out, a big yellow moon had appeared and the stars were twinkling merrily up above.
After the last patrol had been gone an hour the Scouts who, when their duties were finished, had gathered in headquarters, moved on to the top of Otter Creek hill. They had decided that this would be the best place to watch the coming of the circus cavalcade.
The valley presented a queer appearance at that hour. Here and there were red lights standing out against the darkness, while from various points along the highway came the glow of tiny battery lamps as the Scouts signaled to each other.
"They look like a lot of fireflies," said Bruce, after he had watched the series of dots and dashes that the boys were flashing back and forth.
"Yes," said Bud, "just like mighty big fli—. Hi, fellows, here comes the circus! See 'em—that string of lights coming down Willow Street—hear that rumble of the wagons?"
"Sure enough!" exclaimed Bruce, who was as enthusiastic as the rest.
Up the long hill, in view of the group of wide-eyed and thoroughly interested boys, came the phantom-like caravan. A string of swinging lanterns fastened to the center pole of each wagon marked its course.
First in line were the grumbling and rumbling red and blue animal vans, followed by two rattling canvas wagons. Then a troop of little black and white ponies appeared hitched in fours to light gilt and red vehicles that held all sorts of odds and ends. In the rear of the ponies followed the camels; great, long-legged creatures that grunted at every stride as if they were indignant at being kept up so late. Gaudy band wagons, the cook's outfit and a heterogeneous assortment of vehicles came next, all of them moving slowly up the hill while the drivers dozed in their seats.
"Say, isn't it great?" cried Romper Ryan as he took in every little detail.
"You bet it is!" returned Babe Wilson, breathlessly. "I wonder where the elephants are. Oh, here they come!"
The clank of chains could be heard above the grumble of the wagons, and a moment later five huge elephants appeared out of the darkness. They lumbered along sleepily, their massive heads and long trunks swaying from side to side at every stride. The forelegs of each beast were chained together with stout links of iron, but there was little need of fetters, for the animals were apparently so docile that the idea of running away seemed farthest from their minds. The leader of the drove was, of course, the largest and apparently the meekest, for as he scuffled by the Scouts the boys saw that he walked with his tiny eyes closed exactly as if he were asleep.
A string of a dozen red vans followed the elephants, and at the very rear of the line was the big steam calliope. It was muffled and silent now, out its driver was snoring lustily as if to keep its reputation.
"Gee, but that was worth staying up to see," said Ray Martin, the first to find his tongue, after the cavalcade had passed on down the valley.
"You bet it was," said Bruce. "Jove, I'm almost sorry we decided—Say!
Look! Something has happened! See the lights down there by the old
quarry hole? The circus has stopped! Look, there are some signals!
It's the patrol! Can you read them?"
"'We—need—help. Elephant—in—in—' What the dickens is he talking about? I couldn't get that last, could you, Bruce?" asked Bud Weir.
"Yes; he said that an elephant is in the quarry hole. By George, one of those big beasts has fallen down into Tollen's old quarry. There was a washout down there. Come on, fellows!" And the Scouts started at top speed down the North Valley road toward the scene of trouble.
A SCOUT IS RESOURCEFUL
Bedlam reigned at the quarry hole. A score of frantic circus men were shouting orders at each other, lanterns were bobbing about among the wagons, and every one was beside himself with excitement. One little gray-haired man seemed almost distraught over the situation. He was storming up and down the road, alternately roaring commands and delivering tirades against everything in general. It was quite evident that he was the manager of the outfit.
"Now we're in a fine mess," he thundered as he strode to the edge of the quarry and peered down into the darkness. "It's so dogon dark down there we can't even see th' brute. How'll we ever get him out? That's what I want to know. Hang the man who's responsible for this mess! Gol-ding t'—wush—phew."
His soliloquy on the brink of the quarry hole ended abruptly when with a snort the elephant shot a trunk full of water out of the darkness, bowling the little man over and drenching every thing and everybody.
"Kill t' beast! Kill him, Gol—ding his hide!" screamed the dripping manager as he picked himself up out of the mud. But he was such a comical figure that every one shouted with laughter.
To Bruce and the Scouts the whole situation was extremely humorous. Evidently the lead elephant had wandered into the washout and lost his footing. The next thing he knew he had slid with a big splash into the quarry hole. And then, having a fondness for water and seeing no way to climb up the twenty-foot wall of rocks, he had decided to stay there and have a thoroughly good time.
But Bruce realized that they could not indulge their humor long, for as guardians of the road it was their duty to give all the assistance they could. Hastily the patrol leader made an inspection of the pit by the light of his pocket flash. He remembered a derrick on one side of the cut. And he hastened to look that over, for already he was beginning to form plans for getting the beast out of trouble.
He noted with satisfaction that the derrick had been only partly dismantled and that the rusty steel cable was coiled up in a pile beside the heavy upright. Then he returned to the roadside and approached the agitated little manager.
"We are the Guardians of the Highways for Woodbridge, sir," he said, "and we would—"
"You are the WHAT!" roared the manager.
"The Guardians of the Highways and—"
"Well, why in tarnation didn't yuh guard 'em then? I—I—I—"
Bruce interrupted the sputtering manager by pointing to the red light.
"There's our light. We did our part. It must have been your fault. But no matter; we'll help you get the animal out of the quarry if you'll let us.
"How'll yuh do it? Haven't got a thing in my outfit t' pull him out with."
"Oh, we'll do it all right," said Bruce. Then briefly he outlined his plan to the skeptical circus manager. And when he had finished talking the old man looked at him in amazement.
"Can you do all that?" he demanded.
"Sure we can," said Bruce. "We're the Boy Scout Engineers. Just loan me some of your canvas men who know how to rig a block and tackle and we'll have the elephant on his way to St. Cloud by daylight at the latest."
"All right, I'll go you," said the manager.
Bruce gathered about him all the Scouts not doing patrol duty.
"Fellows," he said, "we can get the elephant out of the hole all right, but it will mean some hard work. I want you, Romper, to go back to Woodbridge and tell the parents of every fellow here that we have serious work to do. Tell them not to worry if we don't get back until late. Then I want the Owl Patrol to go to headquarters and get all the No. 10 wire we have on hand, load it