Dick Prescotts's Fourth Year at West Point
H. Irving Hancock
Part 1 out of 4
Produced by Jim Ludwig
DICK PRESCOTT'S FOURTH YEAR AT WEST POINT
Ready to Drop the Gray for Shoulder Straps
By H. Irving Hancock
I. Dick Reports a Brother Cadet
II. Jordan Reaches Out for Revenge
III. Catching a Man for Breach of "Con."
IV. The Class Committee Calls
V. The Cadet "Silence" Falls
VI. Trying to Explain to the Girls
VII. Jordan Meets Disaster
VIII. Fate Serves Dick Her Meanest Trick
IX. The Class Takes Final Action
X. Lieutenant Denton's Straight Talk
XI. The News from Franklin Field
XII. Ready to Break the Camel's Back
XIII. The Figures in the Dark
XIV. The Story Carried on the Wind
XV. The Class Meeting "Sizzles"
XVI. Finding the Baseball Gait
XVII. Ready for the Army-Navy Game
XVIII. Dan Dalzell's Crabtown Grin
XIX. When the Army Fans Winced
XX. The Vivid Finish of the Game
XXI. A Cloud on Dick's Horizon
XXII. Cadet Prescott Commands at Squadron Drill
XXIII. A West Pointer's Love Affair
DICK REPORTS A BROTHER CADET
"Detachment halt!" commanded the engineer officer in charge.
Out on the North Dock at West Point the column of cadets had marched,
and now, at the word, came to an abrupt stop.
This detachment, made up of members of the first and third classes
in the United States Military Academy, was out on this August
forenoon for instruction in actual military engineering.
The task, which must be accomplished in a scant two hours, was
to lay a pontoon bridge across an indentation of the Hudson River,
this indentation being a few hundred feet across, and representing,
in theory, an unfordable river.
Cadet Richard Prescott, now a first classman, and captain of one
of the six cadet companies, stepped forward, saluting.
"You will build the bridge today, Mr. Prescott, continued the
instructor, Lieutenant Armstrong, Corps of Engineers, United States
"Very good, sir," replied Dick.
With a second salute, which was returned, Prescott turned to divide
his command rapidly into smaller detachments.
It was work over which not a moment of time could be lost. All
must be done with the greatest possible despatch, and a real bridge
was called for---not a toy affair or a half-way experiment.
"Mr. Holmes," directed Prescott, "you will take charge of the
boats. Mr. Jordan, take charge of the balk carriers!"
A balk is a heavy timber, used, in this case, in the construction
of the pontoon.
Cadet Jordan, one of the biggest men, physically, in the first
class, scowled as he received this order for what was especially
"That's mean of you, Prescott," glowered Jordan.
"If you have any complaints to make, sir, make them to the instructor,"
return Cadet Captain Prescott, after a swift, astonished look at
"You know I can't do that," muttered Cadet Jordan. "But you-----"
"Silence, sir, and attend to your duty!"
Then, raising his voice to one of general command, Prescott called:
"Construct the bridge!"
Jordan fell back, with a surly face and a muttered imprecation, to
take command of the squad of yearlings, or third classman who must
serve in carrying the heavy balks.
In the meantime Dick's roommate, Greg Holmes, had hurried his
squad away to the flat-bottomed, square-ended pontoon boats, placing
his crews therein.
Almost instantly, it seemed, Greg had placed the first boat in
"Lay the balks!" ordered Dick Prescott.
Cadet Jordan moved forward with some of his yearlings, who carried
the heavy balks, or flooring timbers, on their shoulders. It was
hot, hard work---"thankless," as the young men often termed it in
These balks were laid across the first pontoon.
As quickly as the balks had been laid the detachment of lashers were
at work securing the balks in place.
The first was floated to the mooring stakes and a second boat
was moved into position.
Another column of yearlings moved forward, each with a heavy plank
on his shoulder. It was heavy, hot, hard and dirty work. Outsiders
who imagine that the Military Academy is engaged in turning out
"uniformed dudes" should see this work done by the cadets.
Almost with the speed of magic the planks were laid in an orderly
manner forming a secure flooring over the balks.
The second boat was anchored, and then a third, a fourth. As the
bridge grew Cadet Prescott walked out on the flooring that he
might be at the best point for directing the efforts.
As the fifth boat reached its position, Dick turned to see that
all was going well.
The yearlings, whose duty it was to carry the balks---"balk-chasers,"
they were termed unofficially---were standing idle, though alert.
They could not move until Mr. Jordan, of the first class, gave the
And Jordan? With one hand hanging at his side, the other resting
against the small of his back, he stood gazing absently out over
"Mr. Jordan!" called Dick, hastening back over the planking.
"Sir!" answered the surly cadet, facing him.
"Hurry up the balks, if you please, sir."
With a scowl, Jordan turned slowly toward the waiting yearlings.
"Lay hold!" commanded Jordan, and, though it was hard work, the
yearlings responded willingly. This was what they were here for,
and this hard work was all part of the training that was to fit
them for command after they were graduated.
"All possible speed, Mr. Jordan!" admonished Prescott, with a
tinge of impatience in his voice.
"Lay hold! Raise! Shoulder!" drawled Mr. Jordan, with tantalizing
The yearling squad, each man feeling the cut of the sharp corners
of the heavy balk on his right shoulder, yet, bearing it patiently,
awaited the next command.
"Mr. Jordan, this is not a loafing contest," admonished Prescott
in a low voice.
"For---ward!" ordered Jordan with provoking deliberation.
The yearlings under him, made of vastly better material, sprang
forward with their balks, laying them in record time across the
top of the next pontoon. The lashers then fell upon their work
of securing the balks as though they loved labor.
"Chess!" called Dick, remaining on shore this time, and the yearlings
with the planks hastened forward, each carrying a plank. Here
and there, a lighter cadet staggered somewhat under the plank
he was carrying, yet hastened forward to finish his duty of the
moment with military speed.
Another pontoon was ready.
"Balks!" called Cadet Prescott. "Balks!"
Jordan got his squad started at last.
Dick glanced swiftly, but in wonder at Lieutenant Armstrong.
That Army officer, however, seemed industriously thinking about
"Jordan is truly taking charge of the balks!" muttered Prescott
to himself. "He is going to balk me so that I can't get the bridge
constructed before recall!"
"Running the balk chasers" is always unpopular work among the
cadets. Properly done, this work calls for a great deal of alertness,
speed and precision. It is work that takes every moment of the
cadet's time and attention, and incessant running in the hot sun.
Yet Prescott had, before this, chased the balk carriers, and
had not objected. He had taken up that task as he did all others,
as part of the day's work, something to be done speedily, well
"What's the matter with you, Mr. Jordan?" asked Dick in an undertone.
"Are you sick?"
"Sick of such emigrant's jobs as this!" growled Jordan. "What
made you give me-----"
"I can't discuss that with you," replied Cadet Dick Prescott coldly.
"I shall be compelled to make it an official matter, however, if you
hinder me any more."
"Lay hold! Raise! Shoulder! Forward!" Jordan ran with the squad.
"I reckon Jordan means to keep really on the job now," murmured
Prescott to himself, and returned to the advancing end of the
pontoon as it crawled over the little arm of the Hudson.
Two more boats, however, and then Dick sprang sternly ashore.
"Mr. Anstey!" called Prescott, and Anstey, the sweet-tempered
Virginian, one of Dick's staunchest friends in the corps of cadets,
came quickly up, saluting.
"Mr. Anstey, you will chase the balk carriers," directed Dick.
"Please try to make up the time that has been lost. Mr. Jordan,
you are relieved from your duty, and will report yourself to the
instructor for gross lack of promptness in executing orders!"
There could be no mistaking the quality of the justly aroused
temper that lay behind Cadet Prescott's flashing blue eyes.
As for Cadet Jordan, that young man's face went instantly livid.
He clenched his fists, while the blackness of a storm was on
"Mr. Prescott," he demanded, "do you realize what you are
saying---what you are doing?"
"You are relieved. You will report yourself to the instructor,
sir!" Dick cut in tersely.
Anstey was already chasing the yearling squad out with the balks,
and the young men were moving fast.
As for Dick Prescott, he did not favor Mr. Jordan with a further
glance or word, but walked with swift step back to the task of
which he was in charge.
