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The Boy Scouts of the Flying Squadron by Robert Shaler

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spin aloft in an aeroplane. You may like that, if it happens that
you've never enjoyed the experience up to now."

Hugh immediately turned to the army man and expressed his pleasure.

"I've often hoped to have a chance to go up," he said, "but hardly
thought it would happen so soon. And we'll all be only too glad
to accept your invitation."

"I should say so," added Ralph.

Bud did not say a single word, and turning to ascertain why, the
officer found a smile of the "kind that won't come off" spreading
all the way across his face. It was evident that Bud was too happy
for words. He had long dreamed of spinning through the upper
currents in one of those bustling airships that are becoming more
common every day; but, like Hugh, he had not expected the golden
opportunity to be sprung upon him so soon.

As they walked along, the officer once more started to question them
regarding the two strange men who seemed to be hanging about without
any known business to keep them up in this unsettled region.

"I think you said that one of them looked in through the window of
your shack night before last, and then fled when you let him see
that he had been discovered?" he remarked to Hugh.

"Yes, and we made sure that he had been there by examining the soil
under the window. It is a part of a scout's education, you know,
sir, looking for signs. We found them, too, marks of a long narrow
shoe, that told us the man could never be a hobo but must be a
gentleman. After they had rummaged through our cabin while we were
away, we found the same marks before the door, and indenting tracks
of our own, so that proved just when the fellows must have been around."

The army officer nodded his head and laughed softly.

"I understand what you mean, son," he remarked, "and it quite tickles
me to know how clever our boys are getting under the influence of
this new scout movement. It is bound to wake up most lads and set
them to thinking for themselves, years before they would have been
aroused under the old way. And I must say I'm heartily in sympathy
with the work of the association. It's the finest thing that ever
happened for the boys of America. If I had sons, they should everyone
of them join one of your troops as soon as they were old enough."

"We forgot to tell you, sir, about hearing those two men rushing
through the dense woods and thickets just after the explosion last
night. They seemed to act as if more or less frightened; and I
guessed that they may have had a narrow escape from being struck by
your bomb."

At that, the other burst into a laugh.

"That is a rich joke," he declared. "Possibly in the excitement of
the moment, after being knocked down by the shock, they may have
suspected that we knew of their presence and were trying to
encompass their destruction. But I am glad it happened that way.
Perhaps they may have more respect for Uncle Sam's Flying Squadron
after this, and fight shy of running their heads into trouble. I'll
have the guards at the camp doubled at night time, and any straggler
will be apt to find it pretty warm around there: I'd advise all
persons who have no business at our headquarters to give the camp a
wide berth, or something not down on the bills might happen, to their
surprise and consternation as well."

"If you haven't run across these men, sir," Hugh remarked, "of course
you could hardly say who they might be."

"I can give a pretty good guess, though," came the prompt reply. "We
have been dogged by a pair of spies on former occasions, the one a
short Jap, and the other, much taller, undoubtedly a German. Both of
them happen to be famous aviators in their own countries, which was
doubtless why they were sent out to discover what the Flying Squadron
was doing up here in secret."

"I suppose their main objects would be to learn the composition of
this latest thing in explosives, and to take note of your war aeroplane,
so as to steal the improvements," Hugh went on to say, being desirous
of learning all he could while the other was in this communicative
frame of mind.

"They would actually have to examine the flier before they could learn
what it represents to the army aviation corps; and we keep it closely
guarded all the time we are not in the air. So much of a secret are
several things connected with this monoplane, that I cannot mention
them, even to such patriotic chaps as you are."

"And we don't blame you, sir, surely we don't!" exclaimed Bud promptly.
"Us inventors have to be pretty careful how we let people see what
we've struck! Lots of ideas have been stolen before now. If my
little scheme turns out what I hope it's going to, I think I'll hand
it over to the Government for use with their war aeroplanes. Wouldn't
it be just great if a pilot could give his whole attention to the job
of dropping bombs and such like, never bothering himself about the
wind currents or anything else? The little Morgan controller would
manage all such things automatically. As the saying is, you press
the button and we'll do all the rest!"

Hugh did not arouse poor Bud from this happy dream. What was the use?
Better let him have a little more pleasure out of it before
confronting him with the cold facts acts in the case. He must learn
soon enough that he was several years too late, and that those
wonderful Fathers of Aviation in America, the Wrights, had covered
the identical ground some time previous with their Fool-proof Flier.

Luckily they did not have a great distance to go. The boys, who were
staggering under their loads, could not have kept it up much longer,
and all of the little party rejoiced when the air pilot announced
that they were now within sight of their destination.

Presently they heard voices ahead. Then came a sudden whirr of

"My associate, Lieutenant Green, is going to take a little spin for
some reason or other," their escort told them. "You see, we can
reconnoiter the ground wonderfully from several hundred feet altitude;
so that we have on several occasions indulged in a flight just in
order to scout the land. We discovered your presence some time
yesterday, and were at first greatly puzzled on account of your
khaki suits. We even tried to figure out how a trio of soldiers
belonging to the Home Guard could be camping out in that way. To
tell the truth, it was not until I stood by and listened to you
talking about that hole in the forest, that I grasped the true state
of affairs."

When a large aeroplane built after the monoplane model swiftly arose
and went spinning off, Bud stared as though his whole heart was in
his gaze. He even dropped the burden he had on his back and rubbed
his eyes, as if to make sure it could not be a dream.

"So that's what you call a war aeroplane, is it?" he asked eagerly.

"The company building them for the Government meant them for that
particular purpose," Lieutenant Fosdick told him.

"Then they are different from all others, I take it?" Hugh advanced.

