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The Hilltop Boys on the River by Cyril Burleigh

Part 2 out of 3

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"We won't hear any more boasting from that quarter I guess."

"We didn't have enough gasolene to go fast," growled Herring, who
came up at that moment. "We got out without knowing it. We'll
race you for ten dollars to-morrow."

"Oh, we are satisfied," chuckled Billy, while Percival looked
significantly at Jack, and said:

"What did I tell you, Jack? A poor excuse is better than none."

Jack said nothing, and he and Percival went off into the woods.

Within a short time of the supper hour when the boys returned they
were told by Bucephalus that the doctor wished to see them, and
they went at once to the cottage where they found a well-dressed
stranger talking with the principal.

"This is the young gentleman who found the watch," said Dr. Wise.
"Will you describe it to him?"

"It is a lady's watch," said the other slowly, and in well modulated
tones. "It was a present to my wife, and, of course, I am sorry to
lose it, and will give a good reward for its return. It was stolen
from the house where I live a few weeks ago, and I have been trying
to find it ever since. I did succeed in tracing the man whom I
suspected of stealing it, but when he was arrested the watch was not
in his possession. I saw an advertisement in the paper only this
afternoon, which made me think that perhaps this might be the watch
I am in search of."

Jack looked closely at the man who did not have the marks of a bad
character anywhere, being well dressed, well spoken, and evidently
a man of easy means and considerable culture.

There was something about him, nevertheless, that made Jack think
he was not what he seemed, and he tried to think what it was and to
place him in his mind.

"Will you describe the watch, please?"

"Certainly, with the greatest of pleasure," and the man proceeded
to give an accurate description of the watch, not omitting the
slightest detail, giving the name of the maker, the size, the
number of diamonds on the case, and, in fact, everything about it.

"Number, please?" said Jack, still looking fixedly at the man.
"You will know the number of the watch, of course? Persons who
own valuable watches always make a record of the number."

"The number?" said the other. "Oh, yes, to be sure. I have it
in my pocket-book. The rest of the description is accurate, is it?"

"Let me hear the number," said Jack quietly. "Two watches may
be exactly alike, but have different numbers. I have not said
that your description is correct. You have the number?"

"Why, of course!" said the other somewhat impatiently, and all
at once a light broke in upon Jack.

The man was the one he had heard, but had not seen, talking with
the foreign nurse maid on the bank of the kill earlier in the

He had tried to place the man's voice, but while he talked in low,
pleasant tones, with a good inflection, he was puzzled, knowing
and yet not knowing it.

The instant that the man spoke in impatient, angry tones, such
as he had used on the bank of the kill, Jack recognized him, and
he wondered that he had not done so before.

The man took a slip of paper from his pocketbook, and read out a
number written in pencil, the exact number of the watch which Jack
had found.

"Is that correct?" he asked Jack with a certain tone of triumph.

"Perfectly so," the boy answered.

"And the description is correct also?"


"Ah, I am glad of that. I mentioned a reward a few minutes ago, and
I am perfectly willing to pay it. Will a hundred dollars be

"It would be more than ample in the event of my having the actual
owner of the watch to deal with," in a quiet tone.

The man flushed, glared angrily at the boy, and cried excitedly:

"What do you mean by that, you young scoundrel? Do you dare to
say that I am not---" and then he stopped short, laughed, and
said in his former pleasant tones: "but this is a joke, of course."

"No, it is not, it is the truth," said the boy. "Dr. Wise, don't
give it to him. He is not the real owner of the watch. Have
you forgotten your conversation with Gabrielle this afternoon?"
to the man himself. "Well, I have not, nor has my friend, and we
both heard it. It was on the banks of a little kill that runs into
the Hudson a few miles from here, and about a mile up from the river."

Before the boy had finished the man uttered an inarticulate mutter,
and flushed deeply, dashing out of the room as the sentence was



"Come On, Dick, the man must not escape!" cried Jack excitedly.
"Excuse us, Doctor, we've got to watch him. Come ahead, Dick!"

Both boys left the cottage in haste, seeing the man running toward
the river when they reached the outside.

"Hello! stop that man!" shouted Dick.

"Catch him!" echoed Jack.

Jack's boat was at the shore, not hauled up on the bank as usual,
and now this man made directly for it, sprang in, started the engine
in a few moments, and was out on the river as the two boys and some
others came running down.

"I am going to take your boat, J.W., if it's ready!" shouted Jack
to young Smith whom he saw approaching. "I must catch that fellow!"

"All right, Jack!" cried the boy. "Do what you like with it."

Jack sprang into the smaller boy's boat, started the engine and set
off after the runaway at a good speed.

The man was going up the river, and already had a good lead, but Jack
did not hesitate, relying on getting help to stop him before he had
gone much farther, or, at any rate, when he reached town, where he
was evidently making his way.

The fugitive kept as close in to shore as possible, and made the
highest speed he could; Jack realized that his boat was a good one,
and would have some trouble to keep it in sight, although young
Smith's boat was capable of making good time.

"I am glad I know what young J.W.'s boat can do," he said to
himself, "and if that fellow had not had a lead on me I would have
been up to him by this time. I think I can beat him in the long
run, as he does not know my boat as well as I do, and I know this
one now."

Jack hoped that by the time he reached town he might get aid to stop
the man even if he had not overhauled him, and he kept on at a good

"That fellow must know something about motor-boats," he thought,
"for he is managing mine in good shape. I could do better with her,
but he is doing very well. I only wish some one would come along so
as to head him off. I don't like to lose him."

When they neared the mouth of the kill Jack shot a hasty glance ahead
to see if there was any one coming to whom he could shout, and saw a
little tug put out from the railroad dock.

He was about to shout to them when to his great annoyance he saw the
man in his boat shoot into the kill and disappear.

"H'm! I don't know where he will go now!" he muttered in disappointment,
hurrying after the fugitive.

He was not far behind as it was, and as he entered the creek, having
put on extra speed, he saw the man only a short distance ahead.

Not far away there was a turn in the creek, and the runaway presently
disappeared around it, Jack following and gaining ground.

In a short time he came in sight not of the man, but of his boat, tied
up at the bank, the man having disappeared.

"Well, I have my boat at any rate," laughed Jack rather ruefully, "and
that is something I suppose. I wanted the man, but I shall have to
be satisfied with what I can get."

He got into his own boat, and towed the other out of the creek and
down the river, disappointed, of course, but, on the whole, glad that
it was no worse, and that he had not lost his boat.

He met Percival and some of the boys on his way back, the boys
questioning him excitedly as they came up.

"Did you get him, Jack?"

"You have got your own boat back anyhow. Did you catch him?"

"How did he get away, Jack?" asked Percival. "Did he put up a fight?"

"No, he ran into the kill, and as soon as he got out of sight around
a bend tied up my boat and skipped out," said Jack in a tone of

"That's too bad. I hoped that you would catch him"

"Young J.W. will think all the more of his boat after this," said
Billy Manners. "You made it go, Jack."

"Haven't I told him that he could get speed out of a canal-boat?"
Percival retorted with a laugh.

"No one will want to race with Jesse W. after this," remarked
Arthur. "They won't make fun of his boat now, nor of him either."

"Well, he got away from me," said Jack, as the boys turned and went
back with him, "and now I suppose he will be harder than ever to
find. He has not got the watch anyhow."

When the boys reached camp supper had already started, but Bucephalus
looked after them, and the doctor readily excused them on account of
the importance of their errand.

"He got away from me, Doctor," said Jack, "but I recovered my
boat and that is something."

"Percival told me of the conversation you heard this afternoon,
and so I readily, understood why you were so anxious to apprehend
the man. I was prepared to turn the watch over to him, being
convinced that he was the owner, and your accusation came as a
great surprise, therefore."

After supper Jack suggested to Percival that they go up to the
Van der Donk house and see the nurse, as they might learn more
about the man who had claimed the watch.

"It is a good idea, Jack," said Dick, "but I guess you will need to
be careful how you proceed with that excitable creature, who is
ready to go up in the air at the slightest notice."

"Yes, it will be necessary to observe caution if we wish to learn
anything. These foreigners are very excitable, especially the women,
and one has to be cautious in dealing with them."

Early in the evening the two boys went up to the Van der Donk house,
being met by Margaret, who seemed very glad to see them, and said:

"We have been busy putting things to rights, and if it does not look
very tidy here you must excuse it. Gabrielle has gone away, no one
knows why or where."

