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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesFrank Merriwell's Chums - Chapter 47. Alive!
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Frank Merriwell's Chums - Chapter 47. Alive! Post by :sirtony Category :Long Stories Author :Burt L. Standish Date :May 2012 Read :3298

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Frank Merriwell's Chums - Chapter 47. Alive!

CHAPTER XLVII. ALIVE!

"I don't know but suicide is his easiest way out of this scrape," said Hodge.

"It is the only way he can escape hanging!" came from Fred Davis, who seemed to be aroused to a point of relentless hatred for Bascomb.

"Merciful goodness!" came faintly from Reynolds, who seemed to be weakening. "What a dreadful affair this is! I'd give anything in my power to give if I were well out of it!"

"An' ye'd be gittin' out chape at thot, me hearty," declared Barney Mulloy.

"If I'd ever dreamed what would come of it, horses couldn't have dragged me into the affair!" almost whimpered Reynolds.

"An' now ye're in it, it won't do yez nivver a bit av good to whoine, me b'y."

"All you can do is brace up and face it out," said Hodge. "That's what the rest of us will have to do. It's likely we'll all be fired from the academy for our shares in the business."

"I wouldn't mind that if it would bring Merriwell back all right," asserted Reynolds, and there was a sincere sound in his voice.

"We'd all take our medicine without a murmur if it would restore him to life. He was the whitest boy that ever breathed!"

"I think you're right," admitted Rupert. "I don't like him, but I presume that was my fault. Perhaps I was jealous because he was so popular. He never did me a mean turn."

"Och! an' he nivver did anybody thot!" quickly put in Barney. "It wur ivver a good turn, av it wur anything at all, at all."

And so, talking of Frank's virtues, the boys approached the camp. It was decided among them that Hodge should report the affair to Lieutenant Gordan, and they should all get into camp without being challenged, if possible. For this purpose they separated, and slipped in one by one, by various ways.

Hodge himself found a little difficulty in getting past the sentinel, by whom he did not wish to be challenged and taken in custody, as there would be a certain amount of red tape business that would delay him from seeking the lieutenant immediately and making his report.

He finally succeeded in getting into camp, and hurried directly to his own tent. As he entered, he was surprised to see a lamp had been lighted, and somebody was wringing out a towel in the water-bucket, at the same time having his head and face well swathed with another towel, that was dripping wet.

"Well, who in thunder are you? and what are you up to here?" demanded Bart, indignantly.

The fellow with the towel about his head pulled enough of it away from his mouth to reply:

"Hello, Bart! I am soaking the red pepper out of my eyes, and incidentally bathing my bruises at the same time. I couldn't see to guard for all of Bascomb's blows."

Hodge reeled backward, and came near collapsing. He caught hold of the tent pole at the front, and clung to it for support.

"Frank!" he cried, faintly.

"That's my name," affirmed the other, as he unwound the towel from about his head, and looked at Bart with a pair of very red eyes. "You look as if you saw a ghost."

"Well, I couldn't be more surprised if I saw a whole regiment of ghosts. Is it really you--alive?"

"To be sure."

"But--but--didn't you go over Black Bluff?"

"Yes."

"Then how do you happen to be here? It can't be you fell all the way down into the water, and then swam out?"

"No."

"Then what did happen? For mercy sake, tell me, and relieve me of this suspense."

"Why, I didn't fall far--not more than ten feet. I struck on a shelf, and lay there stunned."

"And Bascomb clung to some vines till we pulled him back to the top of the bluff."

"Those vines fell all around the shelf I was on, and I was half-covered with them when I recovered enough to thoroughly realize my position. It is likely that, while he was clinging to them, Bascomb partly covered me with them by winding his legs about them, thus changing their position after I fell."

"And he covered you so that the vines and the darkness prevented us from seeing you."

"I suppose so."

"But why didn't you answer? Davis called to you more than twenty times."

"I was stunned, and I did not hear him at first. When I did hear, it was impossible for me to answer, although I tried to do so."

"And we went away and left you there."

"Yes."

"How did you get off the ledge?"

"My strength came to me swiftly when I realized my position. As soon as possible, realizing I was alone, I sought a way to get to the top of the bluff. I was successful, for I found some clefts in the rock for my feet, and, aided by the vines, I climbed up. Then I lost little time in getting into camp, for I didn't know what sort of a report you fellows would bring. I did not expect to reach camp ahead of you, but it seems that I did, although I had not been in the tent two minutes when you showed up."

Up to this moment Hodge had held off, as if not quite able to believe it possible Frank had escaped. Now, with a cry of joy, he sprang forward and embraced his comrade.

"This is the happiest moment of my life, Frank!" he declared, with tears of joy in his eyes. "Why, I was about to report you as dead, and start out an expedition to search for your body! I couldn't have felt so bad had you been my own brother. Davis is distracted. He has charged Bascomb with murder, and swears he will stick to it in court. Mulloy was also inclined to look on it as a case of murder, and Bascomb became so scared that he ran away while we were returning to camp. Reynolds said Bascomb swore he was going to commit suicide."

Frank straightened up quickly.

"Look here, Hodge," he said, "you must act, and you must act swiftly. I do not want to go to Lieutenant Gordan in this condition; but you must go to him, and tell him that Bascomb seems to be out of his head and has run away, threatening to kill himself. The lieutenant will be sure to send out a detachment to search for the poor fellow. If you see Mulloy, tell him I am all right, and get him to keep Davis still. The plebe mustn't blow the story all over camp. Let everybody know I am all right. As soon as I can soak this red pepper out of my eyes, I'll be ready to help in the search for Bascomb, if I am needed. Go quickly!"

"All right; I'm off."

Hodge darted out of the tent, and Frank wrapped another wet towel about his head and eyes.

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