Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Boy Scouts in Northern Wilds by Archibald Lee Fletcher

Part 3 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

open.

The Indian knows better than to bring his clothing where it will
come in contact with either his breath or with perspiration.
Should he do this in very severe weather, he would soon find
everything about him frozen stiff. He is sure, however, to carry
enough clothing with him to keep him warm in repose and during the
long nights.

"How do you know that's Oje?" whispered Sandy, as the Indian stood
looking questioningly at the two boys.

"Because he answers to the description."

"Howdy!" the Indian exclaimed in a moment.

The boys returned the greeting, and then followed a conversation
which was almost entirely expressed by signs.

Oje was invited to proceed with the boys on a fishing trip, and,
later, to accept of their hospitality at the cabin. The Indian
gave a grunt of assent, and at once turned toward the river.

As they passed the spot where the cache had been, Sandy glanced
curiously toward the Indian, as though wondering whether he had not
been the one to dig out the provisions. The Indian, however,
walked on without appearing to notice either the rifled cache or
the suspicious glances of the boy. Arrived at the river, the
Indian, after carefully testing the ice, walked to a small island
near the shore.

The boys looked on while he began his preparations for fishing. He
went about the work quietly, yet seemed to be remarkably exact in
all his motions. First he cut about twenty feet of fish-line in
two in the middle of the piece and tied one end of each part to one
end of a stick which he cut from the shore.

The knots he made in the fastening seemed primitive, but it was
discovered later that they held very firmly. After a time he tied
a bass hook to each fish-line, and on each hook he speared a little
cube of fat pork which he drew from his pocket, and which had
evidently done service through a long series of fishing expeditions.

Next he cut two holes in the ice, which was not very thick at that
point, and over these the boys were invited to stand, sticks in
hand, lines dangling from the poles.

Hardly had Sandy lowered his line which had a bullet flattened
around it for a sinker, when he felt it jerk to one side, and
almost immediately drew up a three-pound trout.

"Now, what do you think of that for catching fish?" demanded the
boy.

Oje gave a satisfied grunt at this evident appreciation of his
services, and motioned the lads to continue their sport.

Next Thede caught a gray trout somewhat smaller than the fish
landed by Sandy, and then another three-pound speckled trout was
landed.

"I guess if some of these fellows with hundred dollar fishing
outfits could see us hauling beauties out of the water like this,
they'd begin to understand what real fishing means!" Sandy
exclaimed.

It was a glorious day for fishing, although a trifle cold. The sun
shone down with a brilliance unequaled in more tropical climates,
and there was little wind to send the chill through the clothing.
After the boys had caught plenty of fish they started back toward
the cabin.

Oje walked through the wilderness with a different manner from that
with which he had accompanied the boys in the journey toward the
river. He glanced sharply about, and frequently stopped to examine
trifling marks in the snow. After a time he pointed to the track
of a rabbit which had apparently departed from the faint trail in
extreme terror, judging from the speed which had been made.

"Strange man!" he said significantly. "Find track soon!"

"Do you mean," asked Sandy, "that there's some one chasing us up?"

"Find track soon," was all the explanation the Indian would make.

"Of course!" Sandy declared. "We couldn't think of going back to
the cabin without butting into some new combination!"

In a short time the Indian discovered the footprints he was looking
for, and pointed them out to the boys. Two persons had passed that
way not long before. The tracks in the snow showed that one had
worn moccasins and the other ordinary shoes.

"I should think that fellow's feet would freeze!" Sandy observed.
"He don't seem to have any overshoes on!"

"How do you know?" asked Thede. "He may have a small foot and wear
overshoes shaped like a shoe itself."

"I wish we could follow the trail and find out where they're
going!" Sandy observed.

"I'm game for it!" declared Thede.

The two boys pointed to the foot-prints and started to follow them.

The Indian seemed pleased at the idea, and soon led the way toward
the range of hills whither the foot-prints pointed.

"The first thing we know," Thede suggested, "we'll be running into
a nest of black bears. They're thick as bees up in this country,
and they'll be hungry, too, with all this snow on the ground."

The words were hardly out of his mouth before a succession of low,
angry growls came to the ears of the boys, and the next moment they
saw Oje springing into the lower branches of a great fir tree.

"I guess he knows what's good for his health!" shouted Sandy. "Me
for a tree, too!"

The boys probably never made quicker motions in their lives.

"Have you got a searchlight with you?" asked Thede.

Sandy shook his head sadly.

"Then we can't see to shoot the beasts," wailed Thede, "and it
looks to me like one of those long, cold nights in a tree!"

CHAPTER XVIII

A PILLAR OF FIRE

"Can you build a fire with one match?" asked Thede, after a short
silence, during which the boys had been trying in vain to get a
shot at the bears.

"Of course I can!" answered Sandy. "What's the good of going
through all those Boy Scout examinations, if a fellow can't build a
fire with one match? Of course I can build a fire with one match!"

"Can you build a fire with one match up in a tree?" asked Thede,
with a suspicion of mirth in his voice.

"Of course I can!" answered Sandy.

"Up in a tree in the darkness, on a windy night?" asked Thede.

"If this thing is going to your head, you'd better drop down and
make a run for the camp!" advised Sandy.

"Honest, now," asked Thede, "can you make a fire with one match in
a green tree, in a high wind, on a dark night?"

"Cut it out!" roared Sandy.

"Because if you can," Thede explained, "I think I can show you a
way out of this mess!"

"Well, go on and show it, then!"

"All you've got to do," Thede went on, "is to build a fire and drop
the burning brands down on top of the bears. That will bring them
out into the light for a second or two, and perhaps we can drop
them with our automatics."

