The next night after school, all the Cubs except Mack, who had a paper route, gathered at the Holloway beach for canoe practice.

Dan, Brad, Chips and Fred had passed their swimming tests with flying colors. Red, less skillful at water sports, was assigned to painting paddles.

Mr. Hatfield provided him with a number of interesting Navajo designs, telling him to make his own selection.

“If you do a good job of painting, Red, we’ll exhibit your paddle at the Indian pow-wow,” he promised. “An award is to be made to the Den that turns in the most artistic one.”

“I’ll come up with a prize winner!” Red grinned. A talented art student in the Webster City elementary school, he was confident of his ability. “Right now, though, I’ve got other things on my mind.”

“Weird faces on the cliff?” the cubmaster prompted.

“My honor’s at stake,” Red declared. “If you’ll just give me a chance to prove—”

“All in good time,” promised Mr. Hatfield. “First, canoe practice, and then we’ll hike to the ravine to satisfy our curiosity.”

While Red busied himself on the beach, painting paddles, the other Cubs, took turns using the canoe Mr. Halloway had provided for their use. Brad and Dan already had mastered the knack of guiding the craft skillfully and were developing strong arm muscles.

After a hard paddle against the current, the two Cubs returned to shore to give up their places to Chips and Fred.

As they stepped out on the sand, they saw a newcomer talking to Red.

“Why, that’s Ross Langdon!” Dan muttered under his breath. “What’s he doing here?”

“Scouting for Den 1, I’ll bet a cent,” Brad replied. “You know Ross! He’s already afraid we’ll get ahead of him somehow.”

“We usually do, too,” grinned Dan.

Ross and Dan long had been friendly rivals. Both were excellent swimmers, though in a Pack competition, Dan had proven himself to be the better. Ross, who prided himself upon excelling in all sports, never had forgotten.

“He’s here to see how we’re getting along in canoe practice,” Dan remarked. “Well, I hope he gets an eye full!”

Ross was tall and gangling, having grown so fast that his Cub uniform already was too small for him. He was strong for his age, inclined to be arrogant, and was the least liked of any boy in Den 1.

Aware that Mr. Hatfield and Mr. Holloway were within hearing distance, Ross addressed the two Cubs respectfully enough.

“Working hard, I see.”

“Oh, just practicing a little,” Dan answered carelessly.

“You should,” Ross retorted boastfully. “Den 1 is all set to take you for a cleaning in the canoe race. We’ll win in a walk.”

If the Den 1 boy had hoped to get a retort from Brad or Dan, they disappointed him by remaining silent. Irked by his failure to start a spirited debate, Ross picked up the paddle upon which Red had been working.

“Hey, be careful!” Red protested. “You’ll make the paint run!”

“Couldn’t make it look much worse than it is,” Ross said contemptuously. “You should see some of the paddles Den 1 has painted.”

“Works of art, I suppose?” Brad asked dryly. “Going to exhibit ’em at the museum?”

“Maybe, after we’ve nailed first prize at the Pack exhibition.”

“Put that paddle down before you wreck it!” Red ordered furiously. “You’re getting sand on the fresh paint.”

“Excuse me.” With an elaborate bow, Ross laid the paddle on the sand near the river’s edge. Glancing around, he next demanded: “Where’s your hogan?”

“Haven’t started it yet,” Brad replied. “We’ll probably get it up over the week-end.”

“Den 1 has a dandy all finished,” Ross continued boastfully. “We put it up in nothing flat.”

Dan could not resist saying cuttingly: “It probably looks like it too! We aim to take our time and do a good job.”

Ignoring the jibe, Ross glowingly described the accomplishments of the Den 1 Cubs. Not only had they completed a Navajo hogan, but they likewise had started to build a trading post and a Wells Fargo station, he informed his listeners.

“We’re building a loom too, for blanket weaving,” he went on grandly. “And we’ve already gathered six boxes of clothing to send out West to the Navajo reservation.”

“You’re ahead of us all right,” Dan conceded. “But we’ve only started on the program. You’ll see us put on steam.”

“I hope so. Otherwise, Den 1 will have absolutely no competition at the pow-wow.” Affecting a bored air, Ross sauntered away.

“That snoop!” Red snorted. “He came here to spy and for no other reason. I don’t believe half what he said.”

“It’s probably true Den 1 is ahead of us, but that doesn’t mean it will be that way in another week,” Dan declared. “They started in before we did, so naturally we’re behind.”

Red, who a few minutes before, had been very proud of the Indian design he had painted on the paddle, gazed at it with distaste.

“I guess it isn’t much of a job,” he admitted.

“It’s a swell design!” Brad reassured him. “Not that you won’t be able to do even better with a little more practice.”

“I’ll work on an original design—not one copied from a book!” Red announced grimly. “I’ll show that Ross Langdon!”

