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Title: Snagged and Sunk - Adventures of a Canvas Canoe
Author: Castlemon, Harry
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.

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                          Transcriber’s Note:

This version of the text cannot represent certain typographical effects.
Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_.

Minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Please
see the transcriber’s note at the end of this text for details regarding
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[Illustration: RALPH FINDS THE STOLEN GUNS.]

                      _FOREST AND STREAM SERIES._

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                           SNAGGED AND SUNK;
                     ADVENTURES OF A CANVAS CANOE.



                                   BY
                            HARRY CASTLEMON,

              AUTHOR OF “GUNBOAT SERIES,” “ROCKY MOUNTAIN
                 SERIES,” “SPORTSMAN CLUB SERIES,” ETC.



                              PHILADELPHIA
                         HENRY T. COATES & CO.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        FAMOUS CASTLEMON BOOKS.

                         ---------------------

=GUNBOAT SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 6 vols. 12mo.

 FRANK THE YOUNG NATURALIST.         FRANK ON A GUNBOAT.
 FRANK IN THE WOODS.                 FRANK BEFORE VICKSBURG.
 FRANK ON THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI.     FRANK ON THE PRAIRIE.


=ROCKY MOUNTAIN SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

 FRANK AMONG THE RANCHEROS.          FRANK AT DON CARLOS’ RANCH.
 FRANK IN THE MOUNTAINS.


=SPORTSMAN’S CLUB SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

 THE SPORTSMAN’S CLUB IN THE SADDLE. THE SPORTSMAN’S CLUB AMONG THE
                                     TRAPPERS.

 THE SPORTSMAN’S CLUB AFLOAT.


=FRANK NELSON SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

 SNOWED UP.             THE BOY TRADERS.       FRANK IN THE FORECASTLE.


=BOY TRAPPER SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

  THE BURIED TREASURE.   THE BOY TRAPPER.       THE MAIL-CARRIER.


=ROUGHING IT SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

 GEORGE IN CAMP.        GEORGE AT THE WHEEL.   GEORGE AT THE FORT.


=ROD AND GUN SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

 DON GORDON’S SHOOTING BOX.          ROD AND GUN CLUB.
 THE YOUNG WILD FOWLERS.


=GO-AHEAD SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. l2mo. Cloth.

  TOM NEWCOMBE.          GO-AHEAD.              NO MOSS.


=FOREST AND STREAM SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 3 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

 JOE WAYRING.           SNAGGED AND SUNK.      STEEL HORSE.


=WAR SERIES.= By HARRY CASTLEMON. 5 vols. 12mo. Cloth.

 TRUE TO HIS COLORS.                 RODNEY THE PARTISAN.
 RODNEY THE OVERSEER.                MARCY THE BLOCKADE-RUNNER.
 MARCY THE REFUGEE.


                     _Other Volumes in Preparation._

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                   COPYRIGHT, 1888, BY PORTER & COATES.

                               CONTENTS.

  CHAPTER                                                          PAGE
       I. IN WHICH I BEGIN MY STORY,                                  5
      II. CAPTURED AGAIN,                                            28
     III. IN THE WATCHMAN’S CABIN,                                   52
      IV. A NIGHT ADVENTURE,                                         74
       V. JAKE COYLE’S SILVER MINE,                                  98
      VI. JAKE WORKS HIS MINE,                                      120
     VII. AMONG FRIENDS AGAIN,                                      142
    VIII. JOE WAYRING IN TROUBLE,                                   166
      IX. TOM VISITS THE HATCHERY,                                  192
       X. MORE TROUBLE FOR TOM BIGDEN,                              217
      XI. SAM ON THE TRAIL,                                         242
     XII. ABOUT VARIOUS THINGS,                                     265
    XIII. JOE WAYRING’S PLUCK,                                      289
     XIV. THE GUIDE “SURROUNDS” MATT’S CAMP,                        314
      XV. ON THE RIGHT TRACK AT LAST,                               338
     XVI. AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER,                               363
    XVII. THE EXPERT COLUMBIA,                                      381
   XVIII. CONCLUSION,                                               398

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                            SNAGGED AND SUNK;
                                   OR,
                    THE ADVENTURES OF A CANVAS CANOE.



                               CHAPTER I.
                       IN WHICH I BEGIN MY STORY.

           “Beneath a hemlock grim and dark,
             Where shrub and vine are intertwining,
           Our shanty stands, well roofed with bark,
             On which the cheerful blaze is shining.
           The smoke ascends in spiral wreath;
             With upward curve the sparks are trending;
           The coffee kettle sings beneath
             Where sparks and smoke with leaves are blending.”


  Joe Wayring’s voice rang out loud and clear, and the words of his song
  were repeated by the echoes from a dozen different points among the
  hills by which the camp was surrounded on every side. Joe was putting
  the finishing touches to the roof of a bark shanty; Roy Sheldon, with
  the aid of a double-bladed camp ax, was cutting a supply of hard wood
  to cook the trout he had just cleaned; and Arthur Hastings was sitting
  close by picking browse for the beds. The scene of their camp was a
  spring-hole, located deep in the forest twelve miles from Indian Lake.
  Although it was a noted place for trout, it was seldom visited by the
  guests of the hotels for the simple reason that they did not know that
  there was such a spring-hole in existence, and the guides were much
  too sharp to tell them of it.

  Hotel guides, as a class, are not fond of work, and neither will they
  take a guest very far beyond the sound of their employer’s dinner
  horn. The landlords hire them by the month and the guides get just so
  much money, no matter whether their services are called into
  requisition or not. If business is dull and the guests few in number,
  the guides loaf around the hotel in idleness, and of course the less
  they do the less they are inclined to do. If they are sent out with a
  guest, they take him over grounds that have been hunted and fished
  until there is neither fur, fin, nor feather left, cling closely to
  the water-ways, avoiding even the shortest “carries,” their sole
  object being to earn their wages with the least possible exertion.
  They don’t care whether the guest catches any fish or not. But our
  three friends, Joe Wayring, Roy Sheldon, and Arthur Hastings, were not
  dependent upon the hotel guides for sport during their summer outings.
  Being perfectly familiar with the country for miles around Indian
  Lake, they went wherever their fancy led them, and with no fear of
  getting lost.

                 “And on the stream a light canoe
                   Floats like a freshly fallen feather—
                 A fairy thing that will not do
                   For broader seas and stormy weather.
                 Her sides no thicker than the shell
                   Of Ole Bull’s Cremona fiddle;
                 The man who rides her will do well
                   To part his scalp-lock in the middle,”

  sang Joe, backing off and looking approvingly at his work. “There,
  fellows, that roof is tight, and now it can rain as soon as it
  pleases. With two acres of trout right in front of the door, and a
  camp located so far from the lake that we are not likely to be
  disturbed by any interlopers—what more could three boys who want to be
  lazy ask for?”

  “There’s one thing I would like to ask for,” replied Roy, “and that is
  the assurance that Tom Bigden and his cousins will go back to Mount
  Airy without trying to come any tricks on us. I wonder what brought
  them up here any way?”

  “Why, they came after their rods, of course,” answered Arthur. “You
  know I sent them a despatch stating that their rods were in Mr.
  Hanson’s possession, and that they could get them by refunding the
  money that Hanson had paid Jake Coyle for them.”

  “But they have been loafing around the lake for a whole week, doing
  nothing but holding stolen interviews with Matt Coyle and his boys,”
  said Roy. “I tell you I don’t like the way those worthies put their
  heads together. I believe they are in ca-hoots. If they are not, how
  does it come that Tom and his cousins can see Matt as often as they
  want to, while the guides and landlords, who are so very anxious to
  have him arrested, can not find him or obtain any satisfactory news of
  him?”

  “That’s the very reason they can’t find him—because they want to have
  him arrested, and Matt knows it,” observed Joe. “But why Tom doesn’t
  reveal Matt’s hiding-place to the constable is more than I can
  understand. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps Matt has some sort
  of a hold on those boys, and that they are afraid to go against him?”

  “I have thought of it,” replied Arthur. “I have never been able to get
  it out of my head that Tom acted suspiciously on the day your canvas
  canoe was stolen. He played his part pretty well, but I believed then,
  and I believe now, that he knew that canoe was gone before he came
  back to the beach.”

  “I know Tom didn’t show much enthusiasm when we started after that
  bear, and that he did not go very far from the pond,” assented Joe.
  “It is possible that he saw Matt steal my canoe, and that he made no
  effort to stop him; but I think you are mistaken when you say that
  they are in ca-hoots. I don’t believe they have any thing in common.
  Tom is much too high-toned for that. I know that he has been seen in
  Matt’s company a time or two, but I am of the opinion that they met by
  accident and not by appointment.”

  “But Tom knew the officers were looking for Matt, and what was the
  reason he didn’t tell them that he had seen him?” demanded Arthur.

  “He probably would if he hadn’t thought that we were the ones that
  wanted him arrested,” replied Joe. “Tom and his cousins do not like
  us, and Matt Coyle might steal us poor, and they would never lift a
  hand or say a word to prevent it. But we are safe from them now. Even
  if they knew where to find us, Matt and his boys are much too lazy to
  walk twelve miles through the thick woods just to get into a fight
  with us.”

  Perhaps they were, and perhaps they were not. Time will show.

  If you have read the first volume of the “Forest and Stream Series,”
  you will recollect that the story it contained was told by “Old
  Durability,” Joe Wayring’s Fly-rod. In concluding his interesting
  narrative, Fly-rod said that he would step aside and give place to his
  “accommodating friend,” the Canvas Canoe, who, in the second volume of
  the series, would describe some of the incidents that came under his
  notice while he was a prisoner in the bands of the Indian Lake
  vagabonds, Matt Coyle and his two worthless boys, Jake and Sam. I am
  the Canvas Canoe, at your service, and I am now ready to redeem that
  promise.

  You will remember that the last duty I performed for my master, Joe
  Wayring, was to take him and Fly-rod up to the “little perch hole,”
  leaving Arthur Hastings and Roy Sheldon in the pond to angle for black
  bass. Joe preferred to fish for perch, because he was afraid to trust
  his light tackle in a struggle with so gamey a foe as a bass; but, as
  luck would have it, he struck one the very first cast he made, and got
  into a fight that was enough to make any angler’s nerves thrill with
  excitement.

  The battle lasted half an hour; and when it was over and the fish
  safely landed, Joe discovered that it was growing dark. While he was
  putting Fly-rod away in his case I happened to look up the creek, and
  what should I see there but the most disreputable looking scow I ever
  laid my eyes on? I had never seen him before, but I knew the crew he
  carried, for I had had considerable experience with them. They were
  the squatter and his boys, who, as you know, had sworn vengeance
  against Joe Wayring and his friends, because Joe’s father would not
  permit them to live on his land.

  Matt and his young allies discovered Joe before the latter saw them,
  and made an effort to steal alongside and capture him before he knew
  that there was any danger near; but one of the impatient boys
  carelessly allowed his paddle to rub against the side of the scow, and
  the sound alarmed Joe, who at once took to the water and struck out
  for shore, leaving me to my fate. But I never blamed Joe for that,
  because I knew he could not have done any thing else. He had paid out
  a good deal of rope in order to place himself in the best position for
  casting, and he could not haul it in and raise the anchor before his
  enemies would be upon him.

  “So that’s your game, is it?” shouted the squatter, when he saw Joe
  pulling for the shore with long lusty strokes. “Wal, it suits us I
  reckon. Never mind the boat, Jakey. She’s fast anchored and will stay
  there till we want her. Take after the ’ristocrat whose dad won’t let
  honest folks live onto his land less’n they’ve got a pocketful of
  money to pay him for it. Jest let me get a good whack at him with my
  paddle, an’ he’ll stop, I bet you.”

  Now we know that Matt didn’t tell the truth when he said that Joe
  Wayring’s father would not let any one live on his land except those
  who had money to pay for the privilege. Mr. Wayring was one of the
  most liberal citizens in Mount Airy. Nearly all the men who were
  employed as guides and boatmen by the summer visitors lived in neat
  little cottages that he had built on purpose for them, and for which
  he never charged them a cent of rent; and when Matt Coyle and his
  family came into the lake with a punt load of goods, and took
  possession of one of his lots, and proceeded to erect a shanty upon it
  without asking his permission, Mr. Wayring did not utter one word of
  protest. It is true that he was not very favorably impressed with the
  appearance of the new-comers, but he thought he would give them an
  opportunity to show what they were before he ordered them off his
  grounds. If they proved to be honest, hard-working people they might
  stay and welcome, and he would treat them as well as he treated the
  other inhabitants of “Stumptown.”

  But it turned out that Matt Coyle was neither honest nor hard-working.
  He had once been a hanger-on about the hotels at Indian Lake. He
  called himself an independent guide (neither of the hotels would have
  any thing to do with him), but, truth to tell, he did not do much
  guiding. He gained a precarious subsistence by hunting, trapping,
  fishing, and stealing. It was easier to steal a living than it was to
  earn it by hunting and trapping, and Matt’s depredations finally
  became so numerous and daring that the guides hunted him down as they
  would a bear or a wolf that had preyed upon their sheep-folds, and
  when they caught him ordered him out of the country. To make sure of
  his going they destroyed every article of his property that they could
  get their hands on, thus forcing him, as one of the guides remarked,
  to go off somewhere and steal a new outfit.

  Where Matt and his enterprising family went after that no one knew.
  They disappeared, and for a few weeks were neither seen nor heard of;
  but in due time they rowed their punt into Mirror Lake, as I have
  recorded, and Matt and his boys at once sought employment as guides
  and boatmen. But here again they were doomed to disappointment. The
  managers of the different hotels saw at a glance that they were not
  proper persons to be trusted on the lake with a boatload of women and
  children, and told them very decidedly that their services were not
  needed. The truth was they drank more whisky than water, and guides of
  that sort were not wanted in Mount Airy.

  Matt and his boys next tried fishing as a means of earning a
  livelihood; but no one could have made his salt at that, because the
  guests sojourning at the hotels and boarding houses, with the
  assistance of the regular guides, kept all the tables abundantly
  supplied. This second failure made the squatters angry, and they
  concluded that affairs about Mount Airy were not properly managed, and
  they would “run the town” to suit themselves. But they could not do
  that either, for they were promptly arrested and thrust into the
  calaboose.

  After they had been put in there twice, the trustees concluded that
  they were of no use in Mount Airy, and that they had better go
  somewhere else. Accordingly Matt received a notice to pull down his
  shanty and clear out. The officer who was intrusted with the writ had
  considerable trouble in serving it, but he had more in compelling the
  squatter to vacate the lot of which he had taken unauthorized
  possession. Matt and his boys showed fight, while the old woman, who,
  to quote from Frank Noble, “proved to be the best man in the party,”
  threw hot water about in the most reckless fashion. After a spirited
  battle the representatives of law and order came off victoriously, and
  Matt and his belongings were tumbled unceremoniously into the punt and
  shoved out into the lake. This made them almost frantic; and before
  they pulled away they uttered the most direful threats against those
  who had been instrumental in driving them out of Mount Airy “because
  they were poor and didn’t have no good clothes to wear,” and they even
  went so far as to threaten to burn Mr. Wayring’s house. But you will
  remember that it was Tom Bigden, a boy who hated Joe for just nothing
  at all, who put that idea into Matt’s head.

  Being once more adrift in the world, the squatter made the best of his
  way to Sherwin’s pond to carry out certain other plans that had been
  suggested to him by that same Tom Bigden, who never could be easy
  unless he was getting himself or somebody else into trouble. Between
  the lake and the pond there were twelve miles of rapids. Having run
  them scores of times under the skillful guidance of my master, I may
  be supposed to be tolerably familiar with them, and to this day I can
  not understand how Matt ever succeeded in getting his clumsy old punt
  to the bottom of them in safety. He must have had a hard time of it,
  for the bow of his craft was so badly battered by the rocks that it
  was a mystery how he ever took it across the pond and up the creek to
  the place where he made his temporary camp. With his usual caution he
  concealed his shanty in a grove of evergreens, and waited as patiently
  as he could for something to “turn up.” Tom Bigden had assured him
  that he could make plenty of money by simply keeping his eyes open,
  but Matt did not find it so.

  “I don’t b’lieve that ’ristocrat knew what he was talkin’ about when
  he said that some of them sailboats up there in the lake would be sure
  to break loose, an’ that I could make money by ketchin’ ’em as they
  come through the rapids, an’ givin’ ’em up to their owners,” said the
  squatter one day, when his supply of corn meal and potatoes began to
  show signs of giving out. “There ain’t nary one of ’em broke loose
  yet, an’ if any one of them p’inters an’ hound dogs that we’ve heared
  givin’ tongue in the woods ever lost their bearin’s I don’ know it,
  fur they never come nigh me.”

  “He said that if the things he was talkin’ about didn’t happen of
  theirselves, he’d make ’em happen,“ suggested Jake.

  “What do you reckon he meant by that?”

  “Why, it was a hint to you to go up to the lake some dark night, an’
  turn the boats loose,” replied Jake. “Then they’d come down, an’ we
  could ketch ’em an’ hold fast to ’em till we was offered a reward fur
  givin’ ’em up. But, pap, since I’ve seed them rapids, I don’t b’lieve
  that no livin’ boat could ever come through ’em without smashin’
  herself all to pieces, less’n there was somebody aboard of her to keep
  her off’n the rocks.”

  “No more do I,” answered Matt, “an’ I shan’t bother with ’em, nuther.
  I ain’t forgot that they’ve got a calaboose up there to Mount Airy,
  an’ that they’d jest as soon shove a feller into it as not. But
  something has got to be done, or else we’ll go hungry for want of grub
  to eat.”

  So saying, Matt shouldered his rifle, and set out to hunt up his
  dinner, and on the same day Joe Wayring and his two chums, accompanied
  by Tom Bigden, and his cousins, Ralph and Loren Farnsworth, ran the
  rapids into Sherwin’s Pond, to fish for bass. They caught a fine
  string, as every one did who went there, and were talking about going
  ashore to cook their breakfast, when they discovered a half-grown bear
  on the shore of the pond. Of course they made haste to start in
  pursuit of him—all except Tom Bigden. The latter told himself that the
  bear did not belong to him, that it was no concern of his whether he
  were killed or not, and sat down on a log and fought musquitoes while
  waiting for Joe and the rest to tire themselves out in the chase and
  come back.

  Now Matt Coyle had his eye on that bear, and wanted to shoot him too,
  for, as I have said, his larder was nearly empty. He was ready to do
  something desperate when he saw Joe and his companions paddle ashore
  and frighten the game, but presently it occurred to him that he might
  profit by it. He knew that the boys would never have come so far from
  home without bringing a substantial lunch with them, and as they had
  left their canoes unguarded on the beach, what was there to hinder him
  from sneaking up through the bushes and stealing that lunch? Turn
  about was fair play. And, while he was about it, what was there to
  prevent him from taking his pick of the canoes? Then he would have
  something to work with. He could go up to Indian Lake and make another
  effort to establish himself there as independent guide; and, if he
  failed to accomplish his object, he could paddle about in his canoe,
  rob every unguarded camp he could find, and make the sportsmen who
  came there for recreation so sick of those woods that they would never
  visit them again. In that way he could ruin the hotels as well as the
  guides who were so hostile to him. It was a glorious plan, Matt told
  himself, and while he was turning it over in his mind he suddenly
  found himself face to face with Tom Bigden.

  You know the conversation that passed between these two worthies, and
  remember how artfully Tom went to work to increase the unreasonable
  enmity which Matt Coyle cherished against Joe Wayring. After taking
  leave of Tom, the squatter plundered all the canoes that were drawn up
  beside me on the beach, first making sure of the baskets and bundles
  that contained the lunches, gave them all into my keeping, and shoved
  out into the pond with me. If I had possessed the power wouldn’t I
  have turned him overboard in short order? Matt was so clumsy and
  awkward that I was in hopes he would capsize me and spill himself out;
  but, although he could not make me ride on an even keel, he managed to
  keep me right side up, and, much to my disgust, I carried him safely
  across the pond and up the creek to his shanty.

  As the squatter was impatient to begin the business of guiding so that
  he could make some money before the season was over, and anxious to
  get beyond reach of the officers of the law who would soon be on his
  track, he lost no time in breaking camp and setting out for Indian
  Lake. Before he went he burned his shanty and punt, so that the Mount
  Airy sportsmen could not find shelter in the one or use the other in
  fishing in the pond. He spent half an hour in trying to take me to
  pieces, so that he could carry me in his hand as if I were a valise,
  and finally giving it up as a task beyond his powers, he raised me to
  his shoulder and fell in behind his wife and boys, who led the way
  toward Indian Lake.

  During the short time I remained in Matt Coyle’s possession I fared
  well enough, for I was too valuable an article to be maltreated; but I
  despised the company I was obliged to keep and the work I was expected
  to do. Matt’s first care was to lay in a supply of provisions for the
  use of his family; and as he had no money at his command and no
  immediate prospect of earning any, of course he expected to steal
  every thing he wanted. This was not a difficult task, for long
  experience had made him and his boys expert in the line of foraging.
  Nearly all the guides cultivated little patches of ground and raised a
  few pigs and chickens, and when their duties called them away from
  home there was no one left to guard their property except their wives
  and children. The latter could not stand watch day and night, and
  consequently it was no trouble at all for Matt and his hopeful sons to
  rob a hen-roost or a smokehouse as often as they felt like it. But, as
  it happened, the very first foraging expedition he sent out, after he
  made his new camp about two miles from Indian Lake, resulted most
  disastrously for Matt Coyle. He ordered Jake and me to forage on Mr.
  Swan, the genial, big-hearted guide of whom you may have heard
  something in “The Story of a Fly-rod;” or, rather, Jake was to do the
  stealing, and I was to bring back the plunder he secured.

  The young scapegrace had no difficulty in getting hold of a side of
  bacon and filling a bag with potatoes, which he dug from the soil with
  his hands, but there his good fortune ended. While he was making his
  way up the creek toward home, he was discovered by Joe Wayring and his
  two friends, Roy and Arthur, who were going to Indian Lake for their
  usual summer’s outing. Of course they at once made a determined effort
  to recapture me, and Jake in his mad struggle to escape ran me upon a
  snag and sunk me, thus putting it out of his father’s power to go into
  the business of independent guiding. The fights that grew out of that
  night’s work were numerous and desperate, and Matt declared that he
  would “even up” with the boys if he had to wait ten years for a chance
  to do it.

  It was the work of but a few moments for my master, with the aid of
  his friends, to bring me back to the surface of the water where I
  belonged. He took me home with him when his outing was over, and there
  I lived during the winter in comparative quiet, while Joe and his
  chums were made the victims of so many petty annoyances that it was a
  wonder to me how they kept their temper as well as they did. Matt
  Coyle and his boys could not do any thing to trouble them, because
  they were afraid to show themselves about the village; but Tom Bigden
  and his cousins were alert and active. They bothered Joe in every
  conceivable way. They made a lifelong enemy of Mars by sending him
  home through the streets with a tin can tied to his tail; they shot at
  Roy Sheldon’s tame pigeons as often as the birds ventured within range
  of their long bows; they overturned Joe’s sailboat after he had hauled
  it out on the beach and housed it for the winter; and one night I
  heard them talk seriously of setting fire to the boathouse. Loren and
  Ralph Farnsworth, however, were not willing to go as far as that,
  knowing, as they did, that arson was a State’s prison offense, but
  they agreed to Tom’s proposition to break into the boathouse and carry
  off “that old canvas canoe that Joe seemed to think so much of,”
  because they could do as much mischief of that sort as they pleased,
  and no blame would be attached to them. It would all be laid at Matt
  Coyle’s door.

  If I had been able to speak to him I would have told Tom that he was
  mistaken when he said this, for Joe Wayring knew well enough whom he
  had to thank for every thing that happened to him that winter. Tom and
  his allies forgot that their foot prints in the snow and the marks of
  their skates on the ice were, as Roy expressed it, “a dead give away.”

  Joe, however, did not say or do any thing to show that he suspected
  Tom, for he was a boy who liked to live in peace with every body; but
  when he came down to the boathouse the next morning and found that
  some one had been tampering with the fastenings of the door, he took
  me on his shoulder and carried me to his room, where I remained until
  the winter was passed and the boating season opened.

  In the meantime I made the acquaintance of Fly-rod, who has told you a
  portion of my history, and who was as green a specimen as I ever met;
  but what else could you expect of a fellow who had never seen any
  thing of the world or caught a fish! A few Saturdays spent at the
  spring-holes and along the banks of the trout streams proved him to be
  a strong, reliable rod, and by the time the summer vacation came Joe
  had learned to put a good deal of confidence in him. One of the most
  noteworthy exploits Fly-rod ever performed was capturing that big bass
  at the perch-hole. That was on the day that Matt Coyle and his boys
  came down the creek in their scow and made a captive of me and chased
  my master through the woods; and this brings me back to my story.



                              CHAPTER II.
                            CAPTURED AGAIN.


  I need not assure you that I was deeply interested in the exciting
  scene that was enacted before me. I rode helplessly at my moorings and
  watched Joe Wayring as he swam down the stream with his sturdiest
  strokes to get clear of the lily-pads before attempting a landing, and
  then I turned my attention to Matt Coyle and his boys, who had come to
  grief in their efforts to force their way to the shore.

  “Back out!” shouted Matt, when he found that his scow could neither
  ride over or break through the strong, tangled stems of the lily-pads.
  “Be in a hurry, or he’ll get sich a start on us that we can’t never
  ketch him.” And then he swung his heavy paddle around his head and
  threw it at Joe, just as the latter crawled out upon the bank.

  Joe saw the missile coming toward him, and when it struck the ground
  he caught it up and threw it back. He didn’t hit Matt, as he meant to
  do, but he struck Jake such a stunning blow in the face that the boy
  could take no part in the pursuit that followed. It came pretty near
  knocking him overboard. I would have laughed if I could, but I did not
  feel so jubilant when I heard Matt say:

  “Sam, you an’ Jakey get into the canoe an’ paddle down the pond so’s
  to cut him off when he tries to swim off to the skiff.”

  In obedience to these instructions the two boys took possession of me,
  hauled up the anchor, and paddled swiftly down the creek, while Matt
  kept on after Joe, who was running through the woods like a frightened
  deer. When we came out into the pond I saw him standing on the bank
  beckoning to Arthur and Roy, who lost no time in bringing the skiff to
  his relief. I saw Joe run into the water and strike out to meet them,
  and I also heard him say:

  “Boys, never mind me. I’ve got my second wind now and can swim for an
  hour. Go up there and capture my canoe, or else run over him and send
  him to the bottom. Don’t let those villains take him away from me
  again.”

  But Arthur and Roy did not think it best to act upon this suggestion
  until they had taken care of Joe; and by the time they had got him
  into the skiff it was too late for them to do any thing for me; for
  Jake and his brother had put themselves out of harm’s way by pulling
  for the shore, where Matt was waiting for them. When they reached it
  they lifted me from the water and carried me so far into the bushes
  that they knew Joe and his friends would not dare follow them, and
  then each of them sheltered himself behind a tree. Matt and his boys
  were afraid of Roy Sheldon, who was a swift and accurate thrower, and
  when the latter rose to his feet to see what they had done with me
  they thought he was about to open fire on them with potatoes, as he
  had done once or twice before.

  “I’m onto your little game,” shouted the squatter, peeping out from
  behind his tree and shaking his fist at the boys in the skiff. “You
  don’t fire no more taters at me if I know it. Your boat is here, an’
  if you want it wusser’n we do, come an’ get it. ’Tain’t much account
  nohow. Now then,” added Matt, as he saw the boys turn their skiff
  about and pull back toward the other side of the pond, “ketch hold of
  this canoe, all of us, an’ we’ll tote him up to the creek.”

  “Say, pap,” Sam interposed, “why don’t we foller ’em over there an’
  gobble up their other boat an’ bust up their things?”

  “That’s what I say,” groaned Jake, who wanted revenge for the stinging
  blow that Joe had given him with Matt’s paddle. “We’re better men than
  they ever dare be. I shan’t rest easy till I larrup that Joe Wayring.”

  “Now jest listen at the two fules!” exclaimed the squatter, in a tone
  of disgust. “Have you forgot the peltin’ they give us with our own
  taters last summer? ’Pears to me that you hadn’t oughter forget it,
  Jakey, ’cause when you got that whack in the stummik you raised sich a
  hollerin’ that you could have been heared clear up to Injun Lake.
  Seems as though I could feel that bump yet,” added Matt, passing a
  brawny fist over his cheek where a potato, thrown by Arthur Hastings’
  hand, had left a black and blue spot as large as a hen’s egg. “We’ll
  wait till they get camped for the night, an’ then we’ll go over there
  an’ steal ourselves rich.”

