H. Irving Hancock.

Dick Prescott's Second Year at West Point Finding the Glory of the Soldier's Life online

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Produced by Jim Ludwig




DICK PRESCOTT'S SECOND YEAR AT WEST POINT
or
Finding the Glory of the Soldier's Life



H. Irving Hancock




CONTENTS

CHAPTERS
I. The Class President Lectures on Hazing
II. Plebe Briggs Learns a Few Things
III. Greg Debates Between Girls and Mischief
IV. The O.C. Wants to Know
V. "I Respectfully Decline to Answer, Sir"
VI. Greg Prepares for Flirtation Walk
VII. The Folks from Home
VIII. Cadet Dodge Hears Something
IX. Spoony Femme - Flirtation Walk
X. The Cure for Plebe Animal Spirits
XI. Lieutenant Topham Feels Queer
XII. Under a Fearful Charge
XIII. In Close Arrest
XIV. Friends Who Stand By
XV. On Trial by Court-Martial
XVI. A Verdict and a Hop
XVII. "A Liar and a Coward"
XVIII. The Fight in the Barracks
XIX. Mr. Dennison's Turn is Served
XX. A Discovery at the Riding Drill
XXI. Pitching for the Army Nine
XXII. Greg's Secret and Another's
XXIII. The Committee on Class Honors
XXIV. Conclusion




CHAPTER I

THE CLASS PRESIDENT LECTURES ON HAZING


Leaving the road that wound by the officers' quarters at the north
end, turning on to the road that passed the hotel, a hot, somewhat
tired and rather dusty column of cadets swung along towards their
tents in the distance.

The column was under arms, as though the cadets had been engaged in
target practice or out on a reconnaissance.

The young men wore russet shoes, gray trousers and leggings, gray
flannel shirts and soft campaign hats.

Their appearance was not that of soldiers on parade, but of the
grim toilers and fighters who serve in the field.

Their work that morning had, in fact, been strictly in line with
labor, for the young men, under Captain McAneny, had been engaged
in the study of field fortifications. To be more exact, the young
men had been digging military trenches - -yes - -digging them, for
at West Point hard labor is not beneath the cadet's dignity.

Just as they swung off the road past the officers' quarters the
young men, marching in route step, fell quickly into step at the
command of the cadet officer at the head of the line.

Now they marched along at no greater speed, but with better swing
and rhythm. They were, in fact, perfect soldiers - -the best to
be found on earth.

Past the hotel they moved, and out along the road that leads by
the summer encampment. The brisk command of "halt" rang out.
Immediately afterwards the command was dismissed. Carrying their
rifles at ease, the young men stepped briskly through different
company streets to their tents.

Three of these brought up together at one of the tents.

"Home, Sweet Home," hummed Greg Holmes, as he stepped into his
tent.

"Thank goodness for the luxury of a little rest," muttered Dick
Prescott.

"Rest?" repeated Tom Anstey, with a look of amazement. "What
time have you, now, for a rest?"

"I can spare the time to stretch and yawn," laughed Dick. "If
I am capable of swift work, after that, I may indulge in two yawns."

"Look out, or you'll get skinned for being late at dinner formation,"
warned Greg.

There was, in truth, no time for fooling. These cadets, and their
comrades, had reached camp just on the dot of time. But now they
had precious few minutes in which to cleanse themselves, brush
their hair and get into white duck trousers and gray fatigue blouses.
The call for dinner formation would sound at the appointed instant
and they must be ready.

Sound it did, in short time, but it caught no one napping.

Nearly everyone of the young men in camp had just returned from
a forenoon's work, and hot and dusty at that.

But now, as the call sounded, every member of three classes stepped
from his tent looking as though he had just stepped from an hour
spent in the hands of a valet.

Not one showed the least flaw in personal neatness. Moreover,
the tents which these cadets had just quitted were in absolute
order and wholly clean. At West Point no excuse whatever is accepted
for untidiness of person or quarters.

With military snap and briskness the battalion was formed. Then
at brisk command, the battalion turned to the left in column of
fours, marching down the hot, sun-blazed road to cadet mess.

Despite the heat and the hard work of the forenoon - -these cadets
had been up, as they we every day in summer, since five in the
morning - -spirits ran high at the midday meal, and chaffing talk
and laughter ran from table to table.

The meal over, the battalion marched back to camp. There were
a few minutes yet before the afternoon drills. A few minutes
of leisure? Yes, if such an easy act as dressing in uniform appropriate
to the coming drill, may be termed leisure.

"Drills are going to be called off, I reckon," murmured Greg,
poking his head outside the khaki colored tent after he had put
himself in readiness.

"What's up?" demanded Anstey, lacing a legging.

"The sky is about the color of ink over old Crow's Nest," reported
Greg.

Just then there came a vivid flash of lightning, followed, in
a few seconds, by a deep, echoing roll of thunder. The summer
storms along this part of the Hudson River sometimes come almost
out of the clear sky.

"I'm always thankful for even the smallest favors," muttered Anstey,
with a yawn.

"We'll have to make up this drill some other day, when it's hotter,"
Dick observed, but he nevertheless dropped on to a campstool with
a grunt of relief.

Yes; each of these three cadets could now have a campstool of his
own in quarters, for Prescott, Holmes and Anstey were all yearlings.

And a yearling is "some one" in the cadet corps. For the first few
days after his release from the plebe class the yearling is quite
likely to feel that he is nearly "the whole thing." By degrees,
however, the yearling in summer encampment discovers that there is
a first class of much older cadets above him.

There are no second classmen in summer encampment, until just
before the time to break camp and return to barracks for the following
academic year. Members of the new second class - -men who have
successfully passed through the first two years of life at the
United States Military Academy - -are allowed two months and a half
of summer furlough, during which time they return to their homes.

Readers of the foregoing volume in this series, _"Dick Prescott's
First Year at West Point"_, are already familiar with the ordeals,
the hard work, the sorrows and the few pleasures, indeed, of plebe
life at West Point.

These readers of the former volume recall just how Dick and Greg
reached West Point in March of the year before; how they passed
their entrance examinations and settled down to fifteen months
of plebedom. Such readers recall the fights in which the new
men found themselves involved, the hazing, laughable and otherwise,
will be recalled. Our former readers will recollect that about
the only pleasure that Dick Prescott found in his plebedom lay
in his election to the presidency of his class - -position that
carries more responsibility than pleasure for the poor plebe leader
of his class.

But now all was wholly and happily changed. Dick, Greg and Anstey
were yearlings, entitled to real and friendly recognition from the
upper classmen.

It is only seldom that yearlings are accused of b.j.-ety (freshness),
for about all of that is taken out of the cadet during his plebedom.

But the greatest sign of all to the new yearling is that now,
instead of finding himself liable to hazing at any time, he is
now the one who administers the hazing.

It is rare that a first or second classman takes the trouble to
haze a plebe. A first or second classman may notice that a plebe
is a little too b.j. If so, the first or second classman usually
drops a hint to a yearling, and the latter usually takes the plebe
in hand.

So far, our young friends had been yearlings just three days.
They had not, as yet, exercised their new function of hazing
any plebes. The first three days in camp had been too full of
new and hard duties to permit of their doing so.

As Greg looked out of the tent, the wind suddenly sprang up, driving
a gust of big raindrops before it. In another moment there was
a steady downpour. Cadet corporals in raincoats darted through
the company streets, carrying the cheering word that drills were
suspended until change of orders.

"I hope it rains all afternoon, then," gaped Anstey, behind his
hand. "It's a rest for mine - -you bunkies (tentmates) permitting."

Anstey stretched himself on his bed and was soon sound asleep.

In summer encampment, taps sound at 10.30, and first call to
reveille sounds at five in the morning. Six hours and a half
of sleep are none too much for a young man engaged at hard drilling
and other work. The cadet, when his duties, permit, may, however,
snatch a few minutes of sleep at any time through the day. Cadets
in camp quickly get the knack of making a few minutes count for
a nap.

"It's going to be a good one," declared Greg, as the rain settled
down into a monotonous drumming against the shelter flap over
the tent.

"A long one, too," spoke Prescott hopefully. "Greg, I actually
believe that the wind is growing cool."

"Don't speak about it," begged Greg. "I'm superstitious."

"Superstitious?"

"Yes; if a rain comes up just after dress parade and guardmount,
then it'll keep up the rest of the evening, when we might be enjoying
ourselves after a strenuous day of work. But if you get to exulting
over the rain that is to get us out of a drill or two, or bragging
about a cool breeze getting lost around here in the daytime, then
the raindrops cease at once, the wind dies down, and the sun comes
out hotter than it has been before in a week!"

Dick took another look outside.

"Then I won't say that this rain is going to last all afternoon, but
it is," Dick smiled.

"Now, you've spoiled it all!" cried Greg.

"Say, Holmesy, old spectre!" hailed a laughing voice across the
street.

