Tom Slade
Percy K. Fitzhugh

Part 1 out of 3

Curtis A. Weyant, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading






Adapted and Illustrated from the Photo Play

"The Adventures of a Boy Scout"







It happened in Barrel Alley, and it was Tom Slade, as usual, who did
it. Picking a barrel-stave out of the mud, he sidled up to Ching Wo's
laundry, opened the door, beat the counter with a resounding clamor,
called, "Ching, Ching, Chinaman!" and by way of a grand climax, hurled
the dirty barrel-stave at a pile of spotless starched shirts, banged
the door shut and ran.

Tom was "on the hook" this morning. In one particular (and in only one)
Tom was like "Old John Temple," who owned the bank as well as Barrel
Alley. Both took one day off a week. "Old John" never went down to the
bank on Saturdays and Tom never went to school on Mondays. He began his
school week on Tuesday; and the truant officer was just about as sure
to cast his dreaded net in Barrel Alley on a Monday as old John Temple
was sure to visit it on the first of the month--when the rents were

This first and imminent rock of peril passed, Tom lost no time in
offering the opening number of his customary morning program, which was
to play some prank on Ching Wo. But Ching Wo, often disturbed, like a
true philosopher, and knowing it was Monday, picked out the soiled
shirts, piled up the others, threw the muddy stave out and quietly
resumed his ironing.

Up at the corner Tom emerged around John Temple's big granite bank
building into the brighter spectacle of Main Street. Here he paused to
adjust the single strand of suspender which he wore. The other half of
this suspender belonged to his father; the two strands had originally
formed a single pair and now, in their separate responsibilities, each
did duty continuously, since neither Tom nor his father undressed when
they went to bed.

His single strand of suspender replaced, Tom shuffled along down Main
Street on his path of glory.

At the next corner was a coal-box. This he opened and helped himself to
several chunks of coal. A little farther on he came to a trolley car
standing still. Sidling up behind it, he grabbed the pole-rope,
detaching the pulley from the wire.

The conductor emerged, shook his fist at the retreating boy and sent a
few expletives after him. Tom then let fly one piece of coal after
another at the rear platform of the car, keeping a single chunk for
future use.

For, whenever Tom Slade got into a dispute (which was on an average of
a dozen times a day), he invariably picked up a stone. Not that he
expected always to throw it, though he often did, but because it
illustrated his attitude of suspicion and menace toward the world in
general, and toward other boys in particular.

So firmly rooted had the habit become that even indoors when his father
threatened him (which was likewise on an average of a dozen times a
day) he would reach cautiously down behind his legs, as if he expected
to find a stone on the kitchen floor conveniently near at hand.

First and last, Tom had heard a good deal of unfavorable comment about
his fancy for throwing stones. Mrs. Bennett, the settlement worker, had
informed him that throwing stones was despicable, which went in one ear
and out the other, because Tom did not know what "despicable" meant.
The priest had told him that it was both wicked and cowardly; while the
police had gone straight to the heart of the matter by threatening to
lock him up for it.

And yet, you know, it was not until Tom met young Mr. Ellsworth,
scoutmaster, that he heard something on the subject which stuck in his
mind. On this day of Tom's wild exploits, as he moved along a little
further down the street he came to the fence which enclosed John
Temple's vacant lot. It was covered with gaudy posters and with his
remaining piece of coal he proceeded to embellish these.

He was so absorbed in his decorative enterprise that he did not notice
the person who was standing quietly on the sidewalk watching him, until
he was aware of a voice speaking very sociably.

"I don't think I should do that, my boy, if I were you."

Tom paused (in the middle of a most unwholesome sentence) and saw a
young gentleman, perhaps twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old,
looking pleasantly at him. He was extremely well-dressed in a natty
blue serge suit, and to Tom his appearance was little less than

The boy's first impulse was, of course, to run, and he made a start as
if to do so. Then, fearing perhaps that there was not a clear get-away,
he stooped for a stone.

"What are you going to do with that?" asked the young gentleman,


"You weren't going to throw it at me, I hope, while I am standing three
feet from you."

Tom was a little nonplussed. "I wouldn't t'row no stone standin' near
yer," he grumbled.

"Good," said the young man; "you have some ideas about sporting,
haven't you? Though, of course, you're no sport--or you wouldn't have
picked up a stone at all."

Now this was great news to Tom. He knew he was no gentleman; Mrs.
Bennett had told him that. He knew he was a hoodlum; the trolley
conductors had told him that. He knew that he was lazy and shiftless
and unkempt and a number of other things, for the world at large had
made no bones of telling him so; but never, never for one moment had he
supposed that he was no sport. He had always believed that to hit a
person with a stone and "get away with it" represented the very top-notch
of fun, and sporting proficiency.

So he looked at this young man as if he thought that he had
inadvertently turned the world upside down.

"Give me that piece of coal, my boy, and let's see if we can't mark out
that last word."

"Yer'll git yer hand all dirty wid coal," said Tom, hardly knowing what
else to say.

"Well, a dirty hand isn't as bad as a filthy word; besides, I'm rooting
in the dirt with my hands all summer, anyway," said the young man, as
he marked out Tom's handiwork. "There," he added, handing back the
coal, "that's not so bad now; guess neither one of us is much of an
artist, hey? See that scratch?" he went on, exhibiting his hand to Tom.
"I got that shinning up a tree. Come on, let's beat it; first thing you
know a cop will be here."

Tom hardly knew what to think of this strange, sumptuously-attired
creature whose hands were rooting in the dirt all summer, and who got a
scratch (which he proudly exhibited) from shinning up a tree; who said
"beat it" when he meant "go away," and who called a policeman a "cop."

Tom rather liked the way this strange man talked, though it was not
without a tinge of suspicion that he accompanied him along the street,
casting furtive glances at his luxurious attire, wondering how such as
he could climb a tree.

"You couldn't shin up no tree," he presently ventured.

"Oh, couldn't I, though?" laughed his companion. "I've shinned up more
trees than you've got fingers and toes."

"When you was a kid?"

"I'm a kid now, and don't you forget it. And I'll give you a tip, too.
Grind up some bark in your hands--it works fine."

They walked on silently for a little way; an ill-assorted pair they
must have seemed to a passer-by, the boy hitching up his suspender as
often as it slid from his shoulder in his shuffling effort to keep up
with the alert stride of his companion.

"Trouble with stone-throwing is that there isn't any skill in it. You
know what Buck Edwards said, don't you? He said he'd have learned to
pitch much easier if it hadn't been for throwing stones when he was a
kid. He used to be a regular fiend at it, and when he came to passing
curves he couldn't make his first finger behave. You think Buck can
beat that pitcher the Prep. boys have got?"

"Dem High School guys is all right."

"Well, Buck's a good pitcher. I don't suppose I've thrown a stone in
ten years. But I bet I could practice for ten minutes and beat you out.
You smoke, don't you?"

"N-no--yeer, I do sometimes."

"Just caught the truth by the tail that time, didn't you?" the young
man laughed. "Well, a kid can't aim steady if he smokes: that's one
sure thing."

Tom was seized with a strange desire to strengthen his companion's side
of the case. The poor boy had few enough arguments, goodness knows, in
defense of his own habits, and his information was meagre enough. Yet
the one little thing which he seemed to remember about the other side
of stone-throwing he now contributed willingly.

"It's bad too if you ever land a guy one in the temple."

"Well, I don't know; I don't think there's so much in that, though
there may be. I landed a guy one in the temple with a stick last
summer--accident, of course, and I thought it would kill him, but it

Tom was surprised and fascinated by the stranger's frankness.

"But a fellow that throws stones is no sport, that's sure, and you can
mark that up in your brain if you happen to have a lump of coal handy."

"I chucked that coal--honest."


It had been Tom's intention to go down through Chester Street and steal
an apple from Schmitt's Grocery, but instead he accompanied his new
friend until that mysterious person turned to enter a house.

"Guess we didn't swap names, did we?" the stranger said, holding out
his hand.

It was the first time that Tom Slade had grasped anyone's hand in many
a day.

"Tom--Tom Slade," he said, hitching up his suspender.

"So? Mine's Ellsworth. Come up to the Library building and see us some
Friday night--the boys, I mean."

"Oh, are you the boss o' them regiment fellers?"

"Not exactly the boss; scouts we call ourselves."

