THE BOY SCOUT TREASURE HUNTERS
or THE LOST TREASURE OF BUFFALO HOLLOW
by CHARLES HENRY LERRIGO
Illustrated By CHARLES L. WRENN
Published With The Approval Of THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
Publishers BARSE & HOPKINS New York, N. Y.—Newark, N. J.
Copyright 1917 by Barse & Hopkins
The Boy Scout Treasure Hunters
Printed in the United States of America
TO MY SON FRANK LERRIGO IN THE HOPE THAT IT MAY HELP HIM TO BE A "GOOD SCOUT"
CHAPTER PAGE I Glen Mason Runs Away 9 II A Friend and a Foe 22 III Jolly Bill Is Considerably Upset 34 IV How Mother Cares 46 V Treacherous Indians at Buffalo Lake 56 VI Getting Acquainted 68 VII Glen Is Initiated 79 VIII Matt Burton's Treasure Find 91 IX Glen Enlists 102 X J. Jervice and His Gang 112 XI Glen Follows a False Trail 120 XII The Bee Tree 133 XIII The Chase on the Motor-Bike 144 XIV Safe at Camp Buffalo 154 XV Strength and Loyalty 167 XVI Detective Matty 177 XVII The End of the Jervice Gang 189 XVIII Glen and Apple Find the Cave 203 XIX Buried in the Cave 214 XX The Treasure of Buffalo Lake 227 XXI What Became of Them 240
PAGE A few rapid and accurate strokes with the pick loosened the hard earth Frontispiece
"Brave Man!" sneered the leader. "Get me a little rope an' I'll do him up scientific" 131
Glen watched the three walk back up the road at a lock-step gait 198
With the lighted lanterns they could get a better idea of their surroundings 211
THE BOY SCOUT TREASURE HUNTERS
GLEN MASON RUNS AWAY
It was the supper hour at the State Industrial School for Boys, known to the general public as "The Reform School."
Glen Mason sat on a long bench trying to hold the place next to him against the stealthy ravages of the boys who crowded him.
"Where's Nixy?" he inquired angrily of his neighbor on the right. "Did he go to town again?"
"He's back," the boy replied. "Just got in an' had to go up and change his clothes. Had the toothache again to-day, he told me. Here he comes, now."
A lanky boy of fifteen or sixteen got into the vacant seat just as the chaplain rose to say grace. After grace no loud talking was permitted, but no objection was made to whispered conversations that did not become too noisy.
"How's it come you go to town so often and I don't ever get to go, Nixy?" whispered Glen, the moment grace was ended.
"One thing you don't have the toothache, another thing you get too many demerits. The fellows that get to town have to go thirty days without a black sign. You never could do it, Glen."
"I could if I wanted. I'm twenty days now. Wouldn't hurt me to go another ten. If I went to town alone I'd never come back."
"It ain't so easy, Glen. You have to wear your uniform so everybody knows what you are. If you aren't back by six o'clock they have the police after you. The old man made a great talk about his honor system, but as long as you have to wear your uniform there's plenty of people to watch you."
"I could find a way to get around that," insisted Glen.
"Well, so could I. I've got one all planned out that I'm going to work some day. I'll get leave to go to the dentist late some afternoon. The car to come back leaves his office at five o'clock. He doesn't want to stay until five because he goes off to play golf. So he'll leave me in his waiting-room when he goes. I'll have a suit of overalls rolled up under my uniform. Soon as the doctor goes I'll change my clothes. You can't get out without being seen but I'll hide right there in the building till it closes and then get down the fire-escape."
"I guess somebody'd see you go down and a policeman would get you."
"I guess they wouldn't. I wouldn't try till late at night when there wasn't anybody around. Then I'd pick a dark night, and that fire-escape is in the back end of the building, so I guess there wouldn't nobody see me."
"Oh, mebbe there wouldn't. Supposin' you did get away. Where'd you go?"
"I'd have that all fixed. I'd put on my other clothes and pitch my uniform away and that night would get me twenty-five miles where nobody'd think of looking for me."
"Oh, I dunno. I guess you'd be easy picked up. Anybody could tell you a mile off. All to do is to look for a broom handle out walking all by itself."
"Broom handle yourself, Glen Mason. I've got the makings of a big man if ever I'd get enough to eat."
"You go high enough up to be a big man, but you've stretched too much. If you'd ever learn to be a contortionist and tie yourself into three knots close together, you'd do better."
"You're always saying something mean. I wish I hadn't told you my plan at all."
"I won't do anything to your old plan."
"I ain't so sure. 'Twouldn't be above ye to steal it."
"I s'pose you dare me to do it."
"Yes, I dare ye to do it."
"An' you think I'd steal a plan from a mate?"
"I think you'd do anything."
There were many who had just as poor an opinion of Glen. He himself found it remarkably easy to do mean and low acts and had almost ceased to wonder at himself. Every day seemed to find a lower level for his setting. Nixon had correctly guessed his thoughts. Already he was turning over in his mind the feasibility of Nixon's plan of escape and wondering if he could himself take advantage of it. He had been in the reform school over a year, but it had not reformed him. The new superintendent, with his kindness, had won the hearts of many of the most wayward boys, but no impression had he made on Glen. As a matter of fact the boy rather laughed at his foolishness. To put boys on their honor, to trust the merit boys to go into town without guard, all was new policy, and the only interest Glen had in it was to take advantage of it. Let him get one single chance to go to town alone and the reform school would see no more of him. Just what he would do he did not know. Sometimes a fleeting thought of going home to see the mother whose heart must be almost broken by his waywardness and the young sister and brother who were carefully guarded from knowledge of the disgrace he had brought upon them would come to him. But though he was supposed to be dead to impulses for reform there always crept into his mind the desire that his return home should be only when he had enough money and enough honor so that he should not be welcomed as a penitent but as a conquering hero. Glen was much given to great thoughts of the mighty things he would do and the high stations he would occupy. Unfortunately his pride of thought had never made him insist that his inclination yield to right instead of to desire. Glen Mason's fault was easily summed up—he desired always his own way and had so allowed this inclination to fill his life that he was utterly regardless of others. Given his own way he was a pleasant chum, a good friend and a brave comrade.
When Glen wanted a thing very badly he would go to great lengths to get it. Having set for his goal the thirty days of good behavior marks he was bound to win it, though greatly to the surprise of the officers who had never known Glen to pass so long a time without fracturing a great number of rules. No sooner was his time up than he asked leave to go to town to visit the dentist.
The Superintendent was rather disturbed by the request. He had been both pleased and surprised by Glen's good behavior. Now that the boy had earned the privilege of going to town without guard he did not wish to spoil his good work by a refusal to trust him. Yet he was suspicious. He asked that Glen be sent to the office.
"Why do you want to go to the dentist, Glen?" he asked kindly. "What attention do your teeth need?"
Glen was confused. So far as he knew his teeth were sound as bullets. He had not sunk to the place where lies were easy of expression.
"I don't know just what, sir," he stammered, wishing that he could think of something. "The dentist will know what they need."
This was as good an answer as he could have made, although stumbled on by chance.
"You want the dentist to go over them to find what is the matter, do you?" said the soft-hearted superintendent.
"Yes, sir. I want the dentist to find what is the matter."
"It isn't a bad idea," said the superintendent. "It won't be necessary for you to go to town, though, for the dentist is coming out here next week."
"But I don't want to wait until next week," cried Glen. "I want to go to-day. I want him to pull one out."
"Which one?" inquired the superintendent.
It made little difference to Glen which tooth he denoted for the sacrifice. Now that he had told the lie he would stay by it. He pointed to a big double tooth and resolved that he would remember it.
The superintendent looked at the tooth and at the boy.
"Perhaps you don't know how much that tooth is worth?"
"No, sir," agreed Glen.
"A very conservative price is a hundred dollars, at your age. You wouldn't throw a hundred dollars away."
"No, sir; but I want it pulled."
It was all very well to talk of a hundred dollars, but when Glen had his mind set on a matter he would make any sacrifice.
"Well, you must not have it pulled. But have the dentist look at it. I will give you a pass for this afternoon. You will wear your uniform, walk to the car line and take the street car to the dentist's office. Let me ask you one thing, Glen. Don't forget to come back."
It was as if the superintendent read his thoughts. Glen changed color and looked foolish. He could think of only one thing to say. "At what time, sir?"
"You will be in by six o'clock. As you go to town and see the boys at liberty on the streets remember that if you keep up your good behavior you may soon be paroled and be as free as they. All you have to do, Glen, is to keep it up."
As he went to put on his uniform, the hated uniform that made it so hard for him to lose himself in the crowd, Glen realized better how it was that Nixon and some of the others who had been given liberty in town had never violated their trust. It seemed abominably mean and small to go back on a man like this. He actually began to have his own doubts. But it was very hard for Glen Mason to give up anything on which he had set his heart.
There were several things went wrong which were quite disturbing. In the first place he was obliged to change his clothing under the eye of the physical director which utterly spoiled any scheme of hiding a suit of overalls under his uniform. The walk to the street car and the ride to the doctor's office would have been very enjoyable had not every one stared at him and his uniform. More than once he heard some one say "There goes a reform school boy." Then the dentist did all manner of things in his efforts to find the nonexistent aching tooth. Finally he did find an area of tenderness in an entirely different tooth to the one specified.
"Does this tooth hurt you more than the others!" he asked.
"It does," Glen agreed, quite truthfully, an involuntary "Ouch" following his words.
"I thought as much," the doctor observed. "It is often hard to locate the pain definitely. The nerve reflexes are responsible for it. I will now drill into this and see what we find."
"Do you have to drill?" asked Glen.
"Surely. Have to clean out all the old decayed tooth before I fill it. I often give the boys from the school a little sermon by telling them the bad has to be cleaned out before you get sound living."