With face flushed, Mr. Jordan walked over to the instructor, reporting
himself as directed.
"Dismissed from to-day's instruction," said the Army officer briefly.
"Wait and return with the detachment, however."
So Cadet Jordan, first class, saluted, turned on his heel, sought
the nearest shady spot and sat down to wait.
His body idle, the young man had plenty of time to think---about
Cadet Captain Dick Prescott.
"There's nothing to Prescott but swagger and cheap airs," decided
Mr. Jordan, idly tossing pebbles. "It's a pity he can't be taken
down a peg or two! And now I'm in for demerits before the academic
year starts. Probably I shall have to walk punishment tours, too!"
Somehow, Jordan had come along through his more than three years
in the corps without attracting much attention.
He had made no strong friends; even Jordan's roommate, Atterbury,
felt that he knew the man but slightly.
True, Jordan had not so far been strongly suspected of being morose
or surly; he had escaped being ostracized, but he certainly was
not popular. If he had made no strong friendships, neither had
he so deported himself as to win enmity or even dislike. He was
regarded simply as a very taciturn fellow who desired to be let
alone, and his apparent wish in this respect was gratified.
Dick Prescott was of an entirely different character. Open, sunny,
frank, manly, he was a born leader among men, as he had always
been among boys.
Dick was a stickler for duty. He was in training to become an
officer of the Regular Army of the United States, and Prescott
felt that no man could be a good soldier until the duty habit
had become fixed. So, in his earlier years at West Point, Dick
had sometimes been unpopular with certain elements among the cadets
because he would not greatly depart from what he believed to be
his duty as a cadet and a gentleman.
Readers of the _High School Boys' Series_ will recall that Prescott,
in his home town of Gridley, had been the head of Dick & Co.,
a sextette of chums and High School athletes. It was in his High
School days that young Prescott had developed the qualities of
manliness which the Military Academy at West Point was now rounding
off for him.
Readers of the preceding volumes in this series, _Dick Prescott's
First Year at West Point_, _Dick Prescott's Second Year at West
Point_ and _Dick Prescott's Third Year at West Point_, are already
familiar with the young man's career as a cadet at the United
States Military Academy. Our readers know how hard the fight
had been for Dick Prescott, who, in addition to his early struggles
to keep his place in scholarship in the corps, had been submitted
to the evil work of enemies in the corps. Some of these enemies
had been exposed in the end, and forced to leave the Military
Academy, but many had been the bitter hours that Prescott had
spent under one cloud or another as the result of the wicked work
of these enemies.
At last, however, Prescott and his roommate and chum, Greg Holmes,
had reached the first class. They had now less than a year to go
before they would be graduated and commissioned as officers in the
On reaching first-class dignity, both Dick and Greg had been delighted
over their appointment as cadet officers. Prescott was captain
of A company and Greg Holmes first lieutenant of the same company.
With Anstey chasing the balk carriers, and all the other squads
attending briskly to business, the pontoon was quickly built, so
that a roadway extended from shore to shore.
Now came the supreme test as to whether Prescott had done his
In the shade of the nearest trees a team of mules had dozed while
the bridge construction was going on. Behind the mules was hitched
a loaded wagon belonging to the Engineer Corps.
"Sir," reported Prescott, approaching Lieutenant Armstrong and
saluting, "I have the honor to report that the bridge is constructed."
Lieutenant Armstrong returned the salute, next called to an engineer
"Sir," answered the engineer private, saluting.
"Drive your team over the bridge and back."
Mounting to the seat of his wagon, the soldier obeyed.
Dick Prescott and his mates did not watch this test closely.
They were sure enough of the quality of the work that they had
Reaching land at the further side of the bridge, the engineer
soldier turned his team in a half circle, once more drove upon
the bridge and recrossed to the starting point.
"Very well done, Mr. Prescott," nodded the Engineer officer, with
a satisfied smile.
"Take down the bridge," ordered Dick, after having saluted the
Working as hard as before, the young men of the third and first
classes began to demolish the bridge that they had constructed.
When this had been done, and Dick had officially reported the
fact, Lieutenant Armstrong replied:
"Mr. Prescott, you will form your detachment and march back to
"Very good, sir."
Always that same salute with which a man in the Army receives
Some thirty seconds later, the detachment was formed and Dick
was marching it back up the inclined road on the way to the summer
encampment. By that time, a sergeant and a squad of Engineer
privates---soldiers of the Regular Army---were busy taking care
of the pontoon boats and other bridge material.
Marching his men inside the encampment, Dick halted them.
"Detachment dismissed!" he called out.
There was a quick break for first and third class tents. These
young men were in field uniforms---sombreros, gray flannel shirts,
flannel trousers and leggings. Most of them were dripping with
perspiration under the hot August sun.
They were all hot and dusty, and their hands stained with tar.
Within a very few minutes every man in the detachment must be
washed irreproachably clean, without sign of perspiration. They
must be in uniforms of immaculate white duck trousers and gray
fatigue blouses, wearing cleanly polished shoes, and ready to
march to dinner.
A great deal to be accomplished in a few minutes by the average
American boy! Yet let one of these cadets be late at dinner formation,
without an unquestionably good excuse, and he must pay the penalty
in demerits. These demerits, according to their number, bring
loss of prized privileges.
Cadet Jordan, having done little, was among the first to be clean
and presentable. Immaculate, trim and trig he looked as he stepped
from his tent, but on his face lay a scowl that boded ill for his
appetite at the coming dinner.
Dick was a master of swift toilets. He was on the company street
almost immediately after Jordan had stepped out under the shadow
of a tree.
"Prescott," began Jordan stiffly, "I want a word or two with you."
"Yes?" asked Dick, looking keenly at his classmate. "Very good."
"Why did you report me this morning?"
"Because you performed the work in an indolent, laggard manner,
even after I had cautioned you."
"Do you consider yourself called upon to be a judge of your
"When I am detailed in command over them in any duty---yes."
"Shall I tell you what I think of you for reporting me?"
"It would be in bad taste, at least," Dick answered. "It is against
the regulations for a cadet to call another to account for reporting
"Oh, bother the regulations!"
"If that is actually your view," replied Dick, with a smile, "then
I will leave you to the enjoyment of your discovery concerning the
"Prescott, you are a prig!" snapped Mr. Jordan.
"If it were necessary to determine that, as a matter of fact,"
answered Dick coolly, though he flushed somewhat, "I would rather
leave it to a decision of the class."
"Oh, I know you have plenty of bootlicks," sneered Jordan. "I
also know that you are class president. But that is no reason
why you should act as though you thought yourself a bigger man
than the President of the United States."
"Jordan, has the sun been affecting your head this forenoon?"
demanded Dick, with another keen look at his classmate.
"Well, you do act as though you thought yourself bigger than the
President," insisted Jordan sneeringly.
"I am a cadet, not yet capable of being a second lieutenant, in
the Army," Dick replied, regaining his coolness. "The President
is commander-in-chief of the combined Army and Navy."
"You are utterly puffed up with your own importance," cried Jordan
hotly, though in a discreetly low voice. "Prescott, you are-----"
Something in Jordan's eyes warned Dick that a vile insult was
coming in an instant.
"_Stop_!" commanded Prescott, shooting a look full of warning
at his classmate. "Jordan, don't say anything that will compel
me to knock you down in plain sight of the camp. It's years since
such a thing as that has happened at West Point!"
"Oh, you lordly brute!" sneered Jordan, his face alternately white
and aflame with unreasoning anger. "Prescott, you had it in for
me. That was why you reported me this morning. That was why
you put me in line for demerits and punishment tour walking.
You are bound to use your little, petty authority to humble and
humiliate me. I shall call you out for this!"
"If you do," shot back Dick, "I shall decline to fight you.
It would be against regulations and against all the traditions
of the corps for me to arbitrate, by a fight, the question of
whether I did right to report you."
"You refuse a fight," warned Jordan, with a malicious grin, "and
I'll denounce you all through the class!"
"Denounce me, then, if you wish," retorted Dick in cool contempt,
"and you'll bring trouble down on your own head instead. No class
requires, or permits, a member to fight in defence of his official
"Prescott is turning coward, then, is he?"
"You or any other man who presumes to say it knows well enough
that he is thereby lying," came quickly from between Prescott's
"Why, hang you, you-----"
"You'd better hush for a moment," warned Prescott. "Here comes
the corps adjutant, and I think he is looking for you."
"Yes! With a message of discipline from the O.C. just because
I was reported by a toy martinet like you!" retorted Cadet Jordan.
Cadet Filson, corps adjutant, wearing his white gloves, red sash
and sword, came up with brisk military stride. He halted before
Jordan, while Prescott moved away.
"Mr. Jordan, by order of the commandant of cadets, you will confine
yourself to the company street, leaving it only under proper orders.
This, for being reported this morning during the tour of engineer
instruction. Any further punishment that is to be meted out to you
will be published in orders at dress parade this afternoon.
"Very good, sir," replied Cadet Jordan, choking with rage.
Wheeling about, Adjutant Filson strode away again.
The moment he was gone, Jordan, his brow black with fury, stepped
over to Prescott.
"So!" he hissed. "The thunderbolt of punishment has fallen, Mr.
Prescott. As for you-----"
"Mr. Jordan," broke in Dick coolly, "you are ordered to confine
yourself to the company street. At this moment you are outside
that limit. You will return immediately to the company street!"
Jordan glared, but he had discretion enough left to obey, for
Prescott was speaking now as cadet commander of A company, to
which company Mr. Jordan belonged.
"Oh, I'll pay you back for this!" raged the disciplined cadet,
trembling as he stepped forward.
By this time, many other cadets were out in the company street.
Soon after the loud, snappy tones of the bugle summoned the two
battalions to dinner formation.
A little while before Cadet Adjutant Filson had approached Jordan,
the commandant of cadets, sitting in his tent over by post number
one, had sent for the Engineer instructor of the forenoon.
"Mr. Armstrong," asked the commandant, "how much is there in this
report against Mr. Jordan this morning? Does Mr. Jordan deserve
"In my opinion he does, sir," replied Lieutenant Armstrong. "I
had the whole happening under observation, though I pretended not
to see it."
"Why did you make such pretence, Mr. Armstrong?"
"Because I was watching to see how a man like Mr. Prescott would
conduct himself when in command."
Lieutenant Armstrong then related all of the particulars that
he had seen of Jordan's conduct.
"Then I am very glad that Mr. Prescott reported Mr. Jordan," replied
the commandant of cadets. "Mr. Jordan is a first classman and
should be above any such conduct. We will confine Mr. Jordan
to his company street for one week; and on Wednesday and Saturday
afternoons during the continuance of the encampment, he shall
walk punishment tours."
Then the commandant of cadets had passed the word for Cadet Adjutant
Filson, to whom he had entrusted the order that the reader has
already seen delivered.
But Jordan, unable to realize that he had proved himself unfit
as a soldier found his hatred of Dick Prescott growing with every
step of the march that carried the cadet corps to dinner at the
cadet mess hall.
"Prescott may feel mighty big and proud now!" growled the disgruntled
one. "But will he---when I get through with him?"
JORDAN REACHES OUT FOR REVENGE
"Hello, there, Stubbs!" called Jordan from the doorway of his
"Oh, that you, Jordan?" called Stubbs.
"Yes; come in, won't you?"
Cadet Stubbs, of the first class, looked slightly surprised, for
he had never been an intimate of this particular cadet.
"What's the matter?" asked Stubbs, pushing aside the tent flap
and stepping into the tent.
Then, remembering something he had heard, Stubbs continued quickly:
"You're in a little trouble of some kind, aren't you, old man?"
"Oh, I'm in con." growled Mr. Jordan.
"Con." is the brief designation for "confinement."
"Some report this morning, eh?"
"Yes; that dog Prescott sprung a roorback on me. Sit down, won't
"No, thank you," replied Cadet Stubbs more coolly. "Jordan, `dog'
is a pretty extreme word to apply to a brother cadet."
"Oh, are you one of that fellow's admirers?" demanded the man
"I've always been an admirer of manliness," replied Stubbs boldly.
"Then how can you stand for a bootlick?" shot out Jordan angrily.
"I don't stand for a bootlick," replied Cadet Stubbs. "I never
"Now, I don't want to play baby," went on Jordan half eagerly.
"I'm not resenting, on my own account, what happened to-day.
But it was an outrage on general principles, for the affair made
a fool of me before a lot of new yearlings. Stubbs, we're first
classmen, and we shouldn't be humiliated before yearlings in this
"I wasn't there," replied Stubbs. "I was over at the rifle range,
"Then I'll tell you what happened."
Cadet Jordan began a narration of the scene that had ended in
his being relieved from engineering instruction that forenoon.
Jordan didn't exactly lie, which is always a dangerous thing
for a West Point cadet to do, but he colored his narrative so
cleverly as to make it rather plain that Cadet Prescott had acted
beyond his real authority.
"Still," argued Stubbs doubtfully, "there must have been some
reason. I've known Prescott ever since he entered the Academy,
and I never saw anything underhanded in him."
"I wouldn't call it underhanded, either," explained Jordan.
"Prescott's manner with me might much better be described as
"It would have been underhanded, had he reported you when you
were really doing nothing unmilitary or improper," interposed
"Are you trying to defend the fellow?" demanded Jordan swiftly.
"No; Prescott, I think, is always quite ready to attend to his
own defence. But I'm astonished, Jordan, at the charge you make
against him, and I'm trying to understand it."
"What I object to, more than anything else," insisted Jordan,
"was his making a fool of me before new yearlings. That is where
I think the greatest grievance lies. First classmen are men of
some dignity. We are not to be treated like plebes, especially
by any members of our own class who may be dressed in a little
brief authority. Sit down, won't you, Stubbs?"
"No, thank you, Jordan. I must be on my way soon."
"But I want to get you and a half a dozen other representative
first classmen together," wheedled Jordan. "I think we should
all talk this over as a strictly class matter. Then, if I'm convinced
that I'm in the wrong, I'm going to stop talking."
Crafty Jordan didn't mean exactly what he said.
He would stop talking, if convinced, but he didn't intend to be
convinced. He was after Dick Prescott's scalp. Jordan well knew
that, at West Point (and at Annapolis, too, for that matter) class
action against a man is severer and more irrevocable than even
any action that the authorities of the Military Academy itself
can take. He wanted to put Prescott wholly in the wrong in the
matter. Class action could, at need, drive Prescott out of the
corps and end his connection with the Army. For, if a man be
condemned by his class at West Point, the feud is carried over
into the Army as long as the offender against class ethics dares
try to remain in the service.
At the least, Jordan hoped to stir up class feeling to such an
extent that, if Prescott were not actually "cut" by class action,
at least his popularity would be greatly dimmed.
"So won't you take part in the meeting?" coaxed Jordan, as Cadet
Stubbs moved toward the door.
"I don't believe I will," replied Mr. Stubbs. "I'd feel out of
place in such a crowd, for I've always considered myself Prescott's
"Do you place your friendship for Prescott above the dignity and
honor of the class?" demanded Jordan.
"I don't believe I'll stay, Jordan, thank you. But I can offer
you some advice, if you feel in need of any."
"Yes? Commence firing!"
"Go slow in your grudge against Prescott. Personally, I don't
want to see either of you hurt."
"Oh, Prescott won't really be hurt," sneered Jordan. "He told
me flatly that he'd decline any calling out that I might attempt."
"You---you didn't try to call him out, did you?"
"I hinted that I might do so."
"Call him out for reporting you?"
"Oh, I didn't specify what the cause of the challenge would be,"
returned Jordan airily and with a knowing wink.
"Jordan, old fellow, you don't mean that you'd call a cadet out
for reporting you officially? Why, that's against every tenet
we have. And if such a challenge came to the ears of the
superintendent, or of the commandant of cadets, you'd be fired out
of the corps before you'd have time to turn around twice."
"Who'd carry the tale that I did call Prescott out?" retorted
Cadet Jordan, with a knowing leer.
"Prescott would, if he were a tenth part of the bootlick that
you represent him to be," replied Stubbs.
"Better stay, old man; and I'll call in a few others."
"No, sir," returned Cadet Stubbs, with a shake of his head. "The
further I go into this matter the less I like it. I'm on my way,
Within half an hour, however, Cadet Jordan had found three members
of the first class who were willing to listen to him. The matter
was threshed out very fully. Jordan, to his listeners, pooh poohed
at the idea that he was "sore" on his own account. He posed, and
rather well, as the champion of first-class dignity.
