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The High School Freshmen; or, Dick & Co.'s First Year Pranks and Sports By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 14074

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

So suddenly and heavily did he break through the thin ice that

Dick went underneath the surface.

"Help!" roared Fred, in a frenzy, as he came to the surface.

The skates on his feet clogged all his movements, and acted like lead.

"There's Ripley, but where's Prescott?" shouted several.


That last cry went up as a sound of relief, when Prescott's brown-haired pate, hatless, bobbed up close to where he had gone down.

"Good boy, Prescott!"

"Go in and get Ripley."

"Save yourself, anyway! Don't be over-foolish!"

A dozen more cries went up from cove and shore.

Yet it is doubtful if Prescott heard any of them.

In the first instant that his eyes came above the level of the water, Dick took in the details of Ripley's whereabouts.

Dick had to calculate at lightning speed.

"O Prescott," gasped Fred, when he saw his would-be rescuer, "can't you break the ice between us? I can't keep up much longer."

"Get hold of the edge of the ice, Ripley," called Dick. "Just rest lightly on it. Don't try to make it bear your weight--it won't! It'll help hold you up, though, if you keep cool."

"Cool?" groaned Fred. "I'm freezing. In pity's name get to me quickly."

Fred was so wholly self-centered that it didn't occur to him that the freshman must be just as chilled as he himself was.

Dick's legs ached with the cold chill of the icy water. He was free of the weight of skates, however, and he trod water during the few seconds that he needed for making up his mind what it was best to do.

Much depended upon the help that those on shore gave, but Dick had left his orders with Dave Darrin, and he trusted the shore end to his capable lieutenant.

Fred, though hardly more than able to keep himself afloat, managed to reach the nearest edge of ice.

He clutched at it eagerly, then, disregarding excellent advice, he tried to climb out upon it.

There was another crash. With another yell, Ripley sank again, to the horror of those on shore.

But Prescott did not see this. The freshman, after trying to calculate the exact distance across the intervening ice, dived below the glassy surface. He was swimming, now, under the ice. As he swam the freshman kept his eyes open, swimming close to the ice, yet not touching it.

So he came up, in the open. But where was Fred?

"Ripley just sank!" came the hoarse chorus from shore and cove.

This was serious enough. He who sinks for the second time in icy waters, especially when hampered by skates, may very likely not come up again.

"It must have been about here that he went down," calculated Prescott, deliberately, as he swam through the open water. "Now, then!"

Down went Dick. To those looking on, it was heroic--sublime?

Yet it looked as though the rescuer must be dooming himself.

"One Prescott is worth a dozen Ripleys" murmured one man who, unable to swim, was obliged to stand looking uselessly on.

There were still many who were shouting confusing advice as to what others ought to do. A few were even running about trying to do something.

Dave Darrin was actually "on the job."

He had pressed Dick's other partners into service and as many of the High School boys as possible. They got off their skates in a rush.

"Tom," shouted Dave, "you and Greg get some of the fellows and rush down as many ties as you can from that pile by the railroad tracks. Dalzell, you and Harry get down at the edge of send him your way. Make a raft by laying four ties side by side, and lash the ends. Do it as quick as a flash. I'll be there by that time."

Tom and Greg quickly had a dozen men running for railroad ties, a pile of which stood less than an eighth of a mile away.

By the time that the man with ropes arrived, and two more behind him, bringing more, there were a dozen railroad ties on the ice by the outer edge of the cove. Harry Hazelton and Dan snatched short lengths of rope and knotted them around either end of the raft.

"Some of you men make another raft, just like that one!" shouted Dave, who, at the time, was busily engaged in making a noose at one end of a long coil of half-inch rope.

"Here, you two men get hold of the other end of this," ordered

Dave, running up with the coil of rope.

Then, hardly waiting to make sure that they had the rope, Dave turned to Harry and Dan, calling to them to help him push the raft out beyond the cove. A dozen men and boys tried to help, all at once, but Dave and Harry saw to it that no speed was lost by blundering.

The raft was not difficult to push out over the ice.

"Now, let me have it alone," shouted Dave. "The ice may break at any point beyond."

So Dave tugged and pushed, guiding the small raft before him.

Cra-ack! Dave and the raft went through the ice, but Darrin quickly climbed up astride of the ties.

Out beyond, Dick was holding up Fred Ripley, whom he had found and brought to the surface. Fred's eyes were nearly closed. After his second drop below, the Ripley lad was nearly spent.

Glancing back, Dave saw that another raft was being pushed out by the two men who held the rope that was noosed under his shoulders.

"Now, halt where you are!" Dave Darrin shouted back. "Toss me a long rope that I can throw out to Prescott!"

The rope came swirling. Dave caught it easily enough. Then, still sitting on the raft, his legs, of course, in the water, Darrin recoiled the rope.

"Can you spare a hand to catch, Dick?" shouted Dave.

"Surely!" came back the steady answer.

The coil flew out across the thin ice. One end splashed in the water. Guiding the all but helpless Fred, Dick swam to the rope's end.

Further back the two men who held to the rope connecting with Dave had seated themselves across the second raft. If the ice broke at that point they would have little difficulty in making themselves safe.

"Ripley, stir yourself!" ordered Dick. "Can you take hold of this rope, and keep hold of it" Can you climb across the thin ice, holding onto the rope and being towed if the ice breaks?"

"I--I--I'm afraid," chattered Ripley. "You come with me!"

"It'll be a good deal easier if you can go first, and alone," spoke the freshman, rather sternly. "I think I can keep myself afloat until you get over to solid ice. Then the rope can be thrown back to me."

"I'm afraid, I tell you," insisted Fred, his teeth clicking against each other. "Can't you see that I'm all in?"

"You'll have us both all in, if you don't get some courage together," young Prescott insisted. "Come, be a man, Ripley!"

"I'm freezing to death here," moaned Ripley, closing his eyes.

Somehow--he could never tell just how, afterwards, Dick managed to slip the rope under Fred's shoulders. With infinite effort--for he had to keep them both afloat, the freshman double-knotted the rope.

"Come, now, you've got to help yourself across the ice, while

Dave hauls on the line," urged Dick.

Fred made a motion as though to bestir himself but he did it so feebly that Prescot

t gave him a sharp pinch.

"Ouch!" flared Fred, now seeming to be wide awake. "Prescott, you have the upper hand here. Don't be a bully!"

"I don't want to," spoke Dick, quietly, trying to keep his own teeth from rattling. "But you've got to stir yourself, or else I must do it for you. Now, get started over the thin ice. Dave will haul. Never mind if the ice breaks under you; the rope is tied around you. You're sure to be hauled to safety if you help yourself. Now, then, Dave! Begin to haul in!"

It needed another pinch to make Fred Ripley bestir himself properly.

He half whimpered in protest, but Prescott was past minding that.

Hardly had Ripley gotten his full weight upon the ice than it broke under him. He splashed into the water with a great howl, but alert Dave Darrin hauled in just enough of the rope. Ripley was safe, and could make the next attempt to get out on the ice.

Meanwhile, Prescott swam to another part of the ice edge. He rested his hands on that edge, not heavily, but just enough for some support. At the same time he kept his tired, aching, almost frozen legs in motion just to keep himself from growing any more numb.

Four times Fred Ripley broke through the thin ice, but each time Dave Darrin, astride the first raft, pulled in on the rope just in time.

After getting himself out of the water for the fifth time, Ripley crawled over stronger ice, and went on past the hole in which Dave sat on the raft.

Then Ripley was able to get to his feet, tottering toward the shore, shaking as though with fever and chills.

A cheer went up from those who watched. The enthusiasm would have been vastly greater had not the crowd had its eyes on Dick Prescott, who must yet be saved if aid could reach him before his numbed limbs could sustain him no longer.

"Get that rope off, Ripley," bawled Dave Darrin. "Hurry! I must throw it to Dick, or he'll go down!"

"I can't get it off," mumbled Fred, tugging vainly, almost aimlessly, as he still moved coveward.

As he was on staunch ice, now, three or four men ran toward him. One, with a sharp knife, waved the others away and quickly slashed the noose away from Fred's shoulders.

"Go on, you pup!" grumbled the man with the knife. "Now, we'll try to get help to the man!"

Fred was not too far spent to flash angrily at that taunt.

"You'd better be careful whom you speak to like that!" snarled

Ripley. "You're a low-bred fellow, anyway!"

But the man who had slashed the rope free didn't even hear. He had turned toward Darrin, to make sure that Dave could draw the rope toward him fast enough.

"One of you people get Ripley's skates off for him, and help him ashore," called Tom Reade.

"Why don't you?" some one in the crowd answered.

"Because my job," retorted Reade, "is keeping my eyes on my chum, ready to help if anything comes up that I can do."

Four or five hurried to Fred's aid. He had been walking on his skates, which, at best, is an awkward style of locomotion. Two men held him up, while two of the H.S. boys quickly took off his skates. After that Fred, leaning on one of the H.S. boys, made much quicker time to the shore.

Here a man with a sleigh waited.

"Pile him in here," directed the driver. "Dr. Gilbert has gone up to the Avery House and is getting things ready. I'll have Ripley back in a jiffy."

"Oh, that's all right," sang out a boy in the freshman class.

"But the main thing is to hustle back and be ready to take Dick


"And I'll pray all through the round trip that you may get Prescott back to shore alive," fervently replied the driver, as he brought the whip down across the horse's back.

Dave Darrin, too, was chilled. That was why, when he had drawn all the rope in and had coiled it, he made a throw that fell short.

"Courage, Dick, old fellow," he shouted. "I'll get it to you, in a jiffy."

Nervously, quickly, Dave hauled in the rope. He coiled rapidly, yet with care.

"Now, may Heaven give me the strength to throw this coil far enough to do the trick!" prayed Dave Darrin, as he made the second cast.

There was frenzy behind that throw. Hurrah! There was four feet of rope to spare as it splashed into the open part where Dick still hung, though he was fast weakening.

"There's a noose on the end--I fixed it, Dick! Get it over your head and under your shoulders!" bawled Dave Darrin.

It was only the coolness of a last desperate hope that enabled the freshman to adjust the noose sufficiently.

"All r-r-r-i-ight!" he called, unable to make any further effort to stop the rattling of his teeth.

"Come on, then!" cheered Dave.

It was team play between two freshmen, but it was worked out. Dick, after a while, reached solid ice. Tom Reade and Dan Dalzell risked themselves a good deal in going far out to meet him. But they got their leader and rushed him toward the cove.

Soon a dozen H.S. boys were running around Dick. Some of them had him upon their shoulders; others were trying to help.

As they rushed him across the cove to the sleigh that had just arrived, the cheering was deafening.

Others in the crowd had already run up along the road, which was lined as Dick and Darrin were driven along as fast as the horse could go. Tom Reade stood on the runners behind. As soon as the door of the hotel was reached, Reade aided the driver in rushing the boys inside.

Even here the cheering followed them in volleys.

"Come on--into a cold room with you, at first," ordered Dr. Gilbert, appearing, while a dozen H.S. boys came in his wake. "You don't want to get near a fire yet. Strip them, both, lads, and rub them down for all you're worth. Don't mind peeling a little skin off!"

Dick and Dave were rushed into a room. With so many hands to help, they were soon stripped. Then rough Turkish towels were plied upon them until even their skins began to show the red of blood and life.

"Now, wrap blankets about them, and bring them into a warm room," ordered the doctor.

As they entered the other room they espied Fred Ripley, already seated in an arm-chair by the stove, a bowl of something hot in one hand.

The driver of the sleigh now came in.

"You lads will want something warm and dry to put on," he declared. "Give me your orders. The distance isn't far. I'll drive to your homes and get the clothes and things that you want."

"No, thank you," returned Ripley, stiffly. "I've already had a telephone message sent, and my father's auto will bring out what I need."

"But you youngsters will want something?" asked the driver, turning to the plucky freshmen.

Dick and Dave stated their requests, Prescott adding:

"But please be sure to make our parents understand that we're safe. We don't want them seared to death."

Fred Ripley took a long swallow of the steaming stuff in his bowl. As he did so he took a furtive glance in the direction of the freshmen.

Was he going to attempt to thank them for having risked their own lives to help him back to safety?

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