"What's a scout? A soldier, like?"

"No, a scout's a fellow that does stunts and things."

"I betcher you kin do a few."

"I bet I can!" laughed Mr. Ellsworth; "you said it! I've got some of
those boys guessing." Which was the plain truth.

"Drop in some Friday night and see us; don't forget now."

Tom watched him as he ascended the steps of a neighboring porch. He had
a strange fascination for the boy, and it was not till the door closed
behind him that Tom's steady gaze was averted. Then he shuffled off
down the street.



Tom Slade awoke at about eleven o'clock, swung his legs to the floor,
yawned, rubbed his eyes, felt blindly for his tattered shoes and
sniffed the air.

Something was wrong, that was sure. Tom sniffed again. Something had
undoubtedly happened. The old familiar odor which had dwelt in the
Slade apartment all winter, the stuffy smell of bed clothes and dirty
matting, of kerosene and smoke and fried potatoes and salt-fish and
empty beer bottles, had given place to something new. Tom sniffed

Then, all of a sudden, his waking senses became aware of his father
seated in his usual greasy chair, sideways to the window.

And the window was open!

The stove-lifter which had been used to pry it up lay on the sill, and
the spring air, gracious and democratic, was pouring in amid the
squalor just as it was pouring in through the wide-swung cathedral
windows of John Temple's home up in Grantley Square.

"Yer opened the winder, didn' yer?" said Tom.

"Never you mind what I done," replied his father.

"Ain't it after six?"

"Never you mind what 'tis; git yer cap 'n' beat it up to Barney's for a

"Ain't we goin' to have no eats?"

"No, we ain't goin' ter have no eats. You tell Barney to give ye a cup
o' coffee; tell 'im I said so."

"Awh, he wouldn' give me no pint widout de money."

"He wouldn', wouldn' he? I'll pint you!"

"I ain't goin' ter graft on him no more."

"Git me a dime off Tony then and stop in Billy's comin' back 'n' tell
him I got the cramps agin and can't work."

"He'll gimme the laugh."

"I'll give ye the other kind of a laugh if ye don't beat it. I left you
sleep till eleven o'clock--"

"You didn' leave me sleep," said Tom. "Yer only woke up yerself half an
hour ago."

"Yer call me a liar, will ye?" roared Bill Slade, rising.

Tom took his usual strategic position on the opposite side of the
table, and as his father moved ominously around it, kept the full width
of it between them. When he reached a point nearest the sink he grabbed
a dented pail therefrom and darted out and down the stairs.

Up near Grantley Square was a fence which bore the sign, "Post No
Bills." How this had managed to escape Tom hitherto was a mystery, but
he now altered it, according to the classic hoodlum formula, so that it
read, "Post No Bills," and headed up through the square for Barney
Galloway's saloon. Bill Slade had been reduced to long-distance
intercourse in the matter of saloons for he had exhausted his credit in
all the places near Barrel Alley.

In the spacious garden of John Temple's home a girl of twelve or
thirteen years was bouncing a ball. This was Mary Temple, and what
business "old" John Temple had with such a pretty and graceful little
daughter, I am not qualified to explain.

"Chuck it out here," said Tom, "an' I'll ketch it in the can."

She retreated a few yards into the garden, then turned, and gave Tom a
withering stare.

"Chuck it out here and I'll chuck it back--honest," called Tom.

The girl's dignity began to show signs of collapse. She wanted to have
that ball thrown, and to catch it.

"Will you promise to toss it back?" she weakened.


"Word and honor?"


"Cross your heart?"


Still she hesitated, arm in air.

"Will you promise to throw it back?"

"Sure, hope to die. Chuck it."

"Get back a little," said she.

The ball went sailing over the paling, Tom caught it, gave a yell of
triumph, beat a tattoo upon the can, and ran for all he was worth.

Outside the saloon Tom borrowed ten cents from Tony, the bootblack, on
his father's behalf, and with this he purchased the beer.

Meanwhile, the bad turn which he had done had begun to sprout and by
the time he reached home it had grown and spread to such proportions
that Jack's beanstalk was a mere shrub compared with it. Nothing was
farther from John Temple's thoughts that beautiful Saturday than to pay
a visit to Barrel Alley. On the contrary, he was just putting on his
new spring hat to go out to the Country Club for a turn at golf, when
Mary came in crying that Tom Slade had stolen her ball.

Temple cared nothing about the ball, nor a great deal about Mary's
tears, but the mention of Tom Slade reminded him that the first of the
month was close at hand and that he had intended to "warn" Bill Slade
with the usual threat of eviction. Bill had never paid the rent in full
after the second month of his residence in Barrel Alley. When he was
working and Temple happened to come along at a propitious moment, Bill
would give him two dollars or five dollars, as the case might be, but
as to how the account actually stood he had not the slightest idea.

If Tom had not sent Mary Temple into the house crying her father would
never have thought to go through Barrel Alley on his way out to the
Country Club, but as it was, when Tom turned into the Alley from Main
Street, he saw Mr. Temple's big limousine car standing in front of his
own door.

If there was one thing in this world more than another dear to the
heart of Tom Slade, it was a limousine car. Even an Italian organgrinder
did not offer the mischievous possibilities of a limousine. He
had a regular formula for the treatment of limousines which was as sure
of success as a "cure all."

Placing his pail inside the doorway, he approached the chauffeur with a
suspiciously friendly air which boded mischief. After a strategic word
or two of cordiality, he grasped the siren horn, tooted it frantically,
pulled the timer aroundr opened one of the doors, jumped in and out of
the opposite door, leaving both open, and retreated as far as the
corner, calling, "Yah-h-h-h-h!"

In a few minutes he returned very cautiously, sidled up to the house
door, and took his belated way upstairs.

Tom placed his pail on the lower step of the stair leading up to the
floor above his own, but did not enter the room whence emanated the
stern voice of John Temple and the lying excuses of his father. He went
down and out on the door step and sat on the railing, gazing at the
chauffeur with an exasperating look of triumph.

"I wouldn' be no lousy Cho-fure," he began.

The chauffeur (who received twenty-five dollars a week) did not see the
force of this remark.

"Runnin' over kids all de time-you lie, yer did too!"

The chauffeur looked straight ahead and uttered not a word.

"Yer'd be in jail if 'twuzn't fer old John paying graft ter the cops!"

The chauffeur, who knew his place, made never a sign.

"Yer stinkin' thief! Yer don't do a thing but cop de car fer joy-rides--
didn' yer?"

At this the chauffeur stirred slightly.

"Yes, yer will!" yelled Tom, jumping down from the railing.

He had just picked up a stone, when the portly form of John Temple
emerged from the door behind him.

"Put down that stone, sir, or I'll lock you up!" said he with the air
of one who is accustomed to being obeyed.

"G-wan, he called me a liar!" shouted Tom.

"Well, that's just what you are," said John Temple, "and if certain
people of this town spent less for canvas uniforms to put on their boys
to make tramps out of them, we should be able, perhaps, to build an
addition to the jail."

"Ya-ah, an' you'd be de first one to go into it!" Tom yelled, as Temple
reached the step of his car.

"What's that?" said Temple, turning suddenly.

"That's what!" shouted Tom, letting fly the stone. It went
straight to its mark, removing "old" John's spring hat as effectually
as a gust of wind, and leaving it embedded in the mud below the car.




That night, when Tom Slade, all unaware of the tragedy which
threatened his young life, shuffled into Billy's garage, he announced
to his followers a plan which showed his master mind as leader of the
gang. "Hey," said he, "I heard Sissy Bennett's mother say she's goin'
ter have a s'prise party fer him Friday night, 'n' d'yer know wot I'm
goin' ter do?"

"Tell him and spoil it fer him?" ventured Joe Flynn.


"Tick-tack?" asked Slush Ryder.

"Na-ah, tick-tacks is out o' date,"

"Cord ter trip 'em up?"

"Guess agin, guess agin," said Tom, exultantly.

But as no one ventured any further guesses, he announced his plan

"Don't say a word-don't say a word," he ejaculated. "I swiped two o'
thim quarantine signs offen two doors, 'n' I'm gon'er tack one up on
Sissy's door Friday night! Can yer beat it?"

