(The curtain goes up on the same scene as Act I. Blankets are rolled up. There is a fire burning in the fireplace, and by the looks of the dishes and food bags around, it is evidently supper time. Stage light on full.)
(Fat and Stut stand front center on either side of a bucket as the curtain rises. Stut is evidently very much excited.)
Stut: Ge-Ge-Ge-Ge-Ge-Ge-Ge-Get it yourself! (Motions over shoulder with thumb toward offstage right.)
Fat: I got the last one.
Stut: Oh, You li-li-li-you-li-li-you-you
Fat: Don't you call me that. (Shakes fist.)
Stut: Oh you, you like to tell f-f-f-f-airy stories, dontcher?
Fat: In fact, I've brought all the water up today.
Stut (so excited he can't say a word): 0-br-je-ck-bbbf zt-keke (whistles) GOSH!
Fat: Tell you what I'll do, Stut, just to show you what a good sport I am. I'll match you to see whether you wait on me for supper or whether I wait on you.
Stut: B-B-UT it's your turn.
Fat (commandingly): Match! (pulling out coin.)
Stut: Aw-aw-aw-All Right.
Fat: Heads I win. Tails you lose. (Laughs behind hand.)
Stut: Flip it.
(Fat flips coin. Both run to look. Fat straightens up with a smile.)
Stut: D-D-D-D-D-D (whistles) Dog-gone it-(snaps fingers.)
Fat (seating himself on center stump): Now, slave, fetch the water.
Stut (picking up bucket): All right, Kink. (Salutes and exits right.)
Fat: Hey! (Throws stick of wood out after him. Settles back on stump. Looks offstage left.) Hey, Dan.
Dan (entering left): Aren't you going to eat tonight?
Fat: Sure, just as soon as my orderly gets the water.
Fat: Sure: Stut. Say, Dan, where's little yellow Bill?
Dan: I don't know and I don't care.
Fat: He hasn't been around much today, has he?
Dan: I wouldn't be if I were he: after last night.
Fat: He wasn't sick, was he?
Dan: Sick, my eye. He felt just as well as any of us. He could have done his trick on Guard Patrol last night.
Fat: Never showed up at all the whole two hours, did he?
Dan: He started out with me after I almost made him go, but on the way up to the guard fire he bolted. I never saw him again till I got back to the camp after midnight.
Fat: He was here when Stut and I came in, but we thought he must be sick so we never bothered him.
Dan: I sat down by his bed and tried to get him to talk. You guys were asleep. But he wouldn't answer me. I says, "Bill, why didn't you show up?" No answer. I shook him, but he wouldn't move. "You're a quitter," I says. He just laid there.
Dan: I guess so. I was so thick I could have poked his nose . . . Skipper had him over in his tent this morning.
Fat: What did he do to him?
Dan: Got me. Bill had been bawling though. I saw him just before swim. His eyes were all red. I wouldn't speak to him. Told him to police up his stuff for inspection, that's all. Gosh, I thought he was a good kid. He's been good up in the Troop: look at the way he can swim, too, and play ball. We've been pretty good friends, but he can go chase himself. I'm through. I won't stick around with a quitter.
Fat (in a low voice): Here he comes.
(Bill enters from right and crosses to tent, kneeling down and fumbling with the equipment inside. Dan crosses to stump, left and sits, whistling.)
Fat: Still feeling sick, William?
Fat: Want to do Guard Patrol tonight, Willie?
(No answer from Bill.)
Fat: Not afraid of anything are you, Willie?
(No answer from Bill, who gets up with his cook kit in his hand.)
Bill: Cook with me, Dan?
Dan (getting up): Cook with yourself. I'm particular who I cook with. (Walking toward right) Quitter! (Exits right.)
(Bill bites lip hard. Looks as if he wanted to cry, but controls himself as he watches Dan go off. Then turns quickly and drops kit in front of tent. Thinks a minute, picks up hat and exits left.)
Fat (Closing imaginary book): Here endeth a beautiful friendship. (Laughs. Looks for Stut and yells toward right.) Come on valet, do your stuff.
Stut (entering right with bucket of water): That's a long haul, Fat.
Fat: No whining, insect, you lost the toss. Now fetch some more wood for the fire. Go and fetch, Fido. (Imitates man sending off dogs.)
Stut: G-G-Golly, you got a nasty disposition. (Starts off right picking up wood. Goes offstage.)
Fat: Hey, break off some of that dry squaw wood from the trees. That stuff on the ground is wet.
Stut (offstage): Shut up, you big fat s-s-s-s-s-s
Fat: Boy, what that dog would say if he could only talk. (Stut returns with an armful of wood which he drops by fireplace.)
Fat: Now boy, my mixing bowl, spoon, and the flour: and hurry, it's getting dark.
