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Out with Gun and Camera by Ralph Bonehill

Part 3 out of 4

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"Going to camp out here, eh?" went on the dudish youth.

"Oh, no; we've opened an oyster house," returned Whopper, who was
bound to have his fun.

"Humph! Frank Dawson, you needn't get funny!"

"Was I funny? I didn't see you laugh."

"You know what I mean."

"Expect to do some big hunting, I suppose?" said Carl Dudder with a
bit of a sneer in his tones.

"We generally do pretty well when we are out," responded Snap.

"Following us up, eh?"

"Not at all."

"Yes, you are. You knew we were coming here."

"And you know who this tract of land belongs to, now?" said the
doctor's son.

"It isn't fenced in," answered Carl, and his face took on a leer.
"Anybody can hunt here who wants to."

"That is true---but it will be fenced in next season. And, by the
way, what right had you to tear down one of the signboards and use
it for firewood?"

"Who said we did that?" demanded Ham.

"We saw the half-burned board at your camp fire."

"You can't blame that on us!" cried Carl.

"We can, and do," responded Snap. "You ought to be locked up for it."

"Oh, give us a rest!" growled Ham.

"What brought you here?" demanded Snap sharply.

"Oh, we knew we were being followed---saw you from a distance---and
made up our mind to see who it was. I don't see why you can't leave
us alone."

"We are not following you," said Giant, "And if you'll leave us
alone we'll not bother you."

"But you have got to keep your distance," added Whopper. "No
more underhanded work, like we had before. Understand?"

Ham paid no attention to the last words. He and his crony were
looking at Tommy. Now they whispered together.

"Say, aren't you the kid that ran away from the circus?" demanded
Ham, turning to the small youth.

At the question Tommy looked surprised and then scared.

"Wha---what do you know about me?" he stammered.

"Answer me," ordered Ham. "You ran away from Casso's Railroad
Shows, didn't you?"

"Don't tell him a thing, Tommy!" cried Snap quickly. "It is none
of his business."

"Ha! I knew I was right!" cried Ham triumphantly. "You're the boy
they called Buzz, the Human Fly. I saw you perform at Chester,
and I heard later about your running away. And you helped to let
a lion and a chimpanzee escape, too."

"I did not!" cried Tommy. "The men who were discharged let those
animals get away. I had nothing whatever to do with it."

"Oh, yes, that's your story; but the circus people tell it
differently," put in Carl Dudder. "I was talking to one of them
only the other day. They'd give a good deal to catch you and
those men."

As he spoke he advanced toward Tommy as if to catch hold of the lad.
The boy from the circus shrank back and looked very much alarmed.

"Here, Carl Dudder, you leave that boy alone!" cried the doctor's
son. "Don't you dare to touch him!"

"I'll do as I please. The boy doesn't belong to you," blustered

"I know that---but you are not going to lay the weight of your
finger on him."

"Don't do it," whispered Ham to his crony in alarm. "Remember, they
are five to two."

"I think there is a reward for this boy," answered Carl in an equally
low tone of voice.

"Well, if there is, keep mum and we may be able to get it."

There was an awkward pause. Tommy looked appealingly at the doctor's
son and his other friends.

"Don't you worry; they shan't touch you," said Shep kindly. "They
are big bullies, that's all. We know them thoroughly."

"Are you going to stay here?" asked Ham.

"That is our business," answered Snap. "Where have you located?"

"That is our business."

"So it is; but I want you to understand, once for all, Ham Spink,
that this time you must keep your distance. If you try to molest
us in any way you'll get the worst of it."

"How long are you going to stay?"

"That is our business, too."

"Come on, Ham," said Carl in a low voice. "What is the use of
talking to them at all? Let us get back to our own camp, and let
them take care of themselves."

"All right, if you say so," answered Ham Spink, and turning on his
heel he walked back the way he had come, with his crony beside him.

"Now, what brought those chaps here?" demanded Snap as soon as
their enemies were out of hearing. "No good, I'll wager that."

"Oh, I guess they just wanted to come and say something," said
Giant. "Let us have supper. I'm too hungry to wait any longer."

Supper was had, and the boy hunters and Tommy sat around the camp
fire for two hours, discussing the situation and planning what they
would do for the days to come. It was decided to pay a visit to
the lake for the remainder of the supplies two days later---after
they had hunted and taken pictures and rested up a little.

The two days passed quickly. The boy hunters saw and heard nothing
of the Spink crowd and almost forgot about them. They went out for
game, and managed to bring down some rabbits, squirrels and some
fine quail, and also a pinemarten. They took over a dozen pictures
of the game and also of the scenery, and Shep managed to get a fine
photograph of an old owl as he sat on a tree limb. The boys made
no effort to shoot the owl, for he really seemed friendly and did
not offer to fly away.

It was decided that Tommy and Whopper should remain at the camp
while the other three made the trip to Firefly Lake.

"Take good care of things while we are gone," cautioned the doctor's
son. "Don't let the Spink crowd get the best of you."

"We'll watch out," answered Whopper. "If they try any funny
business we'll shoot them into the middle of next year!"

"Oh, don't shoot anybody!" cried Snap.

"Well, you know what I mean," answered the youth who loved to

Shep and the others had expected to start off directly after breakfast,
but Snap had to fix one of his shoes, and this delayed them. But by
ten o'clock they were on the way, the others waving them a fond

"We'll look for you by to-morrow night," said Tommy.

It was an easy matter to climb down the mountain side, but the walk
up the hill that separated them from the lake was another story.
Yet, as they had only their guns to carry, they made good progress,
and by the middle of the afternoon they were in plain sight of the
body of water where they had left the boat.

"Somebody ahead of us!" cried Snap presently, and pointed out three
persons walking toward the lake.

"I wonder if they can be members of the Spink crowd?" was Shep's
comment. "Let us get closer and see"



It was presently made evident to our friends that the persons ahead
were Ham Spink, Carl Dudder and a lad named Dick Bush, who had in
former years been a close personal friend to Ham.

"Wonder where they are going?" asked Snap.

"Down to the lake," answered the doctor's son. "Most likely to
where they left their boat."

"Let us keep behind them and out of sight," suggested Giant. "If
they see us they may follow us up and damage our boat after we are

So, although they kept the Spink crowd well in sight, they took
good care not to show themselves.

Reaching the lake shore, Ham Spink and his friends came to a halt
behind a clump of willows overhanging the water. Close by the
others saw a rowboat tied up.

"That must be their boat," whispered Snap. "Most likely they came
for the same purpose that we did---to get supplies."

"Listen!" whispered the doctor's son. "I just heard somebody
mention my name."

"Their boat must be somewhere along here," they heard Ham Spink
exclaim. "And if it is---We'll fix it, all right," finished
Carl Dudder. "Well, that's all right," expostulated Dick Bush.

"But we don't want to do anything unlawful. They might have us

"They won't know who did it," answered Ham.

"What do you think of doing if you locate their boat?" asked Dick.

"We'll take out the supplies and hide 'em, and then fill the boat
with rocks and sink her," answered Ham.

"That will be doing 'em up brown!" chuckled Carl.

"Well, I don't know about this," answered Dick Bush doubtfully.
He was not quite so lawless in his ideas as were the others.

"Oh, it will be all right; we won't hurt the boat any," answered
Ham. "Come on; the quicker we locate the boat the better. As
soon as we've fixed their boat we can come back here and get our
things and hurry back to camp." And then the three boys moved
along down the lake shore.

"Well, wouldn't that jar you?" cried Snap, when the other crowd was
gone. "Hide our supplies and sink our boat! Well, I guess not!"

"They haven't turned in the right direction to find our boat,"
returned the doctor's son. "We can get it out of the way before
they come back."

"We ought to pay them for this," murmured Giant. "Let us take their
boat and row it up the lake. It will give 'em something to do to
find it."

"That's the talk!" cried Snap. "As the old saying goes, 'what
is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.' Jump in and we'll
take the boat to where we left our own."