None of them could beat it, for it was an inspiration. To turn away
Master Connover's young guests by this simple but effectual device was
worthy of the leadership qualities of Tom Slade. Having thus advertised
the possibilities of the signs he took occasion to announce,

"I got anoder one, an' I'll sell it fer a dime." But even though he
marked it down to a dime, none would buy, so he announced his intention
of raffling it off.

Before the momentous evening of Connover's party arrived, however,
something else happened which had a curious and indirect effect upon
the carrying out of Tom's plan.

On Wednesday afternoon three men came down Barrel Alley armed with a
paper for Bill Slade. It was full of "whereases" and "now, therefores"
and other things which Bill did not comprehend, but he understood well
enough the meaning of their errand.

The stone which Tom had thrown at John Temple had rebounded with
terrific force!

One man would have been enough, goodness knows, to do the job in hand,
for there were only six or seven pieces of furniture. They got in each
other's way a good deal and spat tobacco juice, while poor helpless,
inefficient Bill Slade stood by watching them.

From various windows and doors the neighbors watched them too, and some
congratulated themselves that their own rents were paid, while others
wondered what would become of poor Tom now.

This was the scene which greeted Tom as he came down Barrel Alley from

"Wot are they doin'?" he asked.

"Can't you see wot they're a-doin'?" roared his father. "'Tain't them
that's doin' it neither, it's you--you done it!! It's you
took the roof from over my head, you and old John Temple!" Advancing
menacingly, he poured forth a torrent of abuse at his wretched son.

"The two o' yez done it! You wid yer rocks and him wid his dirty
marshals and judges! I'll get the both o' yez yet! Ye sneakin' rat!"

He would have struck Tom to the ground if Mrs. O'Connor, a mournful
figure in shoddy black, had not crossed the street and forced her way
between them.

"'Twas you done it, Bill Slade, and not him, and don't you lay
yer hand on him--mind that! 'Twas you an' your whiskey bottle done it,
you lazy loafer, an' the street is well rid o' you. Don't you raise
your hand agin me, Bill Slade--I'm not afraid o' the likes o' you. I
tell you 'twas you sent the poor boy's mother to her grave--you
and your whiskey bottle!"

"I--I--ain't scared uv him!" said Tom.

"You stay right here now and don't be foolish, and me an' you'll go
over an' have a cup o' coffee."

Just then one of the men emerged bearing in one arm the portrait of the
late Mrs. Slade and in the other hand Bill Slade's battered but trusty
beer can. The portrait he laid face up on the table and set the can on

Perhaps it is expecting too much to assume that a city marshal would
have any sense of the fitness of things, but it was an unfortunate
moment to make such a mistake. As Mrs. O'Connor lifted the pail a dirty
ring remained on the face of the portrait.

"D'yer see wot yer done?" shrieked Tom, rushing at the marshal. "D'yer
see wot yer done?"

There was no stopping him. With a stream of profanity he rushed at the
offending marshal, grabbing him by the neck, and the man's head shook
and swayed as if it were in the grip of a mad dog.

It was in vain that poor Mrs. O'Connor attempted to intercede, catching
hold of the infuriated boy and calling,

"Oh, Tommy, for the dear Lord's sake, stop and listen to me!"

Tom did not even hear.

The marshal, his face red and his eyes staring, went down into the mud
of Barrel Alley and the savage, merciless pounding of his face could be
heard across the way.

While the other marshals pulled Tom off his half-conscious victim, the
younger contingent came down the street escorting a sauntering blue-coat,
who swung his club leisurely and seemed quite master of the

"He kilt him, he kilt him!" called little Sadie McCarren.

Tom, his scraggly hair matted, his face streaming, his chest heaving,
and his ragged clothing bespattered, stood hoisting up his suspender,
safe in the custody of the other two marshals.

"Take this here young devil around to the station," said one of the
men, "for assault and battery and interferin' with an officer of the
law in the performance of his dooty."

"Come along, Tom," said the policeman; "in trouble again, eh?"

"Can't yer leave him go just this time?" pleaded Mrs. O'Connor. "He
ain't himself at all--yer kin see it."

"Take him in," said the rising victim, "for interferin' with an officer
of the law in the performance of dooty."

"Where's his folks?" the policeman asked, not unkindly.

It was then the crowd discovered that Bill Slade had disappeared.

"I'll have to take you along," said the officer.

Tom said never a word. He had played his part in the proceedings, and
he was through.

"Couldn't yer leave him come over jist till I make him a cup o'
coffee?" Mrs. O'Connor begged.

"They'll give him his dinner at the station, ma'am," the policeman

Mrs. O'Connor stood there choking as Tom was led up the street, the
full juvenile force of Barrel Alley thronging after him.

"Wouldn' yer leave me pull my strap up?" he asked the policeman.

The officer released his arm, taking him by the neck instead, and the
last that Mrs. O'Connor saw Tom was hauling his one rebellious strand
of suspender up into place.

"Poor lad, I don't know what'll become uv him now," said Mrs. O'Connor,
pausing on her doorstep to speak with a neighbor.

"And them things over there an' night comin' on," said her companion.
"I wisht that alarm clock was took away--seems as if 'twas laughin' at
the whole thing--like."

"'Tain't only his bein' arrested," said Mrs. O'Connor, "but ther' ain't
no hope for him at all, as I kin see. Ther's no one can
inflooence him."

In Court, the next morning, the judge ruled out all reference to the
disfigurement of Mrs. Slade's portrait as being "incompetent and
irrelevant," and when the "assault and battery" could not be made to
seem "an act done in self-defense and by reason of the imminent peril
of the accused," Tom was taken to the "jug" to spend the balance of the
day and to ponder on the discovery that a "guy" has no right to "slam"
a marshal just because he sets a dirty beer can on his mother's

His first enterprise after his liberation was a flank move on Schmitt's
Grocery where he stole a couple of apples and a banana, which latter he
ate going along the street. These were his only luncheon. The banana
skin he threw on the pave-ment.

In a few moments he heard footsteps behind him and, turning, saw a
small boy coming along dangling the peel he had dropped. The boy was a
jaunty little fellow, wearing a natty spring suit. It was, in fact,
"Pee-wee" Harris, Tenderfoot, who was just starting out to cover
Provision 5 of the Second Class Scout requirements, for he was going to
be a Second Class Scout before camping-time, or know the reason why.

"You drop that?" he asked pleasantly.

"Ye-re, you kin have it," said Tom cynically.

"Thanks," said Pee-wee, and the banana peel went sailing over the fence
into Temple's lot.

"First thing you know somebody'd get a free ride on that thing," said

"Ye-re?" said Tom sneeringly.

"And if anybody got anything free near John Temple's property----"

"Dere's where yer said it, kiddo," said Tom, approvingly.

"So long," said Pee-wee, and went gaily on, walking a little, then
running a little, then walk-ing again, until Tom thought he must be
crazy. Happening just at that minute to finish one of his apples (or
rather one of Schmitt's apples) he let fly the core straight for the
back of Pee-wee's head.

Then a most extraordinary thing, happened. Without so much as turning
round, Pee-wee raised his hand, caught the core, threw it over into the
lot, and then, turning, laughed, "Thanks, good shot!"

Tom had always supposed that the back of a person's head was a safe
target, and he could not comprehend the instinct which was so alert and
highly-tuned that it could work entirely independent of the eyes. But
this was merely one of Pee-wee's specialties, and his amazing progress
from Tenderfoot to Star Scout is a story all by itself.

Tom hoisted himself onto the board fence and attacked the other apple.
Just then along came "Sweet Caporal" demanding the core.

"Gimme it 'n' I'll put yer wise ter sup'm."

Tom made the speculation.

"Wop Joe's around de corner wid his pushcart? wot d'ye say we give him
de spill?"

They were presently joined by "Slats" Corbett, and the "Two Aces," Jim
and Jake Mattenberg, and shortly thereafter Wop Joe's little candystand
was carried by assault.

The gum-drops and chocolate bars which did not find their way into the
pockets of the storming host, were strewn about the street, the whistle
of the peanut-roaster was broken off and Tom went scooting down the
street tooting it vigorously.

This affair scattered the gang for the time, and presently Tom and
"Sweet Caporal" found themselves together. They got an empty bottle
from an ash wagon, broke it and distributed the pieces along Broad
Street, which they selected as a sort of "mine area" for the
embarrassment of auto traffic.

Tom then shuffled into the Public Library, ostensibly to read, but in
fact to decorate the books according to his own theories of art, and
was ejected because he giggled and scuffed his feet and interfered with
the readers.

It would not be edifying to follow Tom's shuffling footsteps that
afternoon, nor to enumerate the catalogue of unseemly phrase and
vicious mischief which filled the balance of the day. He wound up his
career of glory by one of the most contemptible things which he had
ever done. He went up at dusk and tacked his quarantine sign to the
outer gate of the Bennett place.

"Gee, I hope they're all home," he said.

They were all at home and Mrs. Bennett, whom he hated, was busy
with preparation and happy anticipations for her unsuspecting son. That
the wretched plan did not succeed was due to no preparatory omission on
the part of Tom, but because something happened which changed the whole
face of things.



Tom's visit to the Library reminded him that it was here "them
regiment fellers" met, and since it was near the Bennett place he
decided to loiter thereabout, partly for the ineffable pleasure of
beholding the side-tracking of Connover's party, and partly in the hope
of seeing Mr. Ellsworth again.

So he shuffled around a little before dark and did sentinel duty
between the two places. He wanted something to eat very much indeed,
and he surmised that such a sympathetic fellow as young Mr. Ellsworth
would "give him the lend of a nickel" especially if he were tipped off
in regard to the coming ball game.

Standing outside, Tom heard the uproarious laughter through the
basement windows and wondered what it was all about. Strange that
fellows could be enjoying themselves so thoroughly who were not up to
some kind of mischief.

Presently, the basement door opened and the scouts began to come out.
Tom loitered in the shadow across the way.

The first group paused on the sidewalk bent on finishing their
discussion as to whether "whipping" was as good as splicing for two
strands of rope. One boy insisted that splicing was the only way if you
knew how to do it, but that you had to whittle a splicing needle.

"I wouldn't trust my weight on any double whipping," said
another fellow. "The binding wouldn't stand salt water--not unless you
tarred it."

"If my little snow-white hand is going to grab that loop, it'll
be spliced," said the first speaker.

Another boy came out and said he could jump the gap without any
rope at all; it was only seven feet, and what was the use of a rope
anyway? Then someone said that Pee-wee would do it scout pace, and
there was a great laugh. The group went on up the street.

Then out came the renowned Pee-wee himself in hot pursuit of them,
running a little, walking a little, according to his habit.

Two more boys came out and one of them said it was going to rain to-morrow.
Tom wondered how he knew. Then three or four of the Ravens
appeared and one said it would be a great stunt if they could work that
on the Silver Foxes at midnight.

Tom didn't know what the Silver Foxes were (he knew there were no foxes
in Bridgeboro), and he had no notion what "that" meant, but he liked
the idea of doing it at midnight. He would like to be mixed up in
something which was done at midnight himself.

But his trusty pal, Mr. Ellsworth, did not appear. Whether he was
absent that evening, Tom never knew. The last ones to emerge from the
Library basement, were a couple of boys who were talking about dots and

"You want to make your dot flares shorter," one said.

"Shall I tell you what I'm going to say?" the other asked.

"No, sure not, let me dope it out."

"Well, then, get on the job as soon as you reach home."

"All right, then I won't say good-night till later. So long."

"See you to-morrow."

How these two expected to say good night without seeing each other Tom
could not imagine, but he thought it had something to do with "dot
flares"; in any event, it was something very mysterious and was to be
done that night. He rather liked the idea of it.

The two boys separated, one going up toward Blakeley's Hill and pausing
to glance at the quarantine sign on the Bennett house as he passed. Tom
was rather surprised that he noticed it since he seemed to be in a
hurry, but he followed, resolved to "slam" the fellow if he took it

Then there came into his head the bright idea that if he followed this
boy up the hill to an unfrequented spot he could hold him up for a

A little way up the hill the boy suddenly turned and stood waiting for
him. Tom was hardly less than amazed at this for he had thought that
his pursuit was not known. When they came face to face Tom saw that it
was none other than the "half-baked galook" Roy Blakeley.

He wore the full Scout regalia which fitted him to perfection, and upon
his left breast Tom could see a ribbon with something bright depending
from it, which seemed to be in the shape of a bird. He had a trim
figure and stood very straight, and about his neck was a looselyknotted
scarf of a silvery gray color, showing quite an expanse of bare
throat. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, and on one wrist he
wore a leather band.

"What are you following me for?" he asked.

"Who's follerin' yer?"

"You are."

"I ain't follerin' yer neither."

"Yes, you are."

"Yer mean ter tell me I'm lyin'?" shouted Tom, advancing with a
threatening air.


Tom's hulking form was within a few inches' of Blakeley and he thrust
forward his lowered head and held his clenched fist conveniently ready
at his side, but Roy did not budge. On the contrary, he seemed rather
amused. He did not scare worth a cent.

"Yer want me ter hand ye one?"

"No, sure not."

"Well then, was I lyin'?"

"Surest thing you know."

There was a pause.

"Gimme a nickel 'n' I'll leave ye off," said Tom magnanimously.

The boy laughed and asked, "What do you want the nickel for?"

"Fer a cup o' coffee."

Roy paused a minute, biting his lip ruminatively, frankly contemplating

"I can make you a better cup of coffee," said he, "than any lunch wagon
juggler in this town. You're halfway up the hill now; come on up the
rest of the way--just for a stunt. Ever up on the hill?"

Tom hesitated.

"Come on, you're not in a hurry to get home, are you? I'll give you
some plum-duff I made and you can have a belt axe to chop it with if
you want to. Come on, just for a stunt."

"Who's up dere?"

"Just 'Yours sincerely.'"

"Yer live in de big house, don'cher?"

"Not fer me; guess again. Nay, nay, my boy, I live in Camp
Solitaire, with a ring round it. Anybody steps inside that ring gets
his wrist slapped and two demerits. I let the house stay there on
account of my mother and father and the cat. Don't you worry, you won't
get within two hundred feet of the house. The house and I don't speak."

Tom, half suspicious but wanting a cup of coffee, shuffled along at
Roy's side. The scout's offhand manner and rather whimsical way of
talking took the wind out of his belligerence, and he allowed himself
so far to soften toward this "rich guy" as to say,

"Me an' our house don't speak neither; we wuz chucked."


"Ye-re, put out. Old John Temple done it, but I'm hunk all right."

"When was that?"

"Couple o' days ago."

He told the story of the eviction and his companion listened as they
plodded up the hill.

"Well," said Roy, "I haven't slept indoors for two weeks, and I'm not
going to for the next six weeks. And the best way to get hunk on a
fellow that puts you out of a house is just to sleep outdoors. They
can't put you out of there very well. Camp, and you've got the laugh on

"Gee, I thought nobuddy but poor guys slep' outdoors."

"It's the poor guys that sleep indoors," said Roy.

"Don' de wind git on ye?"

"Sure--gets all over you; it's fine."

"My father give me a raw hand-out, all right, and then some

"Well, there's no use fighting your pack."

"Yer what?"

"Your pack--as Dan Beard says."

"Who's he--one o' your crowd?"

"You bet he is. 'Fighting your pack' is scrapping with your job--with
what can't be helped--kind of. See?"

They walked along in silence, Tom's half-limping sideways gait in
strange contrast with his companion's carriage, and soon entered the
spacious grounds of the big old-fashioned house which crowned the
summit of Blakeley's Hill, one of the show places of the town.

"Can you jump that hedge?" said Roy, as he leaped over it. "This'll be
your first sleep outdoors, won't it? If you wake up all of a sudden and
hear a kind of growling don't get scared--it's only the trees."

Under a spacious elm, a couple of hundred feet from the house, was a
little tent with a flag-pole near it.

"That's where Old Glory hangs out, but she goes to bed at sunset.
That's what gives her such rosy cheeks. We'll hoist her up and give her
the salute in the morning."

Near the tent was a small fire place of stones, with a rough bench by
it and a chair fashioned from a grocery box. Before the entrance stood
two poles and on a rough board across these were painted the words,
CAMP SOLITAIRE, as Tom saw by the light of the lantern which Roy held
up for a moment.

The tent was furnished with a cot, blankets, mosquito-netting, several
books on a little shelf, and magazines strewn about with BOYS' LIFE on
their covers. On the central upright was a little shelf with a
reflector for the lantern, and close to the pole a rickety steamer
chair with a cushion or two. The place looked very inviting.

