The High School Freshmen
H. Irving Hancock

Part 4 out of 4

"Have you any good reason for not going?" asked Mrs. Prescott.

"No, mother; except that I don't like the Ripley crowd particularly.
Then, besides, I have no use for being thanked. I'd have done
as much for a tramp that I had never seen before."

"I am afraid you have reasons for disliking Fred Ripley," admitted
Mrs. Prescott. "But has the elder Mr. Ripley ever given you any
cause for disliking him?"

"No; of course not."

"Then wouldn't it be the part of courtesy for you to go, since
he requests it?"

"But, if he wants to thank me, why shouldn't he come here?"

"My boy, it is one of the privileges of older persons to expect
younger ones to come to them."

"I guess that's right," nodded Dick. "Oh, well, I'll go. But,
if Mr. Ripley has anything to pass in the way of thanks, I hope
he'll cut it short."

So, at three o'clock, Dick climbed the stairs and knocked at the
office door.

The lawyer himself opened.

"Oh, how do you do, Prescott?" demanded Lawyer Ripley, holding
out his hand. "I'm most heartily glad to see you. You didn't
see anything of my indolent son on the street, did you?"

"No, sir," the freshman answered, adding, to himself:

"I should hope not!"

"Come into my private office won't you, Prescott?" asked the lawyer,
leading the way through his outer office.

The elder Ripley placed a comfortable arm-chair for his freshman
caller, asking him to be seated.

Though Lawyer Ripley was, ordinarily, a rather pompous and purseproud
sort of man, it was plain that he realized a debt of gratitude,
and meant to pay it as graciously as he knew how to do.

"You have performed a most valuable service for me, Prescott,"
began the Sawyer again, in a heavy, solemn voice.

"You are quite welcome to the service, Mr. Ripley, and I hope
you won't think any more about it," Dick replied.

"But it is impossible that I forget it," replied the lawyer, raising
his eyebrows in some astonishment. "You saved the life of my
son, my only child."

"At not very much risk to myself, sir," smiled the freshman.
"I was able, soon after, to go in and win a skating race."

"At not much risk?" repeated the lawyer. "Why, your life was
in very considerable danger. Do you call that little?"

"Almost any of the High School fellows would have done it, Mr.

"But none of them did."

"Because I happened to be right at hand, and jumped in first---that
was all," Dick insisted.

"Young man, I am not going to allow you to make little of the
great service that you did me. I---ah, here comes the young man
we've been discussing." The lawyer changed the subject as Fred
entered. "Frederick, you are late, and, on an occasion of this
kind, I could hope that you would be more prompt."

"My watch was slow," replied Fred Ripley, using one hand to cover
a slight yawn.

"Don't you see who is here?" demanded his father.

"Yes, sir."

"Is that all you have to say?"

"How do you do?" nodded Dick, for Lawyer Ripley was looking curiously
from one boy to the other.

"Don't you---er---consider, Frederick, that it would be an excellent
idea if you were to offer your hand to Mr. Prescott?" demanded
the lawyer.

The ordeal was as distasteful to Dick as it could possibly have
been to the Ripley heir. Yet Dick got quickly up out of his chair,
accepting the slowly proffered hand of the sophomore.

"That's better," smiled the lawyer. "Now, I'll leave you two
together for the moment."

The lawyer closed the door behind him as he stepped into the outer

Fred Ripley glanced covertly at Dick, who had remained standing.
Even as big a sneak as young Ripley had shown himself at times
to be, he knew perfectly well that he owed it, even to himself,
to try to be gracious with the lad who had saved his life.

But Dick said nothing, nor did he glance particularly at the sophomore.
That made it all the harder for Fred to find something to say.
The clock in the room ticked. Dick, to relieve the awkwardness
of the situation, strolled over to a window and stood looking out.

That, therefore, was the situation when Lawyer Ripley came back
into the room.

"What a jovial, friendly pair!" railed the lawyer, who held a
slip of paper in his hand, as he advanced toward the freshman.

"Prescott," declared the lawyer, "I can't tell you what is in
my heart. I can't even pay you adequately for what you have
done for me and for my boy. But I ask you to accept this as a
slight indication, only, of what I feel."

