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between Fessenden and the fellow’s confederates. Now Peters, the physician and the clergyman are all willing to swear to the statement that Bert Dodge hired Fessenden, Bettrick and Deevers to testify against me. Young Dodge, according to the overheard conversation, met and drilled all three in their parts. That was before the three came here yesterday afternoon, with the Dodges, and supplied you with the affidavits that you now hold. For this service, Dodge is believed to have paid each young loafer the sum of twenty dollars, with a promise of eighty more apiece after they had told their tales in court. That, Mr. Griffin, is the other side of the story. Bert Dodge has deliberately hired three men to swear falsely against me.”

As he finished Dick dropped carelessly back into the chair. He appeared wholly cool. Not so Greg Holmes, whose face, during this recital, had been a study. Now Greg was upon his feet in a flash.

“How long have you known this, old ramrod?” he demanded.

“Dr. Davidson told me this, in the back room at the store, just before we came here,” Prescott replied.

“And you never told me—didn’t even give me a hint?” cried Holmes reproachfully.

“Why, I thought I’d tell Mr. Griffin first,” answered Dick.

“I have seldom heard anything that interested me more,” admitted the lawyer. “Yet, why didn’t you bring Dr. Davidson and Dr. Carter here with you?”

“One good reason,” replied Dick bluntly, “was that I didn’t know anything about you, Mr. Griffin. I am glad to say that I have found you most fair minded. But, not knowing you, I wanted to see you and judge for myself whether there was any chance that you were in league with my enemies. Had I made up my mind that you were anywhere nearly as bad as young Dodge, I would have let this matter get as far as the courts, when I would have overwhelmed you all with charges of perjury, and would have proved my charges at least against Bert Dodge and his three tools.”

“Mr. Prescott, of course I don’t mean to throw any doubt over the truth of what you have just told me. At the same time, as counsel for the Dodges, I shall have to satisfy myself on these particulars.

“Do you know Dr. Carter’s voice well?” asked Prescott.

“Very well.”

“Then kindly allow me to use your telephone.”

Pulling the desk instrument toward him, and hailing central, Dick called for “33 Main.”

“Hello, is Dr. Carter in,” called Dick after a moment. “This is Prescott. Do you recognize my voice? Very good, sir; will you now talk with Lawyer Griffin, who is beside me, and tell him what you heard last night in the room of one Peters? Here is Dr. Cater waiting for you Mr. Griffin.”

Lawyer and physician talked together for some minutes, the attorney’s excitement increasing. Greg, in the meantime, was executing a silent jig over near the door of the room.

“Now, you can call up Dr. Davidson,” suggested Cadet Prescott.

“I don’t need to,” replied the lawyer. “Dr. Carter has substantiated all that you told me, and has informed me that Dr. Davidson is ready to be called upon for the same information. Instead, I shall call upon some one else.”

An instant later the attorney called up another number.

“Hello,” he said presently. “Connect me with Mr. Dodge. Hello, is that you, Mr. Dodge? Can you reach your son readily? Oh, he is there at the bank with you, is he? This is Mr. Griffin. I shall expect you both at my office within five minutes. Yes; about the Prescott matter. No; I can’t tell you over the ‘phone. Both of you come here. Goodbye!”

As though to wind up the conversation abruptly, Lawyer Griffin rang off and hung the receiver on its hook.

“Now, we’ll wait and here the other side,” remarked the lawyer grimly.

“If the other side dares make its voice heard!” laughed Cadet Dick Prescott.

There being now no need of silence, Greg Holmes relieved himself of some noisy enthusiasm.

CHAPTER VIII

A FATHER’S JUST WRATH STRIKES

A very few minutes later a knock sounded at the door.

Then Bert Dodge entered very abruptly, his tongue starting with the turning off the knob.

“Well, have you seen the mucker Prescott?” called Bert airily. “Was he scared to—–“

Here Bert caught sight of the two West Pointers and stopped short, while his father entered behind him.

“No,” broke in Holmes, dryly, “Prescott wasn’t even scared silly.”

“Oh, you shut up, you two!” growled Bert. “Mr. Griffin, what are these pieces of airy nothing doing here?”

“That advice about preserving silence will very well apply to you, also, Mr. Bert Dodge,” rejoined the lawyer. “Take a seat in the background, please. I want to talk with your father.”

“What’s the matters” demanded Bert, not taking a seat, but advancing and leaning against the top of the lawyer’s desk. “Has this fellow won you over with a lot of his smooth talk?”

“Mr. Griffin I warned you that Prescott is a most accomplished liar.”

Instead of flaring up at this insult, Dick merely turned to exchange amused smiles with Holmes.

At this moment the attorney was paying no heed to Bert, but was placing a chair courteously for the elder Dodge.

“Now, Mr. Dodge,” began the lawyer, speaking rapidly and paying heed only to the father, “I am very glad that I insisted on seeing Mr. Prescott before going further in the case that you placed with me. I expected only a denial. I have, instead, been astounded. Now, listen, sir, while I tell you the all but incredible story.”

Thereupon Lawyer Griffin launched into a swift narration of the story told by Dick Prescott and Dr. Carter.

As soon as Bert Dodge began to get wind of what it was all about, his face became ghastly.

“Stop right here, Griffin!” commanded Bert. “This is all a tissue of lies that have been sprung upon you.”

“Silence, young man!” commanded the lawyer sternly. “This talk is between your father and myself. As for you, young man, remember to what you have sworn, and bear in mind that the upshot of it all for you may yet be a term of years in the penitentiary.”

As the lawyer went on talking there could not be a moment’s suspicion that the elder Dodge had been concerned in the plot of perjury. Mr. Dodge had been guilty only of believing his son and of sharing the latter’s feigned indignation.

“Now, Dr. Carter has confirmed all of this over the ‘phone, and he assured me that Dr. Davidson stood ready to add his testimony,” wound up Lawyer Griffin. “Mr. Dodge, what is to be done?”

“Why,” stammered Bert’s father, “we—we shall have to drop the whole case.”

“What?” raged Bert, his face going purple with anger. “Drop the case on any such stacked-up mess of lies? Father, are you losing all the nerve you ever had?”

“Young man,” broke in Lawyer Griffin severely, “you do not appear to have the slightest idea of values. I do not for a moment imagine that your father will go any further in this matter. If he does, it will be necessary for him to get another attorney.”

“Why!” challenged Bert, glaring at the lawyer.

“Because the outcome of this case, if it reached court, would be your indictment for conspiracy and the subornation of perjury. The latter is one of the most heinous crimes known to the law.”

“But I tell you this is all a tissue of lies trumped up against me!” stormed young Dodge.

While this conversation was going on Dick and Greg remained silent in their seats. They had no need to talk. They were enjoying it all too much just as it was going.

“Do you expect, Dodge, that a court and a jury would take your unsupported word against the testimony of two such men as Dr. Carter and the Rev. Mr. Davidson? Do you imagine, for a moment, that Fessenden and your other tools wouldn’t become utterly frightened and confess to everything against you? Do you imagine that anything you could do or say would save you, Dodge, from going to the penitentiary for ten or fifteen years?”

The attorney’s cool, incisive manner brought Bert Dodge to his senses.

A deathly fear assailed him. His knees began to shake.

“The case is too well fixed against me,” he replied hoarsely. “Ye—es, I guess you had better drop it all.”

The elder Dodge now sprang to his feet.

“Drop it, you young scoundrel?” he yelled at his son. “Why did you ever drag me into any such infamous piece of business? I went into this believing that you told me the truth.”

“I—I did, sir,” stammered Bert.

“Bah, you are a perjurer, you young villain!” raged his father. “Griffin, this matter cannot go a step further. You will destroy those miserable affidavits before my eyes!”

“I am sorry, Mr. Dodge,” replied the lawyer, “but I am not at liberty to do that.”

“You can’t destroy the affidavits?” howled Bert, his voice breaking. “Why not! Aren’t you our lawyer?”

“I am even more an officer of the court than I am anyone’s attorney,” replied Mr. Griffin gravely. “A lawyer has no right to conceal a crime when he knows one has been committed not even to save his own clients.”

“Wh—what do you propose to do, Griffins?” demanded the elder Dodge, shaking.

“Why, I hope to save your worthless son from prosecution, Mr. Dodge,” returned the lawyer. “But a crime has been committed, in that your son procured others to swear to false affidavits True, the affidavits have not yet been presented in court, and on that I base my hope that the matter will not have to go further. But I feel in honor bound to submit the facts to the district attorney, and to be governed by his instructions.”

“You are going to try to send me to jail?” gasped Dodge, clutching at the ledge of a bookcase to save himself from falling.

“I am going to try to persuade the district attorney to let the matter drop,” replied Griffin. “It will be the district attorney’s decision that will govern the matter.”

“Then what are you doing fooling around here, governor?” screamed Bert hoarsely. “Don’t you see that it’s your job to hurry to the district attorney as fast as you can go? Use your money, your political influence—“

In his extreme terror young Dodge seemed to forget that he was providing amusement for his enemies.

But Mr. Dodge cut in quickly. Advancing a step or two, he brought his uplifted stick down sharply, once, across his son’s shoulders.

With a snarl Bert wheeled, crouching as though to spring upon his father.

Prescott and Holmes jumped up, prepared to step in. But the banker was not cowed by the evil look in his son’s face.

“Begone, you young villain!” quivered the old man. “Get out of my sight. Never let me see you again. Don’t dare to go to what was once your home, or I’ll have you thrown out. I disown you! You are no blood of mine!”

“I guess you forget,” sneered Bert cunningly that you are responsible for me, and that you will have to pay my bills.”

“Not a penny of them,” retorted the banker sternly. “It is you who forget that you reached the age of twenty-one just three days ago. You are your own master, sir—and your own provider! Now, go—and never again let any of your family hear from the scoundrel who has disgraced us all.”

Vainly Bert opened his mouth, trying to speak. The words would not come. His father again advancing threateningly, Bert edged towards the door.

“This looks like your fun, as it is your work, Dick Prescott!” snarled the wretch. “Wait! If it takes me ten years I’ll make you suffer for this!”

Crash! Mr. Dodge had again raised his cane to strike the young man. But Bert had pulled open the door, closing it after him as he fled, and only the plate-glass panel stopped the fall of the cane.

“I’ll pay for the damage done to your door Griffin,” promised the banker.

“Don’t worry about that, sir,” nodded the attorney.

“I feel that we’ve been here long enough, gentlemen,” broke in Cadet Prescott, as he and Greg rose. “Mr. Dodge, I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am that this scene was necessary.”

“I feel sure of your sympathy. Prescott, and of yours, too, Holmes. Thank you both,” replied the banker. “You are both fine, manly young fellows. I wish I had been favored with a son like either of you. Now, I have no son!”

Dick and Greg got away as unobtrusively as they could.

Bert Dodge did try to go home to see his Mother, but, by his father’s orders, he was put out of the house by two men servants.

Immediately after that Bert vanished from Gridley. At first he tried the effect of writing whining, penitent, begging letters home. Receiving no replies, Bert finally drifted off into the space of the wide world.

Later on in the course of these chronicles he may reappear.

Lawyer Griffin consulted with the district attorney, and it was decided not to make perjury cases out of the affair. Fessenden, Bettrick and Deevers, however, were all three warned and the district attorney filed away the lying affidavits, in case a use for them should ever come up.

By degrees the story of Bert Dodge’s latest infamy leaked out. The news, however, did not come through any word spread by either of our young West Pointers.

CHAPTER IX

BACK TO THE GOOD, GRAY LIFE

A Glorious summer it was for the two second classman on furlough!

Yet, like all other things, good and otherwise, it had to come to an end.

One morning near the end of August, Dick and Greg, attended by a numerous concourse of friends, went to the railway station.

The proud parents were there, of course, and so were the parents of Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell, the latter happy in the knowledge that their boys would soon be home for the brief September leave from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.

“Why, you haven’t seen Dave since you youngsters all left home, have you, Dick?” asked Mr. Darrin.

“No, sir. Greg and I hoped to, this last summer, when the Army baseball nine went down to Annapolis and defeated the Navy nine,” Dick replied. “But both Greg and I found ourselves so hard pressed in our academic work that we didn’t dare go, but remained behind and boned hard at our studies.”

“You don’t forget the fact that the Army nine did defeat the Navy nine, do you?” laughed Dan’s father.

“No, sir; of course not,” smiled Dick. “The Army and Navy teams exist mainly for the purpose of beating each other. I am glad to say that the Army manages to win more than its share of games.”

“That’s because the West Point boys average a little older than the Annapolis boys,” broke in Mrs. Dalzell pleasantly, though warmly. Even she, as the mother of a midshipman, felt her share in the rivalry between the nation’s two great service schools.

“You will bring Laura and Belle up to some of the hops this winter, I hope, Mrs. Bentley,” Dick begged.

“Oh, she’s pledged to take us to West Point, and to Annapolis,” broke in Belle Meade, smiling. “You don’t think we are going to lose the hops at either Academy while we have friends there, do you?”

“I should hope not,” Dick replied earnestly. Five minutes before train time Leonard Cameron appeared. He greeted the two cadets with great cordiality.

“I couldn’t help coming to see you off, Prescott,” Cameron found chance to say in an undertone. “Laura is so deeply interested in your success that I, too, am longing to hear every possible good word as to your future career. Laura couldn’t be more interested in you if she were truly your sister.”

That was the sting that made Dick’s going away bitter. Cameron’s manner was so easy and assured that Dick saw the crumbling of one of his more than half built castles in Spain.

The train carried the two cadets away. The parents of both young men had seen to it that the cadets went away in a parlor car. Dick and Greg, after leaving Gridley behind, swung their chairs around so that, while they looked out of the window, their heads were close together.

“Cameron had a nerve to show up, didn’t hey” demanded Greg indignantly.

“I don’t know,” Dick replied very quietly. “He tried to be very kind and cordial.”

“Shucks!” uttered Greg, disgustedly. “Doesn’t he know that Laura Bentley is your girl, and that he’s only a b.j. hanger-on there?”

“I’m afraid Laura herself doesn’t know that she’s my girl,” sighed Dick.

Cadet Holmes swung about so that he could gaze straight into his comrade’s face.

“Dick, didn’t you tell her?” demanded Greg aghast.

“You have to do something more than tell a girl,” smiled Prescott patiently, though wearily. “You have to ask her.”

“Well, thunder and bomb-shells, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t, Greg.”

“Oh, pardon me, old ramrod. I don’t mean to pry into your affairs—–“

“I know you don’t.”

“—–but I thought you were deeply interested in Laura Bentley.”

“I think I am, Greg. In fact, I’m sure I am.”

“Then why—–“

“Greg, I’m not yet sure of my place in life. I’m not going to ask any girl to tie her future up in my plans until I feel that I have a fair start in life.”

“Army officer’s pay is enough for any sensible girl.”

“I’m not an Army officer yet.”

“Oh, rot! You’re going to be! You’re half way through West Point now. You’re past the harder half, and you stand well enough in your class. You’re sure to graduate and get into the Army.”

“Greg, within ten days of getting back to West Point I may be injured in some cavalry, or other drill, and become useless for life. A cadet hurt even in the line of duty gets no pension, no retired pay. If he is a wreck, he is merely shipped home for his folks to take care of him. When I graduate, and get my commission in the Army, it will be different. Then I’ll have a salary guaranteed me for life; if I am injured, and become useless in the Army, I still have retired pay enough to take care of a family. If I am killed my wife could draw nearly pension enough to support her. All these things belong to the Army officer and his wife. But the cadet has nothing coming to him if he fails, for any reason, to get through.”

“Well, cadets don’t marry,” observed Greg. “They’re forbidden to. But a cadet can have things understood with his girl. Then, if he fails to make the Army, or to get something else suitable in life, he can release the girl if she wants to be released.”

“But if a girl considers herself as good as engaged to a cadet she lets other good chances go by, and the cadet may never be able to make good,” objected Dick.

“It’s good of you to be so thoughtful for that fellow Cameron,” jibed Greg.

“I’m not thoughtful for him, but for Laura,” retorted Prescott staunchly.

“Confound it,” growled Greg to himself, “Dick is such a stickler for the girl’s rights that he is likely to break her heart. Hanged if I don’t try to set Laura straight myself, when I see her! No; I won’t either, though. Dick would never forgive me if I butted into his own dearest affairs.”

“I know, Greg,” Prescott pursued presently, “that some of the fellows do become engaged to, girls while still at the Military Academy. But becoming engaged to marry a girl is a mighty serious thing.”

“Then I’m in for it,” muttered Holmes soberly. “I’m engaged to the third girl.”

“What?” gasped his chum incredulously. “You engaged to three girls?”

“Oh, only one at a time,” Greg assured his comrade. “The first two girls, each in turn, asked to be released, after we’d been engaged for a while. So, now, I’m engaged to my third girl.”

Holmes spoke seriously, and with evident truth. Dick leaned back, staring curiously at his chum, though he did not ask the latest girl’s name.

“At least, I was engaged, at latest accounts,” Greg went on, after a few moments. “By the time I reach West Point, just as likely as not, I’ll get a letter asking me to consider the matter as past history only.”

“Greg, Greg!” muttered Prescott, shaking his head gravely. “I’m afraid you’re not very constant.

“I?” retorted Cadet Holmes indignantly. “Dick, you’re harboring the wrong idea. It’s the girls who are not constant. Though they were all nice little bits of femininity,” Greg added reminiscently in a tone of regret.

Late in the afternoon the chums arrived in New York. After putting up at a hotel they had time for dinner and a stroll.

“Somehow, I don’t feel very sporty tonight,” sighed Cadet Holmes, as they waited, at table, for the evening meal to be served. “Yet, in a week, I suppose I’ll be kicking myself. For tomorrow we’re due to get back into our gray habits and re-enter the military convent life up the river.”

After a late supper and a short night’s rest, the two young men found themselves, the morning following, on a steamboat bound up the Hudson River.

“After all these weeks of good times,” muttered Greg, “it doesn’t seem quite real.”

“It will, in a couple of hours,” predicted Prescott, smiling. “And, now that home is so far behind, I’m really delighted to think that I’ll soon be back in gray old barracks, donning the same old gray uniform.”

“Oh, it will be all right. There are a lot of fellows that I’m eager to see” Greg admitted.

“Is the—er—er—–“

“Out with it!”

“Is Miss Number Three likely to be at the Point when we get there?”

“I don’t know,” Holmes admitted. “I haven’t heard from her in four days. I hope she’ll be there.”

All in due time the two cadets worked their way forward on the boat. Now they encountered nearly a dozen other members of their class, all returning. Yet none of the dozen were among their warmest friends in class life.

“Look, fellows!” cried Dick at last. “There’s just a glimpse of some of the high spots of West Point through the trees!”

It was all well enough for the cadets to claim that the life at West Point was a fearfully hard and dull grind, and that they were little better than cadet slaves. As they picked out, one after another, familiar glimpses of West Point, these young men became mostly silent, though their eyes gleamed eagerly. They loved the good old gray academy! They rejoiced to find themselves so near, and going back!

Then at last the boat touched at the pier. Some moments before the gangplank was run aboard from the wharf everyone of the more than dozen cadets had already leaped ashore.

“Whoop!” yelled Greg, tossing his hat in the air.

“Mr. Holmes!” growled Cadet Dennison with mock severity. “Report yourself for unmilitary enthusiasm!”

“Yes, sir,” responded Greg meekly, saluting: his fellow classman.

“Fall in!” yelled Dennison.

“Where?” inquired Dick innocently. “In the Hudson? I decline, sir, to obey an illegal order.”

Amid a good deal of laughter the returning cadets trudged across the road, over the railroad tracks and on up the steep slope that led to the administration building.

Across the inner court of the administration building walked the second classman briskly, and on up the stairs. There was no more laughter. Even the talking was in most subdued tones, for these young men were going back to duty—military duty at that!

In one of the outer offices on the second floor the cadets left their suit cases.

Dick, being one of those in the lead, stepped into the adjutant’s room, brought his heels together, and in the position of the soldier, saluted.

“Sir, I report my return to duty at the Military Academy.”

“Very good, Mr. Prescott. Report to the special officer in charge at the cadet guard house, and receive your assignment to your room. The special officer in charge will give you any further immediate orders that may be necessary.”

Again saluting, Prescott wheeled with military precision and left the adjutant’s office. As he was going out Dick was passed by Greg coming in.

For a moment Prescott waited outside until Greg had joined him.

“It would be a howling mess if we didn’t have a room together this year, old ramrod, wouldn’t it?” muttered Cadet Holmes as soon as they were clear of the administration building.

“Oh, that isn’t one of our likely troubles,” Dick answered. “We asked for a room together, and second classmen generally have what we want in that line.”

On reporting to the special officer in charge, the two chums found that they had been given quarters together. Moreover, their room was one of the best assigned to second classman, and looked out over the plain and parade ground.

“We ought to be jolly happy in here this year, old ramrod,” predicted Greg. “Especially as we haven’t any fellow like Dodge in the class.”

“Nor in the whole Military Academy,” rejoined Prescott.

“I hope not,” murmured Cadet Holmes thoughtfully.

Boys at boarding school would have needed at least the rest of the day to get themselves to rights. Trained to soldierly habits, our two cadets had quickly dropped the furlough life. Citizen clothes, in dress-suit cases, were deposited at the cadet store, and the two cadets, back in “spooniest” white duck trousers and gray fatigue blouses, were soon speeding along the roads that led across the plain to where the other three classes were having their last day of summer encampment.

“Greetings, old ramrod!” called a low but pleasant voice, as First Classman Brayton hurried up, grasping Dick’s hand. Then Greg came in for a hearty shake. Brayton, who had been a cadet corporal when the two boys from Gridley were plebes, now wore the imposing chevrons of a cadet captain.

“My, but I’m glad to see you two idlers return to a fair measure of work,” laughed another voice, and Spurlock, whom Dick, as a plebe, had thrashed, pushed his right hand into the ceremonies. Spurlock, too, was a cadet captain. Other first classmen crowded in for these returning furlough men were popular throughout the upper classes.

“May a wee, small voice make itself heard?”

Dick and Greg half wheeled to meet another comer. Little Briggs, a trifle less plump and correspondingly longer, stood before them, grinning almost sheepishly.

“Hullo, Briggsy!” cried Prescott, extending his hand, which the third classman took with unusual warmth.

“Being no longer a plebe, I enjoy the great pleasure able to address an upper classman before I’m addressed,” went on Briggs.

“That’s so, Briggsy,” affirmed Greg.

Before going off on their furlough both had been compelled to regard Briggs as an unfortunate plebe, with whom it was desirable to have as little to do as possible. Then it had been “Mr. Briggs”; now it was “Briggsy”; that much had the round little fellow gained by stepping up from the fourth class to the third.

“Have you found any b.j. beasts among the new plebes, Briggsy!” Dick wanted to know.

“Plenty of ’em,” responded Briggs with enthusiasm.

“Any that were b.j.-er than Mr. Briggs?” inquired Greg.

A shade annoyance crossed the new yearling’s face.

“I never was b.j., was I?” he murmured.

“Think!” returned Dick dryly. “However, you’re Briggs, now, with all my heart—no longer ‘mister.'”

“We’ve had a busy, busy summer,” murmured Briggs, “licking the new beasts into shape.”

Greg laughed heartily at memory of some of the hazing stunts through which he had once helped to rush Briggs.

Furlong, Griffin and Dobbs, of the second class, hurried over to greet Prescott and Holmes.

“Where’s Anstey?” Dick inquired.

“Not back yet, I’m sure,” replied Briggs.

“Oh, well, he’ll be back before the day’s over,” Dick went on confidently. “That youth from Virginia is much too good a soldier to fail to report on time.”

Soon after the instruction parties of the first, third and fourth classes came marching back into camp. It seemed, indeed, like old times, to see the fellows all rushing off to their tents to clean up and change uniforms before the dinner call sounded.

Then the call for dinner formation came. Dick and Greg fell in, in their old company, and marched away at the old, swinging soldier tread.

Most of the afternoon the returned furlough men spent in their new rooms. During that afternoon Anstey pounced in upon them. The Virginian said little, as usual, but the length and fervor of the handclasp that he gave Dick and Greg was enough.

With evening came the color-line entertainment. Dick and Anstey walked on the outskirts of the throng of visitors.

Cadet Holmes, having discovered that the especial girl to whom he was at present betrothed was not at West Point, played the casual gallant for a fair cousin of Second Classman McDermott.

The night went out in a blaze of color, illumination and fireworks just before taps. In the morning the cadet battalion marched back into barracks, and on the morning after that the daily grind began in the grim old academic building.

Cadets Prescott and Holmes were thus fairly started on their third year at West Point. There was a tremendous grind ahead of them, the very grind was becoming vastly easier, two years of the hard life at West Point taught them how to study.

CHAPTER X

THE SCHEME OF THE TURNBACK

“I must be getting back to my room,” murmured Anstey. “I haven’t had a demerit so far this year, and I don’t want to begin.”

“If you must go, all right,” replied Dick, though he added, with undoubted heartiness:

“Whether in or out of proper hours, Anstey, your visits are always too short.”

“Thank you, old man,” replied the Virginian gratefully.

The time had worn along into October. During the first month of academic work, neither Dick nor Greg had stood as high in their class as they had wished. This is often the case with new second classmen, who have just returned from all the allurements and excitements of their furloughs.

“Are you studying very hard, Anstey?” asked Greg, turning around, as the Virginian entered the door.

“Not very,” drawled the Virginian. “I never did like haste and rush. I’m satisfied if I get through. I did hope to stand high enough to get into the cavalry, but now I think I’m going to be pleased if I get the doughboy’s white trousers stripe.”

The “doughboy” is an infantryman.

“I think I’m going to find it all easy enough, now, after I once get my gait. Thank goodness, we’re past the daily math. grind.”

“We’ll all find plenty of math. in its application to other studies,” sighed Prescott. “But what gets me is for an Army officer to have to be roundly coached in philosophy, as regards sound and light.”

“And chemistry,” groaned Greg, “with heat, mineralogy, geology and electricity. And how the instructors can draw out on the points that a fellow hasn’t been able to get through his head!”

“Don’t!” begged the Virginian. “It makes my temples throb. I’ve written mother, asking her to send me some headache powders. Unless our third-year science instructors let up on us, I see myself eating headache powders like candy.”

As Anstey turned the knob, and started to go out, another cadet, about to enter, pushed door open and stepped inside.

“Howdy fellows,” was the greeting of the newcomer.

“How do you do, Haynes?” asked Dick, though not over impressed by the newcomer.

Haynes was a former second classman, who, on account of illness in the latter half of his third year, had been allowed to “turn back” and join the new second class.

It often happens that a “turnback” is not extremely popular with the new class that he joins. Not less often does it happen that the turnback wonders at the comparative lack of esteem shown him. The reason, however, is very likely to be found in the fact that the turnback considers himself a mile or so above the new class members with whom circumstances have compelled him to cast his lot.

It was so in this instance. Haynes felt that he was, properly, a first classman. True, the members of the first class, which he had fallen behind, did not take that view of the case.

“You fellows busy?” asked Haynes, as he took a seat across the foot of Prescott’s cot bed.

“Oh, no more busy than cadets usually are,” smiled Dick pleasantly. “We are finding the new grind a hard one—that’s all.”

“Now, there’s nothing very hard about the first half of the year in this class,” replied Haynes knowingly. “I’ve been through it you know.”

“You’re lucky,” rejoined Greg. “We haven’t been through it—yet.”

Hayes, however, chose to regard what was meant as a slight hint.

“Don’t bone too hard at this first-term stuff, fellows,” he went on. “Save your energies for the second half of the academic year.”

“I wonder whether we shall have any energies left by that time,” replied Greg, opening one of his text-books in philosophy with a force that made the cover bang against the desk.

“Oh, go ahead and bone ‘sound,’ then, if you want,” permitted Mr. Haynes. “I’ll talk to Prescott. Old ramrod, I haven’t seen you at any of the hops this year.”

“Haven’t had a femme to drag,” replied Dick, as he picked up a sheet of notes and began to scan it.

“Why don’t you turn pirate, then, as I do,” yawned Haynes, “and get the fellows to write you down on the cards they’re making up for their femmes?”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” replied Dick. “I don’t believe, when I have no femme to drag to the hops, that it would make me any more popular with the fellows, either. A fellow who pirates at all should drag a spoony femme pretty often himself.”

“Why,” asked Hayes, opening his eyes rather wide, “are you boning bootlick with any but officers?”

“Boning bootlick” means to curry favor. Occasionally a cadet who wants cadet honors resorts to “boning bootlick” with the tactical officers stationed at the academy.

“I’m not boning bootlick with cadets or with officers either,” retorted Dick rather crisply.

“I’ve never had the delight of wearing chevrons, you know.”

Haynes flushed a trifle. The year before he had worn a sergeant’s chevrons. This year, for some reason, he did not have the chevrons.

“Wearing chevrons isn’t the only sign of bootlick,” replied Haynes.

“Is it one of them?” smiled Prescott good-humoredly.

Again Haynes flushed. He had meant to take down this new member of the second class, but found Prescott’s tongue too ready.

“I don’t know,” replied Haynes shortly. “I’ve never been one of the authorities on bootlick.”

“Nor I, either,” laughed Prescott quietly. “So we won’t be able to come to the point of any information on the subject, I’m afraid.”

Greg, with his back turned to the visitor as he bent over the study desk, had been frowning for some time. Holmes wanted to study; he knew how badly he needed the time. But Haynes showed no sign of leaving the room.

Suddenly, Holmes closed his book, perhaps with a trifle more noise than was necessary.

“What you going to do, Greg?” inquired his chum, as Cadet Holmes rose stiffly, holding himself very erect in his natty gray uniform.

“I believe I’ll get out for a while,” replied Greg. “I—I really want to think a little while.”

“Oh, I’ll go, if you say so,” volunteered Cadet Haynes, though without offering to rise.

“Not necessary,” replied Greg briefly, and stepped over to the door, which he next closed—from the outside.

“Your roommate cocky?” asked Haynes, with a short laugh.

“Holmes!” inquired Dick. “One of the best fellows in the world.”

“Guess he didn’t want visitors, then,” grinned: Haynes. “He’s a chump to bone hard all the time. Really, Prescott, you don’t get any further with an excess of boning.”

“I always try to get as high in my class as I can,” sighed Dick. “True, that has never been extremely high yet. But a fellow wants to be well up, so he can spare a few numbers, in case anything happens, you know.”

“I’d just as soon be anywhere above the three fellows at the bottom of the Glass,” replied Haynes, stifling another yawn.

“Well, I hope you at least attain to your ambitions in the matter,” replied Dick, regretfully eyeing two of his text-books that he wanted to dig into in turn. There was not a heap of study time left now, before the call came for supper formation.

“My ambitions run along different lines,” announced Haynes.

“Along different lines than class standing?” inquired Dick.

“Yes; if you mean the kind of class standing that comes from the academic board,” went on Haynes.

“Why, I didn’t know there was any other kind, except standing in drill, and believe nearly all of the men here stand well in drill.”

“Oh, there are some other kinds,” pursued Haynes. “Personal standing, for instance?”

“Thank heaven personal standing is rather easily reached here,” replied Dick. “All a fellow has to do is to be courteous and honorable and his personal standing just about takes care of itself.”

“Oh, there are some other little matters in personal standing. Take the class presidency, Prescott, for instance.”

“Yes?” queried Dick. “What about it?”

“Well, you’ve been president of your class for two years.”

“Yes; thanks to the other fellows of the class.”

“Now, Prescott, do you intend to go right along keeping the presidency of the class?”

“Why, yes; if the fellows don’t show me that they want a change.”

“Maybe they do,” murmured Haynes.

Dick wheeled and regarded the turnback rather sharply.

“You must mean something by that, Haynes. What do you mean?”

“Are you willing to resign, if the class wants someone else?”

“Of course,” replied Prescott, with a snap.

“I’m glad to hear you say that,” murmured Haynes.

“See here, Haynes, have you been sent here by any faction in the second class?”

“No,” admitted the turnback promptly.

“Have you heard any considerable expression of opinion on the subject of a new class president being desired.”

“No,” admitted Haynes, coloring somewhat under the close scrutiny of his comrade in the class and the corps.

“You’re speaking for yourself only?”

“That’s it,” assented the turnback.

“Why don’t you want me for class president?”

Cadet Haynes looked a trifle disconcerted, but it was always Dick’s way to go openly and directly to the point in any matter.

“Why, perhaps I don’t know just how to put it,” replied Haynes. “But see here, Prescott, wouldn’t it be better for any class—say the second class, for instance—to have a man as president who has been longer at the Military Academy than the other members of the class?”

“Do you mean,” pursued Dick relentlessly, “that you want to be elected president of the present second class, Haynes?”

“Why, I think it would be a nice little courtesy from the class,” admitted the turnback. “You see, Prescott, you’ve held the honor now for two years.”

Dick smiled, looking straight into the eyes of his visitor, but he made no other answer.

“Now, what do you think about it, Prescott?” insisted the turnback.

“I don’t like to tell you, Haynes.”

“But I wish you would.”

“You’d be offended.”

“No; I would—See here not trying to be offensive with me, are you?”

