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Title: Great Hike - or, The Pride of the Khaki Troop
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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The Hickory Ridge Boy Scouts


       *       *       *       *       *



By Capt. Alan Douglas, Scout-master

The Campfires 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 northwest woods, astonishes everyone by his
      familiarity with camp life. A clean, wholesome story
      every boy should read.

Woodcraft; or, How a Patrol Leader Made Good

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

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.

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

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.

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

Under Canvas; or, The Hunt for the Cartaret Ghost

      It was hard to disbelieve the evidence of their eyes
      but the boys by the exercise of common-sense solved a
      mystery which had long puzzled older heads.

Storm-bound; or, a Vacation Among the Snow Drifts

      The boys start out on the wrong track, but their scout
      training comes to the rescue and their experience
      proves beneficial to all concerned.

Boy Scout Nature Lore to be Found in The Hickory Ridge Boy Scout Series,
all illustrated:--

      Wild Animals of the United States--Tracking--Trees and
      Wild Flowers of the United States--Reptiles of the
      United States--Fishes of the United States--Insects of
      the United States and Birds of the United States.

    _Cloth Binding_      _Cover Illustrations in Four Colors_
              _40c. Per Volume_

    201 EAST 12th STREET       NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *



The Pride of the Khaki Troop

       *       *       *       *       *




       *       *       *       *       *


    ELMER CHENOWITH, Patrol Leader, and also
    Assistant Scout Master

              PHIL (PHILIP) DALE
                GEORGE ROBBINS


Matty (Matthew) Eggleston, Patrol Leader

          TOM CROPSEY
              HEN (HENRY) CONDIT
                LANDY (PHILANDER) SMITH


    JACK ARMITAGE, Patrol Leader


       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: . . . and presently they followed on their motor

The Hickory Ridge Boy Scouts



The Pride of the Khaki Troop



Scout Master


The New York Book Company
New York

Copyright, 1913, by
The New York Book Company


  CHAPTER                                                      PAGE
     I.--THE TALK IN AN APPLE TREE                               17
    II.--JASPER'S IDEA TAKES ROOT                                25
   III.--AS THE CLOCK IN THE TOWER BOOMED SIX                    33
    IV.--SIGNS OF TROUBLE                                        41
     V.--THE MOTORCYCLE SQUAD                                    49
    VI.--GETTING IN A RUT                                        57
   VII.--IN HOT PURSUIT                                          65
    IX.--NEARING THE CRISIS                                      81
     X.--FOUND AT LAST                                           89
    XI.--THE HOWL OF THE WOLF SIGNAL                             97
   XII.--THE AMBUSH                                             105
  XIII.--FRIENDS IN TIME OF NEED                                113
   XIV.--HOW THE PLOT FAILED                                    121
    XV.--VICTORY--SISS! BOOM! HURRAH!                           129










A NUMBER of active boys were perched high among the heavily laden
branches of a big fall pippin apple tree, back of the old Philander
Smith house, located just outside the limits of the thriving town of
Hickory Ridge.

"Take care, Landy!" called out Chatz Maxfield, whose soft, mellow voice
told of his Southern birth; "that long ladder might chance to slip, suh,
and it would be a long ways to the ground!"

"Oh, shucks! I've got the upper end wedged fast in the crotch along the
outside of this limb, Chatz. And believe me, I'm getting my basket full
of the biggest yellow pippins you ever saw. Who cares for expenses,

Landy, whose father owned the property, was very much inclined to be
fat; though he would never admit the fact; and was forever declaring he
had a new method of exercise that would reduce him to a "living
skeleton," sooner or later.

Besides Chatz Maxfield, whose real name, of course, was Charles, the
busy bees in the tree who were assisting their chum pick the ripe apples
on this late August day consisted of three fellows, all members of the
Hickory Ridge troop of Boy Scouts; and well known to every lad who has
read the preceding volumes in this series.

First there was Ty Collins. Every boy in town would know Ty as far away
as they could see him; for, when not going to school, winter and summer
he clung to an old red sweater that he seemed to love above all the
garments he possessed.

Then came a small fellow, Jasper Merriweather by name, whose one
ambition it was to get out of the "runt" class. Jasper was never weary
of asking some one to take his measure, and compare it with past
records; but thus far he had not made much progress toward reaching the
ordinary height of a lad of fifteen. Still, he clung to hope and tried
to fill his position as Number Four in the Beaver Patrol, to the best of
his ability.

Last of all, but by no means least, was Ted Burgoyne. Ted had the
misfortune to lisp when he grew the least bit excited; though no one
ever knew him to acknowledge the fact, and indeed, if accused, he would
grow very indignant, even while others could catch the fatal slip in his
warm denial.

They called him "Dr. Ted," for the very good reason that he had his
heart set on medicine and surgery, and often found himself in great
demand to practice on his fellow scouts. Outside of a few rather wild
theories, and a boy-like desire to have a little fun out of things, Ted
was quite practical. He was held much in respect by the twenty odd boys
constituting the khaki troop.

The Hickory Ridge troop had passed the experimental stage of progress,
and had become an established fact. Three patrols, of eight boys each,
were complete, and there were candidates to start a fourth, if they
could meet the requirements and feel capable of subscribing to the
twelve cardinal principles that every true scout has to try to live up

Lately a rival troop had sprung up in Fairfield, led by one Matt Tubbs.
Formerly Matt had only been known as a great bully, and those who
trained with him had served under his banner simply through fear,
without a grain of respect.

But Matt had, strange to say, seen a great light. He had watched the
boys of the khaki troop in their open-air tests. Something in the
business seemed to appeal strongly to him; and then had come the
determination to start a troop in his town.

Of course he ran up against a snag in the beginning, for no boy with the
loose principles Matt held at that time could ever be accepted as a
scout. He studied the matter, watched the Hickory Ridge lads some more,
and then came the great awakening.

And now Matt Tubbs was on the right road. He controlled his followers
just as thoroughly as before, but generally in a different manner. They
respected him too. Still, once in a while the old spirit cropped out;
and it was told how, when one of his cronies, thinking to take advantage
of this new mantle of meekness, boldly challenged Matt to a fight, the
new leader of the Fairfield troop gave him the best kind of a whipping;
after which he helped bind up his scratches, and stop the flow of blood
from his nose.

But the insurrection had been nipped in the bud: and they did say that
Matt tried to atone for his breaking of the rules of the organization by
being unusually patient with those under him who had difficulty in
keeping up with the reform pace he set.

It was pretty generally understood all through the region that Matt
Tubbs might never have started to climb the ladder only for the boyish
sympathy which he received from Elmer Chenowith, the leader of the
Hickory Ridge troop, and assistant to the scout master, Mr. Garrabrant.

And the reformation of the worst boy in Fairfield and Cramertown long
astonished the good people of those communities. When they awakened to
the truth that it was no myth, but apparently an accomplished fact, they
were quick to give most of the credit to the discipline of the new

And the Fairfield troop from that time on had never lacked for backing
from the parents of those boys connected with the same.

The fellows in the apple tree had been talking about these things as
they helped Landy pick the fruit, a task that had been set for him by
his father, and which must be fulfilled ere he could get off for play
that day.

Of course they also discussed the great baseball game that had recently
been played between the rival troops, in which Hickory Ridge came out
victor, after a very strenuous afternoon's work.

"The way Lil Artha circles the bases gets me," declared Ty Collins, as
he munched on a particularly fine specimen of fruit he had struck, and
which tempted him beyond his capacity to decline, though it was possibly
the seventh he had eaten within the hour.

"Oh, I don't know," remarked Ted, swinging his legs from the limb he
straddled. "Most persons theem to think there's no one tho fatht as Lil
Artha. Now, I admit in the thtart that he can cover the ground at a
pretty rapid rate; but nobody knowth jutht how long he could hold out on
a long hike. I've got my own ideath on that thubject, fellows."

"Sure you have, and so have a lot of others in the troop, suh," declared
Chatz. "Might I ask who you think would have the best chance in an
endurance hike that would last, say for twenty-four hours straight?"

"Why, Elmer would, for a thtarter," replied the other, quickly; "and if
that ain't enough, what'th the matter with Ty Collinth himthelf? Theemth
to me you'd hold out, and give long-legged Lil Artha a run for hith

"Me for Matty Eggleston!" declared Jasper, eagerly; for the boy in
question was leader of the patrol to which Jasper belonged, and in his
eyes seemed a marvel second only to Elmer himself.

"If Lil Artha fell down on the long run, I kind of think Red Huggins
might pull in a victor," Ty went on. "That fellow is just chock-full of
grit. When he shuts his teeth, and starts in, there's no telling where
he'll stop."

"How about George Robbinth, your couthin, Matty?" asked Ted. "I've theen
him walk half a dozen fellowth until they admitted they weren't in the
thame clath? Perhaps now he might have a chance to win in a long tetht."

"Oh, George is a good one, all right," declared Landy. "Our family is
noted for producing marvels. You just wait a little while longer, till I
trim my weight down a few more pounds, and I'll show you something worth
while. Huh, if there was a long-distance hike right now, d'ye know I'd
be strongly tempted to enter. You never can tell. Appearances are
sometimes mighty deceiving, boys."

"There's another swift one in our bunch, fellows," called out little
Jasper, who never could hope to enter any of these competitions until
Nature was kinder to him, and began to add a few inches to his stature.

"Who's that, Jasper?" demanded Ty, perched high up in the immense tree,
and lowering his basket when filled with an ingenious tackle he had
contrived so that he need not climb down with a bulky load; though twice
he had managed to upset the whole picking, to the disgust of Landy who
feared the apples would be too badly bruised to find a market, as his
father intended.

"What d'ye say to Jack Armitage?" the small scout went on. "Ever seen
him get around and steal bases, no matter what the catcher was doing?
He's a screamer, that's what! But of course I ain't sure how Jack would
hold out on a twenty-four-hour walk. He's full of staying power though,
and might surprise some fellows who have been reckoned at the top of the

"Well, you fellows have about put all the available candidates on the
list," declared Ty, laughing because he himself figured in the same.
"Elmer is out of the running because he got a thorn in his foot a day or
two ago, and is limping to beat the band. His best chum, Mark Cummings,
might enter, but it happens he's out of town and may not be back for a
week. But what's all this talk going to amount to, anyhow?"

"We ought to have thith important question thettled, boyth!" declared

"There's been a heap of hot air circulating for a month past about who
is the best all-round walker in the troop," remarked Jasper; "and seems
to me that matter ought to be threshed out, once and for all!"

"Hurrah, that's the talk, Jasper!" cried Chatz, throwing an apple at the

"Bully boy!" called Ty. "Go on and make a suggestion, Jasper. You've got
something in your noodle after all. Keep it up, my boy, and success to

"That's right, Jasper," said Landy, stretching around to pick several
tempting yellow beauties that seemed just beyond the reach of his rather
short arm. "Tell us what you've been thinking about. Is it a big hike
for the best walkers and runners of the celebrated Hickory Ridge

Jasper swelled with importance. It was not often he found himself in the
lime light, and his opinion in demand. The experience seemed delightful,
and he was not in too great a hurry to satisfy the demand for
information; since once they had his views the discussion must become
general, and he would only stand on an equal footing with the rest.

"Well, to tell the truth I was thinking about suggesting a great hike,
with, say a limit of half a dozen fellows connected with the troop as
contestants. Perhaps you noticed that I mentioned a twenty-four-hour
consecutive tramp as the basis of the test. Each fellow could be bound
by a solemn promise not to accept a lift on the way, under penalty of
displacement. And several others, like Elmer for instance, might keep
tabs on the bunch by following them on their wheels."

"Listen to him, will you? Hasn't Jasper got it down pat?" cried Landy,
again exerting himself to the utmost to gather in another lot of
unusually tempting pippins.

"He's going to fill a long-felt want," declared Chatz. "We need an
organizer, some one who could take the responsibility of fixing up these
meets from the over-burdened shoulders of Elmer. And, suh, I suspect
Jasper is going to develop into a master of ceremonies."

"Then you rather like the idea, fellows?" asked the small scout, pleased
beyond measure.

"It's just the thing," declared Ty.

"We'll take the thame up at wunth, and have the affair arranged in a
jiffy," Ted announced.

"Hey, take care there, Landy, your ladder's slipping! Quick, grab hold
of something, or you're a goner!" shouted Ty, suddenly.

Landy tried to wriggle himself back again, but his stretch had been
fatal to all chances for maintaining his position. The top of the long
ladder lost its grip in the swaying crotch and slid from under him.
There was a rattle of apples thudding down on the ground twenty feet
below; but Landy had, on the spur of the moment, seized hold of the
outer branches, so that there he hung, swinging back and forth; afraid
to let go, and yet incapable of long maintaining his frantic grip.



"HOOP-LA, somebody grab me before I drop!" shouted Landy, as he kept
trying to get a grip with his fat legs on the foliage of the outer
branches which seemed to take particular delight in evading his
ambitious designs.

"Get a feather bed under him!" shrieked Ty, although at the same time he
was changing his position in the tree with all possible haste, meaning
to assist the clinging boy, if it could possibly be done.

"Oh, save me first, and joke about it afterward!" cried Landy, who was
really alarmed and under a tremendous strain, both bodily and mentally.

"If I only had a rope with a loop in it, I could lasso him!" declared

"But you haven't, you see," cried Landy. "Think up something else! Hurry
along, boys; I can't hold out much longer. I'm no Elmer as a gymnast.
I'm slipping right now, I tell you. Wow! Is that measly old ladder under
me, and will I come down with a splash on it?"

He panted as he uttered this complaint, and the boys saw that his face
resembled the setting sun, as he looked up to them almost piteously. But
who could reach him there? On the very outer edge of the big tree, with
the ground fully twenty feet below, and nothing to break his fall, it
began to look like a serious business for poor Landy.

Dr. Ted realized that there was real danger of the boy getting a broken
leg if he fell that distance. Landy was not like agile Lil Artha, or
some other members of the troop. His weight made him solid, and being
without any spring, he would likely come down with a dull, sickening

"Hold on as long as you can, Landy!" yelled Ted, even neglecting to lisp
in his great excitement.

He was slipping down the tree like a "greased pig," as Jasper termed it,
though what that sort of animal would be doing up in an apple tree he
never took the trouble to explain.

Ty saw what the idea was. He had been about to try and reach Landy by
standing far out on a limb; but the prospect of success was very small.
And so he followed Ted down the tree, slipping from limb to limb with
the agility that some boys can only display when the owner of the
orchard is seen coming on the full run with a ferocious bulldog at his

"Oh, hurry! hurry! I'm near gone, and can't hold out much longer!
What're you doing down there to help me, boys?" wailed the one whose
legs swung back and forth like a couple of pendulums, as they vainly
sought for a chance to grip something that would ease the strain on his
arms above.

"The ladder! They've gone to set it up again, Landy! Just hold on half a
minute longer. And there's Elmer jumped off his bicycle; and he's
already raising it up. Set your teeth, Landy; take a fresh grip, and
it's going to be all right!"

So the excited Jasper shouted as he sat there in the tree, unable to
lend a helping hand, but at least capable of offering good advice.

A boy who had been coming toward the place on a wheel, seeing the state
of affairs, had instantly sized up the situation; and even while those
in the tree were shouting back and forth, and before they could get
started, Elmer Chenowith, jumping from his saddle, had limped forward to
where the unlucky ladder lay.

By the time Ted, followed by Ty, landed on the ground, he had raised it
single-handed, and with a readiness that told of long familiarity with
ladders; for one not accustomed to such things would never know the
secret of bracing the bottom against some root and then lifting rapidly.

So just in the nick of time the treacherous ladder was dropped against
the outer branches of the tree, alongside the hanging boy. Elmer himself
flew up the rounds, for he feared that Landy, always more or less
clumsy, might not be able to swing his form around, and take advantage
of the opening.

But desperation gave Landy new abilities, and he managed by a violent
effort to roll around to the outer side of the leaning ladder. Utterly
exhausted by the strain he had been under, the fat boy must have slipped
helplessly down only that Elmer managed to clutch him.

Step by step the gasping Landy was lowered until he reached the bottom
round. He was no longer furiously red, but had turned a sickly white.

"Here, let him down on the ground," said Dr. Ted, taking command at that
point as though it were his acknowledged right. "He's only getting the
reaction now. I'll fix him up, boys, and he'll be picking apples again
before ten minutes, believe me."

He was as good as his word, for Landy soon recovered; but it was noticed
that from that moment the fat boy showed great caution how he climbed up
that ladder, by which he had once been betrayed.

"What was all that talk going on as I passed?" asked Elmer, a bright,
wide-awake young fellow, whose year out on a Canadian ranch belonging
to an uncle was proving of considerable value to him in his experience
as a scout.

"What did you hear?" asked Jasper, assuming a little of his former

"Seemed to me it smacked of a contest," Elmer replied, "and somebody was
telling how a few of us could keep tabs on the same, while using our
wheels. That struck me as interesting, and so, wanting to know more, I
just wheeled around, and was coming in through the back gate to the
garden when the ladder fell. Now tell me the rest, fellows, because you
all know that I'm head over ears interested in anything that touches on
contests of any sort."

"Well," spoke up Ty, grinning; "somehow we got to talking about who the
best all-round walker and runner in the troop might be. A lot of names
were mentioned, including my own. Then there were Red, Lil Artha, Matty,
George Robbins and Jack Armitage. Even Landy here threatened to enter
for the big hike."

"But what was the idea?" asked Elmer, his face aglow with interest.

"To fix up a long-distance hike, say for twenty-four consecutive hours;
and a few fellows, mounted on their wheels, kind of superintend things
by keeping tabs along the line. The contestant coming in ahead at the
end of the walk to be declared the pride of the troop, and the greatest

Jasper rattled all this off with a fluency that told how he had indeed
been deliberating over the scheme for some little time, and only sprang
it on his chums now because the talk had gotten around to the subject.

"How's that strike you, Elmer?" asked Ty.

"Yeth, give uth your opinion, Mr. Thcoutmaster!" echoed Ted.

"Boys, it's just dandy, and that's a fact!" declared Elmer. "We can make
up the arrangements to-night, if you'll all come around to my house.
I'll get a lot of the other boys on the phone. I was thinking this
morning that we ought to have a meeting about now, anyway, for there are
a lot of matters that need attention."

"Then if you say so, it will be a go," declared Jasper, highly pleased
because his little scheme had met with such instant approval at the
hands of one in whom he placed the utmost confidence.

"Sure to be, Jasper," came the reply. "And it does you great credit too.
Some of us were wondering what we might do to stir things up a little.
With school opening just two weeks off, we want to make the most of the
few days left of our vacation. Now this big hike will be just the

"Besides, you see, Elmer," the small scout continued, eagerly, "it's
going to settle a dispute between the lot of us here. Some think one
fellow is going to have a walkover, and others hold different opinions.
Of course we all know you're bound to be shut out, on account of that
sore foot of yours. And as Mark is out of town, he can't enter the game
either. But we think the six fellows we picked out ought to make things
lively enough to suit anybody."

"They will, for a fact," replied Elmer. "Of course I pin my faith on Lil
Artha, but I may be mistaken just as well as any one of you. But I must
be going, fellows, as I was on an errand, and just ran around here to
see how you were getting on. Better not try those gymnastics again,
Landy. That was an ugly scrape for even an acrobat, let alone a fellow
as chunky as you are."

"Elmer, never again," said the fat boy, solemnly, as he slowly shook his
head. "I'll be sore for a week after that job. My arms feel right now
like they'd been nearly pulled out of their sockets. Gee, but nobody
can understand just how it feels to be hanging twenty feet up, on the
outside branches of a tree, and slowly slipping, slipping! And I lost a
basket of the biggest pippins you ever saw; every one a prize winner,
but now all bruised and wasted!"

"You'd have been the biggest squashed pippin of the lot if you went down
that time," sang out Ty from the top of the tree.

"Now that's real cruel of you, Ty," complained Landy; but he did not
take the jibes of his comrades much to heart, for he was fond of a joke

"Remember, every one of you drop around to-night," said Elmer, as he
picked up his wheel, which he had hastily thrown aside at the moment he
discovered how necessary prompt action was required in order to save

"Any chance of striking some of that delightful sponge cake your
housekeeper makes to beat the Dutch?" asked Landy, who had never
forgotten the treat set before the scouts the last time some of them
were invited around to Elmer's home.

"Seems to me Mrs. Gregg was making a big batch this very morning when I
left home," called back Elmer; just as if he hadn't asked her to do the
same, since he intended having the boys in khaki there that night.

"Then count me in," declared the fat boy, firmly; "even if my arms are
so sore I'll have to ask somebody to raise the cake to my mouth. Yum,
yum; that was the finest thing that ever came down the pike, barring
none! And you tell her that, Elmer, with my compliments."

"All right, I will," sang out the departing one, as he passed out of the
rear gate, mounted on his wheel and riding as one to the manner born.

The apple picking went on, with the heap at the base of the tree
growing in size as basket after basket was added to it. And the
conversation between the five lads covered a great variety of subjects
as they stripped the big tree of its golden freight.

"What makes me sore," remarked Landy with a big sigh, "is the fact that
I upset the basket that held the finest apples going. You see, my dad
expected to show some of these at the fair next week, if they turned out
as well as they looked from the ground. And I was just saying to myself
that I had the beauts, when the silly old ladder went back on poor
little Philander."

"Don't weep, old chap," called out Ty. "If you look over that last lot I
sent down on my little cable here, you'll find them the mates of the
ones you dropped. And for a wonder, too, I got that basket down safe
without an upset."

"Thanks, you make me happy again, Ty," remarked Landy. "And for that
you'll be remembered in my last will."

"Huh!" grunted Jasper; "he deserves a heap of credit for letting all
those fine pippins get past him; because he acted like he meant to
gobble every extra good one that came along. I've counted about a dozen
he's got away with up to now; and I think even at that he's just taken
the edge off his appetite."

"Well, in that case I'll get down and pick out a basket from the pile to
take in the house, before Ty starts at full speed," and Landy did
actually head for the ground to put his threat into execution.

So they kept up a crossfire of remarks, sometimes more or less witty,
until the last apple that could be reached was bagged. Then the game was
declared off, and Landy invited his chums in to help dispose of a quart
of peanuts he happened to have in his room.

"We'll all be around to-night at Elmer's house, I suppose?" remarked Ty
as, with Ted, Jasper and Chatz, he started for the door.

"Count on me, if I have to be carried on a stretcher," vowed Landy,
laughing at the speaker, as he recalled to mind the attractive lure that
had been held out for their attendance.

"And I'm anxious to have this thing put through," declared Jasper;
"because, you see, it was partly my suggestion; and besides, I've got a
hunch that the Fairfield troop are figuring on a long hike, to try out
their best fellows. I'd like to see our Lil Artha or Matty Eggleston up
against the best they have. It'd be a hike worth hearing about, believe
me, fellows."

"And perhaps we _can_ fix up a match; I'm going to mention the thing to
Elmer, anyhow," remarked Chatz, who really had no small nature, and
could see one of his comrades winning laurels without showing the
slightest envy.

And talking it over earnestly, they left Landy, heading for their
various homes.



IT lacked but ten minutes of six.

The sun had been up for about half an hour and there was every promise
of a fine August day. Possibly, before the shades of evening fell, the
heat of the dog days might prove more or less exhausting; but at that
early hour the outlook was all that could be asked.

Around the old church with the belfry, fully half the young people of
Hickory Ridge seemed to have congregated. Girls were there as well as
boys; for what with the sisters of the scouts, as well as all the other
fellows' sisters, the starting of what promised to be the greatest hike
on record among the lads of the new organization was an event that could
not be missed.

Of course, besides the six contestants, there were numerous other
khaki-clad members of the various patrols. Each fellow was, as a rule,
the center of a questioning group and felt compelled to supply all the
information in his power.

Mr. Garrabrant, the young man who served so faithfully as scout master
to the troop, was talking to the boys who expected to participate in the
long tramp. He encouraged them, and at the same time laid down the law
in plain language.

No one was to accept any kind of a ride while on the hike; even if only
for a short space, it would invalidate all his rights to be considered
in the contest. And of course each fellow gave his solemn word of honor
to abide faithfully by the rules, a copy of which had been given to him.

