Infomotions, Inc.Tom Slade on Mystery Trail / Fitzhugh, Percy Keese, 1876-1950



Author: Fitzhugh, Percy Keese, 1876-1950
Title: Tom Slade on Mystery Trail
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): hervey; tom slade; tom; scout; hervey willetts; slade; eagle; scouts; camp; eagle award; roy blakeley; eagle scout; uncle jeb; troop; temple camp; temple; anthony harrington; tracks; eagle badge; class scout
Contributor(s): Owen, R. Emmett (Robert Emmett), 1878-1957 [Illustrator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 35,818 words (really short) Grade range: 7-9 (grade school) Readability score: 71 (easy)
Identifier: etext18180
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Title: Tom Slade on Mystery Trail

Author: Percy Keese Fitzhugh

Release Date: April 15, 2006 [EBook #18180]

Language: English

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*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK TOM SLADE ON MYSTERY TRAIL ***




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Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net





TOM SLADE

ON MYSTERY TRAIL

BY

PERCY KEESE FITZHUGH


_Author of_

TOM SLADE, BOY SCOUT, TOM SLADE AT TEMPLE CAMP, ROY BLAKELEY, ETC.


ILLUSTRATED BY

R. EMMETT OWEN


Published with the approval of

THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA


GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS :: NEW YORK

Made in the United States of America


       *       *       *       *       *


COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY

GROSSET & DUNLAP


       *       *       *       *       *


CONTENTS


     CHAPTER                                          PAGE

           I THE THREE SCOUTS                            1

          II ANOTHER SCOUT                               4

         III THE "ALL BUT" SCOUT                        10

          IV HERVEY LEARNS SOMETHING                    15

           V WHAT'S IN A NAME?                          26

          VI THE EAGLE AND THE SCOUT                    31

         VII THE STREAK OF RED                          35

        VIII EAGLE AND SCOUT                            38

          IX TO INTRODUCE ORESTES                       44

           X OFF WITH THE OLD LOVE, ON WITH THE NEW     48

          XI OFF ON A NEW TACK                          57

         XII AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT                      62

        XIII THE STRANGE TRACKS                         67

         XIV HERVEY'S TRIUMPH                           72

          XV SKINNY'S TRIUMPH                           77

         XVI IN DUTCH                                   83

        XVII HERVEY GOES HIS WAY                        91

       XVIII THE DAY BEFORE                             96

         XIX THE GALA DAY                              102

          XX UNCLE JEB                                 109

         XXI THE FULL SALUTE                           113

        XXII TOM RUNS THE SHOW                         119

       XXIII PEE-WEE SETTLES IT                        123

        XXIV THE RED STREAK                            132

         XXV THE PATH OF GLORY                         141

        XXVI MYSTERIOUS MARKS                          147

       XXVII THE GREATER MYSTERY                       152

      XXVIII WATCHFUL WAITING                          156

        XXIX THE WANDERING MINSTREL                    161

         XXX HERVEY MAKES A PROMISE                    169

        XXXI SHERLOCK NOBODY HOLMES                    175

       XXXII THE BEGINNING OF THE JOURNEY              179

      XXXIII THE CLIMB                                 185

       XXXIV THE RESCUE                                188

     CHAPTER THE LAST. Y-EXTRA! Y-EXTRA! Y-EXTRA!      194

       *       *       *       *       *

TOM SLADE

ON MYSTERY TRAIL




CHAPTER I

THE THREE SCOUTS


At Temple Camp you may hear the story told of how Llewellyn, scout of
the first class, and Orestes, winner of the merit badges for
architecture and for music, were by their scouting skill and lore
instrumental in solving a mystery and performing a great good turn.

You may hear how these deft and cunning masters of the wood and the
water circumvented the well laid plans of evil men and cooeperated with
their brother scouts in a good scout stunt, which brought fame to the
quiet camp community in its secluded hills.

For one, as you shall see, is the bulliest tracker that ever picked his
way down out of a tangled wilderness and through field and over hill
straight to his goal.

And the other is a famous gatherer of clews, losing sight of no
significant trifle, as the scout saying is, and a star scout into the
bargain, if we are to believe Pee-wee Harris. I am not so sure that the
ten merit badges of bugling, craftsmanship, architecture, aviation,
carpentry, camping, forestry, music, pioneering and signaling should be
awarded this sprightly scout (for Pee-wee is as liberal with awards as
he is with gum-drops). But there can be no question as to the propriety
of the music and architecture awards, and I think that the aviation
award would be quite appropriate also.

Yet if you should ask old Uncle Jeb Rushmore, beloved manager of the big
scout camp, about these two scout heroes, a shrewd twinkle would appear
in his eye and he would refer you to the boys, who would probably only
laugh at you, for they are a bantering set at Temple Camp and would
jolly the life out of Daniel Boone himself if that redoubtable woodsman
were there.

Listen then while I tell you of how Tom Slade, friend and brother of
these two scouts, as he is of all scouts, assisted them, and of how they
assisted him; and of how, out of these reciprocal good turns, there came
true peace and happiness, which is the aim and end of all scouting.




CHAPTER II

ANOTHER SCOUT


It was characteristic of Tom Slade that he liked to go off alone
occasionally for a ramble in the woods. It was not that he liked the
scouts less, but rather that he liked the woods more. It was his wont to
stroll off when his camp duties for the day were over and poke around in
the adjacent woods.

The scouts knew and respected his peculiarities and preferences,
particularly those who were regular summer visitors at the big camp, and
few ever followed him into his chosen haunts. Occasionally some new
scout, tempted by the pervading reputation and unique negligee of Uncle
Jeb's young assistant, ventured to follow him and avail himself of the
tips and woods lore with which the more experienced scout's
conversation abounded when he was in a talking mood. But Tom was a sort
of creature apart and the boys of camp, good scouts that they were, did
not intrude upon his lonely rambles.

The season was well nigh over at Temple Camp when this thing happened.
Not over exactly, but the period of arrivals had passed and the period
of departures would begin in a day or two--as soon as the events with
which the season culminated were over.

These were the water events, the tenderfoot carnival (not to be missed
on any account) and the big affair at the main pavilion when awards were
to be made. This last, in particular, would be a gala demonstration, for
Mr. John Temple himself, founder of the big scout camp, had promised to
be on hand to dedicate the new tract of camp property and personally to
distribute the awards.

These events would break the backbone of the camping season, high
schools and grammar schools would presently beckon their reluctant
conscripts back to town and city, until, in the pungent chill of autumn,
old Uncle Jeb, alone among the boarded-up cabins, would smoke his pipe
in solitude and get ready for the long winter.

It was late on Thursday afternoon. The last stroke of the last hammer,
where scouts had been erecting a rustic platform outside the pavilion,
had echoed from the neighboring hills. The usually still water of the
lake was rippled by the refreshing breeze which heralded a cooler
evening, and the first rays of dying sunlight painted the ripples
golden, and bathed the cone-like tops of the fir trees across the lake
with a crimson glow.

Out of the chimney of the cooking shack arose the smoke of early
promise, from which the scouts deduced various conclusions as to the
probable character of the meal which would appear in all its luscious
glory a couple of hours later.

A group of scouts, weary of diving, were strung along the springboard
which overhung the shore. A couple of boys played mumbly-peg under the
bulletin board tree. Several were playing ball with an apple, until one
of them began eating it, which put an end to the game. Half a dozen of
the older boys, who had been at work erecting the platform, sauntered
toward the scrub shack, leaving one or two to festoon the bunting over
the stand where the colors shone as if they had been varnished by that
master decorator, the sun, as a last finishing touch to his sweltering
day's work. The emblem patrol sauntered over to the flag pole and
sprawled beneath it to rest and await the moment of sunset. Several
canoes moved aimlessly upon the glinting water, their occupants idling
with the paddles. It was the time of waiting, the empty hour or two
between the day's end and supper-time.

Upon a rock near the lake sat a little fellow, quite alone. He was very
small and very thin, and his belt was drawn ridiculously tight, so that
it gave his khaki jacket the effect of being shirred like the top of a
cloth bag. If he had been standing, he might have suggested, not a
little, the shape of an old-fashioned hour glass. A brass compass
dangled around his neck on a piece of twine as if, being so small, he
was in danger of getting lost any minute. His hair was black and very
streaky, and his eyes had a strange brightness in them.

No one paid any attention to this little gnome of a boy, and he was a
pathetic sight sitting there with his intense gaze, having just a touch
of wildness in it, fixed upon the lake. Doubtless if his scout regalia
had fitted him properly he would not have seemed so pathetic, for it is
not uncommon for a scout to want to be alone in the great companionable
wilderness.

Suddenly, this little fellow's gaze was withdrawn from the lake and fell
upon something which seemed to interest him right at his feet. He slid
down from the rock and examined it closely. His poor little thin figure
and skinny legs were very noticeable then. But he picked up nothing,
only kneeled there, apparently in a state of great excitement and
elation.

Presently, he started away, looked back, as if he was afraid his
discovery would take advantage of his absence to steal away. Again he
started, hurrying around the edge of the cooking shack and to the little
avenue of patrol cabins beyond. As he hurried along, the big brass
compass flopped about and sometimes banged against his belt buckle,
making quite a noise. Several boys laughed as he passed them, trotting
along as if possessed by a vision. But no one stopped him or spoke to
him.

In the patrol cabin where he belonged, he rooted in great haste and
excitement among the contents of a cheap pasteboard suit case and
presently pulled out a torn and battered old copy of the scout handbook.
He sat down on the edge of his cot and, hurriedly looking through the
index, opened the book at page thirty. He was breathing so hard that he
almost gulped, and his thin little hands trembled visibly....




CHAPTER III

THE "ALL BUT" SCOUT


In that same hour, perhaps a little earlier or later, I cannot say, Tom
Slade, having finished his duties for the day, strolled along the lake
shore away from camp and struck into the woods which extended northward
as far as the Dansville road.

He had no notion of where he was going; he was going nowhere in
particular. For aught I know he was going to ponder on the
responsibility which had been thrust upon him by the scout powers that
be, of judging stalking photographs preliminary to awarding the Audubon
prize offered by the historical society in his home town. Perhaps he was
under the influence of a little pensive regret that the season was
coming to an end and wished to have this lonely parting with his
beloved hills and trees. It is of no consequence. About all he actually
did was to kick a stick along before him and pause now and again to
examine the caked green moss on trees.

When he had reached a little eminence whence the view behind him was
unobstructed, he turned and looked down upon the camp. Perhaps in that
brief glimpse the whole panorama of his adventurous life spread before
him in his mind's eye, and he saw the vicious little hoodlum that he had
once been transformed into a scout, pass through the several ranks of
scouting, grow up, go to war, and come back to be assistant at the camp
where he had spent so many happy hours when he was a young boy.

And now there was not one thing down there, nor shack nor cabin nor
shooting range nor boat nor canoe, nor hero's elm (as they called it),
nor Gold Cross Rock, which had the same romantic interest as had this
young fellow to the scouts who came in droves and watched him and
listened to the talk about him and dreamed of being just such a real
scout as he. He moved about unconsciously among them, simple,
childlike, stolid, but with a kind of assurance and serenity which he
may have learned from the woods.

He was singularly oblivious to the superficial appurtenances of
scouting. He had passed through that stage. The pomp and vanity of the
tenderfoot he knew not. The bespangled dignity of the second-class and
first-class scout, these things he had known and outgrown. His medals
were home somewhere. And out of all this alluring rigmarole and romantic
glory were left the deeper marks of scout training, burned into his soul
as the mark is burned into the skin of a broncho. The woods, the trees,
were his. That, after all, is the highest award in scouting. It is a
medal that one does not lose, and it lasts forever.

As Tom Slade stood there looking down upon the camp, one might have seen
in him the last and fullest accomplishment of scouting, stripped of all
else. His face was the color of a mulatto. He wore no scout hat, he wore
no hat at all. It would have been quite superfluous for him to have worn
any of his thirty or forty merit badges of fond memory on his sleeves,
for his sleeves were rolled up to his shoulders. He wore a pongee
shirt, this being a sort of compromise between a shirt and nothing at
all. He wore moccasins, but not Indian moccasins. He was still partial
to khaki trousers, and these were worn with a strange contraption for a
belt; it was a kind of braided fiber of his own manufacture, the
material of which was said to have been taken from a string tree.

As he resumed his way through the woods he presently heard a cheery, but
rather exhausted, voice behind him.

"Have a heart, Slady, and wait a minute, will you?" Tom's pursuer
called. "I'm nearly dead climbing up through all this jungle after you.
Old Mother Nature's got herself into a fine mess of a tangle through
here, hey? Don't mind if I come along with you, do you? Look down there,
hey? Pavilion looks nice. I've been wondering if I stand any chance of
being called up on that platform on Saturday night. Looks swell with all
the bunting over it, doesn't it?"

The speaker, who had been half talking and half shouting, now came
stumbling and panting up over the edge of the wooded decline where the
thick brush had played havoc with his scout suit but not with his
temper.

"Some climb, hey?" he breathed, laughing, and affecting the stagger of
utter exhaustion. "I bet you knew an easier way up. The bunch told me
not to beard the lion in his den, but I'm not afraid of lions. Here I am
and you can't get rid of me now. I'm up against it, Slady, and I want a
few tips. They say you're the only real scout since Kit Carson. What I'm
hunting for is a wild animal, but I haven't been able to find anything
except a cricket, two beetles and a cow that belongs on the Hasbrook
farm. Don't mind if I stroll along with you a little way, do you? My
name is Willetts--Hervey Willetts. I'm with that troop from
Massachusetts. I'm an Eagle Scout--_all but_."

"But's a pretty big word," Tom said.

"You said it," Hervey Willetts said, still wrestling with his breath;
"it's the biggest word in the dictionary."




CHAPTER IV

HERVEY LEARNS SOMETHING


They strolled on through the woods together, the younger boy's gayety
and enthusiasm showing in pleasing contrast to Tom's stolid manner.

He was a wholesome, vivacious boy, this Willetts, with a breeziness
which seemed to captivate even his sober companion, and if Tom had felt
any slight annoyance at being thus overhauled by a comparative stranger,
the feeling quickly passed in the young scout's cheery company.

"They told me down in camp that if I need a guide, philosopher, and
friend, I'd better run you down, or up----"

"If you'd gone a little to the left you'd have found it easier," Tom
said, in his usual matter-of-fact manner.

"Oh, I suppose you know all the highways and byways and right ways and
left ways and every which ways for miles and miles around," Hervey
Willetts said. "I guess they were right when they said you'd be a good
guide, philosopher, and friend, hey?"

"I don't know what a philosopher is," Tom said, with characteristic
blunt honesty, "but I know all the trails around here, if that's what
you're talking about."

"Oh, you mean about guides?" Hervey asked, just a trifle puzzled.
"That's an expression, _guide, philosopher, and friend_. It comes from
Shakespeare or one of those old ginks; it means a kind of a moral guide,
I suppose."

"Oh," said Tom.

"But I need, I need, I need, I need a friend," Hervey said.

"You seem to have lots of friends down there," Tom said.

"A scout is observant, hey?" Willetts laughed.

"I mean you always seem to have a lot of fellows with you," Tom said,
ignoring the compliment. "Everybody likes your troop, that's sure. And
your troop seems to be stuck on _you_."

"_Good night!_" Hervey laughed. "They won't be stuck on me after
Saturday. That'll be the end of my glorious career."

"What did you do?" Tom asked, after his customary fashion of construing
talk literally.

"Oh, I didn't exactly commit a murder," the other laughed, "but I fell
down, Sla--you don't mind my calling you Slady, do you?"

"That's what most everybody calls me," Tom said, "except the troop I was
in. They call me Tomasso."

"Sounds like tomato, hey?" Hervey laughed. "No, my troubles are about
merit badges. I've bungled the whole thing up. When a fellow goes after
the Eagle award, he ought to have a manager, that's what I say. He ought
to have a manager to plan things out for him. I tried to manage my own
campaign and now I'm stuck--with a capital S."

"How many merits have you got?" Tom asked him.

"Twenty," Hervey said, "twenty and two-thirds. Just a fraction more and
I'd have gone over the top."

"You mean a sub-division?" Tom asked.

"That's where the little _but_ comes in," Hervey said. "B-u-t, but. It's
a big word, all right, just as you said."

"Is it architecture or cooking or interpreting or one of those?" Tom
asked.

Hervey glanced at Tom in frank surprise.

"Maybe it's leather work, or machinery, or taxidermy or marksmanship,"
Tom continued, with no thought further from his mind than that of
showing off.

"Guess again," Hervey laughed.

"Then it must be either music or stalking," Tom said, dully.

His companion paused in his steps, contemplating Tom with unconcealed
amazement. "Right-o," he said; "it's stalking. What are you? A mind
reader?"

"Those are the only ones that have three tests," Tom said. "So if you
have twenty merits and two-thirds of a merit, why, you must be trying
for one of those. Maybe they've changed it since I looked at the
handbook."

Hervey Willetts stood just where he had stopped, looking at Tom with
admiration. In his astonishment he glanced at Tom's arm as if he
expected to see upon it the tangible evidences of his companion's feats
and accomplishments. But the only signs of scouting which he saw there
were the brown skin and the firm muscles.

"They change that book every now and then," Tom said.

Still Hervey continued to look. "What's that belt made out of?" he
asked.

"It's fiber from a string tree," Tom said; "they grow in Lorraine in
France."

"Were you in France?"

"Two years," Tom said.

"How many merit badges have you got, anyway, Mr.--Slady?"

"Oh, I don't know," Tom said; "about thirty or thirty-five, I guess."

"You _guess?_ I bet you've got the Gold Cross. Where is it?" Hervey made
a quick inspection of Tom's pongee shirt, but all he saw there was the
front with buttons gone and the brown chest showing.

"I couldn't pin it on there very well, could I?" Tom said, lured by his
companion's eagerness into a little show of amusement.

"Where is it?" Hervey demanded.

"I'm letting a girl wear it," Tom said.

"Oh, what I know about _you!_" Hervey said, teasingly. "You can bet if I
ever get the Gold Cross or the Eagle Badge (which I won't this trip) no
girl will ever wear them."

"You can't be so sure about that," said Tom, out of his larger worldly
experience, "sometimes they take them away from you."

"You're a funny fellow," Hervey said, while his gaze still expressed his
generous impulse of hero-worship. "I guess I seem like just a sort of
kid to you with my twenty merits--twenty and two-thirds. Maybe some girl
is wearing your Distinguished Service Cross, for all I know. But we
fellows are crazy to have the Eagle award in our troop. I suppose of
course you're an Eagle Scout?"

"I guess that was about three or four years ago," Tom said.

"Once a scout, always a scout, hey?"

"That's it," Tom said.

They strolled along in silence for a few minutes, Hervey occasionally
stealing a side glimpse at his elder, who ambled on, apparently
unconscious of these admiring glances. Now and again Tom paused to
examine a patch of moss or some little tell-tale mark upon the ground,
as if he had no knowledge of his companion's presence. But Hervey
appeared quite satisfied.

"I'll tell you how it is," he finally said, selecting what seemed an
appropriate moment to speak; "I was elected as the one in our troop to
go after the Eagle award. We want an Eagle Scout in our troop. We
haven't even got one in the city where I live."

"Hear that?" Tom said. "That's a thrush."

"A thrush?"

"Yop; go on," Tom said.

"So they elected me to win the Eagle award. Some choice, hey? I had
seven badges to begin with; maybe that's why they wished it onto me. I
had camping, cooking, athletics, pioneering, angling, that's a cinch,
that's easy, and, let's see--carpentry and bugling. That's the easiest
one of the lot, just blow through the cornet and claim the badge. It's a
shame to take it."

"You mean you've won thirteen more since you've been here?" Tom asked.

"That's it," said Hervey. "First I got my fists on the eleven that have
_got_ to be included in the twenty-one, and then I made up a list of ten
others and went to it. I chose easy ones, but some of them didn't turn
out to be so easy. Music--oh, boy! And when I started to play the piano,
they said I wasn't playing at all, but that I really meant it. Can you
beat that?"

Tom could not help smiling.

"So you see I've been pretty busy since I've been here, too busy to talk
to interviewers, hey? I've piled up thirteen since I've been here;
that's a little over six weeks. That isn't so bad, is it?"

"It's good," Tom said, by no means carried away by enthusiasm.

"I thought you'd say so. So now I've got twenty and I know them all by
heart. Want to hear me stand up in front of the class and say them?"

"All right," Tom said.

