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Title: The Boy Scouts of Woodcraft Camp
Author: Burgess, Thornton W. (Thornton Waldo)
Language: English
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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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Boy Scouts of Woodcraft Camp" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive). Dedicated, with much affection, to our
friend Emmy, who "fell off the planet" far too soon.



            The Boy Scouts
                  of
            Woodcraft Camp

                  By
          Thornton W. Burgess

               Author of
     The Boy Scouts on Swift River
     The Boy Scouts on Lost Trail
  The Boy Scouts in a Trapper's Camp


            [Illustration]


      Illustrated by C. S. Corson


          The Penn Publishing
         Company Philadelphia
                 1922


               COPYRIGHT
                1912 BY
               THE PENN
              PUBLISHING
                COMPANY

            [Illustration]



  [Illustration: THE CHIEF GREETED HIM PLEASANTLY]



           _To my Wife_

  _whose faith and encouragement
    have placed me in her debt
      beyond my power to pay_



Introduction


The Boy Scout movement has appealed to me from the very first as a
long step in the right direction. It stands for an organized boyhood
on a world-wide plan. It has in it the essentials for a stronger and
better manhood, based on character building and physical development.
Clear and clean thinking and self-reliance are its fundamental
principles. Its weakness has been and is the difficulty in securing
leaders, men with an understanding of and sympathy with boys, who can
give the necessary time to active work in the field with the patrols,
and who are themselves sufficiently versed in the lore of the woods
and fields.

For years, before ever the Boy Scouts were organized, I had dreamed of
a woodcraft camp for boys, a camp which in its appointments and
surroundings should make constant appeal to the imagination of
red-blooded, adventure-loving boys, and which should at the same time
be a true "school of the woods" wherein woodcraft and the ways of
nature should be taught along much the same lines as those on which
the Boy Scout movement is founded.

In this and succeeding volumes, "The Boy Scouts on Swift River," "The
Boy Scouts on Lost Trail," "The Boy Scouts in a Trapper's Camp," I
have sought to portray the life of such a school camp under Boy Scout
rules. "The Boy Scouts of Woodcraft Camp" has been written with a
twofold purpose: To stimulate on the part of every one of my boy
readers a desire to master for himself the mysteries of nature's great
out-of-doors, the secrets of field and wood and stream, and to show by
example what the Boy Scout's oath means in the development of
character. Many of the incidents in the succeeding pages are drawn
from my own experiences. And if, because of reading this story, one
more boy is led to the Shrine of the Hemlock, there to inhale the
pungent incense from a camp-fire and to master the art of tossing a
flapjack, I shall feel that I have not written in vain.

                                                 THE AUTHOR.



Contents


        I. THE TENDERFOOT                         11

       II. WOODCRAFT CAMP                         26

      III. FIRST IMPRESSIONS                      39

       IV. THE INITIATION                         56

        V. THE RECALL                             71

       VI. THE SPECTER IN CAMP                    86

      VII. FIRST LESSONS                         100

     VIII. LONESOME POND                         116

       IX. A SHOT IN THE DUSK                    136

        X. A BATTLE FOR HONOR                    161

       XI. BUXBY'S BUNCOMBE                      184

      XII. LOST                                  199

     XIII. THE HONEY SEEKERS                     220

      XIV. THE SUPREME TEST                      237

       XV. CRAFTY MIKE                           254

      XVI. THE POACHER OF LONESOME POND          273

     XVII. THE HAUNTED CABIN                     288

    XVIII. ON GUARD                              304

      XIX. FOR THE HONOR OF THE TRIBE            319

       XX. THE HOME TRAIL                        337



Illustrations


    THE CHIEF GREETED HIM PLEASANTLY          _Frontispiece_

    DIAGRAM OF WOODCRAFT CAMP                             41

    "TELL HIM YOU ARE TO BE A DELAWARE"                   51

    HE HAD BUILT A FIRE                                  118

    BILLY'S APPARATUS FOR MAKING FIRE                    207

    "RUN!" HE YELLED                                     233

    THE BOYS WERE DRILLED IN WIG-WAG SIGNALING           308



The Boy Scouts of Woodcraft Camp



CHAPTER I

THE TENDERFOOT


In the semi-darkness of daybreak a boy of fourteen jumped from a
Pullman sleeper and slipped a quarter into the hand of the dusky
porter who handed down his luggage.

"You are sure this is Upper Chain?" he inquired.

"'Spects it is, boss, but I ain't no ways sho'. Ain't never been up
this way afore," replied the porter, yawning sleepily.

The boy vainly strove to pierce the night mist which shrouded
everything in ghostly gray, hoping to see the conductor or a brakeman,
but he could see barely half the length of the next Pullman. A warning
rumble at the head of the long train admonished him that he must act
at once; he must make up his mind to stay or he must climb aboard
again, and that quickly.

The long night ride had been a momentous event to him. He had slept
little, partly from the novelty of his first experience in a sleeping
car, and partly from the excitement of actually being on his way into
the big north woods, the Mecca of all his desires and daydreams.
Consequently he had kept a fairly close record of the train's running
time, dozing off between stations but waking instantly whenever the
train came to a stop. According to his reckoning he should now be at
Upper Chain. He had given the porter strict orders to call him twenty
minutes before reaching his destination, but to his supreme disgust he
had had to perform that service for the darkey. That worthy had then
been sent forward to find the conductor and make sure of their
whereabouts. Unsuccessful, he had returned just in time to hand down
the lad's duffle.

Now, as the preliminary jerk ran down the heavy train, the boy once
more looked at his watch, and made up his mind. If the train was on
time, and he felt sure that it was, this was Upper Chain, the
junction where he was to change for the final stage of his journey. He
would stay.

The dark, heavy sleepers slowly crept past as the train gathered way,
till suddenly he found himself staring for a moment at the red and
green tail lights. Then they grew dim and blinked out in the
enveloping fog. He shivered a bit, for the first time realizing how
cold it was at this altitude before daybreak. And, to be quite honest,
there was just a little feeling of loneliness as he made out the dim
black wall of evergreens on one side and the long string of empty
freight cars shutting him in on the other. The whistle of the laboring
locomotive shrieked out of the darkness ahead, reverberating with an
eery hollowness from mountain to mountain. Involuntarily he shivered
again. Then, with a boyish laugh at his momentary loss of nerve, he
shouldered his duffle bag and picked up his fishing-rod.

"Must be a depot here somewhere, and it's up to me to find it," he
said aloud. "Wonder what I tipped that stupid porter for, anyway! Dad
would say I'm easy. Guess I am, all right. Br-r-r-r, who says this is
July?"

Trudging along the ties he soon came to the end of the string of
empties and, a little way to his right, made out the dim outlines of a
building. This proved to be the depot. A moment later he was in the
bare, stuffy little waiting-room, in the middle of which a big stove
was radiating a welcome warmth.

On a bench at one side sat two roughly-dressed men, who glanced up as
the boy entered. One was in the prime of vigorous manhood. Broad of
shoulder, large of frame, he was spare with the leanness of the
professional woodsman, who lives up to the rule that takes nothing
useless on the trail and, therefore, cannot afford to carry
superfluous flesh. The gray flannel shirt, falling open at the neck,
exposed a throat which, like his face, was roughened and bronzed by
the weather.

The boy caught the quick glance of the keen blue eyes which, for all
their kindly twinkle, bored straight through him. Instinctively he
felt that here was one of the very men his imagination had so often
pictured, a man skilled in woodcraft, accustomed to meeting danger,
clear-headed, resourceful--in fact just such a man as was Deerslayer,
whose rifle had so often roused the echoes in these very woods.

The man beside him was short, thick-set, black-haired and mare-browed.
His skin was swarthy, with just a tinge of color to hint at Indian
ancestry among his French forebears. He wore the large check mackinaw
of the French Canadian lumberman. Against the bench beside him rested
a double-bladed axe. A pair of beady black eyes burned their way into
the boy's consciousness. They were not good eyes; they seemed to carry
a hint of hate and evil, an unspoken threat. The man, taking in the
new khaki suit of the boy and the unsoiled case of the fishing-rod,
grunted contemptuously and spat a mouthful of tobacco juice into the
box of sawdust beside the stove. The boy flushed and turned to meet
the kindly, luminous eyes of the other man.

"If you please, is this Upper Chain?" he inquired.

"Sure, son," was the prompt response. "Reckon we must hev come in on
th' same train, only I was up forward. Guess you're bound for
Woodcraft Camp. So'm I, so let's shake. My name's Jim Everly--'Big
Jim' they call me--and I'm goin' in t' guide fer Dr. Merriam th' rest
o' th' summer and try to teach you youngsters a few o' th' first
principles. What might yer name be an' whar be yer from?"

"Walter Upton, but the boys mostly call me 'Walt.' My home is in New
York," replied the boy.

"Never hit th' trail t' th' big woods afore, did yer?" inquired the
big guide, rising to stretch.

"No," said Walter, and then added eagerly: "But I've read lots and
lots of books about them, and I guess I could most find my way along a
trail even if I am a city tenderfoot. I've paddled a canoe some, and I
know all about the habits of wild animals and how to build a fire
and----"

"Son," interrupted Big Jim, "stop right thar! Forget it--all this rot
you've been a-readin'. Woodcraft never yet was larned out o' books,
and it never will be. I reckon you an' me are goin' t' hitch up
together fine, an' when yer go back t' yer daddy this fall yer'll be
able t' take him out in th' tall timbers an' show him a few stunts
what ain't down in th' program o' city schools, but what every
cottontail born in the north woods larns the second day he gets his
eyes open. Now yer jes' fergit all this stuff yer've been a-readin'
and stick t' me; we'll git along fine. I'll make a woodsman o' yer yer
dad will be proud o'. Let's have a look outside t' see how the weather
is."

As he followed the big fellow out onto the platform Walter felt his
cheeks burn at this wholesale condemnation of his treasured books, one
of which, "A Complete Guide to Woodcraft," was at that moment within
easy reach in the top of his duffle bag. Despite his natural
admiration for this big guide, to whom the mountains, lakes and woods
were as an open book, and his unbounded delight in having made a good
impression, Walter was not yet willing to overthrow his former idols
for this new one, and he was independent enough to stand by his
opinions until convinced that he was wrong.

"Have you ever read any of them, Mr. Everly?" he inquired courteously.

"Me? Read them books?" Big Jim's laugh rolled out infectiously. "What
would I read 'em for, sonny? I've seen some o' them book-writers in
th' woods, and thet's enough fer me. Lordy!" and again Jim's hearty
laugh rolled forth.

Walter laughed a little too, but deep in his heart he resolved that he
would yet show Big Jim that there was some good in the despised books.
To change the subject he inquired about the low-browed owner of the
axe back by the fire.

"Him? Why, thet's Red Pete, a French canuck with some Indian in him,
an' th' meanest man in th' mountains," replied Big Jim.

The mist had begun to burn off. Even as they watched they saw it roll
in great tattered masses up the side of the opposite mountain. With
the coming of the sun Walter was able to take note of his
surroundings, and his eager eyes drank in the scene so strange to him
but so familiar to his companion. It was one of those few moments
which come to all of us, when we experience sensations which so
impress themselves upon the memory that never are they forgotten.
Walter felt a thrill that made him tingle from head to foot and, from
sheer delight, clinch his hands till the nails nearly bit into the
flesh. Since he was big enough to read "Deerslayer" and "The
Pathfinder" and Captain Mayne Reid's fascinating tales of adventure in
forest and on the plains he had lived in an imaginary world of his
own--a wonderful world, where he penetrated vast wildernesses, voyaged
on great rivers and climbed snow-capped mountains. Now he was really
in the great woods; his dreams were coming true in a measure.

Indeed, it was a scene to stir any red-blooded boy. A gentle breeze,
moving across an unsuspected lake, rolled before it great billowing
masses of vapor. The sun, just rising above the eastern hills, drew
the mist swiftly up the mountainsides in broken, detached masses that
eddied, separated, came together and in an incredibly short time
dissipated in thin, clear air, till naught remained save in the
deepest hollows not yet penetrated by the sun's rays. Walter drew a
long breath.

"Oh!" he gasped, and again, "Oh!"

Big Jim looked at him curiously, while a sincere liking twinkled in
his blue eyes.

"Never see a sunrise in th' mountains afore, did yer, sonny?" he
asked. "Jes' yer wait till yer see a sunup from th' top of old Baldy,
and watch forty lakes throw off their night clothes all at once."

Sordid enough was the scene now revealed close at hand in the clear
morning light, the ulcer of so-called civilization, to be seen
wherever man has pushed the outposts of commercialism into the great
forests. A dozen log houses and a few ugly frame buildings, the latter
unpainted for the most part, but with one a glaring red and another a
washed-out blue, dotted an irregular clearing on either side of the
railroad. Close by, the tail of a log jam choked a narrow river, while
the tall iron stack of a sawmill towered above the rough board roof
that afforded some protection to the engine and saws. Off to the right
glistened the end of a lake of which the river was the outlet, its
margin a mass of stark, drowned timber. The peculiar odor of wet
sawdust filled the air. A sawdust road threaded its way among the
scattered buildings, and all about were unsightly piles of slabs,
heaps of bark and mill waste.

But to Walter it was all fascinating. The sky-scrapers of his native
city seemed not half so wonderful as these moss and clay chinked
cabins. He pinched himself to make quite sure he was awake, that it
was all real. An engine and single dingy coach were backing down a
siding.

"Thar's our train, son," said his companion. "Better stow yer duffle
aboard. It won't pull out for half an hour, and then it'll be a
twenty-minute run over t' Upper Lake. I want to see Tim Mulligan over
yonder t' th' store, but I'll join yer on th' train."

Taking the hint, Walter put his duffle aboard the train beside the
pack basket of his friend, and then, to kill time, started out to form
a closer acquaintance with the town. From most of the houses thin
columns of smoke and the odor of frying bacon or pork proclaimed that
breakfast was being prepared. Occasionally he had glimpses of
weary-faced women in faded calico gowns. One, standing in the doorway
of her cabin, was barefooted. A frowzy-headed, dirty-faced little
urchin stared at him from the shelter of her skirts. The men he met
were for the most part rough, good-natured fellows, dressed in the
flannel shirt of the woods, their trousers thrust into high, laced,
hobnailed boots. Several nodded kindly or exchanged a "howdy" with the
bright-faced boy.

On his way back, as he neared a cabin somewhat apart from the others,
he heard voices in angry dispute. Turning a corner of the cabin he was
just in time to see a boy of about his own age, but a good head
taller, strike a vicious blow at a whimpering hunchback. In a flash
Walter confronted the astonished young ruffian, eyes flashing and
fists doubled.

"You coward!" he shouted. "You miserable coward, to strike a boy
smaller than yourself, and a cripple!"

For an instant the other stared. Then his face darkened with an ugly
scowl, and he advanced threateningly.

"Get out av here! This ain't any av your business, ye city dude!" he
growled.

"I'll make it my business when you hit a little fellow like that,"
replied Walter, edging between the bully and his victim.

"Want ter foight?" demanded the other.

"No, I don't," said Walter, "but I want you to leave that little chap
alone."

"Huh, yez do, do yez?" responded the other, and rushing in he aimed
an ugly blow at Walter's face. The fight was on.

And just here the young ruffian was treated to the greatest surprise
of his bullying career. Instead of crushing his slight antagonist as
he had contemptuously expected to, he lunged into empty space. The
next instant he received a stinging blow fairly on the nose. For a
moment he gasped from sheer surprise, then, with a howl of pain and
rage, he rushed again.

To all appearances it was a most unequal match. The young backwoodsman
was not only taller, but was heavy in proportion; his muscles were
hardened by work and rough outdoor life in a sawmill village, and hard
knocks had toughened him as well. In contrast, the city boy seemed
slight and hopelessly at a disadvantage. But underneath that neat
khaki jacket was a well-knit, wiry frame, and muscles developed in the
home gymnasium. Moreover, Walter's father believed in teaching a boy
to take care of himself, and it was not for nothing that Walter had
taken lessons in boxing and wrestling.

As before, he avoided the rush by lightly side-stepping, driving in a
vigorous left to the ear and following this with a right which raised
a lump just under his opponent's left eye. The latter backed away.
Then he came in again, but more cautiously. He was beginning to
respect this elusive antagonist who hit so hard, yet managed to get
away untouched. It was all so new in his experience that he was
utterly at a loss to know what to expect.

Round and round they circled, each watching for an opening. Suddenly
Walter took the offensive. As he started to rush he slipped in the wet
sawdust. His opponent saw his advantage and swung hard, but Walter
caught the blow on his right forearm, and the next instant they were
locked in a clinch. This was what the bully wanted. Now he would throw
his antagonist and, once he had him down, that would end the battle,
for his ethics knew no quarter for a fallen foe.

But again he reckoned without his host. Scientific wrestling was an
unheard-of art to the young giant, while in the home gymnasium Walter
had twice won the championship for his weight. For a few minutes they
swayed this way and that, then Walter secured the lock he was trying
for, there was an instant of straining muscles, then the bully was
pinned flat on his back.

A big hand fell on Walter's shoulder. "Son," said Big Jim, "I hate t'
break into yer morning exercise, but you an' me hev an engagement at
Upper Lake, and we've got jes' two minutes t' ketch thet train."

Walter jumped up at once, and then held out his hand to the
discomfited bully. "Will you shake?" he asked.

To the surprise of the delighted onlookers the fallen terror of the
village arose and in a manly way, though sheepishly, shook the
outstretched hand, for at heart he had the right stuff in him.

"Ye licked me fair an' square," he mumbled. "Oi wish ye'd show me some
av thim thricks."

"I will if I ever have a chance. You ought to be a Boy Scout," shouted
Walter as he and Big Jim sprinted for the train.



CHAPTER II

WOODCRAFT CAMP


The light breeze which had lifted the mist at Upper Chain had dropped
to a dead calm, and when Walter followed the guide from the train down
to the landing on Upper Lake not a ripple broke its placid surface. As
far as he could see it lay like a great magic mirror, the
heavily-wooded shores reflected so clearly that the inverted forest
appeared no less real than the original, so marvelously counterfeited.
In every direction mountain succeeded mountain, for the most part
clothed to their summits with the variegated green of the mighty
woodland growth, the somber spruce of the higher slopes, black against
the lighter green of yellow and white birch, maple and ash, which had
reclaimed to the wilderness the vast tracts ruthlessly laid bare by
reckless lumbering twenty years before. One of the nearer mountains
was crowned with bare, exposed ledges to which clung a few unsightly
blasted trunks, mute witnesses to the devastation wrought by fire.

By a peculiar optical effect produced by the angle of light in a dead
calm at that time of the day, floating objects appeared magnified to
many times their actual size, so that a launch some two miles distant,
whose rapid put-put had drawn their attention when they first stepped
from the train, appeared to be less than half that distance away.

Big Jim looked at it long and steadily, shading his eyes with a big
hand.

"Thet's 'Woodcraft Girl' all right," he said, "and I reckon they're
comin' down fer us. Yer make yerself t' home, son, while I run back up
yonder t' th' hotel and rastle up some grub. We'll be some hungry
before we reach camp if I don't."

Walter seated himself on the end of the pier and drank in the beauty
of the exquisite scene. Alongside a little mail boat was getting up
steam, her crew busily stowing away express packages and supplies of
all kinds for the various camps and hotels scattered along the lake.
Half a dozen passengers were already aboard. Two Adirondack skiffs,
each pulled by a brawny guide, a fisherman lolling at ease in the
stern, were just setting out for the fishing grounds. All was hustle
and activity, in strange contrast with the quiet lake and the majestic
calm of the mountains.

In a few minutes Big Jim returned with some sandwiches, which they
promptly disposed of while they waited for the approaching launch. It
was now near enough for Walter to make out the blue pennant with the
magic words "Woodcraft Camp" fluttering at the bow, and a moment later
there came a joyous hail of "Oh, you Jim!" from the figure in the bow,
followed by a wild waving of a small megaphone.

"Oh, you Bob!" bellowed the big guide, swinging his hat.

The launch drew in rapidly and was deftly laid alongside. From it
sprang two young fellows of seventeen or eighteen, in olive khaki
trousers, flannel shirts and soft-brimmed hats, who straightway fell
upon Walter's companion and pounded and thumped him and shook both
hands at once, and were pounded and thumped in return.

When their somewhat noisy demonstration was over the one whom Jim had
called Bob turned to Walter and held out his hand. "Guess your name is
Upton, isn't it?" he inquired with a pleasant smile. "My name is
Seaforth, and this is Louis Woodhull, the best fellow in Woodcraft
Camp. Dr. Merriam sent us down to look for you, but I see you were
already in good company. The doctor was some worried for fear you
might have missed connections at Upper Chain, but if he'd known that
you were trailing in company with this old son of the backwoods his
mind would have been easy. Jim, you great big stick of seasoned
timber, it sure does a fellow good to look at you. Stow this young
fellow and the duffle in the launch while I get the mail and do some
errands, and we'll be off. The whole camp's a-looking for you, though
they don't expect you till to-morrow. You're sure needed. Ed Mulligan
is guiding over on Big Moose and won't be with us this year, but his
younger brother, Tom, is taking his place, and I guess he'll make
good."

Bob's errands were soon done, the supplies, duffle and mail pouch
stowed away in the launch, and her nose pointed down the lake. Bob
took the wheel, while Louis ran the engine. Walter was up forward, "to
be properly impressed," as Bob put it. And if that was really the
object in giving him the best post of observation, its success left
nothing to be desired.

With eager eyes he drank in the wonderful panorama constantly
unfolding--as the launch sped swiftly over the lake. Here the lake was
less than half a mile wide, then abruptly it opened up great bays
which made it more than twice that width from shore to shore. How he
longed to explore those bays and coves! Two big summer hotels on
commanding bluffs were passed, showing but little life as yet, for the
season had not fairly opened. On rocky points, or half hidden in
sheltering coves, he caught glimpses of summer "camps," most of them
built of logs, but in many cases little short of palatial, and the
boy's lips curled with scorn at this travesty of wealth upon the
simple life. Gradually the camps became fewer and farther apart until
only an occasional lean-to or a tent now and then, clinging on the
very edge of the forest, was evidence of man's invasion, and Walter
felt that now in truth he was entering the wilds.

From the good-natured chaff and talk of his companions he gathered
that Big Jim had been chief guide at Woodcraft Camp ever since this
famous school in the woods had been started, and that the two young
men had been among his earliest pupils. With eager ears he drank in
their talk of fish and lures, of deer, rifles and hunting lore.
Occasionally, as they skirted an island or ran around a sunken reef,
one or another would recall a famous catch of bass or a big laker
taken there.

Of the two young men, Seaforth was the more talkative. He was dark,
with sparkling black eyes and a merry, likable face, which, for all
its irrepressible good-humor, had in it a strength and purpose which
denoted a solid foundation of character. He was broad-shouldered,
deep-chested, finely-developed, a splendid type of young American
manhood.

His chum was rather slight in build, but wiry, with light hair and a
rather thin, clean, serious face which gave the impression of
tremendous nervous energy habitually under control. He took but little
part in the conversation, but his quiet smile at the sallies between
Bob and the guide was of a peculiarly winsome sweetness. His slight
reserve drew rather than repelled Walter, who instinctively felt that
the friendship of Louis Woodhull was something well worth the winning.

They had now come some twelve miles down the lake, and presently Bob
pointed out a long pier jutting out from the eastern shore, and beyond
it, just to the left of a giant pine, a flagstaff from which Old Glory
was fluttering limply in the light breeze just beginning to ripple the
surface of the lake.

"There you are, Upton, your first glimpse of Woodcraft," he said. "I
hope you'll----"

But what he hoped Walter never knew. A shrill "Hy-i-i-i-i! We want
that tenderfoot!" cut him short, as a canoe manned by two youngsters
of about Walter's own age shot out from an island the launch was just
passing. Both boys were in trunks and jerseys and paddling like mad to
intercept the launch. Suddenly the one in the stern caught sight of
the guide. For an instant he stopped paddling, while a look of pleased
surprise passed over his face, and then with a wild yell of "Jim, oh,
you Jim!" he redoubled his efforts.

Seaforth put the wheel over to port a couple of spokes. "No you don't,
Billy!" he called with a grin. "This boat carries Uncle Sam's mail,
and it can't stop to pick up tows."

"Aw, Louis, slow her down, won't you?" begged Billy.

Louis smiled good-naturedly; but the engine slowed down not a bit.

"Ta-ta," called Bob. "The Indian attack is foiled, Billy. I'm ashamed
of you! Your paddling is abominable. Where's that new stroke that's
going to win the championship? See you later."

And then it happened. One moment two boys were frantically digging up
the water with their paddles and the next a canoe was floating bottom
up, one boy white-faced and frightened, clinging to the bow, and the
other, with a malicious grin on his freckled face, swimming at the
stern.

The instant it happened Seaforth put the wheel hard over and,
describing a short circle, headed for the canoe. Walter's heart had
been in his mouth, but the others seemed not a bit disturbed. Louis
stopped the launch, and while the guide righted and emptied the canoe,
he and Seaforth hauled the victims aboard.

"You little beggar!" growled Bob as he grabbed Billy by the slack of
his jersey, "I've a mind to duck you until you howl for mercy. You did
that purposely."

Billy grinned. "You didn't suppose I was going to let you land Big Jim
and I not be there, did you?" he asked.

"That's all right, Billy, but this is going to be reported," broke in
Louis.

"Don't, please don't, Louis," begged the culprit.

"Sorry, son, but it's got to be. We love you, Billy, and because we
love you we're going to report. You addle-pated little scamp, when
will you ever learn that whatever risks a man may run himself he has
no right to involve others in danger? How did you know that Allen
there would be able to take care of himself, plunged unexpectedly into
the water? He's been in camp only three days, so what did you know of
his powers of resource? No, my son, we hate to tell tales, but we've a
duty to you to perform, so prepare to pay the penalty."

The launch was now once more under way with the canoe in tow. Walter
was duly introduced to the penitent Billy and his victim, Harry Allen,
like himself a new recruit and therefore a tenderfoot.

Several boys had gathered on the pier to size up any newcomers the
launch might bring, and Walter felt himself the target for a battery
of eyes. The ordeal was light, however, compared with what it would
have been at nightfall or earlier in the day, for it was now nine
o'clock and the boys were largely scattered in the duties and pursuits
of camp life.

As the launch was made fast Billy whispered, "Here comes Dr. Merriam;
isn't he a peach?"

Walter looked up with just a little feeling of awe to see the man of
whom he had heard so much--a scientist, explorer, author and lecturer,
honored by many scientific societies and institutions of learning both
at home and abroad, and now content to bury himself in the north woods
as the founder and head of the most unique school in the world--a
school with a purpose which was, as he himself whimsically expressed
it, "to make big men of little boys."

Woodcraft Camp was the outgrowth of years of study and observation of
boy life and the needs of the tremendous army of youth annually turned
loose upon the country for three months of idleness and mischief. It
was, in effect, a vacation school, so cleverly masked in the guise of
a camp that probably not one among the pupils, save a few of the older
boys, recognized it as such. Its courses were manliness,
self-reliance, physical and mental health, strength of character,
simplicity of desire and love of nature. The curriculum embraced all
forms of athletic sports, swimming, canoeing, fishing, shooting,
forestry, the rudiments of civil engineering, woodcraft in all its
branches from the pitching of a tent or building of a lean-to to the
cooking of a good meal, the shooting of a rapid and the way to live
off of the country in an unknown wilderness.

Botany, ornithology, the rudiments of physiology, as taught by a
knowledge of first aid to the injured--all these things and more were
taught, while the boys, all unconscious that they were being
systematically trained and developed, thought only of the jolly good
times they were having. Timid, nervous, under-developed youngsters
entering the camp at the beginning of the summer vacation went forth
to their studies in the fall brown, hearty, well muscled and with a
quiet confidence in themselves and their own abilities to do things
which won immediate recognition among their fellows. And not one among
them but held in the secret places of his heart as his ideal in life
the man whom Walter now saw approaching with a quick, elastic step.

He was about fifty years of age, medium height, thin, but sinewy, a
human dynamo of nervous energy. He was clean shaven, slightly gray at
the temples, with firm, square jaw, rather large mouth, prominent nose
and eyes which seemed to see all things at once yet from which a smile
seemed ever ready to leap forth. It was far from a handsome face, save
in the beauty of strength, but was a face to love, a face once seen
never to forget.

It was now all alight with pleasure at the sight of Big Jim. The guide
leaped forward to meet the doctor, and in the greeting there was
plainly evident a mutual respect and liking between these men, so far
apart in the social scale, yet beneath the veneer produced by
circumstance, so closely bound in a common brotherhood.

Turning from the guide the doctor held out his hand to Walter.
"Upton," he said with a kindly smile, "let me welcome you as a member
of Woodcraft Camp. Buxby," turning to Billy, "you show Upton the way
to Wigwam No. 1 and where to stow his duffle and wash up. By the way,
Buxby, you and your canoe look pretty wet. Have an accident?" Then
without waiting for Billy's reply he added, "You may police camp for
the remainder of the day, Buxby. Carelessness and recklessness are
equally reprehensible, and neither should ever go unpunished. Upton,
please report at my office in an hour. Buxby will show you where it
is."

"And I never said a word; you can't fool the doctor," whispered
Woodhull to the discomfited Billy, as the latter stooped to lift a
package from the launch.

Billy made a wry face and then, good-naturedly shouldering Walter's
duffle bag, started up the trail toward a long log cabin.



CHAPTER III

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


Woodcraft Camp had originally been the headquarters for one of the
largest lumbering crews operating in that section of the north woods.
The location had been chosen with the same strategy a general in the
field would display in selecting headquarters for the direction of
important maneuvers. The site was on a broad level of ground
sufficiently high to insure perfect drainage. A boiling spring
furnished a perpetual supply of pure water. A logging road had been
driven straight east, tapping a heavy hardwood belt on Little Knob,
while branching from this road to the south another opened up the
northwestern slopes of Mt. Sewell. A third, swinging to the north,
brought all of the southeastern side of Old Scraggy under the dominion
of the axe and peavy. Thus the operations of three crews could be
directed from the one central point, and the entire cut of this
region be put into the lake with a minimum of effort. Moreover, it was
a scant half mile to the outlet of the lake, so that the rafting of
the logs into the swift waters of the river was a comparatively easy
matter.

The magnitude of the operations and the comparative permanency of the
camp called for substantial buildings, and the three log bunk houses,
stables, storehouse and blacksmith's shop were splendid examples of
the loggers' skill with axe and peavy. A long pier had been built into
the lake, and the underbrush cut out for a considerable distance
around the camp.

With the despoiling of the once noble woodlands completed the camp had
been abandoned to the occasional hunter or fisherman who passed that
way. The clearing had grown up to a tangle of raspberry vines, and the
deserted buildings had begun to show signs of neglect and decay, when
Dr. Merriam chanced to camp there. At once he saw the opportunity to
put into execution his long-cherished dream of a woodcraft school camp
for boys.

  [Illustration: DIAGRAM OF WOODCRAFT CAMP]

The property, with some five hundred acres of adjoining land, was
bought, the buildings repaired, with only such changes made as would
adapt them to the needs of the proposed school, the land in the
immediate vicinity cleared of underbrush, and the pier repaired. It
was Dr. Merriam's idea to make as little change in appearance and
arrangement as possible, that the camp might lose nothing of the
romantic charm which surrounds every logging camp when seen for the
first time by eager boyish eyes.

Walter, following Billy up the trail, was ushered into the first of
the three large cabins. Inside it was almost as rough as the outside,
yet he was at once conscious of that indescribable sense of comfort
and security which the log cabin in the forest alone possesses. The
low ceiling, which had originally divided the loft from the main room,
had been removed to insure a better circulation of air. In a double
tier down the two sides were built plain box bunks, each containing a
tick filled with straw. Sheets, gray blanket and a thin pillow, filled
with aromatic fir balsam, completed the equipment. Each bunk was
numbered and a corresponding number appeared on the bedding in each.
In the rear of the room was a huge fireplace capable of taking in six
foot logs, and on either side a tier of lockers numbered to correspond
with the bunks.

Tossing Walter's duffle on to the nearest bunk, Billy suggested that
he open up for his soap, towel, brush and comb. Supplied with these
necessary adjuncts to the toilet he meekly followed Billy out to a
long, low shed located to the rear and midway between the cabin he had
just left and another, which was of the same size and, as he later
discovered, of precisely the same interior arrangement.

A broad shelf ran the entire length of this shed. On this stood three
pails of water, each with a dipper hanging above it, while beneath the
shelf hung a row of graniteware wash-basins. Big galvanized nails were
driven at convenient points for the towels and the folding mirrors
which were a part of every boy's equipment. It was primitive, very
primitive, but quite in accord with Dr. Merriam's idea, and Walter had
to admit that it served his purpose admirably.

While Walter made himself presentable, Billy plied him with questions.
When he got through Walter felt that he had been pumped dry, and that
the garrulous Billy knew his life history. Finally he ventured a few
questions himself.

"Is this your first year?" he inquired.

"Me? My first year? Say, do I look like a tenderfoot?" demanded the
indignant Billy. "Say, you are green. Never was off of Broadway
before, was you? No, sir, this is my third year. Say, if you want to
learn woodcraft, just you trot with me a while."

"Said woodcraft consisting at the present moment in policing camp,"
broke in a quiet voice just behind them. "Probably Upton had rather be
excused."

Both boys turned to find Louis Woodhull, who, walking with the
noiseless step of the forest ranger, had come upon them unawares.

"There's a lot of chips around the wood-pile, Billy, and cook wants
them right now, so trot along, son," he continued.

"Doctor told me to look out for Upton," protested Billy.

"Upton is quite equal to taking care of himself, from all I hear,"
said Louis drily. "Wood-pile's waiting for a good, strong, able-bodied
forester who knows woodcraft, one of the first essentials of which is
knowledge of how to swing an axe. Insubordination----"

But Billy, with a grimace, had already started for the chip basket.

Louis laughed. "Billy is one of the best hearted boys in camp, but
he's a reckless little beggar, and he does hate work. Look out he
doesn't lead you into mischief, Upton. By the way, Big Jim tells me
that you've already started in to conquer the wilderness, and have
laid one of the savages low. Where did you learn to use your fists?"

"My father taught me how to protect myself almost as soon as I could
walk, and then I took boxing lessons at the gym. That was nothing this
morning; I couldn't have licked him if he'd known what I know,"
replied Walter modestly.

"My boy," said the older lad earnestly, "right there lies the
difference between success and failure--knowledge--the know how--the
know why--the know when. Knowledge is power. It is better than bull
strength. You knew how to make the most of what muscle you have got,
and you won. You'll find that's the answer all through life. The man
with knowledge and the power to apply it is top of the heap every
time. Take these big woods here--how long do you suppose a greenhorn
from the city dropped in the middle of 'em alone, with nothing but gun
and blanket, would live? But take a fellow like Big Jim, with his
knowledge of the wilderness and wilderness ways, and he'd hit the
nearest settlement in three days and live like a lord all the way.
Now, if you're ready I'll show you the way to the office. By the way,
I'm going to ask Dr. Merriam to put you in my tribe; I like your
style."

The "office" was a small detached cabin which had formerly been the
headquarters of the logging camp boss. It was divided into two rooms
by means of burlap curtains. In the front room was a desk, a plain
deal table, three rustic chairs and book shelves occupying two-thirds
of the wall space. The head of a magnificent ten-point buck looked
down from above the fireplace. Over the books were mounted specimens
of salmon, trout, bass and muskelonge. Mounted specimens of rare
birds, a case of butterflies wholly unlike any Walter had ever seen,
and which he suspected were from distant lands, specimen stones and
minerals from the surrounding mountains, added to the fascination of
the room. Before the fireplace lay the skin of a huge bear, and two
tanned deer hides were spread on the floor. In one corner stood a
collection of guns, rifles, paddles, fishing-rods and landing nets
which caught the boy's eager eyes the instant he entered.

Through the parted curtains he had a glimpse of the same primitive
sleeping arrangement, namely a box bunk, that he had found in the big
cabin where he had left his duffle. Could he have peeped farther
within he would have found a neat single iron bedstead with a hair
mattress and snowy counterpane, a dainty white bureau, low,
comfortable rocking-chair, sewing-machine and other evidences of
feminine comfort, for, though Dr. Merriam religiously insisted on
having for himself nothing more luxurious than he gave his "boys," the
comfort of Mrs. Merriam--she was "Mother" Merriam to the whole camp in
the affections of the boys--was another matter, and no pains were
spared to make things pleasant and comfortable for her. In fact, not
only the boys, but the guides and others attached to the camp vied
with each other in showing her little attentions and waiting upon her.

As Walter and Louis entered "Mother" Merriam came forward at once to
greet the newcomer, and while Louis talked with the doctor for a few
minutes this quiet, sweet-faced, tactful little woman put the newcomer
so at his ease that when Louis finally bade his superior good-morning
and went out, Walter turned to meet the head of the camp wholly free
from the awe with which he had entered the door not five minutes
before.

"Upton," said the doctor, "Woodhull has just requested that you be
assigned to his 'tribe,' an honor which you do not appreciate now, but
which you will later. The camp is divided into four patrols or
'tribes,' each under the leadership and direction of one of our oldest
and most trustworthy boys, known as 'chiefs.' Woodhull is chief of the
Delawares, and Seaforth, whom you met with the launch, is chief of the
Algonquins, the two tribes occupying the big cabin known as Wigwam No.
1, to which Buxby showed you on your arrival. Wigwam No. 2 is occupied
by the Senecas and Hurons, under Chiefs Avery and Robertson. The rules
of the camp are few and simple and every boy is put on his honor and
is trusted to live up to them. Reveille is sounded at five o'clock
every morning, except Sunday, when it is an hour later. At
five-thirty on week-days and six-thirty on Sunday mess is served to
two of the tribes and half an hour later to the other two, the wigwams
alternating in the order of service.

"A detail from each wigwam is assigned to police the camp, that is,
clear up all rubbish and keep the camp in order, wash dishes and chop
fire-wood. Noon mess is served from twelve to one o'clock and evening
mess from five-thirty to six-thirty. At nine o'clock 'taps' is
sounded, which means 'lights out' and every boy in bed.

"Each boy is expected to look after the making up of his own bed.
There are certain defined limits on shore and on the lake beyond which
no boy may go without a permit from his chief, sanctioned by me.

"The building of fires at any time or place is strictly prohibited
save when accompanied by a guide or chief. Smoking is not allowed.
Violation of either of these two rules is sufficient cause for
expulsion from camp. Boys who cannot swim are not allowed in the boats
or canoes unless accompanied by an older competent person, until they
have learned to care for themselves. The carrying or use of firearms
is forbidden except at the rifle range, where instruction is given
daily by one of the guides. From time to time there will be 'special
duty' squads, such as the surveying squad, forestry squad, logging
squad, and others on which boys are expected to serve willingly, and
in the performance of these duties they will be taught many of the
essentials of woodcraft.

"You will report this afternoon to Mr. Medcraft, our physical
instructor, for examination, and will be expected to follow his
recommendations for daily exercise. Big Jim has told me of your
encounter at Upper Chain. My boy, I rejoice in the manliness and
courage, in the sense of fair play, which led to your defense of the
weak. Of all men the bully is most contemptible. No bullies are
allowed in this camp, and, Upton, no fighting, unless all other means
of settling a quarrel prove futile. Then it is fought out with gloves
in the presence of the whole camp and with an unbiased referee. It has
happened but once; I hope it will not happen again. I mention this
now, for I fear that you will find that you have established a
reputation as a fighter, and such a reputation often leads one into
difficulties which otherwise might be avoided.

  [Illustration: "TELL HIM YOU ARE TO BE A DELAWARE"]

"We are glad to have you as a member of Woodcraft Camp, and I hope we
shall make a first-class scout and a thorough sportsman and woodsman
of you. I will not add 'gentleman,' for we feel that every boy is that
when he comes to us. If you are interested in any special branch of
nature study come and consult me freely that I may aid you in its
pursuit.

"Now you may report to Chief Woodhull, and tell him you are to be a
Delaware. He will inform you as to the minor rules of the camp and our
methods of learning the most from this close communion and association
with nature. We want you to go home in the fall feeling that you have
had the best time a red-blooded boy could have, and that the summer
has been profitable as well."

With a pleasant smile the doctor shook hands warmly once more and
Walter started for the wigwam, secretly elated that he was to be under
Woodhull, and that he was to be a Delaware, the tribe of Uncas and
Chingachgook. He found Woodhull waiting for him. The chief greeted him
pleasantly.

"So the big chief (that's what we call the doctor) has made a Delaware
of you? I'm glad of that."

"So am I," responded Walter.

"Now the first thing," the other continued, "is to get acquainted with
the wigwam and stow away your duffle. The Delawares have the east
side, and the Algonquins the west. Your number is the skiddoo number,
twenty-three, for bunk and locker, and I hope you'll make it a lucky
number for the tribe. Stow your duffle in your locker, and I'll show
you around the camp and make you acquainted with some of the boys. By
the way, Upton, do you go in for athletics, besides boxing?"

Walter admitted that he ran a little, being best at the mile, was
fairly good at the running broad jump, had once won a boy's canoe
race, and had practiced a lot at a short range target with a small
rifle.

His chief received the information with manifest pleasure. "You see,"
he explained, "we have a big field day in August, and there is a lot
of rivalry between the tribes, and especially between the two wigwams.
A mounted deer's head is offered this year to the wigwam scoring the
greatest number of points in woodcraft during the summer and in the
field day sports, and we want it over our fireplace. The biggest fish
caught each day counts five points and the biggest for the week
fifteen points; the best photograph of wild animals or birds made
during the summer counts twenty-five points; fifteen points each are
scored for the rarest botanical specimen, best mineral specimen,
largest number of birds positively identified, best collection of
insects and largest number of trees identified. Any exceptional feat
of woodcraft scores to the benefit of the wigwam. The championship
banner goes to the tribe winning the largest number of points in the
successful wigwam. The Hurons won it last year, but, son, the
Delawares have got to get it this year. Then there are individual
prizes well worth mentioning. We shall expect you to miss no
opportunity to score for the honor of the tribe and wigwam. Our wigwam
leads now, but the Algonquins have twenty points the best of the
Delawares. It's up to you to do your prettiest to help us get their
scalps. By the way, don't be surprised if things are made some
interesting for you to-night. Whatever happens, keep your nerve and
don't show the white feather."

Beyond this mysterious hint Woodhull would vouchsafe no information,
and Walter could only guess at what might be in store for him.

The tour of the camp included the big mess cabin, with the cook house
in the rear, where they had a glimpse of Billy and the chip pile, and
the cabin of the three guides, where they found Big Jim very much at
home, the other two being out with fishing parties, and where Walter
was introduced to Mr. Medcraft, the physical director, and to Mr.
Burnham, a young Y. M. C. A. man who was Dr. Merriam's assistant.
These shared the cabin with the guides. They then went down to inspect
the boats and canoes. Several fishing parties were just coming in, and
Walter was introduced to some of his fellow tribesmen, as well as to
members of the other tribes.

As they turned back to the wigwam the bugle sounded for noon mess, and
boys appeared as if by magic from every direction in a mad rush for
the wash-house. Presently Walter found himself seated at a long table
in the mess room, an agate-ware plate and cup before him, and an
abundant supply of plain but well cooked food, in which deliciously
browned trout were evidence of the practical lessons taught at
Woodcraft Camp.



CHAPTER IV

THE INITIATION


Mess over, Woodhull and Seaforth took their stand at either side of
the door, and Walter noted that as each boy passed out he saluted the
two chiefs with the Scout's salute, and was saluted in return. It was
a point of etiquette which he learned was never omitted, and which did
much to maintain discipline and to instil the principles of respect
for superior officers. Once outside the mess room Walter was free to
inspect the camp in detail and at his leisure for, it being his first
day, he was not assigned to any of the duty squads.

There were fifty-two boys in camp, including the four leaders, or
chiefs, and they were from all quarters, two being from as far west as
Chicago. They represented all classes in the social scale. A few were
from homes of extreme wealth and one, according to Billy, was a Boston
newsboy in whom the doctor took a personal interest. But in
accordance with Scout ideals all were on equal footing in the camp,
and the most democratic spirit prevailed. Achievement in scoutcraft
alone furnished a basis for distinction.

The camp had been established three years before the Boy Scouts of
America came into existence, but Dr. Merriam had been quick to
perceive the value of the new movement, the principles of which are,
in fact, the very ones he had been seeking to inculcate in his unique
school. This year the camp had been placed under Scout regulations,
and it was the doctor's desire to send every one of his boys home at
the end of the summer as qualified Scouts of the first class, fitted
to take the leadership of home patrols.

Approaching from behind the wood-pile, where Buxby's assignment to
duty was keeping him busy, Walter heard his own name and paused,
uncertain whether to go on or not. Billy was regaling the cook with an
account of Walter's exploit of the morning as he had wormed it out of
Big Jim.

"Pretty spry with his fists, they say," concluded the talkative Billy.
Then he added as an afterthought, "Bet they'll get his goat to-night,
though."

Walter waited to hear no more. He had not been wholly unconscious of
the sly looks and mysterious winks passed between some of the boys he
had met, and, though he did not allow it to show outwardly, he was
inwardly not a little perturbed by the thought of the initiatory
ordeal he felt sure he must undergo. Chief Woodhull's hint, together
with the frequent exchange of meaning glances which he had
intercepted, could mean but one thing--that his nerve and courage were
to be put to some strange and crucial test.

Therefore it was with some trepidation that with the sounding of taps
that night Walter sought his bunk and turned in. In five minutes
lights were out, and apparently the camp had settled down for the
night. Walter lay listening in suspense for some sound which would
indicate that secret designs concerning himself were afoot, but
nothing but the regular breathing of twenty-five healthy, tired boys
rewarded his vigilance. It had been a long, strenuous day, with little
rest the night before, and in spite of himself he soon fell asleep.

He was awakened by the sudden removal of his blanket. Despite his
struggles he was bound and gagged. Then his arms were loosed enough
for his flannel shirt to be slipped on. His trousers and shoes
followed, and then he was rolled in his blanket, picked up bodily and
carried forth into the night. In absolute silence his captors bore him
along what appeared to be a rough, little used trail. Occasionally a
dew-damp twig brushed his face. Through the tangle of interlacing
branches overhead he caught glimpses of the stars. The number of his
captors he had no means of knowing. He was carried by relays, and
though there were frequent changes he could not tell whether each time
a new team of bearers took him or two teams alternated.

Once his bearers stumbled and nearly dropped him. Once they seemed to
lose the trail, stopping to hold a whispered consultation of which the
victim could catch only a word here and there. After what seemed like
an interminable length of time Walter heard in the distance the
tremolo of a screech-owl, answered by a similar call close at hand. A
few minutes later they emerged in an opening.

"Are the canoes ready?" asked a subdued but sepulchral voice.

"They are, chief," was the guarded reply.

"Then let them be manned," was the order.

Walter was carefully placed in a canoe amidship. He felt it gently
shoved off, and then it floated idly while, to judge by the sounds,
the other canoes were hastily put in the water. Presently, at a low
command from the rear of his own craft, there was the dip of many
paddles and he felt the light craft shoot forward.

Flat on his back, he could see little but the star-sprinkled heavens.
It seemed to him that never had he seen the stars so bright or
apparently so near. By straining up and forward he caught the shadowy
outline of the bow man's back, but the second time he tried it he was
warned to desist. Out of the tail of his left eye he sometimes caught
the arm and paddle of the stern man on the forward reach. But thus far
there had been nothing to give him the slightest idea whether he was
in the hands of members of his own tribe or a captive of one of the
rival tribes.

Swiftly, silently, save for the light splash of paddles and the
gurgling ripple at the bow, the canoe sped on. Never will Walter
forget the spell of that mysterious night ride on that lonely lake in
the heart of the great north woods. His gag had been removed and, but
for inability to move hand or foot, he was not uncomfortable. All the
witchery of night in the forest was enhanced an hundredfold by the
mystery of his abduction and the unknown trials awaiting him.

A mighty chorus of frogs denoted low, marshy land somewhere in the
vicinity. Strange voices of furtive wild things floated across from
the shore. Once a heavy splash close to the canoe set his heart to
thumping fiercely until he rightly surmised that it was made by a
startled muskrat, surprised at his nocturnal feast of mussels. Again,
as they slipped through the heavy shadows close along shore, there was
a crash in the underbrush which might or might not have been a deer.
It was weird, uncanny, trying in the extreme, yet sending little
electric thrills of fascination through the nerves of the city boy.

How long the journey lasted Walter could not tell, but he judged that
it was at least half an hour before there suddenly broke out ahead a
cry, so human yet so wild, that he felt the very roots of his hair
crawl. Once more it rang over the lake, a high-pitched, maniacal laugh
that rolled across the water and was flung back in crazy echoes from
the shores. In a flash it came to Walter that this must be the cry of
the loon, the Great Northern Diver, of which he had often read. This
time it was answered from the rear. A few minutes later the canoe
grated on the shore. Walter was lifted out, his eyes bandaged, the
bonds removed from his legs and, with a captor on either side, he was
led for some distance along what seemed like an old corduroy logging
road.

On signal from the leader a halt was made and the bandage was removed
from the captive's eyes. Curiously he glanced about, but in the faint
light could make out little. Apparently they were in the middle of a
small opening in the forest. On all sides a seemingly unbroken wall of
blackness, the forest, hemmed them in. In a half circle before him
squatted some two dozen blanketed forms.

One of these now arose and stepped forward. He was tall and rather
slender. In the uncertain light his features appeared to be those of
an Indian. A single feather in his scalp lock was silhouetted against
the sky. A blanket was loosely but gracefully draped about his figure.
Standing in front of the captive he drew himself up proudly to his
full height and, leveling a long bare arm at the prisoner, addressed
him in a deep guttural.

"Paleface, dweller in wigwams of brick and stone, it is made known to
us that your heart turns from the settlements to the heart of the
great forest, and that you desire to become a child of the Lenape,
whose totem is the tortoise, to be adopted by the Delawares, the tribe
of Uncas and Chingachgook; that you long to follow the trail of the
red deer and to spread your blanket beside the sweet waters; to read
the message of the blowing wind, and interpret aright the meaning of
every fallen leaf.

"You have come among us, paleface, not unheralded. Our ears have been
filled with a tale of valor. It has warmed the hearts of the Delawares
and their brothers, the Algonquins. Our young men have had their ears
to the ground; they have followed your trail, and they yearn to make
a place for you at their council fire. But, lest the tales to which
they have listened prove to be but the chirping of a singing bird, it
has been decided in secret council that you must undergo the test of
the spirits.

"Alone in the wigwam of the spirits, where, it is said, on the fifth
night in every month the spirit of a departed brave, stricken in the
prime of his manhood, comes seeking the red hand of his slayer,--here
alone you shall keep watch through the black hours of the night. Thus
shall we know if your heart be indeed the heart of the Lenape; if you
are of the stuff of which Delaware warriors are made; if our ears have
heard truly or if they have indeed been filled with the foolish
chatter of a Whisky Jack (Canada jay).

"If you meet this trial as a warrior should, making neither sign nor
sound, whate'er befall, then will the Delawares receive you with open
arms, no longer a paleface, but a true son of the Tortoise, a blood
brother, for whom a place in the council chamber is even now ready."

Turning to the shadowy group squatting in silence he threw out both
arms dramatically.

"Sons of the Lenape, do I speak truly?" he demanded.

A chorus of guttural grunts signified assent. Turning once more to the
captive the speaker asked:

"Paleface, are you prepared to stand the test?"

As the harangue had proceeded Walter recalled that during the
afternoon he had heard vague references to a haunted cabin across the
lake. Now the conviction was forced upon him that this was the place
in which he was to be left to spend the night alone. In spite of
himself a shiver of something very like fear swept over him, for the
mystery of the night was upon him. But he had firmly resolved not to
show the white feather. Then again he was possessed of a large bump of
sound common sense, and he felt certain that if, when left alone, he
gave way to fear, sharp eyes and ears would be within range to note
and gloat over it. In fact he shrewdly suspected that spies would be
watching him, and that his solitude would be more apparent than real.
He therefore replied:

"I am ready."

Thereupon the leader gave some brief directions to the band, of whom
all but two trailed off in single file and disappeared in the
blackness of the forest. Presently he heard the faint clatter of
paddles carelessly dropped in canoes, and surmised that his late
companions were embarking for camp. A few minutes later the hoot of a
horned owl came from the direction they had taken. This seemed to be a
signal for which his guard had been waiting. Once more the bandage was
placed over his eyes, and he was led for some distance along an old
tote road.

At length a halt was called. His legs were bound and he was picked up
and carried a short distance. Although he could see nothing he was
aware by the change of air that they had entered a building. He
suspected that this was the haunted cabin. He was deposited on a rough
board floor with what appeared to be a roll of old burlap beneath his
head. He was told that his hands and feet would be freed of their
bonds, but he was put upon his honor not to remove the bandage from
his eyes for half an hour.

"Keep your nerve, son, and don't sit up suddenly," was whispered in
his ear.

He could not be sure, but he had a feeling that the speaker was
Woodhull, and to himself he renewed his vow that, come what might, he
would not show the white feather. He heard his captors silently
withdraw and then all was silent.

Cautiously he felt around him. Sticks and bits of bark littered the
floor. Rough hewn logs shut him in on one side, but on the other as
far as he could reach was open space. Feeling above he found that
there was not room to sit upright, and he thanked his unknown friend
for that last timely warning.

The silence grew oppressive. It was broken by a light thump on the
roof, followed by the rasp of swift little claws. "Squirrels," thought
Walter, after the first startled jump. Gradually he became aware of a
feeling that he was not the only tenant of the cabin. Once he heard
something that sounded very like a long drawn sigh. He held his breath
and listened, but there was not another sound. What were those tales
he had heard of the cabin being haunted? He tried to recall them. How
far from the camp was he? Would they come for him in the morning or
would he have to find his way in alone?

In spite of his strange surroundings and lively imagination Walter
found difficulty in keeping awake. Outraged nature was asserting
herself. There had been little sleep for more than twenty-four hours,
and now even the uncertainty of his position could keep him awake no
longer. In fact he had not even removed the bandage from his eyes when
he fell sound asleep.

He was awakened by having this suddenly snatched off. For a few
minutes he blinked stupidly while a mighty shout from the entire
wigwam greeted him:

    "Oh, warrior, tried and true,
    We hereby welcome you!
    We like your nerve!
    We like your sand!
    A place you've won
    Within our band.
    You've won your feather fair--
    You are a DEL-A-WARE!"

Then Walter was hauled forth and shaken hands with and thumped and
pounded on the back by a whooping, laughing crew of boys in all stages
of undress. It was broad daylight and, to his amazement, Walter found
he was not in the haunted cabin but in his own wigwam, where he had
spent the night on the floor underneath his own bunk. The boys, noting
the expression of his face, shouted afresh and mercilessly guyed him
till presently, realizing how completely he had been duped, he wisely
joined in the laugh at his own expense.

Reveille had sounded. Buxby joined him at the wash bench, and on the
way to mess explained how the initiation was worked. When he had been
placed in the canoe they had simply paddled around near camp for half
an hour. He had then been led over an old trail to an opening near,
but out of sight of the camp, and there Woodhull, in the character of
the Indian chief, had delivered the harangue. At its conclusion all
but the guard had gone to the wigwam and at once turned in, one of
them first slipping down to the lake and rattling the paddles,
afterward giving the owl signal. The guard had then led him back to
the wigwam and put him under his own bunk, where the floor had been
strewn with chips and bark to fool him when he felt around, as they
had foreseen he would.

"You're all right, Upton, and say, wasn't Louis a lulu?" concluded the
garrulous Billy.

At mess Walter realized that he had "made good," and was already
accepted as one of themselves by the merry crew of sun-browned
youngsters amongst whom he had come a total stranger less than
twenty-four hours before. Most of all he prized Woodhull's quiet "Good
boy," as he saluted him at the door.



CHAPTER V

THE RECALL


"Oh, you Delaware!"

"Come tell us that tale of the singing bird!"

"Looks pale; must have seen a haunt!"

"Got your goat with you?"

"Come join the young men at their council fire!"

Walter grinned at the good-natured chaff of a group of boys squatting
in front of a shelter tent pitched on the shore of the lake.

"Where's the fire?" he asked.

"What!" cried Tug Benson. "Is he coming among us with the eyes of a
paleface?" He spread his hands above the ashes of a long dead fire as
if warming them. "And here," he added in an injured tone, "we've been
sitting for an hour roasting that loon he heard last night, that he
might feast with us. Now he doesn't even see the fire!" He gave an
exaggerated sniff. "He's done to a turn."

"Which?" asked Billy Buxby innocently. "Walt or the loon?"

"Both," said Spud Ely with conviction. "Say, Upton, tell us about
that scrap."

"Nothing to tell," replied Walter.

"Modest, though mighty, as becomes a son of the Tortoise," commented
Tug. "Say, Walt, did he have light curly hair and a front tooth
missing?"

"Now you mention it, I believe he did," replied Walter.

"Pat Malone!" exclaimed Tug triumphantly. "Sure thing. Say, fellows,
Pat's been hanging 'round camp for the last three or four days; what
do you suppose he's after?"

"Looking for a chance to swipe something," said Billy.

"Aw stow it, Billy! Pat's tough all right, but that doesn't make him a
thief," said Chip Harley.

"I saw Pat talking with Hal Harrison up on the Old Scraggy trail just
at dusk the other night," broke in Ned Peasely. "They seemed mighty
'fraid of being seen. Wonder what's up?"

"Oh, probably Hal's trying to impress on the natives a sense of his
own importance and the power of the almighty dollar," said Spud.

"Cut it out, Spud," advised Tug. "Hal's all right. Some day he'll
forget he's the son of a millionaire. He's got good stuff in him."

"Sure thing," said Chip. "Say, did you know that he brought in another
record fish this morning? Six-pound small-mouth bass. That's what gets
my goat. Here he is, a tenderfoot, and yet he's putting it all over
the fellows that have been here two or three years. He's rolling up
points for the Senecas to beat the band. Say, I'll bet that Pat Malone
has put him next to some secret fishing ground or new bait or
something."

"Speaking of angels----" said Billy.

Walter looked up with the others to see a boy of perhaps fifteen
passing on the trail up from the lake. He wore the regulation camp
dress, but there was something in his bearing, a suggestion of
superiority, a hint of condescension in his curt nod to the group
around the tent, that gave Walter the feeling that he considered
himself a little above his companions. Yet, withal, there was
something likable in his face, despite a rather weak mouth and the
shifty glance of his eyes. Instinctively Walter felt that Tug was
right, and that beneath the supercilious veneer there was the stuff
of which men are made, submerged now by self-indulgence and the
misfortune of being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, as Tug
expressed it.

"Hear you've put another over on us. Say, Hal, put us wise to that
private preserve of yours, will you?" called the irrepressible Billy.

"Do a little scouting and find one for yourself," retorted Hal,
passing on up the trail.

"I have it! We will do a little scouting. We'll trail him 'til we find
out where he gets those big fish. What do you say, fellows?"

"That we'll do nothing of the kind."

The words were spoken quietly, but with a note of authority and
finality that admitted of no contradiction. The boys turned to find
Woodhull in their midst. Unseen he had come up just in time to hear
Billy's last words. They all saluted the chief, and then Billy, who
never was known to let the chance for an argument pass, took up the
subject again.

"Why not, Louis?" he demanded. "I thought it was a Scout's duty to
always keep on the trail of an enemy."

"Meaning whom?" asked Woodhull.

"Why, Harrison, of course. Isn't he a Seneca, and aren't the Senecas
the enemies of the Delawares?"

"Wrong again, Billy," responded the chief. "The Senecas are rivals,
not enemies of the Delawares, and we are going to beat 'em to it in
fair and open contest--if we can. But they are brother Scouts, members
of Woodcraft Camp as we are. Just pin that in your hat. Of all
contemptible beings the most contemptible is a spy, save in actual
warfare. No, my son, if Hal has been smart enough to beat us all at
locating the hiding-places of big fish he is entitled to the honors.
Put your powers as a Scout to work and find the fish for yourself, my
son; but no spying on fellow Scouts.

"Tug, suppose you take Upton out to the swimming raft and try him out.
You know the Hurons drew a prize in Hampton, who came in last week.
Billy, I've got a bit of surveying to do on the Little Knob trail, and
I need a rod man. Are you on?"

"You bet! you know I'd follow you to the North Pole, Louis," replied
Billy, rising with alacrity.

Tug and Walter started for their tights, while the others continued to
sprawl lazily around the tent.

"The chief's right," said Spud meditatively. "It wouldn't be a square
deal to spy on Hal. Just the same I'd like to know where he gets those
fish. You don't suppose----" He broke off abruptly.

"You don't suppose what?" asked Chip.

"Oh, nothin'!"

"Come, Spud, out with it! What don't you suppose?"

Spud clasped his hands about his knees and gazed thoughtfully into the
fireplace.

"What does Hal do with all his spending money?" he demanded abruptly.

Chip looked up, startled. "You don't mean, Spud, that you think for a
minute he----"

"No, I don't," Spud broke in. "I don't believe there's a fellow in
camp low down mean enough to try to win points with things he'd
bought. But why couldn't he have hired some one to put him
next--guide for him?"

The boys considered this in silence for a few minutes.

"Aw, forget it, Spud," advised Chip. "Hal wouldn't do that. He's got
us going, and we're sore, that's all. Let's take a canoe and try for
that big laker you lost the other day."

"I'm with you," replied Spud promptly. "Bet he don't get away from me
again!"

Meanwhile Walter and Tug had paddled out to the raft, where boys from
both wigwams were enjoying a morning swim. Walter was a fair swimmer,
but he soon found that Tug quite outclassed him. As a matter of fact
Tug was the star swimmer of the tribe, and in the water was as much at
home as a fish. He watched Walter critically for a few minutes.

"You'll do best at long distance," he decided. "We'll put you in for
the quarter mile. You're rotten on the crawl, and the crawl's the only
thing for the hundred yards. You've got something to learn on that
overhand, too. You fight the water too much. You don't get in your
full power, and when you try to hit it up you waste your strength.
Here, let me show you!"

With a clean-cut dive Tug left the raft, and Walter watched with
admiration, not unmixed with envy, the powerful yet easy overhand
strokes that sent the swimmer through the water without apparent
exertion, yet at a speed that made his own best efforts seem hopeless.
Tug regained the raft, and Walter noted that he was breathing as
easily as if he had not been in the water at all.

"Say, Tug, will you coach me?" he asked eagerly.

"Surest thing you ever knew! That's what I'm here for," was Tug's
hearty reply. "But you've got to keep at it every day. No soldiering,
and, kid, no getting mad when I throw the hooks into you! If we can
get even a third in the quarter we'll pretty near break even with the
Hurons. The Algonquins have only one man we're really afraid of, and
the Senecas don't cut much ice in the water, but are all to the good
on it."

"Paddling?" asked Walter.

"Yep," replied Tug. "They've got a great tandem team, and a four I'm
afraid we can't touch at all. And then you know they've got a long
lead on points for fish, thanks to Harrison. By Jove, I should like to
know where he gets those big fellows, and what bait he uses. He's mum
as an oyster."

Just as they stepped into the canoe to paddle back to camp the notes
of a bugle rang clear and full across the water.

"Hello!" exclaimed Tug, pausing to look over the camp. "That's the
'recall.' Wonder what's up. That means everybody report at once. Hit
her up, kid!"

As soon as the canoe touched shore the boys sprang out and turned it
bottom up on the beach. As they hurried up to headquarters boys were
pouring in from all directions, on every face a look of wondering
curiosity. The recall was sounded only in case of an emergency.

When the last straggler within sound of the bugle had hurried in, Dr.
Merriam stepped from the office. His face was very grave as he studied
the expectant faces turned toward him. An instant hush fell over the
waiting boys.

"Scouts of Woodcraft Camp," began the doctor slowly, and it seemed as
if he measured each word as he spoke, "I have had the recall sounded
because of a discovery made an hour since--a discovery unprecedented
in the annals of Woodcraft Camp. It is that there is or has been a
thief in our midst." He paused for an instant while his keen eyes
scanned the startled faces before him. Then with one of his rarely
beautiful smiles he added, "But I do not believe that any member of
this camp is guilty."

Instantaneous relief rippled over the faces before him and the doctor,
noting it, smiled again. Then once more his face grew grave and stern,
as he continued:

"For some days little things have been missed around headquarters.
That they were stolen we have not been willing to believe, preferring
to think that they had been mislaid. But this morning occurred a loss
which admits of no doubt that there has been a thief in camp. You all
remember the little gold clasp pin in the shape of a Maltese cross,
set with three small diamonds, which Mrs. Merriam always wears at her
throat?"

The boys nodded. They would have been poor Scouts indeed had they not
noticed the one bit of jewelry which "Mother" Merriam allowed herself
in camp.

"This morning Mrs. Merriam laid the pin on the sill of the north
window of her room. Five minutes later she went to get it, but it was
not there. Nor was it on the ground outside or on the floor inside.
The actual value is not great but, because of sentimental
associations, the value is not to be computed in dollars and cents. To
Mrs. Merriam that little pin is priceless. I have called you together
to tell you of this loss, believing that there is not one among you
but will gladly give of his time and best endeavor to discover the
thief and secure if possible the return of Mrs. Merriam's valued
keepsake. I ask each one of you to report to me privately any
suspicious circumstances he may be aware of or may discover. That is
all."

The boys at once broke into excited groups. That there could be a
thief among them was inconceivable. Still, there had been few
strangers in camp, two or three guides and a few lumber-jacks passing
through, and all of these above suspicion.

Chip Harley joined Walter and Tug, and the three walked on in
silence. It was broken by Chip.

"Say, fellows," said he, "you remember what was said about Pat Malone
this morning? Well, he was in camp just afterward."

"How do you know?" asked Tug.

"Saw him," said Chip. "He came in while you fellows were swimming.
Left a message for Tom Mulligan. When he left he took the trail up
past headquarters."

Tug and Walter considered this information soberly.

"Looks bad," said Tug. "Shall you report to the big chief?"

"I don't know," replied Chip. "It's suspicious, any way you look at
it."

"Don't do it yet," said Walter. "You haven't got any real evidence,
you know. And let's not say anything about it to the other fellows. It
does look mighty suspicious, but I don't believe that a fellow who
would take a licking and then get up and shake hands the way Pat did
with me would steal. Let's do a little scouting before we say
anything. What's the matter with us three working together on this
thing?"

"Good!" agreed Tug. "Each night we'll get together and report all
clues discovered. Gee, but I'd like to find that pin for Mother
Merriam!"

"You bet!" said Walter. "And I'd like to clear Pat, too," he added to
himself.

The three shook hands on the compact, and separated to look for clues.
True to their agreement, they said nothing about Pat. But others had
seen the sawmill boy in camp, and by night there was a pretty general
conviction that Pat was the thief, so easy is it for mere suspicion to
pose as truth. A few of the more hot-headed were for rounding Pat up
the next day and forcing him to confess, but wiser council prevailed,
and it was agreed that Pat should be left alone until real evidence
against him was produced. After evening mess Chip, Walter and Tug met
in a quiet corner to report.

"Well?" said Tug.

"Footprints," said Chip sententiously. "Found 'em leaving the regular
trail just north of the office, and pointing toward Mother Merriam's
window. Just about Pat's size, they were. Prints of the hobnails in
the right showed clearly, and three are missing on the ball. Sprinkled
some dirt over the tracks so that no one else would find them. What
did you find, Tug?"

"Nothin', except that Pat went from here straight up to the Durant
lumber camp," replied Tug.

"And you, Walt?"

"Nothing but this," said Walter, drawing the tail feather of a crow
from his pocket. "Found it caught in the window screen."

"Worse and more of it," growled Tug. "Pat usually has a feather
sticking in that old hat of his. Don't you remember?"

"Yep," responded Chip.

They sat in silence for a while, considering the evidence.

"Looks bad, doesn't it?" said Chip gloomily.

"It sure does," assented Walter, "but footprints and a feather are
mighty small things on which to brand a fellow a thief. Let's wait
till we get something else before we say anything."

"Right-oh!" responded Tug, rising to stretch. "I'm going to turn in.
Nine o'clock sharp at the raft to-morrow, Walt."

"Sure!" replied Walter.

Then, with the sounding of "taps" the boys sought their bunks.



CHAPTER VI

THE SPECTER IN CAMP


A shadow lay over Woodcraft Camp. The routine of daily life went on as
before, but there was something lacking. The fun-making was not
spontaneous. There was no enthusiasm in work or play. The old time
jollying ceased. The rivalry between the tribes seemed falling into
hopeless apathy. Even Spud Ely's success in temporarily wresting the
fishing honors from Hal Harrison and the Senecas by landing a
twelve-pound lake trout served to awaken no more than a passing
interest.

Suspicion, the grimmest of all specters, strode back and forth through
the camp. Whenever a group of boys came together it peered over their
shoulders and with bony fingers choked back laughter and song and
strangled the old freedom of speech. It sat at mess, and the chill of
its presence was felt in the wigwams at night. Who had stolen Mother
Merriam's pin? Who? Who? Could it be that the thief was really one of
their number?

For more than a week nothing was seen of Pat Malone. To many, hasty of
judgment, eager to rid themselves of the specter, this was construed
as evidence of guilt. But still the specter would not down. The strain
was telling not only on the spirits but on the tempers of the boys.
Under it they were becoming irritable, quick to take offense.

Every night Tug Benson, Chip Harley and Walter met to report progress,
or, rather, lack of it. Finally, just a week after the sounding of the
"recall," Chip was sent on an errand to the Durant lumber camp. As
soon as evening mess was over he signaled Tug and Walter to meet him
back of the wood-pile. There was a gleam of triumph in his eyes that
belied the studied gloom of his face as he looked up to greet them.

"Well?" said Tug.

"It's Pat, all right!" said Chip sententiously.

"Are you sure? Absolutely sure?" Tug and Walter cried together.

"Sure as--as--sure as I be that skeeters bite," replied Chip,
slapping viciously at his neck.

"Did you find the pin?" asked Walter eagerly.

"Naw! You don't suppose he'd be such a fool as to have it lying around
in plain sight, do you?" Chip's tone indicated his supreme disgust.
"But," he continued, "it's a cinch that he took it just the same.
What'd we better do about it?"

"How the deuce do we know, when you haven't told us your story yet?
Come, out with it, you tantalizing blockhead!" growled Tug
impatiently.

Chip shrugged his shoulders and grinned. "Well," he began, "you know
the big chief sent me over to the Durant camp with a message this
afternoon. After I'd delivered it I thought I'd just look round a bit,
and do a little scoutin'. Pat wasn't there. Fact is, the whole gang
was in the woods 'cept the boss and the cook. Got kind of chummy with
the cook, and he opened up a nice little can of his own private
troubles and poured 'em out for my special benefit.

"Seems he ain't got much use for boys, and for Pat Malone in
particular. Nothin' special, I guess, only Pat plays tricks on him and
raids his cooky box pretty often. They're good cookies, all right," he
added reminiscently.

"Well, I jollied him along," continued Chip, "and went pokin' 'round
like I'd never seen a lumber camp before. Pretty soon I see a pair of
spiked boots hanging on a nail. 'What'll you take for the boots,
cookie?' says I. Cookie grinned. 'Them ain't mine,' says he. 'They
belong to that young rascal Pat Malone. I reckon money wouldn't buy
'em of him. Sets as much store by 'em as if they was pure gold. Was
give to him by one of the fellers over to your camp.'"

Tug looked up startled. "What's that?" he asked sharply. "You don't
suppose--you--say, do you believe it could have been Hal Harrison?"

Chip grinned. "Sure thing," said he. "Found his name in the top of one
of 'em."

Tug and Walter looked at each other blankly, while Chip went on with
his tale.

"When cookie wasn't looking I just naturally examined those boots a
little closer, and measured 'em with a bit of string. They're just the
size of those prints we found under Mother Merriam's window, and
there's three nails missing from the soles of the right one!" he
concluded dramatically. "Now what do you fellers think we'd better
do?"

Tug sat down and idly began to throw chips. "Looks bad," he ventured.

"Bad!" snorted Chip, "I call it open and shut, iron-bound, no-loophole
evidence! Pat's the thief, or I'll eat my shirt."

"Guess you'll find Durant cookies better eating," said Walter drily.

Chip looked a bit sheepish. Then he slipped a hand into a capacious
pocket and brought forth three crisp brown discs. "They are pretty
good," he admitted as he passed one to each of the others. "Might as
well admit that I followed Pat's lead. Brought 'em along just to prove
that I really was there, Walt's such a doubter," he explained
ingenuously.

For a few minutes the boys munched the cookies in appreciative
silence. When the last brown crumb had disappeared Chip returned to
the subject.

"Well, Walt, what ought we to do?" he demanded.

"Nothing."

Chip got up from the chopping block and dramatically planted himself
in front of Walter. "Say, what's chewing you, anyway?" he demanded.
"You don't mean to tell us that you still think Pat innocent!"

"I'm not going to think him guilty until there is some proof," replied
Walter doggedly.

"Proof!" Chip fairly yelped the word out. "Proof! Haven't I given you
proof enough? What more do you want?" Chip flung himself down on the
chopping block in sheer disgust.

"It's wholly circumstantial evidence, and--and----" Walter hesitated.

"And what?" demanded Chip. "Spit it out!"

"Why, the fact is----" Walter hesitated again.

"Come on! Come on! Out with it!" Tug broke in.

"Well, there is another pair of hobnailed boots of the same size in
our own camp, and three nails are missing from the right one!"

Chip and Tug stared at him blankly. Then Tug gave vent to a long
whistle of incredulity. "Say," he demanded, "what kind of a bunco
steer are you givin' us, anyway? Say that over again, you sawed off
pocket edition of Sherlock Holmes!"

Walter was somewhat nettled and he replied rather tartly, "I said that
there is another pair of boots in camp that might have made those
prints."

"Whose are they?" Chip demanded.

Again Walter hesitated, and grew uncomfortably red in the face. "What
is the honor of a Scout?" he asked abruptly. "Has one Scout any right
to cast suspicion on the honor of another Scout? I don't believe that
the owner of this second pair of boots knows any more than we do about
Mother Merriam's pin, but if I should tell you who he is you couldn't
help but wonder, and wondering, that kind of wondering, leads to
suspicion. You couldn't help it. Until this thing is cleared up you
couldn't look that fellow straight in the face with quite the same
feeling you do now. I didn't mean to say anything about it, but I had
to to show how little real evidence Pat's boots afford. By the way,
Chip, do you know just which nails are missing from Pat's boot, and
which three were lacking in those prints?"

Chip confessed that this was a detail he had wholly overlooked.

"Then that's where we all fall down on the footprint clue," said
Walter. "Strikes me we're blamed poor Scouts. The prints are gone now,
and if we had both pairs of boots here what good would they do us?
Without knowing which nails were missing in the prints we couldn't
tell which boots made 'em, and there you are! We'd simply be all the
more suspicious of the owner of the second pair of boots."

Tug arose and impulsively held out his hand. "Shake, old man! I for
one don't want to know who owns those boots. My, my, this business is
bad enough as it is!" he said.

"Them's my sentiments too," Chip broke in. "It's bad enough to suspect
one fellow outside the camp, and I should hate awfully to have that
kind of feeling about a brother Scout."

Walter's face cleared as the three shook hands. "I'm glad you fellows
see it that way," he said. "We leave matters right where they were
then, do we?"

"Sure thing!" Tug spoke emphatically. "Mum's the word. We'll just keep
up our quiet little hunt and say nothin'. Gee, but I would hate
awfully to think that maybe some of the fellers thought I was a thief!
Of course I'm naturally curious about that other pair of boots, but I
wouldn't listen now if you tried to tell me, for just as sure as
little fishes have tails I'd get to thinkin' about that feller in a
way I wouldn't want anybody to think of me. Funny about those boots of
Pat's, ain't it? You don't suppose Hal gave 'em to him to pay
for---- Oh, rats! There it is! It's with Hal just like it would be
with the owner of that second pair of boots. We don't like him. He's
licked us to a frazzle fishin', and here we are suspectin' he ain't on
the level. Let's cut it out! Say, I've got an idea!"

"Phew! You don't say! I wouldn't have believed it of you, Tug,"
drawled Chip. "Hold it down with both hands 'til Walter can identify
it."

Tug promptly back-heeled Chip and calmly sat on his head while that
unfortunate helplessly thrashed on the ground and in smothered tones
begged to be released.

"Think you can be respectful to your elders?" inquired Tug, holding
his seat by pinning down both arms of his victim.

A smothered mumble was translated to mean assent, and Chip was
released.

Tug proceeded to explain his idea. "You remember what Louis said to
Billy the other day? Well, what's the matter with us three hanging
together to beat Hal at his own game? We all like fishin', and there's
just as big fish in this little old lake as Hal has yanked out of it.
If he can find 'em we can. We've been trustin' too much to luck, same
as the rest of the fellers do. My idea----"

Chip cleared his throat, and Tug turned to glare at his erstwhile
victim. But that young gentleman looked so innocent as he inquired,
"What's your idea, Tug?" that the latter relaxed his belligerent
attitude and resumed.

"My idea is that we read up about the different kinds of fish around
here, their habits, what they eat, when they feed, the kind of bottom
they like best and all that sort of thing. The big chief's got a lot
of books about fish, and he'll be tickled silly to have us read 'em.
Then we'll pump Big Jim and Tom Mulligan, and do some real
scoutin'--for fish instead of thieves. If Hal has anything on us then
we'll just naturally take off our hats to him and give him the high
sign."

"Bully!" cried Walter. "We've got just time before 'taps' to read up a
little on small-mouth black bass, and we'll get away at daybreak
to-morrow mornin' for our first scoutin'. I'll go right up t' the big
chief's and borrow the book. Tug, you go hunt up Louis and get
permission for the three of us to take a canoe and leave before mess,
and, Chip, you hustle over and bamboozle cookie into puttin' up a
lunch for us."

The others agreed, and the three boys separated on their several
errands. As they disappeared in the gathering dusk a rough unkempt
figure crawled from behind the wood-pile and watched them, an ugly
frown darkening his dirty but usually good-natured face.

"Yez think Oi'm a thafe, do yez?" he growled. "Oi don't know what yez
think Oi shtole, fer Oi didn't get here in toime ter hear ut all, but
if Oi iver get yez alone Oi'll make yez chaw thim wurrds and shwaller
thim. Oi'll--Oi'll----" He shook a grimy fist at the retreating
figures. His eyes rested a moment on Walter's square, sturdy figure
and he seemed to hear again the quiet voice: "I'm not going to think
him guilty 'til there's some proof."

Gradually his face softened. "Thot bye's all roight. He's sound
timber, he is," he muttered.

He slipped into the blackness of the forest and presently hit the
Durant trail. For the most part his thoughts were as black as the
shadows around him.

"Thafe, is ut?" he muttered to himself. "Oi guess ut ain't healthy fer
the loikes av me around thot camp. What roight have th' loikes av thim
ter be callin' me a thafe jist because Oi'm poor an' live in the
woods? What roight have they to be callin' me a thafe, an' me wid no
chance ter say a wurrd? What show's a bye loike me got, anyway? Whin
thot Walt bye licked me he said Oi ought ter be a Bye Scout, an' Oi'd
begun ter think ut must be somethin' foine. But if this is the way
they be afther doin', callin' a bye a thafe widout him iver knowin'
what's been shtole, Oi want nothin' ter do at all, at all wid Bye
Scouts. Oi wonder what thot honor bus'ness is thot Walt bye talked so
much about. Oi'll pump thot bye wid his pockets full av rocks an' see
what he knows about ut."

Abruptly his thoughts reverted to the fishing pact he had overheard
and slowly a grin crept among the freckles. "Goin' ter bate Harrison,
be yez?" He slipped a hand into a pants pocket and clinked some loose
change there. "Oi wonder now, have yez got the price? Oi guess yez
don't know what yez be up aginst. Jist the same Oi'd loike thot Walt
bye ter win out."

A sudden thought struck him. "Oi wonder now wud he----" He took a
silver dollar from his pocket and held it up so that a ray from the
rising moon was thrown up from it in a bright gleam. "No," he said,
"no, Oi don't belave he wud, though why not Oi don't see at all, at
all."

He rapidly strode forward to the bunkhouse, and for once forgot to
play a good-night trick on the long-suffering cook.

The moon crept higher and higher. It filtered through the great forest
and touched the white birches with ghostly gleam. It looked down upon
a thousand tragedies among the little people of the night. It bathed
the two camps in silvery light, and all unconscious of the greater
tragedy in the hearts of men, it caressed into points of living flame
the tiny diamonds in Mother Merriam's pin.

But there was no one there to see, and for a few hours even the
specter in the wigwams slept.



CHAPTER VII

FIRST LESSONS


Walter's skill with his camera gradually won for him the distinction
of being the best photographer in camp. When, therefore, he somewhat
diffidently told Chief Woodhull of his ambition to secure some
flashlight views of deer the chief listened attentively to the plans
suggested for securing them, and promised to lay them before Dr.
Merriam. Imagine Walter's delight when on the following day the big
chief sent for him, and after close questioning informed him that it
was arranged for him to make a two days' trip to Lonesome Pond with
Big Jim for the purpose of trying for the coveted photographs of wild
deer in their native haunts.

It was an almost unprecedented honor for a first year boy. The
privilege of making such an expedition alone with one of the guides
was reserved for the older boys, whose experience and training fitted
them for the "roughing" which such a trip usually involved. Walter
fairly walked on air when he left Dr. Merriam to seek Big Jim and make
the necessary arrangements. He found the guide tinkering with a
jack-light.

"Dr. Merriam says----" began Walter.

"I know all about it, son," interrupted the guide. "You an' me'll be
pardners for a couple o' days, and we'll start before daylight
to-morrow morning. Rustle round now and get your picter machine ready.
I reckon Mr. Peaked Toes will be a mighty unsartin subjec', a leetle
mite bashful. If you don't get him th' first shot, 'tain't likely
he'll wait fer a second, so it's up to you t' hev everythin' in
workin' order. Run over an' tell cookie thet I want two loaves o'
bread, a slab o' bacon, some butter in a wide-mouth jar, flour, salt,
cocoa an' sugar fer a two days' trip. We're goin' light, so you won't
need t' bring nothin' but yer fish rod, blankets, sneaks an' an extra
handkercher. Better turn in early, fer we want t' start at four
o'clock sharp. Hev cookie put up a lunch. Now skip!"

At quarter of four the next morning Walter slipped out of the wigwam.
The moon had not yet set, while in the east appeared the first faint
flush of the coming day. The forest lay black and still. For a moment
or two he shivered in the chill of the outer air after the warmth of
the wigwam. There was a light in the guides' cabin, and thither he
made his way at once.

Just outside the door stood a pack basket, a tightly rolled blanket
lashed across it, and the handle of a frying-pan protruding from the
top. Big Jim's favorite paddle leaned against it. As Walter
approached, the door opened and the guide stepped out.

"Hello, pard!" said he. "I was jes' comin' over t' pull yer out o' yer
blankets. Come in here an' hev a cup o' hot cocoa an' stow thet snack
away; it's easier t' carry inside than out."

When Walter had gulped down the hot drink and eaten the lunch put up
for him by the cook he felt ready for anything.

As they took their way down the trail to the lake the hoot of a great
horned owl suddenly broke the silence and wakened startled echoes on
Old Scraggy.

"Whooo-hoo-hoo-hoo! Whooo-hoo-hoo!"

"Ole Fly-by-night must hev had poor huntin' last evenin'," said the
guide. "Do you see him, son?"

Walter searched the trees near at hand, but could make out nothing
that resembled a bird, and his chagrin was deepened by the guide's
next remark.

"Them books may tell yer where t' look, but they don't teach yer how
t' use th' eyes God give yer. Now any five-year-old born in th' woods
would hev seen thet big swelled up bunch o' feathers fust thing. Look
at thet tall pine stump over thar t' th' right and----"

"Whooo-hoo-hoo-hoo! Whooo-hoo-hoo!" rang the fierce cry again, and
almost on the instant the top of the stump resolved into a huge,
broad-winged bird, that swiftly and noiselessly dropped behind a low
hemlock. A moment later it reappeared, a hare struggling in its
talons, and flew heavily over toward a swamp. Big Jim promptly seized
upon the episode to drive home a lesson in woodcraft.

"Pard," said he, "thar's a better lesson in the A B C o' wood life
than I could give yer in a month o' talkin'. If thet hare hadn't let
its narves go on th' jump, and had remembered what she ought t' hev
knowed afore she was born, thet to sit tight an' not move a muscle
when yer don't want t' be seen is th' first law o' th' woods, she'd be
sittin' nice an' snug this very minute, instead o' stuffin' ole
Fly-by-night's craw. Puss was narvous. The hoot startled her an' she
moved jest a leetle bit. Probably she rustled a leaf. Them big owls is
all ears. Fact, son; the whole side o' th' head, pretty near, is an
ear. He heared thet leaf rustle, an' he was Johnny-on-the-spot in a
jiffy. Yer saw what happened. Never make a sudden move in th' woods.
Sit tight if yer don't want t' be seen, or move so slowly thet
nothin's goin' t' notice it. Don't never ferget it! Yer've jes' seen
what fergettin' may cost. When yer go in th' woods leave yer narves t'
hum."

The pack basket and duffle were stowed in the middle of the canoe,
Walter took the bow seat and the guide, kneeling in the stern, for he
had never outgrown his early training when canoes of his acquaintance
had no seats, shot the little craft out into the lake. As they turned
into the low marshy estuary which marked the outlet of the lake, the
first rays of the rising sun glanced over Mt. Seward.

Once in the main channel of the river they felt the gentle force of
the current, and under Jim's powerful stroke they swept swiftly on.
Walter had been doing his full share, for he was a good paddler, but
now the guide suggested that he put up his paddle and hold his camera
ready for whatever they might surprise along the river's edge, or up
some of the numerous setbacks.

The boy put his paddle aside and, slipping a film pack into the
camera, set the focus for one hundred feet. Then with thumb and
forefinger of his right hand on the focussing screw, ready to shorten
the focus should they get within less than one hundred feet of a
subject, he set himself to watch the shores.

"Remember now, no talkin' an' no sudden moves," cautioned the guide.

Alas for Walter! The lesson had yet to be driven home. Not five
minutes later the canoe shot around a bend, and without a sound glided
into a setback. Almost instantly a low warning hiss from Big Jim put
Walter on his guard. The canoe seemed merely to drift, but if the boy
could have seen the guide he would have witnessed a magnificent
exhibition of the canoeman's art as, with paddle deep in the water and
moving so slowly as to make hardly a perceptible ripple, he still kept
the craft under perfect control.

Walter, every nerve tense, scanned the shores in a vain effort to
discover the cause of the guide's warning. Inch by inch the canoe
crept on and still the boy saw nothing but the placid, pad-strewn
surface of the water, and the forest-lined shore. Presently his eager
ears caught a faint splash off to his right. Like a flash he turned,
swinging his camera with him. The next instant he realized his
mistake. With a sharp whistle of surprise and alarm a doe noisily
splashed shoreward from a point not fifty yards distant, where she had
been standing among the lily-pads. From the instant the canoe had
first caught her attention and excited her curiosity she had remained
so motionless that Walter had failed utterly to pick her out from the
background with which her protective coloring blended so marvelously.

But the moment the boy moved she whirled for the shore, sending the
water flying in a shower of silver. As the boy, in open-mouthed
astonishment, watched her she lightly leaped a fallen log, and with a
parting flirt of her white flag disappeared in the undergrowth.

Walter's chagrin was too deep for words. Indeed, he was very near to
tears as he realized what a rare opportunity he had missed, and how
wholly his own fault it was. He did not dare look at Big Jim, and
there was no comfort in the guide's slow, sarcastic drawl:

"A clean miss, pard. Did them books teach yer thet lightnin' whirl?
'Pears t' me thet you an' puss back thar, keepin' company with ole
Fly-by-night, belong in th' same class. Now if yer mem'ry had been as
good as yer fergittery we'd most likely hev drifted right up t' thet
thar deer. No use wastin' more time in here. Some day when yer hev
larned a leetle more woodcraft mebbe we'll run down an' try it agen."

This surely was rubbing it in, and Big Jim meant it to be so. Right
down in his big heart he was almost as disappointed for the boy as
was the boy himself, but he felt that this was the time to drive the
lesson home. Every word stung the chagrined young photographer like a
whip-lash, and he could not trust himself to make reply. He was
mortified beyond expression, for he had prided himself that he knew
the value of noiselessness and motionlessness, and that when the test
should come he would win golden opinions from the guide for his
display of woodcraft. Now, at the very first opportunity, he had
failed miserably, acting like the veriest tyro, and he felt himself
humbled to the last degree.

Had he turned he might have caught a kindly twinkle in the blue eyes
watching the dejected droop of his figure, but he kept his face
steadily to the front, gazing fixedly ahead, yet seeing nothing, while
automatically he swung his paddle and gloomily lived over the
bitterness of his mistake.

They were now once more in the current, and in a matter-of-fact way
the guide suggested that Walter put his paddle up and be ready for
whatever else might offer. As he adjusted the camera the boy resolved
that this time, come what might, he would show Big Jim that he had
learned his lesson.

The opportunity came sooner than he had dared hope it would. The canoe
swerved sharply toward the east bank, and presently Walter made out a
little brown bunch on the end of a log. With a nod of the head he
signaled the guide that he saw, and then attended strictly to his end
of the matter in hand. By this time the canoe was close in to the
bank, so deftly handled that it would approach within twenty feet of
the log before emerging from the screen of a fallen tree which the
guide had instantly noted and taken advantage of.

Jim was paddling only enough for steerage way, allowing the current to
drift them down. They were now close to the fallen tree, and the guide
began to silently work the little craft around the outer end. Walter
had reduced the focus to twenty-five feet. As they drifted nearer and
nearer to the subject he began to shake with nervous excitement, so
that it was only by the exercise of all his will power that he could
hold the camera steady. Inch by inch they crept past the tree and
Walter strained his eyes for a glimpse of the old log with its little
bunch of fur. He was holding his breath from sheer excitement. Ha!
There was the outer end of the log, and there, a foot or so back, sat
a muskrat, wholly oblivious to their presence.

Slowly, with the utmost caution, Walter turned in his seat, so slowly
that it seemed ages to him. The guide had checked the canoe within
less than twenty feet of the log and Walter altered his focus
accordingly. Now in his reflecting finder he clearly saw the little
fur bearer, a mussel in his paws. With a sigh of relief Walter heard
the click of the shutter in response to the squeeze of the bulb, held
in his left hand. Then as the rat made a frightened plunge, he
remembered that he had forgotten to withdraw the slide before making
the exposure.

It is an error the novice frequently makes and that the expert is
sometimes guilty of. It was, therefore, not surprising that under the
stress of excitement Walter should suffer this lapse of memory, but
coming as it did immediately after his other fiasco, it was almost
more than he could bear.

Big Jim was chuckling delightedly over the supposed success. "Reckon
musky never set fer his picter afore! Did he look pleasant? Pard, yer
sure did thet trick well. Had a bit o' buck fever fust along, I
reckon. Thought yer seemed kind o' shaky. Don't yer mind thet none.
I've seen a feller with a clean open shot at a standin' deer within
fifty yards wobble his rifle round so thet th' safest thing in thet
neighborhood was thet thar deer. Now we'll go on fer th' next."

Walter did not have the courage to tell the guide then of his second
blunder, but resolved that when they got in camp that night he would
own up like a man. For the next three miles nothing eventful occurred.
Then the boy got his third chance. It was a great blue heron this
time. It was standing on one foot, the other drawn up until it was
hidden among the feathers of the under part of the body. The long neck
was laid back on the shoulders, the sharp bill half buried in the
feathers of the breast. The big bird appeared to be dozing. The light
fell just right, and as it was intensified by reflection from the
water, Walter felt sure of a good photograph.

Little by little the canoe drifted in. Forty feet, thirty, twenty,
ten--click! This time there was no mistake. Working quickly but
cautiously, with as little motion as possible, he pulled out and tore
off the tab, set the shutter and, as the big bird spread its wings, a
second click caught it at the very start of its flight. The shutter
was set at the two hundredth part of a second, so that despite the
nearness of the subject, Walter felt reasonably certain that little
movement would show in the photograph.

"Get him?" asked Jim.

"Two of him," replied Walter, a note of pardonable pride in his voice.

"Thet's th' stuff! Ye're larnin' fast," said the guide, once more
shooting the canoe into the current.

This success went far to offset the previous failures and the boy's
spirits rose. He began to enjoy his surroundings as he had not been
able to since the episode with the deer. Mile after mile slipped
behind them, the limpid brown water sliding between the unbroken
wilderness on either bank. Try as he would he could not get over the
impression of sliding down-hill, such was the optical effect of the
swiftly-moving water.

At last he heard a dull roar which increased in volume with every
minute. Then they rounded a sharp turn, and before them the whole
river became a churning, tumbling mass of white, with here and there
an ugly black rock jutting above the surface. The canoe felt the
increased movement of the water and the boy's heart beat faster as the
bow of the little craft still pointed straight down the middle of the
river. Could it be that Big Jim would try to run those tumbling,
roaring rapids!

"Sit tight and don't move!" came the guide's sharp, terse command.

The canoe all but grazed a great gray boulder. Then dead ahead, not
two inches under water, Walter saw another. Surely they must strike
this, and then--he closed his eyes for just a second. When he opened
them the canoe was just shooting through the churning froth on the
edge of the rock, and that immediate danger was past. He realized then
how completely the man behind him was master of the river and their
craft. With fascinated eyes he watched each new danger loom up and
pass almost before he realized its ugly threat.

The roar of the rapids was now so loud that it drowned all other
sounds. Presently he became aware that they were no longer in
mid-stream. With a few powerful strokes the guide shot the canoe into
a back eddy and a second later it grounded lightly on a tiny sand
beach where Jim held it until Walter could leap out and pull it up
securely.

"How'd yer like thet?" shouted the guide as he lifted his pack basket
out.

"Great!" replied the boy, his eyes shining with excitement, as he
helped take out the duffle.

Big Jim adjusted the basket to his back, lashed the paddles across the
thwarts of the canoe so that when they rested on his shoulders, with
the canoe inverted over his head, it balanced perfectly, and leaving
Walter to follow with the rest of the duffle plunged into what seemed
at first glance an almost impenetrable thicket of maple, birch and
moosewood.

Walter found, however, that there was a well-defined trail, albeit a
rough one. It followed the course of the river, over moss-grown
decaying tree trunks, across old skidways, now firm to the foot and
again a bed of oozy black swamp muck in which he sank half-way to his
knees. After a mile of this they came out on the bank of the river
just at the foot of the falls which marked the end of the rapids. The
canoe was launched at once and in a few minutes they were again
speeding down-stream.

Three and a half miles below they made another portage. This put them
in a lake at the upper end of which a shallow stream connected with a
string of three small ponds. The last of these was known as Lonesome
Pond, and this was their destination.



CHAPTER VIII

LONESOME POND


Lonesome Pond was well named. A mile long by perhaps half a mile wide
at its widest point, it lay like a turquoise in an emerald setting
between two mountains whose upper slopes were dark with a splendid
stand of spruce and pine. A magnificent growth of birch, maple and ash
with an occasional pine or hemlock scattered among them grew to the
water's edge, save along the southern end where they had entered. Here
for some distance a sphagnum swamp, dotted with graceful tamaracks,
extended on either side of the narrow outlet, in places forming a
natural open meadow.

The pond was shallow at this end, with great masses of lily-pads, both
of the white and the yellow or cow-lily. In contrast to this the shore
of the upper end was bold and rocky, heavily wooded to the water's
edge. Here on a tiny patch of shingle, the only break in the rocky
shore line, the canoe was beached. A trail led up for a hundred yards
into a grove of hemlocks where, completely hidden from the lake, was
the camp which was Big Jim's objective point. Two comfortable lean-tos
had been built perhaps ten feet apart and facing each other, with a
stout windbreak closing one side between the two. The lean-tos were of
hemlock bark, peeled from forest giants and flattened to huge sheets.
These sheets formed the sides, back and steeply sloping roofs, the
entire front of each, after the manner of all lean-tos, being left
open. In the middle, between the two, were the charred embers of old
fires, while the matted brown needles of small hemlock and balsam
twigs in both lean-tos bore mute witness to the spicy, comfortable
beds of other campers. A rough board table stood at one side of the
fireplace.

"Here we be, pard," said Big Jim as he swung his basket to the ground.
"You take this pail an' follow thet trail yonder till you find a
spring, while I dig out th' grub. Reckon you must be hungry. We'll hev
a bit o' bacon now and a good square meal to-night."

It was long past noon, and now that the excitement of the journey was
over Walter realized how empty his stomach was. He found the spring
easily, and when he returned Big Jim already had his basket unpacked
and was just starting the fire. He had cut two bed logs about six feet
long and eight or ten inches in diameter. These he had flattened on
top and one side and had placed side by side, flat sides opposite and
some three inches apart at one end, spreading to ten inches at the
other. Between these he had built a fire of hemlock bark started with
birch bark, which, by the way, is as good as kerosene for starting a
fire. In a few minutes he had a bed of glowing coals over which the
frying-pan was soon sizzling, and that most delicious of all odors,
frying bacon, mingled with pungent wood smoke, assailed the boy's
eager nostrils.

By making the fireplace and fire in this way, Big Jim explained, the
frying-pan rested on an even surface, with a steady even heat beneath
it, and one could squat beside it in comfort without becoming unduly
heated. At the same time the bacon was cooked thoroughly without
scorching.

  [Illustration: HE HAD BUILT A FIRE]

A kettle of water was set over the coals to wash the tin plates,
knives and forks when the meal was over. How good that bacon, bread
and butter did taste, washed down by clear cold water! It seemed to
the hungry boy that he never had eaten such a meal, its one fault
being that there wasn't enough of it. But Big Jim laughed at him,
telling him that that was only a lunch, but that he should have a real
dinner at sundown.

When the dishes were cleared away Big Jim took his axe and went back
into the woods returning presently with half a dozen forked sticks of
green wood. Two of these about four feet long were driven into the
ground, one at each end of the fireplace. Across them, supported in
the forks, was laid a straight young sapling which the guide called a
lug-pole. Then he took one of the other sticks and cut it off about
three inches above the fork or crotch, leaving a good hand grasp. One
branch was cut off some four inches from the fork, the other branch
being left long enough so that when a small nail was driven in the end
on the opposite side from the short part of the fork and the fork
inverted over the lug-stick a pail hung from the nail would swing
just over the coals. Other sticks were made in the same way, but of
varying lengths. The camp range was then complete.

The long sticks (they are called pot-hooks) were for bringing a kettle
close to the fire, while the shorter ones would allow of keeping
things simmering without boiling or danger of burning. Moreover, by
simply taking up a pot-hook by the hand grasp a kettle could be moved
anywhere along the lug-stick away from the hottest part of the fire
without burning the hands. It was simple, quickly made, yet for all
top cooking as effective as the gas range at home, and Walter felt
that he had learned an important lesson in woodcraft.

After the dishes were cleared away Big Jim led the way to a balsam
thicket, taking with him two straight sticks about four feet long,
hooked at the lower end. With his axe he rapidly lopped over a mass of
balsam twigs, showing Walter how to slip them on to the long sticks so
that when he had finished they had two big green spicy cylindrical
piles of balsam with a hand grasp at the top to carry them by.
Returning to camp Jim rapidly made up two beds. Small boughs were
laid first, overlapping so that the butts were hidden. A deep layer
of the small twigs were then laid on in the same way and behold! a bed
a king might covet!

About four o'clock the guide told Walter to rig his rod and they would
go in quest of their dinner. Paddling over to a cove where several
springs fed the lake they drifted idly while the guide studied the
various insects on and above the water. Finally he told Walter to rig
two flies, a brown hackle for the tail and a professor for the
dropper. The boy had already become fairly proficient in getting his
line out cleanly and dropping his flies with that lightness which so
closely simulates the falling of the living insects on the water. As
yet he had seen no indications of fish, but he was impatient to try
his luck. Big Jim, however, was lazily smoking, and Walter was forced
to be content with admiring the wonderful panorama of lake and
mountain spread before him as they idly drifted. Presently there was a
splash on the edge of the shadows inshore, and then Walter caught a
gleam of silver as another fish broke the mirror-like surface. The
fish had begun to rise.

With the same noiseless stroke that Walter had so much admired in the
morning Big Jim worked the canoe shoreward toward the widening circle
where the last fish had broken. At his signal Walter cast, ten
feet--twenty feet--thirty feet. The flies dropped lightly almost
directly above the spot where they had seen the fish. Hardly had the
tackle touched the water when there was a swift flash of silver and
with a deft twist of the wrist Walter struck.

With a rush the fish started for deep water, while the reel sang
merrily. Gently but steadily Walter applied the pressure of the rod,
when the first rush was checked, reeling in every inch of slack, until
five minutes later he led the tired captive within reach of Big Jim's
eager fingers, which closed in his gills and the prize was theirs, a
shining half-pound spotted beauty, which the guide promptly and
mercifully killed by slipping a thumb into the mouth and bending the
head back till the spine broke at the neck.

So they drifted alongshore, Walter taking two more of about the size
of the first one, and several smaller ones. As they approached a lone
rock some fifty feet offshore he made a long careful cast just to the
edge of the deepest shadow of the rock. The strike which followed was
so fierce and the strain on the rod so great that but for the
screaming of the reel Walter would have been sure that he had caught a
snag. But there was no mistaking the active form at the other end of
the line. Big Jim had waked to the battle royal now in progress and
was bringing to bear all his skill in the handling of the canoe.

Straight out into the lake shot the fish. "Give him th' butt, boy,
give him th' butt, but be careful!" shouted the guide. This Walter
did, elevating the tip of the rod until the springing little bamboo
was bent almost double, the fish pulling against the full spring of
the rod, clear from the butt. This served to check the rush. A period
of sulking in deep water followed. Then the line slackened until it
hung limply from the end of the straightened rod.

"He's off," thought Walter, his heart sinking. But the guide was not
so easily fooled.

"Reel, boy, reel!" he shouted, deftly turning the canoe as on a pivot.

Then Walter waked to the fact that the fish had started a rush
straight toward the canoe, hence the slack line. Madly he reeled until
a sharp tug that pulled the tip of his rod under water told him that
he was still fast. With a sigh of relief he gently increased the
pressure.

"Must be a four pounder, sartin," said the guide, skilfully keeping
the canoe bow on. "Funny he don't break water. He ought t' hev been in
th' air half a dozen times 'fore this."

Thus far they had not had so much as a glimpse of the finny warrior.
Thrice he had come almost to the surface, but instead of the silver
flash arching through the air, which is the joy of the fisherman,
there had been no more than a sudden swirl of the placid surface, and
the fish had again sought the depths.

Walter's wrist was feeling the strain. Despite the excitement he was
becoming tired. His heart was pounding with conflicting emotions,
alternate hope of landing a record prize and fear of losing it.
Another fit of sulking gave him a few minutes' respite. When the next
rush started he felt that it was weaker, nor was it as long. Inch by
inch he was recovering his line, not for one instant relaxing the
steady strain on the fish.

The rushes were short now and quickly checked. Inch by inch, foot by
foot the reel took up the line. At last in the clear depths he got a
glimpse of a shadowy form as it started another rush. Big Jim had seen
too. Indeed, he had seen more than Walter had.

"Two o' em, by gum!" he shouted. "Steady now, pard! 'Twon't be safe t'
try t' land 'em in th' canoe without a landin' net. I'm goin' t' work
in t' thet bit o' shingle over yonder. Jes' yer keep 'em comin' an'
don't let up on 'em fer a minute."

The guide was right. Both flies had been seized at once. By this time
Walter could occasionally see the two fish, and the sight brought his
heart into his throat. Could he save both? What a chance to score for
the Delawares! And what a record to send home to father! He understood
now why there had been no leaping; the fish had checkmated each other.

As the canoe grated on the pebbles the guide leaped over, knee-deep
in the water. Walter stood up and gently led the fish toward the
waiting guide. So tired were they that they were almost passive, their
broad tails feebly winnowing as, getting the line in his left hand,
Big Jim drew them slowly to him. Gently he sank his right arm in the
water that no sudden move should startle the fish into a last frantic
struggle. Would he save them? Walter sat down weakly, trembling with
the strain and anxiety.

Slowly the guide's big hand slipped up the length of the fish on the
dropper. The stout fingers locked in the gills, there was a deft
throw--Walter could never tell just how it was done--and both fish
were flapping on the shore. Jim threw himself upon them a second
after, for his quick eye had seen that the tail fly had torn out. When
he stood up he held out a fish in each hand, such fish! The young
angler could hardly believe the evidence of his own eyes.

"Smallest'll weigh 'bout two an' a half pounds, an' t'other 'bout a
pound heftier," said Jim, eyeing them critically. "Pard, thet's goin'
some fer a beginner. Reckon yer must carry a rabbit's foot in yer
pocket fer luck."

Walter disclaimed any witch charms whatsoever as he produced the neat
little spring scales which had been a parting gift from his father.
These proved the accuracy of Jim's guess, one being an ounce less and
the other an ounce and a half more than the weights he had named. They
were the true broad tails or speckled trout, commonly called brook
trout (Salvilinus fontinalis) than which no more beautiful fish swims.

As he admired their exquisitely painted sides something very like
regret for a moment subdued the boy's elation and pride, for he was
one of the true nature lovers, to whom the destruction of life must
ever bring a feeling of sadness.

As the guide shoved off Walter started to bend on a change of flies,
but to this Big Jim quickly put a stop.

"Pard," said he, "no true sportsman will ever kill more'n he needs.
We've got enough--all we can use. The man who kills jes' fer th' fun
o' killin' ain't nothin' more'n a butcher. He'd better get a job in
one o' them big slaughter-houses. When I find I'm guidin' fer one o'
thet breed he most gen'rally don't hev no luck."

Walter felt the rebuke, but he was fair minded enough to appreciate
and not resent it. Nor did he ever forget it.

Back at camp Big Jim at once started preparations for dinner. Going
into the woods he cut a small log of hard wood about two feet long,
out of which he split a slab about three inches thick. One side of
this he rapidly smoothed. Under his direction Walter had, in the
meantime, built a fire of small pieces of hard wood. This was soon a
bed of glowing coals which would retain their heat for a long time, a
property which soft woods do not possess, as the guide took pains to
impress upon him. For this reason hardwood coals are always preferable
for cooking.

When the slab was smoothed to Jim's satisfaction he propped it up in
front of the coals. Splitting the largest fish down the back its
entire length, taking care not to cut through the belly, he cleaned it
and wiped it dry. When the slab was hot he tacked the fish to it, skin
side down, and spread full width. Then the slab was once more propped
in front of the fire and three strips of bacon were hung across the
top so that the fat would try out and drip on the fish. When it became
necessary to reverse the ends of the slab so that the fish would cook
evenly the bacon was taken off and impaled on the pointed end of a
small stick, it becoming Walter's duty to hold this so that the drip
would continue to baste the fish.

While Walter tended the fish the guide made a reflector according to
an idea Walter had given him. Lashing together two sticks in the form
of a T, one two and a half feet long and the other a foot long, he
tacked a piece of birch about two feet wide to the ends of the T, thus
forming a segment of a circle. The white side of the bark was turned
in. A flat piece of hemlock bark was fitted across the sticks and a
rough handle was lashed to the whole. The result was a crude but
effective reflector to concentrate the light from a flash in a given
direction.

By the time this was finished the fish was done to a turn. A dash of
salt and pepper was added, and it was ready to serve on the slab on
which it was cooked. Have you ever sat under the sweet smelling
hemlocks, careless of all else in the world save securing your full
share of the flaky pink flesh of a trout cooked in this way? If you
have then your mouth is watering this very minute. If you have
not--ah, why try to describe it? My advice to you is simply this:
Follow Walter's example at the earliest opportunity.

Bread with butter and hot cocoa (Dr. Merriam tabooed coffee or tea for
growing boys) completed the menu. When the dinner was finished, to the
last shred of pink flesh clinging to crisp brown skin, Walter felt
that never before in all his life had he eaten half so delicious a
meal.

With dinner out of the way and camp made ready for the night they
prepared to put into execution the plan which was the real object of
the trip. There was no moon, for the sky was overcast, and the night
promised to be very dark. This was much to Jim's liking, for the
blacker the night the less likelihood that the deer would see ought
but the baleful, fascinating glare of the jack-light.

It was nine o'clock when they left camp, Walter in the bow as usual,
but this time with nothing to occupy his attention but his camera and
the jack-light strapped on his hat. The reflector was within easy
reach of the guide, to whom Walter had given careful instructions in
its use. A flash, consisting of two No. 2 cartridges, had been
prepared and wires connected from a couple of electric batteries. Jim
had merely to press a button to fire the flash.

It was agreed that Walter should set his focus for one hundred feet
and that, should they be lucky enough to find the deer, the judging of
the distance and setting off of the flash should be left to the guide.

It was weird, uncanny, that paddle down the lake, the black water
beneath them and a black formless void around and above them. A dozen
strokes from shore Walter felt as utterly lost so far as sense of
direction was concerned as if blindfolded. But not so Big Jim. He sent
the canoe forward as confidently as if in broad daylight. The jack was
lighted but not uncovered.

Walter became aware presently that the canoe was moving very much
more slowly and he suspected that they were approaching the lower end
of the pond. At a whispered word he turned on the jack. The narrow
beam of light cutting athwart the darkness made the night seem blacker
by contrast. Very, very slowly they were moving, and there was not so
much as the sound of a ripple against their light craft.

The boy sat motionless, but listen as he would he could detect no
smallest sound to denote the presence of his companion, much less to
indicate that he was paddling. But paddling he was, and the canoe
steadily crept forward. A mighty chorus of frog voices in many keys
evidenced the close proximity of the meadows surrounding the outlet.
As the canoe's course was altered to parallel the shore the boy
cautiously turned in his seat so that the rays from the jack were
directed shoreward. At that distance, even in the very center of the
beam of light, the shore was but a ghostly outline, and Walter
wondered how it could be possible that they could see the eyes of a
deer.

Once the heavy plunge of a muskrat made him jump inwardly, for his
nerves were keyed to a high pitch. He was beginning to feel cramped
from so long maintaining one position. One foot and leg had gone to
sleep. But he grimly ground his teeth and resolved that, come what
might, he would not move.

