Percy K. Fitzhugh
Part 2 out of 3
"Where'll I put the corner?" laughed Tom.
"There we are," said Roy, "all ready before the Ravens have started to
pack. They ought to be called the 'Snails.'"
They were up at Camp Solitaire, the whole patrol, and the standing of
the duffel-bag in the corner of the tent was the last act of a busy
"I'll be sorry to see Camp Solitaire break up," said Tom. "We've had
some good sport up here."
"There hasn't been much 'solitaire' to it lately," said Eddie Ingram.
"Well, down it comes in the morning," said Roy. "What are we going to
catch, the three-thirty?"
"I bet the Ravens won't be ready," said one of the boys.
"It would be just like them," observed an-other.
"And we'll have to wait for the five-fifteen."
Just then Esther Blakeley came running out from the house.
"I saw Walter Harris," said she, panting from running and excitement,
"and he told me to tell you that if the Ravens aren't at the station
not to wait for them but go right along on the three-thirty and they'll
see you later at Salmon River Grove."
"What did I tell you!" laughed Roy. "Can you beat the Snail Patrol?"
"Hurrah for the Turtles!" shouted Westy.
"I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't show up till the next day."
"Or next week," said Tom.
The Ravens were not on hand for the three-thirty next day and the
Silver Foxes went without them, bag and baggage.
"They're some rear guard, all right," said Roy.
"Bet they're still buying fishing-tackle," said Westy.
"The Also Ran Patrol," commented Dorry Benton.
"The Last Gasp Patrol," said another boy.
"The Tardy Turtles," ventured Tom.
"We'll have our tent up before they leave Bridgeboro--you see," said
Roy. "Somebody ought to set a fire-cracker off underneath that patrol--
Salmon River Grove was about an hour out on the train. Some of the
wealthier of the Bridge-boro people had cottages there. The Bennetts
had a pretty bungalow in the village and here, in a hammock on the wide
veranda, Connover was wont to loll away the idle summer hours in
cushioned ease, reading books about boys who dwelt in the heavens above
and in the earth beneath and in the waters under the earth. They went
down in submarines, these boys, and up in airships, and to the North
Pole and the South Pole and the Desert of Sahara. They were all Boy
Scouts and it was from these books that Mrs. Bennett gleaned her
notions of scouting.
It was a dangerous season for Connover, for in the spring his fancy
softly turned to thoughts of scouting, but Mrs. Bennett stood guard
against these perils with a tennis racquet and a bottle of cod liver
oil and a backgammon board and an automatic piano. And so by hook or
crook Connover was tided over the dangerous season, and allowed to read
the Dan Dreadnought Series as a sort of compromise.
But the show place at Salmon River Grove was Five Oaks, the magnificent
new estate of John Temple with its palatial rubble-stone residence, its
garage and hot-houses and "No Trespassing" signs, of which latter he
had the finest collection of any man in the state. The latest edition
of these did not say "No Trespassing" at all, but simply, "Keep out."
These signs stood about the newly graded lawns seeming to shake their
fists at the curious who peered at the great tur-retted structure.
Mr. Blakeley, Roy's father, also owned an extensive tract of woods a
little way from the village and here the First Bridgeboro Troop was
monarch of all it surveyed from the day school closed until almost the
day it opened; and here Mr. Ellsworth spent the happy days of a well-earned
vacation, going into town occasionally as business demanded.
From Salmon River Grove Station the Silver Fox Patrol had to hike it
out for about three miles, and when they hit Camp Ellsworth (as the
boys insisted upon calling it) there was the Ravens' tent pitched under
the trees, and the Ravens' flag flying, and the Ravens' fire crackling
away, and the Ravens themselves gathered about it. On a tree was
displayed a glaring sign done in charcoal, which read,
The Follow-Afters are cordially invited to dine with the Rapid Ravens.
Supper is ready and
When Mr. Ellsworth came out from Bridgeboro at seven o'clpck, he
declined to be interviewed as to what he might know of this affair. But
whatever he knew, it was evident that the whole plan was known in
another quarter, for the very next day the "mail-hiker" (who was Dorry
Benton) brought up from Salmon River Village a post card addressed to
Roy, which read,
"Perhaps you know by this time the cause of my 'scout smile.' Do you
still think Walter Harris is a turtle?
Scout-Pace Pee-wee got possession of this card, made an elaborate
birch, bark frame for it, and hung it up in the Ravens' tent, where it
remained ostentatiously displayed until the bitter day of reckoning,
which came not long after.
To Tom Slade the wretched, slum-stained boy whose whole poor program
had been to call names and throw stones, the camp routine, the patrol
rivalries and reprisals, the hikes, the stunts, the camp-fire yarns,
the stalking and tracking, were like the designs in a kaleidoscope.
Observant persons noticed how he began to say "I saw" instead of "I
seen"; "those" instead of "them," and how his speech improved in many
other ways. This was largely in the interest of the signalling, about
which he had come to be a perfect fiend. It sent him to the dictionary
to find out how to spell words which were to be flashed or wigwagged;
and from spelling them properly he came to pronounce them properly.
When he found that it was possible to tell a piece of oak from a piece
of ash by smelling it, if the sense of smell were good, why, that was a
knock-out blow for cigarettes. He wasn't going to let the Ravens get
away with that species of scouting proficiency.
Next to signalling work the thing that engrossed Tom's thoughts was
tracking, which he was forever practicing and which he now looked to as
the one remaining accomplishment which would advance him to the Second
More than a month of scout life had passed for him and he was eligible
in that particular; he was ready, though a trifle shaky, on the "first
aid" business; as for signalling, he had but one rival and that was
Roy; and he could jog along at scout pace with anyone except Pee-wee.
He was prepared to chop his way into the Second Class with knife or
hatchet, as per requirements; he could kindle a fire in the open and
cook you a passable meal, though he would never be the equal of Roy as
He knew the points of the compass also, and there were but two things
about which he was still in doubt. These were the tracking and the
financial business. He felt that if he could do a good tracking stunt
it might compensate for his lack in cooking proficiency and for his
omission in another particular.
It was now the ambition of his life to be a Second Class Scout; he
thought of it by day and dreamed of it by night, and he wrestled with a
dogged persistence with those things in which he was not skillful
because they were not in his line.
It was in the interest of this ambition that he joined Mr. Ellsworth
one morning as the latter was starting out from camp on one of his
"auto confabs," as the boys called his strolls, for on these he was
wont to formulate new policies and schemes and, as a rule, he went
"Come along, Tommy boy," said he cheerily. "Got something you want to
"Yes, sir. I think I can do that tracking stunt in Paragraph Four an'
if I do an' make it a good one, I was wondering if--I s'pose--would
you--would you think those potatoes I cooked yesterday were all
"Very fair, Tommy."
"Would it pass for Test Eight?"
"Oh, I think maybe so; we all have our specialties, Tom."
"I'm a little shaky on first aid."
"I guess you can get away with that all right."
"Well then," said Tom, "there's only one thing to prevent--that is, if
I do the tracking stunt."
"Yes? What's that?"
"It's about the money."
"Yes, sir; I've got that five dollars Mr. Schmitt gave me for the extra
work when he opened the branch store."
"Where've you got that, Tom?"
"I've got it 'round my neck on a strong cord. I made a bow line knot.
It's in my membership book to keep it clean."
It was a new bill and he had always kept it clean.
"The rule says it must be in the bank--one dollar anyway. But I don't
want to break it. One day I was going to ask Roy to give me five ones
for it and then I decided not to. I like one bill better, don't you?"
"Yes, I don't know but what I do, Tom," said Mr. Ellsworth, smiling.
"Did I tell you it was a new one?"
"All right, Tommy. Don't you worry about that. Just keep the bow line
knot good and tight and think of potatoes and bandages and if you can
make that tracking stunt something special so as to just knock the
Commissioner off his feet, I guess it'll land you in the Second Class.
One thing has to make up for another, you know. I've got to stand guard
because if I didn't you fellows would be all waltzing scout-pace into
the Second Class. But don't worry about financial matters--that's
what's turning Mr. Temple's hair gray. When I go into town I'll put
that five-spot in the bank for you, hey?"
"Then if I took it out of the bank would it be the same bill?"
"No, it would be a different one."
"But would it be a new one?"
"If you wanted a new one they'd give you a new one. Now you hike it
back to camp and tell Worry there are to be no leaves of absence to-night
on account of camp-fire yarns, and to post a notice. Tell him to
make duplicate prints of the chipmunk Eddie stalked and paste one in
the Troop Book. I've got a call to make up toward the village."
Tom made him the full salute and started back. That night he dreamed
that the "Be Prepared" scroll was pinned upon him and that he was a
Silver Fox Scout of the Second Class, having passed with much
Mr. Ellsworth had designs on the Bennett bungalow and he blew into the
porch like a refreshing breeze that sultry morning.
"Hello, Connie, old boy," he called to the youth in the hammock. "How's
the state of your constitution?"
"I've got a little touch of rheumatism," said Connover.
"Yes?" said the scoutmaster. "What right have you got to have
rheumatism? I thought John Temple had a controlling interest in all the
rheumatism around here."
"It gets me in the arm," said Connover.
"So? That's too bad. May I lift these books off the chair, Connie?"
"Surely--sit down. Just push them on the floor."
"Regular Carnegie Library, eh? What are they all about, Con?"
Connover quite welcomed the interruption for Mr. Ellsworth's offhand
cordiality was nothing less than contagious. He fell immediately and
completely into the spirit of whatever was on the boards.
