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CHAPTER XV


WHAT MIKE MARCY HAD TO TELL


It was Murphy the monitor who let the assistant teacher in. Job Haskers entered stamping his feet loudly, for they were decidedly cold.

"Why, Mr. Haskers, what does this mean?" asked the monitor, in amazement. "I didn't know you were out. And in slippers, too!"

"I—er—I——" stammered the teacher, and then he stopped, for he did not know how to proceed. He realized that he occupied a very ridiculous position.

"Can I do anything for you?" went on the monitor.

"Murphy, have you seen any boys come in since lights were out?"

"No, sir."

"Nobody at all?"

"Not a soul."

"It is queer. They must have come in, and finding me asleep——" Job Haskers did not finish.

"Where were you asleep, sir?"

"Never mind—if you saw nobody. But listen, I want you to make the rounds, and see if every boy is in his dormitory. If any are absent, report to me in my room at once."

"Yes, sir," returned the monitor, and hurried off.

"He'll not find us missing," whispered Dave. "All hands in bed and eyes shut. No fooling now, for if you are caught something serious may happen."

The others understood, and when Jim Murphy came with a light to look into dormitories No. 11 and No. 12 he found every lad tucked in under the blankets and looking as if he had been slumbering for several hours.

"That was what I call a narrow escape," whispered Phil, after the monitor had departed. "Somebody surely spied on us."

"We'll look into the matter to-morrow," answered Luke Watson. "I'm in for sleep now." And a little later all the lads were in the land of dreams.

The next morning the members of the Gee Eyes looked for an investigation from Job Haskers, but no such thing occurred. The fact of the matter was that the teacher realized fully what a joke had been played on him while he was asleep, and he was afraid to stir the matter up for fear the entire school would be laughing at him. He made a few very cautious inquiries, which gave him no clew, and then, for the time being, dropped the matter.

The Gee Eyes were anxious to know how the Soden brothers had gotten out of the closet at the old boathouse, and were amazed when the answer came.

"Why, two of you fellows came back and let us out," said Henry Soden.

"Let you out?" asked Buster Beggs.

"Yes."

"One of the fellows said that Mr. Haskers was onto the game and that no initiations would be attempted," explained Joe Soden. "He said we had better get back to our dormitory as quickly as we could, so we scooted."

"Who were those chaps?" demanded Dave.

"I don't know. They wore their coats inside out and big paper bags over their heads."

"They were no members of the Gee Eyes," said Phil. "They were some outsiders who wanted to spoil our fun."

"Well, I must confess we were glad enough to get out of the closet,—it was so cold," said Henry Soden. "But just the same I shouldn't have run away if I had known the truth. Both of us are anxious to join your club."

"I'll tell you what I think," said Dave. "It was a put-up job all around. Some enemy told Mike Marcy about ghosts, sent word to old Haskers to be on guard, and released Joe and Henry."

"If that is true, we want to find out who that enemy was," answered Roger. "No student of Oak Hall can play such a trick on the Gee Eyes without suffering for it."

"So say we all of us!" sang out several.

"I have a plan," went on Dave. "Let us lay for that hired boy of Marcy's—the lad called Billy. Maybe he can tell us who told Marcy—if anybody did tell him." And so it was arranged.

The opportunity to interview the farm boy Billy did not occur until about a week later, when Dave and Ben Basswood were walking to Oakdale to buy some film rolls for their cameras. They took a side road leading past the Marcy farm, and caught sight of Billy down by a cowshed and beckoned to him.

"Is your name Billy?" asked Dave, kindly, for he could easily see that the lad was somewhat simple-minded, by the way he clasped and unclasped his hands, twisted his shoulders, and twitched his mouth.

"Yes, Billy Sankers, from Lundytown," was the boy's reply.

"Do you work for Mr. Marcy?"

"Do I? Sure I do—an' he works for me," and Billy grinned at what he thought was a joke.

"You went after ghosts the other night, didn't you?" continued Dave.

"Yes, we did, an' we bagged a lot of 'em, too—shot 'em full of holes an' they disappeared into the sky," and the poor deluded boy began to wave his arms as if flying.

Who told Mr. Marcy that the ghosts were coming?" asked Ben.

"Two boys from the school over there," and now Billy jerked his thumb in the direction of Oak Hall. "They said to keep still about it, but what's the use? The ghosts are shot full of holes, shot full of holes, holes, holes!"

"Did you know the boys?" asked Dave.

At this question Billy shook his head. "I don't go to school there—I know too much. Maybe some day I'll go over and teach the teachers. One boy called the other Nat," he added, suddenly.

"Nat!" cried Dave. He turned to his chum. "Can it have been Nat Poole?"

"That's it, Nat Poole!" cried Billy. "You're a wise owl to guess it."