A slight tremor on the port side of the canoe attracted his attention
and he realized that Big Jim was shaking it, the signal agreed upon
should the guide see the deer first. Walter forgot his discomfort.
Eagerly he stared at the shore. For a few minutes he saw nothing
unusual. Suddenly he became conscious of two luminous points--the eyes
of a deer gazing in fixed fascinated stare at the light. He could
discern no faintest outline of the animal, but the eyes glowed
steadily, unwinking.

Inch by inch the canoe drifted in. Suddenly the two glowing points
disappeared. Walter's heart sank. Had the animal taken fright? No,
there they were again! The deer had merely lowered its head for a
moment. A shake of the canoe warned the boy that there was something
more. Turning his own eyes from the two burning there in the
blackness he presently became aware of two more, smaller and lower
down. A second later he saw a third pair.

What could it mean? Could it be that the deer had enemies stalking it?
What if it should be a lynx or even a panther! His excited imagination
conjured up a thrilling scene. What if he could photograph it! He
longed to ask the guide what it all meant, but that was impossible.

Slowly, slowly they drifted in toward the three pairs of eyes. Walter
kept his camera pointed directly at them, the shutter open, not
knowing what instant the flash might go off. Still they drifted in,
Walter as fascinated by the six glowing points as were the deer by the
jack. Inch by inch, inch by inch they drew nearer. Would the flash
never go? Walter felt that he must turn and see what Big Jim was
doing. Could it be that Jim had disconnected the wires and was unable
to fire the flash?

Even as this dread possibility entered his mind the water and shore
directly in front of him were lit by a blinding glare. He had an
instantaneous impression of a doe and two fawns staring in curious
alarm from near the shore of a wild meadow flanked by ghostly
tamaracks. Quite automatically he squeezed the bulb that closed the
shutter. Then for a few minutes he could see nothing. But he could
hear the plunging of the frightened animals as they fled for the
shelter of the forest, and his heart leaped at thought of what that
negative in his camera must hold.

"Git 'em, pard?" drawled the voice of the guide.

"I guess so. I don't see how I could help it. Anyway, I held the
camera pointed right at them," replied Walter.

"Guess thet'll do fer to-night, son," said Jim, swinging the canoe
about. "Shut off th' jack an' git out yer paddle. It's us fer th'
blankets now!"



CHAPTER IX

A SHOT IN THE DUSK


Day breaks in the great forest in a hushed solemnity, as if all nature
bowed in silent worship. The very leaves hang motionless. The voices
of the night are stilled. The prowlers in the dark have slunk back to
their lairs. The furred and feathered folk who people the mighty
woodland through all the hours of light have not yet awakened. The
peace of the perfect stillness is at once a benediction and a prayer.

It was at just this hour that Walter awoke. There was no sound save
the heavy breathing of Big Jim. For a few minutes he lay peering out
through a break in the bark wall of the shack. Swiftly the gray light
threaded the forest aisles. A rosy flush touched the top of a giant
pine and instantly, as if this were a signal, a white-throated sparrow
softly fluted its exquisite song from a thicket close by the camp.
Another more distant took up the song, and another and another until
the woods rang with the joyous matins. A red squirrel chirred sharply
and his claws rattled on the bark of the roof as he scampered across.
A rabbit thumped twice close at hand. Cautiously raising himself on
one elbow Walter discovered the little gray-coated fellow peering with
timid curiosity into the opposite lean-to.

As if this were the morning alarm Big Jim yawned, then sprang from his
blankets. Brer Rabbit dived headlong for the underbrush, but the
guide's quick eyes caught the flash of bunny's white tail, and he
laughed good-naturedly.

"Why didn't you invite him t' breakfast, son?" he inquired.

Walter grinned as he crawled out of his blankets. "Felt too bashful on
such short acquaintance," he replied.

"Prob'ly them's his feelin's, too," said the guide, producing two
rough towels from the depths of his pack basket. "Now fer a wash and
then breakfast."

There was a sharp nip to the air that made Walter shiver at the
thought of what the water must be like. He dreaded that first plunge,
but he said nothing, and followed Big Jim's lead down to the lake. To
his surprise he found the water warmer than the air, as if the heavy
blanket of mist in which the lake was still shrouded was indeed a
coverlid provided to hold fast the warmth absorbed from the sun of
yesterday. A brisk swim followed by an equally brisk rub-down banished
all thoughts of chill, and just as the first low-flung rays of the
rising sun burned a hole through the slowly rising vapor they started
back for camp and breakfast.

"You start th' fire while I rastle round th' grub," said the guide, as
he once more dug down into the pack. "How will flapjacks and th' rest
o' them trout hit yer fer a lining fer yer stomach, pard?"

While the guide prepared the batter Walter showed how well he had
learned his lesson in fire building the night before. Between the two
big bed-logs he placed two fairly good-sized sticks about a foot
apart. Dry twigs and splinters were laid loosely across, and on these
at one side some strips of birch bark. Two more sticks were now laid
across the twigs at right angles, then another layer of small sticks.
The next layer of larger sticks was laid at right angles to the
former. So the pile was built up, log-cabin fashion, good-sized split
hard wood being used for the upper layers.

Touching a match to the birch bark he had the satisfaction of seeing
the whole mass leap into flame in less than a minute because, built in
this way, air had immediate circulation to the whole mass, free access
of air being essential to a brisk fire. Then again the whole would
burn down together to live coals, the object to be obtained for
successful cooking.

In the meantime Big Jim had stirred up the flapjack batter and gone in
quest of the trout, which had been left in a pail hung on the stub of
a dead branch of a pine near by. He returned with a look of chagrin on
his good-natured face.

"Reckon, pard, thet we've had more visitors than thet leetle
cottontail we ketched a glimpse o' this mornin'. If yer ain't no ways
pertic'lar you an' me will have bacon stid o' trout with them
flapjacks. Ought t' known thet if leetle ole Mr. Mink really wanted
them fish he wouldn't mind takin' th' trouble t' shin up a tree. If
I'd hung thet pail by a wire as I'd ought t' hev, Mr. Mink wouldn't
hev th' laugh on us now."

Walter laughed at the rueful face of the guide. "How do you know it
was a mink?" he asked.

"'Cause thar's no other critter in these here woods likes fish well
enough t' use his wits thet way t' git 'em. Besides, he wasn't
pertic'lar 'bout coverin' up his tracks. Left 'em 'round most
promiscus and insultin'. Say, son," he added, his face brightening
with a sudden thought, "you take thet tin dipper and hit th' trail
past th' big pine over yonder. Keep a-goin' till yer strike a patch o'
old burned-over ground. Yesterday I see a lot o' early blueberries
over thar. Pick th' dipper full and I'll give yer somethin' t' tickle
yer ribs so thet yer'll fergit all about them trout."

Walter took the dipper and following the trail shortly reached the
burned land. Sure enough, there were the berries, so plentiful that it
took but a short time to fill the dipper. Before he reached camp he
smelt the bacon and his mouth watered. A pot of steaming cocoa hung
from one of the pot-hooks, and a plate of crisp bacon rested on one
end of the fore-log where it would keep warm.

Big Jim took the dipper with a grin of satisfaction and stirred the
berries into his kettle of batter. Then into the sizzling hot
frying-pan, well greased with bacon fat, he poured enough batter to
cover the bottom, and placed it over the glowing coals before which he
squatted, watching the bubbling cake with a critical eye. Suddenly he
lifted the pan, and with a dextrous twist of the wrist, so deftly
executed that Walter did not see how the trick was done, the flapjack
was sent into the air, where it turned over and was caught in the pan,
brown side up as it came down. It was returned to the fire all in the
one motion and two minutes later, buttered and sugared, was on its way
to "line Walter's ribs."

"Well, pard, how do yer like 'em?" inquired the cook, sending another
spinning over to Walter's plate.

"They're just the best ever!" exclaimed the boy enthusiastically. "I'm
going to teach cook to make 'em when I get home. Wish dad could have
one of these right now. Say, Jim, it's my turn to fry now."

The guide tossed one more to begin on while Walter was frying the
next, and then turned the frying-pan over to the amateur cook. Big
Jim's eyes twinkled as the boy reached for a knife with which to turn
the cake. His big hand closed over the knife first.

"Nobody can be a side pardner o' mine who has t' take a knife t' turn
a flapjack," he drawled, "and, son, I kind o' think I'd like you fer a
side pardner. Thet bein' so, up she goes!"

Walter grinned sheepishly and gave the frying-pan an awkward toss. The
required twist of the wrist was wholly lacking and, instead of turning
a graceful somersault in the air, the cake shot out at an angle and
landed soft side down on the very spot the guide had occupied a second
before. That worthy, with wisdom born of experience, had shifted his
base at the first motion of the frying-pan, and was now rolling on the
ground in huge glee, his infectious laugh rolling through the camp.

Walter, his face crimson with more than the heat of the fire, bit his
lips in chagrin which he could not hide, but being blessed with a
strong sense of humor he joined in the laugh and straightway prepared
to try again. This time, under a running fire of comment and advice
from Big Jim, who solemnly assured him that in his humble opinion "the
landscape ain't really a-needin' blueberry frescoes t' improve its
beauty," he succeeded in sending the cake into the air within catching
distance of the pan, but it lacked the impetus to send it high enough
to turn completely over, and fell back in the pan in a shapeless mass.

Big Jim cast an appraising eye at the batter kettle and, evidently
considering that his chances of a square meal were in jeopardy,
reached for the pan and gave Walter a practical demonstration. Holding
the pan slanting in front of and away from him he gave it a couple of
preliminary easy flaps to get the swing, then flipped boldly and
sharply. It seemed the easiest thing in the world, and in fact it is
when you know how. Returning the pan to Walter he had the latter go
through the motions several times until he was satisfied. Then he
bade him pour in the batter and go ahead.

Slowly at first, then faster the bubbles broke to the surface.
Presently the edges stiffened and with a little shake Walter felt that
the cake was loose and free in the pan. Getting the preliminary swing
he gave the pan a sharp upward flip and a second later the cake was
back over the fire, brown side up.

The guide nodded approvingly. "Reckon yer goin' t' be a sure enough
woodsman," he said. "Nobody what can't toss a flapjack has any
business t' think he's th' real thing in th' woods."

Breakfast finished it fell to Walter to wash the dishes while the
guide went out to look for deer signs. Cleanliness is next to
godliness in camp as well as at home, and hot water is as necessary to
wash dishes in the one place as in the other. Walter had finished his
work and was hanging the towel to dry when he heard a queer noise
behind him. Turning, he was just in time to see a bird about the size
of a blue jay, but gray and white in color, making off with the cake
of soap which he had left on a log.

Flying to the nearest tree it started to sample its queer breakfast.
But one taste was enough. With a harsh scream, which was a ludicrous
blending of disappointment, disgust and rage, it dropped the soap and
vigorously wiped its bill on the branch on which it was sitting. Then
scolding and protesting in a harsh, discordant voice, it flew to the
next tree, stopping long enough to give the bill another thorough
wiping on a convenient branch, only to repeat the performance on the
next tree, and so on until it disappeared in the depths of the forest.

Walter laughed heartily, disgust was so clearly manifest in every
motion of the bird and the torrent of invective being poured out was
so very plainly aimed at him personally as the author of its
discomfiture. The boy had never seen a bird of this species before,
but he recognized it at once from its markings, the fine silky plumage
and certain unmistakable characteristics in general appearance and
actions, as a member of the jay family. It was, in fact, the Canada
Jay, Perisoreus canadensis, first cousin to the blue jay, and a
resident the year through of the north woods, where it is often
called the moosebird.

Big Jim returned just in time to witness the last of the performance.

"Whisky Jack seems t' think yer ain't been usin' him just right, son,"
said he. "What yer been doin' t' rile him up so?"

Walter told him the incident of the soap, and the guide chuckled with
enjoyment. "Serves th' old thief right," said he. "Why, I've had one
of them fellers sit on my tent just waitin' fer me t' go out so's he
could go inside an' steal somethin'. He'll swipe a meal out of yer
plate while yer back's turned. Just th' same, it's kind o' sociable t'
have him neighborly if yer happen t' be all alone in th' deep woods
fifty miles from nowhar, 'specially in winter."

"Where did he get the name of Whisky Jack?" asked Walter.

"Don't know, son, unless it comes from an Indian name I heered a half
breed in a Canada lumber camp use once. He called one o' these jays
thet hed got caught tryin' t' steal th' bait from a mink trap he had
set a 'whis-kee-shaw-neesh.' When yer say it quick it sounds
something like 'Whisky John,' an' I reckon maybe thet's where th'
trappers and lumbermen got th' name 'Whisky Jack.' Anyhow, thet's what
they all call him. Ever see one before?"

"No," replied Walter, "but I knew it was a Canada Jay as soon as I saw
it. You see I had read all about it in a bird book," slyly putting
just the least emphasis on the word book.

Big Jim grunted and then abruptly changed the subject. "Been a-lookin'
fer signs o' Mr. Peaked Toes, an' they ain't none too plentiful. If it
was two months later I should say this country hed been hunted hard. I
wonder now----" he paused abruptly to gaze into the fireplace with an
air of deep abstraction.

"What do you wonder?" asked Walter when the silence became oppressive.

Big Jim reached for his pipe. "I wonder," said he slowly as with his
fingers he deftly transferred a hot coal from the embers to the bowl
of his pipe, "I wonder if some o' them sneakin' low-lived poachers
ain't been a-killin' deer out o' season right round these here parts.
Durant's lumber camp has been havin' a right smart lot o' fresh
'veal' all summer, an' some one's been supplyin' it. You an' me will
have a look around on th' ridges this morning--take a kind o' census,
mebbe. This afternoon we'll have another try at th' trout t' make up
fer those Mr. Mink had fer breakfast."

While the guide exchanged his heavy boots for a pair of moccasins
Walter slipped on a pair of sneaks, for he realized that this was to
be a still hunt, the highest form of sportsmanship, a matching of
human skill against the marvelous senses of the most alert and timid
of all the animals that live in the forest. It was to be his first
deer hunt, for the jacking expedition of the night before could hardly
be dignified by the name of hunt, the advantage lying so wholly with
the hunters. Now, however, the advantage would be reversed, lying
wholly with the hunted, with ears trained to detect the smallest
sound, suspicious of the mere rustle of a leaf, and with nostrils so
acutely sensitive that they would read a dozen messages in the
faintest breeze.

It was still early and Big Jim at once led the way to the foot of a
series of low ridges above a swamp that flanked one side of the pond,
explaining as they went that deer are night feeders, coming down to
the lowlands at dusk and spending the night in the swamps, and along
the watercourses. "'Bout now they'll be workin' back t' higher ground,
till along 'bout ten o'clock they'll be well up on th' hardwood ridges
where they'll lay up fer th' day, snoozin' behind a windfall or thick
clump o' evergreens. Then 'long 'bout four o'clock they'll git movin'
agin, an' pretty quick begin t' work back t' low ground and a drink,"
said the guide.

"Now, pard," he continued, "yer watch them feet o' yourn, and put 'em
down 'sif this here ground was made o' egg-shells. Look out fer twigs
and dead sticks. Snap one o' 'em and it's good-bye Mr. Peaked Toes!
When I stop jest you stop, freeze in yer tracks, till I move on agin.
Guess yer larned yer lesson yesterday 'bout sudden movin'."

By this time they were skirting the foot of one of the ridges and Big
Jim moved forward slowly, his keen eyes searching the ground for
signs, and sharply scanning the thickets. It was wonderful to the boy
a few feet behind to note how without any apparent attention to where
he was stepping each foot was planted surely and firmly without the
rustle of so much as a leaf. It seemed as if the big moccasins were
endowed with an intelligence of their own, and picked their way among
the scattered litter of dead sticks without attention from the man
whose huge form and heavy weight they bore so lightly.

Walter himself found that it required every bit of concentration of
which he was capable to watch his path and at the same time keep an
eye on his companion that he might be prepared to "freeze" should the
latter stop suddenly. It was a nervous strain that rapidly became
fatiguing in the extreme. He could not relax for an instant to look
about him, lest in an unguarded moment there should be a fateful snap
underfoot. He wondered if it could be possible that he would ever
acquire that seemingly instinctive art of still walking which is
inborn in the Indian and has become almost a sixth sense in the
trained woodsman.

It was a relief when Big Jim suddenly stopped and pointed to a bit of
soft ground just ahead of them. There, clearly defined, were the V
shaped imprints of sharp-edged little cloven hoofs. The guide studied
them a moment.

"Doe crossed here within five minutes," he whispered.

"How do you know?" asked Walter, imitating the guide's guarded
whisper.

"Know it's a doe by th' size." He stooped and pointed to a slight film
of moisture on the edge of one of the prints and even as he did so a
tiny particle of wet soil loosened and fell. Had more than five
minutes elapsed the edges would have slightly dried out, and Walter
was enough of a scout to realize this and understand the significance
of what he saw. The guide scanned the side hill to the right.

"Watch that old windfall," he whispered.

Walter looked in the direction indicated and studied the tangle of
fallen timber a hundred yards away, but for the life of him he could
make out nothing that in any way resembled an animal. A slow smile
dawned on the good-natured, sun-browned face watching him. Then slowly
Big Jim stooped and picked up a good-sized stick, which he broke in
his hands with a sharp snap.

Instantly there was a startled whistle, followed by a sudden crash at
one end of the fall, and Walter caught a glimpse of two slim
reddish-brown legs and a white "flag" ridiculously like a magnified
edition of the little bunch of cotton which had been his last glimpse
of Brer Rabbit early that morning. There were two or three diminishing
crashes beyond the windfall and then all was still.

Walter turned to look at the guide, whose mouth was broadly stretched
in a hearty but noiseless laugh. "Did you see her all the time?" he
whispered.

Big Jim nodded. "Sure," he replied. "Yer see, son, yer was lookin' fer
somethin' thet wasn't thar--Mrs. Lightfoot right out on full dress
parade like yer've seen 'em in a park, mebbe, and o' course yer didn't
see her. Now I was lookin' fer jest a leetle patch o' red, which
couldn't nohow be leaves at this season o' year, and I see it right
away. Yer most generally see what you're lookin' fer--if it's thar. In
the woods th' thing is t' know what t' look fer."

His face clouded suddenly as he continued. "I don't nohow like th'
way she dusted out. If it was th' huntin' season I wouldn't think
nothin' o' it. But it ain't, and she ought not t' hev run more'n a
couple o' hundred yards afore she got so blamed curious thet she'd hev
stopped and then come a-sneakin' back t' see what had given her thet
sudden attack o' heart disease. She was sure scared, and she's been
worse scared quite lately."

They resumed their tramp in the same cautious manner as before,
finding several old tracks and two or three fresh ones, to none of
which Big Jim gave more than a moment's attention. Then they ran
across a trail which, from the size of the prints, Walter knew must
have been made by a big buck. The guide wet a finger and carefully
tested the direction of the wind, which was so faint as not to be
perceptible to the dry skin. Satisfied that the trail led directly
into the wind he started to follow it, explaining as they went along
that had the trail led down wind it would have been useless to waste
time following it, for the game would have scented them long before
they were near it.

The course now led up to higher ground and only such trained eyes as
the guide's could have picked it out. As they approached the top of
the ridge Big Jim suddenly left the trail and made a wide détour to
the left, then circled back to the top of the ridge, along which he
led the way with the utmost caution, stopping at every step to study
the landscape in front and below. Finally in the shelter of a young
hemlock he stopped and nodded for Walter to join him.

"Look in thet thicket o' young hemlocks a couple o' hundred yards down
from th' top o' the ridge," he whispered.

Walter looked as directed, but for a few minutes could make out
nothing unusual. Then he recalled his lesson earlier in the day and
looked for a "patch o' red." Almost at once he saw it, low down under
the hemlocks, and by looking intently soon made out the form of the
buck lying down in unsuspicious contentment.

"Foxy old Mr. Peaked Toes has been clear up on top o' th' ridge an'
then doubled back and laid down whar he can watch his back track,"
whispered the guide. "But we've fooled him this time."

For a few minutes they watched him. Then the hush of the great forest
was abruptly broken by the alarm notes of a crow, so close at hand
that Walter instinctively looked up, expecting to see the black
mischief maker above their heads. But no bird was to be seen, and a
glance at Big Jim's grinning face told him that the crow was none
other than the guide himself.

When his glance once more returned to the buck it was to behold a
lordly animal standing with his magnificent head, crowned with ten
point antlers still in the velvet, thrown up, his sensitive nostrils
testing the wind for trace of possible danger. For a few minutes he
stood motionless, ears forward to catch the least sound, big soft eyes
searching the hillside, delicate nostrils expanded and a-quiver in the
effort to read some warning in the air. So the king stood, suspicious
but not alarmed, a royal animal in the full vigor of maturity.

Satisfied that ears and eyes and nose could detect no danger, but
still suspicious, he suddenly bounded behind the hemlocks, clearing a
fallen tree with a leap which was a marvel of lightness. The thicket
shut him from their view, but presently Big Jim called Walter's
attention to a slight movement of bushes far up along on the ridge.

"He's making a sneak t' high ground whar he can have a better look
around. Then he'll make a big circle t' try the wind from all
quarters. Did yer notice that scar on his shoulder? He's been burned
thar by a bullet or had an ugly tear in a scrap with another buck.
Son, you've seen th' King o' Lonesome Pond. I've tried fer him for th'
last three years in th' open season, but th' old rascal knows as well
as I do when th' huntin' season begins and he's too smart fer me. No
walkin' up on him then like we did to-day! I'd like t' get him and
yet--well, fact is I'd hate t' see him dead. He sure is a king! Now
fer camp an' lunch an' then a try fer them trout. Son, yer'll make a
still hunter one o' these days, and, son, don't yer never fergit thet
still huntin' is th' only real sportin', square deal way o' huntin'
deer."

These few words of approval from his companion amply rewarded the boy
for his long effort to "keep his feet in the way they should go" and
now as they tramped rapidly toward camp he felt within him for the
first time the sense of mastery and self-reliance which is ever the
woodsman's best reward.

In the afternoon fishing Walter failed to equal his record catch of
the day before, but nevertheless landed some handsome trout, and they
soon had all they could use. After an early supper the guide led the
way to a deer run only a short distance from camp, where, he said, the
animals were in the habit of coming down to drink. Here at one side in
a position to command an unobstructed view of a part of the run Walter
set up his camera, masking it with branches broken from the
surrounding trees. A flash was arranged to be exploded by an electric
spark from two dry cells which had been brought along for the purpose.
A stout thread was fastened across the run in such a way that an
animal passing up or down must strike it and the adjustment was such
that the least pull would make the necessary contact and set off the
flash.

"Thar's a couple o' other runs close by, and it's all a chance
whether a deer will take this partic'lar run, but I think th' chance
is good," said the guide.

Back at camp the guide put out the fire lest the smell of smoke should
alarm the game. Then they sat down to wait, Big Jim whiling away the
time with stories of hunting and adventure which set the boy's pulses
to faster beating. Swiftly the shadows crept through the woods and
dusk settled over the landscape. Through the tree tops Walter caught
the gleam of the first star.

"Ought not t' be long now 'fore thar's somethin' doin'," said the
guide.

Almost with the words the report of a rifle rang out from the lake in
the direction of the run where the camera was set, and rolled in heavy
echoes along the mountain. Big Jim was on his feet in an instant, his
face contorted with rage, while he shook a brawny fist in the
direction of the shot.

"You hound, I'd wring yer blasted neck fer two cents!" he muttered.
Then he turned to Walter and shook his head sorrowfully as he said,
"It ain't a mite o' use t'-night, son. Thet shot hit th' narves o'
every deer within two miles o' here. Might as well go bring in th'
camera. I been sartin all day thet some such mischief as this was
afoot. We didn't see half th' number o' deer we'd ought to this
mornin' and them was so skeery thet I suspicioned they was bein'
hunted right along. Guess when we git back t' Woodcraft we'll hev t'
notify th' game warden and do a little still huntin' fer bigger game
than Peaked Toes. Reckon I could guess who th' feller is, but I ain't
got no proof, not a mite. If yer was t' leave thet picter box out all
night yer might ketch one 'long just 'fore daybreak," he added as an
afterthought.

Walter agreed to this, and they set about preparing for the night,
when both were startled by a distant flare of light.

"The flash!" cried Walter joyously. "You guessed wrong that time, you
old croaker!"

Big Jim's face was a study. "Reckon I did, pard," he drawled. "Must be
one deer round these parts what is plumb foolish in her head. Well,
we'll go bring in th' camera."

In a few minutes they reached the run. Sure enough the thread was
broken and the flash sprung. Walter at once slipped in the slide, and
gathering up the apparatus they returned to camp, the boy in high
spirits, but Big Jim in unwonted soberness.



CHAPTER X

A BATTLE FOR HONOR


Reaching Woodcraft late the next afternoon Walter at once hurried to
the dark room adjoining Dr. Merriam's office to develop his plates. To
his dismay he found that needed chemicals for fresh developer were
lacking, and he was unwilling to risk his plates in the old and
necessarily weak developer on hand. There was nothing for it but to
possess himself in such patience as he could until a fresh supply
could be obtained from the city. Dr. Merriam promised to send at once.
Leaving Big Jim to report to the doctor the results of their trip
Walter sought the wigwam.

He found Tug rewinding his split bamboo and Billy Buxby assisting with
a ceaseless stream of unheeded advice.

"Behold the mighty hunter!" exclaimed Billy with an exaggerated bow of
mock deference as Walter entered.

"What luck?" asked Tug, as he tied the final knot and reached for the
shellac.

Walter rapidly sketched a brief account of his two days at Lonesome
Pond, but in his enthusiasm over the deer hunt forgot to mention his
double catch of trout. "Anything new here?" he asked finally.

Tug shook his head. "Nothin' much. Harrison came in with a three-pound
brook trout this morning, and unless some one gets in to-night with
something better that will give the Senecas the score for this week.
Say, the gloom in this little old shanty is something fierce. If it
was any one but Harrison there'd be no kick comin'. He's gettin' such
a swelled head he can't see anybody outside his own tribe. I'd like to
punch it for him," growled Tug savagely.

"Say," he added as he looked up, "what's the matter with you, you
grinning Cheshire cat?"

"Nothing much," replied Walter, "only day before yesterday I landed a
double, for a total of five pounds; brook trout, too."

Tug and Billy fell on him as one. "Say it again! Say it again!" begged
Tug as they pinned Walter to the floor and sat on him.

"I got two trout at one cast, and they weighed five pounds. Does that
beat it?" gasped Walter, giving up the struggle.

"Counts same as one fish," whooped Billy joyously.

"Well, we win anyway, for one of them weighed over three and a half,"
said Walter, giving a sudden heave that sent Billy sprawling. "Now
what's the matter, you old gloom chaser?"

"Walt, you ain't foolin', are you? Tell me, you rabbit-footed
tenderfoot, have you got proof?" implored Tug.

"Big Jim's word for it, and a photo," replied Walter.

Tug's face cleared. "That's good enough. Oh, my eye, wait till that
record is posted to-night!" he chortled.

Tug was not disappointed. The record held, and the Delawares
celebrated that night with a bonfire and war dance in which Walter, to
his confusion, found himself the central figure. Harrison's chagrin
was too evident to escape notice, and his defeat was rubbed in with a
malice born of his growing unpopularity.

The next morning when Walter met him and offered his hand Hal passed
on as if the other lad were a stick or a stone. The insult was
witnessed by several Delawares and by members of Hal's own tribe. That
night a meeting of indignation was held by the Delawares, and in spite
of Walter's protest and the efforts of Woodhull and one or two of the
older boys, it was voted to send Harrison to Coventry so far as the
Delawares were concerned, that is, he was not to be spoken to or
recognized in any way.

In his own wigwam Hal was only a degree less unpopular. The leaders
tried to induce him to make an apology, pointing out to him that he
was violating both the spirit and word of the Scout's oath, but the
effort was without avail. The high-strung, undisciplined boy,
accustomed from babyhood to having his own way, fawned upon by all
with whom he had hitherto come in contact because of his father's
great wealth, was utterly unable to adjust himself to the new
conditions which surrounded him, to the democracy of which he was now
a part yet of which he had no understanding. So he went his headstrong
way, and if in his heart were bitterness and misery he made no sign.

The Senecas stood by him with half-hearted loyalty because he was a
fellow tribesman, but there was not one whom he could call a friend.
So he became more and more isolated, spending his days fishing, the
proudest, loneliest boy in all the big camp. The fact that he
continued to score with big fish gave him a measure of standing with
his tribe, and to maintain this became his chief object in the daily
life.

Walter was thinking of this and wondering what the outcome would be as
early one morning he headed his canoe for a setback some three miles
from camp, which he had discovered the day before. The entrance was so
hidden in a tangle of alders and brush that it was only with the
greatest difficulty that he could pick out the channel. He had passed
the spot dozens of times without suspecting that anything lay beyond.

Patiently and carefully he worked his way through the tangle, once
having to get out and lift the canoe over a jam of a dozen stranded
logs. Beyond this the channel was comparatively clear. Unexpectedly
it abruptly opened into a broad body of water perhaps half a mile
long, deep in the middle, and with the upper end covered with an acre
or more of lily-pads.

Walter's eyes sparkled. "Gee, I bet there's pickerel in here!" he
exclaimed, unconsciously speaking aloud.

"Bet yer life thar is," said a voice with a chuckle.

Walter turned to find a rude raft anchored behind the half submerged
top of a fallen hemlock, and on it sat Pat Malone, catching young
striped perch for bait.

"Hello!" exclaimed Walter. "What are you doing here?"

"Seem ter be fishin'," replied Pat, a broad grin spreading across his
freckled face.

Walter grinned in return. "Well, what are you catching?" he asked.

"Mostly fish--some skeeters," was the prompt retort.

Pat lifted a wriggling three-inch perch from the water. "Do you call
that a fish?" asked Walter.

"Mebbe it is an' mebbe it isn't," said the lumber boy as he dropped
the victim into a battered old pail half filled with water. "How
about this?" He reached behind him and held up at arm's length a huge
pickerel.

Walter allowed a long low whistle of admiration escape him. "Are there
any more like that in here?" he asked eagerly.

"Shure," replied Pat. "That's nothin' but a minnie 'longside some old
whopperlulus in here."

"What'd you catch him with?"

"Bait an' a hook an' line."

Walter laughed. "Pat, you win," said he. "I don't want any of your
secrets, but I should like to catch just one fish like that one."

A crafty look swept over the freckled face grinning across at him.
"Yez licked me once."

Walter nodded.

"An' yez said that if iver yez had the chance yez'd show me some o'
thim thricks what done it."

Again Walter nodded.

"Will yez do it now if Oi'll show yez where thim big fish is an' how
ter ketch 'em?" asked Pat eagerly.

"I'll do it anyway, and you don't need to show me anything about the
fish," replied Walter heartily, driving the canoe ashore as he spoke.

Together they forced their way through the underbrush until they found
a cleared place. "This isn't to be another fight?" asked Walter, a
sudden suspicion flashing into his mind.

"Course it ain't! What kind av a low-down hedgehog do ye take me fer,
anyway?" retorted his companion indignantly.

Walter put out his hand and apologized promptly, ashamed to think that
he should have been guilty of entertaining such a thought. Then he
began by briefly explaining the rules governing boxing, pointing out
that a blow below the waist line constitutes a foul, that a man
knocked down is allowed ten seconds in which to get on his feet again,
and during that time must not be touched by his opponent; that
wrestling is not allowed, and that matches usually are conducted by
rounds of three minutes each, with a minute for rest in between.

"No true sportsman will ever hit a man when he's down," concluded
Walter.

This was difficult for the backwoods boy to grasp, and it was equally
hard for him to understand why in a fight he should not scratch, kick
and gouge, even use his teeth if opportunity offered, for in his hard
life in the lumber camps he had witnessed many a rough and tumble
fight where ethics are unknown, and where fighting men sink to the
level of fighting beasts, employing every weapon with which nature has
endowed them, and giving no mercy to a fallen foe.

But Pat was blessed with a strong sense of fair play, and when he had
fully grasped the meaning of the rules they appealed to him instantly.
"'Tis jist a square deal both byes gits in a foight!" he exclaimed, a
light breaking over his puzzled face.

Then Walter showed him a few of the simplest guards, how to parry an
opponent's blow with one arm while countering with the other, how to
protect the body with elbows and forearms while the hands shield the
face, how to step inside, and how to duck under a swing, how, by
watching his opponent, to anticipate the coming blow and be prepared
to avoid it. Lastly he showed him the art of side-stepping, the
little shift of the feet which while keeping the body perfectly poised
allows the blow to pass harmlessly to one side or the other, at the
same time opening an opportunity to counter on the opponent.

Naturally quick, and with an Irishman's inborn love of battle, Pat
picked up the points readily and when at the end of an hour Walter
flung himself on the ground for a breathing spell Pat executed a
double shuffle.

"Shure it be the greatest dancin' lesson av me loife!" he whooped
joyously, side-stepping, ducking and lunging into empty space. "Come
on, bye, come on! Oi can lick yez now! Come on, ye spalpeen! 'Tis Pat
Malone will give yez the greatest lickin' av yer life!"

Walter declined with thanks, lying back weak from laughter, while the
young giant continued to dance around sparring, ducking and countering
on an imaginary foe. "'Tis meself will clane out the Durant camp
before anither sun is up as shure as Oi be the eldest son av me
mither," he chuckled, flinging himself beside Walter from sheer
exhaustion.

When they had rested a bit Walter proposed that they go try the fish,
and that Pat come in his canoe. In an instant the young woodsman had
forgotten his newly acquired accomplishments, for a new idea had
suddenly possessed him.

"Tell me, bye, what's this about catchin' the biggest fish at
Woodcraft Camp?" he asked eagerly.

Walter explained the contest fully, and told how eager he was to score
over the Senecas.

"'Tis aisy," broke in Pat.

"What do you mean?" asked Walter, a bit puzzled.

Pat struck one side of his nose with a dirty forefinger and winked
solemnly. "Oi wonder now, have yez forgot the big pickerel yez have
lyin' down on the raft? 'Twill weigh ten pounds if it weighs an
ounce."

"But that isn't mine!" exclaimed Walter. "It's yours."

"Is ut now?" said Pat, scratching his head. "Shure Oi disremimber
ketchin' ut. Oi'm thinkin' yez must hev caught ut in yer shlape an'
didn't know ut."

Walter laughed and thanked his companion heartily, while he refused
the gift. Then seeing the look of hurt disappointment on Pat's face
he hastened to make clear why he could not accept the fish. "You see,"
he concluded, "a Scout's honor is always to be trusted, and it would
not be honorable to try to win with a fish I did not catch myself. A
man's honor is the greatest thing he possesses."

The other pondered this in silence for a few minutes trying to adjust
his mind to a new idea. When he spoke it was slowly, as one feeling
his way.

"Yez mane that ter score wid thot fish would be loike hittin' a man
when he's down, or shtalin' from a blind pup."

"Exactly," replied Walter.

"An' do all the other byes feel the same way?"

"Of course they do."

"No they don't! Anyway, there's wan that doesn't."

"What do you mean?" cried Walter startled.

"Oi mane thot there's wan dirty blackguard has been winnin' points
roight along wid Pat Malone's fish. Oi mane thot thot spalpeen thot
yez call Harrison, the wan with his pockets lined with money, has been
buyin' me big fish fer the last mont' an' payin' me good money fer
'em. Oi mane thot if yez hadn't happened in here this marnin' yez
moight hev seen him luggin' in thot big pickerel this very noight.
'Tis his last fish he's had from me, the low-down blackguard." Then he
added ruefully: "Sure 'tis a glad day fer Pat Malone an' a sorry wan
fer his pockets ter hev found out what honor manes."

The two boys returned to the canoe and spent the remainder of the
morning in a vain attempt to land another big pickerel. When they
parted it was with a mutual respect and liking and a promise on
Walter's part to return the next day in quest of the big fellows.
"Oi'm goin' ter hunt frogs fer bait this afternoon an' Oi'll be
waitin' fer ye at sunup," were Pat's parting words.

It was a sober boy who paddled back to Woodcraft that afternoon. What
he had learned that morning filled him with mingled feelings of
contempt and gladness--contempt, for the fellow Scout who had so
perjured himself and violated his Scout's oath, and gladness that his
faith in the unkempt boy of the woods had been so fully justified. Any
lingering doubt of Pat Malone's innocence of the theft of Mother
Merriam's pin which he might have entertained had been banished by
what he had learned of the boy that morning.

And in his own mind the boy was fighting a battle. Where lay the path
of duty? What did his honor as a Scout demand of him? To go report
what he had learned? To become a bearer of tales? The very thought was
abhorrent to him! On the other hand had he any moral right to allow
his fellow tribesmen to suffer through the dishonesty of which he held
the proof? And Hal's own tribesmen, was it fair to them to allow them
to profit by points to which, though no fault of theirs, they had no
right?

It was a relief to see Harrison's canoe approaching the landing as he
pulled his own out. He would put it up to Hal to do the square
thing--redeem himself by playing the man for once.

