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Four Boy Hunters by Captain Ralph Bonehill

Part 4 out of 4

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moustache and red hair."

"Well, that fits the rascal who is wanted, pretty closely."

"It's queer that he'd come to a place like this," was Whopper's

"Maybe he thinks it is best to keep in hiding, at least for the

"But why doesn't he go elsewhere?"

"He may be afraid to show himself in town, or at a railroad station."

The matter was talked over for an hour, and then it was decided to
visit the old cottage as early as possible on the following morning.

"And let us take our guns," declared Snap. "And we'll take a rope,
too---in case we have to tie him up."

The boys could scarcely sleep that night, so excited were they over
the prospect ahead. All of them were up at dawn and procured
breakfast as quickly as they could. Then the game-bags were filled
with provisions, the guns were overhauled, and Snap got the rope he
had mentioned.

"Now I guess we are ready," said Shep.

"Wait till I kick out the fire," said Whopper. "Don't want the
place to burn up while we are away."

The fire extinguished, they set off on their journey and were soon
a goodly distance from the lake. The snow had disappeared and the
day promised to be an unusually warm one. They did not look for
any game, and when a rabbit crossed their path nobody shot at it.

"We are after other game to-day," observed Snap, grimly.

"If only we have the same success as we had when we caught that
nigger," came from Whopper. "That was dead easy."

"I don't think we'll catch him asleep," said Shep. "He is a wide-awake
fellow, if nothing else."

On and on they went, covering several miles. They passed the trees
that were loaded with nuts, but did not stop, and soon came in sight
of the clearing.

"Now go slow," cautioned Snap. "If he sees us from a distance he
may take it into his head to run away."

"Maybe one or two of us had better go forward and investigate,"
suggested Giant.

This was thought a good plan, and Snap and Shep went forward, slowly
and cautiously, until they gained the very edge of the clearing.

"I see smoke coming out of the chimney," said Snap. "That would
seem to show he is still there."

The door to the old cottage was tightly closed, and growing bolder,
the two young hunters walked to it and knocked loudly.

"See that he doesn't slip out the other way," whispered Snap to
his chum, and Shep at once ran around to the other side of the

As there was no answer to the summons, Snap knocked on the door
a second time. Still there was no response.

"Guess I'll go in," he murmured, and pushed the door open.

The apartment beyond was the living-room of the old cottage and
a glance showed him a smouldering fire in the fireplace. Nobody
was visible.

From the kitchen the boy hunter went into the room beyond and then
ran upstairs.

"See anybody?" called Shep, as Snap showed himself at a broken-out

"No. Call the others."

Shep did as requested, and soon all of the young hunters were
making an investigation of the premises.

"He must have gone away this morning," said Giant. "See how the
fire is still burning."

"I wish I knew where he had gone to," said Snap, with a long sigh.

"Perhaps we can find out if we search closely."

In the cottage they found the remains of some meals the stranger
had had, and also some scraps of paper, including an envelope
addressed to Lusher Barrock.

"I wonder if that is his name?" said Snap.

"More than likely," answered Giant. "Did you ever hear of him before?"


They tried to put the pieces of paper together, but the effort was
a failure.

"Here is where he did some figuring," said Whopper, pointing to
the board, which contained numerous pencil marks. "Maybe---hullo!
look here!"

"What's up now?" asked Snap, running forward.

"Here is the name of Andrew Felps!"

"Felps!" came from all of the others in a chorus.

"Can that man have been here?" asked Giant.

"I must say, I don't understand this," came from Snap. "But I
have got an idea."

"What is it, Snap?"

"Of course I may be all wrong, but I'll give it to you for what it
is worth. Do you remember what my father said about those papers?"

"That they related to a certain patch of timber land?" said Giant.

"Yes; and that the Felps people wanted to get hold of the patch.
Well, this Lusher Barrock may be hanging around here trying to sell
the papers."

"To sell them?" said Shep, looking puzzled.

"Exactly. They are of no use to him, but they might be of use
to Andrew Felps and his lumber company."

"You mean that by getting the papers Felps might keep your folks
from cutting down the lumber on that tract?"

