Dave Porter at Oak Hall/Chapter 14
BEN BASSWOOD'S ARRIVAL
The students to participate in the proposed feast had made out a list of the things desired, so Dave and Roger had to do no thinking on that score. The senator's son led the way to the baker's shop, and here they procured several cakes and also a dozen chocolate eclairs and cream puffs. Then came a trip to the candy shop across the way, where they obtained several pounds of confectionery. Next they called at a grocery, for sugar and some lemons for lemonade.
"I wish we could take along some soda and root beer," said Roger. "But I am afraid the bottles would be too heavy."
"I've got an idea," answered Dave. "Let us get the stuff and hide it under the seat of the carryall. We can get it out of the carriage to-night, when Horsehair isn't around."
"Just the thing—if the scheme will work!" cried Roger. "Let us risk it, anyway. A dozen bottles won't cost a fortune, and the storekeeper can leave them right in the box."
They were soon at the shop where soda and other "soft" drinks were sold, and there procured a case containing one dozen bottles of various kinds and flavors. This they took from the shop by a back way, and had it stowed under the rear seat of the carryall before Jackson Lemond put in an appearance. With the box they put their bundles of cake and candy and the other things.
"Here comes the train!" announced the driver, and in a moment more the express rolled into the station and half a dozen people alighted.
"There is Ben!" shouted Dave, and rushed forward to meet his friend, followed by Roger. All were soon shaking hands.
"You're looking fine," said Ben to Dave, as he surveyed the country lad critically. "I declare you look like a regular dyed-in-the-wool academy student already!"
"And that is just what he is," said Roger. "And we are getting to be great chums," he added.
"I'm glad of that," went on Ben. "I can tell you I am that happy over coming to Oak Hall I don't know what to do. You see, I've heard about this school for so long."
"You'll like it," said Dave. "I can't see what fault anybody could find."
"We've been buying some things for a spread, in honor of your arrival," whispered Roger. "They are under the carriage seat. But mum's the word, for we don't want the driver to know."
"I've got some cake and stuff in a box in my trunk," whispered Ben in return. "Here's the check. I hope they didn't smash things too much. They handle trunks pretty roughly on this railroad."
"They do on all roads," declared the senator's son. "That's the reason they call baggagemen trunk-smashers."
The check was passed over to the Hall driver, and soon the trunk was lashed to the back of the carryall, and off the crowd started for the Hall. On the way Ben told of affairs at Crumville, and of a visit he had paid to the Wadsworths and Caspar Potts.
"The old professor is very proud to think you are doing so well here," said Ben. "And the others are delighted too."
"And how is Professor Potts's health?"
"They told me it was better than it had been. He takes care of the flowers and does a great deal of writing for Mr. Wadsworth. And what do you think?" cried Ben, suddenly. "Nat Poole is thinking of coming to this academy."
"What, to Oak Hall!" ejaculated Dave.
"Exactly. I heard it by accident."
"I don't like that."
"Neither do I, but he has as much right to come here as we have."
"Who is this Nat Poole?" questioned Roger.
"A rich young fellow who lives not far from Crumville," answered Dave. "He is a high-flyer, and loves to lord it over everybody around him."
"Something like Gus Plum?"
"I don't think he is as rich as Plum, and he is not quite so rough. He's one of the mean, insulting kind."
"I guess I understand. Well, if he comes here he had better mind his P's and Q's or he'll get into hot water," was the comment of the senator's son.
When the Hall was reached the driver of the carryall dumped Ben's trunk at the main entrance of the building, and then drove around to the stable.
"I'm going around with Horsehair," said Roger, with a wink. " Here, take these bundles," and he handed over several articles to Dave, who rushed off without delay, and stowed them in a far corner of one of the dormitory closets, under some clothing. He had just accomplished this when Phil Lawrence appeared.
"Say, Phil, Roger is at the stable, and I guess he wants to see you," said Dave, significantly.
"All right, I'm on," was Phil's answer, and off he ran to help with the other things. Dave in the meantime rejoined Ben, who was still at the front door. The office bell was rung, and Dr. Clay immediately put in an appearance.
"So this is Master Basswood," he said, shaking hands. "I am pleased to know you, and I welcome you to Oak Hall. Come into my office, and you may come too, Master Porter, if you wish."
A short talk took place in the office, and Ben was questioned briefly in regard to his studies. Then both were dismissed, and Dave took his friend up to dormitory No. 12.
