Part 3 out of 4
PERHAPS TEN THOUSAND YEARS OLD
"By Jove!" gasped Dave, also bending back a bush and glaring down,
his eyes wide open with interest.
"That's where our man went," Dick whispered.
"Not a doubt of it," Dave assented. "We'll signal the other fellows,
and then get him at our leisure."
"Unless there are other openings to this cave," Dick hinted.
"That's so! The fellow may be a quarter of a mile away from here
already," Darrin quivered. "Let's not lose any time. I'll go
in there first."
Dave was on his knees, quivering with eagerness, dominated by
purpose, when Dick grabbed him, hauling him back.
"Let me alone," growled Dave. "Don't interfere with me!"
"But you don't know what you might run into in there, Darry,"
Prescott insisted firmly. "For one thing, you have no idea how
many villains may have their secret home in there."
"Then, what are you going to do?" Darry demanded, looking up.
"I'm going to watch, right here, while you go forward and find
Tom and Dan. Bring them here, and then we'll decide what ought
to be done."
"That's rather slow," hot-headed Darry objected.
"It is, and a heap safer," Dick contended. "Hot-foot it after
Tom and Dan. I'll stay right here and see to it that the mouth
of the cave doesn't run away. Start---at once, Darry, please!
Don't let us waste time."
Knowing how stubborn Dick could be when he knew that he was wholly
right, Dave lost no time in argument. He sprinted away, and presently
Dick heard faint echoes of Darry's signaling, "hoo-hoo!"
A few minutes later the trio came up at a dog trot.
Not one of them spoke, as all had lost their breath in their haste.
Tom, now in the lead, dashed up to where Dick stood on guard
a few yards away from the bushes.
"Over there," nodded Dick, pointing to the bushes.
Tom and Dan pulled the bushes aside curiously.
"If we're going into that cave we may as well cut the bushes down,"
murmured Reade, producing a pocket knife. "Any objections, Chief?"
"No," smiled Dick, "and I'm not the Big Chief, either. Cut the
bushes down, if you want. Move over, and I'll give you some help."
Within a short time the bushes had been cut down close to the
ground, revealing an irregular shaped opening in the cave. This
aperture was about three feet high and some five feet in width.
"Did you bring that pocket flash lamp, Tom?" asked Dick suddenly.
"Thank goodness, I did," replied Reade, producing the lamp.
Dick took it and crawled a few feet into the hole.
"There's water all along on the floor here," he called, "but just
a dribble. Come in here and you'll find that you can stand up."
It needed no urging to induce the other boys to follow. Then
they stood up, in almost complete darkness, save when the flashlight
showed them their surroundings.
Some parts of the cave rose to a height of perhaps sixteen feet.
Twelve feet was about the average height. From what the boys
could see as they moved along, the cave extended for some sixty
"I don't believe there's anyone in here except ourselves," muttered
Darry in disgust, peering all around him. "In that case, we are
wasting our time in this cave. Phew! How cold it is in here!"
"And well it might be," laughed Dick. "Do you see that mass just
ahead of us?"
"What is it?" asked Dan. "Flash the light on it."
"Come over and look at it," Dick went on. "No one could live
in this cold place. It is chilling me to the bone, just to stand
here. And now you see why that little trickle of water keeps
moving out through the mouth of the cave. Fellows, we're in one
of nature's icehouses."
"But we're not after ice," Dave protested.
"We won't turn down ice in the wilderness, when we can find it
in July," Dick rejoined.
"Not much!" answered practical Tom Reade. "Why, fellows, ice is
just what we need at the camp. Let's get a closer look at it
and make plans for an ice-box over at the camp."
"But I want to follow that man of mystery," protested Dave.
"Go ahead, David, little giant," Dick laughed. "We won't stop
you. But we've lost our man of mystery, anyway, and this cave
contains something that we really do want. Tom, you're the
mathematician of the party. How much ice is there here?"
"If I could see better I could tell you better," sniffed Reade.
"Hundreds of tons of it, anyway."
"How did the stuff get here?" asked Dan wonderingly.
Dick was now at the edge of the ice pile, and flashed the light
at the roof of the cavern.
"See the rifts in the rock up there?" he asked. "Water must have
leaked in here during the heavy winter rains. It was cold water,
too. Then, in extra cold spells, such as this country experiences,
the water must have frozen. As heat doesn't get in here in warm
weather the ice may have been here for generations. Fellows,
we may be looking upon ice that was here when George Washington
was a boy."
"I've read, somewhere," declared Tom soberly, "that icebergs that
float down from the polar regions in spring often represent ice
that is at least ten thousand years old. Fellows, some of this
very ice may have been here in this cave long, long before Julius
Caesar went into the soldiering business!"
That thought had somewhat of an awesome effect upon Dick & Co.
The four high school boys felt as though they were in the presence
of great antiquity.
"But the practical side of it," declared Tom, "is that we must
devise the best way of cutting some of this ice and getting it
across the lake to the camp."
"Oh, you can break off enough for making ice water," replied Dave
Darrin impatiently, "and take it over in the canoe, though the
spring water is cold enough for anybody."
"All of Dave's thoughts are still on the man of mystery," Dick
declared, with a chuckle.
"It's much more interesting than standing here figuring on how
to get ice that we don't need," retorted Darry.
"Now, as to moving this stuff to the camp," Tom went on, "it seems
"Of course," laughed Dick. "It has already struck you that we
can fell a few small trees and build a raft on which we can tow
a few hundred pounds of ice at a time."
"Oh, pshaw!" fidgeted Dave. "I am anxious to find the man of
"That isn't anything practical," scoffed Tom Reade, "while in
hot weather a good supply of ice is eminently practical."
"You'll think there's a practical side to the man of mystery and
his cronies when to-night comes, and there's so much noise about
the camp that we miss another night's rest," hinted Darry sagely.
"Humph!" was Tom's greeting to that assertion. "I don't know
but you're right."
"Well, we know where the ice is," remarked Dick. "We can get
it at our convenience. Darry, we'll follow you in pursuit of
your man of mystery. Come out of here, fellows."
Dick led the way out of the cave, flashing the light as he walked.
All four blinked when they found themselves out in the sunlight.
"Now, which way are we going, David, little giant?" demanded Tom
Now that he was put to it, Dave had to confess that he didn't
"Let's make a swift, thorough search all around here, and see
if we can find any footprints not made by ourselves," Dave suggested
rather weakly, at last.
This was done, and faithfully, for, now that they were out in
the sunlight again, the interest in the mystery began to return.
It grew stronger as they searched. At last, however, after more
than an hour of fruitless effort that offered not an atom of promise,
even Darry was willing to give it up for the time, at any rate.
"Let's keep on walking along the slope, then," Dick suggested,
"until we come in sight of the canoe."
As they walked along they came to a brook that, at this point,
was nearly the width of a creek. The water ran noisily down over
the stones, save here and there where there were deep pools.
"It's narrow enough, at one point below here, to jump over," Dave
"Thank you," replied Dick, "but just at present I'm not for jumping
over this brook."
"Well, then, what on earth does interest you?" Dan asked. "This
isn't the first time you've seen this stream. You passed it
down by the lake, though down there it runs more smoothly."
"I know," Dick nodded. "I remember the fallen tree we used for
a bridge, and I'm simply ashamed of myself that I didn't think
more about this stream at the time---but my head was then too
full of the lake mystery and the chap with the haunting face.
"Well?" demanded Tom impatiently.
"Reade, old fellow," Dick answered solemnly, turning back from
peering at one of the quiet pools in the creek, "you're a wonder
at black bass fishing, no doubt. My tastes ran to another form
of sport. Mr. Morton taught me trout fishing; he lent me his
tackle before we started, and I have it over at the camp now.
Fellows, I believe, from the looks of things, that this stream
is well stocked with trout. At all events, I mean to have a try
"To-morrow?" asked Dave.
"No, siree! This afternoon----just as soon as possible! A little
while ago we were talking about ferrying ice over to the camp.
Instead, we'll ferry the camp over here, and keep the cave just
as it is for our ice-house. Do you fellows know that brook trout
make the most delicious eating to be had when the cook knows his
business? I do, for Mr. Morton has cooked trout for me in the
woods. Besides, brook trout are growing scarce these days. If
we can make a good haul, we can get a pretty big price per pound
for them! We have ice, now, and we could carry a lot of trout
to market on our push cart, on top of enough ice to keep them.
Come on! Back to camp! We'll shift it to this side of the lake
at once. This crowd can't do better than to work out this trout
stream. I know the trout are there! I can smell 'em! Tom, I've
got an important job for you!"
