“Where, when, how?” demanded the scout master, resolutely.
“This mornin’ it happened. Willie went with Annie Spooner to get some leaf mould in the edge of the woods, for her ma’s flowers. She came back just at noon an’ sed Willie had strayed away in the woods.”
“Did anybody go to look for Willie?” asked Paul.
“Three boys went out to bring him in. They hunted high an’ low, but he wa’n’t there. Then a dozen people set out to search the woods. Just now they come back to say Willie ain’t to be found high nor low. That stirs the big chief some. He ’low he knows how the thing’s to be did; and so he’s agoin’ to organize a hunt for the lost child. That’s all. Now, let me get back to my slave tasks, Paul.”
“And night coming on,” murmured Paul, as he looked out of the door to where people were assisting the crippled Mr. Boggs across the square in the direction of his nearby home, where his wife was no doubt waiting eagerly for some news of the missing darling.
Si Growdy shot out of the door, and headed in the direction of the store where he gave his valuable services daily from seven in the morning until late in the evening, for a miserable pittance.
Paul walked thoughtfully out of the post-office. He was tired from his exertions of the afternoon; but all that was immediately forgotten when he mentally pictured the weeping mother in that little cottage where the honeysuckle climbed above the door. Then he thought of the terror of the little fellow, wandering about in the great woods with night coming down, and all sorts of strange noises arising to chill his blood.
“I’ll do it!” exclaimed Paul presently; “the chance is too good to be lost. Why let Ted and Ward have the inside track? Just as soon as I can send word around we’ll test our new system of bringing a bunch of the Fox scouts together. And then, if the boys are willing, we’ll try and discover where Willie Boggs has wandered. It’s a glorious opportunity to find out if what we’ve learned is worth having. Here goes then, to send out the call for help!”
A CAMP IN THE WOODS
“Why, Paul, what’s all this hurry mean?”
“I just want to get a few bites of supper, mother, and then rush off. I’ve sent out the call for a hurry meeting of the patrol. Some people call it the emergency signal. Every one of the scouts knows what it means. Those who can get out will be gathering here inside of half an hour.”
“But it must be something very unusual that urges you to do this. You’ve been on the go all afternoon, and I don’t know that it is wise to bolt your supper in such a style, just to be ready to greet the boys when they arrive.”
“Mother, you don’t understand. Father hasn’t come back from his afternoon round of visits, has he? Then you couldn’t possibly know,” went on Paul.