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REFERENCE



r



NY PUBLIC LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRARIES



3 3333 08087 4163

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THE MYSTERIOUS TRAMP



Dedication

TO MY CUBBY FRIENDS IN THE
ALL SOULS 1 PACK, PETERBOROUGH




Black Bill led the girl through the crowd to the big tent.

frontispiece. [See page 68.



THE MYSTERIOUS

TRAMP



BY

VERA C. BARCLAY

Author of "Danny the Detective," etc.



London

C. Arthur Pearson, Ltd,

Henrietta Street, W.C.2
1920



THE flEW YORK

SPUBLIC LIBRARY




' ::;

c < c 6
t .*







CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

I BY FIRELIGHT ..... 9

II A COUNCIL OF WAR . . . .13

III THE COMING OF Miss PRINCE . . 16

IV " DANNY THE DETECTIVE " . . 19
V IN THE WOODS ..... 22

VI THE LAW OF THE WOLF CUB PACK. . 26

VII A WOLF CUB COUNCIL . , . .31

VIII "I PKOMISE ...".. , . . 33

IX THE COMING "OF 'TEE MYSTERIOUS TRAMP. 37

i

,

X BY MOONLIGH* ' . . .42

XI THE TRAMP'S .GTOR-S .... 45

XII THE SECOND QUEST .... 52

XIII ELEPHANTS 58

XIV THE CIRCUS 61

XV A KNIGHT OF KING ARTHUR . . .67

XVI DANNY FINDS MARIETTE AND is KID-
NAPPED ...... 74

XVII THE CUBS TO THE RESCUE 79

5



6 CONTENTS

XVIII DETECTIVES . . . . . .86

XIX BY THE LIGHT OF A LANTERN . .91

XX A CONSPIRACY OVERHEARD ... 94

XXI THE " WICKED UNCLE " FOUND AT LAST 97

XXII AT DAWN 104

XXIII "WHAT'S UP?" 107

XXIV BLACK BILL is QUESTIONED . . .112
XXV THE RESCUE OF DANNY . . .116

XXVI WHERE'S THE TRAMP ? . . . .119

XXVII THE FINDING OF MARIETTE 124



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



Black Bill led the girl through the crowd to the big

tent ...... Frontispiece

FACE PAGE

"Well," said Bill, "is war declared?" "Yes,"

came the determined reply . . . .14

"Hush," said David. "Squat down before he sees

H .'"i m JUV

Danny led the mysterious tramp to a deserted

cottage ........ 50

"All right, young scoundrel," said Black Bill.

"That's your little game, is it ?" ... 76

Unmistakably it was Black Bill and the stranger . 97

Crawling through the narrow window, Danny stepped

into the punt . . . . . .118

The Cubs cheered and threw themselves upon Danny,

like so many wild animals . . . .121



THE MYSTERIOUS TRAMP

CHAPTER I

BY FIRELIGHT

THE night nursery was in darkness, save for
the red glow of the fire, and the occasional
nickering light of a little yellow flame that seemed
to wake up every now and then and light up the
room, casting strange black shadows on the
ceiling. In three little white beds lay three
boys. At least they should have been lying,
but, as a matter of fact, two were sitting up,
with expressions of sullen rage upon their tear-
stained faces, and one was lying in a huddled
heap beneath the bedclothes, sobbing.

" For goodness' sake stop that beastly snivel-
ing, you little cry-baby," said David.

The sobbing ceased for a minute, then, from
beneath the bedclothes, came the muffled voice
of Nipper. " I I'm not a cry-cry-cry baby.'
The sobbing went on.

" Nipper," said David sternly, " you have no
reason to bleat like that. You only got four, an
me and Bill got a dozen each."

9



10 THE MYSTERIOUS TRAMP

This brought Nipper from beneath the bed-
clothes.

