By WILLIAM HEYLIGER
Author of "Don Strong of the Wolf Patrol"
Tempting boys to be what they should be—giving them in wholesome form what they want—that is the purpose and power of Scouting. To help parents and leaders of youth secure books boys like best that are also best for boys, the Boy Scouts of America organized EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY. The books included, formerly sold at prices ranging from $1.50 to $2.00 but, by special arrangement with the several publishers interested, are now sold in the EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY Edition at $1.00 per volume.
The books of EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY were selected by the Library Commission of the Boy Scouts of America, consisting of George F. Bowerman, Librarian, Public Library of the District of Columbia; Harrison W. Craver, Director, Engineering Societies Library, New York City; Claude G. Leland, Superintendent, Bureau of Libraries, Board of Education, New York City; Edward F. Stevens, Librarian, Pratt Institute Free Library, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Franklin K, Mathiews, Chief Scout Librarian. Only such books were chosen by the Commission as proved to be, by a nation wide canvas, most in demand by the boys themselves. Their popularity is further attested by the fact that in the EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY Edition, more than a million and a quarter copies of these books have already been sold.
We know so well, are reminded so often of the worth of the good book and great, that too often we fail to observe or understand the influence for good of a boy's recreational reading. Such books may influence him for good or ill as profoundly as his play activities, of which they are a vital part. The needful thing is to find stories in which the heroes have the characteristics boys so much admire—unquenchable courage, immense resourcefulness, absolute fidelity, conspicuous greatness. We believe the books of EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY measurably well meet this challenge.
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA,
James E. West Chief Scout Executive.
I. THE WOLF PATROL ELECTS II. THE FIRST CLASH III. TIM STANDS BY IV. DANGER MOUNTAIN V. A PLEA ON THE ROAD VI. SPROUTING SEEDS VII. CROSS CURRENTS VIII. DON'S CHOICE IX. THE FIGHT IN THE WOODS X. GOOD LUCK AND BAD XI. CLOSE QUARTERS XII. OUT OF THE WOODS
DON STRONG, PATROL LEADER
THE WOLF PATROL ELECTS
A baseball rose gracefully in the air, carried on a way, and dropped. Three scouts back from a hike halted under the maple tree that bordered the village field, and unslung their haversacks.
"Gee!" cried Fred Ritter. "Did you see Ted Carter make that catch?"
"And did you see Tim Lally get that one?" demanded Wally Woods.
Andy Ford grinned. "Ted's the boy to keep them working. Chester will have a real town team this year."
"You bet." Ritter unscrewed the top of his canteen. "Anyway, Ted and Tim are about the whole team."
"Hold on there," Andy protested. "Where do you leave Don Strong?"
"It's Tim's catching that makes him a pitcher," Ritter answered seriously.
"Who says so?"
"Why, Tim says so."
"O—h!" Andy began to laugh. "And you swallowed that?"
"Sure," said Ritter. "A catcher ought to know just how good a pitcher he is. Tim says—"
But what Tim said was not told just then. A small, wiry boy steered his bicycle up on the sidewalk and pedaled toward the tree.
"Hey, fellows!" he shouted. "Did you hear the latest? Mr. Wall is going to give a cup to the best patrol and Phil Morris is moving to Chicago."
The three scouts surrounded the bicycle.
"Who told you about the cup?" Andy Ford demanded.
"Mr. Wall told me," Bobbie Brown answered. "It's a contest, with points for everything—attendance at meeting, neatness, obeying orders, all that. There's going to be a contest every month, and at the end of three months a big scout game for points. Isn't that swell?"
Three heads nodded. Ritter plucked at Bobbie's sleeve.
"How do you know Phil Morris is moving?"
"Mr. Wall told me that, too."
"Then the Wolf patrol elects a new leader," said Ritter. He glanced out toward where Tim Lally was catching.
Andy's eyes puckered, and a swift change came over Bobbie Brown's face.
The practice ended. Tim came across the grass with a big mitt under his arm. Ritter and Wally went forward to meet him.
"Tim won't get my vote," said Bobbie. "The patrol leader ought to be a fellow who's up in things, like Don, or Alex Davidson, or you—"
"Don and Alex have it all over me," said Andy.
They watched the field. Tim was walking now with Ritter and Wally. Bobbie reached a foot for the nearest pedal.
"Guess I'll ride along," he said. As he turned the corner he glanced back across his shoulder. Tim and Ritter and Wally were talking to Andy.
Bobbie rode faster. Presently he came in sight of a house with a white-washed fence in front and a sign rising above the lawn grass:
ROBERT STRONG & SON CARPENTERS AND JOINERS WINDOW SCREENS AND SCREEN DOORS BIRD-HOUSES
A boy who whistled as he worked was tacking wire to a door frame.
Bobbie opened the gate and pushed through with his bicycle. The whistling boy glanced up.
"Hello, Don. Phil Morris is moving to Chicago."
"To Chi—" Don Strong paused with his tack hammer raised. "That means a new patrol leader, doesn't it?" The hammer fell and the work went on.
"Tim Lally wants it," said Bobbie.
A thoughtful expression came to Don's face. He went on tacking the wire until it was all tight and snug. Still thoughtful, he cut the molding and nailed it fast. From under one of the two wooden horses on which the door lay, he took a can of green paint.
"Tim wouldn't make a good patrol leader, would he, Don?"
"Easy, there," Don warned.
Bobbie flushed. "Well, he always wants to boss things and you know it."
Don said nothing.
"Doesn't he?" Bobbie insisted.
Don dodged the question and demanded that Bobbie show him how he was progressing with his semaphore. Bobbie retreated to the fence and sent the message that was given him.
"Was that right, Don?" he asked eagerly.
"Right," said Don. He was on the point of sending the boy off with another message when the gate clicked. Tim Lally advanced as though he had important business on his mind.
"Hello," said Tim, and rubbed his fingers across the door. "Gee! Why didn't you tell me the paint was wet? Give it a rub or two; that will fix it up again. Did you hear about Phil Morris?"
"I guess I'll take a crack at being patrol leader," said Tim.
Bobbie looked up quickly. Don stood the door aside to dry, went down to his father's basement workshop and came up with another frame.
"I guess I'll take a crack at being patrol leader," Tim repeated. "I have two votes already, Ritter and Wally Woods. My own, of course, is three. All I need is another. Now, how about you fellows?"
"I'm going to vote for Alex Davidson," said Don.
Bobbie scarcely breathed. A spot of red flamed in each of Tim's cheeks.
"What's the matter with me?" he demanded. "Don't you think I'm good enough?" He swung around. "How about you, Bobbie?"
Bobbie swallowed hard. "Why, Tim, I—I—I—"
"Well, how about it?"
Bobbie looked appealingly at Don. Don laid down the tack hammer.
"Is that fair, Tim?" he asked quietly.
"Why isn't it?" Tim bristled.
And yet, after a moment, his eyes fell. He knew what Don meant. Bobbie was the "baby" of the troop, the smallest and the youngest scout. He walked out of the yard and slammed the gate defiantly.
"I'll get it without you," he called over the fence.
Don didn't do any more whistling that day. And after supper, as he heard the details of the contest for the Scoutmaster's Cup, the concerned look on his face deepened.
The patrol leader, he thought, should be a fellow who was heart and soul in scouting—a fellow who could encourage, and urge, and lend a willing hand; not a fellow who wanted to drive and show authority. If Tim, with his temper and his eagerness to come to blows, should take command—Don shook his head. Why did Phil Morris have to move away?
All next morning he built bird-houses. He had developed quite a business with Audubon societies and it took a lot of work to keep up with his orders. After dinner he trudged off to the village field. Tim greeted him as though nothing had happened.
Don was delighted at this turn of affairs. When the work ended and he saw Tim following his steps he waited.
"You can vote for me now," Tim said confidently. "I saw Alex today. He won't have time to be patrol leader. He goes to work for the Union grocery store next Monday."
Don felt that everything had been turned upside down. So this was why the other boy had been so friendly! Of course, he could go home and let Tim think that the vote was his. But that would be cowardice. That would not be a scout's way of meeting the situation.
"I'm going to vote for somebody else," he said uneasily.
Tim's good humor vanished. "You are?"
Don nodded. "You're too hot-tempered," he said. "You always get things stewed up. You—"
"I don't see any wings on you or Alex," Tim cried wrathfully. "What kind of a game is this?"
Don said nothing. What was the use, he thought. He walked on; and after a moment Tim stood still and let him go his way.
Next morning a letter came from the Scout Scribe announcing the terms of the contest for the Scoutmaster's Cup. The competition would start at Friday night's meeting. For each scout present a patrol would be awarded a point, while for each scout absent it would lose a point. Another point would be lost for each scout who came to meeting with buttons off his uniform, or with scout pin missing, or with hair uncombed, or shoes muddy. Any patrol that did not live up to its orders from the Scoutmaster would be penalized from five to ten points. At the end of the first month there would be a contest in advanced first aid, and points would be awarded to the patrols that came in first and second.
Don read the letter twice and sat on one of the wooden horses and stared at the ground. His sister Barbara, anxious to show a berry cake, had to call to him three times before he heard her.
