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   Chapter 21 THANKS SERVED WITH HATE

The High School Freshmen; or, Dick & Co.'s First Year Pranks and Sports By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 8134

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


It didn't take long for the Gridley boys who were most interested in athletics to figure up that three out of the eight prizes offered had gone to the freshman class.

More than that, the three freshmen winners were all members of the firm of Dick & Co., Limited.

"Saturday's work, and some other things, show us that Dick & Co. are going to be heard from a whole lot in the athletics of future years at this school," Ben told Dick at recess Monday morning. "Whew! But I'm sorry I'm not going to be here to watch the progress of you freshmen!"

Monday afternoon, while he was eating the midday meal, just after school had been dismissed, Dick received, by messenger, a note from Lawyer Ripley, asking the young freshman to call at his office at three o'clock.

Though actually retired, the wealthy lawyer maintained an office in one of the big buildings on Main Street. To this office Mr. Ripley went once in a while, to transact business.

"As I haven't a dollar in the world," smiled young Prescott, "it is hardly likely that he has been engaged to bring a suit against me. Oh, hang it, I know! He means to thank me for hauling Fred out of the water. What an infernal nuisance!"

For a few minutes Dick was inclined to disregard the invitation.

He spoke to his mother about it.

"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 lawyer 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.

Ripley."

"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 office.

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 him.

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.

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