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Young Hunters of the Lake by Ralph Bonehill

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Out with Rod and Gun

By Captain Ralph Bonehill


I. Four Lively Boys
II. Swimming, and What Followed
III. A Trick That Failed
IV. The Story of a Ghost
V. A Fourth of July Celebration
VI. Preparing for the Grand Outing
VII. At the Boathouse
VIII. How Two Prowlers Were Treated
IX. The First Day of the Outing
X. The Story of a Strange Disappearance
XI. A Search for a Rowboat
XII. The Camp on Lake Cameron
XIII. In the Camp of the Enemy
XIV. Delayed by a Storm
XV. Lost in the Swamp
XVI. The Rescue of Giant
XVII. On Lake Narsac at Last
XVIII. The Old Hermit's Tale
XIX. A Dangerous Deer Hunt
XX. The Mysterious Voice
XXI. In Which the Enemy Appears Again
XXII. A Lively Time in the Dark
XXIII. The Loss of the Raft
XXIV. Out on a Sand Bar
XXV. Jed Sanborn Brings News
XXVI. A Hunt After Wildcats
XXVII. Into a Bears' Den
XVIII. The Caves in the Mountain
XXIX. Visited by the Ghost
XXX. The Secret of the Mysterious Voice
XXXI. The Last of the Ghost---Conclusion


My Dear Lads:

This story is complete in itself but forms volume three of a line
known under the general title of "Boy Hunters Series," and taking
in adventures in the field, the forest, and on the river and lake,
both in winter and summer.

The boys of these stories are bright, wide-awake lads of to-day, with
a taste for rod and shotgun, and a life in the open air. They know a
good deal about fishing and how to shoot, and camp life is no new
thing to them. In the first volume, entitled, "_Four Boy Hunters_,"
they organize a little club of four members and go forth for a
summer vacation. They have such good times that, when Winter comes
on, they resolve to go camping again, and do so, as related in the
second volume, called "_Guns and Snowshoes_." In that story they
fall victims to a blizzard, and spend a most remarkable Christmas;
but, of course, all ends happily.

In the present story, summer is once more at hand, and again the boy
hunters venture forth, this time bound for a large lake a good many
miles from their home town. They have a jolly cruise on the water,
fall in with a very peculiar old hermit, and are molested not a
little by some rivals. They likewise follow up two bears, and are
treated to a ghost scare calculated to make anybody's hair stand on
end. What the ghost proved to be I leave the pages which follow
to reveal.

As I have said before, good hunting, especially in our eastern
states, is fast becoming a thing of the past. In some sections only
small game can be had and even then the eager hunter has to travel
many miles sometimes for a shot.

Trusting that all boys who love the woods and waters, a rod, a gun
and a restful camp will enjoy reading this volume, I remain,

Your sincere friend, Captain Ralph Bonehill.



"Boys, I'm going swimming. Who is going along?"

"Count me in, Snap," answered Shep Reed.

"Swimming?" came from a third youth of the crowd of four. "Why, you
couldn't keep me away if you tried. I've been waiting for a swim
for about eleven years-----"

"And a day," broke in a small, stout youth. "Don't forget the day,
Whopper, if you want to be really truthful.

"All right, put in the day," cheerfully assented the lad called
Whopper, because of his propensity to exaggerate when speaking. "Of
course you'll go, too, Giant?" he added, questioningly.

"Will I?" answered the small youth. "Will a duck swim and a cow eat
clover? To be sure I'll go. But I'll have to run home first and
tell mother."

"I'll have to go home, too," said the lad called Snap. "But I can be
back here in a quarter of an hour."

"Where shall we go?" asked Shep Reed.

"I was thinking of going up to Lane's Cove," answered Snap Dodge.

"Lane's Cove!" cried the smallest youth of the crowd.

"Yes. Isn't that a nice place?"

"Sure it is, but don't you know that Ham Spink's father has bought
all the land around there?"

"What of that, Giant?"

"Maybe he won't let us go swimming on his property---because of
the trouble we had with Ham."

"Oh, I don't believe he'll see us," came from the boy called Whopper.
"Why, I've been swimming at the cove a thousand times, and nobody
ever tried to stop me."

"If he orders us away we can go," said Shep Reed. "I know he is just
mean enough to do it."

"Is Ham home yet?" asked one of the boys.

"No, but I heard he was going to come home as soon as that boarding
school shut up for the summer."

"Wonder if he'll try to make more trouble?"

"If he does he'd better watch out, or he'll get into hot water,"
said Shep Reed; and then the boys separated, to get their swimming
outfits and tell their folks what they proposed to do.

The boys lived in the town of Fairview, a country place, located
on the Rocky River, about ten miles above a fine sheet of water
called Lake Cameron. The town boasted of a score of stores, several
churches, a hotel, and a neat railroad station at which, during
the summer months, as high as ten trains stopped daily. On the
outskirts of the town were a saw mill, a barrel factory, and several
other industries.

To those who have read the two former books in this series, entitled,
"_Four Boy Hunters_" and "_Guns and Snowshoes_," the lads getting
ready for a swim will need no special introduction. The lad called
Snap was Charley Dodge, the son of one of the most influential
men of that neighborhood, who was a school trustee and also part
owner of the saw mill and a large summer hotel. Charley was a
brave and wide-awake youth and was often looked up to as a leader
by the others. Where his nickname of Snap had originated it would
be hard to say, although he was as full of snap and ginger as a shad
is full of bones.

Sheppard Reed, always called Shep for short, was the son of a
well-known physician, a boy who loved outdoor life, and one who was
as strong as he was handsome. He and Snap had been chums for many
years, and as a consequence were occasionally known as the twins,
although they were no relation to each other.

Frank Dawson had moved to Fairview about three years before this tale
opens. He was a merry lad, with laughing eyes, and his method of
exaggerating had speedily gained for him the nickname of Whopper. But
Frank was withal a truthful lad his "whoppers" being of the sort meant
to deceive nobody. Even his mother could not make him give up his
extravagant speech. Once when she spoke about it he gravely replied:

"I know it is wrong, mother, but I simply can't stop it. Why, I've
made up my mind over a million times to---" And then he broke down,
and his mother had to laugh in spite of herself.

The smallest lad of the four was Will Caslette, always called Billy
or Giant. He was the son of a widow lady, who owned a small but
neat cottage on one of the side streets of the town. Mrs. Caslette
thought the world of her offspring and Giant was fully worthy of
the affection she bestowed upon him. Although small in size he was
manly in his deportment, and at school he was as bright as any one in
his class.

About a year before, the four boys had organized an outing or gun
club and obtained permission to go camping for a few weeks in the
vicinity of Lake Cameron. They reached the lake after several
adventures and settled down in a comfortable camp, from which,
however, they were driven by a saw mill owner named Andrew Felps,
who ran a rival concern to that in which Snap's father owned an
interest. The young hunters then moved to Firefly Lake, a mile
away, and there hunted and fished to their hearts' content. They
were frequently joined by old Jed Sanborn, a trapper who lived in
the mountains between the lakes. They had some trouble with Ham
Spink, a dudish young man of the town, who established a rival camp
not far off, and they came close to perishing during a disastrous
forest fire.

The summer outing made the boys hungry for more, and as soon as
the winter holidays were at hand they made arrangements to go
into the woods again, this time taking their outfits on sleds.
They had with them their snowshoes, and found the latter articles
very useful when out after game. They fixed up a comfortable
camp, and rescued a half-frozen tramp. But the tramp did not
appreciate what had been done for him and ran away with some of
their things, which brought on a lively pursuit. Then the boys
had more trouble with Ham Spink and his crony, Carl Dudder. In
the end it was discovered that Ham and Carl had gotten the tramp
to annoy the young hunters, and as a result Mr. Spink and Mr.
Dudder had to foot some heavy bills for their sons. Ham and Carl
were sent off to a strict boarding school, where their parents
hoped they would turn over a new leaf. Snap and his chums came
back home loaded down with game.

"The best outing ever!" declared more than one of the boys.

"We'll have to go again!"

"Yes, indeed!"

