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have been working over that car, and I can't find that knock."

The boys came close and listened.

"I don't hear any knock," said Frank.

They all listened.

"Don't you hear it now?" said Lee, speeding the engine.

"Seems as though I hear something," said Bill, partly to please Lee.

They all listened closely.

Lee commenced to pry about in the engine. "I have it, I think," he
exclaimed triumphantly as he took out a small piece of the machinery.
Frank motioned Bill one side, and they wandered around the end of the
building.

"Don't you feel sort of afraid to let Lee tinker with your car?" he
asked with a show of carelessness.

"Not a bit! Dad says he is a born mechanic and he trusts him with all
the care of his car. If dad thinks he can fix that, why, I guess it is
safe to let him do anything he wants to do with the Swallow."

"Do you ever let anybody else drive the Swallow?" asked Frank. "I
wouldn't mind taking it some day if you don't care."

Bill looked embarrassed.

"I would let you take her in a minute," He said, "but dad made me
promise that I would never loan the Swallow to anyone. It is not that he
wants me to be selfish, but he says if anything should happen, if the
car should be broken, or if there should be an accident and some other
boy hurt, I would sort of feel that it was my fault."

"I don't see it that way at all," said Frank, who was crazy to get hold
of the pretty car and show it off to some boys and girls he knew in
Lawton. He didn't want to drive with Bill. He was the sort of a boy who
always wants all the glory for himself. That car was quite the most
perfect thing; the sort a fellow sees in his dreams. Frank knew that he
could never hope to own such a car, and the fact that Bill was always
willing to take him wherever he wanted to go was not enough. Bill had
never driven to Lawton, the town nearest the Post. He had told Frank
that he would take him with him the first time. Frank had thought it
would be pretty fine to go humming up the main street past all the
people from the Post and the ranches, and the old Indians and the
crowds of Indian boys his own age who always came in on Saturday from
the Indian school near by. He had been anticipating that trip ever since
Bill had appeared with the Swallow; but now he felt that it would be far
nicer if Bill would or could be made to loan him the car. Of course he
couldn't run it, but he could run an airplane engine, and he was
perfectly willing to try running the little Swallow.

Frank had a great trick of getting his own way about things, and he
reflected with satisfaction that as long as the roads to Lawton were
almost impossible for traffic after the rainfall, there would be a few
days in which to scheme for his plan. Nothing of this, however, appeared
in his face. He turned and shrugged his shoulders.

"Well, if you and your dad think Lee can handle a car all right, it's
all the same to me," he laughed. "My father says you never can trust an
Indian anyhow."

"Well, we would trust Lee with anything in the world," reiterated Bill.

"That's all right, too, if you think so," said Frank, trying slyly to
breed distrust in Bill's heart. "I guess you never heard my father tell
some of his Indian stories. You would feel different if you had."

"But anybody would just _have_ to trust Lee," said Bill. "Why, he is as
good as gold! And he hates a lie, and he has such nice people - two of
the prettiest little sisters. One of them plays the harp. It's one of
those big gold ones, and she is so little that Lee says she has to trot
clear round the harp to play some of the notes, because her arms are too
short to reach."

"He's half Indian just the same," insisted Frank. He warmed to the
subject as he went on. He couldn't forgive Lee, quite the most thrilling
and amusing soldier he knew, for _letting_ himself be made Major
Sherman's orderly.

"Well, I am for Lee every time," said Bill, "and I would wager anything
I have that he is just as true blue as - as - well, as my dad!" Bill could
pay no greater compliment, and the words rang out clear and honest. The
boys stood beside the quarters, staring idly across the bluff as they
talked. They were so interested in their conversation that they were not
aware of a listener. Lee, with a part of the Swallow in his hand to show
Bill, had followed them in time to overhear the conversation concerning
himself, but he quickly drew back and returned to the automobile.

"Good boy, Billy!" he said softly to himself. Then with a dark look
coming into his face, "So you can't trust an Indian, can you? Ha ha! I
wonder what we had better do about that?"




CHAPTER III


Frank Anderson found no time to invent a scheme that would put the
Swallow into his hands because two days later on a bright Saturday
morning, Frank heard a silvery little siren tooting under his window,
and looked out to see the Swallow below and Bill in businesslike
goggles.

