Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Pluck on the Long Trail - Boy Scouts in the Rockies
Author: Sabin, Edwin L.
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 "Pluck on the Long Trail - Boy Scouts in the Rockies" ***

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



PLUCK ON THE LONG TRAIL

Or

Boy Scouts in the Rockies

by

EDWIN L. SABIN


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

THE BOY SCOUT SERIES

BOY SCOUTS IN THE MAINE WOODS
By James Otis. Illustrated by Charles Copeland.

ALONG THE MOHAWK TRAIL; OR, BOY SCOUTS ON LAKE CHAMPLAIN
By Percy K. Fitzhugh. Illustrated by Remington Schuyler.

PLUCK ON THE LONG TRAIL; OR, BOY SCOUTS IN THE ROCKIES
By Edwin L. Sabin. Illustrated by Clarence Rowe.

Each, 12mo, cloth, $1.25 postpaid.

A series of wholesome, realistic, entertaining stories for boys by
writers who have a thorough knowledge of Boy Scouts and of real scouting
in the sections of the country in which the scenes of their books are
laid.

THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY
NEW YORK

-----------------------------------------------------------------------


[Illustration: See page 123. "'YOU GIT!' HE ORDERED."]


PLUCK ON THE LONG TRAIL

Or

Boy Scouts in the Rockies

by

EDWIN L. SABIN
Author of "Bar B Boys," "Range and Trail,"
"Circle K," Etc.

Illustrated by Clarence H. Rowe



It's honor Flag and Country dear, and hold them in the van;
It's keep your lungs and conscience clean, your body spick and span;
It's "shoulders squared" and "be prepared," and always "play the man";
     Shouting the Boy Scouts forev-er!



New York
Thomas Y. Crowell Company
Publishers
Copyright, 1912, by
Thomas Y. Crowell Company



TO SCOUTS

Scouts in America have a high honor to maintain, for the American scout
has always been the best in the world. He is noted as being keen, quick,
cautious, and brave. He teaches himself, and he is willing to be taught
by others. He is known and respected. Even in the recent war in South
Africa between Great Britain and the Boers, it was Major Frederick
Russell Burnham, an American, once a boy in Iowa, who was the English
Chief of Scouts. Major Burnham is said to be the greatest modern scout.

The information in this book is based upon thoroughly American
scoutcraft as practiced by Indians, trappers, and soldiers of the
old-time West, and by mountaineers, plainsmen, and woodsmen of to-day.

As the true-hearted scout should readily acknowledge favor and help, so
I will say that for the diagram of the squaw hitch and of the diamond
hitch I am indebted to an article by Mr. Stewart Edward White in
_Outing_ of 1907, and one by Mr. I. J. Bush in _Recreation_ of 1911; for
the "medicine song" and several of the star legends, to that Blackfeet
epic, "The Old North Trail," by Walter McClintock; for medical and
surgical hints, to Dr. Charles Moody's "Backwoods Surgery and Medicine"
and to the American Red Cross "First Aid" text-book; for some of the
lore, to personal experiences; and for much of it, to various old army,
hunting, and explorer scout-books, long out of print, written when good
scouting meant not only daily food, travel, and shelter, but daily life
itself.

E. L. S.



BOOK KIT

CHAPTER                                               PAGE

       I. The Long Trail                                 1
      II. The Night Attack                              11
     III. The Big Trout                                 21
      IV. The Beaver Man                                31
       V. Two Recruits                                  39
      VI. A Disastrous Doze                             54
     VII. Held by the Enemy                             69
    VIII. A New Use for a Camera                        85
      IX. Jim Bridger on the Trail                      98
       X. The Red Fox Patrol                           111
      XI. The Man at the Dug-out                       121
     XII. Foiling the Fire                             133
    XIII. Orders from the President                    146
     XIV. The Capture of the Beaver Man                161
      XV. General Ashley Drops Out                     179
     XVI. A Burro in Bed                               185
    XVII. Van Sant's Last Cartridge                    199
   XVIII. Fitz the Bad Hand's Good Throw               215
     XIX. Major Henry says "Ouch"                      230
      XX. A Forty-mile Ride                            244
     XXI. The Last Dash                                258


SCOUT NOTES

       1. On Old-Time Scouts                           277
       2. On Taking a Message to Garcia                278
       3. On Socks and Feet                            279
       4. On the Tarpaulin Bed-Sheet                   279
       5. On the Diamond Hitch                         279
       6. On the Indian Bow and Arrow                  282
       7. On the Lariat or Rope                        282
       8. On Neatness and the War-bag                  283
       9. On Tea                                       283
      10. On the Medicine Kit                          283
      11. On the Straight-foot Walk                    284
      12. On Sign Language                             284
      13. On Sign for Bird Flying                      286
      14. On Making the Tarp Bed                       286
      15. On the Reflector Oven--and a Shovel          287
      16. On a Whistle Code                            287
      17. On Brushing Teeth and Hair                   287
      18. On Snagging Fish                             287
      19. On Drying Boots                              288
      20. On Records and Maps                          288
      21. On Right or Left Footedness                  288
      22. On Weather Warnings                          289
      23. On Watching Teeth                            290
      24. On Lightning                                 290
      25. On Bedding Place                             290
      26. On Cooking                                   290
      27. On the Tarp Shelter Tent                     291
      28. On Guns                                      291
      29. On Treating Pack-Animals                     292
      30. On the Scout Camp Place                      292
      31. On Camp-Law Protection                       292
      32. On Division of Guard Duty                    292
      33. On Trailing                                  292
      34. On Marking the Trail                         293
      35. On Respecting the Enemy                      293
      36. On the Parole                                293
      37. On the Sign for Escape                       294
      38. On Tying a Prisoner                          294
      40. On Making a Fire                             296
      41. On the Clock of the Heavens                  296
      42. On Stars                                     298
      43. On Sunday                                    300
      44. On Smoke Signals                             300
      45. On Surgical Supplies                         301
      46. On Antiseptics                               302
      47. On Climbing Trees                            303
      48. On Wigwags and Other Motion Signaling        303
      49. On Sprains                                   308
      50. On Caches                                    309
      51. On Use of Medicines                          310
      52. On Forest Fires                              311
      53. On Fire Fighting                             312
      54. On Deep Wounds                               313
      55. On the Squaw Hitch                           314
      56. On Picketing and Hobbling                    315
      57. On Respecting Nature                         316
      58. On Dislocations                              316
      59. On Litters for Wounded                       317
      60. On Jerked Meat                               318
      61. On Dressing Pelts                            319
      62. On Aluminum                                  320
      63. On "Levez!"                                  320
      64. On Appendicitis                              320
      65. On the Nose of Horse and Mule                321
      66. On Being a Scout                             321

[Transcriber's note: Note 39 was not referenced in this table.]



PICTURE SIGNS


"'You git!' he ordered"                       Frontispiece

                                                  OPPOSITE
                                                      PAGE

"Bill Duane went through him"                           78
"It was our private Elk Patrol code"                   178
"Like cave-men or trappers we descended"               214



THE ROLL CALL


THE ELK PATROL OF COLORADO:

First-class Scout Roger Franklin, or General William Ashley.
First-class Scout Tom Scott, or Major Andrew Henry.
First-class Scout Harry Leonard, or Kit Carson.
First-class Scout Chris Anderson, or Thomas Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand.
Second-class Scout "Little" Dick Smith, or Jedediah Smith.
Second-class Scout Charley Brown, or Jim Bridger.

THE RED FOX PATROL OF NEW JERSEY:

First-class Scout Horace Ward.
First-class Scout Edward Van Sant.

FRIENDS AND ENEMIES:

Sally and Apache, the Elk Totem Burros.
Bill Duane and his Town Gang, Who Make the Trail Worse.
Bat and Walt, the Renegade Recruits.
The Beaver Man.
The Game Warden, the Forest Ranger, the Cow-puncher,
  the two Ranch Women, the Doctor; Pilot Peak, Creeks,
  Valleys, Hills, Timber, and Sage and Meadows; Rain
  and Fire and Flood; the Big Trout, the Mother Bear,
  the Tame Ptarmigans, etc.

THE LONG TRAIL

Afoot, One Hundred Miles through a Wild Country and over the Medicine
Range. Described by Jim Bridger, with a Few Chapters by Major Henry.



PLUCK ON THE LONG TRAIL

CHAPTER I

THE LONG TRAIL


We are the Elk Patrol, 14th Colorado Troop, Boy Scouts of America. Our
sign is [Illustration] and our colors are dark green and white, like the
pines and the snowy range. Our patrol call is the whistle of an elk,
which is an "Oooooooooooo!" high up in the head, like a locomotive
whistle. We took the Elk brand (that is the same as totem, you
know, only we say "brand," in the West), because elks are the great
trail-makers in the mountains.

About the hardest thing that we have set out to do yet has been to carry
a secret message across the mountains, one hundred miles, from our town
to another town, with our own pack outfit, and finding our own trail,
and do it in fifteen days including Sundays. That is what I want to tell
about, in this book.

There were six of us who went; and just for fun we called ourselves by
trapper or scout names. We were:

First-class Scout Roger Franklin, or General William Ashley. He is our
patrol leader. He is fifteen years old, and red-headed, and his mother
is a widow and keeps a boarding-house.

First-class Scout Tom Scott, or Major Andrew Henry. He is our corporal.
He is sixteen years old, and has snapping black eyes, and his father is
mayor.

First-class Scout Harry Leonard, or Kit Carson. He is thirteen years
old, and before he came into the Scouts we called him "Sliver" because
he's so skinny. His father is a groceryman.

First-class Scout Chris Anderson, or Thomas Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand. He
is fifteen years old, and tow-headed and all freckled, and has only half
a left arm. He got hurt working in the mine. But he's as smart as any of
us. He can use a camera and throw a rope and dress himself, and tie his
shoe-laces and other knots. He's our best trailer. His father is a
miner.

Second-class Scout Richard Smith, or Jedediah Smith. He is only twelve,
and is a "fatty," and his father is postmaster.

Second-class Scout Charley Brown, or Jim Bridger the Blanket Chief.
That's myself. I'm fourteen, and have brown eyes and big ears, and my
father is a lawyer. When we started I had just been promoted from a
tenderfoot, so I didn't know very much yet. But we're all first-class
Scouts now, and have honors besides.

For Scout work we were paired off like this: Ashley and Carson; Henry
and Smith; Fitzpatrick and Bridger. (See Note 1, in back of book.)

Our trip would have been easier (but it was all right, anyway), if a
notice hadn't got into the newspaper and put other boys up to trying to
stop us. This is what the notice said:

     The Elk Patrol of the local Boy Scouts is about to take a message
     from Mayor Scott across the range to the mayor of Green Valley.
     This message will be sealed and in cipher, and the boys will be
     granted fifteen days in which to perform the trip over, about 100
     miles, afoot; so they will have to hustle. They must not make use
     of any vehicles or animals except their pack-animals, or stop at
     ranches except through injury or illness, but must pursue their own
     trail and live off the country. The boys who will go are Roger
     Franklin, Tom Scott, Dick Smith, Harry Leonard, Chris Anderson, and
     Charley Brown.

Of course, this notice gave the whole scheme away, and some of the other
town boys who pretended to make fun of us Scouts because we were trying
to learn Scoutcraft and to use it right planned to cut us off and take
the message away from us. There always are boys mean enough to bother
and interfere, until they get to be Scouts themselves. Then they are
ashamed.

We knew that we were liable to be interfered with, because we heard some
talk, and Bill Duane (he's one of the town fellows; he doesn't do much
of anything except loaf) said to me: "Oh, you'll never get through, kid.
The bears will eat you up. Bears are awful bad in that country."

But this didn't scare _us_. Bears aren't much, if you let them alone. We
knew what he meant, though. And we got an anonymous letter. It came to
General Ashley, and showed a skull and cross-bones, and said:

    BEWARE!!! No Boy Scouts allowed on the Medicine
    Range! Keep Off!!!

That didn't scare us, either.

When we were ready to start, Mayor Scott called us into his office and
told us that this was to be a real test of how we could be of service in
time of need and of how we could take care of ourselves; and that we
were carrying a message to Garcia, and must get it through, if we could,
but that he put us on our honor as Scouts to do just as we had agreed to
do. (See Note 2.)

Then we saluted him, and he saluted us with a military salute, and we
gave our Scouts' yell, and went.

Our Scouts' yell is:

    B. S. A.! B. S. A.!
    Elk! Elk! Hoo-ray!!

and a screech all together, like the bugling of an elk.

This is how we marched. The message was done up flat, between cardboard
covered by oiled silk with the Elk totem on it, and was slung by a
buckskin thong from the general's neck, under his shirt, out of sight.

We didn't wear coats, because coats were too hot, and you can't climb
with your arms held by coat-sleeves. We had our coats in the packs, for
emergencies. We wore blue flannel shirts with the Scouts' emblem on the
sleeves, and Scouts' drab service hats, and khaki trousers tucked into
mountain-boots hob-nailed with our private pattern so that we could tell
each other's tracks, and about our necks were red bandanna handkerchiefs
knotted loose, and on our hands were gauntlet gloves. Little Jed Smith,
who is a fatty, wore two pairs of socks, to prevent his feet from
blistering. That is a good scheme. (Note 3.)

General Ashley and Major Henry led; next were our two burros, Sally (who
was a yellow burro with a white spot on her back) and Apache (who was a
black burro and was named for Kit Carson's--the real Kit
Carson's--favorite horse). Behind the burros we came: the two other
first-class Scouts, and then the second-class Scouts, who were Jed
Smith and myself.

We took along two flags: one was the Stars and Stripes and the other was
our Patrol flag--green with a white Elk totem on it. They were fastened
to a jointed staff, the Stars and Stripes on top and the Patrol flag
below; and the butt of the staff was sharpened, to stick into the
ground. The flags flew in camp. We did not have tents. We had three
tarps, which are tarpaulins or cowboy canvas bed-sheets, to sleep in, on
the ground, and some blankets and quilts for over and under, too. (Note
4.) And these and our cooking things and a change of underclothes and
stockings, etc., were packed on the burros with panniers and top-packs
lashed tight with the diamond hitch. (Note 5.)

We decided to pack along one twenty-two caliber rifle, for rabbits when
we needed meat. One gun is enough in a camp of kids. This gun was under
the general's orders (he was our leader, you know), so that there
wouldn't be any promiscuous shooting around in the timber, and somebody
getting hit. It was for business, not monkey-work. We took one of our
bows, the short and thick Indian kind, and some of our two-feathered
arrows, in case that we must get meat without making any noise. (Note
6.) And we had two lariat ropes. (Note 7.) Each pair of Scouts was
allotted a war-bag, to hold their personal duds, and each fellow put in
a little canvas kit containing tooth-brush and powder, comb and brush,
needles and thread, etc. (Note 8.)

For provisions we had flour, salt, sugar, bacon, dried apples, dried
potatoes, rice, coffee (a little), tea, chocolate, baking-powder,
condensed milk, canned butter, and half a dozen cans of beans, for short
order. (Note 9.) Canned stuff is heavy, though, and mean to pack. We
didn't fool with raw beans, in bulk. They use much space, and at 10,000
and 12,000 feet they take too long to soak and cook.

We depended on catching trout, and on getting rabbits or squirrels to
tide us over; and we were allowed to stock up at ranches, if we should
pass any. That was legitimate. Even the old trappers traded for meat
from the Indians.

We had our first-aid outfits--one for each pair of us. I carried Chris's
and mine. We were supplied with camp remedies, too. (Note 10.) Doctor
Wallace of our town, who was our Patrol surgeon, had picked them out for
us.

General Ashley and Major Henry set the pace. The trail out of town was
good, and walking fast and straight-footed (Note 11) we trailed by the
old stage road four miles, until we came to Grizzly Gulch. Here we
turned off, by a prospectors' trail, up Grizzly. The old stage road
didn't go to Green Valley. Away off to the northwest, now, was the
Medicine Range that we must cross, to get at Green Valley on the other
side. It is a high, rough range, 13,000 and 14,000 feet, and has snow on
it all the year. In the middle was Pilot Peak, where we expected to
strike a pass.

The prospect trail was fair, and we hustled. We didn't stop to eat much,
at noon; that would have taken our wind. The going was up grade and you
can't climb fast on a full stomach. We had a long march ahead of us, for
old Pilot Peak looked far and blue.

Now and then the general let us stop, to puff for a moment; and the
packs had to be tightened after Sally's and Apache's stomachs had gone
down with exercise. We followed the trail single file, and about two
o'clock, by the sun, we reached the head of the gulch and came out on
top of the mesa there.

We were hot and kind of tired (especially little Jed Smith, our
"fatty"); but we were not softies and this was no place to halt long. We
must cross and get under cover again. If anybody was spying on us we
could be seen too easy, up here. When you're pursuing, you keep to the
high ground, so as to see; but when you're pursued you keep to the low
ground, so as not to be seen. That was the trappers' way.

I'll tell you what we did. There are two ways to throw pursuers off the
scent. We might have done as the Indians used to do. They would
separate, after a raid, and would spread out in a big fan-shape, every
one making a trail of his own, so that the soldiers would not know which
to follow; and after a long while they would come together again at some
point which they had agreed on. But we weren't ready to do this. It took
time, and we did not have any meeting-spot, exactly. So we left as big a
trail as we could, to make any town gang think that we were not
suspicious. That would throw them off their guard.

Single file we traveled across the mesa, and at the other side we dipped
into a little draw. Here we found Ute Creek, which we had planned to
follow up to its headwaters in the Medicine Range. A creek makes a good
guide. A cow-trail ran beside it.

"First-class Scout Fitzpatrick (that was Chris) and Second-class Scout
Bridger (that was I) drop out and watch the trail," commanded General
Ashley (that was Patrol Leader Roger Franklin). "Report at Bob Cat
Springs. We'll camp there for the night."

Chris and I knew what to do. We gave a big leap aside, to a flat rock,
and the other Scouts continued right along; and because they were single
file the trail didn't show any difference. I don't suppose that the town
gang would have noticed, anyway; but you must never despise the enemy.

From the flat rock Fitzpatrick and I stepped lightly, so as not to leave
much mark, on some dried grass, and made off up the side of the draw,
among the bushes. These grew as high as our shoulders, and formed a fine
ambuscade. We climbed far enough so that we could see both sides of the
draw and the trail in between; and by crawling we picked a good spot and
sat down.

We knew that we must keep still, and not talk. We kept so still that
field-mice played over our feet, and a bee lit on Fitzpatrick. He didn't
brush it off.

We could talk sign language; that makes no sound. Of course, Fitz could
talk with only one hand. He made the signs to watch down the trail, and
to listen; and I replied with men on horseback and be vigilant as a
wolf. (Note 12.)

It wasn't bad, sitting here in the sunshine, amidst the brush. The draw
was very peaceful and smelled of sage. A magpie flew over, his black and
white tail sticking out behind him; and he saw us and yelled. Magpies
are awful sharp, that way. They're a good sign to watch. Everything
tells something to a Scout, when he's an expert.

Sitting there, warm and comfortable, a fellow felt like going to sleep;
but Fitzpatrick was all eyes and ears, and I tried to be the same, as a
Scout should.



CHAPTER II

THE NIGHT ATTACK


We must have been squatting for an hour and a half, and the sun was down
close to the top of the draw, behind us, when Fitzpatrick nudged me with
his foot, and nodded. He made the sign of birds flying up and pointed
down the trail, below, us; so that I knew somebody was coming, around a
turn there. (Note 13.) We scarcely breathed. We just sat and watched,
like two mountain lions waiting.

Pretty soon they came riding along--four of them on horseback; we knew
the horses. The fellows were Bill Duane, Mike Delavan, Tony Matthews,
and Bert Hawley. They were laughing and talking because the trail we
made was plain and they thought that we all were pushing right on, and
if they could read sign they would know that the tracks were not extra
fresh.

We let them get out of sight; then we went straight down upon the trail,
and followed, alongside, so as not to step on top of their tracks and
show that we had come after.

We talked only by sign, and trailed slow, because they might be
listening or looking back. We wanted to find where they stopped. At
every turn we sneaked and Fitzpatrick stuck just his head around, to see
that the trail was clear. Suddenly he made sign to me that he saw them;
there were three on horseback, waiting, and one had gone on, walking, to
reconnoiter.

So we had to back-trail until we could make a big circle and strike the
trail on ahead. This wasn't open country here; there were cedars and
pinyons and big rocks. We circuited up and around, out of sight from the
trail, and came in, bending low and walking carefully so as not to crack
sticks, to listen and examine for sign. We found strange tracks--soles
without hob-nails, pointing one way but not coming back. We hid behind a
cedar, and waited. In about fifteen minutes Bill Duane walked right past
us, back to the other fellows.

Now we hurried on, for it was getting dark; and soon we smelled smoke,
and that meant camp. Fitzpatrick (who was a first-class Scout, while I
was only a second) reported to General Ashley the whereabouts of the
enemy.

"Very well," said General Ashley. "Corporal Andrew Henry (that was Tom
Scott) and Second-class Scout Jed Smith (that was Dick Smith) will go
back a quarter of a mile and picket the trail until relieved; the rest
of us will proceed with camp duties."

Major Henry and little Jed Smith set off. We finished establishing camp.
Two holes were dug for camp refuse; that was my business. Places for the
beds were cleared of sticks and things; that was Kit Carson's business.
General Ashley chopped a cedar stump for wood (cedar burns without soot,
you know); and Fitzpatrick cooked. The burros had been unpacked and the
flags planted before Fitzpatrick and I came in. We had to picket the
burros out, to graze, at first, or they might have gone back to town. Of
course, as we were short-handed, we had to do Henry's and Smith's work,
to-night, too: spread the beds before dark and bring water and such
things. (Note 14.)

For supper we had bacon and two cans of the beans and biscuits baked in
a reflector, and coffee. (Note 15.) Major Henry and Jed Smith were not
getting any supper yet, because they were still on picket duty. But when
we were through General Ashley said, "Kit Carson, you and Jim Bridger
relieve Henry and Smith, and tell them to come in to supper."

But just as we stood, to start, Major Henry walked in amongst us. He was
excited, and puffing, and he almost forgot to salute General Ashley, who
was Patrol leader.

"They're planning to come!" he puffed. "I sneaked close to them and
heard 'em talking!"

"Is this meant for a report?" asked General Ashley. And we others
snickered. It wasn't the right way to make a report.

"Yes, sir," answered Henry. "That is, I reconnoitered the enemy's camp,
sir, and they're talking about us."

"What did you hear?"

"They're going to rush us when we're asleep, and scare us."

"Very well," said General Ashley. "But you weren't ordered to do that.
You left your post, sir."

"I thought you'd like to know. They didn't hear me," stammered Major
Henry.

"You'd no business to go, just the same. Orders are orders. Where is
Smith?"

"Watching on picket."

"Did he go, too?"

"No, sir."

"You exceeded orders, and you ought to be court-martialed," said General
Ashley. And he was right, too. "But I'll give you another chance. When
is the enemy going to attack?"

"After we're asleep."

"What is he doing now?"

"Eating and smoking and waiting, down the trail."

"You can have some coffee and beans and bread, while we hold council.
Carson and Bridger can wait a minute."

The council didn't take long. General Ashley's plan was splendid, a joke
and a counter-attack in one. Major Henry ate as much as he could, but he
wasn't filled up when he was sent out again, into the dark, with Kit
Carson. They were ordered to tell Jed Smith to come in, but they were to
go on. You'll see what happened. This double duty was Henry's
punishment.

We cleaned up the camp, and then Jed Smith arrived. While he was eating
we made the beds. We drew up the tarpaulins, over blankets and quilts
rolled so that the beds looked exactly as if we were in them, our feet
to the fire (it was a little fire, of course) and our heads in shadow.
We tied the burros short; and then we went back into the cedars and
pinyons and sat down, quiet.

It wasn't pitchy dark. When the sky is clear it never gets pitchy dark,
in the open; and there was a quarter-moon shining, too. The night was
very still. The breeze just rustled the trees, but we could hear our
hearts beat. Once, about a mile away, a coyote barked like a crazy
puppy. He was calling for company. The stars twinkled down through the
stiff branches, and I tried to see the Great Dipper, but that took too
much squirming around.

We must not say a word, nor even whisper. We must just keep quiet, and
listen and wait. Down the trail poor Major Henry and Kit Carson were
having a harder time of it--but I would have liked to be along.

All of a sudden Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand nudged me gently with his
knuckles, and I nudged Jed Smith, and Jed passed it on, and it went
around from one to the other, so we all knew. Somebody was coming! We
could hear a stick snap, and a little laugh, off in the timber; it
sounded as though somebody had run into a branch. We waited. The enemy
was stealing upon our camp. We hid our faces in our coats and our hands
in our sleeves, so that no white should show. It was exciting, sitting
this way, waiting for the attack.

The gang tiptoed up, carefully, and we could just make out two of them
peering in at the beds. Then they all gave a tremendous yell, like
Indians or mountain lions, and rushed us--or what they thought was us.
They stepped on the beds and kicked at the tinware, and expected to
scare us stiff with the noise--but you ought to have seen how quick they
quit when nothing happened! We didn't pop out of the beds, and run! It
was funny--and I almost burst, trying not to laugh out loud, when they
stood, looking about, and feeling of the beds again.

"They aren't here," said Bill Duane. At a nudge from General Ashley we
had deployed, running low and swift, right and left.

"Poke the fire, so we can see," said Bert Hawley.

One of them did, so the fire blazed up--which was just what we wanted.
Now they were inside and we were outside. They began to talk.

"We'll pile up the camp, anyway."

"They're around somewhere."

"Let's take their burros."

"Take their flags."

Then General Ashley spoke up.

"No, you don't!" he said. "You let those things alone."

That voice, coming out of the darkness around, must have made them jump,
and for a minute they didn't know what to do. Then--

"Why?" asked Bill Duane, kind of defiantly.

"Wait a moment and we'll show you," answered General Ashley.

He whistled loud, our Scouts' signal whistle; and off down the trail
Major Henry or Kit Carson whistled back, and added the whistle that
meant "All right." (Note 16.)

"Hear that?" asked General Ashley. "That means we've got your horses!"

Hurrah! So we had. You see, Major Henry and Kit Carson had been sent
back to watch the enemy's camp; and when the gang had left, on foot, to
surprise us, our two scouts had gone in and captured the horses. We
couldn't help but whoop and yell a little, in triumph. But General
Ashley ordered "Silence!" and we quit.

"Aw, we were just fooling," said Tony Matthews. They talked together,
low, for a few moments; and Bill called: "Come on in. We won't hurt
you."

"Of course you won't," said General Ashley. "But _we_ aren't fooling. We
mean business. We'll keep the horses until you've promised to clear out
and let this camp alone."

"We don't want the horses. Two of 'em are hired and the longer you keep
them the more you'll have to pay." That was a lie. They didn't hire
horses. They borrowed.

"We can sleep here very comfortably, kid," said Mike Delavan.

"You'll not get much sleep in those beds," retorted General Ashley.
"Will they, boys!"

And we all laughed and said "No!"

"And after they've walked ten miles back to town, we'll bring in the
horses and tell how we took them."

The enemy talked together low, again.

"All right," said Bill Duane. "You give us our horses and we'll let the
camp alone."

"Do you promise?" asked General Ashley.

"Yes; didn't I say so?"

"Do you, Mike?"

"Sure; if you return those horses."

"Do you, Tony and Bert?"

"Uh huh."

That was the best way--to make each promise separately; for some one of
them might have claimed that he hadn't promised with the rest.

"Then go on down the trail, and you'll find the horses where you left
them."

"How do we know?"

"On the honor of a Scout," said General Ashley. "We won't try any
tricks, and don't you, for we'll be watching you until you start for
town."

They grumbled back, and with Bill Duane in the lead stumbled for the
trail. General Ashley whistled the signal agreed upon, for Major Henry
and Kit Carson to tie the horses and to withdraw. We might have followed
the enemy; but we would have risked dividing our forces too much and
leaving the camp. We were safer here.

So we waited, quiet; and after a time somebody signaled with the whistle
of the patrol. It was Kit Carson.

"They've gone, sir," he reported, when General Ashley called him.

"What did they say?"

"They're mad; but they're going into town and they'll get back at us
later."

"You saw them start, did you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Where's Henry?"

"Waiting to see if they turn or anything."

"They won't. They know we'll be ready for them. Shall we move camp, or
post sentries, boys?"

We voted to post sentries. It seemed an awful job to move camp, at this
time of night, and make beds over again, and all that. It was only ten
o'clock by General Ashley's watch, but it felt later. So we built up the
fire, and set some coffee on, and called Major Henry in, and General
Ashley and Jed Smith took the first spell of two hours; then they were
to wake up Fitzpatrick and me, for the next two hours; and Major Henry
and Kit Carson would watch from two till four, when it would be growing
light. But we didn't have any more trouble that night.



CHAPTER III

THE BIG TROUT


It was mighty hard work, turning out at five o'clock in the morning.
That was regulations, while on the march--to get up at five. The ones
who didn't turn out promptly had to do the dirty work--police the camp,
which is to clean it, you know.

Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand cooked; I helped, by opening packages,
preparing potatoes (if we had them), tending fire, etc.; Major Henry
chopped wood; Kit Carson and little Jed Smith looked after the burros,
Apache and Sally, and scouted in a circle for hostile sign; General
Ashley put the bedding in shape to pack.

But first it was regulations to take a cold wet rub when we were near
water. It made us glow and kept us in good shape. Then we brushed our
teeth and combed our hair. (Note 17.) After breakfast we policed the
camp, and dumped everything into a hole, or burned it, so that we left
the place just about as we had found it. We stamped out the fire, or put
dirt and water on it, of course. Then we packed the burros. General
Ashley, Jed Smith, and Kit Carson packed Sally; Major Henry, Thomas
Fitzpatrick, and I packed Apache. And by six-thirty we were on our way.

This morning we kept on up Ute Creek. It had its rise in Gray Bull
Basin, at the foot of old Pilot Peak, about forty miles away. We thought
we could make Gray Bull Basin in three days. Ten or twelve miles a day,
with burros, on the trail, up-hill all the way, is about as fast as
Scouts like us can keep going. Beyond Gray Bull we would have to find
our own trail over Pilot Peak.

Everything was fine, this morning. Birds were hopping among the cedars
and spruces, and in some places the ground was red with wild
strawberries. Pine squirrels scolded at us, and we saw two rabbits; but
we didn't stop to shoot them. We had bacon, and could catch trout higher
up the creek. Here were some beaver dams, and around the first dam lived
a big trout that nobody had been able to land. The beaver dams were
famous camping places for parties who could go this far, and everybody
claimed to have hooked the big trout and to have lost him again. He was
a native Rocky Mountain trout, and weighed four pounds--but he was
educated. He wouldn't be caught. He had only one eye; that was how
people knew him.

We didn't count upon that big trout, but we rather counted upon some
smaller ones; and anyway we must hustle on and put those ten miles
behind us before the enemy got in touch with us again. Our business was
to carry that message through, and not to stop and hunt or lose time
over uncalled-for things.

The creek foamed and rushed; its water was amber, as if stained by pine
needles. Sometimes it ran among big bowlders, and sometimes it was
crossed by fallen trees. Thomas Fitzpatrick picked up a beaver cutting.
That was an aspen stick (beavers like aspen and willow bark best) about
as large as your wrist and two feet long. It was green and the ends were
fresh, so there were beavers above us. And it wasn't water-soaked, so
that it could not have been cut and in the water very long. We were
getting close.

We traveled right along, and the country grew rougher. There were many
high bowlders, and we came to a canyon where the creek had cut between
great walls like a crack. There was no use in trying to go through this
canyon; the trail had faded out, and we were about to oblique off up the
hill on our side of the creek, to go around and strike the creek above
the canyon, when Kit Carson saw something caught on a brush-heap half in
the water, at the mouth of the canyon.

It was a chain. He leaned out and took hold of the chain, and drew it in
to shore. On the other end was a trap, and in the trap was a beaver. The
chain was not tied to the brush; it had just caught there, so it must
have been washed down. Then up above somebody was trapping beaver, which
was against the law. The beaver was in pretty bad condition. He must
have been drowned for a week or more. The trap had no brand on it.
Usually traps are branded on the pan, but this wasn't and that went to
show that whoever was trapping knew better. The sight of that beaver,
killed uselessly, made us sick and mad both. But we couldn't do anything
about it, except to dig a hole and bury trap and all, so that the creek
would wash clean, as it ought to be. Then we climbed up the steep hill,
over rocks and flowers, and on top followed a ridge, until ahead we saw
the creek again. It was in a little meadow here, and down we went for
it.

This was a beautiful spot. On one side the pines and spruces covered a
long slope which rose on and on until above timber line it was bare and
reddish gray; and away up were patches of snow; and beyond was the tip
of Pilot Peak. But on our side a forest fire had burned out the timber,
leaving only black stumps sticking up, with the ground covered by a new
growth of bushes. There was quite a difference between the two sides;
and we camped where we were, on the bare side, which was the safest for
a camp fire. It would have been a shame to spoil the other side, too.

We were tired, after being up part of the night and climbing all the
morning, and this was a good place to stop. Plenty of dry wood, plenty
of water, and space to spread our beds.

The creek was smooth and wide, here, about the middle of the park. The
beaver had been damming it. But although we looked about, after locating
camp and unpacking the burros, we couldn't find a fresh sign. We came
upon camp sign, though, two days old, at least. Somebody had trapped
every beaver and then had left.

That seemed mean, because it was against the law to trap beaver, and
here they weren't doing any harm. But the fire had laid waste one shore
of the pond, and animal killers had laid waste the pond itself.

We decided to have a big meal. There ought to be wild raspberries in
this burnt timber; wild raspberries always follow a forest fire--and
that is a queer thing, isn't it? So, after camp was laid out (which is
the first thing to do), and our flags set up, while Fitzpatrick the Bad
Hand and Major Henry built a fire and got things ready for dinner,
General Ashley and Kit Carson went after berries and little Jed Smith
and I were detailed to catch trout.

We had lines and hooks, but we didn't bother to pack rods, because you
almost always can get willows. (Note 18.) Some fellows would have cut
green willows, because they bend. We knew better. We cut a dead willow
apiece. We were after meat, and not just sport; and when we had a trout
bite we wanted to yank him right out. A stiff, dead willow will do that.
Grasshoppers were whirring around, among the dried trunks and the grass.
That is what grasshoppers like, a place where it's hot and open. As a
rule you get bigger fish with bait than you do with a fly, so we put on
grasshoppers. I hate sticking a hook into a grasshopper, or a worm
either; and we killed our grasshoppers quick by smashing their heads
before we hooked them.

It was going to be hard work, catching trout around this beaver pond.
The water was wide and smooth and shallow and clear, and a trout would
see you coming. When a trout knows that you are about, then the game is
off. Besides, lots of people had been fishing the pond, and the beaver
hunters must have been fishing it lately, according to sign. But that
made it all the more exciting. Little trout are caught easily, and the
big ones are left for the person who can outwit them.

After we were ready, we reconnoitered. We sat down and studied to see
where we'd prefer to be if we were a big trout. A big trout usually
doesn't prowl about much. He gets a lair, in a hole or under a bank, and
stays close, eating whatever comes his way, and chasing out all the
smaller trout. Sometimes he swims into the ripples, to feed; but back he
goes to his lair again.

So we studied the situation. There was no use in wading about, or
shaking the banks, and scaring trout, unless we had a plan. It looked to
me that if I were a big trout I'd be in a shady spot over across, where
the water swept around a low place of the dam and made a black eddy
under the branches of a spruce. Jed Smith said all right, I could try
that, and he would try where the bank on our side stuck out over the
water a little.

I figured that my hole would be fished by about everybody from the
water. Most persons would wade across, and cast up-stream to the edge of
it; and if a trout was still there he would be watching out for that. So
the way to surprise him would be to sneak on him from a new direction. I
went down below, and crossed (over my boot-tops) to the other side, and
followed up through the timber.

I had to crawl under the spruce--and I was mighty careful not to shake
the ground or to make any noise, for we needed fish. Nobody had been to
the hole from this direction; it was too hard work. By reaching out with
my pole I could just flip the hopper into the water. I tried twice; and
the second time I landed him right in the swirl. He hadn't floated an
inch when a yellowish thing calmly rose under him and he was gone!

I jerked up with the willow, and the line tightened and began to tug. I
knew by the color and the way he swallowed the hopper without any fuss
that he was a king trout, and if I didn't haul him right in he'd break
the pole or tear loose. I shortened pole like lightning and grabbed the
line; but it got tangled in the branches of the spruce, and the trout
was hung up with just his nose out of water.

Jiminy! but he was making the spray fly. He looked as big as a beaver,
and the hook was caught in the very edge of his lip. That made me hurry.
In a moment he'd be away. I suppose I leaned out too far, to grab the
line again, or to get him by the gills, for I slipped and dived
headfirst into the hole.

Whew, but the water was cold! It took my breath--but I didn't care. All
I feared was that now I'd lost the fish. He weighed four pounds, by this
time, I was sure. As soon as I could stand and open my eyes I looked for
him. When I had dived in I must have shaken loose the line, for it was
under water again, and part of the pole, too. I sprawled for the pole
and grabbed it as it was sliding out. The line tightened. The trout was
still on.

Now I must rustle for the shore. So I did, paying out the pole behind me
so as not to tear the hook free; and the minute I scrambled knee-deep,
with a big swing I hustled that trout in and landed him in the brush
just as he flopped off!

I tell you, I was glad. Some persons would have wanted a reel and light
tackle, to play him--but we were after meat.

"I've got one--a big one!" I yelled, across to where Jed Smith was.

"So have I!" yelled little Jed back.

I had picked my trout up. He wasn't so awful big, after all; only about
fifteen inches long, which means two pounds. He was an Eastern brook
trout. They grow larger in the cold water of the West than they do in
their own homes. But I looked for Jed--and then dropped my trout and
waded over to help _him_.

He was out in the water, up to his waist, and something was jerking him
right along.

"I can't get him out!" he called, as I was coming. "How big is yours?"

"Fifteen inches."

"This one's as big as I am--big native!" And you should have heard Jed
grunt, as the line just surged around, in the current.

"Want any help?" I asked.

"Uh uh. If he can lick me, then he ought to get away."

"Where'd you catch him?"

"Against the bank."

"Swing him down the current and then lift him right in shore!"

"Look out he doesn't tear loose!"

"He'll break that pole!"

Fitzpatrick and Major Henry were yelling at us from the fire; and then
Jed stubbed his toe on a rock and fell flat. He didn't let the pole go,
though. He came up sputtering and he was as wet as I.

"Swing him down and then lift him right in!" kept shouting Fitz and
Major Henry. That was the best plan.

"All right," answered Jed. "You take the pole and start him," he said to
me. "I'd have to haul him against the current." I was below him, of
course, so as to head the trout up-stream.

He tossed the butt at me and I caught it. That was generous of Jed--to
let me get the fish out, when he'd been the one to hook it. But we were
Scouts together, and we were after meat for all, not glory for one.

I took the pole and with a swing downstream kept Mr. Trout going until
he shot out to the edge of the pond, and there Fitz tumbled on top of
him and grabbed him with one hand by the gills.

When we held him up we gave our Patrol yell:

    B. S. A.! B. S. A.!
    Elks! Elks! Hoo-ray!
    Oooooooooooo!



CHAPTER IV

THE BEAVER MAN


For he was a great one, that trout! He was the big fellow that everybody
had been after, because he was twenty-six inches long and weighed four
pounds and had only one eye! That was good woodcraft, for a boy twelve
years old to sneak up on him and catch him with a willow pole and a line
tied fast and a grasshopper, when regular fishermen with fine outfits
had been trying right along. Of course they'll say we didn't give him
any show--but after he was hooked there was no use in torturing him. The
hooking is the principal part.

Jed showed us how he had worked. He hadn't raised anything in the first
hole, by the bank, and he had gone on to another place that looked good.
Lots of people had fished this second place; there was a regular path to
it through the weeds, on the shore side; and below it, along the
shallows, the mud was full of tracks. But Jed had been smart. A trout
usually lies with his head up-stream, so as to gobble whatever comes
down. But here the current set in with a back-action, so that it made a
little eddy right against the bank--and a trout in that particular spot
would have his nose _downstream_. So Jed fished from the direction
opposite to that from which other persons had fished. He went around,
and approached from up-stream, awfully careful not to make any noise or
raise any settlings. Then he reached far and bounced his hopper from the
bank into the edge--as if it had fallen of itself--and it was gobbled
quick as a wink and the old trout pulled Jed in, too.

So in fishing as in other scouting, I guess, you ought to do what the
enemy isn't expecting you to do.

My trout was just a minnow beside of Jed's; and the two of them were all
we could eat, so we quit; Jed and I stripped off our wet clothes and
took a rub with a towel and sat in dry underclothes, while the wet stuff
was hung up in the sun. We felt fine.

That was a great dinner. We rolled the trout in mud and baked them
whole. And we had fried potatoes, hot bread (or what people would call
biscuits), and wild raspberries with condensed milk. General Ashley and
Kit Carson had brought in a bucket of them. They were thick, back in the
burnt timber, and were just getting ripe.

After the big dinner and the washing of the dishes we lay around
resting. Jed Smith and I couldn't do much until our clothes were dry. We
stuffed our boots with some newspapers we had, to help them dry. (Note
19.) While we were resting, Fitzpatrick made our "Sh!" sign which said
"Watch out! Danger!" and with his hand by his side pointed across the
beaver pond.

We looked, with our eyes but not moving, so as not to attract attention.
Yes, a man had stepped out to the edge of the timber, at the upper end
of the pond and across, and was standing. Maybe he thought we didn't see
him, but we did. And he saw us, too; for after a moment he stepped back
again, and was gone. He had on a black slouch hat. He wasn't a large
man.

We pretended not to have noticed him, until we were certain that he
wasn't spying from some other point. Then General Ashley spoke, in a low
tone: "He acted suspicious. We ought to reconnoiter. Scouts Fitzpatrick
and Bridger will circle around the upper end of the pond, and Scout Kit
Carson and I will circle the lower. Scouts Corporal Henry and Jed Smith
will guard camp."

My boots were still wet, but I didn't mind. So we started off, in pairs,
which was the right way, Fitz and I for the upper end of the pond. I
carried a pole, as if we were going fishing, and we didn't hurry. We
sauntered through the brush, and where the creek was narrow we crossed
on some rocks, and followed the opposite shore down, a few yards back,
so as to cut the spy's tracks. I might not have found them, among the
spruce needles; but Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand did. He found a heel mark,
and by stooping down and looking along we could see a line where the
needles had been kicked up, to the shore. Marks show better, sometimes,
when you look this way, along the ground; but we could have followed,
anyhow, I think.

The footprints were plain in the soft sand; if he had stood back a
little further, and had been more careful where he stepped, we might not
have found the tracks so easily; but he had stepped on some soft sand
and mud. We knew that he was not a large man, because we had seen him;
and we didn't believe that he was a prospector or a miner, because his
soles were not hobbed--or a cow-puncher, because he had no high heels to
sink in; he may have been a rancher, out looking about.

"He must be left-handed," said Fitz.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because, see?" and then he told me.

Sure enough. That was smart of Fitz, I thought. But he's splendid to
read sign.

Now we followed the tracks back. The man had come down and had returned
by the same route. And up in the timber about fifty yards he had had a
horse. We read how he had been riding through, and had stopped, and got
off and walked down to the pond, and stood, and walked back and mounted
again and ridden on. All that was easy for Fitz, and I could read most
of it myself.

We trailed the horse until the tracks surely went away from the pond
into the timber country; then we let it go, and met General Ashley, to
report. General Ashley and Kit Carson also examined the prints in the
sand, and we all agreed that the man probably was left-handed.

Now, why had he come down to the edge of the pond, on purpose, and
looked at it and at us, and then turned up at a trot into the timber? It
would seem as if he might have been afraid that we had seen him, and he
didn't want to be seen. But all our guesses here and after we reached
camp again didn't amount to much, of course.

We decided to stay for the night. It was a good camp place, and we
wouldn't gain anything, maybe, by starting on, near night, and getting
caught in the timber in the dark. And this would give the burros a good
rest and a fill-up before their climb.

