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The Rover Boys at College by Edward Stratemeyer

Part 3 out of 4

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"Carriage for the college!" called the driver, approaching, and before
he could say anything the Rovers had Tubbs in the turnout.

"Mr. Smith, Mr. Tubbs," said Dick, introducing the students. Smith
bowed, and so did Tubbs. Then the hand of the dude went up to his nose
and stayed there.

"Good-by! See you later!" cried Tom.

"Be careful," warned Sam, and tapped his nose.

"I--I think I'd--ah--rather walk," groaned Tubbs.

"It's too far," answered Dick. Then the carriage rolled away. As it
passed out of sight they saw William Philander with his hand still
tight on his olfactory organ.

"Wonder what Smith will think?" remarked Dick after the three brothers
had had a good laugh over the sight.

"He'll certainly think Tubblets queer," answered Sam.

"Tubby will be a barrel of fun," said Tom. "I'm mighty glad he's come.
It will aid to brighten up our existence considerably."

The Rover boys were soon on their way to where they were to meet the
girls, at a point on the road some distance from Hope Seminary. Soon
the whole crowd was in the big touring car, and away they skimmed over
a road which, if it was not particularly good, was likewise by no
means bad.

"And where are we going?" asked Dora, for that had been kept a secret.

"To a town about twenty miles from here," said Dick. "We are to have
supper there, at the hotel."

"How nice!" came in a chorus from the girls

"I just love automobiling," said Nellie. "I wish I had a car."

"I'll get you one," said Tom, and added in a whisper, "Just wait till
we are settled down We'll have the finest auto rides that--"

"Tom Rover!" cried Nellie, and then blushed and giggled. "Oh, look at
the beautiful autumn leaves!" she added, to change the subject. But a
second later she gave Tom an arch look that meant a good deal. They
seemed to understand each other fully as well as did Dick and Dora.

The ride to Toddville was one long to be remembered. They talked and
sang, and the boys told of the meeting with Tubbs and the joke played,
and this set the girls almost in hysterics, for they were acquainted
with the dude, and knew his peculiarities.

When they arrived at the hotel the spread was almost ready for them,
and by the time they had washed and brushed up all felt rather hungry.
There was a fine bouquet on the table, and in addition a tiny one at
each plate.

"Oh, how nice!" cried Grace.

"Let me pin this on you," said Dora to Dick, and fastened the small
bouquet in his buttonhole. The other girls performed a like service
for Tom and Sam.

The meal was served in a private dining-room, so all felt free to
act as if they were at home. They talked and cracked jokes to their
hearts' content, and the boys told their best stories. They also grew
serious at times, talking of home and their folks.

"Mamma hasn't heard another word from Tad Sobber," said Dora to Dick.

"And I hope he never appears again," answered the oldest Rover.

The meal was about half finished when one of the waiters came to Dick
and said the chauffeur would like to speak to him.

"Very well," answered the oldest Rover, and excusing himself to the
others, he went out into the hallway.

"I've just got a telephone message from Raytown," said the chauffeur.
"My brother has been hurt at a fire there, and they want me. I don't
know what to do. I might send for another man to run the car, but
you'll have to wait until he comes. Would you be willing to do that?"

"I might run the car myself," answered Dick. He could see that the
chauffeur was much worried over the news he had received.

"Could you do that, sir? If you could it would help me out a whole
lot. My brother has a wife and two little children, and she'll be
scared to death if Bill is injured."

"Then go right along. Only see to it that the car is in good working
order," answered Dick. And then he followed the chauffeur to the shed
where the automobile was stored, and had the peculiar working of that
make of car explained to him. As my old readers know, Dick had driven
a car before, and understood very well how to do it.

As there was no particular need for hurrying, and as it promised to be
a fine moonlight night, the Rover boys and their company did not leave
the hotel until nearly eight o'clock. Then Dick lit the lamps of the
machine and ran it around to the piazza, and the others bundled in.

"Are you sure you can run this car, Dick?" asked Dora a bit timidly.

"Oh, yes, Dora. It is of a make that I have run before, only the other
was a five-seat instead of a seven. But this one runs the same way."

"Dick is a born chauffeur," said Sam. "Wait till you see him let the
car out to sixty miles an hour."

"Mercy! I don't want to run as fast as that!" cried Grace.

"We'd all be killed if anything should happen," added Nellie.

"Don't you worry. Dick will crawl along at three miles per," drawled
Tom. "The moonlight is too fine to run fast. Besides, Dora is going to
sit in front with him."

"I'll make the run in about an hour and a half," said Dick, "and that
is fast enough. We don't want to get back too early."

"Might go around the block," suggested Sam.

"Around the block would mean about fifteen miles extra," said Dora,
who knew all about country "blocks."

"I don't know the roads, so I'll keep to the one we came on," answered
Dick. "All ready? Then off we go," he added, and started on low speed,
which he soon changed to second and then high. "This is something
like!" he cried as he settled back with his hands on the wheel.

"Keep your eyes on the road, and not on Dora," cautioned Tom.

"Say another word and I'll drag you from Nellie and make you run the
car," retorted Dick, and then Tom shut up promptly.

Mile after mile was covered, and Dick proved that he could run the big
automobile fully as well as the regular driver. The moon was shining
brightly, so that it was very pleasant. The party sang songs and
enjoyed themselves immensely.

They were still two miles from Ashton when they came to a turn in the
road. Here there were a number of trees, and it was much darker than
it had been. Dick slowed up a trifle and peered ahead.

Suddenly the front lamps of the machine shone down on something in the
roadway that sent back a strange sparkle of light. Dick bent forward
and uttered an exclamation of dismay. He turned off the power and
jammed on both brakes.

"What's the matter?" cried Sam and Tom in a breath, and the girls gave
a scream of fear.

Bang! came a report from under the car.

One of the tires had burst.



"What did you run over?" asked Sam.

"Look for yourself," returned his big brother. "This is an outrage! I
wish I could catch the party responsible for it," he added bitterly.

Dick had stopped the touring car in the midst of a quantity of broken
glass bottles. The glass covered the road from side to side, and had
evidently been put there on purpose.

"Say, do you think that chauffeur had anything to do with this?"
demanded Tom.

"Hardly," answered Dick. "If his story about the fire was not true
he'd know he'd be found out."

"Maybe it was done by some country fellow who is running an auto
repair shop," suggested Sam. "I've heard of such things being
done--when business was dull."

"Well, we'll have to fix the tire, that is all there is to it," said
the oldest Rover. "Might as well get out while we are doing it," he
added to the girls.

"Lucky you stopped when you did," said Tom as he walked around the
machine. "If you hadn't we might have had all four tires busted."

"What a contemptible trick to play," said Dora as she alighted,

"Can you mend the tire?" asked Nellie as she, too, got out, followed
by her sister.

"Oh, yes, we can mend it--or rather put on another," said Dick. "But
we'll examine all the tires first," he added, taking off a lamp for
that purpose.

It was found that each tire had some glass in it, and the bits were
picked out with care. While this was going on Dick suddenly swung
the lamp around so that its rays struck through the trees and bushes
lining the roadway.

"Look! look!" he cried. "There is somebody watching us!"

"The fellow who is guilty," added Sam.

"Catch him!" came from Tom, and he made a quick rush forward.

"Say, we've got to get out of here," came in a low voice from among
the trees. "Run for all you are worth!"

"I told you to get back," said another voice "Come on this way."

A crashing through the brushwood back of the trees followed. Dick held
up the lamp and threw the rays in the direction of the sounds. He and
his brothers caught a glimpse of two boys or men hurrying away.

"Stop, or I'll shoot!" cried Tom, although he had no weapon at his
command. But this cry only made the fleeing ones move the faster.

"Sam, you stay with the girls," said Dick quickly. "Tom and I can go
after those rascals."

"All right, but take care; they may be dangerous," answered the
youngest Rover.

Tom had picked up a good sized stone. Now he hurled it ahead into the
bushes. A cry of alarm followed, but whether he hit anybody or not he
could not till.

Holding the lamp so that it would light up the scene ahead, Dick
and Tom ran through the grove of trees and then into the thicket of
brushwood beyond. They could hear two persons working their way along,
and knew they must be the fellows they were after. Once they caught
sight of the rascals, but the evildoers lost no time in seeking cover
by running for another patch of undergrowth.

"Say, this is fierce!" cried Tom as he stepped into a hole and tumbled

"Well, it's just as bad for those fellows," answered Dick grimly.

