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    Chapter 9

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    Chapter 10
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    THE MISSING SUITCASE

    In the letters sent to Colby Hall the Rover boys had requested that they be placed in rooms close to those occupied by Spouter Powell, Gif Garrison and their chums, and Colonel Colby had replied that he would do what he could for them in the matter, although many of the choicest rooms at the Hall had already been assigned to the old cadets.

    "I can give you a choice of several rooms," said Professor Brice, as he led the way to the second floor of the school. "Come this way, please."

    He took them down a long corridor and into a wing of the building.

    "This is our hallway," whispered Spouter to Jack. "I guess you'll get pretty close to Gif and me after all."

    Spouter and Gif had rooms numbered 19 and 21. Across the hall, Fatty had number 16. 18, 20 and 22 were as yet unassigned.

    "I can give you these three rooms," announced Paul Brice.

    "But what about the fourth?" queried Jack. "There are four of us, you see, and all these are single rooms."

    "For a fourth room you might take the one next to that occupied by Powell on the other side of the hallway," answered the teacher.

    "That might do," returned Fred. "But we would prefer to be together--especially as these rooms all connect."

    "I think I can help you out if you want me to," came from Fatty, good-naturedly. "If Professor Brice is willing, I'll move over to number twenty-three, and that will give you four fellows numbers sixteen, eighteen, twenty, and twenty-two."

    "Oh, we don't want to disturb you, although it's very kind of you to make the offer," remonstrated Jack.

    "That's all right," answered Fatty. "I'd just as lief be next to Spouter. The room is just as good, and I know you four cousins would like to keep together." And so, after a little more talk, the matter was arranged.

    "Now the question is: How are we going to assign these rooms?" came from Randy.

    "I've got an idea," returned his twin.

    "All right; out with it!" came from Fred. "I'd like to get settled so that I can make another hunt for my missing suitcase."

    "Why not live here just as we live on Riverside Drive?" answered Andy. "Jack can take one of the middle rooms, with Fred on one side of him and Randy and myself on the other."

    "You've solved it, Andy!" exclaimed Jack, and so without further ado the matter was settled.

    "Now I'll institute a hunt for that missing suitcase," said Professor Brice after he had made a note of the room assignments. "Most likely some boy picked it up by mistake."

    "If he did that, why didn't he leave his own suitcase behind?" queried Fred.

    "I'll look it up. Don't worry," said the professor, and then hurried away, for there were many other matters demanding his attention.

    The boys found the rooms small but pleasant. Each contained a single bed, a desk, and a chiffonier, and also a small clothing closet. In one corner was a bowl with running water, and each room contained two electric lights. All of the rooms had connecting doors, but these, for the most part, were kept closed, some of the pupils having their beds or chiffoniers in front of them.

    "You see, you are permitted to arrange your room to suit yourselves," explained Spouter, "so some of the boys have them one way and some another. Some of the boys are even permitted to double up--that is, put two of the beds in one room and use the other room exclusively for dressing and studying."

    "That's an idea," answered Randy. "Maybe Andy and I will do that." This plan was followed out by the twins, who used the last room of the four for a sleeping apartment and made of the other room a sort of general meeting place for all of the Rovers.

    "Where does that Nappy Martell hold forth?" questioned Fred of Fatty, while he was helping the stout youth transfer his belongings across the hallway.

    "He and Slugger Brown and Codfish and that gang are all around the corner, on the main corridor," was the reply. "That is, Nappy was there last season. I don't know whether somebody else used his room after he left or not."

    "It was room sixty," put in Spouter. "Slugger has sixty-two. I don't believe anyone went into sixty after Nappy left. You see, it was almost the end of the term and all the cadets were settled."

    "I'm going to take a look around," answered Fred. "I can't do anything here anyway, with no suitcase and no trunk."

    "I guess I'd better go with you," came from Jack. He did not wish to allow his cousin to interview the big, over-dressed youth alone.

    Leaving the others to settle down in the rooms as best they could, Fred and Jack hurried through the hallway to the main corridor of the second floor of the Hall. Old cadets and new pupils were coming and going in all directions, and many were the glances of curiosity directed towards the Rovers.

    "Gee! some of those fellows certainly look nifty in their uniforms," was Fred's comment.

    "They look like the uniforms our folks brought home from Putnam Hall," answered Jack. "My father's old uniform is up in our storeroom now. I tried it on one day just for fun. They tell me they are patterned after the uniforms worn at West Point."

    "There goes an officer," whispered Fred, as a tall youth went by with a sword dangling from his belt. "Look at the gold braid, will you? Isn't it swell?" he added, in deep admiration.

    "I can see your finish, Fred," laughed his cousin. "If you stay here, you'll want to be an officer with a sword, and with lots of gold lace."