The burned stretch where we were was plumb full of live things--striped
chipmunks, and pine squirrels, and woodpecker families. Fitzpatrick
started in to take chipmunk pictures--and you ought to see how he can
manage a camera with one hand. He holds it between his knees or else
under his left arm, to draw the bellows out, and the rest is easy.

He scouted about and got some pictures of chipmunks real close, by
waiting, and a picture of a woodpecker feeding young ones, at a hole in
a dead pine stump. This was a good place for bear to come, after the
berries; and we were hoping that one would amble in while we were there
so that Fitz could take a picture of it, too. Bears don't hurt people
unless people try to hurt them; and a bear would sooner have raspberries
than have a man or boy, any day. Fitzpatrick thought that if he could
get a good picture of a bear, out in the open, that would bring him a
Scout's honor. Of course, chipmunk pictures help, too. But while we were
resting and fooling and taking pictures, and General Ashley was bringing
his diary and his map up to date, for record, we had another visitor.
(Note 20.)

A man came riding a dark bay horse, with white nose and white right fore
foot, along our side of the beaver pond, and halted at our camp. The
horse had left ear swallow-tailed and was branded with a Diamond Five on
the right shoulder. The man wasn't the man we had seen across the pond,
for he wore a sombrero, and was taller and had on overalls, and
cow-puncher boots.

[Illustration]

"Howdy?" he said.

"How are you?" we answered.

He sort of lazily dismounted, and yawned--but his sharp eyes were taking
us and our camp all in.

"Out fishing?" he asked.

"No, sir. Passing through," said General Ashley.

"Going far?"

"Over to Green Valley."

"Walking?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good place for beaver, isn't it?"

"A bad place."

"That so? Used to be some about here. Couldn't catch any, eh?"

"We aren't trying. But it seems a bad place for beaver because the only
one we have seen is a dead one in a trap."

The man waked up. "Whose trap?"

"We don't know." And the general went on to explain.

The man nodded. "I'm a deputy game warden," he said at last. "Somebody's
been trapping beaver in here, and it's got to stop. Haven't seen any one
pass through?"

We had. The general reported.

"Smallish man?"

"Yes, sir."

"Roan hoss branded quarter circle D on the left hip? Brass-bound
stirrups?"

"We didn't see the horse; but we think the man was left-handed," said
the general.

"Why?"

"He was left-footed, because there was a hole in the sole of the left
shoe, and that would look as though he used his left foot more than his
right. So we think he may be left-handed, too." (Note 21.)

The game warden grunted. He eyed our flag.

"You kids must be regular Boy Scouts."

"We are."

"Then I reckon you aren't catching any beaver. All right, I'll look for
a left-footed man, maybe left-handed. But it's this fellow on the roan
hoss I'm after. He's been trying to sell pelts. There's no use my
trailing him, to-day. But I'll send word ahead, and if you lads run
across him let somebody know. Where are you bound for?"

The general told him.

"By way of Pilot Peak?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, I'll tell you a short cut. You see that strip of young timber
running up over the ridge? That's an old survey trail. It crosses to the
other side. Over beyond you'll strike Dixon's Park and a ruined
saw-mill. After that you can follow up Dixon's Creek."

We thanked him and he mounted and rode away.



CHAPTER V

TWO RECRUITS


When we got up in the morning, the mountains still had their night-caps
on. White mist was floating low about their tips, and lying in the
gulches like streams and lakes. Above timber-line, opposite us, was a
long layer of cloud, with the top of old Pilot Peak sticking through.

This was a weather sign, although the sun rose clear and the sky was
blue. Nightcaps are apt to mean a showery day. (Note 22.) We took our
wet rub, ate breakfast, policed the camp and killed the fire, and
General Ashley put camphor and cotton against little Jed Smith's back
tooth, to stop some aching. Maybe there was a hole in the tooth, or
maybe Jed had just caught cold in it, after being wet; but he ought to
have had his teeth looked into before he started out on the scout.
(Note 23.) Anyway, the camphor stopped the ache--and made him dance,
too.

We crossed the creek, above the beaver pond, and struck off into the old
survey trail that cut over the ridge. The brush was thick, and the trees
had sprung up again, so that really it wasn't a regular trail unless
you had known about it. The blazes on the side trees had closed over.
But all the same, by watching the scars, and by keeping in the line
where the trees always opened out, and by watching the sky as it showed
before, we followed right along.

After we had been traveling about two hours, we heard thunder and that
made us hustle the more, to get out of the thin timber, so that we would
not be struck by lightning. (Note 24.) The wind moaned through the
trees. The rain was coming, sure.

The trail was diagonally up-hill, all the way, and if we had been
cigarette smokers we wouldn't have had breath enough to hit the fast
pace that General Ashley set. The burros had to trot, and it made little
Jed Smith, who is kind of fat, wheeze; but we stuck it out and came to a
flat place of short dried grass and bushes, with no trees. Here we
stopped. We were about nine thousand feet up.

From where we were we could see the storm. It was flowing down along a
bald-top mountain back from our camp at the beaver pond, and looked like
gray smoke. The sun was just being swallowed. Well, all we could do was
to wait and take it, and see how bad it was. We tied Sally and Apache to
some bushes, but we didn't unpack them, of course. The tarps on top
would keep the grub from getting wet.

The storm made a grand sight, as it rolled toward us, over the timber.
And soon it was raining below us, down at the beaver pond--and then,
with a drizzle and a spatter, the rain reached us, too.

We sat hunched, under our hats, and took it. We might have got under
blankets--but that would have given us soaked blankets for night, unless
we had stretched the tarps, too; and if we had stretched the tarps then
the rest of our packs would have suffered. The best way is to crawl
under a spruce, where the limbs have grown close to the ground. But not
in a thunder storm. And it is better to be wet yourself and have a dry
camp for night, than to be dry yourself and have a wet camp for night.

Anyway, the rain didn't hurt us. While it thundered and lightened and
the drops pelted us well, we sang our Patrol song--which is a song like
one used by the Black feet Indians:

    "The Elk is our Medicine,
    He makes us very strong.
    The Elk is our Medicine,
    The Elk is our Medicine,
    The Elk is our Medicine,
    He makes us very strong.
    Ooooooooooooooooooooooo!"

And when the thunder boomed we sang at it:

    "The _Thunder_ is our Medicine--"

to show that we weren't afraid of it.

The squall passed on over us, and when it had about quit we untied the
burros and started on again. In just a minute we were warm and sweating
and could shed our coats; and the sun came out hot to dry us off.

We crossed the ridge, and on the other side we saw Dixon's Park. We knew
it was Dixon's Park, because the timber had been cut from it, and
Dixon's Park had had a saw-mill twenty years ago.

Once this park had been grown over with trees, like the side of the
ridge where we had been climbing; but that saw-mill had felled
everything in sight, so that now there were only old stumps and dead
logs. It looked like a graveyard. If the mill had been watched, as most
mills are to-day, and had been made to leave part of the trees, then the
timber would have grown again.

Down through the graveyard we went, and stopped for nooning at the
little creek which ran through the bottom. There weren't any fish in
this creek; the mill had killed the timber, and it had driven out the
fish with sawdust. It was just a dead place, and there didn't seem to be
even chipmunks.

We had nooning at the ruins of the mill. Tin cans and old boot soles and
rusted pipe were still scattered about. We were a little tired, and more
rain was coming, so we made a fire by finding dry wood underneath slabs
and things, and had tea and bread and butter. That rested us. Little
Jed Smith was only twelve years old, and we had to travel to suit him
and not just to suit us bigger boys. I'm fourteen and Major Henry is
sixteen. All the afternoon was showery; first we were dry, then we were
wet; and there wasn't much fun about sloshing and slipping along; but we
pegged away, and climbed out of Dixon's Park to the ridge beyond it. Now
we could see old Pilot Peak plain, and keeping to the high ground we
made for it. It didn't look to be very far away; but we didn't know,
now, all the things that lay between.

The top of this ridge was flat, and the forest reserve people had been
through and piled up the brush, so that a fire would not spread easily.
That made traveling good, and we hiked our best. Down in a gulch beside
us there was a stream: Dixon's Creek. But we kept to the high ground,
with our eyes open for a good camping spot, for the dark would close in
early if the rain did not quit. And nobody can pick a good camping place
in the dark.

Regular rest means a great deal when you are traveling across country.
Even cowboys will tell you that. They bed down as comfortably as they
can, every time, on the round-up.

After a while we came to a circular little spot, hard and flat, where
the timber had opened out. And General Ashley stopped and with a whirl
dug in his heel as sign that we would camp here. There was wood and
drainage and grass for the burros, and no danger of setting fire to the
trees if we made a big fire. We had to carry water up from the creek
below, but that was nothing.

Now we must hustle and get the camp in shape quick, before the things
get wet. While Fitzpatrick picked out a spot for his fire and Major
Henry chopped wood, two of us unpacked each burro. We put the things
under a tarp, and I started to bring up the water, but General Ashley
spoke.

"We're out of meat," he said. "You take the rifle and shoot a couple of
rabbits. There ought to be rabbits about after the rain."

This suited me. He handed me the twenty-two rifle and five cartridges;
out of those five cartridges I knew I could get two rabbits or else I
wasn't any good as a hunter. The sun was shining once more, and the
shadows were long in the timber, so I turned to hunt against the sun,
and put my shadow behind me. Of course, that wouldn't make _very_ much
difference, because rabbits usually see you before you see them; but I
was out after meat and must not miss any chances. There always is a
right way and a wrong way.

This was a splendid time to hunt for rabbits, right after a rain. They
come out then before dark, and nibble about. And you can walk on the
wetness without much noise. Early morning and the evening are the best
rabbit hours, anyway.

I walked quick and straight-footed, looking far ahead, and right and
left, through the timber, to sight whatever moved. Yet I might be
passing close to a rabbit, without seeing him, for he would be
squatting. So I looked behind, too. And after I had walked about twenty
minutes, I did see a rabbit. He was hopping, at one side, through the
bushes; he gave only about three hops, and squatted, to let me pass. So
I stopped stock-still, and drew up my rifle. He was about thirty yards
away, and was just a bunch like a stone; but I held my breath and aimed
at where his ears joined his head, and fired quick. He just kicked a
little. That was a pretty good shot and I was glad, for I didn't want to
hurt him and we had to have meat.

I hunted quite a while before I saw another rabbit. The next one was a
big old buck rabbit, because his hind quarters around his tail were
brown; young rabbits are white there. He hopped off, without stopping,
and I whistled at him--wheet! Then he stopped, and I missed him. I shot
over him, because I was in a hurry. I went across and saw where the
bullet had hit. And he had ducked.

He hopped out of sight, through the brush; so I must figure where he
probably would go. On beyond was a hilly place, with rocks, and probably
he lived here--and rabbits usually make up-hill when they're
frightened. So I took a circle, to cut him off; and soon he hopped again
and squatted. This time I shot him through the head, where I aimed; so I
didn't hurt him, either. I picked him up and was starting back for camp,
because two rabbits were enough, when I heard somebody shouting. It
didn't sound like a Scout's shout, but I answered and waited and kept
answering, and in a few minutes a strange boy came running and walking
fast through the trees. He carried a single-barrel shotgun.

He never would have seen me if I hadn't spoken; but when he wasn't more
than ten feet from me I said: "What's the matter?"

He jumped and saw me standing. "Hello," he panted. "Was it you who was
shooting and calling?"

"Yes."

"Why didn't you come on, then?" he scolded. He was angry.

"Because you were coming," I said. "I stood still and called back, to
guide you."

"What did you shoot at?"

"Rabbits."

He hadn't seen them before, but now he saw them on the ground. "Aw,
jiminy!" he exclaimed. "We've got something better than that, but we
can't make a fire and our matches are all wet and so are our blankets,
and we don't know what to do. There's another fellow with me. We're
lost."

He was a sight; wet and dirty and sweaty from running, and scared.

"What are you doing? Camping?" I asked.

He nodded. "We started for Duck Lake, with nothing but blankets and what
grub we could carry; but we got to chasing around and we missed the
trail and now we don't know where we are. Gee, but we're wet and cold.
Where's your camp?"

"Back on the ridge."

"Got a fire?"

"Uh huh," I nodded. "Sure."

"Come on," he said. "We'll go and get the other fellow and then we'll
camp near you so as to have some fire."

"All right," I said.

He led off, and I picked up the rabbits and followed. He kept hooting,
and the other boy answered, and we went down into the gulch where the
creek flowed. Now, that was the dickens of a place to camp! Anybody
ought to know better than to camp down at the bottom of a narrow gulch,
where it is damp and nasty and dark. They did it because it was beside
the water, and because there was some soft grass that they could lie on.
(Note 25.)

The other boy was about seventeen, and was huddled in a blanket, trying
to scratch a match and light wet paper. He wore a big Colt's
six-shooter on a cartridge belt about his waist.

"Come out, Bat," called the boy with me. "Here's a kid from another
camp, where they have fire and things."

Bat grunted, and they gathered their blankets and a frying-pan and other
stuff.

"Lookee! This beats rabbit," said the first boy (his name was Walt); and
he showed me what they had killed. It was four grouse!

Now, that was mean.

"It's against the law to kill grouse yet," I told him.

"Aw, what do we care?" he answered. "Nobody knows."

"It's only a week before the season opens, anyhow," spoke Bat. "We got
the old mother and all her chickens. If we hadn't, somebody would,
later."

Fellows like that are as bad as a forest fire. Just because of them,
laws are made, and they break them and the rest of us keep them.

We climbed out of the gulch, and I was so mad I let them carry their own
things. The woods were dusky, and I laid a straight course for camp. It
was easy to find, because I knew that I had hunted with my back to it,
in sound of the water on my left. All we had to do was to follow through
the ridge with the water on our right, and listen for voices.

I tell you, that camp looked good. The boys had two fires, a big one to
dry us by and a little one to cook by. (Note 26.) One of the tarps had
been laid over a pole in crotched stakes, about four feet high, and tied
down at the ends (Note 27), for a dog-tent, and spruce trimmings and
brush had been piled behind for a wind-break and to reflect the heat.
Inside were the spruce needles that carpeted the ground and had been
kept dry by branches, and a second tarp had been laid to sleep on, with
the third tarp to cover us, on top of the blankets. The flags had been
set up. Fitzpatrick was cooking, Major Henry was dragging more wood to
burn, the fellows were drying damp stuff and stacking it safe under the
panniers, or else with their feet to the big blaze were drying
themselves, the burros were grazing close in. It was as light as day,
with the flames reflected on the trees and the flags, and it seemed just
like a trappers' bivouac.

Then we walked into the circle; and when the fellows saw the rabbits
they gave a cheer. After I reported to General Ashley and turned the two
boys over to him, I cleaned the rabbits for supper.

The two new boys, Bat and Walt, threw down their stuff and sat by the
fire to get warm. Bat still wore his big six-shooter. They dropped
their grouse in plain sight, but nobody said a word until Bat (he was
the larger one) spoke up, kind of grandly, when I was finishing the
rabbits:

"There's some birds. If you'll clean 'em we'll help you eat 'em."

"No, thanks. We don't want them," answered General Ashley.

"Why not?"

"It's against the law."

"Aw, what difference does that make now?" demanded Walt. "There aren't
any game wardens 'round. And it's only a week before the law goes out,
anyway."

"But the grouse are dead, just the same," retorted General Ashley. "They
couldn't be any deader, no matter how long it is before the law opens,
or if a game warden was right here!" He was getting angry, and when he's
angry he isn't afraid to say anything, because he's red-headed.

"You'd like to go and tell, then; wouldn't you!" they sneered.

"I'd tell if it would do any good." And he would, too; and so would any
of us. "The game laws are made to be kept. Those were our grouse and you
stole them."

"Who are you?"

"Well, we happen to be a bunch of Boy Scouts. But what I mean is, that
we fellows who keep the law let the game live on purpose so that
everybody will have an equal chance at it, and then fellows like you
come along and kill it unfairly. See?"

Humph! The two kids mumbled and kicked at the fire, as they sat; and Bat
said: "We've got to have something to eat. I suppose we can cook our own
meat, can't we?"

"I suppose you can," answered General Ashley, "if it'll taste good to
you."

So, while Fitz was cooking on the small fire, they cleaned their own
birds (I didn't touch them) and cooked over some coals of the big fire.
But Fitz made bread enough for all, and there was other stuff; and the
general told them to help themselves. We didn't want to be mean. The
camp-fire is no place to be mean at. A mean fellow doesn't last long,
out camping.

They had used bark for plates. They gave their fry-pan a hasty rub with
sticks and grass, and cleaned their knives by sticking them into the
ground; and then they squatted by the fire and lighted pipes. After our
dishes had been washed and things had been put away for the night, and
the burros picketed in fresh forage, we prepared to turn in. The clouds
were low and the sky was dark, and the air was damp and chilly; so
General Ashley said:

"You fellows can bunk in with us, under the tarps. We can make room."

But no! They just laughed. "Gwan," they said. "We're used to traveling
light. We just roll up in a blanket wherever we happen to be. We aren't
tenderfeet."

Well, we weren't, either. But we tried to be comfortable. When you are
uncomfortable and sleep cold or crampy, that takes strength fighting it;
and we were on the march to get that message through. So we crawled into
bed, out of the wind and where the spruce branches partly sheltered us,
and our tarps kept the dampness out and the wind, too. The two fellows
opened their blankets (they had one apiece!) by the fire and lay down
and rolled up like logs and seemed to think that they were the smarter.
We let them, if they liked it so.

The wind moaned through the trees; all about us the timber was dark and
lonesome. Only Apache and Sally, the burros, once in a while grunted as
they stood as far inside the circle as they could get; but snuggled in
our bed, low down, our heads on our coats, we were as warm as toast.

During the night I woke up, to turn over. Now and then a drop of rain
hit the tarp tent. The fire was going again, and I could hear the two
fellows talking. They were sitting up, feeding it, and huddled Injun
fashion with their blankets over their shoulders, smoking their old
pipes, and thinking (I guessed) that they were doing something big,
being uncomfortable. But it takes more than such foolishness--wearing a
big six-shooter when there is nothing to shoot, and sleeping out in the
rain when cover is handy--to make a veteran. Veterans and real Scouts
act sensibly. (Note 28.)

When next I woke and stretched, the sun was shining and it was time to
get up.



CHAPTER VI

A DISASTROUS DOZE


The two fellows were sound asleep when we turned out. They were lying in
the sun, rolled up and with their faces covered to keep the light away.
We didn't pay any attention to them, but had our wet rub and went ahead
attending to camp duties. After a while one of them (Walt, it was)
turned over, and wriggled, and threw the blanket off his face, and
blinked about. He was bleary-eyed and sticky-faced, as if he had slept
too hard but not long enough. And I didn't see how he had had enough air
to breathe.

But he grinned, and yawned, and said: "You kids get up awful early. What
time is it?"

"Six o'clock."

He-haw! And he yawned some more. Then he sat up and let his blanket go
and kicked Bat. "Breakfast!" he shouted.

That made Bat grunt and grumble and wriggle; and finally uncover, too.
They acted as if their mouths might taste bad, after the pipes.

We hadn't made a big fire, of course; but breakfast was about ready, on
the little fire, and Fitz our cook sang out, according to our
regulations: "Chuck!"

That was the camp's signal call.

"If you fellows want to eat with us, draw up and help yourselves,"
invited General Ashley.

"Sure," they answered; and they crawled out of their blankets, and got
their pieces of bark, and opened their knives, and without washing their
faces or combing their hair they fished into the dishes, for bacon and
bread and sorghum and beans.

That was messy; but we wanted to be hospitable, so we didn't say
anything.

"Where are you kids bound for, anyway?" asked Bat.

"Over the Divide," told General Ashley.

"Why can't we go along?"

That staggered us. They weren't our kind; and besides, we were all Boy
Scouts, and our party was big enough as it was. So for a moment nobody
answered. And then Walt spoke up.

"Aw, we won't hurt you any. What you afraid of? We aren't tenderfeet,
and we'll do our share. We'll throw in our grub and we won't use your
dishes. We've got our own outfit."

"I don't know. We'll have to vote on that," said General Ashley. "We're
a Patrol of Boy Scouts, traveling on business."

"What's that--Boy Scouts?" demanded Bat.

We explained, a little.

"Take us in, then," said Walt. "We're good scouts--ain't we, Bat?"

But they weren't. They didn't know anything about Scouts and Scouts'
work.

"We could admit you as recruits, on the march," said General Ashley.
"But we can't swear you in."

"Aw, we'll join the gang now and you can swear us in afterwards," said
Bat.

"Well," said General Ashley, doubtfully, "we'll take a vote."

We all drew off to one side, and sat in council. It seemed to me that we
might as well let them in. That would be doing them a good turn, and we
might help them to be clean and straight and obey the laws. Boys who
seem mean as dirt, to begin with, often are turned into fine Scouts.

"Now we'll all vote just as we feel about it," said General Ashley. "One
black-ball will keep them out. 'N' means 'No'; 'Y' means 'Yes.'"

The vote was taken by writing with a pencil on bits of paper, and the
bits were put into General Ashley's hat. Everything was "Y"--and the
vote was unanimous to let them join. So everybody must have felt the
same about it as I did.

General Ashley reported to them. "You can come along," he said; "but
you've got to be under discipline, the same as the rest of us. And if
you prove to be Scouts' stuff you can be sworn in later. But I'm only a
Patrol leader and I can't swear you."

"Sure!" they cried. "We'll be under discipline. Who's the boss? You?"

We had made a mistake. Here started our trouble. But we didn't know. We
thought that we were doing the right thing by giving them a chance. You
never can tell.

They volunteered to wash the dishes, and went at it; and we let them
throw their blankets and whatever else they wanted to get rid of in with
the packs. We were late; and anyway we didn't think it was best to start
in fussing and disciplining; they would see how Scouts did, and perhaps
they would catch on that way. Only--

"You'll have to cut that out," ordered General Ashley, as we were ready
to set out. He meant their pipes. They had stuck them in their mouths
and had lighted them.

"What? Can't we hit the pipe?" they both cried.

"Not with us," declared the general. "It's against the regulations."

"Aw, gee!" they complained. "That's the best part of camping--to load up
the old pipe."

"Not for a Scout. He likes fresh air," answered General Ashley. "He
needs his wind, too, and smoking takes the wind. Anyway, we're traveling
through the enemy's country, and a pipe smells, and it's against Scout
regulations to smoke."

They stuffed their pipes into their pockets.

"Who's the enemy?" they asked.

"We're carrying a message and some other boys are trying to stop us.
That's all."

"We saw some kids, on the other side of that ridge," they cried.
"They're from the same town you are. Are they the ones?"

"What did they look like?" we asked.

"One was a big kid with black eyes--" said Bat.

"Aw, he wasn't big. The big kid had blue eyes," interrupted Walt.

"How many in the party?" we asked.

"Four," said Bat.

"Five," said Walt.

"Any horses?"

"Yes."

"What were the brands?"

"We didn't notice," they said.

"Was one horse a bay with a white nose, and another a black with a bob
tail?"

"Guess so," they said.

So we didn't know much more than we did before; we could only suspect.
Of course, there were other parties of boys camping, in this country. We
weren't the only ones. If Bat and Walt had been a little smart they
might have helped us. They didn't use their eyes.

We followed the ridge we were on, as far as we could, because it was
high and free from brush. General Ashley and Major Henry led, as usual,
with the burros behind (those burros would follow now like dogs, where
there wasn't any trail for them to pick out), and then the rest of us,
the two recruits panting in the rear. Bat had belted on his big
six-shooter, and Walt carried the shotgun.

We traveled fast, as usual, when we could; that gave us more time in the
bad places. Pilot Peak stuck up, beyond some hills, ahead. We kept an
eye on him, for he was our landmark, now that we had broken loose from
trails. He didn't seem any nearer than he was the day before.

The ridge ended in a point, beyond which was a broad pasture-like
meadow, with the creek winding in a semicircle through it. On across was
a steep range of timber hills--and Pilot Peak and some other peaks rose
beyond, with snow and rocks. In the flat a few cattle were grazing, like
buffalo, and we could see an abandoned cabin which might have been a
trapper's shack. It was a great scene; so free and peaceful and wild and
gentle at the same time.

We weren't tired, but we halted by the stream in the flat to rest the
burros and to eat something. We took off the packs, and built a little
fire of dry sage, and made tea, while Sally and Apache took a good roll
and then grazed on weeds and flowers and everything. This was fine,
here in the sunshine, with the blue sky over and the timber sloping up
on all sides, and the stream singing.

After we had eaten some bread and drunk some tea we Scouts rested, to
digest; but Bat and Walt the two recruits loafed off, down the creek,
and when they got away a little we could see them smoking. On top of
that, they hadn't washed the dishes. So I washed them.

After a while they came back on the run, but they weren't smoking now.
"Say!" they cried, excited. "We found some deer-tracks. Let's camp back
on the edge of the timber, and to-night when the deer come down to drink
we'll get one!"

That was as bad as shooting grouse. It wasn't deer season. They didn't
seem to understand.

"Against the law," said General Ashley. "And we're on the march, to go
through as quick as we can. It's time to pack."

"I'll pack one of those burros. I'll show you how," offered Bat. So we
let them go ahead, because they might know more than we. They led up
Sally, while Major Henry and Jed Smith and Kit Carson began to pack
Apache. The recruits threw on the pack, all right, and passed the rope;
but Sally moved because they were so rough, and Bat swore and kicked her
in the stomach.

"Get around there!" he said.

"Here! You quit that," scolded Fitzpatrick, first. "That's no way to
treat an animal." He was angry; we all were angry. (Note 29.)

"It's the way to treat this animal," retorted Bat. "I'll kick her head
off if she doesn't stand still. See?"

"No, you won't," warned General Ashley.

"If you can pack a burro so well, pack her yourself, then," answered
Walt.

"Fitzpatrick, you and Jim Bridger help me with Sally," ordered the
general; and we did. We threw the diamond hitch in a jiffy and the pack
stuck on as if it were glued fast.

The two recruits didn't have much more to say; but when we took up the
march again they sort of sulked along, behind. We thought best to follow
up the creek, through the flat, instead of making a straight climb of
the timber beyond. That would have been hard work, and slow work, and
you can travel a mile in the open in less time than you can travel half
a mile through brush.

A cattle trail led up through the flat. This flat closed, and then
opened by a little pass into another flat. We saw plenty of tracks where
deer had come down to the creek and had drunk. There were tracks of
bucks, and of does and of fawns. Walt and Bat kept grumbling and
talking. They wanted to stop off and camp, and shoot.

Pilot Peak was still on our left; but toward evening the trail we were
following turned off from the creek and climbed through gooseberry and
thimbleberry bushes to the top of a plateau, where was a park of cedars
and flowers, and where was a spring. General Ashley dug in with his
heel, and we off-packs, to camp. It was a mighty good camping spot,
again. (Note 30.) The timber thickened, beyond, and there was no sense
in going on into it, for the night. Into the heel mark we stuck the
flagstaff.

We went right ahead with our routine. The recruits had a chance to help,
if they wanted to. But they loafed. There was plenty of time before
sunset. The sun shone here half an hour or more longer than down below.
We were up pretty high; some of the aspens had turned yellow, showing
that there had been a frost, already. So we thought that we must be up
about ten thousand feet. The stream we followed had flowed swift,
telling of a steep grade.

Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand got out his camera, to take pictures. He never
wasted any time. Not ordinary camp pictures, you know, but valuable
pictures, of animals and sunsets and things. Jays and speckled
woodpeckers were hopping about, and a pine-squirrel sat on a limb and
scolded at us until he found that we were there to fit in and be company
for him. One side of the plateau fell off into rocks and cliffs, and a
big red ground-hog was lying out on a shelf in the sunset, and
whistling his call.

Fitz was bound to have a picture of him, and sneaked around, to stalk
him and snap him, close. But just as he was started--"Bang!" I jumped
three feet; we all jumped. It was that fellow Bat. He had shot off his
forty-five Colt's, at the squirrel, and with it smoking in his hand he
was grinning, as if he had played a joke on us. He hadn't hit the
squirrel, but it had disappeared. The ground-hog disappeared, the jays
and the woodpeckers flew off, and after the report died away you
couldn't hear a sound or see an animal. The gun had given notice to the
wild life to vacate, until we were gone. And where that bullet hit,
nobody could tell.

Fitzpatrick turned around and came back. He knew it wasn't much use
trying, now. We were disgusted, but General Ashley was the one to speak,
because he was Patrol leader.

"You ought not to do that. Shooting around camp isn't allowed," he said.
"It's dangerous, and it scares things away."

"I wanted that squirrel. I almost hit him, too," answered Bat.

"Well, he was protected by camp law." (Note 31.)

"Aw, all you kids are too fresh," put in Walt, the other. "We'll shoot
as much as we please, or else we'll pull out."

"If you can't do as the rest of us do, all right: pull," answered the
general.

"Let them. We don't want them," said Major Henry. "We didn't ask them in
the first place. What's the sense in carrying a big revolver around, and
playing tough!"

"That will do, Henry," answered the general. "I'm talking for the
Patrol."

"Come on, Walt. We'll take our stuff and pull out and make our own
camp," said Bat. "We won't be bossed by any red-headed kid--or any
one-armed kid, either." He was referring to the gun and to the burro
packing, both.

Major Henry began to sputter and growl. A black-eyed boy is as spunky as
a red-headed one. And we all stood up, ready, if there was to be a
fight. But there wasn't. It wasn't necessary. General Ashley flushed
considerably, but he kept his temper.

"That's all right," he said. "If you can't obey discipline, like the
rest, you don't camp with us."

"And we don't intend to, you bet," retorted Walt. "We're as good as you
are and a little better, maybe. We're no tenderfeet!"

They gathered their blankets and their frying-pan and other outfit, and
they stalked off about a hundred yards, further into the cedars, and
dumped their things for their own camp.

Maybe they thought that we'd try to make them get out entirely, but we
didn't own the place; it was a free camp for all, and as long as they
didn't interfere with us we had no right to interfere with them. We made
our fire and they started theirs; and then I was sent out to hunt for
meat again.

I headed away from camp, and I got one rabbit and a great big
ground-hog. Some people won't eat ground-hog, but they don't know what
is good; only, he must be cleaned right away. Well, I was almost at camp
again when "Whish! Bang!" somebody had shot and had spattered all around
me, stinging my ear and rapping me on the coat and putting a couple of
holes in my hat. I dropped flat, in a hurry.

"Hey!" I yelled. "Look out there! What you doing?"

But it was "Bang!" again, and more shot whizzing by; this time none hit
me. Now I ran and sat behind a rock. And after a while I made for camp,
and I was glad to reach it.

I was still some stirred up about being peppered, and so I went straight
to the other fire. The two fellows were there cleaning a couple of
squirrels.

"Who shot them?" I asked.

"Walt."

"And he nearly filled me full of holes, too," I said. "Look at my hat."

"Who nearly filled you full of holes?" asked Walt.

"You did."

"Aw, I didn't, either. I wasn't anywhere near you."

"You were, too," I answered, hot. "You shot right down over the hill,
and when I yelled at you, you shot again."

Walt was well scared.

"'Twasn't me," he said. "I saw you start out and I went opposite."

"Well, you ought to be careful, shooting in the direction of camp," I
said.

"Didn't hurt you."

"It might have put my eyes out, just the same." And I had to go back and
clean my game and gun. We had a good supper. The other fellows kept to
their own camp and we could smell them smoking cigarettes. With them
close, and with news that another crowd was out, we were obliged to
mount night guard.

There was no use in two of us staying awake at the same time, and we
divided the night into four watches--eight to eleven, eleven to one, one
to three, three to five. The first watch was longest, because it was the
easiest watch. We drew lots for the partners who would sleep all night,
and Jed Smith and Major Henry found they wouldn't have to watch. We four
others would.

Fitz went on guard first, from eight to eleven. At eleven he would wake
Carson, and would crawl into Carson's place beside of General Ashley.
At one Carson would wake me, and would crawl into my place where I was
alone. And at three I would wake General Ashley and crawl into his place
beside Fitz again. So we would disturb each other just as little as
possible and only at long intervals. (Note 32.)

It seemed to me that I had the worst watch of all--from one to three; it
broke my night right in two. Of course a Scout takes what duty comes,
and says nothing. But jiminy, I was sleepy when Carson woke me and I had
to stagger out into the dark and the cold. He cuddled down in a hurry
into my warm nest and there I was, on guard over the sleeping camp, here
in the timber far away from lights or houses or people.

The fire was out, but I could see by star shine. Low in the west was a
half moon, just sinking behind the mountains there. Down in the flat
which we had left coyotes were barking. Maybe they smelled fawns.
Somebody was snoring. That was fatty Jed Smith. He and Major Henry were
having a fine sleep. So were all the rest, under the whity tarps which
looked ghostly and queer.

And I went to sleep, too!

That was awful, for a Scout on guard. I don't know why I couldn't keep
awake, but I couldn't. I tried every way. I rubbed my eyes, and I dipped
water out of the spring and washed my face, and I dropped the blanket I
was wearing, so that I would be cold. And I walked in a circle. Then I
thought that maybe if I sat down with the blanket about me, I would be
better off. So I sat down. If I could let my eyes close for just a
second, to rest them, I would be all right. And they did close--and when
I opened them I was sort of toppled over against the tree, and was stiff
and astonished--and it was broad morning and I hadn't wakened General
Ashley!

I staggered up as quick as I could. I looked around. Things seemed to be
O. K. and quiet and peaceful--but suddenly I missed the flags, and then
I missed the burros!

Yes, sir! The flagstaff was gone, leaving the hole where it had been
stuck. And the burros were gone, picket ropes and all! The place where
they ought to be appeared mighty vacant. And now I sure was frightened.
I hustled to the camp of the two boys, Bat and Walt, and they were gone.
That looked bad.

My duty now was to arouse our camp and give the alarm, so I must wake
General Ashley. You can imagine how I hated to. I almost was sore
because he hadn't waked up, himself, at three o'clock, instead of
waiting for me and letting me sleep.

But I shook him, and he sat up, blinking. I saluted. "It's after four
o'clock," I reported, "and I slept on guard and the flags and the burros
are gone." And then I wanted to cry, but I didn't.



CHAPTER VII

HELD BY THE ENEMY


"Oh, the dickens!" stammered General Ashley; and out he rolled, in a
hurry. He didn't stop to blame me. "Have you looked for sign?"

"The burros might have strayed, but the flags couldn't and only the hole
is there. And those two fellows of the other camp are gone, already."

General Ashley began to pull on his shoes and lace them.

"Rouse the camp," he ordered.

So I did. And to every one I said: "I slept on guard and the flags and
the burros are gone."

I was willing to be shot, or discharged, or anything; and I didn't have
a single solitary excuse. I didn't try to think one up.

The general took Fitzpatrick, who is our best trailer, and Major Henry,
and started in to work out the sign, while the rest of us hustled with
breakfast. The ground about the flag hole was trampled and not much
could be done there; and not much could be done right where the burros
had stood, because we all from both camps had been roaming around. But
the general and Fitz and Major Henry circled, wider and wider, watching
out for burro tracks pointing back down the trail, or else out into the
timber. The hoofs of the burros would cut in, where the feet of the two
fellows might not have left any mark. Pretty soon the burro tracks were
found, and boot-heels, too; and while Fitzpatrick followed the trail a
little farther the general and Major Henry came back to the camp.
Breakfast was ready.

"Fitzpatrick and Jim Bridger and I will take the trail of the burros,
and you other three stay here," said General Ashley. "If we don't come
back by morning, or if you don't see smoke-signals from us that we're
all right, you cache the stuff and come after us."

That was splendid of the general to give me a chance to make good on the
trail. It was better than if he'd ordered me close in camp, or had not
paid any attention to me.

Fitz returned, puffing. He had followed the trail a quarter of a mile
and it grew plainer as the two fellows had hurried more. We ate a big
breakfast (we three especially, I mean), and prepared for the trail. We
tied on our coats in a roll like blankets, but we took no blankets, for
we must travel light. We stuffed some bread and chocolate into our coat
pockets, and we were certain that we had matches and knife. I took the
short bow and arrows, as game getter; but we left the rifle for the
camp. We would not have used a rifle, anyway. It made noise; and we must
get the burros by Scoutcraft alone. But those burros we would have, and
the flags. The general slung one of the Patrol's ropes about him, in
case we had to rope the burros.

We set right out, Fitzpatrick leading, as chief trailer. Much depended
upon our speed, and that is why we traveled light; for you never can
follow a trail as fast as it was made, and we must overtake those
fellows by traveling longer. They were handicapped by the burros,
though, which helped us.

We planned to keep going, and eat on the march, and by night sneak on
the camp.

The trail wasn't hard to follow. Burro tracks are different from cow
tracks and horse tracks and deer tracks; they are small and
oblong--narrow like a colt's hoof squeezed together or like little mule
tracks. The two fellows used the cattle trail, and Fitzpatrick read the
sign for us.

"They had to lead the burros," he said. "The burros' tracks are on top
of the sole tracks."

We hurried. And then--

"Now they're driving 'em," he said. "They're stepping on top of the
burro tracks; and I think that they're all on the trot, too, by the way
the burros' hind hoofs overlap the front hoofs, and dig in."

We hurried more, at Scout pace, which is trotting and walking mixed. And
next--

"Now they've got on the burros," said Fitz. "There aren't any sole
tracks and the burros' hoofs dig deeper."

The fellows surely were making time. I could imagine how they kicked and
licked Sally and Apache, to hasten. And while we hastened, too, we must
watch the signs and be cautious that we didn't overrun or get ambushed.
Where the sun shone we could tell that the sign was still an hour or
more old, because the edges of the hoof-marks were baked hard; and
sticks and stones turned up had dried. And in the shade the bits of
needles and grass stepped on had straightened a little. And there were
other signs, but we chose those which we could read the quickest. (Note
33.)

We were high up among cedars and bushes, on a big mesa. There were
cattle, here, and grassy parks for them. Most of the cattle bore a Big W
brand. The trail the cattle had made kept dividing and petering out, and
we had to pick the one that the burros took. The fellows were riding,
still, but not at a trot so much. Maybe they thought that we had been
left, by this time. Pretty soon the burros had been grabbing at branches
and weeds, which showed that they were going slower, and were hungry;
and the fellows had got off and were walking. The sun was high and the
air was dry, so that the signs were not so easy to read, and we went
slower, too. The country up here grew open and rocky, and at last we
lost the trail altogether. That was bad. The general and I circled and
scouted, at the sides, and Fitz went on ahead, to pick it up beyond,
maybe. Pretty soon we heard him whistle the Elks' call.

He had come out upon a rocky point. The timber ended, and before and
right and left was a great rolling valley, of short grasses and just a
few scattered trees, with long slopes holding it like a cup. The sun was
shining down, and the air was clear and quivery.

"I see them," said Fitz. "There they are, General--in a line between us
and that other point of rocks."

Hurrah! This was great news. Sure enough, when we had bent low and
sneaked to the rocks, and were looking, we could make out two specks
creeping up the sunshine slope, among the few trees, opposite.

That was good, and it was bad. The thieves were not a mile ahead of us,
then, but now we must scout in earnest. It would not do for us to keep
to the trail across that open valley. Some fellows might have rushed
right along; and if the other fellows were sharp they would be looking
back, at such a spot, to watch for pursuers. So we must make a big
circuit, and stay out of sight, and hit the trail again on the other
side.

We crept back under cover, left a "warning" sign on the trail (Note
34), and swung around, and one at a time we crossed the valley higher
up, where it was narrower and there was brush for cover. This took time,
but it was the proper scouting; and now we hurried our best along the
other slope to pick up the trail once more.

It was after noon, by the sun, and we hadn't stopped to eat, and we were
hungry and hot and pretty tired.

As we never talked much on the trail, especially when we might be near
the enemy, Fitzpatrick made a sign that we climb straight to the top of
the slope and follow along there, to strike the trail. And if the
fellows had turned off anywhere, in gulch or to camp, we were better
fixed above them than below them.

We scouted carefully along this ridge, and came to a gulch. A path led
through, where cattle had traveled, and in the damp dirt were the burro
tracks. Hurrah! They were soft and fresh.

The sun was going to set early, in a cloud bank, and those fellows would
be camping soon. It was no use to rush them when they were traveling;
they had guns and would hang on to the burros. The way to do was to
crawl into their camp. So we traveled slower, in order to give them time
to camp.

After a while we smelled smoke. The timber was thick, and the general
and I each climbed a tree, to see where that smoke came from. I was away
at the top of a pine, and from that tree the view was grand. Pilot Peak
stood up in the wrong direction, as if we had been going around, and
mountains and timber were everywhere. I saw the smoke. And away to the
north, ten miles, it seemed to me I could see another smoke, with the
sun showing it up. It was a column smoke, and I guessed that it was a
smoke signal set by the three Scouts we had left, to show us where camp
was.

But the smoke that we were after rose in a blue haze above the trees
down in a little park about a quarter of a mile on our right. We left a
"warning" sign, and stalked the smoke.

Although Fitzpatrick has only one whole arm, he can stalk as well as any
of us. We advanced cautiously, and could smell the smoke stronger and
stronger; we began to stoop and to crawl and when we had wriggled we
must halt and listen. We could not hear anybody talking.

The general led, and Fitz and I crawled behind him, in a snake scout. I
think that maybe we might have done better if we had stalked from three
directions. Everything was very quiet, and when we could see where the
fire ought to be we made scarcely a sound. The general brushed out of
his way any twigs that would crack.

It was a fine stalk. We approached from behind a cedar, and parting the
branches the general looked through. He beckoned to us, and we wriggled
along and looked through. There was a fire, and our flags stuck beside
it, and Sally and Apache standing tied to a bush, and blankets thrown
down--but not anybody at home! The two fellows must be out fishing or
hunting, and this seemed a good chance.

The general signed. We all were to rush in, Fitz would grab the flag,
and I a burro and the general a burro, and we would skip out and travel
fast, across country.

I knew that by separating and turning and other tricks we would outwit
those two kids, if we got any kind of a start.

We listened, holding our breath. Nobody seemed near. Now was the time.
The general stood, Fitz and I stood, and in we darted. Fitz grabbed the
flag, and I was just hauling at Sally while the general slashed the
picket-ropes with his knife, when there rose a tremendous yell and laugh
and from all about people charged in on us.

Before we could escape we were seized. They were eight to our three. Two
of them were the two kids Bat and Walt, and the other six were town
fellows--Bill Duane, Tony Matthews, Bert Hawley, Mike Delavan, and a
couple more.

How they whooped! We felt cheap. The camp had been a trap. The two kids
Bat and Walt had come upon the other crowd accidentally, and had told
about us and that maybe we were trailing them, and they all had ambushed
us. We ought to have reconnoitered more, instead of thinking about
stalking. We ought to have been more suspicious, and not have
underestimated the enemy. (Note 35.) This was just a made-to-order
camp. The camp of the town gang was about three hundred yards away,
lower, in another open place, by a creek. They tied our arms and led us
down there.

"Aw, we thought you fellers were Scouts!" jeered Bat. "You're easy."

He and Walt took the credit right to themselves.

"What do you want with us?" demanded General Ashley, of Bill Duane. "We
haven't done anything to harm you."

"We'll show you," said Bill. "First we're going to skin you, and then
we're going to burn you at the stake, and then we're going to kill you."

Of course we knew that he was only fooling; but it was a bad fix, just
the same. They might keep us, for meanness; and Major Henry and Kit
Carson and Jed Smith wouldn't know exactly what to do and we'd be
wasting valuable time. That was the worst: we were delaying the message!
And I had myself to blame for this, because I went to sleep on guard. A
little mistake may lead to a lot of trouble.

And now the worst happened. When they got us to the main camp Bill Duane
walked up to General Ashley and said: "Where you got that message, Red?"

"What message?" answered General Ashley.

"Aw, get out!" laughed Bill. "If we untie you will you fork it over or
do you want me to search you?"

"'Tisn't your message, and if I had it I wouldn't give it to you. But
you'd better untie us, just the same. And we want those burros and our
flags."

"Hold him till I search him, fellows," said Bill. "He's got it, I bet.
He's the Big Scout."

