Brad’s observation caused the other Cubs to glance alertly toward the clump of bushes. Distinctly, they could see a crouching figure among the leaves.

“Someone is hiding there!” cried Red.

His words carried across the chasm and to the man who squatted close against the wall of the cliff.

As the Cubs watched, the bush moved convulsively. They saw the shadowy figure retreat behind the screen of foliage, and finally disappear on a trail.

“You scared him away, Red!” Dan exclaimed. “Who was he, anyhow?”

“Maybe the person who carved that grotesque face in the clay wall,” commented Brad. “Whoever he was, he didn’t want us to see him.”

“Let’s go after him,” urged Chips, eager for action. “How about it?”

To reach the opposite side of the chasm, it would be necessary to make a sharp descent, and an equally sharp climb on the other side. By the time the Cubs could reach the site of the carved clay face, the fleeing man would be far away.

“No use going after him,” Mr. Hatfield decided. “After all, he may have as much right to be in this park area as we.”

“Do you suppose he was the one who carved that queer face?” speculated Fred.

“It’s very likely,” agreed his father. “The face isn’t quite finished. Notice the left side. The cheek is only half carved.”

The Cubs stood for several minutes, gazing at the huge face which seemed to return their stare. A lowering sun cast a reddish-golden glow over the upper section while the remainder of the carving was shrouded in cool shadow.

“Whoever did the work is a skilled sculptor,” commented Mr. Hatfield. “It’s possible that the park authorities authorized someone to make the carving.”

“But why in clay?” pointed out Brad. “A few heavy rains will destroy the work. To be of permanent value, it would have to be carved in the rock face of the cliff.”

“And this part of the park seldom is visited,” contributed Midge. “If the park authorities ordered the work, wouldn’t they want it done where visitors could see it easily?”

Mr. Hatfield acknowledged the logic of the Cubs’ deductions. He readily agreed that the carving might have been done by a crank, a man with a peculiar twist of mind.

“A very talented individual, however,” he added.

“Who in Webster City would have the skill to make such a carving?” speculated Mack. “I don’t know of anyone.”

Further study of the unusual carving, convinced the Cubs that it was intended to be the face of an Indian.

“I wish we had that old boy for our pow-wow!” chuckled Dan. “We’d certainly out-class Den 1.”

Rather elated by their discovery of the carved face, the Cubs lingered for awhile. Then, as the hour grew late, they started back to the beach at a brisk pace.

“I guess now you’ll quit twitting me about my vivid imagination,” Red said, enjoying his victory. “Who was right after all?”

“You were,” Brad told him. “We’ll send you a letter of apology.”

“Never mind that,” laughed Red. “Just treat me with more respect in the future.”

Upon reaching the beach site, the boys began to gather up their belongings, preparatory to starting to their separate homes.

“If we’re going to get ahead of Den 1 in the Indian handicraft exhibit, we’ll have to meet here almost every night after school for a week or two,” Dan informed his companions.

“That’s right,” echoed Brad. “You heard Ross boasting that the Den 1 Cubs have their Navajo hogan already up. We’ve not even started.”

“We can get going on that tomorrow night,” Chips declared. “How about a trading post or a Wells Fargo station?”

“We can make ’em if the fellows want to,” Brad agreed. “Just to be different though, why not try a big sand painting?”

“What’s that?” demanded Chips, whose knowledge of Indian tradition and ceremony was limited.

“Dan will tell you,” Brad said. “He’s been reading up about it at the library.”

Urged to share his information, Dan began by explaining that the art of making sand paintings had been adopted from the Pueblo Indians and made into a high art by the Navajos.

“Twenty years ago, few persons were allowed to witness the making of a sand painting,” he told the Cubs. “Even today, the Indians seldom allow anyone to sketch the pictures or take photographs.”

“Then how are we going to make one?” Midge demanded.

“Oh, the ordinary designs and patterns are available. I was just giving you the background. Among the Navajos, sand painting is a sacred ceremony, held in connection with healing of the sick or initiation of a member into the tribe.”

“Most sand paintings are started at daybreak, aren’t they?” prompted Brad.

Dan nodded, warming to his subject. “That’s so they’ll be completed before sunset. It’s supposed to bring bad luck, if a painting isn’t done in one day. Several persons work on the larger pictures, but a medicine man or high priest always is in charge of the work.”

Fred asked what type of scenes were used in the paintings.

“No two are alike,” Dan explained. “The designs are all abstract, symbolic in meaning. Colored sand is used, of course. Each color has a special significance. For instance, browns and grays are for fulfillment. White represents the morning. Blue is for goodness or happiness.”

“That sounds too hard,” complained Mack. “Can’t we make something easy like a house or a sunset?”

“It wouldn’t be according to the Navajo tradition. I’m in favor of trying to do it right or not at all.”

“That’s so,” chimed in Red. “Let’s stick to the Cub motto: ‘Do Your Best.’”

“I’m for that,” Mack agreed. “But how are we going to get colored sand?”

“That’s easy,” declared Dan.

He told the Cubs they might use powdered paints, ground-up flower pots for the red color, table salt for white, and cornmeal for yellow. From library books he already had compiled several drawings from which they might make a selection of design.

“Say, you know all about it, don’t you?” Chips demanded, admiringly. “Let’s elect him Medicine Man, fellows. How about putting him in charge of the sand painting?”

“Sure,” agreed Mack and Fred, glad to turn the responsible assignment over to the capable denner.

All the others likewise voted for Dan.

“I’ll gather together the stuff we need,” he promised. “When it comes to making the painting, though, I’ll need plenty of help.”

With Dan in charge, the other Cubs were confident that all details of the project would be carried through with speed and efficiency.

By far Dan was the most popular Cub in Den 2. Not only was he even-tempered, modest and an excellent student and athlete, but he had a way of “making things go.” The boys never had forgotten how he had saved the Den’s honor when a Webster City pheasant raiser wrongfully had accused them of stealing his valuable birds.

The story of the Cubs’ encounter with the foreman of the farm and their part in saving his prize pheasants during a disastrous flood, has been told in the first volume of this series: “Dan Carter, Cub Scout.”

By placing Dan in charge of the sand painting project, the boys felt that the job already was half done.

Mr. Hatfield now came up to inquire if the Cubs were ready to leave.

“It looks like rain tonight,” he remarked, surveying the darkening sky. “So don’t leave anything lying around.”

“Where’s that paddle you painted this afternoon?” Brad asked Red. He had noticed that the boy did not have it with him.

“Didn’t you pick it up?”

“Why, no.”

Chips looked troubled. “I didn’t see it lying on the beach a minute ago,” he said. “Anyone else pick it up?”

The other Cubs looked blank, shaking their heads.

“I’ll flash back there and have another look-see,” Chips offered. “Wait for me.”

He was gone a long while. When finally he rejoined the group, he was without the paddle.

“It’s gone,” he announced, his face grim.

“Then someone must have picked it up,” declared Dan. “Everyone check.”

The Cubs could not find the missing canoe paddle among their belongings or anywhere nearby. Thinking that Mr. Holloway or Mr. Hatfield might have locked it into the cabin, Brad went there to look.

“No sign of it,” he reported. “I’ll bet a cent that paddle is still on the beach.”

“You look then,” Chips challenged. “I couldn’t find it anywhere.”

The Cubs dropped their knapsacks and trooped down to the beach. Chips’ footprints plainly were visible in the sand, showing where he had wandered in his fruitless search.

“See any paddle?” the boy demanded.

“Are you certain you left it here, Red?” Dan inquired dubiously.

“Certainly I’m certain! Right here by the river. I wanted it to dry so I left it turned up to the sun.”

“Well, it couldn’t have paddled itself away!” Chips wisecracked.

“Very funny!” Red glared at him. “I spent a long while painting that paddle. Now it’s gone. Either one of you took it for a joke or—”

“On your honor, fellows, has anyone seen Red’s paddle?” Brad soberly questioned the group.

All the Cubs reasserted that they had not touched the missing item.

“When last I saw it, Red was laying it out in the sun just as he said,” added Midge. “Maybe it floated away.”

“Like fun!” Chips snorted. “This river doesn’t have a tide. I know what became of that paddle!”

“What?” Dan demanded.

“Ross Langdon took it!”

For a moment after Chips had made his accusation, no one spoke.

Then Mack said thoughtfully: “He was around here making remarks. He looked at the paddle several times.”

“He came here to snoop!” Chips accused angrily. “He was afraid Red’s paddle would win a prize in the handicraft contest, so either he took it for meanness or he pitched it into the river.”

“Ross didn’t have anything in his hands when he left here,” Dan said quietly.

“Then he shoved it into the river and it floated away! That’s probably what it did!”

“Chips, don’t go completely off your base,” Brad interposed. “You’re making some pretty rash accusations.”

“Ross likes to win,” added Dan. “He’s boastful too. But I’d hate to think he’s dishonest.”

“One Cub never should make that accusation against another unless he’s prepared to back it up with proof,” resumed Brad severely. “You’re only making wild guesses, Chips.”

“Well, if Ross didn’t take the paddle, who did? Answer me that!”

“I don’t know what became of the paddle, Chips. Red was rather careless though, to leave it lying so close to the river’s edge.”

“Oh, so it’s all my fault?” cried Red.

“Now don’t get huffy. No one is blaming you. On the other hand, we’ve no right to put it on Ross.”

“Just wait until I see that lad,” Chips muttered. “I’ll drag it out of him!”

Brad took Chips by the arm, giving him a little, impatient shake.

“Get hold of yourself,” he advised. “Do you want to stir up bad feeling between Den 1 and Den 2? If you go to Ross and accuse him, you’ll get all of his denmates sore at us.”

“Our Indian pow-wow will turn into full scale war instead of a nice friendly competition,” warned Dan severely. “You can’t do it, Chips.”

“Oh, all right,” the boy growled. “If you’re going to make such a fuss about it, I’ll keep quiet. I’m convinced though, that Ross got away with that paddle! I’ll keep on thinking so too, unless it shows up.”

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