I. Friends and Enemies
II. Another Outing Proposed
III. A Lesson in Photography
IV. What Happened at the Circus
V. Something About a Lion
VI. Something About a Chimpanzee
VII. Up the River
VIII. The First Night Out
IX. Into the Rapids
X. The Cabin in the Woods
XI. A Strange Meeting
XII. The Circus Boy’s Story
XIII. Some Fine Fishing
XIV. After Deer with Gun and Camera XV. In the Mountains at Last
XVI. A Visit from the Enemy
XVII. What Happened Under the Cliff XVIII. A Fight with Two Wildcats
XIX. Some Unlooked-For Game
XX. On the Mountain Side
XXI. Adrift in the Woods
XXII. The Spink Crowd Again
XXIII. A Bear and a Lion
XXIV. A Notable Capture
XXV. The Two Foxes
XXVI. More of a Mystery
XXVII. An Old Friend Appears
XVIII. After a Black Bear
XXIX. The Bottom of a Mystery
XXX. Good-By to the Boy Hunters
My Dear Lads:
This story is complete in itself, but forms volume four in a line known by the general title of “Boy Hunters Series,” taking in adventures with rod, rifle, shotgun and camera, in the field, the forest, and on river and lake, both in winter and summer.
My main object in writing this series of books is to acquaint lads with life in the open air, and cause them to become interested in nature. In the first volume, called “Four Boy Hunters,” I told how the youths organized their little club and went forth for a summer vacation; in the second book, “Guns and Snowshoes,” I gave the particulars of a midwinter outing, with its heavy falls of snow, its blizzard, and its most remarkable Christmas in the wilds.
With the coming of another summer the boys determined to go forth once more, and what they did then has been told in the third book, entitled “Young Hunters of the Lake.” They had a glorious time, in spite of some enemies who tried to do them harm, and they settled the matter of certain “ghost” to their entire satisfaction.
The settling of the ghost question took them home before the summer vacation was half over, and then the boys began to wonder what they had best do next. But that question was soon answered by an announcement made by the father of one of the lads; and once again they went forth, this time, however, to the distant mountains. Here they hunted and fished to their hearts’ content, and likewise took a large number of photographs, some of the pictures causing them a good deal of trouble and peril to obtain.
Trusting that all boys who love to hunt and to fish and to take pictures with a camera will find this volume to their liking, I remain, Your sincere friend, Captain Ralph Bonehill.
FRIENDS AND ENEMIES
“Come on, Shep.”
“Where are you going, Whopper?”
“For a row on the river. I’ve been aching for a row for about a year.”
“That suits me,” answered Sheppard Reed, as he hopped down from the fence upon which he had been sitting. “What about the others?”
“Snap said he would meet me at the dock,” continued Frank Dawson, otherwise known as Whopper. “I don’t know where Giant is.”
“I saw him about an hour ago. He was on an errand for his mother—said he was going to Perry’s store.”
“Then we can look in Perry’s. If he isn’t there I’ll run over to his house for him. It’s a grand day for a row.”
“Yes, we must get him if we can,” went on Sheppard Reed thoughtfully. “I’ve got something to tell the crowd.”
“To tell the crowd?” repeated Frank Dawson curiously. “What?”
“I’ll tell you when we are all together, Whopper.”
“Something about Ham Spink? I met him last night and we almost had a fight. Oh, that dude makes me sick!”
“No, this isn’t about Ham, or any of that crowd. It concerns—– But I’ll tell you later,” and Sheppard Reed put on an air of great secrecy.
“All right. If you don’t want to tell I suppose I’ll have to wait,” said Whopper disappointedly. “But you might tell me what’s on your mind.”
“I want to tell the whole crowd at once,” answered his chum. “Then nobody can say somebody else was told first.”
“I see. Well, you go down to the dock and meet Snap, and I’ll hustle around and stir up Giant,” went on Frank Dawson.
“I was going to have you all over to my house to-night, to tell you,” explained Sheppard. “But I might as well speak of it when we are together on the river.”
“Say, you must have something wonderful on your mind!” cried Whopper. “I’m dying by inches to know what it is. I’ll find Giant somehow, and have him at the dock inside of a quarter of an hour sure.” And away he ran on his errand, while the youth who had the important announcement to make turned in the direction of the water-front.
To those who have read the former volumes in this “_Boy Hunters Series_” the lads who have been speaking will need no further introduction. For the benefit of others let me state that Sheppard Reed was the son of a doctor who had a large practice in and around the town of Fairview. Shep, as he was usually called, was a bright and manly youth, and one who loved life out of doors.
Frank Dawson was a lad who had moved to the town some years before, and by his winning manner had made himself many friends. The boy had a habit of exaggerating when telling anything, and this had earned for him the nickname of Whopper—even though Frank never told anything in the shape of a deliberate falsehood. As some of his friends said, “you could tell Frank’s whoppers a mile off,” which was a pretty stiff “whopper” in itself.
These two boys had two close chums, Charley Dodge, usually called Snap—why nobody could tell—and Will Caslette, known as Giant, because of his small stature. Charley, or Snap, as I shall call him, was the son of one of the richest men of the district, his father owning a part interest in a sawmill and a large summer hotel, besides many acres of valuable forest and farm lands. Giant was the son of a widow who had once been poor but was now in comfortable circumstances. Though small for his age, the lad was as manly as any of his chums, and they thought the world of the little fellow.
The town of Fairview was a small but prosperous community, located on the Rocky River, ten miles above a sheet of water known as Lake Cameron. The place boasted of a score of stores, several churches, a volunteer fire department, and a railroad station—the latter a spot of considerable activity during the summer months.
All of the boys loved to camp out, and about a year before this tale opens had organized an outing or gun club, as related in detail in the volume called “_Four Boy Hunters_.” They journeyed to the shores of Lake Cameron and then to another body of water called Firefly Lake, and had plenty of fun and not a few adventures. During their outing they had considerable trouble with a dudish sport—from town named Hamilton Spink, and his cronies, and were in great peril from a disastrous forest fire.
When school opened the young hunters returned to their studies, but with the approach of the winter holidays their thoughts turned again to the woods and water, and once more they sallied forth, as related in full in “_Guns and Snowshoes_.” They found game in plenty, and also ran the perils of a great blizzard, and got lost in the snow.
“Shall we go out again?” was the question asked when the next summer vacation was at hand, and all answered in the affirmative. This time, as related in the volume called “_Young Hunters of the Lake_,” they ventured considerably farther from home—to the shore of a lake said to be visited by a much-dreaded ghost. There they again went hunting and fishing to their hearts’ content, and once more had trouble with Ham Spink and his cronies. They saw the “ghost,” and were at first badly scared, but in the end solved the awful mystery by proving that the “ghost” was nothing but a man—a relative of Giant, who had lost his mind and disappeared some time before. The man was restored to reason, and through his testimony Giant’s mother obtained some money which had been tied up in the courts.
The finding of the man had brought the boy hunters back to Fairview before their summer vacation was half finished. What to do next was the question.
“We ought to go somewhere—staying at home is dead slow,” was the way one of the lads expressed himself; but for a week or more nothing was done.
Whistling gaily to himself, Shep Reed hurried down to the lake front. As he came out on one of the docks he caught sight of Snap, surrounded by half a dozen other lads, all carrying various bundles, and all equipped with guns and fishing-rods.
“Ham Spink and his cronies,” murmured the doctor’s son to himself. “Wonder where they are bound?”
“Oh, we are going to have the outing of our lives this trip,” Ham Spink was declaring in his usual lordly fashion. “It’s going to be the finest outing ever started from this town.”
“Where are you going?” asked Snap curiously.
“Do you suppose we are going to tell you?” demanded another boy, a lad named Carl Dudder. “Not much! We don’t want you to come sneaking after us, to shoot the game that we stir up.”
“We never sneaked after you,” cried Snap rather indignantly. “And we have always been able to stir up our own game.”
“Bah! I know better.”
“Of course they have taken our game—more than once,” came from Ham Spink. “And if they don’t shoot our game they scare it off, so that we don’t have a chance to bring it down.”
“What you say, Ham Spink, is absolutely untrue, and you know it,” put in Shep, brushing through the crowd. “We have never in our lives touched any game that was coming to you or your crowd. We—–”
“Say, do you want to fight?” cried Ham Spink, working himself up into a quick passion; and he doubled up his fists as he spoke.
