GERALD REVOLTS

Presently, when Gerald’s wounds were dressed, Dan persuaded him to tell
his story. He had got over his tears and was looking rather depressed
and ashamed of himself.

“I was coming up the hill toward the gymnasium,” began Gerald.

“What were you doing down there?” Dan asked.

“I–I was just taking a walk along by the river,” answered Gerald
evasively.

Dan nodded. “Homesick,” he thought.

“I’m sorry you didn’t come back to the room,” he said. “I waited here
for you some time. I wanted to take you over to see Loring and Dyer.”

“I don’t want to go there,” answered Gerald. “They don’t like me.”

“You’re mistaken. Tom asked me this afternoon to bring you over often.
They’re nice fellows and I want you to like them. But never mind about
that now. What happened when you were coming up from the river?”

“I met four or five fellows just this side of the tennis courts, near
the little red building, you know.”

Dan nodded again.

“And one of them said something about ‘Miss Nancy.’ I didn’t pay any
attention and just kept right on. Then this fellow Thompson–”

“Hold on! What sort of a looking fellow is Thompson?”

“He–he’s kind of heavy, with dark hair, and wears a plaid cap.”

“Sort of sallow, with a mole on his cheek? I think I remember him. But
he’s bigger than you, isn’t he?”

“A little,” said Gerald grudgingly.

“All right. What happened?”

“He said ‘No, that’s Little Money-bags,’ and the other fellows laughed,
and one of them said something I didn’t hear. Then Thompson said: ‘Oh,
yes, his father’s got lots of money, but if folks knew where he got it
he’d be in prison.’”

“And then what?” asked Dan sympathetically.

“Nothing.”

“_Nothing?_”

“No, I–I just hit him!” Dan smiled.

“That wasn’t a very good thing to do, Gerald. We don’t go in for that
sort of thing here at Yardley.”

“I don’t care. What right had he to say that? I did hit him and I’ll do
it again if he talks that way about my father!”

“Well, you hit him. Then, I suppose he hit you?”

“No. He was going to, but some of the other fellows ran in and said
we’d be seen. Then Thompson asked if I wanted to fight, and I said I
did, and we went back of the little red building and–and–fought.”

“How long?”

“Just a minute. I couldn’t do anything, Dan. He knew how to fight and I
didn’t.”

“Well, but your knuckles–”

“I hit him once on the chin,” acknowledged Gerald with satisfaction,
“but that’s about all. Then he hit me on the nose.”

“And that ended it?”

“Yes. I wanted to go on, but they wouldn’t let me. One of them gave me
a handkerchief–I couldn’t find mine. It’s on the stand there. Then I
came up here.”

“Did anyone see you?”

“I don’t think so. I didn’t meet anyone but a couple of fellows in
front of Oxford. I don’t care if they did see me.”

“Well, it’s just as well that you didn’t run across any of the
Faculty,” said Dan dryly. “Faculty doesn’t like scraps. How’s the nose
feeling?”

“All right now; it’s just sore. It–it felt as though it was broken at
first. Did you ever have a real fight with another fellow, Dan?”

“Oh, I’ve had two or three scrimmages,” replied Dan carelessly, “but
not here. And I guess you’d better make up your mind to let this be
your last one, Gerald.”

“I’m going to learn to box,” said Gerald determinedly. “And when I know
how I’m going to lick Thompson.”

“Well,” answered Dan soothingly, “maybe you won’t want to by that time.”

“Does it take long? Is it hard to learn?”

“Boxing? N-no, I guess not, but I don’t know much about it: I never
took any lessons.”

“Will you box with me sometimes in the gym?”

“Perhaps,” answered Dan, “but you’d better get Alf Loring to show you;
he’s a dandy at it, they say.”

“Do you think he would?”

“Yes, but I’d forget about Thompson, Gerald. I dare say he’s sorry for
what he said. Did you make up afterwards?”

Gerald shook his head.

“He wanted to shake hands, but I wouldn’t. He’s got to apologize for
what he said about my father, every word, before I’ll make up with
him.”

“The best thing to do is to leave him alone and forget all about it,”
counseled Dan. “That’s what I’d do.” Gerald shook his head.

“No, you wouldn’t,” he said sagely, and Dan thought it best not to
argue the matter.

“Shall you see Loring again soon?” asked Gerald.

“I’ll see him to-morrow, I suppose. Why?”

“Will you ask him about boxing? Would you mind?”

“No, but it would be much better if you asked him yourself. We’ll drop
around there this evening for a few minutes.”

“All right,” said Gerald, “but I’m afraid he’ll think it’s awfully
cheeky of me.”

“No, he won’t. Now let’s get fixed up for supper. Let’s see how your
nose looks. Well, I guess most anyone would know that you’d been in
some sort of a mix-up, but it doesn’t look very bad. You’d better look
the other way, though, when you meet any of the Faculty. How are the
fellows at your table, by the way?”

“All right, I guess. I don’t know any of them very well, except a
little chap named Merrow.”

“Merrow? Seems to me I know him. Oh, yes, I met him coming up from the
station the other day. Is he nice?”

“Yes, but he’s just a kid.” Presently Gerald paused in his ablutions
long enough to announce; “I’m going to try for the Clarke hockey team,
Dan.”

“Are you? Did Bendix say you could play hockey?”

“Yes, on the dormitory team. Hockey and tennis. I don’t see why I can’t
play baseball, do you?”

“N-no, but I suppose Muscles has his reason. How are you getting along
at the gym?”

