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The two fellows were sound asleep when we turned out. They were lying in the sun, rolled up and with their faces covered to keep the light away. We didn’t pay any attention to them, but had our wet rub and went ahead attending to camp duties. After a while one of them (Walt, it was) turned over, and wriggled, and threw the blanket off his face, and blinked about. He was bleary-eyed and sticky-faced, as if he had slept too hard but not long enough. And I didn’t see how he had had enough air to breathe.

But he grinned, and yawned, and said: “You kids get up awful early. What time is it?”

“Six o’clock.”

He-haw! And he yawned some more. Then he sat up and let his blanket go and kicked Bat. “Breakfast!” he shouted.

That made Bat grunt and grumble and wriggle; and finally uncover, too. They acted as if their mouths might taste bad, after the pipes.

We hadn’t made a big fire, of course; but breakfast was about ready, on the little fire, and Fitz our cook sang out, according to our regulations: “Chuck!”

That was the camp’s signal call.

“If you fellows want to eat with us, draw up and help yourselves,” invited General Ashley.

“Sure,” they answered; and they crawled out of their blankets, and got their pieces of bark, and opened their knives, and without washing their faces or combing their hair they fished into the dishes, for bacon and bread and sorghum and beans.

That was messy; but we wanted to be hospitable, so we didn’t say anything.

“Where are you kids bound for, anyway?” asked Bat.

“Over the Divide,” told General Ashley.

“Why can’t we go along?”

That staggered us. They weren’t our kind; and besides, we were all Boy Scouts, and our party was big enough as it was. So for a moment nobody answered. And then Walt spoke up.

“Aw, we won’t hurt you any. What you afraid of? We aren’t tenderfeet, and we’ll do our share. We’ll throw in our grub and we won’t use your dishes. We’ve got our own outfit.”

“I don’t know. We’ll have to vote on that,” said General Ashley. “We’re a Patrol of Boy Scouts, traveling on business.”

“What’s that Boy Scouts?” demanded Bat.

We explained, a little.

“Take us in, then,” said Walt. “We’re good scouts ain’t we, Bat?”

But they weren’t. They didn’t know anything about Scouts and Scouts’ work.

“We could admit you as recruits, on the march,” said General Ashley. “But we can’t swear you in.”

“Aw, we’ll join the gang now and you can swear us in afterwards,” said Bat.

“Well,” said General Ashley, doubtfully, “we’ll take a vote.”

We all drew off to one side, and sat in council. It seemed to me that we might as well let them in. That would be doing them a good turn, and we might help them to be clean and straight and obey the laws. Boys who seem mean as dirt, to begin with, often are turned into fine Scouts.

“Now we’ll all vote just as we feel about it,” said General Ashley. “One black-ball will keep them out. ‘N’ means ‘No’; ‘Y’ means ‘Yes.’”

The vote was taken by writing with a pencil on bits of paper, and the bits were put into General Ashley’s hat. Everything was “Y” and the vote was unanimous to let them join. So everybody must have felt the same about it as I did.

General Ashley reported to them. “You can come along,” he said; “but you’ve got to be under discipline, the same as the rest of us. And if you prove to be Scouts’ stuff you can be sworn in later. But I’m only a Patrol leader and I can’t swear you.”

“Sure!” they cried. “We’ll be under discipline. Who’s the boss? You?”

We had made a mistake. Here started our trouble. But we didn’t know. We thought that we were doing the right thing by giving them a chance. You never can tell.

They volunteered to wash the dishes, and went at it; and we let them throw their blankets and whatever else they wanted to get rid of in with the packs. We were late; and anyway we didn’t think it was best to start in fussing and disciplining; they would see how Scouts did, and perhaps they would catch on that way. Only

“You’ll have to cut that out,” ordered General Ashley, as we were ready to set out. He meant their pipes. They had stuck them in their mouths and had lighted them.

“What? Can’t we hit the pipe?” they both cried.

“Not with us,” declared the general. “It’s against the regulations.”

“Aw, gee!” they complained. “That’s the best part of camping to load up the old pipe.”

