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Title: When Scout Meets Scout - or, The Aeroplane Spy
Author: Sayler, H. L. (Harry Lincoln)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "When Scout Meets Scout - or, The Aeroplane Spy" ***

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                       The Aeroplane Boys Series

                        When Scout Meets Scout


                           The Aeroplane Spy



 The
 Aeroplane Boys Series

 _By_ ASHTON LAMAR


  IN THE CLOUDS FOR UNCLE SAM
  Or, Morey Marshall of the Signal Corps

  THE STOLEN AEROPLANE
  Or, How Bud Wilson Made Good

  THE AEROPLANE EXPRESS
  Or, The Boy Aeronaut’s Grit

  THE BOY AERONAUTS’ CLUB
  Or, Flying for Fun

  A CRUISE IN THE SKY
  Or, The Legend of the Great Pink Pearl

  BATTLING THE BIGHORN
  Or, The Aeroplane in the Rockies

  WHEN SCOUT MEETS SCOUT
  Or, The Aeroplane Spy

FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS IN EACH BOOK

_Price, 60 Cents_

 Publishers    The Reilly & Britton Co.    Chicago



[Illustration: CAPTURE OF THE TIGER.]



                                 When
                           Scout Meets Scout


                           The Aeroplane Spy


                                  BY
                             ASHTON LAMAR


              [Illustration: _The AEROPLANE BOYS SERIES_
                         REG. U. S. PAT. OFF.]


                    Illustrated by S. H. Riesenberg


                       The Reilly & Britton Co.
                                Chicago



                            COPYRIGHT, 1912
                                  by
                       THE REILLY & BRITTON CO.
                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


                        WHEN SCOUT MEETS SCOUT



CONTENTS


 CHAP.                                           PAGE
    I A STORM CLOUD GATHERS                         9
   II AN EMISSARY FROM THE ENEMY                   22
  III THE BATTLE AT THE OLD SYCAMORE               35
   IV THE BITTER FRUITS OF DEFEAT                  49
    V MR. TREVOR’S MYSTERIOUS INVITATION           61
   VI WHAT CAME OUT OF A TEA PARTY                 73
  VII ARTHUR’S DEAL WITH A CIRCUS HAND             88
 VIII AN AFTERNOON AT THE CIRCUS                  102
   IX THE CIRCUS LOSES ITS AVIATOR                118
    X THE BOY SCOUTS’ FIRST SALUTE                133
   XI THE “COYOTES” INVADE ELM STREET             147
  XII THE CASK IN THE RIVER                       161
 XIII MIDNIGHT MARAUDERS                          175
  XIV MARSHAL WALTER MAKES A CAPTURE AT LAST      189
   XV GOOSETOWN’S PRODIGAL SONS                   202
  XVI WHEN SCOUT MEETS SCOUT                      216
 XVII THE AEROPLANE SPY                           232



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


 The Capture of the Tiger        _Frontispiece_

 Playing at War                             92

 The Mysterious Cask                       164

 Signaling the “Aeroplane Spy”             244



 When Scout Meets Scout
 OR
 The Aeroplane Spy



CHAPTER I

A STORM CLOUD GATHERS


When Arthur Trevor caught the flying machine fever and organized the
“Young Aviators,” neither he nor the other boys who joined the club
meant to do anything but make toy aeroplanes. There was certainly no
reason for them to foresee that their first tournament was to turn the
young aviators into Boy Scouts, and in the end, into real Boy Scout
Aviators owning a practical aeroplane. But there were signs from the
first that the “Goosetown gang” was going to make trouble for the “Elm
Street boys.” The beginning of everything and the clash between the
“Goosetown gang” and the “Elm Street boys” was in this wise:

Arthur Trevor’s father was a lawyer. Like the parents of most of
Art’s companions, he lived in the best part of Scottsville. Here, on
Elm Street, the trees were large; the residences were of brick, with
wide porches; gardeners saw to the lawns, and nearly every home had
a new automobile garage. Therefore, the boys living here――although
they thought themselves neither better nor worse than other boys――were
usually known as the “Swells” or the “Elm Street boys.” As a matter of
fact they were just as freckled of face, as much opposed to “dressing
up,” as full of boy ambitions and with nicknames just as outlandish as
any Goosetown kid.

But the Goosetown boys did not take that view of things. In Goosetown
there were no automobiles. Houses were decorated with “lady finger”
vines. While there were many gardens, these were devoted mainly to
cabbages and tomatoes. If the lads living here had taken more interest
in their homes and less in playing hooky they might have felt less
bitter toward their supposed rivals. They came to understand this in
time, too, but this was not until the Boy Scout movement swept through
Scottsville.

Although the two crowds did not mix, and seldom came in contact,
in some mysterious boy way each contrived to keep well advised of
the doings of the other. For instance, Art Trevor, Frank Ware, Sam
Addington and Colfax Craighead, although busy making aeroplanes in the
loft of the Trevor garage, were able to discuss the latest Goosetown
gossip――how the gang playing cards under the big sycamore beyond the
railroad bridge had quarreled with Nick Apthorp because he broke a
bottle of beer, and had ducked him below the river dam. This news had
become gossip because Nick’s head had come in contact with a submerged
log and he had been rescued barely in time to escape drowning.

On the other hand, the latest bit of news from Elm Street to reach
Goosetown created a real sensation. Nick Apthorp, who had astonished
his Goosetown gang-mates by violating precedent and doing several
hours’ actual work (he had accepted an afternoon’s job of distributing
free samples of soap in the Elm Street district) was partly excused by
his associates when he turned over to them a hand-printed circular.
This he had stolen from the door of the Trevor garage. With the
circular and some of the perfumed soap that had been entrusted to him,
of which he had appropriated half, Nick somewhat placated his jeering
gang-associates.

“Well, I guess there’ll be somethin’ doin’ now!” chuckled Mart Clare.
“An’ shyin’ their keester right into our own bailiwick, too. What d’ye
think o’ that?”

“Rich!” chuckled Jimmy Compton. “A gran’ show free gratis fur nothin’.
Don’t fergit the day an’ date!”

“They must be achin’ fur trouble,” suggested Henry or “Hank” Milleson.
“I reckon if we went over to Elm Street fur a little game o’ poker
they’d put the police on us. And fur them swells to be a-plannin’ to
come over to Sycamore Pasture” (Hank called it “paster”) “to pull off
a toy airyplane show, don’t mean nothin’ but defyin’ us. Ever’ one of
’em, from little Artie Trevor down to Coldslaw Bighead knows that. But
say, kiddos,” went on Hank as he paused in the shuffling of a deck of
greasy cards, for several of the gang were whiling away the sleepy June
afternoon in the shade of the same big sycamore, “I got a hunch. Them
kids are wise. They’re on. They ain’t comin’ over here ’less they’re
fixed fur trouble. I’ll bet you they got somethin’ up their sleeves.
An’ I’ll say this: Artie an’ his friends ain’t no milksops, ef they
do run to makin’ toys. They ain’t got no right to come here a-buttin’
in, but ef they do, an’ it comes to a show-down who’s boss, an’ I got
anything to do with the dispute, I ain’t a-goin’ to figure on puttin’
anybody down fur the count by tappin’ him on the wrist.”

“It’d be a crime to do it,” sneered Jimmy Compton, whose only activity,
aside from flipping trains and fishing occasionally, was the collection
and delivery of linen that his widowed mother washed. “I’ll show you
what I think o’ them swells when I meet ’em. Meanwhile, here’s my
sentiments.”

As he spoke, Jimmy turned from the card-playing group squatted on the
grass, and without rising, took from his mouth a quid of tobacco and
contemptuously flung it at the near-by sycamore. There it squashed
against the circular that Nick Apthorp had stolen from Trevor’s garage.
This, in derision, had been hung against the tree trunk.

The poster, the cause of the gang’s resentful comment, made this
announcement:

                       FIRST MONTHLY TOURNAMENT
                          YOUNG AVIATORS CLUB

                       Toy Aeroplane Flying For
                        Distance and Altitude,
                        Sycamore Tree Pasture,
                       Saturday 2 P. M. Prizes.

                            ADMISSION FREE

                       Arthur Trevor, President.

Jim Compton’s moist quid, for which he had now substituted a cigarette
borrowed from Matt Branson, splattered against the words “Free
Admission.”

“I reckon that’s about right,” yawned Matt. “’Cause there ain’t goin’
to be no _free_ admission. I got a notion to be doorkeeper an’ collect
a black eye ur a punched nose from ever’ one ’at can’t give me the high
sign.”

“Well,” snorted Hank Milleson, resuming the shuffling of the dog-eared
cards. “All I got to say is: ‘Look out fur your change.’ Some of them
guys may be shifty with their mitts. Take little Artie himself! When a
kid can do a high-jump o’ nearly five feet he might be handy with his
fists too.”

“I’ll jump him in the drink,” sneered Compton lazily, as he nodded
toward the sleepy Green River flowing near by. “An’ I’ll take mama’s
pet’s toys frum him while I’m doin’ it――don’t fergit it.”

“I won’t,” replied Hank significantly. “Saturday’s only day after
to-morrow. They won’t be no time to fergit. We all heered what you
said.”

“Mebbe you think I can’t!” retorted Compton as he shot a volume of
cigarette smoke through his sun-blistered nose, and straightened
himself.

“Sure you kin. You kin always tell what you’re a-going to do. Go on.
Blow yourself up with brag.”

“Cheese it, kids. Cut it out! Don’t start nothin’,” shouted Mart Clare.
“Come on, I’ve got a good hand.”

Jimmy glared at Hank but he seemed glad enough to drop the argument.

“If you think I’m braggin’, wait till Saturday,” was his only response.

“I will,” answered Hank with a new chuckle as he finished the deal of
the cards. “But take it from me, Jimmy, when you start little Artie
a-jumpin, get out from under. Don’t let him come down on top o’ you.”

“Come off――come off,” yawned Nick Apthorp as he threw his cards
towards the next dealer and reached for a string attached to a rotten
log against which he had been leaning. “Mebbe this’ll stop the rag
chewin’,” and he proceeded to pull on the string, which extended
over the edge of the river bank, at the base of which was the gang’s
swimming hole, into which Jimmy had threatened to make Art Trevor jump.

As a bottle of beer came in sight all animosities seemed forgotten.
Hank Milleson grabbed an empty lard pail. Nick knocked off the top of
the bottle on a stone and the lukewarm fluid was emptied into the pail.

“Fair divvies now,” shouted Compton, and the five young loafers crowded
about the foam-crusted pail like flies around a molasses jug. In such
manner, with few variations, the “Goosetown gang” was accustomed to
pass its afternoons.

Others who were accustomed to meet at times to play cards, drink beer
and drowse away the hours came only on Saturdays and Sundays. Some
of these had light employment in the furniture factories. Like Nick
Apthorp, Matt Branson, Mart Clare, Jimmy Compton and Hank Milleson they
had grown up without schooling, and they knew few pleasures except
those of the young “tough.”

Had the roster of the “Goosetown gang” ever been written, its prominent
members would have been in addition to those named, Job Wilkes, Joe
Andrews, Buck Bluett, Tom Bates, Pete Chester and Tony Cooper. Of all
these the foremost loafer was Hank Milleson. And Hank had a double
distinction; he had already been a prisoner in the Scottsville lock-up,
for disturbing the peace while intoxicated. At that, he was but
seventeen years old. Of the others some were not over twelve years.

Before dark that evening, news of what Jimmy Compton had done reached
Elm Street. Sammy Addington was the one who brought the bulletin to the
Trevor Garage.

“Jim Compton――Carrots――” reported Sammy, his eyes sparkling, “says he’s
goin’ to make you jump in the river,” addressing Art Trevor, who was
busy testing rubber cord.

“Me? In the river?” exclaimed Art in surprise. “What’s gone wrong with
Carrots?”

“They’re all sore,” went on Sammy. “Nick Apthorp――he’s the guy that
pinched our sign――him and Blowhard Compton an’ the gang all give it
out――an’ they stuck our sign up on the ole sycamore an’ spit on it;
yes that’s what they done,” repeated Sammy rapidly as he saw the news
was sensational. “They spit on it an’ give it out if we go over there
Saturday it’s goin’ to be rough house an’ that you’ll get yours,” he
concluded nodding toward Art.

“They will? Like nothin’!” exclaimed Colly Craighead. “I reckon we can
raise as many guys as they can.”

“Anyway,” broke in Art――but thoughtfully――“we’ll have to go ahead now.
We can’t back water, can we, kids?”

Two more of the young aviators were present, Frank or “Wart” Ware as he
was known, and Alexander Conyers, usually known as Connie.

“Not on your life,” shouted Wart.

But Connie was not quite so sure. Connie, next to Art in age, was
perhaps the strongest of all the Elm Street crowd, and somewhat
strangely, usually the slowest to get into trouble.

“That’s a tough mob over there,” he ventured at last. “Kid to kid I
think they’ve got us outclassed. We’ll save a lot of trouble by goin’
some other place.”

“But it’s the best open ground around town,” argued Art. “Those
fellows don’t own it.”

“But they think they do,” went on Connie. “And I don’t know whether
we’d be able to show ’em they don’t.”

“Maybe we’d better think this thing over,” answered Art after some
thought. “That is, we’d better decide just how we’re to tackle these
fellows. But we’ll pull off our show and it’ll be just where we said it
would be, if I’m the only exhibitor and I get the lickin’ of my life.”

Instantly all the others protested allegiance――Sammy Addington most
vociferously. But it could be seen that a shadow had fallen on the
brilliant program announced for Saturday.

“My father knows the town marshal. We could――”

But that idea went no further. To Art and Conyers and Craighead, Sammy
might as well have suggested that they call on their mothers for
protection. If any hint of the impending embarrassment reached parental
ears all knew that the tournament would be squelched.

“Besides,” argued Colly, “if it’s to come to a show-down at last, we
might as well go up against it and lick ’em or take our medicine. How
do you vote, Connie?”

“Well,” answered the chunky little warrior screwing up his mouth as if
yet in doubt, “I ain’t keen for scraps――if they’re real――an’ I guess
this’d be more’n just makin’ faces――but I’m tired o’ bein’ called a
milksop, whatever that means. If you fellows mean business I reckon you
won’t have to get a search warrant to find me.”

“That settles it,” announced Art. “Sammy, you an’ Colly get out and
round up the kids. Ever’body’s got to know just what’s comin’ off.
We’ll have a special meetin’ o’ the club to-night an’ count noses.”

“Better count ’em before Saturday,” interrupted Connie, “or some of ’em
may look like two.”

“Mebbe,” retorted Art, “but Carrots Compton ain’t big enough to make me
jump in the river. Don’t forget that.”

It was hardly dark before nearly every Elm Street boy had assembled at
the garage. The council of war proceeded without lights and in subdued
voices. In fact a few younger members were too agitated to talk above
a frightened whisper. Early in the meeting George Atkins, nine years
old, and Davy Cooke, who had a withered left arm, were newly sworn
to reveal nothing they had heard, “especially to your fathers and
mothers,” and excused from the bloody conspiracy.

Then, with varying degrees of valor, they signed the following articles
of war: “I hereby give my word of honor that next Saturday I will be
present at the Sycamore Pasture at two o’clock and follow each order
and command of Arthur Trevor, our president, so far as I am able,
and that whatever happens I will not peach.” Then followed the names
of eleven boys,――those named before and Lewis Ashwood, Paul Corbett,
Duncan Easton, Roger Mercer, Sandy Sheldon and Phil Abercrombie.

When Art finally made his way onto the porch where his mother awaited
him, she said:

“Arthur, what was the meeting about? Your tournament?”

“Yes, mother,” responded her son, with a smile, “we’re getting ready to
have quite a time.”

“That’s nice,” replied his mother. “I hope the cleverest boys will win.”

“I reckon they will,” answered Art smiling.



CHAPTER II

AN EMISSARY FROM THE ENEMY


Art Trevor had caught the aeroplane craze early in the spring. In June
it seemed as if every boy in the Elm Street district had gone in for
toy airships and the sport of flying them. The best news stand in the
town had a ready sale for everything that related to aeroplanes, and
Art went so far as to become a regular subscriber to a high-priced
English magazine on aeronautics.

A week after school closed, the Elm Street boy who didn’t own a
collection of toy aeroplanes was the exception. But by this time, toy
machines had begun to pall on the president of the club. After spending
all the money he had in purchasing detailed plans for various toy
machines, Art began to have higher ideas. While his fellow club members
were yet whittling and pasting miniature Bleriot, Wright and Curtiss
fliers, Art was dreaming of a real machine.

How he or the Young Aviators Club might acquire a practical aeroplane
was a problem ever in Art’s mind. There were two reasons why he did not
lay the matter before his father: First, he knew his parent would laugh
at him. Second, he could not if he wanted to, as his father was in
Europe on legal business. Mr. Trevor was not much given to mechanics,
although he was what is called a “boys’ man” and fond of having Art’s
friends about him. Although Mr. Trevor was due to reach home again on
the evening of tournament day, Art had no idea that this would help him
get a real aeroplane.

For one thing, however, Art was grateful. His father was not expected
to reach Scottsville until eight o’clock Saturday evening. Therefore,
Art’s one care was to keep all hint of the impending contest from
his mother’s ears. Friday had been set aside for finishing touches
on machines and for preliminary try-outs. But, somehow, the coming
tournament did not make Friday a very busy work day. As the club
members gathered in the workroom they were received with cautions of
silence into a new council of war.

Alex Conyers had just heard that Sammy Addington’s father owned the
Sycamore Tree Pasture. If that were true the Goosetown gang might be
barred from the premises. The only thing necessary would be to lay the
matter before Mr. Addington, who no doubt would be glad to serve notice
on the loafers to get off his property. Connie called the members
together and excitedly submitted his information.

“Tell father?” exclaimed Sammy Addington. “Not on your tin. He’s wise.
He’d stop the whole thing. Anyway, you can bet I’d be left at home.”

“You ain’t very big, Sammy,” retorted Connie with a laugh, “to be so
eager for gore.”

“I’m just this eager,” exclaimed Sammy as he drew a strange article
from his pocket and, stretching his thumb and fingers through five
holes in the brassy looking object, he struck it soundly on the
workbench.

“What’s that?” asked Art.

“What’s that?” repeated Sammy drawing himself up. “It ain’t a that.
Them’s knuckles――regular knuckles. I borrowed them from our chauffeur.
An’ they’re mainly for Nick Apthorp’s cocoanut.”

Without hesitation Art reached forward and slipped the dreadful weapon
of attack from Sammy’s chubby and clenched hand.

“How’d you like to have a revolver?” he asked sarcastically.

“I ain’t got none,” answered Sammy dejectedly.

Art took the belligerent Sammy by the shoulders and faced him about.

“Do you want to be there?” Art asked.

“Sure,” replied the younger boy.

“Then remember this,” announced Art. “It’s an aeroplane tournament.
Bring your machines and these.” As he concluded he held up his two bare
hands.

Sammy reached for the prohibited article of offense with a crestfallen
air.

“How about notifyin’ the Goosetowners to vacate?” resumed Alex Conyers.

“What for?” asked Art.

“So’s we can hold our meet in peace.”

“And be ‘milksops’?” sneered Art. “I think it’s time to decide this
thing. Mebbe we’ll get licked. But we can be game and take our
trimmin’. I reckon ‘milksops’ don’t do that.”

A murmur of approval arose, enthusiastic on the part of some and less
vigorous in others. Sammy Addington was loudest in commendation. At the
same time he continually felt of another round, hard object in his
trousers pocket――a smooth stone tied in a corner of his handkerchief.
But he did not exhibit this. Plainly, any one――Nick Apthorp or Carrots
Compton――who encountered Sammy on the theory that he was a “mama’s boy”
might have a sudden awakening.

“Then it’s war to the knife?” laughed Connie.

“As far as I’m concerned,” Art answered.

“Me too,” sounded from half a dozen others and so it was agreed.

During the day there were attempts to give serious attention to “tuning
up” the miniature models. Sammy Addington, who usually carried two
machines wherever he went, and whose three-foot _Dart_ (Bleriot model)
had a good chance in that class of machines, was apparently wholly
prepared for the meet. Noticing his idleness Colly Craighead asked him:

“What you going in for, Sammy?”

“Nick Apthorp,” was the instant answer. Then recalling his wits, he
added, “I mean everything, from the three-footers down.”

That evening when the club was holding another meeting Sandy Sheldon
falteringly handed President Trevor this note:

    “Members Young Aveaturs Club, dear sirs.

    “I am sory I cannot attend on the meat to-morrow for I
    have inexcusably to go to the country with my famly in the
    automobeel. Hopping you will excuse me I am respectably
    yours                                       Roger Mercer.”


“What is the pleasure of the members?” asked Art, without trying to
conceal his contempt.

“I move, Mr. President,” exclaimed Wart Ware, “that Roge Mercer be
expelled hereby from this club for keeps for showin’ the white feather.”

A chorus seconded the motion and the president was about to put the
motion when Alex Conyers protested.

“What’s the sense of that?” he asked. “Roge is all right. Mebbe what he
says is true.”

“All in favor of firin’ Roge Mercer out o’ this club say ‘aye,’”
announced Art aggressively.

There was a war of “ayes,” in the midst of which one “no” was heard.
But Alex made no further protest and Roger Mercer’s name was crossed
from the roll.

It is proper to say, as a further historical detail, that little of the
tense excitement that pervaded the Elm Street meeting was to be found
at the Friday session of the “Sycamore Tree” loafers of the Goosetown
gang. Certainly the latter made no preliminary preparations. Aside
from Nick Apthorp and Carrots Compton, who seemed to have private
griefs against any one who might be suspected of being a friend of
Artie Trevor, “the milksop swell,” those who thought anything about the
possible mix-up, considered it largely as a light diversion. All except
Hank Milleson. Hank was not alarmed but he was doubtful.

Saturday morning the Elm Streeters had the unmistakable looks of
conspirators. Their ordinary costumes had given place to old tennis
trousers and shirts――Sammy Addington appeared once in heavy football
shoes which, at his president’s suggestion, he removed before noon.
Nearly every one had some treasured article that he put aside in Art’s
tool box――knives, watch fobs, stick pins and one compass. At noon
the last meal was eaten, and President Trevor checked up his full
squad――not one detained by parental suspicion.

By this time one would have thought the afternoon’s program consisted
of nothing but a prearranged pitched battle. Alex Conyers had to make a
few remarks to dispel this delusion――since President Trevor seemed as
absent-minded as the others.

“Don’t forget,” exclaimed Connie, “that you’ll have to take your
airships if you mean to race ’em. If we have to scrap, we’ll scrap,
but, by jickey, don’t start out as if that’s all you’re a-lookin’
for. Why you haven’t even got the _Dart_,” continued Connie pointing
to Sammy Addington who stood by with two of his smallest and oldest
machines.

“I ain’t a-goin’ to take no risk,” retorted Sammy. “In case we have to
surrender they can have these,” holding up his battered veterans. “But
what’s the use o’ takin’ chances on the _Dart_? I reckon you don’t know
she cost seven dollars!”

“That’s givin’ up before you see the enemy,” laughed Connie.

“Go get the _Dart_,” ordered Trevor instantly. “Be game.”

A suggestion of this sort was all that Sammy needed. At the same time,
he felt again of the rock tied in his handkerchief. This boded no good
to Nick Apthorp.

One of the routes to reach Sycamore Tree Pasture was by the main street
of Scottsville to the north town limits, thence by a rackety, vibrating
suspension bridge across Green River to the “pike” that turned east
along the river. Another, and a more popular way with all the boys,
was by way of the near-by railroad bridge. There was no footway for
pedestrians on this, and the walk over the unprotected, open ties was
therefore dangerous enough to be alluring.

An additional attraction of the smoky old railroad bridge was that one
was apt to meet older acquaintances there, for which reason it was a
favorite resort for boys playing hooky. Here, safely concealed on the
lower crosspieces or hidden on the stone abutments on the upper side
of the bridge, they might smoke forbidden cigarettes in safety. The
railroad bridge was in the territory of the “Goosetown gang.” Boldly
bearding the lions in their den, the aviators decided to approach the
scene of the tournament by this dangerous trail. As usual it was over
Alex Conyers’ protest.

“If you’re afraid,” suggested the valiant young president to Connie,
“why don’t you get your father’s chauffeur and ride over in the
machine?”

“I’m just tellin’ you,” was Connie’s only answer. “But go ahead; I’ll
be with you.”

A little before two o’clock ten boys, ranging in age from twelve to
sixteen years, the charter members of the Elm Street Young Aviators
Club, with President Trevor and Alex Conyers in front, started across
the open ties of the railroad bridge.

Green River, hardly more than a succession of pools, lay along the
north end of Scottsville. The much discussed pasture was a smooth and
closely cropped stretch of land extending from the north end of the
bridge to the old milldam a quarter of a mile to the west.

One glance through the open ironwork of the bridge told the approaching
cohort that the enemy was ahead of them. Only a few hundred yards from
the bridge, on a bank slightly elevated above the river, stood the big
sycamore, the remaining monarch of many others that had fallen and had
been carried away for firewood. Beneath its far-stretching arms lounged
a group of boys.

“How many?” asked Art of Connie.

“Six or seven,” was Connie’s reply. “But don’t worry. The day’s young.”

“We’ll march straight by ’em,” added Art, “and up to where the pasture
is broad and open, ’bout halfway to the dam. Here, fellows,” he went
on, facing his followers, “don’t line up that way, two and two like a
Sunday School parade. Scatter out. That’s one reason these guys give us
the laugh.”

It was difficult to “scatter out” on the narrow railroad track but
the boys did it as well as they could. When the center pier of the
bridge was reached Art and Connie came to a sudden stop, while the
eight boys behind them crowded against them. A freckle-faced lad, broad
of shoulder, with a collarless flannel shirt, barefooted and smoking
a stubby black pipe, had been discovered standing within the truss
uprights. With a peculiar smile he took a puff on his pipe. Art was
about to speak when Connie took his arm and the two leaders started
ahead.

“What’s doin’, kids?” remarked the boy at this move. “Where’s the
party? Picnic?”

“Better come along and see,” retorted Art.

“Is this little Artie an’ his playmates?”

“It is, Flatfoot Hank!” exclaimed Art――for the boy was Hank Milleson,
one of the Goosetown leaders. “Like to meet some of ’em?”

“I been waitin’ here fur you――all of you. Say,” he went on, and now the
banter had gone out of his voice, “youse guys is goin’ over there to
the paster to start somethin’, lookin’ fur trouble, ain’t you?”

“Supposin’ we are?” sneered Art.

“Well, what’s the use o’ that?” went on Hank. “That place kind o’
belongs to us. What’d you pick out our campin’ grounds fur?”

“Because they suited us,” responded Art, red in the face. “What you
goin’ to do about it?”

“Nothin’. Only I thought I’d hang ’round here an’ ast you not to go.”

“I reckon you think we’re scared,” piped a voice. It was Sammy
Addington, doing his best to get to the front.

“I guess you ain’t scared enough,” answered Hank.

“What you gettin’ at, Milleson?” broke in Alex Conyers.

“The boys has agreed,” explained Hank, “if you guys’ll go ’round by the
pike and do your playin’ up by the dam, we’ll start nothin’.”

“Oh, they have, have they?” almost shouted Art. “Well, we’ve agreed
that the whole bunch o’ you are a lot of bluffs. An’ the first loafer
that gets in our path’ll get a swift smash in the jaw.”



CHAPTER III

THE BATTLE AT THE OLD SYCAMORE


As the defiant Trevor rallied his supporters and renewed the march
across the bridge, there was no sign of retaliation on Hank’s face. The
truth is that Hank, so far as his training permitted, had gone out of
his way to do a good turn. It had been a failure. By the time Captain
Trevor reached the end of the bridge, Hank had newly charged his pipe.

“Leastways,” he said to himself as he took the trail of the
aeroplane-laden boys, “I done what I could. I’ll foller along now an’
see what kind o’ front the ginks can put up. An’ there’s a chanst ’at
Carrots may need a little help ’fore he puts over that jumpin’ act he
promised.”

Alex Conyers made a last appeal to Art to stick to the railroad until
it crossed the pike. He tried to argue that this was the natural road
to reach the place where they meant to start their program. If there
was any one in the crowd that approved this change of plans he did not
speak.

“Kids,” exclaimed Art pompously as he gave Connie a look of
impatience――almost of defiance――and pointed straight up the river
toward the old sycamore, “there lies our path.”

“Come on, them ’ats comin’,” shouted another voice and Sammy Addington
sprang forward, scrambling down the steep embankment toward the almost
certain field of battle.

His fellow club members, even to Alex Conyers, fell into his wake. When
a wire fence was reached there was a pause. In the short interval Hank
Milleson joined the party.

“Say, kiddos,” he began anew, apparently in good humor, “how about
comps to the show? If they’s any free passes I’d like to give the gang
an invite.”

“You saw the bill,” exclaimed Conyers, glad of any chance to placate
the enemy. “It says admission free.”

“Free to decent kids, not to bums and loafers,” broke in Art angrily.
“You can’t put that over on us, Flatfoot,” he shouted.

“Say, Artie,” replied Hank slowly. “I guess I’m a loafer, but I ain’t
a bum. Ain’t you gettin’ purty fresh?”

“What you goin’ to do about it?”

“Me? Oh, nothin’――now. But don’t call me no bum. Tain’t nothin’ to call
a kid a ‘sis’ or a ‘milksop.’ But it kind o’ means sumpin’ bad to call
him a bum. A bum’s a feller ’at hangs ’round saloons――or a hobo. I
ain’t that――yet.”

This speech created a sensation among the still panting boys. Even
their impulsive leader flushed. At any other time Art’s sense of
fairness would have made him sorry for his words. Now, afraid of
showing weakness, he made matters worse.

“That kind of stuff ain’t a goin’ to get our goat, Flatfoot,” he
retorted. “Come on, boys!”

In another instant the crowd had worked itself through the fence and
was advancing toward the big tree. For a moment Alex Conyers lingered
behind where Hank Milleson, still smoking his pipe, leaned against a
post.

“You belong to that gang, don’t you?” remarked Hank.

“Yes,” answered Connie.

“You licked Matt Branson once, didn’t you? When Matt was going to
school?”

“He said he had enough,” confessed Connie.

“Well,” added Hank clearing the fence with a bound, “fur the good o’
everybody I think you and me better move along.”

Before Hank and Connie caught the advancing party it had come to a
sudden halt. Seven shiftless, carelessly dressed young idlers who had
been lying under the hollow sycamore had half risen and were sitting
with their knees on their hands. All seemed highly amused. Art Trevor
was standing ahead of his companions. Nick Apthorp, one of the seven,
had been the first to speak.

“Hello kids. What’s doin’?”

“None of your business,” answered Sammy Addington.

“Does your mamas know you’re over here where the bad boys is?” shouted
Job Wilkes with a laugh.

There was no answer except closer set lips. But not one of the
Goosetowners rose to his feet. Hank and Connie coming up, the latter
hurried to Art and whispered: “Come on.” There was a general movement
forward. For a moment it looked as if hostilities would be averted.

But the last remark had sunk deep into young Trevor’s heart. Thrusting
Connie aside he almost ran to the big tree. There, yet besmeared with
Carrots Compton’s tobacco quid, hung the stolen poster. Connie rushed
after the white-faced leader but Art was not to be stopped. Tearing the
poster loose he whirled on the surprised Goosetowners.

“The fellow that did that’s a coward!” shouted Art, his lips trembling.

“I done it,” shouted Carrots Compton. “What――”

Before he could add more Art had slapped the poster, quid and all,
against Carrots’ face. The next instant Carrots was in Hank Milleson’s
arms and Alex Conyers had a close grip on Art.

“Let ’em go, let ’em loose!” shouted a dozen voices.

The struggling four were at once lost in a jam of all the others, each
eager to get close to the would-be combatants. In the first clash,
while the Goosetowners and Elm Streeters resembled a mass of football
players after a tackle, a cry sounded that each boy recognized. There
was a sudden loosening of the tangle and Nick Apthorp, with another
cry, threw his hands to his head. As he drew them back a new howl went
up. His fingers were covered with blood, which was trickling from a cut
on his forehead.

“I’m stabbed,” wailed Nick. “I’m stabbed!”

Hostilities ceased. Even Carrots and Art were released, while Hank and
Connie turned toward the wounded boy. It wasn’t a stab but a bad break
of the skin. Connie even volunteered the use of his handkerchief as a
bandage――there was probably not one in the enemy’s ranks. But, before
it could be applied, and one of Nick’s pals had already rushed down the
river bank to fill the beer can with water, there was a new commotion.

“There he goes! That’s the guy.”

Seventeen pairs of eyes made out Sammy Addington scurrying like a colt
toward the railroad. Sammy had been avenged. He had “got his man.” Nick
Apthorp sprang forward but a new trickle of warm blood stopped him and
there arose new wails about being stabbed.

“I’ll kill him,” moaned Nick sinking to his knees while Hank bound up
his wound.

“Shut up, you boob,” exclaimed Hank. “It’s only a scratch.”

“He stabbed me,” wailed Nick.

“Stabbed nothin’,” sneered Hank. “He got you with a dornick.”

The clashing bodies had moved apart but no truce had been declared.
No one made an attempt to pursue Sammy, who was now on the railroad
bridge and still in motion. Connie yet had hopes of preventing another
clash and was giving his attention to his captain. Trevor was hurling
defiance at Carrots who was pouring forth a volley of profanity.

“That shows ’em up,” broke in Job Wilkes rushing to Carrots’ side.
“Look out! They all got knives.”

“It’s a lie!” shouted Alex Conyers whirling toward Wilkes. “We don’t
want trouble, but if you got to have it you don’t need to holler.”

But Wilkes’ mind was on Art.

“Go get him, Carrots,” he yelled, pushing Compton forward.

“He’s a big bluff. Don’t stand for it.”

Spurred on, Compton made a new rush for Trevor. But something
intervened. It was knotty little Connie’s fist. Carrots always
insisted it wasn’t fair, that he wasn’t fighting Connie. Just the
same, as Carrots lunged past Connie, the latter caught him on the
jaw so cleverly that Carrots dropped. Like a cat Job Wilkes was on
Connie’s back. In a flash the fight was on again with Nick Apthorp on
the side-lines, whimpering and nursing the knob on his head, and Hank
Milleson pawing his way into the center of the fray and yelling for
fair play.

For perhaps five minutes the vicinity resounded with the noises that
accompany boyish fights; grunts, exploding breaths, whimpering, howls,
cries, half in defiance and half in protest, and, with it all the
unmistakable commotion of jarring bodies. Now and then there was the
crack of a blow struck, but not often. Even the bitterest boy battle
rarely reaches the point of serious bodily injury.

Then, when the confusion of cries reached its height and nearly all
were yelling “leggo my hair!” or “he’s bitin’ me!” (even in the
juvenile world an inexcusable barbarism) or “he’s chokin’ me!” the
furious tempest suddenly began to calm. The first drops of blood are
wonderfully quieting.

One of the first to escape from the wriggling mass was Wart Ware. A
sleeve of his shirt was gone, his hat was missing and his nose was
bleeding freely. His fighting spirit was gone but he continued to
struggle in Matt Branson’s neck-hold. At last, his mouth filled with
blood, he yelled “Enough!”

Phil Abercrombie and Lew Ashwood were in no better condition. Buck
Bluett and Mart Clare, both outclassing their opponents, had forced
these “middle-weight” aviators into each other’s arms and were
vigorously pounding their heads together. Phil was yet feebly defiant,
but Lew had reached the point where he only groaned with each new knock.

With the first let-up in hair-pulling and punching noses a quartette
of Elm Streeters made a feeble dash toward the river bank, where not
less than twenty miniature aeroplanes had been deposited on the first
sign of trouble. Colly Craighead, Paul Corbett, Duke Easton and Sandy
Sheldon thought of these treasures apparently at the same time. Boys
who won’t run away from a scrap have a way of suddenly remembering
duties that are instantly imperative.

But Joe Andrews, Tom Bates and Nick Apthorp (who had now rejoined the
combatants) were in close pursuit.

“Head ’em off!” yelled Nick.

Grabbing a tree limb about two feet long he hurled it toward the
fugitives. It struck Colly Craighead on the arm. Before the exhausted
boy could recover himself he had stumbled and fallen on the pile of
aeroplanes.

The three Goosetowners were on him in an instant, trampling on the
delicate models and striking right and left with broken silk-covered
frames. Colly’s friends, in a last hopeless effort, frenzied with the
sickening crack of their wrecked prides, made an attempt to rally. But
it was useless.

Craighead rolled out of the wreckage and, bewildered with pain,
tumbled over the river bank onto a bed of gravel. His three companions
sprang after him. There was a momentary attempt to renew the battle by
throwing gravel and such rocks as they could find. But each knew he was
licked. Their assailants withdrew in contempt and rejoined the struggle
yet in progress between the older boys.

Job Wilkes had apparently taken good advantage of his sneaking attack
on Alex Conyers. When Hank Milleson had managed to pull the others
off the prostrate pair, Wilkes was on Connie’s back with his hands
around the under boy’s throat. Carrots Compton was nursing his jaw and
temporarily out of the mix-up. Art Trevor had plunged to Connie’s aid.

“None o’ that!” roared Hank. “It’s one to one here. You wanted trouble
an’ you got it.”

Without a pause Art swerved his attack to Hank. In an instant the two
leaders were in each other’s arms and in another moment Art was on his
back looking up into Hank’s half-smiling face. But the overconfident
Hank held his opponent too lightly. Art had a smattering of wrestling
knowledge. His face distorted with anger, he shut his eyes for a moment
as if in surrender. As Hank gave him a laughing smack on the cheek
the under boy whirled himself over with a snake-like wriggle and then
shoved himself with a second lightning-like motion to his hands and
knees.

The astonished Hank instantly recognized his danger from a wrestling
standpoint, and threw himself heavily on Art’s back in an effort
to crush him flat again. But the movement was what the “milksop”
anticipated. Hank was quick enough with his body but he failed to duck
his head. Art’s strong arms and legs met the crushing attack and then
in a flash his right arm flew up and clamped Hank’s head in a vice.

There was a first sharp downward jerk of Trevor’s arm and Hank’s head
slipped forward over the under boy’s shoulder. Another yank and Hank’s
neck bones creaked. There was a groan from the boy on top as his heavy
body bowed itself upward to lessen the pain and then, Art’s muscles
quivering and his mouth open, his arm locked itself completely around
Hank’s neck. With the same motion Art’s body bounded upward and the
panting, struggling Hank shot into the air. As the flying body struck
the ground with a crash, Art was up and on his opponent like a cat.

Half stunned, Hank made an effort to clasp Art’s body, but Trevor was
too quick for him. Throwing himself on Milleson’s chest with crushing
force, the Elm Street boy pinned his opponent to the ground and then
“roughed” his head against Hank’s nose.

“That’s enough,” yelled a voice in Art’s ear. “Let him up. You win.”

It was Connie. His own battle had been soon over, although he had not
resorted to the professional tricks his chum had used. Three or four
sound blows on Job’s face and neck had forced an abject surrender.
Carrots Compton and Connie had not joined issues, each pausing to watch
the big fight.

“You done it, Artie,” gasped the almost breathless Hank.

Carrots Compton, carried away by the sight of the clever contest, stood
by in open admiration. As Trevor rose to his feet, his shirt torn,
rents in each knee of his trousers, his hair wet with perspiration, his
muscles yet trembling and his lips quivering with unsatisfied anger, he
caught sight of his avowed enemy.

“Now you red-headed bluff,” shouted Art, “I’m ready for you. There’s
the river you’re goin’ to make me jump in! You big loafer and bum,” he
added, his eyes feverish with anger. “I’ll give you a minute to start
tryin’ or I’ll throw _you_ in.”

There was no escape for Carrots. As Hank scrambled onto his feet a
dozen begrimed, blood-spotted and clothing-torn boys quickly formed a
circle.

“That’s the stuff,” shouted Nick Apthorp, forgetting his own bandaged
head. “Give ’em room. Let ’em scrap it out. A bottle o’ beer on little
Artie,” he added. But there were no takers of his wager. Carrots had
shot forward with head down. But he landed in Hank Milleson’s arms.

“Cheese it, kids,” shouted Hank as he whirled Carrots to his feet. “The
marshal’s comin’.”

One glance toward the railroad bridge revealed the well-known blue
uniform of Marshal Chris Walter. And it was advancing at the old man’s
best pace. Close behind waddled Sammy Addington. By the time Old Chris
reached the big sycamore the only Goosetowners or Elm Streeters to be
seen were those just disappearing above the river dam.



CHAPTER IV

THE BITTER FRUITS OF DEFEAT


When the fugitives had time to take stock, the Elm Streeters decided
that the personal victories of Art and Connie were so completely
overshadowed by the rout of the other boys that the day was
irretrievably lost. Bloody noses and torn clothing were not counted.
But the destruction and loss of the prized aeroplanes was despair
itself.

“They could be arrested,” suggested Colly Craighead, rubbing his
injured arm and still breathing vengeance.

“I’d cut out that kind of talk,” exclaimed Alex Conyers. “Don’t be
sore. Hank Milleson did his best to head you off. You got what you was
tryin’ to give an’ that was enough. Be game.”

“I reckon that’s right,” broke in Art, lying flat on his back. “We
outnumbered ’em an’ we did a little dirty work too. Sammy ought to get
his for usin’ a rock. It kind o’ tickled me though to see the kid hand
it to that big stiff. At that, it wasn’t much worse ’an Job Wilkes
jumpin’ on Connie’s back.”

The Goosetowners had a flat-bottomed skiff moored just above the dam.
All of these boys had jumped into the boat and were already lost to
view behind the Big Willow Bend. The Elm Streeters were recovering
their wind, sprawled on the high bank under the leaning walnut tree
just above the dam. A look-out kept an eye on the marshal, who lingered
for a time at the scene of the fight and then retired, followed by
his informer, Sammy Addington. Sammy would have made an attempt to
rejoin his chums but as he was just as likely to run into the enemy he
discreetly withdrew under convoy of Old Chris.

“I got all the toy aeroplane business I want,” remarked Connie,
ignoring Art’s comment. “It is kind o’ sissy at that.” He was gazing
longingly at the dammed-up stretch of blue water before him. “Let’s go
swimmin’.”

“Last one in’s a nigger baby!” yelled Wart Ware.

There was a whirlwind of flying clothes, shoes and stockings.

“Say,” exclaimed Trevor, “here!” The scurrying boys paused in various
stages of disrobing. “Let’s all throw in our money an’ have a real
aeroplane.”

“A real aeroplane?” came instantly from two or three.

“Two or three thousand dollars!” shouted Alex Conyers, rolling over in
high glee. “Let’s make a steam engine, too.”

“Three thousand dollars nothin’,” snorted Art. “There ain’t a thing
about an aeroplane except the engine us kids can’t make. You know that.”

“Except the engine,” laughed Connie anew. “Why don’t you say ‘we
can――only we can’t’? You mean a glider?”

“I don’t mean anything but what I said,” came back Art resentfully.
“What d’you suppose an engine costs?”

“A Curtiss costs about twelve hundred dollars,” replied Colly Craighead
proudly.

“It does,” answered Art. “But a pack o’ kids don’t need to count on
going for the altitude record or on crossin’ the continent. There’s
a firm in Philadelphia makin’ a four-cylinder, twenty horse power,
air-cooled motor that’s guaranteed to speed up to eighteen hundred
revolutions a minute. An’ it only weighs a hundred pounds.”

“How much?” came in a prompt chorus.

“Only four hundred and ninety dollars,” answered Art emphasizing the
“only.”

“Only!” repeated Alex Conyers raising his arms. “Only! Why don’t you
say ‘only a million’? Where’d this gang ever raise four hundred and
ninety dollars?”

“That ain’t fifty dollars apiece,” argued Art.

“Have you fifty dollars?” retorted Alex.

“I have――a hundred and twelve dollars――right now――in the bank.”

“An’ you couldn’t get a cent of it lessen your pa said so. I see your
father lettin’ you have it――like fun.”

“How much’d the other fixin’s cost?” broke in Wart Ware. “But I ain’t
got no fifty dollars. I had fifteen dollars, though, last Christmas,”
he went on. “But I spent it,” he was forced to add regretfully.

“There ain’t anything else that’d cost much,” began Art anew. “Some
pieces of spruce, an’ some cheap silk, an’ some varnish, an’ some piano
wire, an’ turnbuckles――”

“How about a couple o’ propellers?” asked pessimistic Alex. “They
don’t give ’em away I reckon and most flyin’ machines have ’em.”

“Personally,” announced Art, “I’ve always been in for a single
propeller machine.”

“Well,” conceded Alex with more interest, “a single propeller would cut
down the cost. It’d save on shafting an’ motor connections. Say ’at the
engine cost four hundred and ninety dollars, the propeller twenty-five,
an’ everything else one hundred.”

“A hundred for a little silk an’ wire an’ a few sticks?” snorted Art.
“What are you thinkin’ about?”

“Well,” went on Alex, “say it did. That’s six hundred an’ fifteen
dollars. Let’s hear from the treasurer. What’s in the treasury, Duke?”

Treasurer Duncan Easton, at these words, gasped, grew redder and then
made a wild scramble to locate his clothing.

“Who’s got my pants?” he yelled. “It’s all in my pants.”

“All that prize money?” shouted the president of the club. “That three
dollars and eighty cents?”

The naked treasurer’s only response was a lunge into a heap of
garments out of which he finally extracted the valuable trousers. There
was a swift search of both pockets and then a scared face told the
story.

“’Tain’t gone?” came anxiously from Connie.

“I had to bring it,” whimpered Treasurer Easton. “It was for the
prizes. I’ve lost it.”

“Where?” shouted his fellow club members.

“I d-d-don’t know,” faltered Easton. Breaking into tears he made a new
search.

“That’s a hot way to carry money!” volunteered one boy. “Loose in your
pocket!”

“It――it wasn’t loose,” explained Duke, his lips quivering. “It was in a
purse.”

“Purse?” snapped another angry lad. “You ain’t got no purse.”

“It was my father’s,” explained the tearful Duke. “An’ it had
ever’body’s name in it and what they paid and all the entries.”

Art and Connie were already searching the ground round about.

“Some of you kids has got it,” wailed Duke, the thought of a possible
joke coming to him.

“Search me,” shouted a chorus of boys. Even the absurdity of searching
a boy stripped of his clothes did not appeal to the disturbed
president or the still sobbing treasurer. Connie began to laugh and
then exclaimed:

“Mebbe it’s back where the scrap was.”

Instantly Art, Connie and Duke set out on a dead run for the sycamore
tree. They were not halfway to it before the other boys, one at a time
as they scrambled into their clothes, were trailing behind. As they
reached the battlefield a familiar gang call sounded from the railroad
bridge and in a few moments Sammy Addington rejoined his chums.

“Duke lost all the money,” Art explained sullenly as he made a
preliminary survey.

“Cowardy-calf, cowardy-calf!” was Wart Ware’s salutation to Sammy. But
Sammy had no time to resent this insult immediately. He was bubbling
over with other business.

“Ole Chris got it,” he panted.

“Got my pocket book?” gasped Duke.

“Three dollars an’ eighty cents,” went on Sammy, yet out of breath.
“An’,” with a sniffle, “he’s a-goin’ to turn it over to the mayor.”

“Father’ll get it for us; he’s comin’ home to-night,” began Art. But
Sammy had more and worse news.

“An’ he’s got the papers an’ ever’body’s name,” went on the courier.
“An’ the marshal says ’at he’s goin’ to take up ever’one ’at was in the
scrap.” (“Take up” in Scottsville meant arrest and incarceration in the
lockup.)

In the solemn silence that followed, even Duke’s tears ceased to
flow. Not even Connie seemed to have a word suitable to the alarming
situation.

“Why didn’t he take you up?” It was Wart Ware who finally asked this
question.

“Me?” faltered Sammy. “Why I――I don’t know.” But there was a telltale
twitch of his lips.

“Didn’t he say why?” demanded Colly Craighead. “It’s funny he’s goin’
to put ever’body else in the lockup but you.”

Sammy only eyed his questioners and tried to turn the inquiry with a
question about the lost models.

“I’ll tell you why he let you off,” volunteered Connie as he approached
the recent fugitive. “You lied to him.”

“Don’t you call me no liar,” exclaimed Sammy boldly. “An’ I didn’t
peach. He ast me who was over here an’ I told him I was no telltale. I
wouldn’t give him not a single name. Not even a Goosetowner.”

“You’d ’a’ better not,” remarked Art significantly.

“I didn’t say you peached,” went on Connie unmoved by Sammy’s speech.
“I said you lied. I’ll tell you what you told Old Chris; you told him
they was a lot of bad boys over here fightin’ an’ ’at you run away so’s
you wouldn’t get mixed up with ’em.”

This explanation was so plausible that it did not require Sammy’s
sudden panic to convict him. There was a roar of indignation and the
gang massed around the accused. Driven to bay Sammy turned on his
denouncer. But that was hopeless. There was one other recourse.

“I didn’t neither,” he protested. Then his voice broke. “An’ if I did,”
he qualified, tears of mortification springing to his eyes, “how was I
goin’ to know he was goin’ to find the pocket book?”

“Cowardy-calf,” “runaway” and “tattletale” were the verbal returns for
this sudden candor and then, following Connie’s action, Sammy’s chums
left the little ex-warrior blubbering alone. But boy grief does not
penetrate far.

“Say, fellows,” exclaimed Sammy, wiping away his tears and trying to
smile, “Ole Peg Leg Warner’s fishin’ over on the bridge and he got a
bass ’at weighed four pounds or more.”

Ordinarily this would have been the signal for a stampede. But the
alluring bait was ignored.

“Go away,” was Art’s command. “We’re through with you.”

But while the other boys made their way slowly toward the pile of torn
and broken aeroplanes, Sammy stood his ground.

“I don’t have to go away,” he retorted. “I can stay here if I want to.
You don’t own this paster.”

“Then stay here,” shouted Art. “We’re goin’. An’ don’t you come in my
yard again or in our garage, Tattletale.”

“I can come and get my knife and aeroplane an’ things,” retorted
Sammy in half appeal. “An’ me and my folks is goin’ away up to Lake
Maxinkuchee and stay all summer an’ I’m goin’ to have a sailboat, too.”

This last appeal to his friends was Spartanly ignored as was the
statement in relation to Sammy’s personal property. But the incensed
club members had one last rejoinder. After a quick conference Connie
delivered it.

“You’d better,” he announced. “You’re goin’ to be expelled from the
club.”

“Who cares?” exclaimed Sammy. “My ma told me I got to quit anyway,
’cause I’m goin’ to go away an’ sail my new boat.” To save further
embarrassment, Sammy added: “I got to go now. Peg Leg’s goin’ to lend
me one of his bass lines.”

The consensus of opinion concerning the sailboat was that it was a
hastily improvised figment of the imagination. The boast, however,
was enough to insure Sammy’s expulsion, which was done instantly and
somewhat informally. Collecting what remained of the beloved toys, the
members of the club, dejected, dispirited and genuinely alarmed over
the possible result of Old Chris’s promised action, took immediate
council.

There was a suggestion that, it being only four o’clock, there was yet
time for a swim. But this idea seemed to meet with no favor. On the
other hand it was just possible that Marshal Walter might be on the
look-out near the railroad bridge. Just then one of the boys, glancing
toward the dam, saw three ominous looking Goosetowners who were
evidently returning to their stamping grounds.

“Who’s afraid of Old Chris,” exclaimed Wart Ware promptly. “I got some
errands to do at home.”

The defeated lads instantly set out at a good pace toward the bridge.
They were not surprised when they failed to find Sammy Addington in
Peg Leg Warner’s company, nor little more so when Peg told them that
his big bass didn’t weigh over a pound and a half. At the town end of
the bridge――happily Marshal Walter was not in sight――the subdued club
members separated and as a precautionary measure made their way home
singly.

Art Trevor saw fit to approach his own home by way of the alley. In the
garage he did the best he could to make himself presentable and then
he fell to his aeroplane plans. At five thirty o’clock, with assumed
gayety, he rushed around to the front porch. As he expected, his mother
was there.

“Arthur,” she said at once, “Marshal Walter has been here and told me
what happened this afternoon. Are you hurt?”

“No, mother. I――”

“That’s enough, Arthur. This is a matter for your father. It will give
him a fine home-coming. You have been a very bad boy.”



CHAPTER V

MR. TREVOR’S MYSTERIOUS INVITATION


Mr. Trevor, Art’s father, had been for six weeks attending to legal
business in London. For several days his return had been eagerly
anticipated. Art’s only hope lay in his father’s jovial disposition,
his love of outdoor sports and, above all, his unusual interest in the
pleasures of boys. In this respect Mr. Trevor was different from most
men. He would leave his office to umpire a game of ball between school
nines when he could not find time to witness a professional game.

Through the dinner hour Mrs. Trevor did not speak of the fight. By that
Art knew he was approaching a crisis. Up to this time, his mother had
never hesitated to discipline him for shortcomings. Each minute his
depression deepened. The meal over, he made no attempt to leave the
house. When his mother took up the evening paper Art retired to a far
corner of the porch with a magazine.

Now and then he would glance at the hall clock. While he looked the
third time the deep gong sounded seven. He took a deep breath――only one
more hour.

Art had no way of knowing what had befallen his friends. Not a boy had
passed the house. If Old Walter had visited all the boys’ homes, Art
suspected that more than one domestic tragedy must have been enacted
already.

Just as the twilight began to make reading difficult, Art heard a slow
and familiar footstep. It was Alex Conyers. But the low-spirited boy on
the porch neither looked up nor gave salutation. Alex walked slowly as
if burdened with troubles of his own. At the lawn step he looked up,
seemed to hesitate, and then passed on.

“Alexander,” called Mrs. Trevor in a low voice, “is that you?”

“Yes’m.”

“I’d like to see you.”

Connie, hat in hand, ascended the steps with the liveliness of a
pallbearer. He glanced toward the end of the porch where Art sat,
apparently engrossed in his magazine.

“Were you with Arthur this afternoon?” asked Mrs. Trevor quietly but
pointedly.

“Yes’m,” looking intently across the street.

“Did Marshal Walter speak to your parents?”

“Yes’m,” slowly and with another furtive look toward his chum.

“What did your father think about it?”

“He said he wished I was younger so he could strap me.”

Mrs. Trevor did not smile. Then to Connie’s consternation, he knew that
Mrs. Trevor was wiping a tear from her cheek.

“But that wasn’t all,” Connie added hastily. “He told me how he had
hoped I wouldn’t grow up like that. I told him I was sorry,” and
Connie’s voice quivered a little. “Anyway I can’t go near the river
again this summer――fishin’ nor swimmin’ nor nothin’.”

“With whom were you fighting?” went on Mrs. Trevor.

At this question Connie twisted his cap, looked up in confusion and
then at the floor in silence.

“You don’t want to tell?”

“No’m.”

“Didn’t Marshal Walter ask you?”

“Not yet.”

“Are you going to tell him when he does?”

“No’m.”

“Why not?”

“’Cause he might take ’em up.”

“And you think you are right?”

“What good’d it do? If he arrested ’em an’ the judge fined ’em they’d
have to go to jail.”

“Well, you seem to like to associate with them. You boys appear to
enjoy their society. You could all be together.”

“Together?” repeated Connie in an alarmed voice, while Art’s magazine
fell to the floor.

“Certainly,” went on Mrs. Trevor. “The marshal says he is going to
ask the mayor if he shouldn’t arrest all of you. I suppose that means
you’ll all be put in jail.”

Connie adjusted his collar. “I think I’ve got to go now, Mrs. Trevor,”
he said at last. “It’s getting late.”

“Good night, Alexander,” replied Mrs. Trevor softly. “I feel sorry for
you and your friends.”

As Connie departed, with neither word nor look for his pal in disgrace,
Mrs. Trevor started down the steps.

“I’m going to the train, Arthur, to meet your father.”

“Shan’t I come with you?” Art asked.

“No. I want to meet your father alone and prepare him for the
reception you have arranged for him.”

This was the last straw. When a little later the repentant Art heard
the hollow blasts of the eight-o’clock express he was stretched on a
couch in the living room. There was a lump in his throat and he felt as
if he had lost every interest in life.

Connie’s talk had not made Art’s troubles lighter. Art realized that
his pal’s disgrace and punishment was due to himself more than to
Connie. Finally, to relieve his troubled conscience, he set his teeth
together and hurried to the telephone. Art called up the Conyers home
and Alex’s father answered the telephone.

“This is Arthur Trevor, Mr. Conyers,” Art hastily began, “an’ I want
to tell you what we did to-day. Yes, our fightin’. Well, Connie ain’t
to blame like I am. But you don’t understand. He ain’t a scrapper an’
he didn’t want to go an’ he tried to keep the gang from goin’. If we’d
done like he wanted, there wouldn’t nothin’ ’a’ happened. But I egged
him on. Yes, I know I’d oughtn’t an’ it was my fault. Connie argued
ever’ way to keep us out o’ trouble an’ we just pulled him in. An’
that ain’t all. He wouldn’t ’a’ got into no fight himself at all if he
hadn’t tried to keep me from fightin’. An’ then they jumped on his back
an’ he had to scrap. It was my fault all through.”

