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Putnam Hall was a fine building of brick and stone, standing in the center of a beautiful parade ground of nearly ten acres. In front of the parade ground was the wagon road, and beyond was a gentle slope leading down to the lake. To the left of the building was a playground hedged in by cedars, at one comer of which stood a two-story frame building used as a gymnasium. To the right was a woods, while in the rear were a storehouse, a stable, and several other outbuildings, backed up by some farm lands, cultivated for the sole benefit of the institution, so that the pupils were served in season with the freshest of fruits and vegetables.
The Hall was built in the form of the letter F, the upright line forming the front of the building and the other lines representing wings in the rear. There were three entrances -- one for the teachers and senior class in the center, one for the middle classes on the right, and another for the youngest pupils on the left. There were, of course, several doors in the rear in addition.
The entire ground floor of the Hall was given over to class and drill rooms. The second floor was occupied by Captain Putnam and his staff of assistants and the pupils as living and sleeping apartments, while the top floor was used by the servants, although there were also several dormitories there, used by young boys, who came under the care of Mrs. Green, the housekeeper.
Captain Victor Putnam was a bachelor. A West Point graduate, he had seen gallant service in the West, where he had aided the daring General Custer during many an Indian uprising. A fall from a horse, during a campaign in the Black Hills, had laid him on a long bed of sickness, and had later on caused him to retire from the army and go back to his old profession of school teaching. He might have had a position at West Point as an instructor, but he had preferred to run his own military academy.
"Hurrah, here we are at last!" cried Fred Garrison, as the carryall swept into view of the Hall. "I see twenty or thirty of the students, and all togged out in soldier clothes!"
"I suppose we'll be wearing suits soon,", answered Tom. "By George! I'm going to give them a salute."
(For the doings of the Putnam Hall students previous to the arrival at that institution of the Rover boys see "The Putnam Hall Series," the first volume of which is entitled, "The Putnam Hall Cadets." - Publishers)
"How?" asked Sam.
"Never mind. Just wait and see."
In a minute more they swept up to the gateway leading to the parade ground. Some of the pupils had seen the carriage coming, and they ran down to learn if any old friends had arrived.
"Hullo!" yelled several.
"Hullo yourself!" came in return, and then Tom drew out the firecracker still in his pocket and lit it on the sly. Just as it was about to explode he threw it up into the air.
Bang! The report was loud and clear, and everybody within hearing rushed to the spot to see what it meant. There were forty or fifty pupils and two assistant teachers, but Captain Putnam had gone out.
"Hi! Hi! What does this mean?" came in a high-pitched voice, and Josiah Crabtree, the first assistant, rushed up to the carryall. "What was that exploded?"
"A big firecracker, sir," answered Peleg Snuggers.
"And who exploded it?"
Before the utility man could answer there came a cry from the parade ground: "Don't peach, Peleg, don't peach!"
"Silence, boys!" burst from Josiah Crabtree wrathfully. "Such a disturbance is against the rules of this institution."
"We didn't fire the cracker," piped up a tall, slim boy. "It came from the carriage."
"Mumps, you're nothing but a sneak and tattle-tale," was the reply to this, from several older cadets; and, afraid of having his ears boxed on the sly, John Fenwick, nicknamed Mumps by everybody in the Hall, ran off.
"Which of you fired the cracker?" demanded Josiah Crabtree, advancing to the carriage step.
There was no reply, and he turned to the, driver.
"Snuggers, what have you to say?"
"I can't say anything, sir. I was taking care of the horses, sir," answered the hired man meekly.
"I will find out who fired the cracker before I have finished with you," growled the head assistant. "Get down and march into the Hall."
"Gracious, what have we struck now?" whispered Fred to Dick.
"Is this Captain Putnam?" asked Dick, without answering his chum.
"No, young man; I am Josiah Crabtree, A. M., Captain Putnam's first assistant. And you are --" He paused.
"I am Dick Rover, sir. These are my brothers, Tom and Sam."
"And I am Fred Garrison," finished that youth.
"Very good. I hope, Richard, that you were not guilty of firing that cracker?"
"Was there any great harm in giving a... a salute upon our arrival?"
"Such a thing is against the rules of the institution. Article 29 says, 'No pupil shall use any firearms or explosive at any time excepting upon special permission'."
"We are not pupils yet, Mr. Crabtree."
"That argument will not pass, sir. So you fired the cracker? Very well. Mr. Strong!"
The second assistant came up. He was a man of not over twenty- five, and his face was mild and pleasant.
"What is it, Mr. Crabtree."
"You will take charge of the other new pupils, while I take charge of the one who has broken our rules on his very arrival."
"Hold on!" cried Tom. "What are you going to do with my brother?"
"That is... none of your business, Master Rover. You will go with Mr. Strong."
"He didn't fire the cracker. "I did that! And I'm not ashamed of it. I wasn't a pupil when I did it, and I'm not a pupil now, so I can't see how you can punish me for breaking one of your rules."
At this there came a titter from the cadets gathered around. Hardly any of them liked Josiah Crabtree, who was dictatorial beyond all reason. The head assistant flushed up.
"You are a pupil here, and I will show you that you cannot break our rules with impunity, and be impudent to me in the bargain!" cried Crabtree. "Come with me!" And he caught Tom by the arm, while Dick and the others were led off in another direction.
"Surely, this is a fine beginning," thought Tom as he walked along. He was half inclined to break away, but concluded to await developments.
"Are you going to take me to Captain Putnam?" he questioned.
"We do not permit cadets placed under arrest to ask questions."
"Great smoke! Am I under arrest?"
"Perhaps you'll want to hang me next."
"Silence! Or I shall be tempted to sentence you to a caning."
"You'll never cane me, sir."
"Silence! You have evidently been a wayward boy at home. If so it will be best for you to remember that all that is now at an end, and you must behave yourself and obey orders."
"Can't a fellow breathe without permission?"
"How about if I want a drink of water?"
"Silence, I say!" stormed Josiah Crabtree. "I'll warrant you'll not feel so smart by the time you are ready to leave Putnam Hall."
There was a silence after this, as the head assistant led the way into the building and conducted Tom to a small room looking out toward the rear.
"You will remain here, Rover, until Captain Putnam returns."
"How long will that be?"
"Didn't I tell you not to ask questions?"
"But Captain Putnam may not return for a day or a month," went on Tom innocently.
"Captain Putnam will be back in an hour or two." Without another word, Josiah Crabtree turned and left the room, locking the door behind him.
"Well, by crickety!" came from the boy when he was left alone. "I've put my foot into it from the very start. I wonder what Captain Putnam will say to this? If he's half as sour minded as old Crabtree, I'll catch it. But I haven't done anything wrong, and they shan't cane me -- and that's flat!" and he shook his curly head decidedly.
The room was less than ten feet square and plainly furnished with two chairs and a small couch. In one comer was a washstand containing a basin and a pitcher of water.
"This looks a good deal like a cell," he mused as he gazed around. Suddenly his eyes caught some writing on the wall in lead pencil. He stepped over to read it.
"Josiah Crabtree put me here, And I am feeling very queer; He boxed my ears and pulled my hair Oh, when I'm free won't I get square!"
"Somebody else has been here before me," thought Tom. "I rather reckon I'll get square too. Hullo, here's another Whittier or Longfellow:
"In this lock-up I'm confined; If I stay long I'll lose my mind. Two days and nights I've paced the floor, As many others have before."
"I hope I don't stay two days and nights," said Tom half aloud. Then he walked to the single window of the apartment to find that it was heavily barred.
"No escaping that way," he went on to read another inscription, this time in blank verse:
"And I And I am jugged, Alone in solitude, and by myself Alone. I sit and think, and think, And think again. Old Crabtree, Base villain that he is, hath put me here! And why? Ah, thereby hangs a tale, Horatio! His teeth, the teeth that chew the best of steak Set on our table -- those I found and hid; And Mumps, the sneak, hath told on me! Alas! When will my martyrdom end?"
"Good for the chap who hid the teeth!" continued Tom, and smiled as he thought of the rage Crabtree must have been in when he discovered that his false teeth were gone. A rattle in the keyhole disturbed him, and he dropped onto a chair just as the head assistant again appeared.
"I want the keys to your trunk and your satchel," he said.
"What for, sir?"
"Didn't I tell you before not to ask questions?"
"But my keys are my own private property, and so is what is in the trunk and the satchel."
"All pupils' baggage is examined, Rover, to see that nothing improper is introduced into the Hall."
"Want to see if I've got any more firecrackers?"
"We do not allow dime novels, or, eatables, or other things that might harm our pupils."
"Eating never harmed me, sir."
"Sometimes parents load up their boys with delicacies which are decidedly harmful. Come, the keys."
Josiah Crabtree's tones were so harsh that Tom's heart rebelled on the moment.
"I shan't give them to you, Mr. Crabtree. You have no right to place me here. I wish to see the proprietor, Captain Putnam, at once."
"Do you - er -- refuse to recognize my authority over you?" cried Josiah Crabtree passionately.
"I do, sir. When I have met Captain Putnam and been enrolled as a cadet it may be different. But at present I am not a cadet and not under your authority."
"We'll see, boy, we'll see!" came hotly from the head assistant. "Before I am done with you, you will be sorry that you have defied me!"
And with these words he went out, slamming the door after him. Tom had made an enemy at the very start of his career as a cadet.
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