Fitz and I couldn't do a thing. One of the gang put his arm under the
general's chin and held him tight, and Bill Duane went through him. He
didn't find the message in any pockets; but he saw the buckskin thong,
and hauled on it, and out came the packet from under the general's
shirt.

Bill put it in his own pocket.

"There!" he said. "Now what you going to do about it?"

The general was as red all over as his hair and looked as if he wanted
to fight or cry. Fitz was white and red in spots, and I was so mad I
shook.

"Nothing, now," said the general, huskily. "You don't give us a chance
to do anything. You're a lot of cowards--tying us up and searching us,
and taking our things."

[Illustration: "BILL DUANE WENT THROUGH HIM."]

Then they laughed at us some more, and all jeered and made fun, and said
that they would take the message through for us. I tell you, it was
humiliating, to be bound that way, as prisoners, and to think that we
had failed in our trust. As Scouts we had been no good--and I was to
blame just because I had fallen asleep at my post.

They were beginning to quit laughing at us, and were starting to get
supper, when suddenly I heard horse's hoofs, and down the bridle path
that led along an edge of the park rode a man. He heard the noise and he
saw us tied, I guess, for he came over.

"What's the matter here?" he asked.

The gang calmed down in a twinkling. They weren't so brash, now.

"Nothin'," said Bill.

"Who you got here? What's the rumpus?" he insisted.

"They've taken us prisoners and are keeping us, and they've got our
burros and flags and a message," spoke up the general.

He was a small man with a black mustache and blackish whiskers growing.
He rode a bay horse with a K Cross on its right shoulder, and the saddle
had brass-bound stirrups. He wore a black slouch hat and was in black
shirt-sleeves, and ordinary pants and shoes.

"What message?" he asked.

"A message we were carrying."

"Where?"

"Across from our town to Green Valley."

"Why?"

"Just for fun."

"Aw, that's a lie. They were to get twenty-five dollars for doing it on
time. Now we cash it in ourselves," spoke Bill. "It was a race, and they
don't make good. See?"

That was a lie, sure. We weren't to be paid a cent--and we didn't want
to be paid.

"Who's got the message now?" asked the man.

"He has," said the general, pointing at Bill.

"Let's see it."

Bill backed away.

"I ain't, either," he said. Which was another lie.

"Let's see it," repeated the man. "I might like to make that twenty-five
dollars myself."

Now Bill was sorry he had told that first lie. The first is the one that
gives the most trouble.

"Who are you?" he said, scared, and backing away some more.

"Never you mind who I am," answered the man--biting his words off short;
and he rode right for Bill. He stuck his face forward. It was hard and
dark and mean. "Hand--over--that--message. Savvy?"

Bill was nothing but a big bluff and a coward. You would have known
that he was a coward, by the lies he had told and by the way he had
attacked us. He wilted right down.

"Aw, I was just fooling," he said. "I was going to give it back to 'em.
Here 'tis. There ain't no prize offered, anyhow." And he handed it to
the man.

The man turned it over in his fingers. We watched. We hoped he'd make
them untie us and he'd pass it to us and tell us to skip. But after he
had turned it over and over, he smiled, kind of grimly, and stuck it in
his hip pocket.

"I reckon I'd like to make that twenty-five dollars myself," he said.
And then he rode to one side, and dismounted; he loosened the cinches
and made ready as if to camp. And they all let him.

Now, that was bad for us, again. The gang had our flags and our burros,
and he had our message.

"That's our message. We're carrying it through just for fun and for
practice," called the general. "It's no good to anybody except us."

"Bueno," said the man--which is Mexican or Spanish for "Good." He was
squatting and building a little fire.

"Aren't you going to give it to us and make them let us go?"

He grunted. "Don't bother me. I'm busy."

That was all we could get out of him. Now it was growing dark and cold.
The gang was grumbling and accusing Bill of being "bluffed" and all
that, but they didn't make any effort to attack the man. They all were
afraid of him; they didn't have nerve. They just grumbled and talked of
what Bill ought to have done, and proceeded to cook supper and to loaf
around. Our hands were behind our backs and we were tied like dogs to
trees.

And suddenly, while watching the man, I noticed that he was doing things
left-handed, and quick as a wink I saw that the sole of his left shoe
was worn through! And if he wasn't riding a roan horse, he was riding a
saddle with brass-bound stirrups, anyway. A man may trade horses, but he
keeps to his own saddle. This was the beaver man! We three Scouts
exchanged signs of warning.

"You aren't going to tie us for all night, are you?" demanded
Fitzpatrick.

"Sure," said Bill.

"We'll give you our parole not to try to escape," offered General
Ashley.

"What's that?"

"We'll promise," I explained.

Then they all jeered.

"Aw, promise!" they laughed. "We know all about your promises."

"Scouts don't break their promises," answered the general, hot. "When
we give our parole we mean it. And if we decided to try to escape we'd
tell you and take the parole back. We want to be untied so we can eat."

"All right. We'll untie you," said Bill; and I saw him wink at the other
fellows.

They did. They loosened our hands--but they put ropes on our feet! We
could just walk, and that is all. And Walt (he and Bat were cooking)
poked the fire with our flagstaff. Then he sat on the flags! I tell you,
we were angry!

"This doesn't count," sputtered the general, red as fury.

"You gave us your parole if we'd untie you," jeered Bill. "And we did."

"But you tied us up again."

"We didn't say anything about that. You said if we'd untie you, so you
could eat, you wouldn't run away. Well, we untied you, didn't we?"

"That isn't fair. You know what we meant," retorted Fitz.

"We know what you said," they laughed.

"Aw, cut it out," growled the man, from his own fire. "You make too much
noise. I'm tired."

"Chuck," called Walt, for supper.

They stuck us between them, and we all ate. Whew, but it was a dirty
camp. The dishes weren't clean and the stuff to eat was messy, and the
fellows all swore and talked as bad as they could. It was a shame--and
it seemed a bigger shame because here in the park everything was
intended to be quiet and neat and ought to make you feel _good_.

After supper they quarreled as to who would wash the dishes, and finally
one washed and one wiped, and the rest lay around and smoked pipes and
cigarettes. Over at his side of the little park the man had rolled up
and was still. But I knew that he was watching, because he was smoking,
too.

We couldn't do anything, even if we had planned to. We might have untied
the ropes on our feet, but the gang sat close about us. Then, they had
the flags and the burros, and the man had the message; and if they had
been wise they would have known that we wouldn't go far. Of course, we
might have hung about and bothered them.

They made each of us sleep with one of them. They had some dirty old
quilts, and we all rolled up.



CHAPTER VIII

A NEW USE FOR A CAMERA


We were stiff when we woke in the morning, but we had to lie until the
rest of them decided to get up, and then it was hot and late. That was a
lazy camp as well as a dirty one. The early morning is the best part of
the day, out in the woods, but lots of fellows don't seem to think so.

I had slept with Bat, and he had snored 'most all night. Now as soon as
I could raise my head from the old quilts I looked over to see the man.
He wasn't there. His horse wasn't there and his fire wasn't burning. The
spot where he had camped was vacant. He had gone, with our message!

I wriggled loose from Bat and woke him, and he swore and tried to make
me lie still, but I wouldn't. Not much!

"Red!" I called, not caring whether I woke anybody else or not. "Red!
General!" I used both names--and I didn't care for that, either.

He wriggled, too, to sit up.

"What?"

"The man's gone. He isn't there. He's gone with the message!"

The general exclaimed, and worked to jerk loose from Bill; and Fitz's
head bobbed up. There wasn't any more sleep for that camp, now.

"Oh, shut up!" growled Bill.

"You fellows turn us loose," we ordered. "We've got to go. We've got to
follow that man."

But they wouldn't, of course. They just laughed, and said: "No, you
don't want to go. You've given us your parole; see?" and they pulled us
down into the quilts again, and yawned and would sleep some more, until
they found it was no use, and first one and then another kicked off the
covers and sat up, too.

The sun was high and all the birds and bees and squirrels were busy for
the day. At least two hours had been wasted, already.

Half of the fellows didn't wash at all, and all we Scouts were allowed
to do was to wash our faces, with a lick and a promise, at the creek,
under guard. We missed our morning cold wet rub. The camp hadn't been
policed, and seemed dirtier than ever. Tin cans were scattered about,
and pieces of bacon and of other stuff, and there was nothing sanitary
or regular. Our flags were dusty and wrinkled; and that hurt. The only
thing homelike was Apache and Sally, our burros, grazing on weeds and
grass near the camp. But they didn't notice us particularly.

We didn't have anything more to say. The fellows began to smoke
cigarettes and pipes as soon as they were up, and made the fire and
cooked some bacon and fried some potatoes, and we all ate, with the
flies buzzing around. A dirty camp attracts flies, and the flies stepped
in all sorts of stuff and then stepped in our food and on us, too. Whew!
Ugh!

We would have liked to make a smoke signal, to let Major Henry and Jed
Smith and Kit Carson know where we were, but there seemed no way. They
would be starting out after us, according to instructions, and we didn't
want them to be captured. We knew that they would be coming, because
they were Scouts and Scouts obey orders. They can be depended upon.

I guess it was ten o'clock before we were through the messy breakfast,
and then most of the gang went off fishing and fooling around.

"Aren't you going to untie our feet?" asked the general.

"Do you give us your promise not to skip?" answered Bill.

"We'll give our parole till twelve o'clock."

We knew what the general was planning. By twelve o'clock something might
happen--the other Scouts might be near, then, and we wanted to be free
to help them.--

"Will you give us your parole if we tie your feet, loose, instead of
your hands?"

"Yes," said the general; and Fitzpatrick and I nodded. Jiminy, we didn't
want our hands tied, on this hot day.

So they hobbled our feet, and tethered us to a tree. They tied the knots
tight--knot after knot; and then they went off laughing, but they left
Walt and Bat to watch us! That wasn't fair. It broke our parole for us,
really, for they hadn't accepted it under the conditions we had offered
it. (Note 36.)

"Don't you fellows get to monkeying, now," warned Bat, "or we'll tie you
tighter. If you skip we've got your burros and your flags."

That was so.

"We know that," replied the general, meekly; but I could see that he was
boiling, inside.

It was awful stupid, just sitting, with those two fellows watching. Bat
wore his big revolver, and Walt had his shotgun. They smoked their
bad-smelling pipes, and played with an old deck of cards. Camping
doesn't seem to amount to much with some fellows, except as a place to
be dirty in and to smoke and play cards. They might as well be in town.

"Shall we escape?" I signed to the general. (Note 37.)

"No," he signed back. "Wait till twelve o'clock." He was going to keep
our word, even if we did have a right to break it.

"Hand me my camera, will you, please?" asked Fitz, politely.

"What do you want of it?" demanded Walt.

"I want to use it. We haven't anything else to do."

"Sure," said Walt; he tossed it over. "Take pictures of yourselves, and
show folks how you smart Scouts were fooled."

I didn't see what Fitz could use his camera on, here. And he didn't seem
to be using it. He kept it beside him, was all. There weren't any
animals around this kind of a camp. But the general and I didn't ask him
any questions. He was wise, was old Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand, and
probably he had some scheme up his sleeve.

We just sat. The two fellows played cards and smoked and talked rough
and loud, and wasted their time this way. The sun was mighty hot, and
they yawned and yawned. Tobacco smoking so much made them stupid. But we
yawned, too. The general made the sleep sign to Fitz and me, and we
nodded. The general and I stretched out and were quiet. I really was
sleepy; we had had a hard night.

"You fellows going to sleep?" asked Walt.

We grunted at him.

"Then we'll tie your hands and we'll go to sleep," he said. "Come on,
Bat. Maybe it's a put-up job."

"No, sir; that wasn't in the bargain," objected the general.

"Aw, we got your parole till twelve o'clock, but we're going to tie you
anyway," replied that Walt. "We didn't say how long we'd leave your
hands loose. We aren't going to sit around and keep awake, watching you
guys. When we wake up we untie you again."

We couldn't do anything; and they tied the general's hands and my hands,
but Fitzpatrick begged off.

"I want to use my camera," he claimed. "And I've got only one hand
anyway. I can't untie knots with one hand."

They didn't know how clever Fitz was; so they just moved him and
fastened him by the waist to a tree where he couldn't reach us.

"We'll be watching and listening," they warned. "And if you try any
foolishness you'll get hurt."

They stretched out, and pretended to snooze. I didn't see, myself, how
Fitz could untie those hard knots with his one hand, in time to do any
good. They were hard knots, drawn tight, and the rope was a
clothes-line; and he was set against a tree with the rope about his
body and the knots behind him on the other side of the tree. I didn't
believe that Bat and Walt would sleep hard; but while I waited to see
what would happen next, I dozed off, myself.

Something tapped me on the head, and I woke up in a jiffy. Fitz must
have tossed a twig at me, because when I looked over at him he made the
silence sign. He was busy; and what do you think? He had taken his
camera apart, and unscrewed the lenses, and had focused on the rope
about him. He had wriggled so that the sun shone on the lenses, and a
little spire of smoke was rising from him. Bat and Walt were asleep;
they never made a move, but they both snored. And Fitz was burning his
rope in two, on his body.

It didn't take very long, because the sun was so hot and the lenses were
strong. The rope charred and fumed, and he snapped it; and then he began
on his feet. Good old Fitz! If only he got loose before those two
fellows woke. The general was watching him, too.

Walt grunted and rolled over and bleared around, and Fitz quit
instantly, and sat still as if tied and fooling with his camera. Walt
thought that everything was all right and rolled over; and after a
moment Fitz continued. Pretty soon he was through. And now came the most
ticklish time of all.

He waited and made a false move or two, to be certain that Walt and Bat
weren't shamming; and then he snapped the rope about his body and
gradually unwound it and then he snapped the rope that bound together
his feet. Now he began to crawl for the two fellows. Inch by inch he
moved along, like an Indian; and he never made a sound. That was good
scouting for anybody, and especially for a one-armed boy, I tell you!
The general and I scarcely breathed. My heart thumped so that I was
afraid it would shake the ground.

When he got near enough, Fitz reached cautiously, and pulled away the
shotgun. Like lightning he opened the breech and shook loose the shell
and kicked it out of the way--and when he closed the breech with a jerk
Bat woke up.

"You keep quiet," snapped Fitz. His eyes were blazing. "If either of you
makes a fuss, I'll pull the trigger." He had the gun aiming straight at
them both. Walt woke, too, and was trying to discover what happened. "Be
quiet, now!"

Those two fellows were frightened stiff. The gun looked ugly, with its
round muzzle leveled at their stomachs, and Fitz behind, his cheeks red
and his eyes angry and steady. But it was funny, too; he might have
pulled trigger, but nothing would have happened, because the gun wasn't
loaded. Of course none of us Scouts would have shot anybody and had
blood on our hands. Fitz had thrown away the shell on purpose so that
there wouldn't be any accident. It's bad to point a gun, whether loaded
or not, at any one. This was a have-to case. Bat and Walt didn't know.
They were white as sheets, and lay rigid.

"Don't you shoot. Look out! That gun might go off," they pleaded; we
could hear their teeth chatter. "If you won't point it at us we'll do
anything you say."

"You bet you'll do anything I say," snapped Fitz, very savage. "You had
us, and now we have you! Unbuckle that belt, you Bat. Don't you touch
the revolver, though. I'm mad and I mean business."

Bat's fingers trembled and he fussed at the belt and unbuckled it, and
off came belt and revolver, and all.

"Toss 'em over."

He tossed them. Fitz put his foot on them.

"Aw, what do you let that one-armed kid bluff you for?" began Walt; and
Fitz caught him up as quick as a wink.

"What are _you_ talking about?" he asked. "I'll give you a job, too. You
take your knife and help cut those two Scouts loose."

"Ain't got a knife," grumbled Walt.

"Yes, you have. I've seen it. Will you, or do you want me to pull
trigger?"

"You wouldn't dare."

"Wouldn't I? You watch this finger."

"Look out, Walt!" begged Bat. "He will! I know he will! See his finger?
He might do it by accident. Quit, Fitz. We'll cut 'em."

"Don't get up. Just roll," ordered Fitz.

They rolled. He kept the muzzle right on them. Walt cut me free (his
hands were shaking as bad as Bat's), and Bat cut the general free.

We stood up. But there wasn't time for congratulations, or anything like
that. No. We must skip.

"Quick!" bade Fitz. "Tie their feet. My rope will do; it was a long
one."

"How'd _you_ get loose?" snarled Walt.

"None of your business," retorted Fitz.

We pulled on the knots hard--and they weren't any granny knots, either,
that would work loose. We tied their feet, and then with a bowline noose
tied their elbows behind their backs--which was quicker than tying their
wrists. (Note 38.)

Fitz dropped the shotgun and grabbed his camera.

"You gave your parole," whined Bat.

"It's after twelve," answered the general.

And then Walt uttered a tremendous yell--and there was an answering
whoop near at hand. The rest of the gang were coming back.

"Run!" ordered the general. "Meet at the old camp."

We ran, and scattered. We didn't stop for the burros, or anything more,
except that as I passed I grabbed up the bow and arrows and with one
jerk I ripped our flags loose from the pole, where it was lying.

This delayed me for a second. Walt and Bat were yelling the alarm, and
feet were hurrying and voices were answering. I caught a glimpse of the
general and Fitz plunging into brush at one side, and I made for another
point.

"There they go! Stop 'em!" were calling Walt and Bat.

Tony Matthews was coming so fast that he almost dived into me; but I
dodged him and away I went, into the timber and the brush, with him
pelting after. Now all the timber was full of cries and threats, and
"Bang! Bang!" sounded a gun. But I didn't stop to look around. I
scudded, with Tony thumping behind me.

"You halt!" ordered Tony. "Head him off!" he called.

I dodged again, around a cedar, and ran in a new direction, up a slope,
through grass and just a sprinkling of trees. Now was the time to prove
what a Scout's training was good for, in giving him lungs and legs and
endurance. So I ran at a springy lope, up-hill, as a rabbit does. Two
voices were panting at me; I saved my breath for something better than
talk. The puffing grew fainter, and finally when I couldn't hear it, or
any other sound near, I did halt and look around.

The pursuit was still going on behind and below, near where the gang's
camp was. I could hear the shouts, and "Bang! Bang!" but shouts and
shooting wouldn't capture the general and Fitz, I knew. Tony and the
other fellow who had been chasing me had quit--and now I saw the general
and Fitz. They must have had to double and dodge, because they had not
got so far away: but here they came, out from the trees, into an open
space, across from me, and they were running strong and swift for the
slope beyond. If it was a case of speed and wind, none of that smoking,
flabby crowd could catch them.

Fitz was ahead, the general was about ten feet behind, and much farther
behind streamed the gang, Bill Delaney leading and the rest lumbering
after. Tony and the other fellow had flopped down, and never stirred to
help. They were done for.

It was quite exciting, to watch; and as the general and Fitz were
drawing right away and escaping, I wanted to cheer. They turned sharp to
make straight up-hill--and then the general fell. He must have slipped.
He picked himself up almost before he had touched the ground and plunged
on, but down he toppled, like a wounded deer. Fitzpatrick, who was
climbing fast off at one side, saw.

"Hurt?" I heard him call.

"No," answered the general. "Go on."

But Fitz didn't keep on. He turned and came right to him, although the
enemy was drawing close. The general staggered up, and sat down again.

I knew what was being said, now, although I couldn't hear anything
except the jeers of the gang as they increased speed. The general was
hurt, and he was telling Fitz to go and save himself, and Fitz wouldn't.
He sat there, too, and waited. Then, just as the gang closed in, and
Bill Delaney reached to grab Fitz, the general saw me and made me the
sign to go on, and the sign of a horse and rider.

Yes, that was my part, now. I was the one who must follow the beaver
man, who had taken our message. The message was the most important
thing. We must get that through no matter what happened. And while Fitz
and the general could help each other, inside, I could be trailing the
message, and maybe finding Henry and Carson and Smith, outside.

So I started on. The enemy was leading the general, who could just
hobble, and Fitz, back to the camp. Loyal old Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand,
who had helped his comrade instead of saving himself!



CHAPTER IX

JIM BRIDGER ON THE TRAIL


I turned, and climbed the hill. It was a long hill, and hot, but I
wanted to get up where I could see. The top was grassy and bare, and
here I stopped, to find out where things were.

Off in one direction (which was southwest, by the sun) rose Pilot Peak,
rocky and snowy, with the main range stretching on either side of it.
But between Pilot Peak and me there lay a big country of heavy timber.
Yes, in every direction was heavy timber. I had run without thinking,
and now it was pretty hard to tell exactly where I was.

I stood for a minute and tried to figure in what direction that beaver
man probably had ridden. He had come in on our left, as we sat, and had
probably gone along toward our right. I tried to remember which way the
shadows had fallen, in the sunset, and which way west had been, from our
right or left as we were sitting.

Finally I was quite certain that the shadows had fallen sort of
quartering, from right to left, and so the man probably had made toward
the west. It was a good thing that I had noticed the shadows, but to
notice little things is a Scout's training.

I stuffed the flags inside my shirt, and tied my coat about me; only one
arrow was left, out of six; the five others must have fallen when I was
running. And I was hungry and didn't have a thing to eat, because when
the gang had captured us they had taken our bread and chocolate, along
with our match-boxes and knives and other stuff. That was mean of them.
But with a look about for smoke signals I took my bow and started across
the top of the hill.

It was to be the lone trail and the hungry trail for Jim Bridger. But he
had slept on post, and he was paying for it. Now if he (that was I, you
know) only could get back that message, and thus make good, he wouldn't
mind lonesomeness or hunger or thirst or tiredness or wet or anything.

I wasn't afraid of the gang overtaking me or finding me, if I kept my
wits about me. And after I was over the brow of the hill I swung into
the west, at Scouts' pace of trot and walk mixed. This took me along the
top of the hill, to a draw or little valley that cut through. The draw
was thick with spruces and pines and was brushy at the bottom, so I went
around the head of it. That was easier than climbing down and up
again--and the draw would have been a bad place to be cornered in.

I watched out for trails, but I did not cross a thing, and I began to
edge down to strike that stream which passed the gang's camp. Often
trails follow along streams, where the cattle and horses travel. The man
who had our message might have used this trail but although I edged and
edged, keeping right according to the sun, I didn't strike that stream.
Up and down and up again, through the trees and through the open places
I toiled and sweated; and every time I came out upon a ridge, expecting
to be at the top of somewhere, another ridge waited; and every time I
reached the bottom of a draw or gulch, expecting that here was my stream
or a trail, or both, I found that I was fooled again.

This up and down country covered by timber is a mighty easy country to
be lost in. I wasn't lost--the stream was lost. No, I wasn't lost; but
when I came out upon a rocky ridge, and climbed to the top of a bunch of
granite there, the world was all turned around. Pilot Peak had changed
shape and was behind me when it ought to have been before. West was
west, because the sun was setting in it, but it seemed queer. You see, I
had been zigzagging about to make easy climbs out of draws and gulches,
and to dodge rocks and brush--and here I was. (Note 39.)

You may believe that now I was mighty hungry and thirsty, and I was
tired, too. This was a fine place to see from, and I sat on a ledge and
looked about, mapping the country. That was Pilot Peak, away off on the
left; and that was the Medicine Range, on either side of it. It was the
range that we Scouts must cross, if ever we got to it. But between me
and the range lay miles of rolling timber, and all about below me lay
the timber, with here and there bare rocky points sticking up like the
tips of breakers in an ocean and here and there little winding valleys,
like the oily streaks in the ocean. Away off in one valley seemed to be
a cleared field where grain had been cut; but no ranch house was there.
It was just a patch. In all this big country I was the only
inhabitant--I and the wild things.

Well, I must camp for the night. The sun was setting behind the
mountains. If I tried traveling blind by night I might get all tangled
up in the timber and brush and be in a bad fix. Up here it was dry and
open and the rocks would shelter me from the wind. I tried to be calm
and reasonable and use Scout sense; and I decided to stay right where I
was, till morning.

But jiminy, I was hungry and thirsty, and I wanted a fire, too. This was
pretty good experience, to be lost without food or drink or matches, or
even a knife--it was pretty good experience if I managed right.

There were plenty of dead dried branches scattered here among the
rocks, and pack-rats had made a nest of firewood. But first, as seemed
to me, I must get a drink and something for supper. I had only that one
arrow to depend on, for game, and if I waited much longer then I might
lose it in the dusk. Not an easy shot had shown itself, either, during
all the time I had been traveling.

Water was liable to be down there somewhere, in those valleys, and I
looked to see which was the greenest or which had any willows. To the
greenest it seemed a long way. Then I had a clue. I saw a flock of
grouse. They sailed out from the timber and across and slanted down into
a gulch. More followed. They acted as if they were bound somewhere on
purpose, and I remembered that grouse usually drink before they go to
bed.

These were so far away, below me, that I couldn't make out whether they
were sage grouse, or the blue grouse, or the fool grouse. If they were
sage grouse, I might not get near enough to them to shoot sure with my
one arrow. If they were blue grouse, that would be bad, too, for blue
grouse are sharp. If they were fool grouse, I ought to get one. I marked
exactly where they sailed for, and down I went, keeping my eye on the
spot. Now I must use Scoutcraft for water and food. If I couldn't manage
a fire, I could chew meat raw.

Yes, I remembered that it was against the law to kill grouse, yet. I
thought about it a minute; and decided that the law did not intend that
a starving person should not kill just enough for meat when he had
nothing else. I was willing to tell the first ranger or game warden, and
pay a fine--but I must eat. And I hoped that what I was trying to do was
all right. Motives count, in law, don't they?

Down I went, as fast as I could go. The sun was just sinking out of
sight. It was the lonesome time of day for a fellow without fire or food
or shelter, in the places where nobody lived, and I wouldn't have
objected much if I'd been home at the supper table.

I reached the bottom of the hill. It ended at the edge of some aspens.
Their white trunks were ghostly in the twilight. Across through the
aspens I hurried, straight as I could go; and I came out into a grassy,
boggy place--a basin where water from the hills around was seeping!
Hurrah! It was a regular spring, and the water ran trickling away, down
through a gulch.

Grasses grew high: wild timothy and wild oats and gama grass, mingled
with flowers. Along the trickle were willows, too. With the aspens and
the willows and the seed grasses and the water this was a fine place for
grouse. I looked for sign, on the edge of the wetness, and I saw where
birds had been scratching and taking dust baths, in a patch of sage.

Stepping slowly, and keeping sharp lookout, I reconnoitered about the
place; I was so excited that I didn't stop to drink. And
suddenly--whirr-rr-rr! With a tremendous noise up flew two grouse, and
three more, and lit in the willows right before me. I guess I was
nervous, I wanted them so bad; for I jumped back and stumbled and fell,
and broke the arrow square in two with my knee.

That made me sick. Here was my supper waiting for me, and I had spoiled
my chances. I wanted to cry.

Those acted like fool grouse. They sat with their heads and necks
stretched, watching me and everything else. I picked up the two pieces
of my arrow; and then I looked about for a straight reed or willow twig
that might do. Something rustled right before me, and there was another
grouse! It had been sitting near enough to bite me and I hadn't seen it.

By the feathers I knew it was a fool grouse. Was it going to fly, or
not? I stood perfectly still, and then I squatted gradually and gave it
time. After it had waggled its head around, it moved a little and began
to peck and cackle; and I could hear other cackles answering. If I only
could creep near enough to hit it with a stick.

I reached a dead willow stick, and squatting as I was I hitched forward,
inch by inch. Whenever the grouse raised its silly head I scarcely
breathed. The grass was clumpy, and once behind a clump I wriggled
forward faster. With the clump between me and the grouse I approached as
close as I dared. The grouse was only four or five feet away. It must be
now or never, for when once the grouse began to fly for their night's
roost mine would go, too.

Fool grouse you can knock off of limbs with a stone, or with a club when
they are low enough and when they happen to be feeling in the mood to be
knocked. Behind my clump I braced my toes, and out I sprang and swiped
hard, but the grouse fluttered up, just the same, squawking. I hit
again, hard and quick, and struck it down, and I pounced on it and had
it! Yes, sir, I had it! All around me grouse were flying and whirring
off, and those in the tree joined them; but I didn't care now.

I lay on my stomach and took a long drink of water, and back I hustled
for camp.

Down here the dark had gathered; but up on the hill the light stayed,
and of course the top of the hill, where my camp was, would be light
longest. Now if I only could manage a fire. I had an idea--a good Scout
idea.

First I picked out a place for the night. In one spot the faces of two
rocks met at an angle. The grass here was dead and softish, and the wind
blowing off the snowy range on the west didn't get in. I gathered a
bunch of the grass, and tore my handkerchief with my teeth and mixed
some ravelings of that in and tied a nest, with a handle to it. Then I
got some of the dry twigs lying about, and had them ready. Then I found
a piece of flinty rock--I think it was quartzite; and I took off a shoe
and struck the rock on the hob nails, over the nest of grass.

It worked! The sparks flew and landed in the loose knot, and I blew to
start them. After I had been trying, I saw a little smoke, and smelled
it; and so I grabbed the nest by its handle and swung it. It caught
fire, and in a jiffy I had it on the ground, with twigs across it--and I
was fixed. A fire makes a big difference. I wasn't lonesome any more.
This camp was home. (Note 40.)

I was so hungry that I didn't more than half cook the grouse by holding
pieces on a stick over the blaze, trapper style. While I gnawed I went
out around the rocks and watched the sunset. It was glorious, and the
pink and gold lasted, with the snowy range and old Pilot Peak showing
sharp and cold against it. Up here I was right in the twilight, while
below the timber and the valleys were dark.

I must collect wood while I could see, beginning with the pieces
furthest away. Down at the bottom of the hill I had marked a big branch;
and out I hiked and hauled it up. That camp looked grand when I came in
again; the bottom of the hill was gloomy, but here I had a fire.

The sunset was done; everything was dark; the stars were shining all
through the sky; from the timber below queer cries and calls floated up
to me, but there was nothing to be afraid of. I was minding my business,
and animals would be minding theirs. So I moved the fire forward a
little from the angle of the rocks, and sat in the angle myself. Wow,
but it was warm and nice! I couldn't make a big fire, because I didn't
want to run out of fuel; but the little fire was better, as long as it
was large enough to be cheerful and to warm me. I spliced my broken
arrow with string.

This was real Scout coziness. Of course, I sort of wished that Fitz or
little Jed Smith or somebody else was there, for company; but I'd done
pretty well. I tried to study the stars--but as I sat I kept nodding and
dozing off, and waking with a jerk, and so I pulled the thick part of
the branch across the fire and shoved in the scattered ends. Then I
wrapped the flags about my neck and over my head, and sitting flat with
my back against the rock I went to sleep. Indians say that they keep
warm best by covering their shoulders and head, even if they can't cover
their legs.

Something woke me with a start. I lay shivering and listening. The fire
flickered low, the sky was close above me, darkness was around about,
and behind me was a rustle, rustle, patter, patter. At first I was silly
and frightened; but with a jump I quit that and ordered, loud:

"Get out of there!"

Wild animals are especially afraid of the human voice; and whatever this
was it scampered away. Then I decided that it was only a pack-rat.
Anyhow, there would be nothing out here in these hills to attack a human
being while he slept. Even the smell of a human being will keep most
animals off. They're suspicious of him. And I thought of the hundreds of
old-time trappers and hunters, and of the prospectors and ranchers and
range-riders, who had slept right out in the timber, in a blanket, and
who never had been molested at all. So I didn't reckon that anything was
going to climb this hill to get _me_!

I stirred about and built the fire, and got warm. The Guardians of the
Pole had moved around a quarter of the clock, at least, and the moon was
away over in the west, so I knew that I must have slept quite a while.
(Note 41.)

The night was very quiet. Here on the hill I felt like a Robinson Crusoe
marooned on his island. I stood and peered about; everywhere below was
the dark timber; the moon was about to set behind the snowy range;
overhead were the stars--thousands of them in a black sky, which curved
down on all sides.

The Milky Way was plain. The Indians say that is the trail the dead
warriors take to the Happy Hunting Grounds. I could see the North Star,
of course, and I could see the Papoose on the Squaw's back, in the
handle of the Great Dipper; so I had Scout's eyesight. In the west was
the evening star--Jupiter, I guessed. Off south was the Scorpion, and
the big red star Antares. I wished that the Lost Children were dancing
in the sky, but they had not come yet. (Note 42.)

It made me calm, to get out this way and look at the stars. I'd been
lucky, so far, to have fire and supper and a good camp, and I decided
that I would get that message--or help get it. Somewhere down in that
world of timber were Major Henry and Kit Carson and little Jed Smith, on
the trail; and General Ashley and wise Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand,
planning to escape; and the man who had the message. And here was I, on
detail that seemed to have happened, and yet seemed to have been
ordered, too. And watchful and steady as the stars, above us was the
Great Commander, who knew just how things would come out, here in the
hills the same as in the cities. It's kind of comforting, when a fellow
realizes that he can't get lost entirely, and that Somebody knows where
he is and what he is doing, and what he wants to do.

In the morning I would strike off southwest, and keep going until I came
to a trail where the beaver man had traveled, or until I had some sight
of him or news of him.

By the Pointers it was midnight. So after thinking things over I fed the
fire and warmed my back; then I hunched into the angle and with the two
flags about my shoulders and over my head I started to snooze off. Some
animal kept rustling and pattering, but I let it rustle and patter.

Just as I was snoozing, I remembered that to-morrow--that _to-day_ was
Sunday! Yes; I counted, and we had left town on Monday and we had been
out six days. I supposed that I ought to rest on Sunday; but I didn't
see how I could, fixed as I was; and I hoped that if I took the trail I
would be understood. (Note 43.)



CHAPTER X

THE RED FOX PATROL


When I woke up I was safe and sound, but I had thrown off the flags and
I was stiff and cold. Now I could see all about me--see the rocks and
the grass and the ashes of the fire; so morning had come. That was good.

After I had yawned and stretched and straightened out, I gave a little
dance to start my circulation. Then I built the fire from the coals that
were left, and cooked the rest of the grouse, and had breakfast, chewing
well so as to get all the nourishment that I could. I climbed on a rock,
in the sun, like a ground-hog, to eat, and to look about at the same
time. And I saw smoke!

The smoke was lifting above the timber away off, below. This was a fine
morning; a Sunday morning, peaceful and calm, and the smoke rose in a
little curl, as if it were from a camp or a chimney. I took that as a
good omen. Down I sprang, to my own fire; and heaped on damp stuff and
dirt, and using my coat made the private smoke signal of the Elk Patrol:
one puff, three puffs, and one puff. (Note 44.) But the other smoke
didn't answer.

Then I thought of making the signal meaning "I am lost. Help"; but I
said to myself: "No, you don't. You're not calling for help, yet. You'd
be a weak kind of a Scout, to sit down and call for help. There's a sign
for you. Maybe that smoke is the beaver man. Sic him." And trampling out
my own fire, and stuffing the flags into my shirt and tying my jacket
around me, lining that other fire by a dead pine at the foot of the
hill, away I went.

When I got to the dead pine I drew another bee-line ahead as far as I
could see, with a stump as the end, and followed that. But this was an
awful rough, thick country. First I got into a mess of fallen timber,
where the dead trunks were criss-crossed like jackstraws; and they were
smooth and hard and slippery, and I had to climb over and crawl under
and straddle and slide, and turn back several times, and I lost my
bee-line. But I set my direction again by the sun on my face. Next I ran
into a stretch of those small black-jacks, so thick I could scarcely
squeeze between. And when I came out I was hot and tired, I tell you!

Now I was hungry, too, and thirsty; and I found that fire meant a whole
lot to me. If it didn't mean the man with the message, it meant food and
somebody to talk to, perhaps. The fallen timber and the black-jack
thicket had interfered with me so that I wasn't sure, any more, that I
was heading straight for the fire. Down into a deep gulch I must plunge,
and up I toiled, on the other side. It was about time that I climbed a
tree, or did something else, to locate that fire. When next I reached a
ridgy spot I chose a good pine and shinned it. From the top nothing was
visible except the same old sea of timber with island rocks spotting it
here and there, and with Pilot Peak and the snowy range in the wrong
quarter again.

Of course, by this time the breakfast smoke would have quit. That made
me desperate. I shinned down so fast that a branch broke and I partly
fell the rest of the way along the trunk, and tore my shirt and scraped
a big patch of skin from my chest. This hurt. When I landed in a heap I
wanted to bawl. But instead, I struck off along the ridge, keeping high
so that if there was smoke I would see it, yet.

The ridge ended in another gulch. I had begun to hate gulches. A
fellow's legs grow numb when he hasn't had much to eat. But into the
gulch I must go, and so down I plunged again. And when almost at the
bottom I _smelled_ smoke! I stopped short, and sniffed. It was wood
smoke--camp smoke. I must be near that camp-fire. And away off I could
hear water running. That was toward my left, so probably the smoke was
on my left, for a camp would be near water. It is hard to get direction
just by smell, but I turned and scouted along the side of the gulch,
halfway up, sniffing and looking.

The brush was bad. It was as thick as hay and full of stickers, but I
worked my way through. If the camp was the camp of the beaver man with
the message, I must reconnoiter and scheme; if it was the camp of
somebody else, I would go down; and if I didn't know whose camp it was,
I must wait and find out.

The brush held me and tripped me and tore my trousers and shirt, and was
wet and hot at the same time. Keeping high, I worked along listening and
sniffing and spying--_feeling_ for that camp, if it was a camp. Pretty
soon I heard voices. That was encouraging--unless the beaver man had
company. The brush thinned, and the gulch opened, and I was at the mouth
of it, with the water sounding louder. On my stomach I looked out and
down--and there was the place of the camp, at the mouth of the gulch,
where the pines and spruces met a creek, and two boys were just leaving
it. They had packs on their backs, and they were dressed in khaki and
were neat and trim.

Down I went, sliding and leaping, head first or feet first, I didn't
care which, as long as I got there in time. The boys heard and turned
and stared, wondering. With my hands and face scratched, and my chest
skinned and my shirt and trousers torn, bearing my bow and my broken
arrow, like a wild boy I burst out upon them. Then suddenly I saw on the
sleeves of their khaki shirts the Scout badge. My throat was too dry and
my breath was too short for me to say a word, but I stopped and made the
Scout sign. They answered it; and they must have thought that I was
worse than I really was, because they came running.

"The Elk Patrol, Colorado," I wheezed.

"The Red Fox Patrol, New Jersey," they replied. "What's the matter?"

"I'm glad to meet you," I said, silly after the run I had made on an
empty stomach; and we laughed and shook hands hard.

They were bound to hold me up or examine me for wounds or help me in
some way, but I sat down of my own accord, to get my breath.

They were First-class Scouts of the Red Fox Patrol of New Jersey, and
were traveling through this way on foot, from Denver, to meet the rest
of their party further on at the railroad, to do Salt Lake and then the
Yellowstone. They had had a late breakfast and a good clean-up, because
this was Sunday; and now they were starting on, for a walk while it was
cool, before they lay by again and waited till Monday morning. I had
reached them just in time; I think I'd have had tough work trailing
them. They looked as if they could travel some.

Their clothes were the regulation Scouts uniform. One of them had a
splendid little twenty-two rifle, and the other had a camera. The name
of the boy with the rifle was Edward Van Sant; the name of the Scout
with the camera was Horace Ward. They seemed fine fellows--as Scouts
usually are.

I don't know how they knew that I was hungry or faint, for I didn't say
that I was. But the first thing I did know Van Sant had unstrapped his
pack, and Ward had taken a little pan and had brought water from the
creek. Then a little alcohol stove appeared, and while we talked the
water was boiling, in a jiffy. Ward dropped into the water a cube, and
stirred--and there was a mess of soup, all ready!

They made me drink it, although I kept telling them I was all right. It
tasted mighty good. They got out some first-aid dope, and washed my
skinned chest with a carbolic smelling wash and shook some surgical
powder over it, and put a bandage around, in great shape. Then they
washed my scratches and even sewed the worst of the tears in my clothes.
(Note 45.)

By this time they knew my story.

"Was he a dark-complexioned man, with a small face and no whiskers or
mustache?"

"He was dark, but he had a mustache and fresh whiskers," I answered.

"On a bay horse?"

"On a bay, with a blazed forehead. Why?"

"A man rode by here, last evening, along the trail across the creek. He
was dark-complexioned, he wore a black hat, and he rode a bay with a
mark on its shoulders like this--" and Ward drew in the dirt a K+.

"That's a K Cross," I exclaimed. And I thought it was right smart of
them to notice even the brand. "He's the man, sure. He's shaved off his
mustache and whiskers, but he's riding the same horse." And I jumped up.
I felt strong and ready again. "Which way did he go?"

Scout Van Sant pointed up the creek. "There's a trail on the other
side," he said. "You'll find fresh hoof marks in it."

"Bueno," I said; and I extended my hand to shake with them, for I must
light right out. "I'm much obliged for everything, but I've got to catch
him. If you meet any of my crowd please tell 'em you saw me and I'm
O. K.; and if you're ever in Elk country don't fail to look us up. The
lodge door is always open."

"Hold on," laughed Scout Ward. "You can't shoo us this way, unless
you'd rather travel alone. What's the matter with our going, too?"

"Sure," said Scout Van Sant.

"But your trail lies down creek, you said."

"Not now. As long as you're in trouble your trail is our trail."

Wasn't that fine! But--

"You'll miss your connections with the rest of your party," I objected.

"What if we do? We're on the Scout trail, now, for business,--and
pleasure can wait. You couldn't handle that man alone--could you?"

Well, I was going to try. But they wouldn't listen. And they wouldn't
let me carry anything. They slung their packs on their backs, we crossed
the creek on some stones, and taking the trail on the other side we
followed fast and steady, the horse's hoof-prints pointing up the creek.
One shoe had a bent nail-head.

The Red Fox Scouts stepped along without asking any odds, although I was
traveling light. They walked like Indians. Scout Van Sant took the lead,
Scout Ward came next, and I closed the rear. Pretty soon Scout Van Sant
dropped back, behind me, and let Ward have the lead. I surmised he did
this to watch how I was getting on; but I had that soup in me, and my
second wind, and I didn't ask any odds, either.

The hoof-prints were plain, and the trail was first rate; sometimes in
the timber and sometimes in little open patches, but always close to the
foaming creek.

After we had traveled for about two hours, or had gone seven miles, we
stopped and rested fifteen minutes and had a dish of soup. The creek
branched, and one part entered a narrow, high valley, lined with much
timber. The other part, which was the main part, continued more in the
open.

The hoofs with the bent nail-head quit, here; and as they didn't turn
off to the left, into the open country, they must have crossed to take
the gulch branch. An old bridge had been washed out, but the water was
shallow, and Scout Van Sant was over in about three jumps. After a
minute of searching he beckoned, and we skipped over, too. A small trail
followed the branch up the gulch, and the hoof-prints showed in it.

Now we all smelled smoke again. It seemed to me that I had been smelling
it ever since that first time, but you know how a smell sometimes sticks
in the nose. Still, we all were smelling it, now, and we kept our eyes
and ears open for other sign of a camp.

The water made a big noise as it dashed down; the gulch turned and
twisted, and was timbered and rocky; it grew narrower; and as we
advanced with Scout caution, looking ahead each time as far as we could,
on rounding an angle suddenly we came out into a sunny little park,
with flowers and grass and aspens and bowlders, the stream dancing
through at one edge, and an old dug-out beside the stream.

It was an abandoned prospect claim, because on the hill-slope were some
old prospect holes and a dump. By the looks, nobody had been working
these holes for a year or two; but from the chimney of the dug-out a
thin smoke was floating. We instantly sat down, motionless, to
reconnoiter.



CHAPTER XI

THE MAN AT THE DUG-OUT


We couldn't see any sign, except those hoof-marks, and that fire. Nobody
was stirring, the sun shone and the chipmunks scampered and the aspens
quivered and the stream tinkled, and the place seemed all uninhabited by
anything except nature. We grew tired of waiting.

"I'll go on to that dug-out," whispered Scout Ward. "If the man sees me
he won't know me, especially. I can find out if he's there, or who is
there."

That sounded good; so he dumped his pack and while Scout Van Sant and I
stayed back he walked out, up the trail. We saw him turn in at the
dug-out and rap on the door. Nobody came. He hung about and eyed the
trail and the ground, and rapped again.

"There's plenty of sign," he called to us; "and there's a loose horse
over across the creek."

"Well, what of it?" growled a voice; and he looked, and we looked, and
we saw a man sitting beside a bowlder on the little slope behind the
dug-out.

The man must have been watching, half hid, without moving. It was the
beaver man. He had an automatic pistol in his hand. This was my
business, now. So, just saying, "There he is!" I stood up and went right
forward. But Scout Van Sant followed.

"I want that message," I said, as soon as I could.

"What message?" he growled back, from over his gun.

"That Scouts' message you took from the fellow who took it from us."

"Oh, hello!" he grinned. "Were you there? They let you go, did they?"

"No; I got away to follow you. I want that message."

"Why, sure," he said. "If that's all you want." And he seemed relieved.
"Come and get it." He stuck his free hand behind him and fumbled, and
then he held up the package.

I started right up, but Scout Ward sprang ahead of me. "I'll get it. You
and Van stay behind," he bade.

He didn't wait for us to say yes, but walked for the rock; and just as
he reached it, and was stretching to take the package, the man, with a
big oath, jumped for him.

Jumped for him, and grabbed for him, sprawling out like a black cougar.
Van Sant and I yelled, sharp; Ward dodged and tripped and went rolling;
and as the man jumped for him again I shot my arrow at him. I couldn't
help it, I was so mad. The arrow was crooked, where it had been mended
(I really didn't try to hurt him), and maybe it _went_ crooked; but
anyway it hit him in the calf of the leg and stayed there. I didn't
think I had shot so hard.

The man uttered a quick word, and sat down. His face was screwed and he
glared about at us, with his pistol muzzle wavering and sweeping like a
snake's tongue. That arrow probably hurt. It hadn't gone in very far,
but it was stuck.

"I'll kill one of you for that," he snarled.

"No, you won't," answered Scout Ward, scrambling up and facing him. "If
you killed one you'd have to kill all three, and then you'd be hanged
anyway."

"You got just what was coming to you for acting so mean," added Scout
Van Sant. "You grabbed for Ward and we had to protect him."

They weren't afraid, a particle, either of them; but I was the one who
had shot the arrow, and all I could say was: "It isn't barbed. You can
pull it out."

"Yes, and I'll get blood poisonin', mebbe," snarled the man. He kept us
covered with his revolver muzzle. "You git!" he ordered.

With his other hand he worked at the arrow and pulled it out easily.
The point was red, but not very far up.

"You'd better cut your trousers open, over that wound," called Scout Van
Sant. "Did you have on colored underdrawers?"

"None o' your business," snarled the man. "You git, all of you."

"Wait a minute. Don't use that old handkerchief," spoke Scout Ward. And
away he ran for the packs. They were very busy Scouts, those two, and
right up to snuff. The arrow wound seemed to interest them. He came
back, and I saw what he had. "Here," he called; "if you'll promise not
to grab me I'll come and dress that in first-class shape. You're liable
to have an infection, from dirt."

"I'll infect _you_, if I ketch you," snarled the man, fingering his
wounded leg and dividing his glances between it and us.

"Well, if you won't promise, I'll lay this on this rock," continued
Scout Ward, as cool as you please. "You ought to cut the cloth away from
that wound; then you dissolve this bichloride of mercury tablet in a
quart of water, and flush that hole out thoroughly; then you moisten a
pad of this cloth in the water and bind it on the hole with this
surgical bandage. See?" (Note 46.)

"I'll bind you on a hole, if I ketch you," snarled the man. That hole
ached, I reckon.

But Scout Ward advanced and laid the first-aid stuff on a stone about
ten feet from the man, so that he could crawl and get it.

"Now hadn't you better give us that message? It's no good to you, and
it's done you harm enough," said Scout Van Sant.

"Give you nothin', except a dose of lead, if you don't git out pronto,"
snarled the man. "You git! Hear me? GIT! If you weren't kids, you'd git
something else beside jes' git. But I'm not goin' to tell you many more
times. GIT!"

The Red Fox Patrol Scouts looked at me and I looked at them, and we
agreed--for the man was growing angrier and angrier. There was no sense
in badgering him. A fellow must use discretion, you know.

"All right; we'll 'git,'" answered Scout Ward. "But we'll keep on your
trail till you turn over that message. You've no business with it."

The man just growled, and as we turned away he began to pull his
trouser-leg up further and to fuss with his dirty sock and his pink
underdrawers there. Those were no things to have about an open wound.

"You'd better use that first-aid wash and bandage," called back Scout
Ward.

We went to the packs and the Red Fox Patrol Scouts slung them on. They
wouldn't let me carry one. We didn't know exactly what to do, now:
whether to go on and wait, or wait here, while we watched. Only--

"You Scouts take the trail for your rendezvous," I said. Rendezvous, you
know, is the place where Scouts come together; and these two boys were
on their way to meet the rest of their party, for Salt Lake and the
Yellowstone, when I had come in on them.

"No," they said; "your trail is our trail. Scouts help each other. We
can meet our party somewhere later, and still be in time."

Scouts mean what they say, so I didn't argue, and I was mighty glad to
have them along. We decided to follow the trail we were on for a little
way, and then to climb the side of the gulch and make Sunday camp where
we could watch the man's movements.

We passed the dug-out; up back of it the beaver man was tying his
bandanna handkerchief around his leg! He didn't look at us, and he
hadn't touched the first-aid stuff on the rock.

As we hiked on, I kept noticing that smell of smoke--a piny smoke; and
it did not come from the dug-out, surely. Now I remembered that I had
been smelling that piny smoke all day, and I laid it to the two
camp-fires, but I must have been mistaken. Or else there was another
fire, still--or I had the smell in my nose and couldn't get it out. When
you are in the habit of smelling for something, you keep thinking that
it is there, all the time. A Scout must watch his imagination, and not
be fooled by it.

We climbed the side of the gulch, through the trees; the Red Fox boys
carried their packs right along, without resting any more than I did.
They were toughened to the long trail. The sun began to be clouded and
hazy. When we halted halfway up, and looked back and down, at the
dug-out, the man had hobbled across from the dug-out and was leading
back his horse.

Just then Scout Ward spoke up. "It is smoke!" he exclaimed, puffing and
sniffing. "Boys, it's a forest fire somewhere."

So they had been smelling it, too.

I looked at the sun. The haze clouding it was the smoke!

"Climb on top, so we can see," I said; and away we went.

The timber was thick with spruces and pines. Up we went, among them, for
the top of the ridge. We came out into an open space; beyond, the ridge
fell away in a long slope of the timber, for the snowy range; and old
Pilot Peak was right before us, to the west. The sun was getting low,
and was veiled by smoke drifting across it. And on the right, distant a
couple of miles, up welled a great brownish-black mass from the fire
itself.

A forest fire, and a big one! The smell was very strong.

The Red Fox Scouts looked at me. "What ought we to do?" asked Scout Van
Sant. "Maybe you know more about these forest fires than we do."

Maybe I did. The Rockies are places for big forest fires, all right, and
I'd heard the Guards and Rangers talk, in our town. The timber was dry
as a bone, at this time of year. The smoke certainly was drifting our
way. And fire travels up-hill faster than it travels down-hill. So this
ridge, surrounded by the timber, was a bad spot to be caught in,
especially if that fire should split and come along both sides. No
timber ridge for us!

"Turn back and make for the creek; shall we?" proposed Scout Ward.

That didn't sound good to me, somehow. The creek was beginning to pinch
out, this high up the gulch, and a fire would jump it in a twinkling.
And if anything should happen to us, down there,--one of us hurt
himself, you know, in hurrying,--we should be in a trap as the fire
swept across. Out of the timber was the place for us.

But away across, an opposite slope rose to bareness, where were just
grass and rocks; and between was a long patch of aspens or willows, down
in the hollow. If we couldn't make the bareness, those aspens or willows
would be better than the pines and evergreens. They wouldn't burn so;
and if they were willows, they might be growing in a bog.

"No," I said. "Let's strike across," and I explained.

"But the man. Wait a minute. Maybe he doesn't know," said Scout Van
Sant; and away he raced, down and back for the dug-out.

We followed, for of course we wouldn't let him go alone. As we ran we
all shouted, and at the dug-out we shouted, looking; but all that we saw
was the beaver man far off across the creek, riding through the timber.
He did not glance back; he kept on, riding slowly, headed for the fire.
That seemed bad. He was so angry that perhaps his judgment wasn't
working right, and he didn't pay much attention to the smell of smoke.
So all we could do was to race up the ridge again, get the packs, and
plunge down over for sanctuary.

The wind was blowing toward the fire, as if sucked in. But I knew that
this would not hold the fire, because there would be another breeze,
low, carrying it along. With a big fire there always is a wind, sucked
in from all sides, as the hot air rises.

Those Red Fox Scouts hiked well, loaded with their packs. I set the
pace, in a bee-line for the willows and aspens, and I was traveling
light, but they hung close behind. The altitude made them puff; they
fairly wheezed as we zigzagged down, among the trees; but we must get
out of this brush into the open.

"Will we make it?" puffed Ward.

"Sure," I said. But I was mighty anxious. It seemed to me that the
distance lengthened and lengthened and that I could feel the air getting
warm in puffs. This was imagination.

"Look!" cried Van Sant. "What's that?" He stopped and panted and
pointed.

"Bunch of deer!" cried Ward.

It was. Not a bunch, exactly, but two does and three fawns, scampering
through the timber below, fleeing from the fire. They were bounding over
brush and over logs, their tails lifted showing the white--and next they
were out of sight in a hollow. They made a pretty sight, but--

"Frightened by the fire, aren't they?" asked Scout Van Sant, quietly, as
we jogged on.

"Yes," I had to say.

This looked serious. The fire might not be coming, and again it might.
Animals are wise.

The smoke certainly was worse. The air certainly was warmer. The breeze
was changing, or else we were down into another breeze. Next I saw a
black, shaggy creature lumbering past, before, and I pointed without
stopping. They nodded.

"Bear?" panted Ward.

I nodded. The bear was getting out of the way, too.

"Will we make it?" again asked Ward.

"Sure," I answered. We _had_ to.

On we plowed. We were almost at the bottom of the slope and we ought to
be reaching those willows and aspens. The brush was not so bad, now; but
the brush does not figure much in a forest fire when the flames leap
from tree-top to tree-top and make a crown fire. That is the worst of
all. This was hot enough to be a crown fire, if a breeze helped it.

We saw lots of animals--rabbits and squirrels and porcupines and more
deer, and the birds were calling and fluttering. The smoke rasped our
throats; the air was thick with it and with the smell of burning pine.
And how we sweat.

Then, hurrah! We were into the aspens. I tell you, their white trunks
and their green leaves looked good to me; but ahead of us was that other
slope to climb, before we were into the bareness.

"Shall we go on?" asked Scout Van Sant.

He coughed; we all coughed, as we wheezed. That had been a hard hike.
The air was hot, we could _feel_ the fire as the wind came in strong
puffs; everywhere animals were running and flying, and the aspens were
full of wild things, panicky. We had to decide quickly, for the fire was
much closer.

"Are you good for another pull?" I asked.

They grinned, out of streaming faces and white lips.

"We'll make it if you can."

But I didn't believe that we could. Up I went into an aspen, to
reconnoiter.

"Be looking for wetness, or willows," I called down. They dropped their
packs and scurried.



CHAPTER XII

FOILING THE FIRE


I don't know what a record I made in climbing that tree--an aspen's bark
is slick--but in a jiffy I was at the top and could peer out. (Note
47.) All the sky was smoke, veiling the upper end of the valley and of
the ridge. The ridge must be afire; the fire was spreading along our
side; and if we tried for the opposite slope and the bare spot we might
be caught halfway! Something whisked through the trees under me. It was
a coyote. And as I slid down like lightning, thinking hard as to what we
must do and do at once, I heard a calling and Van Sant and Ward came
rushing back.

"We've found a place!" they cried huskily. "A boggy place, with willows.
Let's get in it."

We grabbed the packs. I carried one, at last. Scout Ward led straight
for the place. Willows began to appear, clustering thick. That was a
good sign. The ground grew wet and soft, and slushed about our feet. I
tell you, it felt fine!

"Will it do?" gasped Scout Ward, back.

"Great!" I said.

"It's occupied, but I guess we can squeeze in," added Van Sant.

And sure enough. Animals had got here first; all kinds--coyotes,
rabbits, squirrels, skunks, porcupines, a big gray wolf, and a brown
bear, and one or two things whose names I didn't know. But we didn't
care. We forced right in, to the very middle; nothing paid much
attention to us, except to step aside and give us room. Of course the
coyotes snarled and so did the wolf; but the bear simply lay panting, he
was so fat. And we lay panting, too.

We weren't any too soon. The air was gusty hot and gusty coolish, and
the smoke came driving down. We dug holes, so that the water would
collect, and so that we could dash it over each other if necessary. I
could reach with my hand and pet a rabbit, but I didn't. Nothing
bothered anything else. Even the coyotes and the wolf let the rabbits
alone. This was a sanctuary. There was a tremendous crashing, and a big
doe elk bolted into the midst of us. She was thin and quivery, and her
tongue was hanging out and her eyes staring. But she didn't stay; with
another great bound she was off, outrunning the fire. She probably knew
where she was going.

We others lay around, flat, waiting.

"Wish we were on her back," gasped Van Sant.

"We're all right," I said.

"Think so?"

"Sure," I answered.

They were game, those Red Fox Scouts. They never whimpered. We had done
the best we could, and after you've done the best you can there is
nothing left except to take what comes. And take it without kicking. As
for me, I was full of thought. I never had been in a forest fire,
before, but it seemed to me our chances were good. Only, I wondered
about General Ashley and Fitzpatrick, in the hands of that careless
gang; and about Major Henry and Jed Smith and Kit Carson, and about the
beaver man with the wounded leg. He'd have the hardest time of all.

Now the smoke was so heavy and sharp that we coughed and choked. The air
was scorching. We could hear a great crackling and snapping and the
breeze withered the leaves about us. We burrowed. The animals around us
cringed and burrowed. The fire was upon us--and a forest fire in the
evergreen country is terrible.

There was a constant dull roar; our willows swayed and writhed; the
rabbit crept right against me and lay shivering, and the coyotes
whimpered. I flattened myself, and so did the Red Fox Scouts; and with
my face in the ooze I tried to find cool air.

The roaring was steady; and the crackling and snapping was worse than
any Fourth of July. Sparks came whisking down through the willows and
sizzled in the wetness. One lit on a coyote and I smelled burning hair;
and then one lit on me and I had to turn over and wallow on my back to
put it out. "Ouch!" exclaimed Van Sant; and one must have lit on him,
too.

But that was not bad. If we could stand the heat, and not swallow it and
burn our lungs, we needn't mind the sparks; and maybe in ten or fifteen
minutes the worst would be over, when the branches and the brush had
burned.

Of course the first few moments were the ticklish ones. We didn't know
what might happen. But we never said a word. Like the animals we just
waited, and hoped for the best. When I found that we weren't being
burned, and that the roaring and the crackling weren't harming us, I
lifted my head. I sat up; and the Red Fox Scouts sat up, cautiously. We
were still all right. The air was smoky, but the _fire_ hadn't got at
us--and now it probably wouldn't. But this was not at all like Sunday!

The Red Fox Scouts were pale, under their mud; and so was I, I suppose.
I felt pale, and I felt weak and shaky--and I felt thankful. That had
been a mighty narrow escape for us. If we had not found the willows and
the wet, we would have died, it seemed to me.

"How about it?" asked Scout Ward, huskily, and his voice trembled, but
I didn't blame him for that. "It's gone past, hasn't it?"

"Yes," said I. And--

"We're still here," said Scout Van Sant.

"Well," said Ward, soberly--and smiling, too, with cracked lips, "I know
how I feel, and I guess you fellows feel the same way. God was good to
us, and I want to thank Him."

And we kept silent a moment, and did.

The roaring had about quit and the crackling was not nearly so bad. The
air was not fiery hot, any more; it was merely warm. The attack had
passed, and we were safe. The rabbit beside me hopped a few feet and
squatted again, and the fat bear sat up and blinked about him with his
piggish eyes. It seemed to me that the animals were growing uneasy and
that perhaps the truce was over with. In that case, unpleasant things
were likely to happen, so we had better move out.

"Shall we try it?" asked Van Sant.

We picked up the packs and sticking close together moved on--dodging
another gray wolf and a coyote, and an animal that looked like a
carcajou or wolverine, which snarled at us and wouldn't budge.

Of course, it was a little doubtful whether we could travel through
burned timber so soon after the fire had swept it. The ground would be
thick with coals and hot ashes, and trees would still be blazing. But
when we came out at the opposite edge of the willows and could see
through the aspens, the timber beyond did not look bad, after all. There
were a few burned places, but the fire had skirted the aspens on this
side only in spots, where cinders had lodged.

So if we had kept going instead of having stopped in the willows we
might have reached the place beyond all right; but it would have been
taking an awful risk, and we decided that we had done the correct thing.

Smoke still hung heavy and the smell of burning pine was strong, as we
threaded our way among the hot spots, making for the ridge beyond. That
bare place would be a good lookout, and we rather hankered for it,
anyway. We had crossed the valley, and as we climbed the slope we could
look back. The fire had covered both sides of the first ridge, and the
top, and if we had stayed there we would have been goners, sure, the way
matters turned out. It was a dismal sight, and ought to make anybody
feel sorry. Thousands of acres of fine timber had been killed--just
wasted.

"What do you suppose started it?" asked Scout Ward.

A camp-fire, probably. Lots of people, camping in the timber, either
don't know anything or else are out-and-out careless, like that gang
from town, or those two recruits who had not made good. And I more than
half believed that the fire might have started from their camps.

All of a sudden we found that we were hungry. I had been hungry before
the fire, because I hadn't had much to eat for twenty-four hours; but
during the fire I had forgotten about it; and now we all were hungry.
However, after that fire we were nervous, in the timber, and we knew
that if we camped there we wouldn't sleep. So we pushed on through, to
camp on top, in the bare region, where we would be out of danger and
could see around. The Red Fox canteens would give us water enough.

We came out on the bare spot. Away off to the right, along the side of
the ridge, figures were moving. They were human figures, not more wild
animals: two men and a pack burro. They were moving toward us, so we
obliqued toward them, with our shadows cast long by the low sun. The
grass was short and the footing was hard gravel, so that we could hurry;
and soon I was certain that I knew who those three figures were. One was
riding.

The side of the ridge was cut by a deep gulch, like a canyon, with rocky
walls and stream rolling through along the bottom. We halted on our
edge, and the three figures came on and halted on their edge. They were
General Ashley and Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand, and Apache the black burro.
The general was riding Apache. I was glad to see them.

"They're the two Elk Scouts who were captured," I said, to the Red Fox
Scouts; and I waved and grinned, and they waved back, and we all
exchanged the Scout sign.

But that gorge lay between, and the water made such a noise that we
couldn't exchange a word.

"Can they read Army and Navy wigwags?" asked Scout Ward.

"Sure," I said. "Can you?"

"Pretty good," he answered. "Shall I make a talk, or will you?"

But I wasn't very well practiced in wigwags, yet; I was only a
Second-class Scout.

"You," I said. "Do you want a flag?"

But he said he'd use his hat. (Note 48.)

He made the "attention" signal; and Fitzpatrick answered. Then he went
ahead, while Scout Van Sant spelled it out for me:

"R--e--d F--o--x."

And Fitz answered, like lightning:

"E--l--k."

"What shall I say?" asked Scout Ward of me, over his shoulder.

"Say we're all right, and ask them how they are."

He did. Scout Van Sant spelled the answer:

"O. K. B--u--t c--a--n--t c--r--o--s--s. C--a--m--p t--i--l--l
m--o--r--n--i--n--g. A--s--h h--u--r--t."

When we learned that General Ashley was hurt, and knew that he and
Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand were going to camp on the other side for the
night, the two Red Fox Scouts, packs and all, and I got through that
gulch somehow and up and out, where they were. It would have been a
shame to let a one-armed boy tend to the camp and to a wounded
companion, and do everything, if we could possibly help. Of course, Fitz
would have managed. He was that kind. He didn't ask for help.

They were waiting; Fitz had unpacked the burro and was making camp.
General Ashley was sitting with his back against a rock. He looked pale
and worn. He had sprained his ankle, back there when we had all tried to
escape, yesterday, and it was swollen horribly because he had had to
step on it some and hadn't been able to give it the proper treatment.
(Note 49.) Fitz looked worn, too, and of course we three others
(especially I) showed travel, ourselves.

After I had introduced the Red Fox Scouts to him and Fitz, then before
anything else was told I must report. So I did. But I hated to say it. I
saluted, and blurted it out:

"I followed the beaver man and sighted him, sir, but he got away again,
with the message."

The general did not frown, or show that he was disappointed or vexed. He
tried to smile, and he said: "Did he? That surely was hard luck then,
Jim. Where did he go?"

"We were with Bridger, and it seems to us that he did the best he could.
The fire interrupted," put in Red Fox Scout Van Sant, hesitatingly.

He spoke as if he knew that he had not been asked for an opinion, but as
a friend and as a First-class Scout he felt as though he ought to say
something.

"The best is all that any Scout can do," agreed the general. "Go ahead,
Jim, and tell what happened."

So I did. The general nodded. I hadn't made any excuses; I tried to tell
just the plain facts, and ended with our escape in the willows, from
that fire.

"The report is approved," he said. "We'll get that beaver man yet. We
must have that message. Now Fitz can tell what happened to us. But we'd
better be sending up smoke signals to call in the other squad, in case
they're where they can see. Make the council signal, Bridger."

Fitz had a fire almost ready; the Red Fox Scouts helped me, and gathered
smudge stuff while I proceeded to send up the council signal in the Elks
code. Fitz talked while he worked. The general looked on and winced as
his ankle throbbed. But he was busy, too, fighting pain.

Fitz told what had happened to them, after I had escaped. He and the
general had been taken back by the gang, and tied again, and camp was
broken in a hurry because the gang feared that now I would lead a
rescue. They were mean enough to make the general limp along, without
bandaging his foot, until he was so lame that he must be put on a horse.
The camp-fire was left burning and the bacon was forgotten. They climbed
a plateau and dropped into a flat, and following up very fast had curved
into the timber to cross another ridge into Lost Park and on for the
Divide by way of Glacier Lake. That is what the general and Fitz
guessed. That night they all camped on the other side of the timber
ridge, at the edge of Lost Park. They were in a hurry, still, and they
made their fire in the midst of trees where they had no business to make
it. They slept late, as they always did, and not having policed the camp
or put out their fire, scarcely had they plunged into Lost Park, the
next morning, when one of them looking back saw the trees afire where
they had been.

Lost Park is a mean place; the brush makes a regular jungle of it, and
fire would go through it as through a hayfield. That fact and their
guilty conscience made them panicky. It's a pretty serious thing, to
start a forest fire. So they didn't know what to do; some wanted to go
one way, and some another; the fire grew bigger and bigger, and the
cattle and game trails wound and twisted and divided so that the gang
were separated, in the brush, and it was every man for himself. The
general was riding Mike Delavan's horse, and Mike ordered him down and
climbed on himself and made off; and the first thing the general and
Fitz knew they were abandoned. That is what they would have maneuvered
for, from the beginning, and it would have been easy, as Scouts, to work
it, among those blind trails, but the general couldn't walk. Perhaps it
was by a mistake that they were abandoned; everybody may have thought
that somebody else was tending to them, and Mike didn't know what he was
doing, he was so excited. But there they were.

The general tried to hobble, and Fitz was bound that he would carry
him--good old Fitz, with the one arm! The bushes were high, the smoke
where the fire was mounted more and more and spread as if the park was
doomed, and the crashing and shouting and swearing of the gang faded and
died away in the distance. Then the general and Fitz heard something
coming, and down the trail they were on trotted Apache the burro! He
must have turned back or have entered by a cross trail. Whew, but they
were glad to see Apache! Fitz grabbed him by the neck rope. He had a
flat pack tied on with our rope, did Apache, and Fitz hoisted the
general aboard, and away they hiked, with the general hanging on and his
foot dangling.

Now that they could travel and head as they pleased, they worked right
back, out of the park, and by a big circuit so as not to run into the
gang they circled the fire and tried to strike the back trail somewhere
so as to meet Major Henry and Carson and Smith, who might be on it. But
they came out upon this plateau, and sighted us, and then we all met at
the edge of the gulch.

That was the report of Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand. He and the general
certainly had been through a great deal.

During the story the Red Fox Scouts and I had been making the smoke
signal over and over again. "Come to council," I sent up, while they
helped to keep the smudge thick. "Come to council," "Come to council,"
for Major Henry and Kit and Jed, wherever they might be. But we were so
interested in Fitz's story, how he and the general got away from the
gang and from the fire, that sometimes we omitted to scan the horizon.
The general didn't, though. He is a fine Scout.

"There's the answer!" he said suddenly. "They've seen! The fire didn't
get them. Hurrah!"

And "Hurrah!" we cheered.



CHAPTER XIII

ORDERS FROM THE PRESIDENT

(THE ADVENTURES OF THE MAJOR HENRY PARTY)


I am Tom Scott, or Major Andrew Henry, second in command of the Elk
Patrol Scouts which set out to take that message over the range. So now
I will make a report upon what happened to our detail after General
Ashley and Fitzpatrick and Bridger left, upon the trail of the two boys
who had stolen our flags and burros.

We waited as directed all day and all night, and as they did not come
back or make any signal, in the morning we prepared to follow them.
First we sent up another smoke for half an hour, and watched for an
answer; but nothing happened. Then we cached the camp stuff by rolling
in the bedding, with the tarpaulins on the outside, what we couldn't
carry, and stowing it under a red spruce. The branches came down clear
to the ground, in a circle around, and when we had crawled in and had
covered the bundle with other boughs and needles, it couldn't be seen
unless you looked mighty close.

We erased our tracks to the tree, and made two blazes, on other trees,
so that our cache was in the middle of a line from blaze to blaze. Then
we took sights, and wrote them down on paper, so that none of us would
forget how to find the place. (Note 50.)

We each had a blanket, rolled and slung in army style, with a string run
through and tied at the ends. I carried the twenty-two rifle, and we
stuffed away in our clothes what rations we could. In my blanket I
carried the other of our lariat ropes. We might need it.

So the time was about ten o'clock before we started. The trail was more
than twenty-four hours old, but our Scouts had made it plain on purpose,
and we followed right along. Of course, I am sixteen and Kit Carson is
thirteen and little Jed Smith is only twelve, so I set my pace to
theirs. A blanket roll weighs heavy after you have carried it a few
miles.

But we stopped only twice before we reached a sign marked in the ground:
"Look out!" The trail faltered, and an arrow showed which way to go, and
we came to the spot where the Scouts had peeped over into the draw and
had seen the enemy. Here another arrow pointed back, and we understood
exactly what had happened.

We took the new direction. The three Scouts had left as plain a trail as
they could by breaking branches and disturbing pebbles, and treading in
single file. Jed Smith was awful tired, by this time, for the sun was
hot and we hadn't halted to eat. But picking the trail we made the
circuit around the upper end of the draw and climbed the opposite ridge.
The trail was harder to read, here, among the grass and rocks.

By the sun it was the middle of the afternoon, now, and we must have
been on the trail five hours. We waited, and listened, and looked and
smelled, feeling for danger. We must not run into any ambuscade. A
little gulch, with timber, lay just ahead, and a haze of smoke floated
over it.

This spelled danger. It was not Scouts' smoke, because Scouts would not
be having a fire, at this time of day, smoking so as to betray their
position. When we made a smoke, we made it for a purpose. The place must
be reconnoitered.

We spread. I took the right, Kit Carson the left, and Jed Smith was put
in the middle because he was the littlest. It would have been good if we
could have left our blanket rolls, but we did not dare to. Of course, if
we were chased, we might have to drop them and let them be captured.

We crossed a cow-path, leading into the gulch. It held burro tracks,
pointing down; and it seemed to me that if there was any ambuscade down
there it would be along this trail. Naturally, the enemy would expect us
to follow the trail. Maybe the other Scouts had followed it and had
been surrounded. So we crossed the trail, and I signed to Carson and to
Smith to move out across the gulch and around by the other side.

We did. Cedars and spruces were scattered about, and gooseberry bushes
and other brush were screen enough; we swung down along the opposite
side, and the smoke grew stronger. But still we could not hear a sound.
We closed in, peering and listening--and then suddenly I wasn't afraid,
or at least, I didn't care. Through the stems of the trees was an open
park, at the foot of the gulch, and if there was a camp nobody was at
home, for the park was afire!

"Come on!" I shouted. "Fire!" and down I rushed. So did Carson and Jed
Smith.

We were just in time. The flames had spread from an old camp-fire and
had eaten along across the grass and pine needles and were among the
brush, getting a good start. Already a dry stump was blazing; and in
fifteen minutes more a tree somewhere would have caught. And then--whew!

But we sailed into it, stamping and kicking and driving it back from the
brush.

"Wet your blanket, Jed," I ordered, "while we fight."

A creek was near, luckily; Jed wet his blanket, and we each in turn wet
our blankets; and swiping with the rolls we smashed the line of fire
right and left, and had it out in just a few minutes.

Now a big blackened space was left, like a blot; and the burning and our
trampling about had destroyed most of the sign. But we must learn what
had happened. We got busy again.

We picked up the cow-path, back in the gulch, and found that the burros
had followed it this far. We found where the burros had been grazing and
standing, in the brush, near the burned area, and we found where horses
had been standing, too! We found fish-bones, and coffee-grounds dumped
from the little bag they had been boiled in, and a path had been worn to
the creek. We found in the timber and brush near by other sign, but we
missed the second warning sign. However, where the fire had not reached,
on the edge of the park, we found several pieces of rope, cut, lying
together, and in a soft spot of the turf here we found the hob-nail
prints of the Elk Patrol! By ashes we found where the main camp-fire had
been, and we found where a second smaller camp-fire had been, at the
edge of the park, and prints of shoes worn through in the left sole--the
shoes of the beaver man! We found a tin plate and fork, by the big
camp-fire, and wrapped in a piece of canvas in a spruce was a hunk of
bacon. By circling we found an out-going trail of horses and burros. We
found the out-going trail of the beaver man--or of a single horse,
anyway, but no shoe prints with it. But looking hard we found Scout
sole prints in the horse and burro trail.

By this time it was growing dusk, and Jed Smith was sick because he had
drunk too much water out of the creek, when he was tired and hot and
hungry. So we decided to stay here for the night. From the signs we
figured out what might have happened:

According to the tracks, the burro thieves had joined with this camp.
Our fellows had sighted the burro thieves, back where the "Look out"
sign had been made, and had circuited the draw so as to keep out of
sight themselves, and had taken the trail again on the ridge. They had
followed along that cow-path, and had been ambushed. The cut ropes
showed that they had been tied. This camp had been here for two or three
days, because of the path worn to the creek and because of the coffee
grounds and the fish bones and the other sign. It was a dirty camp, too,
and with its unsanitary arrangements and cigarette butts and tobacco
juice was such a camp as would be made by that town gang. The sign of
the cut ropes looked like the town gang, too. The camp must have broken
up in a hurry, and moved out quick, by the things that were forgotten.
Campers don't forget bacon, very often. The cut ropes would show haste,
and we might have thought that the Scout prisoners had escaped, if we
hadn't found their sole prints with the out-going trail. These prints
had been stepped on by burros, showing that the burros followed behind.
What the beaver man was doing here we could not tell.

So we guessed pretty near, I think.

Little Jed Smith had a splitting headache, from heat and work and
water-drinking. His tongue looked all right, so I decided it was just
tiredness and stomach. One of the blankets was dry; we wrapped him up
and let him lie quiet, with a wet handkerchief on his eyes, and I gave
him a dose of aconite, for fever. (Note 51.)

At this time, we know now, General Ashley and Thomas Fitzpatrick were
being hustled along one trail, captives to the gang; the beaver man was
on a second trail, with our message; and Jim Bridger was on his lone
scout in another direction, and just about to make a camp-fire with his
hob-nails and a flint.

The dusk was deepening, and Kit Carson and I went ahead settling camp
for the night. We built a fire, and spread the blankets, and were making
tea in a tin can when we heard hoof thuds on the cow-path. A man rode in
on us. He was a young man, with a short red mustache and a peaked hat,
and a greenish-shade Norfolk jacket with a badge on the left breast. A
Forest Ranger! Under his leg was a rifle in scabbard.

"Howdy?" he said, stopping and eying us.

Kit Carson and I saluted him, military way, because he represented the
Government, and answered: "Howdy, sir?"

He was cross, as he gazed about.

"What are you lads trying to do? Set the timber afire?" he scolded. He
saw the burned place, you know.

"We didn't do that," I answered. "It was afire when we came in and we
put it out."

He grunted.

"How did it start?"

"A camp-fire, we think."

He fairly snorted. He was pretty well disgusted and angered, we could
see.

"Of course. There are more blamed fools and down-right criminals loose
in these hills this summer than ever before. I've done nothing except
chase fires for a month, now. Who are you fellows?"

"We're a detail of the Elk Patrol, 14th Colorado Troop, Boy Scouts of
America."

"Well, I suppose you've been taught about the danger from camp-fires,
then?"

"Yes, sir," I answered.

"Bueno," he grunted. "Wish there were plenty more like you. Every person
who leaves a live camp-fire behind him, anywhere, ought to be made to
stay in a city all the rest of his life." (Note 52.)

He straightened in his saddle and lifted the lines to ride on. But his
horse looked mighty tired and so did he; and as a Scout it was up to me
to say: "Stop off and have supper. We're traveling light, but we can set
out bread and tea."

"Sure," added Kit Carson and Jed Smith.

"No, thanks," he replied. "I've got a few miles yet to ride, before I
quit. And to-morrow's Sunday, when I don't ride much if I can help it.
So long."

"So long," we called; and he passed on at a trot.

We had supper of bread and bacon and tea. The bread sopped in bacon
grease was fine. Jed felt better and drank some tea, himself, and ate a
little. It was partly a hunger headache. We pulled dead grass and cut
off spruce and pine tips, and spread a blanket on it all. The two other
blankets we used for covering. Our coats rolled up were pillows. We
didn't undress, except to take off our shoes. Then stretched out
together, on the one-blanket bed and under the two blankets, we slept
first-rate. Jed had the warm middle place, because he was the littlest.

As I was commander of the detail I woke up first in the morning, and
turned out. After a rub-off at the creek I took the twenty-two and went
hunting for breakfast. I saw a rabbit; but just as I drew a bead on him
I suddenly remembered that this was _Sunday morning_--and I quit.
Sunday ought to be different from other days. So I left him hopping and
happy, and I went back to camp. Jed and Kit had the fire going and the
water boiling; and we breakfasted on tea and bread and bacon.

Then we policed the camp, put out the fire, every spark, and took the
burro and horse trail, to the rescue again. We must pretend that this
was only a little Sunday walk, for exercise.

After a while the trail crossed the creek at a shallow place, and by a
cow-path climbed the side of a hill. Before exposing ourselves on top of
the hill we crawled and stuck just our heads up, Indian scouts fashion,
to reconnoiter. The top was clear of enemy. Sitting a minute, to look,
we could see old Pilot Peak and the snowy range where we Scouts ought to
be crossing, bearing the message. We believed that now the gang with
prisoners were traveling to cross the range, too. They had the message,
of course, and that was bad, unless we could head them off. So we sort
of hitched our belts another notch and traveled as fast as we could.

The hill we were on spread into a plateau of low cedars and scrubby
pines; the snowy range, with Pilot Peak sticking up, was before. After
we had been hiking for two or three hours, off diagonally to the left we
saw a forest fire. This was thick timber country, and the fire made a
tremendous smoke. It was likely to be a big fire, and we wondered if the
ranger was fighting it. As for us, we were on the trail and must hurry.

We watched the fire, but we were not afraid of it, yet. The plateau was
too bare for it, if it came our way. The smoke grew worse--a black,
rolling smoke; and we could almost see the great sheets of flame
leaping. We were glad we weren't in it, and that we didn't know of
anybody else who was in it. But whoever had set it had done a dreadful
thing.

The trail of the burros and of the horses, mixed, continued on, and left
the plateau and dipped down into a wide flat, getting nearer to the
timber on the slope opposite. Then out from our left, or on the fire
side, a man came riding hard. He shouted and waved at us, so we stopped.

He was the Ranger. I tell you, but he looked tired and angry. His eyes
were red-rimmed and his face was streaked with sweat and dirt, and holes
were burned in his clothes and his horse's hide.

"I want you boys," he panted, as soon as he drew up. "We've got to stop
that fire. See it?"

Of course we'd seen it. But--it wasn't any of our business, was it?

"I want you to hurry over there to a fire line and keep the fire from
crossing. Quick! Savvy?"

"I don't believe we can, sir," I said. "We're on the trail."

"What difference does that make?"

"We're after a gang who have three of our men and we want to stop them
before they cross the range."

"You follow me."

"I'm sorry," I said; "but we're trailing. We're obeying orders."

"Whose orders?"

"Our Patrol leader's."

"Who's he?"

"General Ashley--I mean, Roger Franklin. He's another boy. But he's been
captured and two of our partners. We're to follow and rescue them. We've
got to go."

"No, you haven't," answered the Ranger. "Not until after this fire is
under control. You'll be paid for your time."

"We don't care anything about the pay," said Kit Carson. "We've got to
go on."

"Well, I'm giving you higher orders from a higher officer, then,"
retorted the Ranger. "I'm giving you orders from the President of the
United States. This is Government work, and I'm representing the
Government. I reckon you Boy Scouts want to support the Government,
don't you?"

Sure we did.

"If that fire goes it will burn millions of dollars' worth of timber,
and may destroy ranches and people, too. It's your duty now to help the
Government and to put it out. Your duty to Uncle Sam is bigger than any
duty to private Scouts' affairs. And it is the law that anybody seeing a
forest fire near him shall report it or aid in extinguishing it. Now,
are you coming, or will you sneak off with an excuse?"

"Why--coming!" we all cried at once. We hated to leave the trail--to
leave the general and Fitz and Jim Bridger and the message to their
fate; but the Government was calling, here, and the first duty of good
Scouts is to be good citizens.

"Pass up your blanket rolls," ordered the Ranger. "You smallest kid
climb behind me. Each of you two others catch hold of a stirrup. Then we
can make time across."

In a second away we all went at a trot, heading for the timber and the
fire.

"I rode right through that fire to get you," said the Ranger. "I saw
you. I've got two or three guards working up over the ridge. Your job is
to watch a fire line that runs along this side of the base of that point
yonder. One end of the fire line is a boggy place with willows and
aspens; and if we can keep the fire from jumping those willows and
starting across, down the valley, and those fellows on the other side of
the ridge can head it off, in their direction, then we'll stop it by
back-firing at the edge of Brazito canyon."

He talked as rapidly as we moved--and that was good fast Scouts' trot,
for us. The hold on the stirrups and latigos helped a lot. It lifted us
over the ground. We all crossed the flat diagonally and struck into a
draw or valley full of timber and with a creek in it, at right angles to
the flat. Up this we scooted, hard as we could pelt.

"Tired? Want to rest a second?" he asked.

We grunted "No," for we had our second wind and little Jed Smith was
hanging on tight, behind the saddle. Besides, the fire was right ahead,
toward the left, belching up its great rolls of black-and-white smoke.
And at the same time (although we didn't know it) the gang who had
started it were fleeing in one direction, from it, and the general and
Fitzpatrick were loose and fleeing in another direction, and Jim Bridger
was smelling it and with the Red Fox Patrol was drawing near to it and
not knowing, and the beaver man was tying up his leg and about to run
right into it.

But we were to help stop it.

"Here!" spoke the Ranger. "Here's the fire line, this cleared space like
a trail. It runs to those willows a quarter of a mile below. When the
fire comes along this ridge you watch this line and beat out and stamp
out every flame. See? You can do it. It won't travel fast, down-hill;
but if ever it crosses the line and reaches the bottom of the valley
where the brush is thick, there's no knowing where it will stop. It will
burn willows and everything else. One of you drop off here; I'll take
the others further. Then I must make tracks for the front."

We left Kit Carson here. Jed Smith climbed down and was left next, in
the middle, and I was hustled to the upper end.

"So long," said the Ranger. "Don't let it get past you. It won't. Work
hard, and if you're really in danger run for the creek. But Boy Scouts
of America don't run till they have to. You can save lives and a heap of
timber, by licking the fire at this point. I'll see you later." And off
he spurred, through the timber, across the front of the fire.

He wasn't afraid--and so we weren't, either.



CHAPTER XIV

THE CAPTURE OF THE BEAVER MAN


The fire line looked like some old wood-road, where trees had been cut
out and brush cleared away. It extended through the timber, striking the
thin places and the rocky bare places, and the highest places, and wound
on, half a mile, over a point. This point, with a long slope from the
ridge to the valley there, was open and fire-proof. The lower end of the
line was that willow bog, which lay in a basin right in a split of the
timber. Away across from our ridge was another gravelly ridge, and
beyond that was the snowy range. (Note 53.)

The smoke was growing thick and strong, so that we could smell it plain.
The fire was coming right along, making for us. There were the three of
us to cover a half-mile or more of fire line, so we got busy. We divided
the line into three patrols, and set to work tramping down the brush on
the fire side of it and making ready.

Pretty soon wild animals began to pass, routed out by the fire. That was
fun, to watch deer and coyotes and rabbits and other things scoot by,
among the trees, as if they were moving pictures. Once I saw a wolf,
and little Jed Smith called that he had seen a bear. Kit Carson reported
that some of the animals seemed to be heading into the willow bog beyond
his end of the line.

It was kind of nervous work, getting ready and waiting for the fire. It
was worse than actual fighting, and we'd rather meet the fire halfway
than wait for it to come to us. But we were here to wait.

The fire did not arrive all at once, with a jump. Not where I was. A
thin blue smoke, lazy and harmless, drifted through among the trees, and
a crackling sounded louder and louder. Then there were breaths of hot
air, as if a dragon was foraging about. Birds flew over, calling and
excited, and squirrels raced along, and porcupines and skunks, and even
worms and ants crawled and ran, trying to escape the dragon. A wind
blew, and the timber moaned as if hurt and frightened. I felt sorry for
the pines and spruces and cedars. They could not run away, and they were
doomed to be burnt alive.

The birds all had gone, worms and ants and bugs were still hurrying, and
the timber was quiet except for the crackling. Now I glimpsed the dragon
himself. He was digging around, up the slope a little way, extending his
claws further and further like a cat as he explored new ground and
gathered in every morsel.

This is the way the fire came--not roaring and leaping, but sneaking
along the ground and among the bushes, with little advance squads like
dragon's claws or like the scouts of an army, reconnoitering. The
crackling increased, the hot gusts blew oftener, I could see back into
the dragon's great mouth where bushes and trees were flaming and
disappearing--and suddenly he gave a roar and leaped for our fire line,
and ate a bush near it.

Then I leaped for him and struck a paw down with my stick. So we began
to fight.

It wasn't a crown fire, where the flames travel through the tops of the
timber; it traveled along the ground, and climbed the low trees and then
reached for the big ones. But when it came near the fire line, it
stopped and felt about sort of blindly, and that was our chance to jump
on it and stamp it out and beat it out and kill it.

The smoke was awful, and so was the heat, but the wind helped me and
carried most of it past. And now the old dragon was right in front of
me, raging and snapping. The fore part of him must be approaching Jed
Smith, further along the line. I whistled the Scout whistle, loud, and
gave the Scout halloo--and from Jed echoed back the signal to show that
all was well.

This was hot work, for Sunday or any day. The smoke choked and blinded,
and the air fairly scorched. Pine makes a bad blaze. What I had to do
was to run back and forth along the fire line, crushing the dragon's
claws. My shoes felt burned through and my face felt blistered, and
jiminy, how I sweat! But that dragon never got across my part of the
fire line.

