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Out with Gun and Camera by Ralph Bonehill

Part 2 out of 4

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others get in a group, each with a piece of pie in his hand. He
took a snapshots and then marked the picture in a book he had
brought along for that purpose.

"What do you call it?" asked Whopper.

"Pie-ous Time," answered Snap, and then dodged a tin cup the other
flung at him.

"We must try to reach Lake Cameron before night," said Shep, when
they were once more on the way. "I shouldn't care to camp out along
the river."

"Oh, you might find a worse spot," answered Snap. "However, we'll
get to the lake if we can."

As my old readers know, Lake Cameron was connected with the river
by a narrow creek, the banks of which were overhung with bushes.
Since the boys had come home from their last outing the rains
had been heavy, consequently the creek was well filled with water.

"This makes getting through easy, and I am glad of it," said Whopper.
"I was afraid we'd have to carry some of the stuff around, so as
to lighten the boat."

"Are you going up the lake shore very far tonight?" questioned Giant.
It was already growing dark.

"No, I think we had best camp near the mouth of the creek," answered
the doctor's son, and the others agreed with him.

As soon as the lake was reached Giant, who was the best fisherman
of the crowd, baited up and threw out his line. For some time he
did not get a bite, but then came a sharp tug, so dear to the heart
of the angler.

"What have you got?" asked Whopper.

"Might be an elephant, but I---I guess not," cried the small youth.

The others stopped rowing and Giant began to play his catch with care.
Soon he brought to light a fine pickerel, and dropped the fish in
the bottom of the boat.

"Good for Giant!" cried Snap. "A couple of more like that and we'll
have a dandy fish supper."

Again the line was baited and thrown in and the boys took up their
rowing. Presently came another tug and again Giant was successful,
bringing in a fish several inches larger than the first.

"This is pickerel day," cried Whopper "Reckon I'll try my luck," and
he did, and presently brought in a pickerel almost as large as the
others. But that was the end of the luck for the time being.

"Never mind," said Shep. "Three are enough. Now to land and get our
camp into shape for the night---and then for supper." And a few
minutes later a landing was made.



The boys knew the shores of Lake Cameron well, having camped there
before, and they selected a spot that just suited their wants.
The rowboat was drawn up in a tiny cove and made fast, and then
all hands set to work getting the tent and some of the outfit
ashore. The things left in the boat were covered carefully with
the tarpaulin, to keep off the night dampness and a possible rain.

Shep had been selected as the leader during this outing, on account
of what his father had done for the club, and he now directed Giant
and Whopper to build the fire and get supper ready, while he and
Snap erected the tent and cut some pine boughs for bedding.

"It will be almost warm enough to-night to sleep out of doors,"
said the doctor's son. "But it seems more natural to sleep under
some kind of a cover."

He and Snap took the ax and soon cut down three slender saplings and
trimmed them. Two were planted in the ground where the tent was to
be erected and the third was laid across the top, in little
limb-crotches left for that purpose. Then the canvas was thrown
over and pegged down tightly, sides and back. The front of the tent
had a double flap, which could be tied shut with strings if desired.

Long before the tent was up and furnished with bedding of pine
boughs, Giant and Whopper had the camp fire started, and soon an
appetizing odor of coffee and frying fish filled the air. It was
now quite dark, and the glare of the fire made the scene a pleasant

"Camping wouldn't be camping without a fire," observed Snap, as,
having finished his share of the work, he sat down on a grassy
hillock to rest and watch Giant and Whopper getting ready to serve
the evening meal.

"Right you are, Snap," answered Shep. "Even in the hottest of
weather I love to see the glare and the flickering shadows."

"I always think of good stories and plenty to eat when I see a camp
fire," came from Giant.

"Well, I reckon we are going to have the eating, even if we don't
have the stories," said the doctor's son.

"What's the matter with Whopper spinning one of his outrageous yarns?"
suggested Snap. "He must be fairly aching to tell something

"I tell only truthful tales," came from the storyteller modestly. "Now,
if you want to hear-----"

"Truthful tales!" burst out Giant. "Say, Whopper, that's the very
biggest whopper you ever told!"

"All right, then, I won't tell any stories," returned the other lad

"Oh, yes, you will; you can't help it," said Snap.

Supper was soon served. It consisted of bread and butter and coffee
and pickerel done to a turn, topped off with some crullers from a
bagful donated by Mrs. Caslette. The boys took their time eating,
and when they had finished the bones of the fish were picked clean.
Then Giant said something about a train falling off a bridge, and
that started Whopper to telling a most marvelous story of an
engineer who, seeing that a bridge was down, put on all speed
and rushed his train over a gap thirty feet wide in safety.
The others listened with sober faces until Whopper had finished,
and then burst out laughing.

"What did I tell you?" cried Snap. "I said Whopper couldn't help
telling a yarn."

"And such a one, too!" added Giant.

"And of course we all believe it," came from the doctor's son.

"Well, I had to do something---to help pass the time," said Whopper
a bit sheepishly.

"Sure you did," said Snap heartily. "It's all right, Whopper---only
don't ask us to believe such a story."

"Is anybody going to stand guard to-night?" asked Giant to change
the subject.

"What's the use?" questioned Snap. "I don't think anybody or
anything will come to disturb us."

"Well, you can never tell," said Shep slowly. "But if you fellows
don't care to stand guard we'll let it go at that."

"Oh, it's for you to say, Shep---you are leader this trip."

"Well, I guess we can all turn in."

And turn in they did about nine o'clock, with the understanding
that they were to have breakfast at six in the morning and continue
their journey as soon after that as possible.

Whether he felt the responsibility of leadership or not it would
be hard to say, but certain it is that the doctor's son did not
sleep near as soundly as did the others. He was very restless,
and when he dozed off it was to dream of the lion that had escaped
from the circus. He imagined that the animal had followed them
to their camp and was bending over him and licking his face.
He uttered a groan of terror and sat up and opened his eyes.
As he did this a dark form leaped over him and out of the open
tent. The fire had burned low, so what the form was Shep could
not tell.

"Help!" screamed the doctor's son. He was not yet fully awake.

"Wha---what's the matter?" spluttered Snap, throwing aside his

"What's wrong?" came from Whopper and Giant simultaneously.

"Something---a wild animal---in here---jumped over me!" gasped
Shep. "It just went outside!"

"Oh, you are dreaming, Shep," said Snap.

"No, I'm not. I saw it---felt it! Let me get my gun!"

The doctor's son threw off his blanket, leaped up and grasped his
shotgun, that hung on one of the tent poles. He stepped to the
opening of the tent and peered out anxiously.

"See anything?" demanded Whopper. He and the others were now up,
and each was arming himself.


"I told you you were dreaming," came from Snap.

"Too many crullers for supper," was Giant's comment. "Sometimes
they lay like lead in a fellow's stomach and give him all sorts
of dreams."

"It wasn't the crullers," persisted the doctor's son. "I'm going
outside and investigate." And he stepped out in the direction
of the camp fire.

"Be careful," warned Snap. "If any wild beasts are around you want
to be on your guard."

The doctor's son looked around with care, but could see no trace
of the night visitor. He stirred up the camp fire and soon had a
bright blaze going. The others had followed him outside and they
stood shivering in the damp air.

"False alarm, I guess," said Giant, yawning. "What time is it?"

"One o'clock," answered Whopper, after consulting his watch. "Say,
this is a dandy way of breaking up one's rest," he added sarcastically.

"If you don't believe I saw something---and felt something---you
needn't," returned Shep tartly.

"Must have been a sand flea, or a water bug."

"Come, Whopper, don't get mad," came from Snap. "If Shep-----"

"There it is, behind the bushes!" burst out the doctor's son. "I just
saw its eyes shining!"

As he spoke he raised his shotgun. But the eyes had disappeared.

"I saw something," came from Giant. "See, it's moving---back
of the huckleberry bush."

Something was moving, that was evident, but what it was none of
the young hunters could make out. Shep raised his gun again.

"Shall I take a chance and fire?" he asked of the others.

"Might as well," answered Whopper. "It couldn't be anything but
a wild animal."

"Wait," cried Snap. He raised his voice. "Who is there?" he
called out. "Answer, or we'll shoot!"

For reply there came a sound that thoroughly astonished the boys.
It was the bark of a dog, low and uncertain. Then there stepped
into view a collie, wagging his tail doubtfully.

"A dog!" cried Giant. "Come here! come here!" he called, and
gave an inviting whistle.

Slowly the dog came forward, still wagging his tail doubtfully.
When he was quite close he sat up on his haunches and began to
move his fore paws up and down.

"He's begging!" cried Snap. "He must be hungry."

"I suppose he smelled our food and came for some," said Giant.
"Good little dog!" he cried. "Come here!" And as he snapped
his fingers the collie came up to him and allowed the small youth
to pat him on the head.

"That's your wild beast, Shep," said Whopper.

"Well, I knew it was something," answered the doctor's son. "That
dog must have been in the tent."

"More than likely," answered Snap. "See how friendly he is," he
added, for the collie was now leaping from one to another of the
boys and barking joyfully. Giant gave him a cruller and he ate the
dainty greedily.

"He's half starved," said Snap. "Must have wandered off into the
woods and got lost."

"Is there a name on his collar?" asked Whopper.

"No, only a license number," answered Giant after an examination.
"Looks to me as if he might be a valuable animal."

"I think I've seen that collie before," said Shep.

"So you did---in the tent," said Whopper quickly, and set up a laugh.

"Oh, you know what I mean. He has a regular star on his breast.
Yes, I am sure I've seen him somewhere, but where I can't remember."

"He ought to be returned to his owner," said Snap. "But how we are
going to do it I don't know. I don't care to go back just for the

"Nor I," added Giant. "Let us take him along and bring him back with
us when we come."

"If he'll stay with us," came from Whopper. "He may---if we feed him
well," answered the doctor's son.

They let the dog have another cruller and the heads of the fish, and
the animal made a meal of them. The boys felt cold and tired and
crawled back into the tent to finish their night's rest. Soon the
collie came nosing at the opening.

"Come here!" said Giant in a low voice, and instantly the dog nestled
down at his side, and there he remained until daylight.

"We can take him in some of our pictures," said the small youth.
"He'll add to the picturesqueness."

"What are you going to call him?" asked Whopper.


"And why Sphinx?" asked Snap.

"Because he won't tell us who he is, where he came from, or anything
about himself."

"Oh, that's not a pretty name," cried the doctor's son. "I vote
we call him Wags, because he wags his tail so much."

"All right, Wags it is," said Giant. "What do you say, Wags?"
he added, turning to the dog.

The collie barked and wagged his tail vigorously. Evidently he
was perfectly satisfied.

As the lads had no more game or fish to eat, they made a hasty
meal of bacon, bread, crullers and coffee. As soon as the repast
was over they took down the tent and placed that and the other
things on board the rowboat. The collie had been fed and was more
frisky than ever.

"Wonder if he'll go into the boat with us?" said Snap. "Some
dogs don't like the water."

"Most collies do," answered Giant. "I'll try him." He called Wags,
and the dog leaped into the craft and took his place at the bow.

"He'll do for a lookout," said Whopper. "Come on, it's time to

They looked around the temporary camp, to make certain that nothing
had been left behind, then entered the rowboat and shoved off.
Snap and Whopper took the oars, and soon they were on the journey
up Lake Cameron to Firefly Lake.

"Don't forget one thing," said Snap shortly after starting. "If
possible we want to bring down some sort of game for dinner. It
won't do to use up our canned things and that stuff."

"Everybody watch out," said Giant. "And if we can't shoot something,
why, toward dinner time, I'll try my hand at fishing again."



It was another ideal day, and the young hunters felt in the best of
spirits. Whopper felt so good that presently he burst out singing
an old school song, and the others joined in.

"That's all right, and very good, but if we want any game we've
got to keep quiet," said the doctor's son after the song was ended.

"Right you are," answered Whopper promptly. "And as I'd rather eat
later than sing now I'll shut up."

They followed the shore line of Lake Cameron, heading for the
rocky watercourse that connected that body of water with Firefly
Lake. The eyes of all were on the alert for game, and toward the
middle of the forenoon Giant called a halt.

"I saw something in the trees yonder," he said, pointing ashore.
"Looked to me as if they might be partridge."

"Partridge would suit me first rate," answered Snap. "Let us land
and try our luck."

"Making as little noise as possible they beached the rowboat and
Giant silenced the dog, not knowing what he might do while on a hunt.

"Perhaps he's a good bird dog and perhaps he isn't," he said. "We'll
take no chances."

Each of the young hunters had his shotgun, and one after another
they followed Shep to the spot where the game had been seen among
the trees. High among the branches of a silver maple tree they
saw some ruffed grouse, commonly known to many sportsmen as partridge.

"There's our chance," said the doctor's son. "Who is to fire?"

"Let us all take a chance," pleaded Giant. "Just to open the
outing, you know."

Shep was willing, and said he would give the word. With great
caution they crept as close as possible to the grouse. The birds
were on three branches of the maple, one over the other.

Silently the four boy hunters raised their firearms. Shep looked
at them and then along the barrel of his piece.

"Fire!" said he, and one shot rang out after another quickly. There
was a mad whirring and fluttering from the ruffed grouse. Two
dropped like lead, while two others flew around in a circle, badly
wounded. Then the boys discharged their guns again, and wounded
two more birds. As the game came down they rushed in and wrung
the necks of those not already dead.

"Six, all told," said Giant proudly. "That's one and a half apiece."

"Not so bad," answered Snap.

"It's dandy!" shouted Whopper, throwing up his cap in his delight.
"Now we can have roast partridge for dinner, and supper, too, if
we want to."

"Right you are," came from Shep. "I believe we all made a hit,"
he added.

"A hit?" repeated Whopper. "We all made home runs!" And at this
reference to baseball all of the boys laughed.

Taking the game to the rowboat, they resumed their journey, and by
noon reached the watercourse connecting the two lakes. Here they
stopped at a spot well known to them and built a camp fire, and
here they roasted all of the game, fearing it might not keep in
such hot weather.

"I'm going to try baking 'em in mud," said Giant, who had learned
the trick from Jed Sanborn. Leaving the feathers on the grouse the
lad plastered each bird thickly with some clayey mud, and then
placed them in the fire to roast, or bake, as he called it. He
watched them with care and tried one frequently to see if it was done.

"Now I guess this will do," he said at last, and cracked the baked
mud from the grouse. With the mud came the feathers of the bird,
leaving the meat clean. The grouse was tender and juicy and done
to a turn.

"Giant, you'll have to get a job as a chef in a big hotel," said
the doctor's son, smacking his lips over the feast. "This game
certainly couldn't be, better."

"Why not leave some of the partridge right in the baked mud?"
suggested Snap. "It ought to keep well that way."

"We can try it," said Whopper.

The collie was given his share of the dinner and appeared to enjoy
it as much as the boys. He acted as if he felt perfectly at home
with the young hunters, and made no offer to leave them.

"If he wasn't such a fine dog I'd put him down as an outcast," said
Shep. "But nobody would abandon such a fine animal---he's worth
too much money."

Once again the boy hunters proceeded on their way. As they entered
the watercourse connecting the two lakes they noticed that the
current was flowing swiftly.

"The heavy rains are responsible for this," said Snap. "We want to
be careful, or the boat will be smashed on some of the rocks."

"We might get out and walk---that is, some of us---if the shore
wasn't so rough and rocky," said Whopper. "It looks wilder than
ever now, doesn't it, boys?"

It certainly did look wilder---or was it only the rushing of the
water that made it appear so? They rowed on with caution, two
at the oars and two doing the steering with poles. Wags sat in
the bow as before, watching proceedings in silence.

About half the distance to Firefly Lake had been covered when they
came to a sharp turn in the watercourse. Here the water boiled and
foamed around several sharp rocks.

"Beware of the rocks!" sang out the doctor's Son.

"To the right! To the right!" yelled Whopper. "It's too shallow
on the other side!"

They tried to turn the craft to the right, but the current seemed
too strong for them. The boat swung around and hit one of the
rocks a sharp blow. There was a little splash as the collie went
overboard. Then came a big souse, that covered those who remained
in the boat with spray.

"Giant is overboard!" cried Whopper. "And so is the dog!"

"Let the dog take care of himself," cried Snap. "Grab Giant!"

Whopper turned to catch the lad who had gone overboard, but the
current was too quick for him, and the small youth was sent whirling
out of his reach.

For the moment it looked as if the rowboat would either go over
or be stove in on the rocks, and those left on board had to turn
their attention to the craft. They saw Giant floundering in the
boiling water, but could do nothing to aid him.

"Swing her around and pull for shore; it's our only chance!" cried
Snap. "Quick, now---or we'll all go to the bottom!"

Fighting desperately, the three lads swung the craft around slowly.
It scraped on more of the rocks, and one of the oars was caught and
snapped off like a pipe-stem. But then the boat struck water that
was a little more calm, and soon they reached a cove and felt
themselves safe for the time being.

"Where is Giant?" was Shep's question as soon as they knew the
outfit was secure.

"There he is, on one of the rocks," answered Whopper. "And here
comes the dog," he added as the collie came battling bravely toward

Soon Wags was on shore and shaking himself vigorously, acting as if
such a bath was a daily occurrence.

"Hello, you fellows!" came in Giant's voice. He was sprawled
out on a rock in midstream, sixty feet away.

"Are you hurt?" questioned Shep anxiously.

"No; the water was pretty soft," answered the small youth. "But
I say, how am I going to get ashore?"

"Can't you wade it?" asked Whopper.

"No; don't try that---the current is too swift," cried Snap.

"Well, we can't take the boat to him," said Whopper.

"I know that."

"We might throw him a line," suggested the doctor's son.

"Yes, that's an idea."

A light but strong line was brought forth and Shep curled it up as
a cowboy does a lasso. Then he made a cast, but the line fell short.

"Let me try it," said Snap.

One after another the boys on shore tried to reach Giant with the
line but failed. After Whopper had made his cast Wags, who had
been sitting on a rock watching proceedings with interest, gave
a bark and caught the end of the line in his teeth.

"There's an idea!" cried Snap. "Let the dog carry the line."

"Will he do it?" questioned Whopper.

"We can try him and see."

The end of the line was made fast to the collie's collar, and Giant
was told to call him.

"Come, Wags! That's a good dog! Come!" called the small youth,
and whistled and snapped his fingers.

At first Wags appeared to be doubtful, but finally he ventured into
the water. Then he began to swim steadily toward the rock, dragging
the line behind him.

"What a shame if the current carries him away!" murmured Whopper.

"We'll not allow that," answered the doctor's son. "If he loses
ground we can haul him in."

Slowly but surely the dog drew closer to the rock. At last he got
within Giant's reach, and the youth caught him and pulled him up.

"Tie the rope about your waist and we'll haul you to shore!" sang
out Shep. "Bring the dog on your shoulder if you can."

"I'll try it," answered Giant.

It was no easy matter for him, on the wet and slippery rock, to
adjust the rope and get the collie on his shoulder. But presently
he announced that he was ready, and the boys on shore commenced
to haul in. Down in the madly rushing water went Giant, and it
was all he could do to keep his feet. But luck was with him, and
in a very few minutes he and the dog were safe.

"That was quite an adventure," he said when he had recovered his

"You went overboard in a great hurry," remarked Whopper. "And
so did Wags."

"The shock to the boat did it. It made me lose my balance before
I was aware."

"Let us be thankful Giant is safe, and Wags," said the doctor's son.
"And thankful, too, that the boat didn't go over. If it had our
outing would have been spoiled."

"We've got to be mighty careful how we travel through the rest of
this river," remarked Snap. "The heavy rains have made a fierce
torrent of it."

It must be confessed that the boys did not know exactly what to do.
Should they venture on the river again, or carry the outfit to the
beginning of Firefly Lake?

"I've got an idea," said Shep at last. "You can follow it or
not, as you think best. My idea is to have two of the crowd take
the boat down and the two others walk to Firefly Lake, carrying
the most precious of the outfit."

"That suits me," said Snap.

"Who will walk and who take the boat?" questioned Whopper.

"I might as well go in the boat---I'm wet already," said Giant,
smiling grimly.

"The three of us can draw lots as to who shall go with Giant," said
the doctor's son.

The drawing was at once made, and it fell to Snap to go with the
small youth. The cameras and guns were taken from the rowboat and
also a few other things. Then the doctor's son and Whopper aided
the others in getting the boat into the rushing river once more.

"Take care of yourselves!" cried Shep. "If all goes right you'll
get to the lake long before we do."

In a moment the boat was caught by the current and whirled onward.
Giant and Snap had all they could do to steer it. But, fortunately,
they found no more such bad places as those already encountered,
and in less than an hour found themselves floating on Firefly Lake,
safe and sound.

"The others might have come with us after all," declared Giant.
"Wonder how long it will take them to reach here?"

"I don't know; it depends on how rough they find the way. Maybe a
couple of hours," answered Snap. "We may as well go ashore, start
up a camp and wait for them."



The doctor's son and Whopper had no easy time of it making their way
through the bushes and around the rocks which lined the watercourse
between the two lakes. There was no trail on that side of the stream,
and they had to "go it blind," to use Shep's words.

"Say, this is worse than climbing a mountain!" gasped Whopper, after
slipping and sliding over a number of rocks and coming down rather
suddenly in a hollow.

"Rather knocks the breath out of a fellow," returned Shep. "Take care
that you don't sprain an ankle, Whopper."

"That's what I'm watching out for. I don't want my whole outing

After a large amount of hard walking and climbing they managed to
cover about half the distance to Firefly Lake. But by that time
both were so exhausted the doctor's son called a halt.

"No use of killing ourselves," he said. "We can't go any farther
than the lake to-day, anyway."

"Hope Snap and Giant wait for us at the mouth of the river," said
Whopper. "I don't want to tramp along the lake shore afoot."

"Oh, they'll wait, and mostly likely start a camp."

"Say, if I remember rightly the river makes a bend to the right here,"
went on Whopper after a pause. "And if that is so, what's the
matter with our striking inland a short distance and cutting off
some of the walk?"

"I'm willing---anything to reach Firefly Lake before it gets too
dark to see."

Having rested themselves, the boys commenced to draw away from the
river shore, taking to the woods, where the walking was easier. It
was now close to six o'clock, and the sun was going down over the
trees to the westward.

"Hope they have supper ready by the time we get there," said Whopper
after a period of silence. "This transit is making me as hungry as
a bear."

"Same here. Well, we'll have the partridge to fall back on, even if
they don't cook anything else."

The two young hunters tramped on. As they walked they kept their
eyes open for a possible sight of game. So far all they had seen
were some birds, not worth shooting.

Another quarter of a mile was covered when they came to a patch of
spruces. As they advanced they saw several rabbits leap from beside
one of the trees.

"A chance for a shot!" cried the doctor's son, and speedily swung
his shotgun into position, an example followed by his chum. Both
young hunters blazed away without delay, and each was successful in
laying a rabbit low. Before they could fire again the rest of the
game was out of sight.

"Not very large," was Shep's comment as they picked up the game. "But
the rabbits are young, and they'll make fine eating."

"It is a good thing that new game law isn't in effect yet," said
Whopper. "If it was we'd not be allowed to shoot rabbits until next

"You are right, Whopper---hunting will be a good deal more restricted
after the new laws go into effect."

Placing the rabbits in a gamebag, the two chums walked on, past the
clump of spruces and then across a little clearing. Here, much to
their surprise, they came in sight of a dilapidated cabin. It was
a small affair of rough logs with a rude stone chimney and one
window and one door. One end of the cabin sagged greatly, as if
on the point of falling down.

"I hadn't any idea this was here," was the comment of the doctor's
son. "Wonder who it can belong to?"

"Perhaps some hunters put it up in days gone by," returned Whopper.
"It doesn't look as if it was inhabited."

"Let's go in and take a look around," suggested Shep. It was his
delight to poke around in new and odd places.

"We don't want to lose time," was his chum's reply. "It will be
dark before you know it."

"Oh, it won't take long to look," answered Shep.

The old cabin was surrounded by weeds and bushes, and they had to
fairly work their way to the doorway.

