“Well, that’s where you make a big mistake, Bobolink. Over in England, where the Boy Scout movement started, it has some connection with the army, because there, you see, every fellow expects at some time to serve his country as a soldier, or on board a naval vessel. But here in America, the movement is one for peace.”
“Then what’s all the doings about?” asked Nuthin’, as if puzzled.
“I know, and Paul is right about it,” came from Wallace Carberry, always quite a reader of newspapers and magazines.
“Let him tell then. I’m for the game, no matter what it means,” cried Bobolink.
“And I think Bluff knows something about it, for he said he would do for the lowest grade of scout, which is the tenderfoot. But I don’t think any of you are qualified to take even that degree; for a tenderfoot must first be familiar with scout law, sign, salute, and know what his badge means; he must know about our national flag, and the usual forms of salute due to it; and be able to tie some seven or eight common knots. How about that, Bluff?”
“N-n-not guilty!” promptly answered the one addressed.
“Say, that sounds interesting any way. Tell us some more about this, Paul!” exclaimed William, always eager to hear of anything that smacked of novelty.
“Well, there are two more degrees a fellow can climb up to, a second-class scout, and a first-class scout, full fledged. After that, if he wants to keep right on there are merit badges to be won for excelling in angling, athletics, camping, cooking at the campfire, taxidermy, first aid to the injured, handicraft, life saving, path-finding, and a lot more.”
“Now you’ve got me stuck on this new game,” cried Bobolink, excitedly. “The more you explain the better I like the idea. Me for the Boy Scouts, fellows!”
“Hear! Hear! Paul, the idea is yours, and we vote unanimously that you occupy the exalted position of scout master—I know that every troop has to have such a head, and you’re better fitted for the job than any fellow in town!”
“Yes,” laughed Paul, “but unfortunately, I believe a scout master has to be over twenty-one years of age.”
“Who knows the ways of the open like our Paul? He’s the right man in the right place. Say, are there any books on the subject, that we can get, and learn more about this thing?” asked Wallace, who seemed to be particularly well pleased.
“I’ve already sent for a manual, and expect it by to-morrow; when we can find out all about it. But wishing to be posted when I put the question I went over the river to Aldine to-day, and saw some of the boys there who belong to the Scouts. They made me more anxious than ever to start a patrol in our home town.”
“But I’ve seen something about a troop?” remarked Jack Stormways, who, Paul thought, seemed unusually sober for a boy ordinarily light-hearted.
“Yes, a troop takes in say, three local posts called patrols, each of which has eight members. It is known by a number, as Troop One of Boston; and each minor organization takes a name of some animal, such as wildcat or fox. If it is called Fox, every boy belonging to it is supposed to be able to bark like a fox, so as to be able to signal a comrade while scouting in the woods.”