"Hey!" called Bill joyfully. "Want to come along and show me Lawton? Dad
and mother are coming in for dinner to-night, and we can stay in all day
and see the sights, then meet them and have dinner with them. Dad sets
up a dandy dinner, I will say. Hurry up!" He tooted the siren again
gaily, and Frank bolted in search of his mother.

He found her getting ready for a bridge luncheon, and she scarcely
listened when he told her the plan for the day. She managed to say yes,
however, when she understood the part Major Sherman was going to play,
and drifted out of the room leaving Frank to yell down from the window
that he was coming and to embark on a more or less thorough toilet. He
looked very smooth and clean, however, ten minutes later, when he hopped
into the Swallow and settled himself beside Bill.

Frank pointed out the various places of interest as they went along, and
before they knew that the miles had been passed, they were entering the
outskirts of the village. It was a typical Western village: low, squat,
unpainted sheds of houses, with sandy front yards, and heaps of refuse
lying about.

As the boys picked their way along, they turned a corner into a better
part of the town. Here the houses were better; but on the whole very
shabby. The influence of the oil boom was being felt, however, and here
and there immense and showy residences were being built.

They then turned into the main street, a very wide, splendidly paved
thoroughfare crowded with automobiles, carriages, mule teams, saddle
horses, and indeed every possible kind of conveyance.

Frank noted with pride that wherever they went the little Swallow
created a great commotion. People stopped to stare and exclaim. Bill,
who was busy guiding his little beauty among the larger vehicles, did
not seem to notice but it was meat and drink to Frank.

Down by Southerland's drug store they parked the Swallow, locking it
carefully, and walked off, leaving the Swallow literally swallowed up by
a crowd of admiring people. Frank hated to go and when they had wandered
half a block away made an excuse for going back. Bill said he would look
at some sweaters in a sporting goods window until he returned.

Frank found the crowd larger than ever. A policeman had attached himself
to the circle and a couple of old Indians stood looking solemnly down.
Someone was talking and when Frank pressed through the crowd he found a
boy about his own age leaning on the fender and addressing everybody in
general. Frank listened and studied the boy as he did so. He was a slim,
pale chap with a shock of light, wavy hair which was shaved close to his
head everywhere except on top where a thick brush waved. He was
continually smoothing it back or shaking his head to get it out of his
eyes. He seemed to consider it a very fascinating motion. Frank liked
his man-of-the-world air and did not see the grins on the faces of many
of the listeners.

"Rather nice little machine," said the boy. "I wonder who owns it. I
would like to tell him a few things he ought to have changed about it.
Some of the lines are all wrong, and anyone can see the engine couldn't
hold up under any strain. I bet he has trouble with the hills. All the
cars of this make have trouble. His tires are wrong too. He ought to use
a heavier tire if he expects to get any speed out of it. It ought to go
at a pretty good clip if the chap knows how to drive. There is
everything in the driving. I have taken my eight-cylinder at one hundred
and ten miles easily a good many times, but my dad and the chauffeurs
never get over eighty-five out of it."

Frank felt his head swim. Here was talk that _was_ talk! He completely
forgot Bill, looking at sweaters. He edged up to the car and fumbled
under the seat.

"Hello!" said the boy. "This your car?"

"It belongs to another fellow and me," said Frank, unable to keep
himself from establishing some sort of a claim on the Swallow. "Why?"

"Quite a nice little toy," said the boy, nodding condescendingly. "I
never cared much for toys myself but some chaps like 'em. I have an
eight-cylinder machine and a six-cylinder runabout, and that's enough to
keep me going for the present. I want a racing car built for me pretty
soon."

"You don't live here, do you?" asked Frank, sure he would have heard
somehow of this remarkable youth who talked so glibly of owning a string
of cars.

"I should hope not!" said the boy scornfully. "Not in this dead little
hole! I guess you don't know me. I am Jardin, Horace Jardin. My father
is the automobile man."

"I have heard of him," said Frank.

"I guess you have!" chuckled young Jardin. "You couldn't go anywhere on
the globe without seeing the Jardin cars. Dad puts out more cars than
any other two concerns on earth." He assumed a very bored look. "Gee,
sometimes I wish I could change my name! Makes a fellow so conspicuous,
you know."

"Well, _I_ didn't know who you were until you told me," said Frank,
grinning.

Jardin flushed. Evidently he could not take a joke that was levelled at
himself.

"No, I suppose there are a few rube places like this where the people
have never heard of the Jardin car."

Frank hastened to smooth things over. He had no desire to quarrel with
this young prince who talked so easily. Frank had to admit that a good
deal of it sounded like ordinary boasting, but he assured himself that
it must all be true, and proceeded to make things square again.

"You are wrong there," he said. "It would be a good deal smaller place
than Lawton before the people had to be told about the Jardin car. Of
course I didn't know that you were Jardin, but I couldn't be blamed for
that."

"Sure not!" granted the boy. He took a gold cigarette case from his
pocket and lighted one, then as an after-thought offered it to Frank who
refused, but with a feeling of disgust that he was unable to take one
and smoke it coolly as young Jardin was doing.

"The little fool!" a man in the group was saying, but Jardin either did
not hear or care.

"Where is the other boy who owns the car?" he asked.

"Down the street," said Frank. "I forgot all about him. We are in town
for the day. His father is an instructor at the School of Fire at Sill,
and mine is stationed at the Aviation School."

"That's what I am crazy over," said Jardin. "If I consent to go to
school and stay all through the winter, I am to have a little plane
this fall. I have been taking lessons down at Garden City, and my plane
is to be a real long distance one. Dad will give me anything if I will
go to school. Gee, I hate it!"

Frank swallowed hard. Two automobiles and an airplane! He commenced to
feel sorry for Bill. "Bill and I are going east to school this fall," he
said. "Where are you going?"

"I don't know yet," said Jardin. "I have got to talk it over with dad."

"Let's go find Bill," said Frank. "That is, if you haven't anything
better to do."

They detached themselves from the crowd and walked down to the sporting
house, where they found Bill just tucking a bulky bundle under his arm.
He had bought his sweater and stopped to count his change before he
turned to greet the boys.

"Gee, what an old woman's trick," said Frank, who wanted to let Jardin
know that _he_ was not afraid to spend.

"You mean to count the change?" Bill inquired.

"Yes," said Frank.

"You are right," Jardin cut in. "I never have time. _My_ time is more
valuable than a few cents the fellow may swipe from me."

"Suppose it is the other way around," said Bill. "Suppose the fellow has
made the mistake. When the checks are made up, his shows the loss and he
has to make it up. Not much fun for him. Perhaps he has a family and he
can't afford it. I never used to bother either, but once I was taking
dinner in New York with a friend of mother's who has oodles of money,
and when he came to pay the check he looked every item over and counted
the change and it was thirty cents overcharged. I suppose I looked
funny, because he said to me when the waiter went off to get it
straightened out, 'Bill, it is no special credit to let these fellows do
you. If you want to give money away, there are plenty of beggars on the
streets, or you can buy millions of shoe laces and pencils. But never
let anybody think they can put it over you.'

"And then to show the other side, that is, when the other fellow makes
an honest mistake, he told me a story that made me remember. Then the
waiter brought the right change, got a tip, and we left. But I always
count change now."

"I'd like to see anybody do that in the Biltway Hotel!" laughed Jardin.

"This was in the Biltway Cascades," said Bill.

"Come down here," said Frank. "Here is where the Indians come most."
Young Jardin and his father had only reached town late the night before
so he was as ready as Bill to see the sights.

On a corner by a drug store two very old Indians stood gesturing at each
other. The boys stopped a little way off and watched them. Their
wrinkled old mouths were tight closed but their hands flew in short,
quick motions that were perfectly impossible for the boys to
understand. It was evident, however, that the two old men understood
each other with perfect ease because at intervals they would laugh as
though at an excellent joke.

"That beats all!" exclaimed Jardin, actually interested for once. "Both
those old fellows are deaf and dumb."

"Wait," said Frank.

The gestures went on, and presently another old Indian approached. He
was even older than the other two. His face was a network of wrinkles
and his braided hair hung in two thin, scant little tails scarcely
reaching his shoulders. It was gayly wound, however, and his cheeks were
carefully painted. The two other old men seized him by the arms and to
the amazement of Bill and Horace both commenced to talk at once.

"Now what on earth did they do that for?" demanded Bill of no one in
particular. "If they can talk, why did they go through all that crazy
motion business?"

"I don't know," said Frank. "They do it all the time. Only the old ones,
though."