"'Bout the Boy Scouts."
"No--really?" said Mr. Ellsworth, running through one of the volumes
amusedly. "Who's this fellow, Dan Dreadnought?"
"He's lieutenant of the Eureka Patrol."
"So? I thought maybe he was a battleship from his name. And what does
Dan do to pass the time?"
"This one I'm reading now," said Connover, "is the Eureka Patrol in
the Fiji Islands; Dan stabs two natives."
"Get out! Does he really?"
"And the captain of the squad--"
"Of Boy Scouts-the captain is taken prisoner by the cannibals--"
"You don't say! How many of these books are there, Connie?"
"Twenty-seven--all one series."
"Well, Dan's some boy, isn't he? How would you like to be a scout,
"My mother wouldn't let me have a musket."
"They all have muskets, do they?"
At this point Mrs. Bennett appeared and greeted the scoutmaster
cordially. She could never find it in her heart to dislike Mr.
"How'd do, Mrs. Bennett."
"Good morning, Mr. Ellsworth," she said, and added smilingly, "I hope
you are not trying to contaminate Connover again."
"Me? Oh, dear, no! A fellow who can witness the murder of two innocent
South Sea natives isn't in much danger from me!"
But Mrs. Bennett failed to see the point.
"I tell Connover," said Mrs. Bennett, "that if it must be'scouts' and
'wild west' it is better in the books than in real life."
"Well, that's a matter of taste, Mrs. Bennett. You can have Dan What's-
his-name up here, if you want to, but I wouldn't allow him near my
camp. No siree!"
"Yet he's a scout boy," said Mrs. Bennett triumphantly.
"From all I can see he's a silly blackguard. Why, Mrs. Bennett," added
the scoutmaster pleasantly, "you've hit the wrong trail--"
"Hit the wrong trail. We don't have 'Eureka' Patrols or captains or
lieutenants or squads or muskets. This book has got no more to do with
real scouting than it has with a Sunday School picnic. I tell you what,
Mrs. Bennett, I just came up out of the woods, and I tell you it's a
shame that good trees should be cut down to get wood-pulp to make paper
on which to print such stuff as this! It's a waste of good trees!"
"I have always done everything for Connover--" began Mrs. Bennett.
"Well, do one thing more for him and let him come and join the scouts-the
real scouts. That's what I wanted to see you about. I'm going to
work up a new patrol, the Elks. Like that name, Connie?"
"And I want Connie in the Elks."
"It's quite out of the question, Mr. Ellsworth. I am willing that he
should read about them, but there it must end. We have always done
everything for Connover. I have never stinted him in the matter of
wholesome pleasure of any kind."
"You don't call murder wholesome pleasure, do you?"
"Here he is under my eye. There is no use arguing the matter. I have no
thought but of Connie's welfare and happiness, but I am not willing
that he should dress up like Mrs. Blakeley's boy--a perfect
sight--his clothes redolent of smoke-and play with fire
and sleep in a draught."
[Illustration: MRS. TEMPLE WAS TOO WEAK TO WALK AND THE BOYS IMPROVISED
A LITTER FOR HER.]
"There aren't any draughts outdoors, Mrs. Bennett."
"There's the damp air. Oh, it's quite out of the question!"
"Don't you think those O'Connor boys would be better out here?"
"I think a boy is better in his home, where his mother is. I have done
everything for Connover--everything, and he is ready to do this much
for me. Aren't you, dearie?"
As Mr. Ellsworth walked back to camp through the silent woods, he was
puzzled at the reasoning of the fond mother who thought that Dan
Dreadnought was a better companion for her son than Roy Blakeley.
On one of their morning rambles, Mrs. Temple and Mary wandered to an
unusual distance from home, and as the sun mounted higher Mrs. Temple
felt greatly fatigued. Mary looked about for a spot where her mother
might sit down and rest, but was startled by a slight sound and ran
back just as Mrs. Temple sank fainting against a tree.
Greatly frightened, the girl looked wildly around for assistance, but
there was no house nor sign of life in sight. Not knowing what to do
she ran along the road a little way, calling aloud, when suddenly she
heard a sound. Pausing to listen she distinctly heard again what
sounded like a bugle call, and turning in the direction from which it
seemed to come she ran through the woods until she came, breathless, to
the camp of the Bridgeboro Scouts.
It happened that the Silver Foxes were that morning practising in first
aid, and as soon as Mr. Ellsworth could gather from the frightened girl
that her mother was in real need, he rushed "Doc" Carson, the first-aid
boy, and Roy off to the rescue, instructing the other members of the
patrol to follow scout pace.
Water was brought and Mrs. Temple quickly revived. Her head had been
slightly cut as she fell, and this Carson bandaged skilfully. She was
still too weak to walk, however, and the boys improvised a litter in
which she was carefully borne back to camp, Mary walking at her side.
The Ravens, meanwhile, under Mr. Ellsworth's direction, had prepared a
sort of couch of fir boughs. Onto this they helped Mrs. Temple and the
scoutmaster sat down beside her.
Perhaps it was not entirely by chance that he had instructed the two
patrols to go through their signalling maneuvers at a little distance,
so that they should not disturb the invalid, but yet in full view and
near enough so that she might follow the course of the proceedings if
she cared to. Mary had a thousand questions to ask as to the meaning of
the various signals, and the kind scoutmaster answered them all
patiently, finally summoning Eddie Ingram to show her about the camp
and explain all its mysteries. Then, seeing that Mrs. Temple showed
some interest in the maneuvers, the guileful Mr. Ellsworth proceeded to
explain their practical value and the good uses to which the scout
"stunts" were often put, tactfully pointing out the change that had
taken place in Tom Slade, who at this moment was bashfully showing Mary
how to blow whistle signals on a small bottle.
Mrs. Temple, however, showed but a courteous interest, and feeling that
her husband would be alarmed at her long absence she called to Mary and
insisted upon returning home immediately, despite Mr. Ellsworth's
urgent invitation that she stay and share the scouts' luncheon.
The Silver Fox patrol was ordered to escort the ladies home, and with
this ample bodyguard they returned to Five Oaks, the boys laughingly
contesting for the honor of walking with Miss Mary--all save Tom, who
lingered somewhat shamefacedly in the rear.
As they walked up the gravel path through the spacious lawn, it was
evident that something was wrong. One of the servants was in the
portecochere, wringing her hands, and the stoical Japanese valet
stood near her, calm and unsmiling.
The unusual sight of the uniformed scouts did not seem to ruffle him at
Carl, the gardener, was craning his neck to look up and down the road
from the window of the library, a room which he would never have dared
to enter save on a very urgent matter.
"Where is Mr. Temple?" Mrs. Temple asked. "I have had quite an
"Yes'm--he went after you, ma'am--with the runabout. He thought you was
lost and he took on so--not knowing which way to go at all--and he
sent James the other way to look for you--an' there was burglars--"
"There was someone entered the house an' has gone away an' all Miss
Mary's things out of her bureau is all over the bed--"
The story of the afternoon's events was quickly extracted from the
excited servant, prompted by Carl and the Jap. Mr. Temple, having grown
anxious about the prolonged absence of his wife and daughter, had
started out in the runabout in quest of them. The butler had been sent
in another direction and shortly thereafter one of the maids had heard
footsteps on the floor above. Thinking that Mrs. Temple must have
returned, she went upstairs when, to her terror, a frightful-looking
man brushed past her and went down the back stairs. She had screamed,
and Carl and Kio had both come to her, but a search of the house and
grounds had not discovered the burglar. The screen in the pantry window
was ripped away, and Kio volunteered the suggestion that the "honorable
burglar gentleman" had made his exit through it.
A systematic search of all the rooms by Mrs. Temple and the patrol
revealed no loss or evidence of ransacking except that in Mary's room
the contents of the top bureau drawer were disheveled and some trinkets
and an upset box lay upon the bed.
"It looked as if they were interrupted," said Roy.
"They took my class pin," said Mary, running over the things. "Oh,
isn't that a shame! I don't care what else they took--that's the only
thing I care about! Oh, I think they were too mean for anything! It was
my class pin!" She was crying a little.
"It wasn't worth very much, dear," said her mother.
"It isn't that," said the girl; "you don't understand. I thought as
much of it as you boys do of those badges."
"I understand," said Westy.
"Sure, we understand--don't we, Tom?" said Roy.
Tom said nothing his eyes were fixed on the girlish trinkets which lay
in confusion on the bed.
"I think it was too mean of them," Mary said.
"I'd ask papa to give them my ruby out of his safe if they'd only bring
"Where did Tom go?" asked Westy, noticing that Tom had left the room.
"I guess maybe he's afraid he might meet Mr. Temple," whispered Dorry
Benton. "I don't believe he wants to see him, and I don't blame him."
Tom had gone downstairs and around the house to the pantry window.
Nothing was farther from his thoughts than John Temple, but in those
few minutes upstairs something had been said which recalled to his mind
something else which had been said in the same half-doubtful, half-trustful
voice, many weeks before. "Will you promise to toss it back?"
And out of the past he heard a rough, sneering voice answer, "Sure,
didn' I tell yer?" The words, "If they'd only bring that back,"
seemed almost to counter-felt that haunting voice out of the past, and
they stung Tom Slade like a white-hot coal.
