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   Chapter 20 CONCLUSION

Dick Prescott's First Year at West Point; Or, Two Chums in the Cadet Gray By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 6570

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Dick Prescott and a dozen other plebes who had football hopes had a spent a delightful evening in Lieutenant Pierson's quarters. They left rather early, nevertheless.

"Come to my room and talk things over, Anstey," urged Dick.

"We've time before taps."

Dick ran ahead to turn on the light while Anstey mounted the stairs slowly. As he entered the room, Prescott could see from the light that entered from the corridor some one crouched over by the fireplace.

"Have I a visitor?" said Dick pleasantly. "Wait till I get a look at you."

To have run from the room would have been a confession of guilt. Moreover, Dodge heard the mounting steps of Anstey outside. So he stayed while Dick turned on the light.

"It's Dodge!" exclaimed Dick. "At last accounts you were in hospital. I'm glad you're better," the cadet went on coldly.

"I slipped out of hospital," whispered Dodge. "Don't give me away,

Prescott. I'd like to get back without being seen by any one else."

"What's up?"

"Don't keep me," said Bert nervously.

"What were you doing in this room?" asked Dick, becoming suspicious.

"I forgot that Holmes was away and came to see him."

"When you found the room dark did you still think Greg was here?"

"Don't keep me now. You don't want to see me skinned, do you?"

"What were you doing by the fireplace?"

"Why-why-"

"Were you aware that in days past plebes who occupied this room had pried up two of the bricks from the base of the fireplace and had a hiding cubby there?"

"Of course not! What do you take me for?" Anstey had come to the doorway, but stayed there, blocking the passage. Prescott stepped to the fireplace and stooped as though to look under the loose bricks. Dodge, in a panic, got there before him and pulled out some papers.

"I was trying to play a prank on you and Holmes. As you've forestalled it, I don't think I'll let you know what it was," and Dodge struck a match and set the papers on fire, throwing them into the fireplace.

"Perhaps you don't mind letting me enjoy your int'resting joke with you, Mr. Dodge," drawled Anstey, coming into the room.

"It wouldn't interest you, Mr. Anstey. Its foundation lies in by-gone days back in Gridley," floundered Dodge.

"At any rate, your fire has destroyed the-ah-joke. Will you assure me, Mr. Dodge, that the joke was only a good-natured one?" asked Dick Prescott, eyeing Dodge sternly.

"I assure you of that on my honor as a cadet and a gentleman," said

Dodge stiffly.

"Very well then. And now good-night." The plebe who had just perjured himself turned from Prescott toward Anstey. He saw that the Virginian did not believe him.

"Just a word, Mr. Dodge," put in Anstey. "As we are near the end of the barracks year I will not ask for a new roommate. But when we come back from the summer encampment I will see to it that my roommate is some one else."

Bert Dodge paled, then flushed crimson. "Am I entitled to a reason for that, Anstey?"

"Mister Anstey, if you please, now and always hereafter."

"Certainly, Mr. Anstey. May I ask your reason for desiring a new roommate?"

"I think I need not give my reason, Mr. Dodge," and Anstey turned his back.

Bert Dodge got out of the room somehow and made his way back to the hospital w

ard through the back door. Dick Prescott never learned what the "joke" was. But Dodge, back in the hospital bed, muttered:

"An anonymous letter to the superintendent of the K.C. would have fixed things and the papers would have been found! Queer that Dick Prescott always comes out on top."

It occasionally happens that an unworthy cadet leaves West Point without charges against him having been heard and passed on by the authorities. Each class in the United States Military Academy is censor of the honor of its own members. Let a cadet be found out in a lie or other dishonorable act; and he is so avoided by his comrades that he is glad to leave the Academy. It was this power of his fellow cadets that made Dodge shiver as he lay sleepless in the hospital ward.

Cadet Holmes returned to duty and was greeted hilariously by his many friends. He was even envied, in disregard of the sad event that had given him his leave.

"You fellows make me tired," grumbled Greg. "My trip has convinced me that I'd sooner tote the water bucket at West Point than own a steam yacht and an automobile anywhere else."

Greg's fellow plebes gave a yell of approval, and even some of the upper class men nodded approvingly, if somewhat haughtily.

Hard work went on; for these were anxious days for the plebes. Would some of them be dropped at the end of this first year? No one felt certain of his merits, and all worked and studied to the exclusion of most other thoughts. But at last came the general review, then the information for which all waited was posted.

"I'm satisfied," sighed Dick, after reading the lists.

Greg's work, too, had been satisfactory, as had that of Anstey. Bert Dodge, also, had got creditably past the examiners. But eighteen of the plebes were dropped.

All the first-class men passed. So now came joyous days for all the cadets except the lowly plebes, whose only participation in the gay times that take place at this season is to stand on one side and watch.

But the night of the graduation hop came and went. The day following this was the graduation of the first class.

On the evening of this day Anstey dropped in to see Dick and Greg in their room.

"Hullo, old ramrod, and you, Holmesy! Are you pondering on the fact that you'll be an exalted yearling to-morrow?"

"I don't believe the yearling himself feels exalted-it's only the plebe that puts him on a high seat. The yearling probably looks with longing to the next and the next and the next," laughed Greg.

"Oh, I don't know. Not longing," put in Dick. "I should not want to stay here always, of course. One looks forward to shouldering real responsibilities. But I'm going to enjoy every year as I go along and not wish for the next and the next."

"Just the same, the 'next' comes," replied Anstey as he said good-night and left the room.

A little later a drum sounded at the inner entrance of the north sally port. The subdivision inspector was coming-had gone.

"Greg," whispered Cadet Prescott.

"Yes, old ramrod?"

"To-morrow will be yearling camp for us!"

What happened there and during the following year will be told in the next volume, entitled "DICK PRESCOTT'S SECOND YEAR AT WEST POINT, or, Finding the Glory of the Soldier's Life."

THE END

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