Percy Keese Fitzhugh
Part 2 out of 3
Anyway, I suppose you think by this time that we're all crazy. I should
Anyway, you can bet I didn't stay there long, because I wanted to find
out if Wig's signal had been received. Maybe you won't understand, but
down the river it seemed all right and I was sure somebody must have
caught it. But after we landed and I started up home, it seemed as if
it was just kind of playing, after all, because that's the way some
people think about the scouts, so I hurried as fast as I could so that
my mother and father wouldn't be worrying. I felt awfully funny, kind
of, as I went up the lawn because I knew that if no one had come and
told them about the signal, they'd think I was dead.
They were sitting on the porch waiting for me and I knew from the way
my mother put her arms around me that they had been worrying. She asked
we what had kept me so late and my father said that I ought to send
them some word when I was going to stay out as late as midnight. I have
to admit he was right, too.
But anyway, I knew that they hadn't received any word about me from
anybody, and I was all up in the air about that. I could see that Jake
Holden hadn't been there at all and that nobody had come and told them
about the signal, either. I didn't exactly ask them, but I could tell
it all the same. So I told them all about everything that happened,
about how I got caught in the marsh and all that, and especially about
Wig being such a hero. Then she cried a little, kind of, and I said
there was no use crying because I was home all right. But anyway, she
cried just the same, and hugged me awful tight just as if everything
hadn't ended all right. That's a funny thing about mothers.
So then I went to bed and I lay awake thinking about everything that
happened. What I thought about most was why Jake Holden hadn't come
and told my mother and father like I heard him say he was going to
do. You remember how I heard him say that. So that was a mystery--that's
what Pee-wee would call it. And I was wondering why he hadn't come to
the house to give them that note he had found. Because I knew Jake Holden
(he always called me "Scouty") and he liked me, too, and I knew he
would sure have come to the house if something hadn't happened.
Now that I was all calmed down, as you might say, I wasn't surprised
any more about no one reading the signal, because maybe it didn't show
very plain in Bridgeboro and anyway, most grown people seem to think
that signalling and all that kind of thing are lots of fun for scouts,
but not much use except when grown people, and especially the navy, do
Anyway, I should worry about grown people, because we have plenty of
Oh, boy, didn't I sleep that night! When I got up I made up my mind
that I'd go to Jake Holden's shanty, just for the fun of it, and find
out why he didn't come and tell my family that I was dead. Because, if I
was dead, he sure ought to have come and told them. Of course, I knew I
wasn't dead, but anyway, how did he know that? After breakfast I did my
good turn--I turned my sister Ruth's bed around for her so as it faced
the bay window. I was going to turn it twice and tall it two good turns,
but she said that wouldn't be fair--that that wouldn't be two good
turns. I said it would be just as fair as Pee-wee turning the ice-cream
freezer till the cream was all frozen and then saying he did a hundred
good turns. Then she threw a tennis ball at me, but it missed me. That's
one thing about girls, they can't throw a ball. They can't whistle,
Now comes another adventure. After breakfast I went to Marshtown
(that's a few houses down near the river) to Jake Holden's shanty.
It's a funny kind of a place made out of barrel staves and part of a
boat all jumbled up together, and it looks kind of like a chicken coop.
He lives all alone and kind of camps out. He's a nice man, you can bet,
only you have to get on the right side of him. If you can't get on the
right side of him the safest place is behind him. He catches fish and
crabs and goes around town selling them.
He taught me how to cook.
When I got to his shanty I saw it was locked up and he wasn't anywhere
around. I guess he event down the bay crabbing. Anyway, I ran as fast
as I could to Marshtown landing to see if he had gone yet, but there
wasn't any sign of his boat there. Maybe you think I wasn't
disappointed. Anyway, I began looking around like a scout is supposed
to do, to see if there were any signs to show me whether he'd be back
soon, because maybe he only went up to the club landing for gasoline.
But there weren't any signs and he didn't show up.
Now, if I hadn't been a scout I would have gone home and played tennis
or followed the shore up to the club landing and waited for the troop
to come and go to work on the houseboat. But instead of that, I kept
looking around and pretty soon what do you think I saw? I saw a
footprint. Some Robinson Crusoe, hey?
It was a funny kind of a footprint. It wasn't Jake's, I knew that,
because he always wore fisherman's boots. It was in the soft earth near
the landing and I could see it plain. I guess maybe it was made by a
good shoe, because it was pointed, but it was all worn out, that was
one sure thing, because there was a place that was made by a stocking
or a bare foot, where there wasn't any sole at all.
Maybe you don't know much about deduction, but that's one thing scouts
learn about, and I tried to make out what it meant, but it had me
guessing. Because the shoe was pointed and had the remains of a rubber
heel--I could tell that by the big screw holes. And that meant good
shoes. And I thought it was funny anybody who could wear good shoes
would let them wear out like that.
Anyway, it was none of my business, only there was one mighty funny thing
about that footprint. There was an Indian's head stamped right in the
mud. It wasn't very plain, but I could see it was an Indian's head all
right. It was something like the Indian's head on a cent.
Oh, boy, I was all up in the air then, because I didn't understand how
that could be there, Maybe you'll say that it was stamped there to show
what make of shoes they were, but that's where you're wrong, because
most of the sole was all worn away and the mark would be worn away, so
somebody must have cut it there lately, that was one sure thing, and I
couldn't understand why any body would want to cut that on an old
So I sat down on the edge of the float to think about it and then I saw
two or three more just like it, and even more, too, only not all of them
were so plain. Believe me, I didn't know what to think. Then all of a
sudden I happened to remember that the Indian's head is the design of
the scout pathfinder badge.
Jiminetty, but didn't I get down on my knees and study those some
more. Maybe it didn't have anything to do with the scouts, but maybe
And even if it did I couldn't make out what it meant, because that shoe
was no scout shoe. I know a scout shoe when I see one, you can bet.
Anyway, I made up my mind I was going to follow that track as far as I
could. Maybe it would peter out on a street or something and then--good
You'll see what happened in the next chapter. Oh boy, it's going to be
One thing, I wished Tom Slade was there, because he was the best tracker
we ever had. He could track an airplane--that's what the fellows used to
say. But he was over in France and the only other fellow in our troop
who is a crackerjack at tracking, is Westy Martin. I don't say that
just because he's a Silver Fox, because I have to admit that Artie Van
Arlen and Wig Weigand are heroes, and they're not Silver Foxes. But,
honest, Westy is a winner when it comes to tracking, and you've got to
remember that, because now I'm going to tell you some other things
about him and maybe you won't know just what to think. But I'm going
to tell you straight just what happened.
Well, I decided that I'd rather have another fellow with me, because
that's a good rule in tracking and anyway two fellows are better than
one. And anyway, I knew he could hold a track longer than I could. He
got the pathfinder's badge for one of the best tracking stunts that was
ever done up at Temple Camp and he's done enough tracking stunts to win
it two or three times over. He's a fiend on tracking.
By now I knew that the fellows would all be coming down to the boat club
landing to work on the houseboat, because we had it fixed that they would
all be there by nine o'clock. I wasn't going to flunk on that, you can
bet, but I thought if I told them about the footprint they'd let Westy
and me off for a little while, because if a scout is after a merit badge
he can usually get leave all right. Anyway, that's the way it is in our
troop. And all the fellows knew I had the tracking bee, all right. Gee,
I hate to tell you about this, but I have to. Now, the way you get from
Marshtown landing up to the boat club landing is to follow the shore and
its only about a quarter of a mile. After I'd hiked it a little way, I
could hear the fellows talking and sawing and hammering, and I knew they
were all busy working.
When I got there they were all over the houseboat like flies, painting
and varnishing and fixing up the flagpole, and I could hear Pee-wee as
usual, shouting away. Jiminy, but it sounded good.
Then I could hear somebody say, "Well, well better late than never," and
I saw it was our scoutmaster, Mr. Ellsworth. He took a day off to help
"I'm only six minutes late," I said; "Silver Foxes always show up."
"Well, let us hope so," Mr. Ellsworth said
And I kind of saw that something was wrong. "Westy isn't here," somebody
"He'll be here in a minute," I said; "get to work; you should worry about
But just the same I felt sort of uncomfortable because one thing Mr.
Ellsworth is a stickler about is us being on time. Whenever a scout comes
late for campfire up at Temple Camp or at a troop meeting either, he
always gets a look from T. E. At camp we have breakfast at 7:42 and
lunch at 1:23 and supper at 7:13, just to teach the fellows to go by
Anyway, I started working with my patrol, who were painting the deck. I
stuck right to it, but all the time I was wishing that Westy would show
up. Every time I heard a sound I looked up. Because maybe you don't know
that a patrol leader is responsible for his patrol and if one of them
falls down, it's just the same as if he fell down. First the fellows
kidded us about it, especially me, and spoke about the Tardy Foxes, and
the Sleepy Foxes, but pretty soon Mr. Ellsworth came to me and said he
guessed I'd better go into the club house and telephone to Westy and
find out what was the matter.
"Find out if he's awake yet," somebody said.
"Maybe we'd better send a taxi for him," another fellow shouted.
"You think you're very funny, don't you?" I said, "Maybe you raving
Ravens won't rave so much when you find out he's sick in bed." So I went
in and telephoned, and oh, jiminy, that was the first time in my life
that I ever really wished a fellow was sick. But his mother told me he
hadn't been home since about half-past seven and that when he went out
he had a catching-mitt and a baseball with him.
Jiminies, I don't often get scared, but I could feel my heart up in my
mouth, kind of, and I didn't know what to tell the fellows and Mr.
Ellsworth. It was like a disgrace to my patrol and it disgraced me, too,
you can bet. He would go off and play ball and let us fellows do all the
work on the boat and then he'd go in it up to Temple Camp. Gee, that's
one thing a scout never is-mean. We had it all fixed up to work and then
he flunked and let us do it all.
First I thought maybe I'd kind of not tell Mr. Ellsworth all about that
phone call and say I couldn't hear very plain, and all like that. But I
saw if I did that, I'd be worse than Westy. It was bad enough having a
slacker in my patrol without having a liar.