"I bet Lee will know," said Bill. "We will ask him."

"Who is Lee?" asked Horace

"My dad's orderly," said Bill. "He will drive father and mother in
to-night when they come. Who are all these boys in blue suits? Look like
bell boys."

"They are from the Indian school we passed on the way out," explained
Frank.

"Lee knows a lot of the boys in that school," said Bill. "He is going to
go over with me some day."

"How does he happen to know them?" asked Jardin.

"He is part Indian himself," explained Frank.

"A half-breed?" said Jardin. "They are awfully treacherous. Don't you
feel afraid to have him around?"

Bill laughed. "I should say not! Why, Lee is the finest and best fellow
I ever knew! He wouldn't lie to save his life. Dad says he can trust him
with anything anywhere. Afraid? Well, you just don't know what you are
talking about! Frank has got that afraid bee in his bonnet. It makes me
sort of tired because I know what Lee is, and I am going to be for him
every time and all the time."

"You always act as though it was a personal slam if anyone says the
least thing about Lee," complained Frank.

"That's the surest thing you know!" said Bill fervently. "I _do_ take it
as a personal slam always if anyone says things against a friend. And a
friend Lee certainly is. I think he is as true and clean as any man I
know, and he is - well, he is a dandy! Anybody who says he is different
will have to prove it!"

A spirit of malicious meanness rose in Frank. He assumed an air of good
nature.

"All right," he said. "It is really not worth talking about, but some
day I may be able to make you see things differently."

"I will believe you when you can prove it," retorted Bill.

"Aw, let's drop it," said Jardin, taking each boy by an arm and turning
into a doorway. "Let's look in this pawnshop. Did you ever see anything
like that white buckskin Indian suit?"

"The Sioux Indians work those, little gentlemen," said the owner of the
pawnshop, seeing them pause before the soft, snowy leather garment.
"They are the only Indians who can cure the hides and tan them like
that, and the squaws do the bead work."

"I have a notion to buy that for my sister," said Jardin, feeling of the
delicate fringes. "She could wear it to a fancy dress ball. I suppose
this feather headdress goes with it."

"It is worn with it," said the man. "I will let you have them cheap.
Dress and headdress for fifty dollars."

"All right," said Jardin as coolly as though the man had said fifty
cents. "Send them over to the hotel C. O. D. May will have a fit over
those."

"I reckon you are sort of all right to get a present like that for your
sister," said Frank, as they strolled out. "You must like her a whole
lot."

"I don't," said Jardin. "I just have to keep squaring her all the time.
She is an awful tattler, and if I don't keep her squared, she peaches
on me. Sisters are an awful nuisance!"

"You are right," said Frank. He had never thought so before but if this
wonderful young man thought so, why, it must be true.

Bill said nothing.

Jardin glanced at his wrist watch.

"Lunch time," he announced. "Come on back to the hotel and have
something to eat with me."

"That suits me," said Frank.

"Sorry, but I can't accept," from Bill. "I have a couple of errands to
attend to for mother and I have been fooling around so long that I will
have to be pretty spry. You all go on, and I will get a bite later."

"Well, of course I will stay with you if you think you can't put your
errands off for an hour or so," said Frank sulkily.

"I have put it off too long anyhow," said Bill, "but I certainly won't
mind if you go."

"No, I will go with you," decided Frank.

"All right then," said Jardin, shrugging his shoulders. "Suit yourself,
of course! Perhaps we will meet later." He turned and started back
toward the hotel, leaving the boys looking after him.




CHAPTER IV


"Well, I will say he's a peach!" said Frank.

Bill made no reply.

"Don't you say so?" pressed Frank. "Don't you think he is a peach?"

Bill, forced to answer the question, made a frank but reluctant reply.

"No," he said. "I think he is a pill." He shook his head.

"You are a queer one!" said Frank. "It don't look as though you had any
sporting blood in you. I suppose because he smokes naughty cigarettes - "

"It isn't that," said Bill, frowning. "He is just plain _foolish_ to
smoke. Why, he is undersized and underweight now for his age, and every
time he smokes he checks his growth. It is up to him. I bet he has had
it explained to him a million times by each teacher and tutor he has
ever had just how smoking will harm him and dope up his brain, so if he
wants to miss out on athletics and all that, and look like a boiled
mosquito in the bargain, let him go to it. _I_ don't care. It's not that
I don't like about him. It is the way he thinks and talks. Where does he
live when he is at home?"