"In many respects," was the frank reply. "In the first place they
are much stronger than the ordinary monoplane. In case an attack
is intended on the enemy's redoubts, they may be compelled to carry
heavy loads in the shape of combustibles and explosives. Besides
that, they have the recent improvements which I mentioned before as
being secret, but which will add considerably to their effectiveness.
The wires used as guys are all heavier than customary, the motor is
stronger, and the planes better able to resist shocks. I have never
seen a Santos Dumont or a Bleriot monoplane anything equal to this
new departure."

"It's almost gone out of sight already," declared Bud with a thrill
of awe in his ambitious voice.

"Yes, although my colleague was boring upward at the time we last saw
him; but the speed of that machine is marvelous. No wonder these
foreign spies take the great chances they do, hoping to learn what
Uncle Sam is up to. If they could carry back full information
concerning the new explosive and the novel features of that splendid
monoplane, it would be worth a million dollars, yes, many times that,
to their respective governments. Germany, you know, claims to have the
best equipped corps of aviators in the world, just as she has the most
remarkable army. And Japan, too, is jealous of being left in the mad
race, so she sends out spies to learn all that is going on."

All these things were exceedingly interesting to the three scouts.
They were patriotic boys, like all scouts. Though studying the arts
of peace rather than those of cruel war, love of country was a
cardinal virtue held up constantly before their eyes by Lieutenant
Denmead. Should danger of any type menace the defenders of the flag,
boys like these would be among the first to want to enlist. The Boy
Scout movement was never intended to discourage a love of country.
And if war ever does come to the land we all love, thousands of those
who rally to her defense will be found to have once been wearers of
the khaki as Boy Scouts.

The camp of the Flying Corps was now seen ahead of them. A challenge
from a sentry and the giving of the countersign in a whisper by the
lieutenant, told the lads that they were actually in a military camp.
Of course this was not their first experience among genuine soldiers,
though those whom they once before assisted in the yearly maneuvers as
signal corps operators had properly belonged to the State militia.
These men were seasoned regulars, serving the Government in the
capacity of aviators and members of the Flying Squadron.

Lieutenant Fosdick loaned them a pair of glasses through which they
could keep track of the distant aeroplane. They saw it perform
several queer "stunts," as Bud called it, that caused them considerable

"Why, say, it turned completely over that time, just as neat as you
please!" Bud exclaimed, so interested that the others could not get
the glasses away from him again. "There she goes a second time, as
slick as anything! I've done the like from a springboard when in
swimming, but I never would have believed anybody'd have the nerve to
loop the loop three thousand feet up in the air. Oh! what if it didn't
come right-side up again! What a drop that would be!"

"Taking chances every time, and that is what our lives are made up of
mostly in the Flying Corps," the officer said grimly, with a shrug.
"Any day may see our end; but like the men who drop from balloons with
a parachute, we get so accustomed to peril that it never bothers us.
Constant rubbing up against it makes a man callous, just as working
with the hands hardens the palms."

"They seem to be heading back now," observed Ralph.

"Yes, my colleague has accomplished the object of his little flight,
which was partly to practice that turn and partly to look for any signs
of spies in the forest below. We're always thinking of interlopers,
you see, though up to the time you gave me that information concerning
the two men, I hadn't seen a trace of any watchers around. They must
have kept pretty well under cover all the time."

"And might have continued to do so, only that our coming bothered them,"
Ralph commented. "They didn't know what to make of us. We seemed to
be only boys, and yet we dressed like Uncle Sam's soldiers; and then
there was Bud trying out his aeroplane model. That must have stirred
them up some. Perhaps they thought, after all, that we might be the
ones from whom they could steal an idea well worth while."

"I wouldn't be surprised in the least," said Lieutenant Fosdick. "And
at any rate we're under heavy obligations to you boys for bringing this
important information about the spies. I'll try to make your stay here
interesting to you, in return."



"We're certainly in great luck!" Hugh said to the other two scouts, as
they stood and watched the "bug in the sky" growing larger and larger,
the monoplane being now headed for the camp.

"It nearly always happens that way, you remember," said Bud, who had
been through frequent campaigns with his leader and could look back
to many experiences that come the way of but few Boy Scouts.

Bud was probably much more excited than either of the others. This
was natural, since he had the "flying bee" largely developed and was
wild over everything that had to do with aviation.

To him, this accidental meeting with the bold members of Uncle Sam's
Flying Squadron was the happiest event of his whole life. If he had
been granted one wish, it would have covered just this same ground.

Consequently his eyes fairly devoured the approaching war monoplane,
as it swept down from dizzy heights, and prepared to land in the open
field. He watched how skilfully the air pilot handled the levers, and
how gracefully the whole affair glided along on the bicycle wheels
attached under its body, when once the ground was touched.

The scouts were soon being introduced to Lieutenant Green by the
officer whose acquaintance they had already made. The associate of
Fosdick proved to be an older man, but the boys believed that after
all their first friend must be the controlling influence of the team.
They afterwards learned that Lieutenant Fosdick was really without a
peer among army aviators; and that even abroad, where so much
attention is given to this subject, in France, Germany and England,
he was said to have no superior in his line.

As both officers expressed considerable interest in the clumsy model
of a monoplane which Bud had made, he readily consented to fly it
and to show just how his stability device worked.

This he set about doing, while the army men stood close together
and observed all his movements, now and then exchanging low words.
Of course both of them recognized the fact that poor Bud had really
hit upon the exact idea that was already being used by the Wright
firm. Bud may never have read any description of this "fool-proof"
device emanating from the brains of the Wright brothers; he had only
been unfortunate enough to think along the same lines, with the
result that he had finally reached the same conclusion.

"Break it to Bud by slow degrees that he's arrived much too late,"
said Lieutenant Fosdick to Hugh, after the exhibition had about
concluded. The young inventor was flushed with success, for his model
had worked splendidly, now that he had had more experience in
handling it.