So I just went up to him and I said, "Mr. Ellsworth, he's out playing
ball somewheres and I guess he didn't intend to come. I admit it
disgraces my patrol and it disgraces the whole troop. I was going to ask
you if you thought maybe I could go away for an hour or so to follow a
track I found, but I won't now; I'll just stay here and work twice as
hard so as to make up for him. And the other fellows in my patrol will
too. Maybe that will make it seem not quite so bad."
DURING NOON HOUR
One of the things that made me feel especially bad was that Wig Weigand
and Artie Van Arlen were there working, even after being nearly
killed the night before, and Artie was kind of lame, too, from straining
his ankle when he fell. Gee, I had to hand it to those fellows. And even
Pee-wee was working away with the rest of the Ravens and running to buy
nails and everything.
Both of the other patrols were all there except Tom Slade in the Elks,
but they kept his place open for memory, sort of.
After a little while Mr. Ellsworth strolled over to where I was working
and said to me--gee, he was awful nice the way he said it--he said,
"Roy, if you want to follow up that trail you may as well go ahead and
come back after lunch. We're going to hit the eats pretty soon now."
That's the way he always says it, "hit the eats."
"I was expecting Westy to go with me," I told him.
"Well, no matter," he said; "Go alone and don't worry any more about
Westy. It wasn't because Westy or any other single scout was needed
here for we have plenty of scouts on the job, but it was just that he
didn't show up when we all planned to be here, that's all. I don't
like to think of any; of my scouts falling down."
"It's the same about my patrol," I said, "and I'm ashamed, that's one
He said I shouldn't feel that way and that he guessed playing baseball
was good exercise anyway. But he only said that so I wouldn't feel bad.
Anyway as long as they were going to eat I thought I might as well go
ahead and see if I could do that tracking if it didn't take me too far.
On the way down to the other landing I thought what I'd say to Westy.
I knew he'd get a troop reprimand, but I decided he'd get a patrol
reprimand too, you bet. And I was feeling pretty bad about it too,
because none of the Silver Foxes ever got a troop reprimand. They got
patrol reprimands but not troop reprimands. And Westy had gone and
spoiled it all and, gee, that's one word I don't like--slacker.
When I got to the other landing I started following that trail. If you
think Westy had anything to do with it, you're mighty mistaken, because
he didn't. He always wore scout shoes, I knew that.
Well, believe me, that trail was a cinch and I could follow it as easy
as a clothes line. It went right up through River Lane where there
isn't any pavement and every footprint was plain. I was afraid it would
go through Daws Place, because that's the easiest way to get to Main
Street, and I'd lose it there on account of the pavement. But it didn't,
and, oh, boy, wasn't I glad! Instead of going that way the tracks went
right up across the ball field, just as plain as print. That's another
way to get to Main Street, and it brings you out at Harvey's candy
store, but don't ever go there for ice cream cones, because you get
bigger ones down at Jack's.
Then I lost the trail on account of the pavements. Gee, that's one thing
I don't like about pavements. So there's where I did some deducing. Maybe
you don't know what bridging a trail-gap means. You have only yourselves
to blame for not being scouts. Bridging a trail-gap means stopping to
think when you lose a trail. You have to decide where it most likely
starts again. That's what grown-up scouts call mental tracking.
So I sat down on Ridgeway's carriage step and thinked a couple of
thinks. That's right on Main Street, you know, and I had to decide
if that person went up or down Main Street or across the street.
Right across the street is the big bank building. I've got forty-two
dollars and eighteen cents interest in that bank. Mr. Temple is the
head of it, and he's awful rich--he owns railroads and things. He
started Temple Camp. He calls me "Curly" because my hair curls. I
Right down alongside of the bank runs Barrel Alley. It reminds you of
Fifth Avenue, it's so different. That's where Tom Slade was born, down
there. Most every day somebody dies down there, but anyway there are
paving--stones there now, that's one good thing. Except for tracking. So
you see how it was that person, who ever he was, could have gone up Main
Street or down Main Street, or over the stone crossing into Barrel Alley.
I decided that he went across into Barrel Alley for several reasons. One
was that he went across the ball field, and that meant that he'd have to
get down and crawl under the fence, so I decided it was not a grown-up
person, because most of them have stiff backs and they'd rather walk a
mile than crawl under a fence. They're all the time saying they're not
as young as they used to be. And if it was a boy he'd be most likely to
go into Barrel Alley because, believe me, they have boys down there by
the dozens, especially the kind that wear worn-out shoes that rich people
give them. So that accounts for the good shoes all worn out. Smart boy,
So you see that's the way I bridged that trail, though I couldn't be
sure I was right, I have to admit that. Anyway I went across the street
and I saw by the clock in the bank that it was half past twelve. I knew
I couldn't go much farther because I wanted to get back to the
house-boat by one.
I started down Barrel Alley, watching the mud along the edge of the
sidewalk, so I could tell if the fellow left the sidewalk to go into
one of the houses. Barrel Alley is a blind alley-that means it has an
end to it and you can't go any further. It runs plunk into the end of
Shad Row. Norris Row is the right name, but old man Norris is named
Shadley Norris, so us fellows call it Shad Row. You can get through
the end of Barrel Alley if you climb over old man Norris back fence, so
it isn't exactly a blind alley. It's just a little near-sighted, kind of.
Anyway I started through it and I knew if my quarry (that means the
fellow you're tracking) went down there, he most likely went into
one of the tenement houses and I'd see that footprint as soon as he
turned off from the sidewalk.
Well, pretty soon I did see it right alongside the sidewalk just where
he started to go into one of the houses. And oh, wasn't I tickled! If it
hadn't been for Westy Martin and the way he'd acted I would have felt
as grand as the Grand Central Station. But that was the thing I was
thinking most about and when you're thinking about something like that,
you don't have as much fun--I know I don't anyway.
But as long as I was there, I might as well find out who it was I had
tracked and solve the mystery about the Indian head. That's the way
Pee-wee would have said it, "Solve the mystery!" He gets that kind of
talk out of books. The next-chapter is going to be a dandy and I
promised to let him give it a name, so don't blame me whatever it is.
"Good night!" I said to Pee-wee, "what kind of rags do you call those?"
"Didn't you ever hear of noble rags?" he yelled; "that shows how much
you know about story writing."
"Are they any relation to a dish rag?", I asked him.
"You think you're smart, don't you," he said; "do you know what a hero
is--a ragged hero?"
"Sure, a hero is a male shero," I told him; "you learn that in the
third grade. Just the same as a cowardice is a female coward."
"You make me sick!" he yelled.
"I've heard of gasoline rags and dish rags and wash rags," I kept up,
"but I never saw any noble ones. Have your own way. I should worry."
"It's a good name for a chapter," he said.
"I wouldn't know a noble rag if I met one in the street," I told him.
So that's how this chapter got it's name, and I don't know what it means
any more than you do. I suppose the next one will be called "Trash
Paper," or something like that.
Well, anyway, I stood on that doorstep for a few minutes, because I
didn't know what to do next. I was sure the fellow went in there, but
I didn't know where he went and anyway, I didn't, have any excuse to
hunt him out because I was only tracking him for a stunt. Anyway I
went in and when I got upstairs one flight I saw just a sign of that
print in the ball just in front of a door. The hall was all dirty and
greasy like. So by that I was pretty sure he had gone in there and you
see how I tracked him all the way from Marshtown landing. Then I made up
my mind that he sure wouldn't be mad if he knew I did it just for a stunt
and I'd tell him I was scouting. For just a minute I was scared, then I
gave a rap on the door.
Oh, but it was dark and it smelled bad in that hall. I guess they ought
to tear down that row of tenements. Pretty soon I rapped again, and I
felt kind of funny, because I didn't know what I ought to
say--especially if a woman opened it. All of a sudden it opened very
soft, and, good night I who should be standing there but--who do you
Jiminetty, but wasn't I flabbergasted! Even as surprised as I was, I
looked down at his feet and sure enough he had on scout shoes, almost
new. Talk about plots growing thicker! This one was getting so thick
you couldn't drive a nail into it.
"Well--what--are--you--doing--here?" I gasped out just like that.
"Shh," he said, "keep quiet; come in, but keep quiet."
So I went in, all flabbergasted and there was a room with the paper
all falling off the walls and no carpet On the floor, but anyway the
windows were wide open, that was one good thing. And over in the corner
was an old cot without any sheets or anything and, oh, gee, it looked
bad because I've got a dandy bed up in my den--all brass and filigree
But, crinkums, I didn't notice the cot much because there was a fellow
on it and as soon as I looked at him I knew who it was, even though he
looked worse than he most always did. It was Skinny McCord.
"You waked him up by knocking," Westy said
"It isn't the first knocking I did to--day," I said "but I guess I can
see how it is now--I guess I can."
"It's only a good turn," he said; "he did you a good turn, and so I had
to do one for him, that's all. It's for the scouts too, and I don't
care what they say."
Then I happened to notice a catching mitt and a baseball over on a table
near Skinny, where there was some medicine too. And then, all of a
sudden, everything seemed to glisten like, especially when I blinked
my eyes. Gee, I know how easy it is for girls to cry, but a
fellow--anyway--when I saw Westy sit down on the edge of that cot and
not pay any attention to me, only to Skinny, I couldn't speak at all.
I only just happened to think to do something and I'm glad I thought
about it. I just raised my hand and made Westy Martin the full scout
salute. Patrol leaders don't do that mostly to the fellows in their
patrols, but I should worry about rules and things like that.
"You're taking care of him?", I said as soon as I could, and I felt all
foolish sort of. "I tracked him, but I never thought"--and I just
couldn't say any more.
But even still Westy didn't speak to me, only he said to Skinny, "Here's
a real patrol leader come to see you--that's a big honor, that is, and
he just made you the full salute. You remember it in the Scout Handbook?"
"I made that salute to you," I said to Westy, all choking, I have to
admit it, "and I meant it too."
"You're a great tracker," he said; "wouldn't you like to be as good a
tracker as he is, Skinny?" And I could see that all he cared about was
"Don't talk about me," I said; "I'm a big fool, that's what I am, but
tell me all about it."
"There isn't anything to tell," said Westy, "except that Skinny always
wanted to be a scout, but he didn't have any money and all like that.
But anyway, he got the Handbook and studied it all up and it got him."
"Same as it gets any fellow that looks inside of it," I said.