“Certainly not.”

“Oh, that’s all right then. Go ahead and tell me what you think.”

“I was a good deal astonished,” went on Prescott, “when back in plebe days, the other fellows chose me for their president. I wasn’t expecting it, and I didn’t know what to make of it. But the fellows of the class gave me that great honor. I stand ready to step down from the honor at any time when the class feels that it would like another president.”

“I’d like the honor, Prescott. But, of course, I didn’t know that you held to it so earnestly. If you don’t want to give it up, of course I’ll go slow in asking you to do so. But I thought that both you and the class would appreciate having as president a man who has been longer at the Military Academy than any of the others.”

“If I were to resign the presidency,” replied Prescott bluntly, “I don’t believe you’d stand a ghost of a show of getting it.”

Cadet Haynes sprang to his feet, cheeks crimson, his eyes flashing.

“Why not?” he insisted.

“Steady, now,” urged Dick. “Don’t take offence where none is meant, Haynes. The class would want its president to be one who has been with the class all along, and who knows all its traditions. Now, in experience, you’re a first classman, and you’ve all the First-class traditions. Now, if the class were dissatisfied with me, and wanted a new president, I’m pretty certain the fellows would choose someone who had been in our class from the start. Now with you a turnback—–“

Haynes’s flush deepened, and he took a step forward, his fists clenching.

“Prescott, do you use that word offensively?”

“No,” replied Dick quietly. “Do you intend your question or manner to be offensive?”

“Not unless you’re trying to start it,” sniffed the other cadet.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do, Haynes,” proposed Dick pleasantly. “I can see your point of view—from your side. I don’t believe it would be the view of the class. But, if you wish, I’ll call a class meeting and lay the whole proposition before them.”

“You mean that you’ll try out class feeling by resigning and suggesting me for your successor?” asked Haynes eagerly.

“No; I’ll state the substance of our conversation this afternoon, and then you can say any thing you may have to say on the subject. Then I will put it to the class whether they want me to resign so that you can be elected in my place.”

Haynes turned several shades more red.

“That would make a fool of me!” flashed the turnback.

“It would be a statement of your own proposition, wouldn’t it?” asked Dick, with another smile.

“Stop your laughing at me, you—–“

“Careful!” warned Dick, but he threw a lot of emphasis into the single word.

“Prescott,” choked the turnback, “you’re trying to make my idea and myself ridiculous!”

“Haven’t I stated your proposition fairly?” challenged Prescott. “You think that, because you are a turnback, you have more right than I to the class presidency. If that isn’t your attitude, then I shall be glad to apologize.”

“Oh, pshaw, there’s no use in trying to make you see the matter with my eyes,” muttered Haynes in disgust.

“I’m afraid not, Haynes. If the fellows don’t want me as president I would insist on resigning. But I am sure the class would rather have almost anyone than a turnback. I hope, however, there is no hard feeling?”

Prescott held out his right hand frankly.

“I hope there will be, as you say, no hard feeling,” mumbled Haynes, accepting the proffered hand weakly.

Then the turnback left the room. Down the corridor, however, he strode heavily, angrily, muttering to himself:

“The conceited puppy!”

CHAPTER XI

BRAYTON MAKES A BIG APPEAL

For a moment or two Dick stood looking out of his window, across the far-stretching plain that included the parade ground and the athletic field.

In the near distance the football squad was finishing up its practice in the last moments of daylight. Brayton was captain of the Army eleven, and was a good deal discouraged.

“Queer idea Haynes had!” muttered Dick to himself.

Then he turned back to his desk and to the neglected chapter on “Sound” in natural philosophy.

Dick, however, was not fated to study much.

First of all, back came Greg, opening the door and looking in inquiringly.

“Haynes has gone, I see,” murmured Cadet Holmes.

“Yes.”

“To stay away?”

“I rather think so,” nodded Cadet Prescott, without looking up from the pages of his textbook.

“Then there’ll be some show for a poor, hard-working goat,” muttered Greg, closing the door behind him and falling into his chair.

“The goat,” at West Point, is one who is in the lowest section or two of his class. Greg was not yet a “goat,” this year, though he lived in dread of becoming one.

Hearing a yell from the plain beyond, however, Holmes went over to the window and looked out.

“Dick, old ramrod,” exclaimed Cadet Holmes wistfully, “I wish we stood well enough to be out on the football grill.”

“So do I,” muttered Dick. “But what’s the with the goat section overtaking us at double time?”

Greg sighed, then went back to his books.

For fifteen or twenty minutes both young men read on, trying to fasten something of natural philosophy in their minds.

Now there came a quick knock, immediately after which the door was flung open and Brayton marched in.

“See here, you coldfeet,” began the captain of the Army eleven sternly, “what do you two mean by staying in here and boning dry facts?”

“Just to avoid being drowned in goat’s milk,” smiled Dick, turning a page and looking up.

Brayton, regardless of these heroic efforts to study, threw one leg across the corner of the study table.

“You two fellows came out, in the first work of the squad, and did stunts that filled us all with hope,” pursued Brayton severely. “Then, suddenly, you failed to show up any more. And all this, despite the fact that we have the poorest eleven the Army has shown in six years.”

“Only men well up in their academic work are allowed to play on the eleven, replied Dick.

“You fellows are well enough up to make the team.”

“But we’re nervous about our studies,” rejoined Prescott.

“Nervous about your studies!” cried Brayton sharply. “Yet not a whit anxious for the honor of the Army that you hope to serve in all your lives. Now, you fellows know, as well as any of us, that we don’t much mind being walked over by a crack college eleven. But we want to beat the Navy, year in and year out. Why, fellows, this year the Navy has one of the best elevens in its history. All the signs are that the middies are going to walk roughshod over us. And yet you two fellows, whom we need, are sulking in quarters, poring over books—nervous about your studies!”

Scorn rang in Brayton’s heavy tones.

“If I really thought you needed me—–” began Dick.

“Of course, if you did actually need two duffers like—–” broke in Cadet Holmes.

“Need you!” retorted Brayton. “I’m almost ashamed to be sitting here with two such cold-blooded duffers. But do you know why I’m here? Because Lieutenant Carney, our coach, told me to come here and actually beg you to turn out—if I had to beg. Now, am I going to be submitted to that humiliation by two fellows I’ve always liked and considered my friends?”

“Is the football situation as bad as that?”, asked Dick seriously.

“Bad?” repeated Brayton gloomily. “Man, it’s _rotten_! Today is Thursday. Saturday we have to meet Lehigh. That’s a team we can usually beat. Lieutenant Carney is so blue that I believe he’d like to compromise by giving Lehigh the game at a score of twelve to nothing! And the Navy! Think of the fun of having Annapolis strutting around with the Army scalp tied to an anchor!”

“If you really mean what you’ve been saying,” said Dick slowly, “then we’re going tomorrow afternoon. I’m taking the liberty of speaking for Greg.”

“That’s straight and correct,” affirmed Holmes hastily.

“But I’m not sure, Brayton, that you’ll find us such bang-up material as you appear to think.”

“Oh, bother that!” cried the Football captain jubilantly. “I know what Lieutenant Carney can do with you. So, for the glory the Army, then, you’ll come out, after this, and stand by us for the rest of the season?”

“For the glory of the Army, if we have anything to do with it,” cried Dick heartily, “we’ll ‘fess’ cold in every confounded study on the third-year list. For the glory of the Army we’ll consent to being ‘found’ and kicked out of the service!”

“Hear, hear!” came rousingly from Cadet Holmes.

“Fellows—thank you!” gasped Brayton, grasping both their hands and shaking them hard. “Lieutenant Carney will be delighted. So will all the fellows. Mr. Carney has had a hard, up-hill time of it as couch this year. But now—!”

There could be no question that Brayton’s joy was real. He was a keen judge of football material, and he had been deeply chagrined when Dick and Greg had withdrawn from the early training work of the squad.

“It has been fearful work trying get the interest up this year,” continued Brayton with a reminiscent sigh. “So many good man have been dodging the squad! Even Haynes, who is the best we have at left end, ducked this afternoon. Caesar’s ghost may know what Haynes was doing with his time—I don’t. But I don’t believe he was boning.”

Prescott smiled quietly to himself as he recalled how Cadet Haynes had been employing his leisure in this very room.

“Well, I’m happy, and Lieutenant Carney will be,” muttered Brayton, turning to go. “A whole lot of us will feel easier.”