The boys heard the Indian moving softly about in the branches of
the tree he had selected as a refuge, but paid little attention to
what he was doing. Afterwards, they discovered that he had dropped
his rifle at the foot of the tree, and was trying to secure it.

"Why did you say build a fire with one match?" asked Sandy. "I
always carry a lot of matches," the boy added, feeling in his
pocket.

"Find any?" asked Thede.

"Not a match!"

"I knew you wouldn't!" Thede said.

"How'd you happen to know so much?" grunted Sandy.

"Because," Thede replied, "I saw you feeling in your pocket for a
match and bring your fingers out empty while at the cabin. Then
you went to a match box and laid a great heap of 'em on the table.
I thought of it while we stood there, but it never occurred to me
to tell you to stow them away."

"I remember now!" Sandy said regretfully.

"Well," Thede responded cheerfully, "I've got just one match. I
wonder if you can light a fire with that!"

"You just wait a minute and I'll tell you!" replied Sandy.

Thede heard him moving about over the limbs of the tree, his every
motion being punctuated by growls from below. Then came an
exclamation of satisfaction from the darkness, and Thede heard the
boy declaring that it was a dead tree they were in, and that there
was plenty of dry wood.

"All right, start your fire, then," suggested Thede, "and we'll see
if we can't burn the backs off some of those bears!"

"Perhaps we can break off enough dry limbs to make a rousing old
fire that will keep till morning," Sandy said in a moment. "If
this old tree is really dead to the heart, it'll make quite a
blaze."

Sandy gathered a great handful of twigs not more than a couple of
inches in length and placed them in a sheltered position in the lee
of the tree. Then he added dry boughs of larger size and made
ready to use the precious match.

"Now you know what'll happen if that match goes out!" said Thede.

"This match," said Sandy confidently, "is not the kind of a match
that goes out. I'd be a healthy old Boy Scout if I couldn't build
a fire in the top of a tree with one match!"

The boy waited until there came a brief lull in the wind, then with
the match protected as much as possible by his hat he struck it.

The flame spluttered for an instant, died down, crawled around to
the windward side of the stick, crawled back again, and then flared
up gloriously. At first the dry twigs refused to ignite, but
presently one caught the blaze, then another, and directly Sandy
was obliged to draw his face away from the growing heat.

"There!" he exclaimed triumphantly. "Didn't I tell you I could do
it?"

"You said you could," answered Thede, "but I didn't believe it!"

"Look here," Tommy said in a minute, sheltering his face from the
smoke. "First thing we know, we'll have this whole blooming tree
on fire."

"If it gets good and hot, we can fry fish after the bears go away,"
suggested Thede. "I'm hungry! By the way," he added with a grin,
"where are those fish?"

"Do you think I brought 'em up in the tree?" demanded Sandy.

"You never left 'em down there?" asked Thede.

"Didn't I?" exclaimed Sandy. "What did you do with the ones you
were carrying?"

"Why," replied Thede, "I guess I left 'em in the thicket where we
stood when we made a hop-skip-and-jump for the tree."

"We certainly are a bright mess!" cried Sandy.

"Say," Thede said in a moment, "I'll just bet that's what kept the
bears so still while we've been up here building the fire. They've
been eating our fish! That's why we couldn't get sight of them!"

"Can you see the bears now?" asked Sandy. "I'm sure I can't!"

"They're still back in there eating our trout!' wailed Thede.

"Unless you want a leg burned off," advised Sandy, "you'd better
work around on another limb!"

"Aw, this limb is all right!" argued Thede.

The light from the fire now illuminated quite a little circle
around the tree, and the boys saw 0je sliding cautiously down the
trunk of the tree where he had taken refuge.

"He's after his gun!" declared Sandy. "Just watch out and you'll
see him get one of those bears!"

Oje certainly was after his rifle, for he slid down cautiously,
keeping the bole of the tree between himself and the bears.

Much to the surprise of the lads, the Indian did not again climb
into the shelter of the branches. Instead, he stood peering around
the trunk of the tree as if waiting for the wild animals to make
their appearance. The flame blazed higher and higher and the boys
began to feel uncomfortable.

"I'll bet there ain't any bears here!" Sandy exclaimed after a
moment's silence. "I guess we run away from a rabbit!"

"I guess we didn't!" insisted Thede.

The boy's opinion was verified a moment later by the appearance of
three shambling figures in the lighted zone. The bear is noted for
his curiosity, and the boys realized, too, that the feast of fish
must have been devoured.

"We might have sneaked away while they were eating that fine
supper!" Sandy said, in a tone of disgust. "I think we ought to
have medals made out of a cow's ear! That would be a good medal,
wouldn't it, for boys who showed such courage in the face of the
enemy?"

"Never you mind!" Thede answered. "I guess the bears are next to
their job. We wouldn't have gone far before they'd been after us."

As the bears appeared in the light of the fire, now blazing
fiercely and fast climbing from one dry limb to another, the lads
saw the Indian raise his rifle to his shoulder and fire.

Instead of taking to their legs, the bears grouped themselves
around their fallen mate and snarled savagely up into the tree.

"Oje will get another one in a minute," Thede ventured, overjoyed
at the success of the first shot, "and then we can open fire with
our automatics."

"Holy Moses!" cried Sandy. "Here we've been sitting here watching
the panorama with our guns in our pockets! I guess we don't know
much about hunting bears, when it comes down to cases."

"Well, it isn't too late to shoot yet," Thede declared.

"It's getting pretty hot here, anyhow," said Sandy, "and we'll have
to drop in a minute, whether we shoot or not. This old tree seems
to be as dry as tinder!"