The conditions were simple enough; Mr. Garrabrant had arranged with the
scout master of the troop of Boy Scouts in Little Falls, and each of the
rival contestants was supplied with a letter of greeting, which they
were to hand to that gentleman upon arriving at the headquarters in
Little Falls. This town being some forty-seven miles away from Hickory
Ridge, as the crow flies, it can be seen that a herculean task awaited
the boys, in order to cover this distance inside of the twenty-four

What added spice to the game was the fact that it was known there were
to be several fellows who meant to leave Fairfield at exactly the same
hour, and under similar conditions. And the spirit of Hickory Ridge was
aroused in civic pride. They yearned to win out over all competitors,
just as they had done in that wonderful baseball game only a short time

Elsie Craig, one of the prettiest girls in the whole town, and who was
particularly fond of Elmer, waylaid Landy as he was changing his
position, meaning, to get closer to the group where the six who had
entered for the race were making ready for the start.

"Oh, please wait a couple of minutes, Landy!" she exclaimed, with an
entreating smile on her winsome face.

Landy, much as he wanted to get where he could hear the last
instructions given to the half dozen scouts before they started, could
not resist this plea. Truth to tell, Landy was a little "soft" himself
when it came to a certain girl, and Elsie happened to be her chum.

"All right, Elsie," he remarked, as he came to a halt, though looking
longingly toward the excited group about Mr. Garrabrant. "What can I do
for you?"

"I want to know, that's all. Elmer is so busy he just can't spend one
little minute talking to me," she replied with a pout.

"Why, you see, he just has to do his duty as the assistant scout
master," declared Landy, actually wincing when the girl rested a hand on
one of his sore arms. "But I was at the meeting where all the
particulars were decided on, and perhaps I might be able to tell you
what you want to know, Elsie."

"First of all, do the boys only walk and not run?" she asked, eagerly.

"This is a hike, and that means a walk, not a Marathon race. So every
fellow is put on his honor not to run," replied Landy.

"But I should think Arthur Stansbury had all the advantage, because he
can take such big steps," observed the girl, frowning a little, as
though Lil Artha had never been a very great favorite of hers.

Landy laughed with the air of one who knows all the ins and outs of
walking matches.

"Oh, that's nothing to go by, Elsie," he declared, with a shrug of his
shoulders that compelled him to make an immediate grimace, for the
muscles were sore. "Why, it often happens that some little runt can
outstrip a fellow nearly twice his height. It's endurance that tells in
the long run. The boy who can set his teeth together, and fight it out
to the bitter end. That's what Mr. Garrabrant says, and all of us
athletes understand it."

Elsie smiled, and looked roguishly up and down Landy's plump form when
she heard him mention that word so proudly. But then, after that
experience when the ladder fell and left him dangling twenty feet from
the ground, Landy really believed he deserved to be classed among the
strenuous ones, even though it might be in an humble capacity.

"And they have to walk all the way to Little Falls before to-morrow
morning; poor fellows, don't I pity them, though!" the girl went on.
"Elmer would have been in the game too, only for that ugly thorn in his
foot. And don't you think he would surely have won the prize, Landy, if
he had competed?"

"Oh, nearly everyone believes that," replied the fat boy, readily;
"though to tell the truth, there never has been a hike like this around
here before, and we don't just know who's got the Injun sign on the rest
of the bunch. Between you and me, Elsie, I'm pinning some faith on
George Robbins. You know he's my cousin, and he's got some of the old
Philander Smith stock in him. The record of my family is a proud one";
and he drew himself up as he inflated his chest with a pompous air that
would have well become the drum major of the town band.

"To be sure, Landy," remarked the little miss, quickly; "and it covers a
lot of ground, too. Why, even in history we come across it every now and
then. But, Landy, how will it be known that the six contestants keep to
the route that has been laid out for them? Some one might look up a map
and find a road that would be a short cut. That would be an unfair

"Sure it would," remarked the boy; "and it was just to prevent knowledge
and craft from winning when this was to be a question of speed and
endurance, Mr. Garrabrant says, that made the committee insist on
stations along the way."

"Stations? Whatever do you mean by that?" Elsie demanded.

"Well, they picked out a number of taverns where one of the scouts who
goes on ahead with Mr. Garrabrant will establish a register. In that
book every fellow in the great hike is expected to enter his name in his
own handwriting, also the time of his arrival and departure."

"Oh, now I understand; and Landy, that is a clever idea!" the girl
exclaimed. "But Elmer intends setting out on his wheel later on in the
day; will you please tell me what reason there is for that, Landy?"

"Oh, it was arranged by the committee, that's all. Several of the
fellows will go from time to time. Sort of keep tabs on the contestants
and see how they are getting on. I expected to be chosen to be one of
these inspectors, but I had a little accident yesterday that knocked me
out. But all the fellows said that the game old Philander Smith spirit
cropped out, and that few boys could have held on up in that tree as
long as I did."

But if sly Landy expected in this manner to lead the conversation into a
personal line, so that he could glorify his own prowess, he made a
mistake. Evidently the pretty little miss with the golden locks and the
blue eyes had no desire to hear about his wonderful escape.

"How will the six contestants get anything to eat on the way?" she

"Oh, that's left to them," answered the fat boy, frowning with
disappointment over the failure of his attempt to rivet her attention on
himself. "They can stop and have a meal at any old tavern; but I reckon
most of the fellows are wise to the fact that they must lose valuable
time that way. I know George has a snack stowed away in his haversack
right now. He's on to all the dodges, you know."

"Why, of course he is, because he is your cousin, Landy. But suppose one
of the poor fellows breaks down? It's a terrible long trip, and all
sorts of things might happen, don't you think?" Elsie continued.

"Not much danger of that, I guess," Landy answered. "You see every one
of them had to undergo a physical examination before Mr. Garrabrant
would allow them to enter; and they're all as fit as fiddles. Of course
we don't expect that after they've put, say twenty miles, behind them
they'll be as chipper as they are now. Their feet will drag more or
less; but that's where the grit must show."

"They expect to start all at the same time, then?" asked the girl.

"Sure, but after a mile or so they'll be likely to separate. One will
believe the pace too warm for the start, and drop back. You know they
say it's a bad thing to urge your horse early in a long race. All sorts
of ideas will prevail, so that long before the first ten miles have been
covered the six boys may be far apart, and each trudging along to suit
his ideas."

"How much you know about all these things, Landy!" said Elsie, with a
twinkle in her sunny eyes that he failed to catch; for he again
stiffened up with that superior air that boys are apt to assume when
explaining the science of baseball or some other manly sport to a girl
who has never attended a game before.

"Oh, well, we just have to, you see, if we ever expect to make good
scouts," he replied, thinking that after all Elsie was even a little
prettier than her chum, when she chose to smile on a fellow that way.
"And besides, we pick up a lot of information from our scout master, and
Elmer, who knows all about woodcraft, because he lived out on the big
plains. But it must be getting near time for the start, because they're
lining up now. Let's push ahead so we can see what happens."

Despairing of getting away while the persistent little maid continued to
seek information, Landy was now hedging, and content to carry her along
with him as he pushed through the crowd of talking, laughing spectators.

The clock in the church tower pointed to two minutes of six. And at the
first stroke of the hour they were expected to be off.

Six boys stood in line, eager and expectant. Their particular friends
called out encouraging words, and there was a perfect babel of confusion
about this time. But Mr. Garrabrant anticipating such a happening, had
spoken the last words of caution. So that there was now nothing to be
done but wait for the loud boom of the big clock in the tower.

"Good luck, Lil Artha!"

"Keep that good left foot of yours going right along, George!"

"Red, we're counting on you to win out, remember!"

"That's Ty Collins on the extreme left; just you watch his smoke!"

"Take it easy, Matty! You know the rules of the game, old fellow!"

"Jack, don't you ever come around again unless you bring that prize with

This last created a roar of laughter, as one of the scouts imitated the
voice of a girl whom everyone knew Jack Armitage was sweet on.

One minute of six!

Gradually this clamor died down as the critical minute drew closer and
closer. Many eyes were turned upon the big face of the clock on the side
of the square tower of the church.

"Ready, all!" they heard Mr. Garrabrant call out.

Then came a deathly silence. Everyone craned his or her neck, and the
figures of the six contestants who wore the khaki garments of the Boy
Scouts proved to be the hub of all glances.

Some of the boys looked grim and determined; others, like tall Lil
Artha, wore confident smiles, as though they believed in their hearts
that it would be an easy snap. But all were evidently primed to do their
level best, no matter what the final result.

Ah! There was a whirring sound up in the tower. Well did the boys know
that the big clock always emitted this seeming gasp just before the
striking of the hour. Then came a reverberating boom!

It was time.

"Hurrah!" yelled the crowd, as hats and handkerchiefs filled the air;
"they're off!"

"And may the best man win!" said the smiling scout master, looking after
the fast walking line of contestants.



"LOOK at 'em all in a bunch!" cried one of the watchers; for the crowd
had been particularly requested not to follow the six walkers or annoy
them in the start.

"But with Lil Artha at the head!" called another exultantly.

"But they're all keeping up close with him, even if Red does have to
cover five steps to three by Lil Artha. It ain't the length of a
fellow's legs that counts for everything in a hike, let me tell you!"

"Shucks! Why, Lil Artha is just playing with 'em," laughed another.

"Sure he is; when he feels like it, he'll make a ring around the rest,
and then not be pushed!"

"Oh, he will, eh? Shows how much you know about these things. Lil Artha
may be due to a little surprise before many hours go past; and it'll be
George Robbins who will do it," said Landy, proudly.

"For he has the true Philander Smith grit," sang another; at which there
was a shout from the rapidly breaking-up crowd, for this little weakness
on the part of the fat boy was pretty generally known.

Presently a turn in the road shut out the walkers. They were all going
strong when last seen, and Lil Artha even turned to wave a jaunty
farewell to those of his friends who had wished him success in the great

Elmer and the balance of the scouts gathered together to talk over
matters connected with the affair. A plan of campaign had been mapped
out with almost as much care as if a battle were impending. Indeed, all
sorts of road maps had been consulted in laying out the course over
which the six contestants were expected to pass. And a copy of the same,
as well as the rules governing their actions, had been sent over to the
Fairfield troop at the earnest request of the scout master who had
lately taken charge there.

The morning began to wear on.

Some of those who had gathered to watch the start had come without
waiting for breakfast, though the scouts, as a rule, could not be
reckoned in that class, being early risers. And as the hours went by
there was always more or less excitement around headquarters.

Several fellows had brought their wheels around. These were the chosen
inspectors whose duty it was to sally forth at certain hours when Elmer
gave the word, and pick up the several contestants along the way,
perhaps telephoning any interesting news connected with them from some
convenient inn where the registers were placed.

Mr. Garrabrant and one of the scouts had gone off in an auto long ago.
They expected to establish the chosen stations and leave the registers
in which each fellow was to enter the time of his coming and going.

At ten o'clock the first scout on a wheel was sent out. Another would
follow at twelve, and around four Elmer, as the last inspector, expected
to start. He chose to be last because a fellow who owned a motorcycle
had loaned it to him for the occasion, and thus he had a big advantage
over the others.

When noon came there was a ripple of interest. A scout had come from the
store where the telephone station happened to be located, and he
brought the first news of the big hike.

All the contestants had made the first station easily, passing within
five minutes of each other. And, strange to say, it was Lil Artha whose
time seemed to be just at the tail end of the procession. No one could
understand it, and all sorts of speculations began to pass current.

"Got a stone in his shoe and bruised his heel!" one suggested.

"More'n likely he's gone and strained a tendon again; remember he did
that two years ago when he made the home run that won the game!" another

"Rats!" called out a third, scornfully. "The sly old fox is only doing
that for fun. He's playing with the other fellows, believe me. When he
gets good and ready he'll pass the bunch, and leave 'em so far behind
they'll forget their names. Oh, I know Lil Artha! Why, he even took his
little camera along. Said he wanted to snap off a few pictures on the
way, just to pass time, when he got too lonesome."

After a hasty lunch the boys again assembled at the church, and if
anything, in greater numbers than before; for every fellow in town
seemed to be on the spot, anxious to hear what news might come dribbling

Two o'clock came, and with it a running scout from the store, where
several were stationed in order to be ready to answer the phone.

More news, and of a character to arouse great excitement. At the second
station there was a difference of just thirteen minutes between the
arrival of the leader and the last contestant. That leader was Lil
Artha; and sad to relate, the tail ender trailed the proud banner of the
Philander Smiths in the dust, for it was no other than George.

"Told you so!" burst out the fellow who had been so positive about the
tall Lil Artha playing tricks. "He's starting now; and by night time
he'll be hull down in the distance. It's sure a walkover for Lil Artha."

"Reckon you're right, and that it's all over but the shouting!" declared
another, who had been for Red Huggins, but proved rather weak-kneed in
his faith.

Strange how the different natures of boys crop out under such

"Huh, it's too early in the game to throw up the sponge like that, Ben!"
declared another fellow, derisively. "All sorts of things might happen
to Lil Artha. You never can tell about them long-legged fellows. They're
apt to double up like a hinge with cramps or something. Wait and see.
Jack's holding his own with the rest, because he was only three minutes
behind the leader!"

"Next time it'll be half an hour, because Lil Artha has unlimbered his
heavy artillery. Why, I bet you he's going along like a Weston, right
now, and just eating the miles up."

"Yes, we'll get a message from Little Falls any minute now telling how
he blew in there with his seven-league boots, and has started back!"
mocked another, who apparently did not love the lanky one any too well.

Meanwhile Elmer was trying to keep his finger on the pulse of things as
well as he could. It was while he was taking a look at the motorcycle
that had been placed at his disposal, to make sure the tank had a full
gallon and a half of oil aboard, and everything in order for a start,
that he heard the tooting of a horn up the road.

A couple of the scouts chanced to possess motorcycles. True, they had
seen considerable of service, and were often in a condition far from
useful; but then Nat Scott, whose father was at the head of the schools
in Hickory Ridge, and Toby Jones, had had more or less sport in times
past with the second-hand machines purchased with their savings.

It was now just five minutes of four, and Elmer expected to make his
start as the hour struck. He knew that he would have time enough to
overtake the leading walker long before night set in.

Somewhat to his surprise, the boys who were coming began to shout as
soon as they drew near; and he noticed that both of them seemed very
much excited.

Elmer's face paled a trifle. He wondered whether any accident could have
overtaken one of the contestants; though he could not imagine how such a
thing might be.

"Hold on, Elmer, was afraid we wouldn't get here in time to catch you!"
called Nat, as they came along, both machines popping merrily; though it
might be noticed that they were erratic in their explosions, proving
that the spark could not be doing its full duty.

Of course nothing could have tempted Elmer to hasten off now. He wanted
to hear what these scouts had to say.

And he remembered something just then. Neither Nat nor Toby had been
present to witness the start of the six who had entered for the race.
The scout master had appointed them, at their earnest request, as a
committee to go over to Fairfield and watch the start of those scouts in
the rival organization, so as to bring back a detailed account.

Perhaps Mr. Garrabrant, knowing boys as well as he did, may have
secretly suspected that it might pay to have a couple of wide-awake
fellows around Fairfield during the day to keep their eyes and ears
open. He happened to know that there had arisen a new bully in
Fairfield, who was doing all in his power to assume the reins laid down
by Matt Tubbs at the time he saw a great light and gave over his evil
ways when taking up the attractive scout movement. And it might be that
some of those turbulent Fairfield fellows would get together and hatch
up a scheme for keeping the Hickory Ridge scouts from winning the long

All this flashed into the mind of Elmer as he saw Nat and Toby speeding
toward the church and waving their hands as they shouted.

They came to a stop with something of a dramatic effect, and leaned
their motorcycles up against the wall of the church. Of course there was
a rush on the part of everyone within sight and hearing of the spot; and
already all sorts of wild theories were circulating, as they will at
such a time.

"What's happened, d'ye think?" one gasped, looking frightened; for he
had a brother in the contest, and his first fear was that something had
happened to him.

"One of the boys must have been badly hurt! Perhaps they've come for the
ambulance to fetch him home!"

"Aw, get out! What's the use talkin' that way, Jim? However could they
get knocked out that way?"

"Besides, ain't Nat and Toby been over at Fairfield all day under
orders? Must be news from that place. Perhaps Matt Tubbs has gone back
to his old ways again and plans to do our fellows up on the road!"

"Matt Tubbs is all right, and don't you forget it. Here, quit your
pushin', and give a feller a chance to get in near Elmer!"

Meanwhile Elmer had waited until the two scouts had saluted, as they had
been taught to do when meeting a superior officer; since respect to
authority is one of the cardinal principles to which the tenderfoot
subscribes when he first joins a patrol.

"Have you just come from Fairfield, Number Four?" Elmer asked, turning
first to Toby, who belonged to the Wolf Patrol, which was under his own
particular care as patrol leader.

"Yes, sir; been there all day," replied Toby, who was breathing rather
hard, as though he might have been having trouble with his machine on
the road, and had found it necessary to do considerable wrestling with
it in order to make the old tub behave.

"You were dispatched there by our scout master, in order to watch the
start of the Fairfield scouts, and be able to give a detailed report of
the same?" Elmer continued.

"Just what we were, sir; but that was not the whole extent of our
instructions," Toby went on.

"I believe you were also told to stay around during the better part of
the day, mingling with the boys of the town all you could, and learning
if any underhand doings were being engineered among the tough element
outside of the scouts?"

"That's what," replied Toby. "And just this afternoon we got on to
something by accident that we thought ought to be reported to
headquarters. Wanted to phone it, but they're repairing the wire between
here and Fairfield, and we had to try another way. So we hit up a hot
pace and came over direct on our machines; though of course we had
trouble on the road."

"You did the right thing, Number Four," remarked Elmer. "And now, tell
us what you learned. Is there any sign of treachery afoot?"

"Just that, as sure as you live!" cried Nat, unable to hold himself in
longer, when he had as much right to be heard as his mate. "They're
getting up a scheme to upset all our plans. We didn't hear a breath
about it till three, but the fellers in the game had started more'n an
hour before."

"Meaning to waylay our boys, and put them out of the running?" asked
Elmer, showing signs of anger, as well as an eagerness to be moving.

"Yes, but not exactly by what Mr. Garrabrant would call physical
violence," Toby spoke up, pushing his comrade back at the same time.
"Four fellows who don't belong to the scouts, I'm glad to say, started
out in a car, with the intention of finding whether it seemed likely a
Hickory Ridge scout was far in the lead, and if he was, then they meant
to tempt him to ride with them for a mile or more, knowing that if he
did this he would be disqualified in the race."

"And if he refused, what then?" asked Elmer, knowing what the answer
would be.

"They mean to take him along against his will!" shouted Nat,
triumphantly, before Toby could answer.



NOBODY spoke for several seconds; but those of the scouts who were in
the crowd looked at each other with gathering frowns. They saw instantly
that, according to the rules of the game, if one of the contestants
accepted a chance to ride, or even was induced against his will to be
carried over a part of the course in an auto, a wagon, or any conveyance
whatever, he would invalidate his chances.

"It's a rotten shame, that's what!" declared Larry Billings who belonged
to the Beaver Patrol, and pinned his faith on either Matty Eggleston or
Red Huggins carrying off the prize, for party faith was strong in the

"Just what you might expect from Fairfield!" cried another disgusted

"Hold on, don't say that!" said Elmer, holding up his hand. "There are
decent fellows over there, just as there are in Hickory Ridge; and in
both places you can find some mean ones. Didn't you hear Toby and Nat
say that this contemptible game didn't crop up in the ranks of the
scouts of Fairfield, but some rank outsiders, who think they are doing
their mates a good turn, when in fact it's the worst thing they could
hatch up? Even if they win the prize it will always be tarnished; and
people will say it would have come to Hickory Ridge troop only for foul

A clamor of many tongues broke loose. Everybody seemed to want to air
his or her views; and the girls were just as indignant as any of the
boys in denouncing the outrage.

"Here, you'll have to let up on that, friends, or else I'll take the
boys inside the church to talk with them," called Elmer, waving his
campaign hat with a show of authority.

"Keep still, everybody!"

"Give us a chance to think!"

"Let Elmer run it; he knows what to do!"

"Sure; and he'll do it, too, you bet. I'm sorry for them four Fairfield
bullies. They're going to be up against it good and hard, right quick

Gradually the racket ceased, and Elmer could talk again. Those who were
close enough leaned forward to listen, eager to understand just what
plan the young assistant scout master would engineer in the absence of
Mr. Garrabrant, with the idea of frustrating the clever if unscrupulous
scheme of the enemy.

It was a time that called for prompt action, as Elmer well understood.
If one of the Hickory Ridge scouts was well in the lead, doubtless those
four schemers in the automobile would, by the time night came on, start
operations. Whether the victim was Lil Artha, or any one of the others,
he could not successfully hold his own against four stout fellows. And
having once dragged him into the car, they meant to carry him many miles
along the route; dumping him out after they had "played hob," as Nat
expressed it, with all his chances.

Elmer thought fast. He had his motorcycle ready, and knew that in all
probability he could readily head off the game, unless it was rushed
through without waiting for night to fall.

The only thing that bothered him was the fact that he would be just one
against four; and in such a case he might suffer the same fate it was
intended to mete out to the leader in the race.

If only the machines of Nat and Toby could be depended on now, there was
nothing to prevent his taking the boys along; and he felt confident that
both of them were in a humor to accept at the drop of the hat. Filled
with indignation at the mean nature of the trick which those Fairfield
fellows had up their sleeve, and which they doubtless considered smart,
Toby and his mate would be only too glad of the chance to accompany the
scout leader on his mission of rescue.

"How about your gas?" he asked, turning to the boys; and it would seem
as if they understood just what the question implied, for a look of
delight took the place of the frown that had marked both faces.

"Heaps!" cried Toby, grinning.

"Filled mine just this morning, enough for seventy miles, and I haven't
gone more than thirteen!" declared Nat, also newly excited at the joyous

"Then let's get a start away from here," Elmer called, for the noise had
begun again, and it was difficult to carry on any sort of a conversation
with comfort. "Anyhow, we can drop out of town a few miles, and then
stop to consult."

"Wow! That's the ticket, Elmer!" exclaimed Toby, making a rush for his

"Bully! Bully all around! I'm on deck, Johnny on the spot. Won't we do
'em up brown though, if we only ketch 'em," cried Nat, rather forgetting
that as a scout fighting was only to be resorted to as a last thing, and
then in defense of another rather than himself.

When the crowd saw the three getting ready to mount, they went fairly
wild; and every imaginable sort of exhortation was shouted. The news had
circulated like wild-fire, and everyone knew in some sort of hazy way
that the bullies of Fairfield were aiming to break up the great hike.

"Get 'em, Elmer!"

"Oh, you Fairfield crowd, we're sorry for you!"

"Pinch 'em, Elmer! Knock the skunks into the middle of next week!"

"You can do it, Elmer, we know you can! Give the rascals the best
licking they ever had! It's been a long time coming; hand 'em the
interest that's due!"

Evidently these last remarks did not come from any fellow in khaki,
since they had been learning other things from the day they signed the
roster of the scouts. But even Elmer himself was thrilled with
indignation; it seemed so mean and contemptible in those Fairfield boys
to want to spoil the greatest hike contest that had ever been started.

The machine that had been loaned to him was in good trim; and, moreover,
Elmer knew considerable about managing a motorcycle, though he had never
as yet owned one.

He started his engine without the least difficulty, and then jumped into
the saddle with the grace of one who had long since mastered the art.
The crowd opened up before him, and Elmer sped along the road.

"Oh, you Indian, I bank on you!" called one of the enthusiastic town

"Hi! Get a move on you, Toby and Nat!"

"Give the old wrecks a poke in the slats, and make 'em be good!"

"There goes Toby! Good boy, you!"

"Now, Nat will you let that dare slip by? Hit her up, Nathan; that's the

"Whoopla! We're all off!"

In this fashion did they call out, with other remarks which space would
not admit of our printing. Nat had had a little trouble in making the
start, since his engine must have cooled down more or less; but after a
little fussing he managed to coax his battered old machine into emitting
a few rattling volleys, and then suddenly launched forward.