"Hullo!" Greg answered.

"Haven't a cold, have you?"

"No."

"Don't feel that you're marked for pneumonia?"

"What are you driving at Furlong?" Greg called back.

"Come along over, if you can brave the storm!" called yearling
Furlong. "You and the rest."

"Shall we go over, Dick?" asked Greg, turning around.

"Yes; why not? If nothing else, we'll leave Anstey in peace for
his big sleep. Duck out. I'll be on your heels."

The flap across the way was thrown open hospitably as Greg entered,
followed by Cadet Prescott.

"Where's old Mason and Dixon?" demanded Furlong, alluding to the
fact that Anstey was a Virginian.

"He has turned in for a big sleep," Greg informed their hosts.

"Great!" chuckled Furlong. "Let's peep in and throw a bucket
of water over him. He'll wake up and think the tent is leaking."

"Don't you dare!" warned Dick, but he said it with a grin that
robbed his rebuke of offence. "Old Mace (short for 'Mason and
Dixon') has been tired out ever since being on guard the first
night in camp. He actually needs the big sleep. I believe this
rain is for his benefit."

"Say that again, and put it slowly," protested Furlong, looking
bewildered.

Griffin and Dobbs, the other two yearlings who tented with him,
laughed in amusement.

"Now, that we've lured the class president in here," continued
Cadet Furlong, "we'll call this a class meeting. A quorum isn't
necessary. You've got my campstool, Mr. President, so we'll consider
you in the chair. May I state the business before the meeting?"

"Proceed, Mr. Furlong," requested Prescott gravely.

"Then, sir, and gentlemen - - -" began Furlong.

"The chair calls you to order!" interrupted Dick sternly.

"Will the chair kindly explain the point of order?"

"It is out of order to make any distinction between the chair
and 'gentlemen.'"

"I yield to the - -the pride of the chair," agreed Furlong, with
a comical bow. "Mr. Chairman and other gentlemen, the question
that I wish to put is - - -"

Cadet Furlong now paused, glancing solemnly about him before he
continued:

"What are we going to do with the plebes?"

Dick dropped his tone of presiding officer as he answered:

"I take it, Miles - -pardon me, _Furlong_, that your question really
means, what are we going to do to the plebes?"

"Same thing," contended the other yearling.

"Why should we do anything to them?" asked Dick gravely.

"Why should we - -say, did you hear the man?" appealed Furlong,
looking around him despairingly at the other yearlings. "Why
should we do anything to the plebes? And yet, in a trusting moment,
we elected old ramrod to be president of the class! Why should
we - -o-o-o-o-h!"

Cadet Furlong made a gurgling sound in his throat, as though he
were perishing for lack of air.

"Prescott isn't serious," hinted Griffin.

"Yes, I am," contended Dick, half stubbornly. "Griffin, what
did you think of yearlings - -last year?"

"What I thought, last year," retorted Cadet Griffin, "doesn't
much matter now. Then I was an ignorant, stupid, unregenerate,
unsophisticated, useless, worthless and objectionable member of
the community. I hadn't advanced far enough to appreciate the
very exalted position that a yearling holds by right."

"We now know, quite well," broke in Dobbs, "that it is a yearling's
sacred and bounden duty to lick a plebe into shape in the shortest
possible order. Though it never has been done, and never can be
done inside of a year," he finished with a sigh.

"Do you seek words of wisdom from your class president?" Cadet
Prescott inquired.

"Oh, yes, wise and worthy sir!" begged Furlong.

"Then this is almost the best that I can think of," Dick went
on. It will never be possible to stamp out wholly the hazing
of plebes at West Point. But we fellows can make a new record,
if we will, by frowning on all severe and needless forms of hazing.
I had the reputation of getting a lot of hazing last year, didn't I?"

"You surely did, old ramrod," murmured Furlong sympathetically.
"At times, then, my heart ached for you, but now, with my increased
intelligence, I perceive how much good it all did you."

"I took my hazing pretty well, didn't I?" insisted Dick.

"All that came your way you took like a gentleman," agreed Dobbs.

"At that time," went on Prescott, "I made up my mind that I'd
submit, during my plebedom. But I also made up my mind - -and
it still my mind - -that I'd go very slow, indeed, in passing the
torment on to the plebes who followed me."

Dick spoke so seriously that there was an awkward pause.

"I don't want you to think that I'm going to set up as a yearling
saint," Dick added. "I don't mean to say that I may not put a
single plebe through any kind of pace. What I do mean is that
I shall go very slowly indeed in annoying any plebe. I shan't
do it, probably, unless I note a case of such utter b.j.-ety that
I feel bound to bring the plebe quickly to his senses."

"You cast a gloom over us," muttered Furlong. "So far we haven't
done any hazing. We were thinking of ordering a plebe in here, and
starting in on him, so as to get our hands in. We need practice
in the fine art."

"Don't let me interfere with your pursuit of happiness," begged
Dick, with mock politeness.

"But, seriously, old ramrod, are you as strong for the plebe as we
have just been led to believe? Are you prepared to take the plebe
to our heart and comfort him - -instead of training him?"

"Do you believe we ought to take the plebe right into our midst,
and condole with him until we get him over his homesickness?
Do you feel that we should overlook all the traditional b.j.ety
of the plebe, and admit him to full fellowship without any probation
or instruction?"

"No," spoke Dick promptly. "I don't believe in patting the plebe
on the shoulder and increasing his conceit. When a candidate
first comes to West Point, and is admitted as a cadet, he is one
of the most conceited simpletons on earth. He has to have that
all taken out of him, I admit. He must be taught to respect and
defer to upper classmen, just as he will have to do with his superior
officers after he goes from here out into the service. The plebe
must be kept in his place. I don't believe in making him feel
that he's a pet. I do believe in frowning down all b.j.-ety.
I don't believe in recognizing a plebe, except officially. But
I don't believe in subjecting any really good fellow to a lot
of senseless and half cruel hazing that has no purpose except
the amusement of the yearlings. Now, I think I've made myself
clear. At least, I've said all that I have to say on the subject.
For the rest, I'll listen to the ideas of the rest of you."

There was silence, broken at last by Greg, who said:

"I think I agree, in the main, with Prescott."

"Oh, of course," grunted Dobbs, in a tone which might mean that
Greg Holmes was but the "shadow" of Dick Prescott.

Greg looked quickly at Dobbs, but saw nothing in the other's face
that justified him in taking open offence.

Somehow, though none of the others said anything to that effect,
Cadet Prescott began to feel that he was a bit in the way at a
conference of this sort. He didn't rise to leave at once, but
he swung around on his campstool near the door.

Without throwing the flap open, Prescott peeped through a slit-like
opening. As he did so he saw something that made his eyes flash.

The rain was pouring a little less heavily now. Down the company
street came a cadet with a pail of water.

It was Mr. Briggs, a round faced, laughter loving, somewhat roly
poly lad of the plebe class.

Just as Mr. Briggs was passing the tent in which Anstey lay making
up some needed sleep, a snore came out.

Briggs halted, glancing swiftly up and down the company street.

No upper classman being in sight, Mr. Briggs peeped into the tent.
He saw Anstey, asleep and alone.

Instantly raising the flap just enough, Mr. Briggs took careful
aim, then shot half the contents of the pail of water over the
chest and face of Yearling Anstey.

Dick Prescott watched unseen by the b.j. plebe. Mr. Briggs fled
lightly, but swiftly four tents down the line and disappeared into
his own quarters.

From across the way, came a roar of wrath.

Anstey was up, bellowing like a bull. Yet, roused so ruthlessly
from a sound sleep, it took him a few seconds to realize that
his wetting must be due to human agency.

Then Anstey flew to the tent door, looking out, but the chuckling
plebe was already in his own tent, out of sight.

"After what I've just said," announced Dick grimly, "I think I know
of a plebe who requires some correction."

"Listen to our preacher!" jeered Furlong.




CHAPTER II

PLEBE BRIGGS LEARNS A FEW THINGS


"Anstey!" called Prescott softly across the company street.

"Oh, was it you idiots?" demanded the Virginian, showing his wrathful
looking face.

"No," replied Dick. "Come over as quickly as you can."

It took Anstey a few minutes to dry himself, and to rearray himself,
for the Virginian's sense of dignity would not permit him to go
visiting in the drenched garments in which he had awakened.

"Which one of you was it?" demanded Anstey, as he finally entered
the tent of Furlong and his bunkies.

"No one here," Dick replied. "The other gentlemen don't even
know what happened, for I haven't told them."

So Anstey withdrew his look of suspicion from the five cadets.
No cadet may ever lie; not even to a comrade in the corps. Any
cadet who utters a lie, and is detected in it, is ostracized as
being unfit for the company of gentlemen. So, when Dick's prompt
denial came, Anstey believed, as he was obliged to do.

"It was a plebe, Mace," continued Dick.

"I'll have all but his life, then!" cried the southerner fiercely.

"I wouldn't even think of it. The offender is only a cub," urged
Dick. "If you accept my advice, Mace, you won't even call the
poor blubber out. We'll just summon him here, and make the little
imp so ashamed of himself that the lesson ought to last him through
the rest of his plebedom. I'm cooler than you are at this moment,
Mace, but none the less disgusted. Will you let me handle this
affair?"

"Yes," agreed Anstey quickly.

As for Furlong, Griffin and Dobbs, it was "just nuts" for them
to see their class president, lately so stately on the subject
of hazing, now actually proposing to take a plebe sternly in hand.
The three bunkies exchanged grins.

"Tell us, Mace," continued Dick, "have you had any occasion to take
Mr. Briggs in hand at any time?

"So it was Mr. Briggs?" demanded Anstey angrily, turning toward
the door.

"Wait! Have you taken Mr. Briggs in hand at any time?"

"Yes," admitted Anstey. "When you and Holmesy were out, last
evening, I had Mr. Briggs in our tent for grinning at me and failing
to say 'sir' when he addressed me."

"You put him through some performances?"

"Nothing so very tiresome," replied Anstey. "I made him brace
for five minutes, and then go through the silent manual of arms
for five more."

"Humph! That wasn't much!" grunted Furlong.

"I guess that was why Mr. Briggs felt that he had to get square,"
mused Dick aloud. "But a plebe is not allowed to get square by
doing anything b.j."

Again Anstey turned as if to go out, but Dick broke in:

"Don't do it, Mace. Try, for the next half hour, to keep as cool
as an iceberg. Trust the treatment of the impish plebe to us.
Greg, old fellow, will you be the one to go down and tell Mr.
Briggs that his presence in this tent is desired immediately?"

Plebe Briggs was alone in his tent, his bunkies being absent on
a visit in another tent. Mr. Briggs was still grinning broadly
as he remembered the roar with which Anstey had acknowledged the
big splash.

But of a sudden Mr. Briggs's grin faded like the mist, for Greg
was at the doorway.

"Mr. Briggs, your presence is desired at once at Mr. Furlong's
tent."

"Yes, sir," replied the plebe meekly. He got up with an alacrity
that he did not feel, but which was the result of the new soldierly
habit. Mr. Briggs threw on his campaign hat and a raincoat, but,
by the time he was outside of the tent, Holmes was just disappearing
under canvas up the company street.

"I guess I'm in for it," muttered the plebe sheepishly, as he
strode up the street. "Confound it, can a yearling see just as well
when he's asleep as when he's awake?"

He halted before Furlong's tent, rapping on the pole.

"Mr. Briggs, sir."

"Come in, Mr. Briggs."

The plebe stepped into the tent, drawing himself up and standing
at attention.

For some seconds none of the yearlings spoke. In fact, only Dick
looked at the fourth classman.

"Mr. Briggs," demanded Prescott at last, "where is your bucket?"

"In my tent, sir."

"You will fill it, and report back here with it at once."

"Very good, sir."

"Now, what on earth is coming?" quaked the plebe, as he possessed
himself of his bucket and started for the nearest tap.

In the shortest time possible the young man reported hack at the
tent, his bucket as full of water as it would safely carry.

"Set the bucket down, Mr. Briggs, at the rear of the tent."

The plebe obeyed, then stood once more at attention.

"Mr. Briggs," continued the president of the yearling class, "it
was you who threw water over Mr. Anstey?"

"I am not obliged to answer that, sir," replied the plebe.

"You're quite within your rights there, mister," Dick admitted.
"But I looked out of this tent just in time to see you do it.
Have you any wish to deny it now?"

"No, sir."

"Mister, you have given us the impression that you are altogether
to b.j.-ish to amount to anything in the cadet corps. Your sense
of humor is bubbling over, but your judgment is so small that
it would roll around inside the eye of a needle. This is a serious
condition, and we judge that your health will be sadly affected
if the condition is not promptly cured. One the first symptoms
to be subdued is that of a swollen head. The head needs reducing
in size. Take off your hat, and kneel in front of the bucket."

This Mr. Briggs did, meekly enough, now. There is never any sense
in a mere plebe refusing to follow the commands of a yearling.
"You will remain in that kneeling posture, mister, unless
you are released from it. Now, thrust your head down into the
water, as far as you can without interfering with your breathing.
Remain in that position. Take your hands off the floor, sir,
and do not rest them on the floor again. Continue with your head
in soak until you are directed to do otherwise."


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