"No sooner said than stung," Hervey flung back at him. "Well, I've got
first aid, physical development, life saving, personal health, public
health, cooking, camping, bird study----"

"That's a good one," Tom said.

"You said it; and I've got pioneering, pathfinding, athletics, and then
come the ten that I selected myself; angling, bugling, carpentry,
conservation or whatever you call it, and cycling and firemanship and
music hath charms, not, and seamanship and signaling. And two-thirds of
the stalking badge. I bet you'll say that's a good one."

"There's one good one that you left out," Tom said. "I thought you'd
think of it on account of that last one."

"You mean stalking?"

"I mean another that has something to do with that?"

"Now you've got me guessing," Hervey said.

"Well, how do you want me to help you?" Tom asked, thus stifling his
companion's inquisitiveness.

"Well," said Hervey, ready, even eager to adapt himself to Tom's mood,
"all I've got to do is to track an animal for a half a mile or so----"

"A quarter of a mile," Tom said.

"And then I'm an Eagle Scout," Hervey concluded. "But if I want to be in
on the hand-outs Saturday night, I've got to do it between now and
Saturday, and that's what has me worried. I want to go home from here
an Eagle Scout. Gee, I don't want all my work to go for nothing."

"You want what you want when you want it, don't you?" Tom said, smiling
a little.

"It's on account of my troop, too," Hervey said. "It isn't just myself
that I'm thinking about. Jiminies, maybe I didn't choose the best ones,
you know more about the handbook than I do, that's sure, and I suppose
that one badge was just as easy as another to _you_. Maybe you think I
just chose easy ones, hey?"

"Well, what's on your mind?" Tom said.

"Do you know where there are any wild animal tracks?" Hervey blurted out
with amusing simplicity. "I don't mean just exactly where, but do you
know a good place to hunt for any? A couple of fellows told me you would
know, because you know everything of that sort. So I thought maybe you
could give me a tip where to look. I found a horseshoe last night so
maybe I'll be lucky. All I want is to get started on a trail."

"Sometimes there are different trails and they take you to the same
place," Tom said.

No doubt this was one of the sort of remarks that Tom was famous for
making which had either no particular meaning or a meaning poorly
expressed.

Hervey stared at him for a few seconds, then said, "I don't care whether
it's easy or hard, if that's what you mean. Is it true that there are
wild cats up in these mountains?"

"Some," Tom said.

"Well, if you were in my place, where would you go to look for a trail?
I mean a real trail, not a cow or a horse or Chocolate Drop's kitten.
[Chocolate Drop was the negro cook at Temple Camp.] If I can just dig
up the trail of a wild animal somewhere, right away quick, the Eagle
award is mine--ours. See? Can you give me a tip?"

Tom's answer was characteristic of him and it was not altogether
satisfactory.

"I'm not so stuck on eagles," he said.




CHAPTER V

WHAT'S IN A NAME?


"_You're not?_" Hervey asked in puzzled dismay. "You can bet that every
time I look at that little old gold eagle on top of the flag pole I say,
'Me for you, kiddo.'"

"I like Star Scout better," Tom said, unmoved by his companion's
consternation.

"Why, that means only ten merit badges," Hervey said.

"It's fun studying the stars," Tom added.

"Oh, sure," Hervey agreed. "But star and eagle, they're just names.
What's in a name, hey? Is that the badge you meant that I forgot about?
The astronomy badge?"

"No, it isn't," Tom said. "You're too excitable to study the stars. It's
got to be something livelier."

"You've got me down pat, that's sure," Hervey laughed.

Tom smiled, too. "Well, you want the Eagle badge, do you?" he said.

"You seem to think it doesn't amount to much," Hervey complained.

"I think it amounts to a whole lot," Tom said.

"When I get my mind on a thing----" Hervey announced.

"That's the trouble with you," Tom said.

"There you go," Hervey shot back at him; "you've been through the game
and walked away with every honor in the book, and you know the book by
heart and you can track with your eyes shut and you've been to France
and all that and you think I'm just a kid, but it means something to be
an Eagle Scout, I can tell you."

Doubtless Tom Slade, scout, was gratified to receive this valuable
information. "And there's just the one way to get there, is that it?" he
answered quietly, but smiling a little. "I always heard that a scout was
resourceful and had two strings to his bow."

"You just give me a tip and I'll do the rest," said Hervey.

"It must be about tracking, hey?"

"That's it; test three for the stalking badge. _Track an animal a
quarter of a mile._"

"Well, let me think a minute, then," Tom said.

"Up on that mountain, maybe, hey?" Hervey urged.

"Maybe," Tom said.

So they ambled along, the elder quite calm and thoroughly master of
himself, the younger, all impulse, eagerness and enthusiasm. His
generous admiration of Tom, amounting almost to a spirit of worship, was
plainly to be seen. It would have been hard to say how Tom felt or what
he thought. At all events he had not been jostled out of his stolid
calm.

"Did you ever hear any one say that there is more than one way to kill a
cat?" he finally inquired, pausing to notice some bird or squirrel among
the trees.

"I don't want to kill a cat," Hervey said. "I want to find some tracks,
I----"

"You want to be an Eagle Scout," Tom concluded; "and you've got your
mind set on it. That it?"

"That's it; but it's for the sake of my troop, too."

Still again, they strolled on in silence. A little twig cracked under
Tom's foot, the crackle sounding clear in the solemn stillness. Some
feathered creature chirped complainingly at the rude intrusion of its
domain by these strangers. And, almost under their very feet, a tiny
snake wriggled across the trail and was gone. The shadows were gathering
now, and the fragrance of evening was beginning to permeate the dim
woods. And all the respectable home-loving birds were seeking their
nests.

And so these two strolled on, and for a few minutes neither spoke.

"Well then, suppose I give you a tip," Tom said. "Will you promise that
you'll make good? You claim to be a scout. You say that when you get
your mind set on a thing, nothing can stop you. That the idea?"

"That's it," Hervey answered.

"You wouldn't drop a trail after you once picked it up, would you? Some
animals take you pretty far."

"You bet nothing would stop _me_ if I once got the tracks," Hervey said.
"I wouldn't care if they took me across the Desert of Sahara or over the
Rocky Mountains."

"Hang on like a bulldog, hey?" Tom said.

"That's me," said Hervey.

"All right, it's a go," Tom concluded. "I'll see if I can give you a
pointer or two down near camp in the morning. Ever follow a
woodchuck--or a coon? Only I don't want any badge-getter falling down on
a trail, if I'm mixed up with it. That's one thing I can't stand--a
quitter."

"I wouldn't anyway," Hervey said with great fervor; "but as long as I've
got you and what you said to think about, you can bet your sweet life
that not even a--a--a jungle would stop me--it wouldn't."

"That's the kind of a fellow they want for an Eagle Scout," Tom said;
"do or die."

"That's me," said Hervey Willetts.




CHAPTER VI

THE EAGLE AND THE SCOUT


And so these two strolled on. And presently they came to a point where
the wood was more sparse, for they were approaching the rugged lower
ledges of a mighty mountain, and the last rays of the dying sun fell
upon the rocks and scantier vegetation of this clearer area, emphasizing
the solemn darkness of the wooded ascent beyond.

Few, even of the scouts, had ever penetrated the enshrouding wilderness
of that dizzy, forbidding height. There were strange tales, usually told
to tenderfeet around the camp-fire, of mysterious hermits and ferocious
bears and half-savage men who lurked high up in those all but
inaccessible fastnesses, but no scout from Temple Camp had ever
ascended beyond the lower reaches of that frowning old monarch.

At Temple Camp, when the cheery blaze was crackling in the witching hour
of yarn telling, the seasoned habitues of the camp would direct the eye
of the newcomer to a little glint of light high up upon the mountain,
and edify him with dark tales of a lonesome draft dodger who had
challenged that tangled profusion of tree and brush to escape going to
war and had never been able to find his way down again--a quite just
punishment for his cowardice. But time and again this freakish glint of
light had been proven to be the reflection of that very camp-fire upon a
huge rock lodged up there and held by interlacing roots.

Tom and Hervey stood upon a ledge of rock just outside the area of a
great elm tree, and as they looked down and afar off, Black Lake seemed
a mere puddle with toy cabins near it.

"I bet there are wild animals up there," Hervey said.

"Here's one of them now," commented Tom, pointing upward.

High above them in the dusk and with a background of golden-edged
clouds, which gave the sun's last parting message to the earth, a great
bird hovered motionless. It seemed to hang in air as if by a thread.
Then it descended with a wide, circling swoop. In less than ten seconds,
as it seemed to Hervey, its body and great wings, and even its curved,
cruel beak, were plainly visible circling a few yards above the tree. It
seemed like a journey from the heavens to the earth, all in an instant.

"Watch him, watch him," Hervey whispered.

But Tom was not watching him at all. He knew what that savage descent
meant and he was looking for its cause. Stealthily, with no more sound
than that of a gliding canoe, he stole to the trunk of the tree and
looked about with quick, short, scrutinizing glances, away up among its
branches.

Then he placed his finger to his lips, warning Hervey to silence, and
beckoned him into the darker shadow under the great tree.

"Did you see anything beside the bird?" he whispered.

"No," said Hervey. "Why? What is it?"

"Shh," Tom said; "look up--shh----"

It was the most fateful moment of all Hervey Willetts' scout career, and
he did not know it.




CHAPTER VII

THE STREAK OF RED


"Look up there," Tom said; "out near the end of the third branch. See?
The little codger beat him to it."

Looking up, Hervey saw amid the thicker foliage, far removed from the
stately trunk, something hanging from a leaf-covered branch. Even as he
looked at it, it seemed to be swaying as if from a recent jolt. At first
glimpse he thought it was a bat hanging there.

"See it?" Tom said, pointing up. "You can see it by the little streak of
red. I think the little codgers head is poking out. Some scare she had."

Then all in an instant Hervey knew. It seemed incredible that the great
bird, hovering at that dizzy height, could have seen the little
songster of the woods which even he and Tom had failed to see. And the
thought of that smaller bird reaching its home just in time, and poking
its head out of the opening to see if all was well, went to Hervey's
heart and stirred a sudden anger within him.

"I didn't know they could see all that distance," he said.

"Well, that's one thing you've learned that you didn't know before," Tom
said in his matter-of-fact way.

Scarcely had he spoken the words when the foliage above shook and there
was a loud rustling and crackling of branches, while many leaves and
twigs fell to the ground.

The monarch of the mountain crags, having circled the elm, had found a
way in where the foliage was least dense, and had thus with irresistible
power carried the outer defenses of that little hanging citadel.

And still the little streak of red showed up there in the dimness of
those invaded branches, and one might have fancied it to be the colors
of the besieged victim, flaunting still in a kind of hopeless defiance.
Down out of the green twilight above floated a feather, then
another--trifling losses of the conqueror in his triumphal entry.

"You're not going to get away with that," said Hervey in a voice tense
with wrath and grim determination; "you're--you're--not----"

What happened then happened so quickly as almost to rival the descent of
the destroyer in lightning movement. Before Tom Slade realized what had
happened, there was Hervey's khaki jacket on the ground, his discarded
hat was blowing away, and his navy blue scout scarf was plastered by the
freshening breeze flat against the trunk of the tree.

Hervey Willetts, who had dreamed and striven all through the vacation
season of "capturing the Eagle," as they say, was on his quest in dead
earnest.




CHAPTER VIII

EAGLE AND SCOUT


Up, up, he went, now reaching like a monkey, now wriggling like a snake.
Now he loosed one hand to sweep back the hair which fell over his
forehead. Again, unable to release his hold, he threw his head back to
shake away the annoying locks. Tom Slade, stolid though he was, watched
him, thrilled with amazement and admiration.

The great bird was embarrassed in the confines of the foliage by its big
wings. But the freedom and strength of its cruel beak and talons were
unimpaired and every second brought it nearer to the hanging nest.

But every second brought also the scout nearer to the hanging nest. Up,
up he went, now straddling some bending limb, now swinging himself with
lightning agility to one above. Once, crawling on a horizontal branch,
he slid over and hung beneath it, like an opossum.

Twisting and wriggling his way out of this predicament, he scrambled on,
handing himself from branch to branch, and once losing his foothold and
hanging by one hand.

Tom Slade watched spellbound, as the agile form ascended, using every
physical device and disregarding every danger. More than once Tom almost
shuddered at the chances which his young companion took upon some
perilously slender limb. Once, the impulse seized him to call a warning,
but he refrained from a kind of inspired confidence in that young
dare-devil who by now seemed a mere speck of brown moving in and out of
the darkened green above him. Once he was on the point of shouting
advice to Hervey about what to do in the unlikely event of his reaching
the nest before the eagle, or in the more serious contingency of an
encounter with that armed warrior.

For, thrilled as he was at the young scout's agility and fine abandon,
he was yet doubtful of Hervey's power of deliberation and presence of
mind. But no one could advise a creature capable of being carried away
in a very frenzy of nervous enthusiasm, and Tom, sober and sensible,
knew this. Hervey Willetts would do this thing or crash his brains out,
one or the other, and no one could help or hinder him.

Amid the crackling sound of breaking limbs and a shower of leaves and
smaller twigs, the mighty bird of prey, extricating himself from every
obstacle, tore his way into the leafy recess where his little victim
waited, trembling. Every branch seemed agitated by his ruthless,
irresistible advance, and the hanging nest swayed upon its slender
branch, as the cruel talons of the intruder fixed themselves in the
yielding bark. The weight of the monster bird upon the very branch which
his little victim had chosen for a home caused it to bend almost to the
breaking point, and the hanging nest, agitated by the shock, swung low
near the end of the curving bough.

[Illustration: HERVEY SAVES THE LITTLE BIRD FROM THE EAGLE.

_Tom Slade on Mystery Trail. Page_ 42]

That was bad strategy on the part of the invader. As the end of the
bough descended under his weight, there was the appalling sound of a
splitting branch, which made Tom Slade's blood run cold, and he held his
breath in frightful suspense, expecting to see the form of his young
friend come crashing to earth.

But the boy who had ventured out so far upon that straining branch had
swung free of it just in time, and was swinging from the branch above.
The great bird had played into the hands of his dexterous enemy when he
had placed his weight upon the branch above, from which the nest hung.

Hervey could not have trusted his own weight upon that upper branch, and
he knew it. But even had he dared to do this he could not have passed
the enraged bird who stood guard within a yard or two of his little
victim. When the weight of the bird's great body bent the branch down,
Hervey, close in toward the trunk just below, saw his chance. He did not
see the danger.

Scrambling out upon that slender branch, he moved cautiously but with
beating heart, out to a point where the bending branch above was within
his reach. If the eagle had left the branch above, that branch would
have swung out of Hervey's reach and he would have gone crashing to the
ground when his own branch broke. He knew that branch must break under
him. He knew, he _must_ have known, that the chances were at least even
that the eagle would desert the branch above in either assault or
flight.

Hervey's chance was the chance of a moment, and it lay just in this: in
getting far enough out on the branch before it broke to catch the branch
above before it sprang up and away from him. Also he must trust to the
slightly heavier branch above not breaking.

It would be impossible to say by what a narrow squeak he saved himself
in this dare-devil maneuver. His one chance lay in lightning agility.

Yet, first and last, it was an act of fine and desperate
recklessness--the recklessness of a soul possessed and set on one
dominating purpose. This was Hervey Willetts all over. And because he
had a brain and the eagle none or little, he thus used his very enemy to
help him accomplish his purpose.

In that very moment when Tom Slade heard with a shudder the appalling
sound of that splitting branch, something beside the brown nest was also
dangling from the branch which the baffled eagle had suddenly deserted.
Right close to the swaying nest the boy hung, his limbs encircling it,
his two hands locked upon it, trusting to it, just trusting to it. It
bent low in a great sweeping curve, the nest swayed and swung from the
movement of the swing downward, a little olive-colored, speckled head
peeking cautiously out as if to see what all the rumpus was about.

It must have seemed to those little frightened eyes that the familiar
geography of the neighborhood was radically changed. But there was
nothing near to strike terror to it now. There was nothing near but the
green, enshrouding foliage, and the brown object hanging almost
motionless close by.

This was Hervey Willetts of the patrol of the blue scarf, scout of the
first class (if ever there was one) and winner of twenty-one merit
badges....

No, not twenty-one. Twenty and two-thirds.




CHAPTER IX

TO INTRODUCE ORESTES


Hervey moved cautiously in along the limb to a point where he felt sure
that it would hold his weight, and as he did so it moved slowly up into
place. What the little householder thought of all this topsy-turvy
business it might be amusing to know. For surely, if the world war
changed the map of Europe, the little neighborhood of leaf and branch
where this timid denizen of the woods lived and had its being, had been
subject to jolts and changes quite as sweeping. Now and again it poked
its downy speckled head out for a kind of disinterested squint at
things, apparently unconcerned with mighty upheavals so long as its
little home was undisturbed.

Hervey Willetts straddled the branch and calculated the thickness of
it.

"You all right?" he heard Tom call from below.

"Yop," he called back; "did you see his nobs fly away? Back to the crags
for him, hey? Wait down there a few minutes, I'm going to bring a
friend."

Hervey had now a very nice little calculation to make. In the first
place he must not frighten his new acquaintance by approaching too near
again. Neither must he make any sudden and unnecessary noise or motions.
He knew that a nest of that particular sort was more than a home, it was
a comparatively safe refuge, and he knew that its occupant would not
emerge and desert it without good cause. One of those precious twenty
badges was evidence of that much knowledge.

His purpose was to cut the branch as near to the nest as he dared, both
from the standpoint of the bird's peace of mind and his own safety. The
further from the nest he cut, the thicker would be the branch, and the
more cutting there would be to do. To cut too near to the nest might
frighten his little neighbor on the branch, and endanger his own life.

Yet if he cut the branch where it was thick, how could he handle it
after it was detached? How would he get down with it through all that
network of lower branches?

In his quandary he hit on a plan involving new peril for himself and
doubtless some agitation to his little neighbor. He would not detach the
nest from its branch, for how could he ever attach it to another branch
in a way satisfactory to that finicky little householder? He knew enough
about his business to know that no bird would continue to live in a nest
which had been tampered with to that extent.

So he advanced cautiously out on the branch again till he could reach
the nest. Then very gently he bound his handkerchief about the opening.
Having done this, he cut into the branch with his scout knife within
about six or eight inches of the nest. When he had cut the branch almost
through it was a pretty ticklish matter, straddling the stubby end, for
he had the tip of the branch with the nest still in his hand and was in
danger of losing his balance.

Sitting there with his legs pressed up tight against the under side of
the branch so as to hold his balance on his precarious seat, he held
the end in one hand while he carefully pulled away the twigs from the
end beyond the nest. Thus he had a piece of branch perhaps twenty inches
long, with the nest hanging midway of it. This he held with the greatest
care, lest in turning the branch the delicate fabric by which it hung
should strain and break away. You would have thought that that little
prisoner of the speckled head owned the tree, which in point of fact was
owned by Temple Camp, notwithstanding its distance from the scout
community. So it was really Hervey's more than it was little
downy-head's if it comes to that.

It is not every landlord that goes to so much trouble for a tenant.




CHAPTER X

OFF WITH THE OLD LOVE, ON WITH THE NEW


"All right, we're coming down; kill the fatted calf," Hervey called with
all his former gay manner. "No more up and down trails for me. This is
moving day."

When he had descended a little nearer, Tom heard the cheery voice more
clearly. "It's no easy job moving a house and family. I have to watch my
step. Oh, boy, _coming down!_ This tree is tied in a sailor's knot."

"Are you bringing the bird?" Tom called.

"I'm bringing the bird and the whole block he lived in," Hervey called
back merrily. "I'm transplanting the neighborhood. He's going to move
into a better locality--very fashionable. He's coming up in the world--I
mean down. _O-o-h, boy_, watch your step; there was a narrow escape! I
stepped on a chunk of air."

So he came down working his way with both feet and one hand, and holding
the precious piece of branch with its dangling nest in the other.

"Talk about your barbed wire entanglements," he called. Then, after a
minute, "This little codger lives in a swing," he shouted; "I should
think she'd get dizzy. No accounting for tastes, hey? Whoa--boy! There's
where I nearly took a double-header. If I should fall now, I wouldn't
have so far to go."

"You won't fall," said Tom with a note of admiring confidence in his
brief remark.

"Better knock wood," came the cheery answer from above.

