Meanwhile, at Pioneer Camp, Lieutenant Denmead was giving similar daily instruction to the troop, with frequent brief trips for practical demonstration. He had not thought it best to ask that more of the scouts might assist in the railroad survey, fearing that they would hinder the trained workers. But Rawson and the boys were to give the rest a detailed report of their work on their return to camp.
AWAITING A DECISION
While these important operations were in full swing, Dr. Kane brought Mrs. Kenyon home, completely cured and inexpressibly glad and grateful. Her return, although hailed with rejoicing by Ralph, upset the decidedly masculine housekeeping arrangements which he and his friends had established during her absence.
Mrs. Kenyon could find no fault with the neat and clean condition of the house, nor with the way the dishes were washed and placed in order on the shelves. She was, however, considerably surprised, not to say startled, at the culinary efforts of her son and his guests, and she declared she could not understand "how anyone can sleep in those beds, the rough-and-tumble way they're made!" But after making them properly, she realized that there were now not enough beds to go round. Hence Ralph and Blake for two nights slept in the hayloft in the barn.
The railroad surveyors returned to Oakvale in due time, having fully established the previous survey which Ralph's father had caused to be made. There could be no further dispute now over the boundary lines, and "Old Man Perkins' claim hadn't a leg to stand on," as Tom Walsh expressed it, when the report was read to him. Nothing remained now but to await the decision of the railroad officials as to whose property they would buy.
The three lads, Ralph and Tom and Blake, had gained some valuable experience in their work with the surveying squad. Toward the end, Ralph had been able to go about with the others everywhere except on the stony slopes of the hills, where the walking was difficult. His work on the garden patches completed, he had a brief interval of welcome leisure to spend with his helpful guests.
"Well, boys, I guess we'll start for camp to-morrow, if Joe turns up to guide us," Rawson said the evening after the survey was completed. "Why don't you come with us, Ralph? I'm sure your mother can spare you for a few days, and we'd all be delighted to have you make us a visit at camp."
"Yes, you bet we would!" added Blake. "You'll come, Ralph, won't you?" Tom asked in his quiet, cordial way.
"What do you say, mother?" said Ralph.. "Can you—-I mean, won't you be glad to be rid of me for a few days and have Aunt Sarah make you a visit here?"
"Not glad to be rid of you, son," returned Mrs. Kenyon, smiling fondly. "But I wish you would go! It would be real fun for you. Your aunt is coming surely, so. I shan't be lonely at all. Go along, like a good boy."
"All right, I will. Thanks for inviting me, Mr. Rawson."
Thus it was arranged that Ralph should accompany them on a hike through the backwoods that extended for many miles between his farm and Pioneer Lake, southward. Earlier than usual he rose next morning and attended thoroughly to the chores; then, after a hearty breakfast, the four hikers bade Mrs. Kenyon good-bye and set out for a place in the woods where Joe was to meet them. This place was at the lower extremity of a small lake called Placid, which was cupped in the hills about two miles from the farm.
"We'll play we're prospectors and look for signs of iron deposits on your land, as we go along," said Rawson.
They went steadily on for over an hour, pausing only to test inviting rocks with their hammers and to allow Tom to take some photos of birds and plants. Unfortunately the foxes' den appeared to be deserted that spring, and Ralph felt a pang of regret at the thought that perhaps the foxes that usually took up their abode there had fallen victims to his traps. "I hope I won't have to set any more traps for the wild creatures of the woods and streams," he said to himself. "I see now it's much better sport to get snapshots of them."
Presently the glitter of the little lake among the trees attracted them, and they pushed on through the thickets down to the shore.
"Wonder if it's too cold for a swim?" said Tom, eagerly.
"A quick plunge won't do us any harm," assented Rawson. "Shall we try it, boys?".
All were heartily in favor of the idea. In a few minutes they had stripped off their clothes and waded into the water.
"Don't go far out!" cautioned the young Scout Master. "The water's none too warm at this time of year, and anyone of us might get a cramp suddenly without a moment's warning."
While the boys amused themselves by racing close to the shore, he swam ahead of them, but no further out. Rounding a wooded point that jutted out into the lake, he found, to his surprise, that he was facing Loon Island. He had no idea that he had come so far. The boys were not in sight, but their shouts and laughter assured him that they were all right, obeying his instructions; so he struck out toward the little island. A few vigorous strokes brought him to the shore—-he could almost have waded across from the point—-and he climbed upon a rock and sat in the warm sunshine. How delicious it felt on his body! What fun to stretch his muscles in the exercise which he liked best of all—-swimming!
