“I say, Simp,” continued Scotty, in the same cautious whisper, “don’t
you hear me? Come up here. We must get Gus out of this scrape, if there
is any way to do it.”
Simpson thought no more about the boat-race. Trembling for fear of the
exposure that was coming, and the investigation that would be sure to
follow close upon the heels of it, in which his name would bear a
prominent part, he darted into the building and hurried up the stairs to
his dormitory. At the door he met Scotty, whose usually stolid face was
all aglow with excitement and triumph. A brilliant thought had just
occurred to him.
“Simp,” he hurriedly exclaimed, “the only way to get Gus out of this
trouble is to destroy the evidence against him.”
“What evidence is there?” asked Simpson.
“Why the oar itself—the one Mr. Layton cut for him. You see,” added
Scotty, so eager to get through with what he had to say that he could
scarcely speak plainly, “about half an hour ago, as I was going through
the hall, who should come in but Bob Nellis and three or four of his
particular friends. Bob carried an oar in his hand, and I saw that it
was one of the new ones he had just received, and that the leather had
been removed. If I needed any other evidence to convince me that he knew
just what had been going on I should have had it in the look his face
wore and the words he uttered. I heard him say, as he went up the
stairs, ‘There’s not another boy in school who would have put up with
that Gus Layton’s meanness as long as I have, and I’m not going to do it
any longer. If anything about our boat breaks during the race to-day I
shall believe it is because he has tampered with it in spite of our
watchfulness, and I shall come back here and expose him in the presence
of the professors and of the students.'”
“Well?” said Simpson, when Scotty paused to take breath.
“Well, they went up to their dormitory, and presently I heard a door
slammed and locked. They have hidden the oar in their closet; and I
propose that, if we can get at it, we take it out and hide it somewhere
else. Then we’ll watch our chance and tell Gus of what we have done, and
suggest to him that if there is any row raised all he has to do is to
deny the whole business, for there is no evidence against him—eh?”
“But Gus can’t keep a secret, you know,” said Simpson, unconsciously
making use of almost the very words that one of Johnny’s friends had
addressed to himself, “and perhaps he has told some of the fellows that
his father cut the oar.”
“I know he has. He has told you and me and all the rest of his friends;
but we will not blow on him.”
“I—ah—that is—oh, no, of course not,” stammered Simpson, his heart
fairly coming up into his mouth when he reflected that he had already
committed the secret to half a score of boys who would not countenance
any such trickery as this which Gus and his father had been guilty of.
“See here, Simp,” said Scotty, looking suspiciously at his friend, “that
doesn’t come from the heart. Are you White?”
“Not much. I am so Blue it will rub off.”
“Then you had better do something to prove it. You must help me get that
oar. I have tried all my keys, but none of them will fit the lock.
Here’s something, however, that will open the way for us,” said Scotty,
producing from under his jacket a large chisel which he had abstracted
from the carpenter’s chest. “If you are Blue clear through, as you say
you are, take this and burst open the door.”
Simpson, eager to prove himself true to his colors, replied by seizing
the chisel and running out into the hall, Scotty following close at his
heels. A few rapid steps carried them up the stairs to Bob’s dormitory,
and a few more to the closet in which the telltale oar was hidden. Here
Simpson’s courage began to fail him, and he felt the strongest desire to
back out.
“What will the professors say, I wonder?” said he, making a feeble
attempt to force an entrance into the closet.
“We don’t care what they say. They’ll never find out who did it, for I
ain’t a-going to tell, I bet you. You will be more likely to tell
“You don’t give me credit for much sense, do you?” said Simpson.
“Well, you have done such things before now, haven’t you? That is no way
to get in there. Cut the casing around the bolt.”
The casing, which was a thin pine board, could not long resist their
efforts. A few blows with the chisel brought off a piece of it, and then
the lock was no longer an obstacle to them. As the door flew open Scotty
seized the oar and hurried away with it, while Simpson, anxious to
conceal his work as long as possible, lingered to shut the closet and
press the piece of casing he had cut off back into its place. As all the
students, and every one else belonging to the academy, were out watching
the race, the young scapegraces had the building to themselves and were
in no danger of being discovered. They ran quickly down the back stairs
and into the carpenter’s shop, where the oar was speedily hidden away
under a pile of boards.
“It will stay there until doomsday,” said Scotty, “for these boards are
seldom disturbed.”
“Yes,” said Simpson, “but I can propose something better for it. Some
night, as soon as it becomes dark, I’ll take it out and sink it in the
bay. Then I would like to see anybody find it.”
“That’s sensible, although these boards have never been disturbed since
I have been to this school. Now, the next thing is to run down to the
beach and whisper a word of warning in Gus Layton’s ear. Are you up to
“Yes, sir; of course I am.”
Scotty and his friend worked to such good advantage that they had plenty
of time to do all this, which we have been so long in describing, and to
run out on the bank in season to witness the conclusion of the race.
They left the shop by different doors, and when they came within sight
of the bay saw that the Zephyr had already turned the stakeboat and was
well on her way home, while the Mist was so far behind that it was quite
impossible for her to make up her lost ground. Bob and his men were
still pulling with all the power of which they were capable, saying by
their actions as plainly as they could have said it in words that in
defeating those who would have beaten them by fraud they were taking all
the revenge they desired. Presently Simpson found himself standing near
a group of students whom he knew to be Blues, but who, he was surprised
to see, had discarded their favorite colors. The subject of Gus Layton’s
underhanded dealings was being discussed by them in an animated manner.
