Inside Gates’ House

“Someone is in trouble!” cried Vench, as the startled cadets looked at
each other in the dense gloom.

“Yes, and we had better get on the job,” announced Don, with decision.
“The call came from over this way.”

“Shall we leave the bob here?” Douglas asked.

“Might as well,” Jim nodded. “It will only be in the way. We can easily
find it when we come back.”

There was no sound from the one who had called out a few moments ago,
but the boys had the direction in mind, so they struck off into the
tangle of the woods without further delay. They had gone about two
hundred yards when they came upon a country road which had been cut
through the woods.

“I wonder if the call came from this road?” mused Don, as they halted in
perplexity.

“I think it did,” Terry replied. “I don’t believe that it was in the
woods. Shall we split into two parties?”

“You mean one go up and one down the road?” Don asked.

“Yes. You and I will go east and Vench, Doug and Jim can go west. We’ll
sing out if we see anything.”

This plan was agreed to and the boys set out, Terry and Don running
along the road in the general direction of Portville. But they had not
gone far before someone whistled back of them.

“That’s Jim,” Don said, as they halted. “They must have found something.
Let’s go back.”

Accordingly, they turned around and ran back, passing the spot where
they had split and continuing on until they came to a bend in the
snow-covered road. Around this bend they found the other boys gathered
around a small automobile, the nose of which was smashed against a tree.
The three boys were busy around the car as Don and Terry hastened up. By
the faint light of the one headlight that was burning the two boys could
see that a figure was hunched over the wheel of the club coupe. The
others were trying to pull the man out and finding it a trying task, for
the driver was tightly pinned by the wheel, which had rammed into his
stomach.

“His feet are free,” announced Douglas, who had been giving his
attention to them. Don grasped the bent steering wheel and exerted all
of his strength. It yielded a little and he tugged some more.

“Pull, you guys,” he commanded, and they drew the body of the driver
from the car. The man was unconscious and groaned slightly. When they
had placed him on the snow in the road they saw that it was Melvin
Gates.

“Somebody run and get the bob-sled,” directed Don, and Vench and Douglas
dashed into the woods at once. Quickly and efficiently Don ran his hands
over the man’s arms and legs.

“No bones broken that I can feel,” he announced. “However, he may be
internally injured, and it is possible that some of his ribs are broken.
I wonder if we ought to move him?”

“We’ve got to,” decided Terry as the others appeared with the big sled.
“He must be taken home or to a doctor’s at once. We’ll lift him gently
onto the sled and get going right away.”

There was a blanket in the car and this they spread on the sled. Then,
with infinite care they placed the limp body of the elder Gates on the
sled and covered him up protectingly. Don and Douglas took the rope and
began to pull the sled, while Terry, Jim and Vench brought up the rear
and helped by pushing.

“Don’t you thing somebody had better run ahead and get a doctor?” asked
Vench.

“Yes,” nodded Don. “We’re not far from Portville, and we’ll take Gates
right to his home. Suppose you and Jim run ahead and get a doctor, and
we’ll take Mr. Gates to his own house.”

“OK,” cried Jim, and he and Vench set off at a brisk trot and soon were
lost to sight down the winding road.

“Car must have skidded on the road,” observed Douglas, as they pulled
the sled with its silent burden.

“It did,” agreed Don. “I noticed the marks on the snow. This old road
must be a shortcut to Portville and Mr. Gates was taking it on the way
home from wherever he has been. The snow just at that point was pretty
hard and slippery and the car hit the tree, buckling up. That was the
crash that I heard.”

“It must have been,” Douglas replied. “Do you think he’ll die?”

“Hard to tell,” shrugged Don. “We can’t be sure how badly he is hurt
inside. I hope we aren’t far from Portville.”

They were not, but it seemed like a longer journey than it actually was.
Terry helped greatly by pushing and guiding the sled over obstructions
and places that would have jarred the man. Now and then they heard low
groans from Mr. Gates, but he did not regain consciousness.

Don knew the Gates’ home by a description which the colonel had given
him and they had no difficulty in finding it. Since there was no
hospital nearby they knew that their best plan was to get Gates to his
own home as soon as possible. It was with a vast sense of relief that
they ran the bob-sled up the driveway of the Gates home and came to a
halt before the wide front doors.

“Well, I’m glad that is over!” murmured Terry, straightening his aching
back.

Don ran swiftly up the front porch and rang the bell madly. It seemed an
unusually long time before a very deliberate and correct butler opened
the door. He stared at Don with expressionless eyes.

“Mr. Gates has been hurt,” Don cried. “Get his bed ready and open these
doors wide, so that we can carry him upstairs.”

The butler came to life, his correctness vanished and he ran with
undignified but practical haste up the front stairs, calling aloud for
the younger Mr. Gates. Don opened the front doors as wide as they would
go just as Arthur Gates and his wife appeared anxiously in the doorway.
Without paying any attention to their frightened inquiries Don ran back
to Douglas and Terry.

“Lift him gently,” Don said, and the three boys exerted all their care
as they raised the elder Gates from the sled. At that same moment a car
stopped at the front gate and the doctor, with Jim and Vench, jumped
from the car. Arthur Gates lent a helping hand to the cadets and
together they carried the old man up the front stairs and to his
luxurious bedroom on the second floor. When they had laid him on the bed
the boys quietly withdrew, leaving Gates, his wife and the doctor alone
in the room with the injured man, while the agitated butler patrolled
the upper hall.

“Do you suppose we had better beat it?” Douglas whispered, after Don had
closed the front doors and kicked some loose snow outside.

“No, we’ll stay and see if his condition is serious,” Don replied.

“But his family is none too friendly with us,” Douglas persisted.

“I guess all that will be forgotten in a time like this,” Don answered.

The cadets waited. The house had become quiet after the first flurry of
excitement and no one appeared to be downstairs. To Don this state of
affairs was gratifying, for he had a plan in mind. Taking care not to
seem too curious he edged away from the others, who were looking at some
magazines on the table, and in time made his way around the downstairs
floor on a tour of inspection, keeping a wary eye about for a possible
maid or the upset butler.

He looked into a large room off the library in which the cadets were
gathered and found that it was the dining room. From there he moved to
the door which opened into a large living room, and he looked carefully
at every object on the mantelpiece. There was a small study near that
which he looked over, and then the hall and library. He returned to the
others when his tour of inspection was over.

“The cup is not downstairs,” he reflected. “I didn’t think it would be
in plain sight anywhere, but I wanted to make sure.”

After a considerable delay Arthur Gates came down the central stairs and
joined them. His face was pale and he showed signs of anxiety, but his
message was a cheering one.

“Nothing really serious,” he told them, in answer to their eager
question. “There are no bones broken and outside of a bad bruising my
father is all right. It was a narrow escape, however. Tell me how you
found him and how you happened to get a doctor here so quickly.”

The boys told him and Gates was impressed. “It was very lucky for all
concerned that you happened to be at that particular point in the
woods,” he said. “My father had been over to Easton and was taking the
old road home again. If he had remained there the result would have been
far different. I don’t know how to express my appreciation to you.”

“Don’t try,” begged Don. “We were just lucky enough to be there at the
time. We are glad to hear that your father is not in any danger.”

Gates’ eyes wandered to their uniforms. “You are cadets up at Woodcrest,
aren’t you?”

“Yes,” the boys nodded. Gates was silent for a moment. “I shall see to
it that Colonel Morrell knows of your service to us.”

“Don’t bother,” said Don, glancing at the clock. “We are late now and
we’ll have to report our reason for staying over the limit, so the
colonel will find it out from us. That will be sufficient. When you come
right down to it, it didn’t amount to much on our part.”

“You fellows are too modest,” smiled Gates, as he saw them out.

They retrieved the bob-sled and started back for the school at a rapid
pace. Terry whistled as they walked along.

“Well, it was quite a night,” he observed. “I’m glad the old gentleman
wasn’t hurt badly.”

“So am I,” agreed Don. “But it all served one useful purpose. We know
where the Gates home is and I know what the inside of it looks like.
Don’t know if that will ever do us any good or not, but it may come in
handy some day.”