  If Matt had taken another look at the boys instead of being in such
  haste to carry me up to the creek, he never would have thought
  seriously of making a night attack upon their camp. Joe and his
  friends had received a reinforcement in the person of Mr. Swan, a
  hotel guide whom Matt Coyle had good reason to remember. The guide had
  taken an active part in driving him and his vagabond crew out of the
  Indian Lake country, and he was looking for him when he met Joe and
  his chums. But Matt, believing that the boys had no one to depend on
  but themselves, was sure that by a stealthy approach and quick assault
  he could wipe out all old scores and enrich himself without incurring
  the smallest risk, and he and his allies grew enthusiastic while they
  talked about the great things they meant to do that night.

  During the progress of their conversation I learned, for the first
  time, what had become of the rods and reels that Matt stole from Joe
  and his party in Sherwin’s pond. Jake, who acted as his father’s
  agent, had sold them to Mr. Hanson, the landlord of the Sportsman’s
  Home, for four dollars apiece—all except the one belonging to Arthur
  Hastings, which Jake affirmed had been broken by a black bass. For
  that he received two dollars. I learned, further, that Matt had failed
  again in his efforts to find employment as guide for the Indian Lake
  country. The hotels would not hire him, and neither would the guests
  to whom he offered his services. This left Matt but one resource, and
  that was to carry out his oft-repeated threat that if he couldn’t act
  as guide about that lake nobody should. He had already robbed three
  camps, and he had the satisfaction of knowing that by doing it he had
  created great consternation among the summer visitors. The ladies
  protested that they could never think of going into the woods again as
  long as that horrid man was about, and the sportsmen who had suffered
  at his hands told their landlords very plainly that they would not
  come near Indian Lake again until they were assured that Matt Coyle
  had been arrested and lodged in jail.

  “They’re afeared of me, them folks up there to the lake be,” chuckled
  the squatter, who was highly elated over the success of the plan he
  had adopted for ruining the hotels and breaking up the business of
  guiding. “I would have worked hard an’ faithful for ’em if they had
  give me a chance to make an honest livin’; but they wouldn’t do it,
  ’cause I didn’t have no good clothes to wear, an’ now they see what
  they have gained by their meanness. I won’t be starved to death, an’
  that’s jest all there is about it.”

  “Say, pap, what be you goin’ to do with them two fine guns that’s hid
  up there in the bresh?” inquired Sam.

  “I ain’t a-goin’ to do nothin’ with ’em,” was the reply.

  “Then why can’t me an’ Jake have ’em?”

  “Now jest listen at the blockhead!” Matt almost shouted. “Ain’t you
  got sense enough to know that if a guide should happen to ketch you
  runnin’ about the woods with one of them guns in your hands you would
  be ’rested an’ locked up for a thief? I didn’t take them guns ’cause I
  wanted ’em, but jest to drive them city sportsmen away from here. They
  ain’t goin’ to bring fine things into these woods when they know that
  they stand a chance of losin’ ’em. An’ if there ain’t no guests to
  come here, what’s the guides an’ landlords goin’ to do to make a
  livin’?”

  “I’ve made a heap of money for you, pap, by sellin’ them fish-poles
  an’ takin’ back the scatter-gun you hooked outen one of them camps,
  an’ you ain’t never give me nothin’ for it,” said Jake. “I reckon it’s
  about time you was settlin’ up.”

  “All right, I’ll settle up with you this very minute,” answered his
  father, cheerfully. “You can have this here canvas canoe for your own.
  Does that squar’ accounts betwixt us?”

  It wouldn’t if I had had a voice in the matter, or possessed the power
  to protect myself; but I was helpless, and from that moment Jake
  claimed me as his property. He agreed, however, to lend me to his
  father as often as the latter thought it safe to go prospecting for
  unguarded camps. Half an hour later I was floating in the creek
  alongside the scow, and Matt and his boys were building a fire and
  preparing to regale themselves upon the big bass which Fly-rod had
  unwittingly caught for their supper. While they were thus engaged they
  talked over their plans for the night, and decided what they would do
  with the valuable things they expected to capture in Joe Wayring’s
  camp.

  “This here is the great p’int, an’ it bothers me a heap, I tell you,”
  said Matt, flourishing the sharpened stick that he was using as a
  fork. “Joe an’ his friends are purty well known in this part of the
  country, an’ so’s their outfit; an’ if we steal all they’ve got, as I
  mean to do afore I am many hours older, about the only things we can
  use will be the grub.”

  “Don’t you reckon they’ve got new fish-poles to take the place of them
  you hooked from ’em up in Sherwin’s pond?” inquired Sam.

  “I know they have, ’cause they wouldn’t come here without nothing to
  fish with, would they? But ’twon’t be safe to try to sell ’em right
  away, ’cause if we do folks will suspicion something.”

  “I’ll bet you I won’t take’em up to the lake to sell ’em,” said Jake
  very decidedly. “The folks up there know that you stole them fine guns
  we’ve got hid in the bresh, an’ they’d ’rest me for helpin’ of you.
  But there’s one thing I want, an’ I’m goin’ to have it too, when we
  get Joe’s property into our hands, an’ that’s some new clothes,” added
  Jake, pulling his coat-sleeve around so that he could have a fair view
  of the gaping rent in the elbow. “These duds I’ve got on ain’t fitten
  to go among white folks with.”

  “I don’t see what’s to hender you gettin ’em, Jakey,” said his father,
  encouragingly. “If we get the skiff an’ everything what’s into it, in
  course we shall get the extry clothes they brung with ’em, an’ you an’
  Sam can take your pick.”

  “An’ I’m goin’ to give that Joe Wayring the best kind of a poundin’ to
  pay him for hittin’ me in the face with your paddle,” continued Jake.

  “You can do that, too, an’ I won’t never say a word agin it. All them
  fellers need bringin’ down, an’ I’d like the best way to see you boys
  do it. Now there’s that skiff of their’n,” added Matt, reflectively.
  “She’s better’n the scow, ’cause she’s got oars instead of paddles,
  an’ can get around faster.”

  “An’ she’s big enough to carry us an’ our plunder, an’ she’s got a
  tent, so’t we wouldn’t have to go ashore to camp when we wanted to
  stop for the night,” said Sam. “But we’d have to steer clear of the
  guides, ’cause they all know her,”

  “We’ve got to steer clear of them anyhow, ain’t we?” demanded Matt. “I
  reckon we’d best take her for a house-boat, an’ use the canvas canoe
  to go a prospectin’ for camps.”

  Matt and his boys continued to talk in this way until darkness came to
  conceal their movements, and then they stepped into the scow and
  paddled toward the pond, leaving me tied fast to a tree on the bank. I
  knew they were going on a fool’s errand. They seemed to forget that
  Joe and his friends never went into the woods without taking a
  body-guard and sentinel with them; and, knowing how vigilant Arthur
  Hastings’ little spaniel was in looking out for the safety of the
  camp, I did not think it would be possible for the squatter, cunning
  as he was, to steal a march upon the boys he intended to rob. If Jim
  aroused the camp there would be the liveliest kind of a fight, and I
  was as certain as I wanted to be that the attacking party would come
  off second best.

  The squatter was gone so long that I began to grow impatient; but
  presently I heard loud and excited voices coming from the direction of
  the pond, mingled with cries of distress, the clashing of sticks, and
  other sounds to indicate that there was a battle going on out there.
  Although it seemed to be desperately contested, it did not last long,
  for in less than ten minutes afterwards I saw the scow coming into the
  creek. The very first words I heard convinced me that, although Matt
  and his boys had failed to surprise and rob Joe’s camp, they had
  inflicted considerable damage upon him and his companions. To my great
  satisfaction I also learned that my confidence in Jim, the spaniel,
  had not been misplaced.

  “If I ever get the chance I’ll fill that little black fice of their’n
  so full of bullet holes that he won’t never be of no more use as a
  watchdog I bet you,” said Sam, in savage tones. “We could have done
  jest what we liked with that there camp, an’ every thing an’ every
  body what’s into it, if it hadn’t been for his yelpin’ an’ goin’ on.”

  “Now, listen at you!” exclaimed his father, impatiently. “I’m right
  glad the dog was there an’ set up that yelpin’, ’cause if we’d went
  ashore, like we meant to do, we’d a had that man Swan onto us.”

  “Well, what of it?” retorted Sam. “Ain’t you a bigger man than he is?”

  “That ain’t nuther here nor there,” answered Matt, who knew that he
  could not have held his own in an encounter with the stalwart guide.
  “Fightin’ ain’t what we’re after. We want to do all the damage we can
  without bein’ ketched at it.”

  “All I’ve made by this night’s work is a prod in the ribs that will
  stay with me for a month,” groaned Jake, who, as I afterwards learned,
  had received several sharp thrusts from the blade of Roy Sheldon’s
  oar. “Pap, you spiled our chances of gettin’ that skiff for a
  house-boat when you told us to run into her. She’s at the bottom of
  the pond by this time. Didn’t you hear the planks rippin’ and crackin’
  when we struck her?”

  “Wal, then, what did they put theirselves in our way for!” demanded
  Matt, angrily. “Didn’t you hear me tell ’em not to come nigh us,
  ’cause it would be wuss for’em if they did? I seen through their
  little game in a minute. They wanted to keep us there till Swan could
  come up an’ help ’em. What else could we do but run into ’em?”

  This made it plain to me that the squatter had not acted entirely on
  the defensive—that he had made a desperate effort to send the skiff
  and her crew to the bottom of the pond; but, being better posted in
  natural philosophy than he was, I did not believe that he had
  succeeded in doing it. An unloaded skiff will not sink, even if her
  whole side is stove in, and I was positive that Matt Coyle would see
  more of that boat and of the boys who owned it before the doors of the
  penitentiary closed upon him.

  In spite of Jake’s protest and Sam’s, Matt decided to camp on the bank
  of the creek that night, and go home in the morning. The boys were
  afraid that the guide might assume the offensive and attack them while
  they were asleep; but their father quieted their fears by assuring
  them that he would not attempt any thing of the sort, ’cause why, he
  couldn’t. The skiff was sunk, Swan’s canoe wasn’t large enough to
  carry more than one man at a load, and the guide, brave as he was
  supposed to be, would not think of coming up there alone. More than
  that, he did not know where to find them.

  Knowing that Matt’s home was wherever he happened to be when night
  overtook him, I felt some curiosity to see the place he had chosen for
  his temporary abode. I was ushered into it early on the afternoon of
  the following day. It was located about twenty miles from the pond,
  and Matt reached it by turning the scow out of the creek, and forcing
  him through a little stream whose channel was so thickly filled with
  bushes and weeds that a stranger would not have suspected that there
  was any water-way there. The stream, which was not more than twenty
  feet long, ended in a little bay, and there the scow had to be left,
  because his crew could not take him any farther. He was too broad of
  beam to be carried through the thick woods, and besides he was too
  heavy.

  I forgot to say that my new owner, Jake Coyle, navigated me up the
  creek. He was very awkward with the double paddle at first, but skill
  came with practice, and before we had gone half a dozen miles I was
  carrying him along as steadily and evenly as I ever carried Joe
  Wayring. When we reached the little bay of which I have spoken, Jake
  ran me upon the beach alongside the scow, and set to work to take me
  to pieces. Having more mechanical skill and patience than his father,
  he succeeded after awhile, and then he put me on his shoulder and
  carried me along the well-beaten path that led to the camp. But before
  this happened I was witness to a little proceeding on the part of Matt
  Coyle which showed what a cunning old fox he was. Catching up a long
  pole that had probably been used for the same purpose before, the
  squatter went back to the stream through which we had just passed, and
  carefully straightened up all the bushes that had been bent down by
  the weight of the scow.

  “There!” said Matt, when he had finished his task, “Swan an’ some more
  of them guides will be along this way directly, but I bet they won’t
  see nothin’ from the creek to tell ’em that we are in here. Of course
  the bresh don’t stand up squar’, like it oughter, an’ the bark’s
  rubbed off in places; but mebbe Swan an’ the rest of ’em won’t take
  notice of that.”

  I afterward learned, however, that Matt knew his enemies too well to
  trust any thing to luck. Some member of his family stood guard at the
  mouth of the stream day and night. The old woman was on watch when we
  came up the creek but I did not see her, for as soon as she discovered
  Matt’s scow approaching she hastened to camp to get dinner ready.

  The camp was pleasantly located in a thicket of evergreens, and with a
  little care and attention might have been made a very cheerful and
  inviting spot; but it was just the reverse of that. Matt and his tribe
  were too lazy to keep their camps in order or to provide themselves
  with any comforts. I never knew them to have such a thing as a camp
  broom, which any of them could have made in ten minutes, and I doubt
  if their dishes ever received a thorough washing. They could not
  muster up energy enough to pick browse for their beds, but were
  content to sleep on the bare ground. All they cared for was a camp
  that was so effectually concealed that the Indian Lake guides would
  not be likely to stumble upon it, a lean-to that would keep off the
  thickest of the rain, and plenty to eat. Of course they would have
  been glad to have money in their pockets, but they did not want to put
  themselves to any trouble to earn it. Matt contended that he and his
  family had as good a right to live without work as some other folks
  had.

  “So you got your canvas canoe back, did you, Jakey?” said the old
  woman, as her hopeful son came in at one side of the camp and went out
  at the other. “Where did you find him agin?”

  “Up there to the pond,” replied Jake. “That Joe Wayring, he was
  fishin’, an’ we crep’ up clost to him afore he knew we was there, an’
  then it would a made you laugh to see him take to the water an’ streak
  it through the woods with pap arter him. Don’t I wish he had ketched
  him, though? Do you see any thing onto my face?”

  The old woman replied that one of his cheeks was slightly discolored.

  “Joe Wayring done that with pap’s paddle,” continued Jake, “an’ I’m
  goin’ to larrup him for it the first good chance I get. I’ll l’arn him
  who he’s hittin’. Yes, this canoe is mine now, sure enough, for pap
  give him to me to keep. I’m goin’ to hide him out here in the bresh
  till I want to use him.”

  This piece of strategy on the part of my new master made it impossible
  for me to take note of all that happened in and around the squatter’s
  camp during the next two days, for the evergreens partially concealed
  it from my view, and Matt and his allies talked in tones so low that I
  could not distinctly hear what they said; but on the afternoon of the
  third day I saw and heard a good deal. About three o’clock, while Sam
  Coyle was dozing on the bank of the creek and pretending to stand
  guard over the camp, he was suddenly aroused to a sense of his
  responsibility by seeing a light skiff come slowly around the bend
  below. Mr. Swan, the guide, handled the oars, and the man who sat in
  the stern was the owner of the Lefever hammerless that Matt Coyle had
  stolen and concealed in the bushes. They kept their eyes fastened upon
  the bank as they moved along, and Sam knew that they were looking for
  “signs.”

  “An’ I’m powerful ’feared that they will find some when they get up
  here,” thought the young vagabond, trembling all over with excitement
  and apprehension, “’cause didn’t pap say that he couldn’t make the
  bresh stand up straight like it had oughter do, an’ that the bark was
  rubbed off in places? I reckon I’d best be a lumberin’.”

  Sam turned upon his face and crawled off through the bushes, but not
  until he had seen Mr. Swan’s boat reinforced by four others, whose
  occupants were looking so closely at the shores as they advanced that
  it did not seem possible that a single bush, or even a twig on them,
  could escape their scrutiny. Sam lost no time in putting himself out
  of sight among the evergreens, and then he jumped to his feet and made
  for camp at the top of his speed. The pale face he brought with him
  told his father that he had a startling report to make.

  “Be they comin’?” said Matt, in an anxious whisper.

  “Yes,” replied Sam, “they’re comin’—a hul passel of boats, an’ two or
  three fellers into each one of ’em. The man you hooked that
  scatter-gun from is into Swan’s boat, an’ he looks like he was jest
  ready to b’ile over with madness.”

  “Grab something an’ run with it,” exclaimed the squatter; and as he
  spoke he snatched up the frying-pan and dumped the half-cooked slices
  of bacon upon the ground.

  For a few minutes there was a great commotion in the camp. Matt and
  his family caught up whatever came first to their hands, and presently
  emerged from the thicket, one after the other. They all carried
  bundles of something on their backs, and at once proceeded to “scatter
  like so many quails,” and scurry away in different directions. This
  was one of their favorite tricks—the one to which they invariably
  resorted when danger threatened them; but before they separated they
  always agreed upon a place of meeting, toward which they bent their
  steps as soon as they thought it safe to do so. It was no trouble at
  all for them to elude the officers of the law in this way, and even
  the guides, experienced as they were in woodcraft, could not always
  follow them.

  Jake Coyle was so heavily loaded down with other plunder that he could
  not carry me away with him. That was something upon which I
  congratulated myself, for I was sure that the guides and their
  companions would not leave until they had made a thorough examination
  of the woods surrounding the squatter’s camp; but in this I was
  disappointed.

  They set fire to every thing that Matt had left behind in his hurried
  flight, and went back to the bay to find that the enemy had been
  operating in their rear. While they were waiting for the fire they had
  kindled to burn itself out, Matt and his family “circled around” to
  the bay in which they had left their scow, and went to work to pay Mr.
  Swan back in his own coin. Every thing that would sink was thrown into
  the water, and every thing that wouldn’t was sent whirling through the
  air toward the woods on the opposite side of the bay. That was the way
  my friend Fly-rod got crippled. He brought up against a tree with such
  force that his second joint was broken close to the ferrule. After
  doing all the damage they could without alarming the guides, Matt and
  his family took two of the best boats and made their escape in them.

  I judged that Mr. Swan and his party were a pretty mad lot of men when
  they returned to the bay and saw what had been done there during their
  absence. They were so far away that I could not catch all they said,
  but I could hear Joe Wayring’s voice, and longed for the power to do
  something that would lead him to my place of concealment. I also heard
  the owner of the stolen Winchester say:

  “We will give a hundred dollars apiece to the man who will find our
  weapons, capture the thief, and hold him so that we can come and
  testify against him. Or, we will give fifty dollars apiece for the
  guns without the thief and the same amount for the thief without the
  guns. Boys, you are included in that offer.”

  I knew that the last words were addressed to Joe Wayring and his
  chums, for I heard Arthur thank him, and say that it would afford him
  and his friends great satisfaction if they could find and restore the
  stolen guns. I did not suppose that the boys would ever think of the
  matter again, having so many other things to occupy their minds; but
  subsequent events proved that I was mistaken.



                              CHAPTER III.
                        IN THE WATCHMAN’S CABIN.


  Mr. Swan and his party started for Indian Lake at an early hour the
  next morning, and I was left alone in the bushes. I stayed there all
  that night and until noon the next day, and then Jake Coyle and his
  brother suddenly appeared in front of my hiding-place. They came up so
  silently that I did not know they were anywhere in the neighborhood
  until they were close upon me; but I was not much surprised at that,
  for I had become well enough acquainted with them during my previous
  captivity to know that that was their usual way of doing. They could
  not have taken more pains to conceal their movements if they had been
  hostile Indians on the hunt for scalps.

  They always had the fear of the law before their eyes, and lived in a
  state of anxiety and apprehension that could hardly have been endured
  by any one else.

  “Here he is, all right an’ tight,” said Jake, laying hold of the rope
  with which he had tied me together and hauling me out of the thicket.
  “Ole Swan didn’t go to pokin’ around through the bresh like I was
  afeared he would. Come out here. You’ve got to help me steal some more
  bacon an’ ’taters to-night.”

  “Don’t you let Joe Wayring an’ the rest of them fellers sneak up an’
  take him away from you, like they done the last time you went out with
  him to steal bacon an’ ’taters,” cautioned Sam. “Them boys ain’t gone
  home yet, an’ I shan’t rest easy till they do. As long as they stay
  snoopin’ around in these woods where they ain’t wanted they’re liable
  to drop down on us at any minute.”

  “I don’t want ’em to go home till I get a chance to squar’ up with Joe
  for hittin’ me in the face with pap’s paddle,” said Jake, who seemed
  to think that a greater insult could not have been put upon him. “I
  shall allers remember that agin him. Now le’s go back to our ole camp
  an’ see what Swan an’ his crowd done there arter we left.”

  So saying Jake led the way into the evergreens, carrying me on his
  shoulder. A single glance at the place where the camp had been was
  enough to show that the guides had done their work well. There was
  nothing left of the lean-to, the bedding, and the small supply of
  provisions that Matt and his family had abandoned, except a little
  pile of ashes.

  “This is a purty way for them rich folks to treat poor chaps like us,
  ain’t it?” said Sam, bitterly. “What business did they have to go an’
  do it? We’ve just as much right to be guides here as Swan has.”

  “Well, I don’t reckon him an’ his crowd hurt us any wuss than we hurt
  them,” observed Jake. “Them fish-poles an’ other things that we flung
  into the bresh an’ sunk in the bay must have cost a good many dollars,
  an’ we’ve got two of their best boats besides.”

  “But them boats won’t do us anymore good than the two guns we’ve got
  hid in the bresh,” answered Sam. “Le’s go an’ take a look at them guns
  an’ see if they are all right.”

  The hollow log in which the stolen weapons had been stowed away for
  safe keeping was at least a quarter of a mile from the thicket that
  had furnished me with a hiding-place, but Jake and his brother went
  straight to it; and after removing a few bushes and chunks of wood
  that had been scattered carelessly around the end of the log to
  conceal the opening, the former put in his hand and pulled out a
  Victoria case which contained the Lefever hammerless. Passing it over
  to his brother, Jake again thrust his arm into the hollow and brought
  to light the stolen Winchester, wrapped in a tattered blanket. When
  their coverings were removed I took a good look at them. They were the
  handsomest things in the shape of guns I ever saw, and I did not
  wonder that their rightful owners were so anxious to get them back.

  “If we had a few ca’tridges to fit ’em, we’d take a shot or two jest
  for luck,” said Sam, raising the double-barrel to his shoulder and
  running his eye along the clean brown tubes. “But they ain’t no more
  use to us than so many chunks of ole iron. We dassent sell ’em, an’
  pap’ won’t let us have ’em for fear that we will be took up for
  thieves.”

  “Didn’t you hear pap say that he didn’t hook the guns ’cause he wanted
  ’em, but jest to break up guidin’ an’ ruin them hotels up to the
  lake?” Jake inquired. “It’s the only way we’ve got to even up with the
  folks that are tryin’ to starve us out, ain’t it? I’ll go furder’n
  that, if I ever get a good chance. I’ll burn every camp I find, like
  Swan done with our’n.”

  “I reckon that if me an’ you had the money these guns cost we could
  wear good clothes an’ live on good grub all the rest of the year,
  couldn’t we?” said Sam, as he returned the Lefever hammerless to his
  case and handed it to his brother. “They must have cost as much as
  forty or fifty dollars apiece, don’t you reckon?”

  This showed that Sam had about as clear an idea of the price of fine
  guns as his father had of the value of split bamboo fishing-rods and
  German-silver reels. The Winchester was worth fifty dollars, but the
  list price of the Lefever hammerless was three hundred.

  Having put the guns back into the log again, Jake once more raised me
  to his shoulder, and started off through the woods. But he and Sam
  moved with long, noiseless steps, stopping frequently to reconnoiter
  the ground before them, and if they conversed at all it was in low and
  guarded tones. At the end of half an hour they struck a “carry”—a dim
  path leading from the pond to another body of water that lay deeper in
  the forest—and here they became doubly cautious in their movements.

  “Now you toddle on ahead,” said Jake to his brother, “an’ if you see
  one of them city chaps an’ his guide comin’ along the carry, fetch a
  little whistle so’t I can hide in the bresh afore they see me.”

  But, as it happened, this precaution was unnecessary. The carry was
  deserted by all save themselves, and at the end of another half hour
  Jake took me through a little clearing and into a dilapidated log
  shanty, where we found the squatter and his wife waiting for us.

  “Well, Jakey, you found your boat whar you left him, didn’t you?” said
  Matt Coyle, as the boy deposited me in a corner of the shanty near the
  wide fire-place. “I didn’t know but mebbe Swan an’ the rest of ’em had
  nosed him out an’ took him off.”

  “Well, they didn’t,” answered Jake. “We found him all right, an’ the
  guns, too. We hauled ’em out an’ took a good look at ’em, me an’ Sam
  did. It’s a mean shame that we can’t keep ’em out an’ use ’em like
  they b’longed to us.”

  The squatter made no reply, and I had leisure to look about me before
  any one spoke again. I was surprised to see how much furniture there
  was in the shanty, for I knew that Matt had lost the bulk of his
  property when the guides burned his camp. Of course, it was of the
  rudest description, but it would answer very well when nothing better
  could be had. I have seen many a well-appointed camp whose owners were
  not any better supplied with needful things than Matt Coyle was. There
  were two comfortable looking shake-downs on the floor; three-legged
  stools and chairs without any backs were abundant; the home-made table
  supported more dishes than Matt and his family were ever likely to
  fill with provender, and under it were piled a lot of miscellaneous
  articles, including a frying-pan, camp-kettle, and coffee-pot. To
  complete the picture, three of the stools and broken chairs were
  occupied by Matt Coyle, his wife, and a roughly dressed man whom I had
  never seen before. They were all smoking, and sat with their elbows
  resting on their knees. Taken as a group, they were the laziest
  looking lot I ever happened to meet. The stranger was the first to
  speak.

  “What guns is them you’re talkin’ about?” said he, in a drawling tone.

  “Oh, they’re some that I picked up while I was a roamin’ around,”
  replied Matt, with a knowing wink.

  “An’ you got that there canvas canoe in the same way, I reckon,”
  continued the stranger, nodding toward the corner in which I lay,
  listening to the conversation.

  “Well, p’raps I did,” answered Matt. “It’s jest like I told you, Rube.
  I would be willin’ to work hard an’ faithful if they would only give
  me a chance to be a guide, but they won’t do it, an’ me an’ the boys
  have set ourselves the job of bustin’ up the hul business. We’ve done
  right smart of damage already, but we ain’t through yet. I’ll bet you
  there won’t be as many guests up to them hotels at Injun Lake next
  summer as there was this.”

  “I heared all about it, an’ about them guns, too,” drawled Rube. “Do
  you know that there’s been a big reward offered fur ’em? Well, there
  has. The man who ketches you an’ finds the guns will get two hundred
  dollars for it; an’ if he finds the guns without ketchin’ you he’ll
  get half as much.”

  “That’s enough to turn every man in the woods agin me,” said Matt,
  anxiously.

  “All except your friends,” Rube hastened to assure him. “They won’t go
  agin you for no money.”

  “Well, I’ll bet you they don’t ketch me agin,” said the squatter,
  confidently. “They done it once, but I’m onto their little games now.
  They thought they had us all in their grip, Swan an’ his crowd did,
  when they burned our camp up there in the cove; but we knowed they was
  comin’ long afore they got there. I ain’t afeared of their ketchin’
  me.”

  “An’ I ain’t afeared of their findin’ the guns nuther,” chimed in
  Jake. “They’re hid where nobody wouldn’t never think of lookin’ for
  ’em.”

  “Whereabouts is that?” asked Rube, carelessly.

  The boys grinned, while Matt and the old woman looked down at the
  floor and said nothing. They were perfectly willing that Rube should
  know how the guns came into their possession, but they were not so
  ready to tell him where the stolen weapons were concealed. How did
  they know but that Rube, tempted by the promise of so large a reward,
  would hunt up the guns, restore them to their lawful owners, and hold
  fast to all the money he received for it? Perhaps we shall see that
  that was just what Rube wanted to do. He was by no means as good a
  friend to the squatter as he pretended to be, and Matt suspected it
  all the while.

  “What made you turn agin them folks up there to the lake?” said the
  latter, suddenly. “The last time I seen you, you told me that you had
  a good job at guidin’, an’ that you was gettin’ two an’ a half a day.”

  “So I did, an’ it was the truth,” replied Rube. “But he didn’t stick
  to his bargain, Hanson didn’t. The last feller I went out with told
  him that I was a powerful lazy chap, an’ that I wouldn’t do nothin’
  but jest roll around on the grass an’ leave him to pick the browse for
  the beds an’ cook his own bacon an’ slapjacks. He told him, furder,
  that I wouldn’t take him to the best troutin’ places, ’cause there was
  too many ‘carries’ in the way. Well, that was a fact,“ added Rube,
  reflectively. “He had so much duffle with him, my employer did, that I
  had to make two trips to tote it all over the carries, an’ two an’ a
  half a day is too little money for doin’ sich work as that. I hired
  myself out to the hotel for a guide, an’ not for a pack-horse. So
  Hanson, he allowed he didn’t want me no longer, an’ that made me down
  on him an’ all the rest, same as you are. If that ain’t a fact, an’ if
  I ain’t a friend of your’n, what made me tell you to come into my
  shanty an’ make yourselves to home, an’ use my things till you could
  get some furnitur’ of your own?”

  So that was the way Matt came to be so well fixed, was it? The shanty
  and every thing in it belonged to Rube, and he had told Matt to step
  in and make himself at home there. I thought that looked like a
  friendly act on Rube’s part.

  “It was mighty good-natur’d an’ free-hearted in you, an’ if it ever
  comes handy, you’ll see that I don’t forget sich things,” said Matt,
  after a little pause. “I’m free to say that I didn’t look fur no sich
  favors from you, for I thought you was down on me, like all the rest
  of the guides.”