"Yes, and more. Felps may have some way of getting hold of the
land himself, if these papers are destroyed. I don't know the
whole truth of the case, but I know my father wanted the papers
and he didn't want Andrew Felps to learn that they were missing."

"Snap, I think you have struck the truth," ejaculated Shep. "I don't
know of anything else that would bring this Barrock---if that's his
name---to this locality. He must be watching his chance to meet
Andrew Felps."

"Would Felps be mean enough to buy the papers from him?" asked
Whopper. "Why, that would be dishonest!"

"I think that man is mean enough for anything!" burst out Giant,
who was not inclined to forget how badly he and his chums had been
treated by the individual in question.

"If this is true, Snap, the best thing we can do is to go over to
the Felps camp and watch out for this Lusher Barrock," said Shep.

"And that is what I am going to do," answered Snap.

"When will you go?" questioned Whopper.

"As soon as possible."

"We can't get to the camp very well from here. We'll have to go
back to Firefly Lake first."

"Do you suppose this Barrock went that way?"

"Maybe he did, or else he knows of some trail over the mountain."

"Well, we can go back to the lake, and then start for Lake Cameron
without delay," said Snap, and so it was settled.



The boys stopped to get dinner and then hurried back to the cabin
with all possible speed.

"This has been a long tramp for nothing," was Giant's comment,
as they trudged along.

"Oh, I don't think so!" answered Whopper. "I think we have learned
a good deal."

On the way back they could not resist the temptation to shoot
what game came in their way and thus brought down several rabbits,
a squirrel, four quail, and two wild ducks that chanced to show
themselves near the end of the lake.

As they neared the cabin they had to pass the bear trap that had
been set so many days. They heard a peculiar grunting.

"Listen!" cried Snap, coming to a halt. "What is that?"

"I am sure I don't know," said Shep. "Sounds like some beast
in pain."

"Maybe it is something in the trap!" cried Giant, and moved forward
on a run, before anybody could stop him.

As Giant drew in sight of the trap something caught his eyes that
brought him stock still in wonder.

There, fast in the trap, lay a small bear, and close at hand was
another bear, evidently trying to get the prisoner free!

"Look out there, Giant!" sang out Snap, as he, too, saw the situation.

"Two bears, by all that is lucky!" ejaculated Whopper.

At the sounds of the boys' voices the free bear turned swiftly.
Evidently he was in a rage, and for a good reason, for the bear in
the trap was his mate.

"He is coming for you!" cried Shep. What he said was true; the bear
was indeed coming for Giant. He stood up on his hind legs and
confronted the young hunter. A moment more and his powerful paw
must have knocked Giant down and perhaps have killed the lad.

But Snap had somewhat recovered from his astonishment, and raising
his shotgun quickly, he pulled the trigger.

The dose of shot took the bear in the side of the face and stung
him so bitterly that he fell back a few steps. But this was only
for the moment. Soon he gathered himself once more and then turned
upon Snap.

"Shoot him!" cried the young leader of the gun club and a second later
came the crack of the rifle that Shep carried. The bullet pierced
the bear's side and he rolled over and over in pain.

"Good for you, Shep!" sang out Snap. "Shoot him again, somebody!"

For an answer, both Whopper and Giant fired their shotguns and
the bear received both charges in his rump. Again he rolled over
and over, uttering a roar that could be heard for a long distance.
He tried to arise and did so once, dragging himself toward Whopper,
who lost no time in retreating.

By this time Snap was ready for another shot, and growing bolder,
he watched his chance, ran in and let the bear have the buckshot
directly between the eyes. Then Shep took a second shot also, hitting
Bruin in the throat. This was too much for the bear, and with a
quiver and a gasp he sank in a heap, and a moment later breathed
his last.

"Is he---he dead?" gasped Giant, after the bear had been quiet for
a full minute.

"I think so," answered Snap. "But don't go near him yet---he may be
playing a trick on us."

"I am not going near him."

"The bear in the trap is alive!" called out Whopper, who had just
made an examination.

All lost no time in reloading their weapons, and then they peered
into the trap. The bear under the logs and stones gave a grunt of
pain and rage.

"I'll fix her," said Snap, and, drawing close, let drive at the bear's
head. It was a telling shot, and soon the bear stretched out, and
then the battle with the two creatures came to an end.

"What a magnificent haul!" cried Giant, after they were certain both
bears were dead.

"I wonder what Ham Spink and his crowd would say to this?" came
from Snap.

"They wouldn't believe it unless they saw it," returned Whopper.
"Boys, do you know what I think? I think we ought to take those
bears home."

"Just what I think, too," said Giant. "I want my mother to see them."

"Well, I am willing," answered Snap. "But I think we ought to visit
Lake Cameron first and see if we can't find this Lusher Barrock."

"We can stop at Lake Cameron on the way," answered Whopper.

It was late in the day already, and by the time they had dragged
the bears to camp it was night. As they sat around the camp-fire
they talked matters over and decided to break camp the very next
day. They had had about all the hunting they wished for the present,
and getting the two bears "topped matters off," as Snap put it.

The bears were loaded into the boat and anchored out in the lake,
and then the boys got supper and went to bed. Snap was soon asleep
and so were Giant and Shep, and all slept soundly until about
midnight, when the leader of the club awoke a start.

"Hullo! what's up now?" he called out, and this cry aroused Shep
and Giant.

"What is it, Snap?"

"Where is Whopper?"

"I don't know where he is," answered Snap. "Listen!"

The three did so, and from a distance heard a groan and then a
thrashing around in the bushes back of the cabin.

"Something is wrong, that is sure!" gasped Giant. "Whopper must be
in trouble!"

"Come on and see," returned Snap, and catching up his gun he ran
from the shelter. Shep and Giant were not slow in following.

When they got outside all had become quiet again, and they knew not
in what direction to turn. There was no moon, but the stars shone
like so many diamonds in the heavens.

"Where is he?" asked Shep, after a breathless pause.

"I don't know," answered Snap. "Hullo, Whopper!" he called out.

There was no reply to his shout and he moved into the bushes
cautiously, with the others at his heels. Then, of a sudden, he
came upon Whopper, who stood by a bush tugging away manfully.

"Get back!" murmured Whopper. "Get back, you beast! Say, fellows,
this is the worst bear of the lot! Down he goes! That makes four
bears for yours truly!"

"I know what's the matter!" shouted Snap, lowering his gun. "He
has got the nightmare."

"Yes, and got it bad, too," put in Giant. "My! see him hustle with
the bush!"

"Shall we wake him up?" asked Shep.

"No---it may not be good for him," answered Snap.

"Oh, I am going to wake him up!" came from Giant, and before the
others could stop him he ran forward and caught Whopper by the
arm. "Wake up, Whopper!" he called. "Wake up, old man! You've
got 'em bad!"

At first Whopper paid no attention. "Then his struggles with the bush
ceased and he opened his eyes and stared about him in bewilderment.

"Wh-what is the matter? Wh-where am I?" he stammered, gazing around

"You've been asleep and dreaming," explained Snap. "You thought you
were after a bear."

"So I was---after a dozen bears. Did I---I kill any?"

"There are no bears here. You were only dreaming."

"Oh!" Whopper rubbed his eyes. "No bears at all?"

"None but what we shot yesterday. You went to sleep and the next
thing we knew you were out here, pulling at this bush."

"Where am I?"

"Back of the cabin," put in Shep. "You had better go to bed again."

"And please don't dream of any more bears," added Giant, with a grin.

Whopper scratched his head in perplexity.

"Funny how I got here! I don't understand it at all. Oh, but say,
I was having the fight of my life!"

"I should say so," answered Snap, looking around. "You must have
pulled up those three bushes yonder. Getting strong in your sleep."

"I am glad he didn't dream I was a bear," remarked Shep. "There
wouldn't have been anything left of me by the time he woke up!"

"I know how it was," said Whopper, as the full truth dawned on
him. "I ate a very hearty supper last night, and when I went
to bed my head was full of those two bears we brought down. That
gave me the nightmare."