“No; but I can defend myself,” answered the doctor’s son just as quickly. “I am not afraid of you.”
“And we are not afraid of ghosts, either,” was Snap’s sarcastic comment.
These last words made Ham Spink and one or two of his cronies furious. They had been up to the distant lake where the “ghost” had held forth, and had been so badly frightened that they had come home, “on the run,” as Whopper expressed it now that the matter had been fully explained, Ham and his followers felt decidedly sheepish over it consequently, to mention the affair was as bad as to wave a red rag in front of a bull.
“You shut up about ghosts!” cried Ham, shaking his fist in Snap’s face.
“Say, Ham, let us give ’em a dressing down before we leave,” whispered Carl Dudder. He looked around the dock. “Nobody here but ourselves.”
“That’s the talk,” put in another of the Spink crowd. “They deserve it for trying to crow over us.”
Shep and Snap heard the talk and looked at each other. They endeavored to back away in the direction of the street, but before they could accomplish this the entire Spink crowd threw down their guns, rods and bundles and advanced upon them.
“Keep back!” cried the doctor’s son.
“If you hit us you’ll take the consequences!” added Snap.
An instant later Ham Spink and his cohorts closed in. Snap and Shep were caught, front and back, and several blows were quickly exchanged. It was an uneven contest, and the doctor’s son and his chum might have fared badly had not a sudden cry rang out:
“Look at that, Giant! They are trying to maul Snap and Shep!” The cry came from Whopper.
“Let up there!” added Will Caslette. And then, as small as he was, he ran out on the dock and toward the center of the melee. Frank came with him, and each caught one of the Spink faction by the arm and swung him backward.
“Good! Here are the others!” panted Shep. “Give it to ’em, fellows; they started it!”
The arrival of the pair somewhat disconcerted the Spink crowd, and they stopped fighting. They were still six to four, but to handle four was only half as easy as to handle two. The others looked inquiringly at their leader.
“Give it to ’em!” muttered Ham; but even as he spoke he edged to the upper end of the dock, past Giant and Whopper.
“Give it to ’em yourself,” murmured a follower who had received a blow in the eye. “I guess I won’t fight any more to-day.”
As quickly as it could be done, Whopper and Giant ranged alongside of Snap and the doctor’s son. They gazed defiantly at the crowd that confronted them. For a brief spell there was an ominous silence.
“Say, did we come here to fight or to start on our outing?” asked a lad of the Spink crowd. He was tall and thin, and evidently very nervous. He was a newcomer in the town and knew but little about the quarrels of bygone days.
“Don’t waste time here,” added another youth. “We can finish with them when we come back.”
“You are afraid, now that we are four to six,” said Snap. “You were willing enough to pitch into Shep and me when we were alone.”
“Oh, give us a rest!” growled Ham Spink, not knowing what else to say. He caught up the things he had been carrying. “Come on, fellows,” he added, and almost ran from the dock.
With great rapidity, for they were afraid Snap and his chums would charge upon them, the others of the Spink coterie took up their guns, rods and bundles and followed their leader.
“Let us go after ’em!” cried Whopper. “We can knock them into the middle of next Christmas, and I know it!”
“That’s the talk!” cried the plucky Giant. “Let’s go and make mincemeat of ’em!” And he started to follow those who had retreated.
“No use, boys!” called out Snap. “Come back.”
“Why not?” demanded Whopper.
“They are going aboard the _Mary Raymond_. Ham said so. There she is now, with a lot of other passengers. See, they are heading for that dock already.”
“Where are they going, anyway?” asked Giant as he halted.
“I know,” whispered Whopper. “Just heard about it. They are going to camp out behind Lake Narsac, in the Windy Mountains.”
“The Windy Mountains?” ejaculated the doctor’s son in evident astonishment. “Did you say the Windy Mountains, Whopper?”
“I did. Why, what’s the matter, Shep?”
“Well, if that don’t beat the Dutch!” And then Shep shook his head in a manner that indicated something did not suit him at all.
ANOTHER OUTING PROPOSED
“Will you be so highly condescending and much obliging as to open the trapdoor of your mind and let us know what it is that beats the Dutch?” demanded Giant, after he and his chums had looked at the doctor’s son for several seconds in silence.
“Why, yes, of course,” answered Shep. “But er—it all fits in with what I was going to tell you about in the first place.”
“And that was—–” burst out Whopper eagerly.
“Wait till we are out on the river, away from the town folks. I don’t want everybody to know our business.”
“Great Scott! but Shep’s got a secret!” burst out Snap. “What is it—a treasure hunt, or a new way to make diamonds?”
“Now quit fooling, and come on out in the boat, and you’ll soon know all about it,” replied the doctor’s son.
“Then we have got to wait?” asked Giant reproachfully.
“And when we are dying by inches to know,” added Whopper.
“Yes, you’ve got to wait. So the sooner we get out on the river the better—if you are dying, as you say,” responded the doctor’s son.
While talking the four chums had been watching the departure of the Ham Spink crowd from another dock. Soon the boat that carried the dudish bully and his cronies disappeared around a bend of the river.
In a very few minutes Shep and his chums had their rowboat out. They were used to rowing together, and each took his accustomed place at the oars. Shep gave the word, and like clockwork four blades dropped into the water and the rowboat shot away from the dock.
“Where shall we go?” asked Giant.
“Let us row over to Lackney’s orchard,” answered Snap. “Dandy apples there—and Mr. Lackney told me we could help ourselves.”
“Suits me!” cried Whopper. “I’d rather eat apples than go to a fire. Us three can eat while Shep does the spouting.”
“Humph! perhaps I’d do a little eating myself,” came from the doctor’s son.
It was an ideal day in midsummer, and all of the lads were in the best of spirits. As they rowed along they discussed the encounter with the Spink faction.
“I wish they’d leave us alone,” was Shep’s comment. “I am getting so I fairly hate the sight of Ham and Carl Dudder.”
“So do I,” added Whopper. “But they don’t intend to leave us alone, and that is all there is to it.”
“I am sorry they are going up into the Windy Mountains,” said Shep. “It will—–” And then he stopped short.
“Say, Shep, if you keep on like that we’ll pitch you overboard,” cried Whopper. “If you’ve got anything to tell, tell it, or else keep still.”
“Wait till we get to Lackney’s orchard,” was all the doctor’s son would reply.
They soon came to a bend in the river and, crossing here, drew up to a spot where some trees and bushes overhung the water. All leaped ashore and Snap tied the craft fast to a stake. Then the chums strolled up to some near-by apple trees, selected some fruit that suited them, and threw themselves on the ground to enjoy their feast.
“Now we are ready to listen to your imperial majesty’s secret,” observed Giant as he munched a juicy apple.
“Yes, let us in on it, by all means,” added Snap.
“And don’t say it’s about lessons for the coming fall,” put in Whopper with a mock-serious look.
“Lessons!” burst out Giant. “Perish the thought!”
“Well, to start with,” began the doctor’s son. “How would you like to go camping again?”
“Couldn’t be better!”
“Just as I thought,” continued Shep. “And just what I told my father. He wants us to go out, you know,” and Shep’s eyes began to twinkle.
“He wants us to go out?” asked Whopper. “You mean he is willing for you to go?”
“No, he told me to ask you if you wanted to go out—for him.”
“Mystery on mystery,” came from Giant. “For him? I don’t understand.”
“Neither do I,” came simultaneously from Snap and Whopper.
“Will, it’s this way, to tell you the whole story. Can you keep a secret?”
“Well, then, my father has become interested in a big land company that has procured a large reservation of land in and along the Windy Mountains. The company isn’t going to do much with the reservation this year, but next year it is going to build camps up by the lake, and advertise it as a sort of private hunting and fishing resort. They hope to get the better class of sportsmen up here from the cities and make considerable money.”
“Yes; but how does that affect us?” asked Giant impatiently.
“Wait and you’ll see. My father says the success of the scheme will depend very largely on how it is presented to the public, and he and two of the other men have decided to do some high-class advertising of the project—little booklets and folders, and all that. These booklets and folders are to be filled with photo-engravings, showing the pretty spots in the mountains, and also pictures of the animals and fish a sportsman can get.”
“And does your father want us to get the photographs?” asked Snap.
