Richard Harding Davis.

The Boy Scout and Other Stories for Boys online

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[Illustration: "But how," he demanded, "how do I get ashore?"]









COPYRIGHT, 1891, 1903, 1912, 1914, 1917, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS


RICHARD HARDING DAVIS, as a friend and fellow author has written of him,
was "youth incarnate," and there is probably nothing that he wrote of
which a boy would not some day come to feel the appeal. But there are
certain of his stories that go with especial directness to a boy's heart
and sympathies and make for him quite unforgettable literature. A few of
these were made some years ago into a volume, "Stories for Boys," and
found a large and enthusiastic special public in addition to Davis's
general readers; and the present collection from stories more recently
published is issued with the same motive. This book takes its title from
"The Boy Scout," the first of its tales; and it includes "The Boy Who
Cried Wolf," "Blood Will Tell," the immortal "Gallegher," and "The Bar
Sinister," Davis's famous dog story. It is a fresh volume added to what
Augustus Thomas calls "safe stuff to give to a young fellow who likes to
take off his hat and dilate his nostrils and feel the wind in his face."

The Boy Scout 3
The Boy Who Cried Wolf 42
Gallegher 82
Blood Will Tell 158
The Bar Sinister 212


"But how," he demanded, "how do I get ashore?" Frontispiece

Jimmie dropped the valise, forced his cramped fingers
into straight lines, and saluted 8

"For God's sake," Hade begged, "let me go" 128

"Why, it's Gallegher," said the night editor 156

In front of David's nose he shook a fist as large as a
catcher's glove 184

She dug the shapeless hat into David's shoulder 210

"He's a coward! I've done with him" 230

For a long time he kneels in the sawdust 282




A Rule of the Boy Scouts is every day to do some one a good turn. Not
because the copy-books tell you it deserves another, but in spite of
that pleasing possibility. If you are a true Scout, until you have
performed your act of kindness your day is dark. You are as unhappy as
is the grown-up who has begun his day without shaving or reading the New
York _Sun_. But as soon as you have proved yourself you may, with a
clear conscience, look the world in the face and untie the knot in your

Jimmie Reeder untied the accusing knot in his scarf at just ten minutes
past eight on a hot August morning after he had given one dime to his
sister Sadie. With that she could either witness the first-run films at
the Palace, or by dividing her fortune patronize two of the nickel shows
on Lenox Avenue. The choice Jimmie left to her. He was setting out for
the annual encampment of the Boy Scouts at Hunter's Island, and in the
excitement of that adventure even the movies ceased to thrill. But Sadie
also could be unselfish. With a heroism of a camp-fire maiden she made a
gesture which might have been interpreted to mean she was returning the

"I can't, Jimmie!" she gasped. "I can't take it off you. You saved it,
and you ought to get the fun of it."

"I haven't saved it yet," said Jimmie. "I'm going to cut it out of the
railroad fare. I'm going to get off at City Island instead of at Pelham
Manor and walk the difference. That's ten cents cheaper."

Sadie exclaimed with admiration:

"An' you carryin' that heavy grip!"

"Aw, that's nothin'," said the man of the family.

"Good-by, mother. So long, Sadie."

To ward off further expressions of gratitude he hurriedly advised Sadie
to take in "The Curse of Cain" rather than "The Mohawks' Last Stand,"
and fled down the front steps.

He wore his khaki uniform. On his shoulders was his knapsack, from his
hands swung his suitcase and between his heavy stockings and his
"shorts" his kneecaps, unkissed by the sun, as yet unscathed by
blackberry vines, showed as white and fragile as the wrists of a girl.
As he moved toward the "L" station at the corner, Sadie and his mother
waved to him; in the street, boys too small to be Scouts hailed him
enviously; even the policeman glancing over the newspapers on the
news-stand nodded approval.

"You a Scout, Jimmie?" he asked.

"No," retorted Jimmie, for was not he also in uniform? "I'm Santa Claus
out filling Christmas stockings."

The patrolman also possessed a ready wit.

"Then get yourself a pair," he advised. "If a dog was to see your
legs - - "

Jimmie escaped the insult by fleeing up the steps of the Elevated.

