ON THE TRACK OF THE BURGLARS

Matt Randolph lost no time in discharging his duty at the bell-rope, and
he performed it with the utmost vigor and determination. He rang the
bell, which was in a cupola at the top of the building, as the students
had been instructed to do in case of fire. There was no art or skill to
be used in the operation, and the ringer was simply required to make all
the noise he could; and Matt made it.

Dory reached the rear of the shops in season to escape being shot by the
reckless burglars, and even to avoid being shot at. Perhaps it was
fortunate that he was too late to see the marauders leap from the
window, as he had expected; for his life, or the comfort and well-being
of his well-developed frame, might have been endangered.

When Dory reached the rear of the shops, he found one of the windows
open; and he halted under it to obtain further information, for he was
not a fellow to lose his head, and fly off at random. The rapid ringing
of the bell was rather exhilarating; but he considered it quite
necessary to keep cool, and he did not allow himself to be carried away
by the excitement of the moment. He stopped short under the open window.

It was too dark to see any thing. He had thought of bringing the lantern
with him; but when he thought that it would be of more assistance to the
burglars in avoiding him, than it would be to him in finding them, he
concluded to let the darkness hide his movements. It occurred to him
that the light would enable them to use their revolvers effectively.

All he could do was to stop and listen. The wind was blowing very hard;
and the noise it made in the trees prevented him from hearing the tramp
of footsteps, if there were any to be heard. There was not a sound that
could be distinguished above the rattling of the leaves and the swaying
of the branches.

It was rather discouraging to the volunteer thief-taker; and he began to
feel that he had come to the end of his rope, for it was useless to run
here and there without something to guide his steps. As he had no clew
to the marauders, he could only consider probabilities. What direction
would the burglars take to make their escape? If they had come in a
boat, they could embark anywhere between the bridge above the quarries
and Beaver River.

By land they could pass through the grounds of the estate, and reach the
street; or they could follow the cart-path through the quarries, pass
over the bridge, and reach Lake Champlain at Porter’s Bay, or any point
below it, or strike a road which would lead them to the north.

While he was thinking of it, he heard the voice of Matt Randolph calling
to him. But the bell was still ringing, even more furiously than at
first; and it was plain that he had turned this task over to some other
student, for no one but a boy would have put so much vigor into the
operation. And by this time the tremendous racket ought to bring a crowd
to the centre of the disturbance.

“Have you seen any thing of them, Dory?” shouted Matt, as he reached the
corner of the building.

“Not a thing,” replied Dory.

The sound of his voice directed the steps of his companion, and brought
him to the vicinity of the open window. He had a lantern in his hand,
and by its aid they examined the window by which the burglars had made
their exit from the shop. But there was nothing there to afford them a
particle of information in the quest.

“Don’t you know which way they went?” asked Matt.

“I have not the least idea,” answered Dory; and he stated the avenues of
escape open to the robbers, as he had just been over them in his own
mind.

“But while we are standing here, doing nothing, the villains are getting
away,” said Matt, with some excitement in his manner.

“It’s no use to tear around wildly without knowing what you are about,”
replied Dory quietly. “I am in favor of looking over the chances before
we strike in any direction. With all the racket of that bell, they did
not go through the grounds to the nearest road.”

“They will give the roads a wide berth,” added Matt.

“Then, they have either taken a boat on the little lake, or they have
gone up to the bridge above the quarry. I feel almost sure they have
done one or the other of these things,” continued Dory, who had reached
a decided conclusion, and was ready to act.

“I think you are right, Dory; and what to do is the next article in the
warrant,” replied Matt, whom the influence of the other had completely
cooled off, and he saw the folly of running about at random without any
plan of operations.

“All we have to do is to cover the open points of escape, as we
understand them. Have the fellows turned out yet?”

“I believe every one of them is out, in front of the dormitory.”

“My uncle ought to be on the spot by this time; but if he is not, I will
assume the responsibility of acting without him. If you will take a
crew, and man the Marian, I will follow the route by the bridge. The
keys of the boat-house are in the office. Be in a hurry about it,” added
Dory briskly; and he started off in the direction of the quarries.




“Suppose I see a boat working out of Beechwater, do you think I ought to
try to capture it?” asked Matt, who seemed to be in doubt.

“Not at all! Follow it, and see where it goes: follow it to the end of
Lake Champlain, if it leads you as far as that. Don’t meddle with it,
and don’t let any of your fellows get shot.”

Matt ran back to the dormitory. Though the bell had been ringing some
time, Captain Gildrock had not yet appeared at the scene of the tumult.
The captain of the Lily took the keys, and summoned the crew of the
Marian. In less than five minutes they were pulling out of the
boat-house. The boat proceeded, with all the speed the oarsmen could
give it, to the outlet. Matt went through it to the river, and then
proceeded to examine the north shore of Beechwater.

Dory followed the road to the quarries, and reached the bridge. He
crossed it, and was then in the great road. Between him and the lake the
region was covered with woods. From the road there were cart-paths
leading down to the lake, mostly used by picnic parties. If the burglars
had come this way, they were likely to take to the woods, if they
understood that they were pursued.

Dory halted several times to listen; but it was useless to do so, he
found, for the wind in the trees made noise enough to silence all other
sounds. He passed the cart-path which led down to Porter’s Bay, and soon
came to one which led to a very deep indentation of the shore from
Kingsland Bay.