Passing a mile or so down the road, Elmer threw up his hand in the way
drivers have of telling that they mean to either turn aside or else
stop, and which is a warning for those who may be following to look

Then, picking out a place where they could stand the heavy machines up
against a rail fence, he came to a halt, stepped off, and awaited the
coming of the others.

"What happened?" exclaimed Toby, as he, too, reached the spot and

"Had a puncture, or spark gone back on you?" demanded Nat, when he, too,
came booming along, to make a sudden halt and straddle his balky machine
while he talked.

"Nothing happened," returned Elmer; "but before we start off we want to
make sure it isn't going to be a wild-goose chase."

"But we heard that talk, and we don't think they could have been
kidding; because you see none of 'em dreamed we were near by," Toby
declared, vehemently.

"That may be all true enough," Elmer said, "and at the same time, unless
we know just what we aim to do, we may make a bad mess of it. Now, did
you learn anything that would tell just where they expected to hold our
fellow up, in case he was in the lead?"

"Why, no, of course not, Elmer," replied Toby. "You see, that would have
to depend altogether on how far the race had gone. It might be thirty
miles away from the start, and it might be less."

"Right. And we'll have to follow along the course in order to get ahead.
Here, we can put in a few minutes to good advantage studying my map.
I've got an idea that by taking the Glenville short-cut road we can save
five miles easy. Perhaps there may be some other ways of cutting the
distance down. We looked after that when we arranged the stations."

"Look here, Elmer, don't you think it might be a good idea for us to go
right along to the first station, and see if there has been any late
news from the front?" asked Nat.

"Gee, that sounds like we were in a regular battle!" declared Toby, his
face aglow with eagerness, as he awaited the scout leader's reply.

"A fine suggestion, Nat, and we'll do it, just as soon as we've glimpsed
this map again," observed the one addressed, as he sat down by the
roadside and drew a folded package from his pocket.

Elmer had made these road maps himself from one he found in the house.
They were rather cleverly done, and showed every road, with the
distances properly marked, all the way to Little Falls. Besides, they
had the various taverns, where stations had been established, carefully
marked in red ink, so that no one could complain that he lacked

Running a finger along the route, Elmer quickly showed where in two
places they could, if they wanted, leave the main road and take
advantage of short cuts that must save them quite a number of miles.

"But after all," he said, shaking his head, as he glanced at the
motorcycles of his comrades, "it might be a case of saving at the spigot
and wasting at the bunghole."

"How's that, Elmer?" asked Toby, perplexed.

"Well, we don't know what shape these side roads may be in after that
heavy rain night before last," he answered, folding up the map.

"That's a fact!" ejaculated Toby; "and neither of us thought about that
for even a minute. Say, Nat, those roads are only dirt ones, and not
macadamized a single bit. Perhaps we wouldn't have a warm old time
jolting along over 'em, eh? I can just imagine your old omnibus going
out of commission before you made a quarter of a mile."

"Well, I admit that's so; but that would be about twice as far as your
rattlebox would carry you, Toby," the other remarked, with a sting in
his words.

But, then, when together they usually occupied much of their time, when
not engaged in waiting to make repairs, in poking fun at each other's
motorcycle; so that there was little venom to the sting. It had all been
threshed out time and time again.

"Do we tune up now, Elmer?" asked Toby, as he prepared for a flying
start, that would make his companion turn green with envy.

For answer Elmer took hold of his machine, manipulated the lever, and as
the engine started to throb, jumped into the saddle, much to the envy of
both the others, who could never depend on doing anything as they

However, they managed to get moving, though Elmer had to slow up at the
next bend in order to let them come along. He believed he would need
the assistance these two stout scouts were capable of affording; and but
for that must have been tempted to put on speed and leave them far in
the lurch to wrestle with their various troubles as best they might.

So they sped along. Now and then something would happen to one of the
old machines and cause a delay. Thanks to the presence of Elmer, who
knew more about machinery than either of the others, even though they
had owned motorcycles for years, these troubles were adjusted in an
unusually short time. Had it been otherwise, Elmer must have felt
compelled to abandon his running mates, since minutes were valuable to
him just then.

They presently came in sight of a road house, which Elmer understood was
the first on the list of stations. He also remembered that one of the
scouts had been detailed to remain at this place, to use the phone as a
sort of relay station, and transmit any message from farther up the

"We'll hold up here a little while, boys," he remarked, as he shut off
power and prepared to bring his machine to a full stop. "Perhaps the
news from up the road may be worth listening to. Pull in and jump off.
There's Hen Condit in the doorway right now, beckoning to us."



"GREAT news, fellows!" called Hen Condit, as he gave the salute on
seeing that the assistant scout master was with the party on

"What's that you say, Hen?" shouted Toby, making a flying jump from his
saddle that caused him to land plump on hands and knees before the road

"Here, hold on, what d'ye think you're doing, Toby Jones?" called Nat,
who was showing a little more deliberation in dismounting. "Guess you're
dreaming about aeroplanes and all such tomfoolery. Think you can fly,
eh? Well, grow a pair of real wings first!"

Toby's pet hobby lay in the line of aeronautics. He was forever studying
up the mysteries of bird motion, and had the records of all the leading
aeroplane drivers at his finger tips, so that he could tell instantly
what was the highest point as yet reached by a bird-man; the fastest
flight made singly and with a passenger; the longest distance traversed
without alighting, and lots of other similar facts in which the average
boy might not be greatly interested.

He had several times made a gallant attempt to fly, but thus far the
machines he had constructed lacked some essential quality. At any rate
Toby had suffered pretty much as did the Darius Green of whom we older
fellows used to read in our earlier days; and perhaps can still
remember declaiming the story of a vaulting ambition that took a tumble
from the old barn roof.

Elmer gained the doorway where Hen Condit, one of the later recruits in
the Hickory Ridge troop, awaited him. Hen had only received his new
uniform on the preceding day, and hence he felt as proud as a peacock.
His chest had never before been known to have anything like the fine
appearance that it now presented. And only that morning his doting
father had remarked that joining the scouts had done more for the Condit
son and heir than years of pleading and scolding had effected, in so far
as making him stand up, and throw his shoulders back.

"Now, what's the news, Number Eight?" asked Elmer; for the boy in the
doorway belonged to the Wolf Patrol, though a real tenderfoot, in that
he had only qualified for the lowest rung in the ladder by learning how
to tie a number of knots, learning what the requirements of a scout
consist of, and similar things.

"I just had news from up the road, sir," said Hen, eagerly.

"Good news, or bad?" asked Elmer, just as if his eyes did not tell him

"Fine and dandy, sir," was the reply.

"Of course connected with the advance member of our immortal six?" Elmer

"Sure." Hen forgot to add the term of respect now, for he was burning
with impatience to disclose his knowledge.

"Where from?" asked the scout leader.

"Rockledge, which is, I find, about thirty-two miles from Hickory Ridge
by the route marked out," answered Hen.

"That's right," muttered Toby, who had the map in his mind pretty
accurately, because he and Nat had often scoured the country when their
machines were newer and acted more decently.

"What was the report, Number Eight?" Elmer asked.

"One of our boys had just registered there. He was nearly half an hour
ahead of the next contestant; though that one appeared to be Felix
Wagner, the smart second baseman of the Fairfield nine!"

Elmer looked sober. He realized that the conditions seemed to be
peculiarly fitted for the carrying out of the scheme which those four
Fairfield plotters had arranged, and started up the road some time
before to execute, if it was necessary, in order to help their man win.

A Hickory Ridge scout half an hour ahead of the fleetest of the rival
organization! That would mean a Fairfield victory, providing the present
leader could in some way be disqualified.

"Who was the first man?" he asked, feeling pretty confident as to what
the answer would be.

"Lil Artha! He's doing the Hickory Ridge troop proud this day. We'll
forgive a heap in the way of practical jokes if he only comes in away
ahead of Felix," Hen observed, with the natural pride boys always take
in their home-town doings.

"Hurrah for Lil Artha! Didn't I always say he would show them a clean
pair of heels? Oh, he's a wonder at hiking and running! A three-bagger
for most fellows lets Lil Artha score the circuit. Bully boy, Artha!
Yes, we'll forgive everything if only he keeps this up and puts the
Injun sign on Fairfield."

Somehow or other it seemed as though most of their concern lay in the
possibility of the rival organization winning the laurels. No matter
which of the six home scouts came in ahead, if only he could have the
laugh on Fairfield!

"Half an hour ahead, you said, Number Eight?" Elmer pursued, as he
turned the matter over in his mind and began to figure as to just how
they should act in order to play the game right.

"That's what I got over the wire. If you want, you can call up Rockledge
now, and perhaps they'll be able to give more information," Hen Condit

"No need, I reckon. What we want to do now is to get busy," said Elmer.

His eye naturally turned toward the two old machines that were apt to
prove so unreliable. And no doubt Elmer was compelled to once more
debate within his mind whether it would be best for him to leave Nat and
Toby far in the lurch, depending on his single arm to protect Lil Artha
against the vandals who would ruin the great hike; or by suiting his
pace to their progress, accidents and all, and have comrades to depend
on in an emergency.

He quickly made up his mind to stick to them, for a while at least. If
things grew to be too bad, he could say good-by and go whirling off at
the rate of forty miles an hour.

Elmer was convinced that the fellows in the Fairfield car would hardly
be likely to start doing things until darkness came. They would not want
Lil Artha to see their faces, so that he could recognize them and later
on accuse them when openly denouncing the miserable game.

"Send on the news to headquarters, Number Eight," he said, as he
prepared to mount again; a movement that sent both Toby and Nat hurrying
toward their machines, anxious to coax them into a fresh start.

"Shall I tell them that you were along, sir?" asked Hen, making the

"Why, of course," said Elmer; "because they'll be anxious; you see,
there's a nasty plot afoot to kidnap Lil Artha, and make him forfeit his
place in the race, which would go to the next in line."

"And that happens to be Felix Wagner! Great governor! Now I know why you
fellows are hitting up the pace! Give 'em one for me, Toby, won't you?"
Hen bellowed after the three scouts; but they must have gone beyond
earshot, for at least no one seemed to pay the slightest attention to
his request.

It had been Elmer's first intention to make this trip on his wheel, like
the other inspectors, even though his still sore foot would have
rendered this a rather painful undertaking. Perhaps it was the knowledge
of his disability that had caused the owner of the motorcycle to offer
it to Elmer. At any rate the patrol leader was very glad to have it,
since there was little labor needed in order to cover all the ground

Of course there was little chance for the trio of scouts to exchange
words while they were spinning along on their motorcycles. The road was
not all that could be desired, the heavy rain of the recent storm had
washed it badly in places, so that they had to keep a sharp lookout for

Possibly there is nothing more exasperating to anyone riding a
motorcycle than to find that he is in a deep rut. For a brief time he
may be able to keep his proper balance; but presently he leans a trifle
too much one way, the heavy machine strikes the side of the rut, and as
a consequence there is a sudden dismounting; so that he feels himself
lucky if he alights anywhere but on his head.

Knowing this, and feeling that the wabbly machines of his comrades were
doubly dangerous under such conditions, Elmer always slowed down when he
struck a poor streak of road.

Even then their advance was not free from thrills. Toby was the first to
take a little header, because of thinking he could push through a rut
that somehow seemed to have drawn him as with a magnet, even when he was
fully determined that he would give it a wide berth.

He came down with quite a hard bang; and Nat, hearing the noise, and
being just a little in advance, tried to twist his head around in order
to discover what had happened to his companion in misfortune, when he,
too, turned a complete somersault and landed in the midst of a big clump
of thorny bushes that grew alongside the thoroughfare.

Of course, Elmer immediately stopped, and leaving his motorcycle, ran
back to see whether either of them could be seriously hurt. First of all
he laid hold on Nat, who was kicking his legs vigorously in the air, and
bleating like a calf. After a little pulling, and working the prisoner
of the bush to and fro, he managed to set him free.

"No bones broken, I hope, Nat?" asked Elmer, as the other started to
dance up and down, rubbing his elbows, his shins, and every part of his
anatomy he could possibly reach.

"Oh, I guess not, Elmer; but ain't I just a sight though?" groaned the
other. "My face feels like it was marked with scratches like a map; and
here's a big tear in my trousers. Got a safety pin, Elmer? Oh, dear,
won't I look terrible!"

"Don't worry over it so much, Nat. Be a scout and show your grit. Those
are only little scratches and will be gone in a few days. They're
bleeding some now, of course, and feel bad. Let me wash them with some
water from this brook, to take any poison out. How is it with you,
Toby?" and Elmer turned upon the other unfortunate who came limping
along just then, trundling his heavy motorcycle.

"Nothing much, I reckon, Elmer; got a lump about as big as a pigeon's
egg on top of my coco; but this ain't the first time by a long shot.
I'll be satisfied if only the upset didn't put my old ice wagon here out
of commission." And Toby bent over to test the sparking of his machine
after dropping the rest to the road.

It started off at a rattling pace, which fact seemed to tickle the owner
very much indeed.

"Say, blest if I don't think that tumble must have just knocked it back
into its old shape again!" he exclaimed in glee. "Haven't heard her take
the spark like that for a year and more. Hoopla! Nat, give yours a try.
Hope the same good luck fell your way."

However, such was not the case. Indeed, Nat's machine utterly balked,
and refused to do anything. Even after Elmer had spent as much as
fifteen minutes puttering over it he could not make it behave.

"I'll give it just one more try, Nat," he declared finally, "and then if
it won't work, I'm afraid Toby and myself will have to leave you here.
We've just _got_ to get along now, or it'll all be too late."

"That's right, Elmer," declared the scout, manfully. "I'm not the one to
kick on account of being sacrificed for the good of the troop. Lil Artha
must be protected against these Fairfield bullies. And if I have to hang
out here till after dark, why I'll just feel that I'm doing my little
part of the work. But I hope you make it this time, Elmer, because I'd
rather be along with you, and have an active share in the rush."

Once more did Elmer bend down over the motorcycle as it leaned against a
tree. Two minutes later there suddenly broke forth a rattle of sharp
reports and the rear wheel flew around at a dizzy pace.

"Good, good! You did it, Elmer! She's in the running again; and I won't
have to camp out here on the road till some wagon comes along to pick me
up." And filled with newborn pleasure, Nat proceeded to execute a
hornpipe right then and there.

"Well, get along with you both, then; I'll overtake you in about three
shakes of a lamb's tail," laughed Elmer, as he stepped off along the
road to where he had left his motorcycle.

Ten seconds later the others, just about to start out, heard him calling

"He says, hurry, Nat," cried Toby, for a little bend in the road hid
their chum from them; and not waiting to test their machines any further
they were off.

They found Elmer running around, with his head bent low, as though he
might be interested in the make of the roadbed.

"What is it, Elmer?" asked Toby, coming to a stop.

"My motorcycle has gone!" was the startling reply the scout leader



TOBY and Nat stared, first at Elmer, and then at each other. Plainly
they could not understand what he meant by these strange words.

"Er--d'ye mean you forget just where you left it, Elmer?" asked Toby.

"I tell you it's gone, vanished completely, disappeared!" said the scout
leader, with a show of anger in his usually steady voice.

"Great goodness, Nat, he means somebody's swiped it!" ejaculated Toby,
his mouth opening in his astonishment.

Nat looked all around him, and then, not seeing a single trace of the
fine motorcycle, he began "barking," as Toby called it, after his own
peculiar way.

"Gee, whiz, now what d'ye think of that for a hummer! The old story over
again of the traveler on the highway falling among thieves. My stars,
Elmer, now who under the sun do you think would be so mean as to run off
with your machine!"

"I don't know--yet; but I'm going to find out," replied Elmer, setting
his teeth in a way he had when greatly aroused.

They saw him bend down again, and start to examine the ground near a
tree, against which he evidently had leaned the motorcycle at the time
he hurried to the rescue of his comrades in distress.

"Get next to him, would you, Toby?" remarked Nat, as he watched the
mysterious actions of the one who had been robbed.

"Why, sure, I can understand what he's doing easy enough," the other

"Then for goodness' sake put me wise, won't you please?" cried Nat.

"He's examining the tracks left by the chap who got away with his
machine while he was working with your old ice wagon!" observed Toby,

"Well, now, I guess that's just what he is doing, sure as you're born.
And don't I just hope he gets on to him! How is it, Elmer?" as the scout
leader started to move away.

Toby and Nat followed as close to his heels as they could, considering
that he immediately moved into the woods; and they were compelled to
trundle their heavy machines along, no easy task under the best of

"He went this way, all right. I only hope he won't think to smash the
thing when he finds we're after him," said Elmer over his shoulder.

He was keeping his head bent low, and following the trail with apparent
readiness. The lessons he had learned when on that ranch in the Canadian
Northwest were undoubtedly coming in "pat" just now; though really the
trail was so very plain that even a novice might have followed it.

"Who d'ye thing could have done it, Toby?" asked Nat, as he pushed his
motorcycle through the scrub with a desperate intention not to be left

"Well, Elmer hasn't said a thing yet; but all the same I can give a
pretty good guess," returned the other.

"Go on and do it, then, for I'm all in the dark and up a stump. Put me
wise, Toby."

"Huh, reckon you forget mighty soon!" grunted the other, who was
struggling manfully to rush his heavy wheel along and did not have any
spare breath, to tell the truth.

"Oh, slush, now I'm on!" cried Toby. "You mean them Fairfield chaps that
came out here to break up Lil Artha's great winning streak?"

"Sure!" Toby grunted again, beginning to conserve his breath when

"They flagged us, and saw a chance to put us on the blink!" exclaimed
Nat who, like Lil Artha, was more or less addicted to present-day slang,
though otherwise he was known to be a clean fellow, with no serious

"That's it!" snapped Toby, gritting his teeth as though even the thought
made him furious.

"It's a punk deal, that's what," Nat went on. "They just believe that if
Elmer's out of the running the game is in their hands. But he can have
my machine, if he wants to go ahead. If anybody can make it behave,
Elmer can."

"Or mine either," declared Toby.

Now Elmer, of course, heard all this talk, even though he seemed to be
devoting himself wholly to the business in hand. And at this juncture he
beckoned to his comrades.

"He wants us to pick up, and get even with him," declared Toby.

"Sure thing. Guess Elmer is going to take us at our word, and borrow a
mount," observed Nat, cheerfully.

Accordingly they put on an extra spurt, and managed to gain enough
ground so as to come alongside.

"I heard what you were saying, boys," Elmer immediately remarked, as
soon as he saw that they were up with him; "but you're away off in your
calculations. It isn't one of those Fairfield fellows at all who's
jumped my claim with that borrowed motorcycle!"

"W--w--what's that?" gasped Toby.

"I said that it wasn't a Fairfield fellow who ran off with my machine,"
repeated Elmer, more positively than before.

"Well, you make me feel like thirty cents," observed Nat; "now, what
under the sun would one of _our_ boys want with a motorcycle when, if he
rides on it, for even a minute, he's disqualified in the race?"

"It wasn't one of our scouts either," said Elmer.

"Then for goodness' sake tell us who it could be, Elmer!" cried Toby.

"I haven't even glimpsed him once yet, though he's only a little way
ahead of us right now," the scout leader said; "but judging from the
fact that his shoes are all broken out, I'm almost dead sure he's some
Wandering Willie."

"He means a hobo, a common tramp!" exclaimed Toby in astonishment.

"Tell me about that, will you!" cried Nat. "Just to think of a four
flusher like that making off with Elmer's motorcycle, when he needs it
the worst kind to block that nasty little game of the envious Fairfield
dubs! Oh, it's a cruel world!"

"But we're goin' to get it back, don't you forget that!" Toby

"You never spoke truer words, Toby," laughed Elmer; though there was
little of mirth in the sound; for the boy was tremendously aroused by
this new calamity that threatened to upset all his calculations.

"Hurry, hurry! I can go a bit faster, now that I know what's on!"
declared Toby, although his manner of gasping belied his words.

"Oh, there he is right now! Look, look, Elmer!" cried Nat.

All of them caught a glimpse of some moving object that was pushing at
top speed through the scrub ahead. Undoubtedly it was the party who had
run away with Elmer's motorcycle. They had gained on him constantly, and
were now surely overtaking the rascal.

"We're just bound to get him, fellows!" said Toby.

"That's so, Toby; it looks good to me," remarked Nat, as he strained
every muscle to keep alongside the others.

Elmer, being free to make a sprint, since he had no machine to trundle
along, suddenly left his chums in the lurch. They saw him leaping
through the low underbrush as might a deer.

"Hurrah! He'll get him!" shouted Toby.

"Twenty-three for yours, Mr. Wandering Willie!" added Nat.

"Don't I wish Elmer would just hold him till we come up," added the
other, with a threat in his manner that hardly became a scout; but then
Toby had been a boy long before this scout movement was dreamed of, and
the natural instinct is very hard to repress.

"Hey, do we drop our wheels, and make a spurt, so as to be in at the
finish?" demanded Nat.

"You can, if you want to," replied his mate; "but something tells me a
machine may come in handy yet, even if it is an old huckleberry
makeshift like mine."

"Gee, yes! I didn't think of that," Nat muttered, still clinging to his
motorcycle. "The hobo might strike the road again, you mean?"

"Yep, that's what, Nat."

"And go skeetering off on Elmer's wheel?"

"Just what I meant," replied Toby. "He's been making a sorter curve all
along, like he wanted to strike the road; I noticed that, Nat."

"So did I. Don't like the job of pushing that machine through the scrub
any too much, I reckon," Nat remarked, panting from his own exertions.

"And say, do you blame him?" Toby asked.

"Listen!" and Nat cocked his head as though he could hear better in that

"What was it? Did you catch a shout for help? Perhaps Elmer's caught up
with him, Nat!"

"I thought I heard somebody call out, or laugh," Nat began, when he was
interrupted by a shout.

"Toby--Nat, hurry along with your wheels!"

"That's Elmer!" gasped Toby, as he tried to add a little more speed to
his forward progress.

"Perhaps he's got him under his knee, and is holding him for us,"
suggested Nat.

"That's silly," returned the other, immediately. "It won't hold water,
Nat. Whatever would he tell us to bring our machines, if he had the
hobo? Tell you what, I reckon he's made off along the road with Elmer's
motorcycle, that's a fact!"

"And he wants one of ours to chase him with! Oh, I wish I could fly
right now, so's to hurry!" Nat cried.

"A fine mess _you'd_ make of it, if even a fellow like me, that's up to
snuff, don't seem able to get it down pat," sneered Toby.

"I see Elmer, and he's waving his hand to us like fun!" exclaimed Nat,
without appearing to take any notice of the slur cast upon his abilities
in the line of aviation.

Elmer came bounding toward them just then, as though meaning to lend all
the assistance in his power toward getting the machine he fancied, if
there was any choice in the matter, to the road near by.

He clutched hold of Toby's motorcycle, possibly believing that its
recent regeneration might prove fairly lasting.

So they came upon the edge of the road again, after making all that half
circle through the woods and scrub.

Toby's first act was to stretch his neck, and stare along the road. A
moving object caught his eye, which he had no difficulty in making out
to be a motorcycle, upon which a ragged specimen of a tramp was seated,
and which he was working at a great rate _with his feet on the pedals_!

"He don't know beans about how to run the engine!" Toby exclaimed, with
sudden delight, as he saw this plain fact.

The road just there was as straight as a rule, for at least a couple of
miles; and the fellow had not gotten more than a quarter of a mile away.

He happened to turn his head to look back just then, while the machine
"yawed" at an alarming rate, threatening to dispose of the tramp in the
bushes. To the indignation of Toby and Nat, the latter having also
managed to reach the spot by this time, the Wandering Willie jauntily
waved a hand toward them, as though bidding them a fond adieu.

There was a sudden sputter, and a rattling volley. Then away sped Elmer,
mounted on Toby's old machine, which seemed about to redeem itself in
this momentous crisis.

"Wow! Watch his smoke, will you!" shrieked Nat.

"Now will you be good, Mr. Hobo!" cried Toby; hoping in his heart that
the pursuing machine might not take a notion to perform any of its
frequent tricks and betray its new master.

The man on the stolen wheel must have heard that rattle as of artillery
behind him, for Elmer never bothered using the hush pedal, such was his
desire to speed up and overtake the thief who was running off with his

They saw him look back over his shoulder as if in sudden alarm. Then his
legs began to work faster than they could possibly have done in ten
years, as he endeavored to pedal his stolen property at a rate of speed
that would take him beyond reach of the relentless pursuer. But like a
meteor shooting across the sky, Elmer bore down on the hobo motorcycle



"LOOK at the silly guy, will you! Thinks he can run away from a
forty-mile-an-hour engine! I like his nerve, now!" exclaimed Nat.