Jack glanced significantly at Percival, and said carelessly:

"Gabrielle? She was the nurse?"

"Yes, and I have been obliged to look after the baby, to help the
maids with the cleaning and dusting, to assist the cook, to look
after things generally and to keep father and mother from getting
into the dumps."

"Did Gabrielle do all these things?"

"Oh, no, but when one maid goes the others want to, and it has been
a difficult matter to keep them all contented and busy. Gabrielle
was a good nurse, but a bit flighty and quite excitable."

"But you don't know that she has gone for good?"

"She took her boxes, and went away very unexpectedly. It may have
been on account of the fire, but we don't know. She has never gone
away like this before, but I suppose an excitable person, such as
she was, is liable to do strange things at any time."

"It must be very awkward to be without help at such a time, and
if we are any trouble---"

"Oh, no, don't think of going," said Margaret hurriedly. "By the
way, did you find an owner for the watch?"

"We have had several claimants, but no real owner," said Jack. "It
is a very handsome one, and almost anybody might be excused for
wanting it."

"Yes, indeed. I would like very much to have it myself. How could
it have been here when it does not belong to any one in our family?"

"There were strangers here last night, and we think that the man who
stole it put it in Jack's pocket by mistake when he saw that the
police were watching him."

"But we did not miss anything ourselves. One would think that if
thieves were about they would try to pick up something when there
was so much excitement. It seems very mysterious to me."

"Yes, and to every one," said Percival. Mr. and Mrs. Van der Donk
came in shortly, and for a time there was a very pleasant
conversation, but at last the old gentleman got upon the subject of
his family, and before long the boys were yawning, and the old lady
fast asleep.

"You will have to excuse us," said Percival, getting up, "but we
boys had very little sleep last night, and we have to be back at
nine o'clock in any event."

The boys took their leave, and when once clear of the house Percival
said with a grin:

"I could not stand the old man and his genealogy, although we could
have stayed an hour longer easily."

"I saw that you were beginning to yawn, and I must confess that I felt
a bit drowsy myself."

"We won't find out anything about the watch through that girl, Jack,"
said Percival a little later. "Our plans of being cautious and all
that did not amount to anything."

"No, and we are as much in the dark as before regarding the real
owner. We may never know who he is, Dick."

"It looks like that," said Dick.



As the boys were nearing the camp on their way back they suddenly
heard the sound of angry voices, and Percival whispered:

"Wait a minute, Jack. Some of the boys are having a quarrel, and I
believe I know who they are."

"I told you to let my boat alone, you idiot!" the boys heard Herring
say just ahead of them.

They were in the woods adjoining the camp, and the two quarreling
boys were very close to them.

"Well, I didn't hurt it!" they heard Merritt say angrily. "You
are making a lot of fuss over an old tub that isn't any good anyhow.
Look how little Smith beat us this afternoon, and he the smallest
boy in the Academy. I didn't hurt your boat."

"I say you did, and I told you not to go out with it. You've busted
the engine."

"No, I didn't. It wasn't any good anyhow. You tried to put Sheldon's
boat out of business, but you couldn't."

"You had as much to do with that as I did!" sputtered Herring.

"Well, you started it, same as you started telling that detective
that Sheldon had a bad name in the Academy, and---"

"Shut up! Somebody will hear you. You had as much to do with
that as-----"

Percival suddenly let out a great bellow, such as a calf in search
of its mother might make.

"Gracious! what's that?" cried Herring in alarm, making a dash for
the camp, the lights of which could be plainly seen.

Merritt followed in hot haste, frightened out of his wits, and
Percival broke into a hearty laugh, not caring if the two conspirators
heard him or not, and greatly enjoying their terror.

They may have done so, but they did not pause until they reached the
camp, and were challenged by the sentry.

"That's good!" laughed Dick. "And we have found out something as
well. Now we know who it was who tried to put your boat out of
commission. I have always suspected those rascals of having had
something to do with it, and now I am certain."

"Yes, but that was not as bad as-----"

"As trying to make you out a bad character. No, it is not. I had
my suspicions on that score, too. If you had asked me to name the
fellows who were most likely to do a thing of that sort I would have
named them in a moment. They are just mean enough."

"Well, it does not matter," said Jack. "No one would believe them
who knows me. It is not worth thinking about."

"But I think it is!" said Percival hotly. "You don't know how far
a thing of that sort might go. Suppose the detective had arrested
you before he saw the doctor or you had a chance to explain? It
would have taken a long time to explain things away."

"I do not think so," Jack replied. "I have friends enough in town
to say nothing of the Academy. Besides, who is going to arrest me
in any such peremptory fashion as all that? Do you suppose I would
submit to it?"

"No, I guess not!" and Percival laughed again. "You are a quiet
sort of fellow, Jack, but when it comes to a thing of that sort you
can be as lively as any one, myself for instance. I remember the
time you knocked this same Herring bully down for insulting you.
It was a surprise to him, and to all of us, for we all thought you
were a quiet chap who would stand most anything for the sake of peace."

"Well, I don't seek quarrels," Jack replied, "but being in one-----"

"As Shakespeare says you stick it out," and Percival laughed again.
"I think it ought to be known that Herring and Merritt tried to
give you a black eye, Jack. It is no more than right."

"But they did not give it to me, Dick, and there is no use in
stirring up trouble. Let it go. Both Herring and Merritt must
know by this time that the Hilltop boys in general will not believe
their lies."

"Well, if they do not they must be very stupid," grunted Percival,
and by this time the boys were in the camp.

"Pete Herring and Erne Merritt saw a ghost!" laughed Billy Manners,
as the boys came in. "They were frightened to bits. I believe
myself that it was nothing but a white calf."

"You were frightened by a calf yourself once, Billy," chuckled Dick,
"and declared that it was a roaring bull."

"Did I?" asked Billy innocently. "When was that?"

"You know well enough," said Percival, "so you need not be so
innocent. However, I know what frightened Herring and Merritt."

"What was it?" asked Billy, and a number of others.

"Guilty consciences!" said Dick shortly, and with some emphasis, and
then he and Jack went on to their tent.

"They will want to know more, Dick," said Jack. "You should not have
given them a clue like that."

"I won't say any more, then. They are within hearing and they will
understand, and you will see that they are careful how they talk
about you to any one after this."

"Let them talk," laughed Jack.

For two or three days things went on as usual in the camp on the river,
the boys doing a certain amount of study, drilling a little,
exercising in the outdoor gymnasium, skimming along the river in
their boats and otherwise occupying themselves, the time, on the
whole, passing very pleasantly.

Then one day a messenger came from a boys' camp some miles down the
river asking them to take part in a regatta, which was going to take
place at the other camp in a day or so.

"We know you Hilltop boys," said the messenger, "and we would like
to have some representatives of your Academy at our sports. Will
you send a few of them?"

The messenger had met Percival and Jack, and Percival now answered:

"We shall be very glad to send any number. Do you intend to have any
other besides aquatic sports? Any running, jumping, or anything of
that sort? Our boys are good at all of them."

"Mostly water sports, but I suppose we could have some of the rest.
There will be races for motor-boats, shells, canoes, a tub race, and
a swimming match. We have a good stretch of river at our camp, and
there is plenty of room."

"And the affair takes place the day after tomorrow?"

"Yes, beginning at two in the afternoon. That will give you time to
get home after it is over, either by train or in your own boats."

"Very well. We will be on hand. I cannot tell you whom we will
send, for the doctor will have something to say about that, but
there will be some of us there beyond a doubt."

"You have a boy named Sheldon, who is a dandy at running a motor-boat,
haven't you?" the other boy asked.

"Yes, and he can get speed out of a canal-boat," laughed Dick.
"Do you want him?"

"We certainly do," said the other emphatically. "We have heard
of him, and we certainly want him."

"Here he is now. You can ask him yourself." The other boy was
a bit surprised at seeing the very boy he had been talking about,
and said:

"But I thought you were bigger. They said you were strong and wiry,
and I expected to see a giant. Why, you are no bigger than I am.
And you can run a motor-boat?"

"Certainly he can," replied Dick. "Size does not count in a thing
like that. Why, I am bigger than Jack, but he can beat me running a
boat. Then there is little Jesse W. Smith, who is the smallest thing
in the way of a boy in the Academy, and he has beaten boys twice his

"And you will be down?" to Jack himself.

