“Good night, did he swallow that too?” said Roy. And he rolled backward off the troop-room table on which he had been sitting.
Though Pee-wee was without a patrol he was by no means without a troop. He still held his position of troop mascot and official target for the mirthful Silver Foxes. He was a whole patrol in himself and held his own against raillery and banter, his stock of retaliatory ammunition seeming never to be exhausted.
“I can handle them with both hands tied behind my back,” he boasted, which is readily enough believed since it was mainly his tongue that he used.
But recruits did not flock to Pee-wee’s standard. Perhaps this was partly because of the fall and winter season when the lure of camping and roughing it was in abeyance. Perhaps it was because he was so small that boys were fain to think that scouting was a thing for children and beneath their dignity.
Once or twice during the winter, Pee-wee piloted some half-convinced and bashful subject to the troop-room, which was an old railroad car (of fond memory) down by the river. Here, in the cosy warmth of the old cylinder stove, the troop played checkers and read and jollied Pee-wee, which was about all there was to do on winter nights. The visitors, unimpressed with these makeshift diversions of the off season, did not return, and so the good old springtime found Pee-wee still a scout indeed (with something left over) but a scout without a patrol.
And now the sturdy little missionary began to feel this keenly. Patrol spirit is usually not much in evidence during the winter; the several divisions of a troop intermingle and form a sort of club in which an odd member is quite at home. But with the coming of spring the patrol spirit becomes aroused. It is a case of “united we stand, divided we sprawl,” as Roy Blakeley was fond of saying. Each patrol goes separately about its preparations for camping and hiking, does its shopping, repairs its tents, denounces and ridicules its associate patrols, and troop unity gives way somewhat to patrol unity. This is well and as it should be.
It was very much so with the well organized Bridgeboro troop. With the first breath of spring the Ravens became Ravens, the Elks foregathered and were Elks and nothing else, and the Silver Foxes began a series of exclusive meetings at Camp Solitaire under a big shady elm on Roy’s lawn.
The Silver Foxes, imbibing the mirthful spirit of their leader, were all pretty much alike, and the Ravens were thankful that they were not like them, and the Elks congratulated themselves that they had more pep than the Ravens. “The Elks say the Ravens are no good and the Ravens say the Elks are no good and they’re both right; we should worry,” said Roy. “There’s one good thing about the Elks and that is that they’re not Ravens, and there’s one good thing about the Ravens and that is that they’re not Elks. They both have everything to be thankful for if not more so. They’re in luck.”