"What was the other boy called?" continued Ben.

"Called? Nothing. Yes, he was, too, he was called Link. That's it, Link, Blink, Hink! Funny name, eh?"

"Link!" cried Dave. "Can it have been Link Merwell?"

"More than likely," answered his chum. "Nat and Link travel together, and both are down on our crowd."

"Did they tell Mr. Marcy that the ghosts would be schoolboys?" asked Dave.

"No, ghosts," answered Billy, nodding his head gravely. "They told Mike an' he told me, an' we got the shotguns to scare 'em off. Mike don't want ghosts around this place."

"Here comes Mike Marcy now," whispered Ben. "Had we better get out? "

"I'll not run for him," was Dave's answer.

"Sure, an' what do you fellers want here?" demanded the big, brawny Irish-American farmer as he strode up, horsewhip in hand.

"Mr. Marcy, we want to have a talk with you," said Dave, coldly. "I guess you remember me."

"I do. You're the lad I once had locked up in my smokehouse," and the farmer grinned slightly.

"Yes. But I am not here about that now,—nor am I here to tell you that I was one of the boys that found your mule when he was lost and sent you word. I am here to ask you about the shooting that took place about a week ago."

"Shooting!"

"Exactly. Who were the boys who came here and told you to go to the end of your farm and shoot at a lot of innocent lads having a little fun by themselves?"

"Why—er—— See here, what do you mean?" blustered Mike Marcy.

"I mean just what I say, Mr. Marcy, and I want you to answer my question."

"Eh! Say, do you see this whip?" stormed the farmer. "I'll let ye taste it in a minit!"

"You'll do nothing of the kind," answered Dave, coolly. "I ask you a question and you must answer it. This is a serious business. You fired three shots at a crowd of innocent schoolboys who were harming nobody. You cannot deny it."

"They were on my land."

"Some of them were on the road, and they were doing absolutely no harm. You merely fired at them out of pure ugliness."

"See here, do ye want this?" And now the horsewhip was raised.

"If you strike either of us, I shall at once have you arrested. How many students do you suppose are now in bed under the doctor's care because of the shooting you did?"

At this question Mike Marcy turned suddenly pale.

"I—er—was anybody hurt? I—er—I fired into the air—just to scare 'em," he faltered.

"I ask you a question and I want you to answer it, and you had better do it unless you want to get into more trouble. Who told you to go out and do the shooting?"

"We want their names and we are bound to have them," put in Ben, following up Dave's bold manner, now that he saw the farmer was growing uneasy.

"The boys were named Nat Poole and Link Merwell. But they wanted their names kept secret."

"What did they tell you?"

"They said a lot of the toughest lads in the school were going to disguise themselves an' come down here and cut up like Indians, and maybe rob me of some chickens, an' I had better be on the watch for 'em. One said I might scare 'em by saying I saw ghosts, and I said that was a good idee. So I called Billy an' told him about the ghosts, an' we got the shotguns. But as true as I stand here I shot up into the air. I didn't want to hit anybody, an' if any lad got as much as one shot in him I'm sorry."

"That is all we want to know, Mr. Marcy," returned Dave. "We thank you for the information," and he started to walk away, followed by Ben.

"But see here—if anybody is hurted——" cried Mike Marcy. "Sure, I don't want trouble——"

"We won't say any more about it—since you didn't mean to hit anybody," answered Dave. "But after this never shoot at us again."

"I won't, ye can be certain of that," answered the farmer, with a sigh of relief.

"And another thing, Mr. Marcy," added Ben. "If you see Nat Poole or Link Merwell do not tell them that you saw us or told us the truth."

"I'll remember." And with this promise from the farmer the boys took their departure. But they had not gone a hundred feet when Mike Marcy came running after them.

"Tell me," said he; "was anybody really hit?"

"Nobody was seriously hurt," answered Dave. "But you scared some of the boys nearly to death, and they tumbled all over the rocks and bushes, in trying to get out of range of the shots."

"I see. Well, I won't do any more shooting," answered Mike Marcy, and walked back to his house, looking very thoughtful.

"It is just as we supposed," said Dave, when he and his chum were alone. "Nat Poole and Link Merwell are responsible for everything. They got Marcy to do the shooting, released the Soden brothers, and somehow put Haskers on guard."

"Well, the Gee Eyes will have to square accounts with them," replied Ben. "We'll make a report at the next meeting of the club, and then the club can take what action it likes in the matter. For my part, I think such sneaks ought to be drummed out of the school."

"And I agree with you, Ben. But let me tell you one thing. Link Merwell is ten times worse than Nat Poole. Nat is a dude and a fool and easily led around by others, but Link Merwell is a knave, as black-hearted as any boy I can name. Look out for him, or when you least expect it he will play you foul."