"Make it as easy as you can," Glen requested.
"Yes, of course. But cleaning out decay often hurts."
It did hurt but Glen would have fainted rather than make an outcry.
The doctor stepped to the 'phone and called up the superintendent.
"It's all right with the Mason boy," he said. "I've done all I can to-day for him. I'm leaving now. What shall he do until time for his car."
He turned to Glen as he received a reply.
"You are to wait until five o'clock in my reception room and then take the inter-urban car," he said, locking the inner office when they passed out. "I am leaving a little early to-night."
Before he left he stepped into a little closet which led out of the reception room and changed his office clothes. Glen's eyes sparkled. His problem was solved.
At five o'clock Glen Mason rode down in the elevator to the ground floor and asked the elevator man how he could identify the inter-urban car. But instead of leaving the building he dodged back to the stairway as soon as the elevator had started on its return trip and ran stealthily up the stairs and again entered the dentist's reception room. It was empty. Glen boldly entered the little closet and dressing himself in the dentist's office clothes made a bundle of his uniform. The closet was both deep and high. He climbed to the top shelf and shoved his bundle far back over its wide surface against the wall. He dared not risk going out in the doctor's clothing in daylight. He must stay until the building was deserted and use the fire escape. His great fear was lest some one should come to the reception room. The only safeguard was concealment in the hot, dark closet. He waited hours without any disturbance. He felt sure that it must be almost midnight. Stealthily he opened the door of the closet and stepped to a window. It was still daylight, though the sun was setting. He returned to his closet.
It must have been some hours afterward that he heard footsteps and voices outside the door. In sudden desperation he climbed up and lay flat on the wide shelf where he had hidden the uniform. Someone opened the door of the closet, glanced inside and shut it again.
"I tell you I took him down about five o'clock and showed him his car. He ain't here," said the voice of the elevator man.
"I have to make sure," replied his companion.
Glen knew the voice for that of one of the school officials. So already they were seeking him!
After all was quiet Glen ventured to open the closet door and peep out. It was dark now but there were lights in the hall. After a long time they were extinguished and the building seemed deserted. The last late worker departed. The elevator ceased its rhythmic motion.
Glen waited yet longer for a time and then crept down the hall to the fire-escape, which he made out by a red light. It was a dark night, but, nerved to the act, he made no hesitation as he swung himself out on to the iron bars. It was an old-fashioned escape, bars at wide intervals so close to the wall as to leave hardly a toe hold. Down, down he went, not daring to look to see where he was going but clinging fast and letting one step follow another. Then suddenly the ladder stopped. Feel as he would, in this direction or in that, there were no more steps. He had known of fire-escapes ending ten or twelve feet from the ground with an extension which might be lowered. But he found no extension. He looked down, but it was black night and he could see nothing but shadowy outlines. Looking up, the ladder soon disappeared in the darkness. There was no sense in mounting again. He let down his legs as far as he could reach, with his body balanced on his elbows, then he let himself hang by his hands and kicked out in the hope of finding some landing. There was nothing to be felt but the brick wall. His arms grew tired as he swung. His efforts to draw up again were ineffectual. In desperation he swung off into space.
Splash! He was choking and gasping in water!
A FRIEND AND A FOE
Splashing about in his watery quarters Glen speedily discovered that he had fallen into an enormous rain barrel. He was able to reach the top with his hands, and lost no time in drawing himself up and crawling over the side. Then he stood in the shelter of the barrel and wrung a gallon or so of water out of the doctor's clothes. When the job was finished he had pretty well destroyed the identity of that suit of clothing. The draggled, wrinkled and stained garments bore no resemblance to the neat office suit. His mishap had given material help in effecting a disguise.
He struck out away from the town and met no one to interfere with him as he walked along the quiet residence streets. Just at the edge of the city he was attracted by a great illumination. It was the electric lighting of a park, which even at that hour was thronged with visitors. The boy who had been shut up for a year and more looked hungrily through the great entrance way. It was free to all. He walked cautiously in, keeping a suspicious eye wide for policemen; for though he thought he was free he was in bondage to his guilty conscience.
Of the many attractions the one which made the greatest appeal to Glen—and the only one he could afford, for his sole fortune was the nickel he had for car-fare—was the merry-go-round with its gaudy horses and its gurdy tunes. He bought a ticket and mounted one of the turbulent steeds with a little thrill of anticipatory pleasure. The music began, the movement gradually quickened, and he was just giving himself up to the pleasure of it when he saw working toward him, on the inside running-board, a man collecting tickets. On his coat was the nickeled badge of a constable. Glen did not know that he was a special officer for the sole purpose of protecting his own outfit against rowdies. In his eyes it was the approach of the law. Although they were now swinging round at a good rate he slipped from his horse and jumped, at peril of his neck. The sight of an official badge struck terror to his soul.
So it was wherever he went. He saw in every man an officer. One might have supposed the park policed by an army. He had just dodged one of the two real park policemen when he overheard a momentous conversation.
A man from the bathhouse came by.
"Anything doing, Jake?" he asked the officer.
"Nothing much," replied the policeman. "They 'phoned us a boy got away from the reform school. They think he might just have come out to the park for fun and overstayed. Ain't seen any one, have ye?"
"Well, if he's in here we'll get him as he goes out. I'll watch one gate and Barney the other."
So they were on the look out for him. But there was nothing in his present clothing to suggest the reform school boy, and though he was hatless there were numbers of hatless boys in the park. There were many people of all kinds, in fact, and if he went with the crowd, he could surely slip out unnoticed. Yet he feared to attempt to pass the representative of the law at the gate. How conscience doth make cowards of us all!
It was a good deed, done impulsively, that solved Glen's problem. An automobile was passing. The occupants were all watching the bathers in the lake, excepting a little chap of three who had seized the opportunity to climb over the door with the evident idea of jumping to the ground. When Glen saw him he was poised on the running board ready for his jump. Like a flash Glen jumped for the footboard of the moving car and interposed his body as an obstacle to the little fellow's leap. The women in the car screamed and the man who was driving stopped his car in surprise at the intrusion. It was only when Glen hauled the little boy up to view that they saw what he had done.
"I am Jonathan Gates," said the man, offering Glen his hand, "and this is my wife and daughter. We don't know how to thank you for saving that little scamp from harm."
"We might at least take you back into town," suggested Mrs. Gates.
"But I am going west, into the country," said Glen.
"That is still better," said Mr. Gates. "We live eight miles west of here and will take you wherever you say."
"I'll go just as far as you go," Glen replied. "I live away out west and am on my way on foot. Every mile is a help."
They passed through the gates without any notice from the officer who was watching for an escaped Reform School boy, and Glen felt safe again.
"We have not visited the park in a long while," explained Mrs. Gates, "and it was all new to us. That is why we lost sight of Jack. He was very anxious to run back and see the monkeys again."
"I have never been there before at all," said Glen. "And I am glad I saw this monkey. I was passing and I just went in by chance."
"Not chance," said Mr. Gates. "Let us say Providence. Our boy might have been badly hurt or even killed. Certainly you were led by Providence, or I would rather be more definite and say the hand of God."
"Oh I don't know. I guess not," stammered Glen, greatly embarrassed. He wondered what Mr. Gates would say if he knew that he came to the park in running away from the reform school. He had not yet learned that the power of God may even overrule our evil for good. But he was quite willing to agree that his good fortune in meeting the Gates family might be God's providence.
He felt his good fortune still more when Mrs. Gates insisted that he must stay with them at least one night. He yielded, thinking that he would get up very early and slip away before they were astir in the morning. But the excitement of the day had such an effect that he overslept and did not waken until called to breakfast.
The effect of this family was something such as Glen had never known. All they knew of him was his name, but they took him at his word. They accepted his statements without a question—a most unusual thing in his experience. They showed him every kindness. At breakfast Mr. Gates heaped his plate with good things. They were so cordial in their invitation to stay and rest for awhile that he could not refuse them. They showed to him such a spirit of love as made him feel that, after all, Christian people were different from others, and to begin to be sorry that he had taken advantage of the good, old superintendent. They planted in his softened heart seeds of kindness and love which were bound to blossom.
Glen stayed two days, and might have remained longer, but on the morning of the third day, coming down early, he picked up the day-old paper which Mr. Gates had been reading. It was folded back at a place which told of his disappearance from the reform school. He was ashamed to look again in their faces, so he stole out the back way, passed through the barn, and thus made his way out into the dusty road.
His thoughts, as he trudged along, were far from cheerful. Although he had strong, boyish desires to fare forth into the world alone, he much disliked to leave this cheery home. Had he been a clean, honorable boy with a good record he might have stayed there and learned to be a man.
His gloomy thoughts were diverted by the sight of a man who seemed to be having troubles of his own. He was down at the side of an automobile, perspiring freely and vexed with the whole world as he unsuccessfully labored at changing a tire. The automobile was no ordinary car. It had a driver's seat in front and a closed car behind like the closed delivery wagons Glen had seen in town. Bright colored letters announced to the world that J. Jervice supplied the public with a full line of novelties, including rugs, curtains, rare laces and Jervice's Live Stock Condition Powders.
"Can I help you," volunteered Glen. It is worthy of note that the service was freely offered before the man spoke so much as a word. It had not been Glen's habit to volunteer help. He was feeling the influence of the home he had just left.
The offer was not kindly received. The man's reply was so churlish as to leave open the suspicion that he was not naturally a man of pleasant ways.
"Garn away f'm here," he snarled. "I don't need no boys spyin' around my car."
"Who's spyin'?" asked Glen defiantly. "You seem to need somebody pretty bad. You ain't man enough to strip that tire off."