"I feared as much when I heard about it," his colleague admitted.
"But the boy certainly deserves encouragement. He has done wonders
in making that model, and it is built on right lines. Tell him to
keep at it and not get discouraged. If he does, he will surely arrive
some day."

"I'll do all I can to encourage him," the patrol leader of the Wolves
said in reply, though at the same time he felt sorry for Bud, who
would take his disappointment very much to heart. He might throw up
the whole business under the impression that there was no use in a
boy trying to pit his wits against those of veterans and expecting to
win out.

When Bud heard that he might accompany Lieutenant Fosdick on a short
flight in the upper air, he looked so happy that Hugh concluded to
postpone his discouraging disclosure until another time.

Bud was an animated interrogation point, when once seated in the
monoplane, which, having been built for hard service, was easily
capable of carrying even two passengers when necessary.

He wanted to know all about the various parts, which he examined with
trembling fingers. It seemed almost too good to be true that he was
actually going to be taken up in a Government war plane, and by so
skilful an aviator as Lieutenant Fosdick.

The army officer made sure to secure his young passenger with a safety
belt. He might scorn such devices himself, but there was always more
or less risk to an inexperienced air traveler, and he did not wish to
take unnecessary chances. This lad had folks at home to whom his life
must be very precious. He was only a boy, to be sure, but ere long
he would reach man's estate. And in this country of ours, who can
say what the future holds for any lad? Years ago, who among his
school companions on Mt. Auburn, in Cincinnati, would have dreamed
that in the course of time clumsy, good-natured Billy Taft would for
a period of four years occupy the Presidential chair at Washington,
and be looked upon as the foremost man in all the wide world?

Hugh and Ralph kept tabs of every little thing that was done. They
found themselves sharing Bud's enthusiasm for the subject of aviation,
and they, too, were promised a ride with the officer after his return.

At a given signal, the start was made. The big monoplane rushed along
the ground, wobbling somewhat because of inequalities in the surface
of the field. After it had gone a certain distance, it was seen to
leave the earth gradually, as the pilot changed the conditions in
respect to planes and rudder.

"Oh! see how she rises, for all the world like a graceful bird!"
exclaimed Ralph. "I've never been so close to an aeroplane before,
and I tell you, Hugh, I can mighty easily see how it makes a fellow
wild to embark in the business."

"Well, there will be some years pass before anyone of us reaches an
age to decide what our future may be," Hugh replied; "and before that
time comes, even Bud, crazy as he seems now to belong to the Flying
Squadron, may change his mind a lot of times. But one thing I do
know, and that is, I'm glad we struck up an acquaintance with the
Lieutenant; and ditto, that I'm going to have a spin with him in
the air."

They watched the monoplane mount fairly high and make several large
curves. Apparently the pilot did not think it best to try any
difficult business while he had a novice along with him, because
there was no telling how Bud might act. After being up some twenty
minutes, the monoplane was once more directed toward the field.

"Oh! see what he is doing now!" exclaimed Ralph, clutching the sleeve
of his companion's coat in his excitement. "He's headed the nose of
the air craft downward, and seems to be just whooping it up for solid
ground! I hope nothing has happened, or that they'll strike hard, for
poor Bud will be smashed, that's what!"

Hugh laughed, for he was much better informed on all aviation topics
than the other scout.

"Oh! that's what they call volplaning," he hastened to say, while he
watched the coming of the air craft with eagerness. "The motor is shut
off, and deflecting the rudder to a certain angle, a glide is made
toward the earth. When they get to a certain distance, you'll see a
sudden change take place. There, what did I tell you, Ralph?"

The monoplane had abruptly ceased to shoot toward the earth as though
falling. It made a sudden turn and proceeded almost on the level;
after which the pilot brought it so softly to the ground that Bud
could barely feel it strike, such an expert was the lieutenant in
manipulating the various levers.

Bud was almost speechless with delight. His eyes fairly danced as he
drew a long breath and shook the hand of the army officer.

"Ralph, you come next," said the lieutenant; and somehow Hugh got the
idea into his head that he had been reserved for the last because
the officer wished to take him for a longer spin than either of his
mates, for some reason or other.

And so Ralph allowed himself to be fastened in his seat alongside the
pilot, and gravely listened to the same instructions that had been
given to Bud, since much depended on his actions while navigating
the upper air currents.

He waved his hand to his chums as the monoplane started to race along
the level field, accumulating speed as it progressed, until presently
at a given point it pointed upwards and started on its air voyage.

Ralph was given about the same experience as Bud. Another little
volplane act was carried out for his especial benefit, so that he
might be able to boast of having experienced such a "stunt," a
favorite one among all aviators and not one-tenth as risky as it may
seem to the uninformed.

And now came Hugh's turn.

He fastened himself in, having taken pattern by what he had seen the
pilot do on the previous occasions; for a scout is expected to have
his eyes about him and to observe all that is going on, so that he
knows for himself and does not have to be shown.

Even this little act convinced the observant lieutenant that his first
conception of Hugh's character had been a true one. He realized just
why that boy had been chosen to serve as leader of his patrol, and in
the absence of both scout master and assistant, had more than once
been given full charge of the entire troop.

It was certainly a most exhilarating sensation to Hugh when he felt
the big war aeroplane start away from solid ground and begin to climb
upward. Looking down, he could see how fast they were really going.
Why, it seemed as though the earth could no longer be counted his
abiding place, but that he must be headed for the planet Mars, or
perhaps the moon.

The higher up they went, the more delightful the sensation became. Hugh
soon became used to the novel feeling, so that he could enjoy looking
down upon the country over which they were passing.

It was an experience that far excelled anything he had ever gone
through before. He told the pilot that he did not wonder men found it
hard to leave such a fascinating if dangerous business, when once they
had started to follow it.

"There is an old saying about politicians," remarked the lieutenant,
"to the effect that few die and none resign. That can never be said
about aviators, because, while none of them ever give it up for good,
the fatalities have been very numerous. But when that stability
device which your friend believes he has invented, but which he may
have read about somewhere and unconsciously copied, comes into
general use, we hope the deaths will become much less frequent. I am
using a stability device right now on this monoplane. It was
installed by the firm that patented it. You can see how it acts
automatically to steady the machine, no matter how we move about.
And I am almost as safe up in a squally wind as on a calm day."

He took Hugh much higher than he had the others, as the barograph that
was within seeing distance from their seat told the boy, who had
learned how to read its figures.

Half an hour later they came back toward the field again, and descended
to lower currents. The picture Hugh gazed upon as he looked down would
never be forgotten. He could see for miles and miles in every
direction; and how different the country looked from anything he had
ever imagined!

All at once Hugh made a discovery.

"I am almost certain I saw two men hide themselves in that patch of
bushes ahead there," he hastily told the pilot; "and it seemed to me
that they must be the pair of spies who have been giving you so much
trouble. They were creeping toward the camp as if they meant to try
and steal in the back way."

The lieutenant laughed as though pleased.

"Good for you, Hugh," he remarked. "Those sharp eyes of yours let
nothing escape. Now we'll just circle around a bit and give those
precious foreigners the scare of their lives. I happen to have a
supply of small experimental bombs along, which are heavy enough to
frighten them into believing one of the new explosives may follow,
after we have the range. Watch out for some fun, my son!"



When Hugh saw the air pilot reach back and take a small black object
from a box attached to the body of the monoplane close to the gasoline
tank, he knew that those skulkers below were in for a lively time of it.

Undoubtedly they had been creeping toward the rear of the camp with
the hope either of picking up valuable information, or finding a
chance to make way with precious plans connected with this latest war
airship which Uncle Sam was trying out, and which possessed features
far in advance of anything known abroad.

At a certain second, when he judged that he could drop the bomb very
close to where the couple were secreted, the lieutenant hastened to
do this. Almost immediately afterwards he caused the monoplane to
make a curve, so that they would be in shape to circle around that
particular spot and repeat the bombardment as long as the supply of
missiles held out.

Twisting his head so that he could watch the result, Hugh's gaze
followed the descending bomb until it struck the ground. Instantly
there was a pretty loud racket and the dirt flew, although this
missile undoubtedly contained but a small portion of the new and
terrible explosive, being intended only for experimental purposes in
the way of gauging distances correctly.

The two spies instantly sprang into view and started to dash madly
away. They undoubtedly labored under the impression that once the
range had been properly found, one of those fearful projectiles would
be dropped down on them. No doubt they had before now examined the
great hole in the earth showing where aviators had dropped one of the
larger bombs, and knew what to expect in case such a missile fell
anywhere near them.

"You've given them a bad scare already, sir!" remarked Hugh, greatly
enjoying the experience, although it made him think of a fable in one
of his earlier books concerning the sport of stoning that was "fun for
the boy but death to the frogs."

"That is only a beginning," declared the lieutenant. "This monoplane
is so well constructed that we can hover over them, no matter what
they do, just as a hawk shadows a rabbit."

Indeed, the entire performance did remind Hugh of occasions when he
had watched a red-tailed hawk chasing a frightened bunny, now slowing
up on quivering pinions, then making numerous pretended lunges in
order to frighten the quarry still more, and finally ending the
pursuit by a well-directed swoop that gave the bird of prey its
fine dinner.

The two men were bewildered as well as alarmed. Another bomb
exploded close behind them, and started them off on a new tack.
Run which way they might, it seemed as though that terrible enemy
in the air kept hovering above them, sending a little black object
shooting earthward every half dozen seconds, to be followed by a
sudden crash, many times magnified in their excited imaginations.

Once the taller man started to fire his automatic revolver upwards,
as though in sheer desperation he hoped to cause the air pilot to
give over the chase. The reports sounded like the detonation of
toy fire-crackers to Hugh; and if the bullets came as far as the
monoplane, he heard nothing that sounded like their passing.

Dodging this way and that as though almost panic-stricken, the
spies finally betook themselves into the sheltering forest. Before
they could hide under the branches of the oaks, the tall man was
seen to stumble at the top of a rather steep declivity and roll all
the way to the bottom, as though he might be a barrel that some
mischievous lad had started downhill for the fun of seeing it jump.

Some seven of the little bombs had been used by the time both men
vanished into the shelter of the woods a mile or so away from camp.
The Lieutenant was laughing heartily as though he had enjoyed the
diversion greatly.

"I imagine that will settle them, all right, Hugh," he remarked, as
he once more turned the aeroplane back toward home.

At the same time he mounted higher for the final volplane downward.
Since the other boys had enjoyed this novel sensation, it would be
too bad if the patrol leader did not have the same chance to
experience it.

"Do you think after that bombardment that they'll be apt to clear out
and give over trying to learn what Uncle Sam is up to?" Hugh asked.

"That is my impression," replied the other. "All they can have
learned is that we have a new explosive that excels all known
destructive forces as five to one; and that our latest model of
a war aeroplane bids fair to eclipse anything known in foreign
parts. After all is said and done, son, you can trust the inventive
ability of the Yankee to see anything done by others and go them
one better. That is because we are the melting pot for all nations,
and rewards for genius are so much greater here than abroad, that
it spurs us all on to achieve wonderful things. It's a great
privilege, Hugh, just to know that you are a nativeborn American.
Never forget to be thankful for it."

Apparently this daring aeronaut was intensely patriotic. Hugh felt
drawn toward him more than ever on this account, because he had his
own ideas on this subject, and they coincided with those of
Lieutenant Fosdick.

