The Black Wolf Pack
BLACK WOLF PACK
NATIONAL SCOUT COMMISSIONER, B.S.A.
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
[iv]Copyright, 1922, by
CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS
Copyright, 1922, by BOYS’ LIFE
Printed in the United States of America
All rights reserved. No part of this book
may be reproduced in any form without
the permission of Charles Scribner’s Sons
BELMORE and FRED
(BELMORE BROWNE)(FREDERICK K. VREELAND)
NO BETTER WILDERNESS MEN EVER
After numerous visits to a number of remoteand unfrequented places in the RockyMountains, from Wyoming to Alberta, thewriter was deeply impressed with the awesomemystery of the wilderness and the weirdlegends he heard around the camp fires,while the bigness of the things he saw wasphotographed on his brain so distinctly andpermanently as to act as a compelling forcecausing him, aye, almost forcing him to writeabout it.
When the spell came upon him, like theAncient Mariner, he needs must tell the story,and thus the tale of the Black Wolf Pack waswritten with no thought, at the time, ofpublishing the narrative, but primarily forthe real enjoyment the author derived fromwriting it, and also for the entertainment ofthe author’s family and intimate friends.
[viii]The tale, however, pleased the members ofthe Editorial Board of the Boy Scouts ofAmerica, and Mr. Franklin K. Mathiews,Chief Scout Librarian, asked permission tohave it edited for the Scout Magazine, whichrequest was cheerfully granted.
The author hereby freely and cheerfullyacknowledges the useful changes and practicalsuggestions injected into the story by hisfriend and associate, Mr. Irving Crump,Editor of Boys’ Life, in which magazine theBlack Wolf Pack, in somewhat abbreviatedform, first appeared.
June 1st, 1922.
The Black Wolf Pack
It was a terrible shock to me (said theScoutmaster as he fingered a beaded buckskinbag). Old Blink Broosmore was responsible.It was a malicious thing for him to do.He meant it to be mean, too,—wanted tohurt me,—to wound my feelings and makeme ashamed. And all because he nursed agrudge against dad—I mean Mr. Crawford.
It started because of that defective spark-plugin the engine of the roadster. Strangewhat a tiny thing such as a crack in a porcelainjacket around an old spark-plug can do in theway of changing the course of a fellow’s wholelife.
My last period in the afternoon at highschool was a study period and I cut it becauseI had several things to do down town. Ihurried home and took the roadster, and onmy way out mother—I mean Mrs. Crawford—gaveme an armful of books to return to thelibrary and a list of errands she wanted me todo. While motoring down town I noticedthat one cylinder was missing occasionallyand I told myself I would change that spark-plugas soon as I got home.
I made all the stops I had planned andeven drove around to the church because Iwanted to look in at the parish house wheresome of my scouts (I was the assistant scoutmasterof Troop 6, of Marlborough) wereputting up decorations for the very firstFathers and Sons dinner ever given which wewere to have on Washington’s birthday.That was in 1911.
As I was leaving I looked at my new wristwatch and discovered that it was a quarterof five.
“Just in time to catch dad and drive himhome from the office,” I said to myself, forI knew that he left the office of his big paper-milldown at the docks at five o’clock.
I jumped into the car and bowled alongdown Spring Street and the Front Street hilland arrived at the mill office at exactly five.Dad wasn’t in sight so I decided to turn aroundand wait for him at the curb. That is howthe trouble started. I got part way aroundon the hill when that cylinder began missinga lot and next thing I knew the motor stalledand there was I with my car crosswise on thehill, blocking traffic—and traffic is heavy onFront Street hill about five o’clock, becauseall the mills are rushing their trucks down tothe piers with the last loads of merchandisebefore the down-river boats leave, at sixo’clock.
In about two minutes I was holding up aline of trucks a block long and those driverswere saying a lot of things that were not verycomplimentary to me and not printed inSunday-school papers. And old Blink Broosmorewas right up at the head of the linewith a truck load of cases from the box factoryand the look on his face was about as uglyas a mud turtle’s. Then, to make mattersworse, my starter wouldn’t work at thecritical moment, and I had to get out to crankthe engine. What a howl of indignation wentup from those stalled truck drivers! I feltlike a bad two-cent piece in a drawer full offive-dollar gold pieces. Guess my face wasred behind my ears.
And then old Blink made the unkindestremark of all—no, he didn’t make it to me;he just yelled it out to a couple of other truck-drivers.
