GUS took a few moments in which to think over this extraordinary
proposition. He was well aware that all the students had by this time
heard of the meanness of which he had been guilty—if there chanced to be
any who were ignorant of it they would not remain long so—and the idea
of facing them and saving himself from disgrace by a bold denial was
something that had never occurred to him. The audacity of the thing
pleased him.
“I declare, Simp,” said he, at length, “two heads are better than one,
if one is a red-head. I was afraid that the fellows would make things so
uncomfortable for me that I would have to leave school; but I have a
different opinion now. If Bob says anything about the oar I can say, you
know, that he wants to injure me, and ask him to produce his evidence.”
“That’s the very idea,” assented Simpson.
“Don’t lisp a word of what you have told me to anyone else,” said Gus.
“We mustn’t let it get out.”
“Ah! Trust me for that. Do you think I am a greenhorn?”
Gus, feeling as if a heavy weight had been removed from his shoulders,
walked off snapping his fingers, and Simpson stood congratulating
himself on his shrewdness—he never thought to give Scotty any credit for
it—when, happening to cast his eye toward the academy, he saw a sight
that filled him with great consternation.
A crowd of students were coming from the direction of the carpenter’s
shop, and the foremost of them, Claxton by name, who had acted as
spokesman of the group he had met a short time before, carried over his
shoulder the identical oar which had been stolen from the closet and so
carefully hidden in the lumber-pile. Simpson knew it the instant he put
his eyes on it. His under jaw dropped down, and for a moment or two he
stood staring at Claxton as if he could hardly make up his mind whether
he was awake or dreaming. Then it flashed upon him again that he had
done just what Scotty predicted he would do—revealed his complicity in
an affair which, should it reach the ears of the faculty, would cause
his expulsion from the academy.
“Simp,” said an angry voice close at his elbow.
The culprit turned and found Scotty at his side.
“Simp, look there!” said the latter, pointing toward the academy door
through which Claxton was just disappearing with the oar. “What did I
tell you? You’re not a greenhorn, are you?”
“Oh, now, Scotty, you just want to clear out,” exclaimed Simpson, who,
when taken to task either by the professors or the students, always fell
back on the line of defense he had suggested to Gus Layton. “I would
like to know why you fellows always pounce upon me when anything goes
wrong about the academy?”
“Simply because you know you are the guilty one, that’s why. What
induced you to tell Claxton where that oar was hidden?”
“I didn’t tell him. I haven’t spoken to him in a month,” declared
Simpson, earnestly.
“Then how did he find it out? I didn’t tell him.”
“I don’t know how he found it out. Perhaps he was watching us when we
hid the oar.”
“That’s highly probable,” replied Scotty, with a sneer. “Good-bye, Simp;
you’ll not do to tie to. I have at last satisfied myself of that fact. I
don’t know what Layton will do to you.”
Simpson didn’t know, either, and that was what troubled him just then
more than anything else. Believing it best to keep out of sight for a
while, he made his way out of the academy grounds without being
discovered and directed his course toward the village of Elmwood, which
lay about a mile distant. Having no other way of passing the time he
roamed about the streets until seven o’clock, and then with great
reluctance turned his face toward the academy. The buildings were closed
at half-past seven, and all the students who were not in their
dormitories at that hour were obliged to account for their absence to
the professors the next morning.
As Simpson was passing the wharf he saw the little steamer which plied
up and down the coast getting under way. The gangplank had been hauled
in, the lines cast off, and then, in obedience to some hurried orders,
the plank was once more shoved out again and the steamer made fast to
the wharf. At the same time a hack, driven at furious speed, came down
the road from the direction of the academy, and it was in response to
the shouts of the driver and the frantic signals of some one inside that
the steamer had delayed her departure. Simpson had a good view of the
passenger, who was leaning more than half-way out of the window
flourishing his hand-kerchief, and his heart gave a great bound when he
saw that it was Gus Layton. He watched him until he was safe on board
the vessel, saw the porters take charge of his baggage, and then hurried
out of the village with a much lighter heart than he had brought into
“Thank goodness he is gone and I am safe!” said Simpson, to himself. “I
do not know what the other fellows will do to me, but of one thing I am
satisfied—they’ll not beat me.”
Yes, Gus was gone, and that, too, with the determination of never coming
back. His departure had been hastened by something that transpired at
the academy shortly after his interview with Simpson. He saw Claxton
when he went into the building with the oar, and he noticed, too, that
while the Whites still wore their colors, there was not a Blue rosette
to be seen. Even Scotty’s impudence could not hold out in the face of
public opinion so generally and forcibly expressed, and he had thrown
aside his Blue rosette; and, furthermore, he seemed anxious to avoid
Gus, for when he saw him coming he slipped around the building and out
of sight.
“Rats desert a sinking ship,” said Gus, enraged at the conduct of his
man Friday. “I must be getting low down in the world when such fellows
as Scotty go back on me.”
As Gus entered the hall he saw Bob and his victorious crew surrounded by
a crowd of students, who were congratulating them on their success, and
among the most enthusiastic Gus was surprised to see three of his own
men, Sprague, Haight and Bright. They seemed to have eyes and ears for
no one but the members of the winning crew—there was not one of them who
took the least notice of him. Gus knew the meaning of this, and it was
more than he could stand. Hastily leaving the academy, he made the best
of his way to the boat-house. Pausing a moment to look at the Mist, once
his pride and delight, but which now lay in her dock shattered and
half-filled with water, Gus passed into a little anteroom, in which the
club held their meetings, and sat down to think over his troubles and
determine upon some course of action. Scarcely was he seated when the
door opened, admitting Sprague, Haight and Bright.