That volplane, started from a much higher altitude than either Bud or
Ralph had reached, would never be forgotten by the patrol leader.
His breath seemed actually to be taken away as he felt himself
shooting toward the earth, which, in fact, appeared to be rising
swiftly to meet him. That is the sensation that a novice always
feels under the circumstances. But at the proper second, the pilot
shifted his rudder and the planes took on a new position that
instantly stayed their downward plunge. This caused the monoplane
to sail along gently, parallel with the field, to which it descended
immediately afterwards in safety.

Of course the other scouts wondered what all that racket meant,
although Ralph had guessed something close to the truth. They
started to ask questions at such a rate that Hugh laughingly cried
for quarter.

"Here, hold up a little," he interrupted, "and I'll tell you all about
it. You see we happened to discover those two sneaking spies in the
bushes, and the Lieutenant said it would be a fine chance to give
them such a scare that they'd be only too glad to skip out and let
things go for keeps. He had a lot of small experimental bombs along,
and every time one dropped near where they were trying to hide, you'd
have nearly taken a fit laughing to see how they skipped out and ran
like mad."

"Guess they thought you'd drop one of the big ones after you got the
range," suggested Ralph.

"That was what was scaring them," Hugh agreed. "And after seeing
what had happened when one of those exploded, you could hardly blame
them for being panic-stricken. They were a mile away when last seen,
and I reckon they're still on the full run. Lieutenant Fosdick says
he doesn't think either of them will ever have the nerve to come
back again."

"Huh! good riddance of bad rubbish," grunted Bud. "I'd give something
to see how they make out with the figuring I did on that paper they
hooked from our shanty. They couldn't make head or tail of it in a
year; so they are not likely to steal the idea of my wonderful
stability device, which is luck enough for me for one day."

Hugh gave Ralph a suggestive look, as though begging him not to say
anything just then to hurt poor Bud's dream of fame. Later on, when
they were back home again, they could break the sad news to him gently,
as the officer had suggested. What was the use of spoiling his
pleasure for that glorious day? They might never have another chance
to be with the brave fellows of Uncle Sam's Flying Squadron; so it
was just as well to make the most of their opportunity while it lasted.

The Lieutenant tried to coax them to stay longer, but Hugh knew they
must be on their way home shortly after noon, much as he wanted to
remain. Their folks might be anxious if they did not show up some
time that evening; and the next day would be Sunday, which was pretty
strictly observed in their home town.

The balance of their stay in the experimental camp was passed in
trying to learn all they possibly could about things connected with

"Those who observe the trend of events closely," Lieutenant Green told
them, as he only too gladly showed them many clever devices calculated
to increase the efficiency of aeroplanes when in action, "are firmly
convinced that should we ever get embroiled in a war with any
first-class power, which we all hope will never happen, aeroplanes
are bound to occupy a very important place in the field."

"But I'm sure I read lately that there has been talk of limiting the
activities of air craft in war times?" Hugh questioned.

"Yes, and already it has been settled that bombs shall not be dropped
into besieged cities where civilians may be killed, but only into
forts and on war vessels," the army officer told them. "But, after
all, that is only a small fraction of the uses to which a war
aeroplane may be put. For scouting and learning the movements of
troops, it is a wonder. No matter how skilful a general may be,
his plans are all apt to go amiss if the quick movements of his
forces are discovered by the airman from a mile above. The aviator
may be well out of reach of any missiles modern guns can throw upward,
but with his glasses he can watch every movement and signal the news
to headquarters."

The scouts were astonished to hear all this.

"Where would the genius of a Napoleon have been," remarked Lieutenant
Fosdick in turn, "if aeroplanes had been in common use as far back as
Waterloo? You may remember that the secret of his great success in
battle was the mobility of his troops. He would divide his army and
hurl a part of it so as to strike the enemy unexpectedly on the flank,
timing his own frontal attack so as to complete the confusion. Well,
if the enemy had known what was coming they could easily have whipped
the divided force of the great French leader in detail. The coming
of man's mastery over the air will cause new and strange happenings
in case of war. By degrees, fighting will become so terrible that
all nations must unite in a bond to keep the peace forever."

Much more along these same lines did the three Boy Scouts hear from
the two venturesome air pilots during the balance of their stay in
the experimental camp. It was an experience they could never forget.
Ralph fairly hugged himself with satisfaction because he had obeyed
the spirit that tempted him to pay a visit to his old camping grounds
during the short Thanksgiving holiday season.

"Think what I would have missed if I'd told myself it was foolish to
waste my time out here, when I never expected to set a single trap
again!" he declared, as the signal was given to tell them that dinner
was ready and they prepared to join the two officers at their mess.

"It's been one of the greatest times of my whole life," admitted Bud,
a happy grin on his face as he looked over at his crude but effective
model of a monoplane, all done up, waiting transportation again; and
Hugh could easily guess what delightful dreams must be crowding
through his chum's mind, which later on it must be his painful duty
to dissolve.

They certainly did enjoy that meal, eating heartily of the camp fare.
At least Uncle Sam provided bountifully for those whom he employed in
his new Flying Squadron, the boys told each other; for one of the men
in camp was a real _chef_, and could get some mighty appetizing
dishes together on occasion.

As there were several pack animals available, Lieutenant Fosdick
proposed that they load the model upon one of these. A soldier
would accompany them as far as the nearest farm house on the road
to town, where they could hire a vehicle, and then bring the animal

When the time came to say good-by to the aviators, the boys all
expressed their gratitude on account of the kindnesses they had

"Don't mention it," Lieutenant Fosdick replied, shaking each of the
scouts by the hand; "the pleasure has all been on our side. And
besides, you did us a great favor by warning us about those foreign
spies. Some time I hope we'll meet again. Until then, the best of
luck attend you, Hugh, Ralph and Bud! Goodby, lads!"



The three scouts intended stopping long enough at the lonely shack in
the woods to look about, and see that they had forgotten nothing. All
of them declared they had had the time of their lives, and would
certainly never be apt to forget the remarkable experiences that had
come their way.