“Any idea where you’ll try to play us?” asked Dick, as the captain of the Army eleven rested his hand on the knob.

“Not much; we’ll find out during tomorrow afternoon’s practice. Be sharp on time, won’t you?”

“If we’re able to walk,” promised Dick.

Just after Brayton had gone the orderly came through with mail.

“You got something, eh?” asked Greg.

“Yes; a letter from grand old Dave Darrin,” cried Dick, as he broke the seal of the envelope.

“Let me know the news,” begged Holmes.

“Whoop! Dave is on the Navy football team. So is Dan Dalzell! Both have gone in at the eleventh hour.”

“Great Scott!” breathed Greg, rising to his feet. “I wonder if we’re going to be placed on the line where we’ll have to bump ’em in the Army-Navy game?”

“We may be, if we get on the line,” uttered Prescott, as he finished the epistle. “Here, Greg, read it for yourself. That will be quicker than waiting for me to tell you the news from our old chums.”

The next afternoon both Prescott and Holmes turned out on the gridiron practice work. Both proved to be in fine form. Lieutenant Carney, the Army coach, devoted most of his attention to them.

After some preliminary work the Army eleven was lined up against a “scrub” team of cadets.

“Mr. Prescott, go to left end on the team,” directed Coach Carney. “Mr. Haynes, take the right end on scrub. Mr. Holmes, you will be left tackle on the Army team for this bit of work. The captains of both teams will now line their men up. Scrub will have the ball and make the kick-off. Make all the play brisk and snappy. Work for speed and strategy, not impact.”

With that, Lieutenant Carney ran over to the edge of the gridiron, leaving another officer, of the coaching force, to officiate as referee.

The ball was placed in play. At the kick-off the ball came to Greg, who passed it to Dick. The interference formed, backed by Brayton.

“Put it around their right end!” growled Brayton, the word passing swiftly to Prescott.

Haynes was darting in, blood in his eye, backed the whole right flank of scrub.

Greg and the rest of the available interference got swiftly and squarely in the way of Haynes and the others. There was a scrimmage. Out of it, somehow—none looking on could tell just how it was done—Prescott emerged from the mix-up, darting swiftly to the left and around. He had made twenty-five yards with the ball Before he was nailed and downed.

Lieutenant Carney looked, as he felt, delighted. The spectators, all of them crazy for the Army’s success, broke into yells of joy. Dick had done the spectacular part of the trick, but he could not have succeeded without the swift, intelligent help that Holmes had given. Playing together, they had sprung one of the clever ruses that both had perfected back in the old Gridley days.

Haynes was furious. He was panting. There was an angry flash in his eyes as both teams lined up for the snap-back.

“That fellow has come out into the field just to spite me,” snarled Haynes to himself.

At the signal, the ball was snapped back, and passed swiftly to Dick. Haynes fairly leaped into the scrimmage, as though it were deadly hand-to-hand conflict. But Dick and Greg, with the backing of their comrades on the Army eleven, bore Haynes down to earth in the mad stampede that passed over him. Fifteen yards more were gained, and scrub’s half-backs were feeling sore in body.

“That man Prescott is a wonder,” muttered Lieutenant Carney to a brother officer of the Army. “Or else Holmes is. It’s hard to say which of the pair is doing the trick. I think both of them are.”

“How on earth, Carney, did you come to overlook that pair until now?”

“I didn’t overlook them,” retorted the Army coach. “I had them spotted when the training first began. But both dropped out on the claim that they feared for their standing in academy work.”

“A pair like that,” muttered Captain Courteney, “ought to be excused for any kind of recitations during the football season. Jove! Look at that—Prescott has made a touchdown”

“Prescott carried the ball,” amended Lieutenant Barney, “but Holmes certainly had as much to do with the touchdown as Prescott did.”

“They’re wonders!” cried Captain Courteney joyously. “And to think that you didn’t have that pair out last year.”

“Both refused even to think of going into training last year,” retorted the Army coach. “Both were keen on the bone. But, bone or no bone, we’ve got to have them on the eleven the rest of this season.”

By the time that the afternoon’s practice was over fully fifty Army officers were on the sides, watching the work, for word had traveled by ‘phone and the gathering had been a quick one.

“Prescott! Holmes!” called Brayton sharply, after the practice was over. “You’ll play on the Army team tomorrow. Lieutenant Carney says so. Prescott, yours is left end; Holmesy, you’ll expend your energies as left tackle. Haynes, you’ll be in reserve, as a sub.”

The message to Cadet Haynes was delivered without the suspicion of a snub in it. Almost any other man in the battalion would have accepted this wise decision without a murmur, delighted that the Army had found a better man.

Not so with Cadet Haynes. He turned cold all over. Not a word of reply did he offer, but turned on his heal, digging his fingernails into the palms of his hands.

“Now, what do you think of that?” demanded Haynes to himself. “Turned down for that fellow Prescott—that shifty dodger and cheap bootlick! And I shook hands with you yesterday, Prescott! I never will again! Confound you, you turned out in togs at this late hour, just to put me out of the running!”

CHAPTER XII

IN THE BATTLE AGAINST LEHIGH

Before noon the next day Lehigh turned up—team, subs., howlers and all, and as many as could crowded into the conveyances that had been sent down to the railway station to meet the team and coaches.

The cadet corps, busy to a man with Saturday morning recitations, did not see the arrival of the visiting team. But the Lehighs and the afternoon’s game were the only topics for talk at dinner in the cadet mess hall.

“They’ve sent over a race of giants,” growled Brayton down the length of the table at which he sat, while a poor little plebe cadet, acting as “gunner,” was serving the roast beef. “Sergeant Brinkman, of the quartermaster’s detachment, told me that the weight of the team sprung the axles on two of the stoutest quartermaster wagons. Every man that Lehigh sent over weighs a good part of a ton. What do you think of that, Prescott?”

“Glad enough to hear it,” smiled Dick, nodding. “I believe it’s the light, lithe, spry fellows who stand the best show of getting through the enemy’s line.”

“If all our smaller men were like you, I’d believe it, too, muttered Brayton.

“But we haven’t any more light men like you and Holmes, Prescott,” broke in Spurlock from the adjoining table.

“I’m going to duck the team and quit playing,” protested Dick, “if Holmesy and I are to be twitted about being wonders.”

“But, honestly, Prescott” began Brayton, “you two are—–“

“Average good Army men, I hope,” interposed Dick. “Nothing more, I hope. At least. I speak for myself. If Holmesy wants to star—–“

“I’ll call you out, ramrod, if you carry the joke too far!” warned Greg.

Seeing that both of the chums were in earned and didn’t want to hear their merits sung, the others near them desisted. But, at many a table further removed, the whole trend of prediction was that, with Prescott and Holmes now definitely on the eleven, the Army stood its first chance of defeating Navy that year.

The Navy! It is the whole hope of West Point to send Annapolis down to defeat. The middies of the Navy on the other hand, can smile at many and many a defeat, provided the Army trails behind the Navy at the annual football game.

As the cadets marched out of mess hall and back along the sidewalk to barracks, those who allowed their gaze to stray ever so little across the roadway in the direction of the administration building noted that the holiday crowd had already begun to gather.

There were girls down from Vassar for the afternoon, and from half a dozen choice schools along the river. There were many out-of-town visitors from every direction.

We’re going to three or four thousand people here to see the game,” murmured Greg to Dick, in the undertone that cadets know so well how to use in ranks without being detected in conversing.

“Think so?” inquired Prescott.

“I’m sure of it.”

In the groups that were strolling up and down the roads leading across the plain were young ladies whom many of the cadets wanted badly to see and exchange greetings with. First of all, however, Saturday afternoon inspection had to be gone through with. From this, not even the members of the Army football squad were privileged to be absent.

When inspection was over many of the cadets hastened forth for brief converse with popular fair ones.

None of the football men, however, had time for this. As soon as might be, they reported at the gymnasium, there to receive much counsel from coach and captain.

“Keep yourself in good shape, Haynes,” called Dick, laughingly, when, after getting into togs, he met the turnback similarly attired.

“Going to funk?” asked Haynes rather disagreeably.

“Not intentionally, anyway,” Dick smiled back at the “sore” one. “But I hear that we young Davids are going to be pitted against Goliaths this afternoon. It may be just my luck to go down in one of the scrimmages and get a furlough in hospital.”

“I hope so!” muttered Haynes, but he said it under his breath.

Out over on the side lines officers and their families, and hordes of visitors, were filing toward the seats. Across at the east side of the gridiron, Lehigh’s few hundred sympathizers were already bunched, and were making up with noise for their smallness of numbers.