“That’s what happens with these make-believedudes,” he shouted. “That’s thekid old Skin Flint Crawford took out of anorphan asylum. He’s a kid that oldCrawford took up with because he was toomean t’ have t’ Lord bless him with one o’his own. That’s straight, fellers. I wasCrawford’s gardener when it happened an’—”
Old Blink stopped and got red and thenwhite, and I could see the other truck menlooking uncomfortable. I looked up andthere was Dad Crawford on the curb boringholes into Blink with those cold gray eyes ofhis and looking as white as marble. No onesaid a word. It seemed as if the whole streetbecame hushed and silent. I got the cararound to the curb somehow and dad got inand the line of trucks trundled by with everydriver looking straight ahead and some ofthem grinning nervously and apparently feelingmighty uncomfortable.
But that wasn’t a patch to the way I felt,and I could see by the lack of color and setexpression of dad’s face and the way he staredstraight ahead of him without saying a wordthat he was feeling very unhappy about it too.There was something behind it all—somethingthat raised in my mind vague doubts andvery unpleasant thoughts.
Dad never spoke a word all the way home,and, needless to say, I did not either—Icouldn’t; my whole world seemed to have beenturned upside down in the space of half anhour. Was it true that I was not DonaldCrawford? Was it possible that AlexanderCrawford, this fine, big, broad-shouldered,kindly man beside me was not my real father?Was it a fact that that noble, generous, happywoman whom I called mamma was not mymother at all? Each of those questions tookshape in my mind and each was like a stabin the heart, for Blink Broosmore had answeredthem all, and Alexander Crawford, though hemust know how anxious I was to have Blinkdenied, did not speak to refute him.
We rolled up the drive and dad steppedout, still silent, but he did smile wistfully atme as he closed the car door.
“Put it away, Don, and hurry in for dinner,”he said and I felt certain I detected a breakin his voice. I felt sorry—sorry for him andsorry for myself, and as I put the car in thegarage, I had a hard time trying to see thingsclearly; my eyes would get blurred and a lumpwould get into my throat in spite of me.
As I dressed for dinner I felt half dazed.I hardly realized what I was doing, and I hadto stop and pull myself together before Istarted downstairs to the dining room, forI knew if I did not have myself well in hand Iwould blubber like a big chump.
Mother and dad were waiting for me andI could see by mother’s sad expression andthe troubled look in her eyes that dad hadtold her of the whole occurrence. And thatonly added to my unhappiness because Ifelt for a certainty that all that Blink Broosmorehad shouted must be true.
For the first time in my memory dadforgot to say grace, and none of us ate withany apparent relish and none of us tried tomake conversation. It was a painful sort ofa meal and I wanted to have it over with as soonas I could. It seemed hours before Noracleared the table and served dad’s demi-tasse.
I guess I then looked him full in the eyesfor the first time since the occurrence onFront Street.
“That was a very unkind thing for BlinkBroosmore to do,” said dad, and I knew bythe firmness and evenness of his voice thathe had gained full control of his feelings.
“Is—is—oh, did he tell the truth, dad?”I gulped helplessly and for the life of me Icould not keep back the tears.
“Unfortunately, Donald, there is justenough truth in it to make it hurt,” said dadand I could see mother wince as if she hadbeen struck, and turn away her face.
“They why—why? Oh! who am I?” Icried, for the whole thing had completelyunnerved me.
“Don dear, we do not know to a certainty,”said mother struggling with her emotions.
“But now that you are partly aware of thesituation, I think there is a way you can findout, at least as much as we know,” said dad,getting up and going into the library.
Through the doorway I could see himfumbling at the safe that he kept there besidethe desk. Presently he drew out a batteredand dented red tin box and a bundle of papers.These he brought into the dining room andlaid on the table. Then he drew up a chair,cleared his throat, rather loudly it seemed tome, and began.
“Don, we always wanted a child, and whythe Lord never blessed us with one of our ownwe do not know. Anyway, we wanted oneso badly that we decided to adopt one. Thatwas seventeen years ago, wasn’t it, mother?”
“Doctor Raymond, the physician at thecounty institution, knew our desires and,being an old friend of the family, he volunteeredto find us a good healthy baby that wecould adopt and call our own. Not a weeklater you appeared on the scene. Dr. Raymondtold us that a wagon drawn by a raw-bonedhorse, and loaded with householdgoods, drew up to the orphanage and a tiredand worn-out looking old lady got out with alusty year old child in one arm and this boxand these papers under the other.
“At the office of the asylum she explainedhow she and her husband were moving froma Connecticut town to a little farm they hadbought in Pennsylvania. Somewhere at acrossroad near Derby, Connecticut, they hadfound the baby and this box and bundle ofpapers in a basket under a bush with a cardattached to the basket requesting that thefinder adopt and take care of the baby.
“Of course, they could not pass the infantby, but the woman explained that they weretoo poor and too old to adopt the child so theyhad gone miles out of their way to find anorphanage and leave the baby there, alongwith the box and papers.
“When Dr. Raymond heard the story andsaw you, for you were the baby, he got me onthe telephone and told me all about you.And that night he brought you here, andyou were such a chubby, bright, interestinglittle fellow that mother