The rubber ball, which had been the subject of the half-pleading
question, had gone the way of most rubber balls, and the memory of the
episode would have gone the way of all such memories in the hoodlum
mind, except that something had happened to Tom Slade since then. He
was familiar now with Paragraph I, Scout Law, and was presently to show
that he had pondered on other paragraphs of that law as well.
Outside the pantry window was a nail keg and on this Tom sat down. It
was in a jog formed by an angle in the back of the house, and there was
not much danger of being seen from any of the rear ground floor
windows, for these were all of heavy cathedral glass. The ground
beneath them was littered with nails and shavings; a scrap or two of
colored glass and some little bars of lead lay strewn about where the
men had been working.
Presently he heard voices and guessed that his companions were leaving.
Then he heard the honk of an auto horn and caught a fleeting glimpse of
a gray car rolling up the private way toward the porte-cochere.
He heard other voices, the excited greetings of Mrs. Temple and Mary,
and the sonorous and authoritative tones of John Temple.
For a moment he forgot what he had come out here for, as he realized
that it would be difficult to leave without being seen. His hatred of
John Temple had modified somewhat since he had become a scout, and had
now given place to a feeling of awe for the man who could own a place
of such magnificence as Five Oaks. Never before had Tom been in such a
house. He had supposed that Roy's beautiful home was about the most
luxurious abode imaginable. He realized now that he was stranded in
this despotic kingdom with "No Trespassing" signs all about glaring at
him like sentinels.
Tom had acquired many of the scout virtues and his progress in the arts
(save in one or two which he could not master) had been exceptional.
But he had still to acquire that self-confidence and self-possession
which are the invariable result of good breeding. He had not felt at
home in the house and though his conscience was perfectly clear, he was
ill at ease now.
Presently he heard voices again; he saw the car leave with the
chauffeur alone, and heard the smothered ringing of the telephone bell
in the house.
These evidences of the power of wealth hit his boyish imagination hard,
and for a minute John Temple seemed like a hero. He could despatch a
car to Bridgeboro, another to Keensburgh; he could call up every police
station in the state and offer rewards which would cause sheriffs and
constables to sit up and take notice. He could pay ten thousand dollars
for the capture of the man who had stolen that little class pin. John
Temple might be an old grouch, but he was a wonderful man!
Then the words came rushing into Tom's head again, Will you promise
to toss it back? and those other words, If they would only bring
Then he remembered what he had come out here for, and it seemed very
silly and futile alongside the approved methods which were being
followed within. While he knew the Scout Handbook did not lie, just the
same he hesitated to give this deducing and tracking business a
practical test. Then, suddenly, there came to his mind the words Mr.
Ellsworth was so fond of repeating to the troop, He who has eyes to
see, let him see.
TOM TURNS DETECTIVE
As Tom rose he saw that the fresh paint on the pantry window ledge had
been smeared. Then he looked at the ground. Below the window was a long
smooth mark on the soil. "The fellow had jumped from that window," said
he, "slid when he touched the groun'." He stopped, but not to pick up a
rock. Then he went down on his hands and knees, with never a thought of
those treasured khaki trousers, and while the telephone bell rang and
rang again in the house he read the writing which is written all over
the vast, open page of nature for those who have eyes and know how to
He was very much engrossed now; he forgot everything. He was a scout of
the scouts, and he screwed up his face and studied the ground as a
scholar pores over his books.
"Huh," said he, "his shoes need soling, that's one sure thing."
He examined with care a little thin crooked indentation in the soil, as
if a petrified angleworm had been pushed into the hard earth.
"Huh," said he, "I hope he kicked into it hard enough so it stays
He was satisfied that the fugitive's shoe was worn in the sole so that
the outer layer, worn thin and flopping loose, had slid onto one of the
little malleable leaden bars used in the cathedral-glass windows. This
had evidently pushed its way into the tattered sole, bent a little from
the impact, and lodged securely. Either the fugitive did not feel it,
or did not care to pause and remove it. It made a mark as plain as
Tom's patrol sign.
He cast one apprehensive look at the open windows of the upper floor
and, taking a chance, made a bold dash across the rear lawn, where he
thought he could discern footprints in the newly-sprouting grass.
Several hundred feet away was the boundary fence and here the
correctness of his direction was confirmed by a painty smooch on the
top rail where the fugitive had climbed over.
Tom leaped across the fence and, as usual, after any vigorous move, he
felt instinctively to see if his precious five-dollar bill was safe. He
lived in continual dread of losing it. He paused a minute scrutinizing
the small crooked marks left by the leaden bar. Then he thought of
something which added fresh zest to his thus far successful search. It
was provision four of the Second Class Scout tests:
Track half a mile in twenty-five minutes, or,...
"If I do that," said he, looking at his dollar watch, "it'll land me in
the Second Class with a rush, and if I should get the pin for her that
would knock the Commissioner off his feet, all right. Here's my
tracking stunt mapped out for me. I never claimed I could cook. Oh,
cracky, here's my chance!"
He got the word "Cracky" from Roy.
As he turned and cast a last look toward the house someone (a woman, he
thought) seemed to be waving her arm from one of the upper casements.
He could not make up his mind whether she was beckoning to him or only
scrubbing the window. Then he entered the woods where the ground was
sparsely covered with pine-needles.
He had to stoop and search for the guiding mark and there were places
where for thirty or forty feet at a stretch it was not visible, but the
tumbled appearance of the pine-needle carpet showed where someone had
recently passed. Then the marks took him into a beaten way and he
jogged along with hope mounting high.
He had tracked for more than twenty-five minutes and a very skillful
tracking it had been, entirely independent of its possible result. So
far as the tracking requirement was concerned he had fulfilled that in
good measure, and the possible danger in connection with it would
commend it strongly to the Scout Commissioner. Moreover, the deductive
work which preceded the tracking and the chivalrous motive would surely
make up for any lack in first aid and cooking. "One thing has to make
up for another," he thought, recalling Mr. Ellsworth's words.
He was breathing hard, partly from a nervous fear as to what he should
do if he succeeded in overtaking the robber, and his little celluloid
membership booklet with the precious bill in it, flapped against his
chest as he hurried on. "I'll be in the Second Class before Pee-wee,"
Suddenly he came to a dead stop as he saw a figure sitting against the
trunk of a tree a couple of hundred feet away. The tree trunk was
between himself and the man and about all he could see was two knees
Now was the time for discretion. Tom was a husky enough boy; he seemed
much larger since he had acquired the scout habit of standing straight,
but he was not armed and he felt certain that the stranger was.
"I wish I had Roy's moccasins," he thought.
He retreated behind a tree himself and quietly removed his shoes. The
position of the stranger was favorable for a stealthy approach and Tom
advanced cautiously. A flask lay beside the man and he was just taking
a measure of encouragement in the prospect of the man's being asleep
when the drawn-up knees went down with a sudden start and the figure
rose spasmodically, reeled slightly and clutched the tree.
Tom stepped back a pace, staring, for it was the face of Bill Slade
which was leering, half stupidly, at him.
"Stay--stay where you are," said Tom, his voice tense with fear and
astonishment, as his father made a step toward him. "I--I tracked you-stay
where you are--I--didn' know who I wuz trackin'--I didn'. Don't
you come no nearer. I--I wouldn' do yer no hurt--I wouldn'."
It was curious how in his dismay and agitation he fell into the old
hoodlum phraseology and spoke to his father just as he used to do when
the greasy, rickety dining-table was between them.
The elder Slade was a pathetic spectacle. He had gone down quite as
fast as his son had gone up. He leered at the boy with red and heavy
eyes out of a face which had not been shaved in many a day. His cheek
bones protruded conspicuously. The coat which at the time of Mrs.
Slade's funeral had been black and which Tom remembered as a sort of
grayish brown, was now the color of newly rusted iron. His shoe, which
had turned traitor to him and whispered the direction of his flight to
the trailing scout, was tied with a piece of cord. He was thin, even
emaciated, and there was a little twitch in his eye which grotesquely
counterfeited a wink, and which jarred Tom strangely. He did not know
whether it was his lately-acquired habit of observation which made him
notice this or whether it was a new warning from Mother Nature to his
father. But Tom was not afraid of a man whose eye twitched like that.
He stood as firm as Roy Blakeley had stood that night of his first
meeting with him. That is what it means to be a scout for two months.
"Yer--a--a one o' them soldier lads, hey, Tommy?" said his father
"You stay there," said Tom. "Yer seen what I d-did ter de marshal. I'm
stronger now than I wuz then, but I'm--I'm gon'er be loyal."
"Yer one o' them soldier fellers, hey?"
"I'm a scout of the Second Class," said Tom with a tremor in his voice:
"or I would be if 'twasn't for you. I--I can't tell 'em the trackin' I
done now. I gotter obey the law."
"Yer wouldn' squeal on yer father, would yer, Tommy?" said Slade,
advancing with a suggestion of menace. "I wouldn' want ter choke yer."
Tom received this half-sneeringly, half-pityingly. He felt that he
could have stuck out his finger and pushed his father over with it, so
strong was he.
"Gimme the pin yer took," he said. "I don't care about nothin' else-but
gimme the pin yer took."
"What pin?" grumbled Slade.
"You know what pin."
"Yer think I'd steal?" his father menaced.
"I know yer did an' I want that pin."
For a minute the elder Slade glared at his son with a look of fury. He
made a start toward him and Tom stood just as Roy had stood, without a
"Yer'd call me a thief, would yer--yer--"
"I was as bad myself once," said Tom, pitying him. "I swiped her ball.
Gimme the pin."
