“We learned that they are working like mad to excel in all the arts that interest the scouting fraternity. Competitions were being run off in every branch of the woodcraft business. We saw fires started, camps made, trails followed, boats mended, fish flies tied, rods that had been made by single members; we heard of all sorts of clever things that were being done in Aldine that would give the troop marks in the grand round-up. We listened to splendid speeches from the really efficient scout master, and our hearts warmed within us toward the gallant foe against whom we must soon be pitted; just as our bones ached because we had to squat there high up in that tree over their camp, like a couple of roosting monkeys.”
“Hear! hear! Bully for our monkeys! They’re all to the good!” shouted some of the more demonstrative boys, waving their hats wildly.
Bobolink stopped to give a few melancholy dabs at his thighs, just as though they still ached from the long service in the tree; while Bluff managed to emit a series of sympathetic groans.
Then the orator took up his theme again; and when Bobolink chose he could even run Wallace Carberry a warm race on the school rostrum.
“Some people might think that it was hardly fair in us to spy on our rivals; but we are running our troop under strictly military rules. It’s always fair to try and find out what you are going to be up against when entering a competition. We are badly handicapped, because both of these other troops in the county have been working all summer; and we’ve got to come up from behind in our attempt to capture the prize. That’s right, isn’t it, fellows?”
“Sure! We only want to know if they’re going to make a big fight; or whether they expect to have a walk-over. Besides, I happen to know that there was a Bald Eagle from Aldine watching us work yesterday. He had a field glass, and was hidden where he could see all that went on.”
It was Jud Elderkin who made this astonishing declaration; and what he said created quite a stir among the assembled scouts.
“All right. We didn’t go there expecting to steal any of their thunder, fellows,” said Bobolink.
“Of course not,” asserted the nearest scouts.
“Well, how did you find it?” demanded William.
“I didn’t see that they had anything on us. Of course they did lots of things better, because they’ve had a heap more experience; but there’s time between now and Thanksgiving for the scouts of the Stanhope troop to get a move on, and shake all rivals out of their boots. That’s all,” and Bobolink made a sudden duck to get out of the lime-light.
“Hurrah! Well done, Three and Four of the Red Fox patrol! Whenever we’ve got any more climbing to do, we know where to get the monkeys!” cried William, with a mock bow in the direction of the blushing Bluff, and the grinning Bobolink.
“I congratulate the scouts on the way they carried out their mission. It was worthy of the annals of Cooper. May I ask how they learned just where the camp of the Aldine Troop was to be pitched?” asked Paul.