"Nothing to equal the first dip of the season!" said the young man, half aloud. "I feel like a schoolboy in a pond!"
All at once his quick ear caught the faint splash of a paddle close at hand, and he sat motionless on the rock, and waited. The sound grew more distinct, and presently a canoe, manned by a solitary individual, came into sight around the shore of the island. Rawson uttered an exclamation of surprise, for the man was "Injun Joe."
Bareheaded and stripped to the waist, his thick blue-black hair tousled in the breeze, his lean, muscular, lithe torso gleaming like bronze in the sunlight, Joe paddled with a strong, swift stroke which sent the light craft dancing over the water. As he approached the rock on which George was seated he moderated his speed, and swerved toward a strip of beach. For a moment he hesitated, holding the canoe still by extending the paddle flat out on the water; then he headed straight for a safe landing between two boulders.
Five minutes passed—-ten. Still George waited, watching a little spiral of smoke curl up into the air. Then the canoe came into sight again, bobbing gently away from the island. Now it was empty.
"Hello! He's not in it!" Rawson exclaimed, shading his eyes with one hand. "The canoe has floated away with his clothes! He'll have to swim for it!"
In another moment he saw Joe scramble up on one of the boulders, fling off his remaining clothes, and dive into the water in pursuit of the flighty craft. Reaching it, the Indian did not climb aboard, but swam back to shore, pushing it in front of him. Then Rawson stepped down from his rock and slipped along the bank until he emerged from the undergrowth just where Joe was landing.
"Mighty careless of you, Joe," he said, laughing.
Startled, Joe looked around to see whence came the familiar voice. His eyes met Rawson's, and he grinned with pleasure, as soon as he had recovered from the surprise of seeing the unexpected apparition of a naked white man in those wilds. Red man and white man, children of the wild, in a state of nature, shook hands in friendly greeting. Then Rawson explained how they had been waiting for Joe to appear on the scene.
"What have you got there, Joe?" he finally asked, pointing to a brisk little fire and a pile of flat stones heating therein.
"Got heap plenty fine fish," answered Joe. "We have dinner here on island, what?"
"All right. Lend me this old canoe, and I'll go and get the boys and bring them over, while you are cooking the fish."
This was done; and when all had dressed and piled into the canoe, a jolly and hungry party gathered on the island. Joe showed them how to broil the fish on the hot stones; they brought out their sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, and milk, and all "fell to" with a keen appetite. Joe remembered seeing Ralph at the market in Oakvale, and he grunted approvingly when informed that Ralph was to be a visitor at camp.
They paddled across the lake and began the journey through the woods on the southern shore. But they had not gone far when they were overtaken by a thunderstorm, which drove them to the shelter of a cave at the base of a cliff forming one side of a broad ravine. The rain fell in torrents, mingled with hail, the thunder rolled and reverberated among the hills, and the skies were riven by vivid flashes of lightning. Within the cave, however, they were snug and dry.
"We're safe here," said Rawson, "and we'll camp here for the night."
After a long march through magnificent forests, along winding streams, up and down the sides of steep hills, the boys and their leader and the guide reached Pioneer Camp late the following afternoon.
A rousing welcome awaited them, and almost the first news they heard was that Tom Sherwood had been elected leader of the Otter patrol, during Alec Sands' absence.
Tired as he was, Tom received this information with due appreciation of the honor. He was glad to hear also that the troop was getting up a baseball game for the morrow, to be played by two teams chosen from all four patrols. In this way he hoped to be able to tell just who were the best players in his patrol and who needed coaching for future games.
As Pioneer Camp was nearer Oakvale than his farm, Ralph knew he could learn the decision of the railroad officials sooner than if he had stayed at home. He had sent word to the village postmaster, asking him to forward all letters to Pioneer Camp until further notice, and meanwhile he waited in feverish suspense. So much depended on the surveyors' report!
The second evening of Ralph's visit to Pioneer Camp was given over to verbal "examinations" on the subject of geological surveying. To create real fun in the competition, Lieutenant Denmead conducted the test like an old-fashioned spelling school. The various patrols were lined up in open opposition, and the boys were increasingly interested as one by one they missed some question and retired from the ranks in laughing confusion.