“That’s the spirit,” laughed Brad. “Maybe it’s a good thing he came prowling around here. It will spur us to greater effort.”

After Ross had gone, the Cubs kept on with their canoe practice until long shadows began to finger out across the water. Mr. Hatfield then called a halt.

“It’s getting late,” he said. “If we want to hike to the ravine, we’ll have to make a start.”

Dan and Chips pulled the canoe out of the water, taking care to drag it far up on shore beyond the reach of waves. There they overturned it so that it would be dry when they wanted to use it again.

“We’ll let Red lead the way,” Mr. Hatfield said as the boys started off through the woods. “Think you can find the ravine?”

“I’m sure I can, Mr. Hatfield. And I’ll prove—”

“Sure, we know,” cut in Chips wearily. “We’ll believe you when we see it. Just lead the way and don’t give with so many promises.”

Goaded by the knowledge that his fellow Cubs still believed his report of the previous night to be a brain fantasy, Red started doggedly off through the woods.

At first he followed the well-marked trail. After going a short distance, he hesitated briefly and then moved off in a diagonal direction.

“Everything looks different in the daytime,” he complained. “I think I came this way, but I’m not sure.”

“Give up already?” Fred teased.

“Not on your life.”

“The ravine is just ahead,” said Mr. Hatfield. “It extends for the entire distance of the park preserve though.”

Presently, the Cubs emerged from the trees to find themselves on a great limestone rock overlooking a deep gash in the earth.

In either direction, as far as they could see, stretched the shadowy ravine. At the bottom, a tiny stream of clear water rippled and foamed over the rocks.

Opposite the Cubs, the cliff walls rose somber but entirely blank.

“Where’s your big face, Red?” Brad demanded.

“I must have come out at the wrong place,” Red mumbled. “It should be here, or somewhere close.”

“Not even a trace of a bon-fire,” remarked Chips. “I guess this proves who was right, Red.”

“It does not!”

“Give him a chance, boys,” interposed Mr. Hatfield. “The place Red’s looking for may be up the ravine from here.”

“That’s right,” Red agreed quickly. “This doesn’t look like the place at all.”

“Well, lead us to it then,” urged Fred. “That’s all we’re waiting for.”

Considerably let-down, Red turned to the left, picking his way along the edge of the ravine. At intervals, he paused to scan the walls and shelf of rock.

“Hey, my feet hurt!” Chips presently complained. “How much farther do we walk?”

Red halted, gazing at Mr. Hatfield in despair.

“It’s no use, I guess. I never came this far last night.”

“I’m afraid we’ll have to give up the search for this afternoon,” the cubmaster said regretfully. “We can try again sometime, Red.”

The Cub made no reply, but was sunk in gloom. Well he knew that the other boys would make life miserable for him, twitting him about his vivid imagination.

He was grateful that during the hike back along the ravine, they refrained from making remarks.

Reaching the turn-off by the granite boulder, Red again paused to survey the site.

“I think we went the wrong direction,” he said. “If we’d turned right instead of left, we’d have hit the place. Close by too.”

“No alibis,” chided Chips.

“Just give me five minutes more,” the boy pleaded. “That’s all I ask. Five minutes! If I can’t find the place by that time, then I’m willing to eat worms.”

“Five minutes?” repeated Mr. Hatfield, noting how rapidly darkness was falling upon the ravine. “I guess we can give you that much time, but no more.”

“Come on, then,” Red urged, leading off, almost at a dog trot. “We’re traveling fast this time.”

The Cubs were hard pressed to keep up. Sure of foot, Red skirted close to the edge of the steep cliffs.

“This is the right way, I’m certain!” he encouraged the others. “I think I remember that white birch!”

“You think!” Chips exploded as he caught his shoe on a sharp rock. “You better be sure.”

Abruptly, Red halted. So suddenly did he stop that those behind him bumped into one another.

“What did I tell you!” he fairly shouted. “I guess this proves whether or not I was dreaming!”

Through a gap in the bushes, the Cubs glimpsed the opposite wall of the ravine. One section of it had fallen away, leaving an expanse of rich clay.

From this surface loomed a grotesque carved face, that of a man with very severe features.

The Cubs were so taken aback that for a full minute they could only stand and stare. Then Dan exclaimed:

“It’s real enough. Gosh, what a face!”

“How did it get here?” Brad demanded. “Who carved it?”

“And what about that fire Red saw?” added Chips.

“I can see where a fire was built on that rock shelf directly below the carved face,” observed Mr. Hatfield.

Both he and Mr. Holloway were mystified by the strange carving, having had no knowledge that anything of the sort could be found in the park area.

“Someone was here last night all right,” the cubmaster declared.

“And someone’s here now,” murmured Brad, peering intently down into a clump of bushes directly behind the dead ashes of the camp fire. “We’re being watched by a man who’s hiding there in the foliage!”

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