Read CHAPTER XIX - THE PROWLER IN QUARTERS of Dick Prescott First Year at West Point, free online book, by H. Irving Hancock, on

At eleven o’clock the next morning Bert Dodge stepped up to another cadet known as the “sick-marcher.”  Together they went to the hospital where Dodge reported to the medical officer in charge.

“What’s the trouble, Mr. Dodge?” asked the surgeon, reaching for the plebe’s pulse.

“Chills, sir, mumbled the cadet.

“Chills?  Your pulse is a bit rapid, but not suspiciously so.  Let me place this thermometer in your mouth.”

After two minutes Captain Goodwin removed the thermometer and held it up.

“Normal,” he observed, a bit puzzled.  “Dead-beating,” as it is called, or trying to get into the hospital when there is no need, is not unknown to the surgeons at the Military Academy.  But when done, it is usually tried before a boy has been there a year.  “How long have you felt this way?”

“For about twenty-four hours, sir.”

“Perhaps I’d better mark you ‘quarters’ for twenty-four hours to come,” said the surgeon, eyeing Dodge closely.

Dodge squirmed.  This was what he did not want.  Being ordered to quarters would keep him in his room.

“I’ve been fighting this off in my room, sir,” replied Dodge haltingly.  “I don’t feel well, and I thought that a day or two here, resting in bed under a doctor’s eye, might set me up.”

“Very well, Mr. Dodge.  I don’t think anything serious has assailed you, but we’ll keep you under observation for a day or two.”

Captain Goodwin completed the record of the case, then pressed a button.  A sergeant of the hospital corps entered.

“Steward, Mr. Dodge is to be put to bed.  Full hospital diet and rest.  Further instructions will be given to you later.”

“Very good, sir.”

Dodge followed the sergeant to a bathroom, there to undress and bathe.  When he had finished he was handed some pajamas.

“Where is my regular clothing?” asked Dodge of the private who gave him the pajamas.

“Sergeant Eberlee locked them up in a locker, sir, until you’re discharged.”

Bert Dodge, in a furious temper, followed the private to the bed assigned to him.  His clothing locked up!  That clothing had figured largely in his plan in coming to the hospital.

“Now I have played the fool!” thought the cadet.  “I’d planned to get out on the sly tonight, while in here officially.  Now I can’t get out except in pajamas in which I’d be spotted before I’d gone ten feet!  Hang the fool regulations of this hospital!”

All day Dodge lay fuming.  Lieutenant Doctor Herman visited him twice, still unwilling to say nothing was wrong.  For one thing, Bert was so angry that he could not eat, and that in itself is unusual in a healthy cadet who lives a very strenuous life.  Anger also gave him a flushed face and an exceptional look about the eyes.  Yet, there was nothing apparent to make a physician believe there was anything serious the matter.

Bert had the ward to himself, being the only patient in the building.  It was eight o’clock when a man in the uniform of the hospital corps came in to turn the lights low.

“Benton!” exclaimed Dodge.  “What brings you here?”

“Is that you, Mr. Dodge?” asked Private Benton, approaching Bert’s bed.  “I’m sorry to see you sick, sir.”

“I’m not sick, Benton.  But, again, what are you doing here?” Benton was an enlisted man who, for pay, had been accustomed to serving Dodge more or less surreptitiously.

“My enlistment ran out last week, sir.  So I quit the cavalry to try a three-year term in the hospital corps.”

Here was Cadet Dodge’s opportunity!  He bribed Benton to bring him his clothes and to promise silence.

“It would be time in a military prison for me if I told, sir; so you can be sure I’ll keep still,” was Benton’s remark as he let the cadet out of a back door.

As he went softly in through the east sally port, Dodge noted with joy that almost nobody was around.

“I can get by without detection,” he chuckled.  He did get just inside the doorway of the subdivision in which Cadets Prescott and Holmes dwelt before he attracted attention.  There he passed two yearlings.

“Is that you, Mr. Dodge?” rather sharply demanded one of these yearlings.

“No, sir,” Dodge replied in a strained voice and sped on upstairs.

“Queer,” muttered one of the yearlings.  “I was almost positive that was Mr. Dodge.”

Dodge was by this time in Dick Prescott’s darkened room.  He stole over to the fireplace where he worked quickly.

“I’ve fixed your career here, Dick Prescott!” gloated the treacherous youth.