"Hal," said Walter in a low tone as the other landed, "I know where
you get your fish."

Hal turned and faced him. "What are you talking about?" he said
roughly.

Walter flushed and instinctively his fists doubled, but he kept a
check on his temper. "You have bought your record fish of Pat Malone,"
he said evenly.

It was the other's turn to flush, but he maintained his air of
bravado.

"That's silly," he jeered.

"No it isn't, and you know it," replied Walter.

"Well, what are you going to do about it?" asked the other sulkily,
seeing that denial was useless.

"I don't know," replied Walter sadly. "Say, Hal, why don't you go own
up to Dr. Merriam and ask him to try and put you right with the
fellows?"

"What do you take me for? I'm in bad enough now. If you don't blab
who's going to know it? And if you turn telltale I guess my word's as
good as yours," sneered Hal.

"For two cents I'd punch----" began Walter hotly, then pity for the
unfortunate boy before him calmed him. "Hal, I'm not going to say
anything to-night, anyway. Do the right thing. Remember your Scout's
oath," he begged.

"Remember it yourself," growled Hal. "There's mighty little honor in
telling tales." And with this parting shot he strode off to the
wigwam.

Walter's preoccupation and sober face were bound to attract the
attention of his mates, and he came in for a lot of guying.

"Who is she, Walt?"

"Is her papa a big chief?"

"Take us round and give us a knock-down, Walt."

"Romance of the big woods! Walt, the tenderfoot, falls in love with an
Indian princess!"

Walter's replies to all these sallies were only half-hearted, and
seeing that something was really amiss with him the boys dropped their
banter. He retired to his bunk early, only to twist and toss uneasily
all night long. Over and over till his brain grew weary he kept
repeating the perplexing question, "Ought I to tell? Ought I to tell?
Ought I to tell?"

The problem was no nearer a solution when in the gray of dawn he
slipped a canoe into the water the next morning and turned her bow
toward the setback. Pat was waiting for him on the old raft and, true
to his word, he had a pocket full of lively little frogs, which were
giving him no end of trouble in their efforts to escape. Walter took
him aboard, and they were soon skirting the lily-pads at the upper
end.

Here Pat bade Walter rig his rod and, producing a lively green frog
from his pocket, he impaled it on the hook by thrusting the barb
through its lips, explaining that in this way the frog's swimming was
not seriously interfered with. He then took the paddle and handled the
canoe while Walter cast. The frog had hardly struck the water before
there was a swirl at the very edge of a patch of lily-pads followed by
a strike that made the reel sing. A couple of good rushes and then, as
is the way with pickerel, the fish was brought alongside with hardly a
struggle. Pat deftly scooped it into the canoe and killed it with a
blow that broke its spine. It was fair for a beginning, weighing
perhaps four pounds, and Walter prepared to try again.

For half an hour they worked along the pads, taking several smaller
fish.

At length they approached an outlying patch of pads where the water
was deep and black. Two canoe lengths short of it Pat stopped the
canoe. Then he sorted over his remaining supply of frogs till he found
one that suited his critical fancy. With this he rebaited Walter's
hook. "Now, ye throw roight over ter the very edge o' thim pads, and
don't ye be in no hurry," he commanded.

The first cast was short, but at the second attempt the frog landed
with a spat at the very edge of the pads and began to swim vigorously
in an effort to reach and climb up on them. Suddenly the water fairly
boiled, and Walter all but lost his balance and upset the canoe, so
sudden and vicious was the strike.

"Ye have him! Ye have him! Shure 'tis the king av thim all, an' 'tis
mesilf that knows ut, for 'tis tree times thot the ould feller has
walked off wid me line and hooks!" yelled Pat excitedly. "Don't let
him get foul o' thim pads!"

Walter soon found that he had the fight of his life on to keep the
wary old warrior in clear water, but inch by inch he worked the fish
away from the pads until finally he felt that the danger was past and
that it was only a matter of time when the prize would be his. A few
more heavy lunges, which threatened by the mere weight of the fish to
break the slender rod, and the battle was over. Softly Pat slid his
hand along till his stout fingers closed in the gills and the prize
was in the canoe, where Pat speedily put an end to the snapping of its
cruel looking jaws by severing the spinal cord with his knife.

Walter brought out his scales, and could hardly believe that he read
them aright. "Thirteen pounds and a half!" he gasped.

"An' there's two av me hooks in his mouth, bad cess ter him," said the
matter-of-fact Pat, deftly extracting his property.

Pat was for trying for another big fellow, but Walter had had enough
for that morning. Besides, he was anxious to show his prize at camp,
so reeling in his line they started for the mouth of the backset.

"Pat, did Harrison ever have much luck in here?" asked Walter.

Pat stared at his companion for a minute before he found speech.
"What, do ye mane ter tell me ye be thinkin' Oi iver showed him where
Oi was ketching the fish he bought?" demanded Pat. "Not he nor any
ither o' the Woodcraft byes knows about this setback. 'Tis lucky ye
was ter be findin' the way in yer own self. Ye will kape ut ter
yerself now, will ye not?"

Walter promised that he would.

"Say, bye, did ye tell the docther av the low-down thrick this
Harrison has been afther playin'?" Pat suddenly inquired.

Walter confessed that he had not. Then in a sudden burst of confidence
he told the Irish lad all about the dilemma in which he had become
involved. "What would you do, Pat?" he concluded.

"Me? Shure Oi dunno at all, at all. Oi'm thinkin' Oi'd side-step,"
replied Pat, with a twinkle in his eyes.

"But that's the trouble, I can't side-step," responded Walter.

The freckled face of the woods boy sobered. "'Tis a quare thing, this
honor ye be tellin' about, but Oi'm thinkin' 'tis a moighty foine
thing too," he said. Then, his Irish humor rising to the surface, he
added: "There be wan thing Oi wud do; Oi'd knock the block clane off
av that blackguard that's made all the throuble."

Walter laughed. "I'd like to," he confessed.

They were now at the entrance and setting Pat ashore Walter turned his
canoe toward camp. His arrival with the big pickerel, to say nothing
of the smaller ones, created a wave of excitement among the boys who
were in camp, and great jubilation among the Delawares. It happened
that Harrison was among those present.

"So," he sneered when no one was near, "you've tried the silver bait!
How much did you pay for the bunch?"

Walter turned on his heel and walked away. All the joy of the day had
vanished. He wanted to be alone to fight out to a finish the battle of
honor. So immediately after noon mess he slipped away unseen, and
sought the cool depths of the forest to find in the peace of the great
woodland the solution of his difficulty.

Late that afternoon, his mind made up, he turned toward camp. As he
approached he became aware of an air of suppressed excitement about
the camp. Buxby was the first to see him.

"Hi, Walt! Have you heard the news?" he shouted.

"No," said Walter. "What is it?"

"The Senecas' records have been wiped out; Harrison's been buying
those fish," whooped Billy.

Walter's first thought was that Hal had done the right thing and had
confessed, and a great load fell from his shoulders. But Billy's next
words brought him up short.

"Pat Malone came in this afternoon and told the big chief that he'd
been selling fish to Hal right along. Brought in what money he had
left, and said he guessed it wasn't quite the square thing for him to
keep it. What do you think of that?"

"What did the doctor do?" asked Walter.

"Told Pat that as he had sold the fish in good faith the money was
his, especially as the camp had had the benefit of them. Then he
called Hal in and paid him back all that he had given Pat. Then he
wiped out from the Senecas' score all of Hal's records. Don't know
what he said to Hal, but the word's been passed that the incident is
closed. Gee, but I'd hate to feel the way Hal must! I guess Pat's
squared himself with the bunch on that pin business. A feller that
would do what he did wouldn't steal."

After the first burst of indignation the feeling of the camp settled
into contempt, mingled with pity, for the boy who had so besmirched
his honor. No reference was ever made to his disgrace, but for the
most part he was left severely alone, only a few, of whom Walter was
one, endeavoring to hold out a helping hand. So the camp settled down
to the usual routine once more.



CHAPTER XI

BUXBY'S BUNCOMBE


The late afternoon sun shone warmly on a little clearing some two
miles from Woodcraft. It flooded with soft golden light the scar on
the face of the great forest which nature, ever abhorrent of the ugly,
was trying to mask under a riot of fireweed and early goldenrod.
Blackened stumps were half hidden under tangled canes of the red
raspberry. In the more open places low bush blueberries carpeted the
ground. At the upper end of the clearing two boys squatted beside the
charred stump of a great pine.

"There he comes, Billy. Line's started again," whispered one.

"'Tain't a he, it's a she," replied Billy disgustedly. "Don't you know
that all worker bees are females? Males don't make no honey; they're
the drones." Billy was strong on facts, if weak on grammar. "There
comes another and another right behind. They're making a mighty short
flight. We must be pretty close to the tree. Gee, Spud, I bet the
eyes of some of the fellers will stick out when they see us luggin' in
a barrel of honey!"

"Ain't got it yet," replied Spud sententiously. "That tree is sure out
of bounds, too. What we goin' to do about that?"

"Go on," said Billy decidedly. "'Tain't far out, and I reckon the big
chief won't say nothin' when he sees that honey. Gee, but this will
score some for the Delawares!"

The two boys were Billy Buxby and Spud Ely. Billy had been responsible
for what he called the "big idea," which was to line out a bee tree,
and Spud had closed with it at once. With all his happy-go-lucky
carelessness Billy was well versed in outdoor life and by his powers
of observation was continually surprising even those who knew him
best. Had he been less fun-loving and careless he might easily have
been one of the trusted leaders among the younger boys of the camp.
But Billy's impulsiveness was apt to lead him into situations
bordering on the reckless. He was always dreaming of doing big things
and inclined to act on the inspiration of the moment, heedless of
consequences.

It is doubtful if another boy in camp had noticed that there were
honey-bees working among the wild flowers. Billy had kept his
discovery to himself until he had perfected a plan whereby to win
laurels for himself and score for the Delawares. It would not have
been Billy, however, not to have dropped mysterious hints of the great
coup in woodcraft which he was about to pull off, and, as he was never
taken seriously, it was soon dubbed "Buxby's buncombe" and became a
standing joke.

Billy stood for all the good-natured chaff of his companions without a
protest. In fact he rather encouraged it that his final triumph might
appear the greater. He went about with an air of secrecy, and for one
whole day was engaged in making a mysterious something of which he
would allow no one a glimpse. This was nothing more or less than a bee
box, made after a plan once shown him by an old bee hunter from whom
Billy had learned many tricks in the gentle art of "lining" bees.

The box was a very simple affair, but admirably adapted to its
purpose. It was made from an old cigar box and was perhaps three
inches square by three and one-half deep. Half-way down on one side
Billy made a slit just wide enough to admit a piece of ordinary window
glass cut to fit. Inside he tacked two little strips or guides on
which the glass rested. When the glass slide was in place it divided
the box into an upper and lower chamber. The cover had a half-inch
hole in the middle with a piece of glass fastened over it on the
inside. The whole thing was crude, but in a secret test Billy found
that it answered his purpose fully. It was then that he took Spud Ely
into his confidence and it was arranged that on the following
afternoon they would give Billy's plan a try-out.

Preserving the utmost secrecy the two boys sought the old clearing,
where Billy had previously assured himself that the bees were also at
work. In the lower compartment he put a piece of bread on which he
poured a liberal amount of syrup, a two-ounce bottle of which he had
begged from the cook. Then he slipped the glass slide in place and was
ready for business.

It was not long before his experienced eyes singled out a honey-bee
at work on a spray of goldenrod on the edge of the clearing.
Approaching softly with the box in one hand and the cover in the other
he held the box just beneath the busy little insect and gently brushed
her into it with the cover, immediately clapping this in place.

"Gee, that was easy!" exclaimed the admiring Spud, who entertained a
wholesome respect for all insects with stings.

"Pooh, that's nothin'! I've seen fellers pick 'em right up in their
fingers. If you ain't afraid of bees they won't bother you none. They
know when people are afraid of 'em and when they ain't," replied
Billy.

The bee buzzed about angrily for a few minutes, but in her darkened
prison presently quieted down, the boys taking turns at peeping at her
through the glass in the cover. When she had taken to a quiet
examination of her narrow quarters Billy very gently pulled out the
glass slide. It did not take her long to discover the syrup and,
forgetful of everything but the unexpected store of sweets, she was
soon busy "loadin' up," as Billy expressed it.

Carefully he lifted the box and placed it on a convenient stump, then
removed the cover. Presently, loaded with all she could carry, the bee
took wing. Rising heavily she circled overhead once or twice to get
her bearings, then shot away in a straight line across the clearing.

"Now what do we do, chase along after her?" asked Spud.

"Naw, wait for her to come back, you numskull," replied Billy. "And
while we're waiting let's catch another."

This was soon done, and the second bee was liberated as the first had
been. To the surprise of the boys this one took a direction at right
angles to the course of the first.

"Great snakes!" exclaimed Billy excitedly. "These woods are full of
bee trees!"

Spud glanced at the box and just then a bee disappeared within.
"Another bee has found the syrup! I just saw it go in!" he exclaimed,
becoming more and more excited.

"'Tain't another one; it's the first one come back, just like I told
you she would." Billy peeped into the box. "I thought so," he added;
"she's brought another bee with her. When they go back they'll bring
some more till the whole darn hive knows just where this little old
box is."

It was even as Billy said. Presently the bees were clustering thick
around the box and were continually arriving and departing, forming a
double line straight to the hive in the hollow heart of some forest
giant beyond the clearing. In the meantime the second bee had carried
the good news home and rallied a force of workers, so that soon two
lines were established.

"What will we do, split up and you follow one line while I follow the
other?" asked Spud.

"How do you expect to follow the line if you ain't got the box? Think
a bee's goin' to take you by the hand and lead you?" asked Billy
sarcastically, forgetful that this was a wholly new experience to
Spud. "We'll stick together and work out the first line, and then if
we have time we'll try the other."

He drew out his knife and blazed the stump on which the bee box sat.
Then squatting down he carefully sighted along the second line of bees
and cut a rough arrow with the point indicating the exact line of
flight. "Now," said he, "we can come back any old time and run down
that line."

He next sighted along the line they proposed to follow out first till
his eye encountered a slender young spruce on the far side of the
clearing. With this for a marker he slipped the cover on the box while
several bees were within, and taking it with him walked straight to
the tree he had sighted. On the nearest stump he placed the box and
removed the cover. At once several laden bees reëstablished their
bearings and started for home. It was the quick return of one of these
which had drawn from Spud the exclamation exposing his ignorance of
the sex of working bees.

The northern edge of the clearing marked "bounds" in that direction
for the camp, and only by special permission might the boys go beyond.
Spud, less reckless than Billy, or at all events less certain that
even a "barrel" of honey would buy Dr. Merriam's pardon for deliberate
infraction of the rules, hesitated.

"Let's give it up now, and run the line out to-morrow," he suggested.
"We can tell the big chief and get his permission to go out of
bounds."

Billy balked. "Oh, you quitter!" he growled. "Look at that line
runnin' now and you talkin' about givin' it up! Say, Spud, I picked
you to come in on this with me 'cause I thought you had some sand. You
can go on back, but I'm goin' to find that tree! It can't be more'n a
little ways in anyway, the bees are making such a short flight.
Anyhow, who's going to know if we do go out of bounds? We can find the
tree and then to-morrow ask permission to go out of bounds. Then we
can open up the tree and get the honey."

The excitement of the hunt led Spud to lend an all too willing ear to
Billy's argument. "All right," he growled, "I'm with you, but let's
hurry up and get back."

Imprisoning some bees as before they once more moved forward and after
a short advance into the woods stopped to reëstablish the line. This
time the bees were back so quickly that Billy knew that the tree was
close by, but the trees were so thick that it was difficult to watch
the bees and the amateur hunter was afraid that by continuing to
advance along the line they might pass the tree without seeing it.

He therefore stationed Spud by the box and himself went forward along
the line of flight as far as Spud could see him, where he blazed a
tree. Returning he took the bee box with some captives and started off
at right angles. At about one hundred and fifty yards he stopped, set
his captives free and soon had a line started from that point.

The locating of the tree was now simply a matter of each boy moving
forward along his line and where the two lines intersected the tree
would be found. They met at the foot of a huge pine. Some fifty feet
from the ground was a long gray strip from which the bark had fallen
away, denoting dead wood and a probable hollow. Studying this
carefully they finally made out a hole just beneath the stub of a dead
branch, and circling near this some tiny specks which Billy promptly
pronounced bees.

"We've got it!" he whooped joyously. "We've got it! Who says there
isn't some class to us as scouts?"

"Bet that hollow comes half-way down the tree. Must be a ton of honey
in it," said Spud examining the tree critically. "What you goin' to
do, Billy?"

"Goin' up to have a look at it," said Billy, taking off his coat.

"Aw, quit your kiddin'; you can't climb that!" replied Spud.

Billy pointed to a young spruce growing close to it. "I can climb
that, though," said he, suiting the action to the word.

"Well, hurry up," growled Spud. "It's gettin' darker'n blazes, and
we'll be in a pretty pickle if we don't get out of here mighty quick."

In the excitement the boys had lost all track of time and the shadows
had begun to steal upon them unawares. Up above it was still bright,
but in the hollows it was already dusk.

Billy had reached a point where he could see the entrance clearly. A
few belated stragglers were hurrying home with the last of the day's
spoils. Extending down from the entrance was a crack which widened
slightly just opposite Billy's position, and through it he got a
glimpse of weather-stained comb. The temptation was too great to be
resisted. Working out on a branch of the spruce he managed to reach
over to the tree and with his knife split off a sliver on one side of
the crack. Then things happened.

Spud, impatiently waiting below, was startled by a wild yell. He
looked up to see Billy descending at a rate that at first led him to
think that the boy had lost his balance and was falling. In fact he
was literally dropping from branch to branch. How he did it he never
could tell. The last twenty feet he dropped clear, landing with a
thump that for a minute knocked all the wind out of him.

Spud, genuinely concerned, hastened over to him and then for the first
time realized what had happened. Billy had not come down alone. A
sharp pain beneath one eye admonished Spud of the fact, and another on
his chin drove the fact home. Yes, Billy had company, and the company
was fighting mad.

Spud reached for Billy's jacket and wildly fought the enemy, while
Billy scrambled to his feet. Then, heedless of direction, they fled,
their one thought to get as far as possible from the wrath which was
being visited upon them. Crashing through the underbrush, falling over
mouldering logs, barking their shins, bumping into trees in the fast
gathering dusk, they ran till breath gave out.

The pursuit had been short, for the approach of night dampened the
ardor of the avenging insects, and the hive had quieted down long
before the boys stopped running. When finally they did stop and were
convinced that they had nothing more to fear from the hot-tempered
little fighters, they sat down to take account of injuries. Billy had
been stung in half a dozen places on the face, four places on his
hands and three on his legs. Spud had fared better, having but half a
dozen in all, the most painful being the one beneath the eye, which
was already puffed and swelling rapidly. Billy was considerably
bruised from his fall from the tree, and Spud had scraped the skin
from one shin.

Spud's concern for Billy, excited by the latter's fall, had given
place to righteous wrath. "A pretty bee hunter you are!" he
sputtered. "What in blazes was you trying to do anyway? I've a good
mind to punch your head for getting me into this mess."

He advanced threateningly. Then Billy's pathetic appearance, with his
bruised and swollen face, cooled his wrath as suddenly as it had
blazed up.

"I guess you've got yours all right, all right, and don't need nothin'
more," he muttered. "Now let's get out of here. This blamed eye of
mine will be closed tight pretty quick. Gee, how those little duffers
can sting!"

Billy had "got his." There was no doubt about that. The stings were
paining him acutely and he was stiff and sore from his bruises. But
underneath his happy-go-lucky, careless disposition was the stuff from
which true manhood is built. It showed now.

"Spud," he said slowly, "it's my fault all the way through. It's my
fault that we came out of bounds, and it's all my fault that we got
stung. I'm sorry, and when we get back to camp I'm going straight to
the big chief and tell him that I'm to blame."

"'Tain't your fault no more'n mine," growled Spud. "Come, get a move
on. Which way do we go?"

Billy looked up startled, to see the same look reflected in Spud's
face. For the first time the boys realized that in their mad flight
they had given no thought to direction. Neither had the remotest idea
of where the camp lay or even the direction of the bee tree. And for
the first time they had become aware of how dark it had grown.

"Billy, we're lost!" whispered Spud, a look of panic in his face.



CHAPTER XII

LOST


The test of manhood is the ability to meet an emergency squarely, to
put fear one side, think clearly and act sanely. The man who does not
know fear may make no claim to bravery. Courage he may possess,
courage that may lead to mighty deeds, but the spirit of true heroism
is not his until he has tasted of the bitterness of fear and conquered
it.

Of the two boys sitting with blanched faces under the first shock of
realization that they were indeed lost in the great forest, with night
fast closing in, Spud was some two years the older, stocky in build,
well muscled, apparently fitted in every way to be the leader. Billy,
on the other hand, was rather under size, wiry, quick moving, with the
activity of nervous energy, and highly imaginative. The sudden fear
that whitened Spud's sun-browned face clutched at Billy's heart as
well and prompted him to leap to his feet and plunge after Spud in
response to the latter's panic shaken, "Come on! We better keep
going, and maybe we'll come out somewhere!"

For a few minutes they tore along in frantic haste. Then Billy showed
the stuff of which he was made. "Stop, Spud!" he yelled sharply.

It was the voice of authority. It cut through the terror of the
fleeing boy in front and brought him up short. Billy had taken
command. He began to speak rapidly.

"We're a couple of idiots. This ain't goin' to get us nowhere unless
it's into more trouble, maybe. We're doin' just what always gets lost
people into trouble and gets 'em more lost. The thing to do is to sit
down and talk it over and try to decide just what we ought to do.
Pretty Scouts we are, running like a couple of silly hens at the first
scare! Wonder what the big chief would say if he could see us, after
all the lectures he's given on what to do when you get lost. Here we
are, and the question is, What are we going to do about it? What do
you say?"

"I--I don't know," confessed Spud miserably. He was shaking a bit.
"They'll send out searching parties when we fail to show up to-night.
Do you s'pose they'll come over this way?"

Billy made a wry face that instantly resolved into a grimace of pain
because of his swollen features. "No, I don't," he replied. "You see I
let some of the fellers think that we was goin' over toward Old Baldy,
and you know some of 'em saw us start out on the Baldy trail. They'll
go huntin' over that way. Spud, we might just as well make up our
minds right now that we've got to spend the night in the woods. In the
mornin' we can shin up a tall tree and p'raps get our bearings. What
we want to do now is to make ourselves as comfortable as we can, and
the first thing I'm goin' to do is to get some mud."

"Mud! What for?" asked Spud in surprise.

"To plaster on these blamed stings," replied Billy. "Jerusalem, how my
face aches! Just a little bit back there we came across a swampy
place. Come on and see if we can find it."

Retracing their steps in the direction from which they had made their
last mad flight they soon found the place Billy had noticed. With
hasty fingers he dug up the wet black muck and plastered it thick over
his swollen face and on his hands and legs. Somewhat gingerly Spud
followed his example. The cool, moist plasters brought almost instant
relief, and with the easing of the smarting wounds a measure of
steadiness returned to the shaken nerves. Spud even so far forgot his
fears as to grin as he looked at Billy.

"Gee, you are a sight! Say, the fellows wouldn't do a thing if they
could see you now! The wild man of Borneo would be a beaut 'side of
you."

"Can't have much on you," replied Billy. "That eye of yours looks as
if it was about closed up, and mud ain't becoming to your style of
beauty. Now let's make camp before it gets so dark we can't see
nothin'."

"Where'll we make it, right here?" asked Spud.

"No," replied Billy decidedly. "It's too wet. We've got to get on
higher ground."

He stooped and began to make a big ball of mud.

"What's that for?" demanded the puzzled Spud.

"First aid for the injured. These beauty plasters are goin' to dry
out pretty quick and we'll want some fresh ones. You'd better bring
along some too," replied Billy briefly.

The advice seemed good, and Spud followed Billy's example. Then they
pushed on for drier ground, Billy in the lead. Already his active
imagination had seized upon their predicament as savoring of real
adventure. He pictured their return to camp the next day as heroes
rather than culprits who had disobeyed one of the most stringent rules
of the camp. He saw himself the center of admiring groups of his
fellows because of his superior scoutcraft in knowing just what to do
and how to do it in so severe a test as spending a night lost in the
woods. The anxiety which would be caused by their absence never
entered his head, or if it did was dismissed as of little consequence.
He would show them that he was a real Scout, able to take care of
himself under any conditions.

Presently they became aware that the ground was gradually sloping up.
It was firm and dry under foot. By this time it was so dark that it
was with difficulty they could make out their surroundings. In front
of two trees standing some ten feet apart Billy stopped.

"We'll camp here," he said.

Carefully putting his precious ball of mud at the foot of one of the
trees he singled out a tall two-inch sapling. "Here, Spud, you bend
this over as far as you can," he commanded.

"What for?" asked Spud.

"Never you mind; just get busy!" replied Billy.

By this time Spud had accepted Billy's leadership without question and
he meekly obeyed. With his stout scout knife Billy made a straight cut
across the sapling at the point where the strain was greatest. The
strained fibers of the wood yielded to the first pressure of the keen
blade and in less than half a minute he had the tree in his hands with
a clean square cut base.

"You can cut down a big tree with a penknife if you can only bend the
tree over far enough," said he as he trimmed the sapling. When he had
finished he had a pole perhaps twelve feet long. Fishing some stout
twine from one of his capacious pockets he lashed the pole firmly to
the two trees about six feet from the ground.

"Now hustle and get a lot of sticks 'bout ten feet long," he
commanded.

These were not so easily obtained, but by dint of much feeling around
and effort on the part of the two boys enough sticks and young
saplings were secured to answer Billy's purpose. These were arranged
with butts on the ground and other ends supported on the cross-bar
between the two trees, all slanting evenly in the same direction.

"Now heap up all the brush and leaves you can scrape up," commanded
the young architect, bringing up an armful of spruce boughs he had
obtained from a nearby windfall. Thatched in this way the rude lean-to
was soon completed. It was a rough but effective shelter, and with a
few balsam boughs spread on the ground beneath it Billy felt that they
could spend the night with a reasonable degree of comfort.

"Now if we only had a fire this wouldn't be half bad," he muttered.
"Got any matches, Spud?"

"What do you take me for? You know the rules," growled Spud.

Billy knew. Matches were absolutely tabooed in Woodcraft Camp, that
there might be no chance of a forest fire from the carelessness of
just such reckless youngsters as Billy.

"Wish I'd brought my fire stick," grumbled Billy.

"I've got mine," said Spud.

"What! You blink-eyed owl! Why didn't you say so before?" whooped
Billy. "Trot it out!"

The cautious Spud demurred. "You know the rules, Billy, and that
building a fire without permission means expulsion," he protested.

"Expulsion nothin'!" replied Billy. "Do you s'pose the big chief's
goin' to fire us for keepin' from freezin' to death? We'll be 'bout
frozen by morning without blankets nor nothin'. Here, you give it to
me. You needn't have anything to do with makin' the fire. I'll make
it, and tell the doctor so when we get in. There ain't any danger,
'cause one of us will be on watch all the time."

  [Illustration: BILLY'S APPARATUS FOR MAKING FIRE
    FIRE-DRILL
    DRILL-SOCKET
    FIRE-BOARD OR BLOCK
    LEATHER THONG
    BOW
    PUT TOGETHER IN USE]

Reluctantly Spud produced from an inner pocket a little block of
wood having in the middle a shallow pit, already charred with use.
From this pit a V shape groove extended to the edge. From around his
neck under his coat he unslung a small bow having a slack leather
thong for a string. With this was a straight stick pointed at both
ends. Lastly he brought forth a small oval piece of wood having a
shallow pit in the center, and a little bag of finely ground cedar
bark.

All of these things he turned over to Billy. The latter first
carefully cleared the ground of all leaves and rubbish for a
considerable space in front of the shelter. He then felt around until
he had gathered a little bundle of dry twigs and some shreds of bark
from a fallen birch nearby.

Resting the block of wood or fire-board on a piece of bark he ordered
Spud to hold it steady. Taking up the straight stick already mentioned
he rested one pointed end in the hollow of the fire-board, looped the
bow thong around it and, fitting the oval piece to the upper end of
the straight stick by means of the hollow in the center, he was ready
for business. Holding the oval piece in his left hand he bore down
lightly, at the same time grasping the bow in his right hand and
moving it rapidly back and forth. This caused the straight stick or
drill, as Scouts call it, to revolve rapidly.

It was too dark to see, but almost at once the boys smelled smoke, and
a few seconds later a tiny coal glowed on the piece of bark on the
edge of which the fire-board rested. Dropping his tools Billy picked
up the piece of bark, and covered the coal with cedar bark from Spud's
bag, while he gently blew upon it. The bark was really tinder,
prepared as the Indians prepared it before ever the white man brought
his own first crude fire-making methods to startle the Red Men. The
smoke increased in volume. A tiny flame flickered, disappeared,
flickered again, then hungrily licked at the edge of a strip of birch
bark that Billy held to it.

Hastily setting down the piece of bark holding the tiny fire he
arranged the dry twigs over it in a loose pile and had the
satisfaction of seeing the blaze leap up merrily. Larger sticks were
laid over the pile, and in a few minutes the dancing flames were
making a circle of cheerful light that flooded the lean-to with
warmth and cast weird shadows among the trees.

By the light from the fire the boys were able to gather a supply of
wood wherewith to keep it going through the night and under its
cheering influence their spirits rose wonderfully.

"If we only had something to eat----" began Billy.

"Shut up!" interrupted Spud. "I'll be chewin' pine-needles in a few
minutes."

Billy had a sudden inspiration. Fishing the bee box from his coat
pocket he extracted the piece of syrup-soaked bread with which it had
been baited and eyed it critically. "There's just half a bite apiece,
and a swallow of syrup for each of us in the bottle," said he. "Shall
we have it now or wait till morning?"

"I wouldn't trust you with it till mornin'. We'll have it now,"
grunted Spud.

The night had settled down still, and with a chill in the air that
made the warmth of the fire very welcome. Beyond the zone of the
firelight a wall of blackness hemmed them in. Now that camp had been
made and there was nothing to do but wait for daylight the loneliness
of their situation weighed upon their spirits. They drew closer
together on an old log which they had drawn before the fire for a
seat. Suddenly Billy raised a warning hand.

"What is it?" whispered Spud, edging a bit nearer.

"I thought I heard a shot," replied Billy.

With straining ears the boys sat and waited what seemed an
interminable length of time before they caught the faint sound of
three shots fired in quick succession. Spud sprang to his feet.

"They're lookin' for us, Billy. Let's give 'em a yell," he cried.

First one, then the other, then both together they yelled at the top
of their lungs until their throats were strained and raw. Then they
realized the futility of wasting breath in this way.

"'Tain't no use, not a bit. May as well save our breath. We can't hear
those shots plain enough to tell what direction they come from, so of
course nobody can hear us," said Billy, disconsolately resuming his
seat by the fire.

For a while they heard shots from time to time, and somehow they
brought a certain amount of comfort. It seemed less lonely to know
that others were abroad in the forest looking for them, even though
they were miles away. But the shots ceased finally, and the brooding
mystery of the night settled over and took possession of them. They
said little, but sat absorbed each in his own thoughts or listening to
the strange sounds and uncanny voices of the night.

A pathetic picture they presented had any one been there to see,
huddled together on the old log, their swollen, mud-smeared faces
still further distorted by the uncertain flicker of the firelight. A
stick snapping off in the darkness produced an answering jump in
overwrought nerves, and the sudden scurry of a rabbit brought a
startled "What was that?" from Spud.

Presently the physical strain and excitement they had been under began
to tell, and despite their strange surroundings both boys began to
nod, while the fire died down to glowing embers. It was then that some
evil genius prompted a great horned owl to take up his watch on a dead
pine not fifty feet away and startle the woodland with his fierce
hunting call:

"Whooo-hoo-hoo, whoo-hoo!"

The sleepers awoke in a panic, frantically clutching each other.
"D-d-did you hear that?" whispered Spud, his teeth chattering.

As if in reply again the fierce hunting call rang through the woods:

"Whooo-hoo-hoo, whoo-hoo!"

Billy gave vent to a hysterical little laugh of relief. "Nothin' but
an owl," said he as he heaped more wood on the fire. "He certainly got
my goat that first time, though. Say, Spud, we're a couple of ninnies
to both be sittin' out here asleep. What'd we build that lean-to for?
You turn in there and sleep for a couple of hours and then you watch
and I'll sleep. Ain't any need of either of us keepin' watch so far as
any danger is concerned, I s'pose, for there's nothin' in these woods
to harm us, but we ought not to leave the fire burnin' without some
one to watch it."

This was sound advice, and Spud stretched out on the fragrant balsam
boughs in the lean-to and soon was sound asleep. Billy began his
lonely vigil. At first it was easy enough to keep awake. Later an
almost irresistible drowsiness took possession of him, and it was only
by tramping back and forth or hunting fire-wood within the circle of
light from the fire that he managed to keep awake. At the end of two
hours he roused Spud, and wearily threw himself in the latter's place
on the balsam bed.

It seemed to him that he had hardly closed his eyes when he felt Spud
shaking him. "Go 'way," he murmured sleepily. "What you waking me up
now for?"

"It's your turn again to watch," Spud growled, unceremoniously hauling
Billy off the boughs.

If it had been hard and lonely work before it was doubly so now. It
was past midnight, at the hour when vital forces and courage are at
their lowest ebb. Billy was stiff and sore. Every movement was
painful. He had never felt so utterly miserable in all his life. As he
afterward expressed it, every bit of sand had run out.

He piled fuel on the fire, and then sat down on the log and gave
himself over to his misery. How long he had sat there he could not
tell when he was brought out of a semi-drowse by a slight noise back
of the lean-to. In an instant he was wide awake, straining his ears
for a repetition of the sound.

The fire had burned low and the circle of light had narrowed to a
faint glow of but a few feet in diameter. Billy held his breath. Had
he imagined it? No, there was a rustle of leaves back of the lean-to.
Something was moving there. Then there followed a decided and
pronounced sniff! Billy felt his scalp prickle as if each individual
hair was rising on end. With a wild yell he grabbed a glowing ember
from the fire and hurled it in the direction of the sound. There was a
startled "whoof," and the sound of a heavy animal lumbering off
through the brush.

Spud came tumbling out of the lean-to white and shaky. "For heaven's
sake, Billy, what's the matter?" he gasped.

Billy's teeth were chattering so that he could hardly speak. "I--I--I
th-think it wa-was a bear," he finally managed to get out.

"Go on, what you givin' us!" said Spud.

Billy had by now so far recovered himself that he could give a
connected account of what he had heard, and both agreed that their
visitor could have been nothing less than bruin. Needless to say there
was no more sleep for either that night. They piled fresh fuel on the
fire and kept watch together, starting nervously at the smallest
sound.

It was with a sigh of profound relief that they noted the gray of dawn
stealing through the trees, and with the coming of the light their
spirits rose perceptibly.

"What shall we do now, make a break out of here?" asked Spud when day
had fairly broken.

"Not on your tintype!" replied Billy. "I'm lost all I'm goin' to be.
You get busy and build another fire over there about fifty feet. When
it gets goin' good heap on a lot of green leaves and rotten wood to
make a smoke. I'll do the same thing with this fire. There ain't a
breath of wind; those two smokes will go straight up, and you know two
smokes means 'lost.' Some one will be up at the lookout on the top of
Old Scraggy the first thing this morning, and he'll see the smokes.
Then he'll get word to camp and a party will come out and find us."

Wise Billy. He had decided upon just the right course of action. After
the return of the unsuccessful searching parties Dr. Merriam had spent
an anxious night. Before daybreak he had dispatched Seaforth with one
of the guides to the top of Old Scraggy. They had seen the signal
smokes at once and heliographed the location of them to camp. A party
led by Big Jim and Louis Woodhull had started immediately, and as soon
as they reached the clearing where the boys had begun their bee hunt
they saw the smoke lazily curling above the tree tops about a mile
beyond.

Firing signal shots and stopping every few minutes to send a whoop
ringing through the woods they pushed on and presently, guided by
answering whoops from the two victims, found the camp.

"Mother of saints!" exclaimed Big Jim as he caught a glimpse of the
swollen and mud-stained faces of the two boys.

Billy smiled feebly, for the effort was painful. "We found a bee
tree," he said.

"Found a bee tree! Found a bee tree!" echoed the guide. "'Pears to me
thet them bees did some findin' on their own account."

Then seeing what really pitiful condition the two youngsters were in
he called an abrupt halt to all jollying by the rescuers and at once
prepared for the return to camp. One of the party was sent on ahead to
relieve the doctor of his worry, and the rest slowly worked their way
out, for Billy was too stiff and sore to hurry much.

At the first brook a halt was made and the faces of the two victims
were tenderly bathed and made a little more presentable to enter camp.
Billy's volatile spirits were already back to normal. He was full of
the bee tree and the bear and already laying plans for getting the
honey.

