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´╗┐Title: Don Strong, Patrol Leader
Author: Heyliger, William
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Don Strong, Patrol Leader" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                               DON STRONG

                              PATROL LEADER

                           By WILLIAM HEYLIGER

                Author of "Don Strong of the Wolf Patrol"

                                  1918



FOREWORD


Tempting boys to be what they should be--giving them in wholesome form
what they want--that is the purpose and power of Scouting. To help
parents and leaders of youth secure _books boys like best_ that are also
best for boys, the Boy Scouts of America organized EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY.
The books included, formerly sold at prices ranging from $1.50 to $2.00
but, by special arrangement with the several publishers interested, are
now sold in the EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY Edition at $1.00 per volume.

The books of EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY were selected by the Library Commission
of the Boy Scouts of America, consisting of George F. Bowerman,
Librarian, Public Library of the District of Columbia; Harrison W.
Craver, Director, Engineering Societies Library, New York City; Claude G.
Leland, Superintendent, Bureau of Libraries, Board of Education, New
York City; Edward F. Stevens, Librarian, Pratt Institute Free Library,
Brooklyn, N.Y., and Franklin K, Mathiews, Chief Scout Librarian. Only
such books were chosen by the Commission as proved to be, by _a nation
wide canvas_, most in demand by the boys themselves. Their popularity is
further attested by the fact that in the EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY Edition,
more than a million and a quarter copies of these books have already been
sold.

We know so well, are reminded so often of the worth of the good book and
great, that too often we fail to observe or understand the influence
for good of a boy's recreational reading. Such books may influence him
for good or ill as profoundly as his play activities, of which they are a
vital part. The needful thing is to find stories in which the heroes have
the characteristics boys so much admire--unquenchable courage, immense
resourcefulness, absolute fidelity, conspicuous greatness. We believe
the books of EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY measurably well meet this challenge.

BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA,

James E. West
Chief Scout Executive.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

     I. THE WOLF PATROL ELECTS
    II. THE FIRST CLASH
   III. TIM STANDS BY
    IV. DANGER MOUNTAIN
     V. A PLEA ON THE ROAD
    VI. SPROUTING SEEDS
   VII. CROSS CURRENTS
  VIII. DON'S CHOICE
    IX. THE FIGHT IN THE WOODS
     X. GOOD LUCK AND BAD
    XI. CLOSE QUARTERS
   XII. OUT OF THE WOODS



DON STRONG, PATROL LEADER



CHAPTER I

THE WOLF PATROL ELECTS


A baseball rose gracefully in the air, carried on a way, and dropped.
Three scouts back from a hike halted under the maple tree that bordered
the village field, and unslung their haversacks.

"Gee!" cried Fred Ritter. "Did you see Ted Carter make that catch?"

"And did you see Tim Lally get that one?" demanded Wally Woods.

Andy Ford grinned. "Ted's the boy to keep them working. Chester will have
a real town team this year."

"You bet." Ritter unscrewed the top of his canteen. "Anyway, Ted and Tim
are about the whole team."

"Hold on there," Andy protested. "Where do you leave Don Strong?"

"It's Tim's catching that makes him a pitcher," Ritter answered
seriously.

"Who says so?"

"Why, Tim says so."

"O--h!" Andy began to laugh. "And you swallowed that?"

"Sure," said Ritter. "A catcher ought to know just how good a pitcher he
is. Tim says--"

But what Tim said was not told just then. A small, wiry boy steered his
bicycle up on the sidewalk and pedaled toward the tree.

"Hey, fellows!" he shouted. "Did you hear the latest? Mr. Wall is going
to give a cup to the best patrol and Phil Morris is moving to Chicago."

The three scouts surrounded the bicycle.

"Who told you about the cup?" Andy Ford demanded.

"Mr. Wall told me," Bobbie Brown answered. "It's a contest, with points
for everything--attendance at meeting, neatness, obeying orders, all
that. There's going to be a contest every month, and at the end of three
months a big scout game for points. Isn't that swell?"

Three heads nodded. Ritter plucked at Bobbie's sleeve.

"How do you know Phil Morris is moving?"

"Mr. Wall told me that, too."

"Then the Wolf patrol elects a new leader," said Ritter. He glanced out
toward where Tim Lally was catching.

Andy's eyes puckered, and a swift change came over Bobbie Brown's face.

The practice ended. Tim came across the grass with a big mitt under his
arm. Ritter and Wally went forward to meet him.

"Tim won't get my vote," said Bobbie. "The patrol leader ought to be a
fellow who's up in things, like Don, or Alex Davidson, or you--"

"Don and Alex have it all over me," said Andy.

They watched the field. Tim was walking now with Ritter and Wally. Bobbie
reached a foot for the nearest pedal.

"Guess I'll ride along," he said. As he turned the corner he glanced back
across his shoulder. Tim and Ritter and Wally were talking to Andy.

Bobbie rode faster. Presently he came in sight of a house with a
white-washed fence in front and a sign rising above the lawn grass:

ROBERT STRONG & SON
CARPENTERS AND JOINERS
WINDOW SCREENS AND SCREEN DOORS
BIRD-HOUSES

A boy who whistled as he worked was tacking wire to a door frame.

Bobbie opened the gate and pushed through with his bicycle. The whistling
boy glanced up.

"Hello, Bobbie."

"Hello, Don. Phil Morris is moving to Chicago."

"To Chi--" Don Strong paused with his tack hammer raised. "That means a
new patrol leader, doesn't it?" The hammer fell and the work went on.

"Tim Lally wants it," said Bobbie.

A thoughtful expression came to Don's face. He went on tacking the wire
until it was all tight and snug. Still thoughtful, he cut the molding and
nailed it fast. From under one of the two wooden horses on which the door
lay, he took a can of green paint.

"Tim wouldn't make a good patrol leader, would he, Don?"

"Easy, there," Don warned.

Bobbie flushed. "Well, he always wants to boss things and you know it."

Don said nothing.

"Doesn't he?" Bobbie insisted.

Don dodged the question and demanded that Bobbie show him how he was
progressing with his semaphore. Bobbie retreated to the fence and sent
the message that was given him.

"Was that right, Don?" he asked eagerly.

"Right," said Don. He was on the point of sending the boy off with
another message when the gate clicked. Tim Lally advanced as though he
had important business on his mind.

"Hello," said Tim, and rubbed his fingers across the door. "Gee! Why
didn't you tell me the paint was wet? Give it a rub or two; that will fix
it up again. Did you hear about Phil Morris?"

Don nodded.

"I guess I'll take a crack at being patrol leader," said Tim.

Bobbie looked up quickly. Don stood the door aside to dry, went down to
his father's basement workshop and came up with another frame.

"I guess I'll take a crack at being patrol leader," Tim repeated. "I have
two votes already, Ritter and Wally Woods. My own, of course, is three.
All I need is another. Now, how about you fellows?"

"I'm going to vote for Alex Davidson," said Don.

Bobbie scarcely breathed. A spot of red flamed in each of Tim's cheeks.

"What's the matter with me?" he demanded. "Don't you think I'm good
enough?" He swung around. "How about you, Bobbie?"

Bobbie swallowed hard. "Why, Tim, I--I--I--"

"Well, how about it?"

Bobbie looked appealingly at Don. Don laid down the tack hammer.

"Is that fair, Tim?" he asked quietly.

"Why isn't it?" Tim bristled.

And yet, after a moment, his eyes fell. He knew what Don meant. Bobbie
was the "baby" of the troop, the smallest and the youngest scout. He
walked out of the yard and slammed the gate defiantly.

"I'll get it without you," he called over the fence.

Don didn't do any more whistling that day. And after supper, as he heard
the details of the contest for the Scoutmaster's Cup, the concerned look
on his face deepened.

The patrol leader, he thought, should be a fellow who was heart and soul
in scouting--a fellow who could encourage, and urge, and lend a willing
hand; not a fellow who wanted to drive and show authority. If Tim, with
his temper and his eagerness to come to blows, should take command--Don
shook his head. Why did Phil Morris have to move away?

All next morning he built bird-houses. He had developed quite a business
with Audubon societies and it took a lot of work to keep up with his
orders. After dinner he trudged off to the village field. Tim greeted him
as though nothing had happened.

Don was delighted at this turn of affairs. When the work ended and he saw
Tim following his steps he waited.

"You can vote for me now," Tim said confidently. "I saw Alex today. He
won't have time to be patrol leader. He goes to work for the Union
grocery store next Monday."

Don felt that everything had been turned upside down. So this was why the
other boy had been so friendly! Of course, he could go home and let Tim
think that the vote was his. But that would be cowardice. That would not
be a scout's way of meeting the situation.

"I'm going to vote for somebody else," he said uneasily.

Tim's good humor vanished. "You are?"

Don nodded. "You're too hot-tempered," he said. "You always get things
stewed up. You--"

"I don't see any wings on you or Alex," Tim cried wrathfully. "What kind
of a game is this?"

Don said nothing. What was the use, he thought. He walked on; and after a
moment Tim stood still and let him go his way.

Next morning a letter came from the Scout Scribe announcing the terms of
the contest for the Scoutmaster's Cup. The competition would start at
Friday night's meeting. For each scout present a patrol would be awarded
a point, while for each scout absent it would lose a point. Another point
would be lost for each scout who came to meeting with buttons off his
uniform, or with scout pin missing, or with hair uncombed, or shoes
muddy. Any patrol that did not live up to its orders from the Scoutmaster
would be penalized from five to ten points. At the end of the first month
there would be a contest in advanced first aid, and points would be
awarded to the patrols that came in first and second.

Don read the letter twice and sat on one of the wooden horses and stared
at the ground. His sister Barbara, anxious to show a berry cake, had to
call to him three times before he heard her.

"What's the matter, Don?" she asked.

"Tim Lally wants to be patrol leader," he answered.

"Oh!" Barbara gave him a quick, understanding look.

Tim did not have a word to say to him that afternoon. Next day he worked
steadily helping his father on a rush order and did not get to the field
at all. When the work was done, he went upstairs and washed, dressed in
his scout uniform and came down to the dining-room.

Barbara came in from the kitchen to set the table. "Hungry?" she asked.
Then, after a moment: "Isn't Tim your catcher on the town team?"

Don nodded.

Barbara put her head close to his. "Scouting isn't all fun, is it?"

"It wouldn't be worth shucks if it was," Don said stoutly. And yet, as he
walked toward troop headquarters after supper, his steps were slow.

The command "Attention," came from Mr. Wall's lips as he entered the
meeting place. He hurriedly joined his patrol. The color guard and the
troop bugler stepped to the front, and the brassy notes of "To the
Colors" rose and fell. Standing stiffly at salute, the troop pledged
allegiance to the flag, and repeated the scout oath. The bugler stepped
back to the ranks.

Slowly Mr. Wall made his tour of inspection. When it was finished, the
scouts waited breathlessly. For the first time Don noticed a small
blackboard nailed against the wall:

PATROL   POINTS

Eagle
Fox
Wolf

"The Eagle patrol," Mr. Wall said, "has one scout absent and two scouts
untidy--thirteen points."

The Scout Scribe wrote the points upon the board.

"The Fox patrol, all scouts present and two scouts-untidy--fourteen
points. The Wolf patrol a perfect score--sixteen points."

Silence in the patrols.

"Break ranks," the Scoutmaster ordered.

Instantly there was a babel of excited talk. Scouts who had cost their
patrols points through untidiness were upbraided by their comrades. Andy
caught Don's arm.

"We're off in the lead," he chuckled.

"It's staying in the lead that counts," said Don.

The shrill of Mr. Wall's whistle brought the scouts to attention again.

"Tonight we take up the theory of building a bridge with staves and
cords," the Scoutmaster said. "The Fox patrol was to have provided two
logs."

The Fox patrol hustled outdoors and returned in a moment with their
burden.

The scouts set to work to build a bridge from one log to the other. Mr.
Wall walked about, watching but offering no advice. After an hour the
bridge was completed.

"Scouts Lally and Davidson," said Mr. Wall, "see if it will hold you."

Tim and Alex stepped out on the structure. It held. A cheer started and
died. For the bridge was sagging. Abruptly it gave.

"Ten minutes for examination to see where the fault lies." The
Scoutmaster took out his watch. "Next meeting we'll try again."

Ten minutes later the lashings were untied, the staves were back in their
wall racks, and the logs were outdoors. Each scout was sure he knew just
what was wrong with that bridge and no two scouts agreed.

"Squat!" came the next order.

There was a rush for camp stools piled in a corner. Still grouped by
patrols, the scouts faced Mr. Wall.

"The Wolf patrol," he said, "is to select a new leader. So long as Patrol
Leader Morris will not serve under his successor, the Council of Patrol
Leaders feels that he should not vote in this election. The Scout Scribe
will distribute pencils and paper. Each member of the Wolf patrol will
write the name of his candidate. When I call his name, he will deposit
his ballot, folded, in my hat. The patrol leaders will count the
ballots."

Don's throat was dry. When he received his paper and pencil his hand
shook. He wrote "Andy Ford" quickly, and folded the paper. He caught a
glimpse of Tim sending sharp glances from face to face.

"Assistant Patrol Leader Ford," Mr. Wall called.

Andy went up and dropped his ballot.

"Scout Lally."

Tim voted, came back to his stool and sat biting his lips.

Finally all the votes were in. The patrol leaders carried the hat aside,
counted the votes, and came back to Mr. Wall.

"The result is--" The Scoutmaster paused. "Scout Lally, three votes;
Scout Strong, three votes; Assistant Patrol Leader Ford, one vote. As no
candidate has received a majority, another ballot is necessary."

Don wondered if he had heard the Scoutmaster correctly. Three votes for
him? He saw Tim eye him with dark suspicion. Andy's voice sounded in his
ear:

"Did you vote for me?"

He nodded.

"Well, cut it out. Next time vote for yourself."

Don shook his head slowly. This thing of voting for himself did not
appeal.

"If you vote for me," Andy said sharply, "this will be a tie until the
cows come home. Don't be a chump. Tim is voting for himself."

Still Don was undecided. Besides, he could not get over the wonder of
finding himself with three votes.

"How about a man who runs for president of the United States?" Andy
insisted. "Do you think he votes for his opponent?"

"We are ready to ballot again," said Mr. Wall.

"Wake up," said Andy.

Don did not know what to do. There was no use in voting for Andy. Alex
would not take the place and Bobbie Brown was altogether too young a
scout. What should he do?

"Assistant Patrol Leader Ford," called the Scoutmaster.

Don, in desperation, wrote his own name.

This time, when the patrol leaders brought Mr. Wall the result, they put
the hat out of the way, and the troop knew that it would not be needed
again.

"Scout Lally," Mr. Wall read, "three votes; Scout Strong, four votes,
Scout Strong is elected patrol leader of the Wolves."

Five minutes later the meeting was over. Don had been formally saluted by
the Foxes and the Bears, and a patrol leader's stripes had been pinned,
temporarily, to his sleeve. Flushed and excited, and still amazed at
the turn fortune had taken, he faced about to where his own patrol was
gathered. All at once the flush died out of his cheeks.

"When I asked Bobbie for his vote," said Tim, "it wasn't fair. But you
could ask the fellows, couldn't you?"

"I didn't ask anybody," said Don.

Tim laughed. "When do you think I was born--yesterday? How did you get
the votes if you didn't ask for them? We'll see about this."

He walked out of headquarters. Ritter and Wally Woods whispered together,
looked at Don, and seemed unable to make up their minds. Finally they
edged their way toward the door.

There was work for Don to do--checking up what property the Wolf patrol
owned and signing that he received it in good condition. But all joy was
gone from the honor that had come to him. The Wolves were divided among
themselves! What chance would they have for the Scoutmaster's Cup?



CHAPTER II

THE FIRST CLASH


Barbara and Mr. Strong were sitting on the porch when Don reached home.
He reclined on the top step and fanned himself with his hat.

"Was Tim elected?" Barbara asked.

"No," said Don; "I was."

"Don!" The girl sprang to her feet. "Isn't that fine! We must celebrate
with a piece of berry cake--"

But Don said gloomily that he did not feel like celebrating. He told
about having won through the aid of his own ballot.

Barbara, concerned, looked at her father. "Was it wrong for Don to vote
for himself?"

"Not at all," said Mr. Strong. "A candidate always votes for himself on a
secret ballot."

Don felt a load leave his heart. He decided that perhaps he would like
some berry cake. While he ate he told himself that there was no sense in
worrying about Tim. Tim might get over his disappointment and not make a
bit of trouble.

Next morning, while he built bird-houses, his mind was busy with eager
plans for his patrol. The first-aid contest would really be a test of
skill. With the exception of Bobbie Brown and Wally Woods, every member
of the Wolves was a first-class scout. They knew the theory of their
first aid. The thing to do was to make them freshen up in the actual work
of doing.

"We'll have to get on the job at once," Don told himself. "I'll call a
patrol meeting for Monday night. If Bobbie comes around--"

Bobbie rode up to the gate. "Hello, Don."

"Hello, Bobbie. I was just hoping you'd show up. Take a scout message for
me?"

"Sure!" The boy held on to the palings of the fence and did not dismount.

"Pass the word that there'll be a patrol meeting at my house Monday
night."

Bobbie rode away as though the message had to be delivered within the
next five minutes. Don smiled, and then grew thoughtful. Wouldn't it be
fine if all scouts were as keen and as alert as that?

Tim did not come to the field that afternoon. On the way home Don met Mr.
Wall.

"Well," the Scoutmaster smiled, "how's the new patrol leader?"

"All right, sir."

"Think you're going to like it?"

"Yes, sir."

"It has its hard spots," Mr. Wall said seriously, "just like any other
job. It isn't all milk and honey. There are lots of things you could do
when you were a scout that you cannot do now. Not that they are exactly
forbidden by the scout laws. They're forbidden by you, yourself. Do you
understand?"

The boy nodded soberly. "I think so. You mean that when I was a plain
scout I could skylark and cut up a bit, but that now I must be out in
front setting the pace. I can't ask any of the fellows to be what I
am not myself."

"Exactly. And there's another thing. Don't get discouraged when your
plans go wrong. Get your grip and hold on. Scouts are only human. They're
not angels."

Don smiled.

"I mean that. Scouting wasn't made for angels. It was made for everybody,
fellows like you and me. And just because we're not angels, we sometimes
kick things around and don't seem to play fair. When that happens--"

"Yes, sir?" said Don.

"That's the time we need scouting most," Mr. Wall said gravely.

It seemed to Don that the Scoutmaster was giving him a warning. But
though he puzzled his head and wondered, he could not fathom what Mr.
Wall might mean.

He told Barbara and his mother about Monday night's meeting and said that
he would take the scouts up to his room out of the way. Barbara told him
indignantly that he would do nothing of the kind. The scouts would meet,
she announced, in the cool dining-room.

Monday, as soon as supper was over, she began to prepare for the coming
of the patrol. Don wanted to help, but she routed him from the place. He
went out to the porch and sat there in the gathering darkness. A vague
sense of uneasiness stole over him.

Presently Bobbie Brown rode up and left his bicycle inside the gate. Soon
he was followed by Alex Davidson and Andy Ford. Then came a long wait. At
length two figures loomed in the dusk.

"Who's there?" Don called eagerly.

"Ritter and Woods," came the answer.

Don suddenly knew the cause of that vague uneasiness. The meeting had
been called for eight o'clock, and it was now five minutes after, and
there was no sign of Tim.

But none of the others seemed to think of the missing scout. Alex was
bubbling over with the wonder of his first day in business. He told of
how many orders he had delivered, and how much money he had collected,
and how careful he had to be in making change. Don listened nervously. By
and by he struck a match and glanced at his watch.

"Quarter past eight," he said.

"How about starting?" said Andy.

Don led the patrol indoors. The dining-room lamp shed a soft glow over
the table. Chairs were drawn up, and at each place was a sharpened pencil
and a few sheets of paper.

"I'll bet Barbara thought of that," said Andy,

At any other time praise of Barbara would have brought a quick smile to
Don's face. Now, however, he sat down soberly and gave the order to call
the roll. Andy cleared his throat.

"Patrol Leader Strong."

"Here," said Don.

"Assistant Patrol Leader Ford. No doubt about me being here."

"Scout Davidson."

"Here," said Alex.

"Scout Ritter."

"Here."

"Scout Lally."

Silence.

All at once an uneasy feeling crept around the table. Alex forgot his
business adventures of the day and glanced quickly from face to face.

"Tim may come later," he said.

Don looked at Bobbie. "Did you tell him?"

Bobbie nodded.

"What did he say?"

"N--nothing."

Every scout knew at once that Tim had said something. Don shut his lips
tightly.

"I guess Tim forgot," Andy suggested.

Don grasped at this straw. Not that he believed it, for he didn't; but it
gave him a chance to ease the tension. He forced a smile and said that
Tim might come bolting in at the last minute. The moment the roll call
was completed, he turned the talk to the Scoutmaster's Cup. He didn't
want to give the scouts a chance to sit there and think.

"We're in the lead now," he said, "and it's up to us to stay there. It
will be easy if every fellow will do his part. Attend every meeting and
come ready for inspection. When Mr. Wall gives us a job to do as a
patrol, let us dig in and do it right. And let us work hard so that we'll
stand a good chance of winning the monthly contests."

"The first contest is easy," said Ritter. "We all know our first aid."

"We know it," said Don. "But can we do it? That's what counts."

"It's like riding a bicycle," Ritter argued. "You never forget."

Don had not expected anything like this. He didn't want the patrol to be
cocksure--he wanted it to work. But there would be small chance of work
if each scout was going to think that practice was unnecessary.

"Wait until I get some bandages," he said. He ran up to his room and came
down with a little white roll. Ritter smiled confidently.

"Let's see you make a spiral reverse bandage," Don invited.

Ritter took the bandage and went to work on Alex's arm. Presently, after
having gone half way to the elbow, he flushed and pulled the bandage off.

"It's sloppy," he said. "I see your point. I need practice."

"We all need practice," said Don. There were no further objections to
hard work. The talk became eager as details were planned. The patrol
would practice Wednesday afternoon at troop headquarters. Don would work
with Ritter on splints, and Tim and Andy and Bobbie would form a team for
artificial respiration, fireman's lift and stretcher work. Wally and Alex
would practice straight bandaging at night after Alex had finished his
labors at the Union grocery store.

Bobbie accepted the arrangement in silence. As the meeting broke up and
the scouts crowded into the hall, he pulled at Don's sleeve.

"Must I work with Tim?" he asked.

"Tim's strong and you're light," Don explained. "You can be handled
easily on the fireman's lift and stretcher work."

Bobbie wet his lips and seemed to want to say something more. Abruptly,
though, he turned away and followed the others out to the porch.

"How about Tim?" Ritter asked. "Shall I tell him about Wednesday?"

Conversation stopped. The feeling of tension came back.

"I'll see him at the field tomorrow," said Don. "I'll tell him myself."

Alex looked at him sharply, and the look said as plainly as words, "Going
to make him toe the mark?"

Don lingered on the porch until the last footstep had died away in the
distance. Then he went up to his room and stared out of the window.
Thunder! Why couldn't Tim stick to his patrol and play fair, and not
spoil all the fun?

He had an uneasy feeling about the morrow's interview. Once he had heard
Mr. Wall say that there is something wrong when a patrol leader and his
scouts live at loggerheads. He did not want to start wrong, he did not
want to quarrel. But what could he do if a scout made up his mind to stay
away from meetings and be nasty?

A dozen times he tried to picture what he would say to Tim and what Tim
would say to him. At last, with an impatient shrug of his shoulders, he
began to undress for bed.

"Tim may be as nice as pie," he muttered. "He may not say a word."

Which was exactly what happened. Tim listened in silence to a report of
what the patrol meeting had decided, nodded shortly when told of
Wednesday's practice, and then moved off a few steps and called for the
ball.

Don found himself, all at once, wishing that this refractory scout had
spoken his mind. As things stood now he did not know what to expect. Tim
might come to the practice, or he might stay away.

Twice, that afternoon, he walked toward the other boy, resolved to ask
him point blank what he intended to do. Twice he paused and turned away.
Perhaps it might be bad to let Tim see that he was worried.

Wednesday he was the first scout to reach troop headquarters. Inside, on
the wall, was the slate:

PATROL   POINTS

Eagle    13
Fox      14
Wolf     16

Don stared at the sign a long time. What an honor it would be to win! Not
the mere honor of getting a prize--he didn't mean that. But the honor of
being the best scouts in the troop, the honor of achievement, the honor
of something well done.

He heard a noise at the door. It was Andy Ford.

"Any trouble with Tim?" Andy asked at once.

Don shook his head.

"Did you tell him? What did he say?"

"Nothing."

Andy puckered his eyes. "What's the matter with Tim, anyway? Is he going
to grouch just because he wasn't elected patrol leader? He has the
makings of a good scout."

There was the sound of a step outside.

"Sssh!" Don said softly.

Tim put his head in through the doorway. "Are we the only fellows here?"
he demanded. "I want to get to the field and do some ball playing."

Don said that Ritter and Bobbie would be along any minute. Tim came in
and sauntered around the room. He banged his mitt against the scout
staves in the racks and seemed to find pleasure in the noise. Finally
he brought up in front of the slate.