Dick took the paper, glancing at it curiously. It was the lawyer's
check for two hundred and fifty dollars.

"Accept it," begged the lawyer, in a rather pompous voice. "Do
whatever you please with it."

Dick colored. "Whatever I please with it?" he asked, a bit unsteadily.

"Yes; certainly, of course," murmured the lawyer. "I have no
doubt whatever that a live? healthy boy can find something to
do with a check like that."

Flushing still more deeply, while Fred Ripley looked on, at first
enviously, Dick Prescott tore the check into several pieces.
The lawyer stared at him in amazement.

"I appreciate your intention, Mr. Ripley," Dick went on, his voice
a bit husky, "and I thank you, sir. But I can't take any money."

"Can't take it?" repeated the astonished lawyer, while Fred Ripley
fairly gasped.

"I can't accept money, sir, for an act of humanity."

"Oh! But I think I can convince you, my boy, that you _can_."

"I'm equally sure that you can't Mr. Ripley," persisted the freshman,
smiling. "But again I thank you for the intention."

Lawyer Ripley was a good deal of a judge of human character.
He began to feel sure that the freshman was speaking the truth.

Just at that moment some one entered the outer office. Mr. Ripley
glanced out, then said:

"I shall have to ask you to excuse me for a few moments. Fred,
of course you have just thanked Mr. Prescott again for his
heroic act?"

"N-n-no, sir," stammered Fred.

"When I return I don't want to have to hear another answer like
that," warned the lawyer, sternly. Then he closed the door behind

Dick turned, with a dry smile.

"Since you're under orders to thank me, Fred, get it over with
quickly," laughed the freshman. "I'll help you all I can."

Young Ripley's better nature really was stirred for a moment.

"Of course I thank you, Prescott," he stammered. "It was a splendid
thing for you to do. I---I don't know as I had any right to expect
it, either, for I've been pretty mean to you."

"I know," replied Dick, with the same dry smile. "You put Tip
Scammon up to the High School locker thefts, to get me in disgrace,
and unlucky Tip had to go to jail for it."

Fred Ripley glared at the freshman with terror-stricken eyes.

Then, without warning, Fred made a leap for ward, to clutch Dick
by the throat.



Side-stepping, the freshman put up one arm to ward off further

"Come, don't start a fight here, Fred," Dick cautioned the other,
in a low tone. "For one thing, you couldn't win anyway. Besides,
your father would hear the racket and come in."

"How do you know I put Tip up to that job?" demanded young Ripley,
his face as white as chalk. "Did Tip tell you all about it?"

"Not a word."

"Then you don't know," cried Fred, in sudden triumph.

"If I didn't," grinned Dick, "you've just confessed it."

"You tricked me---I mean it's a lie."

"No; it isn't, either," asserted Dick, coolly. "Though the second
chap, in that mix-up in Stetson's alley one night, got away before
I had time to recognize his face in the black darkness there,
yet as I fell and grabbed for the chap's ankle, I noticed his
trousers with the lavender stripe. I had seen those trousers
on you before, Fred, and you're wearing them again at this minute."

Fred glanced downward, starting.

"You see," insisted the freshman, "there's no sense in denying
that you put Tip up to the game that got him into the penitentiary."

"How many have you told this to?" demanded Fred, fright showing
in his face.

"My chums suspect," Dick answered, frankly. "I'm pretty sure
I haven't told anyone else."

"Good thing you haven't, then," retorted Fred, recovering some
of his usual impudence. "My father is a lawyer, and he'd know
how to make you smart if you started libelous yarns about me."

"Your father being a lawyer, I think he would also be likely to
show an investigating turn of mind. You can put it up to your
father if you want to, Fred."

Young Ripley winced. Prescott laughed lightly.

"Now, see here, Fred, I don't want to live on bad terms with anyone.
You've got good points, I'm sure you have."

"Oh, thank you," rejoined the sophomore, with exaggerated sarcasm.