"Now this out here," said Roy, "is my signal pedestal. You know Westy
Martin, don't you? He's patrol leader, and he and I are trying out the
Morse code; you'll see me hand him one to-night. We're trying it by
searchlight first, then, later we'll get down to the real fire works.
He lives out on the Hillside Road a little way."

The signal pedestal was a little tower with a platform on top reached
by a ladder.

"Doesn't need to be very high, you see, because you can throw a
searchlight way up, but we use it daytimes for flag work. Here's the
searchlight," Roy added, unwrapping it from a piece of canvas. "Belongs
on the touring car, but I use it. I let my father use it on the car
sometimes--if he's good.

"Now for the coffee. Sit right down on that parlor chair, but don't
lean too far back. Like it strong? No? Right you are. Wait a minute,
the lantern's smoking. Never thought what you were up against to-night,
did you? You're kidnapped and don't know it. By the time we're through
the eats Westy'll be home and we'll say good-night to him.

"Can you beat that valley for signalling? Westy's nearly as high up as
we are. Now for the fire and then the plum-duff. Don't be afraid of it-you
can only die once. Wish I had some raisin pudding, but my mother
turned me down on raisins to-day."

He sat down on the ground near Tom, scaled his hat into the tent, drew
his knees up, and breathed a long, exaggerated sigh of fatigue after
his few minutes' exertion.

"Let's see, what was I going to ask you? Oh, yes; how'd you get hunk on
John Temple?"

"Put a quarantine sign on Sissy Bennett's house."


"Sure; didn't yer see it?"

"What for?"

"He's a rich guy, ain't he?"

Roy looked at him, puzzled.

"Dere's a gang comin' over from Hillside ter s'prise him to-night."

"In a car?"

"Ye-re. An' I put de sign up fer ter sidetrack 'em."

"You did?"

In the glare of the glowing fire Roy looked straight at Tom. "How will
that--what good--" he began; then paused and continued to look
curiously at him with the same concentrated gaze with which he would
have studied a trail by night. But that was not for long. A light came
into his eyes. Hurriedly he took out his watch and looked at it.

"Nine o'clock," he said, thoughtfully; "they must have started back."

He rose, all the disgust gone from his face, and slapped Tom on the

"Ain't he a rich guy?" explained Tom.

"Never mind that," said Roy. "I'm glad you told me--I'm going to show
you something as sure as you're a foot high! You and I are going to
have the time of our lives to-night, and don't you forget it!"



"Quick, now, hand me the light and look out you don't trip on the
wires. If they once get past Westy's house--g-o-o-d-night! Just
inside the garage door there you'll see a switch-turn it on. Here, take
the lantern. If Westy don't get this right, we'll kill him."

Tom, with but the haziest idea of what was to be done, followed
directions. It evidently had something to do with the mysterious "dot
flares" and with his own mean act. These excited nocturnal activities
had a certain charm, and if it wasn't mischief Roy was up to it had at
least all the attractive qualities of mischief.

"You'll see a book just inside the tent--paper covered--hand me that
too, and come up yourself. Look out for the wires," cautioned Roy.

He opened the Scout Handbook to about the middle and laid it flat on
the tower rail.

"That's the Morse Code," said he, "easy as eating ice cream when you
once get the hang of it. I know it by heart but I'm going to let you
read them to me so as to be sure. Better be sure than be sorry--hey? I
hope they don't speed that auto till we get through with them."

"Can he answer?" ventured Tom.

"No, they haven't got a car at Westy's and no searchlight. He brings me
the message all writ, wrot, wrote out, in the morning. They've got a
dandy team there, though. Cracky, I'd rather have a pair of horses than
an auto any day, wouldn't you. Now be patient, Conny dear, and we'll
see what we can do for you."

"It's a long, long way to Tip--Hillside. Do you s'pose Westy's home
yet? Oh yes, sure, he must be. Well, here we go--take the lantern and
read off the ones I ask for and get them right or I'll-make you eat
another plate of plum-duff! Feeding with intent to kill, hey?"

Tom couldn't help laughing; Roy's phrases had a way of popping out like
a Jack-in-the-Box.

He had a small makeshift wooden bracket which stood on a grocery box on
the tower platform, and in this the auto searchlight swung.

"Wait a second now till I give him 'Attention' and then we're off.
Guess you must have seen this light from downtown, hey?"

"Ye-re, I wondered what'twas."

"Well, here's where you find out."

There was a little click as he turned the switch, and then a long
straight column of misty light shot up into the darkness, bisecting the
heavens. Far over to the west it swung, then far to the east, while Tom
watched it, fascinated. Then he heard the click of the switch again and
darkness reigned, save for the myriad stars.

It wac the first time in his life that Tom had ever been charged with a
real responsibility, and he waited nervously.

"That meant, 'Get ready,'" said Roy. "We'll give him time to sharpen
his pencil. Do you pull much of a stroke with Machelsa, the Indian
spirit? She smiles a smile at me once in a while, and if you want her
to see you through any kind of a stunt you just rub your cheek with one
hand while you pat your forehead with the other; try it."

"Can't do it, eh?" he laughed. "That's one of Mr. Ellsworth's stunts;
he got us all started on that. You'd think the whole troop was crazy."

"I know him," said Tom.

"He's the worst of the lot," said Roy. "Well, off we go, let's have S-call
them dots and lines; some say 'dashes' but lines is quicker if
you're working fast."

"Tree dots," said Tom.

Three sudden flashes shot up into the sky, quickly, one after another.

"Now T."

"Line," said Tom.

The switch clicked, and the long misty column rose again, remaining for
several seconds.

"Now O."

"T'ree lines," said Tom, getting excited.

"Now P--and be careful--it's a big one."

"I'm on de job," said Tom, becoming more enthusiastic as he became more
sure of himself. "Dot--line--line--dot."

The letter was printed on the open page of the heavens and down in
Barrel Alley two of the O'Connor boys sitting on the rickety railing
watched the lights and wondered what they meant.

So, across the intervening valley to Westy's home, the message was
sent. The khaki-clad boy, with rolled-up sleeves, whose brown hand held
the little porcelain switch, was master of the night and of the
distance, and the other watched him admiringly.

Down at the Western Union office in Bridgeboro, the operator sauntered
out in his shirtsleeves and smilingly watched the distant writing,
which he understood.

Stop all autos send car with
young folks back to Bennett's sure
not practice serious.

"Good-night," said Roy, and two fanlike swings of the misty column told
that it was over. "If they haven't passed Westy's yet, we win. Shake,
Tom," he added, gayly, "You did fine--you're a fiend at it! Wouldn't
you rather be here than at Conny's party--honest?"

"Would I?"

"Now we'll rustle down the hill and see the bunch co'me back--if they
do. Oh, cracky, don't you hope they do?"

"Do I?" said Tom.

"Like the Duke of Yorkshire, hey? Ever hear of him? Up the hill and
down again. We'll bring the sign up for a souvenir, what do you say?"

"Mebbe it oughter go back where it come from," said Tom, slowly.

"Guess you're right."

"Ever go scout's pace?" said Roy.

"What's that?"

"Fifty running-fifty walking. Try it and you'll use no other. Come on!
The kind of pace you've always wanted," said Roy, jogging along.
"Beware of substitutes."

It was just about the time when Roy was showing Tom his camp that a big
touring car rolled silently up to the outer gate of the Bennett place.
(The house stood well back from the road.) The car was crowded with
young people of both sexes, and it was evident from their expressions
of surprise and disappointment that they saw the yellow sign on the

There were a few moments of debate; some one suggested tooting the
horn, but another thought that might disturb the patient; one proposed
going to the house door and inquiring, while still another thought it
would be wiser not to. Some one said something about 'phoning in the
morning; a girl remarked that the last time she saw Connover he had a
headache and looked pale, and indeed Connover's general weakness,
together with the epidemic which prevailed in Bridgeboro, made the
appearance of the sign perfectly plausible.

The upshot was that the auto rolled away and turned into the Hillside
Turnpike. Scarcely had it gone out of sight when a patch of light
flickered across the lawn, the shade was drawn from a window and the
figure of Mrs. Bennett appeared peering out anxiously.

Ten minutes out of Bridgeboro, as the big car silently rolled upon the
Hillside Turnpike, one of its disappointed occupants (a girl) called,

"Oh, see the searchlight!"