"If I am chosen to represent the Hilltop boys, I will certainly be
on hand," Jack replied. "I should like nothing better."

Other boys now came up, and Percival told them about the regatta to
be held at the other camp on the next day, but one, all of them being
greatly excited over it.

"Even if we don't take part I suppose we can go?" asked Billy Manners.
"There ought to be a lot of fun in it."

"There will be if you race, Billy," said Percival. "There is going
to be a tub race as one of the attractions."

"Good enough! I can win a tub race as well as anything else if I put
my mind on it," laughed Billy. "I think I'll enter for it."

"Anything to make things lively," said the messenger, and then he
shortly took his leave, while the Hilltop boys were greatly excited
over the coming contest wherein they hoped to take more than one prize.



On the second day following, a number of the Hilltop boys went down
to the other camp to take part in the athletic games appointed for
that day, and to witness the sports, the greater part of them being

The doctor had selected Jack Sheldon to take part in the motor-boat
races, Percival as a runner and also a boatman, Harry, Arthur, and
young Smith in the second-class motor-boats, Herring and one or two
others as swimmers, and Billy Manners and Seymour to take part in
the tub race, besides a few others in other contests.

Dick Percival was not altogether pleased that Herring should have
been chosen to represent the school in anything, but as the bully
was really a fine swimmer, as well as runner and jumper, he swallowed
his chagrin, and said nothing.

"They may like Pete's swimming," he said to himself, "but if they get
an idea that the rest of the Hilltoppers are like him it will be
pretty rough on the rest of us."

Jack, Dick, and a number of the boys went down in their boats, while
Herring, Merritt, Holt, and quite a number more took the train.

The boys were well received and Jack, Dick, Herring and the rest who
were to take part in the sports went to the dressing rooms back of
the club house used by the other boys.

There were many residents of the neighborhood present, and a goodly
showing from Riverton as well, the seats along the river and in the
club house balconies being very well filled.

The sports opened with a footrace between three or four of the
strangers, and the same number of the Hilltop boys, these being
Percival, Harry and two others, being the first heat.

Percival and Harry and two of the others won the heat, and would run
in the final later in the afternoon.

Then Jack Sheldon and another of the Hilltoppers represented the
Academy against two of their opponents, Jack and the boy who had
brought the message winning for the final.

"I don't think there is any doubt as to who will win it, Sheldon,"
said the Rocky Hill boy, "but I am going to try all the same. It is
some fun to race with a boy like you. You are as straight as a
house, and you make a fellow hustle, which is good for any one."

Then there was a tub race in which Billy Manners, young Smith, and
two or three others, attired in bathing tights, as fitted the
occasion, competed with as many of the Rocky Hill boys.

Each boy's craft was a big washtub, which he was required to propel
a certain distance without sinking it, the one who went the farthest
being adjudged the winner.

Billy had a bright red bathing suit and as he was rather fat and
chubby, with a fair complexion and reddish hair, he was bound to
attract a good deal of attention, which he increased by his remarks.

"Grand race of ocean liners for a purse of ten thousand dollars!"
he shouted, as he entered his tub and started on the course.

Young Smith presently collided with him, and upset his own tub, and
was obliged to swim for the bank, but Billy managed to avert
disaster, and went on in great style.

"A life on the ocean wave is nothing to this!" he shouted, whereupon
there was more laughter; still Billy went on, beginning to take in
water, but keeping afloat, and avoiding collisions with the others.

Two or three had already been obliged to swim ashore besides Jesse
W., some being Hilltop boys and some from the other camp.

Billy finally had to swim for it, his tub going under just as he got
to the goal well ahead of every one else, and he was adjudged the
winner amid considerable applause.

"Honest merit will assert itself whether it is in a tub or an ocean
liner," he remarked, as he accepted the trophy, a miniature washtub
decorated with ribbons, whereupon there was another laugh, and Billy
retired to dress himself.

There were other contests between the Hilltop boys alone, and the
Rocky Hills alone, as well as between teams made up of both camps,
the winners being about evenly divided and the best of good feeling

In the final motor-boat race Jack Sheldon won by several lengths, his
opponent saying with a smile:

"Well, I did push you a bit, Sheldon, but you left me a long way
behind for all that. I was scarcely second, you might say."

Herring had won a swimming match, but was beaten in running, Percival
coming a long way ahead in the footrace, to the great delight of the
boys from the Hilltop camp.

Jack had noticed Margaret and Mr. and Mrs. Van der Donk on the club
house balcony, and heard with considerable pleasure her cheers of
delight, and saw her wave the Hilltop colors frantically when he won
the race with his boat, and could not help feeling a certain amount
of pride.

Later when he and Percival and a number of the boys went up on the
balcony to receive their prizes and accept the congratulations of
their friends, Margaret, who was seated with some distinguished-looking
strangers, said to the boy after congratulating him on his victory:

"Have you learned any more about the watch, Mr. Sheldon?"

"I have not found an owner yet," Jack replied, "and I don't know what
to do with it. It is altogether too costly an article for me to
wear, besides being a lady's watch, and my mother would feel that
it was too much of a task to live up to it. However, I may find
the owner yet."

One of the ladies with Margaret seemed greatly interested, and she
now turned to Jack, and asked:

"What is the watch that you speak of? One that you found?"

"Yes, ma'am," said Jack, "and in a very strange manner. It was
the night of the fire at Miss Van der Donk's. When I got back to
the camp I found it in my pocket without knowing how it came there.
It does not belong to Miss Margaret nor to any of the family, and
they are as puzzled to know how I found it as I am myself. It was
stolen I now know, but I do not know to whom it belongs."

"You know it was stolen?"

"Yes, I overheard a man tell the nurse at Miss Van der Donk's that
he had stolen it. He gave it to her, in fact, and she lost it or
threw it away, perhaps, fearing that it would make trouble."

"Why, you never told me that!" exclaimed Margaret in great astonishment.
"When did you learn all this?"

"The day after the fire. Dick and I went to your house the night
after to see if we could get anything out of the nurse, Gabrielle,
but she had gone during that day. I did not have a chance to tell
you, and then your father came in and-----"

"Talked genealogy till you fell asleep," laughed Margaret. "But,
Mrs. Hamilton, why are you so interested in this matter?"

"I'll tell you in a moment. You say it was a lady's watch?" to Jack.

"Yes, and a very handsome one. It is a Jurgensen with a gold
case set with diamonds. I understand these watches are very

"Do you know the number?"

"Yes, Madame, do you?" Jack returned. "Pardon me, but I have grown
cautious. Several persons have claimed the watch who had no title
to it whatever, and I have become cautions. Have you lost a watch
of this sort?"

"Yes, and I know its number by heart. Is it this?" and the lady
gave the exact number of the watch, which Jack himself remembered.

"Yes, that is right," he said.

"I will tell you something else about it, which, perhaps, you do
not know, my boy," the lady continued. "The upper part of the
case, the one with the diamonds on it, is double, and the top of
it will unscrew, showing a small space beneath. In this is a
photograph of a little girl, one I lost, and a small gold coin.
When you return take off the top of the jeweled side of the case,
and if you find it as I say then you will know that the watch
is mine."

"I did not deny this, Madame," said Jack, coloring a little, "but
you can readily understand that I would be cautious after so many
persons have tried to get the watch away from me. By the way, did
you employ a detective, a rather self-important person, to find it
for you?"

"Higgins!" laughed the lady. "Yes, I did, and he told me that he
had discovered the person who had it."

"This was since the fire?"

"No, the day before."

"And you have not seen him since?"

"No, nor heard from him."

Jack laughed, and told how the detective had tried to get the watch
from him, and how and why Dr. Wise had refused to give it up.

"Higgins always struck me as being a bit too zealous," said the
lady. "I do not wonder that the doctor refused to deliver it after
the man's poor account of you. You seem to be a great favorite
both with the doctor and with the Hilltop boys."

"And deservedly so," echoed Percival. "We won't hear a word against
Jack, and it has not spoiled him either."

"And you know about the watch, too?"

"Yes, being in the tent when it dropped out of Jack's pocket. I
hoped he might keep it, but now-----"

"But now you think that I have a right to it?"

