George Lang.

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E-text prepared by Curtis Weyant, Mary Meehan, and the Project Gutenberg
Online Distributed Proofreading Team


Translated from the German of GEORGE LANG





Washington, D.C.


















There were three boys in the same class in the polytechnic school in the
mountainous Odenwald country, in Hesse Darmstadt, who were such great
friends and inseparable companions that the other pupils named them "the
three-leaved clover." They were near of an age - about eleven - and near
of a size; and their names were Fritz, Paul and Franz.

Fritz was an active, energetic boy, had coal black hair and bright,
black eyes which looked out upon the world with the alert glance of
a squirrel in a cage.

Paul had brown hair, brown eyes and brown complexion, was of reflective
manner, and willing to follow where Fritz led.

Franz was a robust boy with blonde hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, and
cheeks like cherries which had ripened in the sun.

They had been firm friends ever since the day that Fritz had had a
combat with a larger boy, and Franz and Paul ran to his assistance. But
the big boy was victor, leaving Fritz on the field of battle with a
bleeding nose, Franz with a bruise upon his forehead, and Paul with a
fiery-red cheek, caused by slaps from the hand of the foe. From that
hour the three united for life or death in an alliance for defense
against an enemy and resolved to provide themselves with weapons, also a
place to keep them when not in active service; said place to be called
the armory.

It was a subject of much thought and discussion to secure a suitable
place, but at length Franz brought the welcome news that his father had
sold the calf that day, and the nice shed it had occupied was vacant.
This was delightful news and when school was out they hurried there,
drove nails in the board walls, and hung up their spears which were made
of pine wood, and, like the shields hanging beside them, were glistening
with gold and silver paper. On the opposite wall were the sombre bows
and arrows, brightened, however, by the nearness of three brilliant
helmets with waving plumes made of black yarn.

The array of weapons seemed so warlike that it called to memory the
battle between the Grecians and the Trojans as recorded in Homer's
_Iliad_, which their class was reading in school; and they then and
there decided to take the names of their favorite Greek heroes.

"I will be Odysseus," said Fritz.

"I will be Achilles," responded Franz.

"And I," said Paul after due reflection, "will be Patroclus."

"And let us call that fellow that fought us a Trojan," suggested Franz.

"Agreed," cried Fritz. "Let us call all of our enemies Trojans."

This proposition was received with warmth and they solemnly shook hands
to clinch the compact.

It was a shadow to their enjoyment that while there was an outside bolt
to their armory, there was no lock and key, and there were plenty of
Trojans in school who would wish no better amusement than to break in
and carry off the weapons. To prevent such a catastrophe, it was decided
that the moment school was out, one of them must run to the armory and
remain on guard until all the boys had gone to their homes. They were to
take turns in this duty, and Franz was appointed as sentinel for that

When he reached the shed he heard the sound of movement inside the
armory, yet the bolt was not withdrawn. He stood a moment in mute wonder
for he could not understand how a Trojan could get in when there was no
window, and but one door, and it bolted on the outside. He called
several times, but there was no answer, and he was more than glad when
he saw Fritz running through the gateway of the barnyard. Emboldened by
the sight of the Grecian warrior, he pushed back the bolt, the door flew
open, and out rushed a hog, squealing with delight at regaining his
liberty. Without delay it made for the open gateway, ran between the
feet of the advancing Fritz, upset him, causing him to measure his
length with that of the hog's back, then after a few turns about the
yard, upset the pursuing Achilles-Franz and ran to the top of a heap of
sodden straw, where it shook off Odysseus-Fritz, then ran nimbly down
and out the gateway to the road. To fill to overflowing the measure of
their ill-luck, some of the Trojans who had safely passed the gate
sometime before, heard the squealing, and ran back in time to see
Odysseus shaken off upon the straw-heap, and Achilles in the act of
grasping the pig by its tail. They broke into jeering laughter, shrill
whistles, and witty speeches which stung the Grecian heroes into
helpless fury.