"This is to be your bed," said Dave. "That is mine, that is Roger's, and those belong to the other fellows in our set. Next to this room is dormitory No. 11, connecting with this by that door. No. 11 and No. 12 always pull together in everything, and we are going to have that feast to-night."
"All providing something doesn't occur to cut it short," said Ben, with a grin. "I've heard that Dr. Clay is very strict about these things."
"He has to be—or some of the fellows would ride right over him. But we've fixed it to get rid of one of the teachers—Job Haskers—and the head monitor, Murphy, will sort of stand in with us,—so I fancy all will go smoothly."
The trunk had been brought up, and Dave assisted his friend to stow away his things. From the depths of the receptacle, Ben brought forth more cake and candy, and a jar of raspberry jelly, with a couple of spoons and a table knife.
"We'll have enough and to spare, that's certain," was Dave's comment. "Now, if only—"
Hurried footsteps through the hallway interrupted him and then the handle of the door was tried.
"It is I, Roger," was the answer. "Open the door, quick!"
The door was unlocked and opened, and in came Roger and Phil, carrying the case of bottles and some other things between them. As soon as they had entered, they shut the door behind them.
"That sneak of a Chip Macklin was watching us," cried the senator's son. "My, but I'd like to run him out of town!"
"Do you suppose he found out what you were up to?" asked Dave, in equal alarm.
"I don't know—I hope not."
"If he found out, the jig is up," groaned Phil. "He'll blab, as sure as eggs are unhatched chicks."
"Where is he now?"
"Oh, we gave him the slip. He thought we were coming up one stairway, and we went the long way around."
The bottles were taken from the case and secreted in a number of the beds, and the case itself was turned upside down, covered with a cloth, and made to look like a footstool. This done, Phil and Ben were introduced to each other; and a little later the newcomer was introduced to Buster Beggs, Sam Day, Shadow Hamilton, and half a dozen other students who made up the occupants of dormitories No. 11 and No. 12. All seemed to like Ben, and the latter soon felt quite at home among them.
The message had been sent to Job Haskers, and immediately after supper the assistant teacher arrayed himself in his best and hurried away.
"He'll be mad when he learns he has been fooled," said Phil. "But he'll have to make the best of it."
"What did you write to him?" asked Roger, for Phil had been the one to pen the note.
"Told him that a young lady who was much interested in him wished to have an interview," answered Phil. "He was to meet her at the railroad station not later than ten o'clock. She would wear a white rose pinned to her dress. It was great to see Haskers swallow the bait," and Phil chuckled, while some of the others laughed outright.
"If he finds you out he'll kill you," said Buster Beggs.
"Which puts me in mind of a story I once read," began Shadow. "A lady once—"
"Stow it away, Shadow!" cried Roger. "Those stories will come in handy to-night."
"That's it!" cried several others. "Shadow can tell what he pleases to-night," and at this Hamilton smiled, for it was becoming hard to get anybody to listen to his yarns.
During the evening Dave and Roger took Ben around the grounds, showing the newcomer the boathouse, the gymnasium, and other points of interest. While down by the river Dave related the incident of the gasoline launch.
"I'd square up with Gus Plum for that," said Ben.
"We shall," answered Dave. "Just give us time."
"Does Plum know anything about this spread for to-night?"
"I should hope not."
With Job Haskers gone. Murphy was delegated to do the hall work of the assistant teacher. As soon as this became known Roger called the monitor aside.
"Say, Murphy, I've got a toothache and another fellow in our room has the earache," he said. "So, if you hear us moving around to-night, don't make any fuss over it."
"All right, only don't move around too lively," answered the monitor, with a grin. "What gave you the toothache?"
"I think some candy will give it to me," said Roger. "Here, have some, will you?" and he passed over a bag of chocolates.
"Thanks, Morr." Murphy smacked his lips. "Got anything to wash this down with?"
"There'll be a bottle of root beer in the corner of the hall to-night when lights go out."
"Good enough." The monitor paused. "But, mind you, not too much noise, or I won't stand for it."
"We'll be as quiet as mice in a lion's cage," assented the senator's son.
"I'll wager it was you got Job Haskers to leave to-night?"
"Oh, he went away because he got a message to do so."
"Sure, and who sent the message?" and Murphy closed one eye suggestively.
"The party who wrote it, I reckon," answered Roger, coolly. "But that isn't our affair, is it?"
"Not at all—not at all," said the monitor. "A bottle of root beer in the corner of the hall. All right, and what shall I do with the empty bottle?"
"Leave it in the corner and we'll take care of it later. Now stuff your ears and be good!" added Roger, and with this remark he hurried off to join his chums once more.