"But Elmer's eating up the distance like fun!" cried Toby, dancing up
and down in his great excitement. "Think of my old machine behaving so
decent, would you! Why, she runs as smooth as grease--better than when
she was new! There! He's closing in on him now like hot cakes. Watch
what happens, Nat!"

They stood there in the road, with their eyes glued on the little comedy
that was happening not a great distance away.

The tramp knew from the loudness of those rapid-fire explosions that the
speeding motorcycle must be rapidly overhauling him. No need to turn his
head any longer to size up the situation, which in his mind was becoming

"He's going to skip out!" shrieked Nat, suddenly.

"Sure thing!" echoed Toby. "Look at him dragging his big trilbies along
the road to slow up. Hope he don't run slap into a tree though, and bust
things higher'n a kite!"

"There he goes! Hoopla!" shouted Nat.

They saw the tattered thief suddenly bring the motorcycle to a stop, or
at least what looked like it from a distance. Then he fell over on the
ground, and rolled into the bushes, as if only too anxious to get out
of the reach of the owner, before he could lay hands on him.

Elmer shut off power and applied the brake, for he quickly came to a
stop close by the spot where his machine lay.

"Chase after him, Elmer! Get him!" yelled Nat, as he and his comrade
started to hasten along the road, Nat apparently forgetting that he
might as well make use of his machine, if so be it would answer his

But it looked as though wise Elmer saw no reason why he should get mixed
up with a rough hobo, simply to satisfy his desire for revenge. He
seemed to be bending over the motorcycle, as though investigating the
extent of damages it might have sustained in being so hastily dropped on
the hard road.

"Here, what's the reason we can't get along in style?" demanded Toby.
"Hit up your old ice wagon, and I'll hitch on behind that far."

"Sure thing!" remarked Nat, as if the idea had never once occurred to
him, he was so busy thinking of how he would like to lay hands on the

After several attempts the machine decided to be good; and as it
started, Toby managed to hang on in some fashion, until presently they
arrived on the scene.

Elmer had raised his motorcycle and started the engine going, after
dropping the rest at the rear, so that the back wheel could spin in the

"Seems to work all right!" declared Toby.

"Glad to say there's been no damage done, except a dent in the gas tank,
and that can be easily pounded out later on," Elmer declared, as he
heaved a sigh of relief.

"Are we going to let that hobo get off so easy; or do we chase after
him?" asked Nat, glaring around at the neighboring woods, in the depths
of which no doubt the object of his anger was snugly ensconced, watching
to see what they would do.

"No use trying to get hold of him," remarked Elmer. "Forget it, and
let's bump along the road. He just saw a chance to steal something that
he really had no use for, and couldn't hold back. It's all right now,
and no damage done. Get ready to start, fellows!"

In another minute they were speeding away, possibly much to the relief
of the concealed tramp, who had begun to fear that he had stirred up a
hornet's nest, and was likely to get stung pretty badly.

Ten minutes later, with all three machines humming merrily, they flitted
past a roadside tavern.

"See that?" called Elmer over his shoulder to Toby, who was next in

"The road house, d'ye mean?" answered the other.

"Second signing station, fourteen miles, about, from Hickory Ridge,"
Elmer said.

"But you didn't make any move to stop," remarked Toby.

"No need," came the reply. "We wouldn't be apt to pick up any later news
than what Hen Condit gave us. And we want to make all the time we can.
Been enough delay already."

"But perhaps there won't be any more, from my machine anyhow, Elmer.
She's going like a greased pig. That shake-up must have been just what
the old buster needed." Toby bawled, knowing to what the other referred
when he mentioned hold-ups.

Nat was trailing along in the rear, but coming apparently with no sign
of another balk; although doubtless he lived in perpetual fear of
something new springing a surprise on him. A motorcycle, once it gets
to acting queer, can establish a reputation for opening up new avenues
of trouble second to none.

"Hey, look ahead!" called Toby, presently, after they had covered
another long distance of quite a number of miles.

Elmer, upon doing so, discovered that a couple of fellows occupied the
middle of the road, and seemed to act as though they meant to stay
there, no matter what came along.

As the motorcycle squad rushed toward them, Elmer had no great
difficulty in recognizing Landy's cousin, George Robbins, and one of the
Fairfield crowd, Angus McDowd.

They had their arms locked, and seemed on the best of terms with the
world in general, though their steps had a tottery look, as Nat
expressed it.

Finding themselves left far in the rear, these two had apparently made
up their minds not to bother about who won the great hike; but to stick
to each other, and take things as easy as they could.

Hearing the sputtering of the several machines, they looked back and
waved their hands, evidently recognizing Elmer in the lead. Then they
stepped to one side of the road so as to let the procession pass.

Elmer threw out his hand so as to warn Toby to slow up, as he meant to
do that same, and did not wish to take the chances of being run down.

"How far are we from home?" shouted both the walkers, as Elmer came

"About twenty miles," he replied, for he had anticipated such a
question, and prepared himself to meet it promptly.

"Is that all?" called Angus McDowd, who looked pretty much "all in."

"What's the news; who's ahead, Elmer?" called George, as the motorcycle

"Lil Artha at last accounts, by a long lead!"

"Bully for Lil Artha!" both trampers shouted; for Angus was so tired
himself that he really cared very little who won.

"How far ahead of us, hey?" shouted George.

"Only about thirteen miles, George," answered Toby as he flitted past
with a fresh start.

"Oh, won't poor old Landy feel sore when he hears how the hope of the
Philander Smiths has gone aglimmering!" mocked Nat, as he, too, went by.

George made a quick motion with his hand as though throwing something at
his tormentor; then his care-free laugh floated after them.

About three miles farther along the road they discovered another sight.

"What's going on there?" shouted Toby, who again hung rather dangerously
close in the rear of the leader, because he wanted a chance to exchange
remarks from time to time.

"Looks like a breakdown, and that's a fact," Elmer replied.

"That's right," called Toby immediately. "It's Tom Cropsey, and he's
trying to put a plug in his tire. He's got a puncture, and that ended
his run as inspector."

The boy looked up as they drew near, and shook his head even as he

"All in, I reckon, Elmer, can't seem to fix her!" he called, as the
scout leader flashed past.

Possibly he would have been glad if they had stopped in order to assist
him repair the obstinate break; but Elmer had other fish to fry just
then, and time was too valuable to waste in gaining a recruit who could
never keep up with them for even half a mile.

So they presently saw the last of poor Tom, marooned so far away from
home, and with night coming on apace.

Elmer knew that they might expect to overtake some of the others at any
minute now, and every time he turned a bend he looked closely to see if
there were not figures on the road ahead.

Nor was he mistaken.

A few more miles, and he saw a lone pedestrian manfully struggling
onward, with a stout stick, which he had stopped to cut, assisting him.
At first Elmer thought it was an old man hobbling along, until coming up
on the party, the other wheeled.

"Hello, Jack, old fellow! making a game push for it, eh?" called Elmer,
who had slowed down considerably, so as to give the contestant a cheery
word to encourage him in persisting.

"Wow, but I guess I'm pretty near the limit, Elmer," answered the other,
who turned out to be Jack Armitage. "How far have I come since morning,

"About twenty-four miles," answered Elmer, as he passed.

"Gee, is that all? Thought it was near fifty!" lamented the scout, as he
waved his cane at both Toby and Nat as they went by and doubtless cast
an envious look at the machines that were carrying them over the ground
so easily, while he was completely done up, and ready to cry quits.

"Next!" shouted Nat, who was really enjoying this thing of overhauling
the various used-up walkers more than anything that had come his way for
a long time; it is always so nice to spin along on a wheel, or a
motorcycle, or in a car, and _pity_ the poor fellows who have to walk!

"Well, there he is, right beyond," said Toby over his shoulder.

"Who under the sun is it?" demanded the rider in the rear, whose view
was somewhat obstructed by his companions.

"Blest if I know; looks a little like our Ty Collins!" Toby shot back.

"It is Ty; anybody ought to recognize that old red sweater of his,"
Elmer announced; "and he's got a fine stone bruise on his foot, if that
limp means anything!"

The contestant stepped out of the road as they drew near. He stiffened
up to salute, game to the last, and chasing away the look of pain that
had been on his boyish face.

One of his shoes was held in his hand, and he had been walking along in
this way, determined not to give up until the last gasp.

"Better throw up the sponge, Ty," called Elmer, who had the authority to
order anyone out of the race who in his judgment was unfit to continue

Ty's face told that he welcomed this command, as it released him from
all further responsibility, and he could retire with good grace.

"What'd I better do, Elmer?" he called out.

"Station four just ahead; stay there to-night. Some one come for you in
morning!" the scout leader shouted back.

"All right, I will. Hello! Toby, and you ditto, Nat. Who's winning? That
fast Fairfield fellow, Wagner, passed me a long time ago, going strong."

"Oh, Lil Artha is miles ahead of him!" replied Nat.

"Hurrah for the pride of Hickory Ridge troop! Bully for Lil Artha!" they
heard Jack whoop as they sped onward.

Thus one by one they were fast picking up the contestants who were
spread out along the road to Little Falls, covering many miles from the
leader to the fellow far in the rear, the Hope of the Philander Smiths.

"There's the other bicycle boy, Phil Dale!" shouted Toby a little later,
after they had passed the tavern which had been selected as the fourth

"And he's near played out, too. Look at him wabble, would you! Wow, he
can't do many more miles at that rate!" Nat yelled.

Elmer gave a salute to warn the rider they were coming and wanted half
the road. As he swept past Phil called out something, but Elmer failed
to catch what he said, the others also went whooping by, no one having
thought to slow down.

And so both inspectors as well as a number of the played-out contestants
had been overhauled. They were now fast coming to the point where a
crisis would be waiting for them. Twenty-seven miles from Hickory Ridge
and evening close at hand, when the miserable plot of the Fairfield
schemers could be put into play!



A SUDDEN howl arose from Nat in the rear.

Both Elmer and Toby knew what it meant. The tricky wheel of Nat had
given signs of balking again, and they must make a stop in order to coax
it to be good. Elmer seemed to have a "wheedling" way about him, both
the others had confessed, when it came to patching up the peace with a
mutinous motor. He seemed just naturally to know how to go about
smoothing out difficulties in a way that told of his being a born
mechanic, although as yet he had found but few chances to show his

So Elmer, though not without considerable reluctance, threw up his hand
as a signal that he meant to stop. Perhaps he might even have thought of
leaving Nat, and taking only Toby with him; but after the other had
stuck it out so valiantly all this while, it hardly seemed fair to
abandon him on such a slight pretext.

So they were soon busy over the refractory motor, Elmer looking into the
trouble with his customary skill.

"How many other fellows are there ahead of us?" asked Nat, who was
hovering over the one who worked, eager to lend a hand if called upon.

"Quite a bunch," replied Toby. "Let's see, there ought to be Red, Matty,
Lil Artha on our side, and from what we know about the Fairfield crowd
we've still got to reckon with Henry Cobb and Felix Wagner."

"Just leave out Cobb, boys," remarked Elmer, as he worked rapidly.

"Why?" demanded Toby.

"Oh, he's all in, for a fact!" laughed the other.

"But say, we didn't pass Cobb; unless he was lying in the bushes along
the side of the road. How d'ye know he's given up the fight, Elmer?"
questioned Toby, bent on finding out.

"I saw him sitting in that number four station, with one of his feet on
a chair, and being bound up," replied the scout leader.

"Shucks, you don't say so!" exclaimed Nat. "Whatever in the wide world
do you think can have happened to him?"

"Perhaps he's been bit by a mad dog!" suggested Toby.

"Might a' been a rattlesnake; I've heard tell about lots of the critters
being found up this way. One man used to hunt 'em just for the skins and
the rattlesnake oil he got. Some people say it's mighty fine for
rheumatism; and athletes use it a heap. Say, Elmer, what d'ye think?"
Nat went on.

"Oh, nothing like all that stuff," chuckled the other. "Henry has just
sprained his ankle, I reckon, and is getting it bound up. That
eliminates all the Fairfield contestants but one--Felix Wagner."

"And him the most dangerous of the bunch!" muttered Toby.

"How does it come on, Elmer; think you can get it fixed? Gee, I hope so,
because I'd sure hate to drop out now!" said Nat.

"It's going to be all right; just give me three minutes more, and I'll
have it in shape for a long run," came the reply.

"Oh, that sounds good to me!" declared Nat; "because I do want to be in
at the finish"; and secretly behind Elmer's back he doubled up his fist,
showed it to Toby and the two conspirators grinned and nodded, as though
they had their minds fully made up as to what they meant to do if the
chance opened.

Elmer knew what he was saying when he made that promise. By the time the
three minutes were up he handed the motorcycle over to its owner.

"There you are, Nat; give the engine a tryout," he said.

And as the other did so, with the result that the explosions started off
with a rush such as Nat had not been acquainted with of late, he gave a

"Runs bully, Elmer, you're just a wiz, when it comes to tinkering with
things. I bet you the old hippo runs like a scared dog now. Here goes,

He jumped for the saddle, almost missed it, and managing to climb on,
went along the road furiously, though quickly slackening his speed as
Elmer called out.

"How is it?" asked the latter, as he overtook Nat.

"Just oh be joyful, that's what!" answered Nat, who seemed tickled at
the way his rackety machine was now behaving. "Why, she answers to the
least touch, and is as spry as a young colt. I'm almost afraid she'll
take a sudden notion to run away with me yet, Elmer."

"There's Red, boys! He's still hitting up the pace; but it's only grit
that carries him on now!" observed Elmer.

Red had always been known as the possessor of a stubborn will. Although
he was dragging his feet after him when first the three on motorcycles
discovered him, no sooner did he know of their coming than he braced up
wonderfully and pretended to be as fresh as in the start.

Again were a few sentences exchanged as they drew past. But Red did not
deign to ask how far he was from home. He gave a shout upon hearing that
the long-legged Hickory Ridge scout was said to be well in the lead; as
though his one thought was to have his troop win out.

"Ambulance be along later, Red!" shouted Nat, who could not resist the
chance to get in another little dig; but Red put his hands up to his
mouth to serve as a megaphone as he yelled after them:

"Not for me; I'm able to walk back home again, if I want to,

Now they kept a lookout for Matty, who could not be far beyond. They
discovered him bending down at a running stream where he had evidently
been slaking his thirst, and perhaps bathing his tired feet, for his
shoes were both off.

Again did Elmer give the "high sign," and the others took heed. The
three riders jumped to the ground. That clear water looked mighty
enticing; and, besides, here was the last fellow whom they might expect
to overtake, save Felix and Lil Artha; and a wide gap was believed to
exist between them.

"Come on in, fellows, the water's fine," laughed Matty, whose face
looked as if he had dipped it partly in the creek, for the dust was
washed in streaks; but his smile was just as genial as ever.

The trio soon slaked their thirst.

"Where are we at?" demanded the leader of the Beaver Patrol, who had
made a pretty good bid for the prize, considering that he was not gifted
with such long legs as the two fellows ahead.

"I think about twenty-nine miles out," Elmer returned.

"And with just two fellows ahead; but I've got a poor chance to overhaul
'em, though I don't give up yet awhile. That's all, ain't it, Elmer,
Lil Artha and that muscular Dutchman, Felix Wagner?"

"That's all," nodded Elmer. "Glad to find you so filled with pluck,
Matty; though it looks as if Lil Artha would have to carry the colors of
Hickory Ridge troop to the scout master of Little Falls."

"How does the game stand; is Felix overhauling our chum?" asked the
other, as he started to put on his shoes, making a wry face while doing
so, as if his feet might be more or less sore.

"Not that we know of; for at last accounts Lil Artha had a lead of some
three miles, and was going strong," Elmer replied.

"Then what in the mischief do you fellows look so serious about, that's
what I want to know?" demanded Matty, whose sharp eyes had read
something in their manner that told him everything was not as serene as
outward conditions would seem to imply.

"Listen, then, and I'll try to tell you as quickly as I can." And saying
this, Elmer started to relate how word had come of the detestable scheme
engineered by some of the rougher element among the Fairfield boys,
looking to rendering Lil Artha ineligible as a contestant, by either
coaxing him to ride in their auto, or if he persistently declined,
forcing him into doing so.

Matty's indignation was immediate.

"What a lot of scoundrels they are!" he declared, between his set teeth.
"If I wasn't a scout right now, d'ye know what I'd say they deserved?"

"Well, never mind," laughed Elmer; "don't commit yourself, Matty. And
now, boys, since we've refreshed ourselves, let's be moving. This is
probably the last stop we'll make up to the time we overhaul our chum
who is so gallantly carrying our colors to victory. Come along, both of

Elmer had thought they could spare the few minutes needed to get a
drink, and give Matty some hints as to how things stood. The leader of
the Beaver Patrol had made such a brave fight of it, in that he had
covered nearly thirty miles of territory since morning, that really he
deserved to be told.

Fortunately both of the older machines started in decent order.
Doubtless Toby and Nat breathed sighs of relief when this fact became
evident; for they had been having so much trouble of late that they
distrusted the working capacity of the worn-out motors to rise to an

But everything seemed going along smoothly, and once more the three sped
along, passing the fifth station, which was the same Rockledge from
whence the news had come concerning Lil Artha some two hours and more

"How far d'ye think he could have gone in two hours, Elmer?" asked Toby,
who, as usual, was making the leader a pacer for his own progress, as he
hung dangerously close at the rear of Elmer's machine.

"Well, if he was fairly fresh Lil Artha might make eight miles, and
think little of it," replied the other.

"But he must be tired by now, and say he's made six, wouldn't that about
fill the bill, Elmer?"

"We'll call it six, just for fun, and let it go at that. Look out for
Felix about this time. He ought to still be half an hour behind the

"Unless the conditions have changed a whole lot, which I don't think has
happened," Toby called.

Elmer had even considered dropping off while passing through Rockledge,
just to find out when Felix entered his name and time of arrival. But on
second thought he decided that it did not matter much anyway; since it
was not the persistent work of Felix that bothered them half so much as
what the plotters meant to do.

Thirty-two miles' walk was something worth while for boys who had never
made any pretense of being skilled pedestrians; and even the slowest in
the bunch, George and Angus McDowd, need not be ashamed, after having
tramped over twenty miles since sunrise, without any previous experience
and no preparation, such as old walkers of the Weston and O'Leary type
practice before starting on a long hike.

A short time after leaving Rockledge, they believed that they must have
reached the thirty-five-mile stage.

Elmer gave his horn a little toot, that being his way of signaling to
his comrades that he had sighted something ahead.

"Is it Felix?" asked Toby, fearful lest the reply might indicate that
Lil Artha had fallen back to second in the race, and the sturdy Dutchman
beat him out.

"It isn't our chum, anyhow," Elmer answered; "because he lacks half a
foot of being as tall. Yes, it must be Felix Wagner."

"He's walking strong, Elmer!" declared Toby, anxiously.

"So is Lil Artha, you'll find," the other flung back.

"Do you think he can be far ahead still?" Toby persisted, just as though
the boy in the lead could tell everything.

"I reckon he's holding his own," answered Elmer. "When we last heard he
was half an hour to the good. Then we'll likely run across him a few
miles farther on."

"Say, it ain't far from dusk now, Elmer!" sang out Nat from the rear.

"Oh, we know that easy enough," called Toby. "Just you keep your machine
in good temper, Nat, and everything'll be lovely, with the goose hanging

So they flew past the Fairfield walker in rapid style.

After that little exchange of opinions the trio relapsed into silence
for a brief time. The motors kept humming away as though out for
business, and the regular music that his machine was giving forth seemed
especially pleasing to Nat. Why, he was that delighted he could not bear
to hush matters in the least by using the muffler! Who cared for the
noise anyway; this was no crowded town for the police to interfere.

And now Elmer began to grow anxious. Felix had waved his hand to them in
passing, and they had answered in a friendly way, Felix was not supposed
to know anything about the mean plan on foot to further his interests at
the expense of the one whose fine work entitled him thus far to the

How would they find Lil Artha? Was the pride of the khaki troop holding
out all right, or would they discover that he showed signs of weakening
when that sturdy and persistent Dutchman in the rear would soon pass him



ELMER was thinking about the car that had started from Fairfield an hour
before Toby and Nat learned about the scheme to waylay the leader in the
great hike, in case he proved to be a representative of Hickory Ridge,
and prevent him from carrying out his intentions not to ride a foot of
the way to Little Falls.

It could have easily overtaken Lil Artha long before this. Possibly the
four reckless young fellows in the car may have gone on ahead, to pick
out a favorable place for the ambush, from which they meant to pounce on
the walking Lil Artha and play their mean game.

He was looking on either side of the road as he went, as though the
thought had come to him that perhaps he might discover the car in
hiding; the plotters having decided to wait until dark before overtaking
the leader.

Then another idea flashed across Elmer's mind, and he no longer bothered
looking either to the right or the left. Instead his eyes sought the
road in front of his motorcycle.

It was now beginning to grow a trifle like twilight. The glowing sun had
sunk in the west, and left a legacy of red and gold to paint a few
fleecy clouds that hovered there in the heavens.

So it was not as easy as one might wish, to discover signs on the road,
especially when going at the pace they held. But here and there the
conditions became a little more favorable. Perhaps it was because the
trees were farther back, allowing more of that glow from the west to
reach them; or else the shading branches had prevented the sun from
drying the mud entirely, so that such a broad mark as that made by a
poorly inflated automobile tire might be detected.

And this was just what Elmer was looking for. He found it presently,
too; and was even able to tell that the car had been going at a pretty
good clip in the same direction in which they were even then headed.
This he did by noting that the mud had been splashed _forward_, so that
it struck trees ahead of where it had formerly rested on the roadbed.
And the distance it had been thrown was proof of considerable speed on
the part of the passing car.

So Elmer constantly found his previous experience in following a trail
of considerable benefit when filling the position of a scout leader.
Little things that others would have neglected to notice, or which, if
seen, might be looked upon as mere nothings, assumed an importance in
his eyes just as they would to an Indian born to reading signs when
following a trail in forest or on the desert.

There was no especial need of shouting all this out for the information
of the two fellows following after him. They were quite satisfied to
leave the arrangement of things in his hands. All Toby and Nat wanted
was a chance to have a say in the wind-up; and if the opportunity arose,
to put in a good lick for Hickory Ridge.

All the while Elmer was trying to figure distances. He had taken note of
the cyclometer at the time he passed Felix Wagner. It stood at just
thirty-five miles then. And if, as they suspected, Lil Artha, the
gallant Hickory Ridge representative, was some three or four miles ahead
of his closest rival, it was now about time they were sighting the
long-legged boy pedestrian.

Indeed, unless they soon came upon him, Elmer would begin to worry, lest
those reckless blades in the Fairfield car had declined to wait for
darkness to come in order to hide their actions, and had already carried
their plan into execution.

It was therefore with a purpose that Elmer shaded his speed down until
they were not moving along much more than twice as fast as a walker
would go.

"Keep tabs on the road to the left, boys, as we go," he called back.

"What for?" demanded Toby, eager to do whatever the leader wished, and
yet not able to see for himself.

"Notice any signs that might stand for a struggle," Elmer went on.

"Good gracious! Elmer, do you think they've jumped Lil Artha already?"
demanded Toby; and from the rear Nat called out:

"Didn't you say you thought they'd hold over till it got dark enough so
he couldn't recognize 'em, Elmer?"

"That's right, I did; and I still believe so," replied the leader,
confidently. "When I ask you to help me look for any signs of a
free-for-all scrap, I don't believe we'll find such a thing; but I'm
just insuring the correctness of my ideas."

"Oh, that's it, eh?" said Toby; though from the manner in which he
uttered the words it could be plainly seen that he failed to fully grasp
Elmer's true meaning.

But with three pairs of young eyes on the watch, it was not very likely
that anything in the nature of marks indicating a scrimmage would
escape. A lot of boys engaged in a wrestling match would be apt to leave
many traces on the road; for knowing Lil Artha as they did, the three
chums felt sure he could not be hauled into that Fairfield auto without
a desperate resistance.

