Dick Hamilton's Cadet Days/Chapter 6

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CHAPTER VI


THE HAZING


One morning, two days after the arrival of the silent lad, when Dick had moved his baggage to his permanent room in the south barracks, the two lads were strolling about the campus. Dick was beginning to wish his companion was more sociable, when Will, with a sudden gesture, pointed off toward the town, along the main road that led from the station. Dick looked, and saw a cloud of dust approaching.

"What's that?" he inquired.

"Fellow's coming," was all Will replied.

He started off toward the main gate, and Dick followed. The dust clouds became larger, and approached closer. Then Dick saw that they were made by two large stages, and, a little later, he could discern that the vehicles were crowded with youths.

Above the rumble of the wheels could be heard laughing, joyous voices. There were shouts, yells, cheers, whoops and cries.

"Three cheers for Kentfield!" called some one, and the resulting yells caused the horses of the stage to prance more madly than ever.

A few moments later the vehicles had halted at the gate, and from them, pell-mell leaped the cadets, returning to the academy after the long, summer vacation.

"There's William the Silent!" cried one lad, rushing up to Dick's odd friend, and shaking hands with him. "Hello, Will! How are you? Are you the only one here, so far?"

William merely nodded. Then he waved his hand toward our hero.

"Dick Hamilton," he said.

Dick stepped forward to greet the students, expecting them to tell him their names. From the group of cadets that had gathered around Will, a tall, good looking chap, but with rather a hard, cruel gleam in his dark eyes, stepped forth.

"What's your name, new chap?" he asked somewhat sneeringly.

"Hamilton—Dick Hamilton," replied the young millionaire.

"Oh, Hamilton—Millionaire Hamilton's son, eh?" asked Dick's questioner, with an unpleasant air.

"I believe so," answered Dick, trying to smile good-naturedly in spite of the overbearing air of the lad, who was no older than himself.

"I've heard about you," went on the other. "Fellows," he said, turning to those surrounding him, "this is the young hostage of fortune who has consented to dwell a while in our midst. I saw a little paragraph in the paper a few days ago to the effect that Millionaire Hamilton's son had decided to take a course at Kentfield Military Academy. That is he condescended to inflict his presence on us. I'm sure the academy is highly honored," and the lad made a mocking bow.

Dick felt the hot flush rising to his face. He had never been so insulted before. An angry reply was on his lips.

"Millions don't go here, Hamilton," said another youth. "Your money won't count, and the sooner you find that out the better. Come on, fellows, let's see if old Toots is still alive, and then we'll have some fun."

"Ta-ta, Hamilton, I suppose you brought a solid gold bedstead with you," said the lad who had first spoken, as he turned on his heel, and followed the others. "Maybe you'd like to buy the place," he fired back over his shoulder.

"You—you——" began Dick angrily.

He was stopped by a touch on his shoulder. He looked around, to see William the Silent standing near him.

"Take it easy," was all Will said, but Dick understood.

Choking down, as best he could, his righteous wrath at the mean treatment accorded him, Dick strolled down to the lake. Will did not attempt to follow, for he understood.

Sorely puzzled over the conduct of those whom he hoped would be his friends, Dick got into a boat, and went out for a solitary row. He wanted to be alone and think.

"It's queer they should treat me that way," he mused. "I'm sure I don't make any fuss about my money. Maybe they are afraid I'll try to, and they're taking no chances. But they ought to give a fellow a show first."

After rowing about for an hour Dick felt better. He resolved not to force his friendship on the students, but to let matters take their course. He had expected a little "stand-offishness" on the part of the older cadets, who were always, more or less, inclined to be on their dignity with freshmen.

"Well, I'll wait until some new fellows arrive," thought Dick. "I guess I can make friends with them."

When he returned to shore he found that many more students had come in, the next day marking the opening of the term. Among the lads were a number of new cadets, as Dick could easily tell by their bashful, diffident manners. He felt that he had somewhat the advantage of them, for he had been at the place more than a week.

"Still, my only acquaintances, outside of the teachers are William the Silent, Toots and the hostler," he reflected.

There was a notice posted on the campus bulletin board to the effect that all new students were to report at the south barrack. Thither Dick went, finding Captain Hayden, the head master in charge, showing the boys to their rooms.

"Ah, Hamilton," called the captain, as he caught sight of Dick, "you are to room with Paul Drew, on the second floor. Room Twenty-six is yours. I think you can find your way there. Go up and take Drew with you."

A tall quiet youth greeted Dick with a smile. "I'm Drew," he said. "I suppose you're Hamilton?"

"What there is of me," answered the millionaire youth. "Is this your first term?"

He knew it was, but he wanted to say something.

"Yes. I'm from Kentucky."

"I'm a York Stater. Come on and I'll show you where we bunk."

The two made their way through crowds of new boys and were soon in their apartment.

It was like all the others provided for the use of the students. It contained two small iron beds, and was simply furnished.

"Here's where we'll be at home," observed Dick. "Have you any choice as to a bed?"

"No, either one will suit me."

"All right, we'll toss up for it. Heads is the one nearest the window. You call."

Dick spun a coin in the air.

"Tails!" cried young Drew.

"Tails it is," announced Dick.

"Then I'll take the bed away from the window. It's likely to be cold in the winter."

"I don't mind. I like a cool breeze now and then. But stow away your things and come on down. There's lots to see. I hope we get into our uniforms soon. You've got yours, haven't you?"