But they could not take time to retaliate; the escaped fugitive was
going down the road at a commendable pace had he been going to school,
and Achilles was again Franz, his father's son, and the pig must be
brought back and with no help but that of Fritz, for he scorned to ask
the grinning Trojans to join in the chase, nor would it have been of any
use to ask, for they preferred to remain at the gate and watch the race,
which they enjoyed to the limit. The pig had a good start and was a
brisk runner, but after many twistings and turnings, sprints and
boltings, it allowed itself to be driven into a fence corner just at the
moment that Paul appeared upon the scene.

A short discussion followed this happy meeting, which resulted in Franz
grasping one ear of the recreant pig and Fritz the other, while Paul
took charge of the tail, to pull or push as the necessities of the case
demanded. The pig was finally made to back out and face about, and their
homeward journey was commenced.

It was well for them that the waiting Trojans had caught a glimpse of a
teacher coming through the gate of the school yard, or they would have
had trouble getting their captive through the gateway into the barnyard.
As it was, the coast was clear, and the pig, in spite of his squealings
and gruntings, was back in his cell, the door shut and the bolt pushed
into its socket.

Then the three heroes with beads of perspiration rolling from their
foreheads sat down under the shade of an apple tree to discuss the
situation. Since their armory was demeaned into a pig-pen, it was
necessary to remove their weapons and put them in a secure place; but
where? That was the question.

There was a summer-house in the garden of Franz's home which was never
used, was rain-proof, and had a good door with a strong catch, but no
lock and key or even a bolt. Being near the dwelling it was secure, as
no opposing schoolboy would dare go through the garden to break into
their armory and carry off the weapons.

This suggestion was hailed with hearty appreciation, and in good spirits
they drove nails into the walls and carried their helmets and beloved
weapons one by one and put them in that place of refuge; then went to
their suppers, and to prepare their lessons for the following day.

Their arrival in the school yard the next morning was announced by the
laughter and jeers of their opponents.

"Say, did you imagine that your hog was Hector on the walls of Troy when
it ran up the straw-heap?" shouted one.

"No, he thought he was Hercules, but found that instead of being strong
enough to carry the hog, the hog had to carry him," laughed another.

The three friends passed on into the schoolroom, red with anger but
helpless to defend themselves; their tormentors following, for there
was more sport in store which not one of them wished to miss.

Upon the great blackboard was a very fair picture in chalk of the
exploit with the hog, and the laughing, jeering and shrill whistling
were resumed when they saw the anger of the three friends. The muscular
and energetic Fritz rushed to the blackboard to rub out the offending
cartoon, but his hands were held by the enemy, his struggles to release
them were useless, and he went to his seat in anger and mortification.

At that moment the teacher came, and hearing the sound of weeping he
asked the cause. As Odysseus-Fritz was unable to speak for sobbing, the
enemy had the welcome chance to give an account of the tilt between the
"three-leaved clover" and the four-footed Hector, and as the wit of the
school was spokesman, the story lost nothing of its mirth-provoking

The teacher tried his best to look grave over the affair, but the
narrative, together with its illustration on the blackboard, was too
much for him and he took such a sudden and violent spell of coughing
that he was compelled to put his handkerchief to his mouth and go
outside the door. Every boy in the room, including the three Grecian
warriors, knew that he went out to indulge in the laughter that he could
not restrain, and the enemy's triumph was complete.

"You must rub that miserable sketch from the board," he said upon his
return, "and write in place of it, 'Do unto others as you would have
them do to you,' which will remain there until we need the board for an

It was a great relief to the three friends that the summer holiday was
so near at hand that there would be but little more time for the
Trojans to trouble them. Every boy in school had a plan in view as to
the way the holiday was to be spent.

"We are going out to the woods every day," said one group of boys. "We
will take our luncheon and will fish in the brook, and find good places
to set snares in the fall."

"We are going to the woods, too," said another group, "and will gather
flowers to press for our herbariums."