  “Well, you see that I ain’t, don’t you? I’ve been mistreated same as
  you have, an’ have jest as good a reason to be mad about it. Now I’ll
  tell you what I’ll do with you consarnin’ them guns that you’ve got
  hid in the bresh,” continued Rube. “You dassent sell ’em or give ’em
  back to the men you stole ’em from, ’cause if you try it you will be
  took up; but I can do it for you, an’ they won’t never suspicion any
  thing agin me. I can take ’em up to Hanson to-day an’ get the hunderd
  dollars cash money that has been promised for ’em. Say the word an’
  I’ll do it, an’ go halves with you. Fifty dollars is better than
  leavin’ ’em out there in the woods to rust till they ain’t good for
  nothing.”

  This seemed to be a fair offer, and I expected to hear Matt close with
  it at once; but instead of that he fastened his eyes on the floor once
  again, and drew his shaggy brows together as if he were thinking
  deeply. Even Jake went off into a brown study.

  “If you want to make any thing out of them guns, I don’t see any other
  way for you to do it,” said Rube, knocking the ashes from his pipe and
  getting upon his feet. “I’ll make the same bargain with you consarnin’
  them two boats you hooked from Swan an’ his crowd on the day they
  burned your camp. You can’t use them any more’n you can use the guns,
  an’ what’s the use of leavin’ ’em in the bresh to rot away to
  nothin’?”

  “An’ what’s the use of my robbin’ camps if I’m goin’ to give back all
  the things I hook?” asked Matt, in reply.

  “You needn’t give ’em all back—only jest them that you can get a
  reward for. Take time to study on it, an’ then tell me if you don’t
  think I have made you a good offer. Now I must step down to the
  hatchery an’ go on watch; an’ I warn you, fair an’ squar’, don’t none
  of you come prowlin’ round like you was waitin’ for a chance to set
  fire to the buildin’s or cut the nets, ’cause if you do I shall have
  to tell on you. I shouldn’t like to do that, bein’ as me an’ you is
  friends, an’ nuther do I want to lose my place as watchman at the
  hatchery, since I’ve been stopped from guidin’. I must have some way
  to make a livin’.”

  So saying Rube put on his hat and left the shanty. Matt and his family
  remained silent and motionless for a few minutes, and then, in
  obedience to a sign from his father, Jake jumped up and followed Rube.
  After a brief absence he returned with the report:

  “He ain’t hangin’ around the back of the shanty to listen to our talk,
  Rube ain’t. He’s gone on down the carry t’wards the hatchery. Be you
  goin’ to let him have them boats an’ guns, pap? Seems like it would be
  better to have the money than the things, ’cause we could use the
  money an’ we can’t use the boats an’ guns.”

  “Now jest listen at the blockhead!” exclaimed Matt. “Do you reckon
  that if we give the things up to Rube we’d ever see a cent of the
  money? Do you think that ’cause he opened this shanty to us, an’ told
  us to use his dishes to cook our grub with, that it’s safe to trust
  him too fur? I don’t. Them boats an’ guns can stay where they be till
  they sp’ile afore I will let Rube or any body else make any money out
  of ’em. Nobody but me run any risk in hookin’ them guns, an’ I’m the
  one that oughter have the money for givin’ of ’em back.”

  “I don’t b’lieve Rube’s goin’ agin us,” said the old woman. “If that
  is his idee, what’s the reason he don’t bring the constable here an’
  have you took up? He could do it in a minute.”

  “Now jest listen at you!” said Matt, again. “Of course he could have
  me took up if he wanted to, Rube could, but he would make only a
  hundred dollars by it, ’cause he wouldn’t have the guns. See? But if
  we give him the guns, then he’ll bring the constable here arter me,
  an’ he’ll get two hundred dollars fur it. Understand? I don’t b’lieve
  that every body up to the lake is down on him like they be on me. If
  he was stopped from guidin’, how does it come that he got to be
  watchman at the State hatchery? They wouldn’t have no lazy,
  good-for-nothing feller there, I bet you. There’s something mighty
  jubus about Rube, an’ you want to be careful what you say an’ do afore
  him, the hul on you. It won’t do to trust nobody ’ceptin’ ourselves.
  Now, Sam, you start up the fire, an’, ole woman, you put what’s left
  of them bacon an’ ’taters over. We’ll have more to-morrer, if Jakey
  has good luck to-night.”

  While the preparations for supper were in progress, Matt filled his
  pipe for a fresh smoke, Sam sat on his stool and meditated, and Jake
  disappeared down the carry with his fish-pole on his shoulder. Rube’s
  proposition had suggested an idea to him and he, too, was thinking
  deeply. He went straight to the hatchery, and after watching the carry
  for a few minutes to make sure that he had not been followed by any
  member of the family Jake peeped around the corner of one of the
  buildings and saw Rube in conversation with the superintendent. The
  latter went away after a little while, and then Jake presented himself
  before the watchman.

  “Didn’t I warn you, fair an’ squar’, that you mustn’t none of you come
  prowlin’ about here?” demanded Rube, angrily. “Now clear yourself or
  I’ll tell on you, sure.”

  “You ain’t got nothing to tell, ’cause I ain’t done no damage of no
  sort,” answered Jake, with a grin.

  “But I wouldn’t be afeared to bet that you’re goin’ to. I wouldn’t
  trust none of you as fur as I could sling a meetin’ house. No, I
  wouldn’t.”

  “Well, pap said he wouldn’t trust you nuther, so I reckon we’re about
  even on that p’int,” said Jake with another grin.

  “What for wouldn’t he trust me?” asked Rube, in an astonished tone.

  “’Cause he says you think you are mighty smart, tryin’ to get them
  fine guns into your own hands so’t you can pocket the hul of the
  reward an’ never give us none of it. That’s what you’re up to, Rube,
  an’ we know it.”

  “Tain’t nuther,” said the man, indignantly.

  “Well, you can’t never make nothing by coaxin’ pap to give up them
  guns; I can tell you that much. Say,” added Jake, drawing a step or
  two nearer to Rube and speaking in low and confidential tones, “you
  won’t never tell nobody if I say something to you, will you?”

  “No, I won’t,” replied Rube, lowering his own voice almost to a
  whisper.

  “You won’t never tell pap nor mam nor Sam, nor none of ’em, honor
  bright an’ sure hope to die?”

  “No, I won’t,” repeated Rube.

  “Say honor bright; ’cause if you ever let on to Sam what I say to you,
  he’ll tell pap, an’ pap, he’ll wear a hickory out on me.”

  “Honor bright I won’t tell,” said Rube.

  “Say,” whispered Jake. “I’ve done a heap fur pap fust an’ last, an’ he
  ain’t never give me nothin’ fur it, ’ceptin’ that ole canvas canoe I
  brung home to-day. I sold them poles that he stole from Joe Wayring
  an’ his crowd down on Sherwin’s pond, an’ he never once said to me:
  ’Jakey, here’s a couple of dollars to buy you a pair of shoes agin
  winter comes.’ Now I say that was mighty stingy in pap. He says them
  guns may stay where they be till they sp’ile, afore you or any body
  ’ceptin’ himself shall make any money outen ’em.”

  Jake could see by the way Rube hung his head that he was sorry to hear
  this. After a long pause he looked up and said:

  “Well, what of it?”

  “Well,” continued Jake, “I can’t see the use of them guns layin’ there
  doin’ nobody no good, when I might jest as well have the reward that’s
  been offered fur ’em.”

  “No more do I,” assented Rube.

  “Say,” Jake went on, in a still lower whisper, “I’ll tell you where
  the guns be if you will give me half the money an’ never let on to
  none of ’em that I told you.”

  “It’s a bargain,” said Rube, extending his hand.

  “An’ you’ll give me the fifty dollars, right into my own fingers, an’
  keep still about it afterwards?”

  “I will.”

  “Say. ’Twouldn’t be safe fur me to show you where the guns is hid,
  ’cause the old man is like Joe Wayring an’ the rest of them fellers.
  He’s got a habit of snoopin’ around where he ain’t wanted, an’ jest as
  like’s not he’d see me while I was a showin’ you; so I’ll have to tell
  you. Say! You know where the creek is that leads—Wait a minute.”

  When Jake had said this much it suddenly occurred to him that perhaps
  his father was at that very moment “snoopin’ around” where he was not
  wanted, and he thought it best to satisfy himself on that point. He
  was pretty certain that he would see trouble if any member of his
  family caught him in close conversation with the watchman. It was well
  for Jake that he took this precaution, for when he looked cautiously
  around the corner of the building he discovered a familiar figure
  coming down the carry with long and rapid strides. It was plain that
  he was fearful of being seen and followed, for he stopped every few
  rods to look behind him.

  “There comes that Sam of our’n,” said Jake, in an excited whisper.
  “Now, Rube, you watch an’ see which end of the buildin’ he’s p’inting
  fur, an’ I’ll slip around t’other end an’ make a break fur home
  through the bresh. Say, Rube, don’t let on, an’ I’ll see you some
  other day.”

  Jake caught up his fish-pole, which he had leaned against the side of
  the hatchery, and stood ready to run in either direction, while Rube
  moved slowly along the bank of the outlet until he could see the
  carry.

  “Now, then!” he exclaimed, as soon as Sam came within speaking
  distance, “you ain’t wanted here, nor none of your tribe. So toddle
  right back where you come from.” At the same time he made a quick
  motion with his hand, which Jake saw and understood. He darted around
  the upper end of the building and was out of sight in an instant.

  “You heared me, I reckon,” continued Rube, seeing that Sam quickened
  his pace instead of turning about and retracing his steps.

  “You can’t fish here, ’cause it’s agin the law, an’ you might as well
  understand it first as last. Want to speak to me? Hurry up, then, for
  I ain’t got no time to fool away.”

  Imagine the watchman’s surprise when he learned that Sam had come
  there with the same proposition that his brother had made him a few
  minutes before. He gave the very same reasons for it, made the same
  stipulations regarding the division of the reward, and exacted the
  same promise of secrecy; but he did not tell Rube where the guns were
  concealed. Just as he got to that point a step sounded within the
  superintendent’s room, and a hand was laid upon the latch. Before the
  door opened Sam, who had reasons of his own for not wishing to meet
  the superintendent face to face, had vanished in the fast-gathering
  twilight.



                              CHAPTER IV.
                           A NIGHT ADVENTURE.


  “I don’t see no trout to go with the bacon an’ ’taters that your ma is
  cookin’ fur supper,” observed Matt Coyle, who was sitting in the
  doorway of the shanty smoking his pipe. “You don’t often come back
  without something to show fur your time an’ trampin’.”

  “No, ’cause I don’t often have a watchman to tell me that I shan’t
  fish where I please,” replied Jake, as he leaned his pole against one
  end of the cabin and disappeared through the door. “Rube’s down there
  to the hatchery, an’ he’s mighty pertic’lar fur a man who says he’s
  down on every body, same as we be.”

  “Don’t you b’lieve a word of that story,” said Matt, earnestly.
  “’Cause if you do, you will get into trouble, sure’s you’re a foot
  high. There ain’t a word of truth in it.”

  “Then what made him tell it?” asked Jake.

  “I don’t know, less’n he’s been sent out by Hanson or some of the
  summer boarders to keep an eye on us,” answered Matt. “I b’lieve that
  if he could find them guns he’d have the hul kit an’ bilin’ of us
  ’rested before mornin’. See Sam anywhere?”

  Jake replied that he had not.

  “Well, he’s went up there too, I reckon, ’cause I saw him goin’ off
  with his pole onto his shoulder. He’ll come pokin’ back directly.”

  “I know he went up to the hatchery,” said Jake, to himself. “An’
  that’s what bothers me. He knows well enough that Rube wouldn’t let
  him drop a line into the water, so what did he go up there fur? I do
  think in my soul that Sam will bear a little watchin’.”

  “There’s something mighty strange an’ curious ’bout them two boys of
  our’n goin’ up to the outlet to fish when they know’d that the
  watchman was there,” thought Matt. “’Tain’t like them at all, that way
  of doin’ ain’t, an’ it’s my opinion that they are up to something.
  Well, if they can get the start of their pap they’re smarter than I
  think they be.”

  Up to this time Matt and his family had had perfect confidence in one
  another. What one knew the others knew. If their domestic life had not
  been altogether harmonious, they had at least managed to get on very
  well together, and had stood shoulder to shoulder against the common
  foe—the landlords and guides, who were determined to drive them out of
  the country. But Rube’s offer to return the stolen property Matt had
  in his possession and divide the reward had changed all that. The
  rogues had not yet fallen out with one another, but they were in a
  fair way to do so, and when that happened honest men were likely to
  get their dues. It was not long before a series of incidents occurred
  which brought about an open rupture.

  By the time Sam made his appearance, supper was ready. The boys, who
  were usually talkative, had nothing to say while the meal was in
  progress, and that was enough to confirm Matt’s suspicions.

  “They’ve got something on their minds, both of ’em, an’ I know it,”
  said he, to himself. “Jakey, have you made up your decision where
  you’re goin’ to get some grub fur us?” he added, aloud.

  Jake replied that he had not given the matter a moment’s thought. He
  intended to do as he had always done—stop at the first house he came
  too, and if he found dogs there, or the smokehouse too strongly
  fastened, he would go on to the next.

  “I don’t reckon I shall be back much afore mornin’,” said he. “We’re a
  mighty fur ways from where any guides live, an’ I may have to go cl’ar
  to Injun Lake afore I can get any grub.”

  “Then you’ll get ketched sure,” said the old woman.

  “Hadn’t you better take Sam along to help?” inquired Matt.

  “No, I won’t,” answered Jake, promptly. “He’d be that skeared that he
  wouldn’t dare leave the boat; so what help would he be to me, I’d like
  to know. I don’t want him along.”

  Jake had always refused to permit his brother to accompany him on his
  numerous foraging expeditions, and Matt had never thought any thing of
  it until this particular night; but now his refusal made him distrust
  Jake. He believed that the boy had private reasons for wishing to go
  on his dangerous errand alone, and told himself that it might be a
  good plan to follow him and see where he went and what he did while he
  was gone. So when Jake, after eating his share of the bacon and
  potatoes, hauled me out of the corner and left the cabin without
  saying a word to any body his father got upon his feet, paused long
  enough to fill his pipe, and also went out into the darkness. He did
  not follow Jake very far, however, because his inherent laziness
  proved stronger than his lack of confidence in the boy, and, besides,
  the latter did not do any thing out of the way. He held straight for
  Deer Lake outlet, but instead of following the trail he struck off
  through the woods, avoiding the hatchery and the watchman who kept
  guard over it. Then Matt turned about and went back to the shanty,
  while Jake launched the canvas canoe and boldly set out on his
  dangerous mission. I have often wondered at the nerve the young
  reprobate displayed in going off alone on these midnight plundering
  expeditions. He seemed to think no more of it than you would of going
  fishing. On this particular night Jake was not lonesome, for he had
  some very agreeable thoughts for company; and as he communed aloud
  with them I learned, somewhat to my surprise, that he had hopes and
  aspirations as well as some other boys of my acquaintance.

  “I tell you I have lived this way about long enough,” soliloquized
  Jake, as he headed me across the outlet and paddled slowly along close
  to the shore and in the shadow of the overhanging trees. “If I’m ever
  goin’ to be any body an’ make any money, now’s my time to begin. So
  long as I stay with pap, jest so long will I be hounded an’ drove
  about from pillar to post by them guides an’ landlords, who won’t let
  me stay nowhere. I jest know that pap’s goin’ to see trouble all along
  of them guns that he’s got hid in the bresh, but I can’t see why I
  should be ’rested too. I didn’t hook the guns, an’ that’s what made me
  talk to Rube the way I did. If he will go halvers with me on the
  reward, I’ll get fifty dollars, an’ that will be enough so’t I can
  start out on my own hook. If Rube wants to earn the extra hundred by
  havin’ pap ’rested arterwards—why, that’s something I can’t help. I’ve
  got a good boat, one that I can tote anywhere through the woods, an’
  what’s to hender me from strikin’ out fur myself this winter? I know
  where to go to find good trappin’ grounds, an’ I’ll bet that when
  spring comes I’ll have more money than I will if I stay hangin’ round
  here with pap. I ain’t goin’ to be shut up in jail for something I
  didn’t do, an’ that’s all there is about _that_.”

  Jake continued to talk to himself in this way during the whole of the
  hour and a half that it took him to paddle from the mouth of the
  outlet to the landing in front of the first house above the hatchery.
  I could not see that there was any dwelling there, for the night was
  pitch dark; but Jake knew where he was, and I learned from some
  snatches of his soliloquy which I overheard that the guide to whom the
  premises belonged was a thrifty man and a good provider for his
  family. If he could only get into his smokehouse or effect an entrance
  into his cellar, Jake was sure that he could load his canoe without
  the least trouble. As the guide was neither a “cruster” nor a
  “skin-butcher,” he did not keep dogs, but he had a stalwart son who
  took care of the little farm during his father’s absence, and Jake
  knew that he would see fun if that boy heard him prowling around.

  Jake did not make the painter fast to any thing, for he did not want
  to lose time in casting it off in case he were called upon to make a
  hasty retreat. He simply drew me part way out of the water, so that I
  would not float off with the current, and after that threw a couple of
  bags over his shoulder and disappeared in the bushes. Then began that
  series of incidents to which I referred a little while ago, and which
  not only brought about an open rupture in Matt Coyle’s family, but
  broke it up as completely as the guides and landlords could have
  wished. I heard all about them before I was stowed away in Joe
  Wayring’s bedroom to await the coming of the next boating season, and
  consequently I am able to describe them to you in the order in which
  they occurred.

  Jake’s first care, when he reached the clearing, was to give the house
  a good looking over in order to make sure that all the inmates had
  gone to bed. He could not see a light in any of the windows, and
  neither could he hear any one moving about on the inside. He did not
  look for enemies outside the house, and consequently he did not see
  the two dark figures that sprang quickly behind a corner of the cellar
  the moment he came into view. But the figures were there, and they saw
  every thing Jake did.

  Having satisfied himself that the family had all retired, Jake made
  his way to the cellar, which was not built under the house, but fifty
  yards in the rear of it. It was a square hole in the ground, walled up
  with logs instead of stone, and covered with a peaked roof to shed the
  rain. Four steps led down to the door, which Jake found to be fastened
  with a padlock. But he expected to find it so, and had come prepared
  for it. He drew from one of the bags a long iron strap, like those
  that sometimes are used for hanging heavy doors, thrust one end of it
  under the hasp and, with a sudden jerk, pulled out the nearest staple.
  This being done, the door swung open of its own accord, and Jake went
  into the cellar.

  Not a single ray of light came in at the door, and Jake, having
  neglected to bring with him a supply of matches, was obliged to grope
  about in the dark. He wasn’t searching for any thing in particular. He
  did not care what he found, so long as it was something that was good
  to eat, and with such articles the cellar appeared to be abundantly
  stocked. He found a generous piece of bacon, half a bushel of
  potatoes, as many turnips, a small crock of butter, and several jars
  of pickles, all of which he bundled into his bag without the least
  regard for order or neatness. His sole duty was to forage for
  provisions; it was no concern of his how the things looked when he got
  them home.

  “I reckon I’ve got about all I can tote down to the boat at one load,
  an’ so I’ll quit,” said Jake, moving his hand along the hanging-shelf
  to make sure that he had found all the things that had been placed
  upon it. “If them folks of our’n want any more grub they can steal it
  theirselves, fur I am getting tired of the—Well, I do think in my
  soul. What’s that?”

  As Jake shouldered his well-filled bags he turned toward the door,
  only to find it blocked by the two figures who had sought concealment
  behind the cellar. They had come down the steps so cautiously that
  Jake did not know there was any one near him. Of course he was greatly
  alarmed, and visions of the New London penitentiary rose up before
  him; for Jake knew very well that nocturnal house-breaking, with the
  intent to commit a felony, constitutes burglary, and burglary is a
  State’s prison offense. The light was so dim that he could not see the
  features of the men who blocked the doorway and cut off his escape,
  but beyond a doubt one of them must be the son of the guide he had
  robbed.

  “I couldn’t help it, Ike, sure’s I live an’ breathe I couldn’t help
  it” stammered Jake, as soon as he could speak. “We ain’t got a bite to
  eat in the shanty, an’ no way to earn any, seein’ that the folks about
  here won’t let us be guides and make an honest livin’, like we want to
  do. I’ll give up every thing I’ve got into the bags if—”

  “Keep your plunder, friend,” said a voice that Jake did not remember
  to have heard before. “We don’t own it, and neither are we officers.
  We don’t care how much you steal. Where’s your boat?”

  “Down to the beach,” replied Jake, who thought this a little ahead of
  any thing he had ever heard of before.

  “Well, do you want to earn five dollars?” asked the man, in hurried
  tones. “Then shoulder your bags again and come on. We want you to set
  us across the lake.”

  Jake obeyed the order to “come on,” but he did it with fear and
  trembling. How did he know but this was a ruse on the part of the two
  men to get him out of the cellar so that they could both pounce upon
  him? He followed them up the steps because he was afraid to hang back;
  but when he got to the top he watched for an opportunity to throw down
  his bags and take to his heels. But first he took as good a look at
  the men as he could in the darkness. They both wore slouch hats and
  long dark-colored ulsters, and each carried a small traveling bag in
  his hand. In appearance, they were not unlike the sportsmen and
  tourists who patronized the Indian Lake hotels in summer. They tried
  to make Jake believe that that was what they were; but the boy was
  sharp enough to discover a flaw in their story at once.

  “We’ve been spending a month up at the hotel hunting and fishing,”
  said the one who had thus far done all the talking. “This afternoon we
  received a telegram urging our immediate return to New London, and we
  are trying to get there now.”

  “There ain’t no huntin’ up to Injun Lake this time of the year, ’cause
  it’s agin the law,” said Jake, to himself. “An’ this ain’t the best
  way to get to New London nuther, if they’re in sich a hurry as they
  make out. Why didn’t they hire a wagon to take ’em to the railroad?
  It’s a mighty fur ways through the woods,” he added, aloud, “an’ you
  won’t get there half so quick as the cars could take you.”

  “It is too late to think about that now,” was the rather impatient
  reply. “We’ve got started, and we can’t waste time in going back. Can
  you set us across the lake?”

  “I reckon,” answered Jake. “But I shall have to carry you one at a
  time, ’cause my boat is small, an’ won’t hold up three fellers at a
  load.”

  While this conversation was going on Jake, who did not believe a word
  of the story to which he had listened, was watching for a chance to
  slip away in the darkness; but the men, as if divining his intention,
  walked one on each side of him, and even took hold of his arms to help
  him over the rough places. When they reached the woods one went on
  ahead and the other brought up the rear; so there was no opportunity
  for escape.

  “There’s the boat.” said Jake, at length. “Now which one of you shall
  I take over first? An’ where’s that five dollars you promised me fur
  settin’ you across?”

  The men did not reply immediately. They struck matches on the sleeves
  of their ulsters and examined me closely, all the while keeping up an
  animated conversation in tones so low that I did not think Jake could
  hear it; but subsequent events proved that he heard every word of it,
  and knew how to profit by the information he gained from it. The
  course of action he instantly marked out for himself, and which he
  successfully carried into execution, astonished me beyond measure.

  “Say, Jim,” said one of the men, fumbling in his pocket for another
  match. “This is a cranky looking craft, and I am afraid to trust
  myself in her. We couldn’t swim ten feet to save our lives, and both
  these gripsacks have specie enough in them to sink them to the bottom,
  if she should happen to capsize with us. Say, friend, how wide is the
  lake at this point?”

  “About a mile—mebbe more,” answered Jake.

  “Is the water very deep?”

  “Well, middlin’ deep. On the day pap ketched a salmon trout here he
  let out seventy foot of line an’ never teched bottom. I reckon that’s
  water enough to drown a feller, less’n he’s a tolerable fine swimmer.”

  The men evidently thought so too. They held another consultation, and
  had almost made up their minds that the safest thing they could do
  would be to stay ashore and walk around the lake, when Jake broke in
  with—

  “I’ll tell you what I’ve heard pap say more’n once. If you are afeared
  that a boat is too cranky fur you, an’ that she’ll spill you out, all
  you’ve got to do is to load her down most to the water’s edge, an’
  then she’ll go along as stiddy as a rockin’ cheer. The water ain’t
  over your heads right here, an’ if you don’t like the look of things
  arter we all get in, why I can bring you back to shore mighty easy.”

  One of the men protested that the plan wouldn’t work at all, but his
  more venturesome companion declared that it was worth trying, adding—

  “We can’t manage the canoe, and the boy will have to go. If he takes
  us over one at a time, we shall lose valuable moments. Jump in, Jim.
  Where did you want to sit, boy? In the middle, I suppose?”

  “I reckon,” replied Jake. “But afore we start, I want to see the color
  of them five dollars you promised me for takin’ you over.”

  The man who had been called Jim uttered an exclamation of impatience
  and opened his traveling bag, while his companion struck another
  match. By the aid of the light it threw out Jake caught a glimpse of
  the contents of the valise. It was a very brief one, but the sight on
  which his gaze rested during the instant that the match blazed up and
  then went out almost took his breath away. The little bag was filled
  to the very top with glittering silver pieces. Never but once in his
  life before had Jake Coyle seen so much money, and that was in the
  front window of a New London broker’s office.

  Jim caught up several of the coins, and as the light emitted by the
  match died away just then he counted out Jake’s five dollars in the
  dark. But the boy knew they were all there, for he felt them as they
  were dropped into his eager palm. He shut his fingers tightly upon
  them, and instead of putting them into his pocket he thrust them into
  the mouth of the sack that contained the bacon and potatoes he had
  stolen in the cellar.

  “They might slip outen my pocket if we should happen to get capsized,
  but they’ll be safe there,” chuckled Jake. “T’other side of the lake
  is a mighty jubus place to land a canoe on a dark night like this one
  is, ’cause there’s so many snags there to pester a feller.”

  “Now, then, what’s keeping you?” demanded Jim, impatiently. “We’ve
  wasted too much time already.”

  “Well, why don’t you pile in?” asked Jake, in reply. “I’ll shove the
  canoe out till she floats, an’ then I’ll step in myself. I ain’t
  afeared of gettin’ my stockin’s wet.”

  In accordance with these instructions Jim took possession of the bow,
  his companion seated himself in the stern, and Jake shoved me from the
  shore. When the water was a little more than knee-deep, he stepped
  aboard and took up his paddle. His added weight made me settle down
  until the water came within two or three inches of the top of my
  gunwale, and I expected that Jake would stop and ask his passengers
  how they “liked the look of things” now that they were afloat; but he
  did nothing of the kind, for it was not on his programme to take them
  back to shore after he had got fairly started with them. He dipped his
  paddle into the water and with a few quick, strong strokes left the
  trees on the bank out of sight. If I could have spoken to them I could
  have quieted the fears of Jake’s timid passengers in very few words. I
  did not believe that the three of them weighed much more than half my
  floating capacity, which was eight hundred pounds.

  The lake wasn’t an inch over five hundred yards wide at this point,
  and neither was the water more than fifteen or twenty feet deep. Jake
  was not more than ten minutes in coming within sight of the opposite
  shore, and then he began twisting about, looking first one side of his
  bow passenger and then the other, as if he were searching for
  something. The beach was, as he had said, a bad place to make a
  landing on a dark night. In fact there was no beach there; nothing but
  a low, muddy shore, which was thickly lined with gnarled and twisted
  roots and sharp-pointed snags. It was a fine place for an accident,
  even in broad daylight; but Jake could have passed through in perfect
  safety if he had been so minded. Instead of that, he picked out the
  wickedest looking sawyer in the lot and headed me straight for it,
  with longer and stronger strokes. Jim, who was seated in the bow,
  could not see what he was doing, and the attention of the man who
  occupied the stern was so fully taken up with other matters (keeping
  his balance, for one) that he could not think of any thing else. While
  I was wondering what Jake was going to do, he ran my bow high and dry
  upon the leaning sawyer; and in less time than it takes to tell it I
  rolled completely over, and came right side up, turning Jake and his
  passengers out into the cold waters of the lake.

  “Human natur’!” sputtered Jake, who was the first to rise to the
  surface. “What’s the matter with you feller in the bow? Why didn’t you
  tell me that the snag was there, so’t I could have kept cl’ar of it?”

  I knew now what Jake Coyle’s plan was, and felt the keenest anxiety
  for the two men who had been so unexpectedly dumped over-board, for I
  had heard them say that they could not swim ten feet to save their
  lives. But fortunately they could swim a little. Their heads bobbed up
  almost as quick as Jake’s did, and as soon as they had taken in the
  situation, they struck out for the snag. They were greatly alarmed,
  although, as I afterward learned, there was not the slightest reason
  for it. If they had allowed their feet to sink toward the bottom, they
  would have found that the water at that place was not more than
  shoulder-deep.