" That's 'cos I have more sense in my little
finger than you two fat-heads have in the whole
of your bodies. I trod hard on grandfather's
worst corn, and that made him drop the birch.
I jolly soon picked it up, and threw it out of the
window. And he couldn't find nothing else to
beat me with, so he let me go. It's not for the
beating I'm crying, it's for something else. I
was going to tell you about it, but as you're both
such beasts I shan't now."

Having delivered himself of this speech, Nipper
retired under the bedclothes, and began a series
of mournful sounds. Now, though David was
ready of speech and full of ideas, Bill, his twin,
was a man of action. It was always David who
thought of splendid schemes, but Bill who car-
ried them out. Leaning far out of his bed he
reached for one of his boots, and, taking a care-
ful aim, landed it with a thud upon Nipper's
huddled figure. This brought forth Nipper's own
special performance and chief means of defence,
a siren-like shriek. As was to be expected, it
brought Nurse to the door.

" Now then, you naughty boys," she said, " if
I hear another sound I shall go and tell your
gran'pa."

"You can jolly well go," said David, "he's
lost the birch."

" If you aren't quiet at once," continued
Nurse, " I shall not allow you to go to the horse-
show to-morrow."



BY FIRELIGHT 11



That's all right," said David. 'Grand-
father has already forbidden us to go "

" But we're jolly well going all the same," added
Bill in an aside.

" You shan't have any jam for breakfast/'
said poor old Nurse in despair. This was a serious
matter.

" Then here goes," said Bill, in a spasm of rage,
and he let fly his remaining boot.

It struck the old Nurse very hard on the hand.
She had rheumatism, and the blow hurt her.
With a little exclamation of pain she retired, and
shut the door.

A regular bally-rag then began. Pillows flew
across the room, and before the fight was finished
Bill's nightshirt was torn from top to bottom,
and David's nose was bleeding.

And in the playroom Nurse was talking sadly
to Eliza as she darned the boys' stockings. The
piece of news she was giving Eliza was the very
piece of news that Nipper had heard, and which
had caused his tears.

" The master has given me notice," she
said, wiping her eyes. " He says it's all my
fault the way the boys behave, and it's got so
terrible he won't stand it a moment longer. He's
given me notice, and he's going to get a strict
governess, who won't stand any nonsense, and
will get them into good discipline. From the
day those twins were born I've looked after
them ten years, now. And Nipper's just on
eight and I've got to leave them ! ' Poor old
Nurse laid her head down on the basket of stock-



12 THE MYSTERIOUS TRAMP

ings and broke down. Since the boys' parents
had been drowned in a shipwreck the old woman
had had them under her care, but they had repaid
her with selfishness and disobedience.

The way the " young gentlemen up at the Hall "
behaved was the talk of the village. They would
steal fruit, not only from their grandfather's
glasshouses, but from the poor people's little
gardens. They would let out Farmer Johnson's
pigs, and chase them all over the village. There
was nothing too bad for them to do.

" I pity the person as will have the looking
after of them," said Eliza. " I only hope the
master will get someone really strict."



CHAPTER il

A COUNCIL Or WAR

IT was three weeks later that David called a
Council of War in the garden. Nurse had
departed with her boxes. Grandfather had en-
gaged a " strict governess."

The Council of War had met in the old pigsty,
where all really secret Councils took place. This
being a really important Council, the refresh-
ments consisted of peaches and the best hot-
house grapes stolen, of course, from the hot-
house, though the boys knew well enough the
old gardener would get into trouble with his
master, and as likely as not one of the under-
gardeners would get the blame.

" And so the dragon is to arrive at six o'clock
to-night," said Bill. " Her name is Miss Prince.'?

" Can't you just see her ? " said David, the
imaginative one. " She will be very tall and
bony, and about a hundred, with grey hair all
screwed up in a little knob, and big round gog-
gles, and teeth like an old horse, and a voice like
like like "

13



(C

<(



14 THE MYSTERIOUS TRAMP

" Like the ugly sisters in the Cinderella panto-
mime," said Nipper.