At mention of the bear Big Jim smiled. "Folks thet git lost in th'
woods most generally meet up with a bar," he remarked dryly. "Didn't
give yer a lock o' his hair fer a soovineer, did he, son?"

Billy tried to make a face at the guide, but winced with pain. "I tell
you there _was_ a bear, and he came right up to our lean-to," he
sputtered indignantly.

And so they came into camp where in front of the office Dr. Merriam
stood gravely awaiting them.



CHAPTER XIII

THE HONEY SEEKERS


Two very sober boys came forth from their interview with the big
chief. It was not that their punishment for infraction of the two most
rigidly enforced rules of the camp--jumping bounds and building
fires--was to be so severe. In fact they were getting off much lighter
than they had dared to hope for, being ordered to police camp for one
month and also being denied the privilege of joining any of the
various special parties going out with the guides for two and three
day trips. Dr. Merriam considered that their experience had been in
the nature of punishment, severe enough to warrant him in being
lenient in his dealings with the culprits.

He had simply talked to them, quietly, kindly, with no shadow of
resentment, no suggestion of scolding. It was just a plain talk as man
to man, in which the doctor made clear to them how the welfare of all
is wholly dependent upon the individual, and that the breaking of
laws made for the community in no way harms those in authority, but is
an outrage upon the great body politic and in time is bound to react
upon the lawbreaker.

"The honor of Woodcraft Camp as a whole is to be safeguarded only by
keeping unsullied the honor of each individual member. By your acts of
deliberate disobedience yesterday you not only besmirched your own
honor as Scouts under oath, but you blotted the honor of the entire
camp. Buxby, by your own confession you have sought to take upon your
shoulders the entire blame for this unfortunate affair. The motive
does you credit. But, my boy," he concluded, turning to Spud, "I want
you to realize that weakness which allows one to follow another in
wrongdoing is quite as blameworthy as the act of the leader, and that
therefore I hold you equally culpable with Buxby in this affair."

His face lighted with one of his rare smiles. "I believe that from now
on I can trust both of you implicitly," he said, giving each the
Scout's grip.

"The thing that hurts me most is the fact that the big chief won't
let the findin' of that bee tree score for the Delawares. There's
fifty points thrown away just because I wouldn't take your advice,
Spud, and wait till we got permission to go out of bounds," said
Billy, as half an hour later the two boys sat at one end of the mess
table making up for their prolonged fast.

Spud stopped a huge slice of bread and butter half-way to his mouth.
"What about that second line we ain't run down yet?" he asked slowly.

Billy stared at him for a minute, then suddenly choked over the cup of
hot cocoa he was drinking. When he had recovered his breath a broad
smile lighted his battered face.

"Spud, old Scout, we win!" he exulted. "Here's where we beat the big
chief after all! Why didn't I think of it before? It's as easy as
picking up chips at a wood-pile. We haven't said a word about that
second line. We won't, except to Woodhull. We'll take him along and
run that line clear to bounds. Then we'll show Louis how to use that
bee box, and let him go on and find the tree. You know there are no
bounds for the tribe leaders. Fifty points for the Delawares---- Oh,
my lucky stars!" Billy finished with a whoop that brought the cook
running to see what the trouble was.

In the meantime Dr. Merriam was having a conference with Big Jim at
the headquarters. "I tell yer, doctor, thet leetle scatterbrain hev
got more woods sense than three-fourths o' th' rest o' these
youngsters put together. Wish yer could see thet camp o' theirn.
Couldn't 'a' built it no better myself. An' then he had sense enough
t' stick right thar and send up them smoke signals. If he only hed th'
level top piece o' thet youngster thet went in t' Lonesome with me
he'd hev th' makin' o' one o' th' best leaders in camp, even if he did
hear a bar." The big guide chuckled.

"So you don't take any stock in the bear?" asked the doctor.

"Not th' least leetle mite," replied Jim. "Folks thet's lost allers
hears bars or wildcats. I been watchin' out some sharp an' I ain't see
no sign o' bar nigher'n ten mile o' this camp in th' last three
years."

"Where did those bees come from?" asked the doctor.

"Feller thet lived in this camp th' summer 'fore yer bought it had a
couple o' hives. Guess some o' 'em must hev got away from him. Thet
youngster cert'nly did run 'em down slick. Hadn't never noticed th'
leetle honey bugs myself."

The doctor smiled. "I had," said he, "and I had intended to line them
out some day, but Billy got ahead of me, and as you say, he certainly
did the trick very cleverly. The thing that pleases me, however, is
the fact that he was observing enough to notice them. I don't believe
that there is another soul in camp beside myself who had discovered
them. Jim, that boy has got the right kind of stuff in him. We've got
to take him in hand and develop his bump of caution and sense of
responsibility."

"If he could run with young Upton fer a while----" began the guide.

"The very thing I had in mind," interrupted the doctor. "When Buxby's
period of probation is over I think we'll have to plan a trip for you
with those two youngsters, one that will put them on their mettle. It
will be an interesting experiment. What do you think about opening
that bee tree?"

The guide grinned. "A leetle honey would kind o' sweeten things up
some," he ventured.

"All right," replied the doctor. "Be prepared to take a small party in
to get it day after to-morrow."

Big Jim's "honey party," as he called it, was drawn wholly from the
Delawares, in honor of the tree having been discovered by members of
that tribe. It included Woodhull, Tug Benson, Upton and Chip Harley.
Billy and Spud were denied the privilege of going out of bounds, so
could go no farther than the edge of the old clearing. Spud announced
that he had had enough of bees anyhow, and chose to stay in camp. But
Billy was heart-broken. However, he was fair minded enough to admit to
himself that he deserved all that was coming to him, and hiding his
chagrin led the expedition to the old clearing and gave the guide the
line from the stump on the upper edge. He watched the others disappear
into the woods in single file and then sat down to possess himself in
such patience as he could until they should return. He had no doubt of
their success in locating the tree and as Big Jim was no novice at
cutting bee trees, he anticipated no trouble on that score. All the
party wore gloves and carried mosquito netting to protect faces and
necks from the maddened bees. In fact both Tug and Chip had their
veils on when they entered the woods. The guide carried an axe, as did
Woodhull, while Walter and Tug each carried a galvanized iron water
pail for the expected honey. Billy knew that the guide would run no
risk of having his charges badly stung and would undoubtedly smoke the
hive well before laying it open.

The minutes passed on leaden wings. What was the matter? Why didn't
Jim whoop when he found the tree as he had agreed to do? Could he have
overrun it? A slight rustle in the bushes on the edge of the clearing
some thirty yards to the right caught Billy's attention. Something was
moving there. To kill time he started to investigate. "Probably a
porcupine," he muttered to himself, as he softly stole forward.

Creeping on hands and knees to the shelter of a fallen tree trunk he
cautiously raised his head and peeped over. Instead of the expected
porcupine he saw a little brown furry animal vainly trying to pull
over an old log, and emitting funny little discontented whines as it
tugged. At first glance it looked something like a clumsy puppy, and
then the truth flashed across Billy and made his eyes pop out. It was
a bear cub, a very little fellow at that.

With impulsive Billy to act first and think afterward was ever the
governing principle. It was so now. Quietly dropping down behind the
tree trunk he hastily slipped off his jacket. Then rising to his feet
he reached forward and threw it over the head of the unsuspecting
little animal, recklessly throwing himself after it. For a few minutes
there was a desperate struggle accompanied by muffled squeals. Then
Billy succeeded in getting the wildly clawing fore-paws smothered in
the folds of the jacket and, pinning down the stout little hind-legs,
he had his victim helpless.

"Gee, now I've got him what'll I do with him?" he panted. A sudden
inspiration came to him. He remembered noticing a huge hollow stump
in the middle of the clearing. If he could get him over to that and
drop him into it he could be held prisoner until the bee hunters
returned. Wrapping the enveloping jacket still tighter around the
imprisoned head and fore-paws Billy gathered the struggling bundle in
his arms and started for the stump.

Just before he reached it pandemonium broke loose in the woods behind
him. There were wild yells in all keys from Big Jim's deep base to
Chip Harley's shrill falsetto. Billy chuckled. "Must have stirred them
bees up something awful," he muttered. "Funny I didn't hear 'em
choppin'. There, you little fiend!" He dropped the cub into the hollow
and spread the jacket over the top. Then for the first time he
realized that a baby as small as his captive must have a mother at no
great distance. His face went a trifle pale under its coat of tan. "I
wish them fellers would quit fightin' bees and come out," he muttered.

Almost with the thought his wish was gratified. Chip came first. The
bee veil was still over his head and he looked not on the order of
his coming. He floundered out of the brush, caught a heedless toe
under a stick and fell headlong. He was up in a flash, blindly
struggled through a raspberry tangle that he might have gone around,
bumped into a half-hidden stump and went down again with a little
moan. Then he was on his feet again and passed Billy as if he was
trying to break the hundred yard sprint record.

Tug was a good second, and he had little advantage over Chip in the
method of his coming. He seemed to have some pressing engagement back
at camp, and was "going strong" when he passed Billy.

Walter and Woodhull appeared next, but as they were unencumbered by
veils they picked their footing with more discretion, and Louis
stopped as soon as he reached the open, Walter following his example
half-way to Billy. Lastly appeared Big Jim, who came out of the woods
leisurely, his axe still in his hand. Jim was grinning. It was clear
to Billy that something had happened, but that whatever it was the
guide considered the danger past now.

Something had happened. Following the guide in single file they had
proceeded some distance when they became aware of a humming sound
which steadily increased in volume as they advanced. Suddenly Big Jim
abruptly halted and held up a warning hand. There was a puzzled look
on the guide's face.

"Somethin' has made them bees plumb mad fer sartin," he whispered.

The volume of sound increased. It was as if off in the tree tops
beyond a huge top was spinning. The brush was still too thick for them
to see the tree itself. Then into the steady hum of the bees there
broke a new note, half growl, half whine, followed by the ripping
sound of rent wood.

The guide's face cleared. "You boys are goin' t' see somethin' in a
minute yer won't likely ever see agen. Now come on, and be mighty
careful about not makin' no noise," he whispered.

A few feet further on the thick young growth opened up and they came
in full view of Billy's bee tree. What they saw drew a startled
exclamation from the three younger boys, at once silenced by a warning
hiss from Big Jim. There, fifty feet from the ground, gripping the
tree with hind legs and one huge fore arm, was an immense black bear.
The long claws of the paw that was free had been hooked into the
entrance hole and a long strip the length of the crack which had led
to Billy's undoing a few days previous had been torn out, exposing the
hollow packed with comb. Bruin was then occupied in scooping out great
pieces of comb dripping with honey and transferring them to her mouth,
whining and growling and stopping every other second to slap at the
bees clustered in an angry cloud about her head.

What no one did see, because all eyes were turned up instead of on the
ground, were two little brown bundles of fur that scurried for the
shelter of a windfall.

"Ain't a mite o' danger," whispered the guide, noting the panicky look
on some of the faces. "In 'bout a minute yer'll see th' worst scared
bar in the North Woods. Now don't run when she comes down if yer don't
want th' hull camp laughin' at yer," he warned, seeing Chip and Tug
already beginning to edge away.

Had Jim been aware of the presence of the two cubs he would have
adopted a very different course of action. He was counting on the fact
that despite its great size and immense strength the black bear is one
of the most timid of all wild animals in the presence of man unless
wounded, cornered or called upon to protect its young. Perhaps
timidity is not quite a fair indictment. Let us say rather that of all
wild animals none has come to have a more wholesome respect for man,
and it is a well-known fact that not even a deer will bolt quicker at
man's approach than will this black comedian of the big woods.

It was with this fact in mind that the guide advanced a few steps and
suddenly sent forth an ear-splitting whoop. Things happened then with
a rapidity that left no time for thought. Walter stoutly maintains to
this day that the bear neither slid nor climbed down--that she simply
let go and dropped. Certain it is that the echo of Jim's wild yell was
still ringing in the woods when she landed with a thump that brought
forth a grunt. Then, instead of the mad flight on which the guide had
counted, she reared on her haunches with her back to the tree,
growling savagely, her little pig eyes red with rage.

  [Illustration: "RUN!" HE YELLED]

Big Jim took in the situation at a glance. "Run!" he yelled, himself
holding his ground and swinging aloft his double edged axe.

Even as he uttered the warning the bear charged. Walter, who stood a
little to one side, unconscious of what he was doing, hurled the pail
he was holding full at the angry beast and turned to run. This proved
the salvation of Big Jim. The rolling clattering object distracted the
bear's attention for an instant. She paused long enough to give the
pail a vicious blow which by chance sent it clattering noisily into
the old windfall behind which the cubs had taken refuge. There was a
frightened squeal followed by the sound of scurrying feet among dead
leaves.

Big Jim heard the squeal and understood. "Cubs, by gum!" he exclaimed.

The bear heard too. She stopped, irresolute, half turned toward the
windfall, then faced the guide and reared, growling savagely. There
was another faint squeal from beyond the windfall. The bear dropped to
all fours and slowly retreated in the direction of her cubs, pausing
every few steps to turn and growl threateningly over her shoulder.

It was the guide's opportunity to retire in good order and he made
haste to avail himself of it, reaching the clearing just in time to
see Chip and Tug disappear down the home trail on the far side.

Now that the danger was over the humor of the situation tickled him
immensely and as he with Walter and Woodhull approached Billy all
three were finding relief in a hearty laugh.

All at once they became aware that there was something unusual about
Billy. He was dancing around the old stump like a lunatic, yelling,
"I've got him, Jim! I've got him! I've got him!" He was without his
jacket and his shirt was in tatters. His face and arms were bleeding
from deep scratches.

The guide gaped at him open mouthed. "Great smoke, sonny," he drawled,
"yer look as if yer was th' one thet had met a bar, not us."

"I have, Jim, I have! It's in there!" yelped Billy.

The guide peeped into the hollow, and a long drawn whistle of
astonishment escaped him. Then abruptly his face sobered and he cast
an apprehensive glance back at the forest.

"Must hev been three cubs," he said, reaching in and catching the
whimpering little bear by the scruff of the neck. "Bars don't
generally hev but two, but I've heerd say thet sometimes they has
three. This leetle chap must hev strayed off while his mother was
a-clawin' fer thet honey. I reckon we better be movin' right along. It
ain't goin' t' be no ways healthy round these parts when Mrs. Bar
misses this leetle chap."

Wrapping the cub in Billy's jacket once more Big Jim set the pace for
camp at a rate that kept the smaller boys on a dog trot, not without
many a fearful glance behind them.

Camp was reached safely, where the news of Billy's capture spread like
wild-fire, and for once he found himself the hero he had so often
pictured himself; wherever he went he was the center of an admiring
group.

The doctor was petitioned in a round robin signed by every member of
the camp for permission to keep the cub as a pet. This was granted,
and "Honey," as he was called, soon became one of the most important
members of Woodcraft, where his droll antics were a constant source of
amusement.

The Delawares were jubilant, for Billy's prize scored them fifty
points, and when a few days later the second bee tree was successfully
lined out and this time the honey obtained without adventure, Billy's
popularity was secure for all time, for this also added fifty points,
as he had foreseen it would.

"He was a harum-scarum before, and this sure will be the ruin of him,"
Woodhull bewailed to his chum, Seaforth.

But Woodhull was wrong. There was a change in Billy. He was the same
lovable, light-hearted boy as before, but the careless, reckless
spirit that had so often led him into mischief was lacking. For the
first time he seemed to have a serious purpose in life. And it dated
back to the morning after the lonely night in the forest. Billy was
finding himself.

"I reckon he did hear a bar thet night," said Big Jim to the doctor as
they discussed Billy's episode with the cub. And Billy knows he did.



CHAPTER XIV

THE SUPREME TEST


Half-way between Woodcraft and the Durant lumber camp the trail
crosses Speckled Brook, once a noted trout stream famed for the size
of the spotted beauties that lurked in the black depths of its pools,
or hung on the edge of its boiling rapids watching for the unfortunate
grub or fly struggling helplessly on the shimmering surface of its
swift current. Persistent whipping day in and day out through the open
seasons by anglers whose creed is little more than greed has robbed it
of its fame for big strings, and the ruthless destruction of cover on
its watersheds by the axe of the lumbermen has so reduced its water
supply that a note of pathos has crept into the sweetness of its song
and sadly marred the beauty of its forest setting.

Yet even now there is an indescribable charm about Speckled Brook, and
in some of the deeper pools are finny warriors worthy the skill and
patience of lovers of the rod. Walter never could come within sound of
its purling song without experiencing an irresistible desire to
linger.

It was calling to him now as with noiseless step he strode along the
trail toward the Durant camp. Since his trip to Lonesome Pond he had
continually practiced "still walking," whenever the opportunity
offered. It had been the chief incentive for many a morning tramp. He
had become fairly proficient by now, and on an ordinary trail walked
with freedom and ease without giving conscious thought to his feet.
Twice he had surprised deer and frequently approached smaller game to
within close range of observation before they became aware of his
presence. Each success brought with it a sense of growing skill, a
feeling that in time he might fairly hope to pit his trained knowledge
against the wonderful senses of the wild life around him with the
advantage not wholly on their side.

Now as he came within sound of Speckled Brook he quickened his step
that he might linger for a few minutes on the log bridge over which
the trail ran. It was hidden from his view by a sharp turn so that he
was almost upon it before he became aware that someone was before him.

Seated on a stringer of the bridge, his face buried in his arms, was a
khaki and flannel clad figure. An expensive split-bamboo rod lay
beside him unheeded, the tip jerking up and down in a way that
evidenced something more than the current tugging at the end of the
line. It was a pathetic figure, contrasting strangely with the joy of
the beautiful morning. Now and then there was a heave to the drooping
shoulders, while a muffled sob mingled with the song of the brook.

Walter paused, irresolute. He had recognized Harrison at the first
glance, and his heart went out to the boy who had sought the sanctuary
of the wilderness to give way to his misery where none should see.
With an inborn delicacy of feeling Walter turned softly, and without a
sound stole back up the trail until the turn had effectually hidden
him from view. The bitterest thing in a boy's life is to be seen in
his hour of weakness by another boy. Somehow it seems to rob him of
something of his manhood. Without analyzing it in this way Walter felt
that it would be unfair to Hal to let him know that he had been seen
crying.

At the end of a hundred yards or so Walter once more turned in the
direction of the bridge, whistling shrilly. This time when he rounded
the turn Hal was on his feet rebaiting his hook, while a ten-inch
trout flapped at his feet. His hat was pulled low over his face, but
on his cheeks were traces of tears hastily wiped away.

"Hello, Hal! What luck?" called Walter cheerily as he approached.

"I don't know as it's any business of yours. You see I'm not buying
'em, anyway," was the surly and bitter reply.

Walter flushed, and an angry retort rose to his lips, but with it came
a vision of the picture of utter misery he had witnessed a few minutes
before. He stepped forward and held out his hand.

"Don't, Hal," he pleaded. "Let's be friends."

"You don't want me for a friend; nobody does," growled the other.

"Hal, I came pretty near punching your head once, or trying to,
anyway. Now I am coming back at you. When you say that I don't want
you for a friend you are not telling the truth. Now, are you going to
punch my head or are you going to shake hands?" Walter once more
extended his hand, all his good humor restored.

Slowly the other reached forth and gripped it. "I--I guess I'll
shake," he said, a sheepish smile twitching at the corners of his
mouth. Then he pushed back his hat and faced Walter squarely. "It's
mighty white of you, Walt," he blurted out hurriedly. "I do want you
for a friend. I guess I need friends if any fellow ever did. Nobody's
got any use for me back there," nodding in the direction of the camp,
"and I can't get away, because I haven't anywhere to go. You see, my
folks are all in Europe for the summer. I'm stuck here, and I've got
to stay."

"I'm glad of it," said Walter heartily.

"Wh-what do you mean?" demanded Hal.

"Just what I say," replied the other. "I'm glad of it. You've got in
wrong here with the camp. If you went away now you'd always be in
wrong with the whole crowd. Maybe you think that if you got away and
never came back it wouldn't matter what the fellows think, but it
would. They'd always remember you, not for what you really are but for
what they think you are, and no matter how great a success you might
make when you grow up you'd know all the time that a lot of people
didn't believe in you. You've made a lot of mistakes. Now you've got a
chance to correct 'em right where you made 'em. You can't forget 'em
yourself, and don't want to, but you can make the other fellows forget
'em; and they will, too, if you'll give 'em a chance.

"Your dad's got a lot of money, and I guess you've grown up to think
that money is the only thing that counts. I s'pose it does count for a
lot in the city, but out here in the woods it doesn't count a little
bit. It's the fellow himself, the stuff that's in him, and not what
he's got. You forget all about your dad, I mean his money, and sail in
for everything that's doin' here, and you'll find that the boys will
meet you more'n half-way. Gee, I'm getting to be a regular preacher!"

Hal laughed, the first genuine laugh he had had for many a long day.
"It's the best sermon I ever heard, Walt," he said. His jaw suddenly
shot forward in set lines. "By George, I believe you are right, and
I'm going to fight it out right here!--If you'll help me," he added
wistfully.

"Sure I'll help!" replied Walter heartily, "and so will the rest of
the fellows, if you'll give 'em a chance."

Hal gazed at the brook thoughtfully for a few minutes. "I--I hardly
know how to begin," he said hesitatingly.

"Go hunt up Chief Avery of the Senecas and tell him that you know
you've made a mess of things and that you want to square yourself with
the tribe and with the rest of the fellers. He'll help you out, and
tell you what to do. He's white all through," advised Walter.

"I know he is," admitted Hal. "He's been mighty decent to me. I guess
if it hadn't been for him the other fellows would have refused to
speak to me at all. I wish--I wish there was some way I could make up
some of those points the tribe lost when I was found out. I can't do
it fishing, for honest, Walt, I don't know the fishing grounds at all.
I tried to bribe Pat Malone to tell me where he caught those big fish,
but he knew which side his bread was buttered. Said he'd catch 'em for
me, but I couldn't make him loosen up and show me where I could catch
'em myself. There's one fellow in the woods that money talks to all
right, all right! He knew that as long as I had to have the points I'd
pay for 'em, and he held me up a little stiffer each time. I don't see
what got into him to come peach on me. Did--did you put him up to it?"

Hal had the grace to blush as he asked the question, and before Walter
could reply he hastened to apologize. "I know you didn't. At first I
was sure you did. I guess I was pretty sore. I thought you had it in
for me, and I wouldn't blame you a little bit if you had had. But I
don't see now what struck Pat. Do you know, I've always had more'n
half a suspicion that he stole Mother Merriam's pin. I guess he could
tell something about it if he was pinned right down to it."

"Forget it, Hal," Walter broke in. "You and most of the other fellows
have got Pat sized up all wrong. I don't know who stole the pin, but I
do know it wasn't Pat Malone. I tell you that there isn't a Scout in
Woodcraft Camp that right down in his heart is whiter than Pat. Oh,
he's tough, but that's because he's never had half a show. I didn't
know a thing about his comin' into camp to see the big chief until it
was all over. He did it because he's just begun to learn a few things
about honor and what honor means. Fact is, Hal, I was up against it on
this honor business myself. I didn't want to blab on you, and yet it
wasn't fair to the other fellows to let you go on scoring when I knew
that you weren't getting the points on the level. I was fishing with
Pat that morning and he found what was troubling me. He didn't say a
word, but while I was off in the woods that afternoon he took a quick
sneak into camp, and you know the result."

Hal nodded grimly.

"I tell you, Pat did a big thing," continued Walter. "Money doesn't
grow on every bush in these woods, and those few dollars Pat got from
you meant more to him than a thousand dollar check would to you or me.
And I don't think he did it just for me, either. I think he saw that
you were playing it low down mean on the other fellows, and he began
to see that by keeping mum and taking the money he was a party to it.
Pat came in and told, to clear himself in his own mind. I tell you he
has the Scout idea all right, and he's got it straight. I don't
believe I'd have had the sand to do what he did."

The expression on Hal's face had changed curiously as Walter spoke. He
was seeing things in a light that he had never seen them before,
getting a new perspective of life.

"Walt, did Pat show you his fishing ground?" he asked abruptly.

"No, I stumbled on it myself."

The other laughed a little embarrassed laugh. "I just wanted to be
sure," he replied. "I've tried mighty hard to fool myself into
believing that you succeeded in bribing Pat where I failed, perhaps
not with money, but in some way. I heard all about how you licked him
the morning you got here and I thought that--that maybe you--you----"
he paused and flushed painfully.

"You thought that I promised Pat another licking if he didn't show me
where the fish are," Walter finished for him.

"Something of that sort," admitted Hal. "I didn't really believe it,
but I wanted to, and I guess I tried mighty hard. But all the time I
knew you were on the level and--and it made me sore to have you beat
me twice with fish when I'd risked so much to win the points."

"Well, that's all past, and we'll let the past dig its own grave and
bury itself," said Walter. "We're both on the level now, and we're
goin' to stay there. I'd let you in on that fishin' ground, only when
I found it I found Pat there and I promised him not to tell a soul.
Isn't there somethin' else you're interested in that you can go in for
points on?"

"I don't know," replied Hal thoughtfully. "I like to paddle pretty
well."

"Great!" cried Walter. "Go in for it, and go in hard. You know I'm out
for the quarter-mile swim. Pluggin' at it every day. You do the same
thing with your paddling. Get next to Avery and tell him what you
want to do and that you really mean it. He'll get a coach for you
before you can turn 'round. The Senecas need every point they can get,
and Avery knows it. You see the Delawares are just naturally goin' to
trim you fellows," concluded Walter with a grin.

"They sure would if there were any more Senecas like me," said Hal
mournfully. Then his face cleared, and he began to reel in his line.
"I'm goin' straight back to camp now and hunt up Avery and ask for a
chance to make good!"

"That's the stuff!" cried Walter heartily. "Here's luck to you, old
man! I'm awfully glad we're friends at last. I'm off to the Durant
camp. Got a permit this morning. Never was in a real logging camp, and
Pat's goin' to show me the whole thing. Keep a stiff upper lip!"

The boys shook hands warmly, and while Walter with a light step and
lighter heart hit the trail for the lumber camp Hal resolutely set his
face toward Woodcraft. It was not an easy thing that lay before him.
It was hard, bitterly hard. He had not realized how hard until he had
left Walter and faced the thing alone. Never in his whole pampered
life had he had to stand alone on his own feet. Now he faced the
severest test a boy can face. Dimly he realized that it was a crisis
in his life--a call to his manhood. Could he meet it? Could he?

"I will! I will! I will!" he repeated over and over. "I will! I will!
I will!" Presently he began to run, fearing that his courage would
fail him before he could find Avery and make a clean breast of
matters. When he came in sight of the camp he slowed down. It was
going to be even harder than he had thought. Perhaps Avery wouldn't be
there. He found himself hoping that he wouldn't. Was it really
necessary after all to so humiliate himself? Perhaps if he waited a
little he could do some big thing that would win the fellows over to
him. Other fellows were all the time doing things, why shouldn't he?
There was Billy Buxby with his bee trees and bear. Why couldn't he do
something big like that?

Hal was fighting a battle, the hardest battle that boy or man is ever
called to engage in--a battle with self, a fight to a finish for the
right to look himself in the face without blushing, a fight for his
manhood. Beads of cold perspiration broke out on his forehead. And
then he looked up and saw Avery standing in front of the wigwam. The
battle would be won or lost in the next few minutes.

For an instant he faltered. Then his jaw shot forward in hard set
lines as it had back there in the woods with Walter. "I will! I will!
I will!" he muttered. Somehow with every repetition of those little
words the way seemed easier. And then in a flash came the idea for the
supreme test of the manhood within struggling to come into its own. He
began to run once more, to run away from the coward striving to hold
him back, from the Hal Harrison he had known so long, that the whole
camp knew.

"Chief," he panted, saluting Avery, "may I--may I see you alone for a
few minutes?"

Avery led the way into the deserted wigwam. What passed there is known
only to the two lads themselves. When they came out the face of the
younger boy was pale, but it bore a look of fixed resolve, and there
were lines of character which had wiped out much of the old weakness.

"You are quite sure you want to do this thing, Hal? You know it is not
necessary," said the chief.

"Yes it is necessary--for me," replied Hal firmly, "and I've simply
got to do it for--for myself."

After evening mess Chief Avery requested the Senecas to remain for a
few minutes, and after the Hurons had filed out he briefly announced
that one of their number wished to say a few words.

Hal rose and faced his comrades. His knees shook so that he could
hardly stand, and little streams of perspiration trickled down his
face. But there was that new set to the jaw, and though he gulped
painfully once or twice, he plunged into the task he had set himself.

"Fellow Scouts," he began, "I--I want to apologize to all of you for
what I have done and for the disgrace I've brought on the tribe. I'm
sorry. I didn't realize what I was doin'. I knew that the fellows
didn't like me, and--and I wanted to be popular," he blundered on. "I
thought if I scored a lot of points for the tribe that maybe I should
be and--and I didn't see any other way. I've made an awful mess of
things, and I see it now. I'd like a chance to start over again,
and--and maybe really do something for the tribe. I--I--want to make
good and--and have some friends among the fellows," he ended lamely.

He sat down weakly, and buried his face on his arms. At a sign from
the chief the tribe filed out quietly. When the last one had gone he
walked over and put his hand on the bowed head at the end of the
table. "Hal," he said gently, "you have made good. That was the
bravest act I've ever seen in Woodcraft Camp. We're prouder to have
you a Seneca than we would be to win that deer's head. That was the
supreme test, and we're proud, all of us, to have a fellow tribesman
with the sand to meet it as you have done. You'll find that you have
won your friends, boy."

Later, when Hal had recovered his self-possession somewhat and went
out among his comrades, he found that it was as Avery had said. On all
sides were friendly hands to greet him, and in a quiet unobtrusive
way his fellow Scouts made it clear to him that at last he was one of
them. He had already made good.



CHAPTER XV

CRAFTY MIKE


When Walter parted from Hal at Speckled Brook he quickened his pace to
make up for lost time. Presently he came in sight of the Durant camp.
Pat Malone, whose official capacity at the camp was that of "chore
boy," was on his way to the spring with a couple of empty pails. His
usual good-natured grin lighted his face at Walter's approach.

"Oi'd begun t' think ye was afther fergittin' ye had an ingagement wid
yer frind av th' woods," he called.

"Hello, Pat! Sorry I'm late," replied Walter, offering to carry one of
the pails.

Pat waved him aside. "Shure, wud ye be takin' th' bread an' butter out
av the mouth av a poor worrkin' man?" he demanded. "'Tis me job fer
which Oi draws me pay, an' now Oi've lost me market fer fish Oi'm
thinkin' Oi'd best be shure av me shtupendous sal'ry."

He picked up the pails brimming with cold spring water and started
for the rear of the main cabin, whence the voice of "Cookie" could be
heard commanding him to hurry, and heaping anathemas upon him for a
lazy, good-for-nothing ne'er-do-well.

Pat winked. "Dogs that bark be afther havin' poor teeth," said he.
"Oi'll be wid ye in a minute."

He was as good as his word, and was soon ready to play the host.
Walter found the camp similar in arrangement to Woodcraft. It lacked
the refinements of the latter, but was snug and comfortable, exactly
adapted to the needs of the rough men to whom it was "home" the
greater part of the year. When they had thoroughly inspected the
cabins, stable and shop Pat suggested that they visit the present
"cutting." This Walter was most anxious to do, for he had never
witnessed actual logging operations.

The trail was rough but well built, for upon the character of the
trail depends much of the lumberman's success in getting his logs to
the water. A poorly built trail means costly waste of time, energy and
strength of man and beast when the time comes for getting the cut
down to the driving point. Wherever the trail dipped to low or swampy
ground logs had been laid with their sides touching one another. This
is called a corduroy road, and is the only practical and effective
method of preventing horses and wagons miring in low, swampy ground.
Such a trail is rough traveling in dry weather, but when the heavy
snows of winter have covered it and have been packed down and iced it
forms an ideal slide for the lumber bobs with their huge loads of
logs.

The trail gradually led up the lower slopes of Old Scraggy, and some
two miles from the camp the boys came upon one of the crews at work.
The crash of falling trees, the rasp of saws, the sharp ringing blows
of axes biting into hard wood, the shouting of rough voices and now
and then a snatch of rude song proclaimed that the work of destruction
was in full blast.

The scene was one of intense interest to the city boy, and quite upset
his preconceived ideas of how trees are felled. "Why, I thought they
chopped trees down!" he exclaimed.

"Not whin they've a good saw an' two good byes fer th' inds av it,"
said Pat.

They walked over to where a couple of saw men were preparing to cut a
great pine. There was a fascination in watching the huge cross-cut saw
with its double hand grasp at each end eat its way into the trunk of
the great tree, the two men swaying back and forth in perfect rhythm,
broken only when it became necessary to drive in the wedges that kept
the saw from binding and that would eventually send the tree crashing
down on the exact spot that they had picked out for it.

Soon there came the warning snap of breaking fibers, the great tree
swayed slightly, leaned ever so little and then, as with a shout for
all hands to stand clear the saw men sprang back, it slowly and
majestically swung forward until, gathering speed, it fell with a
mighty crash, carrying down several small trees that stood in its
path, and shivering its upper branches as it struck the earth.

It seemed to Walter as if it had hardly struck before the axemen were
upon it, their great double edged axes flashing in the sun as they
stripped off branch and stub until in an incredibly short time it lay
shorn of its glory, a huge bare pole fit to be the mast of one of the
Yankee clippers that were once the pride of the American marine.

But no such honor awaited it. Another team of sawyers attacked it at
once, cutting it into mill lengths. Then came "Jim." Jim, so Pat
proudly claimed, was "some hoss." Clanking at his heels was a stout
chain ending in a sharp heavy hook. This was driven into one end of
one of the logs and then at a word from his master--one could hardly
say driver, for there were no reins--the big horse set his neck into
his collar and guided solely by the "gee" and "haw" of shouted command
dragged his burden down to the skidway where the logs were piled to
await the coming of snow. It was wonderful to see with what
intelligence the horse picked his way through the tangled brush, and
it was equally wonderful to see the lumber-jacks at the skidway catch
the great log with their peaveys and roll it up to the very top of the
huge pile already on the skids.

A rough lot, these lumbermen, of many nationalities, English, Irish,
Scotch, French "canucks," a half-breed or two, and some who boasted
that they were pure "Yank." They were rough in looks and rough of
speech, ready to fight at the drop of a hat, but warm-hearted, loyal
to a fault to their employers, ever ready for work or frolic. Rough
indeed, but theirs is a rough life. They took a kindly interest in
Walter, explaining the many things he found so strange, and it was
with real regret that he finally took the back trail.

And it was with something of sadness too, for he was a true lover of
nature and there was something tragic in the crashing of those great
trees and the despoiling of the great forest.

But Pat left him little time for thoughts of this kind. Producing a
bag of the famous cookies of which Walter had once had a sample
through the agency of Chip Harley, Pat kept up a running fire of
comment on his camp mates, while they munched the crisp brown wafers.

As they sighted the camp the cook was hanging a wash. Pat's eyes
twinkled with mischief. Motioning Walter to follow him he stole in
back of the stable. "Shure 'tis meself that clane forgot to
inthrodush ye to th' most important number av Durant camp," he
whispered. "Shtay here till yez see some fun."

He slipped into the stable, and in a few minutes was back, leaving the
door open. Peeping around the corner Walter saw a crow walk out with
the stately step of his tribe. "'Tis Crafty Moike!" whispered Pat.

The black rascal stood for a minute or two blinking in the sun. Then
he flew up on the stable roof, where he appeared to have no interest
in anything in the world save the proper preening and dressing of his
feathers. In the meantime the cook finished hanging out his wash to
dry and turned back to the cabin. Hardly was he inside the door when
Crafty Mike spread his wings and without a sound flew over to the
clothes-line, where he quickly and deftly pulled out every pin, giving
each a throw to one side.

When the last pin was out and half the wash lay on the ground he flew
swiftly to a tall pine on the far side of the clearing, cawing
derisively as he went. It was plain that "Cookie" knew only too well
what the sound of that raucous voice meant. With a pot in one hand
and a dish towel in the other he rushed from the cabin pouring out a
perfect flood of vituperation and invective on his black tormentor,
while behind the stable Pat fairly hugged himself with glee.

"Caw, caw, Billee, Billee! Caw, caw, caw!" shouted Mike, sidling back
and forth along a bare limb of the pine, evidently in huge enjoyment
of the joke.

"Oi shplit his tongue so he talks a little, and Billy is the cook's
name," whispered Pat, noting the look of amazement on Walter's face
when he heard the crow speak.

"Caw, caw, Billee, Billee!" Mike was quite beside himself with
enjoyment as he watched the angry cook pick up the fallen clothes,
which he was too wise to rehang while the black rascal was at liberty.
Besides, many of them must be returned to the tub.

"I'll blow your blasted head off, that's what I will!" shouted the
cook furiously as he disappeared in the cabin with the last of the
wash. In a moment he was out again with a shotgun in his hands. Walter
grabbed Pat by one arm. "You're not going to let him shoot, are you,
Pat?" he asked in real alarm.

Pat chuckled. "Don't yez worry about Moike," he said. "'Tis not fer
nothin' Oi named him Crafty. He knows a gun as well as Oi do, an' just
how far it will carry."

The cook was now sneaking toward the pine, apparently quite
unconscious that he was all the time in plain view of his would-be
victim. Mike waited until he was half-way there, then spread his
wings. The cook threw up the gun and blazed away with both barrels,
though the range was hopelessly long, while Mike's derisive, "Caw,
caw, Billee, Billee!" floated back from the shelter of a thick clump
of hemlocks beyond.

"But won't the cook get Mike when he comes back?" Walter asked with
real concern.

"Moike won't come back to-night unless Oi call him," replied Pat.
"'Tis a woise burrd he be afther bein'! Whin Oi go in Oi'll tell
cookie how much the byes will enjoy th' joke whin they come in. He'll
shware a bit an' thin he'll be afther beggin' me not to say a wurrd
about it. Oi'll promise if he'll promise to lave Moike alone, an'
that'll be th' ind av it till nixt toime." It was evident that Pat and
Mike knew their man and were wise with the wisdom of experience.

"Moike is a great burrd," continued Pat. "He's as full av tricks as a
dog is av fleas, an' th' wurst thafe in three counties, bad cess ter
him. He'd shtale th' shmoile off yez face if it was broight enough an'
he could pry it loose. He'd follow me into th' prisince av th' saints.
Oi have ter shut him up whiniver Oi lave th' camp or, glory be, he'll
be taggin' along an' mebbe gettin' me in all sorts av throuble. But Oi
love th' ould rascal just th' same."

At Pat's mention of Mike's thieving proclivities a startling thought
flashed into Walter's mind. Had he at last found the long lost clue?

"Pat," he broke in abruptly, "did Mike ever follow you to Woodcraft?"

Pat scratched his head in an effort to remember. "Oi couldn't say," he
replied. "Oi think loikely, fer there's few places he hasn't followed
me."

"Would he follow you there now if you'd let him?" asked Walter.

"Shure! Oi couldn't lose him if he wance saw me hittin' th' trail."

"Can you call him now?" pursued Walter.

"Sure!" Pat answered promptly.

"Listen, Pat," said Walter eagerly, and he hurriedly told Pat all
about the loss of Mother Merriam's pin, discreetly omitting all
reference to the suspicion against Pat himself so long entertained at
the camp.

"Th' dirthy thafe!" broke in Pat indignantly. "Now who could it be, Oi
wonder! None av th' byes here wud do a thrick loike thot, and yez say
there was no sthrangers in camp. But what has all this got to do with
Moike?"

"I'm coming to that," said Walter. "Maybe it hasn't anything to do
with him. That's what I want to find out. Maybe you don't remember
coming into camp on an errand that morning and visiting Dr. Merriam's
office, but you did. Now, if Mike had been following you, and had seen
that pin on the window sill would he have been likely to have picked
it up and carried it off?"

"As sure as little pigs has curly tails," replied Pat with conviction.
"Oh, th' villain! It's mesilf will wring th' black neck av him with
me own hands wance Oi git thim on him!" he exclaimed, a realizing
sense of the situation and the position in which he had been placed
dawning on him. "'Tis a wonder yez didn't arrist me fer th' thafe, and
Oi wud not have blamed ye at all, at all! Just lave me get th' two
hands av me on that burrd! Sure his heart be as black as his coat!"

Walter laughed. "Wait a while, Pat, wait a while," he said. "We don't
know yet that Mike had anything to do with it. Now here's my plan: You
call Mike so that he can see us start down the trail to Woodcraft.
Then you go with me until we get almost in sight of the camp. I'll
leave you there and go ahead. I'll get a bright button or something
and put it on the window sill of Mother Merriam's window and then get
out of sight. Then I'll whistle three times and you come along in as
if you had an errand at the office. Go right by the window and around
to the front door, where I'll meet you. Then we'll watch Mike and see
what he does."

"Walter, me bye, 'tis a great nut yez have on the two shoulders av
yez!" exclaimed Pat admiringly. "We'll do ut."

He put his fingers to his mouth and whistled shrilly. At once there
was an answering caw from the distant hemlocks, and Mike appeared
winging his way toward them but, with the canny wisdom which had
earned him his name, giving the cabin a wide berth. He dropped down to
Pat's shoulder at once, where he jabbered in crow talk as if telling
Pat all about his joke on the cook, all the time studying Walter with
eyes so bright and sharp as to make the boy almost uncomfortable.

Without further delay they started for Woodcraft, the crow riding on
Pat's shoulder or occasionally flying a short distance ahead. At the
edge of the woods Pat sat down to wait while Walter hurried ahead.
Hunting through his ditty bag he found a bright brass button and
hurried over to the office. Fortunately no one was about. Putting the
button on the sill where the pin had been left the morning of its
disappearance he slipped around in front and gave Pat the signal.

Pat came at once, but Mike, distrustful of the camp or perhaps
plotting mischief, lingered behind. Pat passed the window and joined
Walter in front of the office. Then they cautiously peeped around the
corner to watch Mike. As soon as he discovered that Pat was out of
sight he quickened his flight and winged his way directly toward the
rear of the office. The two boys watching could see him turn his head
from side to side as he flew, his bright eyes scanning everything in
sight. When he reached a point abreast of and above the window he made
an abrupt half circle, dropped down to the sill as silently as a
shadow, seized the button and then, mounting high, winged his way in
strong swift flight "as straight as the crow flies" for Durant camp.

"The black scoundrel!" murmured Pat. "The black-hearted thafe!"

It was too late for Walter to think of returning to the lumber camp
that afternoon, and he had an engagement the next morning at nine.

"Lave it to me," said Pat. "Oi know ivery hidin' place av th' ould
thafe, an' if he shtole the pin 'tis in wan av thim this very minnut.
If thot robber took th' pin, an' Oi misthrust he did, 'tis Pat Malone
that will have it back here by half afther eight to-morrow marnin'."

After evening mess Walter called Tug and Chip to one side.

"I've got a clue," he announced with pardonable excitement.

"What is it? Who is it?" they demanded as one.

"I'll tell you to-morrow morning at half-past eight," replied Walter,
and that was all they could get out of him that night.

Walter slept but poorly. He was burning with curiosity to know the
result of Pat's search, and he was alternately filled with joy at the
thought of being able to return the precious pin to Mother Merriam,
and torn with the fear that Crafty Mike might have lived up to his
name and hidden his prize beyond Pat's reach.

By eight o'clock the next morning he could wait no longer and started
up the Durant trail. It was just before he reached Speckled Brook that
he heard Pat's shrill whistle, and by the sound of it he knew that
there was good news. A few minutes later Pat swung into view. Crafty
Mike, looking abject and bedraggled, was tucked securely under one
arm, while the free hand was jammed in a trousers pocket. Pat's
freckled face stretched into a broad smile as he caught sight of
Walter. He drew his hand from his pocket and spread it wide open.
There in the palm, side by side, lay Mother Merriam's pin and the
brass button which had proved Mike's undoing. Walter sent forth a
joyous whoop, and did a war dance that was expressive if not
dignified.

Before going to the big chief Tug and Chip were taken into confidence
and shown the pin and the thief under pledge of secrecy. Then Pat and
Walter started for the office. In response to Dr. Merriam's cheery
"Come in," the two boys entered, Walter elated and Pat diffident.
Walter had carefully prepared a little speech, but in the excitement
of the moment it went completely out of his head. He did remember to
salute his chief, and then he blurted out the news so fast that the
words fairly tripped over each other: "We've found Mother Merriam's
pin, and we've found who the thief is, and----"

"Wait a minute," interrupted the doctor, smiling. "What is this about
Mother Merriam's pin?"

For answer Pat extended his hand with the pin on the broad palm. The
doctor's face lighted with pleasure as he reached out to take it.

"But the thief?" he said. "I don't quite understand."

"Here he is, sor," said Pat, thrusting forward the protesting Mike.
The doctor's face was a study as he bade the boys sit down and tell
him the whole story. When they had finished he quietly questioned them
until he had drawn from Walter all that he had hitherto kept from Pat,
how the latter had been suspected, how he had been sure that Pat was
innocent, how he had found the crow's feather caught in the screen,
and how this fact had come to his mind as soon as Pat had mentioned
Mike's thieving propensities.

"Upton, I want you and Malone, and Mike, too," he added with a
whimsical smile, "to remain here until I return."

He left the room, and a few minutes later Walter was startled to hear
the "recall" sounded. Many of the boys had not yet left camp, and the
others within hearing came hastening in. When they had all gathered
the doctor stepped out in front.

"Some time ago," he began, "the 'recall' was sounded to tell you that
a thief had been in our midst, and to ask you to give of your services
in an effort to regain the pin which had been stolen. It seemed to me
that it was quite as important to again sound the 'recall' to tell you
that the pin has been recovered."

He paused as a stir ran through the group of boys, and they broke out
in a hearty cheer. "And," he continued when quiet had been restored,
"the thief taken, and that this happy result has been accomplished by
one of your own members. Who that member is I am not going to tell
you, but I want you to know that I consider that in his whole course
of action he has displayed the very highest form of scoutcraft, for he
has not only apprehended the thief and recovered the plunder, but what
is of vastly more importance, he has removed unjust suspicion from one
whose good name not one of you has had real cause to doubt."

He then briefly sketched the story of the search for and the finding
of the pin, no names being mentioned, and concluded by bringing forth
the pin and Crafty Mike for all to see.

Sitting in the office Walter and Pat had heard every word, and
Walter's face glowed with pleasure at the doctor's praise. He felt
that his reward had been great indeed, and when the doctor concluded
by saying that fifty points would be credited to the Delawares in
recognition of his work, his joy was complete.

An hour later Pat Malone paused on the trail to Durant camp to look
with shining eyes at a gold piece in his hand. "Caw," said Crafty
Mike, looking down from his shoulder with greedy eyes.

"Shut up fer a black-hearted thafe!" growled Pat. "Sure, 'tis me ruin
an' me fortune that yez are loike ter be."



CHAPTER XVI

THE POACHER OF LONESOME POND


Hal and Walter stood at the landing waiting for the launch with the
day's mail and express matter. There had been an unfortunate error in
ordering the needed photographic chemicals, and Walter was still in
ignorance of the results of his trip to Lonesome Pond. As the packages
were thrown out his eye caught the familiar label of the photographic
supply house.

"Hurrah!" he shouted, pouncing on the long-looked-for package, "I'm
off to get first crack at that dark room. Want to come in with me
while I develop, Hal?"

"I sure do," was Harrison's prompt response. "I'm almost as anxious as
you are to know what you've got on those films. The results may make a
big difference to us Senecas, you know. We can't give the Delawares
many more points."

As they started toward the office Big Jim and a stranger passed them
talking earnestly. The latter had come in the launch. He was a man of
medium build. His hair and eyes were gray, the latter clear and keen.
There was nothing to especially distinguish him from the general run
of guides of that region.

"Who is he?" asked Hal of Billy Buxby, who had saluted the stranger.

"Game warden," replied Billy, briefly. "Been a lot of deer shootin'
round these diggings, so they say, and the big chief has been trying
for some time to get the warden up here. Now he's here I reckon
there'll be something doing."

Walter thought of his experience at Lonesome Pond, and wondered if the
warden would go in there. As the boys passed through the office to the
dark room Dr. Merriam, Big Jim and the warden were in earnest
conversation.

"Whom do you suspect, Jim?" It was the warden who spoke.

"Red Pete," replied the guide promptly. "But yer understand I ain't
got a mite o' proof. Ain't seen hide nor har o' him, but I've seen
signs thet spells Red Pete t' me. O' course some o' th' boys up t'
th' camp will go out and get a piece o' meat once in a while, but thet
ain't doin' no great harm."

"It ought to be stopped, Jim!" the doctor broke in sharply. "The law
is law, meant for the lumber-jack just as much as for the city
sportsman. I have no patience with this attitude of the natives that
the law is made for the other fellows, not for them. Either the laws
should be wiped off the statute books or they should be enforced to
the letter without discrimination or favor."

"Thet may be so, doctor, but folks 'round here don't sense it thet
way," replied Big Jim. "Anyway, th' real harm thet's bein' done th'
deer is from some low down skunk thet's too lazy t' do honest work an'
is jes' shootin' fer th' lumber camps. An' if it ain't Red Pete may I
never sight another rifle! Nobody knows whar he is, or if they do they
won't tell. You git yer hands on Red Pete, and this deer shootin' will
stop."

The boys passed into the dark room and heard no more. Walter at once
prepared his developer and also a fresh supply of hypo, for he was
resolved that no precaution should be neglected to get all that might
be in the negatives.

"Going to use tank development?" asked Hal.

"No," replied Walter, "I'm not. Ordinarily I should, but I'm going to
give each of these films separate treatment, and develop each for all
that it holds. You know I want another fifty points," he added.

The daylight subjects were developed first and, with the exception of
one fogged across one corner, were all that could be desired. Walter
was particularly pleased with the results of his first successful
shots on the way in to Lonesome Pond, and as the image of the great
blue heron rapidly increased in strength under his skilful
manipulation of the developer he confided to Hal how his rattled
nerves had led him to miss two splendid chances previous to the
opportunity afforded by the heron.

A portrait of Big Jim holding up Walter's double catch of trout would
have been hard to improve, and Hal, looking over the other's shoulder,
blushed as he recalled the big trout he had bought only to be beaten
by the catch of which he now saw the proof growing before his eyes.

For the flashlights Walter prepared a special developer, and as it
washed over the first film both boys bent over the tray eagerly.
Almost at once three spots, one slightly above the other two,
appeared, and these rapidly took outline until the eager watchers
could see clearly the doe and three fawns of Lonesome Pond.

"Hip, hip hurrah!" shouted Hal, slapping Walter on the back. "There
are your fifty points for the Delawares!"

"Now for the last one of all," said Walter as, the others all in the
hypo, he picked up the negative made by the flash on the runway. "I
knew what ought to be on the others, but I don't know what ought to be
on this except that it ought to be a deer."

He bent impatiently over the tray, gently rocking the developer back
and forth over the negative. Presently he looked up, and in the dim
ruby light Hal could see a puzzled frown wrinkling his forehead.
"That's the queerest thing I ever got up against!" he exclaimed. "I
can make out the horns of a big buck, but they seem to be all mixed up
with the figure of a man. If I hadn't taken such mighty good care of
these films I'd say that it was a case of double exposure. Must be
that I had another case of rattles, and forgot to pull the tab of the
one made just before the flashlight, and so made the latter right on
top of the former. Yet this doesn't act like an over-exposed negative,
and a double exposure would be an over-exposure. Oh, well, I give it
up! We'll see what it looks like when it comes out of the hypo. Here
it goes in. Now open that door, Hal, and I'll open the window. I'm
about roasted."

Hal threw open the door and the two boys stepped out into the office.
The doctor was still there, but Big Jim and the warden were nowhere to
be seen. At the sound of the opening door the doctor looked up.

"We beg your pardon, doctor, and hope that we haven't disturbed you,"
said Walter.

"Not in the least, Upton," he replied smilingly. "I presume you have
been developing those Lonesome Pond negatives, and to tell you the
truth I am almost as anxious to see them as you are yourself. You see
Big Jim has told me all about that trip, and he was positively
enthusiastic over the flashing of the three deer."

The doctor came over to the dark room and stepped in. "I presume they
are about fixed by this time," he said, dipping his hand into the
fixing bath and taking out a negative. He held it to the light and
examined it critically. "Just a trifle over time, don't you think,
Upton? Still it is an excellent negative, and the composition is
admirable. Hello, what's this?" He had dropped the first one into a
tray of running water and had picked up a second which he was turning
round and round in his hands as if he hardly knew which was top and
which was bottom. "Ha, I have it!" An expression of perplexity passed
over his face and his brows puckered. "What's this, Upton?" he asked.
"I didn't hear anything about any such photo as this."

Walter stepped behind him and looked at the negative the doctor was
holding to the light. At first he could make nothing of it but a
tangle of foliage. Then suddenly he saw against this background the
figure of a man stooping beneath the burden of the body of a deer
across his shoulders. Walter's mouth gaped foolishly as he studied
the negative.

"What does it mean, Upton?" the doctor repeated, a twinkle in his eyes
as he saw the boy's vacant look.

"I don't know, sir," replied Walter truthfully enough.

"But the negative is yours, isn't it?" persisted the doctor.

"Yes, sir. No, sir. That is--why, of course it must be mine," replied
Walter confusedly. "I don't understand it at all, sir."

"How many flashlights did you make?"

"Two; the one of the three deer and the one on the run. This----" He
paused as it flashed over him for the first time that this was a
flashlight negative.

"Yes," said the doctor with a quizzical smile, "this is one of them.
And as it certainly isn't the one of the three deer it is the one on
the run."

"But--but what does it mean?" asked Hal, looking over the shoulders of
the others.

"It means," said the doctor gravely, "that Upton has secured the
evidence that will convict the poacher of Lonesome Pond."

He dropped the film back in the fixing bath. "I see it is not quite
clear yet. Fix and wash it thoroughly and then if you can, Upton, I
wish you would make a print from this before Jim and the warden return
to-night. They have gone up to the Durant camp to look about a bit. I
must request you both to say nothing whatever about this matter until
I give you permission. And of course you understand that the
photograph is to be shown no one. Bring the prints to me as soon as
you have them made. If you have time make a print from each of your
other negatives. We'll entertain the warden on his return."

By noon the films were dry and by three o'clock that afternoon a
complete set of prints was in Dr. Merriam's hands. Late in the
afternoon Big Jim and the warden returned, and shortly after the
doctor sent for Walter.

"Warden," said he, "this is Upton, the lad who was with Jim at
Lonesome. I've called him in thinking you may like to question him a
bit as to conditions at Lonesome, and also that he may have the
pleasure of showing you some photos in which I know you will be
interested, as will Jim also. I tell you, warden, some of our boys are
doing great work here! It takes something more than mere knowledge of
photography to get such pictures as these! The man behind the camera
has got to be something of a woodsman, as I think you will admit when
you have looked these over."

As he finished speaking he handed the package of prints to Walter face
down, and the boy, noting that they were numbered in consecutive
order, instantly realized that this was a cue for him to show them in
that order. As one by one the prints were laid on the desk Big Jim
bent over them with all the enthusiasm of a great overgrown boy,
telling the warden the story of each and making comments that made
Walter blush to the roots of his hair. When the beautiful picture of
the doe and her two fawns was put before him Jim's delight was without
bounds.

The doctor smiled. "So you think that's pretty good, do you, Jim?" he
asked.

"Good? It's the best I ever see!" exclaimed the guide.

"Upton has one that will interest you still more, I think, Jim. Show
it, Upton."

The warden and guide leaned forward eagerly as Walter placed the last
print on the desk. For a full minute there was absolute stillness as
the two men studied the print in surprised astonishment. Walter will
never forget the expression on the guide's face as he stared first at
the doctor, then at Walter and finally back at the print, while slowly
comprehension of what it meant dawned.

"What did I tell yer?" he roared, smiting the desk with a huge fist.
"What did I tell yer? Didn't I say it was Red Pete? Is this evidence
enough for yer, warden?"

"It's evidence enough, Jim; but say, I haven't got this through me
yet. You didn't tell me anything about seeing Red Pete, let alone
taking his photograph. It's a wonder he didn't put a knife in you for
that."

Jim laughed. "I expect he would if he was sure what had happened," he
replied. "Yer see thet thar buck must hev taken one o' th' other runs
an' reached th' lake, where Pete was laying fer him. Pete potted him,
an' then waitin' just long enough t' bleed him an' take out his
innards (I found 'em th' next mornin') he dug out 'fore we should come
snoopin' round. He jes' happened t' hit th' run th' camera was on, an'
o' course he fired th' flash. Oh, glory! I wish I could hev seen his
face right after thet flash! I bet every black har on his head was
standin' on end an' thet Pete was reelin' off prayers t' every saint
he's ever heard o' as fast as his tongue could go!"

"I notice that he held on to the deer," observed the warden dryly.

"You bet he did!" replied Jim. "Thet flash jes' naturally blinded him
fer a few minutes, an' he couldn't see nothin'! Then he heered us
comin' on th' jump an' he didn't hev no time t' look fer th' camera
an' bust it. He jes' hit th' trail double quick a-trustin' t' luck
thet we didn't git nothin'."

"This is all the evidence I want," said the warden. "Doctor, I want
you to let me have Jim for a couple of days. I need him, for Pete's a
slippery customer, and it'll need two of us to surprise him. We'll
start for Lonesome early to-morrow morning, and the less said about
our movements the better. Remember, boy, mum's the word," he added,
turning to Walter.

Jim had been studying the photograph closely. "Whopping big buck
Pete's got thar!" he remarked, then added sharply, "Son, come here an'
tell me if this is a scratch on th' picter or if it's in th' picter!"

The guide was pointing to a tiny white line on the shoulder of the
deer. Walter examined it closely. "It's in the picture," he said
slowly. Then, a startling idea slowly forming in his mind, he looked
up at the guide, who instantly read his thought.

"Yes," said the big fellow with angry bitterness. "It's him. It's the
King o' Lonesome Pond, th' big buck you 'n' me trailed thet mornin',
murdered by a half-breed cutthroat who'd treat you 'n' me jes' th'
same if he dared, an' he could see a dollar in it. I'm ready t' start
when you are, warden, an' th' sooner I see his ugly mug behind th'
bars th' sooner I kin enjoy my vittles agin."

When the name of Red Pete was first mentioned it had sounded strangely
familiar to Walter, but try as he would he could not place it. Now as
he studied the photograph he recognized the low-browed, surly axeman
who had been in the waiting room at Upper Chain the morning of his
arrival in the woods, and there flashed through his mind Big Jim's
characterization of Pete that morning as the "meanest man in th'
mountains." How little he had dreamed that their lines would ever
cross, and now--he shivered involuntarily as he wondered what the
outcome would be and what would happen if the outlaw should chance to
learn of the evidence Walter now held in his hand.

"I--I guess you'd better keep the film and the prints," he said,
turning to Dr. Merriam, and breathed easier as the doctor took them.
Then excusing himself, he hurried out to find Hal and warn him not to
breathe a word about the second flashlight picture.

Did Red Pete suspect? And if so what if he should happen to meet him
alone in the woods? For the next few days he seldom went far from
camp, and never alone. Even then he had the feeling of being watched,
and would turn suddenly half in fear and half in hope that he might
catch a glimpse of the breed's threatening face peering from some
leafy screen. Walter's nerves were playing him tricks. Nor did they
become any easier when the warden and Jim returned empty handed from
Lonesome Pond. They had found plenty of traces of the poacher, in fact
had found his camp, but it was evident that the outlaw had transferred
his headquarters elsewhere.

Owing to other business the warden was obliged to postpone the search
for the time being, but left with a promise to return at an early date
to run Pete down. In the meantime Walter continued to feel uneasy, and
the lumber camp to enjoy fresh "veal."



CHAPTER XVII

THE HAUNTED CABIN


"What's on this afternoon?"

"Nothin' much."

"Come on, push it out! If it's nothin' much the sooner it's out of
your system the better."

"Well, what's the matter with a visit to the haunted cabin? I guess we
can get a permit all right."

The speakers were Hal Harrison and Walter. They had just met after
noon mess, and the proposal to visit the haunted cabin came from Hal.

"Great idea," exclaimed Walter. "There's Chief Avery over there now!
You tackle him while I hunt up Woodhull. I'm pretty sure he'll let me
go."

Permission was readily granted, and the two boys at once launched a
canoe, and pointing the bow up and across the lake soon left the camp
behind. The haunted cabin was the same to which Walter had heard
veiled allusions on his first day in camp, and to which he supposed he
had been carried for his initiation ordeal. Ever since then he had
intended to visit it, but until now there had never seemed a good
opportunity. It was located on the other side of the lake some three
miles up, and was a half mile back from the water some little distance
off to one side of a lumber trail. As it was out of bounds, it was
necessary to get permission from the chiefs in order to visit it.

"What do you know about it, Walter?" asked Hal as they sent their
light craft swiftly over the water.

"Not much except that there was a murder or a fight or somethin' of
the kind there years ago. Do you know anything about it?"

"Only the stories that are floatin' 'round, and no two agree," replied
Hal. "I've been kind of interested, and have run down all the stories
I could get hold of. I guess there was a tragedy there all right, but
from all I can gather it was a fair fight, and not a cold-blooded
crime. The story that seems to be most generally accepted is that
there was a fight over a girl. The cabin was built by an old
half-breed trapper before there were any lumber trails through these
parts at all, and he lived there with his daughter, who was said to be
a mighty pretty girl. The old fellow's name was Duquesne, but he was
more Indian than French, and was commonly called Indian Joe. He was a
grouchy old fellow, and people didn't have any more to do with him
than they had to.

"The girl was a beauty, and old Joe was so jealous of her that he
never would let her out of his sight when they came down to the
village to trade, and the young fellows of the region found that the
vicinity of old Joe's cabin was anything but healthy. Finally a young
Scotchman named Bruce moved down here from Canada and ran a line of
traps up in the region that Joe had come to consider his own special
preserve. This was bad enough, and roused all the Indian in him, but
when he discovered that young Bruce had fallen in love with the girl
and that she was in love with him his rage knew no bounds and he made
a lot of ugly threats, so that the friends of the young fellow warned
him to keep away from the cabin, and I guess the girl begged him to
also.

"But Bruce was hot-headed and afraid of nothing and no one. When he
heard of the threats he rightly guessed that things were probably
mighty uncomfortable for the girl, so he jumps into a canoe and heads
straight for the cabin. When he got there old Joe was out on his trap
line and the girl begged Bruce to leave. But he wouldn't, and waited
till the old man came back. He was in the cabin when the old man
returned and the latter got inside before he discovered the visitor.
He started to throw his rifle up, but Bruce was too quick for him and
knocked it out of his hands. But the old man had a knife, and he
didn't waste any time. He was all Indian then, and was on Bruce like a
wildcat.

"I guess Bruce saw it was kill or be killed, with the girl for the
stakes, so he whips out his own knife, and they turned that cabin into
a shambles.

"The young Scotchman had the advantage of weight and youth, but Joe
was all Indian, with every trick known to that kind of fighting, and
with black hate in his heart. I guess it was some fight, all right,
and the girl seeing the whole thing. Finally Bruce got in a lucky
thrust that ended things and old Joe with it. He was cut up something
fierce himself and so weak from loss of blood that I guess he thought
he was going to cash in. But the girl managed to bind him up and get
him into the canoe, though how she did it no one knows, for the cabin
is half a mile back from the lake. Anyway, the first the village knew
of it she came paddling in with Bruce in the bottom of the canoe, more
dead than alive.

"You know lumbermen and backwoods people are awfully superstitious,
and it wasn't long before they had the cabin haunted by Indian Joe's
spirit, moaning for his lost daughter. Hunters and trappers began to
tell all sorts of stories of queer sounds around the cabin and soon no
one would go near the old place. Superstition's a queer thing, isn't
it?"

"You bet it is, and it isn't confined to lumbermen and backwoods
people by a long shot!" replied Walter. "What became of the girl?"

"Oh, Bruce recovered, of course, and married her, and they moved up
into Canada. There's the landing at the lumber trail."

A few minutes later they drew the canoe out on the shore. A
lumberman's batteau was drawn up at one side, and they could hear
voices ahead of them on the trail.

"A party going up to the Brown camp, I guess. I understand they've
begun cutting about three miles back," said Walter.

The boys set out at a brisk pace along the trail. "Avery says that the
trail to the cabin is so overgrown that it's hard to find, but that
there is a Scout sign where it turns off of this trail, and then a
line of old blazes," said Hal. "It's on the right a short half mile
from the lake."

The boys slackened their pace, scanning the right hand side of the
trail as they advanced. Presently Walter stopped and pointed to a
little group of stones half hidden in the brush to the right. It
consisted of a stone of fair size with a smaller one resting on top of
it and a third on the ground to the right of the others. Both boys
recognized it as the old Indian sign which means "Trail to the right."

Turning in they soon found a tree with a blaze so old that it was
nearly covered with bark. Getting the direction from this they were
able to sight the next blaze and so pick out the trail.

"Doesn't look as if any one had been over this for an age," said Hal
as they carefully picked their way along.

In about fifteen minutes they saw an opening in the tree tops ahead
and soon stepped out into what had once been a small clearing, but
which was now overgrown with brush and berry thickets, and in places
good stands of second growth birch and maple. In the midst of this
dreary waste stood the "haunted cabin."

The boys stood at a little distance and looked at it in silence for a
few minutes, thinking of the tragedy which was said to have been
enacted there. It was the usual type of log cabin, a one room affair
with the remnants of a shed or small addition of some kind clinging to
the rear. The cabin had been well built, for it was in a good state of
preservation save that in places the roof had fallen, leaving black,
yawning holes. It had been turfed at some time in its existence, and
such parts as were intact were covered with a tangle of grass and
weeds. Altogether it was a desolate and dreary looking object.

"Gee, I don't wonder they think it's haunted! Well, let's see what it
looks like inside," said Walter.

They approached it from the front, and to their great surprise found
the door still intact and closed. When they attempted to open it they
were further mystified to find that it would not yield to their
combined efforts. It was locked on the inside.

"What do you know about that!" exclaimed Hal. "Let's try the back
door."

Here a further surprise awaited them, for their entrance was as
effectually barred as before. They stared at each other blankly.

"Wouldn't that get your goat!" muttered Walter. "Must be that some
hunters have had nerve enough to use it, and have locked it up for
safe keeping," he added with a half-hearted laugh. His eyes idly
taking in the surroundings suddenly became fixed on a point a few feet
distant. "Say, Hal," said he abruptly, "there's a path, and it looks
to me as if it had been used lately. Let's follow it."

It certainly was a path, and with every evidence that it had been
recently used. The boys followed it in puzzled silence until it
abruptly terminated at a spring. It required no very keen observation
to see that the spring had been cleaned out at no very distant day. As
by a common impulse they turned and stared back at the cabin, which
returned the stare with its gaping windows, as empty of life and
forlorn in appearance as could well be imagined. And yet there was
something sinister about the old ruin. It lay like a wet blanket on
the buoyant spirit of adventure with which they had entered the
clearing.

Walter gave a little embarrassed laugh as he said, "It's queer, but
I've had a feeling of being watched ever since we struck the clearing.
There's no reason for it, and yet I can't get rid of the idea that
somebody's eyes are on us."

"Must be the 'hant,'" said Hal with a laugh. But his face sobered as
he added, "I've had an awfully uncomfortable feeling myself, Walt. I
don't believe I'm keen to crawl in one of those windows. Reckon I've
seen all I want to of the old place. What do you say if we go back?"

"I've had enough," agreed Walter. "I don't wonder they call the old
thing haunted. Guess that story got on our nerves all right. I never
thought I was superstitious, but I sure would hate to spend a night
here."

The boys quickened their pace as they passed the ruin, throwing a
hasty glance in at the yawning windows, but in the darkness of the
interior they could make out little.

"Ugh!" said Hal as they picked up the trail out, "I'm glad to leave
the blamed old place. I guess it's haunted all right!"

Had he looked back and seen the venom in the pair of black eyes that,
through one of the windows they had so recently passed, watched them
disappear on the trail, he would have still further rejoiced that they
were leaving the old ruin behind.

They found the canoe where they had left it, but the batteau was gone.
With Hal in the stern and Walter in the bow they soon had half a mile
of open water between them and the shore. It was then that Hal noticed
for the first time that there was considerable water in the canoe and
that it was increasing rapidly. His exclamation of dismay drew
Walter's attention to their predicament. The canoe had not leaked
before--what did it mean?

A hasty examination of the interior showed that the water was coming
in slightly forward of Walter's seat, and that at the rate it was
gaining their little craft would soon be awash. There was nothing
wherewith to bail except their hands or sneaks, and these were wholly
inadequate in face of the fact that one must paddle. They did not dare
go back whence they had come, for instinctively they felt that the
source of their present difficulty lay there. Camp was still some two
and a half miles distant and the afternoon was growing late. It was a
situation to test their powers of resource and scoutcraft to the
fullest.

Walter hurriedly stripped off his trousers and shirt. "What are you
going to do?" cried Hal. "You can't swim from here to camp!"

"Don't intend to," responded Walter hurriedly. "I'm goin' to try to
find out what's happened to us. When I get out you get as far back on
the stern as you can. That will put her bow clear out of water and
give me a chance to see a good half of her bottom."

With the words he plunged over, and Hal crawled back as directed.
Walter came up at once under the bow and found that, as he had
anticipated, he could examine easily the whole forward half of the
canoe's bottom. It took but a moment to locate the trouble, two long
gashes close to and parallel with the keel.

"Some one's cut it!" cried Walter. "Must be one of those lumber-jacks
that was over there with the batteau did it. Never knew of them doing
anything like this before. They've played tricks on the fellows lots
of times for fun, but never anything low down mean like this, or
anything that meant danger. You stay back there and paddle a while,
Hal, and I'll swim. With her bow out that way she can't leak any more.
By and by you can swim and I'll paddle. Water's fine!" he added with a
grin.

The water had rushed to the stern and Hal, sitting astride the canoe,
was able to bail much of it out with one of Walter's sneaks. Then
while Walter swam he slowly paddled so as to remain close to the
swimmer. The wind had begun to freshen a trifle and as they were
heading it came from a point off the port quarter, and Hal soon had
his hands full to keep on the course at all, for the high bow was
caught by every little gust and frequently he was spun around as if on
a pivot.

Walter was swimming easily, but he realized that the distance to be
covered was beyond his powers, and he thought rapidly as he swam. Hal
was not a strong swimmer, but would be able to cover a short distance
while he had a breathing spell in the canoe. Gradually he came to a
realization of the struggle his comrade was having with the canoe, and
that the latter's arms would be strained and weary when it came his
turn to take to the water. They must try some other plan. Studying the
lines of the canoe he concluded that with both of them far back in the
stern the gashes would be partly out of water, and that with both
paddling they might make some distance before the water reached the
danger point. Then he could go overboard again and Hal could bail out
as before.

This plan was at once tried and with both putting all their strength
to the paddles they gained a full mile before it became necessary for
Walter to go overboard again. This time they were near a small island,
and thither Hal drove the canoe and had beached and emptied it by the
time Walter arrived. After a thorough rest they prepared to start
again, when they spied a boat coming down the lake. One look was
sufficient to assure them that their troubles were at an end. There
was but one pair of shoulders in the woods like those sending the
light craft toward them with powerful strokes.

"Jim! Jim! Oh, you Jim!" they yelled shrilly.

The rower stopped and turned toward them, then altered his course, and
in a few minutes was resting on his oars alongshore while, both
talking at once, they poured out their story and showed him the gashed
canoe. The big fellow's face wore a look of perplexity as, with the
boys in his boat and the canoe in tow, he headed for camp.

"Whar did ye say ye went when ye left th' canoe?" he asked.

"Up to the haunted cabin," replied Walter.

"Was the hant t' hum?" he inquired with a grin.

"No," said Hal, "or if he was he was mighty seclusive. Both doors were
locked."

"What's thet ye said, son?" demanded the guide sharply, as he stopped
rowing for a minute.

"I said the doors were locked and we couldn't get in," replied Hal.

"And there was a path down to the spring that looked as if some one
had been using it," added Walter.

"Prob'ly some lumberman been in thar fer a drink," said the guide with
an assumption of carelessness, and then lapsed into such a state of
abstraction that the boys gave up trying to interest him further. He
came out of it as they approached the camp.

"Don't say nothin' 'bout this; jes' leave it t' me," he advised. "I'll
explain it t' th' doctor. 'Tain't like th' boys o' th' lumber camps t'
do no sech trick as this, and I'd hate t' hev any feelin' stirred up.
You boys jes' keep mum."

The boys were quite willing to do so, and bidding them a hasty
farewell Jim strode off toward headquarters.

"Queer thing, the whole business," mused Walter as they watched the
guide disappear in the office. "I wonder what Jim's got on his mind."

And he would have wondered still more if he could have heard the guide
exclaim, as he banged his big fist down on the desk at the end of a
fifteen minutes' talk with the doctor:

"It's him as sure as shootin'! We'll git him this time, or my name
ain't Jim Everly!"



CHAPTER XVIII

ON GUARD


On the bald top of Old Scraggy stood a slender figure in khaki. The
broad-brimmed regulation Scout hat was tilted back, revealing a
sun-browned face which was good to see. The eyes were clear and
steady. The mouth might have been called weak but for a certain set of
the jaw and a slight compression of the thin lips which denoted a
latent force of will which would one day develop into power. It was,
withal, a pleasant face, a face in which character was written, a face
which denoted purpose and determination.

The boy raised a pair of field-glasses to his eyes and swept the
wonderful panorama of forest and lake that unfolded below him on every
side. Like mighty billows of living green the mountains rolled away to
fade into the smoke haze that stretched along the horizon. The smell
of smoke was in the air. Over beyond Mt. Seward hung a huge cloud of
dirty white against which rose great volumes of black, shading down to
dingy sickening yellowish tinge at the horizon. Through his glasses
the boy could see this shot through here and there with angry red.
There was something indescribably sinister and menacing in it, even to
his inexperienced eyes. It was like a huge beast snarling and showing
its teeth as it devoured its prey. On the back side of the Camel's
Hump another fire was raging. But neither of these seriously
threatened Woodcraft Camp, for a barrier of lakes lay between.

"I'm glad they're no nearer," muttered the watcher half aloud. He
swung his glasses around to the camp five miles away by the trail,
though not more than three and a half in an air line, and his face
softened as he studied the familiar scene. There was a song in his
heart and the burden of it was, "They have got some use for me! They
have got some use for me! They have got some use for me!" It was Hal
Harrison.

There had been a wonderful change in the boy in the few weeks since
his meeting with Walter Upton at Speckled Brook. It had been a hard
fight, a bitter fight; sometimes, it seemed to him, a losing fight.
But he had triumphed in the end. He had "made good" with his fellow
Scouts. He had friends, a lot of them. With only one or two was he
what might be called intimate, but on every side were friendly
greetings. From being an outcast he had become a factor in the camp
life. He was counted in as a matter of course in all the fun and
frolic. He had done nothing "big" to win this regard. It was simply
the result of meeting his fellows on their own ground and doing his
share in the trivial things that go to make up daily life.

He was thinking of this now and his changed attitude toward life,
toward his fellow men. In a dim way he realized that a revolution had
been worked within himself, and that his present status in the little
democracy down there on the edge of the lake was due, not so much to a
change in the general feeling of his comrades toward him, but in his
own feeling toward them. His present position had always been his, but
he had refused to take it.

  [Illustration: THE BOYS WERE DRILLED IN WIG-WAG SIGNALING]

Somehow money, which had been his sole standard whereby to judge
his fellows, had dropped from his thought utterly as he strove to
measure up his comrades. It had even become hateful to him as he
gradually realized how less than nothing it is in the final summing up
of true worth, of character and manhood. And with this knowledge all
his old arrogance had fallen from him like a false garment, and in its
place had developed a humility that cleared his vision and enabled him
to see things in their true relations.

"My, what a cad I was when I hit Woodcraft, and how little I realized
what the Scout's oath means!" he murmured. "The fellows have been
awfully white to me. If--if I could only do something to show 'em that
I appreciate it, could only really and truly 'make good' somehow.
Seems to me this smoke is getting thicker."

He turned once more toward Seward. The wind was freshening and the
smoke driven before it was settling in a great pall that spread and
gradually blotted out mountain after mountain. The blue haze thickened
in the valleys. When he turned again toward Woodcraft it had become a
blur. The sun, which had poured a flood of brilliant light from a
cloudless sky, had become overcast and now burned an angry red ball
through a murky atmosphere. His throat smarted from the acrid smoke.
There was a strange silence, as if the great wilderness held its
breath in hushed awe in the face of some dread catastrophe.

Hal was on guard. It was Dr. Merriam's policy to always maintain a
watch on the top of Old Scraggy during dry weather that any fire which
should start in the neighborhood might be detected in its incipient
stages and a warning be flashed to camp. The boys were drilled in
wig-wag signaling, and in the use of the heliograph, the former for
use on a dull day and the latter on a bright day, the top of Old
Scraggy being clearly visible from camp, so that with glasses the
wig-wag signals could be read easily. At daybreak a watch was sent to
the mountain station, while another went on duty at the camp to
receive the signals. At noon both guards were relieved. Only the
steadiest and most reliable boys were detailed for this duty. This was
Hal's first assignment and, while he felt the responsibility, he had
hit the Scraggy trail with a light heart, for he realized the
compliment to his scoutcraft. And was not this evidence that he was
making good?

The smoke thickened. The smart in his eyes and throat increased.
Uneasily he paced the little platform that had been built on the
highest point. Suddenly it seemed as if his heart stopped beating for
just a second. Why did the smoke seem so much thicker down there to
the east at the very foot of Scraggy itself? With trembling fingers he
focussed the glasses. The smoke was rising at that point, not settling
down! Yes, he could not be mistaken, there was a flicker of red! There
was a fire on the eastern slope!

Hastily he sprang for the mirror with which to signal his discovery,
but even as his hand touched it he realized the futility of his
purpose. The sun was hopelessly obscured by the smoke. The flags! He
grasped them and turned toward the camp. Where was the camp? Vainly he
sought to locate it. The smoke had drawn a curtain over it through
which even his powerful glasses would not pierce. For a minute panic
gripped him. Then into the chaos of his mind broke the calm quiet
voice of Dr. Merriam in one of his weekly talks at the camp-fire: "The
man or boy to face an emergency is the one who keeps cool--who stops
to think."

Deliberately Hal forced himself to sit down on the edge of the
platform and review the situation. It was five miles to camp. By the
time he could get there and a party be organized and return the fire
would have gained such headway that there would be no checking it. To
the west, nearer by at least a mile and a half, lay the Durant camp.
But there was no broken trail there, nothing but a blazed trail which
he had never even seen and which at best would be slow following. But
hold on! The loggers were at work this side of the camp, not over two
miles distant in a straight line! Perhaps they would discover the
fire. A moment's reflection, however, convinced him that this was
unlikely, at least until it was too late. A shoulder of the mountain
intervened. Was he Scout enough to hold his course for two miles
through that tangle of wilderness?

It seemed the only thing to do if he was to get a warning through in
time. There was no time to lose! His lips tightened and he got up
abruptly and began to tighten his belt. He would try it. He would do
it! Turning for another look at the fire his glance was arrested by a
box half hidden beneath a corner of the platform. In a flash he was on
his knees, half sobbing with relief as he dragged it forth. Why hadn't
he remembered Jack Appleby's wireless outfit before?

Jack had been on Old Scraggy the day before experimenting with
wireless messages to camp, and had left his apparatus on the mountain,
intending to return this afternoon to continue his experiments. How
Hal blessed the good fortune that had led him to take an interest in
wireless and join the little group of boys who were continually
experimenting with it in camp! There were several outfits there, and
one or another was in use most of the time. He prayed with all his
soul that such might be the case now, as, with hasty fingers, he
adjusted the apparatus and sat down to the key. One after the other he
sounded the private calls of all the stations in camp, between each
call listening for a reply. Would they never hear? Click, click,
click, click, over and over and over again he repeated the calls,
while the cold sweat stood out on his forehead. Would they never hear?
Would they never hear? Should he give it up and make the plunge for
the Durant cutting? No, this was his best chance.

Click, click, click! What was the matter with them down there? Ha! Was
that Joe Brown's answering signal? With feverish haste he pounded out
in the Morse code, "Is this you, Brown?" The reply came promptly:
"Yes. Who are you?" With a sigh of relief Hal bent over the key and
forced himself to send his message slowly, that there might be no
confusion in receiving it: "This is Harrison, watch on Scraggy. Fire
just started on eastern slope. Warn Doctor."

"Warn Doctor of fire. All right," spelled the receiver at his ear.

Hal shouted aloud in his relief. Hastily repacking the apparatus he
turned to look down at the threatened danger. Already the fire had
gained great headway. Would the doctor be able to bring help in time?
A heavy stand of magnificent timber lay directly in the path of the
flames. It was one of the choicest holdings of the Durant company.

The boy looked down at the Durant cutting on the other side. If he
could at once warn the men at work there they might reach the fire in
time. He would try. Carefully noting the direction with his pocket
compass he headed straight for the cutting.

That trip down the mountain is a nightmare to Hal to this day.
Slipping, sliding down the steep upper slope, bruised by falls on
rocky ledges, crawling under and over fallen timber, struggling
through seemingly impassable windfalls, his shirt torn, his hat lost,
his face and hands bleeding from numerous scratches he struggled on,
running whenever the way was sufficiently open, stumbling, falling but
doggedly holding to the course set by the little compass in his hand.

It seemed an eternity before the sound of voices mingled with ringing
blows of axes and the crashing of trees told him that he was almost
there. A few minutes later he staggered out among the astonished
loggers. His message was soon told, and almost before he had regained
his wind the fire gangs were organized and with axes and shovels, the
latter kept at hand for just such emergencies, were on their way to
the scene of trouble.

Hal begged to go along, but the boss refused to let him. "You've done
your part, my boy," he said kindly. "You can be of no help there and
might be in danger. Rest here a bit and then you trot along down to
camp and tell Cookie to fix you up and give you something to eat. Son,
you may not know it, but you're all in."

Hal did know it. Now that the excitement was over he began to realize
for the first time how utterly weary he was. He was weak and
trembling. He felt the smart of his bruises and the ache of strained
muscles. The boss was right. His place was in the rear, not on the
firing line.

A long rest at the Durant camp and the friendly ministrations of
Cookie made him feel more like himself. Late in the afternoon he
hobbled into Woodcraft. The camp was nearly deserted, for all of the
older boys were on the fire line. Walter was the first to see him, and
hastened to congratulate him, for the whole camp knew by this time who
had sent the warning. Then others crowded around to shake hands and
insist on hearing his story from his own lips. This Hal told,
omitting, however, to mention his terrific cross country struggle,
explaining his bruises as the result of a tumble over a ledge.

As soon as Walter got a chance he drew Hal to one side. "Say," he
began eagerly, "the game warden and a deputy started for the haunted
cabin early this morning."

"What for? To get the 'hant'?" asked Hal.

"Exactly!" replied Walter. "And the 'hant' is Red Pete! Big Jim
figured it all out when he picked us up on the lake the other
afternoon. You know they couldn't find Pete up at Lonesome Pond. He
probably got wise that Jim would be on his trail after that shootin'
while we were in camp there, and promptly vamoosed. When we told Jim
about the cabin's being locked and the path to the spring he tumbled
in a minute. That was the safest place in the woods for Pete, and he
was probably right in the cabin when we tried the doors. Jim went up
there the next day and did a little scouting. He found a blind trail
down to the lake a lot shorter than the trail we took. Pete was
probably afraid that we'd tell about the locked cabin and some one
would get wise, so as soon as we were out of sight he made a quick
sneak down to the lake ahead of us and slashed the canoe in the hope
that we'd sink and get drowned. Jim sent word to the warden, and now I
guess there'll be something doing at the haunted cabin!"

"How did you find out all this?" asked Hal.

"Jim told me this morning. He was going in with the warden, but when
your message came he had to go fight fire. He told me just before he
started."

"Gee!" exclaimed Hal. "Some excitement to-day! Do the other fellows
know?"

"No. Jim said I could tell you, but that we're to keep it to
ourselves."

Just after sundown the fire fighters returned, weary but triumphant.
The fire had been gotten under control before serious damage had been
done, but this would have been impossible but for the timely arrival
of the Durant gang, who were trained fire fighters, and who had
reached the scene first. The boss had told the doctor of how he
received the warning.

The latter's first action on reaching camp was to issue orders for the
preparation of a huge camp-fire to be started after evening mess. When
this was lighted and the whole camp gathered round Dr. Merriam stepped
into the circle for what the boys supposed was one of his usual
camp-fire talks. He began by a brief review of Scout principles and
the need of coolness and clear thinking in the face of sudden
emergency, and then briefly and forcefully he sketched Hal's exploit
of the day, ending by expressing his personal indebtedness to the boy
who had, by using his head and supplementing this by a courageous act,
saved property of great value. "It would not be inappropriate if there
should be some expression of the camp's feeling at this time,"
concluded the doctor with a twinkle in his eyes.

In a flash Woodhull was on his feet. "The Woodcraft yell for the
Seneca who has made good!" he shouted, and beating time with both arms
he led the long rolling "Whoop-yi-yi-yi! Whoop-yi-yi-yi!
Whoop-yi-yi-yi! Harrison!"

Then despite his efforts to escape Hal was pushed to the center beside
the big chief while the four tribes circled the fire in the mad dance
of triumph.

But the thing that was sweetest of all to the tired boy was the
discovery that the Senecas had been credited fifty points for his
feat. At last he had done something to wipe out the old score. His cup
was full.



CHAPTER XIX

FOR THE HONOR OF THE TRIBE


All of Woodcraft who could get afloat were on the water, and those not
so fortunate were ranged on points of vantage along the pier and on
the shore. Dr. and Mother Merriam, with some of the guests of the
camp, parents of the boys in for the annual field day, occupied the
end of the pier, which commanded the whole course and was directly on
the finish line. Among the most interested of the onlookers were Mr.
Harrison and Mr. Upton, who had arrived that morning, taking their
sons by surprise.

The shore events had been run off in the forenoon, with honors well
distributed. The Algonquins, under Chief Seaforth, had won the rifle
match. Chief Woodhull had scored heavily for the Delawares by winning
the trail finding contest, the stalking event and the mile
cross-country "hike" without compass or trail. The relay race, high
and broad jumps had gone to the Hurons, while the Senecas had taken
the hundred yard and two hundred and twenty yard dashes. The points
for the best individual work during the summer in the various branches
of nature study had been awarded, and the total score in the contest
between the two wigwams for the deer's head offered for the highest
total was Wigwam No. 1--1,460 points; Wigwam No. 2--1,450 points.

For tribal honors the Delawares had a safe margin, but the
championship banner would go to the winning tribe in the successful
wigwam. Excitement was at fever pitch, for on the outcome of the
afternoon events hung the honors of the whole season. It was generally
conceded that the Hurons would take the swimming events handily,
unless the Delawares developed a dark horse. The Senecas were strong
in the canoe work, and they vowed that if the Hurons tied the score
with the swimming events they would win the canoe events.

The swimming races were called first. Before the first event Chief
Woodhull called the Delawares together. "I haven't much to say," he
said as he looked into the eager faces of his tribe, "only this: I
expect every Delaware to do his best, not for his personal glory, but
for the honor of his tribe and the honor of his wigwam. It is a great
thing to win for yourself, but it is a greater thing to win for your
fellows. When you reach the point where it seems as if you hadn't
another ounce left just remember that the loss is not yours alone, but
of the tribe who are pinning their faith to you. Another thing; fight
for second and third places just as hard as for first. It's the small
points that are going to win that banner, and it's up to you
individually to get every point you can. And," he added with a smile,
"don't forget to cheer the other fellows when they win. If we must
lose let's be good losers, but--_don't lose!_ That's all."

The conditions were perfect for the afternoon's sport. The lake lay
like a huge mirror, not a ripple breaking its glassy surface.
Clustered about the finish line were the camp canoes and boats and
several launches filled with guests from the hotels at the other end
of the lake. Several batteaux filled with lumber-jacks from the Durant
camp lined the course.

"Gee, ain't it great?" said Tug Benson as he and Walter paddled out
to the raft from which the swimming races were to start.

"You bet!" replied Walter enthusiastically. "How you feeling?"

"Fine and dandy!" responded Tug. "I'm goin' to take that hundred yards
if I never swim another stroke!"

"Wish I felt as sure of a place in my event," said Walter.

"Look a-here, you're goin' to get more than place--you're goin' to win
that event! You've got to! What do you s'pose I've been coachin' you
for all summer?" said Tug savagely as he glared at his companion.

They were to the raft by this time and as they hopped out and made
their canoe fast they heard the starter announcing the first event,
which was the hundred yard race. In all events for the afternoon first
would count ten points, second five points and third three points.

There were eight entries for this event, three Hurons, two Delawares,
two Senecas and one Algonquin.

"Are you ready?" Bang! There was one splash as the eight boys took
the water. At the very first Tug took the lead. The distance was too
short to take any chances. He was using the crawl stroke, and his
powerful muscles drove him through the water like a fish. But he had
need of every bit of strength and skill he possessed. Two of the
Hurons were pressing him close, and ten yards from the finish one of
them forged up until the two boys were neck and neck. Tug glanced
ahead to locate the finish line, and gulped his lungs full of air.
Then, burying his face, he tore through the water like some strange
amphibian, putting every last ounce of reserve strength into a supreme
effort.

Bang! It was the finish gun, and the wild whoop of the Delawares told
him he had won, but he had hardly filled his strained lungs when the
second and third guns told him by how narrow a margin he had snatched
the victory.

"Two points to the good, anyway," he said grimly as Woodhull helped
him into a boat.

This made the wigwam score 1,470 to 1,458 and the Delawares and
Algonquins whooped deliriously. But their triumph was short lived.
The two hundred and twenty yard event gave the Hurons first and second
and the Senecas third. It was now the turn of the Hurons and Senecas
to break loose, and they made the most of it, for this gave Wigwam No.
2 a lead of six points.

"It's up to you now," growled Tug in Walter's ear as they stood side
by side awaiting the starting gun in the quarter mile event. "I
haven't a look-in, for that hundred killed me. But I'm goin' to set
the pace for the first half, and you stick right to me. Don't you pay
any attention to the rest of 'em, but stick right to me. When I give
the word you dig out, and win. Remember, this is no sprintin' match!"

The starting gun banged. When Walter had shaken the water from his
eyes and looked around he found Tug at his side, swimming easily with
a powerful overhand stroke. Off to the right two of the Hurons were
using the crawl and were rapidly forging ahead. Already they had a
lead that gave Walter a panicky feeling. Tug looked at him and
grinned. "Water's fine," he grunted, for all the world as if this was
nothing more than a pleasure swim. "Get your back into that stroke."

Tug was still swimming easily, but he was putting more power into his
strokes. Walter followed his example and kept neck and neck with him.
They were now the last of the field. The sprint of the two Hurons had
given them a good lead, and this had had its effect on the other
swimmers, all of whom were putting forth every effort to overhaul the
leaders. Walter found that it took every bit of will power he
possessed not to do the same. The pace was beginning to tell on those
in front, but Tug never varied his strong easy stroke and presently
Walter noticed that they were slowly but surely closing up the gap
between them and the nearest competitors.

They had now covered a third of the course and the leaders were still
a long way ahead. Would Tug never hit it up? What was he waiting so
long for? Perhaps he was, as he had said, "all in," and couldn't go
any faster. Ought he to stay back as Tug had told him to? If he should
lose out for place the blame would be laid to him, not to Tug. Ha! Tug
had quickened the stroke a bit! It was not much, but there was a
perceptible gain with each swing of the arms and kick of the legs.

The half-way mark, and still Tug did not give the word. What was the
matter with him? He glanced at him anxiously, but the grin on that
astute young gentleman's face revealed nothing, certainly not anxiety.
Two or three of the swimmers had begun to splash badly, notably the
two Hurons in the lead. Walter had his second wind, and he found that
he was holding Tug with less effort than at first. He could hear the
shrill yells of the Hurons and Senecas at the finish line as they
urged on their braves, and there was an unmistakable note of triumph
in every yell. It gave him a sinking feeling in the pit of his
stomach.

"Now go!" screamed a voice almost in his ear. Dimly he realized that
Tug had given him the word. Quickening his stroke he put in every
ounce of reserve strength, and at once the result began to show. One
after another he overtook and passed the other swimmers until there
was only one between him and the finish line. The two Hurons who had
led so long were splashing in manifest distress. They were behind him
now, their bolt shot, but still struggling gamely. But the swimmer
ahead was a Huron who had come up strongly in the last quarter.

The pace was beginning to tell. Every muscle in his body ached, and
his straining lungs seemed to gasp in no air at all. He was neck and
neck with the leader now, but his tortured muscles seemed on the point
of refusing to act altogether. If he could only rest them just a
second! Ha, what was that? "Whoop! Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo! Whoop!
Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo! Whoop! Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo! Upton!"

It was the long rolling yell of the Delawares. It seemed to put new
life into him. They were calling on him now for the honor of the
tribe! He was almost there. Could he make it? He would make it! He
gulped his lungs full of air, buried his face in the water and swung
into the crawl, and then it seemed to him that his movements were
wholly automatic. "For the honor of the tribe. For the honor of the
tribe. For the honor of the tribe." Over and over his brain hammered
that one phrase.

The bang of the finish gun crashed into it, but for a minute he did
not sense what it meant. "For the honor of the tribe," he murmured,
weakly paddling the water with his hands.

"And the honor of the boy!" cried a hearty voice, as strong hands
caught the slack of his jersey and pulled him into a boat.

He looked up in a daze into the face of Woodhull. "Did I win?" he
gasped.

"You sure did!" was the prompt response.

"No, I didn't; Tug did it," muttered Walter to himself as he saw his
coach wearily finish at the tail end.

Second place had gone to the Hurons and third to the Algonquins. The
score now stood Wigwam No. 1--1,483; Wigwam No. 2--1,481, and the
excitement of the visitors was hardly less than that of the tribes as
they waited for the canoe events.

The fours were called first. There were four entries, one crew from
each tribe, four brawny boys in each canoe, captained by the four
chiefs. The distance was half a mile with a turn, start and finish
being opposite the pier. A pretty sight they made as they lined up
for the start, each boy on one knee, leaning well over the side of the
canoe, blade poised just over the water at his utmost reach.

Almost with the flash of the gun the sixteen blades hit the water and,
amid a wild tumult of yells, the canoes shot away like greyhounds from
a leash.

"Did you get on to that start of the Hurons--one long stroke, then
five short ones and then the regular long stroke!" yelled Billy Buxby,
whose sharp eyes seldom missed anything new.

As a matter of fact this little trick had given the Hurons the best of
the start, the quick short strokes getting their boat under full
headway before the others. But their advantage was short-lived, and it
could be seen that as the turning buoys were approached they were
last.

"Wonder if they'll spring something new on the turn," muttered Billy,
leaning forward until he threatened to upset his canoe. "Ah, I thought
so!"

The Delawares had reached the turn first with the Senecas a close
second and the Algonquins third, but the leaders had not fairly
straightened out for home when the Hurons turned their buoy as if on a
pivot and actually had the lead.

In silence the spectators watched the flashing blades draw up the
course. It was anybody's race, a "heart-breaker," as Spud Ely
expressed it. Like clockwork the blades rose and fell. The Algonquins
were using a long body swing. The Senecas swung their shoulders only,
and their stroke was shorter and faster. The Hurons had dropped a
little behind, but between the three leaders there was little to
choose.

"It's quite primeval, isn't it?" said Mr. Upton as he returned the
binoculars which Mr. Harrison had loaned him.

"That just expresses it," replied the latter as pandemonium broke
loose in shrill yells from the four tribes urging on their crews. "The
forest setting, the Indian craft--it's all like a picture out of early
history."

The voices of the captains could now be heard calling for the final
spurt. The stroke in all four boats became terrific as, with heads
bent, hanging far over the sides, the paddlers drove their blades
through the water, recovered and drove them again, almost faster than
the eye could follow. Ten yards from the finish the Senecas, paddling
in perfect form, seemed fairly to lift their boat from the water. It
was magnificent, and as they shot over the line, winners by a scant
quarter length, all four tribes joined in giving them the Woodcraft
yell.

The Algonquins were second, beating the Delawares by a scant half
length. The score was tied.

The single event was next, and in this both Walter and Hal Harrison
were entered. It was an eighth of a mile straight away. This event was
confined to the younger boys, and Walter felt that he had an even
chance for place, though Tobey of the Hurons was generally picked to
win. Harrison was a dark horse. No one knew much about his paddling
save his chief, who had coached him in private, and was very chary of
his opinion to anxious inquirers.

"I'm going to beat you, Walt," said Hal, as they paddled down to the
starting line.

"Not if I can help it," replied Walter with a good-natured laugh,
"but if I'm going to be beaten there is no one I should rather have
win than you, Hal. But the Delawares need those points, and I'm going
to get 'em if I can."

It was Hal's first race, his novice event, and he was plainly nervous
at the start, so that he got away poorly. But he soon recovered and
settled down to his work in a way that brought a smile of satisfaction
to the lips of Chief Avery watching from the finish line.

Hal had not told his father that he was entered for any of the events.
Mr. Harrison had been talking with Dr. Merriam when the race was
called, and had paid no attention to the boys going down to the start.
It was not until the race was half over that he focussed his glasses
on the canoes.

"Bless me, that looks like my boy out there!" he exclaimed, wiping his
glasses to be sure that he saw clearly. Then to the delight of the
spectators the man of millions showed that he was wholly human after
all. He whooped and shouted like an overgrown boy. "Come on, Hal! Come
on, boy!" he bellowed at the top of his lungs. "He's winning! He's
winning! Come on, Hal! Hit her up! Hit her up!" And all the time he
was pounding the man in front of him, quite oblivious of the fact that
it was Dr. Merriam himself.

Hal was hitting it up. After the first few minutes of dumb surprise
the Senecas had rallied to the support of their new champion, and as
the boy heard his name over and over again at the end of the Seneca
yell he ground his teeth and redoubled his efforts. Little by little
he forged ahead.

Walter was putting up a game struggle, but he found that his grueling
swim earlier in the afternoon was telling now, and in spite of all he
could do open water was showing between his canoe and Hal's. "I'll get
second, anyway," he muttered, and then as before the old slogan, "For
the honor of the tribe. For the honor of the tribe," began hammering
in his brain.

It was Hal's race, with Walter second, Buxby third, and Tobey, the
expected winner, a poor fourth. Wigwam No. 2 was two points to the
good.

The suspense had become almost unbearable as the last event for the
afternoon was called. This was a "pack and carry" race, a novelty to
most of the spectators, and in some respects the most interesting of
all. Four canoes were placed side by side on the ground in front of
headquarters. Beside each was spread a shelter tent, blankets and
cooking outfit. The four chiefs took their places, each beside one of
the outfits. At the signal gun each began to pack his outfit. As soon
as he had finished he picked up his canoe, inverted it over his head
and carried it to the lake. Returning for his pack he placed it in his
canoe, paddled out around a buoy, back to shore, and carried canoe and
pack to the starting point.

Woodhull won handily, but big Bob Seaforth, who got a good start and
was counted on for second at least, broke a paddle and was put
hopelessly out of it. This gave the Senecas and Hurons second and
third respectively. The score was once more tied.

It was incredible! Never in the history of the camp had there been
anything like it. The field sports over and the championship
undecided! And now it hung on the outcome of a little woodcraft test
that hitherto had been simply a pleasant part of the ceremony of
lighting the last camp-fire--the test of the fire sticks. It was
agreed that the winner should not only have the usual honor of
lighting the fire, but that he should score five points for his tribe
and wigwam, and that second and third should not count.

Evening mess was a hurried affair. There was too much excitement for
eating. Promptly at eight o'clock Dr. Merriam appeared with the other
members of the camp force and a few guests who had remained, and the
tribes gathered in a circle around the huge pile of fire-wood in front
of headquarters. Each chief selected five of his followers to
represent his tribe. These squatted in four groups with their fire
sticks before them on the ground. Behind each group stood an umpire to
announce the first bona fide flame.

The silence was almost painful as Dr. Merriam raised his arm for the
starting shot. There was a momentary stir as the boys hastily reached
for their sticks, and then no sound save an occasional long breath and
the whirr of the fire drills. Twenty seconds, twenty-five, thirty,
thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three--"Buxby's fire!" cried a voice
sharply, and then a mighty yell arose from the Delawares and
Algonquins as Billy leaped forward and thrust his tiny blaze into the
tinder of the dark pile before him. Wigwam No. 1 had won!



CHAPTER XX

THE HOME TRAIL


Walter stood on the pier at Upper Lake looking down the long stretch
of water. A mist gathered before his eyes and blurred his vision. For
the moment he was alone. His father and Mr. Harrison were over by
"Woodcraft Girl," which was made fast farther down the pier, and were
talking earnestly with Louis Woodhull. How beautiful it was, and how
hard to leave. What a glorious summer it had been!

His thoughts ran back to the morning when he had stood in this same
place with Big Jim and felt for the first time the mystery of the
great wilderness. Was it possible that that was only eight weeks
before? What a lot had happened in that short time! What a tenderfoot
he had been! How much he had thought he knew of woodcraft, and how
little it had been compared with what he knew now.

And yet even now he had learned little more than the elementary
lessons. Big Jim had been right; "Woodcraft never yet was larned out
o' books." And still how much he owed to those same books. In the
light of the knowledge obtained from them how much better he had been
able to apply the lessons learned from his practical experiences. Even
the big guide had come to see this, and had grudgingly admitted that
there might be some good in the despised books, after all.

Walter stretched his arms out toward the lake and the mountains. "How
I hate to leave it all," he said, unconsciously speaking aloud.

"Same here," said Hal Harrison, who had come up behind him unobserved.
"And a few weeks ago I would have given anything I possessed to get
away. Now I can't wait for next summer to come, so that I can get back
here. You'll be back, of course?"

"I don't know. I want to. Seems as if I'd simply got to. It's all a
matter of whether Dad can afford to let me," replied Walter frankly.

Just then there was a warning toot from the engine attached to the
single coach which was to take them over to Upper Chain to connect
with the New York express. Woodhull came up to say good-bye. He, with
some of the older boys, would remain in camp for the opening of the
hunting season. "I shall look for you back next year, Upton," he said
extending his left hand for the Scout grip. "The Delawares need him,"
he added, as he shook hands with Mr. Upton.

Then turning to Hal with his winning smile he said, "Hal, if we didn't
have so much regard for Avery the Delawares would certainly annex you
too."

At Upper Chain there was a half hour wait, and the boys started out
for a final look at the sawmill village. Suddenly Walter caught sight
of a familiar figure. "Jim! Oh, you Jim!" he whooped in delight.

At the sound the big guide turned and his face lighted with pleasure
as he strode over to the boys. "I was afraid I was goin' t' miss yer,
son," he drawled. "Jest got back from th' county seat, whar I've been
t' see th' last o' a friend o' yourn, leastwise fer some time, I
reckon."

"Red Pete?" exclaimed both boys together.

The guide grinned. "You've sure hit th' right trail," he said. "Pete's
on his way to whar he won't hev t' lock th' doors t' keep folks from
takin' a look at his shakedown. He'll be in a sort o' permanent camp
'fore sundown--ten years at hard labor. When thet picter o' yourn,
son, was sprung on him he broke down an' owned up t' a lot more
mischief than jest th' killin' o' th' King o' Lonesome. Th' warden got
him thet day o' the fire on Old Scraggy. When th' warden an' deputy
got t' the hanted cabin they found Pete wasn't ter hum. So they made
themselves comfortable an' waited. Long 'bout four o'clock in th'
afternoon Pete walked right into their arms, an' didn't seem none
pleased t' see 'em.

"I hed a suspicion thet Pete knew somethin' 'bout thet fire on
Scraggy, an' when they charged him with it he owned up thet he hed set
it t' git even with Dr. Merriam fer puttin' the warden on his trail. I
reckon, son, thet if Pete had knowed what thet leetle picter box o'
yourn was goin' t' do t' him he'd 'a' smashed it plumb t' pieces th'
mornin' yer met up with him an' me over thar in th' deepo. Well," he
sniffed the sawdust-scented air, "seems t' me th' air in these old
woods will smell some sweeter now thet he ain't a-taintin' it no
more."

When they returned to the railway station they found another familiar
face awaiting them. It was Pat Malone. A broad grin overspread his
freckled face as they approached. Walter was delighted. He had seen
nothing of Pat for the last week, and it was with real regret that he
had left Woodcraft without an opportunity to say good-bye.

Pat came forward and rather sheepishly shook hands with Hal. The
latter blushed, and then manfully he apologized to the Irish lad for
his fault in the fish buying episode of the summer. The other's eyes
twinkled.

"Sure, 'tis more than mesilf has larned how ter shpell honor, Oi be
thinkin'," he said. "Yez can buy no more fish av Pat Malone, but if ye
coom in nixt summer 'tis mesilf will show ye where ter catch thim."

Turning to Walter he thrust into his hands a pair of snow-shoes. "Will
ye take these ter show Noo Yorrk th' latest shtoile in shoes?" he
asked hurriedly. "Oi made thim for ye mesilf so ye will remimber th'
bye in the woods ye licked--but thot ye can't lick now," he added, the
twinkle reappearing in his eyes.

"An' say," he concluded as the heavy express drew in to the station,
"Oi be goin' ter shtart a Scout patrol av th' Upper Chain byes thot'll
make yez hustle fer honors when ye coom back nixt summer."

The farewells were over. Lolling back in the luxury of a Pullman seat
Walter and Hal were rushing down through the mountains, back to the
busy world, a world of brick and stone and steel, of clang and roar,
of dust and dirt and smoke, of never ending struggle, the world to
which they had been accustomed, of which they had been a part all
their lives. Yet now it seemed a very dim and distant world, an unreal
world.

They sat in silence, gazing out at the darkening forest, each buried
in his own thoughts, each vaguely conscious that he was not the same
boy who had taken this same iron trail into the wilderness a few short
weeks before; that there had been a change, a subtle metamorphosis
for which the mere passage of so brief a space of time could not be
accountable. Hal was the first to come out of the revery.

"I guess," he said slowly and thoughtfully, "that I've just begun to
learn what life is. They really live it back there."

In the seat in front of them the fathers of the two boys were in
earnest conversation, and Mr. Harrison was voicing almost the same
thought. "I tell you, Upton, that is real, genuine life up there!
Merriam's idea is right. It's great! That isn't a camp up there--it's
a 'man factory.' Why, look at that boy of mine! I sent him up there to
get him out of the way and keep him out of mischief. Sent him up there
a helpless infant in all but years. Been petted and coddled and
toadied to all his life. My fault, I admit it. And yet less my fault
than the fault of the unnatural and artificial conditions that wealth
produces. On the impulse of a moment I run up there to have a look at
him, and what do I find? A man, sir!

"I tell you I never in my life put through a big financial deal with
one-half the pride that I watched that boy push his canoe over the
line yesterday! And when they told me about that fire exploit of his I
was happier than I'd be if I cornered the market to-day. I'm proud of
him, sir, just as you're proud of your boy! You've got to strip a man
down bare to know whether he can stand on his own feet or not. He's
got to, then, or go under. And Merriam is showing them how to do it.
Now I've been thinking of a plan for next summer for these two
youngsters, and perhaps a couple more from the camp, and the expense,
you understand, is to be wholly mine."

He leaned forward and for half an hour the two men were absorbed in
earnest discussion. Finally Mr. Upton turned to the seat behind.

"Walter," said he, "how should you like to spend next summer at
Woodcraft?"

"Like it!" cried Walter. "There's nothing in all the world I'd like so
much!"

Mr. Upton smiled. "Unless," said he, "you like equally well the plan
that Mr. Harrison has just proposed, which is a canoe cruise."

"A canoe cruise!"

"Yes, for you and Hal, and one of the older Woodcraft boys, and one
other, if you can get them to go with you. How should you like that
for the last two or three weeks of your vacation?"

"Hurrah!" shouted Hal, throwing himself at his father, and giving him
a bear hug. "That's the bulliest plan you ever made! We'll get Louis
Woodhull to go with us, won't we, Walt?"

"The very one I had in mind," said Mr. Harrison.

The train rushed on through the gathering night. It roared over
bridges and rumbled through tunnels. It shrieked at lone crossings and
slowed to a jolting halt at busy stations. But unheeding, oblivious to
it all two happy boys sat in the Pullman section and excitedly
discussed who should be invited and where they should go when the next
summer should bring to them the promised opportunity to launch their
canoes on strange waters.


The Stories in this Series are:

    THE BOY SCOUTS OF WOODCRAFT CAMP
    THE BOY SCOUTS ON SWIFT RIVER
    THE BOY SCOUTS ON LOST TRAIL
    THE BOY SCOUTS IN A TRAPPER'S CAMP



THORNTON W. BURGESS


THORNTON W. BURGESS was born in Sandwich, Massachusetts, January 14,
1874. He graduated from the Sandwich High School in 1891, afterward
taking a course in Comer's Commercial College, Boston. After a few
years in business life he entered the editorial field as one of the
editors of the Phelps Publishing and Orange Judd Companies and was for
several years one of the editors of Good Housekeeping Magazine, for
which he wrote extensively.

  [Illustration]

For some years he has been a contributor to many of the leading
magazines. Over the name of W. B. Thornton he won recognition as a
writer on out-door life and nature topics. He is an ardent lover of
nature and since boyhood has spent his spare time in the woods and
fields. His vacations have been spent with rod, gun and camera,
camping and canoe cruising.

Among his books are:

    The Boy Scouts of Woodcraft Camp
    The Boy Scouts on Swift River
    The Boy Scouts on Lost Trail
    The Boy Scouts in a Trapper's Camp



Transcriber's Note

Minor punctuation errors have been repaired.

Hyphenation has been made consistent.

Page 39 has a reference to Mt. Sewell. Based on the rest of the book,
this should probably read Mt. Seward, but it is preserved as printed.

The following amendments have been made:

    Page 150--wonered amended to wondered--He wondered if it could
    be possible ...

    Caption to the illustration facing page 306--'WIGWAG SIGNALLING'
    amended to 'WIG-WAG SIGNALING' for consistency with the rest of
    the book.

The frontispiece illustration has been moved to follow the title page.
Other illustrations have been moved where necessary so that they are
not in the middle of a paragraph.





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