"Yes, but I reckon they are not dressed up as we are," Tom had on his
tuxedo and a white tie, and Dick was similarly attired. But over the
dress suit each wore a linen coat, buttoned close up to the neck.

The two youths kept on until, much to their surprise, they came out on
a back road that was almost as good as the highway they had left. Here
was a rail fence, and as they halted at this Tom pointed down the road
a distance.

"Somebody on wheels," he cried. "Turn the light on 'em!"

Dick did as requested, and to their astonishment they beheld two
young fellows on bicycles. They had their heads bent low over the
handlebars, and were streaking along at top speed. Soon a bend of the
road hid them from view.

"Those are the chaps who put that glass in the roadway," said Tom.

"I believe you," answered his brother. "They came up here on their
wheels and walked through the woods to do it. The question is, who are

"They are enemies of ours," was the prompt answer.

"Yes; but how did they know we were coming this way, and in the auto?"

"They might have overheard us talking to Songbird or Stanley."

"Can they be Flockley and Koswell?"

"More likely Koswell and Larkspur. Flockley hasn't the backbone to do
a thing like this, He's too much of a dude."

Dick and Tom took a look around the vicinity. By the light of the
lamp they saw where the others had leaped the fence and mounted their

"They are the guilty ones, I am sure of that," said Dick. "I wish we
had seen their faces."

The youths went back to the auto and told of their adventure. Sam and
the girls listened with interest to what they had to say.

"Those boys must be very wicked," said Nellie. "If we had been running
fast we might have had a serious accident."

"Shall you accuse them of it?" asked Dora.

"I don't know. I'll think it over," answered Dick.

"The cut-up tire has got to be paid for," said Tom. "Whoever is guilty
ought to be made to foot the bill."

While Dick and Sam jacked up the axle of the automobile and put on a
new tire--inner tube and shoe combined--Sam set to work and cleaned up
the roadway, throwing all the glass into the bushes. Then the new tire
was pumped up and tested.

"Now we are all right again," said Dick.

"I am glad we had to mend but one," said Tom. He felt pretty dirty
from the job, but he was not going to tell the girls.

All entered the touring car again, and Dick turned on the power. He
ran slowly at first to test the new tire.

"All O.K.," he announced presently, and then they went spinning along
as before. But the "edge" had been taken off the ride, and they did
not seem as free-hearted and full of fun as they had been before the

It was after ten o'clock when the seminary was reached, and the girls
found one of the under teachers waiting for them.

"Young ladies, you were told to be in at ten," said the teacher
severely. "It is now half after."

"We had an accident," answered Dora, and told what it was.

"You must not stay away later than the time originally allowed," said
the teacher severely. "Remember that after this, please," and then she
dismissed the girls.

When the boys got to the garage where the automobile belonged they
told the man in charge about the chauffeur and of what had happened on
the road. The garage manager could hardly believe the story about the
broken glass.

"You'll have to pay for that tire," he said coldly. "You can't expect
to make me stand the loss."

"I suppose not," answered Dick "You can have the old tire repaired and
send the bill to me. And now I want somebody to take us up to Brill
just as quickly as it can be done. It is getting late."

"I'll get a man right away," said the manager in a relieved tone, and
two minutes later the three Rover boys were being whirled toward the

"Do you think those fellows are back yet?" questioned Sam as they sped
along the road.

"That's what I want to find out," returned Dick. "That is, provided
they came from here,"

They left the car at the entrance to the grounds, and the chauffeur at
once turned around and started back for Ashton.

"We'll take a look around the gymnasium first," said Dick. "That is
where they keep the bicycles and such things."

They hurried in the direction of the gymnasium, and finding the door
unlocked, entered. The building was dark and deserted, for it was now
after eleven o'clock.

"Hello there!" called a voice from a distance, and a watchman
appeared, lantern in hand. "What's wanted?"

"We want to look at the bicycles, Pinkey," answered Dick.

"The bicycles? Ain't goin' for no ride this time o' night, are you?"
asked the watchman.

"No. We want to see if any of them have been used."

"Think somebody has been usin' your machine on the sly?"

To this question the Rovers did not reply, for the reason that they
had no bicycles at Brill. The watchman led the way to the bicycle
room. Here were about twenty bicycles and half a dozen motor cycles,
all belonging to various students.

"Ain't half as many as there used to be," remarked Pinkey. "When the
craze was on we had about a hundred an' fifty. It's all automobiling

The boys looked over the various wheels and felt of the working
parts and the lamps. Presently Sam found a hot lamp and Dick located

"Who do these machines belong to?" asked Dick.

"There's the list," said the watchman, pointing to a written sheet
tacked on the wall "They are No. 15 and No. 9."

The boys looked at the sheet, and read the names of Walter D. Flood
and Andrew W. Crossley, two juniors, whom they knew by sight only.

"They wouldn't play this trick on us," whispered Dick to his brothers.
"They must have loaned their bicycles to others."

"Right you are," answered Tom. "We'll have to question them."

"Do you know where they room?"

"No; but we can find out from the register."

They entered their dormitory and found out that Flood and Crossley
were in the next building, occupying Room 14 together.

"That's luck," said Sam "We won't have to wake up anybody else"

It was against the rules to be prowling around the dormitories so late
at night, so the Rovers had to be cautious in their movements. They
mounted the stairs to the second floor and had to hide in a corner
while a proctor marched past and out of hearing. Then, aided by the
dim light that was burning, they located No. 14

Dick knocked lightly on the door, and receiving no answer, knocked
again. Still there was silence.

"Must be pretty heavy sleepers," murmured Tom. "Try the doorknob."

Dick did so, and found the door locked. Then he knocked again, this
time louder than before.

"You'll knock a long time to wake them up," said a voice behind them,
and turning they saw Frank Holden grinning at them.

"Hello," said Dick softly. "Why, what's wrong?"

"Nobody in that room, that's all," answered the sophomore.

"Don't Flood and Crossley sleep here?" asked Sam.

"Yes, when they are at college, but they got permission to go home
yesterday, and they went, and they won't be back until Monday."

At this Dick whistled softly to himself.

"It's all up, so far as finding out who used the wheels is concerned,"
he said to his brothers. "Whoever took them did so, most likely,
without permission."

"I guess you are right," returned Tom.

"Anything I can do for you?" asked Frank Holden pleasantly.

"Nothing, thank you," replied Dick; and then he and his brothers
withdrew and made their way to their own rooms as silently as
possible. On the way they stopped at the doors of the rooms occupied
by Koswell and Larkspur and listened. The students within were

"No use," said Tom softly. "We'll have to catch them some other
way--if they are guilty," And his brothers agreed with him.



But if Koswell and Larkspur were guilty, they kept very quiet about
it, and the Rover boys were unable to prove anything against them. The
bill for the cut-up tire came to Dick, and he paid it.

The college talk was now largely about football, and one day a notice
was posted that all candidates for admission on the big eleven should
register at the gymnasium.

"I think I'll put my name down," said Tom.

"And I'll do the same," returned Dick, "but I doubt if well get much
of a show, since they know nothing of our playing qualities here."

There were about thirty candidates, including thirteen who had played
on the big team before. But two of these candidates were behind in
then studies, and had to be dropped, by order of the faculty.

"That leaves a full eleven anyway of old players," said Sam. "Not much
hope for you," he added to his brothers.

"They'll do considerable shifting; every college team does," said
Dick; and he was right. After a good deal of scrub work and a general
sizing up of the different candidates, four of the old players were
dropped, while another went to the substitutes' bench.

It was now a question between nine of the new candidates, and after
another tryout Dick was put in as a guard, he having shown an
exceptional fitness for filling that position. Tom got on the
substitutes' bench, which was something, if not much. Then practice
began in earnest, for the college was to play a game against Roxley,
another college, on a Saturday, ten days later.

"I hope you win, Dick," said Sam, "And it's a pity you didn't get on
the gridiron, Tom," he continued.

"Oh, I'll get on, sooner or later," answered Tom with a grin.
"Football is no baby play, and somebody is bound to get hurt."

"You're not wishing that, are you?" asked Songbird.

"No, indeed! But I know how it goes. Haven't I been hurt myself, more
than once?"

The football game was to take place at Brill, on the athletic field,
and the college students were privileged to invite a certain number of
their friends. The Rovers promptly invited Dora, Nellie and Grace, and
it was arranged that Sam should see to it that the girls got there.