"Nor nobody else wouldn't be," declared the man. "Leastways nobody with jest one pair of hands. While I pry it off one end it slips back on the other. Are you strong?" he asked, stopping to look at Glen.
"I'm pretty stout for my age," admitted Glen, modestly, "but I don't want to help nor spy, if you don't want me."
"I could use another pair of hands," the peddler admitted. "I can't pay you nothing for it, though, unless it be a ride to town."
"That is just what I want," agreed Glen. "It's a bargain."
The perspiration of Mr. J. Jervice had not been without occasion. The tire he was trying to change had done good service—it was, in fact, the very first tire that wheel had ever carried. Perhaps it cherished fond hopes of remaining in service as long as the wheel to which it clung—at least it resisted most strenuously all efforts to detach it. Both Glen and the man were moist with their efforts before it came away, and they accumulated still more dirt and moisture in applying its successor. But at last it was all done, and Glen had already mounted to the seat, while his companion was putting away his tools, when a cart drove up alongside and Glen recognized in the driver, Mr. Gates.
"What's the matter?" he asked, as Mr. Gates pulled up his horse.
"What's the matter?" echoed Mr. J. Jervice; "this boy been doing anything?"
It was not an unnatural question for there was something in Mr. Gates's look and in Glen's questioning tone that betokened affairs out of the ordinary; furthermore, Mr. J. Jervice seemed to be so suspicious of people in general that one might well think he had something to conceal.
"The boy's all right," replied Mr. Gates. "I have something to say to him, that's all. If he will come over here we will drive on a few feet while I say it."
Glen's thoughts flew back to the folded newspaper and he was instantly suspicious.
"I don't want to get down," he said. "This gentleman's agreed to give me a ride to town and I don't want to keep him."
"But I want you to stay," replied Mr. Gates. "I will take you to town if you wish, but first I want you to go back home with me and I will tell you something important."
Glen felt one of his old, unrestrained passions rising within him.
"I know what you want," he cried. "I saw the newspaper. You want to send me back to the reform school."
"I want to help you make a man of yourself," asserted Mr. Gates, unmoved by the boy's passion. "It's true I want you to go back to the school, but I will go with you and speak for you. You must go back because it is the only right way out. Let me tell you, Glen, you will never get over a trouble by running away from it. The manly and Christian thing to do is to go back. And that is why I want you to do it."
"And of course you don't want the reward of ten dollars that's always paid for returning a boy. You wouldn't take the money, would you?"
If the eyes of Mr. Gates were saddened by this mean sneer those of Mr. J. Jervice were not. They lightened with a sudden interest, and he jumped into the battle for the first time.
"This boy's a goin' with me," he told Mr. Gates. "He's earned a ride and I promised it and I'm a man of my word. You be off, now, and leave him alone."
"You are spoiling his best chance," said Mr. Gates. "I am not interested in the school or the reward. I am simply trying to do my duty to the boy."
"Well, you've done it," cried Mr. J. Jervice, as his car gathered headway. "Good-by to ye."
He turned to Glen as the car got into its speed.
"So you've run away from the reform school, eh? And he was goin' to make ten dollars taking you back?"
"Oh, he didn't want the ten dollars," said Glen, his rage all gone. "He treated me awful fine while I was at his house. I just said that because I was mad. But he can't get me to go back; nor nobody else unless they tie me up first."
"I don't know?" said Mr. J. Jervice. "Ten dollars is pretty near a week's pay for most men."
"That wouldn't make any difference with him," said Glen. "He's straight as a string."
Mr. Gates would have been gratified to know how deep an impression his Christian character had made on this boy who had flouted his kindness.
Mr. J. Jervice was not inclined to conversation—he was puzzling over a problem something akin to that of the fox and the geese (he to be the fox). So they drove along in comparative silence until, topping a hill, Glen exclaimed at the sight of the buildings of a large town.
"Are we almost there?" he asked.
"About three miles yet," said Mr. J. Jervice. "What you going to do when we get there?"
"I'm not sure, but I think I'd better leave you before we get to town. I don't believe Mr. Gates would telephone the police but somebody else might."
"You can ride with me a couple o' miles yet. Tell ye what ye can do. S'pose'n you get inside. There's lots o' room and there's a ventilator back o' this seat will give ye air. You be real careful and not go fussing around disturbing things. There's things there I wouldn't want ye to touch."
It seemed a good idea. Mr. J. Jervice unlocked the doors in the back and Glen stepped inside. The doors slammed behind him and he heard the heavy steel bar drop into its slots. Then he heard something like a laugh—a foxy laugh. Why should Mr. J. Jervice laugh? At once his suspicions were awakened.
As Mr. J. Jervice climbed to his seat again Glen shouted to him through the ventilator.
"Stop," he shouted. "I've changed my mind. I don't like being in here and I believe I'll take my chance with you on the front seat."
Mr. J. Jervice paid no attention.
JOLLY BILL IS CONSIDERABLY UPSET
The treachery of Mr. J. Jervice was now very clear. He had decided that he himself would hand Glen over to the authorities and receive the ten dollars reward. Since Glen was almost as big as he, there had been some question how he should restrain the boy. He thought this all settled by his clever scheme, and the ten dollars practically in his pocket. No wonder he chuckled.
But it is well for those who cage wild animals to be sure that the cage is properly prepared. Glen looked around in the gloom of the car. He knew it was useless to bump against those solid doors. The way out lay through Mr. J. Jervice, and the time for getting out was very brief. On a shelf lay a bundle of sticks. He pulled on one and found on the other end a flag. It was an emblem. The flag should bring him freedom.
Glen found that the flag stick would just poke through the ventilator railing. Being effectively poked it struck Mr. J. Jervice neatly in the back of the neck, and the poke being vigorous, it aroused his attention quite thoroughly.
"Stop that," he cried, hastily dodging. "Them flags is worth a quarter apiece, and you'll break the handle."
"Stop and let me out," cried Glen.
"I can't stop now. I just made this change to accommodate you, remember. Stopping and starting is awfully expensive—takes as much gasoline as running a mile. We'll be in town in five minutes."
"And then you think you will sell me for ten dollars. You'll lose money on it, Mr. Jervice. I have a sharp, open knife in my hand. I'm going to turn loose on everything in—"
"Don't you dare," shouted Mr. Jervice.
"But I will if you don't stop. You want to send me back to the reform school. All I'll get will be a little longer sentence. Will that pay you for your goods?"
Mr. J. Jervice reluctantly stopped his car. He saw ten dollars vanishing into the atmosphere. Whether Glen would have been as destructive as he threatened does not enter into this record. We are obliged to admit that at this time he was a wilful lad, and he was especially provoked at this man because he had dragged him from the counsel and aid of Mr. Gates for the sole purpose of his personal gain. It is enough for us to know that Mr. J. Jervice quite believed that a reform school boy with a knife was equal to anything.
"Everything in here is in just as good order as when I came in," said Glen, when the doors were opened. "I earned this ride, so I don't owe you anything. Now you stand away off and let me get out."
There was no need to be so emphatic. Mr. J. Jervice was neither a big man nor a brave man, and had no idea of offering any opposition. He stood well aside as Glen jumped from the car and ran away through the fields.
One thing was very clear to Glen. Mr. J. Jervice would certainly reach town in a few minutes and just as certainly would advise the authorities to look out for him. He might even come back with the officer, knowing that the boy would have but a short start. Glen was standing by an abandoned stone quarry as these thoughts came to him. It contained many nooks and corners in which a boy might hide, and would be far safer for the present than tramping along the road or in the fields. So he picked out a secluded nook and lay there until evening. He watched eagerly for signs of an officer or Mr. J. Jervice, but also fruitlessly. Had he but known it he was perfectly safe, for Mr. J. Jervice was again having troubles of his own. Perhaps this was his day for trouble.
Spending a whole day cooped up in a little niche about ten feet long by three wide, even though it be as high as the heavens, is dreary work for a boy. The time dragged terribly. In his work on the school farm Glen had learned to use the sun for a clock quite accurately, so there was no deceiving himself as to time. He had eaten a good breakfast before leaving the Gates' home so there was no occasion for excessive hunger, but he did get very thirsty. Looking down through the old quarry he fancied he saw a pump, and when the sun reached its noon zenith he crept cautiously down and satisfied his thirst. There was no one in sight, yet he felt afraid to venture toward the town before dark, and went back to his hiding place.
On the way back he made a great find. Some careless workman had left a mallet and chisel lying by a huge slab of stone. They were rusted by the weather but otherwise in good condition. Glen took them to his hiding place and spent a great deal of the afternoon cleaning off the rust. Then he began work on a rough block of stone which lay near and was greatly gratified at the result of his labors. So the afternoon slipped away without the dreariness of the morning.
He was hungry now and tired and consumed with loneliness. His thoughts turned to the pleasant home he had just left with a great longing. They had given him good treatment—the Gates family. He contrasted Mr. Gates with Mr. Jervice, stirring in his bosom a great indignation at the treachery of Jervice, and also awakening a great trust and confidence in Mr. Gates. Perhaps he was right after all. Perhaps it would be a good thing for him to go back to the school, serve out his time, and then try to make a man of himself. If the school had been close at hand he would have gone at once, for the supper-time picture which rose to his mind, with the crowd of boys ready for their plain but wholesome food was a very attractive one just now. Where his supper was to come from he did not know, for his only nickel had paid for the ticket to the merry-go-round.
Now that it was dark enough to make his travel safe he picked up his chisel and mallet and climbed up the side of the quarry. The tools gave him an idea. They were marketable and would surely provide a supper for him. He looked them over as closely as the fading light would allow but found no marks or initials to indicate the owner. So he felt a little more certain of his plans as he hurried along the road toward the town.