"To be sure, and I only meant that Jack should keep it in case he
could find no owner for it:"

It was now time for the boys to return to the camp, and they took
their leave, Jack promising to examine the watch when he got back,
and to report if it was as the lady had said.

After supper Jack and Percival went to the doctor's, and Jack told
what the lady had said, and asked to see the watch.

The top of the upper part of the case could be removed, just as
she had said, and Jack found the photograph and the little coin
under it.

"Well, that is all right," he said to Dick. "I am satisfied that
the owner has now been found, for that thing has bothered me a
good deal. I wonder what Higgins has been doing all this time,
however, not to report his failure to get the watch?"

"A sudden rush of sense to the head may have affected him," laughed
Dick, "and he was ashamed to say anything about it. If he had
told that he had discovered the watch, and that you had it he would
have been obliged to tell why it had not been given to him, and that
would have been altogether too much for his vanity."

"I suppose so," said Jack with a smile.



Jack sent the watch to the lady he had seen with Margaret the next
day, Dr. Wise being satisfied that it belonged to her, and
suggesting that it be forwarded to her by express without delay.

The next day he received a very pleasant letter from the lady,
together with a handsome locket to wear at the end of his watch chain.

"I suppose I can take this, Dick?" he said to his chum. "It is
really a reward for having found the watch, and I did not expect
any. However, it is not money, which I could not have taken, but
it cost money just the same."

"Keep it, Jack," said Dick. "The lady feels that you ought to have
something for your trouble, and you cannot very well refuse her gift."

"No, I don't suppose I can, but I did not want it, nevertheless.
My mother is fond of things like that, and I can give it to her."

"Well, the lady could hardly object to that, but I would wear it
for a time. She might see you shortly, and she would miss it."

"Very good," said Jack carelessly. "I will do it."

Just now the doctor was offering a prize for a poem to be written
by one of the boys, not to exceed a certain length, and to be
written upon some historical event, preferably one connected with
the Hudson.

The poem must be entirely original, but must be unsigned and accompanied
by a sealed envelope containing the writer's name, this not to be
opened until the prize had been awarded to the best poem, at which
time the name of the winner would be made known.

"That makes it fair for everybody," declared Percival. "I am not
much of a poet, Jack, but you might try for this."

"You have had as much training in this line as I have, Dick,"
replied Jack. "There are plenty of subjects to choose from, Arnold's
treason, the capture of Stony Point by Wayne, the firing upon
the Highland Forts, Montgomery and Clinton, the burning of Kingston
and the hanging of the man with the silver bullet and a lot more.
Let your imagination loose, Dick, and I think you can win."

"If it were a case of letting my temper loose," laughed Percival,
"it would be a sure thing, but the imagination is different."

Jack knew that his mother would be pleased if he won the prize, and
so he determined to try for it, and began setting himself to work on
some verses having to do with the very location where the Academy
was situated.

When Billy Manners heard of the contest he said to Arthur, Harry,
young Smith, and a few others who were down on the shore fixing
their boats:

"Oh, say, can you see by the dawn and so forth!" he exclaimed,
"that is fine. Think of the inspiration we get from this historic
river. Look at the mountains all around us, full of patriotic
memories, and then say that you can't do anything. Why, the poetry
fairly bubbles out of me."

"Give us a sample, William," chuckled Harry. "There was another
poet named William once. Perhaps you inherit some of his genius.
I never saw any suspicion of it on you, but it may be there all the
same. Give us a sample, There's a good fellow."

"Why, certainly," Billy rejoined. "Historical subject, eh? And
one that occurred on the Hudson? Why, that's easy. Listen to this:"

Then Billy threw up his arms, gazed straight up into the sky,
and delivered himself of his poetic thoughts as follows:

_"When Freedom from her mountain height
Unfurled her banner to the skies,
Not a creature was stirring, not-----"_

"You've got things mixed, Billy," roared Harry. "Try again.
Besides, that is not original. It must be original to pass."

"Oh, well, all poets are plagiarists more or less," said Billy,
"but this time I will give you something of my own."

Then Billy struck a pensive attitude, and began again:

_"'Twas midnight; in his guarded tent,
Not a drum was heard, nor a funeral note,
By thy cold, gray stones, oh, sea!
Once upon a midnight dreary,
A gentle knight was pricking on-----"_

"Worse and worse!" yelled Arthur. "Halleck, Poe, Tennyson, Spenser,
and I don't know who else in a regular literary hash! That will
do for you, my boy.' A little of that goes a long way."

"Didn't I tell you I was bubbling all over with poetry?"

"You're a bubble yourself," laughed Harry, "and you'll burst if you
get too full of that sort of stuff."

"You wait till I really put my mind on it," said Billy with a droll
look. "You'll be surprised, my boys."

"We don't doubt that in the least," said Harry. "Why, I never
heard such poetry," chuckled young Smith.

"It actually makes me cry," said Arthur.

"You will be surprised when I take the prize," answered Billy,
taking all this chaff good-naturedly.

"Yes, I think we will be," replied Seymour. "Surprised is no name
for it. We will be actually thunderstruck."

"Oh, you boys are jealous," grinned Billy. "Shall I give you
another sample?"

"Another piece of patchwork, you mean," grinned Harry. "No, please
don't. I have not recovered from the other yet."

"You fellows do not appreciate real genius, and here is the river
right at your feet to inspire you to noble thoughts. Come on, let's
take a spin."

"You have set our brains to spinning already," said Arthur.

"No, one good turn deserves another," quoted Jesse W., with a
broad grin. "Come on, boys, before Billy breaks out again."

"I may astonish you boys yet," laughed Billy, as he got into his
boat and set off down stream.

Jack worked industriously on his poem, and Percival became serious
and did some really good work on one that he had begun when he knew
that Jack was at work, a number of the boys getting to work at the
same time.

"I don't expect to do better than Jack," Percival said to Arthur,
"but if he knows I am going in for this he will do all the better,
and I want him to come out on top."

"He may anyhow, Dick," returned Arthur. "He has been doing something
of this sort for the News in Riverton. They have not been signed,
but I know that they were his from a line or two that I heard him
repeating to himself in the tent when he did not know that any one
was around. I recognized them afterwards in one of the poems
published in the paper. Jack is a modest fellow and does not blow
his own trumpet."

"Did any one else hear him, Art?"

"Yes, Harry. We did not say anything about it, but we know the pieces
were his. Then you know that he has done something in that line for
the Hilltop Gazette, of course?"

"To be sure I do. The Academy paper is doing fine since Jack took
the editorship. It is some magazine now."

"I should say it was. Jack will write something good I know, and I
want to see him win the prize."

"So do I, Art, as I told you before," replied Percival heartily.

Percival let it be known to Jack that he was trying for the prize
and this, instead of making the boy feel envious, as some would have
done, encouraged him and caused him to put forth his best efforts.

"I hear that you are going to compete for the poetic prize, Dick,"
he said to his friend. "That's fine. I hope you will get it.
You used to do a lot of good things, and I don't see why you should
not do them still. I'd like to see you get it, Dick."

Dick chuckled over this to Harry and Arthur and Billy, and said:

"Jack is putting his best foot forward, as I hoped he would. He
thinks that I will beat him, and so he is doing his best. That's
just what I wanted, and I hope he will win the pennant."

"H'm! you talk as if this was a baseball series," laughed Billy.

"Well, you know what I mean anyhow," returned Dick.

The boys put in their poems and the blank sealed envelopes containing
their names and the titles of their productions, the envelopes not to
be opened till after the prizes were given.

The doctor had all the manuscripts in his study, and was to go over
them with the professors, the majority to decide which was the best.

On the night when the various manuscripts were in the doctor's
study in the little cottage he occupied in the camp, Billy Manners
was a bit restless, not from his literary efforts, but from having
eaten something which greatly disagreed with him.

He occupied a tent with young Smith, and at a late hour awoke for
the third or fourth time, and suddenly heard some one say in a

"It's all right, I've got it!"

Billy thought the voice was Herring's, but was not certain in his
sleepy condition, and with pains gripping his bowels.

"Can you fix it?" somebody asked, and Billy thought this might be
either Holt or Merritt, not being sure which it was, for the same
reason that made him uncertain of the other.

"Fix it?" the first speaker retorted with a low chuckle, "of course
I can fix it, and fix his winning the prize, too."

"There's some mischief going on," thought the young joker. "I
wonder what it is?"