"I think you're on the right track, Jordan," assented Durville
rather heartily. Durville was one of the few who had never liked
Dick well. Durville had always been one of the "wild" ones, and
Prescott's ideas of soldierly duty had grated a good deal on Durville's
"The class won't take severe action, anyway," hinted Tupper.
"We might vote to give Prescott a week's 'silence,' but any permanent
'cut' would be out of the question. The man has done too many
things to make himself popular."
"Besides," chimed in Brown, "look at the place Prescott holds
on the Army football eleven. Why he---and Holmes, too, of
course---were the pair who saved us from the Navy last November.
And we rely upon that pair to a tremendous extent for the
successes we expect this coming fall."
Jordan's jaw dropped. In the heat of his anger he had lost sight
of the football situation. Prescott and Holmes certainly were the
prize players of the Army eleven.
"Well, it might do if the class decided on the 'silence' for Prescott
for a week," assented Jordan dubiously.
Then, all of a sudden, he brightened as the thought flashed through
"If Prescott gets the 'silence,' even for a day, he'll be so furious
that he'll do half a dozen fool things that I can provoke him
into. Then he'll go so far, in his wrath, that the class will
cut him for good and all, and he'll buy his ticket home!"
The more Jordan thought this over, while he pretended to be listening
to what his classmates were saying, the surer the cadet plotter
felt that he could work his enemy out of the corps within the
next week or so.
"Well, I dare say that you fellows are right in advising milder
measures," admitted Jordan at last. "Of course, though I try
not to let my personal feelings enter into this at all, yet I
suppose I can't keep my sense of outraged class dignity wholly
untainted by my personal feelings. Besides, the 'silence' for
a week will doubtless cover all the needs of the case, and I don't
bear the fellow any personal grudge, or I try not to."
"That's a sensible, manly view, Jordan," chimed in Brown, "and
it does you credit as a gentleman and a man of honor. Now, you
know, it's a fearful thing for a man who has reached the first
class to have to drop his Army career at the last moment. So
we'll try to bring the majority of the class around to the idea
of the week's 'silence.'"
"Now, lest it appear as though I were actuated by personal motives,"
continued Jordan, "I'll have to stand back and let you fellows do
the talking with the other men of the class."
"That's all right," nodded Durville. "We wholly understand the
delicacy of your position, and we can attend to it all right.
Besides, all we have to do, anyway, is to ascertain how the class
feels on the matter."
"Don't let it be lost sight of, though," begged Jordan, almost
betraying his over anxiety, "that it is a serious matter of class
dignity and honor."
"We won't, old man," promised Durville, as the visitors rose.
As soon as he was alone---for his tentmate was away on a cavalry
drill, Jordan rose, his eyes flashing with triumph.
"Dick Prescott, I believe I have you where I want you! What a
rage you'll be in, if you get the 'silence'! 'Whom the gods would
destroy they first make mad,'" Jordan went on, under his breath,
wholly unaware that he had parodied the meaning of that famous
quotation. "You'll rage with anger, Prescott. You'll do the
very things that will warrant the class in giving you the long
The "silence" is a form of rebuke that the cadet corps, once in
many years, administers to one of the many Army officers who are
stationed over them. When the cadet corps decides to give an
officer the "silence," the proceeding is a unique one.
Whenever an officer under this ban approaches a group of cadets
they cease talking, and remain silent as long as he is near them.
They salute the officer; they make any official communications
that may be required, and do so in a faultlessly respectful manner;
they answer any questions addressed to them by the officer under
ban. But they will not talk, while he is within hearing, on anything
except matters of duty.
An officer under the ban of the "silence" may approach a gathering
of a hundred or more cadets, all talking animatedly until they
perceive his approach. Then, all in an instant, they become mute.
The officer may remain in their neighborhood for an hour, yet,
save upon an official matter, no cadet will speak until the officer
has moved on.
This "silence" may be given an officer for a stated number of
days, or it may be made permanent. It has sometimes happened
that an officer has been forced to ask a transfer from West Point
to some other Army station, simply because he could not endure
Very rarely, indeed, the silence is given to a cadet; it is more
especially applicable if he be a cadet officer who is in the habit
of reporting his fellow classmen for what they may consider
insufficient breaches of discipline.
The "cut" or "Coventry" is reserved for the cadet whom it is intended
to drive from the Army altogether. If a man at West Point is
"sent to Coventry" by the whole corps, or as a result of class
action, he will never be able to form friendships in the Army
again, no matter how long he remains in the Army, or how hard he
tries to fight the sentence down.
Cadet Jordan, as will have been noted, professed to be satisfied
if the class voted a week's "silence" to Dick Prescott, for Jordan
believed that by this time the tantalized young cadet captain
could be provoked into actions that would bring the imposition
of the "long silence" of permanent Coventry.
At the end of the busy cadet day, when the two cadet battalions
stood in formal array at dress parade, Cadet Adjutant Filson published
the day's orders.
One of these orders mentioned Jordan's confinement to the company
street, and added the further infliction of "punishment tours" to
be walked every Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.
"Oh, well," thought the culprit, savagely, "as I walk I can plan
newer and newer things. I'll go into the Army, and you, Prescott,
may become a freight clerk on a jerk-water railroad."
Unknown to either Jordan or Prescott at that moment, other
storm-clouds were gathering swiftly over the head of the popular
young cadet captain.
CATCHING A MAN FOR BREACH OF "CON."
Lieutenant Denton was the tac. who served as O.C. during this
tour of twenty-four hours.
A "tac.," as has been explained in earlier volumes, is a Regular
Army officer who is on duty in the department of tactics. All
of the tacs. are subordinates of the commandant of cadets, the
latter officer being in charge of the discipline and tactical
training of cadets. Each tac. is, in turn, for a period of twenty-four
hours, officer in charge, or "O.C."
During the summer encampment of the cadets, the O.C. occupies
a tent at headquarters, and is in command, under the commandant,
of the camp.
It was in the evening, immediately after the return of the corps
from supper, when Lieutenant Denton had sent for Cadet Captain
"Mr. Prescott," began the O.C., "there has been some trouble,
lately, as you undoubtedly know, with plebes running the guard
after taps. Now, our plebes are men very new to the West Point
discipline, and they do not appreciate the seriousness of their
conduct. Until the young men have had a little more training,
we wish, if possible, to save them from the consequences of their
lighter misdeeds. Of course, if a cadet, plebe or otherwise,
is actually found outside the guard line after taps, then we cannot
excuse his conduct. This is where the ounce of prevention comes
in. Mr. Prescott, I wish you would be up and around the camp
between taps and midnight to-night. Keep yourself in the background
a bit, and see if you can stop any plebes who may be prowling
before they have had a chance to get outside the guard lines.
If you intercept any plebes while they are still within camp
limits, demand of them their reasons for being out of their tents.
If the reasons are not entirely satisfactory, turn them over
to the cadet officer of the day. Any plebe so stopped and turned
over to the cadet officer of the day will be disciplined, of course,
but his punishment will be much lighter than if he were actually
caught outside the guard lines. You understand your instructions,
"That is all, Mr. Prescott."
Saluting, Dick turned and left the tent.
"That's just like Lieutenant Denton," thought Dick, as he marched
away to his own company street. "Some of the tacs. would just
as soon see the plebe caught cold, poor little beast. But Lieutenant
Denton can remember the time when he was a cadet here himself,
and he wants to see the plebe have as much of the beginner's chance
as can be given."
As Dick pushed aside the flap and entered his tent, he beheld
his chum and roommate, Greg Holmes, now a cadet lieutenant, carefully
transferring himself to his spoony dress uniform.
"Going to the hop to-night, old ramrod?" asked Greg carelessly, though
"Not in my line of hike," yawned Prescott. "You know I'm no hopoid."
"Oh, loyal swain!" laughed Greg in mock admiration. "You hop
but little oftener than once a year, when Laura comes on from
the home town! You throw away nearly all of the pleasures of
the waxed floor."
"Even though but once a year, I go as often as I want," Dick answered,
with a pleasant smile.
"But see here, ramrod, an officer is expected to be a gentleman, and
a fellow can't be an all-around gentleman unless he is at ease with
the ladies. What sort of practice do you give yourself?"