(Stut looks at him sharply, but says nothing. He gets a pan, spoon and food bag of flour. Fat takes the pan and holds it in his lap; pours in some flour from bag.)
Fat: Flapjacks, my favorite fruit! Slave, some water (Stut gets a cupful from pail.) Flour, mixed with the correct ingredients according to my own special recipe. Pour in some water. (Stut does so) There that's enough. (Fat mixes) More water, there (Stut pours). OK, wretch. (Fat gets down from stump and goes to fire.) Now to cook. Here, hold this batter. (Hands pan to Stut. Fat kneels down and stirs fire; (picks up fry pan) Hand me that piece of bacon (Stut does so and Fat puts bacon in pan over fire.)
Stut: Boy, I like flapjacks, too.
Fat: You like Flapjacks, What of it?
Stut: Don't I get some?.
Fat: (laughing loudly) Can you beat that? Imagine a slave eating with a king. You eating with me, the Flapjack King. I ought to be crowned the Flapjack King.
Stut: (at the end of his endurance) You ought and you shall. All hail, the Flapjack King! (He suits the action to the word and crowns Fat with the pan of flapjack batter: upside down.)
Fat (is stunned. He sits motionless for a moment, then digging the batter from his face, yells): YOU BUM!
Stut (chanting): Fat, Fat, the Flapjack King, Fat, Fat, the Flapjack King.
Fat: (jumping up in a frenzy, yelling), I'LL GET YOU. I'LL KILL YOU. (He starts after Stut, who runs off right, chanting "Fat, Fat, the Flapjack King," while Fat chases him yelling "I'LL KILL YOU."
Scoutmaster enters, left: What's the rumpus? (Looks at mess by fire and then catches a glimpse of the chase off stage. He watches a minute and smiles.)
Man (From offstage left, comes a hail): Hi.
Scoutmaster: (yelling back) Hi.
Offstage yell: Where are you?
Scoutmaster: Right up the trail through the hemlocks.
(Scoutmaster stands watching. In a moment, a man in the rough clothes of a farmer or wood: chopper enters from the left, holding Bill by the arm. Bill looks fixedly at the ground.)
Man: Are you the master?
Scoutmaster: Why, yes, but what's the matter here?
Man: This youngster here was running away, I reckon. I thought I'd better fetch him back to you.
Scoutmaster: Bill running away. I'm afraid I don't understand.
Man: Well, I'll tell you what's so. just now, I was driving my car down the back road when this boy here steps out f from the side and hails me. "Would you be going in to the Valley?" says he. I allows that maybe I am. He wants to know if I'll give him a lift. I says "Where you going?" and he tells me he's going into the city. I didn't think he was dressed just right to go in town and besides it kind of seemed strange to me that a boy should be starting up to town at this time of night two miles up in the woods from Scout camp. So I says, "Does the master know you're going? He didn't speak up quick, so I says again, "Does the master know you're going?" No, says he. "Well don't you think you ought to let him know," I asks. I says, "He'll be worrying for you when it gets dark and can't find you." Then I says, "You're running away." "I've had trouble," he tells me. Sez I to him, ... Twon't do no good to run away f from trouble. You'd better go back and face it." I heard you all up here in the grove so I brought him back.
Scoutmaster: I certainly am obliged to you and I know Bill will be later on. Thanks very much, Mr....(extends hand).
Alan: Barber. (Shakes hands) One of the many Barbers in these parts. Well, I'll be driving on. Going to Grange meeting. Don't be too hard on the boy. (Turns to go.)
Scoutmaster: No I won't be. Good night. (Man exits. S. M. stands looking at Bill and Bill looks at ground.)
Scoutmaster: Well, Bill. (Silence) What have you got to say?
Bill: Dan's right, all right.
Scoutmaster: Right about what?
Bill: Right about what he called me.
Scoutmaster: What did he call you?
Bill: A quitter: (trying not to cry). Ever since last night when I wouldn't go on patrol, he hasn't hardly spoken to me: and I'd-I'd do anything for him. And just now, He called me that: a quitter.
Scoutmaster: Bill, why don't you tell me the truth about last night. Why wouldn't you go on guard patrol? (Silence) You didn't play fair with me this morning, so why don't you tell me now. Don't you know I'm your friend?
(Goes to Bill and puts hand on his shoulder. A moment of silence.)
Bill: (blurting out the words in a torrent) Oh, Skipper, I am a quitter. I wouldn't go because I was afraid: awfully afraid. I've always been afraid after dark. After Dark. (Shivers) I hate it at night. Everything is so black, and there are shadows and I see things. Like now, it's getting darker off there in the woods (Points).
I hate it. I hate it, I hate it. (Breaks down and sobs. Skipper leads him to center stump and stands beside him with his hand on shoulder as Bill sits, face buried in hands. If possible, darken stage lights gradually through rest of act.)
Skipper: I understand, Bill boy, I understand. It isn't your fault. Come on now, buck up, old man. I want to talk to you, man to man, see. (Bill quiets down.) Probably when you were just a little fellow something happened at night to frighten you and it scared you so badly that you've always had that fear of darkness. But you know there's really nothing to be afraid of, don't you?
Bill: I know there isn't, but I just can't help it.
Scoutmaster: You've got courage, Bill. You wouldn't hesitate to jump off a cliff into the water to save someone from drowning. You'd go right into a burning building to rescue someone, wouldn't you?
Bill: I think so.
Scoutmaster: Sure you would. You'd fight, if you had to, for some one you loved or for your good name. And yet right now, You'd let this fear trim you without even putting up your fists: without hitting back at all.
The biggest battles in the world aren't all fought in No Man's Land. Some of the biggest fights every man has are right with himself. Bill, you've got a big scrap on your hands: to down this foolish fear, and if you're the man I think you are, you'll send it down for the count. Put yourself to the test.
Bill: Gosh, I'll try, Skipper, but Dan....
Scoutmaster: Dan doesn't understand now, but he will. Don't you worry. And he'll be the first to help you: Now, listen. you go down to the pond and wash your face and then come on back and we'll eat.
Bill: Thanks, Skipper, I'm glad you understand.
Scoutmaster: Beat it now, Scrapper.
(Bill exits right and S. M. sits on stump, thinking for a moment, then starts whistling "The Soldier's Chorus" in a low tone.)
(Enter Dan from right, laughing.)
Dan: Skipper, did you see Fat with that batter?
Scoutmaster: Listen, Dan, come here. I want to tell you something, It's about Bill. I just got the right dope on him: about the guard patrol and everything. It seems that he's always been frightfully afraid of the dark ever since he was little. Got badly scared sometime, probably. He can't help it, you see: subconscious stuff. Couldn't bear the idea of patrolling last night in the quiet darkness. I've just been trying to sell him the idea that he's got the courage to overcome it, but he needs our help: yours especially, because he thinks a lot of you, I guess. Be a friend, Dan, encourage him, spur him on: Get the idea?
Dan: Gee, I never realized about that. And I called him a quitter, too. Where is he now? I'll make it up with him.
Scoutmaster: Down by the pond. (Dan exits right running.) He's out on the point, I guess. (Watches Dan a moment. A look of horror comes to his face. He jumps up, yelling) DAN, LOOK OUT FOR THE CLIFF: DA-
(There is a wild shriek from Dan offstage. S.M.stands paralyzed for a moment and then dashes off right.)
(For a quarter minute, the stage is empty and all is quiet. Then Stut dashes from right; grabs a blanket and exits. A moment more and Fat rushes in from the right lays out a blanket on the floor and makes a pillow of a sweater and towel. Then he gets first aid kit from the tent and opens up bandages, etc., on one of the stumps.)
(A murmur of voices is heard right, growing nearer.)
Scoutmaster: (offstage) : Easy there, easy.
(Enter Scoutmaster, Bill, Stut, and three other Scouts carrying Dan on a blanket stretcher. Four more Scouts follow in. Dan's clothes rumpled. Face bruised and bleeding a little.)
Scoutmaster: Lay him right here (guiding to pillow. They let the stretcher down easily. Dan lays tossing and groaning.)
Bill: Dan, speak to me!
(S. M. bends over and examines Dan's leg.)
Dan: Broken, Skipper? (In pain.)
Scoutmaster: Reckon so, son, but we'll have you right in a jiffy. (Thinks a moment.) Listen, Scouts, I want a couple of you to get back to the main camp as fast as you can and get the Chief to send out the doctor, with the truck and lots of mattresses. We'll carry Dan down to the road and wait there. It's more than two miles and it'll be pitch black in a jiffy, but you must get there fast. Listen, if you go by the Lost Road Trail and the Lumber Road, you can cut the distance in half. But that will be darker and awful hard going. But I think it will be faster. Who'll go?
Fat: Stut and I will go, Skipper.
Another Scout: I'll go with Joe, we're fast.
(Bill draws S. M. to one side.)
Bill: Please, Skipper, please let me go: alone. I'll go by trail and I'll make it faster than any of them. You know I can run.
Scoutmaster: But Bill, it's after dark.
Bill: Oh, I know, I know it is. I'm scared, awful scared, but for Dan: Gee, Skipper you got to let me go.
Scoutmaster: (turning) : Dan, who do you want to go for you?
(Bill gives one look at Dan; grabs flashlight and exits on run.)
ACT III: Headquarters at the main camp.
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.