Dick Hamilton's Cadet Days/Chapter 28
UNCLE EZRA AT KENTFIELD
The rest of that day, and far into the night, ignoring the warning of tattoo and taps, the cadets discussed the sham battle. It had been a glorious affair, and they fought it all over again in their tents, the defeated ones explaining that if "this" had happened, "that" wouldn't have taken place.
"But for all that, you can't deny but that Dick saved the day for Dutton," argued Paul.
"He certainly did," was the general reply.
The battle practically ended the military instruction at camp. The next day was devoted to resting and light drills. Several lads had received severe sprains or bruises, due to their haste or enthusiasm, and one horse had a cut leg caused by the accident to the bridge.
There was some disposition to criticize Dutton for not seeing that the structure was secure before sending his artillery over, but Major Webster declared that as no serious accident had resulted no fault could be found. As for the young major it was bitter for him to have to admit, as he grudgingly did, that he would have failed but for Dick Hamilton.
Another day spent in camp, when all discipline was relaxed, and the cadets were allowed to do about as they pleased, brought the outing to a close. Then all sorts of tricks were played, and more than one crowd of freshmen found their tent coming down unexpectedly about their heads that night, as the mischief makers loosened the pegs.
Bright and early the next morning the tents were struck, the baggage was loaded into the wagons, and the "hike" to the academy was begun. The cadets fell into line, and with swinging step, to the tune of "The Girl I Left Behind Me," paraded off the camping ground.
It was rather hard to settle down again to the grind of lessons, but Colonel Masterly and his colleague knew how to handle boys, and in between study and recitation periods were drills and cavalry and infantry exercises so that gradually the routine was resumed again, and every one felt better for the outing.
One day, as Dick and Paul came in from the campus, they saw a notice on the bulletin board. It was to the effect that candidates for the 'Varsity baseball team would report in the gymnasium that night.
"That's the stuff!" cried Dick enthusiastically.
"Are you going to play?" asked Paul.
"Sure. Why not?"
"Well, you didn't get much show at football last year."
"Can't help it. I may this time."
"Dutton is just as much against you as ever."
"I know it, but I may get a chance just the same. I'm going to begin training, and I'll keep at it until the last game."
Dick was as good as his word. He rather hoped he might make the regular nine, but he learned that Dutton and his set were against him, and the best he could do was to be named as a substitute shortstop.
The season opened rather badly for Kentfield, for they lost the first game, and that against a small college team. It was because Captain Rutledge was so confident that he did not play his men with any vim, and several bad fumbles cost them the game.
They won the first of the championship contests with Mooretown academy, and lost the second, making it a tie, and so the third game, which would be played at Kentfield that spring, would be an important and the deciding one.
Dick got an opportunity to play on the regular team once during the last few innings, but as the game, which was with a small college, was won by the cadets before he went into it, his performance did not receive much credit.
"If I only get a chance to play against Mooretown," he said to Paul, "I'll be satisfied. Anyhow, I'm one of the subs."
It was the day of the great and deciding game with Mooretown. Dick was struggling into his trousers and blouse in his room, when Toots brought him word that there was a visitor for him in the reception room.
"Who is it, Toots?" he asked. "I haven't much time. Most of the fellows are already on the diamond."
"He says his name is Honeybee, as near as I can make out."
"Honeybee," repeated Dick, much puzzled. "Oh, it must be Larabee. It's my Uncle Ezra!"
Then a look of annoyance came over his face.
"If I go down to see him he'll keep me from the game," he thought. "I haven't any time to spare. He'll lecture me about the waste of time in playing baseball, or the danger of it, or something like that. Or he may want me to show him around the academy. No, he's not likely to do that, for fear he'd wear out his shoes. I wonder what in the world he can want, anyhow? But if I see him now I'll never get a chance to play. I'll not see him."
"Toots," he said, "tell my uncle that I have an important engagement, and ask him to wait until I come back."
"All right, Mr. Hamilton," replied the janitor. "Shall I tell him what it is? Maybe he'd like to see the game," and Toots softly whistled "Just Before the Battle, Mother."