And presently his trim, agile form stood upon the lowest stalwart limb,
as he balanced himself with one hand against the trunk. His khaki jacket
was in shreds, a great rent was in his sleeve, and a tear in one of his
stockings showed a long bloody scratch beneath. In his free hand he held
the piece of branch with its depending nest, extending his arm out so as
to keep the rescued trophy safe from any harm of contact.

"Some rags, hey?" he called down good-humoredly, and exposing his figure
in grotesque attitude for sober Tom's amusement. "If mother could only
see me now! Get out from under while I swing down. Back to terra
cotta--I mean firma. Here goes----"

Down he came, tumbling forward, and sprawling on the ground, while he
held the branch above him, like the Statue of Liberty lighting the
world.

"Here we are," he said. "Take it while I have a look at my leg. It's
nothing but an abrasion. It looks like a trail from my ankle up to the
back of my knee. What care we? I've got trails on the brain, haven't I?"

Tom took the branch and stood looking admiringly, yet with a glint of
amusement lighting his stolid features, at the younger boy, who sat with
his knees drawn up humorously inspecting the scratch on his leg.

"Well, what do you think of eagles now?" Tom asked, in his dull way.

"Decline to be interviewed," Hervey said, with irrepressible buoyancy.
"What kind of a crazy bird is this that lives upside down in a house
that looks like a bat. It reminds me of a plum pudding, hanging in the
pantry. What's that streak of red, anyway? His patrol colors? You'd
think he'd get seasick, wouldn't you?"

"You've got the bird badge," Tom said, smiling a little; "can't you
guess?"

What Tom did not realize was that this merry, reckless, impulsive young
dare-devil, whose very talk, as he jumped from one theme to another,
made him smile in spite of himself, could not be expected to bear in
mind the record of his whole remarkable accomplishment. He was no
handbook scout.

There is the scout who learns a thing so that he may know it. But there
is the scout who learns a thing so that he may do it. And having done
it, he forgets it. Perhaps there is the scout who learns, does, and
remembers. But Hervey was not of that order. He had made a plunge for
each merit badge, won it and, presto, his nervous mind was on another.
It takes all kinds of scouts to make a world.

Perhaps Hervey was not the ideal scout, but there was something very
fascinating about his blithe way of going after a thing, getting it, and
burdening his mind with it no more. He lived for the present. His naive
manner of asking Tom for a tip as to a trail had greatly amused the more
experienced scout, who now could not understand how Hervey had used the
handbook so much and knew it so imperfectly.

"Didn't you ever see one before?" Tom asked.

"Not while I was conscious," Hervey shot back, "but if he likes to live
that way it's none of my business. He's inside taking a nap, I guess. He
had some rocky road to Dublin coming down. I wonder what he thinks? That
wasn't the right kind of a trail, was it?"

"Wasn't it?" Tom queried.

"No; I want a trail along the ground."

"Still after the Eagle, huh? Do you realize what you have done?"

"I've torn my suit all to shreds, I know that. Right the first time,
hey? I'd look nice going up on the platform Saturday night? Good I won't
have to, hey?"

"I thought you were going to," Tom said soberly.

"So I am," Hervey shot back at him; "trails up in the air don't count.
Never mind, I'll find a trail to-morrow. It's my troop I'm thinking of.
I'll land it, all right. When I get my mind on a thing.... Hey, Slady,
what in the dickens is that streak of red in the nest? Is it a trade
mark or something like that? You're a naturalist."

"It's an oriole's nest," Tom said, with just a note of good-humored
impatience in his voice. "I thought you'd know that."

"You see my head is full of the Eagle badge just now," Hervey pleaded,
"but I'm going to look up orioles."

Tom smiled.

"I'm going to look up orioles, and I'm going to get Doc to put some
iodine on my leg, and I'm going to do that tracking stunt to-morrow.
There's three things I'm going to do."

Tom paused, seemingly irresolute, as if not knowing whether to say what
was in his mind or not. And presently they started toward the camp,
Hervey limping along and carrying the branch.

"An oriole picks up everything he can find and weaves it into his nest,"
Tom said; "string, ribbon, bits of straw, any old thing. He likes things
that are bright colored."

"He's got the right idea, there," Hervey said.

Tom tried again to interest the rescuer in this little companion,
imprisoned within its own cozy little home, whom they were taking back
to camp. He could not comprehend how one who had performed such a stunt
as Hervey had just performed, and been so careful and humane, could
forget about his act so soon and take so little interest in the bird
which had been saved by his reckless courage. But that was Hervey
Willetts all over. His heart went where action was. And his interest
lapsed when action ceased.

"Somebody in a book called the oriole Orestes, because that means
dweller in the woods," Tom ventured.

"He dwells in a sky-scraper, that's what _I_ say," Hervey commented. "In
a hall bedroom upside down, twenty floors up."

Tom tried again. "What do you mean to do with her now that you've got
her?" he asked.

"I'm going to turn her over to you, Slady. You're the real scout; none
genuine unless marked T. S. You've got the birds all eating out of your
hands."

"You didn't tear the nest from the branch," Tom said. "You must have had
some idea."

"Well," said Hervey, "my idea was to stick it up in an elm tree down at
camp. Think she'd stand for it?"

"Guess so," Tom said.

"You see I'm all through bird study," Hervey said with amusing
artlessness, "so I think you'd better adopt Erastus--is that the way you
say it?"

"Orestes," Tom corrected him.

"Pardon _me_," Hervey said.

"Maybe you don't even care if I tell them what you did?" Tom queried.

"Tell them whatever you want," Hervey said. "I don't care. What I'm
thinking now is----"

"The next stunt," Tom interrupted him.

"You said it," Hervey answered cheerily; "just about a mile or so of
tracks. I guess you think I'm kind of happy-go-lucky, don't you?"

"I don't blame you for not remembering all the things you've done," Tom
said, "and all the rules and tests and like that. But most every scout
goes in for some particular thing. Maybe it's first aid, or maybe it's
signaling. And he keeps on with that thing even after he has the badge."

"That's right," Hervey concurred with surprising readiness. "You've got
the right idea. My specialty is the Eagle badge. See?"

"Well, that's twenty-one badges," Tom said.

"Right-o, and all I need to do now is test three for the stalking badge
and I'm _it_. And if I can't go over the top between now and this time
Saturday, I'll never look the fellows in my troop in the face again,
that's what."

Tom whistled to himself a moment as they strolled along. Perhaps he knew
more than he wished to say. Perhaps he was just a little out of patience
with this sprightly, irresponsible young hero.

"Well, there isn't much time," he said.

"That's the trouble, Slady, and it's got me guessing."




CHAPTER XI

OFF ON A NEW TACK


It is doubtful if ever there was a scout at Temple Camp for whom Tom
felt a greater interest or by whom he was more attracted than by this
irrepressible boy whose ready prowess he had just witnessed. And the
funny part of it was that no two persons could possibly have been more
unlike than these two. Hervey even got on Tom's nerves somewhat by his
blithe disregard of the handbook side of scouting, except for what it
was worth to him in his stuntful career.

The handbook was almost a sacred volume to sober Tom. Still, he was
captivated by Hervey, as indeed others were in the big camp.

"Well, you were after the Eagle and you got an oriole," he said, half
jokingly. "That's what I meant when I said that sometimes you don't
know where a trail will bring you out. You got a lot to learn about
scouting. What you did to-day was better than tracking a half a mile or
so."

"The pleasure is mine," said Hervey, in bantering acknowledgment of the
compliment, "but if there's anything higher in scouting than the Eagle
award, I'd like to know what it is."

"How much good has it done you trying for it?" Tom asked. "Nobody is
supposed to go after a thing in scouting the same as he does in a game.
He's supposed to learn things why he's going after something," he added
in his clumsy way. "You went through the bird study test and you didn't
even know it was an oriole's nest that you rescued. And you forgot all
about something else too, and it makes me laugh when I think about it;
when I think about you and your tracks."

"You think I'm a punk scout," Hervey sang out, gayly.

"I think you're a bully scout," Tom said.

"If I win the Eagle you'll say so, won't you?"

"Maybe."

"And do you mean to tell me that a scout can be any more of a scout
than that--an Eagle Scout?"

"Sure," said Tom uncompromisingly.

For a few seconds the young hero of the lofty elm was too astonished to
reply. Then he said, "Gee, you're a peachy scout, everybody says that,
but you're a funny kind of a fellow, that's what _I_ think. I don't get
you. The Eagle award is the highest award in scouting. It means, oh, it
means a couple of hundred stunts--hard ones. You can't get above that.
You're one yourself, you can't deny it. No, sir, you can't get above
that--no, _siree_.... Do you mean to tell me that there's anything
higher in scouting than the Eagle award?" he asked defiantly, after a
pause.

"Yop, there is," said Tom, unmoved.

Hervey paused in consternation. "Well, I'm for the Eagle award, anyway,"
he finally said. "That's good enough for _me_. And I'm going to get it,
too; right away, quick."

"You'll get it," Tom said.

"Think I will?"

"I don't think, I know."

"You mean you're _sure_ I will?"

"That's what I said."

"_Positive?_"

"That's what I said."

"Well, then I'd better get busy hunting for some tracks, hadn't I? I've
got to make good to _you_ as well as to my troop, haven't I?"

"You ask a lot of questions," said Tom in his funny, sober way. "You
don't need to make good with me."

"Believe _me_, I've got you and my troop both on my mind now. Are you
going to give me a tip about some tracks?"

"Maybe--to-morrow," Tom said.

"Do you know what I think I'll do, Slady?" Hervey suddenly vociferated
as if caught by an inspiration. "I think I'll follow this ledge around a
little way and see if there are any prints. Good idea, hey?"

This was too much for Tom. "Aren't you coming back to camp with me?" he
asked. "They'll want to hear about your adventure. It's getting pretty
late, too."

"Oh, I'm a regular night owl," Hervey said. "You take Asbestos back to
camp and hang him up in a tree and I'll blow in later. I'm going on the
war path for tracks. So long."

Before Tom had recovered from his surprise, Hervey was picking his way
along the rocky ledge at the base of the mountain, apparently oblivious
to all that had happened, and intent upon a rambling quest for tracks.
It was quite characteristic of him that he based his search upon no hint
or well considered plan, but went looking for the tracks of a wild
animal as one will hunt for shells, along the beach.

And there stood Tom, holding the memorial of Hervey's heroism in his
hand. Hervey had apparently forgotten all about it....




CHAPTER XII

AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT


Hervey picked his way among the rocks, looking here and there in the
crevices and upon the intervening ground as if he had lost something. A
more random quest could scarcely be imagined. Tom watched him for a few
minutes, then took the shorter way to camp with his little charge.

Hervey followed the rocky ledge for about fifty yards to a point where
the dry bed of a stream came winding down out of the mountain. It ran in
a tiny canyon between two rocks and so out upon the level fields to the
south where the camp lay.

The twilight was well advanced now, the last vivid patches were mellowed
into a pervading gray, which seemed to cover the rocks and woods like a
mantle. Clad in this somber robe, the wooded height which rose to the
north seemed the more forbidding. Not a sound was to be heard but the
voice of a whip-poor-will somewhere. Even Hervey's buoyant nature was
subdued by the solemn stillness.

Suddenly something between the two rocks caught his eye. The caked earth
looked as if a narrow board had been drawn over it. Bordering this broad
line, about half an inch from it on either side, were two narrow fancy
lines--or at least that is what Hervey called them. Examining these
carefully, he saw that they were made up of tiny, diagonal lines. In the
place where this ran between the rocks, in the deep shadow, these
singular marks were surprisingly legible, and bore not a little the
appearance of a border design. The big stones formed a sort of shadow
box, causing the markings to appear in bold relief.

Hervey knew nothing of the freakish influence of light on tracks and
trails, but he saw here something which he knew had been made by a
moving object. The continuous design was so nearly perfect that it
seemed like the work of human beings, but Hervey knew that it could
hardly be this.

What, then, was it?

Where the lines emerged from between the rocks the marking was less
regular and less clear, but plain enough in the damp, crusted earth
which covered the mud in the old stream bed.

With heart bounding with joy and elation, Hervey followed the bed of the
stream. The tracks, or whatever they were, were so clear that he could
keep to the side of the muddy area and still see them.

It was characteristic of him that having made this great discovery, he
did not trouble himself about the direction he was taking. In point of
fact he was going in a southwesterly direction toward the camp.

For perhaps a quarter of a mile the strange markings were clearly
legible in the dusk, running as they did in the yielding caked surface
of the stream bed. They were as clear as tracks in caked snow. Then the
path of the dried up waterway petered out in an area of rocks and
pebbles and beyond that there was no clearly defined way; the brook had
evidently trickled down into the lower land taking the path of least
resistance among the rocks.

No doubt Tom Slade could have followed that water path to its end, but
Hervey was puzzled, baffled. Yet the enthusiasm which carried him, as
though on wings, to his triumphs was aroused now. He had the prophecy of
Tom Slade to strengthen his determination. He must make good for Tom's
sake now, as well as for the sake of his troop. He had told Tom that if
he only once found a trail, nothing would stop him--_nothing_. Very
fine. All that talk about there being something higher than the Eagle
award was nonsense, and Tom Slade knew it was nonsense. "He said I'd do
it, and I'm going to," Hervey muttered to himself.

Hervey had no patience with obstacles, he must be always moving, so now
he began frantically scrutinizing the ground to see if he could find
some sign of the marks which had eluded him. Since he could no longer
distinguish the stream bed, he looked for some sign of those marks
outside the stream bed.

And presently he was rewarded by the discovery of tracks, animal tracks
sure enough, without any ribbon, so to speak, printed between them.
There they were upon the hard, bare earth, two lines of claw marks,
continuing to a point where they disappeared again at the edge of a
close cropped field. Evidently his mysterious predecessor had known just
where he wished to go and had forsaken the stream bed when it no longer
went in his direction. These were no aimless tracks, they were the
tracks of a creature that had particular business in the southwest, and
that knew how to get there.




CHAPTER XIII

THE STRANGE TRACKS


Hervey had not the slightest idea in which direction he was going, but
in point of fact he was heading straight in the direction of Temple
Camp. But he had found his precious tracks and nothing would stop him
now. He would go over the top in a blaze of glory next day, and then
perhaps a telegram could be sent to scout headquarters to have the Eagle
badge sent up immediately so that he could receive the very award itself
on Saturday night. He was on the home stretch now, as luck would have
it, and nothing would stop him--nothing....

_Nothing!_ He would send a line to his mother that very night and tell
her all about it, and put E. S. after his name. _Eagle Scout._ The
bicycle his father had promised him when he should attain that pinnacle
of scout glory, he would now demand. That would be where dad lost
out....

If Tom Slade knew some secret about a higher award, that meant more
stunts, Hervey would do those stunts, too; the more the merrier. He
should worry....

Yes, he was on the trail at last, and at the end of that trail was the
stalking badge--and the Eagle award. _Hervey Willetts, Eagle Scout._ It
sounded pretty good....

He realized now that this discovery of his was just a streak of luck,
that the chances would have been altogether against his finding real
tracks in these two remaining days. "I'm lucky," he said. Which must
have been true, else he would have lost his life long ere that....

Darkness was now coming on apace, and it must be long past supper-time.
But this was no time to be thinking of eating. Nothing would stop him
now, _nothing_. When he set his mind on a thing....

The tracks changed again in traversing the fields. They were not tracks
at all, in fact, but a narrow belt of trampled grass, which was not
visible close by. It was only by looking ahead that Hervey could
distinguish it. Half way across the field he lost it altogether, but,
remembering the fact that it could be seen better at a distance, he
climbed a tree and there lay the long narrow belt of trampled grass
running under the rail fence at the field's edge and into the sparse
woods beyond. He had not to follow it, only pick out the rail of the
fence near where it passed and hurry to that spot.

And there it was, waiting for him. If Hervey had been well versed in
tracking lore and less of a seeker after glory, he would have
scrutinized the lowest rail of the fence, under which the track went,
for bits of hair. But Hervey Willetts was not after bits of hair. It was
quite like him that he did not care two straws about what sort of animal
he was tracking. He was tracking the Eagle badge.

In the sparse woods the tracks appeared as regular tracks again, sharply
cut in the hard earth. Where the ground was bare under the trees, the
tracks were as clear as writing on a slate, but in the intervening
spaces the vegetation obscured them and he found them with difficulty.
This tracking in the woods was the hardest part of his task because it
required patience and deliberation, and Hervey had neither.

But he managed it and was beginning to wonder how far his tracking had
led him and whether he was near to covering the required distance. When
he felt certain of that, he would drive a stake in the ground, fly his
navy blue scarf from it to prove his claim, and go back to camp in
triumph. He had made up his mind that he would at once report his feat
in Council Shack, and offer to escort any or all of the trustees back
over the ground in verification of his crowning accomplishment. The only
Eagle Scout at Temple Camp, except Tom Slade; and Tom Slade didn't
count....

Still, as he looked back, the base of the mountain seemed almost as near
as when he had made his discovery, the fields and wood which had seemed
so long to the tracker were but small to the casual glance and he
realized that his whole journey was yet far short of a quarter mile.

The tracks now ran, as clear as writing, across one of those curious
patches of damp ground with a thin, slippery skin, which was torn
straight across in a kind of furrow. Hervey was so intent on studying
this that he did not notice in the shadow about a hundred feet ahead of
him a log directly in line with the tracks. When suddenly he looked up,
he paused and stared ahead of him in consternation.

Some one was sitting on the log.




CHAPTER XIV

HERVEY'S TRIUMPH


As soon as Hervey's dismay subsided he approached the log, and as he did
so the figure appeared familiar to him. There was something especially
familiar in the scout hat which came down over the ears of the little
fellow who was underneath it, and in the hair which straggled out under
the brim. The belt, drawn absurdly tight around the thin little waist,
was a quite sufficient mark of identification. It was Skinny McCord, the
latest find, and official mascot of the Bridgeboro troop, one of the
crack troop of the camp. Alfred was his Christian name.

The queer little fellow's usually pale face looked ghastly white in the
late dusk, and the strange brightness of his eyes, and his spindle legs
and diminutive body, crowned by the hat at least two sizes too large,
made him seem a very elf of the woods. At camp or elsewhere, Skinny was
always alone, but he seemed more lonely than ever in that still wood,
with the night coming on. Nature was so big and Skinny was so little.

"Hello, Skinny, old top!" Hervey said cheerily. "What do you think
you're doing here? Lost, strayed, or stolen?"

Skinny's eyes were bright with a strange light; he seemed not to hear
his questioner. But Hervey, knowing the little fellow's queerness, was
not surprised.

"You look kind of frightened. Are you lost?" Hervey inquired.

For just a moment Skinny stared at him with a look so intense that
Hervey was startled. The little fellow's fingers which clutched a branch
of the log, trembled visibly. He seemed like one possessed.

"Don't get rattled, Skinny," Hervey said; "I'll take you back to camp.
We'll find the way, all right-o."

"I'm a second-class scout," Skinny said.

"Bully for you, Skinny."

"I--I just did it. I'm going to do more so as to be sure. Will you stay
with me so you can tell them? Because maybe they won't believe me."

"They'll believe you, Skinny, or I'll break their heads, one after
another. What did you do, Alf, old boy?"

"Maybe they'll say I'm lying."

"Not while I'm around," Hervey said. "What's on your mind, Skinny?"

"I ain't through yet," Skinny said. "I know your name and I like you. I
like you because you can dive fancy."

"Yes, and what are you doing here, Alf?" Hervey asked, sitting down
beside the little fellow.

"I'm a second-class scout," Skinny said; "I found the tracks and I
tracked them. See them? There they are. Those are tracks."

"Yes, I see them."

"I tracked them all the way up from camp and I've got to go further up
yet, so as to be sure. You got to be _sure_--or you don't get the badge.
So now I won't be a tenderfoot any more. Are you a second-class scout?"

"First-class, Skinny."

"I bet you don't care about tracks--do you?"

Hervey put his arm over the little fellow's shoulder and as he did so he
felt the little body trembling with nervous excitement.

"Not so much, Skinny. No, I don't care about tracks. I--eh--I like
diving better. How far up are you going to follow the tracks?"

"I'm going to follow them away, way, way up so as I'll be _sure_. They
might say it wasn't a half a mile, hey?"

The hand which rested on the little thin shoulder, patted it
reassuringly.

"Well, I'll be there to tell them different, won't I, Skinny, old boy?"

"Will you go with me all the way up to where the mountain begins--will
you?"

"Surest thing you know."

"And will you prove it for me?"

"That's me."

