A SCENE IN THE DINING CAR
"You don't mean it!" gasped Jack. "The lemon of a professor we were just talking about?"
"Then I'm afraid Andy has gotten himself into trouble right at the start."
"It wasn't his fault. It was the lurching of the train did it," put in Fred.
"Just the same, I'd hate to be in your cousin's shoes," was Fatty Hendry's comment.
In the meanwhile the waiter, by a lightning-like move, had managed to save the broiled steak from slipping to the floor of the dining car. He now had it on the platter, but the French-fried potatoes were scattered in all directions.
"What do you mean, I say?" repeated Professor Asa Lemm in a loud, harsh voice.
"Scuse it, boss," answered the waiter humbly. "'Twas the swingin' o' de car what done it. Besides, one o' dem passengers knocked agin my arm."
"I think it was that boy's fault quite as much as the waiter's," came from the man who was accompanying Professor Lemm.
"I couldn't help it," answered Andy. "The car gave such a sudden lurch that I was almost thrown off my feet."
"We'll fix this all up, sir," broke in the head waiter, coming to the front. "Take that steak back to the kitchen and bring some more potatoes," he added to the waiter. "I am glad to say it hasn't mussed you up very much;" and he handed the professor a fingerbowl full of water and an extra napkin.
A number of passengers had witnessed the accident and were smiling broadly. Spouter and Fatty Hendry were also on a broad grin, but their faces took on a sudden sober look when they found Asa Lemm's gaze directed toward them.
"Ha! so you are here," was the teacher's comment. "What business have you to laugh?"
"Excuse me, Professor Lemm, I--I--didn't--er--mean anything," stammered Spouter.
"Sorry it happened, very sorry," puffed Fatty.
"Is this young man traveling with you?" demanded Asa Lemm, suddenly, as he looked from Spouter and Fatty to Andy.
"Y--yes--sir," answered the son of Songbird Powell.
"Hum! Is he bound for the Hall?"
"Indeed? Then perhaps I'll see all of you later," muttered Asa Lemm; and after that did what he could with the aid of some water and a napkin to remove the traces of the accident from his person. In this he was aided by the head waiter, who was profuse in his apologies over what had occurred.
"I'm afraid you've got yourself into a pickle, Andy," whispered his twin, when the latter had taken his seat at the table.
"I don't care. I didn't mean to do it. It was an accident. Besides that, I think the waiter was as much to blame as I was."
"You'll never make old Lemon believe that," returned Spouter.
"Spouter's right about that," puffed out Fatty. "Once Asa Lemm gets down on a boy--good night!"
"I wonder who the man with him is?" questioned Spouter.
"Maybe it's a new teacher," vouchsafed Jack.
"I don't think so," returned Randy. "I heard both of them talking about some lawsuit and about money matters. Maybe the other fellow is a lawyer."
"I guess you're right," said Spouter. "As I told you before, old Lemon used to be worth a lot of money. Since he lost it he has been having one lawsuit after another trying to get some of it back. Most likely the other fellow is his lawyer." And in this surmise Spouter was correct.
The accident had sobered all the boys, consequently the lunch was not near so lively as it might otherwise have been. Still the irrepressible Randy could not hold back altogether, and he got what little sport he could out of it by putting some red pepper on Fatty's last mouthful of pie. He used a liberal dose, and the pie had scarcely disappeared within the stout youth's mouth when the boy began to splutter.
"Ug--ug--ugh!" came from Fatty as he made a wry face. "What pie! That last mouthful was like fire--full of pepper!"
"I thought the pie was rather hot," answered Randy, coolly.
"Hot! It's nothing but pep all the way through!" roared the fat boy. "Wow! let me have some water!" and he gulped this down so hastily that he almost strangled, the tears running down his cheeks. The other boys set up a laugh.
The boys had had some celery served with their lunch and several stalks which were not particularly good still remained in the dish on the table. When the boys were ready to leave, Professor Asa Lemm and his companion were still at their table discussing the particulars of a coming lawsuit.
"I'll give 'em something to remember us by anyhow," whispered Andy to the chums when the party had arisen to leave the dining car; and before any of the others could stop him he took up the stalks of celery and on passing Asa Lemm dropped them in the professor's side pocket, leaving the tops dangling outside.
"Gee! but you're some funny boy," chuckled Fatty, gazing at Andy in admiration. "I wish I could think of things like that to do."
"You'll think of 'em some day--when you get thin," returned Andy, encouragingly. "You see, I wanted to give him a bouquet to remember me by;" and at this remark there was a general snicker. Two or three of the passengers in the car had noticed Andy's action and all were smiling broadly over the incident.
"If he ever finds out who did that, he'll be down on you worse than ever," declared Jack, when the boys were once more in the chair car.
"Oh, well, what's the difference?" returned the light-hearted Andy. "I'd just as lief be shot for a mule as for a hoptoad."
"I suppose he's going on to the Hall," remarked Spouter. "If he is, I hope he doesn't get into the auto-stage with us."
"If he gets in the auto-stage, we might hire a jitney," suggested Fatty. "There are six of us, and we could get one of the jitneys to take us over to the Hall, baggage and all, for half a dollar."