" And she will dress in a stuffy old black
dress, all over buttons and spiky whalebone things,"
added David.

" Well," said Bill, " is war declared ? "

" Yes ! " shouted the other two.

" And we'll have martial law. Nothing is too
bad for Miss Prince," interposed David.
I say frightfulness," said Bill.
Yes the frightfulest frightfulness," said the
other two.

" We will jolly well show her we are not going
to be ' managed ' or ' disciplined ' or bullied,"
said David.

11 We'll bully her," said Bill, "and I bet you
she leaves in a week."

" How shall we welcome her ? ' said David.
" I should say an apple-pie bed, with worms and
slugs in it."

" Yes. Also mice in her room they always
hate mice."

" And a booby trap on the door."

And so the Council of War proceeded to draw
up plans against the new governess.

Meanwhile, a train was speeding along between
green fields and leafy woods. In a corner of a
carriage sat a girl, looking out of the window, and
thinking to herself, " What jolly country for scouting
this would be ! '

She looked about twentj^-four or twenty-five.
She had the kind of face a boy would call jolly,



A COUNCIL OF WAR 15

and the kind of nice blue eyes that seem to smile
at you and make you feel " This is a friend ;
one can talk to her and tell her things, and she
will understand, although she is a grown-up."

Presently the girl sighed. " How jo]]y hard
it was saying good-bye to the Cubs ! " she thought
to herself. " But I mustn't ' give in to myself "
and feel unhappy. After all, I am going to some
more boys. Dear little chaps, they sound awfully
jolly and a good handful to manage. I should
feel rather homesick if it was not for the thought
of them. But they are sure to give me a good
welcome, and we will soon make friends."

She smiled to herself, and the train thundered
on between the green fields.



CHAPTER III

THE COMING OF MISS PRINCE

" T ISTEN!" whispered David, "I hear the

1 J wheels of the carriage at the front door.
Three groans for Miss Prince ! '

The front door was opened, and Miss Prince
came into the hall. She was just a little disap-
pointed not to see the three boys waiting to
welcome her, as she had expected.

" She's not like the Ugly Sisters ! " said Nipper
in a voice full of disappointment. He was peep-
ing through the balusters, the twins peering over
his shoulders.

" I expect that way of smiling and pretend-
ing to look nice is just camouflage. She's sure
to be a perfect beast inside," said David.

The booby trap unfortunately came down on
the housekeeper's head as she showed Miss Prince
to her room. The boys distinctly heard Miss
Prince laugh, and then pretend she had only coughed
and try and comfort Mrs. Biggs. Then they
heard her discover the mice in her chest of drawers.

" Mice I " she said. " Dear little things !
I love mice. But oh, how cruel ! Someone
has tied them by their tails ! "^ They heard her
freeing the mice. " How untidy my bed looks ! "

16



THE COMING OF MISS PRINCE 17

came Miss Prince's voice presently. They heard
her open it, then she laughed.

" No go," said Bill dejectedly. " It's going
to be harder work giving Miss Prince frightful-
ness than I thought. But we'll stick to it, won't
we, boys ? '

" We will ! ' said the other two.

And they did. Not one civil or friendly word
could Miss Prince get from them, try as she
would. They were rude to her ; they disobeyed
her every order ; they pretended they could not
read at all when she started lessons with them,
and added up every sum wrong on purpose. They
told her lies, and hid when she wanted them.

Perhaps their hard little hearts would have
softened a little if they could have known how
their rudeness hurt and disappointed Miss Prince,
and how lonely she felt without her own friendly
Cubs. But she didn't let them see ; she was
always cheerful and patient.

A week passed like this, and Miss Prince, who
had been determined not to give in, began to
despair. Being kind to them was no use ; pun-
ishing them was no use. Their grandfather
was furious, and told Miss Prince that he saw
she could not manage them. A friend of his had
told him Miss Prince could manage forty fierce
Wolf Cubs, and he had said she would easily be
able to tame three little boys, however wild.
But she had failed ; it was not much use to go
on trying. Then Miss Prince got a brilliant idea.
" Mr. Ogden," she said, " I think I know a
way in which those boys could be altogether

B



18 THE MYSTERIOUS TRAMP

changed and made into really good little chaps."