MORE MYSTERY IN THE AIR
It was nearly dark, after an afternoon of hard work for five members
of the party, and an afternoon of wonderful sport for Dick Prescott.
A crude raft had been built. That part of the work had been easy,
and it was swiftly performed. But three trips with the small
raft had been needed to bring over the tent, the supplies, the
push cart and everything belonging to the old camp.
Now the new camp stood pitched at a short distance from the cave,
but near to the edge of the lake. The tent had been put up in
a natural clearing, behind a line of timber, so that the canvas
was not visible from the other side of the lake.
At trout fishing Dick had proved himself more than an expert.
Now that darkness was coming, Dick was bending over a low fire,
watching a frying pan in which four speckled beauties, well dipped
in batter, were sizzling merrily.
"This is the finest food I've ever had," declared Greg Holmes,
swallowing another mouthful of trout and leaning back with a contented
"It certainly is great," agreed Dave Darrin. "Fellows, I've wasted
some of my life in the past, for I never before knew the taste
of brook trout."
"I tried 'em once," said Reade, "but they didn't taste as fine
as these. With trout, I've heard, a tremendous lot depends upon
the way they're cooked."
"Of course the cooking has a lot to do with bringing out the full
flavor," Dick admitted modestly. "But, Tom, perhaps you hadn't
done any hard work before eating trout that time. Exercise brings
hunger, and hunger is the best sauce that food can have---as we
all ought to know."
"Exercise?" repeated Tom, with a laugh. "Yes; I've had that this
afternoon, all right. You had me guessing when you told me you
had such an important job for me. I didn't know, then, that you
wanted me to boss the raft building and transporting the camp
over here. It was exercise, all right. We ought to have taken
an entire day to it."
Dick rose with the frying pan, dropping hot trout on four plates
in turn, omitting only Holmes.
"You shall have a trout out of the next serving, Greg," Dick promised.
"I'm not worrying about myself," Greg returned. "But are you
going to have anything left for yourself, Dick?"
"I'm not worrying about that, either," laughed Prescott. "It
was mighty nice of you fellows to do all the work this afternoon,
and leave me to enjoy myself all the time at sport. So the trout
belong to you fellows."
"I don't suppose you worked at all, Dick," said Tom quizzically.
"Of course whipping up and down a stream in rubber boots, over
stones and all sorts of obstacles, isn't anything like work."
"It would be pretty hard work for a fellow who didn't like trout
fishing, I suppose," Dick answered. "But, to me, it was only
so much glorious sport. Here's your trout, Greg. Who else wants
"Don't ask foolish questions," chuckled Danny Grin.
But at last the five boys had to admit that they had eaten their
fill out of the splendid result of Dick's afternoon of sport.
There were still several trout left, all cleaned and ready to
be dipped in the batter.
"Now, you sit down at the table, and let us wait on you," urged
Greg, going over to Dick.
Dave took hold of one of young Holmes' suspender straps, pulling
"You simpleton," expostulated Darry, "are you going to spoil Dick's
reward by letting a chump cook attend to the trout? Dick wants
to cook his trout for himself, but we'll do everything else.
I'll appoint myself to make the coffee for all hands."
Dick soon had a pan full of trout ready for his own plate. As
he seated himself at the table he was fully conscious of how tired
and sore he was from the afternoon of whipping up and down stream
after these handsome, speckled fish, but he was careful not to
admit his fatigue to the others, who, also, were very tired.
Dick had to fry a second pan of trout, eating the last one of
the lot he had caught, ere he found his appetite satisfied.
Then, with only the light of a lantern on the table, the boys
sat about sipping their coffee and feeling supremely contented
with their day of effort and its results.
"There are not so many mosquitoes over here," Tom announced.
"They haven't found us out yet," chuckled Danny Grin. "They will
do so, later."
"I'm ready for bed any time the word comes," confessed Harry Hazelton.
"But, see here, fellows," suggested Dave soberly, "we're now right
in the enemy's country. That is to say, we're on the same side
of the lake with the man of mystery and his companions, if he
has any. I don't doubt that resentful eyes have watched the erecting
of this camp on its present site."
"Sorry to have hurt anyone's feelings," yawned Tom. "Still, I
guess we've as much right here as anyone else."
"But the point is this," Dave went on. "Last night some persons
must have crossed the lake in order to annoy us. To-night we're
on the same side of the lake with them. We'll be much more accessible
to the people who object so strenuously to our presence."
"Where did these unknown people find a boat for crossing the lake?"
queried Reade. "We couldn't find one anywhere until the canoe
was left at our camp."
"Anyone might have a boat or canoe here, and keep it hidden easily
enough when not in use," Dave asserted. "Just as we---have brought
our canoe up here and hidden it in the tent, for instance. Now,
we'll all have to admit that we're extremely likely to have unwelcome
visitors here to-night? Are we going to keep a guard?"
"It might not be a bad idea to keep someone on watch through the
night," Dick suggested.
"I'll stand the first watch trick," proposed Dave. "It need be
only an hour long. I'll drink some more coffee, and then walk
a while, so as to be sure to keep awake."
"I'll take the second trick," nodded Dick.
The schedule for watch tricks was quickly made up. Then all but
Dave hastily sought their cots. Darkness was not an hour old
when Dave was the only member of the camp awake. Had the high
school boys been less healthy and sturdy their hearty suppers
might have summoned the nightmare, but they slept on soundly.
Dick, however, stretched, gaped, then sprang up when Darry called
him. Some of the others, when their turns came, did not respond
as readily, and had to be dragged from their cots and stood upright
before they were thoroughly awake.
It was shortly after one o'clock in the morning when Tom Reade,
then on watch, stepped lightly into the tent, passing through
the round of the cots, shaking each sleeper in turn.
"Those of you who want to listen to something interesting, get
up instantly!" Tom exclaimed in a low voice.
Three boys drowsily rolled over, going immediately back into sound
slumber. Dick and Dave, however, got up, pulling on their shoes.
"What's all that racket across the lake?" was Dick's prompt question
as he stood in the doorway of the tent.
"That comes from the former camp site," chuckled Tom.
"Guns!" cried Dave Darrin in amazement.
"It sounds like a big fusillade," Dick cried, as he stepped out
into the night.
"But surely no one can be trying to attack our camp, thinking
we are still there," Tom protested. "We don't know any people
who are wicked enough to plan an attack upon our camp."
"No," Dick agreed. "But this much is sure. There are those who
dislike us enough to try to spoil our rest night after night."
Dave began to laugh merrily.
"I half believe it's Dodge and Bayliss," he remarked quietly.
"I don't," Reade objected. "Both of them are too lazy to motor
up into the wilderness each night, over such rough roads, all
the way from Gridley. No, no! It's someone else, though who
it is I can't imagine. If it were the man of the lake mystery,
or any of his people, they'd be likely to know that we're on this
side of the lake."
From the edge of the timber line near by came the sound of a crackling
twig, followed by a groan as of a soul in torment.
Wheeling like a flash, Tom Reade produced the pocket flash lamp.
Staring toward the boys, his face outlined between the close-growing
trunks of two spruce trees, were the startling features of a man.
"That's he---the Man of the Haunting Face!" came from Tom Reade
in a hoarse whisper.
"Then we'll get him!" cried Dick Prescott, leaping forward. "Hold
the light on him!"
THE SCREAM THAT STARTED A RACE
Yet even as the three boys dashed toward the two spruce trees
the light went out.
Tom pressed frantically on the spring of the lamp as he ran, but
the lamp gave forth a flickering gleam that was little better
than no light at all.
The long use of the lamp in the cave had weakened the storage
"Give us the light!" called Dave, as they reached the tree.
"Can't! The battery's on a strike," answered Reade grimly.
Dick Prescott, who was ahead of his companions, now halted, whispering
to the others to do the same.
The man they sought had vanished. No betraying sounds came to
indicate where he had gone.
"Dave and I'll stay here," whispered Dick. "Tom, run back for
a lantern. Hustle!"
Fifteen minutes of eager searching, after the lantern was brought,
failed to give any clue to the whereabouts of the man whom they
"This is more ghostly than human," laughed young Prescott.
They felt compelled to give up the search. As they returned to
the camp the firing on the opposite side of the lake broke out
anew. At the distance, however, it was not loud enough to disturb
the other three, who still slept in the tent. Dick flashed the
lantern inside to make sure that the sleepers were safe.
At intervals the racket across the lake broke out anew.
"It's my turn to go on watch again," said Darry, glancing at his
watch by the light of the lantern. "You two might as well turn
"We'll dress and bring our cots out into the open," Dick proposed.
"You might as well have us, Dave, where you can get us instantly,
and ready for action, by just touching us on the shoulder."
But the night passed, without any further disturbances than the
occasional distant firing, and the rousing, every hour, of a new
watchman for the camp.
It was past seven in the morning when Dick finally turned out,
to find Greg and Harry busy preparing breakfast, while Darrin
"Where are Tom and Dan?" Prescott asked.
"Look through the trees, and presently you'll discover them out
in the canoe," answered Greg. "Tom simply couldn't wait any longer
to go out after bass."
"I'm going trout fishing, if I can do it without shirking," said
Dick, as he rose and stretched.
"And if no one kicks I'm going with you," added Darrin, opening
his eyes. "How about it, Greg? Are you and Harry willing to
do the camp watch this morning?"
Greg had turned around eagerly, seeing which, Hazelton broke in:
"Go right along with 'em, Holmesy, if they'll take you. There
won't be much to do in camp after, the dishes are washed."
"But it's rather a shame to leave you alone," hinted Greg wistfully.
He wanted, with all his heart, to see some of the rare sport
that Dick had described, but he didn't want to be unfair to anyone.
"I won't be lonesome," protested Hazelton. "We have some good
books along, and I can read one of them."
"But what if the camp should be molested?" asked Greg. "You know,
there is at least the Man with the Haunting Face, and there may
"Whoever tries to molest this camp will be molested in his turn,
I promise you," laughed Harry. "I'm no weakling, so run right
along, Holmesy. Even if serious trouble should arise, I have
this, you know."
He produced a long-barreled fish horn that he had used in celebrating
the night before the Fourth of July.
"Two or three loud blasts on this bugle would carry a long way,
and you fellows would know what I wanted," finished Hazelton.
"All right, then, I'll go," said Greg, his face beaming.
"We've trout flies in plenty, you know," Dick went on, "but we've
only two poles that are suited to trouting, so we'll have to take
"You may keep one pole all the time. Dick," suggested Darry.
"Greg and I can take turns with the other pole."
"That will hardly be fair to you two," replied Dick, with a shake
of his head.
"It wouldn't be fair to the whole crowd to take your pole away
from you any part of the time," retorted Greg. "Remember, Dick,
you are the expert trout fisherman of the party, and all the fellows
want some more trout. We'll never forget those of last night."
Greg and Hazelton now had breakfast ready. It was eaten rather
hastily, after which all hands fell to setting things to rights.
"Here, come out of the tent," called Hazelton, as Dick started
inside to use a broom there. "You fellows are the providers,
and I can do the little housework that's left to do."
So Dick, Dave and Greg brought out their long-legged rubber boots
and got into them with little delay. Then there came a sorting
of flies, and the rigging of lines and reels. Within a few minutes
the three were ready to start out.
As they went up the stream Dick cut and trimmed two crotched sticks
on which to string the fish they might catch.
"That looks almost boastful," chuckled Dave. "It looks as though
we thought it a cinch that we're going to get a lot of trout."
"It all depends on us," Prescott rejoined. "The brook is simply
full of trout, that we can catch if we display the requisite amount
of skill. The mystery to me is that this brook has escaped the
knowledge of the trout fishermen in Gridley. Not even Mr. Morton
ever heard of this stream."
"Well, Mr. Morton can't be expected to know everything," argued
Greg. "He's already the most capable sub-master in Gridley High
School and the finest coach the Gridley football squad ever had."
"He's also an A No.1 trout fisherman," Dick went on. "Fellows,
we mustn't tell everyone about this trout stream, but Mr. Morton
is such an all around fine fellow that I think we owe it to him
to tell him, when we see him, just how to reach this brook."
"If the real estate men of Gridley knew of this place," laughed
Greg, "they'd buy up the ground around here and then sell bungalows
at fancy prices to amateur fishermen of means."
"And then the brook would soon cease to be a trout stream," retorted
young Prescott. "A large proportion of the trout would be caught
within a few days, and the rest of 'em scared away to safer breeding
grounds. The only way to keep a trout stream in working order
is not to let many people know about it. It sounds selfish, but
it's good sportsmanship."
Dick soon halted, eyeing a pool so deep that its bottom could
not be seen.
"This looks like a good place to start in," he announced. "I
believe I'll go a little way up stream, and then whip down past
this pool and below. Now, talk only in whispers, if you can remember,
fellows. Trout are shy creatures. Has either of you ever fished
for trout before?"
Both Dave and Greg shook their heads.
"Then I think you had better watch me for a while, and catch some
of the knack of it," their leader advised. "Notice particularly
how I whip. If I get a nibble, then note, particularly, that
I don't make an immediate effort to land the trout. I play the
line out a bit and let him play with the fly, and beat about and
get himself better imbedded on the hook. When I am sure I have
him well hooked, then you'll see the peculiar motion with which
I bring him out of the water and throw him on the ground. That
landing trick is one that you need to get just so. Study it,
and develop it. Don't be disappointed if you lose quite a few
trout. You will lose them often until you get the hang of the
Some distance above the pool Dick stepped into the water. He
walked along slowly, not stirring up much dirt from the bottom.
All the time he kept his line behind him, frequently lifting
it and whipping it into the water again. The gayly colored flies
and the glistening spoon just above the hook flashed in the sunlight
every time he made a whipping cast.
Not twenty feet had Dick gone when he felt a sudden, violent tug.
With the true patience of the trout fisherman, Dick didn't become
at all excited. His hand on the reel, he let the line fly out
as the finny captive darted up stream.
Presently Dick played the fish in gently, then suddenly gave it
plenty of slack line. These tactics were repeated, while Dave
and Greg almost danced in their eagerness.
Suddenly Dick flipped his pole sharply. There was a swish of
line in the air. Something speckled and glistening dropped on
the ground at least ten feet from the brook, where it lay floundering
"Hoo-ray!" yelled Greg, with all his pent-up enthusiasm.
"Do that again, Holmesy, and I'll chase you back into camp," warned
Dick, with his patient smile. Then he stepped ashore, took the
trout from the line and impaled it on a stick, which he gave Greg
Within two minutes there was another strike. The same patient
tactics, and Dick had another trout---this time a two-pounder
as against about three quarters of a pound for the weight of the
The third trout got away, despite the most careful handling, but
the fourth and fifth biters were soon landed.
"I can't stand this any longer," quivered Dave. "I've got to
start in. Where do you want me to go, Dick?"
"Better go about a quarter of a mile upstream," Prescott suggested,
"and then work down this way. Greg can go along with you and
carry the stick for your string. I'll look out for my own string."
For nearly half an hour Prescott saw nothing of his friends.
Then Dave and Greg came in sight. Dick held up a string now numbering
eleven trout, some of them unusually large.
For answer Greg held up a crotched stick with not a single trout
"There's more knack to this game than I can catch," muttered Darry
disconsolately, "but I'd give a good deal to get the knack of it."
"No man save the first trout fisherman of all ever learned without
a teacher," Dick assured his chum. "Greg, you take a place farther
down the stream, and I'll stay with Dave and try to show him some
of the tricks. You may have my pole and line, Greg, for I shall
be busy watching Dave."
Many a pull at his line had Darrin, and many a fish was lost ere,
under Prescott's patient instruction, he managed to land a trout
weighing about a pound.
"Whew!" muttered Dave, mopping his brow. "At this moment I believe
I feel prouder than any general who ever captured a city."
"You'll soon have the hang of it, now, Dave," was his chum's encouraging
assurance. "Now, I'm going to hunt up Holmesy, and see if I can
show him some of the knack."
Greg proved a grateful though not very clever pupil. He was all
enthusiasm, but the art of landing a trout appeared to him to
be one of the most difficult feats in the world.
"I don't believe I'll ever land enough to fill a frying pan,"
he said dejectedly. "Dick, the fellows are depending upon you.
Take this pole and use it for the next hour."
Later in the forenoon Greg had one small trout on a stick he had
cut and trimmed for himself. Dave Darrin looked almost triumphant
as he displayed three of the speckled ones. Both stared in envy
at Dick's string of thirty-four trout.
"Of course it'll take a few days of patient study of the game
to enable you to make big catches," was Dick's consoling assurance.
"I'd put in all summer, if I were sure I could master the trick
in the end," said Dave.
Greg said nothing, but felt less resolute about it than Darrin
"Why, it's only fifteen minutes before noon," cried Dave, glancing
at his watch.
"Then it's high time to be going back," nodded Dick, "in case
the fellows are depending upon us for their meal. If Tom has
a lot of bass, though, we can store these trout in our new ice
"And let the Man with the Haunting Face slip in there, after dark,
and help himself!" grumbled Darry. "Somehow that idea doesn't
make any hit with me."
"Then we'll have to put in the afternoon," proposed Prescott,
"in building a log-lined pit in the ground and moving ice from
the cave to fill it. Then we can keep our fish supplies right
up under our noses in front of the tent."
"That's a little more satisfactory in the way of an idea," nodded
For the purpose of taking a short cut they soon left the brook,
going through a stretch of woods on their way to camp.
Hardly had these high school boys entered the woods when they
halted, for an instant, in intense consternation.
On the air there came to them a sudden scream.
"That was a girl's voice!" gasped Greg.
"Or a woman's," nodded Dick. "We've got to-----"
Again a piercing scream, then more screams in two voices.
"Hustle!" finished Dick, as the three boys broke into a run in
the direction whence the sound of the voices came to them.
THE CAMP INVADED AND CAPTURED
Clad in their long fishing boots, none of the boys made anything
like his usual speed in running.
Grumbling inwardly at their clumsy gait, all three hurried as
fast as they could into the near-by stretch of forest.
There, in a path, they came upon a middle-aged woman accompanied
by four girls, all of whom showed signs of unusual alarm.
"Oh, Dave," called Belle Meade, "I'm so glad to see you!"
"You usually are," laughed Darrin, "but I never knew you to make
so much noise about it before."
"What's the trouble?" Dick inquired, after a hasty greeting to
Mrs. Bentley, Laura Bentley, Belle Meade, Fannie Upham and Margery
White, the latter four all Gridley High School girls.
"A man---he must have been crazy!" replied Laura. Her voice shook
slightly, and she was still trembling, though the color was beginning
to return to her face.
"Did he offer to molest you?" flared Dick.
"No, indeed!" replied Mrs. Bentley promptly and laughing nervously.
"In fact, I think we must have frightened the man, for his desire
seemed to be to get away from us as fast as he could."
"But that face!" cried Miss Fanny. "I never want to see it again."
"It must have been our Man of the Haunting Face," murmured Dick,
turning to his chums.
"That was he---just who it was!" declared Belle, with emphasis.
"I don't know whom you're talking about, but 'haunting face'
just describes the man who frightened us."
"It was so silly of us!" murmured Laura Bentley. "It was clear
nonsense for us to be so frightened, but when, we saw that face
peering at us from behind a tree we simply couldn't help screaming."
"Are you alone?" demanded Prescott in some astonishment, for these
were carefully brought-up girls, and it was not like their parents
to let them go into the woods without other guard than that of
At that instant Dick's question was answered by the appearance
of Dr. Bentley, who, on account of his weight, panted somewhat
as he ran.
"Did---these---young men frighten---you so badly---that you---made
such a commotion---and caused me nearly to breathe---my last in
running to---your aid?" demanded the good doctor gaspingly, his
"No, sir; we came, like yourself, when we heard the girls scream,"
Dick Prescott explained.
Then, amid much talking, and with as many as three people speaking
at once, the story was quickly recounted for Dr. Bentley.
"We've seen the fellow before," Dick explained, "but he always
fakes alarm and vanishes. We call him our man of mystery---the
Man with the Haunting Face."
"Some poor, simple-minded fellow," suggested Dr. Bentley. "Probably
one whose mild mania leads him to prefer to live in the woods,
a regular hermit. My dears, I'm surprised that any of you should
be so easily startled and make such noisy testimony to your alarm."
"I'm indignant with myself now---when there are men standing by,"
laughed Belle. "But I wish you had seen that man's strange face,
"I would like to see it, and punch it, too!" muttered Dave.
"Not a bit of it!" objected Dr. Bentley heartily. "No doubt the
poor fellow is sadly afflicted mentally. He's what the Arabs
call a 'simple,' and the Arabs have a beautiful faith that all
'simples' are under the direct protection of Allah. So, woe to
him who offends one of Allah's 'simples.'"
"How do you boys come to be here?" asked Laura.
"I might ask the same question of your party," smiled Dick. "As
for us, we are away on a vacation fishing and camping trip."
"I knew you were going away," said Dr. Bentley, "but I didn't
know just where. We are touring again, in my seven-passenger
car. We are headed for the St. Clair Lake House, eight miles
below here. But the roads are so bad that the chauffeur said
it would take us more than an hour to get through. So I proposed
to Mrs. Bentley and the girls that we leave the car at the road
and cross over here to have our luncheon on the shore of this
second lake. I have been here before, and remember it as a beautiful
spot. Mrs. Bentley and the girls started on ahead, and I brought
up the rear with the baskets of food. But they got further ahead
of me than I thought. Now I must go back after the baskets, which
I set down before I started to run here. Greg, will you go back
with me and help me bring the baskets?"
Greg at once accompanied the physician. When they came to the
spot, however, they found but one basket, and that nearly empty.
The second basket had disappeared altogether.
"Fine!" grunted Dr. Bentley. "Greg, our committee of two must
go back and report the disquieting news."
"Not so very disquieting, sir," smiled young Holmes. "We have
a camp full of food to offer you."
That invitation Dick and Dave very quickly seconded when the doctor
rejoined the party.
"Especially if you can eat trout, sir," Dick went on.
"Don't! Don't be cruel!" remonstrated Dr. Bentley. "I used to
eat trout when I was a boy, but they are now an extinct fish."
"Are they, sir?" inquired Dick, unwrapping a paper from around
part of the morning's heavy catch, while Dave exhibited the contents
of a similar bundle.
Dr. Bentley rubbed his eyes.
"Bless me, these are a fine imitation of brook trout as I recall
them," he murmured.
"What did you mean by saying that trout were an extinct fish?"
"They're extinct for all but the wealthy," replied the physician.
"Brook trout, in these days, generally cost all of a dollar and
a half a pound, and I've heard of as high as two dollars a pound
being paid for them."
"There are plenty hereabouts, just now," Dick replied. "But we
may take them all out of the water before we move from here."
"Of course," nodded Laura's father. "That's what trout are for.
They won't do anyone any good as long as they remain in the water."
"Let's hurry back, please," urged Dick. "I am anxious to see
your luncheon under way."
"Yes," teased Belle, "the sooner you have satisfied our appetites
the sooner you may expect to see us gone and be able to enjoy
yourselves and your comfortable solitude once more."
"Now, just for saying that, Belle," uttered Dick reproachfully,
"I'm going to consider the revenge of burning two of your trout
in the pan."
"Mercy!" cried Belle Meade. "Are you going to cook the trout?"
"After you've eaten a trout cooked and served up by Dick Prescott,"
Dave declared, "you won't want them cooked by anyone else. Dick
is the one trout chef in this part of the country."
"Where did he learn?" teased Belle with a pretense of suspicion.
"Mr. Morton---Coach Morton, of our high school eleven---taught
Dick how to do it," Dave explained.
"Right here, young ladies---attention!" called Dr. Bentley, holding
up a warning finger. "If brook trout are as fine eating as they
used to be when I was a boy, then you simply won't be able to
keep it a secret that you've eaten some recently. Yet on one
point I must insist. None of you must be dishonorable enough
to name any spot within fifty miles of here as the scene of your
trout luncheon. If you let the secret out all the trout fishermen
in four counties will be swarming here to destroy all the fun
your young men friends are having. So, please remember! Utter,
dark, uncompromising secrecy!"
"Is it as bad as that?" asked Belle.
"Every real trout fisherman knows enough to keep his own secrets
as to the streams that contain trout," Dave nodded.
By this time they came within sight of the camp. Nor was it long
before Tom, Dan and Harry caught sight of the visitors and ran
forward to meet them.
"Our friends have come just in time to have a trout feast," Dick
"I shall be jealous if they eat the trout," Tom retorted.
"Or envious?" laughed Belle.
"No; jealous," Tom assured her. "Dan and I have been fishing,
too. Come and see what we caught."
Tom led the way to where he had cleaned more than a dozen black
bass, while in buckets of water lay nearly thirty more fine,
"Didn't you catch anything but bass?" Dave asked.
"A few other fish," Tom admitted, "but we threw the inferior fish
back into the water. Now, girls, which are you going to have---trout
"Both---if we may," ventured Laura, with a smile.
And both were served at the meal. Motherly Mrs. Bentley laid
aside her motoring dust coat and marshaled the girls for the various
tasks to which she assigned them.
What a hubbub there was in preparing the feast!
Dick built two small fires for his own exclusive use. Tom built
two more, while Dan and Greg skirmished for more wood. Dr. Bentley,
his coat off and shirt sleeves rolled up, constructed a "warm
oven" with stones topped by a large baking tin. Then he built
Dick fried the trout, while Dr. Bentley started low fires under
the two crude warming ovens. As fast as trout were fried they
were dropped into one oven, Tom's bass being dropped into the
other. Potatoes were boiling in one pot, tinned peas in another,
and tinned string beans in still another. Tinned pudding was
set in another pot of water to heat, while Mrs. Bentley made a
sauce, and the girls set the table and made the other necessary
preparations for the luncheon.
Presently the meal was ready, though the boys did not seat themselves
until they had seen their welcome guests served.
"Daddy," murmured Laura, "I don't blame you for regretting your
boyhood, if you had many trout feasts."
"How's the bass?" asked Tom, almost jealously.
"Just splendid," replied Laura, sampling her first fork full.
"You boys are camping in a fisherman's paradise," declared Dr.
Bentley. "I don't blame you for liking this life. When I was
a boy fresh water fish were almost as plentiful as salt water
fish. Now, we rarely find any fresh water fish in the markets.
I can't understand how this choice retreat for fishermen has
escaped notice, unless it is because of the almost total lack
of inhabitants in this section, and the miserable apologies for
roads. Once again I must caution all of you young women not to
be indiscreet and spoil this fisherman's paradise for your young
friends by talking about it to anyone."
All four of the girls promised absolute secrecy.
After they had all satisfied their hunger, Dick asked Dr. Bentley
all about the St. Clair Lake House. He learned that it was a
fine, modern hotel, accommodating about one hundred and fifty
guests. It was just on the edge of the good roads, Dr. Bentley
explained; this side of the hotel no roads worthy of the name
existed. Dick was very thoughtful after receiving the information,
for he had something on his mind.
"How about that chauffeur of yours, doctor?" asked Dave suddenly.
"Oh, we left him with a comfortable luncheon," replied Dr. Bentley.
"He can't leave the car, you know."
"Will you take him two or three trout, sir?" urged Dick.
"And a bass, sir?" added Reade.
"We'll wait for him to eat them in the car," replied the physician,
"provided the poor fellow hasn't gorged himself on plainer food
and has no room left for real fare like this."
When the time came that the guests must really leave, five of
the boys accompanied the party to the road. Hazelton remained
to watch the camp.
"Now, let's hustle!" urged Dick, as the car rolled out of sight.
"When we get back to camp we have many long hours of work to do."
"Work of what kind?" inquired Tom.
"First of all," replied Prescott, with his most mysterious air,
"we are going to build, close to camp, a make-believe ice-box.
Then we're going to fill the box with ice."
"And what will all that be for?" Dave wanted to know.
"If you can't guess now," smiled young Prescott, his eyes gleaming,
"you'll soon begin to see daylight through my plan! I don't know---but
I believe that the plan I have in mind is going to work out in
DICK MAKES FISH TALK
"That's the longest eight miles I've ever done," muttered Hazelton.
"The map is wrong. It's a hundred and eight," affirmed Dave.
"No matter, if the trip turns out to have been wisely planned,"
remarked Dick, a wistful look coming into his eyes. "Of course,
I may have overshot the mark."
"That's a chance we had to take," declared Dave promptly. "We
won't be disappointed if we find that we haven't made such a big
move, after all."
The three high school boys had halted in the shade of some trees
by the highway. A quarter of a mile away, around the head of
the body of water known as the third lake, stood a handsome hotel,
the St. Clair Lake House.
It was now nearly nine o'clock in the morning. Dick and his two
comrades had been on the way, over the rough road, propelling
the heavily laden push cart, from which water now dripped from
melting ice. The boys had built their ice-house, or ice-box,
whichever one preferred to call it, and they had stocked it with
ice from the cave. Dick, Dave and Greg had whipped up and down
the stream in turn; Tom and Dan had trolled the lake for bass.
As fast as the fish were brought in they were stored on the ice.
After two days of hard fishing the boys arose before four o'clock
in the morning, for Dick was now ready to test his venture.
"Stay close by that box, Harry," warned Dick, as he took hold
of the handles of the push cart.
"Won't I, though?" Hazelton demanded.
Dick and Dave trudged onward, taking brief turns at the cart.
Thus they entered the hotel grounds at the rear, continuing until
they were close up to the rear porch. Then Dick ascended the
steps and knocked at the door. As no one answered, he stepped
into the corridor.
"What do you want here?" asked a well-dressed, portly man of fifty,
who stepped out of a nearby room.
"I would like to see the manager, or steward, sir," Prescott replied.
"We don't want any help," replied the man.
"I haven't any help to offer, sir," Dick smiled. "Can I see the
steward, or the manager?"
"I'm the proprietor, if that will do," answered the man, giving
Dick a sharp look. He saw that his youthful visitor was evidently
a well-bred boy, but that did not prove that Dick was not looking
for work. College boys often serve as bell-boys or waiters at
"If you will step outside then, a moment, sir," Prescott continued,
"I think I can show you the nicest lot of black bass you ever saw."
"A string of bass, eh?"
"No, sir; quite a load."
"I'll look at them," said the proprietor briefly.
When he saw the quantity of bass, and noted the plumpness of the
fish, the proprietor was more interested. It is always a problem,
with a summer hotel, to serve enough novel food. But the proprietor
offered less than half the price Dick named. The high school
boy, however, stuck to his price.
"I can't deal with you, then," said the owner, with a shake of
the head, starting to reenter the hotel.
"The Kelway House is about a mile and a half below here, isn't
it, sir?" asked Prescott, preparing to push the cart along.
"Yes; but they won't buy fish at that price."
"I'll try them, anyway, sir. Thank you for the trouble you've
taken for me. Good morning, sir."
"Hold on, there," interrupted the hotel proprietor. "Perhaps
I can offer you a little more."
In his own mind the hotel man was determined that the rival Kelway
House should not have the chance to serve these bass.
More haggling followed, but Dick stuck to his price. In the end
he got it. Scales were brought and the fish weighed. The total
came to eighteen dollars and thirty-three cents.
"I suppose an even eighteen dollars will satisfy you?" asked the
"Yes, sir," admitted the greatly delighted Prescott.
While the money was being counted over, Dave slipped away with
the push cart.
"In about ten minutes, sir," said Dick, after he had pocketed
the money and had thanked the hotel man, "I'll have something
else to show you."
"What?" asked the man, eyeing Dick keenly.
"Now, if you don't mind, sir," coaxed Dick, with a smile, "I'd
rather not destroy, in advance, the keen delight you're going
to feel when you see the next cartload."
"How many of these cartloads have you lying around?" asked the
"The next one will be also the last, sir. May I call you out
when my friends get here with it?"
"I---I guess so," assented the hotel man, and then went inside.
Dick found a seat on a nearby bench and waited.
Dave and Harry presently came along with the cart. Dick once
more went after his prospective purchaser.
"What have you now---more bass?" asked the hotel man, eyeing the
heavy box on the cart. Water was dripping from the ice and running
to the ground.
"No, sir; just look!" begged Prescott, lifting some jute bagging
from the top of the box, then digging down through the top layer
of cracked ice.
"Brook trout?" cried the hotel man. "Where on earth did you get
"We have a factory where we turn 'em out nights, sir," volunteered
Dave, with a grin.
"What do you want for them---same price as for the bass?" demanded
"We could hardly afford to do that, you know," Prescott replied.
"Down in a town like Gridley these brook trout ought to retail
for a dollar and a half a pound. We'll offer them to you, sir,
at sixty cents a pound---flat."
"Take 'em away!" ordered the hotel man, with an air of finality.
This time it was plain that he did not propose to purchase.
"You won't be sorry after we're gone, will you?" asked Dick politely.
"I can't afford to put sixty-cents-a-pound fish on my bill of
fare," said the hotel man.
At this moment two well-dressed, prosperous-looking, middle-aged
men came strolling around the corner of the building. As Dick
was about to cover his fish one of them caught sight of the speckled
beauties, and stopped short.
"Hello! Aren't these fine, Johnson?" the man demanded of the
proprietor. "Going to buy these trout for the hotel?"
"I can't afford to put such costly fish on the bill of fare,"
replied Johnson candidly.
