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Title: Camp Fires of the Wolf Patrol
Author: Douglas, Alan
Language: English
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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.

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CAMP FIRES OF THE WOLF PATROL

       *       *       *       *       *

Primrose Edition

[Illustration: THE HICKORY RIDGE BOY SCOUTS]

A SERIES OF BOYS' BOOKS

By CAPTAIN ALAN DOUGLAS

Scout Master


I. The Camp Fires of the Wolf Patrol

      Their first camping experience affords the scouts
      splendid opportunities to use their recently acquired
      knowledge in a practical way. Elmer Chenowith, a lad
      from the north-west woods, astonishes everyone with
      his familiarity with camp life. A clean, wholesome
      story every boy should read.


II. Woodcraft; or, How a Patrol Leader Made Good

      This tale presents many stirring situations in which
      some of the boys are called upon to exercise all their
      ingenuity and unselfishness. A story filled with
      healthful excitement.


III. Pathfinder; or, The Missing Tenderfoot

      Some mysteries are cleared up in a most unexpected
      way, greatly to the credit of our young friends. A
      variety of incidents follow fast, one after the other.


IV. Fast Nine; or, a Challenge From Fairfield

      They show the same team-work here as when in camp. The
      description of the final game with the team of a rival
      town, and the outcome thereof, form a stirring
      narrative. One of the best baseball stories of recent
      years.


V. Great Hike; or, The Pride of The Khaki Troop

      After weeks of preparation the scouts start out on
      their greatest undertaking. Their march takes them far
      from home, and the good-natured rivalry of the
      different patrols furnishes many interesting and
      amusing situations.


VI. Endurance Test; or, How Clear Grit Won the Day

      Few stories "get" us more than illustrations of pluck
      in the face of apparent failure. Our heroes show the
      stuff they are made of and surprise their most ardent
      admirers. One of the best stories Captain Douglas has
      written.

  _Cloth Binding_       _Cover Illustrations in Four Colors_

  THE NEW YORK BOOK COMPANY
  147 FOURTH AVENUE (near 14th St.) NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

CAMP FIRES OF THE WOLF PATROL


COMPLETE ROSTER, WHEN THE PATROLS WERE FILLED, OF

THE HICKORY RIDGE TROOP OF BOY SCOUTS

MR. RODERIC GARRABRANT, SCOUT MASTER

       *       *       *       *       *

THE WOLF PATROL

ELMER CHENOWITH, Patrol Leader, and also Assistant Scout Master

  MARK CUMMINGS
    TED (THEODORE) BURGOYNE
      TOBY (TOBIAS) ELLSWORTH JONES
        "LIL ARTHA" (ARTHUR) STANSBURY
          CHATZ (CHARLES) MAXFIELD
            PHIL (PHILIP) DALE
              GEORGE ROBBINS


THE BEAVER PATROL

MATTY (MATTHEW) EGGLESTON, Patrol Leader

  "RED" (OSCAR) HUGGINS
    TY (TYRUS) COLLINS
      JASPER MERRIWEATHER
        TOM CROPSEY
          LARRY (LAWRENCE) BILLINGS
            HEN (HENRY) CONDIT
              LANDY (PHILANDER) SMITH


THE EAGLE PATROL

  JACK ARMITAGE, Patrol Leader
  NAT (NATHAN) SCOTT

(OTHERS TO BE ENLISTED UNTIL THIS PATROL HAS REACHED ITS LEGITIMATE
NUMBER)

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: It proved to be interesting work.]


The Hickory Ridge Boy Scouts

[Illustration Border]

Number One

CAMP FIRES OF THE WOLF PATROL

by

CAPTAIN ALAN DOUGLAS SCOUT MASTER



[Illustration]

The New York Book Company
New York

Copyright, 1912, by
The New York Book Company



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                 PAGE
     I.--IN CAMP ON THE SWEETWATER                 17
    II.--THE SUDDEN PERIL                          26
   III.--GINGER PLAYS WITH FIRE                    33
    IV.--A NEVER-TO-BE-FORGOTTEN SUPPER            41
     V.--WHAT WAS IT?                              49
    VI.--THE BOY SCOUTS' WATER-BOILING TEST        57
   VII.--THE LOST SKY TRAVELER                     65
  VIII.--A BLAZED TRAIL                            73
    IX.--WHAT THE LONE CABIN CONTAINED             81
     X.--WIGWAGGING FROM THE MOUNTAIN PEAK         89
    XI.--THE HAIRY THIEF THAT WALKED ON TWO LEGS   97
   XII.--LAYING A GHOST                           105
  XIII.--TAKEN BY SURPRISE                        113
   XIV.--THE THINGS THAT MAKE BOYS MANLY          121
    XV.--HOW THE TRAP WORKED                      129
   XVI.--THE LAST FLICKERING CAMP FIRE DIES OUT   137



CAMP FIRES OF THE WOLF PATROL



THE HICKORY RIDGE BOY SCOUTS

CAMP FIRES OF THE WOLF PATROL.



CHAPTER I.

IN CAMP ON THE SWEETWATER.


A TROOP of khaki-clad boys had been marching, rather wearily perhaps,
along a road that, judging from all indications, was not very much used
by the natives.

The afternoon was waning, so that a summer's night would soon begin to
close in around them. Dense woods lay in all directions, the foliage of
which had afforded very pleasant shelter from the fierce rays of the
August sun. "Halt!" came the loud order.

"Hurrah! we're going into our first camp, fellows!"

"Is that so, Mr. Garrabrant?"

"Pull off your lids, boys, and give a salute!"

"What a dandy old place for a camp. How d'ye suppose he came to pick
this out, Elmer?"

"That's as easy to tell as falling off a log, Toby. We have to use water
to cook with; and just notice this fine stream running past us,"
returned the boy addressed, who seemed to be the second in command of
the detachment of scouts. "Besides," he added, "you forget that we aimed
to reach the Sweetwater River by evening, so that we could start up the
current in our boats to-morrow morning. And this, I reckon, is the
stream that we're looking for."

"Hurrah again, fellows! The day's hike is done. Now for a bully rest!"

"Stand at attention, all! Call the roll, secretary, to see if there are
any stragglers!" the scout master commanded, as the small troop ranged
up before him.

This young man was Mr. Roderic Garrabrant, who had only too gladly
assumed the rôle he occupied, being greatly interested in the boy
problem; and possessing a few fads and fancies he wished to work out by
actual experience. His knowledge of woodcraft was not so very extensive;
but the moral effect of his presence was expected to exert considerable
benefit in connection with the dozen or more members of the Hickory
Ridge troop of Boy Scouts.

The small town of Hickory Ridge lay about seven miles due south of the
place where they had struck the winding Sweetwater; and the party had
tramped this distance since noon. While it might not seem very far to
those who are accustomed to long walks, there were a number among the
scouts who had undoubtedly exceeded their record on this same afternoon.

An exceedingly tall and ungainly lad, with long legs that seemed to just
delight getting in the way at times, threatening to twist him in a knot,
drew out a little pocket volume, and in a sing-song tone started to call
off numerous names.

Each boy answered promptly when he heard his own name mentioned; and as
they will very likely figure largely in our story, it might be just as
well to take note of the manner in which Arthur Stansbury called them
off:

"Members of the Wolf Patrol: Elmer Chenowith, Mark Cummings, Ted
Burgoyne, Toby Ellsworth Jones, Arthur Stansbury, and Chatz Maxfield.

"Members of the Beaver Patrol: Matty Eggleston, Oscar Huggins, Tyrus
Collins, Jasper Merriweather, Tom Cropsey, Lawrence Billings.

"Unattached, but to form Numbers One and Two of the new Eagle Patrol:
Jack Armitage and Nathan Scott."

"We seem to be just two shy," observed Mr. Garrabrant, with a twinkle in
his eye, as he turned toward Elmer Chenowith, who had recently received
his certificate as assistant scout master from the National Council, and
was really qualified to take the place of the leader whenever the latter
chanced to be absent.

Elmer raised his hand promptly in salute, as he made reply:

"Yes, sir; Nat Scott and Jasper Merriweather. They pegged out a mile or
so back; and after examining their feet, and finding that they were
really sore from walking, I gave them permission to ride on the
commissary wagon, sir."

Now, of course Mr. Garrabrant knew all this perfectly well. He had
actually watched the pair of tenderfeet only too gladly clamber aboard
the wagon that bore the tents, food, extra clothing, and cooking outfit
for the camp. But thus far did military tactics rule the Boy Scouts,
that he was supposed to know nothing about such incidents until they had
been reported to him in the proper manner, as provided for in the
system.

"Suppose then you notify them, Mr. Bugler," said the scout master,
turning to Mark Cummings, who, besides being the especial chum of Elmer,
was really a fine musician, and naturally had been unanimously chosen as
bugler for the new troop of scouts recently organized in Hickory Ridge.

When the clear, penetrating notes of the bugle sounded through the
neighboring woods, there came a faint but enthusiastic cheer from some
point along the back trail. In addition, the waiting scouts could catch
the plain creaking of a wagon, accompanied by encouraging words, spoken
undeniably by a "gentleman of color."

"Git up dar, youse ol' sleepy-haid, Andy Jackson! Wot youse t'ink we's
gwine tuh do up hyah in dis neck ob de woods, hey? Git a mobe on yuh,
Jawdge Washington! Jes' quit dat peekin' outen de tail end ob yuh eye at
me! We ain't playin' dat ere game ob politics now; dis am real, honest,
sure-nuff work. Altogedder now, bofe ob youse; or de waggin dun stick in
de mud of dis crick!"

Then followed a few whacks, as the energetic driver applied the goad,
some startled snorts, in turn succeeded by another relay of faint cheers
from the two footsore scouts aboard the wagon.

And presently the lumbering vehicle, with its sweating steeds, halted
alongside the site selected by the scout master as the spot for the
first camp of the scouts' outing. An opening was readily found where
Ginger, the ebony driver, might urge his reluctant team to leave the
hard road, and enter among the trees.

Immediately a scene of great bustle, and more or less confusion ensued;
for it must be remembered that while the Hickory Ridge scouts may have
drilled in the work of starting a camp, that was only theory, and the
present was their first actual practice on record.

The contents of the wagon were overhauled, and several tents started to
go up on spots particularly selected by the leaders of the patrols, who
had this duty in their sole charge.

Here Elmer had a great advantage over all his fellows, since he had
spent much of his life up in the Canadian Northwest, where his father
had held a position as manager to extensive lands that were being farmed
on a colossal scale, until a year or so previous, when, being left a
snug little fortune, Mr. Chenowith had decided to return to his native
state, to settle down for the balance of his days.

Of course the boy had picked up a considerable amount of useful
knowledge during his stay in that country of vast distances, which was
likely to prove of use to him in his experiences as a scout.

They had elected him as president of the troop, and he had readily been
given the position of scout leader in the Wolf Patrol because of this
wide range of knowledge pertaining to the secrets of outdoor life. It
had also been mainly instrumental in securing for him the coveted
certificate from Headquarters, recognizing him as a capable assistant to
Mr. Garrabrant.

Elmer could toss a rope, follow a trail, throw a "diamond hitch" in
loading a pack horse, travel on snowshoes, recognize most wild animals
just from their tracks, make a camp properly, and do so many other like
tricks that made him the envy of his mates, and especially Matty
Eggleston, who was the leader of the Beaver Patrol, and had much to
learn concerning his duties.

It was a cheerful scene, as the tents were raised, and fires began to
crackle, one for each patrol, according to custom. Even the two limping
scouts forgot their recent lameness, and began to sniff the air hungrily
when Ginger started to get supper for the crowd.

Ginger had qualified as an expert first-class cook, but the truth might
as well be stated right in the beginning that the boys quickly tired of
the greasy messes the son of Ethiopia flung together, and soon followed
the example of the Wolf Patrol, doing their own cooking, an arrangement
that pleased the good-natured but indolent Ginger perfectly. He was
always on hand, however, when the time for eating came around, being
possessed of an enormous appetite that alarmed Mr. Garrabrant more than
a little.

Night had closed in long before supper was ready, for things somehow
worked at sixes and sevens on the occasion of the getting of the first
meal, since many essential articles had to be hunted for, entailing a
loss of time. But all this would be remedied as soon as they were in
their permanent camp, for both Mr. Garrabrant and Elmer were keen on
system and order.

The boys were almost famished after that seven-mile hike, and could
hardly wait for the signal to "fall to." But there was an abundance for
all, and none of them was much inclined to be what Arthur Stansbury
called "finicky" that night.

Mr. Garrabrant, however, while eating, looked suspiciously toward
Ginger, and shook his head in the direction of Elmer, as if to say that
if this mess were a fair specimen of the cook's best efforts along the
culinary line, the sooner they started in to depend on themselves the
better for their digestion.

After the meal had been finished the boys left Ginger to clean up while
they lay around, enjoying the sparkling blaze, something that most of
them were not very familiar with. For the time being all formality was
thrown aside, and they laughed and chatted, just as normal boys are
prone to do when out upon a holiday jaunt.

Mr. Garrabrant showed the two laggards how they had been unwise not
immediately to dislodge sundry small pebbles that had found a way to get
in their shoes, with the consequence that presently stone bruises had
formed that became painful. He made them easy with some lotion he
carried for just such a purpose.

In this and dozens of other ways the efficient scout master expected to
teach the boys of the troop how to take care of themselves when away
from home. But the lads who had to be told _the same thing twice_ might
expect to forfeit some privilege since they were expected to think for
themselves, after being shown.

There was also a second colored man along, who expected to take the team
back on the morrow, since the scouts would have no further need of it,
once they embarked in the boats that were to meet them here. In these
they expected to ascend the Sweetwater to a small lake called Jupiter;
and from thence by way of Paradise Creek find a passage to Lake Solitude
beyond, where they meant to camp and learn the numerous "stunts" a good
scout should know.

Some of the lads had fair voices, and school songs were sung around the
fire, Mark doing the accompanying with soft notes on his bugle. He had
mastered this instrument, and his mates never wearied of hearing him
play.

Ted Burgoyne was afflicted with a slight lisp that gave him no end of
trouble; though he always insisted that he spoke as correctly as any of
his companions. Ted had a strong leaning toward the profession of a
surgeon, and indeed was forever loudly wishing for a subject upon whom
to operate. The boys had considerable fun over this weakness, but all
the same they must have felt more or less confidence in his ability to
do the right thing; for whenever any slight accident occurred it might
be noticed that every one in camp called upon "Dr. Ted" to take hold;
and he nearly always proved himself equal to the occasion.

Charlie Maxfield, or Chatz as he was universally called, was somewhat of
a queer chap. He believed in ghosts, and was always reading stories of
hobgoblins and haunted houses. Of course, with such a propensity, Chatz
could be depended on to try and frighten his chums from time to time. He
was forever "seeing things" in the dark.

The rest of the boys had plenty of fun with Chatz, which he took in good
part; but although, as a rule, his alarms proved to be false ones
nothing seemed to disturb his deep-rooted convictions. They even said he
carried a rabbit's foot, for good luck, the animal having been killed by
Chatz himself in a graveyard, and in the full of the moon.

Needless to say Chatz Maxfield was a Southern-born lad, as his accent
alone proved. He was a fine fellow, taken as a whole, outside of this
silly belief in ghosts, which he possibly imbibed from the small darkies
with whom he played on his father's Georgia plantation, years back.

"I don't see any boats around here, fellows!" remarked Ty Collins, when
there came a little lull in the conversation, after Mr. Garrabrant had
been explaining some puzzling matter that one of the boys had put up to
him.

"Why, that's a fact!" exclaimed "Lil Artha," as the long-legged
secretary, Arthur Stansbury was called by his mates--he was a devoted
amateur photographer, and even then had been busying himself with some
part of his equipment as he sat by the fire.

Arthur was keenly desirous of learning all the various kinks that a
first class scout must know. He was somewhat of a joker in his way, and
at times a little addicted to the use of current slang; but a
warm-hearted, impulsive lad all the same.

"They are to be on hand in the morning, boys," remarked Mr. Garrabrant.
"And of course we shall not think of leaving here until they come. Make
your minds easy on that score, Nat and Jasper. Your heels will have a
chance to get well, never fear."

"Where's Chatz?" asked one of the other boys, suddenly.

"He asked permission to walk back a bit over our trail," observed Elmer.
"Said he missed a buckle from his coat, which he was carrying over his
arm when he tripped. I let him take a lantern with him to see if he
could find it."

"Lil Artha" began to laugh, and several of the other boys joined in.

"Oh! my! what if he happens to run across one of those ghosts he's
always talking about?" suggested Toby Ellsworth Jones, whose grandfather
had been a veteran, and a soldier under the colonel who died at
Alexandria, Va., in the Civil War; whence the name of Ellsworth--Toby
was just wild on the subject of aeronautics; and while thus far
everything he attempted had proven as flat a failure as the famous
flying machine of Darius Green, still he lived in hopes of accomplishing
something that would make the name of Jones renowned.

Several of the boys struggled to their feet at this, finding themselves
stiff in the legs after their long walk.

"Look! there's a light coming just flying along the road right now!"
cried Larry Billings.

"And that must be Chatz on the full run, though he wouldn't yell out for
anything!" exclaimed Mark.

"Something must be chasing him, fellows!" declared Toby, in great
excitement.

"Perhaps it's a wildcat!" suggested Jasper Merriweather, who was a bit
timid.

"Here he comes, and he can speak for himself. What ails you, Charlie;
what happened to start you running?" asked the scout master, as the boy
came hurrying up, breathing hard, and showing signs of positive alarm.

"Reckon I saw something, suh, that was mighty mysterious!" replied
Chatz; at which the entire group of scouts looked at each other, and
held their breath in awe.



CHAPTER II.

THE SUDDEN PERIL.


"II SEE you found your buckle, Chatz," remarked Elmer, noticing what the
other was holding in the hand that was not occupied in grasping the
lighted lantern.

"Oh! yes, I picked that up where I tripped, and nearly fell flat,"
replied the other, quickly. "Just as I got up off my knees I happened to
look alongside the road, where the trees grow so thick, and I give you
my word, fellows, I saw a moving white figure that had the most terrible
yellow eyes ever! I know you all laugh at me whenever I say I believe in
ghosts; but if that wasn't one I miss my guess, yes suh."

"I'll dare you to go back with me till we find out," said Elmer,
quickly.

Chatz hesitated; but for all his silly notions in this one line the boy
was far from being a coward.

"All right, if you say so, I'm willing," he declared. "I'd just like to
know what that was, anyhow, if not a specter. Come on, Elmer."

"Take me along, won't you?" asked Lil Artha, gaining his feet, as he
thrust his kodak away.

"Me, too!" called out several others; while a few hung back, not caring
to take chances of a meeting with a real ghost.

"You can go along, Arthur, likewise Ted and Toby. The rest had better
stay here with me to guard the camp, in case there happens to be a raid
of ghosts," remarked the scout master, in a tone that put an end to all
protestations.

So the little party trotted off, followed by wishful glances from the
balance of those who would have liked to be with them.

Down the road they went, Chatz keeping in close contact with Elmer, and
maintaining a discreet silence. Presently they arrived at the spot where
he had found the missing buckle.

"Here's where I stooped down to hunt, boys," he remarked, in a low
voice; "and when I looked over yonder, I saw IT standing just back of
that fringe of brush, waving its long arms at me, and staring to beat
the band. Do you see anything there, fellows?"

"Not a thing, Chatz," replied Artha, cheerfully. "To the foolish house
for you!"

"What's that?" said Toby, holding up his hand, suddenly.

"Did you see anything move?" demanded the Southern lad, eagerly, as
though he wanted to prove that his alarm had been well founded.

"I thought I did," replied Toby, quivering with eagerness.

"Listen, fellows," observed Elmer, with a chuckle.

From somewhere back in the woods there came a weird sound, mournful
enough to strike a chill to the heart of anyone not familiar with its
nature.

"Oh! whatever can that be?" cried Toby. "Sounded just like some poor
feller calling for help."

"Elmer, you know; tell uth, pleath!" entreated Ted, with his usual lisp,
which even the alarm that was seizing hold of him now could not
dissipate.

"Well, I declare, I'm surprised to think that none of you fellows ever
heard an owl hoot before!" laughed the scout leader of the Wolf Patrol.

"An owl--that only a poor little dickey of an owl!" cried Toby.

"Yes, it sounds just like the white owl we used to have up in Canada,"
continued Elmer, seriously. "And ten to one now, it was what Chatz here
saw in that brush alongside the road. Of course it had staring yellow
eyes; and in the dim light he must have fancied he saw an arm waving at
him. That was only a shadow, Chatz. So come along, let's get back to the
fire."

"Well, anyway, it looked mighty spooky," declared the Southern boy,
stubbornly.

And he persisted in this attitude, even when some of his companions, who
might not have been one half so brave as Chatz, if ever put to the test,
began to "josh" him because of his recent alarm.

Mr. Garrabrant, accompanied by Elmer, went the rounds to ascertain just
how the boys had erected their tents. He found little cause for
complaint, since the young assistant scout master had drilled the
members of the troop in this science, and they had it down quite pat, at
least so far as theory went.

While the Boy-Scout movement of to-day has little to do with military
tactics, still discipline is taught; and numerous things that soldiers
employ in their daily life are practiced. One of these is setting a
guard at night, and teaching the boys the necessity of keeping watchful
when in the woods.

Each patrol had to set a guard or sentry, and lay out a plan whereby the
various members would take turns in standing duty during some period of
the night.

The two unattached scouts were temporarily added to the six composing
the Wolf Patrol, so that they might come under the charge of Elmer, and
profit from his instruction.

By ten o'clock the camp had relapsed into a condition of silence. "Taps"
had been sounded on the bugle, which meant that every light must be
extinguished except the two fires; and each scout not on duty seek his
blanket.

Of course there was more or less whispering from time to time; and
apparently it was a hard thing for some of the boys to settle down to
sleep. But both Mr. Garrabrant and Elmer knew boy nature full well, and
for this one night were disposed to overlook little infractions of the
rules. But later on they would expect to hold the entire troop rigidly
to discipline, when the time for skylarking had gone by.

