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   Chapter 24 THE CAPTURE OF THE BANK ROBBERS

The High School Freshmen; or, Dick & Co.'s First Year Pranks and Sports By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 6804

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


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 revolver.

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 lanterns.

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.

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