Strange to say there had not been a single mention of the other Stanhope organization. None of them believed that Ted and Ward would be able to make the least show in the competition. They knew the habits of these fellows only too well. As a rule, they never won, save through trickery; and in the eyes of the committee appointed by the donor of the banner, anything that smacked of double dealing would be rigidly barred from the game.
Paul and Jack, as usual, walked home together, arm in arm.
As the recognized leaders in the movement that had so lately struck the boys of Stanhope, they must always have much to talk over.
Besides that, they had their own personal affairs to discuss.
“Well,” said Jack, finally, when they found that they were alone, the nearest comrades being far behind on the road; “the four coins are still there in the snug little box, Paul.”
His companion looked quickly at him.
“You carried out my suggestion then?” he asked.
“Yes. The door has been closed and locked all day. Even the window was shut down and fastened,” replied Jack.
“That made the little den as tight as a drum, eh?” laughed his chum.
“I should say it did. If any one got in there to-day he would have to slip through the keyhole,” came from Jack.
“Unless he happened to have a duplicate key,” Paul went on, seriously. “And since you found the four coins there that could hardly have happened. Sure you counted four, are you?”
“That’s positive,” returned his companion; “but to tell the truth I did get a little scare. At first I counted only three.”
“But you found the fourth all right, Jack?”
“Oh! yes,” replied the other. “It was gummed fast to the side of the box. I had to scrape it off before I put it back. But when do you mean to tell me what you know about this strange affair, Paul?”
“I guess to-morrow,” answered his chum.
“Bully for you. I’ll be glad to get it off my mind. What do you want me to do, Paul, in the meantime?”
“Nothing,” came the ready response.
“Shall I leave the den shut up as it is, then?” demanded Jack.
“Until I see you in the morning, yes,” laughed Paul. “Don’t be surprised if I pop in on you unexpectedly. Perhaps I may not want any one to see me go in your house, and so I might come by the back door.”
Jack looked at him in a whimsical way and shook his head.
“You’ve got me guessing, all right, my boy,” he declared.
Paul instantly changed the subject, after a way he had.
“The boys are getting on fine in that water boiling test, aren’t they? Four had it in nine minutes, and Wallace beat his own record by nearly half a minute. That is going to be one thing Stanhope must excel in,” he said.
“Yes,” remarked Jack, falling in readily enough with his companion’s desire to “talk shop,” “and those photographs couldn’t well be beaten. What a lot of new and interesting facts some of the trackers have dug out of the trails they followed. The papers read fine. Paul, I really begin to believe we’re going to make a strong bid for that banner.”