"Think we can stick in the lead?" Andy asked.

"Cinch!" said Tim. "What other patrol has anything on us?"

"It means work," said Don. "If we practice once or twice every week--"

"Once or twice?" Tim cried. "Gee! Have a heart. Isn't that rubbing it
in?"

"We've got to be perfect," Andy said quickly, "and we're depending on you
for the big stuff."

"What big stuff?" Tim asked.

"Stretcher work, fireman's lift, artificial respiration. The hard stuff,
Tim."

"Oh well--" The praise seemed to have soothed Tim's feelings. "Maybe I
could find time."

Andy winked. Don walked to the door. Was that the way to handle this
hot-tempered scout--humor him a bit, praise him a little, give him the
important assignments?

"Here come Bobbie and Ritter," said Andy.

The two scouts arrived, somewhat breathless from running, and the work
started. Don took splints and bandages from the troop's medicine chest.
Tim and Andy fashioned a stretcher from staves and coats.

"Try it again," said Tim. "Too slow."

"Let Bobbie button as soon as the first coat goes on," said Andy.

"Let Bobbie keep out of the way," said Tim.

Don looked up quickly. However, the work seemed to be going on
satisfactorily. He brought his attention back to the splint he was
adjusting.

After that, from time to time, he walked over to see how Tim and Andy and
Bobbie were making out. Twice he thought that Andy frowned at him and
gave a cautious movement with his head.

"Ouch!" Bobbie cried toward the finish. "You're hurting, Tim."

"You can't help hurting a fellow a little on artificial respiration," Tim
answered gruffly.

Don frowned. Had Andy been signaling to him? Had something been going on
over there?

When the work ended the staves and the splints and the bandages were put
away. Tim mopped his face and breathed heavily. Bobbie Brown edged over
toward the farthest window.

"How about another session Friday?" Don asked.

"Can't," said Tim. "Saturday we play our first game. Ted Carter wants
everybody out for practice Friday afternoon. He told me to tell you."

"Well--" For the moment Don wasn't interested in baseball. "How about
Monday?"

Monday, it appeared, would be all right. Tim put on his coat and walked
toward the door.

"You're forgetting your mitt," Don called.

"I'm not going to the field," said Tim.

There was something peculiar in the way he said it. Don looked
inquiringly at Andy. The assistant patrol leader nodded toward
the window.

"Anything wrong, Bobbie?" Don asked.

Bobbie gave a start, and smiled and shook his head. "Guess I'll go
along," he said; but he made no move to leave the place.

Something was wrong. Andy sauntered down to the door, peered at the
woodwork as though examining it, scratched with his finger-nail, and then
began to tap with his knuckle.

Don wrinkled his forehead. Why did Andy tap like that--two taps, pause,
another tap--over and over again? Suddenly he understood. Andy was
sending him a message in Morse, and the first letter was C. He looked
up, caught Andy's eye, and nodded. The tapping went on.

".."

"O," whispered Don.

"- -"

"M."

"."

"E. Come."

A pause, longer than the other. The tapping began again.

".. ..-- ... .. -.. ."

"Come outside," Don muttered. He strolled toward the door.

The moment he passed out of troop headquarters, Andy caught his arm.

"Did you see Tim roughing Bobbie all afternoon?"

"Hurting him?" Don asked quickly.

"Not really hurting him, but pulling his hair, and twisting his ears, and
things like that. Bobbie's frightened. It's going to spoil all our first
aid."

Don's mouth twitched. He had congratulated himself that the work had gone
so well. And all the while trouble had been lurking at his elbow. He
walked back into troop headquarters with his head bent. If one scout was
going to nag another there would be no harmony, no pulling together, no
striving toward a common goal. It would be good-by to the Wolf patrol so
far as the Scoutmaster's Cup was concerned.

He paused in front of the slate. What should he do? If he went to Tim and
told him plump and plain to cut it out, there might be a ruction. If he
allowed the nagging to go on, there would be tension and unrest within
the patrol. No matter which way he turned, disorder and adversity loomed.

He walked to the window where Bobbie stood. Suddenly he stiffened.

"Isn't that Tim down the road--that fellow leaning against the fence?"

Bobbie nodded nervously.

Don drew a deep breath. He knew what was happening. Tim was waiting to
continue his plaguing.

"I--I guess I'll go," said Bobbie again.

"Wait," said Don. "I'm going down that way."

There was no help for it. He had no choice. He couldn't let Bobbie go out
and get his hair pulled and his ears twisted. He'd have to see him past
the danger.

There was vast relief on Bobbie's face as they came out of troop
headquarters. But Don's face was grave.

It took but a minute to walk down the road to the fence. Bobbie's steps
unconsciously became slower. He edged out toward the curb. Tim saw him
and instantly became alert.

"Here, now," he called; "don't try to dodge past. Come over here and--"

"Hello, Tim," said Don.

Tim stopped short. His eyes darkened suspiciously, as though he suspected
that Don was acting as guardian. For a moment he seemed to be debating
what he should do; and while he paused, Bobbie edged past.

"Don't forget Monday," said Don. He wanted to shift the other boy's
thoughts.

"I may be busy Monday," Tim answered scowlingly. He took a step after
Bobbie, but found the patrol leader in his way and stopped short.

Don continued on down the road. He knew that Tim was aware why he had
walked with Bobbie, and he knew that Tim resented it. After all, what had
he gained? He couldn't be with Bobbie always. If Tim wanted to plague, he
could catch the little scout alone almost any day.

Abruptly Don swung around and went back. Tim, seeing him coming, set his
feet farther apart. It was a fighting pose. Don's heart fluttered.

"Look here, Tim," he said; "what's the use of stewing around this way?
Why can't we all pull together?"

"Did I do anything to you?" Tim asked.

"No, but--What's the use of tormenting Bobbie?"

"Gee! Are you the keeper of the whole patrol?"

Don bit his lips. The talk wasn't going at all the way he wanted.

"We've got to work together," he said, "or we won't have a chance for the
cup."

"Don't you worry about me," Tim said airily. "I'll do my share. Didn't I
show up for practice today?"

"Yes."

"Well, what more do you want?"

Don hesitated. Tim began to grin. He walked back to the fence and leaned
there carelessly.

"It--it's going to muss the practice if you tease Bobbie," Don said
slowly. "He'll be edging away from you, not knowing what moment you'll
twig him, and it will spoil the work. You can't give him a good fireman's
lift if he's hanging back."

"What are you doing," Tim demanded, "asking me to let up on him or
telling me?"

"I'm asking you," Don said slowly.

"Oh! Well, that's all right." Tim's grin grew broader. "I won't bother
him."

All the way home Don was haunted by that grin. He knew what it meant. Tim
thought he had started back to lay down the law and had wilted. Tim
thought he was afraid.

Don swallowed a lump in his throat. There was no use in trying to
disguise the truth. Deep in his heart he didn't know whether he was or
not.



CHAPTER III

TIM STANDS BY


It was a very quiet Don who sat down to supper that night. He had the
uncomfortable conviction that he had blundered. Having started to see
Bobbie past trouble, he should have seen him past with quiet firmness. It
had been a mistake to try to bargain.

Regrets, though, would do him no good. What was past was past. It was the
future that troubled him the most.

Tim, he was sure, would now carry a chip on his shoulder. And if he tried
to make him keep step with the other scouts of the patrol, and if Tim did
not want to keep step--

"You're not eating, Don," said Barbara.

He came to himself with a start, smiled sheepishly, and gave thought to
his supper. But for the rest of the meal he could see Barbara watching
him. There was also a concerned look in the eyes of his sister Beth.

Why had he gone back that time? And having gone back, why had he not told
Tim, bluntly and plainly, that he would have to let Bobbie alone? Had
there been a clash of wills, it would all be over with now. Instead, the
time of decision had been put off. It might come any day. And because he
had hesitated to meet it once, it would be all the harder to meet it in
the future.

"I don't think Don is hungry," said Beth.

He came to himself with a start and found that he was again staring
fixedly at his plate. He was glad when the meal came to an end.

He went up to his room. There were two letters he ought to write to
Audubon societies that had ordered bird-houses. But, though he drew out
paper and ink and envelopes, he could not concentrate his thoughts on
what he had to say. At last he went downstairs and sat on the porch.

He was discouraged. Under Phil Morris, the Wolf patrol had been strong
and vigorous. Phil had refused to stand for any nonsense.

"I guess--I guess I haven't the spunk Phil had," Don told himself.

In the kitchen the sounds of dish-washing ceased. Presently Barbara came
out on the porch. The chair in which he sat was wide. She touched his
arm.

"Push over, Don."

He made room for her.

"Well," she asked, "what's the scout trouble now?"

He could always talk to Barbara as though she were an older brother. Now
he told her about his meeting with Tim, and of the sorry way he had
handled himself.

"And now," he ended, "Tim will think I'm scared of him and that he can do
just as he pleases."

"Will he think that?" Barbara asked.

"Well, won't he?"

The girl did not answer. After a moment she asked:

"How about good turns, Don? Does Tim do any?"

"Of course he does. Isn't he a scout?"

"What kind of good turns?"

"Well--" Don thought. "Remember last winter when Mr. Blair was sick?"

"Yes."

"Tim looked after their furnace three times a day."

"Don," Barbara said, "don't you think he's all right at heart if he does
acts like that?"

Don stared. This was putting things in a new light. Then he thought of
Tim riding rough-shod, and tormenting Bobbie, and wanting his own way in
everything.

"Maybe Tim's all right at heart," he said dubiously, "but he's always
making trouble just the same. I'm not going to let him stew up my patrol.
I'll go to Mr. Wall--"

"Don!"

The sharp note of disappointment in Barbara's voice sent the blood into
his cheeks.

"Stand on your own feet," she said. "What would Mr. Wall think of you?
Did the old-time scouts like Daniel Boone go running for help every time
they found themselves in trouble?"

The boy did not answer. There was a long silence. Barbara touched his
arm.

"Angry, Don?"

"No. I--I guess I'll fight my own way," he said.

Somehow, that determination seemed to lighten his worries. He went
upstairs and wrote his letters. Afterward he picked up his Handbook and
idly turned the pages. Presently his eyes fell on the tenth law:

"He has the courage to face danger in spite of fear ... and defeat does
not down him." Next he read the fourth law, "He is a friend to all and a
brother to every other scout." And then he closed the book and for a long
time stared straight ahead.

Friday brought a busy day--bird-houses all morning, baseball practice in
the afternoon, and a troop meeting at night.

During the morning, as Don planed, and sawed, and hammered, he whistled a
gay air. But after dinner, as the time for baseball practice approached,
the whistle became subdued and at last stopped.

Up to now he had pitched against high-school boys, lads of his own age.
Tomorrow, though, he was to face a town team with its older, more
experienced players. He wondered if he would be able to make good. And he
wondered, just a little, how he and Tim would work together.

He might have saved himself the worry of wondering about Tim, for that
afternoon's practice gave no time for anything save work. Ted Carter
drove the players with a high-strung, nervous vim. He seemed to find
time for everything--first a signal drill, then fielding, then sliding
into bases.

Don was kept on the jump. As soon as his arm was warm and limber Ted
hustled him to the mound, and for fifteen minutes he stood there and
threw to bases as signals were flashed to him. Then Ted gave him ten
minutes of fielding bunts. By that time the sweat was running down his
face and his breath was coming hard.

"Get into a sweater," Ted ordered. "I'll want you back here in ten
minutes. Now, Tim, I'm going to let some of the fellows steal bases.
Let's see you throw them out."

Don was glad of the respite. He retired beyond the foul lines and
watched. There was no doubt but that Tim knew his job. Short and stocky
and agile, he seemed made in a catcher's mold. He could reach second base
with a forearm throw while squatting on his heels, and a snap of the
wrist was enough to send the ball to first or to third.

"He's got an awfully strong arm," said Don to himself.

"All right, Don," called Ted.

He shed his sweater and went back to the mound. One by one the batters
were called in to hit against him. He watched for Tim's signals, and
tried to put the ball where Tim wanted it. The batters hit him freely.

When the practice ended he was worried. If older players could hit him
like that--

"Forget it," said Ted. "Fielding bunts for ten minutes took a lot of your
sap. You'll go in fresh tomorrow. Isn't that right, Tim?"

"Sure," said the catcher.

"And another thing," said the captain. "Toward the end there you were
shaking your head to Tim's signals and pitching what you wanted. None of
that tomorrow. Let Tim judge the batters. This is his second year against
town teams; he knows their game better than you."

Tim swelled out his chest and swaggered.

"All right," said Don. If Ted thought nothing of the way he had been
batted, why, everything must be all right. He walked home gayly.

"Scout meeting tonight?" his father asked.

"Yes, sir," said Don, and ran upstairs to dress. He wondered if the Wolf
patrol would get another perfect score. He paused in the act of brushing
his hair. A thought that he could not push aside popped into his brain.
Would Tim come spick and span?

Tim, Andy, Alex and Ritter were at headquarters when he arrived, and Tim
was as clean as any.

"We've been inspecting each other," Andy laughed. "Look at those fellows
over there."

The Fox patrol had a box of blacking and a brush, and two scouts were
polishing their shoes. The Eagles had a needle and thread, and one scout,
under the watchful eye of his patrol leader, was sewing on a button.

"This is going to be a fight," Andy went on. "Those scouts are in
earnest."

"That's the way for a scout to be," said Don. The prospect of a struggle
sent a sparkle into his eyes. "We'll have to do that."

"Needles and thread and shoe-brushes?" Tim demanded.

Don nodded.

"Not for me," said Tim. "I'm no kid. Nobody has to tell me to clean
myself."

Don said nothing. Why, he wondered, did Tim seem to take such a delight
in going against everybody else? He was sure now that what Barbara said
was right. Tim was sound at heart. Look how clean he came to tonight's
meeting. And yet--

"Going to get needles and thread and things?" Andy whispered.

Don nodded. Oh, yes; he'd get them. What was the use of letting the other
patrols prepare for the unexpected and doing nothing yourself?

The Scoutmaster's whistle called the patrols to attention. Don gave a
quick glance as his patrol took its station. His heart sank. Bobbie Brown
was not in place.

Mr. Wall walked down the line of scouts. He was halfway through
inspection when Bobbie burst into the room. He checked himself when he
saw what was going on, came to salute, and quietly tiptoed to his
place. But his face was flushed from running, and his hair was awry.

Don hoped Bobbie might be able to make himself presentable before Mr.
Wall got that far. Then common sense told him that that was impossible.
The troop was at attention. Bobbie could not lift a hand even to touch
his hair. He had to stand there stiffly as he was.

The inspection came to an end, Mr. Wall faced the waiting lines. Don held
his breath. _Would_ the Wolf patrol--

"Fox patrol," Mr. Wall announced, "a perfect score. Eagle patrol, all
present, all clean, but one scout talking in ranks, one-half point off.
Wolf patrol, one scout untidy, one scout late, one and one-half points
off."

A moment later the lines were broken. Tim turned to the unhappy Bobbie.

"See what a fine fix you got us in!" he demanded angrily.

"I couldn't help it," Bobbie explained. "My mother didn't know she was
out of sugar, and the man in the store had to open a new barrel, and he
couldn't find his hatchet, and I had to wait."

"You should have gone for the sugar this afternoon," Tim insisted. "The
rest of us take the trouble to come here right and then you spoil
things."

"I couldn't help it," Bobbie said miserably. "I--"

"It's all right, Bobbie," said Don. "Don't let it happen again." He was
disappointed, but what was the use of jumping on a scout who was trying
to do right?

"What's the use of me slicking up," Tim scowled, "if other fellows are
going to do as they please?"

The scout scribe walked toward the slate. Instantly Bobbie and his lapse
were forgotten. Every eye in the room watched while the scribe rubbed out
and wrote. Soon he stepped away from the slate. There was the new
standing:

PATROL   POINTS
Eagle    28-1/2
Fox      30
Wolf     30-1/2

The Wolves were still in the lead, but Don did not feel the least like
cheering. For the next hour, while the troop worked at signaling, and
map-reading, and advanced knot-tying, he did his part and forgot to be
despondent. He even brightened when the logs were brought in and the
theory of bridge building was applied. But when the bridge was done--this
time it held--he lost interest.

"The Wolf patrol--" he heard Mr. Wall say.

He roused himself and listened.

"The Wolf patrol has the assignment of having headquarters clean for the
next meeting," the Scoutmaster announced.

The session was over. Don told his patrol not to forget Monday's practice
and walked out alone. He had gone but a short distance when running
footsteps sounded in his rear.

"Don!" It was Bobbie. "I'm sorry--"

The patrol leader forced a smile. "You only lost us a point and a half,
Bobbie. Maybe you'll get that back in the first aid contest."

Bobbie's mouth tightened. "It won't be because I'm not trying," he said;
and Don went home telling himself that he knew one scout the Wolf patrol
could count on through thick and thin.

Next morning he tried to build bird-houses, but for once he could find no
pleasure in the work. His thoughts were turned on the afternoon. The
Glenrock team had a reputation as hitters, and he wondered, in spite of
what Ted had said, whether he would be able to hold his own.

When Ted had asked him to pitch for the Chester town team, he had
protested that he was only a high school player. Ted, however, had told
him earnestly that many town team pitchers were no better. Besides,
wouldn't it be fine experience to pitch against stronger batters? Weeks
ago that argument had won, but now Don made a wry face.

"Fine lot of experience it will be if they knock me out of the box," he
said.

The game had been well advertised. The Chester _Chronicle_ had carried a
story, and notices had been chalked on the bulletin board at the railroad
station. Don was sure that there would be quite a crowd.

Nor was he mistaken. Early as it was when he came to the field,
spectators were already gathering. Ted, a seasoned veteran, was calm and
undisturbed, but there was a noticeable tension among most of the other
players. Don sat on the rough bench and waited for the signal to warm up.

Presently the Glenrock players arrived. He looked at them closely and his
nerves jumped. Gosh! didn't they look big! And what big black bats!

"All right, Don," said Ted. "Warm up. Take it easy. These fellows can
strike out and pop up flies just as easily as anybody else."

Don tried to smile as he took his place. By this time a solid wall of
spectators ran along the base-lines and down toward the foul flags. There
was another gathering under the maple tree; and out in deep center a
third group lounged on the grass and waited for the call of "Play ball!"

Don began to throw. His first few pitches went wide, and Tim glanced at
him sharply. The catcher was almost as cool as Ted, and to show his
calmness, he began to toss the ball into the air as he caught it and then
catch it again in his bare hand as it came down.

As soon as his arm felt right, Don tried out his curves. His drop, his
best ball, worked nicely, but his in-curve and his out-curve were only
fair. He kept trying them, and became worried, and went back to his drop
and found that he had lost his control of this curve, too. What was the
matter? Was he getting stage fright?

"That's enough," called Ted.

He walked toward the bench. Tim hurried to his side.

"Scared?" the catcher asked.

Don nodded.

"Gee!" said Tim. "I thought you had more nerve than that. Just go out
there and stick it over. You don't see me getting rattled."

"You don't have to serve the ball," said Don.

"No," said Tim; "but I'm the fellow who has to decide what balls they
get. I guess that's some responsibility. You pitch the way I tell you to
and we'll be all right."

Glenrock was still practicing in the field. Don sat on the bench and
watched. They handled the ball well, but not any better than Chester. If
their hitting had been overrated--

"They're through," said Ted. "Come on, Don. Don't get excited now. Watch
Tim's signals and give him what he signals for. We're in back of you."

"That's what I've been telling him," said Tim.

A minute later Don faced the first batter. Tim squatted, rose up on his
toes, stuck his mitt between his legs, laid a finger on the mitt, and
then spread his hands wide.

"Come on, Don," he called. "Easy-picking here; easy picking. Put it right
over."

Tim had signaled for the drop. Don swallowed a lump in his throat. Would
the ball break true? Would this broad-shouldered young man who stood so
confidently at the plate hammer it a mile?

"Come on, now," cried Tim.

Don pitched. The batter swung and missed.

"Easy picking," chanted Tim. "He couldn't hit it with a fence post. Come
on, now."

The second signal was for an in. Don pitched. The batter tightened his
muscles to swing, changed his mind, and allowed his arms to grow limp.
And the ball that looked as though it would be outside the plate,
suddenly broke inward and crossed the corner.

"Strike two!" ruled the umpire.

The batter looked annoyed. And as for Don, a wave of gladness ran through
his veins. His curves were working, and this batter didn't seem to be any
harder to pitch to than some high school players he had faced.

Tim called for pitch-outs on the next two, hoping that the batter would
"bite." The Glenrock player, though, seemed to have become cautious. Then
Don pitched a drop, and the batter hit a bit too high and sent a grounder
toward third base, and was thrown out.

The next batter caught the first ball pitched and hammered it to center
field for a base.

Don's lips twitched. He wondered if the runner would try to steal, and if
he would be too green to hold him close to the bag. Ted motioned him to
play the plate.

Tim signaled for a pitch-out, or waste ball. He pitched.

The catcher had shrewdly judged that Glenrock would try to steal the
moment she got a runner on. He saw the runner break for second. He got
the ball, drew back his arm, and shot the sphere down without rising
from his squat.

It was a beautiful throw, and the runner was out by a yard.

"Try to get fresh with the kid pitcher, eh?" yelled Tim.

"That's turning them back," shouted Ted Carter. "Get this fellow, Don."

Don "got" him on an in-curve that was hit for a puny infield pop.

Glenrock was out. She had had her first inning and had not scored. Ted
came running in to the bench, calling instructions to Chester's first
hitter. Don drew on a sweater and sat down.

"Well," said Ted, "they aren't giant-killers, are they?"

"Tim saved me that time," Don answered. His pulse was still throbbing.

"Sure I did," said Tim. "That's what I'm there for."

Don tried to tell himself that it was only Tim's way to be so cocksure
and chesty; and yet, in a small corner of his brain, was the thought that
it might have been just as well had the runner not been thrown out. In
spite of himself, he was beginning to resent the catcher's air of
superiority.

He admitted that he was lucky to have escaped during that first inning.
But he was not so lucky in the innings that followed. Two runs were
scored by Glenrock in the third, one in the fifth, two in the seventh,
and one in the eighth. Five runs was all that Chester could gather. The
end of the game found her one run behind.

Don was disheartened. He put on his sweater and started to leave the
field. Ted called him, and he waited.

"Down in the mouth?" the captain asked. "Forget it. I knew you'd have
trouble today. You were worried, weren't you?"

Don nodded.

"And yet they beat you only six to five. That's all right. Next time you
won't be so nervous and you'll do better."

"Will I?" Don asked. "You're not fooling me, Ted?"

"Oh, Tim." Ted called to the catcher. "What did I tell you about this
game?"

"That you'd be satisfied if Don held them to a respectable score," Tim
answered. "You told me to hold him up and keep him going--"

"All right," Ted said quickly. He turned to Don. "Does that look as
though I'm stringing you? Next week you pitch against Springfield--and
next week you're going to win."

Don drew a deep breath. A big part of his courage had come back. Now, if
Tim would only stop saying how important _he_ was--

"I know those Springfield batters," said Tim. "I'll signal him what to
throw."

Don turned away. Was Tim going to act like that all summer?

Monday the Wolf patrol had its second first-aid practice. This time there
was no trouble. Tim appeared, and did his work, and then went shouting
and hallooing down the street. Andy Ford laughed and shook his head.

"He's a wild Indian, Don. You can't do much with him."

"I--I can't do anything with him," said Don.

The days that followed were busy ones. There was a rush of orders for
window screens, and he dropped his bird-houses and helped his father.
Twice he went to the field. Once he met Tim there, and Tim caught his
delivery and called instructions in a breezy, high-handed way. Andy Ford
was right, Don thought. A wild, untamed, careless, unthinking Indian!

Friday, in response to Don's orders, the patrol came to headquarters to
clean up for that night's meeting. Tim brought with him an impish,
reckless desire for fun. While the others tried to sweep, he lined up a
string of camp stools and played leap-frog down the length of the
meeting-place, and got in everybody's way.

"Come on, Tim," Don called. "Cut it out!"

"Cut what out?" Tim asked innocently.

"That jumping. You're scattering the dust. Put the stools away and get a
broom."

Tim shook his head, and sat on the nearest stool, and looked as though he
was going to dispute the order. Andy and Ritter nudged him and told him
to be a good sport and help. He looked at them doubtfully, and then,
apparently convinced, he piled the stools in a corner and got a broom.

Only for a short time, though, did he apply himself to the work in hand.
Soon a voice shouted, "Behold a knight of old!" and when the scouts
looked around there was Tim with the broom as a sword and a galvanized
water bucket over his head. Even Don laughed.

Next Tim sent the pail clattering across the floor, and Bobbie had to
jump to avoid being hit in the shins. After that this troublesome scout
insisted on fighting a broom duel with Wally Woods, and a collection of
dirt that had been swept into a pile was scattered right and left.

"Tim!" cried Don.

Tim stopped. "What's the matter?"

"Look at that dirt. We'll never get cleaned up this way."

"Oh, forget it," said Tim. "Can't a fellow have a little fun? I'll sweep
it up again," and he attacked the pile.

Ten minutes later he was chasing Ritter around the room for a piece of
cake, and a pail of water that Andy had just brought in was upset over
the floor.

