ROY BLAKELEY'S ADVENTURES IN CAMP
PERCY KEESE FITZHUGH
AUTHOR OF ROY BLAKELY, TOM SLADE, BOY SCOUT, TOM SLADE AT TEMPLE CAMP, TOM SLADE WITH THE COLORS, ETC.
ILLUSTRATED BY HOWARD L. HASTINGS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. TELLS YOU HOW WE GOT STARTED
II. TELLS YOU HOW I HAD A VISITOR
III. TELLS HOW I MADE A PROMISE
IV. TELLS ABOUT THE PAPER I FOUND
V. TELLS ABOUT SKINNY'S MERIT BADGE
VI. TELLS HOW SKINNY AND I GOT TOGETHER
VII. TELLS ABOUT MY MERIT BADGE
VIII. TELLS ABOUT OUR TRIP UP THE HUDSON
IX. TELLS ABOUT SKINNY'S SWIMMING LESSON
X. TELLS ABOUT SKINNY AND THE ELKS
XI. TELLS YOU HOW TO GET TO TEMPLE CAMP
XII. TELLS ALL ABOUT OUR ROW ON BLACK LAKE
XIII. TELLS ABOUT THE STRANGE CAMPERS
XIV. TELLS ABOUT THE STORM ON BLACK LAKE
XV. TELLS ABOUT AN ACCIDENT
XVI. TELLS ABOUT SKINNY'S ABSENCE
XVII. TELLS ABOUT CAMP-FIRE AND SKINNY
XVIII. TELLS ABOUT MY TALK WITH BERT WINTON
XIX. TELLS ABOUT A VISIT FROM ACROSS THE LAKE
XX. TELLS ABOUT THE LOSS OF SOME MONEY
XXI. TELLS ABOUT MY TALK WITH MR. ELLSWORTH
XXII. TELLS ABOUT HOW I VISITED THE OHIO TROOP CABIN
XXIII. TELLS ABOUT HOW I DID A GOOD TURN
XXIV. TELLS ABOUT HOW I TOLD A SECRET
XXV. TELLS ABOUT THE LETTER WE WROTE
XXVI. TELLS ABOUT GEOGRAPHY AND ALL THAT KIND OF STUFF
XXVII. TELLS ABOUT HOW WE TRIED TO STOP IT RAINING
XXVIII. TELLS ABOUT HOW DAME NATURE CHANGED HER MIND
XXIX. TELLS ABOUT HOW WE LOOKED INTO THE PIT
XXX. TELLS ABOUT HOW TIGERS LEAP
XXXI. TELLS ABOUT THE OLD PASSAGEWAY
XXXII. TELLS ABOUT WHAT I DISCOVERED IN REBEL'S CAVE
XXXIII. TELLS ABOUT HOW WESTY AND I WAITED
XXXIV. TELLS ABOUT THE STRANGE FIGURE
XXXV. TELLS ABOUT A NEW CAMP
XXXVI. TELLS ABOUT WHAT BERT TOLD ME
XXXVII. TELLS ABOUT HOW I VISITED CAMP McCORD
XXXVIII. TELLS ABOUT THE SCOUT PACE
XXXIX. TELLS ABOUT HOW CAMP McCORD DIDN'T STRIKE ITS COLORS
TELLS YOU HOW WE GOT STARTED
Maybe you fellows will remember about how I was telling you that our troop had a house-boat that was loaned to us for the summer, by a man that lives out our way. He said we could fix it up and use it to go to Temple Camp in. It was a peach of a boat and took the hills fine— that's what we said just to jolly Pee-wee Harris, who is in our troop. He's awfully easy to jolly, but he doesn't stay mad long, that's one good thing about him.
But one trouble, that boat didn't have any power, and it wouldn't even drift right on account of being almost square. Westy Martin said it was on the square, all right. He's a crazy kid, that fellow is. Anyway, the boat didn't have any power. Our scoutmaster, Mr. Ellsworth, said it didn't even have any will power. We couldn't even pole it.
When we first got it, it was way up a creek in the marshes and Mr. Donnelle (he's the man that owned it) took us there and showed it to us. Just as we were coming near it, a fellow jumped out of it and ran away through the marshes. We said he must be a tramp, because he was all ragged. Anyway, he acted as if he was scared, that was one sure thing.
"We should worry about him, anyway," I said; and Mr. Donnelle said he was gone and that was the end of him.
But, believe me, that wasn't the end of him. That was only the beginning of him. I didn't say anything more about him before, because I didn't know, but believe me, that fellow was—what do you call it— you know—destined—to cause a lot of trouble in our young lives. That sounds like a regular author, hey? Destined.
When we began fixing the boat up, we found that one of the lockers was locked with a padlock and as long as the boat didn't belong to us, we didn't break it open, especially because there were plenty of lockers besides that one. I bet you'd like to know what was in that locker. But you're not going to find that out yet, so there's no use asking. All the time we thought Mr. Donnelle had the key to it. But, oh, just you wait.
Well, after we got it all fixed up, we couldn't decide how we'd get it down into the bay and then up the Hudson to Catskill Landing. That's where you have to go to get to Temple Camp. Temple Camp is a great big scout camp and it's right on the shore of Black Lake—oh, it's peachy. You'll see it, all right, and you'll see Jeb Rushmore—he's camp manager. He used to be a trapper out west. You'll see us all around camp-fire—you wait. Mr. Ellsworth says this story is all right so far, only to go on about the boat. Gee, I'll go faster than the boat did, that's one sure thing, leave it to me. But after we got down into the Hudson we went fast, all right. Let's see where was I?
Oh, yes, we were wondering how we'd get to camp in it because we didn't have much money in our troop, on account of being broke. Poor, but honest, hey? And it costs a lot of money to be towed and an engine would cost a hundred and fifty dollars. Nix on the engine, you can bet. But, oh, boy, there's one thing Mr. Ellsworth said and it's true, I've got to admit that. He said that good turns are good investments—he says they pay a hundred percent. That's even better than Liberty Bonds. You don't get it back in money, but you get it back in fun—what's the difference?
Well, we did a good turn, and oh, believe me, there was some come back!
One day a tug came up our river on its way up to North Bridgeboro. That's where the mill is. And there wasn't anybody there to open the bridge so it could get through. Oh, wasn't that old tug captain mad! He kept whistling and whistling and saying things about the river being an old mud hole, and how he'd never get down the bay again, unless he could get through and come down on the full tide. Oh, boy, but he was wild.
When we told him that old Uncle Jimmy, the bridge tender, had sneaked away to a Grand Army Convention, he kind of cooled down on account of being an old veteran himself, and then some of us fellows fished up an old key-bar that had been lost in the river and opened the bridge with it. That's what they call the thing you open the bridge with—a key-bar. It's like a crow-bar only different.
I'm not saying that was so much of a good turn, except it was turning the bridge around and Connie Bennett said that was a good turn. He's the troop cut-up. Anyway, old Captain Savage took me up to North Bridgeboro with him and first I was kind of scared of him, because he had a big red face and he was awful gruff. But wait till you hear about the fun we had with him when we landed and took a peek at Peekskill. Oh, boy!
Then he said how he liked the way we stood up for Uncle Jimmy, and I guess besides he was glad about me diving and getting the key-bar, but anyway, that was easy. So he said he was going to tow us up as far as Poughkeepsie the next Saturday, and that if we refused on account of scouts not being willing to accept anything for a service, he'd make a lot of trouble for Uncle Jimmy, because he was away. He was only fooling when he said that. Maybe you won't like him in the beginning, but you'll get to like him pretty soon.
So that's how we got it all fixed to go to camp, or part of the way anyway, in the house-boat. And believe me, we had some trip, and that's mostly what I'm going to tell you all about. Talk about fun!
On Saturday morning all of the troop came down to the house-boat ready for the trip, and oh, you ought to have seen Skinny McCord. He's a little fellow that lives down in the poor part of town, and he was a new member. His mother is poor and she goes out washing, and Skinny was sick and his clothes were all in rags, and even he didn't have any shoes and stockings. But, anyway, he did me a good turn and so Westy Martin and I got him into the troop, and we presented him to the Elk Patrol, because they had a vacant place on account of Tom Slade being away in France. So now you know about Skinny and you'll find out a lot more about him, too.
Before Saturday came, Mr. Ellsworth made a bargain with Sandy Grober to tow us down into the Kill Von Kull—that's near Staten Island, you know. Sandy has a boat with a heavy duty motor in it, and he said he'd do the job for ten dollars, because, anyway, he'd go to Princess Bay fishing. Our troop was broke and we couldn't spare the money, because we needed all we had for eats and things. So this is the way we fixed it.
Mr. Ellsworth gave Sandy the ten dollars and then each one of the patrol leaders gave Mr. Ellsworth a note saying his patrol would pay back two dollars and a half as soon as they earned it. That would make seven dollars and a half, and Mr. Ellsworth said he would pay the other two fifty himself, so you see it was all divided up even between the patrols and the scoutmaster.
Believe me, we had some fun earning that money, especially the Raving Ravens—that's the Raven Patrol, you know.
We started early Saturday morning, and we knew just where we had to go, because we had a letter from Captain Savage, saying that we should wait in the anchorage off St. George at Staten Island, until he came and got us. He said maybe it would be Sunday night or maybe Monday morning, but anyway, just to ride on our anchor till he came.
We didn't have any adventures going down our river and I won't bother telling you about it, because it would only be slow. Gee, williger, a story that's being towed against the tide wouldn't have much action, would it? I bet you'd skip. So it's better for me to skip than for you, hey?
But anyway, on the way down we got the boat all straightened out inside and decided just how we'd sleep. Two patrols would sleep in the two rooms and one patrol on deck under the awning, and we decided we'd take turns that way, so each patrol would get some sleeping outdoors.
We didn't get to the Kill Von Kull till about five o'clock and I guess it was about six o'clock when we got to St. George. Oh, but there are some peachy boats in the anchorage there—regular yachts and big cabin cruisers. And that's where our adventures began, you can bet. Do you like mysteries? Gee, that's one thing I'm crazy about—mysteries— mysteries and pineapple sodas. Oh, Oh!