"Then I won't be a tenderfoot any more. I'll be a second-class scout."

"Is that what you have to do to be a second-class scout, Skinny? I
forget about the second-class tests. You have to track an animal, or
something like that? I've got a rotten memory."

"And I'll--I'll have a trail named after me, too; it'll be called McCord
trail. These are _my_ tracks, see? Because I found them. Only maybe
they'll say I'm lying. Anyway, how did _you_ happen to come here?" he
asked as if in sudden fear.

"I was just taking a walk through the woods, Skinny."

Skinny continued to stare at him, still with a kind of lingering
misgiving, but feeling that gentle patting on his shoulder, he seemed
reassured.

"I was just flopping around in the woods, Skinny; just flopping around,
that's all...."




CHAPTER XV

SKINNY'S TRIUMPH


And that was the triumph of Hervey Willetts, who would let nothing stand
in his way. "_Nothing!_"

A hundred yards or so more and the stalking badge would have been won,
and with it the Eagle award. The bicycle that he had longed for would
have been his. The troop which in its confidence had commissioned him to
win this high honor would have gone wild with joy. Hervey Willetts would
have been the only Eagle Scout at Temple Camp save Tom Slade, and, of
course, Tom didn't count.

Yet, strangely enough, the only eagle that Hervey Willetts thought of
now was the eagle which he had driven off--the bird of prey. To have
killed little Skinny's hope and dispelled his almost insane joy would
have made Hervey Willetts feel just like that eagle which had aroused
his wrath and reckless courage. "Not for mine," he muttered to himself.
"Slady was right when he said he wasn't so stuck on eagles. He's a queer
kind of a duck, Slady is; a kind of a mind reader. You never know just
what he means or what he's thinking about. I can't make that fellow out
at all.... I wonder what he meant when he said that a trail sometimes
doesn't come out where you think it's going to come out...."

Hervey had greatly admired Tom Slade, but he stood in awe of him now.
"Well, anyway," said he to himself, "he said I'd win the award and I
didn't; so I put one over on him." To put one over on Tom Slade was of
itself something of a triumph. "He's not _always_ right, anyway," Hervey
reflected.

He was aroused from his reflections by little Skinny. "I followed them
from camp," he said. "They're _real_ tracks, ain't they? And they're
_mine_, ain't they? Because I found them? Ain't they?"

"Bet your life. I tell you what you do, Alf, old boy. You just follow
them up a little way further toward the mountain and I'll wait for you
here. Then we can say you did it all by yourself, see? The handbook says
a quarter of a mile or a half a mile, I don't know what, but you might
as well give them good measure. I can't remember what's in the handbook
half of the time."

"You know about good turns, don't you?"

"'Fraid not, except when somebody reminds me."

"I'm going to keep you for my friend even if I _am_ a second-class
scout, I am," Skinny assured him.

"That's right, don't forget your old friends when you get up in the
world."

"Maybe you'll get that canoe some day, hey?"

"What canoe is that, Alf?"

"The one for the highest honor; it's on exhibition in Council Shack. All
the fellows go in to look at it. A big fellow let me go in with him,
'cause I'm scared to go in there alone."

"I haven't been inside Council Shack in three weeks," Hervey said. "I
don't know what it looks like inside that shanty. I'm not strong on
exhibitions. I'll take a squint at it when we go down."

"The highest honor, that's the Eagle award, isn't it?" Skinny asked.

"I suppose so," Hervey said; "a fellow can't get any higher than the top
unless he has an airplane."

"Can he get higher than the top if he has a balloon?" Skinny wanted to
know.

"Never you mind about balloons. What we're after now is the second-class
scout badge, and we're going to get it if we have to kill a couple of
councilmen."

"Did you ever kill a councilman?"

"No, but I will, if Alf McCord, second-class scout, doesn't get his
badge. I feel just in the humor. Go on now, chase yourself up the line a
ways and then come back. I'll be waiting at the garden gate."

"What gate?"

"I mean here on this log."

"Do you know Tom Slade?"

"You bet."

"He likes me, he does; because I used to steal things out of grocery
stores just like he did--once."

"All right," Hervey laughed. "Go ahead now, it's getting
late--Asbestos."

"That isn't my name."

"Well, you remind me of a friend of mine named Asbestos, and I remind
myself of an eagle. Now don't ask any more questions, but beat it."

And so the scout who had never bothered his head about the more serious
side of scouting sat on the log watching the little fellow as he
followed those precious tracks a little further so that there might be
no shadow of doubt about his fulfilling the requirement. Then Hervey
shouted to him to come back, and shook hands with him and was the first
to congratulate him on attaining to the dignity of second-class scout.
Not a word did Hervey say about the amusing fact of little Skinny having
followed the tracks backward; backward or forward, it made no
difference; he had followed them, that was the main thing.

"They're _my_ tracks; all mine," Skinny said.

"You bet," said Hervey; "you can roll them up and put them in your
pocket if you want to."

Skinny gazed at his companion as if he didn't just see how he could do
that.

And so they started down for camp together, verging away from the tracks
of glory, so as to make a short cut.

"I bet you're smart, ain't you?" Skinny asked. "I bet you're the best
scout in this camp. I bet you know everything in the handbook, don't
you?"

"I wouldn't know the handbook if I met it in the street," Hervey said.

Skinny seemed a bit puzzled. "I had a bicycle that a big fellow gave
me," he said, "but it broke. Did you ever have a bicycle?"

"Well, I had one but I lost it before I got it," Hervey said. "So I
don't miss it much," he added.

"You sound as if you were kind of crazy," Skinny said.

"I'm crazy about you," Hervey laughed; and he gave Skinny a shove.

"Anyway, I like you a lot. And they'll surely let me be a second-class
scout now, won't they?"

"I'd like to see them stop you."




CHAPTER XVI

IN DUTCH


That Hervey Willetts was a kind of odd number at camp was evidenced by
his unfamiliarity with the things that were very familiar to most boys
there. He was too restless to hang around the pavilion or sprawl under
the trees or idle about with the others in and near Council Shack. He
never read the bulletin board posted outside, and the inside was a place
of so little interest to him that he had not even seen the beautiful
canoe that was exhibited there, and on which so many longing eyes had
feasted.

Now as he and Skinny entered that sanctum of the powers that were, he
saw it for the first time. It was a beautiful canoe with a gold stripe
around it and gunwales of solid mahogany. It lay on two sawhorses.
Within it, arranged in tempting style, lay two shiny paddles, a caned
back rest, and a handsome leather cushion. Upon it was a little
typewritten sign which read:

    This canoe to be given to the first scout this season to win the
    Eagle award.

"That's rubbing it in," said Hervey to himself. "That's two things, a
bicycle and a canoe I've lost before I got them."

He sat down at the table in the public part of the office while Skinny,
all excitement, stood by and watched him eagerly. He pulled a sheet of
the camp stationery toward him and wrote upon it in his free, sprawling,
reckless hand.

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

    This will prove that Alfred McCord of Bridgeboro troop tracked some
    kind of an animal for more than a half a mile, because I saw him
    doing it and I saw the tracks and I came back with him and I know
    all about it and it was one good stunt I'll tell the world. So if
    that's all he's got to do to be a second-class scout, he's got the
    badge already, and if anybody wants to know anything about it they
    can ask me.

                                                      HERVEY WILLETTS,
                                                       Troop Cabin 13.

After scrawling this conclusive affidavit and placing it under a weight
on the desk of Mr. Wade, resident trustee, Hervey sauntered over to the
cabins occupied by the two patrols of his troop, the Leopards and the
Panthers. They were just getting ready to go to supper.

"Anything doing, Hervey?" his scoutmaster, Mr. Warren, asked him.

"Nothing doing," Hervey answered laconically.

"Maybe he doesn't know what you're talking about," one of his patrol,
the Panthers, suggested. This was intended as a sarcastic reference to
Hervey's way of losing interest in his undertakings before they were
completed.

"Have you got a trail--any tracks?" another asked.

Hervey began rummaging through his pockets and said, "I haven't got one
with me."

"You didn't happen to see that canoe in Council Shack, did you?" Mr.
Warren asked him.

"Yes, it's very nice," Hervey said.

Mr. Warren paused a moment, irresolute.

"Hervey," he finally said, "the boys think it's too bad that you should
fall down just at the last minute. After all you've accomplished, it
seems like--what shall I say--like Columbus turning back just before
land was sighted."

"He didn't turn back," Hervey said; "now there's one thing I didn't
forget--my little old history book. When Columbus started to cross the
Delaware----"

"Listen, Hervey," Mr. Warren interrupted him; "suppose you and I walk
together, I want to talk with you."

So they strolled together in the direction of the mess boards.

"Now, Hervey, my boy," said Mr. Warren, "I don't want you to be angry at
what I say, but the boys are disgruntled and I think you can't blame
them. They set their hearts on having the Eagle award in the troop and
they elected you to bring it to them. I was the first to suggest you. I
think we were all agreed that you had the, what shall I say, the pep and
initiative to go out and get it. You won twenty badges with flying
colors, I don't know how you did it, and now you're falling down all on
account of _one single requirement_.

"Is that fair to the troop, Hervey? Is it fair to yourself? It isn't
lack of ability; if it was I wouldn't speak of it. But it's because you
tire of a thing before it's finished. Think of the things you learned
in winning those twenty badges--the Morse Code, life saving, carpentry
work. How many of those things do you remember now? You have forgotten
them all--lost interest in them all. I said nothing because I knew you
were after the Eagle badge with both hands and feet, but now you see you
have tired of that--right on the threshold of victory. You can't blame
the boys, Hervey, now can you?"

"Tracks are not so easy to find," Hervey said, somewhat subdued.

"They are certainly not easy to find if you don't look for them," Mr.
Warren retorted, not unpleasantly. "I heard a boy in camp say only this
evening that that queer little duck in the Bridgeboro troop had found
some tracks near the lake and started to follow them. There is no pair
of eyes in camp better than yours, Hervey. But you know you can't expect
to find animal tracks down in the village."

"In the village?"

"Two or three of your own patrol saw you down there a week ago, Hervey;
saw you run out of a candy store to follow a runaway horse. You know,
Hervey, horses' tracks aren't the kind you're after. Those boys were
observant. They were on their way to the post office. I heard them
telling Tom Slade about it."

"What did _he_ say--Tom Slade?" Hervey queried.

"Oh, he didn't say anything; he never says much. But I think he likes
you, Hervey, and he'll be disappointed."

"You think he will?"

"You know, Hervey, Tom Slade never won his place by jumping from one
thing to another. The love of adventure and something new is good, but
responsibility to one's troop, to oneself, is more important. How will
your father feel about the bicycle he had looked forward to giving you?
You see, Hervey, you regarded the winning of the Eagle award as an
adventure, whereas the troop regarded it as a commission--a commission
entailing responsibility."

"I'm not so stuck on eagles," said Hervey, repeating Tom Slade's very
words. "There might be something better than the Eagle award, you can't
tell."

"Oh, Hervey, my boy, don't talk like that, and above all, don't let the
boys hear you talk like that. There's nothing better than to finish what
you begin--_nothing_. You know, Hervey, I understand you thoroughly.
You're a wizard for stunts, but you're weak on responsibility. Now
you've got some new stunt on your mind, and the troop doesn't count. Am
I right?"

Hervey did not answer.

"And now the chance has nearly passed. Tomorrow we all go to the college
regatta on the Hudson, the next day is camp clean-up and we've all got
to work, and the next night, awards. Even if you were to do the
unexpected now, I don't know whether we could get the matter through and
passed on for Saturday night. I'm disappointed with you, Hervey, and so
are the boys. We all expected to see Mr. Temple hand you the Eagle badge
on Saturday night. I expected to send your father a wire. Walley has
been planning to take our picture as an Eagle troop."

"Well, and you'll all be disappointed," said Hervey with a kind of
heedlessness that nettled his scoutmaster. "And if anybody should ask
you about it, any of the troop, you can just say that I found out
something and that I'm not so stuck on the Eagle award, after all.
That's what you can tell them."

"Well, I will tell them no such thing, for I would be ashamed to tell
them that. I think we all know what the highest honor is. Perhaps the
boys are not such reckless young adventurers as you, but they know what
the highest scout honor is. And I think if you will be perfectly honest
with me, Hervey, you'll acknowledge that something new has caught your
fancy. Come now, isn't that right?"

"Right the first time," said Hervey with a gayety that quite disgusted
his scoutmaster.

"Well, go your way, Hervey," he said coldly.




CHAPTER XVII

HERVEY GOES HIS WAY


So Hervey went his way alone, and a pretty lonesome way it was. The
members of his troop made no secret of their disappointment and
annoyance, he was clearly an outsider among them, and Mr. Warren treated
him with frosty kindness. Hervey had been altogether too engrossed in
his mad career of badge-getting to cultivate friends, he was always
running on high, as the scouts of camp said, and though everybody liked
him none had been intimate with him. He felt this now.

In those two intervening days between his adventure in the elm tree and
the big pow-wow on Saturday night, he found a staunch friend in little
Skinny, who followed him about like a dog. They stuck together on the
bus ride down to the regatta on the Hudson and were close companions all
through the day.

Hervey did not care greatly for the boat races, because he could not be
in them; he had no use for a race unless he could win it. So he and
Skinny fished for a while over the rail of the excursion boat, but
Hervey soon tired of this, because the fish would not cooeperate. Then
they pitched ball on the deck, but the ball went overboard and Mr.
Warren would not permit Hervey to dive in after it. So he made a wager
with Skinny that he could shinny up the flag-pole, but was foiled in his
attempt by the captain of the boat. Thus he was driven to the refuge of
conversation.

Balancing himself perilously on the rail in an unfrequented part of the
steamer, he asked Skinny about the coveted award. "They're not going to
put you through a lot of book sprints, are they?" he inquired.

"I'm going to get it Saturday night," Skinny said. "I bet all my troop
will like me then, won't they? I have to stand up straight when I go on
the platform. Some fellows get a lot of clapping when they go on the
platform. I know two fellows that are going to clap when I go on. Will
you clap when I go on? Because I like you a lot."

"I'll stamp with both feet," said Hervey.

"And will you clap?"

"When you hear me clap you'll think it's a whole troop."

"I bet your troop think a lot of you."

"They could be arrested if they said out loud what they think of me."

"My father got arrested once."

"Well, I hope they won't trip you up. That was a fine stunt you did,
Skinny. When those trustees and scoutmasters once get busy with the
handbook, _good night_, it reminds you of boyhood's happy school days."

"It's all on page thirty," Skinny said; "and I've done all of those ten
things, because the tracking made ten, and Mr. Elting said as long as
you said you saw me do it, it's all right, because he knows you tell the
truth."

"Well, that's one good thing about me," Hervey laughed.

"And he said you came near winning the Eagle award, too. He said you
only just missed it. I bet you're a hero, ain't you?"

"Some hero."

"A boy said you gave the eagle a good run for it, even if you didn't get
it. He said you came near it."

Hervey just sat on the rail swinging his legs. "I came pretty near the
eagle, that's right," he said; "and if I'd got a little nearer I'd have
choked his life out. That's how much I think of the eagle."

Skinny looked as if he did not understand.

"Did you see that bird that Tom Slade got? He got the nest and all. It's
hanging in the elm tree near the pavilion. There's an oriole in that
nest."

"Get out!"

"Didn't you see it yet?"

"Nope."

"All the fellows saw it. That bird has got a name like the one you
called me."

"Asbestos?"

"Something like that. Why did you call me that name--Asbestos?"

"Well, because you're more important than an eagle. See?"

"That's no good of a reason."

"Well, then, because you're going to be a second-hand scout."

"You mean second-_class_," Skinny said; "that's no good of a reason,
either."

"Well, I guess I'm not much good on reasons. I'd never win the reason
badge, hey?"

"Do you know who is the smartest fellow in this camp?" Skinny asked,
jumping from one thing to another in his erratic fashion. "Tom Slade. He
knows everything. I like him but I like you better. He promised to clap
when I go on the platform, too. Will you ask your troop to clap?"

"I'm afraid they don't care anything about doing me a favor, Alf. Maybe
they won't feel like clapping. But your troop will clap."

"Pee-wee Harris, he's in my troop; he said he'd shout."

"Good night!" Hervey laughed. "What more do you want?"




CHAPTER XVIII

THE DAY BEFORE


So it seemed that Tom Slade had brought the rescued oriole, bag and
baggage, back to camp, and had said nothing of the circumstance of his
finding it. He was indeed a queer, uncommunicative fellow.

Surely, thought Hervey, this scout supreme could have no thought of
personal triumphs, for he was out of the game where such things were
concerned, being already the hero of scout heroes, living among them
with a kind of romantic halo about his head.

Hervey was a little puzzled as to why Tom had not given him credit for
finding that little stranger who was now a sort of mascot in the camp.
For the whole scout family had taken very kindly to Orestes.

In the loneliness of the shadow under which he spent those two days,
Hervey would have welcomed the slight glory which a word or two from Tom
Slade might have brought him. But Tom Slade said nothing. And it was not
in Hervey's nature to make any claims or boasts. He soon forgot the
episode, as he forgot almost everything else that he had done and got
through with. Glory for its own sake was nothing to him. He had climbed
the tree and got his scout suit torn into shreds and that was
satisfaction to him.

The next and last day before that momentous Saturday was camp clean-up
day, for with the lake events on Labor Day the season would about close.
All temporary stalking signs were taken down, original conveniences in
and about the cabins were removed, troop and patrol fire clearings were
raked over, two of the three large mess boards were stored away, and
most of the litter cleared up generally. What was done in a small way
each morning was done in a large way on this busy day, and every scout
in camp did his share.

Hervey worked with his own troop, the members of which gave him scant
attention. If they had ignored him altogether it would have been better
than according him the cold politeness which they showed. No doubt their
disappointment and humiliation were keen, and they showed it.

"What'll I do with this eagle flag?" one of them called, as he displayed
an emblem with an eagle's head upon it, which one of the sisters of one
of the boys had made in anticipation of the great event.

"Send it back to her," another shouted. "We ought to have a flag with a
chicken's head on it. We counted our chickens before they were hatched."

"_Some_ fall-down; we should worry," another said, busy at his tasks.

"Eagle fell asleep at the switch, didn't you, Eagle?"

They called him Eagle in a kind of ironical contempt, and it cut him
more than anything else that they said.

"Eagle with clipped wings, hey?" one of the troop wits observed.

"Help us take down this troop pole, will you?" Will Connor, Hervey's
patrol leader, called. "We should bother about the eagle; our eagle
isn't hatched yet."

"Some eggs are rotten," one of the Panthers retorted, which created a
general laugh.

Hervey turned scarlet at this and his hands trembled on the oven stone
which he was casting away. He dropped it and stood up straight, only to
confront the stolid face of the young camp assistant looking straight at
him.

"Getting all cleared up?" Tom asked in his usual sober but pleasant way.

Hervey Willetts was about to fly off the handle but something in Tom's
quiet, keen glance deterred him.

"You fellows going home soon?"

"Tuesday morning," volunteered the Panthers' patrol leader. "We usually
don't stick to the finish. We're a troop of quitters, you know."

"What did you quit?" asked Tom, taking his informant literally.

"Oh, never mind."

"It's all right, as long as you don't quit each other," Tom said, and
strolled on to inspect the work of the other troops.

Hervey followed him and in a kind of reckless abandonment said, "Well,
you see you were wrong after all--I don't care. You said I'd win it. So
I put one over on you, anyway," he laughed in a way of mock triumph.
"Tom Slade is wrong for once; how about that? The rotten egg put one
over on you. See? I'm the rotten egg--the rotten egg scout. I should
bother my head!"

"Go back and pick up those stones, Willetts," said Tom quietly, "and
pile them up down by the woodshed."

"You didn't even tell them I saved that little bird, did you?" Hervey
said, giving way to his feelings of recklessness and desperation. "What
do you suppose _I_ care? I don't care what anybody thinks. I do what I
do when I do it; that's me! I don't care a hang about your old
badges--I----"

"Hervey," said Tom; "go back and pile up those stones like I told you.
And don't get mad at anybody. You do just what I tell you."

"Did you hear----"

"Yop. And I tell you to go back there and keep calm. I'm not interested
in badges either; I'm interested in scouts. They'll never be able to
make a badge to fit you. Now go back and do what I told you. Who's
running this show? You or I?"




CHAPTER XIX

THE GALA DAY


As long as the cheerful blaze near the lakeside gathers its scouts about
it on summer evenings, Temple Camp will never forget that memorable
Saturday night. It is the one subject on which the old scout always
discourses to the new scout when he takes him about and shows him the
sights.