"What's the matter, Don?" she asked.
"Tim Lally wants to be patrol leader," he answered.
"Oh!" Barbara gave him a quick, understanding look.
Tim did not have a word to say to him that afternoon. Next day he worked steadily helping his father on a rush order and did not get to the field at all. When the work was done, he went upstairs and washed, dressed in his scout uniform and came down to the dining-room.
Barbara came in from the kitchen to set the table. "Hungry?" she asked. Then, after a moment: "Isn't Tim your catcher on the town team?"
Barbara put her head close to his. "Scouting isn't all fun, is it?"
"It wouldn't be worth shucks if it was," Don said stoutly. And yet, as he walked toward troop headquarters after supper, his steps were slow.
The command "Attention," came from Mr. Wall's lips as he entered the meeting place. He hurriedly joined his patrol. The color guard and the troop bugler stepped to the front, and the brassy notes of "To the Colors" rose and fell. Standing stiffly at salute, the troop pledged allegiance to the flag, and repeated the scout oath. The bugler stepped back to the ranks.
Slowly Mr. Wall made his tour of inspection. When it was finished, the scouts waited breathlessly. For the first time Don noticed a small blackboard nailed against the wall:
Eagle Fox Wolf
"The Eagle patrol," Mr. Wall said, "has one scout absent and two scouts untidy—thirteen points."
The Scout Scribe wrote the points upon the board.
"The Fox patrol, all scouts present and two scouts-untidy—fourteen points. The Wolf patrol a perfect score—sixteen points."
Silence in the patrols.
"Break ranks," the Scoutmaster ordered.
Instantly there was a babel of excited talk. Scouts who had cost their patrols points through untidiness were upbraided by their comrades. Andy caught Don's arm.
"We're off in the lead," he chuckled.
"It's staying in the lead that counts," said Don.
The shrill of Mr. Wall's whistle brought the scouts to attention again.
"Tonight we take up the theory of building a bridge with staves and cords," the Scoutmaster said. "The Fox patrol was to have provided two logs."
The Fox patrol hustled outdoors and returned in a moment with their burden.
The scouts set to work to build a bridge from one log to the other. Mr. Wall walked about, watching but offering no advice. After an hour the bridge was completed.
"Scouts Lally and Davidson," said Mr. Wall, "see if it will hold you."
Tim and Alex stepped out on the structure. It held. A cheer started and died. For the bridge was sagging. Abruptly it gave.
"Ten minutes for examination to see where the fault lies." The Scoutmaster took out his watch. "Next meeting we'll try again."
Ten minutes later the lashings were untied, the staves were back in their wall racks, and the logs were outdoors. Each scout was sure he knew just what was wrong with that bridge and no two scouts agreed.
"Squat!" came the next order.
There was a rush for camp stools piled in a corner. Still grouped by patrols, the scouts faced Mr. Wall.
"The Wolf patrol," he said, "is to select a new leader. So long as Patrol Leader Morris will not serve under his successor, the Council of Patrol Leaders feels that he should not vote in this election. The Scout Scribe will distribute pencils and paper. Each member of the Wolf patrol will write the name of his candidate. When I call his name, he will deposit his ballot, folded, in my hat. The patrol leaders will count the ballots."
Don's throat was dry. When he received his paper and pencil his hand shook. He wrote "Andy Ford" quickly, and folded the paper. He caught a glimpse of Tim sending sharp glances from face to face.
"Assistant Patrol Leader Ford," Mr. Wall called.
Andy went up and dropped his ballot.
Tim voted, came back to his stool and sat biting his lips.
Finally all the votes were in. The patrol leaders carried the hat aside, counted the votes, and came back to Mr. Wall.
"The result is—" The Scoutmaster paused. "Scout Lally, three votes; Scout Strong, three votes; Assistant Patrol Leader Ford, one vote. As no candidate has received a majority, another ballot is necessary."
Don wondered if he had heard the Scoutmaster correctly. Three votes for him? He saw Tim eye him with dark suspicion. Andy's voice sounded in his ear:
"Did you vote for me?"
"Well, cut it out. Next time vote for yourself."
Don shook his head slowly. This thing of voting for himself did not appeal.
"If you vote for me," Andy said sharply, "this will be a tie until the cows come home. Don't be a chump. Tim is voting for himself."
Still Don was undecided. Besides, he could not get over the wonder of finding himself with three votes.
"How about a man who runs for president of the United States?" Andy insisted. "Do you think he votes for his opponent?"
"We are ready to ballot again," said Mr. Wall.
"Wake up," said Andy.
Don did not know what to do. There was no use in voting for Andy. Alex would not take the place and Bobbie Brown was altogether too young a scout. What should he do?
"Assistant Patrol Leader Ford," called the Scoutmaster.
Don, in desperation, wrote his own name.
This time, when the patrol leaders brought Mr. Wall the result, they put the hat out of the way, and the troop knew that it would not be needed again.
"Scout Lally," Mr. Wall read, "three votes; Scout Strong, four votes, Scout Strong is elected patrol leader of the Wolves."
Five minutes later the meeting was over. Don had been formally saluted by the Foxes and the Bears, and a patrol leader's stripes had been pinned, temporarily, to his sleeve. Flushed and excited, and still amazed at the turn fortune had taken, he faced about to where his own patrol was gathered. All at once the flush died out of his cheeks.
"When I asked Bobbie for his vote," said Tim, "it wasn't fair. But you could ask the fellows, couldn't you?"
"I didn't ask anybody," said Don.
Tim laughed. "When do you think I was born—yesterday? How did you get the votes if you didn't ask for them? We'll see about this."
He walked out of headquarters. Ritter and Wally Woods whispered together, looked at Don, and seemed unable to make up their minds. Finally they edged their way toward the door.
There was work for Don to do—checking up what property the Wolf patrol owned and signing that he received it in good condition. But all joy was gone from the honor that had come to him. The Wolves were divided among themselves! What chance would they have for the Scoutmaster's Cup?
THE FIRST CLASH
Barbara and Mr. Strong were sitting on the porch when Don reached home. He reclined on the top step and fanned himself with his hat.
"Was Tim elected?" Barbara asked.
"No," said Don; "I was."
"Don!" The girl sprang to her feet. "Isn't that fine! We must celebrate with a piece of berry cake—"
But Don said gloomily that he did not feel like celebrating. He told about having won through the aid of his own ballot.
Barbara, concerned, looked at her father. "Was it wrong for Don to vote for himself?"
"Not at all," said Mr. Strong. "A candidate always votes for himself on a secret ballot."
Don felt a load leave his heart. He decided that perhaps he would like some berry cake. While he ate he told himself that there was no sense in worrying about Tim. Tim might get over his disappointment and not make a bit of trouble.
Next morning, while he built bird-houses, his mind was busy with eager plans for his patrol. The first-aid contest would really be a test of skill. With the exception of Bobbie Brown and Wally Woods, every member of the Wolves was a first-class scout. They knew the theory of their first aid. The thing to do was to make them freshen up in the actual work of doing.
"We'll have to get on the job at once," Don told himself. "I'll call a patrol meeting for Monday night. If Bobbie comes around—"
Bobbie rode up to the gate. "Hello, Don."
"Hello, Bobbie. I was just hoping you'd show up. Take a scout message for me?"
"Sure!" The boy held on to the palings of the fence and did not dismount.
"Pass the word that there'll be a patrol meeting at my house Monday night."
Bobbie rode away as though the message had to be delivered within the next five minutes. Don smiled, and then grew thoughtful. Wouldn't it be fine if all scouts were as keen and as alert as that?
Tim did not come to the field that afternoon. On the way home Don met Mr. Wall.
"Well," the Scoutmaster smiled, "how's the new patrol leader?"
"All right, sir."
"Think you're going to like it?"
"It has its hard spots," Mr. Wall said seriously, "just like any other job. It isn't all milk and honey. There are lots of things you could do when you were a scout that you cannot do now. Not that they are exactly forbidden by the scout laws. They're forbidden by you, yourself. Do you understand?"
The boy nodded soberly. "I think so. You mean that when I was a plain scout I could skylark and cut up a bit, but that now I must be out in front setting the pace. I can't ask any of the fellows to be what I am not myself."
"Exactly. And there's another thing. Don't get discouraged when your plans go wrong. Get your grip and hold on. Scouts are only human. They're not angels."
"I mean that. Scouting wasn't made for angels. It was made for everybody, fellows like you and me. And just because we're not angels, we sometimes kick things around and don't seem to play fair. When that happens—"
"Yes, sir?" said Don.
"That's the time we need scouting most," Mr. Wall said gravely.
It seemed to Don that the Scoutmaster was giving him a warning. But though he puzzled his head and wondered, he could not fathom what Mr. Wall might mean.
He told Barbara and his mother about Monday night's meeting and said that he would take the scouts up to his room out of the way. Barbara told him indignantly that he would do nothing of the kind. The scouts would meet, she announced, in the cool dining-room.
Monday, as soon as supper was over, she began to prepare for the coming of the patrol. Don wanted to help, but she routed him from the place. He went out to the porch and sat there in the gathering darkness. A vague sense of uneasiness stole over him.