Mr. Ogden grunted like a cross bear. " Do
you ? " he said. " I don't."

" Will you give a trial to my plan ? " said Miss
Prince.

" I'll try anything under the sun," said Mr.
Ogden. " What's your plan ? "

"It is to let me write and engage a boy I know,
named Danny Moore, to come and act as com-
panion to the boys, and their own groom. Jones,
tells me he needs help with their ponies, and is
too old to go out riding with them much longer.
This boy is a Patrol-leader in the Scouts. I
have known him ever since he was quite a little
chap. He is a splendid leader, and can manage
the most difficult boys and turn them into good
Scouts. He has a good knowledge of horses
too. I know he would come at once if I wrote
to him, and if it's possible to do anything with
your grandsons, Danny will do it."

" Do as you like," said Mr. Ogden sourly. " I
wash my hands of the whole business."

That night Miss Prince posted a letter to Danny.
In it she told him of the almost hopeless job she
had got of taming three perfect little terrors.
She asked him to come and turn them into Wolf
Cubs for her. She told him to bring his uniform,
and that she would tell him the plan she had
made for the way he was first to see them when he
arrived.

Danny answered that he would be there in
three days, and Miss Prince's hopes began to
rise.



CHAPTER IV

" DANNY THE DETECTIVE '

TWO days later, the boys having been even
worse than usual, Miss Prince shut the door
firmly and said : " Now, boys, I am going to
give you a new punishment for this disgraceful
behaviour. I am going to sit on the floor, and
you three are to sit on the floor in a row in front
of me, for twenty minutes, and keep perfectly
silent."

" Not much ! ' said Bill, with his cheekiest
air.

Miss Prince sat down on the floor. " There
was once a boy called Danny," she began. " He
was always known as Danny the Detective by
his friends. One day a wonderful adventure
happened to him." The three boys stopped
whistling and listened. Miss Prince went on,
talking very quietly. They had to come nearer
to hear. It got so thrilling, and they got so
excited about Danny and the German spies, that
before long they were sitting on the floor, as silent
as mice, their eyes fixed on Miss Prince. More than
half-an-hour had passed before the story was fin-
ished. Then they realized that for once they had

19



20 THE MYSTERIOUS TRAMP

done as they had been told, and they began to be as
rude as ever.

" Of course, all that is a pack of lies ! ' said
Bill.

David's eyes were shining with excitement ;
he did so wish he was Danny himself. But he
felt he ought to support his twin and keep up
the frightfulness, so he made a rude remark, too.

" Danny is now a Scout," said Miss Prince.
" He is very fond of camping out in the wood
and cooking his meals in a billy-can on a wood
fire. Perhaps you will come across him one day
when you are in Prior's Wood. But I'm afraid
he would not want you as his friends you're so
awfully rude and selfish. I'm afraid he'd call you
' little Huns ' ! "

" I don't believe anything about Danny," said
Bill.

" Nor do I," said the other two. But in their
hearts they decided to visit Prior's Wood.

It was the day after this strange new punishment
had taken place. Bill, David and Nipper were
having tea in the Play-room, when Miss Prince,
who had looked anxiously out of the window many
times during the last half-hour, heard the wheels
of the dog-cart on the drive, and hurried down-
stairs. The cart had driven round to the stables,
and there Miss Prince followed it.

As she came up, a boy had just jumped out,
and was taking a kit bag from under the seat.
He was a boy of fifteen, medium height, with a
very sunburnt, cheery face, and eyes that looked



c DANNY THE DETECTIVE' 21

straight at you when he talked, as if he had never
had anything to hide or be ashamed of.

' Hullo, Miss Prince ! ' he cried, with a grin.

