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America First

William Henry Giles Kingston

  Produced by Larry B. Harrison, Archives and SpecialCollections, University Libraries, Ball State Universityand the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


  "I wouldn't go when you dared me to," said thetenderfoot, "but this is--different." And he added in his heart: "Thisis for _my country_." [_Page 23._]]













  "I wouldn't go when you dared me to," said the tenderfoot, "but this is--different." And he added in his heart: "This is for _my country_" _Frontispiece_


  A man was sitting over some sort of instrument 36

  "You can't touch Rudolph!" she cried. "He's under the flag!" 86

  "Riego Yanez," he said, "I am proud to shake hands with an American hero!" 120


  This is the story of a "tenderfoot"--of a pink-cheeked, petted lad,and of his first service as a Boy Scout.

  Danny Harding was what his mother's friends termed "wonderfullyfortunate," but Danny himself took quite another view of his life'scircumstances as he hurried home from school one afternoon, an hourbefore the regular time for dismissal.

  The day was golden with sunshine, but the boy's spirit was dark. Therewas singing in the air and singing in the tree tops, but in the heartwhich pounded against his immaculate jacket were silent rage anddespair.

  The Whippoorwill Patrol had been called to the colors, and he theuntried, the untested tenderfoot would have to remain at home inluxurious security, while the huskier, browner, less-sheltered ladsanswered their country's call. It was beyond the power of a boy'sheart to endure--the mortification--the wild despair of it! They wouldcall him a slacker, a _coward_! But, worse still, his country neededhim, and he could not answer!

  Danny brushed away the tears which threatened to blind him, andstumbled on.

  The call had come through a telegram from the Scout Master to the boyswhile they were yet at school, and the teacher had promptly dismissedthem to service. The Whippoorwills were to leave immediately upon anexpedition to the mountains, but just what duty they were called toperform was not stated in the brief message. All they knew was thatthey were to leave at once for a certain distant mountain-top, therepitch tents and await orders for serious service.

  On receipt of the news the other boys had rushed off noisily witheager joy to don their khaki uniforms and make ready, but Danny hadslipped down a by-street--a wounded, a hurt thing, trying to hide hisanguish away from mortal sight. He would not be allowed to go--heknew it--for he was the only son of a widowed mother who loved him alltoo well. He was her all, her idol, and her days had been spent inpampering and shielding him.

  Only a week before, the scouts had gone on a hike together and she hadrefused absolutely to allow Danny to accompany them--the sun would betoo hot, he might get poisoned with wild ivy, he would be sure toimbibe fever germs from the mountain spring!

  No, thought the miserable boy, she would be doubly fearful, doublyunwilling, now that the Whippoorwills were to do serious scout duty onDeath Head Mountain.

  Danny's soul raged against his soft fate as he stumbled up the sidesteps of his handsome home and entered his mother's presence.

  He did not fly to her arms as he was wont to do, but, instead, flunghimself into the first convenient chair with a frown. He could nottrust himself to speak.

  But even in that moment of stress Danny realized that his mother hadnot hurried to him for the usual kiss. She was struggling with somesort of bundle, and she only looked up with a quick smile.

  The next instant, however, the smile of welcome died out of her face,and she stopped suddenly and regarded him with a startled question inher eyes.

  Danny frowned more darkly, and moved uneasily under her searchinggaze. He looked away in a vain attempt to hide the tears which hadsprung to his eyes.

  And then came the unexpected:

  "Danny," said his mother, in a voice that sounded new to him, "Ireceived a long-distance phone message from the Scout Master, and--hesaid he had wired to the school----"

  She paused a moment, and then asked: "Didn't you get the message?"

  "Yes," said the boy doggedly.

  There was a pause, and then his mother deliberately put down thebundle she had been working with, and approached. She came and stoodbefore him, with her back to the table as if for support. Danny didnot look up into her face, though he saw her white, jewelled handsgrasping the edge of the table, and they were strained and tense.

  "My son," she said, "what is the matter with you?"

  He was too full to answer.

  "Danny," she began again presently and in that new voice, "you won't_do_ this way--you _will not_!" And then suddenly a white, jewelledhand was struck fiercely upon the table, and the new voice exclaimedpassionately:

  "Daniel Harding, if you sit around and cry like a baby when you arecalled to the service of your country, I'll--I'll _disown_ you, sir!"

  "Mother!" And Danny sprang to her arms.

  There were a few moments of sobbing, laughing confession from Danny,and then his mother explained to him her unexpected change of attitudetoward scouting. Danger?--yes, of course she knew that this mightinvolve danger to him, but this call was for no frolic--it was to theservice of his country! He _was_ her all, everything in the world toher, but the one thing which she could not, would not bear would be tosee him turn "slacker" and coward when other mothers' boys--not tenyears older than Danny--were already on the firing-line in France!

  "Our part in this war is the old fight of '76, Danny"--she said tohim--"_nothing less than that_! The Colonists fought to winindependence for America. We are fighting now to save thatindependence won. And if it takes every man in America--every boy inAmerica--if it takes _you_, Danny--there is just one answer for anAmerican to give."

  And then the two of them hurriedly finished tying up the bundle shehad put aside. It was his kit for the expedition!

  It was a newer, bigger ideal of patriotism which Danny Harding tookwith him into his service on Death Head Mountain. His mother, wholoved him all too well, had yet sent him from her with nothing shortof her positive orders to do his duty like a man.

  * * * * *

  The Whippoorwill Patrol had answered the call to service, and thegrowing dusk found its members arranging their camp for a night'sbivouac in a lonely stretch of woods "somewhere" on the crest of theBlue Ridge Mountains.

  The Scout Master had not come, but his orders had, and theWhippoorwills were busily engaged in executing them.

  "Camp in Mica Cove, conceal your fires, and wait for me," the ScoutMaster had telegraphed. "You are called to service."

  So here they were in Mica Cove, hardily preparing for whatever serviceto their country it might be theirs to perform, and excitedly guessingat what ominous circumstance had necessitated their sudden calling out.

  Of course, everybody knew that old "Death Head" must have come i
ntosome added evil repute, and would have to be taken in hand. And thatthey would shortly be scouting over all its lonely trails nobody hadany doubt whatever.

  There were eight of them, for the whole patrol was present. Youngestand happiest of them all was the pink-cheeked, petted tenderfoot,Danny Harding. He was no "slacker," no "coward"! He was here with theothers to play a manly part in serving his country, and his mother hadsent him from her with a smile!

  Besides Danny, there were in the ranks L. C. Whitman, nicknamed "Elsie,"Ham and Roger Gayle, Alex Batre, Ed Rowell, and Biddie Burton--as huskyand jolly a bunch as could well be got together. All these were olderthan Danny, and, as all were more or less seasoned to scouting, theywere quite disposed to have their fun out of the new recruit.

  Danny took their teasing in good spirit, however, for he