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ASA LEMM IS DISMISSED
While the examination of Jack and Walt was taking place in the office, the other Rovers and their chums held a meeting in Randy's room.
"What do you suppose this means--calling Jack and Walt down to the colonel's office?" remarked Fred anxiously. He had just been informed by Dan Soppinger about Walt.
"It was Jack and Walt who took those goats back. Maybe somebody spotted them," suggested Spouter.
The discussion lasted for some minutes and grew quite warm, and then Andy leaped up.
"I know what I'm going to do!" he said. "I'm going below and try to find out just what it means."
"And so am I," added Fred and Randy quickly.
"We'll all stand by him," announced Spouter. "Of course, you fellows brought the goats here, but I think we had as much to do with the rest of it as any of you."
Andy hurried off, and lost no time in making his way to the door of Colonel Colby's private office. The door had been left slightly ajar, so it was an easy matter for him to take in most of what was said.
"Gracious! this certainly is growing serious," he murmured to himself, when Asa Lemm made the declaration that he would go down to Haven Point and have Jack and Walt arrested. "I guess I had better let the others know about it," and he scurried upstairs again.
"Oh, Andy! do you suppose old Lemon will really have them locked up?" questioned Fred anxiously, after being told of what was taking place below.
"I don't think he would dare to do it," announced Spouter.
"I move we all go down and take a hand in this!" cried Gif. "There is no fairness in letting Jack and Walt suffer for what we did."
Several other cadets had drifted in, those who had either been on the watch while the joke was being prepared or who had assisted in placing the sheets of ice on the floor and in the bed, and all agreed that the crowd had better stand together when it came to acknowledging what had been done.
"Forward march!" cried Gif, who, as a leader in athletics, took it upon himself to manage the affair. "Come on now--and no shirking!"
Braced up by numbers, all of the cadets fell in readily with this plan, and as a consequence there were ten boys led by Gif and the Rovers who marched down to the office.
"We'll enter by column of twos," announced Gif. "March in in regular military fashion," he added, and then knocked upon the office door.
Colonel Colby was doing what he could to question Jack and Walt on one hand, while trying to make Asa Lemm keep quiet on the other, when the others arrived. The master of the Hall was having no easy time of it, because Professor Lemm seemed to be growing more and more excited.
"I'll have the law on them, I tell you!" he cried. "They ought to go to state's prison for this!"
"Please be quiet just a minute, Professor," remonstrated Colonel Colby. Then came the knock on the door, and the colonel flung it open, not at all pleased over the interruption.
"Wha--what does this mean?" gasped Asa Lemm, as he saw the double row of cadets filing in.
"Colonel Colby, we have come to report," announced Gif, saluting.
"Please allow me to be the spokesman, Gif," pleaded Randy, stepping to the front. And then, before his school chum could speak, he continued: "Colonel Colby, we have come to give ourselves up."
"Give yourselves up! What do you mean, Rover?"
"We were all in this lark together, sir."
"And if there is to be any punishment we want to stand for our share of it," added Andy.
"I think we Rover boys were more to blame than the others," put in Fred.
"You see, Professor Lemm is down on us, and we thought we had to do something to get square," Andy endeavored to explain.
"He doesn't treat us fairly in the classroom!" cried Spouter.
"If he wasn't here we'd get along without any trouble whatever," piped up a voice in the rear.
It must be confessed that the sudden entrance of the ten cadets, and what they had to say concerning the joke that had been played, somewhat stumped the master of the Hall. As for Asa Lemm, for the moment he was dumbfounded; but then his natural antipathy to boys asserted itself, and he glared at them viciously.
"So you were all in it, eh?" he snarled. "I might have known as much. You are all a pack of rowdies! You are not fit to associate with respectable people!"
"Professor Lemm, I do not wish you to address our cadets in such a manner," said Colonel Colby sternly. "These young gentlemen are not rowdies, even though they have played a joke which was not particularly nice. I do not uphold them in the least in what they have done, but, at the same time, I cannot help but remember that they are only boys, and that boys are sometimes very thoughtless."
"Thoughtless! They think too much! I tell you, sir, they are a pack of rowdies, and unless you punish them, and punish them severely, I shall take the matter in my own hands and have them arrested."
"If you do anything of that sort, Professor Lemm, we will have to dispense with your services in this school," announced Colonel Colby flatly. He was growing weary of the irate teacher's manner.
A strenuous half hour followed, everybody present forgetting all about roll call and breakfast. Colonel Colby did what he could in questioning all of the cadets regarding the occurrences of the night before, but was continually interrupted by the unreasonable teacher. Finally he could stand it no longer, and turned to the professor with all the dignity he could command.
"Professor Lemm, I have stood enough," he said in a cold, hard voice, which instantly commanded attention. "I want no more such language from you. You may go to your breakfast, and I will conduct this examination alone, and will see you about it before we begin the day's session in the school. And, in the meantime, allow me to impress upon you that it is all nonsense to talk about having any of these boys arrested. They have done nothing that warrants arrest, and if you attempt anything of that sort, you will not only make yourself ridiculous, but you might place yourself open to a suit for damages. Now, please leave this office."