“Not for a Scout. He likes fresh air,” answered General Ashley. “He needs his wind, too, and smoking takes the wind. Anyway, we’re traveling through the enemy’s country, and a pipe smells, and it’s against Scout regulations to smoke.”

They stuffed their pipes into their pockets.

“Who’s the enemy?” they asked.

“We’re carrying a message and some other boys are trying to stop us. That’s all.”

“We saw some kids, on the other side of that ridge,” they cried. “They’re from the same town you are. Are they the ones?”

“What did they look like?” we asked.

“One was a big kid with black eyes ” said Bat.

“Aw, he wasn’t big. The big kid had blue eyes,” interrupted Walt.

“How many in the party?” we asked.

“Four,” said Bat.

“Five,” said Walt.

“Any horses?”


“What were the brands?”

“We didn’t notice,” they said.

“Was one horse a bay with a white nose, and another a black with a bob tail?”

“Guess so,” they said.

So we didn’t know much more than we did before; we could only suspect. Of course, there were other parties of boys camping, in this country. We weren’t the only ones. If Bat and Walt had been a little smart they might have helped us. They didn’t use their eyes.

We followed the ridge we were on, as far as we could, because it was high and free from brush. General Ashley and Major Henry led, as usual, with the burros behind (those burros would follow now like dogs, where there wasn’t any trail for them to pick out), and then the rest of us, the two recruits panting in the rear. Bat had belted on his big six-shooter, and Walt carried the shotgun.

We traveled fast, as usual, when we could; that gave us more time in the bad places. Pilot Peak stuck up, beyond some hills, ahead. We kept an eye on him, for he was our landmark, now that we had broken loose from trails. He didn’t seem any nearer than he was the day before.

The ridge ended in a point, beyond which was a broad pasture-like meadow, with the creek winding in a semicircle through it. On across was a steep range of timber hills and Pilot Peak and some other peaks rose beyond, with snow and rocks. In the flat a few cattle were grazing, like buffalo, and we could see an abandoned cabin which might have been a trapper’s shack. It was a great scene; so free and peaceful and wild and gentle at the same time.

We weren’t tired, but we halted by the stream in the flat to rest the burros and to eat something. We took off the packs, and built a little fire of dry sage, and made tea, while Sally and Apache took a good roll and then grazed on weeds and flowers and everything. This was fine, here in the sunshine, with the blue sky over and the timber sloping up on all sides, and the stream singing.

After we had eaten some bread and drunk some tea we Scouts rested, to digest; but Bat and Walt the two recruits loafed off, down the creek, and when they got away a little we could see them smoking. On top of that, they hadn’t washed the dishes. So I washed them.

After a while they came back on the run, but they weren’t smoking now. “Say!” they cried, excited. “We found some deer-tracks. Let’s camp back on the edge of the timber, and to-night when the deer come down to drink we’ll get one!”

That was as bad as shooting grouse. It wasn’t deer season. They didn’t seem to understand.

“Against the law,” said General Ashley. “And we’re on the march, to go through as quick as we can. It’s time to pack.”

“I’ll pack one of those burros. I’ll show you how,” offered Bat. So we let them go ahead, because they might know more than we. They led up Sally, while Major Henry and Jed Smith and Kit Carson began to pack Apache. The recruits threw on the pack, all right, and passed the rope; but Sally moved because they were so rough, and Bat swore and kicked her in the stomach.

“Get around there!” he said.

“Here! You quit that,” scolded Fitzpatrick, first. “That’s no way to treat an animal.” He was angry; we all were angry.

“It’s the way to treat this animal,” retorted Bat. “I’ll kick her head off if she doesn’t stand still. See?”

“No, you won’t,” warned General Ashley.

“If you can pack a burro so well, pack her yourself, then,” answered Walt.

“Fitzpatrick, you and Jim Bridger help me with Sally,” ordered the general; and we did. We threw the diamond hitch in a jiffy and the pack stuck on as if it were glued fast.

The two recruits didn’t have much more to say; but when we took up the march again they sort of sulked along, behind. We thought best to follow up the creek, through the flat, instead of making a straight climb of the timber beyond. That would have been hard work, and slow work, and you can travel a mile in the open in less time than you can travel half a mile through brush.

A cattle trail led up through the flat. This flat closed, and then opened by a little pass into another flat. We saw plenty of tracks where deer had come down to the creek and had drunk. There were tracks of bucks, and of does and of fawns. Walt and Bat kept grumbling and talking. They wanted to stop off and camp, and shoot.

Pilot Peak was still on our left; but toward evening the trail we were following turned off from the creek and climbed through gooseberry and thimbleberry bushes to the top of a plateau, where was a park of cedars and flowers, and where was a spring. General Ashley dug in with his heel, and we off-packs, to camp. It was a mighty good camping spot, again. The timber thickened, beyond, and there was no sense in going on into it, for the night. Into the heel mark we stuck the flagstaff.

We went right ahead with our routine. The recruits had a chance to help, if they wanted to. But they loafed. There was plenty of time before sunset. The sun shone here half an hour or more longer than down below. We were up pretty high; some of the aspens had turned yellow, showing that there had been a frost, already. So we thought that we must be up about ten thousand feet. The stream we followed had flowed swift, telling of a steep grade.

Fitzpatrick the Bad Hand got out his camera, to take pictures. He never wasted any time. Not ordinary camp pictures, you know, but valuable pictures, of animals and sunsets and things. Jays and speckled woodpeckers were hopping about, and a pine-squirrel sat on a limb and scolded at us until he found that we were there to fit in and be company for him. One side of the plateau fell off into rocks and cliffs, and a big red ground-hog was lying out on a shelf in the sunset, and whistling his call.

Fitz was bound to have a picture of him, and sneaked around, to stalk him and snap him, close. But just as he was started “Bang!” I jumped three feet; we all jumped. It was that fellow Bat. He had shot off his forty-five Colt’s, at the squirrel, and with it smoking in his hand he was grinning, as if he had played a joke on us. He hadn’t hit the squirrel, but it had disappeared. The ground-hog disappeared, the jays and the woodpeckers flew off, and after the report died away you couldn’t hear a sound or see an animal. The gun had given notice to the wild life to vacate, until we were gone. And where that bullet hit, nobody could tell.

Fitzpatrick turned around and came back. He knew it wasn’t much use trying, now. We were disgusted, but General Ashley was the one to speak, because he was Patrol leader.

“You ought not to do that. Shooting around camp isn’t allowed,” he said. “It’s dangerous, and it scares things away.”

“I wanted that squirrel. I almost hit him, too,” answered Bat.

“Well, he was protected by camp law.”

“Aw, all you kids are too fresh,” put in Walt, the other. “We’ll shoot as much as we please, or else we’ll pull out.”

“If you can’t do as the rest of us do, all right: pull,” answered the general.

“Let them. We don’t want them,” said Major Henry. “We didn’t ask them in the first place. What’s the sense in carrying a big revolver around, and playing tough!”

“That will do, Henry,” answered the general. “I’m talking for the Patrol.”

“Come on, Walt. We’ll take our stuff and pull out and make our own camp,” said Bat. “We won’t be bossed by any red-headed kid or any one-armed kid, either.” He was referring to the gun and to the burro packing, both.

Major Henry began to sputter and growl. A black-eyed boy is as spunky as a red-headed one. And we all stood up, ready, if there was to be a fight. But there wasn’t. It wasn’t necessary. General Ashley flushed considerably, but he kept his temper.

“That’s all right,” he said. “If you can’t obey discipline, like the rest, you don’t camp with us.”

“And we don’t intend to, you bet,” retorted Walt. “We’re as good as you are and a little better, maybe. We’re no tenderfeet!”

They gathered their blankets and their frying-pan and other outfit, and they stalked off about a hundred yards, further into the cedars, and dumped their things for their own camp.

Maybe they thought that we’d try to make them get out entirely, but we didn’t own the place; it was a free camp for all, and as long as they didn’t interfere with us we had no right to interfere with them. We made our fire and they started theirs; and then I was sent out to hunt for meat again.

I headed away from camp, and I got one rabbit and a great big ground-hog. Some people won’t eat ground-hog, but they don’t know what is good; only, he must be cleaned right away. Well, I was almost at camp again when “Whish! Bang!” somebody had shot and had spattered all around me, stinging my ear and rapping me on the coat and putting a couple of holes in my hat. I dropped flat, in a hurry.

“Hey!” I yelled. “Look out there! What you doing?”

But it was “Bang!” again, and more shot whizzing by; this time none hit me. Now I ran and sat behind a rock. And after a while I made for camp, and I was glad to reach it.

I was still some stirred up about being peppered, and so I went straight to the other fire. The two fellows were there cleaning a couple of squirrels.

“Who shot them?” I asked.


“And he nearly filled me full of holes, too,” I said. “Look at my hat.”

“Who nearly filled you full of holes?” asked Walt.

“You did.”

“Aw, I didn’t, either. I wasn’t anywhere near you.”

“You were, too,” I answered, hot. “You shot right down over the hill, and when I yelled at you, you shot again.”

Walt was well scared.

“’Twasn’t me,” he said. “I saw you start out and I went opposite.”

“Well, you ought to be careful, shooting in the direction of camp,” I said.

“Didn’t hurt you.”

“It might have put my eyes out, just the same.” And I had to go back and clean my game and gun. We had a good supper. The other fellows kept to their own camp and we could smell them smoking cigarettes. With them close, and with news that another crowd was out, we were obliged to mount night guard.

There was no use in two of us staying awake at the same time, and we divided the night into four watches eight to eleven, eleven to one, one to three, three to five. The first watch was longest, because it was the easiest watch. We drew lots for the partners who would sleep all night, and Jed Smith and Major Henry found they wouldn’t have to watch. We four others would.

Fitz went on guard first, from eight to eleven. At eleven he would wake Carson, and would crawl into Carson’s place beside of General Ashley. At one Carson would wake me, and would crawl into my place where I was alone. And at three I would wake General Ashley and crawl into his place beside Fitz again. So we would disturb each other just as little as possible and only at long intervals.

It seemed to me that I had the worst watch of all from one to three; it broke my night right in two. Of course a Scout takes what duty comes, and says nothing. But jiminy, I was sleepy when Carson woke me and I had to stagger out into the dark and the cold. He cuddled down in a hurry into my warm nest and there I was, on guard over the sleeping camp, here in the timber far away from lights or houses or people.

The fire was out, but I could see by star shine. Low in the west was a half moon, just sinking behind the mountains there. Down in the flat which we had left coyotes were barking. Maybe they smelled fawns. Somebody was snoring. That was fatty Jed Smith. He and Major Henry were having a fine sleep. So were all the rest, under the whity tarps which looked ghostly and queer.

And I went to sleep, too!

That was awful, for a Scout on guard. I don’t know why I couldn’t keep awake, but I couldn’t. I tried every way. I rubbed my eyes, and I dipped water out of the spring and washed my face, and I dropped the blanket I was wearing, so that I would be cold. And I walked in a circle. Then I thought that maybe if I sat down with the blanket about me, I would be better off. So I sat down. If I could let my eyes close for just a second, to rest them, I would be all right. And they did close and when I opened them I was sort of toppled over against the tree, and was stiff and astonished and it was broad morning and I hadn’t wakened General Ashley!

I staggered up as quick as I could. I looked around. Things seemed to be O. K. and quiet and peaceful but suddenly I missed the flags, and then I missed the burros!

Yes, sir! The flagstaff was gone, leaving the hole where it had been stuck. And the burros were gone, picket ropes and all! The place where they ought to be appeared mighty vacant. And now I sure was frightened. I hustled to the camp of the two boys, Bat and Walt, and they were gone. That looked bad.

My duty now was to arouse our camp and give the alarm, so I must wake General Ashley. You can imagine how I hated to. I almost was sore because he hadn’t waked up, himself, at three o’clock, instead of waiting for me and letting me sleep.

But I shook him, and he sat up, blinking. I saluted. “It’s after four o’clock,” I reported, “and I slept on guard and the flags and the burros are gone.” And then I wanted to cry, but I didn’t.