Once Nat sang out something that sounded as though he had made a
discovery; and instantly Elmer gave the signal for a stop. With his
heart beating like a trip hammer he dropped his machine and hurried

"Where is it, Nat?" he asked, eagerly, ready to attempt the reading of
such signs as might be found on the dirt of the road.

Nat's eyes opened wide.

"Where's what?" he asked, as if astonished.

"Didn't you sing out that you'd seen something that ought to be
investigated?" asked Elmer.

"Why, not that I know of," replied Nat, seeming rather confused.

"But you did call out something?" went on the other, hardly knowing
whether to feel provoked or to laugh.

"Sure I did; but it was only to tell you I was feeling as empty as a
sugar barrel that's been scraped clean. When do we get a snack, I'd like
to know?" Nat replied, rubbing the pit of his stomach as if to indicate
its state of emptiness.

"Well, if that ain't the worst cheek I ever struck," growled Toby; "to
stop us just when my machine had got into its best stride, and was
humming most beautifully!"

"Oh, come off your perch!" cried Nat. "I didn't stop you--never dreamed
of such a thing. It was an accident, that's all."

"Never mind," remarked Elmer, as he prepared to mount again. "Not much
time lost, and I've made sure that Lil Artha has gone along here, _with
the car in front of him_!"

"What's that?" asked Toby, hardly understanding.

"Why, I've seen a place where our chum's footprint is marked _in the
tread_ the automobile tire made in the half-hard mud. That tells as
plain as print the car must have passed him back here a little; for if
he was not coming _after_ it he could not have stepped in the trail left
by the tire," Elmer went on, calmly.

"Oh, yes, I see now what you mean, Elmer; and as sure as you live it's a
mighty clever idea. Takes you to think up all those things. That's what
you learned when you were out there on the plains, didn't you?" Toby

"Of course," was all the scout leader replied; but he could not help
thinking that in the case of some fellows it would be necessary for them
to have about fifty years' experience out West before they could grasp
the true meaning of clews and trails and such things.

"Is there any need now for us to look out, and try to find traces of a
scrap?" asked Nat, as he balanced his machine and prepared to start.

"You might as well keep it up," came the answer.

"But if those chaps have gone ahead, what's the use?" demanded Nat.

"Because, don't you see," put in Toby, anxious to air his knowledge,
"what's going to hinder them lying in wait, and jumping out on Lil
Artha. Shall we keep tabs of the left side as before, Elmer?"

"The left--yes; but I imagine we're going to come upon our chum mighty
soon now. That track was fresh, and I've an idea it wasn't made more
than ten minutes ago, at the most fifteen."

Both the other lads looked admiringly at the one who was able so
confidently to say such a positive thing. They could not imagine how it
was done; and as their glances met they shook their heads, as though
condoling with each other on their mutual ignorance.

Then pop-pop-pop, and they were all off in a line, with Nat, as usual
bringing up the rear, and Elmer in the van.

Ahead of them, about half a mile away, there seemed to be some sort of a
bend; although the shadows played around the spot so densely that even
the sharp eyesight of Elmer failed to make sure just what sort of a
curve the road took there.

He had what he called a "hunch" that once around this they would be apt
to sight the one in whose fortunes they were so vitally interested. So
away they tore, letting the engines out for all they were worth; and
Nat, as before, utterly ignoring the fact that he had a muffler
connected with his metal steed.

And as Elmer whirled around the curve he looked eagerly ahead. At first
he saw nothing save a long stretch of road that seemed to mellow as it
dropped a little in the distance. Was it possible that Lil Artha could
have passed beyond the extreme limit of observation? If so, then the
deduction he had made as to the length of time elapsing since that
footprint was made could not have been the true one.

Ah, what was that moving there under the trees about half a mile ahead,
and just before the road took its slight downward pitch? Surely he had
seen something rise and fall with regularity; and it could hardly be a

The object caught his eye again. It was red, and Elmer suddenly
remembered that Lil Artha always made it a point to carry a couple of
big red bandana handkerchiefs along with him when about to indulge in
any game, whether baseball, football or a fishing excursion that
entailed a long walk.

Yes, surely that must be their comrade, who, hearing the familiar
explosion of the motorcycle engines, and possibly guessing that some of
the Hickory Ridge boys were following on his trail, had stepped aside to
let them pass. And that waving of the red flag was not intended as a
signal of warning, but simply Lil Artha's method of greeting his mates
as they flew by.

He could see the tall figure plainly now, and even note how he carried
his khaki jacket over his left arm, as the evening was anything but

And Elmer felt a thrill of satisfaction as he realized that after all
their troubles on the way they had finally come to the point where they
were about to join forces with the gallant fellow who was on his
thirty-sixth mile and still set upon arriving at Little Falls long
before dawn closed the contest.

Lil Artha stood at attention. He had recognized in the leading figure
the assistant scout master of the troop, and, like a good scout,
believed in paying him the respect due his office. Under ordinary
circumstances they were chums and ready to indulge in any sort of
rough-and-tumble boyish wrestle, but when on duty it must always be a
different thing.

So, as his hand came up in the regular scout salute, Lil Artha was
surprised to see that the other was bringing his motorcycle to a slow
down, as were also those in the rear, whom he now recognized as Toby and

Apparently, then, they intended to stop and speak with him, perhaps with
the idea of giving him fresh courage to plod along over the ten miles or
so that still remained between himself and his destination.

Nothing averse to having a little chat with his chums as he walked
along, the tall scout stepped out from under the overshadowing branches
of the tree.

"Hello, fellows!" he remarked. "Say, this is mighty nice in you, hunting
me up just to say howdy and wish me luck. What's the news back along the

"All pins down in this alley but one other besides you, Lil Artha," said
Toby, quickly.

"And I bet you I know who that chap is--he comes from Fairfield and his
name is Felix Wagner. How'd I get on to that? Why, what's the use of
telephones if you don't use 'em? I called up and found out, you see. But
don't you worry one minute. Why, I ain't near played out. Fact is,
fellows, I'm getting my second wind, and right now I'm good for another
thirty without stopping."

"Gee, you are a wonder, all right!" exclaimed Nat, admiringly.

"But listen, Lil Artha," said Elmer as they walked on in company, those
who had motorcycles trundling them along; "we've followed you all the
way from Hickory Ridge, which we left at four to-day, just to warn you
that you're in danger of being kidnaped!"

"What!" exclaimed the tall scout, evidently astounded. "Say that again,
won't you, Elmer? Me kidnaped! Say, are you joshing me now or what? Open
up and tell me."



"WELL, I like that, now!" burst out Toby. "He thinks we've run all the
way from good old Hickory Ridge, thirty-five miles away and more, just
to hand him a string."

"And me taking all the dreadful chances of breaking my neck with this
cranky machine that's got into its second childhood!" echoed Nat,

Elmer paid no attention to these side remarks. He could easily
understand just how Lil Artha looked at things. Not having the slightest
suspicion concerning any crooked work in connection with the great hike,
he could not comprehend what was meant by "kidnaping" him.

"Just what we're here for, old fellow," he remarked. "In the first
place, perhaps you know it, and again you may not; but Mr. Garrabrant
sent these two good scouts over to Fairfield on their motorcycles to
take notes of the start made by the three fellows who meant to compete
with us in this event."

"Yes, I knew about that," muttered Lil Artha.

"All right," Elmer continued. "They performed their duties, and then,
according to orders, hung around to find out whether there might be any
talk about some of those famous tricks that used to be played when Matt
Tubbs was running things with a high hand over there."

"But hasn't Matt turned over a new leaf; did Mr. Garrabrant expect that
it was all a make believe with him?" asked the other, quickly.

"No," said the scout leader; "so far as we can tell, Matt is in dead
earnest about doing the right thing from now on. I reckon he'd be as mad
as hops if he heard what some of his old mates have arranged."

"Well, hurry on and tell me, please, Elmer; I'm as curious as any old
woman you ever ran across," and Lil Artha laughed as he said this.

"Late in the afternoon they happened to overhear a talk between two
Fairfield boys, and then and there learned about the scheme. It seems
that four fellows in a car had already been gone an hour. They were to
run up to the head of the line, and find out just how things lay. If a
Fairfield competitor was running in the lead, of course nothing would
happen; but in case it proved to be a Hickory Ridge scout _they had
their orders_."

"But see here, Elmer, wouldn't that knock them out of the organization.
The rules of the scouts wouldn't stand for such an outrage," protested
Lil Artha.

"Hold on, Lil Artha," interrupted Elmer. "You don't seem to get on to
the real facts. Nobody said a word about any scouts being connected with
this thing."

"Outsiders, then, you mean, Elmer?"

"Yes, some of the crowd that used to run with Matt Tubbs when he was the
terror of the county. You know they broke with him at the time he saw a
great light. Some of the best in the bunch followed him into the
Fairfield troop. Others laughed at the idea of turning over a new leaf.
And they say there's a new bully cropped up in Fairfield, a fellow who
used to sneeze in the old days every time Matt took snuff."

"Yes," said Lil Artha, "I know--Eddie Johnston; and a bad egg he is,

"Well," went on Elmer; "he's engineering this deal. The idea is that
these four fellows will try to coax you to enter their ear for a lift,
promising that nobody will ever hear about it, you see."

"But they ought to know I'd laugh at 'em. I'm good for the rest of the
hike, and could put on fresh speed if I sighted any feller coming along
to bother me," the tall scout declared.

"Well, in that case they had orders to jump you, get you in the car by
force, and carry you off, to drop you ten miles away, perhaps at Little
Falls. In that way, you see, Lil Artha, you would be eliminated from the
game, because you had _entered a vehicle_, which is against the rules.
And the second one in the race would win. That must be Felix Wagner."

"Does he know about this?" demanded the excited scout, frowning.

"Of course," answered Elmer, "we don't feel sure about it; but the
chances are he doesn't. No fellow who has his heart in the true
principles the scout movement stands for, could take a hand in such a
nasty game. And I'm hoping that if Felix learned what has been done he'd
be the very first to declare that he wouldn't accept a tainted title!"

"Good for you, Elmer! I don't know Felix very well myself, but I want to
think of him in that way, because he's a fellow scout. But look here. I
guess I saw the bunch you speak of pass me by only a little while back."

"Yes, I knew they had gone on ahead, because I saw that in several
places your footprint was plainly marked in the tread of the auto tire
in the mud," said the scout leader, quietly.

"Well, I declare now, if you don't beat anything in finding out them
tricks!" remarked Lil Artha, who frequently forgot there was such a
thing as grammar in the wide world. "Nobody else'd think of that way.
The rest of us have got heaps to learn. But I only saw two fellers in
the car, Elmer."

"Oh, well, perhaps the others were hiding low down for a purpose,"
returned the one who observed things closely and figured out results.
"If they all showed themselves you would be apt to know them later when
they started in with their rough-house business."

"Then what d'ye think they mean to do?" asked the tall scout, anxiously;
at the same time Toby and Nat noticed that his hands were doubling up
into fists, as if the old spirit of self-defense had begun to run riot
within him.

"They've gone down the road a few miles to some place that looks good to
them. Then, I reckon, the bunch will pile out and hide till you come
along. And while they're about it, they may disguise their faces in some
way with handkerchiefs. When fellows are in for something that won't
bear the light of day, they nearly always do that, don't you know, Lil

"Sure I do," nodded the tall scout, promptly. "More'n a few times I've
done the same myself, and so has Toby here. But all the same it's a mean
dodge to try and cheat me out of my honest dues. What're we goin' to do
about it, Elmer?"

"It stands to reason that we don't mean to let the game go through,"
replied the one addressed, frowning. "I'm as much opposed to violence as
any fellow could be; but there may come times when even the scout is
justified in using his fists. Mr. Garrabrant says so; and if he was
here, even if he is a man of peace, he'd say the same."

"That's right Elmer; I've heard him say that myself, and he'd laugh
right out when he declared that he was a man of peace, and that he was
bound to have peace even if he had to fight to get it," chuckled Toby.

"All right," snapped Elmer. "We must remember that we're up against a
condition that can only be met by standing up for our rights. If those
four rascals from Fairfield tried to push Lil Artha into their car
against his will, he'd be justified in kicking and striking out in
defense of his liberty, wouldn't he, scout law or not? And on the same
ground, we, as his comrades, have the right to defend him."

"And by ginger we will!" burst out Toby, triumphantly.

"Make your mind easy on that, Lil Artha," declared Nat; "we haven't run
all the way from Hickory Ridge to see our chum badly treated without
putting in a few good licks for him. Gee, it will seem like old times!
My style is getting rusty, and will need some sandpapering, I guess."

"Of course, talk won't amount to a row of pins," said Elmer.

"Not with that kind of skunks it won't," observed Lil Artha.

"As Mr. Garrabrant isn't here, and I stand in his place, I'll have to
try and do what I think he'd commend," Elmer went on.

"About that peace racket, even if you have to fight to get it, eh?"
laughed Nat.

"Wait and see," replied the scout leader, nodding his head, and giving
the other a significant, look that made Nat's heart glad; for, like Red
Huggins, Nat had always had something of a reputation as a fighter, and
found it most difficult to repress this pugnacious spirit after he
joined the scouts.

"Lay out the programme, Elmer, won't you, please?" begged Lil Artha.

"Yes, tell us just what each fellow must do," added Toby.

"Well, I've been thinking it over as we came along," remarked the one to
whom these appeals were addressed; "and this is the plan I settled on as
promising the best results. In the first place, as these chaps want
darkness before they show their hand, so that Lil Artha won't be apt to
recognize them, the chances are they've gone several miles farther on
before running the car in among the trees at a likely spot. Do you agree
on that, boys?"

"Sounds good to me, Elmer; please go on and roll your hoop," said Nat.

"Beats all how you can hit things so close," remarked Toby; "because,
now that you've mentioned it, I c'n see how they'd be apt to do just
that very thing."

"I'm agreein' with the rest, so keep moving, Elmer," Lil Artha observed,
deeply interested in the results, as he had a right to be.

"Well, then, suppose now we ride on behind Lil Artha for another mile.
Then he can hold up when I give a little whistle, or he hears the faint
howl of a wolf in the distance. The three of us will then proceed to
hide our motorcycles somewhere in the woods, marking the place at the
roadside so we can find 'em again easy later on to-night. After that
we'll haul upon our chum, and keep a little distance behind him as he
tramps on toward Little Falls."

"Bully idea!" declared the object of all this attention, shaking the
hand of the one who had suggested it. "And a feller don't have to have
more'n two eyes, with a mite of common sense back of 'em, to know
what's goin' to happen when the Fairfield bullies jump out on me."

"Whack! whack! that's two down; one with the right, and t'other with the
left duke, leaving only two for you three boys," declared Nat, making a
violent lunge in either direction, as though getting in trim after these
months of idleness, when following the mild paths of peace.

Toby laughed.

"Say, what d'ye suppose we'll be doing all that while?" he demanded.
"Don't be so greedy, Nathan. It's one apiece all around. Nothin' could
be fairer than that, and I put it up to Elmer here. Who wants to get
cheated out of his share, tell me that!"

"I reckon that ought to be understood in the beginning," remarked Elmer,
dryly. "Get this notion out of your heads, fellows. All we want is to
protect Lil Artha. If talking would do it I'd say leave it to me
entirely; but we all know it needs something stronger. So let each
fellow try to capture one of the bunch in ambush and hold him. Perhaps
they'll skedaddle as soon as they see us coming, and the job will be
done without one blow."

"But if they do resist when we're trying to defend our chum, what then?"
asked Nat, with the most agonizing appeal in his voice, as though he saw
his dearest hopes fading, fading gradually away.

"Oh, that goes without saying," chuckled Elmer. "I don't think there's
any real need of my giving you fellows orders along that line, because
you know what the only remedy is. Only, please don't forget for one
minute that you are scouts, and as such should hold your hand the
instant the white flag goes up."

"Sure we will, Elmer, if we see it!" chuckled Nat. "You make me happy
again. Gee! I was afraid you might say that under no circumstances was
a poor fellow allowed to defend himself--that, like a lot of old women,
all we could do was to grab an enemy and hold on, no matter how he
scratched and bit and gouged. It's all right. We've got our orders,
fellows. Nuff said."

All this time they had been walking at a rather stiff pace along the
road that led in the direction of Little Falls, distant something like
nine miles. When Lil Artha had said that he believed he was in
possession of his second wind, he evidently knew what he was talking
about. At least the others were hard pushed to keep up with the
long-legged contestant, hampered as they were by their heavy machines,
which had to be trundled along with considerable effort.

"Fall back and mount, fellows," said Elmer; "and you, Lil Artha, keep
listening for the signal to wait for us. Only a mile do we dare keep
going; to get closer to the place of ambush might betray us, as they
would hear the explosions from one of these machines, the muffler of
which never works decently. Get that?"

"It's as plain as the nose on my face, and nobody can miss that,"
replied the other, as he started off along the road.

Elmer cautioned his comrades to make as little racket as possible, and
presently they followed on their motorcycles.

About ten minutes later a low, weird sound floated through the air. To
most persons it would have meant that some farmer's watchdog was uneasy,
and baying at the stars; but Lil Artha knew better.

It was intended for the howl of the wolf, the sign of his patrol!



"I SEE him, Elmer," whispered Toby.

"Couldn't be anybody else," chuckled Nat, "because Lil Artha is as tall
as a house, you know."

The contestant representing the Hickory Ridge scouts was standing there
in the middle of the road, waiting for them to come up.

"Is it time, Elmer?" he asked, anxiously, as the other three joined him.

The gloaming was about them; indeed, since the heavens were beginning to
be overshadowed by clouds, the dusk had already commenced to settle,
earlier than usual in the end of August.

It had been a pretty fair day, but there was no telling what the night
might bring forth; and Lil Artha, wisely looking ahead to a possible
thunder-storm about midnight, was determined to complete his long hike
as early as possible.

"Yes," replied the leader of the Wolf Patrol, quietly. "We're going to
hide our machines somewhere about here, where we can find them when we
need them a little later."

"And you want me to hold up till you're ready?" asked Lil Artha.

"That's the programme," came the reply. "You see, we expect that the
four hold-up fellows must be hidden only a little farther along; and we
want to have our part of the game fixed. Just sit down here, Lil Artha,
and we'll be back again in a jiffy."

"Well, if it's all the same to you, Elmer, I think I'll keep on
standing," replied the tall boy, with a chuckle.

"Oh, all right," replied Elmer; "you're the doctor, and ought to know
what's best for your own case. Just wait for us here. Come along,
fellows, and bring your motorcycles with you."

Of course there was no mystery about the refusal of Lil Artha to sit
down. He knew from past experiences how difficult it is to get in
working order again at such a stage in a long hike should he give way to
the temptation and drop upon the ground. It was better to keep moving,
and not allow any of his muscles to get stiffened.

Following Elmer, the others pushed into the woods on the right, where
the scout leader seemed to think the conditions looked best for the
hiding of the three machines.

It was not a hard task to secrete them in the bushes.

"Hope it don't rain before we come back again," remarked Toby, as he
came out from the thicket where he had placed his motorcycle as
carefully as though it were a brand-new one; for on account of its
recent fairly decent performances the boy began to feel a return of his
former affection for the wheel.

"We'll have to take the chances on that," replied Elmer. "These clouds
may not stand for anything, after all."

"Often tries a big bluff like that," remarked Nat; "so we ain't going to
worry about it. Besides, if the little circus is soon over, we can come
here to get the bunch before long."

"Back to the road then, fellows," Toby observed, leading off with

A minute later Nat broke out again:

"Say, what d'ye know about this?" he remarked. "Don't seem a bit
familiar to me along here. What're you laughing at, Elmer? Has Toby led
us the wrong way?"

"Rats!" exclaimed that worthy, bristling up in indignation. "Don't you
suppose I know what I'm about? Of course this is the right way to the
road, ain't it, Elmer?"

"You might get there, if you kept on long enough!" admitted the other.

"But how far would we have to go?" demanded the incredulous Nat.

"Oh, about twenty-five thousand miles, more or less," chuckled Elmer.

"Gee, he's turned right around and is heading _away_ from the road,
that's what," declared Nat, laughing softly. "A nice guide you'd be,
Toby, old chum. Think of us floundering deeper and deeper into these
blessed old woods, when every minute is worth a heap to us right now!"

"But what did you let me do it for, Elmer?" complained the culprit.

"Well, you started off as if you wanted to show us what you know about
woodcraft; and I thought the chance to open your eyes a little too good
to be lost," Elmer replied.

"But we've wasted time by it," declared Toby, feeling disheartened.

"Only a minute or two, and that doesn't count much beside the lesson it
may be to a couple of scouts I know," said Elmer.

"Tell us just how you know which way the road lies," said Nat.

"Oh, that is as easy as falling off a log," came the crushing reply. "I
just kept my eyes about me when we were coming in, and noted that we
were moving due east at the time, with the breeze exactly on our right,
and you remember it was coming out of the south a bit ago. If it had
been daylight I'd have known the points of the compass from the
direction of the sun; or, that failing, by the moss that nearly always
grows on the north side of the trunks of forest trees. There are many
ways for a wide-awake boy to find out these things; but only when he
keeps his wits about him _all_ the time, and his eyes and ears open."

"I guess you're right, Elmer," grunted Toby. "Time I woke up and began
to do some tall thinking, if ever I'm going to get out of the greenhorn

While the three were talking after this fashion, in low, cautious tones,
Elmer had been leading the way in a confident fashion through the gloomy

Both the others were now more than a little curious to ascertain just
how near the point where they had left Lil Artha their guide would fetch
up. So far as they themselves were concerned it was by this time all a
confused jumble. If asked to point out the proper direction neither
could have done better than shut his eyes and thrust out a hand at
random; for they were very much turned around, now that the clouds had
rendered it impossible for them to even decide which direction was west.

"Well, I declare!" ejaculated Toby, presently, "here's the bally old
road, as sure as you're born, Nat!"

"Elmer!" said a low voice, as some object moved near by.

"And better still, here's Lil Artha!" declared Nat, lost in wonder as to
how Elmer could have done such a remarkable stunt, and with hardly an
effort, too.

"Sure," came in the same low tone. "Where else should he be but here
just where you left him? But say, Elmer, you were gone a long time."

"Not a bit over five or six minutes," replied the leader, immediately;
"and even then, we've had quite a lesson in woodcraft. Besides, Felix is
half an hour behind, and there's little danger of his catching up, yet

"Do we start on again now?" asked Nat, who was opening and shutting his
hands nervously in a way that might have excited the scout leader's
suspicions had he been able to notice the movement.

"Yes, we're going to set the stage now for the last little scene in this
act of the drama entitled the Great Hike Conspiracy," chuckled Elmer.

"That sounds good to me," murmured Nat.

"Go on, Elmer, and tell us just what you want us all to do," urged Lil

"First of all, you are to start on again, just as before, Lil Artha."

"Yes, I get that all right," replied the tall lad.

"And the rest of us will shadow you," Elmer continued.

"I don't quite understand what you mean, Elmer; will you keep a certain
distance behind me all the time?" Lil Artha asked.

"You can make up your mind that we'll be close enough every minute to
hear you whistle steadily as you trudge along," came the reassuring

"And that means you'll get on to what they say to me when they show
their hand: eh, Elmer?"

"Just what it does, Lil Artha," the leader answered.

"Fact is, I want to hear that little dialogue or conversation the worst
way. Because, you see, we may have to repeat this story a few times
later on, and we'd like to be able to have it all down pat."

"Well, what happens then after they show their teeth?" questioned the
tall boy.

"You make up your mind which one of the lot you like best, and hang on
to him with tooth and nail, as if you thought he was your long-lost
brother. Get that, Lil Artha?" Elmer continued.

"I understand," came the reply. "You want me to count for one hold-up,
so as to leave the other three to you fellows?"

"Well, you wouldn't be greedy, would you, and cheat us out of all the
fun, after we've come all this long way, and risked breaking out necks
time and time again?" remarked Nat, reproachfully.

"He understands, Nat," remarked Elmer, pouring oil on the troubled
waters as he frequently did when little frictions arose in the khaki
troop. "And there's no need of wasting any more time. Be off, Lil Artha,
and success to you."

"Same here, fellows," came the merry reply; "and more power to your
elbow, Nat"; from which last remark it was very evident that Lil Artha
knew full well the impulsive character of the Scott boy, and how his
desire to engage in "scraps" had not as yet been wholly tamed down by
his becoming a scout in good standing.

Nat's father was the principal of the public schools in Hickory Ridge;
and from the time that Nat started to attend he had possibly given the
professor as much trouble as any lad in the whole town. Not that Nat was
naturally bad, but his quick temper, and readiness to use his fists to
settle argument, had drawn him into innumerable scrapes.

Accordingly, Lil Artha once more started along the darkening road,
swinging out with those long strides which his length made possible.

Elmer calculated to a nicety just how far they ought to allow their chum
to get before starting to follow. It was important that they should be
concealed from the eyes of the four in ambush; and yet, on the other
hand, he did not want to drop back to such a distance that they might be
cheated out of hearing what happened when the surprise came.

In order to maintain a certain distance in the rear he had instructed
the one ahead to keep up a steady whistle. Lil Artha was known to be a
whistler, and often amused his chums by his accomplishment in this line.
It was a gift, such as an occasional boy finds himself in possession of.
And more than once had Elmer told his friend that he would make a good
woodsman if only he turned his talent toward imitating the various clear
sweet notes of wild birds.

They could hear him easily now, and Elmer fixed the sound in his mind.
As he had cautioned Lil Artha to keep up a steady flow, it would become
apparent that they were either diminishing the distance or adding to it,
if that whistle became louder or softer in volume.

Five minutes passed.

Elmer caught a big sigh close beside him, which he knew must proceed
from the impetuous Nat. Doubtless every sixty seconds that dragged by
seemed like an age to the Scott boy; who fancied that after all their
trouble perhaps they were going to be cheated out of their fun, and that
the plotters had weakened at the last round.

Not so Elmer, who estimated things at their true value, and not by the
rapid pulsations of an excited heart.

"Cheer up, Nat," he whispered in the ear of the other; "it's going to
come pretty soon now."

"Oh, I hope so!" sighed the one who loved action above all things.

"He's stopped whistling, Elmer!" whispered Toby, excitedly.

"No, there he starts again," replied the leader, who in truth suspected
what the little break in Lil Artha's melody might signify.

Possibly he had caught some suspicious rustling sound, and unconsciously
held his breath for just five seconds in order to listen better.

Was it a false alarm, or would the music begin immediately? Warned by
this suggestive hint, Elmer waited, fully expecting to hear a loud voice
suddenly break forth from some point ahead. Since this was not "Out
West" where lawless desperadoes held sway, it would hardly come in a
hoarse demand to "throw up your hands," but in some milder fashion.

And presently Elmer realized that his guess had hit the mark. The
whistle suddenly ceased. Then they heard a voice call out in the most
familiar way possible:

"Hello, there, Lil Artha! Hold up a bit, won't you?"



A NERVOUS hand gripped the sleeve of Elmer's jacket.

Nat was trembling with suspense; and doubtless Toby, on the other hand,
was almost as badly off. Elmer had come to a halt as the sound of that
voice reached them; but it was for only a fraction of a minute. He knew
that it was policy on their part to creep up, foot by foot; because,
when Lil Artha wanted help he would need it in a hurry. If they were too
far away perhaps those energetic Fairfield plotters might be able to
throw the tall lad into the car, and start going; when, as Nat might
have expressed it, "the fat would be in the fire."

"Why, hello! Who's that?" they heard Lil Artha reply, in the most
natural tone any fellow could display.

Of course he ought to show surprise at being suddenly hailed from the
bushes so far away from home, and by some one familiar with his name.

Evidently the quartette at that came out of hiding and surrounded the
tall lad; for his next exclamation seemed to announce this fact.

"Four of you, hey? Well, this is nice of you, boys, to come all this way
just to give me a good word of cheer!" he remarked.

"Hold up, don't be in such a hurry to get along, Lil Artha," said one
who seemed to be the leader of the lot.

"But how do I know how close some other fellow may be on my heels!"
remarked the tall lad; although he evidently did not make any further
attempt to brush past them.

"Say, that's just it!" declared the unknown, who, no doubt, had his hat
pulled down over his face, and depended on this, as well as the
gathering gloom of approaching night, to conceal his identity. "There is
a Fairfield fellow hot on your trail, and he's bound to beat you out,
because he's got his second wind."

"Yes," spoke up another, quickly, chuckling at the same time; "that's
what we're bothered about, Lil Artha. We just can't bear the idea of you
being beat to a frazzle by Felix Wagner."

"But I don't mean to be, you know, boys," expostulated the tall boy.
"Little Falls ain't mor'n nine miles ahead; and if Felix has got his
second wind, I'm in the same boat myself. Count on me to get there ahead
of him, fellows!"

"But you might have an accident, stub your toe or something like that,"
declared the leader of the opposition.

"So might Felix," remarked Lil Artha, cheerfully.

"Yes, that's so," came the reply; "but you don't know the luck of that
Dutchman. Everything comes his way, Lil Artha."

"Well, this hike won't, bet you a cookey!" remarked the other,

"He's right behind you, and coming like a house afire."

"Then what in the dickens are you keeping me waiting here for?" demanded
Lil Artha, indignantly.

"I'll tell you," replied the leader of the four, mysteriously.

"Hurry up, then, and let me go ahead," ordered the tall lad.

"We've been talking it over, you see," began the other.

"It's plain enough that talking is something in your trade," commented
Lil Artha, bitterly; and Elmer heard Toby alongside him chuckle softly,
as though he might be enjoying these caustic remarks of their tall chum

"And we've come to a conclusion, Lil Artha," went on the other, as
though he was not to be moved by any thrusts from the tongue of the

"All right. Glad you've come to something. Hurry up and spit it out, and
then give me a clear road, won't you?" the one who was being held up
remarked, sharply.

"The honor of good old Hickory Ridge is at stake," continued the
unknown, in a solemn tone that suggested graveyards and all that sort of
thing, Chatz Maxfield would have declared.

"Sure it is, and if you don't let up on this business it'll go
aglimmering. I want to walk, I tell you," declared Lil Artha.

"Hold on, now. Easy, Lil Artha. We represent a committee of the Hickory
Ridge boys, and have been sent out to make dead sure that you win this
big hike; d'ye get on to that, now?"

"Well, it sounds all right, but for the life of me I can't place you
among all the fellows I know," returned Lil Artha, suspiciously.

"Never mind about that; it don't cut any figure in the matter at all.
Fact is, none of us want you to know us. Then you won't be able to give
the game away."

"Game? What's that mean?" demanded the other. "Open up here, and show
your hand, won't you?"

"We want to help you on your weary way, Lil Artha."

"With cheery words and all that?" queried the one addressed, with
something of a sneer showing in his tone.

"Shucks! Something that counts better than cheery words. We've got a
bully old car right here, Lil Artha. You can see it if you look."

"Well, I see it all right," returned the Hickory Ridge scout; "but
what's that got to do with a fellow that's on a long walk, and anxious
to get to the end of his journey, tell me that?"

"Huh, a heap, Lil Artha; and you must be silly not to see through a
grindstone that's got such a big hole in it. What's a car made for,
anyway?" demanded the leader of the ambushing party, while his comrades
laughed harshly.

"Look here, what're you hinting at?" asked Lil Artha. "You don't want me
to get in there with you, I hope?"

"Plenty of room for six, and there's only four along, Lil Artha."

"But I don't need any help that way," protested the tall boy, angrily.
"I tell you I'm good for hours of hard grind yet. Not one chance in
sixty of me losing out to that Felix Wagner. I don't care what sort of a
hustle he's got on him. Just you clear the track, and watch my smoke,
that's all."

"But we fellows of Hickory Ridge don't want to take the chances. Here's
a bully opening for you to be carried along five miles in as many
minutes. Then we'll set you down, and you can finish the hike into
Little Falls as fresh as a daisy. You'll do it, Lil Artha, of course you

"Of course I won't, and you hear me warble at that!" roared the tall
boy, furiously. "What's more, I don't believe a single one of you live
in Hickory Ridge. Just let me strike a match and have a look at your
faces. Then perhaps I'll believe you mean honest, even if I can't take
up your offer."

There was a slight scuffle at this. Evidently Lil Artha had attempted
to put his suggestion into practice; but a ready hand had knocked the
match out of his grasp just as he struck it. There was a sudden gleam of
light, and then darkness again.

"No, you don't, old fellow," said a voice that was now tinged with
anger. "None of that funny business goes with us, does it, boys?"

"Nixey, not this time," replied one.

"Quit kidding, and make him be good," growled another, who plainly had
tired of the game as far as it had gone and wanted to be on the move.

"What's this mean?" demanded Lil Artha, just as though he could not as
yet get the true facts through his fuddled brain.

"The bird that can sing and won't, must be made to sing, they say,"
growled the fellow who seemed to take the lead in the abduction game.

"Grab him, boys, and jam him in the car; that's the only way!" burst out
a second of the quartette.

"Hold on here, do you know what this means?" asked the one who was being
threatened in this fashion. "It's an outrage to stop me like this. And
when you say you're from Hickory Ridge, you lie, that's what! You're a
bunch of Fairfield cowards, and you're only trying to make me break the
rules of the game so that I can't win! I'm on to your dodge, and don't
you forget it!"

A series of scornful laughs greeted these words. Evidently the hold-up
fellows felt so very sure that they had things in their hands that they
could afford to delay a little; just as the cat, not feeling
particularly hungry, will play with the mouse that has been maimed.

"Listen to him, will you?" jeered one.

"He's on, all right, fellows," exclaimed another; "he sees through the
dodge, does Lil Artha. Oh, ain't it a great thing to be a scout, and use
your brains! But all the same, we don't expect to let our big friend
have his way, do we, boys?"

Of course they were clustered around the Hickory Ridge scout, cutting
off all avenues of escape, even if Lil Artha should conceive the idea of
running away.

"Not much, we don't," echoed another.

"Keep your hands off me now, I warn you all!" shouted the tall boy,
aggressively; but in reality his words were intended to inform Elmer,
Toby and Nat just how far events had progressed, so that they might
arrange their movements accordingly.

"Are you going to get aboard?" demanded the leader, harshly.

"You mean of my own free will?" asked Lil Artha, fighting for a little
time, so that he could make sure of having his chums come up for the

"Yes, climb in, Lil Artha!"

"I refuse; and defy the whole bunch of you. I'm going to stick to the
rules of the game; and you can't make me change my mind. Bah!" the tall
scout shouted.

"Tackle him, and if he fights back, don't be too gentle with the big
cub. He's going to be carried five miles and more, whether he wants to
go or not!"

As the leader snapped this out there were heard sounds of a scuffle. No
need of daylight to tell those who were crouching so close at hand what
was taking place.

Grunts and low exclamations told that Lil Artha was doing his level best
to resist the onslaught of the four Fairfield rowdies.

Still, the tall scout from the Ridge was only a boy after all; and if
those opposed to him were less lengthy, that was no reason they lacked
in physical powers. And left to himself, there could have been no doubt
in the world but that after a gallant resistance Lil Artha would have
found himself bundled into the car, possibly bearing numerous cuts and
contusions on his body as mute witnesses to the fight he had put up.

And once they had him in the tonneau, three could hold him tight while
the other fellow started the machine. After that it would have been
"one, two, three," in the language of Lil Artha himself, so far as his
right to claim the prize of the great hike was concerned.

There could be no doubt but that the boy who was thus attacked was
following out the suggestions given by his patrol leader. This was made
evident by the loud cries of the fellow whose voice proclaimed him as
being the leader of the attacking squad.

"Pull him off, there, can't you?" he yelled. "He's hugging me like fun,
and got his long arms twisted around my neck. Hi, there! somebody give
him a jerk before he chokes me! Knock him in the ribs, and make him let
go, fellows!"

Nothing could hold Nat Scott back after that. The sound of battle acted
on him just as the smoke of burnt powder is said to affect a horse that
is accustomed to the roar of mighty conflict.

Nor did Elmer have the slightest idea of trying to keep either of his
chums in restraint longer. The crisis had arrived, and Lil Artha needed
their help, lest he be bodily kidnaped and carried away in that car.

So they swiftly bore down upon the scene of the fracas. In the gathering
darkness they could just manage to distinguish a group of wildly
struggling figures; for Lil Artha had one of the ambushing party in his
embrace, and the other three were vainly endeavoring to make him break
his hold.

"Remember, one apiece!" Elmer said, as they arrived on the spot.

Up to that second none of the Fairfield fellows had the slightest
suspicion that their miserable game had reached a snag. One happened to
discover the coming of a single figure, and apparently the only thought
that flashed through his mind was that the next nearest contestant had
somehow managed to arrive on the spot ahead of scheduled time; for he
immediately began to shout aloud:

"Keep your hands off, Felix; this is our job, and you don't want to know
anything about it. Go right along the road now, and close your eyes and
ears. You've got a snap, and a soft one at that. Here, let go of me, you
fool! We're your friends, d'ye hear! Quit it, I tell you! Wow! What's
this mean, fellows?" And the one who was making all this outcry suddenly
changed his tune from indignation to fright, as he noticed other
vigorous forms attacking his companions.



"HELP, help! he's choking me! Pull him off, you fools, can't you?"
shouted the valiant leader of the four, who had planned to have all this
fun with Lil Artha, and now found that the shoe was on the other foot,
since it seemed to be the tall scout who was enjoying a monopoly of the

But instead of his mates obeying, he found that they had suddenly ceased
in what efforts they were putting forth. The mystery was not difficult
to solve, because every fellow had enough to do defending himself
against an assailant who had apparently sprung from the darkness.

It was a lively scene for a short time. The Fairfield fellows understood
that in some miserable way their scheme must have become known to the
Hickory Ridge scouts. Perhaps they heard Toby call out the name of Elmer
when asking what he was to do with the fellow on whose back he had
lodged with the tenacity that the Old Man of the Sea exhibited when he
refused to let Sinbad the Sailor put him down.

They struggled hard, but it was no longer with the idea of completing
their cowardly plan. All thought of carrying Lil Artha off in the car
was now abandoned, and each and every Fairfield fellow only considered
his individual chances for making what Nat called a "get-away."

Speaking of Nat, that worthy was really and truly happy. Old times had
come back again, and once more were his muscles being allowed to play
their part in a struggle for the mastery.

He had early picked out the victim whom he felt called upon to punish.
If pugnacious Nat could only have had his sweet way about the matter,
that party would undoubtedly have been the leader of the four Fairfield
schemers; but since Lil Artha already had that worthy "in chancery," as
it is called when one gets his opponent's head under his arm and in a
position of abject helplessness, Nat had to content himself with
selecting a less prominent foeman.

What happened just then and there it would be hardly fair to state,
because of the fact that Nat was a scout in good standing. But there
were several loud thumps heard, and somebody seemed to pick himself up
from the road twice, only to suddenly sit down again, with more grunts
and finally decline to get up at all. Upon which Nat danced around him,
making threatening gestures, and actually daring the alarmed plotter to
try and get on his feet again.

Elmer, on his part, had happened to lay hold of a very slippery
customer. The Hickory Ridge scout did not want to hurt the fellow any
more than he could help; but at the same time he was bound to do all in
his power to hold him; for he meant to take a look at every one of their
faces, so that he could tell them again.

Twice the other had come close to slipping out of his clutches, despite
the grip Elmer had upon him. The second occasion was when with some sort
of movement, which he had possibly practiced until he had it down fine,
the boy suddenly drew his arms out of the sleeves of his coat, and was
in the act of darting away when Elmer threw out a foot and tripped him.

Again he pounced on the other, and this time managed to get a good grip,
so as to be able to exert himself. The consequence was that he spun the
Fairfield chap around on his back and was able to place a knee on his

"Now, lie still, you, unless you want to get hurt!" Elmer exclaimed; and
being by this time of the opinion that he had run up against a buzz-saw
in action, the panting and defeated plotter gave in.

The clamor had for the most part ceased. Only Nat seemed to be doing an
Indian war dance around his prostrate foeman and shaking his fist every
little while in the fellow's face.

"Don't hit me!" yelled the alarmed one. "I'm all in, don't you see? I
cave! I'm a prisoner, and scouts don't dare hit a defenseless fellow, do

"Aw, you make me think of a coward that would hide behind a woman's
skirts!" declared Nat, in disgust, because his enjoyment had been so
suddenly cut short by the collapse of his opponent. "Why don't you stand
up and take your medicine like a little man? Just because I belong to
the scouts I ain't allowed to hand you what you'd give me if you had the
upper hand. It's tough, that's what."

Possibly Nat might have been tempted beyond his powers of resistance but
for the fact of the patrol leader's presence.

"Hold up there, Nat, Toby, Lil Artha!" called out Elmer just then. "How
is the world treating you, fellows?"

"All to the good here," chuckled Toby, who was still clinging to the
back of his capture and showed no inclination to let go.

"My pig looks like thirty cents!" said the tall scout who, left to
himself, had speedily reduced his opponent.

"And mine is on the blink, too," declared Nat.

"Shucks, I ain't had hardly a mite of fun out of it all! He laid down on
me, that's what he did, Elmer."

"'Taint so," bawled the fellow, indignantly. "He just went and knocked
me down two times, and here he goes now waving his old fist under my
nose like he wanted to do it some more. Call him off, Elmer, the game's
all up and we cave!"

"All right, boys, glad to hear it," sang out the patrol leader; "but
before we let you go we're bound to have a look at every one of your
faces, so we can know you again."

There was more or less muttering at this, for the Fairfield boys began
to see that they were doubtless in for considerable unenviable publicity
on account of the affair. But beggars can seldom be choosers. They found
themselves helpless in the hands of their enemies, and must do exactly
what they were told.

So Elmer took out his match-safe and prepared to strike a light.

"See if you know the fellow you've got hold of, boys," he called.

Then the little illumination flared up.

"I know this duck all right!" called out Toby. "He's Dick Rawlings who
used to play center field on the Fairfield nine."

"And I've got Eddie Johnston, just as I expected!" announced Lil Artha
who, it will be remembered, had seized upon the leader of the quartette
by whom he had been stopped on the road with the demand that he ride,
whether he wanted to do so or not.

"I don't seem to know this cowardly cub," declared Nat, who had lighted
a match on his own account, and bent low over his prisoner. "He makes
the worst faces you ever saw, just to keep me from knowing him again.
Here, stop your throwing your head around that way, or else you'll get
burned! Hey! what did I tell you? Got a little dose of it then, did you?
And one of your eyebrows singed right off! Well, you _will_ be a beaut
for a while now, and I reckon I can put my finger on you any time I

"You did that apurpose!" shouted the fellow on the ground, glaring at
the grinning Nat. "You just wanted to mark me, that's what!"

"Oh, rats! Close your trap now and see how you can run," laughed Nat, as
he took a firm grip on the collar of the other, and started to drag him
up off the ground, the fellow whimpering all the while as though he
really expected that he was going to be badly treated.

"Who's your bug, Elmer?" cried Lil Artha.

"I think his name is Sandy Coons; anyhow he's got cross-eyes and that
ought to mark him, if ever we want to prove that he was here," replied
the patrol leader, as he assisted the fellow to get up.

"That's O. K., Elmer," declared Lil Artha. "Sandy Coons has got a pair
of the crookedest eyes ever; and if you look close you'll see he's got a
notch in his right ear. I remember when he got that, too; a fellow he
was with pinned his ear to a tree with an arrow he fired, when they were
playing Buffalo Bill's Wild West, and when Sandy tore loose it left a
dent. Is it there, Elmer?"

"Sure as you live," laughed the other, as he looked.

"Then we know the whole cahoot of 'em," declared Lil Artha, "And now,
please hurry up and get 'em on the jump, Elmer, because it's time I was
hiking out again, you understand."

"What're you going to do with us, fellows?" asked the leader, as they
were being ranged in line.

"We're going to start you down the road to meet Felix and tell him the
game's all up," said Toby, who seemed to believe the Fairfield
competitor must be aware of the scheme by means of which he was to be
benefited; though Elmer on his part thought better of the rival scout.

"But--our car is here," expostulated one of the prisoners.

"Then come back and get it later on; we don't mean to run away with it.
But if you take my advice, you'll cut for home right away, because this
thing has gone to the limit. And anyone trying to hamper Lil Artha any
further is liable to get himself seriously hurt. Understand that, all?"
and Elmer allowed his voice to express the indignation that surged
through his soul.

"Aw, let us loose! You know we've thrown up the sponge, and it's to the
tall timber for the lot," grumbled the leader.

Nat suddenly made a rapid movement. There was a cry, and then a fellow
started at a rapid pace along the road. Nat, unable to hold in any
longer, had given his prisoner the start he promised, which, of course,
meant a hearty kick.

Elmer let his captive go scot-free, which fact so aroused the
indignation of Nat that he darted after the fleeing Sandy Coons, and by
rapid work succeeded in placing his number seven in the place where it
would do the most good. At least the others judged this from the
agonized shriek that floated back to their ears.

Lil Artha was quick to see a good thing and show his appreciation. In
his mind imitation was the sincerest flattery; and accordingly the
successor in the bully line to Matt Tubbs was heard to loudly declare
that he would never, never cease to remember the long-legged scout; but
upon hearing the aggressive Nat making in his direction he, too, faded

That left only one to be treated, and this the chap whom Toby had been
riding as he might a horse. This fellow, understanding that he was in
for a good dose of the same kind of medicine, began struggling again,
hoping to upset his captor and in some way make off without submitting
to that humiliating experience.

It was of no use, however. Lil Artha took hold of him, and then told
Toby to let go. There was some little confusion, and then the fellow
galloped madly up the road, bellowing as though in pain.

"Did you get him?" asked Toby, eagerly.

"Well, I nearly broke my toe, because you see I'm wearing light walking
shoes on this hike. And how about you, Toby?" laughed the tall one.

"Dick Rawlings won't play ball for a little while; till he gets over his
limp, anyway," answered the other.

"Field's clear now, Elmer, ain't it?" asked Lil Artha, turning to the
patrol leader for further orders.

"Yes, and the sooner you're off again the better, Lil Artha," replied
Elmer. "You see, that Felix has been coming along all this while, and
perhaps he may be nearer than we think. How is it with you now; ready to
put in your best licks on the home stretch?"

"I'm just feeling as fresh as a daisy, Elmer," replied the other. "This
little business seems to have given me a new appetite. You watch me just
eat up the miles. Nine of 'em, do you say? Shucks, I'll be in Little
Falls before two hours!"

"Bully for Lil Artha!" exclaimed Nat, clapping his hands.

"Well, we'll put it out of the power of these fellows to pursue you any
farther, by taking their spark plug along. Ten to one they haven't got
an extra plug with them. And, Toby, Nat, we mustn't forget that we've
got machines a ways back here."

"That's right, Elmer. Do we get a move on us, and go for 'em now?" asked

Lil Artha had already waved his hand at them, and started off along the
road at a stiff pace, which seemed to emphasize the truth of what he had
just said about feeling as "fresh as a daisy."

"That's just what we're going to do," replied the other; "so come along

"Gee! I hope we happen to run foul of one of them fellers again,"
laughed Nat.

"Don't be a hog, Nat," admonished Toby. "You had ought to remember that
now you belong to the scouts you've got to be merciful."

"Ain't I?" protested the pugnacious one. "Didn't I just kick that feller
with the singed eyebrow, when I might have punched his head? Guess I
know my duty, Toby Jones!"



ELMER was as good as his word. He knew how to cripple the car, and in
almost no time he had secured the vital plug without which the machine
was valueless for following after Lil Artha, and making him any more

Then he and his two chums hurried back along the road, meaning to look
up their motorcycles; and once mounted upon these they could speedily
overtake Lil Artha; to form a guard of honor about him while he covered
the last few miles of his long and adventurous hike, that was to bring
new glory to the khaki troop of Hickory Ridge.

Nat ran on ahead. They knew full well that it was not any eagerness to
be the first to discover the marked spot near which the machines had
been secreted that influenced him to do this, but some other motive,
possibly not quite so worthy of commendation.

But even Elmer did not say a word. In the first place he did not think
Nat would be successful in overtaking one of the Fairfield schemers; and
then again, Elmer was not feeling any too kindly toward fellows who
could try to put through such a mean plot for defeating the ambitions of
the leader in the great hike.

