FUN AT THE HOTEL
It was no easy matter for Tom to get into the room Josiah Crabtree
was occupying, but after trying a good number of keys, fished up
here, there, and everywhere, one was at last found that fitted the
Striking a match, Tom entered the room quickly, drew back the
sheet of the bed, dumped in the crabs, and then pulled the sheet
up to its original place.
"He's coming!" whispered Sam, who stood guard at the door. "Hide,
Tom," and then he ran back to the big room adjoining.
Finding he could not escape, Tom threw the box under the bed and
rushed to a closet in the corner. Here he crouched down behind a
large trunk left in the place on storage. He had scarcely
secreted himself when Josiah Crabtree came in. He had shoved his
key in the lock, but had failed to notice that the lock-bolt was
already turned back.
"Oh, what a cold night," muttered the ex-school teacher as he lit
the gas. "A warm bed will feel fine."
"I reckon it will be warm enough," thought Tom.
As the room was scantily heated, Crabtree lost no time in
disrobing. Having donned a long night robe, he turned off the
gas, flung the sheets back, and leaped into bed.
Exactly ten seconds of silence followed. Then came a yell
calculated to raise the dead.
"Whow! What's this? Oh! What's got me by the legs? Oh, oh! oh!
I'm being eaten up alive! Let go there! Oh, dear!"
And with additional yells, Josiah Crabtree leaped straight out of
bed, one crab hanging to his left knee, several on his feet, and
one, which he had caught hold of clinging to the back of his hand.
At once he began to do an Indian war-dance around the apartment,
knocking the furniture right and left.
"Let go there! What on earth can they be? Oh, my toe is half off--I
know it is! Let go!" And then he struggled toward the gas jet, but
before he could light it Tom had slipped out of the apartment, closing
the door behind him. The banging of furniture continued, and then came
a crash, as the washstand went over, carrying with it a bowl, a soap
tray, and a large, pitcher filled with water. The icy water gushed
over Crabtree's feet, making him shiver with the cold, but the crabs
were undaunted and only clung the closer.
The noise soon aroused the entire hotel, and the clerk, several
bell-boys, and finally the proprietor, rushed to the scene. The
door was flung wide open.
"Have you been drinking, sir? How dare you disturb the hotel in
this fashion?" demanded the proprietor.
"The crabs! Take them off!" yelled Crabtree, continuing to dance
"Crabs? What made you bring crabs up here?"
"I--I--oh, my toes! Take them off!" shrieked Josiah Crabtree,
and kicked out right and left. One of the crabs was flung off, to
land in the hotel proprietor's face and to catch the man by the
"My nose! He will bite it off!" cried the hotel man. "Kill the
thing, Gillett--smash it with a-a-anything!"
And Gillett, the clerk, tried to do so, while the hotel man and
Crabtree continued to dance around in the wildest kind of fury.
Safe in their own room, the boys laughed until they cried. All
had gone to bed, and Tom lost no time in getting under the covers.
"Somebody has played a trick," began Crabtree when an extra nip on
his knee cut him short. "Oh, my, I shall die!" he moaned. "I
know I shall die!"
By this time the proprietor of the hotel had freed himself from
the crab that had nipped him on the nose. "You won't die, but
you'll get out of this hotel," he snarled. "Throw the crabs out
of the window," he continued to his employees, and after a good
deal of trouble one crab after another was hurled forth, the
window being kept open in the meantime and the icy draught causing
Crabtree to shiver as with the ague. As there seemed no help for
it the ex-teacher began to dress again with all possible speed.
"If I find out who did this I'll--I'll kill him," moaned Josiah
Crabtree. "I've been nipped is a hundred places!"
"You'll leave this hotel!" said the proprietor. "I've had enough
of you. First the room didn't suit, then the price was too high,
and at dinner and supper you found all manner of fault with the
menu. You'll go, and the quicker, the better."
"But look here--" began Crabtree.
"I won't argue with you. Either get out or I'll have you arrested
as a disorderly character."
"Not a word. Will you go quietly, or shall I have you put out?"
"I'll--I'll go!" gasped Josiah Crabtree, and five minutes later
he was on the cold street, satchel in hand, and saying all manner
of unpleasant things under his breath.
"Oh, Tom!" laughed Sam, and could go no further. Each of the boys
had felt like exploding a dozen times. It was not until an hour
after that any of them managed to get to sleep.