"And I'll be glad to begin being on good terms with you at any
time, if you should ever really want such a thing," continued
the freshman. "If you were a thoroughly good fellow, wholly on
the level, like Badger, Thomp, Purcell, or any one of scores of
fellows that we know, then I'd hate to know that you didn't like
me. But, as to the kind of fellow you've sometimes shown yourself
to be, Fred, I've been really glad that I wasn't your sort and
didn't appeal to you."

At this style of talk the sophomore seemed all but crushed with

"Come, Fred," pursued Dick, not waiting for the other to answer,
"be a different sort of chap. Make up your mind to go through
the High School, and through life afterwards, dealing with everybody
on the square. Be pleasant and honest---be a high-class
fellow---and everyone will like you and seek your friendship.
That's all I've got to say."

"It's quite enough to say," retorted Ripley, but he spoke in a
low voice that had in it no trace of combative energy.

"Well, boys, how are matters going?" asked Lawyer Ripley, reentering.
"Fred, have you remedied your boorishness by thanking Prescott?"

"Oh, yes, he has thanked me," Dick replied, cheerily. "And we've
been chatting about---some other matters. And now, Mr. Ripley,
if you will excuse me, I feel that I must run along."

I have other things that I really must attend to."

"Won't you be more sensible, and let me make you a duplicate to
the check you tore up?" asked the lawyer.

"Thank you, sir; but I don't want to; couldn't, in fact. My father
and mother would be ashamed of me if I took home a check for such
a service. Good afternoon, Mr. Ripley. So long, Fred."

Dick went out of the lawyer's offices almost breezily. Fred even
found the nerve to respond to Dick's parting salutation with something
very close to an air of cordiality.

The instant he reached the street Dick took in several deep breaths.

"Whew! It seems mighty good to be in the fresh air once more,
after being in the same room with Fred Ripley," muttered the freshman.

"Hello, Dickens, kid," called a voice from behind, and an
arm rested on his shoulder.

"Hello, Ben," replied Prescott, looking around.

"I just wanted to say that the senior ball comes off Saturday
night of this week. You're going to get one of the few freshman
tickets. The ticket allows you to invite one of the girls. Now,
remember, freshie, we depend upon you to be there."

Dick started to object. Well enough he knew that there would
be few freshmen at the senior dance, which was the most exclusive
affair in the High School year.

"You can't kick," rattled on Badger. "You'll get thrashed, if
you do. Didn't I tell you that there'll be very few freshman
tickets sent out? Only six, in fact. Dick & Co. are going to
hog all the freshman tickets. That's largely on account of what
you youngsters have done for football and athletics in general.
Lad, this is the last year that the seniors will have a chance
to see anything of Dick & Co. So you simply can't stay away from
the senior ball. Not a single member of Dick & Co. can be excused
from attending."

"We'll see about it," replied Dick.

"No, you won't! It has all been seen to. The six of you are
going to be on hand---with six stunning girls, too!"

"I thank you, anyway; I thank you all heartily for this very unusual
honor," Dick protested.

"That's all right, then; it's settled," proclaimed Ben Badger,
with an air of finality. "The dance begins at nine. It's all
stated on the ticket."

By the next day it _was_ settled that Dick & Co. were going to
attend. Besides the senior class, a good many of the juniors
were also invited. There was to be a fair sprinkling of sophomores,
but of the freshmen Dick & Co. were the only ones invited.

Up to the middle of the week Fred Ripley felt rather certain that
he was to be invited. Then, feeling less certain, he went to
Thomp and Badger.

"Say, fellows," began Fred, with a confident air, "I just want
to mention the fact that I haven't received a card to the senior
ball yet."

"Maybe you will, next year," suggested Thomp coolly.

Fred flushed, then went white.

"Oh, very well, if you mean than I'm to be left out," grunted

"I'm afraid, Fred," hinted Badger, "that you were overlooked until
the full number of soph tickets had been issued. It was an oversight,
of course, but I'm afraid it's too late to remedy it."

Fred Ripley went away, furious with anger, for he already knew,
as did everyone else in Gridley H.S., that Dick & Co. were to
be among the elect at the senior ball. And Fred had been so sure
of a card to the ball that he had gone to the length of inviting
Clara Deane to accompany him to the affair. That young lady had
most joyously accepted.

Now, as he walked home with Miss Clara this afternoon, Fred suddenly
broke out:

"I say, Clara, you don't very much mind if we don't go to the
senior ball, do you?"

"Yes," Miss Deane retorted. "Why, what's the matter, Fred. Didn't
you receive an invitation?"

"Of course, I could get an invite," lied young Ripley. "But the
plain truth is, I want to keep out of the affair."

"Why, what's the matter?" asked Clara, gazing at her escort in

"Haven't you heard the news?"

"What news?"

"That mucker crowd, who call themselves Dick &s Co., have been

"There's no harm in that, is there?" asked Clara Deane, quietly.
"Why, they're quite popular young fellows; certainly the best-liked

"Well, _I_ don't like them," retorted Fred, sullenly.

"And so, after inviting me to go to the ball with you, now you're
going to invite me to remain at home instead?"

"Oh, of course, if you really want to go, I'll see about it,"
muttered the sophomore.

But he didn't see about it, nor did Clara Deane again refer to
the matter. However, being an enterprising girl, Miss Deane was
not long in discovering that Fred was not going to the senior
affair for the very good reason that he _couldn't possibly_ get
himself written down on the invitation list.

Apart from the moral side of the question it is rarely worth
while to lie---to a girl, especially.



In one phase of its social life Gridley H.S. was especially sensible.
Since only a few of the boys could be expected to be able to
afford evening dress suits, it was a rule that none, even the
seniors, should appear at any of the class functions in these
fashionable garments.

Hence, Dick & Co., when they arrived with their girl friends,
did not feel out of place on the score of clothes.

Each of the freshmen wore his "Sunday" suit, and each wore a flower
at his lapel.

Unfortunately, no limitations were placed on the dress of the
girls. Therefore, while some rather plain frocks were in evidence,
many of the girls were rather elaborately attired.

Laura Bentley, though her father's means rather permitted, did
not "overdo" in respect of dress. Dick felt sure, however, as
he offered his arm, and conducted her out on the floor, that Laura
was quite the prettiest, sweetest-looking girl there.

All of Dick's chums felt satisfied with their partners of the
evening, for each young man had invited the girl whose company
he was sure to enjoy most.

Somehow, though they did not feel just out of place at the senior
ball, the six young freshmen and their partners, all of the freshman
class, happened to come together at one end of the hall.

"What do you all say," proposed Dick, "if, in the grand march,
we freshies keep together, six couples all in one section?"

"We'll feel more comfortable, surely," grinned Dave Darrin.

"Why? Are you scared?" asked Laura, looking at him archly.

"Not so that the band-leader could notice it," replied Dave.
"Yet I think we'd all be making more noise if this were a freshman

"But the freshmen don't have a dance until just before commencement
time," put in Belle Meade, who was there with Dave.

"Anyway, the seniors are not so very important," laughed Laura.
"the average age of the freshman class is about fourteen or fifteen.
The seniors are only three years older Pooh! Who's afraid?"

"I am," broke in Ben Badger, coming up behind them. "Desperately

"You? Of what?" asked Laura, turning around upon him.

"Afraid that I'm too late to write my autograph on your dance
card," admitted Ben, with a rueful smile.

"But you're a senior," murmured Laura.

"Is that a crime?" demanded Ben, in a tone of wonder.

"Why, we were planning," put in Belle, "that the freshmen boys
and freshmen girls should dance together this evening."

"I see a ray of hope," protested Ben. "I'm going to college,
so I shall be a freshman again next year. Isn't that enough to
entitle me to one---square---dance, anyway?"

Without waiting for another reply, Ben caught up Laura's card,
and looked it over.

"May I have number nine, please?" he begged.

"Yes, thank you," Laura answered, so Badger scribbled his name.

"My hopes are rising," cried Frank Thompson, gliding into the

Thereupon other seniors and juniors came up. It wasn't long before
Dick & Co. had to bestir themselves in order to be sure of having
dances enough with the girls of their own class.

