“Do you concur in that, Captain Cartwright?” asked the K.O.
“By the way, Captain Prescott,” went on Colonel Cleaves, handing him a small piece of paper, “can you account for this?”
As Dick Prescott took the paper and glanced at it he felt himself turning almost dizzy in bewilderment.
AS IT IS DONE IN THE ARMY
“That is your handwriting, is it not, Captain Prescott?” demanded the regimental commander.
“It looks just like my handwriting, sir, but I’ll swear that I never wrote it,” declared astonished Dick, still staring at the little piece of paper.
“Yet it resembles your handwriting?”
“Yes, sir. If I didn’t know positively that I didn’t write any such message then I’d be about ready to admit that it is my handwriting. But I didn’t write it, sir.”
“Pass it to Captain Holmes. I will ask him if he has seen this note before.”
“No, sir,” declared Greg, very positively, though he, too, was startled, for it was hard to persuade himself that he was not looking down at his chum’s familiar handwriting.
The note read:
"Dear H. Stick to what we agreed upon, and we can cook C’s goose without trouble. P."
“May I speak, sir?” asked Dick.
“Then I desire to say, sir, that I have not the least desire to see Captain Cartwright in any trouble. Hence, it would have been impossible for me to think of writing such a note. More, sir, it would have been stupid of me to risk writing such a note, for Captain Holmes and I sat in my quarters until it was time for us to leave on our way to our respective company offices.”
“And while in your quarters did you discuss this affair of your trouble with Captain Cartwright?”
“To the best of my recollection, sir, we did not mention it,” Dick declared.
“Is that your recollection, Captain Holmes?”
“And this is not your handwriting, Captain Prescott?”
“I give you my word of honor, sir, that I did not write it, and did not even discuss the matter with Captain Holmes.”
“I do not understand this note in the least,” Colonel Cleaves went on. “Of course, Captain Prescott, I am bound to accept your assurance that you did not write this. I do not know how the note came here; all I know about it is that I found it on my desk, under a paper weight, about fifteen minutes ago, when I came in.”
“It is the work of some trouble-maker, sir,” Greg ventured.
“Do you know anything about this note, Captain Cartwright?”
“No, sir,” replied that officer, flushing at the intimation that he could have had anything to do with it, for Greg had passed the paper to him.
“I will keep that note, then,” said Colonel Cleaves, taking it, “in the hope that I may later find out how it came to be here. Captain Cartwright, do you deny that Captain Prescott did no more than to parry your blows and thrust you back off your balance?”