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Title: Boy Scouts at Crater Lake - A Story of Crater Lake National Park and the High Cascades
Author: Eaton, Walter Prichard
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Pack Train Descending to Hunt’s Cove. Mount Jefferson in
the Distance.]



                       Boy Scouts at Crater Lake


      _A STORY OF CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK AND THE HIGH CASCADES_

                                   By
                         WALTER PRICHARD EATON

                     _Illustrated with Photographs_
                             FRED H. KISER

                  [Illustration: W. A. Wilde Company]

                          W. A. WILDE COMPANY
                           BOSTON    CHICAGO

                          _Copyrighted, 1922_,
                         By W. A. Wilde Company
                         _All rights reserved_
                             Made in U.S.A.



                                FOREWORD


                   (_For Parents and Similar People_)

It seems to be generally assumed that a story for boys must be crowded
full of adventures, and the assumption is doubtless based on experience.
This would be all right if the adventures were also based on experience.
Unfortunately, however, such is not always the case, and then the result
is something that may possibly satisfy an immediate craving of the boy
for excitement, but in the long run can only confuse his sense of
reality. It is probably more important, in a boy’s development, to
clarify his sense of reality than it is to feed his imagination. His
imagination, normally, needs very little prodding to carry him away from
reality. That is why tales of actual adventure, such as the records of
explorers, hunters, and the like, are so worth while for boys. They feed
the imagination while, at the same time, keeping touch with the real.
They have the lure of fiction, and the solidity of fact.

It has been my steady purpose, in the Boy Scout series of stories which
I have written, to bear this in mind. I have not described places with
which I was unfamiliar, nor created adventures it was impossible for
boys to experience. In the volume preceding the present one, “Boy Scouts
in Glacier Park,” I endeavored to give some adequate idea of that
beautiful National Park, and hence of a section of the Rocky Mountain
wilderness, and the actual adventures one may now encounter therein. Our
friend, Bill Hart, of movie fame, may be relied on to supply the other
sort of Wild West adventure, without any need of help from me. The
response of my young readers was so pleasantly encouraging that I am
asking them, in this book, to go still farther West, into another
National Park, Crater Lake, and into the Cascade wilderness of Oregon.
Whitman’s ride for Oregon was long ago, and today they are building a
macadam highway where his horse left a solitary track.

The Cascade Mountains afford numerous opportunities for snow
climbing—and anyone who has practiced this noble sport does not need to
be told that it supplies plenty of adventure. Snow mountains have a way
of withdrawing themselves many miles from human habitation, and a pack
train is scarcely to be afforded save by those who have reached years of
comparative discretion, so I have no fear of sending youngsters out
alone to start up the Roosevelt Glacier. If, however, I can inspire some
few of them to persuade their fathers to take them into the high places,
I know that both they and their fathers will ultimately thank me.

But chiefly, in the end, I want young America to know and to love and to
preserve what is left of the American wilderness.

                                                                W. P. E.

  _Twin Fires,_
  _Sheffield,_
  _Massachusetts._



                                CONTENTS


  I. Bennie Visits the Public Library and Gives Spider a Surprise     13
  II. Bennie Takes the Rope Up His First Cliff                        19
  III. How Bennie Earned a Trip to Oregon                             31
  IV. Bennie and Spider Cross the Continent                           39
  V. All Aboard for Crater Lake!—and Dumpling in the Other Car        50
  VI. Bennie and Spider Have to Make After-dinner Speeches, and
          Bennie’s Knees Knock                                        57
  VII. Held Up by the Snow, with the Thermometer at 86°               68
  VIII. Up the Rim of Crater Lake at Last, Through the Snow-drifts    75
  IX. The Mountain That Fell Into Itself                              83
  X. Down the Rim to the Lake—The Boys Ski on a Crater Snow-drift
          in July                                                     88
  XI. Dumplin’ Tests the Strength of a Snow Cornice on Garfield
          Peak                                                       106
  XII. Bennie Climbs the Mast of the Phantom Ship and Knows He Has
          Done Something                                             113
  XIII. The Scouts Are Driven Ashore by a Storm and Have to Climb
          Llao Rock—and They Learn a Lesson                          122
  XIV. Bennie Takes a Day Off to Do a Good Turn—He Washes All the
          Dirty Clothes                                              137
  XV. The Long Hike—The Scouts Find Packing Grub and Blanket Rolls
          Up and Down Cliffs is Hard Work                            144
  XVI. The Climb Up Scott Peak—Bennie Begins Work for a Merit
          Badge for Hiking                                           154
  XVII. Good-bye to Crater Lake, and a Motor Trip to Bend            167
  XVIII. The Boys Encounter “Pep,” Who Promises Them a Bear Hunt     174
  XIX. The Bear Hunt—In Which the Boys Discover that the Bear
          Doesn’t Do All the Hard Work                               178
  XX. Bennie Achieves a Dog, and the Party Puts Out a Forest Fire    206
  XXI. The Pack Train Has to Toboggan Into Hunt’s Cove, and Bennie
          Puts “Action” Into It                                      221
  XXII. The First Attempt at Jefferson—Dumplin’ Almost Falls to
          Death—The Hardest Work the Boys Ever Did                   234
  XXIII. The Summit is Conquered!                                    262
  XXIV. Back Over the Divide—A Horse Turns Three Somersaults Down
          the Snow Slope                                             273
  XXV. Bennie Loses Jeff, but Brings Home Something Else to Last
          Him Many Years                                             280



                             ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                    PAGE
  Pack Train Descending to Hunt’s Cove. Mount Jefferson in the
          Distance. (_Frontispiece_)                                 222
  Crater Lake—Wizard Island, and Over it Llao Rock                    80
  Campers at the Rim of Crater Lake. Mid-July Snow in Foreground      88
  The Boys Sliding Down Wizard Island Crater (Enlarged from a
          Movie)                                                      98
  The Boys Walking on the Snow Cornice of Garfield Peak (Enlarged
          from a Movie)                                              108
  Looking Across Hunt’s Cove to Jefferson. Dotted Line Shows Route
          of Climb; Arrow Points to Place Where Dumplin’ Slipped     252
  Crossing the Divide Near Mount Jefferson, on July 25th. Three
          Fingered Jack in Distance                                  274
  Saint Peter’s Dome and Columbia River. Mount Adams in Far
          Distance                                                   286



                       Boy Scouts at Crater Lake



                               CHAPTER I
      Bennie Visits the Public Library and Gives Spider a Surprise


Bennie Capen was sitting in the public library reading a book. Miss
Lizzie Cox, the librarian, was watching him with some suspicion. Bennie
was not what you might call one of her regular customers, and she was
surprised to see him come in, ask for a certain book, and take it off to
the reading table. She certainly watched him as if she suspected a
nigger in the wood-pile somewhere. Bennie had a reputation in Southmead,
but it wasn’t exactly a reputation for bookishness. Some people said he
was a “bad boy,” some people laughed and said he was “full o’ pep,” and
some people, including Mr. Rogers, the scout master of Bennie’s troop,
said the trouble with Bennie was that his engine was too powerful for
the chassis. Anyway, Miss Lizzie Cox, behind the delivery desk, frowned
as she watched him through her gold-rimmed glasses, as if she expected
to see him throw the book at little Bob Walters, across the table, or
pull the hair of Lucy Smith, who was consulting the encyclopædia
preparatory to writing a composition on “The Products of the Philippine
Islands.”

However, Bennie did none of these things. He read steadily in his book,
after first looking at all the pictures, and emitting several low
whistles, each one of which brought a sharp, admonitory rap of her
pencil on the desk from Miss Cox, and a loud “Silence!” Bennie grinned
cheerfully each time, and went on reading and looking at the pictures.
His eyes were bright, and every now and then he ran his fingers
excitedly through his brown hair, till it stood straight up on his
forehead.

By and by little Bob Walters returned the bound volume of St. Nicholas
and went out. Lucy Smith exhausted the products of the Philippine
Islands (or her own patience), and took refuge in “Vogue.” From the
streets outside came the shouts of a snowball fight. But Bennie kept on
reading. Finally the door opened, and another scout came in, a tall,
slender boy with two books under his arm. He saw Bennie as he was
walking up to the desk, and stopped, surprised. Then he stole over on
tiptoe, and looked over Bennie’s shoulder at the book.

“Gosh all hemlock, Bennie,” he whispered, “plugging to get a hundred per
cent in physical geography? You don’t care how much of a shock you give
your dear teacher, do you?”

Bennie looked up, with his usual grin. “’Lo, Spider,” he said. “Say,
this old book is some humdinger, I’ll tell the world.”

“Don’t tell the world so loud, or Miss Cox’ll be out over the desk,” Bob
Chandler whispered back, catching a sight of the librarian’s face out of
a corner of his eye. “What is the book?”

Bennie turned back to the title page, and Spider read, “On British Crags
and Alpine Heights.”

“Say, wait a minute—look at this picture,” said Bennie, turning the
pages to find it. “Here it is. Look at that old cliff! And pipe where
that guy is climbing. Oh, boy! That’s only one, too. ’Most every
picture’s like that, or more exciting, and it tells how somebody fell
off most of ’em, and was killed, and——”

“Silence!” from Miss Lizzie Cox.

“Old crab!” whispered Bennie. “Well, I gotter finish this chapter ’fore
closing time.”

“Why don’t you take the book out? I’d like to read it, too,” Spider
whispered.

“Haven’t got a card,” Bennie confessed. “Guess I don’t read as much as I
ought to.”

“Guess you don’t,” said Spider. “Here, give it to me. I’ll take it out
for you.”

“How’d you ever know about it, anyhow?” he asked, when they were outside
the building, on the snowy sidewalk. “Gave me some shock to see you
sitting in the library!”

“Mr. Rogers told me about it,” Bennie answered. “We got to talking about
mountains, and climbing, and he said to go ask for this book and see
what real climbing is like. Oh, boy! I wish we had something like those
old what d’you call ’ems—spitzes—around these diggings.”

“A spitz being what?” Spider laughed.

“Here, give me the book—I’ll show you. It’s a German word, I guess—means
spire, maybe—I don’t know. Never studied Dutch—probably wouldn’t know if
I had—but anyhow they’re tall, sharp rocky peaks, pretty nearly straight
up, in the Alps somewhere, and you climb ’em with your teeth and your
toe-nails.”

The two scouts paused in the middle of the sidewalk, while Bennie hunted
out a picture of several men, roped together, climbing the precipitous
face of one of the Dolomites, and their faces were over the book,
looking at the thrilling photograph—when, _blam_, came a snowball,
crashing into Bennie’s side.

He thrust the book into Spider’s hands for safe-keeping, stooped for a
handful of snow, and dashed around the corner of the post-office after
the vanishing pair of heels.

When he came back he was grinning. “Fresh guy, that Tenderfoot,” he
said. “His ma won’t need to wash his face for supper tonight. Come on,
let’s go to my house and look at those old pictures some more.”

They were soon curled up on the couch in his father’s library, with the
book first on one lap and then on the other. After they had looked twice
at every picture, they read aloud to each other parts of the text,
especially the most exciting parts they could find, but skipping the
descriptions of scenery and the long foreign names. The Welsh names were
worse than the German.

What interested them most, however, were the pictures that showed how
the rope is used, both in climbing and descending, and the passages
about it.

“I wish we had a braided rope!” Spider exclaimed.

“Guess we could get some sort of a rope, all right,” said Bennie. “But
where are we going to get the—the spitzes to use it on? Those old
mountains make ours look like pimples.”

“Oh, they’re not so bad—they’re _something_, anyway,” Spider answered.
“I bet you’d need a rope to climb the cliffs on Monument Mountain, and
maybe, if the snow gets deep, we’d have to cut steps in it to get up to
those cliffs. Might try it.”

“Sure, we could try it. But you wouldn’t slide far enough to hurt
yourself if you did slip going up to the cliffs, and I bet _nobody_
could climb right up the cliffs themselves.”

“I bet the man who wrote this book could,” said Spider. “We never really
tried it. What do you say if we get a rope and have a go at ’em, next
Saturday, eh?”

“You’re on!” cried Bennie. “We’ll get the old rope tomorrow, after
school. Going to take the troop along?”

“Not on your life! We’ll ask Mr. Rogers, though. We don’t want too many.
Those cliffs aren’t going to be a picnic, I’ll tell the town.”

“You’ve said it,” Bennie assented. “Well, so long till tomorrow. Don’t
forget to bring some money for that old rope.”

“And don’t you forget that book’s out on my card,” Spider laughed.
“Won’t do it any good if you throw it at the cat.”

Bennie made as if to throw it at him, and he ducked quickly out of the
door.



                               CHAPTER II
                Bennie Takes the Rope Up His First Cliff


The next afternoon the two scouts emerged from Seymour’s store with a
hundred feet of brand new half-inch rope, and ran directly into a group
of half a dozen of their fellow scouts.

“Hi! Get on to Spider and Bennie!” someone cried. “What you goin’ to do,
Bennie, rope a steer?”

“Goin’ to hang yourselves?” somebody else demanded.

“Goin’ to tie up the cat?” came from a third.

“Going to have some spaghetti for supper?” said a fourth.

“Goin’ to fish for minnows through the ice with it?” asked still
another.

“No, we’re goin’ to tie up a pound of candy for our dear teacher,”
Bennie replied. “Come on, Spider, these guys are too bright for us.”

“Don’t trip over your skipping rope, dearie,” taunted one of the scouts.
Bennie hurled a snowball at him and then he and Spider dodged away from
a shower of pursuing missiles.

“Well, they didn’t learn much that time,” Spider laughed, as they
entered Bennie’s back yard, went into the barn, and threw an end of the
rope over a rafter, so that both ends dangled to the floor.

“Now we’ll try coming down the doubled rope,” said Bennie.

He climbed out on the rafter, grasped both strands of the rope, and slid
down. Spider followed him.

At the bottom they surveyed their bare palms ruefully.

“Feels as if it was full of splinters,” said Bennie.

“It’s too stiff—it’s like a piece o’ wood,” Spider complained. “Guess it
isn’t much like the braided ropes Alpine climbers use. What are we going
to do about it?”

“Ask Mr. Rogers,” said Bennie. “We haven’t told him about it yet,
anyhow. Come on. Wait a minute, though. No use getting any more
questions fired at us.”

He took one end of the rope and pulled the other end down over the beam.
Then, while Spider played it out, he spun around and wound it around his
body. After that, he put on his mackinaw.

“You look ’s if you weighed about two hundred,” Spider laughed.

“I feel like Houdini,” said Bennie.

They found the scout master at home, and told him their plans, and about
the rope. He laughed, and grabbing the loose end, spun Bennie around
like a top, while he unwound it.

“The first thing to do is to wrap a piece of twine around both ends, so
it won’t unravel,” he said, “and then boil it for a day in your mother’s
wash boiler—if she’ll let you.”

“Will you go with us Saturday?”

“Sure thing. But let’s take a couple more of the troop along. Not a lot.
It may be dangerous. We’ll take Billy Vance and Tom Shields, eh? They
are strong and careful.”

“Well, not any more,” said Bennie. “Gee whiz, we don’t want to let ’em
all in on this right off the bat.”

“What kind of a scout are you?” Mr. Rogers asked. “Want to hog all the
fun?”

Bennie reddened. “No, it isn’t that,” he said, “but me and Spider sort
of discovered this, and we want to try it out first. A lot of ’em would
only laugh. I got it out of a book.”

“Ho, that’s it!” laughed the scout master. “You don’t want to be caught
reading a book! Well, I’ve a good mind to assemble the whole troop, and
tell ’em the glad news. Cheer up, though, I won’t. The shock might be
bad for ’em.”

“He’s got your number,” said Spider, as the two scouts left.

Bennie grinned, but he looked a little sheepish.

It took a lot of explaining before Mrs. Capen would let the boys have
the wash boiler, but finally they persuaded her, and slipped the coil of
rope into the water, leaving it there all night to boil.

The next day the water was a dark brown color, but the rope, after they
took it out and stretched it as hard as they could from the barn around
a tree and back again, dried out much softer than it had been, so that
it could be easily handled. And, to complete their happiness, that night
it began to snow again heavily.

“I hope it don’t stop till Saturday, and there’s six feet on the level!”
cried Bennie.

There weren’t six feet, but there were more than two, badly drifted,
when Saturday dawned bright and clear. When Mr. Rogers and the four
scouts set out for the cliffs, two miles away, they were on snowshoes.
Bennie carried the rope, carefully coiled, over his shoulder, and he had
a scout hatchet in his belt, to cut steps with. Each member of the party
had an alpenstock, also, some of them made by taking the guard off old
ski poles, some merely by sharpening a five foot length of pole. The
snow was deep, but it was also fine and powdery, so that even on
snowshoes they sank well in, and had to take turns breaking trail.

“It doesn’t look to me as if we’d have to cut many steps,” said the
scout master.

And it turned out that they didn’t, much to Bennie’s disgust. To reach
the base of the cliffs, it was necessary to climb for 300 yards or more
up a pile of rocks, of all sizes and shapes, which in ages past had been
broken off from the precipice above, and now lay in a vast heap at the
base, making a kind of wild, irregular stairway, and just about as steep
as a flight of steps. Bennie had hoped that these rocks would be packed
over hard with snow, so they would need to cut steps up the slope. But,
alas! it takes far deeper snows, and snows that do not melt in spring,
to form such a slope.

What they found, instead, was that the snow had filled in between the
rocks just enough so you couldn’t tell whether your foot was going to
sink six inches or six feet, and blown off the top of the rocks, making
them slippery as glass. Of course, they had to leave their snowshoes at
the base. To get up the pile meant nothing more than hard work and
scraped shins. Billy and Tom, the two other scouts who had come along,
began to complain.

“Say, is this your idea of fun?” said Tom. “You don’t need a rope for
this, you need shin guards.”

“Yeah, where’d you get this Alpine stuff, anyhow?” said Billy, as one
foot went down between two hidden stones and he half disappeared from
sight.

“You wait till we get to the old cliff up there!” Bennie answered
hopefully.

The party paused and took a look at the cliff wall, now towering just
above them. They had all climbed the mountain many times by the path,
but none of them, not even Mr. Rogers, had ever tackled the cliff face.
It was 200 feet high, most of it a sheer precipice, and nobody in town
had ever dreamed of trying to climb it.

“Gosh!” Tom exclaimed. “We can’t climb _that_!”

“Well, we’re going to try,” Bennie replied. “It’s not a patch on a lot
in that book, is it, Spider?”

“You’ve said it,” Spider answered.

After a few minutes more of hard scrambling, they stood directly under
the face of the precipice. Being straight up, it was quite bare of snow,
except on a few ledges here and there, and at this point nobody could
have climbed it. There was nothing to get even a finger hold on.

“Well, go on up with your rope, and throw us down an end,” Tom taunted.

“We’ll have to work around till we can find a chimney, won’t we?” Bennie
asked the scout master.

“Or a ladder,” Billy added.

They moved along under the beetling face of the rock, going in up to
their waists in the snow which had drifted against the base, until they
came to a sort of gully which divided the main cliff from an out-thrown
spur like a bowsprit. This gully was very steep, about sixty-five
degrees, and was partly filled with snow. A few laurel bushes grew in it
here and there, and it evidently led up to a ledge, because at the top a
little pine tree was growing, a hundred feet above their heads.

“If we can get up anywhere, it’s here,” the scout master announced.

Bennie uncoiled the rope and fastened one end around his waist, so his
hands would be free. Then he started up the gully. There was no question
of cutting steps—the snow was too soft. All he could do was to tread it
down under his feet and trust to its holding him without sliding down
until he could reach up to a laurel bush and pull himself a bit higher.
Twice he slid back. Once his mittens slipped on a bush, and he came down
ten feet before he could get a hold on something. Then he took his
mittens off, and climbed bare handed. Those below heard him give a yell
of triumph just as the last of the rope was apparently going up after
him, and then they saw him come out on the ledge and tie his end of the
rope around the pine tree.

“Come on!” he called. “All fast! Wow, but my hands are cold!”

The others came up easily enough, for they had the rope to pull on, and
soon they were all standing on the tiny ledge, a hundred feet above the
base of the cliff.

“Well, Tom, the old rope was some help, eh?” Bennie demanded.

“Where do we go from here?” was Tom’s reply.

“Yes, where do we go?” the scout master laughed.

“Right over to the next ledge,” said Bennie, pointing to another ledge,
on the same level, about ten feet away, with next to nothing but bare
cliff between.

“Oh, do we!” said Billy.

“Sure,” Bennie replied. “This is a traverse. That’s what you call ’em,
isn’t it, Mr. Rogers?”

“Sure, it’s a traverse all right. I don’t like the looks of it, either.”

“Same here,” said Tom. “Gosh, if you slipped getting over there—good
night!”

He looked down the sheer hundred foot drop, and pulled back quickly.

But Bennie already had the rope pulled up, and one end around his body,
under his arms, again.

“Here, Mr. Rogers,” he said, giving the scout master the coil. “You take
a brace and play me out. I’ll get the rope over to the other ledge, and
tie one end there, and then you can put it ’round the tree, and throw me
the other end. Then you’ll all have a railing to cross with.”

Mr. Rogers looked worried. “Now, go slow and watch your step, Bennie,”
he cautioned. “Here, Spider, take hold of this rope behind me, so two of
us’ll have a grip.”

Bennie took off his mittens again, and beat the snow from the crevices
of the rock ahead of him till he could get a good grip with his fingers.
Then he shoved his feet out on the tiny ledge below, hardly six inches
wide, and slowly, cautiously, made his way toward the other landing. He
had only ten feet to go, but in the cold, without gloves, and with the
rocks slippery from snow, it was painful work, and he wasn’t sure if his
fingers would stand it without letting go, they soon pained him so. Mr.
Rogers watched him anxiously, as he played out the rope. The others held
their breaths.

But he got there, and a shout went up from everybody. He blew on his
fingers and then tied his end of the rope around a tree on the new
ledge, while the scout master passed the other end around the first
tree, and then threw the end across. When that end, too, was tied, a
double rope stretched across the gap between the ledges, and the rest
could put it under an armpit, hold it fast with one hand while they
grabbed the cracks of rock with the other, and come over in perfect
safety. Then they pulled the rope over to them, and started on.

“Some traverse!” Bennie cried. “I thought once I’d have to let go,
though, my fingers got so cold.”

“Summer’s the time for this sort of work,” said the scout master.

Billy, who had said nothing for several minutes, looked back at the
traverse, and down into the drop of space below.

“I was scared pink,” he said, “and I don’t care who knows it.”

“I wasn’t scared, ’cause I knew Mr. Rogers and Spider would hold me,”
said Bennie. “Still, I’d have gone a ways at that, and kind of dangled.”

The new ledge led around a corner, and then upward for twenty feet, and
brought them to a pile of jagged rocks which could be climbed without a
rope, by brushing off the snow, till they were only twenty feet below
the top of the cliff. Here there was only one way up. By grabbing any
little handholds they could find, it was possible to climb up about a
dozen feet to a tiny ledge, one at a time, and get into a narrow upright
crack, about two feet wide. This crack led right to the summit, and you
could work up it by pushing with your feet and hands on one side and
your back on the other. At least, that is what Bennie declared.

“It’s a chimney!” he cried.

“Well, I wish there was a fire at the bottom of it,” sighed Tom, hitting
his hands together.

Bennie started to tie the rope under his arms, but Spider grabbed it.

“Say, whose card did you take that book out on?” he said. “My turn now.”

After considerable feeling around for toe-holds, Spider got to the
ledge, and into the chimney. When he stood erect, the top was only a few
feet over his head, so he soon had his fingers above the rim, and pulled
himself out and vanished. A moment later they heard his “All fast!” and
with the rope to climb with, the rest were speedily beside him on the
snow-covered summit of the mountain.

Everybody gave a shout as the prospect burst on them—the 200 foot drop
at their feet to the bottom of the cliff, and then the long steep slope
below, and then the valley farms and roads, all lying under a dazzling
carpet of white, and the far-off village and still farther away more
blue mountains.

“I was never on a mountain in winter,” said Spider. “Gee, it’s great!”

“You’ve said it!” cried Tom and Billy.

Bennie didn’t speak for a moment.

“Say, it sort of makes a feller feel queer,” he said, finally. “I mean,
all this bigness!”

“It’s the altitude, Bennie,” Tom remarked. “Goes to people’s heads,
sometimes.”

“Shut up,” Bennie retorted, good-naturedly. “Just the same, I know now
why men go bugs on mountain climbing.”

The descent was more rapid, and even more exciting, than the climb. They
used the doubled rope, pulling it down to them after they had made a
fifty foot descent (the rope was a hundred feet long), and speedily
reaching the traverse.

Here Bennie and Spider offered to let either Tom or Billy carry the rope
across to make the railing, but both of them said, “Not on your life!”
in one voice, and most decidedly. So Spider took it across, and when
everybody was over, Bennie tied one end around the tree, tossed the rope
down the gully the full hundred feet, and told the rest to slide down
it.

“How you going to get down?” Tom asked.

“You’ll see.”

When the last man was down, Bennie doubled the rope around the tree, and
slid on the two strands till he reached a laurel bush in the gully.
There he hung on, pulled his rope down, slipped it around the bush, and
came the rest of the way, in a shower of snow.

Fifteen minutes later they were down again at their snowshoes, and as
they put them on and tramped out across the fields away from the
mountain they looked back up at the cliffs, rising sheer and naked
toward the blue sky.

“Doesn’t seem as if we could have got up there, does it?” Bennie cried.

“Now it’s all over, seems as if it was great sport,” Billy laughed. “But
while you’re doing it—say, I wasn’t thinking of much but keeping hold of
that old rope!”

“That’s a very good thing to think of, too,” said the scout master.
“Boys, I want you to promise me one thing, on your honor as scouts.
That’s dangerous work, especially at this time of year. I want you to
promise me you won’t try to take any of the other, smaller boys up
there. We don’t want any nasty accident in our troop. Will you?”

“We promise,” they all said, soberly.

“Wow! I’d like to go to the Alps!” Bennie burst out, a moment later.
“Say, Spider, let’s you an’ me go climb one of those spitzes.”

“All right,” said Spider. “We’ll start tomorrow.”

“Just the same,” Bennie added, seriously, “I’m going to climb a _real_
mountain some day, if it takes a leg.”

“It’ll take two of ’em, not to mention two hands, a strong back and a
good head,” Mr. Rogers laughed.

“A good head, did you hear that, Bennie?” said Tom.

Bennie answered with a handful of snow.



                              CHAPTER III
                   How Bennie Earned a Trip To Oregon


At dinner that night Bennie was so full of his adventure on Monument
that he described it to his father and mother in minute detail.

“Good gracious, Bennie! don’t you ever _dare_ to do such a thing again!”
his mother cried. “I don’t see what Mr. Rogers is thinking of to take
the scouts up such a place,” she added to her husband.

“Guess Rogers knows his way around,” Mr. Capen answered. “A boy’s got to
have a certain amount of excitement to keep him out of mischief.”

“Sure!” said Bennie. “You’ve said a mouthful!”

“Bennie!” his mother cut in sharply. “I won’t have you talking that way
at my table, and to your own father.”

“Aw, Ma, it’s just slang—what’s the harm?”

“One harm is, that it doesn’t show proper respect for your father,” she
answered.

“Sorry,” said Bennie. “Gee, I respect Pa all right. And say, Pa, can’t I
go somewhere this summer vacation where there are _real_ mountains? Gee,
I want to climb a _real_ mountain! Will you let me go out to Oregon and
see Uncle Bill?”

Mr. Capen didn’t answer for a moment. Finally he laid down his knife and
fork, looked sharply at his son, and replied, “Why should I?”

“Well, why shouldn’t you?” was all Bennie could think of at first. Then
he added, “Uncle Bill said he’d take me on a trip in Oregon some time,
if we’d come out there, and a feller ought to see his own country.
Everybody says that—see America first. Guess it’s the best way there is
to study geography and history and—and things.”

“H’m,” said his father slowly. Then again, “H’m. Well, young man, do you
know what you are asking? Do you know what it costs to get to Oregon and
back? It costs a lot of money, I can tell you, and if you went, your
mother and I would have to stay at home while I earned it, so you’d have
to travel alone.”

“Let him go across the continent alone?” exclaimed Mrs. Capen. “I guess
not!”

“Oh, gosh, you’d think I was a baby,” Bennie protested.

“No, we don’t think you are a baby,” his father answered, “but we do
think you are unreliable, and that you don’t do your school work
faithfully, and you don’t do the things we ask you to do around the
place. How about that dead apple tree you were going to cut up this
week?”

“Oh, gee! I forgot it,” Bennie said.

“Exactly. You forgot it. You evidently forgot to study your history and
your Latin, this week, too, I gather from what the principal told me
to-day. Now, when you act this way, all I say is, why should I let you
go to Oregon, or anywhere else? What have you done to show me that
you’ll make real use of your opportunities? Your friend Bob Chandler,
now, I’d trust. He’d keep his eyes open and learn a lot, because he
learns every day at home.”

Bennie hung his head. Then he looked up at his father.

“Say, Pa, if I get good marks all the rest of the year, and if I come to
the bank every Saturday morning and help you, and if I prune all the
apple trees, may I go to Oregon?”

“How do you know your Uncle Billy wants you?” his mother demanded.

“I bet I can fix _that_ all right. Say, Pa, can I?”

“You get the good marks for a month, son, and work on the apple trees,
and come to the bank—and at the end of the month we’ll see,” his father
answered.

“Gee, that’s easy!” Bennie shouted.

After dinner he started to call up Spider and suggest going to the
movies. He got as far as the telephone, in fact, and then hesitated. It
was a hard fight for a minute, but he won out. Slowly he turned away
from the ’phone, walked up to his own room, got out his textbooks, and
began to study.

His father was watching him, from the library. When he had gone
upstairs, Mr. Capen laughed.

“The boy’s gone to study,” he said to his wife. “It took a mountain to
make him!”

During the next month Bennie had more than one battle with himself, and
he didn’t always win out, either. But, on the whole, he did better than
his father had ever dreamed he would. Spider helped him, too. Bennie had
told nobody but Spider the reason for his reformation, and he had added
a hope that maybe his uncle would suggest that he bring Spider along.
Spider’s father owned the largest store in town, and Spider thought that
if he promised to work in it spare hours that spring and the next
winter, his father would let him go.

“’Sides,” Bennie said, “if you should go, Ma and Pa would let me, I bet,
’cause they think you’re what they call ‘responsible.’ So you just _got_
to help me stick at these old books.”

Spider was a natural student. He liked to study, and it came easy to
him. So day after day he made Bennie come over to his house after
supper, and studied with him. When Bennie tried to talk, he said, “Shut
up!” After a couple of weeks, Bennie began to make the discovery that
the only way to get a lesson learned, or any job done, is to go right
ahead and do it. He set himself a regular hour every day to prune in the
apple orchard, and he studied hard in the school periods, and in the
evenings. At the end of the month, his father called him into the
library.

“Well, son,” he said, “you’ve certainly bucked up. Your report card here
doesn’t look natural. Neither does the orchard.”

“Can I write to Uncle Bill now?” Bennie grinned.

“Not yet,” said his father. “You’re doing fine, but this is only one
month. I’ve got to see if you can keep the habit. If you do as well next
month, you may write.”

“Easy,” said Bennie.

He didn’t really mean that “easy,” but as a matter of fact, it was much
easier than it had been the first month. He _was_ getting the habit.
Before the second month was over, Tom had called him “teacher’s pet,”
and been knocked into a slushy snow-drift and had his neck stuffed with
snow.

“I’ll teacher’s pet you!” Bennie laughed, finally letting him up.

At the end of the second month Mr. Capen told him he could write to his
uncle, and if his uncle would let him come to Oregon and take him on one
of his mountain trips, Bennie could go—“providing, of course, you pass
all your examinations in June,” his father added. “It’s up to you.”

“I’ll pass all right!” Bennie said, joyfully. “And say, Pa, if Spider’s
father’ll let him go, do you suppose Uncle Bill would mind if he went
with me? Gee, it would be great to have old Spider along!”

“I’m sure Uncle Billy wouldn’t mind, and I know your mother would feel a
lot easier about your going,” Mr. Capen said. “I’ll see Spider’s father
today.”

“Golly, you’re some dad!” cried Bennie.

“Well, I feel I’ve got more of a son than I had two months ago,” said
Mr. Capen.

Bennie hadn’t seen his Uncle Bill (a younger brother of his mother’s)
for three or four years. He lived in Portland, Oregon, where he was a
very successful doctor, and every summer he took a vacation in the
mountains, to get himself fit for his winter grind. Bennie remembered
him as a tall, strong, good-natured man, who always came to see Mrs.
Capen on his rare trips East, and always talked to Bennie about what fun
it would be to show him “a real country”—meaning Oregon. Bennie liked
him, but it was hard, at that, to sit down in cold blood and invite
yourself for a visit, and, still worse, to invite somebody else to go
with you! Bennie began, and tore up, two or three letters before he got
one that he thought would do. This is what he sent:

  Dear Uncle Bill:

  The last time you were East you pulled a lot of talk about showing me
  “a real country.” I guess you never thought I could get that far to
  see it, so you were safe. But I’ve been plugging hard this winter and
  got such high marks that Pa thought I was sick and Ma sent for the
  doctor, and he says I need a change or I’ll know too much. So I’m all
  ready to be shown that country of yours. And there’s a chum of mine
  here, an awful good scout, Bob Chandler (Spider, we call him), who
  doesn’t believe Oregon is so much, either, and he’d go along, too, if
  you asked him real polite. Besides, if he came, Ma would let me come.
  Ma thinks if I go alone a Pullman porter will think I’m a dress
  suitcase and pull me off the train at Omaha, or something. And I guess
  it’s kind of fresh my suggesting this about Spider’s going, but he’s
  an awful good scout, and he and I have been climbing Monument Mountain
  on a rope. Shall I bring my rope? It is 100 feet long, and we boiled
  it on the stove so it is soft. If we do come what clothes shall we
  bring?

                             Your loving nephew,
                                                                 Bennie.

  P.S.—Mother and Father are both well and send their love.

                                                                      B.

The chances are that before this letter was sent, Bennie’s mother had
written to her brother. But if she did, Bennie didn’t know it. He mailed
his letter, and counted the days it would take to reach Portland. In
twice that time he ought to have an answer. At the end of the week he
and Spider were haunting the post-office.

Then, one day, the answer came. Bennie tore it open, and this is what he
read:

  Dear Bennie:

  I start for Crater Lake and the Sky Line Trail on July 1st, leaving
  Portland by motor. I am a plain, rough man, but I might be improved by
  your learned society, and our scenery would be honored by your
  inspection. By all means bring Spider. Spiders are very useful in
  camp, to cook the bacon in. You’d better come two or three days ahead
  of the start, so I can look over your outfit. Bring your scout axes,
  canteens, flannel shirts, khaki breeches, leggings, and things like
  that. Boots are the most important item—very heavy, and water-proof.
  You can get good ones here. Bring snow goggles if you have them. Save
  your rope. I have one, though it isn’t boiled like yours. I always fry
  my ropes. I’ll write to you later about trains, and more about your
  equipment. Tell your mother that she is going to have a nice, quiet
  summer.

                              Your humble uncle,
                                                         William Warren.

Bennie read this letter aloud to Spider, and they both emitted a whoop
of joy.

“Some bird, old Uncle Bill!” cried Bennie. “Always fries his ropes! I
bet he’s got a real Alpine rope—braided and everything. Gee, I’ll bet we
climb a real humdinger of a mountain. Maybe Mount Hood! Oh, boy!”

“Say, I’d work every afternoon in the store for the rest of my life, to
climb old Hood!” said Spider. “Come on, let’s go look up how high Mount
Hood is.”

“I’ve looked it up—it’s 11,225 feet,” said Bennie.

“And Monument is 1,600,” Spider reflected. “More’n 9,000 feet taller
than Monument! Wow!”

“It’s going to be a long time till June,” said Bennie.



                               CHAPTER IV
                 Bennie and Spider Cross the Continent


It certainly did seem a long while to both the scouts between the time
of getting Uncle Bill’s letter and the closing of school in June. But it
was a pretty busy time, too. Bennie had to keep on studying, so he could
make sure of passing his examinations, and Spider had to put in an hour
or two every day in his father’s store. Beside that, they had to have
another go at the Monument Mountain cliffs as soon as the snow was gone
in the spring, and at about every other rock, big or little, within
tramping radius of home. They took the rest of the scouts along on these
expeditions, but as nobody but Bennie and Spider were going to Oregon,
the others didn’t get so excited about climbing as they did, and soon
everybody was playing baseball, leaving Bennie and Spider to practice
rock scaling alone.

June came at last, and so did examinations. Bennie passed them easily,
for the first time in his life—just because he had got his work from day
to day. Then the time came to buy their railroad tickets and get their
berths reserved. Before they knew it, their trunks were packed, and they
were ready to start on the long journey.

Bennie noticed that his mother didn’t say very much the night before,
but just sat and looked at him, while he was going over the tickets with
his father, and folding them into a new pocketbook, with $100 in new
bills, which Mr. Capen had brought home from the bank. Bennie put the
purse into an inside pocket, and went over to his mother.

“Gee, Ma,” he said, “you’d think I was going to the North Pole or
somewhere, instead of just to visit Uncle Bill. Nobody’s going to speak
cross to your little Bennie, or make him take any wooden money, or hit
him over the bean. Don’t you worry. I guess me ’n’ Spider can take a
railroad trip without anybody needing to worry.”

But though he spoke with a laugh, Bennie didn’t feel very much like
laughing, because when his mother looked at him, and tried to smile, he
saw the tears behind her eyes, and he knew, somehow, that it wasn’t
because she was afraid for him, but because he was going to be away from
her so long. He couldn’t quite understand this, but he loved his mother
tremendously, and it made him want to weep, too. In about one minute he
was weeping, and so was his mother, with an arm about his shoulder.

Mr. Capen looked up in surprise.

“Hello!” he said. “Hello! So you don’t want to go, eh?”

Bennie straightened up, and gulped hard, trying to swallow his sob in a
grin.

“Where—where do you get that stuff?” he demanded.

“Well, you don’t seem very _cheerful_ about going.”

“It was ’cause Ma wasn’t cheerful,” said Bennie.

“I’m cheerful, dear,” said his mother, smiling at him. “I wasn’t crying
because I was sad, but just because—because—well, you won’t understand,
but because you’re so big and grown up now, and can go away by
yourself.”

“Well, I don’t see’s that’s anything to cry about, for a fact,” said
Bennie.

“Bennie,” his father remarked, “you have never been a mother.”

“You said a mouth——”

“Bennie! slang, to your father!” said his mother.

“You have uttered a truthful remark, sir,” grinned Bennie.

The next day Mr. and Mrs. Capen and Spider’s father and mother came down
to the depot with the two scouts. Half a dozen of their troop were
there, too, and the last thing they heard as they waved from the car
window, was the scout yell. The last thing Bennie saw was his mother’s
face. She was smiling bravely at him, and keeping the tears back.

In about an hour the boys had to change to a through train, which took
them to Chicago. At Chicago they would have to spend the afternoon and
early evening, and then take the Northwest Limited on the Union Pacific,
which took them right to Portland, Oregon. They had their tickets in
their pockets, and their berth checks, and about once in fifteen minutes
they felt of themselves, to see if the precious pocketbooks were still
there.

Neither Bennie nor Spider had ever been West before, and as long as
daylight lasted they sat close to the window. But it was dark all too
soon. When the train entered Syracuse, and traveled, apparently, right
down the main street, the two scouts looked right into the lighted
shop-windows, but out in the country they saw nothing. So they went to
bed, each with his precious pocketbook under his pillow.

They were up at daylight, and dressed long before the other passengers
began to come into the washroom. Now they saw the Great Lakes beside the
track, like the ocean, and rolled through the smoke of Gary, where the
great steel mills are, and saw Lake Michigan, and almost before they
knew it, were in Chicago.

The boys had careful directions what they were to do in Chicago. They
were to get right aboard the transfer ’bus and ride over to the
Northwestern station, checking their suitcases there. Then they could
walk around the city, if they liked. It is a queer sensation to arrive
in a great city which you have never seen before. Bennie and Spider,
after the ’bus had rolled them quickly across the bridge to the other
station, and they had checked their bags, walked out into the street,
without any idea where they were, and turned east to see the town. They
recrossed the bridge, walked a few blocks, and were suddenly in the
Loop. The streets were none too wide. The elevated railroad roared and
thundered overhead. The great buildings towered into the air. Trolleys,
motors, thousands of people crowded the way from wall to wall.

“Some burg!” Bennie exclaimed. “Little old New York hasn’t got much on
this village. I didn’t know Chicago was so big.”

“Guess we haven’t got everything in the East,” Spider answered.

They walked on till they reached Michigan Boulevard, that splendid great
avenue which sweeps down by the lake shore, and they wondered how
Chicago stands for the smoke of the trains between the Boulevard and the
beach.

“Why don’t they _make_ the old railroad electrify itself?” Spider asked.
“Gee, it’s turned all the marble sooty black.”

It was a hot day, and getting hotter, so they finally went out on a pier
and sat in the breeze till it was time to hunt up a place for supper.

After supper they walked around the Loop, which was now filled with
theatre crowds, and then back to the station, got their bags, and hunted
out the track their train was to go on. The rear observation platform
had an illuminated red sign hung out behind, with the name of the
train—“Northwest Limited.” It gave them a thrill to see those words! And
that train for three days would be their home. As soon as the gates were
open, they got aboard and hunted out their berths.

The next morning, when they woke, the train was rushing through Iowa.
Mile after mile after mile of rolling country, dotted with farmhouses,
great red barns, little wood lots close beside them, and endless acres
of sprouting corn, and tall wheat, as far as the eye could see. Mile
after mile, and never a town, but always the fields of corn and wheat,
the herds of cattle, the great red barns.

“Golly!” Bennie exclaimed. “We don’t know what a farm is, do we?”

“I never saw so much corn in my life—I didn’t know there _was_ so much,”
Spider answered.

That day they passed through Omaha, and were still bowling along through
the endless oceans of corn in Nebraska when night came. It was terribly
hot now, and dusty and dirty. Spider wiped his face, and when he looked
at his handkerchief, it was black! Bennie said he felt as if somebody
had poured cinders down his back.

“Wait till you wake up tomorrow,” said the brakeman, who overheard them,
“and you’ll see snow.”

“You look sort of honest,” Bennie laughed, “but I don’t believe you.”

“All right,” said the brakeman. “Want to bet?”

“Can’t,” said Bennie. “All my money’s in hundred dollar bills.”

“We cross the height of land in Wyoming before you’re awake,” the
trainman went on. “We’re up 7,000 feet or more there—in Wyoming.”

“You mean the Rocky Mountains? Do we cross ’em at night?” cried Spider.
“Gee, what tough luck.”

“Not much mountains where we cross. But you’ll see mountains, all right,
if you don’t sleep all the morning—and snow, too.”

“Bring me some now, I want to take it to bed with me,” said Bennie.

Spider, whose turn it was to sleep in the lower berth that night, pulled
up the curtain as soon as it was daylight, and looked out. He gave a
jump, reached up and poked Bennie awake, and began to dress. In ten
minutes the boys were out on the observation platform, staring hard. The
train was in Wyoming now, on a vast, high plateau, a country that didn’t
look like anything they had ever seen. It rolled away to the horizon in
every direction, like a tossing, oily gray sea, without a tree on it,
apparently without any grass on it worth mentioning, but covered with
pale green sage bushes in clumps here and there. It was a naked,
desolate looking land, and yet they saw great droves of cattle wandering
over it, and now and then a white strip of road, and finally, all of a
sudden as the train rounded a bend, seemingly right beside the track a
couple of miles away, a huge blue mountain covered completely on top
with a cap of white snow, and streaked with snow all down the ravines on
its northern side.

The scouts gave a yell of joy at the sight. “A snow mountain!” they
cried.

“Do I win or not?” said the brakeman, appearing behind them. “That’s the
mountain. Pretty soon, off south, you’ll see some higher ones, down in
Utah.”

“How far is it to that mountain—about five miles?” Bennie asked.

It looked two, but he thought he’d add a few.

The trainman grinned. “I wouldn’t try to walk it before breakfast,” said
he. “It’s about twenty or thirty, I reckon.”

That day they rolled along through endless miles of the naked cattle
country, that in the East would have seemed like a desert. No New
England cow could have lived on it, Spider declared. Then they began to
get into the Idaho mountains, on the branch line, and turned and twisted
down cañons with the naked red hills folding up in front of and behind
the train. They went to sleep in Idaho and woke up in Oregon—woke up to
see more mountains, and more snow—long ranges of mountains to left and
right with snow on the summits, though it was now almost July first, and
hot as Tophet in the train.

The train presently began to climb an endless grade, up and up and up,
getting over the pass of the Blue Mountains, and into heavily timbered
country—real woods at last, after the long ride through the prairie and
the sage brush. On and on went the train, till at last it reached the
Columbia River, and the excited boys, braving the cinders that swirled
in on the observation platform, sat out there and saw at last below them
the great green river rushing swiftly along, cutting its way through the
high, rocky banks.

These banks began to get higher and steeper. They were entering the
gorge of the Columbia, where it cuts through the Cascade range. Soon the
banks were real precipices, 1,000, 2,000 feet high. At The Dalles, they
picked up the Columbia Highway, the most wonderful motor road in
America, and could see where it was cut right out of the sides of the
cliffs in places. When the train stopped at Hood River, a lot of people
got off to stretch, the boys with them, and a man took them down the
platform and said, “Look!”

They looked to the south, and there it was! Shooting up apparently right
behind the depot, shaped like a cone, dazzling white, tall, stately,
beautiful against the sky—Mount Hood! These were the eternal snows!
There was a real climb!

Bennie just gasped for a second. Then he found his tongue. “It—it’s just
as big as I thought it would be!” he said.

“It’s the finest thing in the world,” said the man. “I live in Portland,
and every clear day I look at it, sixty miles away, and it’s like a
friend.”

“Is it hard to climb?” Spider asked.

“No,” said the man. “It’s a cinch. If you’re looking for a climb, go
down and tackle Jefferson.”

“Never even heard of it,” said Bennie.

“There are a lot of things out here you eastern folks never heard of,”
the man answered.

The boys wanted to ask him more, but just then the conductor called “All
aboard,” and they lost him in the rush.

For the next hour they were busy looking at the scenery, at the great
river on one side, and the great cliff walls on the other, with
thousand-foot waterfalls leaping down almost on the train, and the
Columbia Highway running alongside of the track in places, in other
places disappearing and coming into sight again far up on top of some
headland.

“Gee, I wish we were in a motor!” Spider sighed.

“Maybe Uncle Bill will take us this way in his,” said Bennie.

Now the cliffs grew lower. The river was through the gorge. Presently
the river disappeared, and the train ran through level land a little
way, and the houses began to get thicker and thicker. They crossed
another river on a drawbridge, and saw tramp ships lying up to the
docks, and on the other side rolled into the Portland depot.

At the train gate, looming up above the crowd, Bennie spied the head of
his uncle, and in another minute he had him by the hand, and was
introducing Spider, and Uncle Billy was putting the dress suitcases into
his car, and then they were off through the streets of Portland, with
the lights coming on, the darkness falling.

“I guess you boys are pretty hot and tired, eh?” said Uncle Bill. “Of
course, you never have any hot weather in the East.”

“It’s about like this Christmas time at home,” Bennie answered. “I was
just wishing I had an overcoat.”

“You’ll wish you had a couple before I get through with you,” said Uncle
Bill. “I heard to-day there are seven feet of snow yet on the rim of
Crater Lake. We’ve got to camp up there. It’ll be pretty slippery, too,
getting down to the water. Guess we’ll have to fry a couple of ropes.”

“Boil mine—about four minutes,” said Bennie.

His uncle laughed as he put the car up a steep grade out of the business
section to the heights overlooking the city. The residences look right
out over the town, and now they could see the checkerboard squares of
the streets, marked out with electric lights. They stopped at the
doctor’s house, and he showed them in, his housekeeper meeting them.

“Now beat it and get a bath,” he said, “and then grub! Hurry up, for I’m
all ready to eat, and if you keep me waiting, I’ll have to begin on one
of those ropes.”

“Say, he’s a regular scout,” said Spider, as they were cleaning up.

“Boy, I got a hunch we’re going to have some good time!” answered Bennie
from the tub.



                               CHAPTER V
       All Aboard for Crater Lake!—and Dumpling in the Other Car


When the boys came downstairs, Uncle Billy, who was a bachelor, led the
way at once into the dining-room, and they began to eat.

“I’ve got a surprise for you,” he said, as he carved the meat. “How’d
you boys like to be movie actors?”

“Oh, you Charlie Chaplin!” Bennie grinned. “Sure, I’d like it. Spider,
though, ain’t beautiful enough.”

“Of course, he hasn’t your classic Greek features,” said Uncle Billy,
looking hard at Bennie’s snub nose. “But maybe he can ride a horse. Can
you ride a horse, Bennie?”

“Sure—I guess so. I never tried.”

“Can you, Spider?”

“Not very well, sir. I have ridden our old delivery horse a good bit,
though, but mostly bareback.”

“You see, Bennie,” the doctor laughed, “he’s going to be a better actor
than you are, after all, in spite of your fatal beauty.”

“What do you mean, actors, anyhow?” Bennie demanded. “What’s the big
idea?”

“Well,” the doctor explained, “we’re not going alone on this trip. I
have a friend, a business man here in Portland, who is a fine amateur
photographer. He’s got a new movie camera now, that he wants to
experiment with. He wants to take a sort of scenic picture of the Oregon
mountains, so he’s coming along, in his car, with his son, Lester. You
and Spider and Lester and I have got to be the troupe. Whenever he sees
a nice precipice he wants to shoot, we’ll have to do a Douglas Fairbanks
up the side of it, or make a Pearl White jump down a thousand-foot
waterfall. How does that strike you?”

“Uncle Billy,” Bennie said, very solemnly, “you have come to exactly the
right people. Spider and me—I—are the original human flies. We walk up
precipices before breakfast every day at home.”

“With a boiled rope?” his uncle laughed. “Well, I’m glad you’re trained
for the job. Wait till you see Lester Stone, though. He’s the real
athlete! Slender, wiry, hard as nails!”

“How old is he?” the scouts asked, instantly alert and a little bit
jealous. They’d show him eastern boys could be hard and athletic, too!

“Just about your age,” the doctor answered carelessly. “He and his
father will be over to meet you after dinner.”

It wasn’t long after dinner before the door-bell rang, and the scouts
heard Uncle Billy greeting somebody in the hall. A moment later he
ushered in a big six-footer of a man, and a boy who was just about as
wide as he was high.

“My nephew, Bennie Capen, and his old college chum, Spider Chandler,”
said Uncle Billy. “Boys, this is _my_ college chum, Dick Stone. And this
is Dick’s willowy and athletic little son, Lester. I’m trying to get
some flesh on his bones, because the poor little thing has been puny
since childhood.”

Mr. Stone shook hands so hard that Bennie winced, and then they shook
hands with Lester, who had a round, pink face like a cherub and eyes
that danced merrily.

Bennie and Spider couldn’t help bursting out laughing.

“What’s the matter?” Uncle Billy asked solemnly. “Did somebody make a
joke? I never can see a joke!”

“You can make one, all right,” Bennie laughed. “Gee, you said Lester was
wiry and hard.”

“What’s the joke in that?” the doctor demanded, looking very stern. “He
is! Only the wires are insulated. You poke his arm and see if he isn’t
hard.”

Lester doubled his fist, and tightened the muscles of his arm, and
Bennie and Spider hit him above the elbow. To their amazement, he _was_
hard—at that point, anyway. They looked at him with new respect.

“Just the same,” Bennie said, “I hope you fried that rope good and
plenty.”

(“He looks just like an apple dumpling,” Spider whispered to Bennie, a
minute later.)

(“Sure, let’s call him Dumpling,” Bennie whispered back.)

(“Guess we’d better not begin right now,” Spider suggested. “That guy’d
make a great guard on our football team.”)

(“If he fell on the ball, it would explode,” laughed Spider.)

The rest of the evening was spent in going over the maps of Oregon, to
lay out their trip, and in planning equipment. They were to be gone six
weeks or more, and expected to camp all the time. As they were going to
get from place to place in only two motor cars, which between them had
to carry five passengers and all the equipment, it took close figuring.
The scouts, of course, didn’t have much to say about all this. They just
sat and listened, because they were guests, and, besides, they had never
been off on such an expedition.

But what fun it was only to listen! Have you ever been off on a camping
trip? Of course you have. So you know the joy of getting together a day
or two before the start, each person with a list of things he thinks
ought to be taken, and then going over the lists, checking them off to
see that nothing is being taken that is not needed, and nothing is
forgotten that _is_ needed. It’s almost as much fun as the trip itself.

The scouts soon discovered that Mr. Stone was as jolly as Uncle Billy,
and that “Dumpling” was even fuller of fun than his father. Before an
hour had passed, the scouts were calling him Dumpling to his face, and
then his father and the doctor took it up; but Dumpling himself only
grinned the broader and said, “Ho, I don’t care what you call me, so
long’s you call me to dinner.”

The next morning the boys were up early, and out of the house, to get a
glimpse across the city of the white pyramid of Mount Hood against the
eastern sky. They spent that day hard at work with the doctor getting
the equipment out and sorted and packed into the car.

They had never seen an automobile rigged like Uncle Billy’s. It was a
powerful five-passenger car, with extra braces on the running-boards.
First the doctor screwed a kind of iron fence on one running-board which
came up as high as the tops of the doors. Then, on the other, he set two
boxes, also as high as the doors, and as deep as the running-board.
These boxes opened not at the top, but at the front, with hinged doors.
Inside of them were shelves. On the shelves of one he stood the
provisions—the canned fruits, the condensed milk, and all the other
things they were going to take at the start. The other was filled with
camp dishes. When the boxes were full, the doors were shut and locked,
and the boxes strapped firmly to the car.

Then, on the other side, in the space between the fence and the side of
the car, went the heavy canvas bags containing the tent and the three
sleeping bags. These bags were wonderful things. They rolled up and went
into canvas sacks. But when you unrolled them, you found inside a tire
pump, and you pumped them up with air, making a nice pneumatic mattress
to sleep on. Inside the canvas flap which strapped over this mattress
were several warm blankets.

“Say, boy!” cried Bennie. “This beats sleeping on old hemlock boughs,
the way we have to at home, eh, Spider? Remember the way the boughs used
to get all full of sticks about one A. M. last summer?”

“I’ll say so. We’re going to sleep so well on these we’ll forget to wake
up.”

“Oh, no you won’t! Not with me in camp,” the doctor smiled.

After the running-boards were loaded, Uncle Billy got out a wonderful
camp stove, which collapsed into three pieces, with the funnel also
shutting up, and put the whole thing into a canvas sack, which lay on
the floor of the car. Then he put in three folding camp stools and a
folding table. Finally he handed each boy a stout khaki dunnage bag.

“Now,” said he, “get all your stuff into those two bags! No suitcases
allowed on this trip! Your two bags and mine, and the canteens and our
cameras and the alpenstocks and the fried rope, and overcoats and one of
you boys and anything else we’ve forgotten have all got to go on the
rear seat.”

“Think I’ll sit in front with you,” said Bennie.

“Think I’ll ride with the Stones,” said Spider.

“Not with Dumpling in the car, you won’t!” Bennie laughed—“unless he
travels in a trailer on behind.”

The doctor prescribed early bed that evening, because they were to get
an early start.

“What do you call early, seven o’clock?” asked Bennie.

Uncle Billy looked pained. “Seven o’clock!” he sniffed. “My esteemed
nephew, at seven o’clock on this trip we will usually have traveled at
least fifty miles, and you’ll be asking about lunch. I’ll wake you up at
five.”

“And I thought I was going to have a nice summer!” said Bennie,
pretending to be very gloomy.

At five o’clock the next morning, he and Spider were sleeping soundly
when a voice boomed into their dreams, “All aboard for Crater Lake! Last
call!”

They were out of bed and rushing to get first into the tub before they
half knew what had happened.

But it was really long after seven before they got started. The dunnage
bags had to be packed with the clothes they were going to need,
breakfast eaten, everything gone over again to make sure nothing was
forgotten, and then followed a wait of an hour before the Stones’ car
arrived, loaded down like theirs, with the tripod of the movie camera in
a case on top of the luggage in the rear, and Dumpling and his father
sitting in front.

“All aboard!” shouted the doctor.

“Well, how do you get aboard?” said Bennie. “You can’t open a single
door.”

“If you can’t get into a car over the top of the door you’ll never get
up Mount Jefferson,” said his uncle.

Bennie was in the front seat with exactly two motions. Spider dove into
the rear, and found a hole to sit in amid the luggage. The doctor and
Mr. Stone tooted their horns, the housekeeper waved from the door—and
they were off!



                               CHAPTER VI
   Bennie and Spider Have to Make After-dinner Speeches, and Bennie’s
                              Knees Knock


The day before had been cloudy and cold, though the boys had been too
busy with their packing to notice it much. Now, however, that they were
off at last, and wanted to see every bit of country there was to be
seen, they were acutely conscious that it was a heavy day, without a
single glimpse of Mount Hood through the vapor, and the threat of rain
at any minute.

“Nice weather you’ve handed us for a start off,” said Bennie to his
uncle.

“Oh, this won’t last long,” Uncle Billy assured him. “We have the finest
climate in Oregon of anywhere in the world. It’s never very cold in
winter, and it’s never very hot in summer, and our tent probably won’t
get wet on this entire trip.”

“Is that so?” said Bennie. “Some smart tent, I’ll say. Look at your
wind-shield.”

Indeed, as he spoke, the first drops of the rain began to splash on the
glass.

“You wait!” Uncle Billy smiled.

On the edge of Portland they stopped for gas, and the Stones’ car pulled
in behind them. A big, smiling man, covered with axle grease, came out
to fill them up.

“Hello, Doc,” he said. “Off for a trip? Got a fine day to start. As far
as I can see, it rains for twelve months of the year in Portland, and it
ain’t very pleasant the rest of the time.”

Bennie and Spider shouted with joy at this, and the garage man looked a
little surprised.

“Well, that went big!” he said.

“Uncle Bill didn’t tip you the wink in time,” Bennie answered. “He’s
just been telling us it never rains in Oregon.”

“Sorry I crabbed your game, Doc,” the man laughed. “Didn’t know these
scouts weren’t native web-feet.”

“They’ll not see any more rain till they get back to Portland,” the
doctor said, quite seriously.

The garage man winked solemnly at Bennie, who grinned back.

“Well, Uncle Bill, we sure have got one on you now,” Bennie laughed, as
they drove on. “Eh, Spider?”

“Kind of looks so,” Spider had to admit.

“The sun will be coming out at Salem, and this is the last rain you’ll
see, except maybe a thunder shower or two,” Uncle Billy persisted. “And
now, just for that, I’ll tell you something else. We’ll get to
Salem—that’s the State capital—in time for lunch. The Boy Scouts of
Salem are going to give us the luncheon, not on your account, but
because you are with me. You two boys will have to make speeches. Good,
long speeches, too, not just ‘Glad to be here.’ Got one on me, have you?
Take that!”

“Aw, quit your kiddin’,” Bennie cried. “Not really, Uncle Bill?”

“Gosh, I never made a speech in my life!” Spider groaned from the rear
seat. “I’d just go right down through the floor.”

“Our floors are made of good old Douglas fir—not a chance,” the doctor
grinned. “You’ll have to stand right up and show ’em how good
Massachusetts is.”

“Poor old Massachusetts,” said Bennie. “She’s got a bum chance to make a
hit with us representing her. Oh, golly, what’ll I do?”

“I guess you’d better be thinking of something to say as we go along. I
was going to stop so we could pick some real Oregon cherries on the way,
but maybe I’d better not. You’ll need to keep your alleged minds on your
speeches.”

Bennie and Spider looked at each other and groaned.

“Honest, Uncle Billy, I think this is a real nice climate,” said Bennie.

“Ha! nothing doing! You can’t get around me that way. Besides, they are
probably cooking the luncheon already. The invitations are all out.”

“Has old Dumplin’ got to make a speech, too?”

“Oh, no,” said the doctor. “He’s a native, not a distinguished visitor
from the East.”

“We’ll be extinguished visitors by the time it’s over,” Spider said.

“Hi, that’s good! Remember it, and put it in your speech,” Bennie cried.
“Wish I could think of something funny. Gosh, you never can when you
want to.” He looked woebegone.

“You get up with a face like that, and you’ll make a hit like Charlie
Chaplin,” Spider assured him.

The boys cheered up a bit, however, as the rain ceased and the car sped
on up a good road, through the rich fields of the Willamette valley,
mile after mile of prune orchards and cherry orchards and hop
plantations and Loganberry fields where the canes, tied in rows to
wires, stretched for hundreds of yards on either side of the road.

Presently they came to a “ranch” (as everybody out there calls his farm
or orchard), where the cherries were being picked, and the doctor
stopped the car. The Stones, who were right behind, stopped too, and
everybody got out.

“Sell us some cherries?” asked the doctor.

“Got anything to pick ’em in?” asked the owner of the orchard.

“Sure—the radiator pails.”

“All right, you can pick all you want in that first tree, for fifty
cents. Hold on, though. Not that cute little feller there. I don’t want
my tree busted down.”

“I’ll stand below and you can throw ’em into my mouth,” Dumpling
laughed.

They got the collapsible canvas pails which were carried in the cars to
fill the radiators with, and began to pick. The cherries were huge
things, of a deep, wonderful, winey red, and almost melted in your
mouth. Bennie and Spider had never seen nor tasted such cherries, and
they ate two for every one they picked. The pails were full in five
minutes, at that, and still the tree hardly seemed touched.

“What’s the name of these babies?” Bennie asked.

“Bing,” said the doctor.

“No, I didn’t ask you to play soldier. I asked you what’s the name of
these cherries?”

“Bing, I tell you. Bing, B-i-n-g.”

“Well, it sounds like Bing,” Bennie laughed. “That’s a silly name for a
cherry, but, oh, boy, some fruit!”

“You won’t be in any condition to eat that lunch when we get to Salem,”
the doctor laughed.

“Soon’s I get there, and think about that old speech again, I won’t want
any lunch, anyhow,” Bennie answered. “Might ’s well fill up now.”

The two cars rolled into Salem at noon. Salem is a small city, built
around a large central park in which the State Capitol building stands.
This park was now filled with roses, the bushes even growing in long
rows between the sidewalks and the street. The doctor ran the car around
this park, and then hunted up the camp where they were to be entertained
by the Salem Boy Scouts. This was in a grove, just outside the town, and
about fifty scouts were already there, with three or four fires going.
As the two cars came up, the scout master gave a sharp command, the
troops fell into formation, at attention, and there was a loud cheer of
welcome as Bennie and Spider tried to climb out over the luggage
gracefully. Poor Dumpling had a hard time getting out of his car, but
not one of the Salem scouts laughed. In a few minutes, the scout master
had presented the guests all around, and preparations for the luncheon
began in earnest.

It was a good lesson in scouting, all right. Different boys had definite
jobs, and they went at them quickly and efficiently. Sawhorses and
boards were produced from a wagon, and made into rough tables. More
boards, on boxes, made the seats. Paper plates, knives, forks, and
spoons, and tin cups were put in place. The scouts who could cook best
were busy at the fires. There was the smell of coffee, of broiling
steak, of frying potatoes, and of flapjacks. Three or four of the scouts
meanwhile were putting great dishes of fruit—berries and cherries—on the
tables. In spite of all the cherries they had eaten, the smells made
Spider and Bennie hungry again. They tried, of course, to help with the
preparations, but the Salem scouts wouldn’t let them.

“No, you’re guests,” the scout master said.

Finally the scout master clapped his hands, and called in a loud voice,
“Come and get it!” This was the first time Spider and Bennie had heard
the western camp call to grub. But they didn’t need to be told what it
meant.

As soon as the food was eaten, the scout master rose in his place, and
announced that troop leader Tom Robinson would welcome their guests to
Oregon. Tom Robinson, a tall, powerful boy of sixteen, got up looking
extremely scared, and everybody shouted and applauded, whereupon he
looked scareder still. But he made a nice little speech, in spite of his
nervousness, telling Spider and Bennie how glad the Salem scouts were
that they had come so far to see Oregon, which, he said, had the finest
climate in the world, and hoping they’d have a good time, and inviting
them to come and visit the Salem scouts in their camp up in the
mountains in August.

Everybody applauded again, and then looked at Spider and Bennie,
yelling, “Speech, speech!”

“You do it,” whispered Bennie to Spider.

“Go on—you got to do it,” Spider retorted.

“You’ve both got to do it,” the scout master laughed.

So Bennie got up. He felt queer in his knees, which didn’t seem to half
hold him up, and his mouth felt dry. When he finally spoke, his voice
sounded strange to him, as if it belonged to somebody else.

“We’re awfully glad to be here,” he said, “and you scouts are sure good
to us to give us this grand feed. I ate so many Bing cherries this
morning I thought all I could do would be to make a noise like a robin,
but I sure got away with my share of the grub. It’s pretty fine to come
4,000 miles, all across the U. S. A., and find a bunch of scouts out
here just the same as at home. Some organization, the Boy Scouts!
’Course, we came to see the wilderness, and about all the wilderness
we’ve seen so far is a big city like Portland, and Salem, and about ten
million fruit trees, and sixteen million automobiles. And we heard it
was a good climate out here, too, but my uncle’s garage man says it
rains twelve months in the year and isn’t very pleasant the rest of the
time. But we sure like Oregon, and you fellows are a great bunch of
scouts, and—and I guess that’s all I got to say.”

Bennie sat down abruptly, amid much applause.

“Some speech!” Spider whispered.

It was now Spider’s turn.

“Everything Bennie said goes for me,” he began, “except this knock on
the climate. It was raining when we left Portland, but Dr. Warren told
us it would be clear when we got to Salem, and here’s the old sun coming
out now. I want to say the Salem climate’s all right—like the Salem
scouts. And Bennie forgot something, too. He’s always forgetting things.
Once he forgot it was vacation, and tried to get into the schoolhouse.
Now he’s forgotten to say to you fellows that when any of you come East,
you just show up in Southmead, where we live, and we’ll try to be half
as decent to you as you’ve been to us. And we hope you’ll all come.”

Loud cheers greeted this speech, and Bennie applauded harder than
anybody.

“That last part goes, you bet,” he shouted. “I didn’t really forget it,
though. I just got rattled.”

The meeting broke up with a scout cheer, and the boys heard the shouts
and good-byes even after the cars had started down the road.

“Some swell feed!” said Bennie. “Pretty nice of ’em, eh, Spider? I guess
they must like you pretty well, Uncle Bill, or they wouldn’t have done
this for us.”

“I ran into them in their camp last summer, and got to know ’em,” the
doctor answered. “Well, how do you like being an after-dinner orator?”

Bennie looked sober. “Tell you one thing,” he replied. “Next year in
school I’m going in for debating, the way Spider does. I’m not going to
feel such a boob on my feet again. Gee, I was scared pink.”

“I won’t let you forget that, Bennie,” said Spider. “We’ll make a
Demosthenes of you yet.”

The cars were now racing southward up the Willamette valley, and
traveling on the fine Pacific Highway, which stretches all the way from
Portland to the California boundary.

“I want to make Eugene tonight,” said Uncle Billy. “That’s why I’m
stepping on her. Eugene is the town where the State University is—the
college that Harvard came west to play football with a few years ago.
We’ll find a good camp site just south of Eugene, and spend the night
there. Tomorrow we’ll push on as far as we can toward Medford.”

“When do we get to Crater Lake?” the boys asked.

“Well, I doubt if we make Medford tomorrow. It’ll take another day. Then
we’ll stock up with provisions, and try to make the lake the next day,
which will be the Fourth of July. That’s the day the Park is due to
open.”

“Can we get some firecrackers in Medford?”

“Sure!” the doctor laughed.

The valley grew narrower as they ran on southward, and the hills on
either side seemed higher. But still the boys saw no mountains, and none
of the great forest trees they’d heard about in Oregon. They reached
Eugene late in the day—a lively little town, with the big, handsome
buildings of the University dominating it. Still they saw no mountains.

“Well, I suppose there _are_ some, but you got to show me,” Bennie
declared.

Beyond the town, they ran the cars up a side road to a patch of woods by
a stream, and hurried to make camp and get supper before it was dark.

“Let’s see how good scouts you really are,” Mr. Stone said to the boys.
“One of you set up the stove and make a fire, and two of you get up the
tents and blow up the sleeping bags. Uncle Bill and I will get the grub
ready.”

Dumplin’ took the stove as his job, because he knew how it worked. As
soon as it was set up, he hustled around for dead wood. Meanwhile Bennie
and Spider strung the ropes between trees for the tents, cut pegs, and
got the tents up. Then they tackled the sleeping bags. It was warm that
evening, and before they had gone far they were hot.

“Say, how much air do these things hold?” Bennie called. “I been pumping
an hour.”

“Well, sleep on it flat if you’re tired. But I want mine blown up,” his
uncle answered.

At last they had all five bags blown up and laid in the tents. By this
time the fire was roaring in the stove, and Dumplin’ had a neat little
wood-pile beside it, the two men had set up a folding table and chairs,
and food and coffee were cooking on the stove. Pretty soon Mr. Stone
called out, “Come and get it!” and with a lantern hanging from a limb
over the table, they all sat down.

“Well, this sure beats a hotel!” said Uncle Bill.

“Beats a couple of hotels,” said Dumplin’, wiping his perspiring
forehead. “You don’t have to wear a coat here.”

“Wait till you get to the lake, and you’ll be hollering for a coat,” his
father smiled.

After supper, the boys drew lots to see who would wash the dishes.
Bennie lost, and the rest built a little camp fire between the two tents
while he was clearing up. They lay around the fire talking for an hour,
and then Uncle Billy ordered “Bed!”

“Early start tomorrow,” he said. “Everybody out at five.”

The boys undressed and crawled into their sleeping bags. Then they
bounced up and down to feel how comfortable they were.

“Mine’s too hard,” said Bennie.

“So’s mine,” said Spider.

“You’ve got so much air in mine I’ll have a blowout,” said Uncle Billy.

“Gee, think of all that work for nothing!” Bennie groaned.

If anybody had been outside the tent, he would have heard three little
hisses as they let some air out of their beds. Then, three minutes
later, he would have heard three people breathing in sound slumber.



                              CHAPTER VII
            Held Up by the Snow, With the Thermometer at 86°


The next day, sure enough Uncle Billy routed everybody out at five
o’clock. They had pancakes and syrup, and bacon and coffee and toast for
breakfast, and then camp had to be struck and the cars packed again. The
sleeping bags had to be deflated and rolled up by the three boys, and
put in their canvas cases. The tents had to be rolled up and also put in
cases. The dunnage bags had to be repacked, the dishes washed and put
into the boxes on Uncle Billy’s car. It was long after seven before they
got away.

On this day, at last, they began to get a taste of wild Oregon—but just
a taste, the doctor told them. They finally came to the head of the
Willamette valley, and climbed up a long grade, beside a wild, tumbling
stream, amid huge old fir trees, and then down a long, wooded cañon on
the farther side. They rolled through more valleys full of fruit
orchards, and they passed through several towns. In one of them, where
they stopped to get an ice cream soda—or rather ice cream sodas, for
both the scouts had two apiece and Dumplin’ had three—a big banner was
stretched across the street, with the words on it in letters two feet
high:

                           IT’S THE CLIMATE.

“Golly, you wouldn’t think they had any climate anywhere else,” said
Bennie. “Out here, you’ve only got one kind. In little old Massachusetts
we have every kind.”

“Sure, and on the same day, too,” Uncle Billy laughed.

All that afternoon they climbed up endless grades, where the highway was
cut out of the sides of the cañons, and the great trees shadowed the
road, and down again, and up again.

“Are we in the Cascade Mountains now?” the boys asked.

“No, these are just hills,” said the doctor. “You won’t see any
mountains till we get almost into Medford. Cheer up, they’ll be there
tomorrow.”

The grades were so numerous, and so long and hard, that it was
impossible to make as many miles in a day here as it is in the East. As
the sun began to sink, the doctor began watching for camp sites, and
presently he pulled into a field beside the road where a brook came down
from a hill, and they camped for a second night on the road.

An early start again was ordered, and now the grades grew less severe
again, and after a few hours the cars ran out into a wide plain, and
suddenly the boys gave a yell.

“The mountains!” they cried.

Sure enough, there they were. To the east lay the blue rampart of the
Cascade range, and right in the centre, covered white with snow, shot up
the peaked pyramid of Mount McLaughlin. To the south and west, shutting
the valley in, rose more mountains, some of them still showing snow on
their summits. Across the head of the valley ran a tumbling green
stream, the Rogue River.

“That river comes down from close to Crater Lake,” said Uncle Billy.

“Gee, I’d like to get into it right now,” Bennie remarked.

A dozen miles more, and they were in Medford, a neat, clean little city
(it would be called a town in the East), surrounded by flourishing fruit
orchards and grain fields. The boys scouted around for some crackers and
fireworks, while the men restocked the cars with provisions, got gas and
oil, and inquired about the road to the lake.

“Well,” said the doctor, as they met at the cars again, “we don’t get to
Crater Lake tomorrow.”

“Aw, gee, why not?” Bennie demanded.

“Road’s not open yet to the rim. Can’t get much beyond Government Camp.”

“What’s the trouble—snow?” asked Mr. Stone.

The doctor nodded.

“Snow!” said Spider, wiping his hot forehead. “Don’t sound possible.”

“It’s the climate,” said Bennie.

Everybody laughed, and Dumplin’ announced he was going to get another
ice cream soda while the leaders decided what to do.

When he came back, the doctor and Mr. Stone had decided to go back up
the road and then up the Rogue River for a few miles, on the way to
Crater Lake, and camp there over the Fourth and the day following. By
the third day it was probable, the doctor said, that the government
rangers would have the snow blasted out of the road.

“_Blasted_ out?” said Spider.

“Sure; they use TNT. It would take forever to shovel those drifts.”

“Oh, let’s go up and watch ’em!” Bennie pleaded.

“And get the cars mired? No, thank you! We’ll camp by the Rogue River
and wait. You can swim and Spider can study birds, and Dumplin’ can wish
he was nearer a soda fountain. Come on.”

They turned off the highway at the Rogue River bridge, and the minute
they were off the macadam the dust began to fly. Spider looked back into
the cloud.

“Glad I’m not in the Stones’ car,” he said. “What makes it so dusty?”

“This soil is all volcanic ash or pumice,” said the doctor, “and it
hasn’t rained here, probably, for a month, and won’t for five or six
more.”

“It’s the climate,” chuckled Bennie.

Two or three miles up this dusty road, and close to a small, dilapidated
looking house, made of boards and huge, hand-hewn shingles or “shakes,”
the doctor put the car off the road and into a field which was baked as
hard as a brick, with the grass dried up and brown. At the edge of this
field was a grove of trees with shiny copper-colored bark and glossy
green leaves, called laurel trees, and beyond them the bank plunged
sharp down for fifty feet to the rushing green river.

“Camp,” said Uncle Billy, stopping the car. “Here’s where we live for
two days at least.”

As soon as camp was made, and wood cut, the entire party ran down the
bank to a gravelly beach by the river’s edge, stripped, and plunged into
the water. Five yells immediately rose in the stillness, and five bodies
came splashing back to shore.

“That water comes down from the snow-fields, all right,” said Mr. Stone.

“That’s why it’s so green,” said the doctor.

“And why Dumplin’s so pink,” laughed Bennie, pointing at Lester, who
certainly looked like a very plump boiled lobster.

That night they sang and joked around the camp fire till nine o’clock,
because there was no early start in the morning. When Bennie woke up,
however, he saw that Spider’s bed was empty. Going down to the river in
his pyjamas, for a plunge, he found Spider, all dressed, with a
note-book in his hand, watching birds.

“Gee, this is a great place to see birds,” Spider called. “I’ve got nine
kinds already, most of ’em that I never saw before. And you want to
watch for the funny little lizards on the ground.”

Bennie almost immediately heard a rustle in the dead leaves beside him,
and looking down saw a small lizard-like creature scurry up on to a flat
stone. He reached down to pick it up—and the lizard wasn’t there! He was
on a stone two feet away.

“Say!” he called, “this is the quickest thing I ever saw. Beats a
weasel.”

“Mr. Stone says they call ’em swifts,” Spider answered.

Among the new birds that Spider saw, and added to his bird list, he
later learned from Mr. Stone and the doctor, were ravens, western
tanagers (a beautiful, bright yellow bird), valley quail, camp robbers,
water ousels, which live always by the water and build their nests
behind the waterfalls, the western catbird, which is much like the
eastern, only brownish, and blue jays of a much darker color than in the
East. These jays fought and squawked around the camp all day long. Then
there were crows and other birds he already knew.

“Well, never mind your old birds now,” Bennie said after breakfast.
“This is the Glorious Fourth. Let’s fire off some crackers and do
something to celebrate.”

“We might run down to Medford and see the parade,” the doctor suggested.

This was hailed with delight, so they unpacked the cars, and started off
for the day. Medford was full of people. There was a parade and a ball
game and a lively time generally.

“Well, this is what I call wild life in Oregon,” Bennie laughed. “We
came 4,000 miles to get into the wilderness, and here we are with about
ten thousand other people watching a parade in a city. Some wilderness!”

“You wait,” his uncle cautioned. “In about a week, you’ll have so much
wilderness you’ll be crying for home and mother.”

That night, back in camp, they set off their own fireworks, shooting the
rockets from an improvised chute out over the water, and the next day
they spent in exploring two or three old gold diggings they found by the
bank—shafts which some prospector had laboriously dug far into the
earth, but without getting much gold, apparently, for the diggings had
all been abandoned. Bennie and Spider spent two or three hours searching
everywhere for nuggets, but they found nothing. It was hot and sultry,
too, and everybody was getting impatient.

“I’m going to start tomorrow for the lake,” the doctor said that night.
“We’ll camp below the rim if we can’t get up. It’s too hot here.”

“It’s the climate,” said Bennie—and the doctor and Dumplin’ fell upon
him and rolled him on the hard ground till he howled for mercy.



                              CHAPTER VIII
     Up to the Rim of Crater Lake at Last, Through the Snow-drifts


Everybody was out at 4:30 the next morning. The hot weather still held.
In fact, it was hotter than the day before. Bennie waited till he was on
the extreme edge of camp, with a clear field to run in, and then
remarked, “It’s the climate.”

But everybody was too busy packing to chase him.

At seven o’clock the cars were ready, and the start was at last made on
the last lap for Crater Lake.

“It’s only eighty miles—even a bit less from here, I guess. But it’s
up-hill all the way, and of course we don’t know what kind of roads
we’re going to get into.”

For many miles they ran along past scattered ranches where the
irrigation ditches paralleled the road, and the alfalfa scented the air.
Then the country began to get rougher, the road began to climb, the
tumbling, foaming green river dropped farther and farther below them
into a wild ravine, while they climbed along the side.

“This is something like!” Bennie shouted. “Bring on some more of your
old wilderness!”

“You’ll get some more pretty soon now.”

They passed a little settlement, where both cars stopped for gas and to
let the engines cool, and then the road ran into a forest, and traveled
straight as an arrow, making a long aisle as far as the eye could see.

“Government forest,” the doctor said. “This is a government road. Well,
boys, what do you think of these trees?”

The boys looked on either side of the dusty white road, into stands of
Douglas fir that almost took their breath away—great giants six and
eight feet through, and rising without any branches for a hundred feet
or more, straight as masts, and after the first branches going on up
another fifty or a hundred feet.

“Some shrubs,” said Bennie.

“You’ll see a lot of bigger ones before we get back to Portland,” said
the doctor.

After running for ten miles or so through the forest, while the car and
their faces became covered with the white pumice dust, they came
suddenly on a beautiful, cold little stream, and beside this stream an
open camp ground, maintained by the government for anybody who wanted to
use it. Here they stopped for early lunch, under the cool shadows of the
great trees.

There were at least a dozen other cars there, and half as many tents
were pitched in the woods. Fires were going. Some campers had wash hung
out to dry. The camp was clean and well cared for.

“Well,” said Spider, looking around, “all I can say is that
Massachusetts has got something to learn from Oregon. If you tried to
camp anywhere at home, you’d get chased off. And when the State does get
any land for a forest, it doesn’t make any provisions for camping. They
won’t let you build a fire. Can’t camp without a fire.”

“Here’s something for you scouts to think about,” Mr. Stone said. “Why
don’t you talk up State forests and camp sites when you go home? The Boy
Scouts could do a lot if they all got together.”

“You bet we’ll think about it,” Spider said. “Why, there’s a State
reservation right near Southmead, and a nice park on it, and the State
hasn’t even made a path around the pond so you can get to the water.”

“People in the East haven’t learned how to camp yet, anyway,” the doctor
said. “They think they’ve got to have a hotel every fifty miles.”

“Sure,” said Bennie. “Ma’s idea of roughing it is to have hot and cold
water and steam heat.”

After lunch they pushed on, and soon began to climb again, up and up,
while the radiators boiled in the heat, till they came to the entrance
of the Crater Lake National Park, where they stopped to pay the tolls on
the cars, and have a tag pasted on the wind-shield. While this was being
done, the boys crossed the road and looked down into a tremendous gorge
cut by Castle Creek into the lava rock. It was their first real taste of
what was ahead. Soon after this, as the road kept on climbing, they
began to get glimpses through the trees of mountain tops, covered with
snow, and before long the road began to get muddy in places, as if the
snow had but recently melted from it.

At last they reached Government Camp, where the Park superintendent and
the rangers live, at the foot of the last slope to the rim. Here there
were great patches of snow all about in the woods, and trickles of water
beside the road.

“Can we get up to the rim?” the doctor called to someone in a doorway.

“Half a dozen cars have gone up, and haven’t come back,” a voice
answered.

“Maybe they can’t get back,” the doctor laughed.

“Maybe,” said the other man. “But I reckon they got through. Better put
on your chains, though.”

After the chains were put on both cars, they started out once more, on
the last pull to the lake.

“Only three or four miles now,” said Uncle Billy, “and a thousand feet
to climb.”

The road was muddy, but well graded, as it wound up the ravine, through
heavy timber, with great drifts of snow on either side. Before long they
came to places where the drifts had been shoveled out to let the road
through, and in these places the road was so soft that everybody but the
drivers got out and walked. The boys made snowballs and pelted each
other. Once or twice the cars stuck, and they had to get boughs to put
under the wheels. But there was no serious delay till they were almost
at the top of the climb. Here they found several cars stalled ahead of
them. Going forward, they found that one big drift was still in the way.
Part of it was cut through, but the last end was still ten feet of solid
snow. The rangers were even now laying a train of TNT through it, and
connecting the fuses. The boys rushed back for their cameras.

When the dozen charges were ready, everybody ran out of the way. A
ranger connected the wires, and went back behind a tree to the battery.
A moment later there was a terrific explosion, and a huge geyser of
black smoke and black water rose from the drift, the blackened water
settling down in a fine, dirty mist on the snow to leeward.

“Gosh, I hope I snapped that at the right time!” said Bennie. “Made me
jump so, I couldn’t tell.”

Mr. Stone, who was working with a graflex, said he thought he got a good
one, anyway. Then they went forward and found the twelve charges had
blasted out a deep ditch in the snow right through the drift. Men sprang
in with shovels, and in fifteen minutes the cars could plough through.
From there on the snow was melted from the road, and flowers were
already coming up through the soft brown pumice soil.

Right ahead of them the boys saw the hotel, and in front of the hotel
the land seemed to disappear. It didn’t look at all like a mountain
here. The road was now quite level, and there were woods all about. Only
to the right there was a mountain peak, close by, covered with a great
cap of snow. It looked more as if they were coming to the edge of some
cañon.

“Where’s the lake?” they demanded.

“Can you stand it for two minutes more?” the doctor asked.

Now the car was close to the hotel. The boys jumped out and ran ahead,
up a little grade. And then they stopped stone dead, and drew in a long
breath of astonishment.

Right under their feet the land fell away at so sharp an angle that it
was practically a precipice, for more than a thousand feet. This great
precipice stretched out to right and left, rising here and there into
crags and cliffs a thousand feet above them, and swung around in a vast
circle six miles in diameter, thus making what looked like a gigantic
hole in the earth. At the bottom of this hole lay the lake; but it was
not an ordinary lake. It was not just water. In fact, it didn’t look
like water. It was a wonderful, a vivid, an unbelievable blue. It was
bluer than the sky.

“It’s the bluest thing I ever saw!” cried Bennie. “Wow! how do you get
down to it?”

“There’s just one trail down here,” his uncle answered, “and one around
on the east side. Those are the only two ways down to the water.”

“And what’s that little peaked island out there?” Spider asked, pointing
to what looked like a pile of cinders at one side of the lake, cinders
covered with green weeds.

“That’s Wizard Island. After this old volcano collapsed into the crater,
and before it filled with water, she started up again to build a new
volcano. That island is the result. It’s a little volcano all by itself,
with a crater in the top. That island is 800 feet above the water line,
and the green you see on it is made by big trees.”

“Gosh!” said Bennie. “It looks about eight feet high, instead of 800.
Can we get to it?”

“We’ll get to it, all right. But we’ve got to make camp before we do
anything.”

[Illustration: Crater Lake—Wizard Island, and over it Llao Rock]

“Will you tell us after supper all about this lake, how it got made and
everything?” Spider asked. “Gee, I wish I’d studied geology.”

“You’ve come to the right place to begin,” said the doctor. “But now for
a camp site. Come on with me.”

Leaving the cars, they walked westward along the rim, looking for a
chance to get the cars through the drifts. They could manage, they
found, to run them a few hundred feet west of the hotel, along what
looked like a road. There was a considerable open space between the edge
of the rim and the timber, however, and to get back from the rim to the
trees they had to get the camp spades out of the cars and dig a ditch
through two feet of snow. At last the cars were through, and a
comparatively dry spot found under some big fir trees. Here the tents
were put up, with the stove between them, the cars unpacked, the beds
inflated, and Dumplin’ and Bennie went after wood while Spider took the
pails and went back over the snow toward the hotel for water. All the
water has to be pumped up to the hotel and the camp grounds from a
spring back down the road. When he returned, he reported that already a
dozen more cars had arrived, several tents were going up, and there were
a lot of people at the hotel.

Meanwhile Bennie and Dumplin’ had discovered that past campers had
cleaned out so much of the dead wood that it was hard to find enough for
a fire, especially as the woods were still full of snow and the fallen
branches buried or else soaking wet. However, they rustled up enough for
that night and breakfast, and preparations for supper began.

As the sun got lower and lower, the water of the lake seemed to turn a
darker and darker blue, and the snow cap on Garfield, the peak just to
the east, turned a lovely rose red—and Bennie put on his coat.

“What you putting that on for?” his uncle asked.

“It’s the climate,” said Bennie, with a grin.

“Well, suppose you and Dump go drain the radiators before we forget it,”
the doctor laughed.

“What do you mean, drain the radiators? Are you kidding?” the boys
demanded.

“Kidding? Not on your life. Go do as I tell you.”

“But, gee whiz, they were _boiling_ about three hours ago,” Dumplin’
said.

“That was three hours ago, and 2,000 feet lower. Go do as I tell you.”

“Some climate, I’ll say!” Bennie laughed. But he was still skeptical, it
was plain to see. He thought his uncle was trying to play a joke on him.
However, he and Dumplin’ drained the cars.

A few minutes later they heard the welcome call from the camp, “Come and
get it!”



                               CHAPTER IX
                   The Mountain That Fell Into Itself


It was still twilight when dinner was over, and the doctor said, “First
class in geology will now be held on Victory Rock. Do you scouts have
merit badges in geology, by the way?”

“No,” said Spider.

“That’s funny. Seems to me you ought to,” Mr. Stone declared. “Scouts
are hiking around the country all the time, and it’s a mighty good
chance to see how the earth was made.”

Victory Rock, the boys found, is a kind of bowsprit of lava thrust out
from the rim, so that when you stand on it you can see almost all the
circle of the lake, and the water appears to be directly under you.

“Now, take a good look,” Uncle Billy said, “and then try to imagine what
this place was like before the big explosion. The rim here is 7,000 feet
above sea level. In other words, we’ve climbed up, to get here, about
half the height of the original mountain. We are about at snow line.”

“About!” Bennie laughed. “About is good!”

“Now just imagine the line of ascent we took from Government Camp
carried right on up, all around the lake. When the slopes met, over the
middle, in the peak of the original mountain, geologists reckon that
peak was from 14,000 to 15,000 feet high. This was one of the highest
mountains, if not the highest, in the United States proper. It was an
active volcano, of course. If you’ll look over there to the northwest,
you’ll see a big, steep precipice with a rounded top. That’s called Llao
Rock. Do you see how the bottom of it curves up at either end? Well,
that curve shows you where the bottom of a ravine was on the original
mountain. In some eruption, ages ago, a great stream of lava flowed down
that ravine, filled it up to overflowing, and hardened into rock. If you
travel around the lake, you can pick out where each ravine was by the
laval cliffs.”

“How high is that Llao Rock?” asked Spider.

“About 2,000 feet from the water.”

“Gee, then that lava stream was more’n a thousand feet deep!”

“It was,” said the doctor. “Much more.”

“And then what happened?” Bennie asked.

“Well, I wasn’t here at the time,” said Uncle Billy, “but as near as the
scientists can figure it out, there must have been a tremendous
eruption, scattering pumice all over Oregon and making a lot of our rich
soil, and then, at the level where we are now, probably a lot of vent
holes blew out, making the whole top of the mountain, which was only a
shell around the great crater hole, so insecure that it just toppled
inward of its own weight. About seven or eight thousand feet of the
mountain just collapsed into the crater.”

“Say, I’d like to have been here with the old kodak!” Bennie cried. “And
then what happened?”

“Well, then the bottom of the crater evidently started to spit again,
and build up a new mountain. It built up a perfect cone, just the shape
of the old mountain, almost to the level of the rim. That’s Wizard
Island out there. Wizard Island is a later kind of lava and volcanic
stuff than what you find in the rim walls. But the old mountain got
tired about then, and decided to call it a day, and it’s been resting
ever since.”

“But how did the water get here?” Dumplin’ asked.

“Out of the sky. There are no springs, so far as anybody knows, in the
crater. That water has just come from the snow and rain—mostly snow,
which has been falling into the hole for untold ages. Over on the east
side of the lake, it is 2,000 feet deep.”

“Say, you could almost dive there without hitting your head on bottom,
couldn’t you?” Bennie laughed. “What makes it so blue?”

“Nobody seems to know that. Some people think there must be some
chemical or mineral gets into it. Anyway, there’s no other lake in the
world which has its color.”

“I’ll bet there isn’t!” Spider declared. “My, it’s a beautiful thing.
When are we going down to it? Are there boats on it? How do they get the
boats down there?”

“One at a time!” Mr. Stone laughed. “We’ll go down as soon as the trail
is opened. They get the boats down the trail on wheels, by man power,
and keep ’em winters over on Wizard Island. You could see the boat-house
if it wasn’t so dark.”

“Let’s go over to the hotel and find out if the trail is open yet!” the
boys cried, and led the way without waiting for an answer.

No, the trail wasn’t open, the hotel manager told them. But the boatmen
had been down and got some rowboats out, and two men had gone down
fishing that afternoon.

“But it’s not a safe trip,” the manager added. “We don’t advise anybody
to try it. The government is going to begin shoveling the snow out of
the trail tomorrow morning. You’d better wait a day or two.”

They thanked him, bought some souvenir post-cards to send home, and went
back to camp.

“Have we got to wait?” the boys demanded.

The two men only smiled.

“Better be up early,” they said. “We might have a try at it. Can’t tell.
Bennie seems to want a bit of real wild stuff. Maybe we can give it to
him.”

There was not wood enough in camp to make a camp fire, and no chance to
get any more till daylight. Everybody had put on his sweater, and the
air was getting colder and colder.

“Nothing for it but to go to bed,” Mr. Stone declared. “And be thankful
you have those blankets you didn’t need at Rogue River.”

“It’s the climate!” said Bennie, as he shivered in his pyjamas and
wriggled hastily in between all the blankets he could stuff into his
sleeping bag. “Oh, you blankets!”

“And down in Medford, eighty miles away, they’re probably kicking off
the sheets,” laughed Uncle Billy. “What do you think of Crater Lake now,
eh?”

But Bennie only grunted. He was already half asleep.



                               CHAPTER X
  Down the Rim to the Lake—The Boys Ski on a Crater Snow-drift in July


The two scouts were first awake the next morning. They took no more time
getting dressed than the law allowed, for it was shivery cold, and then
went outside the tent to wash. The sun was just coming up, and the night
mists still hung around the sides of the rim and over the water of the
lake, which was so still that it was exactly like a huge bright blue
mirror, six miles wide, in which everything hung upside down. The water
in the pails at the side of the tent had a skim of ice over it!

Bennie broke the ice and poured some water in a basin, dousing it on his
face and spluttering with the cold. They went over the snow-drifts to
the tap to get more water, and the snow was crusted and held them up so
that their hobnailed boots crunched and squeaked on it.

“And this is July 7th!” said Spider. “Well, you thought your uncle was
joshing about the radiator last night, didn’t you?”

“I sure did,” Bennie answered. “Didn’t realize what a difference
altitude makes.”

[Illustration: Campers at the Rim of Crater Lake. Mid-July Snow in
Foreground]

After they had brought the water, and made a fire in the stove, the
scouts went off after a wood supply, while the rest were dressing. They
wandered a long way back down the slope, through the forest, and tried
to imagine, as they looked back, that instead of being cut off at the
rim the mountain went on up another 8,000 feet.

“I guess if it did, we’d be on a glacier here, instead of just snow,”
said Spider. “Look, Bennie, at those flowers coming up within a foot of
this drift! I’m going to collect a lot of flowers on this trip, and get
a merit badge in botany, too. Why don’t you get after some merit
badges?”

“Aw, gee, what good am I at botany and stuff like that?”

“Well, you could go after one in forestry. We’ll be seeing a lot of real
forests. And there’s hiking, and camping. Oh, lots of ’em.”

“Got your manual with you?”

“Sure.”

“Well, let’s look ’em up later, and see what chance a dub like me has,”
Bennie answered. “But this ain’t getting us much fire wood.”

They were so far from the camp ground now that dead wood was plentiful,
and they returned to camp over the drifts and the bare clearings where
the wild flowers were just sprouting—spring in July—dragging dead limbs
enough to last two or three days. The smell of coffee and bacon greeted
them as they came up the last slope to the camp.

“By the way,” Spider asked at breakfast, “what was the name of this
mountain before it fell into itself?”

“Who was there to name it, you poor fish?” laughed Bennie.

“I never thought of that!”

“It has a posthumous name, though,” said Mr. Stone.

“Come again—come again!” Bennie said. “What kind of a name?”

“Ho, I know what that means!” put in Dumplin’, his mouth full of wheat
cakes.

“What _what_ means?” the rest demanded.

“P-p”—he swallowed hard, and then got it out—“posthumous.”

“Well, what does it mean?”

“It means something that comes after you’re dead. If a man writes a book
that ain’t printed till he’s dead, it’s a posthumous book.”

“My son,” said Mr. Stone, “I am proud of you.”

“Not to say surprised at him,” the doctor laughed.

Dumplin’ grinned triumphantly, and reached out for more cakes.

“Well, what was its p-p-posthumous name?” Bennie demanded.

“They call the mountain Mount Mazama. You see, there’s a famous club of
mountaineers in Portland, who are called the Mazamas, and that’s why the
name was given to this vanished peak.”

“Mazama—sounds sort of Indian.”

“It is—it’s the Indian word for a mountain goat.”

“That’s us,” said Bennie. “When do we leap lightly down the rim to the
water?”

“As soon as you’ve washed the dishes,” said his uncle.

The sun was well up when they started, and the chill had gone from the
air. You could hardly believe water had frozen two hours before. Mr.
Stone carried his movie camera, which weighed fifty pounds, on his back
in a knapsack made for it, Dumplin’ carried the tripod, also in a sack,
Bennie and Spider carried their canteens filled with spring water, their
cameras, and the lunch in knapsacks. The doctor had two canteens and the
coil of 125 feet of soft alpine braided rope. Everybody had an
alpenstock. As the little procession passed the hotel, the people there
looked at them curiously.

“You evidently mean business,” somebody said.

“We’re going down to the lake,” said the doctor.

“I wouldn’t try it, if I were you,” the other man replied. “Two chaps
went down yesterday, and they had a pretty bad time. They say it’s
extremely dangerous.”

“We’ll take a chance,” said Uncle Billy.

The trail starts down just east of the hotel. It is a wide footpath cut
in the soft lava and the powdery pumice and conglomerate of the slope,
switchbacking down a sharp ravine. But this ravine was now almost filled
with snow, so that the path was buried, and the descent had to be made
over the bare snow slope, at an angle of fifty degrees. If you once
started slipping, there was nothing to stop you for a thousand feet. The
park gang of a dozen men or more, with shovels, were just attacking the
snow at the top, shoveling out the path and tossing the snow chunks on
to the slope, down which they slid and bounded like a bombardment.

The doctor led the way past the shovelers, so they would be out of the
range of the falling lumps, uncoiled the rope, tied one end around his
waist, flung the other end down the slope, drove his alpenstock deep and
firm, braced his feet, and said:

“Now, you all go down to the end, one at a time. Keep a firm hold on the
rope. Don’t ever let go with more than one hand. When you get to the
bottom, brace your stocks, and Stone, you take up the slack on me as I
come down.”

One by one the boys and Mr. Stone faced half sideways to the slope, kept
hold of the rope with the right hand, and went down the 125 feet step by
step. As Bennie started down, he saw that just above them on the rim
were a dozen people, come from the hotel to watch.

“Gee, this is the life!” he shouted.

The boys watched Uncle Billy come down when everybody else was at the
rope’s end. He had no rope to help him, of course, but he used his
alpenstock with one hand, and drove his boots firmly into the snow with
a sideways motion which made a little step for him.

“Guess old Uncle Bill knows his way about,” thought Bennie.

From this point, the operation was repeated, getting them down 250 feet.
But by now the shovelers in the path above had worked ahead, and the
snow chunks were whizzing past uncomfortably close. They saw that the
ravine narrowed ahead of them into a kind of bottle neck, and all the
chunks worked into that neck. They would have to pass right through it.
No use in yelling up to the shovelers to quit, either. Their job was to
get the trail opened as soon as possible. Besides, they were laughing,
and the little party down in the ravine knew that meant they were just
waiting to get them into the narrow place and bombard them.

“Keep half an eye up the slope this next drop,” the doctor said, “and
watch out for cannon balls. Those fellows up there are going to wing us
if they can. The chunks won’t break any bones, but they’ll hurt. Once
we’re through the neck, we can get round behind that rock, and be out of
range.”

“Let her go!” said Mr. Stone.

Nobody lost any time on that next drop. Mr. Stone went first, and no
sooner was he out into the narrow groove of the ravine than a perfect
avalanche of snow chunks came whizzing down. Most of them got broken up
before they reached him, but every now and then one hung together, as
big as a shoveler could lift out of the path, and went whizzing by a
mile a minute. One of them bounced up just before it reached him, and
landed _ker-blam_ against his camera sack, smashing into a thousand
pieces, and nearly taking him off his feet.

“The idiots!” Uncle Billy said. “I’d like to throw ’em all down here
head first. Go ahead, Dump. Your father’s round the bend now.”

“You’re an easy mark, Dumplin’!” yelled the boys, as poor Lester slid
down the rope into the path of the whirling missiles. “Hi! look out—here
comes a big one!”

Lester ducked, and a block of snow bounded right over his head. Bennie
had no such luck when he started, though. He dodged a couple, but a
third chunk caught him right in the head, smashed wetly around his neck
and ears, and he felt the water trickling down inside his shirt as he
hurried, half blinded, around the rock to shelter. Spider and the doctor
soon joined them, Spider nursing a bump on the leg from a snow chunk
with a stone in it.

“Great idea of a joke, those guys have,” said Bennie. “Funny thing,
Dumplin’ never got hit at all, and he’s the easiest mark. Where do we go
from here?”

The doctor looked around. Straight down below them was a long slope of
pumice and gravelly looking stuff, at a very steep angle, with a few
trees and lava blocks breaking it up, and patches of snow.

“Here,” he said, and threw out the rope.

Bennie started first. His feet seemed to hold well in this soft ground,
and he let his hand just slide along the rope, seeing how fast he could
walk down. Suddenly the ground just slipped away under him. He sat down,
and began to slide. His hand, held too loosely on the rope, was yanked
off. He grasped for the rope again, but it was out of reach. For one
sickly, awful moment, he saw the lake and the rocks hundreds of feet
below him, and thought he was going to land down there—or what was left
of him. Down, down he slid, six feet, eight feet, hit a patch of snow
and went faster, while he tried vainly to dig in with hands and heels.
Then, as suddenly as the first slip, he realized that in ten feet more
he’d hit a tree growing on a tiny flat place by a piece of solid lava. A
second, and his feet struck the roots with a thump, and he stopped
abruptly.

When the rest got to him, he was still sitting there, trembling a
little, and trying to clean off his clothes. His uncle’s face was white,
but all he said was:

“I thought you knew how to climb, Bennie. I see you’ve got to be taught
to keep a hold on the rope.”

“It—it came so sudden.”

“It always does come sudden,” his uncle answered. That was all he said.
That was all he ever said about it the whole trip. But it was all he
needed to say. Bennie felt deeply ashamed. He had failed on the very
first climb! He resolved then and there that the next time he’d hang on
to that rope with a death grip.

“Were you scared?” Spider whispered to him, as they got down to the
trail where the snow had melted off, and could walk the last few feet of
the way. “Gee, I was scared blue when I saw you goin’, till I spotted
the tree, and knew you were goin’ to hit it. Hadn’t been there, though,
you’d been a goner. Golly!”

“Sure I was scared,” said Bennie. “Didn’t have time to think much about
it, though, before I hit the good old roots.”

Dumplin’ now dropped alongside.

“If it had been me,” he said, “I’d have knocked the tree down, and gone
right on.”

“You’d ’a’ made an awful splash in the lake,” Bennie laughed, though his
voice still trembled a little.

There were only three boats at the landing, and none of the boatmen had
yet come down that day. They were waiting for the trail to be opened.
But the hotel manager had told Uncle Billy how to find the oars, and
loading the cameras and lunch into a couple of the skiffs, they pushed
off, Bennie insisting on rowing one boat, and Lester the other. The lake
was very still as they floated out over its blue water.

“It don’t look more’n ten feet deep to me,” said Bennie, glancing over
the side. “There’s the old bottom.”

“Look up at the cliffs and take ten more strokes, and then look down,”
said Mr. Stone from the other boat.

Bennie did so.

“Jiminy crickets and little jumping hoptoads!” he exclaimed. “Why, there
isn’t any bottom!”

Sure enough, the bottom had dropped completely away. They were floating
on what seemed like a bottomless blue liquid.

“I feel as if we were sort of hanging in a piece of the sky,” said
Spider. “I never had such a funny sensation.”

The doctor smiled. “You’ve got the Crater Lake blues,” he said. “It
scares some people.”

“I like it,” said Spider. “Gee, it’s wonderful!”

Bennie glanced over his shoulder at Wizard Island, which looked about a
quarter of a mile away, headed his bow for it, and started to pull
again.

“We’ll be there in a jiffy,” he said.

“How far do you think it is?” his uncle asked.

“’Bout a quarter of a mile.”

“It’s almost two, in a straight line.”

“Gee!” said Bennie.

From the level of the water, Crater Lake was quite a different place.
Instead of looking down from the rim, you looked up, and the cliffs that
hemmed you in seemed far higher and far steeper. They looked as steep as
they really are. The high points around the rim—Garfield Peak, Dutton
Cliffs, Llao Rock, Glacier Peak, the Watchman, were all snow-capped, and
in many places the snow came down the rim ravines in great white wedges
like capital V’s, almost to the blue water. The hotel looked like a
little Noah’s ark.

“Say, if a guy got caught down here and had to go on shore where he
couldn’t get to the trail, what would he do? Could he climb out?” Bennie
asked.

“There’s a trail out over there on the east, at that lowest place,” said
the doctor. “The rim is only 500 feet high there. Those two are the only
trails. You might be able to climb out at some other points. A
photographer once climbed up under Llao Rock and worked along the base
of the lava precipices till he reached the top of the rim. But if I was
caught down here in most places, I’d sit tight till a boat came for me.”

“You needn’t die of thirst, anyhow,” Spider laughed.

Slowly Wizard Island drew nearer, and at last Bennie pulled into a
little cove, and they hauled the bow up. Lester pulled his skiff in a
moment later. Wizard Island, all around the base, seemed to be composed
entirely of huge blocks of blackish-brown lava, out of which evergreens
mysteriously grew—big, fine trees, too. They scrambled up over these
blocks, and soon found a trail winding up the steep slope through the
woods. The lava blocks ceased now, and the whole little mountain was
composed of a fine material much like cinders from a locomotive. In
fact, the baby volcano now resembled nothing so much as a huge cone of
cinders, covered with trees. Up and up they toiled, Mr. Stone panting
under the weight of his movie camera, and at last reached the summit.
Before anybody even looked about, the canteens were unslung and half
emptied. Then they looked.

The top of Wizard Island was a perfect circle, like Crater Lake itself,
only a tiny circle, two or three hundred feet across. Inside was a
crater, about a hundred feet deep, and now filled on the south side,
where the sun didn’t hit it, with a huge snow-drift pitching steeply
down to the bottom.

“Ah! I thought so!” cried Mr. Stone. “Boys, get busy. I’m going to take
a movie of you sliding down a crater on the snow. Try it once standing
up, and see if you can keep your feet.”

[Illustration: The Boys Sliding down Wizard Island Crater. (Enlarged
from a Movie)]

The three boys ran out on the drift to the edge, and stepped over. The
snow was soft enough so that they sank in a little and pushed enough
snow ahead to bank up after ten or a dozen feet. When it did this, it
would pitch you head foremost unless you were spry and jumped over the
bank in time. The first try all three boys went headlong a quarter of
the way down, and made the rest of the trip on their stomachs. They got
up and struggled back up the steep incline.

By this time the camera was set up and focussed.

“Good!” said Mr. Stone. “Now get out of the picture a way, and when I
say ‘Shoot’ come walking in to the edge. Stop there a moment and point,
as if you were daring each other to go down. Then all slide. Keep your
feet if you can. At the bottom, get up quickly, and come scrambling
back. Ready? Get on your marks, shoot!”

The three boys came into the picture as the crank ground and the camera
clicked. They stopped at the rim, and began to act.

“I dast you to slide down!” said Bennie, forgetting this was a movie,
and nobody would hear his voice.

“Ho!” said Dumplin’, “that’s nothin’.”

He tossed off his cap. Spider tossed off his. The three of them stepped
over the rim, and shot down. Dumplin’ got a third of the way and
spilled, head foremost. A second later Spider followed him. Only Bennie
got to the bottom on his feet. He yelled and waved his arms in triumph,
and all three started scrambling and slipping back up the drift, digging
into the snow with heels and hands. As they came up over the rim again,
the camera stopped clicking.

“Good,” said Mr. Stone. “That’s a dandy.”

“Some Douglas Fairbanks, eh?” cried Bennie. “Gee, Dumplin’, you sure did
a comic fall. Bet that would get a laugh on the screen.”

“My hands are cold—and I’m sweating,” said Lester. “That’s going some.”

“It’s the climate!” came from three mouths at once.

They now walked around the little rim, and on the west side of the
island saw, at the base of the cone, a flat space of a few acres, with a
tiny little pond in it.

“This is a volcano within a volcano, and that is a lake inside of a
lake,” the doctor pointed out. “You don’t often find that. Now let’s eat
some lunch, and go down and see if we can catch a fish or two for
supper.”

They sat, hatless and coatless, in the shade of a little tree beside a
snow-drift, and ate their lunch, finishing up the last of the water in
the canteens, also. Then they descended to the boats. Mr. Stone mounted
his camera in the bow of one boat, with Lester to row, while Spider
rowed the other, the doctor sat as passenger, and Bennie got out the
collapsible rod his uncle had brought, jointed it, and adjusted the
tackle.

“Don’t seem fair to fish for trout with a spinner, as if they were
nothing but pickerel,” he declared. “Wish we had some flies.”

“We want the fish to eat,” said the doctor, “and Stone wants a picture.
We’ll use the surest way to get ’em. Now, Spider, row very slowly and
just as steadily as you can, just offshore, around the rocks. Keep an
even pace—that’s the main thing. If the spinner yanks, the fish get
suspicious.”

Their boat crept softly along, with the Stones’ boat not far behind, Mr.
Stone sitting by the camera as if it were a machine gun pointed at them.

Suddenly the line, trailing behind, tightened, Bennie gave a cry, there
was a leap and a silver flash in the water astern, and the fight was on!

“Play him, play him!” the doctor shouted. “Keep on rowing, Spider. Give
Stone a chance to shoot! Bring him up slowly, Bennie, don’t lose him!”

“I won’t lose him,” Bennie answered grimly. “Gee whiz, what a trout! He
pulls like a whale!”

Slowly he reeled in, and then had to play out again, as the fish made a
dash past the boat. But the big spinner hook was too much for him, and
after three or four minutes he was alongside, giving his last kicks and
splashes in the water.

“Swing around, swing around, so the camera can get this!” called the
doctor.

As the boat swung, Lester pulled nearer, the camera kept on clicking,
and Bennie, reaching over, grabbed the line short and hauled the trout
into the boat, holding him up to show his size.

“Some baby!” he cried, breathless with excitement. “He weighs about four
pounds. What kind of a trout is he?”

“They put eastern brook trout into this lake,” said Uncle Billy. “There
were no fish here till it was stocked.”

“Eastern brook trout!” Bennie exclaimed. “Well, that’s the funniest
looking eastern brook trout _I_ ever saw. I guess something happened to
’em.”

“It’s the climate,” Spider chuckled.

“I think it is myself, and no joke,” said the doctor. “They are
certainly a different fish, both to look at and to eat, than the brook
trout we used to catch back home. You catch one now, Spider.”

Spider took the line, and caught a trout. Then the doctor got one, and
the line was passed to Lester, who lost the spinner in a rock on the
bottom, but, with a new hook, caught still a fourth fish.

“That’s enough to last us; now for home,” came the orders.

“I wonder if they’ve got the trail cleared yet? Don’t much want to face
that bombardment again,” said Mr. Stone.

“They’ll be through digging for the day, anyhow, before we get in,” said
Uncle Billy.

The long shadows from the western walls were out across the water when
they reached the landing and tied up the boats. There was no sign of
shovelers on the trail, but no sign, either, that the gang had got to
the bottom. They had to make the first half of the climb as best they
could, scrambling up the treacherous slopes with the aid of the
alpenstocks and the rope which the doctor dragged up ahead and fastened
at convenient points. Half-way up, however, they reached the spot where
the trail breakers had quit work, and they were glad enough of the path
and the easy grade the rest of the way. Their packs were getting heavier
and heavier, and the doctor was taking shifts on the camera, before they
finally dragged themselves over the rim, into the sunlight again.

Bennie was carrying the four trout proudly when they passed the hotel,
and a crowd came out to see the catch. At least a score more motors had
arrived during the day, and the hotel bus was arriving with a load of
people. At their camp, they found two new tents pitched close to theirs,
the cars bearing California license plates.

“Well, our privacy is gone,” sighed Mr. Stone.

“I don’t care, if they haven’t got a crying child along, to keep us
awake,” the doctor said.

“Nothing could keep me awake tonight,” said Bennie, flopping down on the
ground.

“And nothing could wake me tomorrow morning,” puffed Lester, flopping
down beside him.

“Well, don’t go to sleep till you’ve cleaned those fish for us,” Uncle
Billy laughed. “And, Dump, you get water, and, Spider, you make the
fire.”

The smell of boiling coffee and sizzling trout brought new life to
everybody. And how they ate! The fish meat was reddish in color, more
like salmon than eastern brook trout, but it certainly tasted good, and
there was enough for everybody, with potatoes, and bread, and coffee and
stewed fruit.

When supper was over and cleared away, and they were sitting around the
little camp fire, in their sweaters again, for the evening chill had
descended with the sun, a man strolled over from the near-by camp.

“Kind o’ cold up here,” he remarked.

“Drained your radiator?” Mr. Stone asked.

“No. What you giving us?”

“Just as you like,” Mr. Stone replied. “If you like a busted radiator,
it’s up to you. I don’t care.”

“You mean to tell me it’ll freeze up? Why, it was eighty-eight in the
shade in Medford this morning.”

“It was probably hotter than that in Los Angeles,” said Uncle Billy,
with a wink at Mr. Stone.

“No, sir!” the other man retorted. “No siree, Bob. We have the finest
climate in Southern California there is in the world. Never too hot, and
never too cold.”

“It’s the climate,” chuckled Bennie.

“You bet your life it’s the climate, kid,” said the man.

“Funny, another man from California once told me the same thing,” Mr.
Stone smiled. “I’ll have to go down there some day and try it.”

“You’d better. No place like it.”

“What are you doing in Oregon?” Uncle Billy suggested.

“Oh, just taking a look around. Pretty nice little lake here, but you
ought to see the Yosemite.”

“I’ve been to Coney Island,” Bennie grinned, falling into the game.

“I’ve seen a picture of Venice by moonlight,” said Dumplin’.

“I’ve been up Bunker Hill Monument. It is 224 feet high,” said Spider.

The Californian began to get wise to the fact that he was being guyed,
and moved off. They watched him. He went past their cars and glanced at
the ground under the hoods to see if they had really been drained. Then
he went over and drained his own.

Mr. Stone laughed. “Push any button on a Californian, and you’ll start a
record about the finest climate in the world.”

“It’s the climate,” said Bennie, solemnly. “Let’s see, where did I see
that? Oh, yes, on a big banner across the road in a city down in
California.”

“A hit, son. I admit it,” Mr. Stone answered. “We do a lot of bragging
ourselves. At that, we’ve got a pretty nice climate.”

“I move that the next man who says ‘climate’ has to wash all the dishes
for the next three days,” said Dumplin’. “All in favor.”

A great shout of “Aye!” went up, and on that they turned in.

“Praises be to the man who invented the air mattress,” sighed Bennie, as
he crawled wearily into his sleeping bag. “Oh, you pneumatic kid!”

“Had enough hard work to satisfy you?” his uncle asked.

“Till about eight A. M. tomorrow,” Bennie answered. “Good night,
friends. Please tell the bellhop to bring me hot water at 7:30.”



                               CHAPTER XI
     Dumplin’ Tests the Strength of a Snow Cornice on Garfield Peak


Their friend the California camper and his party were up bright and
early. At least, they were up early. As Bennie woke up at their noisy
shouting, and listened to their conversation, he didn’t think they were
particularly bright.

“Oh, well, Irvin Cobb couldn’t make me laugh at half-past five in the
morning,” Dumplin’ said at breakfast. “I heard ’em, but I went to sleep
again. I just stayed awake long enough to hear whether they were talking
about their cli—ha! you didn’t catch me!—about the atmospheric
conditions of California.”

“Did they?” his father asked.

“Not’s I heard. One of ’em was pulling a merry jest. His idea of a joke,
I s’pose. He was throwing cold water on the ones that weren’t up.”

“Gee, I’d have killed him!” the doctor said. “Maybe they’ll be gone by
night. Well, what shall we do today? I don’t feel like going down to the
lake again till the trail is open. It will be done by tonight.”

“Let’s climb Garfield!”

“Good,” said Mr. Stone. “I’d like to get a movie of you all up on that
snow cap against the sky.”

“And I’m going to gather all the kinds of wild flowers I can, and
identify ’em from those mounted specimens in the hotel,” said Spider.
“Might’s well do some work for a botany honor medal, too.”

Bennie was looking up in the tree as Spider spoke.

“Look,” he said, “who’s your friend?”

“Who are your friends, you mean,” added Uncle Billy, also looking up.

Two large birds, fat and sleek, with gray and black plumage were hopping
nearer and nearer to the tents, apparently much excited.

“Hello!” cried Spider. “They are new ones on me. Say, aren’t they tame!”

Mr. Stone laughed. “Tame is the word. Everybody look the other way, and
pretend to pay no attention.”

They did so, and suddenly there was a flutter close by, a little peep, a
flap of wings, and one of the birds was right down on the box by the
stove that served as a kitchen table, and up in the tree again with half
a slice of bread in his bill.

“Well, I’ll be switched!” Bennie exclaimed. “Can you beat that! What are
they?”

“Ever heard of camp robbers?”

“Are _those_ camp robbers, eh? Canada jays is another name, isn’t it?
Well, I thought camp robbers were ugly birds. Those are beautiful.”

“They are beautiful, but now they’ve discovered the camps up here, we’ll
have to keep everything covered. They can’t take a hint worth a cent.”

“Let’s shoo ’em over to California’s camp,” laughed Bennie.

Presently they started off for Garfield.

“Hey, Uncle Bill, where’s the rope?” Bennie asked.

“Don’t need it today.”

“Aw, can’t we take it along and find a place to use it?”

“Nothing doing. We don’t carry any excess baggage out here, son.”

The climb up Garfield proved to be an easy one. The trail was clear of
snow for half the distance, and the rest of the short thousand feet was
over drifts that were neither difficult nor dangerous, till they reached
a little flat place a hundred feet short of the summit. Here a sheer
precipice confronted them, with the summit snow cap hanging out over it
like the cornice of a gigantic house roof.

Mr. Stone set up his camera some distance out from the cliff.

“Now, I want you all to go up there, around on the side, where the trail
goes, and come out into view on the left end of the top. Then walk in
single file, slowly, along the cornice to the right, and then move back
out of sight again. When you get to the top, don’t come into view till I
yell, ‘Shoot!’”

“You mean you want us to walk out on that snow that hangs over the
precipice, Pa?” Lester demanded.

“Sure, why not?”

“Well, if it breaks off with our weight, where do we go from there?”

“It won’t break. You don’t have to get right on the edge of it, of
course. But it would hold up a team of horses.”

“Yes, but will it hold up Dumplin’?” said Bennie.

[Illustration: The Boys Walking on the Snow Cornice of Garfield Peak.
(Enlarged from a Movie)]

“Come on, boys, let’s get this Pearl White stuff over,” the doctor
laughed.

They scrambled up around the side to the very peak, and waited till they
heard the signal. Then one by one they walked forward toward the edge.
The doctor led the way, and sounded with his alpenstock. He stopped five
feet short of the extreme edge, however, turned and walked along that
line, the rest following him holding their breaths, and half expecting
to go pitching down any instant. But they didn’t. The snow cornice was
many feet thick, and would probably have held up a far greater weight.

When they were out of the picture again, they looked around. The view
was tremendous, and the first one they had got from a high summit.
(Garfield is a shade over 8,000 feet.) To the south they saw the
glistening white snow cone of Mount McLaughlin, and then far, far away,
150 miles, floating almost like a cloud on the horizon, the great white
bulk of Mount Shasta in California, more than 14,000 feet high. To the
eastward, they looked out over the desert country of southeastern
Oregon, stretching for endless miles. North of them, they looked right
down for 2,000 feet into the blue caldera of Crater Lake. North of the
lake, beyond the farther rim, they could see Mount Thielsen, which
looked like a huge needle of lava sticking straight up into the air, and
beyond that the white pyramid of Diamond Peak. Everywhere near by, on
the outer slopes of the crater, they looked down into dark mysterious
forests marching up the ravines.

“Well, Bennie, is this big enough and wild enough for you?” the doctor
demanded.

“I never saw so much land all at once in my life,” said Bennie, “or such
a big hole in it. And to think I’ve seen old Shasta, way off in
California! This beats the old geography!”

“You loosed a larynxful then,” came from Dumplin’.

“Not very poetic, Dump, but true,” the doctor smiled.

The boys found the steepest drift on the descent, and tried to ski down
it on their boot soles, but they hit such a rate of speed that all three
of them toppled over, and landed at the bottom head over heels. After
they had reached the open trail once more, Spider cut away from the
path, and worked down the side slope, through the pumice drifts and the
tumbled piles of broken lava, gathering specimens of wild flowers. You
would hardly have supposed anything would grow in such unpromising
looking soil, but volcanic stuff rapidly breaks up into a soil rich in
chemical plant foods, especially potash, and soon his hands were full.
Bennie, who had followed him, began to help, and rapidly got interested
in the game of finding new varieties. It was a big bunch they finally
brought into camp, half an hour after the rest had reached home.

That afternoon Spider took his flowers and a note-book over to the
hotel, where a large case of mounted specimens is exhibited, and spent
two hours identifying them, and listing the names in his note-book, with
his specimens pressed between the leaves. Bennie bought some candy, and
a bunch of post-cards, and scribbled messages to his mother and father
and friends. Finally he came over to Spider.

“Gee whiz, you’re a studious one,” he said. “Wish I was. How do you get
that way?”

“I don’t know. I just can’t help being interested in birds and plants
and things like that. You’ve just got to find something you’re awfully
interested in, I guess.”

“Well, I’m interested in mountains, but that won’t get me any merit
badge. I’m gettin’ kind of interested in supper about now, too. What say
we beat it over to camp?”

They walked back along the rim. The snow cap on Garfield was growing
pink behind them, and the lake below, ruffled by a little wind, was like
a wrinkled carpet of vivid ultramarine blue. The trail, they heard, was
now dug out all the way to the landing. Rested by the quiet afternoon,
they felt keen for fresh adventures.

“I feel’s if I could walk all the way around this old rim,” Bennie
declared. “You know, there’s a motor road runs around it, only it’s full
of snow now. Has to cut down behind Dutton Cliffs and Garfield, way down
to the road we came up on. But the rest of the way round it’s up on the
rim. Uncle Bill says it’s about thirty or thirty-five miles around, he
thinks, by the road. Bet you we could do it in a day, right over the old
snow. That ought to help toward a merit badge for hiking.”

“I’d rather row around the lake at the base of the cliffs,” said Spider.

“Well, let’s do that tomorrow. Shall we?”

“I guess we’ll do what the rest do. Your uncle will have something good
on, sure.”

“Hope so, I need the exercise,” Bennie laughed, plunging across the
snow-drift toward the tents.

“Bennie’s feeling awful good,” Spider told the rest. “Says he’s not
getting exercise enough.”

“The wood-pile is rather low,” the doctor remarked quietly.

Bennie saluted. “Yes, sir, thank you, sir!” he said, and picked up his
ax.



                              CHAPTER XII
    Bennie Climbs the Mast of the Phantom Ship and Knows He Has Done
                               Something


“Seeing that Bennie is such a glutton for exercise,” said Uncle Billy at
breakfast the next morning, “what do you say we give him some, Stone?”

“We want to keep him well and happy, surely,” Mr. Stone answered,
solemnly.

“Yes, we mustn’t let the little darling pine,” put in Dumplin’.

“Or his mighty muscles get flabby,” added Spider.

“You all think you’re having a great time, don’t you?” Bennie retorted.
“Well, I’m all ready. I guess I’ll keep in the procession as long as the
band plays.”

“All right,” said his uncle. “Let’s get cleared up here, and we’ll beat
it down the trail and row out to the Phantom Ship. Bennie can row us out
and back, and climb the mast between whiles, and then tote your camera,
Stone, up the trail again home. Maybe that will restore his lost
appetite.”

Bennie grinned amiably. “What’s the Phantom Ship?” he demanded.

“You’ll see.”

The boys noted with delight that Uncle Billy was taking his alpine rope.
Lunches and cameras were carried, too. The trail down from the rim was
now cleared of snow all the way, and the descent was quick and easy.
But, at the bottom, they found that so many people had gone down ahead
of them that all the boats were out. They had to wait two hours while
some of the boatmen, who had gone across to the boat-house on Wizard
Island, got the launch in commission over there, and towed back more
boats.

“How did they ever get a launch down here?” asked Bennie.

“Brought it down in pieces and assembled it, I suppose,” Spider said.
“Didn’t they?”

“Must have,” answered the doctor.

When the fresh supply of boats arrived, they pushed off, rowing in the
opposite direction from Wizard Island. Now they passed directly under
the jagged red walls of Eagle Crags, which form the north wall of Mount
Garfield, and tower 2,000 feet above the water. Rounding Eagle Point,
they saw Chaski Bay, invisible from the hotel, with a great snow-drift
hanging over it, and beyond that another 2,000-foot cliff headland, with
a long, steep talus slope of soft stuff leading up to the precipitous
lava.

“What do you see right at the base of that cliff, in the water?” the
doctor asked.

“Nothing,” said the boys. “Just some small rocks at the water’s edge.”

“Some small rocks, eh? Well, row on a bit. Keep in nearer shore,
Bennie.”

Bennie rowed on another half mile, and again they looked at the rocks at
the water’s edge below Dutton Cliff.

“Why,” Spider said, “those rocks are out in the water. They’re an
island.”

“That’s the Phantom Ship. They call it a phantom because it looks like
part of the cliff from a distance. You’ll see pretty soon why they call
it a ship.”

Sure enough, they did see, in a very few moments. For, as the boats drew
nearer, the detached rocks were seen to be much larger than they had
appeared from a distance, where they had to be measured against the
whole 2,000 feet of Dutton Cliff; and not only were they large, but they
were really one solid mass of dark brown lava, much more pointed at the
end which faced the lake, and with three sharp spires of lava, almost as
sharp as an obelisk, sticking up exactly like three masts. To add still
further to the illusion of a ship, they saw, as they drew still nearer,
that the patches of green on the lava were really pine trees, which now
began to look like sails.

“It is just like a ship!” Spider exclaimed. “It’s a ship made of lava, a
three-master, sailing right out from Dutton Cliff!”

“Is it one of those masts we are going to climb?” Bennie suddenly
demanded, a suspicion striking him.

“_You_ are—for the exercise,” said his uncle.

“Yes, I am! Say, I’m pretty good, but I’m no human fly. Gee, I don’t see
even a finger-nail hold on ’em.”

“Don’t get impatient. Look down in the water a minute. Row slowly. Now
let her drift.”

The boys looked down as the boat floated in toward the dark, straight
sides of the Phantom Ship, down into the deep blue water. No bottom was
visible, though the sunlight seemed to penetrate a long way down.

Then, suddenly, there was bottom! The bottom seemed to jump up at them,
when the boat was about a hundred feet away from the ship. They had
floated right on over the rim of a tremendous sunken precipice. Even
here the bottom was apparently fifty feet below surface, yet they could
see it clearly.

“Stop the boat a minute,” Spider said.

Bennie stopped it, and then took his oars out again. Spider, meanwhile,
had taken a nickel from his pocket, and when the ripples had died down,
he laid it carefully overboard, flat on the water. They watched it
wabble and flutter rapidly down, but fast as it went, it was a long time
reaching bottom, showing the depth. Yet they could see it plainly after
it landed and lay shining on the rocks fifty feet below. Then they
watched a big trout swim by, five or six feet under the surface, and
they could see every detail of his color, his fins—all through water
that was bluer than the sky!

“Now look up at the ship,” said Uncle Billy.

It towered above them now like a real ship, a ship 200 feet long, with
masts 175 feet tall. Here, on the south side, the walls rose in an
almost sheer precipice for many feet, with little clumps of bright
flowers growing in the cracks and on the tiny ledges, which Spider
instantly coveted for his collection of specimens that was going to help
him get a merit badge in botany.