The one twenty-two train from the city brought John Temple, founder of
Temple Camp, sponsor of innumerable scout enterprises, owner of
railroads, banks, and goodness knows what all. He was as rich as the
blackberry pudding of which Pee-wee Harris (official cut-up of the
Ravens) always ate three helpings at mess.

His coming was preceded by telegrams going in both directions, talks
over the long distance 'phone, and when at last he came in all his
glory, a rainbow troop consisting of honor scouts was formed to go down
to Catskill Landing and greet him. One scout who would presently be
handed the Gold Cross for life saving was among the number. Others were
down for the Star Scout badge, and the silver and the bronze awards.
Others had passed with peculiar distinction the many and difficult tests
for first-class scout. One, a little fellow from the west, had won the
camp award for signaling. There were others, too, with attainments less
conspicuous and who were not in this gala troop, but the whole camp was
out to honor its heroes, one and all.

Roy Blakeley, of the Silver Foxes, had a wooden rattle which he claimed
could be heard for seven miles--eight miles and a quarter at a pinch.
The Tigers, with Bert Winton at their head, had some kind of an original
contrivance which simulated the roar of their ferocious namesake. The
Church Mice, from down the Hudson, with Brent Gaylong as their
scoutmaster, had a special squeal (patent applied for) which sounded as
if all the mice in Christendom had gone suddenly mad. Pee-wee had his
voice--enough said.

The Panthers and the Leopards, with Mr. Warren, watched the departure of
this rainbow troop with wistful glances. Then the scoutmaster took his
chagrined followers to their bare cabins, stripped of all that had made
them comfortable and homelike in their long stay at camp. Hervey was not
among them. No one in all the camp knew how he had suffered from
homesickness in those two days. He wanted to be home--home with his
mother and father.

To his disappointed troop Mr. Warren said:

    Scouts, we have not won the coveted award. But in this fraternal
    community, every award is an honor to every scout. We will try to
    find pride in the achievements of our friends and camp comrades. Our
    mistake was in selecting for our standard bearer one whose
    temperament disqualified him for the particular mission which he
    undertook. No shortcoming of cowardice is his, at all events, and I
    blame myself that I did not suggest one of you older boys.

    If we have not won the distinction we set our hearts on, our stay
    here has been pleasant and our achievement creditable, and for my
    part I give three cheers for the scouts who are to be honored and
    for the fortunate troops who will share their honors.

This good attempt to revive the spirits of his disappointed troop was
followed by three feeble cheers, which ought to have gone on crutches,
they were so weak.

Hervey was not in evidence throughout the day, and since no news is good
news, one or two unquenchable spirits in his troop continued to hope
that he would put in a dramatic appearance just in the nick of time,
with the report of a sensational discovery--the tracks of a bear or a
wild cat, for instance. It is significant that they would have been
quite ready to believe him, whatever he had said.

But Mr. Warren knew, as his troop did not, of Hervey's saying that he
wasn't so stuck on eagles, and he was satisfied from the talk that he
had had with him that Hervey's erratic and fickle nature had asserted
itself in the very moment of high responsibility. He could not help
liking Hervey, but he would never again allow the cherished hopes of the
troop to rest upon such shaky foundation.

Whatever lingering hopes the troop might have had of a last minute
triumph were rudely dispelled when Hervey came sauntering into camp at
about four o'clock twirling his hat on the end of a stick in an
annoyingly care-free manner. Tom Slade saw him passing Council Shack
intent upon his acrobatic enterprise of tossing the hat into the air and
catching it on his head, as if this clownish feat were the chief concern
of his young life.

"You going to be on hand at five?" Tom queried in his usual off-hand
manner.

"What's the use?" Hervey asked. "There's nothing in it for me."

Tom leaned against the railing of the porch, with his stolid, half
interested air.

"Nothing in it for me," Hervey repeated, twirling his hat on the stick
in fine bravado.

"So you've decided to be a quitter," Tom said, quietly.

Hervey winced a bit at this.

"You know you said you weren't so stuck on eagles," Hervey reminded him,
rather irrelevantly.

"Well, I'm not so stuck on quitters either," Tom said.

"What's the good of my going? I'm not getting anything out of it."

"Neither am I," said Tom.

"You got stung when you made a prophecy about me, didn't you?" Hervey
said with cutting unkindness. "You and I both fell down, hey? We're punk
scouts--we should bother our heads."

Again he began twirling his hat on the stick. "I couldn't sit with my
troop, anyway," he added; "I'm in Dutch."

"Well, sit with mine, then; Roy Blakeley and that bunch are all from my
home town; they're nice fellows. You know Pee-wee Harris--the little
fellow that fell off the springboard?"

"I ought to like him; we both fell down."

"Well, you be on hand at five o'clock and don't make matters worse, like
a young fool. If you've lost the eagle, you've lost it. That's no reason
you should slight Mr. Temple, who founded this camp. We expect every
scout in camp to be on hand. You're not the only one in camp who isn't
getting the Eagle award."

"You call me a fool?"

"Yes, you're twenty different kinds of a fool."

"Almost an Eagle fool, hey?"

He went on up the hill toward his patrol cabin, tossing his hat in the
air and trying to catch it on his head. As luck would have it, just
before he entered the little rustic home of sorrow, the hat landed
plunk on his head, a little to the back and very much to the side, and
he let it remain in that rakish posture when he entered.

The effect was not pleasing to his comrades and scoutmaster.




CHAPTER XX

UNCLE JEB


At five o'clock every seat around the open air platform was occupied.
Every bench out of Scout Chapel, the long boards on which the hungry
multitude lined up at supper-time, every chair from Council Shack and
Main Pavilion, and many a trunk and cedar chest from tents and cabins
and a dozen other sorts of makeshift seating accommodations were laid
under contribution for the gala occasion. And even these were not
enough, for the whole neighboring village turned out in a body, and
gaping summer boarders strolled into the camp in little groups, thankful
for something to do and see.

There was plenty doing. Those who could not get seats sprawled under the
trees in back of the seats and a few scouts perched up among the
branches.

Upon the makeshift rustic platform sat the high dignitaries,
scoutmasters, trustees--the faculty, as Hervey was fond of calling them.
In the big chair of honor in the center sat Mr. John Temple and
alongside him Commissioner Something-or-Other and Committeeman Something
Else. They had come up from the big scout wigwam, in the dense woods on
the corner of Broadway and Twenty-third Street, New York.

Resounding cheers arose and echoed from the hills when old Uncle Jeb
Rushmore, retired ranchman and tracker, and scout manager of the big
camp, took his seat among the high dignitaries. He made some concession
to the occasion by wearing a necktie which was half way around his neck,
and by laying aside his corn-cob pipe.

Tom Slade, who sat beside his superior, looked none the less romantic in
the scout regalia which he wore in honor of the occasion. His popularity
was attested as he took his seat by cries of "Tomasso!" "Oh, you,
Tomasso!" "Where did you get that scout suit, Tomasso?" "Oh, you, Tommy
boy!"

Tom, stolid and with face all but expressionless, received these
tributes with the faintest suggestion of a smile. "Don't forget to smile
and look pretty!" came from the rear of the assemblage.

As was usual at Temple Camp festivities, the affair began with three
resounding cheers for Uncle Jeb, followed by vociferous appeals for a
speech. Uncle Jeb's speeches were an institution at camp. Slowly
dragging himself to his feet, he sprawled over to the front of the
platform and said in his drawling way:

    "I don't know as thar's anything I got ter say. We've come out t'the
    end of our trail, en' next season I hope we'll see the same faces
    here. You ain't been a bad lot this year. I've seen wuss. I never
    seed a crowd that ate so much. I reckon none uv yer hez got homes
    and yer wuz all starved when yer come.

    "Yer made more noise this season than anything I ever heard outside
    a Arizona cyclone. (Laughter) You've been noisy enough ter make a
    thunder-shower sound like a Indian lullaby. (Roars)

    "If these here honor badges thet Mister Temple is goin' ter hand
    out'll keep yer quiet, I wish thar wuz more uv them. As the feller
    says, speech is silver and silence is gold, so I'm for gold awards
    every time. Onct I asked Buffalo Bill what wuz th' main thing fer a
    scout n' he says _silence_. (Uproarious laughter) So I reckon th'
    best kind uv a boy scout is one that's deaf and dumb, but I ain't
    never seen none at this camp. I guess they don't make that kind.

    "I wish yer all good luck and I congratulate you youngsters that are
    getting awards. If yer all got your just deserts----"

"I get three helpings," came a voice from somewhere in the audience. It
was the voice of Pee-wee Harris. "I get _my_ just desserts!"

Amid tumultuous cheering and laughter, old Uncle Jeb lounged back to his
seat and Mr. John Temple arose.




CHAPTER XXI

THE FULL SALUTE


Great applause greeted Mr. Temple. He said:

    "Gentlemen of our camp staff, visiting scoutmasters, and scouts:

    "A friend of mine connected with the scout organization told me that
    he heard a scout say that Temple Camp without Uncle Jeb would be
    like strawberry short cake without any strawberries. (Great
    applause) I think that most scouts, including our young friend in
    back, would wish three helpings of Uncle Jeb. (Laughter)

    "Coming from the bustling city, as I do, it is refreshing to see
    Uncle Jeb for I have never in all my life seen him in a hurry.
    (Laughter) All scouts can claim Uncle Jeb, he is the universal award
    that every boy scout wears in his heart. (Uproarious applause)

    "Scouts, this is a gala day for me. It beats three helpings of
    dessert----"

"Sometimes we get four," the irrepressible voice shouted.

    "I have been honored by the privilege of coming here to visit you in
    these quiet hills----"

A voice: "Sometimes it isn't so quiet."

    "and to distribute the awards which your young heroes have earned.
    You can all be scouts; you cannot all be heroes. That is well, for
    as the old song says, 'When every one is somebody then no one's
    anybody.' (Laughter)

    "I wonder how many of you scouts who are down for these awards
    realize what the awards mean? They are not simply prizes given for
    feats--or stunts, as you call them. To win a high honor merely as a
    stunt is to win it unfairly. Every step that a scout takes in the
    direction of a coveted honor should be a step in scouting. The Gold
    Cross is given _not_ to one who saves life, but to a _scout_ that
    saves life. Before you can win any honors in this great brotherhood,
    you must first be a scout. And that means that you must have the
    scout qualities.

    "Scouting is no game to be won or lost, like baseball. After all,
    the high award is not for what you _do_ alone, but for what you
    _are_. You are not to use scouting as a means to an end.

    "In trying for a high award a scout is not running a race with other
    scouts. There is no spirit of contest in scouting. To be a hero,
    even that is not enough. One must be a _scout_ hero. He must not use
    the animals and birds and the woods to help in his quest of glory,
    whether it be troop glory or individual glory. He must not ask the
    birds and animals to tell him their secrets simply that he may win a
    piece of silver or gold to hang on his coat. But he must learn to
    be a friend to the birds and animals. For that is true scouting.

    "You will notice that on the scout stationery is printed our good
    motto, _'Do a good turn daily.'_ There is nothing there about high
    awards. Evidently the good turn daily is considered of chief
    importance. Nothing can supersede that. It stands above and apart
    from all awards. Kindness, brotherliness, helpfulness--there is no
    metal precious enough to make a badge for these."

As Mr. Temple turned to take the first award from Mr. Wade the
assemblage broke into wild applause. Perhaps Mr. Warren, sitting among
his disappointed troop, hoped that Mr. Temple's words would be taken to
heart by the absent member. But none of the troop made any comment.

After the distribution of a dozen or so merit badges, Mr. Temple called
out, "Alfred McCord, Elk Patrol, First Bridgeboro, New Jersey Troop."

There was a slight bustle among the Bridgeboro boys to make way for
their little member who started threading his way among the throng, his
thin little face lighted with a nervous smile of utter delight.

"Bully for Alf!" some one called.

"Greetings, Shorty," another shouted.

He stood before Mr. Temple on the platform, trembling all over, and yet
the picture of joy. His big eyes stared with a kind of exaltation. For
once, his hair was smooth, and it made his face seem all the more gaunt
and pale. This was the crucial moment of his life. He stood as straight
as he could, his little spindle legs shaking, but his hand held up in
the full scout salute to Mr. Temple. Oh, but he was proud and happy. If
Hervey Willetts, wherever he was, saw him one brief thrill of pride and
satisfaction must have been his.

"Alfred McCord," said Mr. Temple; "your friends and I greet you as a
scout of the second-class. Let me place on you the symbol of your
achievement."

He stepped forward, just one step. Oh, but he was happy. He stood upon
the platform, but he walked on air. Mr. Temple shook hands with him--Mr.
John Temple, founder of Temple Camp! Yes, sir, Skinny and Mr. John
Temple shook hands. And then the little fellow turned so that the
audience might see his precious badge. And the wrinkles at the ends of
his thin little mouth showed very clearly as he smiled--oh, such a
smile.

Then the scouts of Temple Camp showed that their wonted disregard of
Skinny was only because they did not understand him, queer little imp
that he was. For cheer after cheer arose as he stood there in a kind of
bewilderment of joy.

"Hurrah, for the star tracker!"

"Three cheers for the sleuth of the forest!"

"No more tenderfoot!"

"Hurrah for S-S-S!" Which meant Skinny, second-class scout.

"I congratulate you, Alfred," said Mr. Temple, pleased at the ovation.
"You have the eyes that see, and this feat of tracking which I have
heard of is a fitting climax to all your efforts to win your goal--to
finish what you began. Let every tenderfoot follow your example. And may
the scouts of the second-class welcome you with pride."

Skinny saw Mr. Temple's hand raised, saw the fingers formed to make the
familiar scout salute--the _full_ salute. The full salute for him! He
saw this and yet he did not see it; he saw it in a kind of daze.

Then he went down and stepped upon the earth again and made his way back
to his seat. Those who saw him thought that he was walking, but he was
not walking, he was floating on wings. And the noise about and the big
trees in back, and the faces that smiled at him as he passed, were as
things seen and heard in a dream....




CHAPTER XXII

TOM RUNS THE SHOW


"William Conway, Anson Jenks, and George Winters, for Star Scout badge,
and Merritt Roth and Edward Collins for bronze life saving medals. These
scouts will please step forward."

Amid great applause they made their way to the platform and one by one
returned, greeted with cheers.

"Gaynor Morrison of Edgemere Troop, Connecticut, is awarded the Gold
Cross for saving life at imminent hazard of his own. Congratulations to
him but more to his troop. Scout Morrison will please come forward."

That was the moment of pride for Edgemere Troop, Connecticut. Gaynor
Morrison, tall and muscular, stood before Mr. Temple and listened to
such plaudits as one seldom hears in his own honor. He went down
overjoyed and blushing scarlet.

"And now," said Mr. Temple, "the last award is properly not an
organization award at all. It is the Temple Camp medal for order and
cleanliness in and about troop cabins. It is awarded to Willis Norton of
the Second Oakdale, New Jersey, Troop. And that, I think, concludes this
pleasant task of distributing honors. I think you will all be glad to
know that one who is a stranger to no honor wishes himself to say a few
words to you now. Whatever Tom Slade may have to say goes with me----"

He could not say more. Cries of "Bully old Tom!" "Hurrah for Tomasso!"
"What's the matter with old Hickory Nut?" "Oh, you, Tom Slade," "Spooch,
spooch!" "Hear, hear!" arose from every corner of the assemblage and the
cries were drowned in a very tempest of applause.

[Illustration: MR. TEMPLE CONGRATULATES HERVEY WILLETTS.

_Tom Slade on Mystery Trail. Page_ 124]

He never looked more stolid, nor his face more expressionless than when
he arose from his chair. He was neither embarrassed nor elated. If he
was at all swayed by the sudden tribute, it was as an oak tree might be
swayed in a summer breeze. He knew what he wanted to say and he was
going to say it. He waited, he _had_ to wait, for at least five minutes,
till Temple Camp had had its say.

Then he said, slowly, deliberately, with a kind of mixture of clumsiness
and assurance which was characteristic of him.

    "Maybe I haven't got any right to speak. I'm not on the staff, and
    as you might say, I'm through being a scout----"

"Never, Tomasso!" said a voice.

    "But I saw something that none of you saw and I know something that
    none of you know about--except Mr. Temple, that I told it to, and
    the trustees.

    "Since I been assistant to Uncle Jeb--that's two years--I saw the
    Eagle award given out twice----"

"You won it yourself, Tomasso!"

    "I saw it given to a scout from Virginia and one from New York. You
    always hear a lot of talk about the Eagle award here in camp. Lots
    of scouts start out big and don't get away with it. I guess
    everybody knows it isn't easy. If you're an Eagle Scout you're
    everything else. You got to be.

    "I've seen scouts get it. But in the last couple of days I saw one
    chuck it in the dirt and trample on it. That's because when a fellow
    gets so far that he's really an Eagle Scout, he doesn't care so
    much about it. A fellow's got to be a scout to win the Eagle badge.
    And if he's enough of a scout for that, he's enough of a scout to
    give it up if there's any reason. What does _he_ care? If he's scout
    enough to be an Eagle Scout, and gives it up, he doesn't even bother
    to tell anybody. Being willing to give it up is part of winning it,
    as you might say.

    "Maybe you people didn't know who you were cheering when you cheered
    Alfred McCord. But I'll tell you who you were cheering. You were
    cheering the only Eagle Scout in Temple Camp. And he doesn't care
    any more about the Eagle badge than he does about what every little
    tin scout in his own troop thinks of him, either. And I'm standing
    here to tell you that. I saw that scout give up one badge and win
    another at the same time. I saw him lose the stalking badge and win
    the animal first aid badge all inside of an hour. He thought he lost
    out by giving up his tracks to Alfred McCord, when he might have
    scared the life out of the little fellow and chased him back to
    camp.

    "But all the time he had an extra badge and he didn't know it.
    That's because he doesn't bother about the handbook and because he
    wins badges so fast he can't keep track of them. He's an Eagle Scout
    and he doesn't know it. He threw one badge away and caught another
    and he's coming up here now to stand still for two minutes if he can
    and listen to the paper that Mr. Temple is going to read to him.
    Come ahead up, Hervey Willetts, or I'll come down there and pull you
    out of that tree and drag you up by the collar!"




CHAPTER XXIII

PEE-WEE SETTLES IT


For half a minute there was no response, and the people, somewhat
bewildered, stared here and there, applauding fitfully.

"Come ahead, I know where you are," Tom pronounced grimly; "I'll give
you ten seconds."

The victim knew that voice; perhaps it was the only voice at camp which
he would have obeyed. There was the sound of a cracking branch, followed
by a frightened cry of "Look out!" Some one called, "He'll kill
himself!" Then a rustling of leaves was heard, and down out of the tree
he came and scrambled to his feet, amid cries of astonishment, Hervey
Willetts was running true to form and the moment of his triumph was
celebrated by a new stunt.

"Never mind brushing off your clothes," said Tom grimly; "come up just
the way you are."

But he did not go up the steps, not he. He vaulted up onto the platform
and stood there brushing the dirt from his torn khaki suit. The crowd,
knowing but yet only half the story of his triumph, was attracted by his
vagabond appearance, and his sprightly air. The rent in his sleeve, his
disheveled hair, and even the gaping hole in his stocking seemed to be a
part of him, and to bespeak his happy-go-lucky nature. As he stood there
amid a shower of impulsive applause, he stooped and hoisted up one
stocking which seemed in danger of making complete descent, and that was
too much for the crowd.

Even Mr. Temple smiled as he said, "Come over here, my young friend, and
let me congratulate the only Eagle Scout at Temple Camp."

And so it befell that Hervey Willetts found himself clasping in cordial
grip the friendly hand of Mr. John Temple with one hand while he still
hauled up his rebellious stocking with the other. It was a sight to
delight the heart of a movie camera man. His stocking was apparently the
only thing that Hervey could not triumph over.

"My boy," said Mr. Temple, "it appears that we know more about you than
you know about yourself. It appears that your memory and your handbook
study have not kept pace with your sprightly legs and arms----"

"How about his dirty face?" some one called.

"And his stocking?" another shouted.

"These are the honorable scars of war," Mr. Temple said, "and I think I
prefer his face as it is. I think we shall have to take Hervey Willetts
as we find him, and be satisfied.