"And the part that interested him most of all was tracking and
signalling. You see how he carved the tracking emblem on one of his
"You needn't show it to me," I said, "I saw it."
"Last night," Westy said, "he read that smudge signal, because he
learned the Morse Code out of the Handbook, and he knew that somebody
might be coming up the river with the false report. He didn't know just
what he ought to do and I guess he was scared to go up to your house
because he didn't have any good clothes. So he ran down through the
marshes and waited at the landing, because he knew Jake Holden would be
coming up stream. Jake's one good friend to him, and he often took him
out and he wasn't afraid of Jake.
"Pretty soon he heard Jake's boat coming up the river and saw the light
and he just waited there and when Jake come up alongside the float, the
first thing Skinny heard him say was, Roy Blakeley is dead--didn't you,
But I could see that Skinny's eyes were shut now and he didn't
"Go on," I said. "So Skinny told him it wasn't true, and told him
about the signal. Jake didn't pay much attention because he thought
Skinny was just a little crazy on account of being so poor and hungry
and all that and not having a good home. So he was going up to your
house anyway and Skinny cried and hung onto him, and begged him not to.
I guess he went on kind of crazy, but he said he was sure because he knew
the Morse Code. Anyway, just to humor him, I guess, Jake promised him
he'd wait till early in the morning, and meanwhile you came home. Do
Honest, I couldn't answer him.
"Skinny was the one who did it," he said. "That accounts for his tracks,
don't you see?"
I shook my head to show him I understood. But I couldn't say it.
"And that's how tracking and signalling have brought the three of us
together--see?" Westy said. "It's funny, isn't it, how it brings the
three of us together here in this tenement house."
"How did you come here?" I said.
"I was just starting for the house-boat this morning early, when I met
Skinny's mother. She was going to do her day's washing. And she told me
how she had to leave him sick in bed, and she asked me if I'd go and
stay with him till she got back. I went back and got the ball and mitt
because I thought maybe he'd like them. She said he got a bad cold in
the marshes and he was all excited and kind of crazy from the way he'd
hung onto Jake and begged him not to go up to your house--what did the
fellows think when I didn't show up?"
"You--you should worry," I just blurted out.
"Anyway I don't care so much about the troop
or Mr. Ellsworth either," he said, "and even if I cared about Skinny it
wouldn't do much good, because he's going to die--the doctor says so. But
I care a lot about you and he did you a good turn. I was afraid he might
die before you had a chance to pay him back. So I just sort of tried to
pay him back for you--"
All the while he was talking I could hardly hear what he was saying and
there was one word ringing through my head.
It was the word slacker.
THE TWO CROSSES
I guess maybe I'd better tell you about Skinny now, so you'll know all
about who he is. Before I was a scout I used to call him Wash-board,
because he was so skinny you could have used his ribs for a wash-board.
I guess I used to think that was funny, but, gee, when you get to be a
scout you find out what real fun is and you don't call names like that.
He always lived down in Barrel Alley and his mother goes out washing.
Once Skinny's father hit him on the head and it made him queer like. But
he got better mostly. Only he was always afraid of people after that. His
father went away and got killed. Sometimes Skinny sold papers at the
station, but he was always scared of people, especially rich fellows.
How should I know he was interested in Scouts? He didn't have much to
eat, I guess. Anyway Jake Holden was a good friend to him and he wasn't
scared of Jake. I guess maybe he had consumption.
He didn't wake up again then, anyway he didn't open his eyes, and as soon
as his mother came home from her work Westy and I went home. I wasn't
thinking anything about the house-boat now. I was only thinking about
Skinny and I had my mind all made up, too. I didn't say anything to
Westy, but on the way home I decided what I was going to do.
It was the scout trail that took me to that tenement house and if you
follow a scout trail you're safe. That scout trail knew what it was
doing all right. There wasn't any trail leading to the house-boat.
Stick to your trail. That's the rule. And you can bet your life I was
going to stick to that trail now. If that trail was going to lead to
the cemetery, all right--that's what I said. But I had picked up Skinny
McCord's trail and I made up my little old mind that I was going to hang
on to it and follow it like a blood-hound.
That night we were going to have a special troop meeting to decide about
chipping in money for our cruise up to camp, because we didn't have much
left on account of spending so much for paint and lumber and different
I knew how the fellows and Mr. Ellsworth would be feeling about me not
coming back and Westy not showing up, and I knew how the Silver Foxes
would feel, especially. But anyway, I had my mind all made up. After
supper my sister Ruth played a game of tennis with Westy. While they
were playing I went up to my room and got out the Scout Handbook. Then
I read the scout laws over, but anyway I knew them. I had read them all
and I made two crosses with a pencil, one alongside of one law and one
alongside another. Then I put the Handbook in my pocket and went
It was time to go to the meeting now and so we started off.
"You seem awful funny," Westy said; "what's the matter?"
"It's patrol business," I said; "it's about--"
"Is it about me ?" he asked me.
"It's about my patrol," I said; "it's about the Silver Foxes. Did you ever
hear that a Silver Fox never makes a mistake about a trail?"
"No," he said, kind of puzzled.
"You want to read up natural history," I said to him. "A silver fox knows
the tracks of all the different kinds of animals and if he could talk he
could tell you about them."
"Too bad he can't talk," Westy said, sort of jollying me.
"I can talk," I said. Then after a minute I laid, "It's about the Elk
He didn't say any more and pretty soon we got to the troop-room--that's
in the Public Library. We were a little late, but I wanted it that way,
so we wouldn't have any talk with anyone before the meeting started.
Everyone said "hello" to us, but they were the coldest "helloes" you ever
saw. "If I'd known it was going to be as cold as this. I'd have worn my
sweater," I told Westy. Even my own patrol didn't say anything to us,
and they all looked kind of glum. I heard Will Dawson say something
about our patrol being "in bad," but I didn't pay any attention--I
Now the way we sit at the beginning of troop meetings is in three rows
and each patrol is one row. The patrol leader always sits at the right
hand end of the row and Mr. Ellsworth sits in front. If there are any
local councilmen they sit in front with him. But it doesn't look much
like that after things get started, I can tell you that, That night Mr.
Bennett was there, too. He's on the Local Council.
When Westy and I went up to our row to sit down, nobody said anything to
us at all, not even the fellows in our own patrol. Ralph Warner was
sitting in my seat at the end, and he said, kind of cold like, "Do you
want to sit down here?"
"Of course I want to sit down there," I told him; "I'm the leader of this
patrol. Where should I sit?" So he moved over kind of glum and I sat down
in my chair at the end, right beside the Silver Fox emblem that stands in
a rack on the floor. Maybe they had an idea of electing a new patrol
leader, hey? I should Worry.
As soon as we were all ready Mr. Ellsworth. called the roll and Westy
and I were marked late. Then Mr. Ellsworth read a couple of notices and
said the special meeting was called for several purposes. He said one
was to draft a letter of gratitude to Mr. Donnelle for loaning us the
boat, and one was to decide (he always says determine, but decide is
easier) how much each scout could chip in for the expenses of our cruise
up the Hudson to Catskill Landing.
Then he looked very serious and said one of the patrols had all signed
a petition (all except two absentees, he said) asking him to order an
election in that patrol for a new patrol leader.
"I have been asked," that's just what he said.
"I have been asked to administer a troop reprimand to a member of the
patrol of the Silver Foxes for absenting himself throughout the day from
urgent troop duties with no better excuse than a desire to play baseball.
This I shall have to do. The new election is asked for in order that a
patrol leader may be found who will not leave his patrol and his duties
on a mere pretext and not return. I authorize this election. Meanwhile
Wesleigh Martin will please stand up."
I could see that Westy's face was kind of white and his lips were tight
together and I knew be didn't intend to say anything.
SCOUT LAW NUMBER THREE
Now, I can tell you just exactly what Mr. Ellsworth said, because I
remembered it and I wrote it down right afterwards. First I was afraid
Westy would say something and I didn't want him to, because--well,
you'll see. So now I'll copy what Mr. Ellsworth said. Oh, jiminy, you
could hear a pin drop, everyone was so quiet. He said, "Wesleigh
(that's Westy, you know), I have been asked by your own patrol to give
you this public reproof, and I speak for the whole troop as well, when
I remind you that your action today in absenting yourself and thereby
avoiding your share of the work we had undertaken to do, was
unscoutlike and unworthy of you, and unworthy of the patrol whose fine
traditions you were bound to guard and support. You knew that to be
entitled to your share of the pleasure of this purposed cruise, you
would have to do your share of the work. You knew that to--day was set
apart for concerted effort by the whole troop to make this boat ready for
starting next Saturday. You knew that at the urgent request of some of
you boys I arranged to spend the day helping you. You were one of the
boys who asked me to do this. You remember?"
"We meet here to-night after a hard day's work, pleasant as work always
is, but hard nevertheless. You will have the satisfaction of knowing
that you will occupy a bunk which your companions have made ready for
you, and that you did not yourself hammer so much as a single nail.
Arthur Ivan Arlen and Wigley Weigand, both weary and one lame, after
a frightful experience, were here and helped to make the boat safe and
comfortable for you. They were loyal to the Raven Patrol. I hope you may
be moved to appreciate the interest and spirit which they displayed while
you were playing ball.
"When you have an opportunity, Wesleigh, I would like to have you read
the scout laws again and bear in mind particularly your obligation of
loyalty to your scoutmaster, which of course, means to your scout
duties--your troop and your patrol. I kept my word with you to--day and
you did not keep your word with me. The house-boat is ready for our
cruise, and I hope that you, along with all the members of the troop will
find the trip enjoyable. That is all, Wesleigh, unless you have something
Oh, gee, you should have heard the silence--I don't mean heard it--but
there wasn't a sound. Then Westy said, "I haven't got anything to say."
And then he sat down.
I knew that it was time then for me to do what I wanted to do, but I
couldn't get up because I felt all shaky. I was holding to the pole of
the Silver Fox emblem that was right beside me, and, oh cracky, I felt
funny. All of a sudden I heard Mr. Ellsworth say that he wouldn't say
anything to Roy Blakeley because the patrol was going to have an
election and then I heard Will Dawson, of my patrol, say under his
breath, sort of, that there'd be only one fellow to vote for me, and
I knew he meant Westy Martin. Gee, I'm glad I heard him say that
because it gave me a kind of an idea what to say and it made me mad,
and when you're mad you have courage--you know what I mean, you can get
up and talk. Jiminy, I knew I couldn't make a speech like Mr. Ellsworth
with all long words, and besides I had to be careful that it didn't
seem as if I was just answering him back.
So then I grabbed tight hold of the emblem pole because, I don't know,
it seemed to give me courage kind of, and it was my emblem and my patrol
for a few minutes yet, anyway. But oh, didn't my hand tremble. Anyway I
could see that Mr. Bennett was sort of listening and I wasn't so much
scared after I got up.
This is what I said, only I didn't say it as well as it sounds here on
account of being nervous, but I should worry as long as I knew I was
right, hey? "I heard a fellow in my patrol say just now" that's the way
I began, "that there is only one Silver Fox would vote for me because I
went away and didn't come back. I know he meant Westy and he's the one
fellow I'd want to vote for me, anyway, you can bet. I don't care what
happens, I don't, if Westy will only vote for me. Because he's one real
scout and none of the rest of you know anything about scouting alongside
of him--You don't. And anyway I don't care so much if I'm not leader any
more, if I could only be sure you'd elect him leader--"
"He stands a tall chance," I heard a fellow say.
"About as tall as Pee-wee," another fellow said.
He was trying to be smart.
"Maybe he'll have a tall chance, as tall as the Woolworth Building," I
said; "you'd better keep still. I want to ask Mr. Ellsworth if I can say
something--while I'm still Silver Fox leader, that's all."
"Surely you may, Roy," he said, kind of pleasant.
"Because there's one more thing I'm going to say for my patrol. I--I
started that patrol and--"
Oh, gee, then I broke right down, not exactly crying, but you know,
there was something in my throat and I just couldn't talk for a minute.
"Go on, Roy," Mr. Ellsworth said, and he was awfully nice, I have to
So I said how I started that patrol and did the best I could and always
told the fellows to be loyal and how disgrace spills all over just like
Mr. Ellsworth himself told us.
"Anyway, Mr. Ellsworth," I said, "I can't say it as good as I'd like to,
"Take your time, Roy," he said.
"Anyway, you remember how you spoke about the laws." I was holding tight
to the Silver Fox standard and it kind of helped me to speak, and I guess
pretty soon my voice didn't shake. "I know all the laws," I said, "and I
think more about them than I do about stunts and adventures and things--"
"How about baseball?" a fellow said, but I didn't pay any attention
to him, and Mr. Ellsworth frowned at him.
"And only to-night I looked at them," I said, "and I made marks next to
two of them." Then I fumbled in my pocket and got out the Handbook, and
I reminded myself of a lawyer. Anyway I could see Mr. Bennett smile at
Mr. Ellsworth. "Gee, I wouldn't say anything against the laws, that's
one sure thing," I said, "because they're all dandy laws, you can bet.
But maybe a fellow might not know which one to obey because he can't
obey them all at once, can he?"
Mr. Ellsworth said he didn't know about that and he looked kind of
surprised. I should worry, I wasn't scared now. "Suppose he's on his
way to obey Law 8 and keep his word and be loyal to his troop and his
scoutmaster," I said. "That's Law 8, isn't it?"
Mr. Ellsworth looked surprised and said, "yes." And Mr. Bennett was
smiling with and awful funny kind of a smile.
"And suppose while he's on his way he runs plunk into another law.
Goodnight! What's he going to do? Maybe you don't know which law I mean
by another one. It's number 3, and I can say it without even looking at
the book. Even if they elect--"
I guess Mr. Ellsworth could see my voice was I trembling, because he
said, "Take your time, Roy, you have us interested."
I have to admit I was feeling bad, but anyway I said the law right off
without looking at the book.
3. A SCOUT IS HELPFUL.
He must be prepared at any time to save life, help injured persons,
and share the home duties. He must do at least one good turn to
"Maybe you never noticed that the part about good turns is printed in
italics. You know what italics mean--you learn that in the Second Grade.
It means that that special thing IS emphasized, see?"
Mr. Ellsworth was smiling a little, but anyway he was listening and so
was Mr. Bennett. Gee, I didn't see anything to smile at.
Now I have to admit that I got kind of excited and I didn't know much
what I was saying.
Sometimes I had to stop on account of that lump being in my throat. But
anyway, I kept on and I held on tight to my emblem--the Silver Fox
"So that's what I mean," I said, "and, this morning Westy was on his way
to help on the house-boat and he met" (oh, jiminies, I guess I didn't
know how I was talking now, I was so excited) "and he met Skinny
McCord's mother and she told him about Skinny being sick on account of
a good turn he did for me--keeping Jake Holden from going to my
house--and she asked him to go up and stay with him and he didn't think
any more about the house-boat, and I'm glad he didn't, and I told him
that, and I'm his patrol leader yet, anyway. I tell him that, I do! And
he went home and got his baseball and his catching mitt and it cost a
dollar and seventy-five cents, and he took them to Skinny just so as
he'd kind of forgot being sick. Westy saved up to get that mitt and I
know all about it. And he stayed all day with Skinny and the doctor
says, he says Skinny has got to die, but anyway Westy stayed all day
with him--that's what he did. And I'm glad you fellows are going to
elect a new leader if you want him to reprimand Westy, be cause you'd
never get me to do it, I can tell you that!"
Oh, crinkums, there wasn't a sound. It had to stop because I was
gulping and all excited, but I started again, you can bet.
"And there's only one thing more I've got to say," I told them. "I got
on the trail--I mean Skinny's trail. And it took me to his house in
Barrel Alley. I picked up his trail down at Little Landing and it had
the scout's pathfinder sign printed in the mud. And I--I'm--I'm a scout,
I am, I don't care what you say, and I followed it. And maybe, for all
you know, it was put there, for me to follow-maybe. It took me to where
a fellow was sick, it did, and it showed me one of my own--one of the
Silver Foxes, doing a good turn to pay Skinny back for the good turn
he did for me. And I stayed there to help and I forgot all about the
house-boat, and I'm glad I did. And I hope that whoever these fellows
elect, he won't let them chip in for the cruise, but I hope he'll have
them chip in to send Skinny up to the country--I don't care what the
doctor says. Once a doctor said that--he said that my father--"
And that's all I had a chance to say. Gee, I couldn't tell you what
happened next. All I know is, I heard my Scout Handbook go kerflop on
the floor and Vic Norris of the Ravens grabbed the Silver Fox emblem
right out of my hand and began waving it. All of a sudden I saw Westy
and he didn't say anything only put his arm around my shoulder and he
started to say something and, oh, I don't know, he just couldn't. Then
I heard a fellow asking him what was the matter, because he was husky,
kind of, and his eyes shiny-you know. And he said he had a cold. Oh, boy!
"He caught cold from drinking out of a damp glass," Doc Carson shouted.
Honest, you couldn't hear yourself think. And Pee-wee--g--o--o--d night!
Then Mr. Ellsworth held up his hand and we all quieted down.
"Before we go any further," he said, "and while our lungs are working
overtime I want every member of the Raven Patrol and every member of
the Elk Patrol to give three cheers for the Silver Foxes, scouts, real
scouts, everyone of them, and for their leader, Roy Blakeley. After
that you can hold your election."
THE END OF THE MEETING
Oh, boy, some excitement! "Excuse me while I blush," I said. For they
were all shouting and Pee-wee was on top of the table dancing and
yelling, "Hurrah for the Solid Silver Foxes! Three cheers for the
Sterling Silver Foxes!" Believe me, that kid is self-starting, but
he isn't self stopping.
Then I told them that I had something more to say, and they shouted it
was their turn to do the saying, and believe me, they did--with something
left over. At last Mr. Ellsworth got us throttled down and he told me to
say what I had to say, because Mr. Bennett had a word or two for us.
So I told them my idea that I'd had in my head all the time, and you
just wait and see how many adventures it led to. That's one good thing
about good turns; they most always start something. Already Pee-wee
I told them I thought instead of keeping Tom Slade's place open, kind of
in memory of him, it would be better to put Skinny McCord in that vacant
place and take him up to Temple Camp and help him to get well. Then I
told them how he read the Handbook, and how he was crazy about scouting,
only he was scared of the fellows because he was so poor. And then I said
that findings is keepings and that Skinny belonged to the Silver Foxes,
and they would make a present of him to the Elks on account of Tom
"Anyway," I said, "when Tom gets back he'll be old enough for
assistant scoutmaster, so it's all right."
Then Mr. Ellsworth said, "Very good," and that Councilman Bennett had
something to say. This is what he said, because Mr. Ellsworth wrote it
out for me, and he remembered almost just how it was. Oh, but he's one
fine man--Mr. Bennett--he's on some kind of a board and he helped build
the hospital and he likes the scouts and he wishes he could shin up a
tree--he said so. So this is what he said.
"My young friends, I have listened with a good deal of something or
other (it's too much bother to spell it out) to our young leader of the
Silver Foxes, and I must say that the Silver Foxes are solid fourteen
karat gold. I am a lawyer myself and I wish to express my professional
admiration of the way Leader Blakeley presented his case."
"The pleasure is mine," I said under my breath, because I just couldn't
Then he said like this--he said, "If Skinny McCord wishes to cast his
lot with such boys as these, he shall not find the means lacking. I
will furnish his suit and such sundries as he needs. I agree with
Leader Blakeley that doctors are sometimes mistaken. Let us hope it
may be the case in this instance. The cruise to camp must be made;
let nothing interfere with that. If some of you boys wish to go into
the city in the morning you may have the pleasure of purchasing
Skinny's outfit. I would suggest that the Silver Foxes do this in
order that their gift may go complete to their comrades of the Elks.
I think I have your scoutmaster's permission to do this."
"Sure you have!" Pee-wee shouted.
"We'll go in on the 9 A. M. train," Westy said.
"What time does the 9 A. M. train leave?", Pee-wee shouted. "Oh, but
it's great!" He was half crazy.
"The nine o'clock train leave at 8.60," I told him, "and you have to
get a transfer--"
"To what line?" he shouted.
"To the clothesline," I said.
