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SOMETHING ABOUT TWO GOATS
The four Rover boys were almost up to Mike O'Toole's place when suddenly Jack caught Andy by the shoulder.
"Wait a minute!" he exclaimed.
"What's wrong now?" demanded the fun-loving youth.
"I've just been thinking, Andy. If we take those goats into the Hall and get into any kind of trouble, Professor Lemm will find it an easy matter to learn who got the goats from O'Toole."
"That's right, too!" broke in Fred, in dismay.
"Maybe we can get the goats on the sly," suggested Randy.
"I think that would be the better way to do it," answered Jack. "We can leave a note behind, stating that the goats will be returned, and we can also pay O'Toole something for using his animals."
The boys talked the matter over for several minutes, and then it was decided that Andy and Randy should go ahead and reconnoitre. This they did, and were gone for about ten minutes.
"The coast is clear so far as we can see," announced Randy. "Mike O'Toole and his wife are both in the kitchen of the farmhouse preparing supper.
"And where are the goats?" questioned Fred quickly.
"He keeps them in a little shed off of his barn. Come on, I'll show you," returned Randy.
The other cadets followed him, and they soon reached the place he had mentioned. Here O'Toole kept six goats, and they were found finishing up some food he had evidently given them a short while before.
Two of the billy goats were quite large, one possessing a very fine pair of horns. This one, the boys knew, was called Patrick. The other large goat went by the name of Dan.
"Here is the harness," said Andy, bringing it from some pegs on which it was hanging. "We'll have to do the best we can about hitching 'em up."
While the others were doing this, Jack tore a page from a notebook he carried, and on this, in a large, disguised hand, he wrote the following:
"DEAR MR O'TOOLE:
"We have taken the privilege of using two of your goats until to-morrow. They will be safely returned to you."
"I think we ought to pay him for the use of the animals," said Jack. "A little money will make him feel a great deal better."
"Let's pin two dollars to the note," suggested Fred, and this was done by Jack and the note placed where the Irish farmer would be sure to find it when he came again to tend to his animals.
It was an easy matter for the four boys to get the goats out of the shed, and then they led them to a spot behind some trees where the animals were hitched to the bobsled. Soon they started on the way to Colby Hall.
"Now that we've got possession of the goats, how do you fellows expect to work this stunt?" demanded Fred, as they brought the two goats down to a walk.
"I'll tell you one thing," declared Jack. "If you want to play this trick without the whole school knowing it, you had better reach Colby Hall by the lane that comes up behind the barn."
"Just what I was thinking of doing," answered Andy. "I thought maybe we could stable them in that little toolhouse in the cornfield until we had a chance to get 'em into the Hall."
"That's the talk!" cried Randy. "Of course, we'll have to watch our chance, and not make a mess of it."
The two billy goats had often been harnessed together, so they got along quite amiably on the trip to the Military Academy. They were strong animals, and consequently the boys reached the field behind the barn in ample time to unhitch the goats and place them in the toolhouse that had been mentioned. Then they hurried around to the garage, where they were allowed to store their bobsled, and after that lost no time in getting ready for the evening parade and drill.
Directly after supper was over, the Rovers took Spouter, Gif and Fatty Hendry aside and told them of what was in the wind.
"Oh, say! that's great!" cried Fatty. "Let me have a hand in it, won't you?" He had had a quarrel with Asa Lemm a few days before, and was as sore as any of the other cadets.
"You ought to let us all have a hand in that, Andy," put in Spouter. "I believe every one of us feels the same way when it comes to old Lemon. He may have a vast amount of learning stored in his cranium, but his font of the milk of human kindness is completely dried up. Were he to realize, or have the least conception----"
"Cut it, Spouter!" interposed Gif. "We agree with you--Asa Lemm is the lemon of all lemons, and I for one would like to teach him some kind of lesson."
The matter was talked over for some time, and, as a result, a number of other cadets, including Walt Baxter, Ned Lowe and Dan Soppinger, were let into the secret.
"Some of you will have to keep tab on Lemm while others see if the coast is clear during the time we are trying to get the goats upstairs," announced Randy.
"I don't think we'll have an easy time getting two animals to old Lemon's room," remarked Fred. "However, we'll get 'em up there somehow!"
Dan Soppinger was detailed to locate and watch Asa Lemm, and he soon came back and reported that the professor was sitting in a corner of the school library, making notes from several volumes.
"Well, you watch him, Dan," said Jack, "and if he starts to come upstairs, you let us know at once;" and to this Soppinger agreed.
After the supper hour, the cadets had their usual studying to do, and then came another hour for recreation previous to retiring.
"Now is our time," said Andy, as he threw aside his books and leaped to his feet. "Come on! Everybody on the job!"
The lads had already figured out how they expected to get the goats up to Asa Lemm's room. In the extreme rear of the school building was located an outside fire-escape leading from the third and second floors to the ground. At each floor there was a large doorway with a bolt on the inside. In order to induce the goats to mount the steps of the fire-escape, the boys had provided themselves with some vegetables purloined from the kitchen storeroom. Leaving the others to watch on the fire-escape and in the upper hallway of the school, the Rovers went out to the toolhouse and released the two goats.
"Now then, Patrick and Dan, be good!" said Randy, patting the animals on the neck. And then he handed each of them a small carrot.
With more vegetables displayed close in front of them, the two billy goats mounted the fire-escape quite nimbly, being rewarded with something more to eat when they stood on the landing in front of the door leading into the upper hallway.
"Now if they only don't take it into their heads to let out a loud 'ba' when they get into the hall!" said Fred anxiously.
"We'll feed them something," returned Jack. "That will be sure to keep them quiet," and he passed over some bits of celery he had in his pocket.