"Hervey Willetts," he continued, "you stand here to-day the easy winner
of the greatest honor it has ever been my pleasure to confer. Stand up,
my boy, and never mind your stocking. (Laughter.) You have won the Eagle
award, and you have made your triumph beautiful and unique by working
into it one of the best good turns in all the history of scouting. I
doubt whether a youngster of your temperament can ever really appreciate
what you have done. But of course you could not escape Tom Slade--no one
could. He has your number, as boys say----"

"Bully for Tom Slade!" a voice called.

"What's the matter with Tomasso?"

"Hurrah for old Sherlock Nobody Holmes!"

"Oh, you, Tommy!"

"Tag, you're it, Hervey!"

"I have here a paper procured by Tom Slade," Mr. Temple continued, "and
bearing the signatures of three scouts--John Weston, Harry Bonner and
George Wentworth. These scouts testify that they were in Catskill
village drinking soda water----"

"That's all they ever go there for," a voice shouted.

"They saw Hervey Willetts stop a runaway horse, saw him unfasten the
harness of the animal when it fell, frightened and exhausted, and saw
him procure and pour cool water on the animal's head. This was never
reported in camp till Tom Slade made inquiries. Hervey Willetts had
neglected to report it."

"He's a punk scout," some one called.

"I have here also," Mr. Temple continued, "the testimony of Tom Slade
himself that Hervey Willetts climbed a tree and in a daring manner saved
a bird and its nest from the ruthless assault of an eagle. That bird's
nest, with its little occupant, hangs now in the elm tree at the corner
of the pavilion." (Great applause.)

"Thus Hervey Willetts won the animal first aid badge without so much as
knowing it. (Applause.) He had won twenty-one merit badges and he did
not know it. (Great applause.) He was then and there an Eagle Scout and
he did not know it. (Deafening cheers.) But Tom Slade knew it and said
nothing----"

"Thomas the Silent," some irreverent voice called.

"So you see, my friends, it really made no difference whether our young
hero tracked an animal or not. He was an Eagle Scout. He could go no
higher. He had reached the pinnacle--no, not quite that. To his triumph
he must add the glory of a noble, unselfish deed. Never knowing that the
coveted honor was already his, he set out to win it by a tracking stunt
which would fulfill the third requirement to bring him the stalking
badge, and with it the Eagle award. He had said that nothing would stand
in his way, not even mountains. He had made this boast to Tom Slade.

"And that boast he failed to make good. Something _did_ stand in his
way. Not a mountain. Just a little tenderfoot scout. You have seen him
up here. Alfred McCord is his name. (Applause.)

"And when Hervey Willetts found this little scout hot upon the trail, he
forgot about the Eagle award, forgot about his near triumph, braved the
anger and disappointment of his friends and comrades----"

The troop of which Hervey was a member arose in a sudden, impetuous
burst of cheering, but Mr. Temple cut them short.

"Just a moment and then you may have your way. Hervey Willetts cared no
more about the opinion of you scouts than this big oak tree over my head
cares about the summer breeze. There were two trails there, one visible,
the other invisible. One on the ground, the other in his heart. And
Hervey Willetts was a scout and he hit the right trail. If it were not
for our young assistant camp manager here, Hervey Willetts would this
minute be witnessing these festivities from yonder tree, and little
would he have cared, I think.

"But he reckoned without his host, as they say, when he sought the aid
of Tom Slade. (Deafening applause.) Tom Slade knew him even if he did
not know himself.

"My friends, many scouts have sought the Eagle award and a few have won
it. But the Eagle award now seeks Hervey Willetts. He threw it aside but
still it comes to him and asks for acceptance. He deserves something
better, but there is nothing better which we have to give. For there is
no badge for a noble good turn. Tom Slade was right."

"You said something!" some one shouted.

"To be enough of a scout to win the Eagle award is much. To be scout
enough to ignore it is more. But twenty-one badges is twenty-one badges,
and the animal first aid badge is as good as any other. The technical
question of whether a bird is an animal----"

"Sure a bird's an animal!" called a voice from a far corner which
sounded suspiciously like the voice of Pee-wee Harris. "Everybody's an
animal--even I'm an animal--even you're an animal--sure a bird's an
animal! That's not a teckinality! Sure a bird's an animal!"

"Well, then, that settles it," laughed Mr. Temple amid a very tempest
of laughter, "if that is Mr. Harris of my own home town speaking, we
have the opinion of the highest legal expert on scouting----"

"And eating!" came a voice.

Thus, amid an uproarious medley of laughter and applause, and of
cheering which echoed from the darkening hills across the quiet lake,
Hervey Willetts stood erect while Mr. John Temple, founder of the camp
and famous in scouting circles the world over, placed upon his jacket
the badge which made him an Eagle Scout and incidentally brought him the
canoe on which so many eyes had gazed longingly.

And then one after another, pell-mell, scouts clambered onto the
platform and surrounded him, while the scouts of his own troop edged
them aside and elbowed their way to where he stood and mobbed him. And
amid all this a small form, with clothing disarranged from close
contact, but intent upon his purpose, squirmed and wriggled in and threw
his little skinny arms around the hero's waist.

"Will you--will you take me out in it?" he asked. "Just once--will
you?"

"The canoe?" Hervey said. "You'll have to ask my troop, Alf, old top; it
belongs to them. What would a happy-go-lucky nut like I am be doing,
paddling around in a swell canoe like that?"

"Let me--let me see the badge," little Skinny insisted.

But already Hervey had handed the badge over to his troop. Probably he
thought that it would interfere with his climbing trees or perhaps fall
off when he was hanging upside down from some treacherous limb or
scrambling head foremost down some dizzy cliff. No doubt it would be
more or less in the way during his stuntful career....




CHAPTER XXIV

THE RED STREAK


There was one resident at Temple Camp who did not attend that memorable
meeting by reason of being sound asleep at the time. This was Orestes,
the oriole, who had had such a narrow squeak of it up at the foot of the
mountain. Orestes always went to bed early and got up early, being in
all ways a model scout.

It is true that just at the moment when the cheering became tumultuous,
Orestes shook out her feathers and peered out of the little door of her
hanging nest but, seeing no near-by peril, settled down again to sweet
slumber, never dreaming that the cheering was in honor of her scout
rescuer.

The housing problem did not trouble Orestes much. One tree was as good
as another so long as her architectural handiwork was not desecrated,
and having once satisfied herself that her little home still depended
from the very branch which she had chosen, she did not inquire too
particularly into the facts of that magic transfer. The branch rested
across two other branches and Orestes was satisfied.

That was a happy thought of Tom's to call the oriole Orestes, which
means dweller in the woods, but thanks to Hervey the name became
corrupted in camp talk, and the nickname of Asbestos caught the
community and became instantly popular.

The shady area under Asbestos' tree was already a favorite lounging
place for scouts, and lying on their backs with knees drawn up (a
favorite attitude of lounging) they could see that mysterious little red
streak in their little friend's nest. In the late afternoon, which was
ever the time of sprawling, the sun had a way of poking one of his rays
right down through the dense foliage plunk on Asbestos' nest, and then
the little red streak shone like Brick Warner's red hair after he had
been diving. But no one ventured up to that little home to investigate
that freakish streak of color.

"I'd like to know what that is?" Pee-wee Harris observed as he lay on
his back, peering up among the branches.

Half a dozen scouts, including Roy Blakeley and Hervey Willetts, were
sprawling under the tree waiting for supper, on the second afternoon
after Hervey's triumph. Waiting for supper was the favorite outdoor
sport at Temple Camp. Orestes was already tucked away in bed, having
dined early on three grasshoppers and an angleworm for dessert.

"That's easy," said Roy Blakeley; "Asbestos is a red--she's an
anarchist. We ought to notify the government."

"Asbestos is an I.W.W. He ought to be deported," Hervey said.

"He's a _she_," Pee-wee said.

"Just the same I'd like to know what that red streak really does mean,"
Roy confessed.

"It's better than a yellow streak anyway," Hervey laughed; "maybe it's
her patrol color."

"That's a funny thing about an oriole," another scout observed; "an
oriole picks up everything it sees, string and ribbon and everything
like that, and weaves it into its nest."

"They should worry about building material," Roy said.

"I read about one that got hold of a piece of tape and weaved it in,"
said the scout who had volunteered the information. "Maybe that's tape."

"Sure, she ought to work for the government, there's so much red tape
about her," Roy observed.

"It's the color of cinnamon taffy," Pee-wee said.

"There you go on eats again," Roy retorted; "it's the color of pie."

"What kind of pie?" Pee-wee asked.

"Any kind," Roy said; "take your pick."

"You're crazy," Pee-wee retorted.

Their idle banter was interrupted by Westy Martin of Roy's and Pee-wee's
troop who paused at the tree as they returned from the village. Westy
was waving a newspaper triumphantly.

"What do you know about this?" he said, opening the paper so that the
scouts could see a certain heading.

"Oh, me, oh, my!" Roy said. "Isn't Temple Camp getting famous? Talk
about _red!_ Oh, boy, watch Hervey's beautiful complexion when he hears
this. He'll have cinnamon taffy beat a mile."

Willy-nilly, Roy snatched the news sheet from Westy and read:

    TEMPLE CAMP HAS NEW HERO

    Yesterday was a gala day up at the scout camp. More than five
    hundred people from hereabouts, as well as the whole population of
    the famous scout community, cheered themselves hoarse when Mr. John
    Temple, founder of the big camp, distributed the awards for the
    season.

    For the first time in four years Temple Camp produced an Eagle Scout
    in Hervey Willetts of a Massachusetts troop who won the award under
    circumstances reflecting unusual credit on himself and bringing
    honor to his troop comrades. Mr. Temple's remarks to this young hero
    were flattening in the last degree----

"You mean flattering," Pee-wee shouted.

"Excuse myself," said Roy.

     and it was decided to give Hervey the award, because Scout Harris
     proved excruciatingly--I mean exclusively--I mean
     conclusively--that a bird is an animal just the same as Mr. Temple
     is, only different----

"Let me see that!" shouted Pee-wee. "You make me sick! Where is it?"

"Here's something to interest you more," Roy said; "here's the real
stuff--a kidnapping. A kid was taking a nap and got kidded."

"Where?" Pee-wee demanded.

"There," Roy said, pointing triumphantly to a heading which put the
Temple Camp notice in the shade. "Just read that."

But for that sensational article, doubtless Hervey would have been more
of a newspaper hero instead of being stuck down in a corner. The article
was indeed one to arouse interest and call for big headings, and the
scouts, gathered about Roy, peered over his shoulders and read it
eagerly.

    MILLIONAIRE HARRINGTON'S SON KIDNAPPED

    ALARM SENT OUT FOR CHILD MISSING MORE THAN WEEK

    TRAIN HAND GIVES CLEW

    Police authorities throughout the country have been asked to search
    for Anthony Harrington, Jr., the little son of Anthony Harrington,
    banker, of New York. The child, aged about ten, disappeared about a
    week ago and since then an exhaustive search privately made has
    failed to yield any clew of the little fellow's whereabouts.

    When last seen the child was playing on the lawn of his father's
    beautiful estate at Irvington-on-Hudson on Friday a week ago. From
    that time no trace of him has been discovered.

    The only bit of information suggesting a possible clew comes from
    Walter Hanlon, a trainman who told the authorities yesterday that on
    an afternoon about a week ago his attention was drawn to a child
    accompanied by two men leaving his train at Catskill Landing.
    Hanlon's train was northbound. He reported what he had seen as soon
    as the public alarm was given.

    Hanlon said that he noticed the child, a boy, as he helped the
    little fellow down the car steps, because of an open jack-knife
    which the youngster carried, and which he good-naturedly advised him
    to close before he stumbled with it. To the best of Hanlon's
    recollection the little fellow wore a mackinaw jacket, but he did
    not notice this in particular. It is known that the child wore a
    sweater when he disappeared.

    Hanlon paid no attention to the child's companions and his
    recollection of their appearance is hazy. He says that the three
    disappeared in the crowd and he thought they joined the throng which
    was waiting for the northbound boat of the Hudson River Day Line. If
    such was the case, the authorities believe that the party left the
    train and continued northward by boat in hopes of baffling the
    authorities.

    One circumstance which lends considerable color to Hanlon's
    statement is the positive assurance of the child's parents that
    their son had no jack-knife of any description. This, therefore, may
    mean that the child was not the Harrington child at all, or on the
    other hand, it may mean, what seams likely, that the men gave the
    little fellow a jack-knife as a bribe to accompany them. Hanlon
    thinks that the knife was new, and is sure that the child was very
    proud of it.

So much of this sensational article was in conspicuous type. The rest,
in regulation type, pertained to the unsuccessful search for the child
by private means. A couple of ponds had been dragged, the numerous acres
of the fine estate had been searched inch by inch, barns and haystacks
and garages and smokehouses had been ransacked, an old disused well had
been explored, the neighboring woodland had been covered, but little
Anthony Harrington, Jr., had disappeared as completely as if he had gone
up in the clouds.

"You fellows had better be getting ready for supper," said Tom Slade, as
he passed.

"Look here, Tomasso," said Roy.

Tom paused, half interested, and read the article without comment.

"Some excitement, hey?" said Roy.

"It's a wonder they didn't mention the color of the sweater while they
were about it," Tom said.

"The kid had on a mackinaw jacket," Roy shot back.

"How do we know what was under the mackinaw jacket?" Tom said. "Come on,
you fellows, and get washed up for grub."

"Mm-mmm," said Pee-wee Harris.




CHAPTER XXV

THE PATH OF GLORY


The affair of the kidnapping created quite a sensation at camp, partly,
no doubt, because stories of missing people always arouse the interest
of scouts, but chiefly perhaps because the thing was brought so close to
them.

Catskill Landing was the station for Temple Camp. It was there that
arriving troops alighted from boat or train. It was the frequent
destination of their hikes. It was there that they bought sodas and ice
cream cones. Scouts from "up ter camp" were familiar sights at Catskill,
and they overran the village in the summertime.

Of course it was only by reason of trainman Hanlon's doubtful clew that
the village figured at all in the sensational affair. At all events if
the Harrington child and its desperate companions had actually alighted
there, all trace of them was lost at that point.

The next morning after the newspaper accounts were published a group of
scouts hiked down to Catskill to look over the ground, hoping to root
out some information or discover some fresh clew. They wound up in
Warner's Drug Store and had a round of ice cream sodas and that was all
the good their sleuthing did them.

On the way back they propounded various ingenious theories of the escape
and whereabouts of Master Harrington's captors. Pee-wee Harris suggested
that they probably waited somewhere till dark and proceeded to parts
unknown in an airplane. A more plausible inspiration was that they had
crossed the Hudson in a boat in order to baffle the authorities and
proceeded either southward to New York or northward on a New York
Central train.

The likeliest theory was that of Westy Martin of Roy's troop, that an
automobile with confederates had waited for the party at Catskill. That
would insure privacy for the balance of the journey.

The theory of one scout that the party had gone aboard a cabin cruiser
was tenable, and this means of hiding and confounding the searchers,
seemed likely to succeed. The general opinion was that ere long the
child would be forthcoming in response to a stupendous ransom. But this
means of recovering the little fellow did not appeal to the scouts.

Perhaps if Tom Slade, alias Sherlock Nobody Holmes, had accompanied the
group down to the riverside village, he would have learned or discovered
something which they missed. But Sherlock Nobody Holmes had other
business on hand that morning.

"Do you want to see it? Do you want to see it?" little Skinny had asked
him. "Do you want to see those tracks I found? Do you want to see me
follow them again? Do you want to see how I did it--do you?" And Tom had
given Skinny to understand that it was the dream of his life to see
those famous tracks, which had proved a path of glory to the golden
gates which opened into the exalted second-class of scouting.

"I'll show them to you! I'll show them to you!" Skinny had said eagerly.
"I'll show you where I began. Maybe if we wait till it rains they'll
get not to be there any more maybe."

So Tom went with him to the rock close by the lake shore where the path
to glory began, and starting here, they followed the tracks, now
becoming somewhat obscure, up into the woods.

"Before I started I made sure," Skinny panted, as he trotted proudly
along beside his famous companion. "The scouts they said you'd be too
busy to go with me, they did. But you ain't, are you?"

"That's what," said Tom.

"I bet you don't shake all over when Mr. Temple speaks to you, do you?"

"Not so you'd notice it."

"I bet he's got as much as a hundred dollars, hasn't he?"

"You said it."

"Maybe if I wasn't a-scared I'd ask him to look at the tracks too, hey?
First off I was a-scared to ask _you?_"

"Tracks are my middle name, Alf."

"Now I can prove I'm a second-class scout by my badge, can't I?"

"That's what you can. But you've got it pinned on the wrong side, Alf.
Here, let me fix it for you."

"Everybody'll be sure to see it, won't they?"

"That's what they will."

"Hervey Willetts, he's a hero, isn't he?"

"You bet."

"I'd like to be like him, I would."

"He's kind of reckless, Alf. It's bad to be too reckless."

"I wouldn't let you talk against him--I wouldn't."

Tom smiled. "That's right, Alf, you stand up for him."

"Maybe you don't know what kind of an animal made these tracks, maybe,
hey?"

Indeed Tom did not know. But one thing he knew which amused him greatly.
They were following the path of glory the wrong way. Not that it made
any particular difference, but it seemed so like Skinny. He had not
actually tracked an animal at all, since the animal had come toward the
lake. He had followed tracks, to be sure, but he had not tracked an
animal. Hervey must have known this but he had not mentioned it. The
thought thrilled even stolid Tom with fresh admiration for that young
adventurer. Hervey Willetts was no handbook scout, but Tom would not
have him different than he was--no, not by a hair. He thought how
Skinny's beginning at the wrong end was like his pinning of the badge on
the wrong side of his breast. Poor little Skinny....

And he thought of that other scout coming down through those woods,
tracking that mysterious animal indeed, and stopping short, and sitting
down on a log and throwing away his triumph like chaff before the wind.
Then there arose in his mind the picture of that bright-eyed,
irresponsible youngster with his hat cocked sideways on his head, off
upon some new adventure or bent on some new stunt. Not a very good scout
delegate perhaps, but the bulliest scout that ever tore a gaping hole in
his stocking....

Tom was aroused from his meditation by Skinny's eager voice. "Here's the
log where he talked to me," he said; "here's just the very same place we
sat down and he said he'd be my witness. He said I was old top, that's
what he called me."

"Old top, hey?" said Tom, smiling.




CHAPTER XXVI

MYSTERIOUS MARKS


Before reaching the log, Tom's interest had been chiefly in his queer
little companion. The tracks puzzled him somewhat, but since they had
already served their purpose and were in process of obliteration he paid
little attention to them. In his more ambitious rambles during late fall
and winter, he had run across too many tracks of deer and bear and
wildcat to become excited by these signs of some humbler creature of the
woods.

But on reaching that scene of Skinny's memorable meeting with Hervey
Willetts, Tom's keenest interest was aroused by something which he saw
there, and which both of the others characteristically had failed to
notice. Skinny, enthralled by his vision of the coveted badge, had been
in no state for minute exploration, and as for Hervey, these things
were quite out of his line. Besides, his sudden impulse of generosity
toward Skinny would have been quite sufficient (as we know it was) to
cause him to forget all else.

But Tom was as observant and methodical, as Hervey was erratic, and as
he paused to rest upon the log, he noticed how it lay directly across
the path of the tracks. Thus the track line was broken for a couple of
feet or so by this obstacle.

Supposing that the creature which had passed here had clambered over the
log, Tom's scouting instinct was aroused to examine the rough bark
carefully for any little tuft of hair which the animal might have left.
And not finding any, he was puzzled. For by its tracks the creature must
have been very small, certainly too small to have stepped, and not at
all likely to have jumped over the log. If then it had clambered over
the log it seemed remarkable that it had left no trace, not even a
single hair, upon that rough surface.

Tom knew that this was unusual. He knew that old Uncle Jeb would laugh
at him if he went back and said that some small creature had crawled
over that nutmeg grater and left no sign of its crossing. He knew that
no animal could graze a tree in its flight but old Uncle Jeb would find
there some tell-tale souvenir of its passing.

Tom's interest was keenly aroused now. He was baffled and a little
chagrined. But no supplementary inspection revealed so much as a single
hair.

Thus confounded, he examined the tracks more carefully. He followed them
up to where they emerged from the lower reaches of the mountain. Then he
followed them back, aided where they were dim by the deeper prints of
Hervey's shoes. Skinny sat upon the log waiting for him.

On the side of the log nearest the mountain the tracks turned and went
sideways along the log for perhaps a yard to a point where the log was
low and somewhat broken. Here, evidently, was where the animal had
crossed. It must have been a very small animal, Tom thought, to have
sought an easy place for crossing.

Having thus determined the exact place of crossing, Tom concentrated his
attention on this spot, examining the bark systematically, inch by inch.
But no vestige of a clew rewarded his microscopic scrutiny. He was
baffled and his curiosity and determination rose in proportion to the
difficulties. His big mouth was set tight, a menacing frown clouded his
countenance, so that instinctively little Skinny refrained from speaking
to him.

Tracing the apparent line of the animal's crossing over the log, Tom
scrutinized the prints on the other side, that is, the side nearest
camp. Here the prints were very clear by reason of the crust of mud
caused by the dampness usually found near logs and fallen trees. Marks
on this showed like marks on hard butter.

Suddenly Tom's attention was riveted by something directly under the
apparent line of crossing, something which he had never seen the like of
in all his woodland adventures since he had become a scout. What he saw
looked singularly out of place there. Yet there it was printed in the
hard crust of mud, and as clear as writing on a slate. No human
footprint was near it. If a human being had made those marks that human
being must have reached from the log to do it. And the printing was
almost too nice for that.

Utterly dismayed, Tom looked again for human footprints but the nearest
were those of Hervey on the other side of the log, some ten or a dozen
feet beyond.

"Did either of you fellows do that?" Tom asked, pointing.

"Does--does it mean I can't have the badge?" Skinny asked, apprehensive
of Tom's mood.

"Did either of you fellows do that?"

"N-no," Skinny answered timidly.

"Have you brought any one else up here?"

"Honest--I ain't."

"Well then," said Tom, with a kind of grim finality, "either some one
else who didn't have any feet has been here or else that animal knows
how to write. Look there."

Skinny obediently looked again. There below the log and close to the
tracks were printed as clear as day the letters H. T. They were about
two inches in size.

"Take your choice," said Tom with a kind of baffled conclusiveness which
greatly impressed his little companion. _"Either those letters were
printed there by some one who didn't have any feet, or else the animal
knew how to write. Either one or the other. It's got me guessing."_




CHAPTER XXVII

THE GREATER MYSTERY


Since there was no solution of this singular puzzle, Tom did not let it
continue to trouble him. He was too busy with his duties incidental to
the closing season to concern himself with mysteries which were not
likely to reveal anything of value. The kidnapping was a serious affair,
and the curious discovery which he had made in the woods was soon
relegated to the back of his mind by this, which was now the talk of the
camp, and by his increasingly pressing labors.

[Illustration: "DID EITHER OF YOU FELLOWS DO THAT?" TOM ASKED.

_Tom Slade on Mystery Trail. Page_ 151]

Moreover he believed that some scout or other had visited this now
memorable spot and marked his initials on the mud, squatting on the log
the while. To be sure, the absence of footprints close by, save those
easily recognizable as Skinny's, was perplexing, but since there was
no other explanation, Tom accepted the one which seemed not wholly
unlikely. At all events, what other explanation was there?

For an hour or more that same night Tom lay under Asbestos' elm
pondering on his singular discovery. Then realizing that his duties were
many and various, he put this matter out of his head altogether and went
to work in the morning at the strenuous work of lowering and rolling up
tents.

The papers which the boys brought up from Catskill that afternoon were
full of the kidnapping. Master Harrington's distracted mother was under
the care of a dozen or so specialists, six or eight servants had been
discharged for neglect, Mr. Harrington offered a reward of five thousand
dollars, somebody had seen the child in Detroit, another had seen him in
Canada, another had seen him at a movie show, another had heard
heart-rending cries in some marsh or other, and so on and so on.

In New York "an arrest was shortly expected," but it didn't arrive. The
detectives were "saying nothing" and apparently doing nothing. Master
Anthony Harrington's picture was displayed on movie screens the country
over.

But out of all this hodge-podge of cooked up news and irresponsible
hints there remained just the one plausible clew to hang any hopes on
and that was trainman Hanlon's recollection of seeing a child in a
mackinaw jacket and carrying a jack-knife in the company of two men who
alighted from a northbound train at Catskill, within ten miles of Temple
Camp.

One other item of news interested the camp community, and that was that
boy scouts throughout the country had been asked to search for the
missing child.

Meanwhile, the kidnappers sat tight, expecting no doubt that their
demands for a large ransom would be more fruitful after the chances of
legitimate rescue had been exhausted. The great fortune of Anthony
Harrington of Wall Street was quite useless until a couple of ruffians
chose to say the word. And meanwhile, Master Anthony, Jr., might be
hacking himself all to pieces with a horrible jack-knife.

It was just when matters were at that stage that Pee-wee Harris, Elk
Patrol, First Bridgeboro Troop, went in swimming for the last time that
summer in the cooling water of Black Lake. He gave a terrific cry,
jumped on the springboard, howled for everybody to look, turned two
complete somersaults and went kerplunk into the water with a mighty
splash.




CHAPTER XXVIII

WATCHFUL WAITING


In a minute he came up sputtering and shouting.

"What's that? A hunk of candy?" a scout sitting on the springboard
called. For Pee-wee seldom returned from any adventure empty handed.

"A tu-shh-sphh----" Scout Harris answered.

"A which?"

"A turtshplsh--can't you hearshsph?"

"A what?"

"A turtlsh."

"A turtle?"

"Cantshunderstand Englsphish?"

He dragged himself up on the springboard dripping and spluttering, and
clutching this latest memento of his submarine explorations.

"It's a turtle--t-u-r-t-e-l--I mean l-e--can't you understand English?"
Pee-wee demanded as soon as the water was out of his mouth and nose.

"Not submarine English," his companion retorted. "You can't keep your
mouth shut even under water."

It was indeed a turtle, which had already adopted tactics for a
prolonged siege, its head, tail and four little stubby legs being drawn
quite within its shell. Nor was it tempted out of this posture of
defense when Pee-wee hurled it at Tom Slade who was standing near the
mooring float, watching the diving.

"There's a souvenir for you, Tomasso," Pee-wee called.

Tom caught the turtle and was about to hurl it at another scout who
stood a few yards distant, when he noticed something carved on the upper
surface of the turtle's shell. He pulled up a tuft of grass, rubbing the
shell to clean it, and as he did so, the carving came out clearly,
showing the letters T. H.

The scout who had been ready to catch the missile now stepped over to
look at it, and in ten seconds a dozen scouts were crowding around Tom
and craning their necks over his shoulders.

"Somebody's initials," Tom said without any suggestion of excitement.

"Maybe--maybe it was that kid who was kidnapped," Pee-wee vociferated.

"Only his initials are A. H.," Tom answered dully.

"No sooner said than stung," piped up one of the scouts.

"What'll we do with him? Keep him?" asked another.

"What good is he?" Tom said, apparently on the point of scaling the
turtle into the lake. "Some scout or other cut his initials here, that's
all. I don't see any use in keeping him; he isn't so very sociable."

"Lots of times you crawl in your shell and aren't so sociable, either,"
Pee-wee shot back at him. "I say let's keep him for a souvenir."

"We'll have a regular Bronx Park Zoo here pretty soon," a scout said.
"We'll have to give him a name just like Asbestos."

Tom set the turtle on the ground and everybody waited silently. But the
turtle was not to be beguiled out of his stronghold by any such
strategy. He remained as motionless as a stone. Pee-wee gave him a
little poke with his foot but to no avail. They turned him around,
setting him this way and that, they tried to pry his tail out but it
went back like a spring.

They moved him a few yards distant in hopes that the change of scene
might make him more sociable. But he showed no more sign of life than a
fossil would have shown. So again they all waited. And they waited and
waited and waited. They spoke in whispers and went on waiting.

But after a while this policy of watchful waiting became tiresome.
Apparently the turtle was ready to withstand this siege for years if
necessary. Disgustedly, one scout after another went away, and others
came. Tempting morsels of food were placed in front of the turtle, in a
bee line with his head.

"Gee whiz, if he doesn't care for food what _does_ he care for?" Pee-wee
observed, knowing the influence of food.

That settled it so far as he was concerned, and he went away, saying
that the turtle was not human, or else that he was dead. Others, more
patient, stood about, waiting. And all the famed ingenuity of scouts
was exhausted to beguile or to drive the turtle out of his stronghold.
At one time as many as twenty scouts surrounded him, with sticks, with
food, and Scouty, the camp dog, came down and danced around and made a
great fuss and went away thoroughly disgusted.

The turtle was master of the situation.




CHAPTER XXIX

THE WANDERING MINSTREL


With one exception the most patient scout at Temple Camp was Westy
Martin of the interesting Bridgeboro, New Jersey, Troop. He could sit
huddled up in a bush for an hour studying a bird. He could sit and fish
for hours without catching anything. But the turtle was too much for
him.

"We ought to name that guy Llewellyn," he commented, as he strolled
away; "that means _lightning_, according to some book or other. There
was an old Marathon racer a couple of million years ago named
Llewellyn."

"That's a good name for him," Tom admitted.

"You going to hang around, Slady?"

"I'm going to fight it out on these lines if it takes all summer," Tom
said.

Thus the two most patient, stubborn living things in all the world were
left alone together--the turtle and Tom Slade.

Tom sat on a rock and the turtle sat on the ground. Tom did not budge.
Neither did the turtle. The turtle was facing up toward the camp and
away from the lake. Tom rested his chin in his hands, studying the
initials on the turtle's shell. If they had been A. H. instead of T. H.
they would indeed have been the very initials of Master Anthony
Harrington, Jr. But a miss is as good as a mile, thought Tom, and T. H.
is no more like A. H. than it is like Z. Q.

This train of thought naturally recalled to his mind the letters he had
seen imprinted in the mud up in the woods. But those letters were H. T.
and there was therefore no connection between these three sets of
letters.

Tom knew well enough the habit of the Temple Camp scouts of carving
their initials everywhere. The rough bench where they waited for the
mail wagon to come along was covered with initials. And among them Tom
recalled a certain sprightly tenderfoot, Theodore Howell by name, who
had been at camp early that same season. Doubtless this artistic
triumph on the bulging back of Llewellyn was the handiwork of that same
tenderfoot.

And likely enough, too, those letters up in the woods were the initials
of Harry Thorne, still at camp. Tom would ask Harry about that. And at
the same time he would remind some of these carvers in wood and clay not
to leave any artistic memorials on the camp woodwork. It was part of
Tom's work to look after matters of that kind. About the only conclusion
he reached from these two disconnected sets of initials was that he
would have an eye out for specialists in carving....

But Tom's authority was as naught when it came to Llewellyn. The turtle
cared not for the young camp assistant. He sat upon the ground
motionless as a rock, apparently dead to the world.

Tom had now no more interest in the turtle than a kind of sporting
instinct not to be beaten. He could sit upon the rock as long as his
adversary could sit upon the ground. In a moment of exasperation he had
been upon the point of hurling the turtle into the lake, but had
refrained, and now he was reconciled to a vigil which should last all
night.

Llewellyn had met his match.

For fifty-seven minutes by his watch, Tom waited. Then the tip end of
Llewellyn's nose emerged slowly, cautiously, and remained stationary.

Eleven minutes of tense silence elapsed.

Then the tip end of Llewellyn's nose emerged a trifle more, stopped,
started again and lo, his whole head and neck were out, craned stiffly
upward toward the camp.

Tom did not move a muscle, he hardly breathed. Soon the turtle's tail
was sticking straight out and one forward claw was emerging slowly,
doubtfully.

Silence.

Another claw emerged and the neck relaxed its posture of listening
reconnoissance. Then, presto, Llewellyn was waddling around like a
lumbering old ferry boat and heading straight for the lake. As he
waddled along in a bee line something which Tom had once read came
flashing into his mind, which was that no matter where a turtle is
placed, be it in the middle of the Desert of Sahara, he will travel a
bee line for the nearest water.

But his recollection of this was as nothing to Tom now, when he saw with
mingled feelings of shame and excitement something which seemed to open
a way to the most dramatic possibilities.

As the turtle entered the muddy area near the lake Tom realized, what he
should have known before, that the tracks which Hervey Willetts had
followed from the mountain and which Skinny had followed from the lake
were the tracks of a turtle! _The tracks of a turtle coming from a
locality where it did not belong, straight for the still water which was
its natural element._

With a quick inspiration Tom darted forward into the mud catching the
turtle just as it was waddling into the water. He did not know why he
did this, it was just upon an impulse, and in making the sudden reach he
all but lost his balance. As it was he had to swing both arms to keep
his feet, and as he did so the turtle fell upside down in the drier mud
a few feet back from shore. As Tom lifted it, there, imprinted in the
mud were the letters H. T.

The initials T. H. on the creature's back had been reversed when he fell
upside down. And Tom realized with a thrill that what had just happened
before his eyes had happened at that log up in the woods.

Llewellyn, the Humpty-dumpty of the animal world, had slid off the log,
alighting upside down.

For a moment Tom Slade paused in dismay.

So Teddy Howell and Harry Thorne had nothing to do with this. This
lumbering, waddling creature had come flopping along down out of the
silent lower reaches of that frowning mountain, straight to his
destination. He was not the first printer to print something the wrong
way around.

Who, then, was T. H.? Not Master Anthony, Jr., at all events. But some
one afar off, surely. Abstractedly, Tom Slade gazed off toward that
towering mountain whence this clumsy but unerring messenger had come. It
looked very dark up there. Tom recalled how from those lofty crags the
great eagle had swooped down and met his match before the hallowed
little home of Orestes.

In a kind of reverie Tom's thoughts wandered to Orestes. Orestes would
be in bed by now. Orestes had lived away up near where that turtle had
come from. And the thought of Llewellyn and Orestes turned Tom's thought
to Hervey Willetts. He had not seen much of Hervey the last day or
two....

Tom fixed his gaze upon that old monarch where again the first crimson
rays of dying sunlight glinted the pinnacles of the somber pines near
its summit. How solemn, how still, it seemed up there. The nearer sounds
about the camp seemed only to emphasize that brooding silence. It was
like the silence of some vast cathedral--awful in its majestic solitude.

And this impassive, stolid, hard-shell pilgrim, knowing his business
like the bully scout he was, had come stumbling, sliding, rolling and
waddling down out of those fastnesses, because there was something right
here which he wanted. And he had brought a clew. Should the human scout
be found wanting where this humble little hero had triumphed?

"I never paid much attention to those stories," Tom mused; "but if
there's a draft dodger living up there, I'm going to find him. If
there's a hermit I'm going to see him. If there's...."

He paused suddenly in his musing, listening. It was the distant voice of
a scout returning to camp. He was singing one of those crazy songs that
he was famous for. Tom looked up beyond the supply cabin and saw him
coming down, twirling his hat on a stick, hitching up one stocking as
often as it went down--care-free, happy-go-lucky, delightfully heedless.

He looked for all the world like a ragged vagabond. The evening breeze
bore the strain he was singing down to where stolid Tom stood and he
smiled, then suddenly became tensely interested as he listened. Tom
often wondered where Hervey got his songs and ballads. On the present
occasion this is what the blithe minstrel was caroling:

      Saint Anthony he was a saint,
        And he was thin and bony;
      His mother called him Anthonee,
        But the kids they called him Tony.




CHAPTER XXX

HERVEY MAKES A PROMISE


"_Tony!_"

The word reached Tom's ears like a pistol shot. _Tony._

      His mother called him Anthonee,
        And the kids they called him Tony.

Anthony--Tony. Why, of course, Tony was the universal nickname for
Anthony. And if any kids were allowed within the massive iron gates at
the Harrington Estate, undoubtedly they called him Tony.

Tom, holding the turtle like a big rubber stamp, printed the letters
several times on the ground--H. T. He scrutinized them, in their proper
order on the turtle's back--T. H. Tony Harrington.

Could it be? Could it really mean anything in connection with that lost
child? Was it possible that while Detective Something-or-other, and
Lieutenant Thing-um-bob, and Sheriff Bullhead and Captain
Fuss-and-feathers were all giving interviews to newspaper men, this
sturdy little messenger was coming down to camp with a clew, straight
from the hiding place of a pair of ruffians and a little boy with a----

_With a new jack-knife!_

Tom was thrilled by this fresh thought. For half a minute he stood just
where he was, hardly knowing what to do, what to think.

"You're a good scout, Llewellyn," he finally mused aloud; "old Rough and
Ready--slow but sure. Do you know what you did, you clumsy old ice
wagon? You brought a second-class scout badge and an Eagle award with
you. And I'd like to know if you brought anything else of value. That's
what I would."

But Llewellyn did not hear, at least he did not seem at all impressed.
His head, claws and tail were drawn in again. He had changed himself
into a rock. He was a good detective, because he knew how to keep
still.

Tom strolled up to supper, as excited as it was in his nature to be, and
greatly preoccupied.

On his way up he dropped Llewellyn into Tenderfoot Pond, a diminutive
sheet of water, so named in honor of the diminutive scout contingent at
camp. He would have room enough to spend the balance of his life resting
after his arduous and memorable journey. And there he still abides, by
last accounts, monarch of the mud and water, and suns himself for hours
at a time on a favorite rock. He is ranked as a scout of the
first-class, as indeed he should be, but he is frightfully lazy. He is a
one stunt scout, as they say, but immensely popular. One hundred dollars
in cash was offered for him and refused, so you can tell by that.

After supper Tom sought out Hervey. "Herve," he said, "I don't suppose
you ever tried your hand at keeping a secret, did you? Where's your
Eagle badge?"

"My patrol has got it."

"Well, if you can't keep a badge do you think you can keep a secret? You
were telling me you wouldn't let a girl wear an honor badge of
yours----"

"That was three days ago I told you that. Girls are different from what
they were then. Can you balance a scout staff on your nose?"

"I never tried that. Listen, Hervey, and promise you won't tell anybody.
I'm telling you because I know I can trust you and because I like you
and I think you can help me. I want you to do something for me, will
you?"

"Suppose while I'm doing it I should decide I'd rather do something
else? You know how I am."

"Well, in that case," said Tom soberly, "you get a large rock tied to
your neck by a double sailor's knot, and are gently lowered into Black
Lake."

"I can undo a double sailor's knot under water," said Hervey.

Tom laughed in spite of himself. "Hervey," said he, "do you know what
kind of tracks those were you followed?"

"A killyloo bird's?"

"They were the tracks of a turtle and I was a fool not to know it. That
turtle had the letters T. H. carved on his shell. Do you know what those
letters might possibly stand for?"

"Terrible Hustler? How many guesses do I have?"

"Those letters were printed wrong way around in the mud up near that log
when the turtle fell off the log upside down," Tom continued soberly.

"He fell all over himself, hey?"

"You didn't happen to notice those letters up there, did you?"

"Not guilty."

"It's best always to keep your eyes open," Tom said.

"Not always, Slady."

"Yes, always."

"When you're asleep?"

Tom was a trifle nettled. "Well, are you willing to help me or not?" he
asked.

"Slady, I'm yours sincerely forever."

"Well then, meet me under Asbestos' elm tree at quarter of eleven, and
keep your mouth shut about it. We're going to see if we can find Anthony
Harrington, Jr."

"T. H.?"

"Tony is nickname for Anthony; you just said so in your song."

"When my soul burst forth in gladness, hey? The scout Caruso, hey,
Slady? What are we going to meet under the elm tree for?"

"You'll see when we get there. All you have to do in the meantime is to
keep still. Do you think you can do that?"

"Silence is my middle name, Slady; I eat it alive."




CHAPTER XXXI

SHERLOCK NOBODY HOLMES


Since Tom Slade, camp assistant, said it would be all right for Hervey
to meet him at quarter of eleven under the elm tree, Hervey was only too
glad to jump the rule, which was that scouts must turn in at ten thirty,
directly after camp-fire. This stealthy meeting under the old elm tree
near the witching hour of midnight was quite to Hervey's taste.

He found Tom already there.

"Now for the buried treasure, hey, Slady?" he said.

"I want you to promise me not to sing," Tom said soberly. "Now listen,"
he added, whispering. "That turtle came from way up in that mountain. It
has T. H. cut on its shell, and I think the carving is new. That
trainman said two men with a kid got out at Catskill. He said the kid
had a jack-knife. His folks said he had a sweater. Maybe the men put the
jacket on him--keep still till I get through. Maybe they wanted to
disguise him.

"It's bad enough for detectives to make fools of themselves and get that
kid's family all excited, without scouts doing it. Maybe I'm all wrong
but we're going to make sure."