"You're dragging a femme to the hop tonight?" queried Dick.
"Yes, sir," admitted Greg promptly.
"Then you're---pardon me---you're engaged to the young lady, of
"Engaged to take her to the hop, of course," parried Holmes.
"And engaged to be married to her, as well," insisted Dick.
"Ye-es," admitted Cadet Holmes reluctantly. "Let me see; this
is the fourteenth girl you've been engaged to marry, isn't it?"
"No, sir," blurted Greg indignantly. "Miss---I mean my present
betrothed, is only the eighth who has done me the honor."
"Even eight fiancees is going it pretty swiftly for a cadet not
yet through West Point," chuckled Dick.
"Well, confound it, it isn't my fault, is it?" grumbled Greg.
"I didn't break any of the engagements. The other seven girls
broke off with me. On the whole, though, I'm rather obliged to
the seven for handing me the mitten, for I'm satisfied that Miss---I
mean, the present young lady---is the one who is really fitted
to make me happy for life."
"I'm almost sorry I'm not going to-night," mused Prescott aloud.
"Then I'd see the fortunate young lady."
"Oh, there are no secrets from you, old ramrod," protested Greg
good-humoredly. "You know her, anyway, I think---Miss Steele."
"Captain Steele's daughter?"
"Precisely," nodded Greg.
"Daughter of one of the instructors in drawing?"
"Greg, you're at least practical this time," laughed Dick. "That
is, you will be if Miss Steele doesn't follow the example of her
predecessors, and break the engagement too soon."
"Practical?" repeated Cadet Holmes. "What are you talking about,
old ramrod? Has the heat been too much for you to-day? Practical!
Now, what on earth is there that's practical about a love affair?"
"Why, if this engagement lasts long enough, Greg, old fellow,
Captain Steele and his wife will simply have to send you an invitation
to a Saturday evening dinner at their quarters. And then, in
ordinary good nature, they'll have to invite me, also, as your
roommate. Greg, do you stop to realize that we've never yet been
invited to an officer's house to dinner?"
"And we never would be, if we depended on you," grumbled Greg.
"Women are the foundation rock of society, yet you never look
at anyone in a petticoat except Laura Bentley, who comes here
only once a year, and who may be so tired of coming here that
she'll never appear again."
A brief cloud flitted across Dick's face. Seeing it, repentant
Greg rattled on:
"Of course you know me well enough, old ramrod, to know that I'm
not really reproaching you for being so loyal to Laura, good,
sweet girl that she is. But you've miffed a lot, of the girls
on the post by your constancy. Why, you could have the younger
daughters of a dozen officers' following you, if you'd only look
"The younger daughters of the officers are all in the care of
nurse-maids, Greg," Prescott retorted with pretended dignity.
"Relieving nurse-maids of their responsibilities is no part of
a cadet's training or duty."
"Well, 'be good and you'll be happy'---but you won't have a good
time," laughed Greg, who, having finished his inspection of himself
in the tiny glass, was now ready to depart.
"On your way, Holmesy," nodded Dick, glancing at the time. "It's
a long walk, even for a cadet, to Captain Steele's quarters."
Greg went away, humming under his breath.
"There's a chap whom care rarely hits," mused Dick, looking half
enviously after his chum. "I wonder really if he ever will marry?"
Presently Dick picked up his camp chair and placed it just outside
at the door of his tent. It was pleasant to sit there in the
But presently he began to wonder, a little, that none of the fellows
dropped around for a chat, for he was aware that a number of the
first classmen were not booked for the hop that night.
From time to time Dick saw a first classman enter or leave the tent
of Cadet Jordan.
"He seems unusually popular to-night," thought Prescott, with
a smile. "Well, better late than never. Poor Jordan has never
been much of a favorite before. I wonder if my reporting him
to-day has made the fellows take more notice of him? It is a
rare thing, these days, for a first classman to be confined to
his company street."
For Prescott the evening became, in fact, so lonely that presently
he rose, left the encampment and strolled along the road leading
to the West Point Hotel. On other than hop nights, this road
was likely to be crowded with couples. That night, however, nearly
all of the young ladies at West Point had been favored with invitations
to Cullum Hall.
Tattoo was sounding just as Prescott crossed the line at post
number one on reentering camp. In half an hour more, it would
be taps. At taps, all lights in tents were expected to be out,
and the cadets, save those actually on duty, to be in their beds.
An exception was made in favor of cadets who had received permission
to escort young ladies to the hop. Each cadet who had to return
to the hotel, or to officers' quarters with a young lady had received
the needed permission, and the time it would take him to go to
the young lady's destination and return to camp was listed at
the guard tent. Any cadet who took more than the permitted time
to escort his partner of the hop to her abiding place would be
subject for report.
However, the special duty imposed upon Cadet Prescott for this
night related to plebes, and plebes do not go to the hops.
Bringing out his camp chair, Dick sat once more before his tent.
Down at Jordan's tent he could still hear the low hum of cadet
"Something is certainly going on there," mused Prescott.
For a moment or two he felt highly curious; then he repressed
"Good evening, Prescott."
"Oh, good evening, Stubbs."
Cadet Stubbs came to a brief halt before the cadet captain's tent.
"I have been noticing that Jordan has a good many visitors this
evening," Dick remarked.
"All from our class, too, aren't they?" questioned Stubbs.
"Yes. If we were yearlings I should feel sure that they had a
plebe or two in there. But first classmen don't haze plebes."
"No; we don't haze plebes," replied Cadet Stubbs with a half sigh,
for Prescott was the only first classman at present in camp who
did not fully know just what was in progress at Jordan's tent.
But West Point men pride themselves on bearing no tales, so Stubbs
repressed the longing to explain to Dick what Jordan was seeking
to bring about.
As a matter of fact, though some of the members of the first class
were hot-headed enough to accept Jordan's view of the report against
him, the class sentiment was considerably against the motion to
give Cadet Captain Richard Prescott the silence, even for a week.
However, none came near Prescott to talk it over. That again
would be tale-bearing. Dick was not likely to hear of the move
unless summoned to present his own defense in the face of class
Nor would Greg be approached on the subject. The accused man's
roommate or tentmate is always left out of the discussion.
Taps sounded; almost immediately the lights in the tents went
out. Stillness settled over the encampment.
The fact that a single candle remained lighted in Prescott's tent
showed that he had permission to run a light. The assumption
would be that he was engaged on some official duty, though the
fact of running a light did not in any way betray the nature of
Dick sat inside at first. Then, one by one, the cadets returning
from the hop stepped through the company streets. At last Greg
Holmes came in.
"Still engaged, Holmesy?" asked Dick, looking up with a quizzical
"Surest thing on the post!" returned Greg, with a radiant smile.
He had the look of being a young man very much in love and utterly
happy over his good fortune.
"Going to run a light?" asked Holmes, gaping, as he swiftly disrobed.
"Yes; but I'll throw the tin can around so that the blaze won't
be in your eyes."
"It won't anyway," retorted Greg, turning down the cover of his
bed. "I'll turn my back on the glim."
The "tin can" is a device time-honored among cadets in the summer
encampment. It is merely a reflector, made of an old tin can,
that increases and concentrates the brilliancy of the candle light.
The "tin can" may also be used in such a way as to throw a large
part of a tent in semi-darkness.
Two minutes later, Greg's breathing proclaimed the fact that this
cadet was sound asleep.
Dick, stifling a yawn---for it had been a long, hard and busy
day---threw a look of envy toward his chum. Then, in uniform,
Prescott stepped out into the company street.
It was a dark, starless night; an ideal night to a plebe who wanted
to run the guard and put in some time outside of the camp limits.
Keeping as much in the shadow as he could, Prescott stepped along
until he came near one of the sentry lines.
For some time he stood thus, eyes and ears alert, though he lounged
in the shadow where he was not likely to be seen.
"It's an off night for plebe mischief, I reckon," he murmured
at last. "All the plebes are good little boys to-night, and safely
tucked in their cribs."
At last, when it was near midnight, Prescott came out from his
place of semi-concealment and stepped over near the guard line.
It was not long ere a yearling sentry, with bayonet fixed and
gun resting over his right shoulder, came pacing toward the first
Recognizing a cadet officer, the yearling sentry halted, holding his
piece at "present arms."
"Walk your post," Dick directed, after having returned the salute.