Finally the light of the campfire revealed only four up-standing contestants: Tom Sherwood and Sam Winter of the Otter patrol, Bud Morgan of the Wolves, and Blake Merton of the Hawks.
"They can't faze Blake," whispered Walter Osborne, hugging himself joyfully, as once again Blake gave a calm and sure rejoinder to the Scout Master's query.
"No wonder!" replied Don Miller. "He has had all this practical work over at Ralph Kenyon's!"
"What's the matter with Bud Morgan?" asked Arthur Cameron. "He makes me proud to be a Wolf! He has always been loony over surveying, you know."
Just at that moment Sam Winter joined the boys who were looking on at the finish.
"Welcome to the company of the honorably defeated, Sammy," called Dick Bellamy softly. "And here comes Tom!" he added. "Now it lies between Bud and Blake.—-hush! What is the Chief saying?"
"As a final test, I will ask each of these boys to write a list naming the twenty mineral specimens that Mr. Rawson has collected in the last two days," announced Lieutenant Denmead. "The list that is most nearly correct will give the troop championship for the course of study to its writer."
Profound silence fell upon the eager group around the campfire as Rawson brought out his box of specimens, with paper and pencils for the boys.
At the end of ten minutes the lists were claimed and soon after Rawson handed to the Scout Master the successful paper.
Bud Morgan had won the competition,—-and the Wolves howled in glee!
Not to be outdone, the Hawks, led by Walter Osborne and Blake Merton, lifted their voices in a shrill "Kree-kree-eee," which rose piercingly above the Wolves' "How-ooo-ooo!" Then the Otters and the Foxes added their characteristic cries to the din, and away off in the shadows where the contagion of the noise penetrated, Indian Joe gave vent to a warwhoop of delight.
"Much noise—-sound good!" he muttered to himself. "Don't know what all about. Never mind. Boys glad. See 'em go!"
The whole troop, glad indeed to have a legitimate excuse for lusty activity after the mental exercises of the evening, had jumped to their feet en masse, and, headed by the howling Wolves, were parading joyously around the campfire.
Bud Morgan was borne on the shoulders of the leaders, and there was nothing to suggest the student of rocks and rivers and undulating hills in his happy abandon to the situation.
In fact, the majority of the boys had already forgotten the contests in the temporary excitement and the uproar.
Lieutenant Denmead, after exchanging a word and a good-humored smile with his assistant, hurried to his cabin, and returned a moment later with a small volume in his hand. Then, at his signal, Mr. Rawson lifted the camp bugle, which he had secured hastily, and blew the assembly call.
At that, the boys, quite ready to quiet down again after their outburst of overflowing spirits, dropped into line with the promptness of long practice and awaited their Scout Master's word.
"Be seated, Scouts of Pioneer Camp," he directed, returning their salute and seating himself on his favorite log. "In the few minutes remaining before 'taps,' I wish to emphasize the meaning of the business and the fun of the evening. I am gratified by the interest you have shown in our field work and in these tests, but I am satisfied that we can add to the introductory knowledge that we have gained a more practical and helpful course.
"This is what I propose: First, I will give you two weeks of 'summer school' training in geology and surveying under the tutelage of a young man who is a thoroughly trained geological surveyor. He was recommended to me by my friend Mr. Brett of the B.N. and C. Railroad. The young man, Ransom Thayer, is willing to come to us on one condition. He has been technically trained, and he insists upon strict attention to the matter in hand and strict school discipline in return for his services. He has arranged a schedule of hours both for camp study and recitation and for practice in surveying, and has left ample time, also, for recreation, such as swimming and ball-playing.
"His proposition appealed to me as being both generous and just, and I had confidence enough in the Scouts of Pioneer Camp to accept it on the spot!"
A spontaneous cheer burst from the boys at this point.
"Well, tell me, do you like the idea?" urged the Scout Master smilingly.
"Now, boys, tell him!" cried Walter Osborne, springing to his feet and facing the troop.
"Let her out! Now!"
"Rah! Rah! Rah!" yelled the scouts, jumping to their feet. "Rah! Rah! Rah! Lieutenant Denmead!"
"Kree-kree-eee!" shrilled the Hawks. "How-ooo-ooo! Yap-yap-yap! Skee-eee-eee!" barked and squealed the others.
As the Scout Master raised his hand, silence fell upon the company again.
"The plan for the two weeks of study is only preliminary," the lieutenant continued. "Following that, we will organize the patrols into four squads of geological surveyors. Each squad will be given two days to make an accurate geological survey of a section previously selected and surveyed by Mr. Thayer. The scouts will note its dimensions, the quality of its soil, the height of its hills, the extent of its valleys, the growth of its vegetation, its stratified zones, its mineral deposits,—-in a word, whatever points Mr. Thayer shall designate to you in his course of study under the head of the 'geological survey,' is to be included in an accurate report, neatly recorded and finally submitted to Mr. Thayer for his marking.
"And last of all a system of 'points' will be established for the course, by which the patrols may be credited for certain accomplishments in the line of this particular training, in addition to the points won by the neatness and accuracy of the reports. The patrol winning the highest final rating will be given the title: Official Geological Surveyors to the Troop!"
As the Scout Master made this elaborate announcement in his most grandiloquent manner, the boys responded laughingly, clapping their hands appreciatively, but uttering no word.
"That is all for to-night, boys," resumed Lieutenant Denmead after a moment, "but it will give you food for thought and a subject for your dreams! Details will be posted soon, and, meanwhile, let your enthusiasm grow.
"This little book in my hand will have to keep its story to itself for to-night, as the hour is late; but to-morrow I will read to you a brief account of a national hero who found a knowledge of surveying a great help to him in his military capacity. Good night, boys."
"Good night, sir!" came the hearty response.
THE NEW PROJECT
"Well, how does it strike you, Spike,—-this idea of a summer school?" inquired Cooper Fennimore the next morning as the Foxes came back from their early dip in the lake.
"Um,—-well," replied Spike slowly, rubbing his chin as he had seen old men do when in deep thought, "how does it strike you?"
"Ex-actly right, now that I've thought it all over," responded Cooper. "At first I was enthusiastic because the Lieutenant was and because the rest took it up like wild-fire.
"Then, last night after the camp was quiet, I began to think it looked like all work and no play; like a pretty strenuous vacation after months of hard study, you know!" Cooper looked at spike and gravely winked.
"Oh, yes, you old fraud!" jeered spike, poking his chum in the ribs. "We all know that you are almost worn out with mental application!"
"But, finally," continued Cooper, doubling up slightly at the friendly nudge but giving no further attention to the interruption, "finally, I concluded that if my health could stand the strain, I would like nothing better than this nice stiff little course in ground work."
"'Ground work,' eh? Look here, Cooper, it is too early in the day to attempt a pun."
"Pun? Not at all," Cooper retorted. "Don't you know my present ambition? To-day—-whatever my aspiration may be to-morrow—-to-day I mean to fit myself for architecture and landscape gardening. And when in the misty future you see the name of Architect Cooper Fennimore, Adviser in Extra-ordinary to the President——-"
Cooper darted into the Fox-Otter cabin as Spike dashed at him again, and continued:
"———then you will remember when you studied the ground work of his profession with him!"
Their conversation was resumed a little later, when, rubbed down, clothed, and neatly brushed, the two boys responded to the mess call.
"But say, Cooper," said Spike, "were you in earnest about liking the summer school scheme and wanting to be a landscape artist?"
"I surely was, were, and am," replied Cooper, as the boys slipped into their places. "I've been watching my uncle-in-law build a house and lay out his grounds, and if I couldn't hit on a better plan than his, I'd——-"
"Dig a hole, crawl in, and pull the hole after you?" prompted Spike as Cooper paused for a comparison.
"Just about," agreed the other; and then both boys found their nearest ambitions fully met by the camp cook's incomparable bacon and eggs.
After breakfast the news was quickly circulated that no further plans were to be divulged until afternoon and that the boys were free to continue their baseball practice.
Soon by twos and three and fours, with balls, bats, and gloves, the scouts drifted over to the diamond.
"I'm mighty glad that you are in for all this study course that's coming, Ralph," said Torn Sherwood as they sauntered along.
"So am I," responded Ralph promptly. "It is more than kind of Lieutenant Denmead to ask me to remain for it. I shan't feel so green when I go to the School of Mines, you know, either, for this Mr. Thayer is a graduate and I can learn a lot from him. Then it means so much to be with you fellows! It has been a lonely place on the farm sometimes!"
"I can believe that," agreed Arthur Cameron, who had joined the boys and overheard their conversation. "Just the few days I was out there showed me what it might be."
"Come on, fellows!" urged Dick Bellamy, swinging two bats in large circles as though they were Indian clubs. "We're going to beat our best records to-day, you know!"
All this interested Ralph Kenyon immensely and for a few weeks his concern for his own personal affairs was merged with the pleasures and the novelty of the life in camp. Often he wished that he had more time to spend with these boys, who welcomed him to their fellowship, although he was not even a tenderfoot, with hearty good will and friendliness. Whatever Ralph did, work or play, he did with all his heart. He entered into the games and recreations "for all he was worth," and won the regard of his companions.
His ability as a ballplayer was no less of a surprise to them than it was to himself, for he had not played ball since his junior year in high school. His pitching proved to be clever and varied, his delivery of the horsehide sphere being as good as Tom Sherwood's—-which is no faint praise.
Early that same afternoon the boys learned that the schedule promised by the Scout Master was posted on the wall of his cabin, and that Assistant Rawson had been dispatched to Oakvale for the supplies listed in Ransom Thayer's outline for study and practice.
"The notice says that Mr. Thayer will begin work, with us at nine o'clock sharp next Monday morning," announced Don Miller of the Foxes.
He had already seen the bulletin and made some inquiries of Lieutenant Denmead, in order to coach his patrol more intelligently.
"Are there any 'points' for knowledge of trees and plants?" asked Shorty McNeil.
"I didn't read everything carefully, Shorty," replied Don, "but I do remember the word 'vegetation.' Maybe that will cover your specialty."
"I hope so," was the earnest rejoinder. "I can't do anything with the mathematical end of this stunt, I tell you right now. But leaves, and flowers, and different kinds of bark!—-they are as easy to read as print! And I would like to bring in a point or two for our patrol."
At this moment Walter Osborne approached, walking rapidly from the direction of headquarters.
"Hullo, Don," he called. "Have you seen the schedule? Great, isn't it? Brings in about all our scoutcraft up to date!"
Walter hurried on, scarcely waiting to hear Don's reply in his eagerness to overtake Blake Merton.
"I say, Blake," he began enthusiastically on reaching the fellow-hawk, "do you know that this geological survey is going to give us fine training in signaling? I hadn't realized it before, but maybe you have, because of your experience over at Ralph's."
"Yes, I was interested in the simple system the railroad men used," Blake responded. "It is an eye and hand language worth learning."
"Well, I confess that I know nothing about it. And I didn't pick up much from the work we had here while you were away. With all credit to the Lieutenant, he does not know the practical side of geological surveying, and while he interested us all, he did not give us the real stuff that we shall get with Mr. Thayer."
"True for you," responded Blake. "All the fellows felt that way after the tests last night, I guess. Those questions showed them how few facts they had really learned. It was not hard for Bud and me, because we have both had experience before now."
Meanwhile Bud Morgan himself was in the midst of a group of eager Wolves.
"You must coach us, Bud," Arthur Cameron said. "We shall miss Hugh and Billy in this, but you must see that they hear a good report of us when it is over."
"That's right," agreed the other boys.
"Let's make Bud Morgan our patrol leader until Hugh comes back," cried little Jack Durham, the recruit of last season.
"All in favor?" yelled Arthur. "Hands up!"
Hands and voices rose together and a united "How-ooo-ooo!" rent the air.
"All right, fellows, I'll do my best," said Bud Morgan as the noise stopped. "I'll try to act in Hugh's place, just as Tom Sherwood is doing for Alec, if you will all stand by!"
"We will," promised the boys.
"Then listen! Mr. Thayer is going to put us through a big course in a little time. We shan't like all the work, perhaps, but we shall each like something,—-for it touches so many things. There are the long tramps in the fresh air, the measuring of distances, the analyzing of the soil, the naming of the trees and plants, the locating of mineral deposits, and the working out of problems."
Bud paused for breath, holding one hand poised with fingers outspread, just as he had been counting them off as so many points to note.
"Now, then," he continued, "it's up to us to listen and learn,—-and to beat the other fellows to it!"
"How-ooo-ooo!" came an approving chorus.
At that moment a distant squealing told that the Otters were waxing enthusiastic, also. Down by the pier at the lakeside, Tom Sherwood had gathered his patrol,—-to which Ralph Kenyon had been added for the period of his visit.
Tom had just been explaining some facts that he had learned while with the surveyors on Ralph's farm, and even Buck Winter had shown a responsive interest.
Dick Bellamy, as usual, was keenly alive to the prospects in store, foreseeing plenty of fun as well as work.
"I'll tell you one thing, fellows," he began.