"Man, you don't have to," replied the other. "Send these trout
to the grill-room ice-box. Let guests who want brook trout order
them as extras. Why, I'll eat a few of these myself, if you serve
"Certainly," nodded the other man.
Proprietor Johnson had caught a new idea from the suggestion of
serving the trout as an "extra" in the grill-room of the hotel.
All of a sudden he began to scent a profit.
"All right, young man," smiled Mr. Johnson. "Begin to unload.
I'll have the scales brought out again."
The weight proved to be a little over one hundred pounds. Dick
accepted an even sixty dollars, while Harry Hazelton nearly strangled
himself in his efforts to keep from cheering lustily.
This money, too, was counted out.
"Are you going to bring any more fish this way?" asked Mr. Johnson.
"I can hardly say as to that, sir," Dick hesitated.
"If you do, I can't agree positively to buy, but I'll be glad,
anyway, if you'll give me the first chance. I will see how these
trout 'go' in the grill-room in the meantime."
"We'll give you the first call, sir," Dick nodded. "Thank you
very much for this morning's business."
"That boy is a budding merchant," thought Johnson, staring after
Dick as the three high school boys trundled their cart away.
But in this estimate the hotel man chanced to be wrong.
"Let's hurry up and get away from the hotel---a long way off,"
"Why?" asked Dave. "It was a fine place---for us."
"Yes; but I want to yell, with all my might," Darry declared.
"Seventy-eight dollars---think of it!"
"Nothing to get excited about," Dick declared calmly.
"When did we ever make so much money in life same time before?"
"Never, perhaps," Prescott admitted. "We made money, this time,
because we had something that everyone wants, and the supply of
which isn't large. We would have made far more money if we had
had a cart full of diamonds in the rough."
"What are you talking about?" demanded Hazelton. "We don't know
where to find diamonds."
"I didn't say that we did," Dick rejoined. "But we had something
that is rare, and in demand. The rarer a thing is that everyone
wants the better price can be had for it. The bass didn't bring
anywhere near as much money as the trout, just because people
don't call for black bass as much as they will for brook trout."
They were entering the little village beyond the hotel. They
had to go there in order to mail their letters, for all the boys
had taken advantage of this opportunity to write home.
"We'll be nervous with this seventy-eight dollars in camp, in
addition to the few other dollars we have," Dave suggested.
"We won't keep a lot of money in camp," Dick replied. "I'm going
to buy a money order for seventy-five dollars, payable to myself,
and send it to my father to hold for me until we get back. Then
I'll cash the order in Gridley and turn the money into our common
"And we'll add to that fund," proposed Hazelton eagerly.
"If the bass and the trout hold out," supplemented Dick.
"Say, wouldn't it be mighty nice if only we could get some home
letters here?" asked Hazelton, as the three left the cart at the
curb and turned to enter the post-office.
"We can look for home letters on our next trip here," Dick suggested.
"On Tom's, Greg's and Dan's letters I'm going to add a note on
the outside of the envelope to the effect that letters may be
sent to this office for us. And I'm going to add a postscript
to my letter to my father and mother. You fellows had better
do the same thing."
Dick's first move was to get a money order blank and fill out
his application. Then all hands attended to their postscripts.
This done they went outside.
"There's a little grove down that street," said Dave, pointing.
"Why not go down there and take a brief nap?"
"I want a long one," Dick laughed. "Traveling over that road
was harder work than I've ever done on the football field."
Their nap lasted until a little after noon.
"Whee! But I'm hungry," grumbled Hazelton.
"I think we may feel justified in finding a restaurant, and getting
a good meal," assented Dick.
"I want a steak for mine," proposed Darry. "It seems a year since
we've had one."
"Great idea!" nodded Dick. "And, while we're about it, we'll
get steaks and some stewing meat the last thing before we leave
town and take it back to the fellows. We've had so much fish
that red meat will hit a tender spot with all the fellows."
"It will make a big hit with Tom Reade, I know," laughed Hazelton.
Pushing the cart through the street, the high school boys found
a restaurant that looked as though it would be within reach of
their purses. The boys put their cart in a back yard, then went
in and asked permission to wash up. This being granted, they
soon after took seats at a table in the restaurant.
It was an odd little place, equipped with several booths, each
containing a table and seats for four persons.
"We'll take the booth away down at the end of the room, where
we won't be seen by better-dressed people," proposed Dave.
Accordingly they occupied the last booth in the row. There they
ordered a meal that made their mouths water in advance.
Hazelton, poking his head out of the booth as he heard some one
enter, hastily drew it in again.
"Guess who's coming!" he whispered.
"Can't," replied Dick.
"Dodge and Bayliss," replied Harry.
"Keep out of sight, and don't talk," ordered Prescott.
Bert Dodge and his chum came down the room, taking the booth next
to that of the high school boys, yet without seeing Dick and his
When the waiter appeared Dodge ordered two ice creams.
"Queer what became of the mucker gang," observed Bayliss, after
the waiter had departed.
"Not a bit queer," retorted Bert. "That was why I wanted to meet
you here this morning. I've found out where they are."
"How did you find out?" demanded Bayliss.
"Do you see this post card?" demanded Bert, laying a card on the
table. "It was written by Laura Bentley to Susie Sharp, and mentions
their having had lunch at the camp of the high school muckers.
And this message gives a clear enough idea of where their camp
is, too. Laura must have dropped the card in the street, for
that's where I found it."
"Say, that's a great find!" chuckled Bayliss.
"You may wager that it is," grinned Dodge. "We broke up one night
of sleep for the muckers with those bombs, but I've an idea that
the night we shot off sixty rounds of blank shotgun shells that
they had already moved. But now I have a brand-new one that we
can use and make them break camp and run for home as fast as they
can go. Then we'll pass the story of their scare all around Gridley,
and they'll never hear the last of the laugh against them."
"I'm all attention, old fellow!" Bayliss protested eagerly.
"So are we!" thought Dick grimly, as he glanced at Dave and Harry.
A KETTLE OF HOT WATER FOR SOMEONE
It was a wonderfully elaborate scheme to which the high school
boys were privileged to listen. Such a scheme, really showed
Dodge, in a way, to be possessed of more brains than people in
Gridley commonly credited him with possessing.
But Dick smiled at Dave Darrin's scowl as the plot was unfolded
in the next booth.
Fortunately for Dick and his chums the steak order was delayed
in the serving. Thus Dodge and Bayliss finished their ice cream
and left the place without discovering the presence of their intended
"Say, aren't that pair just going to enjoy themselves at our expense?"
chuckled Hazelton, after the plotters had left.
"Unless I miss my guess, they're going to dance to our music to-night,"
laughed Dick gleefully.
Their meal was served soon after, and eaten with relish. As soon
as it had been finished Dick asked the waiter for a sheet of paper
"Don't worry about any weird doings you may hear of from our camp,"
Prescott wrote his mother. "We've just learned of a big scare
Dodge and Bayliss are planning to spring on us up at our camp.
We're going to turn the tables on them---that's all. But I write
this for fear you may hear some awful tales when that pair reach
As they left the restaurant, Dick returned to the post-office,
mailing this second letter to his mother.
"Now, we must buy a few things here," Dick explained to his friends.
"Then we must get out of this village by a back road, and we
must make sure that we don't run into that pair of ex-soreheads."
The "sorehead" reference, as readers of our "_High School Boys
Series_" will recall, had to do with Dodge and Bayliss, ere they
had been chased out of Gridley High School. These boys had belonged
to the notorious "sorehead faction" in the high school football
Going in different directions, Dick, Dave and Harry were able
to make all their needed purchases in a short time. Right after
that, they got out of the village, and back upon the rough trail
for camp without having met their enemies.
It was nearly seven o'clock when the three travelers, all but
fagged out, pushed their cart in sight of camp and gave a hail
that brought the other chums running to meet them.
First of all, word was passed as to the successful outcome of
the fish-selling expedition.
"I thought you fellows would bring us some fresh meat," Tom cried,
when Dave unloaded the cart. "Fresh vegetables, too? Wow! Won't
we live? I told the fellows not to try to get supper until you
got back, as you'd be sure to bring something that would make
us sorry we had eaten. We've the fires all ready."
"And now, listen!" commanded Dick Prescott, after the first preparations
had been made for supper.
Thereupon the young leader of Dick & Co. repeated the plot they
had heard Dodge and Bayliss unfold that noon.
"Hang those two heathens!" sputtered Tom Reade indignantly.
"Oh, I'm glad they're coming," laughed Dick. "All I hope is that
nothing will happen to keep them from coming to-night."