The voices he had heard had come from the next tent, but whether
it was the next on the right or the left he could not tell, not
knowing whether he may have turned in his sleep or not, having a
habit of finding himself in all sorts of queer positions when he awoke.

While he was thinking the matter over, and trying to locate the tent
from which the voices proceeded he fell asleep, his pain having left
him for a time.

He did not know how long it was when he was awakened again, as well
by the pain as by hearing voices.

"That will do first rate," he heard some one say, and then he thought
he detected a light in the tent next to his.

Young Smith was fast asleep, and oblivious of everything, "and Billy
did not think it worth while to arouse him.

"They won't notice the difference?" asked either Merritt or Holt,
Billy was not certain which.

"No, and now to put it back."

"Put what back, I wonder?" said Billy to himself, as he sat up.

"And give the doctor a surprise."

"Huh! he won't be the only one surprised!" growled some one, and
Billy thought it was Herring this time.

"That fellow is up to some mischief," he muttered, "and I must find
out what it is."

Then he jumped out of bed, put on his trousers and shoes, and crept
softly outside.



It was dark in the camp, but Billy, as he stole out of the tent,
could distinguish a dark form moving swiftly down the camp street,
and followed without making any noise, taking care to keep as much
as possible in the shadow.

Unless the person he was following should happen to look around,
there was very little danger of his being seen, but he took all the
precautions he could to avoid being detected.

"It is not a thief," he said to himself, "and it isn't any one who
has designs on one of the boats. He left that tent, but who is he
and what does he want?"

The silent figure, moving rapidly forward, presently left the line
of tents, and made for the cottage occupied by the doctor.

"I wonder if it is the doctor walking in his sleep?" thought Billy.
"That would be a great joke, wouldn't it?"

He thought he saw a flash of light for a moment, but was not sure
of this, and hurried on after the midnight prowler, having just time
to see him enter the window of the doctor's cottage.

"Can it be the doctor after all?" he muttered.

"That would be funny after all. I wish I had brought my light
with me. That's just like me, though, thinking of things when it
is too late." He stepped under the front window of the cottage,
through which he had seen the figure disappear and listened:

"I don't hear anything," he muttered. "I wonder if it could have
been the doctor? Burglars would have no good excuse for coming to
the camp. Who is it anyhow?"

Listening intently, he fancied he could hear some one moving about in
the cottage, and then the steps approached the window.

He was about to step back, but was a little too late in that, as he
had been in thinking of his pocket light.

In another moment some one dropped out of the window, and he was
upset most unceremoniously.

The person, whoever it was, had landed on his head and shoulders, and
he was thrown down in an instant.

"Hello! who is that?" he exclaimed, as he felt himself lying on the
bare and rather damp ground.

Some one was struggling to his feet with a startled exclamation, and
Billy snatched quickly at him, and caught a leg or an arm, he could
not be certain which.

"I've got you now!" he cried, "and you've got to give an account of
yourself, my man!"

The stranger, whoever he was, certainly did give an account of
himself, but not in the manner which Billy meant.

There was a sudden shooting out of a brawny fist, and Billy was taken
between the eyes, and for a moment saw stars.

"Ouch!" he ejaculated, letting go of the person he had seized,

Then somebody rolled him over with a quick move of the foot, and by
the time the unfortunate joker arose his nocturnal combatant was out
of sight, as well as hearing.

"H'm! that's too bad!" sputtered Billy. "I don't know now whether
it was a burglar, a nightmare, or what it was. I think I'd better
go back to bed. Being out in the air may have done me a lot of good,
but I guess I've had enough of it."

With this conclusion he set out upon his return, but when he reached
the line of tents was not certain whether he was in the right one
or not, and began studying the appearance of things as much as he
could by the very uncertain light.

"I wonder if this is our street after all?" he asked himself. "Let
me see, we are the sixth tent from the top. Or is it the seventh?
Six one way and seven the other, I guess. Wait till I see."

Then he went on, counting the tents one by one till he came to the
sixth from the start.

The flap was thrown back, and Billy made up his mind that he was at
the right one and went in.

When he found his cot, however, he found some one on it.

"H'm! that's young J.W., and I must not awaken him," he muttered.

As a natural consequence his own cot must be just opposite Jesse
W.'s, and he turned and went in that direction.

To his surprise he found the other cot occupied also.

"Hello, who is that?" asked Harry Dickson.

"It's me," said Billy. "I guess I must have got in the wrong
tent. Have I been walking in my sleep?"

"How should I know?" laughed Harry. "You are in the wrong tent,
that's all I do know. Arthur and I have this tent. Aren't you
in with young Jesse W. Smith?"

"I thought I was," said Billy dolefully, "but I seem to have got
twisted up a bit to-night. I've had the stomach ache."

"That will twist any one," chuckled Harry, "but really it is no
laughing matter, my boy."

"No, I should say not. Well, I think I had better cut my call short.
Would you kindly show me the way to my own tent?"

This was said in such a comical, and at the same time doleful tone,
that Harry was forced to laugh.

"Why, certainly," he chuckled. "You've got on the wrong street, that
is all. You can go through right here without having to go to the
top or bottom and then down or up."

"Who is on the other side of the street?" asked Billy.

"Jones and Robinson."

"H'm! and they are right back of us. All right. I guess I can find
the way now all right."

Then Billy started to go between two tents so as to reach his own on
the next camp street.

"Look out for---"

"Ouch! what's that?"

Harry was about to warn him to look out for the tent ropes, but Billy
tumbled over them before he could be warned.

"I am having all sorts of fun to-night!" he said in a tone of disgust,
as he picked himself up and made his way through to the other street.

Then he found his own tent and went in, but to make sure, even after
he had found his bed unoccupied, got out his pocket light and turned
it on.

"That's all right," he muttered, "but the next time I go wandering
about the camp of a night without a light I'll stay at home!"

Either the light flashing in young J.W. Smith's face or Billy's
mutterings awoke that young gentleman, and he sat up in bed, asking
in a very drowsy tone:

"Is it time to get up, Billy? What's the matter?"

"Oh, nothing, I've been a bit restless, that's all, but I feel
better now, so go to sleep, J.W., and get a good night's rest."

At that moment a distant church clock struck twelve, and then a
rooster crowed.

"H'm! guess it is time I got to sleep!" grunted Billy, as he tumbled
into bed, put out his light and was soon fast asleep.

In the morning when he and young Smith arose, the latter said to him
in some surprise:

"Why, Billy, what is the matter, what have you been doing? You
have got the blackest eye I ever saw on a boy."

"Me?" cried Billy. "Are you sure? Isn't it dirt? Where should
I have been to get a black eye?"

"I am sure I don't know, but that's what it is all right. Look at
it yourself, Billy, and see if it is not."

There was a little looking glass in the tent, and Billy now surveyed
himself in this, finding that young Smith was right, and that he did
have one beautiful black eye, the other being only slightly discolored.

He knew where he had obtained it, but did not think it necessary to
explain the matter to young Smith.

"I'll wait and see who has the most to say about it," he thought,
"and then I will know who it was that I followed last night, who it
was that gave me this lovely decoration."

When he met the boys, however, all of them had something to say, and
Harry said with a laugh:

"You must have got that when you stumbled over the tent rope last
night, Billy."

"Yes, I guess I did," said Billy, but to himself he remarked that now
there was very little chance of learning the truth.



That day a number of the boys from the camp down the river came up
on the invitation of the Hilltop boys to pay them a visit, and to
compete for various prizes offered by the doctor, and some of the
people of the neighborhood who had gone to the other camp on the
occasion of the regatta.

"Some of our boys took away prizes from you the other day," said
Percival who received the visitors, "and it is only fair that we
should give you a chance to capture something from us."

"We won't from you or Sheldon," replied one of the visitors, "but we
will try to compete with the rest of your boys. There is no use
trying to beat you, however."

"You won't if you don't try, at any rate," said Dick. "We are glad
to see you, at any rate, and we will endeavor to make you enjoy

Percival arranged a program, and at the suggestion of the leader
of the visitors, although he would have liked not to do so, included
Herring in an exhibition of swimming, and a match with four or five
others, boys from both camps.

There was a three-legged race between Billy Manners and Seymour as
one set of three legs, and two of the Rocky Hill boys as the other,
which caused considerable amusement.

Billy's left leg was strapped to his partner's right so that they
had really to run out of step in order to keep step, which seemed a
paradox, but it was really the only way in which they could get
along at all.

"When I put out my right leg do you put out your left," Billy
cautioned his partner, "and put out the tied legs together. Keep
out of step, in fact, and don't try to go too fast. This is the
sort of race where you cannot be too quick if you want to win."

The efforts of the two teams, the funny mistakes they made, the many
narrow escapes from tumbling, and the serious manner in which they
took things, made a lot of laughter, and when finally Billy and his
partner came in first there was a loud applause from every one.

"That makes a lot of fun for the rest of you," said Billy, in a
lugubrious tone, as he rubbed the leg that had been bound to that of
his partner, "but it is not so funny for the legs."

This remark made more laughter and then there was a flat race
between teams from both camps, at least a dozen boys competing,
which caused a good deal of excitement.

The race was won by Herring, Merritt, and two of the boys from the
other camp, these four coming out in the lead and later the final
was to be run, Herring expecting to win it.

In the meantime, he gave an exhibition of swimming, and a little
later swam against two of the Rocky Hill boys.

As they were nearing the end of the course, Herring forging ahead
and rapidly gaining on his opponents, intending to beat at the
finish, one of the other boys was seen to throw up his hands and

Herring would have kept on, claiming that this was only a trick
of the boy to give his mate a chance to win the match, but a loud
shout from the boys on the bank compelled him to stop.

Jack Sheldon happened to be at the shore in his boat, ready to
start in the next event, when the shout arose.

In a moment he started his engine to going, and glided rapidly out
upon the river toward where the boy had gone down.

He was confident that the boy would speedily rise, although not
just where he went down, and he kept his eyes on the water so as
to determine the spot at which he would come up.

He presently detected a certain motion of the water at a point a
little to one side of his course, and in a moment steered his boat
for that place, but not at too great speed.

He had calculated right, for when the boy came up Jack was within
two feet of him and quickly made up the distance, reached out,
caught him under the arms, and, by a dexterous move, lifted him
into the boat.

The boy was nearly exhausted, but upon Jack's speaking cheerily
to him, he revived sufficiently to assist his rescuer, and his
getting into the boat was attended with no accident.

He collapsed when he was in, however, and Jack put for the shore
at a rapid pace, a number of the boys being ready to take the
fainting boy out as they came up the shelving beach.

"Why didn't you go to the boy's aid, Herring?" asked Percival,
as the bully came in. "Couldn't you see that he had a cramp?"

"I have had that trick played on me before," retorted Herring in
a surly tone. "How was I to know that it was real?"

"Our boys do not resort to such tricks?" declared the leader of the
visiting team warmly, "and I do not think that the Hilltop boys in
general can be accused of doing so."

"I don't know what you fellows do," said the other in the same
surly tone, "because I have seen very little of you, but I know
that that trick has been worked on me before, and I was prepared
for anything. That's why I did not go to help him. Why didn't his
own chum do it?"

"You were nearer," said Dick, and then he went away to see how the
other boy was coming along.

Fortunately, he was out of danger, and was doing very well so that
it was not necessary to stop the games, but Herring did not again
have anything to do and shortly left the camp, and went off into
the woods with Holt, leaving Merritt to finish the final of the flat
race, losing to the boys from the other camp.

Jack won the race for motor-boats against a considerable fleet, and
was the most popular boy in camp, not only on this account, but
because of his timely action at the moment of danger whereby a
catastrophe was averted.

"That's only another time when Jack Sheldon has shown his nerve,"
declared Harry warmly. "Why, the very first time I met him he saved
a mighty bad situation by his coolness, and he has been doing
those things ever since. Talk about nerve! Why, he is full of it!"

"Somehow he never seems to lose his head when it is most required,"
added Percival, "although to look at him you would not suppose that
he had such a command over himself. It's when you get to know him
that you find these things out."

"Why, he would as soon jump into a flying machine as get in a
motor-boat," said Billy, "provided there was something to be done.
He is a bird as well as a fish, and just as good at either."

The sports were closed by a tub race, every one being desirous of
seeing Billy Manners in another of these amusing contests.

There were a dozen or more boys in the race, all prepared for a spill
in the water, which seemed to be the inevitable end of such affairs.

Billy had a bathing suit of the Hilltop colors, and said as he got
into his tub:

"This is the great race of the submersibles. Mine is the I.O.U.---99,
the fastest tub on the river. If she were fast I couldn't go---fast
to the bank, I mean."

"She'll be fast on the bottom, at any rate, Billy," said Harry.

Jack, Percival, and a number of the boys who did not usually take
part in such sports, went into this for the sake of making more fun,
but the visitors were not asked to enter, as they had not brought
their bathing suits, and could not very well get along without them.

The tubs started out, the boys propelling them rapidly with their
hands, avoiding collisions when they could, and doing their best to
keep afloat as long as possible.

"You are not going to win this race, Billy," laughed Percival, as he
spun ahead. "You can't take all the prizes, my boy, and I am going
to beat you this time."

"Maybe not!" chuckled Billy, using both hands and making the water
fly. "This is a U.S., not a U-boat, and I'm bound to win."

Jack was full of the spirit of the thing, and pushed the acknowledged
rivals hard, presently passing Percival, and shouting to Billy:

"Look out, my boy, I am coming after you! Don't take in too much
water. It isn't good."

"Come on, Jack!" shouted Billy. "I am not going to the bottom
yet, my-----"

Just then young Smith collided with him, and his tub filled in an
instant, forcing him to swim for the shore in a hurry.

"You have a submarine now, at any rate!" laughed the younger boy, who
went on a few feet farther, and then had to swim for it.

Jack and Percival were now in the lead, and the nearest to the goal,
all the rest having had to swim for it by this time, and there was
considerable excitement.

Both boys were great favorites and the fact of their entering such
a novel contest just for the fun of it, and to please the boys and
their visitors, was admired by everybody.

There was an even chance for each of the boys, but the odds were in
favor of Jack, although Percival was no less liked by the Hilltop

"Keep her up, Jack!" roared forty boys.

"Go ahead, Dick!" shouted as many more.

Percival had to take to the water a second or two ahead of Jack,
who won the race, much to the delight of all the boys, Dick included.



It was the day when the prizes were to be announced in the literary
contest, and all the Hilltop boys were gathered in the pavilion eager
to hear the result of the committee's consultation.

The doctor arose when all were present, and spoke of the contest,
saying that it had brought out the best powers of a number of the
boys and showed that they all had considerable ability when they put
their minds on affair of this sort, and concluding by saying:

"I will now read the poem which I consider the best. In fact, it
is the unanimous opinion of the committee that it is."

Thereupon the doctor began to read the opening lines of the poem,
which were as follows:

"_From the hills of the beautiful Hudson,
Rendered sacred by patriot blood,
Come to us most inspiring traditions,
Swelling on in a glorious flood._"

"_The mighty achievements of Clinton,
Of brave Putnam and---"_

Here Pete Herring suddenly jumped on his feet, and waving a paper
in his hand, cried excitedly:

"That's plagiarism! That thing was not written by any of the
Hilltop boys. It has been taken bodily from a paper published up
the state, which I get every week, and was written by-----"

"Why, those verses were written by Jack Sheldon himself!" cried
Percival, getting up excitedly.

"They were published in the Riverton News, but were unsigned. I know
that Jack wrote them."

"Please be seated, Percival," said the doctor. "Sit down, Herring.
I will give you an opportunity to speak presently. This poem
purports to have been written by Sheldon. Is that so?"

"Yes, sir," said Jack, "or at least what you have read was written
by me. I don't know if the rest was. I cannot tell till I hear it."

"And you say that the lines I have just read were not written by
him?" Dr. Wise asked, turning to Herring.

"No, they were not, they were written by Miss Sadie May, and were
published in a paper up the state. Here it is. I received it this
morning, and was reading it as I came in."

"Will you kindly read the entire poem?" Herring had a good voice
when he wanted to display it, and he now read the lines that the
doctor had read, the poem being about twice as long as the portion
already given.

"The poem I have here contains these lines," said the doctor, who
had been following the manuscript in his hand, "but it is
considerably longer."

"I did not put those verses in the poem that I submitted, sir,"
said Jack. "They had already been published in the News, and I
would not think it right to submit any but entirely new matter.
Will you read the rest of the poem? I can tell if it is mine,
and I have a copy in my desk. If the rest is mine I do not see
how these lines got in it, for I certainly did not put them in."

"The other poem is certainly Jack's," said Percival. "He showed
it to me at the time he wrote it, and I have a copy of the paper
containing it. I would not wonder if other boys had it also."

"I have!" spoke up five or six of the boys, Harry, Arthur and young
Smith among the number.

"Will you kindly let me see the out-of-town paper you have, Herring?"
asked the doctor.

"Certainly," said Herring, taking the paper to the desk.

"When was your poem published, Sheldon?"

"Two weeks ago."

"And this paper is a week old. You say you got it this morning?"
to Herring, who was on his way to his seat.

"Yes, but they sometimes come late or two or three together. A
friend sends them to me."

"Have you the paper containing the poem handy, Percival?" asked
the doctor. "Would you kindly fetch it?"

"Certainly, sir," and Percival left the pavilion, returning in a few
minutes with a copy of the Riverton paper in his hand.

The doctor compared the verses in both and found them to be identical,
saying with a puzzled look:

"The one in the News is the same as this other, but it is not signed.
The other is signed Sadie May. Do you use that as a nom de plume,

"No, sir, I do not," said Jack with a smile.

"Then it strikes me that this other paper has been taking liberties
with the News, not only taking things 'written especially for the
News,' as printed over the poem, but declining to give any credit
to the paper, and putting on the name of another besides the writer.
Reputable newspapers are not supposed to do this."

Many of the boys smiled, and the doctor continued:

"Didn't you recognize this poem when you read it in the out-of-town
paper, Herring?"

"I had never seen it before," Herring answered, and it was noticed
by some of the boys that he seemed a bit restless.

"Then you do not read the Riverton paper?"

"No, sir, I do not."

"I seldom read it myself," the doctor remarked, "or I would have
remembered these verses. They are very clever and breathe the true
spirit of patriotism. They really fit admirably into the rest of
the poem, which I will read. Will you get your copy of the verses,
Sheldon, and let some one compare them?"

"Certainly, sir," and Jack arose and left the place, returning
shortly and handing a copy of his poem to Percival.

Then the doctor read the poem, and Percival showed by his expression
that it was identical with the one in his hand.

"It is the same, sir," he said, "but it does not contain the opening
lines which you read before."

"I don't see how they got in there, Dick," said Jack. "I am sure
that I did not put them in. How could I? It would have been a
most astonishing piece of absent-mindedness. Besides, I have only
the printed copy now."

"However, it happened that the opening lines belong to another
poem," observed the doctor, "both by the same author, it does
not alter the fact that both fit the subject admirably, and might
easily be a part of one production. The metre is the same, and the
subject as well. The first serves excellently as an introduction
to the other."

"I can see that they do, sir,", replied Jack, "but I am certain
that I did not submit both. By the way," with a sudden inspiration,
"may I see the manuscript, sir?"

"If you will come to the desk I shall be pleased to show it to you."

Jack went forward, took the copy of the poem, looked it over carefully
a few moments, and suddenly said:

"The opening lines are not in my handwriting, Doctor. It is similar,
but not the same. These lines have been inserted by some one else.
I never put them in. You may see that they are at the top of the
page, which had a wide margin. All the other pages had, but this
one now has not. The title has been erased and written in at the top.
Some one has tampered with the manuscript. You can see for yourself,

"Yes, but who would do this, Sheldon? You certainly do not accuse
me of doing it? Or any of the professors?"

"Hardly, Doctor," with a smile, "but some one has done it."

"But why should they, Sheldon, especially as both poems are your
own? What reason would any one have to do this? If the inserted
lines belonged to another poem so that you might be accused of
plagiarism, then there would be some color to this argument, but
the whole thing is yours."

"It is strange," said Jack, going back to his seat, all the boys
seeming to be greatly puzzled, and talking to each other about
the matter in low and earnest tones.

"I will now read the poem which took second prize," said the doctor,
and proceeded to read Percival's poem, very much to the latter's
surprise and delight.

"Well, I came somewhere near you, at any rate, Jack," he said, "but
I never expected to come in second."

There were other poems read, one receiving a prize and the best
honorable mention, the boys being thoroughly satisfied with the
awards, and cheering the winners loudly.

Jack was still puzzled about his poem, but he said nothing, having
certain ideas about the matter, but not caring to make them known
at the time, preferring to wait till he had more information.

After the exercises were over the boys went off in little groups of
four or five in different directions.

Percival went with Jack on the river, taking young Smith along, and
when they were out from shore Dick said:

"You have an idea who inserted the verses of your other poem in your
new one, haven't you, Jack?"

"How did Herring happen to hit upon some other verses of mine which
a paper up the state had stolen?" asked Jack.

"He might do that, of course, but how did they get into the poem you
had submitted two days before if he got the paper only this morning?"

"The paper was a week old, Dick."

"Then you think that Herring may have been lying, Jack?" asked Dick

"Other persons besides Herring may have seen the verses in the other
paper, Dick. I cannot prove---now---that Herring wrote them in."

"But you may do so at some other time?"

"That's what he means," said young Smith, "but Jack never says
anything against a fellow unless he is sure of it."

"That's right enough, J.W., and we agree with you."

"Do you remember a night or so ago when Billy Manners had the black
eye?" asked the young fellow suddenly. "He said he must have got
it tripping over a tent rope, and Harry said he got into their
tent by mistake. I asked him what he was doing outside, and at
first he would not tell me, but afterward he said there was some
funny business going on the night before, and he thought that
Herring and Merritt were in it, but he could not tell what it was."

"Well?" asked Percival.

"Then he told me that he had gone to the doctor's cottage, and that
some one got out the window, fell over him and gave him a black eye.
Herring, as he thinks, said that he would fix somebody and keep him
from getting the prize. He told me not to say anything, but-----"

"That's all right, J.W., it's as well you did, for now I think we
will get at the bottom of this affair," said Percival in decided tones.



At the same time that Jack Sheldon, Dick Percival and young Smith
were on the river together, Billy Manners, Arthur Warren and Harry
Dickson were going up the road leading to the Van der Donk house,
although they had no idea of going there.

When they were well away from the camp and there were no other boys
in sight, Billy stopped short suddenly, and said:

"Funny thing about Herring's recognizing that girl's poem in Jack's
verses, wasn't it?"

"Why, I saw those verses two weeks ago, and knew they were Jack's,"
replied Harry.

"Funny about my getting that black eye the other night, too, wasn't
it?" Billy went on.

"Yes, but what has that got to do with-----"

"I'll tell you. That night I woke up and heard some one say in the
next tent to ours: 'it's all right, I've got it,' and somebody else
asked, 'can you fix `t?' and the first fellow answered, 'fix it?
Of course I can fix it, and fix his winning the prize, too.' That's
all I heard then."

"In the next tent?" said Arthur. "Who is in the next tent?"

"Herring and Merritt on one side and Seymour and Blaisdell on the
other. It was not them I heard. It was Herring and Merritt. I was
not sure of it at the time, being half asleep, but from what has
happened since-----"

"Hello!" exclaimed Arthur. "This is getting interesting. Go on to
how you got the black eye, Billy."

"Well, I knew that there was mischief of some sort going on, but
I did not bear any more and fell asleep. Later I woke up again
and heard one of the fellows say, 'That will do first rate,' and
the other one asked, 'They, won't notice the difference?' and the
first one, Herring I am sure, said: 'No, and now to put it back.'
Then they said something about the doctor being surprised, and I
knew that there was some mischief on foot and I jumped out of bed
and went out."

"Well, and what then?" asked Arthur.

"I saw somebody hurrying along, and followed till I came to the
doctor's cottage when I stood just under the open window. I could
hear some one inside and finally came to the window. I was too
late, and the first thing I knew somebody jumped out and upset me.
I grabbed him by the leg, and he gave me a crack in the eye that
made me see stars. Then he got away, and I found myself in your
tent at last instead of my own, and later I fell over the tent rope
and got another bump."

"And what do you make out the fellow was doing in the doctor's
cottage?" asked Harry.

"Putting back the manuscript he had fixed up. He had written in
the lines he thought were some one else's, and then he put it back.
He must have just come from taking it away when I first heard him."

