1. The Boys Of Putnam Hall.
 

"Hurrah, boys, the lake is frozen over! We'll be sure to have good skating by to-morrow afternoon!"

"That's fine news, Tom," came from Sam Rover. "I've been fairly aching for a skate ever since that cold snap of two weeks ago."

"We'll have to start up some skating matches if good skating does really turn up," put in Dick Rover, who had just joined his two brothers in the gymnasium attached to Putnam Hall. "Don't you remember those matches we had last year?"

"Certainly, Dick," answered Tom Rover. "Didn't I win one of the silver medals?"

"Gracious! but what a lot has happened since then," said Sam, who was the youngest of the trio. "We've gotten rid of nearly all of our enemies, and old Crabtree is in jail and can't bother Mrs. Stanhope or Dora any more."

"We didn't get rid of Dan Baxter," remarked Dick. "He gave us the slip nicely."

"Do you think he'll dare to bother us again, Dick?" questioned Sam anxiously.

"I hope not, but I'm not certain, Sam. The Baxters are a bad lot, as all of us know, and as Dan grows older he'll be just as wicked as his father, and maybe worse."

"What a pity a fellow like Dan can't turn over a new leaf," came from Tom Rover. "He's bright enough in his way, and would make a first-rate chap."

"It's not in the blood," went on Dick. "We'll have to keep our eyes open, that's all. If anything, Dan is probably more angry at us than ever, for he believes we were the sole means of his father being put in prison."

"Old Baxter deserved all he got," murmured Sam.

"So he did."

"Well, if Dan Baxter ever bothers me he'll catch it warm," came from Tom. "I shan't attempt to mince matters with him. Everybody at this school knows what a bully he was, and they know, too, what a rascal he's been since he left. So I say, let him beware!" And so bringing the conversation to an end for the time being, Tom Rover ran across the gymnasium floor, leaped up and grasped a turning-bar stationed there, and was soon going through a number of exercises recently taught to him by the new "gym" teacher.

"Gracious, but Tom is getting to be a regular circus gymnast!" cried Sam, as he watched his brother in admiration. "Just see what beautiful turns he is making."

"Humph! that aint so wonderful," came from someone at Sam's elbow, and turning the youngest Rover found himself dose to Billy Tubbs, a short, stocky youth who had entered Putnam Hall at the opening of the fall term. Tubbs was a boy of rich parentage, and while he was not particularly a bully, he considered himself of great importance and vastly superior to the majority of his associates.

"All right, Tubby; if it isn't so wonderful, just you jump up and do it," returned Sam coldly.

"Look here, how many times have I told you not to call me Tubby!" burst out the rich youth. "I don't like it at all."

"Then what shall we call you?" asked Sam innocently. "Tubblets?"

"No, I don't want you to call me Tubblets either. My name is Tubbs--William Philander Tubbs."

"Gosh! Am I to say all that whenever I want to address you?" demanded Sam, with a pretended gasp for breath.

"I don't see why you shouldn't. It's my name."

"But Tubby--I mean Tubblets--no, Willander Philliam Tubbs--the name is altogether too long. Why, supposin' you were standing on a railroad track looking east, and an express train was coming from the west at the rate of seventy-five miles an hour, and it got to within a hundred yards of you when I discovered your truly horrible peril, and I should start to warn you of the aforesaid truly horrible peril, take my word for it, before I could utter such an elongated personal handle as that, you'd be struck and distributed along that track for a distance of a mile and a quarter. No, Tubby, my conscience wouldn't allow it--really it wouldn't." And Sam shook his head seriously.

"See here, what are you giving me?" roared Tubbs wrathfully. "Don't you worry about my standing on a railroad track and asking you to call me off." And then he added, with a red face, as a laugh went up from half a dozen students standing near: "William Philander Tubbs is my name, and I shan't answer to any other after this."

"Good for you Washtubs!" came from a boy in the rear of the crowd.

"I'd stick to that resolution, by all means, Buttertubs," came from the opposite side of the crowd.

And then one older youth, who was given to writing songs, began to sing softly:

    "Rub-a-dub-dub!

    One man in a tub,

      And who do you think it is,

    It's William Philander,

    Who's got up his dander,

      And isn't he mad! Gee whizz!"

The doggerel, gotten up on the spur of the moment, struck the fancy of fully a score of boys, big and little, and in an instant all were singing it over and over again, at the top of their lungs, and at this those who did not sing began to laugh uproariously.

"I say, what's it all about?" demanded Tom, as he slid from the turning-bar.

"Songbird Powell has composed a comic opera in Tubby's honor," answered Larry Colby, one of the Rover boys' chums. "I guess he's going to have it put on the stage after the holidays, with Tubby as leading man."

"See here, I won't have this!" roared the rich youth, waving his hand wildly first at one boy and then another. "I don't want you to make up any songs about me."

"Songbird won't charge you anything," put in Fred Garrison, another of the students. "He's a true poet, and writes for nothing. You ought to feel highly honored."

"Make a speech of thanks, that's a good fellow," put in George Granbury, another student.

"It's an outrage!" shouted Tubbs, his face growing redder each instant. "I won't stand it."

"All right, we won't charge you for sitting on it," came from the back of the crowd.

"My right name is----"

"Barrel, but they call me Tubbs for short," finished another student. "Hurrah, Tubby is discovered at last."

"Don't blush, Washtub! you don't look half as pretty as when you're pale."

"If you feel warm, Buttertub, go out and sit on the thin ice. It will soon cool you off," came from Fred Garrison.

"I'll cool you off, Garry!" burst out the rich youth, and made a wild dash at his tormentor. But somebody put out a foot and the tormented boy stumbled headlong, at which the crowd set up another shout, and then sang louder than ever,

    "Rub-a-dub-dub!

    One man in a tub!"

"I say, who tripped me up!" gasped Tubbs, as soon as he could scramble up. "Tell me who did it, and I'll soon settle with him."

"Who rolled over the buttertub?" asked Tom solemnly. "One peanut reward for the first correct answer to this absorbing puzzle. Please don't all raise your hands at once."

"I believe you did it, Tom Rover!" bellowed the rich youth.

"I? Never, Tubby, my dear boy. I never rolled over a buttertub in my life. You've got the wrong number. Kindly ring the bell next door."

"Then it was Sam, and I'll fix him for it, see if I don't!"

"No, it wasn't Sam. He never touched a washtub in his life."

"I say it was Sam," cried Tubbs, who was almost beside himself with rage. "And I'm going to teach him a lesson. There, Sam Rover, how do you like that?"

As the rich youth finished, he caught the youngest Rover by the shoulder with his left hand and with his right gave Sam a slanting blow on the cheek.

"Stop! I didn't trip you!" exclaimed Sam; and then as Tubbs aimed another blow at him he ducked and broke loose and hit out in return. His blow was harder and more truly aimed than he had anticipated, and it took Tubbs directly on the nose. A spurt of blood followed, accompanied by a yell of pain, and the rich youth fell back.

"Oh! oh! My nose!"

"You brought it on yourself," retorted Sam. "I didn't----"

"Stop! stop! Boys, what does this mean?" came in a sudden stern voice, and in a moment more the two combatants found themselves confronted by Jasper Grinder, a new teacher. "Fighting, eh? How often, must you be told that such disgraceful conduct is not allowed here? You come with me, and I'll make an example of both of you."

And in a moment more the two lads found themselves prisoners in Jasper Grinder's strong grasp and being marched out of the gymnasium toward the school building proper.