"There she is!" exclaimed Bud, pointing ahead.

"The cabin, you mean," Ralph added, as he, too, caught a glimpse of
the familiar shack which had given them such friendly shelter. "And
it looks as quiet and peaceful as can be, too."

"Why, what else would you expect?" Bud asked him. "Hugh, didn't we
close that door when we came away; seems to me I can remember doing
the same, after you told me it was best?"

"You certainly did pull it shut after you," Hugh quickly replied.

"Well, it's part way open right now, you can see for yourself if it
isn't," Bud asserted strenuously.

"That's right, it is, Bud."

"I wonder if the wind could have done it," the other mused. "It
does play some queer pranks, I happen to know from past experiences.
Guess that fastening is a bad one, and don't hold worth a cent."

"It's too late for us to bother fixing anything now, Bud," said
Ralph; "though to tell you the truth I always thought the door held
as tight as anything."

"Then what opened it, do you think?" demanded Bud, as they continued
to approach the shack, the soldier who was accompanying them to take
back the horse interested in what they were saying.

"I don't know, if you ask me point blank," Ralph admitted, frankly.
"It might have been that you didn't fasten it the right way. Then
again p'raps some one has passed along here, and stepped in to see
if there was anything worth taking."

"Whee! I hope that last isn't the right answer," was what Bud
hastened to observe; "I've got a few little things there I'd hate
to lose, let me tell you. Now, if you come right down to---oh! Hugh!"

"What's the matter with you?" demanded the one whose name had been
uttered so wildly.

"Didn't you see that---where were your eyes that you didn't see what
poked out of the open door just then?" cried Bud, coming to a complete
standstill in his astonishment and perplexity.

"I'm sorry to say that I didn't happen to be looking that way just
when you spoke," Hugh admitted. "But tell us what it was you saw,

"A head! A bear's head!" exclaimed Bud.

"That begins to sound interesting," said Ralph, as his face lighted up.

"But Ralph, you said there were no bears around here any more, so how
could that be?" Hugh asked, as he turned on the other.

"Hardly that, Hugh; I told you I had never happened to run across
one while trapping up here; but there was a time when they were said
to be thick around this section; and who knows but what one may have
wandered back, to see what the country promised him in the way of food."

Bud began dancing up and down in new excitement.

"We did leave a lot of grub in there, fellows," he told them; "and
chances are that the old black sinner has gone and spoiled what he
couldn't eat. That's a habit with bears, I'm told; they're about as
bad as hogs that way."

"Well, what are we going to do about it?" asked Hugh, looking
around at his two chums.

"We've got a gun!" suggested Bud.

"But we didn't come up here to do any hunting, and besides, scouts
as a rule don't go around gunning for game," said Ralph.

"Hugh," said Bud, trying to appear cool and collected, "you've got to
decide this for us, because I look at it one way, and here's Ralph
saying it wouldn't be right for us to try and plug this old bear.
Will we just try to shoo him away, or give him a few cold chunks \
of lead?"

Hugh smiled and nodded to Ralph.

"You lose this time, Bud," he said, "because I'm siding with Ralph
here. If we were really hungry and in need of food, of course I'd
say we had a right to get fresh meat; but we're on our way home now,
and seems to me it would be a shame to spoil all our splendid sport
by being cruel to a poor old bear that doesn't know any better than
to gobble flour and anything else he finds lying around loose."

Now Bud was a good loser. Perhaps after all he did not really feel
as ferocious as he pretended; and to tell the truth might have been
sorry if Hugh had sided with him, so that war was declared upon the
hairy invader of the shack.

"How'll we get him out of there?" he proceeded to ask. "If he knows
a good thing when he tastes it you bet he won't be in any hurry to

"How about you going in and telling him his room is better than his
company?" asked Hugh.

"You'll have to excuse me this time, I'm afraid," Bud quickly announced.
"I pass it up to Ralph here; he knows more about the way of animals in
a minute than I do in a year."

"Can you fix him up, Ralph?" questioned Hugh, turning to the boy who
had studied animals so long that he might be looked on as an authority.

Ralph was always willing to oblige.

"To be sure I can, and will, Hugh," he hastened to say, with one of
his rare smiles. "The rest of you stay back here, and when he once
gets clear of the door start to shouting as loud as you can."

"Which is to add to his alarm, I suppose?" suggested Hugh.

"Just about what it is," and saying no more, Ralph started for the

They noticed that he did not approach from the front, and this
explained that Ralph had no intention of trying to enter the place
while it had a hairy occupant.

He had first gathered up something and made a bundle of it under one
of his arms.

Bud, looking closely, believed that he knew what the other scout had

"Dead weeds, as sure as anything! Bears don't eat dried weeds, do
they? If he had 'em dripping with wild honey p'raps it might do the
business, because they say bears go crazy when they get sniff of

"All of which is true enough, Bud," Hugh told him; "but when you think
Ralph expects to coax the bear to come out, you're barking up the
wrong tree. It's my opinion force would be a much better word,
because he means to compel him to vacate."

"Now you have got me guessing, Hugh; If you know, please take me
into the game. There, Ralph's climbing up where the roof is lowest.
It wasn't much of a boost for a fellow as active as he is. What
d'ye think he'll do next?"

"Make for the chimney, unless I'm away off, which I don't think I am.
There, you see he's up already. What does he seem to be doing now,

"Why, I declare if he isn't crunching all that dry stuff down the
old chimney! Oh! now I've got it, Hugh! He's going to smoke the
bear out!"