When they came down in the morning the hotel clerk winked at them.
"I'm not saying a word," he whispered. "But it served the old
crank right. Even the boss is doing a little smiling, although he
got quite a nip himself."
"Really, I don't know what you are talking about," answered Tom.
Then he shut up one eye, stuck his tongue into his cheek, and
strolled into the dining room.
"He's an out-and-out boy, he is," murmured the clerk, gazing after
Breakfast was finished, and the cadets were strolling around the
hotel awaiting further instructions from Captain Putnam, when a
man drove up to the door in a big livery-stable sleigh.
"I am after some boys bound for Putnam Hall," he said. "Captain
Putnam telegraphed to the boss to bring 'em up to the Hall in
"Hurrah!" shouted Sam. "Such a long ride will just suit me!"
"If it doesn't prove too cold," was Dick's comment.
There was but one seat in the turnout, the back being filled with
straw and robes. "Take your lunch with you," said the driver.
"For it's a long trip we have before us, and I reckon a part of
the road ain't none too good."
The clerk of the hotel was consulted, and soon a big lunch-box was
packed, containing sandwiches, cake, and a stone jug of hot
coffee. This was stowed away in the straw, and the lads piled in,
laughing merrily over the prospect before them.
"Off we go!" shouted Larry, and with a crack of the whip the
sleigh started. It was drawn by a heavy pair of horses, who
looked well able to get through any snowdrift that might present
Ithaca was soon left behind, and they sped swiftly along a road
running northward, a half mile more from the west shore of the
lake. The road was level, and somewhat worn by travel, and for
the first three miles good time was made.
"If we can continue this gait we'll reach Putnam Hall by three or
four o'clock this afternoon, allowing an hour's rest at noon,"
said the driver in reply to a question put by Frank. "But we have
still a number of small hills to climb, and it's not going to stay
as clear as it was early this morning."
The latter remark was caused by the sun disappearing under heavy
clouds. Soon it began to snow, at first lightly, and then heavier
"We're going to catch it!" said Tom, after the noon stop had been
taken at a wayside hotel, where they had taken dinner, keeping the
boxed lunch for later on. "The snow is four inches deeper than it
On they went again, the snow becoming so thick at last that they
could scarcely see a yard before them. It was very cold, and the
cadets were glad enough to huddle in the straw, with the robes
over them, leaving the driver to pick his way as best he could.
An hour had gone by, and they were wondering if they were anywhere
near Cedarville, when a wild shout rang out, and the next instant
came a crash, as their sleigh collided with another coming from
the opposite direction. A runner of each turnout was smashed, and
the occupants of the other sleigh came tumbling in upon the lads
in great confusion.
"Great Caesar! what's this?" groaned Tom as he shifted a weight
from his shoulders, and then he stared in amazement as he found
himself confronted by Nellie Laning!
"Tom Rover!" burst from the girl's lips soon as she could recover
her breath. "Did you ever!"
"Well, hardly!" murmured Tom, as he helped her to, a sitting
position. "You're coming in on us fast. What's the trouble? Oh,
and there is Grace and your father!"
"The sleighs ran into each other," answered Nellie. "Can you stop
the horses, father?" she called out.
"Yes, but the sleigh is a goner," answered Mr. Laning, and then
some sharp words passed between himself and the livery-stable
driver. There was no doubt, however, but that the blinding storm
was largely responsible for the accident.
An examination proved that both sleighs would have to be abandoned,
and then the two parties sought shelter at a nearby farmhouse, while
Mr. Laning went off on one horse, and the livery-stable driver on
another, each to borrow a sleigh elsewhere.
This left the boys in the company of the girls for over an hour,
and during that time Dick, Tom and Sam asked a great many
questions, especially about Mrs. Stanhope and Dora.
"Yes, the marriage is to come off next week, Thursday, unless
something prevents it," said Nellie. "Dora is fairly sick over
the prospect. What Aunt Lucy can see in Mr. Crabtree is more than
any of us can understand."
"He must have hypnotized her," observed, Dick. "It's a shame! I
wish old Crabtree was in Jericho!"
"So do all of us!" laughed Grace, and then Sam took her off for a
quiet chat, while Tom, monopolized Nellie.
"Those Rover boys think a great deal of the Lanings and
Stanhopes," observed Larry to Fred. "Well, it's all right--they
are awfully nice girls, every one of 'em!"