Tom Slade on Mystery Trail
ON MYSTERY TRAIL
PERCY KEESE FITZHUGH
TOM SLADE, BOY SCOUT, TOM SLADE AT TEMPLE
CAMP, ROY BLAKELEY, ETC.
R. EMMET OWEN
Published with the approval of
THE BOYS SCOUTS OF AMERICA
GROSSET & DUNLAP
PUBLISHERS : : New York
Made in the United States of America
Copyright, 1921, by
GROSSET & DUNLAP
|I||The Three Scouts||1|
|III||The “All But” Scout||10|
|IV||Hervey Learns Something||15|
|V||What’s in a Name?||26|
|VI||The Eagle and the Scout||31|
|VII||The Streak of Red||35|
|VIII||Eagle and Scout||38|
|IX||To Introduce Orestes||44|
|X||Off with the Old Love, on with the New||48|
|XI||Off on a New Tack||57|
|XII||As Luck Would Have It||62|
|XIII||The Strange Tracks||67|
|XVII||Hervey Goes His Way||91|
|XVIII||The Day Before||96|
|XIX||The Gala Day||102|
|XXI||The Full Salute||113|
|XXII||Tom Runs the Show||119|
|XXIII||Pee-Wee Settles It||123|
|XXIV||The Red Streak||132|
|XXV||The Path of Glory||141|
|XXVII||The Greater Mystery||152|
|XXIX||The Wandering Minstrel||161|
|XXX||Hervey makes a Promise||169|
|XXXI||Sherlock Nobody Holmes||175|
|XXXII||The Beginning of the Journey||179|
|Chapter the Last. Y-Extra! Y-Extra!||192|
ON MYSTERY TRAIL
THE THREE SCOUTS
At Temple Camp you may hear the story told of how Llewellyn, scout ofthe first class, and Orestes, winner of the merit badges forarchitecture and for music, were by their scouting skill and loreinstrumental in solving a mystery and performing a great good turn.
You may hear how these deft and cunning masters of the wood and thewater circumvented the well laid plans of evil men and coöperated withtheir brother scouts in a good scout stunt, which brought fame to thequiet camp community in its secluded hills.
For one, as you shall see, is the bulliest tracker[Pg 2] that ever picked hisway down out of a tangled wilderness and through field and over hillstraight to his goal.
And the other is a famous gatherer of clews, losing sight of nosignificant trifle, as the scout saying is, and a star scout into thebargain, if we are to believe Pee-wee Harris. I am not so sure that theten merit badges of bugling, craftsmanship, architecture, aviation,carpentry, camping, forestry, music, pioneering and signaling should beawarded this sprightly scout (for Pee-wee is as liberal with awards ashe is with gum-drops). But there can be no question as to the proprietyof the music and architecture awards, and I think that the aviationaward would be quite appropriate also.
Yet if you should ask old Uncle Jeb Rushmore, beloved manager of the bigscout camp, about these two scout heroes, a shrewd twinkle would appearin his eye and he would refer you to the boys, who would probably onlylaugh at you, for they are a bantering set at Temple Camp and wouldjolly the life out of Daniel Boone himself if that redoubtable woodsmanwere there.
Listen then while I tell you of how Tom Slade,[Pg 3] friend and brother ofthese two scouts, as he is of all scouts, assisted them, and of how theyassisted him; and of how, out of these reciprocal good turns, there cametrue peace and happiness, which is the aim and end of all scouting.
It was characteristic of Tom Slade that he liked to go off aloneoccasionally for a ramble in the woods. It was not that he liked thescouts less, but rather that he liked the woods more. It was his wont tostroll off when his camp duties for the day were over and poke around inthe adjacent woods.
The scouts knew and respected his peculiarities and preferences,particularly those who were regular summer visitors at the big camp, andfew ever followed him into his chosen haunts. Occasionally some newscout, tempted by the pervading reputation and unique negligee of UncleJeb’s young assistant, ventured to follow him and avail himself of thetips and woods lore with[Pg 5] which the more experienced scout’sconversation abounded when he wasin talkingmood. But Tom was a sort ofcreature apart and the boys of camp, good scouts that they were, did notintrude upon his lonely rambles.
The season was well nigh over at Temple Camp when this thing happened.Not over exactly, but the period of arrivals had passed and the periodof departures would begin in a day or two—as soon as the events withwhich the season culminated were over.
