Sure Pop and the Safety Scouts
Being a Safety Scout means doing the right thing at the right time. —COLONEL SURE POP
SURE POP AND THE SAFETY SCOUTS
ROY RUTHERFORD BAILEY
Published Under the Auspices of the National Safety Council
Yonkers-on-Hudson, New York World Book Company 1916
Get the Safety Habit
Copyright, 1915, by World Book Company. Copyright, 1915, in Great Britain.
Adventure Number One: Bob Thirsts for Adventure and Gets It 3 Two: The Royal Signet Ring 9 Three: The Woman and the Wizard 13 Four: The Persistent Pigmy 21 Five: The Magic Button's Warning 27 Six: The Live Wire 32 Seven: Betty Evens the Score 38 Eight: Little Schneider's Fire Alarm 43 Nine: "Chance Carter's Way" 49 Ten: The Twins Meet Bruce 58 Eleven: "Just for Fun" 62 Twelve: Getting Down to Business 69 Thirteen: Dalton Patrol 74 Fourteen: Six Timely Tips 82 Fifteen: Twin Uniforms 89 Sixteen: Where Safety Was a Stranger 95 Seventeen: Giving the Other Fellow a Square Deal 102 Eighteen: An Adventure in Safety 110 Nineteen: One Day's Boost for Safety 117
THE SAFETY SCOUT'S PLATFORM
I will bear in mind the value of human life and a sound body. I will take no risks to endanger my body or any of its parts. I will do nothing to endanger the life or limb of any other person. I will be vigilant not only for my own safety, but for that of others, in the street or indoors, on foot or in conveyances, anywhere and at all times. I will try to do at least one Good Turn for Safety every day.
SAFETY FIRST—THE PREVENTION OF ACCIDENTS
AMERICANS are realizing the need for preventing accidents. The general conservation and efficiency movements and the Workmen's Compensation Laws first directed the attention of employers to the needless waste of human life. The discovery that by the safeguarding of machinery and the education of workmen ninety per cent of the industrial accidents could be prevented, has proved the value of educational methods in Public Safety work, and the Safety activities of public officials, trade organizations, public schools, churches, and other agencies have been directed toward the prevention of accidents on the street, in public places, and in homes. Every phase of human life is affected by accidents, and their elimination means saving human life and the avoidance of destitution and misery.
The National Safety Council realizes the importance of educating school children in the principles of Safety; for they will be the future industrial workers and the representatives of public opinion; their interest must be aroused to practice and preach "Safety First" everywhere. Children can be taught to become alert to their own safety, and can influence their parents to a deeper realization of their responsibilities.
The National Safety Council has directed the preparation of this book and hopes that through its pages children will be brought to realize the manliness of caution, the importance of courtesy and consideration; that, in short, the Safety way is simply the right way of doing things; and that the efficiency, comfort, and happiness of many individuals will be increased by the practicing day in and day out of "Safety First."
R. W. CAMPBELL President National Safety Council
You have no right to take a chance; some one else may have to take the consequences. —COLONEL SURE POP
SURE POP AND THE SAFETY SCOUTS
ADVENTURE NUMBER ONE
BOB THIRSTS FOR ADVENTURE AND GETS IT
"Bully for Uncle Jack!" cried Bob, a stalwart lad just on the edge of twelve, excitedly waving a letter with a South American postmark. "What wouldn't I give to be with him on his exploring trips! Here, Betty, listen to this part about their fight with the natives!"
"Oh, don't, please!" said his twin, clapping both hands over her ears, but listening just the same. "I'm always so afraid Uncle Jack will get killed."
"Uncle Jack get killed? Hardly! Just listen to what he says:
"'This last scrimmage was one of the liveliest I've ever been up against. The warlike up-river tribes, it seems, mistook our native scouts for a war party and lay in ambush for us. Might have been worse, though. Our losses were two men killed and seven wounded—but of course that's only a fraction of what you wound and kill every day back there in the States.'"
"Why, what does he mean by that?" wondered Betty. "There's no war going on in this country, is there?"
"Not that I know of." Even Brother Bob looked puzzled for a moment. "No Indians left to fight! But say, Betty, Uncle Jack's life is just fairly dripping with adventure! Think of it—every day chock-full of thrills and narrow escapes—and adventures every time he turns around! Well, it won't be many years now before I can be a scout and explorer myself."
A yell from their playmates outside brought the twins to the street in a hurry. Bob's legs were longer, but Betty, quick as a cat, got there first.
"You're it, Bob!" "Bob's last, so he's it!" Like a band of savages the screeching boys and girls scuttled across the car tracks and around the corners, while Bob counted up to five hundred "by fives."
"Four hundr' nine' five, FIVE HUNDRED!" yelled Bob, and started to dash across the tracks, for he had caught a glimpse of Jimmy West's new red boots disappearing under his grandmother's porch across the street. The sound of the wind in his ears as he ran drowned out the roar of the coming street car, and of course he had eyes only for those tell-tale red boots.
Another jump and Bob would have been under the wheels—but a strong little hand on his shoulder stopped him. The street car roared by with a startled clang of its gong, for the motorman had seen Bob too late to throw off the power.
Bob gasped in relief—then whirled around to see what had stopped him. And what do you think he saw, right there beside him in the street? Was it a scout—or a pygmy—or what?
He was old and snowy haired, but as fresh as a daisy and as spry as a cricket. His cheeks were as ruddy as Spitzenberg apples and his only wrinkles were the laughter wrinkles at the corners of his eyes. And such eyes! They were big and clear, and so bright that Bob could only look at them a moment and then turn away. It was like trying to stare at the sun.
He was tiny, but straight as a ramrod in his natty khaki uniform. And he was holding up his right hand just like the big policeman on the corner downtown. As he dropped it to shake hands with Bob, there was a sudden flash of green.
"Why, hello there!" Bob could scarcely believe his eyes. "Where on earth did you come from? And who—who are you, anyway?"
"My name is Sure Pop!" answered the scout in a clear voice, like the note of a bugle. "I've dropped in on the United States on my second tour of scouting duty, and I hear you are thirsting for adventure. Well, you've had one, at any rate; if I hadn't grabbed you just in the nick of time—" He shuddered and hustled Bob back to the sidewalk.
"Thanks, old scout!" stammered Bob. "I didn't know there was a car coming, and you see I was in such a hurry—"
"I see!" said Sure Pop, dryly. "I see, Bob, but you didn't. How do you suppose a wee chap like me ever gets across the busy streets downtown?"
"Give it up!" said Bob, "unless you can fly!" And he gave a sly glance at the scout's square little shoulders, half expecting to see wings.
Sure Pop grinned. "No more than you," he chuckled. "So I keep my eyes and ears open. Folks who have no wings must use their wits."
Bob felt a bit uncomfortable to have his mind read so easily, and promptly changed the subject. "What a funny name you have—'Sure Pop'!"
"Well, 'tis a funny one, sure pop! That name was wished on me by a crowd of Borderland folk, and then His Majesty gave it to me for keeps."
"His Majesty—do you mean your King?"
"Right—the King of the Borderland." The two had been walking toward the Dalton house as they talked. Now Sure Pop followed Bob up the steps and curled up in the big porch chair to tell him all about it.
"Once upon a time, some years ago, when I was a younger man than I am now," began Sure Pop, "I was standing on a corner in the largest city in the Borderland. It was noontime, and crowds of horsemen and chariots were dashing up and down the street.
"Suddenly I saw a youngster start over to my side of the street without looking either way. There was a chariot almost upon him when I held up my hand, as I did to you now, and yelled, 'Look sharp!' He stopped short—and those thundering wheels missed him by about an inch.
"He picked his way across the street, then, and held out his hand. 'That was a close shave,' he said. 'You've saved my life, Mr.—Mr.—' For of course he didn't know my name from Captain Kidd's.
"'That's all right!' I said. 'But you should always look before you cross.'
"'Do you?' he asked, with a sudden sharp glance.
"'Sure pop!' I told him. 'Safety First!'
"By this time quite a crowd of Borderland folk had gathered around us, and they all laughed and cheered and called me 'Sure Pop.' And one bold-eyed rascal threw up his pointed cap and shouted, 'Bully for Sure Pop!' and ran off to tell the King. At that all the rest of the crowd clapped their hands, for though they laughed at the name they knew I had the right idea."
"Ha!" said Bob. "So that's how you came by that comical name of yours?"
"Sure pop!" answered the Safety Scout with a twinkle.
Folks who have no wings must use their wits. —SURE POP
ADVENTURE NUMBER TWO
THE ROYAL SIGNET RING
Sure Pop paused in his story as Betty came dashing around the house. Like a shot the stranger jumped to his feet, and again Bob caught that sudden flash of green as he raised his hand in salute.
"Hello, Betty, glad to see you!"
"Why, goodness me!" exclaimed Betty. "You seem to know me, but I don't know who you are—unless you are one of those Boy Scouts Bob is so crazy to join?"
"Not exactly Boy Scouts," chuckled Sure Pop with a wink at Bob, "unless you count us boys till we're ninety-nine years old! Girls are scouts, too, in my regiment."
"Now, Betty," warned Bob, "sit down here and don't you dare interrupt, for Sure Pop's right in the middle of a story—and I think he's come to stay a while, haven't you, Sure Pop?"
