Reaching Woodcraft late the next afternoon Walter at once hurried to the dark room adjoining Dr. Merriam's office to develop his plates. To his dismay he found that needed chemicals for fresh developer were lacking, and he was unwilling to risk his plates in the old and necessarily weak developer on hand. There was nothing for it but to possess himself in such patience as he could until a fresh supply could be obtained from the city. Dr. Merriam promised to send at once. Leaving Big Jim to report to the doctor the results of their trip Walter sought the wigwam.
He found Tug rewinding his split bamboo and Billy Buxby assisting with a ceaseless stream of unheeded advice.
"Behold the mighty hunter!" exclaimed Billy with an exaggerated bow of mock deference as Walter entered.
" What luck ? " asked Tug, as he tied the final knot and reached for the shellac.
Walter rapidly sketched a brief account of his two days at Lonesome Pond, but in his enthusiasm over the deer hunt forgot to mention his double catch of trout. " Anything new here? " he asked finally.
Tug shook his head. "Nothin' much. Harrison came in with a three-pound brook trout this morning, and unless some one gets in to-night with something better that will give the Senecas the score for this week. Say, the gloom in this little old shanty is something fierce. If it was any one but Harrison there'd be no kick comin'. He's gettin' such a swelled head he can't see anybody outside his own tribe. I'd like to punch it for him,,, growled Tug savagely.
" Say," he added as he looked up, " what's the matter with you, you grinning Cheshire cat?"
" Nothing much," replied Walter, " only day before yesterday I landed a double, for a total of five pounds ; brook trout, too."
Tug and Billy fell on him as one. " Say it again ! Say it again ! " begged Tug as they pinned Walter to the floor and sat on him.
" I got two trout at one cast, and they weighed five pounds. Does that beat it?" gasped Walter, giving up the struggle.
" Counts same as one fish," whooped Billy joyously.
" Well, we win anyway, for one of them weighed over three and a half," said Walter, giving a sudden heave that sent Billy sprawling. " Now what's the matter, you old gloom chaser?"
" Walt, you ain't foolin', are you ? Tell me, you rabbit-footed tenderfoot, have you got proof? " implored Tug.
"Big Jim's word for it, and a photo," replied Walter.
Tug's face cleared. " That's good enough. Oh, my eye, wait till that record is posted tonight !" he chortled.
Tug was not disappointed. The record held, and the Delawares celebrated that night with a bonfire and war dance in which Walter, to his confusion, found himself the central figure. Harrison's chagrin was too evident to escape notice, and his defeat was rubbed in with a malice born of his growing unpopularity.
The next morning when Walter met him and offered his hand Hal passed on as if the other lad were a stick or a stone. The insult was witnessed by several Delawares and by members of Hal's own tribe. That night a meeting of indignation was held by the Delawares, and in spite of Walter's protest and the efforts of Woodhull and one or two of the older boys, it was voted to send Harrison to Coventry so far as the Delawares were concerned, that is, he was not to be spoken to or recognized in any way.
In his own wigwam Hal was only a degree less unpopular. The leaders tried to induce him to make an apology, pointing out to him that he was violating both the spirit and word of the Scout's oath, but the effort was without avail. The high-strung, undisciplined boy, accustomed from babyhood to having his own way, fawned upon by all with whom he had hitherto come in contact because of his father's great wealth, was utterly unable to adjust himself to the new conditions which surrounded him, to the democracy of which he was now a part yet of which he had no under standing. So he went his headstrong way, and if in his heart were bitterness and misery he made no sign.
The Senecas stood by him with half-hearted loyalty because he was a fellow tribesman, but there was not one whom he could call a friend. So he became more and more isolated, spending his days fishing, the proudest, loneliest boy in all the big camp. The fact that he continued to score with big fish gave him a measure of standing with his tribe, and to maintain this became his chief object in the daily life.
Walter was thinking of this and wondering what the outcome would be as early one morning he headed his canoe for a setback some three miles from camp, which he had discovered the day before. The entrance was so hidden in a tangle of alders and brush that it was only with the greatest difficulty that he could pick out the channel. He had passed the spot dozens of times without suspecting that anything lay beyond.