Only Bluff looked back half regretfully at the haven of refuge they had just quitted. For he was wondering how his father could ever manage to efface that scent so that the tobacco, soon to be harvested, might be hung up in that barn without detracting from its marketable value.
And once out of the trap the Boy Scouts began to chase around, with vengeance in their eyes; but as on previous occasions the wary enemy, after accomplishing their mischief, had been wise enough to slink away.
THE RIVAL TROOPS
“How far do we have to go in this new plan of forgiving the enemy, Paul?” asked William, who had by now fully recovered from his recent weakness, and was burning with zeal to avenge himself upon their persecutors.
“Yes, this thing has got to have a limit!” declared Jud Elderkin, as he glared around at the moonlit scene, and no doubt imagined their rivals hiding near by, where they could laugh at the disturbed group.
Paul knew boy nature too well to stretch their patience beyond the breaking point. He was astonished that such fire-eaters as Bluff, William, and several more, could restrain themselves even as well as they had.
To keep them in hand the reins must be loosened a little; but only to enable him to get a better hold later on.
“Well, there’s no positive rule, fellows; and so far as I can see I believe the limit has already been passed, with us,” he said, pleasantly.
“Hurrah! that’s the kind of talk!” cried the inflammable Twin.
“Then you give us permission to pitch in, and whale the whole bunch the next time they play one of their measly old tricks on us? Is that so, Paul?” demanded Jud.
“Oh! I only h-h-hope so!” came from Bluff.
“Wait till the time comes, and perhaps I’ll help you give them a much-needed lesson. We don’t want to play the worm part, always,” remarked Paul; “and now, boys, let’s head for home.”
“Ta-ta, sweet little meeting-house on the edge of the woods; I’ll carry fond memories of you as long as this suit of clothes lasts, I guess,” said William, waving his hand mockingly backward toward the deserted barn.
“Watch out for some of those Slavin fellows on the road. They may bombard us from the woods with rocks!” warned Joe Clausin.
“Just let ’em try, that’s all. We’ll chase the stone thrower to a standstill, and then he’ll be sorry he wandered away from his happy home this night!” Bobolink declared, ferociously.
So they walked along in detached groups, many eyes were on the alert, and listening ears bent to catch some sign of a lurking foe.
Once or twice they heard signals being exchanged deep in the woods, evidently by the scattered cohorts of Ted; but while valiant, the members of the Fox Patrols were wise and prudent as well, copying the cautious attributes of the wary animal after which their new organization had been named.