"You make me sick!" he yelled, "You haven't got any
what--do--you--call--it--hero--something or other--"
"That talk will have to be strained through a sieve," I said. "Don't
mind him, Mr. Bennett, somebody's been feeding him meat. He goes to
the movies too much. He's known as the human megaphone. All step up
and listen to the Raving Raven rave--only a dime, ten cents, ladies
Even Mr. Bennett had to laugh.
"Now all we've got to have is a girl," Pee-wee shouted, "because we've
got a poor lad--I mean--you know what I mean--noble poverty and a boat
and heroes doing good turns--"
"And Ravens turning somersaults," I said.
"And all that," he kept up, "and Roy foiled his prosecuters--I mean
"You mean executers," Doc said.
"And all we need now is a heroine," Pee-wee said, while he danced up
and down. "A poor girl--I mean a maiden--with gold hair--if we could
only rescue one--oh, wouldn't it be great."
"Even if her hair was only gold-filled it would be something," Connie
"You're crazy!", Pee-wee shouted, "it shows none of you know anything
Oh, jiminy, I can't tell all the stuff we shouted. You see, it was just
because we were feeling so good. And Mr. Ellsworth didn't try to stop
us. The next chapter is about two dollars. I don't mean it's worth that
much. I don't know what I'll name it yet.
Olive oil*--that's the French way to say, "So long." Anyway, it's
something like that. I should worry.
[*Au revoir is probably what he meant.]
MOSTLY ABOUT SKINNY
This chapter I am going to fill with some stuff about a two dollar bill.
That isn't so bad for poetry, is it? I got that idea out of a story by
Sir Walter Scott--putting poetry at the top of the chapters. Mr.
Ellsworth says sometimes a fellow might get killed for writing poetry.
I should worry--a scout is brave.
You can bet that if Pee-wee had his way we'd have all gone into the city
that very night and broken into a store to get Skinny's outfit. But nix
on that hurry up business when it comes to Mr. Ellsworth. "Scouts are not
made in a day," he said to Pee-wee, "and the outfit doesn't make the
scout anyway, remember that."
"Any more than a merry-go-round makes a good turn," I said.
So Mr. Ellsworth went to see Skinny and his mother, and then he went to
see the doctor, and he found out that Skinny wasn't going to die right
then, but that something was the matter with his lungs, and that he'd
keep getting sick all the time probably and wouldn't grow up. Oh, boy,
when Mr. Ellsworth once gets on your trail, good night! That's just
the way he hauled Tom Slade into the troop, head over heels. And look at
Connie Bennett, too. Mr. Ellsworth had to hypnotize Connie's mother
and now Connie's a first class scout. After two or three nights he
brought Skinny to meeting, and oh, cracky, but that kid looked bad.
He just sat and watched us do our stunts and he was scared when
anybody spoke to him, except Mr. Ellsworth. And he was coughing
a lot, too.
After the meeting Westy and I and Mr. Ellsworth took him home, and just
when we left him he asked us if maybe he'd live long enough to get the
pathfinder's badge. And oh, gee, it made me feel good the way Mr.
Ellsworth answered him.
He said, "Well, I can't exactly promise that because I don't know how
long it will take you to win that badge, but if you think you can win
it inside of forty or fifty years, I think you'll be there to grab it
when it comes." Oh, jingoes, but we've got one dandy scoutmaster. I
don't care what you say, he's the best one in America. And when he said
that, Skinny kind of smiled and then you could see how thin he was,
because the wrinkles came all around his mouth.
Well, on Saturday Westy and Dorry Benton and Ralph Warner (they're all
in my patrol) went into the city to get Skinny's outfit, so we could
give him a surprise at the meeting on Monday night. I didn't go because
I wanted Westy to have the say, and I didn't want him to think I was
butting in, because Skinny belonged to him, as you might say. Besides
I had to cut the grass to my sisters could play tennis with Johnny
Wade--honest, that fellow is there all the time. He's got a machine,
but I never saw it. I guess maybe it's a sewing machine, hey?
Now I didn't know how much money Mr. Bennett gave Mr. Ellsworth. All I
know is that when the fellows came back they had everything for Skinny,
or most everything. Because they came up to Camp Solitaire (that's the
tent I have on our lawn) and we opened the whole business. Pee-wee was
there and the first thing we knew he Was shouting that there wasn't any
"We used all the money we had," Westy said "and it isn't worth while
asking Mr. Bennett for any more, even if there's one or two things
Oh, jiminy, Pee-wee went up in the air. "Why didn't you get a belt-axe,"
he shouted; "don't you know a belt-axe is the most important thing of
all? It's the sign of the scout! It's more important than the uniform."
"He'd look nice going down Main Street with a belt-axe and no uniform,"
I said; "you're crazy on the subject of belt-axes. What's the matter,
are you afraid Hindenberg is going to invade Bridgeboro? You should
worry about a belt-axe. Wait till he's a tenderfoot."
"That shows how much you know about scouting," he yelled; "the belt-axe
is the emblem of the woods."
"The which?', Westy said.
"The emblem of the woods," he hollered at the top of his voice. "You have
to have a belt-axe first of all. It's more important than the Handbook.
It means woodcraft and--and--and all that sort of stuff!"
Well, first I just laughed at him and jollied him along, because I know
how crazy he is about things like that--he'd wear every badge in the Hand.
book on his chest if he had the chance. And he's always getting new suits
and things, because his father is rich. Pee-wee's all right only he's
daffy about all the scout stuff that you see in the pictures and he
always has his belt-axe dragging on his belt, even when he's home, as
if he expected to chop down all the telegraph poles on Main Street.
"You have belt-axes on the brain," Westy told him.
"He's got them on the belt anyway," I said.
"You ask Mr. Ellsworth about it and see what he says," Ralph Warner
said. "He'll tell you it's better for Skinny to wait till he can earn
a little money and then buy a belt-axe. There's time enough."
"Sure he would," I said, because I know just how Mr. Ellsworth feels
about things like that. And for all I know, maybe he didn't want
Skinny to have everything at the start, just so as he would be able
to get some things all by himself later. Because Mr. Ellsworth thinks
that's the best way. Of course, we always jollied Pee-wee about his
belt-axe and about wearing his scout-knife and his drinking cup
hanging from his belt right home in Bridgeboro, as if he was in South
Africa, and Mr. Ellsworth always said he was the typical scout--that's
the word he used--typical.
But now I began to think maybe it would cause some trouble and I hoped
he wouldn't be giving Skinny any of that kind of talk. But he did just
the same, and it made a lot of trouble. Pee-wee's all right, but I
don't care if he knows what I said, because it's true.
On Monday we had it fixed for Skinny to come up to Camp Solitaire,
and Westy and I would teach him some stuff out of the Handbook. Then
we were going to give him the new stuff so he could put it on,
because we wanted him to feel good--you know what I mean--when he went
to meeting. We didn't want him to feel different from the other
fellows. But usually we don't do that until a fellow takes the
Oh, boy, but wasn't he proud when we put the khaki suit on him, and
fixed the hat on his head. He smiled in that funny way he had that
always made me feel kind of bad, because it made his face look all
thin. And he was awful bashful and scared, but anyway, he was proud,
I could see that.
So then I opened the Handbook to page 59, where there's a picture of
a scout standing straight, making the full salute, and I told him he
should stand straight and try to look just like that. He said, "I ain't
fat enough," but I told him not to mind, but just to look at that picture
and he'd know how he looked as a boy scout.
"How soon will I be one?" he said. And I told him pretty soon.
Now I thought about that picture early in the morning and I made up my
mind I would show it to him when he got dressed up. You can bet he
didn't look very much like it but a lot I cared about that, as long
as it made him feel good. So early in the morning before he came, I
took my two dollar bill (that's my allowance my father always gives
me Monday morning) and put it in the Handbook at page 59, so that I
could find the place all right.
After I showed the picture to Skinny I shut the Handbook because I
wouldn't need it any more and I laid the two dollar bill down on the
table in a hurry, because I wanted to straighten Skinny's belt and fix
his collar right and make him look as good as I could. Anyway I laid
an oar-lock on the bill so it wouldn't blow away. I've got two
nickel-plated oar-locks that my patrol gave me on troop birthday, and
I keep them in my tent except when I go to camp.
Westy was telling Skinny how fine he looked and, oh, gee, Skinny was
happy, you could see that. Of course, he didn't look very good, I have
to admit it, but he had a smile a mile long.
"You're all right," I told him, "all you have to do is to stand up
straight and think about scouting and the oath and the laws, and then
you'll look like one."
Then he said, "I have to have one of those axes, don't I?"
"You should worry about an axe," I said! "You didn't see one in the
picture did you?"
"Wasn't it because the boy in the picture was facing me, and you wear
the axe in back, don't you?"
"Don't you worry," I told him, "I know that fellow in the picture and
he hasn't got one on."
"One of your scout fellows says you have to have one," he said, kind
"Good night!" I said to Westy, "Pee-wee's been at it."
"He knows, too," Skinny said.
"You mean that little fellow?" I said. "Has he been talking to you?"
"Yes," he said.
"Forget it," I told him! "If that kid had his picture taken he'd stand
with his back to the camera so as to show his belt-axe. If he had the
Gold Cross he'd pin it on the end of his nose so everybody'd see it.
The principal thing to wear is the scout smile, you take it from me.
When you see Mr. Ellsworth to-night you ask him about the belt-axe and
go by what he says. That's the one to go to--your scoutmaster."
"But anyway it's in the book about the axe," he said, and oh, gee, I
could see how he fell for that axe. I don't know, it was something
about it, I supposen "It's all right for a tree to fall for an axe,
but don't you," I said. That was a joke.
"You got to have one when you go chopping trees, haven't you?" he asked
"You forget it," I said, and I decided I'd give Pee-wee a good bawling
out after the meeting. Then I started straightening Skinny's suit and
telling him how swell he looked and how he must always take off his hat
to ladies. He was interested all right, but I could see how the belt-axe
kind of had him, and I suppose it was because it was bright and shiny
and a weapon, sort of. That's the way it is with lots of fellows when
they start being scouts.
We tried to get him to go in the house to supper with us and then go to
the meeting, but he was kind of scared and wouldn't. I guess it was
because I live in a big house and because my father is rich--but anyway,
he never acts that way, that's one sure thing. And, gee, nobody can say
Ruth and Marjorie wouldn't have been nice to him too. So we left him in
the tent and told him to read the Handbook, but to be sure to go home
and get his supper in time to be at the meeting that evening. We made him
the full salute just for fun, and oh, didn't he smile and look proud. I
bet he was proud going up Main Street too.
"I'd like to get my hands on that kid," I said to Westy, as we went
across the lawn; "he makes me sick with his heroes and his noble rags
and his belt-axes. He's got that poor kid's brain full of fancy stuff
before he's even a scout."
"That's just like him," Westy said, "but he'll get over it."
"Emblem of the woods!" I said. "Did you hear that?"
"I guess he told Skinny we were going to chop down some saplings
to-morrow for stanchions on the boat," Westy said.
"Goodness knows what he didn't tell him." I
said, "Skinny will be chopping down all the fence rails in Barrel Alley
if Pee-wee has his way."
Oh, boy, we had huckleberry pie for supper, and didn't Westy and I have
"There's only one thing scouts like about huckleberry pie," my father
said, "and that's the taste of it."
After supper Westy and I started for troop meeting. It was getting dark
fast and we went scout-pace down the hill, because after all that had
happened you bet we didn't want to be late. No, siree.
All the while we were talking about just what I ought to say when I
presented Skinny to the Elks, because that's what we were going to do
that night. And I was the one to do it, because I was patrol leader.
Westy had a blue ribbon, because that's the Elks' color, and he was
going to pin it on Skinny with an express tag that he got that day.
He had it all written nice and neat on the tag.
From the Silver Foxes to the Elks.
Handle with Care.
I told him to put prepaid on it, too, and then he said it would be a
good idea to put some thrift stamps on Skinny's face. Jiminy, that
fellow Westy has some crazy ideas.
"Believe me, it'll be great," he said.
"The Elks will have some training to do, that's one thing," I said.
"He'll learn soon enough, all right," Westy answered.
"I guess it would be a good stunt to have a flag sticking up out of his
collar," I said; "he won't mind, he'll just smile. He doesn't get mad,
that's one good thing about him."
"I like to see that smile, don't you?" Westy said, "it's kind of bashful
"He's going to pan out all right," I said, "you take it from me."
Then we said how it might be good to put him in a barrel and mark it "A
gift from Barrel Alley," but we decided not to because it might make him
feel so kind of bashful and scared--you know what I mean.
All the while I knew what I was going to say, and this was it:
Scouts of the Elk Patrol, we present you with this
testimonial (my sister said that was a good word to
use) of our steam--I mean esteem. You get fifty green
trading stamps besides. This youth is positively
guaranteed to grow, if kept in the sun and to win the
pathfinder's badge before the summer is out. He is made
of fast colors and will not run--except when he's
tracking. He should be kept away from explosives such
as Pee-wee Harris.
With love and kisses from the Silver Foxes.
"Oh, it will be great!" Westy said, "we'll do it before Mr, Ellsworth
takes up the collection for the cruise, hey?"
"G--o--o--d night!" I said and I stopped short.
"What's the matter ?" Westy said.
"I'm glad you said that," I told him; "I forgot my two bucks."
"I'll go back," Westy said; "you wait here." There wasn't any time to
stop him and anyway, he can beat me running, I have to admit that.
"Where did you leave it?" he called back.
"I laid it right on the table," I shouted, "and I laid an oar-lock on it
to keep it from blowing away. Feel around and you'll get It. Hurry up."
I saw him going back up the hill for all he was worth and then I sat down
beside the road to wait for him. I got to thinking about the house-boat
and the fun we'd have cruising up the Hudson and how Skinny would get
fat and eat a lot, and especially how he'd stare when he saw Jeb
Rushmore. He's our camp manager, and just wait till you see him, that's
all I say.
But mostly I was thinking about the fun we'd have presenting Skinny to
the Elks, and, oh, boy, I could just see Mr. Ellsworth laugh with that
funny laugh he has--trying not to. And you can bet I was glad we had
Skinny started. Because when a fellow once gets on the trail, he's a
goner. Oh, bibbie, that was going to be some meeting! Pretty soon Westy
came running back down the hill.
"Did you get it?" I asked him, but, of course, I knew he did. He was so
much out of breath that he couldn't answer and even after he stopped he
had to pant it out, kind of.
"It wasn't there," he said.
"Wasn't there!" I said; "you're crazy. Sure it was there. Where did you
"I looked just where you said," Westy panted, "and all around besides.
First, I felt all around with my hand and I lifted the oar-lock and it
wasn't underneath it."
"Maybe you got the wrong oar-lock," I said, all excited; "there are two
"The other one was hanging up," he said; "I found your flashlight on the
duffel-bag and poked the light all around and I saw the other oar-lock
hanging up. I threw the light on the ground, too, because there's a
pretty strong breeze up there."
"How could the breeze blow it away when it was under the oar-lock?" I
said. "It was a new two dollar bill."
"Well, it wasn't there, anyway," he said.
Then for a minute we both stood there and neither one of us said
anything. I know what I was thinking, but I didn't want to say it. I
guess Westy was thinking the same thing, too. We both sat down beside
the road and after a couple of minutes, he said, "Maybe a tramp took
"Jerry wouldn't let anyone on the grounds," I said. Jerry's our gardener.
"And besides Don wouldn't, either." He's our dog--he's a collie. "Well, it
isn't there, anyway,"
Westy said; "I lifted the oar-lock and felt underneath and I laid it down
again, right where it was--on a book or something. When I flashed the
light it wasn't there. Come on, we'll be late. I'd let you have two
bucks if I had that much extra, but I've only got two myself. You can
chip in yours to-morrow, it'll be all right."
I got up and I felt awful funny.
"Anyway, there's no use being late,"' he sald, because I kind of just
"It isn't that I'm thinking about," I told him, "It's--"
"I know," he said, "I thought about that, too, but we've got to hustle."
So we started down the hill and neither of us said anything. Of course,
we were both thinking about Skinny, but neither one of us would say it.
"Pee-wee's to blame in a way," Westy said, after a while; it's the
belt-axe the poor kid was thinking about."
"No, he isn't to blame, either," I said; "he didn't mean anything--he
didn't mean for Skinny to do anything like that."
"He should have kept his mouth shut," Westy said.
"Anyway," I said, "I'm not going to make that speech; I just can't. I'm
not going to say anything to Skinny about it. Maybe I'll tell Mr.
Ellsworth sometime--I don't know. But anyway, I can't present him to the
Elks that way, I can't. I just can't. Poor kid, I don't suppose he ever
saw as much as two dollars before."
"You shouldn't have left it out like that," Westy said.
After that I guess neither of us said anything. Gee, I can't tell you how
I felt. I know if a fellow is low down and fires stones and calls names
and all like that, even still he can get to be a scout.
But if he steals-jiminy, I've got no use for a fellow that steals. A
plaguy lot I care about two bucks, but, oh, boy, I was looking forward
to that meeting and how we were going to have Skinny all decorated and
present him to the Elks. And now we couldn't do it, Honest, I didn't even
want to see him, I didn't feel sore at him, but I didn't want to see him.
Because he'd spoiled all the fun for me, that's all.
SHOWS YOU WHERE I DO THE TALKING
Westy said we shouldn't say anything to Mr. Ellsworth, but wait until
Skinny had taken the oath and knew all the laws and all about scouting,
and then maybe say something to him, how we thought maybe he had made a
mistake sometime and would like to fix it right. Westy said we'd call it
just getting off the trail. Westy's a mighty nice fellow, you bet, and
he's a good scout. But anyway, it knocked all the fun out of that meeting
for us, and I don't know what the other fellows thought.
Skinny was there in his new suit and he showed how proud he was to have
it. He was always smiling in that bashful kind of a way, as if he was
kind of scared but happy at the same time. Mr. Ellsworth told him to sit
with us and he came over and sat in an extra chair right next to me. I
guess he kind of liked to be near me--anyway, it seemed like that. I was
nice to him all right, but I don't know, it didn't seem like it did
before. But no fellow could get mad at him--he looked so poor, and his
suit didn't fit him very good and he looked all strange and nervous.
Pretty soon I said to him, kind of half interested, you know, I said,
"That's where you're going to sit, in that vacant chair where the Elks
are. They're a good patrol, the Elks, and the fellow who used to sit
there with them was Tom Slade. You have to try to be a good scout just
like he was."
"I know all the laws, everyone," he said in a whisper.
"Do you know law one?" I asked him.
"Yup, it's the best of the lot," he said; "it teaches you about honor.
Do you know the two things about scouts I like best?" he asked me.
"No, I don't," I said.
"It's that first law and the belt-axe that they wear."
"Never you mind about the belt-axe," I said.
"Yes, but you want me to tell you honest, don't you?" he blurted out.
And he looked straight at me and his eyes were all kind of hollow and
excited like. Gee, he was a queer kid. "You can make fun of me all you
want," he said, "I don't care. Will I be a scout to-night?"
"Not to-night," I told him, "we're going to turn you over to the Elks
to-night. And then they'll teach you things and get you ready."
Pretty soon it came time to present him, but I didn't feel like making
any fun about it. Gee! I don't know what my patrol thought about me. But
anyway, Westy knew. So I just said how we found Alfred McCord and how he
wanted to be a scout and we thought it was a good idea to give him to
the Elk Patrol, to fill the place of Tom Slade. Cracky, there wasn't any
pep to it at all.
Then afterwards Mr. Ellsworth took up the collection of one dollar and
seventy cents from each fellow, to buy the eats and pay the expenses of
the cruise. I had to say that I wasn't ready with it, and I guess he
was surprised, because I never miss a chipping in, but anyway, I said
I'd have it next day. I should worry about that.
On the way out I met Pee-wee shouting away like a machine gun. "Come on
up the street with me," I said; "I want to tell you something."
When we were about a block off I said, "You listen here, kiddo. I don't
want you to be shouting about belt-axes and jack-knives and things like
that in front of Skinny McCord. I'm telling you that and I want you to
remember it. And I've got good reasons, too. Scouts aren't made out of
belt-axes and jack-knives and badges. They're made out of ideas, as you
might say. You just remember what I tell you and don't be springing this
stuff about the emblem of the woods and all that. A belt-axe costs two
dollars--haven't you got sense enough to know that. And do you know how
much it costs to take the scout oath? Not one blooming cent!"