Then Sandy left us and went off to catch cash-on-delivery fish—that's COD fish. Oh, boy, but it was fine rocking away out there. Pretty soon I got supper because I'm cook. I know how to make flapjacks and hunters' stew, and a lot of things. After supper the fellows decided to go ashore to St. George and get some sodas and take in a movie show. I said I'd stay on the houseboat because I had to write up the troop-book. Maybe I forgot to tell you that I'm troop historian. Most of the things in this story are out of our troop book.
You'd better not skip the next chapter, because something is going to happen.
TELLS YOU HOW I HAD A VISITOR
We weren't anchored very far from shore, so it didn't take long for all the troop to row over, even though we only had one small boat. Mr. Ellsworth went with them so he could look after Skinny.
As soon as I had finished clearing up after supper, I got out the troop book and began writing it up. I was behind about two weeks with it and so I had about ten pages to do. Oh, but it was dandy sitting there on the deck with my feet up on the railing, writing. I mean I was writing with my hand. Pretty soon it began getting dark and I could see the lights coming out on all the different boats just like stars. It's kind of fun being alone sometimes. I could see all the lights in the town, too, but what did I care? I said I'd rather be alone where I was. Pretty soon it was too dark to write and so I just sat there thinking. Maybe you think it's no fun just thinking. But I was thinking how pretty soon we'd be hiking up from Catskill Landing to Black Lake, and how I'd see Jeb Rushmore, and how I'd take a hike and find out if the robin's nest was just where it was last year. That robin is a member of our patrol—he's an honorary member.
All of a sudden I saw it was pitch dark and I couldn't see any boats at all, only lights, moving a little on account of the boats rocking.
In a little while I heard oars splashing and the sound seemed to be coming nearer and nearer, so I knew it was the first boat-load of fellows coming back. I thought it was awful soon for them to be getting back. It seemed funny that they weren't talking, especially if it was the Raving Ravens (that's what we call the Raven Patrol) because Pee-wee Harris would be sure to be running on high. That's the way he always does, especially coming home from the movies. And if it was the Elk Patrol I'd be sure to hear Bert McAlpin because he's a human victrola record.
Pretty soon I could make out a black spot coming nearer and then I knew for sure it was headed for the house-boat. But there wasn't any sound except the splashing of the oars and I thought that was mighty funny. In a couple of minutes the boat came alongside and I heard someone say, "Pst" very quiet like. I went and looked over the rail and there I saw a fellow all alone in a rowboat. I couldn't see him very well, but I could see he had on an old hat and was pretty shabby.
Then he sort of whispered, "Anybody up there, Skeezeks?"
I told him no, and asked him who he was and what he wanted, but he didn't say anything, only tied his boat, and climbed up over the rail. Then I could see him better by the light shining through the cabin window, and his clothes were all ragged and greasy. He looked pretty tough, but one thing, anyway, he smiled an awful nice kind of a smile and hit me a whack on the shoulder and said: "Don't get excited, Skeezeks; you're all right and I won't hurt you. How are you, anyway?"
I told him I was very well, but I'd like for him please to tell me who he was, so I'd know.
Then he gave me another push, and I don't know, there was something about him that kind of made me like him, and I wasn't scared of him at all.
"Don't you know who I am?" he said.
"I kind of think maybe you're the fellow that jumped out of this boat and ran away, when it was up the creek near Little Valley. You look kind of like him."
"Right the first time," he said, "and I bet you're a bully little scout. What do you say?" Then he looked out over the water to be sure nobody was coming.
"I'm a first class scout, and I've got nine merit badges, and I'm a patrol leader," I told him. "Anyway I'd like to know what you want here."
"Patrol leader! No!" he said, and I could see he was only trying to get on the right side of me, and that he didn't know what a patrol leader is at all.
"Can patrol leaders keep secrets?" he said.
I told him if it was a good secret, they could. Then he hit me a good whack on the shoulder and he winked at me awful funny and said:
They are fools who go and tell Wisely has the poet sung. Man may hold all sorts of jobs If he'll only hold his tongue.
"Are you a tramp?" I asked him.
"A tramp!" he said, "that's pretty good. I dare say I look like one."
Then he jumped up on the railing and began laughing so hard I was afraid he'd fall backwards into the water. I told him he'd better look out, but he only laughed more, and said I was a great kid. Then all of a sudden he happened to think and he looked around to see if anyone was coming. Then he said,
"Are you game to help me in a dark plot?"
Gee, I didn't know what to tell him. "It depends upon how dark it is," I said. Because, jiminy, I wanted to be careful and watch my step. But that only made him laugh a lot. Then he said,
"Well, it isn't exactly a black plot, but it's a kind of a dark brown."
"One thing sure," I said, "you're not a tramp, I know that—I can tell."
"You're a wise little gazabo," he said. "Would you really like to know who I am?"
I told him sure I would.
"Do you think I look like a tramp?" he asked me.
"I think you kind of look like one," I said; "but you don't act like one, and you don't laugh like one."
"I've got blamed little reason to laugh," he said, "because I'm in Dutch, and you've got to do me a good turn. Will you?"
"Good turns are our middle names," I told him, "but anyway, I'd like to know who you are—that's sure."
Then he said, "I'm Lieutenant Donnelle, Mr. Donnelle's son. And I guess I had a right to run away from the boat, didn't I?"
"G-o-o-d night!" I said.
TELLS HOW I MADE A PROMISE
Then he said, "Were you one of the kids who were coming along with my father when I jumped out of the boat?" And I told him yes. Then he said, "You don't think he saw me, do you?" I said, "Yes, he saw you, but I guess he didn't know who you were, he didn't see your face, that's sure."
"Thank goodness for that," he said, "because I've caused the old gent a lot of trouble."
"Anyway," I told him, "I don't see why you don't wear your uniform. Gee, if I had a lieutenant's uniform you bet I'd wear it."
"Would you?" he said, and he began to laugh. Then he said, "Well, now, let's sit down here on this bench and I'll tell you what you're going to do, and then I'll tell you what I'm going to do, and we'll have to be quick about it." Then he looked out over the water and listened and as soon as he was sure nobody was coming, he put his arm over my shoulder and made me sit down on the bench beside him. I have to admit I kind of liked that fellow, even though I kind of thought he was, you know, wild, sort of. It seemed as if he was the kind of a fellow to have a lot of adventures and to be reckless and all that.
"Maybe you can tell me what you're going to do," I told him, "but you can't tell me what I'm going to do—that's one sure thing."
"Oh, yes I can," he said, "because you're a bully kid and you're an A-1 sport, and you and I are going to be pals. What do you say?"
"I can't deny that I like you," I said, "and I bet you've been to a lot of places."
"France, Russia, South America, Panama and Montclair, New Jersey," he said, "and Bronx Park." Gee, I didn't know how to take him, he was so funny.
"Ever been up in an airplane?" he said.
"Cracky, I'd like to," I told him.
"I went from Paris to the Channel in an airplane," he said.
Then he gave me a crack on the back and he put his arm around my shoulder awful nice and friendly like, and it made me kind of proud because I knew him.
"Now, you listen here," he said, "I'm in a dickens of a fix. You live in Bridgeboro; do you know Jake Holden?"
"Sure I know him, he's a fisherman," I said; "the very same night your father told us we could use this boat I saw him, and the next day I went to try to find him for a certain reason, and he was gone away down the bay after fish. He taught me how to fry eels."
"Get out," he said, "really?"
"Honest, he did," I told him.
"Well, some day I'll show you how to cook bear's meat. There's something you don't know."
"Did you ever cook bear's meat?" I asked him.
"Surest thing you know," he said; "black bears, gray bears, grisly bears—"
"Jiminy," I said.
Then he went on and this is what he told me, keeping his arm around my shoulder and every minute or so listening and looking out over the water. "Here's something you didn't know," he said. Gee, I can remember every word almost, because you bet I listened. A fellow couldn't help listening to him. He said, "When Jake Holden went down the bay, your Uncle Dudley was with him."
I said, "You mean you?"
"I mean me," he said. "I was home from Camp Dix on a short leave and was on my way to see the old gent and the rest of the folks, when who should I run plunk into but that old water rat. It was five o'clock in the morning, and I was just taking a hop, skip and a jump off the train. 'Come on down the bay fishing,' he says. 'What, in these togs?' I told him. 'I'll get 'em all greased up and what'll Uncle Sam say?' 'Go home and get some old ones,' he said. ''Gainst the rules,' I said, 'can't be running around in civilized clothes.' 'You should worry about civilized clothes,' he said. 'Go up to your dad's old house-boat in the marshes and get some fishin' duds on—the locker's full of 'em.' 'Thou hast said something,' I told him; 'go and get your old scow ready and I'm with you.'"
Then he hit me a good rap on the shoulder and said, "So you see how it was, kiddo? Instead of going home to hear how handsome I looked, I just beat it up that creek and fished this suit of greasy rags out of one of the lockers. There was a key in the padlock and I just took off my uniform and stuffed it in the locker and beat it over to Little Landing in Bridgeboro."
"You locked the padlock and took the key, didn't you?" I said.
"Righto," he said, "and I thought I'd be back that same night and down to Dix again by morning. See? But instead of that, here I am and blamed near a week gone by and Uncle Sam on the hunt for me. A nice pickle I'm in. What do you say?"
"Gee, I wouldn't want to be you," I said; "anyway, I'm sorry for you. But I don't see why you didn't go back like you said." Then he went over to the railing and looked all around in a hurry.
"I guess they won't be back for an hour yet," I told him; "they went to the movies."
So he came back and sat down beside me again and began talking very excited, as if I was kind of a friend of his, the way he talked. You know what I mean. And, cracky, any fellow would be glad to be a friend of his, that's sure, even if he was kind of reckless and—you know.
He said, "I had so many adventures, old top, that I couldn't tell 'em to you. Jakey and I have Robinson Crusoe tearing his hair from jealousy. Kiddo, this last week has been a whole sea story; in itself— just one hair's-breadth escape after another. Ever read Treasure Island?"
"Did I!" I said.
Then he said, "Well Treasure Island is like a church social compared to what I've been through. Some day I'm going to tell you about it."
I said, "I wish you'd tell me now."
"Some night around the camp-fire I'll tell you," he said. "We were fishing off Sea Gate and the fish just stood on line waiting for a chance to bite. We sold three boatfuls in the one day and whacked up about seventy dollars—what do you think of that? Then we chugged around into Coney for gas and on the way back we got mussed up with the tide and were carried out to sea—banged around for three days, bailing and trying to fry fish on the muffler. On the fourth day we were picked up by a fishing schooner about fifty miles off Rockaway and towed in. I said to Jakey, I'm Mike Corby, remember that, and if you give your right name I'll kill you—you've got to protect me,' I said, 'because I'm in bad.' You see how it was, kiddo? I was three days overdue at camp and didn't even have my uniform. I was so tired bailing and standing lookout that when they set us down on the wharf at Rockaway, I could have slept standing on my head. And I've gone without sleep fifty hours at a stretch on the West Front in France—would you believe it?"
"Sure, I believe it," I told him.
"I'll tell you the whole business some day when you and I are on the hike."
I said, "Cracky, you can bet I'd like to go on a hike with you."
"That's what we will," he said, "and we'll swap adventures."
I told him I didn't have any good ones like he had to swap, but anyway, I was glad he got home all right.
"All right!" he said, "you mean all wrong. Maybe you saw the accounts in the papers of the two fishermen who were picked up after a harrowing experience—Mike Corby and Dan McCann. That was us. I left Jakey down at Rockaway to wait for his engine to be fixed and beat it out to Jersey. No house-boat! Was I up in the air? Didn't even dare to go up to the house and ask about it. That rotten little newspaper in Bridgeboro had a big headliner about me disappearing—'never seen after leaving Camp Dix; whereabouts a mystery'—that's what it said, 'son of Professor Donnelle.' What'd you think of that?"
I told him I was mighty sorry for him, and I was, too.
Then he said how he went to New York in those old rags, and tried not to see anybody he knew and even he hid his face when he saw Mr. Cooper on the train. And then he telephoned out to Bridgeboro and Little Valley and made believe he was somebody else, and said he heard the houseboat was for sale and in that way he found out about his father loaning it to our troop, and how we were probably anchored near St. George at Staten Island. Oh, boy, didn't he hurry up to get there, because he was afraid we might be gone.
So then he waited till night and he was just wondering whether it would be safe to wait till we were all asleep and then sneak onto the boat, when all of a sudden he saw the fellows coming ashore and he got near and listened and he heard them speak about going to the movies, and he heard one fellow say something about how Roy would be sorry he didn't come. And do you want to know what he told me? This is just what he said; he said, "When I heard your name was Roy, I knew you'd be all right—see? Because look at Rob Roy," he said; "wasn't he a bully hero and a good scout and a fellow you could trust with a secret—wasn't he?" That's just what he said. "You take a fellow named Roy," he said, "and you'll always find him true and loyal." He said there was a fellow named Roy on the West Front and he gave up his life before he'd tell on a comrade.
Then he said, "You see how it is with me, Skeezeks, I'm in a peck of trouble and I've got to get those army duds on and toddle back to camp as soon as I can get there and face the music. I've got to make an excuse—I've got to get that blamed uniform pressed somehow—I suppose it's creased from the dampness in that locker. I've got to straighten matters out if I can. I just managed to save my life, and by heck, I'll be lucky if I can just save my honor and that's the plain truth."
"So you see I've got a lot to do," he said, "and you've got just the one thing to do, and that's a cinch. It's to keep your mouth shut—see? Suppose the old gent knew about this. Suppose my sister knew I was within a quarter of a mile of the house and didn't go to see them. You know what girls are."
I told him, "Sure, because I've got two sisters. And I bet they'd like you, too. I bet they'd say you were good looking." Then he began to laugh and he said, "Well, I bet I'd like them too, if they're anything like you. So now will you keep your mouth shut? Ever hear of the scouts' oath? The Indian scouts' oath, I mean—loyalty for better or worser? Don't say I was here. Don't say you know anything about me. Keep your mouth shut. If my name should be mentioned, keep still. You don't know anything. Nobody was here, see?"
I said, "Suppose Mr. Ellsworth or somebody should ask me?"
"Who's going to ask you?" he said; "you say nothing and they'll say nothing. I fought for my country, kiddo, and I've got two wounds. You don't want to spoil it all for me now, do you?"
I said, "I bet you're brave, anyhow."
"I'd rather face two German divisions than what I've got to face to-morrow," he said; "but if I know it's all right at this end, I won't worry. Are you straight?"
"I wouldn't tell," I told him; "cracky, why should I tell? And I can see you've got a lot of trouble and you're not exactly all to blame, anyway. Only I hope I'll see you again sometime because, anyway, whatever you did I kind of like you. It's one of our laws that a fellow has to be loyal. Only sometime will you tell me some of the things you did—I mean your adventures?"
"I'll tell you all about the jungles and the man-eating apes down in Central America," he said.
So then he went into the cabin in a big hurry and he took the key out of his pocket and he opened the locker and took out his uniform. It was all wrinkled and damp, but anyway, he looked fine in it, you can bet. After he got it all on and fixed right, he stuffed his old clothes into the place and locked it up again. I bet any girl would say he looked fine, that's one thing sure.
Just before he climbed over the railing he put his hand in his pocket and took out some change and he was in such a hurry that he dropped some of it and it went all over the deck. I started to pick it up for him, but he only said, "Never mind, let it go, you can have all you find, and here's a quarter to get a couple of sodas."
I said, "We don't take anything for a service, scouts don't."
"Well, you can have a soda on me, can't you?" he said, trying to make me take the quarter.
"If you want me to be loyal to you, I have to be loyal if I make a promise, don't I?" I said.
He said, "What promise?"
And I said, "I can't take anything for a service."
Then he hit me a rap on the shoulder and laughed and he punched me in the chest, not hard, only kind of as if to show me that he liked me. Then he said, "Bully for you, kiddo, you're one little trump." Then, all of a sudden he was gone.
Sometimes you can't tell just why you like a fellow, but, anyway, I liked him just the same.
TELLS ABOUT THE PAPER I FOUND
One thing, I bet it was Pee-wee Harris that the lieutenant heard talking, while he was hiding on shore. Anyway, it was Pee-wee that I heard first when they were on their way back—that's sure. You know how plain you can hear voices on the water. And believe me, before those fellows were half way out I knew all about the bandit of Red Hallow. That was the fellow in the movies, I suppose, and he must have been some bandit, because he saved a school teacher from about twenty other bandits, and shot them all. I guess everybody was shooting pistols at everybody else, like they mostly do in the movies. Pee-wee was sticking up for the poor school teacher, and it made me laugh because he hasn't got much use for school teachers on account of they're always keeping him in for talking. Anyway, what fun is there in everybody shooting pistols at each other. Me for stalking, that's what I say.
When Mr. Ellsworth came on board he said, "Well, Roy, alone in your glory, eh?" I didn't say anything and I hoped he wouldn't ask me any questions, because anyway, I wasn't going to lie, that's one sure thing. I asked him how the fellows liked the movies and he said, everybody got shot so they were all satisfied. He was just joking. He asked the fellows if they'd like to meet a lot of bandits in real life, and they said, "Good night, no." And then he said it was funny how they liked to meet them in the movies and all the fellows had to admit it was crazy. You wouldn't catch Mr. Ellsworth stopping us from going to the movies, but he always makes us feel silly afterward.
Pretty soon Grove Bronson, who is one of the Raving Ravens, came up to me and gave me a newspaper with a whole lot of ears of corn in it, and said we were going to have it for Sunday dinner.
Pee-wee said, "They're dandy big ears all right, and here's some cans of tongue."
"Good night," I told him, "I thought we had tongue enough with you here." Oh, you ought to have seen little Skinny McCord laugh. His face was all thin on account of his not being very strong and he never had much food until he got in with us, either. But it was fun to see him laugh whenever we got back at Pee-wee.
"There's some heads of cabbage, too," he said; "Doc's got them."
"Heads and ears and tongues," I said; "you ought to have brought some potatoes, so we'd have eyes." He thinks I'm funny, but I just say those things to make him laugh, so as he'll feel good.
Then I took all the stuff into the galley and put it in the food locker. I was just crunching up the newspaper that they brought the corn in, and was going to throw it out of the window, when I saw a heading that read: Fishermen Have Harrowing Adventure. Oh, boy, didn't I sit down on the barrel and read that article through! First, I looked to see the date of the paper and I saw it was a couple of days old. After I read that article I cut it out, because I knew I was going to tell you about all these things. So here it is now for you to read:
FISHERMEN HAVE HARROWING ADVENTURE
The fishing schooner Stella B arrived in port to-day with two castaways, who had drifted for three days in an open boat in the stormy waters off Rockaway. The two men, Mike Corby and Dan McCann, hail from Jersey, and were carried out to sea in their twenty-two foot launch from about a mile south of Sea Gate, where they were fishing.
Their engine broke down and their small boat, beaten by the waves, was leaking rapidly when they were picked up. One of the men was unconscious from lack of nourishment and the other in a state of utter exhaustion from bailing, in an all but futile effort to keep the frail little craft above water. After being resuscitated, one of the men gave a vague account of having encountered a waterlogged life-boat containing several people who had perished from exposure, and of certain papers and possessions found on one of them.
Later when a reporter made an effort to see the men for confirmation of this statement, neither could be found. Both are said to have carried considerable money on their persons, but this was explained by the exceptionally large catches of fish which they sold, during their fishing trip. No means of tracing them is known since the boat, in which one of them resumed his journey home after repairs, had no license number.
Maybe you think I didn't read that article twice. And it made me wonder a lot of things about that fishing trip. One thing, it looked as if they might have had more adventures than Lieutenant Donnelle had told me about, and maybe he didn't want to tell me everything—that's what I thought. Anyway, he didn't say anything about a life-boat, that's sure. But maybe he forgot to.
Just the same I wondered if maybe he had any other reason for being in such a hurry and so excited, kind of. Then I remembered how he said he would tell me all about it some day. Anyway, I said, he's had a lot of adventures, that's sure. You bet I'd like to have a lot of adventures like that.