Elmer had left word with the boy from the Wolf Patrol who first went on
duty to awaken him if anything out of the way occurred. And in turn he
was to transmit the order to the fellow who succeeded him.

When a hand gripped his arm as he lay under his blanket Elmer was
immediately awakened; nor did he evince the slightest alarm.

"What is it?" he asked, softly, not wishing to arouse the others in the
tent, who were sound asleep, if their heavy breathing stood for
anything.

"Something moving on the river, and I thought you ought to know,"
replied the one who had crept excitedly under the canvas.

"All right, Toby, I'm coming after you. Back out!" replied Elmer, as he
wriggled from under his comfortable blanket, and pulled on his trousers;
for the air of an August night often feels decidedly chilly, especially
after one has been snuggled beneath covers.

He found the fires had died down, though the boys made sure that they
did not wholly go out, since they had no great love for the darkness.

"Listen! There it goes again," remarked Toby, once more clutching the
sleeve of the scout leader in a nervous hand.

Elmer chuckled.

"Well, this is a funny thing," he said, as though amused. "First Chatz
takes a poor old owl with its yellow eyes for a ghost, and now you
imagine the dip of oars to be something as mysterious and thrilling.
Why, don't you make out two sets plashing at different times. Those are
the boats we expect. Perhaps the men from Rockaway down the river were
delayed; or else they preferred to do their rowing after the sun set.
But that's all it means, Toby."

"Aw! well, I thought it my duty to let you know," observed the other.

"And you did quite right, Toby. But I'd better try and get Mr.
Garrabrant out here without awakening the lot, if it can be done," and
saying this Elmer started toward the second tent, where the scout master
had some four boys under his especial charge.

It proved to be just as Elmer had guessed. The two men who rowed the
boats had preferred to do their work after the heat of day had gone by.
They would not even pass the balance of the night in camp, being anxious
to get back to Rockaway, the town some five miles down the river.

So this little excitement died away, and once more silence brooded over
the camp on the Sweetwater. The night passed without any further alarm;
and with the coming of morning the clear notes of the bugle sounding the
reveille aroused the last sleepers, and caused them to crawl forth,
rubbing their eyes and yawning.

Mark's grandfather had been a famous artist, and the boy bade fair to
some day follow in his illustrious footsteps. He was forever drawing
exceedingly apt pictures, with pencil, a bit of chalk, a scrap of
charcoal or anything that came handy; and as a rule these were humorous
caricatures of his chums in many amusing attitudes. So he now busied
himself catching the sleepy scouts in various striking postures, to the
great delight of those who gathered around.

Between Mark's readiness with the crayon and the eagerness of Lil Artha
to use his camera, it seemed likely that little worth remembering would
escape being handed down to illustrate the events of this, their first
outing.

"Me for a bully good swim!" exclaimed the long-legged boy, as he started
for the nearby river.

Others were quick to follow his example, for few healthy boys there are
to whom the opportunity for splashing in the water on a summer morn does
not appeal.

"Keep on your guard, fellows!" called Mr. Garrabrant, who was busily
employed doing something near one of the tents. "The current is swift,
and unless I miss my guess the river is quite deep here. Elmer, you go
along and watch out that no one comes to harm," and he turned once again
to his task, confident that his assistant was capable of executing his
wishes properly.

Ten minutes passed away, and Mr. Garrabrant, having managed successfully
to complete the little job he had set himself to execute, was thinking
it time the boys who were bathing should be recalled, when he heard
sudden cries that pierced him like an arrow.

"Hey! look at Jasper, would you, how funny he acts!"

"Elmer! Elmer! come here! Jasper's got a cramp! He's gone down!"

Hurriedly did the alarmed scout master leap to his feet and start wildly
in the direction of these loud outcries. No doubt in that second of
time he saw the faces of the Merriweather boy's parents, filled with the
agony that comes to those who have lost a son by drowning; and the
mental picture sent Mr. Garrabrant flying over the ground.



CHAPTER III.

GINGER PLAYS WITH FIRE.


AT the time the loud cries had come, Elmer was just leaving the water
himself, having had enough of a morning bath. He saw several of the boys
running toward a point down stream, where Ty Collins and Nat Scott were
when they shouted, and without wasting a second Elmer had sped that way.

So fast did he run that he easily outstripped the rest, and reached the
spot where Ty and Nat stood on the bank, beckoning wildly to him, while
they stared out upon the eddying water.

One look Elmer gave. It enabled him to glimpse something white emerging
from the foamy water, and a pair of arms beat wildly in the air. Then he
sprang in, and hand over hand made for the spot.

Luckily he had arrived just below, so that the chances of his reaching
the drowning lad were better than would have otherwise been the case if
he had the swift current against him.

Perhaps in all his life Elmer Chenowith never struck out with such
intense eagerness, for he had seen that something serious must have
happened to Jasper, since he was under the surface of the water most of
the time and undoubtedly gulping in great quantities of it.

Keeping his eyes fastened on the struggling figure as best he could,
Elmer made his way furiously through the surging Sweetwater. Just at
this place, on account of a decided drop in the bed of the river, there
was a swift current and considerable foam around the rocks that partly
blocked the rapids.

"He's got him!" shrilled Tom Cropsey.

"But look out, Elmer; don't let him get a grip on you! Size up the way
Jasper is fighting to get hold of him! Oh! he nearly did it, then! What
ought we to do, fellows? If he grabs Elmer they'll just both drown!"

It was Red Huggins who thus gave vent to his feelings. He generally
became so excited in an emergency that he could not collect his wits
enough to be of any great use. And it was fortunate that all of those
present were not built upon the same model as impulsive Red.

Mr. Garrabrant had snatched up a rope as he ran. Perhaps, with rare
wisdom the long-headed scout master had even placed it there, looking to
a possible sudden need for such a thing.

He had no occasion to ask where the thrilling event was taking place.
Every boy was staring in that one quarter, and before he even saw the
two figures in the swirl of the yeasty river Mr. Garrabrant realized the
condition of affairs.

He found that Elmer had managed to seize the drowning boy from behind,
always the very best method of doing in such a case. Had he been unable
to accomplish this, and the frenzied Jasper seized upon him, doubtless
Elmer would have broken away, even though he might have had to strike
the other quite sharply in the face and partly stun him to do so. Better
that, than that both should go down together.

So Elmer was endeavoring to push the other in toward shore. Sometimes
the water would go over them both with a rush, for they happened to be
in one of the roughest parts of the river.

Mr. Garrabrant sized up the situation at a single glance. Then he ran
down the shore a dozen paces, and started to wade into the river.

"Here, take hold of this end of the rope, boys!" he cried, as he came
upon several of the scouts who were standing knee deep in the water,
seemingly half paralyzed by the terrible nature of the scene before
them.

Mark Cummings had just arrived on the scene. He had been dressing in the
tent at the time the alarm sounded. Regardless of the fact that he had
on his clothes, he sprang into the water alongside the scout master.

Together they buffeted the waves, and made for the approaching pair.
Elmer saw them coming and redoubled his efforts to keep the drowning boy
afloat, and at the same time avoid being clasped in his desperate
embrace.

Then friendly hands were laid upon them, and with three to take charge,
Jasper was borne to the land. He had collapsed before the shore was
reached, and the balance of the boys gathered around, staring in great
fear at his pallid face.

Mr. Garrabrant knew the theory of restoring a person who has come very
near being drowned; but it chanced that Elmer had more than once had
active participation in that sort of work. So he lost no time in
stretching poor Jasper, face down, on the ground, placing his knees on
his back, and having his arms worked regularly by some of the boys,
while he pressed downward, again and again with considerable force, so
as to induce artificial breathing.

As Jasper was not far gone he quickly responded to this rough but
effective treatment. He belched out a small Niagara of water, groaned,
trembled, and finally tried to beg them to have a little mercy on him,
saying that he was now all right, upon which the boys of course ceased
their efforts intended to bring him to.

Breakfast was slow in coming along that morning. Ginger had been
tremendously unnerved by the exciting spectacle of the rescue of the
drowning lad, and he continuously made all sorts of foolish blunders
while trying to cook, so that in the end Mr. Garrabrant chased him away
and set Elmer and Ty Collins at the job, both of whom he knew were very
good cooks.

Afterwards the tents had to come down, and the entire outfit be stored
away in the two boats which were intended to carry them the balance of
the way.

Ginger sent the horse and wagon back in charge of the other colored man,
and announced himself prepared to accompany the troop into the heart of
the wilderness. He was so good-natured, and they could make use of him
to do much of the drudgery of the camp; so Mr. Garrabrant decided to let
Ginger go along, even though he was not to be trusted to get their meals
any longer.

The boats were stoutly built, and of a good size. Both were capable of
being rowed by two pairs of oars: and, indeed, this was rendered quite
necessary by the swiftness of the Sweetwater in parts.

Once they reached the first little lake and the worst part of the
struggle would be over; after that the going must prove much easier.

At first the scouts considered the rowing a picnic. That lasted less
than ten minutes. Then, as the strain of the current started to tell
upon them, grunts began to be heard, and these were followed by heavy
sighs and glum faces.

Blisters began to appear on palms that were quite unused to labor of
this severe kind. True, Mr. Garrabrant in one boat, and Elmer in the
other, tried to show the greenhorns how they could save themselves much
of this pain by proper handling of the oars; but like everything else,
experience after all was bound to be the best guide.

A number of the lads, however, were more or less familiar with rowing,
even though there was no body of water close to the town on the railroad
known as Hickory Ridge. Of course Elmer himself took an oar, and kept up
his part of the drudgery from start to finish; and his chum Mark also
did his share with credit.

There were places where the river widened, and the current was less
savage. Here those who tugged at the oars managed to rest up a bit for
the next hard pull.

So the morning passed with frequent rests, for Mr. Garrabrant knew
better than utterly to weary his command in the beginning. They were,
after all, out for sport; and it would have been an unwise move on his
part to have sickened the tenderfeet scouts before they had had a fair
chance to get hardened to it.

Just before noon the boy in the bow of the leading boat gave a yell.

"What is it?" asked the scout master.

"I just had a squint at a body of water, sir; and I think it must have
been a lake," replied Jack Armitage, who was in the boat with the Wolf
Patrol, Ginger working one of the oars in the other craft.

"That must be the first lake, Jupiter they call it," Mr. Garrabrant went
on.

"Hurrah! that means a rest, and lunch, fellows!" cried Lil Artha, who
had been resting after his turn at rowing.

"Don't crow too soon," barked Toby, mysteriously. "The worst is yet to
come. Remember that these two lakes are joined by Paradise Creek. I've
heard that stream is worse than the river here to pull against."

"That's where you're mistaken, Toby," remarked Elmer. "I talked with a
lumberman, and also a sportsman who comes up here every fall to shoot
wild ducks on the lake they call Solitude. Both of them assured me that
once we got to this point our troubles would be over. So cheer up, my
hearties, the pulling will be a picnic after this."

Then they passed out from the head of the romantic Sweetwater. The lake
was a pretty little sheet of water, with shores that, as a rule, were
wooded; though in several places it looked as though farms ran down to
the water's edge.

The boys soon clamored to get ashore and stretch their weary legs; nor
was Mr. Garrabrant in the least averse to such a change himself. It is
always inducive to cramp to sit in a boat several hours.

Lunch was eaten under a patch of friendly trees that grew on the bank.
Then the troop was allowed half an hour to lounge around, ere once more
embarking for the afternoon row.

Just where they had landed it was very wild. Rocks jutted up out of the
sides of the hills, and the trees grew in every crevice where earth had
gathered.

Toby was lying on his back, looking longingly up at the bald top of a
neighboring elevation that might almost be called a mountain.

"Say," he said to Red, who happened to be sprawled out near him, "did
you ever in all your days see such a splendid place as that for a
starter? Just think what a jolly good thing it would be to stand there
on the edge of that cliff and just give one big spring off, flapping
your wings as you jumped. Wow! I can see myself sailing through space,
and coming down as gently as a thistle ball. But how could a fellow ever
get up there in the first place?--that's what's bothering me."

"Look here, Toby, you don't really mean to say that if you had those
silly old wings along with you, anything'd ever tempt you to take such
chances as to jump off that high place? Why, it'd be your finish sure,
if you ever did. You'd come down with an awful jar. And ten to one we'd
have to gather your poor remains up with a shovel. I'm glad Mr.
Garrabrant refused to let you fetch along all that stuff you had laid
out to bring."

"He near broke my heart when he said that, Red," sighed Toby. "But we're
going to be up here some time, you know, and perhaps I might get a
chance to rig up some sort of flying machine. I'll never be happy till
I'm sailing through the clouds, and that's a fact."

"Your heart, could stand it better than your blessed neck," retorted
Red. "And that's what would have happened to you, sure, if he'd let you
try to play your game of being aviator to the troop."

"Sit still, fellows!" sang out the photographer just then; "I've got you
in just a dandy picture, the entire bunch! There, done with a click, and
thank you."

Mr. Garrabrant sat up and looked at his watch.

"About time we were moving, boys," he remarked, at which there were
numerous uplifted eyebrows, and not a few groans, as the unfortunate
tenderfeet looked at the red spots in the palms of their hands, unused
to hard work.

Of course, as there was little to pack, it would be a matter of only a
few minutes ere they could be on the move again, and speeding up Jupiter
Lake toward the link that connected with the other sheet of water.

"All here?" asked Mr. Garrabrant, as a precautionary measure; since some
of the scouts had shown a weakness for wandering whenever half a chance
arose.

Elmer had just been in the act of counting heads.

"We seem to be one shy, sir," he remarked.

"It's Ginger," declared one of the scouts. "I noticed him walking off
some little time ago, sir. He told me somebody said there was gold up in
these mountains, and the poor old silly was lookin' for signs of it, I
guess."

"Give him a call on the bugle, Mark!" said Elmer, looking annoyed; for
it would be too bad if, after all their plans, Ginger should take it
into his head to delay them now by getting lost.

So the bugler let out a blast that could easily be heard a mile away.
Then they one and all listened to discover if any answer came floating
back.

"I heahs yuh, suh," came the voice of Ginger from the neighboring woods.
"I'se jes' be'n havin' heaps o' fun wid dis leetle snake hyah. Glory be,
but he am de maddest critter yuh eber see, a shaking ob his tail; an' de
locust asingin' in de tree."

"Keep away from him, Ginger!" shouted Elmer, jumping up; "keep away from
him, I tell you! My stars! that must be a rattlesnake he's been playing
with!"



CHAPTER IV.

A NEVER-TO-BE-FORGOTTEN SUPPER.


AND a rattlesnake it proved to be, sure enough!

When Elmer, followed helter-skelter by every one of the others, drew
near the spot where Ginger stood, with a short stick in his hand, and
now looking very much frightened after hearing what a narrow escape he
had had, they discovered the angry poisonous reptile coiled, and buzzing
away at a great rate.

Locusts had been singing near by during the drowsy noon hour, and that
accounted not only for the common mistake of the black man, but why none
of the others had paid any attention to the sound. Several remembered
having heard it, when their memory was jogged later.

Elmer quickly found a longer pole with which he assailed the coiled
terror of the rocky hills, and with a lucky stroke he finally broke its
back. All the boys crowded around to look at the ugly thing, shuddering
as they noted its vicious fangs.

"Better look out, fellowth," warned Dr. Ted. "I've heard they often hunt
in coupleth, tho' there may be another of the vermin near by!"

But a hasty search failed to reveal a mate to the dead reptile. Mr.
Garrabrant seized upon the occasion to read a lecture to the scouts,
telling them to live up to their motto, "Be prepared," and always keep
an eye out when in the woods.

"That's one danger we must never forget up here," he said; "and I've got
a little phial I want every scout to carry along with him constantly.
To-night I'm going to explain just how to act in case any one of you
finds himself struck by a snake, which, however, I sincerely hope will
never happen, because they're nasty things at best, and there's always a
chance that the remedy may not work in time to save the patient."

Ginger begged for the rattle, to serve as a reminder of his narrow
escape, and so Elmer cut it off for him.

"If I had time I'd like to skin the beast," the latter remarked, "for
he's beautifully marked, and would make a nice tie, or a pocketbook. But
in order to make a good job I'd require an hour or more, and we don't
want to carry the thing along with us until night."

"Why do you say 'he' when you mention the rattler, Elmer?" asked Mr.
Garrabrant, who was not above seeking new information from one who had
been fortunate enough to experience the actual realities of wild life.

"Well, you see that the skin has black diamond-shaped marks on it. If it
had been a female these would have been more along a brownish order. At
any rate, that's what I've been told out where I met with these things
frequently," Elmer stated.

"And I've no doubt but what you're quite right, Elmer," remarked the
scout master. "I've noticed the same thing in connection with quite a
number of birds, the female being coated a modest brown, whereas the
male was a lustrous black. But we must be moving. I'm glad, Ginger, that
it isn't necessary to practice on you for snakebite."

"Yas," muttered the black man, "an' de wustest t'ing 'bout de hull
bizness am de fack dat dey ain't eben a single drap ob snake pizen in de
hull bilin crowd. So 'deed, I is right glad myself now dat de leetle
critter didn't git tuh me."

"And there goeth the only chance I've had this many a day to get a
little anatomical practice," Ted was grumbling; though of course the
boys understood that although his manner of talk might seem so
blood-thirsty, the amateur surgeon was only joking.

But Ginger, after that, often watched Ted suspiciously and refused to be
left alone in camp with him.

Ten minutes of stout rowing brought them to the mouth of Paradise Creek,
where the waters from the other lake emptied into Jupiter. Joyfully they
started to navigate these unknown regions. Elmer's boat was in the lead,
though for that matter not a single one in the party had ever before
been as far up the chains of waterways as this.

When even the scout master realized that those who handled the oars were
becoming exhausted, he called a halt and changed around, bringing fresh
recruits forward. He himself did yeoman service pulling, and Ginger also
made his muscles add considerable value to the progress of the second
boat.

"Dis am suah de t'ing tuh make de appatite," Ginger kept saying, as he
tugged away, with the perspiration rolling down his black good-natured
face. "Specks I done want dubble rations dis berry night, Cap'n. De
laborer am worthy ob his hire, de good book say. An' dis am sartin suah
hard wuk."

As the afternoon slowly passed they realized that they must be getting
closer and closer to the second sheet of water. Nobody was sorry. And
when the sun hung over the elevated horizon anxious looks began to be
cast ahead.

Finally, almost without warning, the leading boat ran out of the creek,
passing around an abrupt bend, and a shout of delight announced that the
lake had been reached at last.

It was indeed well named. Solitude seemed to hang over the whole
picture, and if it could impress them in this way while the sun was
still shining, what gloom must follow after the shades of night had
fallen.

"Look around on this shore for a good site for a permanent camp, Elmer,"
remarked the scout master, pointing to the left. "I choose that because
we will get some shelter from the wind, in case of a sudden storm.
Across the broad lake it would be apt to hit us doubly hard. Am I
correct, Elmer?" Mr. Garrabrant went on.

"Yes, sir," replied the boy, quickly, "I should have done just as you
did, and I think I can see a good spot for our camp; anyhow it looks
that way from here. Give way again, fellows, and I'll head the boat for
our haven."

Ten minutes later, and the two boats had been run ashore. Then an eager
troop of aching lads tumbled out, to stretch themselves, and express
delight over having finally reached their goal. Quite a number of them
had really never before been away from home over night, so that it
required more or less assumption of gayety on their part to conceal
their real feelings. But by degrees these would grow accustomed to the
separation, and in the end it was bound to make them more manly fellows.

Once again were the tents pitched. This time more care was taken, for
they anticipated a long stay, and ere breaking camp for the return trip
it was not unlikely that they would be visited by one or more storms. So
the stakes were driven well in, and each tent had a little gulley dug
around the upper side, so as to turn water to the right and left in case
of a flood in the shape of a down-pour.

Other of the scouts started making fire-places from the numerous stones.
They had had practice along these lines before now, closer at home, and
the watchful eyes of the scout leaders took note of everything that was
being done. When they saw that matters were not going just as cleverly
as they could, a few words, perhaps a helping hand, straightened out the
difficulty.

By the time the sun passed beyond an outlying spur of the mountain
things began to take on a pretty decent look. Several of the boys who
were fond of fishing had been set to work digging bait, and going in the
boats to likely spots pointed out by the experienced Elmer. Their
excited cries presently announced that there was some prospect of the
bill-of-fare that night having the magic name of "trout" among the tasty
food exhibit.

"And my word for it we'll need all we can get," laughed Mr. Garrabrant
aside to his assistant, as he nodded his head to where Ginger was
working lustily, and smacking his lips as he kept one eye on the busy
fisherman, "because Ginger tells me he's awful fond of trout! It's going
to keep me hustling to supply all the appetites in this Camp Content of
ours; for they're developing most alarmingly."

But really Mr. Garrabrant was joking. He had foreseen just such a
condition as this, knowing boys as well as he did, and made sure to add
good measure to the quantity of food first planned for.

The fishermen presently brought in what catch they had made. Every one
was both surprised and delighted to see the splendid size of the trout
that had taken the bait.

"Why, this sure is a great snap!" exclaimed Lil Artha, who had been
looking all around for various views which he anticipated capturing on
succeeding days. "We can have the toothsome trout whenever the spirit
moves, and the fishermen get busy."

"And they pull like a house afire, too," declared Matty Eggleston, who
had been one of the anglers. "I've caught black bass lots of times, but
this is my first trout experience. Yum, yum, say, don't they just smell
fine, though? Look at Ginger walking up and down over by the shore of
the lake! He's that near starved he just can't stay around any longer
and sniff that delicious odor! Boys, ain't it near time to call us to
the fray? Oh, I'm that hollow I'm afraid I'll break in two!"

"Supper's ready, Mr. Garrabrant!" announced Ty Collins, who had been
given a free hand as chief cook on this evening, while Elmer paid
attention to various other things.

"Call the boys in then, and we'll see if it tastes as good as it smells.
Sound the assembly, Mark," called the scout master, himself not at all
averse to the pleasant duty of satisfying the inner man's clamorings.