"Then, after this, we'll have to send you to bed supperless," said

"Not much!" cried Whopper.



Despite Whopper's nightmare and what had followed, the boy hunters
slept soundly for the rest of the night. All arose at daybreak and
procured what was destined to be their last meal in the camp for
that season.

"I rather hate to leave the spot," said Snap, while packing away the
breakfast things. "We have had some good fun here."

"We must come back some time, by all means," declared Shep. "Maybe
this winter."

"Yes, some hunting up here in mid-winter wouldn't go bad," came
from Giant. "We could bring snowshoes along and have jolly times."

"That's the talk!" ejaculated Whopper. "I have always wanted to go
hunting on snowshoes, And we could build a big snowhouse, too."

"Well, that is something to talk over another time," put in Snap.
"Remember, just now we want to locate that mill robber if we can,
and also get those bears home."

It took quite some time to pack all of the things aboard the rowboat,
and the craft was heavily loaded with the outfit and the game.

"Will it carry us, too?" questioned Shep, as he looked at the boat

"It has got to carry us," declared Whopper. "But it will be rather
hard rowing."

All tried the boat and found it would carry them, although the
gunwale sank low into the water. Then they cleaned up the camp,
shut up the cabin, and were all ready for the start.

"Good-by to the camp!" cried Giant, lifting his cap.

"And hurrah for the first outing of our gun club!" added Snap. And
they gave the cheers with a will.

Snap and Whopper took the oars first, and the course was out of
Firefly Lake and through the narrow watercourse running into Lake
Cameron. It was a cool, clear day, with a stiff breeze stirring
the bushes and trees of the forest.

"I see some turkeys!" cried Shep, while on the way. "I must have
a last shot!"

"And so must I!" came from the others.

All caught up their guns, and as the boat drifted closer to the game,
each let drive. Two of the turkeys were killed outright, while two
more were badly wounded and easily secured.

"One each!" said Giant.

"Exactly," answered Snap. "And now we have got to stop or we'll
sink the boat sure."

"Well, enough is enough," said Whopper. "I think, all told, we have
had the best luck possible."

"Even if we didn't get a silver deer."

"That's so---I forgot about that deer. Well, he will keep for
another time, eh, fellows?"

"That's right."

It was shortly after noon that they turned into Lake Cameron and
landed near the mouth of that body of water. All were hungry, and
partook readily of the lunch that had been brought along.

"Now, what's the next part of the programme?" asked Giant, looking
at Snap.

"I don't think it will be advisable for us to show ourselves to
the Felps crowd," answered the leader of the gun club.

"Oh, let us do a little scout work!" said Whopper. "We can easily
hide the boat and get around to the camp on foot."

The matter was talked over while they ate their mid-day meal, and at
the conclusion of the repast they shoved the rowboat with its load
into a cove and under some overhanging brushwood. Then, taking only
their guns and game-bags and some provisions, they set off for their
first camping spot on foot.

"We must be on our guard," cautioned Snap.

"I do not want any of those men to see us if it can possibly be

"We'll watch out," answered Shep.

A minute later half a dozen fat rabbits crossed their path directly
in front of them. The temptation to bring the game down was strong,
but they resisted, not wishing to make any noise. A little later
they heard two gunshots at a distance.

"Some of the men must be out hunting," observed Giant.

"Gracious! I hope they don't mistake us for game," cried Whopper.

"Let us walk more in the open," answered Snap. "Then they can't
make any mistake."

The way was rocky and uneven, and long before they came in sight
of their first camp the boys were somewhat footsore and weary.

"This isn't the nicest kind of tramping in the world, is it?"
came from Shep.

"Don't say a word," answered Giant. "I just came within an inch
of twisting my left ankle."

They had a small brook to cross and there stopped for a drink
of water. They were just going on again when another distant
gunshot sounded out.

"They must be doing a lot of hunting to-day," observed Snap. "I'd
like to know if they can bring anything down."

"Not if what that old guide said was true," answered Shep.

They advanced a few yards further, when Shep suddenly halted and
made his chums do the same.