"Hold on, there; come back, Nat!" called Toby, presently. "You've gone
and overrun the place. It's lucky Elmer here took note of this big oak
tree; or a pretty time we'd have finding our wheels again."

Nat did return, but with a bad grace. He was mumbling something about
"hard lines when everything goes against a fellow," and all that sort of
stuff; but no one appeared to pay any attention to his complaint.

They quickly found the three motorcycles, just as they had left them;
and again Toby started out to lead the way, only to make a mess of it.

"What's wrong this time, Elmer?" he asked, when the patrol leader gave
him to understand that they would be a long time getting out of the
woods if they kept on the route he, Toby, had started to follow. "I made
sure to notice that the wind was on the same side as when you led us out

"Yes, but since then the wind's taken a sudden shift. You should have
paid attention to that just when we left the road," remarked the other.
"A woodsman never goes by what it was a while ago. He knows changes are
liable to come around most any old time; and that's what happened here.
Wind whipped around about ten degrees, and is heading from the southwest
quarter now. That may mean rain before long, boys."

"Let her come if she wants," declared Toby, who was something of a
philosopher at times. "Can't do any more than soak us through, and at
this time of year that's nothing. I've fallen into a pond more times
than I've got fingers on both hands. They just can't drown me, and that
goes, boys."

"So long as Lil Artha comes in well to the front, and the Hickory Ridge
scouts win the big hike, what do we care?" Nat spoke up. "Besides, we've
had a little mite of fun, you know, fellows."

"Fun for the boys, but how about the frogs?" laughed Elmer, as he
pushed his machine through the low brush, heading for the road again.

"Let the bullfrogs look out for themselves, that's all," declared Nat.
"Any silly gump who will duck his head about, when a feller's holdin' a
lighted match close to his nose, just ought to get burnt. Say, think of
that guy minus one of his eyebrows; and he's got big ones too, at that!
Won't he be the sight, though!"

So, joking and laughing, they pushed on. Presently the road being
reached, they proceeded to get a start. Fortunately the incline was
downhill, if anything, which promised to make it easier for a mount. Had
the opposite been the case one or more of the boys might have had some
difficulty in getting started.

Elmer was away first, with a merry splutter of explosive sounds; but he
quickly shut off most of his power in order to wait for the others. Toby
came along after two efforts at mounting; but Nat seemed to be having
one of his old troubles. This time, however, the fault apparently lay in
Nat, and not in his motor, for they could hear the racket the engine
kept up.

"Here he comes like a skyrocket!" announced Toby, as the character of
the sounds from the rear changed; and sure enough they quickly heard Nat
whooping it up.

"Clear the track, there! Get out of the road everybody, and give me
room. Hi! My old ice wagon's taken the bitt in her mouth; she's running
away with me, Elmer! Look out there!"

Luckily Elmer had insisted that each of them light the acetylene gas
lamps belonging to their motorcycles before attempting to make a start.
Hence they were able to see Nat bearing down upon them with a rush, and
get to one side of the road in a hurry.

He went whizzing past amid a rattle and confusion, for, as usual, Nat
had paid no attention to his muffler.

"Somebody head me off!" came floating back, as the runaway machine went
whirling along the road leading to Little Falls.

"Good gracious! What can we do?" gasped Toby.

"You stick by Lil Artha!"

Even as he shouted these words Elmer was giving his machine its head,
and quickly he vanished from the view of the other around a bend.

It was no easy task that now presented itself to the young patrol
leader. Had it been a runaway horse there might have been some hope of
the rider controlling it; but with a motorcycle that took what seemed to
be a fiendish pleasure in doing just the things its owner did not want
done, the case was a different matter.

Something had become jammed, so that poor Nat, having opened his engine
up wide on starting, was unable to shut off power. And there he was,
rushing along at a reckless speed, headed for Little Falls by the most
direct route.

Somebody shouted out something as Elmer sped along. He guessed it must
be Lil Artha, who had discreetly sought the side of the road upon seeing
that fierce light bearing down upon him. But Elmer could not find time
to reply. Besides, there was Toby, who would be along presently, and in
a condition to tell the tall scout just what was taking place.

Elmer was keeping a bright lookout ahead. He knew that, given a fair
field, he could easily overtake the runaway motorcycle; but this thing
of rushing along in the darkness was no child's play. At any second he
might bang into some obstacle that would give him a nasty tumble.

Besides, he had to keep watch over the leading machine, so that he might
not run into Nat; which would be the worst sort of calamity that could
happen to them both.

At least he was gaining fast now; he could tell that by the glow from
the other lamp which lighted up the road ahead.

Presently he found himself within speaking distance. He could just
barely see Nat humped there in his saddle, giving his entire attention
to keeping his runaway machine in the road.

"Hello, Nat ahoy!" he called aloud, so that the sound of his voice might
reach the other above the clattering of his "cantankerous" motor, as Nat
himself was fond of calling his engine, which was now on such a wild

"Hey, that you, Elmer?" came back to him; and the patrol leader imagined
there was a trace of alarm as well as vexation in the voice.

"Yes, can't you keep over on the left side of the road? I want to come
closer to you so we can talk," Elmer called.

"All right. Half is good enough for me; so come right along, Elmer."

In another minute they were nearly abreast, each striving to keep to his
side of the thoroughfare as best he could.

"Steady, now, Nat," said Elmer. "Be careful how you let her yaw this
way, for I'm only a length behind you; and a mix-up wouldn't be the
nicest thing going."

"I'm holding her steady, Elmer. Now, tell me how I'm going to get the
curb on her, won't you?"

So Elmer began by asking questions concerning what seemed to have become
jammed; and in this way he quickly understood the situation. A few
suggestions followed, which, upon being put into practice, brought
forth a loud cheer from the relieved owner of the runaway motorcycle.

"It's all right now, Elmer! That last move did the business for her! She
minds her head now; see, I can slow down just as I please. But, wow,
that was a lively dash as long as it lasted. I sure began to think I'd
bump into Little Falls like a falling comet, and run up against a stone
wall; when good-by to my neck."

"Well, suppose then we turn around, and see if we can pick up the
others. Try it first, and see if things work smooth," and Elmer jumped
from his saddle as he said this, assisting Nat make the test.

Having made sure of this they returned along the road, though at a much
less rapid pace than they had recently shown in covering it. The light
from Toby's lamp told them when they were nearing the walking Lil Artha;
and presently the four Hickory Ridge scouts were together.

"I tell you what," remarked Toby, heaving a sigh, "I'll be awful glad to
get you safe back home again, Nat Scott. What you haven't tried the last
few hours ain't worth telling. And now that your old huckleberry of a
machine has taken to cutting up monkey shines a feller's life ain't safe

Lil Artha seemed to be in the best of humor. Things were, as he himself
remarked, "breaking all right for a fellow of his size," and he had no
cause for complaint.

"Just a few little incidents to liven up the last quarter of a pokey
hike, boys," he observed, as he strode along, with those lengthy legs
covering a yard at each and every step. "Why, I'll be entering Little
Falls like a conquering hero, with a guard of honor around me. Shouldn't
wonder but what we'll run across Mr. Garrabrant there, keeping company
with the other scout master."

"That's just what you'll do," remarked Elmer over his shoulder as he
rode slowly along in the van of the procession; "because he went ahead
with that idea in view, to be on hand to receive the first contestant
who showed up."

They enlivened the journey with all sorts of conversation and jokes.
Wearied as Lil Artha must certainly be, after coming all these long
miles since sunup, his chums sought to make him forget the fact by
keeping him in high spirits.

Nothing happened to interfere with their plans. Those who were inclined
to act ugly toward the possible winner were a long way in the rear, and
only concerned about getting home again with the car that belonged to
the father of one of the quartette.

It was not a great while after nine o'clock when the lights ahead told
that they were approaching a town.

"That's Little Falls, brother!" called Elmer, cheerily.

"Well, honest now, I ain't sorry to know it," declared Lil Artha;
"though, if I had to do it, I reckon I could crawl along a little
farther, p'raps a dozen or two miles. If anything's won this walk for
me, fellows, it's just been pluck. You can tell me all you want to about
athletes and such, but in my opinion that's what counts above condition
and everything else. As long as you keep up heart you've got a look-in;
but when the sinking spell comes, good-by."

Ten minutes later they entered among the houses. Immediately some boys
in khaki who were posted along the road as a sort of vedette corps,
began to call out to one another, uttering cries like the fox and the
bear, which doubtless denoted the nature of their patrols.

Presently there was quite a crowd accompanying Lil Artha as he headed
for the church where the local troop of Boy Scouts had their

Here there were many lights, and a lot of people assembled. When Lil
Artha passed through the open doorway a tremendous outburst of applause
greeted his appearance. He doubtless felt something of the thrill of
victory that used to come to the Grecian victor in those old days of the
Marathon races.

Mr. Garrabrant beamed with pleasure when he saw that it was a Hickory
Ridge boy who had come in first. Heartily did he shake hands with Lil
Artha and congratulate him on his pluck in making the entire distance
with hours to spare.

And when a little later on, while waiting to see if Felix came in before
the storm broke, the scout master listened with the greatest possible
interest while Elmer related what was known about the evil intentions of
those four scheming lads from Fairfield; and also laughed when he heard
how their designs had been signally defeated by the bravery and
intelligence of Lil Artha's faithful chums.



AFTER the second in the race, Felix Wagner, had come in, one of the
first things the boy from Fairfield did was to hunt out Lil Artha, shake
hands with him heartily, and congratulate him.

"I'd like to have beat you, all right," he said with a whimsical
grimace; "but I take it no fellow had need of feeling ashamed about
playing second fiddle to such a giant on a hike as you, Lil Artha. And
that goes."

Elmer had watched this meeting with eagerness; and he immediately turned
to Mr. Garrabrant.

"That settles one thing I've been worrying about," he declared,

"Meaning that this Fairfield lad has had no knowledge of the miserable
game that some of his misguided friends were engineering in his behalf;
is that it, Elmer?" remarked the gentleman, understanding what he had in

"Yes, sir," came the reply. "You see, from all accounts, in the old days
this same Felix Wagner was one of the right bowers of Matt Tubbs. And
somehow I seemed to be making up my mind that if _he_ had a hand in this
ugly deal, there was a screw loose somewhere in this reformation
business over there."

"But now?" asked Mr. Garrabrant, smiling.

"It looks good to me, as Lil Artha would say," replied Elmer. "If ever a
fellow seemed in earnest, Felix was when he said those words just now.
And I feel positive that when he hears the story of how some of his
friends tried to make Lil Artha ride, so as to knock him out of the
race, Felix will be furious."

Which prediction proved to be the case a little later; but we cannot
afford either the time or space to go into particulars with regard to

"Now we have another job before us," remarked Mr. Garrabrant, when ten
o'clock had arrived.

"You mean looking up the cripples--those who are ready to admit that
their hope of reaching Little Falls within the required time has died
out; and who will be only too willing to get a lift back home?" Elmer

"Why, yes, some of them must be in a pretty bad way; and as it still
threatens rain we must look them all up. I have three cars here that can
be used for the job. Would you care to run ahead, and try to hunt them
up, Elmer?"

"Yes, on one condition," came the reply.

"Oh, you can consider that it is granted before you ask; but what is its
nature?" Mr. Garrabrant inquired, laughingly.

"That I ride alone," answered the boy.

"Oh, I see," the scout master went on, nodding his head wisely; "you
dread having Toby and Nat along with their decrepit wheels to add to
your troubles."

"Yes," said Elmer, seriously; "because I can make much better time
alone, rain or not. Besides, I think the boys ought to have a rest; and
it would really be better if they put up here in Little Falls with some
Boy Scout friends until to-morrow, when they can come home."

"All right; I shall so advise them; though if they choose to leave their
motorcycles here until some future day, they can just as well ride back
in a car."

Both Toby and Nat, however, had friends in the town, and concluded to
stay over. Their machines had taken on a new life apparently, since
their association with Elmer and they were much encouraged.

Accordingly, the leader of the Wolf Patrol started out. Fifty miles or
so does not amount to a great deal when mounted on a good motorcycle;
and if that threatened storm would only hold off a few hours, Elmer felt
that he would have little cause for complaint.

As he rode along the thoroughfare he frequently sounded his horn in such
a way that any stragglers would know it was meant for a signal to show
themselves. It was to be Elmer's duty to warn them that the cars would
soon be along, and that they could get back to Hickory Ridge in that way
if they preferred.

About five miles out he heard a shout, and some one who was standing
alongside the road waved his hat. It was Matty, the leader of the Beaver

Elmer immediately jumped off his machine and put the question up to his
fellow scout. But he really knew what the answer would be before the
other opened his mouth.

"What, me give up, when I'm within smelling distance of my goal?"
declared the determined Matty. "Not for Joseph! I'm going on and report
to the headquarters of the Little Falls troop; and get back home
to-morrow someway or other. But I'm glad Lil Artha got the prize. He's
a dandy on a hike, I tell you; and Hickory Ridge is proud of him, sure
as you're born! So long, Elmer; get word to my folks, if you can; though
I warned 'em not to look for me to-night."

Then Matty strode off bravely, though Elmer detected a slight limp which
even his game qualities could not entirely conceal.

A little later on he picked up Red Huggins and Phil Dale, the latter
having given up, as he was utterly worn out. They had started a fire
alongside the road and were preparing to pass the remainder of the night
after the fashion of true scouts. In view of the possibility of rain the
boys were even then starting to make some sort of shelter from branches
and such stuff as they could find.

Of course they received the good news with tremendous satisfaction; and
declared that they would be only too delighted to get a chance of a lift
back home.

"Hope they'll let me fasten my old wheel behind, somehow?" remarked
Phil; and Elmer assured him that that had all been arranged for.

So leaving them, with an exchange of cheers, Elmer rode on.

One by one he came across Jack, Ty, George, and the Fairfield fellow,
Angus McDowd, the latter still in company with young Robbins. And every
one of them expressed the greatest satisfaction when they heard how Mr.
Garrabrant did not mean that they should spend the night away from home
but would speedily be along with a number of cars calculated to carry
them back to Hickory Ridge.

Even Tom Cropsey was located, he having taken refuge in the branches of
a tree, because of a farmer's vicious dog that kept barking savagely
not far away; and Tom happened to be particularly timid about strange
dogs. His wheel being useless, and himself too cramped for walking, he
had "camped" after his own fashion.

Thus all were restored to their homes that night save the other
Fairfield boy who had sprained his ankle and was in bed at the tavern;
Matty, who declined to be brought back until he had finished his task;
and Elmer's two companions, Toby and Nat, with their unreliable

Of course it was well along into the morning before the last automobile
reached Hickory Ridge with the balance of the contestants; and as nearly
everybody had long before gone to bed, the victor was not received with
any great acclaim; at least the factory whistles were not blown, nor the
church bells rung. But a few of the faithful scouts, who were bound to
make a night of it, had waited up at headquarters; and these fellows
gave three hearty cheers when they saw the long-legged Lil Artha step
stiffly from the leading car.

When, on the following night, a regular meeting of the troop was held,
every fellow made sure to be in attendance; for it had been announced
that the several contestants in the great hike, as well as the five who
had gone forth on bicycles and motorcycles, intended giving a detailed
report of what adventures had happened on the way; and it was expected
that there would be some stories worth listening to.

The indignation of the boys was intense when they heard how those
Fairfield four had tried to block Lil Artha's game and, by forcing him
to ride, render his claim to be a contestant under the rules null and

"But listen, fellows," said Elmer, who presided in place of the scout
master, called out of town on sudden business; "don't be too quick to
blame the Boy Scouts of Fairfield for that rascally piece of business.
Matt Tubbs called me up on the phone this afternoon and wanted me to
express the indignation of himself and his comrades over the matter. He
declared that they had not the faintest indication of the affair; and
that it was engineered entirely by some 'outcasts,' who, having declined
to subscribe to the twelve cardinal principles of the new movement, were
doing everything in their power to wreck the troop over there."

"Well, they won't succeed, that's all," declared Lil Artha, confidently;
"because my father says he knows that the best people of both Fairfield
and Cramertown are just daft over the change that has taken place among
the boys there ever since the scouts were organized, and that they mean
to stand back of the movement through thick and thin. They say the
organization of the scouts was the finest thing that ever happened to

"And, fellows," continued Elmer, "I think that on the strength of this,
not to speak of Felix saying he would have refused to accept a tainted
title if he had won after Lil Artha was kidnaped, we ought to give our
fellow scouts over there a cheer. Yes, and send them a letter
congratulating them on the new spirit of fairness that has sprung up
among them."

It was put in the form of a motion, and carried unanimously. So three
cheers and a tiger were given with a will; and later on the letter was
written, which Elmer himself promised to deliver to Matt Tubbs, the loan
of that fine motorcycle still holding good.

And this, then, was the way the great hike went through. Lil Artha, of
course, was the pride of the troop for his fine work; but the other
fellows who had done the best they knew how were not forgotten in the
chronicles of the event, as written in the log book of the secretary.

The only serious accident of the affair was the sprain which Henry Cobb
had been unfortunate enough to receive, and which was likely to make him
limp for many weeks. But it had afforded a tremendous amount of fun, and
at the same time proved that the fact of a boy belonging to the scouts
need not detract in the least from his manly qualities.

Vacation was now nearly at an end, and presently the scouts would be
taking up their school duties for the new year. The summer that had
passed had really been the most delightful one in all their experience;
and they looked forward hopefully to other good times ahead, when, as
scouts, they might be given the privilege of learning many of the
secrets of Nature and of building up sturdy and manly characters under
the influence of the splendid rules governing the organization.

But there was one grumbler out of the number starting out for Little
Falls, and this was Nat. He never could get entirely over the cruel fate
that had allowed those trapped plotters to get off "so easy" and was
often heard to mutter that if Elmer had not happened to be along there
might have been a different story to tell. But like a lot of fellows,
Nat's "bark was more savage than his bite," and perhaps, after all, had
he been allowed his own sweet way, he might have remembered how he had
faithfully promised not to harbor the spirit of revenge when he signed
the roster of the Hickory Ridge Boy Scouts' troop.


_The next story of this Series (Number Six), which can be found on sale
everywhere, is called "The Hickory Ridge Boy Scouts' Endurance Test; or,
How Clear Grit Won the Day."_




    Wild Animals of the United States }
    Tracking                          } in Number I.


    Trees and Wild Flowers of the United States in Number II.


    Reptiles of the United States in Number III.


    Fishes of the United States in Number IV.


    Insects of the United States in Number V.


    Birds of the United States in Number VI.



Insects are the most abundant of the animal kingdom. They are classified
principally by the nature of their wings. Dr. Sharp, an authority on
Entomology, recognizes but nine orders:

    1. Aptera.
    2. Orthoptera.
    3. Neuroptera.
    4. Hymenoptera.
    5. Coleoptera.
    6. Lepidoptera.
    7. Diptera.
    8. Thysanoptera.
    9. Hemiptera.

Many useful products are obtained from insects. From them we get our
silk, honey and cochineal, and they help to fertilize our flowers. On
the other hand, many are detrimental to agriculture and health.


These are primitive insects without wings. The Campodea, a small insect,
belongs to this order. Another example is the "Silverfish," which is
found in receptacles holding sugar, starch, etc., in and about unclean
bakeshops and kitchens. They are known principally in houses of the
Southern States, especially in damp places.


These are the straight-winged insects. They have four wings, the front
pair being usually leathery and smaller than the hind pair.

Here belong the Grasshoppers, Katydids and Crickets. Cockroaches,
Walking-sticks, Leaf insects, Praying Mantis also belong to this order.


Most of the Cockroaches are nocturnal. It is said that their food is
dead animal matter. The kinds of Cockroaches found in the house are the
American Cockroach, Croton-bug and the Black Beetle. Apparently they eat
anything, animal or vegetable, and are great pests in ill-kept houses,
especially where moisture is plentiful. The name "Croton-bug" is applied
to the smaller sort, it having made its appearance about the time when
Croton water was first used in New York City. They show a strong
distaste to light and are fond of warmth. The eggs are laid in capsules.


This family are insects most destructive to crops. The antennas are
short, the hind legs large and strong, giving them their jumping power.
The most injurious of these is the migratory locust. During the years
1874 to 1876 this insect, it is said, did more than $200,000,000 damage
to crops in four States of the Union. Every country boy knows the
crackling sound made by these grasshoppers in their flight. Their "song"
is made by the scraping of the legs against their wings. Locusts swarm
and are not particular as to the kind of vegetable matter which they
eat; anything green which they chance upon is devoured. The red-legged
grasshopper is the one most common in the Eastern States in late summer.

The true or green grasshoppers have long horns, are much softer in body
and "sing" more than their cousins of the locust family. The "Katydids"
belong here.


[Illustration: PRAYING MANTIS.]

Crickets are closely related to the green grasshoppers. They have long
antennae. The Mole Cricket burrows in the earth, as its name implies,
digging with its powerful forelegs. The black Field Cricket lives in
small burrows in fields and pastures. The Crickets are musical and
together with their cousins of this family swell the insect chorus of
our summer nights.

A peculiar insect belonging to this family is popularly known as the
Walking-stick; in motion it does not look unlike a twig moving about.
Its body is long and slender. In the tropics this family has many forms
which so closely resemble the leaves, and even flowers of plants and
trees, as to fool not only the casual but the close observer.

Another peculiar insect is the Praying Mantis; this name has been given
them because of the position which they take, the legs being held as
though in prayer. They are found in the Southern States and are regarded
with superstitious awe by the ignorant.


These are the net-veined winged insects; the Dragon flies, Mayflies,
Caddis-flies belong in this order.


The Dobson is one of the most curious insects in this order. It is
generally known as the hellgrammite, although it has probably more
popular names than any other insect and some are very peculiar, for
instance, Conniption-bugs, Goggle-goy, Flip-flaps, Ho Jacks,
Snake-doctor. It is a large insect with strong-biting mouth, living in
its larval form in water.


These are found in the Western States and prey vigorously upon other
insects and render themselves especially important to the farmer of the
far West because of their ravages upon the Coddling Moth, which is the
special enemy of apple trees.

[Illustration: WALKING-STICKS.]


The Ant Lion digs a little pit in loose sand and buries itself therein
with the exception of its head. Into this trap fall small insects on
which it feeds. After the victim is sucked dry the remains are thrown
out of the pit.


These insects are also known as "Horse-stingers" and "Devil's
Darning-needles," and many superstitious beliefs are held in regard to
them, although they are perfectly harmless. Many ignorant people still
hold them capable of sewing up bad boys' ears. The early part of their
existence is spent in the water. They prey upon flies, mosquitoes and
small insects. In the wings of these flies are often beautiful colors.
They frequent stagnant water. The Kingbird favors them as a diet.


The Mayflies or Shadflies, like the Dragonflies, spend their infancy
under water feeding upon vegetables and primitive forms of animal life.
Their scientific name is Ephemerida, coined from the Greek word meaning
a day. They were given this name because of their short life. Great
quantities of the larvæ are eaten by fish.


What observing country boy has not seen the queer-looking Caddis worms
in the brooks and their curious larva cases. Put them in your aquarium,
for they are interesting to watch and study. Their wings are more or
less covered with hair and this gives them a moth-like appearance. They
frequent the shady margins of streams. The larvæ cases are made of
leaves, bits of sticks, sand, shells, etc., fastened by silk which the
caddis worm spins. These cases protect them from fishes and preying

[Illustration: DRAGON FLIES.]


The Hymenoptera is an order of insects of high rank containing the Bees,
Ants, Wasps and Gallflies. Dr. Leland O. Howard, Chief of the Division
of Entomology in the United States Department of Agriculture, says that
this order "comprises nearly 30,000 described species; but the enormous
number of undescribed species, particularly of the smaller parasitic
forms inhabiting tropical regions and other out-of-the-way localities,
would probably swell this number to more than 300,000. To indicate the
work still to be done in this order, it is safe to say that a day's
collecting in Central Park, New York, almost under the windows of the
great American Museum of Natural History, or in Logan Square,
Philadelphia, within 200 yards of the Academy of Natural Sciences, would
result in the capture of a number of species new to science." Most
remarkable are the insects of this order for their seeming intelligence
and the wonderful habits and methods in their interesting colony lives.

[Illustration: MODERN BEE-HIVE]

[Illustration: QUEEN BEE]


Bees are distinguished from Wasps and Ants by their hairy bodies. The
common hive bee is an insect most important to mankind, and bee-keeping,
properly conducted, is a profitable occupation. Here is a chance for boy
scouts to win money and laurels. In early summer the bees "swarm." The
bee-keeper watches for signs of this and knows that when there is an
unusual restlessness among them and the workers become less attentive to
their regular duties, "swarming" may be expected. Suddenly more than
half the workers, with the queen of the hive, leave the old home and fly
to a new place where they "swarm." A second or third swarm sometimes
leave the hive, each with their respective queen. The first, however,
is always the most important. When hived they climb to the roof and hang
in a mass for often a day. The wax taken from the old hive is kneaded
and the foundation of the new honeycomb started. As soon as the workers
finish cells, the queen lays eggs in them. These hatch into maggot-like
baby bees which have to be fed and taken care of. The worker must now
forage for pollen or "beebread" and nectar from flowers. The nectar they
carry in their "honey-bags" and change it into honey. The inside workers
feed the youngsters, build the comb and clean house, even ventilating it
by fanning the air with their wings. In the hives in the swarming are
drones who do no work. They are permitted to live and feed on the stores
until this season is over, then they are relentlessly killed by the
workers. Bees were kept for their product by the Egyptians.

The Honey Bee was imported from Europe and is not a native of this
country. The Cuckoo Bees are so called because of their habits of living
in the nests of other bees. They apparently live there in friendly
relations with the rightful occupants of the hives.

The Carpenter Bees; these insects are so called because of their habit
of boring into the stems of plants. They line their cells with silky
membrane and build mud partitions. The larger forms of these bees bore
into tree trunks and lumber, and even the timber of buildings.

Mason Bees build earthen cells of sand, earth, etc., glued together.
Another group of these cut pieces from leaves with which to form their

[Illustration: SECTION OF CELLS]

[Illustration: STRAW-HIVE]

The Bumble Bees; Western farm boys have invented a method or robbing
bumble bees' nests. They take a gallon or two-gallon jug partly filled
with water and place it near the nest. They then beat the nest and
retire to a distance. The bees swarm out of the nest in their attempt
to find the guilty disturber. The jug attracts their attention; they fly
to it and the beating of their wings over the mouth of the jug causes a
roar which attracts the bees and causes them to fly at the mouth and
drop into it. The noise of those inside increases the attraction and
finally all the bees are inside. After all the bees are thus disposed of
the robbing of the nest is then a safe matter.


The wasps' bodies are less hairy than the bees'. Some of the wasps live
solitary lives and other groups colonize. The former build their nests
in a burrow or attach them to trees. These nests are supplied by the
mother wasp with animal food. The social wasp includes the paper-making
varieties and the hornets. The habits of both are similar. The nest is
never used more than one season. In India it is said that there is a
variety that builds a nest reaching a length of several feet. The
hornets suspend large, round nests often a foot in diameter from tree

The Mason Wasps build their nests of mud under outhouses, roofs, on
rocks and trees. The sting of these insects, especially that of the
hornet, is severe, but they do not sting unless disturbed; then they
display great anger and will follow the disturber for a long distance.
Although they do considerable damage to fruit they are also helpful as
destroyers of insect life.


They capture and store in their cells a great variety of insects,
spiders, flies and plant-lice. Certain members of this group of insects
burrow into the earth and conceal their nests by inserting a stone over
which they scrape earth. When the prey is taken the insect is carried
into the burrow and the entrance to it is again closed. Dr. S. W.
Williston, writing of this insect, states that the wasp has been
observed to "use a stone as a tamping-iron to pack the earth into the
mouth of the burrow." He feared, he says, to publish this observation
because he thought he would not be believed. It is also said by
observers of these wasps that each insect seems to have distinct
individuality, for instance, some are careless, some are industrious,
some scrupulously painstaking. One entomologist tells of a method used
by a wasp in capturing a certain spider: the wasp would entangle itself
in the spider's web and the latter would dart out from her hiding place;
the wasp would then easily disengage herself from the web and follow the
spider to its hiding place. The Cicada often becomes prey of the wasp
and its song suddenly ceases as it is quickly stung into insensibility.
If in a struggle the two fall to the ground, the wasp drags the Cicada
up a tree until she reaches a height from which she can fly downward to
her storehouse. The colony wasps are the paper-making insects, their
nests being made from woodpulp and woodfiber secured from old fences and
unpainted woodwork which they mix with saliva and form into a pulp with
which they build their nests.

[Illustration: CICADA.]


[Illustration: FEEDING LARVAE]



The third group in this important order are the ants. They always live
in communities and build nests which are especially devoted to the
purpose of raising their young. The young are fed from the mouth of
the worker ants. A remarkable peculiarity of these insects is their
practice of making slaves. The large red ant often makes raids on other
ants, carrying off their young to their own nests where they are brought
up to perform the work of their masters. They also domesticate
plant-lice, which have on that account been nicknamed "Ant-Cows."
Instances are related where beetles have been found in ant nests; they
are fed by the ants and in case of migration are carried away by them to
their new home. While some of these guests are tolerated because,
perhaps, the ants cannot rid themselves of them and others are
parasites, some seem to be of the nature of pets. The black ants build
mountain-like nests, sometimes reaching three feet in height; in these
nests sometimes forty or fifty species of ants have been found.


All the members of this family produce galls. In the spring the insect
breaks the vegetable tissue by means of her sting and deposits the eggs.
When hatched the young seem to exercise a peculiar influence on the
growing tissue, shaping it into a swelling or gall containing a series
of chambers. Certain of the galls formed on the oak trees were formerly
used in the manufacture of ink and tannin.


These flies attack caterpillars especially and lay their eggs in their
bodies. The young, when hatched, feed upon the unfortunate victim.


The wood-eaters or horn-tails are wood-boring insects living in the
trunks of trees and stems of plants. They are called "horn-tails"
because of the spine at the end of the body. They lay their eggs in
these borings and the young, when hatched, continue to bore their way
through the pith.


The saw-flies saw their way into plant tissue and lay their eggs in the
openings thus made. Many of these flies are very injurious to vegetation
because of this habit. The currant-worm, rose-slug and pear-slug are all
members of this family, and farmers are not on friendly terms with these


This is the order of insects which includes beetles, glowworms,
lady-birds, weevils, cock-chafers, etc. Their chief characteristic is
the hard wing covers. The wings proper are below these. Most of this
order have strong mandibles. The diet of beetles is much varied, but
they are all voracious.

The little lady-birds, about whom the nursery rhyme sings, warning them
to "fly away home," feed upon the scale insects.

The glow-worm derives the first part of its name from its luminosity,
and the second from its worm-like appearance. To this same family belong
a number of other luminous beetles, the name "firefly" being usually

The weevil is a general name for plant-eating beetles, and they not
infrequently cause great destruction to vegetable matter. Certain
weevils are interesting because of their habit of rolling up leaves in
order to construct a shelter for their young. The nut-weevil lays her
eggs in the young nut while it is still soft and its grub bores its way
out in the fall. The cotton-boll weevil has caused great injury to the
cotton crops in the Southern States. It pierces the leaves of the plant
and lays its eggs. The young feed upon the plant. There are also corn
weevils and rice weevils, and still others that attack peas and beans.

The cock-chafers belong to a large group of dark-colored beetles known
as June bugs. They frequently enter light rooms at night, making a loud
buzzing noise. The insect comes out of the ground in the spring and is
very destructive to the foliage of fruit and other trees. Its grubs live
under ground and feed on roots. The chief enemies of the grub are moles
and birds; of the beetles, bats and birds.


The order of Lepidoptera includes the butterflies and moths. Their wings
and body are covered with scales, frequently bright-colored. There are
several stages in the life history of these insects just as there are in
the life history of other insects, but these stages are so pronounced
and the changes so remarkable in this order that it is well here for us
to consider the different steps which nature takes in transforming the
repulsive caterpillar into the beautiful butterfly or moth. The first
stage is the egg, from which is hatched the caterpillar. The
caterpillar, after living its life, spins its cocoon, is transformed
into the chrysalis. The chrysalis in turn eventually becomes the

The milkweed butterflies are large-sized butterflies; the upper surface
of the wings is bright and reddish bordered with black, and the whole
wing is veined heavily with black. The wings are spotted with white; the
caterpillar is bright yellow with black bands. This insect often appears
in large numbers in New Jersey late in the autumn. This particular one
of the milkweed butterflies is called "The Monarch"; a smaller one of
this genus is called "The Queen."

[Illustration: BUTTERFLIES.]

The California long-winged butterfly. The fore wings are brownish-black
blotched with yellow; the hind wings are a dingy orange.

The Dircenna. The fore wings of this butterfly are grayish-brown with
transparent spots; the hind wings are more yellowish in color.

The Cliff Fritillary. The upper side of this butterfly is bright
tawny-brown spotted with black; the hind wings have a black border
spotted with the same color as the wings. The under side of the fore
wings is orange. The caterpillar feeds upon the passion flower of the
Southern states. It is found from southern Virginia westward to Arizona
and California.

The Regal Fritillary. The upper side of the fore wings is a bright
brown, spotted and blotched with cream color and black; the upper side
of the hind wings is black with cream-colored spots. The caterpillar is
large, nearly two inches long; black with stripes and bands of
reddish-orange. There are six rows of spines. The caterpillar feeds on
violets and does not appear in the daytime. This is a beautiful
butterfly and is found from Maine to Nebraska, frequenting the borders
of woodlands.

The Diana. Both wings are a dark brown with wide border of dark orange
spotted with brown spots. It is found in the Virginias, Carolinas,
Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky.

The Silver-bordered Fritillary. This is a small butterfly ranging over
most of the northern part of the United States. The fore wings on the
under side are spotted at the margin with silver spots.

The Baltimore. Upper side black bordered with a row of red spots
followed by three rows of yellow spots on the fore wings and two rows on
the hind wings. It is found in colonies in swamps, in the northern
parts of the United States and Canada.

The Question Sign. This butterfly is easily determined by its large
size; the wings are peculiarly shaped; it is bright brown on the upper
side, spotted but edged with darker brown and pale blue. This is a
common butterfly of the Middle States and is often found in the early

The Red Admiral. This is a common butterfly found throughout North
America. It derives its name from the red on its fore wings and the red
border on its hind wings.

The Thistle Butterfly. Wherever thistles grow may be found "The Painted
Lady," and Dr. V. J. Holland in his Butterfly Books says, "This is
undoubtedly the most widely distributed of well-known butterflies. It is
found in almost all regions of the earth and in many tropical lands in
both hemispheres." The food plants of the caterpillar are thistles.

The Buckeye. On both the upper and lower sides of the fore and hind
wings are eye-like spots. It is a common butterfly in the South, but is
occasionally found as far North as New England. These butterflies will
fight other passing butterflies.

The Painted Purple Butterfly is easily distinguished because of its
broad white bands across both wings.

The Blue Butterflies, the Copper Butterflies and the Hair-streaked
Butterflies are small insects, many of which are characterized by the
bright blue of the upper side of the wings; in other forms the copper
color prevails. Hair-streaked Butterflies often have small tails on
their horned wings.

The Sulphur Butterflies and Whites are medium-sized or small
butterflies, white or yellow in color, having dark edgings. The common
white butterfly is easily classified by its pure-white color of the
under-side white wings.

The Cabbage Butterfly is a common insect familiar to all. Much good
sauerkraut material is spoiled by its ravages.

Orange Tipped Butterflies. This is a large species of pretty

The Swallow-tail Butterflies are generally large butterflies with the
hind wings tailed.

The Ajax is one of the most beautiful of the butterflies. Its wings are
streaked with brown and white, with red and blue spots near the tail on
the hind wings.

The Tiger Swallow Tail seems to be fond of the woodlands of
Pennsylvania, Virginia, Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. The common
Eastern swallow-tail is bright yellow and black, and found all over the
Atlantic States.

The Wood Nymphs are butterflies of moderate size with eye-like spots on
their wings, the wings being tawny brown or gray.

We have endeavored to give our boy readers a brief description of some
of the most beautiful and some of the most common butterflies of the
United States. There are thousands more.


The moths are popularly distinguished from butterflies by the belief
that they fly at night; there are, however, numerous exceptions to this
distinction. The antennae of butterflies are blunt; in moths they vary
in form, being rarely shaped like those of the butterfly. Moths are more
numerous than butterflies, and vary as to size and color. Some moths
have been known to reach a size of six or seven inches in width and
attain the most brilliant coloring of all insects.

[Illustration: MOTHS.]

Hawk Moth. This is a large, dull-colored, powerful moth. The
caterpillars are smooth and striped, horned at the rear end. The Death's
Head Moth belongs to the same family, as do also the Oleander Hawk
Moth and the Humming-bird Hawk Moth. The last mentioned is often
mistaken for a humming bird. Caterpillars of this family are destructive
to potato, tomato and tobacco plants. The moths of this family are known
as the Sphinx Moths. The markings on the body of the Death's Head Moth
resemble a skull and crossbone--hence its name. The body is covered with
hair. The fore wings are brown, the hind wings yellow, banded with
black. It makes a squeaking noise and is often found in beehives where
it is attracted by the honey.

The Egger Moths get their name from the peculiar egg-shell-like surface
of their cocoons.

The Lima Moths are among the largest and most beautiful of our moths.
The hind wings have a tail-like appendage. It is pale green in color
with a purple band along the front of the fore wings.


This order includes all the true flies or insects having but two wings.
There is probably no other order of insects that are more injurious to
the health of human beings. The housefly, because of its habits, is a
virulent pest in the spreading of disease and it has been discovered
that certain mosquitoes carry the germs of malarial and yellow fevers.


Up to the year 1900 little had been known about these insects. Since
then it has been discovered that one genus is responsible for the
transfer of malarial fever and another variety is the sole means of the
spreading of yellow fever. Mosquitoes are found in any locality where
stagnant standing water allows them the opportunity to breed. Their
eggs are laid in a flat mass on the surface of the water, and each of
these masses contains from 200 to 400 eggs. The young mosquitoes issue
from the under side of the eggs, coming to the surface frequently to
breathe, which they do by means of a long tube at the end of the body
which is thrust up above the surface of the water. In many localities
boy scouts have been interested in exterminating mosquitoes, the most
successful methods being either the abolition of their breeding places,
the flooding of surfaces of stagnant water with kerosene, or the
introduction of fish into fishless ponds. In a mosquito crusade every
receptacle for standing water must be found and either destroyed or
treated with kerosene.


Midges are small or minute flies; swarms of them are commonly seen in
damp localities in the summer.


Horseflies are unusually abundant in the neighborhood of ponds and

The Robber Flies, or bee-killers, are the hawks of the insect world,
preying upon their victims on the wing. In flying an insect is likely to
become the victim to their sharp little dagger, which they carry in
their beak. It is said that they will frequent a favorite position near
a beehive and make frequent trips back and forth, and hundreds of empty
bodies of bees are found beneath this perch.

The Dancefly is so called because of the up-and-down movement which they
make in their swarms.

The Housefly. These insects are highly injurious to human beings because
of their agency in spreading germs of such diseases as typhoid fever and
Asiatic cholera. It has been discovered recently that germs of
infantile paralysis are conveyed by the housefly.


To this order belong very small insects known as "thrips." They are
found in large numbers in flowers and in the heads of grain,
chrysanthemum, hydrangea, orange-blossom, cabbage leaf, cauliflower,
squash, turnips and other plants.


includes plant-lice, scale insects and bugs proper. One entomologist
says: "If anything were to exterminate the destroyers of hemiptera, we,
ourselves, would probably be starved in the course of a few months," so
harmful are they to vegetation. One of the best-known insects of this
order is the cicada or harvestfly, popularly but wrongly called the
"locust," the term "locust" belonging rightfully to the long-horned
grasshoppers. The body of the cicada is large with a blunt head. At the
end of July and early in August its song may be heard in the treetops.

The queer-shaped treehoppers also belong to this order. When they are
resting upon a twig, it is difficult, except upon close examination, to
distinguish them from a thorn or a natural protuberance of the wood.

The Spittle Insects. After hatching from the egg the young insects live
in little frothy masses like spittle on the stems of plants and grasses.

Scale Insects. Many of the members of this family are very injurious to
fruit trees and other trees. They feed upon the sap.

The Oyster-shell Bark Louse is found particularly upon apple and pear

[Illustration: SCALE INSECTS.]

Plant Lice. These insects prey upon cultivated plants. Huxley computed
that the uninterrupted breeding of ten generations of plant lice from
the single insect would produce a bulk equal to the population of the
Chinese Empire, 500,000,000 of human beings. We have already spoken of
the relations between ants and plant lice; they are often called "Ant
Cows" because of the ant's habit of milking them for the juices which
they exhume.


The "Water Boatmen" may be found swimming on the surface of water. They
often go below the surface, carrying with them a bubble of air which is
held by the hairs of their body. They hibernate in the mud at the bottom
of the water. The eggs of these insects are made into cakes and are
eaten by the Indians.

Another family of water bugs are properly called the "back swimmers"
because of their habit of swimming on their backs. They prey upon other
water insects and even fish. They can sting with their beak.


They have a short, wide body, protruding eyes and toad-like color. They
are found in damp places under the banks of ponds and streams.

The Water Striders are the long-legged insects which run over the
surface of the water with such speed that it is difficult to catch them.

The Cannibal Bugs, the Pirate Bugs, are preying insects which feed upon
other insects whose blood they suck. A species of this insect was
especially abundant in the Eastern States in 1898. Their bites and
blood-sucking habits gave cause to the "kissing-bug" scare to which the
newspapers gave great publicity.


is the name which Professor Comstock has given to insects frequenting
yellow flowers, with which its color agrees and hides it from other
insects visiting the flowers.


is the enemy of vegetables of the pumpkin family and has a distinctly
disagreeable odor.


are small flat bugs which, like the Squash Bug, have a bad odor. One of
this family is still called, in Georgia, "The Abe Lincoln" bug, and in
Texas, "The Third Party" bug.


This is a bug that makes a specialty of corn and grasses as a diet.



    Abe Lincoln Bugs, 175

    Ajax Butterflies, 168

    Ambush Bugs, 175

    Ants, 154, 160, 162

    Ant Lion, 152

    Aptera, 147

    Back Swimmers, 174

    Baltimore Butterfly, 166

    Bee Killers, 171

    Bees, 154-158
      Bumble, 156
      Carpenter, 156
      Cuckoo, 156
      Honey, 156
      Mason, 156

    Beetle, Black, 148

    Blue Butterflies, 167

    Buckeye, 167

    Bugs, 174
      Abe Lincoln, 175
      Ambush, 175
      Cannibal, 174
      Cinch, 175
      June, 164
      Kissing, 175
      Pirate, 174
      Squash, 175
      Stink, 175
      Third Party, 175
      Toad, 174

    Bumblebees, 156

    Butterflies, 164
      Ajax, 168
      Blue, 167
      Cabbage, 168
      California Long-winged, 166
      Copper, 167
      Hair-streaked, 164
      Milkweed, 164
      Orange-tipped, 168
      Painted Purple, 167
      Sulphur, 167
      Swallow-tail, 168
      Thistle, 167
      White, 167

    Cabbage Butterflies, 168

    Caddis Flies, 150, 152

    California Long-winged Butterflies, 166

    Campodea, 147

    Cannibal Bugs, 174

    Carpenter Bees, 156

    Cicada, 160, 172

    Cinch Bugs, 175

    Cliff Fritillary, 166

    Cockchafers, 163

    Cockroaches, 148

    Coddling Moth, 150

    Coleoptera, 147, 163

    Conniption Bugs, 150

    Copper Butterflies, 167

    Corn Weevils, 164

    Cotton-boll Weevils, 163

    Crickets, 148, 149

    Cricket Field, 149
      Mole, 149

    Croton Bugs, 148

    Cuckoo Bees, 156

    Currant Worms, 163

    Dance Flies, 171

    Death's Head Moths, 168

    Devil's Darning-needles, 152

    Diana, 166

    Diptera, 147, 170

    Dircenna, 166

    Dobson, 150

    Dragon Flies, 150, 152, 153

    Egger Moths, 168

    Ephemerida, 152

    Field Cricket, 149

    Fire-flies, 163

    Flies, Caddis, 150, 152
      Dance, 171
      Dragon, 150, 152, 153
      Fire, 163
      Gall, 154, 162
      Harvest, 172
      Horse, 171
      House, 171
      Ichneumon, 162
      May, 150, 152
      Robber, 171
      Saw, 163
      Shad, 152
      Snake, 150

    Flip-flaps, 150

    Fritillary, Cliff, 166
      Regal, 166
      Silver-bordered, 166

    Gall Flies, 154, 162

    Glow Worms, 163

    Goggle-goy, 150

    Grasshoppers, 148
      Red-legged, 149

    Hair-streaked Butterflies, 164

    Harvest Flies, 172

    Hawk Moth, 168

    Hellgrammite, 150

    Hemiptera, 147, 172

    Ho-Jack, 150

    Honey Bee, 156

    Horn Tails, 162

    Hornet, 158

    Horse Flies, 171

    Horse Stingers, 152

    House Flies, 171

    Hymenoptera, 147, 154

    Ichneumon Flies, 162

    June Bugs, 164

    Katydids, 148

    Kissing Bugs, 175

    Lady Birds, 163

    Leaf Insects, 148

    Lepidoptera, 147, 164

    Lice, Plant, 174

    Locusts, 148

    Louse, Oyster Shell Bark, 172

    Luna Moth, 170

    Mason Bees, 156
      Wasps, 158

    May Flies, 150, 152

    Midges, 171

    Milkweed Butterflies, 164

    Mole Cricket, 149

    Monarch Butterflies, 164

    Mosquitoes, 170

    Moths, 168-170
      Coddling, 150
      Death's Head, 168
      Egger, 168
      Hawk, 168
      Luna, 170
      Sphinx, 170

    Neuroptera, 147, 150

    Nut Weevils, 163

    Orthoptera, 147, 148

    Oyster Shell Bark Louse, 172

    Painted Purple Butterflies, 167

    Pear Slugs, 163

    Pirate Bugs, 174

    Plant Lice, 174

    Praying Mantis, 148, 149, 150

    Queen Butterflies, 164

    Question Sign Butterflies, 167

    Red Admiral Butterflies, 167

    Red-legged Grasshoppers, 149

    Regal Fritillary, 166

    Rice Weevils, 164

    Robber Flies, 171

    Rose-slugs, 163

    Saw Flies, 163

    Scale Insects, 171, 173

    Shad Flies, 152

    Silver-bordered Fritillary, 166

    Sulphur Butterflies, 167

    Silverfish, 147

    Slugs, Pear, 163

    Slugs, Rose, 163

    Snake-doctor, 150

    Snake Flies, 150

    Sphinx Moth, 170

    Spittle Insects, 172

    Squash Bugs, 175

    Stink Bugs, 175

    Swallow-tail Butterflies, 168
      Tiger, 168

    Third Party Bugs, 175

    Thistle Butterflies, 167

    Thysanoptera, 147, 171

    Tiger Swallow-tail, 168

    Toad Bugs, 174

    Treehoppers, 172

    Walking Sticks, 148, 150, 151

    Wasps, 154, 158, 159
      Mason, 158

    Water Boatmen, 174
      Striders, 174

    Weevils, 163
      Corn, 163
      Cotton Boll, 163
      Nut, 163
      Rice, 164

    White Butterflies, 167

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Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected. Archaic spelling was retained
in words such as "kidnaped" and "pease."

First advertising page, "Chenoweth" changed to "Chenowith" to match
actual book usage (Elmer Chenowith, a lad from)

Page 29, "me" changed to "we" (what we might do)

Page 30, "every" changed to "very" (very morning when)

Page 78, "cherry" changed to "cheery" (a cheery word)

Page 78, "completly" changed to "completely" (he was completely)

Page 110, "undertsand" changed to "Understand" ("I understand," came

Page 127, "comfusion" changed to "confusion" (was some little confusion)

Page 140, "spent" changed to "spend" (should spend the night)

Page 142, "thing" changed to "think" (I think that on)

Page 159, word "a" added to text (tells of a method)

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