“All right. It’s mostly dumb-bells and wands now, though. But it’s
pretty good fun, isn’t it? Next week we’re going to do stunts on the
bars and things like that. I think I’ve got more muscle now than I
had when I came, don’t you? Look.” And Gerald pulled his sleeve up,
exposing a pathetically thin arm, and brought his clinched hand up to
his shoulder, watching Dan anxiously.

“Hm, yes, I believe you have,” said Dan gravely. “You keep on, Gerald,
and you’ll be mightily surprised at the result. It’s wonderful what
you can do in the gym. I’ve only been here about three months and I’ve
increased my chest expansion almost two inches.”

“Really? Mr. Bendix said I was awfully flat chested, and I guess I am.
I wish I had your muscles, Dan.”

“You keep on and you will have. All ready? Come on, then. Are you
hungry?”

“Not very. I’m never very hungry, Dan. Even at home I don’t eat much.”

“You wait until you’ve been here a little longer,” laughed Dan, “and
you won’t talk that way!”

After supper they went over to Dudley.

“Here he is!” cried Alf as Dan opened the door of Number 7. “What shall
we do to him, Tom? Hello, Pennimore, how are you?”

“Quite well, thank you,” replied Gerald politely. Alf grinned at Dan.

“Glad you’re bringing him to be respectful,” he whispered in Dan’s ear
as Gerald spoke to Tom. “Well, find seats, my worthy guests. Hello,
Pennimore! What’s happened to your face? Sort of out of drawing,
isn’t it? If I didn’t know you for a peaceable citizen I’d say you’d
been–er–mixing it up a bit.”

Gerald looked diffidently at Dan.

“Tell your own story,” laughed Dan.

“I–I got hit,” muttered Gerald.

“Oh!” said Alf, suppressing a grin.

“Who hit you?” asked Tom.

“A fellow named Thompson. We–we had a sort of a fight.”

“The dickens you did! What about?”

Then Gerald found courage to give an account of the incident. Tom
nodded approvingly.

“You did just right,” he said. “Sorry you didn’t hurt him a bit worse.
He’s a fresh kid, anyway.”

“Still,” interposed Dan, with a meaning glance at Tom, “I tell Gerald
we don’t go in for scrapping here.”

“That’s right,” answered Tom. “We don’t–except when it’s necessary.
When a chap says things about your parents, though, it’s necessary.
Just remember that, Pennimore. Don’t you take any fellow’s dust. If
he’s too big for you, just you come and tell me; understand?”

“Yes, thank you,” replied Gerald. “I–I didn’t want to fight, but there
wasn’t anything else I could do, was there?”

“Not a thing!” said Tom heartily. “Oh, you may frown all you want to,
Dan, but I’m right, and you know it, you old hypocrite.”

“You’ll get Gerald into trouble if you give him advice like that,
though,” Dan objected. “Faculty won’t stand for fights, and you know
it.”

“Yes, but Collins won’t be hard on a fellow for sticking up for the
honor of the family, so to speak. He’s human, Collins is. And I guess
we three know that as well as anyone. Ever fought before, Gerald?”

“No, I never have,” answered Gerald apologetically. Alf laughed.

“Well, don’t apologize. After all, in spite of Tom, we’re not all
sluggers here.”

“I’d like to know something about fighting, though,” said Gerald with a
beseeching look at Dan.

“He’s got a favor to ask of you, Alf, and he’s afraid you’ll think he’s
cheeky,” explained Dan.

“Of me? What is it? Let’s hear. I promise now not to think you cheeky,
Pennimore. Want me to re-shape your nose for you?”

“I–I wondered whether you’d mind giving me a few lessons in boxing,”
said Gerald soberly.

“By Jove, I like your grit! Want to be ready for the next one, eh?”
Gerald didn’t reply.

“Fact is,” laughed Dan, “he wants to learn how to fight so he can lick
Thompson. I tell him he’d better call it quits, but–”

“Oh, Alf will teach you, all right,” interrupted Tom. “If he doesn’t
I’ll make him.”

“You! You couldn’t make a cat sneeze!” jeered Alf. “I’ll be very glad
to show you what I know, Pennimore,” he added kindly. “We’ll get
together some day real soon. We can use the boxing room in the gym
Saturday afternoons, I guess. As to Thompson–well, you’ve shown him
you won’t stand for his nonsense, and I guess he will let you alone
after this. But boxing is mighty good exercise and it will do you good.”

“I’m awfully much obliged,” murmured Gerald. “I guess you will find me
pretty stupid, though.”

“That’s all right. You’ll learn. You’re light on your feet and you look
quick. Here, don’t rush off, Dan.”

“Must. Gerald and I have got studying to do.”

“Well, so have I, but you don’t see me worrying about it, do you?”
laughed Alf. “Sit down and be sociable.”

“Can’t, honest!” replied Dan. “Good night, you fellows.”

After they had gone Tom looked across at Alf.

“Well?” he asked.

“Well what?”

“He isn’t such a sissy after all, is he?”

“Who? Little Geraldine?” asked Alf with a laugh. “Oh, he will get on in
time. Say, though, doesn’t Dan remind you of old Mrs. Mother Hen with
her one chick?”

And Alf went off chuckling to find his books.

On the following Friday Dan and Gerald, suit-cases in hand and ulsters
on arm, climbed aboard the express at a little before five o’clock and
set out for New York. It was a cloudy afternoon, still and moderately
cold. The river had been frozen for several days, and as the train
crossed the bridge the boys could see the skaters moving about through
the twilight up near Loon Island. They had their supper on the
train–although it was really dinner–and did their level best to eat
some of everything on the menu. In this effort they were not quite
successful, but they managed to consume enough to interfere seriously
with their comfort. Luckily they had a full hour–and it really was a
full one–in which to recover before the train rolled into the Grand
Central Station, by which time they were able to take up their luggage
and traverse the platform without more than an occasional groan.

Mr. Pennimore had half promised to meet them, but when Gerald had
discovered the electric brougham, the driver, a very smart looking
youth in trim livery, reported that Mr. Pennimore had telephoned from
downtown that he wouldn’t be able to reach the station in time, but
would meet the boys at dinner.

“Dinner!” groaned Dan, casting a reproachful look at Gerald. “Why
didn’t you tell me we were to have dinner after we got here?”

“I thought it would be lots more fun to eat on the train,” replied
Gerald. “You can eat at home any time. Besides, we were hungry, Dan.”

“Well, that’s so. But I’m not hungry now, and I know I shan’t be able
to even look at the table.”

They sped softly across town, only the low buzz of the motor and the
occasional jangle of the bell penetrating to the interior of the
carriage. Overhead a light set behind ground glass cast a soft glow
over the rich upholstery. Dan looked and marveled. At his feet an
electric heater gave warmth, in front of him a little silver clock
ticked away the minutes. The seat, upholstered in dark blue leather,
was as comfortable as a bed, and Gerald was making the most of it. But
Dan was too excited to loll back in his corner. Instead, he sat on the
edge of the cushion and peered interestedly out of the window. The
brougham slowed down and turned into Fifth Avenue, then buzzed its way
uptown past a steady stream of southward bound vehicles, automobiles,
hansoms, broughams, taxicabs, electrics, with now and then a smart
delivery wagon. Dan turned in bewilderment.

“Where’s every one going?” he asked.

“Theater, I suppose,” answered Gerald listlessly. “It’s most eight
o’clock.”

“Oh,” said Dan. He had never seen so many carriages before in his life,
nor so many lights, nor so many persons. They were held up for a moment
at an intersecting street, and he watched admiringly the majestic
traffic policeman, and wondered where every one _could_ be going! Then
they went on again and the lights along the sidewalks grew fewer. Shops
gave way to residences, and soon, through the window on Gerald’s side,
he saw the Park. He heaved a sigh.

“Gee, this is a big old place, Gerald,” he said hopelessly.

“I hate it,” answered Gerald, arousing from his drowsiness. “I have
lots more fun at Sound View than I do in New York. I wish father would
live at Sound View all the year. He says he’s going to some day. Here
we are, Dan.”

The brougham rolled slowly up to the curb and stopped with a final peal
of its bell. The door of a white stone residence opened and a man in
livery came out and seized the bags and coats. Dan followed Gerald
into the house, stepped dazedly into a tiny room which turned out to be
an elevator, stepped out again and discovered Mr. Pennimore awaiting
them at the door of a big library, evening paper in hand. After that
events followed each other so quickly that it was all rather hazy to
Dan. There was a moment’s chat in front of a glowing fire, another
excursion in the elevator, a hurried preparation for dinner, followed
by a survey of Gerald’s bedroom and sitting room which adjoined the
apartment assigned to Dan, a descent to the first floor, and–well,
then Dan found himself eating again just as though he hadn’t already
had one hearty dinner that evening!

“What’s the matter, Gerald?” asked Mr. Pennimore presently,
interrupting himself anxiously. “Has coming home spoiled your appetite?”

“No, sir, but we had our dinner on the train.”

“On the train! Well, well, that’s unfortunate! Couldn’t wait, eh? But
do the best you can, boys. When I was your age I could always eat.
Parker, hand the vegetables to Mr. Vinton.”

When dinner was over it was much too late to go anywhere, Mr. Pennimore
decided. Gerald was disappointed, but Dan was secretly glad enough to
sit down in a big, sleepy chair in front of the library fire and just
let the comfort and hominess of the place soak in. Mr. Pennimore found
lots of questions to ask, and it kept the two boys busy answering them.

“You see, son,” said Mr. Pennimore, “your letters are very interesting,
but you’ve got an exasperating way of paying no attention to the
questions I ask in mine. Have you been homesick, Gerald?”

Gerald shot a glance at Dan, but that youth was studying the flames as
though he hadn’t heard the question.

“Some, sir,” answered Gerald, “once or twice.”

“Getting over it now, though, I presume? That’s right; just realize
that Yardley’s to be your home for the next few months and get settled
down. Have you made the acquaintance of any more of the boys?”

“I–I don’t know any of them very well yet, sir.”

“Of course not; all that takes time, I suspect. You spoke of two of the
boys in one of your letters. What were their names?”

“Loring and Dyer,” answered Gerald. “They’re–they’re Second Class
fellows, and so I don’t know them very well.”

“Oh, I gathered from what you wrote that you did.” Gerald looked
uneasily at Dan.

“Well, Loring’s going to give you boxing lessons,” he said. “You know
him well enough for that. Gerald has an idea that fellows don’t care
about him unless they come right out and say so,” Dan explained.

“Boxing lessons, you said?” inquired Mr. Pennimore. “Isn’t boxing
rather–er–strenuous for a boy of your age?” He looked anxiously from
Dan to Gerald.

“Oh, no, sir,” answered Dan promptly. “It isn’t hard at all. It’s one
of the regular exercises in the Second Class. Gerald just thought he’d
like to take it up now, and Alf Loring said he’d show him how. It’s
good exercise, sir.”

Gerald breathed easier. He had pledged Dan to secrecy in regard to his
trouble with Thompson, and Dan’s unthinking reference to boxing had
brought his heart into his mouth.

“Well,” said his father doubtfully, “be careful. Don’t try to learn
everything the first year, son.”