Indeed it had somehow got abroad among the students, and was the only
topic of conversation.
“I declare it is a downright shame!” exclaimed Claxton, one of the
group, “and it is a great pity it was not known before the race began.
If I were Nellis I would make the school too hot for Gus Layton. He’s
got proof enough against him.”
“Ah! but has he, though?” cried Simpson. “Where is it?”
“The oar, my dear fellow—the oar that was cut by Gus Layton’s orders.
Have you seen anything of it?”
“But perhaps Bob doesn’t know where it is.”
“Why, he took it into the academy and locked it up.”
“I don’t suppose it could have been spirited out of that lock-up and
hidden somewhere else, could it?” said Simpson, with a look that spoke
volumes. “Always be sure of your evidence before you hang a man.”
The students were amazed. They looked at each other and at Simpson for a
few seconds without speaking, and then the one who had thus far acted as
spokesman said, coaxingly:
“Now, Simp, tell us all about it; there’s a good fellow. Somehow you
have a way of finding out everything that goes on within a mile of the
academy. What has become of the oar? Where is it hidden?”
“It is in the carpenter’s loft, concealed under a pile of boards,”
answered Simpson, speaking before he thought. “I declare,” he added,
mentally, and growing frightened at what he had done, “I have told it,
just as Scotty said I would. I say, fellows,” he continued, trying to
recover himself, “you don’t suppose I am green enough to tell every
thing I know, do you?”
The cheers, long and loud, which arose at this moment, as the Zephyr
flew by the tug on which the judges were standing, put a stop to the
effort Simpson was about to make to repair the damage he believed he had
done. He was borne with the crowd toward the beach, and joined with it
in so heartily applauding the victors that his friend Scotty, had he
been there, might have thought he had good reason for believing that he
was not as Blue as he professed. Slowly the defeated crew pulled down
the home-stretch, and the feeble attempt to cheer them as they passed
the judges’ stand did not serve as a balm to their wounded feelings. Gus
was so filled with rage and jealousy that he could scarcely see what was
going on around him. He sent his shell into the boat-house so swiftly
that, in spite of the efforts of the coxswain and the rest of the crew,
she received injuries which placed her far out of the lists forever, so
far as racing was concerned. Hastily dressing himself, he left the
boat-house without saying a word to any of his companions. He knew the
cause of his defeat. Bob had been warned by somebody, and instead of
using the new oars his uncle had sent him he had rowed the race with
others which had, on more than one occasion, proved perfectly
trustworthy. But who was the traitor? Gus had asked himself this
question more than a score of times during the race, and each time, as
if in response to the inquiry, the image of a red-headed, cringing
youth, with round shoulders and stooping gait, had risen before his
mental vision. Gus hurried off to find the original of the image, and
was not long about it, for the youth in question was impatient to find
him. Gus met him hurrying down the bank toward the boat-house, full of
news, which he was eager to communicate.

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“Simp,” said he, taking the red-headed youth by the lapel of his coat,
“a word in your private ear.”
He looked all around to make sure that there was no one within hearing,
and then fastened his eyes sternly upon the face of the boy before him.
“Simp,” said Gus, “did you ever read the fable of a man who found a
torpid adder, or some other kind of a serpent, and took it home with him
and warmed it, and after he had restored it to life the serpent turned
on him and bit him?”
“Oh, now, that doesn’t apply to me,” said Simpson, fairly shaking in his
“I have been good to you, haven’t I?”
“Yes, you have.”
“I took you in hand and made friends for you when none of the other
fellows would have anything to do with you, because of that tongue of
yours—didn’t I?”
“Yes, you did.”
“Simp, there’s a traitor about here somewhere, and I am looking for him.
If I can find him I’ll—I’ll—”
“Well, you can just look farther,” whined Simpson, growing more and more
alarmed, for he had never seen Gus so utterly overcome with rage as he
was at that moment. “You don’t see any traitor in me, I can tell you.”
“I took you into my confidence and told you that Bob’s oar would not
hang together while he was pulling two hundred yards, didn’t I? Now, did
you ever repeat that to anybody?”
“I never did,” declared Simpson, as if he were perfectly horrified at
the thought. “As sure as I live and breathe, I never whispered it to a
living soul!”
“Think again; it got out somehow.”
“I don’t care if it did; I didn’t let it out, as sure as you’re a foot
high. If the fellows say anything to you about it, deny it and stick to
it. Say that you are above all such meanness.”
“What good will that do? Bob has got the oar.”
“No, he hasn’t. I saw him take it up to his dormitory and lock it up,
and I went and got Scotty, and he and I stole it out and hid it where no
one will ever think of looking for it. I had to cut the door open to get
it, too. I wouldn’t have run so much risk if I had been a traitor to
you, would I? I say again, if they accuse you of trying to win by fraud,
deny it up hill and down. They can’t bring any evidence against you.”
Gus let go Simpson’s collar, and stepping back a pace or two looked at
him without speaking.

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