Then Dick outlined his plan. Tom Read, after listening for a
few moments, lay on the ground, rolling over and over in his glee.
"Wow! But won't that be great?" demanded Greg, laughing until
the tears ran from his eyes.
"Say, we mustn't talk any more now. We must eat supper, and then
get ready if we're to play the reception committee successfully
At a very early hour, considering the lateness of the evening
meal, Reade, with his knack in woodwork, and with no other tool
than his jackknife, had fashioned the stocks for two "rifles."
These Hazelton carefully treated with mud from the lake so as
to give them a dark color.
"If the guns are seen by the light of the campfire, the stocks
and barrels ought to be of different colors," Dick explained.
Dave was now fashioning two straight sticks into semblance of
rifle barrels. These were lightly treated with mud and fastened
to the two stocks. Then two additional "rifles" were to be manufactured.
Other work was performed, and all was gotten in readiness. Prescott
had a number of mysterious-looking little packages that he had
bought in the village.
"Oh, dear, but I hope nothing happens to keep Dodge and Bayliss
from coming to-night," breathed Tom, as he labored fast. "David,
little giant, hurry up with those barrels. There can be no telling
how soon we shall have to defend ourselves with these 'Quaker'
As they worked, the high school boys indulged in many a chuckle.
"It takes something like this to keep me awake to-night," Dick
yawned. "If there were no excitement coming, I'm so dead sleepy
that I could go right into dreamland standing up."
"So could I," chirped Dave. "But I manage to keep awake by enjoying
the thought of how thoroughly we'll wake up someone else tonight!"
"If our plans don't miscarry," warned Dick.
"Please don't croak about failure or disappointment," begged Tom
tragically. "My warm, impulsive young heart won't stand any
So they toiled on, their preparations all along the line taking
By ten o'clock they had everything completed, including the
manufacture of the "Quaker" rifles.
"Now, to our posts," chuckled Dick, after a rapid distribution
of things from the packages brought up from the village.
The campfire was allowed to burn low. Some light was still needed
for the full success of their plans.
Tom and Dan took up their stand in front of the tent, each armed
with a "Quaker" gun.
BERT DODGE HEARS FRIGHTFUL NEWS
Half an hour passed. At last there came the long-drawn, doleful
note of the screech owl.
It was but an amateurish imitation; an Indian would have treated
it with contempt, but it was well enough done to deceive untrained
Tom glanced at Danny Grin, smiling quietly. The imitation note
of the screech owl was a signal from Dick that Dodge and Bayliss
had arrived, and were starting their nonsense.
Still Tom did not speak of this to Dan. There could be no telling
whether Dodge or Bayliss might be within hearing already. So
Tom and Dan, gripping their quite harmless weapons, became more
alert in appearance.
It was true enough that Dodge and Bayliss were now on the scene.
They had hidden their car off at the side of the road, a mile
or more below, and had crept forward with their outfit for the
night's big scare.
Dodge carried half a dozen large hot-air balloons, which he had
made for the purpose. Under the other arm be carried a package
that looked as though it had come from a department store.
Bayliss, a broad grin on his face, carried the working parts of
a new style siren whistle, intended for automobiles, but a machinist
had succeeded in flutting some new notes and effects into the
screech of this ear-splitter.
"I hope they won't take the noise of this siren for the cry of
a screech owl," whispered Bayliss, as the pair stole stealthily
"If they do, they'll soon get over that idea, and find their real
fright up in the air," Bert Dodge whispered in response.
"I wonder how much further on their camp is, or whether we're
anywhere near it?" Bayliss asked.
"We'll soon know how close we are, for the lake can't be much
further on. I just caught sight of the water in the starlight,"
How astounded both mischief makers would have been had they known
that certain members of Dick & Co. were even now trailing them.
"There's the tent!" whispered Dodge suddenly, checking his Companion,
as they came to a spot on the slope where they could see the white
of the canvas faintly displayed by the glow from a dying campfire.
"Two of them are about, too!" muttered Bayliss disgustedly.
"Then they're all the more certain to see what they're going to
see soon," chuckled his companion. "Only we must work quickly."
Bayliss separated one of the balloons from the string held by
Bert. The package was opened and from it Bayliss took and fitted
over the balloon enough filmy gauze to cover it to a length of
six or seven feet. Tying a longer string to the balloon, Bayliss
allowed the white, filmy mass to soar upward. When the balloon
had reached a height of twenty feet above the near-by tree tops,
Bayliss made it fast to a tree trunk. Then he and Dodge skipped
hastily to a point some eighty yards away, where they speedily
sent up another. In a very short time all six balloons were flying
on the night air, each with its trail of white fleecy stuff hanging
"They do look like ghosts flying in the air, don't they?" demanded
"Not to me," muttered Bert. "But that's because I know what they're
"Let's hustle now with the rest," urged Bayliss.
"Right you are," agreed Bert.
They hurried along, going a bit nearer to the camp, until Dodge
pointed to a tangle of bushes.
"That'll be a good place to hide with the siren. You get in there
with it, but don't start it until about sixty seconds after you
hear the big noise. Then I'll hustle right back here to you."
"Don't let any of Dick Prescott's friends catch you," urged Bayliss,
who would have gasped had he known that at that moment two of
them crouched close enough to hear every word.
Now Bert hastened down the slope, carrying a fireworks' bomb very
much like those that he and Bayliss had set off on the opposite
side of the lake on another evening long to be remembered.
Treading cautiously, Bert reached a point not far distant from
the doorway of the camp tent. Here, crouching in the screening
bushes, Bert placed the bomb in position. It was only a fireworks'
bomb of the kind used on Fourth of July nights. It was harmless
enough to one who stood more than thirty feet from it.
"The fuse will burn a minute before it goes off," murmured Bert
to himself. "That will give me almost time to reach Bayliss before
the big noise comes. The noise will bring them all out of the
tent. Then the remainder of our programme will do the rest."
But, even as Bert reached for the match with which to touch off
the fuse he heard Dalzell call in a voice audible at the distance:
"Look at those things up in the air, Tom!"
"He has sighted our 'ghosts,'" laughed Bert to himself.
"They must be some sort of signal kites, flown by the moonshiners,"
answered Reade in an interested tone.
"Kites! Is that what he takes our ghosts for?" wondered Bert
Dodge in deep disgust.
But the mention of the word "moonshiners" gave the listener a
start. In a general way he knew that "moonshiner" is the term
applied to men who try to cheat the United States Revenue Service
by distilling liquors on which they pay no tax. Bert had heard
that moonshiners are deadly men, indeed, and that they make little
of shooting down the government officers who are sent to ferret
out their hiding places and arrest them.
"I wish we hadn't run into those moonshiners," said Danny, rather
dolefully. "And I wish Dick hadn't thought it necessary to go
and send word to the United States authorities. I'm afraid there's
going to be an awful row here to-night."
"What's that?" wondered Bert, pricking up his ears.
"I rather wish Dick hadn't been in such an awful rush," Tom admitted
slowly. "Anyway, we fellows should have gotten out of here and
left it to the marshals to have it all their own way. I'm afraid
there is going to be a big fight to-night, and these old woods
may be full of humming bullets. And I'm worried about Dick, too,
going off as guide to the marshals. There were only eight of
the marshals, and, even with four of our fellows, they still have
to face nearly twenty of the moonshiners---and I'll wager that
the moonshiners are all desperate fighters."
"Oh, dear!" wailed Danny Grin.
Bert Dodge's face was a study. With the prospect of a running
fight between United States' marshals and desperate moonshiners
about to take place, these woods seemed likely to be anything
but a safe place.
"At least, the marshals did a decent thing in leaving us rifles
here to protect ourselves with," Dan Dalzell continued.
Raising his head, Bert took a long look at the camp. Not far
away stood Tom Reade, the outlines of a rifle in his grasp showing
very distinctly. Dalzell was over nearer the shadow of the tent,
yet Bert made sure that Dalzell had a rifle also.
"Gracious! There is likely to be real enough trouble in the woods
to-night!" muttered Bert. "Those boys didn't have guns when they
left Gridley. The authorities have probably furnished them."
Just then a popping fire rang out further up the lake slope.
"There it goes!" almost yelled Danny Grin. "The marshals have
run into the moonshiners. The fight is on. Oh, I hope none of
our fellows are being hit!"
Certainly the firing continued briskly. Dodge forgot all about
lighting the fuse of the fireworks' bomb.
Instead, he crouched low, then darted from the bushes, running
as fast as he could to the point where he had left his companion.