A little later the train made a stop of several minutes at quite a large city. The boys were tired of sitting still and were glad enough to go out on the platform to stretch their legs. Here they saw Professor Lemm and his friend leave the train and walk up the main street of the place.
"Hurrah! we won't be bothered with him any more on this trip," declared Spouter.
"Look!" cried Randy, suddenly, pointing to the two men; and as the boys gazed in that direction they were just in time to see Asa Lemm pull the stalks of celery from his pocket and throw them in the street. His whole manner showed that he was much disgusted.
"And to think he has thrown away your beautiful bouquet, Andy," lamented Fred.
"Never mind, Fred; we have to get used to keen disappointments in this life," groaned Andy.
"Won't he be coming back?" questioned Fatty.
"I don't think so--he won't have time," answered Jack; "here comes the conductor now."
"All aboard!" shouted the conductor at that moment, and the boys had to hurry in order not to be left behind. Then the train pulled out of the station and the journey was continued.
"We certainly ought to have some dandy times," said Jack to Spouter, as the train sped along. "I suppose your father has told you of all the good times our folks had when they went to Putnam Hall and Brill College."
"Yes, Jack. That is, he has told me about a good many things. Of course I don't suppose he told me about some of the tricks they played."
"Well, I've heard from father and from my Uncle Sam that my Uncle Tom was playing tricks almost continually."
"Then Andy and Randy come by their fun-making naturally."
"They sure do! And what do you suppose the folks at home expect me to do?" went on Jack, seriously. "They expect me to hold those twins in. Why! a fellow could no more do that than hold in a pair of wild horses. You've seen a little of what Andy can do. Well, his jokes aren't a patch to those Randy occasionally gets off."
"You don't say! Well, I'm not sorry. The last term at Colby Hall was rather slow. Now maybe we'll have some life;" and Spouter's face lightened.
While the boys had been at lunch the sky had darkened, and now the train rushed into a sudden heavy shower, the rain driving against the windows of the car in sheets.
"I don't like this much," said Fred, dolefully. "Maybe we'll get out at Haven Point in a regular downpour."
"Oh, this looks more like a local shower than anything else," answered Jack. "We may run out of it in a few minutes."
"Some rain, all right," remarked Randy, as the water continued to dash against the windows.
"Just look there!" cried Andy, pointing out. "Before it began to rain I noticed the automobiles on yonder road kicking up quite a dust. Now just look at the water and mud."
"We'll be at Haven Point in twenty minutes--that is, if the train is on time," announced Spouter, consulting his watch. "Too bad! Because I wanted you to see the beautiful scenery with which the school is surrounded. Oh! the woods are perfectly beautiful, and after a heavy rain the torrent of water coming down the river makes the outlook one of marvelous beauty. I have stood there contemplating the scene----"
"Turn it off, Spouter! turn it off!" broke in Fatty. "You promised me on your bare knees that you would stop spouting about nature this term--and here you start in the first thing!"
"Oh, you haven't any more eye for beauty than a cow," retorted Spouter, ruefully.
"Why abuse the cow?" questioned Andy, gaily. "A cow has an eye for beauty. Just you hold out a beautiful red apple to her and see if she hasn't;" and at this the others grinned.
Haven Point was still five miles away when the boys saw that the rain was letting up; but the ditches along the track, and the highways wherever they passed them, were filled with running water, showing that the downpour in that vicinity had been a severe one.
"Next station Haven Point!" called out one of the trainmen as he came through the car.
"Better get your bags ready," cried Spouter. "There may be other fellows going to the Hall, and we want to get good seats on the auto-stage if we can."
"All right. You lead on, Spouter," answered Jack; "we'll follow you."
In a few minutes more Haven Point was reached and the long train rolled into the little station. One after another the boys alighted, the porter helping them with their suitcases and gladly accepting the tips they offered.
Spouter headed for a large auto-stage drawn up on the opposite side of an open plot behind the station. As the Rovers and their friends started for the turnout belonging to Colby Hall, they noticed that several other boys had also left another coach of the train and were headed in the same direction.
"New fellows, like ourselves, I suppose," remarked Fred. "Let's get ahead of 'em."
"That's the talk!" exclaimed Randy. "Come on!" and he set off on a run beside Spouter with the others at their heels.
The rain had been falling heavily at Haven Point just previous to the arrival of the train, and consequently the open place behind the depot contained numerous hollows of water and mud, around which the boys had to make their way as best they could. They were rushing along as fast as their handbaggage would permit, when they came up side by side with three other lads also bound for the stage.
"Look out there!" cried Jack as one of the strangers leaped into a puddle of water, splashing the mud right and left.
"Look out yourself!" cried the other youth, a big lad, much larger than any of the others.
"That's Slugger Brown--the bully I was telling you about," explained Spouter as he continued to run.
Directly behind Slugger Brown came another youth, loudly dressed in a checkered suit and a soft checkered hat to match. He was rather fastidious as to where he stepped, and with his eyes on the ground ran directly into Fred.
"Hi! look where you are going!" cried the youngest of the Rover boys, and then, to keep himself from slipping down, made a clutch at Randy's arm. This brought Randy around, and both he and Fred bumped into the elegantly attired youth.
"Stop that!" cried the stranger, and then, seeing a puddle directly in front of him, attempted to leap over it. But his foot slipped in the mud and down he went flat on his back with a loud splash.
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