There was some conversation, Mr. Conyers’ part of which seemed to
indicate that he wasn’t at all certain of Alexander’s innocence, even
in part. Then he appeared to give Art a few words of advice and the
interview ended. There was no suggestion that Connie’s punishment would
be made lighter.

Art heard voices outside just then, and bracing himself as well as he
could, he went out to greet his father. At sight of the latter the
boy forgot the coming interview, and threw himself into his parent’s
arms. Then, in the joy of his father’s return, Art grabbed the bags
and led the way gayly into the house. His father was as smiling and
good-natured as usual.

As the excitement of the home-coming lessened into questions and
answers, the little family returned to the porch. There was not a word
of rebuke for the boy. Mr. Trevor began at once a narration of his
troubles and experiences and the neighbors began to drop in.

Not one of them referred to the catastrophe of the afternoon――although
many of the visitors were parents of the humiliated young aviators.
When Mrs. Trevor at last suggested refreshments (which she had prepared
for the occasion) and Art was called upon to assist in the serving, the
boy never performed a home service more willingly. He began to hope he
might not be wholly put out of his parents’ regard.

About eleven o’clock the last visitor withdrew and Mrs. Trevor went
into the house. A premonition came over the boy and he started after
his mother.

“Arthur,” called Mr. Trevor. “I want to see you.”

The choke came back into Art’s throat. He retraced his steps as bravely
as he could.

“Arthur, your mother has told me all that took place this afternoon.
Have you anything to say about it?”

“I suppose not, sir. Except, I’m sorry.”

“Was your trip over the river prearranged? That is, did you go
expecting a fight?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you were one of the leaders?”

“Yes, sir. I reckon I was _the_ leader.”

“What was your object?”

“We were goin’ to hold an aeroplane meet an’ the Goosetowners dared us.”

“Sit down,” said Mr. Trevor. As Art did so his father faced him.
“Arthur,” he went on, “I suppose you are expecting some punishment?”

“I suppose so; I reckon I deserve it.”

“I’m not going to punish you. However, you have hurt your mother and
me.”

Art’s eyes opened wide. “We have been proud of you. We have been
counting on you to grow into a high-grade young man. This weakness
disappoints us more than you know.”

“I didn’t think I was weak,” replied Art. “I fought fair an’ square.
An’ they started the trouble.”

“That’s always the town tough’s excuse,” replied Mr. Trevor, raising
his hand in protest. “It’s what the saloon brawler tells you. He’s
always in the right of it.”

“Well,” said Art, trying to win a little sympathy, “I’m sorry I’m such
a disappointment.”

“I’m glad you’re sorry,” responded his father. “It would be a heavy
blow to our hopes for your future if we thought you were going to grow
up to be a tough.”

“You always told me to be brave,” urged Art, rather hopelessly.

“Exactly,” said his father. “I’d be proud to see you defend your mother
from the attack of a thief. I’d be glad to see you risk your life to
save that of another. But would it be brave to goad a lunatic into a
frenzy that you might punish him for assaulting you?”

“These kids ain’t lunatics,” answered Art.

“Of course not,” exclaimed his father. “But they are deficient
intellectually. They have no precise standards of right and wrong.
These poor boys have never had the advantage of the training you have
had. Instead of trying to help them you have only dropped to their
level. Like stray dogs, kicked about by misfortune, they snarl at every
passer-by. Is it kindness to throw yourself in their path to be snarled
at?”

It was an elaborate figure of speech and Art did not, perhaps, get its
full meaning. But he thought it was safe to answer “No, sir,” which he
did very humbly. Then breaking down completely he added: “You’d better
lick me, father. I got ever’body in trouble. Connie tried to stop me
but I got him in. An’ he’s been punished. You’d better lick me.” Even
the sound of his son blowing his nose vigorously did not seem to move
Mr. Trevor.

“Why should I punish you?” resumed Mr. Trevor thoughtfully. “You are
old enough to know right from wrong.”

“Do you think I’m really bad?” asked Art huskily. “I didn’t know I was
so much worse than the other kids.”

“That’s it, Arthur,” answered his father. “As I get older I begin to
wonder why so many boys seem to take more pleasure in being vicious
than in being frank and generous. But,” and he almost sighed, “it seems
boys have always been that way.” Then frankly he added: “I was. I was
bad. I wasted my time. Nothing you have done to-day was beyond me when
I was your age. Later I had to pay for it and dearly. But I knew no
better. There was no one to advise me. I neglected school. I formed
habits that I was years in breaking. Your mother and I have told you,
often told you, that a helping hand to those below you and respect for
those above you are the two things worth while. Can’t you realize that
we know?”

By this time Art was almost in a state of collapse.

“I’m goin’ to try,” he managed to sob.

“Boys are boys,” his father resumed after a time. “Perhaps you are no
better and no worse than your chums. Perhaps it is our fault――their
fathers and mothers. I feel that I have been wrong. We have all allowed
you boys to drift. You’ve got to do something, you’ve got to be busy in
a good direction, or you’ll go in a bad direction. I’m going to do more
for you if I can.”

“What do you mean?” asked the surprised Art.

“To-morrow is Sunday,” continued his father. “I want you to invite all
your chums to our house for tea. I’d like to talk to them.”

“What about?” broke in Art somewhat alarmed. “I guess they’ve all been
talked to already.”

“Ask them to tea at five o’clock,” repeated his father. “I’m not going
to scold them or preach to them.”

“All of them?” asked Art.

“All the members of your club.”

“I don’t think I can ask one of ’em.” The boy hesitated. “Sammy
Addington’s been expelled.”

“What for?”

“We didn’t think he fought fair.”

“What did he do?”

“He had a rock and he slugged a boy.”

“Ask him first. And be sure he comes. This is not a club meeting,” said
Mr. Trevor.

“Father,” exclaimed the boy leaning forward as a new wave of fear swept
over him, “you ain’t goin’ to punish me before all the boys, are you?”

“My son,” replied Mr. Trevor placing his hand on one of Art’s, “I think
you have had all the punishment you’ll need. I hardly know whether it
would be right to say I’m going to forget what you’ve done, but I’m
going to forgive you.”

As Art’s head fell upon his father’s knees his mother stepped from
the dark hallway and took the distressed lad in her arms. At the same
moment his father, a little disturbed himself, handed the boy a small
mahogany box.

“Now that we understand ourselves, Arthur,” he announced, “here is a
little present for our ‘new’ boy. It is an English watch. I hope it
will always recall this day and be a sign of our new confidence in our
only boy.”



CHAPTER VI

WHAT CAME OUT OF A TEA PARTY


By five o’clock the next afternoon every member of the Young Aviators
Club was at the Trevor home, including George Atkins and Roger
Mercer, who had not been present at the fight, and the expelled Sammy
Addington. Mr. Trevor did not know that Art had been forced to use
considerable argument in a few cases. Marshal Walter’s action in
visiting the homes of nearly all the boys had brought swift parental
action. These actions ran all the way from Connie’s prohibition of
river joys to sound thrashings. Some of the boys were convinced that
Mr. Trevor’s invitation meant a second edition of punishment. They had
to be assured that it was perfectly safe to be present.

“Boys,” began Mr. Trevor when his thirteen guests had been partly
satisfied with cold meats and potato salad and were waiting for the ice
cream and cake, “I’ve asked you here to talk to you about some things
I learned and saw while I was abroad. And it isn’t about castles
or cathedrals either. It’s about something you boys are interested
in――camping out and games.”

Inquiring looks passed from boy to boy.

“I wish we could go camping like you took Art once,” suggested Wart
Ware.

“Did you see boys camping out in England?” asked Sammy, whose smiling
face could be seen next to Mrs. Trevor at the foot of the table.

“I certainly did,” answered Mr. Trevor. “And it was a mighty fine lot
of boys, every one of them looking like a gentleman.” Guilty looks
showed here and there about the table. “But I’ll come to that in a
minute. I want to tell you a story first. How many of you ever heard of
Baden-Powell?”

Dead silence followed. Then Alex Conyers said:

“It sounds like a health resort in Germany. Were you there?”

“It isn’t a health resort,” laughed Mr. Trevor. “It’s a man’s
name. But, in a way he might be called a health reviser, for it is
this man who is making so many strong vigorous gentlemen out of
thousands――hundreds of thousands――of English boys. And it is this man
who has set all young England camping out and learning the country and
the ways of outdoor-things and playing games that injure no one. He
has even made it unpopular and even unnecessary for boys to fight each
other to find fun.”

This shot went home. Thirteen boys looked at their plates or at the
ceiling in silence.

“Then he’s the Boy Scout man, isn’t he?” finally ventured Alex Conyers.

“He is. And that’s what I want to talk about. While I was in London
I met a friend, a grown man like me, who has taken a great deal of
interest in Boy Scouts and their work. On a Saturday he took me where
an encampment of Scouts was being held. Never,” went on Mr. Trevor,
leaning forward in his enthusiasm, “have I so much wanted to be a
boy again. Boys, it was great. The encampment was in a valley near a
heavy forest. There was a stream with rushes and swimming pools and
a tall white staff with the Scout flag fluttering――a flag that went
up at sunrise with salute and came down at sundown with the Scouts at
‘present arms.’ There were tents in the valley and among the trees;
company cook-houses and dining tents and shelters for Scouts by twos
and fours. Not even in the army are things neater or more in order.”

“What’d they do?” asked Colly Craighead impulsively.

“Obey orders like soldiers,” replied Mr. Trevor, “and play all day. And
in their play they learn how to do a hundred things a boy can’t learn
in school: how to track and capture an animal; how to trail a man like
the Indians and old scouts used to do; how to take care of themselves
in the woods――make camp with nothing; how to make a fire and cook; how
to help persons in trouble, to dress a wound, to revive the drowning,
to act promptly and effectively in all moments of danger; how to give a
helping hand to old and young; and how, above all, to help themselves.
In short, how to form good habits while at play――to be patriotic,
honest and generous from choice.”

“Were you in a regular Boy Scout camp?” asked Art at the first chance.

“Saturday afternoon and Sunday,” answered Mr. Trevor. “That’s why I
want to tell you boys about it.”

“An’ did this Mr. What’s-his-name make all the Boy Scouts?” inquired
Duke Easton.

“General Baden-Powell is a famous English soldier,” answered Mr.
Trevor with spirit. “And he loves his country so much that he wants all
English boys to grow up to be patriotic and brave Englishmen,” he went
on. “It’s not because he expects all Boy Scouts to become soldiers,”
explained the host, “but many English Boy Scouts will. And those that
do will have eyes and ears and hands to work with. Let me tell you why
General Baden-Powell thinks everyone should know how to see things and
know what they mean. It is an anecdote told me by General Baden-Powell
himself.

“General Baden-Powell,” went on Mr. Trevor as the boys drew their
chairs closer, “is, as I said, a great soldier. He has achieved honors
of all kinds. And he became famous because, wherever England sent
him――to Afghanistan, India, Egypt or Lower Africa――he saw things and
figured out what they meant. And,” explained the story teller with a
smile, “he saw things with his own eyes because he loved nature and was
a hunter. When he came to America, old-time scouts were his friends.
He knew Buffalo Bill, and with him shot elk and mountain sheep in the
west. Then a time came when he was sent to Central Africa to put down
the savage Matabeles. Then this thing happened:

“General Baden-Powell’s troops had been chasing the savages through an
unknown region where, among the hills, the natives easily concealed
themselves. The soldiers did their best to locate a certain band of
Matabeles but without success. Before daybreak one morning Baden-Powell
set out alone to see what he could find. Riding back and forth over the
pathless veldt, or grassy plain, he at last crossed a new trail.

“This was indicated only by the fact that in places the grass had
been bent aside. He finally found six distinct broken places showing
that six persons had passed that way. The direction was indicated by
the leaning grass. The travelers had passed that night because the
disturbed grass had not yet righted itself as it would when the sun
dried the dew.

“Hastening forward on this trail the observing soldier soon came to
an open sandy place where he saw footsteps. The prints were those of
women. He knew this by their size and the distance between them. He
searched carefully for more signs――not only in the open place but round
about it. He was rewarded. To the right he discovered a few leaves.
There were no trees in that region. The leaves had been carried there.
They were yet green. They had an odor. The scout recognized this as the
odor of a native beer. Things began to clear.

“The trained observer remembered a settlement miles away where this
beer was made. Among its ingredients were leaves such as he had found
near the trail. But what was the significance of this? The beer spoiled
easily. It had to be protected. The top of each big native bottle was
usually stopped with a bunch of these leaves. But why were the leaves
by the trail? Again the scout recalled a previously noted fact. The air
was calm then but at four o’clock that morning there had been a stiff
breeze. What was General Baden-Powell’s conclusion?

“At four o’clock that morning, six native women coming from the distant
settlement had passed the sandy spot, carrying bottles of native beer
stopped with leaves. He readily understood that they were taking the
beer to the men in the hills. These hills were about two hours distant
on foot. The women must have reached the hiding place about six
o’clock. As the beer spoiled easily in the hot country it would be
drunk at once. It was then seven o’clock. The Matabeles were at that
moment probably far gone in intoxication.

“Hastening to his camp General Baden-Powell put his troop in motion,
took the trail at once and before nine o’clock each conclusion had
been proved correct. The enemy was discovered and overpowered and all
because one man could see things and remember them.”

The heavy breathing of deeply interested listeners greeted the end of
his story.

“That’s better’n ‘Dashing Charley or the Pawnee Scout,’” exclaimed
Sammy Addington. “How many’d they kill?”

“Being a regular scout must be great,” suggested Connie. “But I guess
they ain’t no really scouts now exceptin’ soldiers.”

“What’s the matter with this idea?” broke in Mr. Trevor earnestly. “And
that’s why I asked you here. Why don’t you boys become Boy Scouts?”

Wider opened eyes and then a babble of voices indicated that the
question had made a deep impression.

“You bet!” were the first intelligible words, and these were from Art.

“What’d you have to do?” added Connie. “Can anyone be a Boy Scout?”

“Do they have regular guns?” chimed in Sammy.

“Any boy between the ages of twelve and eighteen,” Mr. Trevor
explained. “And all you have to do is to organize yourselves, select a
leader and learn and obey the Scout laws. But,” he went on, turning to
Sammy, “they don’t have guns. However, they do have a very useful scout
staff――good, stout long sticks that come in handy for a lot of things
and that are especially good on long hikes. There’s a fine uniform,
too, that every boy loves. First there’s the Baden-Powell hat.”

Mr. Trevor reached behind him and picked up a sample hat that he had
brought from England. It resembled a western cowboy’s headgear except
that the brim was straight and stiff. Above the brim was a smart
leather band and a buckle. The top was picturesquely pinched into a
four-sided peak, while beneath the brim and hanging down behind was a
light leather cord.

“What’s the little cord for?” came from several, while each boy sprang
from his chair to get a better view.

“These hats were devised by General Baden-Powell for the English
cavalry in tropic Africa,” explained Mr. Trevor. “The cord is to fasten
beneath your hair on the nape of the neck. It holds the hat securely
against the wind and in the wildest charge.”

“Cowboys have those strings to hold the hat,” exclaimed Connie.

“Very true,” answered Mr. Trevor. “That’s another thing General
Baden-Powell saw on one of his trips to America. And he also saw that
cowboy hats have loose, floppy brims. He made his hat with a stiff brim
to keep the brim out of the eyes.”

“Our soldiers wore them in the Spanish-American War,” persisted Connie.

“Sure,” said Mr. Trevor smiling, “after General Baden-Powell showed
them how good the hats were.”

By this time the hat was on Wart Ware’s head and every guest was
clamoring to have a try on himself.

“In addition,” continued the host, “each Boy Scout has a knapsack to
carry his mess kit; a khaki shirt with a fine sailor necktie and a
belt. In England they wear ‘knickers’ and Scotch plaid stockings. And I
tell you they look mighty fine when they march out with their patrol
pennants on their staffs and the patrol flag in front.”

“But who tells you if you can be a Boy Scout and who bosses ’em?” asked
one boy.

“You boss yourselves. You elect your own leader. Your company is called
a _patrol_ and the leader, whoever is selected, is called the _patrol
leader_. When there are enough patrols in one locality they all select
a _scout master_ for the _troop_, for that’s what several patrols and
their officer are called. And each patrol does as it pleases, goes into
the country in pleasant weather, has camps in the summer and a club
room to meet in in the winter.”

Another wave of enthusiasm was chilled by Phil Abercrombie.

“What’s all them hats and knapsacks and things cost?” he asked
cautiously.

“I wouldn’t bother about that,” replied Mr. Trevor, “for you can get
those things when you are ready. But they cost less than three dollars
an outfit if all the patrol members buy them.”

“I’d want a hat anyway,” urged Wart Ware. “I think it’s swell.”

“Let’s stop a few minutes,” broke in Mr. Trevor, “while I tell you
more closely what this all means.”

The boys went back to their seats, for the ice cream had just been
served, while Mr. Trevor explained further:

“A patrol is made up of nine boys with a patrol leader, ten in all.
But you may add to that as many as you like until you have enough to
make two patrols. The boys select a patrol leader by vote. After this,
each boy fills out a blank which he sends to the nearest Boy Scout
headquarters. Then the headquarters secretary will tell you where you
can buy your uniforms, and he will send you badges and the ‘Manual of
Scout Laws.’

“Ten boys make a patrol; ten patrols form a troop. The leader of a
patrol is a patrol leader. The leader of a troop is a scout master.
In fair weather a patrol holds its drills and parades and executes
its scouting maneuvers in the open air. In the winter a meeting place
indoors is secured where instructions are given on specified evenings.
No boy candidate can begin his work until he has taken the ‘Scout’s
Oath.’”

“What’s that?” asked Connie so quickly that he dropped a spoonful of
ice cream on his lap. “Go on,” he laughed as Mr. Trevor paused, “I’m
gettin’ excited, that’s all.”

“He must swear:” explained his host, “First, to do his duty to God and
his country; second, to help other people at all times; and third, to
obey the Scout Law.”

“Tell us that,” cried Sandy Sheldon who had been so interested that he
had held a spoonful of ice cream in the air until it was nearly melted.
“That’s what I want to know.”

“I’d like to,” answered Mr. Trevor, who was all aglow over his
experiment, “but I can’t. It’s too long. Each boy will have to read
it for himself. But I have a few notes on it. It consists of nine
articles,” he added taking out his memorandum book, “and it was written
by General Baden-Powell himself. These are the subjects:

“‘Article I. A Scout’s honor is to be trusted. If he does not carry out
the leader’s orders exactly his badge will be taken from him.

“‘Article II. A Scout is loyal to his government, to his officers and
to his parents and his employers.

“‘Article III. A Scout’s duty is to be useful and to help others.

“‘Article IV. A Scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other
Scout.

“‘Article V. A Scout is courteous. That is, he is polite to all, but
especially to women and children, old people and cripples. He must take
no reward for being courteous.

“‘Article VI. A Scout is a friend to animals.

“‘Article VII. A Scout obeys the orders of his parents, Patrol Leader
or Scout Master without question; even if he gets an order he does not
like he must do as sailors and soldiers do.

“‘Article VIII. A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances.

“‘Article IX. A Scout is thrifty――that is, he saves every penny he can
and puts it in the bank.’

“Now, young gentlemen,” went on Mr. Trevor as he concluded the list of
articles of the Scout Law, “you ought to have a fair idea of what it
means to be a Boy Scout. I think it a grand idea. I invited you here to
explain it as well as I could. I want Art to be a Boy Scout. Would you
like to do it?” he asked, turning toward his son.

“You bet――I mean, I certainly would,” answered Art promptly.

“How many other boys would like to join a patrol?”

So unanimous was the response that it seemed ridiculous to ask for
negatives.

“I congratulate you all, boys,” exclaimed Mr. Trevor proudly. “And this
being Sunday, I want each boy to go home and talk it over with his
parents, and those who get permission or don’t change their minds are
asked to come here at eight o’clock to-morrow evening to arrange and
select a patrol leader. And I want to add that it will give me great
pleasure, if you will permit it, to present each member with a complete
uniform.”



CHAPTER VII

ARTHUR’S DEAL WITH A CIRCUS HAND


In spite of the enthusiasm all the boys felt for the proposed Boy Scout
organization, the thoughts of the next day were clouded with the fear
of what Marshal Walter might do. He had threatened to arrest each boy
whose name he knew. And he knew all the “Aviators.”

When all arrangements had been made for the Boy Scout meeting Monday
evening and the tea party was at an end, the young guests lingered.
There was a quick conference among the older boys, and then Alex
Conyers approached Mr. Trevor.

“I suppose, Mr. Trevor, you know all about our trouble yesterday――” he
began.

“I’m sorry I had to hear so much,” was their host’s reply.

“Marshal Walter left word at our house that he might arrest all of us.”

“So I hear.”

“Do you think he will?”

“I’ve known persons to be arrested for less.”

“Do you think we ought to be taken up?”

“If it would teach you a lesson――”

“But we’ve all reformed,” protested Alex with an attempt at a smile.

“We’re goin’ to be Boy Scouts. If the mayor knew that don’t you think
he’d let us off?”

“He might. It is in his power.”

“Won’t you tell him?”

“I’ll be glad to. I’ll see what can be done,” answered Mr. Trevor.

The next morning the scared boys drifted aimlessly from house to house.
Not even the shop in the garage interested them. Finally they could
stand the suspense no longer and about noontime Art called his father
by telephone.

“The mayor is going to give all of you another chance,” answered Mr.
Trevor. “But he says if there is any more trouble of that kind you’ll
have to answer for both offenses.”

If the boys had been present when Mr. Trevor and Mr. Conyers called on
the mayor they would have seen a far from formal interview. As a matter
of fact they talked most of the time about a fishing trip. And the end
of the interview would have further astounded them. “Oh, by the way,
Mr. Trevor,” exclaimed the mayor, “here’s a purse Marshal Walter took
from one of the boys. It has some money in it.”

Mr. Trevor did not turn the funds over to the boys at once or even
mention it. At dinner that evening Art asked his father:

“We’re all stuck on this Boy Scout business and we got some books about
it to-day. But do you want us to break up the Young Aviators Club?”

“By no means,” replied Mr. Trevor. “But you won’t care for it after a
bit: you’ll have so many other things to do.”

“I reckon you didn’t care much for our club.”

“Not a great deal,” answered Mr. Trevor with a smile. “It’s like a lot
of other boy organizations. Unless there is a specific plan for doing
good in them, like the Boy Scouts, they frequently work the other way.
There may be a leader but there is rarely any law. And the leader is
as apt to guide the members wrong as right.” Art fixed his eyes on
his plate. “The plans for all boy clubs should be laid down by older
people. That’s where parents often fail in their duty. Statistics show
that uneducated, idle boys nearly always drift into evil ways and even
into crime when they begin to ‘gang’ together.”

“Then,” exclaimed Art, “I’d be a bad selection for patrol leader of our
Boy Scouts!”

Mr. Trevor hesitated. He did not like to hurt Art’s feelings. At last
he said, “Let’s put it another way. What boy would you select for
leader?”

“Oh, Connie, of course,” answered Art. “If he’d been leader last
Saturday there wouldn’t have been any trouble.”

“Then you ought to vote for him.”

Somewhat chagrined to think that he was not the best choice for patrol
leader, Art made a resolution: he’d be leader some day. At the meeting
that night he was pleased that he was the first boy named for the head
of the new patrol but he declined and nominated Connie and told why he
did.

Connie had no opportunity to refuse. His election went through with a
hurrah. Before the meeting adjourned every boy, under Connie’s blushing
direction, had filled out his application blank. The midnight train
carried these and a request for a charter for the Wolf Patrol of
Scottsville, Alexander Conyers, Patrol Leader, with a membership of
thirteen boys.

So much store was set on the uniforms, especially the hats and khaki
shirts――brown was the color selected――that the boys all went to
Mr. Trevor’s office the next morning to be measured and this order
followed the other papers at once. With no manual of drill or rules to
guide them, there was now little to do but discuss the future and the
alluring possibilities of scouting, maneuvers and camping in the open.

After a day or two of this Art came back to his big dream, the
possibility that they might some day own an airship. He even romanced
over what he described as the “Aviation Squad” of the Wolf Patrol.
When he had company he would discuss details of aeroplane building and
while alone he was often making sketches and figures. In this he could
not hold his chums’ complete attention, for the Boy Scout idea was too
strong this week to admit another interest.

An event was impending in Scottsville that made the juvenile
citizens irresponsible. On Saturday the “Great Western Triple
Circus, Menagerie and Congress of World’s Wonders” was to give two
performances. Even the new Boy Scout frenzy lessened as Saturday
approached. And there was little wonder, for among the alluring
“wonders” promised was this feature: “Master Willie Bonner, positively
the youngest aviator in the world, will make two death-defying,
cloud-piercing aeroplane flights each day. At one o’clock and six
o’clock he will give free exhibitions, ascending heavenward until lost
to the eye and then returning earthward in a series of spirals and
glides never before attempted by man.”

When a circus comes to town (that is, to a town that has no pretensions
to being a city) every boy under sixteen becomes indifferent to the
ordinary duties of life.

Prearrangement was hardly necessary, but it was well understood Friday
night among Art’s friends that all would be on hand in the morning
“to see ’em put up the tents.” When Art awoke it was not dawn. As he
lingered, half dozing, a sudden sound fell upon his ear.

Through the silent night came a noise that no town boy ever fails to
recognize――the low, heavy, guttural rumble of a circus van. It is like
the sound of no other vehicle in the world. City boys do not know it.
To the town boy it is like a galvanic shock. His pulses throb with a
wild eager anticipation, while his heart sinks for fear that he will
be too late――that is, that he will miss seeing something that some
earlier-arrived boy has glimpsed in the dark.

Art threw on his clothes and stole out of the house. It was a half mile
to the “commons” where the tents were to be set. He started on a dead
run, buttoning his clothes as he went. There were no tents erected as
yet, but the deep-voiced, gray-shirted boss was busy with his long
steel tape. And where he sank his foot in the dewy grass, dejected,
unshaven men were throwing down the worn pale-blue stakes. Then work
began. Stake drivers, four on a team, with heavy sledges revolving one
after the other like the spokes of a wheel, drove the heavy piles in
jumps into the ground.

Canvas wagons had been backed up in various places and their teams of
four and six horses, heavy harnessed and resplendent in bits of red
leather and polished metal, were off across the town, heavy of hoof
and jangling their traces, to bring other wagons from the train. At
last as day broke, animal cages, the “lions’ den” and the “ticket
wagon” appeared――the latter a blaze of golden figures and bearing the
ornate portraits of the wonderful men who had conceived and owned the
“Congress of Wonders.”

It is the signal for the climax: the arrival of the sacred cow, the
camels, the ponies, the pony chariots safely concealed with cloths, as
if the sight of the fairyland beauties of these were to be withheld
for a time at least from profaning eyes. The temptation to touch the
pony chariots and run alongside the waddling little animals lasts but a
moment. The elephants are coming! There is not a _herd_ as the pictures
promised, but only _two_. Every boy forgets tents and animal dens. It
is no time now for comment. The big, silently-gliding animals, lunging
forward and recovering, their bony heads swaying right and left, keep
time with the swinging steps that seem always about to break into a
run but never do. And then, by the side of the foremost, the “elephant
keeper.”

Can he and the tinseled man who will later sit calmly in the open “den”
of lions with naught between him and death but a little whip, be of
common clay? But, just now, the lion tamer is forgotten. All eyes are
on the “elephant keeper.”

At a respectful distance the boys of the town trot forward with the
fast-paced monsters. A sinuous trunk leaps in the air. The foremost
elephant emits a piercing cry, sharp and shrill like the car wheels of
the heavy evening express when the air brakes lock them fast with a
shower of sparks. The elephant keeper has sunk his prod into the big
animal. Why? No boy ever knew.

“It’s to show ’em he ain’t afraid,” suggested one lad under his breath
as he clasps a companion’s hand.

“Mebbe the elfunt was goin’ to do somepin’,” says another. “You got to
watch ’em awful close.”

Then it is day. The big, muddy, patched tents are up. To the last
minute the boys crowd forward to see the “old elfunt” push the animal
cages into the menagerie tent, its head lowered and its long trunk
trailing on the already wagon-rutted grounds. And then, sorrowing for
each lost moment, they rush home for breakfast and explanations.

But on this particular day, Art Trevor did not rush home. He had caught
sight of what was to him a greater wonder even than the elephants,
and more fascinating than the shrouded pony chariots――a long, light
car freighted with an aeroplane in two sections. It looked very shabby
and very frail. Among those round about he searched for a boy: “Master
Willie Bonner.” But he saw no boy. Then he stole closer to touch the
magical craft――the first he had ever seen.