"Sam will have as good a time as anybody," said Tom. "He'll have the
three girls all to himself."

"Well, you can't have everything in this world," replied the youngest
Rover with a grin. "I guess football honors will be enough for you
this time."

"If we win," put in Dick. "I understand Roxley has a splendid eleven
this season. They won out at Stanwell yesterday, 24 to 10."

"I hear they are heavier than we are," said Tom. "At least ten pounds
to the man. That is going to count for something."

At that moment William Philander Tubbs came up. He was attired, as
usual, in the height of fashion, and sported a light gold-headed cane.

"For gracious sake, look at Tubby!" exclaimed Sam. "Talk about a
fashion plate!"

"Hello, Billy boy!" called out Tom. "Going to make a social call on
your washerwoman?"

"No. He's going to town to buy a pint of peanuts," said Sam.

"I thought he might be going to a funeral-dressed so soberly," added
Dick, and this caused a general laugh, for Tubbs was attired in a
light gray suit, patent leathers with spats, and a cream-colored
necktie, with gloves to match.

"How do you do?" said William Philander politely, as if he had not
seen the others in the classrooms an hour before. "Pleasant day."

"Looks a bit stormy to me," answered Dick, as he saw several
sophomores eyeing Tubbs angrily. It was against the rule of Brill for
a freshman to carry a cane.

"Stormy, did you say?" repeated the dude in dismay. "Why,
I--ah--thought it very fine, don't you know. Perhaps I had better take
an--ah--umbrella instead of this cane.

"It would be much safer," returned Dick significantly.

"But I--ah--don't see any clouds," went on William Philander, gazing
up into the sky.

"They are coming," cried Tom.

"Stand from under!" called out Sam.

And then the "clouds" did come, although not the kind the dude
anticipated. Six sophomores came up behind Tubbs, and while two caught
him by the arms a third wrenched the gold-headed cane from his grasp.

"Hi! hi! Stop that, I say!" cried William Philander in alarm. "Let me
alone! Give me back my cane!"

"You don't get this cane back, freshie," answered one of the
second-year students.

"You must give it to me! Why, Miss Margaret DeVoe Marlow gave me that
cane last summer, when we were at Newport. I want--"

"No more cane for you, freshie!" was the cry. And then, to Tubbs'
untold horror, one of the sophomores placed the cane across his knee
as if to break it in two.

"Don't you break that cane! Don't you dare to do it!" cried the dude,
and then he commenced to struggle violently, for the cane was very
dear to him, being a birthday gift from one of his warmest lady
friends. In the scuffle which followed William Philander had his
collar and necktie torn from him and his coat was split up the back.

"Say, this is going too far!" cried Dick, and then he raised his
voice: "Freshmen to the rescue!"

"This is none of your affair," growled the sophomore who had led the
attack on Tubbs.

"Don't break that cane!" cried Tom. "If you do somebody will get a
bloody nose!"

"We'll do as we please!" cried several second-year students.

Then Tom and Sam rushed for the cane and got hold of it. Two
sophomores held fast on the other side, and a regular tug-of-war
ensued. In the meantime other sophomores were making life miserable
for Tubbs. They took his hat and used it for a football, and threw the
dude on his back and piled on top of him until he thought his ribs
were going to be stove in.

"What's the row?" The call came from Stanley, and he and Max appeared,
followed by Songbird and several others.

"Attack on Tubblets!" called Tom. "To the rescue, everybody! Save the

And then a crowd of at least twelve students surrounded the cane,
hauling and twisting it this way and that. It was a determined but
good-natured crowd. The sophomores felt they must break the offending
stick into bits, while the freshmen considered it the part of honor to
save the same bit of wood from destruction.

At last Sam saw his chance, and with a quick movement he leaped
directly on the shoulders of one of the second-year students. As the
fellow went down he caught hold of two of his chums to save himself.
This loosened the hold on the cane, and in a twinkling Sam, aided by
Stanley, had it in his possession. He leaped down and started on a run
for the dormitory.

"After him! Get the cane!"

"Don't let him get away with it!"

"Nail him, somebody!"

So the cries rang out. Several sophomores tried to head the youngest
Rover off, but he was too quick for them. He dodged to the right and
the left, and hurled one boy flat. Then he ran around a corner of a
building, mounted the steps to a side door, and disappeared from view.

"Hurrah for Sam Rover!"

"Say, that was as good as a run on the football field!"

"That's the time the sophs got left."

"Hi! Where's my cane?" howled William Philander, gazing around in
perplexity as soon as the second-year students let go of him.

"Sam has it," answered Tom. "And it wasn't broken, either," he added
with pride.

"But--ah--why did he--ah--run away with it?" queried Tubbs innocently.

"To stop the slaughter of the innocents," answered Dick. "He'll give
it back to you later. But don't try to carry it again," went on Dick
in a low voice.

"Just look at me!" moaned William Philander as he gazed at the
wreck of his outfit. "Look at this tie--and it cost me a dollar and
seventy-five cents!"

"Be thankful you weren't killed," answered a sophomore. "Don't you
know better than to carry a cane."

"I--ah--fancy I'll carry a cane if I wish," answered Tubbs with great

"Not around Brill," answered several.

"And--ah--why not?"

"Because you're a freshie, that's why. You can wear the
colors--because of the necktie rush--but you can't carry a cane."

"Oh--ah--so that's it!" cried William Philander, a light breaking in
on him. "But why didn't you come up politely and tell me so, instead
of rushing at me like a--ah--like mad bulls? It was very rude, don't
you know."

"Next time we'll send you a scented note by special liveried
messenger," said one of the second-year students in disgust.

"We'll have it on engraved paper, too," added another.

"Thank you. That will be--ah--better," replied William Philander
calmly. "But look at my suit," he continued, and gave a groan. "I
can't--ah--make any afternoon calls to-day, and I was going to a pink

"Wow! A pink tea, boys!" yelled one of the boys. "Wouldn't that rattle
your back teeth?"

"Never mind, Tubby. The cook will give you a cup of coffee instead,"
said Tom.

"I should think you'd feel blue instead of pink," added Spud Jackson.

"Sew up the coat with a shoestring, and let it go at that," suggested

"If you want to paste that collar fast again I've got a bottle of
glue," said Songbird.

"Now--ah--don't you poke fun at me!" stormed William Philander.
"Haven't I suffered enough already?"

"Why, we're not poking fun; we're weeping," said Tom, and pretended to
wipe his eyes with his handkerchief.

"I am so sorry I could eat real doughnuts," said Dick.

"Maybe you want to send a substitute to that pink tea," came from
Stanley. "You might call on Professor Sharp."

"Or Pinkey, the watchman," said Max. "He'll do it for a quarter,

"I--ah--don't want any substitute," growled William Philander.
"I--ah--think you are--ah--very rude, all of you. I am going back to
my room, that is what I am going to do."

At this Tom began to sing softly:

"Don't be angry, William, darling!
Wipe the raindrops from your eyes.
All your sorrows will be passing
When you're eating Christmas pies!"

"You stop that--you mean thing!" burst out the dude, and then turning,
he almost ran for the dormitory, the laughter of the students ringing
out loudly after him.



"Here's a letter from father--quite an important one, too," said Dick
as he joined his brothers in one of the rooms several days later.

"What about?" questioned Sam, while Tom looked up from a book with

"It's about Tad Sobber and that fortune from Treasure Isle," answered

"What! Has that rascal showed up again?" exclaimed Tom.

"He has; and according to what father says, he is going to make all
the trouble possible for the Stanhopes and the Lanings,"

"That's too bad," said Sam.

"I'll read the letter," went on Dick, and proceeded to do so. In part
the communication ran as follows:

"You wrote that you knew about Sobber's call upon Mrs. Stanhope. Well,
after the girls left for Hope Seminary, Sobber and a lawyer named
Martin Snodd called upon Mr. Laning and then upon me. Sobber was very
bitter, and he wanted to know all about what had been done with the
treasure. He claims that he and his uncle, who is dead, were robbed of
the boxes. Evidently Sobber and the lawyer had talked the matter over
carefully, for the latter intimated that Sobber might settle the case
if the Stanhopes and the Lanings would give him seventy-five per cent.
of the fortune. Mr. Laning did not wish to go to law, and told Sobber
he might be willing to settle for a small amount, say two or three
thousand dollars. But Sobber wouldn't listen to this, and went off
declaring he would have it all.

"'Since that time Martin Snodd has been busy, and he has obtained a
temporary injunction against the Stanhopes and the Lanings, so that
they cannot touch a dollar of the money, which, as you know, is now
in several banks. The matter will now have to await the result of the
case, which will probably be tried in court some months from now.

"'I have learned that Sobber has little or no money, and that Martin
Snodd has taken the case on speculation, Sobber to allow him half of
whatever he gets out of it. Snodd's reputation is anything but good,
so I am afraid he will have a lot of evidence manufactured to order.
I have recommended a firm of first-class lawyers to Mrs. Stanhope and
the Lanings, and they will, of course, fight the matter to the bitter

"This is too bad!" cried Sam after Dick had finished. "So the fortune
is tied up so they can't spend a cent of what's left?"

"They can't touch a cent until the courts decide who the fortune
really belongs to," answered Dick, "and if Sobber should win, the
Stanhopes and the Lanings will have to pay back that which they have
already used."

"Oh, how can Sobber win?" cried Tom. "Father said the Stanhope and
Laning claims were perfectly legal."

"True, Tom; but you can never tell how a case is going to turn out
in court. If this Martin Snodd is a shyster he may have all sorts of
evidence cooked up against our friends. Sobber would most likely
swear to anything, and so would some of the sailors saved from the
_Josephine_. And then there are some of Sid Merrick's other relatives,
who would try to benefit by the case. They'd probably testify in favor
of Sobber, for they wouldn't expect anything from Mrs. Stanhope or the

"But the records of Mr. Stanhope's business deals ought, to be clear,"
said Sam.

"They are not as clear as one would wish, so father told me," answered
Dick. He gave a long sigh. "Too bad! And just when we thought the
Stanhopes and the Lanings could sit down and enjoy all that fortune."

"I wonder if the girls know of this yet?" mused Tom.

"Most likely they have had word from home," answered Dick.

"It will make them feel pretty sore," said Sam.

"Yes, it would make anybody feel sore," answered the oldest Rover.
"We'll have to drive over and see, the first chance we get."

When they met the girls the boys learned that they knew all about the
affair. All were worried, and showed it.

"This will upset mamma very much," said Dora. "I am afraid it will put
her in bed."

"It's too bad, but it can't be helped," said Dick.

"Dick, do you think we ought to buy Sobber off?"

"No. He doesn't deserve a cent of that money."

"Papa says the case will not come up for a long time, the courts are
so crowded with cases," remarked Nellie. "He is about as worried as
anybody, for he has already spent several thousand dollars, and if we
lose he won't know how to pay it back,"

"We'll lend him the cash," said Tom promptly, and for this Nellie gave
him a grateful look.

The boys did their best to cheer up the girls, but their efforts were
not entirely successful. All felt that the coming legal contest would
be a bitter one, and that Tad Sobber and the shyster lawyer who was
aiding him would do all in their power to get possession of the
fortune found on Treasure Isle.

The girls were coming to the football game with Sam, and all said they
trusted Brill would win the contest.

"We are all going to carry Brill flags," said Grace, "and I am going
to root--isn't that what you call it?--as hard as I can."

"Then we'll be sure to win!" cried Dick.

Yet the oldest Rover was by no means confident. The Brill eleven had
heard that their opponents were in the pink of condition. They had
played three games already, and won all of them. Brill had played
against the scrub only, which was hardly a test of what it could do.

The day for the contest dawned clear and bright, and early in the
afternoon the visitors from Roxley, Hope, and other institutions of
learning, as well as from Ashton and other towns, commenced to pour
in. They came on foot, in carriages and automobiles, and on bicycles,
and soon the grandstand and the bleachers were filled to overflowing.
Flags and college colors were in evidence everywhere, and so were
horns and rattles.

While Dick was waiting to catch sight of the carriage containing Sam
and the girls from Hope he saw another turnout approaching. In it were
Mr. Sanderson and his daughter Minnie.

"Why, how do you do, Mr. Rover!" cried the girl pleasantly.

"Very well," answered Dick politely, raising his cap. "And how are

"Oh, fine! I made papa drive me over to see the game. It's going to be
something grand, so I've heard," went on Minnie, and then she added:
"Thought you and your brothers were coming to see us?"

"We--er--we haven't had much time," stammered Dick. He did not care to
add that when he went to see a young lady it was always Dora Stanhope,
and that Tom and Sam called only on Nellie and Grace Laning.

"I've been expecting you," said the girl with a pretty pout.

"Have Dudd Flockley and Jerry Koswell been there since?"

"Yes, both of them came once, and Flockley came after that, but I
refused to see them. Mr. Flockley wished to bring me to see this game,
but I sent word that I was going with papa."

"He ought to know enough to stay away by this time," said Dick. He
could think of no other remark to make.

"Can I get a seat anywhere?" asked Minnie, looking anxiously over in
the direction of the grandstand.

"I think so. Wait, I'll look."

"Hold on," put in Mr. Sanderson. "Just you take Minnie along, Mr.
Rover. I'll go and take care of the hoss. I can stand anywhere and
look on."

Minnie prepared to spring to the ground, and there was nothing to do
but for Dick to assist her. He wondered if Sam was coming with Dora
and the others, but did not see them. Then he led the way through the
crowd to where some seats were reserved.

"I think you'll be able to see nicely from here," he said.

"Oh, I know I shall." She smiled broadly at him. "You are very kind. I
don't know what I should have done if I had been alone--there is such
a jam. Oh, I do hope you win!" And Minnie beamed on Dick in a manner
that made him blush, for he saw that several were watching them.

"I must go now. It is getting late," said Dick after a little more
talk. He turned, to see Sam, Dora and the Laning girls only a few
seats away. Dora was looking fully at Minnie Sanderson with wide open
eyes and a flush mounting to her cheeks.

"Oh, so you've arrived!" cried Dick cheerily, but his voice had a
catch in it. Somehow he felt guilty, he could not tell why.

"Yes, here we are," answered Nellie.

"And what a crowd!" added Grace. Dora said not a word. She had stopped
looking at Minnie and her eyes were directed to nothing at all on the
football field.

"Well, Dora, are you going to wish me success?" asked Dick, bound to
say something.

"Oh, I guess all your lady friends will wish you that," was the answer
in a voice that did not seem like Dora's at all.

"Why, what's the matter?" he asked in a low voice meant only for her


"But there is, Dora."

"You had better go down to the field now. I see the other players are
getting ready."

"But if you are angry at me--"

"Oh, I am not angry, so please leave me alone!" And now Dora turned
still further away, while something like tears began to spring into
her eyes.

Dick drew back, for her tone of voice nettled him. He felt he had done
nothing wrong. He did not see that look in her eyes, or he would have
understood how much she was hurt. He turned, nodded pleasantly to
Nellie and Grace, and hurried from the grandstand.

"Where have you been?" asked Tom when he appeared in the

"Up on the stand, talking to the girls," was Dick's short answer.

"Anything wrong? You look out of sorts."

"No, nothing is wrong," answered the oldest Rover. But he felt that
there was something my much wrong, yet he could not tell Tom.

"I didn't do anything out of the way, I'm sure I didn't," Dick
murmured to himself as he prepared to go out on the gridiron. "Any
gentleman would have found a seat for Miss Sanderson. I suppose Dora
saw me talking to her, and now she imagines all sorts of things. It
isn't fair. Well, I don't care." And Dick whistled to himself, just to
keep up his courage. He did care a great deal.

At last he was ready, and he followed Tom out on the field. The Roxley
team had just come out, and their friends were giving them a royal

"Roxley! Roxley!" they shouted. "They are the boys to win!"

"It's Brill this time!" was the answering rally, and then horns and
rattles added to the din, while banners were waved gaily in the
bracing autumn air.

Dick looked toward the grandstand, trying to single out Dora. Instead,
his eyes met those of Minnie Sanderson, and she waved both her banner
and her handkerchief. He answered the salute, and then turned to look
where Dora and the Lanings were sitting. Nellie and Grace, as well as
Sam, cheered him, but Dora took no notice. But she waved her flag at

This last action made Dick's heart sink, figuratively speaking, to his
shoes. How could a fellow hope to play and win with his girl cutting
him like that? But then of a sudden he shut his teeth hard.

"I'll win even if she doesn't care," he told himself. "I'll not do it
for her, or myself--I'll do it for the honor of Brill!"