TELLS ABOUT SKINNY'S MERIT BADGE
The next day was Sunday and two things happened, not counting dinner. Early in the morning we drew lots to see who'd be deck steward for the day, and Skinny was the one. That meant he'd have to sweep up the deck and wipe the rail and do everything outside like that. Anyway, there wasn't much to do.
At about twelve o'clock I went into the galley to cook dinner and Charlie Seabury and Brick Warner went along to help me. While we were peeling the potatoes, Skinny came in and showed me three or four dimes and some pennies, and said he found them on the deck, when he was sweeping. He said, "I've been to every fellow in the troop and nobody lost any money. Are they yours?"
I told him no and so did Brick and Charlie and we said he had better give them to Mr. Ellsworth. "One of them is a French coin," Brick said, and he showed it to me and I saw that it was.
"I guess one of the fellows dropped some change climbing over the rail," Charlie said, "and maybe didn't miss it on account of not losing all he had, hey?"
"He'd know if he had a French coin and lost it," Brick said.
It made me feel kind of funny, because all the while I knew where those coins came from. Anyway, Skinny went and gave them to Mr. Ellsworth and when we were all together at dinner, Mr. Ellsworth asked us if any fellow owned a French coin that was missing. Nobody said yes, and then he said, kind of funny like, "Well, I suppose this is what our young friend Mr. Walter Harris would call a mystery," and he said we'd put the money in the troop treasury. Then he gave it to Will Dawson (he's in my patrol), because Will is troop treasurer.
Somebody said, "How about the French coin? That's no use in the treasury." And Mr. Ellsworth said we'd give that to Skinny, because he found the money. He said it would be a kind of a merit badge to Skinny, for keeping his eyes open.
I was mighty glad Mr. Ellsworth didn't ask us if anybody knew anything about the money, because then—jiminy, I don't know what I would have done. Maybe it would have been all right to keep still because I wasn't dead sure whose it was. But all the while I knew I was sure. Maybe I would have said I knew only I didn't want to tell, hey? Anyway, he didn't ask and that was one good thing.
After dinner Skinny came to me all smiles and said, "I've got a merit badge, it's for keeping my eyes open, and will you bore a hole in it so I can wear it around my neck?" Oh, but that kid was happy.
I said, "Did you have a good dinner, kiddo?" And he said, "Yes, but will you bore a hole in it so I can wear it around my neck?" He looked awful thin and his scout suit didn't fit him and his belt wasn't tight enough and he didn't look anything like pictures you see of scouts—you know what I mean. And when he smiled it made wrinkles in his cheeks. One thing sure, he was different from all the rest of the fellows. Even if it was only a little thing that he was interested in, he got all excited about it, and his eyes got all bright and if he grabbed you by the arm you could feel that his hand was trembling—he'd be so excited. We made a lot of allowance for him, because he was sick and came out of the slums, but anyway, one trouble with him was, that Mr. Ellsworth couldn't make him study up scouting the way other fellows do. All of a sudden he'd go crazy for the gold medal or the eagle badge and you couldn't tell him that a fellow has to get to be a first class scout, before he can be an eagle scout. "He wants what he wants when he wants it," that's what Mr. Ellsworth said, and he only just laughed and said, "He'll hammer into shape all right, let him enjoy the trip."
And it was just like him—I mean about that French coin. He was always coming to me, too, as if I was scoutmaster and everything else. He began clutching me by the arm and saying, "I got it for keeping my eyes open, didn't I? I got it for being honest and asking all the scout guys, didn't I?"
I had to just pull his hand off my arm, he was holding so fast to it. Cracky, I didn't know what to tell him. Then I said, "I tell you what you do Alf." (I wasn't going to be calling him Skinny,) I said, "You go and ask Vic Norris if he's got an awl or a small gimlet—see? Then I'll fix it for you." Vic had charge of the locker where we kept the lights and oil and tools and all that kind of stuff.
Pretty soon he came back with an awning needle and asked me if it would do. I think he would have gone crazy if I had told him no.
I said, "Yes, I guess so. Come ahead, and let go my arm, do you hear? I'm not going to run away."
Then he said, "I like you better than any of the scout guys."
"We're not guys, we're just scouts," I told him; "you can cut out the guys. Didn't Mr. Ellsworth tell you that?"
The fellows were sitting around on the deck, reading. Some of them were sprawling around on the cabin roof, killing time and jollying Pee-wee. I don't know where Mr. Ellsworth was, but I guess he was inside writing letters. Anyway, it was nice and sunny and you could see the sun in the water. Over on shore, in St. George, I could hear a church bell and it sounded clear. There weren't many boats out, except sometimes the boats to Coney Island went by and we could hear the music. I thought I'd rather be where I was, anyway. Maybe it was because it was Sunday and because it was so still all around that I had a good idea. Anyway, I thought it was a good idea, but good night, it got me into a kind of a scrape.
That's one thing about me, I'm always getting in scrapes.
So then I took Skinny and we climbed in through the galley window. I guess nobody noticed us; nobody said anything except El Sawyer. He asked me if I was going to get supper.
"Supper!" I said. "Didn't you just have dinner?" Honest, that fellow never thinks of anything except eats.
When we got into the galley, I said to Skinny, "Let's sit up on the board so we can look out and see the bay." So we sat on the board that was on two barrels. I used it to open cans on and slice bread and all that. And I always washed it good and clean, you can bet. Oh, but it was nice sitting there and it was just as quiet as it is in the woods. Sometimes a motor boat would go by and we could hear it chugging.
"One thing, nobody'll bother us here," I said, "some fellows don't like Sunday, but I do."
Skinny said, "I like Christmas best, because rich people bring baskets of food."
Cracky, I felt awful sorry for him.
TELLS HOW SKINNY AND I GOT TOGETHER
First I bored a hole in the coin and hung it around Skinny's neck. He was all excited and said, "Now I've got a regular merit badge, ain't I?"
I said, "No you haven't, but it's a good badge, all right" Then I said, "Now I'm going to tell you some things about merit badges. You get merit badge because you're able to do special things, see? You get them for being able to do things that some other fellows can't do—kind of. Not exactly that," I told him, "because most fellows can do the things if they try hard enough. But, anyway, there isn't any merit badge for keeping your eyes open. Mr. Ellsworth was only joking about that. And especially you don't get any merit badge for being honest, because that would be too easy. If you could get one for that, gee-whiz, all the fellows would have them, that's sure."
He said, "Ain't it good to be honest?"
I told him sure it was, but it was too easy and that all the scouts were honest anyway, even without badges. Then I said, "If you wore that on account of being honest, that would insult all the other fellows, wouldn't it?" He just stared at me, but didn't say anything. "So you have to be careful," I told him, "not to be saying that you have a reward for being honest, see?"
Then I told him about there not being any badge for keeping his eyes open and finding things. "But there's a badge for something else like that," I said, "only you can't get it yet, because you have to learn a lot of things first, and it's a lot of fun learning them, too."
He said, "Can I learn them right now?"
I said, "No, but you'll learn a lot of them up in camp." Then I told them that the one that had most to do with keeping his eyes open was the stalking badge. So then I got out the Handbook and showed him the picture of it and read him what it said. Gee williger, I don't see where there was any harm in that, do you? I read him the three conditions and the four sub-divisions.
"So you see, that means keeping your eyes open all right," I told him, "because you have to be all the time watching for signs and tracks in the snow or in the dirt, so as you can tell where a bird went, maybe, and sneak up and watch him."
"That's one thing I can do," he said, "sneak. I'm a little sneak, everybody said so."
Good night, that kid was the limit!
"I don't mean that way," I told him, "but you have to stalk. That means to follow a bird or an animal and watch them without them knowing anything about it—see?"
He said, all excited like, "I can sneak up on 'em, so then can I have the badge—for sneaking—like you said?"
Gee whiz, I just sat back and laughed. Then I said, "Stalking badge; not sneaking, but stalking. That's the badge you're after. So that's the one you want to think about. Don't think about a whole lot of things but just think about that."
He said, "I like you a whole lot, and that's the one I'm going to get, because you say so."
Just then I noticed Stut Moran (we call him that because he stutters) going past the window. Pretty soon I noticed him passing again and walking very slow.
"You just keep your mind on that one badge and remember those letters," I said; "and for goodness' sake don't talk about badges for sneaking. Because, you take a tip from me, you can only do one thing at a time."
He said, "The poultry badge is a good one. It's got a picture of a rooster on it."
"You should worry about pictures of roosters," I said, "just keep thinking about that one badge, you take my advice. Because you're good on keeping your eyes open and that's the badge for you. And you're small and kind of thin and that's good in stalking, too, because you can hide behind trees and things." Then I said, "If you'll make me a promise that you'll just think about that one badge and not about a lot of others all at once, when we get up to camp, I'll make you a basket out of a peach-pit to hang around your neck."
Just then the door of the galley opened and in came Connie Bennett. Right behind him were Vic Norris and Stut Moran. Connie is leader of the Elks and the other two fellows are Elks, too. Right away he began and I saw he was mad.
"That's a good thing you're talking about—sneaking" he said.
I said, "What do you mean?"
"He's getting a good lesson in sneaking all right," he shot right back at me.
"Gee whiz, I don't know what you're talking about," I said.
"Oh, no," he said, all the while sort of sneering at me; "I suppose you didn't bring him in here so you could be where nobody else heard you. Maybe you think you own the galley."
"Sure I brought him in here so we could be alone," I said.
"Sure you did," he said, "just so you could start him after the stalker's badge. We heard you make him promise to go after that and not think about anything else. He's easy, that kid is."
"Why should I—" I began.
"You know well enough why," he said; "who started the rule about not having two of the same merit badges in a patrol?"
"I did," I told him.
"Yes," he said, "and now you're trying to rush this kid through just so you can get even with Vic. What have you got to do with our patrol anyway? Don't you think we're old enough to take care of our new members? All because you and Vic were on the outs last summer."
Jingo, that made me mad. "I forgot all about that," I said; "didn't Vic treat me to a soda only last week? It wasn't a quarrel anyway. I should worry about who has the stalker's badge in your patrol. I didn't even know Vic was after it. You know yourself the kid hasn't begun his second-class tests yet. What chance does he stand if Vic is after it? I only thought I'd try to do a good turn. Cracky, it's hard enough to think up anything to do out here on a Sunday afternoon—you know that yourself. I was waiting all day for somebody to fall overboard, so I could jump in and save them. You're a lot of old grandmothers in your patrol. If that's all you've got to complain about, you'd better go and sweep the wind off the deck."