Presently Bobbie Brown rode up and left his bicycle inside the gate. Soon he was followed by Alex Davidson and Andy Ford. Then came a long wait. At length two figures loomed in the dusk.
"Who's there?" Don called eagerly.
"Ritter and Woods," came the answer.
Don suddenly knew the cause of that vague uneasiness. The meeting had been called for eight o'clock, and it was now five minutes after, and there was no sign of Tim.
But none of the others seemed to think of the missing scout. Alex was bubbling over with the wonder of his first day in business. He told of how many orders he had delivered, and how much money he had collected, and how careful he had to be in making change. Don listened nervously. By and by he struck a match and glanced at his watch.
"Quarter past eight," he said.
"How about starting?" said Andy.
Don led the patrol indoors. The dining-room lamp shed a soft glow over the table. Chairs were drawn up, and at each place was a sharpened pencil and a few sheets of paper.
"I'll bet Barbara thought of that," said Andy,
At any other time praise of Barbara would have brought a quick smile to Don's face. Now, however, he sat down soberly and gave the order to call the roll. Andy cleared his throat.
"Patrol Leader Strong."
"Here," said Don.
"Assistant Patrol Leader Ford. No doubt about me being here."
"Here," said Alex.
All at once an uneasy feeling crept around the table. Alex forgot his business adventures of the day and glanced quickly from face to face.
"Tim may come later," he said.
Don looked at Bobbie. "Did you tell him?"
"What did he say?"
Every scout knew at once that Tim had said something. Don shut his lips tightly.
"I guess Tim forgot," Andy suggested.
Don grasped at this straw. Not that he believed it, for he didn't; but it gave him a chance to ease the tension. He forced a smile and said that Tim might come bolting in at the last minute. The moment the roll call was completed, he turned the talk to the Scoutmaster's Cup. He didn't want to give the scouts a chance to sit there and think.
"We're in the lead now," he said, "and it's up to us to stay there. It will be easy if every fellow will do his part. Attend every meeting and come ready for inspection. When Mr. Wall gives us a job to do as a patrol, let us dig in and do it right. And let us work hard so that we'll stand a good chance of winning the monthly contests."
"The first contest is easy," said Ritter. "We all know our first aid."
"We know it," said Don. "But can we do it? That's what counts."
"It's like riding a bicycle," Ritter argued. "You never forget."
Don had not expected anything like this. He didn't want the patrol to be cocksure—he wanted it to work. But there would be small chance of work if each scout was going to think that practice was unnecessary.
"Wait until I get some bandages," he said. He ran up to his room and came down with a little white roll. Ritter smiled confidently.
"Let's see you make a spiral reverse bandage," Don invited.
Ritter took the bandage and went to work on Alex's arm. Presently, after having gone half way to the elbow, he flushed and pulled the bandage off.
"It's sloppy," he said. "I see your point. I need practice."
"We all need practice," said Don. There were no further objections to hard work. The talk became eager as details were planned. The patrol would practice Wednesday afternoon at troop headquarters. Don would work with Ritter on splints, and Tim and Andy and Bobbie would form a team for artificial respiration, fireman's lift and stretcher work. Wally and Alex would practice straight bandaging at night after Alex had finished his labors at the Union grocery store.
Bobbie accepted the arrangement in silence. As the meeting broke up and the scouts crowded into the hall, he pulled at Don's sleeve.
"Must I work with Tim?" he asked.
"Tim's strong and you're light," Don explained. "You can be handled easily on the fireman's lift and stretcher work."
Bobbie wet his lips and seemed to want to say something more. Abruptly, though, he turned away and followed the others out to the porch.
"How about Tim?" Ritter asked. "Shall I tell him about Wednesday?"
Conversation stopped. The feeling of tension came back.
"I'll see him at the field tomorrow," said Don. "I'll tell him myself."
Alex looked at him sharply, and the look said as plainly as words, "Going to make him toe the mark?"
Don lingered on the porch until the last footstep had died away in the distance. Then he went up to his room and stared out of the window. Thunder! Why couldn't Tim stick to his patrol and play fair, and not spoil all the fun?
He had an uneasy feeling about the morrow's interview. Once he had heard Mr. Wall say that there is something wrong when a patrol leader and his scouts live at loggerheads. He did not want to start wrong, he did not want to quarrel. But what could he do if a scout made up his mind to stay away from meetings and be nasty?
A dozen times he tried to picture what he would say to Tim and what Tim would say to him. At last, with an impatient shrug of his shoulders, he began to undress for bed.
"Tim may be as nice as pie," he muttered. "He may not say a word."
Which was exactly what happened. Tim listened in silence to a report of what the patrol meeting had decided, nodded shortly when told of Wednesday's practice, and then moved off a few steps and called for the ball.
Don found himself, all at once, wishing that this refractory scout had spoken his mind. As things stood now he did not know what to expect. Tim might come to the practice, or he might stay away.
Twice, that afternoon, he walked toward the other boy, resolved to ask him point blank what he intended to do. Twice he paused and turned away. Perhaps it might be bad to let Tim see that he was worried.
Wednesday he was the first scout to reach troop headquarters. Inside, on the wall, was the slate:
Eagle 13 Fox 14 Wolf 16
Don stared at the sign a long time. What an honor it would be to win! Not the mere honor of getting a prize—he didn't mean that. But the honor of being the best scouts in the troop, the honor of achievement, the honor of something well done.
He heard a noise at the door. It was Andy Ford.
"Any trouble with Tim?" Andy asked at once.
Don shook his head.
"Did you tell him? What did he say?"
Andy puckered his eyes. "What's the matter with Tim, anyway? Is he going to grouch just because he wasn't elected patrol leader? He has the makings of a good scout."
There was the sound of a step outside.
"Sssh!" Don said softly.
Tim put his head in through the doorway. "Are we the only fellows here?" he demanded. "I want to get to the field and do some ball playing."
Don said that Ritter and Bobbie would be along any minute. Tim came in and sauntered around the room. He banged his mitt against the scout staves in the racks and seemed to find pleasure in the noise. Finally he brought up in front of the slate.
"Think we can stick in the lead?" Andy asked.
"Cinch!" said Tim. "What other patrol has anything on us?"
"It means work," said Don. "If we practice once or twice every week—"
"Once or twice?" Tim cried. "Gee! Have a heart. Isn't that rubbing it in?"
"We've got to be perfect," Andy said quickly, "and we're depending on you for the big stuff."
"What big stuff?" Tim asked.
"Stretcher work, fireman's lift, artificial respiration. The hard stuff, Tim."
"Oh well—" The praise seemed to have soothed Tim's feelings. "Maybe I could find time."
Andy winked. Don walked to the door. Was that the way to handle this hot-tempered scout—humor him a bit, praise him a little, give him the important assignments?
"Here come Bobbie and Ritter," said Andy.
The two scouts arrived, somewhat breathless from running, and the work started. Don took splints and bandages from the troop's medicine chest. Tim and Andy fashioned a stretcher from staves and coats.
"Try it again," said Tim. "Too slow."
"Let Bobbie button as soon as the first coat goes on," said Andy.
"Let Bobbie keep out of the way," said Tim.
Don looked up quickly. However, the work seemed to be going on satisfactorily. He brought his attention back to the splint he was adjusting.
After that, from time to time, he walked over to see how Tim and Andy and Bobbie were making out. Twice he thought that Andy frowned at him and gave a cautious movement with his head.
"Ouch!" Bobbie cried toward the finish. "You're hurting, Tim."
"You can't help hurting a fellow a little on artificial respiration," Tim answered gruffly.
Don frowned. Had Andy been signaling to him? Had something been going on over there?
When the work ended the staves and the splints and the bandages were put away. Tim mopped his face and breathed heavily. Bobbie Brown edged over toward the farthest window.
"How about another session Friday?" Don asked.
"Can't," said Tim. "Saturday we play our first game. Ted Carter wants everybody out for practice Friday afternoon. He told me to tell you."
"Well—" For the moment Don wasn't interested in baseball. "How about Monday?"
Monday, it appeared, would be all right. Tim put on his coat and walked toward the door.
"You're forgetting your mitt," Don called.
"I'm not going to the field," said Tim.
There was something peculiar in the way he said it. Don looked inquiringly at Andy. The assistant patrol leader nodded toward the window.
"Anything wrong, Bobbie?" Don asked.
Bobbie gave a start, and smiled and shook his head. "Guess I'll go along," he said; but he made no move to leave the place.
Something was wrong. Andy sauntered down to the door, peered at the woodwork as though examining it, scratched with his finger-nail, and then began to tap with his knuckle.
Don wrinkled his forehead. Why did Andy tap like that—two taps, pause, another tap—over and over again? Suddenly he understood. Andy was sending him a message in Morse, and the first letter was C. He looked up, caught Andy's eye, and nodded. The tapping went on.
"O," whispered Don.
A pause, longer than the other. The tapping began again.
".. ..— ... .. -.. ."
"Come outside," Don muttered. He strolled toward the door.
The moment he passed out of troop headquarters, Andy caught his arm.
"Did you see Tim roughing Bobbie all afternoon?"
"Hurting him?" Don asked quickly.
"Not really hurting him, but pulling his hair, and twisting his ears, and things like that. Bobbie's frightened. It's going to spoil all our first aid."
Don's mouth twitched. He had congratulated himself that the work had gone so well. And all the while trouble had been lurking at his elbow. He walked back into troop headquarters with his head bent. If one scout was going to nag another there would be no harmony, no pulling together, no striving toward a common goal. It would be good-by to the Wolf patrol so far as the Scoutmaster's Cup was concerned.
He paused in front of the slate. What should he do? If he went to Tim and told him plump and plain to cut it out, there might be a ruction. If he allowed the nagging to go on, there would be tension and unrest within the patrol. No matter which way he turned, disorder and adversity loomed.
He walked to the window where Bobbie stood. Suddenly he stiffened.
"Isn't that Tim down the road—that fellow leaning against the fence?"
Bobbie nodded nervously.
Don drew a deep breath. He knew what was happening. Tim was waiting to continue his plaguing.
"I—I guess I'll go," said Bobbie again.
"Wait," said Don. "I'm going down that way."
There was no help for it. He had no choice. He couldn't let Bobbie go out and get his hair pulled and his ears twisted. He'd have to see him past the danger.
There was vast relief on Bobbie's face as they came out of troop headquarters. But Don's face was grave.
It took but a minute to walk down the road to the fence. Bobbie's steps unconsciously became slower. He edged out toward the curb. Tim saw him and instantly became alert.
"Here, now," he called; "don't try to dodge past. Come over here and—"
"Hello, Tim," said Don.
Tim stopped short. His eyes darkened suspiciously, as though he suspected that Don was acting as guardian. For a moment he seemed to be debating what he should do; and while he paused, Bobbie edged past.
"Don't forget Monday," said Don. He wanted to shift the other boy's thoughts.
"I may be busy Monday," Tim answered scowlingly. He took a step after Bobbie, but found the patrol leader in his way and stopped short.
Don continued on down the road. He knew that Tim was aware why he had walked with Bobbie, and he knew that Tim resented it. After all, what had he gained? He couldn't be with Bobbie always. If Tim wanted to plague, he could catch the little scout alone almost any day.
Abruptly Don swung around and went back. Tim, seeing him coming, set his feet farther apart. It was a fighting pose. Don's heart fluttered.
"Look here, Tim," he said; "what's the use of stewing around this way? Why can't we all pull together?"
"Did I do anything to you?" Tim asked.
"No, but—What's the use of tormenting Bobbie?"
"Gee! Are you the keeper of the whole patrol?"
Don bit his lips. The talk wasn't going at all the way he wanted.
"We've got to work together," he said, "or we won't have a chance for the cup."
"Don't you worry about me," Tim said airily. "I'll do my share. Didn't I show up for practice today?"
"Well, what more do you want?"
Don hesitated. Tim began to grin. He walked back to the fence and leaned there carelessly.
"It—it's going to muss the practice if you tease Bobbie," Don said slowly. "He'll be edging away from you, not knowing what moment you'll twig him, and it will spoil the work. You can't give him a good fireman's lift if he's hanging back."
"What are you doing," Tim demanded, "asking me to let up on him or telling me?"
"I'm asking you," Don said slowly.
"Oh! Well, that's all right." Tim's grin grew broader. "I won't bother him."
All the way home Don was haunted by that grin. He knew what it meant. Tim thought he had started back to lay down the law and had wilted. Tim thought he was afraid.
Don swallowed a lump in his throat. There was no use in trying to disguise the truth. Deep in his heart he didn't know whether he was or not.
TIM STANDS BY
It was a very quiet Don who sat down to supper that night. He had the uncomfortable conviction that he had blundered. Having started to see Bobbie past trouble, he should have seen him past with quiet firmness. It had been a mistake to try to bargain.
Regrets, though, would do him no good. What was past was past. It was the future that troubled him the most.
Tim, he was sure, would now carry a chip on his shoulder. And if he tried to make him keep step with the other scouts of the patrol, and if Tim did not want to keep step—
"You're not eating, Don," said Barbara.
He came to himself with a start, smiled sheepishly, and gave thought to his supper. But for the rest of the meal he could see Barbara watching him. There was also a concerned look in the eyes of his sister Beth.
Why had he gone back that time? And having gone back, why had he not told Tim, bluntly and plainly, that he would have to let Bobbie alone? Had there been a clash of wills, it would all be over with now. Instead, the time of decision had been put off. It might come any day. And because he had hesitated to meet it once, it would be all the harder to meet it in the future.
"I don't think Don is hungry," said Beth.
He came to himself with a start and found that he was again staring fixedly at his plate. He was glad when the meal came to an end.
He went up to his room. There were two letters he ought to write to Audubon societies that had ordered bird-houses. But, though he drew out paper and ink and envelopes, he could not concentrate his thoughts on what he had to say. At last he went downstairs and sat on the porch.
He was discouraged. Under Phil Morris, the Wolf patrol had been strong and vigorous. Phil had refused to stand for any nonsense.
"I guess—I guess I haven't the spunk Phil had," Don told himself.
In the kitchen the sounds of dish-washing ceased. Presently Barbara came out on the porch. The chair in which he sat was wide. She touched his arm.
"Push over, Don."
He made room for her.
"Well," she asked, "what's the scout trouble now?"
He could always talk to Barbara as though she were an older brother. Now he told her about his meeting with Tim, and of the sorry way he had handled himself.
"And now," he ended, "Tim will think I'm scared of him and that he can do just as he pleases."
"Will he think that?" Barbara asked.
"Well, won't he?"
The girl did not answer. After a moment she asked:
"How about good turns, Don? Does Tim do any?"
"Of course he does. Isn't he a scout?"
"What kind of good turns?"
"Well—" Don thought. "Remember last winter when Mr. Blair was sick?"
"Tim looked after their furnace three times a day."
"Don," Barbara said, "don't you think he's all right at heart if he does acts like that?"
Don stared. This was putting things in a new light. Then he thought of Tim riding rough-shod, and tormenting Bobbie, and wanting his own way in everything.
"Maybe Tim's all right at heart," he said dubiously, "but he's always making trouble just the same. I'm not going to let him stew up my patrol. I'll go to Mr. Wall—"
The sharp note of disappointment in Barbara's voice sent the blood into his cheeks.
"Stand on your own feet," she said. "What would Mr. Wall think of you? Did the old-time scouts like Daniel Boone go running for help every time they found themselves in trouble?"
The boy did not answer. There was a long silence. Barbara touched his arm.
"No. I—I guess I'll fight my own way," he said.
Somehow, that determination seemed to lighten his worries. He went upstairs and wrote his letters. Afterward he picked up his Handbook and idly turned the pages. Presently his eyes fell on the tenth law:
"He has the courage to face danger in spite of fear ... and defeat does not down him." Next he read the fourth law, "He is a friend to all and a brother to every other scout." And then he closed the book and for a long time stared straight ahead.
Friday brought a busy day—bird-houses all morning, baseball practice in the afternoon, and a troop meeting at night.
During the morning, as Don planed, and sawed, and hammered, he whistled a gay air. But after dinner, as the time for baseball practice approached, the whistle became subdued and at last stopped.
Up to now he had pitched against high-school boys, lads of his own age. Tomorrow, though, he was to face a town team with its older, more experienced players. He wondered if he would be able to make good. And he wondered, just a little, how he and Tim would work together.
He might have saved himself the worry of wondering about Tim, for that afternoon's practice gave no time for anything save work. Ted Carter drove the players with a high-strung, nervous vim. He seemed to find time for everything—first a signal drill, then fielding, then sliding into bases.
Don was kept on the jump. As soon as his arm was warm and limber Ted hustled him to the mound, and for fifteen minutes he stood there and threw to bases as signals were flashed to him. Then Ted gave him ten minutes of fielding bunts. By that time the sweat was running down his face and his breath was coming hard.
"Get into a sweater," Ted ordered. "I'll want you back here in ten minutes. Now, Tim, I'm going to let some of the fellows steal bases. Let's see you throw them out."
Don was glad of the respite. He retired beyond the foul lines and watched. There was no doubt but that Tim knew his job. Short and stocky and agile, he seemed made in a catcher's mold. He could reach second base with a forearm throw while squatting on his heels, and a snap of the wrist was enough to send the ball to first or to third.
"He's got an awfully strong arm," said Don to himself.
"All right, Don," called Ted.
He shed his sweater and went back to the mound. One by one the batters were called in to hit against him. He watched for Tim's signals, and tried to put the ball where Tim wanted it. The batters hit him freely.
When the practice ended he was worried. If older players could hit him like that—
"Forget it," said Ted. "Fielding bunts for ten minutes took a lot of your sap. You'll go in fresh tomorrow. Isn't that right, Tim?"
"Sure," said the catcher.
"And another thing," said the captain. "Toward the end there you were shaking your head to Tim's signals and pitching what you wanted. None of that tomorrow. Let Tim judge the batters. This is his second year against town teams; he knows their game better than you."
Tim swelled out his chest and swaggered.
"All right," said Don. If Ted thought nothing of the way he had been batted, why, everything must be all right. He walked home gayly.
"Scout meeting tonight?" his father asked.