At this point he halted and listened again, and had about come to the
conclusion not to go any farther in this direction. But just then a
bright thought was suggested to him by the circumstances of the
occasion. There had been a heavy rain some time in the night, after he
went to bed, as he learned from the puddles of water in the road. The
ground, where he had seen it by the light of the lantern, had been
washed by a heavy shower, such as sometimes comes with a southerly wind.

The road was rather sandy at the point where Dory halted, as he could
tell from the feeling of it. He lighted a match, for the purpose of
applying a little Indian craft to the situation. Placing the lighted
brand inside of his hat, to protect it from the wind, he stooped down,
and began to examine the bed of the road.

He had hardly bent his body to the task before he heard a sound, not a
great distance from him, which was marvellously like a human voice. He
sprang to his feet, and gazed into the gloom of the woods in the
direction from which the sound had come. But all was silence except the
piping of the violent wind through the branches of the trees. He
strained his hearing-powers for some time, in the hope that the sound
would be repeated; but he did so in vain.

He was almost sure that he had heard a voice, and he was encouraged to
believe that he was on the right track. The sound reached him very
nearly at the instant when he had touched off the match. He spent a few
minutes in reasoning over the circumstance. If the burglars were in the
vicinity, the light of the match had enabled them to locate him; and he
was willing to believe that the discovery of his presence had called
forth a sudden exclamation of surprise from the least prudent of the
two.

Whether his conclusion was correct, or not, it satisfied him, and
assured him that the marauders were near him. He was alone and unarmed;
while there were two burglars, each perhaps provided with a revolver.
The situation was not wholly satisfactory to him; for though he was as
brave as a lion, he was also as prudent as a cat lying in wait for a
bird.

He had halted at the junction of the great road with the cart-path
leading to Kingsland Bay; and the sound he had heard, assured him that
the marauders were on this side-road. He had no more idea of attacking
them than he had of running away from them. But the light had enabled
them to fix his own position in the gloom, and Dory deemed it advisable
to derange their calculations.

With a careful step, he walked away from the junction of the roads by
the way he had come. It would be as difficult for them to hear him as it
was for him to hear them, and in a few moments he increased his pace. At
the foot of a little hill, perhaps a quarter of a mile from his first
stopping-place, he halted again. He did not believe they had followed
him, for they could not have been aware of his movement.

Lighting another match, he examined the road, as he had intended to do
before. Between the ruts he found the footprints of two persons, who had
been walking side by side. The marks were made by genteel boots or
shoes, and not by any farmer or laborer who wore cowhide and broad soles
on his feet.

This discovery made it appear to Dory that the burglars were
professional gentlemen of the housebreaking order, and probably they did
not belong anywhere in the vicinity of Genverres. This demonstration
added something to the inquirer’s stock of information; but it was of no
especial value, since the hearing of the voice in the woods was more
tangible evidence.

No end of questions which he could not answer flashed through Dory’s
mind after his match had burned out, and he had established to his own
satisfaction the professional character of the operators. They were
somewhere within a half a mile of him; and he wanted to know whether
they intended to take a boat at Kingsland Bay, or escape by the road,
which would take them to Burlington if they followed it long enough. Of
course he could not answer either of these important questions.

The peril of the situation, in view of the revolvers, and the lack of
knowledge, made it very difficult for him to determine what to do. He
ended by deciding to do nothing beyond lying in wait for the marauders.
He returned very cautiously to the junction of the roads again. There he
seated himself on the top-rail of a fence, and–waited.

That was all he could do, though the inactivity to which he was
condemned made him as impatient as a chained mastiff.

He had seen the clock in the lower hall of the dormitory, and he knew
that the explosion had occurred at about three o’clock. At least half an
hour–and he thought it was nearer a full hour–had since elapsed. It
would be daylight within an hour, though it was a very dark morning, and
with the light he could act more intelligently.

No sound came from the direction of the bay, and it occurred to Dory
that the marauders might have continued their retreat by the road. He
was startled at the thought, and he jumped down from the fence.

Continue Reading

THE SCENE OF OPERATIONS

“Did you hear it, Dory?” called Matt Randolph, as soon as he saw the
light at the door of the other.

“Did I hear it?” replied Dory, who was cool enough to smile at the
absurdity of the question, though it was nothing more than the
introduction to the subject in the minds of both. “I could not very well
help hearing it, though I sleep as soundly as a bullfrog in winter.”

“What was it?” demanded Matt, apparently more excited than Dory.

“That’s the conundrum before the house at the present moment. I have not
the least idea what it was,” replied Dory. “It shook my windows, and at
first I thought my bed was lifted up under me. It might have been an
earthquake, though such convulsions are not the fashion in the State of
Vermont.”

“I thought it must be an earthquake at first,” added Matt.

“Did you alter your mind?” asked Dory, as he stepped back into his room,
and put on his shoes.

“Not exactly; but on second thought I concluded that it could not be an
earthquake, and I was wondering what it could be, when I heard a door
open,” added Matt, who was fully dressed, for he had taken the time to
put on his clothes before he came out of his room.

“I move you, Captain Randolph, that we don’t try to imagine what it was,
but that we go and look into the matter, and find out what it was,”
replied Dory, as he put on his coat, and led the way to the hall.

“That is the sensible thing to do; but a fellow can’t expect to be very
bright when he is shaken out of his slumbers by something like an
earthquake,” said Matt, as he followed Dory.

By this time several of the students had recovered, in a measure, from
their consternation, and had opened their doors, some of them shaking
with terror, as though they expected to be swallowed up immediately in
some awful catastrophe.

“What is the matter, Dory?” Tucker Prince asked, as the two coxswains
passed his door.