"You mean to tell me to go and sweep the wind off the deck?" Connie said, coming right up close to me.
"Sure," I said, "and when you get through with that go and clean the reflection out of the water. I should worry. Here, take your new member. If I'd known Vic was after the badge, I wouldn't have said a word about it, you can bet. You ought to know me well enough to know I was just giving him a few tips. Did I have any quarrel with you, Vic?"
Honest, would you believe it, none of them said a word except, "Come ahead, Skinny," and the poor kid followed them out, not knowing what to think, I guess.
"End of a perfect day," I said.
TELLS ABOUT MY MERIT BADGE
Wasn't that a crazy thing? Just because last summer I put a stalking sign on one of Vic's trees. How did I know it was his? As soon as he told me, I marked off my claim the same as any scout would. Maybe I ought to have remembered that he was out for the stalker's badge, but believe me, I have enough to remember with the Silver Fox patrol.
Gee whiz, nobody can say that I ever butt in when a patrol is breaking in a tenderfoot. That's one thing I wouldn't do. I wouldn't even have bothered to tell you about it at all, except that it had momentous consequences—that's what Pee-wee said.
At supper there was a big round flat piece of wood tied with a rope at my place and on it was printed "Sneaker's Badge." It must have been cut out of a piece of wood from a grocery box, because I noticed on the other side of it, it said "Honey Boy" I suppose it meant some kind of cookies or crackers or soap maybe. So just for the fun of it I stood up and said.
"Friends and enemies: Ever since about five o'clock this afternoon I've been hunting for a chance to do a good turn. The first one I tried to do didn't pan out. So here's my chance to do a good turn and I have to thank the honorable Elk Patrol for giving me the chance." Then I turned the big wooden medal over so the other side showed and everybody read "Honey Boy" and began to laugh. Even Vie Norris had to laugh. "If it wasn't for the Elks I'd have to go to bed without doing a good turn."
Crinkums, you ought to have seen Mr. Ellsworth laugh. All the time he knew something was wrong, I guess, but he never bothered with things like that. "Settle your own disputes," that's what he always said. The only fellow that didn't take it as a joke was Connie Bennett and just for that reason you'll have to hear more about it.
One thing more happened that day. When it was nearly dark Westy Martin (he's my special chum) came to me and said, "There's a boat coming this way and I think it's coming here." I went over to the rail where all of the fellows were watching and there was a rowboat with two men in it, headed straight for us. Pretty soon they came alongside and, oh, boy, I was so shaky that I just held onto the rail with my hand trembling. Because they had badges on and I knew they were men belonging to the government.
Good night, I said to myself, it's all up now; they're after Lieutenant Donnelle. They're going to search the house-boat and ask a lot of questions and I'll have to tell.
When they got on board one of them said, "We just want to give you the once over, mate."
Oh, didn't my heart go down to my feet. I thought it would be all right if I didn't stay around because they couldn't ask me any questions if I wasn't there. And I was on the side of Lieutenant Donnelle, I didn't care what. So I went into the galley and began straightening things out there. After a little while Westy came and stuck his head in through the window.
"Are they gone?" I asked him.
"Sure," he said.
Then I said, "What did they want?"
"They were only just inspectors," he said; "and they wanted to know if we had power."
"You mean an engine?" I asked him. "Sure," he said, "because if a boat has a fixed engine, it has to have a license and a certain kind of whistle and bell and lights and all that."
"A fixed engine?" I said, "if we had one it probably wouldn't be fixed."
"They meant a stationary engine," he said, "you crazy Indian."
"What else did they say?" I asked, because I was still kind of nervous.
"They told us we should have a life preserver for everybody on board and a fog horn."
Cracky, wasn't I relieved. "Isn't Pee-wee fog horn enough?" I said.
Just the same it started me thinking about Lieutenant Donnelle again, and after I went to bed I kept on thinking about him, so I couldn't get to sleep. One thing, I knew I liked him a lot, that was sure. But now since I knew about the new law, that a motor boat has to have a license, I wondered why Jake Holden didn't have one and have the number on his boat, like everybody has to. Anyway, it was lucky for him that he didn't have any number on, because now they'd have a hard job finding him, especially because I knew he didn't give his right name. And then I began wondering about the adventure that Jake and Lieutenant Donnelle had. One thing sure, it must be pretty bad to be out on the ocean like that in a little boat and be almost dead. I was wondering if there was any more to it than Lieutenant Donnelle told me, maybe. Anyway, he'd had lots of adventures in his life, that was sure. I was glad he said we'd go on a hike some day.
After a while, when I couldn't get to sleep, I got up and went out on the deck and sat in one of the big steamer chairs. Oh, it was fine. It was all pitch dark and all you could see were the lights on the boats. All of a sudden I heard a sound and saw a face and the hair round the face was all hanging down and it gave me a scare, kind of.
Then I saw it was Skinny. He said, "Can I sit down alongside of you?"
I said, "You ought to be in bed," and he said, "I can't go to sleep because I keep thinking and I want to stay right near you. I ain't mad at you, anyway. Were you thinking about how they got mad at you?"
All the while he came closer and he took hold of my arm with his hand and his hand was hot—even through my khaki shirt I could feel it. And his eyes didn't look like the other fellows' eyes.
I said, "I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about a fellow that's a hero. He's a big fellow. You know what a hero is?" I said.
"Are you a hero?" that's what he said. That's just what he said.
Anyway, one thing I didn't know then, and that was that Skinny was going to have more to do with Lieutenant Donnelle than I was. Poor little kid, he didn't know it either. That was one good thing.
TELLS ABOUT OUR TRIP UP THE HUDSON
He said, "If they get mad when I talk to you, I'll talk to you on the sly. It's all right to like a fellow that isn't in your patrol, isn't it?"
"Sure it is," I told him, "you have to like everybody. But you do what they tell you and then nobody'll get mad."
He said, "The swimming badge is a good one, isn't it?"
"It's a dandy one," I said. Then he told me that was the one they wanted him to try for. He said, "Can I try for it now?"
I thought I'd better watch my step—safety first, hey? So I said, "You ask Connie. I shouldn't think there'd be any objection to trying now; then after you've passed your first class tests you could just scoop the badge right up, see?"
"I looked at all the pictures of the badges," he said, "and I like the one with the picture of a rooster best. Is the swimming one better than that?"
I said, "Yes, because every scout has got to know how to swim. Anyway, Connie knows best; and he's your patrol leader, so you do whatever he tells you to."
"Will I be able to beat everybody swimming?" he said.
I told him maybe, if he tried hard, and then I told him he'd better go to bed. He said he wouldn't be able to sleep now, on account of thinking about the swimming badge. Anyway, he went and I noticed how skinny his legs were. It made me feel awful sorry for him, because his suit didn't fit him and looked kind of funny. His eyes were funny, anyway, and gave me the fidgets, but in the dark you could just see them shine. I told him to go inside and go to sleep and not think about the swimming badge.
One thing about Skinny, I knew he'd never make a good all-around scout, like some fellows. You know what I mean. Now you take Artie Van Arlen— he's got eleven merit badges and he's got the bronze medal. Maybe you'd say photography was his bug, but he never went crazy about it, that's one sure thing. Take me, I've got nine merit badges—the more the merrier, I don't care.
But Skinny could only think about one thing and he'd go clean crazy about it. Mr. Ellsworth says he's intense—hanged if I know what that is. All I know is that he couldn't think about a lot of things. He just couldn't read the Handbook through. All of a sudden, when he'd be reading it, he'd see something that he liked, and good night, he'd forget everything else. Mr. Ellsworth said Skinny would never do anything except one thing, and most likely that would be a big stunt and if he failed, it would kill him. I guess he was a kind of a genius, like—you know what I mean. Either that or he was half crazy. I could never make him out, I know that.
One thing, I was mighty glad he was going in for the swimming badge and I hoped the Elks would help him. He'd sure have the best swimmer in the troop to help him and that was Hunt Ward; he can swim better than any Raven, or Silver Fox, either—I have to admit that. Especially it's good to go in for the swimming badge right away as soon as you join a troop, even though you can't get your award till you pass your first class tests, because, gee, every fellow ought to know how to swim, that's one sure thing.
The next morning good and early we could see the General Grant (that's Captain Savage's tug), heading across the bay straight for us and as soon as it got close enough, we gave Captain Savage a good cheer. Captain Savage was standing up in the little house smoking his pipe, and he shouted to us and said he was delayed on account of getting his propeller wet. That was just like him, he was always joking.
Then he shouted to us. "It's a wonder you wouldn't get into shallow water; do you know how many feet you've got?" Pee-wee shouted back, "Two; what do you think we are, quadrupeds?" Laugh! Honest, that kid is a scream.
I guess we must have been in pretty shallow water, because Captain Savage made us all hustle throwing ropes and winding them around thing-um-bobs—you know what I mean. And he was in such a hurry that he didn't come on the house-boat at all. But he said we had a mighty neat, comfortable craft, and that it looked as if it might have slid off some street or other into the water. He was awful funny.
Pretty soon we were sailing up the Hudson alongside of the General Grant. The day before I thought that when the tug came it would tow us behind with a long rope and it seemed funny like, to be tied fast alongside the tug. It seemed kind of as if the house-boat was being arrested—you know how I mean.
Anyway, I liked that way best because we could be always climbing back and forth, and believe me, most of us were on the tug all the time. I guess maybe Captain Savage liked Pee-wee. Anyway, he called for Pee-wee and me to go up in the pilot house, and it was fine to watch him steer and pull the rope that made the whistle blow, Jiminety, didn't we jump the first time we heard it!
Captain Savage said, "Yer see it don't cost me nuthin' fur a blow-out, as you might say. Now, if this here old craft was an automobile, how much would I have to pay for tires with a blow-out every minute, huh?" Then he'd look awful funny like, at Pee-wee.
You can bet Captain Savage was nice to us fellows and we all liked him. He had to stop at Peekskill and he took us all ashore for a peek— that's what he said. And he treated us all to sodas. You get dandy raspberry sodas in Peekskill.
After that we started for Poughkeepsie and that was as far as he was going to tow us, because he had to tow a barge down to New York. But, any way, we should worry, there isn't any tide above Poughkeepsie and any dinky little kicker could tow us up to Catskill Landing from there. "Believe me," I said, "if there are any ways around here, we'll find them." Finding ways to do things is our middle name.
We had Captain Savage on the house-boat to lunch with us and Mr. Ellsworth made a speech and said we were all much obliged to him and, oh, boy, when that tug started down the river again, didn't we stand on the cabin roof of the house-boat and cheer Captain Savage. He had about six blow-outs before he got very far—just answering our cheers.
Oh, cracky, but he was one fine man.
TELLS ABOUT SKINNY'S SWIMMING LESSON
I don't know what to call this chapter. Maybe it will come without calling, hey? Anyway, I should worry. Maybe I'll think of a name when I'm finished with it. It will be mostly about Skinny.
There isn't much more to tell about our trip to Catskill Landing, but you just wait, and there'll be a lot to tell you about our cruise down again. Don't be in a hurry—just you wait. More haste, less speed. But take it from me, you don't get much speed out of a house-boat. A house-boat belongs to the merry-go-round family, that's what Mr. Ellsworth says.
That night we kept the boat tied up to the dock in Poughkeepsie and took a hike around the town, while Mr. Ellsworth tried to find somebody who would tow us up to Catskill Landing. When we got back, he said he had been talking with a man who had a little steam yacht and would tow us as far as Catskill Landing. He said it wouldn't cost anything, because anyway he was going up through Lake Champlain and Lake George and he was strong for the Boy Scouts. You hear lots of men say that. But, one thing, he wasn't going for two days and so we'd have to stay tied up in Poughkeepsie waiting for him. You see we were a kind of a tramp boat, but what did we care as long as we got to camp some time or other. Scouts are tramps anyway, hey?
So now I have to tell you about that two days we spent in Poughkeepsie and most of the time we spent in teaching Skinny to swim. Of course, that was up to the Elks and you can bet I didn't interfere, nor any of my patrol either, but I was mighty glad to see how easy it was for him to learn.
"That kid is half fish," Doc Carson said to me.
"No wonder," I said, "most all his life has been spent in the marshes. He's going to be a cracker-jack, you see."
"He'll walk away with that badge when he once gets started," Westy said.
"You mean he'll swim away with it," I said; "gee-williger, look how that little codger can dive."
One thing, there was a dandy place for learning, that's sure.
We put the skiff into the water and a couple of the Elks rowed around near the house-boat, keeping near, while Hunt Ward showed Skinny the strokes. The rest of us sat along the cabin roof, cheering just so's the kid would be encouraged. He looked awfully thin and little in his bathing suit and whenever he climbed up to the deck of the house-boat the wet cloth stuck tight to him and made him look, oh, I don't know, kind of like a marsh rat, as you may say. That's what he always said people called him, a swamp rat, and I guess he was even kind of proud of it.
One sure thing, he was game. And he was just the same in learning to swim as he was in everything else; he got all excited and wanted to go too fast. As soon as he got the hang of it and could manage a few strokes, good night, he wanted to swim across the river. He started right off before the fellows in the boat noticed him and was heading across stream. Two or three times we heard him sputtering and shouting, "Now can I have that badge?"
Late that afternoon they let him dive off the deck. It was low and it didn't make much of a dive. Of course, he didn't dive right, he only just jumped and went kerflop into the water, and he had us all laughing. As soon as he found out how much fun it was, he kept climbing up and splashing into the water again; oh, boy, it was as good as a circus to see him. Then he'd go swimming to the skiff and climb in just like a little eel, and sit there shivering.
You can bet that kid is going to have the swimming badge all right, we all said; the trouble is going to be to hold him back. And we were right, too, because when he came up on the cabin roof to get dry, all of a sudden, before any of us knew it, he was over at the edge and dived off before Mr. Ellsworth had a chance to call to him. That was sure too much of a dive for a beginner, for if he hit the water face down and flat, good night, that might have been the end of him. The skiff was hauled up then so Hunt Ward dived in after him, but he had to swim some to catch him and it was mighty funny to see them.
That night Mr. Ellsworth gave Skinny a good lecture and told him he mustn't do things like that until he was told to, but I guess Skinny didn't understand. When I saw Mr, Ellsworth sitting alone on the deck after dark, I went up and sat down and began talking to him. I often do that.
I said, "I guess Skinny's going to get the swimming badge, all right."
"Yes, I guess he is," that's what Mr. Ellsworth said, "Skinny's too much for me. If the boys would only teach him a little scouting, I'd be better pleased. He wants to be a swimmer now; he's not thinking about being a scout. He thinks of the badge only as something to wear."
"I tried to teach him some things out of the Handbook," I said, "but the Elks didn't like it. I tried to tell him some things about scouting and all I got was a good lecture from Connie. Nix on teaching fellows in other patrols."
Mr. Ellsworth seemed awfully worried, kind of; he just sat thinking a minute. Then he said, "I'm afraid Skinny is going to be hard to tame. He'll make a fine swimmer and a fine stalker—"
I said, "He calls that sneaking."
Mr. Ellsworth laughed and said, "But the principal thing is to make him a good scout. Has he done any good turns?"
I said, "The only good turns I know about, are the good turns he made in diving; he turns every which way."
"Well, I hope he can forget about swimming long enough to eat his supper," Mr. Ellsworth said.
But just the same Skinny didn't.
TELLS ABOUT SKINNY AND THE ELKS
Well, that was the way it was with Skinny and I could see that the Elks were rushing him through, so that he'd get the badge. That used to be one trouble with the Elks and I don't care if they do know I said it. They got one good lesson to cure them, that's sure. The trouble with them was they were making a collection of badges and when you're out for badges, you skip at lot of pages in the Handbook, that's sure.
The next day I said to Connie Bennett—this is just what I said; I said, "I hope you won't get mad at me again if I say something about Skinny, because, anyway, it's none of my business, that's sure. But as long as you fellows are busy teaching him stunts and things, I don't see that there would be any harm in it, if I read some things in the Handbook to him—some other kind of things, I mean."
He said, "What kind of things?"
"Oh, just about the laws and things like that, like about being honest and obedient—you know."
"You keep your hands off my patrol," that's just what he said; "and you needn't start hinting that the Elks are dishonest—"
"Who's hinting that?" I said, kind of mad; "you remind me of an airplane, you're always going up in the air."
"If any of my patrol are dishonest, they'll be thrown out," he said, "and maybe they'll be welcome in the Silver Foxes."
"Sure," I said, "we make a specialty of burglars and pickpockets; we eat 'em alive. All I was asking you was that you let me teach Skinny some of the 'idea' stuff—you know what I mean."
"You're jealous because he's a genius," Connie said; "and you want to fill him up with grandmother stuff. Why don't you let the kid alone? We'll take care of him."
"All right," I said; "I should worry. Only there's no use getting mad; we're all one troop."
"Yes, but we're three separate patrols," he said.
"United we stand, divided we sprawl," I said. Then he walked away. That was the second day at Poughkeepsie and most all day the Elks were busy turning Skinny into a fish. Some of the rest of us went up to Metzger's Candy Store to get some jaw-breakers. Did you ever eat those? Pee-wee was quiet for an hour munching one. The licorice ones are best. In the afternoon we sat along the cabin roof watching Skinny and the Elks. Good night, you should have seen that kid! Every time the fellows in the boat had to row after him, because he'd go swimming away on his own hook. He never paid any attention to what they told him.
"Throw him a jaw-breaker," Grove Bronson said; "just for fun."
"Nix," I said; "you don't catch me interfering with the buzz-saw. Twice was enough. When I try any polishing, I'll polish up the Silver Foxes."
"Go ahead, throw him one," Grove said to Pee-wee. But I guess Pee-wee didn't have any jawbreakers to spare. His cheeks were sticking out and there was licorice all over his lips, and he said—this is the way it sounded: "I—ooo—go—to—goo—to—are—" something like that, honest.
"Go in and wash your face," Doc said; "you look like a minstrel actor in a rainstorm."
"Yu—sht—p—m—nd—r—n—business." Pee-wee blurted out. Crackey, I thought I'd die.
Pretty soon Doc Carson (he's a Raven) threw a jaw-breaker out into the water and Skinny got it before it went down.
"What do you know about that little water snake," El Sawyer said. Then he shouted, "Bully for you, Skinny!"
I said, "You'd better look out, you'll get yourself in trouble."
"What do I care for the Elks?" he said.
"That's all right," I said; "Connie's got Skinny copyrighted, all rights reserved."
Then, all of a sudden, Wig Weigand shouted, "Look at that, will you? Look!"
We could just see Hunt Ward reach out of the skiff for Skinny, when all of a sudden he disappeared and came up about twenty feet from the skiff. Everybody began laughing and I guess the Elks were mad, because they thought we were just sitting up there kidding them.
Right then I heard Mr. Ellsworth calling out from just in back of us, "Take him in the skiff and bring him aboard, Huntley."
"Now—e—ng—t—gt—cld—down," Pee-wee said, munching away on a jaw breaker.
"You look as if you'd been gargling a bottle of ink," I told him. "Don't talk, you can't do two things at once."
Pretty soon Skinny came up the ladder to the cabin roof where we were all sitting. His wet bathing suit stuck to him and it made him look terribly thin, and his hair was all streaked and the water was dripping from his face. But anyway, his eyes were bright and all excited—I never saw another fellow that had eyes like that. He had the piece of candy in his hand and it was all melting from the water and his hand was black and sticky. Jiminy, he looked awful small and skinny alongside of Mr. Ellsworth, and I had to feel sorry for him as soon as Mr. Ellsworth began to speak.
Skinny looked up at him and said, "I got it—I dived and got it—see—I saved it—I didn't eat it. I can swim under the water. Now can I have the badge?" Cracky, the way he stared, if I'd had the badge, I'd have torn it off my arm and handed it to him, honest I would.
