Face the music

“Wasn’t it great?” demanded Bill.

“All to the lalapalooza!” was Cap’s opinion.

“I thought sure McNibb would hear us snickering when we pulled the
strings and upset the paint,” added Pete.

“And what a sight Mersfeld and North were!” remarked Whistle-Breeches.
“They must have looked like walking complexion advertisements when the
lights were turned on.”

“I wonder if they’ll be fired?” spoke Bob Chapin. “I wouldn’t like

“Hu! That’s probably what they wanted to happen to us!” cut in
Whistle-Breeches. “It’s a case of chicken eat turkey I reckon, and
everybody have cranberries.”

“They didn’t actually _do_ anything,” went on Bill, as he and his
brothers and chums were talking over the affair next morning. “The
evidence only pointed to them as if they were _going_ to do it.”

“That’s enough for McNibb,” commented Cap. “Great monkey doodles! There
goes last bell and I’ve got to look over my Pindar yet. Holy mackerel!”

The whole school was buzzing with the news, and it was soon generally
known that the Smith boys had neatly turned the tables on the plotters.

As for those worthies, the events had followed each other so rapidly
that they hardly knew what to think, much less say or do. It was a
complete surprise to them, and they dared not utter a word as to what
their real intentions had been.

As Cap had said, the circumstantial evidence was enough against
them. They had been caught, if not exactly with the paint in their
possession, at least with it all over them, and the anonymous letter
was enough to declare their object, albeit that screed was intended to
throw suspicions on others.

“Have you anything to say?” the proctor had asked them when he had them
in his sanctum.

“I—er—I guess not,” answered North, with a glance at his pink-stained

“How about you, Mersfeld?”

“I—I don’t know, it was not our intention—Oh, well, I guess I have
nothing to say, either,” and the pitcher gave up the attempt.

“Very well. You may go. I’ll take your case up with the faculty.”

The two lads were in an agony of apprehension lest they be expelled, or
suspended for the remainder of the term, but after a faculty meeting,
in which Dr. Burton had made a plea for them, it was decided to debar
both lads from participation in all athletic or other sports for a
month, to stop all evening leave for the same period, and to inflict
other punishment in the matter of doing extra classical study.

The fact that they had not actually committed any overt act of
sacrilege against the statue was in their favor, though, as the
proctor said, only the receipt of the anonymous letter prevented it.

And how Mersfeld and his crony writhed in agony as they thought of the
letter they had themselves written! They guessed that their plot had
been laid bare, and they suspected Bob Chapin, who, fearing punishment,
spoke to the Smith boys about it. Then, on Cap’s suggestion, and in
order that the truth might be known, a statement of how it had all come
about was drawn up and sent to the two plotters.

“That’s the last time I try any of _your_ tricks,” said Mersfeld
bitterly to North.

“Get out! Weren’t you as hot for it as I was? Why don’t you think of
something yourself then, if you’re so smart?”

“I will—next time,” and the two parted not the best of friends.

The barring of Mersfeld from the diamond took him off the Varsity team
for the time being, though he was still considered a member of it, even
if he could not play. He was allowed to take part in practice games,
however, for Captain Graydon and Coach Windam well knew the value of
keeping some box men in reserve.

“No telling when Smith will develop a glass arm or go up in the air, or
get wild,” said Graydon.

“No, but he’s doing well now,” declared the coach. “He pitched a
no-hit-no-run game in a five inning practice the other day.”

“That’s too good to last. We’ve got to hold on to Mersfeld, and work up
some one else.”

“Sure. Mighty queer how the Smith boys turned that statue trick; eh?”

“Oh, those fellows aren’t greenhorns, if they did come from the
country. Wait until they get hold of the ropes here a little better,
and they’ll cut things loose.”

“Yes, and maybe they’ll be barred from the team.”

But our heroes showed no inclinations, at present, of doing anything
like that. They went on the even tenor of their ways, showed up
regularly at baseball practice, and had their lessons as well, perhaps,
as the average student. They did not “cut” more than the regulation
number of lectures, and they made many friends.

Bill kept on improving in his control and his curve work, until the
delighted coach and captain declared that they already had a good grip
on the pennant.

Several unimportant games were played, and one or two of the league
contests, in which the Westfield nine made about an even break. The
season was far from over, and he would indeed have been a wise prophet
who could have told who would win the pennant.

“I think even Duodecimo Donaldby, alias Tithonus Somnus himself would
be at a loss,” declared Cap. “But, fellows,” he went on, addressing his
two brothers, “keep up the good work. Make the name of ‘Smith’ a credit
to the school.”

“The only trouble is that there are so many Smiths that in ages to come
they won’t know which breed it was who did it,” complained Pete.

Mersfeld was bitter in his heart against our heroes, and was anxious
for revenge, but he and North had had a falling out, and he did not
know what he could do to get even with the Smith boys. Meanwhile he
sulked in his room, and thought mean thoughts.

“Say, fellows, do you know I think we ought to do something,” remarked
Bill to his brothers one day, as they came in tired but happy from the
diamond, after some hard practice. “It’s been dull lately.”

“Yes, let’s paint another statue,” remarked Cap grimly.

“Or put a cow in the physics class,” suggested Pete.

“No, but seriously, I think it’s up to us to do something,” went on
Bill. “We’ve got a lot of friends who expect things from us, and we
ought to keep up our reputation. What do you say that we give a little
spread? Dad sent me two fivers the other day.”

“You can’t give a spread for that,” declared Cap.

“I know it, but you fellows have some, and if you loosen up a bit—”

“Oh, count us in,” came quickly from Pete, “only how are you going to
do it? Hire a hall in town, and—”

“Oh, not that kind!” cried Bill quickly. “I mean a little midnight
supper up in our rooms. We can do it fine here, as we’re on the same
floor. It’s like one big room when the connecting doors are open.”

“We’d get caught sure as blazes,” observed Cap, “and you know our
reputations are none too good. I think McNibb suspects us of having
something to do with the statue game.”

“Why?” asked Bill.

“Oh, the other day he was up here, snooping around, and he saw a splash
of that pink paint on the wall. He went over to it right away, and
looked at it like Sherlock Holmes. I was in a nervous sweat, and I
thought he’d ask some questions, but he only said: ‘Ah, Smith, that
color has a powerful spreading ability; hasn’t it?’”

“And what did you say?” demanded Bill.

“What _could_ I say? Nothing. I just played safety and kept still, and
mighty glad I was that he didn’t ask any more. But as I say, I think he
suspects us, so we’ve got to be careful.”

“Oh, we can pull this off all right,” declared Bill. “I have a plan.”

“Tell it,” begged Whistle-Breeches. “Things are dull of late. Liven ’em

He had entered just in time to hear Bill’s last remark.

“Well, some big-gun from the other side, England or Germany, is coming
here next Friday night, to lecture on pedagogics or something like
that. The entire faculty is going, I understand, and only McNibb and
the janitors will be on hand. Besides that, the Seniors have some sort
of a legitimate blow out, and there’s the Junior concert. So things
will be quiet around here, and we can just as well as not have our
spread. What do you say, fellows?”

“I’m for it—here’s my cash,” answered Pete, passing over some bills.

“Ditto,” added Cap, following suit.

“Say, fellows, I’m broke,” put in Bob Chapin, who looked in at that
juncture, “but if there’s anything like that going on, count me in.”

“Me too!” cried Whistle-Breeches.

“This is strictly on the Smith boys,” declared Bill. “It’s to
celebrate our second childhood, or something like that. Well, I’ll go
ahead with the arrangements.”

On the Friday night in question there might have been seen a number of
figures—dark, stealthy figures—stealing, one at a time, toward the
dormitory where the Smith boys lived and moved and had their being. Yet
not a gleam of light shone from their windows, for Bill had bought some
black roofing paper and tacked it over the casements.

“It makes it warm,” he said, “but it’s safer.”

The good things had been bought, and some boards to be covered with
newspapers and laid on the beds were to serve for tables. As the lights
were turned off at a certain hour, save in the corridor, candles had
been procured.

“At last all was in readiness,” as they say in novels. The guests
had assembled and were gathered about the banquet table. No one had
been caught, as yet, for Bill had laid his plans well, and all of
the faculty, some of whom might otherwise have been prowling about
the school, were listening to a very deep lecture on how to impart
knowledge to boys, by a man who had never had any. As for Proctor
McNibb, he had so many extra duties on his hands that he did not go
near the Freshmen’s dormitory until quite late.

This gave our heroes and their friends the lack of attention which they
much desired. There was a goodly crowd present, when Whistle-Breeches,
who had been named as toastmaster, arose, and with a bottle of ginger
ale in one hand, and a cheese sandwich in the other, proposed:

“Those Smith boys! May we always have ’em with us!”

“Hear! Hear!” cried Wendell Borden, in a dull, monotonous voice.
Wendell had read that this was what Englishmen said at banquets, and
his father had come from England.

“Less noise!” ordered Bill. “Do you want to have the place pulled, and
all of us pinched? Go on and eat!”

They fell-to, and there was merry feasting, even if the jests did have
to be passed around in whispers, losing thereby much of their wit.

“Now, fellows,” began Bob Chapin, as he rose and held out a bottle of
lemon soda, “let me propose—”

There was a knock on the door—a knock as of one having authority.

A sudden hush fell upon the assemblage.

“Answer, Bill, Cap—some of you,” whispered Whistle-Breeches nervously.

“What’ll I say?” demanded Bill.

The knock was repeated.

“Ask whose there,” suggested Bob.

“Who—who’s—there?” stammered Bill, as though it cost him an effort.

“It is I—Mr. McNibb. Are there any persons in your room besides

“Ye—yes,” stammered Bill. Lying was not permitted by the school honor

“Open the door!” came the command.

Bill looked appealingly around. Some of the boys made motions as though
to dive under the beds.

“Face the music!” ordered Cap sharply, for he detested sneaking tactics.

“Open the door,” came the command again, in stern tones.

There was no choice but to obey, and Bill arose to draw the bolts.

He slowly opened the portal, and, as it swung back the banqueters
peered forward to behold the smiling countenances of Ward and Merton,
two of the biggest seniors in the school.

Blank looks of surprise, astonishment, relief and anger at the manner
in which they had been deceived, struggled for mastery over the faces
of the Freshmen. The two seniors walked in, looked coolly about,
as though the whole affair had been arranged for their especial
entertainment and inspection, and then calmly took two vacant seats
near the head of the improvised banquet table, which is to say the bed.

“Ah, very cozy and comfortable here; eh Ward?” observed Merton.

“Indeed yes. The old Romans weren’t in it with these chaps. They don’t
recline at table, but make their table on the recline! Ha! Ha! Joke!
Everybody laugh!”

There was a grim silence, at which the Seniors seemed surprised. They
looked around at the banqueters.

“Well, why don’t you laugh?” demanded Ward. “Don’t you Freshies know
what’s good for you?”

“Ha! Ha!” burst out Bill, as much in relief at not finding McNibb in
their midst, as at the alleged joke.

“Laugh!” commanded Merton sternly.

“Laugh!” ordered Ward sharply.

It was instruction that could not be disobeyed, for the Freshmen,
under certain circumstances, were by the unwritten, but none the less
stringent rules of the school, bound to do certain things commanded
by their class superiors. Thereupon there ensued a series of snickers,
more or less forced.

“Not so loud!” ordered Merton. “Or you _will_ have McNibb here. Sorry
if we gave you fellows heart-failure, but we smelled out this little
feed, and thought we’d better show you how easy it is to get caught.
Pass the cheese.”

“And I’ll have some of those pickled lambs tongues,” added Ward. “I
say, boys, you _do_ know how to get up a grub-fest. Who’s doing?”

“The Smith boys,” murmured Whistle-Breeches.

“Might have known,” declared Merton. “Say, you fellows are cutting
things loose at Westfield. Well, it’s good for the old school. Here,
Ward, are some prime macaroons.”

The seniors helped themselves and each other to what was best on the
table, making more or less funny remarks, while their unwilling hosts
looked on, not daring, because of another unwritten law, to eat with

“Here, get busy, you fellows,” ordered Ward. “Pass things up toward
this end. We’re hungry, and it isn’t often that you have two noble
Roman senators to grace your banquets. Get busy.”

“What appetites!” murmured Cap in whispered admiration. “I thought I
could eat, but they have me beaten a mile.”

“Never mind, as long as it wasn’t McNibb. They’re welcome to all that’s
left—we had a good share,” spoke Bill.

The Seniors seemed to be having a good time, but they could not keep
on eating, and even in their hearts was the fear lest they be caught.
So, with a mock farewell, they took their departure, promising to send
some of their fellows around to enjoy the feast of good things.

But no more of the fourth-year men arrived, due to the fact, probably,
that the meeting at which were the entire faculty, was nearly at
an end, and soon the college and the grounds would be infested by
professors. Then, too McNibb might come around at any moment.

“Hurry, fellows,” suggested Bill and his brothers. “Eat what’s left and
then cut out of here. It _might_ be McNibb next time.”

“Say, I thought it was all up with us, when that knock came,” remarked

“Same here,” added Whistle-Breeches. “Are there any stuffed olives

“Nary a one,” answered Cap. “Those chaps stuffed themselves on ’em.”

“Stuffed Seniors instead of stuffed olives,” observed Bill grimly.

The feast was over, the remains cleared away and, one by one, or in
couples, the guests departed, with intervals between the leavings, so
that too much noise might not be created.

The last one had gone—the room was in fairly good shape, albeit
bottles and cans had been piled into closets until the recesses were
almost overflowing—there to stay until such time as they could be
smuggled out.

“Well; how about it?” asked Bill.

“It was all right—even the interruption,” replied Cap.

There came a sudden knock on the door. The brothers, who were not the
only occupants of their adjoining rooms looked at each other with fear
in their eyes.

“Gentlemen, are you in bed?” demanded the unmistakable voice of the

“Ye—yes!” exclaimed Bill, making an appealing motion to his brothers.
With a single motion they threw themselves, dressed as they were, upon
the covers, while Bill extinguished the single candle. “We’re in bed,
Mr. McNibb.”

“I’m glad to hear it,” was the grim retort. “I thought I saw a light
through the key hole.”

“No—no, sir,” declared Pete. The room was in darkness but the smell of
a recently extinguished candle was only too evident.

“Very well,” and the proctor passed on, leaving the Smith boys to
recover of near-heart-failure as best they might.

The banquet given by our heroes was the talk of the school for several
days—wireless talk, of course, for it would never do to have it come
to the ears of those in authority. Those who had not been favored with
an invitation were wondering how they could cultivate the good graces
of our friends, and the lucky ones who had attended were wondering when
there would be another spread.

There was hard baseball practice the day following the little affair,
and, for some reason Bill was a little off in his pitching.

“You’ll either have to get a new pair of glasses,” grimly remarked the
coach, “or you’ll have to cut out your midnight suppers, Smith.”

“All right,” agreed the pitcher, for the word of Mr. Windam was law.
The scrub, on which Mersfeld was pitching was close to beating the
Varsity, over which fact the deposed twirler was gloating.

“If things go on this way,” he said to his crony North, as they left
the field, the two again being friendly, “I’ll be back in the box once

“I’d be glad to help you,” was the answer, for though North did not
exactly care for Mersfeld, whom he felt was not in his “class,” yet the
bully had formed an unreasoning hate toward our heroes, and would have
been glad to see them run out of the school. “If anything turns up by
which we can get back at those fellows, count me in.”

“All right,” replied Mersfeld, duly grateful.

The two strolled across the campus, and, as they got behind a clump
of bushes, North saw a small, timid boy, one of the students at a
preparatory school connected with Westfield, passing along. He called
to the lad, whom he knew slightly:

“Here, Harvey, carry my glove and bat, I’m tired,” for North had been
playing on the scrub.

“Oh, please, I can’t,” replied Harvey. “I’m in a hurry. I—I will next

“I said now!” exclaimed North putting out a hand, and catching the
small chap roughly by the shoulder. “_Now_, do you hear! Not next week,
but _now_. What’s getting into you fellows from the prep, anyhow? Take
that bat!” and the bully brought it down with considerable force on
Harvey’s shoulder.

The little lad gave a cry of pain, and started to run, breaking from
North’s hold. With a coarse expression the larger student threw his
heavy glove at the little boy, catching him on the back of the head.
Then, with a quick jump North was at his side again, and had the little
fellow’s arm in a cruel grip.

“Try to run away from me; will you?” he demanded. “I’ll show you that
it won’t do to fool with me—you prep. kids are getting too fresh. Now
you get down on your knees and beg my pardon, and then take my glove
and bat, and Mersfeld’s bat too.”

“Oh, North—” began the pitcher, who was a fairly decent chap.

“Let me manage him,” exclaimed the bully. “These kids have to be taught
their place. Get down on your bones, now!”

He seized the frail lad’s hands in his strong ones, and bent them over

“Oh, Mr. North! Please don’t. I—I won’t do it again! I’ll carry the
bat! Oh, you’re breaking my hands!”

He cried out in agony, and Mersfeld took a step forward half intending
to interfere. But he did not get the chance.

Some one with blazing eyes leaped from behind the clump of bushes and
confronted the bully. A clenched fist was drawn back, and then shot
forward. Right on the point of North’s aristocratic chin it landed with
a sound that could be heard for some distance.

Backward the bully was hurled, almost turning over, and then he slumped
down on the grass. He stayed there for several seconds, and then got up

“Who—who did that?” he asked thickly, for he was a bit dazed.

“I did,” answered Cap Smith quietly, “and if you want any additional
just try some more of your bullying tactics on boys smaller than

North staggered to his feet, and rushed at Cap.

“Not here! Not now!” cried Mersfeld, throwing himself in front of his
crony. “Meet him later! There’ll have to be a fight, of course?” and
the pitcher looked at Cap.

“Of course,” was the grave answer.

“All right. I’ll see one of your friends,” for these matters were
rather scientifically arranged at Westfield, on certain occasions.

“See Bill or Pete,” answered Cap, as he turned aside and strolled up
the campus.