle, as
though he considered the prisoner a pretty keen lad. "You'll have to put on
this headgear again," and Frank did not demur as the bag was drawn over his

Then our hero was lifted out of the wagon, and Jem took hold of one hand
and Dan of the other, and he was led across a yard, up a pair of outside
stairs, along a porch, and then there was a pause. Jem knocked at a door.
There was some delay, and then the door was opened.

"We're the men from Brady," said Jem.

"Pretty outlandish hour to disturb a man," snapped a sharp and domineering
voice in return.

"Acting on orders, judge," said Jem.

"This is the lad, is it?"

"It's him, judge," answered Jem, and they entered some kind of a room.

Frank was pushed down into a chair. Then Dan removed the bag from his head.
Frank looked about him with a good deal of curiosity.

He found himself in a room that he decided must be a lawyer's office. It
had cases full of law books. On a table stood a shaded lamp, and beside it
was the man who had admitted them.

This was a wiry, shrewd-looking individual, whose hair was all touseled and
who was only partially dressed, as if he had been aroused from sleep. He
moved to a chair and drew toward him a little package of documents with a
rubber band around it.

"This is the lad Foreman, is it?" he demanded.

"It's him, judge," declared Jem.

"Very good. Young man, I am acting for a client. Understand one thing. You
appear before me voluntarily. If at any future time any--er--
misunderstanding, complications arise out of this extraordinary midnight--
er--invasion, I simply act as attorney for my client. Here's a document. It
is to be signed by you. In consideration of the same, at a later date, my
client is to remit to some school or other the money to pay for your
schooling four years in advance."

"Don't say a word but 'uh-huh,'" whispered Dan quickly to Frank. "You'll be
glad if you do it. It's all right."

"Uh-huh," said Frank obediently, but thinking somethings that would have
startled the men with him if they had guessed them.

"_Ipse dixit, de facto,_ as we say in the law," proceeded the judge
pompously. "That's all, I think."

The speaker dipped a pen in ink. He set before Frank a two-paged document.
Its first page was turned over. Its second page our hero was not given time
to read, but Frank's keen glance took in words and phrases that plainly
indicated to him that the document alluded to a guardianship of some kind.

Frank signed a name that was no name at all. It was a meaningless scrawl.
He believed it would bring about a crisis, but he was now ready for just
that. The document was drawn from his hand, but before the judge could look
at it there was a ring at a telephone at the end of the room. The judge
hastily thrust the document into a drawer and hastened to the telephone.

He spoke to somebody over the phone and nodded to Jem, and said:

"It's Brady."

"No need of us waiting," responded Jem. "Here's my half of that card,
judge. I suppose you know the arrangement."

For reply the judge walked to a safe standing in the corner of the room,
opened it, took out a little box and handed it to Jem.

Frank felt somehow that this was the diamond bracelet that had been stolen
from Samuel Mace back at Tipton. The thought connected with the talk he had
overheard at the cabin near Bellwood about two pieces of card. He theorized
that it was the reward to Jem and Dan for agreeing to kidnap Ned Foreman.

"Got it?" spoke Dan eagerly, edging up to Jem. "Then our part's done. Let's
get away from here."

Frank took a last glance around the room. It was to note a row of law books
that had written on their calfskin backs the name "Grimm." Frank treasured
this clue. He did not doubt that it was the name of the "judge." He did not
know what town he was in, or how far away from Bellwood, but he believed he
now had learned the name of the "judge," and that it would afford a
starting point in a later investigation.

Frank smiled to himself as, the bag again over his face, he was taken back
to the covered wagon. He wondered what the "judge" and Brady would say when
they found a meaningless scrawl to the document they had gone to so much
trouble to have signed.

He made up his mind that, although he was a minor, the signature of Ned
Foreman to that paper meant something important. It probably gave some
power to Brady over Ned. What this was Frank felt sure that he could soon
find out, and he planned upon his return to Bellwood School to go straight
to Professor Elliott with the whole story.

"Now, then, youngster," observed Dan as the wagon started up, "you've
behaved fine. Nobody is hurt, and you've done yourself some good. I'll
promise you that your schooling bills will be paid, and you just want to
forget everything that's happened to-night. Don't be foolish and stir
things up. It'll be no use. You'll be provided for until you're of age, and
that's a good deal for a fellow who was grubbing for every cent yesterday."

Frank went to sleep after that. He was roused by Dan in broad daylight, and
Jem opened the back of the wagon. Dan walked a few steps with Frank.

"You're about two miles from your school," he said. "I've taken quite an
interest in you. If I was the right sort, I'd kind of like to adopt you.