"Sure pop! I'll stay as long as the King will let me," laughed the merry little scout.
"Well, after I got away from the crowd," he went on, "my eyes must suddenly have been opened to the thousand-and-one things that might happen even in Borderland to folks who didn't look sharp on the street, for on my way home I saved several others from getting hurt.
"The first was a careless little cabin boy, who went along whistling with his hands in his pockets. He slipped and fell plump in front of a chariot, and of course he couldn't jerk his hands out of his pockets in time to save himself. I grabbed him up in the very nick of time, or he'd have been smashed flatter than a pancake.
"And only a block farther on, I met a carpenter hurrying through the crowd with a ladder on his shoulder. Some one shouted to him, and he whirled around with never a thought of his ladder. The end of it would have hit a fat old banker squarely between the eyes if I hadn't been watching for that very thing and caught it as it swung. I went home and thought no more about all this, till that night, at midnight, I was summoned before the King."
"The King!" cried Betty. "My, weren't you scared?"
"I was, sure pop! When I marched into the throne room it was crowded with richly dressed people. The King and Queen sat on their thrones, and as I went toward them I had to pass between two long lines of trumpeters.
"Suddenly up went the silver trumpets, and the trumpeters blew a mighty blast. Let me tell you, it was enough to send the shivers down your spine, that trumpet call was! It seemed as if I never had climbed a longer flight of steps. But at last I found myself bowing before the King and Queen. The King, who wore a brand new uniform, just like this one I have on, beckoned a herald to his side.
"'Now hark to his words,' he said to me, 'and say if he speaks the truth.' And then the herald read aloud from a long white scroll, with scarlet seals on it, the story of how I had saved the young chap from the chariot that noon, and all about the cabin boy and the fat old banker I'd helped on my way home!
"'Does the herald speak truly?' asked the Borderland King. And all the rest strained their ears for my answer.
"'Sure pop, Your Majesty!' I replied before I knew what I was saying. At that he pulled from his finger a new signet ring, inked it with some magic ink, and motioned for me to hold out my right hand. How do I know it was magic ink? Why, it must have been, for the print it made has never faded. Look!"
Bob and Betty looked at the little scout's right hand, which he held up again like the crossing policeman downtown. And this is what they saw:
"'Hold it up,' commanded the King, 'where all can see!' And then the trumpets sounded again.
"'Long live Colonel Sure Pop, the Safety Scout!' cried the herald. The court wizard stepped forward, waved his hand and mumbled a few magic words over me, and—what do you think!—I found myself dressed in a brand new scouting uniform, the only one just like the King's!"
Long live the Safety Scouts! —SURE POP
ADVENTURE NUMBER THREE
THE WOMAN AND THE WIZARD
Sure Pop, the Safety Scout, drew a long breath and watched the automobiles whirling recklessly down the busy street. "But say, haven't you twins had enough stories for one day?"
"Not much we haven't! What did the King do next?"
No doubt about the twins' being thirsty for adventure! Sure Pop smiled.
"Well, a single wave of the King's hand dismissed his people. Looking very sorrowful, he opened the great book in which he keeps the record of everything that happens over here in the New World.
"I looked where he pointed, and trembled. For this was what I read:
"'UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
'Fathers and mothers and boys and girls killed by accidents last year.... 'Injured, blinded, crippled, and maimed...'
"He ran his finger across the page to the totals, and I saw that the first total ran clear up into the thousands—and the second one into the millions!
"'Colonel Sure Pop,' said the King, 'if only the thought you put into the mind of that lad you saved this noon, might be put into the mind of all America!'
"'Your Majesty means—Safety First?' I asked.
"The King nodded. 'All the lives lost in all our battles,' he said grimly, 'are but a drop in the sea as compared with the slaughter of a single year in a single land!'
"'Oh, Your Majesty, let me go and teach them Safety First—now, before another life is thrown away!'
"'No, Colonel. Not yet. The time is not yet ripe. But—perhaps we can make a beginning. Come to me again tomorrow night, at midnight, and we shall see.'
"The next night I went to the throne room and found the King studying a big map. He had a red pencil and a blue one in his hand, and he pointed to a lot of red rings he had drawn on the map.
"'Those,' he told me, 'are America's great mills. In them and the other factories, thousands upon thousands of workmen are killed by accident every year—by accident, Colonel, not in battle.
"'And that is not all,' the King went on. 'These blue lines mark the trails of the great iron horses—the railroads. Last year these iron horses trampled out thousands of lives in America alone. And all because the Americans haven't learned to think Safety!'
"That was too much for me. I pleaded with him to let me come straight to America and help end that awful suffering. But the King shook his head.
"'The more haste, the less speed, Colonel. Before you can help America, you must help yourself; and the quickest way to do that is first to teach Safety to our own people. Let me see you win your spurs here in the Borderland, and then—to America you go!'
"'Teach Safety to our own people?' I repeated, a bit puzzled. 'How ought I to go about it, Sire?'
"'Go through all the Borderland,' said the King, 'and muster an army of Safety Scouts. Train them to know signs that spell DANGER, as an Indian scout reads the signs of the trail. Teach them to report every danger signal they see—and they will teach their neighbors, and so the knowledge will spread. But above all, be sure your Safety Scouts are well chosen.'
"'But how?' I asked. 'Shall I pick out wise people?'
"'Colonel of the Scouts,' said the King, shrewdly, 'the wisest are not always the safest. Have you never thought why it is "bad luck to go under a ladder"?'
"'Never,' I owned up. 'I've always thought of it as just a proverb.'
"'True. But proverbs without reason would be like trees without roots. Stop and think: sometimes a ladder breaks or slips, which is bad for the climber—and bad for any one who happens to be under that ladder just then. And sometimes a painter's heavy paintpot falls—and woe to him who walks under the ladder then, be he the wisest man in the kingdom. Now go, and one moon from tonight bring me a full regiment of Safety Scouts.'
"So out through the Borderland I went, saying over and over to myself, 'It is bad luck to go under a ladder,' and waiting for the King's meaning to be made plain.
"First I went to the home of a great wizard, the wisest man in the Borderland. As I neared the house, the door opened and the wizard came out, a heavy book of wisdom under his arm.
"He had a long black pipe in his mouth. Pulling out a match, he lighted his pipe, threw the burning match over his shoulder, and hurried on toward the city.
"I started to run after him, when a flicker of light caught my eye. There in the straw that littered the roots of the ivy vines by the steps, a little tongue of flame was lapping up the tangle of leaves!"
Bob jumped to his feet as if he had heard the clang of a fire bell. "Good enough for him, the old fossil! Did it burn his house down?"
"Came mighty near it," said Sure Pop, looking at the scars on his hands. "He had a sick wife in there all alone, and if I hadn't happened along just then—
"Well, anyway," he went on cheerfully, "I got the fire out at last. And the King's meaning was made plain—it is one thing to have wisdom and another thing to use it. So I didn't ask the wizard to join the Safety Scouts, after all."
"I should say NOT!" cried Bob and Betty with one voice. "But where did you find your Scouts?" added Bob.
"Well, the next idea I had was to ask mothers, for mothers give up much of their time, anyhow, to keeping children out of harm's way. I found one whose house looked so trim and neat, and her children so clean and happy, that I had almost made up my mind to invite her to join—when my eye fell on a shining butcher knife hanging beside the kitchen table, where even the baby could reach it without half trying.
"And that wasn't all I saw. There was a saucer of fly poison on the window sill! Then I saw the mother starting to carry out a pail of water to scrub the steps, when the brass knocker on the door gave a thump, and she left that hot water right there in the middle of the floor while she talked to a peddler!
"Just then the baby came toddling across the room. He got safely past the scalding water and the fly poison, but the next moment I saw him climb up on a chair, open the medicine chest, and grab a bottle from the bottom shelf—the bottom shelf, Betty, of all shelves in the house! Out came the cork, and up went the bottle to his lips, just as I saw to my horror a skull and crossbones on its label. Like a flash I—"
"What's a skull and crossbones, Sure Pop?" broke in Betty.
"Poison sign!" explained Bob, shortly. "Don't interrupt! Go on, Sure Pop!"
"Like a flash," said Sure Pop, "I bounded to the baby's side and snatched the bottle away. I tell you, I did some earnest thinking as I left that house. I realized that it would never do to ask that mother to join our army of Safety Scouts, for until she herself had formed the Safety habit, she could hardly be expected to teach Safety to others. The adventure of the baby and the poison bottle had opened my eyes to the real meaning of the King's words about finding Scouts who could read the little signs that spell DANGER.
"By the way, I told the poison bottle story to a great doctor the other day, and now he's doing his best to get a law passed requiring that all poison bottles be of some special shape, different from any other bottles. That will make them much safer, even in the dark."
"But how can they be made different in shape?" asked Betty. "What shape, Sure Pop?"
"Three-cornered, probably. That certainly would be a life-saving law, if he could only get it passed. Just think! There were several thousand deaths in the United States last year from that one cause alone—just from mistaking bottles of poison for other medicine."
"But what I can't see," said Bob, "is how anybody could mistake a poison bottle. They all have skulls and crossbones on them, haven't they?"