"And that's not two," interrupted Sam Winter impudently.
"Somebody, please put the lid on that youngster a minute," continued Dick, looking at Sam in well-assumed indignation. "As I was saying,—-or about to say,—-I have often wished that I knew more about the queer formations along the banks of rivers where I have gone on fishing trips. My father has always had a good deal to say about 'erosion,' and 'glacial periods' and 'stratification' and 'natural boundaries,' and I shall feel mighty proud to go back home knowing a few of 'them things,' as Injun Joe would say."
This was an unusually serious speech from the imaginative and sometimes irrepressible Dick, and the boys were correspondingly moved by it.
"Oh, if it is like that," acknowledged Sam Winter, in a different tone of voice than he had previously used, "we——-"
"We will all want to do our best," finished his brother. "I have often wondered about the same things on my tramps after photographs of animals. I've come across lots of queer formations and odd rocks and natural caves and things."
As Buck ended his remarks a little lamely, Bud Morgan hastened to say, "You fellows have the idea now,—-and mark my word: the Otters are going to win out!"
AN ILLUSTRIOUS EXAMPLE
That night the Scout Master was much gratified at the interest manifested by the boys as they assembled around the council fire. It was plain that they had all found "food for thought" in what he had told them on the previous evening. Their questions showed that they were anxious to understand how to make the most of the promised course, and that they realized it was bound to prove intensely interesting.
"Some of the boys asked me to remind you of the book you had last night," said Don Miller, coming up to Lieutenant Denmead as the latter had a moment's freedom.
"Surely! I must not forget my promise," responded the Scout Master. "See that the troop is assembled and ready, Miller, and I will secure the volume."
A few moments later the erect, impressive figure of the lieutenant faced the waiting assembly of silent scouts.
"Scouts of Pioneer Camp," he said, "among the heroes of our nation is one whose name is particularly familiar to you and to whom public honor is frequently given. His character has borne the searchlight of investigation for more than a century, and as a man of fine moral fiber and a military leader of superior judgment, he still stands preeminent. I refer, boys, to General George Washington!"
So impressive and so compelling were these words that instinctively the patrol leaders rose to their feet and stood at salute. In an instant every scout had joined them, and the Scout Master gravely returned the proffered courtesy.
At a gesture the boys sat down again, and the lieutenant, sitting so that the fire light fell steadily on the open book in his hand, began to read:
"'George Washington was not more than thirteen or fourteen years of age when he was encouraged to put his skill in mathematics into definite use by learning surveying. He applied himself so thoroughly that before long he surveyed the land about the schoolhouse which he attended. As he was the first pupil who had performed such a practical piece of work, his schoolmates were deeply interested in his exploit.'"
"'A little later, when he had advanced so far in his study as to give him some idea of the proper use and handling of the chain and compass, he began to put his knowledge into practice by taking surveys of the farms lying in the immediate neighborhood of his schoolhouse.'"
"'Assisted by his schoolmates, he would follow up and measure off the boundary lines between the farms, such as fences, roads, and water courses; then those dividing the different parts of the same farm; determining at the same time, with the help of his compass, their various courses, their crooks and windings, and the angles formed at their points of meeting or intersection. This done, he would make a map or drawing on paper of the land surveyed, whereon would be clearly traced the lines dividing the different parts with the name and number of acres of each attached, while on the opposite page he would write down the long and difficult tables of figures by which these results had been reached. All this he would execute with as much neatness and accuracy as if it had been left with him to decide thereby some gravely disputed land claim.'"
Lieutenant Denmead paused and glanced at the group of faces steadily turned toward him. Then he resumed:
"'The habit of mind thus cultivated continued through life; so that, however complicated his tasks and overwhelming his cares, he found time to do everything, and to do it well. He had acquired the magic of method, which of itself works wonders.'"
"'When about sixteen years old, George Washington was asked by his friend, Lord Fairfax, to make a survey of the latter's extensive lands, a vast territory lying between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers. He undertook the commission in the early spring, when the mountains were still white with snow and the streams had swollen into torrents. He was clad in a buckskin hunting shirt, with leggings and moccasins of the same material, the simple garb of a backwoodsman, in perfect keeping with the wildness of the scenes he had to encounter. In his broad leathern belt were stuck a long hunting-knife and an Indian tomahawk. As he rode his horse, he frequently carried in his left hand his useful compassstaff.'"
"'The enterprise upon which Washington had entered was one of romance, toil, and peril. It required the exercise of constant vigilance and sagacity. Here and there in the wilds ran narrow trails through dense thickets, over craggy hills, and along the banks of streams; but when they might lead the young surveyor into the camps of squatters or Indians, no one could tell.'"
As the Scout Master stopped again, he found the boys listening with breathless interest, and he guessed that many of them were following the explorations of Washington in imagination.
"This next paragraph," he said, "reminds me of some of our own experiences on a hike. Listen: 'My companions and I,' wrote Washington in his journal on April eighth of that year, 'camped in the woods; and after we had pitched our tent and made a large fire we pulled out our knapsacks to recruit ourselves. Every one was his own cook. Our spits were forked sticks, our plates were large chips. As for dishes, we had none.'"
"I shall read only two more brief paragraphs:"
"'Washington's success as a surveyor for Lord Fairfax called the attention of the Virginia authorities to him and to the unusual accuracy of his surveys. As a consequence, he was appointed public surveyor, deriving a discipline therefrom which was of great service to him in his later career. By making him an able civil engineer, it laid the foundation of his future eminence in a military capacity. And by making him known to the principal landholders of the State, it led to his appointment, at the age of nineteen, to the office of adjutant-general, with the rank of major. This gave him the charge of a district, with the duty of exercising the militia, inspecting their arms, and superintending their discipline.'"
"That is all, boys," concluded the Scout Master, rising and closing the volume. "But as we take up our course in surveying, with the additional interest of its geological significance, we may like to remember that we are following in the footsteps of no less a man than George Washington!"
THE RESULT OF THE SURVEYS
Promptly at nine o'clock on the following Monday morning, a clean-cut, well-knit, strong-featured young man stood before an eager-faced group of khaki-clad scouts in Pioneer Camp.
The businesslike attitude of the young instructor, Ransom Thayer, was reflected in the appearance of the boys; and from the first crisp greeting of Mr. Thayer to his curt dismissal an hour and a half later, the interest and attention of his auditors never wavered.
His first lesson emphasized the historical phase of geology; and as he talked and pointed here and there in illustration, it seemed to the boys that every stone and boulder and pebble and overhanging cliff responded with the story of its life. This crevice, that oblique angle, this smooth indentation, that rough mass,—-each marking had its significant meaning to the enthusiastic leader.
Walter Osborne said to Blake after "school" was over for the morning, "I have always felt as though the trees of the forest were alive, but now it seems to me that every rock is a breathing, changing, growing thing, too."
That afternoon Mr. Thayer led his troop afield and showed them other volumes of rock history,—-how this proved that in ages past water had forced a channel through the hills; how that gave evidences of internal disturbances, of molten masses, of slowly cooling and hardening structure.
Many of the boys had had courses in textbook geology and had gathered "specimens," but this man made all these things new and wonderful and fascinatingly interesting.
Day after day passed and still the enthusiasm grew. "Dry facts" wore absorbed unconsciously; angular diagrams of mathematical relations appeared on the big blackboard so clearly and concisely that even Shorty Mcneil ceased to dread the problems; hours were cheerfully spent at the big mess table in making out tabulated reports and drawing neat maps; and many more hours were spent with compasses and levels, telescopes and heliotropes measuring and judging distances and noting results on the hills and by the lake near camp.
"The man is a born leader and a born teacher," said Lieutenant Denmead, commenting on Mr Thayer one day "We shall hear from him yet."
All too soon the two weeks of study were over and the squad competitions were on. Then they, too, were completed and notice of the results was eagerly awaited by the four patrols.
At length the evening came when the announcements were to be made public. Mr. Thayer had accepted an invitation to be present and to make the final report.
Breathlessly the boys waited, the four leaders scarcely able to control their anxious interest, while the Scout Master, his assistant, and Mr. Thayer took their places within the circle near the council fire.
"To every one, congratulations! To the Fox patrol, points for excellence in botanical knowledge. To the Wolf patrol, points for excellence in mathematical accuracy. To the Hawk patrol, points for superior general field work. To the Otter patrol and its leader, Tom Sherwood, the title and honor, 'Official Geological Surveyors to the Troop'!"
* * * * * * *
"News! news!" cried Arthur Cameron, bursting in upon Ralph and Tom, who were sitting in the boathouse on the shore of the lake.
They had just come back from a canoe trip up the stream that flowed into Pioneer Lake, a few hours' trip during which the Indian guide who had been sent with them had taught them how to navigate rapids in a canoe. Never had Ralph enjoyed more exciting sport than shooting downstream in the swirling rapids and among the perilous rocks!
"News for me?" he asked, springing up alertly and seizing a letter Arthur handed to him. He broke the seal, tore open the envelope, and unfolded a letter bearing the heading of the B.N. and C. Railroad. "Oh, Tom, listen to this!"
"Mr. Ralph Kenyon,"
"Dear Sir: Owing to the recommendations of our official surveyors, we are prepared to make you a fair offer for the northwest quarter section of your property, to be utilized in laying a branch line of the B.N. and C. Will you kindly authorize your attorney to confer with us upon this matter, at your earliest convenience?"
"Yours very truly, Nelson R. Slater, Atty. B.N. & C. R.R."
Words cannot describe Ralph's rejoicing at this news. Vague as it was, merely suggesting, not stating any terms, he felt that it was the dawn of new hopes, a stepping-stone on the path of his long-cherished ambition.
Requesting Tom and Arthur to say nothing about it at present, he hurried to the Scout Master's cabin or office and confided the whole scheme to Denmead, who straightway drew him into a long, serious, business-like discussion of the prospect, giving him an abundance of good sound advice.
"How can I ever thank you, sir, for all your kindness in bringing me this good luck?" Ralph asked again and again, before he started for home.
"By distinguishing yourself as a student in the School of Mines and by becoming, in due time, an efficient, broad-minded leader in your scientific profession," was Denmead's only answer. "The little I've done for you, my boy, is too slight to merit thanks; but the work you may undertake is vastly important, and I want you to make a great success."
He shook Ralph's hand, laying the other on the lad's broad shoulder.
"Good-bye, for the present, Ralph," he added. "Let me know if there's anything I can do for you hereafter."
"I—-I will, sir," stammered Ralph, swallowing hard. "Thanks ever so much!"
He turned to go, for the launch was waiting at the camp's pier to take him down the lake, where Tom Walsh would meet him with his wagon and drive him home.
"I must say good-bye to the boys now," he added in a tone of regret. "I've had the time of my life here, sir, and I think camp is great!"
"One moment, Ralph. I believe Rawson has some even better news for you."
Rawson had entered and was standing in the doorway.
"Yes, I have," he replied, smiling. "I kept it from you until the last minute, because it's so good it won't spoil! Ralph, in our surveys we found abundant signs of iron deposits on your property. These have been further investigated during your visit here. Beyond a doubt there are undeveloped mines on your land, boy!"
"Then—-then father's dream—-it may come true! He always said that, always believed it! And now—-now———"
"Your lawyer will explain to you the terms of your father's will in case a mining company should be organized," continued Denmead. "Of course, I don't know what they are, but I assume that when you reach your majority you'll be the chief owner of any mine on your land, and a director in the company. Success to the future, Ralph! May health and wealth and happiness be yours!"
With a sudden boyish impulse, Ralph gave both Scout Master Denmead and George Rawson a bear-hug of sheer joy, and then he ran out to bid his other friends good-bye. Presently he was in the launch, gliding swiftly across the lake, his weeks at Pioneer Camp a memory that would linger with him always.
The events already recorded took place in the first half of the summer. Later, the regular routine of camp life was followed. No week was allowed to pass without some contest in strength, skill, or endurance. Now it was the Signalers' Game, in which the troop was split up into three divisions: the enemy, the defenders and the attackers. Again it was a stalking game, which tested the cleverness of the boys in reading signs and following trails. Often, too, there were tests in water polo, in spearing the sturgeon and in swimming diving, and paddling.
More than once Indian Joe was called upon to guide the boys on some long hike, lasting several days. At these times, the scouts had rigid training in scaling cliffs, fording streams locating points of the compass, selecting camp sites, making tents, building bonfires, cooking hasty meals,—-in the thousand and one details of the woodsman's life.
All these experiences developed a strong, healthy, happy crowd of boys, each one self-reliant and resourceful; and before the end of the summer, Lieutenant Denmead and his assistant felt that they had every reason to be proud of the scouts of Pioneer Camp. Some of the boys,—-like Hugh and Billy and Alec,—-who had been prominent in the troop activities in previous seasons, were increasingly missed.
Where they were during the late spring and early summer months is revealed in another story of this series, entitled "The Boy Scouts of the Life Saving Crew."