"What's up now?" whispered Whopper. "See a bear?"

"Whopper has bears on the brain," came from Giant, with a grin.

"I see two men over back of yonder rocks," answered Snap. "They
seem to be doing some hard talking."

"Who are they?"

"One of them is Andrew Felps."

"And the other?"

"I don't know who he is."

"He is the man we are after!" cried Whopper "Don't you see his
red hair and red moustache?"

"Let us go around the rocks and get closer in that way," said
Snap, and his suggestion was followed out promptly.

"Well, what do you want of me, anyway, Barrock?" they heard Andrew
Felps say to the man with the red hair.

"I want to talk business," answered Lush Barrock, as he was commonly

"Well, get to business, then," went on the lumber merchant. "I
am not going to stay here all day. You said you had something
to say that would interest me."

"It's true, too, Mr. Felps."

"Well, out with it, then."

Lush Barrock paused and cleared his throat. Evidently he did
not know exactly how to go about what he had in mind to do.

"I reckon you know the Barnaby lumber folks," he began.

"Yes," was the short answer.

"They have been trying to get hold of a certain lumber tract up
at the Spur Road."

"What of that?"

"I understand your company has been trying to get hold of the same
tract of land."

"What business is that of yours?"

"None of my business---in one way---but a good deal of my business
in another way."

"I don't understand you, Barrock. Stop talking in riddles and get
down to business."

"Can I trust you, Mr. Felps? I mean, will you keep a secret?"

"That depends," answered Andrew Felps, coldly.

"I want to help you so that you can get the best of the Barnaby

"How can you help me?"

"I'll tell you if you'll promise to keep the matter a secret."

"Hum!" The lumber merchant paused for a moment. "Well, go on."

"You won't give me away?"


"Well, when they got their right to that Spur Road tract certain
papers had to be signed."

"I know that."

"Then they had a fire at their sawmill."

"I know that, too."

"During that fire those papers disappeared."

"Ha!" cried Andrew Felps, with interest. "You are certain of that?"

"I am."

"And you---you-----" The lumber dealer paused.

"In a roundabout way I met the fellow who had the papers. For
a consideration he let me have them. If you want them you can
have them---provided you will pay the price."



The boy hunters had listened to the foregoing conversation with
intense interest. There could be no doubt but what this Barrock was
the man they were after. His tale that he had procured the missing
papers from somebody else was pure fiction---gotten up merely to
deceive Andrew Felps.

"We ought to make him a prisoner on the spot," whispered Shep.

"Wait---I want to learn what Andrew Felps will do," murmured Snap.

"You want me to buy the papers from you, eh?" said Andrew Felps,
after a pause.

"Yes," answered Lush Barrock, boldly.

"Don't you know that you have no right to the documents?"

"Oh, I don't want you to preach to me, Andy Felps. If you want
the papers, say so. If not-----"

"If not, what?"

"Maybe I'll return them to the Barnaby folks. I understand Mr. Dodge
offered a reward for them."

"What do you want for the papers?" asked Andrew Felps, cautiously.

"They ought to be worth several thousand dollars, but you can
have them for one thousand dollars."

"Nonsense, Barrock! What would I do with the papers?"

"Destroy them."

"What, after giving you a thousand dollars for them?"

Lush Barrock nodded. "It's this way, Felps," he said. "If you
get this contract out of the way I am sure you can make another
contract---for your own company. The Spur Road folks feel sore,
and I know you can fix matters up with old Haley, who is a miser,
and willing to do almost anything for money."

"Have you the papers with you?"

"Do you want to buy them?"

"I want to see what I am getting, first."

Lusher Barrock made a movement as if to take something from his

Just at that moment heavy footsteps sounded out directly behind the
four boy hunters, and two men belonging to the Felps crowd appeared
upon the scene.

"Hullo! What are you youngsters doing here?" demanded one of
the men.

"We---we came over on business," stammered Snap. He hardly knew
what to say, the meeting was such an unexpected one.

"Who is there?" cried out Andrew Felps, and ran around the edge
of the rocks. "What, you! Where did you come from?"