"Yah!" shouted Tim. "Swim for your life." He swished his broom through
the water and swished too hard, and the dirty water flew far and high and
spattered the walls.

"Now look what we've got to clean," cried Andy.

"Gee!" said Tim. "I didn't know it was going to do that. What did you
want to leave the pail there for?"

"What did you go cat-acting for?" Don demanded.

He was exasperated. He felt like telling Tim to go out and let them
finish the job themselves. But--There was the rub. What would happen
then? Suppose Tim got hot-headed and wouldn't go? Or suppose he went,
glad to be relieved of his share of the job? Or suppose he walked out
sullen and grumbling, and stayed away from the meeting or came late or
came untidy--and the Wolves lost points?

Don was bewildered. He wanted to do what was best--for Tim, for himself,
for the patrol--but what was best? Was it best to let Tim run on in the
hope that he'd be shamed into a better spirit by the other scouts? Phil
Morris would have said, very quietly, "Hey, there, Tim!" and that would
have been the end of it.

Don sighed. "I wish I was as big as Phil," he muttered.

For a time it seemed as though Tim had been sobered by the accident to
the water pail. He worked with Andy trying to clean the walls. It seemed,
though, that there were a thousand spatters.

"Gee!" said Tim. "Mr. Wall surely likes to stick a fellow. This is no
cinch."

"It's your own fault," Andy grunted, trying to reach a high spot.

"Aw! shut up," cried Tim; "you fellows are always preaching. You fellows
never do anything. I'm tired and I'm going to rest."

He brought out a camp stool and sat down. Don bit his lips and went on
working. The other scouts cast covert glances at the stool and its
occupant.

By and by it began to grow dark. The floor had been swept and mopped, but
the walls still had dirty sections and there were the two windows to do.

"We're not going to get this clean in time," said Andy.

Tim stirred from the chair and came over and helped. The light failed
rapidly. The lamps were in the troop "treasure chest," and Don though a
patrol leader, had not yet received a key to the locker.

"No use wasting any more time here," he said at last. "Let's do the
windows."

"Maybe we have the walls all clean," said Andy. Ritter struck a match. By
the feeble flame they looked intently, but could not be sure.

They did the windows. Tim was silent and apparently not anxious to
attract attention to himself. It was almost dark when the last window had
been finished.

"Could we try the walls again?" Bobbie asked.

"Too late," Don answered. "They may be all right. We'll know tonight,
anyway. Everybody on time tonight, and everybody clean."

He walked off with Andy. The assistant patrol leader said after a moment:

"I think Tim's sorry now."

"What good does it do to be sorry now?" Don asked bitterly.

As soon as his supper was over, he hurried back to headquarters. Nobody
was there yet. Presently the patrol leader of the Foxes, a boy named
Kearney, came along, whistling shrilly. He opened the treasure chest and
brought out the lamps, cleaned the chimneys and lighted them.

"Hello!" he said. "Wasn't it the turn of your patrol to clean house?"

Don nodded miserably. One patch of wall, by a window, was a mess. The
windows themselves, cleaned in semi-darkness, were streaked. And some of
the floor, down by the door, had not been mopped at all.

Scouts began to arrive. Bobbie brought a shoe brush and a can of
blacking, and Ritter brought a hair brush and a comb. Andy brought
needles and khaki-colored thread. These things were laid quietly in the
patrol's locker. Nobody said anything about the walls.

By and by Tim arrived. He looked around and his face became red. Don gave
him a quick glance. He met it and his flush grew deeper, and all at once
he seemed to force his shoulders back and his eyes became defiant.

"He's stung, all right," thought Don, "but he doesn't want to show it."

Mr. Wall called the patrol leaders forward to discuss the plans for a
hike. Don scarcely heard the details. All he knew was that somebody said,
"Wednesday, then," and the Scoutmaster's whistle shrilled, and the troop
lined up by patrols.

Slowly the inspection was made--first the scouts, then the room. Don
forced himself to keep his eyes level, but he felt like hanging his head.

"Every scout present," Mr. Wall announced, "and every scout clean. Each
patrol is awarded sixteen points."

Fleeting smiles through the ranks of the Foxes and the Eagles. Sober
faces among the Wolves.

"However," the Scoutmaster went on, "the Wolf patrol had the detail of
cleaning the meeting place. I am sorry to say that the patrol has been
derelict. I am, therefore, compelled to fine the Wolf patrol five
points."

Don's heart was like lead. He knew what the slate would show; and yet,
when it was changed, he stared at it miserably:

PATROL   POINTS

Eagle    44-1/2
Fox      46
Wolf     41-1/2

The meeting was over at last. He ordered his patrol to wait. The other
scouts, looking at the Wolves queerly, went out into the night and
scattered. Mr. Wall passed out.

"Good night, scouts," he called.

"Good night," they answered, and looked at Don.

"We're going to clean this place," he said. "Get some water."

There was a rush for pails. Tim hesitated. He knew he was the cause of
the disaster that had overtaken the patrol, but he had the mistaken idea
that it would seem babyish and weak to jump in and show contrition. He
had always been looked upon as a little "hard." This, he thought, was
soft--and he didn't want anybody to regard him as a softy.

"Aw!" he said, "what's the use? We've lost the points, haven't we?"

"Is that your idea of being a scout?" Don asked.

Tim flushed again. For a few minutes he lounged around; then, looking ill
at ease, he slouched out.

"I didn't think he'd do that," Andy said thoughtfully.

Don's lips had gone a little white. He turned toward the spattered wall
and stopped all at once. For Tim was coming back through the doorway.

"I'm as good a scout as you," Tim said passionately. "If you say I'm not,
I'll bang you in the eye."

Don said nothing. While Tim selected a pail and a floor cloth, Don rubbed
away at the wall. Slowly a little smile spread across his face. He was
quite content the way things had gone. What did five points amount to,
if their loss would make Tim a better scout?



CHAPTER IV

DANGER MOUNTAIN


Next day Don pitched his second game for Chester. His pulse was steady,
his control was good, and the Springfield batters seemed unable to do
much with his drop. When the score-keeper marked the last play and closed
his book, Chester had won 5 runs to 3.

"Didn't I tell you?" Ted Carter cried jubilantly. "Some pitching!"

"Sure," said Tim. "I doped out what the batters couldn't hit, and he
threw me what I wanted."

"There's a lot of pitchers can't do that," the captain said lightly, and
shot a quick look at the pitcher.

Don pretended that he had not heard; but he could not keep the color from
rising in his cheeks. All during the game Tim had seemed to rasp him a
bit--not enough to spoil his work, but enough to keep him on edge.

He had thought, after last night's meeting, that there would be a big
change in Tim. Instead, it began to look as though Tim would continue to
be the same wild, heedless, quarrelsome lad he had always been.

"Today's tussle will give you confidence," said Ted in his ear. "You'll
be able to give them all a fight now."

Don flashed a smile, and then the smile was gone. So was the thrill of
his triumph. It was hard, this thinking you had weathered a storm and
then finding that you hadn't.

At supper Barbara and his father asked him about the game. He told of his
success, but with none of the flash and fire of a conqueror. Barbara
caught his glance and smiled at him understandingly.

"More trouble with Tim?" she asked.

"N--no; not exactly trouble. You see--" And then he related what had
happened last night, and the great hopes that had come, and how Tim had
acted today.

"Don," said Mr. Strong, "do you remember when you learned to pitch an
outcurve?"

"Yes, sir."

"You used to pitch to Alex Davidson out there in the yard. One day you
came running into the shop and shouted that you had it, and I went out to
watch, and you couldn't throw the curve again."

"But I got it again next day," Don said quickly.

"And now you can pitch it any time you want to," said his father.

Don frowned. This was too deep! He saw Barbara smiling and nodding as
much as to say, "Think it out, Don." Suddenly he straightened.

"You mean that because Tim played fair that once--"

"Just the way you pitched your curve that once," said his father.

Don sighed. It was funny how his troubles dropped away when he brought
them home.

Monday there was another patrol meeting. Tim attended, but an imp of
perverseness seemed to rule him. It was the first time he had seen the
patrol as a group since Friday night. At first he looked hot and
uncomfortable. After a while he began to scrape his feet and drum on the
table. He seemed anxious to have it understood that, regardless of what
had happened, no one need think that he was going to be bossed.

"Oh, keep your feet still!" Alex Davidson said at last.

Tim rolled a page of his pad into a ball and shot it across the table.
The missile struck Ritter on the nose. Tim giggled, and made another
ball, and shot this one at Andy Ford.

"Cut it out!" Andy said good-naturedly. "You'll get papers all over the
floor."

Tim grinned, and rolled another cartridge. Don caught his bold, sidelong
glance--a glance that seemed to say, "Well, what are you going to do
about it?"

Others around the table caught that look, too. Don's face grew hot. In an
effort to keep the scouts from paying attention to Tim, he talked rapidly
about the first aid contest, now two weeks off. The Eagles and the Foxes,
he said, were working hard, and the Wolves would have to give more time
to practice.

"We're behind," Don finished, "and we must catch up."

Somehow, what he said sounded strained, and forced, and lame. Every scout
felt it--even Tim. Andy Ford's eyes snapped. He didn't look good-humored
now.

"We're not getting any better on our stretcher work," he said bluntly.
"We need practice there."

Tim stopped rolling his pad page. "That's a crack at me, isn't it?" he
demanded.

"I'm in the stretcher work, too," said Andy.

"Aw, you're too clever," Tim flared. "I know what you mean." He shot the
ball, and it whizzed past the assistant patrol leader's ear.

The meeting was spoiled. Tim glanced defiantly around the table. Alex
Davidson tried to get the talk going again, but discussion seemed to lag.
And then, just when Don, in his disgust, was ready to adjourn, the door
opened and Barbara came into the room.

She had glasses and cake, and a pitcher of lemonade. Soon a filled glass
was in front of each scout.

"How is that for a good turn?" she smiled. "Why so many sober faces?
What's the matter with you, Tim?"

Tim flushed, and looked down at the floor.

"He won't tell me," Barbara cried gayly. "That's what I get for being a
girl--can't learn any boy scout secrets. Have a piece of cake, Tim."

"Thank you," said Tim bashfully.

The plate was passed around the table. Tim's eyes were still downcast. At
the door Barbara paused.

"Don't leave those papers on the floor, boys," she said. "Next time I
come in I want to see you all smiling."

Tim ate his cake and drank his lemonade. The talk started again, a little
brisker now, and a little more hopeful. Plans were made for two practice
periods during the week.

"Will that be all right for you, Tim?" Don asked.

"Don't worry about me," the red-haired boy answered shortly. "I'll be
there." He arose, went around to the other side of the table and stooped
to pick a paper ball from the floor.

A soft smile touched Andy's mouth.

"Aw! what are you laughing at?" Tim cried.

"I'm not laughing, Tim," Andy protested. "Honest."

But, for all that, Tim was furious when he left the meeting. The others
stood on the porch and chatted a moment; he strode out the gate and down
the dark road.

"Gee!" he said in disgust. "They'll think I'm a little Janie."

Letting a girl make him do things! It stung his pride. Friday night he
had said no, and had changed his mind and had scrubbed with the others.
Tonight he had grinned when told about papers on the floor--and had ended
by picking them up.

Everything had gone wrong, Tim told himself, since Don had become patrol
leader. He began to blame Don for all his troubles. Don had upbraided him
when the patrol had lost points. It was at Don's house that Barbara had
made him pick up papers. His cheeks burned.

"I'll show them!" he vowed wrathfully. He would redeem himself in the
only way he knew. He would "start something."

He started it by picking at Don all during next day's practice.

"What's the matter with you?" Ted Carter demanded sharply. "Are you
sick?"

"Don's pitching like a freak," Tim answered.

"It's Saturday's pitching that counts," said Ted. "You fellows have had
enough warm-up. Go out in the field, Don, and catch fungoes."

Don was glad to get away. When the work was over Ted ran to the outfield
and took him by the arm and led him toward the road.

"Have you and Tim been scrapping?" the captain asked.

Don shook his head.

"You fellows are in the same scout troop. Do you pull?"

"N--no."

"What's the matter; did Tim want to be patrol leader?"

Don nodded.

Ted slapped his glove against his thigh and whistled thoughtfully. At the
corner he paused. Don halted, too.

"Look here," Ted said suddenly. "You know that Tim is a harum-scarum,
don't you?"

"Everybody knows that," said Don.

Ted broke into a relieved laugh. "Well, if you know it, what's the use of
paying any attention to him? Just let him beef along until he gets tired.
He can't hurt you."

Don tried to wrest some comfort from the captain's words--and failed.
True, Tim couldn't hurt him, but he could make things mighty unpleasant,
and that was almost as bad.

At home he found a post-card from Mr. Wall:

The troop will assemble tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock. Light marching
order.

Don forgot all about Tim. Light marching order meant that this would not
be an overnight hike, and a blanket was unnecessary. Haversack, cooking
kit and rations for one meal would constitute the load.

Ordinarily, hikes were arranged in advance and discussed at troop
meetings. But sometimes Mr. Wall did the unexpected. He had said once
that it added spice to scouting, and the scouts had agreed. It gave them
practice, too, in assembling at a few hours' notice. But the scouts did
not think of that.

Don hustled upstairs and overhauled his haversack. His eating things were
in their places. Frying-pan and two sauce-pans intact, can-opener,
matches, salt--

"Got to get some salt," he said, and ran downstairs to the kitchen.
Barbara called that supper was ready. He scooted upstairs, washed, and
came down to the dining-room.

"Hiking tomorrow?" Mr. Strong asked.

"Don will be too excited to eat," Barbara said with a laugh as Don nodded
in reply to the question.

But she was mistaken. Don ate a supper of healthy size. Afterward he went
out to the porch and squinted up at the sky. Stars dotted the black
heavens like so many small windows. Now, if it didn't rain--

It didn't; not during the night, anyway. Don awoke with the morning sun
in his face. In a moment he was out of bed and into the bathroom. Twenty
minutes later he was downstairs.

His breakfast was merely a bite and a promise. There were too many things
to do and too much to think about! What should he take along to cook at
noon?

"There's some lamb chops in the ice-box," said Barbara.

Two of the chops went into the haversack. Then potatoes, and six slices
of bread, and some coffee wrapped in a paper, and a small can of
evaporated milk. He strapped the haversack, and suddenly remembered that
he had forgotten salt, after all, and unstrapped it again. Barbara stuck
in two apples, and by the time the load was slung from his shoulder,
whistles and calls sounded from the gate.

Andy Ford, Ritter and Bobbie Brown were waiting impatiently. Bobbie was
sure that they would be late, and kept saying that everybody knew that
Mr. Wall started promptly on the minute. Don winked at the others and
led the way toward troop headquarters.

They were not late. Mr. Wall's watch, hanging from a screw hook in the
door, told them that they still had ten minutes. Don opened the patrol
locker.

"Who'll carry the ax?" he asked.

"I will," said a voice.

He turned. Tim Lally was waiting with outstretched hand.

"Oh!" said Don uncertainly. Tim took the tool and strapped its leather
sheath to his belt. He seemed to have forgotten all about his grouch.

Everything was noise and bustle and confusion. The Eagles and the Foxes
were grouped in front of their patrol lockers. There were cries of, "Hey,
Jimmy! what did you bring to cook? What did you bring, Charlie?"

Suddenly the silver notes of a bugle arose above the clamor. Assembly!
Lockers were banged shut. Scouts scurried outdoors and fell into their
places.

"Column twos," came Mr. Wall's voice. "Forward! March!"

Tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp, sounded eager feet. Down to Main Street and
then to the left. Alex Davidson waved to them from the door of the
grocery store.

"I wish Alex were with us," Don said wistfully.

"I guess Alex wishes he was, too," Andy answered. "But nobody'll ever
catch him wearing a long face just because he must work. He isn't that
kind."

The troop approached the turnpike.

"Column left!" came the order.

They knew where they were going up--up toward Gipsy Grove. The place had
gotten its name from the fact that whenever a gipsy tribe came to the
neighborhood it pitched its tents there. It was an ideal camping ground,
with plenty of firewood, a clean, running stream, and just enough open
timber to let the sunlight through.

Presently they were away from the village and out in open country. The
discipline of the march was dropped. In a straggling, merry line they
moved along.

Twice the Scoutmaster called rest halts, and each time there was a short
talk on roadside flowers, and trees, and weeds. The morning wore away. By
and by the sun was almost directly overhead, and Gipsy Grove was at last
in sight.

There was a race to see which patrol could get all its fires going first.
Each scout was to cook for himself.

"I'll chop," cried Tim. "Somebody get my fire going." His strong,
muscular arms made short work of the dry dead wood that littered the
ground under the trees.

"We win," shouted the Foxes. But their last fire went out as it was
lighted, and a flustered scout prepared to try again amid cries of, "Not
more than two matches." This time his wood took the flame. But now the
Eagles and the Wolves also had their fires going. Mr. Wall declared the
race a triple tie.

Haversacks were unpacked. Frying-pans and pots were dragged forth.
Potatoes were laid among hot coals.

Mr. Wall had chopped some wood and had his own fire going. Now he walked
among the boys.

"You're getting your fire too big," he warned Bobbie. "You don't need
much of a blaze to cook."

"How's mine?" said Tim.

"Fine!" said the Scoutmaster. "Keep it that way."

"Sure," said Tim. "I'll show some of these other fellows how to do
theirs."

Andy Ford gave a low groan. "Good night; now we're in for it."

Tim wasted no time. He approached Ritter. That scout eyed him
suspiciously.

"You let my fire alone," he warned.

"Go chase yourself. Mr. Wall told me to show you fellows--"

"Tim!" Don chided.

Tim flashed the patrol leader an angry glance. "I said I was going to
show the fellows, didn't I? He didn't tell me not to. Anyway, Ritter's
fire sprawls out too much. Wait until I get a stick. Now, all you have
to do is to pull out these pieces, and--"

"You're raking out my potatoes," cried Ritter.

"It won't kill you to put them back," said Tim. He tossed the stick away
and turned toward Bobbie.

"Your fire's all right now, Bobbie," Don said distinctly.

Tim turned up his nose and faced in Wally Woods's direction. But Wally's
fire, small and compact, gave him no excuse to tinker. He advanced to
where Andy Ford was preparing to fry his meat.

"Gee!" he said. "That sure is one sick-looking fire."

"Suits me," said Andy. He laid the meat in the pan.

Tim began to prod the fire with his foot. The flame, which had been low
and even, began to flare and smoke. Andy dropped his frying-pan and
sprang forward.

"Get away from there," he cried. His rush caught Tim and pushed him back.
Then the red-haired boy braced, and there was a scuffle. Andy's fire was
scattered.

"What's the meaning of this?" came Mr. Wall's voice.

Instantly the boys separated. Andy hung his head as though ashamed. Tim
carried an injured air.

"Andy pitched into me," he complained.

"He was interfering with my fire," Andy answered.

"I wasn't. I was only showing him."

"Andy is a first-class scout," said Mr. Wall quietly. "If he doesn't know
how to build a fire and cook a meal I have blundered as Scoutmaster in
awarding him his first-class badge."

Tim looked away. This was putting the whole thing in a new light. He dug
the toe of one shoe into the ground, and kept twisting and turning it
nervously.

Mr. Wall's voice softened. "You go off the handle too quickly, Tim.
You've ruined Andy's fire. What do you think you should do--the square
thing?"

"I'll finish my cooking over Don's fire," Andy said quickly.

Mr. Wall never made the mistake of continuing a lecture to the point
where it lost its force. He knew when to stop. This flurry was over.

"All right, scouts," he said, and went back to his own cooking. Tim
shuffled off and squatted down beside his own blaze.

Andy rounded up his potatoes. They were cold and discouraged looking.

"I've enough potatoes for us both," said Don. "What kind of meat have
you?"

"Sausage."

"Gosh! That ought to be fine. Let's go whack--half my lamb chops for half
your sausage."

Soon eager nostrils were sniffing the glorious odor of sizzling meat
touched with the tang of wood smoke. Don and Andy finished their cooking
in silence. They began to eat. All over the camp scouts drew together and
pooled their rations. Tim Lally sat by his fire, alone.

"He's beginning to look good and sore," Andy said in a low voice.

Don glanced toward the red-haired scout. Tim caught his eye and made a
derisive face, and then turned his back and began to whistle as though he
was having a gloriously good time.

But Don was not fooled. Tim was lonesome. He felt that he was frozen out.
But what could Tim expect if he was going to antagonize everybody?

By and by cooking utensils were cleaned and put away. The fires were
smothered. Haversacks were slung across strong young shoulders. The troop
marched away.

Up a winding road the scouts went, sometimes singing, sometimes shouting
boisterously, sometimes silent. Suddenly they came out in a clearing.

To the right was Danger Mountain; to the left was Lonesome Woods.

The scouts spoke in subdued voices. Danger Mountain! They all knew how it
had come by its name. A man had tried to climb one of its high, rocky
walls and had fallen to his death.

And Lonesome Woods. There was another name to make scouts edge closer to
one another. Three miles wide it was, and about seven miles long, and
dark and dense with thick growth. The gipsy caravans kept away from it.
Passing tramps gave it a wide berth. From time to time boys dipped into
its edges, but soon came out. Lonesome Woods, indeed!

"We'll have to explore that some day," said Mr. Wall.

"The mountain?" Tim asked eagerly.

"The woods," the Scoutmaster answered.

A shout broke from the troop. With Mr. Wall along there would be nothing
to fear. When would they go? Next week?

"We'll take it up at Friday night's meeting," the Scoutmaster promised.

"Why can't we do the mountain?" Tim demanded.

"Because Danger Mountain is a bad spot. Broken bones are a heavy price to
pay for foolish daring."

Tim stared off at the mountain. "It doesn't seem so hard," he said, and
his eyes lighted with eagerness. Mr. Wall's face became grave.

The hike home was all downhill. The scouts swung along gayly. The
prospect of penetrating Lonesome Woods shortened the miles. What would
they find? What strange adventures would befall them?

"Adventure? Piffle!" said Tim. "Give me Danger Mountain."

"Sssh!" warned Ritter. "Mr. Wall will hear you."

"Gee! Can't I even say what I'd like?" Off in the distance a dog barked.
Tim barked in reply. The dog answered. It became a duel of sound.

Tim was in his glory. Weird, nerve-racking screeches came from his
throat. Presently the uproar became unbearable.

Mr. Wall's whistle shrilled. The noise stopped.

"What's the matter back there?" Mr. Wall demanded. "Can't the patrol
leader keep order?"

"Cut it out, Tim," said Don.

"Go on!" Tim answered sullenly. "Say it louder so Mr. Wall will hear
you." He slouched through what was left of the hike and did not speak a
word to anyone.

"He surely can make things pleasant," said Andy. "Some day he'll go too
far and Mr. Wall will bundle him out of the troop, and it will be good
riddance."

Don said nothing. He wanted to be relieved of the burden of Tim's
trouble-making, but not by expulsion. That, he thought, was no way for a
fellow to end as a scout. If Tim would only be a little bit more like the
other fellows in the patrol!

But the chances of Tim doing that seemed remote. He had his good
moments--times when it seemed that he had struck the right road and was
on his way to better things. Always, though, something happened to turn
him aside.

Next day there was baseball practice. Don came to the field eager for a
warm-up. He nodded hopefully to Tim, and took his place, and noticed that
Ted Carter was loitering near by.

"Come on," cried Tim. "Let's see if you can do a little better pitching
today."

Don bit his lips. Evidently, Tim was in one of his sour, irritating
moods. He served the ball and resolved to pay no attention to the
catcher. By and by he threw his first curve.

"They'd kill that," said Tim.

Don pitched again.

"Oh, come on! _Come on!_"

Ted Carter walked out between the boys, "That will be all from you, Tim.
When you come out on this field, you come out to play ball. If you can't
play ball, you quit."

Slowly Tim pulled off his mitt. He was the only regular catcher. Ted was
trying to bluff him. And his temper was flaring because he had been
rebuked in front of Don.

"Think you can get anybody to play any better for you than I play?" he
asked flippantly.

"You bet I can," said Ted. "I can use a fellow who'll be in the game
every minute."

"Get him," Tim said indifferently.

"I will," said Ted. "You're through. Get off the field."

Tim was jarred. He hadn't expected anything like this. He looked at Ted.
There could be no escaping what he saw--the captain meant it.

"Where--where are you going to get another catcher?" he asked weakly.

"Is it worrying you?" Ted asked. "I'll go behind the bat myself. I guess
I can get somebody to play first base. Now get off the field; you're in
the way."

Tim walked over to the maple tree and stood there in its shade. He was
raging. Chased from the field! Routed out as though he didn't amount to a
rap, and he the best catcher in the village!

"I'll play with some of the other teams," he vowed. "I'll offer to catch
for them. I'll come here and make these fellows feel sick. I'll--"

But he knew that he'd do nothing of the sort. Breaking into teams out of
your own town was almost impossible. He was out of it, on the shelf,
discarded.

"I ought to go out there," he muttered fiercely, "and whack Don one in
the eye." He saw the pitcher begin to throw to Ted. The sight was too
much for him. He swung around and plunged down the road, the big mitt
under his arm, and did not once look back.