"You can retaliate, you know, by going after some of the girls
of the two upper classes," suggested Laura.

"I don't believe I'll try that," Dick replied. "It's all right
for the upper class boys to want to dance with some of the freshman
girls, especially when the freshman girls are such a charming

"Our thanks!" And six girls bowed low before him.

"But it would be regarded, I'm afraid, as rank impudence, if we
little freshmen wanted to dance with senior or junior girls.
When a freshman is in doubt the tip is 'don't!'"

The orchestra was playing a lively waltz that made most of the
girls and many of the boys tap their feet restlessly.

The perfume of flowers was in the air. Lively chatter and merry
laughter rang out.

"This is the brighter side of school life," murmured Dick,

"One of the brighter sides," suggested Laura. "Your remark, as
you made it, sounds ungrateful. It is a delight to be a High
School student. There are no really dark sides to the life."

"But some sides are much brighter than others," Dick insisted.
"I like study, and am glad I have a chance to go further in it
than most young people get. Yet these class dances give us
something that algebra, or chemistry, or geometry can't supply us."

"This is the brightest spot of the year," put in Tom Reade, in
a low voice. "It must be the brightness of the girls' eyes that
fill this part of the room with so much radiance."

"Bravo!" laughed Laura and Belle together.

"Have you been quiet the last fifteen minutes on purpose to
think that up?" Dave asked enviously.

"Tom can say lots of nicer things than that," spoke up Bessie
Trenholm, half shyly.

"Oh, can he?" demanded Harry Hazelton. "Please search your memory
then, Bessie. Let's have a few specimens of what Tom can say
under the influence of luminous eyes."

Bessie blushed. When she tried to speak she stammered.

"I---I guess I can't remember anything," she pleaded.

Freshman laughter rang out merrily at this. But the waltz had
ended, and now the prompter was calling for the grand march.

"Let's find our places," urged Dan Dalzell.

"We're on the side, so we might as well remain right where we
are," proposed Dick. "That is, unless the floor manager or some
aide comes along and chases us to the rear of the procession."

But no one interfered with the freshmen taking their places in
the line just where they stood.

As the grand march ended the orchestra drew breath once or twice,
then burst forth in a gallop. Dick offered Laura his guidance,
and away they flew together. By the time the gallop ended the
freshman couples were rather well scattered over the hall.

Dick danced well. He enjoyed himself immensely. So did his partners.
Some of the freshman girls finally drifted off with upper class

Toward midnight, Dick, alone, drifted to Dave Darrin and Harry

"I haven't a thing to do, now, for four dances, unless some senior
drops dead," Dick remarked.

"I'm in as bad a plight," admitted Harry.

"And I," nodded Dave.

It wasn't many moments ere the other three partners happened along,
all disengaged.

"We don't want to be wall-flowers," muttered Dick. "It's going
to be more than half an hour from now before any of us are due
to dance again. See here, fellows, what do you say to our getting
our hats and coats and getting out into the air for a while?
A ballroom, isn't the worst place in the world, but I'm so much
a fresh air fellow, that I'm half stifling here."

"Good! Come along to the coatroom, then," nodded Greg Holmes.

"Going home?" asked Laura Bentley, in a tone of protest, as she
whirled by on Thompson's arm and saw Dick & Co. headed for the

She was gone before Dick could answer by word of mouth. But he
saw her regarding him from the other end of the room, and smilingly
shook his head.

"Feels good to be out, doesn't it?" asked Dan Dalzell, as the
freshman sextette struck the open air.

"Yes; but what has happened to the blooming town?" demanded Greg

Even this Main Street of Gridley presented a curious look. It
was a freezingly cold December night and it looked to the freshman
as though the senior ball must be the only live thing left in
the little city.

All the stores were closed, and had been for some time. All lights
were out in the nearest residences. At first the boys thought
they beheld held a policeman standing in front of the First National
Bank, half a block away, but a closer look revealed the fact that
he was only some belated loiterer---the sole human being in sight
save themselves.

"Come off this other way, and let's go down the side street,"
proposed Dick.

"Yes; if we're to find signs of life anywhere, it will have to
be on the smaller side streets," observed Greg Holmes.

Music wafted to them from the hall.

"There's life going on up there," remarked Dave. "We left it
behind us."

"It isn't life," laughed Dick, "when some other fellow is dancing
with your girl."

Along the side street the first corner was at the beginning of
a broad back alley that ran parallel with Main Street.

Along this alleyway they turned.

"By looking up at the windows," suggested Prescott, "we may get
some glimpses of the dance that are not so apparent when you're
up in the hall."

True, as they passed by the rear of the dance hall they caught
some glimpses of moving couples going by the windows, but that
was all.

"And I want to remark," grunted Tom Reade, "that it's cold
outdoors tonight."

"An outdoor fellow like you ought not to mind that," chaffed Dick

"Oh, I'll stand it as long as the rest of you do," challenged

Dick and Dave were in the lead, the other chums coming behind
them in couples.

So Prescott and Dave Darrin were the first to catch a glimpse
down the short lane that led from the alleyway to the back of
one of the buildings.

Here stood a man, with cap drawn well down over his forehead.
He was beside an automobile---a big black touring car.

Dick saw and guessed. He almost jumped. Giving Dave's arm a
quick squeeze, Prescott marched by without appearing to pay any
heed to the man and the autocar.

Once past the lane, Dick kept on walking, but he turned and walked
backwards. He signed to the other four, putting a finger to his
lips for silence.

All six of the chums had guessed swiftly what the man and the
auto, at that particular point, must mean!

"Keep walking, fellows," whispered Dick, as the other startled
freshmen reached him. "And laugh---loudly!"

Their forced laughter rang out. Then Dick, again at the head
with Dave, started in on the first bars of the latest popular
song. Again the chums understood, and joined in with a will.

When he had gone two hundred feet further, Dick countermarched
his little force. Still singing they went back by the head of
the lane, but not one member of Dick & Co. allowed himself to
glance down the lane at man or automobile.

Then the song died out.

"I say, fellows," called Dave Darrin, banteringly, "we'd better
get back to the hall if we don't want to find other fellows going
home with our girls."

"I'll fight before I'll let that happen," proclaimed Dick Prescott.

"Hustle, then!" urged Dan.

Once out of the alleyway and into the side street the freshmen
halted for an instant.

"Fellows," spoke Dick Prescott, "you all know what that means?
One lookout in front of the bank, and another at the rear. An
auto at the rear, too. Greg, you hustle to the police station
as fast as you can make your feet fly. No use trying to find
a place open where you can telephone. Come, the rest of you fellows."

There was a side entrance to the hall from the side street.

Dick and his four remaining chums ran in at this side door, that
the man in front of the bank might not see them.

Up the stairs the freshmen rushed.

"Dave, take care of the orchestra," panted Dick. "The music mustn't
stop for an instant after we get the fellows out."

Something in the looks of the five freshmen, as they burst into
the hall attracted the attention of nearly everyone present.

Dick held up his hand as a sign for the dancing to stop. But
Dave Darrin was already up on the platform, talking in the leader's
ear, and the music did not cease.

As quickly as could be Dick got the upper classmen away from the
girls, at the lower end of the hall.

"What is it? What can be the matter?" all the girls wanted to

But Dick called out, loudly enough to make himself heard:

"Young ladies, it is highly important that the music and the sounds
of moving feet be kept up. Won't you young ladies please dance
with each other until we bet back? Then we'll tell you an interesting
story---if you're good."

In the meantime Tom Reade was telling Thompson, Badger and Edgeworth,
and as many more as could get close enough, what had happened.

"See here, fellows," spoke Thomp, "there's a big chance fer the
crowd to win fun and glory for good old Gridley H.S. Seniors and
Dick & Co. will steal down the alleyway, and be upon that lookout
before he can say 'batter-cakes and coffee.' Juniors and sophs
go in a bunch, prepared to catch the lookout on Main Street.
All get your coats and come softly down the _side_ stairs!"

In many gatherings the speed and comprehension with which all
the Gridley High School boys acted would have been regarded as
marvelous. But they were always in training for athletics. Team
work and the spirit of speed and discipline prevailed among them.

Almost in a jiffy, so it seemed, the masculine part of the senior
dance party was out on the sidewalk of the side street.

"Don't you juniors and sophs show yourselves on Main Street for
a full sixty seconds, unless you hear us raise a row at the back
of the bank," advised Dick.

Somehow, none of the upper classmen seemed to think it strange
for young Prescott thus to take command. He and his chums had
discovered the attempt on the bank, and it seemed natural, just
now, for the freshman leader to lead the whole school.

On tiptoe Dick and his chums led the way into the alley, the seniors
following just as stealthily.

When the freshmen were within thirty feet of the lane Dick Prescott
held up his hand, then signed to all hands to make the grand rush

Just an instant before the High School boys could start, the earth
suddenly shook and swayed under them, while on the frosty night
air there came a great, sullen, fearsome---


That was the explosion designed to blow open the door of the
bank's vault.



In answer, a rousing defiance, the Gridley H.S. yell was roared
out. And by this time, seniors Dick & Co. were in full motion.

"Four---thirteen---eleven!" bellowed Sam Edgeworth.

The football men heard that signal and understood the application
of it.

Though the flying wedge is now no longer tolerated in football,
there are other plays evolved from it, and the signal called for
one. Edgeworth himself formed the point of the wedge.

"Freshies in the center!" he bawled back lustily.

As the High School crowd rushed around the corner, giving their
vocal chords full play, Dick and his chums were hustled inside
of the inverted "V" formation.

It was a human battering ram that launched itself into the
lane---filling that narrow passage, choking it.

One of the bank robbers was still on the lookout duty. At the
first sound he had drawn his revolver, prepared to shoot right
and left. But this avalanche of torsos, arms and legs was more
than the fellow had bargained for.

If it be true that a community can't be indicted, then it is still
truer that a community can't be murdered. The armed rascal gasped
at the magnitude of his task of defense.

In another second he had been bowled clean over off his feet,
and a half a dozen seniors were reaching for his weapon.

As Dick Prescott and his chums got out of the wedge they made
a dash for the automobile.

At that same instant the air bore to them the battle-yell of juniors
and sophs at the front of the bank.

The rear door of the building was yanked hastily open. Two masked
men shot the rays of their bulls-eye lanterns out into the lane,
while their right hands held revolvers.

Bang-bang! Bang-bang!

The rear door slammed, the robbers retreating behind that barrier.

In the first moment the High School boys themselves were a good
deal startled, though they didn't make any effort to run.

Then the news pulsed swiftly through the senior crowd. The noise
hadn't come from pistols. Dick & Co. had shut off any possibility
of automobile flight by falling upon the tires with their pocket
knives. Any robbers that could bluff their way through the crowd
and start the engine would have to hobble along on flat tires!

The rear lookout of the robber band was now a safe prisoner in
the hands of four stalwart seniors. Ben Badger had the fellow's

Out in front of the bank the juniors and sophs held the enemy
at bay inside. The lookout, after trying to hold up the rush
at the point of the pistol, had turned without firing, and had
tried to get away. But four of the juniors had sprinted after
him and caught him.

Thus the forces stood. Inside the bank building were at least
two of the robbers, armed and presumably desperate. Yet they
knew they couldn't shoot their way out through a multitude, either
at the front or the back of the building.

On the other hand, the High School boys didn't care about rushing
into a darkness that was held by armed men.

Thus the opposing sides stood holding each other at bay until
new actors came upon the scene---the police reserves.

Four officers ran to the front of the bank. Chief Coy and four
more appeared in the lane among the High School boys.

"Now, young gentlemen, jump out, if you please!" rang the chief's
order, "We've got to get inside at those fellows, and there may
be a good many bullets flying."

"Huh!" objected Thomp. "We penned that gang up for you. Now,
are you going to chase us off just as the real fun starts?"

"If you stay, it'll be at your own risk, then," answered Chief
Coy, with a rather pleased grin, for he had followed the fortunes
of Gridley H.S. on the football gridiron, and well enough he knew
the school grit.

Pushing their way through, the police made their way to the closed
rear door.

"Within, there!" summoned Coy, knocking lustily on the door.
"You are surrounded, and may as well give up. Open the door,
and come out, and you'll be safe."

There was a pause. Then a gruff voice demanded:

"If we open you don't fire on us?"

"Not if you come out with your hands held up high."

"All right, then. Give us time to open the door."

The light from the police dark lanterns played on the door as
it swung open. Then two very crestfallen robbers, holding their
hands well aloft, came out on the steps.

The windows of the hall, some distance away, had been thrown up.
A lot of white-gowned girls, some with covered heads, and some
not, looked wonderingly out at the spot lighted up by the dark

Chief Coy and two of his officers quickly entered the bank. It
was ten minutes before they reappeared.

"Somebody has done us the good turn of discovering this thing
just in time tonight," announced Coy, with a grave face. "The
vault door is blown entirely off, and the vault is stacked high
with sacks of money. Who first discovered this thing anyway?"

"Don't you know?" called Ben Badger.

From a score of throats at once the information broke forth:

"Dick & Co.!"

"It'll be a good night's work for Dick & Co., then, when the bank
directors meet" declared Chief Coy. "In three or four minutes
more these robbers would have been going sixty miles an hour with
an automobile loaded down to the guards with real money!"

The police party being large enough to take care of everything,
it was not many minutes more before the High School boys were
back in the hall. It took half an hour, however, for the young
men to gratify the natural curiosity of the girls. At last the
orchestra leader, tiring of the long delay, passed the word to
his musicians. Then the music pealed out for that good, stirring
old eulogy:

"For he's a jolly good fellow!"

In an instant bright-faced boys and girls caught up the refrain,
making the hall shake with the din of their voices.

In the midst of it Thomp and Badger made a rush for Dick Prescott,
caught him, and rushed him to the platform. But they had to hold
him there.

"Speech! speech!" roared the boy and girl assemblage. There
was a volley of hand-clapping.

But Dick, as soon as he could make himself heard, responded:

"You've got my number---nothing but the freshman class. When
a freshman is in doubt he doesn't dare do it!"

Suddenly turning, Dick bolted for the floor once more. Then the
next number on the dance programme began, and laughter reigned.

But these events had not been in the dance programme, and it was
now late. For an hour or more the chaperons had been fretting,
so they brought the dance to a close. Then followed the merry
bustle of departure, the hasty goodbyes, the rattling of wheels
through the sleeping town and all was quiet in Gridley.

But many a household was awakened to hear the story of the attempted
burglary and the part that Dick & Co. had taken in preventing



It isn't all play in a High School. A vast amount of study has
to be mastered. There are nerve-racking examinations. It is
a tremendously busy life despite its sport.

So here we would better take leave of Gridley H.S. so far as this
volume is concerned.

It was soon known that, had not Dick & Co. taken their little
walk the robbers would have gotten away with one hundred and twenty
thousand dollars in cash.

As it was, however, all four men were in the police toils, and
they were presently sent to the penitentiary, where they are serving
long terms.

The bank directors _did_ vote to reward the H.S. boys as
individuals, but Dick & Co. and all the upper classmen refused
to accept anything for their own pockets.

In despair, the directors finally hit upon the scheme of subscribing
one thousand dollars to the funds of the Athletics Committee.

The catching of the bank robbers solved the nitroglycerine mystery.
One of the safe-blowing quartette was recognized by the police
as having been in Gridley at the time when that nitroglycerine
package was received at the express office. Had they gotten their
box in safety the robbers would have entered the bank that night,
and there might have been a different story---one of great loss
to the bank.

Fred Ripley? His further story belongs to the following volume.

Dick & Co. went through their freshman year with credit all around.

When next we meet them we shall find them sophomores, with all
the privileges of upper classmen. We shall meet these young sophomores
in a sparkling tale of High School life and doings, ambitions
and work, sports and pastimes. The next volume will be published
under the title: "_The High School Pitcher; or Dick & Co. on the
Gridley Diamond_." This will be a rousing story of baseball in
particular, but likewise replete with other situations of absorbing
interest to all high school boys and girls.



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