Chapter X The Feast - The Rover boys on a Tour by Edward Stratemeyer

When Tom came back accompanied by Stanley and Spud, all had their arms full of the things purchased in Ashton.

"And this is only the half of it," announced the fun-loving Rover to his brother, in answer to a query. "We've got to go back and get the rest out of the automobile."

"We'll bring that stuff up," said Stanley. "You stay here with your brother. Come on, Songbird, I see you are doing nothing, so you might as well give us a lift," and off the three boys trooped to bring up the rest of the things purchased for the feast.

"I'm mighty glad you are going to give this, Tom, on Songbird's account," announced Sam, when he and his brother were left to themselves. "Songbird is about as blue as indigo. You see, it isn't only the money--it's Minnie. Her father won't let him call on her any more."

"Tough luck, sure enough," responded Tom. "Well, let us do all we can to-night to make Songbird forget his troubles." Tom took a walk up and down the room, halting in front of a picture of Grace which was in a silver frame on a chiffonier. "Pretty good picture, Sam," he observed.

"Yes, it is."

"Did you say that you had been out with Grace lately?"

"Oh, yes. We had a fine sleighride only the other day."

"She's made quite a friend of a Miss Ada Waltham at the seminary, a rich girl, hasn't she?"

"She has mentioned Miss Waltham to me. I didn't know that they were particularly friendly," answered Sam. "You know this Miss Waltham is very rich."

"So I heard, Sam. She is worth about a quarter of a million dollars, so somebody said. But she has a brother, Chester, who is worth even more.

An uncle died and left nearly his entire estate to the brother."

"Is that so? Lucky young fellow! But I don't see how that interests me, Tom," and Sam looked at his brother inquiringly. "You act as if you had something on your mind."

"So I have, Sam; and that is one of the reasons I came here to-day,"

announced Tom. "I'll tell you about it in the morning," he added hastily, as a tramping was heard in the hallway; and the next moment the door burst open and in came Stanley, Songbird, Spud and one or two others, all loaded down with bundles and packages.

"Make way for the parcels post and the express company!" proclaimed Spud, as he dropped several packages on one of the cots. "Say, Tom, you must have bought out half of Ashton."

"Only three-eighths, Spud," answered the fun-loving Rover, gaily. "You see I knew what an awful appetite you had, and as I had an extra twenty-five cent piece in my jeans I thought I'd try to satisfy that appetite just once."

"Twenty-five cents! Wow!" commented Stanley. "I'll wager this spread costs you a good many dollars."

Word had been passed around to a number of Tom's old friends, and they were all requested to be on hand by ten o'clock.

"Tubbs says he begs to be excused," announced Paul Orben when he came in. "He says he has got some studying he must do."

"Nonsense! He's afraid we'll treat him to some sauerkraut pie and some pickled pastry," returned Tom. "I don't want him to stay away and miss a good time. What room is he in?"

"Number eighteen."

"Then come along, some of you, and we'll bring him here," announced the fun-loving Rover, and marched off, followed by Spud and Bob. In the meanwhile, Sam, Songbird and Stanley brought the things from the closet and began to prepare for the feast.

Tom and his friends found William Philander busy folding and putting away half a dozen gorgeous neckties. He was rather startled at their sudden entrance, and did his best to hide the articles.

"Hello! I thought you were boning away on trigonometry or mental science," was Tom's comment. "Say, old boy, that's a gorgeous necktie,"

he added as he picked up a creation in lavender and yellow. "Did you buy this to wear at the horse show, or at a meeting of mothers' helpers?"

"Oh, my dear Rover, please don't muss that up!" pleaded William Philander, snatching the necktie from Tom's hands. "That is one that was--er--made--er--a--a present to me."

"Oh, I see. That's the one that blind young lady gave to you. I admire her taste in picking it out."

"Blind lady? I--er--have no blind lady friend," returned William Philander.

"Oh, yes, I remember now, Tubby, she was deaf--not blind. It's a wonder she didn't pick out something a little louder."

"Oh, Rover, I really believe you are poking fun at that necktie,"

returned the dudish student.

"We came to get you to come to the feast, Willie," announced Spud. "We don't want you to miss it."

"We wouldn't have you miss it for a peck of shelled popcorn," put in Bob.

"Yes, but really, I've got some studying to do, and----"

"You can study after the feast is over, my dear boy," broke in Tom, as he caught William Philander by the arm. "You'll be surprised how much quicker you can learn on a full stomach than on one that is half vacant.

Come on!"

"Yes, but I----"

"We haven't any time to spare, Tubblets. You are going to the feast, so you might as well make the best of it. Come on, fellows, help him along.

He's so bashful he can't walk," and thus urged, Spud took William Philander's other arm while Bob caught him by the collar and in the back, and thus the three of them forced the dudish collegian out of his room and along the hallway to Number 25.

By this time something like fifteen students had gathered in the room, and the advent of Tom and his chums with the somewhat frightened William Philander was greeted with a roar of approval. The dudish student was marched in and made to take a seat on a board which had been placed on two chairs. On the board sat several students, and William Philander was placed on one end.

"Now, then, everybody make himself at home," announced Tom, as soon as a look around had convinced him that his brother and the others had everything in readiness for the feast. "I believe you'll find everything here except toothpicks, and for those we'll have to chop up one of Sam's baseball bats later on."

"Not much! You're not going to touch any of my bats," announced the younger brother, firmly.

"Sam wants to keep them to help bat another victory for Brill this spring," put in Spud. "My! but that was one great game we had last season."

"So it was," put in another student. "And don't forget that Tom helped to win that game as well as Sam."

While this chatter was going on various good things in the way of salads and sandwiches had been passed around, and these were followed by cake and glasses of root beer, ginger ale and grape juice.

"Why, this is perfectly lovely," lisped William Philander Tubbs, as he sat on the end of the board-seat, his lap covered with a paper napkin on which rested a large plate of chicken salad and some sandwiches. In one hand he held an extra large glass of grape juice.

"Everybody ready!" announced Stanley, with a wink at several of the boys. "Here is where we drink to the health of Tom Rover!"

"Tom Rover!" was the exclamation, and at a certain sign all the boys seated on the board except William Philander leaped to their feet.

The result was as might have been expected. The dudish pupil had been resting on the end of the board, which overlapped the chair, and with the weight of the others removed, the board suddenly tipped upward and down went William Philander in a heap, the chicken salad jouncing forward over his shirt front and the glass of grape juice in his hand being dashed full into his face.

"Hi! Hi! What--er--did--er--you do that for?" he spluttered, as he sat on the floor, completely dazed. "Say! why didn't you tell me you were going to get up?" and then he started to wipe the grape juice from his eyes and nose.

"Hello! Salad's going down!" cried one student gaily.

"Say, Tubbs, there is no use of throwing such nice food as that away even if you don't want it," chimed in another.

"Don't you know enough to stand up when a toast is to be drunk?" queried a third.

"I--I--didn't quite understand," stammered William Philander, and then with an effort he extracted himself from the mess on his lap and slowly arose to his feet. "My gracious! I believe I have utterly ruined this vest and trousers!" he added mournfully, as he gazed down at the light gray suit he wore.

"Oh, a little gasoline will fix that up all right," said Spud. "Don't let a little thing like that interfere with your pleasure, Tubbs. Come on--here's another glass of grape juice. No use of crying over spilt milk--I mean juice," corrected the youth.

"Tom Rover! Everybody up!" came the call, and then amid a subdued murmuring of good luck the boys stood around Tom and drank his health.

"Thank you, fellows, very much," answered Tom, and there was just a suspicion of huskiness in his voice.

"Speech! Speech! Give us a speech!" came from several.

"Speech? Great guns! I never made a speech in my life," announced Tom, and now for the first time he looked a bit confused.

"Oh, you've got to say something, Tom," cried Stanley.

"What shall I talk about--earthquakes in India, or the spots on Tubbs'

pants?" queried Tom, with a grin.

"Never mind what you talk about so long as you say something," came from Bob.

"All right then--here goes!" announced Tom after a little pause. "Catch this before it's too late. I'm glad to be here, otherwise I wouldn't be here. I'm glad you are here, otherwise you wouldn't be here. I think Brill College is the best college any fellow could ever go to, if that hadn't been so I'd never have gone to Brill. I'm sorry I couldn't stay here to graduate, but I've left the honor to Sam here, and I trust he'll get through and make a record for the whole family. Boys, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. And here's wishing you all success at graduation and success through life," and thus concluding his little speech, Tom took a generous drink of ginger ale, while the others applauded vigorously.

"Very good!" cried Sam, but then added quickly: "For gracious sake!

don't make too much noise or you'll have one of the monitors here and we'll get some black marks."

"That's right, fellows," announced Stanley. "After this we'll have to be as noisy as a mouse in a cheese factory."

"Now that I have been called on to make a speech," announced Tom, after quietness had been restored, "I am going to call on Songbird for one of his choice bits of poetry."

"Oh, now, Tom! please don't do that," pleaded the would-be poet of Brill. "You know I'm in no humor for writing poetry now."

"All the more reason why you should write some," announced Sam. "Come on now. You must have something tucked away in your system--I mean something brand new."

"Well--er--I've got something new, but I hardly think it is appropriate for this occasion," answered Songbird slowly.

"Never mind; give it to us no matter what it is," cried one of the students.

"Let her flutter!"

"Poetry for mine!"

"Let her flow, Songbird!"
"That's right. Turn on the poetry spigot, Songbird;" and thus urged the would-be poet of Brill began:

"The world is black and I feel blue, I do not know what I'm to do, That fellow hit me in the head And left me in the road for dead.

I go around from hour to hour And I am feeling mighty sour.

I am consumed with helpless woe----"

"Because I lost that heard-earned dough,"

completed Tom, rather suddenly, and this abrupt ending caused a general laugh.