These were the water events, the tenderfoot carnival (not to be missedon any account) and the big affair at the main pavilion when awards wereto be made. This last, in particular, would be a gala demonstration, forMr. John Temple himself, founder of the big scout camp, had promised tobe on hand to dedicate the new tract of camp property and personally todistribute the awards.
These events would break the backbone of the camping season, highschools and grammar schools would presently beckon their reluctantconscripts back to town and city, until, in the pungent chill of autumn,old Uncle Jeb, alone among the[Pg 6] boarded-up cabins, would smoke his pipein solitude and get ready for the long winter.
It was late on Thursday afternoon. The last stroke of the last hammer,where scouts had been erecting a rustic platform outside the pavilion,had echoed from the neighboring hills. The usually still water of thelake was rippled by the refreshing breeze which heralded a coolerevening, and the first rays of dying sunlight painted the ripplesgolden, and bathed the cone-like tops of the fir trees across the lakewith a crimson glow.
Out of the chimney of the cooking shack arose the smoke of earlypromise, from which the scouts deduced various conclusions as to theprobable character of the meal which would appear in all its lusciousglory a couple of hours later.
A group of scouts, weary of diving, were strung along the springboardwhich overhung the shore. A couple of boys played mumbly-peg under thebulletin board tree. Several were playing ball with an apple, until oneof them began eating it, which put an end to the game. Half a dozen ofthe older boys, who had been at work erecting the platform, saunteredtoward the scrub shack, leav[Pg 7]ing one or two to festoon the bunting overthe stand where the colors shone as if they had been varnished by thatmaster decorator, the sun, as a last finishing touch to his swelteringday’s work. The emblem patrol sauntered over to the flag pole andsprawled beneath it to rest and await the moment of sunset. Severalcanoes moved aimlessly upon the glinting water, their occupants idlingwith the paddles. It was the time of waiting, the empty hour or twobetween the day’s end and supper-time.
Upon a rock near the lake sat a little fellow, quite alone. He was verysmall and very thin, and his belt was drawn ridiculously tight, so thatit gave his khaki jacket the effect of being shirred like the top of acloth bag. If he had been standing, he might have suggested, not alittle, the shape of an old-fashioned hour glass. A brass compassdangled around his neck on a piece of twine as if, being so small, hewas in danger of getting lost any minute. His hair was black and verystreaky, and his eyes had a strange brightness in them.
No one paid any attention to this little gnome of a boy, and he was apathetic sight sitting there[Pg 8] with his intense gaze, having just a touchof wildness in it, fixed upon the lake. Doubtless if his scout regaliahad fitted him properly he would not have seemed so pathetic, for it isnot uncommon for a scout to want to be alone in the great companionablewilderness.
Suddenly, this little fellow’s gaze was withdrawn from the lake and fellupon something which seemed to interest him right at his feet. He sliddown from the rock and examined it closely. His poor little thin figureand skinny legs were very noticeable then. But he picked up nothing,only kneeled there, apparently in a state of great excitement andelation.
Presently, he started away, looked back, as if he was afraid hisdiscovery would take advantage of his absence to steal away. Again hestarted, hurrying around the edge of the cooking shack and to the littleavenue of patrol cabins beyond. As he hurried along, the big brasscompass flopped about and sometimes banged against his belt buckle,making quite a noise. Several boys laughed as he passed them, trottingalong as if possessed by a vision. But no one stopped him or spoke tohim.[Pg 9]
In the patrol cabin where he belonged, he rooted in great haste andexcitement among the contents of a cheap pasteboard suit case andpresently pulled out a torn and battered old copy of the scout handbook.He sat down on the edge of his cot and, hurriedly looking through theindex, opened the book at page thirty. He was breathing so hard that healmost gulped, and his thin little hands trembled visibly....
THE “ALL BUT” SCOUT
In that same hour, perhaps a little earlier or later, I cannot say, TomSlade, having finished his duties for the day, strolled along the lakeshore away from camp and struck into the woods which extended northwardas far as the Dansville road.
He had no notion of where he was going; he was going nowhere inparticular. For aught I know he was going to ponder on theresponsibility which had been thrust upon him by the scout powers thatbe, of judging stalking photographs preliminary to awarding the Audubonprize offered by the historical society in his home town. Perhaps he wasunder the influence of a little pensive regret that the season wascoming to an end and wished to have this lonely part[Pg 11]ing with hisbeloved hills and trees. It is of no consequence. About all he actuallydid was to kick a stick along before him