He had no intention of going to a big store and offering the tools for sale. His choice would be rather a small general shop where he could get both food and a hat in exchange for his offering. He felt that the lack of a hat as he walked through the streets would be sure to attract attention. He found just the place he needed at the very outskirts of the town, a little "general utility store" designed to supply the needs of the dwellers in outlying houses who did not wish to go to town for every purchase.
But the dealer was suspicious of a bareheaded boy in a man's suit of clothes offering to trade a mallet and chisel for a meal and a straw hat.
"Where did you get these things?" he asked, as he closely examined the tools.
"I found them in the old quarry east of town," replied Glen.
"You found them! They don't look like tools that have been lying around in an old quarry."
"No, sir. Because I spent all afternoon cleaning them up."
"I hope that's true, boy. I want to be fair with you. Wait a minute while I make a few inquiries."
He turned to the telephone; and even as he did so Glen fled through the open door. It was unfair, miserably unfair, he told himself as he ran, and the hot tears filled his eyes. He had found these tools all rusty, and spent all afternoon cleaning them, and now this man was bound to call up the police. He did not stop to think that if he had been an honest boy with a good record calling up the police would have meant nothing to him.
Glen slowed his pace to a walk after a few blocks; a running boy was too conspicuous. Every time he saw a man in any kind of a uniform he dodged out of his way. A street-car conductor on his way home, who passed near to him, gave him a great scare. And at last came a policeman who really did start after him; at least he walked in his direction and when Glen started to run he ran too. Glen was terribly frightened. He ran madly, not once looking behind, and therefore ignorant of the fact that after one block the officer gave up the chase after a boy who was probably playing some foolish joke. It was a hot night but the sweat on Glen's face was caused as much by terror as by his exertion. He ran not knowing where he was going and at last hardly seeing. Then he swung around a sharp corner, came into collision with some kind of a vehicle, and rolled over and over with it and its occupant into the gutter.
Glen lay panting from the chase he had given himself, for just a second, and in that second he felt a large hand grip his arm in a firm grasp. But it was not the policeman. Beside him, with his head touching the curb, lay a strong young man. Across their bodies was the vehicle which Glen had overturned, something like a large baby buggy or a small invalid chair, with a steering wheel in front. No one came to their help, for Glen had instinctively selected the quiet streets and this one seemed deserted save for them two. Seeing no policeman in sight Glen gained confidence.
"Let go of my arm," he cried.
"I can't afford to just yet," replied the young man. "It's the only thing I've got to remember you by, unless you count this big bump on the back of my head."
"I didn't mean to hurt you," said Glen.
"I reckon not. I suppose it was thoughtless for me to get in your way. You must have been going somewhere."
"Let me up. Please let me up, and I'll tell you all about it. I want you to help me. It isn't fair. I'm not getting a fair show."
"Oh, that's the way, is it? Well, you're at the right shop. Nobody ever calls on Jolly Bill in vain. You get up and lift this automobile off my quivering frame and we'll see what we can do for you."
Glen crawled out and managed to lift the vehicle off the young man's body.
"Now you can get up, can't you," he asked.
"With your kind assistance, noble sir." He raised himself to a sitting position as he spoke. "This is as far as I get without your aid."
Glen hardly knew how to help, though the conveyance told him that the young man was a cripple.
"How shall I help you?" he asked. "Are your legs paralyzed?"
"Worse than that, young fellow. My legs are dead and buried."
"I'm awfully sorry," said Glen, his heart stirred with sympathy. "I'm glad you have such strong arms. They certainly are alive."
"That's the way to talk about it, boy. Don't worry about what's gone. Look at what you have left. That's what I try to do, and that's why they call me Jolly Bill. Now, a big heave and I can stand on my pegs while you bring my Billy-cart up this way."
He was quite skillful about getting into his cart once Glen had him in the right position.
"Now I'll let you push me home, boy—two blocks ahead and one to your right—and meantime you may tell me the sad story of your eventful career."
"Promise that you won't give me up," said Glen.
"Whew! That sounds awfully interesting. You must be a desperate character, and that perhaps explains your peculiar mode of rapid transit. I'm so curious I promise."
"It isn't so awfully bad," said Glen, feeling that his new friend was poking fun. "I ran away from the reform school, that's all."
"I don't know how bad that is," was the reply. "The question is are you reformed, are you reforming, or are you worse than ever?"
"I want to reform," declared Glen, the first confession of the kind he had ever made.
"I suppose the best way to do it would be to go back to the school," suggested Jolly Bill.
"That's what Mr. Gates said," admitted Glen. "But I don't want to be taken back."
"That sounds pretty fair. You don't want to be taken; you want to go. I want to go, but I have to be taken. I was hoping you were the boy to do some taking for me."
"You mean take you around," exclaimed Glen.
"That's about what I mean. I'm an important personage and wherever I travel I have to have a body guard."
"I'd like to do it better than anything in the world!"
"I believe you're just the boy if the reform school could wait for you a week or two. I have a plan that will make me a fortune; but I can't work it out without a strong, energetic boy to help me."
"I'm the boy," shouted Glen. "Try me. What is it?"
"You won't give my secret away?"
"Never. Upon my—"
"Upon your what?"
"Oh, I suppose you'd say I didn't have any."
"You were going to say upon your honor. Certainly you have honor. You make it every day. To prove my confidence I will tell you my secret. I was born in this neighborhood and lived here most of my life. A few years ago a terrible accident deprived me of my father and at the same time left me as you see me. I support my mother by selling real estate. Twenty miles or so from here I know of a great fortune. But it is hidden away, buried, choked up and forgotten. I have tried to get my friends to hunt this out for me but they do not see things my way. So I need a strong healthy boy to help me, and together we will find this treasure."
HOW MOTHER CARES
Running away would be very popular with boys if they could be sure of finding such good friends as Glen had met. The reverse is more commonly true. Glen knew well enough that the boy on the road, trusting to chance for friends, is much more apt to fall a prey to people of the J. Jervice variety. He remembered the pitiful plight of a boy who had been returned to the school after falling into the hands of tramps, and he thanked an unknown Providence that he had tumbled into the kind arms of Jolly Bill.
Mother Spencer was just as kind and cheerful as her son, though she neither made jokes nor appreciated those offered by Will.
"This is Glen Mason, mother," said Jolly Bill, when she came out to meet them. "After he had committed assault and battery on my delicate frame, I prevailed on him to bring home the mangled remains."
"You are hurt, Willie!" she cried in alarm. "Your face is scratched and there is blood. Is it serious?"
"I shall recover," said Will. "I have been in rather worse accidents. Take a look at this other dusty, weary specimen. What do you recommend?"
"I beg your pardon," she apologized to Glen. "I was anxious about my boy. I am every time he goes out. I'll just show you up to the bathroom. There is plenty of hot water and soap and towels, and I'll bring you a clean suit that Willie used to wear."
Glen reddened with embarrassment at this goodness.
"Maybe you'd better not," he protested. "You don't know who I am."
"But I know what size you are," she insisted. "This old suit of Willie's has been lying around for years, but it's perfectly good. Now you take and put it on."
"Take it along and wear it," urged Jolly Bill. "It's been shut up in the closet so long it may turn two or three handsprings when it gets out in the sunshine, but otherwise it will fit you all right. Mother's kept the moth out of it long enough."
Soaking in a tub of clean water after his hot and dusty day, with a nice suit of clean clothing ready to put on, Glen felt that he was indeed fortunate. He actually concluded that he was getting better treatment than he deserved. He was still embarrassed by the thought, when he went downstairs and found Will and his mother at the table.
"I've told mother all about you," announced Bill. "You have her official seal of approval."
"Don't mind what he says," interrupted Mrs. Spencer. "A boy who wants to do right always has a place with me. But you get a reserved seat because you're going to help Willie."
"I hope I'll be able to. I'll surely try."
"Oh, you're just the strong young fellow he needs. He's had the plan quite a while but so many people—"
"Not so very many, mother," interrupted Will. "Very few people know of it."
"Well, the people that you've told—you know how they have all acted or spoken as if it were a wild goose chase—"
"They think so; that's their privilege."
"No it isn't. They shouldn't think so. You've studied it out and you know it's as bright a thought as ever helped any man to a fortune and I'm glad this big boy is going to help you work it."
"And then I'll be rich enough to buy you a home, and to go to that big hospital and get my old pegs fixed up so they can put artificial legs on me that I really can walk on."
"I'm mighty glad to help," said Glen. "I'd do most anything for folks as good as you."
"There, mother; that's an unsolicited testimonial to your particular brand of goodness," said Will. "He didn't talk a bit that way when he met me first. Acted quite abrupt and seemed to want to get away."
"I didn't know you then," objected Glen. "I was trying to get away from everybody."
"Pretty good horse-power you were putting into it, too," observed Will. "That reminds me, boy. It is now time for you to unroll the full history of your eventful career."
"There isn't very much that matters, until a few days ago," began Glen.
"What's that?" asked Mrs. Spencer. "Did you say not much that matters? How old are you?"
"I was fifteen last May."
"Fifteen years ago last May! Don't you know, Glen, that something happened then that mattered a wonderful lot to one person, even if it didn't then matter much to you. And it's been mattering ever since, to her."
"Yes," agreed Glen, "my mother, you mean."
"Yes, I mean your mother. And your father, too, as long as he lived. Don't you suppose it mattered to them that their boy should be so—" she hesitated, groping for a word.
"Pigheaded!" volunteered Glen.
Mrs. Spencer looked shocked, and remonstrated: "Why, Glen! I didn't say anything of the kind—wayward was the word I wanted."
But Jolly Bill clapped his hands in cheerful applause.
"Good boy, Glen!" he exclaimed. "Pigheaded is the word. Bound to have your own way. Bound to have what you want. No self restraint at all. If you want it, nothing will do but you must have it, good or bad. Believe me, boy, that's the very word."
