They looked at each other for a minute, speechless with astonishment.
Then being real boys they found their voices with a rush. No need now for Tom Butts or Joe Clausin to suggest three cheers. That old barn fairly rocked with the volume of sound that burst forth, as every fellow swung his hat in the air, and tried his best to give his feelings free rein.
The tumult died away as quickly as it had sprung into being, when Paul held up his right hand and made this request.
All being still again, he turned to the grinning old farmer, who was doubtless getting more solid satisfaction out of this new experience than he had obtained from any clever dicker or trade engineered in the last ten years.
“Mr. Growdy,” said Paul, with considerable of feeling in his voice, “as the present scout leader of Stanhope Troop No. 1 of the Boy Scouts, I want to thank you sincerely for your generous offer. We all appreciate the kindly spirit that causes you to make it to us. But unfortunately it happens that the rules of our organization will not allow us to accept.”
Peleg’s face fell several degrees at this.
“Say, couldn’t ye jest make an exception this time, boys?” he pleaded. “I’ll feel right hurt if I ain’t ’lowed to help on this business some. Wot’s a hundred dollars beside the new speerit ye’ve managed somehow to start up in me? If ye need more, by gum! ye kin hev it! I ain’t no hog, if I hev let the people think so this long time.”
“Sorry to say so, Mr. Growdy, but we can’t accept. Besides, we have all earned enough money now to pay for what we need, and expect to send away to-morrow to get our suits,” Paul went on; and even while he was talking a bright idea came flashing into his brain.
“Wall, now that’s jest too bad, boys. I’d calkerlated to spend that hundred on doin’ a good deed, an’ ye make me go back home with the same hugged tight in my pocket. I’m sorry it cain’t be did, I am, sure,” muttered the farmer, shaking his head, and acting like a child that has been cheated out of some anticipated pleasure.
“That doesn’t follow, Mr. Growdy,” said Paul, in a low but thrilling voice; “if you have set your mind on using that hundred dollars to do a good work, perhaps I might give you a hint where it would fit in mighty well, and make your heart feel warm.”
“Hey! wot’s that, Paul? I don’t understand,” exclaimed the man.
“Down just beyond the outskirts of Stanhope there lives a poor widow woman who, I’m told, is in danger of being put out of her home any day now because she has been sick and unable to work so as to pay her rent. If you went to her right now, Mr. Growdy, and put that wad of money in her hand, I’m sure you’d never regret it, sir; and every boy here would thank you just as much as if you paid for his uniform. Isn’t that so, fellows?”