"Somebody has been here, that's certain," cried the doctor's son.
"Here are eggshells and newly picked chicken feathers."

"Hello, in there!" cried Whopper, poking his head into the small
doorway. He could not see, for the cabin inside was dark.

Scarcely had the word been uttered when a most surprising thing
happened. Something whizzed through the air, directly between
the heads of the two boy hunters. It was a good-sized chunk of
wood, and it struck a rock outside with a thud.

"Why---why---stop that!" stammered Whopper, and fell back, and Shep
did the same.

"Evidently somebody doesn't want visitors," was the comment of the
doctor's son. "I say," he called out, "what do you mean by heaving
that wo-----"

Crash! From the interior of the cabin came another chunk of wood,
a gnarled root, just grazing Shep's shoulder. Then a stone followed,
striking Whopper a glancing blow on the hip. Both lads retreated in

"Well, of all things!" gasped the doctor's son when he could get his
breath. "That's a cordial welcome, I must say."

"Have you any idea who it was?"

"Not the slightest. It was too dark to see anybody."

"Couldn't be any of the Ham Spink crowd?"

"No. I don't think they'd treat us in just that way."

"Maybe it's some crazy chap."

"That's more like it---some hermit like old Peter Peterson," returned
Shep, referring to an old man who lived near the lakes and who
rarely showed himself in any of the settlements.

"Peter Peterson wasn't crazy; he didn't heave things at folks."

"Let us see if we can get him to come out. I'd like to see what sort
of a chap he is."

Keeping at what they thought was a safe distance, the two boy
hunters called loudly half a dozen times. No answer was returned.

"Perhaps he's deaf," suggested Whopper.

"More likely he doesn't want to show himself."

"Maybe it's a she, Shep."

"Possibly. If it's a woman she must be a regular witch. Let us
call again."

They did so. At first they heard nothing in return. Then came
a strange sound from the cabin, and for one brief instant a dark,
impish face showed itself at the broken window. Then the face
disappeared and a stone came whizzing toward the lads' heads. They
ducked just in time, or one or the other might have been seriously

"Let's get out---no use of staying here to be a target!" cried
Whopper, who was growing nervous. "No telling what that fellow---or
woman---may do next. Might come for us with a carving knife!"
And he hurried away, with the doctor's son beside him. They did
not slacken their pace until the dilapidated cabin had disappeared
from view.

"Did you see him---or her?" asked Shep.

"Just about and no more. What a dried-up, hateful face!"

"Just what I thought. I'll wager that that person, whoever he or
she is, is as mad as a---a crazy person can be."

"I believe you, and I don't know as I want to go near that cabin

"We ought to tell the authorities about it, though. That person
might kill somebody some day."

"Well, we can tell the police when we go back."

"Could it be some tramp, who is living on farmers' chickens and the

"It might be. But I think it's somebody who's crazy. A tramp
wouldn't find it any fun to live away out here. Why, it must be
two miles, at least, to the nearest farm."

"More like three."

"Tramps like to stay near the farms and near railroads. No, that's
some kind of a crazy hermit."

Discussing the happening from every point of view, the two lads
trudged on. It was now growing dark rapidly, and they were anxious
to reach Firefly Lake.

"Hope we haven't missed the way," said the doctor's son presently.
"Seems to me we ought to be getting to the river or the lake soon."

"Here's a rise of ground. I'm going up there and take a look,"
answered his chum.

From the small hill they made out the glint of water in the distance,
and they also saw the glare of the camp fire Snap and Giant had

"Might as well steer straight for the camp fire," said Shep. "It
will save us some walking."

When within a few hundred feet of the camp they set up a loud
whistle, to which the others immediately responded. Then Snap and
Giant came to meet them, and relieved them of some of the things.
A little later all were seated around the camp fire.

"So you got through all O.K., eh?" said the doctor's son, after Snap
and Giant had told their story. "Well, so did we---but we had some
queer things happen." And then he and Whopper told of the tumbles,
and of what had occurred at the old cabin in the woods.

"Say, wish I had been along!" cried Snap. "I'd like to investigate
that cabin and see who is there."

"You wouldn't want to investigate a block of wood or a stone thrown
at your head, would you?" demanded Whopper sarcastically.

"Maybe we could go there when the hermit---or whatever he or she
is---is asleep," went on Snap. He always believed in getting at the
bottom of a mystery.

"If you go there you'll go without me," declared Whopper firmly.
"I wouldn't tempt that---er---crazy fellow again for a billion
dollars! Why, he might come out and carve a chap all up with a
butcher knife, or blow your head off with a gun!"

Supper was ready, and while they were talking the young hunters
managed to stow away a hearty meal, after, which all felt better.
But the experiences of the day had worn them out, and each was
glad enough to retire early.

"We want to be stirring early to-morrow," said the doctor's son.
"We want to go up the lake and then begin to tote the outfit over
the hills to the mountains."

"How about it---going to set a guard?" asked Giant.

"Wonder if we can't put Wags on guard?" asked Snap.

"I think he'd bark if anything came to disturb us," came from

"We'll tie him to the front tent pole," said the doctor's son. "Then
he won't be able to run off, and more than likely he'll bark if
anything goes wrong."

They fixed the camp fire and then tied the collie fast by a cord
slipped under his collar. Evidently Wags was used to this treatment,
for he did not seem to mind it in the least. The young hunters
entered the tent, and in less than a quarter of an hour all were
sound asleep.

Thus an hour passed. Then, of a sudden, all the lads found themselves
wide awake. Wags was barking furiously, and the hair of his body
seemed to be fairly standing on end.



"Something is wrong!" cried Snap, leaping up and feeling for his gun.
"What is it, Wags?"

The dog kept on barking and commenced to tug on the cord that held him.

"Shall I let him loose?" asked Whopper. All the boys were now on
their feet, and he and Giant were rubbing their eyes. The wind had
shifted and was blowing the smoke of the smoldering camp fire toward
the tent.

"Don't do it---yet," answered the doctor's son. "He might bite
somebody. Let us go outside first."

"Maybe it's that crazy hermit," suggested Whopper, and gave a little
shiver. He could still see that impish face glaring at him. "Be

One after another the young hunters stepped into the open, each with
his gun ready for use. Shep stirred up the camp fire and threw on
some lightwood, causing a renewed blaze.

"I don't see anything wrong," said Shep after a long look around.

"See any wild beasts?" asked Giant. "Wags would bark at a wild beast,
I am sure."

"Nothing in sight now."

All walked completely around the tent and the camp fire, but failed
to see anything out of the ordinary. The collie had now ceased
barking and was wagging his tail, apparently as happy and free from
anxiety as ever.

"The dog must have dreamed he heard something," grumbled Whopper.
"Hang the luck! I was so sleepy!" And he yawned broadly, setting
his chums to doing likewise.

"Well, dogs do dream sometimes," admitted the doctor's son. "But
what made him bark so loudly and look so mad?"

Nobody could answer that question, and nobody tried. They took
another look around the tent, fixed the fire again, and at last one
by one retired to rest once more, Wags at the foot of the tent pole
as before.

It was broad daylight when they awoke again, and for a while nobody
felt like stirring. At length Snap looked at his watch.

"Great mackerel!" he ejaculated. "Eight o'clock! Time we were
getting breakfast and moving."

"That's so," answered Shep. "Still, there is no great hurry. Our
time is our own. That's the charm of such an outing as this."

"I think we might stay here to-day," came from Giant. "It will give
us a chance to rest up and to fish. Remember, we won't have much
fishing after we get to the mountains."

"We can get brook trout," answered Whopper. "But just the same I'm
willing to stay here to-day and fish. Maybe we can get some big
maskalonge, same as we did before."

"And if we can't get those we can get some pickerel and bass and
perch," added Giant.

Snap had promised to get breakfast ready, and he set in with a will
as soon as he was dressed. While he was working Giant and Whopper
walked down to a cove, where the boat had been left, to look over
their rods and lines. The doctor's son busied himself with a
camera, determined to take a few pictures before leaving the lake

Suddenly there came from the cove a hurried shouting that instantly
attracted the attention of Snap and Shep.

"What are they saying?" demanded the doctor's son.

"I don't know---something about the boat," answered Snap, and
dropping the coffee-pot he held he ran toward the lake. Shep
set the camera on a box and followed.

When they arrived at the cove they found Giant and Whopper gazing
up and down and across the water in perplexity. The rowboat, with
the larger portion of their outfit, was nowhere to be seen.

"Where's the boat?" demanded Snap.

"That's what we want to know," answered Giant.

"Didn't you leave it tied up?"

"Certainly I did---to this elderberry bush."

"Well, where is it now

"Don't ask me."

"Did Giant tie the boat?" asked the doctor's son. He had not seen
the craft since the parting at the rapids.

"Yes, I did---and I tied it good and fast, too," answered the small
youth. "Snap saw me do it."

"Yes, I saw him tie it up, but I thought maybe he shifted the boat

"No, I left it just as it was tied up."

The boy hunters looked blankly at one another. All gazed up and down
the shore and across the lake.

"Maybe Ham Spink-----" began Snap.

"If he took our boat I'll---I'll kick him full of holes!" cried
Giant. He had not forgotten how Spink and his cronies had annoyed
them in the past.

"I don't see any footprints around here," remarked the doctor's son,
looking over the ground carefully.

"Here's a tree branch broken," said Whopper.

"They might have come in a boat and towed our craft away," suggested

"Boys, I know why Wags barked during the night!" cried Giant. "He
heard somebody at the boat."

"Yes, and we didn't know enough to come down here," added Snap
bitterly. "If we had come we could have caught the boat-stealers

A lively discussion followed, but it did nothing toward enlightening
the boy hunters. The one fact remained that the boat and a large
portion of the outfit were gone, and unless the craft could be
recovered their outing would come to a premature finish.

"All I can think of to do is to take our guns and walk up and down
the lake front," said the doctor's son. "Two can go one way, and
two the other. If you see anything, shout or fire a gun."

"Shall we have breakfast first?" asked Snap, "It's started."

"Might as well, since we don't know how long this search will last."

Much disappointed, the chums walked back to the camp fire and there
made a hasty meal of cold partridge, crackers, cheese and coffee.
They left Wags tied to the tent pole.

"Maybe he'll scare off intruders---if any come," said Shep.

It was decided that Snap and Shep should go up the shore and Giant
and Whopper down in the direction of the river leading to Lake
Cameron. All started off briskly, anxious to catch sight of their
craft as speedily as possible, or learn what had become of it.

It was comparatively easy to walk along the shore of Firefly Lake,
and Snap and the doctor's son made good progress. They passed the
camp, receiving a joyous bark from Wags, and then skirted a small
bay leading to a fine, sandy beach.

"Fine spot for a swim," remarked Snap. "We ought to have one
before we go to the mountains."

"Yes; but let us find the boat first."

"Of course."

Half an hour's walking brought the two churns to another bay. They
were walking behind a fringe of bushes, and now the doctor's son
stepped forward, parted the branches and peered eagerly out on the
bosom of the lake.

"Hello!" he cried, with something of joy in his voice.

"Is it the boat?"


And now Snap came forward.

"There it is, just rounding yonder bend of the shore. Hurry up!
We'll catch the rascal who is running off with it!"

They had seen the craft, piled high with their outfit. A single
person was at the oars---a boy, by his size. He was pulling leisurely.

"Maybe he won't come ashore; and we can't follow him out on the lake,"
said Snap.

"We won't have to follow him."

"But if he won't come in?"

"We'll make him," and the doctor's son raised his shotgun

"That's so; I forgot about our guns. Of course he'll come in
if we threaten to shoot him."

The boys quickened their footsteps and soon reached a point opposite
to where the rowboat was moving along.

"Hi, you, stop!" yelled Shep loudly. "Stop, I say!"

At the command the boy in the boat ceased rowing and looked around

"Who called?" he asked in a low but distinct voice.

"I did," went on the doctor's son. "Turn in here with that boat
and be quick about it. What do you mean by running off with our

"Why, I declare!" gasped Snap as he caught a good look at the face
of the lad in the rowboat. "Shep, do you recognize him? He's the
lad from the circus---the young acrobat who ran away!"



Snap was right; it was indeed the youthful circus performer. He
looked as thin as ever, but his face bore a far more healthy color
than when the young hunters had seen him before.

"I say, what do you mean by running off with our boat?" repeated
the doctor's son wrathfully.

"Is this your boat?" asked the circus boy calmly.

"It is."

"I didn't run off with it. I found it drifting along the shore,
and I took off my shoes and socks and waded in after it."

"You didn't run off with it?" asked Snap.

"I give you my word of honor," replied the boy quickly. He ran
the boat to shore and stepped out. "If it's your property, I'm
glad to hand it over to you. I---Say, didn't I see you somewhere
before?" he demanded excitedly.

I rather guess you did---at the circus, replied Shep.

"Oh! You were the fellows who---who talked to Jones, the ringmaster."

"Exactly. And you're the chap who ran away."

"That's true, I did run away. Can you blame me? They half starved
me and beat me, and wanted me to go up on the trapeze after I had
had a spell of sickness."

"We saw you on a freight train leaving Rallings."

"Oh, did you? Yes, I left town on a freight. It was the easiest way
to go---and the cheapest." And the boy smiled quietly.

"Now give us the truth about our boat," said Shep sternly. "You
ran off with it last night, didn't you?"

"No, sir!" And the boy looked the doctor's son squarely in the eyes.
"I never took any property that didn't belong to me in my life."

"And where did you find the boat?"

"About half a mile from here, along the shore. I made up my mind
it had broken loose somehow, and I thought if I found the owner he
might---er---that is-----"

"Give you a reward?" suggested Snap. Something about the lad's
manner pleased him.

"Well, he might give me something to eat."


The boy nodded.

"Well, we'll give you something to eat---all you want---if you are
quite sure you didn't take the boat," answered the doctor's son.

"I told you the truth."

"Then get into the boat again, and we'll row to our camp."

The three got in, the strange boy sitting in the stern. Shep and
Snap took up the oars and soon the craft was heading for the cove
where it had been tied up the night before. A shot was fired to
notify Giant and Whopper that the boat had been found.

"What's your name?" asked Snap on the way.

"Tommy Cabot; but up to the show they called me Buzz."

"Are your folks with the circus?"

"My folks are dead---that is, my father and mother are. I've got
a sister somewhere, older than myself, but I don't know just where
she is."

"How did you happen to go with the circus?" asked Shep.

"They picked me up at Centerport. They saw that I was limber and
could do a turn or two, and they made me join. They promised me
good wages and a fine time, but as soon as we got on the road they
treated me worse than my dog."

"Your dog?"

"Yes. I had a dog, and I said I wouldn't join unless they took the
dog, too. Jones wanted me to give him, the dog---he was a fine
collie---but I wouldn't do it, and when I left I took my dog with me."

"Where is he now?"

"I don't know. He ran away several days ago, and I haven't seen him

"And he was a collie?" asked Snap.

"Yes." Tommy Cabot's eyes brightened expectantly. "You haven't
seen him, have you? He must be somewhere around these lakes."

"We found a dog---a collie. He's got a tag on his collar---number

"My dog!" cried the circus boy. "Oh, I'll be glad to see him! He's
my best friend, even if he did run away. Anyway, I guess he went
to get something to eat. I hadn't much for him."

"What do you call your dog?" asked the doctor's son.

"Wags---because he moves his tail so much."

"Well, I never! That's what we dubbed him."

"Tell me," broke in Snap. "Do you know what happened at the circus
after you left?"

"I heard that some of the animals got away. I didn't hear the
particulars. I went down among the farms and laid low, waiting for
the circus to go east."

"A lion got away, and also Abe, the educated chimpanzee. The circus
folks think those men who were discharged and you were responsible."

"Me! I didn't do it, and I never had anything to do with those men
who were discharged. They were a hard crowd."

A little later the camp was gained. As soon as the dog saw Tommy
Cabot he became frantic with joy and leaped up and licked the
hand of his youthful master. Tommy fairly hugged Wags to his

Of course, Whopper and Giant were surprised to see the circus boy
and glad to know the boat had been found. How the craft had gotten
loose was a mystery nobody was able to solve.

