Chapter V. Fun and an Explosion
 

Several days slipped by, and the boys waited anxiously for some news from the authorities. But none came, and they rightfully surmised that, for the time being, Dan Baxter had made good his escape.

On account of the disastrous ending to the kite-flying match, many had supposed that the feast in Dormitory No. 6 was not to come off, but Sam, Tom, Frank, and several others got their heads together and prepared for a "layout" for the following Wednesday, which would be Dick's birthday.

"We'll give him a surprise," said Sam, and so it was agreed. Passing around the hat netted exactly three dollars and a quarter, and Tom, Sam, and Fred Garrison were delegated to purchase the candies, cake, and ice cream which were to constitute the spread.

"We'll do the thing up brown," said Sam.

"We must strike higher than that feast we had, last year."

"Right you are!" came from Tom, "Oh dear, do you remember how we served Mumps that night!" and he set up a roar over the remembrance of the scene.

Hans Mueller had become one of the occupants of the dormitory, and he was as much, interested as anybody in the preparations for the spread. "Dot vill pe fine!" he said. "I like to have von feast twist a veek, ha I ha!

"He's a jolly dog," said Tom to Frank.

"But, say, I've been thinking of having some fun with him before this spread comes off."

"Let me in on the ground floor," pleaded Frank, who always wok a great interest in Tom's jokes.

"I will, on one condition, Frank."

"And what is that?"

"That you loan me that masquerade suit you have in your trunk. The one you used at that New Year's dance at home."

"You mean that Indian rig?"

"Yes."

"Hullo, I reckon I smell a mouse!" laughed the senator's son. "I heard you giving Hans that yarn about us training to fight Indians."'

"Did you indeed."

"I did indeed; and I heard Hans say that he wanted nothing to do with the Indians."

"Well, he's going to have something to do with at least one Indian," grinned Tom. "What do you say I get the suit?"

"Yes; if you'll fix it so that I can see the sport."

"All of the crowd can see it, if they don't leak about it," returned the fun-loving Rover.

Tom soon had the masquerade suit in his possession and also, some face paints which Frank had saved from the New Year's dance mentioned. Shortly afterward Tom joined the crowd in the gymnasium, where Hans Mueller was trying to do some vaulting over the bars.

"I dink I could chump dem sticks of I vos taller," the German youth was saying.

"Or the sticks were lower," replied Tom, with a wink at the crowd. "That's right, Hans, you had better learn how to jump now, and to run, too."

"The Indians have come," put in Frank.

"Indians?" repeated Hans Mueller. "Vere is da?"

"They say a band of them are in the woods around here," answered Tom. "If you go out you want to be careful or they may scalp you."

"Cracious, Rofer, ton't say dot!" cried Mueller in alarm. "Vot is dem Indians doing here annavay?"

"They came in East to hunt up some buffalo that got away. They had something like half a million in a corral, and about two thousand got away from them."

This preposterous announcement was taken by Hans Mueller in all seriousness, and he asked Tom all sorts of ridiculous questions about the savage red men, whom he supposed as wild and wily as those of generations ago.

"No, I ton't vonts to meet any of dem," he said at last. "Da vos von pad lot alretty!"

"That's right, Hans, you give them a wide berth," said Tom, and walked away.

Later on Tom persuaded Dick to ask Hans if he would not walk down to Cedarville for him, to buy him a baseball. Eager to be accommodating, the German youth received the necessary permission to leave the academy acres and hurried off at the full speed of his sturdy legs.

"Now for some fun!" cried Tom, and ran off for the Indian suit and the face paints. These he took down to the bam and set to work to transform himself into a wild-looking red man.

"You're a lively one!" grinned Peleg Snuggers, who stood watching him. "We never had such a lad as you before Master Thomas."

"Thanks, Peleg, and perhaps you'll never have one like me again -- and then you'll be dreadfully sorry."

"Or glad," murmured Peleg.

"Mum's the word, old man."

"Oh, I never say nuthin, Master Thomas; you know that," returned the man-of-all-work.

A number of the other pupils had been let into the secret, and, led by Dick, they ran off to the woods lining the Cedarville road. Tom came after them, skulking along that nobody driving by might catch sight of him.