An hour later, with his valise in one hand and staff in the other, he
was tramping up the Boston Post Road and breathing heavily. The day was
cruelly hot. Before his eyes, over an interminable stretch of asphalt,
the heat waves danced and flickered. Already the knapsack on his
shoulders pressed upon him like an Old Man of the Sea; the linen in the
valise had turned to pig iron, his pipe-stem legs were wabbling, his
eyes smarted with salt sweat, and the fingers supporting the valise
belonged to some other boy, and were giving that boy much pain. But as
the motor-cars flashed past with raucous warnings, or, that those who
rode might better see the boy with bare knees, passed at "half speed,"
Jimmie stiffened his shoulders and stepped jauntily forward. Even when
the joy-riders mocked with "Oh, you Scout!" he smiled at them. He was
willing to admit to those who rode that the laugh was on the one who
walked. And he regretted - oh, so bitterly - having left the train. He was
indignant that for his "one good turn a day" he had not selected one
less strenuous. That, for instance, he had not assisted a frightened old
lady through the traffic. To refuse the dime she might have offered, as
all true Scouts refuse all tips, would have been easier than to earn it
by walking five miles, with the sun at ninety-nine degrees, and carrying
excess baggage. Twenty times James shifted the valise to the other hand,
twenty times he let it drop and sat upon it.

And then, as again he took up his burden, the Good Samaritan drew near.
He drew near in a low gray racing-car at the rate of forty miles an
hour, and within a hundred feet of Jimmie suddenly stopped and backed
toward him. The Good Samaritan was a young man with white hair. He wore
a suit of blue, a golf cap; the hands that held the wheel were disguised
in large yellow gloves. He brought the car to a halt and surveyed the
dripping figure in the road with tired and uncurious eyes.

[Illustration: Jimmie dropped the valise, forced his cramped fingers
into straight lines, and saluted.]

"You a Boy Scout?" he asked.

With alacrity for the twenty-first time Jimmie dropped the valise,
forced his cramped fingers into straight lines, and saluted.

The young man in the car nodded toward the seat beside him.

"Get in," he commanded.

When James sat panting happily at his elbow the old young man, to
Jimmie's disappointment, did not continue to shatter the speed limit.
Instead, he seemed inclined for conversation, and the car, growling
indignantly, crawled.

"I never saw a Boy Scout before," announced the old young man. "Tell me
about it. First, tell me what you do when you're not scouting."

Jimmie explained volubly. When not in uniform he was an office-boy and
from pedlers and beggars guarded the gates of Carroll and Hastings,
stock-brokers. He spoke the names of his employers with awe. It was a
firm distinguished, conservative, and long-established. The white-haired
young man seemed to nod in assent.

"Do you know them?" demanded Jimmie suspiciously. "Are you a customer of

"I know them," said the young man. "They are customers of mine."

Jimmie wondered in what way Carroll and Hastings were customers of the
white-haired young man. Judging him by his outer garments, Jimmie
guessed he was a Fifth Avenue tailor; he might be even a haberdasher.
Jimmie continued. He lived, he explained, with his mother at One Hundred
and Forty-sixth Street; Sadie, his sister, attended the public school;
he helped support them both, and he now was about to enjoy a well-earned
vacation camping out on Hunter's Island, where he would cook his own
meals and, if the mosquitoes permitted, sleep in a tent.

"And you like that?" demanded the young man. "You call that fun?"

"Sure!" protested Jimmie. "Don't _you_ go camping out?"

"I go camping out," said the Good Samaritan, "whenever I leave New

Jimmie had not for three years lived in Wall Street not to understand
that the young man spoke in metaphor.

"You don't look," objected the young man critically, "as though you were
built for the strenuous life."

Jimmie glanced guiltily at his white knees.

"You ought ter see me two weeks from now," he protested. "I get all
sunburnt and hard - hard as anything!"

The young man was incredulous.

"You were near getting sunstroke when I picked you up," he laughed. "If
you're going to Hunter's Island why didn't you take the Third Avenue to
Pelham Manor?"

"That's right!" assented Jimmie eagerly. "But I wanted to save the ten
cents so's to send Sadie to the movies. So I walked."

The young man looked his embarrassment.

"I beg your pardon," he murmured.

But Jimmie did not hear him. From the back of the car he was dragging
excitedly at the hated suitcase.

"Stop!" he commanded. "I got ter get out. I got ter _walk_."

The young man showed his surprise.