'Hullo, Danny!' she said. "How nice to
see you again ! You seem just like a bit of home ! '
She led him into the house, through the great,
oak-panelled hall, to her own little sitting-room.
There they had a long talk. When they came
out Danny was laughing.

' I think it's a splendid plan," he said. " I'll
do my best to make it come off successfully."



CHAPTER V

IN THE WOODS

IT was a glorious autumn morning one of
those mornings when the wind seems to have
swept the world very clean, the sky is very blue
and clear of clouds, the sun shines on the red-
and-gold leaves, and you feel happy just to be
alive. The boys woke up feeling almost good,
but, remembering the campaign of frightfulness
against Miss Prince which they were determined
to carry out, they asked each other what they
should do to-day.

"Til tell you what," said David. "She said
she was going to start a new plan for lessons
this morning. It would annoy her awfully if we
ran away all the morning, and she couldn't start
her precious plan ! It's such a ripping day, why
should we sit in a stuffy schoolroom ? '

" Right you are ! ' said Bill. " I vote we go
and play wild buffaloes with Farmer Tomkin-
son's calves. He's just bought a lot of new
ones, and if we let them out on to the heath, we
could have some jolly good sport especially if
we take the dogs and the long carriage whip."

22




I



IN THE WOODS 23



' I shan't come with you," said Nipper. " I
have a plan of my own."

"Out with it, kid ! " said Bill, twisting his
small brother's arm till he started his siren-shriek.
" Let go ! ' he yelled, " and I'll tell you. I'm
going to explore Prior's Wood. Don't you re-
member that story she told us ? And she said
we might find the Scout if we went in Prior's Wood."
" I think," said Bill, " we'll leave the calves
for to-day, and go to Prior's Wood. It's prob-
ably all a pack of lies, but we might as well go
and see."

And so, after breakfast, before Miss Prince
had time to call them for lessons the three boys
ran out across the fields to the wood. They had
not gone far when David stopped short.

" Hush ! ' he said. " Squat down before he
sees us quick ! '

The other two followed his example, and squatted
down, peering cautiously over a cJump of bracken.
They had reached a little clearance in the
wood, where the ground was carpeted with soft
green moss, and a small stream gurgled noisily
along. On the banks of the stream was a little
hut, built of branches and bracken, between the
trunks of three trees.

A little distance from this a bright wood fire
burned, sending a steady column of blue smoke
up into the sunny air. A billy-can boiled away,
standing on a thick piece of wood, whilst on a
big, moss-covered log sat a boy. He had bare,
brown knees and bare, brown arms and a khaki
shirt, his red neckerchief making a bright splash



24 THE MYSTERIOUS TRAMP

of colour among the greens and browns of the
wood. He had a knife in his hand, and he was
carving wonderful patterns on a straight ash
stick he had cut for himself. As he worked he
whistled softly.

The three boys, squatting in the ferns, watched
him. Presently he got up and added some wood
to his fire, and peeped into the boiling pot. Then
he fetched an apple out of his hut, and sat down
again on the log. Suddenly a robin swooped down
on to a twig quite close, and stared with big, bright
eyes at this boy who had come to share his own
particular corner of Prior's Wood.

The boy, just as if he knew the language of robins,
began to whistle, very softly, in little trills. The
robin cocked his head on one side and answered
with much the same kind of whistle. Then he
swooped down on to the end of the very log Danny
was sitting on, and they went on with their whist-
ling conversation.

" I believe he can talk to the birds ! " whis-
pered Nipper, with round eyes.

Just then an enormous water rat appeared on
the opposite bank of the stream, and began swim-
ming across. Bill's hand shot out instinctively for
a 'stone.

Shut up, you ass ! " said David.
But I could just hit him on the head beauti-
fully," said Bill.

" Sh sh ! The Scout will kill him, I expect,
when he gets nearer. Let's see how he does it,"
whispered David.

