THE ARRIVAL AT THE BARLOW FARMHOUSE.
My Dear Boys: This book is a complete story in itself, but forms the twentieth volume in a line issued under the general title, “The Rover Boys Series for Young Americans.”
As I have mentioned in other volumes, this line was started a number of years ago with the publication of “The Rover Boys at School,” “On the Ocean,” and “In the Jungle.” These stories were so well received that there was an immediate cry for more, and so, year by year, they were followed by the publication of “The Rover Boys Out West,” “On the Great Lakes,” “In the Mountains,” “In Camp,” “On Land and Sea,” “On the River,” “On the Plains,” “In Southern Waters,” “On the Farm,” “On Treasure Isle,” “At College,” “Down East,” “In the Air,” “In New York,” “In Alaska,” and finally, “In Business,” where we last left our heroes.
The Rover boys have, of course, gradually been growing older. Dick and Tom are both married and doing what they can to carry on their father’s business in New York City. Sam, the youngest of the boys, is still at Brill College. The particulars are given of some winter sports around that institution of learning, and then of a great baseball game in which the youngest Rover distinguishes himself. Then Sam graduates from college, and all the boys, with some others, go on a long automobile tour, during which a number of exciting adventures occur. The party is caught in a storm on the mountains, and later on are caught in a great flood. What the Rover boys did under such trying circumstances I leave for the pages which follow to disclose.
Once more I wish to thank all my young friends for the many gratifying things they have said about my books. I trust that the present volume will fulfil all their expectations, and that the reading of the same will do them good.
Affectionately and sincerely yours,
“Now then, boys, are you ready?”
“Been ready for the last five minutes!”
“Sure you’ve got all the snowballs you can carry?”
“I couldn’t carry any more if I tried,” came from Sam Rover, with a grin. “Just see how I am loaded up,” and he glanced down at both hands, which were filled with snowballs, and at the snowballs held under either arm.
“I’ve got some dandy hard ones,” put in Spud Jackson.
“Oh, you can’t use soakers, Spud!” cried Stanley Browne, who was the leader of the snowballing contingent. “That’s against the rules.”
“They are not soakers, Stanley,” was the reply. “They are only good and hard, that’s all.”
“Hi, you fellows! When are you going to start things?” came a cry from behind a snow wall up the slope of a hill. “We can’t waste the whole afternoon waiting for you.”
“We’re coming, don’t fear,” answered Stanley Browne.
“And when we arrive you won’t know what’s struck you,” announced Sam Rover gaily.
“It’s all vell enough to brag, but you’d chust better start dot fight,” came in German-American accents from behind the snow wall, and a merry face appeared in sight for an instant and a fist was shaken playfully at those beyond.
“Sound that bugle, Paul!” yelled the leader of the attacking party, and an instant later the mellow notes of a bugle floated out on the crisp, wintry air.
It was the signal for the attack, and with merry shouts the students at the foot of the hill charged upward through the snow toward the wall above.
The occasion was the annual snowball fight at Brill College. Snow fights there were, of course, without number, but each year there was one big contest in which the freshmen and sophomores attempted to hold a snow fort located on the hill back of the institution against the attacks of the juniors and seniors. According to the rules, three charges were allowable, all of which must be made inside of two hours, and if all of these failed to take the fort, then the victory went to the defenders, and they were permitted to crow over their success until the following winter.
A little over an hour and a half had been spent in the sport and two attacks had been made and repulsed, much to the chagrin of Stanley Browne, the senior in charge of the attacking army. Juniors and seniors had fought nobly, but the freshmen and sophomores outnumbered them, and, being strongly intrenched behind the snow wall of the so-called fort, had succeeded in forcing a first, and then a second, retreat.
“Say, fellows, we’ve got to do it this time, sure!” cried Sam Rover, as, side by side with Stanley, he led the attack. “If we don’t oust them they’ll never get done talking about it.”
“Right you are, Sam!” answered Bob Grimes, who also had hands and arms full of well-made snowballs.
“Remember what I told you,” came from Stanley, as he turned slightly to address his followers. “Don’t throw any snowballs yet. Do as the soldiers did in Revolutionary days — wait until you can see the whites of their eyes.”
“And then make those whites blacks!” burst out Spud Jackson, gaily. “Come ahead, and no turning back.”
Up the snowy hillside sped the crowd of students, while a number of professors and visitors watched the advance from a distance.
“Get ready for ‘em! Don’t let them come too near!” came in a rallying cry from behind the snow wall. And then, as the attacking party came closer, a volley of white spheres came flying through the air into the faces of the juniors and seniors.
It was a sharp and heavy volley, and for the instant the air seemed to be filled with flying snowballs. Many of them, of course, went wild, but others landed on the heads and bodies of the attacking party, and for the moment the advance was checked.
“Wow!” came from one of the juniors who had been hit in the ear. “Why can’t we do some throwing ourselves?”
“That’s the talk! Give it to ‘em!” came from another student who had had his cap knocked off by a snowball.
“No, no,” answered Stanley. “Save your snowballs until we get closer.”
“Come on, we’ll soon be up there,” put in Sam Rover. “Only a hundred feet more, fellows!”
There was a yell of assent, and forward the charging party went again in the face of another volley of snowballs. By bending low the juniors and seniors protected themselves as much as possible from the onslaught, but many were hit, two so stingingly that they had to retire to the rear.
“Hurrah! We’ve got ‘em on the run!” came from the leader of the fort contingent, who had mounted a tree stump located behind the wall. “Give it to ‘em, fellows! Give it too ‘em hot!”
“Now, then, boys, all together!” yelled Stanley at the top of his voice, and then the eager juniors and seniors launched their snowballs with all the swiftness and accuracy of aim at their command.
The two previous attacks which had been repulsed had taught the advancing students a lesson, and now in this third attack scarcely a snowball was wasted. Those in the front ran directly up to the wall of the fort, while those farther back spread out, as directed by their leader, to the right and to the left, sending in cross fires at points where the fort was supposed to be weakest.
It was a thrilling and spirited fight, but, although the students were greatly excited, there was little more actual roughness than there would have been at a football or other athletic contest.
“Over the wall, boys! Over the wall!” burst out Sam Rover, and the next instant he was up on the wall of the fort, quickly followed by Stanley, Bob, Spud, and several others.
“Back there, you rebels! Back!” came in a yell from the interior of the fort, and then a wild fusillade of snowballs struck Sam and his chums in various parts of their bodies.
“Jumping hambones!” spluttered Spud, as a snowball took him directly in the chin. “What do you think I’m built of, iron?”
“Get back or you’ll get worse!” was the cry from the fort, and then another snowball took Spud in the ear.
In the meantime, Sam Rover had dodged a ball which was coming directly for his face, and now he returned the fire with a hard one that took the sophomore below him in the ear. Then Sam jumped down into the fort, quickly followed by eight or ten others.
“Clear them out! Don’t let them stay here!” was the wild cry.
“Everybody around the flagpole!” was the command of the fort leader.
The flagpole was a small one located in the center of the enclosure, and from it fluttered the banners of the freshmen and the sophomore classes. Those making the attack would have to haul those banners down before they could claim a victory.
Snowballs were now flying in all directions, and it was quite probable that in the excitement many of the students let fly at their friends instead of at the enemy; but it was all good, clean sport, and everybody enjoyed it greatly.
“Now, then, fellows, for a center rush!” came from Stanley, when he and Sam and about twenty others had forced their way to within ten yards of the flagpole.
“Avalanche them, boys! Avalanche them!” came suddenly from one of the sophomores, and then without warning huge chunks of loose snow were sent flying through the air on the heads of those who were battling to get to the flagpole.
“Great Cæsar’s ghost!” spluttered Bob, as some of the snow went down inside his collar. “What is this; a snowslide?”