  “How could I be expected to act as lookout when I was sitting with my
  back to the front end of the boat?” demanded Jim, as soon as he could
  speak. “Where’s my grip-sack?”

  “And mine?” exclaimed his companion. “Boy, have you got ’em?”

  “I ain’t got nothin’,” answered Jake. “Didn’t you hold fast to ’em
  when the boat capsized? Then they went to the bottom of the lake, most
  likely, an’ you won’t never see ’em agin, ’cause the water’s more’n
  four hundred feet deep right here, an’ the mud goes down a hundred
  feet furder.”

  I had floated off the sawyer the instant I was relieved of the weight
  of my three passengers, and the current, which at this point set
  pretty strongly toward the outlet, carried me within reach of Jake
  Coyle’s arm. As he spoke, he gave me a sly but vigorous push, which
  sent me out of sight of the two men who were clinging to the sawyer,
  but not so far away but that I could hear every word they said. When
  they found that their valises had gone to the bottom, their fear gave
  place to rage, and they fell to abusing Jake and each other.

  “I knew we would come to grief if we got into that canoe, but you
  insisted on it, and now you see what we have made by it,” said one of
  the men after he had sworn himself out of breath. “How are we going to
  get to Canada when we haven’t got five dollars between us? We’ve put
  ourselves in a fair way of going to prison, and we haven’t a thing to
  show for it.”

  “Hold your tongue!” exclaimed the other, fiercely. “Do you want to
  give yourself away to this boy? Say, Tommy, or Julius, or whatever
  your name is, are you good at diving?”

  “Never could dive wuth a cent,” declared Jake, who often boasted that
  he could bring up bottom at a greater depth than any other boy in the
  State. “What do you reckon you want me to do—try to get them
  grip-sacks fur you? There ain’t a livin’ man can go down to the bottom
  of the mud where them things is by this time. Was there much into
  ’em?”

  “_Was_ there? Well, I should—”

  “Hold on!” interrupted Jim. “We’ll not give the money up until we have
  made an effort to recover it. We’ll keep this boy with us until
  morning, and then we’ll fix up some sort of a drag and see what we can
  do with it. I don’t believe that the water is as deep—Here, you
  villain, what sort of a game have you been playing on us? The water
  isn’t over five feet deep. I’m standing on bottom now.”

  “Wal, stand there long’s you like,” replied Jake, who all this while
  had been holding fast to another snag a little distance away. “I won’t
  charge you no rent fur it. You stole that there money somewheres, an’
  I know right where the constable lives. ’Twon’t take me long—”

  A vivid light shot out into the darkness, a water-proof cartridge
  cracked spitefully, and a bullet from Jim’s revolver whistled
  dangerously near to Jake Coyle’s head.



                               CHAPTER V.
                       JAKE COYLE’S SILVER MINE.


  “Human natur’!” yelled Jake, when the ball sung through the air close
  to his ear. “I’m shot! Whoop! I’m killed.”

  He let go his hold upon the snag and fell back into the water with a
  sounding splash; but rising with the buoyancy of a cork, and finding,
  to his astonishment, that he was not at all injured, he swam rapidly
  in my direction, but so silently that I could not hear the slightest
  ripple. The robbers, if such they were, were struck dumb by the
  alarming sounds that had been called forth by their random shot; but
  at length one of them broke the silence.

  “I hope you’re satisfied,” said he, in savage tones. “You have added
  murder to burglary, and now we are in for it, sure. I’m off this very
  minute.”

  “Where are you going, Tony?” asked his companion, in pleading tones.

  “I’m going to get ashore and strike out through the woods the best I
  know how. I don’t care where I bring up, so long as I put a safe
  distance between myself and the guides who will be on our trail at
  daylight. They’ll track a fellow down as a hound would.”

  “Are you going to desert me? I can’t swim ashore.”

  “Then walk. The water isn’t up to your neck.”

  “But the mud! What if it should be a quicksand?”

  “The mud isn’t an inch deep. That boy told us a pack of lies from
  beginning to end. He capsized us on purpose; but I am sorry you shot
  him. Come on, if you are going with me.”

  “Must we leave the money behind after all the risk we ran to get it?”

  “The money can stay where it is till the rust eats it up for all I
  care,” replied Tony, who was very much alarmed. “I wouldn’t stay here
  a minute longer after what you have done for all the money there is in
  America.”

  “But there are six thousand dollars in those grip-sacks,” protested
  Jim, “and that amount of cash don’t grow on every bush.”

  “I know it; but there’s no help for it that I can see. You have
  knocked us out of a fortune by being so quick with your revolver.”

  Here the speaker broke out into a volley of the heaviest kind of
  oaths, and Jake Coyle sat composedly in the canvas canoe listening to
  him. The boy’s courage came back to him the instant he found himself
  in the boat with the double paddle in his hand, and instead of making
  haste to return to the other shore, as I thought he would, he kept
  still and waited to see what his late passengers were going to do.
  Although he was not more than twenty yards from them they could not
  see him, for, as I have said, the night was pitch dark.

  “I knowed by the way them fellers went snoopin’ around that suller,
  an’ by the funny story they tried to cram down my throat, that they
  wasn’t sportsmen like they pertended to be,” soliloquized Jake, giving
  himself an approving slap on the knee. “An’ I knowed the minute I seed
  that money that it wasn’t their’n, an’ that’s why I upsot ’em into the
  lake. Whoop-pee! I’ve got a silver mind up there by that snag, an’
  to-morrer night I’ll slip up an’ work it.”

  Hardly able to control himself, so great was his delight over the
  success of his hastily conceived plans, Jake sat and listened while
  the robbers floundered through the water toward the shore; and when a
  crashing in the bushes told him that they had taken to the woods, he
  headed me for the place where he had left the stolen provisions. Six
  thousand dollars! Jake could hardly believe it. It was a princely
  fortune in his estimation, and it was all his own; for no one except
  himself and the robbers knew where it was, and the latter would not
  dare come after it, believing, as they did, that their chance shot had
  proved fatal to Jake. It would be an easy matter for the boy to bring
  the two grip-sacks to the surface by diving for them, but what should
  he do with the money after he got hold of it? Unless he went to some
  place where he was not known, it would be of no more use to him than
  those fine guns were to his father. There was but one store within a
  radius of fifty miles at which he could spend any of it, and Jake knew
  it would not be safe to go there. The store was located at Indian
  Lake, and that was the headquarters of the guides who were so hostile
  to his father’s family.

  “It’s a p’int that will need a heap of studyin’ to straighten it out,”
  thought Jake, putting a little more energy into his strokes with the
  double paddle. “But I’m rich, an’ I needn’t stop with pap no longer’n
  I’ve a mind to. That’s a comfortin’ idee. Wouldn’t him an’ Sam be
  hoppin’ if they knowed what had happened to-night? I don’t reckon I’d
  best have any thing more to say to Rube about them guns. I don’t care
  for fifty dollars long’s I got six thousand waitin’ for me.”

  Jake found the bags where he had left them, and also the five dollars
  which the robbers had paid him for ferrying them across the lake. He
  loaded the bags into the canoe, after putting the money into his
  pocket, and set out for home, which he reached without any further
  adventure. He took a good deal of pains to avoid the watchman at the
  hatchery, although there was really no need of it. Rube knew well
  enough that the food Matt’s wife served up to him three times a day
  had never been paid for. The first words he uttered when he presented
  himself at the breakfast table the next morning proved as much.

  “Beats the world how you folks keep yourselves in grub so easy,” said
  he, as he drew one of the stools up to the well-filled board. “I never
  see you do no work, an’ yet you never go hungry. Well, I don’t know’s
  it’s any of my business; but I’d like mighty well to make it my
  business to ’rest them two robbers that’s prowlin’ about in these
  woods.”

  “What robbers?” inquired Matt; while Jake, taken by surprise, bent his
  head lower over his cracked plate and trembled in every limb.

  “I don’t know’s I can give you any better idee of it than by readin’ a
  little scrap in a paper that Swan give me early this morning,”
  answered Rube, pushing back his stool and pulling the paper in
  question from his pocket.

  “Swan!” ejaculated Matt, his face betraying the utmost consternation.
  “Has he been round here?”

  Rube replied very calmly that the guide had been around there, adding—

  “Him an’ a whole passel of other guides an’ constables come to see me
  this morning at the hatchery afore sun-up. They told me all about it
  an’ give me this paper. They was a lookin’ for the robbers.”

  “An’ don’t you know that they’re lookin’ for me too?” exclaimed Matt,
  reproachfully. “An you never come to wake me up so’t I could take to
  the bresh an’ hide? Spos’n I’d been ketched all along of your not
  bringin’ me word?”

  “But you see I knowed you wasn’t in no danger,” replied the watchman.
  “They wouldn’t be likely to look for you in my house, an’ me holdin’
  the position of watchman at the State hatchery, would they? Besides,
  they don’t care for you now. They’re after a bigger reward than has
  been offered for you. There’s six hundred dollars to be made by
  ’restin’ them robbers, an’ that’s what brung Swan an’ his crowd up
  here so early. They tracked the robbers through the woods as far as
  Haskinses’, Swan and the rest of the guides did, an’ there they found
  a steeple pulled outen the suller door an’—Hallo! What’s the matter of
  you, Jake?”

  “There ain’t nothin’ the matter of me as I knows on,” said the boy,
  faintly.

  “I thought you sorter acted like you was chokin’. Well, they routed up
  Haskinses’ folks, an’ when Miss Haskins come to go into the suller she
  said she had lost some ’taters, turnups, bacon, butter, and pickles,”
  continued Rube; and as he said this he ran his eyes over the table and
  saw before him every one of the articles he had enumerated. “Miss
  Haskins allowed that the robbers must a bust open the door to get grub
  to eat while they was layin’ around in the bresh. Mebbe they did an’
  mebbe they didn’t; but that’s nothin’ to me. They couldn’t track the
  robbers no furder’n the suller; but they’re bound to come up with ’em,
  sooner or later. Townies ain’t as good at hidin’ in the woods as you
  be, Matt.”

  The squatter grinned his appreciation of the complaint, and Rube
  proceeded to unfold his paper. When he found the dispatch of which he
  was in search, he read it in a low monotone, without any rising or
  falling inflection or the least regard for pauses. It ran as follows:

                        “BANK THIEVES GET $6,000.

  “Irvington, Aug. 3.—The cashier of the First National Bank went to
  dinner about noon yesterday, after closing and locking the vault and
  doors of the building. Thieves entered the bank by a back door and
  secured about $6,000, mostly in specie, which had been left in trays
  just inside the iron railings. Two strangers wearing long dark coats
  and black felt hats were seen coming out of the alley about the time
  the money was supposed to have been stolen, and suspicion rests upon
  them. The sheriff is in hot pursuit, and the thieves have already been
  traced as far as Indian Lake. That is bad news. The Indian Lake
  vagabonds will give them aid and comfort as long as their money holds
  out, and the officers will have an all-winter’s job to run them to
  earth. A reward of six hundred dollars has been offered for the
  apprehension of the robbers.”

  Rube folded the paper again and said, as he winked knowingly at Matt
  Coyle—

  “You see that Swan and the rest of the guides have got bigger game
  than you to look after, an’ if they’ve got an all-winter’s job onto
  their hands, you’re safe, so fur as bein’ took up is concerned; I mean
  that they won’t go out of their way to hunt you up.”

  Having finished his breakfast Rube took possession of one of the
  shake-downs, while Matt and his family adjourned to the open air to
  give him a chance to sleep.

  “The Injun Lake vagabones will give ’em aid an’ comfort as long’s
  their money holds out,” quoted Matt, seating himself on a convenient
  log and knitting his shaggy brows as if he were revolving some deep
  problem in his mind. “That means us, I reckon; don’t you? I’d give ’em
  all the aid an’ comfort they wanted if I could only find ’em, I bet
  you. I wish we were livin’ in the woods now like we used to. We’d
  stand enough sight better chance of meetin’ ’em than we do here so
  nigh the hatchery.”

  “An’ what’s the reason we ain’t livin’ in the woods, quiet and
  peaceable?” exclaimed Sam. “It’s all along of Joe Wayring an’ the rest
  of them Mt. Airy fellers who burned us outen house an’ home, so’t
  we’ve got to stay around the settlements whether we want to or not.”

  The mention of Joe Wayring’s name seemed to set Matt Coyle beside
  himself with rage. He jumped to his feet and strode back and forth in
  front of his log, flourishing his arms in the air and uttering threats
  that were enough to make even a canvas canoe tremble with
  apprehension. Why Matt should feel so spiteful against my master I
  could not understand. Joe had no hand in driving him out of Mount
  Airy, neither did he lend the least assistance in destroying Matt’s
  property. The trustees and the guides were the responsible parties,
  but Matt did not give a thought to them. The innocent Joe was the
  object of his wrath, and he promised to visit all sorts of terrible
  punishments upon him at no very distant day.

  “We’ll tie him to a tree an’ larrup him till he’ll wish him an’ his
  crowd had left us alone,” said Matt, in savage tones. “We’ll larn him
  that honest folks ain’t to be drove about like sheep jest ’cause they
  ain’t got no good clothes to w’ar. But six thousand dollars!” added
  Matt, coming back to the point from which he started. “That’s a power
  of money, ain’t it?”

  “Six hundred you mean,” suggested Sam.

  “That’s the reward that’s been offered for them robbers.”

  “Who said any thing about the reward,” exclaimed Matt, almost
  fiercely. “I wasn’t thinkin’ of the reward. I was thinkin’ of the six
  thousand.”

  “Wouldn’t you try to ’rest ’em, pap, if you should find ’em?” inquired
  Sam.

  “Not if I could make more by givin’ ’em aid an’ comfort, I wouldn’t.
  Say,” added Matt, giving Sam a poke in the ribs with his finger. “Six
  hundred dollars is nothin’ alongside of six thousand, is it? Them
  fellers will have to camp somewhere, if they stay in the woods, won’t
  they? An’ is there a man in the Injun Lake country that’s better’n I
  be at findin’ camps an’ sneakin’ up on ’em? Jakey, go into the shanty
  an’ bring out that canvas canoe of your’n. Go easy, ’cause Rube wants
  to sleep after bein’ up all night. More’n that, I want him to sleep;
  for I don’t care to have him know what I am up to. I suspicion that
  he’s watchin’ me.”

  “Where be you goin’, pap?” asked Jake, in some alarm.

  “Up to Haskinses’ to take a look around his landin’,” replied Matt.
  “You didn’t see any thing of them robbers while you was workin’ about
  that suller, did you, Jakey?”

  “Didn’t see hide nor hair of nobody,” was the answer. “If I’d seen ’em
  I’d been that scared that I never would quit a runnin’.”

  “Well, they was up there somewheres, ’cause Swan an’ his crowd tracked
  ’em that fur. But they couldn’t foller ’em no furder, an’ that proves
  that the robbers must have crossed the lake right there.”

  “I don’t reckon they did, pap,” replied Jake, whose uneasiness and
  anxiety were so apparent that it was a wonder his father’s suspicions
  were not aroused. “’Cause where did they get a boat to take ’em over?
  Haskins don’t own but one, an’ he’s got that up to Injun Lake.”

  “I don’t know nothin’ about that,” answered Matt, doggedly. “Them
  robbers got across the lake somehow, an’ I am sure of it. Leastwise it
  won’t do any harm to slip up there, easy like, an’ look around a bit.
  Go an’ bring out the canoe, Jakey.”

  I did not wonder at the white face the boy brought with him when he
  came into the cabin and took me out of the chimney corner, and neither
  was I much surprised to hear him mutter under his breath—

  “I do wish in my soul that I’d busted a hole into you when I run you
  onto that snag last night. Then pap couldn’t have used you this
  mornin’. I’ll bet he don’t never go out in you no more.”

  “Now, then,” said Matt, “put him together, ready for business—you can
  do it better’n I can—while I go in after my pipe an’ rifle.”

  “Say, Jakey,” said Sam, in a delighted whisper, as Matt tip-toed into
  the cabin, “if pap finds the camp of them robbers won’t we be rich
  folks, though? He ain’t goin’ in fur the reward, pap ain’t. Looks to
  me as though he had got his eye on them six thousand.”

  That was the way it looked to Jake too; and although he knew that his
  father could not find the money, hidden as it was under five feet and
  more of muddy water, he was afraid that he would see something at
  Haskins’ landing that would make him open his eyes. And Jake’s fears
  were realized. In less than an hour after he and his brother put me
  into the water at the head of the outlet, Matt had paddled up to
  Haskins’ landing and was taking in all the signs he found there with
  the eye of an Indian trailer. Nothing escaped his scrutiny. He saw the
  impress of Jake’s bare feet in the mud, the prints of boots, the marks
  of the canvas canoe on the beach, and noted the place where the bags
  had been left while the robbers were being ferried across the lake.
  Then he sat down on a log, smoked a pipe, and thought about it.

  “What was that boy’s notion for tellin’ me that them robbers couldn’t
  have crossed the lake ’cause they didn’t have no boat, do you reckon?”
  said he, to himself. “Come to think of it, he did look kinder queer
  when I said I was goin’ to look about Haskinses’ landin’ jest to see
  what I could find here, and I’ll bet that that boy knows more about
  them robbers than any body else in these woods. He took ’em over,
  Jakey did—all the signs show that. Course he didn’t do it for nothin’,
  so he must have money. Now what’s to be done about it?”

  This was a question upon which the squatter pondered long and deeply.
  If Jake had earned some money the night before, of course Matt ought
  to have the handling of it, for he was the head of the family; but how
  was he going to get it? He knew the boy too well to indulge in the
  hope that he would surrender it on demand, and as for whipping it out
  of him—well, that wouldn’t be so easy, either; for Jake was light of
  foot, and quite as much at home in the woods as his father was. It
  wouldn’t do for Matt to come to an open rupture with his hopeful son,
  for if he did who would steal the bacon and potatoes the next time the
  larder ran low? Sam was too timid to forage in the dark, running the
  risk of encounters with vicious dogs and settlers who might be on the
  watch, and even Matt had no heart for such work. He must bide his time
  and pick Jake’s pocket after he had gone to bed, unless—here the
  squatter got upon his feet, knocked the ashes from his pipe, and
  shoved the canvas canoe out into the lake.

  “Them robbers must have made pretty considerable of a trail, lumberin’
  through the bresh in the dark, an’ what’s to hender me from follerin’
  ’em?” he soliloquized, as he plied the double paddle. “Havin’ been up
  all night they oughter sleep to-day, an’ if I can only find their
  camp—eh?”

  Matt Coyle began building air-castles as these thoughts passed through
  his mind. He paddled directly across the lake, avoiding the snag on
  which I had been overturned the night before, passing over Jake’s
  silver mine, which he might have seen if he had looked into the water,
  and presently he was standing on the spot where the robbers made their
  landing when they waded ashore. Here another surprise awaited him.
  There were no signs to indicate that the canvas canoe had been there
  before, and neither were there any prints of bare feet to be seen.
  Boot-marks were plenty, however, and the ground about them was wet.

  “Now what’s the meanin’ of this yer?” exclaimed Matt, who was greatly
  astonished and bewildered. “What’s the reason Jakey didn’t land his
  passengers on shore ’stead of dumpin’ them in the water? Do you reckon
  he tipped ’em over an’ spilled that money out into the lake? If he
  did, ’taint no use for me to foller the trail any furder.”

  Little dreaming how shrewd a guess he had made, Matt filled his pipe
  and sat down for another smoke. While he was trying to find some
  satisfactory answers to the questions he had propounded to himself, he
  was aroused by a slight splashing in the water, and looked up to see a
  light canoe close upon him. It had rounded the point unseen, and was
  now so near that any attempt at flight or concealment would have been
  useless. So Matt put on a bold face. He arose to his feet with great
  deliberation, picked up his rifle, and rested it in the hollow of his
  arm.

  “No one man in the Injun Lake country can ’rest me,” I heard him say,
  in determined tones, “an’ if that feller knows when he’s well off he
  won’t try it. Well, I do think in my soul! If that ain’t the boy that
  told me to steal Joe Wayring’s boat, I’m a sinner. He’s the very chap
  I want to see, for I’ve got use for him. Hello, there!” he added,
  aloud. “Powerful glad to see you agin, so onexpected like. Come
  ashore.”

  Tom Bigden (for it was he) paused when he heard himself addressed so
  familiarly, and sat in his canoe with his double paddle suspended in
  the air. He gave a quick glance at the tattered, unkempt figure on the
  beach, and with an exclamation of disgust went on his way again.

  “Say,” shouted Matt, in peremptory tones. “Hold on a minute. I want to
  talk to you.”

  “Well, I don’t want to talk to you,” was Tom’s reply. “Mind your own
  business and let your betters alone.”

  If Tom had tried for a week he could not have said any thing that was
  better calculated to make Matt Coyle angry. The latter never
  acknowledged that there was any body in the world better than himself.
  Lazy, shiftless vagabond and thief that he was, he considered himself
  the equal of any industrious, saving and honest guide in the country.

  “Who’s my betters?” Matt almost yelled. “Not you, I’d have you know. I
  can have you ’rested before this time to-morrer, if I feel like it,
  an’ I will, too, if you throw on any more of your ’ristocratic airs
  with me. Mind that, while you’re talkin’ about bein’ ‘my betters.’”

  “Why, you—you villain,” exclaimed Tom, who could not find words strong
  enough to express his surprise and indignation. “How dare you talk to
  me in that way?”

  “No more villain than yourself,” retorted Matt, hotly, “an’ I dare
  talk to you in any way I please. You don’t like it ’cause a man who
  ain’t got no good clothes to wear has the upper hand of you an’ can
  send you to jail any day he feels in the humor for it, do you? Well,
  that’s the way the thing stands, an’ if you want to keep friends with
  me, you had better do as I tell you.”

  Tom Bigden was utterly confounded. Never in his life before had he
  been so shamefully insulted. Do as that blear-eyed ragamuffin told
  him! He would cut off his right hand first. Almost ready to boil over
  with rage, Tom dipped his paddle into the water and set his canoe in
  motion again.

  “Well, go on if you want to,” yelled Matt. “But bear one thing in
  mind: I’ll leave word at the hatchery this very night, an’ to-morrer
  there’ll be a constable lookin’ for you. You forget that you told me
  to steal Joe Wayring’s boat down there to Sherwin’s Pond last summer,
  don’t you? You knowed I was goin’ to take it, you never said or done a
  thing to hender me, an’ that makes you a ’cessory before the fact,”
  added Matt glibly, and with a ring of triumph in his voice. “Now, will
  you stop an’ talk to me, or go to jail?”

  Tom was frightened as well as astonished. He _had_ forgotten all about
  that little episode at Sherwin’s Pond, but the squatter’s threatening
  words recalled it very vividly to mind. He knew enough about law to be
  aware that an accessory before the fact is one who advises or commands
  another to commit a felony, and Tom had done just that very thing, and
  thereby rendered himself liable to punishment. It is true that there
  were no witnesses present when he urged Matt to steal the canvas
  canoe, but there were plenty of them around, when he advised him to
  steal the hunting dogs belonging to the guests of the hotels, and to
  turn the sail boats in Mirror Lake adrift so that they would go
  through the rapids into Sherwin’s Pond.

  “Great Scott!” ejaculated Tom, as these reflections came thronging
  upon him thick and fast. “What have I done? I have put my foot in it,
  and this low fellow has the upper hand of me as sure as the world.”

  I am of opinion that Tom would have given something just then if he
  had not been in such haste to take vengeance upon a boy who never did
  the first thing to incur his enmity.



                              CHAPTER VI.
                          JAKE WORKS HIS MINE.


  “I allowed you’d stop after you took time to think the matter over,”
  chuckled Matt, when he saw the boy lift his paddle from the water and
  rest it across his knee. “I ain’t forgot that you spoke kind words to
  me an’ my family down there to Mount Airy when every body else was
  jawin’ at us an’ tryin’ to kick us outen house an’ home, an’ I’d be
  glad to be friends with you,” he added, in a more conciliatory tone.
  “But I ain’t goin’ to stand no airs of no sort. Now, come ashore so’t
  I can talk to you.”

  “What do you want to say to me?” asked Tom, who could hardly refrain
  from yelling in the ecstasy of his rage. The man talked as though he
  had a perfect right to command him. “Speak out, if you have any thing
  on your mind. I can hear it from my canoe as well as I could ashore.”

  “Well, I shan’t speak out, nuther,” answered Matt, decidedly. “I ain’t
  goin’ to talk so’t they can hear me clear up to Injun Lake. Come
  ashore.”

  Tom reluctantly obeyed; that is, he ran the bow of his canoe upon the
  beach, but that was as far as he would go.

  “I am as near shore as I am going to get,” said he, with a little show
  of spirit. “Now what have you to say to me? Be in a hurry, for my
  friends are waiting for me.”

  “Well, you needn’t get huffy about it,” replied Matt, backing toward
  his log and pulling his pipe from his pocket. “I can tell you in a few
  words what I want you to do for me, an’ as for your friends, they can
  wait till their hurry’s over. Say,” added the squatter, sinking his
  voice to a confidential whisper, “you know I told you when I stole
  this here canvas canoe that I was comin’ to Injun Lake to go into the
  business of independent guidin’. You remember that, don’t you?”

  “Well, what of it?” was the only response Tom deigned to make. “No
  matter what I remember. Go on with what you have to say to me.”

  “Don’t get in a persp’ration,” continued Matt, with the most
  exasperating deliberation. “Yes; that’s one thing that made me take
  the canvas canoe—so’t I could go into the business of guidin’ on my
  own hook; but when I got here I found that the landlords wouldn’t have
  nuthin’ to do with me, an’ the guests wouldn’t, nuther. So I took to
  visitin’ all the camps I could hear of, an’ helpin’ myself to what I
  could find in ’em in the way of grub, we’pons an’ sich. I told you
  that was what I was goin’ to do. You remember it, don’t you?”

  Tom made a gesture of impatience but said nothing.

  “Yes; that’s what I done, an’ it wasn’t long before I kicked up the
  biggest kind of a row up there to Injun Lake,” said the squatter,
  pounding his knees with his clenched hands and shaking all over with
  suppressed merriment. “The women-folks dassent go into the woods for
  fear that they would run foul of me when they wasn’t lookin’ for it,
  an’ some of the guests told Hanson—he’s the new landlord, you
  know—that if he didn’t have me took up an’ put in jail they’d never
  come nigh him agin. Oh, I tell you I’ve done a heap since me an’ you
  had that little talk up there to Sherwin’s Pond, an’ I’m goin’ to do a
  heap more before the season’s over. I said I’d bust up guidin’ an’ the
  hotels along with it, an’ I’m goin’ to keep my word. I’ll l’arn them
  ’ristocrats that I’m jest as good as they ever dare be, even if I
  ain’t got no good clothes to wear.”

  Tom Bigden was intensely disgusted. Matt talked to him as unreservedly
  as he might have talked to an accomplice. When he paused to light his
  pipe Tom managed to say—

  “You hinted last summer that you intended to kidnap little children if
  you got a good chance. Have you tried it?”

  “Not yet I ain’t, but there’s no tellin’ what I may do if they don’t
  quit crowdin’ on me,” replied Matt, with a grin. “That is one of the
  tricks I still hold in my hand. I must have money to buy grub an’
  things, an’ since I ain’t allowed to earn it honest, as I would like
  to do, I must get it any way I can. An’ this brings me to what I want
  to say to you.”

  “I am very glad to hear it,” answered Tom. “Now I hope you will hurry
  up. I am getting tired of listening to your senseless gabble. I am in
  no way interested in what you have done or what you intend to do. What
  do you want of me? That’s all I care to know.”

  “Don’t get in a persp’ration,” said the squatter again. “Yes; I
  visited all the camps I could hear of, like I told you, an’ among
  other things I took outen them camps were two scatter-guns an’ a
  rifle. One of the scatter-guns I give up agin, an’ I got ten dollars
  for doin’ it, too.”

  “Well, what do I care about that?” said Tom, when Matt paused and
  looked at him. “I tell you I am not interested in these things. Come
  to the point at once.”

  “I’m comin’ to it,” answered the squatter. “I give up one of the
  scatter-guns, like I told you, but t’other one an’ the rifle I’ve got
  yet. There’s been a reward of a hundred dollars offered for them two
  guns—fifty dollars apiece—an’ I want it.”

  “Then why don’t you give up the guns and claim it?”

  “Now, jest listen at the fule!” exclaimed Matt. “I dassent, ’cause
  there’s been a reward of a hundred more dollars offered for the man
  that stole them guns. That’s me. I can’t go up to Injun Lake to take
  them guns back to the men that owns ’em, an’ I’m afeared to send the
  boys, ’cause they would be took up the same as I would. See?”

  “Yes, I see; but I don’t know what you are going to do about it.
  You’ve got the guns, and if you are afraid to give them up you will
  have to keep them. I don’t see any other way for you to do.”