"I wish you wouldn't interrupt me, Willie," objected Mrs. Spencer. "I wasn't trying to preach a sermon to Glen and I don't know why you should. What I want to tell him is that every little thing about a boy matters to mother. It's always important to her what he does, and if he does wrong to-day she is sure that he certainly will do better to-morrow. Mother's going to be awfully glad when she hears about you, Glen, and I want you to tell me where I can write to her this very day. Now, go on and tell us about running away."
Glen was interrupted occasionally.
"Oh, did you say Gates?" cried Mrs. Spencer. "Was it Jonathan Gates?"
"I believe I did hear his wife call him Jonathan once or twice, though mostly they all called him 'Father.'"
"It must be they," said Mrs. Spencer. "They're just the people to take care of a boy that way. We know the Gateses very well and they're the salt of the earth. I wonder you ever had the heart to leave them."
Glen told why he had left and then related his further adventures with J. Jervice, his final escape, and his day of dread lest he should be apprehended.
"I think I can tell you why Mr. J. Jervice didn't send after you," said Will. "It's been his busy day. I just read about it in the evening paper. Excepting that it was funny I wondered what excuse they had for giving it so much space. But I now see why it is important. Look at this!"
He handed Glen the paper folded back to a column headed: "Peddler in Wrong Pew."
"Every good citizen knows of the new license ordinance but not every peddler. One came briskly to the county clerk's office this morning. He was not too rushed to stop and sell a patent tie clip to a man at the door.
"'I'm a traveling merchant,' said he to our genial county clerk.
"'Very good,' said the clerk. 'I see you are doing a little business.'
"'Pretty fair,' agreed Mr. Peddler. 'But that ain't what—'
"'Hold on a bit,' interrupted the clerk. 'First thing is a license.'
"'I've got something more important, just now,' urged the peddler. 'I want to tell you about—'
"'First things first,' persisted our efficient clerk. 'You must pay a license to peddle in this county.'
"'But I don't want to peddle now. I want to lodge—'
"'One thing at a time. You may lodge longer than you want if you break our ordinances. Get your license. Five dollars!'
"'But I don't want a license. I want to give information—'
"'No, no! You want to get information (our clerk is just bound to have his way). 'You should have information about our new license fee. Every peddler must pay it.'
"'I'll not pay it. Five dollars is more'n I could make in a whole day, and I don't aim to be in your county that long. I'll go on.'
"'Too late. You've made one sale that we know of. Five dollars or—'
"'I can't, Mister. I can't pay that. You, just forget about it an' I'll tell you how we can divide ten dollars, easy money.'
"'Trying to bribe a county officer! That's worse and worse. Here, Mr. Sheriff, you'd better look after this man.'
"The man's name was J. Jervice and he found five dollars in his clothing before the sheriff had fully clamped his grip. He went away in great wrath, taking with him not only the objectionable license but also the valuable secret which was worth ten dollars—easy money.
"The honest merchant who has a regular route does not object to the license. The objections come from these itinerant peddlers, who claim that they are just passing through. Our county officers will insist upon payment. They do not fear to discourage their visits for these fly-by-nights are the very men who cheat our citizens, sometimes stealing under guise of a sale and sometimes stealing outright. We do not say that this peddler looked suspicious, but we observed our sheriff taking a good mental picture of him."
"Good-by, Mr. J. Jervice," exulted Glen, as he laid down the paper. "I don't care if I never meet you again."
"But I'm not sure that you won't," said Jolly Bill, with a purpose to tease. "Now that Mr. Jervice has had to pay a five dollar license fee, all because he loved you so and wanted to see you safe home, he'll be apt to look for you."
"He'd better not come near this house," declared Mrs. Spencer, energetically. "I'll give him a piece of my mind if I see him, I can tell you."
"I surely hope he'll come," said Jolly Bill. "He deserves all he can get."
But neither Jolly Bill, Mrs. Spencer nor Glen were to be gratified with a sight of Mr. Jervice immediately, although they were by no means through with him.
Later in the evening after Glen had given Mrs. Spencer very efficient aid in helping her crippled son to his bed on the ground floor, she showed the boy up to a cozy little bedroom where he was to spend the night.
"Have a good night, son," she said. "I'm so glad you are going to help my boy, because you look like a boy with grit and determination, and I'll feel safe about him with you looking after him. It means a lot to us just now. It isn't so much that I care about the money, although Willie insists that I must have this home all clear of debt. But the main thing with me is to see my boy able to take care of himself. There's a place in New York where they can operate on him and then fix him up so he can walk all by himself. All we need is the money. It will be such a joy to me. Good night!"
TREACHEROUS INDIANS AT BUFFALO LAKE
It was a couple of days later before Mr. William Spencer (sometimes known to his fellow citizens as Jolly Bill) fully explained to Glen the method by which he hoped to increase their fortunes. He had taken Glen into his home, had fed and provided for him and had given him some clothing. An automobile had brought them the twenty miles of their journey, early that morning, and had left them with their belongings at the house of a farmer, with whom Spencer was evidently on the best of terms. Now they stood on a knoll overlooking what seemed to Glen to be nothing but an immense field of growing corn.
"There is our fortune," said Spencer.
"That field of corn?" asked Glen.
"That is Buffalo Hollow and I repeat that there lies our fortune."
"And how are we to get it?"
"That is your job. That's why I brought you."
"What do you expect me to do. Take a spade and dig?"
"Perhaps! We shall see. Sit down while I tell you about this place. Buffalo Mound, over there, is the highest ground in this country. From its summit you can see into six counties. This big field before us is Buffalo Hollow. When I was a little chap I was told a great story about this by an old Indian. He said that years ago the Hollow was a beautiful lake fed by springs from Buffalo Mound. Some freighters carrying bullion camped here and were slaughtered by Indians. To hide the bullion until they could dispose of it they threw it in the lake. When they returned they could not find it readily, so they dammed the springs and drained the lake. Makes quite a romantic story, doesn't it?"
"Yes, but did it ever happen?"
"I believe there is some record of such a thing, but my private opinion is that the draining was done by some stingy owner who had little use for a lake and thought he saw an opportunity to secure twenty acres of good bottom land. Probably he thought he was a great economist. But as a matter of fact he did a very foolish thing. This prairie country is poverty stricken so far as lakes and woods are concerned. In the town I live in there are many wealthy men who take their families long distances every summer in order to reach a lake. A twenty acre lake is only a pool in the lake country, but out here it is worth more than a gold mine."
"And you think if you could make it a lake again you could sell it to these wealthy people?"
"I know I could. I know an athletic club in town that would pay a big price for it. There are many of our wealthy men who would pay five hundred dollars for a hundred foot frontage, so that they might put up bungalows for summer residences. My plan is to find those choked springs, bring them again into their old channels, and convert the Hollow into a lake. Mr. Ryder, our farmer friend who now owns this farm, doesn't think much of my plan, and won't have anything to do with it any more than to sell me options on the land and the privilege of cutting this excellent stand of corn, and that is as far as my arrangements with him extend."
"And what is the first thing for me to do?" asked Glen.
"Excellent talk, that, my boy. What would you advise as to the first thing."
"I suppose you can't do much exploring while the corn stands. It should be cut."
"It should, and it must be cut in the old fashioned way. Did you ever cut corn in the old fashioned way?"
"You mean with a corn-knife. I helped cut a hundred acres at the school last fall."
"Well, there's only about five acres of this land in corn so the contract is smaller. The first thing is to borrow a corn-knife of our friend Ryder."
Glen's attack upon the field of corn began that very day. A year ago, at the reform school, he had hated this work; now, he enjoyed it. The corn was higher than his head, and the heavy stalks, piled on his left arm as he cut with his right, wore through his shirt and made an attempt upon his skin, but he did not complain. He was doing a work into which his heart entered, and so he was enjoying it.
Spencer could give no help at all. There are people, with like misfortune to his, who are able to make some sort of a shift with crutches, but Will could not use them at all. As Mrs. Spencer had explained to Glen, there had been some trouble in the amputation. All that was needed was money to go to a famous hospital and have things properly arranged and a pair of artificial legs fitted that would enable him to walk, run, race, dance or play the pipe organ. Will hoped to be successful enough to command the money for this and meantime he intended to be happy in the prospect. So he sat and watched Glen work, made suggestions, cracked jokes and drew diagrams of the surrounding country.
The day that Glen finished his work was very hot. He had been working hard in the hope of completing the job by nightfall and was wet and grimy with perspiration and dirt. As he carried an armful of stalks to the shock he noticed a boy standing there dressed in a khaki uniform of olive drab.
"Wouldn't you like a little help?" asked the boy.
"I could use some," said Glen. "But I have only one knife."
"You rest, then, and let me use it awhile. I know how to cut corn."
"You'll spoil your pretty suit."
"This kind doesn't spoil. It's a scout uniform."
"Perhaps it won't spoil for as long as you'll work," said Glen. "What are you doing here?"
"We have a camp around the other side of the Mound. We only came yesterday or you would have seen some of us before now."
He was cutting cornstalks with a practised hand and Glen decided that he could trust him.
"You can go ahead for awhile. I'll go over and see what my partner says," he agreed.
"There's a boy scout over there," he told Spencer. "He wanted to help cut a piece, so I let him. Do you mind?"
"Not a bit. I'd like to get a whole troop of boy scouts to help. They ought to be some good at our game."
"There is a troop of them camped the other side of the mound, this boy says. Maybe we could get them to help."
Spencer straightened himself in his seat.
"Bright idea, Glen. To-night you shall push Jolly Bill and the old billy-cart over there, and we'll give them a chance to do a good turn."
Glen went back to where the scout was working.