It is not my intention to give all the particulars of that game of
football between Brill and Roxley, for the reason that I have many
other things to tell about. Yet I feel that I must tell something of
that great second half, which nobody who saw it will ever forget.

In the first half Roxley had the kick-off, and they played such a
fierce whirlwind game that before the leather had been on the gridiron
eight minutes they scored a touchdown. Then they made another
touchdown, and just before the whistle blew for the end of the first
half one of their players kicked a goal from the field.

And Brill scored nothing.

More than this, the playing was so rough that two of the Brill eleven
and one from Roxley had to retire from the field.

Of course the visitors went wild with joy, and shouted themselves
hoarse. They waved their colors, swung their rattles, and tooted
their horns for fully five minutes, while the silence among the
Brill contingent was so thick it could be "cut with a knife," as Sam
afterward expressed it.

"It's all over," murmured Stanley with a glum look on his face. "Their
eleven this year are too heavy for us."

"We can't meet them in mass play, that's certain," was Dick's comment.
"If we are going to gain anything at all it must be by open work."

"Tom Rover can take Felton's place," came the order from the head of
the team, and Tom at once threw off the blanket he had been using and
got into practice with another new man and some others.

Dick felt sore, physically and mentally. He had been roughly used by
two of the Roxley players, and had made a fumble at a critical moment.
And all during that heartrending first half Dora had not noticed him
at all!

The coach did some plain talking to the players while in the
dressing-room, and told them of where he thought Roxley might be
weak--at the left end.

"Don't mass unless you absolutely have to," were his words of caution.
"They have the weight, but I don't think they have the wind. Keep them
on the jump. I think that is your only chance."

When the whistle blew for the second half the Brill eleven came out on
the gridiron with a "do or die" look on their faces.

"Now pile it into 'em!" cried the coach. "Don't give 'em time to think
about it!"

Whether it was this caution, or the very desperateness of the case,
it would be hard to say, but true it is that Brill went at their
opponents "hammer and tongs" from the very start. They avoided all
wedge work and confined themselves as much as possible to open
playing. More than this, they used a little trick Dick had once played
when on the eleven at Putnam Hall. The ball was passed from right to
left, then to center, and then to left again, and then carried around
the end for a gain of twenty-five yards. Then it was picked up again,
turned back and to the left once more, and forced around the end for
twenty yards more.

"That's the way to do it!" yelled several of the Brill supporters.

"Over with it, while you've got the chance!"

The ball was forced back by sheer weight of Roxley, but only for five
yards. Then the Brill quarter-back got it, sent it over to Toms and in
a twinkling Tom "nursed" it to where he wanted it and kicked a goal
from the field.

"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!"

"That's the way to do it!"

"Now, then, for another!"

"By the great Julius Caesar!" cried Sam. "Isn't that fine?"

"Oh, it was grand!" exclaimed Nellie, and she waved her banner
directly at Tom, and he waved his hand in return. Just then Nellie
felt as if she could go and hug him.

"It certainly was fine," said Grace, "but it's only one goal, and they
have such a big score," she pouted.

"Never mind. We won't be whitewashed, anyway."

"It's a pity they didn't have Tom in the first half," said Dora.
Although her heart was strangely sore, she nevertheless felt proud of
what Tom had accomplished.

Again the two elevens went at it, and now Roxley tried again to force
the center by a rush. But to their surprise Brill shifted to the
left--that one weak spot--and got the ball on a fumble by the Roxley
half-back. There was more quick action by four of the Brill players,
and when the scrimmage came to an end the leather was found just three
yards from the Roxley goal line.

And then came that awful struggle, where muscle met muscle in a strain
that was truly terrific. Roxley was heavier, but its wind was going
fast. Brill held at first, then went ahead--an inch--a foot--a yard.

"Hold 'em! Hold 'em!" was the Roxley cry. But it was not to be. The
yard became two, and then the leather went over with a rush.

"A touchdown! A touchdown for Brill!"

"Now make it a goal!" was the cry, and a goal it became, the Brill
quarter-back doing the kicking.

From that moment on the battle waged with a fury seldom seen on any
gridiron. Brill, from almost certain defeat, commenced to scent a
victory, and went into the play regardless of physical consequences.
Tom had his thumb wrenched and Dick had his ankle skinned, but neither
gave heed to the hurts. Indeed, they never noticed them until the game
was at an end.

And then came Dick's hour of triumph. How he got the ball from the
burly Roxley right guard nobody could exactly tell afterward but get
the ball he did, and rounded two rival players before they knew what
was up. Then down the field he sped, with his enemies yelling like
demons behind him, and his friends on the benches encouraging him to
go on. He saw nothing and heard nothing until on the grandstand he
perceived a slender girlish form arise, wave a banner, and fairly

"Dick! Dick! Run! run! run!"

"It's Dora," he thought. "Dora sees me! She wants me to win!"

It was the last bit of inspiration he needed, and as a Roxley
full-back came thundering up to him he threw the fellow headlong. Then
straight as an arrow from a bow he rushed for the goal line, crossed
it, and sank limply down in front of the grandstand.

"Hurrah for Dick Rover!"

"Say, wasn't that a dandy run?"

"Those brothers can certainly play!"

"It's Brill's game now! Roxley is going to pieces!"

Amid a great din the leather was taken down into the field and the
goal was kicked.

"Want to get out of the game?" Dick was asked as he came down,
breathing heavily.

"No, not unless I'm put out," was the gritty answer.

"You'll not be put out. That was the finest run ever made on this

What had been said about Roxley going to pieces was, in part, true.
Several shifts were made in the players, but this did not aid the
eleven. With twelve minutes more to play, Brill kept up its winning
streak, and secured another touchdown and goal and then a safety. When
the whistle finally blew the ball was well in Roxley's territory.

"Brill wins!"

"Say, wasn't that a great game? All Roxley the first half and all
Brill the second."

"Talk about a team pulling itself together! I never saw anything like
what Brill did in the second half."

"Nor I."

"Those two Rover boys are winders."

So the talk ran on. Of course, Roxley was keenly disappointed, but it
tried not to show it, and sang songs and cheered its opponents. And
Brill cheered the enemy, as is the custom.

Tom and Dick were surrounded by a host of friends, and had to shake
hands over and over again, and had to have their hurts washed and
bound up. Both wanted to get to where Sam and the girls had been left,
but this was impossible for quite a while, and then, much to their
surprise, they found their brother and the others had gone, and Minnie
Sanderson had departed also.

"Wonder where they went to?" questioned Tom. "I told Sam we'd be along
as soon as possible."

To this Dick did not answer. He was thinking deeply. Was Dora still
angry, in spite of how she had cheered him?

"There they are!" cried Tom a few minutes later, as he and Dick walked
toward the river. He had seen Nellie and Grace on a bench in the sun,
surrounded by a number of other visitors. He hurried up to them,
his brother following more slowly. "Where are Dora and Sam?" he
questioned, looking around.

"Dora asked to go back to the seminary," answered Nellie, and looked
sharply at Dick.

"To the seminary?" repeated Tom in wonder. "Why, how's that?"

"She said she had a--headache."

"Is that so? That's too bad! Why didn't she wait for Dick to take her

"I--I don't know, Tom." Nellie lowered her voice, so Dick might not
hear. "Something is wrong between them. I don't know what it is."

"Wrong? Why, how can that be? I didn't hear of anything," Tom now
spoke in a whisper.

"Well, I am sure something is wrong. They acted queer when Dick came
to the grandstand before the game commenced. Dora's heart was not in
the game at all. She was ready to go before it was over."

"By the way, Tom, who was that other girl?" asked Grace pointedly.

"What other girl?"

"The girl Dick was talking to here on the grandstand."

"Oh, that was the farmer's daughter we helped when we first came to
Ashton. Her name is Minnie Sanderson. We told you about her."

"She seems to think a good deal of Dick," was Nellie's comment.

"Why, you don't mean--" Tom looked around, expecting to see Dick close
by. "Hello! Where did he go?" he cried.

"Dick is walking back to the college," said Grace.

"Hi, Dick!" called out Tom to his brother. "Where are you going?"

"Up to my room," answered Dick.

"Yes, but see here--"

"Can't see now. I'll see you later," answered Dick. He waved his cap
and bowed. "Good-by, Nellie! Good-by, Grace!" And then he turned on
his heel and continued on his way to the dormitory building.