"Yes," Thede agreed, "I guess you started something when you made
such good use of that one match."

The boys moved about on the limb in order to get at their
automatics. They noted then, for the first time, that the perch
upon which they rested was burning close to the trunk. They called
out to each other, almost simultaneously, to shift to the trunk of
the tree.

But it was too late. They felt themselves swinging through, the
air, and the next moment there was such a mixture of boy and bear
at the bottom of the tree as has rarely been seen in the British
Territories.

Both boys landed squarely on the back of one of the animals. Of
course, they rolled to the ground instantly and grabbed for their
automatics, but their movements were no quicker than those of the
astonished bear.

"Woof!" he said. "Woof!"

Translated into boy-talk, this read "Good-night!" and a second
later they heard both bears tramping through the forest as if
pursued by a pack of hounds.

"What do you know about that?" demanded Tommy.

Without replying, Thede scrambled to his feet and dashed into the
thicket where he had left the fish. He returned in a moment with a
woeful face which set his chum into roars of laughter.

"They ate our fish!" he said,

"What'd you think they'd do with them?" demanded Sandy. "Did you
think they'd put 'em in cold storage and keep 'em for next summer?"

"What I'm sobbing about," Thede went on, "is that the bears
certainly made a monkey of me. They weren't after us. They were
after the fish!"

"Well, they got the fish, didn't they?" asked Sandy.

"And we might have been on our way while they were devouring them!"
wailed Thede.

The tree was now virtually a pillar of fire, and the boys moved out
from under it. They found the Indian standing, stolid and
indifferent, just out of the circle of light.

"Just think of all that funny thing happening and he never seeing
any humor in it!" exclaimed Sandy.

The Indian lifted his hand for silence, and pointed off toward the
hills. Then, motioning the boys to follow him, he led the way into
a thicket and crouched down.

Directly the panting and puffing of a man exhausted from a long
run, was heard, and the familiar figure of Antoine dashed into the
circle of light! He glared about for a moment and then dropped
down on the snow, evidently completely exhausted.

CHAPTER XIX

THE SIGNAL FROM THE HILLS

"That's a funny proposition, too!" whispered Sandy.

"That's the gink who tried to feed us poisoned tea," Thede
whispered back. "I wonder what he's running for."

The Indian drew at the boys' sleeves to enforce silence, and all
three sat perfectly still for some moments. Then Antoine lifted
himself to his feet and looked cautiously about.

They saw him examine the bear tracks and heard him muttering to
himself as he followed with trained eyes the trail leading into the
thicket where the boys and the Indian were hiding.

He drew quite close to the bushes where the three lay; so close,
indeed, that they could hear him muttering as he lost the trail
because of the darkness. Presently, he turned back.

"I think I understand," he said hoarsely. "Two of the boys were
treed by bears and Oje rescued them. I presume they are half way
to the cabin before this."

He started along the trail by which the boys had reached the tree
but presently turned back. He stood in the light of the fire for a
moment and then set off in the direction of the hills.

"Safer there than here!" they heard him growl as he passed them by.

Oje waited until the sound of the fellow's footsteps were heard no
more, and then arose to his feet, Without speaking a word, he, too,
faced toward the hills, passing through the snow at a swinging gait.

"What's he going to do now?" queried Sandy.

"I wish I knew!" replied Thede. "Say, look here!" the boy
continued, "hadn't we better make a break for the cabin? I don't
see any sustenance in wandering around in the snow all night!"

"Oje has something on his mind!" Sandy declared. "And I think we'd
better find out where he's going."

"All right!" answered Thede. "I'm game, only I'm wondering what
George is thinking about all this time."

It was cold and dark in the forest, and the snow was deep, but the
boys trudged bravely on in the direction of the hills. At least
they supposed that they were going in the direction of the hills.
They could scarcely see a yard in advance of their noses under the
thick foliage and so trusted entirely to the Indian, who led them
along at a pace which was exhausting to say the least.

There would be a moon shortly after eight, but soon after that time
they hoped to be snugly tucked in their blankets in the cottage.
For a time they could see the dry tree which they had fired blazing
in the distance, but at length it dropped out of sight.

"How long do you think that blooming savage will keep this up?"
asked Sandy of Thede, as the two boys struggled along through snow
nearly up to their knees. "I'm about all in!"

"He's capable of keeping it up all night!" Thede answered in a
dejected tone, "but I hope he'll stop when we come to the hills."

"He does seem to be heading for the hills," Sandy replied. "If
he'll only stop when he gets there, I may be able to catch my
breath again!"

"Cheer up!" laughed Thede. "The worst is yet to come!"

"Doesn't that look like the moon coming up?" asked Sandy an hour
later as they came to a slope which gradually led up to the hills.

"That's the moon, all right!" replied Thede. "But it won't do much
good if we keep on walking under the trees. We ought to be home
now."

"Does the moon rise in the south?" asked Sandy,

"There's no knowing what will take place in this part of the
country," answered Thede. "Me for little old Chicago right soon!"

"I think it's about time we headed for Chicago," Sandy agreed.
"When a couple of Boy Scouts who are supposed to be in their right
minds climb a tree to get away from bears who are so busy eating
stolen fish that they don't know there is a boy within a hundred
miles, I think it is about time they headed for civilization."

"What did you mean about the moon rising in the south?" asked Thede.

"Well," Sandy answered, "it looks to me as if there were two moons
rising, one in the east and one in the south!"

There certainly was a light growing far up on the hills. In a
moment the Indian came back to the boys and pointed out the strange
illumination.

"Fire there!" he said.

"What do you think it means?" asked Thede.

"Heap campfire!" was the reply.

