While they were playing a certain trick in Cedarville, Jack and Pepper fell in with a youth named Bert Field. He was a queer lad, but did the chums a good turn, and in return they promised to help him. He was trying to locate a certain old man who was defrauding him out of some property. The old man was discovered during a visit to a mysterious mill said to be haunted, and by the chums’ aid Bert Field got what was coming to him. It was thought best to send Bert to school, and he said he wanted to go to Putnam Hall.
“We’ll be glad to have him with us,” said Jack, and so it was settled.
Following the encampment had come the regular summer vacation, and the cadets had scattered far and wide, Jack and Pepper going for a cruise around the Great Lakes, and Andy and Dale going to Asbury Park and Atlantic City. Reff Ritter had started for a summer in the Adirondacks, but unexpected word from home, of which more will be said later, had caused him to give up the outing.
SOMETHING ABOUT A RUNAWAY
While Dale and Andy ran off to get the water, the other boys gathered around Jack. The young major still lay with his eyes closed, breathing faintly.
“He got a bad crack on the head,” remarked Fred Century.
“He certainly did,” whispered another cadet. “If he doesn’t come around what shall we do?”
“How did the team happen to run away?” questioned Amos Darrison.
“Some fellows from Pornell Academy threw things at us,” explained Pepper. “We’ll have an account to settle with ’em for this,” he added grimly.
“Wonder how poor Snuggers made out?”
“Here he comes now,” was the answer, and looking back toward the highway, the cadets saw the driver of the carryall approaching on a swift limp.
“Did ye stop ’em?” he gasped. “Oh, dear, what a bust-up! But it wasn’t my fault—you boys can prove that, can’t ye?”
“We can, Peleg,” answered Pepper. “Much hurt?”
“I got a nasty twist to my back when I tumbled. Say, what’s the matter with Major Ruddy?” And the general utility man forgot his own pains as he gazed at the motionless form of Jack.
The cadets told him, and in the midst of the explanation Dale and Andy came back with a bucket of water and a tin dipper. The major’s face was bathed, and a little water was put into his mouth, and with a gulp he opened his eyes and stared around him.