There was more laughter and talk, and in the next room to the jolly party sat Tom, looking at his friend Bruce in wonder.
“Well?” asked Bruce questioningly, after a pause. “What do you think of my experiment, Tom?”
“Is this it?”
“It is. Are you ready now to go on with your plan of reading Sam out of the class, so to speak?”
Tom did not answer for a moment.
“Take time to think it over,” advised his friend. “You have heard Sam’s version of the affair. And it’s reasonable to suppose that many will believe him—as many perhaps as would believe you and your chums.”
“But he treated Jack and Bert miserably,” declared Tom, “he and Nick.”
“Of course he did,” admitted Bruce. “He isn’t denying that. But he makes a joke of it, and it will be hard to convince the Sophomore class that it wasn’t done in fun. That’s what you’re up against, Tom. I rather suspected it would be that way from the first, and that’s why I wanted you to hear for yourself just how Sam would tell his side of the story. He makes himself out in rather a better light than you and the others shine in, Tom. And you’ve got to consider that. I was waiting for a chance to let you hear him talk to some of his friends, but I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity so soon. Now, what are you going to do about it?”
Again Tom was silent, while from the next room there came the sound of jolly laughter, mingling with the clatter of the dishes and cutlery.
“Here’s to Sam Heller!” cried someone, toasting the bully.
“And Nick Johnson!” added another.
“The fellows who know how to play jokes!” put in a third voice, and the toast was drunk amid laughter.
“You see how it is,” went on Bruce. “There are a lot of Sophomores in with him—probably some of your own intimate acquaintances, if not friends. They’ll side with Sam, after this, no matter how much of a case you make out against him.”
“I suppose so,” admitted Tom ruefully. “Well, I guess I’ll have to let things go by default. There’s no use splitting the class in twain.”
“That’s the way I look at it,” said Bruce eagerly, “I’m glad you see it in that light, Tom. Save the class. But if you feel that you are entitled to revenge------”
“I sure do!” interrupted Tom.
“Then take it privately—some other time,” went on Bruce. “Football is coming on now, and you may play on the team—so may Sam. It wouldn’t do to have bad feeling------”
“I understand,” said Tom. “I’ll let the thing slide for the time being.”
“And Jack and Bert?” queried Bruce.
“I’ll get them to do the same thing. But there’ll be a day of reckoning for that bully all right!” and Tom clenched his fists.
“I don’t blame you a bit,” admitted Bruce. “Now go ahead with the meal. My experiment is over.”