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 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
"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."
"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
"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
"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
"Tom, you're getting more cheeky every day," was Dick's comment,
yet he was far from displeased over what his brother had
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
"We want to get to Cedarville before the shops close," said the
"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.
"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."
"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
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!"