Had Prescott been a cadet private the sentry would have questioned
him as to his reasons for being out after taps. But with a cadet
captain it was different. Though Prescott was not cadet officer
of the day, he was privileged to have official reasons for being
out without making an accounting to the sentry.
Slowly the yearling sentry paced down to the further end of his
post. Then he came back again. Having saluted Prescott recently,
he did not pause now, but kept on past the cadet officer standing
there in the shadow.
As the sentry's footsteps again sounded softer in the distance,
Prescott suddenly became aware of something not far away from him.
It was a little glow of fire, at an elevation of something less
than six feet from the ground, over beside a bush.
This glow of fire looked exactly as though it came from a lighted
If the cigar were held by a civilian, it was a matter that needed
Cadets, if they wish, may smoke at certain times and within certain
limits. But nothing in the regulations permits a cadet to go
outside the guard lines after taps to smoke.
Dick Prescott drew further back into the shadow, noiselessly,
and kept his eye on the distant glow until he heard the yearling
"Sentry!" called Prescott sharply. The yearling, his piece at
port arms, came on the run.
"Investigate that glow yonder," ordered Prescott.
"Very good, sir!"
Prescott and the sentry started together. For an instant the
glow wavered, as though the man that was behind the glow meditated
taking to his heels.
"Halt!" called the sentry. "Who's there?"
Now the glow disappeared, but cadet captain and sentry were close
enough to see the outlines of a figure in cadet uniform.
The figure still moved uncertainly, as though bent on flight.
But the sight of two pursuers seemed to change the unknown's mind.
"A cadet," he called, in answer to the sentry's challenge.
The sentry halted.
"Advance, cadet, to be recognized," he commanded.
Prescott came to a halt not far from the sentry.
Slowly, with evident reluctance, the figure moved forward.
"Mr. Jordan!" called Prescott, in considerable amazement.
"Yes, sir," admitted Jordan huskily.
Now, Dick had every reason in the world for not wanting to report
this cadet again, but duty is and must be duty, in the Army.
"Mr. Jordan, you are under orders of confinement to the company
street," cried Dick sternly.
"And yet you are found outside of camp limits? Have you any
explanation to offer, sir?"
"I was nervous, sir," replied Jordan, "and couldn't sleep. So
I slipped out past the guard line to enjoy a quieting smoke."
"Smoking causes vastly more nervousness than it ever remedies,
Mr. Jordan," replied the young cadet captain. "Have you any additional
explanation or excuse for being outside the company street?"
"Then return to your tent, sir."
"I---I suppose you are going to report this, Mr. Prescott?" asked
the other first classman.
"I have no alternative," Dick answered. "You are under confinement
to the company street; you have made a breach of confinement, and I
am your company commander."
"Very good, sir."
Jordan stiffened up, saluted, then passed on across the guard
line, making for the street of A company.
Dick turned back, more slowly, a thoughtful frown gathering on
his fine face, while the yearling sentry was muttering to himself:
"Great Caesar, but Prescott surely has put both feet in it. He
reports a fellow classman for a little thing like a late smoke,
and the man reported will be doomed to go into close arrest!
Glad I'm not Prescott!"
It would be untruthful to deny that Dick Prescott was worried;
nevertheless, he made his way briskly to the tent of the O.C.
"Jove, what luck!" chuckled Jordan tremulously, as he hastened
along the street of A company to his tent. "Of course I'll be
in for all sorts of penalties, and I'll have to be mighty good,
after this, to keep within safe limits on demerits. But I have
Prescott just where I want the insolent puppy! The class, this
evening, was much in doubt about giving him the silence. But
flow! When he has gone out of his way to catch me in such an
innocent little breach of con.! Whew! But my lucky star is surely
at the top of the sky to-night."
Cadet Jordan was soon tucked in under his bed cover. He had not
fallen asleep, however, when he heard a step coming down the street.
Dick had chanced to find the O.C. still up. In a few words Prescott
made his report.
"This is a very serious report against a first classman, Mr. Prescott,"
said kind-hearted Lieutenant Denton gravely. "It is most unfortunate
for Mr. Jordan that he has not a better excuse. You will go to
Mr. Jordan's tent, Mr. Prescott, and direct him to remain in his
tent, in close arrest, until he hears as to the further disposition
of his case by the commandant of cadets."
"Very good, sir," Prescott answered, saluting.
"And then you may go to your own tent and retire, Mr. Prescott.
I fancy the plebes have been good to-night."
"Thank you, sir."
With a rather heavy heart, though outwardly betraying no sign,
Prescott walked along until he reached Jordan's tent, where he
delivered the order from the O.C.
"Did you hear that, old man?" growled Jordan to his tentmate,
after the cadet captain had gone.
"Pretty rough!" returned the tentmate sleepily.
Rough? The first class was seething when it received the word
next morning, for it was the common belief that Prescott must
have shadowed and followed his classmate in order to entrap him.
"It's surely time for class action now," Durville told several
of his classmates.
THE CLASS COMMITTEE CALLS
Outwardly A company and the entire corps of cadets was as placid
and unruffled as ever when the two battalions marched to breakfast
One conversant with military procedure, however, would have noted
that Jordan, being a prisoner, marched in the line of the file
And Mr. Jordan's face was wholly sulky, strive as he would to
banish the look and appear indifferent.
Even to a fellow naturally as unsocial as the cadet now in arrest,
it was no joke to be confined to his tent even for the space of
a week, except when engaged in official duties; and to be obliged,
two afternoons in a week, to march in full equipment and carry
his piece, for three hours in the barracks quadrangle under the
watchful eyes of a cadet corporal.
This penalty would last during the remaining weeks of the encampment
and would be pronounced upon Jordan as soon as the commandant of
cadets perfunctorily confirmed the temporary order of Lieutenant
Dick, at the head of A company, looked as impassive as ever, though
he felt far from comfortable.
Through the ranks, wherever first classmen walked, excitement
When Prescott was seated at table in the cadet mess hall, Greg,
who sat next his chum, turned and raised his eyebrows briefly, as
though to say:
"There's something warm in the air."
Dick's momentary glance in return as much as said:
"I know it."
None of the other cadets at the same table turned to address Prescott
directly, with the single exception of Greg Holmes. True, when
Dick had occasion, twice or thrice, to address other men at his
table, they answered him, though briefly.
Whatever was in the air it had not broken yet. That was as much
as Prescott could guess.
The instant that they had returned to camp, and the two chums
were in their tent, Greg whispered fiercely:
"That sulker, Jordan, is putting up trouble for you, as sure as
"Then I've given him a bully handle to his weapon," admitted Dick
They were hustling into khaki field uniform now, and there was
little time for comment; none for Greg to go outside and find
out what was really in the air. Battery drill was right ahead
of them. Barely were the chums changed to khaki field uniform
before the call sounded on the bugle.
On the recall from battery drill, the chums had but a few moments
before they were called out for a drill in security and information.
So the time passed until dinner. Again Jordan marched in the
line of the file closers, and now this first classman had received
his official sentence from the commandant of cadets.
So far as the demeanor of the class toward Prescott was concerned,
dinner was an exact repetition of breakfast.
On the return of the corps to camp, a few minutes followed that
were officially assigned to recreation.
Dick stood just inside the door of his tent when he heard the tread
of several men approaching.
Looking out, he saw seven men of his own class coming up. Durville
was at their head.
"Good afternoon, Prescott," began Durville.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen," nodded Dick.
"We represent the class in a little matter," continued Durville,
"and I have been asked to be the spokesman. Can you spare us a
"All the time that I have before the call sounds for my next drill,"
"Mr. Prescott, you reported a member of our class last night," began
"I did so officially," Dick answered.
"Of course, Mr. Prescott, we understand that. The offender was
a member of A company, and you are the cadet captain of that company.
But this affair happened at the guard line, and you were not cadet
officer of the day. Mr. Jordan feels that you exerted yourself to
catch him in his delinquency."
"I did not," replied Prescott promptly. "At the time when I called
upon the cadet sentry to apprehend Mr. Jordan, I had not the remotest
idea that it was Mr. Jordan."
"Then," asked Durville bluntly, "how did you, who were not the
cadet officer of the day, happen to be where you could catch Mr.
Jordan so neatly?"
"In that matter I have no explanation to offer," Prescott replied.