So the bugler sent out the sweet call, and even Ginger seemed to know
what it meant, for he came hurrying along to serve the dinner, a broad
grin stamped on his ebony face, and his mouth stretched almost from ear
to ear.

"This is what I call solid comfort," observed Mark, as he tasted the
crisp trout, and decided that it was finer than any fish he had ever
eaten in all his life.

A chorus of approving grunts and nods followed his assertion, for as a
rule the scouts were too busily occupied just then to say much. Ginger
had not been compelled to wait until they were through, under the
existing conditions that would have been next door to a crime, because
the poor old chap was really frantic for something to stop the awful
craving he had. So, after helping the entire bunch he was allowed to dip
in and sit in a retired spot, where the tremendous champing noise he
made while "feeding" might not annoy the rest.

Afterward, when everyone admitted that "enough was as good as a feast,"
they lay around taking things easy. Ginger gathered up the cooking
utensils, and the numerous pannikins and tin cups used by the troop. It
was to be his duty to wash these things after each meal, and thus the
boys were enabled to avoid one very troublesome part of camp life. And
hence they were glad to have Ginger along.

As before, arrangements were made looking to a constant detail to serve
as sentries. There was no danger anticipated, of course, but since the
scouts wished to learn everything that was connected with life in the
open, they must carry out the game in all its parts. And guarding the
camp against a possible foe was one of these things.

Two were to be on duty at the same time, the entire night being suitably
divided up into watches, as on board a ship. From ten o'clock up to five
meant seven hour shifts, with two boys on duty at a time.

Elmer and Mr. Garrabrant were exempt from this drudgery if they so
pleased, but the chances were, both of them would obtain less sleep,
that night at least, than any of the others. Even Ginger was given his
"spell," though it was doubted whether he could keep awake an hour, for
he was a very sleepy individual after he had finished his task with the
tin pans.

"To-morrow we start in with some of our tests," remarked the scout
master, as the time drew near for the bugler to sound taps. "That's one
thing I want to drill you boys in, while we're up here. We'll pit the
two details against each other, and see which can set up a tent in the
shortest order, and in the best manner. Then we'll start on the
first-aid-to-the-injured racket, and take a step further than we've ever
gone before. After that I'm going to get our assistant scout master to
show us a lot of mighty interesting things about following a trail, and
what the different tracks of such animals as may be found up here look
like. And another day some of us will hike to the top of that mountain,
while another detachment tries to climb the second rise, after which
they can wigwag to each other, in Signal Corps language, and hold a long
talk, to be verified later on in camp from the records kept. That is the
program, boys. Now, go to your blankets and sleep over it."

They were as a rule a pretty tired lot that lay down. The two sentries
had to continue moving about to keep from going to sleep on post, which
might be considered a serious offense, and lose them no end of good
marks.

Twice did Elmer creep out of his tent, and make the rounds in order to
ascertain whether all were going well. The last time was along about two
in the morning, and the first thing he heard was a whip-poor-will
calling shrilly to its mate not far away.

When he came upon Chatz, who had the outer post, he was surprised to
find him exhibiting all the well-known signs by which he was wont to
indicate that he had been "seeing things" again. And knowing him so
well, Elmer hardly needed to ask what was the matter. Evidently the
ghosts that haunted Chatz must have been paying the superstitious
Southern boy another visit.



CHAPTER V.

WHAT WAS IT?


"IWHAT was it this time, Number Six?" asked the scout leader, as Chatz
turned quickly toward him, showing considerable alarm.

"Oh! it's gone now. It just seemed to slide away while I was looking.
But I could hear it moving all the same; and I tell you, honest Injun,
that it was a dreadful _squashy_ sort of sound," and Chatz shrugged his
shoulders with what seemed to be a shudder, as he said this.

Elmer hardly knew what to do or to say. Chatz was not above playing a
joke, given the opportunity, but this was really a subject on which he
felt very deeply, so that it was hard to believe he would be likely to
hold it up to scorn.

He seemed to be wide-awake, too, so that there was little chance of its
being a dream. Sensible on all other subjects, the superstitious
Southern lad had a decided weakness for spooks, and he could imagine
uncanny objects prowling around where no one else found the slightest
indication of such a thing.

"Where was this?" Elmer asked, cautiously.

"Over there, in that open spot," replied Chatz, cheerfully and without
the least sign of hesitation. "You can just make out the deeper shadow
of the trees back further. I was looking that way and thinking of
something connected with my home when all of a sudden IT loomed up,
staring at me in a frightfully ghastly way, and moving its white body
slowly up and down, just like it was warning me of some coming danger."

"Sure it wasn't that owl again, are you?" questioned Elmer, dubiously.

"Couldn't have been any such thing, because," triumphantly went on
Chatz, "you see, there ain't a single chance for it to roost on
anything! That place is bare! I crossed it several times going for wood
yesterday afternoon before dark set in. And then besides--"

"Yes, what else was there?" Elmer asked, encouragingly, for he began to
realize that there was at least no fake about the other's upset
condition.

"Why, it made the queerest noise you ever heard--just a squashy sound
that I'll never be able to forget. Ugh! it was a nasty experience," and
he rubbed his eyes with his knuckles, after the manner of one just
awakened.

Somehow this gave Elmer an idea.

"Look here, Number Six, are you sure now that you weren't asleep, and
just dreaming that something bobbed up in front of you?" he demanded,
sternly; for in his capacity as assistant scout master he was given
certain privileges which the rest of the boys readily recognized.

"I don't think there's any reason to believe that sort of thing,"
returned the other, steadily. "Fact is, I was never more wide-awake in
my life."

"And the thing just stood there, and waved at you, did it?" Elmer
continued.

"Oh! I know what you think about it, but when I see a thing I can't deny
it, can I? There was something close to me a few minutes ago, something
that must have been a spook. If I hadn't had the good sense to stick my
hand in my pocket, and grab hold of that blessed old rabbit foot, I
honestly believe it would have jumped me! Now laugh again if you want
to," defiantly.

But Elmer was himself a bit puzzled. Of course he could not think of
allowing himself to dream that what Chatz had seen could be anything
unusual. The surrounding conditions invested the most commonplace
occurrence with a mysterious atmosphere--that was all, and had it been
anyone but Chatz they might have found an easy explanation for the
puzzle.

"Well," the scout leader said, finally, "we'll all have to borrow that
lucky charm then, when we go on duty, if it's going to scare the spooks
away. But your time is up, Number Six, so you can proceed to awaken the
scout who follows you."

"I'm glad, and I'm sorry," remarked Chatz. "To tell the truth, I'd like
to find out if that pesky thing _could_ crop up again. You see, there's
no need of being scared about it, so long as you've got something that
keeps you from getting hurt."

Evidently the belief of the Southern lad in that magical rabbit's foot
was firmly founded, and it would be exceedingly difficult to uproot it.
Sneers and scorn would never accomplish that result; in fact such action
was apt to only make him cling the more stubbornly to his fetish
worship. Elmer believed in going about such things in another manner
entirely. Chatz must be shown the error of his ways; and to do that most
convincingly the real nature of the object which he believed to be a
ghostly visitant from the other world, would have to be proven.

"Wait a minute, Number Six," he said, as the other was about to head
toward the tent where part of the Wolf Patrol slept, so he could find
and arouse his appointed successor.

"Yes, sir," replied Chatz; for, while Elmer was a chum of his, there
were times when he must recognize him only as a superior officer in the
organization to which both belonged, and show him due respect.

"Remember, not a single word to the scout who is to succeed you," Elmer
went on.

"Not a word will I breathe, sir, I promise you," replied Chatz, and
Elmer knew that nothing would tempt him to betray his trust, for his
sense of honor was very high, as it is with all Southern boys.

"Perhaps we might get a pointer on this matter if the strange thing you
saw appeared to another," remarked Elmer, thoughtfully.

"Oh! don't I just wish it would," remarked Chatz, eagerly. "Then perhaps
the rest of the fellows wouldn't think me cracked in my upper story. And
Lil Artha wouldn't be so unfeeling as to say I had rats in my belfry,
He's the one who comes on after me. Don't I just wish it would give him
a _good_ scare, though!"

"Well, go and wake him up, then. I'll let the other sentry know that
it's time for a change," and Elmer walked away.

A sudden idea had flashed up in his mind. Could it be possible that
there was anything in this wild yarn of Chatz's? Would the second sentry
be able to throw any light on the mystery?

He found him squatting on the ground, near a tree, and saw that it was
Jasper Merriweather, the timid boy of the troop. At first Elmer had half
a suspicion that the other was asleep, for his head was bowed in his
hands. At the sound of his step, however, Jasper suddenly looked up with
a violent start, and Elmer saw that he was more or less frightened, for
he was shivering, even though he had a blanket wrapped around his
shoulders.

"Oh! it's you, sir, is it?" he exclaimed, and there was a positive vein
of relief in the tones of his quivering voice that Elmer could not but
notice.

"Why, who else did you think it could be, Beaver, Number Four?" asked
the assistant scout master, quickly.

"Oh! I don't know," came the rather hesitating reply. "You see I guess
Chatz Maxfield has got me all worked up with his silly notions, because
I'm seeing things, just like he does, right along. I'm ashamed of
myself, that's what."

"Do you mean just now you saw something?" asked Elmer.

"Well," replied Jasper, rising to his feet as he spoke, with returning
confidence, "I thought I did, for a fact; and I just hid my head to shut
it out, but of course it was only what Mr. Garrabrant calls an optical
illusion. There just couldn't be anything there."

"Of course not," the other went on, encouragingly. "H'm, what was it, by
the way, you _thought_ you saw, Number Four?"

"That's the silly part of it, sir," Jasper answered. "It wasn't anything
that I could recognize at all, which proves that I was only imagining
things. Plague take Chatz and his ghosts! I never was very brave at my
best, but thinking of him has just about queered me. I'm glad you came
to talk to me, and show me how foolish it is to let such notions take
root."

"But, by the way, where was it you thought you saw this wonderful thing
which you say bore no shape that you could describe?" Elmer insisted.

"Oh! let me see, I was sitting just this way, and looking straight out
yonder. It was in that open place, sir. I guess the fire must have
flashed up suddenly, and dazzled me a bit."

But Elmer noticed that the second sentry pointed in exactly the same
quarter where Chatz insisted he had set eyes on the ghost! This would
seem to indicate that there must be something in the story.

"Was it a flaming red ghost, Number Four?" he inquired further.

"Why, of course not, sir," chuckled the other. "If it had been I'd have
thought it was only Ty Collins in that red sweater he sometimes wears.
Oh! no, what I _thought_ I saw was a white object. It seemed to be there
when I hid my face in my blanket, but when I looked a minute later it
was gone."

"Did you hear any sound?" Elmer demanded.

"Well, yes; but after all it may have been one of the fellows snoring,"
Jasper replied. "But at the time I thought it the queerest sort of noise
ever. Might 'a' been a big bulldog jumping into the water. I've heard
something like it when I pulled my foot out of a soft oozy piece of
mud."

"All right, Number Four. Your time is up, so go and gently arouse your
successor. And please don't even whisper a word about this until I give
you permission."

"Well, I guess I won't," Jasper quickly mumbled. "Think I'm itching to
have the laugh on me? No, siree, I'm as dumb as an oyster," and with
that he staggered off toward one of the tents to awaken Nathan Scott.

Elmer returned to his blanket, but he had something on his mind that
kept him from enjoying any sound sleep for the remainder of that
particular night.

Those two boys had certainly seen _something_, and while, of course,
Elmer was too sensible a fellow to allow himself to give the idea of a
ghostly visitor the slightest credence, he found himself puzzled to
account for it all.

Because of his lying awake so long he slept later than usual in the
morning. True, he sprang up when the notes of the bugle sounded the
reveille, but most of the others had been abroad before him.

They took a dip in the lake, though the water was so very cold that none
of the scouts cared to remain in more than five minutes. Besides, the
almost tragic occurrence of the previous day haunted some of them, and
made them a bit timid about venturing into the water, though by degrees
this fear would naturally wear off.

While preparations for breakfast were being undertaken by those
appointed for this purpose, Elmer strolled out of the camp. He wished to
carefully examine the open patch of ground at the point where the two
sentries had been so positive the uncanny white object had appeared to
them.

Disappointment awaited him there, however. Numerous footprints told how
those of the scouts whose duty it was to secure a fresh supply of
firewood that morning had passed back and forth directly across this
open place. If there had been any suggestive tracks they were surely
trampled out of sight by the army of boyish feet that had gone over many
times.

Elmer shook his head. He felt that he had been hoodwinked in one sense,
but no matter, even this setback must not induce him to give up the task
he had set for himself. He owed it to Chatz and his infirmity to
discover a reasonable explanation of that ghost theory. And while the
solution might be delayed by this unfortunate trampling of the ground,
he meant to persist.

"Nothing doing, I guess?" remarked a voice close by, and turning his
head the scout leader saw Chatz himself standing there, observing him
with a quizzical expression on his dark face.

"Well, if you mean an explanation of the little affair of last night,
Chatz, I admit that so far I'm up against it good and hard. You see, I
hoped to find some marks here that would give me a clue, but it's all
off. The boys ran after wood and back again so many times, that if there
was a trail it's been squashed."

"Oh! I don't think that mattered any," remarked the other, with
conviction in his tones. "You can't very well discover what there isn't,
can you? And I've always believed that spooks never leave a sign behind
them when they come and go. Why, a spook is only a vapor, you know,
Elmer. They can slip through a keyhole if necessary. And as to a trail,
why, you might as well expect to see that cloud up yonder leave a track
behind it."

There could at least be no doubt about Chatz being in dead earnest in
his queer belief, and as Elmer turned away he was more than ever
determined to find the true solution of that strange happening, if only
to drive another nail in the coffin of the Southern boy's superstition.

As neither of the sentries felt at liberty to mention the occurrence
until the assistant scout master gave permission, the balance of the
scouts ate their breakfast, and joked each other, in blissful ignorance
of the fact that the camp had again been visited by a hobgoblin, and
that this time not only the superstitious Chatz but another had actually
seen the misty intruder!



CHAPTER VI.

THE BOY SCOUTS' WATER BOILING TEST.


MR. GARRABRANT was full of business on this fine morning.

He set about a host of things immediately after breakfast, saying that
they ought to take advantage of the opportunity to get in a good
morning's work.

Several boys were sent out on the lake to try to duplicate the good luck
attending the fishermen of the preceding afternoon. Mark Cummings was
encouraged to get numerous views of the camp, and whatever was going
on--such as would afford the Hickory Ridge scouts the most pleasure in
later days, when this series of camp fires was but a hallowed memory.

With the balance of the troop the scout master proceeded to try out
various interesting tests, to discover just how the boys stood in the
matter of efficiency. As Elmer was such an old and experienced hand in
most of these matters, he was of course debarred from entering the
competitions. It would be taking too great an advantage over the
tenderfeet scouts, who had everything to learn as yet.

First of all the scout master decided to put ten boys at the
boiling-water test. This is one of the most interesting, as well as
amusing competitions, the scouts indulge in, and one that never fails to
evoke much laughter among those who look on.

Each boy was given a tin pail that held two quarts of water, and which
could be carried by a bale. Besides this, he was handed just three
matches, and put upon his honor that he did not have another of the kind
upon his person.

A spot was selected that was possibly fully eighty yards away from the
edge of the lake, and this Mr. Garrabrant did purposely, so that if one
of the competing scouts was so unlucky as to upset his pail of water
during the test, he would be greatly handicapped by having to run so far
in order to replenish the same.

Lined up, they were to be given the word, when a rush would be made for
the lake, the buckets filled at least up to a line midway that indicated
a full quart. Then they had to hasten back to the place assigned, being
careful not to spill a drop of the fluid on penalty of losing marks for
having less than the quart needed.

Wood had to be quickly gathered, and some sort of fire-place constructed
where a blaze must be started without the aid of paper. Then the kettles
were to be seated on the stones, and the first one that had water
actually boiling, as witnessed by the scout master, would be the victor,
and the second called "runner-up."

"Ready, all!" called Mr. Garrabrant, and ten eager pair of eyes watched
him closely; "go!"

Immediately there was a race for the lake. One clumsy scout fell down
and had to scramble to his feet to take his place at the tail end of the
procession. Of course the long-legged Lil Artha easily outran all his
mates. He had scooped up his water and was on the way back before the
next best arrived.

The wise ones made sure to dip up more than they really needed, so as to
make allowances for any that might be spilled on the return flight. The
surplus could be easily tipped out before they set the kettle on the
fire.

When the whole lot had finally reached the open spot where the
competition was to be carried out, the picture was a lively one. Mark
was on hand to take a few snapshots, and catch all the humor of the
scene.

Now Lil Artha had his fire going, being far in advance of the others. As
they hustled to get things moving it was only natural that each fellow
cast jealous glances toward those who were getting along faster. In one
instance that caused the withdrawal of a competitor, for while paying
more attention to what Matty Eggleston was doing than his own business,
Larry Billings upset his kettle. After that he gave up with a grunt, for
it was the height of folly for him to think of running to the lake for a
fresh supply.

Two others used all their three matches and failed to get a fire
started, so they also withdrew.

When Arthur Stansbury placed his kettle on his hastily constructed
fire-place, long before the rest, it looked as though he had a
"walkover."

All at once there arose a shout of boyish glee. In starting to get to
his feet, the long-legged one had, as frequently happened, caught his
ankles in a hitch, and throwing out one hand to balance he upset the
kettle, which came near putting out his fire.

Mr. Garrabrant expected to see him leaping toward the far-off lake in
the hope of being yet in the running. To his surprise, Lil Artha
snatched up his pail and _ran away from the edge of the water_! Several
were so astonished at this that they suspended operations for a second
or two to stare after him.

"Oh! I see what he's after, the sly fellow," laughed Elmer. "He
remembers the little stream that runs down the side of the hill right
there, and reaches the lake. It isn't half as far away as the edge of
the big water. Yes, there he comes, with a grin on his face, and a full
pail. Good boy, Number Five!"

Once back at his fire, now burning briskly, the tall boy hastened to
spill some of the contents of his kettle, and then set the latter firmly
on the stones. Nor did he stop there. He had lost some ground, and
several had by this time succeeded in catching up with him. So down
Arthur lay, full on his stomach, where he could blow his fire, and get
it to burning more savagely, after which he fed it with the best small
pieces of splintered wood he had been able to pick up.

When a certain number of minutes had elapsed he beckoned to Mr.
Garrabrant, who, anticipating the summons, had been hovering nearby.
Together with Elmer, the scout master hurried up.

"The water is boiling all right," he announced, "and Number Five wins.
But keep going, the balance of you, until we learn who comes in second
and third."

Matty Eggleston proved an easy second, while Ted Burgoyne edged in just
ahead of Mark, because, as he claimed, his "blowing apparatus worked
better."

"But I think we ought to protest that win of Lil Artha," declared Chatz
Maxfield, although he had been one of the last in the bunch.

"On what grounds?" asked Mr. Garrabrant, smiling, as though he had
expected to hear something of the sort, though hardly from one who had
no chance of winning.

"When his kettle upset he didn't go all the way to the lake to fill it
again, as he ought to have done," said Red Huggins, who had also the ill
fortune to overturn his tin vessel when the water had begun to steam,
and who naturally felt a little "sore" as he termed it, because it was
too late for him to enter again.

"Listen while I read the terms of the competition again," said Mr.
Garrabrant. "I wrote them down so as to be prepared for any event;
that's one of our cardinal principles, you know, boys. Here it
especially states that 'any competitor who upsets his kettle at any time
during the test may have the privilege of filling the same again from
the nearest water.'"

"Oh! I didn't think of it that way, sir!" exclaimed Red.

"That's just it," smiled the gentleman. "You failed to grasp all there
was in that rule, while Arthur analyzed it. He undoubtedly laid his
plans beforehand, in which he proved himself a true scout, preparing for
eventualities, even though he may not have expected to meet with such an
accident. He remembered that little stream, and even the fact that there
was a small basin scooped out where a pail could be quickly dipped in
and filled. All the more credit to Arthur for his forethought. He doubly
deserves the honor he has won, and I congratulate him on his victory. It
will be an object lesson to the rest of you. In time of peace prepare
for war. And now we will turn our attention to another test. Perhaps
some of the rest may excel in that. I want everyone to do his very best,
and earn marks that will help to take you out of the tenderfoot class
and make second-class scouts."

It was now the turn of Elmer to interest his camp-mates. He had been
looking around before this, and laid his plans, so that he was able to
lead the entire bunch to a neighboring gully, where in the soft mud
alongside a stream he had discovered several distinctly separate sets of
animal tracks.

Here he pointed out to them the marked difference between the trail of a
muskrat from that of a mink, and even went so far as to tell a number of
things which the latter cautious animal had probably done in his passage
down the ravine in search of food.

Mr. Garrabrant listened carefully himself, and nodded approvingly from
time to time, to show how much he liked Elmer's way of reasoning.

"You can see, boys," he remarked finally, when the lesson was over for
that occasion, "what a vast amount of mighty interesting information can
be drawn from so simple a sign as the spoor of a little slender-bodied
mink. Elmer has made a study of the animal, and knows his ways to a dot.
I think he described all that the mink did on his way along here, just
as it actually occurred. And the deeper one dips into such woods' lore,
the more fascinating it is found. All around you are dozens of things
that strike the educated eye as deeply interesting and worthy of study,
but which would never be seen by the tenderfoot. And it is this power of
observation that we wish our boy scouts to employ constantly. Once the
fever takes hold, a new life opens up for the lover of Nature."

After that they busied themselves around the camp doing various things
until lunch time. About the middle of the afternoon three relays, of two
boys each, were sent out in as many different directions. They were not
to take paper or pencil along, but simply to try to impress various
interesting things they happened to meet with, upon their memories, and
after they had returned to camp they would be given a chance to note
these down on paper. The one of each pair who could excel in his
description as to the number and interest of the things seen, would
receive merit marks. And later on the three victors might be pitted
against each other again.

While the six boys were absent, for they had a couple of hours in which
to accomplish their end, those left in camp found plenty to do. Mark
spent some time in developing the films he had exposed thus far, having
a daylight developing bath along with him. In this way he could find a
possible chance to duplicate any pictures that, for some unknown cause,
failed to do justice to the subject. If he waited until they returned
home to get to work, the chances would have gone forever.

Everybody seemed happy but Ted Burgoyne, and he went about with an
expression of gloom on his face that of course may have been assumed.

"Didn't think you took it to heart so, Ted," remarked Elmer, as he
confronted the other, while the rest of the stay-at-homes were busily
debating some question near the camp fire.

"Oh!" exclaimed the scowling one, disconsolately; "it ain't about losing
my chance in that blooming old competition, by falling all over mythelf
in the thtart! Oh! no, that doethn't bother me one little bit, becauth
you thee, I just knew I had no chance against thuch a hustler as Lil
Artha."

"Then your breakfast must have disagreed with you," persisted Elmer,
"though it's the first time I ever knew you had a weak stomach, Ted."

"You're away off again, partner," grumbled Ted. "Fact ith, to tell the
honest truth now, like every good scout ought to do, you're all too
plagued healthy a bunch to thuit me, that'th what."

"What's that--healthy?" remarked Elmer, and then a faint grin began to
creep over his face, as he caught on to the meaning of the words. "Oh! I
see now; your heart's just set on doing good to others, ain't it? You
dream of binding up cuts, and putting soothing liniment on bruises. And
so far, not one of the boys has had the kindness to fall down the rocks,
cut himself with the ax, or even get such a silly thing as a headache.
It's a shame, that's what it is, Ted!"

"Well, you can poke fun all you want," grumbled the would-be surgeon,
with an obstinate shake of his head, "but after a fellowth gone to all
the trouble to lay in a thtock of medicine, and studied up on cuts and
bruises and all thuch things till he just feels bristling all over with
valuable knowledge, it'th mean of the fellowth to take thuch good care
of their precious fingers and toes. What d'ye suppose I'm going to do
for a thubject, if this awful drought keepth on? Why, I don't believe
fourteen wild boys ever kept together tho long before, without lots of
things happening that would be just pie for a fellow of my build. Now--"

But the lamentations of poor Dr. Ted were interrupted at this point, so
Elmer never really knew just how far the matter went, or if after all it
were a joke.

Toby Jones had sprang to his feet, showing the utmost excitement, and
dancing around as though he had suddenly sat upon a wasp's nest.

"What ails the fellow?" remarked Elmer; "he seems to be pointing up at
the top of the mountain, as if he saw something there. Well, I declare,
if that doesn't just beat the Dutch now; and to think that it was Toby,
the boy who is wild over aviation, who first discovered it"; and
meanwhile Toby had found his voice to shriek: "A balloon! look at the
balloon, would you, fellows? And she's coming right down here into my
hungry arms! Oh! glory! such great luck!"



CHAPTER VII.

THE LOST SKY TRAVELER.


HALF a dozen boys started to cry out at once, as they stared at the
great bulky object that was apparently settling down, after passing
around a spur of the mountain above.

"She's coming right at us, fellows!" shouted one.

"Ain't that a pilot hanging to the old basket?" demanded a second.

"Nixy it ain't, Jasper. Go get your glasses, so you can see better. That
basket is plumb empty, and that's a fact. The bally old balloon's
deserted, boys!" Lil Artha declared, and as he was known to have
particularly trustworthy vision, the balance of the group accepted his
word as the right thing.

Apparently the balloon had been steadily losing gas of late, for the
enormous bag had a collapsed look. It seemed to have gotten into some
circular current of air, once beyond the mountain, for it kept moving
around in spirals, all the time dropping slowly but positively. So that
unless a new breeze caught it, the chance seemed to be that it would
actually alight on the shore of the lake, close to the camp.

"Get ready to man the boats if it falls in the lake, boys!" called Mr.
Garrabrant, who recognized the fact that such a balloon must be worth
considerable to his little troop in the way of salvage, and was
determined to do what he could to save it from sinking out of sight.

But in the end it managed to drop on the pebbly beach. The very first to
touch the collapsed gas bag was the exuberant Toby Jones, wild with
delight over this remarkable happening that had come to him.

"I claim it by right of discovery, and the first to lay a hand on the
balloon!" he shouted, as he fondly ran his fingers along the strong
material of which the air vessel was constructed.

"Where on earth could it have come from?" more than one of the boys
asked, as they surveyed the immense girth of silken cloth with wondering
eyes.

"There's a circus over at Warrendale," announced Ted. "Perhaps she broke
away from there in a wind storm, or else bucked the aviators out. Whew!
think of tumbling down hundreds of feet! Guess I couldn't 'a' been of
much use around there, if that's what happened to the air navigators;
the more the pity," and Ted actually looked discontented, as though
another golden opportunity had slipped past him.

"Sounds like a good guess, Ted," remarked Elmer; "but there happen to be
several things to knock it silly."

"As what?" demanded the boy with the long legs, who always wanted to be
shown.

"For instance, you know where Warrendale lies, off to the east from
here," the scout leader explained, in the most accommodating way
possible, "while this thing must have come from the west! You saw it
sail over the mountain up there, and we've been having constant west
winds for several days now. Isn't that so, Mr. Garrabrant?"

"Every word of it, Elmer," replied the gentleman, who was never happier
than when listening to this wide-awake scout substantiating his claim.

"And besides, here's a name sewed to the balloon--_Republic_! Seems to
me, sir, I've seen that name before. Unless I'm away off it was one of
the big gas bags entered for that long-distance endurance race, which
was to come off away out in St. Louis, or somewhere along the
Mississippi River."

"Oh! my, just to think of it, fellows!" gasped Toby, his face fairly
aglow with overwhelming delight, while he continued to fondle the
material of which the collapsible balloon was constructed, as though he
might be almost worshiping the same.

"Why, that's hundreds and hundreds of miles away!" declared another
incredulous one.

"Don't seem possible, does it, that a balloon could sail that far?" a
third had the temerity to remark, when Toby turned upon him instantly,
saying:

"Say, you don't read the papers, do you? If you did you'd know that in a
drifting race a balloon went all the way without touching ground from
St. Louis up into New England, while another passed over into Canada
away up above Quebec, and won the race. Others fell near Baltimore, and
such places. There can't be any doubt about it, boys, this wanderer has
drifted all the way from the old Mississippi. But whatever could have
become of her crew?"

The thought saddened them for the time being, but it was difficult for
Toby to subdue the excitement under which he was laboring.

"Oh! if I only knew how to manufacture gas so as to fill her up again,
mebbe I wouldn't like to take a spin, and surprise the Hickory Ridge
people, though! Think how my dad's eyes would bulge out, fellows, when I
landed right in his dooryard, and asked how ma was? Ted, you know lots
of things--can't you tell me how to make hot air?"

Ted did not answer, only grinned and looked toward Lil Artha so very
suggestively that the rest burst out into a howl, for the long-legged
boy was known to be something of an orator, who could speak for half an
hour if warmed up to his subject.

"None for sale!" remarked that individual, promptly, whereat Toby
pretended to be grievously disappointed, for he gave the tall boy a look
of scorn, saying:

"There he goes again, fellows; declining to make a martyr of himself for
the sake of science. Why, I even heard Dr. Ted offering to sew on his
finger again so neat that no one could tell where it had been separated,
and would you believe it, Lil Artha was mean enough to abjectly decline?
But I'm going to think over it, and if I can only fill this big bag with
gas I'll leave camp on a little foraging expedition, to bring back more
grub. For Ginger is eating us out of house and home, ain't he, Mr.
Garrabrant?"

So they laughed and joked as they continued to gather around the balloon
that had seemingly dropped from the skies. Elmer alone was thoughtful.
He could not but wonder what the story connected with the _Republic_
might be. Had the brave pilot and his assistant been thrown out in some
storm which they were endeavoring to ride out? If that proved true, then
the history of the fallen balloon must be a tragic one.

Under the direction of the scout master they dragged the tremendous bag,
now emptied of its gaseous contents, and piled it up close to the camp.
When the time came for the return trip possibly they might find some
means for transporting the balloon to the home town, and when the fact
of its discovery was published in the great New York dailies, the name
of Hickory Ridge would become famous.

This new event afforded plenty of topics for conversation. As usual the
boys argued the matter pro and con. They even took sides, and debated
with considerable heat the various phases of the happening.

Some of them got out paper and pencil to figure just how many hours it
might take a balloon to come all the way from St. Louis for instance,
granting that a westerly breeze prevailed. All sorts of ideas prevailed
as to the number of miles an hour the wind had blown, ranging from five
to fifty.

In the end, after all theories had been ventilated, the boys were no
nearer a solution of the mystery than before, only it seemed now to be
the consensus of opinion that the _Republic_ must have been entered in
some race, and possibly away out on the bank of the mighty river that
divides our republic almost in half.

"About time some of our strollers turned up, I should think," remarked
Mr. Garrabrant, as he and Elmer sat in front of the tents, listening to
the jabbering of the disputants, though all the argument was carried on
in good temper.

"Speak of an angel, and you hear its wings," laughed the scout leader,
as a shrill halloo came from the woods close by.

Two of the boys who had gone forth to observe such things as they came
across, presently appeared in camp. They looked tired and hungry, and
began to sniff the appetizing odors that were beginning to permeate the
camp, for several messes of beans were cooking, and Ginger was employed
in preparing a heap of big onions for a grand fry that would just about
fill the bill, most of the boys thought.

But while the incidents accompanying their long walk and climb were
still fresh in their memories they were made to sit down alone, and
write a list of those things they could recall, and which had impressed
them most of all.

Presently two more weary pilgrims came in sight, limping along, and only
too glad to get back safe and sound. Ted kept an eager watch and tally
as they made their appearance. His face was seen to drop several degrees
when, in answer to the solicitous inquiries of the scout master, they
reported no accidents, and all sound.

"There goeth another golden opportunity!" Ted exclaimed, shaking his
head in real or assumed disgust. "I never thaw thuch ungrateful fellers
in all my life. Why, it begins to look like _nobody_ would even get a
finger thcratched. I expect after all I'll just have to get Tom Cropthey
to let me pull that tooth of hith that aches like thixty. I hate to come
down to it, but thomething's got to be done to thave the country!"

"It don't hurt now, I tell you," remonstrated Tom. "You needn't go to
coaxin' me any more, because I tell you right off that I ain't meanin'
to have it out when it acts decent like. Wait till she gets me goin'
again, anyhow. And that's straight off the reel, take it or leave it."

The second couple were likewise settled off, each fellow by himself, and
the balance of the troop ordered not to disturb the train of their
thoughts until both had jotted down the smallest item that they had
noticed. In the end the papers would be read aloud, and many interesting
things be disclosed, showing what a fund of knowledge there lies all
around one at any time, if only he chooses to take notice of the same.

"That leaves only Red and Larry to be heard from," remarked Mr.
Garrabrant, who believed he had great reason to congratulate himself, as
well as his boys, on the fact that thus far so little had happened to
cause trouble, no matter how much the ambitious, and only too willing,
doctor-surgeon might bewail his hard luck.

"They ought to be coming soon, sir, because it won't be long before
dusk now. And I don't think either of those boys would care to be lost
up here after nightfall," Elmer observed, listening as though he fancied
he had caught some suggestive sound up the steep slope, that might
betray the coming of the last pair.

"I wonder did any of the others happen to see them?" said the scout
master. "Here comes the first couple, having finished their task. This
way, boys, please; I want to ask if either of you in the course of your
wanderings happened to run across Oscar Huggins and Larry Billings? They
are the only missing scouts, and as the hour is growing late, I would
like to get a point as to where they may be."

Neither of the returned ones, however, could give him the least
information, nor was he able to succeed any better when he asked the
other couple. Apparently the absent pair must have taken a course
entirely different from any of their comrades.

The twilight now began to gather under the shelter of the high mountain,
and Mr. Garrabrant looked a bit worried. If the boys had been
unfortunate enough as to lose themselves, he knew that they had taken
plenty of matches along, and moreover they had been instructed in
various devices whereby they might communicate with their comrades, by
waving a burning torch, for instance, from some high elevation, certain
movements standing for letters in the Morse code, as used by the Signal
Corps of the army.

"I think I hear voices up yonder, sir," remarked Elmer, coming up behind
the scout master, who was watching the finishing preparations for supper
that were going on at the several fires.

"Yes, I thought so myself, and what you say, Elmer, makes me more
positive," Mr. Garrabrant observed, a smile taking the place of the
grave look on his handsome face. "Yes, there they come yonder, looking
as tired as the others. And it may be that I deceive myself, but it
strikes me both lads seem to be greatly excited over something or other.
I sincerely hope nothing has happened to injure them. I notice no limp
in their gait, and each seems to have the full use of both arms. What
can have happened to them now?"

"At any rate we'll soon know, sir, for here they are," said Elmer,
encouragingly, as Red and Larry limped up to the camp, and with sundry
grunts sank upon a log as if to signify how utterly exhausted they might
be.

"But tired or not, sir, we're just ready to go out again with you, after
we've had some supper," declared Red, to the utter wonderment of the
clustering scouts.

"Then I was right in my surmise, and you _have_ run across something out
of the common, boys?" remarked Mr. Garrabrant.

"Yes, sir," Red promptly replied, "we certainly have; and many times we
felt mad to think we came away to get help instead of staying there, and
trying ourselves to investigate, so as to find out what the groans meant
we heard coming from that lonely hut!"



CHAPTER VIII.

A BLAZED TRAIL.


THERE was a chorus of exclamations from the gathered scouts, when they
heard Red express himself in this startling way. Eyes grew round with
wonder, and more than one lad almost held his breath, as he waited to
catch further particulars of the strange happening that had befallen
their two chums during their tramp.

"Where was this at, Oscar?" asked the scout master, quickly, alive to
the importance of ascertaining all there was to be made known.

"I think it must have been all of a mile and a half from here, sir,"
returned Red, who seldom heard his real name mentioned save in school or
at home.

"And the way is mighty rough, too, sir," Larry put in, rubbing his chin
as if it might pain him somewhat, which action caused Ted to grin, and
nod his head.

"Thee you later, Larry," he muttered. "I bet you now, I don't let thith
chance get away from me. That boy'th badly hurt, and just won't
acknowledge it, but wait till Dr. Ted geth hold of him, that'th what."

"Do you think you can lead us back there, in case we make up our minds
to go to-night after supper?" Mr. Garrabrant continued.

"Easy, sir," came the answer, in confident tones. "You see, we made it a
point to mark the trail as we came along, by cutting the trunks of
trees, and breaking branches so as to catch the eye. Elmer was telling
us lately how he did once when lost in the timber in Canada, the 'bush'
he called it, and we remembered."

"That's just fine, Oscar," commented the scout master, as though pleased
at so great a show of forethought in two of his charges. "It shows what
this business is already doing for all of you--teaching you to use your
heads at any and all times. That was well done, and I imagine we'll have
little or no difficulty in tracing your progress back, even if you are
too tired to accompany us, for we will have Elmer along."

"Oh! but I'm bound to go, if I have to drag my game leg behind me,"
asserted Red. "You see, both of us feel sore over coming away without
trying longer to find out what it was groaning so in that cabin, and we
want to make good."

"Does it hurt you _very_ much, Red?" asked the solicitous Ted, coming up
with a face that seemed marked with feeling.

"Sure it does, Ted," replied the other, promptly, "and I'm going to ask
you to rub some liniment on right away. Reckon I just sprained it a
little, slipping down the side of the mountain."

"Good for you, Red!" ejaculated the pleased amateur surgeon, as he
clasped the other by the arm. "Come right along with me, and I'll fix
you up in a jiffy. Only too glad to be of thervice. And Red, you're the
only gentleman--" he suddenly paused, gave one smiling look around at
the frowning faces of his mates, and then completed his sentence: "who
hath applied to me for treatment. I'll never forget this kindneth,
never!"

"Hold on!" remarked the scout master. "We must know a little more about
this matter before you drag your patient away; though of course we
expect him to survive the treatment. Tell us about the lone cabin,
Oscar. How did you happen on it?"

"We had turned," Red started to say, "and were heading toward home, when
all of a sudden I thought I heard a plain human groan. Larry said he had
caught some sort of sound, too. So we began to advance in that
direction, going slow-like, because you see we didn't know what sort of
trickery we might be up against. Then we caught sight of a cabin that
was half hidden among the trees and bushes."

"Ugh!" Larry broke in with, "it just gave us both the creeps, sir, to
see how awful lonely the old place looked, run down and neglected like.
If Chatz had been along, he'd sure have believed his pet ghost lived
there."

"But surely two sensible chaps like you and Oscar wouldn't think of such
a thing as that?" remarked Mr. Garrabrant.

"Oh! no, sir," replied Red, after shooting a swift look toward his
comrade in misery. "But you see, the groans kept on acomin' out of that
window, and we could hear voices too. We didn't hardly now what to do,
go on and knock at the door, or hurry back here to report. Larry, he
gave me a cold chill, I admit sir, when he just accidentally said that
it might be a ease of smallpox in that hut--you know there were some
cases this last spring to the north of the Ridge."

"And after talking it over, you decided that the wisest thing to be done
was to make your way to camp, and throw the responsibility on my
shoulders?" said the scout master. "Well, perhaps it was far better you
did this than take chances. I have no doubt but what you might have
adopted a different course if you had not had help near by."

"Yes, sir, that's just what I said to Larry--that you'd know best what
ought to be done; but that if we were all alone in the region, we'd
just have to go up to the door and knock."

"And so you set out to reach camp as fast as you could?" continued Mr.
Garrabrant.

"That's what we did sir, and in such a hurry that several times we
slipped and barked our shins, while I got a jar when I tumbled."

"Oh! I'll fix that all right, in three thhakes of a lam'th tail, if
you'll only come over to my tent," said Ted, tugging at the arm of each
returned wanderer.

And unable to resist his urgent plea, they allowed him to lead them
away. Later on when they once more appeared, as supper was announced by
the assembly call, the pair of wounded scouts admitted that Dr. Ted had
indeed done wonders, inasmuch that their pains had miraculously
vanished, and they felt able to undertake the rough journey again--after
they had broken their fast.

There was much speculation during the meal as to whom Mr. Garrabrant
would select to accompany him on his trip. Of course Elmer was a
foregone conclusion, as his natural ability along the line of following
a blazed trail might come in pat.

But the scout master settled all doubts by announcing toward the close
of the meal that he wished Red, Elmer, Arthur, Dr. Ted (in case his
services were needed), Jack Armitage and Ty Collins to accompany him.

No one murmured, for they knew it would do no good. Larry started to ask
why he had been left out; but Mr. Garrabrant had noted his pallor, and
understood that he did not possess the sturdy physique his comrade of
the tramp boasted, and on that account had better remain in camp.

Another thing some of the observing lads noticed, and this was the fact
that as a rule those selected, outside of Dr. Ted, were the strongest
in the troop. Perhaps, then, Mr. Garrabrant might anticipate trouble of
some sort, and wished to have a healthy band of scouts at his back,
especially since none of them carried arms of any kind--though the scout
master really did have a revolver secreted in his bag, which, unseen by
any of the boys, he now made sure to hide on his person.

There could be no telling what they might find themselves up against.
Rumor had it that certain hard characters at one time made their
headquarters somewhere up in the woods around the lakes, and who could
say that the lone cabin might not prove to be a nest of yeggmen or
hoboes?

"How does your thprain feel; think you can thtand it?" asked Ted of Red,
as they got up from around the fire and prepared to sally forth on their
mission of mercy.

"If you hadn't reminded me of it just then, I'd sure never have thought
I had a game leg," remarked the other. "You're all to the good when it
comes to doctoring a fellow, Ted; if only you wouldn't talk so much
about sawing off legs and all such awful things."

"Well, I'll be along in ease you feel it again, and I'll make thure to
carry a tin of that magic liniment," remarked the ambitious surgeon, as
he reentered the tent, to make up a little package of things he thought
might come in handy in case they found some one sick in the hut.

Meanwhile, acting on the suggestion of Elmer, the other boys selected
such stout canes and cudgels as lay around camp.

"Be prepared!" grinned Lil Artha, as he swung a particularly dangerous
looking club around his head until it fairly whistled through the air.
"That's the motto of the Boy Scouts, and I reckon it applies in a case
of this kind, just as much as when stopping a runaway horse. I'm
prepared to give a good account of myself, that's dead certain."

Mr. Garrabrant had fetched out a couple of lanterns, making sure that
the oil receptacles were well filled, so that they would last through
the journey, going and returning.

"Now we're off, boys," he remarked, with a pleasant smile. "The rest of
you stay here and look close after the camp. I've appointed Mark
Cummings to serve in my place while I'm gone, and shall expect every
scout to pay him just as much respect as though I were present. Lead
off, Oscar, we're with you."

Red took up his place at the head of the little bunch. He carried one of
the lanterns with which he cast sufficient light ahead to see where he
was going.

"First to take you to the seven sentry chestnuts," he said. "We named
'em that, of course, when we came on 'em. The blazed trail commences
right there, sir. We didn't think it worth while to do any more slicing
of bark after that, because we knew we could easy enough find our way
back to that place."

And he did lead the party to the seven chestnuts, with only one or two
periods of hesitation, during which he had to puzzle things out.

"There's the first blaze on that oak yonder," he remarked, pointing as
he spoke. "We tried to make the marks close enough so as to show by
lantern light, because we both had an idea you'd want to come on before
morning, sir."

Elmer was at the side of the leader by this time, prepared to lend his
experience in case the other ran up against a snag. He took especial
note of the general direction in which the numerous blazes seemed to
run. And when presently Red confessed that he was "stumped" if he could
see where the next mark ought to be, Elmer had them hold up while he
walked forward in the quarter where, on general principles, he imagined
the blaze should be. And in another minute his soft "cooee" told his
comrades that he had, sure enough, found the missing mark.

Many times did Red have to fall back on Elmer to help him out. His
blazes had apparently been further apart than he had realized at the
time he made them. But the boy who had lived in Canada, and experienced
all sorts of frontier life, knew just how to go about making the needed
discovery; and in every instance success rewarded his efforts.

"We're getting close to the place now," Red finally announced, as he
limped along, refusing to allow Ted the privilege of rubbing his
strained leg again, because he did not want to waste the time.