"'Taint wuth nothin'," he said.
Slade made an exploration of his pockets as if he could not imagine
where such a thing could be. Then he looked at Tom as if reconsidering
the wisdom of an assault; then off through the woods as if to determine
the chance for a quick "get away."
"Yer wouldn' tell nobuddy yer met me," he whined.
"No, I'll never tell--gimme the pin."
"I didn' hev nothin' to eat fer two days, Tommy, an' I've got me cramps
The same old cramps which had furnished the excuse for many an idle
day! Tom knew those cramps too well to be affected by them, but he saw,
too, that his father was a spent man; and he thought of what Mr.
Ellsworth had said, "There wasn't any First Bridgeboro Troop when he
was a boy, Tom."
"I wouldn' never tell I seen yer," he said. "I wouldn' never-ever
tell. It's my blame that we wuz put out o' Barrel Alley. It
was you--it was you took me--to the--circus."
He remembered that one happy afternoon which he had once, long ago,
enjoyed at his father's hands.
"An' I know yer wuz hungry or you wouldn' go in there in the daytime-'cause
you'd be a fool to do it. I'm not cryin' 'cause I'm--a-scared--I
don't get scared so easy--now."
Fumbling at his brown scout shirt he brought forth on its string the
folding membership card of the Boy Scouts of America, attached to which
was Tom's precious crisp five-dollar bill in a little bag.
"Gimme the pin," said he. "Yer kin say yer sold it fer five dollars-like,"
"Is this it?" asked Slade, bringing it forth as if by accident, and
knowing perfectly well that it was.
"Here," said Tom, handing him the bill. "It ain't only becuz yer give
me the pin, but becuz yer hungry and becuz--yer took me ter the
It was strange how that one thing his father had done for him kept
recurring to the boy now.
"Yer better get away," he warned. "Old John sent automobiles out and
telephoned a lot. Don't--don't lose it," he added, realizing the large
amount of the money. "If yer tied it 'round yer neck it 'ud be safer."
He stood just where he was as his father reeled away, watching him a
little wistfully and doubtful as to whether he was sufficiently
impressed with the sum he was carrying to be careful of it.
"It 'ud be safer if you tied it 'round yer neck," he repeated as his
father passed among the trees with that sideways gait and half-limp
which bespeaks a prideless and broken character.
"I'll never tell 'em of the tracking I do--did," he said, "so I won't
pass on that; but even if I did I couldn't pass, 'cause I haven't got
the money to put in the bank--now."
He had lost his great fortune and his cherished dream in one fell
And this was the triumph of his tracking
Tom Slade had not the moral courage to crown his splendid triumph by
going straightway and giving the pin to Mary Temple. He could not
overcome his fear of John Temple and the awe of the palatial residence.
You see, he had not the legacy of refined breeding to draw upon. The
Scout movement had taken a big contract in the making of Tom Slade, but
Mr. Ellsworth (good sport that he was) was never daunted. Tom did not
know how to go alone up to the luxurious veranda at Five Oaks, ring the
bell, face that stoical Japanese, ask to see the pretty, beautifullydressed
girl, and restore her pin to her. He could have done it without
revealing the identity of the fugitive, but he did not know how to do
it; he would not ask Roy to come to his assistance, and he missed the
best fruits of his triumph.
So he went back to camp (scout pace, for it was getting late), his
empty membership booklet flapping against his chest as he ran.
It was fortunate for his disturbed and rather sullen state of mind that
an unusual diversion was on the boards at camp. The Ravens' tent was
quite deserted; Mr. Ellsworth was in his own tent, busily writing, and
he called out cordially, "Hello, Tommy," as Tom passed on to the Silver
Within Roy was standing on a box holding forth to the entire patrol,
and he was in that mood which never failed to fascinate Tom.
"Sit down; you get two slaps on the wrist for being late," said he.
This was the only reference he or any of them made to Tom's
disappearance at Five Oaks. A scout is tactful. "I don't see any
seat," Tom said.
"Get up and give Tom a seat," ordered Roy.
"I wouldn't get up and give President Wilson a seat," announced
"Not me," laughed Dorry Benton, "I stalked for six miles to-day."
"Get up and give Mr. Thomas Slade a seat, somebody," shouted Roy.
"Keep still, you'll wake the baby," said Westy.
"You wouldn't catch me getting up to give George Washington a seat,"
said Bert Collins, "not after that hike."
"I'll make them get up," said Roy, fumbling in his pocket.
"Yes, you will--not," said Westy.
"Look at Eddie, he's half asleep," said Dorry.
"Wake up, Ed," shouted Roy. "It's time to take your sleeping powder.
"I wouldn't get up if you set a firecracker off under me, that's how
tired I am," mumbled Eddie.
"I'll make them get up," Roy whispered, winking at Tom.
He pulled out his trusty harmonica and began to play the national air.
Tom could not help laughing to see how they all rose.
"Now's your chance, sit down, Tom," said Roy. "The Pied Piper of
What's-his-name hasn't got anything on me! The object of the puzzle,
ladies and gentlemen," he continued.
"Go to it. You're doing fine!"
"The object of the puzzle," said Roy, rolling up his sleeves as if he
intended to do the puzzle then and there, "the object of the puzzle is
to get inside the Ravens' tent without entering it. Will some gentleman
in the audience kindly loan me a high hat and a ten-dollar gold piece?
No? Evidently no gentleman in the audience."
"Cut it out," said Westy. "They'll be back in an hour. What are we
going to do?"
"We are not going to do anything until the silent hour of midnight,"
said Roy. "Then we are going to make reprisals."
"How do you make those?" called Westy.
"That's some word, all right," said Ed.
"I tracked that all the way through the Standard Dictionary," said Roy.
"How about Mr. Ellsworth?"
"He has announced his policy of strict neutrality," said Roy. "The
field is ours! The obnoxious post-card will be ours if you, brave
scouts, will do your part! For one month now has that obnoxious post-card
hung in the Ravens' tent. For one month has Pee-wee Harris smiled
his smile and gone unshaved--I mean unscathed. Shall this go on?"
"Shall it be said that the Silver Foxes are not Sterling silver but
only German silver?"
"Shall the silver of the Silver Foxes be tarnished by that slanderous
"They have called us the 'Follow Afters'--they have said that we are
nothing but 'Silver Polish'"!
"We'll rub it into them," shouted Westy.
"They have taken cowardly refuge in the troop rule that no Silver Fox
shall enter their tent except on invitation, and this insertion--"
"You mean aspersion."
"Glares forth from the upright of their sordid lair--"
"'Sordid lair' is good!"
"No extra charge," said Roy; "until now the worm has turned. If we
cannot enter their tent then we must take down their tent, remove the
card, and put the tent up again."
"Oh, joy!" said Ed.
"And it must not be done sneakingly in their absence, but to the soft
music of their snoring. The enterprise is beset with many dangers.
Those who are not willing to venture (as What-do-you-call-him said when
he stormed Fort Something-or-other) may stay behind!"
Before camp-fire yarns, an elaborate card was prepared in the privacy
of the Silver Foxes' tent in Roy's characteristically glaring style, on
which appeared the single word, STUNG!
The night for this bold deed had been well chosen. The Ravens had been
stalking all day and at camp fire Tom listened wistfully to the account
of the day's most notable stunt which was Pee-wee's tracking of a
muskrat more than half a mile within the required twenty-five minutes
of the Second Class provision.
"Pee-wee'll be the first to jump out of the Tenderfoot Class this
summer," said Mr. Ellsworth, as he poked the crackling fire. "You
Silver Foxes will have to get busy." He looked pleasantly at Tom. "Hey,
"I was wondering," said Roy, as he stretched himself on the ground
close to the cheerful blaze, "if we couldn't work in something special
for next Wednesday--it's troop birthday. We'll be two years old."
"That's right, so it is," said Artie Van Arlen, Raven. "I'm a charter
member; the Silver Foxes weren't even heard of or thought of at that
"No, they're a lot of upstarts," said Doc. Carson, the first-aid boy.
"You'd think to hear them talk that they started before National
Headquarters did. I remember when this troop was a one-ring circus:
just us Ravens, and we had some good times too. I had my first-aid
badge before those triple-plated Silver Foxes were born!"
"They have no traditions," said the Ravens' patrol leader.
"They're an up-to-date patrol, though," said Roy. "The Ravens are
passe--like the old Handbook. That kind of patrol was all right when
the thing first started; the Silver Foxes are a last year's model."
"Well," laughed Mr. Ellsworth, raking up the fire and drawing his
grocery-box seat closer, "maybe the Silver Foxes will be ancient
history soon. I'm thinking of a new pack of upstarts for you foxes to
make fun of."
"You haven't made another flank move on Connie Bennett, have you?"
laughed Roy. They were all familiar with Mr. Ellsworth's dream of
"Connie rests his head on a pine cushion and imagines he's a Boy
Scout," said Artie.
"He blows the dust off a Dan Dreadnought book and imagines it's
the wind howling through the forest," said Westy.
"He runs the tennis-marker over the lawn and thinks he's tracking,"
"No, not as bad as that, boys," laughed the scoutmaster. "Between you
and me and the camp fire, I suspect Connie's got the bug."
"Haven't given up hope yet?" said Roy.
"Never say die," answered Mr. Ellsworth, good-naturedly.