“Give it up, Tuck: ask me something easier,” replied Dory, laughing. “I
may be able to tell you something about it at a later hour in the
morning.”

“What was it, Dory?” asked Tom Topover.

“It was a tremendous noise; and that is all that is known about it at
the present moment, on this floor of the dormitory.”

“I knew as much as that before,” added Tom.

“Then, you are as wise as any of us, Tom.”

Dory and Matt did not pause to talk, but hastened to the lower floor.
There was nothing below to explain the noise, and the outside door was
locked as usual. Dory opened it, and they went out on the lawn. At this
point they smelled something which was not powder, though it had an
unknown chemical odor.

The building containing the schoolroom and workshops, or a part of the
latter, was close to the dormitory; and the inquirers went in that
direction. The office was in front of the shops, on the lower floor. It
was an apartment of considerable size, which had been put in the year
before, when the shops were enlarged. It was handsomely carpeted, and
was really Captain Gildrock’s private apartment; though Fatima Millweed
used it, and kept the accounts of the institution there.

As the principal had indicated to his visitors the afternoon before, it
contained a steel safe, as well as a couple of roll-top desks, and a
number of easy-chairs; for visitors on business were received in this
room. Captain Gildrock had sold a house the day before in the town, and
had put the money he received in the safe until he could go to the bank
in Burlington.

Dory had carried his lamp as far as the outside door of the dormitory,
but the wind had blown the light out as soon as he came out of the
building. He retained it in his hand as they walked to the shops, as the
structure was called, taking its name from the working, rather than the
school, room.

It was a dark night, cloudy and windy: in fact, it was blowing a smart
gale from the south. Coming from the light into the gloom outside, Dory
and Matt might as well have been blind, so far as seeing any thing was
concerned. But every inch of the ground was familiar to them, and they
walked directly to the shops. The chemical odor became more pronounced.
They halted in front of the office. This apartment was locked, and they
had no key to the door. They could not yet see any thing in the deep
gloom, though their sight was improving.

“The explosion came from some point near us,” said Dory, as he walked up
to the door of the office, guided by instinct rather than sight.

“I can smell something, but I can’t see a thing,” added Matt.

“Here we are!” exclaimed Dory, when he had passed from the door to one
of the windows of the office. “This window is open, and the mischief
came from here!”

“Is it a break?” demanded Matt, beginning to be a little excited.

This was police slang; but Dory understood it, as any one might have
done; and he replied that it was a “break.”

“Look out, then, Dory!” added Matt, laying his hand on the shoulder of
his companion. “The burglars may be still in the office; and such
fellows carry revolvers, which they use when they get into a tight
place.”

“They can hardly be here now, after they have taken the trouble to wake
up the entire neighborhood with such an explosion,” replied Dory. “Take
this lamp, Matt, and I will get in at the window, and strike a light.”

“Don’t do it, Dory!” protested Matt. “Wait a moment, and I will go back
to the dormitory, and get a lantern out of the lower hall.”

Without waiting for his companion, Matt ran back to the dormitory. A
couple of lanterns were kept there for the use of the students in the
evening, if they had occasion to go to the shops or elsewhere. Matt took
one of them down, and lighted it, for there were matches in the tin box
on the wall. When he had done so, he concluded to light the other, so
that each of them could have one in conducting the examination.

Dory stood at the open window while his companion was gone; for he
agreed with Matt, that prudence was a virtue at all times: and
reasonable people practise it, unless they get too angry to do so, and
then they regret it afterwards. He had begun to think that Matt was gone
a long time, when he heard a sound inside of the office.

The noise startled him, for he had not believed the robbers delayed
their flight so long after they had taken the trouble to announce
themselves to all within hearing. He listened with his head thrust into
the open window as far as the length of his neck would permit, and he
was intensely interested from that moment.

If there were any robbers in the office, they must have heard what Matt
said when he proposed to go for the lantern. Dory had always read the
newspapers; and he knew something about the operations of burglars,
though he lived far from any great city. The night-visitors to the
office of the institution, he concluded, had blown open the steel safe,
or attempted to do so. If they had succeeded, it could not have taken
them more than a minute or two to scoop out the contents of the safe, or
at least to pocket the money it contained.

He was just making up his mind that the burglars must have departed
before any one had had time to come to the office, when the noise he had
heard before was repeated. It sounded like some mechanical operation,
and appeared to be on the farther side of the room, where there was a
door opening into the carpenter’s shop.

“I was a fool not to open this door before we finished the safe!” said
some one in the room, in a low and subdued voice, and in a tone which
indicated his disgust at the situation in which he found himself.

“Hurry up! The fellow will be back with the lantern in a moment, and
then we shall be blown,” added another voice.

“Then some one will get shot!” said the first speaker.

But at the same moment, the sound of the opening door came to Dory’s
ears. He was on the point of springing in at the window, to prevent the
escape of the burglars, when he realized that he was almost sure to be
shot, as the first speaker had suggested. He was unarmed; and against
two men, as he supposed they were, he had a small chance of
accomplishing any thing in the way of capturing them.

Through the open door into the shop he saw several flashes of light, and
then he understood that the operators were provided with one or more
dark-lanterns. He could hear their retreating footsteps in the shop; and
he concluded that they intended to escape through one of the rear
windows, which they could easily open, as they were fastened on the
inside.

Two lights were approaching from the dormitory, Dory saw, as he withdrew
his head from the window. But what use were they now? He had solved the
enigma, and any further light on the subject was superfluous. The
burglars had effected an entrance: whether the explosion had opened the
safe, or not, was yet to be discovered. But while he was thinking of the
matter, the robbers were getting away. This was all wrong, Dory suddenly
realized.