And then and there they began to plan what to do during the next

"I've got an idea," said Snap, one day, during the spring. "Why
not get a good boat---one that will stand some hard knocks---and
go through Lake Cameron and Firefly Lake to Lake Narsac? Jed
Sanborn was telling me that was a fine place for hunting and fishing,
and the lake is as clear as crystal."

"It's an awfully wild place, so I was told," said Shep.

"About a million snakes up there, so I once heard," put in Whopper.
"Snakes are so thick you have to kick 'em out of your way to walk

"Excuse me, I don't want any snakes," answered Giant, with a shiver.

"Somebody once told me the lake was haunted," said Snap. "But of
course that wouldn't scare us---we are not afraid of ghosts, are we?"

"No!" came from all of the others promptly.

"The ghost that tries to scare me will get his ear pinched," added
Giant, and said this so drolly that all had to laugh.

"One thing is sure," said Shep, after a pause, "with fish, game,
snakes and ghosts we'd certainly find enough to interest us, eh?"

"Is the lake very deep?" asked Giant.

"Jed Sanborn told me that you can't touch bottom in some places,"
answered Snap. "The lake lies right between three tall mountains.
He said we might have to carry our boat around some of the rocks
in the stream leading to it."

"Well, we can do that to---providing the boat isn't too heavy."

This talk led to many others, and in the end it was decided that
the four boys should start on the trip the week following the
Fourth of July. Then commenced active preparations. Guns were
cleaned, camping outfits overhauled, and the lads looked around
for just the right boat in which to make the trip. Through Mr.
Dodge a fine, strong craft was obtained; and then the lads waited
impatiently for the day to come when they should begin the outing
on the lake. They anticipated some adventures, but did not dream
of the curious happenings in store for them.



Lane's Cove was situated almost a mile from Fairview, but the four
boys did not think anything of walking that distance. All were
good pedestrians, for their numerous outings had hardened their
muscles and given them good lung power. Even little Giant trudged
along as swiftly as the rest and even suggested a race when they
came in sight of the spot selected by Snap for the afternoon's fun.

"No, don't run---you'll get overheated," said Whopper. "When
I run I sweat like a house afire."

"Sweating like a house afire is good!" murmured Giant, with a
grin. "Now if you had only said sweat like a stone, or a piece
of iron, all of us would have known what you meant. As it is---"
And then he stopped and ducked, to escape the piece of dried mud
Whopper playfully shied at him.

The cove reached, the boys speedily found a spot that suited them.
It was at a point where some overhanging bushes and trees sheltered
a strip of sandy shore. At one point a rock ran out into the river,
making an excellent place from which to dive.

The lads hustled into the bushes and in a very few minutes Snap
appeared in his bathing outfit and was followed by Shep.

"Beat you in!" cried the doctor's son, but hardly had he spoken
when Snap made a leap and landed into the river with a loud splash.
Shep came after him, and both disappeared under the surface, to come
up a second later, thrashing around wildly.

"Whew! it isn't so warm as I thought!" ejaculated Shep. "No Turkish
bath about this!" And he gave a slight shiver.

"You'll soon get used to it," replied Snap. "It's always the first
plunge that takes the breath out of a fellow."

Giant came in next, diving from the rock. Whopper followed more
slowly, putting in first one foot and then the other.

"Moses in the bulrushes!" he gasped. "Say, this water is about
half ice, isn't it?" And he drew back again.

"Whopper, you know better than to go in that way," remonstrated Snap.
"Wet your face and then go in head first---it's the only right way.
If you go in by inches you'll gasp fit to turn your liver over."

Very gingerly Whopper wet his face. As the water ran down his
backbone he let out another yell.

"Don't know as I'll go in," he observed. "I thought it would be
much warmer."

"Oh, yes, come in," urged Snap.

In the meantime Shep had come to shore and crawled out, behind
some bushes. Softly he crept up behind Whopper. Then came a
sudden shove, and over went Frank with a loud yell and a splash
that sent the spray in all directions. Before he came up Shep was
out of sight behind a tree.

"Say, wh---who---" spluttered Whopper, as he came up and gazed
around half angrily. Then he caught sight of a shoulder back of
the tree. "Come out of that, and let me give you something to
remember me by!" And he struck out for shore.

But Shep had no intention of being caught, and as Whopper came out
he sprang in. Then Frank came after him, and a race ensued, in
which Snap and Giant joined. The rapid swimming warmed all the
boys, and then they declared the water "just O.K.," as Snap expressed
it. Whopper watched his chance to get even with Shep, and when the
other was not looking, dove down and caught the doctor's son by
the foot. Shep was just shouting to Giant and had his mouth wide
open, and as a consequence swallowed a lot of water. When he and
Whopper came up they indulged in a splashing contest lasting several

"What's the matter with swimming across the river?" suggested Snap,

"It's a pretty good distance," answered Giant. "And you must
remember the current is rather swift."

"I'll go, Snap," said Shep, who was always ready to follow his "twin."

"I don't think I'll try it to-day," put in Whopper. "I'll stay on
this side with Giant. If you find anything good to eat over there
bring it along," he added.

"Might find some berries," said Snap.

At this point the river, from the outer edge of the cove, was
about a hundred yards wide. The boys had frequently swum across,
so Snap's proposal to go over was nothing unusual. Side by side
the boys started out and took their time. They did not attempt
to stem the current but allowed it to carry them down the river
for several hundred feet. They landed where there was an old
orchard, backed up by a large strawberry patch.

"No apples ripe around here," said Snap, as he and his chum walked
up the river bank, to a point opposite where they had left Giant
and Whopper.

"Let us go over to the strawberry patch," suggested Shep. "We
may find some strawberries worth eating."

As nobody was in sight, the proposition was readily accepted,
and the boys picked their way carefully along, for they had no
desire to hurt their bare feet. Reaching the patch, they began
a hunt and soon discovered a corner where the berries were thick
and sweet.

"Say, this is prime!" observed the doctor's son, smacking his lips.
"This would suit Giant and Whopper to a T!"

"Wonder if we can carry any over to them, Shep?"

"I don't see why not. A little water won't hurt them. In fact
they ought to be washed, they are that full of sand."

"Who owns this patch?"

"Old Tom Ashenbury."

"Well, we had better keep out of his sight, or he'll be after us with
his gun. Don't you remember how he chased us once, when we were
walking through his peach orchard?"

"Indeed I do. But we are doing little harm here. In a few days
all these berries will be rotten. I guess he has given up picking

In moving around the boys had found a couple of old berry baskets,
and these they now proceeded to fill. The task was about half
completed when Snap suddenly straightened up.

"What was that?" he asked.

"What?" demanded his chum.

"I thought I heard a cry from across the river."

Both listened, but nothing came to their ears.

"You must have been mistaken," said the doctor's son, and resumed
his work of picking strawberries.

"No use of picking more," said Snap, a few minutes later. "We'll
be lucky to get over with these. Perhaps we'll drop half of them,
trying to swim."

"Hi, look there!" shouted his companion, and pointed across the field
in the direction of the river.

A flock of sheep had suddenly appeared, some fifteen or twenty in
number. At the head was a large ram, who gazed in wonder at the two
boys in their bathing outfits.

"Say, that ram means business!" ejaculated Snap, an instant later.
"We had better clear out of here."

"Come on, I'm willing," responded the doctor's son, and started
for the stream, carrying the basket of strawberries in one hand.

"Let us go up the stream," went on Snap. "No use of getting too
close to him. I don't like his looks."

Both boys had good cause to feel alarmed, for the ram was coming
toward them on a trot. Once or twice he stopped and pawed the
ground, but then he came on, and they could see he meant to attack

"He's coming for us!"

"Can we reach the river!"

"We must reach it!"

Then the two boys broke into a run, giving no further heed to the
fact that the ground was uneven and that their feet were bare. They
had heard stories of vicious rams many times, and knew that only the
year before a girl had been almost mauled to death by such an animal.

They had still fifty yards to cover when Snap went into a hole and
pitched headlong. Shep was directly behind him, and over he went
on top of his chum, crushing one of the baskets of strawberries
between them. The other basket was scattered in all directions over
the ground.

"There go our berries," grumbled Snap. "Too bad!"

"Get up!" roared Shep, scrambling to his feet. "Here comes the ram,
and he's as wild as they make 'em!"

He caught his chum by the arm, and both tried to go on. But Snap's
ankle had received a bad wrench and he was forced to limp.

The boys had to pass a low shed, used occasionally for the storage of
fruit and baskets. As they reached this the ram came up and lowered
his head.

"Jump for the shed!" yelled Shep, and caught hold of the roof of the
structure. He scrambled to the top and gave his chum a hand. Then
on came the ram and hit the side of the frail building a resounding
whack with his head. Snap escaped by less than a foot; and then
both boys stood upright on the top of the shed wondering what they
had best do next.



"We are in a pickle, Snap."

"It certainly looks like it, Shep."

"How long do you suppose that ram is going to keep us here?"

"I don't know---maybe you'd better ask him."

"I wouldn't feel quite so bad if I had on my, regular clothing
and my shoes. But with this thin outfit---"

"Here he comes again!" was the cry, and crash! the head of the
ram struck the shed once more, causing it to tremble greatly.

"I really think he's trying to knock the old thing down!" was
the comment of the doctor's son.

The boys tried to look across the river, but could not because of
a heavy clump of bushes growing between the shed and the water's edge.
They heard a distant cry and wondered what it meant.

"I believe that is Giant and Whopper calling," said Snap.

"More than likely they are tired of waiting for us. Maybe they
are dressing."

A few of the sheep had come up and were gazing curiously at the
boys and the ram. Then the ram commenced to walk around the shed,
viewing it speculatively from all sides.

"Looks like a warrior, doesn't he?" said Shep. "Wish I had a
brickbat to throw at him."

"Here's a short board!" cried Snap, and tore off a piece that was
partly loose. "I wish I could reach him with this."

"Wait, I'll coax him over," answered the doctor's son, and put down
a leg over the edge of the roof. At once the ram charged, and as
he did this Snap threw the board at him, hitting him in the side.
This so surprised the animal that he turned and ran away a distance
of several rods.

"Now is our chance! Come!" yelled Snap, and leaped from the roof
of the shed on the river side. His chum followed, and once again
the pair put for the stream with all speed. They kept out of
sight of the ram as much as possible and he did not see them until
they were almost at the water's edge. Before he could come up they
dove into the stream and swam out several yards.

"Say, that's what I call a narrow shave!" cried Shep, when he and
his chum realized that the danger was over. "I want nothing more
to do with that ram."

"It's a pity we lost the strawberries," returned Snap. "However,
it can't be helped."

The two boys were soon well out in the river and they looked anxiously
over to the cove. Nothing was to be seen of Giant and Whopper.

"They must be behind the bushes dressing," said Snap. "Hello!"
he yelled. "Hello! Where are you?"

No answer was returned, and the doctor's son joined in the cry. Then
both boys pulled a more hasty stroke and soon got to a point where
they could wade ashore.

"It can't be possible they went home," said Snap, as he gazed around
in perplexity.

"We'll soon see," was the answer, and the doctor's son ran to the
bushes where the clothing had been left. "Well, I never!" he cried.

"Why, all the clothing is gone!

"Yes, their clothing and ours too!

"Do you think they've played a trick on us?"

"No, they wouldn't be so mean."

"But where are they, and where is our clothing?"

"I don't know."

In deep perplexity the two chums looked around that vicinity. No
trace of Giant or Whopper was to be found and the only article of
wearing apparel they could discover was a blue-and-white sock.

"That's Giant's sock," said Snap. "And that proves something
is wrong. He wouldn't go away and leave his own sock behind."

"True enough, Snap, but what do you think happened?"

"I don't know, unless they caught somebody in the act of running
off with our duds and ran after them."

"Let us call again."

This they did, using the full power of their lungs. Soon an answering
cry came back, and Whopper appeared on the river bank above them,
followed by Giant. Each carried a bundle of clothing under his arm
and some shoes in his hand.

"Well, what does this mean?" demanded the doctor's son, as the others
drew closer.

"You're fine fellows to stay away so long," grumbled Giant.

"We called to you about a million times that we wanted help," put
in Whopper.

"Well, we've had our troubles of our own," answered Snap. "A big,
angry ram came after us and held us prisoners for awhile. But what
happened here? Did somebody run away with our outfits."

"Yes, and we had a great time getting them again," answered Whopper.

"We had to run after the chaps barefooted," came from Giant.
"Just look at my feet," and he showed how they had been cut and

"Who were they?" demanded the doctor's son.

"We don't know exactly, but we've got our suspicions," answered the
small boy.

"There were two of them," said Whopper. "Both good-sized fellows.
We didn't hear them until they had all the clothes in their arms
and were running away. As soon as they heard us coming both threw
their coats up over their heads, so we wouldn't recognize them.
They would have gotten away sure only Giant yelled that he would
fire a pistol at them if they didn't stop and then they, got scared
and dropped the clothing in a ditch."

"And who do you think they were?" asked Snap.

"Ham Spink and Carl Dudder."

"Why, they aren't home from boarding school yet!" cried Shep.

"I don't care, that's what I think," said Giant, sturdily. "I know
just how those fellows look and walk. Of course I didn't see their
faces, but I am pretty sure they were Ham and Carl."

"They may have gotten home during the last day or two," said Snap,
slowly, "and it would be just like them to lay around waiting to
play some mean trick on us. If they had gotten off with our clothing
we'd have been in a fine pickle truly!"

"That's right---worse than with the ram," answered the doctor's son,
and then he and Snap told of what had occurred on the other side
of the river.

"Too bad you lost those strawberries," sighed Whopper. "I like
strawberries so much I could eat about-----"

"A million platesful," finished Snap, with a grin.

"No, I was going to say a spoonful or two," said Whopper, and
then Snap groaned.

The boys found two socks, a collar and a necktie missing, and
a long search around failed to bring the articles to light. One
of the undershirts had been knotted up tightly, and Shep had to
"chaw on the beef," as boys call it, to get the knots untied.

"I'd like to know if it really was Ham and Carl," he growled. "If it
was I'll fix them for this new trick of theirs."

"How were they dressed?" asked Snap.

"Each wore a brown suit, kind of yellow brown," answered Whopper.
"I'd know 'em out of a million.

"We'll lay for them, Whopper."

Having donned their clothing, the four boys started back for town.
To get to the road they had to cross a wide pasture, and when
they were in the middle of this they saw a man approaching. The
man carried a heavy cane, which he shook at them.

"Hello, it's Mr. Spink!" cried Snap.

"Come to warn us away, I suppose," grumbled the doctor's son. "Shall
I tell him about what was done to our clothing?"

"No," answered Whopper. "We are not certain it was Ham and Carl."

Mr. Spink was a tall, overbearing man, who dressed almost as loudly
as did his son. He strode up to the four lads with a dark look
on his face, and this look grew even more resentful when he recognized

"Ha! so you are going to come here in spite of my warnings, eh?"
he said, harshly.

"You haven't warned us or anything, Mr. Spink," answered Snap, calmly.

"Can't you read? Doesn't the sign say, 'All trespassing forbidden'?
That is plain English, isn't it?"

"I haven't seen any sign," said Shep

"Because you didn't want to see it, young man!"

"We have only been down to the cove swimming," put in Giant.

"This land is mine now, and I want you boys to keep off of it,"
exclaimed Mr. Spink, hotly. "If I catch you on it again I'll have
you arrested."

"We'll get off as soon as we can," answered Snap. And then he
added suddenly: "Is Ham home?"

"You mean my son Hamilton, I presume? Yes, he is home. What
do you want of him?"

"Nothing, just now. But we may want something later," answered
Snap, and started again for the road, his chums following.



"I say, what do you want of my son Hamilton?" repeated Mr. Spink,
coming after the boys with a look of curiosity on his face.

"We want to see him," replied Snap, after a look at his chums.

"What about?"

"We think he played us a mean trick," put in Whopper, as Snap

"Oh, I thought that affair was a thing of the past," said Mr.
Spink, loftily. "My son was not to blame so much as that tramp.
The tramp told a string of falsehoods---"

"We don't mean that, Mr. Spink," spoke up Giant. "We mean a trick
Ham and his friend, Carl Dudder, played on us this afternoon."

"Humph! You ahem!---you must be mistaken."

"If we are we won't say anything," said Whopper. "But if he did
play the trick---"

"We'll get square with him for it," finished Shep.

"What are you talking about anyway?" demanded the rich man. "I
don't see why you can't leave my son alone."

"We will---if he'll leave us alone," said Snap.

"What do you accuse him of?"

"While we were swimming two fellows came up, took our clothes, and
tried to run away with them," came from Giant. "We are pretty
sure the fellows were Ham and Carl. When we went after them they
dropped the clothes in a hurry. Two socks, a collar, and a necktie
are missing."

"Yes, and my undershirt was full of knots," grumbled the doctor's son.
"Just wait till I catch the fellows who did that---I'll show 'em!"

"Humph! is that all?" growled Mr. Spink. "I imagine you are
only making up this tale to get my son into difficulties,---just
because you know I will not permit you to come here to swim.
Now clear out, and be quick about it,---and don't ever come here
again." And having thus delivered himself he shook his heavy cane
at them, turned on his heel, and walked, away.

"He's a gentleman, I must say," declared Snap, when Mr. Spink was
out of hearing. "A person can easily see where Ham gets his arrogant

"Yes, and he'll stick up for Ham first, last and all the time,"
added Whopper.

As the boys walked home they discussed the situation from several
points of view. Reaching the street leading to the railroad depot
they came in sight of a familiar figure ahead of them. It was
the old hunter, Jed Sanborn, and he carried a gun in one hand and a
fishing rod in the other, while a basket was slung over his shoulder
by a broad strap.

"Hello, Jed!" sang out Snap, and ran forward to stop the man.

"Why, boys, how are ye!" said the old hunter, turning around and
halting. "Ready to go on your summer trip?" And he smiled broadly.

"Not yet," answered Shep. "But we are going out after the Fourth
of July."

"So I heard. Well, I hope ye have as good a time as ye had last
summer an' last winter."

"We want to know something about Lake Narsac," came from Whopper.
"I've heard there were about a million snakes up there and all big
fellows, too. Is that true?"

"O' course it is," answered Jed Sanborn, with a grin. "Snakes
is twenty to fifty feet long, and so thick ye have to wade through
'em up to your knees. Ha ha!" and he commenced to laugh. "I got
ahead of ye thet time, didn't I, Whopper?"

"But tell us the truth," insisted Giant. "We're thinking of camping
up there, and, of course, we won't want to go if there is any real

"Well, to tell the plain, everyday truth, boys, I don't allow as how
there is any more reptiles up to Lake Narsac nor there be around
Lake Firefly an' in the mountains whar I hang out. Narsac may have
a few more rattlers, an' them's the wust kind---you know thet as
well as I do. The wust thing I know about Lake Narsac is the
ghost up thar."

"Is there really and truly a ghost?" queried the doctor's son.
"Of course, I don't believe in them," he added, hastily.

"If ye don't believe in 'em why do ye ask about 'em?" demanded the
old hunter, rather indignantly.

"Oh, well---" and Shep could not finish.

"Did you ever see the ghost?" asked Snap.

"I sure did, my boy."

"When?" cried Whopper.

"What did it look like?" demanded Giant.

"I see the ghost less nor a month ago---when I was up to Lake Narsac
after fish. It was a foggy morning, an' I was fishing from a little
island near the upper end o' the lake. All to once I heard a strange
sound, like somebody was moanin'. I sat up an' listened, an' I
looked around-----"

"And what did you see?" asked Giant, excitedly.

"Didn't see nuthing just then. Soon the moanin' died out, an' I
thought I must have made a mistake, an' I went on fishin' ag'in.
Then come that strange moanin' once more, an' it made me shiver,
for I was in a mighty lonely spot. All to once, something cried
out, 'He's dead! He's dead!' I looked around, but I couldn't
see a soul. 'Who is thar?' I called. Then I heard a strange
whistle, an a rustlin' in the bushes. A minute later I saw a
figure in bright yellow standin' out before me on the lake. It
seemed to move right over the water in the fog, an' in less than
a minute it was gone."

"What was it?" asked Snap, and his voice trembled a little.

"I dunno, Snap. It looked like a real old man, with claw-like
hands. I called out to him, but he didn't answer, and when he
seemed to be lost like in a smoke, I was scared an' I don't deny
it. Just then I felt a big tug on my line an' I pulled in an'
found I had hooked a water snake. Thet settled me, an' I came down
to Firefly Lake an' to hum quick as I could git thar!"

"What do you think it was?" asked Whopper.

"I can't for the life o' me tell."

"Are you sure you heard that voice, or was that imagination?"
asked Snap.

"It wasn't no imagination whatsoever," answered the old hunter,
positively. "I heard thet voice jest as plain as I can hear yourn,
an' it come right out o' the sky, too!"

"That is certainly queer," mused Snap. "You say the ghost was

"It was."

"I thought most ghosts were white," put in the doctor's son.

"Was it a man?" asked Frank.

"If it was, how did he walk on the water?" demanded Jed Sanborn.
"Oh, it was a sure ghost, no two ways on it!" And the old hunter
shook his head positively.

"Are there any houses near the lake?" questioned Giant.

"Not a house within two or three miles. It is the wildest place
you ever visited," answered Jed Sanborn. "Hunters don't go there
much on account of the rough rocks in the stream flowing into
Narsac. If you take a boat you may have to tote it a good bit---an'
it ain't much use to go up there less you've got a boat, because
you can't travel much along the shore---too many thorn bushes."

After that the old hunter told them all he knew about Lake Narsac.
He said the lake and its surroundings were owned by the estate
of a New England millionaire who had died four years before.
In settling the estate the heirs had gone to law, and the rightful
possession of the sheet of water with the mountains around it was
still in dispute.

"One thing is sartin," said the old hunter. "If ye go up thar,
ye won't have no Andrew Felps chasin' ye away---as was the case
up to Lake Cameron."

"No, but we may have the ghost chasing us," answered Giant.

"Say, maybe we had better go somewhere else," suggested Whopper,

"Whopper, are you afraid of ghosts?" demanded Snap.

"N---no, but I---er---I'd like to go somewhere where we wouldn't
be bothered by anything."

"I am going to Lake Narsac, ghosts or no ghosts!" cried the doctor's

"So am I," added Snap, promptly. "If Whopper wants to stay behind---"

"Who said anything about staying behind?" demanded Whopper. "If you
go so will I, even if there are a million ghosts up there."

"I don't believe in ghosts," came from little Giant. "It's some
humbug, that's what it is."

"Maybe, maybe," answered Jed Sanborn. "But if you hear that voice
and see that yellow thing---well, I reckon your hair will stick up
on end, jest as mine did!"



On the following Monday Snap and Shep were walking down the main
street of Fairview when they heard a cry and saw Giant beckoning to
them from the post-office steps.

"What's up?" asked Snap, as he came up to the small youth.

"Ham Spink and Carl Dudder just went in to mail some letters,"
said Giant.

"What of that?"

"Whopper went in after them. Whopper and I are now sure it was
Ham and Carl who tried to steal our clothing the day we went swimming."

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

"By the way they are dressed. They have the same yellow-brown suits
on they wore that day."

Giant had scarcely spoken when Whopper came out. His face showed
that he was angry.

"I told you they did it," he said to Giant. Then, seeing the
others, he explained:

"I accused them of it and they admitted taking the clothes---
they said it was nothing but a little joke and they laughed at
me. Then when I said they could pay for the missing things they
told me to clear out or they'd have me locked up for trespassing
on Mr. Spink's land!"

"That's like Ham," answered Snap.

"I wish we could pay them off good," went on Whopper.

Just then Ham Spink and Carl Dudder came out of the post-office.
Snap and the others were standing behind some boxes of goods and
the dude and his chum did not at once see them.

"We'll have a celebration with those fireworks when they come," Ham
was saying. "We'll show Fairview a great sight."

"That's right," returned Carl Dudder. "We'll put them in my father's
barn until we want to use them."

Then both boys caught sight of Snap and the others and broke off
their talk. They, wanted to brush past without speaking, but Snap
and Shep blocked the way.

"We want to talk to you," said Snap.

"We have nothing to say," cried Ham, haughtily. "Get out of my way!"
And he tried to brush past again.

"Ham Spink, I want to say just one thing," answered Snap. "I
think you are as mean as you ever were, and I, for one, am going
to pay you back for what you did the day we went swimming."

"Oh, give us a rest" muttered the dudish youth, and went on, and
Carl Dudder followed, sticking his tongue in his cheek as he passed.

"Say, shall we pitch into them?" whispered Whopper. "We can knock
them into the middle of next month!"

"No---wait---I've just thought of something," interposed Snap. "Let
them go and come with me."

He led the way to a safe distance and then turned to Whopper.

"Did you hear them speak of some fireworks?"


"Did they say anything about the fireworks in the post office?

"Why, yes. But what has that got to do with------"

"What did they say, Whopper?"

"Why, it seems Ham and Carl and some other fellows---the same crowd
that has been against us for so long---have chipped in and ordered
some fireworks from the city. They are going to set the fireworks
off in front of the Dudder house on Fourth of July night. The Spink
family and some others are to be there. Ham and Carl are boasting
what a fine celebration it is to be."

"Then I know what I'm going to do," said Snap.

"What?" came from all of the others.

"They took our clothing---why can't we take the fireworks?"

"Whoop! Just the cheese!" ejaculated Whopper. "We can set them
off in the public square."

"Where the whole community can see them," added Giant.

"And we can return the remains after they are shot off," came
from the doctor's son.

The matter was talked over for a half hour. All of the boys knew
it was not just right to appropriate the fireworks but they were
"dead sore" on Ham and Carl and knew no other way to "get square."

The boys had made only a few preparations for the Fourth, for
nearly all of their spending money had been used up in buying
things for the proposed outing. They had some firecrackers, and
some blank cartridges for their pistols, and that was all.

Independence Day dawned bright and clear and throughout the town of
Fairview there was the usual amount of noise. During the morning
Snap heard from another lad how Ham and Carl were boasting of their

"Finest fireworks the town ever saw," Ham had said. All the boys
were invited to "hang on the Dudder fence" and see them set off
that evening at nine o'clock.

"Now is the time for us to do something," said Snap to his chums, a
little later.

The evening before they had visited the Dudder barn but had failed
to locate the fireworks.

"That's right," said Giant. "The fireworks are there now---I saw
Carl and Ham bringing them from the express office."

With caution the four boys walked down a side street, which connected,
by an alleyway, with the Dudder barn. Nobody was in sight, and
they slipped into the barn with ease. In a corner, on the floor,
they saw a long, flat box, marked "Fireworks! With care!"

"We mustn't take them all!" said Shep. "We must leave a top row---just
to fool 'em."

The others understood and went to work with care. In a very few
minutes they had most of the fireworks pinwheels, rockets, Roman
candles, flower pots and others---in their possession. Then they
stuffed hay in the bottom of the box and on the top placed two
pinwheels and three small Roman candles.

"I'm afraid they'll suspect us if we set these off," said Snap,
when he and his chums were at a safe distance.

"What if they do?" demanded the doctor's son. "If they say anything
we can yell 'stolen clothes' at them."

The boys were afraid Ham and Carl would attempt to sort out the
fireworks before the time to set them off, but this fear proved
groundless, for Ham and Carl were busy showing off two silver-plated
pistols they had purchased. They were firing at a target set
up near Ham's house, but they failed to hit the bull's-eye more
than once in a dozen shots.

"No wonder they can't bring down any game," observed Giant, when
he heard of this. "I could do almost as good as that with my
eyes shut."

In a quiet way word was passed around to the juvenile element
of Fairview that there would be "something doing" at the public
square directly it was dark. Secretly a notice was posted up
that the "Swimmer Company would give a free exhibition of Carlham
fireworks." Several wanted to know who the Swimmer Company were
and what Carlham fireworks were like, but no answer could be had
to these queries.

At exactly half-past seven that evening there was the flare of a
rocket in the public square, followed by the discharge of several
Roman candles. Folks came running from all directions, to learn who
might be giving the exhibition.

They saw a truly marvelous sight. Four men or boys were there,
dressed in fantastic suits and wearing old gloves and big, pointed-top
hats. Each had a mask over his face, so that it was utterly impossible
to tell who he was.

Boom! bang! sizz! went the fireworks, being set off by all four of
the persons at once. Rockets flew high in the sky, leaving a
golden train behind them, and Roman candles let out balls of
various colors, while on the ground, flower pots spouted forth in
great beauty, and pin-wheels whizzed from several trees and

"This is great!" cried several.

"A bang-up exhibition," added another. "Never saw a finer display,
did you?" put in an old man. "And all free too!" he continued,
greatly pleased.

Carl and Ham could not resist the temptation to see what was going
on and came running to the square, leaving their box in the barn.
They were full of envy, but went through the crowd boasting that
their own display would be much better.

At last everything was set off but three large rockets. These
were left in charge of one of the masked figures while the other
three figures suddenly disappeared in the darkness following a
pinwheel flare. The three figures took with them what could be
found of the burnt-out Roman candles and other things.

With one grand sizz the three rockets went up into the air
simultaneously. The crowd gazed in admiration at the sight. Then
as the sky grew dark, they looked out on the square for the last of
the masked figures.

It had disappeared.



Less than quarter of an hour after the celebration at the public
square Snap and his three chums met at Whopper's back gate. They
were minus their tall hats and gloves, but still wore a portion of
their grotesque outfits.

"Hurry up," said Whopper, and led the way to a carriage house.
Here, with great rapidity, the four youths stripped off the odd
suits and donned their regular garments. Then they hid the other
things in an out-of-the-way corner.

"Did you place the burnt-out fireworks in the box?" asked Shep, who
had been left at the square to set off the three rockets.

"We did," answered Snap.

"Hurry up, we want to see the rest of the fun," cried Giant, and
set off on a dog-trot in the direction of the Dudder mansion.

When the four boys reached that vicinity they found quite a crowd
collected. More people were coming from the public square. The
piazza of the Dudder homestead was illuminated with Chinese lanterns,
and there sat Mr. and Mrs. Spink, the Dudder family, and a dozen
specially invited guests.

"Carl, isn't it about time you began to set off those fireworks?"
asked Mr. Dudder, as his son came up the steps.

"Ham and I are going to get them out right away," answered Carl.

"Who set off the fireworks at the square?" questioned Mrs. Spink.

"I don't know."

"Were they nice?" asked Mrs. Dudder.

"Not near as nice as those we are going to show," returned Ham.

"Hurry up wid dem fireworks!" shouted an urchin hanging on the fence.

"You get off that fence, or you won't see anything," cried Carl.

"Bring on the fireworks!" shouted several.

"We are going to have a regular programme," announced Carl, standing
on a garden bench. "First there will be a bouquet of four rockets.
Then will follow two large Roman candles, six vari-colored pinwheels,
two large and four small flower pots, one living picture of George
Washington, two aerial bombs, four golden clusters, one living
serpent, two mines, and a whole lot of other things too numerous
to mention."

"Go on with the show," shouted a man outside. "We don't want to
listen to no speech."

"Come, let us get the box," said Ham, and then he and Carl hurried
down to the barn, where they found the flat box. Much to their
surprise it was bound around and around with some old telegraph
wire. Snap and his chums had wanted to nail the box up but had
been afraid of the noise.

"Somebody's been playing a joke on us!" growled Ham.

"Never mind, we'll soon have the wire off," answered his crony.
"Let us take the box outside."

They lifted the box and carried it out into the yard. There a
number of visitors gathered around to watch proceedings, two holding
up lanterns to illuminate the scene.

It took several minutes to take the wire from the box. Then the
cover was wrenched off.

"Here we are!" cried Carl, and took up the top layer of fireworks.
"Let us stack them against that bench, Ham."

"Look!" screamed Ham, and pulled up a handful of straw, in which
the fireworks had been packed. "What does this mean?"

As he spoke he held up two half-burnt pasteboard tubes---the remains
of two Roman candles. The burnt-out remains of several pinwheels

Carl dove into the box and withdrew his hands covered with soot
and holding several burnt-out flower pots and the frame upon which
had once been fastened the "living picture" of our first President.

"What does this mean?"

"Somebody has been at this box!"

"The fireworks have all been shot off!"

"Hurry up with that display!" came from the fence. "Don't keep us
waiting all night!"

"Thought you was going to show us something better than that show
at the square!" piped in a small boy.

"We have been swindled!" groaned Ham.

"Somebody has tricked us," gasped Carl. "Oh, this is dreadful!"

"What's the matter, boys?" asked Mr. Dudden, coming up, followed
by Mr. Spink.

"The box is full of---of rubbish, father!"

"Somebody set off the things and put them back burnt up," added Ham.

After that there was considerable excitement. The box was overturned
and out tumbled the remains of the square celebration. With the
articles came a small basket, wrapped in a brown paper and sealed
up. Ham tore the covering from the basket and out dropped---two
lemons! On one was a bit of paper labeled Ham and on the other
a paper marked Carl.

"Oh, just let me catch the fellow who played this trick!" roared Ham,
dancing around in his rage. "Won't I just fix him! Won't I though!"

"Ain't you going to set off them fireworks?" called a boy from
the fence.

"Don't believe they've got any to set off," said another.

"It's a shame to keep us waiting here," put in a third.

"You shut up, all of you!" cried Carl, who was as angry as Ham.
"We'll set off the fireworks when we choose. Oh, if this isn't
the limit!" he murmured.

With no fireworks worth mentioning, the proposed celebration could
not come off, and everybody was bitterly disappointed. The crowd
outside the fence began to jeer, and some small boys threw lumps
of soft mud at Ham and Carl. Then Mr. Dudder got angry and ordered
everybody off, and took his guests into the mansion. Ham and Carl
were so chagrined they knew not what to do.

"We must find out who did this," said Ham.

"Maybe it was Snap Dodge and his crowd," suggested Carl. "It
would be just like them."

"If they are guilty---I'll fix them!" went on Ham, bitterly.
"They had no business to touch our fireworks. Just think what
they cost us!

"And it made us the laughingstock of the whole town," added Carl,

"I've got an idea---that celebration at the square---maybe they
held it with our fireworks!"

"What! Say, it must be so! Oh, what fools we were! Of course
it was them. I see it all now---'Carlham fireworks' indeed!
That's Carl and Ham, as plain as day."

"Yes, and the 'Swimmer Company' is plain enough, too. They did
this to get even for taking their clothes away that day."

"We can't say they stole the fireworks. If we do they may say
we stole their clothes."

"We won't say anything---but let us get square, the first chance
we get," and so it was decided. It was several days before Ham
and Carl heard the last of the "grand celebration" they had reported
they would give.

With the fun of Independence Day at an end, Snap and his chums
turned their attention once more to the matter of the summer outing.
They realized that a trip to Lake Narsac would be quite different
from one only as far as Lake Cameron or Firefly Lake. The two
latter resorts were close to civilization, while Narsac Lake was
a wild spot, seldom visited by the regular run of sportsmen.
To get to the lake would be quite a task in itself, and whatever
would be needed for the trip must be procured at home or at one
of the other lakes. And while they must take all needed articles
along they must make their boat load as light as possible.

Doctor Reed made them a present of something which was much to their
liking. This was a "nest" of aluminum cooking utensils, including
a pepper and salt box, and a match safe. This kit weighed very
little and was exceedingly handy.

As Mr. Dodge had procured for them a suitable boat, and the doctor
the cooking things, Mr. Dawson said he would present them with a
new tent, of light, but strong and waterproof material. He also
got for them a rubber cloth, to be spread over their things when
it rained.

"My mother is going to supply us with the eatables," said Giant.
"She told me to get the list and she would have them all ready
the day we are to start." And then the list was made out, including
bacon, beans, flour, salt and pepper, sugar, and many other necessities.
The boys also got a liberal supply of powder and shot for their
guns, some cartridges for the rifle, and some fishing hooks and
lines. Everything was stored away in the boathouse on the river,
which was locked up tightly, so that nobody might carry off their



"I wonder if Ham and Carl will attempt to get at our outfit," said
Shep, the evening before the start was to be made.

"Well, we mustn't forget that they blew up the old boathouse before,"
answered Snap. "Of course, they may be afraid to try on the same
thing---they'd know they'd be in danger of arrest."

"Let us go down and take a look at the things," put in Whopper. "I
wouldn't want to have anything happen to the outfit for a million

The three boys walked in the direction of the building where the
things were stored. Giant was not with them---he having been
detained at home, to do some work for his mother.

Apparently the outfit was as it had been left, and the three boys
breathed a sigh of relief. Having overhauled the things carefully,
they prepared to lock up once more when Snap noticed a small boy
named Joe Bright, hanging around.

"Well, Joe, what's doing?" he questioned.

"Nuthin'," answered Joe. "Say, are you fellows going on a trip to
Lake Narsac?"


"Ain't you afraid of the hobgoblins up there?"

"Not particularly."

"My uncle was up there once and the hobgoblins took his things away
from him."

"What did they take?" asked Whopper.

"Took his coat, which he had hung on a tree while he was fishing,
and took his basket of fish, too. Say, he was scared when he saw
that thing, I can tell you. He wouldn't go there again!"

"Did he see the ghost?" asked Shep.

"No, he didn't see anything, but he heard it moan and groan, and
heard it say something about being cold and hungry."

"We are not afraid," said Snap, as bravely as he could. "We are
going to keep our eyes peeled for that ghost, and if it shows itself
there will be some shooting done. By the way, Joe, how long have
you been around here?"

"Two or three hours. I didn't have nuthin' to do, and I like
the water."

"Have you seen anybody around this building?"

"Yes, two fellows were here, but they went away when they saw me."

"Who were they?" asked the doctor's son.

"One of 'em was Ham Spink, and the other was that chap who is
always with him."

"Carl Dudder?"

"I guess that's his name---the chap who was going to give the
fireworks celebration."

"Humph!" muttered Snap. "What did they do?

"Walked around the building several times and peeped in the windows.
One of 'em tried the back door, but just then the other fellow saw
me and he gave a little whistle. Then both of 'em walked away
pretty quick."

"The rascals!" cried Whopper. "I'll bet a sour apple against a
gooseberry they wanted to spoil our outfit!"

"Sure they did," answered Snap.

"I'll tell you what I think," said Shep, after the boys had talked
the matter over for several minutes. "I think somebody ought to
stay here to-night and watch this outfit. For all we know, they
may come back."

"There is an old cot in the boathouse---a fellow might sleep on
that," suggested Whopper.

"Then that is what I am going to do,---if my folks will let me,"
answered the doctor's son.

"You'll be lonely," said Snap. "Maybe I'd better stay with you.
If Ham and Carl did come back you couldn't manage them alone."

"I could if I had a shotgun."

"Oh, you wouldn't want to shoot anybody, Snap!"

"No, but I could scare 'em off."

"I've got an idea," cried Whopper. "Why not fix it so as to give
them a warm reception---if they do come," and then he explained
what he meant.

In the end it was decided that Snap and Shep should remain at the
boathouse, and Whopper ran off to tell their folks and to get a
few things. As the boys were used to outings the youths' parents
thought little of their staying away that night, and only sent
word back that they should keep out of mischief.

"We'll keep out if we are left alone," said the doctor's son, grimly.

Whopper had brought with him an old tin pail containing some hot
water and half a pound of flour. This was stirred up into a thick
flour paste, and to give it the "proper flavor," as Snap suggested,
they broke into the mixture two ancient eggs which one of the party
had picked up.

Joe Bright had been sent away, with instructions to say nothing
about what was going on at the boathouse, and soon Whopper followed
him. Then Snap and Shep went into the building and locked the
door behind them.

The structure was a one-story affair, with a small loft overhead,
for the storage of extra oars and odds and ends of boat lumber.
Up into the loft went the two boys and opened the tiny window
at either end---thus letting in some needed fresh air. Then they
took the rank-smelling flour paste and poured half of the stuff
into an old paint can that was handy.

"Let us take turns at resting," suggested Snap, and so it was

It was a calm, clear night and before long the town was wrapped in
slumber, and only the occasional bark of a dog or yowl of a cat
broke the stillness. Out on the river nothing was stirring.

It was after midnight, and Snap had almost reached the conclusion
that the alarm had been a false one, when, looking from one of the
little windows, he saw two figures approaching the boathouse. The
two boys or men had their coat collars turned up and their soft
hats pulled well down over their foreheads.

Making no noise Snap aroused Shep, who was sound asleep on the cot.

"What is it?" demanded the doctor's son.

"They are coming. Hush, or they may hear you."

Silently the two boys crawled to the small window facing the town.
The two figures outside were now close by and Snap and Shep felt sure
they, were Ham and Carl.

"Anybody around?" came the question, in a whisper.

"I don't see anybody."

"We don't want to get caught at this."

"Oh, don't get chicken-hearted, Carl."

"Humph! Please remember what happened last winter, Ham."

"Hush! Don't speak my name, please."

"Well, then don't speak mine."

"I didn't."

"Yes, you did."

"I did not, I say. Come on."

"How are you going to get in? You said you knew of a way. I am
certain the doors and windows are all tight."

"Just you follow me and I'll show you a nice little trick."

"But where do you want me to follow you to?" insisted Carl Dudder.

"Under the boathouse."

"Under it?"

"Yes. Here is a place where we can crawl under very easily."

"Yes, but what are you going to do after you are under the building?"

"Get inside."

"Is there a trap door?"

"No, but I know where a couple of boards are loose in the flooring,
and we can shove them up easily."

"Oh! All right, go ahead, and I'll follow."

A moment later Ham Spink let himself down in a little hole beside the
boathouse. Here his feet were close to the water, but he supported
himself on a cross rail nailed from one section of the spiling to
another. Carl Dudder followed him, and both moved cautiously
forward to the front end of the building. Once Ham slipped and a
slight splash followed.

"What's that?" cried Carl, in alarm, for he was decidedly nervous.

"My foot slipped, that's all," was the answer.

"Is it deep under here?

"Not over four or five feet."

"Where are those loose boards?"

"Right here. Now take hold of that end and we'll soon have them up
and be inside the building," answered Ham.



While Ham and Carl were moving around under the boathouse, Shep and
Snap were not idle. The doctor's son, on awakening, had wanted to
throw the flour paste out of the window at the midnight prowlers, but
Snap thought of another plan.

"Come on below, and wait until they shove up the flooring," he

The doctor's son understood, and with caution, so as not to make
any noise, the two chums came down out of the tiny loft, bringing
with them the pail and the tin can of awful-smelling flour paste.

It was absolutely dark below, but they could plainly hear Ham and
Carl working on the loose boards of the floor near the river end
of the boathouse. Thither they made their way, Snap with the pail
and Shep with the can, both ready for action.

Slowly one board was lifted and pushed aside and a second followed.
Then two heads appeared in the gloom.

"Robbers!" cried Snap.

"Burglars!" yelled the doctor's son.

"Shoot them!"

"Don't let them get away alive!"

Then with a vigorous throw Snap landed his pail of stuff full
upon the head of Ham Spink. Splosh! it struck the dudish youth
squarely in the face and ear. Another splosh followed, and Carl
Dudder was likewise decorated.

"Hi! wow!" spluttered Ham. "I---Oh, what a smell!

"Oh, my eye!" groaned Carl. "Phew! what's this?"

"We're discovered!

"What's this they threw on us?"

"Oh, did you ever smell such stuff?"

"Robbers! thieves!" yelled Snap and Shep. "Shoot them! Give
them a dose of buckshot!"

"They are going to shoot us!" screamed Carl Dudder, and dodged
down. Then he lost his footing on the wet and slippery rails,
clutched at Ham to save himself, and both went down with a loud
splash into the dirty water under the boathouse.

"There they go!" cried Shep.

"Let us scare them some more," whispered Snap. "Pretend you don't
recognize them."

Quickly a lantern was lit and held over the opening in the floor.
Down below two dark forms, covered with mud and flour paste, could
be seen clutching at the slippery braces of the spiling. Snap and
Shep could scarcely keep from roaring.

"There they are! Get the gun!" yelled the doctor's son.

"Two dangerous burglars!" cried Snap. "Wonder where they came from?"

"W---we ar---are not burglars!" spluttered Carl. "We are---"

"Do---don't sh---shoot!" wailed Ham Spink. "We di---didn't mean---"

Bang! went the shotgun Snap had picked up. He fired at the corner
of the building, into a mass of rubbish. A piercing yell of terror
came up from below, and down dropped Ham and Carl into the water
once more. They were too afraid to come up under the boathouse
again and so struck out for the river bank some distance away.

"They are going away!" called out Shep. "They are two desperate
burglars! Give them another shot!"

"Perhaps they have been robbing some stores," called out Snap.
Then he discharged the shotgun once more, and down ducked Ham
and Carl again, yelling wildly in their fright. They swam with
energy and soon reached the shelter of another boathouse. Here
they crawled from the water and took to their legs with all the
speed at their command. Both were frightened nearly out of their
wits, and for the time being paid no attention to the foul-smelling
paste and mud that covered them.

"They---they thought we were thi---thieves!" panted Carl, after
he and his crony had covered several blocks.

"Yes, and we came near being shot dead!" added Ham.

"I didn't know they were going to stay there to-night."

"Neither did I."

"Those shots will wake up the whole town."

"Yes, and we must get out of sight. Phew! what a smell!"

"They dumped something down on us."

"Must have been rotten eggs. What are we going to do?"

"I don't know---go home, I guess."

"I can't go home looking this way."

"You'll have to go."

"Well, it's lucky they didn't recognize us."

"That's true. But this suit is about ruined."

"So is mine. And we didn't hurt their outfit at all."

"Never mind, we'll get square with them another time."

After that Carl and Ham separated and each lost no time in sneaking
home and washing up and trying to clean his garments. They did not
dare to tell their parents of what had occurred and so had to suffer
in silence.

The shots from the gun aroused some folks living near the river front,
and several men came down to the boathouse to learn what was the

"Two fellows tried to get in here, but we scared them away," said Snap.

"Who were they?" asked one man.

"Two fellows dressed in dark suits and with slouch hats."

"Did you hit them?"

"No, we only fired to scare them off."

"Where did they go?"

"Ran back of Dickson's boathouse," answered the doctor's son.

A brief search was made, but the prowlers, of course, were not
located. Then the men went home, and Snap and Shep settled down
to make themselves comfortable for the rest of the night.

"Ham and Carl won't forget that reception in a hurry," remarked
the doctor's son, and indulged in a laugh, in which his chum joined.

The rest of the night passed without anything unusual happening.
Early in the morning Whopper and Giant appeared and were told
of what had occurred.

"Served 'em right," cried Giant. "Oh, I wish I had seen them,"
he added, with a broad grin.

"I don't think they'll try any such game again in a thousand years,"
said Whopper.

"Make it a million, Whopper," added the doctor's son.

Whopper and Giant had had breakfast and said good-bye to their folks
and now Snap and Shep went off to get something to eat. By nine
o'clock they returned and said they were ready for the start.
The others already had the boat out and the outfit properly stored
on board.

"All ready?" called out Snap, who was looked upon as the leader of
the club.

"All ready," came from the others.

"Sure we haven't left anything behind---salt, mustard, vinegar,
or canned soft-soap?"

"Maybe Whopper's left his shaving outfit behind," suggested Giant.

"Humph!" muttered the youth mentioned. "Be sure and take Giant's
hobby horse with you." And then there was a general laugh, in
the midst of which Snap shoved off from the boathouse dock.

It was arranged that Shep and Whopper should row for the first few
miles and then be relieved by Snap and Giant. A number of boys had
come down to the dock to see them off. There was a general shouting.

"Hope you have a good time!"

"Be sure and bring back plenty of game!"

"Say, if you see that ghost up to Lake Narsac give him my regards!"

"I wouldn't go up to that locality for a farm! You'll be sure to
get into trouble. Every spot up there is alive with snakes."

"I'll bet they won't go any further than Lake Cameron or Firefly
Lake," said one boy, who was a chum to Ham and Carl.

"It's Lake Narsac or bust!" cried Snap.

"Huh! I'll believe it when I see it," returned the boy on shore.

"Don't worry, you'll never get there, Jack Voss," said a man standing
by. "You are too much of a coward."

"Won't I?" answered Jack Voss. "A lot of us are going up to Lake
Narsac in a few days, or next week."


"Never mind. We are going and that's enough," answered Jack Voss.
"I ain't afraid of that ghost---or of snakes either," he added.

"There they go!" shouted Joe Bright, enthusiastically. "Hurrah
for the young hunters of the lake!"

"Hurrah!" shouted several and waved their hands and handkerchiefs.

Those in the rowboat waved in return. Then Shep and Whopper bent to
the oars; and the summer outing was begun. Little did the young
hunters realize how many strange adventures were in store for them.



As my old readers know, the distance to Lake Cameron in an air
line was about ten miles, but the river was a winding one and
this added three miles to the journey. Beyond the town the banks
of the stream were lined with farms, orchards and patches of dense
woods, a beautiful outlook and one which the boys thoroughly enjoyed
as they rowed along. They passed Simon Lundy's farm---where they
had once had such a curious happening when after apples, as related
in "_Four Boy Hunters_," and then continued along under the overhanging
branches of some willows, where it was shady and cool.

"Do you think Jack Voss spoke the truth when he said he was going to
Lake Narsac?" queried Shep, after he had turned his oars over to Snap.

"It may be true---although Jack knows how to blow," answered Snap.

"If he goes out it will most likely be with Ham and Carl and that
crowd," put in Whopper. "They always travel together."

"I'd like to know how Ham and Carl feel this morning, cried Giant.

"Most likely pasty," answered the doctor's son, and this made the
others laugh.

"If that crowd should take it into their heads to go to Lake Narsac
I hope they don't camp near us," went on Snap, after a pause.

"They'll try to bother us all they can, you can rest assured, of
that," said Whopper. "They seem to live for nothing else."

"Well, we can give them as good as they send, can't we?" asked Giant.
"I'm not afraid of 'em."

"Of course we're not afraid of them," returned Whopper hastily.

To reach Lake Cameron the young hunters had to take to a side
stream lined on either side with blackberry and elderberry bushes.
They resolved to push on to the lake before stopping for lunch.
Then they would row to the head of the lake, camp there over night,
and the next day strike out for Firefly Lake. Here they would put
in another day, and then embark for Lake Narsac.

They found Lake Cameron and its shores just as beautiful as during
the previous summer. To be sure, the portion that had been burnt
down during the great forest fire looked black and desolate but
only a small portion of this territory was to be seen from the
boat. They passed along the shore opposite and put in at a little
cove that looked particularly inviting.

"I'm as hungry as a bear!" cried Whopper. "I can eat about a
hundred sandwiches, ten pieces of pie, and any other old thing that
happens to be handy."

"Jed Sanborn was telling me he had seen some wild ducks up here last
week," said the doctor's son. "If they are around we must keep our
eyes peeled for them. They are pretty scarce."

All of the boys wanted coffee, and so some wood was gathered and a
campfire started, over which they made the beverage. Snap and
Whopper prepared the midday meal and while they did this Giant and
the doctor's son got their rods, cast in their lines, and tried
their luck at fishing.

"First prize!" called out Shep, in a few minutes, and drew in a
small perch.

"If we can get enough, we might have fish for lunch," suggested

"Better keep them for supper," answered Snap. "We'll be good and
hungry by night."

"As if I wasn't hungry enough now," growled Whopper.

Shep caught three perch hand running while Giant did not get a nibble.
The small member of the club was somewhat disappointed, but suddenly
there came a tug that almost pulled him into the lake.

"Got something!" he sang out. "Must be a whale!"

"Maybe it's a maskalonge!" sang out Whopper. "Want any help?"

"No," was the reply, and then Giant began to play his catch with
the skill of a natural born fisherman. Soon came a deft swing of
the fishing rod and out on the grassy bank landed a lake pickerel
of good size.

"A pickerel!" cried Snap. "And a beauty."

"That's better than my three perch," was Shep's comment. "Giant,
you're the fisherman of this club and no mistake."

The two boys continued to fish, both before lunch and after, and
when they finally wound up their lines they had nine perch, two chub
and two pickerel---certainly a very respectable haul.

"That means fish for both supper and breakfast," was Snap's comment.
"They'll taste fine, too, coming right out of the water."

Having put away the things used in getting lunch, the four boy
hunters embarked once more, and the journey along the shore of Lake
Cameron was resumed. As they had not a great distance to go, to
reach the other end of the sheet of water, they took their time,
watching the trees and bushes for a possible sight of game.

"There are your wild ducks," cried Whopper, after half a mile had
been covered.

He pointed inland, to where there was a clearing among the trees,
probably some marshy spot. Several wild ducks were settling down,
and in a few seconds they were out of sight.

"Want to go ashore?" asked Giant, who was rowing.

"I don't think so," answered Snap. "Perhaps we'll see some of them
on the lake."

"I see three now!" called Whopper softly, and pointed almost dead

"Turn the boat into the bushes," ordered the leader of the club,
and Giant did as commanded. Snap was already reaching for a shotgun,
and Whopper and Shep did likewise.

The wild ducks had settled on the bosom of the lake and were paddling
in the direction of the rowboat. They came on slowly, however, and
the young hunters could scarcely wait until they got within gunshot.
Giant still had the oars and now he dropped one rather loudly on the
bow. At once one of the ducks took alarm and arose in the air.

"They are flying away!" yelled Shep, and raised his shotgun. Bang!
spoke the weapon, and reports from the two other firearms followed.
One of the ducks came down heavily, while a second fluttered around
badly wounded. The third flew off, apparently untouched.

"We must get that second one!" cried Snap, and fired once more.
But the wounded duck had reached the cover of some bushes and was
not hit again. The rowboat was hastily turned in the direction and
Snap and Whopper leaped ashore. Then the duck tried to fly but a
shot from Whopper's firearm laid it low. Soon the boys had both
ducks on board and were examining the game.

"They are pretty plump," was Snap's comment, and he uttered the
words with satisfaction.

"Not so bad for the first day's record," said Giant. "Fish and

"Now if we could only get some squirrels, a few rabbits, a deer,
and three or four bears---" began Whopper.

"Do you want to bring down everything within ten miles the first day?"
demanded the doctor's son.

"I believe if Whopper was hunting lions he'd want to bring down a
dozen the first clip," was Snap's comment. "Let me tell you there
will be many days when we won't bring down a thing."

"Oh, I know that," answered Whopper. "I was only fooling. Say, it
will be fine to have roast duck for dinner to-morrow, eh?" And he
smacked his lips.

"Duck, stuffed with sage and onions!" murmured Giant, patting himself
in the region of the stomach.

"No stuffings in this," cried the doctor's son. "I just want pure
duck---a nice brown leg,---yum."

"Say, you make me duck-hungry already!" cried Whopper. "Let's go on,
unless we are going to stay here for the rest of the day."

Once again the oars were taken up, and with scarcely a sound they
moved along the shore of the lake. The sun was now well over to the
hills in the west, and the trees along the shore cast long shadows
over the rippling surface.

"No use of talking, such a spot as this is a regular Paradise," was
Snap's comment. "I can tell you, there isn't anything like a life
in the open!"

"Especially when it rains," suggested Giant.

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