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    Chapter 4

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    Chapter 5
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    A FRUITLESS SEARCH

    "Hello, Pepper!"

    "How are you, Fred?"

    "My, here's the old bunch back again!"

    "Well, Henry, did you have a good time during the summer?"

    "How about that trip out West, Bob? Did you kill any bears or Indians?"

    "Getting high-toned, hiring a carriage to bring you."

    So the cries rang out, as the three-seated carriage driven by Amos Darrison rolled up to the front of Putnam Hall. A crowd of cadets had rushed forward to greet the newcomers.

    "Where is Andy Snow?" asked Pepper, as he leaped to the ground.

    "He went past on horseback like a streak!" cried Bob Grenwood. "Some of the fellows just went off to tell Captain Putnam about it. What did it mean?"

    "Tell you later, Bob. Just now somebody had better go after Andy. That horse was running away with him."

    A hubbub arose, in the midst of which Captain Putnam, the owner of the school, appeared. He was a fine-looking gentleman, with a face that was at once kindly and firm.

    "What is this I hear about Andrew Snow?" he said anxiously. "A horse ran away with him?"

    In as few words as possible Pepper and some of the others related the particulars of what had happened to the carryall. Just as they were finishing, Peleg Snuggers came up on the other horse.

    "This is very unfortunate!" murmured Captain Putnam. "We'll have to follow poor Snow at once. Mr. Darrison, will you drive me?"

    "Why--er--yes, but it will take time, Captain Putnam, an' my wife wants me to----"

    "I'll pay you for your time, sir," interrupted the owner of the school quickly.

    "Yes, sir? all right, sir. Jump in an' we'll go right after the runaway."

    "Can I go along?" asked Pepper.

    "I'd like to go, too," came from Stuffer Singleton.

    "So would I," added Bob Grenwood.

    "Very well, you three cadets can go along," replied the captain. "It is possible you may be needed--if poor Snow has been hurt." He turned to Jack. "How do you feel, Major Ruddy?"

    "Oh, I guess I'll be all right after I have rested up," answered Jack, with a faint smile.

    "You have a cut on the forehead."

    "Yes, sir, but it doesn't hurt like it did."

    "Better bathe it with warm water and put something on it," said Captain Putnam, and then leaped into the carriage, and Pepper, Stuffer and Bob followed.

    "Hope they find Andy all right," said Joe Nelson, as the turnout moved off in the direction the runaway had taken.

    "Yes, it would be too bad if Andy was seriously injured," answered the young major. "Come on, I'm going in and wash up and put some witch hazel on my forehead."

    "Glad to see you, young gentlemen," said a pleasant voice, when the newcomers entered the school building, and George Strong, the second assistant teacher, stepped forward to shake each by the hand. "I hope you all had a nice time this summer." And then he asked about the broken-down carryall and looked at Jack's wound.

    Although he did not say so to his chums, Jack was glad enough to get upstairs to his dormitory and rest. The room was a large one and was occupied not only by the young major but also by Pepper, Andy and several others. While some of the boys busied themselves in arranging their things, Jack rested in an easy chair near the window.

    "Quite a few new fellows here this term," said Fred, who was present. "I understand that all of the new dormitories that were built in the wing this summer will be filled up."

    "That shows the school is growing popular," answered the young major.

    "Jack, aren't you afraid somebody will try to get your position away from you?" went on Fred.

    "What do you mean, Fred? Try to be elected major?"

    "Yes."

    "Well, some of the fellows deserve the position. Bart Connors, the captain of Company B, would make a fine major, and so would Henry Lee, the captain of Company A. And Sergeant Dave Kearney is a good fellow who deserves promotion."

    "Then you don't care so much for the position?"

    "Oh, yes, I do care. But I realize that it isn't fair to be major all the time. I'm willing to step down and give the other fellows a show."

    "But not a fellow like Reff Ritter, or that Dan Baxter you told me about."

    "No, I couldn't stand for those chaps."

    "Reff is as sore as he can be over what happened last term."

    "I know it."

    "Dale says he knows something about Reff."

    "I do," came from Dale Blackmore, who had entered a moment before. "Do you know, in one way I am sorry for Ritter," he added.

    "What is it you know?" asked Fred.

    "I don't suppose I ought to speak about it, but it is bound to get out sooner or later. It seems Mr. Ritter, Reff's father, was a rich stock broker and promoter of various mining companies. Well, this summer he got himself tangled up in some mining companies that were trying to make money too fast. As a consequence he lost the most of his wealth, and some folks who had bought mining stock from him came close to having him arrested for fraud. It was that state of affairs that made Reff give up his trip to the Adirondacks and go home. I got it from some close friends that the Ritters were almost cleaned out, and that Mr. Ritter wanted Reff to give up school and go to work. But Mrs. Ritter was too proud and insisted that Reff be returned to Putnam Hall. So he is back."