"I shouldn't wonder but what that is just what he expects to do,"
chuckled Hugh; "and let's watch and see how it works. Ralph knows
how much alarmed a bear will always get after smelling smoke. It
seems to be a part of his nature to dread anything that has to do
with fire. And in case he has had to hustle at some time in the
past to save his bacon from a raging forest fire, of course it's
all the worse. But Ralph is getting ready to put a match to the
dry stuff he has in the chimney. After he has it smouldering good
I reckon he'll give the same a kick, and send it down into the
fireplace. Then watch him clap that short piece of board on top
of the clay chimney, forcing all the smoke to ooze out into the
cabin, filling it full."

Both boys, and the soldier as well, kept their eyes glued upon
the figure of the scout on the roof of the cabin. Ralph was taking
his time. He usually did his work very systematically, and could
be depended on to make a complete job of anything he undertook.

"There, it's beginning to come out of the door, the smoke, I mean!"
exclaimed the anxious Bud.

"I want to get a snap-shot of the event when the bear rushes out,"
said Hugh; "because there are a lot of fellows these days who want
to see the proof every time you tell them a story that seems out
of the common run. The light is good right now, and I believe I
can make a fair picture, with Ralph pressing his board down on the
chimney-top, and the smoke oozing out around him. Now to see how
much the prowler can stand for."

"He peeked out just then, and must have seen us, Hugh, because he
pulled in again," Bud shrilly cried. "Guess he don't think much
of human beings. He must have had some experience with the little
shooting sticks they seem to just point straight at him, and then
with the cough he feels an awful pain. P'raps he's a better
smoker than you think. What if he just declined to run the
gauntlet as long as we stand here."

"It's only a question of time," Hugh assured him. "He can only
stand for so much, and then he'll make the rush, no matter what

"The smoke's coming out thicker and thicker, let me tell you,"
Bud continued, fairly dancing in his nervous excitement. "If
he can stand that much longer I'll believe he's a regular old

"He won't," Hugh assured him. "He's pretty nearly all in right
now. Twice we've seen him peek out as if he wanted to get the lay
of the land, so he could make his rush. The third time he's apt
to come. So everybody get your breath ready to let out a whoop
that'll make him think the end of the world has arrived for keeps."

"Look! there he comes, Hugh!"

Even as Bud said this a bulky object rushed headlong out of the
cabin door. It was the bear, doubtless already half-blinded with
the bitter smoke that smarted his eyes and created a panic in his

Immediately the two boys and the soldier set up a series of whoops
that made the forest ring. Ralph, too, joined in, and waved his
hat from the roof of the cabin, even as Hugh pressed the button, and
snapped off the lively scene, with the frightened bear in full retreat.

Bud outdid himself in shouting, he was so tickled over the success
of Ralph's plan. Twice he raised the double-barrel shotgun belonging
to Ralph, which the other had placed in his hands for safe-keeping
before starting to evict the unwelcome guest who had taken to using
their shack during their temporary absence. Of course after what
Hugh had said, about not wanting to injure the bear, backed up as
he had been by the third scout, it was far from Bud's intention to
pull either trigger, and wound the poor beast. But just like most
boys he wanted to boast afterwards as to what "terrible things" he
could have done had he cared to take the trouble.

The bear must have received more or less of a shock, what with the
smoke, and that volley of shouts greeting his appearance outside
the cabin; for the way he galloped away was indeed comical.

Hugh laughed heartily, and then as Ralph jumped off the low roof of
the shack to join them, he complimented the one-time trapper on his
knowledge of Bruin's weak spots.

"Oh! that's an old story," Ralph declared. "You never want to
forget that all savage animals, except, perhaps the two-horned
rhinoceros, which of course we don't have in this country, are
afraid of fire. With a blazing torch you can pass safely through
a woods where half a dozen hungry panthers are jumping about through
the trees following you, but nine times out of ten not daring to
make a leap as long as you swing that fire stick around your head."

"Is that so?" Bud remarked; and then quickly added: "But how about
the tenth time, Ralph?"

"Oh! well," said the other, with a chuckle, "I guess they might take
chances of the fire, and get you the tenth time, Bud. But it's the
best thing you can ever do if you're besieged by wolves, or any
wild animals."

"Well," Hugh interrupted, "now that our unwelcome visitor has
taken his departure, and the cabin can be entered, let's get what
truck we have left there together, and be heading for the road."

They found that the bear had made inroads with regard to some of
their provisions, but as they happened to be homeward bound it did
not matter much. The rest of the things they gathered up, and were
again ready for a continuance of their journey home.

Once more they were on the tramp. Having nothing to carry, made
things very easy for all hands. The miles they had to cover before
reaching the road that would take them back to town did not appall
them in the least, for they were used to making long hikes; besides,
they had so much to talk about that almost before realizing it
they had arrived at the first sign of civilization in the shape
of the turnpike.

Half a mile down this road was a farmhouse, where Hugh fancied they
might hire some sort of conveyance to take them home. If this
could not be had, possibly the up-to-date farmer had telephone
connections with town, and over the wire they might influence the
owner of the livery stable to send out a rig to take care of them.

They were spared this long wait, however, because luckily enough
the farmer happened to be going in town for supplies and readily
made terms with the scouts to carry them and their bundles.

So they said good-by to the soldier in khaki belonging to Uncle Sam's
Flying Corps, and were soon passing along the homeward road.

No doubt that farmer pricked up his ears and did considerable eager
listening, when he began to hear what his three passengers were
talking about. Never having seen an aeroplane in all his life,
and having only a faint conception of the wonderful uses to which
the fliers could be put, the tiller of the soil gasped many times
when he heard these mere lads tell of their feelings when half a
mile up in the air.

And when later on he chanced to discover from words let fall by
Bud, that the several packages in the back of the wagon contained
a miniature aeroplane, the old man cast more respectful glances
back at them. He also changed his manner toward the scouts, and
even addressed Hugh once as "Mister Hardin."

In good time, long before the sun gave token of setting, they
arrived in town; and Bud was made happy in seeing his precious
miniature flier safely deposited at his own door. He still had the
look of one whose mind was soaring away up in the clouds and Hugh
did not have the heart to disillusion him just then. There would
be no harm done in letting poor Bud dream a little longer before
giving him that rude if necessary jolt.

Hugh was more than satisfied with the result of their latest expedition.
Neither he nor Bud, at the time they started out, could possibly have
dreamed of the remarkable experiences that were fated to come their
way. It had only been to enjoy one more little outing before winter
came along in earnest and to learn what the scout inventor had
accomplished, that had induced Hugh to go forth immediately after
eating his turkey at the Thanksgiving feast.

And there was Ralph, who also had obeyed an inward mentor urging him
to spend a day or so with his gun in the region where he had in
times past trapped many a little fur-bearing animal, whose glossy
coat he covet coveted as a means of eventually paying for his tuition
in the School of Mines. He had only expected to wander in some of
his familiar nooks, and perhaps to knock over a few quail to tempt
his sick mother's fickle appetite; but see what had come out of such
humble beginnings!

When the scouts had their next weekly meeting, Hugh thought it worth
while to give the troop some description of the events that had come
the way of himself and his two chums. He purposely avoided more
than casual mention of Bud's invention, because he had found a
chance to bring the other down from the heights where he had been
sailing, and Bud now knew that he had made his bright discovery
"a mile too late," as he himself expressed it, looking exceedingly
downcast at the time.

Of course the three were looked upon as the luckiest fellows ever
known by the rest of the troop present. Others among the boys had
experienced some notable things since joining the troop and assisting
the rival armies in the field of maneuvers as signal corps operators;
but nothing that had come their way as half as wonderful as being
taken up in a genuine war aeroplane and being given a wild ride
through the clouds.

What Hugh had to tell about the two foreign spies also excited the
delighted interest of Billy Worth, Arthur Cameron, Walter Osborne,
Blake Merton, Don Miller, Cooper Fennimore, "Spike" Welling, Alec
Sands, Sam Winter, Dick Bellamy, Tom Sherwood, Ned Toyford and Jack
Durham, all of whom were present. They asked him many questions,
and seemed never to tire of hearing about how the army air pilot
had fired those volleys of small bombs down at the skulkers, actually
driving them from the field for good.

A week later when Hugh met Bud Morgan on the way to school, he saw
from the way in which the other looked at him that in some sense
the die had been cast.

"What's doing now, Bud?" asked the patrol leader, possibly guessing
what the answer would turn out to be.

"Smashed her into flinders this A.M.," replied Bud, firmly.

"I reckon you must mean that aeroplane model of yours," ventured

"And you hit the bull's-eye plumb center when you say that, Hugh.
I just made up my mind that I was too young to bother my brains
over a man's work and go to high school at the same time. My
lessons aren't any too good as it is, and they'd get so rotten bad
soon I'd be sent home with a note to my dad. I've been trying to
find out where I got that idea of the stability device, and finally
discovered an article about the Wright invention tucked away in one
of my books. Must have read it once and then forgotten all about
it, so there's how I fooled myself into believing the idea was
original with me. Served me right, too, but, anyhow, she worked,
Hugh, didn't she?"

He grinned as he made this last triumphant observation, and Hugh
shook him by the hand to show how sorry he felt for the disappointed

"Worked like a charm, Bud," he remarked; "and if the famous Wright
brothers could have seen what you did, after only glimpsing the
article long ago, they would have said, just as I do, that you
deserve a heap of credit, that's what."

"Well, I'm done with the whole business right now," Bud continued
firmly. "Find that it gets too much of a hold on my mind to bother
with while I'm still going to school. Day and night I couldn't
think of anything but monoplanes, cylinders, drag brakes, propellers,
guy wires, wing-tips, levers, barographs, barometers, searchlights,
volplaning and all such stuff. It was wearing on my mind, you see.
I even dreamed of flying, and came near taking a header out of my
bedroom window that would have given me a broken leg, or twisted my
neck so I could see both ways to Sunday. So I called it off, and
threw up the sponge for keeps."

"I think you were wise to do it, if you kept worrying over things
like that," Hugh told him, as they walked along together to school.

Lieutenant Fosdick continued to show considerable interest in the
young leader of the Wolf patrol. He had even asked Hugh to write to
him occasionally, and promised that as opportunities arose he would
reply to each and every communication. He knew that he could
describe plenty of adventures, which of course always come thick
and fast to the men in the Army Flying Squadron, even during times
of piping peace.

When Lieutenant Denmead came back from his trip and heard that his
old friend had been in the vicinity, he declared himself very much
disappointed not to have had a chance to see Fosdick again. Of course
what Hugh had to relate concerning the warmth of the greeting given
himself and two chums in the aviation camp pleased the Scout Master
considerably, also.

"I can see that you met some exciting times up there in the woods,
son," he remarked, "and so please begin right at the start and tell
me everything, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem in
your eyes. I'm just in the humor to enjoy a rattling tale of

He admitted, after Hugh had finished his recital, that he got it, too;
for there was much to thrill the nerves of even such an experienced
army man as he, in the narrative which the boy spun, every word of
it absolutely true.

Winter set in soon afterwards, so that the scouts were not able to
take other outings. They had to content themselves with their weekly
meetings in the club rooms, but they laid out a vigorous campaign for
the next season. That is always considered the proper thing for
scouts to do, to map out their plans ahead of time. To tell the
truth, often there is more real enjoyment in planning than in
executing, for one does not get tired to death with long dusty tramps
while sitting in a comfortable easy-chair and mapping out a
future course!

Some of these plans would of course come to naught; but others might
be expected to arrive at the stage of reality, when once the spring
advanced. That new and unexpected developments were apt to step
in, however, and demand a share of their attention, may be seen from
the character of the next volume in this series, which bears the title:
"The Boy Scouts and the Prize Pennant."


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