It was a twenty-six foot machine, with two propellers in the style
of the Wright biplane. These and the tail frame and rudders had been
removed for convenience in transportation. An oil-saturated cloth
covered the engine. While Art gingerly approached the wagon on which
the flying machine was loaded, together with a tool box, some cans of
gasoline and oil and a number of extra bits of wooden truss uprights, a
rough voice exclaimed:

“Want to get a front seat to see the flyin’ machine go up, kid?”

The speaker was a bleary-eyed, unshaven and partly dressed canvasman.

“Can I?” asked Art eagerly.

“You kin fur a dollar.”

“Where do I pay the money?” asked the boy with a new glance of
admiration at the airship of which he had long dreamed.

“The best way to be sure o’ gettin’ a seat next to where she starts,”
explained the man, “is to pay it to me. I’m the gen’ral sup’intendent
o’ aviation.”

“I only got eighty cents,” confessed Art regretfully. Fifty cents of
this was to get into the circus, ten cents was for the sideshow, ten
cents for lemonade and peanuts, and ten cents for the concert, all
carefully saved for some days.

“Well, they’s only a few good front seats, and fur adults the price
is two dollars,” explained the man. “But fur boys ’at understands
aeroplanes, fur educatin’ purposes we make a reduction to one dollar.”

“Will it be too late to get a seat in half an hour?” asked Art
anxiously. “I got to go home and get twenty cents more.”

“You give me the eighty cents an’ I’ll trust you for the rest,”
conceded the canvasman. “You look honest.”

Art handed him his money.

“Where’s my ticket?” asked the boy anxiously.

“This is a special favor, sonny. They ain’t no reg’lar tickets. You
just come right up where this wagon is an’ you’ll see me. It’ll be all
right.”

When Art reached home his mother began a rebuke, but Mr. Trevor only
laughed. Once, his father said with a chuckle, when circuses traveled
in wagons, he had waited all night at the river bridge to see if the
elephants wouldn’t break through.

Full of joy over the deal he had so fortunately made, Art hastened to
relate his early morning adventure. When he had concluded his story his
mother said:

“I’m not sure I like that. I’d rather you wouldn’t be so close.”

“Don’t fear,” shouted Mr. Trevor, shaking with laughter. “Arthur,
you’ve been swindled. There aren’t any seats for the aeroplane show.
And you’ll never see your ‘superintendent of aviation.’ You’ve lost
your money.” As the boy’s face indicated a panic of alarm his father
added, laughing anew: “Here’s a dollar, Arthur. Try to keep it until it
is time for the performance and don’t,” as he roared again, “carry any
water for the elephants.”

Palpitating, excited boys were awaiting Art after breakfast. His
misfortune had at least one good feature; not one of the boys knew
about it. Nor did he see fit to tell them about it. The boys had an
important question to debate and settle. What performance should they
attend, afternoon or evening?

“If we go in the afternoon, we can’t go to-night,” argued Wart Ware.
“And I tell you it’s purty tough to stand ’round and hear the band
playin’ an’ not be able to see nothin’. Besides, ever’thing looks finer
at night. The lights is a-blazin’ an’ the spangles is like diamonds.”

“Shucks,” argued Art. “They don’t do half the things at night they do
in the daytime. They’re always a-hurr’in’ to get through. An’ how about
the animals? Answer that. The menagerie is all gone an’ loaded on the
cars. You can’t get another look at the cages at all.”

So the argument continued. One was afraid that if they attended the
afternoon performance they wouldn’t have time to see the flying machine
show. Another urged that they never attempted the most dangerous
mid-air feats at night because it was too risky. And there wasn’t a boy
who could attend both exhibitions.

Finally a vote was taken and the decision was for the afternoon show,
the real reason being that no boy was willing to wait longer. “We
can stand around and see ’em ‘strike’ the menagerie tent at night,”
suggested Colly Craighead, “an’ mebbe go to the side show again.”

This suggestion meeting approval, the boys started on a run to
reach the grounds, so that they might not miss the preparations for
the “Grand Daily Parade, Rain or Shine.” The Boy Scout fever was
temporarily at a low ebb.



CHAPTER VIII

AN AFTERNOON AT THE CIRCUS


Long before one o’clock every Elm Street boy was at the circus grounds
with a definite program: First, to see the “cloud-piercing” aeroplane
flight by “Master Willie Bonner”; then to visit the gloriously pictured
side show; and, finally, to attend the circus performance. The flying
machine was apparently in order, and just after one o’clock it was
wheeled to a far corner of the grounds. “Master Willie” did not seem
very much of a child. He was picked out by the fact that he wore a
cheap leather coat, an aviator’s helmet, turned down Scotch stockings
and long gloves, much soiled. He looked to be about Arthur Trevor’s age.

“You can bet he’s got nerve,” remarked Lew Ashwood admiringly.

“An’ you bet he gets a big salary,” commented Duke Easton.

“I’ll bet he gets ten dollars a day,” ventured Sandy Sheldon. “An’ he
don’t have to work hardly at all.”

“An’, like as not, gets in the circus free when he wants to,” added
Colly Craighead. “I’d like a job like that.”

Art had plenty of time to see that there were no seats anywhere.
The “superintendent of aviation” was not even present, being, as a
matter of fact, fast asleep at that moment beneath a big canvas wagon.
Blushing again over the knowledge of how easy he had been, Art led the
way to the best place to see, and the boys prepared to drink in every
detail. Master Willie Bonner seemed to be the real superintendent.

“They ain’t no golden, silken wings there to flash in the sun. It’s all
dirty and greasy,” commented Art. “An’ the engine don’t look any too
good neither.”

“The kid looks all right, though,” put in Connie. “He’s the only decent
looking fellow I’ve seen in the whole outfit.”

The engine had been started and the propellers tested. The boys were so
close that the wind from these beat on their faces, whirling dead grass
and dust about them in a choking cloud.

“Chase yourselves, you kids,” called the young aviator in a not
unpleasant voice.

“You bet he knows how to run things,” exclaimed Sammy Addington, who
was once more in the gang’s fold.

While thousands of spectators shouted and shoved and the Elm Street
boys fought to stick together and keep in front, the man who had ridden
at the front of the morning parade and who continually warned all to
look out for their horses, as the elephants were coming, sprang onto
the aeroplane wagon and swept his big black hat from his head.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he exclaimed in a deep, far-reaching voice, “I
desire to introduce to you the youngest and most skilled aviator in the
world, Master Willie Bonner.” At these words young Bonner leaped on the
hub of a wagon wheel and doffed his cap without a smile or the least
concern for the mob of spectators. “I desire to add,” went on the deep
voice, “that, as a special mark of respect for your beautiful little
city, Master Bonner has decided to alter his program somewhat, to-day.
Theahfore, instead of making a long flight at this time he desiahs me
to announce that he will now simply give you an exhibition in the lowah
atmospheres.” As murmurs of disapproval and disgust were heard, the
man hastened to add: “He is doing this, because, sharp at five o’clock
this afternoon, he has determined to make an attempt to lowah the
world’s record for altitude flight.” Cheers sounded, which the speaker
stilled with uplifted hand. “Master Bonner’s aeroplane carries enough
gasoline for a two hours’ flight. With his tanks charged to their
full capacity this world-famous young aviator will at five o’clock
head his aeroplane cloudward. He will soar heavenward until his fuel
is exhausted; then he will shut down his engine and execute a daring
volplane to the earth. Remembah, at five o’clock! Master Bonner will
now give you an exhibition of rising, banking, fast flying, spirals and
lighting; being careful to keep at all times within full view so that
all may have an opportunity to observe these death-defying feats. Watch
him closely!”

Alex Conyers snorted openly and disgustedly.

“They’re stringin’ us, kids,” he whispered hoarsely. “They ain’t
a-goin’ to be anything more doin’ at five o’clock than they is now.
These circuses don’t do half the bills say.”

“They’re a pack o’ swindlers and robbers,” added Art with peculiar
emphasis. “I’ll bet that old aeroplane can’t fly at all.”

But, in this, he was wrong. Alex was right about the five o’clock
promise, however. At that hour Master Bonner did not fly at all nor
for many days to come. The reason grew out of the biggest sensation
Scottsville ever had and, incidently, what came from this sensation had
a lot to do with the summer plans of the newly organized Boy Scouts.
This will be narrated in order, however.

About twenty minutes after one o’clock Master Willie suddenly climbed
aboard his small and soiled aeroplane. He seemed to take time only to
adjust his cap and tighten his gloves when the engine started, the roar
of the propellers broke out and the skeleton craft began wobbling along
the ground. Then accompanied by gulps in the throats of thousands, it
jumped up and stayed in the air. For the first time a real aeroplane
had flown in Scottsville.

Out toward the town limits the young aviator drove his car with half
of the spectators in wild pursuit. Then he turned, rose to the height
of perhaps five hundred feet, and heading again toward the circus
lot, landed in less than ten minutes from the time he started. The
“spirals” and “banking” were over and thirteen half disappointed,
half delighted boys hurried away to visit the side show――the “World’s
Congress of Wonders.”

The sensation that interfered with everything occurred just as the
circus performance came to an end, a little after four o’clock. The Elm
Streeters had all provided themselves with tickets for the concert.
They bought these at the first opportunity and, about halfway through
the performance, when the deep-voiced announcer made another speech,
they could only grip their precious tickets with new delight.

Jumping upon one of the stools used by pink-legged performers to hold
up the banners when the bareback riding was in progress, the man
exclaimed:

“Ladies and gentlemen, in making my announcement a few moments ago
concerning the grand concert and minstrel show that takes place
immediately upon the conclusion of this performance, which is not yet
half ovah, I neglected to state that each and every curiosity of the
side museum will also be introduced into the arena. Agents will now
pass among you once more. The price of admission is ten cents, one
dime.”

The concert was not held. While those who had neglected to purchase
tickets were crowding through the sawdust strewn passageway between the
“big top” or circus and the long odorous menagerie tent, there was a
sudden commotion. The crowd jammed forward and back at the same time.
For a moment no sound indicated the cause of the excitement and then a
roar of “Look out! Look out!” swept through the tents. At the same time
a white-faced canvasman with a pitchfork in his hand sprang under the
side of the circus tent and yelled to the “concert people”:

“Come on! Old Growls is out again! Come on――git a fork or suthin’!”

“Keep your seats,” yelled the loud-voiced announcer, “the tiger’s
escaped but you’re safest in here. Keep your seats!”

In another instant he was deep in the panic-stricken mob, yelling for
the people to “come back” and “nobody’s goin’ to be hurt; come this
way.”

The terrified Elm Streeters held onto each other for a few moments,
rising to their feet. Then as the white-faced mob began to swell
toward them Connie shouted:

“Come on. We can get out through the dressing room.”

Others had started that way, but led by Connie and Art the boys
plowed their way across the sawdust-covered ring to the dressing room
entrance. Then, through the open horse entrance, they rushed out
among wagons and horse tents. A cry of warning greeted them. One look
along the side of the big tents showed a dozen men armed with stakes,
pitchforks and sledges.

“Get back there, you kids. The tiger’s here!”

Before the trembling lads could retreat, a long form shot from beneath
a low wagon, bounded forward and then paused. It was a gaunt and mangy
tiger, its lips drawn back in a snarl and its almost hairless tail
beating the ground.

“Run! Run!” yelled some one.

There had been no time to move. But the cry of warning aroused the
tiger. A suppressed snarl broke from the beast and its dimly striped,
sinuous length lunged forward again. But it was not toward the boys.
With three bounds, arising each time like a rubber ball, the beast
disappeared within a horse tent. The fear-stricken lads waited no
longer. As if aroused from a spell they turned and fled around the
dressing tent.

The boys heard the neighing cries of the haltered horses and at last,
their tongues loosened, they told of what they had seen and escaped.
Then came new crashes beyond the tents, the shouts of attendants, one
piercing snarl of the tiger, and then the cries of those in chase grew
fainter. The animal aroused by the taste of blood, for it had crushed
the neck of a horse, was in renewed flight. Between wagons it had slunk
away and had headed toward the edge of town. A thousand persons, young
and old, were in a panic flight in the other direction, toward the
residence part of town.

It seemed but a few minutes until the warning had spread throughout
Scottsville. Children were hastily summoned and taken within doors;
stores were closed; armed men appeared; women stood, door knobs in
hand, pale-faced and trembling; parents whose children had attended
the performance rushed about excitedly calling to all concerning their
offsprings’ whereabouts. Mr. Trevor was not missing among these. Many
Elm Street mothers paced their lawns as if awaiting some messenger of
death. And the Elm Street boys themselves? Their first panic over, they
naturally set out in the direction the beast had taken.

“He’s over in Jackson’s Woods,” came a message from somewhere.
Jackson’s Woods marked the end of the town, a half-cleared bit of
forest. Cautiously and following other pursuers the boys hurried in
that direction. When they came to its edge, fifty or more men were seen
in a crowd. Well beyond them, on the edge of the old “frog pond” and
low on the ground, Old Growls was lapping water in apparent content.

While the pursuers took council, the beast arose, looked lazily at the
crowd and then walked slowly toward a clump of half-dead trees. Here,
the pursuers again advancing slowly, the tiger paused, hunched himself
and then, as lightly as a kitten, sprang into the lower limbs of a
tree, broken off about halfway up.

One or two men rushed ahead but the tiger gave them no heed. Slowly it
made its way up the tree trunk until it reached an open place above
the last dead branches. Then curling its body about the trunk and on
the limbs the animal seemed to settle itself in the warm sun for its
first taste of freedom.

The first man that the boys recognized was Marshal Walter, who had just
arrived in a buggy, a rifle clenched in his trembling hands.

“Where is he?” panted the veteran official.

“In the top o’ that tree,” yelled a dozen spectators. “An’ he’d ought
to be shot,” added one.

“I’ll soon put him out o’ business,” announced the marshal. “Stan’ back
there, you ’at ain’t armed.”

“What d’you mean?” cried the deep-voiced “announcer,” who now turned
out to be one of the owners of the Great Western Show. “Don’t you put
no bullet in that animal. He’s worth two thousand dollars of any man’s
money. Don’t you do him no damage or you’ll pay for it. He ain’t done
no harm and ain’t a-goin’ to. We’ll take care o’ him. He’s been loose
before. Drop that gun,” he concluded in a tone that alarmed the marshal.

“I’m here to protect life and property,” began the marshal.

“They ain’t a-goin’ to be nobody hurt,” expostulated the circus owner.
“I’ll take care of that.”

By the circus man’s side stood a young man who had been studying the
treed tiger. At this moment the boy spoke to the circus proprietor, who
gave immediate signs of surprise. Then the boy seemed urging something,
and while the man stood as if perplexed, the lad turned and hurried
away on a run.

“It’s Master Willie Bonner, the Aviator,” exclaimed Art.

“I reckon he’s goin’ back to the show to give his cloud-piercin’
exhibition,” suggested Wart Ware. “It’s nearly five o’clock.”

“Not much,” exclaimed Alex Conyers. “The show people ain’t a-goin’ to
bother about free shows while their two thousand dollar tiger’s loose.”

Marshal Walter was still arguing with the showman but the latter seemed
to be having his way with the official, for the marshal made no effort
to shoot the animal. The crowd grew larger. Everyone wanted to know why
the tiger was in the tree? Why he was not somewhere else? Had he killed
any one? Why didn’t some one do something!

The Elm Streeters kept together and as far from Marshal Walter as
was consistent with keeping in the crowd. At this point Mr. Trevor’s
automobile appeared on the edge of the crowd. It was recognized by the
boys and all knew what it meant. Much excited, Mr. Trevor sprang out of
the machine and Art hastened forward.

“You should have gone home at once, Arthur. Where’s the tiger?”

When he had been shown the beast he rounded up the children of his
neighbors and crowded them into the automobile. “We’ll wait a few
minutes, boys,” he explained, “to see what happens. I guess we can get
away all right if his Royal Bengal Highness takes a notion to come
down.”

There was continued debate between the circus proprietor and the
excited marshal, during which the still increasing number of spectators
edged nearer the tree and the tiger. Finally it moved, got upon its
feet and raised the upper part of its body along the tree trunk as if
to examine the broken tree top.

“It’ll come down or do something now,” suggested Art.

“I’d think they’d shoot,” added Connie.

A man in the crowd suddenly raised his arm and pointed toward that
part of town where the circus stood.

“It’s the aeroplane,” shouted Colly excitedly.

“It’s comin’ in this direction,” yelled Art. “Gee whiz, watch him.”

“I’ll bet it’s that boy a-goin’ to do something to the tiger,” cried
Connie jumping on the rear seat and waving his hat. “Mebbe he ain’t
flyin’ though!”

As each boy struggled to get in a better position to see, Sammy
Addington almost crushed in the jam of thirteen boys, and howling and
kicking, the circus aeroplane darted over the automobile.

“I told you so! I told you so!” roared Connie. “Look at his rope!”

All could make that out. In his left hand the youthful aviator held
several long loops of light rope. Was he going to lasso the beast? How
could he do it with his left hand? And if he did, how could he hold the
line and manage the aeroplane? It was not necessary to theorize long.
What followed showed that “Master Willie Bonner’s” noonday flight was
little indication of what the nervy little aviator could do with his
aeroplane.

Sailing low, he passed almost directly over the tree. As he did so, the
long line dropped in a dozen loops onto the dead branches. While they
were yet in the air the flying machine made a quick and sharp bank to
the left. The end of the line was in young Bonner’s hand. The aeroplane
dipped downward and then, with an instant’s check, began immediately
to bank on an upward dart, the rope paying out behind and circling the
tree.

A yell arose from the crowd and in the automobile every boy had a
different exclamation.

“He’s windin’ the tiger up,” shouted Ware. And that really expressed
it. The loose end of the line lay on a limb some yards below the
animal. It did not catch and, apparently, there was no need why it
should. The first circling dart of the aeroplane looped the line about
the limbs and trunk of the tree. Like a bicycle on a quick turn, the
flying machine, still at an angle of at least forty-five degrees, made
a second circuit――this time higher. The swaying rope followed.

As the loose line passed the apparently indifferent animal, the beast
suddenly struck at it with a paw. The rope slipped under the tiger’s
leg and before the now aroused beast could escape it another circle
of the airship had placed a coil about the tiger. The gaunt animal now
began to attack the line in earnest but with each spiral bank of the
aeroplane his entanglement grew worse.

At last, every one cheering and calling out directions, there was not
over fifty feet of line left. A dozen turns of rope had entangled
themselves about the tree and the wildly resisting beast, when speaking
for the first time, the aviator yelled:

“Here she comes. Take up the slack and you’ve got him.”

With this Bonner dropped the end of the line. Dozens of nervy
spectators grabbed it and, with a quick pull, drew it taut about the
snarling tiger.

“Get an ax,” yelled the circus man.

“Look! The aeroplane!” screamed a boy in the automobile.

There was only time to see that the flying machine was in trouble. In
righting itself, it had already banked itself sharply to the right.
There were two quick darts and then the planes seemed to buckle. Like
a broken kite, the machine dropped straight to the ground in a tangled
wreck, the aviator underneath.



CHAPTER IX

THE CIRCUS LOSES ITS AVIATOR


By this time scores of circus employees had reached the edge of
the woods. The principal owner had also arrived. He seemed to take
charge of everything. With orders to those holding the rope binding
the helpless tiger he hurried to the wrecked aeroplane. While Mr.
Trevor and the boys followed on a run, a dozen men lifted the twisted
sections. Face down, with the lower plane section on his back and his
face buried in the marshy ground, lay the unconscious young aviator.

While some lifted the wrecked machine, others drew the boy from the
wreckage and laid him on the grass. Then the crowd closed about. Mr.
Trevor forced his way into the curious group and assisted in the
examination. There was no blood. But apparently the lad was severely
injured.

“I have a machine here,” Mr. Trevor exclaimed to the circus owner.
“Where do you want him taken?”

“I don’t know,” answered the man. “Better take him to the train I
suppose. There’s a colored man there. I’ll send a doctor right away.”

There was no lack of volunteers to bear the limp body to Mr. Trevor’s
machine. Selecting Art and Alex, Mr. Trevor laid the pale-faced aviator
on the rear seat with the two boys to look after him.

“Want to go with us?” he called to the circus owner. “It’ll be faster.”

“I’ve got a horse here,” was the answer. “I’ll be along at once. I’ve
got to look after this animal now.”

Even in his haste and concern for the injured boy, Mr. Trevor looked up
in surprise.

“Very well,” he said. “We’ll look after him.”

The power was thrown on and the automobile was speeded to the center of
the town. On the first motion of it the unconscious boy began to groan.

“He’s pretty white, father,” said Art over his shoulder. “Hurry.”

The suffering boy was dressed in soiled and worn clothing but it was
now seen that he had a good face, clean-cut features, heavy brown hair
and big hands, strong beyond his years, which very apparently were not
more than seventeen.

At high speed Mr. Trevor dashed through the town to the side-tracked
circus train. Both Mr. Trevor and Alex sprang out and ran to the old
sleeping cars at the end of the train. They were all locked. There was
no one in charge. If a colored man should have been there he had left
his post.

“Don’t look any longer, father; I can’t stand his groanin’. Let’s find
a doctor.”

Mr. Trevor whirled the machine into a side street and in a few moments
stopped before a little single-room office on a back street.

“Brown,” he called anxiously, “hurry out here.”

A youngish man, Dr. Brown, appeared in his shirt sleeves.

“What’s the matter?” he exclaimed, catching sight of the boy and
springing to the lad’s side. “Seems to be in a bad way,” he added
catching young Bonner’s wrist. In some mysterious way a few people
began at once to surround the automobile.

“It’s a boy from the circus,” explained Art. “He fell in an aeroplane.
Is he much hurt?”

From the boy’s pulse the doctor’s hands had reached for the boy’s
heart and forehead. Without reply, the doctor sprang to the ground and
an instant later was back with a stimulant which he forced between
the injured boy’s teeth. Again he took hold of his wrist and for some
moments sat in silence watching the unconscious form.

Meanwhile Mr. Trevor was pleading with the growing crowd to stand back.
Apparently the effect of the doctor’s stimulant was not what he had
hoped. Rushing into the office once more he came out with his hat and
coat, his surgical case and a hypodermic syringe. He bared the lad’s
arm――there was no sign of blood――then injected some other stimulant.

“Where does he belong?” Dr. Brown asked with concern. “He must be cared
for at once. It’s only another proof of Scottsville’s disgrace――the
lack of a hospital. I can’t examine him here. Are there any
accommodations at the circus?”

Mr. Trevor had thought of that and he knew that there was neither bed
nor cot at the circus.

“I hardly know where to take him,” Mr. Trevor began. “Perhaps we had
better go to a hotel――”

“Take him home, father,” exclaimed Art. “I wish you would. There’s no
one at the hotel. Mebbe he’s goin’ to die.”

Without reply Mr. Trevor turned to the wheel again and, the doctor
crouching at the young aviator’s side with the boy’s hand in his, it
was only a few turns and Elm Street was reached.

Mrs. Trevor’s alarm at the sight of the prostrate form, was because
she was sure it was Arthur. But a word of explanation turned her into
an efficient emergency nurse. A few minutes later the still-groaning
victim was lying in the snowy sheets of one of Mrs. Trevor’s guest beds.

Art and Alex crowded the doorway until there came a sudden order from
Dr. Brown that Dr. Wells be called, and the two boys dashed away in the
automobile on this errand. When the other physician had been found and
carried to the Trevor home there was some news of the lad’s condition.

“There’s a bad wound in his back,” explained Mr. Trevor coming from the
sick room, “and he’s lost a good deal of blood. His underclothes were
saturated. His spine may be injured. There’s something the matter with
his legs, too.”

Art and Alex could only retire to the porch and await developments.
It was the first time either had come into such close contact with a
serious accident and both were excited. In half an hour Mr. Trevor
appeared; very grave in looks.

“Drive me to the circus, Arthur. You may come too, Alex,” he added.

It was discovered that the rear seat was damp with blood. The cushions
were turned over and the trip to the grounds hastily made.

The traveling owners of the show were yet at the scene of the accident
engaged in the task of caging the trapped tiger. Mr. Trevor ordered the
machine driven to that place. The smashed aeroplane was lying where it
fell. The principal owner was superintending the recovery of the tiger.
His horse and light wagon stood near. There was every sign that he had
forgotten even to summon a doctor to attend his injured employee.

Circus hands had brought up an empty animal cage and an animal transfer
box used in shipping savage beasts. Some one had crawled halfway up
the tree and made fast two heavy ropes. Then the partly rotten tree
had been cut through at the base and, some holding the tree base in
place, dozens of employees had eased the severed tree trunk to the
ground. Those familiar with wild beasts had already further pinioned
the growling tiger’s legs and, with much hauling and shouting, the bony
tiger had just been drawn into the transfer crate.

“How’s the kid?” was the owner’s salutation.

“In a bad way I think. What do you want to do with him?”

“He’ll be all right in the car. I’m just goin’ to get a doctor.”

“The cars were closed. We couldn’t get into them. I’ve taken the boy to
my home to be examined.”

“Couldn’t get in the car?” was the circus man’s reply. “The nigger must
’a’ been asleep. I’ll see that it’s opened. You take him where I said.
Bad luck always comes double. We nearly lost our only tiger an’ now
this kid has to go an’ dump hisself. That’ll cut out our exhibition, to
say nothin’ ’bout a doctor bill.”

“I’m afraid he can’t be moved for several hours,” began Mr. Trevor.

“Well he’ll have to be moved before midnight,” answered the circus
man. “We can’t wait for him.”

“Hadn’t you better make some arrangement to have him cared for in this
town?” asked Mr. Trevor, his lips closing.

“I don’t see why I should,” answered the circus proprietor. “Business
is rotten enough. I’ve got to hire as cheap as I can and when work
stops, pay stops. Some one’s always sick.”

“You don’t mean to say you’re not going to care for this unfortunate
boy?” asked Mr. Trevor.

“I’ll care for him as well as I can if he comes along with the show.
You bring him to the train like I told you and I’ll do what I can.
That’s our practice in the show business. If he can’t do that he’ll
have to quit.”

“Quit!” exclaimed Mr. Trevor, his cheeks flushing. “Do you mean to say
you’ll not only abandon him but discharge him too?”

“What’s it to you?” broke in the man angrily. “Ain’t you mixin’ up a
little in our affairs? If you don’t like my way of doin’ things, go
about your own business!”

“My business,” replied Mr. Trevor calmly, “is looking after other
people’s business, sometimes. I can see that this boy has possibly
been killed in your service and while engaged in a task that no
reasonable employer would demand or permit. Should he die, I shall make
it my business to look up his parents or relatives. If he lives and is
incapacitated in any way you may expect to hear from me. It will cost
you more in damages than decent care of him will now cost you.”

The man winced and grew white with anger.

“What he done was voluntary,” he hastened to answer. “An’ as far as
damage suits goes――that’s up to you and him. But I’ll bet you this: I
didn’t start in the show business yesterday. This kid’s under contract
with me all signed and witnessed, both him and his machine. When he
pulls off his act he gets his money. When he don’t show up there ain’t
nothin’ doin’. What he done this afternoon was his own lookout. I
didn’t ask him. If you’ll figure out for me just why I should go on
a-payin’ him when his rotten old machine breaks, you’re quite some
figurer.”

Mr. Trevor was trembling with rage and contempt.

“How much a day do you pay him?” he asked at last.

“None o’ your business.”

“It will be mighty soon,” exclaimed the lawyer.

“Father,” broke in Art. “He said it was the boy’s aeroplane.”

“Correct,” snorted the circus man. “It’s his all right. I ain’t no
claim on it an’ I ain’t goin’ to touch it. When he wants it let him
send his friends for it.”

Although nearly all in the crowd were yet massed around the captured
tiger, a number of spectators had been attracted by the showman’s loud
words. Among these was Marshal Walter.

“Walter,” exclaimed Mr. Trevor with authority as he turned his back on
the showman, “that wrecked flying machine belongs to the young man who
was injured. The boy may die but we’re going to try to save him. Till
he recovers, he’ll be at my house. I want you to see that his property
is protected. To-night or in the morning I’ll send men to get it. Send
your deputy to the circus and get any other property or baggage he may
have.”

Without another look at the circus owner, Mr. Trevor summoned the two
boys and shortly before six o’clock reached his home again. Here all
were glad to learn that the suffering young aviator had aroused himself
for a few moments under stimulants and, his wounds having been dressed,
had fallen asleep. Other boys had already congregated at the house but
only Art and Connie were permitted to tip-toe into the guest chamber
for the first time. The boy on the bed looked very young. His big hands
lay limply on the smooth white sheet.

