9. Celebrating The Victory
 

"Oh, what luck!"

"And just when we wanted to make time, too!"

"I hope it doesn't take us long to put on another tire!"

These remarks came from the three students as they climbed down from the car to make an examination of the damage done. Sam had secured his searchlight, but this was hardly needed. One glance at the left-hand back tire told the story. They had evidently run over something sharp-- perhaps a piece of glass-- and there was a cut in the shoe at least three inches long. Through this, the inner tube had blown out with the report that had so startled them.

"Well, boys, everybody on the job!" cried Tom, and lost no time in stripping off his coat and donning a jumper, which he carried for use when working on the car.

"I suppose that's my fault," said Songbird, much crestfallen.

"It might have happened to any of us, Songbird," returned Sam. "Let us see how quickly we can put on another shoe and inner tube." He, too, put on a jumper, and in a few minutes the boys had the back axle of the touring car jacked up.

"You hold the light, Songbird," directed Tom. "Sam and I can do this work without any help." Then the two Rovers set to work, and in a very short time the old shoe with its inner tube had been removed. In the meantime, Songbird had brought out another inner tube, and unstrapped one of the extra shoes attached to the side of the car, and these were quickly placed over the wheel rim.

"Now, let me do my share of the pumping," insisted Songbird.

"Nothing doing on that score, Songbird!" replied Tom, quickly. "We had a new power pump installed last week. I will attach it, and then you can start up the motor."

"A power pump! Say, that beats hand pumping all to pieces."

"Indeed, it does!" broke in Sam. "I never minded putting on a new tire, but the pumping-up always came hard."

"Say, this puts me in mind of a story," came from Tom, with a grin. "Some Germans were going on an automobile tour, and a friend was bidding them good- bye. Says the friend: 'Uf you haf a blowout, be sure and haf it in de right place-- at de hotel!'" And at this little joke there was a general laugh.

Five minutes more found them again on the way, and now Songbird had the large lights turned on, which made the roadway ahead as bright as day. He drove as speedily as possible, but with great care, avoiding everything that looked as if it might harm the tires.

"Oh, what a splendid time I have had!" exclaimed Minnie, as, all too soon, the Sanderson homestead was reached. Then Songbird assisted her to alight, and insisted upon accompanying her into the cottage.

"I will wager he would rather stay here than go on to Brill," remarked Tom, slyly.

"Sure thing!" returned Sam. "Wouldn't we rather remain at Hope than go to Brill?" And at this pointed remark both of the girls giggled.

Those outside waited for several minutes, and then Tom sounded the horn loudly. Soon Songbird re-appeared and took his place at the wheel, and then the automobile was turned in the direction of the seminary.

"When will we see you again?" remarked Nellie, when the touring car had been run through the grounds.

"Oh, it won't be very long," replied Tom. But as he spoke, little did he realize under what peculiar conditions they would come together again.

"If you hear anything more about that money affair, let us know at once," whispered Sam to Grace.

"I will, Sam," returned the girl; and a few minutes later the young folks bade each other a fond good-night, and the touring car turned towards Brill.

The lads were still some distance from the college grounds when they heard the sounds of horns and rattles. Then they beheld a glimmer of light down by the river bank. Soon the light brightened until it covered a goodly portion of the sky.

"Some bonfires and some noise!" was Sam's comment.

"Well, we don't defeat Roxley every day in the year," returned Tom, gaily. "Say, this suits me right down to the ground! Songbird, you ought to get up a poem in honor of the occasion."

"Perhaps I will," answered the would-be poet of the college, and then he began to murmur to himself. Evidently the poem was already beginning to shape itself in his fertile mind.

"I say, you Rovers!" came a call as the car swung into the roadway lining one side of the campus. "What's the matter with giving us a joy ride?" and one of the students came running forward, followed by several others. Two of them carried torches made of old brooms dipped in tar.

"Nothing doing to-night," returned Sam quickly, and added in a whisper to Tom: "Those fellows would wreck the car completely."

"I know it," answered the older Rover, and then he said aloud: "We have had all the run we want this evening. We are going to celebrate with the rest of the crowd down at the river." And without stopping to argue the matter, Tom ran the automobile to its garage.

"Back, safe an' sound, eh?" questioned Abner Filbury, as he came forward to take charge of the machine.

"Ab, you look out that some of the fellows don't take this car to-night," warned Tom.

"There ain't no cars goin' out less'n I've the correct orders for 'em," replied Abner. "This is the last machine in, an' I'm goin' to lock up an' stay on guard. If anybody tries to break in here against orders, they'll git a dose of buckshot in 'em." And Abner pointed grimly at a shotgun that hung on one of the walls.

"Oh, Ab, don't go in for shooting anybody!" exclaimed Sam, in alarm. "Turn the hose on them, that will be enough."

"All right, jest as you say. But they ain't goin' to git in here at these machines without permission."

