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    Chapter 6

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    Chapter 7
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    ON THE TRAIN

    "Ready?"

    "I've been ready for the last half hour."

    "So have I. Come on, if we're going to catch that train."

    "Yes, boys, you don't want to miss the train," came from Mrs. Dick Rover. She gazed at Jack fondly. "Oh, dear! how I hate to have you go!"

    "And how I do hate to see Fred leave!" sighed Mrs. Sam Rover.

    "And my twins!" murmured Tom's wife. "I suppose they'll be getting into all sorts of mischief at that boarding school."

    "Oh, Ma! we're going to be regular little lambs there," declared Andy.

    "Just you wait and see what fine records we send home," added his twin.

    "The automobiles are waiting, boys," broke in Dick Rover. "Come. The train is due to leave in twenty minutes, and you know how crowded traffic is around the Grand Central Terminal."

    There were hasty good-byes, a number of kisses and words of cheer, and then the four boys left their mothers and the girls and ran down to where two automobiles were standing at the curb. The twins and their father leaped into one, and Jack and Fred and their fathers into the other, and in a moment more the two machines were gliding down Riverside Drive on the way to the Grand Central Terminal at Forty-second Street.

    It was a perfect autumn day, and all four of the lads were in the best of spirits. To be sure, the fact that they were leaving home to be gone for several months sobered them a trifle; but all were eager to find out what was in store for them rather than to give thought to what had been left behind.

    As might have been expected, there was a perfect jam of automobiles and carriages in the vicinity of the Terminal, and as a consequence the lads had barely time to get aboard the train which was to carry them to Haven Point, the town on the outskirts of which Colby Hall was located.

    "Take care of yourselves!" cried Dick Rover.

    "Learn all you can," added his brother Sam.

    "And go slow on mischief," warned Tom.

    "We'll remember everything," came in a chorus from the four boys; and then, as they waved their hands to their parents, the long train pulled out of the big, gloomy station and the trip to the boarding school was begun.

    Haven Point was located in the heart of New England, so that the boys had a ride of several hours ahead of them. They had seats in a parlor car, two on one side and two on the other, and they proceeded without delay to make themselves comfortable, the porter aiding them in disposing of their handbaggage.

    "Good-bye to old New York!" cried Jack. "Won't we have a lot of things to talk about when we get back!"

    "I'm just crazy to see Colby Hall, to find out what it really looks like," said Andy.

    "That picture we had of it looked pretty good," was Fred's comment. "But, of course, you can't always tell by a picture."

    "Not much!" vouchsafed Randy. "A building may look all right enough in a picture and still be about ready to tumble down."

    The boys had left home in the middle of the forenoon, and expected to have their lunch on the train before reaching Haven Point.

    "When lunch time comes I'm going to fill up," declared Andy. "No telling what sort of grub we'll get at the Hall."

    "Father said they used to have first-class eats at Putnam Hall," declared Fred.

    "Not always!" cried Jack. "At one time, while Captain Putnam was away, the food got so bad there that the cadets rebelled and left the school."

    "Oh, that was before our fathers went to Putnam Hall," answered Randy. "I heard about that, too. But while our fathers were there, the food was very good, indeed."

    After about half an hour's ride the train halted at a station, and among the passengers to get aboard were two youths with suitcases.

    "Hello! what do you know about this?" cried Jack, surprised. "If there isn't Spouter Powell! I wonder what he is doing down here. He doesn't live in this town."

    "And look at the fellow who is with him!" burst out Fred. "Did you ever see such a fat chap in your life?"

    "Oh, say! I'll bet I know who that fellow is," declared Randy. "It must be Spouter's friend, Will Hendry. Spouter told me about him. They call him Fatty."

    "And he fits his name," declared Randy. "Here they come now. They must have seats in this car."

    Spouter Powell, a tall, thin youth with a mass of wavy, black hair overhanging his forehead, and wearing a small cap well back on his head, strode forward towards them. Behind him came the fat youth, struggling with a suitcase and puffing audibly.

    "Hello, you Rover boys!" sang out the son of Songbird Powell, cheerfully. "I thought you might be on this train."

    "Glad to see you, Spouter. How are you?" returned Jack, grasping his hand cordially. "Got a little friend with you, I see."

    "Exactly! My chum, Will Hendry. Fatty, these are the Rover boys. This is Jack, this is Fred, and these two little innocent lambs are the twins, Andy and Randy."

    "Glad to know you," came from all, and a general handshaking followed.

    It was found that the new arrivals had two seats at the other end of the parlor car; but there were other seats vacant near the Rover boys, and an exchange for these was quickly made through the Pullman conductor.

    "Say! they don't make you pay extra fare, do they?" queried Andy, as he looked at Fatty Hendry doing his best to squeeze into one of the chairs.

    "Not yet. But I don't know what I'm coming to," puffed the stout youth. "Seems to me I'm taking on about a pound a day," he added, dolefully.

    "Maybe you eat too much," suggested Randy, "Why don't you cut down on your victuals?"

    "Eat too much!" puffed Will Hendry. "I don't eat half as much as some of you slim fellows. Why, Spouter here eats twice as much as I do!"

    "Yes. But see the exercise I take," answered Dick Powell. "I walk at least five miles to your one. And I spend lots of time in the gym, too--something that you cut out entirely."

    "Well, what would I be doing in the gym?" demanded the fat youth. "If I got up on the rings or the bars, I'd pull the whole blamed business down to the ground," and at this remark there was a general snicker.