"Oh, look," said another.

The long, misty column was swinging across the heavens.

"Now you see it, now you don't," laughed one of the fellows, as Tom's
utterance of "Dot," sent a sudden shaft of light into the sky and out
again as quickly.

"Where is it, do you suppose?" asked one of the girls.

"Does it mean anything?" asked another.

It meant nothing to them, for there was not a scout in the car. And yet
a mile or two farther along the dark road there hung a lantern on an
upright stick, directly in their path, and scrawled upon a board below
it was the word, "Stop."

Out of the darkness stepped a figure in a white sweater (for the night
was growing cold) and a large-brimmed brown felt hat. One of his arms
was braced akimbo on his hip, the other hand he laid on the wind shield
of the throbbing auto.

"Excuse me, did you come from Bennett's in Bridgeboro?"

"Yes, we did," said a musical voice.

"Then you'd better turn and go back; there's a message here which says

"Back to Bennett's? Really?"

"I'll read it to you," said the boy in the white sweater.

He held a slip of yellow paper down in front of one of the acetylene
headlights, and read,

"Stop all autos, send car with young folks back to Bennett's, sure."
(He did not read the last three words on the paper.)

"Did you ever in all your life know anything so
perfectly extraordinary?" said a girl.

"You can turn better right up there," said Westy. He was a quiet,
uncommunicative lad.

The sign was gone from the Bennetts' gate when the car returned, and
the two boys standing in the shadow across the way, saw the party go up
the drive and disappear into the house; there was still plenty of time
for the festive program.

They never knew what was said on the subject of the sign and the
mysterious telegram.

They kept it up at Bennetts' till long after midnight. They played
"Think of a Number," and "Button, button, who's got the button?" and
wore tissue-paper caps which came out of tinselled snappers, and had
ice cream and lady-fingers and macaroons and chicken salad.

When Connover went to bed, exhausted but happy, Mrs. Bennett tripped
softly in to say good-night to him and to see that he had plenty of
fresh air by "opening the window a little at the top."

"Isn't it much better, dearie," she said, seating herself for a moment
on the edge of the bed, "to find your pleasure right here than to be
tramping over the country and building bonfires, and getting your
clothing all filled with smoke from smudge signals, or whatever they
call them, and catching your death of cold playing with searchlights,
like that Blakeley boy up on the hill? It's just a foolish, senseless
piece of business, taking a boy's thoughts away from home, and no good
can ever come of it."



What did Tom Slade do after the best night's sleep he ever had? He went
to Mrs. O'Connor's, where he knew he was welcome, and washed his face
and hands. More than that, he attended to his lessons in school that
day, to the teacher's astonishment. And why? Because he knew it was
right? Not much! But because he was anxious not to be kept in that
afternoon for he wanted to go down and peek through the fence of
Temple's lot, to see if there were any more wonders performed; to try
to get a squint at Mr. Ellsworth and Westy.

In short, Tom Slade had the Scout bug; he could not escape it now. He
had thrown it off once before, but that was a milder dose. As luck
would have it, that very afternoon he had an amusing sidelight on the
scouting business which gave him his first knowledge of the "good turn"
idea, and a fresh glimpse of the character of Roy Blakeley.

Inside Temple's lot the full troop was holding forth in archery
practice and Tom peered through a knothole and later ventured to a
better view-point on top of the fence.

When any sort of game or contest is going on it is absolutely necessary
to the boy beholder that he pick some favorite whom he hopes to see
win, and Tom lost no time in singling Roy out as the object of his

It was not a bad choice. As Roy stood sideways to the target, his feet
firmly planted, one bared brown arm extended horizontally and holding
the gracefully curving bow, and the other, bent but still horizontal,
holding the arrow in the straining cord, he made an attractive picture.

"Here's where I take the pupil out of the Bull's-eye," he said, and the
arrow flew entirely free of the target.

"No sooner said than stung!" shouted Pee-wee Harris.

"Oh, look who's going to try,--mother, mother, pin a rose on me!"
shouted another boy.

"Mother, mother, turn the hose on me," called another.

"Stand from behind in case the arrow goes backwards!"

"I bet he hits that fellow on the fence!"

Tom could not help laughing as Mr. Ellsworth, with unruffled
confidence, stepped in place.

"Oi--oi--oi--here's where Hiawatha turns over in his grave!"

It surprised Tom quite a little that they did not seem to stand at all
in awe of the scoutmaster. One boy began ostentatiously passing his hat

"For the benefit of Sitting Bull Ellsworth," said he, "highest salaried
artist in Temple's lot--positively last appearance this side of the

But "Sitting Bull" Ellsworth had the laugh on them all. Straight inside
the first ring went his arrow, and he stepped aside and gave an
exceedingly funny wink at Tom on the fence.

Tom changed his favorite.

Presently Roy sauntered over to the fence and spoke to him. "Regular
shark at it, isn't he?"

"Which one is Westy?" Tom asked.

"Westy? That fellow right over there with the freckles. If you get up
close you can see the Big Dipper on his left cheek. He's got Orion
under his ear too."


"No, Orion--it's a bunch of stars. Oh, he's a regular walking

Tom stared at Westy. It seemed odd that the invisible being who had
caught that message out of the darkness and turned the car back, should
be right here, hobnobbing with other mortals.

"Come over here, Westy," shouted Roy, "I want Tom Slade to see your
freck--well, I'll be--if this one hasn't shifted way over to the other
side. Westy's our chart of the heavens. This is the fellow that helped
send you the message last night, Westy. He ate two plates of plum-duff
and he lives to tell the tale."

"I understand Roy kidnapped you," said Westy.

"It was fun all right," said Tom.

"Too bad his parents put him out, wasn't it?" said Westy.

"Did you ever taste any of his biscuits?" asked another fellow, who
sauntered over. They formed a little group just below Tom.

"We've got two of them in the Troop Room we use for bullets," he

"What do you think of Camp Solitaire?" Westy asked.

Tom knew well enough that they were making fun of each other, but he
did not exactly know how to participate in this sort of "guying."

"'Sall right," said he, rather weakly.

"What do you think of the Eifel Tower?"

"'Sall right."

"Did he show you the Indian moccasins Julia made for him?"

This precipitated a wrestling match and Tom Slade witnessed the slow
but sure triumph of science, as one after another the last speaker's
arms, legs, back, neck and finally his head, yielded to the invincible
process of Roy's patient efforts until the victim lay prone upon the

"Is Camp Solitaire all right?" Roy demanded, laughing.

"Sure," said the victim and sprang up, liberated.

Tom's interest in these pleasantries was interrupted by the voice of
Mr. Ellsworth.

"Come over here and try your hand, my boy."

"Sure, go ahead," encouraged Westy, as the group separated for him to
jump down.

"I couldn' hit it," hesitated Tom, abashed.

"Neither could he," retorted Roy, promptly.

"If you let him get away with the championship," said another boy,
indicating the scoutmaster, "he'll have such a swelled head he won't
speak to us for a month. Come ahead down and make a stab at it, just
for a stunt. You couldn't do worse than Blakeley."

Everything was a "stunt" with the scouts.

Reluctantly, and smiling, half pleased and half ashamed, Tom let
himself down into the field and went over to where the scoutmaster
waited, bow and arrow in hand.

"A little more sideways, my boy," said Mr. Ellsworth; "turn this foot
out a little; bend your fingers like this, see? Ah, that's it. Now pull
it right back to your shoulder--one--two--three--" The arrow shot past
the target, a full three yards shy of it, past the Ravens' patrol flag
planted near by, and just grazed the portly form of Mr. John Temple,
who came cat-a-cornered across the field from the gate.

A dead silence prevailed.

"I presume you have permission to use this property," demanded Mr.
Temple in thundering tones.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Temple," said the scoutmaster.

"Good afternoon, sir. Will you be good enough to let me see your
authority for the use of these grounds?" he demanded frigidly. "If I
gave any such permission I cannot seem to recall it."

"I am afraid, Mr. Temple," said Mr. Ellsworth, "that we can show no
written word on--"

"Ah, yes," said the bank president, conclusively, "and is it a part of
your program to teach young boys to take and use what does not belong
to them?"

The scoutmaster flushed slightly. "No, that is quite foreign to our
program, Mr. Temple. Some weeks ago, happening to meet your secretary I
asked him whether we might use this field for practice since it is in a
central and convenient part of town, and he told me he believed there
would be no objection. Perhaps I should have--"

"And you are under the impression that this field belongs to my
secretary?" asked Mr. Temple, hotly. "If you have nothing better to do
with yourself than to play leader to a crew of--"

Here Mr. Ellsworth interrupted him.

"We will leave the field at once, sir."

"When I was a young man," said Mr. Temple, with frosty
condescension, "I had something more important to do with myself than
to play Wild West with a pack of boys."

"There were more open fields in those days," said the scoutmaster,

"And perhaps that is why my wealth grows now."

"Very likely; and the movement which these boys represent," Mr.
Ellsworth added with a suggestion of pride in his voice, "is growing
quite as fast as any man's wealth."

"Indeed, sir! Do you know that this boy's father owes me money?" said
Mr. Temple, coldly indicating Tom.

"Very likely."

"And that the boy is a hoodlum?"

Mr. Ellsworth bit his lip, hesitatingly. "Yes, I know that, Mr.
Temple," he said.

"And a thief and a liar?"

"Don't run, Tom," whispered Roy.

"No, I don't know that. Suppose we talk apart, Mr. Temple."

"We will talk right here, and there'll be very little talking indeed.
If you think I am a public target, sir, you are quite mistaken! You
clear out of this lot and keep out of it, or you'll go to jail--the
whole pack of you! A man is known by the company he keeps. If you
choose to cast your lot with children--and hoodlums and rowdies--I
could send that boy to jail if I wanted to," he broke off. "You
he's a vicious character and yet you--"


The Scoutmaster looked straight into the eyes of the enraged Temple,
and there was a little prophetic ring in his voice as he answered.

"I'm afraid it would be hard to say at present just what he is, Mr.
Temple. I was thinking just a few minutes ago, as I saw him dangling
his legs up there, that he was on the fence in more ways than one. I
suppose we can push him down on either side we choose."

"There's a right and wrong side to every fence, young man."

"There is indeed."

"As every good citizen should know; a public side and a private side."

"He has always been on the wrong side of the fence hitherto, Mr.
Temple." Mr. Ellsworth held out his hand and instinctively Tom shuffled
toward him and allowed the scoutmaster's arm to encircle his shoulder.
Roy Blakeley elbowed his way among the others as if it were appropriate
that he should be at Tom's side.

"I have no wish to interfere with this 'movement' or whatever you call
it," said John Temple, sarcastically, "provided you keep off my
property. If you don't do that I'll put the thumb-screws on and see
what the law can do, and break up your 'movement' into the bargain!"

"The law is helpless, Mr. Temple," said Mr. Ellsworth. "Oh, it has
failed utterly. I wish I could make you see that. As for breaking up
the movement," he continued in quite a different tone, "that is all
sheer bluster, if you'll allow me to say so."

"What!" roared John Temple.

"Neither you nor any other man can break up this movement."

"As long as there are jails--"

"As long as there are woods and fields. But I see there is no room for
discussion. We will not trespass again, sir; Mr. Blakeley's hill is
ours for the asking. But you might as well try to bully the sun as to
talk about breaking up this movement, Mr. John Temple. It is like a dog
barking at a train of cars."

"Do you know," said the capitalist, in a towering rage, "that this boy
hurled a stone at me only a week ago?"

"I do not doubt it; and what are we going to do about it?"

"Do about it?" roared John Temple.

"Yes, do about it. The difference between you and me, Mr. Temple, is
that you are thinking of what this boy did a week ago, and I am
thinking of what he is going to do to-morrow."

The boys had the last word in this affair and it was blazoned forth
with a commanding emphasis which shamed "old John's" most wrathful
utterance. It was Roy Blakeley's idea, and it was exactly like him.

He invited the whole troop (Tom included) up to Camp Solitaire and
there, before the sun was too low, they printed in blazing red upon a
good-sized board the words


When darkness had fallen this was erected upon two uprights projecting
above the top of Temple's board fence.

"He'll be sure to see it," commented Roy, "and it's what he always

When a carpenter arrived on the scene the next morning to put up such a
sign, as per instructions, he went back and told John Temple that there
was a very good one there already, and asked what was the use of

It was the kind of thing that Roy Blakeley was in the habit of doing--a
good turn with a dash of pepper in it.



During the next few days a dreadful document appeared which had to do
with Tom, though he never saw it and only heard of it indirectly.
Whence it emanated and what became of it he never knew, but he knew it
was originated by the "rich guys" and that Mrs. Bennett and John Temple
and the Probation Officer and the Judge had something to do with it.

It said that "Whereas one Thomas Slade, aged fourteen, son of William
Slade, whereabouts unknown, and Annie Slade, deceased, was an
unprotected minor, etc., etc., that said Thomas Slade should therefore
be brought into court by somebody or other at a certain particular
time, for commitment as a city charge," and so forth and so on. There
was a good deal more to it than this, but this was the part of it which
Tom heard of, and he rose in rebellion.

He had been sleeping, sometimes at Mrs. O'Connor's and sometimes up at
Camp Solitaire with Roy, as the fancy took him. When the news of what
was under way fell like a thunderbolt upon him, in a frenzy of
apprehension he went to Mr. Ellsworth.

Mr. Ellsworth himself went to court on the fatal day. The judge asked
what facilities the "Scout movement" had for handling a boy like Tom
Slade and whether they had an "institution." He thought Tom might be
placed under the supervision of competent people in the Home for
Wayward Boys. The Probation Officer said that was just the place for
Tom for he had a "vicious proclivity." Tom thought presently he would
be accused of having stolen that, whatever it was. Happily, though, in
the end, he was committed to Mr. Ellsworth's care and he and Tom went
forth together.

"Now Tom," said the Scoutmaster, "you and I are going to have a little
pow-wow--you know what a pow-wow is? Well, then I'll tell you. When the
Indians get together to chin about important matters, they call it a
pow-wow. They usually hold it sitting around a camp fire, and we'll do
that too when we get to Salmon River, for the Indians haven't got
anything on us. But we'll have our first pow-wow right now walking
along the street. What do you say?"


"You heard the judge say you haven't any relations and, in a way, he
was right, but he was mistaken, too, for a scout is a brother to every
other scout and you've got lots of brothers, thousands of them; or will
have when you get to be a scout. And after you get to be a scout, why
you'll have a pretty big pack to carry. The question is, can you carry


"You'll have to carry the pack for all these brothers of yours. If
you make a slip--tell a lie or throw a stone or interfere with
Ching Wo--everybody'll say it's the Boy Scouts. Just the same as if
Roy Blakeley should send a flash message wrong. The telegraph operator
would give us the laugh and say the Scouts didn't know what they were
doing. You and I'd get the blame as well as Roy. So you see, Roy's got
a pretty big pack to carry, but he manages to stagger along with it.

"You may have noticed that the Scouts are great fellows for laughing.
If there's any laughing to be done, we're going to be the ones to do
it. We don't let anybody else have the laugh. That's our middle name--

"There's one other little thing, and then I'll tell you the main thing
I want to say--flash it, as you fellows would say. We have to be
careful about talking. Stick your tongue out a little way between your
teeth and say them."

"Them," said Tom.

"The first thing for you to do is to make a list of all the words you
use that begin with 'th' and say them that way. You know we have troop
calls and patrol calls and all sorts of calls, and we've got to be able
to make them just right--see?"


"Now you take that word you use so much--'ye-re.' 'Yes' is better
because it's only got three letters and you can flash it quicker. So
one of the first things to do is to make the school books work overtime
(there's only two or three weeks more) and get all those words just
right; them, those, three--because if you said 'tree' and meant
'three' it might throw everything endways. We have a lot to do with
trees in the summertime, and you want to be able to say'three' just
right, for another reason.


"There are three parts to the Scout Oath and we don't want to get those
three parts mixed with trees. So whenever you're thinking of the oath,
say three and whenever you're thinking of going to Salmon River
Grove, say tree."

The boy was much impressed.

"But, Tom, the immediate thing to do is to go down to Schmitt's Grocery
and take down that sign he's got outside."

"I told Roy Blakeley I wouldn't take down no more signs."

"You can tell Roy you took this one down with me--just for a stunt."

Outside Schmitt's Grocery they found a "Boy Wanted" sign, and then Tom
understood. He hesitated a little when Mr. Ellsworth went in, for his
relations with Mr. Schmitt had not been altogether cordial.

