Chapter II. On the Way to Putnam Hall
 

"Boys, we start the march back to Putnam Hall in fifteen minutes!"

Such was the news which flew around the camp not long after the dinner hour had passed. Already the tents had been taken down, the baggage strapped, and six big wagons fairly groaned with the loads of goods to be taken back to the military institution.

The cadets had marched to the camp by one route and were to return to the academy by another. All was bustle and excitement, for in spite of the general order a few things had gone astray.

"Weally, this is most--ah--remarkable, don't you know," came from that aristocratic cadet named William Philander Tubbs.

"What's remarkable, Tublets?" asked Tom, who was near by, putting away a pair of blankets.

"Lieutenant Rover, how many times must I--ah--tell you not to address me as Tublets?" sighed the fashionable young cadet.

"Oh, all right, Tubhouse, it shan't occur again, upon my honor."

"Tubhouse! Oh, Rover, please let up!"

"What's wrong, Billy?"

"That is better, but it is bad enough," sighed William Philander. "I've--ah--lost one of my walking shoes."

"Perhaps, being a walking shoe, it walked off."

"Maybe it got in that beefsteak we had this morning," put in Sam, with a wink. "I thought that steak was rather tough."

"Shoo yourself with such a joke, Sam," came from Fred Garrison.

"Have you really lost your shoe, Tubby, dear?" sang out Songbird Powell, the so-styled "poet" of the academy. And then he started to sing:

"Rub a dub dub!
One shoe on the Tubb!
  Where can the other one be?
Look in your bunk
And look in your trunk,
  And look in the bumble-bee tree!"

"Whoop! hurrah! Songbird has composed another ode in Washtub's honor," sang out Fred Garrison. "Washtub, you ought to give Songbird a dollar for that."

"Thanks, but I make not my odes for filthy lucre," same from Powell, tragically, and then he continued:

"One penny reward,
And a big tin sword,
  To whoever finds the shoe.
Come one at a time,
And form in line,
  And raise a hullabaloo!"

And then a shout went up that could be heard all over the encampment.

"I'll lend you a slipper, Tubbs," said little Harry Moss, whose shoes were several sizes smaller than those of the aristocratic cadet.

"Somebody get me a shingle and I'll cut Tubstand a sandal with my jackknife," came from Tom.

"I'll shingle you!" roared William Philander Tubbs, and rushed away to escape his tormentors. In the end he found another shoe, but it was not the one he wanted, for that had been rolled up in the blankets by Tom and was not returned until Putnam Hall was reached.

Drums and fifes enlivened the way as the cadets started for the military academy. The march was to take the balance of that afternoon and all of the next day. During the night they were to camp out like regular soldiers on the march, in a big field Captain Putnam had hired for that purpose.

The march did not take the cadets through Oakville, so the Rover boys did not see the friends they had made in that vicinity. They headed directly for the village of Bramley, and then for another small settlement named White Corners,--why, nobody could tell, since there was not so much as a white post anywhere to be seen in that vicinity.

"It's queer how a name sticks," declared Tom, after speaking of this to his brother Dick. "They might rather call this Brown Corners, since most of the houses are brown."

At the Corners they obtained supper, which was supplied to the cadets by the hotel keeper, who had been notified in advance of their coming.

While they were eating a boy who worked around the stables of the hotel watched them curiously. Afterwards this boy came up to Sam and Tom.

"We had a cadet here yesterday who was awfully mad," said the boy.

"Had hydrophobia, eh?" returned Tom. "Too bad!"

"No, I don't mean that; I mean he was very angry."

"What was the trouble?"

"I don't know exactly, but I think he had been sent away from the school for something or other."

"What was his name?"

"Lew Flapp."

"Why, I thought he had gone home!" cried Sam.

"So did I," answered his brother. He turned to the hotel youth. "What was this Flapp doing here?"

"Nothing much. He asked the boss when you were expected here."

"Is he here now?"

"No, he left last night."

"Where did he go to?"

"I don't know, but I thought I would tell you about the fellow. I think he is going to try to do you cadets some harm."

"Did he mention any names?"

"He seemed to be extra bitter against three brothers named Rover."

"Humph!"

"Are the Rovers here?" went on the youth.

"I think they are, sonny. I'm one, this is another, and there is the third," and Tom pointed to Dick, who was at a distance, conversing with some other cadets.

"Oh, so you are the Rovers! How strange that I should speak to you of this!"

"Which way did this Lew Flapp go?" questioned Sam. "Off the way you are bound."

"I'll wager he tries to make trouble for us on our way to Putnam Hall, Tom."

"It's not unlikely, Sam."

"Shall we tell Captain Putnam of this?" Tom shook his head.

"No, let us tell Dick, though, and a few of the others. Then we can keep our eyes peeled for Lew Flapp and, if he actually does wrong, expose him."

A little later Tom and Sam interviewed Dick on the subject, and then they told Larry Colby, Fred Garrison, George Granbury, and half a dozen others.

"I don't believe he will do much," said Larry Colby. "He is only talking, that's all. He knows well enough that Captain Putnam can have him locked up, if he wants to."

By eight o'clock that evening the field in which they were to encamp for the night was reached. Tents were speedily put up, and half a dozen camp-fires started, making the boys feel quite at home. The cadets gathered around the fires and sang song after song, and not a few practical jokes were played.

"Hans, they tell me you feel cold and want your blood shook up," said Tom to Hans Mueller, the German cadet.

"Coldt, is it?" queried Hans. "Vot you dinks, I vos coldt mid der borometer apout two hundred by der shade, ain't it? I vos so hot like I lif in Africa alretty!"

"Oh, Hans must be cold!" cried Sam. "Let us shake him up, boys!"

"All right!" came from half a dozen. "Get a blanket, somebody!"

"No, you ton't, not by my life alretty!" sang out Hans, who had been tossed up before. "I stay py der groundt mine feets on!" And he started to run away.

Several went after him, and he was caught in the middle of an adjoining cornfield, where a rough-and-tumble scuffle ensued, with poor Hans at the bottom of the heap.

"Hi, git off, kvick!" he gasped. "Dis ton't been no footsball game nohow! Git off, somebody, und dake dot knee mine mouth out of!"

"Are you warm, now, Hansy!" asked Tom.

"Chust you wait, Tom Rofer," answered the German cadet, and shook his fist at his tormentor. "I git square somedimes, or mine name ain't--"

"Sauerkraut!" finished another cadet, and a roar went up. "Hans, is it true that you eat sauerkraut three times a day when you are at home?"

"No, I ton't eat him more as dree dimes a veek," answered Hans, innocently.

"Hans is going to treat us all to Limberger cheese when his birthday comes," put in Fred Garrison. "It's a secret though, so don't tell anybody."

"I ton't vos eat Limberger," came from Hans.

"Oh, Hansy!" groaned several in chorus.

"Base villain, thou hast deceived us!" quoted Songbird Powell. "Away to the dungeon with him!" And then the crowd dragged poor Hans through the cornfield and back to the camp-fire once more, where he was made to sit so close to the blaze that the perspiration poured from his round and rosy face. Yet with it all he took the joking in good part, and often gave his tormentors as good as they sent.

"They tell me that William Philander Tubbs is going to Newport for the summer," said Tom. a little later, when the cadets were getting ready to retire. "Just wait till he gets back next Fall, he'll be more dudish than ever."

"We ought to tame him a little before we let him go," said Sam.

"Right you are, Sam. But what can we do? Nearly everything has been tried since we went into camp."

"I have a plan, Tom."

"All right; let's have it."

"Why not black Tubby up while he is asleep?"

"Sam, you are a jewel. But where are we to get the lamp-black?"

"I've got it already. I put several corks in the camp-fire, and burnt cork is the best stuff for blacking up known."

"Right again. Oh, but we'll make William Philander look like a regular negro minstrel. And that's not all. After the job is done we'll wake him up and tell him Captain Putnam wants to see him at once."

Several boys were let into the secret, and then all waited impatiently for Tubbs to retire. This he soon did, and in a few minutes was sound asleep.

"Now then, come on," said Sam, and led the way to carry out the anticipated fun.