"Then you recognize some of the landmarks?" suggested Mr. Garrabrant.

"Yes, sir, I do that," came the confident reply. "In another five
minutes I think we'll be able to see something of that queer cabin that
is half hidden in the dense undergrowth."

"Perhaps less than five minutes," remarked Elmer, quietly. "Look yonder,
sir, and you'll just catch a glimpse of what seems to be a tiny speck of
light. I think that must spring from the window of the hut Red speaks
of."

"You are right again, Elmer, as always," replied the scout master,
drawing in a long breath. "Now, forward, slowly, boys. Let no one
stumble, if it can possibly be avoided; for we do not know what we may
be up against. But if there is anyone suffering in that cabin, it is our
duty to investigate, no matter what the danger. Elmer, lead the way with
me, please."

Cautiously they crept forward, foot by foot. Doubtless many a heart beat
faster than ordinary, because there was a certain air of mystery
hovering over the whole affair, and they could imagine a dozen separate
strange sights that might meet their vision once they peeped into the
little window of that isolated cabin.

But no one would ever confess that such a thing as fear tugged at the
strings of his heart. Already the discipline they had been under since
joining the scout movement was bearing fruit; timidity was put aside
with a stern hand, and keeping in a bunch they advanced until presently
those in the lead were able to rise up from hands and knees, glueing
their eager eyes upon the little opening through which came the light
that had guided them to the spot.

And right then and there they heard a groan, so full of suffering and
misery that it went straight to the heart of every boy who had been
drafted by the scout master to accompany him on this strange night
errand.



CHAPTER IX.

WHAT THE LONE CABIN CONTAINED.


WHEN Elmer Chenowith looked through that opening, what he saw was so
entirely different from what he had anticipated discovering that he
could hardly believe his eyes at first.

With all the fancy of a boy, who gives free rein to his imagination,
doubtless he had fully expected to discover several gruff-looking hoboes
gathered there, perhaps engaged in torturing one of their kind, or some
wretched party who had fallen into their power.

Nothing of the sort. The very first object Elmer saw was a small boy,
dressed in ragged clothes, and who was trying to blow a dying fire into
life again.

This did not look very alarming; and so Elmer cast his eyes further
afield, with the result that presently another moving object riveted his
attention. Why, surely that must be a girl, for her long hair seemed to
indicate as much! What was she bending over? Was that a rude cot?

Then the strange truth burst upon Elmer like a cannon shot. The
groans--they must indicate that a sick person lay there, and these two
small children (for the boy could not be over six, while the girl might
be eight) were trying to carry out the combined duties of nurse, doctor
and cook!

"Oh!"

It was Red himself who gave utterance to this low exclamation. He was
peering in at the opening over the shoulder of Mr. Garrabrant, and what
he saw was so vastly different from his expectations that he received a
severe "jolt," as he himself afterwards expressed it.

Perhaps the sound, low as it was, reached the ears of the little girl
guardian of the sick bed. They saw her give a jump, and immediately a
pair of startled blue eyes were staring in the direction of the opening.

"Come!" said Mr. Garrabrant to his boys, "there is no need of any more
secrecy. I think we are needed here, and badly, too."

He led the way around the corner of the lone lodge, with the scouts
tagging at his heels, only too willing to follow. Reaching the door of
the cabin they were about to enter, when Mr. Garrabrant uttered an
exclamation of alarm.

"Get on to the girl, would you?" gasped Lil Artha; and there was no need
of his attempting to explain, since his chums could see for themselves.

Small though she was, the girl had snatched up a long-barreled gun, and
was now actually menacing the intruders. Her white face had a desperate
look upon it, as though at some time in the past the child had been
warned that there were bad men to be met with in those woods. As for the
little chap, he had hold of the hatchet with which at the time he must
have been cutting kindling wood; for he clutched it in his puny hand,
and looked like a dwarfed wildcat at bay.

Elmer, as long as he lived, would never forget that picture. And as for
the other boys, not one of them could so much as utter a single word.

"Hold on, my child!" cried Mr. Garrabrant, raising his hands to show
that they did not hold any sort of weapon; "we are friends, and would be
only too glad to be of help to you. One of us is something of a doctor,
if it happens that anyone is sick here. Please let us come in."

Perhaps it was the kindly look of the handsome young scout master--then
again his voice may have influenced the frightened girl; or the fact
that those in the open doorway were mostly boys might have had
considerable to do with it. Then again that magical word "doctor" must
have thrilled her through and through.

The gun fell to the floor, and the relieved girl burst into a flood of
tears.

"It's dad!" she cried, moving a hand toward the rude cot behind her; and
as the eyes of the boys flitted thither again, they saw a bearded and
very sick looking man trying to raise himself up on his elbow.

Mr. Garrabrant immediately went toward him, uttering reassuring words,
that no doubt did much to relieve the alarm of the occupant of the rude
bed. Wisely had the long-headed scout master caused one of the boys to
carry some food along, not knowing what necessity might arise. He saw
that hunger was holding sway in this lone cabin as well as sickness. And
while Red started the fire to going, Ty Collins proceeded to unwrap the
package of meat and bread, as well as the coffee and tea he had "toted"
all the way from camp.

Mr. Garrabrant with a few questions learned the simple story. The man
was a charcoal burner in the summer season, while he pursued the arduous
labor of a lumberman in the winter. A few months before his wife had
suddenly died, leaving him with these two small but very independent
children.

Abe Morris, his name was, while the boy carried that of Felix; and
whenever the cabin dweller spoke of the girl it was always as "Little
Lou." He had hated to leave the retired home where he had spent so many
pleasant years, and near which his wife was buried. And so he had
managed to get along, with the girl cooking his meals and playing the
part of housekeeper wonderfully well; while even Felix could do his
stunt of gathering firewood and looking after a few simple traps in
which he caught muskrats.

When the boys heard that this small edition of a lad had been able to
actually outwit the shrewd animals of the marsh, they looked at each
other in dismay, as though wondering whether he might not have a better
right to the title of scout that any among them.

Things had gone fairly well with the widower until a week back, when an
accident had brought him almost to death's door. Managing to drag
himself home, he had swooned from loss of blood. Since that time he had
suffered tortures, more of the mind than of the body, since he dreaded
the thought of what would become of his children should death claim him.

They had done wonderfully well. When Dr. Ted got busy, he praised the
simple but clever work of that eight-year-old girl, in binding up such a
severe wound. Perhaps Little Lou may have learned how to do this from
the mother who was gone, or it might be it came just natural to her.
When children live away from the world, and are forced to depend upon
themselves for everything, it is amazing how they can do things that
would puzzle those twice their age, when pampered in comfortable homes.
Necessity forces them to reach out and attempt things, just as she
teaches the child to use its limbs, and utter sounds.

Once they realized that these were kind friends who had come so
opportunely to their rescue, Felix and Little Lou found their voices,
and proved that they could talk, as Lil Artha put it, "a blue streak."

And when they sat down to a supper such as they had not tasted for many
a day, both of the children of the charcoal burner were comparatively
happy. As for the man himself, he wrung the hands of Mr. Garrabrant and
each of the Boy Scouts as they took their leave, calling down blessings
on their heads for what they had done.

"We're going to see you through, Abe," the scout master had said
positively. "We intend being up here ten days or so, and during that
time I fully expect our Dr. Ted will be able to have you hobbling around
again. Then you've got to come down to Hickory Ridge when we send a
vehicle of some sort up here for you. This is no place for a man to
think of bringing up two such fine youngsters as you possess. They must
have a chance to go to school, and I promise you all the work you want,
so that you can live in or near town. It may have been different so long
as your good wife was with you, but now it would be next door to a crime
to think of staying here, even for the balance of the summer. You will
come, won't you?"

"Sure I will, Mr. Garrabrant!" exclaimed the rough man; who, however,
used better language than might have been expected. "And it's the
luckiest day of my whole life when those two lads discovered my shack
here. Heaven only knows what would have become of us only for that."

They left the queer home in the wilderness with Felix and Little Lou
waving their hands vigorously after them, standing in the doorway, and
plainly seen against the firelight behind.

And there was not one among those boys but who felt a warm sensation in
the region of his heart, such as always comes when a kind deed has been
performed.

Mr. Garrabrant had been greatly affected by the incident; nor did he
hesitate to express himself warmly on the journey back to the camp,
which by the way Elmer managed to accomplish without even one error of
judgment, much to the admiration of his chums, who watched his actions
eagerly, desirous of picking up points calculated to enhance their
reputation as scouts.

"Boys, you may have made other tramps, going skating, hunting, playing
baseball, and the like; but take my word for it, you never acquitted
yourselves better than on this night. I'm proud of every one of you, and
I thank you in the name of poor Abe Morris. And if there happens to be
anyone here who has been wearing his badge upside down through the day,
because he failed to find a chance to do anybody a good turn, I hereby
give him full permission to set it right."

"Hurrah! that touches me, sir!" exclaimed Jack Armitage. "I've been
wondering all along just how in the wide world I was going to find a
chance to do my little kind deed stunt. There ain't any old ladies to
help across the street up here; and dooryards to clear up of trash are
as scarce as hens' teeth. But you've eased my mind a heap, Mr.
Garrabrant. Perhaps you'll let me do some of the running over to Abe's
cabin each day, to carry him supplies. That sturdy little chap just took
my eye, and when I get back home I'm going to get father to give Abe a
job in his flooring mill."

"That's nice of you, Jack," replied the pleased scout master. "And it
does your heart credit. Between us all, it will be very strange if we
can't fix up that little family, and bring some happiness to their bleak
home. Think of those two brave kiddies keeping house for their father
amid such desolate surroundings. No wonder they made me think of a pair
of wildcats ready to defend their den as we bustled in. They seldom see
a living soul but their father, now that the mother has been laid away.
But we must be nearly back at camp, I should judge, Elmer? At any rate,
I admit that I'm beginning to feel leg weary, not being used to this
work of tramping over the side of a rough mountain."

"But just think of Red, here, thir," broke in Dr. Ted, who had a helping
arm around the lame member of the expedition. "He thure detherves a
medal for what he's done. Tramping all thith distance with that thore
ankle ith--well, I wath going to thay heroic, but I guess he wouldn't
like that. Anyhow, I think pretty much all the credit ought to go to
Red."

"Now, just you hold your horses there!" declared the party in question,
trying to repress a groan, as he had a rude twinge of pain shoot up his
left leg. "I owe all this to myself, and more, because I made the
mistake of running off without finding out what that groan meant. I've
wanted to kick myself ever since. It ain't often I play the part of a
sneak, and it makes me sore. So whenever my leg hurts I just grin and
say to myself: 'Serves you right, you coward, for running away, instead
of investigating, like a true scout should have done!'"

"You are too severe on yourself, Oscar," remarked Mr. Garrabrant,
soothingly; for he knew the impulsive and warm-hearted nature of the boy
who was taking himself so much to task. "When your companion suggested
that perhaps there was a case of smallpox in that hut, it was your duty
to come to me and report, rather than take the awful responsibility on
your young shoulders. And I mean to see to it that you get many good
marks for what you have done this night--not you alone, but every boy
who accompanied me on this errand of mercy."

"There's the camp fire, sir!" exclaimed Elmer, at this moment.

"I bet you Redth glad to see it, poor old chap!" remarked Dr. Ted.

"Shucks! I reckon I could have stood it a little while longer!" declared
the limping one; but when he presently reached the home camp, and sank
down on a blanket, the pain he had been silently enduring all the return
trip was too much for him, and Red actually fainted.

Of course he was quickly brought to, and Dr. Ted looked to the injured
limb.

"You'll have to lie around pretty much all the balance of the time we're
run up in thith neck of the woodth, old fellow," was his announcement;
which dictum made Red do what the pain had failed to accomplish, groan
dismally.

Of course those who had been left behind were fairly clamorous to know
what had happened. So sitting there by the crackling fire, with all
those bright and eager faces surrounding him, the scout master, assisted
at times by Elmer, Ted or Lil Artha, described their long jaunt over the
grim mountainside, the finding of the lone cabin, just as Red and Larry
had said, and what wonderful discovery they had made upon peering in
through the open window.

And every boy felt that a golden opportunity had come to their
organization that night to live up to the high ideals the Boy Scout
movement stands for.



CHAPTER X.

WIGWAGGING FROM THE MOUNTAIN PEAK.


"IANOTHER fine day for a few more tests, and such things, fellows!" sang
out Chatz Maxfield, on the following morning, after they had finished
breakfast.

The night had actually passed without any sign of alarm. Although Chatz
had fully anticipated a return of his stalking ghost, while he stood out
his turn as a sentry, he had met with disappointment, for nothing
happened. Still, he did not wholly give up hope of meeting up with the
"misty white object" again. The jeers of his mates had begun to take
effect, and Chatz really wanted to have the thing settled, one way or
the other, as soon as possible. Either there were such things as ghosts,
or there were not. And he wished to be convinced, declaring that he was
open to conviction, if only they could prove to the contrary.

"Yes," remarked Mark Cummings, who was near by, with others of the
scouts; "and I guess Mr. Garrabrant has laid out a bully and strenuous
old day for the lot of us, barring Red and Ginger, who are to keep camp.
He speaks of sending one bunch to the top of Mount Pisgah, as this peak
is called, while another tries to climb Mount Horab yonder. They ought
to get up there about noon, and for two hours wigwag to each other,
sending and receiving messages that are to be kept in books provided for
the purpose. Then, at night, when we all meet again around the camp
fire, we'll have heaps of fun, seeing just how stupid we've been in our
Signal Corps work."

"Don't you forget, Mark," said Red, who was lounging on a log close by,
"that you promised to let me try a few prints from those negatives you
developed and fixed. I'm a pretty good hand at that work, so they tell
me at home, and I'd like to see how we all look up here in camp."

"All right, Red," replied Mark, cheerfully. "You shall do the job, and
welcome. I've seen some of your work, and it's sure the best ever. I'll
fix up a place in the tent here, where you can hobble if you want to,
after you've done your printing and want to fix the pictures."

"But you want to go easy on that leg, remember," warned Dr. Ted, shaking
a finger at his patient, just as he had seen the old family doctor do
many a time.

"You and Jack are bound over the side of the mountain to visit the Abe
Morris family, I heard?" remarked Chatz, speaking to Ted.

"Yeth, it is a professional visit on my part," replied the other,
pretending to look very dignified. "But Mr. Garrabrant hath promithed
that everyone of you shall have a turn to accompany me day by day, tho
ath to make the acquaintance of those two brave kiddies, as he calls
them, Felix and Little Lou."

"I'm right glad to hear that, suh," remarked Chatz; "from what you all
tell me, I'm quite anxious to meet up with that boy and girl. And if
Jack falls through with his plan of getting Abe employment in his
father's mill, I think I know just where he would fit into a good
position."

The two companies left camp about eight o'clock. Dr. Ted and Jack
Armitage waved them good-by, for they too were getting ready to start on
their errand to the lone cabin in the woods.

Elmer headed one group of scouts, while Mr. Garrabrant had charge of the
other. They carried plenty of lunch along, though it was expected that
they would surely be back before evening had set in.

The scout master was not at all positive about his thorough knowledge of
woodcraft; for as yet it was almost wholly theoretical rather than
practical with him.

"I am not above getting lost, in spite of my book knowledge," he had
laughed, as he selected what boys were to accompany him; "and that is
why I take Matty Eggleston, Mark Cummings, and Arthur Stansbury among my
followers; because next to Elmer, they are known to possess practical
ideas concerning this traveling in unknown timber. So good-by, lads;
we'll look to have a good talk with you across the valley."

So day after day he expected to put the scouts "through their paces," as
Lil Artha called it. To-day it was to be the great hike to the tops of
the mountains, and the wigwagging contest between the two factions.
To-morrow he meant to have Elmer give further lessons along the line of
following a trail, showing just how an experienced woodsman can tell
from many sources how long ago the party had passed; the number of which
it consisted; whether they were men, women or children; white or
Indians; and even describing some of the marked peculiarities of the
members comprising it.

Then later on they would have swimming contests; first aid to the
injured lessons; resuscitating a person who has come near being drowned;
cooking rivalry; athletics; and many other things connected with the
open life.

It proved a long and arduous tramp for Elmer and his companions. He had
had the privilege of choosing which mountain he would attempt to scale,
and just like an ambitious boy, had selected the one he felt sure would
be the more difficult.

Those who followed his lead had many times to beg of him to halt and
take a little breathing spell, for the way was very rough and much
climbing of rocks had to be done in order to mount upward.

"Wow! are we ever going to get up there?" grunted Toby, who had just
hated to come on this expedition at all, when he would much rather have
liked hanging around camp, and examining the deflated balloon; no doubt
dreaming dreams of the time when he hoped to have the chance to soar
away among the clouds in one of those gas bags.

"Seems like that mountain top is just nigh as far away from us as ever,"
complained Larry Billings, who was puffing at a great rate, as he seemed
to be rather short winded, and had to be taken to task several times for
his faulty manner of walking.

"Oh! no, you're greatly mistaken there," laughed Elmer. "Distances are
deceptive in the mountains, to anyone not used to measuring them with
the eye. Just wait a little, and all at once you're going to realize
that we're getting up handsomely. Look across the valley, and see how
high we are right now! That proves it, Larry."

"Hey! what's that moving, away up on that other hill, Elmer?" cried
Jasper Merriweather, the novice and real tenderfoot of the crowd; who,
under the careful supervision of the scout leader of the Wolf Patrol,
was actually doing himself proud, and gaining new confidence in his
abilities with each passing hour.

Elmer followed the line of his outstretched finger.

"You deserve considerable praise, Jasper, for making that discovery," he
declared, presently. "I can see what you mean now; though when I looked
across before I didn't happen to notice. Yes, that's our other squad,
climbing up just like we are, and not making any better job of it
either, I think."

"Ho! they ain't near as far up, for a fact," said Nat Scott, with
pardonable pride, since he had developed into a pretty good climber.

"Well, that mountain is not so tall as ours; but then it may be even
rougher, for all we know," observed Elmer. "I picked out this one
because it was so high, and I always want to tackle the hardest job, if
I've got any choice. It makes you feel all the better if you win out.
But come on, fellows, let's pitch in. Given one more good hour's work,
and I think we ought to be pretty near the crown."

"I hope so!" sighed poor Larry, who was puffing still, and rubbing his
leg where he had hurt it a little on the previous day; though it was
nothing so bad as Red's injury, aggravated as it had been by his
stubborn determination to return to the lone hut and accompany the
relief party.

Once more they struggled upward. Sometimes they found the going so very
difficult that they were obliged to give each other a helping hand.

Of course the view grew finer the higher they went.

"Say, Elmer," remarked Toby, as they halted later on to get their
breath; "d'ye suppose now we'll be able to glimpse dear old Hickory
Ridge when we get up to the top of this mole hill?"

"Sure we will," replied the leader, cheerily. "And that alone ought to
pay us for all our trouble. We've only been away a couple of days or so,
but I reckon it seems an age to a lot of us, since we saw the home
folks."

There was an ominous silence after that remark. Doubtless every scout
was allowing his thoughts to roam tenderly back to that beloved home
which he knew sheltered those who were so dear to his heart. And
possibly, unseen by his fellows, a tear may even have rolled unbidden
down more than one cheek. For they were but boys, after all, and same of
them had never even been so far away from the home nest before.

Elmer proved to be a true prophet, for ere the full hour was up even the
doubting Larry was obliged to confess that they had gained a point not
far from the summit.

This seemed to inspire the laggards to renewed efforts, so that
presently, with loud cries of delight and admiration, the whole bunch
struggled to the apex and had the view of their lives around them.

"Ain't this just too grand for anything?" gasped Larry, as he squatted
down on a stone and tried to pick out the distant village on the ridge
where home lay.

The others were doing the same; and all manner of exclamations followed,
as this one or that discovered familiar landmarks, by means of which
their untrained eyes could find the one particular spot about which
their thoughts clustered just then.

It was not far from noon, and when Elmer declared that they had well
earned the right to eat the hearty luncheon carried along, he was
greeted with cries of joy: for it was a jolly hungry batch of scouts
that gathered on that mountain top.

While they ate they discovered that their mates had also managed to
reach their goal. But no communication was attempted until they had
thoroughly rested.

Then Mr. Garrabrant started operations himself, after which he probably
handed the flags over to the scout who was to make the first test of his
knowledge along the line of wigwagging a message, and receiving a reply.

It proved to be interesting work, and all the boys with Elmer declared
that it held a peculiar fascination and charm about it. Of course, in
war times, such business must carry along with it more or less danger.
They could easily picture how an operator must take great risks first of
all to mount to some exposed position, where his flag could readily be
seen, and then keep up a constant signaling with another flagman far
away, while the enemy would doubtless be making every effort to break up
the serious communications that might spell disaster for their cause.

"Anyhow, it won't take us near so long to go down the mountain as it did
to climb up here," remarked Larry, with satisfaction in his voice.

"All the same," remarked Elmer, "every fellow has got to be mighty
careful just how he goes. No rushing things, you understand. It's easier
to take a tumble going down than coming up. And we want no more cripples
on this trip."

About three o'clock they started to descend from the peak. Every boy had
to just tear himself away, after one last look at the distant ridge that
lay bathed in the warm sunshine. And no one had a word to say for quite
a time.

The descent was made in safety, though several times one of the boys
would slip on a piece of loose shale; and once Larry might have had a
severe fall only that Elmer, happening to be close beside him at the
time, shot out a hand and clutched him as he was plunging headlong,
after catching his heel in a root.

They all breathed a sigh of relief when the bottom of the mountain was
reached. After that the going was much easier, and they soon drew near
the camp.

"Wonder if the other fellows made as quick a getdown as we did?"
remarked Toby, who was hobbling along, footsore, and with his muscles
paining from the many severe strains they had been compelled to endure
during the day; but only too glad to realize that he would soon arrive
where he could once more be in touch with that wonderful sky traveler
that had so fortunately dropped into their hands.

