Young Knights of the Empire

by Sir Robert Baden-Powell



_And he is to do his duty before anything else, even though he gives up his own pleasure or comfort or safety to do it. When in difficulty to know which of two things to do, he must ask himself, "Which is my duty?" that is, "Which is best for other people?"--and do that one._

_He must Be Prepared at any time to save life or to help injured persons._

_And must try his best to do a good turn to somebody every day._

* * * * *


Once when driving in my car I passed a man on a sunny, dusty road, and I thought after I had passed him whether I might not have offered to give him a lift. Then I thought probably he would be only going a short distance to some house a little farther along the road.

As I sped farther and farther upon my way, I saw no house and no turning, and therefore I argued that the poor man would have to be walking all this dusty way when I might have given him a lift.

But while I sat all this time thinking, my car was rushing me miles away from the spot. Eventually I made up my mind that I ought to go back and do my good turn to the man. But I had gone so far that when I got back again to where I expected to find him, he was not to be seen. He had evidently taken some short cut across the fields, and I never saw him again.

But the memory of it lingered in my mind for a long time, and ever since that, when driving along, I have been quick to make up my mind and use the opportunity when it has presented itself, of giving a lift to any weary wayfarer.

I don't want to make out myself as being so very good for doing this kind of good turn, for that is easy enough with a motor-car; but what I do want to point out is that you should never let your chance go by, else you may regret it, as it might not occur again. Your motto should be--"Do it now."

* * * * *


Always remember that in going through this world we only pass this way once, and if we miss our chance it never comes again.

I believe that our first business in life is to be happy. This world with all its beauties and its sunshine of happiness was meant for us to enjoy. When clouds come over with grief or pain, they are only the contrasts to show us what true happiness is and to make us appreciate it when it comes.

The shortest and most certain way to happiness is to make other people happy. Even if we cannot make them happy, we can at least be helpful to them. But so often we forget to do this, or, as I did in the motor-car, leave it till too late, and let the chance slip by.

In order to be continually happy, the thing is to be continually doing good turns. To get a habit you must at first carry out a great deal of practice, and that is why it is part of the Scout Law to do a good turn every day.

At first it may come a little difficult to remember each day that you have this duty to do, and you may have some trouble in finding a job that will be helpful to other people but if you stick to it, and force yourself to do it day by day, it very soon grows into a habit with you, and you then find how many little things you can do which all count as good turns although small in themselves.

I could tell you endless yarns of the different kinds of "good turns" which the Boy Scouts have done, but one of the most pleasing that I have heard lately was when a Scout carefully placed a piece of orange peel on the pavement, and when asked why he had done this, said:

"I am doing a good turn to some other Scout by giving him the opportunity of doing his good turn by removing that orange peel so that people will not slip on it!"

* * * * *


A poor fellow was lying pretty badly hurt when I came upon him one afternoon. His left leg was broken, and an artery in his right arm was cut through, while he was evidently badly burnt about the chest.

How it all happened I didn't stop to inquire--I merely looked at the steps which had already been taken to doctor him. His arm was bound up with a handkerchief "tourniquet," twisted tight with a stick, to stop the blood squirting from the artery; his leg was bound between two straight bits of wood; and his tummy was covered with a mixture of wool, oil, and flour, which suggested that with a little more roasting the patient would have made a good pie!

I need scarcely add there was not much the matter with him except that he belonged to a patrol of Boy Scouts who were practising "first aid."

In the same troop another patrol were cooking a very savoury Irish stew, mixing dough on a haversack (which, I think, is quite as good as my way of doing it inside my coat!), and baking bread in an oven made out of an old biscuit tin, and roasting "twists" made on stakes planted near the fire. (For "Tenderfoots," anxious for details as to how these things are done, I recommend a study of the chapter on camp cooking in _Scouting for Boys_.)

The point about this cooking was that the food was being really well cooked, and fit for anyone to eat with enjoyment.

In the same troop signallers were at work sending and receiving messages. And also one of their horsemen was there to act as mounted dispatch rider, with a smart pony which he was able to saddle and look after as well as to ride. Nearly every Scout in this troop was a First Class Scout, of an average age of thirteen.

Two hundred yards from their little camp was another troop of younger Scouts, of about eleven years of age. All were busy cooking their teas at numerous little camp fires at the time when I saw them, and made a most picturesque scene.

Then a third troop had its camp in a different spot, where three patrols of boys of about fifteen years of age were collected. Fine, strapping, long-limbed types of Britons. It was a pleasure to see them going "Scout pace" across the grass, and a still greater pleasure when I found that they were as good Scouts as they looked. Nearly all were First Class Scouts. I was invited to hand out to them the Efficiency Badges they had been winning.

These included quite a number of First Class, Cyclists', Firemen's, Musicians', Electricians', Cooks', etc.

I had just said a few words to the troop of my pleasure at seeing them so smart and so efficient, when the alarm was given that the school buildings were on fire. A few brief words of command were given by the Scoutmaster, and each patrol streaked off in a different direction at a great pace. We hurried to the scene of the outbreak, and had just time to see (in our mind's eye only) dense clouds of smoke with tongues of flame and showers of sparks bursting from the doomed building, while the windows were alive with terrified women and screaming children--that is what we were picturing--when out came a knot of Scouts running the fire-hose into position, and joining it up from one part of the building, while from another there came a second patrol trundling along the great giraffe-like fire-escape. Within four minutes of the alarm the leading fireman was up on the ladder directing the nozzle of the hose-pipe with a strong jet of water on the windows of the (supposed) burning chamber.

It was all very smartly, quickly, and quietly carried out, and the patrols thoroughly deserved the Firemen's Badges which they had won.

Denstone College, where I saw all this, is one of the great schools which have taken up scouting as a sport and training for their boys; and the results, according to the masters who act as Scoutmasters, are most satisfactory.

* * * * *


Recently, all in the one day, I came across three cases of Scouts doing their duty.

One lady told me that when travelling in a crowded train she and her daughter were put into a carriage which was already crammed full of boys.

She did not like it a bit at first, but she soon found the difference between "Scouts" and "boys." These were "Scouts," and they at once helped the ladies and their baggage into the carriage, and then made plenty of room for them by sitting on each other's knees, and kept order and behaved so nicely that she fell in love with all of them, and talked with them and found them "quite charming and gentlemanly."

Another lady told me that some Scouts had asked leave to camp in her grounds, and as she has allowed boys to do this for some years past, she did not like to refuse them: at the same time she was not very glad to have them, because she had found it expensive and troublesome every year to have to get the camping-ground cleaned up and set right after they had gone.

The day after the Scouts had finished their camp, she sent as usual some men to work on the camp-ground, when to her astonishment, they came back and said there was no work to be done there, the ground was all clean, rubbish and ashes removed, and turf replaced. And then she remembered that these were "Scouts," not ordinary boys, who had been camping there--and she will be glad to see them there again whenever they like to come!

The weather this morning was beautifully hot and fine, but in the afternoon it suddenly changed to cold, windy, and steady rain. Numbers of ladies and children had gone out for a day on the beach or in the country. In one case a woman and her two children had to come back part of the way in an open boat, and then in a steam-launch, in their summer clothes, without umbrellas or waterproofs.

A Scout who was there seemed to have foreseen bad weather, as he had two waterproof coats, and he gave up one and offered it to cover the children.

"Well!" you would say, "that is easy enough, and he kept himself dry and snug in the other."

No, he didn't, he put that on the woman, and went and did the best he could for himself on the lee side of the deck; he put a smile on and pretended that a cold trickle down the back is a good thing for the complexion; and that is what any other Scout would have done in the circumstances.

* * * * *


On different occasions I have had the pleasure of issuing Silver Medals to Scouts for gallantry in saving life or assisting the police.

Scoutmaster Crowther, of the Huddersfield Boy Scouts, went to the assistance of a police constable who was being violently assaulted by some roughs in a slum. Although he was knocked about himself in doing so, Crowther managed to help the officer, and, by blowing his whistle, to get more police on to the scene. The principal offenders were arrested, and ultimately got six months' imprisonment from the magistrate, who at the same time highly complimented Mr. Crowther on his plucky action.

Scout P. L. G. Brown, of the 7th (All Saints) Southampton Troop, did much the same thing. He saw a police constable struggling with four violent roughs, and, although there was a hostile crowd round them, Brown remembered his duty and dashed in to help the officer. Although he got a kick on the knee, he was able to get hold of the policeman's whistle and to blow it, and in this way brought more police upon the scene, so that the four men were arrested and punished.

Brown himself went away without giving his name or making any fuss about what he had done, but he was discovered and later on received the Silver Medal.

Then, when I was reviewing the Gateshead Scouts, I heard of the case of two Boy Scouts being rewarded by the magistrate for their gallantry in assisting the police.

The Scouts of Newton Abbot were at hand when a motor-car dashed into a cart, smashing it up and injuring the two occupants. The Scouts detained the car; and although the motorists endeavoured to drive off, they put their staves between the spokes of the wheels and hung on and prevented the car getting away until the police came up and took charge.

It was splendid how these Scouts showed such pluck and readiness in helping the King's officers. They got knocked about in doing so, but what are a few bruises? They wore off in a few days; but the thing that won't wear off is the satisfaction that each one of those Scouts will feel for the rest of his life--namely, that he did his duty.

* * * * *


Dr. Wilfred Grenfell is an ideal type of peace Scout, and during his labours as a missionary in Labrador he has had many adventures.

On one occasion he had to visit a sick man at a place two days' journey from where he lived, and he started off with his sledge and team of dogs, to cross a frozen arm of the sea, which would save him a long journey round by land. But it was in the month of April, when the sea ice was beginning to get treacherous and to break up.

The distance across the ice was about seven miles, with an island about half-way.

He reached the island all right, and was pushing on from there to the opposite mainland, when he found that the ice was becoming rotten and soft--what is called "sish"--that is, pounded ice formed from big slabs which have been ground together by the action of the sea.

As he found himself sinking in this, together with his sledge, he slipped off his heavy oilskins and coat, and quickly got out his knife and cut the traces of his dog-team, winding the leader's trace round his wrist.

In this way he was himself pulled along by the dogs plunging through the slush. The leading dog got on to a solid ice-floe, and Grenfell was gladly hauling himself up to him by the trace, when the dog slipped all his harness off, and his master was left, sinking among the other dogs in the "sish."

Then he luckily caught the trace of another, and pulled himself along that till he managed to get on to the block of ice, on to which he helped the rest of the dogs.

But it was quite a small block, which would soon break up, so he saw that the only chance was to struggle on through the "porridge-ice" till he could reach a bigger floe, which could serve as a raft for him.

He did not, as some people might have done, give up all hope; he wasn't going to say die till he was dead.

So he took off his gauntlets and moccasins and packed them on to the dogs' backs, then he secured their harness so that it could not slip off, and tied the traces round his wrists so that the team would drag him through; then he tried to start.

But the dogs did not like facing the danger, and he had to push them off the block; even then they only struggled to get back, till a particularly favourite dog understanding him when he threw a bit of ice on to another "pan" or block? started, and so led the others to get to it.

In this way, dragging their master after them, the dogs struggled from pan to pan, till at last they reached one larger than the rest, about ten feet by twelve in size.

It was not real solid ice, but a block of powdered ice, which might fall to bits at any time. Still, it was the best they could get, and with the rising wind and current it soon floated with them on to more open water, and began to drift away from the shore and down the coast. So they had no choice but to make the best of a very poor substitute for a raft,

The cold was intense, and poor Grenfell, like a clever Scout, at once thought out a plan for making himself a coat. His moccasins were long, soft boots made of sealskin reaching to the thigh, so he slit these up with his knife, and, by means of a bit of line, he made them into a kind of cape to put on his back.

Hours passed, and they kept drifting out from the coast, and night was approaching.

Then he saw that he must have more clothing, and also that he and the dogs must have some food the only thing to do was to sacrifice one of his beloved team. So he made a noose with one of the traces, and slipped it over a dog's neck, and tied it to his own foot; then, holding its head down in this way, he threw the dog on its back, and stabbed it to the heart.

Two more were killed in the same way. Then he skinned them and stitched their hides together with thin strips of leather, and thus made himself a coat, with the fur inside.

All the clothes he had had on till then were some old football things he had come across that morning in his house. A pair of football shorts and stockings of the Richmond Football Club (red, yellow, and black), and a flannel shirt and sweater, so he was practically in Boy Scout's kit rather than what you would expect a missionary-doctor to be wearing.

But then, you see, he was quite as much a Scout as he was a doctor or missionary; and we understand from this story how, like a Scout, he was able to turn his hand to anything and invent for himself the different means for saving his life although he was all alone with his dogs on a small lump of rotten ice floating past the coast of Labrador.

There was one little point in which, perhaps, a Boy Scout could have helped him had he been there. As darkness came on, he thought he would light up a flare, which would catch the attention of anyone on shore, so he frayed out a piece of rope and smeared it with the fat of the dead dogs, and was about to light it when he found that his matches had got wet, and in that damp air he could not get them dry.

I wonder whether he thought of the Scout's dodge of drying them in his hair for a minute or two?

[Illustration: Dr. Grenfell as he appeared on the ice-floe, with a cloak of dog-skins, and puttees made of flannel taken from a dog's traces. He used his shirt for a flag, and made a flagstaff of frozen dogs' legs.]

In order to keep warm he used one of the dead dogs as a seat, with the other dogs hugged close round him for warmth. His feet being in thin moccasins, which easily got wet through, were freezing with cold till he thought of an idea for keeping them warm.

He had seen the Laplanders put a lot of grass into their boots before pulling them on, and then filling up the legs with as much more grass as they could cram in.

There was not much grass growing on his ice-floe, so Grenfell had to invent something to use in place of it; he cut from the dogs' traces some flannel with which they were lined to prevent chafing, and with this he stuffed the moccasins, and so made them warmer, and then bound the remainder round his knees as puttees.

In this way he got sufficient warmth to enable him to sleep. Towards morning he awoke with the idea that he must make something in the way of a flag to attract the notice of people on shore, and to show them that there was someone in distress on the ice.

The question was, how to make a flagstaff? I wonder whether a Boy Scout could have seen a way?

Grenfell took the frozen legs of the three dead dogs, and bound them together with strips of raw hide, and thus manufactured a staff, on to which he then tied his shirt to act as a flag. It worked very well till the sun rose, and then the legs began to melt a little, and the flagstaff became a very wobbly one; and, as the Doctor describes it, "almost tied itself into knots."

Like a true Scout, Grenfell never despaired; he kept thinking out different ways by which he might survive the danger.

He thought of setting light to some unravelled rope by using a piece of ice to act as a burning glass. In this way he hoped to attract the attention of the people on shore by a smoke signal; but, while he was busy preparing it, he saw the distant sparkle of what looked like an oar from a boat, presently he saw it again, and soon he could see the boat itself.

His flag had been seen by the fishermen, and they pushed out in their boat through the frozen ice till they got him and his faithful dogs all safely aboard.

One man had seen him the night before just as it was getting dark, and had spread the news down the coast, so that all the time, though he did not know it, anxious eyes were watching him.

The only difficulty was to get a boat through the mass of broken ice-floes and drifting ice, which covered the heaving surface of the sea between him and the shore, but pluck and strong arms did it.

In the end his rescuers brought him safely ashore, where every man, woman and child in the settlement was on the beach to welcome him with cheers and--many of them--with tears of joy.

Doctor Grenfell says that during the whole of this terrible experience he did not once feel fear. He felt that he would probably lie down and sleep his last sleep on that ice-floe; the thought did not disturb him very much.

At the same time, he did feel something of that regret which comes to all people when dying, and that was the remembrance of how much time he had wasted (even he!) when he had life and opportunities for doing good for other people, and how he had let his opportunities slide by without doing so much as he might have done.

So keep on doing good turns every minute whenever you can get a chance of doing them, and then when you are face to face with death, you will be able to say:

"Well, I did my best to do my duty. I did not waste much time on other things,"

* * * * *


It is not always in the field of action that Scouts can show their heroism; sometimes it is at home or in their private life, where their deeds are not so much seen. Here is a case:

Patrol Leader Leonard Sanderson, of the 1st Jesmond Troop, met with a bad lift accident, and smashed his thigh. But even when in awful pain, and in the shock of the sudden accident, he made light of it for fear of worrying his parents. Then he was for many weeks in hospital, and had to undergo several operations, but he was always cheerful and patient.