One less a stickler for duty than Prescott might have replied that
he had been on the spot the night before in obedience to a special
order from the officer in charge.
Dick Prescott, however, felt that to make such a statement would
be a breach of military faith. The order that he had received
from Lieutenant Denton he looked upon as a confidential military
order that could not be discussed, except on permission or order
from competent military sources.
"Now, Prescott," continued Cadet Durville almost coaxingly, "we
don't want to be hard on you, and we don't want to do anything
under a misapprehension. Can't you be more explicit?"
"I have already regretted my inability to go further into the
matter with you," Dick replied, pleasantly though firmly.
"And you can give us no explanation whatever of how you came to
report Jordan for being beyond the camp limits?"
"All I am able to tell you is that my reporting of Mr. Jordan
was a regrettable but military necessity."
"Is that all we wish to ask, gentlemen?" inquired Durville, turning
to his six companions.
"It ought to be," retorted Brown dryly.
The seven nodded very coldly. Durville turned on his heel, leading
the others away.
"Unless I'm a poor kitchen judge, old ramrod, your goose is cooked,"
muttered Greg Holmes mournfully.
"Then it will have to be," spoke Dick resolutely.
"But you haven't told even me how you came to be, last night, just
where you could fall afoul of Jordan so nicely."
"Old chum," cried Dick, turning and resting a hand on Greg's right
arm, "I can discuss that matter no further with you than I did with
the class committee."
"You're a queer old extremist, anyway, with all your notions of
duty and other bugaboos. This affair has given me the shivers."
"Then cheer up, Holmesy!" laughed Cadet Captain Prescott.
"Oh, it's you I'm shivering for," muttered Greg.
THE CADET "SILENCE" FALLS
Six companies of sun-browned, muscular young men marched away to
cadet mess hall that evening.
If any of these cadets were more than properly fatigued, none
of them betrayed the fact. Their carriage was erect, their step
springy and martial. In ranks their faces were impassive, but
when they filed into the mess hall, seated themselves at table
and glanced about, an orderly Babel broke loose.
At all, that is to say, save one table. That was the table at
which Cadet Captain Richard Prescott sat.
Greg was the first to make the discovery. He turned to Brown
with a remark. Brown glanced at Holmes, nodding slightly. All
the other cadets at that board were eating, their eyes on their
"What's the matter?" quizzed Holmes. "You're ideas moving slowly?"
Again Brown glanced up at his questioner, but that was all.
"How's the cold lamb, Durville?" questioned Dick.
Durville passed the meat without speaking, nor did he look directly
Dick and Greg exchanged swift glances. They understood. The
blow had fallen.
_The Silence had been given_!
Dick felt a hot flush mounting to his temples. The blood there
seemed to sting him. Then, as suddenly, he went white, clammy
perspiration beading his forehead and temples.
This was the verdict of the class---of the corps? He had offended
the strict traditions and inner regulations of the cadet corps, and
was pronounced unfit for association!
That explained the constrained atmosphere at this one table, the
one spot in all the big room where silence replaced the merry
chatter of mealtime.
"The fellows are mighty unjust!" thought Dick bitterly, as he
went on eating mechanically. He no longer knew, really, whether
he were eating meat, bread or potato.
That was the first thought of Prescott. But swiftly his view
changed. He realized about him, were hundreds of the flower of
the young manhood of the United States. These young men were
being trained in the ways of justice and honor, and were trying
to live up to their ideals.
If such an exceptional, picked body of young men had condemned
him---had sentenced him to bitter retribution---was it not wholly
likely that there was much justice on their side?
"The verdict of so many good and true men must contain much justice,"
Prescott thought, as he munched mechanically, trying proudly to
bide his dismay from watchful eyes. "Then I have offended against
manhood, in some way. Yet how? I have obeyed orders and have
performed my duties like a soldier. How, then, have I done wrong?"
Once more it seemed indisputable to Prescott that his comrades
had wronged him. But once more his own sense of justice triumphed.
"I am not really at fault," he told himself, "nor is the class.
The class has acted on the best view of appearances that it could
obtain. I was wholly right in obeying the orders that I received
from Lieutenant Denton, and equally right in not communicating
those orders to a class committee. Nor could I refrain from reporting
Mr. Jordan for breach of con. That was my plain duty, more especially
as Mr. Jordan is a member of the company that I command. But the
appearances have been all against me, and I have refused to explain.
The class is hardly to be blamed for condemning me, and I imagine
that Mr. Jordan, in accusing me, has not been at all reticent.
Probably, too, he has taken no extreme pains to adhere to the
exact truth. I do not see how I can get out of the scrape in
which I find myself. I wonder if the silence is to be continued
until I am forced to resign and give up a career in the Army?"
With such thoughts as these it was hard, indeed, to look and act
as though nothing had happened.
But Cadet Jordan, taking eager, covert looks at his enemy from
another table, got little satisfaction from anything that he detected
in Prescott's face.
"Why, that b.j.(fresh) puppy is quite equal to cheeking his way on
through the last year and into the Army!" thought Jordan maliciously.
"However, he's done for! No matter if he sticks, he'll never get
any joy out of his shoulder straps."
Little could Jordan imagine that Prescott's proud nature would
long resist the silence. If this rebuke were to become permanent,
then Prescott was not in the least likely to attempt to enter
upon his studies at the beginning of they Academic year in September.
And Greg! He didn't waste any time in trying to be just to any
one. All his hot blood rose and fomented within him at the bare
thought of this terrible indignity put upon that prince of good
fellows, Dick Prescott. Holmes felt, in truth, as though he would
be glad to fight, in turn, every member of the first class who
had voted for the silence.
That practically all the fellows of the first class had voted
for the silence, Greg did not for an instant believe. He was
well aware that Dick had many staunch friends in the class who
would stand out for him in the face of any appearances. But a
vote of the majority in favor of the silence would be enough;
the rest of the class would be bound by the action of the majority.
And all the lower classes would observe and respect any decision
of the first class concerning one of its own members.
Not a word did Greg say to Dick. Yet, under the table, Holmes
employed one of his knees to give Dick's knee a long, firm pressure
that conveyed the hidden message of unfaltering friendship and
For the other cadets at the table the silence imposed more or
less hardship, since they could utter only the most necessary
words. They however, were not objects against whom the silence
was directed, and they could endure the absence of conversation
with far more indifference than was possible for Prescott.
It was a relief to all at the table, none the less, when the rising
order was given. When the corps had marched back to camp, and
had been dismissed, Dick Prescott, head erect, and betraying no
sign of annoyance, walked naturally into A company's Street, drew
out his camp chair and seated himself on it in the open.
Barely had he done so, when Greg arrived. Cadet Holmes, however,
did not stop or speak, but hurried on.
"Greg has his hands full," thought Dick. "He's going to investigate.
And I'm afraid his hot head will get him into some sort of trouble,
The imposition of the silence did not affect Greg in his relations
with his tentmate. When a cadet is sent to Coventry, or has the
silence "put" on him, his tentmate or roommate may still talk
unreservedly with him without fear of incurring class disfavor.
To impose the rule of silence on the tentmate or roommate of
the rebuked one would be to punish an innocent man along with
the guilty one.
Rarely, after all, does the corps err in its judgment when Coventry
or the silence is meted out. None the less, in Dick's case a
grave mistake had been made.
Time slipped by, and darkness came on, but Greg had not returned.
There was band concert in camp that night. Many cadets of the
first and third classes had already gone to meet girls whom they
would escort in strolling near the bandstand. Plebes are not
expected to escort young ladies to these concerts. The members
of the second class were away on the summer furlough, as Dick
and Greg had been the summer before.
As the musicians began to tune up at the bandstand, most of the
remaining cadets sauntered through the company streets on their
way to get close to the music.
All cadets who passed through A company's street became suddenly
silent when within ten paces of Dick's tent, and remained silent
until ten paces beyond.
Dick's tent being at the head of the street, he was quite near
enough to the music. But he was not long in noting that both
cadet escorts and cadets without young ladies took pains not to
approach too close to where he sat. It was enough to fill him
with savage bitterness, though he still strove to be just to his
classmates who had been blinded by Cadet Jordan's villainous scheme.
Of a sudden the band struck up its lively opening march. Just
at that moment Prescott became aware of the fact that Greg Holmes
was lifting out a campstool and was placing it beside him.
"Well," announced Greg, "I've found out all there is behind the
"I took it for granted that was your purpose," Dick responded.
"Aren't you anxious to hear the news, old ramrod?"
"I'm hanged if you look anxious!" muttered Greg, studying his
chum's face keenly.
"I fancy I've got to display a good deal of skill in masking my
feelings," smiled Dick wearily.
"Oh, I don't know," returned Cadet Holmes hopefully. "It may not
turn out to be so bad."
"Then a permanent silence hasn't been imposed?"
"Not yet," replied Greg.
"By which, I suppose, you mean that the length of the silence has
not yet been decided upon."
"It hasn't," Greg declared. "It was only after the biggest, swiftest
and hardest kind of campaign, in fact, that the class was swung
around to the silence. Only a bare majority were wheedled into
voting for it. Nearly half of the class stood out for you stubbornly,
pointing to your record here as a sufficient answer. And that nearly
half are still your warm adherents."
"Yet, of course, they are bound by the majority action?"
"Of course," sighed Greg. "That's the old rule here, isn't it?
Well, to sum it up quickly, old ramrod, the silence has been
put on you, and that's as far as the decision runs up to date.
The class is yet to decide on whether the silence is to be for
a week or a month. Of course, a certain element will do all in
its power to make the silence a permanent thing. Even if it is
made permanent, Dick, you'll stick, won't you?"
"I shall not even try to stick against any permanent silence,"
replied Prescott slowly.
"I thought you had more fight in you than that," muttered Greg
in a tone of astonishment.
"I think I have enough fight," Dick replied with some warmth.
"And I honestly believe I have enough in me to make at least
a moderately capable officer of the Army. But, Greg, I'm not
going to make a stubborn, senseless effort, all through life,
to stay among comrades who don't want me, and who will make it
plain enough that they do not consider me fit to be of their number.
Greg, in such an atmosphere I couldn't bring out the best that is
in me. I couldn't make the most of my own life, or do the best by
those who are dear to me."
There was an almost imperceptible catch in Dick Prescott's voice.
He was thinking of Laura Bentley as the one for whom he had hoped
to do all his best things in life.
"I don't know but you're right, old fellow. But it's fearfully
hard to decide such a matter off-hand," returned Greg. His own
voice broke. For some moments Holmes sat in moody silence.
At last he reached out a hand, resting it on Dick's arm.
"If you get out, old ramrod, it's the outs for me on the same day."
"Oh, that's all right," retorted Cadet Holmes, trying to force
a cheery ring into his voice. "If you can't get through and live
under the colors, Dick, I don't want to!"
"But Greg, old fellow, you mustn't look at it that way. You have
had three years of training here at the nation's expense. It will
soon be four. You owe your country some return for this magnificent
"How about you, then?" asked Holmes, regarding his friend quizzically.
"Me? I'd stay under the colors, and give up my life for the country
and the Army, if my comrades would have it. But if they won't, then
it's for the best interests of the service that I get out, Greg."
"Well, talk yourself blind, if it will give you any relief. But
post this information up on your inside bulletin board: When you
quit the service, old ramrod, it will be 'good-bye' for little
TRYING TO EXPLAIN TO THE GIRLS
Breakfast, the next morning, was a repetition of what had happened
the night before.
At Dick's table the silence was absolute.
Even Captain Reid, cadet commissary, noticed it and understood,
in his trip of inspection through mess hall.
The thing that Reid, who was an Army officer, did not know was---who
was the victim? He never guessed Prescott, who was class president,
and believed to be one of the tallest of the class idols.
It speaks volumes for the intended justice of the cadets when they
will, in time of fancied need, destroy even their idols.
Thus it went on for some days.
Dick performed all of his duties as usual, and as well as usual.
Nothing in his demeanor showed how keenly he felt the humiliation
that had been put upon him. Only in his failure to attempt any
social address of a classmate did he betray his recognition of
Greg did his best to cheer up his chum. Anstey expressed greatest
sorrow and sympathy for his friend Prescott. Holmes promptly
reported this conversation to Dick. Other good friends expressed
their sorrow to Holmes. In every case he bore the name and the
implied message hastily to the young cadet captain.
A few whom Dick had considered his good friends did not thus put
themselves on record. Dick thereupon understood that they had
acted upon their best information and convictions, and he honored
them for being able to put friendship aside in the interests of
tradition and corps honor.
The silence had lasted five days when, one evening, a class meeting
was called. Though Cadet Prescott was class president, he did
not attend, for he knew very well that he was not wanted.
Greg's sense of delicacy told the latter that it was not for him
to attend the meeting, either.
The vice president of the class was called to the chair. Then
Durville and others made heated addresses in which they declared
that Prescott could no longer consistently retain the class presidency.
A motion was made that Prescott be called upon to resign. It was
seconded by several first classmen.
Then Anstey, the Virginian, claimed the floor in behalf of the
humiliated class president. The blood of Virginian orators flowed
in Anstey's veins, nor did he discredit his ancestry.
In an impassioned yet deliberate and logical speech Anstey declared
that great injustice had been done Cadet Richard Prescott, and by
the members of his own class.
"Every man within reach of my voice knows Mr. Prescott's record,"
declared the Virginian warmly. "When we were plebes, who stood
up most staunchly as our class champion? Why, suh, why did we
choose Mr. Prescott as our class president? Was it not because
we believed, with all our hearts, that in Richard Prescott lay
all the best elements of noble, upright and manly cadethood?
Do you remember, suh, and fellow classmen, the wild enthusiasm
that prevailed when we, by our suffrages, had declared Mr. Prescott
to be our ideal of the man to lead the class in all the paths
Anstey paused for an instant. Then, lowering his voice somewhat,
he continued, with scathing irony:
"_And now you give this best man of our class the silence, and
seek to remove him from the presidency of the class_!"
"It's a shame!" roared another cadet.
There were cheers.
"It is a shame," cried Anstey in a ringing voice. "And now you
seek to deepen the shame by further degrading Prescott, who has
always been the champion of our class. Mr. President, I move
that we lay the motion on the table indefinitely. As soon as
that has been done I shall make another motion, that we remove
the silence from the grand, good fellow who has had it put upon
There were others, however, with nearly Anstey's gift for oratory.
One of them now took the floor, pointing out that the class would
not have rebuked Prescott for having reported Jordan in the tour
of pontoon bridge construction.
"That may have been justified," continued the speaker. "But,
afterwards, Mr. Jordan and Mr. Prescott had words. There must
have been some bitterness in that. That same night Mr. Jordan
was caught and reported by Mr. Prescott, who was not cadet officer
of the day, and who therefore must have deliberately shadowed
Mr. Jordan in order to catch him."
"Prescott did not shadow Mr. Jordan, or do anything of a sneaky
nature," shouted Anstey.
"He refused to explain to our class committee how he happened
to be on band at just the time to catch Jordan," shouted Durville.
"Then be assured he had a good military, a good soldierly, a good
manly reason for his silence," clamored Anstey.
The meeting was an excited one from all points of view. In the
end the best that the staunch friends of Dick could secure was
that action on the resignation of the class presidency be deferred
until a cooler hour, but that the silence be continued for the
And so the meeting broke up. Jordan had been dismayed, fearing
that Anstey's impassioned speech might result in putting his enemy
back into greater popularity than ever.
But now Jordan was reassured. He was satisfied that things were
still moving in his direction, and that Prescott's proud spirit
would soon lead him into some action that must make the breach with
the class wider than ever.
At noon the next day Prescott returned from the second drill of
the forenoon. In his absence a mail orderly had been around. An
envelope lay on the table addressed to Dick.
"From Laura," he exclaimed in delight.
"That'll cheer you some," smiled Greg.
"Why it's postmarked from New York," continued Dick swiftly.
"Whew! She must be headed this way!"
Hurriedly Prescott tore the envelope open.
"It couldn't have happened at a worse time," he muttered, turning
"Laura, Mrs. Bentley and Belle Meade are in New York, and will
reach here this afternoon. Laura says they have learned that
there is a hop on to-night, and they are bringing their prettiest
"Whew! That is a facer!" breathed Greg in perplexity.
"Of course I can't take Laura to the hop."
"You can, if you have the nerve," insisted Greg.
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