"Well, if this doesn't beat the Chinese!" murmured Tom.

"He must be very angry over something," murmured Nellie.

"I think he might have come and shook hands when he said good-by,"
said Grace with a pout.

"I think so myself," answered Tom. "Say, do you think it's that girl?"
he went on, in his usual blunt fashion.

"It must be," answered Nellie, who was equally frank on all occasions.
"I don't know what else it could be."

"But Dick hasn't done anything. I am sure of it. Why, I don't think he
has seen her since we stopped at her home that time."

"Well, he seemed very attentive to her here in the stand," said Grace,
"and if you'll remember, he didn't meet us when we arrived. I am sure
Dora looked for him."

Tom gave a long sigh and shrugged his shoulders.

"This takes the edge off the victory," he murmured. "I thought the six
of us would have a jolly time for the rest of the day."

"It certainly is too bad," answered Nellie. "But I don't think Dora is
to blame."

"Oh, of course a girl will stick up for another girl," retorted Tom,
bound to say something in his brother's defense.

"Tom Rover!" cried Nellie, and then she showed that she was

It was quite a while before Sam came back from seeing Dora to the
seminary. He, too, thought Dora was more to blame than Dick, and this
did not altogether please Grace. As a consequence there was a coldness
all around, and the rest of the afternoon dragged most woefully. Dick
did not return, and at last Sam and Tom saw the Laning girls back to
their school.

"A pretty mess of fish!" muttered Sam on returning to Brill.

"Yes; and where is it going to end?" asked Tom dolefully. It was the
first time there had been such cold feelings all around.



The football eleven celebrated the victory that evening by bonfires
and by something of a feast. Of course Tom and Dick were present, as
were also Sam and a host of others, but it must be confessed that the
Rovers did not enjoy themselves.

"See here, Dick," said Tom after the festivities were over, "what is
this trouble between you and Dora?"

"Don't ask me, ask her," returned Dick shortly. "She knows more about
it than I do."

"She won't say a word," came from Sam "She said she didn't feel well,
that's all; and I know that wasn't true altogether."

"Was it that Minnie Sanderson?" went on Tom.

"If it was, it wasn't my fault," answered Dick.

"But what did you do?" insisted Tom. He was bound to get at the bottom
of the affair.

Thereupon Dick was compelled to relate all that had happened, which,
in truth, was not much.

"And is that all?" asked Sam.


"I don't see why she should be put out over that," said Tom slowly.
"But then girls are queer. The more you know them the less you
understand them."

"Grace and Nellie take Dora's part," said Sam with a deep sigh. "It
has put us all somewhat on the outs."

"I am sorry to hear that," answered Dick, and his tone of voice showed
that he was sincere. "But I don't know what I can do," he added
helplessly. "I don't want to be on the outs with anybody, but if Dora
is bound to turn the cold shoulder to me--" He did not finish.

Following the game with Roxley, Brill played two other games with a
college from Delton and another from Speer. The game with the latter
college resulted in a tie, but Delton was beaten by Brill by a score
of 16 to 10. Tom and Dick played in both games, and won considerable
credit for their work.

During these days the boys did not see the girls, nor did they hear
from them. Thanksgiving was passed at Brill, only a few of the
students going home. Among the number to leave were Dudd Flockley and
Jerry Koswell, and they did not return until a week later.

The dude and his crony, as well as Larkspur, were still down upon the
Rovers, but for the present they kept quiet, the reason being that
they were behind in their lessons and had to work hard to make up. But
all were watching their chances to do the Rover boys some injury on
the quiet.

Dick, Tom and Sam got along well in their studies. The only trouble
they had in the classroom was with Professor Sharp, who made them "toe
the mark" upon every occasion. But they took good care to obey the
rules, so the irascible teacher got no chance to lecture or punish

The boys got a number of letters from home, and these brought news
that the law case Tad Sobber had instituted against the Stanhopes and
the Lanings was being pushed vigorously. Mr. Rover wrote that he felt
certain the shyster lawyer Sobber had on the case was going to present
a great mass of "evidence," no doubt manufactured for the occasion.

"It's a shame!" cried Tom after hearing this. "Such a lawyer ought to
be in prison!"

"The thing of it is to prove he is doing something wrong," answered
Dick. "It is one thing to know the truth and quite another to prove it
in court."

"If the case should be lost the Lanings will be poorer than ever,"
said Sam.

"That is true, Sam. I wish we could do something, but I am afraid we

Fate seemed bound to make matters worse for the Rover boys. On a
clear, cold Saturday afternoon in December the three brothers and
Songbird went out to look for nuts in the woods near Ashton. They had
heard that the seminary girls occasionally visited the woods for that
purpose, and each was secretly hoping to run across Dora and the

It did not take the boys long to reach the woods, and they soon found
a spot where hickory nuts were plentiful. They had brought some bags
along, and were soon hard at work gathering the nuts.

While thus occupied they heard a number of girls coming along. At
first they fancied the newcomers might be from the seminary, but soon
saw that they were natives of the place. They were five in number, and
among them was Minnie Sanderson.

"Why, how do you do?" said Minnie, coming up with a smile on her face.
"How strange to meet out here!" And then she shook hands with each
of the Rovers, and speedily introduced her friends, and the Rovers
introduced Songbird.

Minnie was neatly attired in a brown dress, with a brown hat to match,
and while she did not look anyway "stunning," she made an attractive
appearance. Her friends, too, were pretty, and well dressed, and all
were very jolly.

"It's a nice bunch, all right," murmured Tom to Sam. "I like their
open-hearted way of talking."

"So do I," answered the youngest Rover.

The girls joined the boys in gathering nuts, and so spent an enjoyable
hour roaming through the woods. Often the Rovers and Songbird would
knock down the nuts with sticks and stones and leave the girls to
gather what they wanted.

"We like to have a large quantity of nuts on hand for the winter,"
said Minnie to Dick. "Then, when there is a deep snow on the ground we
can sit before the blazing fire and crack nuts and eat them. You must
come over some time this winter and help," she added.

"Perhaps I will," murmured Dick. He had to admit to himself that
Minnie was very cordial and that she was by no means bad looking. He
did not wonder why Flockley and Koswell were so anxious to call upon

Roaming through the woods caused Songbird to become poetic, and while
they rested in the sunshine, and picked some of the nuts that Tom and
Sam had cracked, he recited some verses composed on the spur of the

"Hark to the silence all around!
The well-trained ear doth hear no sound.
The birds are silent in their nest,
All tired Nature is at rest.
The brook in silence finds its way
From shadows deep to perfect day.
The wind is dead, there is no breeze--"

"To make a fellow cough and sneeze!"

murmured Tom, and gave a loud ker-chew! that set all the girls to

"That isn't right!" declared Songbird half angrily. "There is no
sneeze in this poem,"

"Oh, excuse me. I only thought I'd help you out," answered Tom
soberly. And then the would-be poet continued:

"The wind is dead, there is no breeze
To stir the bushes or the trees.
Full well I know, as here I stand,
That Solitude commands the land!"

"Good! Fine! Immense! Great!" cried Sam enthusiastically. "Hurrah for

"Why, Mr. Powell, you are a real poet," said one of the girls gravely.
And this pleased Songbird greatly.

"You'll have to write in my autograph album," said another, and the
would-be poet readily consented. Later he inscribed a poem in the book
three pages long.

At last it came time to leave the woods, and the boys walked with
the girls toward the road. As they did this they heard the sound of

"Must be a carriage coming," said Dick, and stepped into the roadway
to see, followed by the others in the party. A few seconds later a
turnout rumbled into sight. It was the Hope Seminary carryall, and it
contained half a dozen girls, including Dora, Nellie and Grace.

"Hello! Look there!" cried Tom, and raised his cap, and the other boys
did the same. Dora and her cousins looked at the crowd, and their
faces flushed. They bowed rather stiffly, and then the carryall bowled
on its way.

"Why, those are your friends!" cried Minnie, turning to the Rovers.
"Don't you want to speak to them?"

"It's too late now," answered Dick. He had a curious sinking sensation
in his heart that he could not explain. He looked at his brothers, and
saw that they, too, were out of sorts.

The passing of the carryall put a damper on matters, and the girls
felt it. They talked with the Rovers and Songbird a few minutes longer
and then turned in one direction while the Brill students turned in

"Fine lot of girls," was Songbird's comment. "Very nice, indeed. And
they know how to appreciate poetry, too," he added with satisfaction.