“Help! Help! Burglars! Robbers!” shouted Dory, at the very top of his
voice; and he had never been accused of having weak lungs.

“What are you about, Dory?” called Matt, as he rushed towards him.

“Doing the next best thing!” said Dory hastily. “Run to the dormitory,
Matt, with all your might, and ring the bell, just as you would for
fire.”

“Do you think there are any burglars in the office?” asked Matt.

“Not now! But there have been at least two of them there, and now they
are escaping by the back windows of the carpenter’s shop! They are armed
too. Hurry up, and ring the bell, Matt!” shouted Dory, in the ears of
his companion, as he took one of the lanterns from him.

Placing the lantern on the doorstone of the office, Dory darted off at
the fastest run he could get up for the rear of the building. He
appeared to have forgotten that the burglars had revolvers.

Continue Reading

A TERRIFIC EXPLOSION IN THE NIGHT

Matt Randolph looked at the name of the club, as Spickles had written
it, and spelled it out so that all his crew could hear him. All of them
seemed to “take it in,” or got its meaning from his boatmates. They all
laughed, with the exception of the coxswain, and he was inclined to
frown.

“It is easy to get at the meaning of such Greek as that, even if a
fellow has not fitted for college; and for my part, I should not care to
join a club with such a name,” said he, with a look of disgust on his
face, which was also evident in his tones.

“I expected you to join us as soon as we found you, Matt,” added the
captain of the schooner.

“You reckoned without your host, then.–Ready to give way!” said the
coxswain.

“Hold on a minute, Matt! Do you go to Sunday school now?” jeered
Spickles.

“Every Sunday.”

“I am sorry for you. You are under the thumb of that old hunker who
calls himself the principal, and you don’t know enough to catch the
straw when you are drowning. I gave the old hunks some!”

“And he took you by the collar, and put you into your boat, and served
you right. Give way!” added Matt.

“He’s an old squalipop; and he will be likely to hear from me again! He
is no gentleman, and he treated me like an uneducated owl. I shall pay
him off for it, or my name is something besides Spickles,” foamed the
skipper of the La Motte.

At this moment, and while the barge was backing away, one of the party
brought out a tray, on which were tall glasses filled with beer; and
each member of the Nautifelers Club took one of them.

“Here’s to the Nautifelers Club! Lots of fun to them, and confusion to
old Squalipop!” shouted Spickles, at the top of his lungs, as he and his
companions drank off the contents of the glasses.

The barge darted away from the schooner, and was soon out of hail of
her. It was evident that the members of the club with the Greek name had
bargained for an extensive frolic of the coarsest sort, and most of the
crew of the Winooski were simply disgusted with the members of it. Some
of them had come from the city, and were more or less familiar with such
sights.

“I should rather like to join that club,” said Tom Topover, when the
boat was some distance from the La Motte.

“You are not one of that sort of fellows now, Tom,” added the coxswain.
“You have got beyond that kind of a life, and I hope you are strong
enough to keep above it.”

“You know how to preach, Matt; but I don’t want to sit under your
preaching. Those fellows are going to have a good time; and I think they
will enjoy it,” added Tom pleasantly, as some of his old temptations
came back to him. “Do you know those fellows, Matt?”

“I know Spickles; but I never saw the others before, though I think they
behave like gentlemen compared with their leader.”

“He is a jolly fellow,” added Tom.

“Spickles’s father was formerly a wealthy man in the city, and his son
stole a thousand dollars from him. Since that I have kept out of his
way, and I will not associate with him.”

“What did he do with the money? Give it to the missionaries?” asked Tom;
and his companions noticed that he talked a good deal worse than he
meant sometimes, and could not entirely rid himself of his former ways
of expressing himself.

“He took a steamer to New Orleans, and spent his stolen money in
dissipation. When it was all gone, he had to come home before the mast
in a bark. He is a bad boy, and his father could not manage him. If he
had been sent to the Beech Hill School, it would have made a man of him.
I don’t quite understand, though I can guess, how he can take such a
trip as the one he is now making; for his father lost his money, failed,
and is now at work as a clerk.”

“Perhaps some of the other fellows have rich fathers,” suggested Ash
Burton.

“It may be so, but I don’t believe it. The sons of rich fathers, when
they want to go on a frolic, don’t make such a fellow as Michael Angelo
Spickles their leader,” added Matt.

“Is that his name?” asked Ash.

“They say his mother don’t like the name of Spickles, and gave him a
high-sounding handle to it to smooth it off. I don’t know any thing
about it, Tom Topover; but if I were a betting man, I would wager two to
one that Spickles stole the money which is used to pay the expenses of
the La Motte,” continued Matt impressively.

“Then, again, perhaps he didn’t,” replied Tom.

“I think he did; and he didn’t steal it from his father this time, for
Mr. Spickles did not have it. Now, Tom, whether he stole this money, or
not, he will certainly come to grief. In a month, a year, or ten years,
when you see him in the State prison, you will be glad you were not a
member of the Nautifelers Club,” said Matt, as he consulted the paper in
his hand to recall the Greek word.

“You don’t know what is going to become of that fellow any more than you
know what is going to become of me,” added Tom.

“Certainly I don’t know; but when you see a young fellow like Spickles,
drinking, dissipating, insulting a gentleman like Captain Gildrock, it
is easy enough to see where he is coming out. I used to drink beer with
Angy, as we used to call Spickles when he was a more decent fellow than
he is now, and I know something about it.”

“Didn’t you like it?” asked Tom.

“I can’t say that I did: it always gave me the headache, and made me
feel more like a fool than I generally do. I used to drink it because
other fellows did. When I came up here, I did not want it; and I have
been a great deal better without it.”

The Winooski went to the other side of the lake, where the coxswain
proceeded to train his crew for the work before him. Not a word was
spoken that did not relate to the practice, which was kept up till
nearly dark, when the barge returned to Beech Hill. As the boat
approached the mouth of the river, the La Motte was seen two or three
miles to the northward, standing down the lake. Matt hoped that she
would not again visit the waters in the vicinity of Beech Hill.

Matt reported to the principal when the boat had been housed, as all who
were in charge of expeditions, excursions, or business trips, were
required to do. He informed the captain of the departure of the La
Motte, and related to him what had taken place during the interview,
giving him the name of the club, as written on the paper.

“The Nautifelers Club is well named, if the word is Greek,” said Captain
Gildrock. “I suppose they are merely engaged in a frolic, and I only
hope they will keep away from this part of the lake.”

“They came from the northern part of the lake, for they chartered the
schooner at Rouse’s Point; and I don’t exactly understand why they are
going off in that direction again,” suggested Matt. “They have not yet
been to the upper part of the lake, and it looks as though they did not
intend to do so.”

“Perhaps they have drunk so much beer they don’t know what they are
about,” added the principal. “I should say that Spickles was a bright
boy, and it is a thousand pities that he is plunging into excesses.”

At the usual hour all was still; and the students, who had had plenty of
exercise in the boats as well as in the shops, slept soundly in their
rooms. Insomnia was unknown at the institution, and all were active and
bright in the morning at an early hour.

Some of them awoke at an unusually early hour the next morning, though
it soon appeared that the current of events was not flowing in its
ordinary channel. The students and others had been awakened by some
extraordinary disturbance, or most of them would have slept till the
morning-bell roused them from their slumbers.

As nearly at three o’clock as the hour could afterwards be fixed, a
tremendous explosion, with a sound which equalled the report of one of
the yacht-guns on board of the Sylph, shook the buildings of the school,
and made the windows of the dormitory rattle as though a hurricane had
struck them. The very earth seemed to tremble under the effects of the
convulsion.

Suddenly startled from their slumbers, those who heard the sound, and
had been shaken in their beds by it, were unable to determine where the
report came from, or to form any idea of what had caused it. Perhaps
half the students in their rooms leaped from their beds, and the other
half were partially paralyzed where they lay by the shock.

Doubtless, if they had been awake, and had understood the cause of the
explosion, they would have enjoyed it; for the average boy delights in a
terrific noise. But they were literally and figuratively in the dark.
They could see nothing to explain the tremendous racket which had
startled them from their deep sleep, and not a sound followed the shock
to give them a clew to the strange event.

Some thought it must be an earthquake; others that it was a crash of
thunder which attended the striking of the lightning at some point not
far from them. Possibly some of them thought that a daring rogue of the
school was playing off a trick upon his companions; and more wondered if
one of the chimneys on the dormitory had not fallen over, and crushed in
the roof of the building.

It might be an earthquake, for there was no smell of powder, no
lightning in the sky; and no one was stirring in the building, as would
have been the case if the roof had been crushed. In fact, not even the
most intelligent and quick-witted of the students could assign any cause
to the event. They stood in their rooms, or lay in their beds, thinking
of it for a few moments, waiting for something else to come, some
after-clap, which would throw a ray of light on the subject. Nothing
came.

Some of the boldest and most energetic of the boys began to put on a
portion of their clothes, and unfastened their doors. As may well be
supposed, Dory Dornwood was one of the first to come out of the stupor
produced by the shock. He had not been awake more than five seconds,
before he had jumped inside of his pants, and opened the door of his
room.

He looked out into the long hall, but it was as dark as Egypt there; and
there was no glare of a fire in the building,–not a flash, not a sound
of any kind. He went back into his room, and opened the window. He
looked out on the lawn, but there was nothing in motion there. No key to
the enigma was within his reach.

But by this time, he heard a sound in the hall. He went to the door, but
it was too dark to see any thing. Some conspiracy on the part of a few
restless students might have been brought to a focus at this time, and
he deemed it prudent to light his lamp before he took any step. If there
was any thing to be seen, he wanted to see it.

If any conspirators were trying to knock down the dormitory, or
perpetrate a practical joke, he had a desire to know who they were; for
all such tricks were at a discount in the school. The principal had no
mercy for a practical joker when the feelings or the person of any
individual was imperilled by the so-called fun.

There was some one in the hall, beyond a doubt. It might be one of the
students, roused, like himself, by the explosion; or it might be an
evil-doer from outside of the fold. Dory opened the door again, and
thrust the lamp out into the hall, so as to light every part of it.

The person in the hall proved to be Matt Randolph.

Continue Reading

THE NAUTIFELERS CLUB ON THE LAKE

Captain Gildrock hardly thought of the self-sufficient visitor after he
had seen the boat which contained him pull away from the wharf. He only
wondered how Matt Randolph had ever made the acquaintance of such a
fellow, for he was a gentleman himself.

The Beech Hill Industrial School had nearly completed its third year of
existence; and in the opinion of the principal, and also of a great many
other people, it was a decided success. It had certainly reformed quite
a number of young men who might otherwise have become useless, if not
dangerous, members of the community. It had given useful trades to a
considerable number of young men who would not have taken them up on
their own account.

Its moral influence had been even more marked than its industrial power,
and it had assuredly done something to make manual labor more
respectable than it had been considered to be before. There were already
those who were not only earning a living, but were supporting their
parents, by the aid of the knowledge and skill they had acquired in the
institution; and if it had done nothing more than this, it would have
done a great deal.

Cold critics said it ought to be a success, for the founder of it had a
purse long enough to make any reasonable undertaking a success; but the
idea was not a practical one, because it was not susceptible of
universal application. The State could not afford to support such
schools for all who might be willing to use them. It certainly could not
provide for an expenditure as liberal as that of Captain Gildrock, but
it could do a great deal more than it has yet done in this direction.

After the principal had disposed of his impertinent visitor,–for there
was really only one of this type, as Chuckworth and Mackwith hardly
spoke a word,–he could not help thinking that it was a great pity
Spickles could not be brought under such discipline as that of the Beech
Hill School. He was a young man of decided ability, and all he needed
was a kind of discipline that would give him something to live for. He
needed something to think about and work for.

When Matt Randolph returned from his trip with his class in sailing, he
reported to the principal, who happened to be in the office. He informed
the captain where he had been, and the nature of the operations he had
conducted on board of the Lily. He commended his crew for good
discipline, and close application to their duty. A critic might have
laughed at this last part of the report as entirely superfluous; for, as
a matter of course, any party of human boys would be interested, and do
their whole duty, in sailing a boat.

“By the way, Randolph, is Mr. Spickles a friend of yours?” asked the
principal, after he had listened attentively to the report.

“No, sir!” replied Matt, very decidedly. “I was acquainted with him at
home, and he was on board of the yacht a number of times; but after he
stole a thousand dollars from his father, and ran away, I had nothing
more to do with him.”

“Was he as bad as that? He seemed to be more like one of the puppy order
than one of the criminal kind. He was very saucy to me after I had shown
his party over the school; and I had to take him by the collar, and put
him into his boat.”

“I am glad you did, sir,” added Matt. “I was inclined to lay hands on
him after his impudence at the beginning.”

“He came to see you, I suppose?”

“Yes, sir. He is with a party, and there are five of them. They have
chartered a schooner, and intend to spend the summer on the lake.
Spickles invited me on board of the vessel, and insisted that I should
go with him. I refused.”

“The less you have to do with such a fellow as that, the better it will
be for you, though it may be all the worse for him,” added the
principal.

“Spickles told me they had just tapped a keg of beer.”

“Of course! the fellow has made considerable progress in the downward
road.”

After supper the students embarked in the barges for a row, and for
practice with the oars. As during the last season, there were three of
these boats, the Gildrock and the Winooski, each of twelve oars, and the
Marian of eight oars. The crews had been re-organized; and the two
larger boats were preparing for a race, each against the other.

Matt Randolph was the coxswain of the Winooski, and Dory Dornwood of the
Gildrock; for the crew of each had selected the most skilful boatman in
the school to get them in condition for this race. For the last year the
students had been on tolerably peaceable terms with the members of the
Chesterfield Collegiate Institute, on the other side of the lake; and it
was possible that a race would be arranged with them for the Fourth of
July.

The two barges were careful to keep away from each other during their
practice. The two coxswains, though on the most friendly terms, never
talked about the coming race. If either had any points, he wanted to
keep them to himself. Each of them had a system of his own in the method
of rowing, and each kept his own counsel.

Matt Randolph, for these reasons, did not immediately follow the
Gildrock when she left the boat-house, but went up to the head of
Beechwater. As soon as the rival craft had passed out of the little
lake, the Winooski followed her. The coxswain saw that the party on
board of the La Motte, which lay just below the entrance of the creek
into the river, hailed the Gildrock when she went by her. But Dory took
no notice of them; and Matt concluded that he had not been addressed in
civil tones, or he would have replied.

“I wonder what that schooner is that lies in the river,” said Ash
Burton, who pulled the stroke-oar in the Winooski. “She has been there
all the afternoon, and a boat from her went up into Beechwater a while
ago.”

“That is the schooner La Motte; and she has a party of young fellows on
board of her who are going to spend the summer on the lake,” replied the
coxswain, loud enough for all in the barge to hear him.

“They are hoisting the mainsail,” added the stroke-oarsman. “That looks
as though they were going out of the river.”

“If they are going to leave these parts, I am glad of it,” said Matt in
a lower tone.

“Why are you glad of it, Matt?” asked Ash curiously.

“They are not the sort of fellows I like to have very near me; for they
are on a lark, and they have plenty of beer on board,” replied the
coxswain.

The boat passed out of the creek into the river. The La Motte had set
her mainsail, and was now hoisting the foresail. Matt gave the schooner
as wide a berth as he could, but he could not get more than a hundred
feet from her.

“Is that you, Matt Randolph?” shouted Spickles.

“I believe so,” replied the coxswain.

“Come on board, will you, Matt?” continue the captain of the La Motte,
beckoning with his hand.

“You must excuse me, Spickles. I have the charge of this barge, and I
can’t leave her,” replied Matt, very civilly, but not less decisively.
“I have to attend to my duty.”

“But I want to see you about the navigation of this river; for I got
aground coming in, and I don’t want to do it again,” added the captain
of the La Motte.

The coxswain shifted the helm of the barge; for if there was any thing
to be done that would assist in the departure of the schooner, he was
willing to do it. He ran alongside of the vessel, and held the boat at a
distance of about ten feet from her.

“What is the trouble about the navigation, Spickles?” asked Matt, coming
to business at once.

“Off that point below, I found that the water was not more than two feet
deep,” said the captain.

“And it is marked one foot on the chart; and you told me you were
supplied with charts.”

“I am; but the river is not laid down on the chart.”

“You have a south-west wind; and all you have to do is to keep near the
middle of the stream, and you will go out all right. Is that all?”

“No, that is not all,” replied Spickles, who seemed to be dissatisfied
at the distance his former friend kept between them, and with his
apparent desire to get off again. “The water is not more than two or
three feet deep anywhere out beyond that point.”

“To the southward of the point, the water is shoal; but it is deep
enough north of it to float an ocean-steamer anywhere. As soon as you
get to that bend in the river, and open up the point, run for it.
Then–have you a compass on board?”

“Of course I have a compass: I brought a good one with me from New
York,” replied Spickles.

“When you are up with Beaver Point”–

“Where is that?” interposed the captain of the La Motte, who seemed to
be intent upon detaining the coxswain as long as possible.

“The point at the mouth of the river. When you come up with it, make
your course north-west by west, and you will be all right till you run
on the shore on the other side of the lake.”

“I say, Matt, I want to introduce you to the members of the Nautifelers
Club; and I wish you would come on board,” persisted Spickles.

“As I said before, I cannot, and you must excuse me. But what is the
club?” asked Matt, whose curiosity was excited.

“The Nautifelers Club.”

“Is that a Greek word?”

“Of course it is.”

“I can’t quite make it out: will you spell it for me?” asked Matt.

“I will write it for you: it means in English, ‘Lots of fun.'”

The coxswain gave an order which brought the stern of the barge near
enough to the vessel to enable him to obtain the paper, but resisted all
persuasions to go on board of the schooner.

Continue Reading

MR. SPICKLES FROM THE METROPOLIS

“I can’t go on board now, Spickles,” said Matt Randolph, in a very
decided tone, and with an expression on his manly face which indicated
that he did not wish to go, even if he could.

“What’s the reason you can’t?” demanded Spickles, evidently very much
dissatisfied with the decision of the other.

“Because I have something else to do,” added Matt. “I have to attend to
my duties as closely here as though I were an officer in the navy, on
sea-duty.”

“What’s the use of being tied up as though you were a prisoner at Sing
Sing?” asked Spickles, his disgust apparent on his rather brutal face.
“Your father is as rich as mud, and there is no need of your being kept
in a strait-jacket.”

“I am not kept in a strait-jacket,” protested Matt, very warmly.

“I think you are,” returned Spickles, with a curling sneer on his thick
lips. “When I saw you in New York a year ago, you told me what a big
thing Lake Champlain was.”

“I still think it is the finest sheet of water in the world, and the
region around it is a perfect paradise.”

“Paradise!” exclaimed the visitor from the metropolis. “You said there
was lots of fun to be had here.”

“I find plenty of amusement for all the spare hours I have.”

“After what you said, I kept thinking of this place; and five of our
fellows have come up here, and chartered a schooner for the summer. She
is anchored out in the river; and now that we are here, you will not
even go on board of her,” continued Spickles, becoming more and more
disgusted with the refusal of the captain of the Lily; for such he was,
and his “class in sailing” were about ready to go on board of the
schooner.

“I am the skipper of that schooner you see out in the lake, and I have
to go out in her in a short time,” Matt explained.

“Put it off; let the party wait till you come back,” insisted the
visitor.

“We don’t do things in that way here,” added Matt, with a smile.

“Tell them you are sick, and can’t go,” suggested Spickles.

“But I am not sick.”

“You were not always above stretching the truth a little in an
emergency.”

“I am now.” Matt did not blush in saying it, either.

“We are going to stay on the lake all summer, if we don’t get tired of
it,” continued Spickles. “I depended upon having you with us, Matt; for
we don’t know much about the navigation in these waters, though we have
the government charts.”

“I don’t see how you could depend upon me, for I told you that I was
under strict discipline in the Beech Hill Industrial School,” argued
Matt. “I can’t come and go when I will.”

“Confound the Beech Hill Industrial School! Run away from it, and join
our party for the summer.”

“I certainly shall not run away from it, for I am perfectly contented
and happy here,” replied Matt.

“At least you will come on board of the La Motte?”

“What’s the La Motte?”

“She’s the schooner we chartered for the summer, though she’s nothing
but a lumber-vessel fixed up for our use. She sails very well, and is
large enough for a party of ten. We found her at Rouse’s Point. Now,
come on board of her. We have just opened a keg of beer in view of your
expected visit,” said Spickles, in the most persuasive tones he could
command.

“I don’t drink beer,” answered the student of the school.

“You don’t drink beer!” exclaimed the visitor, stepping back in his
apparent astonishment. “How long has that been?”

“I haven’t tasted beer, or any thing of the kind, since I came to this
school, about two years ago,” replied the captain of the Lily.

“Then, it was only because you couldn’t get any beer.”

“Perhaps that is one reason, though I haven’t tried to get any. I had it
all about me while I was at home in New York, but I had decided not to
take any under any circumstances.”

“Then, it is time for you to begin again. Come along, Matt.”

“No beer for me, and I cannot go with you,” added Matt resolutely. “I
made up my mind a year ago not to drink any thing that fuddles, and to
keep out of bad company.”

“Bad company!” exclaimed Spickles, looking earnestly into the face of
his former associate in the city.

“That is what I said; and I advise you to do the same thing, Spickles.
It is best to keep on the safe side of the evils of this world.”

“You are a regular built parson!”