"Yes," replied Dick's roommate. Dick had been provided with the necessary dress uniform before leaving home, and he was anxious to don it. The other uniforms were to be obtained at the academy.

The two boys, after hastily putting away their things, went down on the campus, which was fairly swarming with old and new students. More boys were arriving with every stage, and the shouts and cries, as former acquaintances greeted one another, made the green sound like an athletic ground with a championship match in progress.

As Dick and Paul stood looking about them, the young millionaire felt some one touch him on the arm. He turned and saw William Schoop. Will nodded his head to indicate that he wanted Dick to step aside for a moment. Excusing himself from his roommate Dick walked a little distance, following William the Silent.

"Don't mind Dutton," said William.

"Who's Dutton?" inquired Dick.

"Fellow that rigged you. He's an uppish chap, but he's a leader with the upper classmen. Don't let him worry you."

This was a longer speech than Will usually made.

"But why should he be down on me because I've got money?" asked Dick. "It isn't my fault."

"Very exclusive school, this," explained Will. "Patronized by old, blue-blooded families, who pretend to have a horror of the newly-rich."

"But my father has been wealthy many years."

Will shrugged his shoulders.

"They seem to have a prejudice against you," he went on. "Don't mind. It'll wear off. Dutton—Ray Dutton's put 'em up to it. He's a cad. Don't mind him," and with that Will turned and walked away.

"Well, I guess I can get along without Dutton and his crowd," thought Dick. "Queer, I never supposed money would make this sort of a difference. It didn't at home. Well, I'll try to get along, but it's evidently going to be up-hill work. Still, I'll do it, and, if money stands in the way—well——"

Dick shrugged his shoulders in a sort of helpless fashion, and rejoined Paul. The two strolled about, noting the scenes taking place on every hand. They saw many cadets, obviously freshmen, and some of the latter introduced themselves to Dick and his companion. They were Franklin Boardman, Stanley Booker, Lyndon Butler and Eugene Graham.

"Let's stick together for a while," proposed 'Gene, as the boys called him. "It'll soon be grub time, I understand, and we'll sit near each other."

This suited the others, and, when the gong rang, summoning them to the mess hall, the six lads went in a body, finding seats in a row on one side of the long tables, which were served by colored waiters.

Discipline had not yet been put into force, and no one was in uniform. The mess hall was a lively place, for the older cadets were continually calling jokes back and forth to their chums, or jollying the waiters whom they knew of old.

Dick and his new acquaintances conversed together, and, in spite of their rather awkward feelings, managed to partake of a good meal, for Kentfield Academy was noted for the excellence of its cuisine.

When the meal was nearly over Toots appeared in the hall, with a hammer, and a piece of paper. He tacked a notice up on the bulletin board.

"Hey, Toots; what's that?" called Ray Dutton.

"Notice about appearing in uniform, Mr. Dutton," replied the odd soldier.

"When's it to be?"

"To-morrow morning."

"Aw, tear that down, Toots, you imitation brigadier general you!" called another youth.

"Sure. We don't want to tog up until the first of the week," added another. "Swallow that, Toots, and tell the commandant you lost it."

"Orders is orders," said Toots firmly, hammering in the last tack, and leaving the hall.

The afternoon was spent in assigning the new cadets to their classes, and arranging for the courses of study. They were told that formal drills would not begin until Monday, this being Thursday, nor would any recitations be heard until then.

After supper, or dinner as it was called at the academy, the new boys strolled about in little groups, Dick and his five friends keeping together.

"I wonder where all the older cadets are?" said Dick, as he looked about, and noticed that none was in sight.

"That's so, they have disappeared," added Lyndon Butler. "I wonder what that means?"

They did not have long to wait for an answer. A figure slid up to Dick, and, almost without turning he knew it to be Will. The silent youth spoke but one word:

"Hazing!"

Then he walked away as silently as he had approached, and Dick turned to his companions.

"I guess they're getting ready to haze us freshmen," he remarked.

"I thought they didn't haze here," said 'Gene Graham quickly. He was rather a small chap, and seemed very nervous.

"I guess they do it in spite of the rules," said Dick. "Well, the best way is to take what's coming, and bear it as well as you can. If you don't it will be unpleasant for you. I don't believe it will be very bad."

"Are you going to let 'em haze you?" asked Paul Drew.

"Sure," answered Dick.

"Then I guess I will, too."

"Well, I s'pose it's got to be," said little 'Gene with a sigh. "I hope they don't toss us in a blanket, though."

"If they do, just lie still, and you'll come down easy," advised Dick. "It'll soon be over."

That night, in their room, Dick and Paul heard the sound of footsteps along the corridor. Then came smothered cries, and strange sounds in the apartments adjoining.

"They're coming," whispered Paul.

Dick nodded grimly.

A moment later there came a soft knock on their portal.

"Well?" asked Dick, though he knew who it was.

"Open, in the name of the Ancient and Honorable Order of the Mystic Pig," came the demand in a whisper.

Dick opened the door, and in rushed several of the older cadets, led by Ray Dutton.

"Oh, we've drawn a millionaire!" Button cried, in sneering tones. "Well, take the other chap first, fellows. Lively, now, we've got a heap of 'em to initiate!"

Several lads seized Paul, who submitted with as good grace as possible.