"Yes, sir," said Don, and ran upstairs to dress. He wondered if the Wolf patrol would get another perfect score. He paused in the act of brushing his hair. A thought that he could not push aside popped into his brain. Would Tim come spick and span?
Tim, Andy, Alex and Ritter were at headquarters when he arrived, and Tim was as clean as any.
"We've been inspecting each other," Andy laughed. "Look at those fellows over there."
The Fox patrol had a box of blacking and a brush, and two scouts were polishing their shoes. The Eagles had a needle and thread, and one scout, under the watchful eye of his patrol leader, was sewing on a button.
"This is going to be a fight," Andy went on. "Those scouts are in earnest."
"That's the way for a scout to be," said Don. The prospect of a struggle sent a sparkle into his eyes. "We'll have to do that."
"Needles and thread and shoe-brushes?" Tim demanded.
"Not for me," said Tim. "I'm no kid. Nobody has to tell me to clean myself."
Don said nothing. Why, he wondered, did Tim seem to take such a delight in going against everybody else? He was sure now that what Barbara said was right. Tim was sound at heart. Look how clean he came to tonight's meeting. And yet—
"Going to get needles and thread and things?" Andy whispered.
Don nodded. Oh, yes; he'd get them. What was the use of letting the other patrols prepare for the unexpected and doing nothing yourself?
The Scoutmaster's whistle called the patrols to attention. Don gave a quick glance as his patrol took its station. His heart sank. Bobbie Brown was not in place.
Mr. Wall walked down the line of scouts. He was halfway through inspection when Bobbie burst into the room. He checked himself when he saw what was going on, came to salute, and quietly tiptoed to his place. But his face was flushed from running, and his hair was awry.
Don hoped Bobbie might be able to make himself presentable before Mr. Wall got that far. Then common sense told him that that was impossible. The troop was at attention. Bobbie could not lift a hand even to touch his hair. He had to stand there stiffly as he was.
The inspection came to an end, Mr. Wall faced the waiting lines. Don held his breath. Would the Wolf patrol—
"Fox patrol," Mr. Wall announced, "a perfect score. Eagle patrol, all present, all clean, but one scout talking in ranks, one-half point off. Wolf patrol, one scout untidy, one scout late, one and one-half points off."
A moment later the lines were broken. Tim turned to the unhappy Bobbie.
"See what a fine fix you got us in!" he demanded angrily.
"I couldn't help it," Bobbie explained. "My mother didn't know she was out of sugar, and the man in the store had to open a new barrel, and he couldn't find his hatchet, and I had to wait."
"You should have gone for the sugar this afternoon," Tim insisted. "The rest of us take the trouble to come here right and then you spoil things."
"I couldn't help it," Bobbie said miserably. "I—"
"It's all right, Bobbie," said Don. "Don't let it happen again." He was disappointed, but what was the use of jumping on a scout who was trying to do right?
"What's the use of me slicking up," Tim scowled, "if other fellows are going to do as they please?"
The scout scribe walked toward the slate. Instantly Bobbie and his lapse were forgotten. Every eye in the room watched while the scribe rubbed out and wrote. Soon he stepped away from the slate. There was the new standing:
PATROL POINTS Eagle 28-1/2 Fox 30 Wolf 30-1/2
The Wolves were still in the lead, but Don did not feel the least like cheering. For the next hour, while the troop worked at signaling, and map-reading, and advanced knot-tying, he did his part and forgot to be despondent. He even brightened when the logs were brought in and the theory of bridge building was applied. But when the bridge was done—this time it held—he lost interest.
"The Wolf patrol—" he heard Mr. Wall say.
He roused himself and listened.
"The Wolf patrol has the assignment of having headquarters clean for the next meeting," the Scoutmaster announced.
The session was over. Don told his patrol not to forget Monday's practice and walked out alone. He had gone but a short distance when running footsteps sounded in his rear.
"Don!" It was Bobbie. "I'm sorry—"
The patrol leader forced a smile. "You only lost us a point and a half, Bobbie. Maybe you'll get that back in the first aid contest."
Bobbie's mouth tightened. "It won't be because I'm not trying," he said; and Don went home telling himself that he knew one scout the Wolf patrol could count on through thick and thin.
Next morning he tried to build bird-houses, but for once he could find no pleasure in the work. His thoughts were turned on the afternoon. The Glenrock team had a reputation as hitters, and he wondered, in spite of what Ted had said, whether he would be able to hold his own.
When Ted had asked him to pitch for the Chester town team, he had protested that he was only a high school player. Ted, however, had told him earnestly that many town team pitchers were no better. Besides, wouldn't it be fine experience to pitch against stronger batters? Weeks ago that argument had won, but now Don made a wry face.
"Fine lot of experience it will be if they knock me out of the box," he said.
The game had been well advertised. The Chester Chronicle had carried a story, and notices had been chalked on the bulletin board at the railroad station. Don was sure that there would be quite a crowd.
Nor was he mistaken. Early as it was when he came to the field, spectators were already gathering. Ted, a seasoned veteran, was calm and undisturbed, but there was a noticeable tension among most of the other players. Don sat on the rough bench and waited for the signal to warm up.
Presently the Glenrock players arrived. He looked at them closely and his nerves jumped. Gosh! didn't they look big! And what big black bats!
"All right, Don," said Ted. "Warm up. Take it easy. These fellows can strike out and pop up flies just as easily as anybody else."
Don tried to smile as he took his place. By this time a solid wall of spectators ran along the base-lines and down toward the foul flags. There was another gathering under the maple tree; and out in deep center a third group lounged on the grass and waited for the call of "Play ball!"
Don began to throw. His first few pitches went wide, and Tim glanced at him sharply. The catcher was almost as cool as Ted, and to show his calmness, he began to toss the ball into the air as he caught it and then catch it again in his bare hand as it came down.
As soon as his arm felt right, Don tried out his curves. His drop, his best ball, worked nicely, but his in-curve and his out-curve were only fair. He kept trying them, and became worried, and went back to his drop and found that he had lost his control of this curve, too. What was the matter? Was he getting stage fright?
"That's enough," called Ted.
He walked toward the bench. Tim hurried to his side.
"Scared?" the catcher asked.
"Gee!" said Tim. "I thought you had more nerve than that. Just go out there and stick it over. You don't see me getting rattled."
"You don't have to serve the ball," said Don.
"No," said Tim; "but I'm the fellow who has to decide what balls they get. I guess that's some responsibility. You pitch the way I tell you to and we'll be all right."
Glenrock was still practicing in the field. Don sat on the bench and watched. They handled the ball well, but not any better than Chester. If their hitting had been overrated—
"They're through," said Ted. "Come on, Don. Don't get excited now. Watch Tim's signals and give him what he signals for. We're in back of you."
"That's what I've been telling him," said Tim.
A minute later Don faced the first batter. Tim squatted, rose up on his toes, stuck his mitt between his legs, laid a finger on the mitt, and then spread his hands wide.
"Come on, Don," he called. "Easy-picking here; easy picking. Put it right over."
Tim had signaled for the drop. Don swallowed a lump in his throat. Would the ball break true? Would this broad-shouldered young man who stood so confidently at the plate hammer it a mile?
"Come on, now," cried Tim.
Don pitched. The batter swung and missed.
"Easy picking," chanted Tim. "He couldn't hit it with a fence post. Come on, now."
The second signal was for an in. Don pitched. The batter tightened his muscles to swing, changed his mind, and allowed his arms to grow limp. And the ball that looked as though it would be outside the plate, suddenly broke inward and crossed the corner.
"Strike two!" ruled the umpire.
The batter looked annoyed. And as for Don, a wave of gladness ran through his veins. His curves were working, and this batter didn't seem to be any harder to pitch to than some high school players he had faced.
Tim called for pitch-outs on the next two, hoping that the batter would "bite." The Glenrock player, though, seemed to have become cautious. Then Don pitched a drop, and the batter hit a bit too high and sent a grounder toward third base, and was thrown out.
The next batter caught the first ball pitched and hammered it to center field for a base.
Don's lips twitched. He wondered if the runner would try to steal, and if he would be too green to hold him close to the bag. Ted motioned him to play the plate.
Tim signaled for a pitch-out, or waste ball. He pitched.
The catcher had shrewdly judged that Glenrock would try to steal the moment she got a runner on. He saw the runner break for second. He got the ball, drew back his arm, and shot the sphere down without rising from his squat.
It was a beautiful throw, and the runner was out by a yard.
"Try to get fresh with the kid pitcher, eh?" yelled Tim.
"That's turning them back," shouted Ted Carter. "Get this fellow, Don."
Don "got" him on an in-curve that was hit for a puny infield pop.
Glenrock was out. She had had her first inning and had not scored. Ted came running in to the bench, calling instructions to Chester's first hitter. Don drew on a sweater and sat down.
"Well," said Ted, "they aren't giant-killers, are they?"
"Tim saved me that time," Don answered. His pulse was still throbbing.
"Sure I did," said Tim. "That's what I'm there for."
Don tried to tell himself that it was only Tim's way to be so cocksure and chesty; and yet, in a small corner of his brain, was the thought that it might have been just as well had the runner not been thrown out. In spite of himself, he was beginning to resent the catcher's air of superiority.
He admitted that he was lucky to have escaped during that first inning. But he was not so lucky in the innings that followed. Two runs were scored by Glenrock in the third, one in the fifth, two in the seventh, and one in the eighth. Five runs was all that Chester could gather. The end of the game found her one run behind.
Don was disheartened. He put on his sweater and started to leave the field. Ted called him, and he waited.
"Down in the mouth?" the captain asked. "Forget it. I knew you'd have trouble today. You were worried, weren't you?"
"And yet they beat you only six to five. That's all right. Next time you won't be so nervous and you'll do better."
"Will I?" Don asked. "You're not fooling me, Ted?"
"Oh, Tim." Ted called to the catcher. "What did I tell you about this game?"
"That you'd be satisfied if Don held them to a respectable score," Tim answered. "You told me to hold him up and keep him going—"
"All right," Ted said quickly. He turned to Don. "Does that look as though I'm stringing you? Next week you pitch against Springfield—and next week you're going to win."
Don drew a deep breath. A big part of his courage had come back. Now, if Tim would only stop saying how important he was—
"I know those Springfield batters," said Tim. "I'll signal him what to throw."
Don turned away. Was Tim going to act like that all summer?
Monday the Wolf patrol had its second first-aid practice. This time there was no trouble. Tim appeared, and did his work, and then went shouting and hallooing down the street. Andy Ford laughed and shook his head.
"He's a wild Indian, Don. You can't do much with him."
"I—I can't do anything with him," said Don.
The days that followed were busy ones. There was a rush of orders for window screens, and he dropped his bird-houses and helped his father. Twice he went to the field. Once he met Tim there, and Tim caught his delivery and called instructions in a breezy, high-handed way. Andy Ford was right, Don thought. A wild, untamed, careless, unthinking Indian!
Friday, in response to Don's orders, the patrol came to headquarters to clean up for that night's meeting. Tim brought with him an impish, reckless desire for fun. While the others tried to sweep, he lined up a string of camp stools and played leap-frog down the length of the meeting-place, and got in everybody's way.
"Come on, Tim," Don called. "Cut it out!"
"Cut what out?" Tim asked innocently.
"That jumping. You're scattering the dust. Put the stools away and get a broom."
Tim shook his head, and sat on the nearest stool, and looked as though he was going to dispute the order. Andy and Ritter nudged him and told him to be a good sport and help. He looked at them doubtfully, and then, apparently convinced, he piled the stools in a corner and got a broom.
Only for a short time, though, did he apply himself to the work in hand. Soon a voice shouted, "Behold a knight of old!" and when the scouts looked around there was Tim with the broom as a sword and a galvanized water bucket over his head. Even Don laughed.
Next Tim sent the pail clattering across the floor, and Bobbie had to jump to avoid being hit in the shins. After that this troublesome scout insisted on fighting a broom duel with Wally Woods, and a collection of dirt that had been swept into a pile was scattered right and left.
"Tim!" cried Don.
Tim stopped. "What's the matter?"
"Look at that dirt. We'll never get cleaned up this way."
"Oh, forget it," said Tim. "Can't a fellow have a little fun? I'll sweep it up again," and he attacked the pile.
Ten minutes later he was chasing Ritter around the room for a piece of cake, and a pail of water that Andy had just brought in was upset over the floor.
"Yah!" shouted Tim. "Swim for your life." He swished his broom through the water and swished too hard, and the dirty water flew far and high and spattered the walls.
"Now look what we've got to clean," cried Andy.
"Gee!" said Tim. "I didn't know it was going to do that. What did you want to leave the pail there for?"
"What did you go cat-acting for?" Don demanded.
He was exasperated. He felt like telling Tim to go out and let them finish the job themselves. But—There was the rub. What would happen then? Suppose Tim got hot-headed and wouldn't go? Or suppose he went, glad to be relieved of his share of the job? Or suppose he walked out sullen and grumbling, and stayed away from the meeting or came late or came untidy—and the Wolves lost points?
Don was bewildered. He wanted to do what was best—for Tim, for himself, for the patrol—but what was best? Was it best to let Tim run on in the hope that he'd be shamed into a better spirit by the other scouts? Phil Morris would have said, very quietly, "Hey, there, Tim!" and that would have been the end of it.
Don sighed. "I wish I was as big as Phil," he muttered.
For a time it seemed as though Tim had been sobered by the accident to the water pail. He worked with Andy trying to clean the walls. It seemed, though, that there were a thousand spatters.
"Gee!" said Tim. "Mr. Wall surely likes to stick a fellow. This is no cinch."
"It's your own fault," Andy grunted, trying to reach a high spot.
"Aw! shut up," cried Tim; "you fellows are always preaching. You fellows never do anything. I'm tired and I'm going to rest."
He brought out a camp stool and sat down. Don bit his lips and went on working. The other scouts cast covert glances at the stool and its occupant.
By and by it began to grow dark. The floor had been swept and mopped, but the walls still had dirty sections and there were the two windows to do.
"We're not going to get this clean in time," said Andy.
Tim stirred from the chair and came over and helped. The light failed rapidly. The lamps were in the troop "treasure chest," and Don though a patrol leader, had not yet received a key to the locker.
"No use wasting any more time here," he said at last. "Let's do the windows."
"Maybe we have the walls all clean," said Andy. Ritter struck a match. By the feeble flame they looked intently, but could not be sure.
They did the windows. Tim was silent and apparently not anxious to attract attention to himself. It was almost dark when the last window had been finished.
"Could we try the walls again?" Bobbie asked.
"Too late," Don answered. "They may be all right. We'll know tonight, anyway. Everybody on time tonight, and everybody clean."
He walked off with Andy. The assistant patrol leader said after a moment:
"I think Tim's sorry now."
"What good does it do to be sorry now?" Don asked bitterly.
As soon as his supper was over, he hurried back to headquarters. Nobody was there yet. Presently the patrol leader of the Foxes, a boy named Kearney, came along, whistling shrilly. He opened the treasure chest and brought out the lamps, cleaned the chimneys and lighted them.
"Hello!" he said. "Wasn't it the turn of your patrol to clean house?"
Don nodded miserably. One patch of wall, by a window, was a mess. The windows themselves, cleaned in semi-darkness, were streaked. And some of the floor, down by the door, had not been mopped at all.
Scouts began to arrive. Bobbie brought a shoe brush and a can of blacking, and Ritter brought a hair brush and a comb. Andy brought needles and khaki-colored thread. These things were laid quietly in the patrol's locker. Nobody said anything about the walls.
By and by Tim arrived. He looked around and his face became red. Don gave him a quick glance. He met it and his flush grew deeper, and all at once he seemed to force his shoulders back and his eyes became defiant.
"He's stung, all right," thought Don, "but he doesn't want to show it."
Mr. Wall called the patrol leaders forward to discuss the plans for a hike. Don scarcely heard the details. All he knew was that somebody said, "Wednesday, then," and the Scoutmaster's whistle shrilled, and the troop lined up by patrols.
Slowly the inspection was made—first the scouts, then the room. Don forced himself to keep his eyes level, but he felt like hanging his head.
"Every scout present," Mr. Wall announced, "and every scout clean. Each patrol is awarded sixteen points."
Fleeting smiles through the ranks of the Foxes and the Eagles. Sober faces among the Wolves.
"However," the Scoutmaster went on, "the Wolf patrol had the detail of cleaning the meeting place. I am sorry to say that the patrol has been derelict. I am, therefore, compelled to fine the Wolf patrol five points."
Don's heart was like lead. He knew what the slate would show; and yet, when it was changed, he stared at it miserably:
Eagle 44-1/2 Fox 46 Wolf 41-1/2
The meeting was over at last. He ordered his patrol to wait. The other scouts, looking at the Wolves queerly, went out into the night and scattered. Mr. Wall passed out.
"Good night, scouts," he called.
"Good night," they answered, and looked at Don.
"We're going to clean this place," he said. "Get some water."
There was a rush for pails. Tim hesitated. He knew he was the cause of the disaster that had overtaken the patrol, but he had the mistaken idea that it would seem babyish and weak to jump in and show contrition. He had always been looked upon as a little "hard." This, he thought, was soft—and he didn't want anybody to regard him as a softy.
"Aw!" he said, "what's the use? We've lost the points, haven't we?"
"Is that your idea of being a scout?" Don asked.
Tim flushed again. For a few minutes he lounged around; then, looking ill at ease, he slouched out.
"I didn't think he'd do that," Andy said thoughtfully.
Don's lips had gone a little white. He turned toward the spattered wall and stopped all at once. For Tim was coming back through the doorway.
"I'm as good a scout as you," Tim said passionately. "If you say I'm not, I'll bang you in the eye."
Don said nothing. While Tim selected a pail and a floor cloth, Don rubbed away at the wall. Slowly a little smile spread across his face. He was quite content the way things had gone. What did five points amount to, if their loss would make Tim a better scout?
Next day Don pitched his second game for Chester. His pulse was steady, his control was good, and the Springfield batters seemed unable to do much with his drop. When the score-keeper marked the last play and closed his book, Chester had won 5 runs to 3.