"Detroit," said Frank.

"You would think he owned the whole world!" grumbled Bill. "And
_squaring_ his sister!"

"Oh, well," said Frank, "you have a queer way of looking at things. I
don't think you are giving the fellow a fair deal. Perhaps he _does_
talk pretty big, but on the other hand he has a lot to talk about. Think
of it: a fellow only the age of us and he has a couple of automobiles of
his own and is going to have an airplane. Gee, I am glad I can manage a
plane! I have got him there."

"It's all right, I suppose, for him to gab all he wants to about his
cars and things. By the time we go back to the Post to-night, if we see
him again, I'll bet you he tells us what his father is worth and just
how many gold chairs they have at his house."

"You are sore," said Frank loftily.

"What at, for goodness' sake?" demanded Bill. "I wouldn't swap the
little Swallow for all the cars he ever had or will have. We have more
fun in our little cooped-up quarters over at the School than he ever
thought of with his scraps with his sister. I guess I am sore a little,
Frank. I am sore because he came butting in and spoiled our whole
morning. Let's forget him for awhile. I want to take mother's watch to a
jeweller and then we will hunt up a good restaurant and have lunch. It
is on me."

Frank followed in silence. He knew Bill was right, but the stranger had
dazzled him. He wished bitterly that his father was a rich manufacturer
instead of a poor army officer. The traveling they had had, the
wonderful sights they had seen all over the world seemed poor in
comparison with all the glories Jardin had told and hinted at.

Poor Frank, did not know it, but slowly, ever so slowly, he was making
the wrong turn; the turn that led away from the right.

"The trouble with you, Bill," he said, as they loitered over their
ice-cream at luncheon, "the trouble is that you are narrow."

Bill groaned. "There you go on Jardin again, I do believe," he said.
"All right; I will tell you what _I_ will do. I will really try to like
him, and if he comes around where we are I will be as decent to him as I
can be. Perhaps he has a lot of good in him, as you say. _I_ don't want
to be unjust."

Frank looked pleased. "I think that is the square thing for you to do,"
he said. "Jardin may turn out to be a good scout in every way. Perhaps
he saw the Swallow and was so impressed with it that he wanted to make a
big impression to get even. You can't tell the first time you see
anybody what they will be like when you get to know them well."

"Well, I gathered that Jardin was here with his father on some oil
business, and probably we won't see him anyhow after this afternoon. He
won't be apt to come to the Post. Anyway, let's not spoil our whole
afternoon. I want to see some more of those Indians, and I would like to
go to that pawnshop without someone tagging along who can buy the place
out. I want to buy a little bead bag I saw in the window if it does not
cost too much. I think mother would like it to carry with a blue dress
of hers.

"Say, you are just like a girl, aren't you?" exclaimed Frank. "I would
never know what sort of a dress my mother had on, and she would _never_
get a bag if she depended on _my_ getting it for her."

"I suppose there is a difference in folks," said Bill. "There was a man
visiting my uncle back home one time. He broke his leg while he was with
us, and mother helped take care of him and amuse him, and say, he could
embroider and crochet! He taught mother a lot of stitches."

"A regular sissy!" sneered Frank.

"I thought so," said Bill; laughing at the recollection. "One night when
he felt sort of bad I rubbed his back, and his shoulders were all
covered with scars. Well, what do you think? A tiger did it. A Royal
Bengal tiger like you read about! And I found out that he had hunted
every kind of big game there is, and the fiercer, the better. He simply
didn't care _what_ he did in the way of hunting. Oh, my; that was a snap
for me! When he found out that I was simply crazy to hear his yarns, he
used to tell me thrills, I can tell you.

"I didn't think he was such a sissy then. That crochet work looked all
right. But it was sort of funny to see him lying there showing my
mother how to make a new kind of muffler or table mat and remember how
he came by a great white scar that showed on his wrist when he stuck his
arm out."

"How did he get it?" asked Frank, all attention.

"He got that one in Africa," said Bill, taking a taste of his ice-cream.
"He and another chap had penetrated away into the jungle. They were
after a splendid specimen of - "

Bill stopped, looked at the door and attacked his ice-cream.


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