There was one place, however, near the bowsprit, where you could make a
landing, and Mr. Stone was already getting out there and setting up his
camera. As soon as it was up, he asked the two boats to row around
behind the island, and then come into sight again, passing slowly under
the side of the ship, so he could show both the boats and the lava
cliff. After that he got Spider ashore, and took a movie of him
crawling, wherever he could get a finger or toe hold, twenty feet up the
ship’s side and picking a large clump of pentstemon from a crevice.

“Don’t you want to take me and Dumplin’ diving off into the water?”
Bennie called.

“Sure, if you’ll do it,” Mr. Stone laughed. “Put your arm down as far in
as you can get it first.”

Bennie pushed up his sleeve and did so. He pulled his arm out again
quickly.

“Thanks, not today,” he said.

“The temperature when you get a ways below the surface remains at 39°
winter and summer, the scientists have found,” the doctor smiled.

“It doesn’t feel more’n 29° on top,” said Bennie.

When the pictures were taken, they went around to the north side of the
island, where the sides were not so steep, and taking the alpine rope,
they all landed and scrambled up into the high saddle between the rear
and the central mast—“the deck, this ought to be called,” they said.

When they got up in here, they found it was possible to climb still
higher up the tallest mast (the rear mast), till they reached a sharp,
complete crack which separated it into two parts. This crack had not
been visible from the water.

“It’s a regular chimney,” Bennie exclaimed. “A chimney open at both
sides. Do we go up that?”

“I don’t,” Dumplin’ answered. “I couldn’t get into it.”

“I don’t,” said his father. “I wouldn’t get into it.”

“It’s about forty feet from here to the top,” said Uncle Billy. “I know
a man who climbed it. It took him an hour and fifteen minutes.”

Bennie wasn’t joking any more. He pulled himself up from the little
platform where they were resting till he stood in the crack, and then he
felt of the walls of smooth lava, and looked up for hand and foot holds.

“But there aren’t any holds,” he said. “Hanged if I see how _anybody_
can climb up here.”

“Oh, you’ll find a few holds, if I remember right, places where you can
get a sort of apology for a rest,” his uncle said, casually.

“Say, are you joshing me or not? Did somebody really climb up here?”

For answer his uncle stepped into the chimney with him.

“This is the way,” he said.

He braced his back against one side of the crack by pressing hard with
his hands against the other side. Then he raised both his feet free of
the ground, while he held himself wedged by sheer muscle, and set his
feet against the wall a little way up. Then he pressed so hard with his
legs that they wedged him in, and raised his hands, hunching up his
shoulders a few inches at the same time. Again bracing with his arms and
shoulders, he got his feet up a few more inches. Then his hands and
shoulders again. Progressing in this way, almost crawling, in fact, he
was before long so far up in the chimney that Bennie could walk under
him. Then, almost as slowly as he went up, he came down.

“You see, it can be done,” he said. “I don’t say it isn’t hard work. But
you wanted exercise.”

“Give me the rope!” said Bennie, shortly.

“What’s the idea of the rope?” asked Lester.

“So the rest of you can get up,” Bennie answered.

He tied the rope under his arms, while his uncle held the coil, to play
it out. Then he tried his shoes on the wall to see if the nails held,
and found they would hold in the lava, where they slipped on granite or
other hard rock, and began to work his way up. He worked in silence.
Spider and Lester shouted joshing advice at him, advising him to use his
teeth, to sit down a while where he was and take a rest, and anything
else they could think of, but he was wasting no breath on replies. In
fact, he needed all the breath, all the strength and all the attention
he had to keep on going. A dozen times he thought he would have to give
it up. Once he thought his strength was going to fail him and he would
fall. That was when he was about twenty feet from the bottom. But each
time he grit his teeth and either seemed to get a kind of second wind,
or else found just the faintest hint of a foothold, or a handhold, so he
could relieve for a moment the awful tension on his arms and back.

Toward the top, he was literally moving inch by inch, his strength was
so far gone. He was just able to get his hands over the rim at last,
take a good grip, and hold himself there while his strength came back
enough to enable him to pull himself up over the top, and get his weight
on to his stomach, where he hung for a full minute, with his legs
dangling back into the crack.

Finally he pulled them up, too, and found himself on a tiny little
space, hardly large enough to sit on, with the rocks and the lake 175
feet below him. It was like sitting on top of a church spire. Trembling
with muscular exhaustion as he was, he didn’t care to sit there long. In
fact, he took one good look down, had a feeling as if his stomach turned
a flipflop, drew up half of the rope and turned it around the top of the
spire, and then grasping both strands of the doubled rope, came sliding
down the chimney.

His uncle gave him a pat on the shoulder.

“Good work,” was all he said, but Bennie knew then that he had really
done something.

“Why didn’t you wait for us?” Spider demanded.

“Isn’t room on top for more’n one at a time,” Bennie replied. “Go on up
and see what it’s like. Keep hold of both strands of the rope, though.
How long did it take me?”

“About an hour and twenty minutes,” said Mr. Stone.

“Is that all?” said Bennie. “I felt as if it was day after tomorrow
before I got there.”

And he sat down wearily.

Meanwhile Spider was hauling himself up on the doubled rope. He didn’t
stay up much longer than Bennie, though.

“Kind o’ ticklish up here,” he called back. “Glad the wind doesn’t
blow.”

Then he slid down. Nobody else wanted to go up, so the rope was pulled
down, and the party descended to the boats again, to eat luncheon, which
had been long delayed. Afterwards, they fished for an hour, and got
enough trout for a meal.

“Want to row us home, Bennie?” his uncle asked.

“Spider hasn’t had a chance to row all day,” Bennie answered.

The mile of zigzag trail up from the lake to the rim seemed endless to
Bennie that evening, and when the rest went over to the hotel after
dinner to hear the music and watch the dancing, he felt like refusing.
But he didn’t. He went, too, rubbing his eyes to keep them open.

“I guess you’ll sleep tonight, eh?” Uncle Billy said, when they finally
got back to camp.

“I’m going to sleep so hard I’ll puncture the mattress,” Bennie
answered.



                              CHAPTER XIII
The Scouts Are Driven Ashore by a Storm and Have To Climb Llao Rock—and
                          They Learn a Lesson


The next morning the doctor and Spider woke up before Bennie did, and
they let him sleep till breakfast was almost ready. When he did get up,
he stretched himself and discovered that his muscles were a bit stiff,
but otherwise he felt, he said, “like a fighting cock.”

“Well, don’t feel so good you eat up all the pancakes before I get one!”
Dumplin’ laughed, snatching for the plate.

“I guess what I need to take the kinks out of my back is exercise,”
Bennie remarked, with a grin.

“We’d better get hold of Jack Dempsey, and let Bennie box with him every
day,” Mr. Stone put in.

“Aw, I wouldn’t want to hurt him,” Bennie answered. “What we going to do
today, Uncle Bill?”

“We’ll have to think it over,” his uncle replied.

But before anything was decided, a bell-boy came from the hotel with the
news that someone had been taken sick there, and asking the doctor to
come right over. It turned out that a man who had arrived the night
before had eaten something on the road that poisoned him, and he was so
sick that the doctor didn’t dare go far from camp that day. Mr. Stone
wanted to stay near camp also, to make motion pictures of parties
climbing up and down the rim, and he needed Lester to help him. So
Bennie and Spider asked if they might go down to the water, get a boat,
and row across the lake, taking their lunch with them.

“I don’t know,” the doctor said, frowning. “You can both swim, and you
know how to row, but that lake can get pretty rough, and if you’re
forced to land, there’s no way of getting back till somebody can come
after you.”

“Oh, but look at the old lake! It’s calm as a mirror,” Bennie pleaded,
“and there’s not a cloud in the sky.”

“We want to see what Llao Rock looks like when you’re right under it,”
Spider added. “We’ll be awful careful.”

“Will you promise to keep fairly near shore, and if the water gets rough
to beat it for home?” the doctor asked.

“Sure we will.”

“Well, I oughtn’t to let you go. I’m responsible to your parents for you
chaps. But, after all, you’re big enough to take care of yourselves. All
right, but be back at the landing before the sun gets off the middle of
the lake. Promise me that?”

The boys promised, and set off down the trail in high spirits, some
sandwiches, hastily made, and some sweet chocolate in their pockets for
lunch. There were a dozen or more other parties starting down the trail,
too, or getting ready to start, so the scouts made the descent in record
time, in order to be sure of getting a boat.

Once out on the water, they decided it would be too much of a pull to
try to circle the entire lake, under the cliffs—a matter of about twenty
miles or more. But they could pull straight for the grotto on the east
side of the lake, beyond the Phantom Ship, a matter of five miles, then
cut across to Llao Rock, about four and a half miles, and then four
miles home.

“Sure we can row that,” said Bennie. “That’s only thirteen and a half
miles. Call it thirteen, ’cause we won’t land, probably, at Llao.”

“Sure,” answered Spider. “Easy.”

Well, it was easy to the grotto, which they finally found by rowing
along the edge of the cliffs. The grotto is simply a shallow cave, only
a few feet up from the water, but once you are in it you look out on the
blue lake, through the opening, as if you were looking through a big
window. The boys ate their lunch in here, and then started directly
across for Llao Rock.

But the very first thing that they noticed was that the wind had come
up, blowing directly against them, and with the wind a chop of water,
which went slap, slap, slap under their bow. They pulled hard, and made
slow progress.

About half-way across, Bennie, who was rowing, said, “You pull a while,
Spider. I’m through for a bit.”

Spider took the oars and tugged. The wind and waves were certainly
rising. They were slapping the how hard now, and swinging around so that
the rower was half the time tugging at one oar or the other to keep his
course.

“You know what your uncle said,” Spider panted. “Strikes me we’re a long
way from shore, and this old lake is kicking up a sea. I think we better
turn with the wind, and beat it back to the other shore, and then make
for home.”

“We got to make for home, all right,” Bennie answered, his face getting
white as he looked first at the waves and then up at what were
unmistakably gathering clouds over the rim. “But if we go back to that
east shore we get the full force of the sea, ’cause the wind is west. If
we get in under the west side, we’ll be out of the wind, in shelter.
Then we can run for home that way.”

“There’s something in that,” Spider assented. “If we can get there.”

“We _got_ to get there,” Bennie cried. “Look at that old black cloud up
there.”

Spider took one look, and began to pull for all he was worth.

It was dangerous business changing places in that sea, but finally he
had to give up to Bennie again.

“Look out for those oars!” Bennie shouted. “We’d be goners if we lost
one of them. We got to make shore, and wait till this is over. Oh gee!”

This last exclamation was caused by a wave that hit the boat almost
broadside, drenching both boys to the knees and putting an inch of water
on the bottom.

Bennie got hold of the oars, headed the boat into the sea again, and
Spider began to bail with his cap. Wave after wave now hit their bow,
and came spraying over, soaking them. There were whitecaps all around.
The sun had disappeared behind the dark cloud, and the wind seemed
rising steadily. Bennie pulled with every ounce of strength he had, and
Spider bailed madly. Slowly, very slowly, almost as if they were
standing still, Llao Rock drew near. They had to make the dangerous
change once more, when Bennie’s strength gave out, and once more the
boat swung broadside, and shipped a dangerous quantity of water.

“If she’ll only stay afloat till we make the shore!” Bennie cried. “Gee,
it don’t seem to be a bit calmer over here.”

“If it is, I’m glad we ain’t out there,” Spider panted as he tugged at
the oars.

In spite of all he could do, with only his cap to bail with, the boat
was perilously full of water before the great lava precipices of Llao
Rock finally towered right above them, and they saw and heard the waves
on the stony shore.

“How are we going to land without smashing the boat?” Spider puffed.

“Hang the boat! How are we going to land without smashing our heads?”
Bennie answered. “Hold her right inshore, and when I see a place pull
for all you’ve got left!”

“Pull!” he yelled a moment later.

Spider drove the boat in. A wave caught it and threw it forward, but the
bow drove between two lava fragments which rested half in water, half on
shore, and while Bennie grabbed one oar and pushed at the stern, Spider
jumped from the bow with the painter in his hand. He landed on a stone
at the water’s edge, slipped back above his waist, scrambled out
dripping wet, hauled on the painter, and got the bow in close. Bennie
got out, and between them they hauled the boat up where the waves
couldn’t knock it free, and tipped her over to let the water run out.

Then they both sat down and panted.

“Well, I’d rather be here than out there,” Bennie finally said.

“I don’t mind saying I didn’t know whether we’d ever get here,” Spider
answered. “I guess that was a close call, all right. Gee, but my arms
ache!”

“Mine don’t—they haven’t any feeling left in ’em,” said Bennie. “Well,
what are we going to do now? We can’t stay here all night and freeze to
death.”

“I sure am wet and cold,” Spider answered. “And you can’t make a fire
out of lava and pumice. Funny thing, not a drop of rain has fallen.
Look, there’s the sun again over on the top of Scott.”

“No more sun here, though,” Bennie said, looking up the 800 foot sharp
slope of pumice above them, that ended at the 1,200 foot absolutely
precipitous and terrifying leap of Llao Rock. “We’re under the shadow of
that old rock.”

“Well, we’ll just have to hop round and keep as warm as we can, till the
old lake quiets down and we can row home.”

“She don’t show any signs of quieting down,” said Bennie. “Hear the old
wind. ’Sides, it’ll take a long while for those waves to quit. And I
don’t want to go out on that water again! Gee, I couldn’t row a hundred
feet.”

“We could if we had to,” said Spider, bravely. “Anyhow, probably your
uncle will send the launch out after us.”

“They don’t know where we are, and we can’t make a fire to signal.”

“They’ll have field-glasses,” Spider suggested. “We can wave our
handkerchiefs.”

“’Sides,” Bennie went on, “maybe the launch is out, too, and it’ll be
dark before they can get here, and maybe they won’t come across in this
sea. I’ll be frozen stiff by that time. I move we climb up to the rim
road and walk home. It’s only eight miles from Llao Rock to camp,
according to the map.”

“Climb up!” exclaimed Spider, looking aloft at the terrific precipice.
“This has gone to your head, Bennie.”

“You poor fish, we wouldn’t climb the rock itself,” Bennie answered.
“Don’t you remember, Uncle Billy said somebody worked up to the base,
and then along on top of the pumice slope to the rim? If somebody else
did it, we can do it. If we see the launch coming after we get up a ways
we can come down. Anyhow, it’s better’n freezing to death here. It’ll
keep us warm.”

“Looks to me like an awful job,” Spider objected.

“Well, you can stay here then, _I’m_ going,” Bennie declared. His voice
was shrill, and Spider realized that he wasn’t quite himself. Besides,
he was shivering with cold. Spider was shivering, too, here in the
gloomy shadow of Llao Rock, with the wind beating upon them.

“All right,” he decided, “if you go, I go. Come on. We got to hit the
rim road before dark. But take it easy, Bennie, for Pete’s sake. We got
to save our strength, and this old stuff’s awful treacherous, too. Test
your footing.”

“I’ll test my footing, all right,” Bennie answered, starting up the
long, steep incline of powdered pumice and loose conglomerate, out of
which here and there thrust up jagged lumps and spikes and little cliffs
of harder lava.

It was hard work, all the harder because they were so wet and tired. And
they soon found it was dangerous work. Drive your foot down into the
soft stuff too hard to get a brace, and you start a little landslide
right under your own feet. That releases a lot of stuff above you, which
starts down, too, and it is only too easy to get carried down with the
rush. The boys found this out, fortunately, before they had climbed very
far, so that they didn’t slide far enough to hurt them. After that, they
climbed side by side, ten feet apart, instead of one behind the other,
and zigzagged across the slopes, instead of going directly up.

It seemed ages before they reached the top of the loose stuff, at the
very base of the mighty precipice. From here they could see the whole
lake, and scanned the water for any sign of the launch, but no launch
was to be seen. So they kept on.

Their troubles, which they thought would be over when they reached the
base of the cliff, were not over. They still had a long, soft slope to
climb at the foot of the lava, which was impeded by huge broken
fragments fallen from the cliff above. Often they couldn’t go around
these, because if they did they got too near the edge of the slope, and
were in danger of starting down on a landslide. They had to work over
them. However, they toiled on, getting warm, at least, with the
exertion, until they reached the long and almost level stretch that led
rapidly to the rim.

Here, for the first time in ten minutes, Bennie spoke. “We’re going to
make it!” he cried.

“And we’re going to make it before dark!” Spider answered.

They hurried on now, with renewed courage, and gained the rim at last,
coming up out of the cold shadows into the sharp mountain gale and the
last low rays of sunset.

Both boys flopped for a minute on the dry pumice back from the rim, and
lay there getting back some of their strength.

Spider was the first up. “Come,” he said, “we got to find the rim road
before it’s dark.”

“Eight miles!” Bennie sighed. “Oh, you automobile!”

“Come on—no use crying for automobiles. We got to find that road and
hoof it. We can’t stay out all night in these wet clothes, without any
blankets.”

Bennie got up wearily. “All right. The old road’ll be pretty close. All
we got to do is walk down the back slope, away from the rim.”

“But it’s all snow,” said Spider. “How’ll we know the road when we see
it?”

“If we can’t tell a road when we come to it, snow or no snow, we’re bum
scouts and deserve to stay here and freeze to death,” Bennie retorted.

As a matter of fact, in spite of the snow, they did find the road, by
catching at a distance a cut through trees, and then by picking up a
long open space bare of snow, which the road crossed, showing plainly.
Once on it, the chance of missing it again was not great unless the
night got very dark. With bright starlight, even without a moon, the
tired scouts, as they plodded along, now for brief welcome stretches on
the bare ground, but mostly on the soft drifts where every step was an
effort, reckoned they could keep the trail.

“Besides,” Bennie said, “if we lost it, we could always sort of follow
the rim.”

“Yes, and have to climb up over the top of the Watchman and Glacier
Peak. No, thanks. I’ve climbed enough today. It’ll be in woods a lot of
the way, and we can always feel the opening. You know how we can follow
a wood road at home in the dark.”

“Oh, you home!” sighed Bennie. “Think of bacon, and coffee, and baked
potatoes! Oh, boy, I’m going to cry in a minute, I’m so empty.”

“Take up a hole in your belt, like the Indians,” Spider suggested.

It was getting dark now rapidly, and they were plodding wearily across a
long opening on the heavy snow, which was like walking on a pile of rock
salt, and wondering where the road was on the other side, when suddenly
Spider stopped.

“Look!” he cried.

“What is it? I don’t see anything.”

“Look, in the trees. I saw a light!”

“How do you get that way?” Bennie demanded. “Light! We’re about six
miles from nowhere here. Haven’t any campers been around the rim road.
Can’t get around. Buck up, Spider. Don’t cave now!”

“Oh, quit,” said Spider crossly. “There! There it is again!”

This time Bennie saw it. There _was_ a light in the woods ahead of them.
Moreover, it wasn’t a camp fire. It was moving.

“Somebody with a lantern!” Bennie exclaimed. He stuck two fingers into
his mouth and blew a long, shrill blast.

The answer was a “Hoo-oo!” in Uncle Billy’s voice!

“How’d they know we were here?” said Bennie, as they both shouted back,
and stumbled on more rapidly toward the light.

A moment later they were beside Uncle Billy and Mr. Stone, and out of
his pack Uncle Billy was taking a thermos bottle of hot tea, and the
boys were drinking it. Around his shoulder, they saw, the doctor had his
alpine rope.

“I guess that doesn’t go to the spot!” Bennie exclaimed.

“Never knew tea was so good,” said Spider.

And now followed rapid questions and answers, as the tramp to camp was
resumed. No trouble about finding the road now! They had a lantern, and
the back tracks of Uncle Billy and Mr. Stone.

“How’d you know where we were?” the boys demanded.

“Watched you with a glass,” said the doctor. “I saw the lake getting
rough, after you started across, and I saw that cloud coming. Stone went
down the trail to send the launch for you, but the launch was out with a
party. Finally it got in under the lee of Wizard Island, and everybody
tried to signal it to come across, but it didn’t come, and finally
somebody rowed over from it and reported the engine had gone dead and
they couldn’t start it. They’re bringing the passengers back now, when
the lake’s got quieter.

“By that time, we’d seen you land at Llao Rock, so we planned to row
over and get you just as soon as we could, if they didn’t get the launch
started up. But then you began to climb.”

The doctor paused.

“Well,” he finally went on, “I had a bad five minutes then, I can tell
you. But there was nothing to do about it, so we watched to make sure
you were really going to try to make the rim, and then we beat it over
here. You made better time up than I thought you could. We expected to
get to the rock before you got up. I brought the rope to—to help you.”

“Why did you keep on into the wind?” Mr. Stone asked. “Why didn’t you
turn back and run with it to the east shore where you came from?”

The boys explained how they thought they were going to get out of the
wind under the protection of Llao Rock.

“There’s no protection on that lake in a storm,” the doctor said.
“Fortunately, there aren’t many storms. I told you to keep near shore,
though, and you crossed right over. Well, never mind that now. Guess
you’ve had your lesson.”

“Guess we have,” said Bennie, as he stumbled wearily along, hardly able
to drag one foot after the other. “But we thought we were pretty near
the north shore when we crossed. Only to get there, we’d have to go
broadside, and besides, it was taking us away from camp.”

“Still,” said his uncle, quietly, “you didn’t quite live up to your
promise, did you?”

“No, sir,” Bennie admitted. “It won’t happen again, Uncle Billy.”

The six miles back to camp turned out to be seven. It seemed to the boys
that they would never get there. But at last they did. Dumplin’ had a
roaring fire going, both in the stove and the camp fire ring of stones.
Coffee was ready to boil, and bacon to fry. He had eggs, too, bought
from the hotel.

The scouts fell into their tent and ripped off their clothes, getting a
rub-down before putting on dry ones. By the time they were ready, their
dinner was cooked, and they came out to the table, dragging their feet
wearily, and slumped down on the camp chairs.

“Good old Dumplin’!” said Bennie, as he waded into the food, “I never
loved you so much as I do at this minute.”

“P’r’aps you’d like to kiss him,” Spider suggested, also cheering up as
he felt the warmth of the food.

“No, I’m not strong enough yet to do that,” Bennie laughed.

“You never will be!” Dumplin’ retorted, filling his plate again.

After their supper the boys hung their wet clothes by the camp fire, and
huddled by it themselves for a while, but Uncle Billy soon ordered them
to bed, and they didn’t need to be told twice.

The doctor came into the tent after they had crawled into the grateful,
warm blankets on the comfortable air cushions of their sleeping bags.

“All right?” he asked.

“Uncle Bill,” said Bennie, “it was my fault we crossed the lake. Spider
didn’t have a thing to do with planning the trip.”

“No, we were both to blame,” put in Spider. “We knew we couldn’t row all
around the lake, and we wanted to see the grotto and Llao Rock both, so
we cut across. I—I guess we didn’t really think.”

“We won’t say anything more about it,” the doctor answered. “It’s come
out all right. But maybe next time you’ll believe that I know more about
this country than you do, and when I ask for a promise, it isn’t just an
old maid’s fancy.”

“Yes, sir,” they both answered.

When he had gone out, Spider whispered across the tent, “He’s a peach,
your uncle. Gee, he didn’t bawl us out a bit.”

“Made me more ashamed than if he had,” Bennie replied.

“Me, too.”

“I guess we gave him a bad time of it, worrying about us. I guess we
deserved to get ours.”

“Well, we got it, all right.”

“Kid, you’ve enunciated a history full!” Bennie answered. “We’re bum
scouts. Never again.”

“Never again,” echoed Spider.

They were sound asleep when Uncle Billy returned from a last call on his
patient at the hotel and went to bed.



                              CHAPTER XIV
Bennie Takes a Day Off to Do a Good Turn—He Washes All the Dirty Clothes


The next day neither of the scouts felt much like strenuous exertion.
Their arms ached from pulling the boat, and they both had blisters on
their hands, and the excitement had left them rather tired.

Mr. Stone looked at them while they were eating breakfast.

“Well, Bennie,” he said, “what are you and Spider going to do today? I
can’t seem to think of anything left around here that will give you as
much exercise as you want. Of course, you haven’t yet run all the way
down the trail and run all the way back again. You might try that. Or
you might row to Llao Rock and tow your other boat home, before the
launch has to go for it.”

“Naw, that’s too easy,” Bennie grinned. “I kind of thought we might hike
around the rim road. How far is it—forty miles? We’d be back in time for
dinner.”

“A good idea!” Uncle Billy exclaimed.

“What’s a good idea?” asked Bennie, beginning to be sorry he’d made the
joke.

“A hike,” said the doctor.

Spider and Bennie groaned.

“Not today!” the doctor laughed. “Tomorrow, maybe. We haven’t had a real
hike yet, and I heard you talking the other day, didn’t I, Bennie, about
wanting to work for a merit badge in hiking?”

“Where’ll we hike to—how far?” put in Dumplin’. “Look at those two
lovely automobiles, just doing nothing. Don’t seem right to me to let
’em loaf so.”

“Well, you can stay back in camp, and have the wood all cut and the
dinner cooked for us when we get back,” said his father.

“Yes, I will!” Dumplin’ retorted. “I may be fat——”

“It’s just possible,” put in Bennie.

“I may be fat, but I can keep goin’ as long as any of you, I guess!”

“You may not be so fat when we get back,” Uncle Billy went on. “I think
it would be a great idea to give Bennie some regular exercise, about
tomorrow, also the day after, and the day after that. We’ll hike over to
the base of Mount Scott, because that’s the highest point around here,
packing our blankets and grub. Then the second day we’ll climb Scott,
and the third day we’ll hike back again.”

“Ho, that’s no hike at all, if you take three days for it!” Bennie said.
“I been looking on the map. It’s less ’n ten miles from here to the top
of the mountain, and the top is only 8,938 feet high, so it’s only a
2,000-foot climb.”

“How much better you know this country than I do,” said his uncle,
quietly, “and how skilfully you can read the contour intervals on a map.
Well, you may go over and back the same day, if you want to. The rest of
us will take three, however.”

Bennie turned red. “I—I guess I’m a dumb-bell,” he stammered.

“It’s just possible,” Dumplin’ put in, while the rest shouted with mirth
at the hit.

Spider, meanwhile, had gone to his pack and got out the government
topographical survey map of Crater Lake Park.

“Do we go along the rim?” he asked.

“More or less. We’ll have to climb part way up Garfield, and then find a
way down on the other side, and work along back of Dutton Cliff to Kerr
Valley.”

Spider was studying the contour interval lines of the map closely now.

“Let’s see, we go up at least 500 feet for a start, and then we go along
a mile or two, and then we—holy mackerel!—then we drop right down ’most
a thousand! And then——”

“Yes?” said Bennie.

“And then we go up again ’most a thousand, and then we walk a mile, and
then—jumping bullfrogs and little fish hooks!—then we just fall down,
let’s see, about a thousand feet into Kerr Valley. That’s less than
6,500 feet above the sea. Scott is almost 9,000. We’ve still got a climb
of 2,500 feet ahead of us.”

“Aw, go on, you’re making that up,” Bennie insisted. “You can’t tell all
that from the map. Let me look.”

“Maybe _you_ can’t tell,” Spider retorted. “I always told you you didn’t
half read a map. Go on—look for yourself.”

And he passed the map over.

Bennie studied it carefully. “I guess maybe you’re right,” he finally
confessed. “Well, exercise is just what I need! How’s the path, Uncle
Bill?”

“Path!” the doctor laughed. “You’ll cross the rim road at the bottom of
Kerr Valley, where it comes down from the rim to get around the cliffs
back to the hotel here. But that’s the only path you’ll see. This is
going to be a hike, not a Sunday School picnic or a young ladies’
seminary out for a walk.”

“Suits me fine.”

“Good!” said his uncle. “I advise you to rest up for it today, though.”

“I know what I’m going to do today, all right. Anybody got any dirty
clothes?”

“I haven’t got much else,” said Dumplin’.

“Fine. Bring ’em out, all of you. Mrs. Murphy’s on the job this morning.
I’m going to wash things up.”

“Want me to help?” Dumplin’ asked.

“No, you go off with Spider and collect pretty little flowers. Don’t let
’em bite you, though. They’re wild flowers, remember.”

Everybody groaned at this pun.

“Mrs. Noah threw a belaying pin at her husband for making that one on
the ark,” said Uncle Billy.

“What’s the difference,” Bennie began, “between Noah’s ark and Joan of
Arc?”

But everybody dove, with another groan, into the tents, to get their
dirty clothes.

When everybody but Bennie had gone from camp, he heated a big pail of
water, got out a cake of soap, and washed all the dirty clothes, hanging
them on a tent rope in the sun to dry. Then he picked up camp as neat as
he could, aired all the bedding and remade the sleeping bags, and
finally went off and hunted up dead branches for fuel, dragging them
back to camp. After lunch, while the rest were loafing, he took the
fishing rod and sneaked away unseen, went rapidly down the trail, and
working around on the rocks by the shore, managed to hook three trout.
He was just coming up over the rim with them when Spider and Lester,
wondering at his long absence, had started out to look for him.

“I sure hate a man who pins roses on himself,” Bennie remarked, as he
was cleaning the fish for dinner, “but I just can’t help admitting that
I’ve been mamma’s little white-haired boy today. I’ve washed all your
dirty shirts and socks, and I’ve got wood, and I’ve cleaned up camp, and
now I’ve dragged my poor old aching bones down a thousand feet and back
again to catch you three sweet little fishie-wishies for supper. Won’t
somebody please say ‘Thank you, Bennie, you are a good boy’?”

“Bennie doesn’t like himself a bit, does he?” remarked Dumplin’,
addressing a camp robber in a tree overhead.

“Can’t you prescribe something for his poor old aching bones, Doc?”
asked Mr. Stone.

“Try rubbing ’em with a little fish oil, Bennie,” Spider put in.

“I think I shall prescribe exercise,” Uncle Billy laughed.

“Well, of all the ungrateful bunches, you sure get the loving cup!”
Bennie exclaimed. “I hope you all choke on a fish bone.”

“The Bible says virtue is its own reward, Bennie,” remarked Mr. Stone.

“Pretty skinny pickings for some of you guys, then,” Bennie grinned.

But after supper Uncle Billy strolled out with Bennie to the point of
Victory Rock, to see the lake like a great blue mirror in the twilight,
and he said, quietly:

“We were all much obliged to you for what you did today. Never mind the
joshing.”

Bennie laughed. “Ho! I didn’t mind. Can’t get my goat so easy as that!
Besides, the old Bible is right, I guess. You don’t do a good turn
because you’re going to be thanked for it. You do it ’cause it makes you
feel better inside.”

“That’s the idea, exactly,” Uncle Billy answered. “Bennie, you’re a good
scout. Your heart is just where it ought to be every time. The only
trouble with you is that you haven’t quite got your head working yet. If
you are going to amount to anything as a mountaineer or
explorer—anywhere in the wilderness—you’ve got to learn to use your
head, and never bite off more than you can chew. Will you try to
remember that?”

“I sure will, Uncle Bill,” Bennie answered. “I’m awful fresh, I guess,
and I talk a lot, but I’m learning right now, every day. You just sit on
me hard when I need it.”

“You needn’t worry about my doing _that_,” the doctor grinned.

“No, you’re some sitter,” said Bennie.



                               CHAPTER XV
  The Long Hike—The Scouts Find Packing Grub and Blanket Rolls Up and
                        Down Cliffs is Hard Work


Bright and early the next morning preparations for the hike began. This
was to be no ordinary jaunt. They were going out for three days and two
nights into a wilderness, where they would have to make long, severe
climbs up and down treacherous lava ledges; where they would have to
sleep out in the open, tentless, in a climate where water freezes at
night; where they couldn’t get a mouthful of food except what they could
carry with them.

“You see, boys,” said the doctor, “it’s going to be quite a problem how
to take along enough stuff to keep us warm, and keep us fed, and yet be
able to travel with it on our backs.”

Each member of the party put in his shoulder pack his own food ration,
consisting of tea (because it is lighter than coffee), some bacon,
powdered egg, a little dehydrated vegetables, a small bag of flour, a
small bag of sugar, a package of bouillon cubes, a can of preserved
fruit, a small can of condensed milk, two pounds of raisins, two boiled
potatoes, and several cakes of sweet chocolate. In addition, each person
put in two extra pairs of wool socks, and a set of underclothes. Then,
out of their sleeping bags, they each took a double blanket, and made a
blanket roll, fastening the ends with straps from the motors. Bennie and
Spider each had a boy scout individual cook-kit, in a khaki case with a
shoulder strap. These two kits, with a tin cup and plate and spoon for
the others, and one, larger frying-pan and kettle carried by Uncle
Billy, was all the cooking outfit they carried. However, the doctor made
everybody carry a canteen, and Bennie, Spider and Mr. Stone each carried
a camera. Everybody had a sweater, also, and two belt axes were taken.
The doctor had his rope.

When the shoulder packs were on, and the blanket rolls, and the
canteens, and the cameras and camp kits, everybody was glad enough of
the alpenstocks which the doctor handed around.

“Say, I need this stock to help me stand up,” said Dumplin’. “I feel
like a walking department store.”

“I’ll bet we aren’t toting any more than a soldier has to carry on a
march, at that,” said Spider. “Are we, doctor?”

“No, I don’t believe we’re packing so much,” Uncle Billy answered. “A
gun’s heavier than a stock, too. But it’s enough. Going to be hot
today.”

As the little procession filed past the hotel (which by now was full of
tourists), a crowd came out to watch them go past.

“Going on a hike, boys?” somebody called out.

“No,” Bennie answered, “we’re going over to Wizard Island to play
tennis.”

“Wonder what makes people ask foolish questions?” Dumplin’ mused.

“It’s the——” Bennie began. Then he caught himself. “Ha! thought you had
me, didn’t you?—it’s the altitude!”

“You chaps won’t talk so much at three o’clock,” remarked Mr. Stone.

For the first half mile, they had a trail, the trail they had already
taken up Garfield Peak. But half-way up, they left the trail, and struck
right out, without any path at all, around the tumbled crags of broken
lava, and over the snow-fields and patches of soft pumice soil that
crown this part of the rim on the southeastern side of the lake. The
going was very slow and difficult, up hill and down, in and out among
the rises and dips, with the sun beating down upon them till their packs
and hot blankets seemed almost unbearable. At first, they could see the
blue lake almost 2,000 feet below them, while they worked along the
crest of Eagle Crags, but after a while they had to drop down behind the
rim to avoid a climb up Dyar Rock, and lost all sight of it.

After about two miles, they came out on the crest of a slope that led
down to Sun Creek, and saw the Sun meadows below them. They would have
rejoiced at this sight if they hadn’t also seen the wall of the deep
ravine rising up on the other side, steeper and higher than under their
feet.

“Oh, for the wings of a dove!” sighed Dumplin’.

“Lot o’ good a dove’s wings would do _you_,” said Bennie. “Take a
dirigible to lift you.”

“A bridge across would do me,” said Spider.

“Meanwhile, we’ll get a little exercise crossing on our own feet,” Uncle
Billy smiled. “Come on, now, and watch your step. Sound your footing
with your alpenstocks, and keep out of line, so if anybody starts a
slide, it won’t spill all the rest.”

They made the descent slowly and painfully over the first steep pitches,
and then more rapidly till they sank at last on the ground by the water
of Sun Creek, which came down from a snow-bank up on the rim at the head
of the ravine, threw off packs and blankets, and plunged their mouths
in.

“Do we lunch here? I’m hungry——” from Dumplin’.

“We do,” the doctor answered. “And it’s a brief lunch, too. Everybody
take one handful of raisins, and half a cake of chocolate.”

“Oh, gee, is _that_ all?” cried Dumplin’.

“That’s all. John Muir used to climb for two or three days in the high
Sierras on a pocketful of raisins, and didn’t even carry a blanket. Come
on, get busy.”

Everybody obeyed, and the doctor saw to it that they didn’t take too
many of their raisin supply, either.

“I consider this a Lucullan feast,” remarked Mr. Stone.

“Whatever that is,” said Bennie. “If you mean some banquet, I’m right
along with you. Always did like these seven-course dinners.”

“Anyhow, it won’t take long to wash the dishes,” Spider reflected.

As soon as the raisins and chocolate were eaten, and the canteens
refilled, they picked up their packs and blankets again and put them on.

“Gosh! mine weighs more’n it did,” said Bennie. “Somebody’s put
something into it.”

“Mine, too.”

“Mine, too.”

“Mine, too.”

“Wait till they get really heavy before you kick,” said Uncle Billy.
“Forward, march!”

The thousand-foot wall of the Sun Creek ravine which faced them was just
about the height from the lake to the rim at the hotel, but it was not
so steep, except for a little distance at the start. On the other hand,
there was no trail at all, no sign that any other human being had ever
been up it, and when the going was not amid treacherous lava fragments
which broke if you put your weight on them, it was over soft pumice into
which your feet sank deep, and then began to slide backwards. Finally
Bennie took his uncle’s rope and scrambled up ahead with it, till he
could find anchorage, so the rest could have its help. When he was
fagged, somebody else took a turn. It took them more than an hour to
make the half mile up the wall, and at the top they pitched off their
packs and blankets, their shoulders and backs dripping wet with
perspiration, and everybody set his mouth to his canteen and drank.

After a rest, they crossed Dutton ridge, a mile of broken going, and
then began to descend into the next ravine, called Kerr Valley, which is
the deepest ravine on the slopes of old Mount Mazama, and lies right at
the foot of Scott Peak. The descent was not dangerously steep till the
last three hundred feet, and there they used the rope again to help
them.

As they came out at last into the mile wide ravine of Kerr Valley, out
of which the snow had pretty well melted except under the trees, and in
which the wild flowers were springing up, they saw where the rim road
came down from the rim and descended the valley to get around the mass
of ledges and ravines they had been crossing. It was now three o’clock,
and, as Mr. Stone had predicted, nobody was saying much.

They could see the round, dome-like pile of Scott’s Peak, directly
across the valley, and Bennie did ask how far it was from there to the
top.

“Thinking of keeping on up today?” his uncle asked.

“Aw, don’t rub it in,” said Bennie. “I couldn’t climb an ant-hill now.”

“Well, a mile more will take us across the valley to water,” his uncle
laughed. “Guess we can all stick that out.”

On the other side of the valley, across the still deserted and useless
rim road, they found a stream, called Sand Creek, which came down, the
doctor said, from a spring on the cliffs of Scott, just above them.

Here they dumped their packs again, stripped off their clothes, and the
three boys were only restrained by main force from falling in.

“You’re too hot to go in that ice water,” the doctor said, grabbing
Bennie. “Wash your feet all you want to, and splash yourselves.”

After the wash, they put on their dry underclothes, and spread the other
set in the sun (which was fast dropping down the west), and then set
about making camp.

“I say we find a straight-faced rock to build the fire against,” Bennie
suggested, “so it will throw the heat all one way, and we can sleep
around it in a half circle, out of the wind.”

“I move we find a place where the ground is dry and a snow-drift hasn’t
just melted off it,” added Spider.

“And where it’s nice and soft,” added Dumplin’.

“And where it’s near wood,” added Mr. Stone.

“Maybe you’d like a room with a bath, and have your breakfast brought up
to you,” Uncle Billy laughed. “Well, go to it. Find your rock, Bennie.
Whoever’s got the axes, cut wood, and lots of it.”

A smooth place was finally found in the lee of a block of lava, some
little way from the stream, but near a patch of firs and hemlocks, where
there was plenty of dead wood. Dumplin’ started stoning up a big
fireplace, while the two scouts chopped wood and Mr. Stone brought water
in the big kettle and two little kettles of the camp kits and in the
canteens, and the doctor mixed a pancake batter, and made the bacon and
egg powder ready to cook, and peeled one of the two potatoes in each
pack.

As the sun dropped down behind the high ridge to the west, a chill
almost immediately came into the air. In less than an hour everybody,
who had been so hot all day, was thinking about putting on his sweater.
But the fire burned brightly, the potatoes smelled delicious in the
frying-pan, and as soon as they were done, the smell of bacon and eggs
rose from the same pan. Water for bouillon tablets and tea boiled in the
kettles. The food disappeared down hungry mouths, and every plate was
scraped clean, ready for the pancakes to follow. They had no syrup to
eat on the cakes, but nobody seemed to mind that. After the cakes, they
drew lots to see whose can of fruit should be opened, because the lucky
one would have so much less to carry in his pack. Dumplin’ won, to his
delight. His can was peaches, and how good they tasted—after the can was
finally pried open, with the aid of a scout ax, a stone and a broken
jack-knife blade!

Then the dishes were washed, more wood heaped on the fire, sweaters
donned, and in the gathering darkness, and the utter silence of the
wilderness, the five hikers sat in a close ring before the fire, and
relaxed their weary muscles.

“Well, I’m glad I lugged that grub,” said Bennie. “’Bout three o’clock,
though, I would have dumped the whole pack over the rim for two cents.”

“Me, too,” said Dumplin’. “Gosh, this hiking is hard work! Don’t see
much adventure in it. Here we’ve come about eight or nine miles, and
took us all day, and nothin’ happened.”

“What did you expect to happen?” his father asked. “Expect to meet an
elephant, or have the mountain erupt?”

“Gee, _I_ think it’s a wonderful adventure!” Spider exclaimed. “It’s
been a kind of _battle_. I—I can’t say what I mean, but it was just the
same when Bennie and I were getting up Llao Rock. We were sort of
_fighting_ up. Only instead of fighting another man, who tries to hit
you back, you are fighting just—just—well, just the wilderness.”

“And it’s against you all the time,” said Mr. Stone.

Bennie had grown very thoughtful. “No, it’s _not_ against you all the
time,” he said. “Excuse me for contradicting, Mr. Stone. I don’t mean to
be fresh. But the way I feel is that it’s against you if you don’t know
how to meet it, but if you do know, it is always kind of putting out
things to help you.”

“Such as——?” asked his uncle.

“Well, such as dead wood for a fire, and a chimney to crawl up in, if
you know how, when you strike a precipice, and maybe food to eat. I bet
we could find food in the roots of some of these wild flowers, if we had
to.”

“Give me bacon,” said Dumplin’.

“Gee, Dump, you go to church behind your belt buckle,” said Bennie
scornfully. “But I’m with Spider, though, that a hike like this is a
regular adventure, ’cause it’s a sort of fight all the way, and it’s all
up to you whether you get through or not. Gee, I wish I was an
explorer!”

Uncle Billy smiled. “We may get a little exploring yet, before we get
back to Portland. You never can tell. Well, who’s going to sleep
tonight?”

“I guess we all are.”

“Till the cold wakes us up,” said Mr. Stone.

“And a rock grows up through our shoulder blades,” said Spider.

“Whenever that happens, put some more wood on the fire,” said Uncle
Billy.

Then everybody rolled up in his blanket, feet to the fire, with his pack
for a pillow, and in spite of the bare ground, in place of a nice air
mattress, was soon asleep.



                              CHAPTER XVI
The Climb Up Scott Peak—Bennie Begins Work for a Merit Badge for Hiking


But the night wasn’t very old before everybody had discovered that there
is a big difference between sleeping on an air mattress, inside four or
five blankets in a sleeping bag, under a tent, and sleeping on the bare
ground, in one blanket. Bennie and Spider had slept on the bare ground,
to be sure, many a time on their scout hikes at home, but that was
always in summer, when it was warm. To be sure, it was summer now, but
they were more than 6,000 feet up, on the crest of the Cascades, with
snow all around them.

It seemed to Bennie as if he had been asleep only fifteen minutes, when
he was waked up by cold. He didn’t fully wake up at first, but only just
enough to feel the wind getting down around his neck, and to feel his
whole body stiff and uncomfortable. He yanked the blanket tighter around
him, and tried to go to sleep again. But, instead, he woke up still
more.

At last he was awake enough to prop himself up on one elbow, and look at
the fire. It had burned down to a few glowing embers in the stone pit
against the lava block. Overhead the stars were extremely bright, but
the night itself seemed dark. There wasn’t a sound in the world. Yes!
Hark! Bennie’s ears grew alert in the darkness. Far off he heard a roar,
starting low, then growing louder, then dying away. At first he couldn’t
understand it; then he realized it was a landslide somewhere on a steep
slope, perhaps over on the rim of the lake a mile and a half away. He
listened again, but there was no further sound—only a whisper of wind in
the fir trees close by, and the gentle run of the water in the creek.
Suddenly Bennie realized that he was in the very heart of the
wilderness, that except for his four companions asleep beside him, there
wasn’t a human being within a day’s hike. He also realized that if he
didn’t put some wood on the fire pretty quick, it would be out entirely.

So he crawled out of his blanket as gently as he could, and tried to
make no noise as he put on more fuel. He blew on the coals till the new
wood caught, and then turned his cold back to the flames. As he did so,
he saw Spider’s eyes open in the sudden light. Spider blinked a second,
and then sat up.

“Hello,” he whispered. “You cold?”

“Gosh, I was most frozen,” Bennie whispered back.

“Me, too. Been sleeping on a rock, right in the middle of my hip. Ow,
it’s sore!”

Spider now got up also, and came close to the fire.

When they were warmed up again, they lay down once more, and managed to
doze off. But long before morning, Bennie woke to see first Mr. Stone
and then his uncle putting more wood on the fire. It wasn’t yet
dawn—just the first hint of lightness in the sky—when Bennie finally
woke up so cold and so stiff and uncomfortable from the hard ground,
that further sleep seemed impossible. He was just rousing himself to put
on more wood when he heard Spider stir, and then sit up.

“I’m going to stay up,” he whispered. “Let’s take a trot around to get
warm.”

Spider rose, and after building up the fire and huddling over it a few
minutes, they walked away from camp.

“Let’s go up the valley to the rim,” Spider said. “We can go on the rim
road, and have easy walking. Gee, I’d like to run all the way, and get
up some circulation.”

They set out rapidly, and reached the rim in fifteen minutes. It was
lighter now, and they could see plainly. The lake at this point was only
500 feet below them, for they had come out on the lowest point on the
entire rim. But, even so, they seemed to be looking down into the
clouds. They looked up into clouds, too, whole masses of clouds around
the peak of Scott, of Dutton Cliff, of Garfield. Then the daylight
increased rapidly, the clouds began mysteriously to disappear, holes
came in them showing the blue water—and suddenly Spider grabbed Bennie’s
arm and pointed half-way down the side.

Bennie looked, and saw a small deer—a mule deer, as it is called—coming
rapidly up the steep incline, directly toward them! He could not get
their scent from so far below, and he quite evidently hadn’t seen them.
On he came, bounding easily up the incline, where a man would have
toiled breathlessly.

“Wow! I’d like to be able to go up a mountain like that!” Bennie
exclaimed.

Almost at his first word, they saw the deer’s big ears prick up. He
landed stock still and rigid, and raised his eyes. Then he saw the two
boys above him, and with a single bound, so quick the scouts couldn’t
detect how he made the turn, he was off at right angles, along the
slope. Working upward as he leapt along, he reached the rim three
hundred yards away from them, and disappeared like smoke into a stand of
fir.

“What a shot!” breathed Bennie.

“Aw, you couldn’t have hit him in a year,” Spider laughed.

“Why couldn’t I?”

“First place, you can’t shoot well enough, and second place I’d have
knocked up your gun,” said Spider. “I wouldn’t shoot a deer as long as I
had anything else to eat.”

“He was kind o’ pretty,” Bennie agreed.

“’Tisn’t that so much. But he’s _wild_. He’s part of the wilderness. He
belongs to it. Killing a deer is just as bad as knocking off the top of
a mountain, or spoiling all the forest trees.”

“Maybe you’re right,” Bennie admitted. “But how about going back and
getting grub?”

The sun was up when they reached camp again, and so were the other three
campers.

“’Smatter, boys?” asked Mr. Stone. “Getting an appetite before
breakfast?”

“So cold we couldn’t sleep,” they answered.

“I was none too warm myself.”

“And I was none too comfortable,” the doctor added.

“Ho!” cried Dumplin’, who was starting the breakfast over the fire, “I
never woke up once. Just as warm as anything, and never felt a stone in
me all night.”

“Well, who wouldn’t be warm if he was covered with a blubber
bed-spread!” Bennie retorted.

“And who wouldn’t sleep soft if he carried his own upholstery?” said
Spider.

“All right, kid,” Dumplin’ grinned. “But there are times when it pays.”

The sun was not far up when they finished breakfast, cached the grub and
blankets and the packs, and armed only with the alpenstocks, a pocketful
of raisins and chocolate, the canteens and cameras, set out for the
summit of Scott’s Peak, which rose directly above them, and seemed to be
reached, after the first pull up the steep side of the ravine, by a
fairly easy incline. The map showed, too, that the distance was less
than three miles.

“Three miles—three hours,” said Bennie. “A mile an hour is what the
Appalachian Club allows. We’ll be there at half-past nine.”

“Getting sure again, are you?” said his uncle. “This isn’t Mount
Washington, where the Appalachian Club climbs. This is Scott’s Peak. It
isn’t made of granite, but it’s a spur volcano spit up out of the side
of old Mazama, and it’s about 2,500 feet of nice, soft pumice dust from
here on.”

It was.

Once over the first scramble up the side of the ravine, they settled
down to a steady plod in the soft, volcanic stuff. Their feet sank deep
into it. The pitch was greater than it looked, too, and every time they
threw their weight on to the forward foot, it sank back a way. Sometimes
there were patches of snow they could get on, for partial relief. But
mostly this side of the mountain had melted off, and it was just a long,
weary, back-breaking grind up the pumice. Did you ever climb a steep
pile of sand? Anyhow, you have walked in the deep, dry, soft sand above
the tide mark on a beach. You know what hard work it is. The climb up
Scott was just like that, only more so. One hour, two hours, three
hours, four hours, and part of five, with many a rest, and the sun
getting hotter and hotter, before they reached the summit.

“Well, boys, this is the highest you’ve been yet,” said Mr. Stone.
“Eight thousand nine hundred and thirty-two feet.”

“Wish there was a tree we could shin to make it an even 9,000,” said
Bennie.

Dumplin’ wiped the sweat from his face, and collapsed on the ground,
panting. “I wouldn’t climb a barber’s pole,” he announced.

“Well, you can see most of eastern Oregon without sitting up,” his
father laughed.

This was certainly true. From the top of Scott, they could look eastward
for a hundred miles, over a great plain almost as flat and bare as the
sea, a sage brush desert. North and south they could look mile after
mile in either direction along the tumbled, snowy world of the Cascade
range. And just below them, to the west, they looked down 3,000 feet
into the blue hole of Crater Lake.

“There’s most room enough for a feller to breathe, out here,” Bennie
remarked. Then he started to drink from his canteen, and discovered it
was empty.

“Fill it with snow,” said his uncle.

Dumplin’ had drunk up all his supply, too, so both of them hunted out a
snow-bank, dug down to clean snow, and began to stuff it into their
canteens. “Gosh! where does it all go to!” Dumplin’ remarked, after
three or four minutes.

“Takes a lot of snow to make a little water,” Bennie answered. “Mine’s
full—full o’ snow. Now let her melt!”

Presently, after he had eaten his raisins, he took a pull at the
canteen, and got about one good swig of water.

“Let’s be going down,” said he.

“Just so you can get a drink?” asked Spider.

“Marvelous, Watson, marvelous,” Bennie laughed. “Why haven’t they given
you a job on the detective force?”

But the rest, by now, had emptied their canteens, too, and everybody was
thirsty, so down they started. It was easy going down. When the slope
was smooth, they set in their stocks as far ahead as they could reach,
and then took a long vault, down past them, pulled them out, and
repeated. In one hour they had covered the ground it took them five on
the ascent.

It was only a shade after two o’clock when they reached their cache, so
they shouldered their luggage and hiked on down the valley, away from
the lake, for nearly five miles, till they reached a region of grass and
flowers and heavy timber, where the Sand Creek had cut down a deep cañon
in the volcanic soil and lava, but the strangest cañon you ever saw,
because some of the lava was harder than the rest, and the water hadn’t
cut this, but left it sticking up all through the gorge, in great,
round, water-worn pinnacles. Imagine hundreds of Bunker Hill monuments,
round instead of square-cornered, erected helter-skelter at the bottom
of a wild cañon, and you have a picture of the pinnacles. Here, near the
brink, in sheltered woods, they made their second night’s bivouac.

And this time Bennie woke up only once in the night, and had to be
shaken awake in the morning.

“I must be getting fat, like Dump,” he said. “I wasn’t very cold, and
I’m not very sore.”

“You’re getting harder,” said his uncle. “If we did this a couple of
weeks, we could all sleep out like tops.”

The third day they hiked back to their camp on the rim, using the rim
road to get around the cliffs and ridges—a long grind with the heavy
packs, but quite uneventful.

And when they got to camp, the doctor announced, “We leave to-morrow, at
six o’clock. Everybody out at four-thirty. Won’t need any grub except
for tomorrow’s breakfast and lunch, so we can clean up the larder for
dinner. Bennie, go over and smile sweetly at the hotel cook, and see if
you can coax him to sell you a big beefsteak, and a loaf of bread, and a
head of lettuce.”

“Get a lemon meringue pie if he’s got one,” Dumplin’ added.

“The cook’s an awful grouch,” the doctor laughed, when Bennie had gone.
“He’ll throw him out of the kitchen.”

Everybody was busy about camp, getting dinner ready, when Bennie
returned with a large package. He opened it with a grin. It contained
two steaks, a head of lettuce, a loaf of bread—and a lemon pie!

“The cook’s an awful old grouch,” Mr. Stone remarked to Uncle Billy,
winking at the boys.

“_How_ did you do it?” demanded the astonished doctor.

“It’s my fatal beauty,” said Bennie airily. And that’s all he would
tell.

But to Spider, later, he said, “Remember that fat old guy that used to
cook at the White Doe Inn, back home? The one that used to come to all
our ball games? Well, he’s the cook at the hotel here now. I knew Uncle
Bill was trying to put one over on me, and I didn’t have a notion how I
was going to beat him, till I saw who the cook was. He came at me mad as
anything, ’cause campers are always trying to buy stuff off him. Looked
as if he was going to throw me out. And then I said, ‘Hello, Mr. Leary,
coming down to the field to see us play Lenox tomorrow?’—and he
recognized me—and, say! I was so glad I gave him all the change from
Uncle Billy’s bill.”

“Some luck!” Spider laughed.

“Don’t you tell, now.”

“Not a word. But, boy, I’m going to eat my share of that steak!”

It was a glorious meal, and Dumplin’ kissed the pie plate when it was
all over.

After Bennie had carried the pie plate back to the cook, while the rest
washed up the dishes, Uncle Billy asked for the Scout Manual, and read
what a scout has to do to get a merit badge for hiking.

  “To obtain a merit badge for hiking, a scout must:

  1. Show a thorough knowledge of the care of the feet on a hike.

  2. Walk five miles per day, six days in the week, for a period of
  three months. This may include walking to and from school or work. He
  shall keep a record of his hikes daily, preferably in his diary, a
  transcript to be made an exhibit before the court of honor.

  3. Walk ten miles on each of two days in each month for a period of
  three months; in other words, six walks of ten miles each during the
  three months.

  4. Walk twenty miles in one day.

  5. Locate and describe interesting trails, and walk to some place
  marked by some patriotic or historical event.

  6. Write his experiences in these several walking trips with reference
  to fatigue or distress experienced, and indicate what he had learned
  in the way of caring for himself as regards equipment such as camping
  and cooking outfit, food, footwear, clothing and hygiene.

  7. Review his ability to read a road map (preferably a Government
  topographical map), to use a compass, and shall be required to make a
  written plan for a hike from the map.”

“Number one,” Uncle Billy said. “What have you learned about the care of
the feet, Bennie?”

“Wash ’em in cold water when you can, and dry ’em thoroughly. Wear wool
socks, and carry two extra pairs. At home we carry adhesive tape, to put
over a place that may start chafing, so’s to stop a blister.”

“That’s all right. The best care of the feet, though, is to have stout,
easy boots, that _fit_. Well, number two—we haven’t walked five miles a
day for six weeks, have we? You’ll have to do that at home. Number
three—‘Walk ten miles on each of two days, in each month for a period of
three months.’ You can count this hike as ten miles, or its equivalent,
on each of three days, for July, all right. We hardly made ten miles the
first day, but it was equal to fifteen or twenty of ordinary walking.
You did two miles and a half before breakfast the second day, then six
up and down the mountain, and six more before camp at night. That’s
fourteen and a half, with three of ’em up Scott’s Peak in the pumice.”

“That ought to count for twenty, I’ll say,” Bennie declared. “And how
much the last day?”

“Well, with our getting wood for breakfast, and taking a last look at
the pinnacles, and your two trips to the hotel, I guess we can call
today twenty miles.”

“I’ll take a trot around now, if I need to,” Bennie laughed.

“No, you can sit still. Well, that qualifies you on number four, anyhow,
and gives you a good start on number three. Number five you’ll have to
do at home. Number six you can attend to some day in camp, and let me
see what you’ve written about these three days. Number seven—h’m—you’ve
got a lot to learn yet about using maps, I suspect. Go get your map of
Crater Lake, and let me see you lay out, with a pencil, what looks like
the best way to hike from here to Crater Peak, five miles south of us.”

Bennie worked over this for some time, and then showed the line he had
drawn.

“Good!” said his uncle. “I’m glad to see you haven’t drawn an air-line
path that plunges you down any 500-foot precipices, or takes you up any
600-foot walls.”

“I learned something on this trip,” said Bennie. “I learned that when
they put contour lines close together on a map, it means steep, and if
there are a lot of ’em, and they are very close, it means, ‘Detour to
the right.’”

“That’s the idea. Well, boy, are you going to stick? Will you write out
for me an account of this trip, and the next one we take, too, and try
to work for this merit badge?”

“You bet I will!”

“May I, too?” asked Spider.

“Gee, he’s got so many badges now he looks like Marshal Foch,” said
Bennie.

“The more the better,” laughed the doctor. “Now, boys, bed! Big Ben is
set for 4:30.”

“It’ll take a Big Bertha to wake _me_ at 4:30,” said Dumplin’.

“Oh, you air mattress!” sighed Bennie, as he crawled into his sleeping
bag.

Spider answered never a word. He was fast asleep.



                              CHAPTER XVII
           Good-bye to Crater Lake, and a Motor Trip to Bend


Uncle Billy was as good as his word the next morning. At half-past four
he shook Bennie and Spider, and he had to shake them hard, too. Then all
three of them went into the other tent, and rolled Mr. Stone and
Dumplin’ upside down in their sleeping bags. It was still cold, and the
sun was not yet up over the snowy crags of Garfield. In the still,
crystal-clear air, the water of the lake was without a ripple, and every
rock and tree on the rim was perfectly reflected in the blue mirror.

“Take a good long look, boys,” said the doctor. “It’s good-bye to Crater
Lake as soon as we can load the cars.”

“I hate to leave it,” Spider said. “I don’t believe I’ll ever see
anything so grand again, or have such a good time.”

“I hate to leave it, too,” said Bennie. “But I bet we’ll have a lot more
good times. I guess old Oregon is full of ’em.”

“I am satisfied with Oregon,” Dumplin’ began to sing, in a high falsetto
voice to the tune of “Glory, glory, hallelujah.”

“Shut up, do you want to wake everybody else on the rim, just because
you’re up?” his father cautioned.

“Time they got up,” Dumplin’ laughed. “Early to bed and early to rise,
makes a man dopy with sleep in his eyes.”

“Gosh, if he can’t sing, he makes up poetry,” Bennie groaned. “Give him
a flapjack, quick.”

As soon as breakfast was over, Mr. Stone and the doctor tinkered the
cars for the trip, while the boys struck the tents, deflated and rolled
up the sleeping bags, packed their dunnage sacks, and then began to stow
the luggage in the cars. It was after seven when everything was at last
packed aboard, and Uncle Billy gave the order to start. The engines
turned over, reluctant to start after their long idleness, but at last
the explosions came, the exhausts spit smoke, and the cars moved out
over dry ground, where a week ago had been a snow-drift, headed toward
the road.

“Good-bye, old lake!” cried Bennie.

“Au revoir, for me. _I’m_ coming back some day,” said Spider.

“And now where, Uncle Billy?” Bennie added.

“Bend,” said his uncle. “I wish we could go back home on the Sky Line
Trail that some day Oregon is going to build into a highway right up
along the spine of the Cascades. But at present it is only a ranger’s
trail, and it takes weeks to travel it, with an expensive pack train. So
we are going by motor up the east side of the range to the town of Bend,
and we’ll get a pack train there and go in and sample a bit of the Sky
Line Trail, to say we’ve ridden it, and maybe climb a snow mountain.”

“Are we going in on horseback?” Bennie demanded.

“We are, if we go at all,” said his uncle.

“Hooray! I never rode horseback!”

“You’ll have plenty of chance to learn, then,” Uncle Billy smiled.
“About the first night, you’ll wish you hadn’t tried to learn, too.”

“Bet I won’t!” Bennie retorted. “How far is it to Bend?”

“Oh, a hundred miles, I guess. Maybe more.”

“Seven-thirty now—twenty-five miles an hour, that means we get there at
noon.”

“You are my idea of an optimist, Bennie,” said the doctor. “This is an
eastern Oregon road we are going to travel on. If we should travel
twenty-five miles an hour, we wouldn’t get there at all.”

For many miles, the road out of the park took them in a southerly
direction, down the Anna Creek valley, through a noble forest of yellow
pines, a tree the boys had never seen before, which has great flat
scales of bark which looks almost like copper, and past the deep cañon
the creek has cut in the lava, with sides fantastically carved into
giant columns. Finally, they reached the gate of the park, were checked
up by the gateman, and went on, swinging eastward now.

Bennie, as soon as they were off the government road, very soon realized
why they wouldn’t make Bend at noon. In eastern Oregon, a country “dirt”
road, which in the East is usually quite decent in summer isn’t a dirt
road at all, really, because there isn’t any dirt. All the soil is
powdered volcanic ash and pumice, no doubt deposited there by Mount
Mazama ages ago. This volcanic soil looks almost gray-white in color,
and a road made on it, without any macadam, is very quickly pounded, in
dry weather, into a layer of dust inches thick, which rises like a smoke
screen behind the car, and gets kicked out of holes in the road by the
passing tires till the holes deepen more and more, making the road one
endless series of bumps.

Instead of traveling at twenty-five miles an hour, the doctor held the
car down to fifteen, and very often had to go slower than that.

And it was hot down here below the range, hot and close. The yellow
pines, and then endless acres of ugly lodge-pole pines, lined the road
on both sides, shutting out wind and view. Only now and then did they
catch a glimpse of Scott’s Peak, and later of Thielsen. They were in the
dry country, too, for almost no rain ever falls on the east side of the
Cascades. So they passed no brooks, after leaving Anna Creek. Choked
with dust, the boys sampled the canteens frequently, and rejoiced that
they weren’t in the second car, which was following far behind, to keep
out of the dust as much as possible.

It was almost noon when they reached a stream at last, coming down from
the snow-fields—and they were only half-way on their journey! Here they
stopped for lunch. The doctor had insisted on saving out two cans of
peaches for this occasion, and now they understood why. It was a job to
worry the dry bread and the bacon down their parched throats, but how
those cool peaches, and the juice they were canned in, did go to the
spot!

The trip was resumed, and they went on and on northward, through endless
forests of yellow pines, one of the few trees that will flourish in this
dry region, till at last they came into the tiny little town of
Crescent.

It was Bennie who spied a sign, “Soda” over the one store. He gave a
yell, and hoisted his feet over the car door, ready to jump.

The soda turned out to be the bottled variety, and it hadn’t been kept
on ice. In fact, there was no ice in the place. But even that didn’t
prevent the five tourists from leaving behind ten empty bottles when
they departed again.

The road through the endless yellow pine forest began to get better now.
It had been straightened out and rock ballasted in places, and Uncle
Billy stepped on the gas. He was traveling along at twenty-five miles or
more, leaving a cloud of dust behind, when Bennie suddenly cried, “Say,
I believe we just went through a town. Golly, I wonder if there was a
soda there. Let’s go back.”

“This car doesn’t know how to turn around,” said Uncle Billy. “That was
the town of La Pine. I know the man who used to own most of it.”

“What happened? Did he lose it out of his pocket?” said Bennie.

“I guess it crawled under a pine needle and hid from him,” said Spider.

It wasn’t long now before the car rolled out of the yellow pine forests
into a great clearing, where every tree had been cut down as far as the
eye could see, and a fire had followed, burning up all young stuff and
making the ground dry, naked ashes.

“That’s what the lumbermen do to us!” Uncle Billy cried. “It’s worse
than what they do to you in the East, because the fire does so much more
damage in this dry country. I wonder how long it will be before we wake
up and make them lumber properly? I hope you Boy Scouts will always work
for conservation and proper forest laws.”

“If they’d left one old tree to the acre for cone bearers, and kept the
fire out, I should think the forest would almost start itself again,”
said Spider. “But they haven’t left a single tree.”

“They are hogs,” Uncle Billy exclaimed, angrily. “It makes my blood boil
every time I go through country like this, and think that the voters of
the State let ’em do it.”

The road was hard now, the car went faster, and in a short time they
began to see the houses of a town. They swung under a railroad, rolled
on to asphalt pavement, and found themselves in the middle of Bend, a
brisk, clean little city of 5,000 people.

“Well, what do you know about this!” Bennie laughed. “It just pops right
up here in the desert, like a toadstool. And, oh, boy, there’s a soda
fountain—and a movie theatre!”

Spider and Uncle Billy laughed. “He’s a great wilderness scout, he is,”
said the doctor. “He’s gladder to see a movie theatre than he was to see
Crater Lake.”

Bennie grinned a little sheepishly. “No, it isn’t that,” he said, “but
as long as we got to be in a town, might as well have something to do.”

“The first thing I’ll do is to get a bath,” the doctor laughed, as he
drove right past the drug store, and stopped in front of the hotel.

The other car rolled up behind them, Mr. Stone’s and Dumplin’s clothes
and faces covered thick with dust, and the car looking gray-white all
over. The boys got out the dunnage bags and carried them into the lobby,
while the cars were taken to a garage. As soon as the doctor and Mr.
Stone came back, they got three rooms, one for Bennie and Spider, one
for Dumplin’ and his father, and one for the doctor. Off came their
clothes, and from three bathtubs came the sounds of splashing.

They were a much cleaner and more civilized looking outfit when they
came down to dinner.



                             CHAPTER XVIII
        The Boys Encounter “Pep,” Who Promises Them a Bear Hunt


They were just coming out of the dining-room when a tall, very thin man
came hurrying in from the street, saw them, and with a loud, “Hello,
Doc!” rushed over to shake Uncle Billy’s hand.

“Just heard you were in,” he cried.

The doctor introduced him as the “biggest booster in Bend.” His name,
the boys gathered, was Peters, though the doctor called him “Pep,” which
was evidently his popular title.

“Well, boys, what do you think of Oregon?” he demanded as soon as he
knew they were from the East. “Some State, eh? I’ll say it is. Wait till
you see the Jefferson country. Say, want to go on a bear hunt?”

Of course, he had started by asking them what they thought of Oregon,
and the boys were all set to make a polite answer, but he never gave
them a chance to reply, and ended up instead by asking if they wanted to
go on a bear hunt!

“Sure we do!” the boys chorused.

(“He’s a queer one,” Bennie whispered to Spider. “Answers his own
questions half the time.”)

“Pep” was now talking again. “I can fix it up, Doc. Maybe your friend
would like to get a movie of a bear. There’s a crowd in camp over at Elk
Lake now who want a bear hunt. Some of ’em do, anyhow. We can go over
there and pick ’em up, and run over to Newberry Crater and pick up a
bear all right. You know old Vreeland, who lives on the big ranch south
of La Pine? He’s got a pack of hounds, and plenty of horses, and he’d
rather go on a bear hunt than go to Heaven. What do you say?”

“Well, boys, what do _you_ say?” the doctor asked, turning to the scouts
and Dumplin’.

Bennie sighed with comical exaggeration. “Oh, of course, I’ll go if you
want to,” he answered. “I strive to please.”

Everybody laughed except Spider. “Are you going to kill the bear?” he
questioned.

“No, indeed,” said Pep. “We catch ’em by the tail out here in Oregon,
and then tie a blue ribbon round their necks, so they’ll look prettier
as they gambol through the woods.”

Spider bit his lip as if he was angry, and was trying not to make a rude
reply.

“That’s all right, too,” he finally said, “but some folks like to kill
wild animals and some folks don’t. I’m one of the ones who doesn’t.
Bears don’t do any harm. I’d like to see one, and see Mr. Stone get a
picture of it. Hunting with a camera is harder, and better sport, I
think.”

“I’ll say it’ll be hard, all right,” said Pep. “Wait till you see the
stuff you’ll have to carry your camera through! As for the shooting,
Newberry Crater is a State bird and game refuge, and you have to get
permission to hunt bears on it; but I’ve got that O. K., because they
want the bears killed off. All they ask is that you report the stomach
contents.”

“I’ve just got something new I’ve not shown any of you yet,” Mr. Stone
now put in. “It was waiting for me here, in my mail. It’s a movie camera
no bigger than a kodak, which works with a spring instead of a crank,
and takes twenty-five feet at a time. I can carry it in the pocket of a
hunting coat. It’s for just such a time as this, when the big camera
couldn’t be taken along. I’d like to try it—that is, if you can
guarantee the bear.”

“What’ll happen to me if I don’t produce the bear?” Pep demanded.

“We’ll take your horse, and make you walk home,” the doctor said.

“Easy! It’s only thirty miles! Shall we start tomorrow morning?”

“Sure. I guess we can stow you into our cars somewhere.”

“Stow me nothing! I got a car of my own. It’s a dandy, too—a genuine
antique, built in 1909. They made regular cars in those days. Well, you
be ready at eight o’clock. I’ll be around for you, and lead the way.”

“But we haven’t any guns,” said Bennie, suddenly.

“Don’t matter. Vreeland has plenty. Don’t need more’n one, anyhow, to
kill a bear. So long.”

Pep departed, striding with his long legs out of the lobby.

“He’s a queer one,” said Mr. Stone. “What does he do for a living?”

“Real estate, I guess,” the doctor answered. “He’s a great booster for
Bend, and spends half his time fixing up parties for visitors who come
here. He’s a great card. Well, boys, I suppose you’re going to the
movies now?”

“I can see the movies without coming 4,000 miles,” Bennie answered. “Me
for a look around this burg.”

“Me, too,” said Spider. “Doug Fairbanks won’t seem such a wonder after
we’ve climbed old Llao Rock.”

“Boys,” cried Uncle Billy, “you have not come to Oregon in vain!”



                              CHAPTER XIX
 The Bear Hunt—In Which the Boys Discover that the Bear Doesn’t Do All
                             the Hard Work


Right after breakfast the next morning they got the cars out and left
behind at the hotel all the luggage they wouldn’t need on the
bear-hunting trip. Mr. Stone was exhibiting his new camera, an
astonishing invention which he held in his hand like a kodak, while it
took twenty-five feet of film (he could carry as much as two hundred
feet of extra reels in one side pocket, too), when Pep appeared in his
“antique.” They heard him before they saw him, in fact. The car was a
runabout. The paint apparently had vanished about 1918. The muffler was
broken so that she roared and spit like a motorcycle. One mud-guard was
so cracked that it half hung from the car and flapped and rattled. The
other three were bent and dented. The wind-shield was cracked, and the
radiator was covered with iron rust where the water had boiled over and
run down the sides. When Pep put his foot on the brake to stop, she
shrieked and wailed like a sick cat.

Bennie walked over to this car and stared intently.

“Some boat!” he said. “Some boat! Say, Spider, a scout is always
respectful and kind to the aged and infirm. Remember that. What’s its
name, Mr. Peters?”

“Its mother never named it,” said Pep. “I’ve called it a lot of things,
but they aren’t very polite.”

Dumplin’ laughed. “I know what its name is, all right.”

“Yes?”

“Its name is Methuselah.”

“I thought Methuselah died when he was only nine hundred,” said Bennie.

“Say, if you boys make fun of my car, I won’t let you ride in it,” Pep
threatened.

“Would it hold up two passengers?” asked Bennie.

“All aboard!” called the doctor. “Stop insulting Pep’s chariot, and
climb into your own. Lead the way, Pep.”

Pep spun his crank around, Methuselah grunted, spit, coughed, and then
roared, the doctor and Mr. Stone stepped on their starters, and the
procession moved down the main street of Bend, Methuselah leading, and
swung south on the same road they had come up the day before. Once out
in the open, Pep began to travel. Through the cloud of dust he kicked
up, those behind could see the rear wheels of the old runabout go
bobbing up and down, and from side to side. The doctor’s speedometer
crept up to thirty, to thirty-five, to forty miles, as he followed.

“Gosh, he doesn’t care what happens to him!” Bennie said. “Think of
hitting forty on this road in Methuselah!”

“Think of hitting forty on _any_ road in Methuselah,” Uncle Billy
laughed. “He’ll stop pretty soon, to cool her off—and tell us it was for
something else.”

Before long he did stop. When the other cars drew up, Pep was standing
beside Methuselah, at a place where a side road led off to the west,
toward the white-capped mountains.

“Thought you might miss the turn if I didn’t wait,” he explained.

The doctor winked at the boys, and Bennie got out and started to put his
hand on Methuselah’s radiator. But he speedily removed it.

“Will you have your eggs three minutes or four this morning, gents?” he
asked. Then he listened with his ear near the hood. “Uncle Billy, I
think you ought to come here,” he added. “I’m afraid poor old Methuselah
has got blood pressure.”

Even Pep laughed at this. “Maybe I give him too much meat,” he said.

The cars now turned up the side road, which was little more than a
couple of wheel ruts through the endless yellow pine forest, and began
to wind their way southwestward. Even Methuselah didn’t hurry through
here. The road was too rough and too winding.

“Say, I expect to meet myself coming back on this road,” Bennie
declared. “The feller who laid it out must have had the blind staggers.”

“If it was straightened it wouldn’t be more than half as long,” said the
practical Spider.

Presently, coming around a sharp turn, they found Methuselah silent and
stalled, with Pep, the hood lifted, poking into the engine.

Everybody climbed out, and went over to him.

“What’s wrong?” they asked.

“I just stopped to tell you about a man who was drawing a load of hay
over this road once,” said he. “He never got it out, because the horses
ate it all up behind his back from the tail of the wagon.”

“That’s a good story. Now let’s go on,” winked the doctor.

“Wait just a minute,” Pep said. “Methuselah’s foot slipped, and he
sprained his carburetor. I think it’s his carburetor. Maybe he pulled a
tendon in his ignition.”

“Quick, doctor, the arnica!” called Bennie.

But Spider, who knew something about cars, was poking into the engine.

“I don’t think it’s the carburetor,” he said. “You’ve flooded that
trying to start her. Let me have a screw-driver, and you turn her over
slowly.”

He traced the ignition around till he found a spot where there was no
spark, and behind that found a loose connection, into which had settled
an insulating film of dust and grit. When this was cleaned and
tightened, Methuselah coughed and spit and roared again, and once more
they started on their way.

Methuselah had no more mishaps, though they expected to find him stalled
around every bend, and after a couple of hours they came out of the
yellow pine forest into open country, right under the big mountains, and
presently before them lay Elk Lake, with the white reflection of South
Sister, 10,000 feet high and snow covered, mirrored in the dark water.
The road ran along beside the lake to the upper end, and there, in a
grove of pines and fir trees, was a big camp, and men and women just
sitting down to luncheon at long board tables. Methuselah had been
parked beside the road, and Pep was bobbing about talking and laughing
with the crowd.

“What’s the big idea?” Bennie asked. “Gee whiz, a whole bunch of strange
people, and no chance for a swim!”

“I guess they don’t own the whole lake,” the doctor laughed. “Anyhow,
they’ll give us some grub.”

The crowd, they found, was a convention of Oregon editors, with their
wives. They were having a fine time, no doubt, but the newcomers didn’t
seem exactly to fit.

“Spider was one of the editors of our high school paper last winter,”
said Bennie, “but all I did was get an advertisement for it from Dad. I
thought we were going to hunt bears, not editors.”

As soon as lunch was over somebody got up and began to make a speech.
The crowd sat back and got ready to listen. Whereupon Uncle Billy
beckoned to the boys and Mr. Stone, and they silently sneaked away from
the tables.

“I didn’t go on a vacation to listen to speeches,” the doctor said. “It
will be too late to get into camp at Newberry Crater tonight if we hang
around here till that bunch gets through telling each other what’s wrong
with the newspaper business. You wait here while I have a heart-to-heart
talk with Pep.”

After ten minutes the doctor came back with the long, lank Peters.

“Sorry, boys,” Pep said. “I thought there were a couple of good sports
in this outfit who really wanted a bear hunt. But when I told ’em they’d
have to sleep out, and get up at three A. M., they decided they’d rather
listen to the speeches. Some folks would do anything rather than get up
in the morning. Well, come on, we’ll get our bear even if there isn’t
anybody to write it for the papers.”

“Oh, ho!” cried Uncle Billy, “so that was it! Well, I am a dumb-bell, as
Bennie would so elegantly put it. I didn’t realize before why you were
so set on having some editors along. You want to be boosting Bend all
the while, don’t you? Maybe Spider will write it up for his school
paper. That’s something. Cheer up, Pep, and see if Methuselah is still
alive.”

Pep spun the crank till the drops of sweat fell from his forehead before
she coughed and started.

“I get a fine lot of exercise with this car,” he panted, wiping his face
before he climbed aboard.

They cut south from the winding road after a little way, and presently
arrived in the hamlet of La Pine, the town which Bennie said one of
Uncle Billy’s friends once lost out of his pocket. Not far from this
town, in an extraordinarily green meadow beside the Deschutes River, a
long meadow like a rich oasis in the dry desert soil, they came to the
Vreeland ranch, where the house sat beneath great poplar trees, and the
barns were full of fresh-cut alfalfa and the cattle were browsing as
they do in the East, along the river bank.

“Give this soil some water,” said Spider, “and instead of a desert, it’s
like our richest farms at home.”

“Yes, sir. Irrigation is all we need in Oregon to grow anything,” said
Uncle Billy, as the three cars pulled up in the yard.

Pep found Mr. Vreeland out in a field, and brought him in. He was a big,
bronzed man, who looked hard and wiry for all his gray hair and beard,
and at the suggestion of a bear hunt his eyes lit up and he smiled. A
long, low whistle brought an answering joyous yelp from a near-by barn,
and four hounds, with thin bodies and long ears and sad faces, came
jumping and wriggling up to him.

“Them pups’ll get you a bear, if there is a bear,” said their master
proudly. “I guess we can rustle up the horses. Let’s see, we’ll need six
for you, and one for me, and one for the rustler, and a pack
animal—that’s nine. We’ll start in an hour. Hi—Tom!” he shouted to a man
out in the paddock.

“He doesn’t lose any time,” whispered Mr. Stone.

“Not when he smells a bear,” Pep replied. “He can see a bear track in
the dark. And he’s got some regular dogs.”

While the horses were being saddled the boys made up six blanket rolls
for their party, and one for Pep, and packed up enough provisions for a
couple of days. The provisions, a few “eating irons” and cooking
utensils, and the blankets were put on the pack horse. Mr. Vreeland
brought out two rifles, one for himself and one for somebody else.

“Who gets it?” he asked.

“Not I,” said Spider.

“Nor I,” said Mr. Stone. “Here’s my gun.” He patted the case of his tiny
movie camera, which was slung from his shoulder.

“I’ll take it,” said Bennie.

“Know how to use it?” the man asked.

“N-not very well,” Bennie admitted.

“Well, it isn’t loaded,” Mr. Vreeland laughed. “Suppose you carry it
today, and learn how much it weighs. Are we all set?”

Tom, the horse rustler, brought the saddled horses into the yard, and
each rider was assigned a mount.

“Pick out a good strong one for that half starved little chap there,”
said Mr. Vreeland, pointing to Dumplin’. “All you boys are good riders,
I suppose?”

“Oh, sure,” said Bennie. “We gallop all the time over the wide prairies
of Massachusetts. Got a nice mantelpiece for me to eat off of tonight?”

“It’s tomorrow night you’ll need that,” the man laughed. “All aboard!”

In spite of his weight and his gray hair, Mr. Vreeland swung into his
saddle with the ease and grace of a cowboy. The doctor and Mr. Stone and
Pep were not quite so easy, but they knew how to ride. Dumplin’,
however, was as green as the two eastern scouts, and the three of them
made a mess of mounting, and after they were mounted and their horses
had started on a slow trot out of the yard, they bobbed around and
jounced up and down like three apples in a dump-cart.

“Say, how do you manage this stunt?” Bennie called to his uncle. “If I
keep on this way, I’ll all fall apart.”

“Stand in your stirrups as naturally and easily as you can, and then
lean forward a little from your waist,” the doctor called back. “Don’t
try to do anything but just relax from your waist up, and stand on your
stirrups.”

The boys tried this, and gradually, very gradually, they began to get on
to the trick, so that their bodies rode a little better with the motions
of the horses’ backs. It was hard work, though, and they were glad
enough when they had crossed the highway, headed east up a road through
the yellow pines, and finally dropped down to a walk as the road began
to climb. When the horses stopped trotting, the three boys sat back in
their saddles and took the weight off their tired legs. Of course, they
bounced a bit, but that didn’t matter when the horse wasn’t trotting.

They were on the lower slopes of Newberry Crater now, which is an
8,000-foot mountain standing fifty miles or more east of the Cascade
range, all alone in the desert pines, and was once a volcano. On the
top, Uncle Billy told them, is a big crater, almost as large as Crater
Lake, but only a few hundred feet deep, and instead of being filled with
water, it contains two ponds and a lot of summer camps. The whole
mountain is a State game reserve, for the slopes are covered with pine
woods, and the water attracts both birds and animals.

The party climbed slowly up the dusty road for two hours, while the boys
wriggled and shifted in their saddles to find easy positions (which they
couldn’t find), and the rifle Bennie was carrying either banged his back
or had to be held across his saddle, growing heavier and heavier.

At last, as the sun was setting in the west, they came out of the yellow
pines into a big open meadow, through which Paulina Creek flowed on its
way down the mountain, making the grass rich and green. Here Mr.
Vreeland turned in. The horses were watered at the stream and then
hobbled (hobbles are just leather bands like handcuffs put around their
forelegs, so they can move around to feed, but cannot wander far away).
On the edge of the meadow, near the brook but under the pines, camp was
made, by the simple process of building a fire and spreading the
blankets on level spots of dry ground. While Mr. Vreeland and Tom, the
horse rustler, were cooking supper, the rest went to the creek for a
bath. The water was icy cold, but, as Bennie said, it was softer to sit
on than a saddle.

After supper they gathered around the fire for a while, in the cold
mountain air of night, while Mr. Vreeland told bear stories. The four
dogs lay sleeping close to them, one of them, old Ben, Mr. Vreeland’s
pet, with a muzzle snuggled against his side.

But before long he ordered them to bed.

“I’ll get you up before the sun,” he said. “That’s the only time to
start after bears. Their tracks are fresh then, and the dogs can follow
’em.”

In spite of their saddle soreness, and the bare ground they were
sleeping on, the boys rolled up in their blankets, without undressing,
and were soon fast asleep. There is nothing like riding a horse in the
mountains to make you slumber!

“Golly, doesn’t seem as if I’d more’n dropped off,” said Bennie, sitting
up and rubbing his eyes when he was awakened by the voice of Mr.
Vreeland.

“I don’t care what becomes of ol’ bear. I’m goin’ sleep some more,”
mumbled Dumplin’, drawing his blankets tighter about his neck and
rolling over on the other side.

“Yes, you are!” yelled Spider and Bennie, grabbing the blankets and
rolling him suddenly out of them.

It was still dark in the woods, with a dim, gray light over the open
meadow. They could scarcely see the horses, which they heard feeding and
thumping about on hobbled feet. Tom had the fire going, and soon there
was the welcome smell of coffee. After the coffee, everybody felt more
awake, the light increased, the trunks of the trees began to emerge from
the gloom, and Tom and Mr. Vreeland rounded up the horses and began to
saddle.

“Well, son,” said Mr. Vreeland to Bennie, “how about that gun today?
You’re going to ride some pretty rough country, and she’ll get heavy.”

“I don’t think he’d better carry a gun through this going,” the doctor
said. “Especially as it is somebody else’s gun, and he’s somebody else’s
boy, whom I’m responsible for.”

“Well, of course, I don’t want to worry my uncle,” Bennie assented, with
surprising cheerfulness.

“You mean you need both hands to hang on to your horse,” said Spider.

“Marvelous, Sherlock, simply marvelous!” Bennie laughed. “When we get to
the old bear, I’ll take the gun from my bearer, and put a well-directed
bullet through his brain.”

Now, in the fast increasing daylight, they were off, Mr. Vreeland
leading the way and sitting his horse as straight as a ramrod. The boys
were stiff and sore, but once on the saddle they felt easier than the
day before.

The leader crossed the meadow to the upper side, and put his horse up on
a long sloping ridge covered with an open stand of yellow pine. As they
climbed this ridge, the boys could see a long distance between the
trees, and discovered that the side of the mountain was composed of a
series of long ridges, like this one, with deep erosion gullies between
them. The sides of these gullies were very steep, and at the bottom grew
thick stands of lodge-pole pines. After climbing a way on the first
ridge, and evidently seeing nothing which appealed to him, Mr. Vreeland
suddenly turned his horse right down the side, into the gully. As the
boys followed they found their horses’ heads almost underneath them, and
they had to lean far back in the saddles to keep their balance. At the
bottom, Mr. Vreeland simply rode right into the dense stand of little
lodge-pole pines and disappeared. The doctor, Mr. Stone and Tom and Pep
followed. And after them went the three horses that carried the three
boys. There was nothing to do about it. The horses were trained to
follow in file, and it was their job to go through where the others
went. But the boys made an interesting, not to say painful discovery.

They discovered that when a horse goes through a thicket of lodge-pole
pines, he picks out a place that is wide enough for him to squeeze
through, and high enough so his head doesn’t hit a limb. But he doesn’t
pay any attention to the fact that his rider’s feet and legs stick out
on either side and his rider’s head is considerably higher than his own.
He’s looking out only for himself, and it’s up to the rider to take the
consequences for getting on his back.

When they emerged on the farther side of the gully, Bennie didn’t have
any cap, Dumplin’ had a hole torn in the right knee of his trousers, and
Spider had a rent in the left shoulder of his shirt and a long scratch
on his face.

But there was no stopping for repairs. Already the other horses were up
on the next ridge, and with a heave and snort the boys’ horses suddenly
stood on their hind legs and scrambled up also, the boys leaning far
forward and hanging on to the horns of their saddles to keep aboard.

“Some sport!” panted Bennie. “Gee, that was a good cap, too.”

“My face feels as if the cat had sharpened her claws on me,” said
Spider.

“My knee’s bleeding,” puffed Dumplin’.

Mr. Vreeland kept on up through the open woods of the ridge, and
suddenly pulled his horse to a sharp halt, in a little patch of light
made by the rising sun. Here he spoke softly to the dogs, who had been
padding along at his horse’s heels with a bored air, as if a bear were
the very last thing they were thinking about. As the dogs trotted
sharply forward under the horse’s nose and began to sniff where he
pointed, Mr. Stone got his camera out of the case and made ready.
Suddenly all four dogs began to utter little moaning sounds, like barks
just beginning in their throats, and with a loud bay the two younger
ones started off down the mountain, while Mr. Stone’s camera whirred.
Ben, however, didn’t go. He kept on moaning and sniffing around.

“They are back tracking. You watch Ben and Cap, the wise old boys!” Mr.
Vreeland cried, his eyes dancing with excitement.

Then Ben and Cap, too, suddenly uttered deep, silvery, triumphant bays,
and sprang down the farther side of the ridge into a second ravine. An
instant later the other two dogs came crying back and followed them,
just in time to get into the last foot of the film. Then Mr. Vreeland
put his horse down after them at a gallop, and vanished into the pines,
followed by Tom and the doctor and Pep. Mr. Stone had a hard time
holding his horse while he got his camera back into the case. Then he,
too, went down the side of the ravine and into the lodge-poles.

“Now, darling, _please_ take it easy! Whoa! Whoa!” yelled Bennie at his
horse, as that animal cascaded down the soft soil of the bank and made
for the wall of tearing little trees.

Holding their legs as close to the horses’ sides as they could, ducking
to protect their faces, wriggling and squirming in their saddles to
avoid having their legs torn and bruised by trees between which the
horses squeezed, the boys got through, and followed the hunt. They could
hear the dogs baying in the next ravine, and over the ridge they went,
in time to see the tail of Mr. Stone’s horse vanishing into another
thicket of scrub.

This kept on for an hour or more—it seemed ages to the three boys. In
their efforts to get through the ravines without any more injury to
their clothes or their persons than was necessary, they had to slow
their horses down, and the hunt, which was working steadily up the
mountain, got farther and farther ahead of them. They had long since
lost all sight even of Mr. Stone, and the deep, bell-like baying of the
hounds grew fainter and fainter. At last it ceased altogether.

When that happened Bennie pulled up his horse and waited for Spider and
Dumplin’ to catch up.

“Say, fellers,” he asked, “what are we going to do? We’ve lost the hunt,
all right. I can’t hear a sound now, and we’ve been off the tracks for
twenty minutes, I guess. Those last two ravines we came through hadn’t
been broken before, and I haven’t seen a hoof-print for a long while.”

“We’re a swell lot of bear hunters, we are,” Dumplin’ panted. “Gee,
Spider, look at your face!”

“Well, if it looks anything the way it feels, I’m some beauty, I can
tell you that. Look at your own face—and your pants, too.”

“I don’t feel as if I had any pants left,” said Bennie. “Gee, I’m sore
all over, and my hands are all torn. What are we going to do?”

“I guess it’s up to us to go back to camp,” Spider suggested.

“How are we ever going to find camp?” Dumplin’ demanded. “As far as I’m
concerned, we’re lost.”

“‘Lost on Newberry Crater, or The Young Bear Hunters from Bend’—sounds
like a dime novel,” Bennie grinned. “Maybe we could follow our trail
back by the blood on the ground. But I got a better idea than that.
Let’s go on up this ridge a ways till we come to an open place, and then
sit there and wait. We can always follow the ridge down westward till we
come to the road. Guess we can’t starve. Maybe the old bear will trot
around past us. They don’t travel in a straight line, I guess. Anyhow,
it’s a chance, and I guess it’s our only chance to get back in the
game.”

“That’s a swell idea!” said Dumplin’, scornfully. “What you going to do
if he does come around? You wouldn’t carry the old gun. Use your
pocket-knife?”

“No, I’ll look at him between my legs,” Bennie answered. “The old bear
won’t trouble us. All he’s thinking about is getting away from the
hounds. Anyhow, I don’t see any use in trying to follow any longer,
’cause we’ve sure lost the hunt, and I hate to go back this early in the
day. We may find a place where we can look out and see something.”

“Sounds good to me. You’re the captain. Lead on,” said Spider.

So Bennie led the way up the open woods of the spine, which were growing
lower now, and presently they found themselves in a little clearing on a
sort of peak of lava. From here they could look out on one side for
miles and miles, over the wilderness of the mountain side, to the white
summits of the Cascades. But not a sight nor a sound of the hunt did
they have.

They dismounted stiffly, aching in every joint, and tied the horses in
the shade. Dumplin’ flopped to the ground with a groan. “My knee’s all
stiff,” he complained, “and the blood’s all clotted on my leg. Gee, I’ve
got six tears in my pants!”

The boys looked themselves over. Their clothes were torn, their hands
and faces scratched and covered with blood, and their thighs and knees
sore with the bruising trees. They were, in fact, a woe-begone looking
lot.

“And I could drink a barrel of water, and eat a ton of food,” sighed
Bennie.

“If you talk about water, I shall cry!” Dumplin’ exclaimed. “My mouth’s
full of cotton.”

“Go to sleep, and forget it,” said Spider.

“If the bear comes, wake me up,” Dumplin’ answered, closing his eyes at
once.

While Dumplin’ was slumbering Bennie and Spider debated what they should
do. It seemed pretty stupid to sit there all the morning doing nothing,
when they had come 3,000 miles to Oregon for a taste of the real
wilderness. But, as Spider pointed out, if they tried to follow the hunt
again they would only get more hopelessly lost. Finally they decided the
only thing to do was to wait till they heard some sound of it again and
then make toward the sound. Unless the bear went clear around the
mountain, sooner or later he ought to come within sound of them again,
they reasoned. He would try to get back to his familiar hunting ground.
They waited one hour, two hours, getting more and more thirsty, when
Spider suddenly cried “Hark!”

Far off, somewhere, he and Bennie couldn’t yet tell where, they heard
the deep, silvery bugle of one dog, apparently old Ben, who had the
deepest voice. The hunt was coming their way again! Quickly they roused
Dumplin’, and all three listened. Yes, there was no mistake! It was the
bay of a hound, and it was coming nearer!

“There’s only one dog, though,” said Bennie. “What’s the matter with the
others?”

“Probably old Ben has got ahead of the others, or they’ve got off on
another track,” said Spider. “Let’s wait and see if it stops in one
place. That’ll mean Ben’s treed the bear, I guess. Then we can go there
and not get lost again.”

“Maybe _you_ can,” said Dumplin’. “I couldn’t go anywhere now, ’cept on
a stretcher.”

“We’ll leave you here then—the air’s fine,” said Bennie.

The baying didn’t stop in one place, however, for ten or fifteen
minutes. It seemed to be moving up and down the mountain. Finally,
however, it came from a single direction, seemingly only a quarter of a
mile to the right, and down the mountain a bit, and the boys thought
they detected a change in the sound. They also could now hear a second
dog.

“I bet old Ben has treed him!” Bennie cried, “and one of the other pups
has caught up! Come on, let’s go see!”

“Just us, a couple of dogs, and no gun, against a bear? No, thank you!”
exclaimed Dumplin’.

“Well, I don’t live in Oregon,” Bennie replied, “but I know that when a
bear is treed by a dog, he stays up the tree. Anyhow, I’m going to take
a chance. You can stay here alone, if you want to. I’m going to see that
old bear. That’s what we came here for.”

He got up and untethered his horse, climbing stiffly and with a groan
into the saddle. Spider followed him.

“Oh, well, if you go, I’m going—if I can ever get aboard that beast,”
said Dumplin’. “Gee, he’s about a thousand feet high!”

Bennie led the way toward the sound of the barking, which was still in
one place, but not so loud now, and very hoarse. They had three ravines
to cross, but in their excitement they didn’t think about the fresh
tears and scratches. In fifteen minutes they came very near the sound of
the barking. A moment later they broke up out of a lodge-pole thicket to
find old Ben running ’round and ’round the trunk of a huge yellow pine,
his bark almost gone, like the voice of a man who has been making too
many speeches, nothing much left but a hoarse whisper, while Cap was
standing with his front paws up the trunk as high as he could reach.

The boys looked up the tree and gave a wild yell, while old Ben, seeing
them there, sprang at the tree with renewed life, as if he were trying
to climb it, too, to show them he really wasn’t winded after all. Far
up, sixty or seventy-five feet from the ground, in the crotch of the
first big limb, lay a black bear. His forepaws were hugging the limb,
his head was poked over, his tongue kept hanging out, and they could see
his little eyes looking at them. Since they had no gun, he was perfectly
safe as long as he cared to sit there, and he appeared to know it.

“There’s nothing for us to do but wait for the rest,” said Bennie.
“Golly, he’s a big bear! I wonder what he weighs?”

“I hope he stays where he is,” Dumplin’ put in.

“Come on, let’s tie our horses and sit down and wait. Oh, boy, we beat
the others to the bear!”

“No, sir, I sit here. My horse can go faster’n I can. Two dogs aren’t
big enough, all alone, to tackle that bear if he starts coming down.”

“Maybe you’re right at that,” Bennie admitted. “But, say, we’ve sure got
one on the rest when they show up! We’ll tell ’em we kept right on old
Ben’s heels, and beat ’em to it!”

“We’ll tell ’em so,” Spider grinned. “But if you think you can put it
over on Mr. Vreeland you’ve got another guess coming.”

So they attempted to sit on their horses near the tree, but the horses
had something to say about that. Some downward current of air brought a
sudden bear scent to them, and they began to rear and back and wheel, so
that all three boys jumped off as quickly as they could, and led the
twitching animals a long way down the slope and tied them. They hadn’t
realized before how much a horse fears the smell of bear.

“I nearly got spilled before I could get my foot out of the stirrup,”
Bennie said. “Thought I was a goner for a minute.”

“Me too,” said Dumplin’. “This isn’t so much fun as it’s cracked up to
be. Gee, I wish I knew how to ride the way Mr. Vreeland does! He’d just
have _made_ his horse stand still.”

As they were walking back they heard at last the bay of the other two
dogs, and then the far-off sound of a horse crashing through
lodge-poles. In two minutes the other dogs joined Ben in a dance below
the big tree, and in two minutes more Mr. Vreeland and Tom rode up.
Behind them, down the mountain, could be heard Pep’s and Mr. Stone’s and
the doctor’s horses.

Mr. Vreeland didn’t see the boys at first, because they hid behind some
bushes.

“Are the doctor and the camera man behind?” they heard him ask Tom. “Too
bad the kids had to drop out. We’ll have to go hunting for them after
Mr. Bear’s disposed of. They’re wandering around lost, I suppose.”

“Is that so?” cried the boys, jumping up from behind the bush.

“Well, I’m darned!” Mr. Vreeland exclaimed. “How did you get here?
Where’s your horses?”

“Down the slope—tied,” said Bennie. “We kept right on old Ben’s heels.
How’d you lose the trail? Get off on a false scent? Too bad!”

Mr. Vreeland fixed Bennie with a cool look, which had a twinkle behind
it.

“Were you huntin’ the bear, or was he huntin’ you?” said he. “I used to
know a nigger down South, where I was once, who always went out behind a
fox hunt, and sat down after a bit, and waited for the fox to come
trottin’ back. He’d get the fox, and the rest would get the exercise.
They had to do somethin’ kind o’ drastic to that nigger.”

(“I told you so!” Spider laughed at Bennie. “Can’t fool him.”)

“You look as if the bear caught you, too,” Mr. Vreeland went on. “Did he
make those scratches with his claws? He’s got nice claws.” (This last as
he cast a contemplative glance up into the tree.)

“Just the same, we beat you to the old bear, however we did it,” Bennie
grinned. “Who’s going to shoot him?”

“Well, if you got here first, you can take a crack,” Mr. Vreeland said.
“Wait till the camera man comes. I hear ’em now.”

A minute later the doctor and then Mr. Stone and Pep came into the
clearing. They were not torn and scratched so much as the boys, but much
more than Mr. Vreeland and Tom. And they were even more surprised to
find the boys there. However, there was no time for talk. The horses
were dancing with nervousness, the dogs were jumping against the tree,
and the hear was moving on the limb as if he contemplated climbing
higher. Mr. Stone unlimbered his camera, Spider walked off into the
woods because, he declared, he refused to see a fine animal shot in cold
blood, and Bennie, armed with a rifle, was told to fire, aiming at the
base of the brain.

He sighted and pulled the trigger, trembling with nervousness for fear
he wouldn’t make a good shot. The kick of the gun staggered him for an
instant, but as soon as he caught himself he stared into the tree, to
see the bear snarling with pain and rage, but still crouched, alive, on
the limb.

Bennie handed the rifle hastily to his uncle. “You do it!” he cried.
“Gosh, all I’ve done is hurt him. I don’t want to mess the poor thing up
any more.”

“Well, of all the——” Mr. Vreeland began.

“Shoot him, Vreeland,” said the doctor, sharply. “I’m no hunter.”

The old man raised his rifle, sighted it so quickly that it seemed part
of the same motion, and there was a sharp crack. The bear seemed to
spring right off the limb and fell, a black ball of fur, seventy feet to
the ground.

The dogs were on it in a second, as its paws gave one or two feeble and
undirected swipes. Then it lay dead. The dogs were called off, and
promptly lay down, panting and exhausted. Bennie wanted to go away
somewhere and lie down, too. He felt sick. He had thought it would be
wonderful sport to kill a big bear, but now that he had pumped a bullet
into it, and then seen the creature, helpless and defenseless, come
crashing down dead out of the tree, the fun was gone. If the bear had
been attacking him, or even attacking anybody, it would be different.
But just to shoot it in cold blood, for the sake of killing something,
suddenly struck Bennie as a low down, cruel trick. He felt the way
Spider always felt. He’d never been able to understand Spider’s point of
view before, but now that he had pumped a bullet into the bear, he
understood. He thought of their talk about the deer that morning by the
rim of Crater Lake.

But Mr. Stone was calling. He’d got a fresh roll of film into his
camera, and wanted to take the whole party around the dead bear. Tom and
Mr. Vreeland propped the big brownish-black body up into a sitting
posture, Bennie stood beside it, with a gun in his hand, and Dumplin’,
with a grin on his face, walked up, grasped the bear by the paw, and
shook hands with a great show of friendliness.

“You weren’t planning to do that about twenty minutes ago,” came the
voice of Spider, returning to the scene.

“Neither was the bear,” Dumplin’ answered.

Tom, Mr. Vreeland and the doctor now set about skinning the carcase,
which weighed, the hunter estimated, about three hundred pounds. After
that the doctor opened the stomach.

Bennie watched this operation for a moment, and then turned quickly
away.

“What’s the matter?” his uncle asked.

“It—it isn’t what you’d call real sweet and pretty,” said Bennie.

“You’ll never make a doctor, then,” said his uncle.

“Not a bear doctor, anyhow,” Bennie laughed.

But Spider stood right by. He was intensely interested to see what the
doctor found.

“Any evidences of a predatory diet?” he demanded.

“Of a _what_?” said Dumplin’ and Bennie. “Say, Mr. Peters, did you bring
a dictionary?”

The doctor was looking carefully into the opened stomach.

“As far as I can see,” he answered, “this bear was living on vegetable
food, for the past day or two. No trace of bones, feathers or meat. I
should say he’d been feeding on berries.”

“Why does the government want ’em killed, then?” cried Spider.

“Why not? What good do they do?” Mr. Vreeland cut in. “Seems to me you
boys are about the most tender-hearted people I ever stacked up against.
What do you want to do, spoil all sport?”

“It’s just as much sport hunting with a camera,” Spider replied, “and a
lot more dangerous, if you aren’t armed, and takes a heap more patience
and skill.”

“Yes, and what do you get?”

“You get a picture—if you’re lucky—and you leave the animal alive for
the next man to see.”

Mr. Vreeland grunted in disgust, scraped all the fat he could off the
big, heavy skin, folded it up, put it over his saddle, and called his
dogs. The boys got their horses, and the tired, hungry party rode down
the mountain, following an open ridge to the meadows, and then trotted,
lame and sore, to their camp. After a hasty meal, they rode back to the
ranch. The doctor paid Mr. Vreeland for the trip, and insisted on giving
him something for the bearskin beside, because it was his shot which
brought down the bear. Then they all stood by while Pep struggled to get
Methuselah started, and presently were out on the road again, headed for
Bend.

Bennie sank back into the deep cushions of the motor with a huge sigh.

“Oh, boy!” he said, “p’r’aps these cushions don’t feel good! The last
five miles, my saddle was made of cast iron. I’m dead to the world.”

“How far did that bear travel before he was treed?” asked Spider.

“I’d say he probably ran fifteen miles,” said the doctor. “It was
enough, and lucky for you boys he doubled around, or you wouldn’t have
seen him. I’m pretty sore and tired myself.”

“What I don’t get,” said Bennie, “is how Mr. Vreeland and Tom rode right
through those pine thickets without getting torn to pieces. Gee, I’ve
got to buy a new cap and a pair of trousers and a shirt in Bend before I
can gladden the public eye.”

“They know how,” the doctor laughed. “After a while, you learn to
estimate how much room there is, as well as the horse does, and protect
yourself in advance.”

“It was an awful lot of fun,” Spider continued—“all but shooting the
bear. I think it is wicked to kill off all the wild animals, when they
are harmless. Pretty soon we won’t have any wild life left. The bears
_must_ be harmless, because they don’t shoot ’em in the national parks,
and nobody gets hurt, and the other game is thick. Mr. Vreeland thinks
I’m chicken-hearted, I could see that. But I can’t help it. It’s not
because I’m chicken-hearted. It’s because I love the woods and the wild
animals in ’em, and hunting with a gun strikes me as kind of silly and
wicked.”

The doctor drove in silence for a minute. Then he said, “I feel more or
less as you do. But you must remember this: Vreeland is an old man who
was brought up on the frontier. When he was a boy he had to hunt to get
fresh meat. Game was as thick as huckleberries then. There were even
grizzlies here in Oregon. It seems perfectly natural to him, and he
can’t understand why eastern people, or any people, shouldn’t want to
hunt. He can’t understand the word _conservation_ at all. But you young
fellows, who are born later, into a world where most of the game has
been killed off, and most of the forest cut down, don’t want to see less
wild animals and less woods—you want to see more. Your point of view is
just the opposite of his. Conservation has got to be preached and
practised by the young chaps. The old fellows don’t understand it. They
think a man is afraid, or chicken-hearted, if he won’t shoot a wild
animal. That’s why I want to see the Boy Scouts learn all about
conservation, and help in the good work.”

“You bet!” said Bennie. “When that old bear kind of looked at me and
groaned, when I hit him, something turned over in the pit of my tummie.
I guess he had as good a right to live as I have. But I’ll sure need his
old skin to cover me, if the stores are closed when we get to Bend. I
got to have some new pants.”

“It’s Saturday. They’ll be open all the evening,” Uncle Billy laughed.

All three of the boys had to buy new khaki breeches when they reached
Bend, and new flannel shirts, and Bennie had to get a cap. The doctor
gave them some salve and plaster for their cuts and scratches, and after
a bath they were ready to eat everything the waitress brought to the
table.

“And now,” said Mr. Stone, after dinner, “shall we all go to the
movies?”

Dumplin’ gave his father one look of scorn.

“Bed!” he groaned.

“Bed!” said Bennie.

“Bed!” said Spider.

But Pep, who had stayed to dinner with them, said, “I’ve got to hunt up
the editor of the _Star_, and tell him about this hunt—good story—more
advertising for Bend.”

“Don’t forget to tell him how the three brave boys, alone and unarmed,
got to the bear long before the skilled hunters,” said Bennie.

“I’ll tell him _exactly_ how they did it,” Pep laughed, as he said good
night.



                               CHAPTER XX
      Bennie Achieves a Dog, and the Party Puts Out a Forest Fire


The next day, Sunday, they stayed in Bend, and, to tell the truth, the
boys were just as well pleased. They were all three sore and stiff.
Dumplin’ had a cut on his knee, Spider’s shoulder ached where a dead
pine limb had torn both his shirt and his skin, and Bennie had three big
black and blue bruises on his legs. The two scouts spent most of the day
writing letters home, and also writing up the account of their long hike
at Crater Lake, to Mount Scott, as part of the examination for a merit
badge in hiking. Spider also studied his government pamphlet on Oregon
trees, which he had bought at the Crater Lake Inn. Uncle Billy said that
when they got into the heart of the Cascades they would encounter a
great number of different kinds of trees, and Spider was determined to
identify them.

While they were busy with this, Uncle Billy was busy at the telephone,
arranging with a man who lived at Sisters, a little town nearer the
mountains, to meet them Monday morning with a pack train, and take them
in to Mount Jefferson.

“I don’t know whether we are going to get to Mount Jefferson or not,”
the doctor said at luncheon. “Norman tells me the snow up here was even
heavier last winter than it was at Crater Lake. He says he tried to get
over the Divide to Jefferson yesterday, by the short way, and the snow
blocked him. We’ll have to go in past Marion Lake. That’ll take three
days, and maybe we won’t get there that way. I certainly never knew so
much snow at this time of year.”

He was wiping the perspiration off his forehead as he spoke, which made
everybody laugh. But they could look out of the big plate glass window
at the west end of the dining-room and see, fifty miles away, the
white-clad summits of the Three Sisters, three big mountains side by
side, shining in the sun.

“Are we going to be on horseback all this trip to Jefferson?” Dumplin’
asked plaintively.

“You can walk if you want to,” his father smiled.

“I feel now as if I’d have to,” Dumplin’ sighed. “Wish they made
pneumatic saddles.”

That afternoon, between trips to the garage to pack the cars, and trips
to the drug store to buy Spider a note-book for his tree observations,
and to get ice cream sodas, Bennie acquired a dog. Maybe it would be
more truthful to say that the dog acquired Bennie. He was a young dog,
hardly more than a puppy, one of those very small collies which the
western sheep men use in herding their flocks. Dumplin’ called him a
half portion dog. The poor little chap had evidently lost his master, or
else he had wandered away from home. He didn’t seem to worry much,
however. What he was plainly looking for was somebody, anybody, who
would be kind to him. He trotted up and down the street, following
different people and trying to attract their attention.

The second time Bennie saw him, he said, “I don’t believe that dog’s got
a master. He’s looking for a kind home. Come here, Towser.”

He whistled to the pup, and the dog came bounding up to him, tail
wagging madly, and crouched puppy fashion at his feet. When Bennie
stooped to pat him, he sprang up, put his forepaws on the scout’s chest,
and tried to lick his face.

“Gosh, you nice little mutt!” Bennie exclaimed. “I sure like dogs, and
you’re a regular dog.”

To this the dog replied with a whine of joy, and from that moment he
clung to Bennie like a brother.

“Now you got him, what you going to do with him?” Spider asked, as the
pup bounded along beside them, fairly shaking with delight, as his tail
switched back and forth.

“Dunno. Get him some grub first, I guess. He looks awful thin.”

Bennie went around to the hotel kitchen and begged some meat scraps,
which the pup devoured greedily. After that, he tried to follow Bennie
into the hotel. No dogs were allowed inside, however.

“I guess he’ll go away now,” Bennie said, shutting the door in the poor
dog’s face.

But when they came out from dinner the dog was still lying in front of
the door, and as Bennie went out to the sidewalk he leaped upon him,
trying to lick his face. He settled down on the door-mat when the boys
went in for the night, and the last thing they saw was his face looking
in at them through the screen, his eyes reproachful and sad at being
left out.

And when they came down at six in the morning, he was still there! At
sight of Bennie, he emitted a glad yelp and began scratching at the
door.

“Say, that pup is certainly fond of me,” Bennie said, going out and
petting it. “Can’t I take him along, Uncle Billy?”

“Not a chance,” the doctor answered. “We’ve got troubles enough.
Besides, he probably belongs to somebody here in Bend. He’ll go home
when we’ve gone.”

When they were putting the last of the baggage into the cars in front of
the hotel the dog leaped into the doctor’s car and sat on the driver’s
seat, wagging his tail furiously, as much as to say, “Well, well, I’m
all ready to start; hurry up!”

He had to be put out three times before the cars were ready. When the
order came to start, Bennie hugged him hard, while the pup licked at his
face.

“Good-bye, you little mutt, you,” said he. “If my uncle wasn’t a
flinty-hearted old thing, we’d take you along.”

Then Bennie climbed over into the car, and they were off for Mount
Jefferson. They ran north out of Bend, and then turned west, toward the
distant mountains. In the early morning light, clear as a bell, they
could see the snow-clad peaks rising against the sky, all the way from
the Three Sisters in front of them to Mount Hood, a hundred miles to the
north. More than fifty miles away, northwestward, rose the sharp,
glittering white pyramid of Mount Jefferson, their objective. It was
their first sight of it, and the doctor slowed down the car so they
could have a good look.

And as he did so, they heard a little yip beside the car—and there was
the pup, his tongue hanging out, his chest heaving, but his eyes fixed
on Bennie in triumph!

“Oh, Uncle Billy, the poor little mutt!” Bennie cried. “Some speed, I’ll
say. He’s going to follow us till he runs his head off. Can’t I take him
in?”

The words were hardly out of his mouth, and the doctor had no time to
reply, before the pup, with one spring, landed in Bennie’s lap.

“Looks as if you _had_ taken him in,” the doctor grinned. “Well, let him
stay now. But you’ll have to feed him out of your own rations. We can’t
pack food for a dog.”

The dog, with wiggles of his tail and body that expressed his joy as
plainly as any words could, snuggled down in Bennie’s lap and tried to
lick him.

“What are you going to name him?” Dumplin’ called out from the other
car.

“I guess his name is Mutt,” Bennie laughed.

“Seeing’s how we are going to Jefferson, better call him Jeff,” Dumplin’
retorted.

“Jeff it is,” Bennie answered, grinning at the joke. “Good old Jeff! I
bet he’s a good dog. I bet he can round up a flock of sheep. I’m going
to take him home when we go.”

“How pleased your mother will be,” said his uncle.

The cars started up again now, and they rode for almost fifty miles
northwestward, getting presently into the yellow pine forests and then
the foot-hills, so that Jefferson disappeared entirely from view. At
last the doctor turned his car down a side road, and stopped in front of
a small house, all by itself in a forest clearing beside a lovely little
river. Opposite this house was a barn, and in the barnyard was a herd of
horses.

“Allingham Ranger Station! All out! Far as we go!” cried the doctor.
“Hello, Norman!”

This last he shouted to a stocky young man, in khaki riding breeches and
leather leggings, who was standing by the barn.

Norman was to be their guide. The horses were his. With him he had two
more men, one to take care of the horses and one to cook. That made
eight saddle horses needed for the party. There were eight more pack
horses to carry the luggage. Although it was only 9:30 o’clock, it took
them till almost one to get the cars unloaded, and the tents, dunnage
bags, sleeping bags, provisions, cameras, alpenstocks, and so on, packed
on the eight horses. Bennie and Spider were of little use in this
packing process, because they knew nothing about it. They brought the
stuff to be packed to Norman and his two helpers, and watched them stow
it across the pack saddles, stretch a canvas over, and then throw a long
rope over the heap and under the horse’s belly, back and forth several
times, till, when it was finally hauled taut and tied, it made a large
diamond-shaped design of the load, and held it firmly on.

“Say, that’s a complicated process,” said Spider. “I can tie most knots
after I’ve seen somebody do it, but I couldn’t do that.”

“It takes some practice to throw a diamond hitch,” Norman laughed.
“Well, let’s saddle our old cayuses now.”

The eight riding horses were saddled, the boys each attending to his own
nag. But Norman inspected the saddles before they mounted, and tightened
the girths.

“Now, adjust your stirrups,” he said. “Don’t have them too short. Two
fingers between you and the saddle when you stand up is enough. We’re
not going to ride in Central Park this afternoon.”

“Where are we going to ride, by the way?” the doctor asked. “Any chance
of getting into Jefferson Park?”

“Not a chance,” said Norman. “We can’t even get in to Hunt’s Cove
direct, as I ’phoned you. We’ve got to detour around by Marion Lake. Too
much snow.”

“Hope he knows where all those places are,” whispered Bennie.

“But can we climb Jefferson from Hunt’s Cove?” the doctor asked. “Has
anybody ever done it?”

“Never heard of anybody. But we can have a look.”

“Why can’t you climb it from Hunt’s Cove—wherever that is?” Bennie
asked.

“Maybe you can,” Norman replied. “But it’s no picnic. Wait till you
see.”

“Well, I’ve been hearing about all this snow,” Bennie grinned, wiping
the sweat from his forehead, “for two days. I’d like to see some right
now.”

“Give us time,” Norman smiled. “And now we’re off. We’ve got fifteen
miles to make before dark.”

“But how about lunch?” Dumplin’ suddenly demanded.

“Marion Lake before dark!” Norman answered. “No lunch.”

Dumplin’ groaned.

“It’ll help you reduce, Dump,” Bennie taunted. “Gidup, Dobbin! Oh, gee,
where’s poor little Jeff?” And he began to whistle.

Jeff appeared with a loud yelp from the side of the stream, where he had
evidently been cooling himself. Shaking off the water, he dashed ahead
of the procession of sixteen horses, barking madly, and the march for
Jefferson began.

The trail lay through a thick yellow pine forest. This was a United
States government forest, so that the fire had been kept out and the
little pines were everywhere coming up under the old ones, much to
Spider’s delight. But the trail itself was dry and dusty, and their
noses soon smarted, their throats were dry. With the loaded pack horses,
they could not trot, but plodded on in single file, the dust rising in
clouds behind them.

They had been traveling perhaps an hour when Norman, riding ahead,
suddenly pulled up his horse, and Bennie, just behind him, saw him
sniff.

“What’s the matter?” the scout asked.

“I smell smoke,” Norman answered. Then he looked at the dust cloud
behind to see which way it was moving.

“We are going into the wind. Must be ahead,” he said. “You come on with
me. Let your uncle lead the train.”

He kicked his horse and dashed up the trail. Bennie kicked his horse,
and dashed after him, not at all sure that he could keep his saddle.
Strangely enough, though, he found it easier to gallop than to trot, and
found himself falling into the motion of the horse.

A quarter of a mile up the trail the smell of smoke was plain. Over a
knoll they dashed, and they saw smoke in the forest ahead. A moment
later they heard the crackle, and then they were on the fire. It was a
small one as yet, evidently just under way, but it was licking savagely
into the small trees and the dead stuff, all dry as tinder or else full
of inflammable pitch. And the flames were moving toward them!

Norman wheeled. “Go back!” he yelled. “Stop the train where it is, and
tell Joe to stay with the horses while the rest bring up all the axes,
and that camp spade in my pack. Then you go back as fast as you can to
the Ranger Station and tell the ranger. If he isn’t there, find him!”

Bennie wheeled his horse, and dashed back. He gave the message to the
rest, and kept on. Both he and his horse were panting, drenched with
sweat and thick with dust, when he reached the Ranger Station again. The
ranger was there, as good luck would have it. While Bennie watered his
horse, he telephoned for help; then he saddled and galloped up the
trail, with Bennie behind him, but some way behind, for Bennie’s horse
was getting weary.

When Bennie reached the pack train, Joe, the cook, had all the horses
lined up facing back toward the station, ready to retreat if the fire
came nearer. Everybody else had gone to fight the flames. So Bennie left
his horse, too, and with stiff, aching legs, ran up the trail. As he
drew near the scene, he could see, between him and the flames that were
still confined to the smaller trees and the stuff on the forest floor,
five men and two boys working like mad. Norman was digging a little
ditch, while the rest, with axes and scout hatchets, were chopping down
the small trees to make an open lane several feet wide. They had this
lane and ditch cut across the direct path of the fire, and were swinging
it around on each end, as if they were going to enclose the flames in a
big ring. Bennie grabbed a hatchet, and went madly to work with the
rest.

Nobody was wasting any breath talking. The fire was coming nearer all
the time, and the nearer it came the hotter they grew. But when, in the
centre, it reached the lane and ditch—and stopped, they gave a loud
cheer, and worked all the harder to get around the two sides before it
could spread out.

“If only the wind won’t change!” the ranger did say, breathlessly, and
then stooped to his work.

It is doubtful if they could have outflanked the fire, however, with
only eight pairs of hands, if help had not arrived. Half a dozen men
came galloping up, their horses rearing and snorting at sight of the
flames, and leaped off with spades and axes. With this new, fresh help,
the fire was outflanked on the two sides, and as it moved more slowly
back against the slight wind, they were able to get it under control.

When the danger was over, they paused, wiped their hot, dripping, dirty
faces, and looked at the burned area.

It was hardly more than an acre in extent, but an acre, as Bennie said,
is quite enough to dig a ditch around in a hurry, without proper tools.

“Thank the Lord it’s no more,” the ranger declared. “If you hadn’t
spotted it when you did, it would have worked down into those thicker
pines over the knoll, and then we’d have been in for a real overhead
fire, and no mistake. Once in there it would jump up into the big
fellows.”

“What I want to know is, what started it?” said Mr. Stone.

“Party went in ahead of you this morning, to fish at Marion Lake,” said
the ranger. “Cigarette, probably. Idiots! Snoop around there, Norman,
and see what you can discover tonight. I’ll be over in the morning
myself. I want to stick by here tonight and make sure this doesn’t blow
up again. Well, boys, Uncle Sam is grateful to you, all right!”

They went back to the pack train, and then resumed their journey,
crossing the black, smoking patch of the fire, and waving good-bye to
the ranger and his helpers.

“Well, there are two precious hours gone,” Norman growled. “We’ll have
to make camp in the dark.”

“But we stopped a bad fire,” said Bennie. “Aren’t you glad?”

“Sure, I’m glad. But I hate to camp in the dark. Get up!”

He kicked his horse, and all the train behind picked up to a faster
pace. They didn’t hold it long, though, for the trail began to go
up-hill presently, and the character of the forest to change. Instead of
the big yellow pines, the path rose into a forest of smaller trees of
many kinds, and shrubs, too. Spider did his best to pull off specimens
of the foliage or needles as he rode past, so he could identify them.
The guide would not let them stop.

Even at the top of the pass they were still in the forest, and could get
no outlook. But as the trail grew level again, on the pass, they ran
into snow-drifts and pools of water just melted. It was the first sign
of anything cool that day. Over the pass the trail began to descend into
a wild forest of big evergreens, and for the next few weary miles
Bennie, for one, had little idea of where they went. He was dizzy from
lack of food and his exertions in the heat, and he was so saddle sore
that he had to keep shifting his weight to try to ease the stiffness.
His bones and his head both ached. It was getting dark in the forest,
too, whenever they had to go down into the bottom of a ravine. Nobody
was saying a word, except, the horse rustler, who kept yelling at the
pack horses to make them hurry.

At last, when it seemed as if he couldn’t stand his saddle another
minute, and when it was so dark in the deep, damp woods that Norman was
almost invisible at the head of the train, they heard him call, “Turn
left,” and followed him down a side trail, so dim they would never have
detected it in the dark.

A moment later there was light ahead, and they were on the shore of
Marion Lake! The woods went right down to the water. There was no beach.
The lake itself was a good-sized pond, perhaps a mile long, and across
it rose up the snow-draped, needle-pointed spires of Three Fingered
Jack, nearly 8,000 feet high. Nobody looked at the view, however; there
was no time. The boys got out the tents and sleeping bags, the cook set
up the stove and prepared food by lantern light. The doctor and Mr.
Stone rustled wood. Norman and the helper took the horses off in the
darkness to find a bit of open pasturage if they could. For half an
hour, weary as they were, everybody worked like mad. And then, dirty as
they were, they all rushed to the stove at the cry of “Come and get it!”

“I was never so hungry in my life,” Bennie said.

“I ain’t hungry any more,” Dumplin’ replied. “I was three hours ago, but
now I’m past caring. I’m just a vacuum.”

“Stomach or head?” his father asked.

The food had been cooked in a hurry, but nobody cared. Eating by lantern
light and the glow from the stove door, they gobbled the bacon and
swallowed the coffee in eager gulps.

“Glad Ma can’t see my table manners now!” Spider remarked, his mouth
full.

When the meal was over Norman went off again through the trees to see if
he could find the camp of the fishermen who possibly set the fire, and
the rest lay on their backs by the water, discussing the exciting day.
Norman came back to report that three men were camping around a
headland, and he suspected one of them must have thrown away a
cigarette, though they denied it.

“And to think,” said the doctor, “that if we hadn’t come along, the fire
might have got a headway and burned thousands of acres, just because one
man didn’t have sense enough not to throw a cigarette butt into the
brush! Some folks ought not to be allowed in the woods.”

“Well, me for a bath and bed,” said Mr. Stone. “I don’t know which I
need more.”

The full moon was rising behind Three Fingered Jack when they all jumped
into the lake, which was surprisingly shallow near shore, and had a good
bath. Then they climbed wearily into their tents, and in two minutes
they were in bed. But no sooner had they got snuggled down in the dark
than there came a yell from the doctor.

“Here, get up, Bennie, and take that pup out of here! He’s licking my
face!”

“Oh, gee, he’s all wet, and he’s shaking himself on me,” from Spider.

“Aw, let him sleep at my feet, Uncle Billy,” from Bennie.

“No, sir; he’ll hunt fleas in the night. I want a good sleep. You get up
and take him outside!”

So poor Bennie got stiffly up again, and led Jeff out of the tent,
making him a little bed out of a canvas pack cover by the flap. Jeff
curled up contentedly, with a good-night lick and whimper, and Bennie
went back.

Already he could hear Spider breathing hard, and in one minute he, too,
had dropped off like a soldier after a battle.



                              CHAPTER XXI
    The Pack Train Has to Toboggan Into Hunt’s Cove, and Bennie Puts
                            “Action” Into It


The next morning Bennie expected to be sore and stiff, but somehow he
wasn’t. He felt fine. The day began at sun-up with a plunge in the lake,
and then an early start, because the horses hadn’t had enough to eat,
and Norman wanted to get to pasturage. It was a wonderful day for
Spider. They were now on the western side of the Cascade Divide, the
side on which the rain and snow falls all winter, so that the woods,
instead of being dry, were as rich and dark and damp as an Adirondack
forest. The yellow pines had vanished, but in their place were great
cedars, and stands of Douglas fir trees bigger even than those on the
way to Crater Lake. About the middle of the morning they picked their
way down a steep, broken, rocky trail into a cañon, and at the bottom
they rode for a long way through a forest of fir trees so big that when
anybody rode around one, both horse and rider vanished from sight! These
trees rose 150 feet without a limb, straight as masts, and they were
over 200 feet tall.

“Some shrubs!” cried Bennie. “My neck’s nearly broken trying to see the
tops of ’em.”

“How’d you like to shin up one, Bennie?” Mr. Stone called.

“I’d rather shin up it than saw it into wood for the stove,” Bennie
answered.

“Who owns these trees?” asked Spider.

“Your Uncle Sam,” Norman called back.

“I’m glad of that. I hope they’re never cut down. I wish everybody in
America could see them, and know what trees are!”

“A lot of people in America would think they were dead before they could
get here,” Uncle Billy laughed. “We are some ways from civilization,
Spider.”

At noon they came to a natural meadow, and pastured the horses for two
hours, while they themselves ate lunch. Then they pushed on. Late in the
afternoon, when the boys were getting saddle sore and weary again, and
everybody was hot and sweaty, Norman suddenly turned up the side of the
cañon, by a dim trail through the bushes (there were few trees on this
slope, due to an old fire). The trail was very steep, the horses sweated
and panted, the pack horses had to be tugged and driven. For an hour
they climbed, with frequent rests for breath, until the forests lay
below them and the tumbled cañons, and they came into an open pasture
near sunset time, a pasture full of glorious red and blue wild flowers
and rich grass. They crossed this toward the east, still climbing, and
suddenly came up over a crest into a second pasture, which was even
fuller of flowers, and was the top of the mountain they had been
climbing. But that wasn’t what made them pull up their horses and shout.

What made them do that was what they saw apparently only two or three
miles eastward—the great white pyramid of Mount Jefferson, covered with
cold, glittering snow, rising up and up against the sky, its summit
needle flushed pink with sunset! It was a beautiful sight, but it was a
tremendous sight, too. The mountain looked immense, terrific.

Bennie sobered after his first shout.

“Do you mean to say we are going to climb _that_?” he demanded.

“Surely,” his uncle smiled.

Bennie, for once, made no reply whatever.

They went into camp immediately, above a big, fine spring on a slope of
the meadow, which is called Minto Pasture. The horses were unsaddled and
unloaded, hobbled, and sent out to graze their fill. Tents were strung
between some trees on the edge of the big natural clearing. Dry wood was
gathered, and supper got under way. They were more than 5,000 feet up
here, and the minute the sun set it grew very cold, with a strong,
bitter wind blowing down from the snow-draped mountain. There were
snow-drifts in the woods beyond the spring. Everybody got into sweaters,
and huddled around the boiling coffee-pot. Even Jeff snuggled up close
to Bennie—but that might have been because he was hungry and was looking
for food.

He got the scrapings from all the dishes, and the last batch of
pancakes, which nobody else had room for, and then went bounding off
again, barking and wheeling amid the grass and flowers.

“Great dog, that!” Bennie declared.

“Well, here come some cattle. Let’s see how good a dog he is,” Norman
grinned, pointing up the pasture.

Sure enough, a herd of cattle, turned out to range wild during the
summer, was breaking out of the woods.

“They’ll be around all night, and walk all over camp, and get into the
spring, if we don’t chase ’em off,” Norman went on. “Sic your sheep dog
on ’em, Bennie.”

Bennie whistled to Jeff, and then pointed to the cattle.

“Sic ’em, Jeff! Drive ’em away!” he said.

Jeff gave a yelp, jumped madly around in a circle—and then ran barking
loudly directly toward a bird sitting in a low tree, singing its evening
song!

“Yes, that’s a great dog,” remarked Uncle Billy.

“He certainly knows how to herd up cattle,” Norman added.

“Maybe he’s a bird dog, Bennie,” said Spider.

“I know what he is,” Dumplin’ grinned. “He’s a Chickadee hound!”

“Aw, you make me sick,” Bennie retorted. “Just ’cause he’s a pup, and
hasn’t been trained yet. Come here, Jeff. Bite ’em!”

Jeff came back, as proudly as if he had herded the cattle instead of
scaring one small bird, and once more he had to be put out of the tent,
after everybody had got nicely to sleep.

The next morning the thermometer, which the doctor carried in a case
with his aneroid barometer, registered only 38° at five o’clock.
Everybody was glad to pile out and hustle around striking camp, to get
warmed up for breakfast.

“Now, gentlemen, we’ve got our work cut out for us,” said Norman, when
they were ready to start. “Everything has been a picnic so far, but now
we are going to run into the snow. I don’t know whether we can make
Hunt’s Cove or not. It will depend on how good sports you are.”

“If the last two days have been a picnic, I don’t know whether I want to
see your idea of working,” said Bennie.

“Afraid?”

“Afraid, your grandmother. But I sure am sorry for poor old Dobbin,”
Bennie retorted.

Old Jefferson, which looked so near, wasn’t so near as it looked, of
course. Mountains never are. They descended gradually from Minto
Pasture, through a “ghost forest” for two or three miles. A ghost forest
is a forest which has been burned, without consuming the standing
trunks. There the trees stood, thousands of them, but ghostly gray and
dead—not a live branch, not a needle. Beyond this forest, they came out
on a great plateau three miles wide, which was bare of everything except
low bushes, wild flowers, a few snow-drifts and lava heaps, and a tiny
brown tarn of water. The fire had done its work thoroughly here.

“Grizzly Flats, they call this,” Norman said. “But I guess it’s been a
long time since any grizzlies were seen here.”

“What a fire this must have been!” Spider was saying, when Bennie
suddenly cried, “Sh!”

“What is it?”

“Somebody’s following us over the trail on a motorcycle,” he answered.
“Don’t you hear?”

It certainly sounded that way. Far off they heard the roaring buzz of an
unmuffled engine.

“An aeroplane!” Spider exclaimed.

They halted, listening and watching. A moment later, flying fairly low,
the plane came over Minto Mountain behind them, and swept toward Grizzly
Flats. As if he saw them, and wanted to tell them so, the aviator
swooped a bit over their heads, then rose again, banked against the
white wall of Jefferson, and swung off to the north.

“_What_ is he doing here?” the boys exclaimed.

“It’s one of the new aeroplane forest patrol,” Norman said. “They go out
every day now, in the dry season, to spot fires. We haven’t had a bad
fire—not one of the old-fashioned big blazes, since they started in.
They can get up and see into all the cañons, everywhere, every day, and
get back with the tip in no time.”

“But what would they do if they had to land?” asked Spider.

“I guess it’s up to them not to have to land,” Norman answered. “I don’t
want the job—but it’s a great work, just the same.”

“Well, I’ll say war isn’t the only risky thing,” put in Bennie. “That
guy ought to have a medal for flying over this country every day.”

The plane had disappeared. They pushed on, and soon found themselves at
the edge of Grizzly Flats. Right below them the land dropped at an angle
of fifty or sixty degrees for a thousand feet, into a deep hole.
Directly across this hole it went up again, and up and up and up, for
the other side was Mount Jefferson. They were only a mile from the wall
of the mountain, but for all they could see, they might as well have
been a hundred miles. It looked quite impossible to take horses down
that slope. To the right and left were dense woods which the fire hadn’t
burned, and these woods were full of snow. The hole below them, called
Hunt’s Cove, was carpeted with snow. The great pyramid of Jefferson
opposite them was blinding white with snow.

“You wait here,” said Norman, “while I prospect.”

He went off to the south, into the woods, and they saw his horse
climbing up over the drifts. Uncle Billy got out his field-glasses, lay
on his stomach with his elbows firmly on the ground at the rim of the
precipice, and began a long, careful study of the slopes of Mount
Jefferson. He was very grave about it, and didn’t say a word, except now
and then in a low voice to Dumplin’s father. The three boys wandered
along the rim, wondering how Norman was going to find a way down. They
couldn’t see any trace of a trail. Wherever the slope was enough off the
perpendicular to hold a trail, it was covered with snow.

Norman didn’t return for nearly an hour. When he finally came back, he
said, “Well, I think I’ve found a way, if you care to risk it. I’ll risk
the horses.”

“As bad as that, eh?” the doctor replied. “Well, if you’ll try it, we
will. I think I’ve found a way up the mountain, too, though I don’t like
the looks of certain rock slides down that big west snow-field.”

“But why do we go on the big west snow-field?” the boys asked. “Looks as
if we could just go right up the southwest shoulder.”

“Look sharp at the summit pinnacle, Bennie,” the doctor said, handing
him the glasses.

Bennie looked. All he said was “Wow!” and passed them to Dumplin’.

“Do we climb _that_?” Dumplin’ demanded.

“We do, if we get to the top of Jefferson,” the doctor answered. “You
see, that top peak, or pinnacle, is absolutely straight up and down.
It’s just a slab of lava set up on edge and covered with snow and ice.
The only place it can possibly be climbed is on the northern end, so
we’ve got to get around to the northern end. My plan is to go up from
Hunt’s Cove by the southwest spur to the 7,000-foot level, where the
permanent snow begins, then traverse the big west snow-field and get up
on that first northwest shoulder, which apparently leads us right up to
the north end of the pinnacle. It looks possible. Well, Norman, we’re
ready.”

Norman led the way southward into the woods at the rim of the Cove. As
soon as they were in the deep shadows of the evergreens, they were on
snow, and deep snow. Some drifts were still as much as ten feet deep,
and so hard that the horses barely sank over their hoofs.

“The trail is somewhere underneath us,” Norman called back.

He traveled for almost a mile above the rim, and then led the way over.
By zigzagging through the woods, on the steeply pitched snow, they were
able to ride about half the way down. Then he called for them all to
dismount.

“Want to get a good motion picture, Mr. Stone?” he asked.

“Sure.”

The big camera was unpacked, and Norman and Mr. Stone disappeared with
it, down the steep pitch ahead. Ten minutes later Norman came back.

“Now,” said he, “each man lead his horse. Keep as far away from him as
you can, and jump fast, or he’ll step on you. Go in single file, and Joe
and Bill you go last and drive the pack horses ahead of you. Come
on—follow me.”

They pitched down a few feet through the evergreens, and came to the top
of a long, straight, open chute, like a ski run cut in the woods,
covered deep with snow, and descending 500 feet to the very bottom of
Hunt’s Cove. It was evidently the path of an old landslide. Part way
down, at one side, Mr. Stone had set up his camera, and was ready to
shoot them as they went past him.

“Ready? Go!” cried Norman, and over the edge he went, dragging his
horse.

Bennie followed, and Spider and Dumplin’ and the doctor, and the pack
horses, and the rest, in single file. Two jumps, and you were speeding
up. Three jumps, and the horses were going ten feet at a plunge,
snorting and slipping and sometimes going through the snow to their
bellies, and the boys, ahead of them, were leaping from side to side
madly to keep out of the way of their iron-shod, plunging hoofs.

As he passed the camera, Bennie heard the crank grinding, and the
laughing voice of Mr. Stone crying, “More action, Bennie!”

Bennie was about to make some reply, when his foot slipped, and he
turned a superb somersault, and only was stopped from rolling the rest
of the way to the bottom because he kept hold of his horse’s bridle.

It was all over in two minutes, but it was certainly lively while it
lasted. Then all the horses, their legs wet, shivering and trembling
with nervousness, stood huddled at the foot of the chute, and Mr. Stone
was seen descending with his camera. Bennie sprang back up the slope to
get the tripod.

“Say, that beats skiing!” he cried, “and I sure got some more action for
you, Mr. Stone.”

“You did,” the man laughed. “You did! That was the best action picture I
ever took.”

They found at the bottom of Hunt’s Cove a small open meadow, boggy now
with melted snow and full of white cowslips and running brooks, but
full, also, of fresh grass for the horses, and all around the meadow
deep forests of fir trees and deep drifts. Among the trees, beside a
rushing stream of ice cold water, and in a dry place between drifts,
they pitched their tents.

There was no danger of a fire spreading here, with the snow all around,
so they built a roaring camp fire between the tents, and while the
dinner was being cooked the doctor got from his pack a box of spikes,
and they began to fix their shoes for the climb.

Uncle Billy fixed his first, to show them how. As the heavy soles of his
boots were already studded thick with sharp hobs, he didn’t have to put
in any short spikes. But into each sole, with the help of a key wrench,
he screwed eight sharp steel spikes more than an inch long, and four
more into each heel.

“I’d hate to be catching when you tried to slide for home,” Bennie said.
“Those are wicked looking hoofs!”

“Now make yours just as wicked. And be sure you get the spikes in
straight and firm,” his uncle answered. “Everything on this trip so far
has been a mere picnic to what we are going to get tomorrow. It’s not
only going to be the hardest work you ever did in your life, but the
most dangerous. We can’t have anything wrong with our equipment.”

Everybody who didn’t already have plenty of sharp hobs in his boots also
screwed in a large number of short steel spikes, in addition to the long
ones. Then all the shoes were freshly oiled, to make them as nearly
water-proof as possible, and Uncle Billy got out the amber goggles, to
see if they were unbroken. He also produced a stick of grease paint.

“What’s that for? Are we going to act in a play?” Dumplin’ asked.

“No, but we are going to paint our faces, just the same. You’ll be glad
enough of this stick before the sun sets tomorrow.”

After supper the cook made ready six small packages of lunch, for Norman
was going to make the climb, too, and the doctor wound up his alarm
clock.

“Bed, boys!” he ordered.

“Oh, no, not yet!”

“Who’s captain here? Bed, I said! We get up at three o’clock sharp
tomorrow morning.”

“Say, it’s worse than a bear hunt,” Dumplin’ groaned.

“You’ll think it is, by the time we get back to camp tomorrow night,”
the doctor smiled. “I have a hunch that even Bennie is going to get
enough exercise, for once.”

“Ho,” said Bennie, “Uncle Billy’s trying to scare us! Can I take Jeff
along, Uncle, up his own mountain?”

“It might be a good way to get rid of him,” the doctor answered. “But if
you _don’t_ want to get rid of him, I advise you to tie him up in camp.”

“I wonder if Uncle Billy is trying to scare us?” Bennie whispered to
Spider as they got ready for bed. “Don’t seem as if the old mountain was
so bad as all that.”

Spider was very sober. “I had a good look at it through the glasses
yesterday,” he replied. “I don’t mind saying right now that it’s got me
scared. Remember those pictures in the book at home?”

“You mean the old Spitzes, and things? Sure!”

“Well, we’re going to get some of that stuff ourselves tomorrow.”

“Hooray!” said Bennie. “The real thing beats a book.”

But he began to think of the pictures as he was going to sleep, pictures
of men clinging to precipices with awful depths below them, and in his
dreams he was falling, falling, falling——



                              CHAPTER XXII
   The First Attempt at Jefferson—Dumplin’ Almost Falls to Death—the
                     Hardest Work the Boys Ever Did


He was falling into a terrible black cañon where there was a loud noise
of whirling water—and he woke to hear the alarm clock buzzing. The grip
of the bad dream was still on him, and he was shivering a little, as
Uncle Billy got up and lit the lantern in the tent. It was pitch dark in
the woods outside, and still as death. But as they dressed, the three
could hear Mr. Stone and Dumplin’ dressing in their tent, and then the
sound of the cook starting the breakfast fire. Those who were to make
the climb put on light shoes, for they were going to use the horses as
far as timber line. They came out of the tents wearing their heavy
sweaters, for it was bitterly cold, and washing by the brook was a very
sketchy job. Nobody even suggested a bath.

While breakfast was cooking, they huddled around the stove. Meanwhile
the horse rustler had gone up into the open meadow to round up six
saddle horses. He was bringing them back as they ate their bacon and
drank their coffee by lantern light, still huddled around the stove. As
soon as the horses were saddled, each member of the party put his lunch
into his pack, slung a canteen over his shoulder, tied his climbing
boots over the saddle horn, took his alpenstock in his hand, like a
lance, made sure he also had his colored goggles, and mounted.

“I feel like Sir Launcelot,” cried Dumplin’, tipping his alpenstock
forward, like a knight about to tilt.

“I’d hate to tell you what you _look_ like,” Bennie laughed. “Did Sir
Launcelot carry his boots on his saddle?”

Bennie was the last one into the saddle, because he had to catch Jeff
and tie him up. “Don’t let him loose till we’ve been gone a couple of
hours,” he called back to the cook. “Don’t want him to follow us and
break his neck.”

The sleepy cook grunted, and Jeff whined and moaned and tugged at his
improvised rope collar, as Bennie patted him good-bye and climbed into
the saddle.

It was still dark in the woods as they moved out of camp, but out in the
open meadow of the cove there was a kind of gray daylight. Norman and
the doctor led the way, putting the horses across the creek, and heading
them for the steep side wall opposite the chute they had descended the
day before.

This wall, when they came to it, was not so steep, however, as the
chute. It had once been burned over, too, so that there was no timber
except some dead, fallen stuff, and no snow. They zigzagged up it
quickly, and at the top, looking over a two-mile gentler slope of low
forest, they saw again the snow-white cone of the mountain rising up
against the sky—or, rather, they half saw it, for the white clouds were
swirling around it.

“They’ll lift with the sun,” said Norman. “Don’t worry.”

For the next hour, the horses plodded upward, over deep, hard snow,
packed in huge drifts under the evergreen trees, which got smaller and
smaller as they approached timber line. What had looked like an easy
slope from below turned out to be full of short but steep pitches, over
lava ledges, and if it had not been for the snow they could hardly have
taken the horses up without endless zigzagging.

It was bright morning when they reached timber line, on the southwestern
shoulder of the mountain, but as yet the sun had not reached them, of
course, being cut off by the great bulk of the cone. They tied the
horses to the last little trees, where the poor creatures would have to
stay, without food or water, till night. Then they put on their heavy,
spiked boots, shouldered their packs, canteens and cameras, the doctor
with his coil of alpine rope, and set out for the summit above them,
around which the clouds were scudding at a tremendous pace, driven by a
strong west wind.

“How high up are we now?” Spider asked.

“About 7,000 feet, I should guess,” the doctor answered.

“Then we’ve got about 3,500 feet to climb,” Spider reckoned. “That’s not
as much as Mount Washington from Bretton Woods or the Crawford House.
You climb 4,200 there.”

“It’s 700 feet less,” said Bennie. “Gee, I’m good at arithmetic.”

“The only difference being that this is the second hardest snow climb in
the United States (excluding Alaska, of course), and we are tackling it
by a route which, so far as I know, nobody has ever tried before,” the
doctor smiled.

“What’s the hardest?” Bennie asked.

“The north side of Mount Baker in Washington, up the Roosevelt Glacier,”
his uncle answered.

“You been up there?”

“Yes.”

“Gee, I’d like to!”

“Suppose you do this one first,” said his uncle, “and suppose you follow
me, instead of racing ahead.”

Bennie fell back into line.

They had reached a long, upward-stretching snow-field now, which the
doctor said was the foot of permanent snow. It never melted entirely
away. It was frozen now so hard that it held them up, and the long
spikes were needed, or they would have slipped. They had to jam their
alpenstocks hard down to set them into it. It led upward for a quarter
of a mile or so, to a spine of broken, naked lava. As they climbed this
slope, they could look back into the hole of Hunt’s Cove—or they could
look where the cove was. They could only see it by flashes, as it were,
because whole seas of billowing white clouds were driving in over Minto
Mountain, crossing above the cove, and hitting Jefferson just below
them. As these clouds hit, they seemed to get thinner, slid right up the
snow slope past the climbers, like white snow, and blew off into blue
space over the peak.

Spider, who was watching them slide up the snow-fields, suddenly cried,
“Look! Look at the summit!”

Everybody looked upward. The sun had evidently risen now, and as the
clouds reached the top of the mountain they ran into its rays. The angle
was just right to refract the rays down to the climbers, and the result
was that the summit peak of the mountain was haloed with a beautiful
rainbow. This rainbow lasted for ten minutes or more, and then the sun
got too high, and it disappeared.

By the time they reached the lava spine, the clouds were thinner, and
the wind had died down. They were warmed up with climbing, too, and took
off their sweaters. The doctor got out the rope, and proceeded to make
six loops in it, tied with knots which couldn’t slip. The loops were
about fifteen or twenty feet apart. He put the first loop under his own
arms; then came Bennie, then Dumplin’, then Mr. Stone, then Spider, and
last of all, Norman. Everybody then covered his face with grease paint,
putting it especially thick on noses and lips, and donned colored
goggles.

Then the doctor spoke. “Now, boys,” he said, “from this point on you
must obey orders quickly and without question. You must do exactly what
I tell you to, and nothing else. There are two things to remember, above
everything. Number one is this,—every second man on the rope must have
his stock driven in deep and firm, with a good grip on it, when the man
in front takes his stock out to make a step, and he mustn’t pull his
stock out of the snow till the man ahead has made the step and driven
_his_ stock in again. If you do that, you see, fifty per cent of us will
always be anchored, if anybody slips. If I find you cannot or will not
obey this rule, I’ll stop the climb at once. The second thing is:—never
let the rope get taut between you and the next man, so it can yank
either of you, and never let it get slack enough to trip anybody. Keep
it sagging, but not dragging. Now, all set!”

Uncle Billy spoke sternly. The boys knew he meant what he said, and that
it was serious business ahead. They followed him carefully down the
north side of the lava spine, and found themselves on a steep slope of
pumice and fine conglomerate, like a mixture of gravel and wood ashes,
hung at such a sharp angle that it just did stay there, and that was
all. It hung at what is called the angle of repose. As Uncle Billy
started out across it, to get to the snow slope beyond, Bennie noticed
that every time he put his foot down, the stuff below him started
slipping a little. Bennie looked down the mountain to see what would
happen if they started a slide and all slipped. A hundred feet below the
snow began again, and ran down for a thousand feet or more, smooth as
glass, and ended at the top of a precipice! Below that, all he could see
was a hole! Something went flipflop in the pit of his stomach at the
sight, and he looked quickly away, just in time to see that if he didn’t
step out, the rope between his uncle and himself would be pulled taut.
So he had to walk ahead, on to the treacherous slope. It was exactly
like running tiddly-benders on thin ice, only instead of the danger of
going through into water was the danger of starting a landslide and
going down with it. You could feel with every step the sickening start
of the slide.

However, everybody got across to the snow.

“Well, I’m glad _that’s_ over!” exclaimed Mr. Stone. “That conglomerate
is hung exactly at the angle of repose. One degree more tilt, and she’d
slide off into the cañon. Where do we go from here?”

The doctor pointed to the great west snow-field that lay between them
and a high shoulder, which extended toward the northwest.

“We have to traverse that snow-field,” he said.

Everybody looked at it. Between them and it were four or five little
snow slopes, each about a hundred yards wide, and separated by ridges of
broken lava fragments. The great west snow-field itself looked to be a
quarter of a mile wide, or even more. It was practically unbroken,
except for one island of lava near the middle, looked smooth as glass,
was tilted at an angle of more than forty-five degrees, and stretched
right up to the precipice of the summit pinnacle, and right down to the
top of the precipice which dropped to the cañon. If you slipped when you
were out on it, and started down, it was certain death. Bennie didn’t
need to be told a second time why fifty per cent of the climbers must
have their alpenstocks driven in at every step!

The doctor now took his scout ax out of the sheath at his belt, and
stepped out on the first snow-field. Being on the western side of the
mountain the sun had not yet touched it, of course, and even when he
drove his boot down hard, he could not make enough of an impression for
a good footing. So, holding his stock in his right hand and driving it
deep into the snow at each stride, he leaned down and with the ax in his
left hand cut out a chunk of snow—one blow inward against the slope, and
a second downward. This took out the chunk in such a way that a very
small but level step was made. He reached as far ahead as he could, and
the steps were three feet apart.

Bennie watched him carefully, glad not to look either up or down the
terrifying slope. While his uncle was cutting, with his stock driven in,
Bennie took a step behind him and drove his stock deep. Then he waited,
clinging to it, while the doctor pulled his stock out and moved one step
ahead. As the doctor cut and moved, cut and moved, Bennie discovered
that there was a regular rhythm to it, and the only way to keep this
rhythm unbroken was to pull your stock up at the right instant—that is,
when you saw the man ahead drive his in. If you delayed doing it, you
broke the rhythm. But to pull your stock up at the right instant wasn’t
so easy as it sounds. Once driven two feet deep into the packed snow,
the sharp point wedged there almost like a nail in wood. You had to pull
it out with one hand, and pull it out quickly, without stopping your
stride and above all without upsetting your balance on the tiny, icy
steps. It took muscle. It took a lot of muscle, and it strained your
back and shoulder.

When they all were across the first snow slope, and were resting a
moment on the lava spine, Uncle Billy said, “Well, Bennie, how do you
like it so far? Getting any exercise yet?”

“I always thought you climbed mountains with your legs,” Bennie
answered. “But I feel as if I was climbing with my back and shoulder.
Gosh, it’s hard work pulling that old alpenstock out!”

“They say a good mountain climber is a combination of a weak head and a
strong back,” his uncle laughed.

“Too bad, Bennie, your back isn’t very strong,” said Dumplin’.

“Well, if your back is strong, you’ll be able to scale Mount Everest,”
Bennie retorted.

They moved out now across the second small snow-field, and then the
third and fourth. They were working upward a little, as well as across,
and the summit precipices grew nearer. Bennie looked up once at those
cliffs towering almost over his head, absolutely precipitous and hung
with ice—and looked quickly down again. Jefferson hadn’t seemed very
hard to climb from a distance, but now that summit looked absolutely
impossible, and sure death if you tried it. He preferred to keep his
eyes on his uncle, who was methodically cutting steps across the frozen
snow.

They rested a moment, and took a drink from the canteens, on the last
lava spine before they tackled the big snow-field. Uncle Billy looked
out across it with troubled eyes.

“I don’t like those two chutes down the centre,” he said, pointing to a
couple of deep scars, like ditches, which started far up at the base of
the pinnacle cliffs, swept down the middle of the field, and only ended
at the top of the cañon wall far below.

“Nothing coming down ’em now,” Norman said. “I don’t believe there will
be till the sun gets around this side. It’s coming down tonight that
we’ll be in danger.”

“What has made them?” Spider asked. “They look like toboggan slides.”

“That’s about what they are. They are made by big hunks of lava and ice
breaking off the pinnacle and sliding down, digging a chute as they go.”

“How fast do the hunks travel?” asked Dumplin’.

“Fast enough!” Norman laughed.

But Dumplin’ didn’t laugh. He looked up that terrific incline to the
ice-capped summit precipices, and said, “Do we have to cross those
chutes?”

“We do if we want to climb Jefferson,” the doctor answered.

“Tell Mama I was a good boy,” Dumplin’ groaned.

“Shut up!” said his father, sharply. “Uncle Billy knows what he’s
about.”

Without further words, the doctor started out on to the big snow-field,
cutting steps as he went. Bennie followed, his arm and shoulder aching
now, his heart thumping a little in his chest as he thought of those
chutes ahead. When they reached the first one, it turned out to be about
six feet deep and eight feet wide. The sides were almost straight, and
the snow on the bottom was packed hard and smooth.

His uncle beckoned Bennie up to him.

“Drive in your stock,” he said, “and play me out on the rope. If we hear
anything coming, take up the slack, and haul me back to you.”

He started cutting steps down the side, across the bottom, and up the
farther side. Nothing happened, and once across, he cut a good firm step
to brace his foot on, faced back toward the chute, told Dumplin’ to come
up to Bennie, and then he took up the slack of rope between himself and
Bennie, while Dumplin’ played out the rope behind. In this way,
everybody got across.

“Well, that’s that,” said the doctor, with a sigh of relief. “Now for
the next one.”

The next chute turned out to be just about the same size, and they
crossed it slowly and cautiously, by the same method. Again nothing
happened, and soon they were at the lava island, which turned out to be
much nearer the northwest shoulder than it had looked. Here they sank
down on some firm rock to rest, and while they rested, the sun peeped
over the shoulder of the mountain south of them, and almost instantly
the snow all around leaped into a blinding dazzle. The boys, who had
taken their colored glasses off, put them hurriedly on again.

The doctor laughed. “Not much dust up here—the snow stays clean and
reflects the light,” he said.

“Pretty soon you’ll be yelling for more grease paint, too.”

When they started on again, it was boiling hot. In spite of the glasses,
their eyes began to smart, for the dazzle got in around the edges, and
their faces and necks to burn.

“And now the real business is beginning,” the doctor said, heading
directly from the lava island to the base of the northwest shoulder.

Bennie took one look at that shoulder, and cried, “Do we climb that?”

“Sure thing.”

“Well, if you say so, I suppose we do. But I’m no human fly.”

Ahead of them was an unbroken wall of snow, the side of a vast drift
which had blown over the shoulder. It was about three hundred feet high,
and the angle couldn’t have been less than sixty-five degrees. If you
will tip a board or a ruler up to an angle of sixty-five degrees, and
then imagine that slope to be hard, icy snow crust, with a drop of two
or three thousand feet to the bottom of a cañon below you, you’ve got
some idea of what the climbers were up against.

But the doctor went right ahead, cutting steps. He was chopping almost
opposite his face, the slope was so steep. Bennie, watching him, had to
tip his head way back, as you would to watch a man ahead of you on a
ladder. He kept his head tipped back, too. He tried one look
downward—and no more. All he saw was the top of Dumplin’s cap—and then
the white snow slope sliding away to the hole of the cañon. He swallowed
hard and bit his lips, which had already begun to swell and crack.

“I will _not_ get scared,” he whispered to himself. “I will _not_ get
scared!”

The dazzle of the snow was now right in their faces, because the slope
was so steep, and they could actually feel the reflected rays blister
their noses. Their eyes smarted, their lips were cracking. But nobody
had any time or chance to do anything about it. There was enough to do
without that. Every second man had to be absolutely sure his stock was
driven deep when the man above him took an upward step, and he had to
pull out his own stock and drive it in firmly on a level with his face
(no small muscular task) when it was his turn to take an upward step.
The doctor was cutting good, high steps, too, a couple of feet to a
rise. Bennie ached in every joint, and felt as if he were balancing on
the edge of eternity—as, indeed, he was! But he climbed grimly,
steadily, keeping the alternate rhythm with the doctor.

There was no chance to rest here. For half an hour they crawled up. Mr.
Stone said he’d like a movie of it, but there didn’t seem to be any way
to take a movie of it. It wasn’t safe for anybody to get off the rope;
in fact, it would have been sheer recklessness. Bennie was never so glad
of anything in his life as he was of his uncle’s call, “The top!” He
scrambled up over the edge of a great drift, and found himself on a
narrow spine of snow and lava blocks, a spine leading straight up to the
northern end of the summit pinnacle.

When the rest were over the rim, they took off the rope, and sat down to
rest on a lava platform. The wind had died down. It was calm and
cloudless now, and there wasn’t a sound in the world—not a whisper of
wind, not a bird song—nothing but the stillness of the everlasting
snows, and their own voices, which sounded strange up here, almost
startling.

The doctor took out his instrument for measuring altitude, called an
aneroid barometer. It showed that they were over 9,000 feet. Their
watches told them it was one o’clock.

“Wow, we’ve been climbing more’n nine hours since breakfast!” said
Bennie. “I wouldn’t have guessed it.”

“Funny, I don’t feel very hungry,” said Dumplin’.

“That is funny,” his father laughed.

“It’s the funniest thing he ever said,” Bennie added. “Didn’t hear you
making many jokes coming up that old drift just now, Dump.”

“You won’t hear me making _any_ jokes till we get down this mountain
again,” Dump replied. “Gee, my lips are all cracked, and my nose feels
as big as a house, and my back aches, and my eyes smart, and I haven’t
got any wind and—and——”

He paused for breath.

“But except for that you’re feeling fine, eh?” Uncle Billy smiled.
“Well, out with the lunches, everybody. We’ve got to eat and be on our
way. We ought to have got here by eleven o’clock. But maybe we can go
faster now. The snow is getting soft, and I won’t have to cut steps, and
the shoulder won’t be very steep.”

They ate their lunches, huddled on the shady side of the lava block, to
keep out of the sun glare, put more grease paint on their lips, noses,
cheeks and necks, and set out again up the shoulder. The sun had been
shining up here for several hours, and the snow was softened. Their feet
sank ankle deep into it, in fact, and in a short distance it had soaked
through their boots so that their feet were wet and cold, while their
faces were burning. The pitch of the shoulder, too, turned out to be
much steeper than they had reckoned. Even the doctor and Norman were
fooled, old hands that they were at mountain climbing. It was so steep
that the doctor kept them roped, and it grew steeper as they toiled
slowly upward, like tiny black ants on the vast white expanse of the
mountain. It was almost three o’clock when they reached a big jagged
pyramid of lava which stuck up above the snow, just below the summit
pinnacle, and found a level spot in its lee. Here the doctor gathered
them together into a group, and pointed to the pinnacle, without at
first saying a word.

Bennie looked up a forty-five degree slope of dazzling snow, frozen into
little wind ripples like desert sand, for two or three hundred feet, and
saw that slope end at the base of the pinnacle itself. The pinnacle, as
he could see only too plainly now, was a sheer precipice at every place
except the edge just above them. That edge—the north end, which the
shoulder they were climbing on led to, was just enough off the
perpendicular to make it a daring and desperate hazard. Even it, in some
places, looked perfectly straight up. And those places were not snow
covered, as Bennie could now see. They were just green, glistening ice!
The pinnacle rose thus for a full 300 feet, into the naked blue sky.

Dumplin’ groaned. “I can’t do it,” he said. “Honest, Dad, I can’t do it!
I didn’t say anything, but I got dizzy back on the shoulder, and my
head’s aching now. Gosh, I don’t want to look at it!”

He turned quickly away. Bennie started to laugh, but stopped himself
when he saw his uncle’s face.

“Sit down, Dumplin’,” the doctor said kindly. “You won’t have to climb
it. Rest a bit, and don’t think about it. None of us is going to climb
it.”

“Oh, why not?” Bennie exclaimed. “It doesn’t look to me as if anybody
_could_ climb it, but if they have, I guess we can, with you to lead us.
Gee, think of getting this far, and stopping!”

“How long do you think it would take us to go from here to the top?” his
uncle asked.

“Half an hour.”

“An hour,” Spider amended.

Norman laughed, and said nothing.

“It would take nearly two hours up, from this point, and two hours
down,” said the doctor. “If you boys were all skilled climbers, and one
of you could cut the steps, we might do it in an hour and a half each
way. But I wouldn’t let even Norman cut the steps on that pinnacle—he’s
not done enough ice climbing. And I’m pretty well fagged already.
Besides, it’s three o’clock. If we didn’t get back to this spot till
seven, where do you think we’d spend the night? Want to spend it up on
these snow-fields, with soaked shoes, and no food, no fire and no
blankets?”

“No, and I don’t particularly want to go down that shoulder wall and
cross those chutes after dark, either,” Norman said. “It’ll be dark
before we get to the horses if we start back now.”

“Give me one shot at the pinnacle, and I’m with you,” Mr. Stone said,
pointing his camera.

Bennie and Spider turned reluctantly away. It seemed tough to get up
10,000 feet, almost to the very base of the summit pinnacle, and then
have to turn back.

“It’s like being licked, when you still have a punch left,” Bennie said.

“We were licked by daylight, not by the mountain,” his uncle answered.

The descent of the shoulder to the lava block where they had eaten
lunch, which Bennie and Spider had expected to make in rapid time, was
just as slow as the ascent. The pitch was so steep that they did not
dare to come down facing forward. They had to face up the slope, and
sink their feet into their old tracks, as you come down a ladder.

At the lava block, Mr. Stone shifted to number one on the rope, so he
could be the first down the wall of the drift, and get a movie of the
rest. Bennie stayed at number two, Dumplin’ at three, Uncle Billy took
number four place, then Spider, and finally Norman. The doctor told
them, before they started down, how to make the descent, using the steps
cut that morning. You faced sideways to the wall of snow, drove in your
stock firmly, and then sank your left foot to the lower step, got a good
footing, sank your right foot also, and then pulled out your stock and
drove it home again lower down. Everybody was cautioned to keep the
rhythm, and not to pull out his stock till the man above had made his
step and anchored again.

When they were ready, Mr. Stone slipped over the edge, and Bennie had a
sickening feeling as he saw him disappear. When the rope was played
nearly out, Bennie started. That first step took his nerve more than
anything all day. With his stock driven into the snow at the very edge,
he had to look down to see where to place his foot, and in doing so, he
had to see past the step, fifteen feet down to the top of Mr. Stone’s
hat, and then 300 feet to the bottom of the drift, and then the long,
white shoot of the snow-field to the cañon hole! For one instant,
Bennie’s knees shook. Then he got a brace on himself, and began slowly,
cautiously, to creep down, testing each footing before he pulled out his
stock.

As soon as Dumplin’ appeared above him, he kept an eye upward, to make
sure that his stock was always driven in when Dumplin’ changed position.
And he soon found, too, that Dumplin’ was coming very slowly.

“Poor old Dump,” Bennie thought, “I bet he’s too fat for this kind of
work. I must be careful not to go fast, and yank the rope. Might pull
him off.”

They were about half-way down, and Bennie had just driven his stock hard
in, waiting for Dumplin’ to shift, when he saw the snow under Dump’s
foot beginning to cave. The step had melted since morning, and grown
weak, and the boy, besides, had got his weight too much on the very
edge. Dumplin’ felt it give, too, and with a little cry tried to get his
alpenstock driven in again.

“Dumplin’s slipping! Hold him, Uncle Billy!” Bennie called.

Even as he spoke, the step gave way, and Dumplin’s alpenstock, which he
hadn’t been braced to drive deep enough, gave way also. Dumplin’ began
to drop! Bennie saw him coming directly down. If he kept on, he would
hit him, and both of them would go! It was a sickening instant, while
Bennie leaned in against the snow, braced both feet, and clung with both
hands to his stock.

But Dumplin’ dropped only four or five feet, and hung there, against the
slope, while Uncle Billy’s voice came down, cool and steady, “Don’t drop
your stock! Get your foot back on a step, Dumplin’. Keep your head!”

It was all over so quickly that Bennie could hardly realize for a second
just what had happened. Of course, Uncle Billy had been anchored, and
when Dump slipped, he could only go the length of the slack between him
and the doctor! Bennie really knew that when he called up to his uncle.
But he had forgotten everything but his instinct to cling to his stock
when Dumplin’ had actually begun to fall. He felt suddenly sick and
faint.

Then he said to himself, “This is no place to be sick on! Get on to your
job!”

[Illustration: Looking Across Hunt’s Cove to Jefferson. Dotted Line
Shows Route of Climb. Arrow Points to Place Where Dumplin’ Slipped.]

He heard the doctor above and Mr. Stone below encouraging Dumplin’, too,
and he knew it was up to him.

“Some old rope, Dumplin’, if it can hold you that way,” he shouted.
“Come on, now, steady. I’ll kick the steps out bigger so’s they won’t
break again.”

He kicked and packed them vigorously as he descended, and soon Mr. Stone
was at the bottom, and he was within fifteen feet of it. Mr. Stone asked
them to stop for a minute while he got out of the rope and went fifty
feet out on the traverse, and took a movie of the final stages of the
descent.

When he got back, Dumplin’ was sitting on the snow, very pale, but
grinning as cheerfully as he could.

“Rope kind of yanked me under the arms,” he said. “But I’m all right. I
won’t be so dizzy now we’re down. I couldn’t see very well, and I guess
I didn’t get my foot far enough in on the step. It was looking down got
my goat.”

The doctor and his father patted his back, and once more shifted
positions on the rope.

“Once we get across those chutes, and it’s plain sailing,” Uncle Billy
said, as he prepared to start out across the big snow-field, on the
little path of steps he had cut that morning. Bennie noticed that there
was a red ring around his left hand, and realized that he had seized the
rope with a lightning twist when Dumplin’ slipped, and caught the weight
that way, before the yank came on his body, and before Dumplin’ could
get up speed.

“He’s some quick thinker,” Bennie reflected. “Gee, I guess you have to
be, in this game.”

They were now out on the big traverse. Their morning steps were melted
out deeper and larger, and they made fairly rapid progress toward the
first chute. Nothing had come down it while they were approaching, and
nothing came as the doctor crossed. But, once on the other side, he took
his large jack-knife from his pocket, opened it, and held it ready to
cut the rope as the others crossed, for if something should come down
large enough to stick up above the sides while the rope was stretched
across the chute, it might pull them all down with it. Nothing at all
happened, however, either here or in the second big chute. Once across
the latter, Uncle Billy gave a sigh of relief.

“Well, _that’s_ over!” he said. “Now we have plain sailing.”

Hardly were the words out of his mouth when they heard a crackle and
roar far up on the pinnacle precipice. Looking quickly upward, they saw
snow powder, like white smoke, rising from the base of the cliff, and
something descending toward them, not in the chute at all, but on top of
the smooth snow!

“Run for it!” Bennie instinctively cried, taking a step forward that
nearly yanked Dumplin’ off his feet again.

“Stop!” the doctor cried, in a sharp command. “Don’t you dare give
orders again! Don’t try to run! You’ll have us all down. Watch it, till
we see just where it is coming, and how big it is. Let it come between
us if we have to, and if it’s too big to pass under the rope, I’ll cut.
Stand ready to hold the rope up, or move as I tell you to!”

The thing was coming toward them, piling up snow in front of it. This
piling up of the snow impeded its progress and diminished its speed. It
had to push its way. Instead of coming a mile a minute, as the boys
expected it would, it came slowly enough to give them time to estimate
where it would pass.

“Move ahead!” the doctor snapped. “Easy, now—don’t try to run. Don’t
forget your stocks—don’t pull on the rope. Steady!”

They moved forward several steps, and just as Norman, the last one on
the rope, took a long, quick stride of two steps instead of one, the
great hunk of lava, as big as a molasses hogshead, went slowly but
inexorably downward, over the very spot where, a few seconds before,
they had stood! Slowly as it moved, pushing the snow ahead, and piling
it out on the sides, nothing could have stood in its path. They watched
it go on down, leaving a track two feet deep behind it.

“There’s chute number three just started,” Norman said.

They heard another crack and roar on the pinnacle as he spoke, and
looking up again saw something starting down one of the big chutes
behind them.

“Say, let’s get out of here!” Dumplin’ cried. “I don’t like this.”

“I’m not stuck on it myself,” Uncle Billy answered. “Forward, march!”

They plugged ahead to the first lava spine, and rested a minute, looking
back over the traverse. The sun was sinking, and its rays hit the slope
almost level, making dark shadows of their steps, like a long row of
dots out across the great field of white. These dots crossed the
traverse, and then went straight up the shoulder, and in that light the
shoulder looked as perpendicular as the side of a house.

“Did we go up there?” Spider exclaimed.

Dumplin’ took one look, and remarked, with such a heartfelt expression
that everybody laughed, “Gosh, I don’t believe it!”

But there was no time for a long rest. Tired as they were, they had to
keep on going, for they were still a long way from camp.

As they started across the first of the five smaller snow traverses, it
seemed to Bennie as if his back and shoulders were one big ache every
time he had to pull out his stock from the sticky snow. Yet Uncle Billy
was moving ahead with a regular stride, and he _had_ to get his stock in
and then out with one firm motion, or else lose the step, fall behind,
and make the rope yank his uncle. He gritted his teeth and told himself
that he _would not_ let that happen.

As they stepped up on the second lava spine, Bennie cried, “Hello, old
lava!”

As they reached the third spine, Dumplin’ cried, “Hello, old lava!”

As they reached the fourth, Spider cried, “Hello, old lava!”

“You boys seem to be glad you’re getting down,” the doctor called back.

“We’re glad we’re getting where we don’t have to pull these stocks out
of the snow in time to your steps,” Bennie replied.

“Sorry to go so fast—but we must get to the horses before dark,” his
uncle answered.

At last they were creeping over the treacherous slope of pumice, they
were up the southwest shoulder—they were on the lower snow-field which
sloped more gradually to timber line and the horses!

“Rope off!” the doctor called.

He coiled it up and hung it over his shoulder.

“Now, each man for himself,” said he, starting down with huge strides,
his boots sinking into the soft snow, which had been frozen crust that
morning, and keeping him from sliding. The rest followed. It was such a
relief to be free of the rope and the danger that they took a new lease
of life, and almost ran down the quarter mile to timber.

When they reached the poor hungry, thirsty, impatient horses, however,
the sun had sunk behind the western mountains, and the hole of Hunt’s
Cove was already dusky.

“Don’t change your boots. We can’t ride down as quickly as we can lead
the horses,” the doctor commanded. “Saddle them quickly, and come on.”

In the timber, too, the snow had softened, and the horses sank knee
deep. Bennie soon discovered that a horse, which scrambles rapidly up a
steep slope, goes very slowly down it, especially when the footing is
soft snow and he doesn’t know whether he is going to break through a
long way or not. The doctor and Norman, more used to the ways of horses,
and knowing how to manage them, were soon far ahead. Mr. Stone was
somewhere in between. The three boys were before long so far in the rear
that the leaders had vanished. Bennie and Spider could have gone a
little faster than they did, but Dumplin’ was about all in with
weariness, and they stuck with him. By the time they reached bare ground
at the head wall of Hunt’s Cove, it was so dusky they could just make
out the tracks. Below them, somewhere on the slope, they could hear the
leaders crashing down through the fire scar.

“Come on,” Bennie urged. “We got to hurry. Can’t see the track at all on
the bare ground. It’s dark down in the cove already.”

“I could hurry, but I can’t make this darn horse go any faster. Nearly
pulled my arm out dragging him,” Spider answered.

The three of them started over the rim, tugging at the reluctant horses,
who wanted to pick their way gingerly over the dead, fallen timber. The
long spikes in their boots, which had been so necessary up on the snow,
were a hindrance now. They kept catching in the dead sticks, and half
turning the boys’ ankles when they stepped on a hard piece of lava in
the dark. Several times they tripped and fell, scratching themselves.
Once Spider’s horse slipped, knocking Spider over and bruising his leg.
At the bottom, now, they heard the doctor calling to them.

“Coming as fast as we can!” Bennie yelled.

It was pitch black night at the bottom of the cove, in the heavy woods.
They could just see the doctor waiting for them. The minute they were
down, he led the way, after Norman and Mr. Stone, who had kept on to
camp. In the dark they couldn’t see the swampy places, or the little
brooks, and soon their boots, soaked all the afternoon by snow, were
full of water, and they were wet almost to their waists. They came to
the main stream at last, and mounted the horses, spikes or no spikes.
The horses reared and balked, and had to be kicked and driven into the
dark water, and nearly spilled their riders as they scrambled snorting
out on the farther bank.

Nobody had said a word for ten minutes, but now, through the black
forest ahead, they saw suddenly the red glow of a big fire, and Bennie
emitted a whoop.

“Hello, fire!” he yelled.

“Hello, food!” yelled Dumplin’.

“Dumplin’ has recovered,” said the doctor.

The boys dropped off their horses at camp—literally dropped off. The
rustler, who had stayed in camp, took the horses back to pasture, and
the doctor and the three boys joined Norman and Mr. Stone in front of a
huge camp fire, flopped wearily on the ground, and began to peel off
their boots and stockings. They took off their trousers, also, and got
dry clothes from their dunnage bags. Then, without even attempting to
wash the grease paint off their faces, they flopped on the ground again
beside the roaring fire, and let the cook bring them food.

“If anybody speaks to me before I’ve had a cup of coffee, I’ll bite
him,” said Bennie. “I was never so tired and cross in my life.”

“Nobody wants to speak to you,” Dumplin’ retorted. “Don’t worry.”

“And yet,” said Uncle Billy, “if we’d really got to the top, we’d be so
set up now that we wouldn’t mind the weariness. It’s like a crew race.
You’ll notice it’s always the losing crew which collapses at the finish
line.”

“I’d like to try it again, from a base camp at timber line,” Norman
said. “That would give us two hours more of daylight at each end. We
could do it easily with that.”

“If anybody talks about climbing Jefferson again, he’s in danger of his
life,” Bennie retorted.

“Well, well, Bennie has had enough exercise for once!” Mr. Stone smiled.
“He must have had—he hasn’t even spoken to poor Jeff.”

“Oh, gee, I was so tired I forgot him!” Bennie cried, jumping up with
sudden energy. “Where is he, cook? What you done with him?”

“Whined so I tied him up down the creek a bit,” the cook answered. He,
too, was cross, because he had to get supper so late.

Bennie grabbed a lantern, and went off into the woods, calling, “Jeff,
Jeff!” Those in camp heard a far-off yelp of greeting, and a few minutes
later Bennie returned, with Jeff at his heels, and lay down by the fire
again with the dog’s head snuggled up to him.

It was after ten o’clock when supper was finished. The six climbers took
enough water from the stove to wash the worst of the grease paint from
their faces, and without any further preparation for bed pulled off
their clothes, got into their pyjamas, crawled, stiff and lame and
aching in every joint, with cracked and bleeding lips, and red, smarting
eyes, into their sleeping bags, and almost before their heads touched
the little air pillows were fast asleep.

Bennie had started to remark to Spider, as he got into bed, that real
mountain climbing was the hardest work there was, but he forgot what he
was going to say before he could open his mouth. And, if he had said it,
nobody would have been awake enough to listen.



                             CHAPTER XXIII
                        The Summit is Conquered!


The doctor and Mr. Stone let the boys sleep late the next morning. The
sun was high when they finally arose, and tumbled out into the ice-cold
water of the creek for a good scrub with soap. After the bath, and a hot
breakfast, they all felt cheerful and fairly fit again. The aches of the
night before had somehow vanished, though their lips were still cracked
and their noses were peeling.

“By Jiminy,” said Bennie, as he scraped the breakfast plates to feed
Jeff, “I believe I’d like to climb the old mountain again, after all. I
sure do hate to go away from here and admit it beat us.”

“Me, too,” said Spider.

“Well, I know when I’m licked,” Dumplin’ put in. “I guess if you’d been
dizzy and if you’d slipped the way I did, you wouldn’t be so keen to go
back.”

“You’ve got more weight to cart up than we have,” Spider laughed.

“That’s no joke, either,” said the doctor. “Dumplin’ needs a lot of
training down before he tackles a climb like Jefferson. It isn’t his
fault he was dizzy, or that he got so tired. Some people are always
dizzy at high altitudes, anyhow. I wouldn’t let him try it again in his
present shape. But if you other boys are game, and Stone is game, I’d
like to tackle the mountain from a base camp where we tethered the
horses. That will keep us here two days longer, so we won’t have time to
get in to see Mount Hood close to. You’ll have to decide whether you’d
rather reach the top of Jefferson, or see Hood. Those in favor say
‘Aye.’”

“Aye!”

“Aye!”

“Aye!”

“Aye!”

“The ‘ayes’ have it,” the doctor laughed. “Well, Norman, we’ll take up a
tent and bedding right after lunch. We’ll sleep at timber line tonight,
and again tomorrow night. Have two horses sent up day after tomorrow
morning, at daybreak, to get the stuff, and have the rest of the train
packed and waiting at the head of the cove. We’ll make our getaway over
the head wall by seven or eight o’clock. I’m going to try to get out by
the short trail, day after tomorrow, snow or no snow.”

Everybody lay around all that morning, in the shade of the woods,
resting. After lunch, the largest tent, some grub, the sleeping bags,
and a few cooking utensils were packed on two horses, while the climbers
toted their climbing boots (now dried and oiled again), and a change of
clothes in their packs. Nothing else was taken except the necessary
climbing equipment—not even cameras. Dumplin’ went along to spend the
night with them, and have supper ready for them when they got down the
next evening. He was pretty blue at the idea of being left behind, and
kept saying, “I bet I could do it this time, and not get dizzy.” But his
father and the doctor wouldn’t say he could go.

They got the tent pitched as near timber line as they could find a
level, dry spot, and spent the latter part of the afternoon gathering
fuel and melting snow for water. The two horses, of course, had been
taken back down the slope by the guide. The six of them were alone, in
the chill silence at the edge of the eternal snows, with the mountain
rising right above them, white and naked, to the glittering pinnacle.
While supper was cooking, Bennie and Spider walked up a few hundred feet
on the lower snow-field, glanced back at the tumbled wilderness of
forest and mountain and cañon, stretching south to the white pyramids of
the Three Sisters, and then looked long upward at the pinnacle, pink
with sunset.

“Gosh!” Bennie exclaimed, “what a lot of wild country! Do you realize,
Spider, that we haven’t met a human being since we left Marion Lake?”

“You forget the chap in the aeroplane,” Spider laughed. “Well, we came
out here to see the wilderness, didn’t we?”

“You bet we did! And tomorrow we’re going to tackle old Jefferson again.
You know, I feel just as if it was a kind of fight. I bet other
mountaineers feel that way, too. That’s why it’s such fun.”

“_Other_ mountaineers is good,” Spider replied. “You talk as if you were
a Swiss Guide.”

“Well, I feel as if I could be one, when we get through with this old
ant-hill,” Bennie laughed. “I bet that pinnacle is going to be a
sockdologer!”

Spider’s face was sober. “I’m kind of scared of it, I don’t mind
admitting. I don’t blame poor old Dump a bit for getting dizzy. I don’t
get dizzy, but when I think how easy it would be to slip, I kind of get
hollow in the pit of my stomach.”

Bennie was about to answer, when he heard a bark down the slope, and
looking back saw Jeff bounding up the snow! The pup had broken loose
back at the camp (or the cook had let him loose), and he had followed
the tracks up here. He fell upon Bennie with yelps of joy.

“Well, that pup loves you, if nobody else does,” Spider laughed.
“Dumplin’ will have to sit on him all day tomorrow.”

With the setting of the sun, it grew very cold up here under the
snow-fields. They all huddled around the fire to eat, and soon after
supper took off nothing but their boots and crawled into bed with even
their sweaters on. The six sleeping bags had been packed into the one
tent, so there was no free floor space at all. The first man in couldn’t
get out without stepping on all the rest. Poor Jeff, driven outside,
snuggled down against the tent on the lee side, out of the wind, and so
the night was passed, none too comfortably by anybody.

They were up with the first daylight, built the fire, and cooked
breakfast. Then Jeff was tied with a piece of the tent guy ropes, and
Dumplin’ came with them as far as the southwest shoulder, where they
roped.

“Don’t let Jeff get away and follow us!” was Bennie’s parting word.

“He might use my alpenstock, and make it all right,” said Dumplin’,
trying to seem cheerful as he saw the rest leaving him. “I’ll watch for
you, and have hot supper ready,” he added, waving his hand.

“Good old Dump!” Bennie said, as they moved out on the pumice. “Too bad
he can’t come along.”

“He’ll be all right in a year or two, after we get the fat off him, and
get him hardened up. He’s grown too fast,” said Uncle Billy.

Whether it was because they were now more used to the trick, or because
Dumplin’ was not on the rope to hold them back, or because the steps had
not entirely melted away since the day before yesterday, making the
doctor’s work easier, or because of all three reasons, they made faster
time than before, and didn’t need to rest so long or so often. But they
had four rock chutes to cross instead of two. The one which had been
started by the big lava chunk which nearly hit them was now four feet
deep, and a fourth one had been ploughed, also. But nothing was coming
down them yet, for they reached the traverse long before the sun’s rays
got in on that side. They were up on the northwest shoulder at 10:30,
and at the base of the pinnacle at noon.

Once at the foot of that terrific incline, both the scouts felt suddenly
weak in the knees.

“Like the looks of it?” the doctor asked.

“I do not!” Bennie answered. “I’d about as soon try to climb the outside
of the Washington Monument. But if you say people have done it, I guess
we can. It’s a fight, and I ain’t licked yet!”

The doctor let them rest before they tackled the pinnacle, and gave his
orders. “I’ll go ahead and cut the steps. You, Bennie, will anchor, and
play me out the rope, and don’t you come on a step till I tell you. Then
Stone will play you out till you get to the platform I’ve made for you.
Then Spider plays him out, then Norman plays Spider out. We won’t have
more than one of the five of us moving at any one time, in other words.”

The doctor rose, and began to hack steps into the snow, in front of his
face, on the precipitous incline. He had to cut them deep, to get a firm
footing, and it was slow work. Before he was quite played out on his
twenty feet of rope, he cut an extra large step, like a little platform,
and then moved up a couple of steps, and told Bennie to climb to the
platform. Bennie did so, while Mr. Stone played him out. Then Bennie
anchored firmly on the platform, and let his uncle cut his way up
fifteen or twenty feet farther. Bennie then stepped up two steps, and
let Mr. Stone climb to the first platform. Once on it, Mr. Stone played
Bennie up, till he was on a second little platform, just behind the
doctor. Then the doctor moved ahead twenty feet higher, Bennie moved,
Mr. Stone climbed to platform number two, and they all anchored hard,
and waited till Spider reached platform number one. In this way, only
one man ever climbing at a time, with the rest anchored, they crept
slowly up the wall of icy snow. In two places, it was, in fact, not snow
but actual ice, and the doctor had to hack out the steps and could not
use his stock as he climbed. He had to depend on the spikes in his boots
entirely, because he carried no ice ax. Bennie, below him, watched with
terror in his heart, and clung to his alpenstock with a rigid grip. If
his uncle slipped, nothing would save him but that stock! If Bennie’s
grip gave way, they would both go, and maybe pull down all the rest!
Here was a battle indeed, here was a fight with the mountain where every
single step you took had to be just right, or you were gone! Bennie
didn’t dare look down. He kept his eyes fixed on his uncle’s boot soles
above him, and refused even to look off to right and left. He didn’t
dare.

They climbed steadily, and in silence, except for the orders to each man
when he was to advance. Their faces were set and grim. Bennie felt the
strain. He was getting tired rapidly, not from the physical effort,
which wasn’t really great except for the doctor, but from the mental
effort, the incessant concentration on every step he took. At last,
after an hour and a half, the doctor went over the top, and shouted back
a loud “Hurrah!” Bennie followed him over, and one by one the rest came
on, to fall at once down on the snow.

After a long moment, Bennie sat up and looked around him. At first he
felt as if he were riding in an airship in the sky. The summit cap of
snow was small, and on every side ended in a sharp edge—the edge of a
precipice!

“Look at old Hood up there!” his uncle cried, pointing north. “Seems
near enough to touch today, and it’s fifty miles off.”

“I don’t want to look at it,” Bennie answered. “I don’t want to look at
anything. Gosh, I don’t like this place!”

“I don’t care for it much myself,” Mr. Stone confessed. “You could roll
over twice here, and commit suicide with the greatest ease.”

“But we got here!” Spider exclaimed. “I’m glad we got here! We’ve beat
the old mountain!”

“Now you’re talking,” said Uncle Billy. “You’ll all like it better when
we are down again. Well, come on, let’s start then, if you don’t care
for my view.”

They now reversed positions on the rope, Norman going first, and facing
in against the cliff almost as you descend a ladder, crawled down as
slowly as they had crawled up. But it was even more trying to Bennie,
because he had to look down for each step, and he had to watch the man
descending below him, when he was anchored, in order to brace extra
firmly in case of a slip. He didn’t get dizzy, but at every step he had
to fight a kind of nausea, as if he was going to be sick, especially
when he was obliged to lower himself over the two ice walls, with only
his spikes to hold him, and the rope, played out by the man above. When
they were all at the bottom again, he felt faint, and sat down on the
snow a moment, to get back the strength in his legs.

“Well, boys,” he heard his uncle say, “you’ve done what mighty few
people do any one season. But we’re not through yet. We’ve got to get
home, you know.”

Bennie got up quickly. “I’m all right,” he said. “Lead the way!”

At half-past four o’clock they were back again at the point on the
shoulder where they lunched two days before, and here they rested
fifteen minutes, and ate the small portions of food they had brought.
Nobody was really hungry, however, and soon they were starting down the
drift where Dumplin’ slipped. Out across the traverse they went, got
over the chutes without accident, though twice they were barely over
when great toboggans of ice came whizzing down, and at seven o’clock
reached the southwest shoulder. Far below, at timber line, they saw
Dumplin’ building up the fire, and they saw, too, his tracks up here in
the snow.

“He was up here watching us crossing the traverse,” Bennie said. “He
beat it down to cook supper. Good old Dump—wish he could have been with
us.”

Off came the rope now, and with wet boots and cracked faces and aching
backs and smarting eyes, they half ran, half tumbled, down the last
snow-field to the camp, and walked into the odor of boiling coffee and
sizzling bacon, while Jeff, released from his tether, came yelping to
meet them.

“I saw you on top!” Dumplin’ said. “I spent half the day up on the
shoulder. I couldn’t see you climb the pinnacle, but I saw you on top.
You didn’t stay there long.”

“Bennie didn’t like it,” his uncle laughed.

“I’ll say I didn’t!” Bennie cried. “Gee, Dump, I’m not fat like you, and
I guess I’m in pretty good condition, but I kept feeling all the way up
and down that old pinnacle as if I was going to be dizzy the next
minute.”

“That’s not a matter of condition with you—it’s a matter of nerves,”
said his uncle.

“I felt so, too,” Spider put in. “Whenever I looked down, and couldn’t
help thinking what would happen if I fell, then I got kind of sick
inside. But when I was just thinking about my next step, I was all
right.”

“And nothing happened,” the doctor added. “Climbing is safe enough if
you know how to climb, if you are in good physical condition, and if you
can control your nerves. But you can no more tackle a climb like this
safely without a guide who knows the technique than you can fly an
aeroplane without practice. The accidents happen either to people who
try to climb without knowing the tricks, or to people who aren’t in good
shape for the hard work, or to people who can’t keep their nerves under
control and take each step slowly, carefully and firmly.”

“What made me so tired at the top?” Bennie asked. “I was twice as tired
then as I am now. Was it the altitude?”

“No,” said his uncle. “Ten thousand five hundred feet wouldn’t bother
you a bit. It was because you are still a green climber and you were
fighting your nerves all the way up the pinnacle. Nothing is such hard
work as fighting your own nerves.”

“Well, I’ll tell the world my old nerves put up a good scrap, then!”
Bennie laughed. “Anyhow, Spider and I aren’t so green as we were three
days ago. I wish the Boy Scouts gave merit badges for mountain climbing.
I bet we could get one.”

“Why don’t they give badges for that, I wonder?” Mr. Stone said.

The doctor shook his head. “Too dangerous,” was his comment. “How many
scout masters could you find who are really skilled mountain climbers?
Think what would probably happen if a green climber tried to take a
bunch of scouts up Jefferson. They’d all land down in the cañon. And
rock climbing is just as dangerous.”

“How would you get up the pinnacle if it was all ice, the way it was in
a couple of places?” Spider asked. “I mean, so hard, you couldn’t drive
your stock in, and the man below you couldn’t either?”

“You’d have to use ice axes,” the doctor replied. “An ice ax has a long
handle, and on the back of the blade is a long, sharp, slightly curved
point, like a railroad spike. You cut your steps with the blade, and
then you use this point, driven in above you, to anchor with. That’s
what they use in the Alps, where so much of the climbing is on glacier
ice.”

“Well, Spider, we’ll have to go to Switzerland next, and climb some old
glaciers,” Bennie grinned.

“And a few spitzes,” Spider answered.

It was bitter cold again that night, and soon after supper they all
crawled into their sleeping bags. They were so weary, however, that even
the cold could not keep them awake.



                              CHAPTER XXIV
Back Over the Divide—A Horse Turns Three Somersaults Down the Snow Slope


The doctor, as usual, was first up. He rose at dawn, got the fire and
the breakfast started, and then routed out the rest. The peak of
Jefferson above them was hidden in mist, and Hunt’s Cove below was
filled with white cloud, also. In fact, they looked out over a billowing
sea of white, with the sharp lava spires of Three Fingered Jack to the
south, rising up like an island.

“Looks like a phantom ship,” said Bennie.

They were scarcely through breakfast, when they heard horses coming up
through the timber, and soon the guide appeared, leading a couple of
pack animals to take the luggage down. An hour later they were once more
in Hunt’s Cove. The luggage was repacked, the boys unscrewed the spikes
from their boots and mounted into the saddle again, and Norman led the
way almost due south, following a trail up the head wall, instead of
trying to get back as they had entered across Grizzly Flats.

“We can get back to the cars this afternoon this way—if we can cross at
all,” he said. “But I won’t promise we can cross, doctor. A week ago you
couldn’t get up on the other side.”

“Just the same, we’ll try it,” the doctor replied. “Bennie needs some
exercise.”

For the next few miles they traveled through woods and across open
upland meadows, riding on deep snow. In the hot glare of the sun, they
had to put on their glasses again, and repaint their faces. Their lips
once more cracked open, and their noses were burnt a still brighter
brick red. Then they came to the crest of the Divide, below the long
south shoulder of Jefferson, and started down. They realized at once why
Norman said it was impossible a week ago to climb up here. There was a
drop of a couple of hundred feet where the trail was completely buried
in a huge drift, which, Norman said, a week before had an overhang at
the top, completely preventing any horse getting over. But this cornice
had now melted and collapsed. They dismounted, grasped their horses by
the bridles, and started down, taking the slope at an angle to lessen
the pitch. The saddle horses got down well enough, but the pack horses,
with the top-heavy loads on their backs, could not keep their footing so
well, and half-way down one of them fell. He turned three complete
somersaults as he pitched headlong. At first the load held, but at the
second somersault the hitch slipped, and out burst the load, scattering
and tobogganing in all directions—two rolled-up sleeping bags, a tent,
alpenstocks, a dunnage bag, a coffee-pot, and what canned goods were
still left in their provision supply.

[Illustration: Crossing the Divide near Mount Jefferson on July 25th.
Three Fingered Jack in the Distance.]

The terrified animal landed in a small fir tree at the bottom, scrambled
to his feet apparently unhurt—and made a dash right back up the slope!
His fall, his snorts, his sudden dash, threw a scare into the other
horses. The saddle horses, of course, were being led, and couldn’t get
away, but the pack horses dashed after him.

“Quick!” shouted Norman, “give all the saddle horses’ bridles to one
man, and then head ’em off!”

Everybody led his horse quickly to the cook, who tied the bridles to a
tree, and then the men and boys ran up the slope as fast as they could,
some going to the right, some to the left, in order to surround and get
ahead of the runaways, and drive them back.

It was hard work. The snow was deep and soft and wet, the slope very
steep, and a frightened horse, with four legs, can climb faster than a
man with two. Jeff didn’t help any. He merely dashed wildly around,
barking loudly, without sense to head the horses back.

“Call off that chickadee hound!” panted the doctor to Bennie.

The first horse, minus his load, actually got back to the top, and
scrambled over, before he could be headed. Norman and Bennie followed
him, sneaking on either side through the trees, for a quarter of a mile
before he stopped abruptly at a spot where the snow was melted, and
began to eat grass. Then they crept up on him, got hold of his rope
bridle, and led him back.

By the time the train was rounded up again, everybody was reeking wet
with perspiration from their knees up, and soaking wet with snow water
from their knees down.

“My head is burning, and my feet freezing, and oh, boy, for a drink!”
Bennie exclaimed.

The scattered luggage was collected, the horse repacked, and they moved
on. In less than a mile of rapidly dropping trail the snow ceased
entirely. The trail grew dry and dusty. The yellow pines began to appear
again, and they came to a little lake at the head of a cañon—and
everybody, horses and men and boys, drank and drank and drank.

After that there was no more snow, and before long the trail was in a
forest of yellow pines, and wide as a country road, and all except the
rustler and the cook, who had to look after the pack horses, broke into
a trot.

In a couple of hours they reached a fine, clear, racing brook, and a
Forest Service camp ground. Across the brook was a real road. The doctor
and Mr. Stone trotted on three or four miles to get the cars, while the
rest waited for the pack horses, and when they arrived got the packs off
and sorted.

When the cars came back, the baggage was transferred to them, the boys
said good-bye to Norman, Bennie made the cook shake hands with Jeff, and
sinking back into the cushions of the motor cars, the boys sighed with
the sudden sense of luxury.

“Beats the saddle of an old cayuse, when you’re tired,” Dumplin’ called
from his father’s car.

“Just the same, I’m awful sorry it’s all over,” said Bennie. “I never
have worked so hard in all my life—and I never had such a wonderful
time.”

“Me, too,” said Spider.

“You’ve got a good time coming, and in about one hour, or less,” said
Uncle Billy. “I don’t know whether you’ve noticed that lunch was pretty
sketchy today.”

“Sketchy is the word,” Bennie answered. “Gee, it’s three o’clock, and we
haven’t had a thing since five A. M.”

“You wait,” laughed the doctor. “I’ve got a surprise for you.”

In a short time he stopped the car at a ranch house beside the great
springs of the Metolius River, which gush right up out of the open
ground of a green meadow in the heart of the forest, irrigating the
whole meadow and making a rich oasis of grass and crops in the arid
soil.

“Dinner ready?” he called to a woman on the porch.

“All ready,” she answered.

“How did you order dinner here?” demanded Bennie.

“Radio,” the doctor grinned.

“He telephoned from the Ranger Station when he went for the car, you
poor fish,” Spider said.

The two men and three boys washed up and went into the dining-room.
There, on a table with a real cloth, was a huge dinner—steak, fried
potatoes, green vegetables, hot biscuit, berries. They ate and ate, and
when the food was gone the woman of the house reappeared bearing a huge
lemon pie, with browned meringue three-quarters of an inch thick, all
covered with little golden drops like honey.

“Wow!” yelled Dumplin’. “Lemon pie!”

“Oh,” sighed Bennie, “why did I eat so much steak!”

“I’ll take Bennie’s piece, then,” said Mr. Stone.

“I’d like to see you try!” Bennie answered.

When the pie was gone, everybody sat back and sighed with content.

“That pie was almost as wonderful as Mount Jefferson,” Bennie declared.

“And it didn’t make me dizzy,” said Dumplin’.

“It’s the kind Mother made,” said Mr. Stone.

“Gosh, I wish _my_ mother could!” Spider exclaimed.

“It was a good pie,” said the doctor, “but don’t forget you’ve lived on
camp fare for a week. It would have seemed pretty good if it hadn’t been
as good as it was.”

“Don’t try to run that pie down, Billy,” Mr. Stone declared. “I will
defend that pie with my last breath.”

“All I can say is this——” Bennie began impressively.

“Yes?” the rest prompted.

“I am satisfied with Oregon,” he finished.

“It’s the lemon pie!” laughed Dumplin’.

They rolled into Bend at nine that evening, Jeff was left to sleep in
the car at the garage, and for the next hour there was a grand splashing
in bathtubs, a washing of clothes, a shaving by the two men, who hadn’t
shaved for a week, a patching of burnt noses and cracked lips with
salve, and a general clean-up and overhauling.

“Oh, dear!” sighed Bennie, “it’s almost over! I wish we hadn’t been able
to get over the Divide today, so’s we’d been forced to go back over
Grizzly Flats. That would have kept us out three days more. I don’t want
to sleep in an old bed, with sheets!”

“I guess it won’t keep you awake,” laughed Spider. “If it does, I’ll set
up the sodas tomorrow.”

But he didn’t have to.



                              CHAPTER XXV
Bennie Loses Jeff, but Brings Home Something Else to Last Him Many Years


The doctor routed everybody out at five the next morning.

“It’s the last time, boys,” he said. “But we’ve got to get an early
start today. I must make The Dalles tonight, and Portland tomorrow
night. My vacation is over then.”

“Don’t go back on _my_ account,” said Bennie. “I’ll stick around the
mountains another week or two with you, if you really want me to.”

“Yes, and I’ll stick, too,” Spider laughed.

“I wish we could,” Uncle Billy answered. “But while we’re getting hard
and healthy, a lot of folks up in Portland are getting sick, so you see
I have to be back. Hustle along, boys. No time to lose!”

It was so early that they had to get breakfast at an all-night lunch
room, where Bennie bought some meat scraps for Jeff, who was still on
the job. He had slept in the car that night.

“Good gracious, are you really going to take that mutt back with you?”
his uncle demanded. “All the way East?”

“You’ve said it. Why, I bet he’d follow the train, if I didn’t take him.
He appreciates me at my true value, this blooded collie does, don’t you,
Jeff, old thing?”

Jeff responded by leaping up and licking his face.

They were off at six, and rode all day northward through the “desert”
country, sometimes down in the bottom of bare, desolate looking cañons,
sometimes up on the plateau where nothing but endless miles of sage
brush lay between them and the Cascades. In the morning Jefferson was
the nearest mountain, and they could see the whole eastern face,
snow-white and precipitous, with the summit pinnacle looking from this
distance like a tiny little white button on top. Later they had to
descend by a long, winding road cut out of the bank, without any guard
rails, into the Deschutes Cañon, across the river on a bridge, and climb
out on the other side. As afternoon came on, Jefferson dropped behind
them, and Mount Hood grew nearer, 11,225 feet of snow, shaped like an
almost perfect pyramid.

Again they descended into a cañon, and climbed out of it for six miles
by a road so steep that they had to keep in low speed all the way, so
narrow Bennie prayed they wouldn’t meet anybody, and without any sign of
a guard rail, or fence, or wall, to keep a car from skidding off into
the hole below.

“Say, if I drove a car out here much, I’d have nervous prostration,”
Spider said, as Uncle Billy crawled past a descending Ford, with his
right wheels about eight inches from the rim of the cañon.

“And if I had to drive down Fifth Avenue, I’d probably have it,” the
doctor laughed.

The sun was setting as they finally came into a region of orchards and
endless grain fields, hit a good road, and whizzed rapidly down hill,
steeper and steeper, into the gorge of the Columbia River, and ran right
into a thriving, lively town called The Dalles.

While the cars were being looked after in a garage, Bennie went to a
butcher’s shop to get some more food for Jeff, fed him, and put him up
in the car again, for the night. Then they all went to the hotel,
registered, got the dust off their faces and clothes, and went in to
dinner.

The next morning Jeff was not in the car. The garage man said he stayed
there a while the night before, and then, when nobody was looking,
evidently jumped out and ran away.

“Oh, gee, he was looking for me!” Bennie cried. “I ought to have tied
him. Poor old Jeff, he’s just hunting for me, all over this town!”

“Too bad,” said Uncle Billy. “But he’ll find a home somewhere—he seems
to make friends easily, and your mother’ll be awful glad.”

“Well, I got to find him. Please drive around town while I look for
him!”

“But I have to be back in Portland, Bennie. I’ve got to be at the
hospital tomorrow morning.”

“Aw, just ten minutes! Please!”

“Well, we’ll take a look. Get in.”

They started slowly down a residential street, Bennie hanging out of the
car and whistling. One block, two blocks, three blocks they went, turned
a corner, and began on another street.

Suddenly Spider gave a yell. “Hi, Bennie, there’s your pup!”

The doctor stopped. Sure enough, in a yard beside a small house, playing
with a boy of ten, was Jeff!

Bennie jumped out, ran to the gate, and whistled.

Jeff cocked his ears, looked toward Bennie, wagged his tail, took three
jumps toward the fence—and then turned around and went back to the small
boy!

“Sure, Bennie, that dog would follow your train all the way to Chicago,”
laughed Spider.

“He appreciates you at your true worth,” called Uncle Billy.

“Just the same, he’s my dog, and I’m going to have him!” Bennie said,
angrily, laying his hand on the gate.

“Hold on,” said his uncle. “Is he your dog? Where did you get him? Seems
to me _he_ has most to say about whose dog he is. He chose you, so’s he
could get a trip to the mountains, and now you’ve quit camping, he’s
chosen this kid.”

“Well, he chose me first.”

“Come here, son,” the doctor called to the small boy, who came to the
gate, Jeff at his heels. “Where did you get this dog?”

“He followed me home from the store last night,” said the boy. “He’s a
fine dog. Is he yours?”

“He’s mine,” said Bennie, sternly. “Come here, Jeff!”

At the sound of his angry voice, Jeff got behind the small boy’s legs.

“I didn’t do nothin’ to make him follow me,” the little fellow said.
“Honest, I didn’t. He just came. Ma said I could keep him. I—I never had
a dog.”

He was almost in tears, both because he thought he was being accused of
stealing Jeff, and because he feared they were going to take his new pet
away.

“Have a heart, Bennie,” Spider said. “He wants the pup worse than you
do.”

Bennie hesitated, but his fondness for Jeff was too much. “No, sir, he’s
my dog,” he declared.

“Let Jeff decide it,” said Uncle Billy. “He doesn’t really belong to
either one of you. That’s fair, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I guess so,” Bennie confessed.

“Now, you go ten feet up the sidewalk. Son, you walk down as far as that
tree. Spider, hold Jeff till they are set. Now, both of you, call him!”

“Here, Jeff! Here, Jeff!” called Bennie.

“Come here, Buster, Buster!” called the little boy.

Spider released Jeff as they called—and the pup jumped up and licked
Spider’s face!

“Gee whiz, he’s _my_ dog!” Spider shouted, while the doctor sat in the
car and roared with laughter.

“Try again,” he said, after a second.

The two boys called once more, and Jeff, without hesitating longer,
sprang to the little fellow, nearly knocking him down.

“All right, you keep him,” Bennie declared. “He’s a fool pup. I won’t
guarantee he’ll not run away from you tomorrow.”

“I bet he _won’t_!” the little chap declared, throwing his arms around
Jeff’s neck.

Bennie didn’t look back.

“Yes,” Uncle Billy mused, “Jeff certainly regarded you at your true
worth, Bennie. He was certainly a one-man dog, too, true to his master
till death.”

“Aw, quit it,” Bennie pleaded. “I always really knew he was a mutt, but
I—I was kind o’ fond of him, just the same.”

“Never mind,” said Spider, “you’ve done your good turn for today. You’ve
given him to that kid.”

“Yes, I have!” said the honest Bennie. “He did the good turn, I’ll say.
He gave _himself_ to the kid. A lot I had to do with it!”

They picked up the Stone car at the garage again, and set off at last
for Portland, down the Columbia Highway, which is one of the finest
motor roads in the world. It is laid out beside the great green river,
sometimes down on the bank, beside the railroad, sometimes climbing up a
thousand feet to the top of the cliffs, sometimes cut out of the sides
of the cliffs, sometimes having to go right through a headland of lava
by a tunnel. All the way through the Columbia gorge, from The Dalles
nearly to Portland, the car rolled along the wide macadam highway, with
the green river on one side, and the towering cliffs and waterfalls on
the other, or else climbed up and down these cliffs by cleverly
engineered grades.

The highest waterfall they passed was Multnomah, which dropped hundreds
and hundreds of feet over the cliff, almost on the very road. And near
it were several superb basaltic lava pinnacles, towering 2,000 feet
above the car.

“Oh, Uncle Billy, haven’t we time to stop and have a try at that one?”
Bennie cried, pointing to a great dome-like pinnacle which jutted out
from the cliff like the tower at the front of a church.

“That’s St. Peter’s Dome,” his uncle said. “We wouldn’t have time to
climb that if we had a year. Nobody has ever succeeded in getting up
it.”

“Why not?”

“Because a couple of hundred feet or so below the top, it is not only
perpendicular all around, but the wall overhangs a shade. Nobody can
climb an overhung precipice. I suppose we could carry up a coast guard
mortar, and shoot a rope over the top, and then hoist you up in a
breeches buoy, maybe. But I’m afraid there won’t be time to do that
today.”

“You folks out here have it pretty soft, I’ll say,” Bennie commented.

“How’s that?”

“Why, all you have to do is get in a car and drive out a few miles on a
macadam road, and there you are right at the foot of rock climbs so hard
nobody has ever climbed ’em! Out East, we either have to sail to Europe
and tackle the—the Spitzes, or else ride 3,000 miles across the U. S. A.
when we want a climb. I’m going to get a job in Oregon when I get
through school.”

“So you’re satisfied with Oregon?” his uncle laughed.

“I’ll tell the world I am!” Bennie answered.

[Illustration: Saint Peter’s Dome and Columbia River. Mount Adams in Far
Distance.]

They rolled into Portland in time for dinner, which they all ate at
Dumplin’s house. The next day the scouts spent in packing their trunks,
and seeing the city with Dumplin’ for a guide. They took the evening
limited for home. The doctor took them to the depot, and Mr. Stone and
Dumplin’ came down to see them off. The depot was full of men and women,
in khaki clothes, with packs and alpenstocks. They were members of the
Mazamas, going to take another train to get them to Diamond Peak, for a
week’s climbing.

“If one of them spoke a kind word to me, I’d swap my ticket East in
three and four-fifths seconds, and go with ’em,” Bennie declared. “I
don’t want to go home, Uncle Billy.”

“Don’t you want to see your father and mother?” the doctor asked.

“And get your little old Algebra out and nicely dusted?” added Dumplin’.

“’Course I want to see the folks, but I don’t want to leave these old
mountains,” Bennie answered. “I guess Spider and I will never forget old
Jefferson. And say, Mr. Stone, don’t you forget you’re going to send us
the movie films when they’re printed. We’ll have ’em at the Town Hall,
for the benefit of the Boy Scouts.”

“I won’t forget. And don’t you forget you’re coming back some day.”

“A swell chance of forgetting that!” laughed Bennie. “And don’t forget,
Dump, that you’re coming East to college, with Spider and me.”

The train was made up now. The boys shook hands and shouted a dozen more
messages of farewell as they went through the gates and climbed aboard.

It was dark when the train got up into the Columbia gorge. They saw no
more of the Cascade Mountains. The next ones they saw were the Rockies.
There was little snow left now, in mid-August, on the Rockies.

“Give me the old Cascades,” said Bennie.

“Just the same, I’d like to stop off a few days and climb the Rockies,
and see Glacier Park, and Yellowstone Park, and the Grand Canyon, and——”

“Did you say a few days?” Bennie laughed. “Spider, you and I have got to
get busy the next few years, and make a bunch of money, so’s we can
really see America.”

“We’ve done pretty well for one summer, at that,” Spider answered. “And
I’ll tell you one thing, it’s up to us to do something to pay for it.
I’ve got a scheme, too.”

As they traveled homeward, Spider developed his scheme. It was to raise
some money for the scouts by showing Mr. Stone’s movies, and with the
money have a lot of signs made, to mark trails with. Then Spider and
Bennie and the scout master, maybe, would lead the scouts in opening up
footpaths for trampers over the highest hills and cliffs around
Southmead. Some of these trails used to exist, but they had long since
grown over, and the summer boarders were always getting lost trying to
find them. But many of the wildest places, the spots where there were
the best views, had no trails at all.

“We’ll make trails,” Spider declared.

“Yes, and we’ll build some shelter lean-tos where we can go and spend
the night,” Bennie offered.

“Sure, and we’ll make some easy trails, and some hard ones, with cliff
climbs in ’em.”

“Sure, and put warning signs on the bad ones—‘Dangerous—only for
experienced climbers.’”

“Like us,” Spider laughed. “Seriously, though, I bet we can do a lot to
help the scouts and the town, and everybody, and have a lot of fun, and
you and I can survey and map out the trails first, and get our merit
badges in hiking that way, at the same time!”

“Great!” cried Bennie.

They continued to lay their plans all the way home, but they forgot them
for a day or two in the excitement of greetings, and seeing their
parents, and the old town, and all their fellow scouts. Bennie spent
half his time for the next few days trying to cut up wood and weed the
drive, while half a dozen boys stood around, making him tell them about
Crater Lake, and the climb up Llao Rock, and how Dumplin’ fell on
Jefferson.

But after the first week was over, and they had settled back into the
life of Southmead, Spider and Bennie got together with Mr. Rogers, the
scout master, and outlined their trail plans. He was enthusiastic about
them, and they set to work at once, with the help of his suggestions.
They went out every afternoon till school opened, hiking through the
woods and up the small 2,000-foot mountains around Southmead, surveying
practical routes for paths, and making sketch maps. After school opened,
they had to abandon the daily trips, but got in long ones on Saturdays.
By October they had enough work planned out to keep the scout troop busy
for months, and the task of opening the trails with scout axes, brush
hooks, and pruning shears began.

The first trail opened was an old, steep path, long since overgrown by
laurel and other bushes and small trees, up the mountain to the top of
the cliffs the boys had climbed the previous winter. It took them five
Saturdays, working with a gang of ten scouts, to get this trail, two
miles long, cleaned out. By that time, Mr. Stone’s pictures had come,
and the scouts made twenty-five dollars by exhibiting them at the Town
Hall, so that everybody could see what the Oregon mountains were like.
Mr. Rogers kept the money, and the first use made of it was to have
three or four white signs made, to mark the newly-cut trail. Every sign
carried, in black letters, the name of the trail—“Cliff Path to Monument
Mountain,” and, below, the name of the organization erecting
it—“Southmead Boy Scouts.”

As soon as these signs were ready, the troop took them out and put them
at the proper places—at each end, and at the points where old wood roads
crossed, to make confusion.

During the winter, Spider and Bennie hiked on snowshoes many miles, over
all the surrounding hills, trail planning, and visited the scouts in the
next town, planning with them a foot-trail over the long, rocky ridge of
wooded hills between the two villages. When spring came, this work, too,
was started, the two troops working from their respective ends. They
finally met at the town boundary, erected a shelter there, and had a big
camp fire and celebration.

By the end of the summer, Bennie and Spider saw real results—not so many
as they had planned, but yet enough to cause the local Board of Trade to
get out a little trail map for summer visitors, which Spider was asked
to draw, and to cause the summer visitors to hike in larger numbers than
ever before. And wherever they hiked, on the new trails, they saw the
neat signs to guide them, posted by the Boy Scouts.

“It’s fine work, boys,” said Mr. Rogers, after the two scouts had passed
their examinations for merit badges in hiking. “We’ve got a long trail
to the next town, we’ve got one up Monument, we’ve cleaned the old path
to Eagle Rock, and we’ve built one to the Cave. If we keep these cleared
out, and add one new one a year, we’ll soon have Southmead the best town
for tramping in the United States!”

“Just the same,” said Bennie, a little wistfully, “I wish I was going to
climb old Jefferson tomorrow, where there isn’t any trail at all!”

“If you hadn’t climbed him, though, you wouldn’t have been so keen for
this work we’ve been doing,” Spider said. “It’s because we got into the
real wilderness that made us want to help folks around here to get out
and hike.”

“Right—as usual,” Bennie laughed. “I’m not kicking. It’s great stuff,
making trails. I like it. But some day!—Oh, you Crater Lake, I’m going
back to you!”

“We might get in shape for it by taking a crack at the Monument cliffs
tomorrow,” Spider laughed. “We haven’t climbed them since spring.”

“You’re on,” said Bennie. “Let’s carry packs and blanket rolls, and hike
on down the other side, and spend the night at Wilson Pond.”

“That’s only fourteen miles—I’m your man,” cried Spider.

“’Course, it isn’t much, but it’ll keep us in condition,” Bennie
declared, with great pretended airiness of manner. “We’ll hike back home
in time for breakfast.”

Mrs. Rogers, who overheard this conversation, came out on the porch when
the boys had gone.

“Bennie’s a great joker,” she laughed.

“He is—and he isn’t,” the scout master answered. “As a matter of fact,
it _is_ fourteen miles to Wilson Pond, over the mountain, and as a
matter of fact, those two boys _will_ get up tomorrow at four, have a
swim, and be home for breakfast at half-past seven or eight.”

“Now you’re the joker,” his wife laughed.

“You take a climb with them once, and see how much of a joke it is,”
said he.


                                THE END


                         _Every boy will want_
                           FRANK H. CHELEY’S
                      The Boys’ Book of Camp Fires

This is the most complete book of boys’ camp activities ever written. It
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                           BOSTON    CHICAGO



                          Transcriber’s Notes


--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

--In the text versions, delimited italics text in _underscores_ (the
  HTML version reproduces the font form of the printed book.)





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