“That’s it—if we care to do it. He can’t go out, and neither can those other men, and they don’t know who to get. Of course, they could hire a professional photographer, but he would only take scenery, most likely, while what my father wants particularly is pictures of good hunting and fishing, and pictures of real camp life. He thinks we are just the boys to get the right kind of pictures—–”
“So we are, if we had the right kind of cameras,” broke in Whopper.
“Yes; give me a high-class camera and plenty of films or plates, and I’ll take all the photos he wants,” added Snap.
“I haven’t got to the end of my story yet,” resumed the doctor’s son. “Father knows that the pictures—I mean the right kind—will be worth money, and so he said, if we’d go out, and do the very best we could about getting the photos, he would furnish the cameras and plates, and would pay all the expenses of the trip.”
“Whoop! hurrah! that suits me down to the ground!” cried Whopper. “Let’s start to-morrow—no, this afternoon!”
“Offer accepted with pleasure,” came from Giant.
“Do you really think we can get the photographs your father wants, Shep?” asked Snap. “It wouldn’t be fair to take the offer up and then disappoint him.”
“He thinks we can do it. He says he will get us the proper outfit, and before we start he’ll have a professional photographer, who has made a study of landscapes, give us pointers on how to get the best results. He knows we can take pretty good pictures already.”
“In that case, I say, let us accept the offer, by all means,” answered Snap.
“How soon can we start?” demanded Whopper.
“I asked my father that, and he said most likely by next Monday. He will want to give us all some instructions before we leave. And he wants us to read this book,” and Shep drew a small volume from his pocket.
“What is it?”
“A book on how to take the best photographs of wild animals.”
“Humph! It’s easy to get a picture—if you can find the animal,” was Whopper’s comment.
“This tells how to get a picture if you can’t find the animal.”
“Exactly. Here are diagrams showing how to rig up a camera and a flashlight, so that if the animal comes along in the dark and shoves a certain string the light goes off and so does the camera, and the picture is taken. If you want to, you can bait the string.”
“Say, that’s great!” cried Giant.
“I’d like to lay the game low—after I had the picture,” was Snap’s comment.
“We can do that, too—sometimes.”
After that the doctor’s son gave his chums more details of what his parent had said. All the boys were sure they could go out again, for their return home from their previous trip had not been expected by their parents.
“Were you thinking we might meet Ham Spink and his crowd?” asked Giant during a short lull in the talk.
“Yes,” answered Shep. “And if we do, they’ll sure try to make trouble for us.”
“I am not afraid of them,” said Snap. “If they don’t keep their distance we’ll—–”
“Give ’em as good as they send,” finished Whopper. “But great Caesar’s tombstone! just think of going camping again!” And in his joy the youth turned a handspring on the grass. As he arose Giant threw an apple core that took him in the ear. Then Whopper threw a core in return, hitting Shep. A general fusillade of cores followed, and the lads ended by chasing each other around the orchard. Then they trooped back to the rowboat.
“Shall we go and talk to your father?” asked Snap on the way back.
“I think he’d like it if you would,” answered the doctor’s son. “I’ll see if he is disengaged.”
Dr. Reed was busy with a lady caller and the boys had to wait a quarter of an hour. Then he came into the sitting-room and shook hands warmly.
“So you are willing to undertake the commission to get pictures, eh?” he said after a few words. “Well, I am glad of it, for I know you can do it if you’ll try. The outing ought to just suit you.”
“It certainly will,” answered Snap.
“I’ll get the cameras at once and likewise the other things. Let me see, what cameras have you now?”
The boys told him, and he made some notes in a book. A general talk followed, and the physician told the lads just what he would like best to have. He cautioned them to keep quiet concerning the land company’s projects.
“We want to spring this on the general public as a surprise,” he explained. “If we don’t keep it quiet some other folks may try to get ahead of us. To my mind our section of the Windy Mountains is an ideal one for city sportsmen, being wild and yet not too wild, and having some charming spots for camping.”
“And hunting and fishing ought to be good,” added Whopper. “I’ve heard Jed Sanborn say so.” Jed Sanborn was an old hunter who knew every foot of territory for miles around the river and its lakes.
“I suppose we can take along the same general outfit we had before,” remarked Whopper.
“I will get you a new and larger tent,” answered the doctor, “and a few other things I think you ought to have.” Can you go to Rallings to-morrow?”
“Rallings?” asked several.
“Yes. I will pay your way. I want you to go to visit Mr. Jally, the photographer. He is the one to give you a few lessons in photography.”
The boys could all go, and it was decided to visit Railings early in the morning. The physician said he would give his son a letter of instructions for the photographer.
“It would be a good thing if you could stay overnight,” said Dr. Reed. “Then you could have two days instructions instead of one. You could stay at my sister’s house.”
“That would be jolly!” cried Shep. He loved his aunt and knew she would make him and his chums welcome.
“I guess I can stay—anyway, I’ll find out,” answered Snap; and Giant and Whopper said the same.
Little did any of the boys dream of what strange happenings that visit to Railings was to bring forth.
A LESSON IN PHOTOGRAPHY
By consulting a time-table the boys found that a train for Railings left at ten minutes after eight in the morning. The distance to the city was thirty-three miles and the run on the country railroad took the best part of an hour and a quarter.
Snap, Whopper and Giant were on hand ten minutes before train time. They found the doctor’s son ahead of them, and he had tickets for all.
“Well, how did you make out at home?” was the question asked by several, and then it was learned that all had had an easy time of it persuading their parents to let them go on the proposed outing to the Windy Mountains.
“My folks told me to beware of ghosts,” said Snap with a grin.
“We needn’t beware if the ghost turns out to be like that other,” answered Giant.
“My folks told me to keep out of trouble especially with Ham Spink’s crowd,” said Whopper.
“Say, fellows, I reckon you have forgotten something,” said Shep.
“Forgotten something?” queried Whopper.
“There’s a circus at Rallings—to-day and tomorrow.”
“Why, so there is!” exclaimed Giant. “How queer we didn’t remember it before! Casso’s United Railroad Shows. Do you suppose it is worth going to see?”
“I don’t know. But as the admission is only twenty-five cents we might take it in—if we get the chance.”
“Oh, let us take it in, by all means,” pleaded Whopper. “Why, I’m dying to see the elephants and acrobats and all that!”
“Seems to me you’re dying pretty often lately,” answered Snap with a smile. “You ought to become a dyer by trade!” And then he ducked as Whopper made a playful pass at his head.
When the train came along the lads found it well filled, mostly with country folks going to Railings to see the circus. They had to stand up part of the distance to the city.
“Maybe the photographer will be so busy he won’t want to bother giving us lessons,” said Snap.
“Maybe,” answered the doctor’s son. “We’ll have to take our chances.”
Reaching Rallings, the boys hurried at once to the studio of the photographer. They found Mr. Jally taking a family group of father, mother and three sons, and had to wait until the sitting was over. While they waited they watched the crowds on the street.
“Going to be plenty of folks here to see the circus,” was Snap’s comment, and his words proved true, folks flocking in from every quarter of the surrounding districts.
When Mr. Jally was at liberty he read Dr. Reed’s letter with interest.
“The doctor mentioned this to me when he was in Rallings last Saturday,” said the photographer. “I said I’d do what I could for you lads. I am sorry it is circus day, as I am likely to be busy. But I’ll give you all the time I can spare.”
“We can come to-morrow, too,” said Shep. “We are going to stay in Rallings over night.”
“Good! I think I can give you quite a few pointers in that time. I believe you all know something about photographs already.”
“Yes; here are some of our snapshots,” said the doctor’s son, and he brought forth the pictures the boys had taken on their various outings.
“These are not bad,” pronounced the photographer after an examination. “Some of them are very good. They indicate that you have it in you to take some good pictures.” And then he went over the prints carefully one by one, telling them which seemed to be under exposed and which over, and which had not been properly developed and printed. Then he went into the question of grouping and centering and focusing, and told them how best to time their exposures. He was interrupted twice by girls who wanted their pictures taken, and then he told them a great deal about the values of lights and shades, and about suitable backgrounds. Then he brought forth an album of outdoor views and told them to study what was written under each picture.
“There is the time of day and the day of the month,” he said, “and also the condition of the weather. These figures show the ‘stop’ of the shutter, and these the length of the exposure. Have you a timecard for exposures?”
“No; but we are going to get one,” answered Shep.
“They are quite valuable; but even with a card one must often use his own judgment as to just what stop to use and how much time. If you are particularly anxious about a picture you had better take two or three exposures of it, instead of only one. Even the best of photographers occasionally fail to get good results on a first trial.”
After that Mr. Jally brought forth several cameras he had used in outdoor work and explained how they might be used to the best advantage in taking different kinds of pictures and under various conditions.
“Strange as it may seem,” he said, “no two scenes can be handled alike. In one the background may be very light and in the other very dark. One day the atmosphere may be very clear, the next it may be very dense.”
“Yes, we know that, and we have found out that clouds over the sun make a big difference,” said Snap.
The boys spent the balance of the morning and nearly all of the afternoon with the photographer, and learned many things of which they had been formerly ignorant. He recommended that they purchase and study several books on photography, and this they agreed to do.
“I see by the letter that Dr. Reed wishes me to pick out your cameras,” said Mr. Jally. “I am going to the city Saturday and will get them and leave them at the doctor’s house Saturday evening.”
“And will you get the films and plates and other things, too?” questioned Whopper.
“Yes. The doctor wants a complete outfit, including a daylight developing tank, and all the chemicals for developing and printing. Then you can see what your pictures look like before you leave camp, and if a picture doesn’t suit you can take it over again.”
“Not if it’s a wild beast,” answered Giant with a grin.
“In the case of wild animals you had better save your films or plates until you get home. Developing in camp is not conducive to the best work, and you might lose the very film or plate you wanted the most.”
“Yes, I know something about that,” said Whopper. “I once took a beautiful picture—at least, I thought it was beautiful—of a flock of sheep, and when I tried to develop the plate in a hurry I got one end light-struck, so it was no good.”
“Yes, and once, when I was in a hurry to develop a roll of films I had of a military parade,” said Snap, “I got the hypo in the tank instead of the developing solution, and that was the end of that roll.”
“This is a good rule to remember,” said the photographer. “Never open the shutter of your camera until you are certain you are ready to take the picture, and never attempt to develop a plate or a film until you are sure your chemicals are properly mixed, and until you are sure you have everything at hand with which to work, and until you are sure the plate or film is properly protected from the light.”
The boys were surprised when Mr. Jally announced that it was supper time and that he must go home.
“Gracious! And I told my aunt we’d be to supper by six o’clock!” exclaimed Shep. “We’ll have to leg it to her house.”
“Come again to-morrow at nine o’clock,” said the photographer, and this the chums promised to do.
“Well, I’ve learned a whole lot to-day,” said Snap as they walked along. “I am sure I can take a much better picture than formerly.”
“And I’ve learned one little lesson,” came from Whopper. “After this I am not going to take so many snapshots of landscapes. I am going to take time exposures, and put my camera on a tripod, and study the scene through the ground glass, to get the best view possible.”
Mrs. Carson, the doctor’s sister, had given the boys their dinner, and now she had supper on the table waiting for them. Their experiments of the afternoon had made them hungry, and all “pitched in” with a vigor that made the good woman smile.
“What do you intend to do this evening?” she asked.
“We are going to the circus, Aunt Jennie,” answered Shep. “Father said we might go.”
“I thought as much. Don’t stay out too late.”
“We’ll come home as soon as the show is over.”
“Well, if it gets too late I’ll put the key out for you—under the front-door mat,” said Mrs. Carson. “I fancy you can find your way to your rooms.”
“Certainly,” answered Snap.
“You needn’t stay up for us, Aunt Jennie,” said Shep, who knew his relative was in the habit of retiring early.
“I am not going to bed so very early, Shep. I am afraid some of those tramps who follow the circus will come and rob me. I heard the town was full of the good-for-nothings.”
“You had better lock up good after we are gone,” said Giant.
“No fear but what I’ll do that,” answered Mrs. Carson.
“We’ll try not to wake you up when we come in, aunty.”
“I’ll hear you, never fear. And, Shep, if you are hungry when you get back, you’ll find a jar of cookies in the pantry, and a pitcher of milk in the icebox.”
“Good for you!” cried the doctor’s son, and he ran around the table and gave his aunt a hug and a kiss. “You know what boys like, don’t you?”
The four chums were soon on their way to the circus grounds, located on the outskirts of Railings. Here they found erected a large main tent and several smaller ones, all lit up by numerous gasolene torches. At one side of the main tent was a side show, with numerous pictures hung between high poles. Near the entrance to the big show was a ticket wagon, and here a long line of people were awaiting their turns to get the bits of pasteboard which would admit them to the wonders under the canvases.
“Going to have a big crowd and no mistake,” observed Snap as he looked at the folks flocking to the circus grounds.
“I heard they had a big crowd this afternoon, too,” said Giant.
“They had a big crowd and a big fight,” said a man standing near.
“A fight?” queried Whopper.
“Yes. It’s a wonder somebody wasn’t killed.”
“What was the fight about?” questioned the doctor’s son.
“Why, it seems the head boss of the show discharged four of the wagon drivers for drunkenness. The fellows wanted their full month’s wages and the boss wouldn’t give it to them. Then they got ugly and commenced to tamper with some of the animals. The boss called some of his other men, and all hands had a big fight right in the menagerie tent. One boy who was looking on got hit with a club, and a lady fainted, and they almost had a panic. Then the police took a hand, and one of the fellows who was discharged was arrested. The other three got away.”
“Yes, and those other three men say they are coming back,” said a farmer who stood near and who had overheard the conversation. “I saw them at supper time, back of Lum’s hotel. They say they are going to get square on the circus boss, even if they have to break up the whole show to do it.”
“I hope they don’t come back to-night,” said Snap. “I don’t want to get mixed up in any quarrel.”
“Me either,” answered the farmer. “I want to see the show, and that’s all.”
“I don’t think they’ll come back,” said the first man who had spoken. “If they did the police would arrest them on sight. They’ll go to the next town and lay for the circus there.”
By this time the boys had worked their way up to the ticket wagon. Each purchased a ticket of admission, and a moment later all passed on to the inside of the main tent.
WHAT HAPPENED AT THE CIRCUS
The lads had not seen a circus for two years, consequently the show had much of the air of novelty about it for them. They spent half an hour in the menagerie tent, inspecting the wild animals, and then took seats in the main tent, as close to the rings as they could get. Casso’s United Railroad Shows was quite an affair, and the performance was given in two rings at a time, as well as upon a trapeze in the air between the tent poles.
First there was the usual procession of horses and riders, elephants and camels, ponies and carts and racing chariots, and then came the acts, all of more or less thrilling interest. There were six clowns, and they kept the audience in a roar of laughter.
“Say, this is an all-right show,” remarked Giant, after witnessing some particularly thrilling bareback riding. “I wouldn’t try to do that trick on horseback for a thousand dollars.”
“Here come the acrobats,” said Snap as four bespangled performers ran into the rings and bowed and kissed their hands. Then the acrobats climbed up to two bars and did various “turns,” all more or less hazardous.
“Here comes a boy!” cried Shep, as another performer stepped into one of the rings and bowed.
“Just look how thin and pale he is,” whispered the doctor’s son, who sat not far away from the youthful acrobat.
“Looks as if he had had a spell of sickness,” added Giant.
The youthful acrobat did look as if he had been sick and was not yet entirely over it. He walked slowly over to one of the ropes and grasped it in his thin, white hands.
“I—I can’t go up, Mr. Jones,” the chums heard him whisper to the ringmaster.
“Yes, you can—and will, or I’ll cut you with the whip!” was the ringmaster’s harsh answer, and he cracked his lash loudly.
“I—I’m not well enough yet—my head is dizzy,” pleaded the young acrobat.
“Up you go!” snarled the ringmaster, and cracked his whip in such a fashion that the end of the lash took the young acrobat in the calf of the leg, causing him to cry with pain.
“What an outrage!” whispered Snap, clenching his fists. “That ringmaster ought to be cowhided.”
Painfully the young acrobat started to pull himself up on the rope. The ringmaster glared at him and then cracked his whip once more, taking the young performer in the arm.
“Shame! shame!” cried Snap; and “Shame!” added the other boys quickly.
“Shut up, you boys!” growled the ringmaster, turning quickly.
“Then let that boy alone,” answered Snap loudly.
“If you don’t shut up I’ll have you put out!” roared the ringmaster.
The young acrobat had climbed the rope a distance of ten feet. Now he appeared to grow dizzy, and of a sudden he lost his grip and fell in a heap in the sawdust ring.
“You rat, you, I’ll fix you!” hissed the ringmaster. “What do we pay you for, anyway?”
He raised his long lash again, but before he could bring it down Snap and Shep leaped from their seats, quickly followed by Giant and Whopper and two well-dressed men.
“Don’t you hit that boy,” cried Snap loudly. “Don’t you do it!”
“That’s right—let the kid alone,” added one of the well-dressed men.
“Go back to your seats—this is none of your affair,” growled the ringmaster.
“It is our affair,” put in the doctor’s son. “That boy is sick—everybody can see it. He can’t perform.”
He purposely spoke in a loud voice, so that many heard him. At once a murmur arose on all sides.
“That’s right—the kid is sick—take him out of the ring.”
“It’s an outrage to try to make him perform.”
“The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children ought to look into this.”
Half a hundred men and boys stepped up to the ring, and for a few minutes the discussion waxed warm. In the meantime the young acrobat arose unsteadily to his feet. He was so weak he could hardly stand.
“Get back to the dressing-room, and be quick about it,” growled the ringmaster to him. “I’ll settle with you for this later.”
“Down that ringmaster! Give him his own lash!” came from a burly farmer. “We’ll teach him to abuse a boy as is sick!”
This cry was taken up by several. Growing alarmed, the ringmaster took to his heals and disappeared in the direction of the dressing-tent, whence his young victim had already gone. Then the band struck up, and the manager of the show sent out the clowns to do an extra stunt to quiet the audience.
“I’m afraid that ringmaster will have it in for that boy,” said Snap to his chums.
“Poor boy!” murmured the doctor’s son. “He didn’t look as if he was used to this hard life. I wish we could do something for him.”
“Let us try to look into the dressing-room and see what is going on,” suggested Snap.
The four boys watched their chance, and walking around the main tent, crawled under some slanting seats and then got close to the canvas that divided the main tent from that used by the performers in “making up.”
“Grandy, you must know what became of the little rascal,” they heard the ringmaster say. “He came in here.”
“So he did, sir,” was the answer of a canvasman. “But he didn’t stay. He just caught up some clothing and dusted.”
“What! Ran away?”
“He dusted. I don’t know where he went.”
“Humph! He wouldn’t dare to run away. If he tries that game I’ll take his hide off when. I catch him.”
“He couldn’t run very far, Mr. Jones—he was too weak.”
“Bah! He isn’t sick. He wants to shirk his act, that’s all. Just wait till I get hold of him—I’ll teach him to get me into hot water with the audience!” fumed the ringmaster.
“Well; I don’t know where he went,” answered the canvasman, and resumed his work on the wall of the menagerie tent. Then the ringmaster walked to another part of the dressing-tent to put on his street clothing, for he did not dare appear in the ring again at that performance.
“I hope that boy did run away,” said Snap as he and his friends turned back to look at the rest of the performance. “I don’t see why such a nice looking lad should travel with such a crowd as this.”
“Oh, I suppose some of the circus folks are good people,” answered Whopper. “But not that ringmaster.”
“He ought to be tarred and feathered, and I’d like to help do it,” came from Giant.
“Wonder who the boy is?” asked Shep.
“He is down on the bills as Master Buzz, the Human Fly. Of course, Buzz isn’t his real name.”
“No. It is more likely to be Smith or Jones,” answered Whopper. “I’d like to see him and have a talk with him.”
“Perhaps we’ll get a chance to-morrow. The circus is to stay two days, you know,” said Snap.
“Maybe the boy is all alone,” said Shep. “If he is it might be that he would like it first rate if we would help him.”
The boys had lost interest in the show, and were not sorry when it came to an end. They were among the first out, and hurried directly toward Mrs. Carson’s house. In doing this they had to cross the railroad track, and here a passing freight train held them up. The freight came to a halt, and backed to take on some empties. Then it proceeded slowly on its way.
“Well, I never!” cried Snap suddenly as one of the empty cars came into view, under the rays of an electric light. “Look there!”
He pointed to the open doorway of a car. A figure stood there, wrapped in a coat several sizes too large for it—the figure of a slender boy with a whitish face,
“Was that that boy acrobat?” gasped Whopper as the freight train gathered headway and cleared the crossing.
“I think it was,” answered Snap.
“So do I,” put in the doctor’s son.
“If it was, he is losing no time in getting out of town,” was Giant’s comment. “And I don’t blame him.”
“He had on a coat big enough for a man, and his trousers were rolled up around his feet,” observed Snap. “Most likely he grabbed up the first suit he could find when he left the dressing-tent.”
“If it really was the boy,” said Whopper. “It looked like him, but we may be mistaken.”
It did not take the four youths long to reach Mrs. Carson’s home. They went in softly, and each got a cookie and a drink of milk. Then they went to bed and slept soundly until morning.
Promptly on time they presented themselves at Mr. Jally’s studio, and found not only the photographer but also an assistant present.
“I am going to leave my assistant in charge,” said Mr. Jally. “I’ll go out with you, and we’ll have a practical lesson in getting outdoor views.”
Taking two cameras with them, the photographer and the boys started off, to be gone until noon. They walked across the city and along the river, and at the latter locality took half a dozen pictures, Mr. Jally instructing them all the while.
“Now I’ll show you how a commonplace bit of scenery can be made to look quite romantic,” said Mr. Jally presently. “Let us walk over to the railroad embankment. Such an embankment is not pretty in itself, but I think we can get quite a pretty view of it.”
After many instructions they took a view of the embankment. Their walk had tired the photographer, who was rather stout, and he proposed that they rest. Near at hand was a section shed with some lumber piles, and there they took it easy.
During a lull in the conversation the boys noticed three men approaching. They were rather tough-looking characters, and at first the lads took them to be tramps. The men walked behind the lumber piles without noticing our friends.
“Some fellows that followed up the circus, I suppose,” said Snap.
“Yes; the kind my aunt was afraid of,” added the doctor’s son.
“We can do it jest as well as not,” they heard one of the men say. “An’ we got a right, too.”
“Sure we got a right,” said another of the trio in a heavy, rasp-like voice. “We’ll show Casso what it means to do a feller out o’ his lawful wages.”
“Yes; but you look out you ain’t caught,” added the third man. “He’s got all hands watching to spot us.”
“We’ll bust up his show, see if we don’t,” growled the first speaker.
“They must be the fellows who were discharged for drunkenness,” whispered Snap.
“Yes; and they are laying plans to square up with the proprietor,” added Whopper. “Wonder what they will do?”
“If they are up to anything unlawful, they ought to be exposed,” was Mr. Jally’s comment. He, too, had heard of the quarrel of the afternoon before.
“I don’t care to put myself out to help that circus man,” said Snap. “He is responsible for what happened to that sick boy. At the same time, I know ‘two wrongs don’t make a right.`”
The men continued to talk, but in such low tones that the others could only catch a word or two. Something was said about a lion and a chimpanzee and a toolhouse, but the boys could not imagine what the circus men had in mind to do.
Presently one of the circus men got up from his seat and walked around the lumber piles. When he saw the boys and Mr. Jally he uttered a whistle of surprise. Then he turned back to his companions, and all three of the men hurried away into the woods skirting the railroad tracks.
SOMETHING ABOUT A LION
“They are certainly up to something,” was Snap’s comment.
“Yes; and I’d give something to know just what it is,” added the doctor’s son.
Having rested, Mr. Jally took the boys to the bank of the river and there showed them how to make a good picture with a strong reflection in the water. This was rather difficult because of the distribution of light over the plate.
“Be careful when you point your camera toward the sun,” said the photographer. “Otherwise you may get a sun-spot, or ‘ghost,’ right in the center of your picture.”
“I know about that,” said Whopper. “Once I tried to take a picture of my cousin standing by a well. The glare of the sun got on the plate just where her head ought to have been, so she was headless.”
“That sure was a ghost!” cried Shep; and then all laughed.
The boys were to take the seven o’clock train back to Fairview, so at five o’clock they bid farewell to Mr. Jally and walked toward Mrs. Carson’s house to get supper. Just as they turned the corner of a street close to the house they heard a man yelling wildly. He was running rapidly at the same time.
“What’s that fellow saying?” asked Whopper. “Maybe it’s a fire.”
“No, he didn’t say fire,” returned Snap. “It sounded to me like lion.”
“Lion?” questioned Whopper.
“Look out for the lion!” bawled the man. “Look out for the lion!” And down the street he went on the double-quick.
“He did say lion!” exclaimed Giant.
“One of the circus lions must have gotten free!” burst out the doctor’s son.
“Or else those circus men let him loose!” returned Snap. “Don’t you remember they said something about a lion?”
“So they did.”
Others were now taking up the cry, and in a very few minutes men, women and children were hurrying in all directions to get out of the way of the beast. Some said it was one lion, and some said five or six, and everybody was thoroughly scared.
“We’ll be eat up alive!” shrieked one lady. “Come, Bess!” And she took her little girl by the hand and ran for home, slamming and locking the door after her.
Soon everybody was running for shelter, and in a twinkling the doors of stores and houses were tightly closed, and windows followed. The majority of the people went to the upper floors of their dwellings and peered forth anxiously to catch sight of whatever might be roaming the streets waiting to devour them.
“If a lion is really at large it will certainly make things interesting,” observed Snap. “But maybe it’s only a scare.”
“I hope it is,” answered Giant. “Excuse me from brushing up against a real, bloodthirsty lion!” And he moved toward the Carson home, the others following.
“What is it, boys?” asked Shep’s aunt, coming out on the piazza. “What is all the noise about?”
“They say a lion got loose from the circus,” answered her nephew.
“Mercy on us!” ejaculated the lady, and turned pale. “Come in the house this minute, before you are all eat up!”
“We don’t know if it is true or not,” said Snap.
“Better not take any chances,” answered Mrs. Carson. “I once heard of a lion getting loose from Central Park in New York City and eating up five school children.”
“Yes, father tells that story, too,” answered Shep. “But it was all a newspaper hoax—it never happened, aunty.”
“Well, come in, and we’ll close the doors and windows.”
As much to please the lady as anything, the boys went in, and assisted in closing up the lower part of the house. They had just reached an upper window when a man went hurrying through the Street, holding a shotgun in his hands.
“Did a lion really get loose?” called out Snap.
“He certainly did,” was the answer.
“Where is he now?”
“Somewhere back of the freight depot, or in one of the empty freight cars.”
“Going to try to shoot him?” asked Whopper.
“Yes. Four or five of us are going to try to do that or capture him.”
The man hurried on, and presently another appeared, armed with a rifle.
“Wish I had a gun; I’d go on the hunt, too,” said Snap. “Think of laying a real lion low!”
“It would beat deer hunting, wouldn’t it?” answered Whopper. “But supposing the lion turned and hunted you? You’d want to run about ‘leven hundred miles!”
“If you had the chance,” came from Giant. “I’ve heard that a lion can get over the ground as quick as a cat.”
“I don’t want any of you boys to leave this house until that lion is caught,” said Mrs. Carson firmly. “I feel it my duty to keep you here.”
“Maybe they won’t catch him at all,” suggested her nephew.
“Oh, they’ll be sure to catch or shoot him by morning,” answered the lady of the house.
Supper in the dining-room below was rather a haphazard affair. It was eaten behind closed blinds and in semi-darkness, the lady of the house being afraid to make a light, for fear of allowing the roaming lion to see the eating, and her guests. Just as the hired girl was bringing in the dessert a distant shot rang out, and uttering a scream the girl, whose nerves were on edge, let the dessert saucers fall to the floor with a crash.
“Somebody must have shot the lion!” cried Giant.
“Or shot at him,” corrected Whopper.
“Just look what you have done, Mary!” cried Mrs. Carson in dismay.
“I couldn’t help it, mum,” answered the servant girl. “That lion gettin’ loose has scared me stiff!”
“Well, I am scared myself. Clear up the muss, and be careful next time. Boys, you’ll have to do without the preserves. But you can have cake.”
“Cake is good enough for me,” answered Snap, and the others said about the same.
Not long after that came another shot, this time from the corner at the end of the block.
“They are coming this way!” exclaimed the doctor’s son. “Let us go upstairs again and see what is doing.”
“Be careful!” screamed his aunt. “That lion may jump right up to the second story window!”
The boys went to an upper window, and then, growing bolder, stepped out on the top of the front piazza. They saw several men running along a cross street. Then another shot rang out.
“The lion must be in this vicinity,” said Snap.
“I saw something then—over yonder!” cried Giant, and pointed to the back of a yard down by the corner of the street.
“A dog—and he is legging it for dear life,” returned Whopper. “He looks as if he wouldn’t stop this side of the North Pole!”
“Perhaps the lion scared him,” said Shep. “I think—–Look!”
The doctor’s son broke off short and pointed with his hand. Gazing in the direction indicated, the lads saw something dark slinking on the opposite side of a high picket fence.
“It’s the lion!” said Snap in a whisper. “See his tail swaying from side to side?”
“Oh, for a rifle!” murmured Whopper. “Aunty, have you a gun?” called Shep. “We see the lion!”
“No, I haven’t any gun,” answered the lady of the house quickly. “And you had better get inside as quickly as you can. The lion may leap up at you.”
“I don’t think he can jump so high.”
“There are some of the men with their guns,” went on Giant. “See, they are running around to the front of that house.”
“I wonder if they see the lion?” asked Snap. “Let us yell to them,” suggested Whopper. One after another the boys set up a shout. But the hunters were now out of sight and paid no attention to them.
A moment later the lads saw the lion leave the vicinity of the fence, cross the yard, and disappear behind the side of a barn. Then came a sudden smashing of boards, and a wild-eyed horse burst into view and ran down the street at top speed.
“The lion scared that horse,” said Whopper. “Well, he’s enough to scare anything.”
“Boys! boys! why don’t you come in?” pleaded Mrs. Carson. “If he sees you he’ll surely try to get up on the piazza.”
“If he turns this way we’ll come in and shut the blinds,” answered her nephew.
“It may be too late then.”
“Oh, I think not, aunty.”
Another shot rang out, and then the boys saw the men running around the barn.
“Perhaps they have managed to shut the lion in the barn,” said Snap.
“If they are circus men they would rather capture the lion than kill him,” returned the doctor’s son. “Lions must be worth a good deal of money.”
It was now about seven o’clock, and not as light as it had been. A few minutes passed and the men did not seem to be doing anything.
“Do you know what I think?” declared Whopper. “I think that lion is hiding on them.”
“Just what I was going to say,” came from Giant. “Maybe he has crawled to some dark corner of the barn and nobody has the courage to stir him up.”
“Do you want to stir him up?” asked Snap dryly.
“Not on your necktie!” answered the small youth.
“Let him sleep in peace,” added Whopper.
“He won’t sleep,” said the doctor’s son.
“Something doing, now!” cried Whopper a few minutes later. He had seen one of the men run across the yard. “Why, I declare, there is the lion in the yard next door!”
“How did he get there?” asked Snap.
“I don’t know.”
“That man is going to take another shot!” cried Shep as he saw a gun raised.
“And there goes the lion!” cried Snap as the form of the animal arose swiftly in the air. With grace and precision the lord of the animal world cleared the back fence of the yard and crouched down in the street, close to a tree.
“He’s heading this way!” burst out the doctor’s son. “Maybe we had better get indoors.”
“Oh, he can’t leap up here,” insisted Giant, who was brave, even though small.
“We’ll take no chances,” was Shep’s answer. “Come.”
He turned to the window, and so did Snap and Whopper. At that minute one of the men came around the corner of the street. The lion leaped from behind the tree into the roadway. Pulling up his gun, the man banged away wildly, for he was nervous and frightened.
“Oh!” came in a groan from Giant, and his chums saw him stagger.
“What is it?” asked Snap quickly. But instead of answering the small youth staggered around the piazza top.
“Giant is shot!” gasped Whopper. “Catch him! He is falling off the roof!”
Snap made a quick leap forward and caught Giant around the waist. Both were now on the slanting portion of the piazza roof. Snap did what he could to stay their progress, but it was in vain, and the next instant both boys slipped down over the edge. Snap clutched at a honeysuckle vine growing there, but it gave way, and a moment later the two boys rolled to the ground.
SOMETHING ABOUT A CHIMPANZEE
It was well that that honeysuckle vine was growing there and that it gave way slowly after Snap grasped it, for otherwise the two boys might have suffered some broken bones. As it was, Snap bumped his shoulder severely and scraped his ear on the sand of the path that ran around the side of the house.
Poor Giant was unconscious, and even in that perilous moment Snap realized that his little chum had been hit by some of the shot from the gun. Whether the lad was dangerously wounded or not remained to be seen.
The two boys had fallen inside the dooryard, which was separated from the street by a low fence. Hardly did they land when Snap scrambled up, dragging Giant with him.
“The front door! The front door!” yelled Shep from above. “We’ll let you in!” And then he leaped through the window and tore down the stairs four steps at a time, with Whopper at his heels.
As Snap turned and looked out into the street he saw a sight calculated to daunt the stoutest heart. The lion was there, standing erect, with bristling mane, glaring fiercely at him.
“Get away!” the boy yelled, not knowing what else to do. “Get away!” And then he picked up a whitewashed stone, one of a number bordering the garden path. With all his might he threw it at the lion and caught the beast in the head. The animal turned, slunk along the fence, and disappeared behind a tree in front of the next house.
The moment the animal turned away, Snap moved toward the piazza. He had Giant in one of his arms, and in his excitement did not notice the weight of his burden. As he ascended the steps the door was flung open and Shep appeared. Then Whopper showed himself, armed with an umbrella he had snatched from the hall rack.
“Where’s the lion?” asked the doctor’s son.
“Behind the tree!” gasped Snap, and then he literally fell into the hallway with Giant still in his arm. At once the door was closed and locked again.
“Was Giant shot?” queried Whopper, as he threw down the umbrella.
“Yes,” answered Snap. “Make a light,” he added, for the hallway was in total darkness.
Mrs. Carson was still upstairs, while the hired girl in her fright had fled to the garret, so the boys had to stumble around until Shep found a match and lit the lamp. Whopper and Snap carried Giant into the sitting-room and placed him on a sofa. As they did this the small youth opened his eyes and stared around wildly.
“The lion! Don’t let him eat me!” he muttered.
“You’re safe, Giant,” answered the doctor’s son.
“I—I got shot!”
“We know it. Let us see if you are badly hurt.” On several occasions, in cases of accident, Shep had aided his father in caring for patients, and the knowledge thus gained now stood him in good stead. He made a close examination and found that several buckshot had grazed the small youth’s temple, while one had gone through the tip of the ear. Giant’s face was covered with blood, and this was washed off, and then his wounds were bathed with witch hazel and bound up.
“You had a narrow escape,” was the comment of the doctor’s son. “A little closer and you might have been killed, or might have lost your eyesight.”
“That fellow with the gun was mighty careless,” said Whopper.
“He was excited,” added Snap. “He didn’t want to hit Giant.”
Snap said nothing about his hurt shoulder, although the bump he had received made him stiff and sore. He was thankful that the honeysuckle vine had broken the fall from the piazza roof, and that he and Giant had escaped from the clutches of the lion.
The hunters of the animal had gone past the house, and now those inside heard firing in the distance. The shots gradually grew fainter and fainter, at last dying out altogether.
“I guess his lionship has left town,” said Shep.
“Or else he is dead,” added Snap.
Mrs. Carson was much worried over the wounds Giant had received and insisted upon putting on them some salve. The boy declared he felt all right again and that the wounds would soon heal.
“I’m used to little things like that,” he said. “When we went hunting we had all sorts of things happen to us.”
“Mercy on us! Then you ought never to go hunting again!” declared the lady of the house.
“It was a narrow escape,” said Snap gravely. “You can be thankful that man didn’t blow your head off.
“I am thankful, Snap; and I am also thankful for what you did for me,” murmured Giant, and looked at his chum in a manner that spoke volumes.
It was now too late to think of going to Fairview, for the last train had already departed. And as it was, Mrs. Carson insisted upon it that the boys remain all night.
“If you leave the house I’ll be worried to death, thinking the lion caught you,” she said.
So the boys stayed over another night. Late in the evening they stopped two men who were passing the house and from them learned that the lion had been chased to the edge of a big woods north of Railings. He had been wounded, of that the men were certain, and a regular hunting party was going out in the morning to either kill or capture the beast.
“The circus owner has offered a hundred dollars reward for his capture,” said one of the men “So they’ll get him alive if they can.”
“Did any other lions escape?” asked the doctor’s son.
“No; but one of the big monkeys is missing—the educated one.”
“Do you mean Abe, the educated chimpanzee?” queried Snap.
“That’s the fellow—the one who eats, drinks, smokes and does all sorts of stunts. He’s missing, and the circus men are more worried over him than over the lion. One man said the chim—what-do-you-call-him was worth a thousand dollars.”
“I believe that—being educated to do so many things,” said Whopper. “He sat up to a table to eat just like a man.”
“Did you hear how the lion and the chimpanzee happened to get away?” asked Giant.
“Why, there was a report it was the fault of four rascals who used to work for the circus—three men who were discharged for getting drunk, and a boy who did stunts on the trapeze and ran away.”
“That boy!” cried Snap. “Oh, I don’t think he had anything to do with it.”
“Well, that’s what the circus men say. If they catch the men and the boy they’ll have the whole crowd locked up.”
“I am sure the boy is innocent,” said the doctor’s son.
“I got shot by somebody hunting that lion,” said Giant. “Do you know who fired his shotgun out yonder?”
“Oh, that was Hank Donaldson. He’s always blowing about what he can do with a gun, and he was so worked up and nervous he killed Mack’s dog and smashed the plate-glass window in the new five-and-ten-cent store. He got scared to death when somebody told him a boy over here fell from the roof and got hit. Is it bad?”
“No, but it might have been.”
“You ought to pitch into Hank. He ought to know better than to fire so promiscuous-like in the city streets. He meant well, but if he had killed you, what then?” And the man passed on, shaking his head earnestly.
In the morning Giant felt quite like himself and insisted upon leaving off the bandage that had been placed over his forehead.
“I don’t want to become an object of curiosity,” he explained. “Even as it is, I suppose lots of folks will want to know all about it.”
While the boys were eating the door bell rang, and the hired girl announced a man to see the lad who had been shot. The visitor proved to be Hank Donaldson, a big, burly fellow, now nervous to the degree of collapsing.
“I—I hope yer don’t think I did it a-purpose,” said Donaldson. “‘Cos I didn’t—I only wanted to shoot that ‘ere lion, ‘fore he ate sombuddy up.”
“I understand,” answered Giant. “But you were very careless. After this you had better give up lion hunting.”
“I sure will. I am very sorry—yes, I am. Hope you’ll forgive it.”
“I will—if you didn’t mean it,” answered Giant.
“I’ve got a heap o’ troubles, I have,” went on Hank Donaldson. “Got to pay ’bout a hundred dollars fer a plate-glass winder I smashed, an’ got to pay fer a dorg, too. Ye don’t catch me huntin’ lions no more.” And he heaved a mountainous sigh. A few minutes later he departed, saying he hoped Giant would soon get over his hurts.
“I guess he will be punished enough when he pays for the glass and the dog,” said the small youth, and smiled in spite of his wounds.
Getting a ladder, the boys fixed up the brokendown honeysuckle vine, and then bid good-by to Mrs. Carson. She was still a bit timid about letting them go.
“You keep your eyes open for that lion,” she said. “And if you see him, run into the first house or store that’s handy. Don’t think you can shoo him off again with a stone, because it isn’t likely you’ll be able to.”
“We’ll be on our guard, aunty,” answered Shep.
The circus had left town, as it was billed to perform in another city forty miles away. But several employees had been left behind, and these men, aided by a number of others, went on a long hunt for the lion and the chimpanzee. The lion had been seen making for the woods, but what had become of the chimpanzee nobody knew.
“The loss of that chimpanzee is a big one for the circus,” said Snap, while on the way home. “Just see how they feature him on the bills. They have other lions, but Abe was their only man-monkey.”
What the youth said about the chimpanzee was true. Abe, as he had been named, was a wonderful drawing-card. At first a reward of fifty dollars was offered for his return, and later this sum was increased. It may be as well to state here that the owner of the circus suspected that the men who had been discharged by him had the chimpanzee and would have it returned to him when the reward was large enough. What had become of the men nobody knew, and the boy acrobat had likewise disappeared.
“That boy interested me,” said Snap. “I’d like to meet him again and have a talk with him.”
“Maybe we will meet him again some time,” answered the doctor’s son.
“Oh, it’s not likely. There won’t be anything to keep him in these parts. If he is a regular acrobat, more than likely he’ll join some other circus or some vaudeville show.”
“He didn’t look as if he liked the life,” said Whopper.
“That’s the way it struck me,” came from Giant.
When the boys got home they had quite a story to tell. Mrs. Caslette was much alarmed over the injuries her son had received and insisted upon it that Giant let Dr. Reed attend him, which the physician did willingly.
“Not much damaged,” said the doctor. “But he had what folks call a close shave.”
The boys told the doctor about what they had learned from Mr. Jally, and in turn he gave them instructions concerning the photographs he desired them to obtain during their outing in the Windy Mountains. As there might be a little delay in getting the new cameras and in getting some other supplies the start of the trip was postponed until Tuesday.
“And how do you propose to go?” asked Snap of the doctor’s son.
“Father thinks it would be wise for us to row to Firefly Lake. Then we can hide our boat and tote our supplies over to the mountains.”
“That suits me, Shep.”
“Did Ham Spink and his crowd go that way?” asked Whopper.
“I think they did, but I am not sure.”
“Well, I don’t want to meet them if they did,” came from Giant. “They can keep their distance and we’ll keep ours.”
UP THE RIVER
Coming from Sunday-school on Sunday afternoon the boys fell in with Jed Sanborn, the old hunter who had gone out with them on more than one trip. They were rather surprised to see the man carrying his shotgun, for Jed usually believed in respecting the Sabbath day.
“Been out hunting?” queried Snap as all came to a halt.
“Well, yes, kind of,” answered the old hunter. “But not any reg’lar game.”
“I didn’t think you’d be out on Sunday,” said Whopper.
“I took it into my head yesterday to look fer that lion as got away at Railings,” was Jed Sanborn’s answer. “Somebuddy said as how he was keepin’ shady over to Merrick’s woods, so I tramped over. Stayed in the woods all night an’ this mornin’.”
“Did you see the lion?” asked Snap eagerly.
“Nary a hair o’ him, lad, an’ I don’t think he’s in the woods, nuther.”
“But he must be somewhere,” insisted Giant.
“Thet might be, but he ain’t in Merrick’s woods. I’ll bet a glass o’ cider on’t.” Jed Sanborn looked at the boys and grinned. “Goin’ out huntin’ ag’in, so I hear.”
“Whereabouts this time—up whar ye see the ghost?” And the old man chuckled, thinking of what the ghost had proved to be.
“No. We are going over to Windy Mountains this trip,” answered the doctor’s son.
“That far, eh? It’s quite a trip. Hope ye find it wuth so long a journey. I don’t know as the game thar is any better nor around the lakes close to hum.”
“We are going for the fun of camping partly,” said Shep. He did not care to say anything about the picture-taking for his father. “Do you expect to come out that way?”
“If you do you must hunt us up,” put in Snap.
“I’ll do thet, sure pop,” answered Jed Sanborn. He started off, then turned back. “Oh, I say!” he called.
“What is it?” asked Whopper.
“It’s about thet pesky Ham Spink,” went on the old hunter. “Did I tell ye about my spring?”
“No. What of it?” asked Giant.
“Ye know I’ve got a nice spring o’ cold water up by my cabin. Well, some days ago Ham Spink an’ thet Dudder boy came up there, an’ on the sly caved the spring in on me. I caught ’em coming away. I had my shotgun with me, an’ I was mad, good an’ proper. I said they must fix the spring or somebuddy’d git shot. They got scart, I kin tell ye, an’ they got on their hands an’ knees in the sand an’ rocks an’ mud and worked like beavers till they had the spring fixed. It jest about ruined their clothes, an’ when they went off they was as mad as hops. Spink said he would square up, but he’s a blower an’ I ain’t afraid o’ him.”
“It was just like Ham’s meanness, and Carl Dudder’s meanness, too,” said Snap.
The new cameras and supplies had come in on Saturday night, and on Monday morning the boys received a new tent from Dr. Reed, and a tarpaulin from Mr. Dodge. Mr. Dawson gave the boys some blankets, and Mrs. Caslette promised to supply them with a hamper of table delicacies.
“With so many good things we’ll have a better time than ever before,” said Snap.
“Nothing like winding up the summer in good shape,” answered the doctor’s son.
The chums went over their boat with care, to make certain that it did not leak, and then looked over their guns and the rest of their outfit. On Monday evening everything was taken down to the boathouse for readiness early Tuesday morning.
“I am glad of one thing,” remarked Whopper. “Ham Spink and his crowd are not on hand to molest our things, as they tried to do before.”
“Well, we gave ’em a warm reception when they did come to the boathouse,” answered Snap with a grin, referring to an event related in detail in “_The Young Hunters of the Lake_.”
For this particular outing the supplies were extra numerous, and the boys knew it was going to be no light task to transport them by boat and pack.
“We’ll have to make the best of it,” said the doctor’s son. “When we are in the boat we’ll have to row with care, and if we can’t tote the stuff over to the mountains in one trip we’ll make two.”
It was somewhat gloomy Monday evening, and the boys were fearful that it might rain by morning. But the clouds cleared away during the night and the sun came up in the morning as brightly as ever. Each got an early breakfast, and by eight o’clock all were assembled at the boathouse.
“Everything all right?” asked Whopper, who was the last to arrive.
“All O.K.,” answered Snap.
Soon the supplies were stowed away with care, and then the chums entered the craft. It was agreed that two should row at a time, and Snap and Giant took up the oars. Several men and boys had gathered to see them start.
“Don’t forget to bring back another bear!” sang out one man.
“If you should happen to see that lion, better run for it,” cautioned another.
“We don’t expect to see the lion, and we aren’t looking for more bears,” answered Snap. “We are going to take it easy this trip.”
“Well, I wish you luck,” said the man. Then the boys set up a cheer from the shore, and the chums answered it.
“Say, Snap, what makes you think this is going to be a real quiet picnic?” asked Whopper on the way. “Now, I expect to bag about fifty rabbits, a hundred partridges, some wild turkeys, a bear or two, and that lion in the bargain!”
“Wow!” gasped Giant. “Whopper is to the front once more. Why not make it two lions while you are at it?”
“Because there is only one, and I don’t want to be—er—piggish.”
“Why not say lionish?” questioned Shep.
“Aren’t you going to hunt at all?” demanded the boy who loved to exaggerate.
“Of course,” drawled Giant. “I am going to hunt ants, and June bugs, and horseflies, and worms, and—–”
“Oh, come off!” growled Whopper. “You know what I mean.”
“To be sure we’ll hunt,” said the doctor’s son. “But the cameras are going ahead of the guns this trip.”
“Speaking of cameras and worms puts me in mind of something I heard yesterday,” said Snap. “It’s about trick photography. An amateur photographer showed a picture he had of what looked like a fierce snake on a rail fence. By and by he gave the trick away. The snake was nothing but a garden worm wound around some little sticks and toothpicks, and the picture had been snapped at close range.”
“That’s like a trick picture I heard about, taken on two plates,” said Giant. “It was one of a man wheeling himself in a wheelbarrow.”
“I know of three fellows who took a queer-looking picture,” said Whopper. “Now, this is true,” he continued, noticing the others look of doubt. “They got an oilcloth sign, a square one, and then one fellow got up on another fellow’s shoulders. The two fellows held the sign in front of them while the third chap took the picture. When the photo was printed it looked as if the boy carrying the sign was about nine feet high.”
“I heard of that in a different way,” said Snap. “A fellow out in the country took two horses back of a henhouse. He had the head of one horse sticking beyond one end of the henhouse and the hind legs of the second horse sticking out at the other end, and the picture looked as if that horse was fifteen or twenty feet long.”
On they went along the river, past Pop Lundy’s orchard, where they had once had quite an adventure. It was rather warm, but a light breeze cooled those at the oars. Snap and Giant rowed for about a mile and were then relieved by their chums, and thus they changed about until it was time for lunch, when they ran ashore at an inviting spot.
“Rowing makes a fellow hungry,” observed Whopper. “I think I can eat at least fifteen sandwiches, not to mention some cake and a few pieces of pie.”
“Perhaps you want the whole lunch yourself,” said Snap. “Well, you don’t get it.”
“Anybody want coffee?” asked Shep. “If so we’ll have to start up a fire.”
“Don’t bother to-day. Water is good enough,” said Giant, and so they rested in the shade of the trees and ate their sandwiches and a pie Mrs. Caslette had baked for them, washing the food down with water from a handy spring.
“I am going to take my first picture,” said Snap, and made the