Not quite an hour later Hans Mueller was heard coming back. The German boy was humming to himself and at the same time throwing up the new ball he had purchased for Dick.

"Burra! Burra!" thundered out Tom, as he leaped from behind a big tree. "Dutcha boy heap big scalp-me take um! Burra!" And he danced up to Hans, flourishing a big tin knife as he did so. The masquerade was a perfect one, and he looked like an Indian who had just stepped forth from some Wild West show.

"Ach du!" screamed Hans, as he stopped short and grew white. "It's dem Indians come to take mine hair! Oh, please, Mister Indian, ton't vos touch me!"

"Dutcha boy heap nice hair," continued Tom, drawing nearer. "Maka nice door-mat for Big Wolf. Burra!"

"No, no; ton't vos touch mine hair-it vos all der hair I vos got!" howled Hans. "Please, Mister Indian mans, let me go!" And then he started to back away.

"White bay stop or Big Wolf shoot!" bellowed Tom, drawing forth a rusty pistol he had picked up in the barn. This rusty pistol had done lots of duty at fun-making before.

"No, no; ton't shoot!" screamed Hans. Then he fell on his knees in despair.

Tom could scarcely keep from laughing at the sight, and a snicker or two could be heard coming from where Frank, Dick, and the others were concealed behind the bushes. But the German youth was too terrorized to notice anything but that awful red man before him, with his hideous war-paint of blue and yellow.

"Dutcha boy dance for Big Wolf," went on Tom. "Dance! Dance or Big Wolf shoot!" And the fun-loving Rover set the pace in a mad, caper that would have done credit to a Zulu.

"I can't vos dance!" faltered Hans, and then, thinking he might appease the wrath of his unexpected enemy he began to caper about in a clumsy fashion which was comical in the extreme.

"Hoopla! keep it up!" roared Tom. "Dutcha boy take the cake for flingin' hees boots. Faster, faster, or Big Wolf shoot, bang!"

"No, no; I vos dance so hard as I can!" panted Hans, and renewed his exertions until Tom could keep in no longer, and set up such a laugh as had not been heard around the Hall for many a day. It is needless to add that the other boys joined in, still, however, keeping out of sight.

"You're a corker, Hans!" cried Tom in his natural voice. "You ought to join the buck-and-wing dancers in a minstrel company."

"Vot -- vot -- ?" began the German boy in bewilderment. "Ain't you no Indian?"

"To be sure I am; I'm Big Wolf, the Head Dancing Master of the Tuscaroras, Hans, dear boy. Don't you think I'm a stunner."

"You vos Tom Rofer, made up," growled Hans in sudden and deep disgust. "Vot for you vos blay me such a drick as dis, hey?"

"Just to wake you up, Hans."

"I ton't vos been asleep, not me!"

"I mean to stir up your ideas -- put something new into your head."

"Mine head vos all right, Tom."

"To be sure it is."

"Den vot you say you vos put somedings new py him, hey?"

"I mean to make you sharper-put you on your mettle."

"I ton't understand," stammered the German youth hopelessly.

"That's so, and you won't in a thousand years, Hans. But you are the right sort, any way."

"I dink I blay me Indian mineselluf some tay," mused Hans. "Dot vos lots of fun to make me tance, vosn't it? Vere you got dot bistol?"

"Down in the barn. Look out, or it may go off," added Tom, as he held out the weapons, thinking Hans would draw back in alarm.

Instead, however, the German boy took the pistol and of a sudden pointed it at Tom's head.

"Now you tance!" he cried abruptly. "Tance, or I vos shoot you full of holes!"

"Hi, Tom; he's got the best of you now!" cried Frank from behind the bushes.

"You can't make me dance, Hans," returned Tom. "That old rusty iron hasn't been loaded for years."

"It ton't vos no goot? No. Maybe you vos only fool me."

"Pull the trigger and see," answered Tom coolly.

He had scarcely spoken when Hans Mueller did as advised. A tremendous report followed, and when the smoke cleared away the boys in the bushes were horrified to see that the rusty pistol had been shattered into a thousand pieces and that both Tom and Hans lay on their backs in the road, their faces covered with blood.