"That's enough," he said. "You've given me quite a rest. We're coming over to see you to-night."
"I hope you will," the scout replied. "My father is the scout master and I know he'll be glad to have you come. His name is Newton."
"I suppose you get along with the same name?" suggested Glen.
"I surely do. And my other name is Corliss, but the fellows call me Apple."
"Why's that. Is it your round face and red cheeks?"
"No. I couldn't help looking that way and the boys wouldn't throw it up to me. No, sir; they started to call me Core, then Apple-core, and so down to Apple."
"It's a good name for you," said Glen. "Did I tell you I'd be bringing my partner over this evening, too?"
"He's welcome. It's in our articles, you know. 'A scout is friendly.'"
"Well, don't forget to ask him to tell some stories. Then you'll be glad we came."
"We'll be glad, anyway," said Apple, politely, as he turned away. When Glen learned to know him better he found this sunny cheer and gentle courtesy to be characteristic of him at all times and places.
It was no easy job to propel the old "billy-cart" over the fields, but Glen managed it. The scouts were just getting together for their evening camp-fire. They were all attracted by the queer vehicle and its jolly occupant and cheerfully and noisily responded to the introductions given by Apple Newton. Mr. Newton, the scout master, was just such a gentleman as one might expect Apple to have for a father and cordially welcomed both Spencer and Glen to their fellowship.
A hint from Apple Newton that Mr. Spencer was a teller of stories drew forth a wild clamor from the boys for his services. His first story, a funny one, brought forth delirious applause—a "side-splitter" they voted it. Then he told them a story of adventure which held them spell-bound. They clamored yet for more.
"Only one," stipulated the scout master. "It will soon be time to turn in."
"Then I will tell you a short story about this country, but I cannot vouch for its truth. First I must tell you that I grew up a mile or two from here. There are still some Pottawatomie Indians here occasionally, I saw one yesterday. When I was a small boy there was quite a colony—a number who never had gone onto the reservation. I knew some of the old men pretty well and one of them used to tell me stories. The most remarkable story he ever told was the story of Buffalo Lake. Years ago the place now known as Buffalo Hollow was a twenty acre lake. Lakes of any size are so rare in this country that even one of twenty acres is sure to be preserved in tradition, so there is plenty of record to verify this part of his story. The remainder may be true. He insisted that it was.
"It was late in the evening of a hot day. The freighters had been pushing along their tired horses for the last three hours, with their eyes steadfastly set on a clump of trees ahead—probably this clump in which we sit. When they reached the trees they no longer needed them for shade, for the sun had already set, but they were none the less glad of their leafy branches, glad of the green grass, glad of the cooling waters of the lake. They could scarcely restrain their tired but eager animals from plunging in as they were, and dragging their loads along, and once the harness was released the beasts made a wild dash for the water and reveled in its coolness. The men themselves lost no time in stripping off their clothing and taking the first swim of their trip. They swam and larked and sported until they were not only refreshed and rested but actually tired again. Then they ate a plentiful supper, spread their blankets around the treasure wagons and soon slept the sleep of exhaustion. Even the watch slept, for he, too, had borne the burden of the day and worn himself with the frolic of the evening. He felt no need of special caution for they were now in territory considered safe.
"But the Indians had been following them for many days, eager for such an opportunity. They dreaded as well as hated these plainsmen. They had not dared to attack them on the open prairie. But now, one dark form after another slipped noiselessly from tree to tree, and very soon every tree sheltered a savage form and made cover for the marksmanship of an Indian brave in feathers and war-paint.
"I don't dare to tell you the rest of this story as the old Pottawatomie told it to me, for it is near bedtime and these are the very trees between which the ghostly, ghastly figures flitted in the darkness. It is all past and gone now and you need have no fear. You boys on the outer edge who are crowding up to the light of the camp-fire are just as safe as the fellows in the middle. The thing to interest you is what the Indians did with the bullion, after they had massacred its guardians.
"There is a government record that such a massacre actually occurred and that the bullion has never been recovered. The old Indian said that being unable to take the treasure away they rowed it out in the lake and buried it in its waters. They were chased out of the country and it was years before they dared to venture back. Then they tried to regain the treasure but without success. As a final measure they dammed up the springs and drained the lake. But the treasure was not there and so far as known it has never been found. What has become of it!"
A moment of deep silence followed.
"Supposing they didn't put it in the lake at all? Supposing they hid it in a cave?"
It was Apple Newton who spoke and his speaking was the signal for a perfect babel of suggestions and guesses.
Spencer held up his hand for silence.
"I did not come here to search for this bullion; but I feel sure that it did exist and that it may exist yet. Your scout master has invited me to stay with you for a week. I will tell you all that I know about the country, and you will help me as much as possible in getting about. We will hunt for this treasure. I try to be generous, so I will say that the scout finding it may keep it."
"I have a word to add," said Mr. Newton. "In this treasure hunt we must have system. Every scout desiring to enter will choose the section which he thinks most favorable, draw a map of it and present it for our approval. Afterwards he will give a full report of all his actions, how he has gone to work and what he has noted."
And then came a third speaker who had been expected by no one. He stepped from behind a tree, and to the eyes of the boys he was tall and erect and to some of their eyes he wore feathers and war-paint.
"Boys hunt gold! Boys hunt heap stone!" he said and disappeared.
Most of the boys around the camp fire sat as if petrified for a few moments. Some of them clutched at their scalp locks, as if to make sure of their continued existence.
The first scout to show real signs of recovery was a thin, lanky, freckled-faced hero of unheroic appearance, who spoke in a jerky fashion peculiarly his own.
"Help!" he cried. "Help! Mother! Why'd my pa let me come to this wild place? Injuns! Robbers! Help!"
"Oh, shut up, Chick-chick," cried a small boy. "You'll have 'em coming back."
A contemptuous laugh came from a big, handsome boy who sat in the middle of the circle—big and handsome, yet with a supercilious look.
"Never mind, kid," he assured the little fellow. "You are safe enough here. Chick-chick can't help having hysterics, but you're safe while I'm here."
"Sure, you're safe," echoed Chick-chick. "Ev'body's safe. Matty will protect you. Matty protects whole camp. Go after heap big Injun, Matty. Jes' disappeared northwest by south."
"That's enough from you, Chick-chick," retorted the handsome scout, Matt Burton, who did not bear chaffing cheerfully. "I could go after that Indian if I cared to. And get him, too."
"Why should anyone want to go after him," interrupted Apple Newton. "He's done nothing but suddenly appear and give some information that may be valuable."
"He just came up from nowhere," said a scout. "I don't believe he's a real Indian at all—just a spirit."
"He was right close to me," declared Chick-chick. "I smelled the spirits."
"Maybe he is a phantom Indian. I've heard of such things," said Apple Newton, ignoring Chick-chick's absurd remark. "I think it would be fine to have a phantom come purposely to get us started on the right track for the treasure hunt. 'Hunt heap stone' was what he said. We shall have to look for peculiar formations of stone."
"Maybe we'll find one that has a letter under it telling where to dig," eagerly suggested one of the younger ones.
"Likely thing," said another. "How long would a letter stand the weather? There'll be marks cut in the stone if there's anything."
"Much you fellows know about Indian ways," boasted Matt Burton. "What did those Indians know about our language. Indians talk by signs and numbers. It will take a smart fellow to tell what it means when you find your heap stone."
"Don't worry, fellows. When you find it hike back an' ask Matty. He'll tell you."
Matty was saved from delivering his angry response, for just then "taps" sounded. The scout master demanded prompt attention to all camp signals. It was understood that after taps there was to be no noise, no unnecessary conversation. All was to be quiet and orderly.
Mr. Newton would not hear of Glen pushing Jolly Bill back to the farm house.
"We have an empty tent with two cots and bedding too—left here by members who were called home. You turn right in with us. We are glad to have you—both of you. I think we'll make Glen a scout."
This invitation suited both of them splendidly. Spencer was pleased, and, as for Glen, he had never experienced anything so gratifying in his life. He was so excited that he could not sleep for some time, but lay on his comfortable cot thinking of the many happenings of the last few eventful days, and especially of the exciting story of the camp fire, and the dramatic appearance of the Indian. He was glad that he was here to help his good friend, Jolly Bill, but he felt that it would be much more glorious to help him by finding bars of bright, glistening bullion, than by looking for a lost lake.
Glen was still dreaming of Indians when the bugle call aroused him, and he awakened to the glorious activities of a summer morning in a scout camp. Two scouts were in the tent almost before he had hopped out of his blankets and into his clothes.
"We came to help our friend, Mr. Spencer," explained Apple Newton.
"Want to wind up his machine an' put on some funny story records," added Chick-chick.
"I can't tell funny stories before breakfast," objected Jolly Bill. "I'm hungry enough to eat Indian."
"We have eggs for breakfast—fresh laid. We got 'em from the farmer yesterday."
"You're sure they're fresh?" asked Spencer. "I'm very particular about my eggs since I camped out a few years ago. One of our fellows wasn't much good about cooking, but he said he'd get the eggs. He came back pretty soon with a whole dozen. 'You're sure these are fresh?' I asked him. 'Dead positive' said he. So I started to break one into my pan, and about all there was that was still egg was the shell. 'What made you so positive these eggs were fresh?' I asked that chap after I let him come to a little. 'I could have sworn to it,' he said. 'I lifted the hen right off the nest myself and the eggs were warm yet.'"
"Our eggs aren't laid by the dozen," said Apple, "and we know they're fresh because the farmer said so. Come on now, if you're ready. The scout master says we're to push your automobile right up to the end of the table, next to him."
It was a jolly crowd at the table, and no less jolly was the squad acting that morning as waiters. The scout master believed it good discipline to teach every scout how to do the humblest duty as well as how to do the greatest, so each scout took his turn at waiting on table. Patrol leader Matt Burton was in charge of the waiter squad this morning. He was the one exception who showed that it did not agree well with every scout to do these menial tasks. He considered them beneath his dignity and never would have condescended to them had there been a way of escape. Since there was not, he had made the best of a bad job, and as he was very bright and a natural leader he had managed to reach the rank of Patrol Leader in spite of his disinclination to certain matters of work.
"Bob said he had a special order for Mr. Spencer, Matt," said Apple, stepping to his side after he had wheeled the cart up to the table. "Tell him Mr. Spencer wants his eggs sure fresh and likes 'em soft."
"You can just carry Mr. Spencer's order to Black Bob yourself," said Matt disgustedly. "I'm no waiter."
"You won't be if the scout master hears you," said Apple, his good nature exhausted. "You'll be a traveler."
"He surely will," observed Chick-chick. "I'll take care of Mr. Spencer, Apple. Leave him to me."
"It's more in your line," insinuated Matt. "I guess it's about the same thing as waiting on your father's customers at his garage."
"An' it's proud I am to do it," retorted Chick-chick. "I do it whenever they want anything I can handle, from gasoline to a new machine. Lem'me sell you a new car, Matty. Lem'me sell you one that'll make your blue blood bubble all over itself. Tell ye 'bout it jest as soon as I get those eggs."
"We've just bought a new car," said Matt. "And I'd walk before I'd let my folks buy one of you, anyway."
"I don't believe that fellow likes you," observed Glen, as he went up to the cook shack with Chick-chick.
"He surely don't disgrace himself by too much show of affection," agreed Chick-chick. "You musn't think it's because it's me, though. There's on'y one person Matty really loves. He's real smart, Matty is. You noticed he spoke so the men couldn't hear him."
Black Bob had Mr. Spencer's eggs all ready.
"These is for the ge'mman as told the stories last night," he announced. "He sure is quality, if they ain't much to him."
"Give 'em to me, Bob," said Chick-chick. "I'm going to wait on Mr. Spencer."
"You go away, you Henry Chicken," objected Black Bob. "I know all 'bout yore tricks. Bear Patrol is waitin' table dis yere mohnin' an' you ain't no Bear Patrol."
"Well, here's Goosey," exclaimed Chick-chick, grabbing the shoulder of a small scout who had just appeared. "Goosey is in Bear Patrol, and he's a friend of mine, ain't you, Goosey?"
"I surely am," declared the small scout. "Anything I can do for Chick-chick I do."
"Hustle these eggs down to Mr. Spencer, Goosey, an' make it your business to wait on him. Bob won't give me a thing."
"Not when you ain't on duty. Oh, I know you, Mr. Henry-chick," Bob affirmed.
"Bob doesn't seem to trust you," said Glen. "Aren't you friendly?"
"Just best friends ever. Bob hasn't better friend 'n me in camp. I like Bob 'n I love his cakes an' pies. 'Tain't my fault if he doesn't always seem to reciprocate, is it, Bob?"
"What dat 'bout recipe fo cake? Nev' you min', Mister Henry-chick. I knows you, I do."
Bob shook a fist as he spoke, but the chuckle in his voice and the laugh in his eye were more apparent than the threat in his fist.
"Well, let's go back an' get ours while they're hot," said Chick-chick. "Goosey'll wait on Mr. Spencer. Good boy, Goosey. Goin' do something good for Goosey some day."
He led Glen back to the long table of smooth boards laid on trestles which stood on the grassy level. The scouts were helping themselves from great bowls filled with eggs cooked in the shell, or from large platters on which eggs fried or poached were served, according to their preference. Bob was a good cook and gave them their choice. Glen, with an appetite that cared little for the fine points of preference, chose impartially from every dish that reached him. An occasional glance showed that the small scout known as Goosey was giving good attention to Jolly Bill, and not only he but Apple Newton and other scouts were endeavoring eagerly to anticipate his wants.
Glen was mentally putting the fellows in their proper places on the shelves of his esteem. Apple Newton and the boy called Chick-chick he warmed to most particularly, and they were given prominent places. He liked young Goosey, as well as several other of the younger boys whose names he had not learned. There was a big fellow called Tom Scoresby that he believed that he would get along with pretty well. Just one scout he found no room for anywhere. That was Matt Burton. He hated him, he was quite sure. His unruly young heart only had one desire for Matt. He wanted just one good chance to measure strength with him and plant his hard, clenched fist right where that smile of insolence curled the handsome lips.
Quite engrossed in his thoughts Glen did not notice that the boys around him had risen from the long bench on which they sat. Suddenly he heard Matt Burton's voice behind him.
"Get up," he said. "Can't you see that we want these places for the waiters."
Glen slowly and deliberately turned around in his seat and looked at his questioner.
"Who are you?" he asked, and his voice was so aggressive that every scout in hearing distance turned to see what was up.
"You'll find out who I am," replied Matt angrily. "Get up when I tell you."
"I don't have to get up when you tell me, nor lie down when you tell me, nor do anything when you tell me. Did you get that? What now?"
Matt was getting very angry but he did not entirely forget his position.
"If I call my patrol you'll get up mighty quick," he said. "I'd like to know who let you come here, anyway."
"Never mind about your patrol and don't fuss about who let me come here. You come and make me get up, all by yourself."
Matt looked at the brown skin and the strong tough features of the obstinate boy a long minute, as if making up his mind.
"Oh, well," he said, "I suppose if you're a guest you must do as you please."
"Since you're so nice about it," said Glen, "the seat's yours. Do what you want with it."
Glen knew in his heart that there would be a clash with Matt Burton if he stayed long in that camp. He felt also that he had not come out of this first brush with entire distinction. Matt had been in the wrong and had shown that he was angry, yet he had a certain discipline which had enabled him to control his temper, and the issue had ended in defeat for the undisciplined waif who might well have been victorious had they come to blows.
GLEN IS INITIATED
Strange to say, with the passing of the morning, Glen found himself unhappy, though he should have been abundantly content. Strange, for with all these boys to help, his tasks would be greatly lightened, and to join in the fun of this crowd should be joy beyond compare. But Glen did not want fun just now. There was something much more precious to him, which he felt in danger of losing, and although he himself could not have explained its substance, it was none the less real. It was the trust and dependence of Will Spencer. For the first time in his life Glen had been really trusted and really needed by some one. He had taken up the burden like a man and rejoiced in it. Now he felt that his opportunities would be dissipated among the crowd.
"What's the matter, Glen?" asked Spencer. "Why are you moping around with a face like the reverse side of a frying-pan? You ought to be right out with the bunch, egging 'em on."
"Oh, I guess no one has any use for me," said Glen disconsolately. "I guess I might as well go back to the school."
"To the school! And leave me in the lurch?"
"You don't need me any more. You don't tell me anything."
"What haven't I told you, boy?"
"Well, you were telling Apple all about that Indian who came last night, but you didn't tell me."
"Oh, nonsense, boy. You are peeved too easily. That Indian was just old Joe Marrowfat, who had followed me up from the farm. Apple is romantic and he wanted a string of stuff about the noble red man's noble antecedents. I need you, all the time, to be the mainspring of this business."
"Tell me what I can do and I'm only too glad to get at it."
"Well, for one thing you must mix with the boys. Be jolly with 'em. 'Laugh and the world laughs with you.' That's my motto. That's the way I get along. Someone must be around with these boys to keep 'em going, or their hunt won't last long. Get them interested in finding the location of the springs. To-day they are all looking for big stones because of what Joe said. There's enough big stones around here to keep them busy. Tell them the fellow who finds the treasure may get some gold but the boy who finds a spring gets twenty dollars sure. Get them to survey the Hollow and search for marks to show where the old stream used to run in. You ought to be up on your toes every minute. I'm sorry you aren't a scout."
"Perhaps I could be," suggested Glen.
"Why not? Get Apple to teach you the knots and the scout law, and I'll teach you the rest. I'll speak to the scout master and see if they won't initiate you to-night."
The remainder of the day Glen was too busy to mope. When the camp fire came he was at hand as a candidate for tenderfoot initiation which the scout master had agreed to give. Mr. Newton had ideas of his own about initiation ceremonies. He believed in making them interesting and impressive to candidate and scouts alike, and he devised a new ceremony of initiation for special occasions.
This occasion was unusual, for since none but scouts came to camp, initiations were not needed. It was also unusual in being conducted in the open, which was necessary because the camp had no assembly tent. Mr. Newton was glad of the diversion, for the day had been very sultry, a storm threatened, and many of the scouts were afflicted with that uneasy, depressed feeling which seems to be absorbed from the atmosphere at such times.
"All scouts on tent duty," he announced after supper. "Rain threatens. See that trenches are clear. Slacken tent ropes a little, especially where they are new. See that nothing in the tents touches the walls. Have your beds all ready to turn in. You will then all assemble at the camp-fire for initiation ceremonies."
The camp had lanterns and one or two oil torches but Mr. Newton preferred to go back to nature for his light at this ceremony. The night was cool as the storm drew near, and the camp-fire was allowed to flare up in a crackling blaze which spread its light over the wide open circle and threw mysterious shadows among the big trees beyond.
Mr. Newton took his stand with his back to a massive elm at the edge of the circle.
"The candidate may present himself," he announced; and Glen marched out and stood before him, with much more of a feeling of solemnity than he had felt on occasions when he had stood before persons of far greater authority.
"Who desires to bear the lights which shall lighten the way of this candidate as he enters the mysteries of scoutcraft?" called the scout master.
"We desire to bear the lights," came simultaneously from two of the tallest scouts. They stepped to the fire, selected each a blazing torch and ranged themselves under the tree.
"Who is sponsor for this candidate?" was the next question.
