10. The Fire At Hope
 

"My, what a dive!"

"Everybody to the rescue!"

"Somebody get some life-preservers!"

So the cries arose as the students ran from every direction and lined the bank of the river, which, at this point, was but a few feet deep.

Old Filbury was the first to reappear, and as he stood up in water and mud that reached his waist, he shook his fist at his tormentors.

"You'll pay for this!" he cried. "I'll fix yer! I'll have yer all sent home, you'll see if I don't!"

In the meantime, William Philander had also struggled to his feet. He had lost his cap, and on the top of his head rested a mass of grass and mud. He came out of the water spluttering and shaking himself.

"I won't stand this! I'll have you all arrested!" he gasped.

"It was an accident," came from one of the students.

"It was not! It was done on purpose!"

"Sure! it was done a purpose!" roared old Filbury. "I never seen such goin's on in my life!"

"Never mind, you needed a bath, Filbury," shouted one student. And at this there was a laugh.

"I am going to report all of you," stormed William Philander. "Look at this suit, it is ruined!" and he held up the sides of his coat to view. The water and mud were dripping profusely from the garment.

"Better go down to the gym and get under a shower," suggested Spud.

"I am not. I am going to my room," retorted William Philander. And then, of a sudden, he took to his heels, burst through the crowd, and hurried toward one of the college buildings. At the same time, Filbury started to run for one of the stables.

"Say, Tom, that was rather rough," remarked Sam, after the two had disappeared.

"It sure was, Sam. I didn't think they would run the carriage into the water like that."

"It was Washer's and Lamar's fault."

"I know it. They are always out for carrying a joke to the limit. I suppose they had it in for old Filbury, and they must have had it in for Tubbs, too."

"I wonder if either of them will make a kick over the way they have been treated," put in Bob. It may be stated here, that, in the end, nothing came of the incident. Filbury stormed around a little, and so did William Philander, but, to their credit be it said, both were "sports" enough not to take their complaints to the college management.

All good times must come to an end, and by midnight the bonfires had burned themselves out, and, one by one, the students retired. The carriage was righted and taken back to the place where it belonged.

For the best part of a week after this, but little out of the ordinary occurred. With the excitement attending the close of the baseball season over, the Rovers applied themselves more diligently than ever to their studies. During that time they received notes from Grace and Nellie, stating that nothing new had developed concerning the missing four-hundred-dollar ring. They also received another letter from Dick, in which the oldest Rover boy stated that he and the lawyer had made a final settlement with Pelter, Japson & Company, and that he had heard that the brokers were about to leave New York City for good.

"By the way, Tom," said Sam, after reading the letter from Dick, "this puts me in mind: What became of that fellow we hauled out of the river?"

"The last I heard of him, he was still under the care of Doctor Havens."

"Don't you think we ought to call on him? He might want to see us."

"If he wanted that, Sam, wouldn't he send us word? Perhaps, if he is any relation to Jesse Pelter, he would rather we would keep away from him."

Dear Mr. Rover:

"I want to thank you and your brother for what you did for me. I shall never forget it. Even were I in a position to do so, I would not insult you by offering you any reward. You, perhaps, have learned my name, and maybe you are wondering if I am related to Mr. Pelter of Pelter, Japson & Company, of New York City. Mr. Pelter is my uncle, and for a number of years I made my home with him. I do not altogether like his way of doing business, and do not uphold him in his dealings with your family. But he is my uncle, and on several occasions he has assisted me very materially. For that reason, I think it is best that we do not meet. "Again thanking you, I remain

"Yours truly,

"Barton Pelter."

On the following morning a letter came addressed to Tom, and bearing the Ashton postmark. On opening the communication, he was much interested to read the following:

"I guess that explains it," said Sam, after he, too, had read the communication. "He didn't want to face us because of his relationship to Jesse Pelter."

"I am glad that he doesn't uphold Jesse Pelter in his actions, Sam."

"More than likely he would be glad to come and see us in order to thank us in person for what we did for him if it were not for his uncle, and the fact that his uncle has aided him. You know the old saying, 'You can't bite the hand that feeds you.'"

"I wonder if he is still in Ashton?"

"We might telephone to the hotel and find out."

Later on this was done, and the boys were informed over the wire that Barton Pelter had left early that morning, taking his automobile with him.

"Well, only one week more of the grind," remarked Sam one morning on arising. "Aren't you glad that the closing day is so near?"

"I think I would feel a little better if I knew how I was coming out with my examinations," returned his brother.

"But, Tom, it won't make any difference to you, if you are not coming back."

"That may be, but, just the same, I would like to get as much credit as possible while I am here."

Some of the examinations had already been held, and others were to come off within the next few days. As a consequence, the majority of the students were exceedingly busy, so that there was little time for recreation.

Since the Rovers had come to Brill, the college had been endowed with the money to build an observatory. This structure had now been completed, and the boys took great delight in visiting it and looking through the telescope which it contained. It stood on the highest hill of the grounds, so that from the top, quite a view of the surrounding country could be had.

"I am going to the observatory," said Songbird, that evening. "There is going to be some kind of a transit, and I want to see it. Either of you fellows want to come along?"

"I can't,-- I've got a paper to finish up," returned Sam, who was busy at his writing table.

"I'll go. I need a little fresh air," said Tom, and reached for his cap.

At the observatory the boys found one of the professors and about a dozen students assembled. The professor was delivering something of a lecture, to which the boys listened with interest, at the same time taking turns looking through the big telescope.

"It's a wonderful sight," murmured Tom, after he had had his look. Then, followed by Songbird, he walked to a little side window which, with several others, faced in the direction of Hope Seminary.

"I suppose you would rather be at Hope than here," remarked Songbird, dryly.

"And you would rather be at the Sanderson cottage than anywhere else in the world," retorted Tom.

"It's too bad, Tom, that you are not coming back next Fall," went on Songbird, seriously. "I don't know how we are going to get along without you."

"It can't be helped. I've got to help Dick. Father is too broken down to attend to business, and I don't think it is the fair thing to put it all off on Dick's shoulders."

"Oh, I understand. But Sam will come back, won't he?"

"I think so. One of us, at least, ought to finish the course here. Dick and I are cut out for business, but I think Sam ought to go into one of the professions."

"I wish I knew what I would like to do, Tom," continued Songbird, wistfully.

"Oh, some day you will be a celebrated poet."

"I think I have got to do something more substantial than write poetry."

"Well, it all depends on the brand of poetry, Songbird." And Tom began to grin. "There are some fellows who make big money at it."

"I'd like to know who they are?" questioned the would-be poet, eagerly.

"The fellows who write up some new brand of safety razor or breakfast food."

"Tom!" And Songbird looked positively hurt. "How can you be so cruel and degrade poetry so?"

"Well, they do it, I don't. Now, if you----" Tom brought his words to a sudden stop, and commenced to stare out of the window. Far over the distant wood he had seen a strange light. Now it was increasing rapidly.

"What is it? What do you see?" demanded Songbird, as he realized that something unusual had attracted his chum's attention.

"Look there!" cried Tom, pointing with his finger. "Doesn't that look like a fire?"

"It surely does," replied the other, after a hasty inspection. "But it may be only some brush heap that a farmer is getting rid of."

"I don't know about that. Say, haven't they got a pair of field glasses here?"

"Sure!" and Songbird turned to get the article mentioned.

As rapidly as possible, Tom focused the glasses on the distant light, and took a careful look.

"Great Scott! it's a fire-- and at Hope Seminary!" broke out the youth. "It looks to me as if the whole place might burn down!"

"What! A fire at Hope!" cried Songbird, and his words attracted the attention of all the others in the observatory. He, too, took a look through the glasses, and one after another the remaining students did the same.

"It certainly is a fire, and at the seminary, isn't it, Tom?"

Tom did not answer. He had already started to leave the building. Straight down the hill he tore, and then up to the building where he and the others had their rooms. He burst in on his brother like a cyclone.

"Sam, come on, quick! There is a fire at the seminary!"

The younger Rover, who was deep in his writing, looked up, startled.

"What is that you said, Tom?"

"I said, hurry up; come along; there is a fire at the seminary! The girls may be in danger! Come on, let us go there in the auto."

"Oh, Tom, are you sure of this?" And now Sam leaped up, brushing his writing to one side.

"Yes, I saw the fire from the observatory." And in as few words as possible, Tom gave his brother the particulars. He was already donning his automobile outfit. Sam followed suit, and both boys ran downstairs and to the garage.

By the time they had the touring car ready, Songbird, Stanley, Spud, and several others had joined them. The word had been passed around that there was a fire at Hope, and permission to go to the conflagration was readily granted by the college management.

"All aboard who are going!" sang out Tom, who was at the wheel, with Sam beside him. Then, after several collegians had climbed into the tonneau, away the touring car dashed over the road leading to Hope.