Had he stayed, he would have seen that Ted Carter called the pitching to
a halt in a very few minutes. The captain was no fool. The first six
balls Don threw him proved to him that the pitcher was upset.

"Don't let this bother you," he said. "Tim had it coming to him. It
wasn't your fault. Go home and forget it, and tomorrow you and I'll work
out and get acquainted."

Don went home, but he did not forget. He was sure that this latest twist
would only pile up trouble for him as patrol leader.

Next morning the news was all over the village. Don heard it when he went
on an errand for his father. Afterward he worked on his bird-houses and
tried to brush aside the worried thoughts that plagued him. Andy Ford
came to the yard, and was followed by Bobbie Brown and Wally Woods. The
three boys looked at Don, and looked at each other, and looked away.

"Was Tim chased?" Andy asked at last.

Don laid down his plane. "Fellows," he said seriously, "if you hear any
talk about Tim just--just keep your mouths shut. Talk always makes things
worse and--and we're after the Scoutmaster's Cup."

The three boys nodded that they understood. There wasn't much to say
after that. One by one they went their way and left Don alone.

Late in the afternoon he went to the field. He did not see Tim, and at
once a weight seemed taken from his heart. He pitched to Ted. His control
was better now, and presently he found himself enjoying the work. His
curves broke well, and Ted kept calling, "That' a boy, Don; that' a boy!"
and he felt a thrilling desire to give Ted the best he had. Tim never
made him feel like that.

Next night came the troop meeting. He wondered if Tim would carry his bad
temper so far as to come carelessly dressed. Evidently others shared his
anxiety, for as soon as he reached headquarters Andy asked him anxiously
if Tim would be "all right."

Tim came to the meeting as clean as any scout in the troop. The patrol
leader of the Foxes had left the key of his locker at home, and Fox
patrol scouts who had expected to brush their shoes before the meeting
was called found themselves face to face with a difficulty.

The "fall in" signal came all too soon for the flustered Foxes. Quietly
Mr. Wall walked down the line of stiff-backed, silent boys.

"A perfect score for the Wolves," he said. "Four points off the Foxes for
untidiness. Two points from the Eagles for a scout absent."

Up went the new standing:

PATROL   POINTS

Eagle    58-1/2
Fox      58
Wolf     57-1/2

"Gosh!" breathed Andy. "We're close now, aren't we?"

"It's all in sticking together," said Don. In spite of himself his voice
trembled. He looked at Tim. The trouble-making scout was staring at the
board with puckered eyes. Don would have given much to know of
what he was thinking.

There was a lot of work that night--knot-tying, drowning grips and how to
break them, identifying leaves from trees and bushes, and map reading.
Finally that part of the meeting was over. A voice cried, "How about
Lonesome Woods?" There were cheers and shouts.

There wasn't much debate about the trip. There was, however, a hot
wrangle about the day. Finally it went to a vote, and Thursday was
selected.

"Gee!" said Tim. "I bet that will be a great hike."

The meeting adjourned. A scout of the Eagle patrol caught Don's arm.

"What team do you pitch against tomorrow?" he asked.

"Little Falls," said Don.

Tim's face lost its animation and grew dark. He walked toward the door.
And Don, watching him, wondered why it was that fellows were always asked
questions at the wrong time.

By this time Don knew that Tim, whenever anything peeved him, could be
counted on to display a reckless streak. For a moment this worried him;
then he brushed the thought aside. He was always fretting about Tim,
and nothing serious was ever happening.

He had planned to mow the lawn and spade the flower beds next morning. It
was well that he went early to his task, for at ten o'clock Ted Carter
came for him.

"You had better come to the field," the captain said. "No pitching--just
a little throwing to bases. I've dug up a fellow named Marty Smith to
cover first. I want you to get used to each other."

Don evened off the flower beds, carried the raked-up grass around to the
chickens, and put the gardening tools away.

"Dinner at twelve sharp," Barbara called after him.

At first he felt odd, throwing to the bag and not finding Ted there. He
made some crazy tosses. But Marty's long reach always saved him, and
Marty's cheery voice kept calling, "That's the stuff; that's what will
get them."

Another first-baseman, Don thought, would be scolding about the throws.
His heart warmed to the newcomer. He began to feel at home. His throws
steadied and became sure.

"That's enough," Ted called. "Nobody'll get much of a lead on you
fellows. Now for some fielding."

Don walked over to the shade of the maple tree. Intent on watching the
field, he did not notice the small figure that took a place at his side.

"Hello, Don," said a voice.

"Oh! Hello, Bobbie! What's the matter, you look worried?"

"I'm all right," Bobbie said hastily.

Don turned his eyes to the field. Even though his interest was completely
absorbed, he thought, subconsciously, that the boy at his elbow was very
restless.

By and by the dwindling tree shadows warned him that it was time he
started for home. He walked out to the road. Bobbie walked with him.

"Going my way?" he asked.

"Y-yes," said Bobbie. They passed one corner, then another.

"I--I want to ask you something," Bobbie said haltingly. "If a scout
knows that some other scout is going to do something--something
dangerous, maybe--is it blabbing if he tells?"

Don stopped short. "Who's doing something dangerous?"

"Is it carrying tales?" Bobbie insisted.

Don thought a moment. "I don't think so, Bobbie."

"But when a fellow tells about other things--"

"Could you stop this scout from doing something dangerous if you told?"
Don asked.

"I--I think so."

"Does he know it's dangerous?"

Bobbie nodded slowly.

"Then you ought to tell," said Don.

Bobbie looked at the ground. "Tim Lally is getting up a party to go to
Danger Mountain today," he said.

A shiver ran through Don's nerves. "Where's Tim now?" he asked.

"Home, getting ready."

Don turned back toward the ball field. Past the maple tree he strode. A
factory whistle sounded the noon hour. He broke into a run.

Two blocks farther on he stopped short. Tim was coming toward him
carrying an oil can.

"Are you going to Danger Mountain?" Don demanded.

Tim put down the can and cocked his cap over one eye. "Sure. Why?"

"You can't. Mr. Wall said it's a bad spot."

"He didn't say we couldn't go."

"That's what he meant."

"How do you know?"

"Everybody knows. That's why he won't take us there. He said you could
get broken bones."

"I'm not afraid." Tim picked up the can and swung it carelessly. "I guess
Mr. Wall was trying to scare little fellows like Bobbie. He didn't mean a
big fellow like me."

Don knew that arguing with Tim would be useless. And yet, as the
trouble-maker stepped around him, he made a last plea.

"You'll get the patrol in trouble, Tim, and we're only one point behind
the Eagles."

"I knew you weren't worrying about _me_," said Tim.

Don followed slowly. He had pleaded for the troop thinking that that
might win where all else had failed. And, as usual, Tim had
misunderstood.

At the corner he paused. New thoughts were crowding through his brain.
Tim's recklessness was jeopardizing not only himself--it was threatening
the entire troop.

Suppose he fell and broke an arm, or a leg, or--or worse. People would
say, "There; that's what comes from letting boys become scouts and go
hiking." Boys would be taken from the troop. The troop might even break
up. All Mr. Wall's plans for the future would be ruined.

"It isn't fair," Don told himself bitterly. "If there was somebody who
could make him stay home--"

His eyes puckered and his mouth grew tight. He had told Bobbie that this
wasn't carrying tales. It wasn't. Suddenly he turned to his left and went
up a side street.

A few minute's later he rang the doorbell of a plain, pleasant-looking
house. The screen door opened.

"Good afternoon, Donald," said a woman's voice. "Are you looking for Mr.
Wall?"

"Yes, Mrs. Wall." Don's cap was in his hand. "Is he home? Could I see him
right away?"

Mrs. Wall shook her head. "He went to the city this morning. I do not
expect him until evening. Is there anything I can do for you?"

"N-no," said Don. He went down the stoop, stumbling on the last step, and
walked slowly toward home.



CHAPTER V

A PLEA ON THE ROAD


Dinner was almost over when Don reached home. Barbara brought his food
from the kitchen where she had kept it warm.

"Didn't you hear me say twelve sharp?" she scolded.

Don told of Bobbie's message, of his interview with Tim, and of his
fruitless trip to Mr. Wall's house. Barbara, engrossed in the tale,
dropped into her own seat and listened intently. Mr. Strong shook his
head soberly.

"Going to Danger Mountain will be a foolhardy trick," he said.

"I wish Mr. Wall were home," said Don. He had lost appetite for his
dinner and pushed his plate away. "I did right to go to him, didn't I,
dad?"

"You'd have been foolish not to go," said his father.

Don stared hard at the tablecloth. He had entered joyously on his duties
as patrol leader, but one disagreement after another with Tim had
roughened his road. And now--now that he seemed powerless to stay this
latest folly--he suddenly felt very, very tired.

"Why will Tim be so headstrong?" cried Barbara.

"It's a way some boys have," Mr. Strong explained. "Tell them not to do a
thing, and immediately that is the one thing they want to do. As for
Tim--Well, I fancy he's disgruntled because Ted Carter dropped him. He
doesn't want to sit around and watch baseball today. He probably figured
that the best way was to go off and pretend he didn't care. If he could
add spice to the going off, it would make it seem all the more as though
he was really having a good time."

"And won't he have a good time?" Barbara asked.

"No boy really enjoys himself, when he knows he's doing wrong," Mr.
Strong answered.

Don roused himself from his dull, discouraged mood. "Is there anything I
could try, dad, to stop him? Just one more trial?"

"You might take him by the back of the neck and tell him you're boss."

"I would," Don said slowly, "if I were able."

He went upstairs and got into uniform--all except his spiked shoes. He
would put those on on the porch where there was no carpet to rip and
tear. He went over to the window and looked down at the yard. Nothing was
there but grass, and hedge, and a small bed of flowers. And yet he saw a
steep side of Danger Mountain, and khaki-clad boys climbing that steep
side and missing their steps.

"Twenty minutes of two, Don," Barbara called.

He carried the spiked shoes down to the porch. He was angry now. Why
should he worry when he had done the best he could? He _wouldn't_ worry.
He'd pitch his game and have a good time. If Tim wanted to get hurt, that
was his funeral.

In this mood he walked to the field. The practice had already started. He
gave the Little Falls players a casual glance. Visiting teams no longer
worried him--not before the umpire's cry of "Play ball!" anyway. He had
had his baptism of fire. He was a veteran.

"I was just going to send somebody to look you up," said Ted. "Everything
all right? Good! Shoot away."

Thoughts of Tim came, but Don thrust them aside and shook his head
stubbornly. What had happened was no fault of his. He had done his best.
Now he was going to enjoy himself.

"Great stuff," said Ted when the warm-up was over. "Sting them in like
that during the game and there'll be nothing to it."

Don laughed and walked toward the bench. His eyes scanned the spectators.
It was just possible that Tim had changed his mind--

"I don't care whether he did or not," the pitcher muttered hotly. He drew
on a sweater and took a seat on the bench, and stared out toward center
field.

By and by it was time to start the game. Ted cried, "Come on, now;
everybody get into this." Don dropped his sweater on the bench and walked
out toward the mound.

The Little Falls coachers began a sharp rattle of talk. Don glared at
them coldly. Up went his arm--and down.

"Strike one!"

Don pitched again. The batter hit a twisting, difficult fly, but Marty
Smith ran back and caught it deftly.

"Yah!" cried Ted. "That's getting them."

It was clever fielding. Don seemed to catch the contagion of its worth.
Why, with support like that a pitcher ought to do wonders. He pitched
again.

"Strike!" ruled the umpire.

"Wow!" Ted said softly. "He surely has stuff on the ball today."

Two more pitches, and the batter was out on strikes. The next player
fouled to Ted. Little Falls' first turn at bat had been a sorry failure.

Cheers came from the spectators as Don walked to the bench. Somebody
yelled, "Take off your hat, kid." He flushed, and doffed his cap, and sat
down with crimson face.

"Come on," cried Ted. "Give Don a run and this game will be sewed up."

But it wasn't until the third inning that Chester tallied. Then she
scored three runs in a rush. Ted led off with a three-bagger. After
that came a single, an out, a base on balls, another out, and a long
two-bagger. Marty Smith, with the crowd imploring him to keep up the good
work, struck out on three pitched balls, and not one of them was worth
offering at.

"Too bad," said Ted. "If that fellow could only hit he'd be a star."

Meanwhile, Little Falls had not yet scored. Nor did she tally in the
fourth. Don, today, was master of the situation.

He came to the bench. Up to this point, the touch and go of battle had
held him at a tension. Now, with the game comparatively safe, he relaxed.
He paid attention to things he had been too busy to notice before--the
afternoon shadows, for instance.

The shadows told his practiced scout eyes that it was about four o'clock.
Unconsciously he began to figure. If Tim had started at one o'clock, he
should have reached Danger Mountain an hour ago--

"Here!" Don told himself abruptly. "I must stop thinking of this."

Chester scored two more runs. He went out, jauntily, to pitch the fifth
inning. Before he had hurled three balls he knew that something was
wrong. He had lost the razor edge of pitching perfection.

He staggered through the fifth inning without being scored on, but it was
ticklish work. Little Falls hit him hard. With the bases full and two
out, Marty Smith sprang sideways, made a blind stab, scooped the ball and
touched the bag for the third out.

Cries of chagrin came from the Little Falls bench. "Oh, you lucky dubs,"
called one of the coachers. "That was horseshoes."

Don smiled mechanically. It was his turn to go to bat; and after he was
thrown out he came to the bench and fought stubbornly to keep his
thoughts on the game and away from Tim.

Grimly he stuck to his task. When it came time to start the seventh
inning, he was almost master of himself. He found his drop ball working
again.

"Yah!" cried Ted. "Here's where we get in the game again."

Little Falls, following that turbulent sixth inning, expected to go right
on with her hitting. Instead, her batters found themselves once more
helpless. Three players stepped to the plate and were thrown out in
order.

Don's spirits had risen. He walked toward the bench with a springy
stride. The spectators in back of third base began to cheer. He glanced
at them with a smile--and then his face sobered.

Bobbie Brown was pushing his bicycle hurriedly along in the rear of the
watchers. His attitude said plainly that he had come with a message.

Don walked past the bench and waited. Bobbie came directly to him.

"Tim just started," he said. "He had to do chores for his mother and
couldn't get away earlier."

"It will be almost dark when he gets there," Don cried.

"Tim went just the same," Bobbie answered. "He told the fellows they
could hurry and get there before sunset, and then start back after taking
a little look around."

Don could understand harum-scarum Tim refusing to give up a plan. But as
for his companions--

"What fellows are with him?" he asked. "Not scouts?"

Bobbie nodded,

"Any from our patrol?"

"Ritter."

Don caught his breath.

"There's a scout from the Foxes and one from the Eagles, too," said
Bobbie.

But Don could find no consolation in the fact that other than Wolf patrol
scouts were derelict.

"I think they wanted to quit," Bobbie went on, "but Tim jawed them--you
know--and they went along."

Don could find no comfort in that, either. The inning was over. It was
Little Falls' turn to go to bat. He took a few steps toward the diamond,
and paused.

"Come on, Don," called Ted.

He turned back. "Wait here with your bike," he said quickly. "Have you a
wrench? Raise the seat."

There was no use pretending that he did not care. And his duty, he
thought, was clear. He could ride after Tim and overtake him before he
had gone very far. What sort of patrol leader would he be to let two of
his scouts break faith with the Scoutmaster and not fight to the very
last to bring them back? For it was breaking faith. Mr. Wall had not
dreamed that they would do anything like this.

He was on fire now for the game to end. In his eagerness he began to
pitch wildly. The first batter got a base on balls.

Ted walked down to him. "Steady, there; you're pitching too fast."

Don saw that if he gave bases on balls he would prolong the struggle.
Though it was torture for him to go slow, he fought his desire to hurry.
But it was impossible to lose himself in the game. The edges of his skill
were blunted. Little Falls began to hit freely again.

Two runs came over the plate before the third player was out. The score
was now 5 to 2.

"Arm tired?" asked Ted.

Don shook his head. Why wouldn't the batters hurry? When the third
Chester boy was thrown out he sprang to his feet and strode to the mound.

Desperately he worked, trying to retire Little Falls' batters in order.
But Little Falls, in that last inning, had tasted blood. Now she would
not be denied. Three runs were scored. The game was a tie.

Ted came to the bench with puckered eyes. Here was something he couldn't
understand. It was a common thing to see pitchers gradually weaken, but
Don had lost his effectiveness all in a moment. He dropped down on the
bench and motioned for Don to sit beside him.

"What's wrong?" he demanded.

"Nothing," said Don. What was the use of worrying Ted, he thought.

He had not deceived the captain in the least. Ted leaned back and sighed.
He knew that here was a ball game that was lost.

The ninth inning was a slaughter. Little Falls scored four times. Each
hit, each run, made the game last that much longer. Don labored grimly to
reach the end.

Ted asked him no questions when he came in from the mound. In fact, the
captain only half-heartedly urged his players to make a rally. The
leaderless, dispirited team fell easy victims to the rival pitcher's
curves.

The moment the last player was out, Don hurried to where Bobbie waited
with the wheel. He threw one leg over the frame. His foot found the
toe-clip.

"Got your scout whistle?" he asked.

Bobbie handed it over. Don thrust it in his pocket and was off.

Shading his eyes, Bobbie watched wheel and rider fly down the road. A
hand touched his shoulder.

"What's Don rushing off for?" Ted asked.

Bobbie told about Tim's journey to Danger Mountain. Ted's eyes snapped.

"Think Don'll catch him?" he asked.

"Sure he will."

"I hope," said the captain, "I hope he gives him a beating to remember."

But Don, as he pedaled down the road, was not thinking of fight. Into the
Turnpike he raced at an angle of forty-five degrees. The dry dust sifted
up from under the spinning tires. It powdered his legs, and burned his
eyes, and parched his throat.

Half an hour later he came to where Christie's Brook crossed the Pike. It
was clean water, and safe. He threw himself on his stomach and reached
down with his lips. His whole body cried out to him to drink, drink,
drink. But he was too wise a scout not to know the dangers of such a
course. He rinsed his mouth and throat, and swallowed a few drops,
mounted again and rode off.

Another twenty minutes, and he came slowly to the top of a ridge. Down
below dark forms moved along the road. He gripped the handle-bars hard
and coasted.

A few minutes later he had almost reached them. They heard the whir of
his chain and looked back. Then they stopped.

"It's only Don," Tim said carelessly.

Ritter shrank back as though he wanted to hide.

Up to this point Don had thought only of overtaking the hikers. Now he
was face to face with the problem of what he should say to them. He laid
his bicycle at the side of the road and advanced with fast-beating
heart.

"How many of you scouts told Mr. Wall you were going on this trip?" he
demanded.

"Wasn't necessary," Tim answered promptly. "Mr. Wall didn't say we
couldn't go."

"Mr. Wall didn't expect that any scout would go."

"How do you know what Mr. Wall expected? Did he tell you?"

It was a losing argument. Don could see the other scouts looking at Tim
and nodding their heads as though agreeing with his logic--all except
Ritter, who was looking at the ground.

Don's mind worked feverishly. They were scouts. They were breaking the
scout law that said that a scout was trustworthy. He tried to grasp words
that would make them feel what he felt, but the words would not come.

"We can't stay here all day," Tim hinted.

The sound of a locomotive came faintly. Perhaps it was the train bringing
Mr. Wall back from the city. All at once Don's mind, groping, searching,
caught the first vague outline of an idea.

"Wait a minute, fellows." His eyes were on fire. "If you thought Mr. Wall
would have no objection to a Danger Mountain hike, why did you wait until
you got him out of the village?"

"What do you mean by that?" Tim asked suspiciously.

"Why did you wait until he went away for the day and then sneak off on
this hike?"

Indignant cries broke from Tim and from the scouts. They had not known
that Mr. Wall had gone to the city. Ritter caught Don's arm.

"Is Mr. Wall away today, Don? Honest?"

"Yes."

"How do you know?" Tim asked.

"I went to his house at noon to tell him about this hike."

Silence fell over the group. The scout from the Eagle patrol took off his
hat and fanned his face.

"Mr. Wall won't think we sneaked off just because he was away," he said
uneasily.

"Why shouldn't he think it?" cried Don. One of the party was weakening,
anyway. He pressed his advantage. "You fellows know what he said on the
last hike--that Danger Mountain was a bad place. And the moment he leaves
town, a bunch of scouts start for the mountain. How does that look?"

It looked distinctly bad. Tim's carelessness vanished.

"Well," he demanded of Ritter angrily, "what are you looking at me for?
_I_ didn't know he had gone to the city."

The hikers were demoralized and leaderless. The right word now--

"Fellows," said Don, "let us show Mr. Wall that he can leave the village
as often as he pleases and not have to worry about a single scout of
Chester troop."

Ritter took a step toward him. But the others were still just a bit
uncertain.

Don almost held his breath. There was nothing more for him to say. He ran
a nervous hand into the pocket of his sweater. His fingers closed on some
cord, and something round and hard. Bobbie's whistle!

He put it to his lips and blew a long, shrill blast.

It was the voice of authority--the scout signal for attention.
Instinctively the boys straightened and looked alive.

"We're going home," said Don. "We're going to show that a scout is
trustworthy. Forward!"

An air of suspense seemed to come down over them there in the road. Don's
pulse throbbed. Would they obey?

"March!" he ordered. The die was cast.

Three of the boys swung forward. Tim stood with his feet spread apart,
frowning and glum. Presently, when the others had gone several hundred
yards, he hunched his shoulders sheepishly and slowly followed after.



CHAPTER VI

SPROUTING SEEDS


Don had pitched a full game that day. He was tired. Yet, as he slowly
rode the bicycle, he scarcely felt the weary complaint of his muscles.

A great peace lay over the road. The air was soft with summer's glory.
Faces that had been turned toward Danger Mountain were now turned toward
Chester, and that made all the difference in the world.

At first the journey back was something like a funeral. Tim shuffled
along in the rear. Ritter and the two other scouts had nothing to say.
Then by degrees the tension wore off. Tim still clung to the rear, but
the others began to laugh and to talk.

Half way back to town they saw a man in the distance riding toward them.

"Isn't that Mr. Wall?" Ritter asked anxiously.

It was Mr. Wall. Tim hurried up from the rear. He wanted to be where he
could hear what was said when scouts and Scoutmaster met.

Mr. Wall seemed to be riding hard. Suddenly, as he saw them, his pace
slackened.

"He's going to dismount," said Ritter.

"He's waiting for us," said the Eagle patrol scout.

Their steps unconsciously became slower, Don jumped from the bicycle and
walked with them. He studied Mr. Wall's face. Did Mr. Wall know?

He had gone to the Scoutmaster's house that morning ready to tell. Now,
though, he thought he faced a different situation. He was sure that the
Danger Mountain hike had been blocked--not for today alone, but for all
the days of the future. To bring it up again would be like trying to
re-heat a stale pie.

He had faced the situation alone. By luck--he called the use he had made
of Mr. Wall's absence a lucky stroke--he had conquered. What had happened
had been among scouts. They had settled it among themselves. He felt,
dimly, that a great lesson had been learned. Maybe it would be better to
leave things as they were.

The Scoutmaster's greeting was cheery. "Hello there, hikers! How did you
find the going?"

Ritter and the others glanced at one another sideways.

"Pretty dusty," Don said promptly.

"That's how I found it. How far did you go?"

"About a mile past Christie's Brook."

"Who was the star cook?"

"We didn't cook anything today."

"Cooking ought to be a part of every hike," the Scoutmaster said
pleasantly. He felt his tires. "I guess I've worked up an appetite for
supper. I'm going back. Want to ride in with me, Don?"

The patrol leader of the Wolves hesitated. Did Mr. Wall suspect something
and intend to question him?

"I--I guess I'll stick with the fellows," he said.

Mr. Wall called a good-by and rode off. A few minutes later his
retreating figure was outlined against a patch of bronze evening sky.

Ritter drew a deep breath. He hadn't exactly expected Don to tell, and
yet--

"Phew!" said the Eagle patrol scout, "That was a close shave."

"Close shave nothing," cried Tim, "He's wise. Four scouts in uniform, and
a patrol leader in baseball clothes and spiked shoes, and riding a
bicycle. What does that look like?"

"Well, what does it look like?" Ritter demanded.

"It looks as though somebody jumped on a bicycle and rode after us, you
gilly."

"Gee!" said the scout from the Eagles. "Mr. Wall will want to know--"

"Mr. Wall doesn't go snooping around," cried the scout from the Foxes.

"And Don could have told him right here, had he wanted to," said Ritter.

Tim said nothing. The march home started again. Don, embarrassed, rode
far in the van. Twice, looking back over his shoulder, he saw Tim
trudging with the others, but with his hands in his pockets and his head
bent thoughtfully.

For the second time that day Don was late for a meal. His father, his
mother and his sister Beth had gone off to a church social. Barbara gave
him his supper; and while he ate, he told her how the scouts had turned
back when they learned that Mr. Wall was away.

"They must be all right at heart, Don," said Barbara.

"Of course they're all right," said Don.

Barbara went out to the kitchen for a piece of cake. He sighed, and
relaxed in his chair, and waited. It seemed that she was gone a long
time. Suddenly he gave a start, and jerked open his eyes, and looked up
to find her shaking his shoulder.

