Dave Porter at Oak Hall/Chapter 15
A FEAST AND A SNEAK
All of the boys interested in the feast tried to appear unconcerned during the evening, but each wished that the time to retire would arrive.
"I trust Plum and Macklin don't suspect what is going on," said Sam Day. "They are always on the lookout to upset our plans."
"We must keep our eyes peeled for them," answered Roger. "It's the best we can do."
Promptly on time the boys of dormitories Nos. 11 and 12 retired. The bottle of root beer was put out for Murphy, along with a generous slice of cake and some candy, both done up in a paper napkin.
There were more than enough cakes and candies to go around. Several pitchers, of ice water had also been brought up, and two of the students set to work to make lemonade.
Promptly on time the monitor passed and called out: "Light out!" in his usual monotonous tone. Then of a sudden he stuck his head in at the door. "Mind now, no noise," he said, softly, and withdrew again.
"He's a gem," came from Phil.
The boys waited for quarter of an hour, until all seemed at rest in the Hall. Then they gathered in dormitory No. 12, and brought forth all the good things to eat and to drink. Cakes were cut, and glasses filled, and the candy was passed around, and likewise the fruit.
"This is peachy!" exclaimed Buster Beggs, taking a huge mouthful of orange layer cake.
"Thought that was orangy," came from Dave, with a grin.
"Oh, you know what I mean. I wish we could have a feast once a week."
"So say we all of us!" sang Roger, in a low tone. "Now, I like this chocolate cake best of all."
"Which puts me in mind of a story my mother used to tell," came from Shadow. "Now, hold on, I'm going to tell it, so just sit still and listen. A man went into a bakery run by a couple of elderly maidens. Says he, 'Which is your best cake?' Says the lady behind the counter: 'I like chocolate cake, Angelina likes pound cake, and brother Leander prefers raisin cake. You can take your choice. It was all baked last week, Tuesday, and one is almost as stale as the other.'"
"That's the worst yet," came from Roger, with a groan. "Next time tell something more cheerful."
"Let's have a toast!" suggested Phil. "To the jolly boys of Oak Hall. And may they never—"
"Be found out when they are having a feast," finished Dave.
"And never want for the wherewith to have another feast," put in Roger.
"And stick to each other through thick and thin!" continued Buster Beggs.
"So say we—"
"All of us!" came in a chorus, and the toast was drunk in root beer and lemonade. Then one of the crowd started to sing one of the school songs, but was promptly hushed by Phil.
"Hold on, we mustn't get Murphy into trouble," said he. "Somebody might—"
"Listen!" came in a whisper from Dave, and he held up his hand.
"What did you hear?" questioned Ben and Roger, in a breath.
"I think I heard somebody moving through the hallway. Wait."
A hat had been placed over the keyhole of the door, to keep the light from streaming into the hall. Without disturbing this, Dave walked through the room to the next dormitory, and opened the door there slowly and noiselessly. A glimpse outside brought to view Chip Macklin on his knees, trying to learn what was going on within No. 12.
Still making no sound, Dave glided up to the sneak and caught him by the collar with one hand and placed the other over Macklin's mouth.
"Don't make a sound, Macklin!" he said in a low tone. "Not a sound unless you want an awful thrashing!"
The sneak was taken completely by surprise and began to shiver. He wanted to cry out, but could not. Dave made him rise, and led him into dormitory No. 11.
"Shut that other door, between the rooms," said Dave to Roger, and the order was quickly obeyed, and the hall door was also closed. Then Chip Macklin was marched to a corner, and confronted by all who were taking part in the feast.
"Now, what have you to say for yourself?" demanded Dave. "Don't talk too loud."
"I—I—it's all a mistake!" whined the sneak.
"You'll find it was a big mistake before we are done with you," said Sam Day, grimly.
"I detest a sneak," added Ben.
"I—I didn't mean any harm."
"You were spying on us, and were going to report us," said Phil.
"I say you were."
"That was certainly his game," said Roger. He turned to Chip Macklin, "Does anybody else know of this?" he questioned, sharply.
"I—I don't know."
"Did you tell Gus Plum?"
"Let us teach him a lesson," put in one of the other students. "Tie his hands behind him."
This was done, and a minute later some one else took a pillow-case and tied it over Macklin's head, that he might not see.
"Don't—don't smother me," pleaded the sneak.
"We won't smother you, Macklin. Now be still."
"But I wasn't going to do any harm," whined the sneak.
"To play the part of a sneak is bad enough for anybody."
"We ought to duck him in the river," came from one.