Among the Army “boosters” the uniforms of the officers brightened the picture.

From time to time squads or detachments of cadets arrived and passed along to the seats reserved for them in the center.

Below the cadets, the band was stationed, and was already playing lively airs.

Out ahead of the band stood a megaphone on a tripod. This was to be used, later on, by the cheer-master, one of the cadets, who must call for the yells or the songs that were to be given. A rousing cheer ascended from the Lehigh seats when the visiting college team trotted out on the field. Hearty, courteous applause from the Army seats also greeted the visitors. The band played as soon as the first Lehighs were seen coming on to the field.

“Team fall in!” shouted Brayton, at last “Substitutes to the rear. Forward!”

Out of the gym. stepped these young champions of the Army. Across the roadway they strode, then broke into a trot as they reached the edge of the field.

And now a mighty cheer arose. Yesterday, the Army’s friends had feared a defeat, but now word had gone the rounds that Prescott and Holmes had made the team strong in its weakest spot, and that a cyclonic game might be looked for.

For the next few minutes the Army eleven indulged in practice plays and kicks. During this period, the cheer-master cadets and the corps of cadets were busied with the various Army yells and songs that promised victory for the young soldiers.

Nor were the Lehigh “boosters” anything like idle. Every time an Army cheer ceased, the Lehigh sympathizers cheered their own team.

Then game was called, with kick-off for the Army.

The ball was passed to Lehigh’s right end, who, full of steam, dashed on with it.

Dick and Greg were foremost in the obstruction that met the Lehigh runner. But the Lehigh man was well supported. Through Dick, Greg and Ellerson dashed the runner, backed splendidly by his interference.

It took quarterback and one of the halfbacks of the Army to put the runner down some eight yards further on.

“Humph! I don’t see that Prescott and Holmes are doing so much for us,” muttered Haynes to the sub. at his right, as both watched from the side lines.

“Look at what they have to stop,” returned the other cadet. “Don’t be sore, Haynes; you couldn’t do any better.

“Humph!” grumbled the turnback.

It soon developed, however, that Lehigh felt especially strong on its right end. Hence, much of the work seemed to devolve upon Dick and Greg. For twenty yarns down into Army territory that ball was forced. Then, after a gain of only two more yards, Lehigh was forced to surrender the ball. Army boosters stood up and cheered loudly.

“You’ve got a tough crowd to get by, Prescott,” muttered Brayton. “But look out for signals.”

As Brayton bent over to snap-back, Quarterback Boyle’s cool voice sounded:

“Fourteen—eight—nine—three!”

In another instant Boyle had made a running pass with the ball to Greg, who passed it on to Dick Prescott.

Now all the Army boosters were up in their seats, eager to see how the much-lauded Prescott would serve with the pigskin.

Ball clasped, head down, Dick settled for a run, his whole gaze on the on-coming Lehigh right line.

They met in a clash. Dick had planned how to slip out of the impact, but the stronger Lehigh right end had both arms around Prescott, and down went the Army left end.

“Humph!” grunted Haynes, though his tone did not sound displeased

“I hope that isn’t a sample of Prescott’s skill,” muttered one Army captain to another.

“No matter how good a man he is, Prescott should have been in the squad from the outset of the training,” replied the other.

Boyle was calling the signal. Breathlessly the larger part of the spectators watched to see Dick redeem himself.

But again he failed to make much of an advance with the ball. After the second “down,” with barely anything gained, Brayton ordered Boyle to throw the ball over to the right of the Army line.

So, in the next dash, Prescott and Holmes had but little to do. The Army lost the ball.

Immediately it looked as though Ennis, captain of Lehigh, had heard all about the new Army left end and left tackle, for Lehigh’s own sturdy right end came forward with the ball. Dick and Greg both dashed furiously at him, but Greg was hurled aside by Lehigh’s interference. Dick, however, held Lehigh’s right end dragged the Army man for a yard; then others joined in the melee, and the ball was down.

Lehigh advanced some twenty yards before being compelled to give up the ball. It became more and more plain that the visitors intended forcing the fighting around the Army’s left end. At last, however, the Army balked the game, and returned to the attack, trying to regain some of the lost Army territory.

“They’re going to pound us, Greg,” whispered Dick in one of the pauses of the game. “We were all right in the High School days, but we’re playing with tremendously bigger men now.”

Even Brayton began to question his judgment having taken these two men so recently on the team.

“If I had been able to train them from the first, they’d have been all right,” muttered the captain of the Army Eleven.

To ease up on Prescott and Holmes, Brayton directed, as often as possible, charges through the center, or right-end rushes. But almost half of the time Lehigh seemed bent on bearing down the Army’s left end. The hard work was beginning to tell on both Dick and Greg.

Yet it was a long tine, after all, before Lehigh managed to score a touchdown. When the time came, however, the visitors also made their kick for goal, and the score was Lehigh, 6; Army, 0. “Humph!” remarked Cadet Haynes, for the dozenth time. All his fellow subs. had moved away from him. They were disappointed, but they realized that Prescott and Holmes had entered the game under brilliant promise, yet without training.

Dutifully the cadet cheer-master kept at his work, but now the responses came with less volume from the corps of cadets, who were truly sitting on anxious seats.

In the interval of rest, Lieutenant Carney talked anxiously with Brayton.

“Have we made a mistake in Prescott and Holmes?” asked the coach.

“What do you think, sir!” asked Brayton.

“If we had had that pair in training from the outset,” replied the Army officer, “I’m satisfied that they would have made a better showing. Lehigh isn’t a particularly strong team, but they have one of the best right-end assaults that I’ve seen in some time. It’s really too bad that Prescott and Holmes, in their first game, are put against such a strong, clever assault.”

“Well, we can’t put Haynes in now, unless Prescott should be injured,” replied Brayton.

“Haynes?” repeated the Army coach. “I’m glad he’s not on your line today. Training and all, Haynes isn’t the man to match Prescott, even without training.”

Haynes heard, and his face was convulsed with rage as he turned swiftly away.

“Queer how folks take so much stock in that fellow Prescott!” muttered the turnback. “Why can’t a man like Lieutenant Carney see that Prescott is nothing but a dub, while Holmes is only a dub’s helper?”

All through the Army seats it was beginning to be felt that the late placing of Prescott and Holmes in the Army had probably been an error.

There were even many who rated Haynes higher than he deserved to be rated, and who believed that the turnback might have done much to save the day.

As it was, the Army had about given up hope. Lehigh was stronger than usual; that was all, except that the Army team appeared to be weaker than in the year before.

The band still played at appropriate moments; the corps of cadets answered every signal for a yell, but Army spirits were drooping fast.

“Greg,” muttered Dick, with a rueful face, “you can wager that we’re being roasted by everyone out of earshot!”

CHAPTER XIII

WHEN THE CHEERS BROKE LOOSE

Fifteen minutes left to play.

By this time even the most hopeful spectators had settled down to the conviction that the Army was to lose the game. The most sanguine hoped that the score would not exceed 6 to nothing.

“We’re done for on this trip!” muttered Lewis, the Army’s right guard.

“No, we’re not,” retorted Dick, his eyes flashing. “We can’t lose; that’s all there is to it!”

“Who told you that,” demanded Lewis.

“That used to be our motto, our fighting principle on the old Gridley High School team in the days when it never lost a game,” replied Prescott.

“Hm!” returned Lewis. “I wish we had some more of your old Gridley players on the team today, then.”

Then they scurried to their places, leaving Dick in wonder as to whether Lewis’ last remark had been intended for sarcasm.

“Greg.” whispered Dick, his pulses throbbing, “you see those fellows on the Lehigh right flank?”

They’re the fellows we’ve got to down. We’ve got to down them, if we get killed!”

“That’s the word!” gritted the Army left tackle. “Dick, I’d about as soon be killed as let the Army be walked over!”

This had all been whispered rapidly.

The Army had just got the ball again, and was only ten yards over into Lehigh territory.

Now Boyle’s signal was sounding:

“Twelve—seven—six—three!”

Dick straightened. Greg squirmed. Both knew that their chance had come again.

Making an oblique dash, Boyle himself passed the pigskin to Dick Prescott. Then all of the Army line that could do so stiffened in and surged behind Prescott and Holmes.

Lehigh’s bigger right end was making like a cyclone for Dick. The Lehigh man was backed finely.

