I let Ritter have it in the ear,” said Pepper. “But I say, fellows, we want to be on our guard.”
“Do you think they played more jokes on us?” questioned Hogan. “Sure an’ it would be just like ’em to do it, so it would!” he added.
“It certainly won’t do any harm to look around,” suggested Jack. “It won’t take but a few minutes to do it.”
Pepper held up his hand.
“Wait!” he whispered, and sliding to the door, threw it open suddenly. Outside he found Ritter, Baxter, and Coulter. The trio were amazed at being thus suddenly confronted.
“I thought so!” cried Pepper, triumphantly.
“Oh, go to grass!” muttered the bully of the school, and walked away.
“We’ll fix you another time,” muttered Ritter.
“And do it well too,” added Coulter.
Pepper waited until he had seen the others enter their dormitory and then closed his own door again.
“I’ve found something!” cried Andy, and dove into his pillow-case. “Filled with snow!”
“Snow for Snow!” said Jack.
“That’s a cold pun,” observed Dale. “Just the same, here is snow in my pillow too. Say, we just got this in time. It would have melted before long and then our pillows would have been wringing wet.”
“Don’t say a word about snow,” said Emerald. “Just be after lookin’ at this now!” And he held up three icicles he had dislodged from his bed. “Ain’t they iligant foot-warmers though!”
Without delay the other boys looked into their beds, and soon all the icicles were disposed of, and the snow was likewise cleaned away. They then made another hunt around the dormitory, to make certain that nothing else was wrong.
“I guess we are safe now,” said Jack, at last. “But what a mess this would have made if we had not found it out in time!”
“I know what I am going to do,” said Pepper, decidedly.
“What, Imp?” came from several of the others.
“I’m going to pay the Baxter crowd back, and with interest.”
And the others instantly agreed to help him.
THE DOCTORED CAKE
Two days later Pepper and Andy were out on the lake skating, when Andy broke his skate and pitched flat on the ice.
“Hullo, what are you doing?” cried Pepper.
“Looking to see how thick the ice is,” was the merry retort.
“I thought you were looking for stars,” went on the Imp.
“No, thanks, I didn’t go down on the back of my head. Just the same, my left skate is broken.”
“That’s too bad.”
Both of the boys looked the broken skate over, and then retired to the old boathouse to see if they could not fix it. By chance they entered the place which Dan Baxter’s crowd had been using from time to time as a rendezvous.
“Hullo, look here!” cried Pepper, gazing around. “I didn’t know that anybody came here.”
“Neither did I.”
“Here are lots of cigarette butts.”
“Yes, Pep, and—look in the corner.”
Pepper looked in the direction pointed out. From under a pile of old leaves, which the wind had blown into the boathouse when the door was open, shone the neck of a bottle.
“A wine bottle, I declare, Andy. Can it be that some of the fellows have been drinking down here?”
“I don’t know. It looks a little like it.”
“But that is against the rules.”
“So is smoking, and those butts look to be pretty fresh.”
The boys were mystified, but could not answer the question which arose in their minds. They looked around for what they were after, but could not mend the broken skate.
“I’ll have to take it down to Cedarville and have it mended,” said the acrobatic youth. “Maybe I can get off to-morrow.”
“If you can’t, I’ll lend you a pair, Andy. I have two.”
“Thank you, Pep. But I like this pair. They just fit my feet.”
It was not until the following Tuesday that Pepper, Andy, and Jack got permission to visit Cedarville, the nearest steamboat town on the lake to Putnam Hall. In the meantime, on Monday, Dale and Hogan came to them in some little excitement.
“We have got news,” said Dale.
“Dan Baxter is going to celebrate,” added the Irish cadet. “Sure an’ he’s going to have an iligant spread, so he is!”
“What is he going to celebrate?” asked Pepper, with interest.
“He got a big allowance from home—smuggled it past Captain Putnam, too,” explained Dale. “As a consequence, he is going to give the fellows of his dormitory a feast, or something like that.”
“How did you learn all this?” asked Jack.
“By accident. Baxter passed a note to Paxton, who dropped it. I thought it was some plot against us, and read the note. Then I heard Paxton telling Billy Sabine. Baxter is going to make it the biggest spread ever given in this school.”
“That is our chance to get even with him!” cried Pepper, his eyes dancing. “We ought to doctor up that feast for them.”
“How can we do it?” asked Jack.
“Oh, I’ll think up something before the time comes,” answered the Imp. “When does it come off?”
This was all Dale and Emerald could tell, and a minute later Jack, Pepper, and Andy entered the classroom for the afternoon session.
It was not until after school on Tuesday that the three boys started for Cedarville. It was rather a long distance, but they did not mind it. They skated part of the way on the lake and then took to the wagon-road.
Cedarville was not a large place, but it boasted of some rather good stores, and also a blacksmith shop and several churches. The cadets went to the churches from time to time and were fairly well known to all of the storekeepers.
Having left the broken skate where it could be mended, Andy and his chums walked around the town and made several small purchases. Coming out of one of the stores they met a farmer whom they knew, he having delivered potatoes and other vegetables at the Hall.
“How are you, Mr. Shepard?” said Jack.
“How do you do, boys?” answered the farmer. “Visitin’ town, eh?”
“No, we’re out hunting elephants,” answered Pepper, with a grin.
At this the farmer, who was a good-natured man, laughed.
“Got to have your joke, I see,” he observed. “How be you gettin’ on at school?”
“Bang-up,” answered Andy.
“Captain Putnam is a powerful good man.”
“Yes, we all like the captain,” answered Jack. “How are matters at your farm this winter?”
“Kind o’ slow. Had some of the boys over yesterday.”
“A feller named Baxter and two friends. They come fer some apples an’ cider an’ some other things. Got my wife to cook a turkey fer ’em too.”
“Oh, yes, we know something about that spread,” said Jack, carelessly. “He is going to give some of the boys something great.”
“Have you delivered the stuff yet?” asked Pepper.
“Goin’ to at supper time to-morrow night.”
“Not at the academy?” said Andy.
“No, he said it was to be a surprise on everybody.”
“On some of the fellows,” corrected Pepper.
“You are going to leave the stuff somewhere for him, I suppose,” said Andy.
“Yes—outside the grounds—at seven sharp,” answered Amos Shepard, and then as a farmhand came along, he walked away with the man.
“This is certainly news,” was Pepper’s comment.