    Spouter Powell explained that he had been visiting Will Hendry, who lived in the town where the two had boarded the train. He had been at Colby Hall ever since its opening, and he had much to tell about the school and those who attended it.

    "Oh, I'm sure you'll like it," declared Spouter, growing eloquent. "It's so delightfully situated on a hill overlooking the river, and is surrounded by stately trees and a well-kept campus. The scene from the front is exceedingly picturesque, while to the back the woods stretch out for many miles. Soon, when the frost touches the leaves, the hues and colors will be magnificent. The sparkle of the sunlight glinting across the water----"

    "Wow! Spouter is off again!" puffed Fatty Hendry. "I told you to be careful," he pleaded.

    "I was only acquainting them with the beauties of Colby Hall," remonstrated Spouter. "When one comes to contemplate nature, it's necessary to understand what real harmony----"

    "Exactly, exactly! Just so!" burst out Andy. "We understand what you mean, Spouter. But please remember the scenery is there--it won't move--and we'll have lots of time to look at it."

    "Tell us about the boys who go there--and the teachers," broke in Randy.

    "Yes. The teachers especially," added Fred.

    "Is there any hard-hearted fellow--like that Josiah Crabtree our folks tell about?"

    "We've got one fellow there--Professor Asa Lemm--that nobody likes," answered Spouter. "He's a language teacher. They say he was once quite well off, and he constantly laments the loss of his wealth."

    "And being poor now, he tries to take it out on every pupil who comes under him," finished Fatty Hendry. "Oh, Asa is a lemon, believe me!"

    "Well, you know what lemons grow for," commented Andy, mischievously. "They are raised to be squeezed."

    "And maybe we'll have to squeeze Mr. Asa Lemm--the lemon," added his twin.

    "Then all the other profs are perfectly good fellows?" questioned Jack.

    "Oh, yes! Captain Dale, our military instructor, is one of the nicest men I ever met, and so are Professors Grawson and Brice. The others don't seem to cut much ice one way or the other."

    "Tell us something about the cadets."

    "Any bullies there?" queried Fred.

    "Yes; we've got one bully all right enough," answered Spouter. "Slogwell Brown is his name, but everybody calls him Slugger. He's from the country, but he thinks he knows it all and is very overbearing. You've got to keep your eye open for Slugger or you'll get into trouble sure."

    "Thanks. I suppose we'd better give Mr. Slugger Brown a wide berth," remarked Fred, dryly.

    "I don't think I'll let him ride over me," answered Jack, determinedly.

    "Then, there is Walter Baxter. He isn't a half bad sort, although he's pretty hot-tempered. He had a room directly opposite Ned Lowe, who plays the mandolin and is quite a singer. About sixty of the old scholars are coming back, and then there will be quite a bunch of new fellows--not less than twenty, I've been told."

    "Gif Garrison wrote to us and spoke about football," went on Jack. "I suppose they have some pretty good games up there?"

    "Sure. We always have our regular eleven and a scrub eleven, and, besides that, we have two or three games with rival schools. Gif was at the head of the football eleven last season, and I suppose he'll be at the head this year, although Slugger Brown would like that place."

    So the talk ran on, the Rover boys gaining quite a little information concerning the school to which they were bound. Then the porter came through the car announcing the first call for lunch.

    "Say! let's go and have something to eat," cried Will Hendry, struggling to his feet.

    "I thought you were going on a diet," remarked Andy, mischievously.

    "Sure. But I'm going to have something just the same," answered the fat boy. "Come on if you are going to the dining car. If you wait too long, you won't be able to get a seat."

    "My! I shouldn't think he'd want anything to eat for a month," whispered Fred to Spouter.

    "Don't you believe a word of what Fatty says about cutting down on his food," returned the other in a low voice. "He eats just as much as anyone. That's what makes him so fat."

    Possessed of the full appetites of growing boys, the Rovers were not loth to follow the fat youth and Spouter into the dining car, which, to their surprise, was almost full.

    "We'll have to have a table for four and another table for two," remarked Jack to the head waiter. "Do you think you can find that many places?"

    "Come this way," was the reply; and the party of six started for the other end of the dining car. They were about to take the seats assigned to them by the head waiter, when a very fussy man, accompanied by another man, pushed forward to crowd in at one of the vacant tables.

    "Say! that's pretty cheeky," declared Randy. "Now I don't know where we are going to sit."

    "I'll fix you up on the other side of the car," said the head waiter. The appearance of the boys had rather pleased him, while he did not like the actions of the fussy man and his companion at all.

    Spouter and his fat chum were behind the Rovers, so they did not see the face of the fussy individual who had deprived the lads of one of the seats. They sat down on the other side of the aisle, and the Rover boys spread themselves around as best they could.

    Fred and Jack had just sat down and Randy was doing likewise, when one of the waiters came through the swaying car carrying a tray filled with eatables. Suddenly the car gave an extra lurch, and Andy was thrown up against the waiter in such a manner that the tray tilted from the colored man's hand, and an instant later the contents of a large platter containing a broiled steak with some French-fried potatoes was deposited over the neck and shoulders of the fussy man in the seat near by.

    "Oh!" roared the man, starting up in great anger. "What do you mean by this? What do you mean, I say?" he shrilled.

    At the sound of this voice, Spouter Powell and Fatty Hendry looked up in sudden wonder. Then, as some of the Rover boys commenced to laugh over the mishap, Spouter clutched Jack by the arm.

    "That man is Professor Asa Lemm!" he whispered.
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