"Better eat your cake tomorrow, Don. You're falling asleep."

He stumbled upstairs and went to bed. As he lay there, on the borderland
of sleep, his thoughts drifted back to Tim walking with the others with
his hands in his pockets--the way no scout who was alert and alive should
walk.

"Wonder what Tim was thinking about," he muttered sleepily.

Tim had been thinking about a boy who could have made it hot for him--and
who hadn't. He had expected Don to tell. He had hurried forward ready to
argue heatedly in his own defense. And instead, Don had plainly tried to
shield him.

He slouched his shoulders with an air of hard toughness, but deep inside
he felt small and cheap. He was used to wrangling and boisterous striving
for what he wanted. Yet, for all of his roughness, a finer streak of his
nature could, on occasion, respond to fair dealing. Squareness--being
white--was something he could understand. Don had been white.

He found himself wishing, as he walked along, that he had never started
the hike. He had seen Mr. Wall's eyes travel in his direction as though
picking him out as the ringleader in whatever mischief had been afoot. He
wondered what the Scoutmaster thought of him.

"Aw!" he told himself uncomfortably, "I'm a mutt."

For the time being, at least, his hot blood was chastened. He had gone
off that afternoon and had left several chores undone. When he reached
home his mother scolded and his father threatened. It was no new
experience. Nevertheless, he finished the neglected work in silence, and
in silence he ate his supper.

It had begun to dawn on him that he was spoiling things for himself. He
wasn't getting any fun out of scouting. He had been banished from
baseball. If Ted Carter stayed behind the bat, and if he didn't get
another chance to play--

"It's coming to me," he said, and his eyes blinked.

The time he had ruined Andy's fire Mr. Wall had said, "What do you think
a scout should do--the square thing?" He was confronted with the same
question now. What should he do--the square thing?

All of Sunday he wrestled with the problem. Monday afternoon he went to
the field early. He was the first boy there. He sat under the tree; and
when he saw Ted coming, he stood up slowly and went forward to meet the
captain.

"Say, Ted, any chance for me to get back?"

Ted glanced at him sharply. "Get back for what?"

"To play ball."

The captain tossed him the mitt. "Sure. Here comes Don. Catch him. No
curves--he worked nine innings Saturday. Just a little warm-up."

It was an awkward moment for Tim. He was not used to knuckling under. He
swallowed a lump in his throat; but Don acted as though there had never
been a change in the team. Slowly his restraint wore away. The other
players took him back without question; nobody mentioned Saturday's
disastrous game.

Tim went home from the practice whistling shrilly. There was a patrol
meeting at Don's house that night. He arrived on time. The others talked
eagerly of the first aid contest that was scheduled for Friday night. For
once he listened without trying to break into the conversation and
monopolize it, and gradually a little frown of worry wrinkled his
forehead.

The dining-room table was pushed up against the wall.

"No fooling tonight, fellows," said Don. "Let's see how much work we can
do."

Tim worked as faithfully as any of the others. In a corner Don and Ritter
practiced with splints, and over by the bay window Wally and Alex did
their bandaging. He and Andy and Bobbie had the center of the floor for
artificial respiration, stretcher work, and fireman's lift.

He worked feverishly. Something whispered to him, "Why didn't you work
hard before? You're too late now." Presently it was nine o'clock and the
work was over.

"How does it look?" Don asked eagerly.

"All right here," said Wally.

Tim and Andy were silent. Don's eyes clouded.

The meeting broke up. The boys passed out through the hall calling back
good night. Andy stayed behind.

"Tim's going to fall down," he said bluntly, "and fall down hard."

Don slowly returned the bandages to the first aid kit. "He was trying
tonight."

"Sure he was--tonight. Why didn't he try at the other meetings and cut
out his fooling?"

Don closed the kit and pushed it aside. "If he practiced a couple of
times this week--"

"How are you going to get him to practice?" Andy demanded.

"Ask him."

"Mackerel! Ask _him_ to do extra work? Can't you imagine what he'll tell
you?"

Don could imagine it without much trouble. But he remembered how his last
appeal, when everything seemed lost, had stopped the Danger Mountain
hike. It cost nothing to try. He had no love for the job of intimating to
Tim that his work was not satisfactory. And yet was it fair for him to
keep silent? Was it fair to those scouts who had labored with a will?

He went out to the porch and lifted his voice. "Tim! O Tim!"

An answering cry came faintly.

"Now for the fireworks," said Andy.

Tim came through the gate and advanced as far as the porch steps.

"How about you and Andy and Bobbie practicing a couple of times before
Friday?" Don asked.

There was a long interval of silence.

"All right," said Tim at last. He swung around and walked out the gate.

"Mackerel!" said Andy. "I thought he'd go up in the air."

Wednesday morning Tim practiced at troop headquarters. Thursday
afternoon, as soon as the baseball drill was over, he practiced again.
Friday morning he was even ready for more; but that morning Bobbie had to
weed the vegetable garden in back of his house and could not come around.
Tim went home vaguely disappointed.

That afternoon, at the baseball field, he played a butter-fingered game.
He could not hold the ball, and his throws to bases were atrocious.

"Hi, there!" called Ted. "Go take a walk around the block."

Tim was frightened. "Don't you want me to play tomorrow?"

"Sure I do. Tomorrow you'll be all right. This is your bad day. Go off by
yourself and get the air."

Tim went off to the maple tree and sat down. And by and by he found
himself wondering, not what kind of baseball he would play on the morrow,
but whether he would be good or bad in first aid that night.

He came to troop headquarters after supper with a queer, nervous feeling
in the pit of his stomach. Outside, the Eagles were making one last
hurried practice of the business of making a coat stretcher. Tim wished
he could do a little practicing, too; but when he went inside and joined
his patrol, he shrank from asking Andy and Bobbie to work with him.

The hands of the clock crept around to the hour of eight. The Eagles came
inside. Mr. Wall called the patrol leaders.

"We don't want any lagging or fooling," he announced. "Have your scouts
move lively."

"Yes, sir." The leaders went back to their patrols and repeated what the
Scoutmaster had said.

Mr. Wall's whistle shrilled. The bugle sounded "To the Colors." Fifteen
minutes later the inspection was over. Each patrol had a perfect score.
The result was marked on the board:

PATROL   POINTS

Eagle    74-1/2
Fox      74
Wolf     73-1/2

It was now time for the contest. An air of tension ran through the troop.
Each patrol kept to itself. There was a deal of husky excited whispering.
Of all the Wolf patrol, Tim alone was silent. The muscles of his mouth
twitched. How he wished he could have back those afternoons he had
wasted!

"Scouts!" called Mr. Wall.

The room became silent.

"First in each division of work," he said, "will count five points,
second three points, and third one point. The patrol having the greatest
number of points at the finish will have five credits to its blackboard
score; the second patrol, three points; the third patrol nothing. Two
things will count, speed and neatness--and, oh yes, care. I say speed,
but I also warn you to use your heads."

Use their heads? What did that mean? But before the scouts had much time
to think about it, the first event was called.

This was bandaging. Two scouts from each patrol stepped forward, ready.
Wally and Alex represented the Wolves.

"Arm sling," called Mr. Wall.

Quickly, deftly, the slings were made. There was little to choose, it
seemed to the watching scouts.

"Head bandage," called the Scoutmaster.

Again there was quick work. But this time the Fox boys slipped a moment.
Warning calls came from their patrol. Bobbie yelled a "Go it, Wally." The
Fox scouts finished only a second behind the others.

"Broken collar bone," was the next command.

This time one of the Eagles dropped a bandage. There was a shout from the
scouts. The shouting increased as the Fox bandager fumbled the binding
knots. Wally worked coolly and rapidly. He was the first to finish in
this particular test.

"We're going to get bandaging points sure," cried Andy. "Bully work,
Wally; bully work."

"Foot bandage," said Mr. Wall.

The three teams finished only seconds apart.

The triangular bandage was now discarded.

"Spiral bandage," ordered Mr. Wall.

Here, for the first time, Wally ran into trouble. The bandage became
flabby. Quickly he pulled it apart and began again. The Fox and Eagle
patrols jumped to their feet and pleaded for their respective teams to
hurry. Wally calmly ran the bandage up the calf of Alex's leg.

"Finished," cried the Foxes and the Eagles.

"Finished," cried Wally.

"Gosh!" whispered Bobby. "His bandage looks neater than theirs."

Then came a spiral reverse, and after that a complete spiral for all the
fingers. When this last job was finished, Mr. Wall smiled, as though well
pleased.

"Pretty work," he said. "That will be all." The contestants walked back
to their troops, and he figured on a pad.

"Wonder if he'll tell us now," whispered Bobbie.

"Of course he will," Andy answered. "That's what makes things exciting,
knowing that you are behind or ahead--"

"Sssh!" Don cautioned.

"I'll award the points now," said Mr. Wall. "Later you can look over my
scoring pad and see how I scored each individual test. Wolf patrol five
points--"

"Wow!" yelled Bobbie.

Andy dug him in the ribs. "Shut up, you shrimp. Want Mr. Wall to put us
out?"

But Mr. Wall only smiled at the excited scout. "--Eagles," he went on,
"three points, and Foxes, one point."

The Foxes seemed glum. The Eagles clamored about their patrol leader. Don
felt like dancing.

"Fine start," he said to Tim; and Tim nodded and swallowed a lump in his
throat.

He was used to having his pulse throb during the heat of a baseball game.
He was used to the wild urge to win that stirred him on the diamond. But
the breathless anxiety that ran through him now was something new. He
ached to get in and do something for his patrol.

Splints came next. This time Don and Ritter represented the Wolves. Mr.
Wall's first order was for a broken thigh.

The watching scouts were silent. All three teams worked rapidly. There
was a hush as the Scoutmaster examined the patients.

"Too tight," he said when he examined Ritter's thigh.

Tim squirmed in his seat. Don took off the splints and looked down at the
floor.

Broken leg splints came next, then broken arm splints, and then applying
a tourniquet. On this the Eagle scouts failed dismally. Don and Ritter
came back to the patrol.

"How does it look?" Andy demanded.

Don shook his head. He was afraid of that first tight splint. It was no
surprise to him when Mr. Wall gave first place to the Foxes. But his
heart leaped as he heard the Wolves rated second.

"We're ahead," Alex cried jubilantly. He pushed a paper in front of Don's
eyes.

Wolf      8
Fox       6
Eagle     4

Tim wet his lips. His turn was next--his, and Bobbie's, and Andy's.

"Artificial respiration," called Mr. Wall.

Bobbie lay on the floor, face down, and stretched his arms above his
head. Andy held his wrists lightly. Tim knelt astride the prone figure
and placed trembling hands between the short ribs.

Mr. Wall, holding a watch, walked back and forth. Tim's heart thumped.
Would he go too fast or too slow? He wondered how the other patrols were
making out, but he dared not look. Presently the Scoutmaster called,
"That's enough," and he scrambled to his feet.

"Gosh!" Bobbie said ruefully. "You surely put some pressure on."

"Wonder how we made out," said Andy.

Tim wondered, too. When the call came for a demonstration of fireman's
lift, he shut his teeth hard. He wouldn't fall down on this!

Two minutes later the lift was over.

"You were quicker than any of them," cried Andy in his ear.

"Stretchers," called Mr. Wall. "Lift the patient in and stand at
attention. Patients must not help themselves. Got your staves? Ready?
Go!"

A yell burst from the watchers.

"Go on, you Eagles!"

"Chew them up, Foxes; chew them!"

"Faster, Tim; faster!"

Tim's coat was off and on the staves. His fingers fumbled with the
buttons.

"I'm ready," came Andy's voice. "Ready, Tim."

His fingers hesitated. Were the buttons all right? He saw the Eagle
stretcher-makers begin to straighten up. He swung around to Bobbie.

"All right, Andy, lift him. Up! Now down on the stretcher. Quick! There
go the Eagles. Lift it. _Lift it!_"

They lifted their burden. Mr. Wall came down to inspect.

"Buttons out," cried a voice from the watchers. "Buttons out on the Wolf
stretcher."

It was true. Tim's coat, under Bobbie's weight, had popped open. Tim's
face turned fiery red. Was he always going to be the fellow who made his
patrol lose? Why hadn't he made sure of those buttons instead of taking a
chance?

"Maybe some of the others have coats open," Bobbie whispered.

But none of the other coats were open.

Somebody cried that the contest was over. The scouts formed a pushing,
excited ring around Mr. Wall and the stretchers. The Scoutmaster shook
his head gravely.

"I'm afraid I cannot make a decision yet. Each patrol has excelled in
some one thing and has done poorly in some other."

The pushing and the clamor ceased.

"One more test," Mr. Wall added.

The scouts fell back. The big moment of the night had come. This next
event would probably seal the doom of some one patrol.

"Each team," said Mr. Wall, "will go to the rear of the room down near
the door. At the word it will make its stretcher, lift in the patient,
and bring him to me as though I were the doctor. Understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"Clear the room."

The watchers pushed back along the side wall in a straggling line. There
was no such thing now as each scout keeping with his own patrol. Eagles,
Wolves and Foxes found themselves hopelessly mixed. Don squeezed in next
to Alex Davidson.

"Look at Tim," said Alex.

Tim's lips were stern. Here was _the_ chance. The palms of his hands
began to sweat. If they could win this--

"Watch your buttons," whispered Andy.

"Go!" came the word of command.

This time Tim took no chances. His fingers were cold, and every nerve
cried to him to go faster, faster, faster, but he forced himself to make
sure that every button was snug. Then he hitched forward on his knees
and helped Andy.

"All right," Andy cried excitedly. "Get him by the shoulders, Tim."

It took them but a moment to lay Bobbie in the stretcher. Tim sprang to
the front of the staves, Andy to the rear. They swung the stretcher from
the ground.

"'Ray for the Wolves!" cried Wally's voice.

All Tim thought about was getting to Mr. Wall with his burden. He broke
into a walk that was almost a run.

"Look at the Wolves!" The cry could be heard above the noise. "That's no
way to carry an injured person."

Tim looked around, startled. What was wrong? He saw the Eagles and the
Foxes carrying their loads slowly, with precious care. All at once he
understood. Oh, what a blunder he had made!

He slowed up abruptly. He could hear tense voices shouting that the
Wolves were out of it. He came to a stop in front of Mr. Wall.

The scouts rushed forward from the wall. Somebody's hot breath was on his
neck and a squirming elbow was poked in his side. He did not look around.
Mr. Wall's whistle shrilled, and the gathering became quiet.

"I am glad this happened," the Scoutmaster said. "I do not mean I am glad
because a patrol has failed, but glad because now the lesson will be
driven home. An injured person must always be carried carefully. That's
what I had in mind when I said speed would count, but that I wanted
you to think."

Tim's cheeks burned. There was more to what Mr. Wall said, but he
scarcely heard. The points were awarded--Fox patrol, first; Eagles,
second; Wolves, last. Bobbie slipped out of the stretcher and Tim turned
away forlornly.

Don gripped his arm. "That gives us second place, anyway, Tim. The Foxes
have 11 points, and we have 9, and the Eagles have 7."

But Tim could take no comfort. He had fallen down again. Bonehead! That's
what he was--a bonehead!

The blackboard was changed:

PATROL   POINTS

Eagle    74-1/2
Fox      79
Wolf     76-1/2

"Gosh!" cried Bobbie. "Before inspection we were third, and only one
point behind first place. Now we're second and two and a half points
behind. Funny, isn't it?"

Tim didn't think it was funny at all. His scout honor, not yet fully
awake, throbbed with a sense of guilt. Every other fellow in the troop
had worked hard. Even Alex, after finishing in the grocery store, had
worked at night. And yet in spite of how hard they had tried, his lapse
had blackened every one of them, just as though they had been skulkers
and shirkers.

Just staying around where the others were made him hot and uncomfortable.
While the room rang with cheers for the victorious Foxes he slipped out
of the door and melted away in the darkness.

Suddenly the fact that he was sneaking away struck him like a blow.
Sneaking away! He stopped. With a careless, cocky swagger he had always,
before this, stood up to his troubles.

"I'll go back," he said defiantly. "I'm not afraid."

He wasn't afraid. That was true. If any fellow there had threatened to
punch his head he would have peeled off his coat in an instant. He was
not scared of physical force; but he was afraid of what every scout in
the room might be thinking--that Tim Lally had spoiled things again.

He leaned against a tree, pulled a tender twig, and chewed it
thoughtfully. He could see the glowing windows of troop headquarters,
and a bright light streamed out through the open door. Shouts, and
cheers, and laughter, came faintly to his ears. The whole troop seemed to
be having a good time congratulating the victor without envy. He was the
only boy who had slipped away.

All at once, as he watched, a great longing arose in his heart to be like
other scouts. He was tired of being picked on, and blamed for everything,
and spoken of with a doubtful shake of the head. Once he had not minded
these things. Now he hungered wistfully for his share of what scouting
had to offer: fun, and whole-hearted work, and--and respect.

The noise became subdued. The scouts began to leave. One group, talking
excitedly, passed him and he drew back behind the tree.

Then a man stepped out through the doorway and came his way. Tim drew a
quick breath and walked out into the roadway.

"Hello, Mr. Wall."

"Hello, Tim. Coming my way?"

"Yes, sir."

They fell into step.

"It was my fault the Wolves lost tonight," the boy said huskily.

"Anybody can make that mistake--once," Mr. Wall told him.

"It was my fault," Tim said stubbornly. What he wanted to say next didn't
come so easily. "How--" He hesitated. "How does a fellow get to be a
better scout?"

Mr. Wall's hand fell on his shoulder. "Tim, it's all in the way a fellow
handles the laws and the oath. If he lives up to them, he's all right.
He's a real scout."

"But if I had somebody to go to when I got stuck--"

"Go to your patrol leader, Tim. He's the one to help you."

That night, long after going to bed, Tim lay awake. Well, if speaking to
Don was the right way, he'd do it.

But it wasn't easy. When he reached Don's yard next morning, he sat on
the grass and tried to scare up courage to say what was in his mind.

"Signaling contest next month," Don told him, "Were you there when Mr.
Wall made the announcement?"

Tim shook his head.

"Three kinds," Don explained; "telegraph, semaphore, and Morse. Which can
you do best, Tim?"

"I don't know."

"Andy and Wally are down for telegraphy. How about you and Alex Davidson
taking Morse?"

Morse was harder than semaphore. Tim didn't want to fail again. Neither
did he want to dodge something just because it was hard.

"Alex works," he said hesitatingly. "If I had somebody to practice with
in the daytime--"

Don's heart leaped. Could this be rough-and-tumble Tim?

"I'll practice with you now," he cried. "Wait until I get flags."

A minute later he was out of the house. Tim went down near the gate. They
began to wig-wag.

At first the work was rusty. By degrees, though, as they corrected each
other's mistakes, smoothness came and a measure of speed.

Tim's eyes danced. Gee! but wasn't this fun? He wig-wagged, "Don't give
up the ship," and was delighted when he found that his sending had been
so sure that Don had caught every letter.

By and by Bobbie appeared and leaned over the gate.

"Hello, Tim," he called.

Tim nodded shortly. He was too much engrossed in what he was doing to
have thought for anything else. Don sent him, "Give me liberty or give me
death." He stumbled and slipped through the words, threw his cap on the
grass and yelled to Don to send it again.

Factory whistles sounded, and Barbara called that dinner was ready. Tim
put down the flag regretfully and mopped the sweat from his face. It was
Saturday, and this afternoon the nine had a game. But as he turned toward
the gate, baseball was very, very far from his thoughts.

Bobbie joined him on the sidewalk. Tim strode off briskly, and Bobbie,
shorter of leg, almost had to run.

"Getting ready for the signal contest, Tim?"

Tim nodded.

"I bet you won't make any mistakes next time."

Poor Bobbie meant no harm, but it was about the worst thing he could have
said. From Andy, or Alex, or any of the bigger scouts, Tim would not have
minded so much. But to have little Bobbie hold up his shortcomings was
like drawing a match across sandpaper.

"Gee!" Bobbie rattled on; "aren't you glad Don is going to show you how
to do things?"

"Say," Tim said ominously, "you shut up and run along or I'll twist your
ears around your head. Go on, now." He gave the astonished boy a push.
Then, scowling blackly, he passed him and went down the street with steps
that had lost their lightness and their spring.



CHAPTER VII

CROSS CURRENTS


In the days that followed, Tim became as restless as a caged animal. He
had had a taste of the fun of being a real scout. He knew the
dissatisfied emptiness of not pulling with his patrol. He wanted to play
fair, but his high-strung nature could not shake off the dread of having
anybody think that Tim Lally could be led around by the nose.

That morning's signal drill with Don had opened the door to a strange,
delightful country. He tried to find the same zest when they practiced
again. It was gone. Suspicious thoughts sneaked through his brain,
whispering, "Maybe Don likes this because it gives him a chance to be a
big fellow."

He had spells of moody silence during which he was dissatisfied with
himself and his whole small world in general. The news of what he was
doing had spread through the patrol. The third time he worked with Don,
Andy, Ritter and Bobbie all watched from the fence.

After he was gone there was a hubbub of excited talk. Gee! Tim was
getting to be a peachy scout, wasn't he! Don took the signal flags and
walked thoughtfully toward the cellar. He had begun to notice a change.

Two days later Tim came back by appointment. His work was listless and
dead. The next time he did not come at all. That evening Don met him on
Main Street.

"I guess I can do all right now working nights with Alex," Tim said
uneasily.

"All right," Don agreed. "Any time you want to come around, though--" He
waited, but Tim said nothing.

Don went home feeling rather blue. "I suppose he'll start scrapping with
everybody all over again," he muttered.

But he was wrong. Tim went his way moody and silent, but with no chip on
his shoulder. He came to the next troop meeting clean and tidy, and on
time. Each patrol won a perfect score. The blackboard read:

PATROL   POINTS

Eagle    90-1/2
Fox      95
Wolf     92-1/2

"Still two and one-half points behind," Don sighed. Wasn't it hard to
catch up? If the Wolves could win the next contest on signaling--But he
wasn't going to think of that, now that Tim had become balky.

The other scouts spoke of it, though. Alex said earnestly that Tim was
really practicing this time. Andy grinned and said that the Eagles and
the Foxes had better watch out because they were heading straight for
trouble. Don walked with them and said not a word.

Five days later the patrol awoke to the fact that Tim no longer practiced
in Don's yard. Andy and Bobbie came around and sat on the front stoop
with the patrol leader.

"Mackerel!" said Andy, "but he's a queer fish. Was there any scrap?"

Don shook his head.

"Didn't he say anything?"

Another shake.

"Just quit, eh?"

Don nodded.

Andy whistled softly, took a scout whistle from his pocket and examined
it. "How is that going to hit our signaling chances?" he asked.

"Alex says Tim works all right with him," Don answered.

"That's all right, but--" Even Bobbie knew what he meant, that the
right kind of stick-together was better than all kinds of practice.
"Something must have bit him," Andy went on. "If he liked practicing
here at first--He did like it, didn't he?"

"You bet," said Bobbie. "Even if he did push me and tell me to run
along."

Andy sat up straight. "When was that?"

"The first day he practiced here. I asked him wasn't it fine to have Don
showing him--"

"Oh!" Andy said softly.

"He liked it all right," said Bobbie.

Neither of the other boys made any comment. By and by Bobbie went off.
Don looked at his assistant patrol leader.

"Think that could be it?" he asked.

"Maybe." Andy puckered his eyes. "How is he on the ball field; all
right?"

"Fine. His hitting won last Saturday's game."

"Maybe it isn't that," Andy said doubtfully. He was so used to Tim being
grouchy when anything displeased him that he could not grasp the thought
that perhaps there had been some little change.

By this time the troop contest had every scout on his toes. Friday
night's meeting saw each patrol win another perfect score. Don decided
gloomily that there wasn't much chance to get ahead by being clean and on
time for roll call--every scout in the troop was clean and on time. It
was the monthly contests that would decide the winner of the
Scoutmaster's Cup.

Before going home he studied the changed figures on the blackboard:

PATROL   POINTS

Eagle    106-1/2
Fox      111
Wolf     108-1/2

"Tim's doing fine on signaling," said Alex in his ear.

Don drew a deep breath. Well, maybe everything would be all right, after
all.

Next day the Chester nine played St. Lawrence. It was touch and go from
the start. Now Chester led; now the visitors led. The eighth inning found
Chester in front by a 6 to 5 score.

All during the game Don had felt the strength of Tim's support. Not once
had the catcher's playing faltered. Don, waiting on the bench, allowed
his thoughts to wander. If Tim would plunge into scouting like that--

"Come on, Don," called Ted Carter. "Ninth inning."

The first Chester batter doubled. Instantly all stray thoughts were swept
from Don's mind. The next player fouled out. Then came a long fly to the
right-fielder and the runner ran to third after the catch. Any kind of a
dinky hit would score the tying run.

Don pitched to the batter. Without shifting his position, Tim snapped the
ball to third base. The runner, caught asleep, scrambled frantically for
the bag.

"Out!" ruled the umpire.

The game was over. Don ran to the bench.

"Pretty work, Tim," he cried.

