The Mark of the Knife by Clayton H. Ernst
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Author: Clayton H. Ernst
Ridgley School, with its white buildings set comfortably among the maples and the oaks that crown the flat top of the hill a mile to the west of the village of Hamilton, attracts and holds the attention of all eyes that fall upon it. Partly perhaps because the dormitories and the recreation halls fit into the landscape and do not jut boldly and crudely above the trees—as so many buildings on hilltops do—there is an air of hominess and informality about the place which new visitors generally notice and mention to Doctor Wells, its head.
But it is one thing to ride up to Ridgley School in an automobile from the Hamilton Station with half a dozen other new Ridgleyites, some of whom have already become your friends, and to get your first view of the campus while cheerful voices are sounding in your ears, and quite another thing to walk up the long winding road from the village alone and to wonder as you come nearer and nearer to those neat white buildings whether you will succeed in making any friends at all among the fellows who have come up in the automobiles. Under those conditions Ridgley School might seem cold and austere and full of unpleasant possibilities.
That in fact was the situation of the newcomer who was walking swiftly toward the white buildings one morning late in September. He was entering upon an adventure that filled him with mingled excitement and gloom—excitement because of the mystery of the new life opening before him, gloom because of the necessity of giving up so much that had made him happy in the past. He went directly to the office of the Head in the building nearest the road and announced himself to Doctor Wells:
"I am Findley Holbrook."
Doctor Wells, whose face looked young in spite of the gray hair at his temples, got up from his chair and shook hands gravely. "I'm glad to see you, Findley," he said; "I hope you're going to like the school and that the school will like you. We've assigned you to Gannett Hall; I'll have one of the masters take you over and introduce you to the boys who've already come. We don't do much to-day except get settled. Did you bring your things?"
"My father is going to bring them up this noon," Findley replied. "I thought I'd better come early to start in with the other fellows."
Doctor Wells put him in charge of Mr. Stevens, who took him over to Gannett Hall, a three-story building with its ivy-covered front to the campus and its back to the tennis courts. A dozen boys were standing on the steps; they had been talking and laughing, but as the newcomer approached them with the master, their voices died away and they paused in their conversations. A black-haired boy, tall and heavily built, immediately called out: