The Rover Boys at School





CHAPTER XX

 

THE BULLY LEAVES PUTNAM HALL

 

 

"So you wish to see me, Rover?  Very well, come right in and sit

down," said Captain Putnam, who sat in front of his desk, making

up some of his accounts for the month just past.

 

Tom came in and sat down.  It must be confessed he was a trifle

nervous, but this soon wore away.

 

"I came to tell you something and to ask your advice," he began.

"You remember what happened to me when I ran away into the woods

just after arriving at the Hall?"

 

"Very well, Thomas," and the captain smiled.

 

"Well, when Sam and I went to Cedarville to buy our skates we saw

Dan Baxter in the tavern there, in company with the man with a

scar on his chin.  This man gave Baxter some bank bills."

 

"What!  At the tavern?"

 

"Yes, Sir."

 

"Please tell your story in detail, Rover," and now Captain Putnam

swung around so that he might get a full view of his pupil's face.

 

And Tom told his story from beginning to end just as I have set it

down in the foregoing pages.

 

"I am certain this man is some relative of Baxter," he concluded.

"And I am equally certain he is not an honest fellow."

 

"Humph!" Captain Putnam arose and began to pace the heavily

carpeted floor.  "Rover, this is a serious charge."

 

"I understand that, Sir.  But you can't blame us boys for trying

to get back Dick's watch and trying to--to--"

 

"Bring the guilty party to justice?  Certainly not!  But it would

seem the man with a scar is not the thief."

 

"No, but he is the boon companion of the thief."

 

"That is true--unless there is some grave mistake.  But you are

right about one thing, the man is really Baxter's father, and his

name is Arnold Baxter."

 

"And why does he travel around under the name of Nolly?"

 

"That is the mystery.  I met Mr. Baxter only once--when he

placed his son in my care.  At that time I was certain he was

wearing a wig and a false mustache.  The scar was on his chin,

although he tried to hide it.  I have never seen him since.  When

any money is due from him he sends it to me by mail and does not

ask for any receipt.  I once asked Baxter about his parents, and

he said his mother was dead and he didn't know exactly where his

father was, as the latter was a great traveler and went

everywhere."

 

"I see."

 

"If you are right, and the man is a rascal, it is to his credit

that he is trying to bring his son up as a gentleman.  Perhaps he

doesn't want Daniel to know anything of the past.  Do you follow

me?"

 

"I do, sir.  But if this is so, would he take his son into the

tavern?"

 

"Perhaps--everybody is not so opposed to drinking as I am."

 

"Well, if Mr. Baxter is a bad man, I rather think Dan is a chip of

the old block," rejoined Tom bluntly.  "But be that as it may, all

I want to get hold of is that thief and Dick's timepiece."

 

"I will question Baxter closely," answered Captain Putnam.  "But I

do not wish to hold him guilty of something of which most likely

he knows nothing."

 

George Strong had by this time come in, and he was sent to bring

Baxter.  He was gone but a few minutes when he came back in high

excitement.

 

"Baxter has broken out of the guardroom!" he, exclaimed.  "I

cannot find him anywhere!"

 

"Did you look in the dormitory?"

 

"Yes, sir; and his valise is gone, and his trunk is empty of all

of value."

 

"Humph!" Captain Putnam's brow contracted.  "This looks very

suspicious."

 

At that moment one of the smaller cadets came in with a note in

his hand.

 

"I just met Baxter running down the road!" exclaimed the little

fellow.  "He gave me this for you, Captain Putnam."

 

At once the proprietor of the Hall tore open the communication and

read it half aloud:

 

"Good-by to Putnam Hall forever.  It is full of fellows who are no

good and run by a man I never liked.  No use of following me, for

I am going to join my father, and I don't mean to come back.

 

"DAN BAXTER

 

"P. S.--Tell the Rover boys I shan't forget them, and someday I

shall take pains to square accounts.

 

                  "D. B."

 

"The foolish boy," was the captain's comment.  "But perhaps he has

done what is best, for it might have been necessary to dismiss

him."  For a long while those at the Hall wondered how Baxter had

escaped.  Only Mumps knew and he kept the secret to himself.  A

duplicate key to the door of the guardroom had done the trick.

