The Rover Boys at School





CHAPTER XXIV

 

PREPARING FOR A MID-NIGHT FEAST

 

 

Dick was in a quandary as to how he was to treat all of his

friends, and called Sam and Tom to him for consultation.

 

"I've got a dollar and a quarter," said Sam, "you can use that,

and welcome."

 

"And here is a dollar and ten," added Tom, passing over the amount

in ten cent pieces and nickels.  "Haven't you any money of your

own?"

 

"I have two dollars and thirty cents," answered Dick.

 

"That makes four dollars and sixty-five cents," said Tom, summing

up.  "That's enough for a pretty fair blow-out."

 

"So it is, Tom, but where is the stuff to come from?  Mrs. Green

won't sell it to me."

 

"That's true."

 

"And she has her pantries all locked up."

 

"Oh, pshaw!  You don't want to treat the boys on school stuff,"

said Sam.  "Get 'em something from Cedarville--some bottled

soda, candies, nuts, and things like that."

 

"That's the talk, Dick.  Let us sneak out after dark and go to

Cedarville!" cried Tom.  "That would just suit me."

 

"I'll think it over," answered his big brother slowly.

 

After supper found most of the cadets indoors, for the night

promised to be cold.  About half of the boys remained in the

library, while the others betook themselves to their rooms.

 

"Well?" queried Tom, as he approached Dick on the stairs.

 

"I'm ready, Tom," answered his brother.

 

"But be careful, or we'll be spotted."

 

Like a pair of ghosts they glided up the front stairs, along the

broad hallway, and down the stairs in the rear.  The door was

unlocked, and they passed into the yard.

 

"Let us take Peleg Snuggers into our confidence," whispered Tom.

"For a quarter I am certain he'll let us have one of the captain's

nags."

 

"You can test him if you wish," answered Dick, who was doubtful.

 

Peleg Snuggers was found in the harness room shining up some

buckles by the aid of a stable lantern.

 

"Hullo, Peleg--working rather late," was Tom's greeting.

 

"Yes, sir--got behind," answered the utility man.  "What brought

you here?"

 

"I want a horse, Peleg.  Which one can I have?"

 

"A horse!  Did the captain send you?"

 

Instead of replying Tom held out a silver quarter.  "Don't ask

questions, Peleg, but just let me take a horse for an hour or two,

that's a good man."

 

"Can't do it, Master Rover--against orders, sir."

 

"Oh, yes, you can.  We won't hurt the beast.  We are bound to get

to Cedarville and back before ten o'clock.  Do you want us to drop

on the road from exhaustion and be frozen to death?" and Tom put

the question in all seriousness.

 

"No, no, certainly not!"

 

"Then bring out a horse.    Here, take the

quarter, Peleg, and much obliged to you.  Hurry up."

 

"Was there ever such a boy!" grumbled the man; but, nevertheless,

he arose and got the horse ready for them, hooking the

animal to a small cutter.

 

"Remember, if the captain learns of this, I don't know nothing

about it...," he called out, as the two boys drove off by a back

way, out of sight of the main building of the institution.

 

"Peleg is all right, if you know how to handle him," said Tom, as

he took the reins from Dick.

 

"I'll let him out a bit, and we'll drive to Cedarville in a

jiffy."

 

"Tom, you're getting more cheeky every day," was Dick's comment,

yet he was far from displeased over what his brother had

accomplished.

 

Away went the cutter, the roads being now in an excellent

condition.  Soon Putnam Hall was left far behind, and they came

within sight of the Stanhope homestead.

 

"I'd like to stop for just a minute," said Dick, but Tom shook his

head.

 

"We want to get to Cedarville before the shops close," said the

younger brother.

 "We can stop on the way back--if we have time," and they

continued on their way.

 

Both knew Cedarville "like a book," as Tom expressed it, having

been there so many times before.  They drove straight to the

largest confectionery in the village.

 

"A pound of chocolates, a pound of marshmallows, a pound of iced

fruits, and five pounds of best mixed candies," said Dick, and the

articles were quickly put up for him.

 

"How much?"

 

"A dollar and thirty cents, please."

 

The bill was paid, and they hurried to another store, where they

purchased two dozen bottles of soda water, a dozen bottles of root

beer, and five pounds of mixed nuts. 

 

Inside of half an hour they had started on the return, the various

articles purchased stowed safely away in the back of the cutter.

 

"We'll have at least fifteen minutes to spare," said Dick, and

waited as patiently as possible until the Stanhope homestead again

appeared.  As soon as they gained the entrance to the garden, Dick

hopped out, ran up the path to the porch, and rang the bell.  Dora

Stanhope answered his summons.

 

"Oh, Dick, is that you?" she cried.  "Come in."

 

"I can't stay but a few minutes, Dora," he answered as he entered

the hall.  "I must get back to the academy.  I thought I would

just stop to see how you are getting on."

 

"Oh, everything is the same, Dick."

 

"I heard the marriage was to take place this week."

 

"Yes."

 

"Let me tell you something," went on the boy, and told her of the

letter to be sent from Chicago to Josiah Crabtree.

 

"Oh, I hope he gets it and goes!" exclaimed Dora quickly, and her

face brightened a bit.

 

"Send me word if he does," said Dick.

 

"Hurry up!" cried Tom from the sleigh, when his big brother put in

an appearance again.  "I'm most frozen stiff!"  And on went the

cutter, the horse feeling quite fresh after his rest.

 

"I'll go ahead and see if the coast is clear," said Dick, when

they reached the vicinity of the stable, and he leaped into the

snow.  It did not take long to walk to the barn.  He was gone but

a few minutes, and came back on a run.

 

"We are in for it!" he cried.  "Mr. Strong is down at the stable

talking to Peleg Snuggers."

 

"Great Caesar!  What's to do?"

 

"Get the stuff out of the sleigh first and hide it near the Hall

in the snow," answered Dick.  "Be quick!"

 

His advice was followed, Tom carrying the soda water and root beer and

Dick the other things. All were hidden in a snow bank--directly under

the dormitory window.

 

This accomplished, Dick led the horse up to the back of the stable

and unhitched him.  He could hear George Strong and the utility

man talking less than twenty feet away.

 

"Very well, Snuggers, I'll be back shortly," he heard, coming from

the head assistant, and Strong walked from the stable toward the

Hall.

 

In a twinkle Dick ran around the stable corner.  "Quick, Peleg,

here is the horse, all unhooked.  Put him in his stall.  The

cutter is back there, out of sight," and as the hired man took

possession of the animal, the youth ran off, to join his brother

at the entrance to Putnam Hall.

 

"The door is locked!" groaned Tom.

 

"Something is wrong."

 

Without replying, Dick ran around to a spot under the dormitory

window.  Making a soft snowball, he threw it against the glass,

and followed this by several others.  Presently the window was

thrown up, and Sam, Fred, and Larry showed their heads.

 

"Say, you fellows, help us up!" cried Dick softly.  "There is a

wash line in the closet--the one my Aunt Martha insisted on

tying around my trunk when we came here last summer."

 

There was a scramble in the room, and presently the end of the

line was thrown out.  It was new and strong, and quite capable of

supporting either of the lads' weight.

 

"You go first, Tom but be quick!" said Dick softly, and his

brother caught hold and went up with ease, bracing one foot after

another against the rough stonework and projecting bricks.  Then

the rope came down a second time and Dick ascended.

 

Hardly were the boys in the room than there came a loud knocking

on the door.

 

"It's Mr. Strong!" gasped Sam.  "What shall we do now?  It looks

as if we were a caught!"

 

 

 



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