Andrew Felps was followed by Lush Barrock. When the fellow who had
robbed the sawmill saw Snap and his chums he was almost struck dumb.

"See here," began Andrew Felps, his face growing dark, "what do

"Stop him!" yelled Snap, and pointed to Lush Barrock, who had
suddenly taken to his heels. "Stop him, somebody!"

Snap made a dash after the robber, and was followed by his three
chums. Barrock was a good runner, and soon disappeared into the

"We must catch him!" panted Snap. "We must not let him get away!"

He went on after Lush Barrock with all speed. The course was
through the bushes and over some rocks. Then, of a sudden, a
voice sounded out ahead:

"Stop, all of you! If you don't, I'll fire!"

"Oh, Snap, do you think he will fire at us?" gasped Giant, and
came to a halt, followed by the rest.

"If you fire, so will we!" sang out Snap, and brought around his
shotgun. But no answer came back, and now Lush Barrock was both
out of sight and hearing.

Yet the boy hunters did not give up the chase. They followed
the trail as best they could to a brook, but there lost it in
the water. Then they hunted around for a good quarter of an hour,
but without avail.

"Too bad!" groaned Snap. "Oh, how I wish I had put my hands on
that rascal!"

"He is certainly a bad one," was Whopper's comment.

"Yes, and Andrew Felps is almost as bad," said Shep. "He would
have bought those papers."

They retraced their steps toward the lake, and soon met Andrew
Felps and his companions.

"Did you catch him?" asked the lumber dealer, nervously.

"No," was Snap's short answer.

"Do you know him?" went on Andrew Felps, curiously.

"I know him to be the man who robbed the sawmill and set the place
on fire."

"Is that so?"

Andrew Felps put on an appearance of great surprise.

"Don't you know it, too?" said Snap, bluntly.

"Me? Of course not. Why---er---if I knew he was that kind of
a man-----" Andrew Felps broke off short. "Were you listening
to our talk?"

"We were," put in Whopper. "We heard every word, too."

"Ahem! Well, I---er---that is, I was only sounding the fellow,"
said the lumber dealer, lamely.

To this Snap did not say anything, although Andrew Felps looked
at him inquiringly.

"You don't suppose I was going to have anything to do with him?"
demanded Andrew Felps, after a pause.

"Yes, I do," said Snap, bluntly.

"Bah! Nonsense! If he had shown those papers I should have taken
them away from him."

"To keep?"

"No; to return to their rightful owners."

To this Snap made no reply. Andrew Felps was clearly disconcerted.

"Evidently you don't believe me, boy."

Still Snap was silent.

"See here, do you expect to make trouble for me on this account?"
pursued the lumber dealer, growing angry.

"I shall tell the truth, that's all," said Snap.

"I see! You'll try to make it appear that I am in with this---this
fellow!" snorted the lumber dealer. "Well, just you take care,
or you may get into trouble!"

"If I get into trouble I guess I'll know how to take care of myself,"
returned Snap, stoutly.

He had scarcely uttered the words when Andrew Felps caught him
roughly by the shoulder.

"Boy, take care how you talk to me!"

"Let go of me!" exclaimed Snap, with flashing eyes. "Let go,
I say!" And he jerked himself away. "Don't you dare lay your
hands upon me again, Andrew Felps!"

"Ha! you imp!" snarled the lumber dealer, and caught hold of
Snap once more. This time the boy tried to free himself, but
in vain.

"If you don't let go, I'll strike you!" he panted, and the next
moment he struck out, landing a hard blow on the lumber dealer's
nose. The latter was so amazed he fell back and released his hold.

"Oh, my nose!" groaned the man. "You young scoundrel! I'll-----"

At that moment came a cry of alarm from a distance.

"Hullo! hullo! Come this way! The woods are on fire! We'll
be burnt out before we know it!"



The cry was such an unexpected one that for the moment every one who
heard it was dumfounded. The men stared at each other and so did
the boys. Then all looked up and saw a thick mass of smoke rolling
over the forest. The wind was blowing briskly, and soon the smoke
began to envelop the entire crowd.

"Say, fellows, we must get out of here!" exclaimed Shep. "We
can't stay, or we'll be burnt up!"

"That's the truth," put in Giant. "Let us get back to our boat."

"To the camp!" came from Andrew Felps, and ran off, followed by
the other men.

"Shall we go after them?" asked Snap.

"What good will it do?" said Shep. "They can get out on the lake
in their boat---if the fire gets too strong for them."

"The wind is blowing it directly to the lake," said Whopper. "My,
but it has gained headway!" he added, looking around.

The smoke was growing thicker, and already they could see the sparks
floating overhead. From a distance they heard a wild cry, but could
not make out what it was.

Turning around, they started for the spot where they had left their

In their mad rush to gain the craft, they did not notice that they
got off the trail until they were halted by a mass of brushwood
on all sides of them.

"This can't be right!" panted Giant. "I didn't notice this before."

"We have made some mistake!" ejaculated Shep. "Maybe we are going
away from the lake!"

They gazed around. The smoke was growing thicker, and now a few
burning brands fell close by.

"One thing is certain, we can't stay here!" came from Snap. "Let us
go straight downhill. That will bring us to water sooner or later."

This was considered good advice and all acted on it without delay.
The smoke was now so thick they could scarcely see in any direction.
The light of the sun was obscure, making it as dark as if it was

"Here is a little stream!" called out Giant, presently. "This
must run into the lake!"

All stepped into the brook and followed it for several hundred feet.
Then Snap called a halt.

"Here is our lost trail!"

"Snap is right," said Shep. "Come on, the boat cannot be far off."

Once more they went on, the smoke growing so thick they had to crouch
down to get their breath. The tears were streaming from their eyes,
and Whopper let out a yell as a burning brand floated down on his
neck, raising a blister.

"Here is the boat, thank fortune!" said Snap, a minute later.

How they tumbled into the craft they scarcely knew. The painter
was cut and they shoved off into the lake, just as a fierce gust
of wind sent a cloud of smoke and a shower of sparks down upon them.

"Phew! but that was a narrow escape!" muttered Shep, when the shore
had been left behind and they could catch their breath.

"We are not out of danger yet!" said Snap. "This fire may be worse
than we think. If it takes in the whole lake district, we'll be
hemmed in on all sides."

"Look!" exclaimed Giant. "Am I mistaken, or is a storm coming up?"
and he pointed to the sky.

"Those are certainly clouds, not smoke," said Whopper. "Oh, I hope
it does rain and puts out the fire. I shouldn't like to see this
fine forest destroyed."

"Nor I," added Snap.

"If it is burned down it will be Mr. Felps's loss," came from Giant.
"He said he had bought the district up, you'll remember."

As they pulled along, well away from the shore, they suddenly heard
a mad cry for aid.

"What's that?" asked Snap.

"A man on shore!" ejaculated Whopper. "See him---over on yonder

"It is that Barrock!" said Shep.

"Help me!" came from the man, who was waving his arms wildly. "Take
me off, or I'll be burnt up!"

"Let us row to him," said Snap.

The rowboat was turned in toward shore without delay. In the
meantime, to escape the smoke and burning brands, Lusher Barrock
rushed into the lake up to his knees.

"Save me!" he bawled again. "I can't swim!"

"We'll save you!" answered Snap. "But see here, Barrock," he added,


"You will have to give us those documents you took from the sawmill."

"I---I---ain't got them."

"Well, then, we'll leave you where you are," said Snap, just to test
the rascal.

"No! no! I---I'll give you the papers!"

"Very well, then."

The craft came alongside of the robber and he was helped on board.
He was badly scared and trembling from head to foot. A burning
brand had come down on his left ear, singeing that member and also
his fiery red hair.

"Now give me those papers," demanded Snap, and without waiting
thrust his hand into the man's pocket and drew them forth. "Have
you the money, too?"


"Hand it over or we'll search you."

"I've got three hundred dollars," said Lush Barrock, lamely. "I
spent about fifty dollars."

The money was handed over to Snap, and he placed it and the papers
in an inner pocket of his jacket. Then the robber was ordered
to sit at the bow of the boat and not move, and a pistol he carried
was taken from him.

It was not long after this that it began to rain. At first the
downfall was not great, but presently there was a perfect deluge
and then the boy hunters knew that the danger from the forest fire
was over. Looking up the lake they saw Andrew Felps and his party
in their launch, unharmed. The camp of the lumber dealer, however,
had been burned out clean and clear, along with all of the provisions.

"That's what he gets for taking our cabin from us," was Giant's

Not wishing to meet the lumber dealer again, now that they had
made Lush Barrock a prisoner, Snap directed his chums to row out
of the lake and on to the river. The boys pulled a good stroke
and, despite the load on board the craft, made fair progress.

"This fire will worry the folks at home," said Shep. "I am glad we
made up our minds to break camp."

"Yes," answered Whopper. "Everything happened for the best, after

The boat was still some miles from Fairview when they saw another
craft approaching. It contained Mr. Dodge and Jed Sanborn.

"Safe, are you?" sang out Mr. Dodge, as he drew near. "We were
afraid that forest fire would do you some harm."

"We had a pretty close shave of it, father," answered Snap.

"We've got a prisoner for you, Mr. Dodge," sang out Shep, somewhat
proudly. "Here is the rascal who set fire to the sawmill."

"Is it possible!" cried Mr. Dodge.

"That fire was an---an accident," grumbled Lusher Barrock. "All
a mistake."

"I've got the documents he took, and three hundred dollars of
the money," said Snap.

"Well! well! This is famous, boys!" said Mr. Dodge.

"My sakes alive, look at the bears!" called out Jed Sanborn, as
Giant pulled aside the canvas that lay over the game. "Who shot

"We shot one and caught the other in the trap," answered Giant.
"Don't you think we did pretty well for boys?"

"Well for boys? Why, men couldn't do any better. You're the best
boy hunters anywhere!"

The prisoner was transferred to the boat containing Mr. Dodge
and Jed Sanborn, and Snap gave to his parent the money and the
documents that had been recovered. Then both boats headed for
Fairview, which was reached at nightfall.

Great was the surprise of the town folks when it was learned that
the man who had set fire to the sawmill had been captured. He
was put in jail, and later on tried and sent to prison for a term
of years.

There was another surprise when it was noised about that the boy
hunters had laid low not only several deer and a good deal of
small game, but also two fair-sized bears. The bears were placed
on public exhibition at one of the stores and many came to look
at them.

Ham Spink and his cronies were intensely jealous, but did not dare
to give vent to their feelings. Snap and his chums took no notice
of the dudish youth and his followers.

"We have the best of it, and they know it," said Snap.

"Boys, we must go out again, this winter," said Shep. "Come,
what do you say?"

All agreed instantly, and how they went out, and what good times
they had will be told in another volume of this series, to be
called, "_Guns and Snowshoes; or, The Winter Outing of the Boy
Hunters_." The best hunting is often to be had when there is snow
on the ground, and my readers can rest assured that the four boy
hunters made the most of their opportunities.

A while after the boys got home, it was learned that Andrew Felps
had escaped with his party, unharmed, but all had lost practically
everything they had taken along but the launch. The forest had
been much damaged, especially that tract which the Felps Lumber
Company had purchased for cutting purposes, so the lumber merchant
was out in more ways than one. Nothing was said to him about
the talk he had had with Lusher Barrock, and he himself was afraid
to open his mouth about it, and soon the incident was practically
forgotten. The Barnaby Company went to work at the Spur Road tract
and nobody attempted to stop them.

"Boys, we had a dandy time, didn't we?" said Snap, one evening after
he had had his fill of venison steak.

"We had the best time ever!" said Shep. "May we have many more like

"Just wait till this winter!" cried Whopper.

"I am going to kill sixteen deer, twenty bears, two hundred wild
turkeys, and about a thousand rab-----"

"Draw it mild, Whopper!" ejaculated Giant. "Wait till the time comes,
and then do your best."

And Whopper did wait, and so did the rest, and here let us leave them
and say good-by.

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