The Wizard of the Sea/Chapter 3

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"He is dead!"

"Run for the doctor!"

"A piece struck me, too!"

"The cannon must have been overloaded!"

Such were some of the cries which went up after the awful explosion.

Captain Hooper stood close at hand, and instantly went to our hero's assistance.

He caught the youth up in his arms and carried him to a shady spot.

"Bring some water," he commanded, but water was already at hand. With it he bathed Mont's head.

For a minute there was an intense silence. Then, with a quiver, the lad opened his eyes.

"Wha—what—— Did the cannon burst?" he asked feebly.

"Hurrah! He's all right!" shouted Link joyfully, and inside of five minutes more Mont stood up and gazed about him in wonder.

But he was too weak to take part in the review, and while this went on sat in a rustic chair under the oak tree, with several of the lady visitors by his side.

The reception to the guests over, the cadets were dismissed, and the crowd lost no time in dispersing.

Link remained with his chum, and both walked towards the lake.

"How do you feel?" asked Link anxiously.

"Rather faint in the legs, to tell the truth," was the reply. "But I guess I'll soon get over it."

"Ready to do that fighting?" demanded a rough voice at their elbow, and Hoke Ummer ranged up at their side.

"For shame, Hoke, Mont isn't in condition, and you know it," said Link.

"Oh, nonsense!" growled the bully. "That cannon affair was only a fake. He wasn't hurt a bit."

This remark angered our hero, and, stepping up, he faced the bully defiantly.

"I will fight you whenever you say," he said stoutly.

A boy standing near heard the remark, and the news spread like magic.

"A fight between Hoke and Mont. Come on down to the woods."

The schoolboy cadets needed no second invitation. A score started from the campus instantly.

They were about evenly divided as to who would win.

The bully was known to be heavy and strong.

Yet our hero had shown lots of pluck.

In a corner of the grounds, shut out from view from the school windows by a belt of trees, the boys assembled to witness the conflict.

Mont prepared for the encounter, assisted by Link.

Ummer, satisfied of an easy victory, placed himself in the hands of his toady and backer, Bill Goul.

When the combatants were declared ready they faced each other.

As Hoke looked into the unflinching eyes of his opponent the smile of satisfaction he had worn for the past few hours suddenly faded.

He could see he must do his best to win.

"But I'll mash him, see if I don't," he said to his toadies.

"That's right, Hoke!"

"Show him what you can do."

Mont said nothing.

"He's a tough one," whispered Link. "Beware of a foul."

"I'll have my eyes open."

The boys took off their coats and vests.

A ring was formed and our hero and the bully got into position.

"Time!" cried one of the older boys, and the great fight began.

At first Mont was cautious, for he wanted to take his opponent's measure, so to speak.

Sure of victory, the bully rushed at him, and aimed a blow at Mont's nose.

Our hero ducked, and Hoke's fist only sawed the air.

"That was a clean duck."

"Land him one, Hoke!"

"Go for him, Folsom!"

Around and around the ring went the two boys.

Then the bully aimed another blow at our hero.

As quick as a flash our hero warded it off.

Then out shot his fist, and the bully of Nautical Hall got a crashing blow in the chin that knocked him clean off his feet.

What a yell went up!

"Hoke is knocked out!"

"Did you ever see such a blow?"

Wild with rage, the bully was assisted to his feet by several friends.

The blood flowed from his chin and from a cut lip.

"I'll show you yet!" he hissed, and again went at Mont.

But our hero was cool and collected, while the bully was excited.

The bully got in one little body blow, but that was all, while our hero fairly played all over his face.

"Better give it up, Hoke!"

"You are outclassed against Mont Folsom!"

"Let me be!" howled the bully.

With every blow that our hero delivered Ummer's anger increased.

His reputation, he felt, was at stake.

If he was beaten that would be the end of him, so far as bossing the boys was concerned.

At last Mont hit him a stinging blow on the ear that caused him to roll over and over.