"I, First class scout Corliss Newton, am his sponsor," proclaimed Apple, stepping forward, his pleasant eyes alight with earnest gravity.
"It is well. The sponsor may take his stand to the candidate's left. Who desires to bear the scout law to this applicant."
Twelve scouts arose as one—the older scouts they were—those not likely to be confused by bashfulness or to spoil the ceremony by their own self-consciousness.
"Let the bearer administer article I. A scout is trustworthy!"
Forth strode a scout bigger than Glen. Laying his hand on Glen's lips, he said: "No lies proceed from trustworthy lips, no deceit from trustworthy tongue, he lives by the breath of honor and his lips are sealed to all but words of truth."
"The bearer of article 2. A scout is loyal!"
This scout bore aloft the flag of the camp, which had been requisitioned for the purpose. He placed the staff in Glen's hands as he said: "Loyal to the flag and to all it represents. Loyal to all scouts and all officials. Loyal to home, to parents and authorities, and loyal to Almighty God."
The wind was swirling through the branches of the trees now and the few stars which had shone were blotted out by the clouds, but the initiation proceeded.
"The bearer of article 3. A scout is helpful!"
This bearer, coming forward, took Glen's hands and raised them up as he recited: "These hands and the body they represent are pledged to lift up righteousness and tear down iniquity. They will do at least one good turn to somebody every day."
"The bearer of article 4. A scout is friendly!"
Glen was glad to see Chick-chick coming forward with a cheerful grin on his face. He stood between Glen and Apple and around the shoulders of each he placed an arm, while he and Apple shouted aloud: "All friends! All brothers!" And immediately every scout rose to his feet and together they echoed: "Brothers all!"
But the first rain drops were spatting among the leaves and Scout Master Newton raised his hand.
"We must abbreviate our ceremony," he announced. "The remaining bearers will repeat their sections of the scout law after me as I read. The twelve will then form an inner circle around us, and all other scouts will make strong our defenses with an outer circle as we give this candidate the scout oath."
In their order the remaining eight advanced with their salutations:
A scout is courteous.
A scout is kind.
A scout is obedient.
A scout is cheerful.
A scout is thrifty.
A scout is brave.
A scout is clean.
A scout is reverent.
They formed the inner circle and around them all the scouts arose and joined hands to form the outer guard. The lightning became more vivid in its flashes and the mutterings of thunder changed to rumbling and roaring as they stood there. The big drops of rain began to thicken but they paid no heed.
"The candidate will hold up his right hand, palm to the front, thumb resting on the nail of the little finger, and the other three fingers upright and together, which constitutes the scout sign."
Glen stood at attention with his hand raised as directed.
"The candidate will now repeat after me the scout oath."
"'On my honor I will do my best:
"'To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the scout law;
"'To help other people at all times;
"'To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.'
"Scout you are now admitted into our ranks as a tenderfoot, which is our first step and one from which you may go on to acquire merit and honor. We are brothers all. The skies may be heavy above us, the storms may threaten, the thunder roar and the lightning flash but we extend to you the cheer of scout fellowship and the welcome of scout comradeship. And as you meet the inevitable storms of life we believe that your remembrance of this law and oath will help you to weather them all triumphantly."
The rain was beginning to fall in earnest now.
"Dismiss troop!" called the scout master; and the boys, a second before in impressive order, made a wild scramble for their tents. Glen ran to the assistance of Will Spencer, who had been an interested spectator of the ceremony, seated in his "billy-cart" at the edge of the circle, but Mr. Newton waved him to his tent.
"I will look after this man," he declared. "He is my guest and I am rain proof."
Glen turned into his blankets that night a Boy Scout of America. He awoke to a sunny morning and discovered that he was still Glen Mason. Almost the first thing, he was in trouble with his patrol leader, Matt Burton. It is only fair to Glen to say that Burton's treatment was of a character sure to antagonize a boy of Glen's nature. From the first there had been a feeling of ill-will between them, a feeling that had been manifest in looks and silent expressions as well as in one sharp interchange of words. Now, to Glen's disgust, he found himself assigned to Burton's patrol, and the very first work for which he was detailed was that of camp cleaning.
Glen went at his detail with poor spirit; picking up old papers, fragments, trash of every kind, a hateful work to him. Perhaps he would have made open rebellion but for Apple Newton, who though not in the same patrol was helping in the work.
"Get busy at it, Glen," Apple counseled. "It isn't a ten minute job if you hustle. Beats washing dishes all to pieces. Every scout has to take his turn. Get busy."
But, filled with the thought that Burton had put him to this work to humiliate him, Glen did not carry through his task to great advantage. He was glad that the morning swim came immediately after, and glad to be able to make a cleaner dive and a longer swim than Burton, who was himself among the best. Therein lay the trouble, Glen was a born leader, and although his opportunities for leading had been few he was quick to assert himself. Burton was also a leader and one who had been given ample opportunity. Neither boy had yet learned that the first element in leadership is the ability to serve; neither had learned that the greatest leader is the one who counts no service too mean for his personal attention.
When the treasure hunt began there were no further restrictions for the morning, and Glen's spirit was rejoiced at Apple's invitation that he bear him company. The sunny-faced, open-hearted boy won the love of everyone, but in Glen Mason he had stirred a real worship.
"We'll have to call you something, Glen," he said. "Your name's all right, but the boys are sure to name you over so we may as well do it now. Let's ask Chick-chick. He's good at names."
"What's his real name?" asked Glen.
"His real name is Henry Henry. His father liked Henry so well for a surname that he had him christened Henry, too. We began by calling him Hen Hen, but that didn't go very well so we call him Chick-chick."
"I don't mind s'long as y' don't call me Biddy chick," explained Chick-chick, who had just come up. "Now what kind o' Mason are you—Stonemason, Brickmason or Mason Fruit Jar."
"Brick's the best," declared Apple. "Matches his hair, too. Let's call him Brick."
"Right it is. Brick for Mason. Where ye goin' to find treasure?"
"You can come along, Chick. We're going to look for signs of water-courses running into the Hollow."
"I won't come, then. I'm going with Goosey to look for a heap rock. We're after gold, we are."
All the morning the two boys explored the Hollow. Many times they traced deceptive depressions in the earth's surface which gave some intimation of having served at some time as a waterway, but never was there any reward for their efforts. At noon, hot and dusty, they made their way back to the camp. A great group of excited boys stood there gesticulating and shouting, and in the center of the group stood Matt Burton.
"What's the excitement?" asked Apple of the first boy they reached.
"Excitement isn't the word," he replied. "Matt Burton has found the treasure!"
MATT BURTON'S TREASURE FIND
When they heard the remarkable news that Matt Burton had discovered the treasure the curiosity of the two boys was beyond measure. They were pushing their way eagerly toward the group to get the full news when a running noose dropped from the overhanging limb of a great tree and neatly entwined them. Their progress was checked.
"That's Chick-chick," said Apple, without looking up. "He's always playing some kind of a trick. Let go your hold of that rope, Chick-chick."
The joker dropped down from the branch almost on top of them.
"I was just fixing a swing when ye came 'long," he explained, in his jerky fashion. "Too good a chance to miss, it was, and worked fine, it did. Don't be in a hurry."
"You loosen this rope and let us go. We want to get the news."
"'Tain't s' important as you think. Gives the Great an' Only Matty a chance t' spread himself. Come on to dinner; you'll hear all 'bout it."
Dinner was indeed ready and the boys were filling up the long table, for Mr. Newton had decreed that no action should be taken on Matt's discovery until after dinner.
When all was cleared away and the boys were ready to dismiss he made the announcement: "Burton will now tell us of his discovery; the site he selected, how he has worked and what he has found."
"Rah for the Great and Only," yelled Chick-chick, and, the designated title being popularly known and approved, the "rah" was given before Matt began to speak.
There was no embarrassment about Matt Burton as he rose to speak. He was about fifteen years old, tall, straight and handsome. A mass of dark brown hair with well-set eyes of the same shade and regular features gave vigor to his head and face. He was of good family and had been reared in a home of refinement and taught to feel at ease under all circumstances. He accepted his nickname of "The Great and Only Matty" with some complacency, as being not inappropriate, especially since his pitching was the star feature of their baseball playing. A wise father had sent him to the scouts to "get acquainted with himself" but so far the process had not reached perfection. He began to talk with a smile of confidence.
"I know a lot about buried treasure from what I've read and heard tell of," said he, "so I decided to work out my own plans. Chick-chick and Goosey offered to come with me, but I had ideas of my own. I knew a few things about how to look. I knew it was no good to look on top of the ground—might as well look up in trees. Then I knew there's always a false scent thrown out to put searchers off the track. I figured that the false scent was probably the story of the lake. So instead of choosing any place in the Hollow I looked around until I found a heap of rock near the timber. And then I chose one hundred feet from the timber line southeast of the Hollow. I knew that the heap of rock wouldn't be the only sign—there's always a second sign given in a treasure hunt. Usually, in all the books I've read, the second sign is a tree or some tall object which casts a shadow at a certain hour of the day at just the point where you ought to dig."
"What hour?" shouted a boy.
"I'm coming to that. I looked around for the rock heap and decided to pace off a hundred feet. I got no results worth while until I tried it due south. This time it brought me to an old stump of a very peculiar appearance that might have been there a hundred years. It was about ten feet high, and of course the length of its shadow was different at different times of the day. The only guide I had was in the heap of rock. There were four rocks in it. As there is no sun at four o'clock in the morning it was a sure thing that I must choose four in the afternoon. So I waited until four o'clock and at the exact spot where the peculiar knobby head of that stump threw its shadow I commenced to dig."
The boys were listening in strained silence. One of the younger ones squeaked "Rah for Matty!" but drew no response.