Oje held up three fingers to indicate that he saw three fires. His
eyes were sharper than those of the boys, who at first saw only a
blur of light. Before long, however, they caught sight of three
points of flame lifting above the hills. As the boys looked the
blazes seemed to die down, or to be obscured by additional material
being thrown upon them. As the moon rose, sending a wintry light
over the great slope, three gigantic columns of smoke stood where
the flames had shown a minute before.

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

"Can you read the signal?" asked Sandy.

"Do you really think it is a signal?"

"Of course it's a signal!" cried Sandy. "That's the Boy Scout
signal. Do you know what it says?"

"Three smoke columns mean 'Good News!' answered Thede.

"Do you suppose those crazy boys are still in the hills?" asked
Sandy. "If they are, George will think we've all deserted him."

"Of course they're still in the hills!" declared Thede. "No one
but Boy Scouts would be sending up those signals!"

"Aw, what good news would they have to communicate?" asked Sandy.

"Perhaps they've found the Little Brass God!" suggested Thede.

"Found your Little Brass Uncle!" cried Sandy.

"Well, it's good news anyhow!" insisted Thede. "If it wasn't the
boys wouldn't be taking the pains to build three big fires in order
to tell us about it."

The Indian appeared to be suspicious of the campfires ahead until
the boys explained to him, with much difficulty, that the fires had
undoubtedly been built by their friends, and that they conveyed the
information that agreeable developments awaited them.

The slope of the hills was now bathed in moonlight, and the Indian
hesitated about advancing over the many clear places from which the
timber fell away. Urged on by the boys, however, he finally
proceeded cautiously in the direction of the fires, keeping out of
the moonlight as far as possible.

"Oje's afraid we'll bunt into something," Thede said, as they
clambered up the slope. "I wonder what he'd think if he should be
called out of his bed by a blooming magician from the East Indies."

The signal coming from the hills was farther to the east than the
boys had ventured before. The fires seemed to have been built high
up on a shelf of rock facing the north.

When the boys came closer they saw two figures moving about in
front of the flames. Directly they bad no difficulty whatever in
recognizing Will and Tommy, as they heaped great piles of green
boughs on the coals in order to create dense smoke.

"The kids are in the center of the stage all right!" laughed Sandy.

"I don't see how they dare build fires out in that exposed place,"
Thede suggested. "There's no knowing who may be prowling around."

"Perhaps they know where the few enemies we have found in this
section are keeping themselves!"

"Perhaps they've got 'em shut up in some of their own caverns!"
Thede suggested. "Anyway," he went on, "there's something doing,
or they wouldn't be talking Boy Scout to us at this time of night."

As the boys drew still closer they heard the labored breathing of
some one running, apparently only a short distance away.

Oje darted away in the direction of the sounds, but soon returned
to where the boys waited and headed once more for the Boy Scout
signal.

"What did you see, Oje?" Thede asked.

The Indian turned and pointed back over the snowy trail they had
followed from the burning tree.

"Man from there!" he said.

"Antoine?" asked Sandy.

The Indian nodded and continued up the slope as if the matter were
unworthy of further attention.

"Now, what do you suppose Antoine came here for?" asked Thede.

"Attracted by the fire, probably,"

"I don't understand what he's roaming about so much for," Thede
continued. "What was he doing out at the burning tree?"

"From the appearance of things," Sandy answered, "I should say that
he hot-footed it out there in order to get away from some one who
was chasing him, though I can't understand why anyone should be
chasing him."

"Anyway, he seems to be back here now," Thede said. "It's dollars
to buttons, though, that he doesn't go up to the fire where the
boys are."

"Look here," Sandy said in a moment, '"I just believe that Antoine
has the Little Brass God in his possession, and that the two men
who came to the cabin that night are after it!"

"I hope they don't get it!"

"Of course they won't get it," Sandy answered. "Didn't we come
away up here into this desolate land to get it ourselves?"

When a few yards from the blazing fires, Sandy paused long enough
to give the Beaver call and hear the answer given. Then the lads
trooped up to the circle of light and warmth.

"What's the idea?" Sandy asked after greetings had been exchanged.
"Did you build these fires so we could cook supper?"

"You're not hungry, I hope!" grinned Tommy.

"Starved to death!" answered Sandy. "We've been treed by bears,
and dumped down on the back of a great beast about nine feet long,
and had our fish devoured, and there's been nothing doing in the
eating line since noon!"

"Never you mind the hardships of life!" grinned Will. "We've got
great news for you, so get ready to shout!"

"What's the great news?" demanded Sandy.

"We've got the Little Brass God penned up in the cavern just under
this rock! We've got a cinch on him this time!"

CHAPTER XX

A SIGHT OF THE GOD

"All quiet at the cabin?" asked Tommy.

"All quiet when we left," Sandy replied.

"What time did you leave?" demanded Tommy, suspiciously.

"Shortly after dinner."

"And you've gone and left George alone all this time!" exclaimed
Tommy indignantly. "You're a bright lot!"

"We thought you boys would be back to the cabin long before this!"
Sandy declared. "But what is it about this Little Brass God?"

"When we reached the system of caverns which we visited not long
ago, and in which we were held prisoners for a short time," Will
said, "we found two men, well bundled up in furs, lying asleep, or
apparently asleep, in one of the smaller rooms. They sprang up
when they saw us and seemed about to engage in conversation with us
when Antoine made his appearance. Antoine seemed to want to talk
with us, too, but when he saw the two men who had been asleep in
the cavern he hot-footed down the slope, with the two fellows after
him. I never saw a man run so fast in my life."

"I bet they chased him clear to our tree!" Thede cut in.

"I guess he never stopped running until be got there anyway!" Sandy
grinned. "But why should he come right back here after being
chased away?"

"I don't think he did!" "Will replied.

"Oje saw him out here not long ago!" Sandy insisted.

"What was he doing?"

"I presume he was watching the fire."

"The two men who pursued him are back, too!" Will continued.
"Tommy and I found them in a cute little nest in the rocks not more
than an hour ago. Just before we built these fires, in fact."

"I suppose you built the fires to lure us from the cabin!" laughed
Sandy. "Well, we wasn't at the cabin, but we saw the signals just
the same!"

"We wanted you to come and help capture the men who have the Little
Brass God," Will answered.

"So you've got the Little Brass God penned up under the hill!"
laughed Sandy. "You've got it, and yet you haven't got it!"

"I never said we had it!" Will replied. "I said we had it penned
up under the hill. You didn't give me time to explain that there
were two men penned up with it."

"All right!" Sandy said. "You've come to the right shop for
fighting men. I can see those two fellows fading away at my
approach!"

"Then you go in ahead," advised Tommy. "They seem to be well armed
and may shoot, if you don't scare them into fits with one of your
fierce glances! They're bold, bad men!"

"How do you know they haven't disappeared while you've been making
signals?" asked Sandy. "They've had time enough to be five miles
away!"

"We nailed 'em in with a couple of boulders!" grinned Tommy.

"You followed Pierre's example, did you?"

"Yes, we just blocked 'em in."

"Well, I think we'd better be getting them out, then!" Sandy urged.
"And also be moving toward the cabin. George'll think we've got
killed or something."

"Come on, then," Will exclaimed. "I'll show you where they are!"

The boy led the way down the slope for some distance and then
paused at a boulder which blocked the entrance to what seemed to be
a cavern of good size. They listened for a moment, but could hear
no sounds coming from the interior.

"How're you going to get them out?" asked Thede.

"We ain't going to get 'em out!" replied Will. "What do you think
we brought you boys here for? We know they can't get out, so we're
just going to sit down here and wait for them to get good and
hungry."

"All right!" Sandy answered. "Two can watch and two can go back to
the cabin! George will be good and anxious by this time."

"I was thinking of asking Oje to watch a short time," Will said.
"It's a good thing the Indian came along with you."

Oje was called down to the barricaded entrance and the situation
briefly explained to him. The Indian stepped close to the boulder
and listened for a long time for sounds from the inside.

Then he turned to, the boys and shook his head gravely.

"Don't you ever tell me they've gone and got away!" exclaimed
Tommy. "Why, they couldn't get away unless they walked through
forty feet of solid rock! And they couldn't do that!"

"I'm going to find out!" declared Will.

The lads pried the boulder away, blocking it so that it could not
crash down the slope and so warn the men inside of the approach of
the boys. Then Will crept cautiously into the dark passage.

The others were at his heels in a moment. On the previous visit of
Will and Tommy, there had been the light of a torch in the cavern,
but there was no illumination of any kind now.

"I guess they've gone, all right!" Tommy, whispered.

"Why didn't you get the Little Brass God while the getting was
good?" demanded Sandy.

"The guns those fellows carried didn't look good to me!" was the
reply.

"It's a mystery to me how they ever got out of this cavern," Will
observed.

"Perhaps they are still here, waiting to get a shot at us!"
suggested Thede. "This would be a bad place for an attack."

As the boys advanced they heard a whisper of voices farther in, and
what seemed to be the rattle of footsteps over the uneven floor.

Then from some, apparently, distant comer of the cavern came a cry
in an unknown tongue. The next instant the place was illuminated
by two great torches of resinous wood.

They flamed high in the hands of the men who had been discovered in
the cavern during the first visit.

"Look!" cried Will, pointing. "Look!"

The eyes of the boys followed the pointing finger dimly outlined in
the light of the torches, and saw the Little Brass God swinging to
and fro in an uplifted hand!

"There!" exclaimed Tommy. "I told you we'd got the Little Brass
God!"

"But you haven't got it yet!" taunted Sandy.

"We'll have it in a minute!" replied the boy confidently.

The ugly little image remained in sight for perhaps half a minute,
and then the cavern became dark as pitch again.

The boys heard a quick rush of footsteps, apparently passing
further into the cavern, and then all was silent.

"That isn't the man who had the Little Brass God the other time I
saw it!" Thede declared. "I guess these fellows must have got it
away from Antoine, or whoever it was who had it at that time."

"I wish we had a searchlight," suggested Sandy.

"I've got a little one for a cent," Tommy answered. "I never leave
the camp without one. No knowing when one may be needed,"

"Strike a light then!" whispered Sandy.

"That would be a fine way to get a bullet into my coco!" Tommy
whispered back. "I'll just wait a while and see what's doing."

There was nothing doing--nothing whatever! The boys, after waiting
some ten minutes, advanced into the cavern which was now perfectly
still.

Directly Tommy turned on his electric. The little flame revealed
no presence there save that of the boys themselves. They searched
every nook and corner of the place, believing it impossible that
the two men could have escaped. At last, however, they were forced
to the conclusion that once more they had lost track of the object
of their search.

"But where did they go?" demanded Tommy.

"I guess that's what no fellow can find out," replied Will.

The boys continued their search in the hope of finding the passage
by which the two men had escaped. At last they came to a small
opening in the floor of the cavern which apparently led to a cavity
farther down.

"They didn't wait for the elevator!" laughed Tommy. "Shall we go
down after them?" asked Sandy.

"I think we'd better get back to the cabin." Will argued. "It must
be after ten o'clock now, and George may be in trouble for all we
know."