"Oh, yes, they are all right," answered Dick carelessly. Somehow, he
was now sorry he had gone to the woods after nuts.

"I am going to call on all of them some time," went on Songbird. "That
Minnie Sanderson told me she plays the piano, and sings. I am going to
get her to sing a new song I am writing. It goes like this--"

"Excuse me, Songbird; not now," said Dick. "I want to do an extra
lesson." And he hurried off, while Sam and Tom did the same.

Two hours later Dick ran into William Philander Tubbs, who had been
down to town in company with Stanley.

"Had a lovely time, don't you know," drawled William Philander. "While
Stanley posted some letters and addressed some picture postals I did
up the shops. And what do you think? I found a beautiful new maroon
necktie, and it was only a dollar--same kind they would charge one
seventy-five for in the big cities. And I saw a new style of collar,
and some patent-leather pumps that have bows with loose ends, and--"

"Some other time, Billy," interrupted Dick. "I'm in a hurry now."

"Oh, I'm sorry. But, Dick, one other thing. I met Miss Stanhope and
her cousins."

"You did?" And now Dick was willing to listen. "Where?"

"At one of the stores. They were doing some buying, in company with
those chaps you don't like."

"The chaps I don't like! You don't mean--"

Dick paused in wonder.

"I mean that Flockley chap and his chums, Koswell and Larkspur."

"Were Miss Stanhope and the Misses Laning with those fellows?"
demanded the elder Rover.

"They seemed to be. They were buying fruit and candy, and I think
Flockley treated to hot chocolate. The girls seemed glad enough to
see me, but I--ah--didn't want to--ah--break in, you know, so I came

"Where did they go after having the chocolate and candy?"

"I don't know. I didn't see them after that." And there the talk came
to an end, for several other students appeared. Dick walked off in a
thoughtful mood.

"Deeper and deeper!" he told himself, with something like a groan.
Then he hunted up Sam and Tom.

"Going with Flockley and that crowd!" cried Tom. "Not much! I won't
have it!" And he commenced to pace the floor.

"What are you going to do about it?" asked Sam.

"Call on the girls and talk it over--and you and Dick are going with

"I'll not go," declared Dick.

"Neither will I," added Sam.

"Yes, you shall--and to-night," said Tom firmly.



Eight o'clock that evening saw the three Rovers on their way to Hope
Seminary. Tom was the leader, and it had taken a good half hour's
arguing on his part to get Dick and Sam to accompany him.

"You'll make a fool of yourself, and make fools of us, too," was the
way Sam expressed himself.

"Most likely they won't want to see us," was Dick's opinion.

"If they don't want to see us, really and truly, I want to know it,"
answered Tom bluntly. "I don't believe in this dodging around the
bush. There is no sense in it." It had angered him to think Nellie had
been seen in the company of Flockley and his cronies, and he was for
"having it out" without delay.

"Well, you'll have to lead the way," said Dick. "I'm not going to make
a call and have Dora send down word that she can't see me."

"She won't do that," said Tom. "I know her too well."

"Well, you call on Nellie first."

"I'm not afraid," retorted Tom. He was so "worked up" he was willing
to do almost anything.

The nearer the three students got to the seminary the slower they
walked. Even Tom began to realize that he had undertaken what might
prove a very delicate mission.

"I think it would have been better to have sent a letter," suggested
Sam. "Let's go back and write it before we go to bed."

"And put down something in black and white that you'd be sorry for
afterward," grumbled Dick.

At the entrance to the seminary grounds they halted again, but then
Tom caught each brother by the arm and marched them up to the front
door and rang the bell.

A maid answered their summons and led them to a reception-room. A
minute later one of the teachers appeared.

"Why, I thought you young gentlemen knew the young ladies had gone
away," said the teacher after they had mentioned the object of their
visit. "They said they were going to send you a note."

"Gone away!" echoed Dick.

"Yes. The three left for home on the late afternoon train. Mrs.
Stanhope and Mrs. Laning said it was a matter of business. Then you
didn't get their note?"

"We did not," answered Tom.

"That is too bad. I am sure they spoke of sending it. Wait, I will ask
Parks, our messenger, about it."

The teacher left the room, and the Rover boys looked speculatively at
each other.

"They must have been getting ready to leave when Tubbs saw them," said

"And we never knew they were going," added Sam bitterly.

"The matter of business must refer to that Sobber case," said Tom. "I
don't know what else could take them home."

"Maybe they have lost the case and must give the treasure up," said
Sam. "In that case, Mr. Laning would have to take the girls away from
such an expensive place as this."

In a few minutes the lady teacher came back.

"Parks says he took three notes, addressed to Richard, Thomas and
Samuel Rover. He says he went over to Brill this morning with them and
gave them to a man named Filbury."

"Filbury, eh?" said Dick, naming an old man who worked around the
dormitories. "Well, we didn't get them, and I am very sorry."

"So am I, Mr. Rover," said the teacher.

"Do you know how long the young ladies will be gone?"

"They could not tell. They said they would send letters after they
arrived home."

This was all the seminary teacher could tell, and a minute later the
Rovers said good night and left. All hurried from the grounds in deep

"We must find Filbury and see what he did with those letters," said
Tom, and his brothers agreed with him.

When they reached Brill they located the man they were after fixing a
light in one of the halls.

"Where are those letters you got for us this morning, Filbury?" asked
Dick sternly.

"Letters?" asked the old man, who was rather absent minded. "I don't
remember no letters, Mr. Rover."

"I mean the three letters which Parks of Hope Seminary gave you for me
and my brothers."

"Oh, them. I remember now. Let me see. Yes, I got them, and one for
Mr. Flockley, too. I gave him all the letters. He said he'd hand 'em
to you." And apparently satisfied, Filbury resumed his work on the

"When was this?" demanded Sam.

"About eleven o'clock. I hope it's all right. I would have delivered
the letters myself, only I had a lot of work to do."

"It is not all right, and we are going to look into the matter at
once," said Dick; and hurried off with Tom and Sam at his heels.
They went straight to the room occupied by Flockley and Koswell, and
knocked on the door. There was a stir within, a few whispered words,
and then the door was opened.

"What do you want?" asked Jerry Koswell. Flockley was sitting by the
table, reading.

"Flockley, what did you do with those letters you got from Filbury for
us?" demanded Dick, striding into the room.

"Letters?" asked the dude carelessly. "Oh, I put them on the table in
Tom and Sam's room."


"This morning."

"They weren't there after dinner," said Sam.

"Nor after supper, either," added Tom.

"Look here, do you accuse me of stealing your letters?" demanded
Flockley, rising as if in anger.

"No; but we want to know where they are," answered Tom.

"I told you what I did with them. I wouldn't have touched the letters,
only Filbury asked me to do the favor. If they are not on the table
maybe the wind swept them to the floor. Did you look?"


"Then you had better."

"You might have spoken about them, Flockley," said Dick coldly. "Any
other student would have done so."

"Or you could have handed us the letters at lunch," added Sam.

"I am not your hired man!" cried Dudd Flockley. "Next time I'll not
touch the letters at all!" And then he dropped back into his chair and
pretended to read again.

"If we don't find the letters you'll hear from us again," said Dick.
And then he and his brothers retired.

They entered the room occupied by Sam and Tom and lit up. The notes
were not on the table.

"Here they are!" cried Sam, and picked them up from the floor, under
the edge of Tom's bed. They looked rather mussed up, and all of the
Rovers wondered if Flockley had opened and read them.

"I don't think he'd be any too good to do it," muttered Tom as he
opened the note addressed to himself.

It was from Nellie, and rather cool in tone. It said all were
called home on account of the case at court, but did not give any
particulars. At the bottom was mentioned the time of departure from
Hope and also from Ashton. The notes from Dora and Grace contained
about the same information, and Grace added that she wanted Sam to
write to her.

"If we had had these letters this afternoon we might have gone to Hope
instead of nutting," said Tom bitterly.

"They must have expected to see us, either there or at the depot,"
said Sam. "Otherwise they wouldn't have been so particular about
mentioning the time of departure from both places."

"Yes, I guess they expected to see us, or hear from us," said Dick,
and breathed a deep sigh.

"Well, they did see us--when we were with Miss Sanderson and her

"What must they have thought--if they imagined we had received the
letters?" groaned Tom.

"They thought we cut 'em dead," replied Sam. "Isn't this the worst
ever? And all on Flockley's account! I'd like to punch his nose!"

"I'd like to be sure of one thing," said Dick, a hard tone stealing
into his voice. "Did Flockley just happen to be in Ashton when the
girls got there, or did he open and read these letters and then go on
purpose, with Koswell and Larkspur?"

"Say, that's something to think about!" cried Tom. "If he opened the
letters I'd like to make him confess."

"Well, one thing is certain," said Dick after the matter had been
talked over for a while, "we missed a splendid chance to talk matters
over with the girls. It is too bad!" And his face showed his concern.

"And you didn't even want to go to Hope with me," commented Tom, with
a humor he could not repress.

"Wish we had gone yesterday," answered Sam bluntly. He could read
"between the lines" of the note he had received, and knew that Grace
wanted to see him just as much as he wanted to see her.

Sam said he was going to write a letter that night, and finally Tom
and Dick agreed to do the same.

"But I shan't write much," said Dick. "I am not going to put my foot
in it." Nevertheless he wrote a letter of four pages, and then added
a postscript of two pages more. And the communications Sam and Tom
penned were equally long.

"We'll not trust 'em to the college mail," said Tom. "We can take 'em
to the post-office when we go to church to-morrow," And this was done.

After the letters were posted the brothers waited anxiously for
replies, and in the meantime buckled down once more to their studies.
It was now well along in December, and one morning they awoke to find
the ground covered with snow.

"Snowballing to-day!" said Tom with a touch of cheerfulness, and he
was right. That day, after class hours, the students snowballed each
other with a will. The freshmen and the sophomores had a regular
pitched battle, which lasted the best part of an hour. All of the
Rovers took part in the contest, and it served to make them more
cheerful than they had been for some time.

"What's the good of moping?" said Tom. "We are bound to hear from the
girls sooner or later." Yet, as day after day went by, and no letters
came, he felt as downcast as did his brothers.

The boys were to go home for the Christmas holidays, and under
ordinary circumstances they would have felt gay over the prospect. But
now it was different.

"Going to send Dora a Christmas present?" asked Tom of Dick, a few
days before the close of the term.

"I don't know. Are you going to send anything to Nellie?"

"Yes, if you send something to Dora."

"Sam says he is going to send Grace a writing outfit and a book of
postage stamps," went on Dick.

"That's what they all need," growled Tom. "It's a shame! They might at
least have acknowledged our letters."

The boys did not know what to do. Supposing they sent presents to the
girls, and got them back? They held a meeting in Dick's room and asked
Songbird's advice.

"Send them the nicest things you can buy," said the would-be poet. "I
am going to send a young lady a gift--a beautiful autograph album,
with a new poem of mine, sixteen verses in length. It's on 'The Clasp
of a Friendly Hand.' I got the inspiration once when I--er--But never
mind that. It's a dandy poem."

"Who is the album to go to?" asked Tom indifferently.

"Why--er--Minnie Sanderson," answered Songbird innocently. "You see,
we have gotten to be very good friends lately."



The next day the Rover boys went down to Ashton to see what they could
find in the stores. Dick said he wanted to get something nice for his
Aunt Martha, Tom wanted something for his father, and Sam said he
thought Uncle Randolph was deserving of a gift that was worth while.

Yet when they got into the largest store of which the town boasted
all seemed to gravitate naturally to where the pretty things for the
ladies were displayed.

"There's a dandy fan," murmured Tom. "Nellie likes fans very much."

"So does Grace," returned Sam. "Say, what are you going to do?"

"What are you going to do, Sam?"

"I'm going to get one of those fans and send it, along with a box of
bonbons and chocolates," answered the youngest Rover boldly. "And I'm
going to send Mrs. Laning a pair of kid gloves," he added.

"Then I'll send a fan, too," answered Tom, "and I'll send Mrs. Laning
a workbox. I know she'd like one."

In the meantime Dick was looking at some fancy belt buckles and
hatpins. He knew Dora liked such things.

"I'll just take Songbird's advice and get the best I can and send
them," he told himself. And he picked out the best buckle he could
find, and likewise a handsome hatpin, and had them put into a fancy
box, along with a fancy Christmas card, on which he wrote his name.
Then he purchased a five-pound box of candy at the confectioner's
shop, and Tom and Sam did the same.

This was the start, and now that the ice was broken, and the first
plunge taken, the boys walked around from one store to another,
picking up various articles, not alone for the folks at home, but also
for their various friends. And they added a number of other things for
the girls, too.

"It's no worse to send four things than two," was the way Tom
expressed himself.

"Right you are," answered Dick. Now that they had decided to send the
things they all felt better for it.

On the day school closed there was another fall of snow, and the boys
were afraid they would be snowbound. But the train came in, although
rather late, and all piled on board.

At Oak Run, their railroad station, they found Jack Ness, the Rover's
hired man, awaiting them with the big sleigh. Into this they tumbled,
stowing their dress-suit cases in the rear, and then, with a crack
of the whip, they were off over Swift River, and through Dexter's
Corners, on their way to Valley Brook farm.

"And how are the folks, Jack?" asked Sam as they drove along, the
sleighbells jingling merrily in the frosty air.

"Fine, Master Sam, fine," was the hired man's answer.

"And how have you been?"

"Me? Oh, I've been takin' it easy--since Master Tom quit plaguing me."

"Why, I never plague anybody," murmured Tom, with a look of injured
innocence on his round face. He reached out and caught some snow from
a nearby bush. "Say, Jack, what is that on the horse's hind foot?" he
went on.

"Where? I don't see nuthin'," answered the hired man, and leaned over
the dashboard of the turnout to get a better view. As his head went
forward Tom quickly let the snow in his hand fall down the man's neck,
inside his collar.

"Hi! hi! Wow!" spluttered Jack Ness, straightening up and twisting his
shoulders. "Say, what did you put that snow down my back for?"

"Just to keep you from sweating too much, Jack," answered Tom with a

"At your old tricks again," groaned the hired man. "Now, I reckon the
house will be turned upside down till you go back to college."

When the boys got in sight of the big farm house they set up a ringing
shout that quickly brought their father and their uncle and aunt to
the door. And behind these appeared the ebony face of Aleck Pop, the
colored man who was now a fixture of the Rover household.

"Hello, everybody!" cried Tom, making a flying leap from the sleigh
the instant it drew up to the piazza. "Isn't this jolly, though?" And
he rushed to his Aunt Martha and gave her a hug and kiss, and then
shook hands with his father and his Uncle Randolph Dick and Sam were
close behind him, and went through a similar performance.

"My! my! Don't squeeze the breath out of me!" cried Mrs. Rover, as she
beamed with delight "You boys are regular bears!"

"Glad you got through," said their father. "It looks like a heavy

"It does my heart good to see you again," said Uncle Randolph. "I
trust you have profited by your stay at Brill." He was well educated
himself, and thought knowledge the greatest thing in the world.

"Oh, we did profit, Uncle Randolph," answered Tom with mischief
chewing in his eyes. "Dick and I helped to win the greatest football
game you ever heard about."

"Tom Rover!" remonstrated his aunt, while Aleck Pop doubled up with
mirth and disappeared behind a convenient door.

"We brought home good reports," said Sam. "Dick stands second in
the class and Tom stands fifth. That's not so bad in a class of

"And Sam stands third," put in Tom.

"That is splendid!" said Anderson Rover. "I am proud of you!"

"And so am I proud," added Randolph Rover.

"You'll all be great men some time," said their Aunt Martha. "But come
into the sitting-room and take off your things. Supper will be ready
in a little while. But if you want a doughnut beforehand--"

"Hurrah for Aunt Martha's doughnuts!" cried Sam. "I was thinking of
them while riding in the train."

"Well, you shall have all you wish during the holidays," answered his
aunt fondly.

They were soon settled down and relating the particulars of some of
the things that had happened at Brill. None of the boys cared to tell
of the coldness that had sprung up between themselves and the girls.
They simply said they knew the girls had gone home.

"That was an outrage," said Mr. Rover with considerable warmth.

"An outrage?" repeated Dick doubtfully. "What do you mean?"

"Perhaps you didn't hear the report that was circulated at Hope
Seminary concerning them."

"We heard no report, excepting that they had been called home."

"Somebody circulated a story that they were going to school on money
that did not belong to them--that their folks had confiscated a
fortune belonging to others. Grace wrote to her mother that the story
was being whispered about everywhere, and it was making them all

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