 

As Baxter was not followed, nothing more was spoken of him for the

time being, and after several days the cadets settled down to

their regular work as though nothing out of the ordinary had

occurred.  A hunt was instituted by Dick for Arnold Baxter and

Buddy the thief, but no trace of the pair came to light.

 

The Christmas holidays were now at hand and the closing days at

Putnam Hall were given over to several entertainments.  One of

these consisted of a stage performance of a play called "A

Christmas in a Tenement," given by twelve of the boys.  Three of

the lads, including Tom, took female parts, and the audience

laughed itself sore over their antics.

 

Many living in the vicinity came to the entertainment; including

all of the Lanings and also Dora Stanhope and her mother; who was

now almost as well as ever.

 

"It was fine!" said Nellie Laning to Tom.  "But, oh, Tom, what a

girl you did make!"

 

"Wouldn't you like me for a sister?" queried Tom.

 

"A sister!  Oh, dear!" cried Nellie, and began to laugh again.

 

"You looked like a female giraffe!" put in Grace Laning.  "Sam

acted a little boy splendidly.  Sam, don't you want a stick of

candy?"

 

"Yes, mammy, please," squeaked Sam, just as he had on the stage,

and another laugh went around.

 

In the meantime Dick had drawn Dora to one side.  "What is the

news?" he asked anxiously.

 

"Nothing new," sighed Dora.  "Josiah Crabtree has gone to Boston

on business.  I am afraid I cannot keep that marriage off much

longer.  He seems bound to marry mother, and even if she feels

like drawing back she hasn't the courage to tell him so."

 

"It's a shame," murmured Dick.  "Well, remember what I said, Dora,

if I can ever help you I will."  And he squeezed her hand.  Before

they separated he gave her a silk handkerchief he had purchased at

Cedarville, one with her initial in the corner, and she blushingly

handed over a scarf made by herself.  Dick was very proud of that

scarf, although Tom and Sam teased him about it unmercifully.

 

Of course the boys had received letters from their uncle and aunt

regularly, yet they watched eagerly for the hour that should bring

them within sight of the farm with its well-known buildings.  The

journey to Oak Run proved uneventful, and here Jack, the hired

man, met them with the carriage.

 

"Glad to see you, lads," he said--with a grin.

 

"Seems quite natural like."

 

"So it does, Jack!" cried Tom.  "Let 'em out, for we want to get

home!"

 

The snow was falling, and by the time the farmhouse was reached it

was several inches deep.  "We're in for a sleigh ride before we go

back," said Sam.

 

Their uncle and aunt stood at the door to receive them.  "Welcome

home!  Merry Christmas!" came from both, and each of the boys gave

a warm handshake to Randolph Rover and hearty kiss to their Aunt

Martha.  Past troubles were all forgotten.

 

This was Christmas Eve, and the boys stayed up late, cracking nuts

by the blazing log fire and having a good time generally.

 

In the morning Dick was the first one awake.

 

"For gracious' sake!" he ejaculated, staring at the chimney piece.

"There hung his own stocking and also one each belonging to Tom

and Sam.  Each was filled with goodies such as he knew only his

Aunt Martha could make.

 

"Sam and Dick, wake up, we've struck a bonanza!" he cried, and

hauled both from under the covers.  All laughed heartily, and

marched down to the dining room with the stockings over their

shoulders.

 

"A merry Christmas to Uncle Randolph from all of us," said Tom,

handing over a much coveted volume on agriculture.  "And a merry

Christmas to Aunt Martha from three bad boys," added Sam, and

turned over a fancy work-basket, both presents having been

purchased at Ithaca on the journey home.

 

"Ha!  Just what I desired!" said Randolph Rover, adjusting his

spectacles.  "I am very much obliged, boys--I am, indeed!"

 

"Such a pretty basket!" murmured Mrs. Rover.  "It was very good of

you!" and she, hugged each lad in his turn.  Then came more

presents--neckties, collars, and gloves for the boys, besides a

book for each written by a favorite writer.

 

"The snow is two feet deep!" said Dick, after an inspection, when

breakfast had come to an end.  "We're booked for the house today!"

 

"We'll wait until afternoon," said Mr. Rover.

 

It was a happy time, even if they were snowed in.  Soon the warm

sun came out and brought the snow down a little.  "Best kind of

sleighing now," said the hired man, and drove around the biggest

sleigh on the place.  All tumbled in, and the party did not return

until after midnight.

 

 

 



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