“Look out for a trap. Once bitten, twice shy. Perhaps he’s just laying for some fellers to come along, and play some more paintin’ job trick. I heard that he said he would find some way to stop the nuisance!”
This from “Red” Betts, who was known as a cautious chap, and able to vanish at the first sign of danger better than any fellow in town.
“Suppose we hold up here, and send out scouts to see how the land lies? That’s the military way of doing it,” ventured Bobolink.
“A good idea, and I appoint you, Bobolink, with Jud Elderkin, to carry out the little business,” remarked Paul, in a low tone.
“Trot along, you chaps; the rest of us will bunk right here alongside the road and wait till you report,” and suiting the action to his words William dropped in his tracks.
A brief time elapsed, and then the pair of spies returned.
“Not a single light in the house, and the coast clear, fellows; so come on!” and Jud waved his long arms as though enjoying his brief assumption of authority to the limit.
It would have doubtless astonished the old farmer had he chanced upon the scene just then. A young moon hung in the western sky, and while giving little light, still the figures of some score of stooping boys might have been discovered, advancing in broken formation along the road.
The leader silently opened the gate leading to the dooryard of Growdy’s place. His barns stood near the house, so that the confusion which reigned was all the more noticeable. Its equal had never been known around Stanhope; and could only be expected in the case of a place where a woman’s influence for cleanliness had been totally absent during the past ten years.
Over to the stable went some of the boys.
Paul had talked it all over with them as they walked, and each knew what part he was to take in the general clean-up.
To some of them it was simply another form of a lark. Boys are queer creatures even to those who imagine they know them well. They must be doing something all the time. Once get them started in the right direction, and they will labor just as sturdily to bring about a good object, as under other conditions, they would work to play a joke. It all depends on how they begin. And thanks to the sagacity of Paul, he had succeeded in interesting them in the novelty of his proposal.
Some secured rakes and hoes, and began to systematically gather up the scattered loose material that covered the place, ankle deep. Others pushed the wagons, and the old dilapidated buggy, back into the shed in systematic order.
They worked like busy bees, chuckling, whispering and evidently getting considerable fun out of the strange frolic.
Paul himself went over the job to make sure that it had been thoroughly done, and that nothing remained uncared for.
Up to this time fortune had favored the busy workers, since no sound had come about to betray their presence.