“He ain’t groanin’, anyway,” whispered Art.

“He’s resting very well now,” explained Dr. Brown. “To-morrow we’ll
know more about his injury. Mrs. Trevor,” he added, “I’ll have a nurse
here in half an hour.”

It appeared that Mr. Trevor had been deeply incensed at the
heartlessness of the circus people. He ordered the doctors to give
the boy every attention and that no expense be spared in getting a
competent nurse. He also did considerable telephoning before dinner and
later, explained that he had arranged to have the remnants of Bonner’s
machine collected and stored in McGuire’s farm and implement warehouse.
When the nurse appeared later and Mrs. Trevor was relieved from duty
she came down stairs as determined as her husband to protect the
unfortunate victim.

All day Sunday the patient lay in the big, dark room, partly under the
influence of opiates. There was no sign of suffering. That evening he
began to show signs of consciousness. The doctors, hastily summoned,
dressed his injuries anew and made a fuller examination. The verdict
was that he was recovering from the shock. That night the boy was
restless but the fact was kept from the family by the nurse. At
breakfast, however, she said she had reported conditions to the doctor,
who arrived within a few minutes. Dr. Brown had been with the sick boy
only a short time when he came down stairs and told Mr. Trevor that the
boy was fully conscious and insisted on knowing what had happened and
where he was. “And you’d better tell him,” suggested the doctor. “Ease
his mind all you can.”

When Mr. Trevor reappeared, a half hour later, he had a sober face.
Art, Alex and Wart Ware were with Mrs. Trevor on the porch.

“I’m mighty glad we happened to be there,” Mr. Trevor began. “It would
have been a shame for that boy to have fallen into the hands of his
scoundrelly employer. Our young patient’s name is what the bills
announce, William Bonner. He isn’t seventeen yet and he’s an orphan. He
lives in Newark, New Jersey. I told him all that happened. He did not
seem to remember about the tiger but he asked at once if the aeroplane
was wrecked. I thought I’d ease his mind and I told him ‘only a little
damaged.’”

“Ain’t a whole piece in it, ’cept the engine,” volunteered Ware, “but
I’m glad you didn’t tell him.”

“How’d he get an aeroplane,” asked Art, “if he’s an orphan?”

“He’s been working for the American Aeroplane Company for three years,”
explained Mr. Trevor. “Over a year ago he began making an aeroplane
of his own in a shed near his uncle’s home. He lived with his uncle.
In the meantime he learned to operate aeroplanes and was used as a
demonstrator. When his machine was as far along as he could get it
himself, some of the older workmen helped him. The material for it he
bought from the company and when he was ready for an engine he bought
that too. It cost him six hundred dollars and his other supplies two
hundred dollars. He had three hundred dollars that he paid and he owed
for the other five hundred. In the latter part of May this circus came
to Newark and Bonner applied for a job, promising to give two shows
each day. He got a ‘lay off’ from the factory for the summer and hoped
to pay off his debt in that way.”

“How much was he to get?” interrupted Connie eagerly.

“Five dollars a day and his living,” answered Mr. Trevor indignantly.
“You see what kind of living he must have had. He was with the circus
five weeks and got his pay up to Saturday night. Out of it he sent
one hundred dollars to apply on his debt. Most of the rest went for
gasoline and repairs. When I told him where he was he began to cry. He
was worried because he had no money and had lost his job.”

“Poor boy,” exclaimed Mrs. Trevor.

“Can’t we go up and see him?” asked Art.

“Not to-day,” answered Mr. Trevor. “He’s worried so about all the
trouble he was causing that I had to ease his mind. I told him if
he wanted to, he could have a job as chauffeur with us as long as he
liked.”

“Is he going to?” cried Art.

“Boys,” responded Mr. Trevor softly. “Poor Bonner may never have a
chance to do anything again.”



CHAPTER X

THE BOY SCOUTS’ FIRST SALUTE


What Mr. Trevor had just done for the boy aviator of the circus made
the sympathetic lawyer even more of a hero to the Elm Street boys.
The next morning the home of Art’s parents was the rallying point of
nearly every one of the young Boy Scouts. The talk of these boys ran on
but three things――the condition of the injured boy, the wreck of his
aeroplane and the arrival of the new scout uniforms.

Art was discussing the matter of the aeroplane when Mr. Trevor, who had
waited at home, visited the garage. The sick boy had not passed a bad
night but the crisis had not yet been reached. There must be quiet. The
boys were asked to play somewhere else.

“Can we go to McGuire’s and see his aeroplane?” asked Art.

“No,” answered Mr. Trevor positively. “It is the only fortune the boy
has and his means of livelihood. I want no one to go near it or touch
it until he is able to look it over.”

All day the boys discussed the possibilities of what would follow if
Bonner recovered and became the Trevor chauffeur. Art had dreams he did
not attempt to conceal.

“I’ll bet you he can fix the aeroplane if he made it. That’ll be our
chance. We’ll chip in and pay for what he needs. Mebbe we can get a
ride in it.”

“Mebbe he’ll teach us to fly it ourselves,” ventured Colly Craighead.

From airships, the talk under the big maple tree in the Conyers yard
ran to the suspended Boy Scout program. As the possibilities of this
were expounded by Connie, every one came forward with suggestions as
to the first outing. Lew Ashwood proposed the thing that met general
approval: a hike to Round Rock River and an exploration of the
abandoned quarry.

“It’s five miles to the river,” explained Lew. “We can start at five
o’clock in the morning, when it’s cool, and each fellow can carry grub
in his knapsack, only we’ll each take something different so’s we can
cook up a big breakfast when we get to the river. I’ll take enough
frankfurters for everyone, about four or five pounds. The rest of
you’ll have to take bread an’ eggs an’ tea――”

“How about lunch an’ supper?” piped up Sammy Addington.

“An’ some’ll have to take ham an’ things for lunch,” went on Lew.
“We’ll get supper when we get home.”

“You can get dinner at the farmer’s out there,” suggested Connie. “He
gets it for fishermen if they telephone to him.”

“What!” exclaimed Art. “Boy Scouts eatin’ a bought meal on a table in a
house? We might as well stay at home.”

“Sure,” shouted a boy. “We want to camp out and cook on our own fire.
We got to have bacon too so’s if we don’t catch any fish.”

“That’s right,” agreed Art. “We ought to take some fishin’ tackle.
Round Rock’s great for bass. If anything happened to our provisions we
ought to catch some fish to keep from starvin’.”

“If we had a shotgun,” suggested Ashwood, “we might bring down some
squirrels. There’s oceans o’ squirrels on Round Rock.”

“Squirrel potpie’s great,” put in Sandy Sheldon. “Can any kid make
squirrel potpie? We’d ought to take some flour and potatoes.”

“Boy Scouts can’t carry firearms,” remarked Connie. “That’s one of the
laws, you know.”

“Not even to keep ’em from starvin’?” asked Lew.

“I reckon it’s to keep ’em from shootin’ each other,” laughed Connie.

“They ain’t no need to bother ’bout fish and squirrels,” broke in young
Abercrombie. “Let ever’ kid take all he can carry or his folks’ll give
him. I reckon we ought to get up two meals out o’ that. An’ in the
evening we’ll get Mr. Trevor to send the big automobile to the river
for us.”

“Hadn’t we ought to hike it both ways?” asked Art, dubiously.

“We’d ought to I reckon,” allowed Connie, “by the rules. But for a
starter mebbe we could ride home. An’ you know we’ll be hikin’ all day
up the river to the old quarry.”

Out of enthusiasm of this sort the boys finally found themselves grown
so energetic that they could wait no longer for the coming drill
manual. With the martial knowledge that every boy possesses to some
extent, they left the shade of the maple and formed a drill squad. From
marching and countermarching they fell to tracking an imaginary enemy,
scaling imaginary breastworks, rescuing each other in the face of the
enemy’s fire and binding up imaginary wounds.

In Scottsville the dinner hour was at noon. While most of the
perspiring scouts were engaged at this meal, several of them received
telephone calls from their leader.

“They’ve come!” was the excited announcement. “I got a letter. We’re
accepted for the Boy Scouts an’ they’s a certificate――‘Scottsville
Patrol No. 1――Wolves.’ The uniforms mebbe is at the express office now
an’ the books. Hurry up an’ come to my house.”

“Don’t forget to tell the boys,” said Mr. Trevor to his son, immensely
pleased over the interest the boys were showing in his plan, “that the
sick boy was hungry this morning and ate a little broth. I don’t know
whether one’s good wishes can help another but if they can, the Wolves
ought to make our patient get well.”

“You bet we’re a-pullin’ for him all the time. Say, father,” exclaimed
Art, “when Bonner gets well why couldn’t he be a Boy Scout if he stays
here? He ain’t too old.”

Mr. Trevor’s face showed surprise and then the surprise turned into a
smile.

“There isn’t any reason, if he wanted to, and you boys selected him
and liked him. I don’t believe he has ever had a real home or any boy
life. However, I wouldn’t suggest it to the other boys until he is much
better.”

But the eager young scouts had to content themselves with their charter
that day. The eagerly awaited uniforms did not come. In the late
afternoon discouraging news from the sick room reached those in the
garage, where aeroplanes were again under discussion. The sick boy
had begun to show some temperature, a bad sign, and both doctors were
“going to operate.” But it wasn’t quite so bad as that.

A small fragment of a spruce upright had been taken from young Bonner’s
back. Both doctors made another examination of the injury. As they
feared they discovered a second splinter which was only removed after
an incision had been made. It was exhausting to the suffering boy, for
an anesthetic was not administered, and those in the garage below could
hear the sounds of his suffering. But from that time the boy began to
mend.

All the Wolves were at the depot the next morning when No. 28 came in.
There it was, dumped off the express car as carelessly as if it had
been ordinary merchandise――one large box for “Mr. Alexander Conyers.”
The driver of the express wagon knew what it meant and with a grin
promised immediate delivery at Connie’s home. On the corner of the big
box was a glorious label. It read:

                            SCOUT SUPPLIES.

                COMPLETE OUTFITS FOR SCOUTING PARTIES.
                         SPECIALLY LOW PRICES.

                 HATS, SHIRTS, BELTS, JERSEYS, SCARFS,
                      KNICKERS, MACKINTOSH CAPES.

                 SCOUTMASTER’S UNIFORMS IN ALL SIZES.

                  BILLY AND MESS TINS, CAMP KETTLES,
                  KIT BAGS, LAMPS AND WATER BOTTLES,
                          TENTS AND MARQUEES.

                       CHICAGO UNIFORM COMPANY.

The packing case, about seven feet long, instantly had to be examined
by each of the thirteen boys. All the depot loungers had to have a peek
too. Among these was a broad-shouldered boy who approached unobserved.

“Hello, kiddos,” was his hearty greeting. “What’s doin’?” Then he
saw Connie’s name and the label. While the Elm Streeters fell back
momentarily with cloudy faces the new arrival read the card on the box.

“Boy Scouts, eh?” he laughed. “I heard o’ them. You guys tired o’ toy
aeroplanes?”

“None o’ your business, Hank Milleson,” retorted Art savagely.

At a glance from Connie, Art flushed. He realized at once that there
wasn’t much Boy Scout spirit in his answer. Then he added: “You bet.
An’ it’s great. Them’s all uniforms an’ things. We’re all goin’ to
drill an’ goin’ campin’ and scoutin’.”

“That sounds good to me,” commented Hank. “Did you have to buy ’em?”

“Mr. Trevor bought ever’thing,” explained Connie. “He figured it all
out for us. We’re the Wolf Patrol.”

“It’s like soldiers, ain’t it?” said Hank. “I read about ’em.”

“Soldiers an’ scouts. Reg’lar scouts,” volunteered Sammy Addington.

Hank passed his big, soiled hand over his mouth in perplexity. An
envious look shone on his face.

“I wish’t I could see ’em,” he said embarrassed and pointing to the box.

“We’re goin’ to drill this evenin’,” said Connie. “We’d be glad to
have you come over to my house ’bout four o’clock if you’d like to.”

Hank’s perplexity was now open astonishment. And the Elm Streeters
showed little less.

“You don’t mean me an’ the gang?” exclaimed Hank at last.

“Sure,” answered Connie. “You ain’t goin’ to be in the way.”

The Elm Streeters almost gasped. A direct invitation from Elm Street
to the Goosetowners to visit that exclusive locality! Art edged up to
Connie and gave him a questioning look.

“Article four,” whispered Connie with a chuckle. “A Scout is a friend
to all――”

“Sure,” exclaimed Art, conscience-stricken and turning to his late foe
and rival. “Come over. Bygones is bygones.”

The Boy Scout idea had worked its first wonder on the scrappy Art. All
but Connie stood open-mouthed in wonder. Sammy Addington shook his head
sadly. He would not invite Nick Apthorp at least.

When the box had been deposited in Conyers’ back yard and feverishly
opened, thirteen bundles and a long package lay before the tingling
boys. On top was a large envelope marked “Invoice,” directed to Mr.
Trevor in care of “Mr. Alex Conyers.” It was unsealed. Connie opened it
and spread it before the boys. It was a list of the contents of the box
and read:

  To 12 Scout hats, khaki felt, wide stiff brim and chin
          strap                                                  $3.25
  ”   1 Patrol Leader hat, ditto, with pugaree                     .65
  ”  12 Scout shirts, khaki, brown, military pockets,
          official pattern                                        4.68
  ”   1 Patrol Leader shirt, ditto, with collars, cuffs and
          buttons                                                  .80
  ”  12 Scout belts, pigskin, rings and swivels                   2.60
  ”   1 Patrol Leader belt, cowhide, strap for shoulder            .65
  ”  13 Scout haversacks, khaki drill                             1.90
  ”  13 Scout ties, black, 5×36 inches                            1.30
  ”  13 Scout lanyards                                             .30
  ”  13 Scout knives with marlinspike                             3.25
  ”  13 Scout whistles                                            2.08
  ”  13 “Billy” tins                                              2.60
  ”  13 Combined knives and forks                                 3.90
  ”   2 Semaphore signal flags                                     .30
  ”   1 Patrol flag, green, marked “WOLF”                          .25
                                                                ――――――
                                                                $33.81

“Gee,” exclaimed Colly Craighead. “That’s a lot.”

“It’s two dollars and sixty cents for each boy,” protested Connie. “An’
we got ever’thing we need but tents an’ blankets an’ we can get them
right here when we need them.”

Then unpacking began. Each package was marked with a boy’s name. And
the contents of each were suited to that boy’s size and measurement. In
the history of every boy present there had never come a happier moment.
In five minutes the Conyers’ yard was ablaze with newly caparisoned
youngsters; Connie, superior in his patrol leader hat, badge and cuffed
shirt, and Sammy Addington, by gracious consent, as the Wolf standard
bearer.

“Fall in,” shouted Patrol Leader Conyers at last and the smart uniforms
lined up together for the first time. By fours and by file the squad
marched and countermarched. After a half hour it was remembered that
the manuals, furnished free, and a part of the equipment were yet
unexamined. “Break ranks!” was ordered and the happy scouts returned to
the shade of the wide maple tree where the books were distributed.

Then, like swarming bees, the recruits began to devour “Scoutcraft”: a
scout’s work, his instructions, the scout laws, campaigning, camp life,
tracking, woodcraft, the chivalry of scouts. They read again and again
how General Baden-Powell had used the boys of Mafeking in the siege of
that town to assist the too few soldiers; all about the scouts’ badges
and medals for merit and bravery; what they meant and how to win them.

In the midst of this there came a shock. Some one discovered on the
street outside, Hank Milleson and his friends――the Goosetowners’
delegation. But the committee was small. In addition to Hank there
were Carrots Compton, Mart Clare and Buck Bluett. Nick Apthorp was
not present. Seeing this Sammy Addington sprang up, seized the Wolf
standard and came to a “present.” There was a snicker from the
Goosetowners.

Patrol Leader Conyers was about to yell, “Come in the yard,” when he
checked himself. His mother had not joined the scout ranks and Connie
had no reason to believe she had changed her views on the desirability
of her son’s associating with any Goosetowner. But not to be impolite
or forgetful of his invitation he ordered his scouts into line once
more. Then, that the visitors might have a full and close view of all
the new Wolf Patrol glory, he led his squad proudly out into the street
and past the half defiant quartette.

“Some neckties!” commented Mart Clare. “Take it from me.”

“What’s the sticks fur?” asked Carrots Compton derisively.

“Talk about yer Wild West!” added Buck Bluett. “Baby Buffalo Bills, all
right.”

“What’s on the flag?” asked Hank with more sincerity. “By gravy!” he
exclaimed as the undisciplined Sammy proudly dropped it for inspection.
“If it ain’t a howlin’ wolf an’ no less.”

“What’s the matter with Kyotes?” snickered Carrots Compton. “Ye can
tame a wolf.”

There was no reply from the ranks. The recently belligerent Elm
Streeters were now soldiers with a leader. Some of them were choking
red in the face, but with shoulders squared, they filed by their old
enemies without a retort. A moment later, with a file right and column
front, the little cavalcade wheeled and marched directly up to the four
bewildered Goosetowners. As if about to sweep down their guests, the
column advanced to within a few feet of Hank and his friends.

“Halt!” ordered Patrol Leader Conyers.

Sharply and with heels squarely together, the line came to a stand.

“Salute!”

Each scout’s right hand rose swiftly to the brim of his jaunty hat and
then Connie whirled, faced their observers, and raised his own hand.

“Aw, what you givin’ us?” exclaimed Hank.

“The scouts’ salute to a stranger,” answered Connie. “It means we think
you are the right sort of fellows and that we mean well to you.”

“Come off,” muttered Carrots Compton shifting uneasily. Then in another
tone, he added, “Say, kids, what’d them dicers cost?”



CHAPTER XI

THE “COYOTES” INVADE ELM STREET


One evening with his Boy Scout manual transformed Connie into a most
exacting military commander. And in two days the Wolf Patrol was
performing drill evolutions that inflated its members with pride.
Formal drill in full uniform took place each afternoon between four and
five o’clock. Then came semaphore signaling until six o’clock. Even
after supper there were “fireless” camp fires in Conyers’ yard where,
beneath the maple, Connie read aloud the history and aims of the Boy
Scout organization. This, in the manual, was described as “even song”
and always concluded with new and elaborate plans for the patrol’s
coming field campaign.

Lew Ashwood’s suggestion of an all-day hike to Round Rock River was
the first event scheduled. This was to take place on the following
Saturday. In the succeeding week all had agreed to make a second trip
to Bluff Creek about six miles east of town, and there spend two days
and two nights in camp.

Each boy had already secured permission to make the Round Rock trip
and Mr. Trevor and Sammy Addington’s father had promised to follow the
boys Saturday evening and bring them home in the automobile. Even the
mothers of all agreed to honor each boy’s requisition for food. There
was such general endorsement of Mr. Trevor’s work in organizing the
patrol and of his kindness in contributing uniforms for all, that it
would have been hard for any parent to refuse coöperation.

The sick boy was no worse. He was yet so weak that no one was admitted
to his room. Morning and night, when the doctor came, there was a
report for the Scouts, all of whom had come to look on the sick boy as
a personal friend, although not one of them had ever spoken to Bonner
and he was not conscious of ever having seen one of them. Yet he had
spoken to them. At the first flight of the aeroplane he had called to
them gruffly: “Chase yourselves, you kids.”

Each boy recalled this, but with no feeling of ill will. It was now
generally agreed that the words were meant kindly. At this time
came the first of three moves on the part of the Goosetowners which
were to set Scottsville by the ears again. The first action was most
unexpected. The Elm Streeters saw at once that the olive branch of
peace they had extended was not accepted in the same spirit. Envy and
jealousy were too much for Hank Milleson.

Wednesday evening, as the Wolf Patrol was forming for its daily dress
parade, quiet Elm Street suddenly resounded with the sound of fife
and drum. The clamor came from far up the street and rolled through
the leafy tunnel of the grand elms with martial resonance. The patrol
line dissolved into listeners and then came together in a knot of
indignant, red-faced boys. Straggling along in shiftless formation,
with Hank Milleson at their head and a fifer and a drummer just behind
him, appeared the entire Goosetown gang in a burlesque of the Wolf
Patrol. Behind the drummer and the fifer one of the marchers carried
a square of muslin on a lath. On this was the word “KIOTES.” As the
marching humorists began to file by the Elm Street crowd, all the
bitterness that led to the sycamore-tree fight revived. Without a word
to each other the Wolves moved forward. The Coyotes were grinning and
attempting some uniformity of step with the aid of a chorus of “hep,
hep, hep.” Connie saw that another crisis was at hand.

“Attention, Wolves!” he exclaimed. “Fall in!”

No one moved.

“Patrol, fall in!” came a second, quick command.

A few of the real scouts made a semblance of formation.

“The Wolf who doesn’t fall in on the next command,” whispered Connie
with determination, “loses his uniform and is discharged. Attention!
Fall in!”

With lips quivering, and white about their mouths, every Wolf did
his duty. The line was formed. Then Connie whirled about. With all
the dignity of a captain reporting to his superior, not a trace of
irritation showing on his face, he brought his right hand to a full
salute. Not to be outdone, the head of the Coyotes returned the salute,
his followers accompanying the act with snorts of laughter and loud
guffaws.

There were eleven boys in the mock parade. Each had made some attempt
to add to the humor of the occasion by painting his face, by the use
of odds and ends of clothing or by wearing some bit of old uniform,
old hat or even feathers in his hair. The marchers were Hank Milleson,
Job Wilkes beating an old snare drum, Joe Andrews blowing a fife on
which he had no skill whatever, Nick Apthorp carrying the improvised
standard, Matt Branson, Buck Bluett, Tom Bates, Pete Chester, Mart
Clare, Carrots Compton and Tony Cooper.

Hank’s costume was the one that aroused the bitterest resentment. He
was puffing at his black pipe and his bare feet and legs showed beneath
his trousers which were rolled up to the knees. His flaunting insult
was a soiled gingham apron which was tied about his waist and a faded
sunbonnet which partly concealed his face. But this stinging affront
was allowed to pass in dead silence.

The other costumes were less irritating, and reflected little
originality on the part of the performers; an old political marching
cap and cape, a poor imitation of an Indian, three guns, one sword
with clanging scabbard, a woman’s beflowered bonnet, one boy with an
infant’s nursing bottle, a great deal of colored chalk on hands and
cheeks, and goose and chicken feathers generously ornamenting hats and
caps, make a fair summary.

The crowning feature was more to the point. At the rear of the
single file cavalcade came Tony Cooper, the Sammy Addington of the
Goosetowners. Tony was dragging at his heels a fat, little yellow cur
puppy. On each yellow side of the pudgy little animal this word had
been inscribed with tar:

                                “WOLF”

A piece of twine encircled the puppy’s neck. Either frightened or in
pain the dog was waddling along and pulling backwards with jerks and
jumps. The unexpected salute by the leader of the Wolves, and Hank
Milleson’s embarrassed return of it, created surprise in both groups of
boys. Tony Cooper, at the end of the line, crowded forward to get the
details of what was happening. As he did so, his mind off the captive
puppy, the rolypoly little beast gave a new jump and the string came
out of Tony’s hand. Like a big ball of yellow yarn, the “Wolf” leaped
away with all his might. The captive had torn itself free!

Not even Patrol Leader Connie tried to keep his face straight. The
Wolves roared with laughter as Tony lit out after his charge.

“Wolf too much for you, eh!” yelled one of the Elm Streeters. “Look out
he don’t bite! Them wolves is fierce!”

Taunts came from others of the Wolf Patrol but Connie made no attempt
to detect the culprits as he was yet laughing himself.

“Better cage him!” called another scout. “Take all of you to handle
him!” was another yell.

“An’ at that,” retorted Nick Apthorp from the street, “he’s the
fiercest wolf I ever see.”

When it was seen that Tony had recaptured his puppy the fife and drum
broke out anew. At this, Connie advanced into the street and approached
Hank Milleson.

“Hank,” began Connie, “you know the boy ’at got hurt in the circus
aeroplane is over to Trevor’s?”

“Pretty soft fur him I reckon,” replied Hank. “I knowed he is.”

“Well, we don’t play around there. We don’t make no noise at Trevor’s
’cause he’s purty sick.”

“I heered he was goin’ to likely die,” commented Hank absently.

“I don’t know if he is or not,” answered Connie. “But the doctor says
they oughtn’t to be no noise where he can hear it.”

Hank hesitated, grew sober and then said:

“This is as fur as we was goin’ anyway.” In order not to show weakness,
however, he added: “We jus’ thought we’d come over here and tell you
not to come a-paradin’ ’round in our part of town wearin’ them baby
clothes.”

“Why do you come over here then, wearin’ monkey clothes?” retorted
Connie.

“’Cause it suits us. What you goin’ to do ’bout it?”

“Nothin’,” answered Connie. “March where you like. But, when you’ve
laughed yourself sick I wish you’d read this. It’s great,” and he
handed Hank his own new manual. “It’s a present,” he added.

“What you givin’ it to me fur?” asked the puzzled Hank.

“’Cause I liked it and all our fellows do. I think you’ll like it too.”

Hank looked at it as if in much doubt. Then he opened it, by chance,
at the picture of a camp scene with tents, camp fires, flagstaff, and
picturesquely clad young scouts lying beneath tall, shady trees.

“Purty swell,” he commented slowly. “You guys goin’ to do that?”

“You bet,” answered Connie.

“I reckon we’ll have to visit you.”

“Sure,” responded the Wolf Leader. “We’ll have eats enough for all.”

With a half wistful look at Connie, but with no reply to this
invitation, Hank turned and shambled away. He still held the open book
in his hand and, the decorated gang crowding closely about him, without
the sound of fife or drum and with Tony Cooper carrying the puppy in
his arms, the lately defiant crowd moved down the street.

Two hours later, when Connie came out from supper to hasten to the
usual “talk gathering” in Art’s front yard, he found Nick Apthorp
sitting on the curb in front of his home.

“Kind o’ out o’ your bailiwick, ain’t you, Nick?” exclaimed Connie with
a smile.

“Say,” replied Nick ignoring the banter, “you got any more o’ them
books? Hank hung onto the one you give him. It’s full o’ pictures. I
wish’t I could get one.”

“Mebbe Art Trevor’ll let you take his,” suggested Connie. “I got to get
another one myself.”

“I don’t want no favors o’ that guy,” responded Nick. “Can’t you get
me one? How much do they cost?”

“Twenty-five cents,” explained Connie. “I’m goin’ to send for another.
I’ll get you one if you like.”

“Well, you do it,” replied Nick. “Here’s a quarter ’at I got fur
passin’ soap samples. But I wish’t you wouldn’t say nothin’ ’bout
it――not to my gang nor to yours neither. Hank thinks he’s the whole
cheese. I’ll show him.”

“Sure,” said Connie taking the money. “I’ll――”

“When you guys goin’ campin’?” interrupted Nick as if that was his only
interest in seeing Connie.

“We ain’t goin’ campin’ right away,” responded Connie innocently.
“Saturday we’re goin’ to hike to Round Rock an’ cook our breakfast at
the cave. Then we’re goin’ to go up the river to Borden’s Ford――that’s
’bout four miles. There’s good bass fishin’ at the ford. We’re goin’ to
cook dinner there an’ fish awhile. An’ then we’re goin’ up to the old
quarry an’ loaf ’round till they bring the automobile for us.”

“I caught some fine bass at the ford,” volunteered Nick. He paused
rather wistfully for a few moments. Then with renewed requests about
secrecy as to his book he slouched up the street. Connie did not speak
to the other boys of Nick’s visit nor of the book the boy wanted.

The eventful Saturday came at last. With haversacks packed the night
before, thirteen boys awaited the dawn with impatience. Before five
o’clock the wrought-up scouts were off. In open order the squad was
soon out of town.

With two stops for water at convenient wells the patrol reached the
dusty lane leading to the caves of Round Rock River just before half
past six. Once they were within the shade of the grove bordering the
river bank at the cave, “Break ranks” was given and the perspiring
young campaigners threw themselves on the grass. But boys rest
quickly. At the first mention of breakfast the patrol was on its feet.
The place was one used for picnics and tables were standing. When
haversack contents were dumped on one of these, the table resembled a
delicatessen shop.

Connie took charge at once and put aside what was needed for luncheon.

“Say,” protested Colly Craighead. “That ain’t fair. I’m hungry. I
brought them baked beans for breakfast.”

“You’ll want ’em worse at noon,” answered Connie. “Go help make the
fire. Duke,” he added, “fill that pan with water.”

At the last moment they had been compelled to borrow a stew pan to boil
the frankfurters. And this had been Duke’s extra equipment. Each boy
had also strung a tin cup on his belt, and Davy Cooke carried a teapot.

About seven o’clock the open-shirted, hatless gang gathered about
a table covered with newspapers. Before each was a cup of tea with
sugar but no cream, and the portion of food for each boy: four large
frankfurters, hot and steaming to the point of bursting, three
inch-thick slices of bread, half a dill pickle, two hard-boiled eggs,
one doughnut and two cookies. In the center of the table were butter,
pepper, salt, mustard and sugar. In ten minutes every scrap of food had
disappeared. Colly again brought up the question of baked beans but he
was instantly suppressed.

“One hour for restin’ or explorin’,” ordered Connie when haversacks had
been repacked and stored in a heap and the pans washed. “But, remember,
no swimmin’ until I give the word. Wart,” he added, “you’ll guard the
haversacks.”

“Me?” exclaimed Wart in a shocked voice. “I brung a candle to explore
the cave!”

“Well, you may as well hand it over to some one else. You’re on guard
duty. Blow the recall whistle in one hour!”

There was a scattering of boys in all directions: some to the woods,
several to a flat-bottomed boat lying partly on the shore, and others
to the cave, a low opening into a rocky bluff, celebrated mainly for
its ever dripping water and its bottom of sticky clay mud.

Connie walked along toward the farmer’s house. The last look he gave
Wart revealed the disappointed boy gazing over the river beyond. It was
well for the sentinel that Connie did not hear his muttered comment.

“They ain’t nothin’ in my book ’bout guardin’ nothin’ where they ain’t
nobody to do nothin’.”

When Connie returned, Wart was fast asleep, hunched up at the foot of a
tree. His leader blew the return whistle.

“I reckon I dropped off in a kind o’ doze,” began the aroused boy.

“You did, for half an hour. You’ll carry the stew pan an’ the
teakettle the rest o’ the day.”

“Who――?” began Wart in protest, his face reddening.

“You mean ‘who says so?’” interrupted Connie. “I do. Is that enough?”

“Yes, sir,” faltered Wart. “That’s enough.”

At half past eight o’clock the patrol was off for Borden’s Ford.



CHAPTER XII

THE CASK IN THE RIVER


From the cave to Borden’s Ford the advance was a continuous frolic. The
banks of the river were of rock and at places these closed in, making
little gorges through which the stream broke into rougher water. Now
and then there were places that might be called rapids. Particularly,
just below Borden’s Ford there was a long riffle over which the water
boiled and bubbled until it entered the gorge at Big Butternut. As
there was a sharp turn in this narrow defile the narrowed river swept
up in foam-crested waves.

Here, picnickers frequently spread their lunch. The younger folks
always lingered to throw sticks and logs down the riffle to see them
tossed about in the miniature whirlpool. From above the head of the
riffle there was boating as far as the quarry.

At Big Butternut Whirlpool the scampering Wolves came to a welcome
stop, with a general demand that the patrol be allowed to go in
swimming.

“That’s where there’s nothin’ doin’!” answered Connie. “I promised Mr.
Trevor that no one would be allowed to ‘shoot the rapids.’”

“You did?” shouted Art. “Well what’d we come for? He didn’t say nothin’
to me.”

“There was no need,” smiled Connie. “I’m the boss. That’ll do for all.”

“Did you bring a little knittin’ for us to do?” asked Davy Cooke
sarcastically.

“Can we go wadin’ up on the ford?” sneered Colly Craighead.

“We’re goin’ swimmin’ up above the ford,” answered Connie, unmoved by
these gibes, “as soon as we cool off. Then we’ll see if we can’t coax a
few bass into the fryin’ pan. I got a seine in my haversack. We’ll get
some minnies at the ford.” (By “minnies” Connie meant minnows.)

The stop at the whirlpool was not long. After hurling all loose wood
into the rushing gorge, the boys hurried to the ford and the near-by
clearing in the woods. Here, as at the cave, there were tables and
seats and remnants of many outings.

Running along the shore to this point, several boys made out a peculiar
object in the river, high up on the riffle and near the ford. The
object was dark and round. That it was not a rock, every boy knew. So
unusual was it in appearance that there was a general determination to
wade out and investigate.

“Looks like somethin’ that’s drifted down the river an’ got stuck,”
suggested Wart.

“Like a barrel,” was Leader Connie’s verdict.

“If it’s a barrel,” exclaimed Sammy Addington, “I wonder if it’s
anything in it?”

The squad had reached the ford by this time. Haversacks were dropped
and Art, Wart and Colly, pulling off their shoes and stockings, rushed
into the river. Connie, a little more dignified, walked down the bank
again, followed by most of the patrol.

“It’s a beer barrel,” were the first words from the investigators,
“full o’ nothin’.”

But the waders, glad to be in the splashing riffle, continued their
advance, twisting and balancing themselves on the slippery stones.

“There’s marks on it!” yelled Art a moment later. The keg was standing
end up and on a big flat stone. Its upper part was dry. As Art and
Wart reached it, one glance drew their heads downward for a closer
look. As the two boys grasped the head of the keg it slid off the rock
and fell on its side in the water. Art was excitedly waving his arms to
Connie and the others and yelling: “Come quick, all o’ you. It’s――” But
even in his excitement he could see Wart vainly attempting to hold the
cask with his scout staff.

[Illustration: THE MYSTERIOUS CASK]

“Stop it,” Art shouted. Then he too was floundering after the keg which
was bumping up and down. For a moment Wart’s staff caught and held the
cask. Then it rolled around the stick and into deeper water.

“She’s gone,” shouted Wart to those on shore. “Get her down below the
rapids. Run!”

Art did not despair at once. Springing forward in a deluge of spray
he tried to overtake the barrel. He thought he had it once and made
a final lunge. The slippery object spun about under the tips of his
fingers and the boy fell flat in the water. Before he could get to his
feet Wart splashed by him. He could just reach the cask with his stick.
But he could not hold it. Yet he slackened it until the drenched Art
rejoined him. By this time the water was well above each boy’s knees.

Suddenly the cask was caught by a new current and torn away from the
two staffs. It turned over several times in the deeper water as if
preparing for the swift journey through the whirlpool.

“Come on!” shouted Art to Wart. “Don’t let her get away. Let’s go with
her. Them kids may let her get away.”

Diving forward into the deepening current Art gave himself a quick
shove with his long staff and was off after the bobbing cask. Without
hesitation Wart followed, their new khaki shirts, neckties and scout
hats forgotten. It was a vain race.

When the keg shot into the twisting whirlpool its pursuers suddenly
found enough to do in caring for themselves. Connie was on the
right-hand bank of the gorge but the current set toward the left. He
yelled to the boys to keep to the right but the rush of the water bore
them to the opposite side. Connie and others of the boys lay on the
edge of the cut, reaching down with their staffs. But the stream-tossed
boys were beyond the reach of these and no one had time to cross the
gorge to the other side.

Midway, where the defile made an angle, the cork-like cask was hurled
against the rocky wall. The swimmers struck the same foam-covered
barrier an instant later. The barrel was not out of their minds. Each
boy kept his head off and each took the wall on his left shoulder.
Several times the swimmers struck and scraped against the rough rock,
buried in the spitting spray and the boiling current.

At the lower end of the gorge, where the river turned again into
shallower and quieter waters, most of the excited patrol members were
on the look-out. As the mysterious keg shot out of the foaming gorge
it was seized. In its wake came the exhausted Art and Wart. The boys
had suffered no damage, beyond black-and-blue shoulders and half-ruined
uniforms. But the dash through the gorge had been one attempted only by
the hardiest swimmers.

“Did you make it out?” panted Art as he caught his staff from a
rescuer. “Look on the end!”

The keg was rolled out on the sand and upended.

“The other end,” exclaimed Wart――his smart new “Baden-Powell” (as the
boys termed their hats) limp and his shirt clinging to him like a
second skin.

As the keg was reversed and the patrol crowded about, it could be seen
that a crude inscription had been made on its head. As one of the boys
dried the top with a handkerchief the marks seemed to have been carved
in the wood or possibly burned in with a hot iron. After a close look
Connie gasped:

“Wha――wha――how――?”

“It may ’a’ been buried,” exclaimed Art. “Mebbe way up in the wild
country and mebbe the river washed it up.”

“You can’t tell,” sputtered excited Colly Craighead. “I’ll bet you it’s
somepin’.”

“Anyway,” broke in Wart, “it’s ours――we found it, an’ ‘finders is
keepers.’”

The astounding inscription was this:

[Illustration: Jessie James Tresure

1901]

“If it’s money,” suggested Duke Easton, “mebbe we oughtn’t to take it.
Like as not it’s blood money.”

“Mebbe it’s jewlry,” broke in Sammy Addington. “If it is, we could
advertise it.”

“I can’t see how Jesse James would be hidin’ anything ’round here,”
spoke up Leader Connie. “I’ve read his life an’ history an’ bloody
deeds an’ he lived way out in Missouri where he done his robbin’.”

“You don’t reckon Round Rock River runs way out there, do you?” asked
Sammy. “I never heard where it comes from.”

“Say,” broke in Phil Abercrombie fired by a brilliant idea, “the
railroad goes acrost the river up at the old quarry. I’ll bet the gang
was on a train an’ they throwed the cask o’ treasure offen the train
so’s to hide it so they wouldn’t be no evidence.”

“In that case,” remarked Connie, “they’d hardly burn the name on the
barrel.”

“Mebbe it was their enimies ’at done that,” ventured the rebuffed Phil.

“Boys,” exclaimed Connie in a new tone. “I’m suspicious o’ this thing.
This ain’t no buried treasure cast up by the waves. Some one put it
where it was. It couldn’t ’a’ floated over the ford.”

“I don’t know about that,” exclaimed Art indignantly. “Who’d ’a’ put it
there? Ain’t no one around here to get excited over it.”

“We’re here,” replied Connie with a smile as he kicked the cask over on
its side.

“But who knowed we was comin’ here?” argued Art resentfully.

“For one,” went on Connie as he rolled the keg about, listening to
something pounding within, “Nick Apthorp knew, ’cause I told him where
we was comin’ and when we’d get here.”

“That settles it,” exclaimed Colly. “It’s a job. Let’s throw it back in
the river.”

“Not on your life!” shouted Art. “I’ve heard o’ smart guys ’at wouldn’t
pick up a pocket book with real money in it, ’cause it was first of
April.”

“An’ besides,” continued Connie, his smile even more pronounced, “the
head o’ this keg has been took out an’ put back. You can see the new
here. It ain’t been in the water long.”

“Always knockin’,” retorted Art. “Anyway, me and Wart found it. I guess
we’ll take it for ours, eh, Wart?” he added with a wink.

“You can have my share,” exclaimed Connie. “But if it was me I
wouldn’t touch it. I smell Goosetown all over that thing.”

For answer red-faced Art caught up a heavy boulder and dashed it
against the top of the beer keg. The head fell in and water splashed
out.

“It’s been leakin’,” he exclaimed. “I hope it ain’t spoiled what’s
inside.”

Colly Craighead was the first to peer within. Then he caught his nose
between his fingers and fled to Connie’s side without a word. As Art
raised the broken head of the cask Sammy Addington thrust his short
arm into the keg and drew out the dead body of “Wolf,” the fat little
yellow pup that the Goosetowners had led in insulting parade before the
Elm Streeters.

Art gave one quick sweeping glance about the place. If he expected to
find Nick Apthorp and his friends in spying ambush he was disappointed.

“All I got to say,” he exclaimed in an angry voice, “is that this
thing’s gone far enough. We stood for what they done marchin’ past us
the other day but I ain’t a-goin’ to stand for no more. This Boy Scout
business is all right but I ain’t a-goin’ to let these guys rub it in.”

“Say, Art,” spoke up Connie, coming forward, “you know what we’re goin’
to do to that gang before we get through with ’em?”

“We’re goin’ to make ’em dance to Miss Ginger!” exclaimed Art defiantly.

“We ain’t goin’ to do anything of the kind,” retorted Connie. “We’re
goin’ to give ’em rope like we been doin’ an’ when they get enough――”

“They’ll hang theirselves,” broke in Wart Ware.

“No,” went on Connie. “When they get to the end o’ the string they’ll
turn an’ eat out o’ our hands an’ be glad to.”

“What d’you mean?” growled Art.

“I mean they ain’t a bit worse’n we are only they’re dyin’ kind o’
hard.”

“I ain’t settin’ myself up for no goody-goody,” retorted Art. “But I
like to be half decent.”

“Then,” laughed Connie, “let’s bury poor little Wolf and forget it.”

Art and Wart Ware were really the only disgruntled boys. The others
took the incident as a joke. And by the time the noonday spread was
under way even the scouts who had shot the chutes began to forget
their chagrin. There was a long loaf after dinner, then an hour in
the water, and later the march was resumed to the quarry where the
automobiles were waiting for the trip homeward. Art did not tell his
parents of the episode of the treasure keg as he had of his purchase of
the aeroplane ticket.

The hike to Round Rock River only whetted the appetite of the Wolves.
Even on the way home they began discussing the details of next week’s
“camp out.” Sleeping in the open overnight, stories and songs by the
red camp fire, blankets to snuggle up in when it turned cool just
before dawn, the joys of sentinel duty where possibly the solitary
picket might have to stand his watch in the soft summer rain――protected
of course by his rain coat――were the things that enticed.

All the scouts were glad to hear that the injured boy was improving.
But it was not yet possible for any of his boy admirers to be admitted
into the sick room. The real preparation for the next outing was left
to Mr. Trevor, and he responded most satisfactorily. It was finally
arranged that the patrol was to start for Bluff Creek Thursday morning
and return Saturday evening. The boys were to walk both ways, the camp
equipage being carried in a single-horse cart loaned by Mr. Addington.

This had been a delivery wagon and it bore a dilapidated top, the
ornamentation of which was the legend on its sides:

                      STAPLE AND FANCY GROCERIES.

By Wednesday evening new strips of white muslin had covered these and
on the new field of white blazed the words:

                        SCOTTSVILLE BOY SCOUTS:
                             WOLF PATROL.

When the squad started Thursday morning Colly Craighead was in the
driver’s seat and the wagon bed behind him was crowded with tents,
poles, bedding, cooking utensils, dishes and, not the least in
importance or quantity, provisions both “staple and fancy.”

It was perhaps unfortunate that the direct road to Bluff Creek, east
of Scottsville, lay through the danger zone of Goosetown. No assault
from their old enemies was anticipated but it was certain that the
expedition would not pass unobserved. And it did not. While they were
crossing the railroad tracks a well-known voice greeted the joyous
party. It was that of Nick Apthorp, who was beginning the day with
a pipe and a bit of gossip, perched high in the air in the semaphore
signal tower.

“Hello, kids,” he exclaimed heartily. “Lookin’ for some more lost
treasure?” The result of their Round Rock River humor was of course
well known to the Coyotes long before this.

“You had a lot of courage to kill a little pup like that,” responded
Art instantly. “Take all of you to do it?”

“Nope,” responded Nick with a guffaw, “he died o’ grievin’ fur his
friends. What’s doin’?”

“We’re goin’ campin’ for a couple o’ days down to Bluff Creek,”
answered Connie. “Say, Nick,” he added, “this Boy Scout business is
great. We had a bully time down to Round Rock. We’re goin’ for two
weeks next month and have games.”

As the party passed on Nick sat gazing at it in silent thoughtfulness.



CHAPTER XIII

MIDNIGHT MARAUDERS


After Connie’s frankness in telling Nick Apthorp where they were going
it was freely predicted that their old enemies would surely give the
Scouts new trouble.

Bluff Creek got its name from a high bank of clay at a bend in the
stream where small fossil forms were plentiful. The water cutting into
the bluff constantly presented new specimens――“crinoids” the boys’
teacher termed them. The second day of the outing a number of the
campers turned enthusiastic geologists. In their eagerness to secure
specimens the boys worked long and hard. When they turned in at an
early hour the Goosetowners were practically forgotten.

Art and Colly Craighead were on the first watch from nine until twelve
o’clock. They had taken station above and below the three tents,
meeting occasionally behind the camp in a grove of cottonwoods for
company. While they were on one of these absences from the creek bank
three naked forms dropped silently into the water from the opposite
bank, and concealed by the water, made their way quickly to the
shadow of an overhanging walnut tree in front of the camp. They then
disappeared within the gloom of the walnut’s spreading, cave-like roots.

As Art and Colly separated, the former passed between the tents, within
which his companions were loudly snoring. Then he stood for a few
minutes on the overhanging bank and glanced up and down the glimmering
creek, for the moon was nearly half full. With his love for the
romantic Art glanced at his watch, walked around the tents once more
and then, shouldering his staff, exclaimed in a low voice:

“Eleven o’clock an’ all is well.”

While he turned and walked down the stream, three naked forms crouching
just below him in the walnut tree roots, nudged each other. Almost
immediately, one water-glistening head of carroty hair rose cautiously
above the bank. Then two other water-dripping heads followed.

In front of the center tent a tall sapling had been set in the ground
with a little pulley at the top from which for two days the Wolf Patrol
pennant had snapped gayly in the breeze. These colors had been lowered
at sundown and were now tied about four feet from the base of the
flagpole. Against the same flagpole eleven of the precious scout staffs
were stacked in pyramid form.

Three pairs of eager but cautious eyes fixed themselves on the camp and
then three sinuous forms drew themselves, snakelike, over the grassy
bank. The carroty-haired form crawled forward and, the two figures
behind him watching in the directions of the receding sentinels,
the forward invader reached the flagstaff. One after another the
pennant-tipped Wolf staffs were silently caught and passed to the rear.
Without a sound all were hastily transferred to the bank of the creek.

Then Carroty-head drew himself up to the flagstaff and attempted to
loosen the gorgeous Wolf pennant. The cords seemed to hold fast.
Apparently the thief was trying to tear the colors from the lines.
Those behind him, emboldened by the silence, crawled to his side and
also got on their feet. There were quick and low whispers and then the
three grasped the coveted bunting.

At that instant two things happened. Colly Craighead, reaching the end
of his beat, where a willow thicket deepened the gloom, paused for a
few minutes’ rest. As he turned, he caught sight of the shadowy forms
before the camp. He saw them only dimly in the dark, for the half moon
scarcely pierced the night shadows beneath the trees. But what he
saw resembled moving bronzes. While he hesitated, a chance moonbeam
shot through the black trees, giving the indistinct group the silvery
outlines of human figures.

In the moment Colly hesitated, another thing occurred. Struggling and
straining with the pennant (for the invaders had no knife) they gave
the cord a yank and the dry pulley wheel squeaked like a whistle. Like
the snapping of a camera shutter the flaps of the middle tent flew
apart and Alex Conyers sprang through the opening. As he yelled “What’s
that?” a Wolf cry rang out from Colly’s station and almost instantly
came a signal from Art’s end of the beat.

As the Wolf pickets came crashing through the grass and dead timber,
Connie hurled himself on the nearest figure, and two naked bodies
dived headlong into the creek. There was a moment’s silent struggle in
the dark and then came the uproar of the arriving sentinels and the
commotion of the outpouring, half awakened scouts. It did not need a
light to reveal Carrots Compton as the leader of the midnight invaders.
With the torn emblem in Carrots’ clutch he and Connie rolled over and
over in each other’s embrace.

Art and Colly threw themselves into the fray. The struggling boys, no
one speaking, had edged toward the stream. As the two pickets sprang to
assist Connie the overhanging bank of the stream suddenly gave way and
the four boys tumbled into the creek. The camp had been located at this
point because of the deep “hole” and Carrots and his would-be captors
sank “over their heads” at once.

As for Art and Colly, they were fully clothed and it was necessary for
them to look out for themselves. The gap in the bank was already lined
with scouts in pajamas. There was a play of moonlight on the water but
the shadows of the overhanging trees made it hard to tell friend from
foe. The shouting boys on the bank, who were waving staffs and trying
to secure lights, could make out only a thrashing about in the water,
exploding breaths as the floundering boys cleared their mouths, and
foam of rapid strokes as each tried to reach the bank.

Art and Colly were soon in safety, but as they were being drawn up the
bank, Art loosed his grasp on a staff and plunged into the stream again.

“There they go,” he shouted as he realized that the naked Carrots and
Connie in his pajamas were lunging across the narrow creek. Colly
followed Art but they were too late. As Connie, slowed up by his
clinging night garments, reached the shallow water, Carrots, the stolen
pennant in his grasp, had been joined by his two companions and all
were off on a dead run over the gravel and sand.

“They got to get their clothes,” yelled Connie. “Come on! We’ll see who
the other kids are.”

But the feet of the Boy Scouts were not as indifferent to the jagged
stones as were those of the Goosetowners. The open shore of the other
bank of the stream ran west a few hundred feet, skirting the clay
bluff, and then broadened out into a “bottom.”

“They went this way,” yelled Connie. “They got their clothes back there
in the willows.”

It was not an inviting looking place. As the bluff dropped down to
the low ground, sand covered with driftwood and overgrown by willows,
it gave way to a dark pathless “bottom”――the driftwood standing like
skeletons in the half luminous night. To add to the embarrassment of
the pursuers a wire fence, tangled into a rope of sharp spikes, lay
among the water weeds and drifted sand.

“Look out for that old wire fence,” called Art in reply, his soaked
shoes squirting water and his clinging pants rasping like a file
as he stumbled after Connie. His advice came too late. The excited
patrol leader had seen the shadows of the flying marauders pass into
the willow waste and he plunged ahead in the same direction. Then his
wet and dragging trousers caught in a half buried fence-wire barb and
Connie shoved his head into the wet sand.

When he was again on his feet, Art and Colly had joined him, and more
yelling scouts were swimming the creek. The breathless Connie was not
injured. With another shout that the fugitives would have to stop
somewhere to dress, he sprang ahead again into the black jungle of
river willows. In the midnight shadows the three boys were instantly
lost. They were not only lost as an expedition but, a little later,
they were lost from each other. Colly, forcing himself through the
tangle in one direction, soon found himself, scratched and bleeding,
again on the shore of the creek, completely turned around. The
reënforcements attempted to proceed no farther than the edge of the
willow swamp. Far in its depths Art could be heard calling, and guiding
calls were sounded in return. He had stumbled upon a little opening
where a shallow bayou was margined with swamp grass and deep-voiced
frogs. In the glint of the moon he had seen a moving eddy in the pool
and the thought of a snake sent him lunging once more into the thicket.

Connie had disappeared without further sound or signal. Five minutes
later, from a point east of the swamp, came a low, familiar call――the
cry of the Wolf. Before the excited scouts behind him could organize
an advance in that direction, the call was heard again, this time
down near the big bluff. Like sore-hoofed and drenched sheep the
water-soaked, and now shivering scouts made their way as rapidly as
they could in that direction. They were in time to see their leader
sliding down the clay bluff to the creek bank. His face was smeared
with swamp soil, the trousers of his pajamas he carried in his arms and
his legs were scratched and bloody.

“Well,” he shouted as he got his breath, “they’ve done the business!
They got the flag and they got our horse an’ wagon! They was six of
’em!”

“The horse and wagon?” roared a chorus.

The grocery wagon and the horse had been left in the corner of a
pasture on the road back of the bluff, by special arrangement with a
farmer who had also undertaken to feed and water the animal. The wagon
road did not cross the creek and this was the nearest point to the
camp where the horse could be cared for. When Connie had made his way
through the swamp he was in sight of the wagon camp and he could just
make out moving forms gathered about the wagon.

“They had it out in the road, all hitched up,” panted Connie.

“An’ the kids left their clothes in the wagon. I snook along the fence
till I got close enough to see some of ’em. They was only six. Carrots
Compton was one of ’em. He got the flag. An’ the two others ’at swum
the crick was Matt Branson and Buck Bluett. I think Nick Apthorp was
one o’ the others. One of ’em was already on the seat an’ I couldn’t
see him. But it was Hank Milleson all right, you bet you. There was
another one but I didn’t see him an’ he didn’t say nothin’.”

“They ain’t gone off with our horse and wagon?” repeated Art dubiously.

“They ain’t done nothin’ else,” went on Connie. “An’ I reckon that’s
’bout the limit. That comes purt nigh bein’ stealin’. Somebody’s goin’
to sweat for this,” he continued, trembling with nervousness and
absent-mindedly wiping the blood off his bleeding legs with his wet
pajamas.

“Why didn’t you stop ’em?” spoke up Colly Craighead.

“Oh, I never thought of that,” retorted Connie ironically. “I might
have. They was only six of ’em. An’ besides, they started on a gallop
’fore I got plum to ’em. But I’ll get ’em to-morrow, don’t you forget
that,” he concluded significantly. “We’ve stood for enough from them
guys. We’ll have ’em took up an’ see how a good dose o’ calaboose goes
with ’em.”

With unanimous and enthusiastic approval the bedraggled, shivering boys
turned campward again, outwitted and humiliated. A cool breeze had
sprung up and the moon was waning. Led by Connie they crossed the creek
again in disgust. In default of dry night-clothes the camp fire was
fanned into new life and in a few minutes thirteen naked boys danced
around the crackling blaze to dry and warm themselves.

As their spirits revived, some one discovered that he must have food.
Others became suddenly as hungry. It was after twelve o’clock but
despite the cooler atmosphere the cheery camp fire seemed to turn
the crowd into Indians. With yells and posturing the scouts marched
and danced about the crackling flames. Connie joined in and when the
old sycamore grove began to resound with war whoops of defiance and
vengeance the leader lost his sense of discipline and ordered out the
big pot of beans baking overnight in a hole beneath the camp fire.

“Who cares?” he shouted. “It’s our last night in camp. To-night we’ll
merry, merry be an’ to-morrow we’ll go hungry.”

Just before two o’clock in the morning, satisfied that there was
no more to be feared from the enemy, after the camp fire had been
smothered, thirteen happy boys wrapped themselves in their blankets and
only an empty bean pot told of the midnight revel.

A telephone message from the nearest farm house at seven o’clock the
next morning to Mr. Trevor resulted in the arrival of old man Bristow’s
dray at the camp about noon. Everything eatable on hand was prepared
for dinner, and camp was struck about two o’clock and a last swim
taken. In the midst of this, out of curiosity Art and Colly crossed the
creek and made a daylight tour of the willow swamp.

There seemed nothing alarming about the place in the sunlight and its
wildest portions were penetrated with ease. A sudden yell from Colly
startled the boys in the creek. And when he came rushing out of the
willow wilderness with the lost patrol flag in his waving hand, another
naked war dance was held on a sand bar in the creek.

“Carrots lost it,” yelled Colly. “He dropped it. I reckon we was purty
close to him.”

Connie sprang forward and grabbed the pennant. The corners were torn
but otherwise the emblem was intact.

“An’ just for that,” exclaimed the young leader, “we’ll carry our
flagpole back to town; pole, flag, pulley and cord.”

The adventure of the stolen horse and wagon had apparently aroused new
feelings of enmity in every one of the Wolves. The old dray driver
went on ahead to town and when the Wolves reached Scottsville at five
o’clock, without a protest from Connie, with the lost and recovered
pennant flying from the tall sapling, the patrol marched defiantly
through the heart of Goosetown. Somewhat to the boys’ surprise, not
one of the enemy was in sight. Leader Conyers, with lips set, even
countermarched once through this section of the town. Not a boy
appeared. As the cavalcade crossed the railroad the last time, some one
caught sight of Tony Cooper. Tony had not been with the night raiders
but he had a worried look. Connie called to him:

“Where’s the gang? Tell ’em they’ll have to come again to get our flag.”

Tony seemed to know what Connie meant. But he made no reply and seemed
about to escape when Art added:

“You can tell ’em they’d better bring our wagon back. We know ’em all,
an’ don’t you forget it!”

“Your wagon’s back,” answered Tony meekly. “They was a-goin’ to take it
back anyway.”

“Who got it?” demanded Art.

“The marshal. An’ he made ’em take it over to Addington’s. But they was
goin’ to take it anyway.”

“Where’s the gang?” persisted Art.

“Why,” Tony mumbled, “Old Walter locked ’em up.”

“In the calaboose?” asked Connie.

Tony nodded his head.

“All of ’em?” went on Connie excitedly.

“All ’at was there,” answered Tony. “I wasn’t with ’em.”

“What’d he lock ’em up for?” added Art anxiously.

“Why, for horse stealin’,” whimpered Tony. “An’ they’re tryin’ to get
some money to hire a lawyer.”

While the scouts stood aghast――open-mouthed and silent――Tony added:

“The marshal says they’re all goin’ to the penitentiary.”



CHAPTER XIV

MARSHAL WALTER MAKES A CAPTURE AT LAST


As the significance of Tony Cooper’s words slowly dawned on the
resentful Boy Scouts a silence fell on the Wolf Patrol. The members
realized that a boyish escapade had turned into a criminal offense. And
the thing that set the scouts thinking was the knowledge that they had
often approached that line themselves. The thought of being called as
witnesses to send another boy to the penitentiary sent a chill to the
heart of every Elm Streeter.