"Hang him up by his heels in the gym.," added another.
At these suggestions Chip Macklin gave a deep groan.
"Don't do it—please, don't do it!" he cried. "Let me off this time and I'll never—never spy on you again!"
"That's what you said last spring," answered Phil. "If you had had the chance to-night, you'd have gotten us into a whole lot of trouble."
"I've got an idea," whispered Roger, and then he called all of his companions to one side. A whispered conversation ensued, lasting several minutes.
"That's an idea!" said Dave, and the others said the same.
Shadow opened the hall door of dormitory No. 11, and announced that the coast was clear. Then Roger faced Macklin once more.
"Now, listen, Macklin," he said sternly. "We are going to teach you a lesson for spying on us. If you report what we do, or what you have seen to-night, you'll be treated ten times worse in the future. Do you understand?"
"Yes, yes! But, but—"
"There are no buts to it," added Phil. "You have got to stand for your dose, and that is all there is to it."
"Wha—what are you going to do with me?" quaked the sneak.
"You'll learn soon enough, never fear."
"Please don't duck me in the river. I'll catch my death of cold, and I don't know much about swimming."
"We shan't take you to the river."
"We want to keep the water unpolluted," added Phil.
"And don't—don't hang me up by the heels, please! My head gets so dizzy—"
"Doesn't it get dizzy spying on folks?" asked Dave.
"Away with him to yonder dungeon cell!" came in a deep voice from Buster Beggs. "Chain him to the wall, and let the lean and ravenous rats feast upon his vitals!" And the fat youth struck a stage attitude.
"Hold on, you're stealing Horsehair's stage business," said Sam Day. "That's just the way he recites that address to the Romans."
Two of the boys tiptoed their way into the hall and listened on the stairs. All was dark and silent, for Murphy had long since retired and so had the other monitors and the teachers.
"It looks safe," said one, on returning to the dormitories.
"Come on," answered Roger. "Now, Macklin, take hold of my hand and walk along, and mind you don't make any noise. If you do—well, you'll be mighty sorry, that's all."
In another moment, Roger, Dave, and Phil were out in the hallway, with the sneak between them. The course of the lads was to a rear hallway and then down a long stairs, and through a narrow entry, leading to another stairs.
Macklin shuffled along hesitatingly and they took care that he should not fall on the stairs. "Not a word, mind!" whispered Roger into his ear, and he remained mute, although shivering with fright.
At last the four students stood in the cellar of Oak Hall, and here Dave lit a bit of candle he had brought along. Then they moved forward again, until they stood before one of the big coal vaults. The door was of heavy wooden slats and unlocked. All marched inside, and the bit of candle was placed on an empty box that was handy.
"'Tis a goodly dungeon, truly," said Phil, in the deepest bass voice he could command.
"And here is the chain," answered Dave, bringing forth a long dog chain he had picked up out of a tool chest in the lower hall.
The chain was tied around one of Macklin's ankles, and then fastened to an iron pipe running along the wall. Then all saw to it that the sneak had his hands still bound tightly behind him.
"Now, Macklin, pleasant dreams, but don't let the rats gobble you up," said Roger.
"Are you going to—to leave me?" cried the sneak, trembling from head to foot.
"Yes. But don't be afraid, we'll come back for you by morning," answered Dave, who did not wish to frighten the lad too much.
The pillow-case was removed from the sneak's head, so that he might breathe freely, and then the other boys ran from the vault, closing the slatted door after them, and shoving a board in front to keep it tight.
"Don't—don't leave me, please don't!" cried Macklln after them, as the candle-light disappeared from his view.
"We'll be back—don't worry," answered Phil. "A few hours in the dark will do you good. You can reflect upon how mean it is to act the sneak," and then the three passed out of Macklin's hearing.
"I hope it doesn't scare him into a fit," said Dave, as he and Roger and Phil hurried back to the dormitories.
"Don't worry about that," answered Phil. "Macklin is a coward, but he isn't as weak as all that. He wanted to play on our feelings, that was all. It won't hurt him a mite to leave him in the vault until to-morrow morning."
"I wonder if Gus Plum won't go out on a hunt for him."
"My gracious! I never thought of that!" ejaculated Phil. "Sure he'll go out. They occupy the same room."
"In that case Gus Plum may be watching us already."
Without loss of another moment they hurried back to the dormitories. They met nobody and heard nothing to alarm them.
"I reckon we are safe enough—at least, for the time being," said Roger, when they were inside once again. "Come, let us make the most of the feast while it lasts."