    "Well, that certainly is hard luck," returned Fred. "I wonder if Coulter and Paxton will stick to him, now he is poor? My notion of it was, Coulter stuck to him mainly for what he could get out of it, he not having much spending money of his own."

    "Well, I shan't throw it up to Reff that he is poor," said Jack, quickly. "All he has got to do is to behave himself and I'll treat him as well as anybody." And then the young major left the dormitory, to bathe his head in the bathroom, and wash up generally.

    In the meantime those in the carriage had driven along the country road until they came upon the unconscious form of Andy. All leaped out and gathered around while Captain Putnam made an examination.

    "He has had a bad fall," said the master of the school. "But I doubt if any bones are broken."

    They raised the sufferer up, and presently Andy stirred and opened his eyes.

    "Whoa!" he murmured. "Whoa!"

    "He must think he is still on horseback!" cried Pepper, and but for Andy's pale face he would have laughed outright.

    "Snow, are you hurt much?" asked Captain Putnam, kindly. "The horse is gone. You are safe."

    "Oh!" gasped poor Andy, and then he stared around in bewilderment. "I--I was hung up in the--the tree, wasn't I?"

    "If you were, you must have dropped down," answered Bob Grenwood.

    "Yes. I remember now. I got caught by the throat and then I dropped--and that's all I know. Where is the horse?"

    "Went on, I guess," answered Stuffer Singleton. "He was streaking it like an Indian when you passed the Hall."

    "Shall we help you to get up?" asked Captain Putnam.

    "I--I suppose so," faltered Andy. "Oh, dear, but I'm weak!" he added, as he tried to rise.

    "Let us carry him to the carriage," suggested Pepper, and this was done, and he was made as comfortable on the cushions as possible.

    "I wonder did anybody catch the horse?" asked the acrobatic youth, as the turnout was on its way to Putnam Hall.

    "I don't know. I'll find out after you have been taken care of," answered Captain Putnam. "You cadets are certainly arriving this term in an unusual manner," he added grimly.

    "You can lay the whole trouble at the door of some Pornell students," returned Pepper. "They pelted us with soft apples and other things and that started the team to running away. If it hadn't been for them we would have come to the school in the carryall all safe and sound."

    "I shall investigate," answered Captain Putnam, briefly.

    "Hello!" cried Pepper, a moment later. He was gazing at Andy's clothing. "Weren't you wearing a watch and a stickpin?"

    "Of course," replied the sufferer. He put up his hands and felt around. "Both gone, I declare!"

    "Did they jounce off when you were riding?" asked Stuffer.

    "They must have! Oh, this is the worst yet!"

    "Did you lose anything else?" questioned the young quartermaster.

    "I don't know." Andy felt in his pockets. "Yes, my money is gone--eight dollars in bills!"

    "Where did you have the bills?" asked Captain Putnam.

    "In this vest-pocket. It must have jounced out during the hard riding. Oh, what luck! Captain, I'll have to go back and look for my property."

    "You are in no condition, Snow, to do that."

    "I'll go back," said Pepper. "Stuffer and Bob, will you go along?"

    "Sure thing!" cried Stuffer.

    "And if we can't find your things where you fell we'll look along the road all the way back to the Hall," added the young quartermaster.

    "Thank you," answered Andy, and then, feeling a curious fainting spell coming over him, he laid back on the cushions and closed his eyes.

    The three cadets sprang from the carriage and made their way back to the spot where Andy had been found. They made a thorough search, but, of course, failed to find any of the acrobatic youth's belongings.

    "He must have lost them farther back," said Pepper. "Let us look with care as we walk along."

    This they did, but arrived at the school without finding anything but a coat-button and a yellow lead pencil. Then they walked past the school in the direction of Cedarville.

    "Might as well give it up," said Bob. "It's getting too dark to see very good, anyway."

    "Yes, and I'm getting dead hungry," added Stuffer.

    "Was there ever a time when you weren't hungry?" asked Pepper, with a grin.

    "Aw, now, quit it," cried the lad who had a reputation as an eater. "Don't start so early in the term."

    "I must confess I'm a bit hungry myself," said the young quartermaster. "I had an early dinner."

    When they got back to the school they learned that Andy had been put to bed and that a doctor had been summoned. The acrobatic youth had been much shaken up and it was thought best to make him keep quiet for a few days.

    "Better not say anything about his loss for the present," advised Captain Putnam. "I will have a man sent out to make another search."

    The accidents to Andy and to Major Jack put something of a damper on the arrival for the term, and a jollification that had been scheduled for that night was indefinitely postponed. Captain Putnam questioned the cadets concerning the actions of Roy Bock and his cronies, and then sent a stiff letter to the head of Pornell Academy.

    When Reff Ritter heard about the accidents he shrugged his shoulders and tossed his head.

    "That's what they get for crowding us out of the carryall," he said to Coulter and Paxton, who roomed with him.

    "Yes, and it serves 'em right," grumbled Coulter.

    "That's what!" chimed in Paxton.
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