"I guess I don't need anybody to show me how to play baseball," said Tim.

Don paused in the act of reaching for his sweater. Tim's eyes met his, a
bit uncertain, a bit defiant. Ted Carter, laughing and happy, romped in
between them.

"You fellows are one sweet battery," he cried joyously. Other members of
the team crowded around the bench. Tim, with his mitt under his arm,
walked away.

Slowly Don buttoned his sweater. Tim's change of heart was a mystery no
longer.

At the edge of the field he found Andy Ford waiting.

"Mackerel!" cried the assistant patrol leader; "wasn't that a corking
game? When Tim made that throw--Hello! What's the matter?"

"Tim's sore because of what Bobbie said."

"How do you know?"

Don related what had happened at the bench.

"Well, the big boob!" Andy gave a snort of anger. "Doesn't he know any
better than to pay attention to a kid like Bobbie?"

"Tim's always been that way," said Don. "He's sensitive."

"Sure; but he isn't sensitive about his patrol, is he?"

Don sighed. No; Tim wasn't very sensitive about that.

After supper he came out of the house and walked down to the fence. He
had an idea that Andy would be around; and when presently the assistant
patrol leader came down the dark street, he held open the gate. They sat
on the grass and talked in low tones.

"I've doped it out," said Andy. "Why don't you shift--you and Tim do the
Morse instead of Tim and Alex?"

Don shook his head--slowly.

"Why not?" Andy demanded. "If you worked with him and let him do things
his own way wouldn't he get over his grouch?"

"I don't know. Would he?"

"Sure he would. Suppose some day when we were all hanging around you
asked him to show you how to do something."

"Gee!" cried Don. "That would get him, wouldn't it?"

Andy grinned. "I guess we'll tame that roughneck, what?"

Don always rested his arm after a game. He had not planned to go to the
baseball field until Tuesday. But his business with Tim was too important
to wait. Monday afternoon he put away his tools and his bird-houses, and
went off to the village green.

"Hello!" called Ted Carter. "What are you doing around here on a Monday?"

"I want to see Tim," Don answered. He took the catcher off to one side.
"We're making some changes," he said. "Alex will work with Ritter on
semaphore signaling."

Tim's eyes grew suspicious. "Who'll work with me on Morse?"

"I will," said Don.

Tim's eyes snapped. "So that's the game, is it?" he asked darkly. "What's
the first order I get; practice tomorrow?"

"That's up to you," said Don. "When do you want to practice?"

Tim was taken aback. He had expected to be told, not asked; ordered, not
consulted. He mumbled that tomorrow would do, and went back to practice.
He could not get his thoughts back on the work. Once, when the ball was
traveling around the bases, his attention wandered, and when somebody
threw the sphere home, it almost struck him in the head.

"Let's call it a day," cried Ted Carter, "before Tim gets killed."

Tim smiled absently. He looked around for Don. The patrol leader was
gone. He walked away slowly, turning one question over and over in his
puzzled mind. What new trick was this, anyway?

Next morning he went around to Don's house. He was still sure that
something had been hidden, and that at the proper moment the surprise
would be sprung. He was watchful and cautious.

The practice ran its course serenely. Barbara came out, and after
watching awhile, wrote a four-word message and asked Tim to send it. Don
received it without a mistake.

"Isn't that splendid?" she cried. "The Wolf patrol will surely win points
in the signaling, won't it?"

"We'll give them a fight," said Don.

Tim said nothing. But the fire to be something more than the Wolf patrol
failure began to burn again. When the last message had flashed back and
forth, he handed Don his flag.

"We'll get down to real work after this," said the patrol leader.

Ah! So here was the trick. Tim waited.

"Sending messages back and forth," Don went on, "is all right while we're
brushing up the code. We know the code now. It's time to begin to
specialize for the contest. One of us will have to do nothing but send,
and the other nothing but receive."

Still Tim waited.

"Which do you want to do, send or receive?"

"I--I'll send," said Tim. He felt like a boy who had squeezed his fingers
in his ears and had waited for a gun to go off, and had then found that
the gun was not loaded. He was bewildered, lost, confused.

Wednesday he came again. And still there was no bossing, no giving
orders, no high hand of authority. Perhaps there was no trick.

"Ah!" Tim told himself, "there must be. Why did he shift me here? Why
didn't he let me stay with Alex? There's a reason, all right."

And so, whenever he and Don were together, on the baseball field or in
Don's yard, he found himself weighing every word and act.

Friday night's meeting brought no change in the score. Each troop, eager
and keen, reported faultlessly. The blackboard read:

PATROL   POINTS

Eagle    122-1/2
Fox      127
Wolf     124-1/2

Tonight there was silence when the scores were posted. The contest had
grown too tight for mere noise and bluster. A false step now by any
patrol might drop it hopelessly to the rear. When Mr. Wall's commands
still held the scouts in ranks, the faces they turned to him were
boyishly sober.

"I am going to keep a promise," the Scoutmaster said, "that I made some
time ago. Next week's meeting will be held in Lonesome Woods."

The sober faces were suddenly aglow.

"Attention!" came the low voices of the patrol leaders. The ranks stood
firm.

"It will be part of an overnight hike. We will leave here Thursday
afternoon at one o'clock."

A quick murmur--then silence.

"The signaling contests will be held in the woods. Break ranks."

The pent-up enthusiasm swelled up in a wild cheer. The Scoutmaster found
himself pushed and jostled. A dozen boys tried to shout questions at
once. He laughed and covered his ears with his hands. When he brought
them away Don spoke quickly:

"How about telegraphy, sir?"

"Each patrol will bring its own wire and rig its own instruments," was
the answer.

Why, this was just like war--signaling from hidden places, and running
telegraph wires over tree limbs and across the ground.

Tim's adventurous blood quickened. The troop meeting seemed tame and
prosaic. He went through his setting-up exercises mechanically. He could
almost smell the tang of a wood fire burning.

There was work tonight in identifying leaves and barks of trees, and
stems of plants. Tim twisted restlessly. The moment the meeting was over
he followed Don down the room.

"How far apart will they put us in the woods?" he demanded.

Don didn't know.

"We'd better get out among some trees and practice," Tim said.

The suggestion was good. Don said so. Tim's face flushed.

Patrols were clamoring around their patrol leaders. How much wire would
be needed? Tim went back to where he had left his hat. And there, on his
way out, Mr. Wall paused a moment.

"How's everything, Tim?"

"All right, sir."

"Good!" The Scoutmaster's hand ran gently over his head. Their eyes met.
There were no questions of, "Did you go to your patrol leader, Tim?" Mr.
Wall seemed to be the kind who understood without asking questions.

"Tim," he said, "I think we're going to be proud of you some day."

"I hope so," Tim said huskily. His heart beat faster as he turned back to
his patrol. And then he heard Ritter's voice.

"Say, how is Tim going? Has Don got him working?"

"Stop that, Ritter," Don cried angrily. Gosh! couldn't some fellows ever
learn to hold their tongues? His eyes sought Tim; one look told him
enough. Tim had heard.

Here was another mess, and right on the eve of the big overnight hike.
Don made up his mind that he'd square things with Tim tomorrow when they
reported at the field for the regular Saturday game. A mix-up like this
couldn't be neglected.

But there was a heavy fall of rain that night, and more rain the next
morning. By noon the village field was flooded. Ted Carter sent word that
the game had been called off.

At two o'clock the sun broke through the clouds. From the porch Don had
watched the weather restlessly. The moment the sun appeared he hurried
off toward the field. There was just a possibility that Tim might come
around. He had to speak to him.

Tim came at last, but without his catcher's mitt. He stood around with
his hands in his pockets and had very little to say. His mouth was a
trifle tight, and his eyes rather hard.

"When shall we go into the woods for that signaling?" Don asked.

Tim shrugged his shoulders.

"Monday or Tuesday?"

But Tim was still indifferent. Don came nearer.

"If you're sore about what Ritter said--"

"Me sore? Why should I get sore? I'm used to it."

"Now, Tim--"

Tim walked away. He told himself that he was through. Not through with
the scouts, but through with going down to Don's yard as though he were a
poodle dog being taught new tricks.

He would not stop practicing. Nobody was going to get a chance to say
that _he_ was to blame if anything happened this time. All next morning
he wig-wagged in his yard. After dinner he went at it again. The work
was cruelly monotonous.

"There," he said grimly, when at last he quit; "I bet Don didn't practice
that much today."

All at once a voice whispered to him, "How could Don practice? He
receives. He must have somebody to send to him."

"Aw!" Tim growled, "let him go get somebody to send to him."

Somehow, that didn't seem to answer. Next afternoon, when he began his
self-imposed task of signaling, the flag seemed like lead in his hands.
He sat on the chopping block outside the kitchen door and stared ahead. A
long time later he sighed and walked around to the front gate.

"I'm a boob for doing it," he said, and stopped short. In a minute he
went on again, slowly, doubtfully--but on.

All the way to Don's house the old questions pricked him sharply. Why
_had_ he been shifted? Just to be watched? What would Don say to him now?

Don, working on the lawn, said: "Hello, Tim. Wait until I tack on this
screening, will you?"

But the patrol leader's heart was beating fast. If Tim was ready to smile
and dig in, the Wolves' chances were improved 50 per cent.

But though Tim was ready to work, he was far from being in a friendly
state of mind. His flag wig-wagged short three-and four-word messages
that Don could carry in his head without resorting to pad and pencil. At
four o'clock the work was over.

"Want to go to the woods tomorrow?" Tim asked gruffly.

Don nodded eagerly.

"All right; I'll be around at one o'clock." He turned on his heel and was
gone.

Don went indoors dejectedly. Barbara was mixing biscuit batter in the
kitchen. He stood in the doorway and blurted out the doings of the past
few days.

"Nothing there to worry about," Barbara said brightly. "Be honest, now.
How did Tim act a couple of months ago whenever anything displeased him?"

"He kicked things around."

"And now he comes here and works."

"Gosh!" said Don in a relieved voice, "that's so. I didn't think of it
like that." He went back to his screens for another hour of work before
supper, and as he measured and cut molding, his whistle was cheery and
good to hear.

Even Tim's crabbiness on the next day's trip did not dampen his spirits.
There was a thicket a mile from town. They selected this spot for their
work.

The light was different from the open. Somehow everything seemed changed.
Messages were harder to read. It was fine practice.

"I'm glad you thought of that," Don said on the way home.

Tim's stiffness melted a little. It was hard to be stand-offish with a
boy who kept praising your judgment.

As though by instinct, that night saw a gathering of the patrols at troop
head-quarters. Telegraph instruments, and dry batteries, and coils of
wire, were laid together for the morrow's hike. The trek wagon was hauled
from the old barn in back of Mr. Wall's house. The tents were carried
from the same place and laid in the wagon. The lanterns, swinging
underneath, were cleaned and filled and put back on their hooks.

At first Tim had hung on the outskirts of the crowd. But it was
impossible to resist for long the glamour of these preparations. The trek
wagon, the tents, the night lanterns, all helped to stir his quick blood.
They whispered of evening, and night fires springing to light, and white
tent walls showing ghostly through the dusk.

"Say!" called a voice, "how are you Wolves going to manage about Alex
Davidson? He works in the store. Is he going on the hike?"

"No," said Don.

"Well, how about the signaling?"

"He has half a day off Friday. He'll come out Friday afternoon."

The nine o'clock fire bell sent the scouts scurrying for home. The trek
wagon was left against the wall of troop headquarters.

Next morning the patrols assembled early. Mr. Wall dispatched a scout to
the baker's for two dozen loaves of bread. Another boy hurried off to the
grocer's shop for molasses, cocoa, and evaporated milk. When these had
been put safely in place, the last strap was adjusted. The trek wagon was
ready for the journey.

"You fellows get home," Mr. Wall ordered, "and get back here on time.
Remember, the same rule as always--individual cooking. Two or three
scouts or a whole patrol can team up, but each scout must bring enough
food to feed himself for three meals--supper tonight, and breakfast and
dinner tomorrow. The troop treasury furnishes the bread, molasses and
cocoa. Everybody understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"All right. We leave here at one o'clock sharp."

The Scoutmaster could have saved himself the warning. At 12:30 o'clock
the last scout was there, haversack and blanket on his back, ax and
canteen on his hip.

At 12:55 the bugle blew. The scouts fell into line.

"Each patrol," said Mr. Wall, "will take its turn hauling the trek wagon.
The Wolves first."

Don's patrol dropped back.

At one o'clock the bugle sounded again.

"Forward!" cried Mr. Wall. "March!"

"Forward!" echoed the patrol leaders. "March!"

Chester troop was off. Small boys followed along the sidewalk and on past
the village limits. After that, one by one, they dropped back, and at
last the troop swung on through the early afternoon alone.

Tim threw himself joyously into the work of hauling the wagon. When Mr.
Wall ordered route step, and the discipline of the hike gave way to
laughter and song, Tim's voice rose above all the rest.

He felt like dancing in the road. The first hill found him impatient to
run the wagon to the top. His zeal caused a quickened pace. Oh! there was
no loafing or shirking today.

At the end of a half-mile the Foxes took the load. Tim strode on with a
swinging step. His doubts were vanishing. Not once had Don tried to force
him to do what he did not want to do. If there was some hidden reason for
switching him from Alex, it should show itself now, shouldn't it? Maybe
he had been wrong all along.

Don fell into step with him. "How about some practice in the woods this
afternoon, Tim?"

"Sure." Tim's eyes danced. "We'll be first if we win this time."

Now it was Don who felt like dancing in the road. Tim, for some reason,
had had another change of heart, and was once more eager.

Soon the whole patrol was walking with Don and Tim. And Tim,
light-hearted, irrepressible, kept the talk flying merrily. When the call
came for the Wolves to take the wagon again, he was the first to reach
the shafts.

"Come on, slaves," he called.

Andy winked at Don. Don clutched the assistant patrol leader's arm and
squeezed hard.

Tim made lively work of the next half-mile. The relief found Bobbie Brown
gasping and wilted.

"Gee!" said Tim; "you're packing too heavy a load for a runt. Here, I'll
take your blanket."

Bobbie straightened his shoulders. "I'm all right. I--"

"Aw! forget it." Tim turned him around, unstrapped the blanket, and stuck
it under his arm. "Feels better, doesn't it?"

"Y-yes," said Bobbie.

Mr. Wall, coming down the line to watch for stragglers, saw what
happened, smiled quietly, and went back to the head of the column.

After a time the jokes and the laughter stopped. They were approaching
Lonesome Woods. Of course, this was going to be all kinds of fun,
but--but--Well, Lonesome Woods was Lonesome Woods, wasn't it? A mile from
camp Mr. Wall halted the column.

"Volunteers to go forward and cut firewood," he called.

But though the scouts might draw together a bit, here was too good an
adventure to be missed. There was a rush for the Scoutmaster. Tim got
there first.

"The Wolves have it," Mr. Wall decided.

"Little more load for the Eagles and the Foxes," sang Tim, and pitched
his blanket and haversack into the trek wagon. Don and the others unslung
theirs. Two minutes later the Wolf patrol was running in advance of the
column with only their axes and canteens.

They plunged into the woods with a whoop. Presently they all drew
together and listened. The place was still--ghostly still. The air was
cooler, and heavier, and--and different.

"Gee!" said Bobbie. "It _is_ lonesome in here, isn't it?"

Tim shrugged his shoulders. "Come on. Let's get firewood."

The sound of the axes chased away the quiet. The firewood became a small
pile, a great pile, and then a fat, clumsy pyramid.

"Hello there, Wolves," came a faint hail.

The troop had arrived. Soon the woods rang with high-pitched shouts and
cries.

The problem now was to find a camp site. Scouts swung out in all
directions. One group tried to advance the wagon. Now the wheels would
get tangled in clumps of underbrush, and now there would be seemingly
no way to squeeze through the trees. At last it could be advanced no
further.

The Foxes had found a clearing on sloping ground. A brook ran at one end.
The ground slope insured good drainage in case of rain.

The Wolves went back to bring in their firewood, and the Eagles and the
Foxes carted tents and equipment from the trek wagon.

Tim's blood ran riot in his veins. As he carried in the last of the
kindling, the second tent arose against the background of trees.

"Say," he called eagerly, "let's help there."

The tent squad made a place for him.

He seemed tireless. By and by, with the last tent up and the last rope
guyed, he wiped the sweat from his face and grinned.

"Doesn't look like Lonesome Woods now, does it?"

Mr. Wall's watch showed four o'clock. Supper cooking would start at five.
There was an hour in which to string telegraph wires.

"The messages," Mr. Wall said, "will be received here. Do not get too
close to each other with your instruments."

Scouts hustled out to the trek wagon for batteries, wire and instruments.
Tim staked a claim for the Wolves' receiving station.

"How much wire must each patrol have out?" Andy Ford asked.

"Two hundred feet," was the answer.

Eagles and Foxes gathered and broke into clamorous discussion. How should
the wire be measured? Don gathered his patrol and took it to one side.

"Andy has a fifty-foot tape. We'll measure as we unwind. Bobbie, you stay
here and hold this end. Come on, fellows."

Into the dense growth of trees they wormed their way. It was slow work
passing the wire through the branches of trees. Tim climbed and shinned
his way from limb to limb like a monkey. Wherever the wire was laid, it
was fastened in place with rubber tape.

About one hundred and twenty-five feet were out when the Scoutmaster's
whistle sounded the recall. The scouts came back to camp. There was a
comparison of results. The Eagles had strung about seventy feet of wire,
and the Foxes less than sixty.

"We'll have ours finished before the others know what's happening,"
chuckled Andy. "And then we'll get in some practice."

"Tim and I are going to get some practice after supper," said Don.

"Sure thing," said Tim.

Fires were lighted and pots and pans appeared. Somebody yelled that cocoa
was ready. The Foxes dished it out, and Mr. Wall distributed bread
thickly covered with molasses.

"Some feast," said Tim. He took his place in the circle of Wolves. He was
one of them--at home.

There was still some daylight left after dishes had been washed and put
away, and the supper refuse burned. Tim and Don walked off a way with
their flags. Teams from the other patrols scrambled for their flags,
too, and practiced until the last light began to go.

The night-fire grew brighter in the darkness. A hush fell over the camp.
The boys formed a circle about the blaze. Where they sat there was light
and warmth, but ten feet back were the trees, and darkness, and the
melancholy whispering of the breeze through stirring branches.

There was sober discussion of the morrow's contest. No voice lifted
itself loudly. Mr. Wall told an Indian story. The scouts drew closer to
the fire, and Bobbie glanced back over his shoulder. After a time heads
began to nod.

"Time to turn in," said the Scoutmaster. "Better fill your canteens. You
may want a drink during the night."

The brook was a hundred yards away, out in the darkness--and this was
Lonesome Woods. Bobbie said he never took a drink during the night.

"Aw!" cried Tim. "Let's go down there and fill them up."

He led the way. Bobbie decided that he might need a drink after all.

Twenty minutes later they were all in the tents. Out at the dying
camp-fire the bugler sounded "taps." As the mournful notes echoed, more
than one scout, under his blanket, felt goose-flesh.

Ordinarily, in camp, the first night is one of restlessness. But Chester
troop was tired. For a while voices sounded faintly. They grew fitful and
yawny. Finally they ceased. The camp was asleep under the stars.

And then the bugle blew again. Reveille! The scouts tumbled out to a new
world. The darkness was gone. Lonesome Woods was no longer spooky. The
whole world smelled clean, and green, and damp, and sweet.

Breakfast was rushed. The Foxes were the first to get away from camp. The
Wolves were next. They finished stringing their wire, adjusted a sender,
and came back to install the receiver. As soon as everything was ready,
Wally went off to the end of the line to send to Andy Ford.

The Foxes were the next to get rigged. The Eagles rushed in almost on
their heels. Morse and semaphore teams practiced frantically. Over
everything lay a fever of preparation.

At ten o'clock Mr. Wall sent a squad to take down the tents and pack them
away in the trek wagon. Another squad brought wood and water. The camp
prepared for dinner.

It was a happy, noisy, high-strung meal.

"Clean camp for the contests," Mr. Wall ordered next.

Empty cans and refuse went flying into the fire, to be raked out later
and buried. Presently the last sign of litter was gone. The scouts waited
expectantly.

"Telegraphy first," said the Scoutmaster. He handed a sealed envelope to
each sender. "There's your message. Read it when you get to your
instrument. Off you go. A bugle blast will be the signal to start. Speed
and accuracy will count."

Wally Woods ran off with Andy yelling after him to take his time and not
get rattled. Then came a wait. Mr. Wall nodded to the bugler. The woods
echoed to a sharp blast.

Almost at once telegraph instruments began to click. Andy, with puckered
eyes, bent down and wrote slowly. The scout at the Fox receiver was
supremely confident, but the Eagle scout seemed worried and harassed.

To the watching boys it was impossible to tell who was ahead. The minutes
passed, the excitement grew. All at once the Fox scout sprang to his feet
and came running to Mr. Wall with his paper.

"Shucks!" said Tim. "He may have it all mixed up. Look at Andy."

The assistant patrol leader of the Wolves was now running toward the
Scoutmaster. Two minutes later the Eagle scout came forward reluctantly.

"It's fierce," he said in disgust. "It doesn't make sense nohow."

The message had been, "A hundred men searched the hills for the Indian."
The Fox scout had made but one error. Andy had made four, and the Eagle
scout had twisted the message into a knot.

"Well," said Tim, "that gives us three points for second place. Now, if
Alex gets here--"

The calling cry of the Wolves sounded faintly.

"That's him," said Tim, and shrieked an answer. Andy and Bobbie went out
to meet the newcomer and show him the way. Presently they led him into
camp. He had ridden to Lonesome Woods on his bicycle, and had ridden
hard. He was hot, dusty and thirsty.

After half an hour's rest on the grass he was ready. The semaphore
signaling started.

All three patrols scored perfect messages, but the Foxes finished first,
the Wolves second, and the distracted Eagles last.

"That gives the Foxes 10 points and us 6," said Bobbie. "The Eagles have
2."

Don shook his head uneasily. The Foxes had been in the lead ever since
the last contest. If they won again, they would be out so far in front
that it would be almost impossible to catch them.

It was time for the Morse. Tim put his flag under his arm and went out to
his station. Ritter went along to read the message to him, word for word,
so that there would be no loss of time. Bobbie, at the receiving end, was
to write the message as Don called him the letters.

Ritter tore open the envelope and took out the paper.

"How long?" Tim demanded.

"Eleven words." Tim reached out his hand and Ritter drew back. "Never
mind reading it. Just send what I give you. You won't get twisted
thinking about the next word, because you won't know what it is."

Tim did not argue. He could see Bobbie lying on the ground with pad and
pencil, and Don crouched on one knee above him. Gee! when would the bugle
blow?

"Don't go too fast," Ritter said huskily.

Tim scarcely heard. He and Don had made no mistakes the last time they
practiced. How would it be now on the day of the real thing?

"T-a-a-a-a, ta, ta," sounded the bugle.

"Every--" cried Ritter.

Tim sent the word. His hands gripped the flag staff with a nervous,
straining strength.

"--patriot--"

This word followed the first.

"--places--his--all--"

Tim was breathing hard.

"--at--the--service--"

His throat was dry.

"--of--his--"

Tim's arms trembled. Was there much more?

"--country," said Ritter, as though he couldn't get the word out fast
enough. "End of message."

Tim fronted his flag three times. He saw Bobbie hand the message to Don,
and Don race over to Mr. Wall.

"We're first in," cried Ritter. "Come on, Tim."

But Tim was suddenly afraid. He dropped the flag and pretended that his
shoe-laces were loose. Ritter ran ahead. Tim fussed with the laces a long
time--was still fussing, in fact, when cries of "O you Foxes! What's the
matter with the Foxes?" brought him to his feet.

This time he walked in hurriedly. Ritter met him.

"You had three mistakes, Tim," he said sadly.

"_I_ had three mistakes?" Tim cried angrily.

"Well, we had three mistakes. The Foxes were perfect again. They're
sharks on signaling. The Eagles were last."

Tim went over to Don. "Let's see that message." He read it under his
breath. "Every batriot blaces his all at the sereice of his country."

The Foxes were still skylarking when he handed back what Bobbie had
written. He looked around at the members of his own patrol. Bobbie
shifted his eyes. Wally tried to smile that it wasn't a bad showing at
all. Tim turned away slowly, went over to his equipment, and began to
roll his blanket for the homeward march. All the sunshine, and the
frolic, and the outdoor freshness was gone from the day.

He was sure that he had sent the message right. He couldn't send an e for
a v, because e was the simplest letter in the Morse alphabet--just a
single dot. And as for sending two b's where he should have sent two
p's--

"I didn't," he muttered wrathfully. "They think I did because--"

His face clouded with swift suspicion, and the blanket dropped from his
hands. He had been telling himself for two days that there had been no
hidden reason for Don taking him as a partner, but now that was all swept
aside. Don had wanted him as the goat. If any mistakes were made he would
be the one to be blamed--just as he was being blamed. Wasn't he Tim
Lally, the fellow who always spoiled things? Oh, what a woodenhead he had
been not to see it all before!