They soon had the Spink rowboat untied, and leaping aboard they
shoved the craft out into the lake. Then Snap and Shep took the
oars, and they were soon moving up Firefly Lake. They kept close
to the overhanging trees and bushes, so that the other crowd might
not discover what was taking place.

The distance to where they had left their own craft was not quite
half a mile, and they reached the spot in less than a quarter of
an hour. They pulled inshore, to find their boat just as it had
been left.

"Now, the quicker we work the better," said the doctor's son. "I've
got an idea," he went on, as he caught sight of a tiny island
about a hundred feet from shore. "Why not tie their boat fast
over there? Then if they want it they can swim for it."

"Good!" cried Snap, and grinned.

Taking their own boat along, they rowed to the island, and there
the Spink craft was made fast on the side next to the main shore
and in plain view of anybody who might be passing. On the shore
of the island Snap stuck up one of the oars and on the top placed
a rubber boot he found in the rowboat---one of a pair Ham had
brought along in case of prolonged wet weather.

"Ham will recognize that rubber boot," said Snap. "And then he'll
know the boat is his." The sight of the rubber boot on the top of
the oar was a comical one and the boys had to laugh as they looked
at it.

Having fastened the boat so that it could not possibly drift away,
the boys boarded their own craft and rowed still farther up Firefly
Lake, until they came to a cove and a creek, the latter thickly
overhung with bushes. They pulled the craft out of sight, so that
to find it without knowing where it was located would be
practically impossible.

"Now, then, to take our things and go into camp for the night,"
said the doctor's son. "We'll have to find some shelter under the
rocks, not having a tent."

The boys knew the locality fairly well, from their previous visits,
and walked to where there was a split in the hills. Here was
located a rocky cliff, hollowed out somewhat at the bottom.

"We can camp here," said Shep. "With a camp fire in front the hollow
will be quite comfortable."

While in the cove they had managed to catch a few perch and a
pickerel, and starting a blaze, they cooked these. They had some
crackers and cheese along, so made a comfortable if not an elaborate
meal, washing it down with a drink from a spring.

"We ought to get to bed early," said Snap. "Then we can start
back for camp at sunrise, and so get ahead of the Spink crowd."

"Oh, they won't go back until they find their boat," said Giant.

"I don't know about that," said the doctor's son. "They may get
mad and lay it to us and start back to-night. You can never tell
what Ham Spink and Carl Dudder will do. Dick Bush isn't quite
so bad."

As it was warm, they allowed the fire to die down, and by nine
o'clock all were sleeping soundly. They did not think it necessary
to stand guard, for the hollow was well screened from outside
observation, and they had all their traps behind them, next to
the cliff.

How long he had been asleep the doctor's son did not know, but
he awoke with a start, feeling something pressing on his breast.
He gave a yell of fright and alarm and added another yell as
he felt his leg pulled. Then a dark body fled from the hollow
and went crashing through the bushes beyond.

"Wha---what's the matter?" came in a stammering voice from Giant.

"Who was that?" demanded Snap as, in the darkness, he felt for
his gun. The fire was practically out, and the hollow was intensely

"I don't know; Ham Spink, maybe," answered the doctor's son, much
bewildered. "He stood on me and pulled my foot," he added.

The boy hunters leaped up, and after some trouble armed themselves.
It was dark around the cliff, so they could see nothing. They
listened intently and at a distance heard a peculiar noise and the
rustling of some brushwood.

"Shall I give 'em a shot?" suggested Snap.

"No; you might kill somebody," answered Shep. He raised his voice:
"Hi, Ham Spink! Come back here! We know you!"

To this call no answer was vouchsafed. Again the boys listened, but
now the only sound that broke the stillness was the low wind in the
tree branches overhead.

"He has gone, whoever he was," said Snap. "Shep, are you sure
it was Ham?"

"Not at all. I only thought it might be. For all I know it might
have been a wild animal."

"What! to pull your leg?" queried Giant.

"Well, maybe he didn't really pull the leg. You see, I was pretty
sound asleep. But he, or it, jumped over me and back again."

"Let's make a light and see if the outfit is O.K.," suggested Snap.
They had a small pocket lantern along, and this was lit and an
examination was made.

"See, the sugar bag is bursted open!" cried the doctor's son.

"The beans are scattered everywhere!" came from Giant.

"And the cracker box is open and some of the crackers are missing,"
added Snap. "That must have been the work of some enemy. He
wanted to destroy our stores."

"But I---I really don't think it was Ham," said Shep slowly. "It
was---well, it didn't seem like anybody of that crowd. I didn't
get much of a look, but it wasn't like Ham, or Carl, or Dick."

"A wild animal might do this, rooting around," said Snap. "Could
it have been a bear?"

"A bear!" ejaculated Giant. "Don't say a bear rooted around here
while we were asleep! Why, it's enough to give a fellow heart
failure thinking about it!"

"Wonder what time it is?" said the doctor's son, and felt for his
watch. "Why, I declare, my watch is gone!" he exclaimed in

Just then Snap saw something on the ground and picked it up. It was
a shred of a red bandanna handkerchief.

"Boys, do you know what I think?" he said excitedly. "I think our
visitor was that wild hermit who lived in the lonely cabin in the

"You mean the one Whopper and I met?" asked Shep.




The doctor's son and Giant listened with interest to what their chum
had to say.

"What makes you think it was the hermit?" asked Shep.

"Because of this bit of red handkerchief. Whopper said he saw such
a bandanna around the wild man's neck or head."

"Gracious! so we did!" cried the doctor's son. "I had forgotten
about it. But do you think that wild creature took my watch?" he
added anxiously.

"Yes, unless you lost it on the way here."

"I didn't lose it before I went to sleep, for I wound it up, same
as I do every night before retiring."

"Let us take a look around for it," suggested Giant.

A keen search was made, but nothing that looked like a watch could
be located anywhere. Then, as they were a bit cold, the boys
renewed the fire, thus adding to the light.

"If that wild man, or whatever he is, took my watch I want it back,"
declared the doctor's son.

"Do you think he'd take it to that cabin in the woods with him?"
questioned Giant.

"More than likely."

"That must be a good way from here."

"It is. But you would want the watch if it was yours."

"Of course."

The boys talked the matter over for a quarter of an hour and then
laid down to sleep once more, leaving the camp fire burning brightly.
But the doctor's son could not slumber soundly, for his thoughts
were on his missing timepiece, which had been a present and a
valuable one.

They were up at sunrise, and then another consultation was had.

"I'd like to look for the watch," said Snap. "But if we don't
get back to camp Whopper and Tommy will worry about us---and there
is no telling what the Spink crowd will do in our absence."

"I suppose if that hermit has it the watch will be safe for a day
or two," answered the doctor's son thoughtfully. "We might go
back to the camp first and then make a trip to the cabin in the

So it was decided, and after a hasty breakfast they set off in the
direction of the Windy Mountains. They took the same trail as
before, and on the walk kept their eyes open for game. They
managed to bring down two grouse and a squirrel, but that was
all. They reached camp an hour after sundown, much to the
satisfaction of Whopper and Tommy, who came to meet them.

"Gosh! but I am tired!" said Snap as he threw his burden on the
ground. "I feel as if I wanted to rest for a week!"

"A good night's sleep will make you change your mind," answered
the doctor's son.

Supper was ready for them, and they sat down gladly and partook
of the things provided. During the day, to pass the time, Whopper
and Tommy had baked a big pan of beans and another of biscuits,
and both were good. They had also tried their hand at baking
some cake, but this was a little burned. Yet the boys ate it and
declared it was all right. At home it might have been different,
but when one is out in the woods, and doing one's own cooking---well,
there is no use in finding fault, that's all.

Whopper and Tommy listened with interest to what the others had to
tell about the Spink crowd and about the midnight visitor. They
laughed heartily over what had been done to the rowboat, and were
serious over the loss of Shep's watch.

"I'd be afraid to meet that wild man," said Tommy. "Why, there is
no telling what he would do if he was cornered."

