They declined to explore the dense forest, seeking a foe that might only be bent on luring them along, until ready to pounce on them in a body, to make them prisoners of war.
And so finally the march came to an end, with all hands satisfied that the last meeting of the little host of new scouts had been attended by several of the most exciting circumstances that ever befell the boys of Stanhope.
Paul and his chum walked on together, until reaching the first home they said good night. But neither again brought up that subject which had been worrying Jack Stormways for so long a time.
If Paul had conceived any sort of an idea in connection with the strange disappearance of the old coins, he kept it to himself.
Once, however, on the way home after leaving Jack, he stopped to clap his hand down vigorously on his knee, and whispered to himself:
“Now, I wonder if that could possibly be so?”
But no matter what idea had struck him, further words didn’t come to tell whether his thoughts were connected with Jack’s personal trouble; or on the other hand if the annoying enmity of Ted Slavin, Ward Kenwood, and their would-be scout troop, was still on his mind.
Nevertheless, as Paul passed up to the front door of his home, and stopped a minute to look up at the bright moon sailing across the eastern heavens, he considered that he had good reason to feel more than satisfied with the magnificent results already attending the new methods of the Boy Scouts.
On the following day he sent off the letter containing a check which his father gave him in place of the money, so that it might not be lost.
Then followed a period of anxious waiting, during which many of the members of the Stanhope Troop No. 1 felt touches of envy at sight of their rivals parading the streets, decked out in the full regalia of Scouts, and carrying themselves with the proudest of airs.
They knew that Ted and Ward were busily engaged in drilling their followers in many of the devices prominently mentioned in the manual book. For that matter, though, it did not require regulation suits of khaki to excel in those same things; and so the Foxes also studied and experimented, and burned candles at night in the endeavor to learn all that was possible of those various accomplishments.
There was a great difference in the boys of the town.
Few who were of the proper age but who belonged to one or the other of the troops; and people were beginning to notice how much more manly they carried themselves, and how anxious they seemed now to get credit marks at home.
Parents upon meeting never failed to talk about this wonderful change, and express hopes that it would last.
“The best thing that ever happened, barring none, I think,” was what the old minister declared, at a meeting of the Women’s Club; “and it deserves to be encouraged. Why, you ladies should take advantage of this wave of reform, to get these lads interested in keeping the streets of the town clean. Give me fifty willing workers among the boys, and I warrant you there will never be a stray piece of paper blowing around. They’ll provide receptacles for trash, and see that everybody uses them.”