"I think it will be pretty near a tie," laughed Elmer; "for just a bit
ago I had a glimpse of them, where the timber opened up, and I judged
that they were as close to home and supper as we are. Put your best leg
forward, boys, and don't let on that any of you are near tuckered out.
Where's your pride, Larry? Brace up, and look as if you felt as fresh as
a daisy!"

Larry tried to obey; but it was hard to smile when he felt as though he
had been "drawn through a straw," as he declared.

"Listen!" cried Elmer, five minutes later, throwing up his hand for
silence.

"It's Ginger, and he's yelling to beat the band!" exclaimed Toby.

"Oh! I wonder what's happened!" gasped Jasper.

"Run for all you're worth, fellows!" said Elmer, starting off himself at
full speed.

Quickly they broke cover, and neared the camp, to see the other party
close by, also on the run. Ginger was dancing up and down, still
whooping things up, while Red stood just outside of a tent looking
startled and puzzled.

"What's that Ginger's yelling?" called Toby, and it thrilled them as
they heard.

"'Twar de debble dat time nigh got me! He's gwine tuh grab us all away
in de chariot ob fire! I'se a gone coon, I is! Runnin' ain't no use;"
and Ginger threw himself on his knees with clasped hands and rolling
eyes.



CHAPTER XI.

THE HAIRY THIEF THAT WALKED ON TWO LEGS.


NO wonder the returned scouts stared, hardly daring to believe their
eyes and ears. Some of them of course thought Ginger might have gone out
of his head. Only on the preceding night had Elmer been telling them
what queer antics animals out on the plains go through with, when they
have been eating the loco weed.

There were a few who seemed to have a hazy suspicion that possibly Red
might be concerned in this strange fright on the part of poor Ginger.
True, the boy with the lame leg had apparently just dragged himself out
of the tent, and the look on his face under that fiery shock of hair
would indicate astonishment as genuine as their own; but then, how were
they to know but what this had been assumed?

Mr. Garrabrant, however, made direct for the moaning and wabbling negro,
who had fallen on his knees, and with clasped hands was bowing back and
forth in an agony of fear.

"Here, what's the matter with you, Ginger?" he demanded, catching hold
of the other, and while Ginger gave a little screech at first, upon
turning his rolling eyes upward he appeared to recognize the genial face
of the young scout master.

"Oh! Mistah Grabant, am dat youse?" he cried, seizing hold of the
other's arm. "I'se mighty glad tuh see yuh, suh, 'deed an' I is. Am it
gone foh suah?"

"What gone?" demanded Mr. Garrabrant, sternly. "See here, Ginger, have
you kept a black bottle hidden away all this time while we have been in
camp?" For he had a sudden inspiration that possibly Ginger might be
addicted to the failing that besets so many of his color.

"'Deed an' 'deed an' I ain't touched a single drap, suh," declared the
demoralized one; "'clar tuh goodness if I has. It war dar, jes' ober
yander, whar de box ob crackers am alyin' right now. An' he scolded me,
suh, foh interferin' wid de liberties he am takin' wid dem provisions,
dat he did! Ugh! tuh t'ink dat I'd lib tuh set eyes on de Ole Nick!"

"But what makes you think it was Satan? Perhaps it was only some
wandering hobo who thought he saw a good chance to steal something to
eat?" and the scout master sought to hold Ginger's roving eyes fastened
upon his own orbs, so as to rivet his attention, and secure a coherent
answer to his question.

"Sho! dat was no human animal, suh!" exclaimed Ginger, earnestly. "He
done hab a cover ob red hair, an' de wickedest grin on his face yuh
ebber see. Reckon I knows de debble w'en I sees him."

"Well, from what you say, Ginger, this queer visitor seems to have had a
very human weakness for crackers," remarked Mr. Garrabrant, smiling.
"Was he carrying that package of biscuit when you saw him first?"

"Yas, suh, dat an' two more ob dem same. He drap it 'case he couldn't
hold de lot, an' walk away too. Yuh see, suh, I war cleaning some fish
dat de boys dey fotched in las' ebenin', an' which we nebber use foh
breakfast dis mornin'. Den I tink I hyah some queer noise in de camp,
an' I starts up dis a ways. 'Twar den dat de hairy ole critter steps
outen de store tent, and jabbers at me. I was skeered nigh 'bout stiff,
suh, 'clar tuh goodness I was."

"Still, you shouted, for we heard you, Ginger!" said Mr. Garrabrant.

"Reckons I did do sumpin' dat way, boss," admitted the negro, a faint
grin striving to make its appearance on his ebony face. "Dat was jes'
when de Ole Harry, he was asteppin' into de bushes, acarryin' two ob de
boxes ob crackers in his arms."

"Do you mean to say he walked erect, on two legs?" asked the scout
master.

"Shore he did, suh, right along, ahuggin' de grub wid one arm, an'
shakin' his fist at me wid de udder."

"Now you talk as though it _must_ have been a man--perhaps a wild man
who may have been living in these woods for years?" suggested Mr.
Garrabrant.

But Ginger shook his head in an obstinate fashion, saying:

"I knows right well dat he wa'n't dat, suh; I'se dead suah 'bout it!"

"But why do you say that; what proof have you it was not some sort of
man, Ginger?"

"_'Case he done hab a tail, suh!_" cried the other, triumphantly.

Mr. Garrabrant smiled, and gave Elmer, who was close at his elbow all
the while, a knowing wink.

"Well," he remarked, "that tail business would seem to settle one thing,
Ginger. Unless this turns out to be the long-sought Missing Link, our
visitor could hardly have been a human being. He was evidently an animal
of _some_ sort. Get that idea of the Old Nick out of your head. Listen
to me, Ginger, and try to remember; did he say anything to you?"

"Yas, sah, he did, lots!" answered the black man, eagerly.

"Suppose you tell us what it was, then?" suggested the scout master,
quickly.

"Dar's wha' yuh got me, Mistah Grabant," replied the other,
reluctantly. "Yuh see, suh, I nebber did git much schoolin' down in
Virginny, whah I was bawn an' brought up. Nebber did go to college an'
larn de dead langwidges."

"Oh! then this creature talked to you in Greek, or possibly Hebrew, did
he? In other words, he chattered in an unknown tongue! Well, how about
you, Oscar; did you happen to catch a glimpse of Ginger's uninvited
guest?" and Mr. Garrabrant turned suddenly on Red, as though wishing to
make positive that this were not a clever trick he might have been
playing on the terrified black man.

"No, sir," came the ready response. "I was busy inside when I heard
Ginger give that war whoop! I thought he might have burned himself at
the fire, and I hurt my game pin like fun when I tried to run out. All I
saw was the coon down on his marrowbones asinging that same tune about
the 'debble.' That's all I know, sir, give you my word for it."

"All right, I believe you, Oscar," continued the scout master, plainly
disturbed by this new mystery that had descended upon the camp, yet
pretending to make light of it because he did not wish to alarm the boys
under his charge. "And now, Ginger, can you point out to me just the
spot where your strange friend vanished?"

"'Deed an' 'deed he ain't no friend ob mine, suh, gibes yuh my word foh
dat," replied the other, solemnly. "Right ober yandah, suh, whah dem
bushes hangs low. An' I declars tuh Moses, suh, I don't know right now
whedder de ugly ole sinner he jes' step intuh de bushes, or go up in a
cloud ob fire like de prophet ob old."

Several of the more impulsive scouts started to hurry in that direction.

"Stop, boys!" called the scout master instantly. "Come back here,
please. Once before you succeeded in trampling all sign out, so that
Elmer was unable to pick up any clue. Now, I want just Elmer and Mark to
go over there, to investigate. After that has been done they will report
to me. And now, let's settle down in camp, for I know you are all tired.
Supper is the next thing on the program."

Elmer, accompanied by his nearest chum, immediately walked carefully
over in the direction of the spot which Ginger had indicated. They bent
low, and seemed to be deeply interested in certain tracks they had
found.

Of course the boys shot many curious glances that way, but they knew
better than to disobey the positive orders given by their chief.
Discipline is one of the first things taught among the Boy Scouts.

About this time Dr. Ted and Jack Armitage got back from a day at the
cabin. They had much to tell about what they had occupied themselves in
doing all the time, preparing things so that in a few days the family
could be moved, for Mr. Garrabrant had fully decided to take the sick
man and his "kiddies" down in one of the boats to Rockaway, where they
could be looked after until the expedition returned.

It was getting dusk before Elmer and his chum joined the others. They
did not give out any information, and to the inquiries of their curious
mates returned only vague smiles and nods.

Supper was eaten with more or less clatter of tongues. There were so
many interesting subjects claiming their attention that the boys hardly
knew which to discuss first.

When, however, the meal was about done, Mr. Garrabrant asked Elmer to
step aside with him for a short time.

"Here, let us sit down on this convenient log, Elmer," remarked the
scout master. "And please tell me what you found."

"We had no difficulty in discovering the tracks, sir," replied the boy,
whose experience on a Canadian prairie farm and ranch made him a
valuable addition to the ranks of the Boy Scouts at such a time.

"Was it a man or an animal?" asked the gentleman, as though eager to
have that mooted point settled immediately.

"Oh! an animal, sir, there can be no doubt of that," replied Elmer,
smiling. "But those tracks puzzle me the worst kind. I know what the
trail of a panther looks like, also that of a fox, a wolf, a bear, a
deer, a coyote, a wildcat--but this was entirely different from any of
these. It resembled the footprint of a human being--a child--more than
anything I ever saw."

Mr. Garrabrant smiled, and nodded his head.

"I've got an idea," he said, "but go on, and tell me what else you
learned. Then I'll put you wise to what I suspect."

"Well," the boy continued, "the queer thing about it is that Ginger was
quite right when he said the thing walked on two legs. I could only find
the marks of that many. Now, I've seen a bear do that stunt, and
educated dogs, but no other animal outside of a circus."

"How about a monkey?" asked the scout master, quietly.

"Oh! Mr. Garrabrant, how could such an animal get up here? Monkeys live
in tropical countries only. But I can see that you've got an idea.
Please let me hear it."

"Listen then, Elmer," the other went on, seriously. "Now, I happen to
know that just a month ago a certain gentleman named Colonel Hitchens,
living on a country place he calls Caldwell, just a mile outside the
town of Rockaway, lost a pet monkey that had been taught to do a lot of
funny antics. The gentleman was an old traveler, and had brought the
animal himself from some foreign land. I remember his telling me how he
caught him, by filling some cocoanut shells with strong drink, and
getting the animal stupid."

"Oh! that must be it, then!" exclaimed Elmer, laughing, while the look
of bewilderment left his face. "No wonder the tracks were a riddle to
me. I've never as yet had the pleasure of hunting monkeys, or Barbary
apes, or gorillas. Yes, sir, the more I think of it, the more I believe
that you've hit the truth. It must have been a monkey, hungry for some
of the things he had been used to when held a prisoner at Colonel
Hitchens'."

"I saw the beast perform once," Mr. Garrabrant went on, "and he was
really a marvel. He was a big chap, too, hairy and ugly. When he
chattered and scowled he certainly was enough to give one a shiver. No
wonder then that he frightened poor Ginger almost into convulsions. No
wonder our factotum believed he had seen the Old Nick. But what had he
better do about it, Elmer?"

"That's just what I wanted to speak with you about, sir," the boy
remarked, with considerable eagerness. "Now the chances are that, having
once made a raid on our store tent, this monkey will come again another
time, perhaps even to-night."

"That sounds reasonable," replied the scout master, nodding his head.
"By the way, I just happened to remember the monkey's name. It fitted
him pretty well, too, as you'll admit when you see him. Diablo it was."

"Just think of it, sir, just the name Ginger gave him, too. But Mark and
I have decided to set a trap to catch him. We'll fix it so that if the
monkey tries to enter the store tent again he'll set off a trigger, and
some queer results will follow. For one thing he'll find himself caught
up in the loop of a rope, and held, kicking, off the ground until we
can come to corral him. Then, if it happens to be in the night, the
falling of the trigger will set a flashlight going, and Mark's camera,
placed for the occasion, will take a picture of the trespasser."

"That sounds fine, Elmer," laughed the scout master. "Now, I leave the
matter in your hands entirely. Do what you think best, and I wish you
success."

"How about telling the boys, sir?" asked Elmer.

Mr. Garrabrant thought it over a moment.

"Perhaps you'd better take the whole bunch into your confidence," he
said, presently. "They are deeply interested, you know, and if kept in
ignorance possibly some one might stumble across your plans, and upset
every calculation."

And so, when Elmer returned to the fire, he had the entire bunch
listening, their eyes round with wonder, as they learned what had been
discovered, and also of the bright plans their chums had arranged
looking to the capture of Diablo.

Only Ginger was evidently disturbed. He scratched his head as he
listened, as if he could hardly believe what he saw had been of this
earth, and the idea of Elmer being so rash as to want to try and make a
prisoner of the Evil One gave the ignorant negro a cold shiver.
Doubtless he would make sure to find a snug place to sleep that night,
where nothing could get at him. His mind was still filled with foolish
notions concerning that "chariot of fire" in which he might be carried
out of this world into the Great Unknown.



CHAPTER XII.

LAYING A GHOST.


"IWELL, Elmer," remarked Mr. Garrabrant, the next morning, as he came
out of his tent and met the young scout leader face to face, "I must
have slept unusually sound last night, for the alarm failed to awaken
me!"

"There was no alarm, sir," smiled Elmer.

"Meaning that we did not have the pleasure of a second visit from
Diablo, the educated monkey, is that it?" asked the scout master,
pleasantly.

"Yes, sir," the boy went on, "Diablo must have secured enough rations in
his first raid to last him for twenty-four hours. But Mark and myself do
not think of giving our job up yet awhile. We expect to catch a likeness
of our hairy visitor, even if the trap fails to work, and hold him a
prisoner. I suppose Colonel Hitchens would be very glad to have the
beast back, if it turns out that this is Diablo?"

"I'm sure of it, and as he is a wealthy man, no doubt he would willingly
pay a round sum to those who would return his pet," Mr. Garrabrant
declared.

"Oh! we were not thinking of that, sir, I give you my word," declared
Elmer; "but possibly, if we did happen to succeed, the gentleman might
be willing to do something for poor Abe in return for our restoring his
pet."

The scout master looked keenly at Elmer, and then thrust out his hand
impulsively.

"That was well said, my boy," he remarked, with a little quiver in his
voice. "I am proud to know that you feel that way toward the
unfortunate. And I give you my word, if you are so fortunate as to
capture Diablo, I'll convince Colonel Hitchens that it is his _duty_ to
do a lot for Abe and his little flock. That boy is made of the right
stuff, I'm sure, and ought to have the advantages of an education. I'm
going to see that he has his chance."

"Yes, sir, just to think of a kid not over six years old being able to
set a muskrat trap, and actually take skins. Why, I know a lot about the
little varmints, and I give you my word, sir, they're pretty sharp. It
takes a bright boy to outwit an old seasoned muskrat. He showed me quite
a lot of skins he had cured, of course under his father's directions."

"And then that girl, Little Lou--think of her doing all the cooking for
the family ever since her mother was taken away?" continued the
gentleman. "She's a darling, if I ever saw one. I grew quite fond of
her, and mean to see more of them all. But I ought to be laying out the
program for to-day's work."

"What are we to try to-day, sir?" asked Elmer, who, as second in
command, had privileges in talking with the scout master that none of
the other lads dared assume.

"Well, as it promises to be a warm day, we might try the swimming test
for one thing," replied Mr. Garrabrant, thoughtfully. "At the same time
there is that feat of landing a big fish with a rod and a small line,
the said fish being of course an active boy, who does his best to break
away. While we're at it, we may as well go through our usual formula
whereby anyone who has been nearly drowned may be resuscitated again.
And last, but not least, we can have Dr. Ted give us his talk on first
aid to the injured. He will get back in good time if he leaves after
lunch for the Morris cabin."

"I think Chatz is waiting to speak to you, sir," remarked Elmer, who had
been noticing the Southern lad hovering near for some little time,
looking queerly in their direction.

"Is that so?" remarked Mr. Garrabrant. "Now I hope he hasn't been seeing
more of his hobgoblins. That is about the only weakness Charles seems to
have. Otherwise I find him a very sensible lad. If only he could be
cured of his belief in the supernatural it would be a good thing."

"Well," laughed Elmer, "some of us would be only too glad of the chance
to cure him. Shall I go away, and let him have an interview, sir?"

"No, remain, and hear what Charles has to say. It may be I shall need
your services. This time the tracks of the ghost may not have been
trampled out of sight, and you can give a guess at its character. I
never in all my life knew of so many queer happenings inside of so short
a time."

The scout master beckoned toward Chatz, and obeying the mandate the
Southern boy came quickly forward.

"You wish to speak with me, Charles, I imagine?"

"Yes, sir," replied the other, with a frown on his brow.

"Has something happened again to disturb you?" inquired Mr. Garrabrant.

"Yes, sir."

"Last night, I presume, since you would have spoken before, had it
happened yesterday?" the scout master continued, quietly.

"Last night it was, sir. I saw IT again!" remarked Chatz, appearing to
swallow something that was in his throat.

"Oh! you mean that mysterious white object which appeared to you on the
other occasion, and seemed to assume all the characteristics of a
supernatural visitor? In other words, Charles, your pet ghost?"
remarked Mr. Garrabrant.

The boy flushed, but held his ground.

"Of course," he said, slowly, "I understand what a contempt you have for
any such idea, sir; and indeed, I only wish it could be shown to me that
this is only some natural object, and not of the other world. I'd be too
glad to know it. I hate to think I'm given to such ideas, but they seem
to be a part of my nature, and I can't help it, try as I may."

"Well, perhaps we may be able to assist you, Charles," returned the
genial scout master, laying a hand on the lad's shoulder in a way that
quite won his confidence. "Now tell me what you saw, when and where,
also what it looked like."

"I think it was in about the same quarter as before, sir. My watch
happened to come late in the night this time, in fact just before dawn
broke. I heard again that blood-curdling sound, a plain 'woof'! and
raising my head I could just make it out in the darkness. It was white,
as before, and it moved! Then all of a sudden it seemed to vanish most
mysteriously."

"Well, did the other sentry see anything, Charles?" asked Mr.
Garrabrant.

"We had arranged it all between us, sir, Ty Collins and myself. And he
will tell you, sir, that he saw just what I did," replied Chatz,
earnestly.

"That sounds as though you might have seen _something_, then," smiled
Mr. Garrabrant. "And Elmer, you were so successful in picking out those
other tracks, suppose you try again."

"Shall I go now, sir?" asked the other, readily.

"I would like you to. If you find a trail, you might follow it up a
bit. Perhaps Charles would like to accompany you."

"Yes, sir, I would, if you didn't object," replied the Southern lad,
quickly.

"Very well," nodded the scout master. "Report to me when you are
through, Elmer."

So the two boys went away together. Some of the others, seeing them
bending down as though examining the ground, made a move as if to join
them, but Mr. Garrabrant was watching, and called them back.

He saw Elmer, followed by the wondering Chatz, walk slowly away, his
head bent low, as though he were following some sort of trail.

And the scout master laughed softly to himself as he muttered:

"I fancy Charles is about to have a little surprise, now that Elmer has
found a trail to follow. Because, as a true believer in ghosts, he must
realize that anything that leaves traces behind can hardly claim
supernatural qualities."

Twenty minutes afterwards, shortly before breakfast was ready, the two
boys came back again. Chatz was smiling in a queer way, but Elmer looked
like a sphinx.

The latter, obeying a beckoning finger, hurried over to join Mr.
Garrabrant.

"Unless my eyes deceive me, Elmer," remarked the gentleman, with a
quizzical expression on his handsome face, "you've been up to your old
tricks again, and finding out things. How is it, do you plead guilty to
the charge?"

"I guess I'll just have to, sir," replied the boy, also smiling now.

"Then you found a trail, did you?"

"Yes, sir," Elmer went on, "a positive one; though the ground was that
hard a greenhorn could never have seen it. And while Chatz kept at my
side I don't think he dreamed what I was doing as we went along. Then,
about a hundred yards away I heard that same queer 'woof' he spoke of."

"It didn't give you a shock, I warrant, Elmer?" remarked the scout
master.

"Well, you see, sir, I've had too much to do with cattle not to
recognize the snort of a startled cow! And that was what we saw just
ahead of us. She had been lying down, chewing her cud, and our coming
had caused her to get on her feet."

"Did she happen to have a white face, Elmer?" laughed Mr. Garrabrant.

"Just what she did, sir," the boy replied. "Chatz looked at me, and
turned pale, then red; after which he laughed till the tears ran down
his cheeks. I think we put quite a spoke in his spook wheel, sir. He
won't be so ready to believe in supernatural visitors after this."

"It was well done, Elmer, and I thank you for it. Now, let's to
breakfast, for we have a strenuous day before us," and the scout master
led the way to the place where a bounteous meal had been spread for the
entire troop of scouts.

During the morning the swimming tests were started, and Mr. Garrabrant,
who was a splendid swimmer himself, took charge of matters. Some
excellent work was done, and the timid ones taught how to strike out, to
float, and to tread water, as well as various races inaugurated that
were full of fun.

After that came the wonderful fishing contest, where the boys did what
they could to land one of their mates who played the part of a hooked
fish, fighting to get away, just as a monster scaly prize like a tarpon
might have done.

Of course Elmer was the leader in this game, for he had had much more
experience as a sportsman than any of the rest, but there were several
who proved themselves good seconds in the trial, and who would make the
winner look to his laurels in the near future.

That brought them to noon, and matters were allowed to simmer while they
got busy cooking a lunch to satisfy the tremendous appetites that the
vigorous labor of the morning had developed.

Ted and Lil Artha expected to take a tramp over to the lone cabin during
the afternoon. They could not start, however, until the concluding work
of the day had been attended to. As this was to be "first aid to the
injured" the presence of the only budding doctor in camp would be
required, in order to explain many important things connected with this
valuable adjunct to scout lore.

It was possibly nearly three o'clock before the two lads got started.
But that did not matter much, for by this time Ted had become very
familiar with the way of the blazed trail, and could follow it "with his
eyes blindfolded," as he boastingly remarked, though Elmer knew this was
hardly so.