Tom and Sam made a hasty visit to their room, and then hurried downstairs again and off to the waterfront. Here, several bonfires had been lit. They were composed of boxes and barrels with a large quantity of brushwood added, and one bonfire was nearly twenty feet in height.

"Here they come!" called out a student.

"Hurrah for our pitcher!"

"And the best fly catcher Brill ever saw!"

"Say, this is certainly some bonfire!" exclaimed Sam, looking at the big blaze.

"It sure is!" returned his brother. "If the wind should shift, it might prove dangerous," he added, as he watched a great mass of sparks floating across the stream and over the woods beyond.

"Oh, it's perfectly safe," came from Paul Orben, who was one of the students who had helped to pile up the combustibles.

The crowd was certainly a gay one, and the Rovers lost no time in joining in the festivities. One student had a bugle, and another had an old base drum which boasted of only one head. These two succeeded in forming a crowd of their fellow-students into marching order, and, singing gaily and tooting horns and sounding rattles, and with numerous torches flickering, the collegians tramped around the college buildings and over the campus and then back to the bonfires.

"Whoop! Hurrah!" came a sudden yell, and from one of the distant barns rushed half a dozen students, dragging behind them a buggy. On the seat, wearing an exceedingly tight jockey jacket, and likewise a jockey cap, sat old man Filbury, the general caretaker of the dormitories.

"Hurrah! Here the conquering hero comes!"

"It's a race-- a race for a thousand dollars!"

"I'll bet on Filbury, every time!"

"Now, see here, gents, I don't like this at all. You lemme out o' this here kerridge," wailed the old man-of-all-work. "I ain't doin' none o' this celebratin'. I got some work to do. You let me go."

"Oh, we couldn't think of it, Filbury," cried Stanley, who was one of the students at the shafts of the carriage. "Now then, boys, together!" And along the turnout rattled, past the various bonfires.

"Speech! Speech!" came another cry. "Filbury, can't you say something about Brill and this glorious victory?"

"Never mind the victory," came from Tom. "Let him tell us about how to pass our examinations without studying."

"And how to get credit down in town without paying any bills," put in another student, who, evidently, had hard work making both ends meet.

"I tell you, I ain't a-goin' to make no speech," wailed old Filbury. "I've got work to do. You lemme go."

"Sam," whispered Tom, catching his brother, by the arm, "what's the matter with giving William Philander a ride with old Filbury?"

"Just the cheese, Tom!" returned the young Rover. "But how can we do it?"

The matter was talked over for a short minute, and Spud and Bob were called in to aid. William Philander Tubbs sat on a small packing case which had not, as yet, been fed to the flames. He was, as usual, faultlessly attired, even down to his spats.

Passing the word to those who had charge of the carriage and who were doing their best to get some fun out of old Filbury, Tom and Sam and their chums worked their way to a position behind William Philander. Then came a sudden rush, and the dudish student found himself caught up and carried bodily over to the carriage, where he was unceremoniously dumped on the seat beside the old man-of-all-work.

"My gracious me! What does this mean?" gasped the astonished William Philander. "I don't want any ride, I want you to leave me alone."

"All aboard, everybody!" sang out Tom, and gave the carriage a shove from behind. Before the dudish student could attempt to leap to the ground, the turnout was once more in motion and dashing along the campus roadway as fast as the students could pull and push it.

"Them boys is plumb crazy!" gasped old Filbury.

"Oh, I never! We shall certainly be hurt," wailed William Philander. And then, as two wheels of the turnout went over a big stone, he clutched old Filbury wildly by the shoulder. Then the carriage struck another stone, and both occupants held fast for dear life. Three times the turnout, with its terrified occupants, circled the campus. All the while William Philander and old Filbury were yelling wildly for their tormentors to stop. But now, a long rope had been hitched fast to the front axle, and fully two dozen students had hold of this, fresh ones continually taking the places of those who became tired out. As it was, Sam and Tom went around twice, and then fell out to rest.

"Say, Washer," said a student named Lamar to his close chum, "here's a chance to square up with old Filbury for the way he treated us."

"What do you mean?" asked the student named Washer.

"Let us get in the lead on the rope, and run the carriage down to the river."

"Say, that's just the cheese!" chuckled the other. "We'll do it. I think old Filbury deserves something for reporting us as he did."

On and on went the carriage, but at the turn in the roadway it was suddenly hauled over the grass and between some bushes.

"Oh, Tom, look! They are heading for the river!" cried Sam.

"All aboard!" yelled Washer. "Now then, straight ahead!" He and Lamar had headed for the water. Some of the students tried to turn to the right or the left, but others followed the leaders. In a moment more, the carriage had reached the sloping bank of the river. Then the crowd scattered, and a moment later the turnout, with a twist, struck the water and went over sideways, plunging old Filbury and William Philander into the stream.