“I don’t know as I could be absolutely sure about who was in the
wagon――” began Connie.

“But you know Carrots was one of ’em,” remarked Art dolefully.

“Yes,” argued Abercrombie, “but he wasn’t arrested for breakin’ into
the camp. None of us saw him take the horse an’ wagon.”

“But Connie said he did,” exclaimed Colly Craighead regretfully.

“I kind o’ think I did,” said Connie. “But it was awful dark an’ I
wasn’t very clost.”

“I reckon it won’t be up to us,” added Art. “Tony said they found the
horse an’ wagon at Hank’s home. What can they say to that? It looks bad
for some one, I tell you.”

When the boys reached Connie’s home they found Mr. Trevor and Mr.
Conyers on the porch. Ranks were broken and all hastened forward to
learn exact details. When Connie had repeated his account of the
midnight raid and what he had seen, he was far from being positive
about the identity of the boys. Mr. Addington had at once put the case
in the hands of Marshal Walter and he, after a canvass of several
families and the finding of the stolen vehicle and horse, had made the
six arrests.

“They’re now where they have belonged for several years,” Mr.
Conyers declared, “safe under lock and key. Monday morning they’ll
have a hearing before the mayor and he’ll hold them under bonds for
examination by the grand jury when it meets in the fall. Then they’ll
all be sent back to jail to be tried by the courts for horse stealing.
It looks to me as if they’d get a few years in the penitentiary or
reform school at least.”

“And will they be in jail till the trial comes off?” asked Connie
anxiously.

“Unless they give bonds,” answered his father. “And those’ll likely be
so high that no one will give them.”

“How’ll they know, for sure, that the boys done it?” went on the
agitated Connie.

“Aren’t you boys witnesses?” laughed Mr. Conyers.

“I might ’a’ been mistaken,” faltered Connie.

“Hardly,” replied Mr. Conyers. “I think the mayor’ll believe you.”

When the boys finally dispersed to their homes Mr. Trevor remained in
talk with Mr. Conyers for nearly half an hour. When Art reached home
he was so happy to hear that the sick boy had been making steady gains
that he almost forgot the tragical ending of their two days of camping.

On Sunday morning word was passed that Bonner was to sit up for a few
minutes. About nine o’clock Art was permitted to visit the invalid.
From his nurse Bonner had learned all about the boys, both as young
aviators and as Boy Scouts; each boy’s name, age and character; the
trouble at the old sycamore, the episode of the “treasure keg” and the
clash at the camp on Bluff Creek. When Art appeared, it was as if two
life-long chums had come together.

The two boys naturally fell into talk of that closest to the heart of
each――the wrecked aeroplane. With tears, Bonner told what it meant to
him. With the wrecked aeroplane on his hands he saw no way to meet his
payments for it.

“Don’t tell anybody,” whispered Art, “but I don’t think it’s ruined.
I’ve been to see it! I don’t think the engine is hurt.”

“But I haven’t a cent,” answered Bonner in a weak voice. “And there’s
all these doctor’s bills and the nurse――”

“But you’re goin’ to be our chauffeur and live with us,” protested Art.
“Father said so. You can save all your wages. An’ we’ll all help!”

The young aviator, very white in the face, turned his head to the wall.

“Now that’s all right, Bill,” went on Art, choking a little himself.
“Father wants you――we ain’t got no chauffeur an’ we need one. You’re
goin’ to stay long as you like. The folks say you ain’t got no folks
where you lived. So what’s the difference? This is a bully town even
if it ain’t no city. You’ll be well an’ out in a few days, an’ then
you’re a-goin’ right to work for us an’ I reckon that’ll mean forty or
fifty dollars a month an’ board an’ keep. An’ when you ain’t busy with
the automobile we’ll all turn in and help fix your aeroplane. An’ while
that’s goin’ on,” concluded Art with a new and happy idea, “you’ll join
the Wolf Patrol an’ be a Boy Scout with all of us. What’s the matter
with that, Bill?”

At last the sick boy turned and asked the nurse if he might try to sit
up for a few minutes.

“Yes,” she answered, “but Arthur will have to go now.”

“I wanted to see all the boys,” exclaimed Bonner weakly.

“Not to-day,” insisted the nurse. “You’ve talked long enough.”

“Is he goin’ to sit up a little while?” broke in Art as he saw the look
of disappointment on the patient’s face. When the nurse nodded, he
added, “Then you let him sit over there by the window. An’ wait till I
call you, won’t you?”

A half hour later ten of the Boy Scouts were gathered at the Trevor
home in full uniform. Ordering them to fall into line, Leader Connie
marched the squad to the guest-room side of the house. At the words,
“Column front――squad halt!” a chair was wheeled to the open window, and
for the first time Willie Bonner saw the boys who were soon to become
his chums. And the scouts in turn had their first good look at the boy
whose skill and daring was to mean so much to them. There were only
embarrassed smiles and nods on the part of each, a formal salute from
the scouts and a weak “Thank you, boys,” from the invalid, and the
nurse wheeled his chair away.

A little later the entire company of scouts sought out Mr. Trevor on
his front porch. Connie was spokesman.

“Mr. Trevor,” began the young leader, “I’ve been talkin’ to father, and
he told me we’d have to see you. We want to ask something.”

“Go ahead,” answered Mr. Trevor.

“We don’t like to see them kids locked up in the calaboose, an’ we hope
they won’t have to go to jail!” began Connie.

“Haven’t they violated the law?” asked Mr. Trevor.

“Mebbe they have,” replied Connie. “But so did we the day we went over
there lookin’ for a fight. An’ I reckon that when Sammy Addington hit
Nick Apthorp with a rock he could ’a’ been arrested for assault an’
battery. An’ we was all violatin’ the peace. They was goin’ to lock us
up, too, only you got us off.”

“An’ we want you to get ’em off,” broke in Art. “Bygones is bygones!”

Mr. Trevor’s previous smile disappeared as he looked carefully at each
boy. “But,” he answered at last, “you know why I did that. You bought
yourselves out of trouble by reforming, as it were. But these boys may
not be penitent. It may save them from something worse.”

“But mebbe they’re scared, too, now, like we was,” suggested Ware.

“Mr. Trevor!” exclaimed Connie with sudden animation, “do you know
what! Hank Milleson and Nick Apthorp are stuck on Boy Scoutin’ worse
than we are, only they pertend they ain’t. They both got books about
it. I’ll bet they’d turn Boy Scouts quick as a wink if you could get
’em out of this scrape.”

Neither Connie nor his chums knew the sudden joy that filled Mr.
Trevor’s breast at this little speech. Whatever his own Boy Scouts had
felt or done since he organized them, this was proof to the interested
man that his work had already borne fruit.

“What if they did?” he continued, scrutinizing each lad before him.
“They’d be your rivals more than ever. These boys are older, bigger and
more experienced in all things. If they went into this thing sincerely
you boys might be put in the shade.”

“That’s all right,” exclaimed Connie. “We’d stand for that if they did
it fair and square.”

“Do it, father,” pleaded Art. “You do what you can! I wish they’d
organize. It’s no fun with just one patrol.”

“They got a name already,” chimed Sammy Addington.

“What’s that?” asked Mr. Trevor.

“The ‘Coyotes,’” answered Sammy. “But I bet you a wolf is as good as a
coyote any day.”

“Remember,” continued Mr. Trevor soberly, “you can get your revenge
now. You could punish those boys for their mock parade and their beer
keg trick and for stealing your flag.”

“That’s all right,” exclaimed Art. “I guess they’ve been punished
enough. I’d rather fight ’em if they’re Boy Scouts an’ stickin’ to the
rules, than see ’em locked up in jail. Besides, you got _us_ off. An’
it ain’t fair if you don’t do what you can for them.”

“Do you all feel that way, boys?” asked Mr. Trevor finally. There was
a murmur indicating unanimous approval. “Then,” he added, “I’ll see
what I can do. If you boys don’t prosecute perhaps the matter will be
dropped.”

Late that afternoon, unknown to the boys, Mr. Trevor rode to the home
of Mr. Conyers, and the two men visited the mayor of Scottsville. In
truth, the Goosetowners had long been a thorn in the mayor’s official
side. But when Mr. Trevor had explained his mission there was no
trouble in arranging a program of action. The three men drove to the
mayor’s office, Marshal Walter was summoned, and Hank Milleson, Nick
Apthorp and their four fellow prisoners were escorted into the presence
of the three leading citizens.

As if about to pass sentence upon the six shivering prisoners for
some capital crime, the town official reviewed their offense. He
added a homily on the results of truancy and idleness, predicted the
penitentiary if the prisoners persisted in their present manner of life
and then turned the sniffling boys over to Mr. Trevor.

The latter was far milder in his speech but equally emphatic. When he
reached the point where, to the complete surprise of the boys, he told
them there yet remained one chance of escape, he paused. Nick Apthorp,
who was easily the least affected of the gang, spoke up:

“What you’re a-sayin’, Mr. Trevor, is mostly all right but it ain’t
quite a square deal for Hank――”

“That’ll be about all that guff,” broke in Hank. “Don’t get soft, Nick.”

“I’ll get soft enough to tell the gentlemen here that we’re tough
enough――all of us――but we’d been tougher if it hadn’t been fur
Milleson. Your boys all put Hank down fur leadin’ us into trouble. But
it ain’t so. If they’d listened to him when he met ’em on the railroad
bridge they wouldn’t been no fight. When we paraded in front o’ the
boys he didn’t want to do it but we egged him on an’ then we all had to
promise we wouldn’t start nothin’. An’ down there on Round Rock River
where we set the dead pup in the beer keg, that was all my doin’s.
Hank didn’t even go with us but argued it was a joke that turned his
stummick. We did take the horse an’ wagon but I reckon they wasn’t one
of us who done it cause we were a-goin’ to keep ’em.”

“I was there all right,” broke in Hank. “I was in the game.”

“An’ at that,” went on Nick, “he kicked again’ goin’. But, Mr. Trevor,
when it comes down to arrestin’ them as really is responsible, they
ain’t no cause to lock Hank up. He wasn’t responsible fur what he done.”

“Why not?” asked the mayor.

“’Cause he was drunk,” confessed Nick with unflinching lips. “You
give Hank half a chanct an’ he’d be worth all the rest o’ us rolled
together.”

“Mr. Mayor,” exclaimed Hank at once, his face flushed. “I did have too
much beer but I knowed what I was a-doin’. I could have stopped the
whole thing but I didn’t. Don’t you mind this hot air. I’m the oldest
in the gang; I helped drive the horse away; I’m most to blame.”

“Well,” commented Mr. Trevor after a pause, “you see what you’re up
against. What’ll you do to get out of this trouble?”

“Anything I can do,” answered Hank. “An’ I reckon the others’ll do the
same.”

“Are you ready to be respectable?”

“You mean quit loafin’ an’ go to work?”

“Yes――both.”

“I can’t get no job. None of us can. The factories don’t want us.”

“Will you go to work if I see that you get work?”

“Yes, sir,” exclaimed Hank, “an’ I’ll cut out the pool rooms an’ beer
saloons, too.”

“All of you?” asked Mr. Trevor sweeping a glance over the other five.

“It’s your only chance,” explained the mayor sternly.

“Yes, sir,” came from five hopeful but yet alarmed boys.

“So far, so good,” went on Mr. Trevor. “Your trouble isn’t wholly
because you haven’t been working or in school. It’s because you haven’t
had better ways of amusing yourselves when you’re not busy. I’ll see
that everybody here has a chance to begin work. I’m also going to see
that you are given a chance at decent, helpful play. Hank,” he said,
turning to the Goosetown gang leader, “what do you think of the Boy
Scout idea?”

“Seems all right fur them as kin afford it.”

“Will you also promise to organize your friends into a Boy Scout
patrol?”

“Me? Us?” exploded Hank.

“It isn’t altogether a matter of choice,” went on Mr. Trevor. “I’ve
found the principles of the Boy Scouts have already helped our sons.
The Wolf Patrol in a body has asked us to intercede for you boys. We
have done so and you won’t be prosecuted, on this second condition: you
must organize and keep up honestly a patrol of your own.”

“We ain’t got no money to buy all them clothes an’ hats,” exclaimed
Nick Apthorp. “Besides, Art and Alex Conyers’ll guy us.”

“Perhaps,” commented Mr. Trevor. “I believe you did that to them.”

“If you boys mean business,” broke in Mr. Conyers for the first time,
“and try to make something out of yourselves, I’ll see that you get
uniforms. I’m tired of your deviltry.”

The rough nature of the boys did not permit a gracious response but
when the three men left the young offenders the answer of every boy was
shining in his eyes.



CHAPTER XV

GOOSETOWN’S PRODIGAL SONS


The arraignment of the six horse thieves in court the next morning was
only a matter of form. To the surprise of Marshal Walter and the other
court officers, the mayor called the cases, asked for witnesses and,
none being present, dismissed the prisoners. A penitent sextet of boys
slipped out of the court room, and the regeneration of “Hank’s gang”
had begun.

The next five weeks passed rapidly. The Wolves continued their drills,
scout games and outings but not once did they clash with the rival
Coyotes. This patrol had been organized and completely outfitted by Mr.
Conyers. Each of the Goosetowners who had suffered arrest was also at
work, thanks to Mr. Trevor. It was a new era in juvenile Scottsville.

Ten days after the arrests Willie Bonner was able to leave his bed and
in a few more days he was on Mr. Trevor’s pay roll, as a chauffeur and
handy helper about the house and yard. With the boys, however, he was a
chum and equal. One would have thought him Art’s brother.

Mr. Trevor had written to the American Aeroplane Company in Newark
explaining the situation. As young Bonner had figured, the boy owed the
company four hundred dollars, for which the company held a mortgage.
This the restored young aviator had promised to pay as soon as he
could, and the company readily accepted the terms.

“We suggest,” wrote the president, “that you do not attempt to do
this while it is a burden to you.” (The boy had also written to his
old employers.) “Your treatment by the circus was outrageous and we
sympathize with you. We were sorry to lose your services and will
be glad to reëmploy you at any time. If you prefer to remain in the
west until you have paid the expenses of your illness we will suspend
payments on the engine until you are in a position to resume them.”

This suited Bonner and was received by his new associates with joy. As
soon as it was determined that Bonner (or Bonny as he was immediately
rechristened) was to stay in Scottsville that summer and fall, two
much discussed secret plans were at once laid before the new boy;
that he become a member of the Wolf Patrol and that the entire patrol
join with Bonner, financially and physically, to restore the wrecked
aeroplane.

Why this project should have been made a secret was hard to say. It was
a matter of business with Bonny. But there was a boyish feeling among
his fellow scouts that the rebuilding of the aeroplane in secret gave
the project a glamor of romance――like a satisfied puppy gnawing over a
hidden bone――and the attempt to restore the flying machine was to be
made without the knowledge of any outsider.

Mr. Trevor, however, had to be consulted. Manifestly the wareroom where
the broken planes were stored was no place to make repairs. A happy
expedient was hit upon. Mr. Trevor owned several farms and one of
these, the Cloverdale Stock Farm, was just beyond the town limits on
the bluff north of the river bottom.

Here there were the usual barns, wagon sheds, cribs and silos. And in
addition there was a low, wide implement house――full of farm tools and
wagons in the winter but empty in the summer. Cloverdale being an
up-to-date farm, one end of the implement building――“Shed No. 4”――was a
smithy, with a forge for shoeing horses and a carpenter’s bench for the
ordinary farm repairs.

Cloverdale was a mile and a half from town. The road that passed by
the sycamore-tree resort wound its way across the river bottom and
then turned east on the bluff. Finally it reached the river again and
descended once more to cross a rattling iron bridge where, on the far
side of the bridge, the road made its way between two pieces of open
woods.

These, clean and free from dead timber, were favorite picnic grounds
for all of Scottsville. Midway between the bridge and where the road
reached the top of the bluff was Cloverdale Farm, whose dairy and fat
cattle were the pride of that part of the country.

To this place, after nine o’clock one evening, when a mist of rain had
driven most of Scottsville indoors, a farm wagon carried the remnants
of the wrecked aeroplane. When these had been stowed within the
blackness of “Shed No. 4” and its owner and Art and Connie had hurried
back to town in Mr. Trevor’s automobile, another significant step had
been taken in that summer’s adventures.

Although the Wolves and Coyotes had not clashed in these and the
preceding days, they were well aware of each other’s doings. And, as
nearly always happens, when the erring individual reforms or tries to,
many persons rushed to the Goosetowners’ aid with never a thought of
the others who had stuck to a reasonably straight and narrow path.

“I suppose you notice,” observed Art to Connie one day, “that we ain’t
in it any more. People used to come out and make nice remarks when
the Wolves marched by with our flag flyin’ and our new suits shinin’.
The Coyotes were up on the public square last night durin’ the band
concert, paradin’ around an’ gettin’ more applause ’an we ever did.”

“That ain’t all, neither,” retorted Connie. “Most o’ the Coyotes work
over to the table factory. They’re a-givin’ it out that the factory
folks is goin’ to send their patrol up to the state fair to march in
the big parade carryin’ a banner sayin’ ‘Scottsville Tables.’”

“Well,” remarked Willie Bonner who was with the boys, “isn’t that what
you wanted?”

“Sure,” answered Art. “Only, I kind o’ thought that we’d mix a little.
Now they don’t seem to know we’re on earth. I ain’t jealous of ’em,
only I wish they knew we was still doin’ business.”

The last week in July an annual religious camp meeting opened a session
on its grounds fifteen miles from Scottsville. To the surprise and joy
of the Wolves they were invited to attend the opening and participate
in the “young people’s outdoor program.” A few days before the event it
was learned that the Coyotes had also been invited and what was more to
the point, that their employers had given them the day off.

“I’m bully glad they’re goin’,” said Davy Cooke at the first gathering
of the Wolves. “That’s better’n drinkin’ beer an’ stealin’ horses. An’
I reckon,” he added, “it’ll be a case o’ the prodigal son. When the
fatted calf is barbecued, the Coyotes’ll probably get the choice cuts.”

“You ain’t sorry, are you?” laughed Willie Bonner as usual. “I kind o’
think you fellows have had your share o’ calf an’ other good things.”

“Sorry?” exclaimed Connie. “Of course not. We don’t want any the best
of it. But we’re gettin’ tired o’ playin’ second fiddle.”

“All we want,” broke in Art, “is an even break.”

When the eventful day came, sure enough, the Coyotes boarded the
same train. Both patrols entered the same car. There was a volley
of jocularity, good-natured salutations and then some mixing of
fellow scouts. There had certainly been a revolution in the Goosetown
representatives. Shining shoes, scrubbed faces and hands and freshly
ironed shirts and ties were as general among the Coyotes as the Wolves.

“Now you watch ’em,” whispered Art to Connie when the camp grounds were
reached. “All the women an’ the preachers’ll take ’em up. An’ they’ll
head the procession――you’ll see.”

“Mebbe we’d better tell the camp meetin’ folks we’ve reformed too,”
suggested Connie.

“That’s no joke,” replied Art. “The original Boy Scouts,” he went on
with a smile, “will soon be back numbers.”

“Cheer up! Cheer up!” exclaimed Willie Bonner who was also resplendent
in hat and khaki, “you ought to be proud of your work.”

As predicted by Art, while the camp grounds committee gave all the
scouts a cordial reception, it lingered with the reformed Goosetowners.
And also as predicted, when the camp grounds band set out for the big
tabernacle, the Coyote Patrol held the right of line. Then came the
“ancient and honorable” Wolf Patrol, gay and resplendent in spite
of some secret jealousy, and, after these, various bodies of boys
and girls, Christian Endeavorers, Sunday School classes, Young Men’s
Christian Association representatives and Willing Workers.

When the procession reached the assembly hall, speeches of welcome were
made; there was a short address extolling the work of the young people
and some special remarks on the Boy Scout movement. When the speaker
told how the Boy Scout idea “brings all classes of boys together, the
rich and the poor, and levels all to one plane of comradeship and
equality,” Art nudged Wart Ware and whispered:

“Unless you’ve been a real tough. Then it seems to level you up on top
o’ the other fellows.”

“And now,” concluded the speaker, “as appropriate to this day’s outdoor
program, it is my pleasure to announce that the association has
provided a number of beautiful prizes to be awarded the winners in an
athletic contest――‘track events’ I believe you call them. Of course
these events are open to all our young friends. But, I feel sure,” he
added with a beaming smile, “that none of us will be surprised if all
the prizes are captured by our young athletic friends and guests, the
Boy Scouts of Scottsville. We will now adjourn to the recreation field.”

If the fourteen Wolves had each and instantly swallowed a lump of
ice the chill that each felt at these words could not have been more
pronounced.

“It’s a put-up job,” whispered Sammy Addington.

“It winds up the last of our little ball o’ yarn,” added Wart under his
breath.

“What do you think o’ that?” gasped Art to Connie behind his hand.
“It’s like a gang o’ freshies tackling the varsity team at football. It
ain’t square!”

Connie looked at the near-by Coyotes. To tell the truth the latter
showed no assurance themselves. They were heavier and in the main,
older. And it needed but one look to reassure him that it was no
“put-up job.”

“They’re worse scared than we are,” answered Connie trying to reassure
his chums. “Anyway, we got to go against ’em. They ain’t no gettin’ out
o’ it. Buck up boys! If they’ve got a hundred yard dash Sammy ought to
scare some one. An’ if they high jump what’s the matter with Art!”

Just then the master of ceremonies was introduced to read the program
of events. When he reached the end and announced “Relay race, two
hundred and twenty yards each, four persons to a side,” Willie Bonner
caught Art and Connie by the knees.

“Let me in that,” he whispered. “I’ve done relays――nothin’ to get
excited about――but that’s my distance. Cheer up, fellows!”

With grit, if with but little confidence, the Wolves joined the
procession to the recreation green. The Coyotes, less familiar with
school and youthful athletics, followed with curious anticipation. The
program, while it included the main track contests, was not prepared
with a view to “team work” and there were no points for the first,
second and third. First prizes alone were provided for the winner in
each event.

“Remember,” urged Connie to his scouts, “we ain’t entered as a team.
Come to think of it we’re not fightin’ the Coyotes.”

“That’s all right,” replied Art, “if you want to look at it that way.
But I don’t. We’ll know and they’ll know. An’ ever’body’ll know when
it’s over what they took an’ what we took. An’ the patrol ’at gets the
most prizes’ll lick the other. An’ we’re licked now, don’t you forget
that. Who’s goin’ to put the twelve pound shot against Hank Milleson?”

“All right,” responded Connie, “let ’em. Muscle and bone ain’t the only
things.”

“But it’s something,” growled Art, “an’ most folks think it’s a whole
lot.”

For an hour the athletic meet aroused enthusiasm. Event after event was
run off with yells and cheers, and at noon when the big basket dinner
was announced in the Grove, fourteen sweating Wolves had what they had
feared――a decisive defeat. There were no tears and there was no anger
but there were set lips and flushed faces. Art’s tabulation of results
was as follows:

        Events.        Winner.

    1 100 yard dash――Sammy Addington, Wolf; Time 11⅘ sec.

    2 440 yard run――James Compton, Coyote; Time 1 min. 3⅖ sec.

    3 880 yard run――Martin Clare, Coyote; Time 2 min. 45 sec.

    4 1 mile run――Jack Chandler, Y. M. C. A.; Time 5 min. 56⅕ sec.

    5 Putting 12 lb. shot――Henry Milleson, Coyote; Dist. 28 ft. 7½ in.

    6 High jump――Job Wilkes, Coyote; height 4 ft. 11 in.

    7 Running broad jump――Henry Milleson, Coyote; dist. 15 ft. 3 in.

    8 Relay race, 220 yards each, 4 men on a side.

      Sammy Addington, Wolf; }
      David Cooke, Wolf;     } Time
      Lewis Ashwood, Wolf;   } 1 min., 50⅖ sec.
      William Bonner, Wolf;  }

“There it is,” growled Art. “Five prizes to our two. An’ headin’ the
procession! An’ goin’ to the state fair to show off! Where do we get
off?”

Connie, who had been watching the Coyotes reforming company in silence,
turned suddenly to his companions. Instead of replying to Art’s
question, he exclaimed in a whisper, “Come here, kids! I’ve got an
idea. Mebbe it’s rotten, but listen!”

For several moments he spoke earnestly in whispers, glancing quickly
from one to the other. There were constant interruptions from the
puzzled Wolves and explanations in turn from Art and Wart. Then all
attention seemed centered in Willie Bonner. When he finally nodded his
head with an approving laugh Connie turned and walked quickly to the
Coyote crowd.

“Well, kids,” began the Wolf Patrol Leader, “I want to congratulate
you. You put it over us all right.”

“What d’you mean?” asked Hank Milleson.

“Why you beat us, fair and square.”

“Beat you?” continued Hank. “How’s that?”

“Didn’t you win five events to our two?”

“Five to two?” repeated Hank. “Oh, yes! Yes, I guess so. It was a lot
o’ fun, wasn’t it?”

“Yes,” answered Connie. “But we don’t like to be licked. You fellows
got more muscle an’ wind ’an we have but we got a game we think we can
beat you at.”

“What’s that?” exclaimed several.

“It’s a scout game,” replied Connie. “You know ‘When Scout Meets
Scout’?”

“Sure,” every one answered.

“The first week in August we’re goin’ to camp out in the picnic woods
up on the river. If you kids think you can lick us at ever’thing, we
dare you to fix a day for a game of ‘When Scout Meets Scout,’ the
winners to be the champion Boy Scouts of Scottsville. How about it?”

“Purty soft,” exclaimed Nick Apthorp tantalizingly. “We’ll be there an’
we’ll be the champeens.”



CHAPTER XVI

WHEN SCOUT MEETS SCOUT


The week in the woods referred to by Patrol Leader Conyers was to be
the big event of the summer. It was to include a Sunday in camp and
the first day was set for Wednesday, August the second. In the seven
days following, the program included every detail of Boy Scout drill,
game and camp life. Saturday was named for the “When Scout Meets Scout”
combat with the Coyotes and the day after the return from camp meeting
the original program was so altered as to leave this day open.

At a later conference between Hank and Connie the details of the coming
contest were agreed upon. The usual directions for this game were
amended and elaborated to conform to the bigger notions of the eager
scouts. The rules for this game as given in “Scouting for Boys” are
these:

“Single scouts, or complete patrols or pairs of scouts, are to be
taken out about two miles apart, and made to work toward each other
either alongside a road, or by giving each side a landmark to work
to, such as a steep hill or a big tree, which is directly behind the
other party, and will thus insure their coming together. The patrol
which first sees the other wins. This is signified by the patrol leader
holding up his patrol flag for the umpire to see, and sounding his
whistle. A patrol need not keep together, but the patrol wins which
first holds out its flag, so it is well for the scouts to be in touch
with their patrol leader by signal, voice or message. Scouts may employ
any ruse they like, such as climbing into trees and hiding in carts but
they must not dress up in disguise.”

“That’s all right,” commented Connie, “but it’s too simple if we are
goin’ to make a day of it.”

“Doctor it up any way you like,” laughed Hank. “I reckon we can stand
it if you can.”

And this was the plan finally agreed upon, the conditions being signed
by each leader:

Since the Coyotes had but ten men, the Wolves were to select the same
number from its own roster. The entire Wolf patrol was to start out at
nine o’clock in the morning and have a half hour in which to conceal
itself, under honor not to go beyond these limits: the river on the
west, the dirt road on the north leading past Bradner’s Mill (a mile
and a half up the river) to Phillipstown, the Phillipstown pike running
south to the County Fair grounds and thence west again to the Little
Green River on the town limits. This was an area of about five square
miles.

When the first patrol to “hide out” left the Wolf camp it was to be
escorted out of sight by three umpires. Then each of the ten “hide out”
scouts was to be given a square of white muslin with a conspicuous
number on it to be pinned to his breast. Another square, an exact
duplicate, was to be attached to the boy’s back. He was under pledge
as a Boy Scout not to remove, exchange or obscure these placards. The
umpires were then to prepare a list containing each boy’s name and
number, which was to be held secret from the pursuers.

When a half hour’s leeway had elapsed the scouts in pursuit were to be
started. They were allowed two hours and a half to scour the fields,
roads, woods, barns, ravines, creeks and swamps of the “hide out”
territory. The pursuers must register back in camp by twelve o’clock
and report to the umpires the name or names of those of the enemy they
had caught sight of. To confirm this, the discovered boy’s number had
also to be given. Inability to give the number belonging to a detected
boy counted as a failure.

“What license you kids got for thinkin’ you can beat us at that game?”
asked Hank smiling. “You certainly don’t think you know more about the
country! We’ve shot rabbits and nutted an’ stole apples over ever’ foot
of it ’at ain’t water――an’ all that we’ve gone froggin’ in.”

“Never mind that,” retorted Connie. “We’ve signed up, an’ the winner’s
to be the cock o’ the walk.”

“An’ takes the banner,” added Hank confidently, referring to a special
emblem of white silk, bordered with red, on which these words were to
be painted: “Scottsville Boy Scouts, First Prize Scouting.”

When Wednesday finally arrived and the Wolf Patrol set out for the
picnic grounds, the big wagon and the dray that headed the procession
were piled high with all kinds of camp equipage. The patrol provided
not only for its own comfort in lodging and food but carried material
to make a number of guests comfortable. This meant a big extra tent
with camp stools, a specially employed colored cook and delicacies in
the way of food calculated to please young ladies. It was understood
that in the period from three o’clock to five thirty each afternoon,
tea and light refreshments was to be served to sisters and mothers and
others.

It had been arranged that cream, milk, butter and fruit and vegetables
would be contributed daily by the Cloverdale Stock Farm a mile and
a half away. Moved also by the expected invasion of the ladies, the
scouts had already spent two afternoons at the picnic grounds removing
dead tree trunks, raking the ground and tidying up. By noon of
Wednesday, one passing the camp site might have thought a company of
militia was in camp. Flags were flying, tents lined the river front and
the spick-and-span Wolves gave the needed martial touch. As the smoking
first meal was placed on the set-up table the familiar war song of the
young scouts rent the air.

“Be prepared,” yelled Connie.

“Zing-a-zing! Bom! Bom!” roared the Wolves as they hit the table with
each “Bom! Bom!”

With this came another song of defiance that all had been shouting for
days.

“He’s a Coyote! He’s a Coyote!” Connie would yell.

“Yes! he’s better’n that; he’s a hippo-hippo-hippopotamus!” came the
chorus.

That afternoon the routine of a regular Boy Scout camp began. In full
it ran in this way: 6.30 A. M., turn out, air bedding, coffee and
crackers; 7 to 7.30 A. M., parade for exercise and instruction; 7.30
A. M., clean up tents and wash; 8 A. M., breakfast; 9 A. M., scouting
practice; 11 A. M., crackers and milk; 11 A. M. to 1.30 P. M., scouting
games; 1.30 P. M., dinner; 2 to 3 P. M., compulsory rest, no movement
or talking in camp; 3 to 5.30 P. M., scouting games; 5.30 P. M., tea; 6
to 7.30 P. M., recreation and camp games; 7.30 to 9 P. M., camp fire or
8 to 11 P. M., night practice; 9 P. M., crackers and milk and turn in;
9.30 P. M., lights out.

This program was interrupted Friday afternoon when Connie selected the
team of ten for the next day’s struggle. Then, in a body, with a chart
of the “hide out” territory, the Wolves spent three hours in a careful
survey of the scene of the coming conflict. Nothing was to be left to
chance. Using their best skill and all their ingenuity the older boys
selected each of the ten hiding places. And they were scattered from
one end of the district to the other.

One boy was shown how to curl himself up on the top platform of a
windmill. Colly Craighead was to hurry to the Little Green River Bridge
and secrete himself on the lower crossbeams over the water. Willie
Bonner suggested the clever scheme of dressing himself in a scarecrow’s
ragged garments, but this had to be vetoed on the ground that it was a
disguise. Two boys were assigned to heavily foliaged trees; one to a
deep hole in a gravel pit; one to a hollow tree and one to the sewer
pipes making a road culvert.

These “hide outs” took care of Wart Ware, Sammy Addington, Phil
Abercrombie, Lew Ashwood, Colly Craighead, Paul Corbett and Davy Cooke.
The other boys of the ten selected, Leader Conyers, Art and Willie
Bonner, undertook to shift for themselves. Connie on the theory that
the pursuers would, in the main, hurry at once to the far limits of the
“hide out” territory, meant to stick closer to the camp until the rush
was over and then sneak home.

Art planned to use his legs to reach Bradner’s mill before the Coyotes
took the field and to hide in the stream which, above the bridge, was
wide and from six to ten feet deep. Bonner was to go with him but the
young aviator was to make a bluff at hiding.

Under pretense of dodging the Coyotes, Bonner was to remain always
within hail of Art. On the approach of any Coyote to the river bank
Bonner would give the Wolf signal and Art would disappear under the
water. To make this possible Art was to push ahead of himself all the
time a heavy bit of driftwood. His body wholly under the water, he
would raise his mouth and nose on the far side of the driftwood to
breathe and either tread water or float idly until danger had passed.

“They’ll get me early in the game,” explained Bonner who really
originated this ruse. “And that’ll help us. In the first place they’ll
never suspect that two of us are near together. And, after I’m tagged,
I’ll be free to keep an eye out for any one that approaches the river.
That way, it’s almost a cinch that we can ‘hide out’ one of us at
least.”

Saturday every one was early astir. Even before nine o’clock a
procession of buggies, carriages and automobiles was entering the
picnic grounds. At half past eight the Coyotes reached the camp. To
the surprise of all, the proprietor of the table factory had hired the
Scottsville Silver Cornet Band and on foot it preceded the Coyotes. The
martial music gave gayety to the occasion. But a new banner borne by
the Coyotes did not. On this were blazoned the words: “Camp Meeting,
Five to Two.”

This unexpected demonstration rather upset the Wolves. They could
understand the band and the banner and the assurance of their
rivals――these were provided and inspired by the Coyotes’ present
backer, the owner of the factory where most of the Coyotes were
employed. But the inroad of spectators mystified them. It was explained
later that the evening newspaper of the day before had suddenly made a
great event out of the boyish contest. It had explained that the show
would be interesting in pitting the ingenuity of each patrol against
the other; that it was free, that visitors were welcome and that
citizens should turn the day into a gala occasion.

The response to this showed what few had expected, that the previous
clashes between the two patrols had already inexcusably developed
partisans in the town. Finally, when the large automobile of the table
factory owner appeared and began scattering broadcast little tags
worded “Encourage the Boy Workers,” with a crude picture of a coyote
head printed beneath, the cause of special interest became apparent.

“It’s Chase of the table factory,” Connie heard his father remark to
Mr. Trevor. “We ought to do something. He’s turning an innocent sport
into a bitter struggle.”

“You’re right,” answered Mr. Trevor soberly. “He probably thinks it
will help him with his discontented workmen if he stirs up feeling;
trying to make it a fight between what he calls labor and the leisure
class.”

“Do you think we ought to call the event off?” asked Mr. Conyers.

“By no means,” responded the father of the Boy Scout idea. “I believe
Chase is putting bad ideas into the Coyotes’ heads. But for our boys
to retreat before them will not mend matters. Perhaps the best thing
that could happen to the Coyotes would be a good defeat and,” he went
on significantly, “I have reason to believe the Wolves can give it to
them. If Mr. Chase persists in putting us in the ‘leisure class,’ which
none of us are, I’ve got just pride enough to want to show him that
everything isn’t accomplished by muscle alone.”

“I don’t know,” answered Mr. Conyers doubtfully. “I’m sorry the point
has been raised. Our boys are of course no better than their old
persecutors. But I’m sure they are no worse. They were all getting
together in a decent form of amusement. This may break ’em apart again.”

Just then the report spread through the camp that the table factory
owner had notified the Coyotes that he had decided to give them a
hundred dollars if they won the contest.

“That settles it,” exclaimed Mr. Conyers. “This thing has gone far
enough. That kills every Boy Scout idea included in the game. We ought
to force the Wolves to withdraw.”

“Hain’t the Mama Boys got any friends?” shouted some one in the crowd
of Coyote adherents just at this moment. “Be easy with ’em, Hank!”

Mr. Trevor, exasperated but showing a smile, looked at Mr. Conyers,
whose face was flushed with anger.

“I’m done,” Connie’s father snapped. “I can see some one’s going to be
better off for a good licking. Let ’em fight it out.”

Out of the crowd the umpires were soon selected: Mr. Addington, Sammy’s
father, for the Wolves; Engineer Gamage of the table factory for the
Coyotes; and Professor Souter of the high school, who was agreed
upon by the other two. Sharply at nine o’clock all the Coyotes were
coralled in the guest tent with the Wolves, the instructions were
again repeated, each boy placed on his honor as to his own conduct and
also about receiving information or help from outsiders――the latter
condition suggested by Mr. Trevor. Then the three umpires set out with
the ten eager Wolves and escorted the first “hide outs” down the pike
and beyond a bend in the road. In ten minutes the committee was back in
camp with its secret list of the number assigned each Wolf. The band
played, spectators scattered to left and right better to see the coming
get-away, the Coyotes lined up on the smooth, dusty pike, and with a
shout of “Go!” at nine thirty o’clock a quick cloud of dust told that
the fight was on.

No word from the field reached the camp until a few minutes after ten
o’clock. Then Buck Bluett, his face aglow, suddenly rushed into camp
from up the river, and pausing only a moment at the umpires’ station,
panted:

“Number ten, Bill Bonner.”

As none but the committee knew whether this was right or wrong the
cheering meant nothing. Buck was off along the pike after a new
victim. There was some surprise that Bonner was so easily detected.
By eleven o’clock four other Coyotes had reported to the umpires. Job
Wilkes registered number nine as Wart Ware, discovered on the top of a
windmill when his hat blew off, by Job, who immediately ascended the
tower and caught the Wolf’s number. Joe Andrews caught Sammy Addington
in a hole in the gravel pit and announced him as number two.

Nick Apthorp, proud of a double victory, turned in numbers three and
one as Phil Abercrombie and Lew Ashwood, who were caught in trees,
while Matt Branson said his man was Paul Corbett and that he was number
seven.

All the reporting Coyotes took the field again and no other searcher
reported until eleven thirty. About that time Buck Bluett came in out
of breath with his second claim. Number eight, he affirmed, was Davy
Cooke whom he insisted he had chased from under a road culvert. After
that, as the minutes passed, Wolf stock began to go up. Three Wolf
“hide outs” had not yet been reported. Yet, if the claims were found to
agree with the umpires’ list of numbers, seven captures had been made,
a number that would require hard and fast work to beat.

The unannounced boys were Arthur Trevor, Colly Craighead and Alex
Conyers. As twelve o’clock approached, the umpires moved out into
the road, ready to accept any claim up to the last minute. One after
another the searching scouts trotted back into camp according to the
rules. And, as each appeared with no new claim, a shout arose from the
Wolf adherents. Nine of the Coyote pursuers had registered “in” and the
umpires were about to declare the first half of the game over when an
exhausted yell was heard down the river:

“Colly Craighead is number six,” cried Pete Chester. “Down under the
Little Green River bridge.”

“Twelve o’clock,” announced Professor Souter.

“And two out,” yelled the friends of the Wolves.

The Wolves had a margin of thirty minutes in which to report back into
Camp. But the twelve o’clock had scarcely been announced when Willie
Bonner was seen hastening into camp.

“How many out?” he called anxiously.

“Two,” responded some one. “Trevor and Conyers.”

“There’s Trevor,” shouted Bonner pointing to the near-by river. There
was a rush in that direction. The only thing to be seen was the section
of a half-rotted log drifting slowly with the current in the middle of
the stream. As it lodged against the driftwood caught by the bridge
abutment, a sleek and oily-looking plaster of hair slowly rose from its
far side.

“Trevor, number four,” exclaimed two blue and cold lips, and a
shivering form drew itself into the sunlight again.

One after another the “hide-outs” appeared in camp. Finally all had
arrived but Connie. As the half hour neared its end the Wolves began to
show alarm.

“He’s right up there at the bend of the road under a pile of cut
thistles,” explained Bonner. A dash was made to the spot. But Connie
was not there. If he failed to report in five minutes he would be
penalized and counted as found, increasing to nine the number detected.
Watches flew out. Good points of vantage were selected by spectators
and every possible approach kept under anxious watch. The time limit
had all but expired. Professor Souter stepped forward and called:

“All present but one. Alexander Conyers here?”

“All right,” was the almost instant answer in a sleepy tone. “What
d’you want?”

Hundreds of persons turned to see Connie step from one of the tents,
rubbing his eyes and yawning.



CHAPTER XVII

THE AEROPLANE SPY


“Where’ve you been?” demanded the factory umpire instantly.

“I’ve been asleep in the tent,” responded Connie, smiling.

“How long?” continued his questioner.

“’Bout an hour and a half!”

“Have you been out of bounds?” broke in Professor Souter.

“No, sir. I’ve never been over a few hundred yards from this spot.”

“Then you must have disguised yourself,” suggested the third umpire.

“No, sir――I did not. Ever’thing has been fair an’ square.”

“Then I think it’s up to you to tell us how you passed through this
crowd without anyone seeing you,” exclaimed Mr. Chase of the table
factory skeptically.

“I didn’t go through the crowd,” laughed Connie provokingly. “I went
under it.”

“Alexander!” exclaimed Mr. Conyers, “make a report to the committee at
once of where you have been.”

“Very simple,” began Connie. “As we planned, the boys covered me with a
heap of cut thistles only a few hundred yards up the road, around the
bend. We did it because I calculated all the fellows chasing us would
start out on the run and not look around very much just next to the
camp.”

“I looked in that pile of thistles,” protested Carrots Compton. “You
wasn’t so smart.”

“You were too late,” went on Connie. “You see, I was the first one hid,
and I had almost a half hour leeway. It was pretty hot and prickly
under the thistles, and I didn’t know if I could stand it. Then while
I was movin’ around tryin’ to make a sort of nest, all of a sudden I
felt a kind of draft. It was so strong I knew I was near a hole of some
kind――and that’s what I was. Just back of where I was lyin’ there was
a cave-in in the ground. Some one had laid a few rails acrost it, and
then the thistles was piled on there――to keep the stock out, I guess.”

“I seen that hole,” interrupted Carrots. “There wasn’t nothin’ in it
but some rails an’ weeds.”

“That was later,” laughed Connie. “The hole was a break in the big
three-foot cement tile. When I felt the wind suckin’ in there I knew
it was empty, and I could see it was dry. I knew it ran right along
the road by the camp an’ ended by the river bank. I took a chance and
dropped down into it. Then to make it look as if no one could have done
it, I pulled in the rails an’ thistles an’ started for the river.”

“In the ditch tile?” asked Mr. Trevor alarmed.

“Sure!” answered Connie. “It was dark for a long time, and there was
things there――something like a water rat I reckon it was, kept runnin’
ahead o’ me. An’ I think there was a snake or two――judgin’ by the
sounds――but it didn’t bother me. I could see daylight after a long
crawl, an’ then I felt better, ’cause it got cooler. Once some one
looked in the open end o’ the drain, but I laid flat an’ still. An’
when I got to the river there wasn’t anyone in sight. I crawled out
an’ snook along under the high bank about twenty-five feet an’ crawled
up into the tent from the back. So’s to be sure no one would look in
an’ see me I crawled under some bedclothes an’ then I went to sleep.
That’s all.”

Mr. Chase attempted, for a moment, to make a point that Art, Connie and
Colly Craighead had gone out of bounds by crossing the river line. But
the umpires rejected his contention as the conditions clearly specified
“beyond the river” and not “in it or on it.” When the list was checked
up, all names and numbers were found to agree with the umpires’ list
and the Coyotes were officially credited with having found eight of the
ten Wolf “hide outs.”

Then followed the luncheon hour. Every shady tree seemed to have its
group of picnickers busy with fried chicken, jelly cake, potato salad,
pickles and like refreshments. The Coyotes were guests of the Wolves at
a special spread. Everyone ate hurriedly, for the real struggle was yet
to come. The Wolves knew what they had to do to win and, figuratively,
they pawed the ground eager for the start. Sharp at one o’clock the ten
Coyotes marched out on the road with the committee. At one thirty the
straining Wolves were turned loose.

But, to the surprise of the spectators, the Wolves trotted down the
road only beyond the crowd. There they came to a stop and each scout
could be seen attaching a large white flag to his staff――all except Art
Trevor and Willie Bonner who did not even carry staffs. Then, Leader
Conyers was observed to take from his pocket a roll of paper and trace
his finger over it as if giving certain directions.

This done, Connie and seven other boys separated and spreading out
like the sticks of a fan, took to their heels. There was an advance to
right and left over fences, several scouts started straight down the
road, and two boys set out up and down the river. Art and Willie Bonner
waited until their mates had begun to disappear and then they turned
and ran back to the camp.

The astonished spectators gazed at them without comment. The two Wolves
silently trotted into the camp and then toward the bridge in the rear.
It was not until the bridge began to rattle under the feet of Art and
Bonner that curiosity found words. At that point the factory umpire
called:

“Here, you fellows! You’re going out of bounds!”

But the running scouts proceeded without a pause.

“You’re wrong,” explained Professor Souter. “The pursuers can go
where they please. It’s the ‘hide outs’ only who must keep within the
district.”

To confirm this, a fact well understood by Art and his companions, the
rules were examined and Professor Souter was found to be right.

“I hope they ain’t givin’ up,” laughed the factory owner. “A real sport
sticks, win or lose.”

“I think they’ll be back,” spoke up Mr. Trevor, who seemed to be
the only person not mystified. “Meanwhile,” he added addressing the
hundreds present, “I have been told by the Wolves that you need expect
no bulletins from the field until the enemy has been located.”

Between the wonder over the apparent retreat of two of the Wolves, and
some disappointment over this news――which made it plain that they must
have a system and meant to give all their time to the search instead of
running in to report each man found――the crowd gradually melted away
among the trees.

A few minutes after two o’clock a man lying in the grass suddenly
sprang up with a shout and wildly waving arms. As he plunged toward
the open, dusty road a wave of picnickers joined him.

“An aeroplane!” rose in a chorus. “A flyin’ machine!”

High above the road leading back to town, a brown expanse of canvas was
gliding through the air toward the iron bridge as swiftly and steadily
as a hawk with its eye fixed on a field mouse below. The whirr of two
glistening propellers ran before the object. On its lower frame sat two
boys. One of them with a small object in his lap, was holding a pair of
field glasses on the gaping crowd. The other, with his hands upon the
levers, was holding the machine on a course directly over the road.

“It’s Trevor and that circus boy!” yelled some one. And almost before
the crowd could get on the road, Willie Bonner’s resurrected aeroplane
slid over the camp and, with an upward dart, was beyond the gaping
crowd.

“Nothin’ doin’!” yelled an excited man, Mr. Chase. “They can’t put
that over on our boys. This ain’t a circus. The rules say: ‘No outside
help.’ That’s outside help. Rule ’em out.”

The umpires, puzzled, looked at each other. Then adherents of the two
patrols crowded about the committee, shouting, protesting or denying
charges. Bonner had banked and headed his aeroplane down the river and
was out of sight before a decision was reached. But in the end, even
the Coyotes’ umpire had to agree that the use of the aeroplane was
within the rules, as it belonged to the Wolves and was operated by them.

Those in the camp who first saw the aeroplane shooting across the
river, at once connected it with the two boys who had disappeared in
that direction. But the concealed Coyotes had no such suggestion to
help them in identifying the occupants of the aeroplane. This was as
the Wolves had hoped and expected.

“Now,” began Bonner as the aeroplane headed down the river, “get ready.
I’ll cover every foot of the district. Watch your chart and use your
glasses. I reckon those who are inside of anything’ll pop out to see
what’s doin’.”

“It’s a cinch,” chuckled Art. “They ain’t one of ’em knows about the
machine. Just keep high enough so they can’t make out our faces, an’
I’ll do the rest with the glasses.”

“An’ them we miss, the other boys ought to get.”

The first results amply proved that the boys’ theory was a good one.
Near the County Fair road, in the southwest corner of the district, a
small, scum-covered cow pond stood in a low pasture. Art, using his
glass, made out a Wolf running from the pond, which he had evidently
examined with no result. As Art kept his glass on the opaque green
pool, the aeroplane made a circling sweep. When it was about to pass
over the water, a slime-coated boy, dripping water and mud, scrambled
up out of the center of the pond, his face upturned, his eyes staring
and his mouth open.

“Number nine,” exclaimed Art. After another squint with the glass he
added jubilantly: “Joe Andrews. He just had his nose out.”

While the aeroplane swung to the end of the district, Art jotted the
name and number on his chart. Bonner’s machine was not a varnished,
silk-winged aeroplane. The new white linen sections on the old, soiled
and oily planes were even grotesque. But it was built on scientific
principles, light and stout, carried a four-cylinder, twenty horse
power motor that was working as well as it did before the accident
at the circus. The principal expense in the rebuilding of the flying
machine had been the cost of a new magneto. Other needed material had
been secured in Scottsville.

“Now,” suggested the jubilant young aviator, “we’ll take a turn about
the whole district and look wherever it seems unlikely anyone would
hide.”

The circuit required less than twelve minutes, and the aeroplane passed
the camp again. Not a Coyote was seen but the Wolves were picked out,
scattered here and there, by their white staff flags. Turning westward
at the camp road, the aeroplane headed directly across the “hide out”
district. Art kept his glass busy, but no Coyote head rewarded him.

“That looks like about the last place anyone would hide,” suggested Art
pointing directly ahead. “Let’s try it.”

He referred to a broad wheat field which spread over the top of a low
hill. The crop had been cut and threshed, and a large part of the
field had been newly plowed. The plowed part covered the crest of the
rolling field and was apparently devoid of all life except blackbirds.
A white-flagged Wolf could be seen in the distance cutting across a
corner of the plowed slope.

The aeroplane pilot gripped his levers anew and the machine rolled
upward on the air billows, while Art’s nerves tingled with the joy of
the chase.

“Make a swing and come back!” he suddenly exclaimed. “There’s something
in a furrow. It’s one of ’em!”

Without looking, Bonner made a wide swing and turned over the brow of
the rise.

“It is!” almost shouted Art. “It’s one of ’em! But he’s on his side. I
can’t make out his number. You couldn’t see him twenty yards away.” He
turned and twisted to keep his glasses on the half buried figure. “He
saw us. He’s on. He ain’t moved an inch. Try again.”

Twice more the sputtering aeroplane circled over the lifeless looking
figure, each time flying lower.

“I’m sure it’s Nick Apthorp,” whispered Art, “but I can’t get his
number.”

“Well,” replied Bonner, “we’d better give some one the tip.”

Three white staffs were in sight. Bonner headed the dipping aeroplane
toward the nearest one. When it was seen that the aeroplane spies
had caught the watching Wolf’s eye, Art waved his hat. The Wolf with
the flag, Colly Craighead, responded by dipping his pennant and then,
as the hawk-like aeroplane banked again and mounted skyward over the
higher field, Colly set out on a dead run.

When the motionless figure came in sight again Art crouched low in his
seat. Directly above the silent figure Art’s arm shot out and a small
bag dropped swiftly to the plowed ground beneath. A cloud of white
arose and, ten feet from the concealed Coyote, the rich black soil
glared out in a spot of snow white flour.

“He sees it,” shouted Art. “Colly’s got his measure all right. I guess
we’ve nailed two hard ones, anyway.”

Just at this moment young Bonner noticed that the oil gauge was empty.
With a reassuring word to allay Art’s fears he made a sharp bank and
glide for the hard and smooth Phillipstown road. While the two boys
were bending low over the engine, about five minutes later a call
sounded from an apple orchard about a hundred yards away.

“Hey there!” yelled a voice. “Is the show free?”

Art whirled to see a boy standing in an old cider barrel and just about
to spring out.

“Sure,” yelled Art. “Always free to our friends.”

At the sound of Art’s voice the struggling boy turned his glance upward
again and then thrust his body back into the tight-fitting barrel.

“Who was it?” asked Bonner still busy with the engine.

“Mart Clare, number three,” chuckled Art as he made another note on his
chart. “Betrayed by his curiosity.”

Mart apparently did not realize that he was out of the running, for he
kept to his stuffy hiding place while the feed pipe was readjusted and
the two spies had made a new ascent. It was then three o’clock.

“It’s time to round up,” announced Bonner. “The boys’ll be lookin’ for
us.”

Again the stout little airship began to circle the “hide out”
territory. With his field glasses Art could make out white flags in
all directions. Carrying out a prearranged plan, Bonner headed the
aeroplane from one sentinel-like Wolf to the next one. As the first
one was passed he reversed his staff and held its head on the ground.
A look of disappointment passed over the face of each boy in the
aeroplane and Art made a check on the chart in his lap. It was Sammy
Addington’s report――a blank.

The next Wolf the aeroplane picked up held his staff out like a
semaphore and then moved it up and down four times.

[Illustration: SIGNALING THE “AEROPLANE SPY”]

“That’s better!” exclaimed Art. “I wonder who number four is.”

Flitting over the fields, forests and roads beneath, the “Scouts of the
Air” were soon signalled by Colly Craighead who confirmed his discovery
of the Coyote in the hill furrow by eight movements of his flag. Then,
in turn, came a Wolf who they saw was Davy Cooke, who announced he had
seen number two; Paul Corbett reported number four sighted and then
while Art was busy checking this information, Bonner caught an extra
message of one flash.

“I wonder if he means he saw number five, or number four and number
one!” exclaimed Art, in doubt what to put down. “We already have number
four.”

The next searcher to communicate with the aeroplane answered this; Phil
Abercrombie flashed five times.

“Great!” shouted the aviator. “Only one blank so far. There’s Connie,”
he added. “Bully for you, old man! He’s got number ten. That ought to
be lucky.”

For some minutes no other Wolves could be made out. Bonner took another
flight south and returned to find two white flags coming out into the
main road from a lane. They were some distance away and Art was not
sure but that they were among those who had already reported. As he
trained his glasses on them they waved, “six” and “seven.” There was a
quick check of his list by Art and then, with a yell of victory he tore
loose the bow of a string beneath his seat, and the bright blue Wolf
Patrol pennant dropped fluttering into the wind.

Every Wolf Scout within sight of the flag knew what it meant. At the
first sight of the banner the Wolf call came from far and near. Eight
widely scattered Wolf Scouts threshed the air with white pennants, and
at twenty minutes after three o’clock, like the closing sticks of a
fan, the Wolf searchers――led by the fluttering flag on the aeroplane
above――were converging on the distant camp.

There was no quibble about the victory. When the Coyote Scouts reached
camp, Hank Milleson was quick to shake the winners by the hand. “We got
our trimmin’s,” he exclaimed with a laugh. “But we got ’em fair an’
square. I reckon a few brains are as good as a bunch o’ muscle.”

“No hard feelin’s?” smiled Connie.

“Not on your life,” answered Hank. “You deserve it, an’ we got to hand
it to you――even if we did lose our hundred dollars. Mebbe it’s worth
that to find out a thing or two.”

“Cut out the hot air,” broke in Art with a grin. “We got a lot to do
yet. We got somethin’ up our sleeve for you kids yet if you’re with us.”

“Ain’t goin’ to rub it in, are you?” asked Hank with mock seriousness.

“Listen,” explained Art with the eagerness of long pent-up enthusiasm.
“You know the big meadow up at Cloverdale?”

The Coyotes nodded their heads.

“Well, we got the shape of a big man-o’-war marked out with whitewash,
out in the middle of it. Bonner’s goin’ to take the flyin’ machine
right up there an’ we’re goin’ to have a new game.”

Blank looks showed on every face.

“We’re goin’ to throw bombs o’ paper bags full o’ flour at a big target
on the man-o’-war――”

[Illustration: PLAYING AT WAR]

“Who?” came in chorus. “From the aeroplane?”

“Ever’ one of us! Coyotes an’ Wolves! We’re goin’ to draw lots. Ever’
kid gets a ride on the aeroplane an’ three trials.”

While every Coyote stood open-mouthed――lost in the wild wave of joy
that so suddenly engulfed him――Mr. Trevor stepped forward.

“And when it’s too dark to throw any more bombs, the Cloverdale Farm
invites every scout here to a last contest of the day――a test to see if
each of you can eat a whole smothered chicken and a quart of ice cream.”

“Boys,” exclaimed Hank Milleson when he finally regained some
composure, “there ain’t but one thing to it: Three cheers for the Boy
Scouts of the Air!”

These had not yet died away when Carrots Compton added:

“An’ the Aeroplane Spy!”

As Carrots gave Art Trevor a big boy-slap on the back, the
table-factory owner turned and walked to his automobile with a snort of
disgust.



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       *       *       *       *       *


 Transcriber’s Notes:

 ――Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_); text in
   bold by “equal” signs (=bold=).

 ――Except for the frontispiece, illustrations have been moved to
   follow the text that they illustrate.

 ――Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

 ――Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

 ――Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

 ――The price list for the Scout uniforms on p. 142 does not equal
   the total listed. Total retained as printed.





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