“Line up, fellows! No crowding ahead in
“Here, Jack, give me some elbow
room if you want me to do any real snowball throwing!”
cried Fred Rover.
“All the elbow room you want,” returned
his cousin gayly.
“Remember the prize!”
shouted Andy Rover to the cadets who were stringing
themselves out in a ragged line. “The first
fellow to throw a snowball over the top of the barn
gets a sock doughnut.”
“For gracious sake! what do
you call a sock doughnut?” demanded Phil Franklin,
another cadet, as he paused in the act of rounding
up a snowball he was making.
“A sock doughnut is one with
a big hole in it,” answered Andy, with a grin.
“Then my socks must be all of
the doughnut variety,” put in one of the cadets
dolefully. “They are always full of holes.”
“Never mind the socks now!”
cried Randy Rover. “Let’s see who
can put the first snowball over the barn.”
It was late in the afternoon of a
day in January and a number of the cadets of Colby
Hall had been amusing themselves in the snow which
covered the ground to a depth of nearly a foot.
They had started in to snowballing each other, but
had then grown more serious and had built several
snow forts and likewise two or three snowmen which
later they had taken great sport in knocking apart.
Then some one had suggested that they try their skill
at seeing who could throw, the highest and farthest,
and this had led to the present contest.
“We’ll mark off a line
about a hundred feet from the main barn,” Jack
Rover had announced. “And then we’ll
see who can throw highest over the roof.”
The four Rovers were accompanied by
half a dozen of their chums and six or eight others,
and at the word from Jack the snowballs began to fly
at a lively rate, a few landing on the roof of the
big barn and the majority hitting the side.
“Say, look out that you don’t
break a window,” warned Gif Garrison. “If
you do, you’ll have an account to settle with
“Here she goes!” yelled
Dan Soppinger, and let fly with so much strength that
the snowball sailed up to the very ridgepole of the
barn and disappeared on the other side.
“Hurrah! Dan draws first blood!”
“Huh! Dan didn’t
throw over the barn, he just slid over it,” snickered
Jack was hard at work making a small
and perfectly round ball. Now, taking careful
aim, he let fly with all his might.
“There she goes fair and square,”
he announced with pardonable pride, as the snowball
cleared the top of the barn by several feet and disappeared
The snowball had scarcely been thrown
when two other balls thrown by Fred and another cadet
went sailing over the barn. Then those in the
contest seemed to acquire better skill, and soon nearly
every one of them was topping the barn with the missiles.
“Phew! some hot work, I’ll
say,” panted Will Hendry, usually called Fatty
because he was the stoutest boy in the school.
“This exercise will do you good,
Fatty,” returned Fred. “You need to
“If Fatty keeps on he’ll
be eating Colby Hall poor,” announced Spouter
“Huh! I don’t eat
any more than any of you,” grumbled Fatty.
“Fact is, I hold myself down.”
“Gee! listen to that, will you?”
exclaimed Andy. “Fatty says he holds himself
down! And this morning I saw him storing away
three helpings of sausages and about ’steen
dozen buckwheat cakes.”
“Nothing of the kind! I
didn’t have a bit more than you had,” growled
Hendry. He broke off suddenly. “Hello!
what’s up now?”
“Hi! Hi! What’s
the meaning o’ this?” cried a voice from
around one end of the big barn, and a man, dressed
in overalls and a heavy cap and carrying a broom,
“Hello there, Bob Nixon!” cried Jack.
“There’ll be a whole lot
wrong if you fellows keep on throwing those snowballs
much farther,” answered Bob Nixon, who was a
chauffeur for the Hall and who did all sorts of odd
jobs in the winter time.
“Did we hit you?” questioned Phil Franklin.
“You sure did - on the back and on
my hand,” answered Nixon.
“We didn’t know anybody
was around on that side of the barn,” announced
“I don’t suppose you did.
But never mind me. What I want to know is, do
you fellows intend to smash all the glass in those
hotbed frames out yonder?”
“Great salt mackerel!”
ejaculated Fred. “I forgot those hotbed
frames were there.”
