After school for the next three days, the Cub Scouts spent much of their spare time either at the river or gathering clothing to be shipped to the Navajo reservation.

No more was said about the missing paddle. Though the Den 2 boys saw Ross Langdon in school, they avoided mention of their loss.

Red meanwhile, obtained another paddle, and went quietly to work on a more elaborate design. The finished job was so much better than the first that all the Cubs declared the Den might actually have been the gainer for having lost the paddle.

Not to be bested by Den 1, the boys set as one of their major projects, the making of an Indian hogan.

The house, they decided, would be made of best tree boughs and covered over with mud and clay. Brad pointed out that while it would be easier to use canvas or cloth for the slanting walls, the mud would be more in keeping with Navajo tradition.

Hogans were circular, six or eight-sided huts, with a roof-hole for the escape of smoke, he explained. The structure had only a single door which traditionally faced east toward the rising sun.

“The north side of the hogan always is the ‘woman’s side’ of the house,” Brad went on with a grin. “In our hut, we’ll skip that. We want it to look like a real Navajo hogan though. So we’ll need a lot of clay. When it hardens on the skeleton-pole structure, it should form a hard, rain-proof surface.”

“We can get plenty of good clay over the cliff,” Dan suggested. “I noticed the quality was especially good there at the ravine near the carved face.”

“Grab buckets, fellows, and let’s go after it,” Brad urged.

Sure of the route, he led the Cubs through the tall hardwoods toward the ravine. A saucy bird trilled at them from a tall pine. Otherwise, except for the chattering of a squirrel, the forest was very quiet.

Well aware that the other Cubs shared his eagerness to view the carved clay face once more, the Den Chief hiked directly to the ravine.

The air felt cool and damp as they emerged from the woods, directly opposite the great carved face.

“Gosh, it’s still here!” exclaimed Chips. “I’d half convinced myself it was all a pipe dream.”

“The carving is real enough,” declared Dan in awe.

Even more than upon their previous visit, the Cubs were impressed by the lifelike appearance of the staring face.

As they gazed fixed at it, Midge inquired if the park authorities had been informed of the Cubs’ discovery.

“Mr. Hatfield talked to the park superintendent about it,” Dan told the group. “It was all news to Mr. Jennings. He said it must be the work of a crank. Park employees have been instructed to try to catch the sculptor, but they haven’t time to keep watch constantly.”

“Work has been done since we were here last,” observed Brad. He had been studying the face intently. “See! That section to the left has been finished.”

“That’s so,” agreed Red. “It’s funny the park people can’t catch the fellow.”

“They’re not too disturbed about it,” Brad replied carelessly. “After all, the carving is a credit to the park. Mr. Hatfield says it’s certainly being done by a skilled and talented sculptor.”

“He doesn’t have any idea who the person may be?” Dan questioned thoughtfully.

“Not the slightest. In fact, Webster City has only one really talented sculptor, and he’s so far up in years, it’s unlikely he’d attempt anything like this.”

After gazing at the clay image for awhile, the Cubs descended the sharp incline and struggled up the steep, uneven slope on the opposite side of the ravine.

Catching their breath, they viewed the strange face at close range. Lips and cheeks of the weird creature had been colored with powdered red sandstone. Bits of broken dishes formed the whites of the eyes.

To the left of the face, on the rock shelf lay a grotesque fallen tree trunk, its dead fingers of roots stretching out toward the carving. It was at the base of this tree that the Cubs found the dead ashes of a fire.

“Gosh! It gives me the creeps just looking at that face!” Fred muttered. “Let’s get our clay and beat it.”

The boys began to fill their pails. Now and then as they worked, they kept casting furtive glances at the face on the wall. A grim, half-smile played over the stoical features, as if the carved man were enjoying his own little joke.

“Where do you suppose that bird keeps himself?” Mack demanded suddenly. “The one who does the carving, I mean?”

“He may hide in the forest here,” Brad replied. “Whoever he is, the park officials will catch up with him in time. They’re just too busy to spend much time watching.”

Dan straightened suddenly. His attention had been seized by a faint rustling sound and a slight movement of bushes to the right of the clay face.

He stood tense on the rock shelf, convinced that someone was watching.

“What’s wrong, Dan?” Brad asked, instantly alert. “See anyone?”

“Indians maybe?” teased Red.

The snicker died on his lips and his blood fairly congealed as two men silently stepped from behind the foliage. Both wore corduroy pants, rough looking shirts, boots and sombrero-type hats.

However, the gaunt faces with skin pulled tightly over cheek bones, plainly distinguished them as Indians.

“Jeepers creepers!” Chips muttered and sucked in his breath.

The Cubs instinctively clustered together. Although the sudden appearance of the two strangers did not frighten them, they were made vaguely uneasy.

The taller of the two Indians wore a bracelet decorated with silver and turquoise. An ornamental belt girded his lean waist.

“Good afternoon,” said Brad. He spoke evenly enough though inwardly he was quaking a bit. “Anything we can do for you?”

The Indian replied with a guttural rumble in his throat.

“No speakum English,” murmured Red, with a wink at Fred.

The Indian froze him with a quick glance.

“Speakum English very well,” he replied sarcastically. “I graduated from the University of New Mexico.”

“Oh!” gasped Red, taken aback. “I—I’m sorry. I thought from your clothes—that is—”

“Never mind, Red,” Brad came to his rescue. He spoke politely to the two Indians. “We’re a Den of Cub Scouts, out for a hike. This carved face interests us. You made it perhaps?”

The Indian shook his head. “I am Eagle Feather,” he introduced himself. “This is White Nose. We are of the People.”

“That means you’re Navajos, doesn’t it?” asked Dan, who had been reading up on customs of the reservation Indians.

“We come from New Mexico,” Eagle Feather replied.

“We search for one of our brothers,” added the other Indian. White Nose also spoke excellent English, though with less ease.

His raven-hued hair was combed back straight and long. In the lobe of his left ear hung a single turquoise earring.

“A scurrilous prairie dog!” muttered Eagle Feather.

“You see him, perhaps?” White Nose questioned.

“No prairie dogs,” answered Brad. “In fact, this is all Greek to us. We don’t know who you’re talking about.”

“Say, I bet this is all a joke!” exclaimed Mack. “Mr. Hatfield has planned this whole thing to point up our Navajo pow-wow!”

Midge gave him a quick kick in the shins. The grim expressions of the two Indians had convinced him that their appearance had not been planned by either Mr. Hatfield or Mr. Holloway.

The two Indians had turned to regard intently the weird carving on the cliff wall.

“We search,” said Eagle Feather, “for the one who made that face in the clay. I called him brother, but he no longer is of the tribe. He is an outcast.”

“Dishonored,” added White Nose.

“He must be punished for his sin against the tribe,” went on Eagle Feather. “You have seen him here at the cliff?”

“We don’t know what you’re talking about,” Brad declared uneasily. “We came upon this carved face only a few days ago. We don’t know anything about it, and that’s the truth.”

“What’s this tribesman done that you’re so anxious to find him?” Dan asked curiously.

The two Indians, however, did not reply to the question.

Apparently satisfied that the Cubs could provide them with no information, they spoke together for a moment in their own tongue.

Then, with polite farewells, they vanished back into the trees.

For a long while after the Indians had gone, the Cubs remained speechless.

“Did it happen? Or did we dream it?” Mack muttered.

“We didn’t dream it,” replied Brad soberly. “I almost wish we had.”

“Those guys are tough,” said Dan. “Did you notice the expression of their faces? Whoever that Indian is that they’re after, I feel sorry for him.”

“He must have violated some law of the tribe,” Chips speculated. “Gosh! This is going to be exciting!”

“It may be a lot more than that,” declared Brad. The Cubs saw that he was deeply worried. “I don’t like it a bit—not a bit. Grab your clay fast, and let’s get out of here. I want to talk to Mr. Hatfield.”

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook