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   Chapter 22 THE ONLY FRESHMEN AT THE SENIOR BALL

The High School Freshmen; or, Dick & Co.'s First Year Pranks and Sports By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 8083

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


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

"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 mortification.

"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

Ripley.

"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 astonishment.

"Haven't you heard the news?"

"What news?"

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

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

"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.

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