Jiminy crinkums, he just listened and didn't say a single word. For two
blocks he didn't say a word.
It was the biggest stunt he ever did.
IN THE WOODS
Now I have to go backward--that's one good thing about this story, it
has a reverse gear; you can go backward.
The first night we had the house-boat, Mr. Ellsworth went to see Mr.
Darren, who is superintendent of Northside Woods (that's owned by the
Northside estate) and he asked Mr. Darren if we could chop down some
saplings to use on the boat. Because we wanted to make some stanchions
for the awning, and another flagpole, and some bumper sticks. He
thought that was a good idea, because lumber costs so much. Connie said
the reason it was high is because they're building tall houses. So Mr.
Darren marked some saplings with chalk and said we could take those.
The next afternoon after that last meeting, we all hiked over to
Northside Woods to chop down the saplings. You have to go across the
bridge to get to Northside Woods and then you go up the road toward
Westy didn't go with the rest of us because he wanted to get a book out
of the library, for he thought the library might be closed when we got
"Have a heart," I said, "and don't be late whatever you do, because
there's been enough of that kind of thing in our patrol lately."
"I'll be Johnny--on--the--spot, don't you fear," he said. And I knew he
would, only he's one of those fellows that's always trying to do too
much. He isn't late much, I'll say that for him, but he always comes
running in at the last minute.
"Well, don't get us in Dutch," I told him, "that's all I care about."
We had a Dandy hike over to the woods. My patrol got there first and
pretty soon the Ravens came along and Doc Carson had his First Aid
kit--you'd think somebody was going to fight a duel, honest. "Why don't
you start a base hospital and be done with it?", I said.
Pretty soon the Elks came along and Skinny was with them. As soon as I
looked at him I felt kind of bad like, for I saw I was right about the
two dollars. I knew I was right all the time, but now I saw it and
jingoes, it spoiled all my fun. Because he had a belt-axe on and I
could see he was very proud of it. He came up to me and smiled that
funny kind of a smile he had, and he said, "I got one; see, I got one."
It was a new one all right, but not a regular scout-axe, and I guessed
he must have bought it in the hardware store. It was what they call a
camp axe--just the same only different. His belt was loose anyway, on
account of him being so thin, but the axe dragged it way down and made
him look awful funny, but he had on the scout smile and that's the
"It's a good one, ain't it?" he asked me.
"It's all right," I said, but I just couldn't take it and look at it.
"It'll cut, too," he said; "and I'm going to chop down a lot of trees.
And it's my very own, isn't it?"
Jiminy, I didn't know how to answer that, so I didn't say anything, only
I told him not to chop down many because he wasn't strong yet. And I
told him not to chop any that didn't have chalk marks. I told him to ask
Connie Bennett, and to stay near him, because Connie is the Elks' leader
ever since Tom Slade went away. "You do what Connie tells you", I said.
Well, the way that kid started you'd think he was going to chop the North
Pole in half. "He'd be able to chop through the equator in a couple of
hours at that rate," I told Connie. But anyway, he was getting fresh air
and a whole lot of fun. Some of the fellows chopped and some of them cut
off the branches and tied the saplings together, three or four each,
because we were going to haul them as far as the bridge and then float
them down to the landing.
Every little while I looked at Skinny and he was chopping away at one
sapling for dear life. He had it all full of nicks and every nick had
a place all to itself.
"That isn't chopping, it's what you call woodcarving," Dorry Benton said.
"He's a good butcher, anyway," Artie said.
Every time Skinny hit, he hit in a different place and he would never get
the sapling down, I saw that, but he was having the time of his life,
just the same.
"Some Daniel Boone," Will Dawson said. But I told them not to make fun of
All the while I kept wondering if Skinny really thought that axe was his
very own like he said. And it seemed sort of funny that he could be
getting so much fun out of it. Oftentimes he would get tired and begin to
cough and Connie would make him sit down and rest. Then he would show his
axe to the fellows and match it to theirs and say he liked his best. I
don't know, maybe there was something wrong about Skinny. Maybe he was
more crazy about weapons than he was about scouting. He didn't seem to
think ahoot anything except cutting down that sapling, and the more of a
botch he made out of it, the harder he worked. I remembered something Mr.
Ellsworth said to Tom Slade about not caring more for his gun than he did
for his country. But, gee, when I thought about what Skinny said about
the two things he liked most, the axe and the law about honor, good
night, I couldn't understand him at all.
"Every time Skinny hit, he hit in a different place"
Pretty soon I began worrying about Westy, because something is always
delaying that fellow, and I even hoped that he wouldn't stumble over
any more good turns, until this day's work was over. If Westy fell out
of a ten-story building, he'd do a good turn on the way down--that's the
way he is.
Well, pretty soon I heard him coming through the woods on the dead run.
We all stopped working and laughed, because he was coming along like
a marathon runner. All except Skinny-he went right on chopping away and
the sapling looked as if a cow had been chewing it.
I don't know, but something or other made me feel kind of mad at him all
of a sudden, and I didn't laugh at him.
Then he called over to me and he said, "Look how I'm chopping it down
with my axe! See?" "Who's axe?" I said, because I just couldn't help it.
"Look! See?" he shouted, all excited; "ain't I a good chopper--ain't I?"
Maybe you won't understand how it was, because, gee, I can't tell things
so you'll see them just right. Anyway, I'm not excusing myself, that's
one thing. But I just looked over at Skinny and I said:
"I don't want to look at your axe! Shut up you little--" I was going to
call him a little thief, but I'm mighty glad I didn't. "Can't you see
I'm looking at something else?" I said, kind of mad. "You'd be better
off if you never thought about the axe; you're a--"
Just then I heard somebody yell, "Look out, Westy, the boards are gone!
You'll have to climb!"
After that, everything seemed to be all jumbled up. I saw Skinny standing
near his sapling just staring at me and he looked as if I had just hit
him and he didn't understand at all. He didn't even notice all the other
fellows who were running. Then I looked and I didn't see Westy, but all
the fellows were heading for the ditch and I knew right away what had
happened. Somebody hollered, "Get your kit, Doc, and hurry up."
There was a ditch near where the saplings grew and usually there were a
couple of boards across it. But they weren't there when all of us fellows
went across and we had to go down into the ditch and climb up the other
side. I guess the woodsmen had taken them, maybe.
Anyway, when Westy came along the path he was running so hard he didn't
notice in time that the boards weren't there, and he went head over
heels into the ditch. I guess I was the last one to get there, and all
the fellows were standing around and Doc was kneeling over Westy, and
feeling his pulse. Westy's face was all white and there was blood
coming down from his eye and he looked straight up and didn't notice
anybody. All the fellows were quiet and scared, kind of, and waiting
for Doc to speak. But he wasn't excited, only he said we'd better get a
doctor. "It isn't a fracture," he said; "it's only a cut, but anyway,
we'd better get the doctor."
Then I saw some blood on the front of Westy's khaki shirt. But Doc saw it
first and he said, "Open his shirt, maybe he has something hanging from
his neck that cut him. Feel and see if he has a knife in his breast
pocket. Open his shirt first. Give me the iodine and some bandage, one of
I thought I ought to be the one to open his shirt, because he was in my
patrol and besides we were special friends, as you might say. So I
pushed through past the others and just as I was kneeling down I saw
Skinny standing up on the edge of the ditch and his eyes looked big and
he was all trembling and excited. There were big red spots on his cheeks
and I knew that was the consumption that showed whenever he got excited.
He was all by himself up there and he looked kind of wild--I can't
exactly tell you..
Then I opened Westy's shirt and I saw he had a ring with two keys hanging
there and they must have pressed into his chest and cut him. It kind of
scared me, because there was so much blood, but Doc said, "Give me the
And I knew he knew what he was talking about.
While he was putting iodine in the cut I felt in Westy's pocket like Doc
told me to do, but there wasn't any knife there. But there was something
else there and I pulled it out. Oh, gee, I hate to tell you about it. It
was my two dollar bill. I could tell because it was new and because it
had a stain on it in the shape of a half circle.
I always kept oil on those oar-locks, so they wouldn't get rusty.
Nobody noticed me, I guess, and I just scrambled up the ditch and went
away behind a tree and looked at the two dollar bill again. I guess you
sure know the shape of an oar-lock all right--kind of round, but open at
the top. And that was just the shape of the stain on the bill. I could
have laid one of my oar-locks right on that bill and covered up the
Maybe you think I was glad to get the bill back but I wasn't. What did I
care about that bill? Gee, a two dollar bill isn't anything, compared to
a friend, it isn't. I could have another bill right away if I wanted it,
and anyway, I'd be sure to get one on Monday. It was Westy I was thinking
about, because you know how you heard me say we were special friends,
sort of, Jiminy Christopher! I didn't care about anything now.
Even once when I lost my bronze medal I didn't feel so bad. Then I said
I guessed Westy just put it in his pocket to fool me and that he was
going to give it to me. But cracky, there's no use trying to kid
yourself. Then, all of a sudden I thought how he wanted me to hurry
and run and how he didn't want to stop and talk much about it.
Jiminy, I didn't know what to do and I just felt like going home and
going up to my room and locking the door. I knew if I ever told
anybody it would be either Ruth or Marjorie. It's funny how when a
fellow really has a lot of trouble he'd rather tell a girl than
anybody else. You can laugh at girls, but that's true. Maybe they
can't run and all that, but they kind of know all about it when you
have a lot of trouble. Maybe I'd tell them, tool because they'd wonder
if Westy didn't come to the house any more.
Anyway, I was glad it was me to find the two dollars and none of the
other fellows. I decided that as long as it wasn't any good to me I'd
put it back in his pocket if I could get a chance. Then maybe it would
be kind of like a memorandum to him and he'd come and give it back when
he had plenty of money sometime, maybe.
But when I went back there wasn't any chance to do that, because all
the fellows were still crowding around. I stood up on the edge of the
ditch and I heard somebody say that El Sawyer had gone to Bridgeboro.
Doc looked up at me and he said, "It isn't bad, kiddo, don't worry." And
I knew he was right and it made me feel good.