A cautious rap on the iron door, and it was unbolted by Walt Baxter, who had been assigned to that duty.
"How about it--is the coast clear?" whispered Andy anxiously.
"I think so; but wait a minute and I'll make sure," whispered Walt in return.
Soon he came back with word from Fatty and Ned that the rear hall of the school was practically deserted. Ned had already tried several keys in the door to Asa Lemm's apartment, and unlocked it.
It was by sheer good luck that the boys managed unobserved to get the two goats into the school through two hallways and at last into the room of the hated professor.
On one side of the professor's bedroom there was a large clothing closet, and in this the two goats were placed.
"Now we'll take off their harness," said Jack. "There is no use in getting that snarled up or damaged."
"I'm going to fix up some new harness for them," announced Randy. "Come on, Andy."
His twin understood, and while the others remained on guard in the hallway, Randy and Andy lost no time in decorating the two goats with various articles of Professor Lemm's wearing apparel. They buttoned a coat around each goat like a blanket, and got a bright green sweater over one goat's head and around his neck. Then they found a number of used neckties in a chiffonier, and these were tied on the goat's legs and horns.
"They sure do look like some goats now!" cried Andy gaily. Then the animals were shoved back into the closet and the door closed.
"Is the coast still clear?" asked Randy, as they came out of the bedroom.
"It is. But I don't think Lemm will stay downstairs much longer," answered Jack.
"Will you fellows come down again? I've got another idea!" burst out Randy. "Come on--quick!"
Not knowing what was in the wind, the others followed him through the hallway and down the fire-escape once more. Then he led them to a place behind the garage. Here were a number of flat boxes, which, in the springtime, had been used for raising plants. These boxes had had a small amount of water in them, and were now filled with thin sheets of ice.
"Let's take a few of those sheets of ice upstairs," said Randy. "They'll fit in very nicely between the sheets on old Lemon's bed."
All of the others caught at the suggestion with avidity, and in a very few minutes each of the boys was mounting the fire-escape once again, this time with a large sheet of ice, not unlike a heavy pane of glass, under his arm.
"I've got a scheme," suggested Andy, with a broad grin. "We'll place three of the sheets of ice in his bed under the sheet, and the others on the floor here right in front of the door. Then he'll have a chance to slide into the room."
"Wow! and maybe it won't be some slide!" chuckled Walt Baxter.
The sheets of ice were soon placed in the bed and covered with some of the bedspreads, and the others were disposed on the hardwood floor directly in front of the door inside the room. Then the cadets turned out the lights, locked the door as before, and hurried away.
It was less than five minutes later when Dan Soppinger came rushing upstairs, whistling in a peculiar manner. This was a signal that danger was at hand.
"He just put the books away, and he's gathering up his papers," announced Dan. "I think he'll be upstairs in a few minutes more."
"All right, Dan, we're ready for him," announced Randy. "Now then, fellows, if there isn't some fun when Asa Lemm enters his room, then I miss my guess."
The joke that was to come off seemed to be too good to keep, and as a consequence, after a hurried consultation, about a dozen other cadets were let into the secret. All watched eagerly for the coming of Professor Lemm, and there was a low whistle of warning went from room to room when the hated teacher was seen to be mounting the stairs.
As was quite usual with him, Asa Lemm was not in good humor. He had been hunting up a number of references in the library without his usual success.
"This job of teaching is getting worse and worse," he grumbled to himself. "It's too bad that I've got to waste my time on these boys. If I could only get back some of that money I lost, I wouldn't spend another hour over this tiresome task," and he heaved a deep sigh. The loss of his little fortune was the one great sore spot with him.
He came swinging through the hall with long, rapid strides, and as he did so the Rovers and their friends watched him from various doorways and side halls. They saw him unlock his door and throw it open. The next instant came a sudden yell of alarm, and then a tremendous bump. Asa Lemm's feet had struck the sheets of ice on the floor, and they had gone out from under him very suddenly, letting him down flat on his back.
"Hi! hi! what's the meaning of this?" spluttered the teacher; and then, as his hand struck the icy coldness of what was beneath him, he gave another cry. "Ice! What does this mean? Can the water pipes have burst and flooded the room?"
Not without difficulty he managed to regain his feet, and then started to walk to where he could turn on the lights. But again he slipped, and this time he came up against a small table piled high with books and sent this over with a crash.
"Gee! he's sure enjoying himself!" chuckled Andy.
"Come on, fellows, let's see what all the noise is about!" exclaimed Jack in a loud voice. "Something dreadful must be going on in Professor Lemm's room."
"What's the matter--is somebody getting killed?" called out Randy.
"It isn't a fire, is it?" broke in Walt Baxter, catching the cue.
"Sounds to me as if somebody was pulling the school down," was Spouter's contribution.
"Everybody to the rescue!" yelled Ned Lowe.
These cries, combined with the noise which was coming from Asa Lemm's apartment, caused such a commotion that soon fully a score of other cadets showed themselves in the hallway.
"What's the matter?" questioned Slugger Brown, who had just been on the point of retiring, and who was in his pajamas and slippers.
"Something going on in Professor Lemm's room," answered Nappy Martell, who had been with him, and who was similarly attired.
By this time Professor Lemm had managed to regain his feet a second time, but the broken sheets of ice were now all over the floor of his room, and just as he managed to turn on the lights he slipped once more, this time sending a chair spinning against the closet door.
"It's ice--it's ice, and nothing else!" he ejaculated, as he gazed in wonder at the floor. "Now, how did that come here? I don't see any broken water pipe." Then, of a sudden, his face took on a dark look. "It's those boys--confound them! If I can catch them, I'll make them suffer for this!"
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