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    Chapter 21

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    Chapter 22
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    "My gracious! look at the lumber floating around!"

    "Be careful, boys! Don't get hit if you can help it!"

    "One of those timbers is heavy enough to send us to the bottom!"

    "Oh, dear! Do you think we'll be smashed up?"

    Such were some of the cries which rent the air as the Rover boys and the girls with them found themselves in the midst of the wreckage from the broken-apart lumber raft.

    On all sides of them heavy sticks of timber were bobbing up and down on the whitecaps, and presently one of these bumped into the craft occupied by Jack and Fred and two of the girls. The rowboat careened so much that quite a large quantity of water was shipped, which made Ruth and May scream in fright.

    "Stand up in the bow, Fred, and see if you--can--ward--them--off!" gasped Jack as well as his semi-exhausted condition would permit. "I'll stick to--the--oars."

    He knew he must keep the rowboat headed up into the wind, for the squall had not yet subsided sufficiently to allow of their taking it sidewise.

    A moment later came a cry from the other rowboat as the craft slipped up and over several large sticks of timber.

    "Gosh! that was a narrow escape!" was Andy's comment, as the craft finally righted itself.

    "Oh, dear! if only we were on shore once more!" wailed Annie, for at least the tenth time.

    "I never dreamed that we would have such a dreadful experience as this!" came from Alice.

    Randy said nothing, but continued to row, while Andy did the same as Fred was doing, both trying their best to ward off the heavy sticks which came floating towards them every minute or two.

    Not far away was a steam tug, and presently two other boats came from the shore, both bent upon saving all that was possible of the broken-apart lumber raft.

    "We'll pick you up if you have much trouble," cried the captain of the steam tug, as he ran a course between the two rowboats. "But don't ask us to do it unless it's necessary, for we want to round up this floating lumber before it gets away from us, if it can be done."

    "Thank you!" gasped out Jack, in return. "Maybe we can--make--the--shore. The wind seems--to--be--going--down."

    "Sure, we'll make it!" put in Randy. The fright of the girls in his boat had somewhat nettled him and he was resolved to land them safely without assistance.

    But it was a time of peril as well as exhausting effort; and all of the Rovers were glad enough when the last of the drifting lumber was passed and they came within hailing distance of the shore. The wind had now gone down considerably, and most of this was to be felt farther out on the lake.

    "Let us take them right down to the school dock," sang out Randy. "We can turn down the lake, and the wind will be just strong enough to help us;" and so it was arranged.

    When the two rowboats came within sight of the school dock, those on board found fully a dozen of the scholars there, along with two of the teachers.

    "Are you safe?" cried one of the teachers, as soon as the boats came within hailing distance.

    "Yes, Miss Glover. We are all right," answered Ruth.

    "Only we are rather wet," added May.

    "And I'm awfully glad to get back," broke in Annie, who was fairly shivering over her trying experience.

    "Well, anyway, I think you cadets did perfectly splendid," remarked Alice.

    "Indeed they did!" broke out Ruth, quickly. "I don't believe anyone could have managed these boats better;" and she bestowed a glance of admiration first on Jack and then on his cousins.

    "It was a terrible blow, and it came up so quickly that we all grew alarmed for your safety," said Miss Glover.

    "And then to think that you must get mixed up with that drifting lumber!" put in the other teacher. "The squall was bad enough without having anything like that happen."

    "It's too bad the lumbermen had their big raft go apart like that," was Jack's comment. "I guess those big sticks of timber are worth a good deal of money."

    "They couldn't have had the raft chained together very tightly," said Miss Glover, who had come from a lumbering community where rafting was frequent. "I never heard of a raft going to pieces like that."

    "Well, I don't know much about lumber rafts," answered Jack.

    "Say, can't we leave our two rowboats here and ride back to the Hall?" questioned Randy. "I don't want to do any more rowing if I can help it."

    "Of course you can leave your boats here," answered Miss Glover, and she showed where the craft might be stowed away in the boathouse. All of the Rovers were glad enough to give up further work at the oars.

    "I am awfully sorry our little outing turned out as it did," remarked Jack to Ruth.

    "And it was too bad to frighten you so," added Randy, to all of the girls.

    "Oh, it wasn't your fault that the squall came up," answered Ruth. "And, besides that, now it is over I think I rather enjoyed the adventure--that is. I'll enjoy telling about it," she corrected.

    "Some day I hope we'll be able to spend a nicer time together," said Jack.

    "Perhaps," murmured Ruth, and blushed.

    Before the Rovers left for Colby Hall, they asked if Jennie Mason and Ida Brierley had returned.

    "They have not come back yet," answered one of the teachers. "We saw them going up the lake against the wind. We were a little bit worried, but I presume the motor boat can take care of itself in quite a blow."

    "All they've got to do is to turn on the gasolene, while in a rowboat sometimes a fellow's muscles give out," was Andy's comment, and this caused a smile.

    After bidding the girls and the others good-bye, the four Rovers walked towards the town. There they were fortunate enough to find the Hall auto-stage, and were soon at the school once more.

    "Gee! but my arms ache!" was Fred's remark on the way. "The muscles hurt so I can hardly keep still."

    "You'd better bathe them well with witch hazel or alcohol," returned Jack. "My muscles feel sore, too."

    "It took the wind right out of me," came from Andy. "Funny, too--with so much wind all around," he added merrily.

    "I can't help but think of how Martell and Brown treated us," said Randy, seriously. "It was as mean as dirt!"

    "I believe they would have left us there to drown!" added Fred.

    "Oh, I wouldn't like to think that of them," broke in Jack. "Just the same, it was a very dirty thing to do. Not on our account so much as on account of the girls."

    When the boys got back, the first person they met was Spouter, who wanted to know how his cousin May had enjoyed the outing. He listened in some alarm to the story the Rovers had to relate.

    "It was a narrow shave all right," was the comment. And then his face took on a stern look. "And to think Nappy Martell and Slugger Brown treated you that way! Those fellows ought to be run out of this school!"

    The squall on the lake had been noticed by some of the other cadets who had been out on the river; and the news soon spread of the danger into which the Rovers and their companions had run. Gif, Ned, Walt, and several others wanted to know the particulars of the affair, and all were loud in their denunciation of the cadets who had been running the motor boat.

    "Spouter is right!" declared Gif. "Those fellows ought to be run out of Colby Hall!"

    "After this I want nothing more to do with them!" added Ned.

    "I wonder what they would say if some of you had been drowned," remarked Walt.

    "Makes me want to pitch into 'em," came from Fatty, who was present. "But then, in one way, it's a pity to dirty one's hands on such cattle as that."

    Of course, the Rover boys had come in late for supper. Professor Lemm had started to find fault with Andy and Fred for this, but he was quickly stopped by Colonel Colby, who had come up to learn the particulars of what had occurred.

    "I heard you were out in that big blow," remarked the colonel. "I trust none of you suffered from it."

    "Well, we had rather a narrow escape," answered Fred. Then he and Andy gave a brief outline of what had happened, not forgetting to mention how Martell and Brown had left them to their fate.

    "Too bad! too bad!" murmured the colonel, shaking his head slightly. "I did not think that any of our cadets would do such a thing;" and then he walked away in a very thoughtful mood.

    "I wonder what he'll say to Brown and Martell," mused Fred, as, after being dismissed by Professor Lemm, they hurried to the mess hall. As they were late, they had missed the parade.

    "Maybe he'll give 'em a piece of his mind. I hope he does," answered his cousin.

    Nappy Martell and Slugger Brown did not appear until supper was almost over. Both had a gloomy look, as if something had gone decidedly wrong. They glared sourly at the Rover boys and their chums, and then sat down to their meal without saying a word to anybody.

    "I'll wager something slipped a cog with them," whispered Fred to Jack.

    "I've got an idea," returned the oldest of the Rover boys. "Maybe Jennie Mason and that other girl who were out in the motor boat gave them a piece of their mind for not aiding us."

    "Oh, I hope they did, Jack!"

    "It wouldn't be anything to wonder at. That Jennie Mason seemed to be a nice girl, and I don't think she would stand for any such meanness."

    Jack's surmise concerning what had happened to Nappy and Slugger was correct. The two girls had pleaded with the two cadets to go back and give those in the rowboats aid. And after much argument, in which Nappy and Slugger had proved that they were anything but young gentlemen, the girls had politely asked to be taken ashore. This had brought on something of a quarrel, and in the end the two cadets had taken the girls to a dock near the lumber yards and quite a distance from Clearwater Hall.

    "Now you can have the fun of walking to the school," had been Nappy Martell's final words.

    "And I don't think you'll go out with us again in a hurry," Slugger Brown had added.

    "I'll never go out with you again," Ida Brierley had answered.

    "And I'd much prefer to walk to the school alone than to ride any further with you in the motor boat," Jennie Mason had added; and thus the four had parted, the two girls resolving in their hearts never to have anything more to do with Nappy Martell and Slugger Brown.
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