"I'll see about this! I'll see about this!" snapped the unreasonable teacher, and left the office in anything but a dignified fashion.
As soon as Professor Lemm had gone, the master of the Hall questioned the boys closely concerning, not only the affair of the night before, but also about the troubles they had had with the teacher, both in the classroom and elsewhere. This was the first time the boys had had a chance to "get one in on old Lemon," as Andy afterwards declared, and they did not mince matters in telling of the many trials and tribulations which Asa Lemm had caused them. It is barely possible that some of the complaints were overdrawn, yet there was such a unanimity of opinion concerning Professor Lemm's harshness that Colonel Colby was quite impressed.
"Now I want to ask you boys a question, and I want you to answer it honestly," said Colonel Colby toward the close of the examination. "Would you have played such a trick as this upon any of the other professors?"
"I wouldn't," answered Randy quickly.
"Nor I," came from Fred and Andy.
"I'd never dream of playing such a trick on anybody but a man like Professor Lemm," announced Jack. The others also agreed that it was not likely any such joke would have been played on anybody else in the Hall.
"Then, evidently, none of you likes Professor Lemm," said Colonel Colby slowly.
To this there was no reply, but the look on the faces of the various cadets showed the master of the Hall that he had struck the truth.
"Now I'm going to ask you boys another question," he went on, after a pause, and there was a faint smile on his face when he spoke. "Don't you think you ought to be punished for what you have done?"
For a moment there was another silence. Then Jack spoke up.
"In one way, yes, sir; but in another, no," he replied. "Professor Lemm treated us very unjustly in the classroom in making us stay in and making us do extra lessons, and we didn't know of any other way to get square with him."
"Looks to me as if we got our punishment before we played the joke," said Andy, and this reply made some of the cadets grin.
Colonel Colby looked out of the window, which faced the snow-covered campus. Although the boys did not know it, he hardly knew what to say or do. He realized that he could not pass over the occurrence without punishing the lads, and yet he could see their point of view--that Asa Lemm had been the first at fault in not treating them fairly during classes.
"Order has got to be maintained in this school," he said finally, as he faced them. "If we did not have order, the whole institution would go to pieces. That is my first point. My second is that two Wrongs have never yet made a Right, and instead of taking matters into your own hands, as you did, after having trouble with Professor Lemm, you should have come to me and told me what was wrong.
"I shall take this matter up later, after I have had an opportunity to make further inquiries concerning your conduct. In the meantime, you may go to breakfast, and then to your classes;" and thus he dismissed them.
Of course, as soon as the boys were by themselves, they began to discuss the situation from every possible angle. Several wanted to know how it was that the master of the Hall had learned that Jack and Walt were guilty.
"Somebody sent Colonel Colby a note about us. I saw it on his desk," answered Jack.
"Yes, and Asa Lemm had another note just like it," added Walt. "Some sneak in this school must have watched us, and then sent the notes."
Much to the cadets' relief, they did not see Asa Lemm in the messroom. Nor did the language teacher show himself during the morning session.
"Perhaps he's having another talk with Colonel Colby," suggested Fred.
The youngest Rover was right. The unreasonable teacher was closeted with the master of the Hall for over an hour, and during that time much of what had been told by the cadets was threshed over. Asa Lemm was as unreasonable as ever, and finally Colonel Colby lost all patience with him.
"I am afraid, Professor Lemm, that you are not suited to be a teacher in this institution," he said. "Your actions here show that you are very irritable and unreasonable. After you left this office, I questioned all of those cadets closely, and all had practically the same story to tell; namely, that you had required more than was fair of them in your classes, and that, on the slightest pretext, you had punished them by making them stay in and do extra lessons. I went into many of the details, and I am convinced that in a good proportion of the cases the students were right and you were wrong. Now, I regret this very much, because I realize that----"
"Sir, I don't want to be talked to in this fashion!" cried Asa Lemm, bridling up. "I was not in the wrong at all. Those boys are regular imps! They don't know how to treat a teacher decently! I won't stand for their nonsense! I want them severely punished, or else----"
"Wait a moment, Professor Lemm," interrupted the colonel, rising and facing him sternly. "I said I was sorry, and I am; but I feel that you are not the man to teach in this institution, and consequently I must ask you for your resignation. I will pay you your salary up to the first of next month, and you can leave this school just as soon as you desire."
"Wha--what? This! to me?" ejaculated the professor in consternation.
"Yes, sir. You can draw your pay, and, if you wish, you can leave this morning."
"But--but--this is outrageous! I won't stand it! I was hired for the school year!"
"You were--on condition that your services were entirely satisfactory to me. They are not satisfactory, and consequently I am giving you this opportunity to resign."
"If I have to leave, I'll have those boys arrested!" stormed Asa Lemm.
"I don't think I'd be so foolish, if I were in your place, Professor. What they did was nothing but a foolish schoolboy joke, and they did that simply to get square with you for your unreasonable conduct toward them. I think the best you can do is to drop the matter. If you insist on dragging this affair before the public, perhaps the boys, and I, myself, will have something to say that you will not care to hear."
"We'll see--we'll see!" cried Asa Lemm, shaking his head and with his eyes blazing wrathfully. "We'll see about this!" and thus speaking, he stamped away.
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