Mr. Ellsworth just looked at him and said, "No, you may not have the badge. Before you can have the badge for swimming you must be a better scout. You must learn to be obedient. You heard one of your patrol tell you not to go under water. You heard your patrol leader tell you to get into the skiff. Do you think you know better than they do, what is best for you?"
Even still he didn't pay any attention, he was so excited. "Now am I a hero?" he said.
"No, you are not a hero," Mr. Ellsworth told him; "and you will go inside and get your uniform on. The first duty of a scout is to obey his leader, and you have failed to do that. You are very much mistaken as to the meaning of heroism, and it wasn't necessary to bring us any proof that you got the candy or whatever that is. Scouts are not in the habit of lying and deceiving. We expect always to believe you without proof. Throw that away and go inside and get your clothes on."
Gee, maybe he was right, but anyway, I felt mighty sorry for Skinny. His eyes were all full of tears and he went over to the rail and threw the sticky jaw-breaker out into the water. I I could see by his neck that he was gulping and trying not to cry and, oh, boy, it made me feel bad. It seemed as if it was always that way with him—that he had to be disappointed and that things never came out right with him. Anyway, I said to myself, it's Connie's fault, and all the rest of the Elks are to blame, too. Why didn't they tell him in the beginning about those other things. All they cared about was showing their new member off to the rest of the troop, and you see how it ended.
First I thought I'd go in and talk to Skinny and tell him he was a wonder, for that was just what he was, and Mr. Ellsworth knew it, too. Then I decided that I'd better not on account of Connie. And anyway, I wouldn't have any right to go in and spoil what our scoutmaster said, would I?
TELLS YOU HOW TO GET TO TEMPLE CAMP
Gee whiz, I wouldn't say anything against the Elks, that's sure, because they're all peachy scouts when you come right down to it, but I have to admit that they're crazy about stunts. They have more merit badges in their patrol than there are in the Ravens and Silver Foxes put together. Hunt Ward's sleeve looks like one of those Indian totem poles, there are so many badges on it. Anyway, I should worry, we have twenty-two badges in our patrol, and more good turns in the troop book than either of the other patrols. That's what counts, too—good turns.
The trouble with the Elks was that every time they got a new fellow, he must take a header for some badge or other and most always he would have two or three stunt badges (that's merit badges, you know) waiting for him when he passed his first class tests. "Begin at the beginning," that's what Mr. Ellsworth always said, and he says it's more important to know the scout oath and follow it, than it is to get the eagle, award. Connie's a good patrol leader all right; gee, nobody can say he isn't, but he's crazy about stunts and merit badges. He always seemed to think that that was all there was to scouting. But believe me, there's many a girl wears a sailor hat who screams when she gets in a boat. Anyway, I'm not going to be knocking anybody.
Well, the next day in the middle of the night—I mean the next night early in the morning—I mean when it was just getting light, after the night after the next day—we got to Catskill Landing, and oh, boy! wasn't I glad! We tied the houseboat to an old pier maybe a couple of hundred yards above the regular landing, and had a good swim and then breakfast before we started up to camp. Mr. Ellsworth let Skinny go in, but he told him to be careful not to disobey his leaders or he'd have to come out.
Jimmy, it was funny to see that kid. I don't know how to tell you about it, but he seemed to kind of swim different from the other fellows, and he couldn't help getting excited. They threw pieces of stick for him to get, and he would swim out and bring them in in his mouth just like a dog, and then wait for more, all anxious like. One thing about Skinny I noticed, and that was that all the fellows, even in his own patrol, got a lot of fun out of him, making him do things, but nobody exactly seemed to make friends with him. Anyway, I guess he didn't care, he was always so crazy about what he was doing. Even a lot of summer people stood around on the shore, watching him in the water and saying he was a wonder. I guess they didn't know what to do with themselves, hey? Mostly that's the way it is with summer people.
I flopped some flapjacks for breakfast and El Sawyer (he's a Raven) hung one of them around his neck for a souvenir. He's a fresh kid. Maybe you think it's easy to flop flapjacks—I should worry.
Oh, boy, now comes the best part of this whole story. As soon as we could get our stuff into the duffel bags and the boat all tied fast, we started out on our hike for Temple Camp. You can bet I always like to hike, but early in the morning, oh, it's simply great. Some fellows can drink sodas early in the morning but I can't, but anyway, early hikes are my middle name. You know, just when the sun is coming up, all red like, and peeking over the hill, just as if it was stalking.
Oh, boy, if scouts could only sneak up as quiet as all that!
Now the way you get to Temple Camp is to hike up through Catskill village till you get to the old turnpike road, and then go straight along that till you come to a big boarding house, where there are a lot of people sitting on the porch waiting for breakfast or dinner or supper, or time to go to bed. Then you hit the road up through the woods till you come to a turtle. I guess he isn't there now, but anyway, he was there last year. Then you cut up through the woods and follow the scouts' signs, and you'll come out at Leeds—that's a village. You'll see all the summer people waiting for their mail at the post office. Some of them will say, "Oh, there go some boy scouts, aren't they cute?" They always say that. There's a stationery store there too, where you can buy fishhooks and marshmallows, and other things to eat. I don't mean you eat fishhooks.
Anyway, you go down Main Street till you come to a smell like rotten wood and then you turn in where the willow trees are and you come to an old sawmill. If you holloa from there, they can hear you at camp. Then you cut through the woods and follow the trail till all of a sudden you come plunk out on the edge of the lake and it's all surrounded by woods. That's Black Lake, and believe me, black is my favorite color when it comes to lakes. Then you go across in the boats to Temple Camp.
Mr. John Temple started Temple Camp. He's rich and owns a lot of railroads and things. He used to be mad at the scouts, but after a while when he saw what kind of fellows scouts are, he got glad at them and started Temple Camp. He's awful grouchy when you first see him, but you should worry about that. Once, when he was out west about some railroads, he saw Jeb Rushmore, who was a trapper and all that, and he was getting old, so Mr. Temple made him come to Temple Camp to be camp manager and live there. Oh, boy, you're going to see him in just a minute and I can hardly wait.
TELLS ALL ABOUT OUR ROW ON BLACK LAKE
So that's the way we went to Temple Camp, but there are short cuts to the Hudson besides that When we got near to the lake we all got anxious—you know how a fellow is when he's almost to a place he's been thinking about a lot.
Doc Carson said, "I see the water is still wet." That was just to jolly Pee-wee.
"That's because of the recent rains," I said.
"The which?" Artie asked me.
"You think you're smart talking about recent rains, don't you?" Pee-wee shouted. "You got that out of a book."
"I bet there'll be a lot of troops there this summer," El Sawyer said.
Pretty soon I saw he was right, too, because five boats came across to get us and there was a strange scout in every single one of them. Uncle Jeb was waiting at the landing on the other side to meet us, and oh, cracky, didn't it look good to see the big pavilion and the tents and patrol cabins upside down in the water. There were a lot of scouts waiting too, and I could see the camp was pretty full.
Uncle Jeb said, "Wall, Roay"—that's just the way he talks, slow like; "haow's all the boys from Bridgeboro? I reckon little Pee-wee ain't growed at all. Hain't you never goin' ter grow, Pee-wee? And Artie and Grovey, and El, and Hunter Ward and, let's see, Vic Norris—every plaguy one of yer here. Ain't none of yer died or gone off ter war, hey? And there's Connover Bennett, too, large as life, and still crazy about raisin cake, I reckon. Wall, wall, it's good ter see ye all."
I said, "It's good to see you, too, Uncle Jeb, gee, all the fellows were crazy to see you, that's one sure thing."
"And still making them flapjacks, hey?" he said; "I remember when one uv them New Hampshire scouts scaled one uv them flapjacks uv your'n across the lake. I reckon you're the same old Roay that put the mosquito dope in the biscuits. Yer remember that?" Cracky, I'm not going to tell you anything about my past life, but summer before last up there—oh, boy!
Most of the morning we rested up and got our patrol cabins cleaned out and all fixed up, and in the afternoon we banged around and got acquainted with some of the new troops.
Just before supper, Westy and I went down for a swim and there were Connie Bennett and two or three of the Elks diving with Skinny. A whole lot of fellows were standing around watching. Most of them laughed at Skinny, but they all had to admit he was a crackerjack. I knew the Elks were just kind of showing him off and putting him through a lot of freak stunts just to get their name up around the camp.
After supper, Westy and I and a new fellow in an Ohio troop were rowing around near the shore. He was an awful nice fellow—quiet like—just like me, only different. All of a sudden we noticed Skinny standing on the shore and he called out and asked us if we'd take him in.
"Better watch your step," Westy said; "safety first."
"Where's your patrol?" I called to him.
"They went on a hike," he called back; "can I go with you?"
"You go and ask Mr. Ellsworth," I said; "and if he says it's all right, come ahead."
We could see him scooting pell mell around the edge of the cooking shack, his spindle legs as thin as sticks. Bert Winton (that was the new fellow) watched him, kind of laughing, and then he said, "Queer little codger, isn't he?"
I said, "Yes, he's new and he came out of the slums. I guess he'll never work in harness; that's what our scoutmaster says."
"Swims like an eel," Winton said; "why didn't they take him hiking, I wonder?"
"Hanged if I know," Westy said; "he's going to win them the swimming badge, all right. But he doesn't seem to be friends with them exactly. They make good use of him, anyway."
"Kind of a performing bear, hey?" Bert said.
"Something like that," I told him; "I wish I had him in my patrol, I know that."
"Guess he wouldn't fit into any patrol," Winton said; "he seems to be a kind of an odd number."
Pretty soon Skinny came running back shouting for all he was worth, and believe me, he did look like an odd number. His streaky hair was all down over his forehead and his eyes were like a couple of camp fires. He was shouting: "Don't go, don't go! I can go with you"
We rowed over to shore and as he climbed in I could see that he was trembling all over, just for fear we wouldn't wait for him, I suppose. "I was going to swim out to you, I was," he said; "if you didn't wait."
"You wouldn't want your scout suit to get all wet, would you?" I said. "Sit down and don't be so excited."
"I like the water better than hiking, anyway," he said; "and I like you best of all."
I said, "The pleasure is mine," and then we all laughed.
"You can make fun of me all you want," he said; "I don't care. I told them they could make fun of me all they want if they'd let me go with them, but they wouldn't let me go."