"Are you going up there, Slady?" Hervey whispered excitedly, as if ready
to start.

"No, not yet. We're going to find out something about the sweater
first."

"No one is in this but just you and I, hey?"

"And Llewellyn and Orestes. Now listen, I want you to climb up this tree
and don't scare the bird whatever you do. You can climb like a monkey.
Don't interfere with the nest, but feel with your fingers and see if you
can give me an idea what that red streak is made of. Don't call down.
All we know now is that Orestes and Llewellyn came from pretty near the
same spot. Two little clews are better than one big one if they match.
Go on now, beat it, and whatever you do don't call down or I'll murder
you."

Hardly a rustling of the branches Tom heard as the young scout ascended.
One silent leaf fluttered down and blew in his face. That was all. A
minute, perhaps two minutes, elapsed. Then Tom saw the agile form slowly
descending the dark trunk.

"I'd make a good sneak thief, hey?" Hervey whispered.

"You're a wonder on climbing," Tom said, with frank admiration.

"It's kind of like worsted, Slady," Hervey whispered, as he brushed the
bark from his clothing. "It's all woven in with other stuff but it feels
like--sort of like worsted. I put my flashlight on it, it's faded--"

"I know it is," Tom said, "but it was bright red when we first saw it
and that's what makes me think it hasn't been in the nest long. I don't
believe it had been there more than a couple of days or so when we found
the nest. All I want to know now is whether it's wool, or anything like
that. You think it is?"

"Sure it is."

"All right, then one thing more and we'll hit the trail. You meet me in
the morning right after breakfast."




CHAPTER XXXII

THE BEGINNING OF THE JOURNEY


Early the next morning Tom and Hervey hiked down to Catskill.

"I don't see why we don't hike straight for the mountain," Hervey said;
"it would be much nearer."

"Didn't you ever sail up the Hudson?" Tom asked him. "All the trails up
the steep mountains are as plain as day from the river. If you want to
discover a trail get a bird's-eye view. Don't you know that aviators
discover trails that even hunters never knew about before? If the
kidnappers went up that mountain, they probably went an easy way,
because they're not scouts or woodsmen. See? It would be an awful job
picking our way up that mountain from camp. If those men are up that
way they knew where they were going. They're not pioneers, they're
kidnappers."

"Slady, you're a wonder."

"Except when it comes to climbing trees," Tom said.

At Catskill they hired a skiff and rowed out to about the middle of the
river. From there Hervey was greatly surprised at what he saw. His
bantering mood was quieted at last and he became sober as Tom, holding
the oar handles with one hand, pointed up to a mountain behind the
bordering heights along the river. Upon this, as upon others, were the
faintest suggestions of lines. No trails were to be seen, of course;
only wriggling lines of shadow, as they seemed, now visible, now half
visible, now fading out altogether like breath on a piece of glass.

It seemed incredible that mere paths, often all but undiscernible close
at hand, should be distinguishable from this distance. But there they
were, and it needed only visual concentration upon them to perceive that
they were not well defined paths to be sure, but thin, faint lines of
shadow. They lacked substance, but there they were.

"That's old Tyrant," Tom said. "See?"

Hervey would never have recognized the mountain. The side of it which
they saw was not at all like the familiar side which faced Temple Camp.
That frowning, jungle-covered ascent seemed less forbidding from the
river, but how Tom could identify it was beyond Hervey's comprehension.

It was apparent that by following a road which began at Catskill they
would skirt the mountain along its less precipitous ascent, and Tom
assumed that the trail, so doubtfully and elusively marked upon the
height, would be easily discoverable where it left the road, as
undoubtedly it did.

Deduction and calculation were not at all in Hervey's line; he would
have been quite satisfied to plunge into the interminable thicket on the
side near camp and get lost there.

"You see there is more than one way to kill a cat," Tom observed. "I was
thinking of the kidnappers while you were thinking about the mountain.
As long as they went up I thought I might as well let them show us the
easy way."

"You're a wonder, Slady!"

"There are two sides to every mountain," Tom said.

"Like every story, hey?"

"You're a good scout only you don't use your brain enough. You use your
hands and feet and your heart, I can't deny that."

"The pleasure is mine," said Hervey. "We're going to sneak up the back
way, hey?"

"No, we're going up the front way," Tom smiled. "Llewellyn came down the
back way."

"He's a peach of a scout, hey?"

"The best ever."

Hervey had soon a pretty good demonstration of the advantage of using
the brain first and the hands and feet afterwards. And he had a pretty
good demonstration of the particular kind of scout that Tom Slade was--a
scout that thinks.

They hit into the road about fifty yards from the boat landing and
followed it through a valley to where it ran along the foot of the
mountain.

"Are you sure this is the right mountain?" Hervey asked. "They all look
alike when you get close to them."

"Yop," said Tom; "what do you think of it?"

"Oh, I'm not particular about mountains," Hervey said. "They all look
alike to me."

Following the road, they watched the bordering woods on the mountainside
carefully for any sign of a trail. Several times they clambered up into
the thicket supposing some tiny clearing or sparse area to be the
beginning of the winding way they sought.

Hervey was thoroughly aroused now and serious. Once they picked their
way up into the woods for perhaps a dozen yards, only to find themselves
in a jungle with no sign of trail. Tom returned down out of these blind
alleys, his hands scratched, his clothing torn, and resumed his way
along the road doggedly, saying little. He knew it was somewhere and he
was going to find it.

Suddenly he paused by a certain willow tree, looking at it curiously.

"What is it?" Hervey asked excitedly.

"Looks as if a jack-knife had been at work around here, huh? Somebody's
been making a willow whistle. Look at this."

Tom held up a little tube of moist willow bark, at the same time kicking
some shavings at his feet. "Looks as if they passed this point,
anyway," he said. "Ever make one of those willow whistles? I've made
dozens of them for tenderfeet. If you make them the right way, they make
a dickens of a loud noise."




CHAPTER XXXIII

THE CLIMB


At last they found the trail. It wound up and away from the road about
half a mile farther along than where they had found the shavings.

"I guess no one would have noticed those but you," Hervey said
admiringly; "I guess the detectives would have gone right past them."

"A lot of little clews are better than one big one," Tom said as they
scrambled up into the dense thicket. "The initials on the turtle, the
new jack-knife, the willow shavings, all fit together."

"Yes, but it takes Tom Slade to fit them together," Hervey said.

"Maybe we might be mistaken after all," Tom answered. "Anyway, nobody'll
have the laugh on us. We didn't talk to reporters."

Their journey now led up through dense woods, but the trail was clear
and easy to follow. Now and again they caught glimpses of the country
below and could see the majestic Hudson winding like a broad silver
ribbon away between other mountains.

"Hark!" Tom said, stopping short.

Hervey paused, spellbound.

"I guess it was only a boat whistling," Tom said.

"It's pretty lonesome up here," Hervey commented.

The side of the mountain which they were ascending was less precipitous
than the side facing the camp, and save for occasional patches of
thicket where the path was overgrown, their way was not difficult.

"But I think it's longer than the trip would be straight from camp,"
Hervey said.

"Sure it is," Tom said; "Llewellyn proves that; he went down the
shortest way. He might have come down this way to the Hudson, only he
hit a bee line for the nearest water."

After about three quarters of an hour of this wearisome climb they came
out on the edge of a lofty minor cliff which commanded a panoramic view
of Temple Camp. They were, in fact, close to the edge of the more
precipitous ascent and near the very point whence the eagle had swooped
down.

From this spot the path descended into the thicket and down the steep
declivity. Below them lay Black Lake with tiny black specks upon
it--canoes manned by scouts. The faintest suggestion of human voices
could be heard, but they did not sound human; rather like voices from
another world.

Suddenly, in the vast, solemn stillness below them a shrill whistling
sounded clear out of the dense jungle. It might have been a hundred
yards down, or fifty; Tom could not say.

He was not at all excited nor elated. Holding up one hand to warn Hervey
to silence, he stood waiting, listening intently.

Again the whistle sounded, shrill, clear-cut, in the still morning air.




CHAPTER XXXIV

THE RESCUE


"Take off your shoes and leave them here," Tom whispered; "and follow me
and don't speak. Step just where I step."

Tom's soft moccasins were better even than stocking feet and he moved
down into the thicket stealthily, silently. Not a twig cracked beneath
his feet. He lifted the impediments of branch and bush aside and let
them spring easily back into place again without a sound. Hervey crawled
close behind him, passing through these openings while Tom held the
entangled thicket apart for both to pass. He moved like a panther. Never
in all his life had Hervey Willetts seen such an exhibition of scouting.

Presently Tom paused, holding open the brush. "Hervey," he said in the
faintest whisper, "they say you're happy-go-lucky. Are you willing to
risk your life--again?"

"I'm yours sincerely forever, Slady."

"We're going home the short way; we're going down the way the turtle
did," Tom whispered. "It's the only way--look. Shh."

With heart thumping in his breast, Hervey looked down where Tom pointed
and saw amid the dense thicket a glint of bright red. Even as he looked,
it moved, and appeared again in another tiny opening of the thicket
close by.

"What is it?" he whispered.

"A. H." Tom hardly breathed. "It's little Anthony Harrington--shh. Don't
speak from now on; just follow me. See this trickle of water? There's a
spring down there. They can't have their camp there, they'd roll down.
The kid is there alone. If you're not willing to tackle the descent, say
so. If we go down the regular way we'll have them after us. We've got to
go a way that they _can't_ go. Say the word. Are you game?"

"You heard them call me a dare-devil, didn't you?" Hervey whispered.
"They claim I don't care anything about the Eagle award. They're right.
I'd rather be a dare-devil. Go ahead and don't ask foolish questions."

For about twenty yards Tom descended, stealthily pausing every few feet
or so. Hervey was behind him and could not see what Tom saw. He did not
venture to speak.

Then Tom paused, holding the brush open, and peering
through--thoughtfully, intently. He looked like a scout in a picture.
Hervey waited behind him, his heart in his throat. He could not have
stood there if Tom had not been in front of him. It seemed interminable,
this waiting. But Tom was not the one to leap without looking.

Suddenly, like a flash of lightning, he threw aside all stealth and
caution and, tearing the bushes out of his path, darted forward like a
hunted animal. Hervey could only follow, his heart beating, his nerves
tingling with excitement. What happened, seemed all in an instant. It
was over almost before it began. Tom had emerged into a little clearing
where there was a spring and the next thing Hervey knew, there was his
companion stuffing a handkerchief into the mouth of a little fellow in
a red sweater and lifting the little form into his arms.

Hervey saw the clearing, the spring, the handkerchief stuffed into the
child's mouth, the little legs dangling as Tom carried the struggling
form--he saw these things as in a kind of vision. The next thing he
noticed (and that was when they had descended forty or fifty yards below
the spring) was that the child's sweater was frayed near the shoulder.

Down the steep declivity Tom moved, over rocks, now crawling, now
letting himself down, now handing himself by one hand from tree to tree,
agilely, carefully, surely. Now he relieved one arm by taking the child
in the other, always using his free hand to let himself down through
that precipitous jungle. Never once did he speak or pause until he had
left an almost perpendicular area of half a mile or so of rock and
jungle between them and the spring above.

Then, breathless, he paused in a little level space above a great rock
and set the child down.

"Don't be frightened, Tony," he said; "we're going to take you home. And
don't scream when I take this handkerchief out because that will spoil
it all."

"Is it safe to stop here?" Hervey asked.

"Sure, they'll go down the path when they want to hunt for him. They'll
never get down here. The mountain is with us now."

"I didn't drop my whistle," the little fellow piped up, as if that were
his chief concern.

"Good," said Tom, in an effort to interest him and put him at ease.
"That's a dandy whistle; tell us about it. Because we're your friends,
you know."

"Am I going to see my mother and father?"

"You bet. Away down there is a big camp where there are lots of boys and
you're going to stay there till they come and get you."

"They sent me to the spring to get water and I took my whistle so I
could soak it in the water, because that makes it go good. I made it
myself, that whistle."

Tom, his clothes torn, his face and hands bleeding from scratches, sat
upon the edge of a big rock with the little fellow drawn tight against
him.

"And when you whistled we came and got you, hey? That's the kind of
fellows we are. And I bet I know how that nice sweater got frayed, too.
A little bird did that."

"I left it hanging on a tree near the spring when they sent me to get
water," the boy said, "and I left it there all night." He poked his
finger in the frayed place as if he were proud of it.

"And I'll show you who did it," Tom said; "because that little thief is
right down there in that big camp. And I'll show you the turtle you
carved your initials on too. Because he came to our camp, too. There's
so much fun there. And you're going to step very carefully and hold on
to me, and we're going down, down, down, till we get to that camp where
there is a man that knows how to make dandy crullers. I bet you like
crullers?"

A camp where even birds and turtles go, and where they know how to make
crullers, was a magic place, not to be missed by any means. And little
Anthony Harrington was already undecided as to whether he would rather
live there than at home.




CHAPTER THE LAST

Y-EXTRA! Y-EXTRA!


The ragged little newsboys in the big city shouted themselves hoarse.
"Y-extree! Y-extra! Anthony Harrington safe! Rescued by Boy Scouts!
Y-extree! Mister!"

And those who bought the extras learned how the kidnappers of Anthony
Harrington allowed him to purchase for nine cents a turtle from a little
farm boy whom he met at the station at Catskill. And of how that turtle
walked off and gave the whole thing away. Llewellyn and Orestes got even
more credit than Tom Slade, but he did not care, for a scout is a
brother to every other scout, and it was all in the family.

And so, as I said in the beginning, if you should visit Temple Camp, you
will hear the story told of how Llewellyn, scout of the first-class,
and Orestes, winner of the merit badges for architecture and music, were
by their scouting skill and lore instrumental in solving a mystery and
performing a great good turn.

They are still there, the two of them; one in her elm, the other in
Tenderfoot Pond. And Orestes (but this is strictly confidential) has a
little scout troop of her own, tenderfeet with a vengeance, for they are
out of the eggs scarcely ten days.

THE END

       *       *       *       *       *

THE TOM SLADE BOOKS

By PERCY KEESE FITZHUGH

Author of "Roy Blakeley," "Pee-wee Harris," "Westy Martin," Etc.

=Illustrated. Individual Picture Wrappers in Colors. Every Volume
Complete in Itself.=

"Let your boy grow up with Tom Slade," is a suggestion which thousands
of parents have followed during the past, with the result that the TOM
SLADE BOOKS are the most popular boys' books published to-day. They take
Tom Slade through a series of typical boy adventures through his
tenderfoot days as a scout, through his gallant days as an American
doughboy in France, back to his old patrol and the old camp ground at
Black Lake, and so on.

TOM SLADE, BOY SCOUT
TOM SLADE AT TEMPLE CAMP
TOM SLADE ON THE RIVER
TOM SLADE WITH THE COLORS
TOM SLADE ON A TRANSPORT
TOM SLADE WITH THE BOYS OVER THERE
TOM SLADE, MOTORCYCLE DISPATCH BEARER
TOM SLADE WITH THE FLYING CORPS
TOM SLADE AT BLACK LAKE
TOM SLADE ON MYSTERY TRAIL
TOM SLADE'S DOUBLE DARE
TOM SLADE ON OVERLOOK MOUNTAIN
TOM SLADE PICKS A WINNER
TOM SLADE AT BEAR MOUNTAIN

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

THE ROY BLAKELEY BOOKS

By PERCY KEESE FITZHUGH

Author of "Tom Slade," "Pee-wee Harris," "Westy Martin," Etc.

=Illustrated. Individual Picture Wrappers in Color. Every Volume
Complete in Itself.=

In the character and adventures of Roy Blakeley are typified the very
essence of Boy life. He is a real boy, as real as Huck Finn and Tom
Sawyer. He is the moving spirit of the troop of Scouts of which he is a
member, and the average boy has to go only a little way in the first
book before Roy is the best friend he ever had, and he is willing to
part with his best treasure to get the next book in the series.

ROY BLAKELEY
ROY BLAKELEY'S ADVENTURES IN CAMP
ROY BLAKELEY, PATHFINDER
ROY BLAKELEY'S CAMP ON WHEELS
ROY BLAKELEY'S SILVER FOX PATROL
ROY BLAKELEY'S MOTOR CARAVAN
ROY BLAKELEY, LOST, STRAYED OR STOLEN
ROY BLAKELEY'S BEE-LINE HIKE
ROY BLAKELEY AT THE HAUNTED CAMP
ROY BLAKELEY'S FUNNY BONE HIKE
ROY BLAKELEY'S TANGLED TRAIL
ROY BLAKELEY ON THE MOHAWK TRAIL

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

THE PEE-WEE HARRIS BOOKS

By PERCY KEESE FITZHUGH

Author of "Tom Slade," "Roy Blakeley," "Westy Martin," Etc.

=Illustrated. Individual Picture Wrappers in Color. Every Volume
Complete in Itself.=

All readers of the Tom Slade and the Roy Blakeley books are acquainted
with Pee-wee Harris. These stories record the true facts concerning his
size (what there is of it) and his heroism (such as it is), his voice,
his clothes, his appetite, his friends, his enemies, his victims.
Together with the thrilling narrative of how he foiled, baffled,
circumvented and triumphed over everything and everybody (except where
he failed) and how even when he failed he succeeded. The whole recorded
in a series of screams and told with neither muffler nor cut-out.

PEE-WEE HARRIS
PEE-WEE HARRIS ON THE TRAIL
PEE-WEE HARRIS IN CAMP
PEE-WEE HARRIS IN LUCK
PEE-WEE HARRIS ADRIFT
PEE-WEE HARRIS F.O.B. BRIDGEBORO
PEE-WEE HARRIS FIXER
PEE-WEE HARRIS: AS GOOD AS HIS WORD

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

=EVERY BOY'S LIBRARY=

=BOY SCOUT EDITION=

The books in this library have been proven by nation-wide canvass to be
the one most universally in demand by the boys themselves. Originally
published in more expensive editions only, they are now re-issued at a
lower price so that all boys may have the advantage of reading and
owning them. It is the only series of books published under the control
of this great organization, whose sole object is the welfare and
happiness of the boy himself.

Adventures in Beaver Stream Camp, Major A. R. Dugmore
Along the Mohawk Trail, Percy Keese Fitzhugh
Animal Heroes, Ernest Thompson Seton
Baby Elton, Quarter-Back, Leslie W. Quirk
Bartley, Freshman Pitcher, William Heyliger
Billy Topsail with Doctor Luke of the Labrador, Norman Duncan
The Biography of a Grizzly, Ernest Thompson Seton
The Boy Scoots of Black Eagle Patrol, Leslie W. Quirk
The Boy Scouts of Bob's Hill, Charles Pierce Burton
Brown Wolf and Other Stories, Jack London
Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts, Frank R. Stockton
The Call of the Wild, Jack London
Cattle Ranch to College, R. Doubleday
College Years, Ralph D. Paine
Cruise of the Cachalot, Frank T. Bullen
The Cruise of the Dazzler, Jack London
Don Strong, Patrol Leader, W. Heyliger
Don Strong of the Wolf Patrol, William Heyliger
For the Honor of the School, Ralph Henry Barbour
The Gaunt Gray Wolf, Dillon Wallace
Grit-a-Plenty, Dillon Wallace
The Guns of Europe, Joseph A. Altsheler
The Half-Back, Ralph Henry Barbour
Handbook for Boys, Revised Edition, Boy Scouts of America
The Horsemen of the Plains, Joseph A. Altsheler
Jim Davis, John Masefield
Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson
Last of the Chiefs, Joseph A. Altsheler
The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper
Last of the Plainsmen, Zane Grey
Lone Bull's Mistake, J. W. Shultz
Pete, The Cow Puncher, J. B. Ames
The Quest of the Fish-Dog Skin, James W. Schultz
Ranche on the Oxhide, Henry Inman
The Ransom of Red Chief and Other O. Henry Stories for Boys,
        Edited by F. K. Mathiews
Scouting With Daniel Boone, Everett T. Tomlinson
Scouting With Kit Carson, Everett T. Tomlinson
Through College on Nothing a Year, Christian Gauss
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

    Transcriber's Notes:

    1. Punctuation has been made regular and consistent with
       contemporary standards.

    2. Double column booklist for "Every Boy's Library" at end of
       book was rendered in single column for readability.

    3. Page 5: "in talking mood." changed to "in a talking mood."

    4. Page 58: "learn things why" changed to "learn things while"

    5. Page 67: "hitting straight in the direction" changed to
       "heading straight in the direction"






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