"Walk!" he exclaimed. "What is it - a bet?"

Jimmie dropped the valise and followed it into the roadway. It took some
time to explain to the young man. First, he had to be told about the
scout law and the one good turn a day, and that it must involve some
personal sacrifice. And, as Jimmie pointed out, changing from a slow
suburban train to a racing-car could not be listed as a sacrifice. He
had not earned the money, Jimmie argued; he had only avoided paying it
to the railroad. If he did not walk he would be obtaining the gratitude
of Sadie by a falsehood. Therefore, he must walk.

"Not at all," protested the young man. "You've got it wrong. What good
will it do your sister to have you sunstruck? I think you _are_
sunstruck. You're crazy with the heat. You get in here, and we'll talk
it over as we go along."

Hastily Jimmie backed away. "I'd rather walk," he said.

The young man shifted his legs irritably.

"Then how'll this suit you?" he called. "We'll declare that first 'one
good turn' a failure and start afresh. Do me a good turn."

Jimmie halted in his tracks and looked back suspiciously.

"I'm going to Hunter's Island Inn," called the young man, "and I've lost
my way. You get in here and guide me. That'll be doing me a good turn."

On either side of the road, blotting out the landscape, giant hands
picked out in electric-light bulbs pointed the way to Hunter's Island
Inn. Jimmie grinned and nodded toward them.

"Much obliged," he called, "I got ter walk." Turning his back upon
temptation, he wabbled forward into the flickering heat waves.

The young man did not attempt to pursue. At the side of the road, under
the shade of a giant elm, he had brought the car to a halt and with his
arms crossed upon the wheel sat motionless, following with frowning eyes
the retreating figure of Jimmie. But the narrow-chested and knock-kneed
boy staggering over the sun-baked asphalt no longer concerned him. It
was not Jimmie, but the code preached by Jimmie, and not only preached
but before his eyes put into practice, that interested him. The young
man with white hair had been running away from temptation. At forty
miles an hour he had been running away from the temptation to do a
fellow mortal "a good turn." That morning, to the appeal of a drowning
C├Žsar to "Help me, Cassius, or I sink," he had answered, "Sink!" That
answer he had no wish to reconsider. That he might not reconsider he had
sought to escape. It was his experience that a sixty-horse-power
racing-machine is a jealous mistress. For retrospective, sentimental, or
philanthropic thoughts she grants no leave of absence. But he had not
escaped. Jimmie had halted him, tripped him by the heels and set him
again to thinking. Within the half-hour that followed those who rolled
past saw at the side of the road a car with her engine running, and
leaning upon the wheel, as unconscious of his surroundings as though he
sat at his own fireplace, a young man who frowned and stared at nothing.
The half-hour passed and the young man swung his car back toward the
city. But at the first roadhouse that showed a blue-and-white telephone
sign he left it, and into the iron box at the end of the bar dropped a
nickel. He wished to communicate with Mr. Carroll, of Carroll and
Hastings; and when he learned Mr. Carroll had just issued orders that he
must not be disturbed, the young man gave his name.

The effect upon the barkeeper was instantaneous. With the aggrieved air
of one who feels he is the victim of a jest he laughed scornfully. "What
are you putting over?" he demanded.

The young man smiled reassuringly. He had begun to speak and, though
apparently engaged with the beer-glass he was polishing, the barkeeper

Down in Wall Street the senior member of Carroll and Hastings also
listened. He was alone in the most private of all his private offices,
and when interrupted had been engaged in what, of all undertakings, is
the most momentous. On the desk before him lay letters to his lawyer, to
the coroner, to his wife; and hidden by a mass of papers, but within
reach of his hand, an automatic pistol. The promise it offered of swift
release had made the writing of the letters simple, had given him a
feeling of complete detachment, had released him, at least in thought,
from all responsibilities. And when at his elbow the telephone coughed
discreetly, it was as though some one had called him from a world from
which already he had made his exit.

Mechanically, through mere habit, he lifted the receiver.

The voice over the telephone came in brisk staccato sentences.

"That letter I sent this morning? Forget it. Tear it up. I've been
thinking and I'm going to take a chance. I've decided to back you boys,
and I know you'll make good. I'm speaking from a roadhouse in the Bronx;
going straight from here to the bank. So you can begin to draw against
us within an hour. And - hello! - will three millions see you through?"

From Wall Street there came no answer, but from the hands of the
barkeeper a glass crashed to the floor.

The young man regarded the barkeeper with puzzled eyes.

"He doesn't answer," he exclaimed. "He must have hung up."

"He must have fainted!" said the barkeeper.

The white-haired one pushed a bill across the counter. "To pay for
breakage," he said, and disappeared down Pelham Parkway.

Throughout the day, with the bill, for evidence, pasted against the
mirror, the barkeeper told and retold the wondrous tale.

"He stood just where you're standing now," he related, "blowing in
million-dollar bills like you'd blow suds off a beer. If I'd knowed it
was _him_, I'd have hit him once, and hid him in the cellar for the
reward. Who'd I think he was? I thought he was a wire-tapper, working a
con game!"

Mr. Carroll had not "hung up," but when in the Bronx the beer-glass
crashed, in Wall Street the receiver had slipped from the hand of the
man who held it, and the man himself had fallen forward. His desk hit
him in the face and woke him - woke him to the wonderful fact that he
still lived; that at forty he had been born again; that before him
stretched many more years in which, as the young man with the white hair
had pointed out, he still could make good.

The afternoon was far advanced when the staff of Carroll and Hastings
were allowed to depart, and, even late as was the hour, two of them were
asked to remain. Into the most private of the private offices Carroll
invited Gaskell, the head clerk; in the main office Hastings had asked
young Thorne, the bond clerk, to be seated.

Until the senior partner has finished with Gaskell young Thorne must
remain seated.

"Gaskell," said Mr. Carroll, "if we had listened to you, if we'd run
this place as it was when father was alive, this never would have
happened. It _hasn't_ happened, but we've had our lesson. And after
this we're going slow and going straight. And we don't need you to tell
us how to do that. We want you to go away - on a month's vacation. When I
thought we were going under I planned to send the children on a
sea-voyage with the governess - so they wouldn't see the newspapers. But
now that I can look them in the eye again, I need them, I can't let them
go. So, if you'd like to take your wife on an ocean trip to Nova Scotia
and Quebec, here are the cabins I reserved for the kids. They call it
the Royal Suite - whatever that is - and the trip lasts a month. The boat
sails to-morrow morning. Don't sleep too late or you may miss her."

* * * * *

The head clerk was secreting the tickets in the inside pocket of his
waistcoat. His fingers trembled, and when he laughed his voice trembled.

"Miss the boat!" the head clerk exclaimed. "If she gets away from Millie
and me she's got to start now. We'll go on board to-night!"

A half-hour later Millie was on her knees packing a trunk, and her
husband was telephoning to the drug-store for a sponge bag and a cure
for sea-sickness.

Owing to the joy in her heart and to the fact that she was on her knees,
Millie was alternately weeping into the trunk-tray and offering up
incoherent prayers of thanksgiving. Suddenly she sank back upon the

"John!" she cried, "doesn't it seem sinful to sail away in a 'royal
suite' and leave this beautiful flat empty?"

Over the telephone John was having trouble with the drug clerk.

"No!" he explained, "I'm not sea-sick _now_. The medicine I want is
to be taken later. I _know_ I'm speaking from the Pavonia; but the
Pavonia isn't a ship; it's an apartment-house."

He turned to Millie. "We can't be in two places at the same time," he

"But, think," insisted Millie, "of all the poor people stifling to-night
in this heat, trying to sleep on the roofs and fire-escapes; and our
flat so cool and big and pretty - and no one in it."

John nodded his head proudly.

"I know it's big," he said, "but it isn't big enough to hold all the
people who are sleeping to-night on the roofs and in the parks."

"I was thinking of your brother - and Grace," said Millie. "They've been
married only two weeks now, and they're in a stuffy hall bedroom and
eating with all the other boarders. Think what our flat would mean to
them; to be by themselves, with eight rooms and their own kitchen and
bath, and our new refrigerator and the gramophone! It would be Heaven!
It would be a real honeymoon!"

Abandoning the drug clerk, John lifted Millie in his arms and kissed
her, for next to his wife nearest his heart was the younger brother.