"That is true," answered Shep. "Of course we can take our guns,
but I'd hate to shoot anybody, even if it seemed necessary."

"Maybe he'll give in if we point our guns at him," suggested Whopper.
"But I hardly think so. He may be as crazy as they make 'em and
afraid of nothing."

"Well, I'll think it over," answered the doctor's son thoughtfully.
He did not wish to expose his chums to danger, nor did he wish to
get into trouble himself. Yet he felt the loss of the timepiece

The young hunters looked for a visit from the Spink crowd the next
day, but it did not come. Instead, it rained, and they had to keep
in the tent most of the time. But it cleared during the night, and
the days to follow were ideal.

Sunday passed, and on Monday Shep, Snap and Whopper went out on
a hunt, leaving Giant and Tommy in charge of the camp. Giant
declared he was going to take and develop some photographs, using
a daylight tank instead of a dark room for the latter process.
It had been decided that some of the party should visit the lonely
cabin in the woods later in the week.

The boys had seen some traces of wild beasts up the mountain side,
and thither they directed their steps, keeping their eyes and ears
on the alert as they proceeded. They had scarcely covered a quarter
of a mile when they came upon the mutilated remains of a mink.

"Hello! what do you make of this?" cried Snap as he pointed it out.

"A mink, and some other wild beast killed it," said Whopper.

"Do you suppose it was a bear?" asked Snap.

"No; most likely a wildcat, or a big fox or wolf."

"Let's go after 'em!"

"They are no good for game---and that is what we are after."

"We might get some good photographs."

"That's so---I never thought of that!"

Filled with the idea of taking some pictures that might prove of
value, the boys hurried on through the woods and up the side of the
mountain. Shep cautioned the others to move as silently as possible,
so hardly a word was said.

It was almost noon when they came to a flat spot, where there was
something of a clearing. Here there was a spring and a pool, and a
fallen tree lay across both.

"Wait!" whispered the doctor's son. "I think I see something!"

The others halted, and Shep advanced with increased caution, bringing
his camera to the front as he did so.

The next instant he saw a sight that filled him with interest and
pleasure. On the fallen tree spanning the pool rested two wildcats,
mates, facing each other. Both had their eyes closed and were
evidently asleep.

He motioned for the others to come up, and in a few seconds all
were ready to take pictures. The background was perfect, and
they felt this would be one of the finest subjects yet obtained.

Hardly daring to breathe, one after another of the boys clicked
the shutter of his camera and the negatives were taken. Then
they swung their cameras back and brought forward their shotguns.

As they did this one of the wildcats suddenly opened its eyes
and looked around. On the instant it let out a cry of rage and
its back commenced to bristle. Then the other wildcat leaped
from the tree to the ground and crouched as if for a spring.

"Fire!" came the command from the doctor's son, but this was not
necessary, for both Snap and Whopper blazed away as quickly as
they could. The wildcat on the tree was hit and fell over into
the pool with a loud splash. The other wildcat made a leap for
Snap and hit him in the shoulder.

"Shoot him! shoot him!" yelled Snap in terror, and did what he
could to keep the beast from reaching his breast and throat.

"Can't shoot---might hit you!" answered the doctor's son, but
then he came up on the side and blazed away at close quarters,
hitting the wildcat in the left hind leg. This caused the animal
to drop to the ground, where it twisted and turned so quickly
that the eyes of the young hunters could scarcely follow it.

The other wildcat had by this time climbed out of the pool. It
gave itself a vigorous shake and turned as if to limp away. But
then it espied its mate and stopped, as if calculating on what
to do next.

"Shoot 'em!" sang out Whopper, and discharged his gun a second
time. He hit the second wildcat in the back, but the wounds were
not serious and the beast still thrashed around, snapping and
snarling in a fashion that would have frightened any hunter.

The shot from the gun awakened the fury of the first wildcat, and
crouching low it came toward Whopper step by step, its two eyes
glowing like tiny electric lights. Whopper tried to run, but he
was fascinated by the sight and too much overcome to move a step.

"Look out, Whopper!" screamed Snap, and then he raised his own gun
to take another shot. But the hammer merely clicked. He tried it
again, in increased haste, and as a consequence shot wild, the
charge going over the wildcat's head.

Then the wildcat made a leap, striking Whopper and hurling him
over backward. As he went down the second wildcat lurched itself
forward, and in a twinkling both were on the young hunter, snapping
and snarling as though about to eat him up!



It was a moment of dire peril and no one realized it more than did
the young hunter who had been attacked by the two wild beasts of
the forest. Like a flash he rolled over and doubled up to prevent
the wildcats from reaching his head and neck.

This quick movement sent the animals to the ground, and as they
landed Snap jumped forward and struck one of the wildcats with
the stock of his gun. It was a telling blow, for by luck more
than judgment it crushed the beast's skull.

The attack on its mate caused the other wildcat to pause. Then,
filled with a sudden fear, and failing to get at Whopper's throat,
it commenced to retreat.

"It's running away!" shouted Snap. "Kill it, Shep!"

The doctor's son had been dancing around, trying to get in a shot
without injuring Whopper.

Now he leveled his shotgun and banged away. It was a close-range
hit, and the head of the wildcat was almost blown from the body.

It was several seconds before the three boy hunters realized that
the battle was at an end. Slowly Whopper turned over and looked at
the two dead animals. He rose to his feet, panting heavily.

"Are they bo---both dead?" he asked.

"As dead as nails," answered Snap.

"I thought I was---was going to be---be chewed up!"

"It was a narrow escape."

"Say, after this, do you know what I think? I think we had better
kill the beasts first and take the pictures afterward!"

"Then we'll not have such good photos," returned the doctor's son.

"Yes; but what good are photos to a fellow if he gets killed?"
questioned Whopper ruefully.

"We'll have to be more careful, that's all," said Snap.

"What shall we do with the wildcats?"

"Leave them here, for all I care," answered the doctor's son.
"The skins are not much good at this time of year and after such

The three boys rested for a while, and then took a picture of the
dead wildcats with themselves in the background. So that all might
get in the pictures they set their cameras on rocks and worked them
by means of threads of black linen.

"I am afraid our shots have scared away all the game in this vicinity,"
remarked the doctor's son as they, trudged forward once more. And
so it seemed, for nothing came into view for the next hour. Then
Snap sighted some rabbits, but before he could get a shot the game
was out of sight.

At noon they rested in a glade that commanded a fine view of the
surrounding country and each of the boys took several time pictures
with small lens openings, so as to get sharp outlines.

It was well on toward the middle of the afternoon when they came
upon the trail of a deer. It looked to be quite fresh, and this
filled them with the hope of catching up to the game.

"We want to be mighty quiet," cautioned Snap, who was in the lead.
"The wind is uncertain and may carry the slightest sound to the deer."

"It will carry our scent, too," answered Whopper.

"That we can't help and will have to chance."

They followed the trail for fully half a mile, through something of
a hollow between the mountains. Here they came on quite a pond,
much to their surprise. The pond was filled with lilies and other
flowers, and on one side was a series of rocks leading to quite
a cliff.

"What a beautiful spot for a cabin!" cried Shep, forgetting all
about the deer, for a moment.

"Why not take some pictures?" suggested Snap. "We may not come
this way again."

The doctor's son was willing, and they took several views, one of
Whopper with his hand full of water lilies.

The trail of the deer led around the rocky elevation, and the three
young hunters were moving through some low brushwood when of a
sudden they heard a noise ahead of them.

"What's that?" asked Whopper.

"Bless me if I know," whispered the doctor's son. "Get your guns

"Here comes a deer!" shouted Snap, and an instant later a magnificent
buck burst into view, rushing around the other end of the cliff.
It appeared and disappeared so quickly that to get a shot was all
but impossible.

"Well, of all the chumps!" cried Snap in disgust. "Why didn't
somebody let drive?"

"Why didn't you?" asked Shep.

"I couldn't---the rocks were in the way."

"Well, the rocks were in my way, too."

"How can a fellow shoot at a streak of greased lightning?" asked
Whopper. "That buck was making a hundred miles a minute!"

"Well, that's the end of that game," muttered Snap, much crestfallen.
"Boys, it looks as if we were going to be skunked to-day."

"Oh, we've got a couple of hours yet," said the doctor's son. "But
I guess we had better turn back toward camp. We don't want to miss
our way in the dark."

"Let us go on a little," said Whopper. "I imagine that buck got
scared at something, and I'd like to know what it was."

"Maybe a bear," said Snap. "And if it is, you can be sure Mr.
Bruin will walk right away from us while we are thinking about
a shot," he added bitterly. He was disgusted to think they had
allowed both the rabbits and the deer to get away from them.

All of the boys were curious to know if anything had really frightened
the buck, and they went forward, but this time more cautiously
than ever. Passing the cliff, they came to a hillside, overgrown
with cedars and brushwood, with many loose stones between. Here
they had to progress even more slowly, for walking was treacherous
and none of them had a desire to twist an ankle or break a leg.

"I don't see a thing," said the doctor's son presently. "It's
a mighty lonely place, isn't it?"

"I fancied I saw something move, just beyond yonder clump of cedars,"
said Whopper, pointing with his hand.

"Whopper is seeing things," said Snap, laughing. "I guess the
wildcats and the deer got on his nerves."

"Well, don't believe me if you don't want to," answered Whopper
rather testily.

"We'll see if there is anything in it, anyway," answered the doctor's
son. "But I am not going any farther than those cedars. I am
getting tired---and it is high time we turned back, unless we want
to remain away from camp all night."

"No, I want to get back, too," answered Snap. "Sleeping out of
doors is all well enough once in a while, but I prefer to be under
some kind of a roof, even if it's only canvas."

The three boys moved forward once again, each with his gun ready
for use, should anything worth shooting appear. They came up
to the cedars and were then able to look beyond, where the mountain
side was full of rocks, with numerous holes between.

"Oh!" yelled Snap at the top of his lungs. "Look!"

All gazed in the direction indicated, and for once they were fairly
rooted to the spot. Before them, on a flat rock, stood a large and
magnificent lion, gazing boldly at them.



For fully ten seconds the lion did not move, and during that time
the young hunters stood spellbound. Then the foreign monarch of
the forest turned and like a flash disappeared into a hole on the
mountain side.

"Did---did---was it really a lion?" gasped Whopper when he could

"It certainly was---and a big one, too," answered the doctor's

"But here?" began Snap. "We don't have lions in America."

"It must be the one that got away from the circus!" cried Shep.

"To be sure! Why didn't I think of that?" came from Whopper. "Sure
as you're a foot high that is the circus lion. But how did he get
away out here?"

"That's easy to explain," answered the doctor's son. "He left town
and took to the woods, and his quest for food brought him here."

"And it was the lion that scared the buck," said Snap.

"More than likely. And he scared us, too. Why didn't you shoot
at him?"

"Why didn't you?"

"I guess we were all about paralyzed; I know I was," declared Whopper.
"I didn't come out to hunt lions! Ugh! Maybe we had better get
away from here. You can't kill a lion with a shotgun---you need
a rifle, and a heavy one at that."

"Three heavy charges of buckshot would discourage any lion, I think,"
answered Shep. "At the same time, we don't want to run the risk of
being torn to pieces by such a beast."

"Boys, I've got an idea!" cried Snap suddenly. "Maybe it won't work
out, but we might try it."

"To kill the lion?"

"No, to capture him alive, and turn him over to the circus folks for
that reward."

"What is the idea?"

"Let us dig a big pit here among the rocks and bait it with the two
dead wildcats. We can drag the wildcats on the ground around here
and to the pit, and maybe the lion will follow the trail up and fall
into the pit."

"He'll be very obliging if he does that," said Whopper with a laugh.
"I guess lions are as cautious as any wild beasts."

"He'll follow the trail if he gets hungry enough," said the doctor's
son. "I think the idea is a good one, and I vote we follow it out
at once.

"But to dig a pit will be lots of work," said Whopper. "Can't we
find some ready-made hole that will do?"

Retreating still farther, and keeping their eyes and ears wide open
for the possible reappearance of the monarch of the forest, the
three young hunters at length found a hole that suited them. The
bottom was filled with loose stones and decayed leaves, but these
they soon cleaned out. Then, while Whopper went off for the dead
wildcats, Snap and Shep made the hole still deeper. They removed
the stones until they came to something of a small cave, and had
to take care, for fear of tumbling in.

"I think that will hold the lion, if he deigns to come this way,"
said the doctor's son.

Over the top of the opening they placed some light brushwood,
that would easily sink with the weight of any big beast, and in
the center placed one of the dead wildcats. The other they dragged
in a circle around the hole, and then let it fall to the bottom.

"That will give the beast something to eat, in case he is captured,"
said the doctor's son. "We don't want him to starve on our hands."

"I've got another idea," said Snap. "Why not fix one of the cameras
so it will go off and take a picture, in case the lion touches a
certain string? Mr. Jally told me how it could be done."

"A good idea!" cried Shep. "We'll do it right away. Only we don't
want any flashlight, for that would scare the lion away."

"No; we'll have to run the risk of having the camera worked in the

It was dark by the time their task was accomplished. They knew that
they could not get back to camp, yet none of them had any desire to
remain in the vicinity of the lion.

"He might take it into his head to eat us up instead of the wildcats,"
said Whopper earnestly.

"Right you are," responded Shep. "We'll get as far away as we can."

They tramped for at least two miles, and during that time passed a
mountain brook that was strange to them. They tried to get some fish,
but were unsuccessful.

"We are skunked, and no mistake," said Snap dolefully. "Not even
one fish or a rabbit for supper!"

"I am going to beat around the trees for something," said the doctor's
son. "Shoot at anything that flies."

He walked ahead, and the others kept their guns in readiness. But all
he stirred up were a few small birds not worth laying low.

"Lucky we saved a little of the grub," said Whopper. "If we hadn't
we'd go to bed supperless."

"I am going to roost in a tree to-night, to keep out of the reach
of that lion," said Snap.

All agreed that this would be a good thing to do, and after dividing
what remained of the food brought along, and getting a drink at a
spring, they selected a tree that suited their purpose and mounted
to the thickest of the limbs.

"Not a very comfortable bed," was Shep's comment. "But better than
falling into that lion's clutches."

"Shall we go back to the pit in the morning?" asked Whopper.

"No; let us go to camp first, and see how Giant and Tommy are
making out," said the doctor's son. "Most likely they'll be worrying
about us."

To keep from falling, the three young hunters tied themselves fast
in the tree. They tried to sleep, but this was almost impossible,
and the most each got were fitful naps, with many dreams of the lion.
All thoughts of other game were, for the time being, banished from
their minds.

At daybreak they descended to the ground and started for camp
without waiting to shoot something for breakfast. They calculated
they could get back before noon, and then they would eat a big
dinner at their leisure.

All thought they had the "lay of the land" well fixed in their
minds, and so they did not advance with the caution they might
otherwise have taken. As a consequence, they presently made a
false turn, and this brought them to a part of the mountains that
was exceedingly rocky and rough.

"Say, we can't get through here," declared Whopper at last. "Why,
it's worse than the Rocky Road to Dublin!"

"I believe we are off the right trail," returned Snap. "It seems
to me our camp must be in that direction," and he pointed to their

"Perhaps you are right," said the doctor's son. "Anyway, we can't
get through here. We'll ruin our shoes and run the risk of breaking
our necks."

"Let us walk to the left," said Snap, and they turned back a short
distance. As they did this, they started up a number of rabbits
and, eager for some game, each blazed away, and as a consequence two
of the creatures were brought low.

"Not much, but something," said the doctor's son.

They pressed on, soon coming to some rocks that were quite smooth.

"Be careful here," cautioned Snap. "A tumble would be a nasty thing.
There is a cliff just below us."

He and the doctor's son went ahead and Whopper followed. The rocks
were even more slippery than they had anticipated. The doctor's
son was about to advise going back and walking around the cliff,
when Whopper called out:

"A deer! I see a deer!"

"Where?" asked the others in a breath.

"Over yonder! I am going to give him a shot!"

In great excitement Whopper stood upright on the smooth rocks, raised
his shotgun and pulled the trigger. But the deer was not hit, and
a moment later disappeared from view.

The report of the shotgun was followed by a yell from Whopper. The
weapon, had kicked back and sent him sprawling. Now he was rolling
over and over on the smooth rocks, directly toward the dangerous
cliff below him.



"Stop Whopper, or he'll go over the cliff!"

It was the doctor's son who uttered the words. He was high up on
the rocks and could do nothing to save his chum.

Snap heard and understood, for he saw Whopper rolling rapidly
toward the cliff. If the youth went over, a sheer drop of twenty
or thirty feet awaited him---with more rocks below.

In this moment of peril, for Snap to think was to Whopper was very
dear to him, and he resolved to do all he could to save his chum,
even at the risk of his own life.

He let his gun drop and ran over the rocks to where Whopper was
rolling over and over. Then he caught him by the foot and threw
himself flat, clutching tenaciously at a single stone that arose
sharply above those around it. Snap's grip was good, and for the
moment Whopper's progress was stayed.

"Don't move!" called out Snap as soon as he could catch his breath.
"Press down on the rocks for all you are worth!"

Whopper understood and pressed down, and thus both boys lay quiet
for several seconds. Whopper was but three feet from the edge of
the cliff and Snap was just above him. The doctor's son was to the
right, in a spot that was a comparatively safe one.

"The---the gun kicked!" gasped Whopper when he could speak.

"Yes, I know," answered Snap. "But be careful, or you'll go over
the cliff yet!"

Whopper screwed his head around and gazed in the direction of the
yawning gulf below him, and his face changed color.

"Gosh! We'll have to get out of this," he murmured.

"Crawl toward Shep; but take it slowly and be careful," directed
Snap. "Shall I help you?"

"No, I can do it alone," was the answer.

Both boys crawled like snails over the smooth rocks until they
gained the spot where the doctor's son rested. Whopper drew a
long breath of relief.

"I'm glad I didn't take that tumble," he whispered hoarsely. He
could hardly speak, and his limbs trembled slightly.

"It was a good thing Snap stopped you," said Shep.

"That's what---and I am mighty thankful, Snap," replied Whopper

"Well, we'll have to go back, that is all there is to it," remarked
the doctor's son after a pause, during which they looked across
the rocks in perplexity. "I thought sure we could go this way,
but it seems as if we can't."

To climb down the rocks was as great a task as it had been to climb
up, and by the time they reached the bottom all were thoroughly
hungry. It now lacked but an hour and a half of noon.

"We'll never get to camp by dinner-time," declared Snap. "And I'm
not going to do without breakfast and dinner, too. I move we light
a fire and cook those rabbits. I've got a little coffee left,
enough for three weak cups, I guess."

The others agreed, and reaching a comfortable spot, they cut a
little wood and made a fire. Then they sat down to rest while the
skinned and cleaned rabbits were broiling. Snap made the coffee
and, though rather weak and without milk and sugar, they drank it
eagerly. They had a little salt for the rabbits, but that was all.
But hunger and fresh air are great appetizers.

The scant meal at an end, they resumed their journey, the doctor's
son taking the lead. They moved in a semicircle around the base
of one small mountain and then reached a rather broad mountain

"Hello, here's a surprise!" cried Snap. "I had no idea such a big
brook flowed through these parts."

"Nor I," added Shep. "Looks as if there might be good fishing here."

The boys noted the location of the brook, so that they might visit
it another day, and then pushed on as before. They reached a slight
rise and all concluded that their camp was directly to the west.

"In that case all we'll have to do is to follow the sun," declared

"Right you are," responded the doctor's son.

"How far do you calculate it is?"

"Not more than two miles."

"It may be a little more," said Snap. "But not much."

They plunged into the woods once more, and had hardly proceeded a
hundred yards when they heard some partridges drumming. It was a
chance for another shot, and they hurried forward with guns ready
for use.

"I see them!" cried Snap, and blazed away, and the others followed
suit. They were unusually lucky, for five of the birds fell, either
dead or fatally wounded. Soon they had the game in their bags.

"There! that is something like!" cried Snap. "They'll make fine
eating." And he smacked his lips. He loved partridge meat very

They seemed to be getting deeper and deeper into the woods. The
trees around them were so dense that it was almost impossible to see
the direction of the sun. Several times they came to a halt to
look around.

"What do you make of it?" asked Snap.

"I don't like it," answered the doctor's son emphatically. "First
thing we know we'll be lost."

"Just what I was thinking."

"We were to follow the sun," came from Whopper.

"Can you see it?"

"Once in a while, and not very clearly at that."

"Tell you what we might do," suggested Shep. "Climb a big tree and
take a look around."

This was considered a wise suggestion, and they started to carry it
out. A tree was selected, and the others gave Snap a boost to the
lower branches. Then up went the youth to the top, slowly but surely.

"Well, what do you see?" demanded the doctor's son, after having
given his chum a chance to look around.


"Nothing?" echoed Whopper blankly.

"Nothing but woods and mountains, and a brook or two. I don't see a
thing that looks like a camp anywhere."

"Oh, it must be ahead of us," insisted the doctor's son.

"All right---you come up and locate it," grumbled Snap.

Shep came up and so did Whopper, and all three of the lads gazed
longingly, first in one direction and then in another. Nothing but
what Snap had mentioned greeted their eyes.

"Boys, we are lost!" cried Whopper.

"Oh, no, we're not lost---we are here," answered Snap. "The camp
is lost."

"It's the same thing---so far as we are concerned."

"I think that is Firefly Lake," said Shep, pointing to a hazy spot
in the distance. "And if it is, then our camp may lay around on
the upper side of this mountain."

"That may be true."

"Shall we try to walk it?"

"Might as well, Shep. We don't want to stay here all night."

"And we don't want to walk two or three miles out of our way," put
in Whopper. "I'm getting mighty tired---not having had a good rest
last night."

"We are having one adventure on top of the other," said the doctor's
son with a grim smile. "Well, is it go forward or stay here?"

Nobody wanted to stand still, and so they descended to the ground
and moved off in the new direction settled upon. All were fagged
out, so progress was slow. They encountered some squirrels and
Snap brought down two and stowed them away with his partridge.

"There's a cat!" cried Shep suddenly, and ran forward. Then of
a sudden he stopped and smiled, while Whopper and Snap roared.

"Better give that cat a wide berth," suggested Snap, "unless you
want to put a whole perfumery shop to shame." And they did give
the animal a wide berth, for it was a skunk, and one "ready for
business," as Snap afterward expressed it.

By nightfall they were still deep in the woods. All were now
exhausted, and coming to a fallen tree Snap dropped to rest and
so did his chums.

"Boys, we have missed it," said the doctor's son seriously. "I
must confess I haven't the least idea where our camp is!"

"And that means we'll have to stay out in these woods all night,"
returned Whopper.

"More than likely."



The prospect was not a pleasant one for the three boy hunters. It
was not that they were afraid over the fact that they were lost in
the woods on the mountain side. But they knew that Giant and Tommy
would be greatly worried over their absence, and it was possible,
yes, probable, that the two lads might have trouble with Ham Spink
and his cronies.

"Ham will be as mad as a hornet if he had much trouble finding
his boat," said Snap, in talking the situation over. "And the
first thing he'll think of will be to get square."

"Well, if we can't get back we can't get back, and that is all
there is to it," answered the doctor's son philosophically. "We've
got to make the best of it."

"And then that lion-----" added Whopper. But to this the others
merely shrugged their shoulders.

They found a spot that seemed as good as any, and collecting some
dry sticks built a camp fire and made themselves a supper. They
were footsore and weary and glad to rest. Inside of an hour after
eating all of the lads fell asleep, and each slept soundly until

Snap was the first to awaken, and, letting the others rest, he
replenished the camp fire and got breakfast ready. There was a
sameness about their food that was not very appetizing, but this
could not be helped.

"When I get back I'm going to live a whole day on pancakes and beans
and bacon," said Whopper. "No more rabbits for me, or partridge,

"That's the one drawback to camping out," returned the doctor's son.
"One does get awfully tired of eating game."

It was again a question of how to proceed, and once more they
mounted a tree to take observations. They now saw two columns
of smoke arising on the air, not a great distance off.

"Our camp fire and that of the Spink crowd!" exclaimed Snap. "I'll
wager a button on it."

"I believe you are right," answered Shep. "We'll make for the
nearest of 'em, anyway."

They set off at a brisk pace, taking as direct a route as the nature
of the ground permitted. On the way they came to a large patch of
huckleberry bushes and found the berries ripe and luscious.

"Let's pick some," said Whopper. "Then we can make huckleberry
dumplings, or something like that."

"What about huckleberry pie?" suggested Snap.


They stopped long enough to pick several quarts of the berries,
stowing the fruit away in one of the cleaned-out game bags. Then
on they went as before.

Soon they broke through the woods into a clearing, and on the
opposite side of this saw a camp, with several boys lolling around
a camp fire. They were members of the Spink crowd and included
Dick Bush and Carl Dudder.

"Say, where did you come from?" demanded Carl Dudder as he espied
them and leaped to his feet.

"From the woods," answered Shep calmly.

"What do you want?"

"Nothing, Dudder, excepting to pass."

"Huh! You needn't look so innocent-like, Shep Reed! We know what
you did to our boat," put in Dick Bush.

"What did we do to it?" asked Whopper.

"You know well enough. Think you're smart, don't you?" growled Carl.

"We know what you were going to do to our boat," put in Snap.


"You heard what I said. We only got ahead of you, that's all."

"We'll fix you for it, don't you worry," said Carl with a cunning

"Take care that you don't get into trouble," was Shep's answer.
Then he walked around the camp fire and his chums followed.

"Where are you going?" asked one of the other members of the Spink

"That is our business."

At this answer the other lads merely scowled. There was an awkward
pause, and then Shep and his chums moved on and plunged into the
woods beyond the camp fire.

"They are a real sociable bunch," was Whopper's sarcastic comment.
"How I would love to stay with them!"

"I'll wager they fight like cats and dogs," put in the doctor's
son. "I don't believe they have one real pleasant day." And
he was right; the Spink crowd were usually wrangling from morn
to night and already one of the number had left and started for
home in disgust.

The boy hunters had the best part of half a mile farther to go,
but this they soon covered and then came to an opening that looked
familiar to them. Close at hand was their own camp. As they
approached they heard loud talking.

"You clear out, Ham Spink, and leave us alone," came in the voice
of Giant. "We don't want you around here. And we don't want
you, either, Ike Akley."

"We'll leave when we please," was the answer from Ham Spink.

"We aren't going to hurt you," said the boy named Ike Akley, another
of the Spink contingent.

"We don't want you around."

"Got anything good to eat?" demanded Ham coolly.

"Not for you."

"We'll not go until you give us something good."

"That's the talk!" cried Akley.

Let's take a look around and see if we can find any cookies!"
said Ham.

"You leave our things alone," said Giant firmly.

"Bah! You fellows didn't leave our boat alone, so why should we leave
your things alone?" growled Ham.

"I won't have you looking through our things," cried Giant.

He stepped up in front of Ham, who was much taller and heavier.
At the same time Tommy ran to a distance and picked up two good-sized

"You touch him or the things and I'll throw these!" cried the boy
from the circus. "And I'll set my dog on you, too!"

"You little rat, you!" roared Ham. "Don't you dare to interfere
with me."

"I'll take care of the kid!" cried Ike Akley, and strode toward
Tommy. But in a twinkling the boy from the circus had leaped
into a tree and was safe among the branches. The stones he had
put in his pockets, but now he brought them forth again.

"Just remember what I said!" he exclaimed. "I'm a good shot, too!"

"We'll get the best of 'em, and take what we please!" cried Ham

"Will you?" called out Shep, advancing into the opening, with his
gun in his hands. "I rather guess not."

Ham looked around, and so did Ike Akley. When both saw the doctor's
son, Snap and Whopper, and all with their guns in their hands, they
fell back and grew a trifle pale.

"Thought you were going to rob us, eh?" said Shep sternly.

"N---no," stammered Ham. "We---er---we were only going to take
a---er---cookie or two, if you had 'em."

"Well, you'll not take a thing, so clear out!"

"You---you took our boat," said Ham.

"And you were going to take ours, only you didn't find it," said Snap
with a grin.

"You hadn't any right to touch our boat."

"See here, Ham, don't talk like a child. After all you did to harm
us in the past we've got a right to do almost anything to you, and
you know it," said the doctor's son. "Now you clear out and leave
us alone."

"You've been following us," put in Ike Akley.

"Not at all."

"Then why did you come away out here to camp?"

"Because we chose to come. Now, clear out---and stay away!"

A wordy war lasting several minutes followed. It was plainly to be
seen that the shifting of the boat had filled Ham Spink with rage,
and he was unusually anxious to "square up" with the four boy
hunters. But he could do nothing, and at last he and his crony

"I am glad you arrived," said Giant. "If you hadn't I am afraid
those fellows would have gotten the best of us."

"I would have shied rocks at them," said Tommy, who had come down
from the tree. "They may be bigger than I am, but I guess I could
outrun 'em," and at this remark the others had to smile.

"More than likely they'll come back some time," said Snap. "And
they'll bring the others with them. We'll have to remain on guard.
But, Tommy, I've got great news."

"What is that?"

"We've spotted a lion---the one that got away from the circus."

"A lion!" ejaculated Giant.

"Yes; and we are hoping to trap the beast and get the reward offered
for its return," said Whopper.



Giant and Tommy listened with interest to what the others had to
tell about the wildcats, the deer and the lion, and also about the
stop at the Spink camp. The story about the lion interested Tommy

"Casso will be glad to get that lion back," he said. "And if you
capture him alive he ought to be willing to pay well for it."

Giant and Tommy had had a rather quiet time in camp. They had
hunted and fished a little, and Giant had taken some photos and
developed some films and plates and printed a few pictures. The
photographs had turned out well, and the young hunters were
correspondingly proud of them.

"I think my father will be much pleased," said the doctor's son. "I
am sure they are right in line with what he wanted. But we must get
a good many more."

"How about your watch, Shep?" asked Whopper.

"I declare, I forgot about it---thinking of that lion," answered
the doctor's son. "We'll have to go to that lonely cabin and
see if I can't get it back from that crazy hermit---if he is around."

A day's rest seemed to make Snap and Shep feel as lively as ever,
but Whopper declared that he was still tired out, and, besides,
he had scraped an ankle on the rocks and this was quite sore. He
said that he was willing to take it quiet for at least a day or
two more.

"We'll have to see about that lion, and about that hermit," declared
Shep. "Supposing we leave you and Tommy in camp this time, and take
Giant along?"

"All right," said Whopper.

"Do you think you can manage---if the Spink tribe come to bother
you?" asked Snap.

"I think so---unless they come at night."

"You'll have to risk that."

"Wags will watch out at night," said Tommy. "He's better as a watch
dog at night than he is in the daytime."

It was decided that the boys should try first to find out if the
lion had been trapped. Then they were to journey to the lonely
cabin in the woods. Not knowing how long they would be away. They
took with them a fair stock of provisions and also a good supply
of matches. They also took new films and plates for their cameras.
Fortunately, in spite of the rather rough experiences of the boys,
none of the picture-taking machines had been damaged, beyond having
the leather covers scratched, and this did not matter.

"They don't look so well," said Shep. "But they'll do the work,
and that's what we want."

The doctor's son, with Snap and Giant, started early on the following
morning. Giant was glad to get away from the camp once more, and
whistled a merry tune as they hurried along. They cut around the
Spink camp, not wishing to meet their enemies.

"No use of letting them know we are gone," said Snap. "If they
did, they'd be sure to go and bother Whopper and Tommy at once---and
two couldn't do much against that whole crowd."

Snap and Shep had fixed the direction well in their mind and studied
the position of the sun, so that they might not go astray. Having
left the Spink camp behind them, the three boys struck out in a bee
line for the spot where they had left the pit with the dead wildcats
as bait. They made good progress, and stopped less than half an
hour for lunch at midday.

"We ought to reach there before nightfall," said the doctor's son.
"That is, unless we get turned around again."

"I think we are going straight," answered Snap. "But it may be
farther than you think."

While tramping along they scared up several rabbits, and Giant
brought down one of these. But game appeared to be scarce and
nothing else came to view.

It was just five o'clock when they reached a clearing that looked
familiar to Snap and Shep.

"That pit is just beyond here," said the doctor's son. "We'd better
go slow---in case that lion hasn't been caught and is at large."

The others took the advice and advanced with caution. A fringe
of brushwood hid the pit from view. On the other side of the
clearing was a dense forest of pines and hemlocks.

"Well, I never!"

It was the doctor's son who uttered the exclamation. He was slightly
in advance and had peered over the bushes.

"What is it?" asked Snap in a low tone.

"Look, but don't make any noise."

Snap and Whopper pressed forward and looked. What they saw thrilled
them greatly.

On the edge of the pit was a fair-sized black bear. He was sniffing
at the carcass of the wildcat that rested on the tree branches laid
over the mouth of the opening.

"A chance for a fine shot!" whispered Giant a bit nervously.

"Wait---we'll get a picture first!" said the doctor's son. "But
keep quiet!"

The others understood, and, hardly daring to breathe, the three lads
swung their cameras into position, got them ready for use, and
spread out among the bushes to take some snapshots.

The bear was a cautious animal and slowly he circled the pit,
sniffing longingly at the carcass so close at hand. Evidently he
desired a meat diet for a change and wanted to get the wildcat very
much, but did not quite trust the tree branches and what might
be underneath.

Each of the lads got what he thought was a good picture, and then
Snap and Giant looked at Shep and touched their guns. But the
doctor's son did not see them, for he was looking wildly at something
between the trees on the other side of the clearing.

"What do you see?" whispered Snap.

"Hush!" answered the doctor's son. "Look for yourself."

Snap and Giant gazed in the direction pointed out, and it must be
confessed that the hair of the smaller youth literally rose on end.
There, between two trees, crouched the lion that had escaped from
the circus. The eyes of the monarch of the forest were fastened
on the bear, and his tail was swaying from side to side, showing
that he was getting ready for a leap.

"Shall we---we shoot?" asked Snap. He was so agitated he could
hardly speak.

"Why not take a picture?" asked Shep, who had his camera still in
his hand.

"All right---but we don't want that lion to---to come this way."

"Not much!" put in Giant, and it must be confessed that his voice
trembled a good deal. To face a deer or even a bear was one thing;
to face a powerful lion was quite another.

Slowly the lion came out from between the two trees. The bear now
had his head turned the other way, so he was not aware of the
approach of the enemy.

It made a magnificent picture, and for the moment the boys forgot
their own peril and each took two snapshots, one with the lion
almost on top of the bear.

Scarcely had they clicked the shutters of the cameras the second
time when a blood-curdling roar rent the air, and the lion made one
grand leap for the bear. But as this happened bruin chanced to
turn slightly, and with a movement wonderful in such a bulky
animal the bear sprang to one side. The lion missed his would-be
prey and slid forward, directly into the mass of tree limbs covering
the pit.

"He's going into the hole!" cried Snap. "Look!"

All gazed on the scene and saw that Snap was right. Unable to
stop himself, the lion had crashed down between the tree limbs
and was now struggling vainly to reach firm ground once more.
The bear backed away and then, turning, sped off among the trees,
not over a dozen yards from where the young hunters were in hiding.

"The bear---he's coming this way!" yelled Snap.

"Shoot him!" screamed Giant. And he brought around his gun.

All tried to get a shot, but the trees were too thick, and in
a few seconds the bear was out of sight, crashing down the brushwood
as he went.

He was badly frightened, and with good cause, for a lion was a new
enemy for him.

As the bear disappeared the boy hunters turned their attention again
to the lion. The monarch of the forest was doing his best to climb
over the tree limbs, which turned and bent between him.

"Shall we shoot him?" queried Snap. "If he gets loose."

"There he goes!" shouted Shep.

As the doctor's son spoke they heard a tree limb snap in twain. For
one instant the lion clung to the broken end, then, with a roar, the
beast sank out of sight into the pit.



"We've got him! We've got him!" shouted Snap, and his heart gave
a wild bound of pleasure.

"Don't be too sure," cautioned the doctor's son. "Wait---keep
your gun ready for use."

"That's it---he may get out of the pit," came from Giant. "Don't
take any risks. He could kill a fellow in a minute, if he got the

They waited, each with his gun ready. Down in the pit they heard
the lion growling and slashing around. Evidently he was doing his
best to get out of the hole.

"I'll bet he's mad," said Snap.

"One of the dead wildcats is with him," said Snap. "That will
give him something to eat."

"He'll not think of eating just now," answered the doctor's son.
"He knows he is in a bad fix."

They waited a minute longer and then the lion became quiet. At
last the three boy hunters ventured into the clearing and Shep,
with his gun raised, walked slowly to the edge of the pit.

Suddenly a fearful roar rent the air, echoing far and wide across
the mountains. The lion had discovered the doctor's son. His mane
bristled and he showed his cruel teeth to the full.

"Can he---do you think he can get out?" asked Snap.

"Hardly, or he'd be out already," answered Shep. "Let us pull
those branches away. They might give him some sort of a foothold."

All three of the boys came up and gazed down on the captured beast.
They hauled the tree branches away and threw the second dead
wildcat into the pit. Snap did this, and it seemed to cause the
lion some surprise. He shut his mouth, his eyes began to blink,
and presently he bent down and commenced to feed on one of the

"He knows he is a prisoner," cried Snap. "See, he's acting just as
if he was in the circus." For the monarch of the forest had laid
down, with the meat between his heavy fore paws.

"I've got an idea," said Shep, looking around. "There are a great
number of flat stones on the mountain side. Let us shove them
down here and pile up a sort of wall around the top of the pit.
That will surely keep the lion in."

This was considered a good suggestion, and all the lads set to work
without delay. Some of the stones were so large it took two to
lift them. They made an excellent wall, and inside of an hour
the boys had a barrier around the top of the pit three feet high.

"I don't think he'll get out in a hurry," said Shep. "But to make
sure we can cut some poles and lay them over the stones and pile
more stones on top."

"Humph! Why didn't you mention the poles first?" said Snap.

"I didn't think of it, Snap."

The saplings were cut and placed in a row over the top of the pit
and then some stones were put on top of these. Evidently the lion
did not like to have his light and air cut off, and he commenced
to roar again. But this the boys did not mind, for they now knew
they had him fast.

It goes without saying that all the boys were delighted over their

"We'll have to get word to the circus folks as quickly as possible,"
said Snap. "But where the show is now I don't know."

"Probably Tommy knows the route the circus was to take," answered
the doctor's son.

"He does, for he spoke to me about it," put Giant. "But I have
forgotten the towns and dates."

"Do you know what I'd like to do before going on to that lonely
cabin?" went on Snap.


"Go after that bear."

"Oh, he is probably miles away by this time," said the doctor's
son. "He was too scared to stay around here."

"Well, let us go after him, anyway. He went in the direction
of the cabin---that is, partly."

"Well, we'll see in the morning," said Shep.

The three boy hunters went into camp not very far away from the pit
holding the lion. Once or twice they went up to view their precious
prize, and noted that after eating one of the wildcats the lion
stretched out and went to sleep.

"Guess he thinks he's back in the menagerie," said Giant. "Well,
let him, if only he'll keep quiet until the circus people take him

It was such a warm night they did not bother with a camp fire,
but eating some of the food brought along, soon retired and went
sound asleep. Once Giant awoke with a start and imagined that the
lion was after him, but he soon went to sleep again.

I'm the morning they found the captured lion still resting quietly
on the bottom of the pit. He had not touched the second wildcat.

"He'll have plenty of food," said Snap. "But how about water?"

"I was thinking of that," answered the doctor's son. "We'll have
to bring some from a spring and lower it to him."

They took the kettle they had brought along and filled it at a spring
they had found and lowered this into the pit by means of a piece
of fishingline Grant carried. At first the lion roared in rage,
but when he saw the water he drank eagerly. They had to fill the
kettle three times before he was satisfied. Then they took more
water and poured it in a hollow on one side of the pit bottom.

"Now he won't go thirsty for a long time," said Shep.

They cooked themselves a good breakfast and a little later set off
across the hills in the direction of the end of Firefly Lake. It
was their purpose to get to the lake by noon if possible, and then
strike out along the rocky watercourse leading to Lake Cameron.

"We'll have to be careful how we tackle that hermit," said the
doctor's son. "He may be the craziest kind of a lunatic."

"I've got an idea," said Snap. "Wouldn't it be a good idea to
wait until night and then crawl up to the cabin while he is asleep?"

"It may be---if he didn't take us for robbers and act worse than

"Why not try him in the daytime first, and then, if you can't get
the watch, go back at night?" said Giant.

"He may prowl around at night," suggested Shep. "And, remember,
he may not have the watch at all---it's all guesswork."

It was an exceedingly warm day, and when it was near noon all three
of the young hunters were glad enough to lie down in the shade and
rest. Game appeared to be as scarce as the day before and all they
shot were some rabbits and one squirrel.

"We've got to do better than this before we go home," said Shep.

"If we only knew what had become of that bear!" sighed Snap.

"Yes, if we only did!" murmured Giant.

It was so pleasant in the shade that none of the boys could get up
ambition enough to go on until they had taken a nap. Then they
went up a hill slowly, carrying their coats over their shoulders.

"If it's hot here, what must it be in town?" said the doctor's son.

"About ninety in the shade!" cried Snap.

At the top of the hill they took another rest. Here there was a
little breeze, for which they were thankful.

"There is the lake!" cried Giant, pointing to a sheet of water below
them. "One good thing, it will be easier going downhill than it was
coming up."

"I vote we go in for a good swim when we reach the lake," said Snap.
"What do you say, Shep?"

"I'd rather get to that cabin, before it is too late. But I'll take
a ten-minutes' dip, if you wish."

So it was agreed, and the boys hurried through the woods to the lake
shore in a pleasant frame of mind.

"Listen!" cried Snap presently. "What's that---a dog?"

All listened and heard a loud barking, coming from the neighborhood
of the water.

"I think it's a fox!" cried Giant. "You'll remember, they bark just
like that!"

"Let's try to get a photo and a shot!" answered the doctor's son.
"Nothing like getting pictures of everything," he added.

They increased their speed, and soon found themselves within a
hundred yards of the shore of Firefly Lake. The barking had now
ceased, and they stood still, not knowing in which direction to turn.

"Something moving over yonder," whispered Giant presently, and nodded
with his head down the lake shore.

Making no noise, they went forward again. They had to pass some
bushes and rocks, and then came to a point where a spur of land
jutted far out into Firefly Lake. It was a rocky and sandy spur,
with scarcely any brushwood on it.

"There you are!" said Snap, and pointed to the extreme end of the
spur. There, on the rocks, were two large foxes, their noses well
in the air, gazing down the lake attentively.

"We've got them," murmured the doctor's son. "Come on, we'll take
pictures first and then shoot them!"

He brought around his camera and the others did likewise. They had
just snapped the shutters when the foxes turned, saw them, and set
up a loud and angry barking and showed their teeth.

"They are coming for us!" yelled Giant, and he was right. Without
hesitation, the foxes made several big leaps and came directly for
the young hunters!



Ordinarily the foxes would have turned and run away, but, with the
lake behind them, this was impossible, consequently they showed
fight. They came on snapping and snarling viciously and with their
teeth gleaming in a manner that made the boys shudder.

Fortunately for the young hunters the distance from the spur of
rocks to where the lads stood was over fifty yards, so, as the
foxes came rushing on, they had just time enough to shove aside
their cameras and bring their shotguns to the front. Snap was
the first of the three to bring his weapon into play, and he pulled
the trigger when the fox was less than a dozen feet away.

The shot was a fairly good one, for it took the beast just under
the breast. The fox gave a yelp of intense pain and dropped back.

The other fox came rushing at the doctor's son. The strap of Shep's
gun had become entangled with that of his camera and consequently
it was next to impossible for him to bring the weapon into proper
play. He fired, but the charge went too high, and the beast continued
to come on, until it crouched at his feet, snapping viciously and
getting ready to leap at his throat.

It was now that Giant showed his mettle. He, too, had had a little
trouble in getting at his gun, but now the weapon was pointed at
the fox at Shep's feet. Giant ran closer and pulled the trigger.
Bang! went the gun, and the fox received the full charge directly
in the left ear. It keeled over, and Giant sent the second charge
of his double-barreled weapon into the second fox, and that, too,
went down and lay quivering in its death agonies.

It took the young hunters some time to recover from the excitement
of the occurrence. The attack of the foxes had come so quickly that
it had startled them greatly.

"This ought to be a warning to us---this and that fight with the
wildcats," said Snap. "We ought to be on our guard every minute.
We've been lucky so far---maybe some other time we'll not do so well."

"Don't borrow trouble, Snap," answered the doctor's son. "Yet
I agree with you, we must be more careful in the future. Is your
camera all right?"

"I think so."

"Then let us take pictures of ourselves with the dead foxes," went
on Shep, and this was done, and later the photographs turned out
very well.

Having finished with the picture-taking, the boys threw off their
clothing and went for a swim in the clear, cool waters of Firefly

"Say, this is fine!" cried Snap enthusiastically as he splashed
the water around. "Makes a fellow feel a year younger, after such
a hot tramp as we have had!"

"That's what!" answered the doctor's son. "Look at this!" he added
as he made a long dive from a rock beside which he knew the water
to be deep.

They dove and swam and splashed around to their hearts' content for
a good quarter of an hour, and even had a little race to a snag
sticking up from the bottom fifty yards from the rocks. Then Shep
said they had better dress and proceed on their way.

They ran out of the lake, shook themselves, and made for the spot
whe`e they had left their clothing behind some bushes. Each stared
in amazement. The clothing had been left in three heaps; now the
garments were strewn around in helter-skelter fashion.

"Somebody has been here!" cried Snap. "Is anything gone?" demanded
Giant. At this all took a hasty inventory of their possessions.

"My shirt is missing!" came from the doctor's son.

"One of my socks is gone," added Giant.

"My belt is gone," came from Snap, "and so is my camera."

"And my gun!" added Shep, looking around to where the weapons had
rested against a tree.

"Boys, we have been robbed!"

"What enemy has done this?"

"Can this be the work of the Spink crowd?"

For a minute the talk was lively, and then the boys calmed down a
little. Even in their excitement they were glad that nothing more
had been taken.

"I don't think the Spink crowd did this," said Snap. "Ham Spink
wouldn't stop short of taking everything."

"Exactly my idea of it," answered Giant.

"Whoever it was had a queer idea of what to take," said the doctor's
son slowly. "A shirt, a belt, one sock, a camera and a gun. Why in
the name of goodness did he take one sock and not the other?"

"He certainly threw things around pretty well," said Giant. "Maybe
it was a wild animal," he continued suddenly.

"No wild animal would walk off with a camera and a gun, Giant,"
returned Snap. "Ha! I have it!" he cried. "That crazy hermit!"

"Maybe you're right," said Shep. "It would be just like such a
fellow to do a thing like this."

"And if he did this he must certainly have taken the watch," went
on Snap.

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