"No! No! Don't tell him!" exclaimed Dick. "He thinks baseball is wicked. Just say—say anything you like except that. I'll come back as soon as the game's over—if I'm alive. He won't mind waiting. It will give him a chance to think."
Which perhaps was not exactly polite on Dick's part. He hurried off, leaving Uncle Ezra in the reception room, wondering what important business his nephew had that kept him so long. And, by not seeing his Uncle Ezra, Dick missed hearing a bit of news that was destined to make a great change in his affairs. But he heard it later, as you will see.
While our hero was on his way to the field, hoping that he would get a chance to play, Uncle Ezra sat in the reception room. He was not very impatient at the delay. As Dick had said, it gave him a chance to think.
Presently the door opened, and Russell Glen looked in the apartment. He was in search of Dutton, having been told the young major was there. Not seeing his friend, he was about to withdraw, with an apology for having disturbed Mr. Larabee.
"Are you one of the students here?" asked Dick's uncle, who was getting rather tired waiting.
"Yes. I'm in my second year."
"Ah, then you must know my nephew, Richard Hamilton?"
"Oh, yes, I know Dick."
"Richard is his proper name," corrected Mr. Larabee stiffly.
Glen nodded, and was about to go out.
"If you see him, I wish you would tell him to hurry," went on Mr. Larabee. "I have been waiting for some time for him, but he sent word that he had an important engagement, and would see me later."
Glen guessed what the "engagement" was, so he merely nodded.
"I want to see him very particularly," continued the aged man, "as I have some important news for him. It may make a great difference in his life. In fact, I'm sure it will."
Glen opened his eyes at this, and decided not to go just yet.
Has some one left him some more millions?" he asked in a joking tone.
"Far from it," said Mr. Larabee in solmen accents.
"Eh?" asked Glen, wondering what was coming.
"I always said it was foolish for my sister to leave Richard so much money," went on Mr. Larabee severely, "and I told Mortimer Hamilton that he was risking his money to go to Europe. Now, what I said would happen has happened."
"Is Mr. Hamilton in trouble?" asked Glen, not a little rejoiced to find that difficulties were in store for Dick.
"Well, I'd call it trouble to lose nearly all my fortune. But it serves Mortimer right, and Richard also."
"Has Mr. Hamihon lost his money?" inquired Glen, coming closer to Mr. Larabee.
"A large part of his is gone also. It was invested with Mr. Hamilton's. I received word of it yesterday, and I hurried to come here and tell him. A New York bank, in which Mr. Hamilton was largely interested, and in which were most of Dick's funds, as well his father's, has failed."
"Then Mr. Hamilton isn't a millionaire any longer?"
"I fear not."
"And Dick?" asked Glen eagerly.
"He has very little left."
"Whew!" whistled the cadet. This would be news indeed to the students. He must hasten and tell them.
"That's what I came to see my nephew about," went on Mr. Larabee. "I want him to come away from this expensive school, and live with me until his father returns. Oh, the money that young man has wasted! It is awful! Terrible!" and Uncle Ezra seemed about to faint with the horror of it.
"Shall I find Dick for you?" asked Glen.
"I wish you would, young man. I want to tell him this news, and take him back with me. I have a return ticket on the railroad, and if I stay over night it will be no good. Besides I am afraid my hired man will use kerosene oil in starting the fire if I am not home by morning, and he might burn down the house. One can not be too careful of money. Mortimer and my nephew are a terrible example. Find him for me, if you will, please."
"I will," promised Glen, hurrying away. "My word!" he exclaimed as he ran out on the campus. "Hamilton's money all gone! Then he's no better than the rest of us now. He'll come down a peg or two."
Considering that Dick had never tried to hang himself on a "peg," this seemed a useless as well as cruel remark.
"I wish I had borrowed a hundred from him yesterday, instead of fifty," mused Glen, as he hurried on toward the baseball field. As he neared it he heard shouts and cheers.
"The game's started," he exclaimed, as he broke into a run.