Some of the scouts were out on the lake, trying to coax a mess of fish
to come closer to the fire and get warmed up. The taste of browned trout
haunted them, and even Mr. Garrabrant admitted that the way Elmer cooked
the fish, they were finer than any he had ever eaten. It was to have the
salt pork in a hot frying pan, until it had been well tried out, then
having rolled each fish in cracker crumbs, or corn meal if the former
were not handy, they were placed over the fire in the pan to brown.

Another time Elmer broiled the fish, and the boys were uncertain as to
which method they liked most. When they ate the trout cooked one way
that excelled, and next day when the other method was tried they
believed it could not be equalled.

Evening was not far away when a shout attracted the attention of all
those in camp. Even the few who happened to be inside the tents came
hurrying out to see what it meant.

"That must have been Lil Artha," declared Elmer immediately. "Nobody
else has so loud a whoop. Yes, there they come, he and Ted, hurrying
down the side of the mountain. They seem to be in something of a hurry,
too."

"And look at Ted waving his hand, will you?" exclaimed Toby, beginning
to get excited himself. "He wouldn't act that way, fellers, except that
there's something gone wrong. Gee! I hope now the old man ain't been
taken sudden, and handed in his checks! That would be tough on the kids,
now!"

Mr. Garrabrant heard what Toby said, but made no remark. He was waiting
for the coming of the two scouts who had gone across the mountain on
their errand of mercy.

The long-legged Lil Artha could have easily outrun his comrade had he
chosen, but he made no effort to do so. Still, as they drew closer, it
could be easily seen that both boys showed unmistakable evidences of
some tremendous excitement. And, naturally, their fellow scouts almost
trembled with eagerness to learn what could have happened to affect them
in this way.

Three minutes later and they drew up in front of the group, panting,
flushed--their eyes sparkling with suppressed news.



CHAPTER XIII.

TAKEN BY SURPRISE.


"IWHAT'S the matter with you boys?" demanded the scout master, as Ted
and Lil Artha drew up in front of him.

"They've come in on Abe, sir, and are threatening to do all sorts of
awful things to him, the great beasts!" exclaimed the tall runner,
between pants.

"Speak plainer, please," Mr. Garrabrant said, sternly, so as to subdue
some of the rampant excitement that threatened to impede a clear flow of
words. "Who came in on Abe--was it animals you meant, or men?"

"Men, thir, and two of the toughest you ever thaw," Ted managed to
declare. "They were eating up all the stuff we've been at such pains to
carry over, and threatened the thick man with all thorts of trouble
because he thaid he didn't have thuch a thing as a drop of whisky in
hith place."

"Two hoboes, most likely," muttered the scout master, as his firm teeth
came together with a snap that meant business.

"That's what I thaid, thir, but Lil Artha, he theemed to think he
recognized the bullies as a couple of jail birds," Ted went on.

"You see, sir," Arthur spoke up as he saw Mr. Garrabrant look
questioningly at him, "I remembered seeing the pictures of those two
rascals that broke into some house near Rockaway last Spring. They had
it posted up in police headquarters at Hickory Ridge when I went in to
pay for our dog license. And I don't soon forget faces, sir, or names
either, for that matter. Unless I miss my guess these two ugly scamps
were Jim Rowdy and Bill Harris, wanted bad in Rockville, with a reward
offered for their capture."

"You may be right, Theodore," observed the scout master, seriously.
"They were never caught, I remember. The strange thing about it was,
that the house they entered and robbed was that of my friend, Colonel
Hitchens."

"The same gentleman who owned the lost monkey?" cried one of the scouts.

"Exactly. But this is a serious matter for us, boys," the scout master
went on. "Our new friends are in danger, for there can be no telling to
what extremes such unprincipled scoundrels might go, once they started.
Perhaps they may have an old grudge against Abe, for the boys say they
were threatening him. And it gives me a cold chill to think of these two
innocent children being in their power."

"Will you go over, thir, and try to do thomething?" asked Ted, eagerly.

"Surely," came the instant reply. "I would be unworthy to call myself a
man if I failed in my duty there. But tell us more, please, how did you
first learn of the presence of these ruffians there, and did you give
away the fact that you had discovered them?"

"Oh! no, thir, they didn't thee us a bit!" exclaimed Ted.

"We happened to hear loud voices, you see, sir, when we were close to
the joint," said Arthur, bent on having his share in the recital.

"Tho we crept up, as thly as any Indian could have done," added Ted.

"And peeked in at the window, just like we did that night we went over
in a bunch," the tall lad remarked.

"Then we thaw what it meant," Ted continued, catching his breath again.
"Those two big bullies had been eating, and made poor Little Lou cook
nigh everything we left there yesterday. Why, they were as hungry as
hogs, I guess."

"And they kept on shaking their fists at poor Abe, who was lying on his
cot, too weak to do anything," Lil Artha took up the narrative. "He
seemed to be atryin' to get them to let up on him, but he looked nearly
done for."

"Then we just crawled away again," Ted concluded, "and run pretty near
all the way back, because we knew you would want uth to report. Lil
Artha wanted to tackle 'em by ourselves, but it was thilly to think we
could do anything against a pair of desperate jailbirds like that."

"Under the circumstances I commend your discretion, Theodore," said the
scout master, "though the readiness of Arthur to take chances in a good
cause does him credit too. But let's hurry and eat supper. I can be
arranging my plans meanwhile, and selecting those I would want to
accompany me over the mountain."

"I hope you will take me, sir!" exclaimed Matty Eggleston.

"And me, too, sir!" exclaimed half a dozen others, in a breath.

Even the two returned scouts were anxious not to be left behind.

"I'm not tired a little bit, Mr. Garrabrant!" Lil Artha hastened to
declare, and Dr. Ted said ditto to that.

"Give me time, boys, to consider," the gentleman had said, waving them
away.

Supper was quickly announced, and they made record time in getting away
with a fine meal. No one even thought to remark upon the fact that it
tasted better than any meal ever eaten under a roof, which had come to
be a standing saying with the scouts by this time.

Many an anxious look was cast toward Mr. Garrabrant. They saw that his
eyes had been roving around the circle, as though he might be mentally
choosing those who were to be favored with a place at his side during
this new errand of mercy across the mountain that frowned down upon the
camp. And every scout was eager to be among the lucky ones, even the
usually timid Jasper Merriweather.

"I have decided upon the following to accompany me: Ginger will go,
because he is a man, and will be apt to inspire more or less respect in
the hearts of the two rascals. Then there are Elmer, Matty, Larry
Billings, Arthur Stansbury, Charlie Maxfield, and Theodore. I am taking
him because we may happen to have need of his professional services,"
and when Mr. Garrabrant said this as though he really meant it, who
could blame Ted for unconsciously pushing out his chest a bit with
pride?

There could be no demur to this ultimatum. So those who were fated to
remain did what they could to get their more fortunate chums ready for
the excursion. The stoutest cudgels possible were hunted up, and handed
over, with recommendations as to their convincing qualities if once
applied to a stubborn head.

"However," said the scout master, as they were ready to leave, "I am in
hopes that we can take the rascals by surprise, so that there will not
be any real necessity for violence. The rest of you stick by the camp
while we are gone. You can wait up for us, if you want."

"Sure we will, sir!" declared one. "We couldn't any more sleep than
water can run up hill."

"And don't any of you meddle with the little trap we've got set by the
store tent, remember, please," Elmer flung over his shoulder as he was
marching away.

Then they were off.

Counting Mr. Garrabrant and Ginger, they were eight in all, surely a
strong enough bunch to overcome two men, if only they might take the
ruffians by surprise. Ginger was far from being a coward when it came to
things he could understand. This fact was known to Mr. Garrabrant, which
was the reason he took the colored man and brother along. Besides, his
heft might have considerable influence in causing the two men to submit.

As before, they carried a couple of lanterns. The light from these came
in very handy to save the boys from many an ugly tumble, where roots lay
across their path or rocks cropped up in the way.

They conversed in whispers only. And as they finally drew near the lone
cabin, even this style of talk was stopped by order of Mr. Garrabrant,
so that they now crept along in absolute silence.

He had told the boys of his plans, so that each member of the little
party knew just what was expected of him.

Presently they caught sight of a dim light ahead. Then came the sound of
loud and gruff voices. This convinced them that the two rascals had not
left the cabin.

Creeping closer, they could finally see through the little opening. And
thus the scout master was enabled to complete the plan he had arranged.

When he gave the word, Ginger and the boys were to jump in by way of the
open door. Meantime he expected to thrust his arm through the window and
cover the pair of desperate rascals with the revolver he had brought
along. Mr. Garrabrant gave evidence of being in deadly earnest, for he
knew that was a serious matter that confronted them, and one not to be
handled with gloves.

When he heard Elmer give the cry of the whip-poor-will three times he
knew they were all in their places. Accordingly, he suddenly thrust his
arm through the small window that had no glass, and covered one of the
men with his weapon.

"Stand still, both of you! The hut is surrounded, and if you try to
escape or offer resistance it will be the worse for you! Seize them,
men!"

As Mr. Garrabrant called this out, and the two astonished scoundrels sat
there, utterly unable to collect their senses, such was the complete
surprise, through the doorway tumbled a crowd that hurled itself upon
them. Before they could grasp the fact that with one exception these
were only half-grown boys, wearing the khaki uniforms of the scouts, and
not regular soldiers, the men had their hands tied behind them.

As they realized how completely they had been caught napping both of
them started on a string of hard words, and looked daggers at their
young captors.

"Stop that, now!" Mr. Garrabrant exclaimed, as he made his appearance in
the hut, "or I shall be under the painful necessity of putting gags
between your teeth. Not another word from either of you, remember!"

Perhaps they recognized the tone of authority, or it may have been that
they had no desire to force him to put his threat into execution. At any
rate, they took it out in deep mumblings after that.

The scout master saw to it himself that their lashings were secure. Some
of the boys had carried along a new supply of food for Abe and his
family, understanding the inroads that had been made in their limited
stock.

The sick man was full of gratitude for this second rescue on the part of
his new-found friends. He told them how these two scoundrels had come to
his cabin and taken possession--that he knew who they were, but that
some years back they had been honest charcoal burners the same as
himself.

"Well," said Mr. Garrabrant, "they graduated from that honest class some
time ago, and have made names for themselves as yeggmen and thieves.
They are badly wanted right now in Rockaway, where some months back they
robbed a residence, and nearly killed a butler who caught them in the
act, and recognized them too. Boys, when you feel rested, we will be on
our way back to camp with our prisoners. To-morrow I shall take them
down the river in a boat, and deliver them over to the authorities."

All of which intelligence made the gloom gather deeper on the hard
countenances of Jim Rowdy and Bill Harris.

It took twice as long for them to make the march back to camp as when
they went toward the lone cabin. In the first place, some of the boys
were almost exhausted, particularly Ted and Lil Artha, who were covering
the ground for the second time since noon. Then again, the two men,
having their arms bound behind their backs, stumbled so often that they
had to be helped.

But along about eleven they came in sight of the cheery camp fire, and
how very welcome it did look too. The boys greeted it with a shout, that
was answered by those who had been left behind.

When it was seen that they were bringing prisoners back with them, Red
and those who had remained at home with the lame scout became thrilled
with eagerness to hear the full particulars. Of course the others were
just as ready to relate all that had occurred, and for some time the
clatter of tongues would have made one believe he must be somewhere in
the neighborhood of the Tower of Babel.

Mr. Garrabrant realized that they were dealing with a pair of hard
citizens, and he was resolved to leave nothing undone looking to their
remaining prisoners. So he personally looked to their bonds before lying
down, in order to make sure they could not break loose.

A double guard was to be stationed on this night, because of the unusual
conditions existing. It would be too bad, after all their trouble,
should any accident occur whereby these men regained their freedom.

So when the camp quieted down finally, there were just four boys
stationed at certain points, and with orders to keep the fire burning
brilliantly all the time. The balance "slept on their arms," as Lil
Artha called it--that is, they kept those handy cudgels close beside
them, where they could be readily found in case a sudden need arose for
their services. Because Mr. Garrabrant could not be entirely positive
that the two prisoners did not have friends of a like character
somewhere up here in the wilderness, who might attempt their rescue.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE THINGS THAT MAKE BOYS MANLY.


MR. GARRABRANT laid his plans during the night, and when morning came he
announced them to his boys.

"I shall take these two men down to Rockaway to-day," he said, "and
deliver them over to the authorities. Ginger will accompany me, and
between us we can pull the boat up the current again, starting possibly
in the morning. If we arrive there in good time, I may get a car and
drive over to Hickory Ridge, for there are several things I ought to see
about, that slipped my mind before."

"And if you happen to see anybody who asks about us, sir, just tell them
we're getting along dandy," declared Lil Artha.

"So say we all of us," sang out several others of the scouts.

"Tell my folks they were poor prophets," remarked Jasper Merriweather.

"In what way, my boy?" inquired the scout master; though, truth to tell,
he could give a pretty good guess.

"Oh! ma, she said she'd give me one night to stay away; and pa, he told
her that two would see my finish. But here we're going on our first
week, and I'm feeling just fine. Not a bit homesick, tell 'em, Mr.
Garrabrant, please. And bound to stay the whole ten days, or bust."

"Good for you, Jasper, old top!" laughed Lil Artha, patting the real
tenderfoot encouragingly on the back.

"And Mr. Garrabrant," put in Ty Collins, who was a pretty good "feeder"
as some of the other boys often remarked, "don't you think you might
pick up a little more grub while you have the chance. You see, we didn't
count on so many mouths to feed while we were up here, and the way that
stuff is disappearing is sure a caution. I know, because I do a lot of
the cooking, you see, sir."

"Why, yes, Tyrus, I had that on my mind," laughed the jovial scout
master. "And we'll try and find room in the boat for a nice ham, some
bacon, and a few more things that boys like. I guess I'm a good
provider, taken on the whole. You see, we didn't count on feeding Abe
Morris and his family, or these two gentlemen here, besides the
frolicsome monkey that has taken a fancy for our eatables. If I happen
to run across Colonel Hitchens I shall let him know we've got an eye out
for his runaway pet."

The two men were allowed to eat breakfast, one at a time, and Mr.
Garrabrant and Ginger stood over them while the operation of feeding was
in progress. Much as both of the desperadoes might have liked to attempt
flight, they lacked the nerve to start trouble when those two stalwart
men were within reach. And so, although they scowled and muttered, they
made no resistance when they were tied up again.

Mr. Garrabrant had found quite a nice little assortment of deadly
weapons upon the pair, which he had confiscated. These he meant to take
along with him, not feeling safe in leaving such things in camp, where
several of the boys were quite unaccustomed to handling firearms, and
some accident might ensue, for which he would be responsible.

Although no one suspected it until they heard the click of his shutter,
Mark had managed to snap off the entire outfit as they stood there,
assisting Mr. Garrabrant load his prisoners into the boat.

And it might be taken for granted that the official photographer of the
camp had seized upon an opportunity when the two prisoners' faces were
in full view, so that no one could afterwards reasonably doubt their
claim to having captured the desperate men so long wanted by the
Rockaway authorities.

Of course the camp was left in full charge of the assistant scout
master, Elmer Chenowith, with a parting injunction from Mr. Garrabrant
that the boys were to render his representative just as much respect as
though it were himself.

There could be no doubt about that being done, since Elmer was a
universal favorite among his fellows, and had hardly an enemy in all
Hickory Ridge.

"I reckon, suh, we can manage to get along all right while you are
away," Chatz Maxfield had called out reassuringly, after the boat had
left the landing, with Ginger working industriously at the oars, the two
prisoners huddled amidships, and the scout master seated astern, where
he could keep his eye pretty much all the time on the slippery
customers.

"If I wasn't positive about that, Charles, I'd never be leaving you,"
was what Mr. Garrabrant replied, as he waved his hand to them.

Presently the fast-moving boat swept around a bend, and was lost to
view. Several of the boys sighed a little, and looked a bit downcast.
Despite their assumption of freedom from homesickness they could not
help feeling that their leader would perhaps be in "dear old Hickory
Ridge" that afternoon, and might even pass by their beloved homes, which
it seemed they had not seen for an age.

Of course Elmer, who had roved more or less, was not in this class. He
knew better than to make fun of them, however. Between himself and Mark
they had many a quiet laugh over the way the fellows made out to be so
free from care.

"I bet you it seems like a coon's age to some of them since they said
good-by to mother and father," Mark managed to remark, as they stood
there watching the rest gaze down river after the vanished link that was
to bind them with civilization.

"Sure it does," Elmer had agreed. "Do you know that little story about
the kid who ran away from home, and what an eternity it seemed to him?"

"I don't seem to remember," replied the other. "What happened, Elmer?"

"Why, he spent the day of his life, you know. He had made up his mind in
the beginning that he would never come back. Then at noon he determined
that a whole month would give his folks a good scare. The afternoon hung
on terribly. Minutes seemed hours, and at last he just couldn't stand it
any longer. He had spent his last penny, but it was getting night, and
he had never been without a home in the dark before."

"Yes, I can understand that, because once I did it too," laughed Mark;
"but don't mind me, Elmer, go right along with the story. What happened
to him?"

"Nothing. That's where the fun came in," replied the other. "You see his
folks understood that kid, and they just made up their minds to punish
him by not paying the slightest attention to him. So he came sneaking
into the sitting room where dad was reading the paper, and mom was
knitting. Neither of them even looked at him. He thought that mighty
queer, when he had expected to be hugged and kissed and cried over like
one who had been lost a year.

"After a long time, when he had coughed, and moved about without either
of them paying the slightest attention to him, the boy was struck with
an idea. He would say something that _must_ make them realize the near
calamity that had happened. So he bent down to stroke the back of the
old tabby that was purring by the fire, and he says, says he:

"'Oh! I see you still have the same old cat you used to have when I was
home!'"

Mark burst into a hearty laugh.

"I get the point, Elmer, all right, and I guess it applies to a few of
our fellows, but on the whole they've acted just fine. A better bunch of
good-hearted boys it would be hard to find anywhere. And I tell you this
outing's going to do every mother's son of them a heap of good. What
they learn in this camp will pay a dozen times over for the trouble it's
taken. I hope Mr. Garrabrant gets safely down to Rockaway with his
boatload of human freight. Perhaps there won't be a sensation in Hickory
Ridge when the news gets out that the Boy Scouts captured those bad men,
and sent them to the police of Rockaway with their compliments. I guess
that's going some for a new organization of tenderfeet scouts, eh?"

"I should say yes," replied the young scout leader, emphatically. "And
after all, we've only got one more mystery to solve to have the slate
clear."

"You mean about that monkey business, I suppose?" suggested Mark.

"Yes; and possibly we may be lucky enough to have that settled before
Mr. Garrabrant comes back again," Elmer remarked, confidently.

"You think then we are due for another visit from Diablo, say to-night?"

"It stands to reason," said Elmer, "that he will have eaten up all those
crackers long before then, and knowing where we keep our supplies, you
can count on him paying another call. So many around the camp in the
daytime will keep him shy. You remember there were only Ginger and Red
at home all day, when he was here before."

"All right," remarked his chum. "We'll try and have a warm reception
ready for our friend Diablo. He's apt to be the most surprised monkey
ever, once he hits that trigger; what with the loop snatching him up in
the air, the flashlight going off with a great dazzling glow, and the
yells of the boys as they get on to the racket. I just hope it turns out
a good picture. It'll sure be the star of the whole collection. What?"

Elmer took charge, and proceeded to start the ball rolling. They were
not intending to have any strenuous work while the scout master was
away, but some of them coaxed Elmer to give a few exhibitions of
throwing a rope, and doing some other little tricks that he had learned
while up on that Canada cattle farm.

He also went deeper into the track business, and the boys were so
anxious to learn all they could about this fascinating study, that they
all spent hours trying to find new footprints so that they could drag
Elmer thither, and get him to tell the sort of little animal that had
made them, what his habits were, and all about him.

Then after lunch some words brought up the subject of picture writing.
Elmer had more or less to say about that, for he had been among the
Indians, and copied any amount of their queer methods of communicating.

"It's just as simple as falling off a log, fellows," he said. "If a
little kid were trying to make you understand that three men had gone
down river in a boat, if he had any sense at all he'd draw a canoe with
three figures in it holding paddles. A rock sticking up would have
something that looked like foam on one side. That would tell you the
water was running so, and that the canoe was going _down_ the river. If
they were being pursued, in the boat behind a figure would be firing a
gun. Then they escape, for they go ashore and make a fire. All got away,
for there are still three of them. And that's the easy way it goes. It
just can't be too simple. A child might read it. And that's Indian
picture writing. Now, suppose some of you try it. If anybody can read it
right off the reel, then you've made a success of the job. But remember,
this isn't any rebus or puzzle."

So for some time the boys employed themselves in practicing this simple
art, under the directions of the young scout master. They found it lots
of fun, and of course there was more or less shouting over some of the
wonderful pictures drawn, which the artists themselves could hardly
designate, after their work became cold.

Dr. Ted and Mark had gone off with some more food, to find out how Abe
and his family were, after the exciting experience of the preceding day,
and to tell them that their unwelcome visitors were by that time safely
locked up in the Rockaway strong box.

Mark wished to get a few pictures of the two "kids" in their native
woods. They would not look the same after they reached civilization,
where kindly women would only too willingly take them in hand, and fit
them out with new clothes.

Toby fairly haunted the spot where the balloon lay in a heap, just as
they had piled it up. Doubtless the boy was indulging himself with
castles in the air connected with the time to come, in the dim future,
when he too might have a chance to fly through the clouds in one of
these big gas bags, or with a modern aeroplane, which would of course be
much better.

And so the day wore on.

As evening approached some of the boys mentally pictured Mr. Garrabrant
talking with the good people of Hickory Ridge, and in each case it was a
father or mother who so proudly heard what wonderful progress the boy
was making in learning to take care of himself when left to his own
resources.

Things went on as usual. They had plenty of trout for supper, of which
dainty the scouts seemed never to tire. Then a huge mess of rice had
been boiled, which, served with sugar and condensed milk, proved a good
dessert. But before that was reached they had a stew made of tinned
beef, Boston baked beans and some corn, while Ty Collins showed his
skill as a flapjack maker by turning out several heaps of pretty fair
pancakes.

Perhaps some of the scouts ate more heavily of these last than they
should, for it was noted that at various times during the night a boy
here or there would get to talking in his sleep, and show signs of
restlessness that could only come from indigestion. Nevertheless, when
the time came for retiring, Elmer gave the signal for taps to be sounded
on the bugle, as Lil Artha declared, "everything was lovely, and the
goose hung high!"



CHAPTER XV.

HOW THE TRAP WORKED.


BEFORE they turned in after the rest, Elmer and his closest chum, Mark,
spent a little time doing something mysterious over in the vicinity of
the tent in which the extra stores were kept.

The boys understood that it had more or less connection with the
expected visit of the liberty-loving monkey, Diablo, but like good
scouts they minded their own business.

Everyone had been warned to keep away from that same tent under penalty
of being given the surprise of their lives, and of a most unpleasant
nature at that. Of course, no one knew exactly what the scout leader had
arranged; but all the same they felt positive it would meet the peculiar
emergency. And each boy made up his mind that during his term as sentry
nothing could induce him to saunter near that marked territory.

A tall and vigorous young hickory sapling had by accident started on its
way toward some day becoming the king of the woods right there in front
of the tent opening. And Elmer, quick to grasp the opportunities which
fortune threw at his feet, had made use of this same healthy and sound
young tree. From time of old he knew the value of hickory when one
wanted a particularly springy bow.

He and Mark were panting a little when they finished a certain little
job which doubtless had a bearing on the game. And strange to say, the
upright hickory sapling no longer pointed toward the beckoning sky; but
stood there with bowed head in meek subjection to the will of man.

"Think the trigger will run smooth enough?" queried Mark, as they stood
back to gaze at the evidence of their handiwork.

"I've greased it!" chuckled Elmer. "That's what they do out West when a
big bear trap is used, and there's danger of the thing holding too well.
Do you want to step inside this loop, and give it a try, Mark?"

"Please excuse me this time, old fellow," laughed the other. "I'm very
well satisfied to stand on the earth as I am just now, and don't hanker
about getting any nearer the clouds. I leave all that ambition to
others, and particularly animals used to climbing trees. How about the
rest of the tent, Elmer?"

"Pegged down so solid that a mouse would have trouble crawling under,"
came the immediate and confident response.

"That means if our friend Diablo is as hungry as we believe, and is
determined to make another of his raids on our grub, he's just _got_ to
take advantage of the open door, eh, Elmer?"

"That's just what he does," replied the scout leader. "And we're going
to get him one way or the other, going or coming. If he happens to miss
getting caught as he trips into the tent, he won't be so lucky when he
comes out. You see, at that time he's apt to have his arms full of the
things we left around loose. He's greedy, like all monkeys, and will try
to carry as much he can. Then he can't see quite so well where to step.
Flip! bang! and there you are! Lil Artha hit it closer than he thought
when he said everything was lovely and the goose hung high! We expect
_our_ goose to do just that same thing."

"Huh! I guess this is what they call putting your foot in it, eh,
Elmer?" chuckled Mark.

"We hope it will be, that's right. But as everything has been done to a
turn, don't you think we'd better hunt out our blankets? Perhaps Diablo
may be watching us right now, crazy to get started on his raid. And then
again, it may be he's far away from here to-night, and we'll find we've
had all our trouble for our pains."

"But you don't think that last, honest now, Elmer?" queried Mark.

"If I did I wouldn't have gone to all the trouble I did," returned the
other. "Take one last look over your camera, and the flashlight powder
cartridge. All O. K. is it? Then let's leave here, and trust to luck for
the rest."

"I don't believe I'll get much sleep, for expecting to hear a racket!"
Mark declared, as they walked conspicuously away from the vicinity of
the store tent, so that the keen-eyed monkey would see them, if, as they
suspected, Diablo were hiding somewhere close by, waiting for his chance
to make another descent on the camp where all those delicious dainties
were kept, to which he had grown accustomed during the period of his
captivity--and liberty without these could not be proving all it was
cracked up to be.

"Oh! I wouldn't let a little thing like this keep me awake," said Elmer.

"Well, you see it's different with me," declared his chum. "I've had
almost no experience in such exciting things, while you have been
through rafts of it. But honest now, I'm hoping that our little game
pans out a success. I've laid that big bag where we can grab it up on
the run, and I saw you fixing the ropes handy. Let Mr. Diablo just give
that loop a tiny jerk when he gets his hind foot in it, and oh! my,
won't he be the worst rattled jabberer ever!"

Now, secretly Elmer himself was in quite a little flutter of excitement;
but he knew how to hold himself in check better than did Mark. He calmly
arranged his blanket as usual, and then settled himself down as though
such a thing as being aroused in the middle of the night were unthought
of.

And having practiced the control of his powers he did go to sleep very
shortly; absolutely refusing to allow his mind to become active by
dwelling on any subject that might agitate him.

Silence came upon the camp.

The fire sparkled and crackled as from time to time one of the sentries
stepped over to toss fresh fuel upon it. But acting under orders, they
refrained religiously from ever passing near the store tent.

If one of them chanced to be particularly vigilant, he must have
discovered a shadowy figure that came slipping down from the branches of
a tree that grew not a dozen feet away from the apparently abandoned
tent.

It made not the least noise, which would seem to indicate that it must
possess feet shod with velvet; but crouching low, after a suspicious
look around, started toward the depot of supplies.

Passing around this tent, sniffing at various places, and apparently
seeking a means of entrance, the dusky figure finally came to the front,
where that small opening stood so very invitingly in view.

Elmer, sleeping soundly, was suddenly awakened by a terrific screech,
angry and vehement; immediately succeeded by the shrillest scolding and
chattering he had ever heard.

Throwing aside his blanket, he started to crawl out of the tent. Mark
was at his heels, laughing for all he was worth, and chortling:

"It worked, Elmer, the trap went off! We've got him, I guess, all right!
Great guns; just listen to the racket he's making, will you? Oh! hurry!
hurry! before all the blood runs to his head!"

It was only his great impatience that made him imagine Elmer dallied;
for to tell the truth, the scout leader emerged from that tent in
double-quick time.

Both of them "scooted" for the spot where all that row was sounding; no
other word would so fully describe the manner of their progress as well
as Lil Artha's favorite expression.

They were not alone in this forward rush. From every tent came creeping
figures, as the scouts crawled forth. And by degrees the screeching of
the monkey was actually drowned in the greater clamor of boyish shouts.

It seemed almost as though Pandemonium must have broken loose in that
camp of the Hickory Ridge Boy Scouts, for a dozen pair of sturdy young
lungs can make considerable noise once they break loose.

It was a ridiculous spectacle that greeted them as they reached the
store tent. The bent-over hickory sapling had sprung obediently erect as
soon as the shooting of the trigger had released it from the crotch in
which its apex had been gripped. And swaying back and forth, attempting
all manner of high gymnastics, was a grotesque figure that stretched out
its arms, and made frantic efforts to reach the body of the sapling, so
as to climb up.

"Get the bag, Elmer!" cried Mark, the second that he arrived.

But already had the scout leader snatched that article up and prepared
to clap it around the struggling monkey, taking care to avoid being
caught by those waving hands.

"Quick! the rope!" he gasped, after he had made a forward movement,
enclosing the gyrating body in the stout sack.

Mark knew what he was doing, and in a brief time, during which the rest
of the boys stood around watching in wonder, the struggling monkey was
secured.

"Here, Toby, hold this rope end for a minute!" called Mark.

The other was only too willing to obey, for it gave him a chance to say
he had had a hand in the great capture of the hairy thief. Ten seconds
later there was a sudden brilliant flash that caused some of the scouts
to cry out, in the belief that a storm had crept upon them, with the
lightning giving advance warning of its coming.

"It's Mark, and he took a snap flashlight picture of the crowd standing
around in pajamas!" cried Lil Artha. "Oh! my, what a sight that will be
to chase away the blues. If only my red stripes show, I'll be the happy
one."

"How about the first flash--did it go off when the monk pulled the
trigger, Mark?" demanded Elmer.

"Sure it did," broke in Tom Cropsey, who had been one of the sentries on
duty at the time; "and gave me a nasty scare. I never dreamed you had
fixed things up that way, Elmer; and at first I thought something had
exploded. But what can we do with the critter, now that we've got him?"

"Oh! that's all fixed," laughed Mark. "Elmer made a stout collar which
can be fastened around his neck so he just can't get it off. To that a
rope is fastened, and Mr. Diablo will amuse the camp with his stunts the
rest of the time we stay up here on old Lake Solitude. Ready to work it,
Elmer?"

"Yes, give me a hand here, please," replied the scout leader, who had
been cautiously taking the enmeshed body of the still struggling monkey
down from the straightened hickory sapling.

"Why, here's luck!" exclaimed Elmer, presently. "As sure as you live
he's got a collar on right now, with a ring for a rope. There's a
trailing foot of stuff fastened to it, showing just how he got away. All
I have to do is to tie our stout line to that ring so even the clever
fingers of a monkey can't unfasten it."

When this was done, and the other end of the rope made fast to the
sapling that had assisted in Diablo's downfall, by degrees the rope
encircling the beast was removed, and then the bag. The prisoner was
inclined to be a little savage at first, because his taste of freedom
had made him somewhat wild, and besides, these were all strangers to
him.

But he was very hungry, and upon being offered food seized it eagerly.
After that they would have very little trouble with Diablo, though he
proved to be a treacherous rascal, and pinched more than a few of the
boys who ventured to be too familiar with him.

The scouts were ordered back to their blankets, and once again did the
camp relapse into silence, save for the grunting of the satisfied
Diablo, as he continued to feast upon the sweet cakes with which he had
been supplied.

In this manner, then, was the last source of trouble laid low. Ghosts
and thieves they had encountered, but in the end success had rewarded
their efforts, and it began to look as though the balance of their stay
in camp might be more in the nature of a picnic than the first few days
and nights had proven.

When morning came the boys were early astir, and crowded around to stare
at the prisoner. But with his stomach comfortably filled Diablo was lazy
and good natured. He refused to be bothered, and curled up on the ground
like a dog, made out to sleep, though a careful examination might have
disclosed the fact that one eye was partly open, and as soon as a boy
entered the store tent he was on his feet, begging.

But Ginger would be the one who must feel the most satisfaction over
the capture, for it would ease his mind concerning the necessity for
cutting his stay on the earth short, and accompanying the Evil One in a
"chariot of fire."

So that day passed very slowly as they awaited the coming of the scout
master and his "ebony galley slave" who was to row the boat up-stream.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE LAST FLICKERING CAMP FIRE DIES OUT.


"ITHERE'S the outpost making signals, Elmer," said Mark, about three
o'clock in the afternoon.

Two of the scouts, who were pretty well up in wigwag work, had been
dispatched to a knob part way up the mountain, from which a fine view of
the lower lake could be obtained, as well as the zigzag course of the
connecting Paradise Creek.

"Looks like they must have sighted our scout master, then," declared
Elmer, as he left what he was engaged in doing to hasten over to where
the balance of the signal flags lay.

Snatching one up he began to wave it in certain eccentric movements
which Red Huggins, who held the book, knew to be a query as to what the
outposts or videttes had discovered.

"There! he's starting to answer. Everybody watch sharp, and write down
what you make it!" exclaimed the scout leader.

Pencils and paper had been made ready, though most of the scouts carried
small note books in which they entered such things as they wished to
preserve.

For some little time they watched each deliberate motion of the distant
waving flag, no one saying a word. When finally the sign was given that
the message had reached its end, every scout started to scribble at hot
speed.

Then Elmer walked along the line, examining the various records.

"Pretty well done," he said after he had completed his examination, "but
of course it was the easiest of tests, for we all felt sure the report
would be that they were in sight. They are crossing Jupiter Lake right
now. That means they will be with us inside of an hour and a half, for
Ginger is rowing stoutly, Matty says, and Mr. Eggleston seems to be
getting ready to take the second pair of oars himself for the pull up
Paradise Creek, which you may remember is no cinch, fellows."

"That's right," declared Larry Billings, rubbing his arm, the muscles of
which had been more or less sore ever since that strain.

"It's going to be a long hour and a half," said Jasper Merriweather.

"Oh! rats, just go and play with the monkey, to kill time," laughed Lil
Artha.

"I'm just wild to see what Ginger does when we take him to meet his
'debble,'" observed Toby, who had of course been hovering over that
magical balloon pretty much all the morning; indeed, so long as that was
around they could hardly get the ambitious amateur aviator to do
anything worth while.

"Somebody coming back yonder; I saw 'em flit past that open place,"
remarked Nat Scott, pointing upward.

"Yes, that's Ted and Chatz, returning from the lone cabin. They promised
to be back early, because they didn't want to miss the fun when Ginger
came," declared the scout leader.

Within the next half hour not only did Ted and his companion arrive, but
the two videttes and signal men reached camp. Having discharged the duty
to which they had been assigned, Matty Eggleston and Jack Armitage had
lost no time in heading once more down the mountain.

Now an hour had gone, and the half was passing slowly. All eyes were
turned down the lake to the spot where the creek began, anticipating
seeing the boat shoot into view.

"Hurrah! there they come!" shouted one who had climbed a tree, the
better to get the first glimpse of the returning couple.

As the boat slipped out on the silvery surface of the lonely lake, so
well named Solitude, the cheers that arose must have been particularly
pleasing to the young man who was devoting so much of his time to the
task of trying to make the Hickory Ridge Boy Scouts the best troops in
the county.

But it was Ginger who deliberately dropped his oars, to rise to his
feet, and with his black hand over his heart, make several salaams. He
came near taking a header over the side of the boat in his eagerness to
return the compliments which he really believed the boys were meaning
for him, at which of course there was an uproarious laugh all around.

Then came the landing. Ty Collins made sure that the boat contained a
lot of packages, and his eyes shone with pleasure as he saw that one of
them bore the unmistakable outlines of a whole ham.

"This way, Mr. Garrabrant, we've got a surprise for you!" laughed Elmer.

"You come along, too, Ginger," called Lil Artha, "and make the
acquaintance of an old friend of yours. He's been fretting like
everything because you were so long getting here. Diablo, here's Ginger
coming to shake hands with you!"

Of course they had heaps of fun watching the look on the face of Ginger,
as he found himself confronting the hairy thief whom he had seen under
such strange conditions, and believed to be a visitor from a warm
country where pitchforks are said to be in fashion.

But it required considerable urging for Ginger to actually take the
extended hand of the big monkey. Eventually, however, they became quite
good friends. Ginger was forever supplying the captive with tidbits, and
on his part Diablo seemed to recognize in the dark-skinned man a boon
companion.

Of course, after they had their little frolic, and the story of Diablo's
capture had been fully told, the boys were eager to know whether Mr.
Garrabrant had succeeded in turning the two bad men over to the Rockaway
authorities, also if he had happened to run across any of their folks
while in Hickory Ridge.

"Make your minds easy, boys," he had replied, laughingly. "Jim and Bill
are safely lodged behind the bars in Rockaway jail. I saw Colonel
Hitchens, and he paid me the reward that was offered for their capture,
which goes to the troop. Later on you boys shall take a vote as to what
to do with the money, though I imagine I can give a pretty good guess
where it'll go from what I heard you say before about Abe and his
kiddies."

"Did you happen to mention the fact that we believed we had his runaway
monkey up here as a neighbor, sir?" asked Elmer.

"I certainly did, and he at once declared that if you could only manage
to get hold of that rogue, Diablo, it would be another hundred dollars
reward," answered the scout master.

"Hurrah!" cried Lil Artha, boisterously, "but the honor goes to Elmer
and Mark. They not only did the entire trick, but managed to get a
flashlight picture of the monkey going up in the air, with one of his
hind legs gripped in the loop of a rope. It's the greatest thing I ever
heard about! Wait till you see the picture, sir."

"But how about Hickory Ridge, sir; I suppose it's still on the map?"
asked Elmer, who knew only too well that every fellow was just dying to
hear whether the scout master had happened to run across any of their
home folks, and what they had said in sending word.

"Well," replied Mr. Garrabrant, with a smile and a nod around; "I've got
a pleasant surprise for you all. Having some time on my hands after I
had carried out my little business affairs, I just thought it would be
nice if I took my car and ran around to the home of every scout who is
in camp here on old Solitude!"

"Bully for you, sir!"

"That was mighty fine of you, Mr. Garrabrant, and did you see my folks,
sir?"

"Three cheers for our scout master, fellows; ain't he all to the good,
though?"

Now, Mr. Garrabrant knew boys and was not in the least offended by such
crude ways of expressing their appreciation. He knew it sprang straight
from the heart, and was prouder to have won so lasting a place in their
regard than he would have been to take a city.

"Yes, I saw the folks of every lad, and bear messages that will please
you, I am sure," he observed. "Here they are, just as they were sent by
mothers and fathers. And you may be sure they were delighted to learn
how well things were going. They want you to stay your time out, and
come back, ruddy and brown, better fitted to take up your school duties
when vacation ends."

After the packet of little hastily scribbled messages had been
distributed, care having been taken by the thoughtful scout master that
not a single one might feel neglected, there was a strange silence in
camp. Undoubtedly several of the boys were rather perilously near the
breaking point, as they began to once more experience the grip of that
terrible malady--homesickness.

But Mr. Garrabrant knew, and he it was who began to play with the
captive monkey, causing more or less sport, that presently had all the
boys laughing uproariously. And so the threatened eruption was avoided.
When supper time came they had managed to recover their former
steadiness of purpose to stick it out to the end.

But there was not a single member of the troop who did not treasure that
little slip of paper, bearing only a few cheering loving words in a
familiar hand, during the rest of the stay in camp.

As to what else befell the Hickory Ridge Boy Scouts, and particularly
those members of the Wolf Patrol in whom we have had especial interest,
time and space will not allow my attempting to narrate here. Later on
the opportunity will doubtless arise, so that we shall once more make
their acquaintance, and accompany them on other fields of outdoor life,
where they continue to imbibe the secrets of Nature that are calculated
to make them better fitted to take care of themselves, and be of service
to their fellows.

No serious calamity came to pass as the days slipped along. They
continued to take toll of the obliging trout that dwelt in Lake
Solitude, long acquainted with the hooks and devices of civilized man.
And Mr. Garrabrant seldom allowed even a single day to pass without
endeavoring to foster in his boys the manly spirit all American lads
should possess.

The day before they expected to break camp a party went over to the
cabin of Abe Morris and brought him back with them, he being so far
recovered, thanks to the treatment of the proud amateur physician, Dr.
Ted, that he could limp, with the aid of crutches, and the stout as well
as willing arms of the boys to lean upon.

Of course the manly boy, Felix, and the useful maiden, Little Lou, came
along, for the hut was being abandoned forever.

They had places in the boats when the camp was left behind. The wagon as
well as a carriage awaited them at exactly the same place where had
burned the first camp fire of the expedition, this latter being for the
use of Abe and his "kiddies," and the clumsier vehicle for the camp
luggage.

As for the scouts themselves they scorned such a means of travel.
Browned and healthy, they felt able to walk twice the seven miles that
lay between the Sweetwater and Hickory Ridge. And besides, were they not
headed for _home_, with all that that implied in their enthusiastic
boyish hearts?

We could not, even if we would lift the veil, betray the emotion some of
the valiant scouts exhibited when clasped again in the loving arms of a
mother or a father. But everybody declared that the change in the boys
was wonderful, and that they really seemed to have taken a great step
forward in the journey toward manliness. Jasper Merriweather in
particular hardly seemed like the same weak, timid boy. He had drawn in
a big breath of "outdoors," and glimpsed the goal toward which he was
now determined to set his course.

And in Hickory Ridge that night, there was a consensus of opinion to the
effect that the Boy Scout movement was by long odds the best thing that
had ever happened to quicken the better element lying dormant in every
growing lad.

Abe Morris was easily placed in a paying position, and the boys never
lost their interest in the boy Felix and Little Lou. Just as they had
declared, the rewards coming to them for having effected the capture of
the two bad men, as well as the runaway monkey valued so highly by
Colonel Hitchens, were paid over to Abe, and went toward starting the
little Morris family in a cottage of their own within the limits of the
town of Hickory Ridge.

Doubtless the thoughts of those lads would many times go out to the camp
fires which had marked their first outing after organizing. And as they
looked over the numerous fine pictures Mark had secured, they would live
again the days when they experienced the strenuous life under canvas.


THE END.



The Alger Books by Horatio Alger, Jr.

"THE TWO-IN-ONE EDITION"


A new edition, 5 × 7¼ inches, bulk one inch, 330 pages, from new plates,
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Won In The Ninth

_A STORY ABOUT BASEBALL_

By "CHRISTY" MATHEWSON

(FAMOUS PITCHER Of THE NEW YORK NATIONAL LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAM)

(Copyrighted, 1910, by the R. J. Bodmer Co.)


The characters are college boys in everything but their ability to play
baseball. Each represents one of the leading players who are now playing
in the American and National Leagues with names slightly changed, but
the reader will soon discover that he is reading the early exploits of
one of his baseball favorites.

The whole range of interesting features about a ball team and the game
itself is covered in successive chapters. One of them contains the
secrets of what is known as "inside baseball" and "signal work" with
illustrations showing how to do it.

Through the twenty chapters are interwoven many of the stories of actual
plays, famous catches, thrilling episodes of games, tricks pulled off
and some that did not work, which have come within the author's
experience.

A good story of college life runs through the book. The hero gets into
trouble and his friends get him out in the usual strenuous style of
college life stories.

It is a live book about baseball, with live characters, and written by
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_Primrose Edition_

_ECONOMICAL COOKING_

_Planned for Two or More Persons_

By MISS WINIFRED S. GIBBS

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        _Cloth Binding_     _Illustrated_       _25c. per volume_

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       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected.

First advertising page, "Campfires" changed to "Camp Fires" to match
actual name of book. (Camp Fires of the Wolf Patrol)

First advertising page, "Chenoweth" changed to "Chenowith" to match
actual book usage (Elmer Chenowith, a lad from)

Page 78, "presenty" changed to "presently" (And when presently)





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