The next forenoon was given over to sight-seeing. Gerald acted as guide
and showed Dan as many of the points of interest as there was time for,
and Dan enjoyed himself hugely. They had luncheon with Mr. Pennimore at
his club. Afterwards he handed them tickets for one of the theaters and
sent them off in a hansom.

“I’m sorry I can’t go with you,” he said, “but I’ve got a great deal
to do this afternoon. We’ll have dinner early and see a show together
to-night.”

That was Dan’s first visit to a real theater, for out in Graystone,
Ohio, where he lived, the local playhouse, known as the Academy of
Music, was little more than a fair-sized hall, and the attractions
which visited it seldom met with the approval of Dan’s parents. To
Gerald, on the contrary, theaters and plays were an old story, and he
found half of his enjoyment in watching Dan and in displaying his own
knowledge and experience of things theatrical. After the final curtain
had fallen Dan didn’t say anything until the boys were out on the
street. Then he drew a long breath, sighed deeply, and exclaimed:

“Gee, that was great!”

“It wasn’t a bad show,” replied Gerald indifferently.

“Bad! It was simply elegant! I’ll bet if I lived in New York I’d be at
the theater every day! I’d like to see that play again to-night!”

But instead he saw another one and voted it even better, and would have
kept Gerald up the rest of the night talking about it if Gerald had
allowed it. Even as it was, it was long past mid-night when they fell
asleep. The next forenoon they went to church with Mr. Pennimore. The
church was a new source of wonderment to Dan. He had never imagined
that a church could be so beautiful as was that one, and if he missed
a great deal of the service, it was only because his eyes and thoughts
were busy with the great altar, the wonderful stained glass windows,
and all the architectural marvels and color before him.

Dinner was at two o’clock on Sunday, a long-drawn-out repast of many
courses. It wasn’t altogether a success to-day, for every one was
rather silent. The impending return to school brought no joy to the
boys, while Mr. Pennimore was saddened by the thought of having to part
with Gerald for several months. At a little before four the electric
brougham rolled up to the curb in front of the house, and good-byes
were said. Mr. Pennimore was to sail early Tuesday morning. Gerald
begged to be allowed to remain in town and see him off, but his father
wouldn’t allow it.

“No, no,” he said smilingly, “that wouldn’t do, son. Why, I might lose
my courage at the last moment and take you with me!”

“I wish you would,” said Gerald dismally, clinging tightly to his
father’s hand.

“What? And take you away from school? Oh, that wouldn’t do at all. No,
we’ll say good-bye now, Gerald. You write me regularly and send your
first letter to the address I gave you, so that I’ll find it when I
get to London. Good-bye, Dan. Take good care of yourself. We three
are going to have some good times this summer, and I want you well and
strong. And keep an eye on this boy here; don’t let him get into too
much mischief. And write me a letter yourself some day and put it in
with Gerald’s. Now, you’ll have to hurry if you’re going to catch that
train. Good-bye, Gerald. Be a good boy, and don’t forget to write to
me. Remember me to the Doctor when you see him. Good-bye, good-bye!”

Then they were rolling away to the station, Gerald rather tearful,
and Dan feeling a little bit blue himself, without being able to
find a good reason for it. But by the time New Haven was reached the
spirits of each had risen considerably, and they were able to take
some interest in the things which the waiter placed before them in the
dining car. Neither had eaten much dinner in New York, and so they
found that they had very fair appetites. It’s wonderful what food will
do in the way of cheering one up! When they tossed their bags into the
carriage at Wissining and climbed in after them they were as merry
as you please. A sprinkle of snow had fallen while they had been on
the train, and there was a jolly feeling of winter in the air. Ahead
of them, on the hill, the windows of the school buildings twinkled a
welcome to them.

“Getting back isn’t so bad, after all, is it?” asked Dan. And Gerald
agreed that it wasn’t.

They hurried to the Office to register their return, and then scampered
up the stairs of Clarke. And when Dan had lighted the drop-light on the
study table and the familiar objects in the room met their gaze, why,
it was quite like getting home!

The snow held off that winter until the last week in January. Then,
as though to make up for its neglect, it came down steadily for three
days together and covered the Prospect and the Yard two feet deep.
Of course, I don’t mean that the snow confined its attentions to
the vicinity of the school; the world was white as far as one could
see, save on the Sound; and there were days when you couldn’t catch
a glimpse of that for the scurrying flakes. But it was around the
school that the fellows were best able to judge of its depth. Of
course, Mr. McCarthy, the janitor, whose real name was Owen, and not
McCarthy at all, fought valiantly with his helpers to keep the paths
clear, but just as fast as they shoveled snow away, more fell. There
was little wind, and so there were no drifts, a lucky circumstance
for Mr. McCarthy. Skating for the time was spoiled, and just when the
hockey clubs were finding their ice-legs, to coin an expression. But
snow-battles took the place of ice sports, and there were some fine
contests in the Yard. The principal battle of that campaign was one
which took place at half-past four one afternoon, and lasted until
darkness imposed a truce. It started out in a very small way.

Gerald was crossing from the gymnasium to Clarke. Over in front of
Dudley a handful of older boys were good-naturedly pelting each other
with snowballs. Back of Whitson, Thompson, the youth with whom Gerald
had tried conclusions a fortnight ago, was vainly trying to throw a
snowball in at the window of one of the third-floor rooms, where a
friend of his laughed defiance from behind the curtain. Gerald had
reached the sun-dial in the center of the Yard before Thompson spied
him. Then:

“Oh, see who’s here,” shouted Thompson gleefully to his friend. “Watch
me soak him, Joe.”

The first missile passed harmlessly by Gerald’s head, but the second
was better aimed, and lodged uncomfortably against Gerald’s neck.
Gerald brushed it away and tramped on. He recognized his enemy, but so
far he had had but one lesson from Alf, and wasn’t yet ready for Mr.
Thompson. Unfortunately, every step toward Clarke brought him nearer
Thompson, and as Thompson was a rather good shot, progress became
instantly more difficult. He thought of dropping the bundle of books
which he carried and retaliating, but he knew himself for a poor shot,
and was sure that such an engagement would end in undignified rout on
his part. So he shielded his face as best he could and went on. It’s no
joke to get a well-made snowball, thrown from a distance of sixty feet,
against your head, and that’s what happened to Gerald more than once
after he had passed the corner of Dudley. He wanted to run, but was too
proud. Encouraged by the laughing applause of his friend at the window
above, Thompson advanced to meet his prey, a particularly well-moulded
snowball ready to throw.

But he didn’t throw it. For at that moment his cap went off, his
ear was filled with snow, and he staggered aside from the shock and
unexpectedness of the attack. It was a long shot, and a lucky one, and
I doubt if the small boy standing on the back porch of Merle could have
duplicated it in twenty tries. But it accomplished its purpose, for
it allowed Gerald to reach the safety of Clarke Hall. Thompson swung
around with a laugh of annoyance, and spied his new adversary.

“Hello, kid!” he shouted. “Want yours, do you? Well, you stay there and
you’ll get it.”

Harry Merrow stayed, not because he wanted to very much, but because,
like Gerald, he was too proud to run. It was an unequal conflict, for
Thompson, advancing steadily along the walk, scored three hits to the
younger boy’s one. The group in front of Dudley had paused and were
watching the fray, applauding Merrow loudly.

“Give it to him, kid! You’re all right! Now’s your chance! Take your
time!”

But the battle would have ended disastrously for Merrow had not
another Merle Hall boy, attracted by the shouts, put his head out of
an upstairs window and seen what was going on. Now, there’s a fine
spirit of _camaraderie_ among the Preparatory Class. For one thing, the
boys of that class all room together in Merle, and get to know each
other thoroughly. And in the present case _esprit de corps_ came to
the rescue of Merrow. The boy at the window disappeared quickly, and a
minute later the back of Merle was black with boys.

“Merle, this way! Merle, this way!” was the cry.

Thompson held out for a moment, and then, the target for dozens of
snowballs, retreated toward Whitson. But the fellows in front of Dudley
could remain neutral no longer.

“Rush the kids!” was the cry, and the battle was on. Five minutes later
almost every fellow in school was ranged on one side of the Yard or the
other. The new arrivals neither knew nor cared about the merits of the
controversy. They simply joined whichever army was nearest. Alf and Tom
and Dan, gathered in Number 7 Dudley, soon heard the noise of battle
and joined the fray, Tom in his shirt-sleeves.

“What’s it all about?” asked Alf of another boy.

“I don’t know. Merle started it, they say. They’ve been fighting like
little fiends, the kids have. Look out! Just missed you! Let’s rush ’em
again!”

There were plenty of rushes in which the opposing sides, or the more
valorous of them, met in the middle of the field of battle and fought
at close quarters. Out there there was little time to make snowballs.
One must simply scoop up snow and hurl it at his adversary, grapple
with him, perhaps, and roll him over and “wash his face,” or stuff
snow down his back and into his ears and mouth. It was hand-to-hand
out there, and many brave deeds were done and many gallant rescues
performed. One ate snow and breathed it and was blinded by it, and
wallowed in it, and picked himself out of it gasping and shouting.
Then, as though by mutual understanding, the opposing armies drew
apart, still hurling snow and shouting defiance, to view their
casualties and draw breath for a renewed attack.

Gerald, drawn from his room by the shouting and laughter, looked on
for a minute, and then dodged around the Yard and joined the forces in
front of Merle. The next moment he was rolling snowballs and firing
with the best of them, the ardor of battle taking possession of him.

“Hello, Pennimore!” cried a voice at his ear. “Isn’t it fun? They tried
to rush us three times, and we beat them back!”

It was Harry Merrow, his cap off, his sweater crusted with snow, his
cheeks flaming, and his eyes afire with excitement. Dan, had he been at
hand to see, would have had difficulty in recognizing in the person of
this young warrior the tearful, homesick lad he had met in the carriage.

“That was a dandy shot of yours,” said Gerald gratefully. “Did he hurt
you?”

“Who? Thompson? I guess not! I’m not afraid of him! There they go! Come
on!”

And Gerald was caught, willy nilly, in the forward surge of the little
army and swept out into the field. Then snowballs were flying thick and
fast, boys went down left and right, assailant and assailed rolling
over on the trampled field of battle. Twilight was coming fast, and
already it was difficult to tell friend from enemy. Gerald had lost
sight of Harry Merrow, and, for that matter, scarcely knew whether he
was attacking his comrades or his opponents. But he scooped up snow
and dashed it wherever he saw a face, dodged in and out of the mêlée,
and was having a lovely time, when something happened. His heels went
into the air, his head bumped into the snow, and then, struggle as he
might, he was being dragged feet-foremost toward the enemy’s line. He
disputed every inch of the way, his hands groping blindly for something
to hold to, and his face plowing up the snow. And then, just when he
was certain he would suffocate the next moment, he was released and
rolled over.

“You’re captured, kid,” laughed a familiar voice. “Will you fight on
our side?”

Gerald, sputtering and choking, looked up into the face of Dan.

“No, I’m on the other side,” he gasped heroically.

“Why, it’s Gerald!” cried Dan. He pulled him to his feet. “Did I hurt
you?”

“Not a bit,” said Gerald, rubbing his wet face against a wetter sleeve.
Hurt! Of course he wasn’t hurt; he never felt finer in his life! What
if his nose did seem to have been scraped to the bone? It was all
glorious!

“Well, you’re prisoner,” laughed Dan. “If you won’t fight with us you
must give your parole.”

“What’s that?” asked Gerald, as Dan, a hand on his arm, led him back
toward Dudley.

“Why, agree not to fight again,” Dan explained. “You stay over there on
the steps.”

“But I want to fight!” cried Gerald.

“All right, then, fight. Hello, Alf! Did you get any?”

“Yes, we got nine altogether.”

“Where are they?”

“Oh, here somewhere. They’re going to fight with us.”

“Is it right to do that?” asked Gerald anxiously.

“Of course! That’s the way we play the game here.”

“Then I’ll fight,” said Gerald.

“Hello!” cried Alf, coming up, “where’d you get Gerald?”

“Oh, I fished him out of the bunch,” laughed Dan. “I didn’t know who he
was until I’d dragged him half-way across the Yard. He’s going to join
our side.”

“That’s right,” said Alf. “We’ll get a lot more next time. They got
Tom, though.”

“Not really! Think of old Tom getting caught! Let’s rush ’em again
before it gets too dark.”

Then Alf and Dan and Gerald and almost a hundred others dashed forward
again with a yell, and from the other side of the Yard the enemy came
to meet them, and it was all a grand turmoil in the half darkness. Both
sides were out for prisoners now, and there was less throwing of snow
and more good, hard tussles. So far as Gerald could see, no one lost
his temper, or, if he did, he found it again the next moment.

“You’d better keep back,” panted Alf, “or some one will grab you,
Gerald.”

But Gerald didn’t care about that. In fact, he rather wanted to be
grabbed. He wanted to match his strength against some one, friend or
foe. And so he rushed into the thick of battle, fell, picked himself
up, was caught around the waist and wriggled free, seized a boy almost
twice his size in a vain endeavor to make a prisoner of him, and found
himself with his face in the snow and the battle raging fiercely above
him. He crawled out of there quickly, for it wasn’t pleasant to be
walked on, staggered to his feet and drew breath. The Merle side was
giving ground. Behind him at least a dozen prisoners were being hurried
away. But the combat still raged, and the shouting continued. Suddenly,
out from the enemy’s ranks darted a form and grappled with a boy who,
standing almost at Gerald’s side, had, like himself, paused to take
breath. Down they went together, there was a moment’s tussle, and then
the enemy, having cunningly seized his victim’s feet, started back
with him. Both sides were now drawing off, and for an instant Gerald
hesitated. Then, with a shrill cry of challenge, he darted forward and
threw himself against the captor. The next moment Gerald and the boy he
had rescued were running back toward Dudley. The captor, surprised by
the unexpected attack, didn’t think of pursuit until too late.

“Much obliged,” panted the rescued youth, as he and Gerald reached
safety.

“That’s all right,” said Gerald carelessly. But secretly he was
immensely proud of his exploit. At that moment they stepped into the
circle of light thrown by the lantern over the door of Dudley.

“Hello!” cried the other. “If it isn’t Pennimore! What do you think of
that? Why, you and I started this scrap!”

It was Thompson. Gerald viewed him doubtfully.

“You mean you did,” he answered rather stiffly. Thompson laughed and
clapped him on the back.

“That’s so, I guess I did. Well, say, Pennimore, I’m sorry I snowballed
you. But we’re quits now, aren’t we?”

And with another laugh and a nod Thompson turned away, leaving Gerald
at a loss and a little indignant. What’s the good, he asked himself, of
having a grudge against a fellow who makes apologies to you and claps
you on the back? It was perfectly absurd! He looked aggrievedly in the
direction taken by Thompson, and frowned. Then, thrusting his wet,
aching hands into his trousers pockets, he turned and walked moodily
toward Clarke. At the corner of the dormitory he looked back. Plainly,
the combat was over. A few desultory snowballs arched across the Yard,
and an occasional taunting cry or shout of defiance followed. But the
two armies were dwindling away fast. It was quite dark now, and the
battleground was illumined only by the streams of warm, yellow light
which came from the dormitory windows. Gerald climbed to his room,
feeling as though the zest had been suddenly taken out of life. Dan
found him there a few minutes later, when, wet and glowing, he threw
open the door.

“Why, what’s the matter with you, Gerald?” he asked in surprise. “You
look as though you were waiting to watch your funeral go by!” He walked
over and laid his hand on the younger boy’s shoulder. “Look here,” he
said anxiously, “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

“No,” answered Gerald dully.

“Then what’s–”

“It’s Thompson,” burst out Gerald.

“Thompson? Again? What’s he done now?” And Dan’s gaze examined Gerald’s
face anxiously for evidences of recent encounters.

“He hasn’t done anything,” muttered Gerald.

“Then what–”

So Gerald told his trouble, and Dan laughed until it hurt. And after a
while Gerald managed to smile, too.

“But I don’t see how that makes us quits, Dan,” he said seriously. “He
snowballed me all across the Yard, and then I ran in and rescued him
from some big chap who was making him prisoner. I don’t see that he’s
done anything to make it quits, do you?”

“No, I can’t say I do,” laughed Dan. “But it’s funny, just the same,
the cheek of it. Thompson must have a keen sense of humor, Gerald.”

“He had no business to hit me on the back and say we were quits,” said
Gerald stubbornly.

“Well, he did it; apologized, too. You can’t fight a chap for that,
Gerald, I guess.”

“No, I don’t suppose so.” Gerald was silent a moment. Then: “But I’m
going to keep on learning to box, Dan, just the same,” he declared.

“Well, there’s no harm in that,” replied Dan, getting out of his wet
clothes. “It’s a good thing to know, boxing.”

“Yes,” said Gerald hopefully, “because maybe he will do something else
some day, and then I’ll be ready for him!”

Gerald wasn’t getting on very well with his studies. With English and
Latin he was having little trouble, but French was a stumbling block,
while as to mathematics–well, Gerald and algebra weren’t friends.
And the worst of it was that Kilts, as Mr. McIntyre was called by the
students, had got it into his head that Gerald wasn’t really trying
to get along. This, at first, wasn’t true. But by the middle of
February it must be acknowledged that Gerald had taken such a dislike
to algebra, and Kilts, too, for that matter, that the latter had good
reason for his suspicion. Kilts was a severe disciplinarian, and had
small sympathy for boys who were not willing to work. He could forgive
dullness, was often patience itself with a student who tried to learn
and couldn’t, but he could make life very unpleasant for any member of
his classes who didn’t try. And by the middle of February affairs were
at an acute stage between Kilts and Gerald.

“Tell me, Mr. Pennimore,” he asked one morning with his best sarcasm,
“is there any subject I could substitute for algebra that would
interest you?” As Gerald made no reply–having learned by this time the
wisdom of declining McIntyre’s challenges to debate–but merely sat
with red cheeks, listening to the suppressed giggles of the fellows
around him, Kilts construed the boy’s silence to please himself.

“Ah, there is, then! Now, tell me what it is, sir, and I’ll bring the
matter up in Faculty Meeting, and perhaps we can make the change. Would
it be embroidery–or jack-straws–or puss-in-the-corner? Would it be
any of those, Mr. Pennimore?”

Gerald sat silent with burning cheeks.

“Come, come, Mr. Pennimore! Let us hear it, pray. Don’t be afraid to
speak up. What would it be, now?”

“Manners!” blurted Gerald, trembling with anger. Mr. McIntyre’s
little Scotch eyes blazed and the class sobered instantly. But the
instructor’s voice was surprisingly gentle as he replied:

“Ah, an excellent choice, sir, an excellent choice. I ken ye know your
own requirements, and I’ll see what we can do for ye. (Mr. McIntyre was
liable to fall back into Scotch brogue on occasions, occasions which
the boys who knew him well were prone to dread.) Ay, ay, manners are
what ye need, doubtless.”

Mr. McIntyre smiled gently and took up his book again. Some one
ventured to laugh nervously, but the look which he received killed
his mirth instantly. Proceedings were resumed, and for the rest of
the half-hour Kilts took no notice of Gerald. When class was over
Gerald hurried out of the room and over to Clarke with blazing eyes,
half beside himself with anger. Dan happened to be in the room, and
to him Gerald poured forth his tale. But if he expected sympathy or
indignation, he was doomed to disappointment. Dan heard the story
calmly.

“Well, I guess it’s you for the Office, Gerald,” he said with a frown.
“What made you be such an ass as to say that to Kilts? Don’t you know
he’s got a temper like a ginger-jar?”

Gerald stared in amazement.

“But–but see what he said to me!” he gasped. “Do you think I’m going
to sit quiet and take that, Dan? I guess not! What right had he to
insult me before the whole class? He–he’s nothing but a Scotch beggar,
anyway!”

“He’s one of the best mathematicians in the country,” replied Dan
quietly, “and no matter what else he is, he’s your teacher and you
ought to treat him politely. If he was impolite to you, that’s no
reason for you to answer back, Gerald.”

“Well, I did it!” cried Gerald hotly. “And I’ll do it again if he ever
says things like that to me.”

“Maybe you won’t have a chance,” replied Dan dryly. “You’d better wait
until you’ve seen Collins. You’ve got yourself into a nasty hole,
Gerald, and you might as well realize it. Fellows have been suspended
here for less than what you’ve done.”

“Let them suspend me, then,” said Gerald hotly. “I don’t care what they
do! I’m sick and tired of this place, anyway. Every one’s down on me,
the teachers and every one else! And you don’t care, either. You’re
just like Loring and Dyer and those fellows. I hope they send me home!
I’d rather be there than here!”

“And how about your father?” asked Dan gently. “Think he’d be pleased,
Gerald? Now, look here!” Dan laid a hand kindly on the boy’s shoulder.
“Don’t make any more of a mess of it, Gerald. You were wrong in
answering back, and you must see that. Why, it’s sort of as though you
were in the army, Gerald. Kilts is your superior officer, you see,
and it’s your place to take what he says and keep your mouth closed.
And you know as well as I do that you haven’t been pegging at algebra
lately the way you ought to. You’ve got it into your head that you
can’t do it, and now you don’t try. And Kilts sees that and doesn’t
like it. He’s got a sharp tongue, has Kilts, and I dare say he said
things he shouldn’t have said, but that’s not for you to bother about.
What you want to do is to knuckle down and see that he doesn’t have a
chance to get after you again. I’ll say one thing for Kilts, and that
is, if he sees a fellow is trying to get along he will help him all he
can. I’ve seen that myself, lots of times.”

“He’s a brute,” muttered Gerald rebelliously.