"Stop and think a moment," said the Safety Scout. "Suppose baby has croup in the night, and mother is roused out of a sound sleep and rushes to the medicine chest; she's only half awake—the light is dim—poor baby is gasping and choking—not a moment to lose. She isn't likely to stop and read labels very carefully, is she? But if she felt her hand close over a three-cornered bottle, it would wake her up in a hurry. Even in the darkness and in the excitement—if she had been trained to think of a three-cornered bottle as meaning DANGER, perhaps death—it would stay her hand as surely as a red light stops an engine."
"I suppose," said Betty, "that when folks are badly hurt, or awfully, awfully sick, other folks lose their heads and don't know what they really are doing."
"Betty, you've hit the nail right on the head. Now that's why we must fix things so safety won't depend on level heads or time to think. The danger signal must pop right into our heads from force of habit. The sooner American boys and girls—yes, and the grown-ups, too—get the Safety habit, the sooner 'Safety First' will change from phrase into fact.
"The first day I ever spent in America opened my eyes to the price your country is paying for the word 'guess.' The more I studied the situation, the oftener I noticed folks saying 'I guess' where they should have said 'I know.' In nearly all of America's accidents, guesswork is the real cause.
"The moment I realized that, I said to myself, 'It's high time America dropped guesswork out of its daily life.' My work was cut out for me: I began right then and there to study out ways of getting folks to stop guessing, once for all, and be sure—sure pop!"
Stop guessing, once for all, and be sure. —SURE POP
ADVENTURE NUMBER FOUR
THE PERSISTENT PIGMY
"Say, Sure Pop!" burst out Bob, as the Safety Scout paused in his story. "A whole regiment—did you realize that was a lot of Scouts to get together in one month?"
"Did I?" echoed Sure Pop with a chuckle. "Did I? Well, if I didn't when I set out on my search, I did before the first day was over. I had lost out on the wisest man in the Borderland—he wouldn't do, for all his wisdom. He only served to remind me of what the King had said, that the wisest are not always the safest."
"Sure—sure pop!" Bob broke in again. "But how did you ever get a whole regiment together in one month? You simply couldn't disappoint the King, you know."
"You're right, Bob, I simply couldn't. So as fast as I did find one that would do for the army, I set him to work finding others—passing the good work along. I soon saw I could never make good with the King by trying to do it all myself, and I do believe the King knew all along that there was only one way a really big work could be done—by getting everybody stirred up and enthusiastic. So I turned each new Scout loose to hunt for more.
"You'd laugh to know who was the first Scout enrolled. As I slipped out of the poison-bottle house, I saw a funny little pigmy hurry out of a cottage across the lane and go z-z-zam! down the front steps. We'd had a nip of frost the night before, and the slippery steps took him by surprise. For a moment he stood rubbing his head, with his merry little face puckered up into a comical sort of bowknot. Then he picked his way slowly up the steps into the house.
"A minute or two and out he came again with a bag of salt and sprinkled the steps with it. Though he was in just as big a hurry as our friend the wizard, the Safety First idea had got him, and he plainly had made up his mind to begin right then and there.
"'Well, I declare!' I said to myself. 'I've a notion to muster him into the scouting service—but what would the King say to my enrolling a pigmy?' Just as I was wondering about it, down he went again, flat on his little back!
"This time it was on the sidewalk in front of his house. Some careless youngster had thrown a banana skin on the walk. Poor little pigmy, what a bump he did get that time! But again he picked himself up, and this time he didn't wait a moment—just poked the banana skin off into the gutter where it could do no more harm.
"Such persistence was too much for me! I told him the King wanted him for the royal army of Safety Scouts, and that he was to have the honor of being the first one enrolled. His eyes fairly popped out of his head as he listened, and before you could say 'Jack Robinson,' he had scampered off to help me raise an army—with one of these buttons in the lapel of his leather jerkin."
Sure Pop pulled a sparkling button out of his pocket and laid it before the twins.
"There, that's the Safety Scouts' badge of honor, and no Scout can wear one till he earns the right. The King himself designed it."
"My! I wish—!" The twins remembered their manners and stopped short, but Sure Pop understood. He threw back that wise little head and how he did laugh!
"You wish—eh? That's what they all say, the minute they lay eyes on that button! You see, that's a magic button, so it's no wonder everybody wants one. Friends, that button can talk!"
Bob stared at the button as if he couldn't believe his ears. Betty, taking Sure Pop at his word, grabbed the button and laid it to her ear. She gave a squeal of delight.
"It does! It does talk—doesn't it?" she cried.
"Sure pop it does!" laughed the Safety Scout. "That's all it can say, just four words at a time—but those four are enough to save thousands of lives every year."
"What four words?" yelled Bob, clapping the magic button to his ear. How his jaw dropped when he heard—or seemed to hear—the magic button's words, four words he will never, never forget, even if he lives to be a hundred years old!
"Safety First," whispered the magic button in his ear. "Get Busy!"
Bob sprang to his feet, so startled that he nearly dropped the button.
"Get busy?" he echoed. "Well, let's!"
"And let's be quick about it," chimed in Betty. "I want to earn one of those magic buttons myself."
"Here too!" Bob whirled around to Sure Pop. "But we'll have to get the soil ready first, won't we, just as the King told you? So the seed won't be wasted, you know."
"That's the first move, Bob. Waste is something no Scout can bear to see. Waste of life, waste of health, waste of time, waste of food—even waste of money seems a crime to a Safety Scout."
Betty was thinking hard. "Then before we can plant the Safety First idea in other people's minds, shan't we have to start it growing in our own, Sure Pop?"
"Sure pop, we shall! And now listen, friends. When I first came to America, after years of Safety training among my own people, I took up the task of planting the Safety First idea among the great American mills and factories. Some day I'll tell you about those years of Safety work among the mill hands, but just now what I want to explain is this: when I had got the work well established among the mills, I thought at first that my work in America was finished; but the more I thought it over, the plainer it became that my most important work still lay before me."
"Your most important work," echoed Betty. "What do you mean, Sure Pop—teaching Safety to the President of the United States?"
"No, Betty. A far more important work than that—teaching Safety to children. I saw that by making Safety Scouts out of the boys and girls, I should be solving the whole problem of the years to come—for workmen, Presidents, and all. So I drew a long breath and started in again, this time in America's homes.
"Now how do you suppose I came to choose your home to begin on? Just as I was wondering which house to tackle first, I overheard Bob wishing he had Uncle Jack's life of adventure—though the United States has more real adventure to the square mile than all South America put together!"
"You don't mean it? Why, this is a civilized country!"
"You Americans think so, Bob. And you're trying to bring about world-wide peace, because you feel that war is out of place in civilized life. But what about the thousands you kill and the millions you wound every year? More than you killed and wounded, remember, in the whole Civil War. What about that? Does that sound so very civilized?
"You want adventure. Good! You shall have it—early and often. And you won't have to go to any other country to find it, either."
"Well," said Bob, "here's hoping. What comes first?"
"First, we must get our eyes and ears open. That's the first thing for any Scout to learn, and he isn't good for much until he gets the habit of noticing things. Scout-craft means reading signs in everything you come across and acting on little silent hints that most folks wouldn't notice.
"Now, to begin with, here are three practical rules for you to bear in mind—three things we found out in our first year of Borderland Safety Scouting: First, a true Scout is always on the alert. Second, a Scout always keeps cool. Third, a Scout does one thing at a time. Do you suppose you can remember these three things?"
"That's easy," said Betty.
"Easy as anything," said Bob. "Keep wide awake, keep cool, and keep your mind on one thing at a time. Three 'keeps'—anybody can remember them!"
"Think so?" Sure Pop's voice sounded surprisingly far away. "All right, we'll see!" And before the twins' very eyes he faded away into thin air!
A true Scout is always on the alert.—SURE POP
ADVENTURE NUMBER FIVE
THE MAGIC BUTTON'S WARNING
"He's gone!" Bob and Betty stared at each other. For a moment the whole thing seemed like a dream, and they hated to think of waking up.
"But it was real!" Bob turned the magic button over and over in his hand, glad to have something left to prove the reality of their new friend, something they could still see and touch.
"We can't wear that button, though," Betty reminded him. "We've got to earn it first. What shall we do with it?"
Bob stuck it into his deepest pocket. "I'll hang on to it till Sure Pop comes back—if he does come back. Oh, hello, Joe!"
Joe Schmidt, a wiry boy of Bob's own age, but fully half a head shorter, turned around and gazed up at the Daltons' porch.
"Why, hello, Bob! What are you doing?"
"Nothing." Bob ran down the steps and began talking with Joe. In fact, the two lads were so busy talking that they did not see George Gibson till he purposely bumped into Joe's back with a sudden "Hey, there! Get off the walk!"
Joe bristled like a ruffled sparrow. "Let's see you throw me off!" When George good-naturedly took him at his word, Joe clinched with him and managed to get a half-Nelson hold on him. Joe always went at things in dead earnest, anyway. Bob and Betty, laughing and shouting, hopped gleefully around the swaying wrestlers, Bob yelling encouragement to George, and Betty yelling just as hard for Joe.
Suddenly—was it just Bob's imagination?—something seemed to give a wiggle in his pocket—then a warning flop. It must be that magic button!
Bob jumped, gave a snort of surprise, and jammed his hand into his pocket. What had got into the button anyway?
Then an idea flashed across his mind—perhaps the Safety button was trying to warn him. To be sure, if the wrestlers went down hard on the cement sidewalk, it might mean a broken skull! In his hurry to get them off the walk and over on the grass, Bob lost his head. He made the mistake of trying to do it by force; he caught hold of George's elbow, and got a sharp dig in the pit of his stomach for his pains.
"Hey, fellows—danger!" he yelled, when he could catch his breath. "Get over on the grass—look out!"
His warnings came too late. George, much the bigger of the two, got a hip-lock on Joe, and, forgetting everything else in his struggle to "lay him out," gave a sudden heave that sent Joe sprawling on his back. His head struck the sidewalk with a thud.
That was all. Joe lay like a lump of lead.
"He's dead!" screamed Betty wildly. She threw herself at the gasping George. "You—you've killed him!"
George, puffing and blowing from his struggle, held her at arm's length. A big policeman suddenly came around the corner. "Here, what's all this?" he asked sternly, bending over the fallen wrestler.
"He struck on the back of his head," spoke up Bob. "They were wrestling—just in fun, you know—and Joe struck his head on the sidewalk. Is—is he dead?"
"Small thanks to you young rascals if he isn't," growled the officer. "Crazy Indians, wrestling on a cement walk! Where does he live?"
He lifted the limp body in his arms and hurried to the Widow Schmidt's modest little cottage with the green blinds and the neatly scrubbed doorstep. George and Bob, feeling very sick, trailed sadly along after him; they hated to think of the look that would come into the Widow Schmidt's motherly face. Joe was all she had in the world.
Betty, womanlike, was first to think of the doctor. Almost before the policeman had reached Joe's side, she was running to the corner drug store as fast as her feet would carry her. The druggist would know where to reach a doctor with the least delay—she could telephone.
It seemed ages before the fluttering lids opened and Joe's black eyes looked out on the world again. "No bones broken," said the doctor at last. "Half an inch farther to the right or left, though—"
He stopped, but the twins understood. Silently they gripped Joe's hand as it lay helpless on the bed, nodded to George, and the three tip-toed out of the hushed little room.
That night, before Bob and Betty went to bed, Sure Pop came back. He found the twins sitting with their heads together, studying Bob's Handbook of Scout-Craft as if their lives depended on learning it by heart in one evening. Bob still lacked a few months of being old enough to join the Boy Scouts; he had long looked forward to his coming birthday, but it had never meant so much to him as now.
Sure Pop nodded and smiled as he saw the familiar handbook. "Good work!" he said. "All true Scouts are brothers, you know. Well, how about the 'three keeps' of the Scout Law? Did you find them as easy as you thought?"
Bob and Betty grew very red. They did not know what to say.
The Safety Scout saved them the trouble. "Joe's better tonight," he told them, comfortingly. "I've just come from there, and the doctor says he'll be up again in a day or so. What shall we do tomorrow, friends—begin hunting for adventure and planting Safety First ideas?"
Bob looked at Betty and swallowed hard at a lump in his throat. Somehow this wise little Sure Pop knew everything that happened!
"I think," said Bob, frankly, "we really planted one today!"
All true Scouts are brothers. —SURE POP
ADVENTURE NUMBER SIX
THE LIVE WIRE
Sure Pop saw, the moment he laid eyes on Bob and Betty next morning, that they had made up their minds to earn a magic button apiece that day.
"Where shall we go for today's adventure?" was the first question.
The Safety Scout laughed. "We probably shan't have to go far. Once a Scout's eyes are really open, so that danger signs other folks wouldn't notice begin to mean something to him, why, adventure walks right up to him. It walked right up to you two yesterday, but you didn't read the signs till too late. Being a Scout, remember, means doing the right thing at the right moment. Now let's start out and walk a few blocks, and see what danger signals we come across that other folks are overlooking."
Just as they opened the gate, Mrs. Dalton came to the door. "Bob! Come here a moment, please. I want you to take a note over to Mrs. Hoffman's for me. Their telephone is out of order."
She lowered her voice as she handed him the letter, and added, "Who is that out there with Betty?"
"Oh, that's one of the Scouts. We're going out for a little practice scouting."
Mrs. Dalton knew how eagerly Bob had been awaiting the day when he could become a Boy Scout. She trusted the Scouts and was glad to have Bob and Betty spend their vacation time in scouting. She little guessed that the three friends were to start an order of Safety Scouts which even fathers and mothers would join.
Bob hurried back to Betty and Sure Pop. "Can you wait while I run over to Mrs. Hoffman's with this? All right, I'll be back in no time!"
Hurrying though he was, he looked both ways before he crossed the car tracks, for already the habit of "thinking Safety" was growing on him. He reached Mrs. Hoffman's in record time, delivered the note, and raced back toward home.
As he slowed down to catch his breath, he met a crowd of yelling youngsters "playing Indians." Several of them wore Indian suits. One, dressed as a cowboy, tried to rope him as he passed. This gave the Indians an idea, and they came howling after Bob, waving their tomahawks and promising to scalp him. Two yelping dogs joined in the chase.
Bob grinned and broke into a long, easy run which soon shook the redskins off his trail. But at a sudden delighted whoop from the enemy he stopped and looked back.
"Hi-yi!" yelled the biggest Indian. "Look at that telephone wire on the ground! Come on, let's chop it off and use it to bind the palefaces to the stake."
Pellmell across the street swarmed the little fellows, each bound to get there first. But Bob was too quick for them. Hatless, breathless, he threw himself between the Indians and the swaying wire. "Get back!" he roared. "That's no telephone wire—it's alive! Keep back, I say! You'll be killed!"
It was no easy thing to stand between the youngsters and the deadly wire. They were laughing and yelling so hard, and the dogs were barking so wildly, that at first Bob couldn't get the idea of danger into their heads. He fairly had to knock two or three of them down to keep them from hacking at the wire with their hatchets. Would they never understand? "I won't forget this time, anyway!" muttered the boy, gritting his teeth as he remembered the "three keeps" of the Scout Law.
Up ran one of the dogs, capering around with sharp, ear-splitting barks, and tried to get his teeth into Bob's ankle. When Bob tried to kick him away, of course the Indians and cowboys yelled harder than ever. The dog stumbled and fell across the electric wire—gave one wild yelp of pain—and lay there kicking and struggling, unable to jerk himself loose. Worst of all, he had landed in a puddle of water, so that the electric current was pouring straight through his twitching body into the wet earth.
At last Bob managed to drive all the boys back out of harm's way, only to see one of the cowboys rush for the dog with a cry that tore at Bob's heartstrings.
"It's Tige! Oh, Tige!—poor old Tige! Let me go! I've got to save my dog!"
Bob had grabbed the little fellow and held him tight. "Too late, old scout," he said, with tears in his own eyes as he saw the dog kicking his last. "Tige's done for, I'm afraid. Keep back, there—that wire will get you too!" For the boys were crowding nearer again.
"Who has a telephone at home?" asked Bob.
"We have," said one of the larger boys.
"Then run home quick, call up the Electric Light Company, and have them send their repair crew. Tell them a live wire has killed Tige and may kill the boys if they don't hurry. Tell 'em it's at the corner of Broad Street and Center Avenue. Run!"
While he waited for the repair wagon, Bob managed to get the boys lined up in all directions, where they could mount guard over the danger zone. Then he stood guard with the rest, and they succeeded in keeping all teams and passers-by from running into danger till the repair men came.
It seemed a long while before the clatter of hoofs and the rumble of heavy wheels told him the rescue party was coming at last. He jumped with surprise when the repair wagon dashed around the corner and pulled up beside the curb, for there beside the driver sat Sure Pop, the Safety Scout! Puzzled by Bob's long stay and hearing the gong as the wagon hurried up, he had decided to come along.
Ten minutes later the live wire was back in place, the repair crew had clattered off again, and a little band of mourning Indians and cowboys had carried poor Tige's body over to his master's back yard, where they buried him after a solemn funeral service. Only a dog—but the tears they dropped on his little grave were very real and sincere, for he had been a jolly playmate and a loyal friend.
Bob was very sober as he walked home with Sure Pop. "Wish I could have saved Tige, somehow!"
The Safety Scout laid his hand on the boy's shoulder. "Bob, you did just right. You remembered the 'three keeps' this time—you kept wide awake, kept cool, and kept your mind on one thing at a time. No Scout could have done more. If you had risked touching that wire, it would have cost a good deal more than the life of a dog, I fear. It's important to know what not to do, sometimes. Robert Dalton, I'm proud of you! Here—you've earned it this time, sure pop!"
He reached down into his pocket, pulled out the Safety button, and fastened it in Bob's coat lapel. The boy flushed with pride as he lifted the magic button to his ear. And never had words thrilled him more than those which greeted him now—for two of them were new words which his own quick wits had earned:
"Safety First!" whispered the button, clear and sweet as a far-away bugle call. "Good Work!"
Safety first—not part of the time, but all the time.—SURE POP
ADVENTURE NUMBER SEVEN
BETTY EVENS THE SCORE
All through supper time Betty schemed and plotted.
"I certainly am proud of the way Bob won his," she said to herself. "But I've never been behind Bob yet, and that magic button's going to be twins before tomorrow night, somehow!"
The hot summer sun woke her early next morning, and she hurried downstairs to be through breakfast before Sure Pop came for the day's adventures.
"Where do we go today?" she asked Sure Pop an hour later, dancing up and down and looking wistfully at Bob's new Safety button.
"Sorry, friends," said the Safety Scout, "but I can't be with you today. I'm due for a little outside scouting duty—something you twins aren't quite ready for yet."
"Oh, say!" Bob's face fell. "What are we going to do then, all day alone?"
"Do?" laughed the merry Colonel, waving them goodby. "Why, you'll be out scouring the neighborhood for new adventures, I fancy. And as for Betty, if I'm any mind reader, she has something up her sleeve sure enough!"
Sure Pop was right, as usual. Bob fussed around the yard awhile, managed to open a box of crockery out on the back steps for Mother, and soon rambled off to see what new adventures he could find in the name of Safety First.
Betty spent most of the morning in the kitchen, helping Mother. As soon as Bob was off again after lunch, she began to roam about the yard, eyeing everything like a hawk. Soon Mother saw her picking up the boards Bob had pried loose from the box and scowling at the ugly nails that stuck up where little feet might so easily be stabbed by their rusty points. These she carefully bent down with a big stone.
"That's one on Bob, anyway," said Betty to herself, and went on looking around the yard.
Her eye roved upward to the bright geraniums on the sill of Mother's window upstairs. "Mother," she called, "have you ever read Ben Hur?"
"Why, yes, Betty—a long time ago. Why?"
"Don't you remember how that loose tile from Ben Hur's roof—the one he tried to snatch back as he saw it fall—struck the Roman soldier on the head, and how Ben Hur went to prison for it? Well, what about those flower pots up there?"
"Why, Betty!" cried her mother, more puzzled than ever. "Ben Hur—flower pots—what is the dear child talking about?"
Betty laughed. "I read in the paper last night that one of the big hotels has put up signs in every room, and they say:
Please do not place articles of any kind ON WINDOW SILL (bottles and chinaware most dangerous). They may fall or be blown into the street, causing serious if not fatal accidents.
"That's because a flower pot fell from an upper window on a woman's head. Baby's sand pile is right below your window, and one of the flower pots might fall while she was out there playing. A sudden draft could do it, or a door slammed hard. Do you mind if I fasten them on with wire so they can't fall? Then I'll do it right now before anything happens!"
She had just finished the job to her satisfaction, and was looking about for something else, when Mother called softly: "Betty, if you'll keep a lookout and let me know if anybody comes, or if Baby wakes up, I'll take a nap."
Betty was pleased. Here was a fine chance to play housekeeper. Mother left a soup bone simmering over one burner of the gas stove, and a steam pudding bubbling away over another, and went upstairs for her nap.
Betty tiptoed to the little sewing-room, next to the kitchen, and looked in. Baby was sleeping. Then she softly shut the kitchen door and sat down in the dining-room to read. Suddenly a shower came up, and out she ran to close the windows in the kitchen and the sewing-room, where the rain was pouring in.
She had hardly begun reading again when she heard Bob clatter up the back steps, tear through the kitchen in search of his raincoat, and hurry out again. The wind was blowing hard and swept through the open kitchen, banging the dustpan against the wall like a fire alarm gong.
Betty read on. Presently she looked at the clock and sprang to her feet. "Why, how long Baby is sleeping today! 'Most three hours and never a peep. I wonder—"
A faint whiff of gas from the kitchen made her turn pale with dread. Then it flashed into her mind what must have happened—that sudden gust of wind had blown out the gas! As she ran to the kitchen, she realized that she had caught the same faint smell several times before. "Oh!" she sobbed, "what if Baby—"
Mother, sound asleep upstairs, was roused by a crash from the kitchen, a shriek from Betty, and the sound of a shattered window-pane; for Betty, finding that the outside door stuck fast, had hurled a frying-pan through the window. Then she ran to the sewing-room as the life-giving breeze poured in through the broken pane.
Startled, bewildered, still only half awake, Mother stumbled to the kitchen and found Betty, with the unconscious baby in her arms, groping her way toward the dining-room. Snatching them both up and rushing toward the open air, Mother landed in a heap on the front porch, Betty and the baby on top of her. And then—oh, glorious sound!—came a feeble little cry from Baby, and they knew she was safe after all! There Father and Bob found them a few minutes later, laughing and crying and hugging each other by turns. Betty's quick wits had saved the day.
Mother was telling the whole story that evening, not forgetting the rusty nails and the flower pots—two risks which neither Father nor Mother had ever thought of before—when a sturdy little figure in a Safety Scout uniform paused at the door and listened with a shrewd twinkle in his eye.
It was Sure Pop, who had looked in to say good night to the twins. He caught Betty's eye, beckoned her into the hall—and when she came back to the supper table, Bob's sharp eye caught the gleam of a Safety First button over her heart, too.
Betty had evened the score!
Safety scouting begins at home. —SURE POP
ADVENTURE NUMBER EIGHT
LITTLE SCHNEIDER'S FIRE ALARM
Ever since the twins had earned their Safety First buttons, they had been looking forward to the Fourth of July, and on the eve of the Fourth came an adventure far more exciting than any they had expected.
The lights were out in Bob's and Betty's rooms, and Bob had just dropped off to sleep when the clang of the fire bell brought him out of bed in a hurry.
As his feet struck the floor, his ear caught the rattle of gravel on the window. The room was half lighted by a ruddy glow, and looking out he saw Sure Pop standing below his window.
"Come on to the fire!" the Safety Scout called up to him. "Perhaps we can do somebody a good turn. Bring Betty along, if your mother doesn't mind."
Bob got dressed first and hurried in to help Betty. Her teeth were chattering with excitement, and she could hardly button her clothes. "Where is the fire, Bob?"
"I don't know exactly—a mile or two north of here, I think. Come on—Mother says you may go, if you'll stick close to me."
The two clattered down the back stairs and joined Sure Pop.
"Bother that shoe string, anyhow!" panted Bob as they scampered off to the fire.
"Better stop and tie it up," advised the Safety Scout. "It'll trip you the first thing you know."
Bob thought otherwise. A couple of blocks farther on, however, he stepped on the dragging string, caught his toe on a loose board in the sidewalk, and sprawled headlong. But Bob was game. Up he jumped, gave Sure Pop the Scout salute, and said, with a grin, "Sir, I stand corrected." Then he tied the shoe string by the light of a street lamp, winked at Betty, and the three ran on.
The fire was farther away than it looked, and not till they had reached the hilltop did the size of the blaze fully show itself. "Goodness!" cried Betty. "The German church is gone, and Turner Hall will be next. And look at all those little houses in a row—they won't last long at that rate!" Then she stopped and coughed, for the air was full of smoke and soot, both from the burning buildings and from the fire engines.
Everywhere was noise and confusion. Half-dressed men and women stumbled over the fire hose as they hurried along with their arms full of household articles, trying to save everything they could.
A frightened sob fell on Betty's ears. She turned to see a chubby little baby boy, toddling along barefooted in his nightie, the tears rolling down his fat cheeks. "Mama!" he sobbed. "I want my Mama!"
"Oh, poor little thing!" cried Betty. "He's lost!" She caught the scared little fellow up in her arms and wrapped him snugly in the folds of her loose cloak. "Don't cry, honey. Betty'll find Mama for you!" And she cuddled and petted him till he stopped crying and lay still in her arms, peering out at the spreading flames with wondering eyes.
"I'm going to find his mother for him," said Betty. "He's scared half to death!"
But Sure Pop caught her arm as she started away. "Wait, she'll find him."
Sure enough, before long a young woman came running wildly from house to house calling out, "Karlchen! My little Karlchen! Where are you?"
The little fellow popped his head out from under Betty's cloak with a squeal of delight. "Mama!" he cried in his soft baby voice. "Mama!"—just that one happy word, over and over, as his mother pressed him to her breast.
The look on her face was thanks enough for Betty. Somehow the fire did not seem so dreadful to her after that.
"How'd it start?" Bob asked a fireman who was binding up a split in the bulging canvas hose.
"Fellow dropped a lighted match in a coat closet—house next to the church," puffed the fireman, who was breathing as if he had run a mile. He gave the hose a parting kick and hurried to join his comrades down the street, where the flames were fiercest.
"The same old story," said Sure Pop, soberly. "Hold on! What's that?"
Bob and Betty looked up at the little old-fashioned window in the cottage across the street. A small black-and-tan dog was standing on his hind legs inside the room, pawing and scratching at the window pane.
Sure Pop put two fingers to his lips and gave a piercing whistle. The dog answered him, barking wildly and running back into the smoke-filled room, then to the window again, as if trying to call their attention to something or somebody in the room with him.
"There's somebody in there!" cried Bob. "Come on, Sure Pop—wait here for us, Betty!"
As they ran, the two splashed into a pool of water in a hollow of the sidewalk. Sure Pop dipped his handkerchief in this and tied it over his nose and mouth. Bob did the same. Then the smoke of the burning cottage swallowed them up.
Remembering the dangers of a draft, Sure Pop carefully closed the door after them, and stopped Bob from kicking a hole in the window at the head of the stairs. They knew which room it was—the farthest window from the front door—and flung themselves against the door so hard that it burst open and they fell headlong into the room. The little black-and-tan dog, barking more wildly than ever, had heard them coming and was dragging with all his might at something on the bed.
Bob and Sure Pop, half choked with smoke, ran to the bedside. There lay a little girl only five or six years old. Yes, she was breathing!
Just then the hungry flames burst in through the flimsy closet door and came licking along the ceiling. Bob's eyes smarted and burned, and his lungs felt as if they would burst. He remembered his Boy Scout studies in First Aid, though, and threw himself beside Sure Pop on the floor, where the smoke was not so thick. Together they dragged the little girl to the window.
Bob put his lips close to Sure Pop's ear. "Shall we jump?"
Sure Pop shook his head. "Too risky. We'll try the stairs."
With the little girl held close between them, their bodies shielding her from the flames, the two groped and stumbled down the short flight of stairs, fairly falling through the whirlwind of flame that swirled upward from the first floor. Scorched, singed, with their clothing afire in places, they fought their way back to the street—safe!
Betty ran forward with a glad cry and flung her arms around her twin. "Bob! Oh, Bob, I thought you were gone!"
Just then they heard a shout as a frightened little family group came running up, and a roughly dressed laborer snatched the little girl and kissed her till her eyes opened and she smiled.
"Good Schneider! Nice Schneider!" said her small brother, patting the dog, who was wagging his tail almost off for joy.
"Nice little Schneider—he took—care—of—me!" exclaimed the little girl between kisses. And the father gathered up the little dog in his arms and kissed him, too!
As the tired Safety Scouts opened the front gate half an hour later, the boom of a cannon roared out, somewhere on the other side of town, and the twelve o'clock bells and whistles joined in an echoing chorus.
Sure Pop raised his hand with a tired smile. "Midnight!" he cried. "Hurrah for the glorious Fourth!"
Don't let a careless match cost a dozen homes. —SURE POP
ADVENTURE NUMBER NINE
"CHANCE CARTER'S WAY"
BOOM! It was the distant roar of some Fourth of July cannon which had escaped the watchful eye of the police.
Bob Dalton stirred uneasily and flopped over in bed. The morning sun was shining straight into his eyes.
By the time the twins were dressed and downstairs, Sure Pop was waiting for them in the back yard. He, too, had slept late after the excitement of the fire.
"I had hoped for a holiday today," he said, "but I can see there's going to be plenty of scouting for me to do, even on a 'sane Fourth,' so I'm off on my rounds. How are you two going to spend the day?"
"Going over to where the fire was, as soon as we've had our breakfast," said Bob. "Looks from here as if Turner Hall's still smoking."
Betty was fingering the Safety Button in Sure Pop's lapel. "What are you doing, Betty?" asked the Safety Scout, with a twinkle.
"Turning your button right side up," Betty told him.
The merry little Colonel laughed and explained: "I have to wear it wrong side up each day till I've done my One Day's Boost for Safety."
"Oh," said Bob. "Same as the Boy Scouts wear their neckties outside their vests till they've done the day's good turn to somebody?"
Sure Pop nodded. "That one little rule is the biggest thing in the whole Scout Law," he said. "The Scout who lives up to that test—doing a good turn to somebody every day, quietly and without boasting—will be classed alongside the greatest Scouts the world has ever known. Bring me your Handbook of Scout-Craft a moment, please, Bob. Listen to this from page 7, now:
* * * * *
"'Another way to remind himself is to wear his Scout badge reversed until he has done his good turn. The good turn may not be a very big thing—help an old lady across the street; remove a banana skin from the pavement so that people may not fall; remove from streets or roads broken glass, dangerous to automobile or bicycle tires'—to say nothing," added Sure Pop, "of the danger to barefooted boys and girls, or to folks with thin shoes! Don't you see, Bob and Betty, how every one of those good turns happens to be a good turn for Safety as well? I told you a few days ago that all true Scouts are brothers; aren't we all working toward the same end, after all?"
Bob and Betty saw the point. They turned their Safety buttons upside down as Sure Pop waved them goodby, resolving to get them right side up at the very first chance that offered.
They found their father on the front porch reading the paper, taking solid comfort in the fact that Bruce's Mills were closed for the day. "I want you to help me with a little work out in the yard," he said, "as soon as you've had your breakfast." So it was almost one o'clock before Bob and Betty set out for the scene of last night's fire. Just across the river they met Chance Carter and George Gibson, bound in the same direction.
The German church still raised its steepled head toward the sky, but its roof had fallen in, and Turner Hall was a mass of blackened ruins. Parts of the walls were still standing, swaying as if ready to topple over any moment. Off in one corner the blackened timbers and jumbled bits of furniture were stubbornly smoldering.
The four stood and looked. "Just think!" said Betty softly. "All that from just one little careless match! Guess that man won't light a match in a coat closet again."
"Pshaw!" scoffed Chance Carter. "That wouldn't happen once in a thousand times."
"How many matches do you suppose are scratched in the United States every second?" asked Bob, shortly.
"Oh, a couple of hundred, I suppose."
"Ten thousand, Chance, every second. And every match is a possible fire. Sure Pop told me last night that one third of the fire losses are due to carelessness in handling matches. And the fires in this country cost us over a million dollars every day—twice that, counting the cost of fire departments."
"Whew!" Even reckless Chance looked impressed.
"When you get into the Boy Scouts," Bob reminded him, "you'll find out what they think about fooling with fire. A real Scout never leaves his camp fire till he's dead sure it's out. Even after there's no fire left that he can see, he pours water on it and all around it to guard against its rekindling. A Scout who isn't careful about such things is looked down on by the others as not of much account."
"Well, I don't care; there's such a thing as being too careful. I wish we had the old-fashioned Fourth of July back again. This sane Fourth business is too tame for me!" Chance strolled off to the far corner of the smoking ruins and began climbing around in the half-filled basement.
George winked at Betty. "Can't teach him anything," he chuckled. "He was born careless and he'll die careless, I guess. Look at him, now—poking around where those loose bricks may cave in on him any minute. We can't say anything, though, or he'll get mad. Chance Carter always has to have his own way."
"It's a wonder the police aren't guarding this place," said Bob, anxiously. "Guess they've got their hands full elsewhere." He scowled as he watched his reckless friend jumping from one charred timber to another, never noticing how the crumbling walls tottered with each jump.
"Whether he likes it or not," he said finally, "I'm going to get him out of there. It's too risky. Hey, Chance! Look out—that wall's coming over!" His voice rose in a startled shout.
"Aw, I guess not—" Chance got no further. The overhanging wall, swaying on its wobbly base and loosened by his sudden backward jump, toppled over on him in a shower of bricks and mortar. "Chance Carter's way" had come to grief again!
"Too late—again!" muttered Bob, grimly, diving into the cloud of dust that hung over the spot where Chance had disappeared. For a picture had flashed into his mind—the memory of how he had failed to warn the wrestlers in time only a few days before, the picture of Joe's terrified face as his head crashed on the cement sidewalk. Why hadn't he warned Chance in time?
A groan from the wreckage told where the boy lay half buried under the fallen wall. "Got me that time!" he muttered, through his set teeth. "Guess my leg's broken."
A shadow fell on the two and Bob looked up to see George's white face gazing down at him. "What can I do, Bob?"
"Have Betty run for a doctor, or telephone. Chance is badly hurt. Help me lift this rubbish from on top of him." The boys worked fast but carefully, lifting one brick at a time, till Chance was free. To their dismay he could not move.
"It's this leg." He touched his left, just below the knee. "I felt something break when the wall hit me. Perhaps the other's broken, too—I don't know."
Very carefully Bob ripped the clothing from the injured leg. Then he put one hand gently on the spot Chance touched, and the other hand just below it, and lifted the leg slightly. There was enough movement at the broken point so that there could be no doubt. The other leg proved to be badly bruised, but not broken.
Bob carefully moved the broken leg back into the same position as the right one and piled his coat and George's around it so it would stay in shape. He brought the suffering boy some water in his hat, and the three waited for the doctor.
"He said he'd come right away," reported Betty, hurrying back from the telephone. "But, Bob, it isn't safe to stay down there—no telling when that other chunk of the wall may fall on all three of you. Shall I try to push it over from the inside?"
"Goodness, no, Betty! Keep as far away from it as you can. Well, we'll have to get him out of here, some way. You run back to that first store, please, and get half a dozen good strong strips of cloth about a foot wide and two or three feet long—anything that will do to tie his leg up to the splints. George, you bring over a few of those pieces of flooring that are not too badly charred to use for splints. There!"
He laid a long piece of flooring along Chance's left side, from below his foot clear to his armpit, and chose a shorter board for the inside splint. He arranged the two coats so that they would pad the broken leg where the boards came up against it, and tied the splints firmly, but not tightly, in place. Then Bob slowly gathered his groaning friend in his arms.
"Sorry to hurt you, old fellow, but we've got to get you out of here. You take his legs, George,—gently, now. So! We can climb out along that cave-in on the street side if we take it easy. Up we go!"
Better be safe than sorry. —SURE POP
ADVENTURE NUMBER TEN
THE TWINS MEET BRUCE
Chance Carter, lying helpless on the stone steps of Turner Hall, was wondering if the doctor would ever come. Bob and George did their best to ease his pain, while Betty gazed anxiously down the street.
"Why doesn't that doctor come?"
"Surely he knows where we are, Betty?"
"Yes, I told him Turner Hall, and he said, 'Why, Turner Hall burned down last night, little girl.' And I told him I knew it, and that we were waiting right beside what was left of it."
"Hm-m-m! Something must have happened to him then; he could have walked it in less time than this. If he doesn't come pretty soon, we'd better call up the police department and have them send the ambulance. We can't wait here much longer."
While they waited, an idea popped into Bob's head.
"Look here," he said, "somebody else is likely enough to get hurt here, just the way Chance did. I believe we'd better put up a sign. I'll get some paper from that store."
So Bob hurried around to the store and got some wrapping paper and nails and borrowed a pencil and hammer. He worked fast, the shopkeeper looking curiously over his shoulder while he lettered this sign:
These walls may fall on you any moment. One leg already broken here today. Keep out.
Bob had just finished the lettering when a big automobile came purring along in front of the ruined building. The chauffeur was in uniform. The big man inside looked almost lost among the cushions, so roomy was the machine. At a word from him, the car slowed down, and he scanned the ruins sharply. Bob knew him in a moment for Bruce, the great mill owner, one of the richest men in the city.
"Hello, what's this? What's this?" Bruce stood up in the car when the little group on the steps caught his eye. In a twinkling he was out of the automobile and bending over the groaning boy, while Bob and George and Betty told him what had happened.
"Tut, tut!" snapped the great man whose mills gave work to thousands of men, the twins' father among them. "This won't do at all! If the doctor won't come to him, we must get him to the doctor." Pushing aside the chauffeur, he lifted Chance into the car and on to the deep, comfortable cushions as easily as if he had been a child of two instead of a lad of twelve and big for his age.
"Now, jump in, the rest of you," he said, "and we'll take him over to Doctor MacArthur's."
Betty climbed in and George followed. The chauffeur took his seat and looked around at Bob, waiting. "What's the matter now?" asked Bruce, impatiently, as Bob lingered on the step.
"It's those walls," answered the boy. "I hate to leave them in that shape—somebody else will be getting hurt just as Chance did. I'd better put up the sign. You folks go on, please, and I'll follow on foot."
The mill owner shook his head. "Put up your sign and come along. We'll wait."
Bruce looked sharply at Bob's sign as the boy nailed it up in place, but said nothing. Bob climbed into the waiting automobile, and the big machine rolled smoothly, silently to the doctor's office.
Doctor MacArthur, surgeon's case in hand, came out. He was a little gray man—gray-haired, dressed in a gray suit, with keen gray eyes that seemed to take in everything at once.
"Who put those splints on?" He jerked out the words like a pistol shot.
"I did," said Bob, reddening; for the doctor's tone made him feel that he must have bungled his work.
Swiftly the doctor bared the leg and laid a deft finger on the exact spot of the break. "Simple fracture," was his verdict. "Bone badly splintered, though—would have come through the skin in short order if you hadn't got the splints on when you did. Where does he live?"
He took George's seat and George climbed over beside the chauffeur. On the way to Chance's house, he insisted on knowing how Bob had learned to give First Aid to the injured.
"So you're a Boy Scout, eh?" Another keen glance from those sharp gray eyes.
"N-no, sir—but I'm going to be."
"Eh? How's that?"
"He isn't quite old enough yet," explained George. "You have to be twelve or over to join the Boy Scouts. I'm one—but Bob knows a heap more about it already than I do," he added frankly.
"Ha! Well, I'll have to change my opinion of the Boy Scouts, young man. I always took it for granted they were a sort of feeder to our regular army—playing soldier, you know. But if this is the kind of work they turn out, I don't know but I'll join myself."
George got out when they reached Chance's house, and helped the doctor carry the injured lad up the steps. "You needn't wait for me," he told the twins, "I'm going to stay a while."
"Come in and see me some time," Doctor MacArthur called back to Bob. "I want you to tell me more about your First Aid work! See you later, Mr. Bruce."
"Home, Jennings," said Bruce. "And be quick about it—I'm late."
Bob leaned back against the cushions and studied the grim, square-jawed face of the great man whom everybody was so anxious to please. So this was the way he looked at close range, this self-made, stubborn man of millions who always managed to bend every other man in his line of business to his own iron will! As he looked, Bob felt it was no wonder they all feared him—feared and followed.
For Bruce was the man who, more than all the others put together, was responsible for keeping Safety First work out of the mills in his line of business. Hundreds of men were killed and thousands injured every year in the great string of mills of which Bruce's was the head. Over and over it had been pointed out to him that the same Safety First work which had saved thousands of lives in other lines would save them in his line as well. But he was stubborn, iron-willed.
"You're wasting your time," was all he would say. "No theories or new-fangled notions in my mills."
Because Bruce said this, all the other mills hung back, too. There were reasons. They knew Bruce.
All this Bob knew from talks he had had with his father about the risks of working in Bruce's mills. He understood it better, now that he was face to face with Bruce himself.
All too soon, to the twins' way of thinking, the automobile drew up in front of Bruce's big stone house. The mill owner wasted no words. Jumping out, he waved his hand to the three, said to Jennings, "Take them wherever they want to go," and hurried up the walk.
The eager face pressed against the big bay window disappeared, the front door flew open, and a sweet little fair-haired girl threw herself into Bruce's outstretched arms. "Daddy! What made you so late? Here I've been waiting and waiting—"
"Bonnie!" That was all the twins heard as the big automobile bore them away toward home. But the way he said it, and the way he caught his little daughter to his big, broad chest, told Bob and Betty all they needed to know about the soft spot in the millionaire's heart.
What did his great house and his mills and all his money amount to, after all? He would gladly have thrown them all aside rather than have the slightest harm come to his Bonnie; for her mother had died when Bonnie was only a baby, and the little girl was all Bruce had left in the world.
ADVENTURE NUMBER ELEVEN
"JUST FOR FUN"
The twins missed Chance Carter during the next few weeks. The boy had been a regular nuisance in some ways, for he was always getting into scrapes; but he was a clever lad and had a way of making up games that nobody else seemed able to think of.
"It does seem lonesome without Chance," Bob told Sure Pop when the broken leg had kept their friend tied up indoors for a week or more. "And yet we don't get into half as much trouble when he isn't round."
Sure Pop looked wise. "Perhaps it's because Chance hasn't learned that he must play according to the rules," he said. "The fellow who is always taking chances isn't playing up to the rules of the game."
"Anyhow," said Betty, "Chance has had his lesson now. By the time he's able to run around again, he will be ready to quit taking chances."
Sure Pop changed the subject, though a shrewd twinkle seemed to say that it would take more than one lesson to teach Chance how to play life's game according to the rules. "How'd you like to take a trip with me today?"
"Fine!" exclaimed Bob and Betty. "Where?"
"To a kind of moving picture show," answered Colonel Sure Pop. "Let's start right away, then. And be sure you wear your Safety First buttons."
The twins couldn't help smiling at the idea of going anywhere without their magic buttons. They boarded the crowded street car with Sure Pop and stood beside the motorman all the way to the railroad yards. It seemed as if somebody tried to get run over every block or two, and the way people crossed the crowded streets in the middle of blocks was enough to turn a motorman's hair gray.
"How'd you like to be the motorman, Bob?"
"Well, I tell you, Sure Pop, I don't believe it's as much fun as it looks from the outside. If fellows like Chance and George would ride beside the motorman for just one day, seeing what he has to see right along, they'd be Safety workers forever after. Look at that, now! Those chaps have no business to cross in the middle of the block."
"Nobody has," agreed Sure Pop, with a keen glance at Bob. The boy flushed as he remembered what he himself had been doing when he first felt the warning touch of the Safety Scout's hand.
He and Betty noticed, too, how carefully Sure Pop looked all around him before leaving the car, and they did likewise. Two short blocks more and they were in sight of the railroad roundhouse. The Safety Scout stuck his head inside the great doorway and peered around at the smoking engines that impatiently awaited their turn. "There she is!" he exclaimed. "There's old Seven-Double-Seven!" And he waved his hand at the engineer up in the cab.
The three climbed into the engine cab, where the fireman stood waiting with his eye on the steam gauge. From the way the engineer shook hands with Sure Pop, the twins decided they must be old friends.
"Got my orders?" asked the engineer. He ripped open the envelope Sure Pop handed him, glanced at the message, nodded to the fireman, and gently pulled open the throttle. The big, powerful engine answered his touch like a race horse. With a warning clang of the bell, they slipped down the shining track, through the crowded yards, and toward the city limits.
"Bob, what are you looking for?" asked Sure Pop.
Bob went on looking in all the corners of the cab as if greatly puzzled. "Looking for the moving picture machine," he said with a grin. "I thought I heard you promise us a moving picture show."
"You just wait. Be ready to rub your magic buttons when I say the word, both of you, and you'll see some moving pictures you'll never forget—pictures of what might happen to boys and girls like yourselves. The pity of it is, it does happen, every day of the year."
Sure Pop paused to call their attention to some little blurry patches of blue scattered along the track. "Wild flowers," he said. "Pretty things, aren't they? If we weren't going so fast, we'd stop and get some."
The engineer scowled. "Pretty? They don't look pretty to me any more. Look there, now!"
The brakes jarred as he spoke, and the shriek of the whistle scattered a group ahead. Several young couples, going home from town by way of the railroad track, had stopped to gather wild flowers. One couple were walking hand in hand over the railroad bridge, deaf at first to whistle and bell and everything else. Suddenly they heard, looked up, and turned first one way and then another, uncertain whether to jump off the bridge or stand their ground.
"Is it any wonder that I don't like the flower season?" grunted the engineer in disgust. "It's the worst time of all, seems to me. Now you'd think those young fellows and girls were old enough and would have sense enough to keep off the railroad's right of way, wouldn't you? But look at 'em!"
He mopped his forehead and glared ahead at the frightened couple, holding the panting engine at a standstill till they could scramble off the bridge.
"They act as if we had nothing to do but just watch out for 'em," he went on, getting under way again. "They got off scot-free this time, but imagine what old Seven-Double-Seven would have done to 'em if this had been my regular run! Forty miles an hour on schedule—and where would they be now?
"It's the same old story, day after day—boys riding bicycles down the tracks, when the road's ten times smoother and a million times as safe! Boys playing on the turntables and getting crippled for life, one by one!
"They'll run like mad to get across the track ahead of a fast train—and then stand and watch it go through! I ought to know—I did it myself when I was a boy, but little I knew then of the way it wrecks an engineer's nerves!
"They flip the cars and try to imitate the brakemen without the least idea of how many thousands of brakemen have lost their lives just that way. They crawl under cars, instead of waiting or going around. Why, Colonel, the railroads kill thousands and thousands of people every year—you know the figures—dozens every day, week in and week out. And somebody's badly hurt on the railroads every three minutes or less—and a third of them are boys and girls and little children! That's what I can't stand—the little folks getting hurt and getting killed, when just a bit of common sense would save them! Oh, if their fathers and mothers had any idea—"
The big engineer choked up for a moment. "Even on the trains," he added, "when they're safe inside the cars, they get hurt. I'm not the only one that worries on my run—ask the conductor. He'll tell you how they run up and down the aisle, till a sudden jar of the brakes throws 'em against a seat iron or into the other passengers. They get out into the vestibules, which is against the rules, and when the train takes a sudden curve they get smashed up."
Three minutes later he slowed down for the twins to watch the fast mail thunder past. It was near a village crossing, and a little group of boys stood waiting. As No. 777 came to a stop, the twins saw that most of the boys had stones in their hands.
On came the fast mail, tearing past the little village as if it were not even on the map. The mail cars—the smoker—the long rows of glass windows, a head beside each—
Smash! The flying splinters of glass told of one stone that had found its mark. The boys ran like scared cats around the corner into a lumber yard.
"Little cowards!" The fireman glared angrily after them. "They may have killed somebody on that train—they don't know!"
"Rub your buttons!" whispered Sure Pop, whose eyes were still fixed on the fast mail, now disappearing in a cloud of smoke and dust.
Bob and Betty rubbed. At their first touch of the magic buttons the disappearing train took on a queer, unreal look, like a film at the "movies."
They seemed to be inside one of the cars. They seemed to be watching a sweet-faced old lady—somebody's grandmother—snowy haired, kind, gentle, not used to traveling, as even the twins could see. She kept looking first at the time-table and then at an old key-winding silver watch she wore on a quaint little chain around her neck.
Her lips were moving, smiling. "Only two stops more," she seemed to be saying, "and then I shall see little Jim." She took a kodak picture out of her handbag and looked at it long and lovingly. She glanced out of the window and saw a group of boys standing by the village crossing "to watch the fast mail go through." She liked boys. She smiled at them—she did not see the stones in their hands.
Smash! The other passengers sprang to their feet as one of the stones, thrown at random, shivered the car window into bits and struck the kind old face, full between the eyes. A quick, startled cry—a pitiful fumbling of kind old hands before shattered spectacles and eyes suddenly blinded—and the moving picture seemed to fade away. The twins were left with the sickening fear that perhaps little Jim's grandmother might never see him after all.
"Oh! oh!" gasped Betty, rubbing her eyes. "How terrible!" Bob caught Sure Pop by the arm.
"Did we imagine it, Sure Pop—or was it true?"
"Too true," said Sure Pop, sadly. "It happens almost every day somewhere—where boys throw stones at the cars 'just for fun'!"
ADVENTURE NUMBER TWELVE
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
"And just to think," said Bob, as the three sat on the home steps talking over their exciting trip on old No. 777, "just to think of how many boys and girls are killed on the railroad tracks every day!"
"Every day," echoed the little Safety Scout, "and all over the world. Go into any village graveyard along any railroad, and you'll find the grave of some boy or girl who has been killed trespassing on the railroad tracks. No way to save them, I'm afraid, till folks wake up to the fact that it's not so much the tramps who are being killed this way—it's the children!"
"It's just awful," said Betty, puckering up her brow in a thoughtful scowl. "I think we ought to do something about it."
"What, for instance?" Sure Pop was watching her sharply.
"Well, something to put a stop to it. Surely we could find some way of teaching the boys and girls how to play safely; and then when they grew up they'd be in the habit of thinking Safety. Then they'd teach their boys and girls—and all this awful killing and crippling, or most of it, would be ended."
"The trouble is," said Bob, "in going at the thing in too much of a hit-or-miss style. We could do some good by talking to the few boys and girls we could reach, but not enough. Why can't we organize?"
Sure Pop's eager face lighted up, overjoyed at the turn Bob's thoughts were taking. "You can," he said quietly.
"Why, sure!" went on Bob, getting more and more excited as the idea took hold. "Let's get busy and organize an army of Safety Scouts right here. We've already got the biggest thing in the Safety Scout Law at work—don't you see?—our 'One Boost for Safety' every day. We can get some more Safety Scout buttons made, and as fast as a boy earns his—"
"—Or a girl earns hers!"—interrupted Betty, so seriously that Bob couldn't help smiling.
"Yes, of course—girls too—why, as fast as boys and girls earn the right to wear Safety Scout buttons, we can form them into patrols. It wouldn't be long before we could have several troops hard at it. I tell you, Sure Pop, if we go at it that way we can do big things for Safety just as sure as you're a foot high!"
Sure Pop gave Betty a droll little wink. "It's a go, then," he said cheerfully. "Well, where are you going to begin?"
Bob looked up at him with a sudden idea shining in his eyes. "Why not begin by organizing in patrols and then in troops, just about like the Boy Scouts? First, we can get a few of our friends interested, and let each one of them get eleven others interested—that will make a patrol of twelve, commanded by the one who got them together."
"Spoken like a Scout and a gentleman!" cried the little Colonel, giving him a sounding thump on the shoulder. "Go on, Bob—what next?"
"Well, just as fast as we get four new patrols, we can form them into a troop, with a Scout Master for their leader."
"Good," said Sure Pop. "It will take some lively work to pick your Scout Masters and get them trained in time, but the difference in their efficiency will be worth your while."
"I suppose," said Betty, "we'll have to choose only boys and girls who have good records for Safety?"
Bob looked doubtful. "What do you think about that, Sure Pop?"
"I think it would be a mistake, Bob. You'll find too few who have even learned to think Safety. A better plan will be to take in those who seem most in earnest over the idea, especially those who have been taught a hard lesson through accidents which care would have avoided."
"Go on, please. Tell us more—how would you work out the details?"
"Bob, I would—but I believe I've told you enough. You and Betty go ahead in your own way and work out the details yourselves. Let me see you get your Safety Scouts together, if you really do mean business, and I'll show you about the work that's already been done among the factory hands and mill-workers of America.
"Let me tell you this much, though: you'll find, when you get your Safety Scouts of America organized, that the good work will go ahead by leaps and bounds. All this talk about 'efficiency' is really part of the same movement, though very few realize it; it's nothing more or less than cutting out guess work and waste—and what else, after all, is our Safety work?"
"That's so. It really is all working in the same direction, isn't it?" agreed Bob. "Chance Carter's oldest brother is studying to be an efficiency engineer—perhaps he can give us some ideas."
"Then—you really do mean to get busy and organize the Safety Scouts of America?"
"Mean it!" Bob and Betty fairly shouted the words in their eagerness to get to work. And as Sure Pop said good night to them, there was a joyous light in his eye which showed his plan was working out just as he had thought it would.
He smiled a satisfied smile as the door closed on the excited Dalton twins. "And now," said Colonel Sure Pop to himself, "now, we're getting down to business!"
Enlist now! We fight to save life, not to take it. —SURE POP
ADVENTURE NUMBER THIRTEEN
The next few weeks were busy ones for Bob and Betty Dalton. The plan was a big one—the Safety Scouts of America. Growing out of an idea planted by Colonel Sure Pop, it sprouted and grew surprisingly fast. Already the news was spreading like wildfire among the boys and girls all over the city.