Professor Sarazen had very little to say when Dan gave him the disheartening information about the Navajo blanket. His kindly silence, however, made the Cubs feel all the worse about the loss.

“It wasn’t your fault,” the professor said quietly.

“But it was!” Dan insisted. “When we borrowed the blanket, it was understood that we’d take good care of it. We never dreamed anyone would run off with it in broad daylight.”

“It may show up later,” Professor Sarazen said to encourage him. “I hope so.”

Well aware that the Cubs felt very badly, he did not add that the blanket was one of the most valuable in his collection.

While Dan talked with Professor Sarazen, Mr. Hatfield and Brad again searched the hogan where the blanket had been left.

“Hello! Something else is gone!” the Cub leader exclaimed, his gaze roving swiftly about the interior of the hut. “I stored a box of tinned food here, ready for a cook-out later this week. You didn’t move it, Brad?”

“Haven’t been inside this hogan all day.”

“Well, it went the same way the blanket did,” Mr. Hatfield said grimly. “Frankly, Brad, I don’t like the way things are disappearing.”

“That paddle too,” Brad recalled. “The Cubs still blame Ross.”

“I don’t think he took it,” Mr. Hatfield said. “Ross isn’t a thief. Someone else is prowling around this camp. We’ll have to be very careful about leaving anything of value lying around, even during the daytime. Warn the Cubs.”

“I will, Mr. Hatfield.”

In inspecting the inside of the hut, the Cub leader’s eye picked up several moccasin prints not far from the doorway. He stooped to examine them.

“Ha! Here’s something!” he exclaimed.

“Moccasin prints!” agreed Brad. “Say, do you suppose those two Indians—White Nose and Eagle Feather could have been sneaking around here?”

“It’s a possibility, Brad.”

“They didn’t wear moccasins though,” the Den Chief recalled. “I noticed that they wore cowboy type boots.”

“These prints definitely were made by an Indian moccasin. No use saying anything about it to the other Cubs, Brad. It might make them uneasy. Just keep your eyes open, and be careful about leaving things unguarded.”

“I sure will, Mr. Hatfield.”

As the Cubs left the camp to return home for supper, Dan was in a very dark mood. Not only was he discouraged over the loss of the Navajo blanket, but he wondered how the sand painting ever could be properly completed.

“That’s right,” Brad sympathized with him. “You were using the design on the blanket for the sand painting, weren’t you? That is tough.”

“I made a rough sketch of it. But it’s not a very good job. The design is so complicated, I doubt the Cubs can follow it.”

“Can’t you take an easier design?”

“Yes, but we have the center all done. I guess it’s better to go on, but it’s going to be hard.”

“We ought to get that blanket back somehow, Dan. Professor Sarazen didn’t say so, but I have a hunch it’s worth a lot of money.”

“Losing it has taken all the fun out of planning for the pow-wow. Any idea what became of it, Brad?”

“An idea maybe. But nothing we can act on.”

The two Cubs had reached Morton and White St., where they must separate to go to their individual homes. They paused in front of Grisby’s Grocery Store to say goodbye.

Standing there, Dan chanced to glance through the big plateglass window where an array of fruit had been temptingly displayed.

It was not the fruit, however, which held his attention. Instead, his gaze fastened upon two men inside the store. They stood at the counter, making purchases from Mr. Grisby, the owner.

“Our friends!” Dan exclaimed. “Looks as if they’re buying camp stuff. At least they’re getting enough to last ’em awhile.”

Brad turned to stare through the big grocery store window.

“White Nose and Eagle Feather!” he exclaimed.

“Let’s go in and talk to them,” Dan suggested impulsively.

“I’d like to—very much,” Brad said, thinking of the missing Navajo blanket. “I’d like to ask them some questions. It might not be wise though.”

“I know what you mean, Brad. The same suspicion is in my mind.”

“We don’t dare accuse them of anything, Dan. We have no proof.”

“Oh, I realize that. But at least we can talk to ’em. We might learn something.”

“What’ll we say?”

“We could make the excuse of inviting them to our next Cub Scout meeting.”

“Not a bad idea,” Brad instantly approved. “White Nose and Eagle Feather could tell the Cubs about Indian customs. Let’s do it!”

Their minds made up, the two boys entered the grocery store.

The Indians had their backs turned and did not appear to notice Brad and Dan.

Eagle Feather was completing a grocery purchase. He had bought bacon, flour, matches and items one might need if embarking on an extensive camping trip.

Now that they were in the store, Brad and Dan hesitated to speak to the two Indians.

The Cubs were not actually afraid of the strangers, but their appearance seemed less friendly than at the meeting by the cliff. Eagle Feather and White Nose were grimly intent upon their purchases.

“Go ahead,” Dan urged Brad in a whisper, giving him a nudge. “Ask ’em.”

Brad moved closer to the counter. Both Indians now saw the boys, but stared at them without friendly recognition.

For an instant the boys were taken aback, wondering if they had made a mistake.

But a second glance reassured them that the Indians were the same pair they had met at the cliff.

“Good afternoon,” Brad began politely.

Yah eh tah!” responded Eagle Feather.

Taken aback, because he knew that both Indians spoke English almost perfectly, Brad momentarily was at a loss for words.

“You remember us,” Dan said, coming to the rescue. “We’re the Cub Scouts you met at the cliff. We want you to come to one of our meetings and talk to the boys about Indian customs. Will you?”

The two Indians stared stoically, as if they had not understood a single word of the request.

It was Dan’s turn to become confused. He could not comprehend the Indians’ strange behavior. Why were they turning on the “freeze,” pretending that they never had seen the pair before?

White Nose deliberately turned his back to Brad and Dan. He directed himself to the storekeeper.

Doh quih?” he demanded.

Then as the storekeeper failed to catch the meaning, he grudgingly interpreted in English, “How much?”

“Eight dollars and twenty-three cents.”

White Nose paid the amount, receiving change for a ten-dollar bill. He pocketed the money and picked up the box of groceries. The pair left the store without a second glance at the two Cubs.

“Well, was that a brush-off?” Dan demanded indignantly.

“They knew us all right! For some reason they pretended otherwise.”

“Maybe they stole the Navajo blanket, and were afraid we’d jump them for it, Brad!”

“Exactly what I was thinking,” Brad agreed soberly. “Looks as if they’re planning on camping out somewhere in the woods, judging from all the supplies they bought. If they’re going to stay anywhere near our river place, then it behooves us to keep watch!”

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook