The Wizard of the Sea/Chapter 5


CHAPTER I.

HOKE UMMER'S TREACHERY.


Our hero succeeded on the following Monday in getting a quantity of cake, pie, and other stuff from town and hiding them in an unoccupied bedroom.

He was also promised a dozen bottles of root beer and soda water, but these he was unable to smuggle into the school, owing to the watchfulness of Captain Hooper and his assistants.

Accordingly, he hid the stuff in the bushes near the lake, and decided to go after it late at night.

He unfolded his plan to Link, Barry, and Carl Barnaby, and this plan was overheard by Hoke Ummer.

Next to the empty bedroom was a window overlooking the side playground. From this window Mont decided to reach the ground by aid of a long rope.

This was the only way to get out, as after nine o'clock all the doors and windows below were locked in such a fashion they could not be opened.

That evening our hero, with a light heart, repaired to the empty bedroom.

Opening the boxful of stuff, he spread out upon a tablecloth of newspapers a prettily decorated ham, a couple of cold roast chickens, a fine apple pie, a quantity of mince pies, and a varied assortment of choice fruits and cake.

All these arranged to his satisfaction, he looked at his watch, and then sat down and waited.

It was just half-past eight, and in another half-hour servants and masters would all have retired for the night.

After what appeared to the watcher to be an age the great school clock tolled solemnly out the hour of nine.

Then Mont drew out a thick rope from beneath the bed and left the room.

Soon he was at the window.

Throwing up the lower sash, our hero fastened one end of the rope securely and threw the other out.

"Just the right length," he said, and then he swung himself over the window sill. "I'll soon have the rest of the stuff up."

The door of one of the spare bedrooms was opened, and Ummer stepped into the corridor.

As the light of the moon fell upon his face it looked strangely white and ghastly.

His lips were tightly compressed and his eyes had in them a horrible glare as he stepped stealthily but quickly to the window.

Arrived there, he crouched low down that he might not be seen by any person outside.

Then, with deft fingers, he untied the knot by which the rope was secured.

There was heard a loud, wild cry, followed by a dull, heavy thud.

Then all was still.

The bully crept away along the corridor and down the stairs, his heart beating as though it would burst its bounds.

A little before twelve o'clock that night several dark figures might have been seen stealing cautiously along the corridors.

All these figures made their way to one common spot.

This was the bedroom Mont had mentioned.

Arrived there, they found everything prepared for the feast, but no host.

"What a strange thing for Mont to do," said Carl Barnaby; "to invite us all here and not be present."

"It isn't very gentlemanly of him," submitted Barry.

"You talk like a fool," said Link. "Something must have happened to him."

"I saw him at supper, and he was all right then."

"Perhaps some of the tramps have waylaid him on the road," suggested another boy, who had been sitting very white and very quiet, in one corner of the room.

Everyone turned to the speaker.

"Mine cracious, dot's so," put in Sam Schump. "Besser we go an' see?"

Without delay a search was begun.

A rope was procured, and Link was the first person out of the window.

"Hullo!"

"What's up?" asked those above.

"Bring a light. Mont has fallen and hurt himself."

A light was quickly procured, and one after another the boys came down the rope.

Our hero lay at the foot of a large lilac bush.

It was this bush which had saved his life.

When the rope gave way, had he fallen on the ground he would most likely have been killed.

Link brought some water, and he was soon revived.

In the meantime, from another window, overhead, Hoke Ummer watched proceedings.

When he saw Mont get up his hateful face plainly showed his chagrin.

"How was it you didn't fasten the rope tightly?" asked Link.

"I thought I did," returned our hero. "In fact, I am certain I did," he added.

"But it gave way and let you down."

Our hero shook his head. He couldn't understand it at all.

In a few minutes he was able to go with his friends and show them where the root-beer and soda-water bottles were hidden.

Loaded down with the stuff, the crowd returned to the Hall, and the feast began.

Nearly all of the boys of Mont's age had been invited in a general way, and a lively time was had for fully an hour.

Hoke Ummer could not stand it to see his rival triumph over him, and so slipped down to the room occupied by Moses Sparks, one of the under teachers.

"Mont Folsom and his crowd are having a feast in one of the upper rooms," he said.

At once Moses Sparks prepared to investigate.

The feast was at its height when a footstep was heard.

"Scatter!" whispered Carl Barnaby, who caught the sounds first, and all of the boys hurried from the bedroom by side doors and managed to get to their own rooms.

When Moses Sparks came up they seemed to be sleeping like so many lambs.

"Ummer has been fooling me," muttered the under teacher. "Or else he was mistaken." And he went off and left the boys to finish the feast in peace.