CHAPTER VIII

DON'S CHOICE


The jubilant Foxes found enough flour to make a paste, and enough paper
to stick on a blanket and make a sign. The sign read:

Eagles   122-1/2
Foxes    132
Wolves   127-1/2

They carried it, spread out like a banner, all the way home.

The hike back to Chester was a bit one-sided. The Foxes enjoyed
themselves hugely, but every other scout was sober with his own thoughts.
The Eagles were convinced that they were out of the race. Don and Andy
Ford were trying to take some comfort from the fact that they had four
weeks yet in which to overtake the Foxes. Nobody noticed that Tim, a
bubbling source of energy yesterday, was now sour and glum.

It was not until next day that Don noticed any change. In the regular
weekly game on the village field Tim backed him up faultlessly; but
on the bench the catcher edged away and sat at the end with the
score-keeper.

"Good night!" Don murmured. "What is it this time?" He was becoming used
to Tim's blowing hot one minute and cold the next. He didn't worry so
much over Tim's moods. By tomorrow, he reflected, this rather uncertain
scout would probably be running around again like a loose cyclone.

Besides, Don had something to worry about just then, something so acute
that it could not be shared with another worry. His pitching was
undergoing violent assault. He was sure he had plenty of stuff on the
ball. Nevertheless, the rival team was lacing his best efforts to all
parts of the field.

The end of the game returned him a loser.

"Can't win them all," Ted Carter said philosophically. "They seemed to
hit everything today, Tim, didn't they?"

"Everything," said Tim. He took his sweater from the bench and started
for home.

Don had a notion to follow. Instead, after a moment, he walked off with
several of the players. So long as Tim was losing his scrappiness, what
was the use of fussing over him? Probably by tomorrow, or Monday,
whatever was biting him would have stopped, and he would come around to
discuss the ifs of the contest, and the what-might-have-happened. It
occurred to Don, vaguely, that he had not yet heard Tim say a word about
what had happened at Lonesome Woods.

Tim did not come around--neither on Monday nor Tuesday. Wednesday Don met
him at the field for the regular mid-week practice.

"Where have you been keeping yourself, Tim?"

"No place."

"You haven't been around since--"

"No," Tim broke in bitterly, "and I'm not coming around. Nobody can make
a booby out of me twice."

Don's face sobered. This wasn't the Tim of passing moods. This was more
like the blustering Tim who had once overawed the Wolf patrol.

"Who made a boob of you?"

"You did. Oh, don't look so innocent; you can't work it the second time.
Take me for a partner. Then, if anything went wrong in the contest,
everybody would say that Don Strong couldn't have made a mistake--oh,
no. It must have been Tim Lally because he's always queering things. And
they did say it!"

"Who did?"

"Ritter. 'Too bad you made those mistakes, Tim.' I ought to have whanged
him one in the eye. How did he know whether I made any mistakes?"

Gone was Don's thought that Tim would be all right in a day or so. If
this firebrand scout convinced himself that he had been tricked, and if
he kept thinking so--

"You've got this wrong," Don cried. "I--"

"Sure I've got it wrong," Tim mocked. His voice changed wrathfully. "But
I didn't have the message wrong, and don't you forget it. I know my code.
I sent the message right. Do you think I'd send an e for a v?"

"Do you think I wouldn't know an e?" Don asked.

Tim was staggered. He hadn't thought of that--that an e would be as
simple to Don, receiving, as it would be to him, sending.

"Aw!" he said recklessly, "it's a trick. You can't fool me again. If
you're going to pitch, get busy, else I'll go home."

Don pitched. He decided that there was no use in arguing with Tim now.
Besides, he wanted time to think.

He had saved the message that Bobbie had written. That night he took it
from his bureau drawer.

"Every batriot," he read aloud, "blaces his all at the sereice of his
country." Funny there should be two b's instead of two p's. He repeated
the letters slowly, thoughtfully.

"B, p; b, p--Gosh! I'll bet I know what happened."

He jumped up and paced the room excitedly. It was clear now. Tim had sent
p, and he had called p, but p and b sound almost the same and Bobbie,
tense and excited, had caught the wrong sound.

"E and v are almost the same, too," Don cried. "I'll tell Tim tomorrow."

Next day he sought Tim eagerly. Tim gave him a sarcastic sidelong glance.

"B and p do sound alike," Don said sharply.

"I'm going to ask Mr. Wall to take me out of the Wolf patrol," was Tim's
response.

He meant it. He thought Don's explanation sounded fishy. Why should it
take six days to discover that b and p sounded almost the same? He quite
forgot that he had not thought of b and p sounding the same at all.

Don did not bother him again. Friday night he came to the troop meeting.
His resolution to ask for a transfer from the Wolves had weakened. In the
past he had never paid much attention to Mr. Wall, accepting him as a
matter of course--every troop had to have a Scoutmaster. Now, somehow,
the thought of Mr. Wall strangled his desire to complain.

The Scoutmaster had said only two weeks before, "I think we're going to
be proud of you some day." A queer little lump came up into Tim's throat
and made him swallow hard. He did not think Mr. Wall would like it if he
asked to be changed, and--and he wouldn't ask.

The entire patrol saw that he avoided Don, for he made no effort to hide
his feelings. He left the meeting as soon as it was over. Andy Ford and
Alex Davidson glanced questioningly at the patrol leader.

"He thinks I took him as a partner so that he'd be blamed if the Morse
signaling went wrong," Don explained.

"Oh, the mule!" Andy cried. "Why doesn't he wait until somebody blames
him?"

"He says Ritter blamed him for the three mistakes."

"Good night!" Andy breathed.

Alex walked over and stared at the score-board. The Foxes had a scout
absent and had been penalized two points. As a result, the Wolves had
recovered the ground they had lost at Lonesome Woods. The new score read:

PATROL   POINTS

Eagle    138-1/2
Fox      146
Wolf     143-1/2

"Tim gets some crazy hunches," Alex said, after a time, "but I don't
think he'll lose any points for us--not any more."

"Let him go fish then," Andy cried. "We should worry. How about it, Don?"

Don shook his head slowly. "I'm patrol leader of the Wolves."

"And he's a Wolf scout," Andy nodded thoughtfully. "I see what you mean.
I guess you're right. What are you going to do?"

"Nothing. Maybe by next Friday he'll be over it."

But next Friday found Tim unchanged. He mingled with the other scouts,
but from his patrol leader he held aloof.

A Fox scout reported late, and the Foxes lost a half-point. The score
read:

PATROL   POINTS

Eagle    154-1/2
Fox      161-1/2
Wolf     159-1/2

"Wow!" cried Bobbie. "Only two points behind now."

A gain by the Wolves meant little to Don just now. A belief was slowly
growing in his mind that Tim had the makings of one of the best scouts in
the troop. The right kind of patrol leader, he thought, would have had
Tim where he belonged before this. He felt that he had been a failure.

He longed for advice and the wisdom of an older head. Barbara or his
father would not do tonight; he wanted somebody who knew scouting. When
the meeting was over he went slowly to Mr. Wall with his troubles.

"The little blue bugs surely have you tonight," the Scoutmaster said
cheerily. "Let's reason this out. A month or so ago a frightened scout
told me that some of my boys were off for Danger Mountain. Remember?"

Oh, yes, Don remembered.

"Tim led that expedition. Do you think he'd do a stunt like that now?"

"No, sir."

"Nor I," the Scoutmaster said gravely. "He's swinging around, probably
because he's tied up with fellows who want to be real scouts. Would you
call that failure?"

The boy was silent several minutes. "No, sir," he said at last.

Mr. Wall clapped his shoulder. "Then there's nothing left to worry about,
is there?"

Don was somewhat surprised to find that there was not. The cloud had
vanished. He went home with his mind at peace. He had given Tim his own
head of late, and even Mr. Wall said that Tim was coming around. He'd
give him his head again, and wait for the sulks to wear off.

But it was hard to work with Tim all next day against the Ironside nine,
and to find him, even in the heat of the struggle, stiff and unbending.
And it was harder still to see the days of the next week pass and bring
no change. For a rumor had gone through the troop that the reason Mr.
Wall had announced no contest for this month was because he was going to
uncover a surprise. Don could not help feeling that the Wolves would
stand very little chance. Tim, at odds with his patrol leader, would
surely lack the zest and the spirit necessary to cope with unexpected
orders.

Over Friday night's meeting hung the promise of something to happen.
Roll-call and inspection brought to light no derelicts. The score board
read:

PATROL   POINTS

Eagle    170 1/2
Fox      177 1/2
Wolf     175 1/2

The ranks broke. Usually there was play for a few minutes. Mr. Wall
rapped for order at once.

"Next week," he said, "the contest for the Scoutmaster's Cup comes to an
end. The final ordeal will start Friday. It will be a two-day test of
your mettle. It will take place at Lonesome Woods. A treasure has been
hidden there, and blazed trails will lead to the hiding place."

The room was still--startlingly still.

"This time," Mr. Wall went on, "we will have a real test of scouting. For
that reason, I have decided to award ten points to the winning patrol.
There will be no second or third points."

The troop stirred. Ten points! That gave every patrol a chance. Even the
Eagles, if they won, would be tied with the Foxes for winning honors.

"Each patrol leader will select a scout to accompany him into the woods.
They will enter Friday afternoon at 3:30 o'clock. Each patrol will start
from a different part of the woods. They will find trees blazed with
whitewash. They will follow this blaze. When night comes they will camp."

"Each two scouts by themselves?" asked a voice breathlessly.

"By themselves," the Scoutmaster answered, "unless they desire to risk
capture."

The patrols murmured softly. Gosh! This was a real stunt.

"Each of the three trails leads toward the treasure; it has been hidden.
When a patrol comes to a blaze mark that has a circle around it, they
will know that that is the last blaze, and that the treasure is near. Two
things they must then do--search for the treasure, and avoid capture by
another patrol. Any patrol surprised by another patrol will be considered
captured and out of the contest."

"But suppose a patrol finds the treasure, what then?" called another
voice.

"Then that patrol must make its way safely from the woods and avoid
capture. If it is captured, it surrenders the treasure to the captors."

"Why," cried Don, "that's just like old-fashioned Indian warfare."

Mr. Wall smiled. "I think you'll like it. There will be another meeting
Wednesday night. I want every scout to notify his patrol leader in
writing whether he will be allowed to make the trip if he is chosen.
Wednesday night each patrol leader will announce the name of the scout
who will accompany him into the woods. I think you're too excited to do
scout work tonight. Would you prefer to talk this over?"

"Yes, sir," came a roar.

Mr. Wall laughed and waved his hands.

Instantly the room broke into riot. A night camp at Lonesome Woods, a
blazed trail, a buried treasure and a threat of sudden capture! This was
great!

"Will trails cross?" cried the leader of the Foxes. "Must we watch out
for Eagles and Wolves even before we get to the treasure?"

"Perhaps," the Scoutmaster answered.

Here was uncertainty--and uncertainty made the game all the more
fascinating.

Tim's breath came fast. If he could get into a thing like that--

"Aw!" he told himself hopelessly, "Don would never take me." He stood
around listening to every word, but saying little. His heart ached with
an empty longing. Once he caught Don's eye, and flushed and turned away
his head quickly. And Don, who had been as high-strung as any of the
others, suddenly became sober and grave.

Next day, between innings, he sat on the bench and studied his catcher.
If they should go into the woods together--He sighed, and shook his head,
and thought of Andy Ford. Andy would pull with him. Perhaps Andy would
expect the place.

Over Sunday Wally and Ritter brought around written consents, and Bobbie
announced gloomily that his father would not let him go. Monday morning
Andy brought his paper.

"Seen Tim yet?" he asked. "No?" He fell to whistling softly.

Late that afternoon Tim appeared. "There's mine," he said defiantly.
There was an awkward silence. Presently Tim walked out through the gate
and was gone.

Don sat beside his work and pondered. As a patrol leader, what should he
do? What was expected of a patrol leader--that he strive heart and soul
to bring victory to his patrol, or that he stake everything on making
one boy the kind of scout he ought to be? Victory for the Wolves, he
suspected, would soon be forgotten. That was how it was with baseball
victories.

Suppose he took Tim into the woods and nothing came of it. But suppose
something did come of it--something big.

"I wonder," Don mused, "I wonder what Andy thinks."

Tuesday passed. Wednesday came drearily with rain and chill.

That night Don purposely delayed his arrival at the troop meeting. He did
not want scouts looking at him and almost asking for the chance. Mr. Wall
was calling the gathering to order as he entered. He slid into a seat and
stole a look around. Andy was calmly making notes in a diary. Tim was
plainly trying hard to keep his shoulders back and to appear unconcerned.

"I call on the Eagles," said Mr. Wall, "to announce their team."

The Eagle patrol leader chose his assistant.

"Foxes."

The leader of the Foxes picked the oldest boy in his patrol.

"Wolves."

Don stood up. He saw Tim bite his lips and stare at the ceiling. Perhaps
he was making a mistake, but it seemed to him that one true scout was
worth all the prize cups in the world.

"I pick Tim Lally," he said clearly.

And then a wonderful thing happened. Andy Ford threw down the diary and
gave him a wide, approving, understanding grin.



CHAPTER IX

THE FIGHT IN THE WOODS


Slowly Tim's eyes came away from the ceiling. His heart stood still. Was
this a joke? Eager hands fell on him from the rear--Wally's, Ritter's,
Alex Davidson's. There could be no doubt after that.

His heart began to thump. Chairs were pushed back, and patrols clamored
around their teams. He found himself next to Don with one of Andy's arms
around his shoulders.

"You fellows bring that treasure out," Andy threatened, "or you'll wish
you had stayed there. Hear me?"

Tim's eyes were unusually bright, but his heart had begun to drop to
normal. A sudden decision had come not to let this prospect run away with
him. He knew the bitter taste of disappointment and he wanted no more of
it. He had started for Lonesome Woods in high spirits the last time, and
had come home in the dumps. There'd be an understanding before this
start. There'd be an understanding tonight.

He stuck close to Don, waiting for the moment when they could be alone.
It came.

"Look here," he said sharply; "why did you pick me?"

Don was startled. "Why--why--" How could he tell the real reason without
setting a new spark to the gunpowder in Tim's nature. "I thought you were
the fellow to go," he ended.

It sounded lame even to Don. It sounded like an evasion to Tim. Why
couldn't he be told the truth? What was there that had to be hidden?

He went back to the patrol. The thrill had begun to weaken. He tried
desperately to call it back. He wasn't going to be cheated out of a good
time. By and by, through dint of striving, he roused a new spirit of
anticipation.

Don walked with him as the scouts crowded toward the door. "Better come
around tomorrow, Tim, and talk over what we'll take," he said, and
wondered if Tim would offer any objection.

"Right-o!" said Tim almost cheerily. Outside Don mopped his face. When he
expected Tim to be all right, Tim was nasty; when he expected him to be
surly, he was all right.

"Well," he said in relief, "it didn't last long that time, anyway."

But Tim wasn't over it. A new thought had caused him to change tactics.
What was the use of his spoiling his own fun? He'd get his good time
regardless of what Don had up his sleeve. He'd throw himself into this
treasure hunt heart and soul. He'd work as hard as any scout could work.
But once they were in Lonesome Woods he'd do what he thought was best. If
Don tried to interfere with him there'd be trouble.

Next day he found the whole patrol, with the exception of Alex, at Don's
yard. Ritter called him a lucky stiff, and Wally looked at him with envy.
They made him feel, for the first time, that he was one of the "big"
scouts.

There wasn't going to be much cooking stuff taken along. A little coffee
and a little bacon--nothing else. Perhaps they would not have time to
cook even that much. If they reached the treasure place and found the
treasure gone, they would have to try to overtake the finders before they
got out. That would mean hustle.

They decided on pilot biscuit and the always dependable beans. A blanket
each and a poncho, a watch and a compass. Tim was for leaving the poncho
out and taking a chance on rain, but Don said no.

"Ax," said Tim. "We'll need that, anyway. I'll go home and put an edge on
mine."

He ground it until it was almost razor sharp. That night he dreamed that
he was a scout of the old days and that Indians in their war-paint were
stalking him through the forest.

Next morning he prepared his haversack, and rolled his blanket and
strapped it. Several times he cocked his eyes at the sky. Finally he did
the unheard-of thing of going down to the station and spending three
cents for a city paper. On the first page was news that was worth many
times three cents. It read: "Weather: Fair today and tomorrow;
southwesterly winds."

There was nothing to do now but wait for dinner. Twenty minutes past noon
he had his arms through the straps of the haversack and was on his way to
headquarters.

The troop had already assembled. The scouts were feverish. It still
lacked fifteen minutes of one o'clock when Mr. Wall appeared.

"All here?" the Scoutmaster asked. "Care to start now?"

The patrol leaders jumped to line up their patrols.

The treasure-hunting teams were treated as something precious on the way
out. Scouts took turns carrying their packs so as to have them fresh when
they entered the woods. Just as on their first trip, Tim wanted to leap
and run. But he knew that would be folly. Besides, Mr. Wall held them
down to a steady, even pace that ate up distance but did not tire.

In the general excitement the miles slipped away unnoticed. All at once
the woods were ahead. Mr. Wall halted the column and called the teams.

"I want you to compare your watches with mine." The Scoutmaster's
timepiece said ten minutes of three. Don and the others set their
watches.

"At 3:30," Mr. Wall continued, "each team will enter the woods. Some
place near where it enters it will find the first blaze. At 3:30. Is that
clear?"

They said it was. He led them to a point a quarter of a mile on.

"Here's where the Wolves go in. Foxes and Eagles, follow me."

The other patrols went on, nervous, high-strung. The Wolves were left
alone.

Tim tried to stretch off on the ground and lie there quietly. With his
head pillowed on his arm he could see the group that followed Mr. Wall.
On they went, on, on--and then a turn hid them. Everything from now on
would be mysterious, unknown.

Lying there quietly became impossible. He jumped to his feet and walked
up and down. Every few minutes he looked at his watch. Ten after,
fifteen, twenty.

"Better get on our haversacks," said Don.

They waited. Twenty-five after. Tim felt the throb of his pulse.

"Another minute," said Ritter.

Don stood with his watch in his hand. All at once he put it away.

"Three-thirty, Tim." They walked toward the woods.

The patrol followed them to the edge and stopped. There were cries of
good luck. They waved their hands and stepped among the trees. Twice they
looked back; the first time the scouts were visible, the second time
they were gone. The cries of good luck grew fainter and ceased. They were
alone.

"There's one of two things to do," said Don, in a voice that trembled
with excitement. "We do not know whether our trail crosses the others. We
must either go cautiously, or go fast in the hope that they don't cross.
If we go fast we may get to the treasure first."

"All right," said Tim; "fast. Let's find that blaze. If you get it, give
a low whistle."

They separated and worked among the trees. A long time later, it seemed,
Tim found the blaze. It pointed north. He whistled softly, cautiously. A
whistle answered him. Don's footsteps sounded frightfully loud in the
stillness.

They started north as fast as they could go. Three hundred feet on they
found the second blaze. They lost the third and had to retrace their
steps before finding it. The fourth was easy, but on the way after that
they encountered a patch of dense undergrowth and a section of fallen
trees. Here they had to separate and search once more. This time it was
Don who found the mark. Their watches said ten minutes of five.

"Let's go on until almost dark," Tim whispered. There was a sound off on
their right. He clutched Don's arm, and they stood like statues and
listened, scarcely daring to breathe. By and by they relaxed.

"Must have been a squirrel or something," said Tim. They advanced
cautiously.

The fright had thrown them out of their reckoning. They did not remember
in which specific direction they had been heading. After a while they had
the uncomfortable feeling that they had gone on farther than the ordinary
distance between blazes.

"Have to search," said Don.

So they began again. They worked at a tension, running when they could.
It did not take long to get out of sight of each other.

This time it was Tim who finally found the blaze. He whistled--no answer.
He whistled again--still no answer. He'd have to make a louder sound. It
was growing dusky, and he did not want to become separated from Don for
the night. He put his fingers between his lips.

He did not mean to whistle loudly but, in the quiet woods, his summons
echoed shrilly. His heart gave a frightened leap. Gee! Suppose anybody
was near?

Don came crashing through the woods. "For the love of Mike, Tim, why did
you do that?" he asked sharply.

Tim bristled. It was one thing for him to blame himself; it was another
for Don to find fault. "I wanted you to hear me," he answered shortly.

"I did hear you!"

"Well, why didn't you answer?"

"I thought I heard something else. You'll have every Eagle and Fox around
us."

"_I'll_ have every Eagle and Fox around us," Tim thought. "See! _I'm_ the
one who's spoiling things."

They started again. Don was sorry he had spoken so hastily. So far Tim
had been a real partner. He made up his mind that he'd think twice before
he spoke sharply again. You had to handle a fellow like Tim with gloves.

As for Tim, the hot, angry blood was still in his cheeks. What did Don
mean by jumping on him? He wouldn't stand for it. He was to blame! How
about Don being to blame for not answering the signal?

"Tim!" Don called from the rear. "How about making camp? It's getting
late."

"Nothing doing," said Tim. "We're between blazes. In the morning we
wouldn't know which way to start."

"We have compasses," said Don.

Tim was just stubborn enough to refuse to listen to reason. Besides, he
felt that his judgment was questioned.

"We'll camp at the next blaze," he said. "Then we'll know where we are."

After a moment of hesitation Don followed. The easiest way was best.

They soon reached the blaze. Tim began to gather leaves and young twigs
for his bed. Before long he knew that he had blundered again. It took
time to make a camp bed properly, and the failing light would not give
him the time. He had made camp too late.

The knowledge of his second mistake increased his ill humor. He spread
his poncho and sat on the bed. Don still gathered leaves.

"Trying to rub it in," Tim reflected. "Just like telling me, 'See, why
didn't you camp when I said so?'"

Don turned from his bed, dived into his pack and brought out a can.

"How about eats, Tim?"

Tim was disgusted with the whole adventure. In this black mood he did not
relish the thought of cold food in the dark. He wanted light, and a hot
drink--something to chase away the gloom.

He kicked together some wood. He found small twigs, broke them and made a
pile. Then he drew out matches.

Don was opening a can. "What's wrong, Tim?"

"I'm going to have a fire."

"Fire?" Don dropped the can. "Good night! do you want the Eagles and
Foxes coming down and gobbling us?"

"Piffle!" said Tim. "Do you think _they'll_ sit around in the dark?
Anyway, I want a cup of coffee."

Don drew a deep breath. Why hadn't he brought Andy Ford! However, it was
too late for regrets. Once Mr. Wall had said that sometimes a fellow had
to brace his legs and stand firm. One of those times had come.

"There'll be no fire," he said in a voice he did not recognize as his
own.

"There will be a fire," Tim retorted. "I worked as hard as you today. You
can't say I didn't. But I'm not going to put up with crazy notions. Who
ever heard of a night camp and no fire?"

Don's fingers twitched. He was the leader here and he had said no fire.
The scout law read obedience. And yet, if Tim insisted, what was he to
do? Oh, it wasn't fair for a fellow to get bull-headed and smash the
rules.

Tim scraped the match. It burst into a tiny flame.

Don took a step forward. "Tim--"

"Oh, forget it," said Tim. He was going to light that fire, even if he
put it out a moment afterward. He shielded the match with his hands and
bent over the wood.

There was no other way--not if Tim was twice as big. Don's heart was in
his throat. He was afraid. Nevertheless, without hesitation, he knocked
Tim's hands apart and the match went out.

"You will, will you?" cried Tim. He scrambled to his feet and rushed.

There was not much light. What there was aided Don, for Tim could not
make full use of his superior weight and strength. One rush followed
another. Don kept striking out and stepping aside. Sometimes a fist came
through his guard and stung him and made him wince. Always, ever since
becoming patrol leader, he had feared that he and Tim would some day
clash. Now the fight was on.

Slowly, as blows stung him, his blood quickened. The boy in front of him
had spoiled so much scouting. If he could only give him the thrashing he
deserved! If he only could! He set his teeth. He would thrash him. He
swung, and felt a sharp pain in his knuckles.

"I'll get you for that," roared Tim.

Don, aroused now, scarcely felt the blows. A hard knock caught him off
his balance and sent him sprawling.

"Got enough?" Tim demanded, breathing heavily.

Don, battle mad, sprang to his feet and rushed.

That rush was a mistake. Tim's fist caught him as he came in and
staggered him. Another blow shook him up. And then a third blow sent him
to the ground again. He was beaten, winded, and all but sobbing.

"I guess you've got enough now," said Tim. There was no answer. He turned
away and found his matches.

The sound of the match box being opened brought Don to his knees. Tim,
muttering, scraped the tip.

Don struggled to his feet. The tiny flame seemed to fill him with a new
strength. If necessary he would fight again, and again, and again. An
iron doggedness was in his blood--the same doggedness that nerves men
to sacrifice everything for principle. The lot had fallen to him to face
Tim on a matter of scout discipline. Tim might thrash him again--_but he
could not light that fire!_

"Drop it!" he cried.

Tim guarded the match. "Want more?" he demanded.

"Drop it, or I'll fight you again."

"And I'll lick you again," said Tim. He touched the flame to the dry
leaves.

Don sprang forward and scattered the fire with a kick. Tim leaped to his
feet. He was furious. This time he'd see that he wasn't bothered again.

