Jack came in and was told to sit down in the chair Ritter had just vacated. Then Captain Putnam asked him to tell his story, and he related everything just as it had occurred.
“Are you quite sure that you have told the plain truth, Major Ruddy?” asked Captain Putnam, after he had finished.
“Yes, sir,” answered Jack, and looked the head of the school fairly and squarely in the face.
“Your story does not agree with that told by Ritter.”
“I believe Ritter,” broke in Josiah Crabtree. “It was an outrage to drag in the boy’s father simply because he has made some—er—unfortunate speculations. If I were you, Captain Putnam——”
“Wait a moment, Mr. Crabtree,” interrupted the owner of the Hall. “I am conducting this investigation. Now that we have heard the stories of the principals we’ll hear what the witnesses have to say.”
“Fred Century was there, and he is in the library now,” said Jack. “Pepper Ditmore was there, too, but Mr. Crabtree sent him to his room.”
“I will question Century and Ditmore, and also Coulter and Paxton,” answered Captain Putnam. “You may retire to Classroom Three, Major Ruddy, until called.”
Jack bowed and withdrew and walked to the classroom named. It was empty and he threw himself down on a seat and gave himself up to his reflections.
Fred was next called, and he was followed by Pepper. Both told practically the story related by Jack. In the meantime George Strong, the second assistant teacher, was sent off to summon Coulter and Paxton. He was gone the best part of a quarter of an hour, and when he came back his face was a study.
“Captain Putnam, I have just made a discovery,” he said. “I would like to speak to you alone.”
“Alone?” queried the head of the school, somewhat astonished.
“Yes, sir, alone.”
“Very well, then, come into the next room,” answered Captain Putnam.
PEPPER MAKES A DISCOVERY
“You do not—er—wish me present?” came rather awkwardly from Josiah Crabtree.
“Oh, that won’t matter, Mr. Crabtree,” answered George Strong. “I did not desire any of the cadets present, that was all.”
“I do not care to intrude——” commenced the dictatorial teacher.
“As you please,” answered Mr. Strong, with a shrug of his shoulders.
At first Josiah Crabtree was inclined to stand on his dignity and walk off, but his curiosity got the better of him and he followed Captain Putnam and George Strong into another office.
“I went after Coulter and Paxton, as you directed me,” said the second assistant teacher, when they were alone, and the door had been closed. “At first I could not find them, but at last I located Paxton and then Coulter. Where do you suppose they were?”
“I have no idea,” answered Captain Putnam.