"How'd do, Mr. Schmitt," said the scoutmaster breezily. "How's the
Russian advance?"

"Dem Roosians vill gett all vot's coming to dem," said Mr. Schmitt.

"Yes? Well, how about this boy?"

"Veil, vot about him?"

"He wants to take down that sign out there."

"Och! I know dot poy!"

"No, you don't; this is a different fellow--a Boy Scout."

"Veil, if dis iss der kind of a poy scouts--"

"Now, look here, Mr. Schmitt, don't you say anything about the Boy
Scouts. Who stopped your runaway horse for you last week?"

"I didn't say noddings about dem--"

"Well, a scout is a brother to every other scout, and if you say
anything against one you say it against all."

He winked significantly at Mr. Schmitt. "Come back here, I want to
speak to you," said he.

They retired to the rear of the store, where Mr. Schmitt leaned his arm
affectionately over the big wheel of the coffee-grinder and listened,
all attention.

Tom overheard the words, "fresh air," "Boys' Home," "something to do,"
"appeal to honor," "sense of responsibility," and more or less about
woods and country and about a "boy to-day being a man to-morrow," and
about "working with him," and other odds and ends which he did not

"Veil, it's a goot ting, I'll say dot mooch," said Mr. Schmitt, as they
returned to the front of the store. "Dere is too mooch cities--dey
don't got no chance."

"Tom," said Mr. Ellsworth, "I've been telling Mr. Schmitt about that
signal work. (He was wondering what the light was.) And I've told him
about your wanting to earn a little money before camping time. He's
going to start you in on three dollars and a half a week, school-days
after three and all day Saturdays and Saturday nights. He asked me if
you could deliver goods and I told him there wasn't a boy in town who
could "deliver the goods" like you. Remember the pack you've got to
carry for the whole troop. If you fall down, you'll queer the troop-Roy
Blakeley and all of us.

"Mr. Schmitt's a busy man and he has no time to think of what you were
doing a few days ago, so don't you think about that either. You can't
follow a trail looking backward--you have to keep your squinters ahead.
Isn't that so, Mr. Schmitt?"

"You can'd look forwards vile you are going packwards," said Mr.
Schmitt. "You come aroundt at dree o'clock, to-morrow."

"Now, Tom," said Mr. Ellsworth, as they left the store, "my idea is for
you to stay at Mrs. O'Connor's, and give her your money every week. Roy
says he'd like to have you go up several nights a week and stay at Camp
Solitaire, so I think maybe three dollars a week to Mrs. O'Connor will
be all right. Then she'll save the other fifty cents for you and by
the time we start for Salmon River you'll have enough, or pretty near
enough, for a uniform.

"For instance, you might go up to Camp Solitaire every other night and
eat plum-duff and eggs with Roy. He says they've got chickens enough
up there to keep the camp going. He uses so many eggs, one way or
another, I should think he'd ashamed to look a hen in the face. And
remember about the colors coming down at sunset. Uncle Sam's a regular
old maid about such things, you know. And don't forget page--what was

"Tree--three hundred and seventy-five," said Tom.

"That'll tell you all about the flag. Then I want you to turn to page
28 in the Handbook and study our law. We have our own home-made laws
same as everything else, plum-duff and fishing rods--all home-made."

Tom laughed.

"I'll want to know what you think of those laws. I think they're
pretty good; Roy thinks they're great, but then Roy's half crazy----"

"No, he isn't."

"He doesn't know as much as he thinkgs he does," the scoutmaster came

"He knows all dem--them signs backwards."

"You'll beat him out at it," said the scoutmaster. "Anyway, he's going
to post you about the sign and the salute, and that leaves only the
knots. You take a squint at those knots in the Handbook. I can improve
on two of them, but I won't tell you how. You've got to get the hang
of four of them, and I want you to see if you can't do all this by
Sunday afternoon. But remember, Mr. Schmitt comes first."

Mr. Ellsworth blew into Mrs. O'Connor's with the same breezy pleasantry
that he had shown Mr. Schmitt, to the great edification and delight of
Sadie McCarren. He created quite a sensation in Barrell Alley and Mrs.
O'Connor, good woman that she was, fell in with his plan

The next morning Tom was up at six, wrestling with the O'Connor
clothes-line, and by half past seven he had mastered the reef-knot and
the weaver's knot, which latter he used to fasten two loose ends of the
broken line for permanent use, and he wondered whether this by-product
of his early morning practice might pass as a "good turn."

Before he went to school, Mrs. Beaman, a neighbor, came in and said
that after long consultation with her husband she had decided to offer
three dollars for the Slade possessions, and in the absence of Bill
Slade, the estate was settled up in Tom's interest on that basis. So he
went forth feeling he and John Temple were alike in at least one thing-they
were both capitalists.

Mr. Ellsworth was somewhat of a stickler for form and organization, and
it was a pleasant scene which took place the following Sunday afternoon
under the big elm up at Camp Solitaire. The ceremony of investing a
Tenderfoot was always held on a Sunday because he believed it made it
more impressive, and whenever possible it was held out of doors.

The First Bridgeboro Troop was highly organized and all its ceremonies
emphasized the patrol. The two patrols, the Ravens and the Silver Foxes
(and later the Elks) participated in the investing ceremony, but it was
the affair particularly of the patrol into which the Tenderfoot was to
enter, and this idea was worked out in the ceremony.

Each patrol stood grouped about its flag, and a little apart, near the
national colors, stood Mr. Ellsworth and Worry Sage, Troop Scribe,
armed with a book and fountain pen. Down near the signal pedestal was
Roy's sister, Esther, in company with her mother and one or two
servants from the house. Carl, the gardener, was there, too, to watch
the ceremony.

Roy Blakeley, as sponsor for the new member, stepped forward with Tom.

"Whom have you here?" Mr. Ellsworth said, in accordance with their
regular form.

"An applicant for membership in our Troop and a voice in our councils,"
answered Roy.

"Is he worthy to be a member of our Troop?"

"I come as his friend and his brother," said Roy, "and to certify that
he is as desirable to us as we to him."

"Has he made satisfactory proof of the tests?"

"He has."

"And is he prepared to take the oath?"

"He is prepared."

"Raise your right hand in the Scout Salute," Mr. Ellsworth said to Tom.

Then Worry Sage stepped forward and repeated the oath, Tom following
him, line by line:

On my honor I will do my best--
To do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the scout law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally

"How say you? Is this applicant familiar with the law?" asked the

"He is familiar with the law and finds it good."

"Let the law be read."

Worry Sage read the first law, which was the one Tom broke when he
stole Mary Temple's ball.

"You find this law good?" asked the scout-master.

"Yes sir, I do."

Then Worry read the next one, "A Scout is loyal. He is loyal to all to
whom loyalty is due; his scout leader, his home and parents and country."

"You find this law good?"

There was a slight pause.

"Do I have to obey that one?" said he. "Do I have ter be loyal ter

Mr. Ellsworth stepped forward amid a tense silence and laid his hand on
Tom's shoulder. "I think you have been loyal to your mother already,
Tom," he said in a low tone, "as for your father," he hesitated; "yes,
I think you must be loyal to him too. There weren't any Boy Scouts when
he was a boy, Tom. We must remember that."

"All right," said Tom.

"You find this law good?" asked the scoutmaster, resuming the
ceremonial form.

"Yes--I do. I'll be--loyal."

The reading of the law completed, he stepped back with Roy to the
Silver Fox emblem.

The Silver Fox patrol leader asked, "Do you promise to stand faithful
to this emblem, and to these your brother scouts of the Silver Fox

And then, "Are you familiar with the patrol call which is the voice of
the silver fox, and with the patrol sign, which is the head of the
silver fox, and do you promise to use this call and this sign and no
other so that your name may be honorable in all the Troop, and among
all troops?"

And Tom answered, "I promise."

Mr. Ellsworth pinned the Tenderfoot Badge on his breast.

Tom Slade of Barrel Alley had become a Scout. He could not see where
the trail led, but that he had hit the right one he felt sure.



"Got the linen thread?"

"Right here in the tin cup."

"All right, put the tin cup in the pint measure and the pint measure in
the coffee-pot; now put the coffee-put in the kettle and the kettle in
the duffel-bag. Then put the duffel-bag in the corner."


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