    "I don't know about that," answered the youngest Rover, seriously. "I guess all the officers have to be big boys."

    "Nonsense! Size has nothing to do with it. Why, some of the greatest military men in the world have been very small. Look at Napoleon, for instance."

    "Well, I'll see about that later, Jack. Just now I'd rather get on the track of that suitcase."

    It did not take the two Rovers long to reach that part of the corridor where was located the room formerly occupied by Nappy Martell. The door was open several inches, and Fred and Jack saw that three boys were present--Nappy, Slugger, and a small, round-faced youth with a particularly broad mouth.

    "That little chap must be the sneak Spouter mentioned--the boy they call Codfish," whispered Jack.

    "That was a good joke all right, Nappy," piped out the small cadet, as the Rovers came closer. "A fine joke all right all right!"

    "You keep your mouth shut about it, Codfish," retorted Nappy Martell, quickly.

    "Oh, I won't say a word, believe me!" returned the other quickly.

    Just then Slugger Brown peered out into the hallway and saw the two Rover boys. He looked somewhat startled, and immediately placed his hand over Nappy Martell's mouth.

    "I want to see you, Martell," cried Fred without hesitation. "I want to know what you did with my suitcase."

    "I don't know anything about your suitcase," growled the loudly dressed youth in surly tones.

    "Yes, you do! You took it; and I want you to return it," answered Fred, boldly.

    "See here! do you want a licking?" burst out the New York boy, as he doubled up his fists. "You deserve one for the way you tripped me up in that mud puddle. You say another word, and I'll give you what's coming to you," and his manner was very threatening.

    "No use of fighting here, Nappy," remonstrated Slugger Brown. "Keep it until some time when you can meet him outside."

    "I didn't come here to fight," answered Fred. "But I want my suitcase."

    "I don't know anything about your suitcase. Who says I took it?" added Nappy Martell with sudden suspicion.

    "I say you took it. There wouldn't be anyone else here to play such a trick on me. Now, you must hand it over!"

    "You go on about your business!" roared the New York boy; and as Fred, followed by Jack, attempted to enter the room, he slammed the door in their faces and shot the bolt into place.

    Fred was thoroughly angry, and if it had not been for his cousin he would have tried then and there to batter the door down. But Jack caught him by the arm and pulled him back.

    "No use of creating a disturbance so soon," said Jack. "We'd only get into hot water, and maybe Colonel Colby would become so disgusted he would send us right home. If Martell took that suitcase, he won't dare to keep it, for that would be stealing. More than likely he'll sneak it back to you by to-morrow."

    "He ought to have his head knocked off of him," muttered the youngest Rover. "Jack, I feel in my bones that that fellow is going to cause us a lot of trouble."

    "I shouldn't wonder," was the answer. "Remember, Fred; he is as angry at me for the row we had down in Wall Street as he is at you over that mud-puddle affair."

    "Oh, dear! And I thought everything was going to be lovely when we got here," sighed Fred.

    There seemed nothing else to do, and so the two boys returned to where they had left the others. A little while later their trunks came in, and all spent an hour or more in unpacking these and stowing away the various articles brought along.

    "You'll be measured for your uniforms to-morrow," announced Spouter. "And then, if the school has the right sizes on hand, you'll get them at once. Otherwise, they'll be made to order and you'll have to wait at least ten days for them."

    "Oh, I hope they've got my size in stock!" cried Andy. "I'd like to see how it feels being a cadet."

    "Don't worry," answered his twin. "I guess we'll get enough of that before we leave Colby Hall. Remember, you've got to learn how to drill, and march, and shoot at a target, and all that."

    "I think it'll be lots of fun," broke in Jack. "My father told me he liked that part of the life at Putnam Hall very much."

    "We're pretty well filled up here, it seems to me," came from Fred, as he sat on his empty trunk surveying his surroundings.

    "The men will come to take the trunks away in a little while," answered Fatty; and this proved to be so. With the trunks gone the boys had more room in which to move about, for which they were thankful.

    "How about supper?" questioned Andy, presently, as a bell rang out sharply.

    "We have supper at six o'clock sharp," returned Fatty, quickly.

    "Last year we were at a table with Professor Grawson," put in Spouter. "He's a pretty nice man. I hope I get at his table again."

    "Excuse me from getting at a table with a man like Professor Lemm," burst out Andy. "Gee! what will I do if they put me with him?" he continued dolefully.

    "Well, you'll have to sit wherever you are placed," answered Spouter.

    "And what do you care so long as you get enough to eat?" questioned Fatty.

    But Andy shook his head. He thought if he were placed at the same table with Professor Asa Lemm, it would be an actual hardship.
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