"Things fit in pretty well, Art," said Harry. "Pete Herring has
always had it in for Jack since he first came here. Do you remember
what Jack said to him? 'What was your father?' asked Pete in that
nasty way he has, when Jack told him his father was dead. 'A gentleman,'
said Jack and the emphasis he put on the word just hammered home the
idea that he didn't think Pete was one. It was the neatest thing I
ever heard. Do you remember it?"

"Yes, and I guess Pete hasn't forgotten it either."

"Well, he was pretty sure that Jack would take the prize, as he
generally does, and he fixed up this plot, never supposing that he had
got hold of one of Jack's own poems."

"He always makes some stupid break like that," said Billy, "that
upsets him. It takes a smart fellow to be a rogue, and Pete isn't
quite smart enough. Another time when he tried to get back on Jack
he made some such blunder as this, and gave himself away."

"You didn't say anything this morning?" said Arthur.

"No, for I was thinking things over. When I got to talking about
it with you fellows it all came out straight."

"Well, Jack got the prize anyhow," remarked Harry, "and I don't
suppose there is any use in saying anything about it. If you
didn't actually catch Pete in the act and recognize him, he could
easily say that he was not out of his tent that night, and Merritt
would back him up."

"Yes, of course, but if he knows that I and young Smith and a lot
more of the boys know it he won't put on so many frills after this;"

"No, he won't, but we don't go with him anyhow, and he bullies his
own set into doing just what he wants, so that he never wants for
company. You can't send him to Coventry very well, so I don't know
that it will do much good to let him know that we know all about it."

"It will take down his conceit, Hal," said Arthur, "and that is one
of his biggest assets. A bit of ridicule of his fine plot will take
the starch out of him, and that's what he needs."

"Yes, to be sure."

The boys were in sight of the Van der Donk house by this time, but as
they had no intention of calling they turned around and went back to
the camp where they met Jack and his two friends just coming ashore.

"I have just heard how you got your black eye the other night,
Billy," laughed Jack. "J.W., here, said he was not to tell, but
we excused him under the circumstances. We came to the conclusion
that you got your black eye in trying to stop Herring when he was
getting out of the window of the doctor's cottage after he had put
back the manuscript he had been 'fixing,' as he called it."

"That's what we think," said Harry. "Billy has just been telling
us about it. We laughed at him that night, but he was cute enough
to keep the thing quiet until he found out more about it."

"Harry thinks it won't do any good to expose Herring," said Arthur,
"but I think it will."

"There is no especial need of it," rejoined Jack quietly.. "He
has only made a stupid mistake, and done me no harm whatever, and
it is really not worth while to pay any more attention to it.
I shall not, at any rate."

"I am sorry he is here, anyhow," said Arthur. "He is always making
a lot of trouble. The fellows don't like him and after the other
day when he claimed that he thought the Rocky Hill boys were playing
a trick on him, and would not go to the aid of the one who had the
cramp, not only our boys, but the other fellows are sore on him, and
if there are any more meets they will look out that he is not asked."

"They probably won't have any," added Percival. "They are really
bound to ask the whole Academy, and so they won't ask any one. That
will put an end to these meets, for they won't come up here as long
as they know they will meet Herring. For my part I think he ought
to be exposed, but, of course, it should be as Jack thinks. He is
the one most concerned."

"He may not stay here after this," said Jack.

"He did not care to stay here in the beginning, I understand,
preferring to go to some more lively place, and it is likely that he
will leave after this."

"We'll wait a little and see," answered Percival. "If he goes, that
will settle the matter without any trouble. However, I want to see
what Brooke will have to say about that paper using your poem
without his consent, and putting it under another name."

The boys went to town in Jack's boat, and called at the office of
the News, where they found the editor busy as usual.

Jack had the copy of the other paper with him, and showed it to
the editor, asking him if he knew anything about it.

"I don't exchange with it," Brooke said, "but some one may have seen
the poem in our paper and sent it to him. I'll call him up."

There was a long-distance telephone in the office, and the editor
called up the other editor, and said:

"This is Brooke of the Riverton News. How about your printing a
poem last week written especially for us, and putting another name
to it? The poem was called 'The Message of the Hudson.' You
remember it?"

"Yes. It was written by a young lady stopping at the hotel here,
and given to me."

"Oh, no, it was not. It was written by a young gentleman of the
Hilltop Academy, and written especially for us, and not signed. I
have his original manuscript in the office, and he is here now."

"Well, I am very sorry, but the young lady told me she wrote it,
and, as I thought it was very good, I published it."

"You were right enough there, for it is good, but I have a copyright,
which the young lady should have seen and respected. Will you make
a correction in your next issue?"

"I certainly will, Mr. Brooke, and be glad to. You don't think
that I would have published the verses had I known the truth?"

"No, I hope not. You might call the young lady's attention to
the fact, while you are about it."

"I would do so gladly, but she has left town. She is making a
tour of the towns in the neighborhood."

"And getting up a reputation on other persons' literary efforts,"
laughed Brooke. "Well, send me the paper. Sorry you were fooled
that way. Take the News and you won't be again. Goodbye."

"That is the cheekiest thing I ever heard," laughed Percival, "taking
a thing bodily and claiming it as your own. I should call that
stealing, if I were asked about it."

"That's what it is," replied Brooke, "but it is a very common
practice with some papers. Why, I had an editor show me an article
of my own, and ask me if I did not think it quite clever. One of
his compositors had written it, he said. I said a few things myself."

"I imagine you did!" chuckled Dick. "Well, I am glad we have
settled this matter. We might not have known anything about it
only for a blunder made by a fellow who has not the sense to read
the News every week."

The editor looked puzzled and Percival explained briefly, Brooke
laughing and adding:

"That was very funny, accusing Sheldon of plagiarizing his own stuff.
I never heard anything quite so queer."

"And all on account of his not reading your paper," rejoined Percival
with a wink at Jack. "You should make an editorial of this, Mr.

"Thank you, I think maybe I will," replied the editor, beginning to
peck savagely at his typewriter, and the boys left the office.

When they returned to camp after doing a few errands they were met
at the landing by Billy Manners, who said with a grin:

"Well, it is settled. Pete Herring and Merritt have gone to Saratoga,
so we will not be bothered with them any longer."

"Just as I thought," said Jack.



Dr. Wise had had something to do with the going away of Herring and
Merritt, although the two bullies had already decided that the camp
on the river would not be a very pleasant place for them in view of
what had occurred in the matter of the prize poem.

While the boys were out on the river and in the woods the doctor
called Herring into his study, and looking at him fixedly through
his big black-rimmed spectacles, said slowly:

"Don't you think there are some very peculiar circumstances connected
with your discovery of Sheldon's supposed plagiarism, Herring? It
strikes me that there are."

Herring said nothing, but looked very surly, and the doctor went on.

"Does it not strike you as peculiar that you should have a week old
paper in your pocket at the very time we were to pronounce upon the
poems submitted by the students? And also that you had not noticed
these verses before when they were published in a town paper? You
can imitate different hand writings, can't you?" the doctor suddenly
broke off.

Herring flushed, but said nothing.

"You have never liked Sheldon," said the doctor, going on to another
side of the subject, "and have tried to injure him in many ways.
This is known to all the Hilltop boys. Would it not be natural,
therefore, that you would try to throw discredit on him at this time?"

"It would not do me any good," muttered the other. "I did not
compete for the prize."

"I know you did not, but your dislike of Sheldon might induce you
to endeavor to injure his reputation. Don't you think you went
very clumsily to work about it?"

"You are assuming that I did this thing," growled Herring. "What
proof have you that I did? Suppose I should deny it?"

"Do you?" asked the doctor pointedly.

"There haven't been any direct charges brought against me as yet,
only hints and innuendoes," growled the other. "Sheldon has not
accused me of anything, and he is the one most interested. What
is it to me if a woman up the state stole his poem? I didn't."

"No, you did not, but who inserted the lines claimed by another
person in the manuscript submitted? Were you in the cottage the
other night? Some one was, for my servant heard some one prowling
about, and a little later there was some sort of fracas outside.
How did Manners receive his black eye? Can you tell me that?"

"He got to wandering in his sleep and fell over a tent rope, I
understand. That might give him a black eye."

"Didn't he seize you by the leg and shout that he had got you, and
that you must give an account of yourself?" the doctor asked. "My
servant heard some one say this."

"I was in my tent all night when Manners got his black eye," said
Herring, who did not fancy having this evidence brought suddenly
before him.

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