Once, twice, thrice had he made a daring assault on the Bennett
stronghold and once, twice, thrice had he been gallantly repulsed by
the Bennett right wing, which was Mrs. Bennett. He had planted the
Bennett veranda with mines in the form of Boys' Life and
Scouting, but all to no avail. Yet his hopeful spirit in regard
to the visionary Elk Patrol was almost pathetic.
The tent of the venerable Raven patrol was pitched under a spreading
tree and they retired with their proud and ancient traditions,
blissfully unaware of the startling liberty which was to be taken with
their historic dignity by those upstart Silver Foxes. Mr. Ellsworth,
with a commendable application of his policy of strict neutrality,
retired to his own tent to dream of the new patrol.
Never in the history of the troop had a Silver Fox trespassed unknown
into the ancient privacy of the Ravens, and never had a Raven
condescended to enter the Silver Fox stronghold save honorably and by
invitation. They knew the Silver Foxes for a sportive crew pervaded by
the inventive spirit of Roy Blakeley, but they had no fear of any
violation of scout honor and the obnoxious card hung ostentatiously on
the central upright of their tent.
In the still hour of midnight the enterprising Silver Foxes emerged in
spectral silence from their lair and the battle-cry (or rather,
whisper) was "Revenge," pronounced by Roy as if it had a dozen rattling
R's at the beginning of it. Every boy was keyed to the highest pitch of
The Ravens' tent was a makeshift affair of their own manufacture and
when its sides were not up it was more of a pavilion than a tent: the
Ravens believed in fresh air. There were two forked uprights and across
these was laid the ridgepole. The canvas was spread over this and drawn
diagonally toward the ground on either side. There were front and back
and sides for stormy weather but they were seldom in requisition.
The program, discussed and settled beforehand, was carried out in scout
silence, which is about thirty-three and one-third per cent greater
than the regular market silence. Tom and Eddie Ingram, being the
tallest of the foxes, stationed themselves at either upright, the other
members of the patrol lining up along the sides where they loosened the
ropes from the pegs. Then Tom and Ed lifted the ridgepole, the scouts
along the sides held the canvas high, and the entire patrol moved
uniformly and in absolute silence. The tent, intact, was moved from
over the sleeping Ravens as the magic carpet of the Arabian
Nights was moved. It was a very neat little piece of work and
showed with what precision the patrol could act in concert. Thanks
partly to their strenuous day of stalking, never a Raven stirred except
Doc. Carson, who startled them by turning over.
In the centre of the Ravens' tent a sapling had been planted, its
branches cut away to within several inches of its trunk, so that it
made a very passable clothes-tree. This still stood, like a ghostly
sentinel, among the slumbering Ravens, laden with their clothes and
paraphernalia. The sudden and radical transformation of the scene was
quite grotesque and the unsheltered household gods of the Ravens looked
ludicrous enough as they lay about in homelike disposition with nothing
above them but the stars.
"Great!" whispered Roy, gleefully.
Eddie Ingram laid his end of the ridgepole on the ground and stealing
cautiously over among the sleeping Ravens, removed the post card from
the sapling and put the other card in its place. Then, stealing back to
where the others were waiting, he resumed his end of the pole. This was
restored to its place in the forked uprights, the ropes were fastened
to the pegs along either side and the Silver Foxes bore Esther
Blakeley's memento of their own disgrace triumphantly to their
"Can you beat it?" said Roy, releasing himself with a sense of
refreshment from the imposition of silence.
"A scout is stealthy," remarked Westy.
In the morning Pee-wee sauntered over and paused outside the Silver
Foxes' tent, not saying a word, though.
"Well," said Roy, "what can we do for you?"
"I see you've got the card," said Pee-wee.
"Yes," said Westy, pulling on his blouse. "We're going to frame it and
send it to National Headquarters, too, for an exhibition of scout
stealth and silence."
"I suppose you think we walked in and took it," said Roy, adjusting his
belt. "We didn't. We never entered your tent. A scout is honorable."
"No," said Pee-wee, "you took the tent down and put it up wrong end to.
A scout is observant. Are we going fishing to-day?"
"UP AGAINST IT FOR FAIR"
When the telegraph and the telephone and the speeding autos and the
bullying of the hapless village constable failed to reveal any clue to
the burglar at Five Oaks, John Temple proceeded to pooh-pooh the whole
business and say that there had never been any burglar, but that in all
probability the maid had been exploring Mary's trinkets just as Mrs.
Temple returned and that the "frightful-looking man" whom she had met
on the stairs was a myth.
It was then that the maid, groping for any straw in her extremity, said
that a boy in khaki had darted out from the pantry and across the
private rear lawn into the woods beyond while she stood at the window.
If she had stuck to the plain truth and not permitted Mr. Temple to
beat her down as to the man she actually did see on the stairs, a great
deal of suffering might have been saved. But the loss of only one
trinket, and that one of small intrinsic value, seemed to lend color to
the theory that it was the work of a boy rather than of a professional
adult burglar, and the master of Five Oaks, thinking this matter worth
inquiring into, called up the constable and laid the thing before him
in this new light.
Mr. John Temple had no particular grudge against the Boy Scouts. He was
a rational, hard-headed business man, decisive and practical and
without much imagination. His lack of imagination was, indeed, his main
trouble. He was not silly enough and he was extremely too busy to bear
any active malice toward an organization having to do with boys, and
except when the scouts were mentioned to him he never gave them a
thought one way or the other. He was not the archenemy of the movement
(as some of the boys themselves thought): he simply had no use for it.
So far as the scout idea had been explained to him by the Bridgeboro
Local Council (to whom he had granted five minutes of his time) he
thought it consisted of a sort of poetical theory and that money put
into it was simply thrown away. He believed, and he told the Council
so, that ample provision had been made for boys in the form of circuses
and movie plays and baseball games for good ones and reformatories and
prisons for bad ones, and he referred, as the successful man is so apt
to do, to his own poor boyhood and how he had attended to business and
done what was right and so on, and so on, and so on.
Nor had this king of finance cherished any particular resentment toward
the poor creature who had thrown a stone at him. John Temple was a big
man and he was not petty, but he was intensely practical, and he had no
patience with Mr. Ellsworth's notions for the making of good citizens.
He had known two generations of Slades; he had never known any of them
to amount to anything, and he believed that the proper place for a
hoodlum and a truant and an orphan was in an institution. He paid his
taxes for the support of these institutions regularly and he believed
they ought to be used for what they were intended for. He thought it
was little less than criminal that the son of Bill Slade should be
wandering over the face of the earth when he might be legally placed in
a dormitory, eating his three meals a day in a white-washed corridor.
For Mr. Ellsworth, John Temple had only contempt. He looked down upon
him as the man without imagination always looks down upon the man with
imagination. Meanwhile the new subtle spirit was working in Tom Slade
and the capitalist had neither the time nor the interest to stoop and
watch the wonderful transformation which was going on.
He was not prompted by any feeling of spite or resentment toward Tom
and the scouts when he told the constable about "young Slade." He
believed that he was acting wisely and even in Tom's best interests,
and it was in vain that his young daughter tried to pull him away from
the telephone. Mrs. Temple weepingly implored him to remember the
hospitality and the courtesy which she and Mary had just enjoyed at the
hands of the scouts, but it was of no use. If no one had mentioned Tom
he would never have thought of him, but since Mary had mentioned him he
believed it was a good time to have Mr. Ellsworth's experiment with Tom
looked into before "all the houses in the neighborhood were robbed." He
did not mean that, of course; it was simply his way of talking.
It was the second morning after the Silver Foxes' proud recovery of
Esther Blakeley's card that a loose-jointed personage from Salmon River
Village sauntered into camp, his face screwed up as if he were studying
the sun, and surveyed the camp with that frank and leisurely scrutiny
which bespeaks the "Rube." Concealed beneath his coat he wore a badge
which he had fished out of an unused cooky-jar just before starting,
and it swelled his rural pride to feel the weight of it on his
"Wha'ose boss here?" he asked Pee-wee, who was about his customary duty
of spearing loose papers with a pointed stick.
"No boss," said Pee-wee.
"Wha'ose runnin' the shebang?"
Pee-wee pointed to Mr. Ellsworth's little tent just inside which the
scoutmaster sat on an onion-crate stool, writing.
The official personage sauntered over, watched by several boys, paused
to inspect the wireless apparatus in its little leanto. His inquisitive
manner was rather jarring. By the time he reached Mr. Ellsworth's tent
a little group had formed about him.
"Ya'ou the boss here?"
"Good-morning," said Mr. Ellsworth.
"Ya'ou the boss?"
"No; the boys are boss; anything we can do for you?"
The stranger looked about curiously. "Got permission t' camp here, I
"There's the owner of the property," said Mr. Ellsworth, laughingly,
"Hmmm; ye got a young feller here by th' name o' Slade?"
"That's what we have," said the scoutmaster with his usual breezy
"Well, I reckon I'll hev ter see him."
"Certainly; what for?" Mr. Ellsworth asked rather more interested.
"He's got hisself into a leetle mite o' trouble," the stranger drawled;
"leastways, mebbe he has." He seemed to enjoy being mysterious.
So Tom was called. Roy came with him, and all who were in camp at the
moment clustered about the scoutmaster's tent. Mr. Ellsworth's manner
was one of perfect confidence in Tom and half-amusement at the
stranger's relish of his own authority.
"You don't wish to see him privately, I suppose?"
"Na-o--leastways not 'less he does. Seems you was trespassing araound
Five Oaks t'other day," he said to Tom in his exasperating drawl, and
with deliberate hesitation.
"Good heavens, man!" said Mr. Ellsworth, nettled. "You don't mean to
tell me this boy is charged with trespassing! Why, half a dozen of
these boys accompanied Mrs. Temple and her daughter home--they were
invited into the house." He looked at the stranger, half angry and half
amused. "Mrs. Temple and her daughter were our guests here. We might as
well say they were trespassing!"
"Leastways they din't take nuthin'."
"What do you mean by that?" said the scoutmaster, sharply.
"Ye know a pin was missin' thar?"
"Yes," said Mr. Ellsworth, impatiently.
"An' one o' these youngsters was seen sneakin'--"
"Oh, no," the scoutmaster jerked out; "we don't do any sneaking here.
Be careful how you talk. You are trespassing yourself, sir, if it comes
There was never a moment in the troop's history, not even in that
unpleasant scene in John Temple's vacant lot, when the boys so admired
their scoutmaster. His absolute confidence in every member of the troop
thrilled them with an incentive which no amount of discipline could
have inspired. It was plain to see that they felt this--all save Tom,
whose face was a puzzle.
He stood there among them, his belt pulled unnecessarily tight, after
the fashion of the boy who has always worn a suspender, the trim intent
of the scout regalia hardly showing to advantage on his rather clumsy
form. His puttees were never well adjusted; the khaki jacket (when he
wore it) had a perverse way of working up in back. He presented a
marked contrast to Roy's natty appearance and to Westy whose uniform
fitted him so perfectly that he seemed to have been poured into it as a
liquid into a mould. Both boys looked every inch a scout. Yet there
was something strangely distinctive about Tom as he stood there. A
discerning person might have fancied his uncouthness as part and parcel
of a certain rugged quality which could not be expressed in precise
attire. There was something ominous in the dogged, sullen look which
his countenance wore. He seemed a sort of law unto himself, having a
certain resource in himself and seeking now neither advice nor
assistance. He was no figure for the cover of the Scout Handbook, yet
he had drawn out of it its full measure of strength; he would accept no
one's interpretation of it but his own and thus he stood among them and
yet apart--as good a scout as ever raised his hand to take the oath.
"One o' these youngsters went daown stairs and raound the haouse t' th'
pantry 'n' he was seen to go without warrant of law crost Temple's lawn
and inter his private woods." The man had his little spats of legal
phraseology, of course, and Mr. Ellsworth could almost have murdered
him for his "without warrant of law."
"Any one of you boys go 'without warrant of law'?" asked the
scoutmaster, with an air of humorous disgust.
"I did," said Tom simply.
The scoutmaster looked at him in surprise.
"What for, Tom?"
There was a moment's silence.
"I've got nothing to say," said Tom.
Doc. Carson, who was of all things observant, noticed a set appearance
about Tom's jaw and a far-away look in his eyes as if he neither knew
nor cared about any of those present.
"I s'pose if we was to search ye we wouldn't find nothin' on ye t'
shouldn't be thar?"
"I am a scout of the sec--I am a scout," said Tom, impassively. "No one
will search me."
It would be hard to describe the look in Mr. Ellsworth's eyes as he
watched Tom. There was confidence, there was admiration, but withal an
almost pathetic look of apprehension and suspense. He studied Tom as a
pilot fixes his gaze intently upon a rocky shore. Tom did not look at
"Ye wouldn't relish bein' searched, I reckon?" the constable said with
an exasperating grin of triumph.
Then the thunderbolt fell. Calmly Tom reached down into his pocket and
brought forth the little class pin.
"I know what you want," he said. "I didn't know first off, but now I
know. You couldn't search me--I wouldn' leave--let you. I could handle
a marshal, and I'm stronger now than I was then. But you can't search
me; you can't disgrace my patrol by searchin' them--or by searchin' me
--'cause I wouldn't lea--let you. Get away from me!" with such
frantic suddenness that they started. "Don't you try to take it from
me! I'm a scout of--I'm a scout--mind! Where's Roy?"
"Tom," said Mr. Ellsworth, his voice tense with emotion.
"Where's Roy?" the boy asked, ignoring him.
Roy stepped forward as he had done once before when Tom was in trouble,
and they made an odd contrast. "Here, Tom."
"You take it an' give it to Mary Temple and tell her it's tossin' it
back--kind of. She'll know what I mean. You know how to go to places
like that--but they get me scared. Tell her it's instead of the rubber
ball, and that I sent it to her."
"Oh, Tom," said Mr. Ellsworth, his voice almost breaking, "is that all
you have to say--Tom?"
"I'm a scout--I'm obeyin' the law--that's all," said Tom, doggedly. He
seemed to be the only one of them all who was not affected, so sure did
he feel of himself.
"Do I have to get arrested?" said he.
"Ye-es, I reckon I'll hev to take ye 'long," said the constable,
Tom never flinched.
Roy tried to speak but could only say, "Tom--"
Mr. Ellsworth put his palm to his forehead and held it there a moment
as if his head throbbed.
"Can I have my book?" Tom asked as the constable, taking his arm, took
a step away.
It was Pee-wee who glided, scout pace, over to the Silver Foxes' tent.
In the unusual situation it never occurred to him that he, a Raven, was
entering it uninvited. Esther Blakeley's triumphant post card hung
there but he never noticed it. He brought the well-thumbed Handbook
with T. S. on it, and it was curious to see that he gave it to Roy
instead of to Tom.
But Tom noticed his bringing it. "I'm glad you did your tracking stunt,
Pee-wee," he said, with just a little quiver in his voice.
Roy handed him the book. Then, just as they started off, Mr. Ellsworth,
gathering himself together as one coming out of a trance, accosted the
"This boy was placed in my charge by the court in Bridgeboro," said he,
holding the man off.
"That don't make no difference," drawled the man. "I got a right to go
anywheres for a fugitive or a suspect. A guardian writ wouldn't be no
use to ye in a criminal charge." And he smiled as if he were perfectly
willing to explain the law for the benefit of the uninitiated.
Tom, clutching his Handbook, walked along at the man's side. He seemed
utterly indifferent to what was happening.
There were no camp-fire yarns that night.
HE WHO HAS EYES TO SEE
Mr. Ellsworth did not respond to the call for supper that evening and
Artie, who was cookee for the week, did not go to his tent a second
time. The two patrols ate at the long board under a big elm tree; Tom's
vacant place was conspicuous, but very little was said about the
affair. It was noticeable that the Ravens made no mention of it out of
respect to the other patrol.
After supper Roy went alone to Mr. Ellsworth's tent. There was a
certain freedom of intimacy between these two, partly, no doubt,
because Roy's father was on the Local Council. The scoutmaster had no
favorites and the close relation between himself and Roy was not
generally apparent in the troop. It was simply that Roy indulged in a
certain privilege of intercourse which Mr. Ellsworth's cordial
relations at the Blakeley home seemed to encourage, and I dare say
Roy's own buoyant and charmingly aggressive nature had a good deal to
do with it. He also (though in quite another way than Tom) seemed a law
Arranging himself with drawn up knees upon the scoutmaster's cot, he
began without any introduction.
"Did you notice, Chief" (he often called the scoutmaster chief) "how he
kept saying, 'I am a scout'?"
"Yes, I did," said Mr. Ellsworth, wearily. "It's the one ray of hope."
"Did you notice how he said he was obeying the law?"
"Yes, he did; I had forgotten that."
"His wanting the Handbook, too," said Mr. Ellsworth, quietly, "had a
certain ring to it."
"Did you ever take a squint at that Handbook of his, Chief?"
"No," said Mr. Ellsworth, smiling wanly; "I'm not as observant as you,
"He has simply worn it out--it's a sight."
"His mind is not complex," said Mr. Ellsworth, half-heartedly, "yet
he's a mystery."
"Everything is literal to Tom, Chief; he sees only two colors, black
There was another pause.
"Why don't you eat a little something, Chief?"
"No, not to-night, Roy. I can't. If that thing is true--if there's no
explanation, why, then my whole structure falls down; and John Temple
is right." His voice almost broke. "Tom is either no scout at all or
"Or else he's about the best scout that lives," interrupted Roy. "Will
you ever forget how he looked as he stood there? Hanged if I can! I've
seen pictures enough of scouts--waving flags and doing good turns and
holding staves and looking like trim little soldiers----"
"Like you, Roy," smiled Mr. Ellsworth.
"But I never saw anything like that! Did you notice his mouth? His----"
"I know," said Mr. Ellsworth, "he looked like a martyr."
"Whenever you see a picture of a scout," said Roy, "it always shows
what a scout can do with his hands and feet; he's tracking or
signalling or something like that. There was a picture that
shows the other side of it. You never see those pictures in the books.
Cracky, but I'd like to have gotten a snap-shot of him just as he stood
there with his mouth set like the jaws of a trap, his eyes ten miles
away and his hand clutching that battered old Handbook."
"I'm glad you dropped in, Roy, it cheers me up."
"Oh, I'm a good scout," laughed Roy. "I'm not thinking about you; I'm
selfish. I'm the one that hauled Tom across, you know, and I've got
my reputation to look after. That's all I care about."
Mr. Ellsworth smiled.
"I'm going to dig out the truth about this between now and to-morrow
morning. I may have to trespass even, but I should worry. What
are you going to do?"
"Nothing to-night. In the morning I'll see Mr. Temple and also Tom, and
see if I can't get him to talk. What else can I do? What are you
going to do?"
"I decline to be interviewed," Roy laughed.
"Well, don't you get into any trouble, Roy."
After the boy had gone, Mr. Ellsworth picked up his own copy of the
Handbook for Boys, and looked with a wistful smile at the
picturesque, natty youngster on the cover, holding the red flags. It
always reminded him of Roy.
Roy was satisfied that the only hope of learning anything was to visit
the scene of Tom's suspicious, or at least unexplained, departure from
the Temple house. About this he knew no more than what the constable
had said, but he firmly believed that whatever Tom had done and
wherever he had gone, it had been for a purpose. He did not believe
that Tom had taken the pin, but he felt certain that if he had
been tempted to, he (Roy) would have seen him do so. For a scout is not
only loyal, he is watchful. His confidence in Tom, no less than his
confidence in himself, made him morally certain that his friend was
innocent; and Tom's own demeanor at the time of his arrest made him
A little before dark, Roy put on his Indian moccasins, took his pocket
flashlight and a good stock of matches, and started for Five Oaks.
Reaching there, he made sure the veranda was deserted (for which fact
he had to thank the chill air) and found it easy to trace Tom's
footprints around to the back of the house through the almost bare
earth of the new lawn.
In the little recess by the pantry window he felt more secure. The play
of his flashlight quickly discovered the painty smear on the windowsill
and he examined it closely, as Tom had recently done, but Roy's
mental alertness saved him time and trouble. Instead of trying to pick
out footprints across the back lawn, he hurried across it, ran along to
the end of the fence, and then back again, closely watching the upper
rail by the aid of his light. Sure enough, there was a faint smootch of
paint and by this easy discovery he had saved himself several hundred
feet of difficult tracking. Better still, his own suspicions and the
servants' original story were confirmed.
Tom might have gone around the house, but someone else had climbed
through the pantry window.
For a while Roy and his trusty ally, the pocket flashlight, had a
pretty rough tussle of it with the secretive floor of pine-needles in
the woods beyond the fence; but Tom's own uncertain pauses and turnings
and kneelings helped him, and he was thankful that his predecessor had
left these signs of his own movements to guide him. For he now felt
certain that Tom had passed here in the wake of someone else.
It was a long time before he found himself in the beaten path, having
covered a distance of perhaps an eighth of a mile where his tracking
had been, as he later said himself, like hunting for a pin on a carpet
in the dark. He had been on his hands and knees most of the time,
shooting his light this way and that, moving the pine-needles carefully
away from some fancied indentation, with almost a watchmaker's delicacy
of touch. It was not so much tracking as it was the working out of a
puzzle, but it brought him at last into the path and then he found
something which rendered further tracking unnecessary. This was the
flask which had lain beside Tom's father.
And now Roy, with no human presence to distract him as Tom had had,
noticed something lying near the flask which Tom had not seen. This was
a little scrap of pasteboard which had evidently been the corner of a
ticket, and holding his flashlight to it he examined it carefully.
There was the termination of a sentence, "...ers' Union," and the last
letters of a name, "...ade," which had been written with ink on a
It meant nothing to him except as the slightest thing means something
to a scout, but he began searching diligently for more of the torn
fragments of this card. The breeze had been there before him and he had
crept on hands and knees many feet in every direction before his search
was rewarded by enough of these scattered scraps to enlighten him. But
the light which they shed was like a searchlight!
Using his membership card for a background and some pine gum to stick
the fragments to it, he succeeded in restoring enough of the card to
learn that it was a membership card of the Bricklayers' Union belonging
to one William Slade.
Then, all of a sudden, he caught the whole truth and understood what
ROY TO THE RESCUE
It was late when Roy reached camp and he spoke to no one. Early in the
morning he repaired to Five Oaks to "beard the lion in his den" and
have a personal interview with Mr. John Temple.
There was nothing about Mr. Temple or his house which awed Roy in the
least. He had been reared in a home of wealth and that atmosphere which
poor Tom could not overcome his fear of did not trouble Roy at all. He
was as much at ease in the presence of his elders as it is possible for
a boy to be without disrespect, but he was now to be put to the test.
He found Mr. Temple enjoying an after-breakfast smoke on the wide
veranda at Five Oaks, a bag of golf sticks beside him.
"Good morning, Mr. Temple," said Roy.
If one had to encounter Mr. John Temple at all, this was undoubtedly
the best time and place to do it.
"Good morning, sir," said he, brusquely but not unpleasantly.
"I guess maybe you know me, Mr. Temple; I'm Mr. Blakeley's boy."
Mr. Temple nodded. Roy leaned against the rubble-stone coping of the
"Mr. Temple," said he, "I came to see you about something. At first I
was going to ask Mr. Ellsworth to do it, then I decided I would do it
Mr. Temple worked his cigar over to the corner of his mouth, looking at
Roy curiously and not without a touch of amusement. What he saw was a
trim, sun-browned boy wrestling with a charming little touch of
diffidence, trying to decide how to proceed in this matter which was so
important to him and so trifling to John Temple, but exhibiting withal
the inherent self-possession which bespeaks good breeding. He was half
sitting on the coping and half leaning against it, his browned,
muscular arms pressing it on either side.
Perhaps it was the incongruity of the encounter, or perhaps his recent
breakfast and his good cigar, but he said not unpleasantly, "Lift
yourself up there and sit down if you want to. What can I do for you?"
Roy lifted himself up on the coping and swung his legs from it and felt
"It's about Tom Slade, Mr. Temple. I know you don't like him and
haven't much use for any of us scouts, and I was afraid if Mr.
Ellsworth came to see you there might be an argument or something like
that, but there couldn't be one with me because I'm only a kid and I
don't know how to argue. But there's another reason too; I stood for
Tom--brought him into the troop--and he's my friend and whatever is
done for him I want to do it. I'll tell you what he did--you
know, he's changed an awful lot since you knew him. I don't say a
fellow would always change so much but he's changed an awful
lot. You'd hardly believe what I'm going to tell you if you didn't know
about his changing. It was his own father, Mr. Temple, that took Mary's
pin--it wasn't Tom. I'm dead sure of it, and I'll tell you how I know.
[Illustration: "SOMETIMES A FELLOW is AFRAID OF A GIRL."]
"I think he went out of the room where the rest of us were that day
because he was afraid he might see you--ashamed, you know--kind of. I'd
have felt the same way if I had thrown stones at you. Well, he went
around the house--I don't know just why he did that--but anyway, he
found tracks there and he found a paint smudge on the window-ledge
where the burglar climbed out. There's another smudge on the fence
where the burglar got over. Tom tracked him and found it was his own
father and he got the pin from him, but I suppose maybe he was afraid
to come and give it to Mary. You know, sometimes a fellow is afraid of
John Temple smiled slightly.
"And he was afraid of you, too, I suppose, and that's where he fell
down, keeping the pin in his pocket. I know it was his father because-here.
I'll show you, Mr. Temple. Here's his membership card in a union
with his name on it, and this is what I think. He stopped in the woods
and tore this up so there wouldn't be anything on him to show his name
and that was just when Tom found him. Tom wouldn't tell about it
because it's one of our laws that a scout must be loyal. So I want to
give this pin to Mary and then I want Tom to go back with me because
it's our troop birthday pretty soon--we've been going two years and--"
"Come around and show me your smudge and your tracks," said Mr. Temple.
"If what you say is true you can go down in the car with me and I'll
withdraw the complaint and do what I can to have the matter expedited.
You might let me have the pin."
"Couldn't I give it to Mary?"
"Yes, if she's about."
It was there in the spacious veranda that Roy handed Mary the pin and
told her exactly what Tom had asked him to say.
The chauffeur who saw Mr. Temple step into the touring car followed by
Roy, carrying the golf sticks, was a little puzzled. He was still more
puzzled to hear his master making inquiries about tracking. After they
had gone a few hundred yards he was ordered to stop and then he saw Roy
run back to the house and return with two more golf sticks which his
master had forgotten.
If John Temple had had the least recollection of that scene in his own
vacant lot in Bridgeboro, he might have recalled the prophetic words of
Mr. Ellsworth, "by our fruits shall you know us, Mr. Temple."
Doubtless, he had forgotten that incident. The tracking business,
however, interested him; he was by no means convinced, but he was
sufficiently persuaded to say the word which would free Tom. Roy's
assumption of full responsibility in regard to the golf sticks amused
him, and Roy's general behaviour pleased him more than he allowed Roy
He had no particular interest in the scouts, but away down in the heart
of John Temple was a wish for something which he could not procure with
his check-book, and that was a son. A son like Roy would not be half
bad. He rather liked the way the boy had sat on the coping and swung
LEMONADE AND OLIVES
It fell out that on one of those fair August days there came out from
Bridgeboro a picnic party of people who were forced to take their
nature by the day, and following in the wake of these, as the peanutman
follows the circus, there came that trusty rear-guard of all such
festive migrations,--Slats Corbett, the "Two aces" (Jim and Jakie
Mattenburg), two of the three O'Connor boys (the other one had mumps),
and, yea, even Sweet Caporal himself.
The petrified mud of Bridgeboro was upon their clothes, the dust of it
was in the corners of their unwashed eyes. They wore no badges but if
they had these should have shown a leaden goat superimposed upon a
tomato can, with a tobacco-label ribbon, so suggestive were they of
street corners and vacant lots and ash heaps.
It was a singular freak of fate that the destiny of the carefullynurtured
Connover Bennett should have been involved with this gallant
The picnic was conducted according to the time-honored formula of such
festivities. There were lemonade and cold coffee in milk bottles; there
were sandwiches in shoe boxes; there were hard-boiled eggs with
accompanying salt in little twists of brown paper; there were olives
and hat-pins to extract them with, and there were camel's hair shawls
to "spread on the damp ground."
The rear-guard did not participate in the sumptuous feast. "A life on
the ocean wave" was what they sought, and their investigations of the
wooded neighborhood had not gone very far when they made discovery of
an object which of all things is dear to the heart of a city boy, and
that was a boat.
It was pulled up along the river bank near the picnic grounds, and as a
matter of fact, belonged to the scouts. It was used by them in crossing
the river to make a short-cut to and from Salmon River Village, instead
of following the shore to a point opposite the town where there was a
"Findings is keepings" is the first law of the hoodlum code, and though
the O'Connor boys hung back (partly because they had no right to the
boat and more because they were afraid of the water), Sweet Caporal,
who balked at nothing save a policeman, led the rest of his intrepid
band to the boat and presently they were flopping clumsily about in
midstream, much to the amusement of the O'Connor boys and several of
the picnickers who clustered at the shore.
There are few sights more ridiculous than the ignorant handling of a
boat. Sweet Caporal wielded an oar, Slats Corbett wrestled with another
one, Jakie Mattenburg gallantly manned the helm, invariably pulling the
tiller-lines the wrong way, while Jim Mattenburg, with a broken and
detached thwart, did his best to counteract every effort of his
companions. Amid these conflicting activities the boat made no progress
and the ineffectual splashing and the contradictory orders which were
shouted by the several members of the gallant crew were greeted with
derisive hoots from the shore.
Several times an oar slipped its lock and went splashing into the
water; once Sweet Caporal himself was capsized by the catching of the
unwieldy oar in its lock and tumbled ingloriously backward into the
bottom of the boat.
"Pull on the left one!" shouted Jim.
"Nah, pull on de odder one!" cried Slats.
"Both pull together," sagely suggested someone on the shore, but that
was quite impossible.
"Hold de rudder in de middle', yer gump!" shouted Sweet Caporal.
"If yer want de boat to go to de right, pull on de left rope," shouted
"No, de right one," corrected Sweet Caporal.
So Jakie Mattenburg took a chance with the right rope and whatever good
effect that might have had was immediately counteracted by his brother
who paddled frantically on the left side with his broken thwart until
he lost it in the water.
This loss might have helped matters some if Jakie had not unshipped the
rudder altogether, and hauled it aboard like a rebellious fish, by the
"Both sit on de same seat," commanded Sweet Caporal, and Slats and
Slats Corbett took his place alongside him, while the boat rocked
"Now, both pull together!" called one of the laughing watchers.
So they pulled together with such a frantic stroke that one of the oarlocks
was lifted from its socket and dropped into the water. The sudden
dislodgment of the oar precipitated Slats against one of the Mattenburg
boys who thereupon announced that he would man the oar instead. While
he was taking his place Sweet Caporal continued to pull frantically,
the oar sliding back in its lock and the boat going around in a circle.
"Put dat rudder on," commanded Sweet Caporal.
"Can't find no place it fits inter," said Jakie, reaching under the
water at the stern.
"Well, paddle wid it, den," said Slats.
So Jakie, grasping the rudder by its neck, proceeded to paddle with it
off one side until the cross-bar broke and the lines got into a
hopeless tangle with his arms.
"What did I tell yer?" shouted Slats.
"Now-one-two-three," encouraged someone on shore.
Sweet Caporal, holding his oar about two feet from its end so as to
lose all its leverage, pulled furiously, the blade only catching the
water occasionally, Jim Mattenburg, with no oar-lock at all, improvised
one hand into a lock and hauled frantically with the other one, while
Jakie Mattenburg bailed the boat, which was now pretty loggy with its
weight of water.
"Talk about your Yale Crew!" called one of the watchers.
"The new marine merry-go-round!" shouted another.
The sharp crack of a rifle was heard from the woods on the opposite
shore from the picnickers; one of the Mattenburg boys was conscious of
a quick, short whizzing sound, and then Charlie, the youngest of the
O'Connor boys, who was standing close to the shore, slapped his right
hand quickly to his left arm, looked about bewildered, then turned
suddenly pale and staggered into the arms of one of the picnic party.
"Look--look," he said, releasing his hand and affrightedly pointing to
a little trickle of blood on his arm. "I'm--I'm shot--look--"
CONNOVER BREAKS LOOSE
Advancing stealthily, our young hero raised his rifle and leveled it at
the chief of the howling Zulus, who clustered threateningly on the
farther shore. The young girl whom they had kidnapped lay bound hand
and foot, and Dan Dreadnought clenched his teeth with anger as he heard
her cries for help. The poisoned spears of the infuriated Zulus were
flying all about him, but they did not cower the brave lad. He was
resolved at any cost to rescue that girl.
"I am a Boy Scout," he called, "and I can handle a hundred savages if
need be." Then, uttering the cry of the Eureka Patrol, he dashed into
the dugout which lay drawn up on the shore, and using the butt end of
his rifle for a paddle, he guided his unsteady boat across the raging
torrent amid a fusillade of spears and arrows with which the frantic
Zulus vainly sought to stay his approach.
"I am Lieutenant of the Eureka Patrol!" called Dan. "Untie those
fetters, or every one of you shall die!"
His trusty companion, Ralph Redgore, tried to hold him back, but all in
Connover Bennett laid down the copy of The Eureka Patrol in South
Africa, by Captain Dauntless, U. S. A., and dragging himself from
the hammock, entered the house. He was breathing hard as if he had been
The bungalow was deserted save for the maid in the kitchen, and
Connover was monarch of all he surveyed.
Quietly, he crept upstairs and into the "den." In the corner among his
father's fishing-rods and golf sticks stood a rifle. It was forbidden
to Connover, but unfortunately The Eureka Patrol in South Africa
dealt not with scout honor and made no mention of the Seventh Law,
which stipulates that a "scout shall be obedient." Nor had Captain
Dauntless thought it worth while to mention Law One, which says that a
"scout's honor is to be trusted."
Connover glanced up and down the road from the bay-window to see if by
any chance his mother might have forgotten something and was coming
back. Reassured in this particular, he took up the rifle and, standing
before the large pier-glass, he adopted a heroic attitude of aiming.
Then he looked from the window down into the woods through which he
could see little glints of the river.
It was not glints of Salmon River that he saw, but the "Deadly Morass
River" of South Africa; the woods were not quiet, fragrant pine woods
where the First Bridgeboro Troop of real scouts was encamped, but the
deadly morass itself; and he was not Connover Bennett, but Dan
Dreadnought, and this was the trusty rifle with which he would--
He looked again from the bay-window to make sure that his mother was
not in sight. Then the creaking of a door startled him and he laid the
rifle down. It was queer how every little sound startled him. He
unfastened his negligee shirt at the neck and, standing before the
pier-glass, arranged it as much like the frontispiece pictures of
Dan Dreadnought as possible. There was a curious fluttering
feeling in his chest all the while which annoyed him. It did not seem
to jibe at all with the heroic program.
Yes, this was the rifle with which he would...
He tiptoed to the stairs and listened, "Molly, is that you?" he called.
"Yes, Master Connover."
"All right, I just wanted to know."
He went back into the room and opening the drawer of the desk, took out
a box of cartridges, extracted several and put them in his pocket. When
he replaced the box he forgot which end of the drawer he had taken it
from and was in a quandary where to place it. He took up the rifle
again, then laid it down and the thud of its butt on the floor startled
him. What a lot of noise it seemed to make!
It was oily and his hands were oily from it and left an oily stain on
the felt covering of the desk. He placed the inkstand over it, and all
the while he felt very strange and nervous; trembling almost as he
planned his exploit.
Then he took the rifle and got behind the revolving-chair, and rested
the weapon on it. It was not a very realistic jungle, but...
He saw the Zulus just as plain as day; and he saw himself, or rather,
Dan Dreadnought, in that big pier-glass.
He knew the gun was not loaded and he pulled the trigger, which
The click seemed louder than he thought it would and he listened in
suspense. No sound.
Yes, this was the rifle with which he would... Casting one more
cautious look from the window, he shouldered the weapon and hurried
quietly down the stairs.
"What time did my mother say she'd be back?" he called.
"Not till dinnertime, Master Connover." He crossed the road, and headed
through the woods toward the river. Once in the woods, the spirit of
freedom took possession of him and he indulged in the luxury of
shooting the gun at nothing at all.
"'I am a scout,'" he said, "'and can handle a hundred savages!'"
Whereas, in plain fact, he couldn't have been much farther from being a
Arrested by a flutter in one of the trees, he leveled his gun again and
by the luck of a random shot, brought down a robin. The sight of its
quivering body and loose-hanging neck as it lay at his feet almost
frightened him for he had never killed a red-blooded creature before,
and he felt now a sense of heavy guilt. He was afraid to pick the robin
up and when he finally did so and saw how wilted and drooping the thing
was and how aimlessly the head swung he was seized with a little panic
of fear and dropped it suddenly.
But it was absolutely necessary that he should carry out his program of
encountering the Zulu's. As long as he was not really going to kill
anyone it was all right. He was at least going to have the thrill of
that experience. Now that he had killed the robin, he found that in
actual practice he preferred a sort of modified Dan Dreadnought to the
real one; and he could piece out with his imagination the more
harrowing features of Captain Dauntless's book.
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