"Didn't I tell you?" Ted Carter cried jubilantly. "Some pitching!"
"Sure," said Tim. "I doped out what the batters couldn't hit, and he threw me what I wanted."
"There's a lot of pitchers can't do that," the captain said lightly, and shot a quick look at the pitcher.
Don pretended that he had not heard; but he could not keep the color from rising in his cheeks. All during the game Tim had seemed to rasp him a bit—not enough to spoil his work, but enough to keep him on edge.
He had thought, after last night's meeting, that there would be a big change in Tim. Instead, it began to look as though Tim would continue to be the same wild, heedless, quarrelsome lad he had always been.
"Today's tussle will give you confidence," said Ted in his ear. "You'll be able to give them all a fight now."
Don flashed a smile, and then the smile was gone. So was the thrill of his triumph. It was hard, this thinking you had weathered a storm and then finding that you hadn't.
At supper Barbara and his father asked him about the game. He told of his success, but with none of the flash and fire of a conqueror. Barbara caught his glance and smiled at him understandingly.
"More trouble with Tim?" she asked.
"N—no; not exactly trouble. You see—" And then he related what had happened last night, and the great hopes that had come, and how Tim had acted today.
"Don," said Mr. Strong, "do you remember when you learned to pitch an outcurve?"
"You used to pitch to Alex Davidson out there in the yard. One day you came running into the shop and shouted that you had it, and I went out to watch, and you couldn't throw the curve again."
"But I got it again next day," Don said quickly.
"And now you can pitch it any time you want to," said his father.
Don frowned. This was too deep! He saw Barbara smiling and nodding as much as to say, "Think it out, Don." Suddenly he straightened.
"You mean that because Tim played fair that once—"
"Just the way you pitched your curve that once," said his father.
Don sighed. It was funny how his troubles dropped away when he brought them home.
Monday there was another patrol meeting. Tim attended, but an imp of perverseness seemed to rule him. It was the first time he had seen the patrol as a group since Friday night. At first he looked hot and uncomfortable. After a while he began to scrape his feet and drum on the table. He seemed anxious to have it understood that, regardless of what had happened, no one need think that he was going to be bossed.
"Oh, keep your feet still!" Alex Davidson said at last.
Tim rolled a page of his pad into a ball and shot it across the table. The missile struck Ritter on the nose. Tim giggled, and made another ball, and shot this one at Andy Ford.
"Cut it out!" Andy said good-naturedly. "You'll get papers all over the floor."
Tim grinned, and rolled another cartridge. Don caught his bold, sidelong glance—a glance that seemed to say, "Well, what are you going to do about it?"
Others around the table caught that look, too. Don's face grew hot. In an effort to keep the scouts from paying attention to Tim, he talked rapidly about the first aid contest, now two weeks off. The Eagles and the Foxes, he said, were working hard, and the Wolves would have to give more time to practice.
"We're behind," Don finished, "and we must catch up."
Somehow, what he said sounded strained, and forced, and lame. Every scout felt it—even Tim. Andy Ford's eyes snapped. He didn't look good-humored now.
"We're not getting any better on our stretcher work," he said bluntly. "We need practice there."
Tim stopped rolling his pad page. "That's a crack at me, isn't it?" he demanded.
"I'm in the stretcher work, too," said Andy.
"Aw, you're too clever," Tim flared. "I know what you mean." He shot the ball, and it whizzed past the assistant patrol leader's ear.
The meeting was spoiled. Tim glanced defiantly around the table. Alex Davidson tried to get the talk going again, but discussion seemed to lag. And then, just when Don, in his disgust, was ready to adjourn, the door opened and Barbara came into the room.
She had glasses and cake, and a pitcher of lemonade. Soon a filled glass was in front of each scout.
"How is that for a good turn?" she smiled. "Why so many sober faces? What's the matter with you, Tim?"
Tim flushed, and looked down at the floor.
"He won't tell me," Barbara cried gayly. "That's what I get for being a girl—can't learn any boy scout secrets. Have a piece of cake, Tim."
"Thank you," said Tim bashfully.
The plate was passed around the table. Tim's eyes were still downcast. At the door Barbara paused.
"Don't leave those papers on the floor, boys," she said. "Next time I come in I want to see you all smiling."
Tim ate his cake and drank his lemonade. The talk started again, a little brisker now, and a little more hopeful. Plans were made for two practice periods during the week.
"Will that be all right for you, Tim?" Don asked.
"Don't worry about me," the red-haired boy answered shortly. "I'll be there." He arose, went around to the other side of the table and stooped to pick a paper ball from the floor.
A soft smile touched Andy's mouth.
"Aw! what are you laughing at?" Tim cried.
"I'm not laughing, Tim," Andy protested. "Honest."
But, for all that, Tim was furious when he left the meeting. The others stood on the porch and chatted a moment; he strode out the gate and down the dark road.
"Gee!" he said in disgust. "They'll think I'm a little Janie."
Letting a girl make him do things! It stung his pride. Friday night he had said no, and had changed his mind and had scrubbed with the others. Tonight he had grinned when told about papers on the floor—and had ended by picking them up.
Everything had gone wrong, Tim told himself, since Don had become patrol leader. He began to blame Don for all his troubles. Don had upbraided him when the patrol had lost points. It was at Don's house that Barbara had made him pick up papers. His cheeks burned.
"I'll show them!" he vowed wrathfully. He would redeem himself in the only way he knew. He would "start something."
He started it by picking at Don all during next day's practice.
"What's the matter with you?" Ted Carter demanded sharply. "Are you sick?"
"Don's pitching like a freak," Tim answered.
"It's Saturday's pitching that counts," said Ted. "You fellows have had enough warm-up. Go out in the field, Don, and catch fungoes."
Don was glad to get away. When the work was over Ted ran to the outfield and took him by the arm and led him toward the road.
"Have you and Tim been scrapping?" the captain asked.
Don shook his head.
"You fellows are in the same scout troop. Do you pull?"
"What's the matter; did Tim want to be patrol leader?"
Ted slapped his glove against his thigh and whistled thoughtfully. At the corner he paused. Don halted, too.
"Look here," Ted said suddenly. "You know that Tim is a harum-scarum, don't you?"
"Everybody knows that," said Don.
Ted broke into a relieved laugh. "Well, if you know it, what's the use of paying any attention to him? Just let him beef along until he gets tired. He can't hurt you."
Don tried to wrest some comfort from the captain's words—and failed. True, Tim couldn't hurt him, but he could make things mighty unpleasant, and that was almost as bad.
At home he found a post-card from Mr. Wall:
The troop will assemble tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock. Light marching order.
Don forgot all about Tim. Light marching order meant that this would not be an overnight hike, and a blanket was unnecessary. Haversack, cooking kit and rations for one meal would constitute the load.
Ordinarily, hikes were arranged in advance and discussed at troop meetings. But sometimes Mr. Wall did the unexpected. He had said once that it added spice to scouting, and the scouts had agreed. It gave them practice, too, in assembling at a few hours' notice. But the scouts did not think of that.
Don hustled upstairs and overhauled his haversack. His eating things were in their places. Frying-pan and two sauce-pans intact, can-opener, matches, salt—
"Got to get some salt," he said, and ran downstairs to the kitchen. Barbara called that supper was ready. He scooted upstairs, washed, and came down to the dining-room.
"Hiking tomorrow?" Mr. Strong asked.
"Don will be too excited to eat," Barbara said with a laugh as Don nodded in reply to the question.
But she was mistaken. Don ate a supper of healthy size. Afterward he went out to the porch and squinted up at the sky. Stars dotted the black heavens like so many small windows. Now, if it didn't rain—
It didn't; not during the night, anyway. Don awoke with the morning sun in his face. In a moment he was out of bed and into the bathroom. Twenty minutes later he was downstairs.
His breakfast was merely a bite and a promise. There were too many things to do and too much to think about! What should he take along to cook at noon?
"There's some lamb chops in the ice-box," said Barbara.
Two of the chops went into the haversack. Then potatoes, and six slices of bread, and some coffee wrapped in a paper, and a small can of evaporated milk. He strapped the haversack, and suddenly remembered that he had forgotten salt, after all, and unstrapped it again. Barbara stuck in two apples, and by the time the load was slung from his shoulder, whistles and calls sounded from the gate.
Andy Ford, Ritter and Bobbie Brown were waiting impatiently. Bobbie was sure that they would be late, and kept saying that everybody knew that Mr. Wall started promptly on the minute. Don winked at the others and led the way toward troop headquarters.
They were not late. Mr. Wall's watch, hanging from a screw hook in the door, told them that they still had ten minutes. Don opened the patrol locker.
"Who'll carry the ax?" he asked.
"I will," said a voice.
He turned. Tim Lally was waiting with outstretched hand.
"Oh!" said Don uncertainly. Tim took the tool and strapped its leather sheath to his belt. He seemed to have forgotten all about his grouch.
Everything was noise and bustle and confusion. The Eagles and the Foxes were grouped in front of their patrol lockers. There were cries of, "Hey, Jimmy! what did you bring to cook? What did you bring, Charlie?"
