The three boys were seated in Cub’s room at the Perry home, one of the largest and most interesting samples of domestic architecture in the City of Oswego, on the shore of Lake Ontario. Cub was a rich man’s son, but he was constitutionally, almost grotesquely, democratic. There was nothing that would make him angrier, to all appearance at least, than open reference in conversation to the wealth of his father. For such offense he was ever ready to “take off the head” of the offender. However, once in a while one of the bolder of his friends would beard the lion in his den more or less successfully. But it was necessary for such venturesome person to be ever in command of ready wit in order to emerge with a whole skin, figuratively speaking, and Bud and Tee-hee were the real leaders of this victorious few. That was the reason why they were chums of Cub.
The fact of the matter, to be perfectly frank, was that Cub was a good deal of an actor. Whether he was conscious of this fact we will not venture to say. He is the only one who knows, and we have never broached the subject to him. The average person on first making his acquaintance doubtless would set him down as a very domineering youth; some might even call him a bully, but they would change their minds eventually if the acquaintance continued. Perhaps the best way one could judge Cub, without being Cub himself, would be to characterize him as being fond of playing the bully just for fun. Indeed, it is quite probable that Cub carried a perpetual laugh in his sleeve.
This dominant youth was tall and lanky. He was only 17 years old, but as big as a man, so far as altitude and the size of his feet were concerned. He lacked one inch of being six feet tall, and he wore size 8 shoes. The hope for his proportion was expansion, and judging from the hereditary history of his paternal ancestry, there was good prospect for him in this regard. His father was a large man and well built.
To complete the description of Cub, he was a youth of very wise countenance. He liked to read “highbrow stuff” and reflect and inflict it on such victims as were unable to counter his domination.
Bud was a short, quick, snappy, bold fellow, “built on the ground”. It is possible that he might have upset Cub in a surprise wrestle, but nobody ever dared to “mix” with Cub in such manner; the lanky fellow seemed to be able to out-countenance any suggestion of physical hostility. The glower of his face seemed to spell subjection for all the boy world about him.
But Bud would blurt out something now and then that seemed to startle Cub into a mood of reflection, and whenever Cub reflected his dominance wavered. Tee-hee was able to accomplish the same effect without a “blurt”. Tee-hee was sly, “as sly as they make ’em”, but it was a kind of slyness that commands respect. It even gave an air of respectability to his laugh, for, ordinarily, a “tee-hee” sounds silly. But Hal’s “tee-hee” was constitutional with him, and his sly shrewdness gave it real dignity.