This conversation was continued for some time longer, but the captain of
the Lily remained as firm as the rocks in the quarry above Beechwater.
The visitor was not only disgusted with his want of success in enticing
his former companion to the schooner in the river, but he was offended
at what he considered the stiffness of Matt. When the latter spoke of
keeping out of bad company, he put the coat on, whether he saw that it
fitted him or not.

“You are an out-and-out spooney now, Matt Randolph; and I did not think
that of you,” said Spickles, as the crew of the Lily began to gather on
the wharf, where the conversation had taken place.

“Just as you please, Spickles,” replied Matt, with a smile; and he
seemed to feel that the interview had come to a desirable point, and
that his former associate would drop him from the roll of his friends.

“But I want to look about this place a little before I leave it
forever,” added the visitor. “I suppose I can do so?”

“Certainly, upon application to the principal, Captain Gildrock. He will
show you all over the establishment,” replied Matt. “There he comes, and
I will introduce you.”

“All right. Chuckworth! Mackwith!” answered Spickles, calling to his two
companions in the boat.

The three young men appeared to be about eighteen or twenty years old.
They were dressed in yachting costume, and a person of experience in the
ways of the world would at once have set them down as fast young men.
They were of the reckless order, swaggering, defiant, boisterous. If a
lady had seen them together, she would have taken the other side of the
street.

Captain Gildrock was coming down the wharf, to look after the
embarkation of the sailing-class. Matt Randolph presented Spickles to
the principal, and left the chief of the party to introduce his
companions.

“You are the boss of this concern, I take it, Captain Gilthead,” said
Spickles, suddenly putting on his usual style, and in a sort of
patronizing tone, as if the principal had been a country schoolmaster,
who ought to consider himself honored by being noticed by a young
gentleman from the metropolis.

In fact, Captain Spickles, as his companions on board of the La Motte
called him, was determined to “take him down” a little. The visitor,
after what Matt had said to him about the discipline of the institution,
regarded him with a sort of instinctive hatred. He did not like any one
who disciplined young men. Principals, professors, schoolmasters, were
monsters, ogres, tyrants, whose only mission in the world was to tease,
torture, and torment young fellows like himself.

Captain Gildrock looked at him with a puzzled expression on his
dignified face; though the usual smile when he was in repose, played
about his mouth. He read the young man almost at the first glance; and
if he had considered the popinjay worthy of his steel, he would have
prepared for a skirmish of words with him.

“I said ‘Captain Gildrock,'” interposed Matt, with emphasis enough to
clear himself; for he saw that the fellow had purposely miscalled the
name.

“Excuse me, Captain Goldblock.”

“Certainly, Mr. Spittle,” added the principal blandly.

“Mr. Spickles, if you please,” interposed the visitor, who did not at
all relish being paid off in his own coin.

“Precisely so, Mr. Spiddles,” laughed the principal; while Matt had to
turn away to hide his choking laugh.

“My name is Spickles, Captain Goldblock.”

“Ah, indeed, Mr. Skiggles! Permit me to add that mine is Gildrock.”

“Well, Captain Gildrock”–

“Well, Mr. Spickles”–

“I suppose you are the boss of this concern. Will you show it up?”

“I am the principal of this institution.”

“Possibly I shall be able to entertain these visitors alone, Randolph,
and you may go on board with your ship’s company,” said Captain
Gildrock, a little later, while he was waiting for the young gentleman
from New York to study up his next question.

Matt had twelve students to instruct in the art of sailing a boat, and
he directed them to take their places in the two boats that were waiting
for them.

“Well, boss, we are ready to see what you have got to show,” said
Spickles.

“Well, my young cub, I don’t know that things here will interest you,
but I will show you all you may wish to see,” continued the captain, as
he conducted the strangers to the office, under the schoolroom. “We
register all students here when they come. If they have any money, we
keep it for them in that steel safe.”

“Is that a steel safe?” asked Mr. Spickles. “Upon my word, I thought it
was a wooden one.”

“You thought it was made of the same material as your head; but I assure
you it is not. Nothing so soft would answer the purpose,” answered the
principal, who did not always stand on his dignity, though he had plenty
of it.

Messrs. Chuckworth and Mackwith turned away, and indulged in audible
smiles. Associated with Mr. Spickles, they were often the victims of his
peculiar humor, and they were not at all sorry to have him put under the
harrow. They enjoyed the remarks of the principal more than Spickles
did.

“Then, it is really a steel safe; and I suppose you are afraid the
students will steal your money, or you wouldn’t have a steel safe,”
continued Mr. Spickles, chuckling as though he thought he had made a
pun.

“Well, no; we hardly expect the students to rob the safe, for they are
taught not to steal; but some of these visitors might have a taste for
that sort of thing. I sometimes have a thousand dollars in that safe,
besides small sums belonging to the students. In fact, I believe I have
two thousand dollars in it at this moment: that is the reason why I
prefer a steel safe to a wooden one.”

The principal showed the visitors over the premises, though they took
very little interest in the institution. Spickles indulged in impudent
remarks, which the captain parried in his own way, so that he soon got
tired of making them; for every time he did so, his friends had a chance
to laugh at him, and enjoy the retort.

If Spickles disliked the principal in the first of it, he hated him in
the end. A sharp answer made him mad when they had finished the survey,
and he was so saucy that Captain Gildrock ordered him to leave. He did
not take the hint; and the principal took him by the collar, dragged him
to the wharf, and tumbled him into the boat. The leader of the summer
party vowed vengeance to his companions.

Continue Reading