Anyway, I don't know why he called me kiddo sometimes. Because I'm leader
of the Silver Fox patrol, why should he call me kiddo. But I guess he
felt sorry for me, as you might say.
It was funny, but as soon as I knew Westy was going to get better, I
didn't want to stay there. I was afraid he might look at me and see that
everything wasn't all right. I was afraid he might see something in my
eyes--you know. So I walked away, and besides, anyway, I wanted to think
and I just felt I wanted to be alone by myself.
Just as I was going away one of the fellows said, "Here you go, kiddo,"
and chucked a book up at me. "You take care of it; it was in his pocket,"
he said. I guessed it was the book Westy had got out of the library and I
was pretty glad because when you're all alone and haven't got any friends
and everybody goes back on you, kind of, it's dandy to read a book.
Because, anyway, books never go back on you, that's one sure thing, and
they don't take--anyway they're good friends. When I looked at this one,
I saw it was "Treasure Island" and I was glad because I always liked that
That fellow, Jim Hawkins, he was a fine fellow anyway. Gee, I said to
myself, I'd like to have him for a friend, that's sure. Because a fellow
in a book can be a friend to you just like a real one. Even better,
THE SHORT CUT
One thing, I hoped they'd all go home soon so I could sit down on a log
and read some more in that book. Only lately I read it, but cracky, that
doesn't make any difference when it's a good book. I thought I'd go back
to the ditch pretty soon--as soon as Ed Sawyer came with the doctor. But
anyway, I wanted to be alone now.
So I stuffed the book in my pocket and strolled over to where we had been
cutting the saplings. Then I went over close and looked at the one Skinny
had been chopping. I guess I didn't know what I was doing and thinking
about. Anyway, now that I looked at it, I was sorry I made fun of him and
got mad at him. It wasn't only because I knew he didn't take the two
dollars, but anyway, I felt sorry for him.
I couldn't see him anywhere around and he wasn't in the ditch, I knew
that If he had been there then, you bet I'd have been all right with him.
It made me feel bad when I looked at that sapling an hacked and standing
up just as strong as ever. He must have chopped away on it for half an
hour and about all the poor little kid did was to get the bark off. Right
close by, I saw his belt axe lying just where he left it. It had Skinny
marked on it, and I guess he did it himself. It made me feel kind of
sorry for him that he called himself Skinny. It was his axe, anyway. And
I felt like kicking myself. And I saw how he had been trying to be a
scout just like the other fellows, poor little kid. It wasn't any of my
business where he got the money. It was his, anyway.
Then I began kicking the chips around with my foot and saying,
"Poor kid." And I said I guessed he'd die before he could ever chop down
a tree. Because, now since I had seen those red spots on his cheeks I
knew how bad he was. I knew he didn't have any strength at all, and all
the time something he had said kept running in my mind. "I like the one
about honor." "Poor little Skinny," I said. I was feeling bad, anyway.
An of a sudden I heard a sound and saw three or four fellows scrambling
up out of the ditch. So I went over there and just as I got there, I saw
something that I'll never forget, you can bet.
First I thought it was a ghost, and all the fellows were flabbergasted.
It was Skinny standing right near and clutching hold of a tree, and he
was all trembling and I thought he was going to fall down. Honest, I
never saw anything like the way he looked. His hair was all flying loose
and it made him look wild, because it wasn't cut. And his eyes were all
like as if they were on fire.
"I got him," he said, "I got him--he's coming. He's getting--out of--out
of his automobile. I got him because I'm--I'm a swamp-rat!" Thats just
the way he said it, and he hung onto the tree and his fingers were all
thin like an old man's and the spots were in his cheeks. "He's coming!"
he panted out.
Just then I could see Doctor Winters coming through the trees with a
little black bag. He must have left his machine out on the road about
a hundred yards away. And I guess Skinny must have jumped out and run
in ahead to show him the way and he just kept saying, "I got him, I got
him! Because I'm a swamp--rat--everybody says so--and I know the short
cut--now can I have a badge--maybe--sometime? Maybe am I a scout now?",
I just looked at him and it gave me the creeps, because I knew what he
had done. And I remembered now how people called him a dirty swamp-rat.
Many a time I'd heard them call him that. Just a dirty little swamp-rat.
And now, he was sort of proud of it.
First, I couldn't move and I just couldn't speak. Then I went up to him
and I said--I didn't care for the doctor or anybody--I said, "Skinny,
there's one fellow here who knows what the marshes are and that's me.
Because I came near getting swallowed up by them."
"It's--it's--short-cut," he just panted out. "All I want to tell you is,"
I said, "there's not another scout in the whole troop could do it--do you
hear! You're not a swamp-rat, you're a swamp-scout," I said.
Then I was going to say more, only Skinny seemed as if he was going to
fall and the doctor kind of seemed to want me to move away. Anyway, I
went over and got Skinny's belt-axe to carry it home for him.
IN MY OWN CAMP
As soon as the fellows knew for sure that there was nothing much the
matter with Westy, they scrambled out of the ditch and all stood
around Skinny, praising him up and he was so excited that he didn't
talk straight, but sort of yelled at them. The only ones with Westy
were the real doctor and Doc Carson, and Doc was helping him fix the
When I saw them down there it made me feel as if I'd like to go down and
say something to Westy. His face was all white and the bandage on his
head made him look--oh, I don't know--sort of as if he might die. And
then I'd be sorry I hadn't said something to him. Because I had known
Westy an awful long time.
So I went down and pretty soon the doctor went up to see Skinny and Doc
Carson went too. So I was alone with him down there, but his eyes were
shut on account of his being weak from losing so much blood, and he
didn't notice me.
Anyway, I slipped that two dollars into his shirt pocket because I didn't
want it anyway, and I thought maybe it would be a memorandum to him,
like I said. Besides I didn't have a right to keep money I got out of
another fellow's pocket.
I said, "It's me, Westy; the reason I didn't come around was because all
the other fellows were here. But now you're alone I want to tell you that
I'm glad you're not hurt bad."
He just looked at me and he said, "I went--I did it."
First I didn't know what to say, and then I said, "Never you mind, I
guess you were kind of crazy. We all get crazy sometimes. I was crazy
when I thought Tom Slade was lying once. Never you mind."
"I guess I was crazy," he just said, and then he shut his eyes and I
didn't bother him any more--only just sat there. I don't know what made
him tell me, but anyway, I was glad.
Pretty soon I helped him to Dr. Winters' automobile because he limped
pretty bad. Skinny went in the automobile, too, and Doc Carson, but they
didn't ask me. All the fellows went along the road, too, because
nobody felt like hauling the saplings that day, and I didn't, that's
sure. I said I was going back to get Skinny's axe, and I was glad when I
was all alone in the woods. That's the best place to be if you've got any
troubles and you want to think.
And I kind of didn't want to think about Westy, so I thought about Skinny
just to keep everything else out of my head. Because I knew it wouldn't
ever be just the same again with Westy and I didn't want to think about
it. In the troop it would be all right, and maybe in the patrol too, but
it wouldn't ever be just the same again with Westy and me.
I was glad that I'd be interested in Skinny and now I could see he was
different from all of us kind of wonderful-I don't know how to tell you.
His eyes were so big, and wild, and starey. And he said things in such a
funny way and he got so excited. Up at Temple Camp, afterwards, Mr.
Ellsworth told Jeb Rushmore that Skinny was inspired, but I don't know
just what he meant. An I knew is we were even scared of him sometimes.
He never called any of us by our names--that was funny.
Pretty soon I went home. It was all dark in the woods and dandy for
thinking, and I was glad I had one friend, anyway, and that was Jim
Hawkins in the book. I guessed maybe that was the reason that Westy got
the book, because only lately I had read it, and I had told him so much
about it. All the way home I kept thinking about Westy and I wished I had
never found that out.
Mostly at night I sit on the porch with my mother and father, but that
night I went to my tent and lit the lantern and sat there. I like a
lantern because it reminds you of camping. Nix on electric lights up at
Temple Camp, that's what Jeb Rushmore says. Gee, he has no use for
electric lights--electric lights and umbrellas. But, anyway, I've got a
wire from our garage to Camp Solitaire (that's my tent) and a bulb for
when I want to read. Jerry says I ought to pay for tapping the garage
current. I should worry.
I sat down and began reading 'Treasure Island' all over again. I skipped
a lot because I had only just lately read it, and pretty soon I was
reading about in the middle of it, where they start off in the ship.
That's the part I like best. All of a sudden I couldn't see the reading
very good and I noticed there was a stain on the page.
Here's where I wish that I knew all about writing books like a regular
grown up author, because I have to explain something to you and, cracky,
I wish you could see that book, because then it would be easier. First, I
didn't think anything about it at all, only I noticed that the stain was
on the left hand page. Then, all of a sudden I noticed something about
that stain that got me all excited. It was in the shape of a ring,
Right away I knew what it meant. I picked up one of my oar-locks and laid
it on the stain and it just covered it. So I saw I had damaged the book
when I had it before. That's one thing you're not supposed to do--damage
books out of the library. If you keep a book till its overdue, that isn't
so bad, because then you just pay a fine. Connie says that's being a good
But to damage a book--g--o--o--d night!
THE GENTLE BREEZE
I was just thinking how funny it was that Westy got this very same book
that I had, but maybe it wasn't so funny, because that was what put it
into his head to get it--seeing it in my tent. Anyway, I was glad it came
back to me, because now I saw what I had done and I made up my mind that
I'd buy a new book for the library.
Then I was thinking how I'd have to tell Westy about it, and, oh, I don't
know, I just didn't know how to go and speak to him. I wasn't mad at him,
but anyway, I felt as if I didn't want to see him--yet. Anyway, I didn't
have any money yet and books like that cost a lot.
All of a sudden I heard Don start barking and then he stopped. So I knew
somebody was coming that he knew. Then I heard somebody say, "You're
always suspicious, ain't you," and oh, I felt awful funny, because I
knew it was Westy. It seemed as if he might be saying that to me, but
I knew he was saying it to Don--just kind of jollying him. Maybe you
think you can't jolly a dog but you can. You can Don, anyway.
I didn't know what I would say to him, because I thought probably he'd
come to give me my two dollars and say he was sorry and must have been
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