A substantial breakfast was prepared for the circus boy, and while
he was eating he told his story in detail---how his parents had
died years before, and how his sister Grace had been taken by some
friends in the Middle West.

"I sold papers and blacked boots for a living, and I learned to do
handsprings and the like," said Tommy. "Then the circus came along
and I went with it, taking Wags. Some of the circus men were kind
to me, but most of them were rough, and Jones and Casso were cruel.
When I ran away I made up my mind I'd never go back, but would try
to get work in some city and also try to find my sister Grace. But
I ran short of money and then I came out here, thinking I could get
work on some farm, or go with some sportsmen to carry their traps
for 'em. But I didn't find any farms out here, and the only
sportsmen I met were some well-dressed young fellows who jeered
me and called me a scarecrow---I suppose on account of my shabby
clothes." The circus boy still wore the big suit of rags the
young hunters had noticed before.

"Must have been Ham Spink and his crowd," murmured Whopper. "It
would be just like them to do that."

In spite of the color in his cheeks the young hunters could see
that the circus lad was far from strong. He was nervous, and
evidently needed plenty of food and a rest.

Having heard the runaway's tale, Snap and the others told something
about themselves. Tommy listened with keen interest, and presently
his eyes showed considerable enthusiasm.

"I wish I was going with you," he said. "Such an outing would suit
me down to the ground. I can cook some, and I could wash the
dishes and cut wood and keep the camp in order, and all that.
But I don't suppose you'd want me along in these old duds."
And he looked sadly at his torn and faded suit, so much too big
for him.

"Oh, we might fit you out with a sweater and a cap," said Snap. The
more he saw of the circus boy the better he liked the young fellow.
"But I don't know," he added hastily, looking at his chums.

"We didn't expect to take anybody," said the doctor's son slowly.
"But you might stay with us for a day or two, anyway---and we can
talk it over. We ought to be better acquainted before we make a

"He could help us take our outfit to the mountains," said Giant. "We
could pay him for the work."

"I don't want any pay. Just give me my meals, and it will be all

"We can settle the whole thing later," said Shep. "But you can
stay for the present."

"Wasn't it queer?" cried Whopper. "We found your dog and you found
our boat!"

"It was queer---but I'm glad of it, for it kind of squares up,"
answered the circus boy. "I don't know how much you think of your
boat, but I think a whole lot of Wags."

"If we hadn't got the boat back our outing would have been spoiled,"
said the doctor's son. "But come; if we are going fishing, let us
start at once. We can do the rest of our talking after our lines
are in."



The four boy hunters were soon down at the lake shore preparing their
hooks and lines. Tommy Cabot went along, and while they fished he sat
and watched them.

"This beats being with a circus all hollow," said the young acrobat.

"I always thought circus life was fine," declared Giant.

"It is---on the outside. But on the inside! No more of it for me!"

"Did they pay you much?" questioned Whopper.

"I was supposed to get ten dollars a week, but I didn't. Every
time payday came around they'd deduct something for extras I had
had and things they said I had broken, or torn, or lost, so I
usually got two or three dollars, and that I had to spend on clothing,
shoes---and eating, for the meals weren't heavy at the show.
Then, one night, some scamp stole my suit, and I had to buy these
from one of the workmen. I got 'em cheap, but they aren't much
good," and Tommy smiled grimly as he surveyed the dilapidated

At fishing the boys were highly successful. Snap caught the first
fish---a good-sized perch---and the doctor's son followed with a
fine pickerel. Then came Whopper with another pickerel. For a
while Giant caught nothing.

"What's the matter, Giant?" queried Snap. "You are usually our
best angler."

"Oh, wait; I haven't begun yet," returned the small youth.

Scarcely had he spoken when he felt a tug and commenced to play a
fish with vigor. That it was a large specimen of the finny tribe
was evident by the way the rod bent and the line snapped and hummed.

"Look out, or you'll lose him!" cried Whopper excitedly.

"Let Giant alone---he knows how to play any fish," said Snap.

"That's what!" added the doctor's son.

The others forgot their lines in watching Giant. Up came the line
for fifty feet, and then out it would rush. But at last he
commenced to reel in steadily, and then, with a swing, he lifted
his catch bodily and allowed it to drop on the grass, where it
flounced and flopped vigorously for a moment.

"A maskalonge!" cried the other boys simultaneously.

"And a big one!" added Whopper.

"Tell you what! It takes Giant to haul in the big fish!" was Snap's
comment. "No little chaps for him!"

The catching of the maskalonge enthused all, and they went to fishing
with renewed vigor. By dinner-time they had eighteen fish to their
credit, a few little ones and some weighing two and three pounds.

"Say, you fellows will have plenty of fish to eat," remarked the
boy from the circus.

"Well, you shall have your share," added Snap quickly. "Which puts
me in mind that it must be near feeding time."

"Shall I get some wood and start up the fire?" asked Tommy.

"If you will."

At once the circus boy started off, and when the others got back
to camp they found a fine blaze going with plenty of wood near by
to keep it up. Tommy was washing the left-over dishes, and had
set a kettle of water to boil.

"He certainly isn't lazy," whispered Snap to Shep. "If we take
him along he'll earn his food."

"Yes, and if he does the camp work that will give us more time to
rest and take pictures," returned the doctor's son.

"Boys, I move we take a swim this afternoon," cried Giant, while
they were sitting around waiting for some fish to cook. "It will
be our last chance before going to the mountains, and the water is
just right."

"Second the motion!" returned Snap.

"So say we all of us!" sang out Whopper. "I've been dying for a
swim for the last ten years!"

"Dying again! Poor boy!" sighed Shep. "Now, if you'll only live-----"

He got no further, for, coming up behind him, Whopper pulled him
over on the grass. As he went rolling he caught his tormentor
by the ankles and down came Whopper. Then over and over rolled
both lads, up against Giant, who joined in the tussle good-naturedly.

"Look out for the fire!" yelled Snap, and as they rolled close
to the flames he tried to force them back. Then down he went
himself, and the mix-up became more strenuous than ever. It was
good, healthy fun, and Tommy Cabot stood by with a broad grin
on his face, enjoying it thoroughly. As they rolled toward the
woods he picked up an armful of leaves and scattered it over the
crowd. The tussle lasted for full five minutes, and then the
various boys sat up almost exhausted.

"Guess you've got an appetite for dinner now," observed the boy
from the circus.

"Appetite!" cried Whopper. "I could eat a house and lot!"

"With the fence and barn thrown in," added Giant.

They washed up a bit and soon had dinner, consisting of baked
maskalonge, pancakes and chocolate. For dessert they had apples.

"Now we'll rest for an hour and then go swimming," said Shep, and
so it was decided. All took a nap, Tommy lying down on the grass
with the faithful Wags beside him.

While fishing the boys had selected a spot for swimming, where the
bottom was sloping and sandy. They went in together, the circus
boy with the others.

"You can swim?" asked Snap.

"Oh, yes. And if I couldn't Wags would take care of me," answered
Tommy. "Just see him tow me!" And getting a stick he called the
collie. Wags took hold of the end and commenced to swim along,
dragging his young master after him.

"Hurrah for Wags!" shouted Whopper. "When I get tired I'll have
him haul me along for a while." Evidently the collie enjoyed the
bath as much as did the boys.

They remained in the water for the best part of an hour, racing,
diving and doing various "stunts." When they came out Snap declared
it was the best swim he had ever had.

"It's a pity we won't be able to swim in the mountains," said Giant.

"Well, we can't expect to have everything," returned the doctor's son.

Having dried off and dressed, the boys returned to camp and spent
the rest of the afternoon in getting ready to move early in the
morning. It was decided to hide the boat in the bushes and leave
a portion of their outfit in the craft, tied down under the tarpaulin.
They would carry with them all the things needed for several days,
so that a second trip would not be necessary until they felt like
taking it.

"I'll carry a share," said Tommy. "I'm feeling stronger than I was."

"We'll give you a small load," answered the doctor's son.

They retired early and were up at sunrise. Tommy renewed the camp
fire, and they had a meal of fish and wheatcakes, with coffee. Then
the tent was taken down and packed along with the other things.

"Now put out the fire and we'll be off," said Shep, and he saw to it
personally that every spark of the blaze was extinguished. As my
old readers know, the boy hunters knew only too well what a forest
fire meant, and they had no desire to start such a conflagration.

Their route now lay over some hills that were more or less strange
to them. But they had received many instructions from Jed Sanborn,
and thought they would have little trouble in gaining a trail back
of the hills that led into the Windy Mountains.

"Are the mountains really windy?" asked Snap as they began the climb
up the hills back of the lake, each with a good-sized load strapped
to his back.

"They are only windy at certain times of the year," answered the
doctor's son. "But when it blows, why, it blows, so Jed Sanborn

"Then we'll have to put our tent up good and strong," came from
Whopper. "We don't want to wake up some night and find ourselves
blown into the middle of next year!"

"And dying to know how we are going to get back," added Giant dryly.

"Giant, if you say dying again---" began Whopper.

"Save your wind, boys!" interrupted Shep. "We've got a long and
hard climb before us."

What the doctor's son said about the climb was true---the way was
a steady pull upward, and they had frequently to stop to get their
breath. It was nearly eleven o'clock when they reached the top of
the hill. They had been on the upgrade for three hours.

"Let us rest until after dinner," said Snap. "No use killing

"We've still got some miles to go," answered Shep.

"I know it---but it will be mostly down grade---at least, until we
reach the foot of the mountains."

It was decided to rest, and all of the young hunters willingly
slipped their loads and sat down. Below them was Firefly Lake, with
Lake Cameron in the distance on one side and Lake Narsac in the
distance on the other. Back of them lay the Windy Mountains, with
a hollow of trees and bushes between. The boys viewed the mountains
with interest, thinking of the outing they hoped to have there.



"I hope we strike a good camping spot by night," said Snap, "for,
unless I miss my guess, it will rain before morning."

"Oh, don't say rain!" cried Giant. "We can do without rain."

"It may not be a lasting storm, but some rain will come, mark my

"I think I see the trail up the mountains," said Whopper, who was
looking through a pair of fieldglasses. "Anyway, it's path of
some kind."

The others gave a look, and all decided that Whopper was right.

Resuming their loads after the noonday repast, they started down
the hill in the direction of Windy Mountains. They had some big
bare rocks to cover, and slipped and slid over these as best they
could, and then plunged straight into a thick woods.

"Ought to be hunting here, if anywhere," observed Shep. "Looks as
if it was new ground for sportsmen."

"Beware of sink holes!" cried Whopper as he reached a rather soft
spot. "We don't want to go down as we did the other time we were

"Look!" exclaimed the doctor's son as they came to a small opening
in the woods. "Deer, or I'll eat my cap!"

He pointed to some bushes and tender saplings growing near. The
bushes had been nibbled, and so had the bark on the saplings, showing
that some animal had been there.

"I believe you are right, and if so we may get a shot," answered

"Yes, a shot---but not until after we have used our cameras,"
answered the doctor's son. "Don't forget the first object of this
outing---to get some good pictures."

"Right you are, Shep; I forgot. But we must shoot the deer---after
we have our photos."

"Better sight the game first," came from Snap.

With the thoughts of bringing down one or more deer filling their
minds, the boy hunters did not care so much about making a camp for
the night. If necessary, they knew they could erect their tent
anywhere, and take it down again in the morning. Even the prospect
of rain did not daunt them.

"Let us hurry," said Shep. "If we reach the deer we want to do it
while it is light enough to take some pictures."

With their cameras and guns ready for use, they went on, Tommy
cautioning the dog to be silent. Wags seemed to understand and
even acted as if he might lead them to the game. But he was not
trained, so they took no chances on this.

Deep in a hollow they came upon the unmistakable hoofmarks of three
deer. They followed these through the woods and to a small clearing.
At a clump of bushes the doctor's son called a halt.

"I think they may be near," he whispered. "If so, we want to go slow
or they'll get away from us."

"Perhaps you'd better go ahead and take a look," said Snap, sure that
that was what his chum desired.

The loads were slipped to the ground, and they went on, Shep well
in advance. Suddenly the doctor's son put up one hand. It was a
signal that the game was in sight. Snap whispered to Tommy to stop
and hold the collie.

"There they are, by yonder rocks," said the doctor's son, pointing
with his finger. "We can all get good pictures, I think. Let us
spread out a little."

They did as he advised. The three deer were close together, grazing.
The boys came up almost breathlessly, and each snapped his camera
for two films or plates. At the first clicking one of the deer,
evidently the leader, raised his head. Scenting the air, he made
a beautiful sight. For just an instant he stood still, then gave
a snort and started to run.

"Shoot 'em!" cried Shep, and swinging his camera out of the way he
caught up his firearm. But Snap was ahead of him, and bang! went
his piece. Bang! bang! bang! went the others in rapid succession.
Then Wags began to bark furiously, and Tommy let him go. After the
game he leaped at his topmost speed.

The first volley from the shotguns laid one of the deer low, while
a second was slightly wounded, and began to limp away. The other
deer kept on running and soon disappeared into the dense forest.

"Come on---let us get that wounded deer!" cried Whopper.

"There goes Wags after him!" shouted Tommy.

"That dog will get killed if he doesn't look out," answered Snap,
who knew only too well how a cornered deer can fight. But Wags was
too wise to get within reach of the deer's hoofs and head. He raced
around and around the game, simply worrying it.

Coming closer, the boy hunters watched their chances and Snap took
another shot, followed by Giant. These were fatal, and limping a
few feet farther, the deer staggered and fell, and soon breathed
its last.

"Call off the dog," ordered the doctor's son. But this was
unnecessary, for after a single sniff Wags retired and did not
attempt to molest the game.

"Talk about luck!" cried Whopper, swinging his cap in the air. "I
call this prime! Two deer, first crack out of the box!"

"Yes; and see the fine pictures we got," added Snap. "That is, I
trust they are all right," he added hastily.

"Did you change your films and plates?" asked the doctor's son.

All had, and they guarded jealously those containing the precious

"Now we must take some more photos," said Shep. "We'll get Tommy
to snap us holding up the deer on poles. We can label the two
pictures 'Before Shooting' and 'After.'

"That's the stuff!" cried Giant slangily.

Two poles were soon cut and a deer slung on each, and while Shep
and Snap raised up one, Whopper and Giant raised the other. Tommy
had been instructed as to what to do, and he took a snapshot or a
time picture with each camera, so that they would have plenty of
films and plates, in case one or more proved failures.

"It's a bit extravagant," said the doctor's son. "But we'll not
have such game pictures every day. When we simply take scenery
one plate or one film will do."

"When we make camp we can hang the deer in front of the tent and
get another view," said Snap.

"Yes; and get a view of our big string of fish, before we eat 'em
all up," added Giant.

"Well, one thing is certain," said Whopper, after they had surveyed
their prizes thoroughly; "we can't get to the Windy Mountains by
to-night with such a load."

"In that case we might as well make two bites of the trip and camp
here for to-night," said Shep. "I reckon this spot is as good as any.
There's a brook with good water, for the deer have been using it."

"There's another reason for going into camp," came from Snap. "Just
look at the sky over to the west."

All gazed in the direction mentioned and saw heavy black clouds
just showing over the treetops. The clouds advanced rapidly, soon
covering the sun. Then came the rumble of distant thunder.

"A thunderstorm!" exclaimed Tommy. "I don't like them at all.
What shall we do?"

"Put up the tent as quickly as we can," ordered the doctor's son.
"That storm may last all night, and we want to keep dry if we can."

In great haste they selected some saplings and cut them down for
tent poles and pegs. Then they got out the canvas and put it up,
driving in the pegs that held it as deeply as possible. The tent
was erected on some sloping ground, and behind it they cut a V in
the soil, so that the water might run off on either side instead
of across the flooring of the shelter. Then they cut some
brushwood for couches and hauled it inside.

"Here comes the storm!" cried Snap presently, and scarcely had he
spoken when there came a rush of wind, followed by some big drops
of rain. Then came more wind, swaying the tent violently and
causing the sides to bulge out like a balloon. A torrent of
water followed, and all of the boys were glad enough to crawl under
the tent and tie the opening in front tight shut behind them.



The boys and even the dog put in a thoroughly uncomfortable night.
It thundered and lightened for two hours, and for the larger
portion of the time the downpour was so heavy that it was impossible
for the V-shaped trench behind the tent to carry it off. Consequently,
some of the water rushed directly across the flooring of the shelter,
wetting the brushwood cut for sleeping purposes. To keep their
shoes and socks dry, the young hunters went barefooted. Once the
wind cut loose a corner of the tent, and, despite the rain, Shep
and Snap had to go out and cut longer pegs with which to fasten
the ropes. They had on rubber coats, but still got a good deal of
water in their faces and down their necks.

It was impossible to light a camp fire, and so they had to eat a
cold supper of such things as chanced to be handy. They could
not lie down, and had to sit on little stacks of the damp brushwood,
with their bare feet in the water and mud.

"Say, this is dead loads of fun!" was Whopper's sarcastic comment.
"Just as funny as doing an example in algebra or writing a composition
on the decay of the Roman Empire!"

"Are you dying to-----" began Giant, when a vigorous pinch on the arm
from Whopper stopped him. "Wow! Let up!"

"Then you let up."

"I will."

By midnight the worst of the storm was over, but it still rained
steadily, and this kept up until almost daybreak. But then the wind
shifted and the clouds scattered rapidly. Utterly worn out, the boys
leaned against the tent poles and caught such "cat naps" as they could.

When the young hunters finally emerged from the tent a surprise
awaited them. Tommy was ahead of them, and the circus boy had cut
such dry wood as he could find and started a big blaze. More than
this, he had put on a kettle of water to boil.

"Good for you, Tommy!" cried the doctor's son. "We'll soon have a
hot cup of coffee to cheer us, and we can dry out the tent and our
clothing while we get breakfast."

"That's about the worst night I can remember," said Whopper. "My!
how it did pour at first! I thought sure we'd be washed down into
some hillside torrent and into the lake."

They placed all the damp things close to the fire to dry, and put
on their socks and shoes. Then Giant and Whopper, assisted by
Tommy, prepared a rather elaborate breakfast of fish and venison

"We deserve a square meal," said Giant. "It will put new vigor into
us." And his words proved true. By the time they had finished the
repast they were ready to joke over the discomforts through which
they had passed.

"But one storm is enough," said Snap. "I trust it stays clear
after this."

The woods were so wet it was decided not to travel through them
until after dinner. The sun came out strongly, and in the clear sky
thus presented the boys managed to get several pleasing photographs.
One was of Tommy and his dog sitting on a rock, and this was so good
that, when shown later, it was very much admired. They also took
a photograph of Giant and Whopper with the strings of fish.

Late that afternoon found them at the foot of the Windy Mountains.
Here they discovered a well-defined trail and also a signboard,
telling them the game preserve in which Dr. Reed was interested
was just beyond."

"Now we haven't much farther to go," said the doctor's son. "My
father said we'd find a good camping spot less than a mile from here."

"I'm glad of it," answered Giant. "This load on my back isn't as
light as it might be."

Pushing on, they soon came to where another signboard had been
located; but the board had been knocked off with a stone or a
hammer and was missing.

"Some hunter's meanness," was Snap's comment.

"A fellow who would destroy a signboard ought to be locked up,"
was Whopper's comment. "It's about on a par with starting a forest

They trudged on, and presently came to where somebody had had
a camp fire. Here were some empty tins and some well-picked bones.
Giant kicked over one of the empty tins.

"Hello! I know who was here!" he cried. "Ham Spink and his crowd."

"How do you know?" demanded the doctor's son.

"Because I know they had some of this brand of canned goods with
'em---saw it among their supplies. It's different from the kind we
have, or what you can get in the regular stores. The Spinks have
their goods sent by freight from the city."

"Giant must be right," said Snap. "And look here, will you?"

As he spoke Snap pulled from the dead embers of the fire a half-burned
bit of wood. It was part of a signboard.

"Humph! the signboard that was missing below here," muttered Shep.
"Ham and his crowd were too lazy to cut firewood, so they used
the board. If that isn't the height of laziness and meanness!"

"It's against the law to destroy signboards," said Whopper. "That
crowd ought to be brought to book for this."

"If you said anything they'd say we did it," responded Snap. "Ham
would do anything to keep out of trouble and get us into a muss."

"That camp fire was built after the storm," said the doctor's son.
"That proves the Spink crowd can't be far from here."

"If they are near us we want to be on our guard," observed Giant.
"They'd like no better fun than to steal our things. They haven't
forgotten what happened on the lakes this summer and last winter."

The boy hunters were bound for a spot mentioned to them by Dr.
Reed and Jed Sanborn. It was a small "dent" in the mountain side,
where were located a fine spring of cool water with a rocky brook
beyond. Some distance farther was a cut in the mountain with a
tiny lake, surrounded by cedars and called Cedar Lake.

It was nightfall when they reached the "dent" and the spring. All
were thirsty, and the sparkling water was very refreshing.

"Father says that some day he'll organize a company to bottle this
water," said Shep. "He is sure it will command a large sale in the
big cities---it is so clear and pure."

"It couldn't be better," answered Snap. He looked around him. "And
what an ideal spot for our camp!"

It assuredly was ideal in every respect. They could see for miles
to the east, south and west, over hill after hill, covered with
green trees and brushwood, with ribbons of water between, and here
and there a lake. Using the field-glasses they could make out the
church steeple of Fairview and some other buildings. Between the
hills they could see various farms, with the cattle grazing in the
pastures, or standing in groups in the barnyards. All was as silent
and as calm as one could wish.

"What a place for a castle, like those of old!" murmured Snap as his
eyes roamed over the scene. "Just think of this in the light of the
full moon."

"Snap is getting romantic," came from Whopper. "Come on down to the
earth, sonny, and help pitch the tent, or you'll have to sleep out
in that moonlight to-night and run the risk of getting moonstruck."
And this remark brought forth a laugh, in which even Snap joined.

As tired as they were, the five boys cut the necessary poles and
hoisted the tent. As this was to be a permanent camp for some
weeks they erected the shelter with care, and around it dug a deep
trench, with another trench to carry rain down the mountain side,
so that none might run over the flooring as it had during the
thunderstorm. Then they spent considerable time in cutting down
some heavy cedar boughs for bedding. Snap, Whopper and Tommy
did this latter work, and while it was going on Shep and Giant
got together some flat stones and built something of a fireplace
and a stove, not far from the tent's entrance. Then they cut
firewood and soon had a generous blaze started and put the kettle
on to boil.

"And are we going to stay here for a while, and just hunt and fish
and---and rest?" asked the boy from the circus.

"Yes," answered Shep. "Don't you like it?"

"Like it! I think it's the---the best ever! Couldn't be better!"
was the hearty reply.

"I think it will make you fat and strong, Tommy, and that's what you

"And another thing," answered the boy. "Those circus people can't
find me out here."

"It's not likely."

Everybody was glad that a permanent camp had been reached at last,
and that night all slept "like rocks," to use Giant's way of
expressing it. They left Wags on guard, but this was unnecessary,
for nothing came to disturb them.

The next day was spent in perfecting the camp and in taking care of
what remained of the fish and of the venison. The skins were nailed
up in the sun to dry. The boys were sorry they could not keep all
of the meat, but this was impossible, as they had no ice and no
means of smoking or pickling it.

"Here comes somebody!" cried Whopper, while they sat around waiting
for supper, which Snap and Tommy were preparing. Two boys were
approaching, and as they came closer the young hunters recognized
Ham Spink and his close crony, Carl Dudder.



"Wonder what they want?" whispered Shep as the newcomers drew closer.

"Perhaps they have only come out of idle curiosity," returned Snap.

"Well, in that case, they had better stay away," grumbled Giant.

Ham Spink and Carl Dudder came up slowly. To tell the truth, they
were a bit afraid, thinking the others might jump on them and
begin a fight, because of what had happened at the Fairview dock.

"Hello!" said Ham presently. He did not know how else to start
a conversation.

"Hello yourself!" responded the doctor's son shortly.

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