  “I do,” said Matt; and there was something in the tone of his voice
  that made Tom uneasy. “I don’t want the guns, ’cause I can’t use ’em;
  but I do want the money, an’ that’s what I am goin’ to talk to you
  about. I want you to buy them guns—”

  “Well, I shan’t do it,” exclaimed Tom, who was fairly staggered by
  this proposition. “I’ve got one gun, and that’s all I need. Besides, I
  am not going to become a receiver of stolen property.”

  “I’ll give ’em to you for twenty-five dollars apiece,” continued Matt,
  paying no heed to the interruption, “an’ you can take ’em up to Injun
  Lake an’ claim the whole of the reward. You’ll make fifty dollars by
  it.”

  “I tell you I won’t do it,” repeated Tom. “I’ll not have any thing to
  do with it. I’m not going to get myself into trouble for the sake of
  putting money into your pocket.”

  “There ain’t no need of your gettin’ yourself into trouble less’n you
  want to. When you take the guns up to Hanson you can tell him that you
  found ’em in the bresh—that you didn’t know who they belonged to, an’
  so you made up your decision that you had better take ’em to him. See?
  That’ll be all fair an’ squar’, an’ nobody will ever suspicion that I
  give ’em to you. Come to think on it, I won’t give ’em to you,” added
  Matt. “You hand me the twenty-five dollars apiece, an’ I will tell you
  right where the guns is hid, an’ you can go up there an’ get ’em. Then
  when you tell Hanson that you found ’em in the bresh you will tell him
  nothing but the truth. What do you say?”

  “I say I haven’t got fifty dollars to spend in any such way,” answered
  Tom. He wished from the bottom of his heart that he had pluck enough
  to defy the squatter, but he hadn’t. It cut him to the quick to be
  obliged to sit there and hear himself addressed so familiarly by such
  a fellow as Matt Coyle, but he could not see any way of escape. The
  man had it in his power to make serious trouble for him.

  “Ain’t you got that much money about your good clothes?” asked Matt,
  incredulously.

  “I haven’t fifty cents to my name.”

  “You can’t make me b’lieve that. You wouldn’t come to Injun Lake
  without no money to pay your expenses. Don’t stand to reason, that
  don’t.”

  “My cousin Ralph carries the purse and foots all our bills; but he
  hasn’t half that amount left. We are pretty near strapped and almost
  ready to go home.”

  “Well, I won’t be hard on you,” said Matt. “I am the accommodatin’est
  feller you ever see. Go home, ask your pap for the money, an’ come
  back an’ hand it to me. That’s fair, ain’t it? Mount Airy is a hundred
  miles from Injun Lake. You oughter go an’ come back in ten days. I’ll
  give you that long. What do you say?”

  “I’ll think about it,” replied Tom, whose sole object just then was to
  get out of hearing of Matt Coyle’s voice. As he spoke he placed one
  blade of his paddle against the bottom and shoved his canoe out into
  deep water.

  “That won’t do, that won’t,” exclaimed Matt. “I want to know whether
  or not you are goin’ to bring me that money.”

  “That depends upon whether I can get it or not.”

  “’Cause you needn’t think you can get away from me by jest goin’ up to
  Mount Airy,” continued Matt. “There’s constables up there same’s there
  is at Injun Lake, an’ a word dropped at the hatchery will reach ’em
  mighty easy. If you want me to be friends with you, you won’t sleep
  sound till you bring me that fifty dollars.”

  “I wonder if any other living boy ever submitted so tamely to such an
  insult,” soliloquized Tom, as he headed his canoe up the lake and
  paddled back toward the point. “That villain holds me completely in
  his power. He can disgrace me before the whole village of Mount Airy
  any time he sees fit to do so. The minute he is arrested and brought
  to trial, just that minute I am done for. If I give him fifty dollars
  for those guns, how much better off will I be? He will have a still
  firmer hold upon me. He’ll rob other camps, compel me to buy his
  plunder by threats of exposure, and the first thing I know I shall be
  a professional ‘fence’—receiver of stolen goods. By gracious!”
  exclaimed Tom, redoubling his efforts at the paddle as if he hoped to
  run away from the gloomy thoughts that pressed so thickly upon him.
  “What am I coming to? What _have_ I come to?”

  “There, now,” I heard Matt mutter, as he stood with his hands on his
  hips, watching Tom Bigden’s receding figure. “I’ve done two good
  strokes of business this morning. I’ve brought that feller down a peg
  or two, an’ I have pervided for gettin’ shet of them guns in a way I
  didn’t look for. I thought for one spell that they wasn’t goin’ to be
  of no use to me, but now I shall make fifty dollars clean cash outen
  ’em. He’ll bring it to me, for if he don’t I’ll tell on him sure, an’
  then he’ll be in a pretty fix with all them people up there to Mount
  Airy knowin’ to his meanness. It hurts these ’ristocrats to have a
  feller like me to talk to ’em as I talked to that Bigden boy; I can
  see that plain enough. Well, they ain’t got no business to have so
  much money an’ so many fine things, while me an’ my family is so poor
  that we don’t know where our next pair of shoes is comin’ from.”

  Highly pleased with the result of his interview with Tom Bigden, Matt
  shoved the canvas canoe into the water and pulled slowly toward the
  outlet, once more passing directly over Jake’s silver mine. Perhaps
  the sunken treasure had some occult influence upon him, for he
  straightway dismissed Tom from his mind, and thought about Jake and
  the robbers and the six thousand dollars.

  “Don’t stand to reason that Jakey would a told me that he hadn’t seen
  them robbers less’n he had some excuse for it,” said Matt, to himself.
  “He did see ’em, an’ I know it. He took ’em across the lake, too. He
  didn’t do it for nothing, so he’s got money. I’ll speak to him about
  it when I get home, an’ then I’ll make it my business to keep an eye
  on him.”

  Having come to this determination Matt dismissed Jake as well as Tom
  from his thoughts, and made all haste to reach the outlet, not
  forgetting as he paddled swiftly along to keep a close watch of the
  woods on shore. Mr. Swan and a large squad of guides and constables
  were in there somewhere, and Matt Coyle had a wholesome fear of them.
  When I ran upon the beach at the head of the outlet, I was not very
  much surprised to see Jake step out of the bushes and come forward to
  meet his father. The boy must have been in great suspense all the
  morning, and although he was almost bursting with impatience to know
  whether or not his father had discovered any thing during his absence
  he could not muster up courage enough to ask any questions. But Matt
  began the conversation himself.

  “Jakey,” said he, reproachfully. “I didn’t think you would get so low
  down in the world as to go an’ fool your pap the way you done this
  mornin’. You told me you hadn’t seen hide nor hair of them robbers,
  an’ that wasn’t so. You did see ’em, an’ you took ’em across the lake,
  too. But you didn’t land ’em on this side; you dumped ’em out into the
  water. Now how much did you get for it?”

  Jake was not so much taken aback as I thought he would be. He had been
  expecting something of this kind and was prepared for it. He knew that
  his father was an adept at reading “sign,” and he was as well
  satisfied as he wanted to be that his five dollars ferry money would
  never do him any good. The question was: How much more had his father
  learned? Did he know any thing about the silver mine? Jake didn’t
  believe he did, else he would have been more jubilant. A man who knew
  where he could put his hand on six thousand dollars at any moment
  would not look as sober as Matt Coyle did.

  “I didn’t get nothin’ for dumpin’ on ’em out, pap,” replied Jake,
  after a little pause. “That was somethin’ I couldn’t help. The night
  was dark, an’ I didn’t see the snag till I was clost onto it.”

  “Well, what become of the six thousand dollars they had with ’em?”
  inquired Matt, looking sharply at the boy, who met his gaze without
  flinching. “Did you see any thing of it?”

  “I seen a couple of grip-sacks into their hands, but I didn’t ask ’em
  what was in ’em,” answered Jake. He looked very innocent and truthful
  when he said it, but his father was not deceived. He had known Jake to
  tell lies before.

  “What become of the grip-sacks when you run onto the snag an’ spilled
  ’em out?” asked Matt.

  “They hung fast to ’em an’ took ’em ashore an’ into the woods where I
  didn’t see ’em no more.”

  “How much did you get for takin’ the robbers over the lake?”

  “Jest five dollars; an’ there it is,” said Jake, who knew that the
  money would have to be produced sooner or later.

  “Now jest look at the fule!” shouted Matt, going off into a sudden
  paroxysm of rage. “Five dollars, an’ them with six thousand stolen
  dollars into their grip-sacks! Jake, I’ve the best notion in the world
  to cut me a hickory an’ wear it out over your back.”

  Jake began to look wild. When his father talked that way things were
  getting serious.

  “Hold on a minute, pap,” he protested, as Matt pulled his knife from
  his pocket and started toward the bushes. “How was I goin’ to know
  that they had all that money an’ that it was stole from the bank? If I
  had knowed it, I would a taxed ’em a hundred dollars, sure; but I
  thought they had clothes an’ things in them grip-sacks.”

  Matt paused, reflected a moment, and then shut up his knife and put it
  into his pocket.

  “Why didn’t you tell me that you had made five dollars by takin’ ’em
  over ’stead of sayin’ that you hadn’t never seed ’em?” he demanded.

  “’Cause I wanted to keep the money to get me some shoes,” answered
  Jake, telling the truth this time. “Winter’s comin’ on, an’ I don’t
  want to go around with my feet in the snow, like I done last year.
  I’ll give you half, pap, an’ then you can get some shoes for
  yourself.”

  To Jake’s great amazement his father replied—

  “No, sonny, you keep it. You earned it, fair and squar’, an’ I won’t
  take it from you. I shall make fifty dollars hard cash outen them guns
  we’ve got hid in the bresh, an’ that will be enough to run me for a
  little while. Now take your boat to pieces an’ bring him up to the
  house.”

  So saying, Matt Coyle walked off, leaving Jake lost in wonder.

  “Well, this beats me,” said the boy, after he had taken a minute or
  two to collect his wits. “Pap wouldn’t take half my five dollars, an’
  he’s found a way to make fifty dollars outen them guns! I don’t
  b’lieve it,” added Jake, his face growing white with excitement and
  alarm. “He’s found my silver mind; that’s what’s the matter of him.”

  The contortions Jake went through when this unwelcome conviction
  forced itself upon him were wonderful. He strode along the beach,
  pulling his hair one minute and clapping his hands and jumping up and
  down in his tracks the next, and acting altogether as if he had taken
  leave of his senses. I had never before witnessed such a performance,
  having always been accustomed to the companionship of those who were
  able to control themselves, under any and all circumstances. After a
  little while he ceased his demonstrations, and picking me up bodily,
  carried me into the bushes and left me there.

  “I won’t take him to pieces, nuther,” said Jake, aloud. “I’ll leave
  him here so’t I can get him without pap’s bein’ knowin’ to it, an’
  when night comes I’ll go up an’ see after my silver mind. If pap has
  found it, he’ll have to give me half of it, cash in hand, or I’ll tell
  on him.”

  Although Jake really believed that his “claim” had been “jumped,” he
  did not neglect to make preparations for working it in case he found
  his fears were groundless. He came back to me about the middle of the
  afternoon, and as he approached I saw him take a long, stout line out
  of his pocket. What he intended to do with it I could not tell; but I
  found out an hour or two afterward, for then I had a second visitor in
  the person of Matt Coyle, who came stealing through the bushes without
  causing a leaf to rustle. He stopped beside me and picked up the line.

  “He didn’t take the canoe to pieces an’ carry him up to the house,
  like I told him to, an’ he’s stole his mam’s clothes-line and brung it
  down here,” said Matt to himself. “Now, what did he do that for? He’s
  goin’ to use ’em both to-night, Jakey is, an’ what’s he goin’ to do
  with ’em? He’s a mighty smart boy, but he’ll find that he can’t fool
  his pap.”

  The hours passed slowly away, and finally the woods were shrouded in
  almost impenetrable darkness. The time for action was drawing near. I
  waited for it impatiently, because I was sure that the temporary
  ownership of those six thousand dollars would be decided before
  morning, and I felt some curiosity to know who was going to get them.
  While I was thinking about it, Jake Coyle glided up and laid hold of
  me. In two minutes more I was in the water and making good time up the
  lake towards the sunken silver mine; but before I had left the woods
  at the head of the outlet very far behind I became aware that we were
  followed. I distinctly saw a light Indian Lake skiff put out from the
  shadow of the trees and follow silently in our wake. The boat was one
  of the two that had been stolen by Matt and his family on the day that
  Mr. Swan and his party burned their camp; and, although the night was
  dark, I was as certain as I could be that its solitary occupant was
  Matt Coyle himself. He held close in to the trees on the left hand
  side of the lake, and as often as Jake stopped and looked back the
  pursuer stopped also; and, as he took care to keep in the shadow, of
  course he could not be seen.

  “Pap thinks he’s smart,” muttered Jake, after he had made a long halt
  and looked up and down the lake to satisfy himself that there was no
  one observing his movements, “an’ p’raps he is, but not smart enough
  to get away with the whole of them six thousand. If I don’t find them
  grip-sacks, I shall know sure enough that he’s been here before me;
  an’ if he don’t hand over half of it the minute I get home I’ll tell
  on him afore sun-up. Here I am, an’ it won’t take me long to see how
  the thing stands.”

  As Jake said this, he drew up alongside the snag and dropped the
  anchor overboard. He must have been in a fearful state of suspense,
  for I could feel that he was trembling in every limb. When he came to
  divest himself of his clothes, preparatory to going down after the
  money, his hands shook so violently that he could scarcely find the
  few buttons that held them together. He didn’t dive, for the splash
  could have been heard a long distance in the stillness of the night,
  and might have attracted somebody’s attention. He made one end of the
  clothes-line fast to a brace, took the other in his hand, and,
  lowering himself gently over the stern of the canoe, drew in a long
  breath and sank out of sight. He was gone a full minute; but before he
  came to the surface I knew he had been successful in his search, for I
  could tell by the way the line sawed back and forth over the gunwale
  that he was tying it to something. An instant later his head bobbed up
  close alongside, and then Jake essayed the somewhat difficult task of
  clambering back into the canoe. Being a remarkably active young
  fellow, he accomplished it with much more ease than I expected; and no
  sooner had he gained his feet than he began hauling in on the line
  with almost frantic haste.

  “I’ve got one of ’em! I’ve got one of ’em!” he kept on saying over and
  over again; and a second afterward one of the little valises was
  whipped out of the water and deposited on the bottom of the canoe.
  “Pap didn’t find my silver mind, like I was afeard of, an’ it’s mine,
  all mine. I’m rich.”

  Forgetting where he was in the excess of his glee, Jake jumped up and
  knocked his heels together; but when he came down I wasn’t there to
  meet him. He gave me a shove that sent me to one side, and Jake
  disappeared in the water. He was greatly alarmed by the noise he made,
  and during the next five minutes remained perfectly motionless.
  Supporting himself by holding fast to the anchor rope, he waited and
  listened. He was so quiet that he scarcely seemed to breathe; and all
  this while an equally motionless and silent figure sat in the skiff,
  not more than fifty yards away, taking note of every thing that
  happened in the vicinity of the snag.

  The deep silence that brooded over the lake deceived Jake, and he made
  ready to go down after the rest of the money. He was not out of sight
  more than half a minute, and again the sawing of the line told me that
  he had found the object of his search. There was another short,
  frantic struggle to get into the canoe, a hasty pull at the rope, and
  the second valise was jerked out of the water and placed safely beside
  its companion. Jake Coyle had worked his silver mine to some purpose.



                              CHAPTER VII.
                          AMONG FRIENDS AGAIN.


  I cannot give you even a faint idea of the extravagant demonstrations
  of delight to which Jake Coyle gave way when he saw the two valises
  deposited side by side on the bottom of the canoe. He had been
  tormented by the fear that his father had found and appropriated the
  money, and he could not convince himself that those fears were
  groundless, until he had opened both the valises and plunged his hands
  among the glittering silver pieces with which they were filled almost
  to the top. Then he threw himself back in the stern of the canoe and
  panted as if he were utterly exhausted with his exertions.

  “I do think in my soul that I’ve got it,” said he, in an excited
  whisper. “Now what’ll I do with it to keep it safe? If pap or that Sam
  of our’n——”

  For some reason or other Jake became frightened when he thought of his
  father and brother. The idea of sharing his ill-gotten gains with them
  never once entered his head. He scrambled to his feet and hastily
  pulled on his clothes, after which he raised the anchor and paddled up
  the lake. As soon as I got under way the pursuing skiff was set in
  motion also; but I lost sight of it after we rounded the first point
  and entered the mouth of the creek which had been the scene of Joe
  Wayring’s exciting encounter with Matt Coyle and his boys a few weeks
  before.

  Up this creek Jake paddled as swiftly as he could, his object being to
  find a hiding-place for the money so remote from the hatchery that no
  one who lived about there would be likely to stumble upon it. For two
  hours he never slackened his pace, and by that time I became aware
  that we were drawing near to the site of Matt’s old camp—the one that
  had been destroyed by Mr. Swan and his party. A few minutes later I
  passed through the little water-way that connected the creek with the
  cove, and there Jake made a landing and got out.

  “I’ve heared them say that lightning don’t strike two times in the
  same place,” said he, as he drew me higher upon the beach and took
  hold of the valises, “an’ that’s what made me come up here. Swan has
  been here once an’ done all the damage he could, an’ ’tain’t no ways
  likely that he’ll come agin. Pap dassent come so fur from home, ’cause
  he’s that scared of the constables that he sticks clost to the shanty
  all the time, an’ don’t even go huntin’ for squirrels; so I reckon the
  woods about here are the best place I can find to hide my money. I’ll
  leave my canoe, too, an’ then, when I get ready to strike out for
  myself, I’ll have him an’ the money an’ both them fine guns right
  where I can lay my hands onto ’em.”

  So saying Jake disappeared in the bushes, taking the valises with him.
  He was gone half an hour, and when he returned he proceeded to fold me
  up and tie me together with a piece of rope. This done he found a
  hiding-place for me under a pile of brush about twenty feet from the
  spot where the lean-to stood before it was burned, and, after covering
  me up as well as he could in the dark, glided away with noiseless
  footsteps. It was a long time before I saw him again, but he had not
  been gone more than five minutes when I heard a slight rustling among
  the leaves and a snapping of twigs as if some one was walking
  cautiously over them. Then I knew I was not alone in the woods. Who my
  invisible companion was I could not tell for certain, but I believed
  it was the occupant of the skiff that had followed us from the outlet.
  He revealed his identity when he came near my place of concealment,
  for I recognized his voice. It was Matt Coyle. He had kept Jake in
  sight until he saw him paddle into the creek, and then he landed and
  took to the woods. Something told him where the boy was going with the
  money he had fished out of the lake, and by going afoot and taking a
  short cut he gained on Jake so much that he arrived in the vicinity of
  his old camp at least ten minutes ahead of him. But he could not see
  where the valises had been hidden—the woods were too dark for that—and
  now he was trying his best to find them, as I learned from his
  soliloquy.

  “He’s a pretty smart boy, Jakey is, but not smart enough to fool his
  pap,” I heard him say. “The ondutiful scamp! I had oughter wear a
  hickory out on him the minute I get home; but here’s the diffikilty;
  if I do that he’ll tell Rube where them fine guns is hid, an’ the
  minute they are give up to their owners then Rube’11 turn squar’
  around an’ have me took up for the sake of gettin’ the reward. See? If
  I can find the money all unbeknownst to Jakey, an’ take it off an’
  hide it somewhere else, so’t I can find it every time I want to use a
  dollar or two, then Jakey’11 think that the constables have stumbled
  on it, an’ he won’t never say a word; but if I try to force him to
  give it up there’ll be a furse, sure. He’s like his pap, Jakey is. It
  won’t do to crowd him too fur. Mebbe it’s in yer.”

  Matt bent over my hiding-place and thrust his hand into the pile of
  brush. He felt all over and around me, and uttered many an exclamation
  of anger and disgust when he found that the valises were not there
  with me. He spent the whole of the night in tramping about the woods
  in my neighborhood, and how he missed the objects of his search I
  don’t know to this day. He rested a little while before daylight—at
  least I thought he did, for the sound of his footsteps ceased for an
  hour or two—but as soon as he could see where he was going he was up
  and at it again; but this time he was interrupted. Deeply interested
  as he was in his search, he did not neglect to keep his eyes and ears
  open, and consequently he did not fail to hear the threatening sounds
  that came to him on the morning breeze. I heard them a few minutes
  afterward, and would have shouted with delight if I had possessed the
  power. Mr. Swan and his party were approaching. Although I could not
  see them I was certain of it, for I had been in the guide’s company so
  often that I could have recognized his voice among a thousand.
  Presently they came close to my hiding-place and I heard one of the
  party say—

  “Here’s where Matt’s lean-to stood. We came pretty near catching the
  sly old coon that day, but he must have had some member of his family
  on the watch. We found the fire burning and the dinner under way, but
  Matt was nowhere to be seen.”

  “They have been back here since then, and within a few hours, too,”
  said Mr. Swan. “See how the leaves are kicked up. Let’s look around,
  boys, and perhaps we shall find something.”

  I was delighted to hear this order. The “boys” began to look about at
  once, and one of them followed Matt’s trail straight to my place of
  concealment. The constable who accompanied him kicked the pile of
  brush to pieces, caught hold of the rope with which I was bound, and
  dragged me into view. The first words he spoke seemed to indicate that
  he had never seen any thing like me before.

  “What in the name of common sense is this?” said he.

  “That?” replied Mr. Swan, who stood close by. “Oh, that is Joe
  Wayring’s canvas canoe—an old thing that saw his best days years ago.
  But Joe thinks a heap of him and will be mighty glad to get him again.
  I haven’t got any thing to do just now, and so I will make it my
  business to take the canoe up to him. Joe is a good fellow, and I
  shall be glad to do that much for him.”

  Thank goodness, I was in a fair way to see Joe Wayring once more! I
  was as happy as I wanted to be after that. I hoped Mr. Swan would take
  me home at once, for I was impatient to see Fly-rod and the long bows
  and the toboggan and all the rest of my friends in Mount Airy. I
  looked around at the members of the squad and saw many familiar faces
  among them. In fact, I had seen them all at one time or another, with
  the exception—could I believe my eyes? I looked again, and told myself
  that there could be no mistake about it. There were two strangers
  among them, and they were dressed in slouch hats and long dark coats.
  They were neither hand-cuffed nor bound, but they were closely watched
  by two armed officers who took no part in beating the bushes. They
  were the bank robbers—the very men I had tumbled out into the lake. If
  I had had the slightest doubt of their identity it would have been
  dispelled when the deputy sheriff said—“Now, boys, we’ve got some
  evidence. Who can stretch this canvas canoe?”

  Mr. Swan replied that he could, and he did. Under his skillful hands I
  quickly assumed my usual symmetrical proportions; but before he was
  through with me one of the robbers called out—

  “That’s the boat. That’s the very boat that we started to cross the
  lake in.”

  “How do you know?” asked the sheriff.

  “Because, as we told you, we examined him with the aid of a lighted
  match before we would trust ourselves to him,” replied one of the
  prisoners. “I believe that boy tipped us over on purpose.”

  “I haven’t the least doubt of it,” assented the sheriff. “You let him
  see the inside of one of the valises, and of course the sight of so
  much money excited his cupidity.”

  “I hope Jim didn’t hit him when he shot at him,” said the other
  robber, in an anxious tone.

  “Haven’t I told you more than a dozen times that you need not borrow
  trouble on that score?” asked the officer. “If the boy had been hurt
  we should probably have heard of it when we crossed the outlet at the
  hatchery the next morning. Robbing the bank is all you will have to
  answer for.”

  And wasn’t that enough? I wondered. I did not know just what the
  penalty was for the offense of which they were guilty, but I did know
  that they were destined to pass some of the best years of their lives
  in prison. I was surprised to hear the sheriff talk so familiarly with
  the robbers, but really there was nothing surprising in it. Having
  captured them, as he was in duty bound to do, he showed them as much
  consideration as he showed the guides he had summoned to his
  assistance, but he kept a sharp eye on them to see that they did not
  escape.

  “Put him together again, Swan, and we will go on and pay our respects
  to Jake Coyle,” continued the officer. “It is possible that he intends
  to return the money and claim the reward. If he does—”

  “Don’t fool yourself,” said Mr. Swan, with a laugh. “If Jake ran into
  that snag on purpose, he did it with the intention of fishing up that
  money and keeping it. He can’t claim the reward, for there is a
  warrant out for him. He helped to steal this canvas canoe.”

  Having tied me together with the rope, Mr. Swan raised me to his
  shoulder, ordered the guides to stop talking, and the entire posse set
  off through the woods in the direction of the hatchery. As they drew
  near to it they spread out right and left, forming a sort of skirmish
  line which was so long that those on the flanks were out of sight of
  one another, and in this order moved forward with increased caution.
  The sheriff and Mr. Swan remained in the center with the two
  prisoners, the latter holding me in one hand and a revolver in the
  other. The officer consulted his watch very frequently, and at the end
  of ten minutes moved out of the bushes to the “carry,” followed by Mr.
  Swan and the captives. Then I understood the meaning of this maneuver.
  The sheriff’s object was to surround Rube’s cabin and capture the
  inmates.

  As soon as he reached the “carry” the sheriff gave a shrill whistle
  and ran forward at the top of his speed, leaving the guide to follow
  with the prisoners. When we came within sight of the cabin a few
  minutes later I saw the entire posse gathered around it, and the
  sheriff and Rube standing in the doorway, the latter rubbing his eyes
  as if he had just been aroused from a sound sleep.

  “Sold again,” said the officer, as Mr. Swan came up.

  “There, now!” exclaimed the guide, who was profoundly astonished.
  “Well, I told you that Matt was a sly old fox, and that you’d have to
  be mighty sly yourself if you caught him. The young ones are chips of
  the old block, and can dodge about in the woods like so many
  partridges. How did he find out that we were coming, do you reckon?”

  “That’s a mystery,” answered the sheriff.

  I could have told him that it was no mystery to me. The officer and
  his posse had made a good deal of noise in coming through the woods,
  and of course Matt Coyle heard them long before they came in sight.
  Knowing that they would have to go to the hatchery in order to procure
  boats to cross the outlet, he took to his heels in short order, made
  the best of his way to the cabin, and started his family off into the
  woods. That was all there was of it, but it proved the truth of the
  remark Mr. Swan once made in Joe Wayring’s hearing—that Matt Coyle
  always had luck on his side. The fugitives did not awaken Rube, for
  they knew that he had nothing to fear from the officers of the law. I
  had often wondered what sort of a game the watchman was up to (I was
  as sure that he was playing a part as Matt was), and now I was given
  some insight into it.

  “You would ’a’ ruined Hanson if you’d arrested Matt Coyle,” said Rube,
  when the guide ceased speaking. “If you take him up afore them guns is
  found he’ll lose a dozen good customers next season, Hanson will,
  ’cause they say they’ll never come back to his hotel till their
  property is given up to ’em. You don’t want to be in too big a hurry.
  Both the boys has offered to give me the guns for half the reward, an’
  as soon as they tell me where they are hid I’ll bring ’em up to the
  lake. Then you can ’rest Matt, as soon as you please.”

  “I wasn’t after Matt, although I should have taken him in if I had
  found him here,” answered the sheriff. “I was looking for Jake.”

  “What’s he been a doin’ of?”

  “We think he knows something about the money that was stolen from the
  Irvington bank.”

  “I know he does,” said Rube, earnestly. “I thought so yesterday
  morning, when I was readin’ about it in the paper that Swan give me,
  an’ I thought so last night when I stood at the head of the outlet an’
  saw him go up the lake in the canvas canoe. Say,” he added, in a lower
  tone, “is them two fellers the robbers?”

  The officer nodded.

  “An’ do you reckon Jake knows where they hid the money?”

  “We don’t think they hid it. Jake capsized them, and turned the money
  out into the lake.”

  “Well, I’ll bet you it ain’t there now,” said Rube. “Jake got it up
  last night, less’n Matt stopped him.”

  “Was Matt with him?”

  “He follered him in one of the boats that he stole from you fellers up
  the creek on the day you burned his camp.”

  “Where are those boats now?” inquired Mr. Swan.

  “Up to the head of the outlet, hid in the bresh. I can show ’em to you
  any time.”

  “Come on and do it then,” said the Sheriff. “There’s no use wasting
  time here. It won’t take us long to row up to that snag and see if the
  money is there. Four of us are enough. We will take one of the
  prisoners with us to show us right where the snag is, and the other
  can stay here.”

  Having designated by name the guides whom he wished to accompany him,
  the sheriff followed Rube through the woods toward the place where the
  skiffs were concealed, Mr. Swan bringing up the rear with me on his
  shoulder. The skiffs were quickly hauled out of their hiding-places
  and launched, and at the end of an hour we were all anchored alongside
  the snag, and two of the guides were searching the bottom of the lake
  for the valises, which I knew to be all of ten miles from there in a
  straight line, and twenty by water. At last the guides came up and
  reported that there was no use of looking any longer. The grip-sacks
  were not there.

  “Are you sure that this is the snag on which that boy capsized you?”
  inquired the sheriff.

  “As sure as I can be,” replied the prisoner, to whom the question was
  addressed. “It was the first one he came to, and it was directly
  opposite the house whose cellar he robbed. Are you going to give up
  looking?” he added, as the guides climbed back into their skiff. “I
  hate to think that that villain will remain at liberty to enjoy that
  six thousand, after all the risk Tony and I ran to get it.”

  “He’ll not remain at liberty very long,” answered the sheriff, with
  some asperity. “I’d have you know that I understand my business. I
  pledge you my word that you will see him in New London jail in less
  than a week after you get there.”

  This assurance seemed to satisfy the robber that justice would be
  done, and he had no more to say.

  In obedience to the sheriff’s order the guides pulled back to the
  outlet and landed in front of the hatchery. The rest of the posse were
  ferried over to the opposite side and set out on foot for Indian Lake,
  all except the other prisoner, who was taken into the canvas canoe
  with Mr. Swan.

  When we reached the lake I learned that there had been a regular
  exodus from the woods during the last two days. As soon as the women
  and children who were in camp heard that there were a couple of bank
  robbers hiding somewhere in the wilderness, they made all haste to get
  back to the hotels, where they knew they would be safe. Both the
  landlords were in a state of mind that can hardly be described. The
  season was not half over, and yet some of their guests were leaving
  every day, bound for other places of resort where thieves were not
  quite so plenty. Matt Coyle would have hugged himself with delight if
  he could have heard what I did. I arrived at the lake about nine
  o’clock in the morning, and at nine o’clock that night Mr. Swan and I
  were well on our way toward Mount Airy, which we reached without any
  mishap. We found Joe and his two chums, Roy and Arthur, enjoying a
  sail on the lake in the Young Republic.

  “I kinder thought you would like to have your canoe back again, and so
  I brought him up,” said Mr. Swan, when he had shaken hands with the
  boys. “No, I won’t take nothing for it, and I can’t go up to your
  house and stay over night, neither. I’ve got to get back as soon as I
  can, for there’s plenty of work to be done at Indian Lake. The
  Irvington bank robbers have been captured, but Matt Coyle and his boys
  are still at large, and they’ll ruinate our business and the hotels’
  business, too, if we don’t tend to ’em right along.”

  While the guide was telling the boys how the robbers had been hunted
  down and captured, he took hold of the rope with which I was tied and
  lifted me out of his skiff into the sail-boat, and then he said
  good-by and pulled away, while the Young Republic came about and
  scudded back toward Mr. Wayring’s wharf.

  Fly-rod told you, at the conclusion of his narrative, that when Joe
  Wayring returned from his trip to Indian Lake he expected to meet his
  uncle, who was to take him and his chums on an extended canoe trip to
  some distant part of the country, “either east or west, they didn’t
  know which;” but in this he was disappointed. Uncle Joe had been
  called away on important business, and the probabilities were that if
  they took their proposed trip at all it would not be until near the
  end of the vacation, and then it would be a very short one. So, for
  want of something better to do, Joe Wayring proposed an immediate
  return to Indian Lake.

  “The time is our own until the first Monday in September,” said he,
  “and what’s the use of staying around the village and doing nothing?
  We know we can enjoy ourselves at the lake, but this time we’ll give
  Matt Coyle and his boys a wide berth. We’ll leave the regular routes
  of travel, and visit the famous spring-hole that Mr. Swan has so often
  described to us.”

  Arthur and Roy readily agreed to the proposition, and on the day I was
  restored to my lawful master the arrangements for the return trip had
  all been completed. They were only waiting for Fly-rod, whose broken
  joint was being repaired by a skilled mechanic. He came the day after
  I got home, and you may be sure I was glad to see him once more. We
  passed the night in relating our adventures and exploits, and daylight
  the next morning found us on the wharf, waiting for Arthur Hastings to
  bring up the skiff.

  The trip down the river, through the pond where the “battle in the
  dark” took place, and thence to Indian lake, was made without the
  occurrence of any incident worthy of note, and in due time the skiff
  was run upon the beach in front of the Sportman’s Home. We did not see
  Matt Coyle or any of his family on the way, but we heard of them in
  less than ten minutes after we arrived at the lake. While Joe and his
  chums were overhauling the stern locker, in search of the letters they
  had written the night before, Mr. Swan came up.

  “You’re here, ain’t you?” said he, in his cheery way. “Now you are off
  for that spring-hole, I suppose. Well, if you will go into the woods
  without a guide to take care of you, No-Man’s Pond is the safest place
  for you. But you want to watch out for Matt Coyle, no matter where you
  go. He’s down on all you Mount Airy folks, and Rube Royall heard him
  say that he was intending to tie you to a tree and larrup you.”

  “Does Matt carry an insurance on his life?” inquired Roy. “If not,
  he’ll think twice before he tries that.”

  “Who is Rube Royall?” asked Arthur.

  “He is acting as watchman at the State hatchery, but he is really in
  Hanson’s employ,” replied Mr. Swan. “Of course Rube keeps poachers
  away from the outlet of nights, but he was hired to watch Matt Coyle.
  He’s too lazy to be a guide, Rube is; but he’s honest, and hates Matt
  as bad as I do.”

  “Why does Mr. Hanson want to have Matt watched?” asked Joe.

  “You remember about the Winchester rifle and Lefever hammerless that
  were stolen a while back, don’t you?” asked the guide. “Well, the men
  who own them guns are worth anywhere from twenty-five to fifty dollars
  a day to the hotel they put up at, because they always bring a big
  crowd with them. They went home madder’n a couple of wet hens, saying
  that they would never come to this lake again till their guns had been
  found and Matt put in jail. We could have arrested Matt long ago, for
  he’s been living with Rube ever since we burned him out; but if we’d
  done it we should have lost the guns, for Matt would stay in jail till
  he died there before he would tell where the guns were hidden. He’s
  just that obstinate. However, Rube don’t need to watch him any more.
  Hanson’s got the guns, and who do you think brought them to him. It
  was Tom Bigden and his cousins.”

  Although I was closely packed in my case I caught every word of the
  conversation I have recorded, and I assure you I was surprised to hear
  this. Had Tom complied with Matt’s demands and paid him fifty dollars
  for the guns? Why didn’t Joe ask the guide to go into details?
  Probably he didn’t think it worth while, for all he said was—

  “I wish those fellows had stayed at home.”

  “They wouldn’t look at the reward, but told Hanson that it was to be
  give to me and Morris,” continued the guide. “Morris has got his
  share, but I ain’t seen mine, for this is the first time I have been
  here since the guns were recovered. Now all we’ve got to do is to
  arrest Matt and hunt up Jake. That boy’s got six thousand dollars
  hidden somewhere in the woods.”

  “Why, hasn’t that money been found yet?” exclaimed Roy.

  “Not yet, and somehow we don’t make out to get on Jake’s trail. He
  hasn’t been to Rube’s house since the day we found your canvas canoe
  hidden under that pile of brush. He’s hiding in the woods, living on
  what he can shoot and steal. I tell you the outlook is mighty dark for
  us guides. There’s more than two hundred guests gone away since the
  Irvington bank was robbed, and half of us are idle. Of course our pay
  goes on, but no honest man wants to take money that he doesn’t earn.”

  “Well, I must say that things have come to a pretty pass when a few
  vagabonds can shut up two hotels and throw fifty men like Mr. Swan out
  of employment,” said Joe, as the guide went down the beach toward the
  place where he had left his canoe. “Now that the guns have been
  recovered, Matt Coyle ought to be arrested without an hour’s delay. I
  hope he and Jake will be looking through iron bars when we return.”

  Joe would have put his wish into stronger language than that if he had
  known what was to happen to him before he saw Indian Lake again.



                             CHAPTER VIII.
                        JOE WAYRING IN TROUBLE.


  Mr. Swan, who had come to Indian Lake to purchase some supplies for
  his family, took a couple of baskets from his canoe and walked back to
  the place where Joe Wayring and his friends were standing.

  “There’s one thing I ’most forgot to tell you,” said he, as he came
  up. “Them three cronies of yours, Tom Bigden and his cousins, are
  spending their vacation in visiting with Matt Coyle and his family.”

  “Great Scott!” exclaimed Roy and Arthur, in concert.

  “Leastwise we think they are,” continued the guide, “for they have
  more to do with Matt than they do with any body else. The boys have
  often seen them together, and they seem to be as thick as so many
  thieves.”

  “That’s what we get by sending them word that if they wanted their
  fishing-rods they could come and get them,” said Joe, after a little
  pause. “If we had redeemed their property at the time we redeemed
  ours, Tom and his cousins wouldn’t have come here.”

  “Well, the woods are big enough for all of you, ain’t they?” said the
  guide. “You needn’t have any thing to do with ’em if you don’t want
  to.”

  “We are not sure of that,” answered Roy. “We shall not trouble them,
  but that’s no sign that they will keep away and let us alone.”

  “Why are they having so much to do with Matt Coyle?” said Arthur.
  “That looks suspicious.”

  “It does indeed,” said Joe, seriously. “I am afraid it means business
  for us.”

  “I don’t see why it should,” replied Mr. Swan. “You stay on this side
  the lake and let them stay on the other, and you needn’t come together
  at all. They ain’t going to tramp twelve miles through the woods to
  that spring-hole just for the sake of getting into a fuss with you.”

  “Don’t they know that Matt and his boys are in danger of arrest?”
  asked Arthur.

  “Course they know it. They couldn’t help it, seeing that they come
  here every few days after supplies and mail,” said the guide. “The
  guides who saw them talking together didn’t know what to make of it,
  and I don’t either.”

  “There’s something between Tom and Matt, and you may depend upon it,”
  said Joe. “It has leaked out in Mount Airy that Tom tried to put Matt
  up to lots of mischief before he went away. He told the squatter that
  it would be a good plan for him to burn my father’s house, and turn
  our sailboats adrift so that they would go into the rapids and be
  smashed to pieces.”

  “Well, he’s a bright feller!” exclaimed the guide. “Don’t he know that
  he will get himself into trouble by that sort of work? There they come
  now.”

  The boys turned about and saw three canoes coming toward the landing.
  The crews who were handling the paddles must have been surprised to
  see Joe and his chums there, for as soon as they recognized them they
  stopped and held a short consultation.

  Now, although the two opposing factions to which Tom and Joe belonged
  felt very bitter toward each other, they had never come to open
  warfare. They played ball together, always spoke when they met, and
  tried to be civil; but there was scarcely a boy on either side who
  would not have been glad to see Tom Bigden neatly thrashed. Prime,
  Noble, Scott, and the rest of the fellows who made their head-quarters
  at the Mount Airy drug store disliked him because he had tried to set
  himself up for a leader among them; and Joe and his friends had no
  friendship for him because they knew how persistently Tom, aided by
  his cousins, had tried to injure them ever since he came to the
  village to live.

  “If Tom could point to a single mean thing we ever did to him, I
  shouldn’t be so much surprised at his hostility,” Joe often said. “But
  for him to attempt to ride over us rough shod just because he is
  jealous of us—that’s something we won’t put up with. If he had the
  least spark of manliness in him, he would quit his under-handed work,
  come out open and above-board, and settle the matter with a fair
  stand-up fight. But he is too big a coward to do that, so he tries to
  sick Matt Coyle onto us.”

  Having brought their consultation to a close, Tom and his cousins
  dipped their paddles in the water again and drew up alongside the
  skiff. If you had been there you would have thought, from the cordial
  manner in which they greeted Joe and his companions, that they were
  the best friends in the world.

  “Much obliged to you for telegraphing to us about our rods,” said Tom.
  “We’ve got ’em now, and it will be a cold day when Matt Coyle gets his
  hands on them again.”

  “I shouldn’t think you would like to associate with that man as freely
  as you do,” said Roy, who could not forget that Tom had tried his best
  to make one of their canoe meets a failure. “He will spring something
  on you sure, and I wouldn’t have any thing to do with him.”

  Tom Bigden’s amazing assurance was not proof against an assault like
  this. He turned all sorts of colors, but managed at last to say, in
  reply—

  “You must think I am hard up for associates. My interviews with Coyle
  have been purely accidental. I couldn’t help speaking to him when he
  spoke to me. Where are you fellows going?”

  “We intend to hunt up some trout-fishing before we go home,” answered
  Arthur.

  “Then you’ll have to go back to some of the spring-holes,” said Loren.
  “I’ll bet there isn’t a legal trout in any of the waters about here.
  They’ve been fished to death.”

  Arthur had nothing more to say, for it was no part of his plan to tell
  Tom just where he and his companions were going. The three boys
  loitered about for a minute or two, trying to think of something else
  to talk about, and then they said good-by and walked toward the
  Sportsman’s Home.

  “I don’t see what there is betwixt you boys,” said Mr. Swan, as soon
  as Tom was out of hearing. “Those fellows seem friendly enough.”

  “Yes; but we know that they are not to be trusted,” replied Joe.
  “Ralph and Loren are not so very bad, but Tom will do us a mean turn
  the first good chance he gets.”

  “He didn’t tell the truth when he said that he had met Matt Coyle only
  by accident,” added the guide. “Some of the boys told me that one day
  last week he waited for Matt Coyle about two miles this side of the
  hatchery for more than an hour. That looked as though he had made an
  appointment.”

  “I wish I had thought to speak to Tom about those guns,” observed Roy.
  “Do you know how he came to get hold of them, Mr. Swan? He must have
  told some sort of a story when he turned them over to the landlord of
  the Sportsman’s Home.”

  “I guess you don’t believe he come by ’em in a legitimate way,”
  laughed Mr. Swan. “Well, mebbe he didn’t; I don’t know. He said he
  found ’em while he and his cousins were roaming about in the woods,
  hunting squirrels. The place to hunt for them is around cornfields,
  and not in thick woods.”

  Having at last found their letters, Joe and his chums slung their
  camp-baskets over their shoulders, and started for the hotel, talking
  with the guide as they went, and listening attentively to his
  instructions regarding the route they would have to follow in order to
  reach the spring-hole. They engaged him to look out for their skiff
  while they were gone, after which they hunted up the storekeeper, from
  whom they purchased supplies enough to last them a week.

  “Going up to No-Man’s Pond, be you?” said Morris, the guide who had
  patched up the hole that Matt Coyle’s scow knocked in the skiff on the
  night the “battle in the dark” took place. “Well, you’ll catch plenty
  of fish, but you will have a hard time getting there. You see, some
  lazy lout of a guide went to work and filled the carry full of trees
  and bushes, for fear that he might be called upon to show a guest over
  there. You will have to pick your way through the thickest woods you
  ever saw; so you want to go as light as possible.”

  “We shall take nothing but my canvas canoe, these three camp-baskets,
  and our rods and guns,” replied Joe. “We have a good compass—”

  “Well, whatever you do, don’t quarrel with it,” said Morris. “If you
  get turned around and see the sun go down in the north, when he ought
  to set in the west, don’t get frightened and run yourself to death,
  the way Billy Sawyer done two years ago. Billy had been guide for this
  country, man and boy, for more than twenty years. The last time I saw
  him, he was just starting out for the swamp about three miles the
  other side of No-Man’s Pond, intending to spend a month or so in
  trapping; but we don’t think he ever saw the swamp or the pond,
  either. First he lost his bearings, then he lost his head, then he
  went tearing through the woods, till he dropped and died of exhaustion
  within half a mile of the hotel.”

  “And he was an old guide, you say?” exclaimed Roy.

  “Sartin. Guides ain’t no more infallible than other folks. I have been
  lost myself; but my employer didn’t know it, I bet you. I kept my head
  about me, and worked my way out all right. Well, good-by. You can eat
  supper on the shore of that pond if you hold the direct course; but if
  you lose it don’t grumble at the compass.”

  The boys knew just how hard it was for a bewildered person to place
  implicit faith in the needle, for they had been lost scores of times
  in the woods in the immediate vicinity of Mount Airy; but they did not
  get lost this time. Joe Wayring went in advance, carrying me in one
  hand and the little brass box in the other, and brought his companions
  to No-Man’s Pond, as the spring-hole was called, in ample time to
  catch and cook a supper of trout and make all the necessary
  preparations for the night. Twice while we were on the way we came in
  sight of the portage that led from Indian Lake to the spring-hole, but
  we could not see any signs of a path. It was completely concealed by
  the huge trees that that lazy guide had cut across it.

  “I wonder if this is the place we’re looking for,” said Joe,
  depositing me at the roots of a spreading balsam and taking the camp
  basket from his back. “It must be. Here are the mountains on three
  sides of us and the hills on the other, and over there is the golden
  bathing beach that Mr. Swan told us of. Hi yi! Did you see that?” he
  added, as a monster trout showed himself above the water within easy
  casting distance of the edge of the lily-pads.

  “I should say so,” replied Arthur. “I don’t care whether this is
  No-Man’s Pond or not; there are big trout in it, and this is a
  splendid place to build a shanty. Now let’s get to work. Who will put
  the canvas canoe together and catch supper for us? who will cut the
  wood and pick browse for the beds? and who will throw up a roof of
  some sort for us to sleep under to-night? Most any thing will do, as
  there are no signs of rain. To-morrow we will pitch in, all hands, and
  put up a good house.

  “I’ll pick the browse,” said Roy, who was lying prone upon the leaves
  fanning himself with his hat. “I’m just tired enough to do such lazy
  work. I’ll tell you what’s a fact, fellows: If I were Mr. Hanson, and
  could find out what guide it was who choked up that portage, I’d never
  give him another day’s employment as long as he and I lived. I am
  tired to death and roasted besides.”

  The others said they were too, but they did not waste time in
  grumbling over it. They set to work at once, Arthur clearing the
  leaves from the ground on which he intended to erect the lean-to,
  while Joe took me from my case and made me ready for business. After
  that he put Fly-rod together, fastened a couple of flies to his
  leader, and shoved through the lily-pads to catch that big trout, or
  others like him, for supper. By that time Roy Sheldon had mustered up
  energy enough to take his double-bladed ax from his basket and go in
  search of firewood. They worked to such good purpose, one and all,
  that, by the time the sun went down and darkness settled over the
  spring-hole, they were ready for the night. The browse lay a foot deep
  all over the floor of the lean-to; the beds were made up side by side,
  with a pillow (a little bag of unbleached muslin, left open at both
  ends and stuffed with browse) at the head of each; the fire had burned
  down to a glowing bed of coals, over which the trout and coffee-pot
  were simmering and sputtering; and the whole was lighted up by the
  Ferguson jack-lamp which hung suspended from a clipped bough close at
  hand. A tramp of twelve miles on an August day, through a wilderness
  so dense that not the faintest breath of air can reach you is no joke;
  and it was little wonder that the boys were too tired to talk. They
  ate their trout and johnny-cake and sipped their weak coffee in
  silence, and then crawled to their beds under the lean-to without
  thinking to wash the dishes; although that was a disagreeable duty
  they seldom neglected. They slept soundly, too, in blissful ignorance
  of the fact that there was another camp within less than three miles
  of the spring-hole, and that the owners of that camp were looking for
  them.

  Nine hours’ sleep has a wonderfully rejuvenating effect upon a healthy
  boy; and when our three friends left their blankets at five o’clock
  the next morning, and started on a keen run toward the “golden bathing
  beach” before spoken of, they were their own jolly, uneasy selves
  again. A hasty dip in the water, which was so cold that they could not
  long remain in it, two or three hotly contested races along the beach
  to get up a reaction, followed by a vigorous rubbing with coarse
  towels, put them in the right trim for more trout and johnny-cake; and
  the trout and johnny-cake put them in the humor for the work that must
  be done if their sojourn at the spring-hole was to be a pleasant one.
  The Indian Lake wilderness was noted for its sudden and violent
  storms, and when they came the boys meant to be ready for them. They
  did not forget to wash the dishes this time, and then Arthur and Joe
  went to work to build the shanty, while Roy busied himself in
  collecting a supply of fuel and building a range.

  If you have never passed a vacation in the woods, you probably do not
  know that a camp fire and a camp range are two different things. The
  first is made directly in front of the open part of the shanty, and is
  intended for warmth and comfort, and for light, also, when you have no
  lantern or jack-lamp. The range is built off on one side, a little out
  of the way, and is made by placing two green logs, five or six feet
  long, and eight inches in diameter, side by side on the ground, about
  a foot apart at one end, and nearly touching at the other. The open
  end of the range is placed to windward—that is in the direction from
  which the wind blows—to create a draft, and the upper sides of the
  logs are hewn off square with an ax, so that the pots, pans, and
  kettles will stay where they are put, and not slip off into the fire.
  You build a hard-wood fire between these logs, and when it has stopped
  blazing and burned a thick bed of coals you are ready to begin your
  cooking. To facilitate the handling of hot dishes on the range, Joe
  Wayring had a pair of light blacksmith’s tongs, with the jaws curved
  instead of straight. This was the handiest little tool I ever saw.
  With its aid Joe could pour out coffee, dish up soup, and remove the
  frying-pan from the range; and, as the tongs were always cold, no one
  ever saw him dancing about the fire with burned fingers.

  The boys worked until three o’clock without even stopping for lunch,
  and then Roy got into the canvas canoe and pushed out to catch trout
  enough for supper, while Arthur cut down evergreens to furnish fresh
  browse for the beds. It was about this time that I introduced them to
  you in the first chapter. Joe Wayring had just put the finishing
  touches upon the shanty (I didn’t wonder that he was satisfied with
  it, for Mr. Swan himself could not have put up a neater little house)
  and started the conversation with which I commenced my story. He gave
  it as his opinion that their camp was well out of Tom Bigden’s reach,
  and that Matt Coyle and his boys were much too indolent to walk twelve
  miles through a thick wood just to get into a fight with them; and at
  the very moment he said it some of those whose names he had mentioned
  were trying their best to find him.

  Having disposed of their late dinner and cleaned up the camp, the boys
  were at liberty to lie around under the trees and rest. This, for a
  wonder, Joe Wayring was quite willing to do; but Roy and Arthur
  suddenly took it into their heads that they would like to explore the
  spring-hole and see how big it was and what it looked like.

  “Well, go on,” said Joe, “and I will stay here and keep up the fire
  and rest. Two are enough to ride in that canoe. Take your rods and
  catch some trout for breakfast. You ought to have fine sport, for they
  are jumping up in every direction.”

  Roy and Arthur thought it best to act upon this suggestion, and from
  force of habit they also put their guns into the canoe before shoving
  out into the spring-hole. That was one of the luckiest things those
  two boys ever did.

  By the time they had made two hundred yards from shore, the voyagers
  discovered that No-Man’s Pond was not a circular basin, as it appeared
  to be when viewed from the beach in front of their camp. Its shape was
  very irregular. Numerous long points jutted into the water from both
  sides, and behind these points were secluded bays in which numberless
  flocks of wood duck lived unmolested by any enemy save the bald eagles
  that now and then swooped down and carried off one of their number for
  dinner.

  The boys paddled up on one side of the spring-hole and down the other,
  going entirely around it and exploring all the little bays and inlets
  in their course, seeing nothing in the shape of game except the ducks,
  which quickly sought concealment under the broad leaves of the
  lily-pads, and finally they dropped anchor in the mouth of a little
  brook that emptied into the pond, and jointed their rods. It did not
  take them more than twenty minutes to catch their next morning’s
  breakfast. In fact, the trout were so eager to take their flies,
  sometimes jumping clear out of the water to meet them, that the sport
  was robbed of all excitement.

  “I would as soon fish in an aquarium,” said Roy, as he pulled his rod
  apart and shoved it into its case. “I like to angle for trout, but
  this suits me too well. What would some of Mr. Hanson’s guests, who
  haven’t caught a legal fish this season, give to be here with us?
  Let’s go to camp and see what friend Joe is doing.”

  For some reason or other the boys did not sing and shout, as they
  usually did on occasions like this. Arthur lay at full length in the
  bow, his chin resting on his arms, which were crossed over the
  gunwales, and Roy plied the paddle with so much skill that it scarcely
  made a ripple in the water. As we came noiselessly around the point
  that obstructed our view of the upper end of the spring-hole, Arthur
  uttered an ejaculation of astonishment and alarm, raised himself to a
  sitting posture with so much haste that he came within a hair’s
  breadth of capsizing me, and reached for his gun, while Roy sat with
  open mouth and staring eyes, holding his paddle suspended in the air,
  and looking in the direction of the camp. I looked too, and if I had
  possessed a heart the scene that met my gaze would have set it to
  beating like a trip-hammer.

  Joe Wayring was no longer lying at his ease under the shade of the
  evergreens. He was standing with his face to a tree, which he seemed
  to be clasping with his white, sinewy arms; his back was bared, and he
  was looking over his shoulder at Matt Coyle, who stood behind and a
  little to one side of him, rolling up his sleeves. Near by stood Sam,
  and Jake, each holding a heavy switch in his hand.

  In an instant I comprehended the situation—or thought I did. I had
  heard Matt declare, in savage tones, that some day he and his boys
  would tie Joe Wayring to a tree and larrup him till he’d wish that he
  and his crowd had minded their own business; and now Matt was about to
  carry his threat into execution. He meant to do his work well, when he
  got at it; for, in addition to the switches that Jake and Sam held in
  their hands, I saw several others lying on the ground beside them. I
  had never dreamed that the enmity Matt cherished toward my master was
  so intense and bitter that it would lead him to go twelve miles out of
  his way to wreak vengeance upon him, and it was a mystery to me how he
  ever found out that Joe and his two chums were camping in this
  particular spot. I did not believe that Matt had come there by
  accident, and he hadn’t, either, as I afterward learned. He and his
  boys were on Joe’s trail within three hours after he left Indian Lake,
  and they had been looking for him ever since, being urged on by
  something besides a desire for revenge, as I gained from the very
  first words I heard the squatter utter.

  When we rounded the point we were within less than thirty yards of our
  camp, and in plain sight of it; but its occupants were so deeply
  interested in their own affairs that they did not see us. I felt a
  thrill of indignation run all through me when I caught a glimpse of my
  master’s pale face, and was proud of him when I saw that there were no
  signs of cringing in him. Matt bared his brawny arm clear to the
  shoulder, caught up a switch, gave it a flourish or two to make sure
  that it would stand the work to which he intended to put it, and then
  said in a loud voice, as if he were addressing some one on the other
  side of the spring-hole:

  “Now, then, where is it? You see that we are in dead ’arnest, I
  reckon, don’t you? What have you done with it?”

  “I tell you I don’t know any thing about it,” said Joe’s clear,
  ringing voice in reply. “I never saw it.”

  For some reason or other these words seemed to set Jake Coyle beside
  himself. He yelled like a wild Indian, leaped from the ground, and
  made his heavy switch whistle as it cut the air in close proximity to
  the prisoner’s unprotected back. As soon as he could speak plainly he
  shouted—

  “You have seed it too, an’ you do know somethin’ about it. Whoop! Put
  it onto him, pap, or else stand away from there an’ let me get at him.
  Don’t you mind how he slapped me in the face with that paddle of
  your’n? An’ now he’s gone an’ stole—”

  “Don’t be in a hurry, Jakey,” interrupted Matt. “Your turn’ll come
  after I get through with him. I’ll let you at him directly. Look
  here,” he went on, once more addressing himself to Joe. “You won’t get
  no help from your friends, an’ you needn’t look for it. When we was
  comin’ through the woods, we seen ’em puttin’ for Injun Lake tight as
  they could go. Didn’t we, Jakey? Now if you will ax our parding for
  your meanness to us, an’ tell us where it is, we’ll let you off easy.
  What do you say?”

  “I say I won’t do it,” answered Joe, in undaunted tones. “I shan’t ask
  your pardon, and you can’t make me. I haven’t done any thing to you.”

  “You ain’t?” roared Matt, drawing back the switch as if he were about
  to let it fall on Joe’s back. “Don’t you call drivin’ honest folks
  outen Mount Airy ’cause they ain’t got no good clothes to w’ar, an’
  keepin’ ’em from earnin’ a livin’ that they’ve got jest as good a
  right to as you rich ones have—don’t you call that doin’ somethin’?”

  “And furthermore,” continued Joe, “I tell you, for the last time, that
  I don’t know any thing about that money. I never saw it.”

  “Whoop!” shouted Jake, going off into another war-dance. “You have
  seed it, an’ you know all about it. You had them two grip-sacks into
  your baskets, you an’ your friends did, when you left Injun Lake to
  come up yer. Tom Bigden said so.”

  “Whoop!” yelled Matt, in his turn. “Now you’ve done it, you fule!
  Didn’t that Bigden boy say plain enough that he didn’t want you to
  speak his name at all? See if that won’t put some gumption into your
  thick head; an’ that, an’ that! I’ll learn you to find six thousand
  dollars, an’ go an’ hide it from your pap, an’ then let fellers like
  Joe Wayring steal it from you, you ongrateful scamp.”

[Illustration: ARTHUR HASTINGS’ FORTUNATE ARRIVAL.]

  Jake was generally on the lookout for sudden bursts of fury on the
  part of his sire, but this time he was taken by surprise. Before he
  could dodge or stir an inch from his tracks, he received a most
  unmerciful beating, one that gave me a faint idea of what was in store
  for Joe Wayring. When he turned to run, the face he presented to our
  view was bleeding in half a dozen places.

  “There, now,” exclaimed Matt, who was almost frantic. “Go an’ hide
  some more money from your pap, an’ blab when you was told to hold your
  jaw, won’t you? Now that I have got my hand in, I reckon I might as
  well finish with you,” he continued, turning back and taking his stand
  behind the prisoner. “Once more I ax you: Will you tell me where you
  have hid that money?”

  “I have nothing more to say,” replied Joe, in an unfaltering voice.

  The answer added fuel to the fire of Matt’s rage. He moistened his
  hand and seized the switch with a firmer hold, while Joe turned his
  face to the tree and nerved himself to receive the expected blow. That
  was more than Arthur Hasting could endure; but it brought his
  scattered wits back to him. In an instant his double barrel was at his
  shoulder, and his flashing eye was looking along the rib.

  “Hold on there!” he shouted. “If you touch that boy I will put more
  holes through you than you ever saw in a skimmer. Throw down that gad
  and stand where you are.”

  The effect of these words was magical. Jake Coyle, whose doleful howls
  of anguish had awakened a thousand echoes among the surrounding hills,
  suddenly ceased his lamentations; the white face of Joe Wayring turned
  toward us lighted up with hope; and Matt and Sam looked at Arthur and
  his threatening gun with eyes that seemed to have grown to the size of
  saucers. For a second or two no one moved or spoke; then one of the
  three marauders gave a perfect imitation of the cry of alarm the
  mother grouse utters when her brood is menaced with danger, whereupon
  Matt and his boys disappeared in the most bewildering way. They were
  seen to drop where they stood, and that was the last of them. Although
  Arthur rose to his feet as quickly as he could and Roy plied the
  paddle with all his strength, they did not catch another glimpse of
  the squatter, nor was there the slightest rustling in the bushes to
  tell which way he and his allies had gone.



                              CHAPTER IX.
                        TOM VISITS THE HATCHERY.


  Let us now return to Tom Bigden, whom we last saw paddling
  disconsolately toward the camp where he had left his cousins, Ralph
  and Loren Farnsworth, a short half hour before. Tom had expected to
  spend a pleasant forenoon at the hatchery, taking lessons in
  fish-culture; but his interview with Matt Coyle had knocked that in
  the head. The squatter’s astounding proposition, taken in connection
  with the dreadful things he had threatened to do in case his victim
  failed to comply with his demands, had opened Tom’s eyes to the
  disagreeable fact that he had over-reached himself by yielding to his
  insane desire to take vengeance on Joe Waring. He knew he could not
  enjoy himself at the hatchery with the fear of exposure and disgrace
  hanging over him, so he started for camp at his best paddling pace to
  ask Ralph and Loren what he should do about it.

  “When a fellow like Matt Coyle can lay commands upon me and threaten
  me with punishment if I do not obey them—by gracious! Is it possible
  for me to get any lower down in the world? I wish I had never heard of
  that Joe Wayring. Every thing seems to go smoothly with him without an
  effort on his part, but, no matter how hard I try, every thing goes
  wrong with me. Did any body ever hear of such luck?”

  Tom was angry now as well as frightened, and, what seemed strange to
  me when I heard of it, he blamed Joe Wayring, and not himself, for the
  troubles he had got into. He must have brought a very black face into
  camp with him, for when he ran the bow of his canoe upon the beach in
  front of the grove where Loren and Ralph were idling away the time in
  their hammocks the former called out:

  “Hallo! who are you mad at now?”

  “Everybody,” snarled Tom. “Say, Ralph, you remember that after our
  interview with the squatter, on the day the constable drove him out of
  Mount Airy, you declared that you wouldn’t have had it happen for any
  thing, don’t you?”

  “I remember it perfectly,” replied Ralph. “I was afraid that trouble
  of some sort would grow out of it, and judging from the looks of your
  face my fears have been realized. What’s up?”

  “That was the first interview I held with Matt Coyle, but I am sorry
  to say it wasn’t the last,” continued Tom.

  “Have you seen him to-day?” exclaimed Loren.

  “I have, and I tell you he’s got me in a box. But hold on a minute. I
  want to let you into a secret. It was I who put it into his head to
  steal Joe Wayring’s canvas canoe.”

  “There,” said Ralph, shaking his finger at his brother. “What did I
  tell you?”

  “That’s no secret at all,” answered Loren. “We were satisfied from the
  first that you knew all about it. You looked very surprised and
  innocent, and I know you were mad when you discovered that Matt had
  robbed you as well as the rest of us; but you didn’t play your part
  well enough to ward off all suspicion.”

  These words added to Tom’s fears. “Do you think Joe suspected me?” he
  inquired.

  “If he did, he made no sign,” replied Loren. “Perhaps one reason why
  Ralph and I suspected you was because we could read you better than
  Joe could. Well, what of it?”

  “Well,” said Tom, desperately, “Matt Coyle tells me that, as an
  accessory before the fact, I am liable to punishment at the hands of
  the law. That is what he is working on. You have heard that he stole a
  couple of valuable guns from an unguarded camp a few weeks ago. There
  has been a reward of one hundred dollars offered for the recovery of
  those guns, and, as Matt dare not take them up to the Sportsman’s Home
  himself, he demands that I shall act as his agent, and share the
  reward with him.”

  “Demands?” repeated Loren.

  “But before he will give the guns into my possession, I must pay him
  fifty dollars, cash in hand,” added Tom. “Yes, sir; he _demands_ that
  I shall do this under penalty of being denounced to the officers of
  the law.”

  “Whew!” whistled Ralph. “Here _is_ a go!”

  “That Matt Coyle has more cheek than you showed on the day of the
  canoe meet, when you purposely capsized Prank Noble and claimed foul
  on it,” said Loren. “Are you going to give him the money?”

  “He’ll have to; he can’t get out of it. But here’s where the trouble
  is going to come in,” said Ralph, who was by no means thick-headed if
  he did hate books. “The minute Tom gives him fifty dollars for those
  guns, that minute he puts himself completely in the villain’s power.”

  “That was the way I looked at it,” said Tom. “But what can I do? What
  would you do if you were in my place?”

  “The sight of those fifty dollars will show that lazy Matt how he can
  make a very nice income without doing a stroke of work,” continued
  Ralph. “He’ll go on stealing, and as fast as he accumulates property
  he will make Tom buy it of him, no matter whether there is a reward
  offered for it or not. There is only one thing you can do. You had
  better start for home bright and early to-morrow morning, get fifty
  dollars of your father, if he will give it to you, hand it over to
  Matt as soon as you can find him, and then shake the dust of the
  Indian Lake country from your feet forever, or at least until that
  squatter has been placed behind prison bars.”

  “But Matt says I need not hope to escape him by going home,” said Tom.
  “He reminded me that a constable can catch me in Mount Airy as easily
  as he can here.”

  “That’s so,” assented Ralph, “but what other show have you? When you
  give him the money you will put him in good humor, and I don’t think
  he will denounce you until he has had some sort of a row with you. You
  must keep him good-natured.”

  “And the only way I can do that is by keeping his pockets full,” said
  Tom, with a groan. “I won’t do it. I’ll give him the fifty dollars,
  because I can’t help myself; and when I part from him he will never
  see me again. My supply of spending money is not as generous as it
  might be, and Matt shall not see a dollar of it.”

  “Here’s another point,” said Loren, swinging himself from his hammock.
  “Matt is going to be arrested some day, and what assurance have we
  that he won’t tell all he knows?”

  “We haven’t any,” said Tom, fiercely; and then, to the surprise of
  both his cousins, he broke out into the wildest kind of a tirade
  against Joe Wayring and every body who was a friend to him. Knowing
  that they could not stop him, they let him go on and talk himself out
  of breath.

  “I’d like to see something happen to that boy, for if it hadn’t been
  for him and his chums I never would have been in this fix,” said Tom,
  at last. “Because we wouldn’t toady to them, they slammed the door of
  the archery club in our faces, and went against us in every way they
  knew how. Well, it is a long lane that has no turning, and we may come
  out at the top of the heap yet. Will you fellows stand by me? I mean
  will you go home with me, and come back when I get the money?”

  Ralph and Loren gave it as their opinion that their cousin Tom ought
  to know better than to ask such a question. Hadn’t they always stood
  by him, through thick and thin, and made common cause with him against
  every one he did not like? Of course they would stay with him until
  his trouble with Matt Coyle was settled, and do all they could to help
  him.

  “I’m glad to hear it, for I should dreadfully hate to be left to
  myself in an emergency like this,” said Tom. “But we haven’t a single
  hour to lose. Matt said he would give me ten days to go to Mount Airy
  and return, and we ought to start to-morrow. Which one of you will go
  to the hotel with me after a supply of grub?”

  “Let Ralph go,” said Loren. “He’s treasurer. I will stay here and look
  out for things about the camp, and perhaps I shall be able to think up
  some way for you to wriggle out of Matt Coyle’s clutches.”

  Ralph, weary of loafing about the camp and glad of an opportunity to
  stretch his arms, readily agreed to accompany his cousin to the
  Sportsman’s Home and buy the provisions they would need while on their
  way to Mount Airy. The two set out at once, and when they came back at
  dark they had a startling story to tell the camp-keeper. The Irvington
  bank had been robbed of six thousand dollars, and the thieves had been
  traced to Indian Lake.

  “I should think there were rascals enough here already,” said Loren,
  after he had listened to all the particulars.

  “They keep coming in all the while,” replied Ralph, “and the landlords
  don’t like it very well. It’s hurting their business. The sportsmen,
  especially those who have women and children with them, are leaving as
  fast as they can pack up. We’ll be off to-morrow, and I hope we shall
  never come here for another outing. Tom, are you sure you can take us
  straight to the creek that leads from the pond to the Indian river?
  You know we told you that, in the absence of a guide, we should depend
  on you to show us the way home.”

  “Don’t be uneasy,” was Tom’s confident answer. “I have a good many
  landmarks to go by, and I’ll not take you an inch out of a direct
  line.”

  Of course there was but one thing talked about around that camp fire
  between supper time and the hour for retiring, and that was the
  attempt on the part of Matt Coyle to make a receiver of stolen
  property out of Tom Bigden. The longer they dwelt upon it the darker
  Tom’s prospects seemed to become. The fear of what the squatter could
  do, if he made up his mind to be ugly, effectually banished sleep from
  their eyes for the greater part of the night; and the consequence was
  that when they arose from their beds of browse the next morning they
  were too cross and snappish to be civil to one another. During the
  time that was consumed in cooking and eating breakfast, packing the
  canoes, and getting under way, they did not speak half a dozen words
  aloud; but they all kept up a good deal of thinking, and no doubt it
  was while Tom was in a fit of abstraction that he lost his way. At any
  rate, he left the lake at least two miles below the point at which he
  ought to have left it. He turned into the creek up which Matt Coyle
  and his boys fled on the morning following their encounter with Joe
  Wayring and his chums, and Ralph and Loren blindly followed his lead.
  Not until they made a landing, about two o’clock in the afternoon, to
  eat their lunch, did Tom begin to suspect that he was a little out of
  his reckoning. If they had come there a few hours sooner, they would
  have seen Mr. Swan and his party; for, as luck would have it, they had
  landed within a short distance of Matt Coyle’s old camp.

  “I am obliged to confess that I am any thing but a trustworthy guide
  for this neck of the woods,” said Tom, after he had looked in vain for
  some of the landmarks of which he had spoken the day before. “I don’t
  think I ever saw this place until this moment.”

  “Well, I am sure I have,” said Loren. “On our way down we camped
  within sight of that leaning tree over there. Didn’t we, Ralph?”

  “I think so. I am quite sure I shot at an eagle on that same leaning
  tree. You fellows fix the lunch, and I will very soon find out whether
  I am right or wrong,” said Ralph, getting upon his feet and shoving a
  cartridge into each barrel of his gun. “If this is the place I think
  it is, I shall find a little clearing back here about a hundred yards,
  grown up to briers. Don’t you remember we picked a few berries there
  on the way down?”

  “I haven’t forgotten about the berries, but I don’t think you will
  find that or any other clearing in these thick woods,” answered Tom.
  “But go ahead and look, and we will have the lunch ready by the time
  you get back.”

  Ralph shouldered his gun and disappeared among the evergreens. He was
  gone about ten minutes, and then Tom and Loren heard him calling to
  them in an excited voice.

  “Oh, fellows! Oh, fellows!” shouted Ralph. “Come here. Come as quick
  as you know how.”

  Tom and his cousin were in no hurry to obey this peremptory summons.
  They did not know what they might find back there in the bushes. Their
  faces turned white, and the hands with which they pushed the
  cartridges into their guns trembled visibly.

  “Are you coming?” cried Ralph, impatiently.

  “What have you found?” Loren managed to ask, in reply.

  “Something that will make you open your eyes,” was the answer. “But it
  won’t hurt you. Why don’t you come on?”

  These reassuring words brought Tom and Loren to their feet and took
  them into the evergreens; but it was not without fear and trembling
  that they slowly worked their way toward the place from which Ralph’s
  voice sounded, nor did they neglect to hold themselves in readiness to
  take to their heels the instant they saw any thing alarming. They
  reached Ralph’s side at last, and were astonished beyond measure to
  find him holding a Victoria gun-case in one hand and an elegant
  double-barrel hammerless in the other. As they came up he raised the
  hand that held the case, directing their attention to a finely
  finished Winchester rifle that rested against a log near by.

  “What’s the meaning of this? Where did you find them?” exclaimed Tom,
  as soon as he had found his tongue.

  Before speaking Ralph stepped to the end of the log and pointed to the
  hollow in it. Then he picked up a bush that appeared to have been
  lately cut, and laid it across the opening.

  “That’s the way it was when I came along here a few minutes ago,” said
  he. “I stumbled against something, and when I looked to see what it
  was I found that I had kicked this bush away and exposed the opening.
  As I was searching for that blackberry-patch, and nothing else, I was
  about to pass on, when something glittering caught my eye. It was the
  buckle on this gun-case. That’s my answer to your second question,
  Tom. In reply to your first, I say: It means that you need have no
  further trouble with Matt Coyle, and you needn’t ask your father for
  that money.”

  “Do—do you think these are the stolen guns?” stammered Tom.

  “Of course they are,” said Loren, confidently. “That one by the log is
  a Winchester, and I see the name Lefever on this. I tell you, old
  fellow, you are in luck.”

  “For once in my life I believe I am,” said Tom, taking the
  double-barrel from his cousin’s hand and giving it a good looking
  over. “Seen any signs of the berry-patch, Ralph?”

  “Never a sign.”

  “And you won’t see any in this part of the country, either,” answered
  Tom. “We missed our way, and that was a very fortunate thing for me.
  I’ve got the weather-gauge of Matt Coyle now. Let’s eat our lunch and
  start back for our old camp.”

  So saying Tom shouldered the Lefever hammerless and turned his face
  toward the creek, Loren following with the Victoria case in his hand,
  and Ralph bringing up the rear with the Winchester. They had many a
  hearty laugh at Matt Coyle’s expense, but when they sat down to lunch
  they began to look at the matter seriously.

  “You’ve got the upper hand of him now, and you want to keep it,” said
  Ralph. “I don’t think it would be quite safe for you to defy him.”

  “By no means,” replied Tom. “I have no intention of doing any thing of
  the sort. I shall have an interview with him at the earliest possible
  moment, and tell him when he produces the guns I will give him his
  money. I can’t be expected to fill my part of the contract until he
  fills his; and that’s something he can’t do, thanks to Ralph. Why,
  boys, I feel as if I had got rid of an awful load.”

  For the first time since he came to Mount Airy to live Tom Bigden was
  perfectly happy. According to his way of looking at it, he had turned
  the tables on the squatter very neatly, and any sensible boy would
  have said that the best thing he could do was to keep clear of that
  low fellow in future. But he did not do it. Scarcely a week passed
  away before his hatred for Joe Wayring led him into a worse scrape
  than the one from which he had just been extricated by his cousin’s
  lucky discovery.

  I must not forget to say that while the boys were lounging about on
  the bank of the creek, eating their bacon and cracker, there was
  something going on in the woods behind them. Every thing they did
  while they were standing beside that hollow log, examining the guns
  that had been found in it, was seen, and every word they uttered had
  been overheard by a young ragamuffin who was concealed within less
  than a stone’s throw of them. Ralph Farnsworth had come upon him so
  suddenly that he did not have time to run far. He shook both his fists
  in the air and gnashed his teeth with rage when he saw Tom and his
  cousins walk away with the guns in their possession, and as soon as
  they were out of sight he came from his place of concealment and crept
  toward the log on all-fours. But he did not stop there. He simply
  glanced at the hollow as he passed and presently disappeared in a
  thicket on the opposite side. When he came into view again he was
  closely hugging two small valises, one under each arm. The angry scowl
  was gone from his face, and he was grinning broadly and going through
  a variety of uncouth antics, expressive, no doubt, of great
  satisfaction and delight. He stopped and listened, and the sounds that
  came to his ears told him that Tom Bigden and his companions were
  shoving off in their canoes and heading down the creek toward the
  lake. When their voices died away in the distance he bent himself
  almost double, and moved off with long, noiseless strides.

  The three canoeists reached their camp in the grove long before dark,
  for the swift current in the creek helped them along at the rate of
  three miles an hour. Tom’s first care was to make sure of the guns;
  and these he at once proceeded to hide in the thick branches of an
  evergreen, while his cousins cut wood, made the fire, and cooked the
  supper. They had brought very light hearts back with them, but one of
  their number, at least, did not sleep any the better for it. It was
  Tom, who grew uneasy every time he thought of the coming interview
  with the squatter, which he hoped to bring about on the following day.
  How was it going to end? That was the question Tom kept asking
  himself, and when he saw the day breaking, after an almost sleepless
  night, he had not found a satisfactory answer to it.

  “I suppose we ought to go to the Sportsman’s Home at once and give
  those guns up,” said Loren, as he raked the coals together and threw
  on an armful of fresh fuel. “We’ll not touch the reward, of course.”

  “Certainly not,” replied Ralph. “But I would freely give a hundred
  dollars, if I had it, to see Matt Coyle shut up for a long term of
  years.”

  “But he will have a trial before he is shut up, and there is no
  knowing what secrets he may tell while that trial is in progress,”
  said Loren.

  “You don’t know how that thought worries me,” said Tom. “It is on my
  mind continually. I wish you fellows wouldn’t give up the guns until I
  have seen Matt.”

  “What good will it do to keep them?” asked Loren.

  “I don’t know that it will do any good; but I should like to be with
  you when you hand them over to Mr. Hanson. I can’t go up to the
  Sportsman’s Home to-day, for I have a most disagreeable piece of work
  to do first. The sooner I get that off my hands, the sooner I shall
  feel easy.”

  Tom ate but little breakfast, for he seemed to have lost all desire
  for food. He drank a cup of coffee, and then arose to his feet and
  said good-by, adding, as he pushed his canoe from the beach and
  stepped into it—

  “I shall have something to tell you when I come back. I don’t know
  whether it will be good or bad, but when I see you again I shall know
  more than I do now.”

  “Where are you going?”

  “Down to the hatchery. It was while I was on my way there day before
  yesterday that I met Matt. I have an idea that he hangs out somewhere
  in that neighborhood.”

  Tom passed a very pleasant hour with the superintendent, who showed
  him every thing of interest there was to be seen about the hatchery,
  and took much pains to make all the little details of the science
  clear to him, even going back to the time of the Romans, among whom,
  it is stated by several writers, the art approached a remarkable
  degree of perfection; but it is doubtful if Tom knew any more about
  fishes when he went away than he did when he came. He was thinking of
  Matt Coyle, to whom the superintendent incidentally referred daring
  the progress of the conversation.

  “When we first came here, of course we were empty-handed,” said he.
  “We set the traps in the outlet to catch fish so that we could get
  their eggs; but a few vagabonds of the Coyle stamp made it their
  business to cut our nets almost as fast as we could put them in. When
  we threatened to have them arrested, they replied that we had better
  let them alone or they would set fire to the hatchery. They said they
  would fish where they pleased, and nobody should stop them; but they
  have thought better of it, and don’t bother us any now. Matt Coyle and
  his boys are the worst of the lot. They steal every thing they eat and
  wear, but so far they have not interfered with us. When they do, we
  shall have them arrested, Hanson or no Hanson.”

  “What has he to do with it?” inquired Tom. “Doesn’t he want them to be
  arrested?”

  “Not just yet; not until he has recovered two stolen guns Matt has in
  his possession,” answered the superintendent. “That is a matter of
  dollars and cents to both the hotels at the lake, for if those guns
  are not restored to their owners the landlords will be ruined.”

  “Perhaps if he were shut up for a while he would lose heart, and tell
  where the guns could be found,” suggested Tom.

  “Swan and the other guides who know him think differently. That was my
  idea, and I urged it upon the guides, for I wanted that villain and
  all his tribe out of my way. But Swan says Matt is a man who can’t be
  driven. However, Rube has his eye on him, and perhaps he will discover
  something one of these days.”

  “Who is Rube?” asked Tom.

  “Our watchman. He used to be one of Hanson’s guides; but he proved too
  lazy for the business, so Hanson induced us to bring him down here to
  watch the hatchery and act as spy upon Matt’s movements at the same
  time. When Swan and his friends destroyed Matt’s camp Rube took him
  into his house. He and his family are there now, and Rube is trying
  the best he knows how to get into their confidence so that they will
  tell him where these guns are concealed. I ought, perhaps, to say that
  three members of the family are at Rube’s house now. Where the other
  is no one seems to know. Yesterday morning the sheriff made an attempt
  to arrest Jake, but the family got warning in time, took to the woods,
  and Jake hasn’t come back yet.”

  “What had he been doing?” inquired Tom, who was much more interested
  in this than he was in the science of fish-culture.

  “You heard about the Irvington bank robbery, didn’t you? Well, every
  thing goes to prove that the six thousand dollars the thieves secured
  is now in Jake Coyle’s hands.”

  This was the most astounding piece of news that Tom Bigden had ever
  listened to. “How did Jake get hold of it?” he asked.

  “Well, the sheriff summoned a posse, caught the robbers after a short
  chase, and they told him that the boy they hired to ferry them over
  the lake, and who was robbing a cellar when they first spoke to him,
  capsized them on purpose and spilled the money out into the water. You
  see Jake caught a glimpse of the money when one of the robbers opened
  his valise to pay him the five dollars he demanded for ferrying them
  over, and made up his mind to have it for his own.”

  “I had no idea Jake Coyle was smart enough to do a thing like that,”
  said Tom, who could scarcely credit his ears. “Do you believe the
  story?”

  “Why, the guides tell me that the whole family are sharper than steel
  traps. Of course I believe the story. On the way home the sheriff ran
  upon a canvas canoe that Matt stole from Joe Wayring up in Sherwin’s
  Pond, and the robbers recognized it the minute it was put together as
  the one in which they had started to cross the lake. When the sheriff
  heard this he knew at once that the ferryman was Jake Coyle, and
  nobody else, for he is the one who steals all the grub for the family.
  When they came here to be set across the outlet they surrounded Rube’s
  house with the intention of arresting Jake, but he and the rest had
  been warned, as I told you, and could not be found. After that the
  sheriff took one of the robbers up the lake to point out the snag on
  which Jake capsized the canvas canoe, but the money wasn’t there.”

  “Have you any idea what had become of it?”

  “I haven’t the least doubt that Jake went up there night before last,
  dived for the valises and took them off in the woods and hid them.
  That is what the sheriff thinks, and it is the plan he is working on.”

  “I am glad I went to the hatchery this morning,” thought Tom, as he
  pulled slowly toward camp after thanking the accommodating official
  for the pains he had taken to teach him something. “I have had a good
  time, and I have heard one or two things that may be of use to me.”



                               CHAPTER X.
                      MORE TROUBLE FOR TOM BIGDEN.


  While on his way from his camp to the hatchery Tom Bigden had kept as
  close to the beach as the depth of the water would permit, looking
  everywhere for Matt Coyle, but without seeing any thing of him. Better
  luck, however, awaited him on his return, for when he came opposite to
  a lonely part of the beach, near the spot on which their former
  interview was held, he saw the squatter step cautiously out the bushes
  and beckon to him. No doubt the man was surprised at the readiness
  with which Tom brought his canoe around and headed it for the shore.

  “Say,” exclaimed Matt, when Tom had come within speaking distance.
  “I’m powerful glad to see you, ’cause I want to let you know that I
  can’t wait no ten days for them fifty dollars. I must have it to
  onct.”

  “What’s your hurry?” asked Tom. He did not exhibit any signs of anger,
  although the man was even more peremptory and domineering than he had
  been before. Tom knew that the squatter’s triumph would be of short
  duration, and he could afford to let him be as insolent as he pleased.

  “I’m goin’ to buy some furnitur’ of Rube, an’ he won’t let it go
  less’n he gets the cash in his hands first,” answered Matt.

  “What do you want of furniture while you are living in Rube’s house?
  Why can’t you use his?”

  “How do you happen to know that I am livin’ into Rube’s house?”
  demanded the squatter, opening his eyes.

  “Why, every body knows it,” replied Tom, carelessly. “It is pretty
  well known, too, that you narrowly escaped capture when the sheriff’s
  posse surrounded that house the other morning. Where are you living
  now, and what has become of Jake?”

  “Say,” replied Matt, speaking in the confidential tone that had so
  exasperated Tom on a former occasion. “I don’t mind telling you all
  about it. Things is gettin’ too public around Rube’s house to suit us,
  an’, besides, we don’t think he’s the friend to us that he pertends to
  be; so we’re goin’ to take to the bresh, an’ there we’re goin’ to
  stay. I want some chairs an’ bed fixin’s to furnish my shanty, when I
  get it built. Rube’s got ’em, but he wants the ready money for ’em. I
  seen you when you was down there to the hatchery, an’ that’s the
  reason I come up here to ketch you.”

  “All right,” said Tom. “How soon can you produce those guns?”

  “I can have ’em here to-morrer mornin’ by sun-up.”

  “That’s too early for me,” replied Tom. “We have breakfast about six,
  and I can get here by seven; I will be here.”

  “Not to-morrer?” exclaimed Matt.

  “Yes, to-morrow.”

  “But you said you would have to go to Mount Airy after the money.”

  “I have seen my cousins since then, and I find that it will not be
  necessary for me to go home.”

  “Have you got the money?” said Matt, eagerly.

  Tom winked first one eye and then the other.

  “There, now. I knowed you had it all the time; but you kind of thought
  you could beat me in some way or other, an’ that you could get out of
  buyin’ them guns. But you know better now, don’t you? I want to be
  friends with you, but I tell you, pine-plank, that I won’t stand no
  nonsense. I’ll tell on you sure, if you—”

  “Now, don’t switch off on that track, for if you do I’ll not listen to
  another word,” said Tom, angrily; and to show that he was in earnest
  he pushed his canoe away from the beach and turned the bow up the
  lake.

  Then there was a short pause, during which Matt stood with his hands
  on his hips and his eyes fastened searchingly upon the boy’s face. It
  was beginning to dawn upon him that Tom was a trifle more independent
  than he had been.

  “Say,” he growled at last. “What trick are you up to?”

  “Why, what makes you think I am up to any trick?” asked Tom,
  innocently. “You said you wanted me to buy those guns for fifty
  dollars; and I say I will be ready to do it to-morrow morning. Is
  there any trick about that?”

  “You’re goin’ to bring a constable with you,” Matt almost shouted. The
  thought popped into his head suddenly, and made him dance with rage.

  “I shall come alone,” was the quiet reply.

  “There ain’t no one constable in the Injun Lake country that can take
  me up,” Matt went on, furiously. “But if you do bring one on ’em with
  you, I’ll tell him that you was knowin’ to my stealin’ of that canvas
  canoe.”

  “What’s the use of lashing yourself into a tempest for nothing?” said
  Tom, coolly. “You can hide in the bushes, and if you see any one with
  me you need not come out. I’ll be here at seven o’clock, and when you
  put those two guns into my canoe I will put fifty dollars in
  greenbacks into your hand. Is that the understanding?”

  “Don’t you want me to hide ’em a piece back in the bresh so’t you can
  say that you found ’em?” inquired Matt, in rather more civil tones.

  “No; I want you to put them into my canoe. I will find them there,
  won’t I? Is it a bargain or not?”

  “It’s a bargain. I’ll be here; an’ if you ain’t—”

  The squatter did not say what he would do if Tom failed to appear at
  the appointed hour, for the latter did not linger to listen to him. He
  put his canoe in motion again and pulled toward the point above, while
  Matt backed up to a log and took his pipe from his pocket.