"Three times and out!" exclaimed Sandy. "The next time we catch
sight of the Little Brass God, we'll sure get out fingers on it!"

"I'd be happy just now if I could get my fingers on something to
eat!" Thede declared. "I'm about starved!"

"We've got a few sandwiches, if they'll do any good," suggested
Will.

"If they'll do any good!" repeated Sandy. "You bring 'em out here
and we'll see whether they will or not."

"Thede ran to the door of the cavern and looked out, calling softly
to the Indian as he did so. Oje was nowhere to be seen!

"I wonder where that Indian went?" the boy asked.

"He probably got busy after some one!" Will replied.

The boys devoured the sandwiches which remained from the supply
provided by Will and then started back to the cabin.

The moon was now high up in the heavens, and the boys could trace
foot tracks in the snow quite distinctly. For a time they saw the
prints of Oje's moccasins. They seemed to be following another
track which was obliterated by his passage.

"Perhaps he's chasing the two fellows who had the Little Brass
God!" suggested Sandy. "If he is, I hope he gets 'em."

After a time the tracks swung away to the left and the boys saw
them no more. When they came in view of the cabin a bright light
was reflected through the broken window pane, but there seemed to
be no evidences of motion on the inside.

"I presume George has gone to sleep," Will said. "I should think
he'd be tired of waiting. It must be somewhere about one o'clock!"

When the boys came up to the cottage they saw a figure detach
itself from the shadows which lay against the west wall and dash
precipitously into the thicket. Will hastened to throw the door
open.

The boy started back in alarm, as he noted the condition of the
interior. The bunks lay broken on the floor, and it was plain that
the whole apartment had been most thoroughly pillaged.

CHAPTER XXI

TWO RIFLE SHOTS

As the boys stepped into the room George arose from a heap of
blankets near a broken bunk and stood regarding them with a
quizzical smile on his face. The boys at once clustered around him
with dozens of questions on their lips.

"What's been doing here?" demanded Tommy.

"You missed the biggest sensation of the excursion!" exclaimed
George.

"Where are the fellows who busted up the furniture?" asked Sandy.

"You ought to know," replied George. "They ran out just before you
entered. It's a wonder you didn't meet them."

"Who are they?" asked Will.

"You remember the two men who came to the window that night?" asked
George. "Well, these were the two men!"

"Did one of 'em have his head in a sling?" asked Tommy.

"Sure he did!" was the reply.

"Why don't you sit down and tell us all about it?" asked Sandy.

"That won't take long," replied George. "They came in here
something like half an hour ago and began mixing up with the
furniture. They searched everything in sight and out of sight, and
were about to take up the floor, I reckon, when they heard you
coming."

"Did they say what they were searching for?" asked Will.

"Not directly," was the reply, "but I know from expressions I heard
that they were searching for the Little Brass God."

"The Little Brass God?" repeated Will. "Why, they've got it now!"

"You bet they have!" Tommy joined in.

"How do you know they have?"

"Because we saw them have it in the cavern!" answered Will. "They
were in that cavern not more than five minutes before we left the
hills. They must have hustled to beat us to the cabin and make a
half hour's search before we arrived."

"I think we've all got a lot of guesses coming," Sandy observed.

"Yes, but what I can't get through my head is why those fellows
should be searching through the cabin for the Little Brass God when
they have it in their possession," Will said.

"You're sure they had it?" asked George.

"I saw them have it in the cavern earlier in the evening," was the
reply. "When we went to try to make them give it up, they vanished
as if they had gone up in the air!"

The boys began straightening things in the cabin, and Sandy busied
himself in the corner where the provisions were stored.

"I'd like to know where that Indian went," Thede said, as he
assisted Sandy in preparing some of the game which had been caught
early the morning before. "He won't go far away, I'm thinking."

Before the words were off the boy's lips the door was pushed gently
open and Oje looked in. He made a gesture asking for silence and
went out again, softly closing the door behind him.

"That's a funny proposition!" whispered Tommy. "Why don't he come
in and get some of the supper Sandy is getting ready?"

The door opened again, then, and Antoine staggered inside. His
face was bloodless and his eyes seemed starting from their sockets.
His clothing was slit in places as if he had been attacked with a
knife, and he staggered about while searching for a chair.

Will sprang forward to the man's assistance, helped him to a chair,
and poured a cup of strong coffee, which the roan drank greedily.

The man's eyes roved wildly about the room for a second then he
turned anxiously to Will.

"Did they get it?" he asked.

"Did they get what?" asked the boy.

"What they came to search for."

Will turned inquiringly toward George.

"Did they find anything during their search?" he asked.

George shook his head.

"They hadn't concluded their search," he replied. "Then they
failed to find the Br----"

There was a movement at the window followed by a rifle shot.

Antoine sitting before the fire by George's side crumpled up and
dropped to the floor, a stream of blood oozing from his temple.

Before the lads could quite comprehend what had taken place, a
second shot came from outside. Then Oje's face appeared in the
doorway again, beckoning to those inside.

Tommy and Sandy stepped into the open air and were directed around
to the rear of the house.

There, face up in the moonlight, lay the man whom Will had
described as an East Indian. The bandage was still around his
head, but a new wound was bleeding now. His eyes were already
fixed and glassy. The bullet had entered the center of the
forehead.

"He shoot man inside!" the Indian grunted.

"And he killed him, too!" answered Tommy.

Entirely unconcerned, the Indian would have struck off into the
forest, but the boys urged upon him the necessity of partaking of
food. With a stoical exclamation of indifference, Oje finally
followed them into the cabin and seated himself before the open
fire.

Antoine was quite dead. The boys straightened his still figure
upon the floor and placed by its side the body of the man who had
been his murderer.