"In here!" chuckled Bayliss gleefully. "I didn't know you had
anything with you but the bomb, Bert."
"That's all I did have," whispered Dodge, white-faced. "Hustle
out of here, Bayliss!"
"What's the matter?"
"Hear that firing?"
"I thought you had been setting off fire crackers, Bert."
"Fire crackers nothing!" ejaculated Bert, his face ghastly. "Man
alive, that's a fight going on up the slope between United States
officers and a lot of desperate moonshiners! There goes the firing
Bayliss heard it; he couldn't help that.
Then still nearer rang out the firing.
"We've got to get out of here as fast as our legs will take us,"
Bert insisted. "Hustle before the bullets reach us."
At that moment Dave Darrin broke from cover, running as fast as
his legs could carry him. As he raced toward camp Darrin called:
"Reade! Danny! This is Darrin. Get ready to run or fight.
It's a fearful affair. Four of the marshals were down when I
left, and Dick Prescott is done for, too! Oh, it's fearful!
There won't be any of the government party left!"
Apparent terror rang in Darrin's voice as he ran forward flourishing
his "Quaker" rifle.
"Great Scott!" groaned Bayliss, trying to rise and run, though
his legs shook under him.
"Buck up! Don't be a coward!" hissed Dodge, seizing his companion
by the arm. "Come on! Run for it---before we're hit."
Thus the two made their escape, running, stumbling through the
woods, heading blindly for the spot where they had left their
Back of them fresh sounds of firing rang out. How could the frightened,
dazed fugitives know that it was Dick Prescott, pursuing, and
dropping lighted strings of fire crackers as he ran?
"It's a running fight, and coming right our way!" gasped Bert.
"Let's drop down and crawl to safety!" almost screamed Bayliss.
"No, you don't!" retorted Dodge angrily. "Our only safety lies
in getting into that car and throwing the engine wide open. I
don't care if we wreck the car if only we can cover a couple of
miles of ground first. Run! Hustle!"
Had he suffered from a little keener fear, Bayliss would have
collapsed utterly. As it was, fear lent him extra speed. He
fairly tore over the ground, darting through bushes, plunging
on in headlong haste. Bert kept with him.
"We'll soon be all right," cried Dodge encouragingly. "Now,
jump right across the road. Our car is in there, and headed the
Just as they reached the car and Bert's pale face showed right
in front of the headlights a third figure dashed up.
Harry Hazelton, his head swathed in a red-stained bandage, and
what appeared to be blood dripping from his left arm, sprang at
them, the butt of his rifle showing, but its barrel wrapped in
A FRENZIED RIDE TO SAFETY
"Wait!" gasped Hazelton. "You've got to take me, too."
"Not much," hissed Bayliss, his voice trembling. "This car is
built only for two."
"You've got to take me, I tell you," Harry insisted, his voice
trembling. "Do you think I'm going to be left behind?"
"This car is built for-----" Bayliss started to insist again.
"Then you will stay behind, Bayliss, at that rate," Harry retorted.
"Remember, I am able to enforce my wishes. Do I go, too?"
Bert had started the engine, and now sprang in at the wheel.
Hazelton leaped in also, taking the other seat.
Bayliss, quivering in every muscle, leaped in, crouching between
"I see that you've decided to come along with us," mocked Harry.
"Hang you!" snarled Bayliss. "If you didn't have that gun we'd
see about it."
"Start her, fast, Dodge!" ordered Harry.
With a roar of the engine the car lurched forward.
"What happened to the others in your crowd?" asked Bert in a weak
voice, as he steered carefully down the rough road.
"All flat---all five of 'em!" affirmed Harry, but be neglected
to state that his five chums were lying on the ground, rolling
over in their mirth.
"None of 'em got away, then, but you?" chattered Bayliss.
"Do you think I'd let you take this car away from here?" demanded
Hazelton indignantly, "if there were any more of our fellows to
get away from here? What would you fellows count for if it were
necessary to save more of my friends?"
"It must have been a fearful fight," shivered Dodge.
"It was," said Harry grimly, striving with all his might to keep
from bursting out in laughter. "I never had any idea that a gun
fight was such an awful thing!"
"Prescott got his, then?" asked Bayliss.
"All five of my friends," replied Hazelton, in a choking voice.
"And I've some traces of the fight to show myself."
"How badly bit are you?" demanded Dodge.
"I'll last all right until I get to Gridley," Harry predicted,
"if you fellows don't keep me talking too much."
"I didn't intend going to Gridley to-night," Dodge replied.
"Yes, you will," Hazelton replied firmly. "I must go to Gridley.
You drive straight there. I'll hold you responsible, if you
Bert began to believe that he _would_ be held accountable if he
failed to take Hazelton to Gridley, so he gave in without protest.
At any rate, both Dodge and Bayliss wanted to get as far as possible
from the recent "horror," and as speedily as they could do it.
"There's no chance of our being attacked on the road to Gridley?"
asked Bayliss by and by, in a quavering voice.
"No," replied Hazelton. "The lake will be between us and the
It was rough going most of the way. Hazelton was disinclined
to talk. Bayliss' nerves were too shattered for him to feel like
indulging in conversation. Dodge, white-faced, his cap pulled
well down over his eyes, showed all that he knew about running
a car carefully and as speedily as was possible over such rough
It was after two o'clock in the morning when the car turned into
the stretch of Main Street, Gridley.
"We'll go to the police station with the fearful news," proposed
"No, we won't," retorted Hazelton. "We'll go to the 'Blade' office.
Mr. Pollock, the editor, is one of Dick's best friends, and he'll
know better than anyone else in town what ought to be done."
So with hands that trembled Bert drove the car up in front of
the "Morning Blade" office. All three leaped out, Dodge and Bayliss
eager to get into the glow of lights and among human beings.
As Harry's feet struck the sidewalk he remembered his character
as a wounded man and tried to totter up the steps in a realistic
In the "Blade" building the press was rumbling busily as the inside
pages of the paper were being run off.
Mr. Pollock, all alone in the editorial part of the plant, looked
up in astonishment as the ghastly-hued Dodge and Bayliss appeared.
The editor's feeling turned to consternation when he saw Hazelton's
seemingly pitiable condition.
"Hazelton, what can have happened?" gasped the editor, leaping
to his feet.
"Take me into another room!" pleaded Harry. "You two fellows,"
indicating Bert and his chum, "stay out here."
Though he didn't guess the answer, Mr. Pollock led young Hazelton
into the mailing room and turned on the light there.
"Sh-h-h!" warned Hazelton, his face lighting up impishly. "Dodge
and Bayliss tried to play a trick on Dick & Co. and Prescott has
turned the laugh on them."
"But these blood-stained bandages?" questioned the astounded editor.
"It's stuff that is used for coloring strawberry ice cream. Dick
bought it at a store. Looks like the real thing, doesn't it?"
"It looked real enough to give me a bad turn," admitted the editor
Then, in whispers, Harry told the story as rapidly as he could.
Mr. Pollock's face took on a broader grin as he listened.
"I'd hate to have young Prescott for my enemy," confessed the
"Blade's" editor. "But this is the most atrocious joke I've ever
known him to put up."
"We had to put a stop to Dodge and Bayliss," Harry smiled. "Perhaps
you'd better go back to Dodge and Bayliss, now---but please don't
let 'em know that it's all a joke."
"I won't spoil the thing," promised the editor, and hastened out.
"I'll be with you in just a minute, gentlemen," nodded Mr. Pollock
to Dodge and Bayliss, as he entered the editorial room, then sprang
into the telephone closet, closing the door after him.
Mr. Pollock telephoned the sheriff of the county, and also the
officer in charge at the Gridley police station, giving the officials
a hint of the joke at the second lake, so they wouldn't rush away
on a fool's errand in case the wild story reached their ears.
"Now I'll listen to what you two may have to tell me," announced
Mr. Pollock, coming out of the telephone closet. "Then I'll have
to ask you to hurry away, as Hazelton will have to be attended
to and many things done. Talk fast, if you please."
Dodge and Bayliss poured out what they knew of the night's business.
"And how did you two happen to be there?" inquired Mr. Pollock.
"Oh, we---we---we were touring in that part of the country, and
were fixing a break-down when Hazelton came running up," stammered
"It was fortunate, indeed, for Hazelton, that you had that break-down,"
replied the editor. Then his manner showed Dodge and Bayliss
that it was time for them to go. Both were glad to get out of
the "Blade" office, for they feared to stand too much questioning
from one as keen as the newspaper man.