The space inside my part was burnt out and smoldering, and I could join
with Jed. There were two of us to lick the fire, here; but the dragon
was raging worse and the two of us were needed. He kept us busy. I
suppose that there was more brush. And when we would follow him down,
and help Kit, he was worse than ever. How he roared!

He was determined to get across and go around that willow bog. Once he
did get across, and we chased him and fought him back with feet and
hands and even rolled on him. A bad wind had sprung up, and we didn't
know but that we were to have a crown fire. The heat would have baked
bread; the cinders were flying and we must watch those, to catch them
when they landed. We had to be everywhere at once--in the smoke and the
cinders and the flames, and if I hadn't been a Scout, stationed with
orders, I for one would have been willing to sit and rest, just for a
minute, and let the blamed fire go. But I didn't, and Kit and Jed
didn't; all of a sudden the dragon quit, and with roar and crackle went
plunging on, along the ridge inside the willow bog. We had held the fire
line--and we didn't know that Jim Bridger and the Red Fox Scouts were
in those willows which we had saved because we had been ordered to!

Then, when just a few little blazes remained to be trampled and beaten
out, but while the timber further in was still aflame, Jed cried:
"Look!" and we saw a man coming, staggering and coughing, down through a
rocky little canyon which cut the black, smoking slope.

He fell, and we rushed to get him.

Blazing branches were falling, all about; the air was two hundred in the
shade; and in that little canyon the rocks seemed red-hot. But the fire
hadn't got into the canyon, much, because it was narrow and bare; and
the man must have been following it and have made it save his life. He
was in bad shape, though. Before we reached him he had stood up and
tumbled several times, trying to feel his way along.

"Wait! We're coming," I called. He heard, and tried to see.

"All right," he answered hoarsely. "Come ahead."

We reached him. Kit Carson and I held him up by putting his arms over
our shoulders, and with Jed walking behind we helped him through the
canyon and out to the fire line. He groaned and grunted. His eyebrows
were crisped and his hair was singed and his shoes were cinders and his
hands and face were scarred, and his eyes were all bloodshot, and he had
holes through his clothes.

"Fire out?" he asked. "I can't see."

"It isn't out, but it's past," said Jed.

"Well, it mighty near got _me_," he groaned. "It corralled me on that
ridge. If I hadn't cached myself in that little canyon, I'd have been
burned to a crisp. It burned my hoss, I reckon. He jerked loose from me
and left me to go it alone with my wounded leg. Water! Ain't there a
creek ahead? Gimme some water."

While he was mumbling we set him down, beyond the fire line. It didn't
seem as though we could get him any further. Kit hustled for water, Jed
skipped to get first-aid stuff from a blanket-roll, and I made an
examination.

His face and hands were blistered--maybe his eyes were scorched--there
was a bloody place wrapped about with a dirty red handkerchief, on the
calf of his left leg. But I couldn't do much until I had scissors or a
sharp knife, and water.

"Who are you kids?" he asked. "Fishin'?" He was lying with his eyes
closed.

"No. We're some Boy Scouts."

He didn't seem to like this. "Great Scott!" he complained. "Ain't there
nobody but Boy Scouts in these mountains?"

Just then Kit came back with a hat of water from a boggy place. It was
muddy water, but it looked wet and good, and the man gulped it down,
except what I used to soak our handkerchiefs in. Kit went for more. Jed
arrived with first-aid stuff, and I set to work, Jed helping.

We let the man wipe his own face, while we cut open his shirt where it
had stuck to the flesh.

"Here!" he said suddenly. "Quit that. What's the matter with you?"

But he was too late. When I got inside his undershirt, there on a
buckskin cord was hanging something that we had seen before. At least,
it either was the message of the Elk Patrol or else a package exactly
like it.

"Is that yours?" I asked.

"Maybe yes, and maybe no. Why?" he growled.

"Because if it isn't, we'd like to know where you got it."

"And if you don't tell, we'll go on and let you be," snapped little Jed.

"Shut up," I ordered--which wasn't the right way, but I said it before I
thought. Jed had made me angry. "No, we won't." And we wouldn't. Our
duty was to fix him the best we could. "But that looks like something
belonging to us Scouts, and it has our private mark on it. We'd like to
have you explain where you got it."

"He's _got_ to explain, too," said little Jed, excited.

"Have I?" grinned the man, hurting his face. "Why so?"

"There are three of us kids. We can keep sight of you till that Ranger
comes back. He'll make you."

"Who?"

"That Forest Ranger. He's a Government officer."

Kit Carson arrived, staring, with more water.

"I know you!" he panted. He signed to us, pointing at the man's feet.
"You were at that other camp!" And Jed and I looked and saw the hole in
the left sole--although both soles were badly burned, now. By that mark
he was the beaver man! He wriggled uneasily as if he had a notion to sit
up.

"Well, if you want it so bad, and it's yours, take it." And in a jiffy I
had cut it loose with my knife. "It's been a hoodoo to me. How did you
know I was at any other camp? Are you those three kids?"

"We saw your tracks," I answered. "What three kids?"

"The three kids those other fellows had corralled."

"No, but we're their partners. We're looking for them."

He'd had another drink of water and his face squinted at us, as we
fussed about him. Kit took off one of the shoes and I the other, to get
at the blistered feet.

"Never saw you before, did I?"

"Maybe not."

"Well, I'll tell you some news. One of your partners got away."

That was good.

"How do you know?" we all three asked.

"I met him, back on the trail, with two new kids."

"Which one was he? What did he look like?"

"A young lad, dressed like you. Carried a bow and arrow."

"Brown eyes and big ears?"

"Brown eyes, I reckon. Didn't notice his ears."

That must have been Jim Bridger.

"Who were the two fellows?"

"More of you Scouts, I reckon. Carried packs on their backs. Dressed in
khaki and leggins, like soldiers."

They weren't any of us Elks, then. But we were tremendously excited.

"When?"

"This noon."

That sure was news. Hurrah for Jim Bridger!

"Did you see a one-armed boy?"

"Saw him in that camp, where the three of 'em were corralled."

"What kind of a crowd had they? Was one wearing a big revolver?"

"Yes. 'Bout as big as he was. They looked like some tough town bunch."

"How many?"

"Eight or ten."

Oho!

"Did you hear anybody called Bill?"

"Yes; also Bat and Mike and Walt and et cetery."

We'd fired these questions at him as fast as we could get them in
edgewise, and now we knew a heap. The signs had told us true. Those two
recruits had joined with the town gang, and our Scouts had been
captured; but escape had been attempted and Jim Bridger had got away.

"How did you get that packet?" asked Kit.

"Found it."

He spoke short as if he was done talking. It seemed that he had told us
the truth, so far; but if we kept questioning him much more he might get
tired or cross, and lie. We might ask foolish questions, too; and
foolish questions are worse than no questions.

We had done a good job on this man, as appeared to us. We had bathed his
face, and had exposed the worst burns on his body and arms and legs and
had covered them with carbolized vaseline and gauze held on with
adhesive plaster, and had cleaned the wound in his leg. It was a
regular hole, but we didn't ask him how he got it. 'Twas in mighty bad
shape, for it hadn't been attended to right and was dirty and swollen.
Cold clear water dripped into it to flush it and clean it and reduce the
inflammation would have been fine, but we didn't have that kind of water
handy; so we sifted some boric powder into it and over it and bound on
it a pad of dry sterilized gauze, but not too tight. I asked him if
there was a bullet or anything else in it, and he said no. He had run
against a stick. This was about all that we could do to it, and play
safe by not poking into it too much. (Note 54.)

He seemed to feel pretty good, now, and sat up.

"Well," he said, "now I've given you boys your message and told you what
I know, and you've fixed me up, so I'll be movin' on. Where are those
things I used to call shoes?"

We exchanged glances. He was the beaver man.

"We aren't through yet," I said.

"Oh, I reckon you are," he answered. "I'm much obliged. Pass me the
shoes, will you?"

"No; wait," said Kit Carson.

"What for?" He was beginning to growl.

"Till you're all fixed."

"I'm fixed enough."

"We'll dress some of those wounds over again."

"No, you won't. Pass me those shoes."

They were hidden behind a tree.

"Can't you wait a little?"

"No, I can't wait a little." He was growling in earnest. "Will you pass
me those shoes?"

"No, we won't," announced Kit. He was getting angry, too.

"You pass me those shoes or something is liable to happen to you mighty
sudden. I'll break you in two."

"I'll get the rifle," said Jed, and started; but I called him back. We
didn't need a rifle.

"He can't do anything in bare feet like that," I said. And he couldn't.
His feet were too soft and burned. That is why we kept the shoes, of
course.

"I can't, eh?"

"No. We aren't afraid."

He started to stand, and then he sat back again.

"I'll put a hole in some of you," he muttered; and felt at the side of
his chest. But if he had carried a gun in a Texas holster there, it was
gone. "Say, you, what's the matter with you?" he queried. "What do you
want to keep me here for?"

"You'd better wait. We'll stay, too."

He glared at us. Then he began to wheedle.

"Say, what'd I ever do to you? Didn't I give you back that message, and
tell you all I knew? Didn't I help you out as much as I could?"

"Sure," we said.

"Then what have you got it in for me for?"

"We'd rather you'd wait till the Ranger or somebody comes along," I
explained.

He fumbled in a pants pocket.

"Lookee here," he offered. And he held it out. "Here's a twenty-dollar
gold piece. Take it and divvy it among you; and I'll go along and
nobody'll be the wiser."

"No, thanks," we said.

"I'll make it twenty apiece for each," he insisted. "Here they are. See?
Give me those shoes, and take these yellow bucks and go and have a good
time."

But we shook our heads, and had to laugh. He couldn't bluff us Scouts,
and he couldn't bribe us, either. He twisted and stood up, and we jumped
away, and Kit was ready to grab up the shoes and carry them across into
the burned timber where the ground was still hot.

The man swore and threatened frightfully.

"I'd like to get my fingers on one of you, once," he stormed. "You'd
sing a different tune."

So we would. But we had the advantage now and we didn't propose to lose
it. He couldn't travel far in bare, blistered feet. I wished that he'd
sit down again. We didn't want to torment him or nag him, just because
we had him. He did sit down.

"What do you think I am, anyhow?" he asked.

"Well, you've been killing beaver," I told him.

"Who said so?"

"We saw you at the beaver-pond, when we were camping opposite. And just
after you left the game warden came along, looking for you."

"You saw some other man."

"No, we didn't. We know your tracks. And if you aren't the man, then
you'll be let go."

"You kids make me tired," he grumbled, and tried to laugh it off.
"Supposin' a man does trap a beaver or two. They're made to be trapped.
They have to be trapped or else they dam up streams and overflow good
land. Nobody misses a few beaver, anyhow, in the timber. This is a free
land, ain't it?"

"Killing beaver is against the law, just the same," said Jed.

"You kids didn't make the law, did you? You aren't judge of the law, are
you?"

"No," I said. "But we know what it is and we don't think it ought to be
broken. If people go ahead breaking the game laws, then there won't be
any game left for the people who keep the laws to see or hunt. And the
less game there is, the more laws there'll be." I knew that by heart. It
was what Scouts are taught.

This sounded like preaching. But it was true. And while he was fuming
and growling and figuring on what to do, we were mighty glad to hear a
horse's hoofs. The Ranger came galloping down the fire line.

"Hello," he said. He was streaked with ashes and soot and sweat, and so
was his horse, and they both looked worn to a frazzle. "Well, we've
licked the fire. Who's that? Somebody hurt?" Then he gave another quick
look. "Why, how are you, Jack? You must have run against something
unexpected."

The beaver man only growled, as if mad and disgusted.

I saluted.

"We have held the fire line, sir," I reported.

"You bet!" answered the Ranger. "You did well. And now you're holding
Jack, are you? You needn't explain. I know all about him. Since that
fire drove him out along with other animals, we'll hang on to him. The
game warden spoke to me about him a long time ago."

"You fellows think you're mighty smart. Do I get my shoes, or not?"
growled the beaver man.

"Not," answered the Ranger, cheerfully. "We'll wrap your feet up with a
few handkerchiefs and let you ride this horse." He got down. "What's the
matter? Burns? Bad leg? Say! These kids are some class on first-aid,
aren't they! You're lucky. Did you thank them? Now you can ride nicely
and the game warden will sure be glad to see you." Then he spoke to us.
"I'm going over to my cabin, boys, where there's a telephone. Better
come along and spend the night."

We hustled for our blanket-rolls. The beaver man gruntingly climbed
aboard the Ranger's horse, and we all set out. The Ranger led the horse,
and carried his rifle.

"Is the fire out?" asked Kit Carson.

"Not out, but it's under control. It'll burn itself out, where it's
confined. I've left a squad to guard it and I'll telephone in to
headquarters and report. But if it had got across this fire line and
around those willows, we'd have been fighting it for a week."

"How did it start?"

"Somebody's camp-fire."

The trail we were making led through the timber and on, across a little
creek and up the opposite slope. The sun was just setting as we came out
beyond the timber, and made diagonally up a bare ridge. On top it looked
like one end of that plateau we had crossed when we were trailing the
gang and we had first seen the fire.

The Ranger had come up here because traveling was better and he could
take a good look around. We halted, puffing, while he looked. Off to the
west was the snowy range, and old Pilot Peak again, with the sun setting
right beside him, in a crack. The range didn't seem far, but it seemed
cold and bleak--and over it we were bound. Only, although now we had the
message, we didn't have the other Scouts. If they were burned--oh,
jiminy!

"Great Cæsar! More smoke!" groaned the Ranger. "If that's another fire
started--!"

His words made us jump and gaze about. Yes, there was smoke, plenty of
it, over where the forest fire we had fought was still alive. But he was
looking in another direction, down along the top of the plateau.

"See it?" he asked.

Yes, we saw it. But--! And then our hearts gave a great leap.

"That's not a forest fire!" we cried. "That's a smoke signal!"

"A what?"

"A smoke signal! And--"

"Wait a second. We'll read it, if we can. Scouts must be over there," I
exclaimed.

"More Scouts!" grunted the beaver man. "These here hills are plumb full
of 'em."

The air was quiet, and the smoke rose straight up, with the sun tinting
the top. It was a pretty sight, to us. Then we saw two puffs and a
pause, and two puffs and a pause, and two puffs and a pause. It was our
private Elk Patrol code, and it was beautiful. We cheered.

"It's from our partners, and it says 'Come to council,'" I reported.
"They're hunting for us. We'll have to go over there."

"Think they're in trouble?"

"They don't say so, but we ought to signal back and go right over."

"I'll go, too, for luck, and see you through, then," said the Ranger.

"Do I have to make that extra ride?" complained the beaver man, angry
again.

"Sure," answered the Ranger. "That's only a mile or so and then it's
only a few more miles to the cabin, and we aren't afraid of the dark."

They watched us curiously while we hustled and scraped a pile of dead
sage and grass and rubbish, and set it to smoking and made the Elks' "O.
K." signal. The other Scouts must have been sweeping the horizon and
hoping, for back came the "O. K." signal from them.

And traveling our fastest, with the beaver man grumbling, we all headed
across the plateau for the place of the smoke. Sunday was turning out
good, after all.

[Illustration: "IT WAS OUR PRIVATE ELK PATROL CODE."]



CHAPTER XV

GENERAL ASHLEY DROPS OUT

(JIM BRIDGER RESUMES THE TALE)


I tell you, we were glad to have that smoke of ours answered, and to see
Major Henry and Kit Carson and Jed Smith coming, in the twilight, with
the Ranger and the beaver man. We guessed that the three boys must be
our three partners--and when they waved with the Elk Patrol sign we
knew; but of course we didn't know who the two strangers were.

While they were approaching, Major Henry wigwagged: "All there?" with
his cap; and Fitzpatrick wigwagged back: "Sure!" They arrived opposite
us, and then headed by the man with the rifle, who was leading the
horse, they obliqued up along the gulch as if they knew of a crossing;
so we decided that one of the strangers must be acquainted with the
country. They made a fine sight, against the horizon.

Pretty soon into the gulch they plunged, and after a few minutes out
they scrambled, man and horse first, on our side, and came back toward
us. And in a minute more we Elk Scouts were dancing and hugging each
other, and calling each other by our regular ordinary names, "Fat" and
"Sliver" and "Red" and all, and discipline didn't cut much figure. That
was a joyful reunion. The Ranger and his prisoner, the beaver man,
looked on.

Then when Major Henry hauled out the message packet, and saluting and
grinning passed it to the general, our cup was full. I was as glad as if
I had passed it, myself. "One for all, and all for one," is the way we
Scouts work.

"If you hadn't trailed him (the beaver man) and headed him and fixed him
so he couldn't travel fast, he'd have got away from the fire and
wouldn't have run into _us_," claimed Major Henry.

"And if you fellows hadn't held that fire line you wouldn't have seen
him and we might have been burnt or suffocated in the willows," I
claimed back.

So what seems a failure or a bother, when you're trying your best, often
is the most important thing of all, or helps make the chain complete.

But now we didn't take much time to explain to each other or to swap
yarns; for the twilight was gone and the dark was closing in, and we
weren't in the best of shape. The burro Apache was packed with bedding,
mostly, which was a good thing, of course; the Red Fox Scouts had their
outfit; but we Elks were short on grub. That piece of bacon and just
the little other stuff carried by the Major Henry party were our
provisions. Fitz and the poor general were making a hungry camp, when we
had discovered them. And then there was the general, laid up.

"What's the matter with you, kid?" queried the Ranger.

"Sprained ankle, I think."

"That's sure bad," sympathized the Ranger.

And it sure was.

"Boys, I'll have to be traveling for that cabin of mine, to report about
the fire and this man," said the Ranger, after listening to our talk for
a minute. "If you're grub-shy, some of you had better come along and
I'll send back enough to help you out."

That was mighty nice of him. And the general spoke up, weakly. "How far
is the cabin, please?"

"About three miles, straight across."

"If I could make it, could I stay there a little while?"

"Stay a year, if you want to. We'll pack you over, if you'll go. Can you
ride?"

"All right," said the general. "I'll do it. Now, you fellows, listen.
Major Henry, I turn the command and the message over to you. I'm no
good; I can't travel and we've spent a lot of time already, and I'd be
only a drag. So I'll drop out and go over to that cabin, and you other
Scouts take the message."

Oh, we didn't want to do that! Leave the general? Never!

"No, sir, we'll take you along if we have to carry you on our backs," we
said; and we started in, all to talk at once. But he made us quit.

"Say, do I have to sit here all night while you chew the rag?" grumbled
the beaver man. But we didn't pay attention to _him_.

"It doesn't matter about me, whether I go or not, as long as we get that
message through," answered the general, to us. "I can't travel, and I'd
only hold you back and delay things. I'll quit, and the rest of you
hustle and make up for lost time."

"I'll stay with you. This is Scout custom: two by two," spoke up little
Jed Smith. He was the general's mate.

"Nobody stays with me. You all go right on under Corporal Henry."

"It'll be plumb dark before we get to that cabin," grumbled the beaver
man. "This ain't any way to treat a fellow who's been stuck and then
burnt. I'm tired o' sittin' on this hoss with my toes out."

"Well, you can get off and let this other man ride. I'll hobble you and
he can lead you," said the Ranger.

"What's the matter with the burro?" growled the beaver man. He wasn't
so anxious to walk, after all.

Sure! We knew that the Ranger was waiting, so while some of us led up
Apache, others bandaged the general's ankle tighter, to make it ride
easier and not hurt so much if it dangled. Then we lifted the general,
Scout fashion, on our hands, and set him on Apache.

Now something else happened. Red Fox Scout Ward stepped forward and took
the lead rope.

"I'm going," he announced quietly. "I'm feeling fine and you other
fellows are tired. Somebody must bring the burro back, and the general
may need a hand."

"No, I won't," corrected the general.

"But the burro must come back."

"It's up to us Elk Scouts to do that," protested Major Henry. "Some of
us will go. You stay. It's dark."

"No, sir. You Elk men have been traveling on short rations and Van Sant
and I have been fed up. It's either Van or I, and I'll go." And he did.
He was bound to. But it was a long extra tramp.

We shook hands with the general, and gave him the Scouts' cheer; and a
cheer for the Ranger.

"Ain't we ever goin' to move on?" grumbled the beaver man.

"I may stay all night and be back early in the morning," called Ward.

"Of course."

They trailed away, in the dimness--the Ranger ahead leading the beaver
man, Red Fox Scout Ward leading Apache. And we were sorry to see them
go. We should miss the plucky Ashley, our captain.



CHAPTER XVI

A BURRO IN BED


When I woke in the morning Fitz was already up, building the fire,
according to routine, and Red Fox Scout Van Sant was helping him. So I
rolled out at once, and here came Red Fox Scout Ward with the burro,
across the mesa, for the camp.

He brought a little flour and a few potatoes and a big hunk of meat, and
a fry-pan. He brought a map of the country, too, that he had sketched
from information from the Ranger. That crack beside Pilot Peak, where
the sun had set, was a pass through, which we could take for Green
Valley. It was a pass used by the Indians and buffalo, once, and an old
Indian trail crossed it still. The general sent word that if we took
that trail, he would get the goods we had left cached.

"Now," reported Major Henry, when we had filled for a long day's march,
"I'll put it to vote. We can either find that cache ourselves, and take
the trail from there, as first planned, or we can head straight across
the mountain. It's a short cut for the other side of the range, but it
may be rough traveling. The other way, beyond the cache, looked pretty
rough, too. But we'd have our traps and supplies,--as much as we could
pack on Apache, anyhow."

"I vote we go straight ahead, over the mountain, this way," said Fitz.
"We'll get through. We've got to. We've been out seven days, and we
aren't over, yet."

We counted. That was so. Whew! We must hurry. Kit and Jed and I voted
with Fitz.

"All right. Break camp," ordered Major Henry.

He didn't have to speak twice.

"That Ranger says we can strike the railroad, over on the other side,
Van, and make our connections there," said Red Fox Scout Ward to his
partner. "Let's go with the Elks and see them through that far."

That was great. They had come off their trail a long way already,
helping me, it seemed to us--but if they wanted to keep us company
further, hurrah! Only, we wouldn't sponge off of them, just because they
had the better outfit, now.

We policed the camp, and put out the fire, through force of habit, and
with the burro packed with the squaw hitch (Note 55), and the Red
Foxes packed, forth we started, as the sun was rising, to follow the Ute
trail, over Pilot Peak. The Red Fox Scouts carried their own stuff; they
wouldn't let us put any of it on Apache, for they were independent, too.

Travel wasn't hard. After we crossed the gorge the top of the mesa or
plateau was flat and gravelly, with some sage and grass, and we made
good time. We missed the general, and we were sorry to leave that cache,
but we had cut loose and were taking the message on once more. Thus we
began our second week out.

The forest fire was about done. Just a little smoke drifted up, in the
distance behind and below. But from our march we could see where the
fire had passed through the timber, yonder across; and that blackened
swath was a melancholy sight. We didn't stop for nooning, and when we
made an early camp the crack had opened out, and was a pass, sure
enough.

Red Fox Scout Van Sant and I were detailed to take the two rifles and
hunt for rabbits. We got three--two cottontails and a jack--among the
willows where a stream flowed down from the pass. The stream was
swarming here with little trout, and Jed Smith and Kit Carson caught
twenty-four in an hour. So we lived high again.

Those Red Fox Scouts had a fine outfit. They had a water-proof silk
tent, with jointed poles. It folded to pocket size, and didn't weigh
anything at all; but when set up it was large enough for them both to
sleep in. Then they had a double sleeping bag, and blankets that were
light and warm both, and a lot of condensed foods and that little
alcohol stove, and a complete kit of aluminum cooking and eating ware
that closed together--and everything went into those two packs.

They used the packs instead of burros or pack-horses. I believe that
animals are better in the mountains where a fellow climbs at ten and
twelve thousand feet, and where the nights are cold so he needs more
bedding than lower down. Man-packs are all right in the flat timber and
in the hills out East, I suppose. But all styles have their good points,
maybe; and a Scout must adapt himself to the country. We all can't be
the same.

Because the Red Fox Scouts were Easterners, clear from New Jersey, and
we were Westerners, of Colorado, we sort of eyed them sideways, at
first. They had such a swell outfit, you know, and their uniform was
smack to the minute, while ours was rough and ready. They set up their
tent, and we let them--but our way was to sleep out, under tarps (when
we had tarps), in the open. We didn't know but what, on the march, they
might want to keep their own mess--they had so many things that we
didn't. But right away a good thing happened again.

"How did Fitzpatrick lose his arm?" asked Scout Van Sant of me, when we
were out hunting and Fitz couldn't hear.

"In the April Day mine," I said.

"Where?"

"Back home."

He studied. "I _thought_ the name of that town sounded awfully familiar
to me," he said.

When we came into camp with our rabbits, he went straight up to Fitz.

"I hear you hurt your arm in the April Day mine," he said.

"Yes. I was working there," answered Fitz. "Why?"

Van Sant stuck out his hand. "Shake," he said. "My father owns that
mine--or most of it. Ever hear of him?"

"No," said Fitz, flushing. "I'm just a mucker and a sorter. My father's
a miner."

"Well, shake," laughed Van Sant. "I never even mucked or sorted, and you
know more than I do about it. My father just owns--and if it wasn't for
the workers like you and your father, the mine wouldn't be worth owning.
See? I'm mighty sorry you got hurt there, though."

Fitz shook hands. "It was partly my own fault," he said. "I took a
chance. That was before your father bought the mine, anyway."

Then he went to cooking and we cleaned our game. But from that time on
we knew the Red Fox Scouts to be all right, and their being from the
East made no difference in them. So we and they used each other's
things, and we all mixed in together and were one party.

We had a good camp and a big rest, this night: the first time of real
peace since a long while back, it seemed to me. The next morning we
pushed on, following up along the creek, and a faint trail, for the
pass.

This day's march was a hard climb, every hour, and it took our wind,
afoot. But by evening old Pilot Peak wasn't far at all. His snow patches
were getting larger. When we camped in a little park we must have been
up about eleven thousand feet, and the breeze from the Divide ahead of
us blew cool.

The march now led through aspens and pines and wild flowers, with the
stream singing, and forming little waterfalls and pools and rapids, and
full of those native trout about as large as your two fingers. There was
the old Indian trail, to guide us. It didn't have a track except
deer-tracks, and we might have been the only white persons ever here.
That was fine. Another sign was the amount of game. Of course, some of
the game may have been driven here by the forest fire. But we saw lots
of grouse, which sat as we passed by, and rabbits and porcupines, and
out of the aspens we jumped deer.

We arrived where the pretty little stream, full of songs and pictures
and trout, came tumbling out of a canyon with bottom space for just it
alone. The old Indian trail obliqued off, up a slope, through the timber
on the right, and so did we.

It was very quiet, here. The lumber folks had not got in with their saws
and axes, and the trees were great spruces, so high and stately that we
felt like ants. Among the shaded, nice-smelling aisles the old trail
wound. Sometimes it was so covered with the fallen needles that we could
not see it; and it had been blazed, years ago, by trappers or somebody,
and where it crossed glades we came upon it again. It was an easy trail.

We reached the top of a little ridge, and before us we saw the pass.
'Twas a wide, open pass, with snow-banks showing on it, and the sun
swinging down to set behind it.

The trail forked, one branch making for the pass, the other making for
the right, where Pilot Peak loomed close at hand. There was some reason
why the trail forked, and as we surveyed we caught the glint of a lake,
over there.

Major Henry examined the sketch map. "That must be Medicine Lake," he
said. "I think we'd better go over there and camp, instead of trying the
pass. We're sure of wood and water, and it won't be so windy."

The trail took us safely to the brow of a little basin, and looking down
we saw the lake. It was lying at the base of Pilot Peak. Above it on one
side rose a steep slope of a gray slide-rock, like a railway cut, only
of course no railroad was around here; and all about, on the other
sides, were pointed pines.

I tell you, that was beautiful. And when we got to the lake we found it
to be black as ink--only upon looking into it you could see down, as if
you were looking through smoky crystal. The water was icy cold, and full
of specks dancing where the sun struck, and must have been terrifically
deep.

We camped beside an old log cabin, all in ruins. It was partly roofed
over with sod, but we spread our beds outside; these old cabins are
great places for pack-rats and skunks and other animals like those. Fish
were jumping in the lake, and the two Red Fox Scouts and I were detailed
to catch some. The Red Fox Scouts tried flies, but the water was as
smooth as glass, and you can't fool these mountain lake-trout, very
often, that way. Then we put on spinners and trolled from the shores by
casting. We could see the fish, gliding sluggishly about,--great big
fellows; but they never noticed our hooks, and we didn't have a single
strike. So we must quit, disgusted.

The night was grand. The moon was full, and came floating up over the
dark timber which we had left, to shine on us and on the black lake and
on the mountain. Resting there in our blankets, we Elk Scouts could see
all about us. The lake lay silent and glassy, except when now and then a
big old trout plashed. The slide-rock bank gleamed white, and above it
stretched the long rocky slope of Pilot, with the moon casting lights
and shadows clear to its top.

This was a mighty lonely spot, up here, by the queer lake, with timber
on one side and the mountain on the other; the air was frosty, because
ice would form any night, so high; not a sound could be heard, save the
plash of trout, or the sighs of Apache as he fidgeted and dozed and
grazed; but the Red Fox Scouts were snug under their tent, and under our
bedding we Elks were cuddled warm, in two pairs and with Major Henry
sleeping single.

We did not need to hobble or picket Apache. (Note 56.) He had come so
far that he followed like a dog and stayed around us like a dog. When
you get a burro out into the timber or desert wilds and have cut him
loose from his regular stamping ground, then he won't be separated from
you. He's afraid. Burros are awfully funny animals. They like company.
So when we camped we just turned Apache out, and he hung about pretty
close, expecting scraps of bread and stuff and enjoying our
conversation.

To-night he kept snorting and fussing, and edging in on us, and before
we went to sleep we had to throw sticks at him and shoo him off. It
seemed too lonesome for him, up here. Then we dropped to sleep, under
the moon--and then, the first thing Fitz and I knew, Apache was trying
to crawl into bed with us!

That waked us. Nobody can sleep with a burro under the same blanket.
Apache was right astraddle of us and was shaking like an aspen leaf; his
long ears were pricked, he was glaring about, and how he snorted! I sat
up; so did Fitz. We were afraid that Apache might step on our faces.

"Get out, Apache!" we begged. But he wouldn't "get." He didn't budge,
and we had to push him aside, with our hands against his stomach.

Now the whole camp was astir, grumbling and turning. Apache ran and
tried to bunk with Kit and Jed. "Get out!" scolded Kit; and repulsed
here, poor Apache stuck his nose in between the flaps of the silk tent
and began to shove inside.

Something crackled amidst the brush along the lake, and there sounded a
snort from that direction, also. It was a peculiar snort. It was a
grunty, blowy snort. And beside me Fitz stiffened and lifted his head
further.

"Bear!" he whispered.

"Whoof!" it answered.

"Bear! Look out! There's a bear around!" said the camp, from bed to bed.

Down came the silk tent on top of Apache, and out from under wriggled
the Red Fox Scouts, as fast as they could move. Their hair was rumpled
up, they were pale in the moonlight, and Van Sant had his twenty-two
rifle ready. That must have startled them, to be waked by a big thing
like Apache forcing a way into their tent.

"Who said bear? Where is it?" demanded Van Sant.

"Don't shoot!" ordered Major Henry, sharply, sitting up. "Don't anybody
shoot. That will make things worse. Tumble out, everybody, and raise a
noise. Give a yell. We can scare him."

"I see it!" cried Ward. "Look! In that clear spot yonder--up along the
lake, about thirty yards."

Right! A blackish thing as big as a cow was standing out in the
moonlight, facing us, its head high. We could almost see its nostrils as
it sniffed.

Up we sprang, and whooped and shouted and waved and threw sticks and
stones into the brush. With another tremendous "Whoof!" the bear
wheeled, and went crashing through the brush as if it had a tin can tied
to its tail. We all cheered and laughed.

"Jiminy! I ought to have tried a flashlight of it," exclaimed Fitz,
excited. "If we see another bear I'm sure going to get its picture. I
need some bear pictures. Don't let's be in such a hurry, next time."

"That depends on the bear," said little Jed Smith. "Sometimes you can't
help being in a hurry, with a bear."

"Guess we'd better dig the burro out of our tent," remarked Scout Ward.
"He smelled that bear, didn't he?"

He certainly did. If there's one thing a burro is afraid of, it's a
bear. No wonder poor Apache tried to crawl in with us. We hauled him
loose of the tent, and helped the Red Fox Scouts set the tent up again.
Apache snorted and stared about; and finally he quieted a little and
went to browsing, close by, and we Scouts turned in to sleep again.

When I woke the next time it was morning and the bear had not come back,
for Apache was standing fast asleep in the first rays of the sun, at the
edge of the camp.

We could catch no fish for breakfast. They paid no attention to any
bait. So we had the last of the meat, and some condensed sausage that
the Red Fox Scouts contributed to the pot. During breakfast we held a
council; old Pilot Peak stuck up so near and inviting.

"I've been thinking, boys, that maybe we ought to climb Pilot, for a
record, now we've got a good chance," proposed Major Henry. "What do you
say. Shall we vote on it?"

"How high is it?" asked Red Fox Scout Ward.

Major Henry looked at the map of the state. "Fourteen thousand, two
hundred and ten feet."

"Whew!" Scout Ward eyed it. "We'd certainly like to make it. That would
be a chance for an honor, eh, Van?"

"You bet," agreed Van Sant.

"He's sure some mountain," we said.

"We haven't any time to spare from the trail," went on Major Henry, "and
it would kill a day, to the top and back. So we ought to double up by
traveling by night, some. But that wouldn't hurt any; it would be fun,
by moonlight. Now, if you're ready, all who vote to take the Red Fox
Scouts and climb old Pilot Peak for a record hold up their right hands."

"We won't vote. Don't make the climb on our account," cried the Red Fox
Scouts.

"Let's do it. I've never been fourteen thousand feet, myself," declared
Fitz.

And we all held up our right hands.

"Bueno," quoth Major Henry. "Then we go. We'll climb Pilot and put in
extra time on the trail. Cache the stuff, police the camp, put out the
fire, take what grub we can in our pockets, and the sooner we start the
better."

Maybe we ought not to have done this. Our business was the message. We
weren't out for fun or for honors. We were out to carry that message
through in the shortest time possible. The climb was not necessary--and
I for one had a sneaking hunch that we were making a mistake. But I had
voted yes, and so had we all. If anybody had felt dubious, he ought to
have voted no.

In the next chapter you will read what we got, by fooling with a side
issue.



CHAPTER XVII

VAN SANT'S LAST CARTRIDGE


The way to climb a mountain is not to tackle it by the short, steep way,
but to go up by zigzags, through little gulches and passes. You arrive
about as quick and you arrive easier.

Now from camp we eyed Old Pilot, calculating. Major Henry pointed.

"We'll follow up that draw, first," he said. "Then we can cross over to
that ledge, and wind around and hit the long stretch, where the snow
patches are. After that, I believe, we can go right on up."

We had just rounded the lower end of the lake, and were obliquing off
and up for the draw, when we heard a funny bawly screech behind us, and
a clattering, and along at a gallop came Apache, much excited, and at a
trot joined our rear. He did not propose to be left alone! We were glad
enough to have him, if he wanted to make the climb, too. He followed us
all the way, eating things, and gained a Scout mountain honor.

We were traveling light, of course. Fitz had his camera slung over his
shoulder, Red Fox Scout Van Sant had his twenty-two rifle, because we
thought we might run into some grouse, and the law on grouse was out at
last and we needed meat. Nobody bothered with staffs. They're no good
when you must use hands and knees all at once, as you do on some of the
Rocky Mountains. They're a bother.

We struck into the draw. It was shallow and bushy, with sarvice-berries
and squaw-berries and gooseberries; but we didn't stop to eat. We let
Apache do the eating. Our thought was to reach the very tip-top of
Pilot.

The sun shone hot, making us sweat as we followed up through the draw,
in single file, Major Henry leading, Fitz next, then the Red Fox Scouts,
and we three others strung out behind, with Apache closing the rear. The
draw brought us out, as we had planned, opposite the ledge, and we swung
off to this.

Now we were up quite high. We halted to take breath and puff. The ledge
was broad and flat and grassy, with rimrock behind it; and from it we
could look down upon the lake, far below, and the place of our camp, and
the big timber through which we had trailed, and away in the distance
was the mesa or plateau that we had crossed after the forest fire. We
were above timber-line, and all around us were only sunshine and
bareness, and warmth and nice clean smells.

"Whew!" sighed Red Fox Scout Ward. "It's fine, fellows."

That was enough. We knew how he felt. We felt the same.

But of course we weren't at the top, not by any means. Major Henry
started again, on the upward trail. We followed along the ledge around
the rimrock until we came to a little pass through. That brought us into
a regular maze of big rocks, lying as if a chunk as big as a city block
had dropped and smashed, scattering pieces all about. This spot didn't
show from below. That is the way with mountains. They look smooth, but
when you get up close they break out into hills and holes and rocks and
all kinds of unexpected places, worse than measles.

But among these jagged chunks we threaded, back and forth, always trying
to push ahead, until suddenly Red Fox Scout Ward called, "I'm out!" and
we went to him. So he was.

That long, bare slope lay beyond, blotched with snow. The snow had not
seemed much, from below; but now it was in large patches, with drifts so
hard that we could walk on them. One drift was forty feet thick; it was
lodged against a brow, and down its face was trickling black water,
streaking it. This snow-bank away up here was the beginning of a river,
and helped make the lake.

We had spread out, with Apache still behind. Suddenly little Jed
called. "See the chickens?" he said.

We went over. Chirps were to be heard, and there among the drifts, on
the gravelly slope, were running and pecking and squatting a lot of
birds about like gray speckled Brahmas. They were as tame as speckled
Brahmas, too. They had red eyes and whitish tails.

"Ptarmigan!" exclaimed Fitz, and he began to take pictures. He got some
first-class ones.

Red Fox Scout Van Sant never made a move to shoot any of them. They were
so tame and barn-yardy. We were glad enough to let them live, away up
here among the snowdrifts, where they seemed to like to be. It was their
country, not ours--and they were plucky, to choose it. So we passed on.

The slope brought us up to a wide moraine, I guess you'd call it, where
great bowlders were heaped as thick as pebbles--bowlders and blocks as
large as cottages. These had not looked to be much, either, from below.

On the edge of them we halted, to look down and behind again. Now we
were much higher. The ledge was small and far, and the timber was small
and farther, and the world was beginning to lie flat like a map. On the
level with us were only a few other peaks, in the snowy Medicine Range.
The pass itself was so low that we could scarcely make it out.

To cross that bowlder moraine was a terrific job. We climbed and
sprawled, and were now up, now down. It was a go-as-you-please.
Everywhere among the bowlders were whistling rock-rabbits, or conies.
They were about the size of small guinea-pigs, and had short tails and
round, flat bat ears plastered close to their heads. They had their
mouths crammed full of dried grass, which they carried into their nests
through crannies--putting away hay for the winter! It was mighty
cheerful to have them so busy and greeting us, away up in these lonely
heights, and Fitz got some more good animal pictures.

Apache was in great distress. He couldn't navigate those bowlders. We
could hear him "hee-hawing" on the lower edge, and could see him staring
after us and racing frantically back and forth. But we must go on; we
would pick him up on our way down.

Well, we got over the bowlder field--Fitz as spryly as any of us. Having
only one good arm made no difference to him, and he never would accept
help. He was independent, and we only kept an eye on him and let him
alone. The bowlders petered out; and now ahead was another slope, with
more snow patches, and short dead grass in little bunches; and it ended
in a bare outcrop: the top!

Our feet weighed twenty-five pounds each, our knees were wobbly, we
could hear each other pant, and my heart thumped so that the beats all
ran together. But with a cheer we toiled hard for the summit, before
resting. We didn't race--not at fourteen thousand feet; we weren't so
foolish--and I don't know who reached it first. Anyway, soon we all were
there.

We had climbed old Pilot Peak! The top was flat and warm and dry, so we
could sit. The sky was close above; around about was nothing but the
clear air. East, west, north and south, below us, were hills and valleys
and timber and parks and streams, with the cloud-shadows drifting
across. We didn't say one word. The right words didn't exist, somehow,
and what was the use in exclaiming when we all felt alike, and could
look and see for ourselves? You don't seem to amount to much when you
are up, like this, on a mountain, near the sky, with the world spread
out below and not missing you; and a boy's voice, or a man's, is about
the size of a cricket's chirp. The silence is one of the best things you
find. So we sat and looked and thought.

But on a sudden we did hear a noise--a rattling and "Hee-haw!" And here,
from a different side, came Apache again. He had got past those
bowlders, somehow. With another "Hee-haw!" he trotted right up on top,
in amidst us, where he stood, with a big sigh, looking around, too.

This was the chance for us to map out the country ahead, on the other
side of the pass. So we took a good long survey. It was a rough country,
as bad as that which we had left; with much timber and many hills and
valleys. Down in some of the valleys were yellow patches, like hay
ranches, and forty or fifty miles away seemed to be a little haze of
smoke, which must be a town: Green Valley, where we were bound! Hurrah!
But we hadn't got there, yet.

Major Henry made a rough sketch of the country, with Pilot Peak as base
point and a jagged, reddish tip, over toward the smoke, as another
landmark. Our course ought to be due west from Pilot, keeping to the
south of that reddish tip.

We had a little lunch, and after cleaning up after ourselves we saluted
the old peak with the Scouts' cheer, saying good-by to it; and then we
started down. We discovered that we could go around the bowlder-field,
as Apache had done. When we struck the snow-patch slope we obliqued over
to our trail up, and began to back track. Back-tracking was the safe
way, because we knew that this would bring us out. Down we went, with
long steps, almost flying, and leaving behind us the busy conies and the
tame ptarmigans, to inhabit the peak until we should come again. We
even tried not to tramp on the flowers. (Note 57.)

Through the maze of rock masses we threaded, and along the grassy ledge,
and entered the bush draw. By the sun it was noon, but we had plenty of
time, and we spread out in the draw, taking things easy and picking
berries. We didn't know but what we might come upon some grouse, in
here, too, for the trickle from that snow-bank drained through and there
was a bunch of aspens toward the bottom. But instead we came upon a
bear!

I heard Red Fox Scout Ward call, sharp and excited: "Look out, fellows!
Here's another bear!"

That stopped us short.

"Where?"

"Right in front of me! He's eating berries. And I see another,
too--sitting, looking at me."

"Wait!" called back Fitz, excited. "Let 'em alone. I'll get a picture."

That was just like Fitzpatrick. He wanted to take pictures of everything
alive.

"Yes; let 'em alone," warned Major Henry, shouting.

For that's all a bear in a berry-patch asks; to be let alone. He's
satisfied with the berries. In fact, all a bear asks, anyway, is to be
let alone, and up here on the mountain these bears weren't doing any
harm.

"Where are you?" called Fitz.

"On this rock."

Now we could see Scout Ward, with hand up; and over hustled Fitz, and
over we all hustled, from different directions.

They were not large bears. They looked like the little brown or black
bears, it was hard to tell which; but the small kind isn't dangerous.
They were across on the edge of a clearing, and were stripping the
bushes. Once in a while they would sit up and eye us, while slobbering
down the berries; then they would go to eating again.

Fitz had his camera unslung and taken down. He walked right out, toward
them, and snapped, but it wouldn't be a very good picture. They were too
far to show up plainly.

"I'll sneak around behind and drive them out," volunteered little Jed
Smith; and without waiting for orders he and Kit started, and we all
except Fitz spread out to help in the surround. Fitz made ready to take
them on the run. Nobody is afraid of the little brown or black bear.

Jed and Kit were just entering the bushes to make the circuit on their
side, when we heard Apache snorting and galloping, and a roar and a
"Whoof!" and out from the brush over there burst the burro, with another
bear chasing him. This was no little bear. It was a great big bear--an
old she cinnamon, and these others weren't the small brown or black
bears, either: they were half-grown cinnamon cubs!

How she came! Kit Carson and Jed Smith were right in her path.

"Look out!" we yelled.

Kit and little Jed leaped to dodge. She struck like a cat as she passed,
and head over heels went poor little Jed, sprawling in the brush, and
she passed on, straight to her cubs. They met her, and she smelled them
for a moment. She lifted her broad, short head, and snarled.

"Don't do a thing," ordered Major Henry. "She'll leave."

So we stood stock-still. That was all we _could_ do. We knew that poor
little Jed was lying perhaps badly wounded, off there in the brush, but
it wouldn't help to call the old bear's attention to him again. In the
open place Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand stood; he was right in front of the
old bear, and he was _taking pictures_!

The old bear saw him, and he and the camera seemed to make her mad.
Maybe she took it for a weapon. She lowered her head, swung it to and
fro, her bristles rose still higher, and across the open space she
started.

"Fitz!" we shrieked. And I said to myself, sort of crying: "Oh, jiminy!"

We all set up a tremendous yell, but that didn't turn her. Major Henry
jumped forward, and tugged to pull loose a stone. I looked for a stone
to throw. Of course I couldn't find one. Then out of the corner of my
eye, while I was watching Fitz, too, I glimpsed Red Fox Scout Van Sant
coming running, and shooting with his twenty-two. The bullets spatted
into the bear's hide, and stung her.

"Run, Fitz!" called Van Sant. "I'll stop her."

But he didn't, yet. Hardly! That Fitz had just been winding his film. He
took the camera from between his knees, where he had held it while he
used his one hand, and he leveled it like lightning, on the old
bear--and took her picture again. That picture won a prize, after we got
back to civilization. But the old bear kept coming.

We all were shouting, in vain,--shouting all kinds of things. Red Fox
Scout Van Sant sprang to Fitz's side, and again we heard him say: "Run,
Fitz! Over here. Make for the rock. I'll stop her."

It was the outcrop where Ward had been. Fitz jumped to make for it. He
hugged his camera as he ran. We thought that Van Sant would make for it,
too. But he let Fitz pass him, and he stood. The old bear was coming,
crazy. She only halted to scratch where a twenty-two pellet had stung
her hide. Van Sant waited, steady as a rock. He lifted his little rifle
slowly and held on her, and just as she was about to reach him he
fired.

"Crack!"

Headfirst she plunged. She kicked and ripped the ground, and didn't get
up again. She lay still, amidst a silence, we all watching, breathless.
Beyond, Fitzpatrick had closed his precious camera as he ran, and now at
the rock had turned.

"Shoot her again, Van!" begged Scout Ward.

"I can't," he answered. "That was my last cartridge. But she's dead. I
hit her in the eye." And he lowered his rifle.

Then we gave a great cheer, and rushed for the spot--except Major Henry;
he was the first to think and he rushed to see to little Jed Smith.
Fitzpatrick shook hands hard with Red Fox Scout Van Sant and followed
the major.

Yes, the old bear was stone dead. Van Sant had shot her through the eye,
into the brain. That was enough. Ward and I shook hands with him, too.
He had shown true Scouts' nerve, to sail in in that way, and to meet the
danger and to be steady under fire.

"Oh, well, I was the only one who could do anything," he explained. "I
knew it was my last cartridge and I had to make it count. That's all."

Then we hurried down to where the Major and Fitz and Kit Carson were
gathered about little Jed. Jed wasn't dead. No; we could see him move.
And Fitz called: "He's all right. But his shoulder's out and his leg is
torn."

Little Jed was pale but game. His right arm hung dangling and useless,
and his right calf was bloody. The whole arm hung dangling because the
shoulder was hurt; but it was not a fractured collarbone, for when we
had laid open Jed's shirt we could feel and see. The shoulder was out of
shape, and commencing to swell, and the arm hung lower than the well
arm. (Note 58.)

We let the wound of the calf go, for we must get at this dislocation,
before the shoulder was too sore and rigid. We knew what to do. Jed was
stretched on his back, Red Fox Scout Ward sat at his head, steadying him
around the body, and with his stockinged heel under Jed's armpit Major
Henry pulled down on the arm and shoved up against it with his heel at
the same time. That hurt. Jed turned very white, and let out a big
grunt--but we heard a fine snap, and we knew that the head of the
arm-bone had chucked back into the shoulder-socket where it belonged.

So that was over; and we were glad,--Jed especially. We bound his arm
with a handkerchief sling across to the other shoulder, to keep the
joint in place for a while, and we went at his leg.

The old bear's paw had cuffed him on the shoulder and then must have
slipped down and landed on his calf as he sprawled. The boot-top had
been ripped open and the claws had cut through into the flesh, tearing a
set of furrows. It was a bad-looking wound and was bleeding like
everything. But the blood was just the ordinary oozy kind, and so we let
it come, to clean the wound well. Then we laid some sterilized gauze
from our first-aid outfit upon it, to help clot the blood, and sifted
borax over, and bound it tight with adhesive plaster, holding the edges
of the furrows together. Over that we bound on loosely a dry pack of
other gauze.

We left Jed (who was pale but thankful) with Red Fox Scout Ward and went
up to the bear. Kit Carson wanted to see her. She was still dead, and
off on the edge of the brush her two cubs were sniffing in her
direction, wondering and trying to find out.

Yes, that had been a nervy stand made by Scout Van Sant, and a good
shot. Fitzpatrick reached across and shook his hand again.

"I don't know whether I stopped to thank you, but it's worth doing
twice. I'm much obliged."

"Don't mention it," laughed Van Sant.

Then we all laughed. That was better. There isn't much that can be said,
when you feel a whole lot. But you _know_, just the same. And we all
were Scouts.

Somehow, the big limp body of the old mother bear now made us sober. We
hadn't intended to kill her, and of course she was only protecting her
cubs. It wasn't our mountain; and it wasn't our berry-patch. She had
discovered it first. We had intruded on her, not she on us. It all was
a misunderstanding.

So we didn't gloat over her, or kick her, or sit upon her, now that she
could not defend herself. But we must do some quick thinking.

"Kit Carson, you and Bridger catch Apache," ordered Major Henry. "Fitz
and I will help Scout Van Sant skin his bear."

"She's not my bear," said Scout Van Sant. "I won't take her. She belongs
to all of us."

"Well," continued Major Henry, "it's a pity just to let her lie and to
waste her. We can use the meat."

"The pelt's no good, is it?" asked Fitz.

"Not much, in the summer. But we'll take it off, and put the meat in it,
to carry."

They set to work. Kit Carson and I started after the burro. He had run
off, up the mountain again, and we couldn't catch him. He was too
nervous. We'd get close to him, and with a snort and a toss of his ears
he would jump away and fool us. That was very aggravating.

"If we only had a rope we could rope him," said Kit. But we didn't.
There was no profit in chasing a burro all over a mountain, and so, hot
and tired, we went back and reported.

The old bear had been skinned and butchered, after a fashion. The head
was left on the hide, for the brains. At first Major Henry talked of
sending down to camp for a blanket and making a litter out of it. We
would have hard work to carry Jed in our arms. But Jed was weak and sick
and didn't want to wait for the blanket. Apache would have been a big
help, only he was so foolish. But we had a scheme. Scouts always manage.
(Note 59.)

We made a litter of the bear-pelt! Down we scurried to the aspens and
found two dead sticks. We stuck one through holes in the pelt's fore
legs, and one through holes in the pelt's hind legs, and tied the legs
about with cord. We set little Jed in the hair side, facing the bear's
head, turned back over; the Major, the two Red Fox Scouts, and Kit
Carson took each an end of the sticks; Fitzpatrick and I carried the
meat, stuck on sticks, over our shoulders; and in a procession like
cave-men or trappers returning from a hunt we descended the mountain,
leaving death and blood where we had intended to leave only peace as we
had found it.

Apache made a big circuit to follow us. The two cubs sneaked forward, to
sniff at the bones where their mother had been cut up--and began to eat
her. We were glad to know that they did not feel badly yet, and that
they were old enough to take care of themselves.

But as we stumbled and tugged, carrying wounded Jed down the draw, we
knew plainly that we ought to have let that mountain alone.

[Illustration: "LIKE CAVE-MEN OR TRAPPERS RETURNING FROM A HUNT WE
DESCENDED."]



CHAPTER XVIII

FITZ THE BAD HAND'S GOOD THROW


That green bear-pelt and Jed together were almost too heavy, so that we
went slow and careful and stopped often, to rest us. The sun was setting
when at last we got down to camp again--and we arrived, a very different
party from that which had gone out twelve hours before. It was a sorry
home-coming. But we must not lament or complain over what was our own
fault. We must do our best to turn it to account. We must be Scouts.

We made Jed comfortable on a blanket bed. His leg we let alone, as the
bandage seemed to be all right. And his shoulder we of course let alone.
Then we took stock. Major Henry decided very quickly.

"Jed can't travel. He will have to stay here till his wounds heal more,
and Kit Carson will have to stay with him. I'd stay, instead, because
I'm to blame for wasting some men and some time; but the general passed
the command on to me and I ought to go as far as I possibly can. We'll
fix Kit and Jed the best we're able, and to-morrow we'll hustle on and
make night marches, if we need to."

This was sense. Anyway, although we had wasted men and time, we were now
stocked up with provisions; all that bear meat! While Fitzpatrick and
Red Fox Scout Ward were cooking supper and poor Jed looked on, two of us
went at the meat to cut it into strips for jerking, and two of us
stretched the pelt to grain it before it dried.

We cut the meat into the strips and piled them until we could string
them to smoke and dry them. We then washed for supper, because we were
pretty bloody with the work of cutting. After supper, by moonlight, we
strung the strips with a sailor's needle and cord which the Red Fox
Scouts had in their kit, and erected a scaffolding of four fork-sticks
with two other sticks laid across at the ends. We stretched the strings
of meat in lines, back and forth. Next thing was to make a smudge under
and to lay a tarp over to hold the smudge while the meat should smoke.
(Note 60.)

Pine smoke is no good, because it is so strong. Alder makes a fine sweet
smoke, but we didn't have any alder, up here. We used aspen, as the next
best thing at hand. And by the time we had the pelt grained and the meat
strung and had toted enough aspen, we were tired.

But somebody must stay awake, to tend to Jed and give him a drink and
keep him company, and to watch the smudge, that it didn't flame up too
fierce and that it didn't go out. By smoking and drying the meat all
night and by drying it in the sun afterward, Major Henry thought that it
would be ready so that we could take our share along with us.

If we had that, then we would not need to stop to hunt, and we could
make short camps, as we pleased. You see, we had only four days in which
to deliver the message; and we had just reached the pass!

This was a kind of miserable night. Jed of course had a bed to himself,
which used up blankets. The others of us stood watch an hour and a half
each, over him and over the smudge. He was awful restless, because his
leg hurt like sixty, and none of us slept very well, after the
excitement. I was sleepiest when the time came for us to get up.

We had breakfast, of bear steak and bread or biscuits and gravy. The
meat we were jerking seemed to have been smoked splendidly. The tarp was
smoked, anyhow. We took it off and aired it, and left the strips as they
were, to dry some more in the sun. They were dark, and quite stiff and
hard, and by noon they were brittle as old leather. The hide was dry,
too, and ready for working over with brains and water, and for smoking.
(Note 61.)

But we left that to Kit. Now we must take the trail again. We spent the
morning fussing, and making the cabin tight for Jed and Kit; at last
the meat had been jerked so that our share would keep, and we had done
all that we could, and we were in shape to carry the message on over the
pass and down to Green Valley.

"All right," spoke Major Henry, after dinner. "Let's be off. Scout
Carson, we leave Scout Smith in your charge. You and he stay right here
until he's able to travel. Then you can follow over the pass and hit
Green Valley, or you can back-track for the Ranger's cabin and for home.
Apache will come in soon and you'll have him to pack out with. You'll be
entitled to just as much honor by bringing Jed out safe as we will by
carrying the message. Isn't that so, boys?"

"Sure," we said.

But naturally Kit hated to stay behind. Only, somebody must; it was
Scouts' duty. We all shook hands with him and with wounded Jed (who
hated staying, too), and said "Adios," and started off.

Apache had not appeared, and we were to pack our own outfit. We left Jed
and Kit enough meat and all the flour (which wasn't much) and what other
stuff we could spare (they had the bearskin to use for bedding as soon
as it was tanned) and one rope and our twenty-two rifle, and the
Ranger's fry-pan and two cups, and we divided among us what we could
carry.

"Now we've got three days and a half to get through in," announced Major
Henry. We counted the days on the trail to make sure. Yes, three days
and a half. "And besides, these Red Fox Scouts must catch a train in
time to make connections for that Yellowstone trip. We've put in too
much time, and I think we ought to travel by night as well as by day,
for a while."

"Short sleeps and long marches; that's my vote," said Fitz.

"Don't do it on our account," put in the Red Fox Scouts. "But we're
game. We'll travel as fast as you want to."

So we decided. And now only three Elk Scouts, instead of six, and two
Red Fox Scouts, again we took the long trail. In the Ranger's cabin
behind was our gallant leader General Ashley, and in this other cabin by
the lake were Jed Smith and Kit Carson. Thus our ranks were being
thinned.

We followed the trail from the lake and struck the old Indian trail
again, leading over the pass. About the middle of the afternoon we were
at the pass itself. It was wide and smooth and open and covered with
gravel and short grass and little low flowers like daisies. On either
side were brownish red jagged peaks and rimrock faces, specked with
snow. The wind blew strong and cold. There were many sheep-tracks, where
bands had been trailed over, for the low country or for the summer
range. It was a wild, desolate region, with nothing moving except
ourselves and a big hawk high above; but we pressed on fast, in close
order, our packs on our backs, Major Henry leading. And we were lonesome
without Kit and Jed.

Old Pilot Peak gradually sank behind us; the country before began to
spread out into timber and meadow and valley. Pretty soon we caught up
with a little stream. It flowed in the same direction that we were
going, and we knew that we were across the pass and that we were on the
other side of the Medicine Range, at last! Hurrah!

We were stepping long, down-hill. We came to dwarf cedars, and buck
brush, showing that we were getting lower. And at a sudden halt by the
major, in a nice golden twilight we threw off our packs and halted for
supper beside the stream, among some aspens--the first ones.

About an hour after sunset the moon rose, opposite--a big round moon,
lighting everything so that travel would be easy. We had stocked up on
the jerked bear-meat, roasted on sharp sticks, and on coffee from the
cubes that the Red Fox Scouts carried, and we were ready. The jerked
bear-meat was fine and made us feel strong. So now Major Henry stood,
and swung his pack; and we all stood.

"Let's hike," he said.

That was a beautiful march. The air was crisp and quiet, the moon
mounted higher, flooding the country with silver. Once in a while a
coyote barked. The rabbits all were out, hopping in the shine and
shadow. We saw a snowshoe kind, with its big hairy feet. We saw several
porcupines, and an owl as large as a buzzard. This was a different world
from that of day, and it seemed to us that people miss a lot of things
by sleeping.

Our course was due west, by the North Star. We were down off the pass,
and had struck a valley, with meadow and scattered pines, and a stream
rippling through, and the moonlight lying white and still. In about
three hours we came upon sign of another camp, where somebody had
stopped and had made a fire and had eaten. There were burro tracks here,
so that it might have been a prospectors' camp; and there was an empty
tin can like a large coffee can.

"I think we had better rest again," said Major Henry. "We can have a
snack and a short sleep."

We didn't cook any meat. We weren't going to take out any of the Red Fox
dishes, but Fitz started to fill the tin can with water, to make soup in
that. It was Red Fox Scout Ward who warned us.

"Here," he objected. "Do you think we ought to do that? You know
sometimes a tin can gives off poison when you cook in it."

"And we don't know what was in this can," added Van Sant. "We don't want
to get ptomaine poisoning. I'd rather unpack ten packs than run any
risk."

That was sense. The can _looked_ clean, inside, and the idea of being
made sick by it hadn't occurred to us Elks. But we remembered, now, some
things that we'd read. So we kicked the can to one side, that nobody
else should use it, and Fitz made the soup in a regulation dish from the
Red Fox aluminum kit. (Note 62.)

We drank the soup and each chewed a slice of the bear-meat cold. It was
sweet and good, and the soup helped out. Then we rolled in our blankets
and went to sleep. We all had it on our minds to wake in four hours, and
the mind is a regular clock if you train it.

I woke just about right, according to the stars. The two stars in the
bottom of the Little Dipper, that we used for an hour hand, had been
exactly above a pointed spruce, when I had dozed off, and now when I
looked they had moved about three feet around the Pole Star. While I lay
blinking and warm and comfortable, and not thinking of anything in
particular, I heard a crackle of sticks and the scratch of a match. And
there squatting on the edge of a shadow was somebody already up and
making a fire.

"Is that you, Fitz?" asked Major Henry.

"Yes. You fellows lie still a few seconds longer and I'll have some tea
for you."

Good old Fitz! He need not have done that. He had not been ordered to.
But it was a thoughtful Scout act--and was a Fitz act, to boot.

Scouts Ward and Van Sant were awake now; and we all lay watching Fitz,
and waiting, as he had asked us to. Then when we saw him put in the
tea--

"Levez!" spoke Major Henry; which is the old trapper custom. "Levez! Get
up!" (Note 63.)

Up we sprang, into the cold, and with our blankets about our shoulders,
Indian fashion, we each drank a good swig of hot tea. Then we washed our
faces, and packed our blankets, and took the trail.

It was about three in the morning. The moon was halfway down the west,
and the air was chill and had that peculiar feel of just before morning.
Everything was ghostly, as we slipped along, but a few birds were
twittering sleepily. Once a coyote crossed our path--stopped to look
back at us, and trotted away again.

Gradually the east began to pale; there were fewer stars along that
horizon than along the horizon where the moon was setting. The burro
tracks were plain before us, in the trail that led down the valley. The
trail inclined off to the left, or to the south of west; but we
concluded to follow it because we could make better time and we believed
that the railroad lay in that direction. The Red Fox Scouts ought to be
taken as near to the railroad as possible, before we left them. They had
been mighty good to us.

The moon sank, soon the sun would be up; the birds were moving as well
as chirping, the east was brightening, and already the tip of Pilot
Peak, far away behind us with Kit and Jed sleeping at his base, was
touched with pink, when we came upon a camp.

Red Fox Scout Van Sant, who was leading, suddenly stopped short and
lifted his hand in warning. Before, in a bend of the stream that we were
skirting, among the pines and spruces beside it was a lean-to, with a
blackened fire, and two figures rolled in blankets; and back from the
stream a little way, across in an open grassy spot, was a burro. It had
been grazing, but now it was eying us with head and ears up. Red Fox
Scout Van had sighted the burro first and next, of course, the lean-to
camp.

We stood stock-still, surveying.

"Cache!" whispered Major Henry (which means "Hide"); and we stepped
softly aside into the brush. For that burro looked very much like Sally,
who had been taken from us by the two recruits when they had stolen
Apache also--and by the way that the figures were lying, under a
lean-to, they might be the renegade recruits themselves. It was a
hostile camp!

"What is it?" whispered Red Fox Scout Ward, his eyes sparkling. "Enemy?"

"I think so," murmured Major Henry.

"We can pass."

"Sure. But if that's our burro we ought to take her." And the major
explained.

The Red Foxes nodded.

"But if she isn't, then we don't want her. One of us ought to
reconnoiter." And the major hesitated. "Fitz, you go," he said. And this
rather surprised me, because naturally the major ought to have gone
himself, he being the leader. "I've got a side-ache, somehow," he added,
apologizing. "It isn't much--but it might interfere with my crawling."

Fitz was only too ready to do the stalking. He left his pack, and with a
détour began sneaking upon the lean-to. We watched, breathless. But the
figures never stirred. Fitz came out, opposite, and from bush to bush
and tree to tree he crept nearer and nearer, with little darts from
cover to cover; and at last very cautiously, on his hands and knees; and
finally wriggling on his belly like a snake.

'Twas fine stalking, and we were glad that the Red Fox Scouts were here
to see. But it seemed to us that Fitz was getting too near. However, the
figures did not move, and did not know--and now Fitz was almost upon
them. From behind a tree only a yard away from them he stretched his
neck and peered, for half a minute. Then he crawled backward, and
disappeared. Presently he was with us again.

"It's they, sir," he reported. "Bat and Walt. They're asleep. And that
is Sally, I'm certain. I know her by the white spot on her back."

"We must have her," said the major. "She's ours. We'll get her and pack
her, so we can travel better."

"Can we catch her, all right?" queried Red Fox Scout Van Sant. "We're
liable to wake those two fellows up, aren't we?"

"What if we do?" put in his partner, Scout Ward. "Three of us can guard
them, and the other two can chase the burro."

"No," said Major Henry. "I think we can rope her and be off before those
renegades know anything about it. Can you, Fitz?"

Fitz nodded, eager.

"Then take the rope, and go after her."

Fitz did. He was a boss roper, too. You wouldn't believe it, of a
one-armed boy, but it was so. All we Elk Scouts could throw a rope some.
A rope comes in pretty handy, at times. Most range horses have to be
caught in the corral with a rope, and knowing how to throw a rope will
pull a man out of a stream or out of a hole and will perhaps save his
life. But Fitz was our prize roper, because he had practiced harder than
any of us, to make up for having only one arm.

The way he did was to carry the coil on his stump, and the lash end in
his teeth; and when he had cast, quick as lightning he took the end
from between his teeth ready to haul on it.

Major Henry might have gone, himself, to get the credit and to show what
he could do; but he showed his sense by resigning in favor of Fitz.

So now at the command Fitz took the rope from him and shook it out and
re-coiled it nicely. Then, carrying it, he sneaked through the trees,
and crossed the creek, farther up, wading to his ankles, and advanced
upon Sally.

Sally divided her attention between him and us, and finally pricked her
ears at him alone. She knew what was being tried.

Coming out into the open space Fitz advanced slower and slower, step by
step. He had his rope ready--the coil was on his stump, and the lash end
was in his teeth, and the noose trailed by his side, from his good hand.
We glanced from him and Sally to the lean-to, and back again, for the
campers were sleeping peacefully. If only they would not wake and spoil
matters.

Sally held her head high, suspicious and interested. Fitz did not dare
to speak to her; he must trust that she would give him a chance at her
before she escaped into the trees where roping would be a great deal
harder.

We watched. My heart beat so that it hurt. Having that burro meant a lot
to us, for those packs were heavy--and it was a point of honor, too,
that we recapture our own. Here was our chance.

Fitz continued to trail his noose. He didn't swing it. Sally watched
him, and we watched them both. He was almost close enough, was Fitz, to
throw. A few steps more, and something would happen. But Sally concluded
not to wait. She tossed her head, and with a snort turned to trot away.
And suddenly Fitz, in a little run and a jerk, threw with all his might.

Straight and swift the noose sailed out, opening into an "O," and
dragging the rope like a tail behind it. Fitz had grabbed the lash end
from between his teeth, and was running forward, to make the cast cover
more ground. It was a beautiful noose and well aimed. Before it landed
we saw that it was going to land right. Just as it fell Sally trotted
square into it, and it dropped over her head. She stopped short and
cringed, but she was too late. Fitz had sprung back and had hauled hard.
It drew tight about her neck, and she was caught. She knew it, and she
stood still, with an inquiring gaze around. She knew better than to run
on the rope and risk being thrown or choked. Hurrah! We would have
cheered--but we didn't dare. We only shook hands all round and grinned;
and in a minute came Fitz, leading her to us. She was meek enough, but
she didn't seem particularly glad to see us. We patted Fitz on the back
and let him know that we appreciated him.

He had only the one throw, but that had been enough. It was like Van's
last cartridge.



CHAPTER XIX

MAJOR HENRY SAYS "OUCH"


The sun was just peeping above the Medicine Range that we had crossed,
when we led Sally away, back through the brush and around to strike the
trail beyond the lean-to camp. After we had gone about half a mile Major
Henry posted me as a rear-guard sentry, to watch the trail, and he and
the other Scouts continued on until it was safe to stop and pack the
burro.

The two renegade recruits did not appear. Probably they were still
sleeping, with the blankets over their faces to keep out the light! In
about half an hour I was signaled to come on, and when I joined the
party Sally had been packed with the squaw hitch and now we could travel
light again. I tell you, it was a big relief to get those loads
transferred to Sally. Even the Red Foxes were glad to be rid of theirs.

Things looked bright. We were over the range; we had this stroke of
luck, in running right upon Sally; the trail was fair; and the way
seemed open. It wouldn't be many hours now before the Red Fox Scouts
could branch off for the railroad, and get aboard a train so as to make
Salt Lake in time to connect with their party for the grand trip, and we
Elks had three days yet in which to deliver the message to the Mayor of
Green Valley.

For two or three hours we traveled as fast as we could, driving Sally
and stepping on her tracks so as to cover them. We felt so good over our
prospects--over being upon the open way and winning out at last--that we
struck up songs:

    "Oh, the Elk is our Medicine;
    He makes us very strong--"

for us; and:

    "Oh, the Red fox is our Medicine--"

for the Red Fox Scouts.

And we sang:

        "It's honor Flag and Country dear,
            and hold them in the van;
        It's keep your lungs and conscience clean,
            your body spick and span;
        It's 'shoulders squared,' and 'be prepared,'
            and always 'play the man':
          Shouting the Boy Scouts forev-er!
      Hurrah! Hurrah! For we're the B. S. A.!
      Hurrah! Hurrah! We're ready, night and day!
    You'll find us in the city street and on the open way!
          Shouting the Boy Scouts forev-er!"

But at the beginning of the second verse Major Henry suddenly quit and
sat down upon a log, where the trail wound through some timber. "I've
got to stop a minute, boys," he gasped. "Go ahead. I'll catch up with
you."

But of course we didn't. His face was white and wet, his lips were
pressed tight as he breathed hard through his nose, and he doubled
forward.

"What's the matter?"

"I seem to have a regular dickens of a stomach-ache," he grunted.
"Almost makes me sick."

That was serious, when Major Henry gave in this way. We remembered that
back on the trail when we had sighted Sally he had spoken of a
"side-ache" and had sent Fitzpatrick to do the reconnoitering; but he
had not spoken of it again and here we had been traveling fast with
never a whimper from him. We had supposed that his side-ache was done.
Instead, it had been getting worse.

"Maybe you'd better lie flat," suggested Red Fox Scout Ward. "Or try
lying on your side."

"I'll be all right in a minute," insisted the major.

"We can all move off the trail, and have breakfast," proposed Fitz.
"That will give him a chance to rest. We ought to have something to eat,
anyway."

So we moved back from the trail, around a bend of the creek. The major
could scarcely walk, he was so doubled over with cramps; Scout Ward and
I stayed by to help him. But there was not much that we could do, in
such a case. He leaned on us some, and that was all.

He tried lying on his side, while we unpacked Sally; and then we got him
upon a blanket, with a roll for a pillow. Red Fox Scout Van Sant hustled
to the creek with a cup, and fixed up a dose.

"Here," he said to the major, "swallow this."

"What is it?"

"Ginger. It ought to fix you out."

So it ought. The major swallowed it--and it was so hot it made the tears
come into his eyes. In a moment he thought that he did feel better, and
we were glad. We went ahead with breakfast, but he didn't eat anything,
which was wise. A crampy stomach won't digest food and then you are
worse.

We didn't hurry him, after breakfast. We knew that as soon as he could
travel, he would. But we found that his feeling better wasn't lasting.
Now that the burning of the ginger had worn off, he was as bad as ever.
We were mighty sorry for him, as he turned and twisted, trying to find
an easier position. A stomach-ache like that must have been is surely
hard to stand.

Fitz got busy. Fitzpatrick is pretty good at doctoring. He wants to be a
doctor, some day. And the Red Fox Scouts knew considerable about
first-aids and simple Scouts' remedies.

"What kind of an ache is it, Tom?" queried Fitz. We were too bothered to
call him "Major." "Sharp? Or steady?"

"It's a throbby ache. Keeps right at the job, though," grunted the
major.

"Where?"

"Here." And the major pointed to the pit of his stomach, below the
breast-bone. "It's a funny ache, too. I can't seem to strike any
position that it likes."

"It isn't sour and burning, is it?" asked Red Fox Scout Ward.

"Uh uh. It's a green-apple ache, or as if I'd swallowed a corner of a
brick."

We had to laugh. Still, that ache wasn't any laughing matter.

"Do you feel sick?"

"Just from the pain."

"We all ate the same, and we didn't drink out of that tin can, so it
can't be poison, and it doesn't sound like just indigestion," mused Fitz
to us. "Maybe we ought to give him an emetic. Shall we, Tom?"

"I don't think I need any emetic. There's nothing there," groaned the
major. "Maybe I've caught cold. I guess the cramps will quit. Wish I had
a hot-water bag or a hot brick."

"We'll heat water and lay a hot compress on. That will help," spoke Red
Fox Scout Van Sant. "Ought to have thought of it before."

"Wait a minute, boys," bade Fitz. "Lie still as long as you can, Tom,
while I feel you."

He unbuttoned the major's shirt (the major had taken off his belt and
loosened his waist-band, already) and began to explore about with his
fingers.

"The ache's up here," explained the major. "Up in the middle of my
stomach."

"But is it sore anywhere else?" asked Fitz, pressing about. "Say ouch."

The major said ouch.

"Sore right under there?" queried Fitz.

The major nodded.

We noted where Fitz was pressing with his fingers--and suddenly it
flashed across me what he was finding out. The _ache_ was in the pit of
the stomach, but the _sore spot_ was lower and down toward the right
hip.

Fitz experimented here and there, not pressing very hard; and he always
could make the major say ouch, for the one spot.

"I believe he's got appendicitis," announced Fitz, gazing up at us.

"It looks that way, sure," agreed Red Fox Scout Van Sant. "My brother
had appendicitis, and that's how they went to work on him."

"My father had it, is how I knew about it," explained Fitz.

"Aw, thunder!" grunted the major. "It's just a stomach-ache." He hated
to be fussed with. "I'll get over it. A hot-water bag is all I need."

"No, you don't," spoke Fitz, quickly--as Red Fox Scout Ward was stirring
the fire. "Hot water would be dangerous, and if it's appendicitis we
shan't take any risks. They use an ice-pack in appendicitis. We'll put
on cold water instead of hot, and I'm going to give him a good stiff
dose of Epsom salts. I'm afraid to give him anything else."

That sounded like sense, except that the cold water instead of the hot
was something new. And it was queer that if the major's appendix was
what caused the trouble the ache should be off in the middle of his
stomach. But Fitz was certain that he was right, and so we went ahead.
The treatment wasn't the kind to do any harm, even if we were wrong in
the theory. The Epsom salts would clean out most disturbances, and help
reduce any inflammation. (Note 64.)

The major was suffering badly. To help relieve him, we discussed which
was worse, tooth-ache or stomach-ache. The Red Foxes took the tooth-ache
side and we Elks the stomach-ache side; and we won, because the major
put in his grunts for the stomach-ache. We piled a wet pack of
handkerchiefs and gauze on his stomach, over the right lower angle,
where the appendix ought to be; and we changed it before it got warmed.
The water from the creek was icy cold. We kept at it, and after a while
the major was feeling much better.

And now he began to chafe because he was delaying the march. It was
almost noon. The two renegade recruits had not come along yet. They
might not come at all; they might be looking around for Sally, without
sense enough to read the sign. But the major was anxious to be pushing
on again.

"I don't think you ought to," objected Fitz.

"But I'm all right."

"You may not be, if you stir around much," said Red Fox Scout Ward.

"What do you want me to do? Lie here for the rest of my life?" The major
was cross.

"No; but you ought to be carried some place where you can have a doctor,
if it's appendicitis."

"I don't believe it is. It's just a sort of colic. I'm all right now, if
we go slowly."

"But don't you think that we'd better find some place where we can take
you?" asked Fitz.

"You fellows leave me, then, and go on. Somebody will come along, or
I'll follow slow. Those Red Foxes must get to their train, and you two
Elks must carry the message through on time."

"Not much!" exclaimed both the Red Foxes, indignant. "What kind of
Scouts do you think we are? You'll need more than two men, if there's
much carrying to be done. We stick."

"So do we," chimed in Fitz and I. "We'll get the message through, and
get you through, too."

The major flushed and stood up.

"If that's the way you talk," he snapped (he was the black-eyed, quick
kind, you know), "then I order that this march be resumed. Pack the
burro. I order it."

"You'd better ride."

"I'll walk."

Well, he was our leader. We should obey, as long as he seemed capable.
He was awfully stubborn, the major was, when he had his back up. But we
exchanged glances, and we must all have thought the same: that if he was
taken seriously again soon, and was laid out, we would try to persuade
him to let us manage for him. Fitz only said quietly:

"But if you have to quit, you'll quit, won't you, Tom? You won't keep
going, just to spite yourself. Real appendicitis can't be fooled with."

"I'll quit," he answered.

We packed Sally again, and started on. The major seemed to want to hike
at the regulation fast Scouts' pace, but we held him in the best that we
could. Anyway, after we had gone three or four miles, he was beginning
to pant and double over; his pain had come back.

"I think I'll have to rest a minute," he said; and he sat down. "Go
ahead. I'll catch up. You'd better take the message, Fitz. Here."

"No, sir," retorted Fitz. "If you think that we're going on and leave
you alone, sick, you're off your base. This is a serious matter, Tom. It
wouldn't be decent, and it wouldn't be Scout-like. The Red Foxes ought
to go--"

"But we won't," they interrupted--

"--and we'll get you to some place where you can be attended to. Then
we'll take the message, if you can't. There's plenty of time."

The major flushed and fidgeted, and fingered the package.

"Maybe I can ride, then," he offered. "We can cache more stuff and I'll
ride Sally." He grunted and twisted as the pain cut him. He looked
ghastly.

"He ought to lie quiet till we can take him some place and find a
doctor," said Red Fox Scout Van Sant, emphatically. "There must be a
ranch or a town around here."

"We'll ask this man coming," said Fitz.

The stream had met another, here, and so had the trail; and down the
left-hand trail was riding at a little cow-pony trot a horseman. He was
a cow-puncher. He wore leather chaps and spurs and calico shirt and
flapping-brimmed drab slouch hat. When he reached us he reined in and
halted. He was a middle-aged man, with freckles and sandy mustache.

"Howdy?" he said.

"Howdy?" we answered.

"Ain't seen any Big W cattle, back along the trail, have you?"

No, we hadn't--until suddenly I remembered.

"We saw some about ten days ago, on the other side of the Divide."

"Whereabouts?"

"On a mesa, northwest across the ridge from Dixon Park."

"Good eye," he grinned. "I heard some of our strays had got over into
that country, but I wasn't sure."

We weren't here to talk cattle, though; and Fitz spoke up:

"Where's the nearest ranch, or town?"

"The nearest town is Shenandoah. That's on the railroad about eight
miles yonder. Follow the right-hand trail and you'll come out on a
wagon-road that takes you to it. But there's a ranch three miles up the
valley by this other trail. Sick man?" The cow-puncher had good eyes,
too.

"Yes. We want a doctor."

"Ain't any doctor at Shenandoah. That's nothing but a station and a
store and a couple of houses. I expect the nearest doctor is the one at
the mines."

"Where's that?"

"Fifteen miles into the hills, from the ranch."

"How far is Green Valley?" asked the major, weakly.

"Twenty-three or four miles, by this trail I come along. Same trail you
take to the ranch. No doctor now at Green Valley, though. The one they
had went back East."

"Then you let the Red Fox Scouts take me to the station and put me on
the train for somewhere, and they can catch their own train; and you two
fellows go ahead to Green Valley," proposed the major to Fitz.

"Ain't another train either way till to-morrow morning," said the
cow-puncher. "They meet at Shenandoah, usually--when they ain't late. If
you need a doctor, quickest way would be to make the ranch and ride to
the mines and get him. What's the matter?"

"We don't know, for sure. Appendicitis, we think."

"Wouldn't monkey with it," advised the cow-puncher.

"Then the Red Foxes can hit for the railroad and Fitz and Jim and I'll
make the ranch," insisted the major.

"We won't," spoke up Red Fox Scout Ward, flatly.

"We'll go with you to the ranch. We'll see this thing through. The
railroad can wait."

"Well," said the cow-puncher, "you can't miss it. So long, and good
luck."

"So long," we answered. He rode on, and we looked at the major.

"I suppose we ought to get you there as quick as we can," said Fitz,
slowly. "Do you want to ride, or try walking again, or shall we carry
you?"

"I'm better now," declared our plucky corporal. He stood up. "I'll walk,
I guess. It isn't far."

So we set out, cautiously. No, it wasn't far--but it seemed _mighty_
far. The major would walk a couple of hundred yards, and then he must
rest. The pain doubled him right over. We took some of the stuff off
Sally, and lifted him on top, but he couldn't stand that, either, very
long. We tried a chair of our hands, but that didn't suit.

"I'll skip ahead and see if I can bring back a wagon, from the ranch,"
volunteered Red Fox Scout Van Sant; and away he ran. "You wait," he
called back, over his shoulder.

We waited, and kept a cold pack on the major.

In about an hour and a half Van came panting back.

"There isn't any wagon," he gasped. "Nobody at the ranch except two
women. Men folks have gone and taken the wagon with them."

That was hard. We skirmished about, and made a litter out of one of our
blankets and two pieces of driftwood that we fished from the creek; and
carrying the major, with Sally following, we struck the best pace that
we could down the trail. He was heavy, and we must stop often to rest
ourselves and him; and we changed the cold packs.

At evening we toiled at last into the ranch yard. It had not been three
miles: it had been a good long four miles.



CHAPTER XX

A FORTY-MILE RIDE


The ranch was only a small log shack, of two rooms, with corral and
sheds and hay-land around it; it wasn't much of a place, but we were
glad to get there. Smoke was rising from the stove-pipe chimney. As we
drew up, one of the women looked out of the kitchen door, and the other
stood in a shed with a milk-pail in her hand. The woman in the doorway
was the mother; the other was the daughter. They were regular ranch
women, hard workers and quick to be kind in an emergency. This was an
emergency, for Major Henry was about worn out.

"Fetch him right in here," called the mother; and the daughter came
hurrying.

We carried him into a sleeping room, and laid him upon the bed there. He
had been all grit, up till now; but he quit and let down and lay there
with eyes closed, panting.

"What is it?" they asked anxiously.

"He's sick. We think it's appendicitis."

"Oh, goodness!" they exclaimed. "What can we give him?"

"Nothing. Where can we get a doctor?"

"The mines is the nearest place, if he's there. That's twenty miles."

"But a man we met said it was fifteen."

"You can't follow that trail. It's been washed out. You'll have to take
the other trail, around by the head of Cooper Creek."

"Can we get a saddle-horse here?"

"There are two in the corral; but I don't know as you can catch 'em.
They're used to being roped."

"We'll rope them."

The major groaned. He couldn't help it.

"It's all right, old boy," soothed Fitz. "We'll have the doctor in a
jiffy."

"Don't bother about me," gasped the major, without opening his eyes. "Go
on through."

"You hush," we all retorted. "We'll do both: have you fixed up and get
through, too."

The major fidgeted and complained weakly.

"One of us had better be catching the horses, hadn't we?" suggested Red
Fox Scout Ward. "Van and I'll go for the doctor."

"No, you won't," said I. "I'll go. Fitz ought to stay. I know trails
pretty well."

"Then either Van or I'll go with you. Two would be better than one."

"I'm going," declared Van Sant. "You stay here with Fitz, Hal."

That was settled. We didn't delay to dispute over the matter. There was
work and duty for all.

"You be learning the trail, then," directed Fitz. "I'll be catching the
horses."

"You'll find a rope on one of the saddles in the shed," called the
daughter.

Fitz made for it; that was quicker than unpacking Sally and getting our
own rope. Scout Ward went along to help. We tried to ease the major.

"You should have something to eat," exclaimed the women.

We said "no"; but they bustled about, hurrying up their own supper,
which was under way when we arrived. While they bustled they fired
questions at us; who we were, and where we had come from, and where we
were going, and all.

The major seemed kind of light-headed. He groaned and wriggled and
mumbled. The message was on his mind, and the Red Fox Scouts, and the
fear that neither would get through in time. He kept trying to pass the
message on to us; so finally I took it.

"All right. I've got it, major," I told him. "We'll carry it on. We can
make Green Valley easy, from here. We'll start as soon as we can.
To-morrow's Sunday, anyway. You go to sleep."

That half-satisfied him.

We found that we couldn't eat much. We drank some milk, and stuffed down
some bread and butter; and by that time Fitz and Scout Ward had the
horses led out. We heard the hoofs, and in came Ward, to tell us.

"Horses are ready," he announced.

Out we went. No time was to be lost. They even had saddled them--Fitz
working with his one hand! So all we must do was to climb on. The women
had told us the trail, and they had given us an old heavy coat apiece.
Nights are cold, in the mountains.

"You know how, do you?" queried Fitz of me.

"Yes."

"That gray horse is the easiest," called one of the women, from the
door.

"Let Jim take it, then," spoke Van.

But I had got ahead of him by grabbing the bay.

"Jim is used to riding," explained Fitz.

"So am I," answered Van.

"Not these saddles, Van," put in Ward. "They're different. The stirrups
of the gray are longer, a little. They'll fit you better than they'll
fit Jim."

Van had to keep the gray. It didn't matter to me which horse I rode, and
it might to him from the East; so I was glad if the gray was the easier.

We were ready.

"We'll take care of Tom till you bring the doctor," said Fitz.

"We'll bring him."

"So long. Be Scouts."

"So long."

A quick grip of the hand from Fitz and Ward, and we were off, out of the
light from the opened door where stood the two women, watching, and into
the dimness of the light. Now for a forty-mile night ride, over a
strange trail--twenty miles to the mines and twenty miles back. We would
do our part and we knew that Fitz and Ward would do theirs in keeping
the major safe.

That appeared a long ride. Twenty miles is a big stretch, at night, and
when you are so anxious.

We were to follow on the main trail for half a mile until we came to a
bridge. But before crossing the bridge there was a gate on the right,
and a hay road through a field. After we had crossed the field we would
pass out by another gate, and would take a trail that led up on top of
the mesa. Then it was nineteen miles across the mesa, to the mines. The
mines would have a light. They were running night and day.

We did not say much, at first. We went at fast walk and little trots, so
as not to wind the horses in the very beginning. We didn't dash away,
headlong, as you sometimes read about, or see in pictures. I knew
better. Scouts must understand how to treat a horse, as well as how to
treat themselves, on the march.

This was a dark night, because it was cloudy. There were no stars, and
the moon had not come up yet. So we must trust to the horses to keep the
trail. By looking close we could barely see it, in spots. Of course, the
darkness was not a deep black darkness. Except in a storm, the night of
the open always is thinnish, so you can see after your eyes are used to
it.

I had the lead. Up on the mesa we struck into a trot. A lope is easier
to ride, but the trot is the natural gait of a horse, and he can keep up
a trot longer than he can a lope. Horses prefer trotting to galloping.

Trot, trot, trot, we went.

"How you coming?" I asked, to encourage Van.

"All right," he grunted. "These stirrups are too long, though. I can't
get any purchase."

"Doesn't your instep touch, when you stand up in them?"

"If I straighten out my legs. I'm riding on my toes. That's the way I
was taught. I like to have my knees crooked so I can grip with them.
Don't you, yours?"

"Just to change off to, as a rest. But cowboys and other people who ride
all day stick their feet through the stirrup to the heel, and ride on
their instep. A crooked leg gives a fellow a cramp in the knee, after a
while. Out here we ride straight up and down, so we are almost standing
in the stirrups all the time. That's the cowboy way, and it's about the
cavalry way, too. Those men know."

"How do you grip, then?"

"With the thigh. Try it. But when you're trotting you'd better stand in
the stirrups and you can lean forward on the horn, for a rest."

Van grunted. He was experimenting.

"Should think it would make your back ache," he said.

"What?"

"To ride with such long stirrups."

"Uh uh," I answered. "Not when you sit up and balance in the saddle and
hold your spine straight. It always makes my back ache to hunch over. We
Elk Scouts try to ride with heel and shoulders in line. We can ride all
day."

"Humph!" grunted Van. "Let's lope."

"All right."

So we did lope, a little way. Then we walked another little way, and
then I pushed into the same old trot. That was hard on Van, but it was
what would cover the ground and get us through quickest to the doctor.
So we must keep at it.

Sometimes I stood in the stirrups and leaned on the horn; sometimes I
sat square and "took it."

We crossed the mesa, and first thing we knew, we were tilting down into a
gulch. The horses picked their way slowly; we let them. We didn't want
any tumbles or sprained legs. The bottom of the gulch held willows and
aspens and brush, and was dark, because shut in. We didn't trot. My old
horse just put his nose down close to the ground, and went along at an
amble, like a dog, smelling the trail. I let the lines hang and gave him
his head. Behind me followed Van and his gray. I could hear the gray
also sniffing. (Note 65.)

"Will we get through?" called Van, anxiously. "Think we're still on the
trail?"

"Sure," I answered.

Just then my horse snorted, and raised his head and snorted more, and
stood stock-still, trembling. I could feel that his ears were pricked.
He acted as if he was seeing something, in the trail.

"Gwan!" I said, digging him with my heels.

"What's the matter?" called Van.

His horse had stopped and was snorting.

"Don't know."

It was pitchy dark. I strained to see, but I couldn't. That is a creepy
thing, to have your horse act so, when you don't know why. Of course you
think bear and cougar. But we were not to be held up by any foolishness,
and I was not a bit afraid.

"Gwan!" I ordered again.

"Gwan!" repeated Van.

I heard a crackling in the brush, and my horse proceeded, sidling and
snorting past the spot. Van's gray followed, acting the same way. It
might have been a bear; we never knew.

On we went, winding through the black timber again. We were on the
trail, all right; for by looking at the tree-tops against the sky we
could just see them and could see that they were always opening out,
ahead. The trail on the ground was kind of reproduced on the sky.

It was a long way, through that dark gulch. But nothing hurt us and we
kept going.

The gulch widened; we rode through a park, and the horses turned sharply
and began to climb a hill--zigzagging back and forth. We couldn't see a
trail, and I got off and felt with my hands.

A trail was there.

We came out on top. Here it was lighter. The moon had risen, and some
light leaked through the clouds.

"Do you think we're on the right trail, still?" asked Van, dubiously.
"They didn't say anything about this other hill."

That was so. But they hadn't said anything about there being two trails,
either. They had said that when we struck the trail over the mesa, to
follow it to the mines.

"It must be the right trail," I said, back. "All we can do is to keep
following it."

Seemed to me that we had gone the twenty miles already. But of course we
hadn't.

"Maybe we've branched off, on to another trail," persisted Van. "The
horses turned, you remember. Maybe we ought to go back and find out."

"No, it's the right trail," I insisted, again. "There's only the one,
they said."

We must stick to that thought. We had been told by persons who knew. If
once we began to fuss and not believe, and experiment, then we both
would get muddled and we might lose ourselves completely. I remembered
what old Jerry the prospector once had said: "When you're on a trail,
and you've been told that it goes somewhere, keep it till you get there.
Nobody can describe a trail by inches."

We went on and on and on. It was down-hill and up-hill and across and
through; but we pegged along. Van was about discouraged; and it was a
horrible sensation, to suspect that after all we might have got upon a
wrong trail, and that we were not heading for the doctor but away from
him, while Fitz and Ward were doing their best to save Tom, thinking
that we would come back bringing the doctor.

We didn't talk much. Van was dubious, and I was afraid to discuss with
him, or I might be discouraged, too. I put all my attention to making
time at fast walk and at trot, and in hoping. Jiminy, how I did hope.
Every minute or two I was thinking that I saw a light ahead--the light
of the mines. But when it did appear, it appeared all of a sudden,
around a shoulder: a light, and several lights, clustered, in a hollow
before!

"There it is, Van!" I cried; and I was so glad that I choked up.

"Is that the mines?"

"Sure. Must be. Hurrah!"

"Hurrah!"

The sight changed everything. Now the night wasn't dark, the way hadn't
been so long after all, we weren't so tired, we had been silly to doubt
the trail; for we had arrived, and soon we would be talking with the
doctor.

The trail wound and wound, and suddenly, again, it entered in among
sheds, and the dumps of mines. At the first light I stopped. The door
was partly open. It was the hoisting house of a mine, and the engineer
was looking out, to see who we were.

"Is the doctor here?" I asked.

"Guess so. Want him?"

"Yes."

"He has a room over the store. Somebody hurt? Where you from?"

"Harden's ranch. Where is the store?"

"I'll show you. Here." He led the way. "Somebody hurt over there?"

"No. Sick."

We halted beside a platform of a dim building, and the engineer pounded
on the door.

"Oh, doc!" he called.

And when that doctor answered, through the window above, and we knew
that it was he, and that we had him at last, I wanted to laugh and
shout. But now we must get him back to the major.

"You're needed," explained the man. "Couple of kids." And he said to us:
"Go ahead and tell him. I'm due at the mine." And off he trudged. We
thanked him.

"What's the trouble?" asked the doctor.

"Appendicitis, we think. We're from the Harden ranch."

"Great Scott!" we heard the doctor mutter. Then he said. "All right,
I'll be down." And we waited.

He came out of a side door and around upon the porch. He was buttoning
his shirt.

"Who's got it? Not one of _you_?"

"No, another boy. He was sick on the trail and we took him to the ranch.
Then we rode over here."

"What makes you think your friend has appendicitis?"

We described how the major acted and what Fitz had found out by feeling,
and what we had done.

"Sounds suspicious," said the doctor, shortly. "You did the right thing,
anyway. Do you want to go back with me? I'll start right over. Expect
you're pretty tired."

"We'll go," we both exclaimed. We should say so! We wanted to be there,
on the spot.

"I'll just get my case, and saddle-up." And he disappeared.

He was a young doctor, smooth-faced; I guess he hadn't been out of
college very long; but he was prompt and ready. He came down in a moment
with a lantern, and put his case on the porch. He handed us a paper of
stuff.

"There's some lump sugar," he said. "Eat it. I always carry some about
with me, on long rides. It's fine for keeping up the strength."

He swung the lantern to get a look at us, then he went back toward the
stables, and saddled his horse. He was in the store a moment, too.

"I've got some cheese," he announced, when he came out again. "Cheese
and sugar don't sound good as a mixture, but they'll see us through. We
must keep our nerve, you know. All aboard?"

"All aboard," we answered.

That was another long ride, back; but it did not seem so long as the
ride in, because we knew that we were on the right trail. The doctor
talked and asked us all about our trip as Scouts, and told experiences
that he had had on trips, himself; and we tried to meet him at least
halfway. But all the time I was wondering about the major, and whether
we would reach him in time, and whether he would get well, and what was
happening now, there. But there was no use in saying this, or in asking
the doctor a lot of questions. He would know and he would do his best,
and so would we all.

Just at daylight we again entered the ranch yard. Fitz waved his one arm
from the ranch door. He came to meet us. His eyes were sticky and
swollen and his face pale and set, but he smiled just the same.

"Here's the doctor," we reported. "How is he?"

"Not so bad, as long as we keep the cold compress on. He's slept."

"Good," said the doctor. "We'll fix him up now, all right."

He swung off, with his case, and Fitz took him right in. Van and I sort
of tumbled off, and stumbled along after. Those forty miles at trot and
fast walk had put a crimp in our legs. But I tell you, we were thankful
that we had done it!

And here was our second Sunday.



CHAPTER XXI

THE LAST DASH


That young doctor was fine. He took things right into his own hands, and
Major Henry said all right. The major was weak but game. He was gamer
than any of us. Fitz and Red Fox Scout Ward had slept some by turns, and
the two women were ready to help, too; but the doctor gave Red Fox Scout
Van Sant and me the choice of going to sleep or going fishing.

It was Sunday and we didn't need the fish. We didn't intend to go to
sleep; we just let them show us a place, in the bunk-house, and we lay
down, for a minute. For we were ready to help, as well as the rest of
them. A Scout must not be afraid of blood or wounds. We only lay down
with a blanket over us, instead of going fishing--and when I opened my
eyes again the sun was bright and Fitz and Ward were peeking in on us.

They were pale, but they looked happy.

Van and I tried to sit up.

"Is it over with?" we asked.

"Sure."

"Did he take it out? Was that what was the matter?"

"Yes. Want to see it?"

No, we didn't. I didn't, anyway.

"How is he? Can we see him?"

"The doctor says he'll be all right. Maybe you can see him. He's out
from under. It's one o'clock."

One o'clock! Phew! We were regular deserters--but we hadn't intended to
be.

We tumbled out, now, and hurried to wash and fix up, so that we would
look good to the major. Sick people are finicky. The daughter was in the
kitchen, but the mother and the doctor were eating. There was a funny
sweetish smell, still; smell of chloroform. It is a serious smell, too.

The doctor smiled at us. "I ought to have taken yours out, while you
were asleep," he joked. "I've been thinking of it."

"Is he all right?" we asked; Fitz and Ward behind us, ready to hear
again.

"Bully, so far."

"Indeed he is," added the mother.

"Can we see him?"

"You can stand on the threshold and say one word: 'Hello.'"

We tiptoed through. The bed was clean and white, with a sheet outside
instead of the colored spread; and the major was in it. The Elks' flag
was spread out, draped over the dresser, where he could see it. His eyes
opened at us. He didn't look so very terrible, and he tried to grin.

"How?" he said.

"Hello," said we; and we gave him the Scouts' sign.

"Didn't even make me sick," he croaked. "But I can't get up. Don't you
fellows wait. You go ahead."

"We will," we said, to soothe him. Then we gave him the Scouts' sign
again, and the silence sign, and the wolf sign (for bravery) (Note
66), and we drew back. The doctor had told us that we could say one
word, and we had been made to say three!

We had seen that the major was alive and up and coming (not really up;
only going to be, you know); but this was another anxious day, I tell
you! Having an appendix cut out is no light matter, ever--and besides,
here was the fourteenth day on the trail! The major would not be able to
stir for a week and a half, maybe; yet Green Valley, our goal, was only
twenty-one miles away!

"It's all a question of the nursing that he has now, boys," said the
doctor, in council with us. "I'm going to trust that to you Scouts;
these women have all they can do, anyway. We got the appendix out just
in time--but if it hadn't been for your first-aid treatment in the
beginning we might have been too late. That old appendix was swollen
and ready to burst if given half a chance. His pure Scout's blood and
his Scout's vitality will pull him through O. K. That's what he gets,
from living right, following out Scouts' rules. But he must have
attention night and day according to hygiene. We don't want any microbes
monkeying with that wound I made."

"No, you bet," we said.

"I'll leave you complete directions and then I'm going back to the
mines; but I'll ride over again to-morrow morning. Can't you keep him
from fussing about that message?"

"We'll try," we said.

"If you can't, then one of you can jump on a horse and take it over, so
as to satisfy him. You can make the round trip in five hours."

Well, we were pledged not to do _that_; horse or other help was
forbidden. But we did not say so. What was the use? And it didn't seem
now as though either Fitz or I could stand it to leave the major even
for five hours. The Red Fox Scouts of course must skip on, to the
railroad, or they'd miss their big Yellowstone trip, and we two Elks
would be on night and day duty, with the major. The doctor said that he
would be out of danger in five days. By that time the message would be
long overdue. It was too bad. We had tried so hard.

The doctor left us written directions, until he should come back; and
he rode off for the mines.

Fitz and I took over the nursing, and let the two women go on about
their ranch work. They were mighty nice to us, and we didn't mean to
bother them any more than was absolutely necessary. The two Red Foxes
stayed a while longer. They said that they would light out early in the
morning, if the major had a good night, in time to catch the train all
right. But they didn't; we might have smelled a mouse, if we hadn't been
so anxious about the major. They were good as gold, those two Red Foxes.

You see, the major kept fussing. He was worried over the failure of the
message. He had it on his mind all the time. To-morrow was the fifteenth
day--and here we were, laid up because of him. We told him no matter; we
all had done our Scouts' best, and no fellows could have done more. But
we would stick by him. That was our Scouts' duty, now.

He kept fussing. When we took his temperature, as the doctor had
ordered, it had gone up two degrees. That was bad. We could not find any
other special symptoms. His cut didn't hurt him, and he had not a thing
to complain of--except that we wouldn't carry the message through in
time.

"You'll have to do it," said Red Fox Scout Van Sant to Fitz and me.

"But we can't."

"Why not?"

That was a silly question for a Scout to ask.

"We can't leave Tom."

"Yes, you can. Hal and I are here."

"You've got to make that train, right away."

"No, we haven't."

"But you'll miss the Yellowstone trip!"

"We can take it later."

"No, sir! That won't do. The major and we, and the general, too, if he
knew, won't have it that way at all. You fellows have been true Scouts.
Now you go ahead."

Scout Van flushed and fidgeted.

"Well, to tell the truth," he blurted, "I guess we've missed connections
a little anyway. But we don't care. We sent a telegram in this afternoon
by the doctor to our crowd, telling them to go ahead themselves and not
to expect us until we cut their trail. The doctor will telephone it to
the operator."

We gasped.

"You see," continued Van, "we two Red Foxes can take care of the major
while you're gone, like a brick. We're first-aid nurses, and the doctor
has told us what to do; and he's coming back to-morrow and the next day
you'll be back, maybe. He said that if the major fussed you'd better do
what's wanted."

"But look here--!" began Fitz. "The major'll feel worse if he knows
you're missing your trip than if the message is delayed a day or two."

"No, he won't," argued Van. "We'll explain to him. We won't miss our
trip. We'll catch the crowd somewhere. Besides, that's only pleasure.
This other is business. You're on the trail, in real Scouts' service, to
show what Scouts can do, so we want to help."

It seemed to me that they were showing what Scouts can do, too! They
were splendid, those Red Foxes.

"The major'll just fuss and fret, you know," finished Van. "That's what
has sent his temperature up, already."

"Well," said Fitz, slowly, "we'll see. We Elks appreciate how you other
Scouts have stuck and helped. Don't we, Jim?"

"We sure do," I agreed. "But we don't want to ride a free horse to
death."

"Bosh!" laughed Van. "We're all Scouts. That's enough."

Red Fox Scout Ward beckoned to us.

"The major wants you," he said.

We went in. The major did not look good to me. His cheeks were getting
flushed and his eyes were large and rabbity.

"I can't quiet him," claimed Ward, low, as we entered.

"Do you know this is the fourteenth day?" piped the major. "I've been
counting up and it is. I'm sure it is."

"That's all right, old boy," soothed Fitz. "You let us do the counting.
All you need do is get well."

"But we have to put that message through, don't we?" answered the major.
"Just because I'm laid up is no reason why the rest of you must be laid
up, too. Darn it! Can't you do something?"

He was excited. That was bad.

"I've been thinking," proceeded the major. "The general was hurt, and
dropped out, but we others went on. Then little Jed Smith was hurt, and
he and Kit Carson dropped out, but we others went on. And now I'm hurt,
and I've dropped out, and none of you others will go on. That seems
mighty mean. I don't see why you're trying to make me responsible.
Everybody'll blame me."

"Of course they won't," I said.

He was wriggling his feet and moving his arms, and he was almost crying.

"Would you get well quick if we leave you and take the message through,
Tom?" asked Fitz, suddenly.

The major quit wriggling, and his face shone.

"Would I? I'd beat the record. I'd sleep all I'm told to, and eat soup,
and never peep. Will you, Fitz? Sure?"

"To-morrow morning. You lie quiet, and quit fussing, and sleep, and be
a model patient in the hospital, and then to-morrow morning early we'll
hike."

"Both of you?"

"Yep."

"One isn't enough, in case you meet trouble. It's two on the trail, for
us Scouts."

"I know it."

"And you'll take the flag? I want the Elks flag to go."

"We will," we said.

"To-morrow morning, then," and the major smiled a peaceful, happy little
smile. "Bueno. Now I'll go to sleep. You needn't give me any dope. I'll
see you off in the morning." And he sort of settled and closed his eyes.
"When are you Red Foxes off?" he asked drowsily.

"Oh, we've arranged to be around here a day yet," drawled Van Sant. "You
can't get rid of us. We want to hear that the message went through. Then
we'll skip. We ought to rest one day in seven. And there's a two-pound
trout in a hole here, Mrs. Harden says, and Hal thinks he can catch him
to-morrow before I do."

"You mustn't miss that trip," murmured the major. And when we tiptoed
out, leaving Fitz on guard, he was asleep already!

So it seemed that we had done the best thing.

Red Foxes Ward and Van Sant divided the night watch between them so
that we Elks should be fresh for the day's march. We were up early, and
got our own breakfast, so as not to bother the two women; but the report
came out from the major's room that he had had a bully night, and that
now he was awake and was bound to see us. So we went in.

He had the Elks flag in his hands.

"Who's got that message?" he asked.

I had, you know.

He passed the flag to Fitz.

"You take this, then. You're sure going, aren't you?"

"Yes, sir."

"All right. You can make it. Don't you worry about me. I'm fine. Be
Scouts. It's the last leg."

"You be a Scout, too. If we're to be Scouts, on the march, you ought to
be a Scout, in the hospital."

"I will." He knew what we meant. "But I wish I could go."

"So do we."

"All ready?"

"All ready."

He shook our hands.

"So long."

"So long."

We gave him the Scouts' salute, and out we went. We shook hands with
the Red Foxes; they saluted us, and we saluted them. We crossed the yard
for the trail; and when we looked back, the two women waved at us. We
waved back. And now we were carrying the message again, with only
twenty-one miles to go.

The trail was up grade, following beside the creek, and we knew that we
must allow at least eight hours for those twenty-one miles. It was not
to be a nice day, either. Mists were floating around among the hills,
which was a pretty certain sign of rain.

We hiked on. I had the message, hanging inside my shirt. It felt good. I
suspected that Fitz ought to be the one to carry it; he was my superior.
But he didn't ask for it, and I tried to believe that my carrying it
made no difference to him. I was thinking about offering it to him, but
I didn't. He had his camera, and the flag wrapped about his waist like a
sash. We'd left Sally and our other stuff at the ranch, and were
traveling light for this last spurt.

It was a wagon trail right down the valley, and we could travel fast.
The sun grew hotter, and a hole in my boot-sole began to raise a blister
on my foot. Those fourteen days of steady trailing had been hard on
leather, and on clothes, too.

We passed several ranches. Along in the middle of the morning thunder
began to growl in the hills, and we knew that we were liable to be wet.

The valley grew narrower, as if it was to pinch out, and the thunder
grew louder. The storm was rising black over the hills ahead of us.

"That's going to be a big one," said Fitz.

It looked so. The clouds were the rolling, tumbling kind, where drab and
black are mixed. And they came fast, to eat the sun.

It was raining hard on the hills ahead. We could see the lightning every
second, awful zigzags and splits and bursting bombs, and the thunder was
one long bellow.

The valley pinched to not much more than a gulch, with aspens and pines
and willows, and now and then little grassy places, and the stream
rippling down through the middle. Half the sky was gone, now, and the
sun was swallowed, and it was time that Fitz and I found cover. We did
not hunt a tree; not much! Trees are lightning attracters, and they
leak, besides. But we saw where a ledge of shelf-rock cropped out,
making a little cave.

"We'd better get in here and cache till the worst is over," proposed
Fitz. "We'll eat our lunch while we're waiting."

That sounded like sense. So we snuggled under. We could just sit up,
with our feet inside the edge.

"Boom-oom-oom!" roared the thunder, shaking the ground.

"Boom-oom-oom! Oom! Oom! Boom!"

We could feel a chill, the breeze stopped, as if scared, drops began to
patter, a few, and then more, faster and faster, hard and swift as hail,
the world got dark, and suddenly with roar and slash down she came,
while we were eating our first sandwich put up by the two women.

That was the worst rain that Fitz or I had ever seen. Between mouthfuls
we watched. The drops were big and they fell like a spurt from a hose,
until all the outside world was just one sheet of water. The streaks
drummed with the rumble of a hundred wagons. We couldn't see ten feet.
Before we had eaten our second sandwiches, the water was trickling
through cracks in the shelf-rock roof, and dirt was washing away from
the sides of our cave. Outside, the land was a stretch of yellow, liquid
adobe, worked upon by the fierce pour.

"We'll have to get out of this," shouted Fitz in my ear. "This roof may
cave in on us."

And out he plunged; I followed. We were soaked through in an instant,
and I could feel the water running down my skin. We could scarcely see
where to go or what to do; but we had bolted just in time. One end of
the shelf-rock washed out like soap, and in crumpled the roof, as a mass
of shale and mud! Up the gulch sounded a roaring--another, different
roaring from the roaring of the rain and thunder. Fitz grabbed my hand.

"Run!" he shouted. "Quick! Get across!"

This was no time for questions, of course. I knew that he spoke in
earnest, and had some good reason. Hand in hand we raced, sliding and
slipping, for the creek. It had changed a heap in five minutes. It was
all a thick yellow, and was swirling and yeasty. Fitz waded right in, in
a big hurry to get on the other side. He let go of my hand, but I
followed close. The current bit at my knees, and we stumbled on the
hidden rocks. Out Fitz staggered, and up the opposite slope, through
sage and bushes. The roaring was right behind us. It was terrible. We
were about all in, and Fitz stopped, panting.

"See that?" he gasped, pointing back.

A wave of yellow muck ten feet high was charging down the gulch like a
squadron of cavalry in solid formation. Logs and tree-branches were
sticking out of it, and great rocks were tossing and floating. Another
second, and it had passed, and where we had come from--trail and
shelf-rock and creek--was nothing but the muddy water and driftwood
tearing past, with the pines and aspens and willows trembling amidst it.
But it couldn't reach us.

"Cloud-burst," called Fitz, in my ear.

I nodded. He was white. I felt white, too. That had been a narrow
escape.

"We could have climbed that other side, couldn't we?" I asked.

"We were on the wrong side of the creek, though. We might have been cut
off from where we're going. That's what I thought of. See?"

Wise old Fitz. That was Scouty, to do the best thing no matter how quick
you must act. Of course, with the creek between us and Green Valley, and
the bridges washed out and the water up, we might have been held back
for half a day!

The yellow flood boiled below, but the rain was quitting, and we might
as well move on, anyway.

According to what we had been told of the trail, up at the head of the
gulch it turned off, and crossed the creek on a high bridge, and made
through the hills northwest for the town. Now we must shortcut to strike
it over in that direction.

The rain was quitting; the sun was going to shine. That was a hard
climb, through the wet and the stickiness and the slipperiness, with our
clothes weighting us and clinging to us and making us hotter. But up we
pushed, puffing. Then we followed the ridge a little way, until we had
to go down. Next we must go up again, for another ridge.

Fitz plugged along; so did I. The sun came out and the ground steamed,
and our clothes gradually dried, as the brush and trees dried; but
somehow I didn't feel extra good. My head thumped, and things looked
queer. It didn't result in anything serious, after the hike was over, so
I guess that maybe I was hungry and excited. The rain had soaked our
lunch as well as us and we threw it away in gobs; we counted on supper
in Green Valley.

We didn't stop. Fitz was going strong. He was steel. And if I could hold
out I mustn't say a word. So it was up-hill and down-hill, across
country through brush and scattered timber, expecting any time to hit
the trail or come in sight of the town. And how my head did thump!

Finally in a draw we struck a cow-path, and we stuck to this, because it
looked as if it was going somewhere. Other cow-paths joined it, and it
got larger and larger and more hopeful; and about five o'clock by the
sun we stepped into a main traveled road. Hurrah! This was the trail for
us.

The rain had not spread this far, and the road was dusty. A signboard
said, pointing: "Brown's Big Store, Green Valley's Leader, One Mile." We
were drawing near! I tried not to limp, and not to notice my head, as we
spurted to a fast walk, straight-foot and quick, so that we would enter
triumphantly. As like as not people would be looking out for us, as this
was the last day; and we would show them Scouts' spirit. We Elks had
fought treachery and fire and flood, and we had left four good men along
the way; those had been a strenuous fifteen days, but we were winning
through at last.

That last mile seemed to me longer than any twenty. The dust and gravel
were hot, the sun flamed, my blister felt like a cushion full of
needles, my legs were heavy and numb, that old head thumped like a drum,
and I had a notion that if I slackened or lost my stride I'd never
finish out that mile. So when Fitz stumbled on a piece of rock, and his
strap snapped and he stopped to pick up his camera, I kept moving. He
would catch me.

A shoulder of rock stuck out and the road curved around it; and when I
had curved around it, too, then I saw something that sent my heart into
my throat, and brought me up short. With two leaps I was back, around
the rock again, in time to sign Fitz, coming: "Halt! Silence!" And I
motioned him close behind the shoulder.

Beyond the rock the road stretched straight and clear, with the town
only a quarter of a mile. But only about a hundred yards away, where the
creek flowed close to the road, were two fellows, fishing. One was Bill
Duane!

Fitz obeyed my signs. He gazed at me, startled and anxious.

"What is it?" he asked, pantomime.

I held up two fingers, for two enemies. Then I cautiously peeked out.
Bill Duane was leaving the water, as if he was coming; and the other
fellow was coming. The other fellow was Mike Delavan. They must have
seen me before I had jumped back. We might have circuited them, but now
it was too late. I never could stand a chase over the hills, and maybe
Fitz couldn't.

But there was a way, and a chance, and I made up my mind in a twinkling.
I jerked out the message and held it at Fitz. He shook his head. I
signed what we would do--what I would do and what he must do. He shook
his head. He wouldn't. We would stick together. I clinched my teeth and
waved my fist under his nose, and signed that he _must_. He was the one.

Then I thrust the message into his hand, and out I sprang. Around the
shoulder of rock Bill and Mike were sneaking, to see what had become of
me. They were only about fifty yards, now, and I made for them as if to
dodge them. They let out a yell and closed in, and up the hill at one
side I pegged. They pegged to head me.

My legs worked badly. I didn't mind breaking the blister (I felt the
warm stuff ooze out, and the sting that followed); but those heavy legs!
As a Scout I ought to have skipped up the hill as springy and
long-winded as a goat; but instead I had to shove myself. But up I went,
nip and tuck--and my head thumped when my heart did, about a thousand
times a minute. Every step I took hurt from hair to sole. But I didn't
care, if I only could go far enough. Bill and Mike climbed after, on
the oblique so as to cut me off before I could reach the top of the
ridge and the level there.

Straight up I went, drawing them on; and halfway my throat was too dry
and my legs were too heavy and my head jarred my eyes too much, and I
wobbled and fell down. On came the two enemy; but I didn't care. I
looked past them and saw Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand pelting down the road.
He had cached his camera, but he had the flag and the message, his one
arm was working like a driving-rod, he was running true, the trail lay
straight and waiting, with the goal open, and I knew that he would make
it!



APPENDIX: SCOUT NOTES


CHAPTER I

Note 1, page 3: Many old-time "scouts" of Western plains and mountains
did not amount to much. They led a useless life, hunting and fighting
for personal gain, and gave little thought to preserving game, making
permanent trails, or otherwise benefiting people who would follow. Their
knowledge and experience was of the selfish or of the unreliable kind.
They cared for nobody but themselves, and for nothing but their wild
haunts. However, these trapper-explorers whose names the Elk Patrol took
were of value to the world at large and deserve to be remembered.

General William H. Ashley lived in old St. Louis, and became a
fur-trader and fur-hunter in 1822. By his great enterprise he encouraged
other Americans to penetrate the Western country. He led numerous
expeditions across the wild plains and the wild Rockies, and his parties
were great training-schools for young trapper-scouts. He it was who
fairly broke the famous Oregon and California emigrant trail across the
Rocky Mountains by hauling a six-pounder cannon, on wheels, to his fort
in Utah; his men were the first to explore the Great Salt Lake; he was
the first brigadier-general of the Missouri State militia, and after his
fur days he went to Congress.

Major Andrew Henry was General Ashley's partner in fur. But before
joining with Ashley, in 1810 he had built, in Idaho, the first American
trading post or fort west of the mountains.

Kit Carson was a real "boy scout," for he took the scout trail in 1826,
when he was only sixteen. Because of his modesty, his bravery, his
shrewdness, and his kindliness, his help to army and other Government
expeditions, and his advice in Indian matters, he is the best-known of
all Western frontiersmen.

Thomas Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand was an Ashley trapper, and was a captain
of trappers. He afterwards served as a valuable guide for emigrants and
the Government, and was a Government agent over Indians. He was called
by the Indians "Bad Hand," because one hand had been crippled through a
rifle explosion. He was called "White Head," too, because in a terrible
chase by Indians his hair turned white.

Jedediah S. Smith is known as the Knight in Buckskin. He also was an
Ashley scout or trapper, and he was the first American trapper to lead a
party across to California. Jedediah Smith was a true Christian, and
during all his wanderings the Bible was his best companion.

Jim Bridger was another Ashley scout. He became a scout when he was
nineteen, before Kit Carson, and is almost as well known as Kit Carson.
He was the Ashley man who discovered the Great Salt Lake, in 1825; he
was the first to tell about the Yellowstone Park; and it was by his
trail that the Union Pacific Railroad found its way over the Rocky
Mountains.

Note 2, page 4: Boy Scouts know that "taking a message to Garcia" means
"there and back and no breath wasted." When the war with Spain broke
out, in 1898, Captain Andrew Summers Rowan, of the United States Army,
was directed by the President to convey a message from the Government to
General Garcia of the Cuban Army. Nobody seemed to know the exact
whereabouts of General Garcia, who was concealed in the depths of the
island. But Captain Rowan did not wait to ask "when" or "how." Not he.
He pocketed the message, he made for Cuba, he plunged into the jungle,
he found General Garcia, and he brought back the desired report. That
was genuine Scouts' work, without frills or foolishness.

Note 3, page 5: Two pairs of thin socks are better for the feet than one
pair of thick socks. They rub on each other, and this saves the skin
from rubbing on the inside of the boot. Soldiers sometimes soap the
heels and soles of their stockings, on the inside.

Note 4, page 6: The "tarp" or tarpaulin, or cowboy bed-sheet, is a strip
of sixteen- or eighteen-ounce canvas duck six to eight feet wide and ten
to twenty feet long. Fifteen feet is long for Boy Scouts. But it should
be plenty wide enough to tuck in well and not draw open when _humped_ by
the body, and plenty long enough to cover, with room for the feet, and
plenty heavy enough to shed wind and water. It is used on the outside,
under and over; and in between, in his blankets, the Scout is snug. The
tarp is simple and cheap and is easily accommodated to circumstances. If
a few brass eyes are run along the edges, and in the corners, then it
can be stretched for a shelter-tent, too. It is much used on the plains
and in the mountains.

Note 5, page 6: The diamond hitch is the favorite tie by which packs and
other loads are fastened upon burros and horses. It has been used from
very early days in the West, and is called the "diamond" hitch because
when taut the rope forms a diamond on top of the pack. There are several
styles of the diamond hitch, but they all are classified as the single
or the double diamond. Some require only one person to tie them; some
require two persons. They bind the load very flat, they may be loosened
or tightened quickly from the free end of the lash rope, and they do not
stick or jam. Nobody has time to fuss with hard knots, when the pack
must come off in a hurry.

The simplest form of the diamond hitch is tied as shown here. Scouts may
practice it with a cushion laid upon a porch rail, a cord for a lash
rope, a strip of cloth for the band or cincha, and a bent nail for the
cincha hook.

The Elk Scouts had under their top-packs a "sawbuck" pack-saddle, which
is a pair of wooden X's; and to the horns of the X's they hung on each
side a canvas case or pannier, in which were stowed cooking utensils,
etc. The blankets, etc., were folded and laid on top, with the
tarpaulins covering, and the whole was then "laired up" (which is the
army and packing term for tucking and squaring and making all
shipshape), so that it would ride securely. The panniers must balance
each other, even if rocks have to be put in on one side to even up; or
else the burro's back will be made sore. Top-packs must not ride wobbly
or aslant.

A splendid little book for Boy Scouts is the pamphlet "Pack
Transportation," issued by the Quartermaster's Department of the United
States Army, and for sale at a small price by the Government Printing
Office, Washington. It tells about all the pack hitches, with pictures,
and how to care for the animals on the march. This latter is very
important.

Before Number 3 is formed, the cinch or cincha (the belly-band) must be
drawn very tight, so that the double-twist which makes the loop in
Number 3 will stick. But the rope and cincha are apt to slip and loosen,
unless the Scout takes a jam-hitch or Blackwall hitch around the hook of
the cincha. The rope should be kept taut throughout; and at the last
should be heaved tauter still, so that the diamond bites into the pack
well; and the end of the rope should be doubled back and tucked under so
that it will not drag, and yet can be easily got at.

[Illustration: THE SIMPLEST SINGLE DIAMOND]

The lash rope, or pack-rope, in the Army is one-half inch in size and is
fifty feet long; but a forty-foot rope is plenty long enough for Scouts.
A lair rope also is useful in packing. This is a three-eighths inch
rope, twenty-five or thirty feet long, by which the packs may first be
laired or tied up securely so that nothing shall shake out.

A pack for a burro may weigh from 200 to 250 pounds; but on a long,
rough trip 150 pounds is better. A pack is harder on a mule or a horse
than a rider is, because it never lets up.

Note 6, page 6: The Indian bow was only two and one-half to four feet
long, so that it could be carried easily when stalking or when on
horseback. The Sioux bow, four feet long, was an inch and a half wide at
the middle and an inch thick, and tapered to half an inch thick and half
an inch wide, at the ends. The Indian bow was made of wood, and of
mountain-goat horns, or of solid bones, glued together. The wooden bow
frequently was strengthened by having hide or sinew glued along the
back. Until they learned the knack of it, few white men could bend an
Indian bow.

The arrows were of different lengths, but each warrior used the one
length, if he could, so that he would shoot alike, every time. Each
warrior knew his own arrows, by a private mark--by length or by pattern
of stem or of feathers. Some tribes used two feathers, some three.
Scouts can mark their arrows, in the same way.

The bow and arrow are good Scout weapons. They give no noise. They do
not frighten animals or warn the enemy. They are not expensive. They can
be made on the spot. And it takes Scoutcraft to make them and to use
them successfully. As long as the Indians had only bows and arrows,
there was plenty of game for all.

Note 7, page 6: The lariat rope, or simply "rope," in the West, is
thirty-five or forty feet long. Usually it is five-eighths, four-ply
manilla, but the best are of braided rawhide. Those bought at stores
have a metal knot or honda through which the slipnoose runs; but cowboys
and Boy Scouts do not need this. They tie their own honda, which should
be a small fixed loop with space enough for the rope to pass freely. The
inside of the loop, against which the rope slips back and forth, may be
wrapped with leather. In throwing the rope, the noose or slipknot should
be opened to four or five feet in diameter, and the free part of the
rope outside the noose should be grasped together with the noose for
about one third along the noose from the honda knot. The remainder of
the rope is held in a coil in the other hand, ready to release when the
noose is cast. The noose (with the part of the free rope) is whirled in
thumb and fingers around the head, until it has a good start; and then
it is jerked straight forward by the wrist and forearm. As it sails, the
honda knot swings to the front and acts as a weight to open the noose
wide. That is why part of the rope is taken up, with the noose, and the
noose is grasped one third along from the knot itself.

The rope, or lariat, or lasso, is a handy implement for the Scout. The
Western Indians and the old-time scouts or trappers used it a great
deal, for catching animals and even enemies; and when the United States
fought with Mexico, in 1846, some of the Mexican cavalry were armed with
lassos.

Note 8, page 7: Anybody on the march always feels better and can travel
better when he keeps himself as clean and as neat as possible. Each pair
of Scouts in a Patrol should share a war-bag, which is a canvas sack
about four feet long, with a round bottom and with a top puckered by a
rope. This war-bag is for personal stuff, so that there is no need to
paw around in the general baggage, and no chance of losing things.

Note 9, page 7: Coffee is popular, but tea is better, in the long run,
and Scouts should not neglect it on the trail. It is lighter than
coffee, is more quickly made, and is a food, a strength-giver, and a
thirst-quencher in one. All explorers favor it.

Note 10, page 7: Scout Troops would do well to have an official
physician who will make out a list of remedies to be used in camp or on
the march. When Scouts know how to clean out the stomach and the
intestines and how to reduce fever and to subdue chills, and what to
give in case of poisoning, then they can prevent many illnesses and
perhaps save life. The remedies should be in shape to be easily carried,
and should be simple to handle.

Note 11, page 7: The Indian walk and the old scout walk was the
straight-foot walk, because it covers the ground with the least
resistance. When the foot is turned so that it is pushed sideways, there
is waste motion. The toes should push backward, not quartering, to get
the most out of the leg muscles. George Catlin, the famous Indian
painter, who lived among the Indians of the West before any of us were
born, says that he could not walk in moccasins until he walked
straight-foot. The Indians turned their toes in a little.

Note 12, page 10: All the Indian tribes of the Western plains and
mountains, and most of the old-time scouts, knew sign language. This was
a language by means of motions of the hands, helped by the body and
face; so that persons could sit and talk together for hours and not
utter a word! In time of danger, when silence is desired, Scouts of
to-day will find the sign language valuable; and by it the Scout of one
country can talk with the Scout of a foreign country.

A book on the "Indian Sign Language" was written in 1884 by Captain W.
P. Clark of the United States Army, and it gives all the signs for
things from A to Z.

Fitzpatrick's sign for "Watch!" was to bring his right hand with back
up, in front of lower part of the face, the first two fingers extended
and separated a little and pointing down the trail. The thumb and other
fingers are closed. The tips of the two fingers represent the two eyes
looking! When he meant "Listen!" he put his hand, palm front, to his
ear, with thumb and first finger open, so that the ear set in the angle
of them; and he wriggled his hands slowly.

Jim Bridger's sign for "Horseback!" was two fingers of one hand placed
astride the edge of the other hand, and the sign for "Wolf!" is the hand
(or both hands) with palm to the front, before the shoulder, and the
first two fingers pricked up, separated like two ears. Then the hand was
moved forward and upward, just a little, like a wolf reconnoitering over
a crest.

Occasionally the sign for something was not precisely the same among all
the Indian tribes. The Pawnee sign for "wolf" was the first finger of
each hand stuck up alongside the head, like ears pricking. But it was a
sign easily read. All the signs were sensible and initiative. When the
"future" was meant, the finger was thrust ahead with a screwing motion,
as if boring; when the "past" was meant, the hand and finger were
extended in front and drawn back with the screwing motion. When he was
full of food the Indian drew his thumb and finger along his body from
his stomach to his throat. When he was hungry he drew the edge of his
hand back and forth across his stomach, as sign that he was being cut in
two. The sign "talk" is to draw the words out of the mouth with thumb
and finger; while to "stop talking" is the same motion half made and
then slashed by the edge of the same hand being brought down through it.
This means "All right," "That's enough," "I understand," and also "Cut
it out!" "Chop it off!"

Years were reckoned as winters, and "winter" is signed by the two
clenched hands shivering in front of the body. Days were "sleeps," and
"sleep" is signed by inclining the head sideways, to rest upon the palm
of the hand. "Man" is the first finger thrust upright, before, because
man walks erect. The "question" sign is the right hand bent up, before,
at the wrist, fingers apart, and turned from side to side. To ask "How
old are you?" the Indian would sign: "You," "winter," "number," "what?"

So Scouts will not find it hard to pick up the sign language; the
motions represent the thing itself. When a sign requires several
motions, a good sign talker will make them all as rapidly as we
pronounce syllables, and he will tell a long story using one hand or
two, as most convenient.


CHAPTER II

Note 13, page 11: The sign for "Bird flying" is the sign for wings. The
two hands are raised opposite the shoulders, palms to the front, fingers
extended and together. Then the hands are waved forward and back, like
wings--slowly for large birds, fast for little birds, to imitate the
bird itself.

Note 14, page 13: A good way to spread the Scout or cowboy tarpaulin bed
is to lay the tarpaulin out at full length, on the smooth place chosen,
and to lay the blankets and quilts, open, full length on top. Both ends
of the tarp are left bare, of course, for the bedding is shorter than
the tarp. Then the whole is turned back upon itself at the middle; one
edge of the tarp is tucked under, and part of the other edge, making a
bag, with leeway enough so that the sleeper can crawl in. Now there is
as much bedding under as over, which is the proper condition when
sleeping out upon the ground. The bare end of the tarp, under, will keep
the pillow off the dirt; the bare end which comes over will cover the
face in case of storm. The Scout has a low, flat bed, which will shed
wind and rain.

Note 15, page 13: A reflector is a handy baker. It is a bright-lined box
like half of a pyramid or half of an oven. The dough is put into it, and
it is set upon its base, open to the fire. The heat strikes it and
reflects upon the dough and the dough bakes. It is simple, and can be
made to fold together, so that it packs easily. Another trapper and
scout method is to smear dough upon a shovel or even a flat, smooth
board, and set it up against the fire. The Mexicans bake their
tortillas, or thin flour cakes, by smearing them upon smooth stones.

Note 16, page 17: Scouts can readily invent a whistle code of their own.
The Western Indians used whistles of bone, in war, and the United States
Army can drill by whistle signals.


CHAPTER III

Note 17, page 21: The teeth are a very important item in Scout service.
If Scouts will notice the soldiers of the United States Army, and the
sailors of the United States Navy, they will notice also that their
teeth are always kept clean and sound. Scouts, no matter where they are,
should brush their teeth well with tooth powder every morning at least;
and should keep them free from particles of food, and should wash their
mouths with a dental antiseptic to kill microbes. Brushed teeth and
combed and brushed hair after the wet rub make the Scout fit for the
day's work. He feels decent.

Note 18, page 25: Scouts who are in camp or on the trail without
fish-hooks and are hard-put to catch fish, may try an old Indian and
scout method. A bent pin sometimes does not work, with large fish; but
the Indians tied a cord or sinew to the end of a small, slender bone,
and again, with a loop, to the middle of the bone.

When the fish swallowed the bait impaled upon the bone, the cord or
sinew hauled the bone by the middle so that it usually snagged in the
fish's throat or gills. A sharp, tough splinter or a small nail will do
the same. Thus:

[Illustration]


CHAPTER IV

Note 19, page 33: Newspaper stuffed into wet boots or shoes helps them
to dry by holding them open and by absorbing the moisture. Of course,
the newspaper should be changed frequently. Warm pebbles poured into wet
boots or shoes dry them quickly, too. A stuffing of dead grass is
another Scouty scheme.

Note 20, page 36: For a leader of a Scouts' party to write up the chief
events of each day's march in a notebook, and to sketch the country
traversed, teaches order and disciplines the memory, and oftentimes will
prove a valuable record.

Note 21, page 38: The right-handed or the left-handed person usually is
right-sided or left-sided, all the way down, but not always. So because
a person is right-handed or left-handed he _probably_ is right-footed or
left-footed, but not _necessarily_ so. Some persons use their left hands
to write with, but throw with their right hands, and are likely to use
either foot. And some may be left-handed but right-footed. A Scout
should learn to use both hands and both feet alike. And he also will
learn not to be cocksure and jump at conclusions. All rules have
exceptions.


CHAPTER V

Note 22, page 39: Scouts will find that weather-signs among the high
mountains are very different from those of the low or the flatter
country. The easiest sign of storm is the night-caps. For when in the
morning the mountains still have their night-caps on, and the clouds
rest like shattered fog in the draws and hollows, the day will surely
have rain, by noon. But among the Rockies there usually is a
thunder-storm in the middle of every day during the summer.

No one wind for all localities brings rain. The weather is interfered
with by the peaks and the valleys. However, here are a few signs to be
noted:

When by day the air is extra clear, so that very distant ridges stand
out sharply, a storm is apt to be brewing.

When the camp-fire smoke bends down, in the still air of midday or
afternoon, a storm is apt to be brewing.

When by night the stars are extra sharp and twinkle less than usual,
overhead, but are dim around the horizon, a storm is apt to be brewing.

When there is a halo or ring around the moon, a storm is apt to be
brewing; and it is claimed that the larger the circle, the nearer the
storm.

When the canvas of the tent stays tight or damp, showing a gathering
dampness, a storm is apt to be brewing.

When ants are noted dragging leaves or twigs across the entrance to
their nest, a storm is near.

The change of the moon is claimed to change the weather also. And an old
maxim says that the third day before the new moon is the sign of the
weather for that moon month. If the new moon comes upon the 10th, then
the weather of the 8th is to be the general weather of the next thirty
days.

Of course, in winter time, or in the late fall or early spring, when the
sun-dogs appear, that is a pretty sure sign of cold weather. The Indians
say that the "sun is painting both cheeks," or that the "sun has built
fires to warm himself."

But Scouts will have difficulty in predicting mountain weather, because
storms are diverted by the peaks, and swing off or are broken up; and
besides, many mountain trails and mountain camps are one mile and two
miles high--above ordinary conditions. The saying is that only fools and
Indians predict weather, in the mountains!

Note 23, page 39: Scouts as well as anybody else should have their teeth
approved of by a dentist, before starting out on the long trail. The
tooth-ache saps the strength, and a cavity might result in a serious
abscess, far from proper treatment.

Note 24, page 40: In the thick timber where there are many trees the
chance of course is less that the tree which you are under will be
struck by the lightning. But to seek refuge under any tree, in a field
or other open place, is dangerous. Many persons are killed, every
summer, by seeking some lone tree or small clump of trees, or a
high-standing tree, in a thunder-storm.

Note 25, page 47: The low soft spot is not so good as the high hard
spot, to sleep on. Green grass is damp, and softness gathers dampness.
Cowboys and rangers always spread their beds on a little elevation,
where the ground is drier and where there is a breeze for ventilation
and to keep the insects away.

Note 26, page 49: Nobody can cook by a big fire, without cooking himself
too! The smaller the fire the better, as long as it is enough. Just a
handful of twigs at a time will cook coffee or roast a chunk of meat. It
is an old scout saying that "Little wood feeds the fire, much wood puts
it out." Cook by coals rather than by flame. In the West cedar makes the
best coals, the cleanest flame; sage makes a very hot fire, and burns to
ashes which hold the fire, but it does not give hard coals. Anything
pitchy smokes the camp.

In the mountains meat wrapped in a gunnysack or a tarpaulin, to protect
from the flies, and hung in the shade and particularly in a tree where
the air circulates, will keep a long, long time.

Note 27, page 49: The brass eyes in the edges of the Elk Scouts' tarps
here would come into good use for stretching the tarp as a low "A"
shelter-tent or dog-tent. The small shelter-tents of the United States
Army are called by the soldiers "pup" tents.

Note 28, page 53: The notion that many persons have, of taking guns with
them into the mountains or the hills, for protection from wild animals,
is a foolish notion. In this day and age the wild animals have been so
disciplined by man that they are afraid of him. They would rather run
than fight; and throughout the greater part of the United States in
North America the animals who _could_ be dangerous are scarce. Guns do
much more harm than the animals themselves; and it is the wounded animal
which _is_ dangerous. To pack a big gun on the ordinary trail through
the wilderness country West or East is the mark of a tenderfoot, unless
the gun is needed for meat. Many and many a seasoned wilderness
dweller--ranger, cowboy, rancher, prospector--travels afoot or horseback
day after day, night after night, and never carries a gun, never needs a
gun.


CHAPTER VI

Note 29, page 61: One of the regulations of the United States Army Pack
Transportation Department says that packers must treat all the mules
kindly, for a mule remembers kindness and never forgets injury. Packers
must not even throw stones, to drive a mule into line. Of course, Boy
Scouts know that kindness with animals always wins out over harshness,
and that there is no greater cowardliness than the abuse of a helpless
beast.

Note 30, page 62: Highness and dryness, wood and water, and grazing for
the animals are the requirements of the Scouts' camp on the pack trail.

Note 31, page 63: By camp law bird or four-foot or other harmless
animals within say two hundred yards of camp is safe from injury by man.
This also prevents reckless shooting about camp. The wild life near camp
is one of the chief charms of camping in the wilderness. No Scout wishes
to leave a trail of blood and murder and suffering, to mark his progress
through meadow and timber.

Note 32, page 67: This division of watches or guards should be noted by
Scouts. Bed-mates or bunkies should not follow one another on guard; for
A wakes B when he crawls out; and after he has changed with B, and has
slept two or three hours, he is waked again by B crawling in. But each
Scout listed for guard duty should so be listed that he is not disturbed
through at least two of the watches.


CHAPTER VII

Note 33, page 72: A "trail" is made up of "sign" or marks which show
that something has passed that way. The overturning of pebbles and
sticks, dryness and wetness of the spots where they were, dryness and
hardness of the edges of footprints, grass pressed down, twigs of bushes
broken, dew disturbed, water muddied, ant-hills crushed--all tell a tale
to the Scout. He must be able to figure out what was the condition of
the trail when the person or animal passed--and that will tell him how
long ago the marks or sign were made. And the shape of the sign, and the
way in which it is laid, tell what manner of person or animal passed,
and how fast. Steps vary in size, and in pressure and in distance apart.
A man at a very hurried walk is apt to leave a deeper toe-print, and a
loaded horse sinks deeper than a light one. A good trailer is a good
guesser, but he is a good guesser because he puts two and two together
and knows that they make four.

Note 34, page 74: A portion of a patrol on a scout should think to leave
private signs, by marks in the dirt or on trees or by twigs bent or by
little heaps of stones, which will tell their comrades what has been
occurring. This the Indians were accustomed to do, especially in a
strange country. To this day little stone-heaps are seen, in the plains
and mountains of the West, marking where Indians had laid a trail.

Note 35, page 77: Great generals and captains make it a point not to do
what the enemy wants them to do or expects them to do, and never to
think that the enemy is less smart than they are themselves. To despise
the enemy is to give him an advantage.


CHAPTER VIII

Note 36, page 88: "Parole" means word of honor not to attempt escape;
and in war when a prisoner of rank gives this promise he is permitted
his freedom within certain limits. Sometimes he is released entirely
upon his promise or parole not to fight again during the war. Paroles
are deemed serious matters, and few men are so reckless and deceitful as
to break them. But of course there are two sides to a parole; and if it
is not accepted as honestly as it is given, then there is no bargain.
But if there is the slightest doubt or argument, then the Scout ought to
stay a prisoner, rather than escape with dishonor, charged with breaking
his word. That the other fellow is dishonest is no excuse for the Scout
being dishonest, too.

Note 37, page 89: The sign for escape is this: Bridger crossed his
wrists, with his fists doubled, and wrenched them apart, upward, as if
breaking a cord binding them. He may have used the "Go" sign, which is
the hand extended, edge up, in front of the hip, and pushed forward with
an upward motion, as if climbing a trail.

Note 38, page 94: An old scout method of tying a prisoner's arms behind
his back is to place the hands there with their backs together, and to
tie the thumbs and the little fingers! This requires only ordinary cord
and not much of it, and even a strip from a handkerchief will do. To
prevent the prisoner from running away, he may be stood up against a
tree and his arms passed behind that, before the hands are tied.


CHAPTER IX

Note 39, page 100: Persons who are lost and are going it blindly on foot
usually keep inclining to the left, because they step a little farther
with the right foot than with the left. After a time they complete a
circle. Scouts should watch themselves and note whether they are making
toward the left or not. Horses, too, are supposed to circle toward the
left. But all this applies chiefly to the level country. In the
mountains and hills the course is irregular, as the person or horse
climbs up and down, picking the easier way. And on a slope anybody is
always slipping downward a little, on a slant toward the bottom, unless
he lines his trail by a tree or rock.

Scouts when they think that they are lost should hold to their good
sense. If they feel themselves growing panicky, they had better sit down
and wait until they can reason things out. The Scout who takes matters
easy can get along for a couple of days until he is found or has worked
himself free; but the Scout who runs and chases and sobs and shrieks
wears himself down so that he is no good.

To be lost among the hills or mountains is much less serious than to be
lost upon the flat plains. The mountains and hills have landmarks; the
plains have maybe none. In the mountains and hills the Scout who is
looking for camp or companions should get up on a ridge, and make a
smoke--the two-smoke "lost" signal--and wait, and look for other smokes.
If he feels that he must travel, because camp is too far or cannot see
his smoke, or does not suspect that he is lost, his best plan is to
strike a stream and stick to it until it brings him out. Travel by a
stream is sometimes jungly; but in the mountains, ranches and cabins are
located beside streams. Downstream is of course the easier direction.

It is a bad plan to try short cuts, when finding a way. The Scout may
think that by leaving a trail or a stream and striking off up a draw or
over a point he will save distance. But there is the chance that he will
not come out where he expects to come out, and that he will be in a
worse fix than before. When a course is once decided upon, the Scout
should follow it through, taking it as easy as possible.

Note 40, page 106: Old-time scouts had to make all their fires by flint
and steel; and it is well for modern Scouts to practice this. When the
ground is too wet, and would be apt to put out the little blaze, the
fire can be started in a frying-pan. Matches are very convenient, but
they must be warded from dampness. They can be carried in a corked
bottle; they can be dipped, before leaving home, in melted paraffin,
which will coat them water-proof; and dampness can be rubbed out of them
by friction by rolling them rapidly between the palms of the hands and
scratching them quick. When every object is soaked through, matches (if
dry) may be lighted upon a stone which has been rubbed violently against
another stone.

If the Scout has a rifle or pistol or gun, then he can make a fire by
shooting powder into a bunch of tinder--raveled handkerchief or coat
lining, or frazzled cedar bark. The bullet or the shot should be drawn
out of the cartridge, and the powder made loose, and the tinder should
be fastened so that it will not be blown away.

In the rain a blanket or coat or hat should be held over the little
blaze, until the flames are strong.

It was the old-time scouts who taught even the Indians to make fire by
flint and steel, or by two flints. Two chunks of granite, especially
when iron is contained, will answer. The Indians previously had used
fire-sticks and were very careful to save coals. But they saw that
"knocking fire out of rocks" was much easier.

Note 41, page 108: Scouts of course know the Big Dipper or the Great
Bear, and the Little Dipper or the Little Bear, in the sky. The Big
Dipper points to the North Star or Pole Star, and the North Star or
Pole Star is the star in the end of the handle of the Little Dipper.
These two formations up above are the Clock of the Heavens.

The "Guardians of the Pole" are the two stars which make the bottom of
the cup of the Big Dipper. They are supposed to be sentinels marching
around and around the tent of the North Star, as they are carried along
by the Big Dipper. For the stars of the Big and the Little Dipper, like
all the other stars, circuit the North Star once in about every
twenty-four hours.

But the old-time scouts of plains and mountains told time by the
"Pointers," which are the two bright stars forming the end of the cup of
the Big Dipper. These point to the Pole Star, and they move just as the
"Guardians of the Pole" move. They are easier to watch than the
"Guardians of the Pole," and are more like an hour-hand. With every hour
they, and the "Guardians of the Pole," and all the Dipper stars move in
the same direction as the sun one and one-half the distance between the
stars forming the top of the Big Dipper's cup. The Scout with a good
memory and a good eye for distance can guess pretty nearly how time
passes.

He has another method, too. The circuit of the stars is not quite the
same as the circuit of the sun; for the stars swing about from
starting-place to starting-place in about four minutes less than
twenty-four hours, so that every month they gain 120 minutes, or two
hours. On May 1, at nine in the evening, the "Pointers" of the Big
Dipper are straight overhead, and point downward at the Pole Star, and
if we could see them twelve hours later, or at nine in the morning, we
should find them opposite, below the Pole Star, and pointing up at it.
On June 1, they would arrive overhead two hours earlier, or at seven in
the evening, and by nine o'clock would be west of overhead, while at
seven and nine in the morning they would be opposite, or halfway around.
On August 1 their halfway places would be at three in the afternoon and
three in the morning.

So, figuring each month, and knowing where the "Pointers" are at nine,
or at midnight, or at three in the morning, the Scout can read, for
several nights running without appreciable change, what time it is. And
on the plains the old trappers were accustomed to look up out of their
buffalo-robes and say, "By the Pointers it is midnight."

The Big Dipper swings on such a wide circle that sometimes it drops into
the hills or into mist. The Little Dipper stays high in the sky.
Therefore sailors choose the two brighter stars in the end of the cup of
the Little Dipper, and watch them, for an hour-hand.

The Blackfeet Indians call the Big Dipper the Seven Brothers, and they,
and also other plains people such as sheep-herders and cowboys, tell the
time by the "Last Brother," which is the star in the end of the handle.
"The Last Brother is pointing to the east," or "The Last Brother is
pointing downwards to the prairie," say the Indians. And by that they
mean the hour is so and so.

Note 42, page 109: The "Papoose on the old Squaw's Back" is a tiny star,
Alcor, very close to the star Mizar which forms the bend in the handle
of the Big Dipper. To see this tiny star is a test for eyesight. The
Sioux Indians say that the Big Dipper is four warriors carrying a
funeral bier, followed by a train of mourners. The second star in the
train (or the star in the bend) is the widow of the slain brave, with
her little child, or the Little Sister, weeping beside her!

The Blackfeet and other Indians say that the Pole Star (which does not
move) is a hole in the sky, through which streams the light from the
magical country beyond. They call it "the star that stands still."

By the "Lost Children" Jim Bridger meant the Pleiades. These stars,
forming a cluster or nebula, sink below the western horizon in the
spring and do not appear in the sky again until autumn; and the
following is the reason why. They were once six children in a Blackfeet
camp. The Blackfeet hunters had killed many buffalo, and among them some
buffalo calves. The little yellow hides of the buffalo calves were given
to the children of the camp to play with, but six of the children were
poor and did not get any. The other children made much fun of the six,
and plagued them so that they drove them out of the camp. After
wandering ashamed and afraid on the prairie, the six finally were taken
up into the sky. So they are not seen in the spring and summer, when the
buffalo calves are yellow; but in the autumn and winter, when the
buffalo calves are black, they come out.

Nearly everybody can see the six stars of the Pleiades, and good
eyesight can make out seven. By turning the head and gazing sideways the
seven are made plainer. An English girl has eyesight so remarkable that
she has counted twelve.

The Western Indians have had names for many of the stars and the planets
and the constellations, and the night sky has been of much company and
use to them and to the old plainsmen and mountaineers, just as it was to
Jim Bridger at this time.

Mars is "Big-Fire-Star"; Jupiter is "Morning Star," or when evening star
is "The Lance"; Venus is "Day Star," because sometimes it is so bright
that it can be seen in the day. Scouts should know by the almanac what
is the morning star, and then when it rises over the camp or the trail
they are told that morning is at hand.

Note 43, page 110: Sunday comes to the trail, to the mountains and
plains and field and forest, just as often as to the town and the farm.
The Scout will feel much better, mentally and physically, when he
observes Sunday. This one day in the seven can be made different by a
change from the ordinary routine: by a good cleaning up; by only a short
march, just enough for exercise; by a whole day in camp, if possible; by
an avoidance of harm to bird or beast; by some _especial_ arrangement,
which will say, "This is Sunday." The real Jedediah Smith, fur-hunter
and explorer, found as much profit in his Bible as in his rifle, amidst
the wilderness; and the Scout of to-day should include the Bible in the
outfit. It reads well out in the great open, it is full of nature lore
of sky and water and earth, and it is a great comforter and sweetener of
trail and camp.


CHAPTER X

Note 44, page 112: The smoke signal has been in use for many, many
years. The Indians of the West used it much, and whenever an army
detachment or other strangers traversed the plains and the hills their
course was marked by the smoke signals of Indian scouts. To make smoke
signals, first a moderate blaze is started; then damp or green stuff is
piled on, for a smudge; and the column of smoke is cut into puffs by a
blanket or coat held over like a cup and suddenly jerked off. A high
place should be selected for the smoke signal, so as to distinguish it
from the ordinary camp-fire, which is not as a rule made on a high
place,--that is, in hostile country. A still day is necessary for
accurate smoke signaling. This signaling is being recommended for the
United States Forestry Service, so that Rangers and Guards can
telegraph warnings and news by the Morse or the Army and Navy alphabet.
A short puff would be the dot, a long puff the dash; or one short puff
would be "1," two short puffs close together "2," and a long puff "3."
This Army and Navy code is explained under Note 48.

The Indians had secret codes, for the smoke signals; and used dense
smokes and thin smokes, both. Green pine and spruce and fire boughs
raise a thick black smoke.

In army scouting on the plains the following signals were customary:

"Wish to communicate." Three smokes side by side.

"Enemy discovered." Two puffs, repeated at fifteen-minute intervals. Boy
Scouts need not have the intervals so long. One minute is enough, for a
standard.

"Many enemy discovered." Three puffs, at intervals.

"Come to council," or "Join forces." Four puffs, repeated.

"March to the north." Two smokes, of two puffs each.

"March to the south." Two smokes, of three puffs each.

"March to the east." Three smokes, of two puffs each.

"March to the west." Three smokes, of three puffs each.

Plainsmen and woodsmen understand the following signals also:

"Camp is here." One smoke, one puff at intervals.

"Help. I am lost." Two fires, occasional single puffs.

"Good news." Three steady smokes.

Scouts' patrols can invent their own code of smokes, by number of
smokes, by puffs, and by intervals between puffs. Of course, the single
fire is much more easily managed by one person.

Note 45, page 116: The Red Fox Scouts probably carried with them a
liquid carbolic and antiseptic soap, which comes put up in small
bottles with patent shaker stoppers. A few drops of this in some water
makes a splendid wash for wounds, and is harmless. Druggists and
surgical supply stores can furnish Scouts with this soap. Being
non-poisonous, good for a gargle as well as for external use, it is
superior to many other antiseptic washes. A spool of surgeons' adhesive
tape, say three-quarter inch wide, a roll of sterilized absorbent
cotton, and a roll of sterilized gauze will of course be included in the
Scouts' first-aid kit.


CHAPTER XI

Note 46, page 124: Bichloride of mercury is a strong antiseptic, and
much favored for disinfecting dishes and other vessels used by sick
people. It is convenient to carry, in a form known as Bernay's tablets.
They come white or blue, and one is dissolved in water to make a
solution. They are very poisonous, internally, and Scouts must look out
that none of the solution enters the stomach. Of course, there are many
antiseptic substances for washing wounds: potash and borax are good,
especially in the form of potassium permanganate and boric acid.
Anything in a tablet or a powdery form is easier to pack than anything
in a liquid form. Wounds must be kept surgically clean, which means
"aseptic" or perfectly free of poisoning microbes, or else there may be
blood-poisoning. So Scouts should be careful that their fingers and
whatever else touches a wound also are surgically clean, by being washed
well in some antiseptic. Cloths and knife blades, etc., can be made
clean by being boiled for ten minutes.


CHAPTER XII

Note 47, page 133: When a Scout would climb a tree which looks hard,
particularly a large-trunk tree, he can work a scheme by connecting his
ankles with a soft rope or a handkerchief, or the like, measuring about
two thirds around the trunk. Then when he hitches up along the trunk he
gets a splendid purchase. Several strands of rope are better than one,
so that they will not slip. And if the rope or cloth is wet, it will
stick better.

Note 48, page 140: All Scouts should know how to wigwag messages. There
are three alphabets which may be used in telegraphing by wigwagging with
a flag or with the cap: the American Morse, such as is used in this
country by the regular telegraph, the Continental Morse, and the Army
and Navy. The American Morse is dots and dashes and spaces; but the
Continental Morse is different, because it does not have any spaces. It
is employed in Europe and in submarine cable work. The United States
Army and Navy have their own wigwag alphabet, which is named the Myer
alphabet, in compliment to Brevet Brigadier-General Albert J. Myer, the
first chief signal officer of the Army, appointed in 1860. Commonly the
system is known as the Army and Navy.

Scouts will find that knowing the American Morse or dot-and-dash
telegraph signs will be of much value because these can be used both in
wigwag and in electric-wire work; but Scouts to be of assistance to
their country in military time must know the Army and Navy alphabet,
which is easier to learn.

Instead of the dot and the dash and the space, the figures 1, 2, and 3
are used. The figure 1, like the wigwag dot, is a quick sweep of the
flag to the right, from the perpendicular to the level of the waist, or
one quarter of a circle. The figure 2 is a similar sweep to the left.
The figure 3 is a "front," or sweeping the flag straight down, before,
and instantly returning it to the upright again. The perpendicular or
upright is the beginning of every motion. The "front" ends things:
words, sentences, messages, etc.

Here is the Army and Navy alphabet: "A," you see, would be dip to left,
and return; to left, and return. "B," a left, a right, a right, and a
left.

A   22
B   2112
C   121
D   222
E   12
F   2221
G   2211
H   122
I   1
J   1122
K   2121
L   221
M   1221
N   11
O   21
P   1212
Q   1211
R   211
S   212
T   2
U   112
V   1222
W   1121
X   2122
Y   111
Z   2222

FIGS.

1   1111
2   2222
3   1112
4   2221
5   1122
6   2211
7   1222
8   2111
9   1221
0   2112

ABBREVIATIONS

a  is for after
b         before
c         can
h         have
n         not
r         are
t         the
u         you
ur        your
w         word
wi        with
y         yes
1112      tion

SIGNS

End of word                3
End of sentence            33
End of message             333
Numerals follow (or end)   X X 3
Signature follows          Sig 3
Error                      E E 3
I understand (O. K.)       A A 3
Cease signaling            A A A 333
Cipher follows (or ends)   X C 3
Wait a moment              1111 3
Repeat after (word)        C C 3 A 3 (give word)
Repeat last word           C C 33
Repeat last message        C C C 333
Move little to right       R R 3
Move little to left        L L 3
Signal faster              2212 3
Permission granted         P G 3
Permission not granted     N G 3

The address in full of a message is considered as one sentence, ended by
3 or a "front," and return to perpendicular.

This Army and Navy alphabet is easier to read, because it does away with
the pausing or lengthening of the motions, to make the spaces which help
to form some of the Morse letters. Every letter is reeled straight off
without a break.

Two flags are used in wigwagging. A white flag with a red square in the
center is used against a dark background; a red flag with a white square
in the center is used against the sky or against a mixed background. But
of course in emergency anything must be tried, and for a short distance
the Scout can use his hat or cap, or handkerchief, or even his arm
alone. The motions should be sharp and quick and distinct, with a
perpendicular between each motion and a "front" between words. The Army
rate with the large service flag is five or six words a minute.

The beam of a searchlight is used just as a flag is used, to sweep
upward for "perpendicular," downward for "front," and to right and to
left. Another system of night signaling is by lantern or torch; but it
should be swung from the knees up and out, for right or 1, up and out in
opposite direction for left, or 2, and raised straight up for "front" or
3. Four electric lamps in a row, which flash red and white in various
combinations, colored fires, bombs and rockets, also make night signals.

For daytime signaling the United States Army favors the mirror or
heliograph (sun-writing) system. The 1 is a short flash, the 2 is two
short flashes, the 3 is a long, steady flash. This system can be read
through 100 and 150 miles.

The United States Navy employs a two-arm or a two-flag system, which by
different slants and angles of the arms or flags signals by the Army and
Navy code. It is called the Semaphore system--like the semaphore block
signals of railroads. It is more convenient for windy weather, because
the flags are shorter and smaller than the flags of the three-motion
wigwag.

Scouts should have in their library a copy of the United States Signal
Corps booklet, "Manual of Visual Signaling," which can be had at a small
price from the Government Printing Office at Washington. This tells all
about the different systems of day and night signaling, and shows
alphabets, signal flags, codes, ciphers, and so forth.

The Indians of the plains and mountains have had systems of signaling as
perfect as those of the Army and Navy. In early days of the Army on the
plains, the Indians passed news along among themselves over long
distances faster than it was passed by the military telegraph. They used
a smoke code; and they used also mirror-flashes, blanket-waving,
pony-running, foot-running, and hand gestures.

Their secret signals were never told; no threats or bribes could make an
Indian divulge his tribal or his band code. Not even the white men who
lived with the Indians could learn it. Once some Army officers watched a
Sioux chief, posted on a little knoll, drill his red cavalry for an
hour, without a word or a gesture; all he used was a little
looking-glass held in the palm of his hand.

However, some of the signs were general. A tremulous motion or flash
meant game or enemy. Several quick flashes, close together, meant "Come
on." A beam to the left meant "By the left"; to the right meant "By the
right."

When looking for buffalo, the number of flashes would tell how many
bands of buffalo were sighted, and a quivering motion would bid the
hunters to "Come on."

Scouts will find some blanket signs handy. If the blanket is too large
to manage, fold it once.

"Who are you?" Hold the blanket by the two upper corners, in front, and
bend with it far to the right and to the left.

"We want peace." Hold the blanket by the two upper corners, in front,
and bending forward lay it flat upon the ground.

"Keep away," or "No." Hold up the blanket, grasping the two upper
corners. Cross the arms, still with hands grasping the corners. Bring
right arm back to front and right, almost opening the blanket again.
Repeat.

"Go back" or "Hide." Hold up blanket by two corners opposite right
shoulder, and swing it to right and down, several times.

"Alarm!" Toss the blanket several times, as high as possible.

"Something (or somebody) in sight." Hold up blanket by the two corners
opposite right shoulder. Then swing the right corner around to left and
to right. Repeat.

"Come on" or "Approach." Hold blanket up by two upper corners in front
of the body. Swing the right arm and corner to the left. Repeat.

Pony-running signals are usually in a circle, or forward and backward,
on the side of a hill or the crest. If the movements are fast, then the
news is exciting and important. If they are made in full view of the
surrounding country, then the danger is not close. If they are made
under cover, then the danger is near. If they are made under cover and
the rider suddenly stops and hides, then everybody must hide, or
retreat, for the enemy is too strong. The bigger the movements, the
more the enemy or the more the game. A dodging zigzag course shows that
the scout is pursued or apt to be pursued. A furious riding back and
forth along a crest means that a war party is returning successful. Boy
Scouts can make the motions on foot, and by a code of circles and figure
eights, etc., can signal many things.

Signals by the hand and arm alone are convenient to know.

"Who are you?" is made by waving the right hand to right and to left in
quick succession.

"We are friends" is made by raising both hands and grasping the left
with the right, as if shaking hands.

"We are enemies" is made by placing the right fist against the forehead,
and turning it from side to side.

"Halt" or "Keep away" is made by raising the right hand, palm to the
front, and moving it forward and back.

"Come" is made by raising right hand, back to front, and beckoning with
a wide sweep forward and in again, repeating.

For distance two-arm signals are better than one-arm; and Scouts should
have a short code in two-arms. Both arms stretched wide may mean "Go
back" or "Halt"; both arms partly dropped may mean "No," partly raised
may mean "Yes." And so on. These were plain signals.

Note 49, page 141: A sprain, such as a sprained wrist or ankle, for
instance, is a serious injury, and must not be made light of or
neglected. If not properly and promptly treated, it is likely to leave
the cords or ligaments permanently weak. When treatment may begin at
once, the injured joint should be laid bare, even if by cutting the shoe
instead of unlacing it and pulling it off, and the coldest water should
be applied lavishly. The joint may well be plunged into an icy spring or
stream, or held under a running faucet. If the joint can be kept
elevated, so that the blood will not flow into it so readily, so much
the better.

If some distance has to be covered before the injured person arrives in
reach of treatment, the shoe might as well remain on, to act as a
bandage and a support--although it probably will have to be cut off
later. If the joint is not the ankle joint, a tight, stout bandage
should be fastened around. Nobody should try to step upon his sprained
ankle or use his sprained wrist, or whatever joint it may be.

After swelling has set in very hot water is said to be superior to very
cold water; the very hot and the very cold have much the same effect,
anyway. But the water application should be kept up for at least
twenty-four hours, and the wounded place must not be moved one particle
for several days. When the time comes to move it, it should be wrapped
with a supporting bandage.

General Ashley probably had a hard time with his neglected ankle.


CHAPTER XIII

Note 50, page 147: The cache (which is a French word and is pronounced
"cash") or hiding-place is a genuine scout invention. Long ago the
trappers and traders of the plains and mountains, when they had more
pelts or more supplies than they could readily carry, would "cache"
them. The favorite way was to dig a hole, and gradually enlarge it
underground, like a jug. The dirt was laid upon a blanket and emptied
into a stream, so that it would not be noticed. Then the hole was lined
with dry sticks or with blankets, the pelts or supplies were packed
inside, and covered with buffalo robe or tarpaulin; and the earth was
tamped in solidly. Next a fire was built on top, that the ashes might
deceive Indians and animals. Or the tent or lodge was erected over the
spot for a few days. At any rate, all traces of the hiding-place were
wiped out, and landmarks were noted well.

It was considered a serious offense for one white man to molest the
cache of another white man, unless to save his own life. And to rob a
cache of the furs was worse than stealing horses.

All caches were not alike. Some were holes, others were caves into
banks. When Scouts of to-day make a cache, they must record the location
exceedingly well and close, or they are apt to lose the spot. It seems
very easy to remember trees and rocks and all; but anybody who has laid
a rabbit down, while he chased another, and then has thought to go
straight and pick it up again--or anybody who has searched for a
golf-ball when he knew exactly where it lit--will realize that a cache
may be very tricky.

Note 51, page 152: The homeopathic preparation of aconite is highly
recommended by many woodsmen and other travelers as a good thing to have
in the trail medicine kit. A few drops will kill a fever or a cold.
Dover's Powder (in small doses, by causing perspiration and thus
checking a fever or throwing off a cold), quinine, calomel (for
biliousness and to clean out the intestines when they are clogged with
waste and mucus), Epsom salts or castor oil (to clean out the bowels
also), an emetic, like sirup of ipecac (to empty the stomach quickly in
case of emergency), some mustard for making a plaster for the chest (in
croupiness or cold inside the chest), or for mixing with warm water to
make an emetic, extract of ginger or sirup of ginger (for summer
complaint and griping looseness of the bowels if long continued),
perhaps some soda mint tablets (for sour stomach caused by overeating),
are other simple remedies. Of course the Scout should learn to read the
little clinical thermometer, and one should be carried in the trail kit.

It is much better to know exactly how to use a few simple standard
remedies, than to experiment with a lot of powerful drugs and very
likely make terrible mistakes. To give a medicine without being certain
just why and just what it will do is as bad as pointing a gun at
somebody without knowing whether or not it is loaded. Doctors study hard
for years, before they begin to practice; and Scouts cannot expect to
make doctors of themselves in a few months. Head cool, feet warm, bowels
open, moderate eating--these are United States Army rules, and Scouts'
rules too. "An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure"!
Scouts who take care of their bodies properly will rarely need medicine,
and should be proud of the fact.

Note 52, page 153: In 1909, in California alone, out of 388 forest fires
243, or almost two thirds, were caused by human beings' carelessness;
and 119, or almost one third, were caused by camp-fires! The money loss
to the state was $1,000,000; but this was not all the damage. A forest,
or a single tree, is not replaced in a year, or in ten years; and the
stately evergreen trees grow slowest of all.

California claims that if a few plain rules were observed, in that state
alone 500 out of 575 forest fires would not occur. Some of these rules
are:

1. Never throw aside matches, or lighted or smoldering stuff, where
anything can possibly catch from it.

2. Camp-fires should be as small as will serve. (Most campers build
fires too large, and against trees or logs whence they will be sure to
spread.)

3. Don't build fires in leaves, rotten wood or sawdust, or pine needles.

4. Don't build fires against large or hollow logs where it is hard to
see that they are not put out. They eat in.

5. Don't build fires under low evergreens, or where a flame may leap to
a branch, or sparks light upon a branch.

6. In windy weather and in dangerous places camp-fires should be
confined in trenches, or an open spot be chosen and the ground first
cleared of all vegetable matter.

7. Never leave a fire, even for a short time, until you are certain that
it is out. Wet it thoroughly, to the bottom, or else stamp it out and
pile on sand or dirt.

8. Never pass by a fire in grass, brush, or timber, which is unguarded
and which you can see is likely to spread. Extinguish it; or if it is
beyond your control, notify the nearest ranch, town, or forest official.

These regulations are for Boy Scouts to remember and to observe, no
matter where the trail leads.


CHAPTER XIV

Note 53, page 161: A fire line is a cleared strip, sometimes only ten,
sometimes, where the brush is thick, as much as sixty feet wide, running
through the timber and the bushes, as a check to the blaze. An old
wood-road, or a regular wagon-road, or a logging-trail, or a pack-trail
is used as a fire line, when possible; but when a fire line must be
cleared especially, it is laid from bare spot to bare spot and along
the tops of ridges. A fire travels very fast up-hill, but works slowly
in getting across. Scouts should remember this important fact: The
steeper the hill, the swifter the fire will climb it.

There are three kinds of forest fires: Surface fires, which burn just
the upper layer of dry leaves and dry grass, brush, and small trees;
ground fires, which burn deep amidst sawdust or pine needles or peat;
and crown fires, which travel through the tops of the trees. Fires start
as surface fires, and then can be beaten out with coats and sacks and
shovels, and stopped by hoe and spade and plow. The ground fire does not
look dangerous, but it is, and it is hard to get at. Crown fires are
surface fires which have climbed into the trees and are borne along in
prodigious leaps by the wind. They are the most vicious and the worst to
fight.

The duty of Scouts is to jump upon a surface fire and kill it before it
becomes a sly ground fire or a raving crown fire.

Note 54, page 171: Even the best surgeons nowadays "fuss" with deep
wounds as little as possible. They clean the deep wound, by washing it
as well as they can, to remove dirt and other loose foreign particles;
then they cover gently with a sterilized pad, and bandage, to keep
microbes away, and Nature does the rest. In the days when our fathers
were boys, salves and arnica and all kinds of messy stuff were used; but
the world has found that all Nature asks is a chance to go ahead,
herself, without interference.

Unless a bullet, even, is lodged where it irritates a nerve or a muscle
or disturbs the workings of some organ of the body, the surgeon is apt
to let it stay, until Nature has tried to throw a wall about it and
enclose it out of the way.

So the less a Scout pokes at a deep wound, the better. He can wash it
out with hot water, and maybe can pick out particles of visible dirt or
splinters with forceps which have been boiled for ten minutes. Then he
can bandage it loosely, and wait for Nature or a surgeon.


CHAPTER XVI

Note 55, page 186: The Elks by this time had lost their pack-saddles and
panniers, which had been cached with other stuff after the two burros
were stolen by the renegades. They had lost also their lash ropes with
the cinchas; so that it was necessary to throw some pack-hitch that did
not require a cincha and hook. One of the easiest of such hitches is the
squaw-hitch. The tarps were spread out and the camp stuff was folded in
so that the result was a large, soft pad, with nothing to hurt Apache's
back. Then the hitch was thrown with one of the ropes, as follows:

[Illustration: Fig. I.]

[Illustration: Fig. II.]

[Illustration: Fig. III.]

Figure I is a double bight, which is laid over the top of the pack, so
that the two loops hang, well down, half on each side. "X"-"Y" is the
animal's back. Take the end of the rope, "c," and pass it under the
animal's belly, and through loop "a" on the other side; pass rope end
"d" under and through loop "b," the same way. Next bring them back to
the first side again, and through the middle place "e," as shown by
dotted lines of Figure II. Keep all the ropes well separated, where they
bite into the pack and into the animal's stomach, and draw taut, and
fasten with a hitch at "e." The result will look like Figure III.

The diamond hitch _can_ be tied by using a loop instead of the cincha
hook.

Note 56, page 193: Pack animals and saddle-horses do much better on the
trail if they can be permitted to graze free, or only hobbled. They like
to forage about for themselves, and usually will eat more and better
grass than when tied by a picket rope. During the first three or four
days out, horse or mule is apt to wander back to the home pasture.
Hobbles can be bought or made. When bought, they are broad, flexible
strips of leather about eighteen inches long, with cuffs which buckle
around each fore leg above the hoof. Hobbles can be made on the spot by
twisting soft rope from fore leg to fore leg and tying the ends by
lapping in the middle.

It is safer to picket a horse by a rope upon the neck rather than upon
the leg. He is not so apt to injure himself by pulling or running. A
picket rope is forty feet long. To loop it securely about the neck,
measure with the end about the neck, and at the proper place along the
rope tie a single knot; knot the end of the rope, and passing it about
the neck thrust the knotted end through the single knot. Here is a loop
that cannot slip and choke the horse, and can easily be untied.

Sometimes the loose end of the picket rope may be fastened to a tree, or
to a bush. A horse should be picketed out from trees, or in the center
of an open space, so that he cannot wind the rope about a tree and hold
himself too short to graze. Sometimes the free end is fastened to a
stake or picket-pin driven into the ground. But if there is no pin, and
no tree or bush is handy, then a "dead-man" may be used. This is an old
scout scheme. The rope is tied to a stick eighteen inches long, or to a
bunch of sticks, or to a bunch of brush, or to a stone; and this buried
a foot and a half or two feet, and the earth or sand tamped upon it.
Thus it is wedged fast against any ordinary pull. By this scheme a horse
may be picketed out on the bare desert.

When an animal is allowed to graze free, a good plan is to have a loose
rope twenty or thirty feet in length trail from his neck as he grazes.
This is another scout scheme, used by Indians, trappers, and cowboys.
When the animal declines to be bridled or grasped by the mane, the
trailing rope usually can be caught up. Indians and trappers when riding
depended much upon this trailing rope, so that when thrown they could
grab it instantly, and mount again.


CHAPTER XVII

Note 57, page 206: Flowers as well as animals have their place and their
rights; and they as well as the animals help to make the great
out-of-doors different from the in-doors. A Scout never destroys
anything uselessly or "for fun."

Note 58, page 211: Scouts should learn how to repair dislocations of the
jaw, the finger, and the shoulder, as these are the least difficult and
the most frequent. A dislocation can be told from a fracture of the bone
by a twisting of the hand or the foot, and by a shortening or a
lengthening of the arm or leg, according to whether the head of the bone
has slipped _up_ from the socket, or _down_. And there is neither
feeling nor sound of the broken bones grating against each other. _But
never go ahead blindly._

A Scout who dislocates his own hip, far from help, should try lashing
his leg to a tree, and on his back, clasping another tree, should pull
himself forward with all his strength. But a dislocation of the knee is
much more delicate to manage, and with that or a dislocated elbow the
Scout can contrive to get to a surgeon.

Note 59, page 214: Yes, Scouts can always manage. The quickest way to
make a blanket stretcher is to double the blanket, tie each pair of
corners with a non-slipping knot, and pass a pole through the fold on
one edge and through the knotted corners of the other. The quickest way
to make a coat stretcher is to take two coats, turn the sleeves of one
or of both inside, lay the coats inside up, or sleeves up, with the
tails touching at the edges. Thrust a pole through each line of sleeves,
and button each coat over the poles.

Three or four belts or other straps such as camera straps slung between
poles form an emergency litter or seat; and a man who can sit up can be
carried in a chair made by a pole or rifle thrust through the sleeves of
a coat, and the coat-tail tied fast to another pole or rifle.

When an injured person is too sore to be moved from blanket to litter,
an old scout method is this: Three cross-pieces or short poles are
lashed to connect the two long poles or side poles. One short piece
forms each end and one crosses the middle, thus:

[Illustration]

This frame is lowered over the patient, and the blanket that he is on is
fastened to its edges. Then when the litter is ready, he is in it
already! The middle cross-piece is handy for him to grasp, for steadying
himself.

Small stones rolled in the corners of blankets make a purchase for the
wrappings, and the knots will not slip.

Scouts may make chairs by clasping hands; but an easy way is to have the
patient sit upon a short board or short pole resting in the hollow of
the bearers' arms.

In smooth country, and when the sick or wounded person is not too badly
off, the Indian and trapper "travois" or horse litter may be employed.
Two elastic poles about fifteen feet long are united by cross-pieces,
ladder style; and with two ends slung one upon either side of the horse,
and the other two ends dragging, are trailed along behind the horse. The
poles should be springy, so as to lessen the jar from rough places.

If there is another steady horse, the rear ends of the litter can be
slung upon it, instead of resting on the ground. This is another old
scout and Indian method.


CHAPTER XVIII

Note 60, page 216: "Jerked" meat is another genuinely scout institution,
and has been well known to Indians and trappers and hunters in the West
since early times. The air of the Western plains and mountains is very
dry and pure. Venison or bear-meat or beef, when raw may be cut into
strips two fingers wide, a half or three quarters of an inch thick, and
six or seven inches long, and hung up in the sun. In about three days it
is hard and leathery, and may be carried about until eaten. It may be
eaten by chewing at it as it is, or it may be fried. Scouts will find
that, while traveling, a couple of slices of this jerked meat, chewed
and swallowed, keeps up the strength finely.

When a camp is in a hurry, the meat may be strung over a slow fire, to
make it dry faster; and it may be cured faster yet by smoking, as the
Elks cured it. Some persons use salt; and if they have time they
sprinkle the pile of strips, when fresh, with salt, and fold them in the
animal's green hide, to pickle and sweat for twenty-four hours. But salt
is not needed; and of course the Indians and the old-time scout trappers
never had salt. Trappers sometimes used a sprinkle of gunpowder for
salt; and that is an army makeshift, too.

After a buffalo hunt the Indian villages were all festooned with jerked
meat, strung on scaffolds and among the teepees. Traders and emigrants
jerked the meat by stringing it along the outside of their wagons and
drying it while on the move.

Note 61, page 217: This is the Indian and trapper method of dressing
skins, and is easy for any Scout of to-day. The skin is stretched, hair
side down, between pegs, or over a smooth bowlder or log, while it is
fresh or green, and with a knife or bone, not too sharp, is scraped
until the mucus-like thin inner coating is scraped away. This is called
"graining." In the old-time scout's lodge or camp there always was a
"graining block"--a smooth stump or log set up for the pelts to fit over
while being scraped. Do not scrape so deep as to cut the roots of the
hair. Next the pelt is dried. Then it is covered with a mixture of the
brains and pure water, and soaked, and it is rubbed and worked with both
hands until the brains have been rubbed in and until the skin is rubbed
dry and soft. Next it is laid over a willow frame, or hung up, open, and
smoked for twelve hours or so. Now it is soft and unchangeable,
forever.

When white clay or gypsum was near, the Indians would mix that with
water until the fluid was the color of milk and four times as thick.
Before the skin was smoked it was smeared plentifully with this, and
allowed to dry. Then it was rubbed a long time, until it was soft and
flexible and the clay had all been rubbed away. This took out the stains
and made the skin white.

Note 62, page 222: Aluminum is not dangerous to cook in. Tin sometimes
unites with acids in foods, or in certain liquids, and gives off a
poison. Tin also rusts, but aluminum does not. And aluminum is much the
lighter in weight, and is a better heat conductor, therefore cooking
quicker.

Note 63, page 223: "Levez!" is what the old-time scouts-trappers ought
to have said. It is the French for "Rise! Get up!" But some trappers
said "Leve! Leve!" and some called "Lave!" thinking that they were using
the Spanish verb "Lavar," meaning to wash.


CHAPTER XIX

Note 64, page 236: Scouts should bear in mind that practically every
illness demands a cleaning out of the bowels, by a prompt laxative or by
a mild cathartic, in the very beginning. This carries off the poisons
that feed the illness. And Scouts should bear in mind that for a pain
which indicates appendicitis, an ice-cold pack and not a hot pack is the
proper application. The ice-cold pack drives the blood away from the
appendix, and keeps it more normal until the surgeon can arrive. A hot
pack draws the blood to the region and congests or swells the appendix
all the more. Irritated thus, the appendix is apt to burst. The prompt
attention to the bowels is _always_ necessary.


CHAPTER XX

Note 65, page 251: In the dark a horse or mule will smell out the trail
where other horses and mules have passed. The mule has been supposed to
have a better nose than the horse, for trails and for water--and for
Indians. In the camps of emigrants and trappers and other overland
travelers, of the old days, the mules would smell approaching Indians
and give the alarm.


CHAPTER XXI

Note 66, page 260: Among the Western Indians their scouts were
especially selected young men, and these were likened to wolves. They
were instructed "to be wise as well as brave; to look not only to the
front, but to the right and left, behind them, and at the ground; to
watch carefully the movements of all wild animals, from buffalo to
birds; to wind through ravines and the beds of streams; to walk on hard
ground or where there is grass, so as to leave no trail; to move with
great care so as not to disturb any wild animals; and to return with
much speed should they discover anything to report." When the scout
returned with news of a war-party, he howled like a wolf.

"To scout" was the wolf sign, with the hand turning to right and to left
and downward, like wolf ears pricking in all directions.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pluck on the Long Trail - Boy Scouts in the Rockies" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home