Just as they were on the point of dashing together, Greg, as by previous arrangement, gave Dick a prodigious shove, at the same instant himself leaping forward.

So quickly was the thing done that Lehigh’s right end, ere he realized it, had grappled with Greg—and Dick was around the end, racing!

With a muttered growl of rage Lehigh’s man let Holmes go. For a second or two, the college men were badly rattled. Greg, with the agility of a squirrel, ducked low and got through, racing with all his might after Prescott.

Twenty-four yards were covered ere Prescott went down. When he did so, Greg was standing back, saving himself that he might help Dick the next time.

Once more the ball was snapped back. This time some brilliant faking was done. The whole of the first movement looked as though the ball were to be pushed somewhere through the Army’s right flank, and Lehigh wheeled accordingly. But it was a left-end pass, after all. Dick and Greg got through by a very slight variation on their last ruse eighteen yards more gained!

In an instant, now, those in the Army seats were wild with enthusiasm. The band crashed out joyously, a dozen measures, while the cadets sang one of their songs of jubilant brag. Then all was suddenly still for the next bit of play.

While the men of both teams were hurrying to the line-up, a signal was noticed by hundreds that caused excited comment.

Brayton made some slight signal to Prescott Both Dick and Greg shook their heads sullenly.

“Confound Brayton!” shivered Lieutenant Barney. “What does he mean by that? He has signaled Prescott and Holmes asking them if they can put one more by Lehigh, and they have refused. Ennis and all the Lehighs have tumbled. Brayton—–“

“Seven—two—nine—eight!” voiced Quarterback Boyle.

Instantly Coach Carney’s face cleared. It was an emergency signal, not yet used in the game. As if unconsciously, all the men of the Army eleven had turned toward right guard.

The ball was snapped back. Boyle took three steps of a plunge toward right guard, then suddenly dodged, passing the ball to Greg, who swiftly passed it to Prescott—and the race was on.

Lehigh’s right end made a gallant dash to stop Dick. There was a mix-up in an instant. All happened so swiftly that the spectators were not certain how the thing had been done.

But Dick Prescott, with Cadet Greg Holmes almost at his side, was charging across the lower field, past one of the halfbacks, and with only fullback really in their way.

There was a tackle. But Dick was seen to come out of it, while Greg rolled on the grass with the fullback.

“_Touchdown!_”

The air trembled with the vibration of that surging yell as Cadet Prescott raced across Lehigh’s goal line.

“Humph!” ejaculated Haynes. But he, too, was on his feet, watching the lively performance.

Then the pigskin was carried back for the kick for goal, and the goal was made.

Lehigh was tied! After the early discouragements of the game that seemed luck enough.

Lieutenant Carney was the personal embodiment of joy as he recalled the signal of Brayton and the sullen headshakes of Prescott and Holmes.

“That was a ratty and clever piece of acting, to throw the visitors off their guard!” chuckled the Army coach.

No time was lost in lining up again. Only seven minutes of playing time were left. It seemed too short in which to do anything in the faces of the Army players there glowed the light of determination.

Within three minutes the ball was well down in Lehigh territory. The college men fought grimly now. They were becoming rattled; the Army players seemed more confident and more full of spirit than at time in the day.

Now there came another play. Again the Army’s left wing was used. There was a short, desperate scrimmage. The Army had gained four yards, yet lost—what?

For, out of that scrimmage came Dick and Greg, each limping enough to be noticed.

One of the Army “rainmakers” (doctors) even started out from the side lines, but Brayton waive the medical officer back.

“Is it a trick, this time, or real?” wondered Conch Carney, who did not care to be caught napping again.

“Five—nine—seven—two—eighteen!”

The last numeral called for a fake kick. So well was the strategy carried out that Lehigh was even trapped into spreading out a trifle.

It was a left-end play again, however, and Dick and Greg, backed by all the rest, fought to put it through.

Lehigh’s halfback caught Prescott this time—caught him fair and full, and Prescott went down.

Yet this had been intended. So well was it done that Greg, close in, was away with the ball by the time that Prescott touched the earth.

There was a yell of dismay from the visitors. They started to bear down Holmes, but all of the Army team had been prepared for this move from the instant the last signal; had been called. So it was the full force of the charging Army line that pushed Cadet Holmes through and over the goal line.

Over all the cheering that followed this manoeuvre came the call for time at the end of the game’s playing time. Yet, under the rules, the kick for goal was tried.

The kick failed—but who cared? The finishing score was:

Army, 11; Lehigh, 6.

Gone were all the doubts concerning Prescott and Holmes. Now they were the most sensational players in the Army team. Justly Brayton received his full share of credit both for taking on Prescott and Holmes at the eleventh hour, and also for carrying out so cleverly his own captain’s part of the strategy that had won. Lehigh’s team went off the field dejected. The visitors had counted on victory as theirs. There was a noticeable silence among the Lehigh “boosters” as they clambered down from their from their seats and strolled moodily away.

Only one man had any adverse commend. That man was turnback Haynes, and all he said was:

“_Humph!_”

CHAPTER XIV

FOR AULD LANG SYNE

After that Dick and Greg turned out every day for practice with the team.

Both Lieutenant Carney and Team Captain Brayton speedily learned that they had made no mistake in getting Prescott and Holmes on to the line.

A number of smaller colleges were defeated, and with rattling good scores.

Dick and Greg seemed to improve with every game.

True, Yale walked off with the honors, though the score, ten to six, had been stubbornly contested throughout.

Harvard was played to a tie that year; Princeton was beaten by six to two, the two standing for a safety that Princeton forced the Army to make.

Lieutenant Carney was one of the happiest men on the station. From having a team rather below the average, he had produced an Army eleven that was destined to go down as famous in American military life.

As Thanksgiving drew near all interest centered in what was, after all, to be the real game of the year—that between the Army and the Navy, which is always played the Saturday after that holiday.

Haynes, during the season’s good work, had not been able wholly to keep his tongue back of his teeth. He had made several disparaging remarks. For of these remarks Lewis, of the Army eleven, chose to take he turnback to account.

Hot words followed, ending in a fight. Haynes, roundly beaten, withdrew altogether from the eleven.

“That fellow Prescott has wonderful luck, or he’d have had his neck broken long ago, considering all the hard packs that he has bumped into in the games,” growled the turnback disgustedly to himself.

In fact, Haynes was forced to do a large share of his talking with himself. He hadn’t been “cut” by the other cadets, but he had succeeded in making himself generally unpopular through his too evident dislike of Prescott.

“Funny, but that’s the man who wanted me to resign the class presidency so that he could run for it,” laughed Dick to his chum.

Dick had told Greg of that laughable interview, but it had gone no further. Greg could be trusted not to talk too much.

“Going over to Philadelphia to see the Navy anchored to a zero score, Haynes?” asked Carter, of the second class.

“Yes; I reckon I’m going over,” replied Haynes. “But I’m not so sure that we’ll see the Navy sunk,” replied the turnback.

“I know you don’t care much for Prescott,” smiled Carter. “Yet how can you be blind to the wonderful work that he and Holmes are doing? Is it because Prescott is playing the position for which you were cast?”

“No, it isn’t,” retorted Haynes, his face red with passion “If our team wants Prescott, let it have him. I don’t care. But I’ve a notion Prescott won’t be strutting about with such lordly airs—–“

“Prescotts? Lordly airs?” broke in Cadet Carter, grinning broadly. “Whew, but that would make a hit with the fellows! Why, Prescott is anything but a lordly chap. He’s one of the most modest fellows in the corps. He had to be fairly dragged on to the eleven. He believed it would be better off without him.”

“So it would, sure!” rasped the turnback.

“Now, see here, Haynes, don’t get so sore as to warp your own judgment,” expostulated Carter.

“Well, you just wait and see how much we do to the Navy! Have you heard about the Navy’s new, lightning right end?”

“Darrin, you mean?”

“Yes,” nodded Haynes. “A friend of mine, who saw Darrin play the other day, writes me that Darrin is an armor-clad terror on the grid iron. If he is, he’ll pulverize Prescott, unless Brayton shifts Prescott to some other position.”

“Pooh! I’m not afraid,” laughed Carter, turning to walk away. “Darrin, no doubt, is good, but he can’t do anything to Prescott.”

Neither of the speakers was aware that Dave Darrin, midshipman, United States Navy, was one of the oldest and dearest friends that Dick Prescott had.

Few at West Point knew that Darrin and Prescott had ever met.

“Am I going over to Philadelphia to see the game?” muttered Haynes