But, strange to say, the Scout, after watching



a
II



IN THE WOODS 25

the big rat land, moved noiselessly across to his
hut, and came out with a bit of cheese, a little
piece of which he poked softly across to the bank
with the end of his stick. The rat had vanished.
But before long he came out, fetched the piece of
cheese, and ran back to his hole. The Scout put
another crumb, nearer this time. The rat came
out and fetched that. Gradually he came nearer
and nearer.

Presently he got so bold that he stayed and
ate the crumbs of cheese quite close to Danny
and then sat up and cleaned his whiskers with his
little pink hands, and seemed to be combing his fur
and brushing his little round ears.

The three boys watched, fascinated. They
had never before thought of making friends with
a water rat and watching his habits. Their
first thought had always been to kill the happy
little creature, who was out enjoying the morning
sunshine.

Suddenly Nipper could sit still no longer ; he
stretched his legs, which broke a rotten twig and
made such a noise that Danny looked round and
saw the three heads watching him through the
bracken.

1 Hullo ! ' he said. " Come and see my little
camp." He smiled and looked so friendly that
the three boys got up and came half-shyly out into
the open space.



CHAPTER VI

THE LAW OF THE WOLF CUB PACK

THE mysterious boy of the woods took them
into his hut, and showed them how it was
built. Then he let them put wood on his fire, and
after that he gave them each an apple.

" You pinched those from old Crookedshank's.
I know ! " said Bill.

Danny looked surprised. "No," he said; "I
bought them from Mr. Cruikshank."

" You silly ! ' said David. " He's as deaf as
a post, and there's a big hole in his fence just
by the apple-tree. Fancy buying apples ! '

" Then you would have stolen them from a
very poor and deaf old man ? What a dirty
trick ! Besides, stealing is a sin, and no chap with
a sense of honour would do it." He looked very
serious, and for the first time in their lives the
boys felt really ashamed of themselves and had
nothing to say.

But Danny had changed the subject. He
showed them how to carve sticks. He told them
all sorts of things about birds and squirrels and
rats. But first of all he made them each a bow

26



THE LAW OF THE WOLF CUB PACK 27

and some arrows, with pheasants' and pigeons'
feathers, which they found in the woods, to make
them go straight.

" I wish we could always stay with you," said
Nipper suddenly, " and live out in the woods,
and learn to talk to the birds, and shoot with
our bows, and be always happy, with no more
rows and jawings and punishments."

"Yes!" said David and Bill together. "And
could you make us Scouts ? We'd win lots of
badges."

Danny laughed. " You're too young to be
Scouts," he said, " but you might be Wolf Cubs.
Who are you ? '

"We live up at the Hall," said David. "Mr.
Ogden is our grandfather."

"Oho!" said Danny. "So you're the little
terrors I've heard so much about ! '

The boys hung their heads.

" My word ! you're not the sort of chaps they
have in the Cubs ! ' he continued. " From all
I hear, you seem to be regular little Bolsheviks !
Do you know, Cubs have to do a good turn for
somebody every day, but you seem to do a bad
turn to somebody every day and more than one,
too."

The boys were silent.

" Squat down," said Danny, " and I'll tell you
a bit about Cubs. It's not all play, you know.
Chaps who join the Cubs have to behave decently,
whether they're in uniform or not. Once you've
taken fche Cub Promise, you're a Cub all the time,
day and night. The Cubs have two laws they've



28 THE MYSTERIOUS TRAMP

got to keep. One is obedience they promise to
obey the grown-ups. Could you do that ? '

" We never have," said Bill, digging his fingers
into the moss, " but we could if we tried."

" Then the second law says you mustn't give
in to yourself that means, you mustn't do all
you feel like doing, whether it's right or wrong.
You mustn't steal Mr. Cruikshank's apples, and
say rude things to people, and tell lies, and fight
each other."

" It would be very hard to keep all that," said
Nipper, " but it would be worth it to be Cubs."

" And I think perhaps we should be happier,"


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