"They wouldn't, huh?" Bert Winton said, and he studied Skinny awful funny like.
"When I win them the badge, then they'll take me, won't they?" he said.
"I guess so," I told him.
"I'm going to win the cup for them in the contest, too," he said; "I'm going to win it for them before I go home. Then I'll be friends with them. I told them I'd win it if you didn't try for it."
"You should worry about me," I said, "I can swim, but good night, I'm not in the contest class. And maybe you're not either, so don't be too sure."
He said, "I'm going to win them the cup, and I'm going to win them the badge. But I don't have to get to be a first class scout guy to win the cup, I don't. It's made of silver. Once my father stole a lot of silver. It's all fancy, that cup."
"I know all about the cup, Alf," I said; (because, gee, I didn't like to be calling him Skinny) "but don't call the fellows scout guys. Just scouts—that's enough." He just looked at me kind of wild, as if he didn't understand, the same as he always did when anybody called him down, or tried to tell him something.
For a few minutes nobody spoke and we just rowed around. Then Westy said, "So that's their game, is it?"
I knew well enough what he meant. Every season Mr. Temple offers a silver cup to the best swimmer at Temple Camp. Once Mr. Temple had a son who got drowned because he couldn't swim, and that's why he's so interested in fellows being good swimmers. That silver cup hasn't got anything to do with the scout swimming badge. You can't win that (anyway they won't give it to you) till you've passed your first class tests. But anybody can try for the silver cup, and you can bet it's a big honor for any troop or patrol to have that. Most always they have the contest on Labor Day.
I said, "Alf, you can bet I'd be glad to see you win that cup, but don't forget that there are more than a hundred fellows at the camp. Some of the troops come from the seashore—you know that, and they're all crackerjack swimmers. It comes mighty hard to be disappointed, so don't you stay awake at night thinking about it." I said that because I could just see that poor kid dreaming about handing that cup over to his patrol leader, and honestly, I didn't think there was much chance for him.
Pretty soon Bert Winton leaned over and said to me, "Do you suppose that's true about his father?"
"Guess so," I told him.
"He doesn't seem to be very much ashamed of it," he said.
All I could say was, "He's a queer kid; he's all the time blurting out things like that."
"Maybe it's because he's just plain honest," Winton said.
"But you'd think he'd be ashamed," I told him.
He just shrugged his shoulders and looked kind of funny at Skinny. I had a kind of a hunch that he liked him and believed in him. Anyway, I remembered those words, "just plain honest."
TELLS ABOUT THE STRANGE CAMPERS
It was nice rowing around there in the dark. It wasn't so very dark, though, because the moon was out and you could see it in the water just as plain as if it had fallen kerflop out of the sky and was laying in the bottom of the lake. Over on shore we could see the camp-fire getting started and black figures going toward it, and the blaze was upside down in the water.
"How about camp-fire?" Westy said.
"We should worry about camp-fire," I told him; "there's plenty of time. Wait till it gets to blazing up good and high."
"It's fine out here," Bert Winton said; "I always take a row before going in to camp-fire."
"We should worry about you, too," I heard somebody say, and then a lot of fellows began laughing. By that I knew they had heard everything we said.
Winton said, "Funny how clear you can people talk when they're on the water."
Pretty soon we were away over at the other side of the lake and it was awfully still, and even our oars seemed to make a lot of noise dripping the water.
All of a sudden Westy said, "There's a canoe."
We could only just see it as it went gliding by us, but I noticed there were two dark figures in it.
Winton said, "Shh, wait till they pass us, then I'll tell you about them."
"I bet they're evil cronies," I said; "like they usually have in books," Because you know how it is in books; there are always a couple of bad fellows that won't join the good ones, but go camping right near them and make a lot of trouble for them. Hanged if I see why they don't join in with them and be done with it, hey?
Pretty soon Winton said very low, "They're a couple of millionaire campers—young fellows. Their people are staying near Leeds and those fellows have got a tent right across there in the woods near the shore. They're having the time of their lives with an up-to-date oil stove and a couple of fireless cookers and some thermos bottles and things. They've got cushions with buckskin fringe—presents from Dearie and Sweetie, I suppose, and they've got a cedar chest with brass hinges. Regular modern Daniel Boones, they are."
"Oh, me, oh, my!" Westy whispered; "have they got jackknives hanging from their belts?"
"Right the first time," Bert Winton said.
"And leather cases of writing paper?" I said, just for fun.
"Everything except a burglar alarm and a telephone," Bert said; "but they're not half bad chaps. We'll row over and see them some day. They have wild times around their camp-fire, telling yarns and watching the roaring blaze in their oil stove. They've got a fancy Indian blanket, you ought to see it. One of them paddled over to camp one day and wanted to buy a fishing rod. He had about a hundred dollars with him. He couldn't even swim."
"Good night!" I said.
Then, all of a sudden Skinny piped up, "If I had a hundred dollars I'd buy a canoe, I would. I'd have it painted red. I'd have a sail for it, too. Then all the fellows would like me, wouldn't they?"
I said, "Shh, don't shout like that; people can hear you all over. The fellows like you now, don't you worry."
"I don't care if they hear me," he said.
Pretty soon we rowed over and went up and sprawled around camp-fire. Gee, whiz, I guess the whole camp was there. One of the scouts in a Virginia troop was telling a yarn about somebody who had an adventure at sea. It was mighty interesting, you can bet, and it kind of started me thinking about Lieutenant Donnelle. Little I knew of the terrible thing that was going to happen at camp the very next day. Right across from me I could see Skinny sitting near Mr. Ellsworth, but the rest of the Elks were sprawling around with the Ravens. One thing, my patrol always sticks together. Skinny's eyes looked awful big and wild, kind of, with the fire shining right in his face and it made me feel kind of spooky to look at him. Poor kid, little he knew what he was going to go through. Anyway, I wished that the Elks would call him over to them. Probably he was thinking about how he was going to win them the silver cup, hey?
TELLS ABOUT THE STORM ON BLACK LAKE
One thing I have to admit, and that is that Mr. Ellsworth helped me a lot with this chapter and the next one too. But just the same both of them are by me, all right.
It's a funny thing, but all that night I was dreaming about that canoe with the two fellows in it. I could hear them paddling just as clear as could be, only when I woke up before daylight, I knew it was just the sound of rain on the roof of our patrol cabin. It was dripping into the rain ditch, I guess.
Pretty soon I went to sleep again, and I could see Skinny standing in front of me and his eyes were staring and his face was all white and there was some blood on it and he said, "I want to be a Silver Fox, because my father stole a lot of silver; so haven't I got a right to be?" I tried to answer him, but there was a loud noise and he couldn't hear and then, all of a sudden, I woke up and I knew the noise was thunder and Skinny wasn't there at all. Anyway, it made me feel kind of creepy and I was glad when I saw him at breakfast.
All that morning it rained and most of the scouts stayed in their tents and cabins. Some of them played basketball in the pavilion. Three fellows from the Boston troop went out fishing, but they had to come in it was raining so hard.
Before dinnertime, Uncle Jeb called some of us to move the mess boards into the pavilion, because it was beginning to blow from the east and the awnings and thatch roofs over the mess boards didn't keep the rain off, because it blew sideways. Out on the lake the water was churning up rough with little white caps. Jiminy, I never saw it like that before.
It was so dark and rainy that a fellow couldn't read even; anyway I couldn't because, oh, I don't know, I felt queer kind of. A lot of us sat on the wide porch of the pavilion—the side facing the lake. It was wide enough so the rain didn't come in and wet us as long as we stayed way back near the windows. We sat in a long row with our chairs tilted back. It was nice there.
Somebody said, "That spring-board looks lonely sticking out into the lake; look how the drops jump off it, just like fellows diving."
"Not much of a day for the race," Doc Carson said.
"What race?" Pee-wee shouted.
"The human race," Doc said; "no sooner said than stung."
We were just starting to jolly Pee-wee, because that's our favorite indoor sport, when somebody said, "There's one of the gold dust twins out; he must be crazy."
"He comes from Maine," another fellow said; "I guess he's a maniac."
But anyway, it was no joke, that was sure. Away over near the other side of the lake we could see the canoe bobbing up and down and it seemed to be coming toward us.
"Only one of them is in it," I said.
"And that's one too much on a day like this; that pair are sure nutty," Doc said.
But just the same the canoe came along and one of those campers was sitting in the stern paddling it. He was having a pretty hard job, I could see that, but maybe it wasn't as dangerous as it looked, because if you know how to manage a canoe it's better than an old tub of a boat in bad weather.
"He's making it all right," one of the fellows said; "he's game, that's sure."
Pretty soon he came alongside the landing and turned his canoe over to let the water out, and then came up to the pavilion.
"Pretty wet," he said.
"You said something," Westy answered him; "you took a big chance coming over."
"I'd sure have been drowned if I hadn't come," he laughed; "I wonder if you fellows can sell us a shovel? Our tent is floating."
I had to laugh, because that's always the one thing that most campers who aren't used to it forget about—I mean digging a drain ditch outside their tent. And the first time it rains, good night, they get drowned out like rats. I thought he was a pretty nice kind of a fellow, only he was one tenderfoot, that was sure. He had a swell bathing suit on with one of those waterproof mackinaw jackets over it. I guess his people were rich all right, and I suppose that's why the fellows at camp called the pair the gold dust twins. He took some bills out of his pocket and said, "We want to buy a shovel; you can't dig a trench with a canoe paddle. There's fine swimming in our tent."
Then Bert Winton said, kind of quiet in that way he had, "I don't think you'll need any money here. I'll get hold of one of the scoutmasters," and he started down the steps. Just then I noticed Skinny standing on the steps and Bert Winton gave him a push, just for fun, as he went by.
"Come on in out of the rain, Alf," I said; because I knew he was just hanging there, because he was afraid to come up where the rest of us were. I asked him where his patrol was, and he said, "In the cabin, playing checkers." I said, "Don't you know how to play checkers," and he said, "No." After that I didn't notice him.
Pretty soon the gold dust twin came back with a shovel and Mr. Elting, who is resident trustee, was with him, telling him he'd better not go back across the lake on account of its blowing up harder.