Suddenly the silver notes of a bugle arose above the clamor. Assembly! Lockers were banged shut. Scouts scurried outdoors and fell into their places.
"Column twos," came Mr. Wall's voice. "Forward! March!"
Tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp, sounded eager feet. Down to Main Street and then to the left. Alex Davidson waved to them from the door of the grocery store.
"I wish Alex were with us," Don said wistfully.
"I guess Alex wishes he was, too," Andy answered. "But nobody'll ever catch him wearing a long face just because he must work. He isn't that kind."
The troop approached the turnpike.
"Column left!" came the order.
They knew where they were going up—up toward Gipsy Grove. The place had gotten its name from the fact that whenever a gipsy tribe came to the neighborhood it pitched its tents there. It was an ideal camping ground, with plenty of firewood, a clean, running stream, and just enough open timber to let the sunlight through.
Presently they were away from the village and out in open country. The discipline of the march was dropped. In a straggling, merry line they moved along.
Twice the Scoutmaster called rest halts, and each time there was a short talk on roadside flowers, and trees, and weeds. The morning wore away. By and by the sun was almost directly overhead, and Gipsy Grove was at last in sight.
There was a race to see which patrol could get all its fires going first. Each scout was to cook for himself.
"I'll chop," cried Tim. "Somebody get my fire going." His strong, muscular arms made short work of the dry dead wood that littered the ground under the trees.
"We win," shouted the Foxes. But their last fire went out as it was lighted, and a flustered scout prepared to try again amid cries of, "Not more than two matches." This time his wood took the flame. But now the Eagles and the Wolves also had their fires going. Mr. Wall declared the race a triple tie.
Haversacks were unpacked. Frying-pans and pots were dragged forth. Potatoes were laid among hot coals.
Mr. Wall had chopped some wood and had his own fire going. Now he walked among the boys.
"You're getting your fire too big," he warned Bobbie. "You don't need much of a blaze to cook."
"How's mine?" said Tim.
"Fine!" said the Scoutmaster. "Keep it that way."
"Sure," said Tim. "I'll show some of these other fellows how to do theirs."
Andy Ford gave a low groan. "Good night; now we're in for it."
Tim wasted no time. He approached Ritter. That scout eyed him suspiciously.
"You let my fire alone," he warned.
"Go chase yourself. Mr. Wall told me to show you fellows—"
"Tim!" Don chided.
Tim flashed the patrol leader an angry glance. "I said I was going to show the fellows, didn't I? He didn't tell me not to. Anyway, Ritter's fire sprawls out too much. Wait until I get a stick. Now, all you have to do is to pull out these pieces, and—"
"You're raking out my potatoes," cried Ritter.
"It won't kill you to put them back," said Tim. He tossed the stick away and turned toward Bobbie.
"Your fire's all right now, Bobbie," Don said distinctly.
Tim turned up his nose and faced in Wally Woods's direction. But Wally's fire, small and compact, gave him no excuse to tinker. He advanced to where Andy Ford was preparing to fry his meat.
"Gee!" he said. "That sure is one sick-looking fire."
"Suits me," said Andy. He laid the meat in the pan.
Tim began to prod the fire with his foot. The flame, which had been low and even, began to flare and smoke. Andy dropped his frying-pan and sprang forward.
"Get away from there," he cried. His rush caught Tim and pushed him back. Then the red-haired boy braced, and there was a scuffle. Andy's fire was scattered.
"What's the meaning of this?" came Mr. Wall's voice.
Instantly the boys separated. Andy hung his head as though ashamed. Tim carried an injured air.
"Andy pitched into me," he complained.
"He was interfering with my fire," Andy answered.
"I wasn't. I was only showing him."
"Andy is a first-class scout," said Mr. Wall quietly. "If he doesn't know how to build a fire and cook a meal I have blundered as Scoutmaster in awarding him his first-class badge."
Tim looked away. This was putting the whole thing in a new light. He dug the toe of one shoe into the ground, and kept twisting and turning it nervously.
Mr. Wall's voice softened. "You go off the handle too quickly, Tim. You've ruined Andy's fire. What do you think you should do—the square thing?"
"I'll finish my cooking over Don's fire," Andy said quickly.
Mr. Wall never made the mistake of continuing a lecture to the point where it lost its force. He knew when to stop. This flurry was over.
"All right, scouts," he said, and went back to his own cooking. Tim shuffled off and squatted down beside his own blaze.
Andy rounded up his potatoes. They were cold and discouraged looking.
"I've enough potatoes for us both," said Don. "What kind of meat have you?"
"Gosh! That ought to be fine. Let's go whack—half my lamb chops for half your sausage."
Soon eager nostrils were sniffing the glorious odor of sizzling meat touched with the tang of wood smoke. Don and Andy finished their cooking in silence. They began to eat. All over the camp scouts drew together and pooled their rations. Tim Lally sat by his fire, alone.
"He's beginning to look good and sore," Andy said in a low voice.
Don glanced toward the red-haired scout. Tim caught his eye and made a derisive face, and then turned his back and began to whistle as though he was having a gloriously good time.
But Don was not fooled. Tim was lonesome. He felt that he was frozen out. But what could Tim expect if he was going to antagonize everybody?
By and by cooking utensils were cleaned and put away. The fires were smothered. Haversacks were slung across strong young shoulders. The troop marched away.
Up a winding road the scouts went, sometimes singing, sometimes shouting boisterously, sometimes silent. Suddenly they came out in a clearing.
To the right was Danger Mountain; to the left was Lonesome Woods.
The scouts spoke in subdued voices. Danger Mountain! They all knew how it had come by its name. A man had tried to climb one of its high, rocky walls and had fallen to his death.
And Lonesome Woods. There was another name to make scouts edge closer to one another. Three miles wide it was, and about seven miles long, and dark and dense with thick growth. The gipsy caravans kept away from it. Passing tramps gave it a wide berth. From time to time boys dipped into its edges, but soon came out. Lonesome Woods, indeed!
"We'll have to explore that some day," said Mr. Wall.
"The mountain?" Tim asked eagerly.
"The woods," the Scoutmaster answered.
A shout broke from the troop. With Mr. Wall along there would be nothing to fear. When would they go? Next week?
"We'll take it up at Friday night's meeting," the Scoutmaster promised.
"Why can't we do the mountain?" Tim demanded.
"Because Danger Mountain is a bad spot. Broken bones are a heavy price to pay for foolish daring."
Tim stared off at the mountain. "It doesn't seem so hard," he said, and his eyes lighted with eagerness. Mr. Wall's face became grave.
The hike home was all downhill. The scouts swung along gayly. The prospect of penetrating Lonesome Woods shortened the miles. What would they find? What strange adventures would befall them?
"Adventure? Piffle!" said Tim. "Give me Danger Mountain."
"Sssh!" warned Ritter. "Mr. Wall will hear you."
"Gee! Can't I even say what I'd like?" Off in the distance a dog barked. Tim barked in reply. The dog answered. It became a duel of sound.
Tim was in his glory. Weird, nerve-racking screeches came from his throat. Presently the uproar became unbearable.
Mr. Wall's whistle shrilled. The noise stopped.
"What's the matter back there?" Mr. Wall demanded. "Can't the patrol leader keep order?"
"Cut it out, Tim," said Don.
"Go on!" Tim answered sullenly. "Say it louder so Mr. Wall will hear you." He slouched through what was left of the hike and did not speak a word to anyone.
"He surely can make things pleasant," said Andy. "Some day he'll go too far and Mr. Wall will bundle him out of the troop, and it will be good riddance."
Don said nothing. He wanted to be relieved of the burden of Tim's trouble-making, but not by expulsion. That, he thought, was no way for a fellow to end as a scout. If Tim would only be a little bit more like the other fellows in the patrol!
But the chances of Tim doing that seemed remote. He had his good moments—times when it seemed that he had struck the right road and was on his way to better things. Always, though, something happened to turn him aside.
Next day there was baseball practice. Don came to the field eager for a warm-up. He nodded hopefully to Tim, and took his place, and noticed that Ted Carter was loitering near by.
"Come on," cried Tim. "Let's see if you can do a little better pitching today."
Don bit his lips. Evidently, Tim was in one of his sour, irritating moods. He served the ball and resolved to pay no attention to the catcher. By and by he threw his first curve.
"They'd kill that," said Tim.
Don pitched again.
"Oh, come on! Come on!"
Ted Carter walked out between the boys, "That will be all from you, Tim. When you come out on this field, you come out to play ball. If you can't play ball, you quit."
Slowly Tim pulled off his mitt. He was the only regular catcher. Ted was trying to bluff him. And his temper was flaring because he had been rebuked in front of Don.
"Think you can get anybody to play any better for you than I play?" he asked flippantly.
"You bet I can," said Ted. "I can use a fellow who'll be in the game every minute."
"Get him," Tim said indifferently.
"I will," said Ted. "You're through. Get off the field."
Tim was jarred. He hadn't expected anything like this. He looked at Ted. There could be no escaping what he saw—the captain meant it.
"Where—where are you going to get another catcher?" he asked weakly.
"Is it worrying you?" Ted asked. "I'll go behind the bat myself. I guess I can get somebody to play first base. Now get off the field; you're in the way."