Chapter II. Newcomers at the Academy
 

"Dan Baxter has escaped!" repeated Dick. "That is news indeed. Does your father give my particulars?"

"He says it is reported that the jailer was sick and unable to stop Dan."

"Humph! Then they must have had some sort of a row," put in Tom. "Well, it does beat the nation how the Baxters do it. Don't you remember how Arnold Baxter escaped from the hospital authorities last year?"

"Those Baxters are as slick as you can make them," said Frank. "I've been thinking if Dan would dare to show himself around Putnam Hall."

"Not he!" cried Larry. "He'll travel as far can and as fast as he can."

"Perhaps not," mused Dick. "I rather he will hang around and try to help his father out of prison."

"That won't help him, for the authorities will be on strict guard now. You know the stable door is always locked after the horse is stolen."

At this there was a general laugh, and when it ended a loud roll of a drum made the young cadets hurry to the front of the parade ground.

"Fall in, Companies A and B!" came the command from the major of the battalion, and the boys fell in. Dick was now a first lieutenant, while Tom and Sam were first and second sergeants respectively.

As soon as the companies were formed they were marched around the Hall and to the messroom. Here they were kept standing in a long fine while George Strong came to the front with half a dozen new pupils.

"Young gentlemen, I will introduce to you several who will join your ranks for this season," said the head assistant. Then he began to name the half dozen. Among others they included a round-faced German youth named Hans Mueller, and a tall, lank, red-haired boy, of Irish descent who rejoiced in the name of Jim Caven.

"I'll wager the Dutch boy is full of fun," whispered Sam to Tom. "You can see it in his eyes."

"I don't like the looks of that Jim Caven," returned Tom. "He looks like a worse sneak than Mumps ever was."

"I agree there. Perhaps we had better keep, our eyes open for him."

Despite this talk, however, the newcomers were welcomed cordially, and to the credit of the students be it said that each old cadet did all in his power to make the new boys feel perfectly at home.

"Mine fadder vos von soldier py der Cherman army," said Hans Mueller. "Dot's vy he sent me py a military academy ven we come py dis country."

"Glad to know you intend to help us fight the Indians," answered Tom innocently.

"Me fight der Indians? Vot you means py dot?" demanded Hans, his light-blue eyes wide open with interest.

"Why, don't you know that we are here to learn how to fight Indians?" went on Tom, with a side wink at those around him.

"No; I dink me dis vos von school only."

"So it is -- a school to learn how to shoot and scalp."

"Schalp! Vot's dot?"

"Cut an Indian's top-knot off with a knife, this way," and Tom made an imaginary slash at Hans' golden locks.

"Ton't do dot!" stammered the German boy, falling back. "No, I ton't vant to learn to schalp, noputty."

"But you are willing to fight the Indians, are you not?" put in Sam. "We are all going to do that, you know."

"I ton't like dem Indians," sighed Hans. "I see me some of dem vonde by a show in Chermany, und I vos afraid."

At this a laugh went up. How much further the joke would have been carried it is impossible to say, but just then a bell rang and the boys had to go into the classroom. But Tom remembered about the Indians, as the others found out about a week later.

As the majority of the scholars had been to the Hall before, it did not take long for matters to become settled, and in a few days all of the boys felt thoroughly at home, that is, all but Jim Caven, who went around with that same sneaking look on his face that Tom had first noticed. He made but few friends, and those only among the smaller boys who had plenty of pocket money to spend. Caven rarely showed any money of his own.

With the coming of spring the cadets formed, as of old, several football teams, and played several notches, including one with their old rivals, the pupils of Pornell Academy. This game they lost, by a score of four to five, which made the Pornellites feel much better, they having lost every game in the past. (For the doings of the Putnam Hall students previous to the arrival at that institution of the Rover boys see, "The Putnam Hall Series," the first volume of which is entitled, "The Putnam Hall Cadets." - Publisher)

"Well, we can't expect to beat always," said Tom, who played quarterback on the Putnam team. "We gave them a close brush."

"Yes, and we might have won if Larry hadn't slipped and sprained his ankle," put in Sam. "Well, never mind; better luck next time. We'll play them again next fall." Sam was right so far as a game between the rival academies was concerned, but none of the Rover boys were on hand to take part in the contest -- for reasons which the chapter to follow will disclose.

With the football came kite-flying, and wonderful indeed were some of the kites which the boys manufactured.

"I can tell you, if a fellow had time he could reduce kite-flying to a regular science," said Dick.

"Oh, Dick, don't give us any more science!" cried Sam. "We get enough of science from, Uncle Randolph, with his scientific farming, fowl-raising, and the like. I would just as lief fly an old-fashioned kite as anything."

"Dick is right, though," put in Fred Garrison. "Now you have a big flat-kite there, three times larger than mine. Yet I'll wager my little box kite will fly higher than your kite."

"Done!" cried Sam. "What shall the wager be?"

"Ice cream for the boys of our dormitory," answered Fred.

"All right, but how is a fellow to get the cream if he loses?"

"That's for him to find out, Sam. If I lose I'll sneak off to Cedarville, as Dick did once, and buy what I need."

"Ice cream for our room it is," said. Frank.

"And mum's the word about the wager, or Captain Putnam will spoil the whole affair if he gets wind of it."

"Make me stakeholder," grinned Tom. I'd just like to lay hands on about two quarts of chocolate cream."

"There won't be any stakeholder," said Dick.

"But when is this kite-flying contest to come off?"

The matter was talked over, and it was decided to wait until the next Saturday, which would be, as usual, a half-holiday. In the meantime some of the other boys heard there was going to be a contest, although they knew nothing of the wager made, and half a dozen other matches were arranged.

Saturday proved to be cool and clear with a stiff breeze blowing directly from the west. This being so, it was decided, in order to get clear of the woods in front of the Hall, to hold the contests on Baker's Plain, a level patch of ground some distance to the westward.

The cadets were soon on the way, shouting and laughing merrily over the sport promised. Only a few remained behind, including Jim Caven, who gave as his excuse that he had a headache.

"I'm glad he is not with us," said Dick. "I declare, for some reason, I can't bear to have him around."

"Nor I," returned Frank. "It's queer, but he gives me the shivers whenever he comes near me."

"It's a wonder he came here at all. He doesn't belong in our style of a crowd."

To reach Baker's Plain the cadets had to make a detour around a high cliff which overlooked a rocky watercourse which flowed into Cayuga Lake. They moved slowly, as nobody wished to damage his kite, and it was after two o'clock before all hands were ready for the first trial at kite-flying.

"Gracious, but it is blowing!" cried Tom.

"Sam, have you a good strong cord on your kite?"

"The strongest I could get," answered the youngest Rover. "I guess it is stronger than what Fred has."

"My kite won't pull like yours," said Fred Garrison. "All ready?"

"Yes."

"Then up they go -- and may the best kite win!"

Soon a dozen kites of various kinds were soaring in the air, some quite steadily and others darting angrily from side to side. One went up with a swoop, to come down with a bang on the rocks, thus knocking itself into a hundred pieces.

"Mine cracious, look at dot!" burst out Hans Mueller. "Mine Gretchen kite vos busted up -- und I spent me feefteen cents on him alreety!" and a roar went up.

"Never mind, Hans," said Dick. "You can help sail the Katydid. She will pull strong enough for two, I am sure."

The Katydid was a wonderful affair of silver and gold which Dick had constructed on ideas entirely his own. It went up slowly but surely and proved to be as good a kite as the majority.

A number of girls living in the neighborhood, bad heard of the kite-flying contests, and now they came up, Dora Stanhope with the rest, accompanied by her two cousins, Grace and Nellie Laning. As my old readers may guess, Dick was very attentive to Dora, and his brothers were scarcely less so to the two Laning sisters.

"And how is your mother?" Dick asked of Dom, during the course of their conversation.

"She is much better," replied Dora, "although she is still weak from her sickness."

"Does she ever mention Josiah Crabtree?"

"She mentioned him once. She said that she had dreamed of him and of you, Nick."

"Me? And what was the dream?"

"Oh - it was only a silly affair, Dick, not worth mentioning."

"But I would like to know what it was."

"Well, then, she dreamed that both of you were in a big forest and he was about to attack you with a gun or a club, she couldn't tell which. She awoke screaming and I ran to her side, and that is how she told me of the dream."