Consequently there was more or less chance of some one tripping on the steps, and pulling others down with him.
“’Ware the fourth step; it’s shaky and may throw you, boys!” sang out Nuthin’.
Hardly had he spoken than the first pair executed a beautiful forward bow, and went down in a heap from the lower step.
“Look out there! A rope!”
Paul had just barely time to give utterance to this warning when the next pair found the obstruction for themselves, and came plunging down on top of those already landed.
Two more were close behind, so nearly upon the heels of the second pair that it was really impossible for them to avoid following in their wake. Thus there were by this time six struggling figures at the foot of the steps, while the balance of the patrol huddled just above, looking with amazement at the dimly seen spectacle.
From somewhere near by, possibly the shelter of some bushes, came gurgles of boyish laughter, and jeering words in assumed voices.
No need to tell Paul and his friends to whose kind attention they owed this unexpected downfall. Ted Slavin and his backers had not been idle while the new patrol was being organized in the home of Nuthin’. They had fastened a stout rope across the lower step, and succeeded in tripping half of their rivals.
Paul managed to scramble to his feet, hardly knowing whether to laugh, or get angry at this practical joke on the part of the opposition.
CHECKING A COWARD
“It’s that Slavin crowd!” exclaimed Jack, as he gained his feet.
“Let’s capture some of them, then!” shouted William, always ready for battle, as was also Bluff Shipley, whose hands were never bothered with impediments as was his speech.
A rush was made for the bushes, and retreating footsteps announced the hasty departure of the enemy.
None of the new scouts seemed to care about following very far. They knew Ted of old, and feared lest they be drawn into a trap, so that their last condition would be really worse than the first.
“No damage done, after all,” remarked Paul, as he brushed off his clothes; while the others gathered around, and Nuthin’ came down to secure the treacherous rope.
“Barked my shins some, now; and sooner or later I’ve just got to take it out of that crowd!” muttered William, limping around, and shaking his head.
“Better do it soon, then,” observed Bobolink, “for after you’ve taken the oath of allegiance to the scouts you dassent tackle a feller without losing marks.”
“H’m! is that so?” grunted the injured member, regretfully; for to be deprived of the boon of fighting would be taking some of the joys of life away from the pugnacious Carberry twin.
“Fall in again, boys!” said Paul, cheerily.
“Not the same way, I hope, captain!” ventured Bobolink; at which there was a laugh, and the incident seemed closed.