"Good-by," answered Frank, starting in the direction of Bellwood School.

Frank walked on for a distance. He observed that the wagon had not started
up immediately, and he believed that the two men would satisfy themselves
that he was not delaying or lurking around before they resumed their

Frank chuckled to himself. He had gone through a night of considerable
mystery, but he fancied he had gathered up some pretty important points as
to the reason for all the planning and plotting regarding Ned Foreman. He
felt pretty well satisfied with himself.

"I don't want to pat myself on the shoulder any," was the way he put it to
himself, "but I think I've done pretty well for a young fellow about my
size. They would have it that I was Ned Foreman. They would have me sign
that paper. I didn't tell any lies, but I wonder what that lawyer will say
when he reads that signature? Grim he'll be, sure enough."

Frank at first was quite content to return to the academy. The wagon had
started up at a clattering rate and he did not attempt to follow it.
Suddenly, however, a crash and then the echo of loud voices halted him.

"Something happened to that wagon," decided Frank. "Jem and Dan are
discussing things at a great rate, too. I'm going to see what's up."

Frank made a short cut through the shrubbery and reached the road at the
point whither the loud voices of the two men led him. He came upon the
wagon with one hind wheel stuck in a muddy rut and the other one smashed at
the hub. From the shelter of a handy bush Frank surveyed the situation and
listened to what the recent captors were saying.

"There's no use, Jem," remarked Dan. "She's a goner and you've just got to
leave her here."

"But what about getting to Rockton?"

"Ain't that plain?"

"Not to me," asserted Jem.

"Why, unhitch the animal, and make it on horseback."

"Me?" hooted Jem. "Why, I never rode a horse twice in my life, and then
without a saddle--not much."

"Well, unhitch, anyway; it isn't far to the town. Let the livery stable man
come back after the wagon here and give you a new rig."

"There's no other way to do that I can make out," agreed Jem. "Yes, that's
just what we'll do."

Frank became interested in watching them unhitch the horse from the wagon.
They finally started off, Jem leading the horse. Frank was about to go
about his business, when a casual remark of Dan acted like a magnet in
attracting his attention away from his former purpose.

"I say, Jem," he observed in a somewhat anxious tone, "you are sure we can
settle the bracelet business right away?"

"Yes, right away," assented Jem.


"Ready money, sure."

"Hope you will. I want my share so I can get away from these diggings and
the crowd into some new district and among new people."

"Oho! Going to turn respectable, are you?" jeered Jem.

"I'm going to try," announced Dan manfully. "I'm afraid of Brady. He's the
kind of a man who goes from bad to worse. He will be sure to get you in
trouble if you stick with him long enough."

"Well, as long as he pays the bills as he agrees I'm his man," said Jem.

"I'm not, and I'll cut loose just as soon as I get my share of the

That little talk decided Frank that he would not return to the academy at
once. He resolved to play the detective, for a little time at least.

Frank believed that what he had done would result in the upsetting of all
the plans Brady had set on foot regarding Ned Foreman.

He felt certain that when he related the circumstances of the case to
Professor Elliott, the latter would speedily devise a way to protect Ned
and ferret out the object of the lawyer, Grimm, and also Brady, in securing
some kind of guardianship over the orphan boy.

About the bracelet, however, that was a different affair. From what Frank
had just heard he was convinced that Jem had this now in his possession.

"Yes," mused Frank, as almost involuntarily he followed Jem and Dan at a
safe distance, "that little box the lawyer gave Jem surely contains the
bracelet stolen from Lemuel Mace, back at Tipton. It's sure, too, from what
these men just said, that Jem is going to dispose of it right away. Why, if
that's so, all trace of it would be lost, and good-by to my chances of ever
convicting the real thieves. This man Dan, the best of the lot, is going to
disappear, and, of course, Brady and Jem will never admit they stole the
bracelet. I sort of feel that if I let these men slip me now I'll never be
able to clear myself of the charge of stealing Mace's jewelry."

Frank was so impressed with these ideas that he trailed on after the two
men. He did not know that it would do much good, but that bracelet was a
kind of a lodestone, and he felt that he would give a good deal to get it
into his possession.

The little procession covered about three slow miles, arriving finally at a
little sleepy town. Frank had never been there before. Jem led the horse
down the main street of the place, and finally turned into a vacant lot, at
the rear of which stood a livery stable. A lantern was burning just beyond
the wide open door of the place.

Frank lined a board fence that bounded one side of the livery stable yard.
When he got opposite the open doorway where Jem had halted, he posted

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