8. Jasper Grinder Is Dismissed.
 

Dick was greatly surprised over the news which Peleg Snuggers conveyed to him. He knew that Jasper Grinder was an intensely passionate man when aroused, as on the occasion of the attempted caning, but he had not imagined that the man would fall into a fit while in such a condition.

"Did he come out of the fit all right?" he questioned soberly.

"When he came around he was as weak as a rag, and I and one of the big boys had to help him up to his room. He stayed there the rest of the evening, and the other teachers had to take charge."

"What do they say about the matter?"

"As soon as the captain got back all of 'em got in the private office and held a long talk. Then the captain had a talk with Mr. Grinder, and after that the captain sent me off to look for you. He said you must be at the Lanings, or at Mrs. Stanhope's, or else somewhere in Cedarville."

"We are stopping with Mrs. Stanhope. Sara is sick with a heavy cold."

"It's not to be wondered at. Master Tubbs has a cold, too, and the captain had Mrs. Green give him some medicine for it."

"Has he punished Tubbs?"

"No. He's awfully upset, and I don't think he'll do anything right away," concluded the general utility man.

The cutter was turned around, and Dick and Snuggers hurried toward the Hall. Their coming was noticed by a score of boys who were snowballing each other oh the parade ground, and a shout went up.

"Dick Rover is coming back! Snuggers has brought Dick Rover back!"

"Take care of the horse, Snuggers," said Dick. "Do the right thing, and I won't forget to pay you at Christmas-time."

"All right Master Rover; thank you," answered the man of all work.

Dick was at once surrounded, but before he could answer any questions he saw Captain Putnam appear at one of the windows and at once went inside to greet him.

"Well, Rover, what does all this mean?" demanded the head of the school, but there was not much sternness in his tone.

"It means Captain Putnam, that Sam, Tom, and I couldn't stand the treatment we received from Mr. Grinder. For a little set-to which Sam and Tubbs had in the gymnasium Mr. Grinder put Sam in the ice-cold storeroom, and was going to keep him there all night, with nothing but stale bread to eat and cold water to drink. If Sam had remained in the storeroom he would have died from the effects of it. As it is, he is now in bed at Mrs. Stanhope's, and we had to call in Dr. Fremley to attend him."

"Is he very ill, Rover? Tell me the exact truth."

"I have never told you anything else, Captain Putnam. No, I don't think he is very ill, but he's got a bad cold. He is very hoarse, and he complained of such a pain in the chest that Mrs. Stanhope put on some plasters, and when the doctor came he left some more."

"Humph!" Captain Putnam began to walk up and down his private office. "What did you tell Dr. Fremley?"

"Nothing but that Sam had exposed himself. I didn't want to give the school a black name. But one thing is certain, we can't remain here if Mr. Grinder is going to stay. I shall write to my father and tell him the full particulars."

"It will not be necessary to do so, Richard." The captain caught Dick by the shoulder. "I have investigated this affair, and while I find that Sam was to blame, and Tom and you, too, yet I am convinced that Mr. Grinder exceeded his authority here. He had no business to put Sam in the storeroom and Master Tubbs in the stone cell in this freezing weather. More than that, something happened after you left that shows plainly Mr. Grinder is not the proper person to be a teacher here, and from to-day I intend to dispense with his services."

Dick knew what the captain referred to, the falling of the teacher into his passionate fit on the floor, but he said nothing on that point, for in a way he felt sorry for one who could control himself so little.

"I am glad we won't have to put up with him, sir, any longer. In one way, he is worse than Mr. Crabtree was."

"Let us drop the whole subject, Richard. I have not been satisfied with Mr. Grinder for some time past, and had in view a teacher to take his place before this happened. The new teacher will come after the holidays, and I feel certain all the students will like him fully as much as they like Mr. Strong."

"We won't ask for anybody better than Mr. Strong--or yourself," answered Dick, with a smile.

A talk lasting quarter of an hour followed, and it was decided that Dick should return to the Stanhope cottage, to tell Tom and Sam what turn affairs had taken. Then Tom was to come to the Hall, leaving Dick to look after Sam.

It was nightfall before Dick got back to the cottage. Of course his brothers and the others listened to his story with interest. Both Sam and Tom felt greatly relieved.

"If Grinder keeps on he'll kill himself in one of his fits," said Sam. "I hope he leaves before I go back to school."

"If I was you, I wouldn't go back until he does leave," said Tom. "I'm sure Mrs. Stanhope will let you stay here; won't you?"

"To be sure, Tom," answered the lady of the cottage. "But now Captain Putnam has made up his mind, you may be sure Mr. Grinder will not remain at the Hall many days."

"Perhaps he'll go to-night," said Dora. "The captain surely wont wish him at the Hall over Sunday."

Tom remained with his brothers until evening; then started for the Hall on foot, not caring to bother with a horse. The road was now well broken, so he had no trouble in making the journey.

When he arrived at the Academy he found the boys assembled in the classroom, in charge of one of the under-teachers.

"You cannot see Captain Putnam at present," said the teacher. "You will have to remain here with the other pupils until he is at leisure."

"Something must be wrong," murmured Tom, as he slipped in a seat next to George Granbury.

"I think the captain is getting rid of old Grinder," was the whispered reply. "He's afraid we'd go out and give him three groans when he left."

"I see Well, it's best to let him go quietly. Good riddance to him."

"That's what all the boys say, although some are sorry he had the fit."

"So am I sorry; but he brought it on himself."

Presently there was loud knocking in the front of the building and the slamming of a door. Then a trunk was dumped into the captain's cutter, and the horse started off, carrying Peleg Snuggers and Jasper Grinder behind him.

When the captain came into the classroom he was pale, and pulled nervously on his mustache Evidently his task of getting rid of the passionate teacher had not been a light one. He said but little, and shortly after the boys were dismissed and sent to bed.

Sunday continued bright and clear, but it was so bitter cold that but few of the students went to church and Sunday school. Tom was anxious to hear how Sam was getting along, and in the afternoon Captain Putnam himself drove him to the Stanhope cottage in the cutter.

It was found that the youngest Rover was feeling much better, although his hoarseness had not left him. He said he was sure he could go back to school the next day.

"We had a visit from Jasper Grinder," said Dick. "He insisted on stopping here in spite of all Snuggers could do to stop him."

"And what did he say?" asked the captain anxiously.

"Oh, he was in a terrible rage, and threatened to sue my father because, as he put it, we had driven him from earning a good living. I could hardly get him out of the house, and when he left he picked up a big chunk of ice and snow and hurled it through the sitting-room window at Sam. I believe the man isn't quite right in his head."

"It certainly looks like it," was the captain's grave response.

"Did Snuggers leave him in Cedarville?"

"Yes. But Snuggers didn't know where he went after that, excepting that he called at the post office for some letters,"

"I hope I never have anything to do with him again," said Sam, with a shiver.

"I do not believe he will bother you in the future," returned the captain. "When he comes to his sober senses he will realize fully how foolishly he has acted."

As Sam was so much better and needed no care that Mrs. Stanhope and Dora were not willing to give him, Tom returned to the Hall with Dick and Captain Putnam, after supper at the widow's cottage. The sleigh ride to the school was delightful, for the road was now in excellent shape, while overhead the stars shone down like so many glittering diamonds.