But our three friends could overmatch all the pleasures mentioned by
their schoolmates, for they had the promise from their parents that they
should go to the city of Frankfort on the Main river to visit an aunt of
Fritz. Every day their schoolmates heard from some one of the three, or
perhaps from all, of the pleasures expected from their first journey,
and their visit to a city to remain a whole week. This again aroused the
jeers of the enemy which they bore bravely, knowing that it was only
envy; so went on serenely with their preparations for the visit.

Their homes were but a short distance apart, therefore out of school as
well as in they were much together and all their talk was upon the visit
to Frankfort, and of the things they would take, their plans subject to
change from day to day.

The father of Fritz took a Frankfort paper which the boy read carefully,
and reported the dangers of a great city to his comrades. From these
readings the three considered the city highly dangerous and they
resolved to go well prepared for any attack that might be made upon
them, either upon the journey or during their sojourn in the great city,
which its own paper denounced as wicked.

One morning he announced to his companions that he was well fixed to go,
for he had now a weapon which could be depended upon, and showed them an
old hunting-knife thick with rust, which he had concealed under his
jacket, and which was to be placed in the armory until time to start
upon the journey; and the ever watchful enemy saw that something very
important was going on among the Grecian heroes.

In truth there was something very important, for they were arranging to
go upon their journey wearing their helmets with waving plumes, and with
their shields and spears, and Franz and Paul were to have weapons to
place with that of Fritz in the armory. But who can describe their
surprise and dismay when that evening they went to put the
hunting-knife in its proper place, they found the armory plundered, and
everything gone! The enemy had come in an unguarded moment and carried
everything away. But where? That was the question, for they had not the
least doubt as to who did it, for the tracks of boys' boots were in the
moist ground, and Fritz was quite sure that he knew whose they were,
whereupon Franz laughed, although as much grieved as were the others
over the loss of their belongings.

"Yes, laugh as much as you please!" cried Fritz excitedly, "but when Mr.
Colbert's house was robbed he tracked the thief by a piece of buttered
bread which he had dropped in his flight. A piece bitten out of it
showed that the thief had lost a front tooth, and he had the man whom he
suspected arrested. When he came to trial they made him bite into a
piece of buttered bread, and it was exactly like the piece that Mr.
Gilbert had found."

"Your story is very good, but what help will it be in this case?"
enquired the logical Franz. "Do you think the Trojans will be so
obliging as to walk here and put their feet in the tracks?"

"Then name a better way."

"I don't know any."

"Then the only way left," remarked the reflective Paul, "is to watch the
faces of the suspects when we go to school in the morning, and maybe we
can spot the ones who did it."

As there seemed nothing more to do about it, they left the rifled armory
and went to their homes.

The next morning as they neared the schoolyard they heard loud laughing
which they could not lay altogether to the near approach of the holiday.
They hurried in, and were quickly surrounded by their schoolmates who
with laughter and jeers pointed to the top of the climbing pole; and oh,
misery! there hung the helmet of Achilles, its plume waving in the
morning air. Speechless and helpless the three friends stood, and would
have given the last penny in their savings banks if a hawk or some other
large bird would swoop down upon it and send it to the ground.

"Now here is an exercise in physical culture," cried one of the Trojans,
in the tone and manner of the professor in that line of instruction.
"One of our Grecian heroes will kindly ascend and bring the helmet

This called for peals of laughter and shrill whistles from the Trojans,
for they knew that no one of the Grecians could climb to the top and it
was a delight to see them redden with shame. But the restless Fritz was
not willing to give up without trying to scale the giddy height.

"Here, Franz," he cried, "hold my books. Paul, here is my jacket and
hat. Stand back, boys, and see if I am the coward they think me," and
soon his legs and arms were in motion. The laughter and jeering of the
Trojans stimulated him to his greatest effort, and he had almost reached
the top when his efforts ceased.

"He is only resting," cried Franz and Paul anxiously.

"No, his strength has given out and you will see him coming down in a
moment," said one of the Trojans.

Hearing this, Fritz made one last effort, and holding on to the pole
with one arm, he reached up for the helmet, but it was farther off than
he thought. His strength had given out, and he slid rapidly down and
dropped in a heap, pale and weak from over-exertion, and for a moment
unable to rise.

The shouts and laughter of the Trojans impelled the three to flee to the
schoolroom for refuge, but their arms were held by the enemy and they
were led to a linden tree in the school yard and bidden to look up.
There amid the branches lay the three lances and the bows and arrows.
The tumult of laughter and shouting was now beyond all bounds, and at
that moment the principal of the school made his appearance and was soon
in the midst of the wild, surging crowd.

"Who put that gilt paper cap on the point of the climbing pole?" he

No one answered and the Trojans looked at each other in dismay.

"Whose cap is it?" he asked.

"It is mine," replied Achilles-Franz, "and some of these boys got it
from the place I keep it and before I got here this morning put it on
the pole."

"Do you know which of the boys did it?"

"No, sir."

"Go to the schoolroom and ask Professor Moot to please step here."

"Professor," said the principal, when the teacher of physical culture
stood among them, "how many of your pupils can climb to the top of the

"Five of them can do it easily; two of them have not yet come, but there
are three here."

"Step here, you three, and show me the palms of your hands," said the
principal, and with very red faces the three obeyed.

"This is the boy," he continued, as the red palms proved that the boy
had recently climbed the pole, "and because you were a coward and would
not answer when I asked, you get no recess to-day. Now pass your books
to your neighbor and bring down that cap."

Like a poor criminal going to the gallows, the Trojan went to the pole
and began the ascent with his already tender hands. He would have asked
for a postponement had not the serene face of the principal warned him
that it would not be granted. With much effort he reached the top, took
off the helmet, and slipped rapidly down with it in his hand.

"Lay it on the window sill there, and go up the linden tree and bring
down the lances."

"Where did you get these things?" was the next question.

"I, we - we took them from the summer house which Franz and Fritz and
Paul call their armory."

"Who was with you?"

"William Cross, Otto Eidman and Henry Frolick."

"Professor, there were two more helmets," explained Fritz, stepping

"Where have you put the others?" asked the principal, sharply.

"Under the table in the lecture-room."

"Very well. You four boys will have an hour's arrest in the lecture-room
after school and when released you will take the things back and put
them exactly where you found them. Now you can go into the class-room."

With very sheepish faces the Trojans filed in, followed by the
triumphant Grecian heroes.

When school was out for the day they hurried to the armory to await the
coming of the Trojans with the weapons, while the boys in the class who
had not allied themselves to either Trojans or Grecians gathered in the
yard under the window of the lecture-room to see the vanquished ones
come out with the weapons when the hour of arrest was over. Before the
hour was spent they were joined by others who in passing the open gate
saw them and were glad to wait to see the four delinquents pass out.

At length the clock in the old church-tower struck the four solemn
strokes. The hour of arrest was over, but the Trojans did not come.
They waited five, ten minutes, still no sign or sound of their coming.

"I believe I hear a stir. Yes, they are coming," whispered one, rubbing
his hands in glee.

"And I can tell exactly how they will act," commented another. "Otto
will be crying from shame and anger at having to carry the things back.
Cross will hide his eyes with his arm, and Henry will hold a high head
as much as to say, 'who cares.'"

"But why don't they come? The hour was out when we came," said a

At that moment the lecture-room door opened quickly and the stern face
of the principal appeared, and the boys joined in a stampede.

"Halt!" cried the professor. "Come here! Why are you boys loitering here
so long after school hours?"

The boys reddened, but no one spoke.

"Henry Strong, speak; what are you doing here?"

"We wanted - we thought - we - "

"Out with it."

"The boys are to take back the weapons."

"Well, what of that?"

"We are staying to see them."

"Indeed! Well, that is just what I expected, so I gave them permission
to go out the back way some time ago and take the weapons to their
places. By this time they are quietly eating their suppers in their

There were many red faces at hearing the joke turned upon them, and they
went quietly out of the yard, glad to be away from the piercing gaze of
the principal, feeling that he could see into their hearts and minds as
well as he could see through the lecture-room window.

In the meantime Odysseus-Fritz, Achilles-Franz and Patroclus-Paul were
in triumphant possession of their weapons, and to add to their happiness
they had a safe place to keep them, for the father of Franz, who was
keeper of the forest, gave them a room in the forest cabin. It had a
lock and keys and the Grecian warriors realized that many a dark cloud
has a silver lining.



The interest in their weapons gave place in a few days to preparations
for the journey to Frankfort; and they decided to walk, just as such
healthy, energetic boys would prefer, taking two days for the journey,
and stopping for the one night at some wayside inn.

The mothers prepared the outfit, the main part of the clothing for the
three boys to be packed in one satchel and sent by express to the home
of Mrs. Fanny Steiner, the widowed sister of Fritz's father, and the
boys were to carry their school knapsacks strapped across their
shoulders, containing the few articles they would need upon their
journey. The fathers agreed to furnish funds for the journey, and the
three travelers, not having to bother about clothing or money, could
give all their attention to the subject of weapons with which to
overcome the dangers which might beset them on the way.

Fritz brought forward his rusty knife; Paul had found an old pistol of
the time of the first Napoleon, in which lay no danger because it would
not shoot; and Franz had an old cutlass which hung by a cord at his
side. They praised each other's weapons, but Fritz and Paul could not
help envying the owner of the cutlass.

"Listen," said Fritz. "We need not always carry our own weapons upon the
journey, we can exchange when we feel like it."

Paul agreed heartily to this, but Franz was silent; he did not wish any
one to have a share in his new possession.

"I know what I can do," exclaimed Fritz. "Just wait a minute," and he
ran home, returning with a leather belt and a cord, and soon his knife
was hanging by his side.

"Why can't I wear my pistol in my belt like the men do in pictures?"
questioned Paul. "I will run home and get mine."

This was brought, and the three warriors were equipped to their hearty
satisfaction, for they had already provided their straw hats with plumes
from the cast-off tail feathers of roosters in their respective poultry

They decided to have beside other needed things in each knapsack a
drinking cup that they might slake their thirst along the way from cool
springs, or clear running water, or a convenient well or pump.

Franz had a silver watch which all agreed would be very useful. Paul had
a box of tapers which he considered equal to a wonder-lamp in a fairy
tale, and Fritz had a small compass, so correct in its bearings that if
they trusted to it there was not the least danger of losing their way.

"Oh," he continued jubilantly, "let us run and get our knapsacks and
hang them across our shoulders and go to the photographer and ask what
he will charge to take our pictures."

"Agreed!" cried the others gleefully, and they were about to go when
they heard the sound of hearty laughter, and turning, they saw the
father of Franz.

"Wait, boys," he said, "there is danger of being arrested on the way.
Don't you know that it is against the law to carry weapons?"

"But, father, people do carry them."

"Yes, but they take good care to keep them hidden."

"We could keep ours hidden."

"But where? Could Paul hide his pistol in his hat, and could Franz put
the cutlass in his vest pocket as if it were a tooth-pick? Oh no, boys,
lay aside the old weapons and travel along the public road as peaceable
citizens with no thought of being harmed or of harming anyone. The roads
of our beloved Fatherland are not infested with bandits and footpads,
and you can go with contented minds and with no fear of danger upon your
travels. Now it is time to part; good-night, boys. Go home to a good
supper and a good sleep. Come, Franz."

The next day came the selecting of things that were to go in the
knapsacks and each boy had collected enough of what they considered
really needed to fill them to overflowing.

"What is this?" asked the mother of Franz, who was about to help him
with his knapsack, as they were to take an early start the next morning.

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