It required considerable persuasion on the part of the scout leader to prevent an immediate chase of the culprits.
“Let them go this time,” said Paul, impressively; “but I’m going to see what can be done to put a stop to this rowdyism. It gives the boys of Stanhope a bad name all around. I told Ted I’d speak to Chief Billings about it.”
“You won’t get any too much satisfaction there,” remarked wise Nuthin’; “because, you see the Chief owes his position to the political influence of Mr. Kenwood; and as Ward runs with Ted he won’t dare do anything for fear of offending the head of the party. We’ve just got to find a way ourselves to change things.”
“Well, I’ll ask my father about it. Perhaps he can suggest a plan. He used to be a boy himself once, and never forgets it either,” was Paul’s conclusion, as they each bought an apple from the old woman to make her forget her recent trouble, and then walked away, followed by her earnest thanks.
“Say, but time just crawls along,” observed William, dolefully; “because, you see, I’m dying to get to work and win some of them merits you told us about. Just set me the stunt of making water boil over a fire I have to kindle, and I’ll do it in three shakes of a lamb’s tail. The rest of you will be left hull down. And then there’s lots of other jobs that look good to me. Let’s get a move on, and start the ball rolling. When’s the next meeting, Paul?”
“To-night, and once more at the barn where we were first. This time I figure on having nearly twenty present, and that will make things interesting.”
“Same hour as before—eight o’clock?” asked Bobolink.
“Yes. And if any of you feel that you are qualified to take the examination for the first degree, so as to become real tenderfeet in the Scouts, why, I’ll be in trim to put you through your sprouts,” announced the leader.
“That hits me,” declared William; “for I’ve been studying to beat the band, and believe I’ll pass muster with flying colors. Me for the tenderfoot class!”
“And I’ve just used up a whole ball of twine tying all those measly knots,” declared Nuthin’; after which his face brightened when he added: “but I can do every one just like an old jack tar. My dad was once a sailor you know, and that’s where I’ve got the bulge on the rest of you. So-long, boys; I’m going home to try again.”
A STRANGE SUGGESTION
“Who goes there?”
“A scout of the Red Fox Patrol!”
“Advance scout, and give the countersign!”
A figure came shuffling forward, bent over, and whispered a word in the ear of the sentinel at the door of the old tobacco barn.
“Correct! Pass in, scout!” said the one on guard, solemnly.
But William chose to loiter by the door, and watch the gathering of the clans, for the boys arrived rapidly after that, usually in pairs.