“Why, the glass is out of ’em,
anyway, isn’t it?” questioned Gif.
“It was out. But they’ve
been setting some of ’em in again, getting ready
for some early stuff. You’ve sent those
snowballs up to within ten or fifteen feet of where
the frames are located.”
“Gosh! it’s a good thing
you told us of this,” burst out Fatty Hendry.
“We might have had a nice lot of glassware to
“Not you, Fatty,” grinned
Andy. “You never even hit the top of the
barn. If you break any glass it will be in some
of those basement windows.”
“Come on up to the other end
of the barn,” suggested Gif. “Then
the snowballs will fly right out into the open field
and do no harm.”
“Well, I don’t care where
you throw ’em as long as you don’t get
into mischief,” answered Bob Nixon, and disappeared
into the barn.
After that the cadets continued to
throw over the structure for some time. But then
they gradually lost interest, and as the short winter
day was coming rapidly to an end some hurried into
the Hall to do a little extra school work before the
bell should ring for supper.
“Well, what next?” questioned
Fred Rover, when he and his three cousins and Gif,
Phil and Spouter found themselves left alone.
“I’ve got a great scheme
for to-night if you fellows will help,” announced
Randy. He and his twin brother were always ready
for a joke.
“What is it?” questioned Jack quickly.
“This snow is just soft enough
for rolling some big balls, as we found out this afternoon,”
answered his cousin. “What’s the matter
with making a whole lot of big snowballs and placing
’em in some of the bedrooms to-night?”
“Gee, that’s the talk!”
cried his twin merrily. “I’d like
to place a couple in Codfish’s room.”
“He certainly deserves ’em,”
added Fred. “He’s getting to be just
as big a sneak as he ever was. All of our kindness
to him seems to have been useless.”
“And I thought he was going
to turn over a new leaf,” declared Jack.
“I wonder if some of the other fellows haven’t
been teasing him and that has made him go back to
his old tricks.”
“I know one person I’d
like to treat to some big snowballs!” broke out
Fred. “That’s Professor Duke.”
“Oh, say! I’d like
to square up with him myself,” burst out Andy.
“Gee! he certainly did have it in for us yesterday.”
“Professor Duke is certainly
a sour one - much worse than Asa Lemm ever
dared to be,” came from Gif.
“I was thinking of Duke when
I mentioned it,” said Randy. “You
know he has his room in our building instead of with
the other professors in Colonel Colby’s residence.”
“We don’t want to get
in bad with the colonel,” remarked Fred seriously.
“Oh, I think we can fix it so
that nobody will know who did it,” returned
The matter was talked over for several
minutes, and then, having agreed on their plan for
more fun, the Rover boys and their chums set to work
rolling a number of snowballs which were two feet or
more in diameter. These they placed close to
the school building at a point where there was a series
of fire-escapes leading down from the upper halls of
“We can let down the ladder
just as soon as we’re ready to turn the trick,”
announced Randy. “I don’t believe
anybody will notice it, for it will be dark and so
cold that most everybody will be indoors.”
“We’ve got to be on our
guard to make certain that Codfish or Duke or somebody
else doesn’t spot us,” said Spouter Powell.
“Of course it wouldn’t hurt if some of
the regular fellows found us out, because they’d
keep it to themselves.”
It must be confessed that the Rover
boys were rather preoccupied in mind during supper
that evening. In fact, Andy grew so thoughtless
that he salted some eggs he was eating three times,
so that when he finally came to his senses the food
had to be pushed aside. This happened just as
Professor Snopper Duke was passing, and the new teacher
eyed the young cadet suspiciously.
“What is the matter with that
omelet, Rover?” he demanded, in his high-pitched,
nervous tone of voice.
“Nothing the matter with it,
sir,” answered Andy. “Only I somehow
forgot and salted it too much.”
“Really!” returned Snopper
Duke sarcastically. “Is that the way you
“No, sir. It was only a mistake,”
answered Andy meekly.
“You ought to be made to eat
that omelet,” continued the professor severely.
“Don’t let such a thing happen again.”
And then, with his eyes rolling around among the other
cadets to see if anything else might be wrong, he
passed slowly down among the tables of the mess hall.
“Oh, isn’t he a perfect
little lamb!” murmured Randy. “So
“Somebody ought to wring his neck,” grumbled
“Just the same, Andy, you’d
better be careful how you handle the salt-shaker after
this,” put in Jack.
After the meal the Rovers and their
chums mingled with the other cadets and informed two
or three of what was in the wind, and as a consequence
there was quite some excitement noticeable when a little
later the crowd, with the exception of Randy, slipped
out of the school building by a side door. Randy
ran upstairs, to appear presently on the lower landing
of the fire-escape. Here was suspended a heavy
iron ladder in such a fashion that it could be easily
shoved out so that one end would drop to the ground.
Soon the crowd of cadets appeared
in the snow below him, and then, with a warning to
them to get out of the way, Randy let down the ladder
and then came down himself.
“All clear upstairs,”
he announced. “Not a soul in sight.”
“One of us ought to stay on
guard up there to give warning in case it’s
necessary,” announced Spouter.
“Well, suppose you go up,” returned Jack.
“I’d just as soon help
with the snowballs,” returned Spouter. “But
if you want me to go I’ll do so.”
And a moment later he disappeared up the ladder and
into the school building through a window which had
been thrown open.
The cadets on the ground found it
no easy task to raise the big snowballs up the ladder.
They tried it first with nothing but their hands, but
soon found they could do much better by dumping a
snowball into a big overcoat and then hauling it up
by the sleeves and the tail of the garment. They
worked as rapidly as possible, and soon had eight of
the snowballs raised to the platform of the fire-escape.
“How about it? Everything
clear?” questioned Randy, as he came into the
corridor where Spouter was on guard.
“All clear so far,” was
the reply. “A few of the fellows are in
their rooms, but no one that we are going to bother.”
“Then let’s get those
snowballs inside and distribute ’em.”
In a few minutes the snowballs were
gotten inside the building, and then two were rolled
and pushed over to the room occupied by Henry Stowell,
a cadet commonly called Codfish on account of the
broadness of his mouth. Luck was with them, for
the door was unlocked, so that they had little trouble
in rolling the snowballs inside, where they were placed
one on either side of the single bed the cadet occupied.
After this the cadets rolled several
of the balls to various other rooms, one being placed
in the tub of a bathroom.
“I’ve saved the biggest
of the snowballs,” whispered Randy. “That’s
the one we must place in Professor Duke’s room.”
The professor’s room was around
in another corridor, and to get to this the cadets
had to roll the big snowball directly past the top
of the broad stairs leading to the hall below.
They had the snowball in a position right at the head
of the stairs when Spouter, who was leaning over the
upper railing on guard, gave a sudden hiss of warning.
“Somebody coming!” he
announced in a whisper. “And unless I’m
mistaken, it’s Professor Duke!”
“Gosh! I hope he doesn’t
catch us,” returned Gif Garrison. “Maybe
we had better run for it.”
“Here he comes right for the
stairs!” put in Jack, as he saw the familiar
form pass a light in the lower hall.
The cadets did not know just what
to do, and while they paused to consider, Professor
Duke started up the long, straight stairs. He
was evidently in deep thought and did not look above
“Run, fellows! Run!”
whispered Andy excitedly, and then, as the others
started away he attempted to follow. But the floor
was wet from the melting snow, and down he came flat
on his back, both feet hitting the big snowball squarely.
The movement was sufficient to send
the snowball directly to the edge of the top step.
Here, as Andy scrambled to his feet, it hovered for
a moment, then began to slide down the stairs, gathering
speed from step to step.
“Hi! Hi! What is this?”
those above heard Snopper Duke ejaculate. And
the next instant the teacher set up a yell of alarm
as the big snowball hit him in the stomach and hurled
him to one side. Then the snowball passed on
down the stairs, slid across the lower hallway, and
shot directly through the open door leading to Colonel
Colby’s private office!