"We must give them decent burial in the morning," Will decided,
"and in order to do so, we must keep them away from the wild
animals of the wilderness tonight."

There was a hushed silence for a long time in the room. The boys
involuntarily turned their eyes away from the two inanimate objects
which had so recently possessed the power of speech and motion.

Presently Sandy saw something glistening at the breast of the dark
man. Where his heavy coat of fur dropped back the boy thought he
distinguished a gleam of gold. Thinking that it might possibly be
some trinket calculated to reveal the identity of the man, Sandy
advanced to the body and threw the coat open.

There was the Little Brass God!

"We didn't have to find it," Tommy said slowly after a short pause.
"The fellow brought it to us!"

Will took it into his hand and made a careful examination of it.

"Do you think this is the one we are after?" he asked.

"Holy Moses!" exclaimed Sandy. "You don't think there are two
Little Brass Gods, do you? One seems to have kept us pretty busy!"

"I've heard of their traveling in pairs," Thede suggested.

"Is this the man who made the search of the house?" asked Will of
George.

"That is one of them!" was the reply. "The other seemed to be a
man in the employ of this man. He was dressed like a trapper and
acted like one. They quarreled over some suggestion made by this
man and the one whom I took to be a guide went away in a rage."

"You are sure he didn't find what he was looking for?"

"Dead sure!"

"Then there are two Little Brass Gods!" insisted Tommy.

"Yes, and I guess the one we want is the one we haven't got!" Will
said.

"I don't see how this fellow could have the one containing the last
will of Simon Tupper," Tommy argued. "Can you open the tummy of
the Little Brass God, Will?" asked Sandy.

"Mr. Frederick Tupper showed me how to do the trick," Will answered.

"Then why don't you see whether this is the right one or not?"
asked Sandy. "If you can open it, it's the one; if you can't, it
isn't the one!"

"Wise little boy!" exclaimed Will taking the ugly image into his
hands again.

He pressed here and there on the surface of the Little Brass God,
touching now a shoulder, now a foot, now the top of the head, for
all the world like one operating the combination of a safe.

"You see," he said, as he continued his strange employment, "the
shell of the image is not very thick and when I press on certain
parts, certain things take place on the inside."

He put his ear to the side of the image and listened intently.

"There!" he said. "You can hear a click like the dropping of a
tumbler when I press here at the back."

"If the combination works, then," shouted Tommy, "it must be that
we have the Little Brass God holding the will."

"It works all right enough," Will replied.

With the final pressure on an elbow Will turned a foot to the right
and the Little Brass God opened exactly in the center.

But no will was found in the cavity. Instead a mass of diamonds,
emeralds, pearls, rubies, amethysts glittered out upon the floor.

The boys stood looking at the shining mass with wide open eyes.

"There must be a million dollars there!" Tommy said almost in a
whisper.

"I wasn't thinking of that!" Will said. "I was thinking that,
after all our labor and pains, we have unearthed the wrong Brass
God."

"But we've just got to find the right Brass God," Sandy insisted.

"Yes, and we'll have a sweet old time doing it!" exclaimed George.
"The poor fellow who lies dead there searched every bit of space
inside the cabin, yet he didn't find it!"

"But it may not be anywhere near the cabin!" exclaimed "Will.

"If we knew whether Antoine ever had it in his possession," Tommy
said, "we'd know better where to look."

"Of course he had it in his possession!" said Sandy. "I'm sure
he's the man who took it from the pawnbroker's shop on State
street. Now let's see," the boy went on, "what were the last words
he spoke?"

"He started in to say Brass!" replied Will.

"Then you see, don't you, that that proves that he knew all about
it?"

"Yes, and he asked if they found what they were looking for," Tommy
contributed, "and that shows that the Little Brass God he brought
from Chicago is some where about this palatial abode."

CHAPTER XXII

THE TWIN BRASS GODS

Oje, who had been sitting by the fire, waiting for his supper, long
delayed by the rush of events, now arose and took the Little Brass
God into his dusky hands.

"Have you ever seen one like that before?" asked Will.

The Indian shrugged his shoulders and pointed to the body of
Antoine.

"Dead man have one!" he said.

"Like this?" asked Will.

The Indian grunted an assent.

"Then I'll tell you what took place, boys," Will said. "When
Antoine shot Pierre, he came here and took possession of the cabin
and provisioned it, He had had the Little Brass God in the cavern
where George and Thede saw it, and he thought a safer place for it
would be the cabin."

"So he moved in here and hid it!" Tommy went on. "And we boys
chased along and drove him out into the wide, wide world. Now the
question is whether he took the Little Brass God back to the cavern
or whether he left it hidden about the cabin."

"It's a hundred to one shot," Sandy observed, "that this dead East
Indian knew that the image he sought was in or about this cabin.
The first night we came here he prowled about looking for it and
tried to get one of us boys into a hypnotic trance. We don't know
how many times he has been back here since that night."

"But who sent the fellow up here after the Little Brass God,
anyway?" asked George. "How did he come to get on the track of the
ugly little devil."

"I guess that's something we'll have to find out in Chicago,"
replied Will. "All we know is that Antoine was scared to death of
him, as shown by his sudden flight from the cavern when he looked
in and saw the East Indian and his guide standing looking out at
him."

"And they chased him clear up to our burning tree!" Thede cut in.

"That's a fact," Sandy replied. "That dusky faced chap certainly
had Antoine buffaloed!"

"Well," Will went on, "the East Indian kept returning to the cabin
and Antoine kept returning to the cabin, so it's a pretty safe bet
that the Little Brass God we seek is here. Besides, the fact that
Antoine asked if the East Indian found anything proves that it is
in or about the cabin."

