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- The Boys of Bellwood School - 1/27 -


THE BOYS OF BELLWOOD SCHOOL

OR

FRANK JORDAN'S TRIUMPH

BY FRANK V. WEBSTER

AUTHOR OF "TOM THE TELEPHONE BOY", "COMRADES OF THE SADDLE", "THE NEWSBOY PARTNERS", ETC.

CONTENTS

I FRANK JORDAN'S HOME II THE TINKER BOY III THE DIAMOND BRACELET IV GILL MACE V THE RUINED HOUSE VI AN ASTONISHING CLUE VII THE CONFIDENCE MAN VIII NIPPED IN THE BUD IX A BOY GUARDIAN X AN OBSTINATE REBEL XI TURNING THE TABLES XII A STRANGE HAPPENING XIII SOME MYSTERY XIV THE ROW ON THE CAMPUS XV DARK HOURS XVI THE FOOT RACE XVII THE TRAMP AGAIN XVIII A DOLEFUL "UNCLE" XIX A CLEAR CASE XX FRANK A PRISONER XXI A QUEER EXPERIENCE XXII A STARTLING MESSAGE XXIII UNDER ARREST XXIV CLEANING UP XXV CONCLUSION

CHAPTER I

FRANK JORDAN'S HOME

"Where did you get that stickpin, Frank?"

"Bought it at Mace's jewelry store."

"You are getting extravagant."

"I hardly think so, aunt, and I don't believe you would think so, either, if you knew all the circumstances."

"Circumstances do not alter cases when a boy is a spendthrift."

"I won't argue with you, aunt. You have your ideas and I have mine. Of course, I bought the stickpin, but it was with money I had earned."

The aunt sniffed in a vague way. The boy left the house, looking irritated and unhappy.

Frank Jordan lived in the little town of Tipton with his aunt, Miss Tabitha Brown. His father was an invalid, and at the present time was in the South, seeking to recuperate his failing health, and Mrs. Jordan was with him as his nurse. They had left Frank in charge of the aunt, who was a miserly, fault-finding person, and for nearly a month the lad had not enjoyed life very greatly.

There were two thoughts that filled Frank's mind most of the time. The first was that he would give about all he had to leave his aunt's house. The other was a wish that his father would write to him soon, telling him, as he had promised to do, that he had decided that his son could leave Tipton and go to boarding-school.

What with the constant nagging of his sour-visaged relative, the worry over his sick father, and the suspense as to his own future movements, Frank did not have a very happy time of it. He felt a good deal like a boy shut up in a prison. His aunt used her authority severely. She kept him away from company, and allowed none of his friends to visit the house. From morning until night she pestered him and nagged at him, "all for his own good," she said, until life at the Jordan home, roomy and comfortable as it was, became a burden to the lad.

"It's too bad!" burst forth Frank as he crossed the garden, climbed a fence, and made toward the river through a little woods that was a favorite haunt of his. Reaching a fallen tree he drew from its side a splendid fishing-pole with all the attachments that a lover of the rod and line might envy. His eye grew brighter as he glanced fondly along the supple staff with its neat joints of metal, but he continued his complaint: "When she isn't scolding, she is lecturing me. I suppose if she ever hears of my fishing outfit here, she'll be at me for a week about my awful extravagance. Oh, dear!"

Frank had a good deal over which to grumble. His aunt certainly was a "tyro." She was making his life very gloomy with her stern, unloving ways. Frank had promised his parents, when they went away, that he would be obedient in all respects to his aunt. He was a boy of his word, and he felt that he had done exceedingly well so far, hard as the task had been. His aunt was very unreasonable in some things, however, and he had been at the point of rebellion several times.

"You'd think I was some kind of a beggar, to hear her talk," he grumbled to himself. "Father sends plenty of pocket money, but the way Aunt Tib doles it out to me makes a fellow sick. As to the stickpin--heigh ho! I won't think about it at all. I've lots to be thankful for. I only care that father gets well and strong again. As to myself, he's sure to decide soon what school I will be sent away to. That means no Aunt Tib. I shall be happy. Hello! What's wrong now?"

From the direction of the river there had come two boyish screams in quick and alarming succession. Frank recognized a signal of pain and distress. He started on a run and reached the edge of the stream in a few moments. He leaned beyond a bush where the bank shelved down a little distance along the shore. His eyes lit upon quite an animated scene.

A strange-looking, boxed-in wagon, with an old white horse attached, stood stationary about forty rods distant. Just this side of it was a ragged, trampish-looking man. He had just picked up a piece of flat rock, and as he hurled it Frank discovered that he had aimed at a tree directly across the narrow stream, but had missed it.

"Why, there's a boy in that tree," said Frank. "That big bully must have hit him before I came, and that was the boy's cry I heard. The good-for- nothing loafer!"

Frank rounded the brush in an impetuous and indignant way. He was about to challenge the man, when the latter shouted something at the boy across the stream, and Frank stopped to listen.

"Are you going to come down out of that tree?" the man demanded in a bellowing tone.

There was no reply, and the man repeated the challenge. The boy addressed continued silent. Frank could see him crouching in a crotch, his face pale and distressed.

"See here," roared his persecutor, getting furious and shaking his fist at his victim, "I'm after you, Ned Foreman, and I'm going to get you! Why, you vagabond, you--you ungrateful young runaway! Here I'm your only solitary living relative in the whole world, and you sit up in that tree with a big stone ready to smash me if I come near you."

"Yes, and I will--I will, for a fact!" cried the lad, roused up. "You try it, and see. Relative? You're no kin of mine, Tim Brady. I'd be ashamed to own you."

"I hain't?" howled the man. "Who married your step-sister? Who gave you a home when you was a helpless kid, I'd like to know?"

"Huh, a healthy home!" retorted the boy. "It wasn't your home; it was my sister's, and you robbed her of it and squandered the money, and broke her heart, and she died, and you ought to be hung for it!" and the speaker choked down a sob. "Now you come across me and try to rob me."

"Say," roared Tim Brady, gritting his teeth and looking dreadfully cruel and hateful, "if I hang twice over I'll get you. Better give me some of your money."

"It isn't mine to give."

"Better give me some of it, all the same," continued the man, "or I'll take the whole of it. I'm desperate, Ned Foreman. I'm in a fix where I've got to get away from these diggings, and I've got to have money to go. Are you going to be reasonable and come down out of that tree?"

"No, I ain't."

"Then I'm coming after you. See that?" and the man held up a heavy stick and brandished it. Then he sat down on a rock and started to remove his shoes, with the idea of wading across the stream.

Frank felt that it was time for him to do something. He was not a bit afraid of a coward, but he realized that he and the boy in the tree together were no match for the big, vicious fellow just beyond him. The boy in the tree looked honest and decent; the man after him looked just what he was--a tramp and perhaps worse. Frank thought of hurrying toward the village for help. Then a sudden idea came to his mind, and he acted upon it.

The man who was preparing to go after the boy who would not come to him, sat directly under a big bush. Right over his head among the branches Frank noticed a double hornets' nest. He knew all about hornets and their ways,


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