* * * * *

The younger brother and Grace were sitting on the stoop of the
boarding-house. On the upper steps, in their shirt-sleeves, were the
other boarders; so the bride and bridegroom spoke in whispers. The air
of the cross street was stale and stagnant; from it rose exhalations of
rotting fruit, the gases of an open subway, the smoke of passing
taxicabs. But between the street and the hall bedroom, with its odors of
a gas-stove and a kitchen, the choice was difficult.

"We've got to cool off somehow," the young husband was saying, "or you
won't sleep. Shall we treat ourselves to ice-cream sodas or a trip on
the Weehawken ferry-boat?"

"The ferry-boat!" begged the girl, "where we can get away from all these

A taxicab with a trunk in front whirled into the street, kicked itself
to a stop, and the head clerk and Millie spilled out upon the pavement.
They talked so fast, and the younger brother and Grace talked so fast,
that the boarders, although they listened intently, could make nothing
of it.

They distinguished only the concluding sentences:

"Why don't you drive down to the wharf with us," they heard the elder
brother ask, "and see our royal suite?"

But the younger brother laughed him to scorn.

"What's your royal suite," he mocked, "to our royal palace?"

An hour later, had the boarders listened outside the flat of the head
clerk, they would have heard issuing from his bathroom the cooling
murmur of running water and from his gramophone the jubilant notes of
"Alexander's Ragtime Band."

When in his private office Carroll was making a present of the royal
suite to the head clerk, in the main office Hastings, the junior
partner, was addressing "Champ" Thorne, the bond clerk. He addressed him
familiarly and affectionately as "Champ." This was due partly to the
fact that twenty-six years before Thorne had been christened Champneys
and to the coincidence that he had captained the football eleven of one
of the Big Three to the championship.

"Champ," said Mr. Hastings, "last month, when you asked me to raise your
salary, the reason I didn't do it was not because you didn't deserve it,
but because I believed if we gave you a raise you'd immediately get

The shoulders of the ex-football captain rose aggressively; he snorted
with indignation.

"And why should I _not_ get married?" he demanded. "You're a fine
one to talk! You're the most offensively happy married man I ever met."

"Perhaps I know I am happy better than you do," reproved the junior
partner; "but I know also that it takes money to support a wife."

"You raise me to a hundred a week," urged Champ, "and I'll make it
support a wife whether it supports me or not."

"A month ago," continued Hastings, "we could have _promised_ you a
hundred, but we didn't know how long we could pay it. We didn't want you
to rush off and marry some fine girl - - "

"Some fine girl!" muttered Mr. Thorne. "The Finest Girl!"

"The finer the girl," Hastings pointed out, "the harder it would have
been for you if we had failed and you had lost your job."

The eyes of the young man opened with sympathy and concern.

"Is it as bad as that?" he murmured.

Hastings sighed happily.

"It _was_," he said, "but this morning the Young Man of Wall Street
did us a good turn - saved us - saved our creditors, saved our homes,
saved our honor. We're going to start fresh and pay our debts, and we
agreed the first debt we paid would be the small one we owe you. You've
brought us more than we've given, and if you'll stay with us we're going
to 'see' your fifty and raise it a hundred. What do you say?"

Young Mr. Thorne leaped to his feet. What he said was: "Where'n hell's
my hat?"

But by the time he had found the hat and the door he mended his manners.

"I say, 'thank you a thousand times,'" he shouted over his shoulder.
"Excuse me, but I've got to go. I've got to break the news to - - "

He did not explain to whom he was going to break the news; but Hastings
must have guessed, for again he sighed happily and then, a little
hysterically, laughed aloud. Several months had passed since he had
laughed aloud.

In his anxiety to break the news Champ Thorne almost broke his neck. In
his excitement he could not remember whether the red flash meant the
elevator was going down or coming up, and sooner than wait to find out
he started to race down eighteen flights of stairs when fortunately the
elevator-door swung open.

"You get five dollars," he announced to the elevator man, "if you drop
to the street without a stop. Beat the speed limit! Act like the
building is on fire and you're trying to save me before the roof falls."

Senator Barnes and his entire family, which was his daughter Barbara,
were at the Ritz-Carlton. They were in town in August because there was
a meeting of the directors of the Brazil and Cuyaba Rubber Company, of
which company Senator Barnes was president. It was a secret meeting.
Those directors who were keeping cool at the edge of the ocean had been

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Online LibraryRichard Harding DavisThe Boy Scout and Other Stories for Boys → online text (page 1 of 10)