“Well, old fellow,” said Sprague, throwing his leg over the table beside
which Gus was sitting, “here’s a pretty kettle of fish. We’re beaten out
of sight, and come back to find all sorts of stories and resolutions
afloat. The boys have sent you to coventry.”
“I am aware of it,” said Gus, bitterly. “I saw it very plainly when I
was in the hall just now. I have some traitor to thank for this, and I
only wish that I could find him. I would give him a lesson he would not
soon forget.”
“Do you really wish to know who it was that put Bob on his guard?”
“Of course I do!” exclaimed Gus, starting up in his chair. “If you will
tell me who it was I will make him repent it in less than five minutes.
Who was it?”
“Well, sir,” said Sprague, folding his arms and looking Gus squarely in
the eye, “I am the fellow! I would do the same thing again, under like
Gus was so utterly confounded by this bold and unexpected declaration
that he could neither move nor speak. He sat staring blankly at Sprague,
hardly able to comprehend that he had heard aright. He showed no
inclination to carry out the threat he had just made, for Sprague was
two years older than himself, and, furthermore, he had been through some
tight places.
“Perhaps I ought to add a word by way of explanation,” continued
Sprague. “When you told us what your father had done by your request, we
three fellows, who are now here, got together and talked the matter
over. The only thing that kept us from withdrawing from your crew was
the fact that we wanted this matter of the championship decided, and in
order that it might be decided fairly we thought that some one had
better speak to Bob, and I was the one selected to do it. I mentioned no
names, but told him if he was wise he would carefully examine his shell
and everything belonging to her before he took her out of the
boat-house. I judge he did so, for he rowed the race with his old oars.”
“And then you fellows played off on me and let him beat!” said Gus,
“No, we did not. We pulled our level best. The Zephyrs beat us, and they
can beat any crew that can be raised in this academy. Somehow, the part
you and your father have played has become known, and there’s no one who
approves of it, unless it be some contemptible fellow like Simp or
Scotty, who has no honor about him. Things look squally, Gus, and I tell
you plainly that if you stop here you must make up your mind to swim in
the hottest kind of water.”
“But I’ll not stay here!” cried Gus, suddenly jumping to his feet. “I’ll
be on my way home in less than an hour!”

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Without saying another word to his companions Gus ran out of the
boat-house. He hunted up the janitor and sent him for a carriage, and
then, hurrying to his dormitory, began packing his wardrobe into his
trunk. The news that he was getting ready to leave the academy quickly
spread among the students, who, thinking it was a good time to show
their opinion of him, went quietly to work to get up a “benefit” for
him. Bob and Sprague and a few of the order-loving ones did all they
could to prevent it; but seeing that the students were not to be turned
from their purpose, they withdrew to their rooms, so that they might not
seem by their presence to countenance any such proceeding.
By the time the carriage arrived everything was arranged. When Gus
descended the stairs he found the students drawn up four deep on each
side of the hall, and so loud were the yells of derision, so deafening
the tooting of tin horns and banging of tin pans when he made his
appearance, that the horses attached to the hack took fright and Gus
came very near being left behind. He did manage, however, to spring upon
the steps just as the horses started off, and banging the door after
him, he sank down into the farthest corner and stopped his ears with his
“Bob is at the bottom of this,” said he to himself when the noise had
been left behind, “and if he don’t suffer for it it will be because I
can’t make him. School will be out in a week, and by the time he gets
home I will have everything fixed for him. The house his father once
owned belongs to _my_ father now, and Bob, while he stays there, shall
be reminded of the fact a thousand times a day. But he shall not stay
there long. I’ll get rid of him somehow. I’ll send him so far on the
other side of the world that he’ll never find his way back again.”
This was a plan that Gus had been revolving in his mind for months—ever
since the death of Bob’s father. He believed that when he had once seen
the last of him his troubles would all be over. His cousin had never in
his life injured him by word or deed. There was not a single act of his
to which Gus could point that was in any way detrimental to him; and yet
he hated him—hated him because he was so popular everywhere, especially
at the academy; because it came as natural and easy to him as it does to
an Indian to hate a white man. The starting-point of this hatred was a
fierce quarrel which his father had with Mr. Nellis in the years gone
by. It originated over some money which Mr. Nellis, who was at that time
a sailor, had placed in the hands of his brother-in-law for
safe-keeping. The money disappeared, and not only Mr. Nellis, but
everyone else who knew anything of the circumstances, believed that Mr.
Layton had appropriated it to his own use.
In process of time Mr. Nellis left the sea and became a prosperous
merchant in Clifton, his native village. When he retired from active
business he made his brother-in-law his agent, and gave him full control
of his affairs. He thought that the breach between them had been closed
forever; but no one else thought so—not even Bob, who, boy as he was,
believed that Mr. Layton was only awaiting a favorable opportunity to
take a terrible revenge on his father. The sequel proved that he was
right in this opinion, and that Mr. Layton had been secretly plotting
for years to ruin his generous brother-in-law.
Gus, knowing how matters stood—for his father often conferred with
him—took up the cudgel against Bob, as he believed himself in honor
bound to do, and made his life as unpleasant for him as he could. Now he
had a wider field for his operations. Mr. Nellis was out of the way, the
property was all in his father’s hands, and if Mr. Layton chose to say
the word Bob had not where to lay his head. Gus was resolved that his
father should say that word, if he could by any means induce him to do
so, and if not, he would say it himself, and back it up with actions so
effectual that nobody should ever hear of Bob Nellis again. Gus thought
of it all the way home, and by the time the spires of Clifton came in
sight he had decided upon a plan of operations which promised to do the
business for Bob in fine style.