The scattered fire was burning fitfully in two or three clumps. There was
just light enough to see things hazily. Tim, his fist drawn back, caught
a glimpse of Don's white face. He stared, relaxed, and continued to
stare, and his hands fell to his sides.

He was not afraid--and yet the fire went out of his blood. He felt
suddenly uncomfortable, and small, and beaten. The fitful blazes dwindled
and went out. The woods were in darkness.

After a time Tim turned away. He dropped down on his poncho and sat with
his face in his hands. Gee! What wouldn't he give to have the last hour
back again.



CHAPTER X

GOOD LUCK AND BAD


There was not much sleep that night. The beds were too uncomfortable.
Tim, lying awake, had lots of time to think, and as he tossed in the
darkness, the voice of his conscience reproached him sternly. He wondered
what would happen in the morning. So great was his concern that he forgot
that his was a forest bed and that all around him were strange noises of
the night.

At the first gray light he was out of bed. Last evening the trail had
crossed running water. He went back, filled his canteen and washed. The
water was like ice. The early morning air had a biting edge. Shivering,
he rolled down his sleeves, buttoned his collar snug and wished that the
sun was up.

Don was about when he got back to camp. One of the patrol leader's lips
was puffed. Tim looked away quickly. A cup of hot coffee would have put
the early morning chill to route, but not for anything would he have
suggested a fire. He pretended to poke through his things, trying to kill
time, trying not to look at his companion, trying to figure out how they
were going to get through breakfast. That Don was sore on him for keeps
he did not doubt.

Don pulled a towel from his haversack. "How's the water?" he asked. His
voice was forced, as though he had strained himself to speak.

Tim's mouth dropped. Gee! was this--was this real? He caught Don's eyes.

"Cold," he gulped.

"Look for dry pine. Pine doesn't make much smoke."

Tim gathered wood, and his face burned. He saw what the patrol leader
meant--a fire stood a good chance of passing unnoticed now. Flame would
not reflect and smoke would mingle with the rising mist. Last night a
fire would have been madness. He could see it all now and he could see,
too, the sorry part he had played.

"I always was a bonehead," he told himself bitterly. The feeling that he
had been brought into the woods for some selfish purpose dwindled and
died. Perhaps what had happened in the signaling test had been an honest
mistake, just as Don said. He began to sense dimly that in all the
troubled weeks of the contest the patrol leader had been working for
something big, something clean.

He had everything ready for the match long before Don came back from the
brook. They made a small, cautious fire. The water came to a boil. They
hastened to fry bacon before the fire died out. There was still some heat
when the bacon was done and they dumped their beans into the hot pan.

Then, quickly, they killed the fire with dirt and water, and the
discovery from that source was over. The hot coffee routed the morning
chill. Not once were last night's happenings mentioned. Tim breathed with
relief as the minutes passed. They took the trail. Before they had gone
far the sun broke over the horizon and faintly touched the tops of the
trees.

There was still some restraint between them. The scars of last night's
fight could not heal in a moment. But as they hurried among the trees,
Don gave thanks that he had forced himself to speak and had broken the
ice. For Tim was almost pathetically eager to show good will--picking the
hardest tasks and the roughest paths, and squirming unbidden into
doubtful corners to sound them out.

Every step now increased their chances of encountering the other patrols.
They passed the fourth blaze since leaving camp, and then the fifth. The
trees became thicker, the foliage denser. The sun was almost shut out.
Even the sounds of the birds were hushed.

Don halted. "We must be getting near the end of the trail. We've come
about a mile."

Tim's voice trembled. "Let's make a rush for it."

Don shook his head. "Too dangerous. We'll go ahead, stop and listen, and
go ahead again."

"Gee!" said Tim. "Like stalking an Indian in Colonial days."

Now listening breathlessly, now darting forward, now creeping, they
slowly forged ahead. Two more blazes were passed. They found the next. It
was marked:

-O-

"The end of the trail," said Don in a whisper.

"Maybe we're here first," said Tim.

But they dared not take the chance of haste. Rival scouts might be
waiting, hidden, to pounce on them. They listened, while their hearts
beat heavily.

"I'm going forward," said Tim at last, and edged out. Soon they knew that
neither the Eagles nor the Foxes had yet reached the goal.

Then began a frantic search. They wanted to find the treasure and away.
Not a sound broke the stillness but bird calls and their own footsteps.
Yet they knew that, from some place among the trees, scouts were stealing
toward them. They went out in a wide circle, worked in, and found
nothing.

"Mr. Wall wouldn't make this too hard," said Tim. "He's left some sign.
How could he hide it?"

"Among tree branches," said Don, "or in a tree hollow, or in the
ground--"

"That's it," cried Tim. "Burying would leave a sign--freshly turned
earth. Come on."

They searched again in nervous hurry, and kept looking over their
shoulders as though trying to peer through the veil of trees. Don saw no
earth that looked fresh, but he did see a suspicious mound near a tree.
He put his feet on the spot. His heel sank softly.

"Tim!" he called.

Tim came running. "That's it. Why didn't we bring a trowel?" He dug
at the earth with his ax. Don unslung his haversack, pulled out the
frying-pan, and scooped with the pan handle.

The sweat rolled into their eyes. They worked feverishly. All at once
Tim's ax hit something softer and more yielding than the earth.

"She's here, Don! Gee! she's here!" He dropped the axe and worked with
his hands; by degrees the top of a pasteboard box appeared. They loosened
the earth around the sides, found grips for their fingers, and pulled.
The box came out. It was tied with string and could have been in the
ground only a few days.

The prize was theirs. In their excitement they hugged each other
joyously.

"You did it, Tim!" cried Don. "You get the credit."

"You found it," Tim said huskily. "You'd have found it without me.
You--" Something he had kept bottled all morning, something he had never
expected to say, tumbled from his lips. "You should have knocked my block
off last night."

"Forget it," Don muttered lamely, but his eyes flamed with a new light.
He knew now that he had made no mistake in bringing Tim into the woods.

They stood with that queer awkwardness that moves boys when they bare
their hearts. Tim fingered the string around the box.

"Say, if we could open this--"

The spell was broken. They cut the string and lifted the cover. Inside,
packed in a soft bed of cotton, was a prize that shone out at them with a
soft splendor--the Scoutmaster's Cup!

"One little beauty," breathed Tim. "Who ever thought Mr. Wall would hide
it like that. If we lost it!"

"Let's get out of here," Don cried in fright. He ran for his haversack.
They took the back trail.

"We had better go easy," Tim said in a low voice, "until we're sure
there's no chance of meeting the Eagles or the Foxes--"

"Sssh!" Don caught his arm.

Was that a noise? After a time it came again--the dry swish of dead
leaves and the sharp crackle of dead wood under a weight.

Tim put his lips to Don's ears. "Over there--to the right."

Another silence. Then the noise again, farther off.

"They're at the last blaze," Tim whispered. "This is too close for
comfort."

They made off with stealthy caution. Whenever they found clear ground
they hurried, but for the most part it was slow work. All at once came a
faint cry.

"They've found the empty hole," cried Tim. "Now they'll be after us."

"How will they know which way we went?" Don asked. Nevertheless, he
hurried.

Ten minutes later they paused to listen. Far back of them they heard
something which made them look at each other anxiously.

"Can't waste time here," said Tim.

At first, when they paused again, there was silence. Then came that which
told them of pursuit. Don's pulse quickened.

"They've got our trail, Tim."

"They're following our blazes," said Tim. "We'll fool them. Let's strike
off here to the east."

They swung off at a right angle. The blazed trail they knew, but
necessity counseled that they face the unknown. Tim pulled out his
compass.

When next they listened the sounds of pursuit were gone.

"We've shaken them," said Don, and drew a long breath of relief.

An hour later they came to a slight ravine with a brook flowing along the
bottom. They squatted on the bank and opened their beans, but beans and
pilot biscuit made dry eating, and soon the canteens were empty.

"I'll fill them," said Don, and scrambled down the bank. A stone slipped
under his foot; he fell, cried out sharply, and rolled to the bottom.

When Tim reached him he was sitting up and unlacing one shoe. It did not
take them long to know the truth. The ankle was sprained.

Tim dipped his scarf in the water and wrapped it around the hurt. Of
course, it might be a slight sprain, or it might be severe. Don kept
staring at the foot and frowning. Tim, whistling softly under his breath,
changed the compress twice.

"It hasn't swollen much," said Don. "Maybe I could walk on it."

"Here," said Tim; "lean on my arm."

Don hobbled. The pain was slight. He could walk on the foot if he favored
it carefully, but speed was out of the question. He let go of the
supporting arm and sank to the ground.

He was a hindrance--just so much dead weight. Sooner or later the
pursuing scouts would find that they were on a false scent, and would
begin to scour the woods. Mr. Wall had said that the treasure had to be
brought out safely, but he did not say that two scouts had to bring it
out.

Don bent over the ankle. "You'd better make a run for it, Tim."

"What's that?" Tim's eyes opened wide. "How about you?"

"Bring the fellows back for me after you get out. Hurry."

But instead of hurrying, Tim stood still. "Nothing doing," he said.
"You'd stick to me if I were in a fix. I'd be a fine scout to run away,
wouldn't I?"

Don bent lower over the ankle. Once Tim would have gone off promptly and
have taken glory out of individual achievement. Now he stuck. Oh, but
scouting was a great game when fellows played it right!



CHAPTER XI

CLOSE QUARTERS


After a while they bandaged the ankle tightly with wet cloths. Don put on
his shoe but did not lace it. He tried to climb the ravine bank, but that
was a bit too rough. Tim picked him up with a fireman's lift and surged
with him to the top.

That experience set Tim to shaking his head. He could carry the patrol
leader easily enough on the level, but climbing was a vastly harder job.

"Wait here," he said. "I'll see how the ground looks ahead." In ten
minutes he was back. "Two or three ravines. You couldn't make them on
that foot. We'll strike north and follow the brook."

Don puckered his eyes. "If the Eagles and Foxes get scouting around that
will throw us right into them."

"All right," said Tim. "Maybe we'll capture some Eagles and Foxes along
with the cup." He wasn't going to get scared until there was something to
be scared of.

At first Don limped along with one hand on Tim's shoulder. By and by he
found a tree limb that would answer as a cane, and let go the shoulder.

"You scout ahead," he told Tim. "You've got to be the eyes of this party.
We can guard against surprise better if we separate. Wait for me every
little while. Whistle twice if anything goes wrong."

"How about one whistle if everything's all right?" Tim asked. "Then
you'll know where I am if I change direction."

"All right," Don agreed, and Tim slipped away among the trees.

After that Don followed the sound of soft, guarded whistles. The
combination of a cane and a bad foot made it slow work. Once he tried to
hurry, and the ankle stabbed him cruelly. He was all right so long as he
used the foot carefully, and he sighed and resigned himself to a snail's
pace. Every now and then he would come upon Tim, standing like a
statue--waiting and listening. Once Tim took off the bandages, wet them,
and put them back.

When the job was finished, Tim gave him a hand and helped him up. They
stood looking at each other. Each boy read something in the other boy's
eye. An embarrassed grin twisted Tim's mouth.

"You're all right," Don said suddenly.

"Well--" Tim looked away. "I'm going to be."

The flight with the treasure was resumed. Tim disappeared ahead. Almost
immediately he was back.

"We've got to swing out," he said. "There's a lot of tangled underbrush
near the brook. We'll go more to the west."

"That will carry us over toward our old trail," said Don.

Tim nodded. They both knew what that meant. Either Eagles or Foxes had
been following the blaze. The dangers of a meeting were increased.

They had completely lost track of distance. They did not know how far
they were from the edge of Lonesome Woods. They did not even know where
they were.

The flight slowed down to a cautious advance. So slow did they go that
Don's tender foot scarcely impeded them. Tim would go out in front and
come back, and then go off to the sides. He ranged about tirelessly. And
always his whistle, low, soft, kept guiding.

There came a time when for a quarter of an hour the whistle did not
sound. Don became alarmed. Which way to continue he did not know. In
doubt he stopped. He heard a stirring off to his right, and quickly
faced that way. Tim stole toward him.

"I think I heard something," he whispered.

They listened, but heard only forest noises.

"Careful," warned Tim, and slipped away once more.

Don watched him until he disappeared. Following, he made sure not to
stray from the direction Tim had taken. He limped around trees, and tried
to avoid places where there were deep leaves and dead branches, because
leaves and branches made noise.

Suddenly a sound halted him abruptly--two low, short whistles--the signal
of danger.

Tim came back with concern on his face. "They're over there, Don. Quick!
this way."

They changed their course to the east again. After a while they halted.
For a moment they heard nothing. Then, to the left, came unmistakably the
faint sound of voice.

Again they changed their course. Each step now was made with caution. By
and by, when they thought they were safe, they stood still and strained
their ears.

This time the sound was even nearer.

"We can't go back deeper into the woods," Tim argued breathlessly.
"Your ankle won't stand it. We've got to get out. We can't go to our
right--there's the ravine and the underbrush. If we keep going ahead
they'll overtake us. If we try to get off to the left, we're sure to
cross them on an angle."

"Never mind me," Don urged. "Make a dash for it."

Tim shook his head stubbornly. "Wouldn't it be fine for a scout to leave
his patrol leader in the lurch? Maybe we'll think of something. Come on;
no use of standing here."

They wormed their way forward. They began to meet patches of thick brush.
All at once Tim gave a suppressed cry.

"Look at that brush, Don. If we can get them off on a false scent--Where
are they?"

The sound was still off to the left.

"Give me your haversack." Tim shed his own. "Now your canteen. Now over
there. Lie behind that brush. Quick."

Don hobbled over to the dense growth. Watching, he saw Tim go off a short
distance and drop a haversack; going on, he dropped a canteen and
disappeared.

Don expected him to come back the way he had gone. Instead, Tim made a
wide swing and approached the brush from the rear. He stretched off on
his stomach alongside the patrol leader.

"I laid the canteens and the haversacks in a row," he whispered, "about a
hundred feet apart toward the ravine. They'll think we went that way in a
hurry and dropped our things so as to travel light. It will take them
time to search that underbrush. As soon as they pass we'll go off to the
left. Every minute we'll be getting farther away from them."

"Why won't they think we dropped the haversacks while heading the other
way?" Don asked.

"What, toward them?" Tim grinned. "That would have walked us right into
their arms."

Don thought it out. Through a peephole in the brush he could see the
first haversack on the ground.

"Suppose they find it out there, Tim, and don't see the canteen?"

"Well, what of it?"

"Suppose they start to search right around here?"

"Gee!" Tim gave a low whistle. "I hadn't thought of that. How's this: if
we see them coming, jump up and surprise them and yell 'Capture!'"

"Suppose they yell, too?" Don asked. "Mr. Wall may say that two sound
scouts would have a better chance to capture than a team with one limping
scout."

That was reasonable. The situation became tense. If the searchers took
the false trail and went on, all right. If they started to search--good
night!

They lay behind the brush and waited. It seemed, after a while, that they
had been there an hour. Don had just begun to believe that the pursuit
had gone off in a new direction, when Tim's hand grasped his shoulder
with a convulsive pressure.

There had been a faint sound of cracking wood.

Nearer it came, almost directly in front of them. Then another sound
echoed off to one side. All at once a khaki-clad figure slipped between
two trees.

Tim's hand grew rigid. Don tried to flatten himself into the earth.

They knew the boy--Larkins, patrol leader of the Foxes. On he came.
Suddenly he saw the haversack. He halted and jumped sideways behind a
tree.

Don and Tim knew what that meant. Larkins thought it might be a trap. It
was not going to be easy to fool him.

Would he never come out from behind the tree? They had heard, after he
disappeared, a queer woody sound that somehow did not seem out of place.
Now they heard it again and recognized its source. Larkins was hitting a
stick of light wood against other wood.

At the first signal, the echoing sounds they had heard off to the side
had ceased. At this new signal it began again. Larkins walked out and
picked up the haversack. A moment later another khaki figure came into
view. It was Rood, another Fox scout.

"It's Don's," Larkins said in excitement; "here's his name."

"Maybe they're hiding around here," said Rood.

Don's heart almost stood still.

"Maybe." Larkins stood up and walked slowly toward the brush.

Don felt Tim gather his muscles. He knew what that meant. If discovery
was certain, Tim was prepared to spring out and cry "Capture!" and let
Mr. Wall decide.

"Say," Rood called, "what's that?"

Larkins paused suspiciously. "What's what?"

"Down there. Looks like a canteen."

"Get it." Larkins turned quickly from the brush. Don buried his face in
his arm so that the searcher would not hear his sigh of relief.

Rood brought back the canteen. "I could see another haversack, too. I bet
they heard us and are making a run for it after dropping everything." His
voice shook with excitement.

"We've got to get on then," cried Larkins. "Where's the other haversack?
Which way? Never mind bothering with it. Spread out. No use being
cautious--not until we think we're getting close."

He ran straight on. Rood sprinted off at an angle.

Behind the brush Don and Tim waited. The sounds of feet crashing through
the forest grew fainter and at last ceased.

Tim jumped to his feet. "That settles the Foxes," he cried. "Now if we
can duck the Eagles we're all right."



CHAPTER XII

OUT OF THE WOODS


Joyously Don broke from cover. The Eagles might threaten later, but just
now the field was clear. He took great breaths of the fresh air. It was
good to breathe deeply after having been almost afraid to breathe at all.

Tim brought back the haversacks and canteens and pushed them out of sight
behind the wall of brush. After a moment's thought he changed his mind
and pulled out one of the canteens.

"That ankle may need another wetting," he said. "For the rest of the way
we'll travel light. We should have dropped that load long ago."

"How will we find it again?" Don asked. "There's lots of brush."

Tim took out a handkerchief and tied it where it could be plainly seen.

"Believe me," he said, "we're some team. What one forgets the other
thinks about."

Some team! Don smiled. He had never thought to hear Tim say a thing like
that. All at once the troubles that Tim had given him in the past seemed
as nothing. That was what a patrol leader was for--to stand up under
thoughtless knocks from wayward scouts and to bring them back.

They struck off north. Tim had decided that the Eagles could not be in
this neck of the woods, else they would have run into the Foxes and
somebody would have been captured. He led the way more boldly, with a
swing to his shoulders. Don, watching him, smiled again, this time
wistfully. What a dandy patrol leader Tim would make--now.

At the first rest, while the red-haired boy poured water over the ankle
bandages, Don said:

"You've heard about the new patrol, haven't you?"

Tim shook his head.

"It came up in the last patrol leader's meeting. We've had six fellows on
the waiting list for a long time. Mr. Wall's going to organize a fourth
patrol and take them in. There's a big chance for you."

Tim looked up quickly. "For patrol leader?"

"Yes."

Tim knelt motionless. After a while he slung the canteen on his back and
slowly shook his head. "Nothing doing. What a fine mess I'd have made if
I had become patrol leader of the Wolves! I can see it now."

"Just the same," said Don, "I'm going to recommend you."

Tim stared away through the trees. Patrol leader! He had always wanted
that. As for Don recommending him--Gee! wasn't that a hot one?

"If I get it," he said in a low voice, "will you stand by me if I get
stuck? I'm an awful bonehead sometimes."

"Every patrol leader in the troop will be glad to help," said Don.

"I know." Tim nodded. "But I'd sooner go to you."

Their course still carried them north. By degrees, as they advanced,
Tim's boldness became tinged with caution. They had gone quite some
distance from their hiding place; there might be Eagles around.

The old whistling signals were resumed. Tim would slip off through the
trees and whistle after a while, and Don would go forward and join him.
There seemed to be no end to the trees. Were they never going to get out?

The third time Don went forward, Tim was frowning and biting his lips.

"I thought I heard something again," he said nervously. "It can't be that
the Foxes swung down and around and headed us off. Wait here; I'll sneak
closer."

When the whistle sounded, several minutes later, Don limped forward
eagerly.

"I knew I heard something," Tim warned. "Listen, now."

They held their breaths. Voices! No doubt of it. And then, faintly from a
distance, a call of:

"Bobbie! O Bobbie! Bob--bie!"

Don forgot that he was a woods fugitive. "That's Andy's voice," he
shouted. "We're almost out. Come on, Tim. Rush for it."

They gave no care now to what noise they made. Don felt Tim take his arm
to help him. He hobbled and hopped and squirmed, and only paused when the
tender ankle brought him up wincing and shivering.

"Easy," said Tim. "No hurry. See that opening? We're almost out. Easy
now."

But Don found it agony to go slow. Suppose they were gobbled here within
sight of victory! He took another chance on a hobbling run. Around a
clump of trees, straight ahead, another turn--and there was the wide,
free outside in front of them.

"Safe!" gasped Don. No need to hurry now. He sank to the ground and
rested his injured ankle. The Scoutmaster's Cup was theirs!

Three scouts, walking together, were disappearing over a knoll of ground
in the distance.

"Andy!" Tim bellowed. "Andy Ford!"

One of the scouts looked around and pointed. He shouted to someone in the
distance. Then he and his companions came forward on a wild run.

Tim pulled the cup from the box and held it up for them to see. At that
the wild run became a desperate sprint.

"Ours, ours, ours!" cried Andy. The other scouts, Ritter and Wally Woods,
caught Tim's arms and poured out a stream of questions. What had become
of the haversacks and blankets? Had they been afraid in the woods? Had
they seen the Foxes? Where had they found the cup?

Another scout came over the knoll--Bobbie Brown. After that came a rush
of Fox scouts and Eagle scouts, and finally Mr. Wall. Scout whistles
began to blow a salute and a welcome. Cheers came in ringing waves. Tim,
his eyes bright with excitement, stood close to Don. Oh, but this was
great!

Mr. Wall shook hands. His grip was hard and strong and gloriously
friendly, and his smile made their blood run warmly. He stepped back and
looked at them, and his gaze seemed to rest on Don's puffed lip. Tim
caught his breath.

"How do you like it?" the Scoutmaster asked.

"Great!" said Don. "Wasn't it, Tim?"

Tim nodded.

"Who found the cup?"

"Tim did."

"I didn't," cried Tim. "You found the place."

"But you said it had probably been buried and to look for freshly turned
dirt. And if you hadn't stuck to me when I hurt my ankle we'd been
captured sure. And when the Eagles were trailing us you threw them off
the scent--"

"Aw!" said Tim, "you deserve all the credit for limping along on that bum
foot."

A light of satisfaction leaped into Mr. Wall's eyes. There was little
that went on in Chester troop of which he was in ignorance. He had known
what that trip into the woods meant, and he had wondered many times that
morning what would come of it. From the look of Don's lip and from a
lumpy look above one of Tim's eyes, he would say there had been a fight.
He proposed, though, to ask no questions. Whatever had happened, the
atmosphere was clear. The Tim who had come out was a vastly different boy
from the Tim who had gone in, and that was all that mattered.

He slipped off Don's shoe and examined the foot. "Nothing much," he said.
"A couple of days' rest and you'll be as good as new." As he stood up his
hand rested in the old familiar way on Tim's shoulder.

"I told you it would happen some day, Tim."

Tim looked up timidly. "What, sir?"

"That we'd be proud of you."

Tim's eyes dropped. A thrill ran through his veins. Not because he had
been praised--paugh! that didn't mean so much--but because Mr. Wall
seemed to speak to him as man scout to boy scout. He was accepted without
question as worthy. He could see it in the eyes of Andy Ford and of every
scout there. Gee! what a difference it made.

The scouts had been shrilling a succession of short, sharp blasts, the
rallying signal. Now Larkins and Rood burst out of the woods. When they
saw Don and Tim their faces lengthened, but they came forward and offered
their congratulations.

The whole story had to be told. Don related how they had followed the
trail, he told of finding the treasure, of getting away and learning of
pursuit, of cutting away from their trail, and of his tumble at the
ravine, and of how Tim had refused to leave him.

"Good boy," cried Andy.

Next Don described their journey with Tim ranging around as scout. When
he told of laying out the haversacks Larkins' face went red.

"Were you fellows hiding behind that brush?" he demanded.

"You bet," said Don. "We hid the haversacks there after you went on.
You'll find Tim's handkerchief tied there now."

A grudging look of admiration came into the Fox leader's eyes. "It was
some plan," he admitted, "and it surely fooled us. That's one we owe you,
Tim."

Tim laughed.

The story was over at last, and the position of the sun warned the troop
that it was time to start for home. At Mr. Wall's orders a coat stretcher
was made and Don was lifted in. Just before the start he thought of
something.

"What became of the Eagles?" he demanded.

"Shucks!" said Larkins. "They built a fire the first night, and we
sneaked up and bagged them."

Tim looked at Don miserably, and Don flashed a glance that told him to
forget it. It was their secret. Nobody would ever know.

Tim walked a step behind the stretcher, with his head bent thoughtfully.
What a good scout Don was--fair, and square, and willing to be white
where another fellow would hold a grudge! Tim sighed. He wasn't built
like that. He scrapped and got himself in Dutch, and let himself think
things that he shouldn't think.

Well, he was going to stop that. He had thought of the laws and the oath
back there in the woods and they had begun to mean something serious.
Fellows like Andy, and Alex Davidson, and Don showed what the laws and
the oath were. Some day--The muscles in Tim's jaw hardened. Some day he
would be that kind of scout, too.





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