"Well, we're going to find it if we tear the cabin to pieces,"
Tommy said. '"As Will says, it is a sure thing it is not far away."

There was not much sleep in the cabin that night, and it was a
dreary supper the boys ate. Before daylight the Indian lay down
upon the floor in a blanket, but the other boys remained awake
until morning.

Then they began the search for the Little Brass God. They were
satisfied now that Pierre had never had possession of it, that he
had been despatched as one familiar with the woods and the ways of
Antoine, in the Sigsbee interests to secure it from the man who had
purchased it at the pawn shop. Everything pointed, as has been
stated, to Antoine's being the man who had taken it out of Chicago.

The boys searched the cabin for two days until not a sliver of the
inside remained uninvestigated. Then, after putting up their
tents, they began taking the structure down, log by log.

On the third day they found what they sought in the heart of a
rotten log. Antoine had hidden it in a secure place. Will had no
difficulty in opening the belly of the little image, and there he
found the last will of Simon Tupper, bequeathing his entire
property to Frederick Tupper.

"That settles the case, boys, so far as we are concerned," Will
said, "and I think we'd better be getting back to Chicago in order
to straighten things out."

"You talk about getting back to Chicago like we could take the
elevated and get there in an hour!" laughed Sandy. "I guess that
you forget that we've got three hundred miles of wilderness to
travel before we reach the railroad station!"

"Well, we've got our canoes, haven't we?" asked Tommy.

"Yes," Will answered, "and if we want to use the canoes, we'll have
to wait until the river opens in the spring. We can get out on the
ice all right, I guess."

At the end of two weeks the boys found themselves at a way station
on the Canadian Pacific road. After that it did not take them long
to reach Chicago. During the trip down they had rather enjoyed the
hunting and fishing. Once or twice they had caught sight of a man
whom they believed to be the guide the East Indian had secured, but
after a time the man disappeared entirely and was seen no more.
Oje accompanied them part of the way and then much to their regret,
turned back.

The finding of the will, of course, settled the Tupper estate for
good and all, and the boys were well rewarded for what they had
done.

"There's one thing I'd like to know," Will said, as they sat in Mr.
Horton's office after all the adventures of the trip had been
related, "and that is where this second Little Brass God came from,
and how this East Indian got into the Hudson Bay country in quest
of the other Brass God about as quick as we did."

"That has all been explained," the attorney replied. "From your
description, Antoine is undoubtedly the man who took the Little
Brass God in which we were interested from the pawn shop. The
evening papers of that day described the burglary of the Tupper
home and referred particularly to the taking of the Little Brass
God from the mantle in the library.

"The newspapers said at that time that the taking of the image
would doubtless result in the discovery of the burglar. In this,
the newspapers were wrong. The burglar has never been brought to
punishment.

"On the other hand, however, the taking of the Brass God led to the
recovery of two sacred ornaments belonging in a Hindu temple in
India. It seems that two prominent Hindus read the article
concerning the Little Brass God and made inquiries at police
headquarters and at all the pawn shops in the city concerning it.
The idols had been stolen years before and these men considered it
their duty to restore them to the temple if in their power to do so.

"They found one of the Little Brass Gods without difficulty, it
having been purchased a few months ago by a dealer in antiques.
They might have known of the wealth contained in the belly of the
idol, but it is certain that the dealer in antiques never did. Of
course the East Indians learned all that any one knew concerning
the destination of the image taken from the pawnshop, and so one of
them, the man who was killed, went north in quest of it.

"So far as Pierre is concerned, it is probable that he was picked
up here in Chicago and sent north by Sigsbee. Of course we shall
never know the truth of that matter, but it is plain that he is not
the man who took the idol from the pawnbrokers' shop.

"Well, that ends the case so far as we're concerned," George
replied, "and if you've got any more Boy Scout excursions in view,
Mr. Horton, I wish you'd suggest a hot climate for the next one.
It seems to me like I never would get warm again!"

"What do you think of the people who live up in the Hudson Bay
country all the year round?" asked Mr. Horton. "How would you like
to wander around there year after year, as Oje does?"

"Say that Oje's a good Indian!" Tommy exclaimed. "I tried to get
him to come on down to Chicago with me, but he said he wouldn't
live here on a bet."

"What are you going to do with the two Little Brass Gods and all
the precious stones?" asked Sandy.

"I would suggest," Mr. Horton replied, "that the two idols be
returned to the Hindu still remaining in the city, the companion of
the one who was killed, and that the jewels be returned with them."

"That's a lot of money to give away," Sandy suggested.

"There's nothing compulsory about it!" laughed Mr. Horton. "If you
boys want to run the risk of being chased up by those Hindus until
they finally get their hands on the idols, you may do so."

"Not for mine!" exclaimed Thede. "I don't want any dusky East
Indians chasing me up!"

It was finally decided to restore the two little Brass Gods with
the jewels to the Hindu. Later the body of the East Indian was
taken from its grave near James Bay and transferred to his own
country.

"There's one little commission I'd like to have you boys
undertake," Mr. Horton said, after all the details of the Tupper
case had been settled. "There's quite a bunch of trouble down here
in a coal mine that I'd like to have you boys look into."

"Is it good and warm down there?" asked George.

"Suppose you walk down a few thousand feet under ground, some day,
and make a note of the temperature!" laughed Tommy.

"Of course we want to go!" replied Will.

After a few days in Chicago, the Boy Scouts were off on their
travels again. The story of their adventures will be found in the
next volume of this series entitled.

"Boy Scouts in the Coal Caverns; or, The Light in Tunnel Six."

Book of the day: