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The Lone Scout's Christmas

A Christmas Story for Boys

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Henry was of a mechanical turn of mind and he realized that doubtless the coupling had broken. That was what had happened. The trainmen had not noticed it and the train had gone on and left the coach. The break had occurred at the crest of the divide and the train had gone rapidly down hill on the other side. The amount of snow told the boy that it would not be possible for the train to back up and pick up the car. He was alone in the wilderness of rolling hills in far western Nebraska. And this was Christmas Eve!

It was enough to bring despair to any boy's heart. But Henry Ives was made of good stuff, he was a first-class Boy Scout and on his scout coat in the trunk were four Merit Badges. He had the spirit of his father, who had often bucked the November storms on Lake Superior in his great six-hundred-foot freighter, and danger inspired him.

He went back into the car, closed the door, and sat down to think it over. He had very vague ideas as to how long such a storm would last and how long he might be kept prisoner. He did not even know just where he was or how far it was to the end of the road and the town where his uncle's ranch lay.

It was growing dark so he lighted one of the lamps close to the heater and had plenty of light. In doing so he noticed in the baggage rack a dinner pail. He remembered that the conductor had told him that his wife had packed that dinner pail and although it did not belong to the boy he felt justified in appropriating it in such circumstances. It was full of food—eggs, sandwiches, and a bottle of coffee. He was not very hungry but he ate a sandwich. He was even getting cheerful about the situation because he had something to do. It was an adventure.

While he had been eating, the storm had died away. Now he discovered that it had stopped snowing. All around him the country was a hilly, rolling prairie. The cut ran through a hill which seemed to be higher than others in the neighbourhood. If he could get on top of it he might see where he was. Although day was ending it was not yet dark and Henry decided upon an exploration.

Now he could not walk on foot in that deep and drifted snow without sinking over his head under ordinary conditions, but his troop had done a great deal of winter work, and strapped alongside of his big, telescope grip were a pair of snow-shoes which he himself had made, and with the use of which he was thoroughly familiar.

"I mustn't spoil this new suit," he told himself, so he ran to the baggage-room of the car, opened his trunk, got out his Scout uniform and slipped into it in a jiffy. "Glad I ran in that 'antelope dressing race,'" he muttered, "but I'll beat my former record now." Over his khaki coat he put on his heavy sweater, then donned his wool cap and gloves, and with his snow-shoes under his arm hurried back to the rear platform. The snow was on a level with the platform. It rose higher as the coach reached into the cut. He saw that he would have to go down some distance before he could turn and attempt the hill.

He had used his snow-shoes many times in play but this was the first time they had ever been of real service to him. Thrusting his toes into the straps he struck out boldly.

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