“No, he really isn’t. He’s awfully human, and he’s got a temper. Look
at the way he acted last Fall when Jones painted up the front of Dudley
that time! When Toby came along Kilts was out there with soap and water
trying to wash out the paint so the fellow who did it wouldn’t get
into trouble. He’s hard to get along with, but he’s pretty fair in the
long run. Now, you listen to what Collins has to say, and tell him you
were angry and excited and didn’t mean to insult Kilts. Then you take
your medicine and buckle down and make up your mind to show Kilts that
you are just as smart as any other fellow in your class. Maybe Collins
will let you down easily this time. But you don’t want to talk to him
the way you’ve talked to me, Gerald. That won’t do at all. Let him
understand that you’re sorry and–”

“I’m not sorry,” declared Gerald. “I’m glad.”

“Well, you’ll get over it, then,” said Dan, a trifle impatiently.
“Don’t try to ride the high-horse with Collins, or you’ll be down and
out in no time. I know you have had a rather tough time of it in some
ways since you came, but now, just when things are getting better,
don’t go and spoil it all. Why, you made the hockey team last week, and
you’ve met a lot of fellows who will be nice to you if you’ll let them.
Don’t spoil it all now and disappoint your father, Gerald.”

Gerald made no answer, and after waiting a moment, Dan took up his
books and moved toward the door.

“Well, I must be off,” he said. “See you after dinner, Gerald.”

Gerald nodded sullenly.

But after dinner Gerald was not to be found, and the two didn’t meet
again until just before supper. Dan had been skating on the river,
and was feeling fine until he entered Number 28 and caught sight of
Gerald’s glum face bending over a book.

“Hello,” he said, peeling off his sweater, “where were you at noon?”

“Office,” answered Gerald shortly.

“Who did you see? Collins? What did he say?” asked Dan anxiously.

“Oh, he said a lot,” replied Gerald disgustedly. “Lectured me for half
an hour, I guess.”

“Well? It’s all right, eh? He didn’t punish you?”

“Didn’t he?” asked Gerald bitterly. “He says I’ve got to stay in bounds
for two weeks, and I can’t play on the hockey team.” Dan gave a sigh of
relief.

“Well, that’s good. I was afraid he’d suspend you. But Collins is a
pretty good sort. You got off easy, all right.”

“Easy! I’m glad you think so. I suppose it doesn’t make much difference
to you, though,” said Gerald bitterly. “You’ll have your fun just the
same, you and Loring and Dyer! No one cares how badly I get–get stung!”

“That’s nonsense,” said Dan. “Of course I’m sorry he put you on
probation but it might have been lots worse, Gerald. I was afraid he’d
send you home for a couple of weeks, and that would have been the
dickens!”

“I wish he had sent me home!”

“Don’t be silly,” begged Dan. “Two weeks on probation isn’t much. It’ll
be gone before you know it. And there’ll be plenty of hockey left for
you.”

“Oh, it’s easy enough for you to talk! You haven’t lost your place on
the team!”

“Yes, I suppose that does queer you there,” mused Dan. “Still, you’ve
got three years yet, Gerald, and what does it matter if you don’t make
a dormitory team this year? Just you practice all you can and then,
maybe, next year you can get on the Varsity. And that’s more than I’ve
been able to do!”

“I don’t want to wait until next year,” answered Gerald irritably. “I
want to play now. And I don’t think it’s fair to say I can’t play just
because Kilts insulted me, and I answered back. And what’s more, I
won’t stand it!”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to,” replied Dan impatiently. “It’s no use
going to Toby; he always stands by Collins.”

“I don’t intend to go to Toby,” replied Gerald.

“That’s right,” said Dan cheerfully. “Buck up and take your medicine.
Have you written your father to-day?”

“No.”

“You’re going to, aren’t you?”

“I don’t know,” muttered Gerald.

“You’d better. You tell him just how it all happened, and I’ll write a
note, too, and you can put it in your letter. You see, Collins is sure
to write to him and report the matter, and he will think it’s much
worse than it is if you don’t explain. Now, come on and let’s eat.”

At dinner Dan promised Alf to go over to the latter’s room later in the
evening.

“I guess I’ll bring Gerald along, if you don’t mind,” he said. “He’s
feeling rather down in the mouth.”

“Of course, bring him along,” answered Alf.

But when the time came Gerald refused to go.

“I don’t care to go where I’m not wanted,” he declared, and all of
Dan’s persuasion failed to move him. In the end Dan went alone, feeling
rather guilty at leaving Gerald there in the dumps.

Events proved that Dan would have done better to have remained at home
that evening, for Gerald was in a bitter mood. He really believed that
he had been treated unjustly by the Faculty in the persons of Mr.
McIntyre and Mr. Collins, and was jealous of Alf and Tom. It seemed
to him to-night that nothing but trouble had fallen to his lot since
his advent at Yardley. The fellows had shown that he wasn’t wanted,
he had been insulted by Thompson and Mr. McIntyre, and, worst blow
of all, Dan was tired of him and spent more of his time at Number 7
Dudley than he did in his own room. Gerald gloomed for a while, and
then took paper and pen and tried to write his mid-week letter to his
father in England. But the sentences wouldn’t shape themselves, and he
soon gave up the effort. He tried to study, but could make nothing of
that, either. So he started to think things over again, and the more
he thought the worse everything appeared to him, until, at last, with
an exclamation of defiance, he strode to his closet and pulled down
his suit-case from the shelf. For the next ten minutes he was busy
packing such of his things as he could take from his chiffonier without
endangering his secret. His brushes and comb, and things of that sort,
he would have to leave until morning, but it wouldn’t take a moment to
drop them in. His preparations completed, he put the bag back on the
shelf and got ready for bed, cheerful and excited. When Dan returned,
just before ten, Gerald was in bed, and apparently fast asleep.