Many presents of fruit came to him, but, like a true Scout he shared them with the other patients. He made toys for the sick children, and helped the nurses to roll bandages. He never forgot his duty as a Scout, and proved himself a good example for others to follow.

* * * * *


"The boy who stopped the runaway horse would never have done it if he had not been a Scout. He was formerly a first-class young scamp and always in some mischief."

That is what the report says of him.

But that is what happens when a lad becomes a Scout; he is no longer a fool-boy, who goes about yelling aimlessly and making himself a nuisance to everybody. Instead of that he smartens into a manly fellow, ready at any moment to give a helping hand to anybody who wants it, and without taking any reward for it, and without thinking how poor or rich, how old or young the person may be.

I was talking once to a well-known nobleman, who told me that he broke his leg not long ago, and when it was getting right his doctor advised him to go and walk a little every day with two sticks to support him.

He accordingly went to Hampstead Heath, and was waddling along quite comfortably, an inch at a time, when a patrol of Scouts came up, and the Leader saluted and said:

"May we help you, sir? We could make a stretcher out of our coats and staves, and carry you."

The Duke said that when he looked at the boys and thought of them trying to carry him--for he is not a small man--he nearly laughed aloud; but as it was he thanked them very much and told them how he was walking purposely to get his leg into working order.

This kind intention, however, has given the Scouts a warm place in his heart.

* * * * *


When I am walking along a road or path, I generally do a little tracking every day, because it is only by constant practice that a fellow can learn tracking or can keep his eye in when he has learnt it. It is quite easy and simple to do, only Scouts often do not think of doing it.

Here, for instance, is what I did one morning. There is nothing wonderful in it, but Scouts will understand all the better that such practice should be an everyday matter, and not merely attempted on some great occasion. It is bound to be a failure then if it has not been regularly gone in for before.

My practice was on an ordinary country road, dry and hard, with a slight layer of dust in most places, up and down hill; between high hedges; no wind (wind, you know, soon flattens out tracks in dust and makes them look much older than they really are).

At about eight o'clock in the morning, as I passed from one field to another, I crossed the main road at the point where it reached the top of a hill.

I read some news on the ground, and this is what it said

"_Mrs. Sharp is ill this morning; and Johnny Milne has been to the railway station to fetch some newspapers._"

This was how I got at it.

There were only two fresh tracks. One was of a boy walking and the other of a bicycle.

The boy's footmarks showed a nailed boot, not big enough for a man, walking along the road which led to the school and to the railway station. It was Saturday, a whole holiday, so he could not be going to school; he would therefore be going to the station.

Why to the station? Because at 7.33 the train came with the newspapers, and there were his tracks going back again, (_They occasionally overtrod the outgoing footprints._)

One boy in the village, Johnny Milne, was employed by the shop to fetch the papers from the train.

So if the train were punctual he would have passed this spot on his way back about twenty minutes later; that was at seven minutes to eight.

[Illustration: "Mrs. Sharp is ill, and Johnny Milne has brought the newspapers from the station."]

Now, the bicycle track showed that the machine was ridden up the hill (_the track zig-zagged along the road, whereas if it had been running downhill it would have gone pretty straight_), the rider getting very tired (more _zig-zag_) near the top. There the bicycle had stopped (_sharp turn and slither of the wheels in the sand_), and the rider had got off to rest. It was a woman (_small foot, no nail marks, small, sharp heel_).

She had stood a short time (_footmarks on top of each other_), and had then remounted and ridden on. She had passed this spot between 7.15 and ten minutes to eight. (_The bicycle tracks had passed over Johnny Milne's outgoing track of 7:15, but his returning footmarks of ten minutes to eight overtrod the cycle tracks, so they had been made since it passed._)

What lady would be cycling along this road at that hour of the morning? (_A rather stout lady, too, judging from the breadth of her foot and the fact that she had to rest on arriving at the top of the hill_.)

The road led to a cottage where lived Mrs. Sharp, who was not very well.

The lady must surely be Mrs. Clarke, the matronly district nurse on her bicycle going to see Mrs. Sharp and she was still there (_as there were no return wheel marks_).

That is how a Scout can read news from the ground, and, though this morning's news was not important, it is always worth while to practise reading, because some day you will probably want to pick up some important information, and it is only everyday practice that will enable you to do it.

Valid HTML 4.01!