“That’s not where the fellow lives who sent us wrong,” asserted Jack, and the others agreed with him.
“Now to see where we are,” suggested Tom, as he vaulted another fence, and found himself in the big front yard of a farmhouse. There was a barking of dogs, and, as Tom’s chums followed his lead, a door opened, letting out a flood of light, and a rasping voice asked:
“Who’s there? What d’ye want this time of night?”
“We’re from Elmwood Hall,” replied Tom. “We were out on a cross-country run, and we lost our way. Can you direct us to the river road?”
“Which way did you come,” the rasping voice went on, and a man, with a small bunch of whiskers on his chin, stood in the lamp-illuminated doorway.
“Through the woods,” said Tom. “We got lost there.”
“And then we cut through a cornfield,” went on Jack.
“Through a cornfield!” cried the farmer in accents of anger. “D’ye mean t’ say you tromped through my field of corn?”
“I—I’m afraid we did,” answered Tom ruefully. “We couldn’t see in the dark, and it was the only way to come. I hope we didn’t do much damage.”
“Well, if ye did ye’ll pay for it!” snapped the man, as he came from the doorway. “I don’t allow nobody t’ tromp through my prize corn. I’ll have th’ law on ye fer this, that’s what I will! Knocked down my corn; did ye? Well, ye kin find th’ road the best way ye like now. I’ll never tell ye. And I want t’ see how much damage ye done. You wait till I git a lantern. Tromped through my corn! That’s jest like you good-fer-nothin’ school snips! I’ll fix ye fer this all right, or my name ain’t Jed Appleby!”
A HAY STACK FIRE
Cold, wet and altogether miserable, Tom and his chums stood in the farmer’s yard, waiting for they scarcely knew what. Their reception had been anything but cordial, and, considering that they were unaware that they had done any damage to the field of corn, it was almost unwarranted.
“Well, what do you know about this?” asked Bert, as he took off his cap and dashed the rain drops from it.
“I don’t know much,” replied Jack, dubiously as he turned the collar of his coat closer up around his neck.
“He’s a cheerful chap—not,” murmured George.
“He might at least treat us decently,” said Tom, and there was a note of defiance in his voice. “If we’ve damaged his corn I’m willing to pay for it, but he might at least direct us to the road.”
“That’s right,” chimed in Jack. “What’s he doing now?”
“Getting a lantern, from the looks of things,” replied Bert. The farmer had gone to the barn and in a few moments he returned carrying a light that swung to and fro, casting queer fantastic shadows on the rain-soaked ground.
“Now I’ll see what sort of damage ye done t’ my corn!” grumbled the man. “I don’t see what right a passel of youngsters have t’ tramp through a man’s field for, anyhow?”