  “Something’s wrong somewheres,” he told himself, as he filled up for a
  smoke. “He didn’t act that-a-way t’other day, but was as humble as a
  hound purp that had jest been licked. Now, what’s in the wind, do you
  reckon? Has he been snoopin’ round in the woods an’ found them
  six—whoop!”

  The bare thought that perhaps Tom had stumbled upon the valises, and
  intended paying him for the stolen guns out of the money that Matt
  regarded as his own, was enough to drive the man frantic. He sprang to
  his feet, jammed his pipe into his pocket, caught up his rifle, which
  he had placed behind a convenient tree, and dashed into the bushes.

  “I wonder how Mr. Coyle feels by this time,” chuckled Tom, as he
  rounded the point and left the place of meeting out of sight. “My face
  must be an awful tell-tale, for Matt knew there was something up as
  soon as he looked at me. I expect to have a time with him to-morrow.”

  With this reflection Tom dismissed Matt Coyle from his mind, and
  thought of Jake and the extraordinary trick to which he had resorted
  to gain possession of those valises and their contents. He certainly
  did know more when he arrived at camp than he did when he went away in
  the morning, and he had so much to tell that it was almost supper time
  before the dinner was served. Another sleepless night, a single cup of
  coffee in the morning, and Tom was ready for what he fondly hoped
  would be his last interview with Matt Coyle.

  “I am afraid you are going into danger,” said Ralph, anxiously. “I
  shall not draw an easy breath until I see you coming back. Be very
  careful, and don’t let him get the slightest advantage of you.”

  Although Tom was in no very enviable frame of mind, he made reply to
  the effect that he knew just what he was going to do, for he had
  thought it all over while his cousins were wrapped in slumber, and
  then he sat down in his canoe and paddled away. His heart beat a
  little faster than usual when he came within sight of the place where
  he was to meet the squatter. The latter was not to be seen; but as Tom
  backed water with his paddle, and brought his canoe to a stand-still a
  few feet from shore, he came out of the bushes and showed himself.
  Acting upon the hint Tom had given him the day before, Matt kept
  concealed long enough to make sure that the boy had not brought an
  officer with him for company. Tom was really amazed when he looked at
  him. Instead of the angry, half-crazy man he expected to meet, he saw
  before him (if there were any faith to be put in appearances) one of
  the jolliest, happiest mortals in existence. His face was one broad
  smile, and he rubbed his soiled and begrimed palms together as if he
  already held between them the greenbacks which he thought Tom carried
  in his pocket.

  “That’s all gammon. He has laid a trap for me,” soliloquized the boy;
  and, alarmed by the thought, he gave a quick, strong stroke with the
  double paddle that sent the canoe ten feet farther away from the
  beach. Matt saw and understood, and for a brief moment a savage scowl
  took the place of the smile he had put on for the occasion. But it
  cleared away as quickly as it came, and then Matt smiled again.

  “Have you got it?” said he, in insinuating tones. “Have you brung the
  money with you?”

  For an answer Tom winked his left eye.

  “I’m powerful glad to hear it,” said Matt. “Come ashore an’ we’ll soon
  settle this business.”

  “Where are the guns?”

  “Back in the woods a piece. I hid ’em in the bresh, ’cause I thought
  that mebbe you would rather take ’em out yourself, so’t you could say
  you found ’em without tellin’ no lie about it. See?”

  “That isn’t according to the agreement we made yesterday,” replied
  Tom. “I told you, as plainly as I could speak it, that you must put
  the guns into my canoe and I would find them there.”

  “Well, how be I goin’ to put ’em in your canoe while you keep it
  twenty feet from shore?” demanded Matt. “You come up closter.”

  “You go and get the guns. It will be time enough for me to get in
  closer when I see that you have got them.”

  “An’ it will be time enough for me to get the guns when I see that you
  have brung the money with you,” retorted Matt, who was getting so
  angry that he could with difficulty control himself.

  Tom laid his paddle across his knee and took a purse from his pocket,
  all the while keeping a sharp watch upon Matt Coyle, who had moved
  down the beach, inch by inch, until he was now standing in the edge of
  the water. Taking from the purse a small roll of bills, Tom held it up
  before his right eye and winked at the squatter with the other.

  “There’s money; now where are the guns?” said he. “I thought you were
  in a great hurry to have the business settled.”

  “I don’t believe there’s any fifty dollars in that there little wad of
  greenbacks,” replied Matt. “Lemme see you count ’em out on your knee.”

  Instead of complying with this request, Tom shut up the purse and put
  it into his pocket. When Matt saw that, he could no longer restrain
  himself. With a sound that was more like a roar than a shout, he
  jumped into the water, his arms extended and his fingers spread out
  like the claws of some wild beast, and made a long plunge in the hope
  of seizing upon the gunwale of Tom’s canoe. But the boy was on the
  alert. With one stroke of the paddle he sent the canoe far out of
  reach, and in a second more Matt was floundering in water that was
  over his head. Knowing that he could not overtake Tom by swimming, he
  gave vent to his fury in a volley of oaths, and went back to the
  beach; whereupon Tom also returned, and took up his old position.

  “It seems that you are the one that is up to tricks,” said he, smiling
  in spite of himself at the ludicrous figure Matt Coyle presented in
  his dripping garments. “Now, when you get ready, I should like to have
  you tell me what you meant by trying to get hold of my canoe?”

  “Why didn’t you count out the money on your knee, like I told you,
  so’t I could be sure you had brung the fifty dollars?” roared Matt,
  shaking both his clenched hands at Tom.

  “Didn’t I take your word for it when you told me that you had the
  guns? Very well; you will have to take mine when I say that I am ready
  to carry out my part of the agreement when you carry out yours. Show
  me the guns; that’s all I ask of you. Look here; do you know where
  those guns are at this moment?”

  “No, I don’t,” answered Matt, blurting out the truth before he
  thought.

  “So I supposed. Well, I do. When the sheriff and his posse were coming
  home, after capturing those bank robbers, they found Joe Wayring’s
  canvas canoe, and likewise the Lefever hammerless and Winchester
  rifle.”

[Illustration: TOM BIGDEN BLOCKS MATT COYLE’S GAME.]

  “Whoop!” yelled the squatter. “’Tain’t so, nuther. They wasn’t all hid
  in the same place.”

  “I know it,” replied Tom, who knew just nothing at all about it. The
  canvas canoe might have been concealed in that hollow log and Tom and
  his cousins would have been none the wiser for it; because after the
  guns had been brought to light they did not look for any thing else.
  “You must remember that there were several men in that posse, and that
  they could cover a good deal of ground in an hour’s time. They
  searched every inch of those woods, and found—”

  Matt opened his mouth and gasped for breath.

  “Did they—did they find—”

  “No,” answered Tom, who knew what Matt would have said if he could.
  “They did not find any money. Your Jake is the only one who knows
  where that is.”

  “I know where it is, too,” said the squatter, whose lip quivered as if
  he had half a mind to cry about it. “But the trouble is that I can’t
  find it.”

  “Then if you can’t find it you don’t know where it is.”

  “I tell you I do too. It’s up there in the same woods that the canoe
  an’ guns was hid in,” cried Matt, once more speaking a little too
  hastily.

  It was now Tom’s turn to open his eyes. After a little reflection he
  said—

  “If you think the money is in that particular part of the woods, why
  don’t you go there and stay till you find it? Or else make Jake show
  you where it is.”

  “But Jakey won’t do it. He ain’t that sort of a boy.”

  “Then denounce him to the sheriff.”

  “What’s that?”

  “Why, expose him; tell on him. I’ll bet you he will be quite willing
  to reveal the hiding-place of those valises when he feels an officer’s
  grip on his collar.”

  “But what good will that do me? The constable who takes Jakey up will
  get the reward that’s been offered, an’ I shan’t see none of it.
  Whoop!” shouted Matt, going off into another paroxysm of rage. “Every
  thing an’ every body seems to be goin’ agin me this mornin’.”

  “Well, then,” said Tom, who had the strongest of reasons for hoping
  that the squatter might never fall into the clutches of the law, “if I
  were in your place, I would have a serious talk with Jake. I’d tell
  him that he is sure to be arrested, sooner or later, that it is
  preposterous for him to think he can keep the money, and urge him to
  give it up and claim a portion of the reward. Some of it will have to
  go to the officers who found the robbers, you know. If you will do
  that, I will promise that Joe Wayring will not prosecute you for
  stealing his canoe.”

  “’Taint no ways likely that Joe would do a favor for you,” said Matt,
  in a discouraged tone, “’cause you an’ him don’t hitch.”

  “I know we don’t like each other any too well, but I can say a word
  for you, all the same. I don’t know that I can do any good here, so I
  will go back to camp. I came down according to agreement, but I knew I
  shouldn’t make any thing by it. You held fast to those guns too long.
  They have been found, and your hundred dollars are up stump.”

  “If you knowed it, why did you pester me that-a-way for?” demanded the
  squatter, growing angry again.

  “Why did you tell me you had the guns hidden a little way back in the
  woods when you hadn’t?” asked Tom, in reply. “I saw through your game
  at once. Your object was to get me ashore and rob me. You would have
  committed a State’s prison offense; but I shall not say any thing
  about it unless you wag your tongue too freely about me. If you do
  that, look out for yourself.”

  So saying, Tom turned his canoe about and started for camp, well
  satisfied with the result of his interview with the squatter. He had
  kept his temper in spite of strong provocation, and made Matt believe
  that he was in no way responsible for the loss of the guns. More than
  that, he had given him good honest advice, and kept up a show of
  friendship by making a promise he did not mean to fulfill.

  “I’d like to see myself asking a favor of that Joe Wayring,” said he,
  with a sneer. “It would please him too well, and I wouldn’t do it
  under any circumstances. My object was to leave Matt in good humor, if
  I could. Of course he was mad because he did not get the money, but
  not as mad as he would have been if he had succeeded in getting hold
  of the canoe. If he had done that, I calculated to give him such a rap
  over the head with my paddle that he wouldn’t get over it for a month.
  I don’t think I shall have any more trouble with him this season. Next
  vacation I shall steer clear of Indian Lake, and take my outing
  somewhere else.”

  Ralph Farnsworth and his brother were so very much concerned about Tom
  that they did not do any camp work after he went away. As soon as he
  was out of sight, they sat down on the bank close to the water’s edge,
  and there they remained for four long, anxious hours before Tom came
  around the point and showed himself to them. When he saw them waiting
  for him he took off his cap and waved it in triumph over his head.

  “He was awful mad, and, after trying in vain to get me out on shore so
  that he could take my money away from me, he rushed into the water and
  made a grab at the canoe,” said Tom, as he ran the bow of his little
  craft upon the beach. “But, after all, I didn’t have as much of a time
  with him as I thought I should. There’s your purse, Ralph. Now, if one
  of you will dish up a good dinner, I think I can do justice to it. I
  haven’t had much appetite for a day or two past, but I am ravenously
  hungry now.”

  With these preliminary remarks Tom Bigden took possession of one of
  the hammocks and told his story from beginning to end, saying, in
  conclusion—

  “That part of the woods seems to be a repository for Matt Coyle’s
  stolen goods. If we had looked a little farther we might have found
  that money.”

  “I wish we had,” said Loren. “Of course we should have laid no claim
  to a share of the reward. We would have given our portion to the
  guides, and perhaps gained their good will by it. Every time we go to
  the hotel after supplies or mail I notice that they look at us
  cross-eyed, as if they thought we were good fellows to let alone.”

  “And what makes them do it?” Tom almost shouted. “It is because Joe
  Wayring and his friends have gained Swan’s ears, and stuffed him full
  of lies about us. Ugh! How I should like to see that boy taken
  down—clear down; as far as any body can go by land. Say,” he added,
  after cooling off a little, “I am ready to give up the guns now. Matt
  Coyle may believe that Swan and his party found them at the time they
  found Wayring’s canoe, and he may not. At any rate, I do not like to
  take the risk of his jumping down on our camp some dark night and
  finding them here. So I propose that we get rid of them this very
  afternoon.”

  The others agreeing, and a bountiful dinner having been disposed of,
  the three boys stepped into their canoes and set out for Indian Lake,
  taking the guns with them. A more astonished and delighted man than
  Mr. Hanson was when they walked into his office and laid the cases
  upon his desk Tom and his cousins had seldom seen; but the language in
  which he expressed his gratitude for the service they had rendered him
  almost made Tom wish that he had held fast to the guns a little
  longer. After asking when, and where, and how they had found them, and
  listening with the liveliest interest to their story, Mr. Hanson said—

  “That villain Coyle shall be arrested to-morrow, if I have unemployed
  guides enough in my pay to find him. I should have been after him two
  weeks ago, if it hadn’t been for these guns; and now that I’ve got
  them I shall not fool with him a day longer. You have fairly earned
  the reward,” he added, opening his money drawer, “and I am
  authorized—”

  “We don’t need money, Mr. Hanson, and we’ll not touch a cent of it,”
  interrupted Ralph. “Give it to the guides who lost their situations
  when the guns were stolen.”

  “Swan and Bob Martin?” said Mr. Hanson. “Well, they are deserving men,
  and, although they did not lose their situations on account of the
  loss of the guns, because they were working for me and not for the
  sportsmen with whom they went into the woods, still I know they would
  be glad to have the money. I’ll hand it to them, if you say so, and
  tell them I do it at your request.”

  “Thank you,” answered Ralph. “We shall be much obliged.”

  “Hold on a minute,” said Mr. Hanson, as the boys turned away from the
  desk. “The gentlemen who own these guns are not the only ones
  benefited by your lucky find. You have saved me the loss of a good
  deal of patronage, and I wish to make you some return for it. Whenever
  you want any supplies, go to the store-house and get them. They shan’t
  cost you a cent.”

  Thanking the landlord for his liberality, Tom and his companions left
  the hotel and walked slowly through the grounds toward the beach.

  “The place is almost deserted,” observed Tom. “There are not half as
  many guests here as there were the first time we saw the Sportsman’s
  Home.”

  “Probably they have gone into the woods,” said Loren.

  “Then how does it come that there are so many guides lying around
  doing nothing?” asked Tom. “I don’t believe there are many guests in
  the woods. They have gone home, or to other fishing grounds where
  their camps will not be robbed the minute they turn their backs. Matt
  said he would ruinate the hotels, if they didn’t give him work, and he
  seems in a fair way to do it.”

  “Say,” whispered Ralph. “I didn’t like what Hanson said about having
  Matt Coyle arrested.”

  Tom was about to answer that he didn’t like it either, when he heard
  footsteps behind him and a voice calling out: “Just another word
  before you go, boys,” and upon turning around he saw Mr. Hanson in
  pursuit.

  “I forgot one thing,” said he, when he came up. “Can you make it
  convenient to come here day after to-morrow morning? By that time
  we’ll have Matt hard and fast, most likely. The sheriff says he will
  have to take him to Irvington, that being the nearest place at which
  we can have him bound over to appear before the circuit court. I can
  prove by Rube Royall, the watchman at the hatchery, that Matt
  acknowledged stealing and concealing the guns, and I shall need you to
  testify to the finding of them. You will be around, won’t you?”

  The boys said they would, but their voices were almost inaudible, and
  the faces they turned toward one another when Mr. Hanson had left them
  were very white indeed.

  “Now we _are_ in a scrape,” said Loren, who was the first to break the
  silence. “Tom Bigden, that fellow will tell all he knows about you
  just so sure as you get up in court to bear witness against him. You
  told him that the guides found and returned the guns.”

  “So I did,” groaned Tom. “So I did; but he won’t be long in finding
  out that I lied to him, will he? What shall I do? What can I do?
  There’s one thing about it,” added Tom, who, although badly
  frightened, tried to put a bold face on the matter. “Matt Coyle has
  not yet been arrested, and I’ve got so much at stake that I don’t want
  him to be. I shall seek another interview with him in the morning,
  and, if I can bring it about, I will tell him just what Hanson said
  about him. It is all that Joe Wayring’s fault. If he had treated us
  decently I wouldn’t have been in this scrape. I’ll do that boy some
  injury the first good chance I get.”

  On their way to camp the boys kept within talking distance of one
  another and discussed the situation. Loren was of opinion that his
  cousin Tom had better draw a bee-line for Mount Airy bright and early
  the next morning; but Tom and Ralph agreed in saying that that would
  be the very worst thing that could be done under the circumstances.
  Mr. Hanson had plainly told them that he would need them for
  witnesses, and if Tom was foolish enough to run away he had better
  make a long run while he was about it and get out of the State, or the
  authorities would catch him sure.

  “I shall not run an inch. I’ve got to stay and face it down,” said
  Tom, quietly; and his cousins knew, by the way the words came out,
  that he had decided upon his course. “There were no witnesses present
  when I told Matt to steal Joe Wayring’s canoe, and the matter will
  simply resolve itself into a question of veracity; and when it comes
  to that I think my word will have about as much weight as a tramp’s.
  All the same, I don’t want Matt arrested if it can possibly be
  avoided.”

  Tom slept the sleep of the exhausted that night, and at seven o’clock
  the next morning shoved his canoe away from the beach and pulled
  toward the hatchery.



                              CHAPTER XI.
                           SAM ON THE TRAIL.


  “There, now,” soliloquized Jake Coyle, as he wended his way through
  the gloomy woods after concealing the canvas canoe and the two valises
  he had fished up from the bottom of the lake. “I’m a rich man, an’
  nobody but me knows the first thing about it. As soon as it gets
  daylight, I’ll come back an’ hide the guns an’ the money an’ the canoe
  all together, in a better place, so’t if pap gets a hint of what is
  goin’ on, an’ I have to dig out from home in the middle of the night,
  I shall know right where to find ’em without runnin’ through the woods
  to hunt ’em up. Now, as soon as I can get Rube to buy me some shoes
  an’ clothes an’ powder an’ lead, I’ll go back to some of them swamps
  that I’ve heared pap tell about, an’ trap on my own hook. I’ll sell my
  skins in New London, ’cause nobody don’t know me there. I’ll be
  ’rested if I stay around where pap is.”

  In blissful ignorance of the fact that his father, following close
  behind him, had seen almost every move he made that night, Jake
  lumbered on through the darkness, and at last found himself on the
  “carry” that ran close by the door of Rube Royall’s humble abode.
  Cautiously approaching the door, Jake pushed it open and looked in. He
  could see nothing, for the fire on the hearth had gone out, and the
  interior of the cabin was pitch dark. But he heard the heavy breathing
  of the sleepers, and, believing that his father was among them, he
  entered on tiptoe, stretched himself out on one of the beds beside his
  slumbering brother, and drew a long breath of relief. The night had
  been full of excitement, and the day was destined to bring more.

  About eight o’clock the next morning, after breakfast had been eaten
  and Rube had gone to sleep, the old woman and her boys gathered in the
  wood yard in front of the house, and talked and wondered at the
  prolonged absence of the head of the family. Jake appeared to be very
  much concerned about him.

  “Say, mam, when did you see him last?” he anxiously inquired.

  “Not sence you left hum last night,” was the reply. “I didn’t think
  nothin’ of your bein’ gone, ’cause I thought mebbe you had went after
  more grab; but I don’t see what took the ole man away so permiscus. I
  couldn’t make head or tail of the way he went snoopin’ around
  yisterday, first in the house, then in the woods, an’ the next thing
  you knowed you didn’t know where he was. ’Taint like him to be gone
  all night in this way. Why, Jakey, what makes your face so white?”

  “Dunno; less’n it’s ’cause I’m afeared the constables have got a hold
  of him,” answered the boy.

  “Oh, shucks!” exclaimed the old woman. “You needn’t——”

  She was going to say something else but didn’t have time. Just then
  hasty steps sounded on the hard path, and the three looked up to see
  the missing man approaching at a rapid run. He was angry about
  something, Jake could see that with half an eye, and frightened as
  well.

  “Git outen here!” said Matt, as soon as he could make himself heard.
  “Scatter! They’re comin’!”

  “Who’s comin’?” asked the old woman, who was the only one who could
  speak.

  “Swan, an’ all the rest of them fellers that went out to ’rest them
  robbers.”

  “Did they ketch ’em?”

  “Now jest listen at you! Do you reckon I stopped to talk to ’em,
  dog-gone ye? I dug out soon as I heard ’em comin’ through the woods.”

  “Where was they?”

  “Up there by the cove where our camp was burned, an’ headin’ straight
  for it.”

  “The cove?” gasped Jake.

  “Yes, the cove, you ongrateful scamp, an’ goin’ as straight t’wards it
  as they could go. They’re bound to nose out something there,” said
  Matt, remembering that he must have made a good many wide and plain
  trails while he was roaming around looking for Jake’s treasure, “an’
  if they find them two grip-sacks that you left there last night I
  wouldn’t be in them ragged clothes of your’n, Jakey, for no money in
  this broad world. You are a purty chap to go an’ find six thousand
  dollars an’ hide it from your pap, I do think. Now scatter out an’
  make for that there cove as quick as it is safe. Then we’ll be on
  their trail, ’stead of havin’ them on our’n. Jakey, stay where I can
  put my hands on you when I want you.”

  These words recalled the boy’s senses and brought his power of action
  back to him. He did not know which he stood the most in fear of—his
  father’s wrath, the probable loss of his money, or the sheriff and his
  posse; but he _did_ know that he was not safe where he was, so he
  caught up his rifle, which rested against a log close at hand, and
  took to his heels. Sam was frightened, too, but not to the same degree
  that Matt and Jake were, because he was not as guilty. He kept his
  wits about him, and proved by his subsequent movements that he could
  act as promptly and intelligently in a crisis as his brother could.
  When Jake disappeared, and Matt and his wife ran into the cabin to
  collect the few articles of value they possessed, previous to seeking
  safety in flight, Sam stood and communed thus with himself:

  “Beats the world, an’ I don’t begin to see through it; but how did
  that Jake of our’n get them six thousand dollars that was stole outen
  the Irvin’ton bank? He’s got ’em, ’cause pap said so; an’ they’re hid
  somewheres near the place where our old camp used to be. Wonder if
  Jakey is goin’ there now? I reckon I’d best keep an eye on him an’
  find out. Why didn’t he go halvers with the rest of us, like he’d
  oughter done? If I can get my hands on that money he won’t never see
  it agin, I tell you.”

  Jake Coyle’s brain was in such a whirl that he never once thought to
  look behind him as he hurried through the woods toward the head of the
  outlet; and even if he had he might not have seen Sam, who was a short
  distance in his rear and keeping him constantly in sight; for Sam took
  pains to cover himself with every tree and bush that came in his way.
  Once he came near being caught; for Jake, recalling his angry sire’s
  parting words, and apprehensive of being followed, suddenly threw
  himself behind a log and watched the trail over which he had just
  passed. But, fortunately for Sam, he saw the movement, rapid as it
  was, and stopped in time to escape detection. A less skillful woodsman
  would have lost Jake then and there, or else he would have run upon
  him before he knew it.

  After spending a quarter of an hour in patient waiting Jake must have
  become satisfied that his fears of pursuit were groundless, for he
  jumped up and again took to his heels. He kept on past the outlet,
  skirted the shore of the lake until he came within a short distance of
  the place where Tom Bigden and the squatter held their consultations,
  and there he took to the woods and struck a straight course for the
  cove, Sam following close behind.

  It was ten miles to the cove by land, and all the way through timber
  that had never echoed to the woodman’s ax. It was a distance that few
  city-bred boys could have covered at a trot, but it was nothing to the
  squatter’s sons, who would have done it any day for a dollar. Twice
  while on the way did Jake try his “dropping” dodge, but Sam was too
  sharp to be caught. The last time he tried it was when he was within a
  stone’s throw of the cove; and then he dived into a thicket, and
  waited and watched for half an hour before he made a move. Sam,
  patient and tireless as an Indian, did not move, either, until he saw
  Jake come out of the thicket and make his way toward the log in which
  the stolen guns were concealed. He saw him take out the cases, one
  after the other, and hide them in another log nearer the cove; and
  while he was wondering what his brother’s object could be in doing
  that the sound of voices in conversation came from the direction of
  the creek, whereupon Jake fled with the greatest precipitation, hardly
  daring to stop long enough to cover the end of the log with a bush
  which he cut with a knife. He threw himself behind the first fallen
  tree he came to, and looked cautiously over it to see what was going
  to happen.

  Jake thought, and so did Sam, that the voices belonged to the members
  of the sheriff’s posse, who were still loitering about in the vicinity
  of the cove to see what else they could find there; consequently their
  surprise was great when they saw Ralph Farnsworth step out of the
  evergreens with his gun on his shoulder. He stopped and looked around
  when he stumbled over the bush that concealed the end of the log,
  stooped over for a minute, and when he straightened up again he held
  in his hands the Victoria case in which reposed the Lefever
  hammerless. Then it was that Ralph sent up those excited calls to
  attract the attention of his companions, who presently joined him.

  If Jake and Sam had been working in harmony, they never would have
  remained inactive in their places of concealment and let Tom and his
  cousins carry off those guns. Jake, especially, was hopping mad. He
  got upon his knees, exposing so much of his ragged clothing above the
  log that he certainly would have been seen if Tom and the rest had
  glanced in his direction, and shook his fists over his head.

  “They’re thieves theirselves if they take them guns away,” muttered
  Jake, between his clenched teeth. “I was goin’ to give ’em to Rube,
  an’ tell him to buy me some shoes an’ clothes outen my shar’ of the
  reward; but now I can’t have ’em. I wisht they would go off; for if
  they tech them grip-sacks—”

  Jake finished the sentence by pushing up his sleeves and looking
  around for a club. The money was hidden but a short distance from that
  very log, and if Tom and his cousins had found it Jake would have
  rushed out and fought them single-handed before he would have given up
  his claim to it. But things did not come to that pass. Ralph had come
  upon the guns by the merest accident, and he and his friends did not
  think to search for any other stolen property. They took the guns away
  with them, and the minute they were out of sight Jake began to bestir
  himself. He came out on his hands and knees, crawled past the empty
  log, and disappeared among the bushes on the other side of it. While
  Sam was trying to decide whether or not it would be quite safe to
  follow him, Jake glided into view again, holding a valise under each
  arm.

  “There they are! Sure’s you’re born, there they are!” cried Sam, in
  great excitement; and if he had uttered the words a little louder Jake
  would have heard him. “Now, all I’ve got to do is to keep my eyes on
  them things an’ never lose track of ’em agin.”

  And Sam didn’t lose track of them, either, although Jake spent nearly
  an hour in hunting up a safe hiding-place for them. He ran swiftly
  from point to point, closely scrutinizing every log and thicket he
  came to and stopping now and then to listen, and Sam followed him
  wherever he went and saw all he did. At last Jake found a place to
  suit him. A gigantic poplar had been overturned by the wind, and in
  falling had pulled up a good portion of the earth in which its
  far-reaching roots were embedded, thus forming a cavity so deep and
  wide that Rube Royall’s cabin could have been buried in it, chimney
  and all. Into this cavity Jake recklessly plunged, and when he came
  out again fifteen minutes later his arms were empty. He had left the
  valises behind.

  “An’ he won’t never see ’em agin, nuther,” said Sam, gleefully.
  “They’re mine now, an’ so is the money that’s into ’em.”

  During the long hours he had spent in dogging his brother’s steps, Sam
  Coyle had not been so highly excited as he was at this moment. When
  Jake disappeared, apparently holding a direct course for Rube’s cabin,
  Sam did not move. Impatient as he was to see the color of that money,
  he was too wary to imperil his chances by doing any thing hasty.

  “I can stay right yer till I get so hungry I can’t stay no longer,”
  was his mental reflection; “but Jake’s got to show up purty soon,
  ’cause if he don’t, him an’ pap’ll have a furse. He told Jake, pap
  did, that he wanted him to stay where he could get his hands onto him;
  an’ when pap talks that-a-way, he means business. So I reckon Jake
  will go a lumberin’ towards hum till he meets pap, an’ then he’ll
  pertend that he’s been a-lookin for him.”

  When this thought passed through Sam’s mind it occurred to him that he
  had better not remain too long inactive, for this might be the last
  opportunity he would ever have to remove the money from Jake’s
  hiding-place to another of his own selection; so, after half an hour’s
  waiting, Sam set himself in motion. He did not get upon his feet, nor
  did he go directly toward the fallen poplar. He crawled along on his
  stomach and made a wide detour, so as to approach the cavity on the
  side opposite to that on which Jake had entered and left it. Of course
  this took him a long time, but he made up for it by the readiness with
  which he found the money when he arrived at the end of his toilsome
  journey. A little prodding among the leaves at the foot of the poplar
  brought the valises to light, and in ten minutes more they were hidden
  in another place where Jake, when he discovered his loss, would never
  think of looking for them. They were not shoved into a hollow log nor
  covered up in the leaves. They were placed high among the thick
  branches of an evergreen and tied fast there, so that the wind would
  not shake them out.

  “There,” said Sam, after he had made a circuit of the tree and viewed
  it from all sides. “Nobody can’t find ’em now. They are mine, sure. I
  reckon I’d best go to the cove an’ set down, ’cause pap’ll be along
  directly.”

  Sam had barely time to reach the cove and compose himself when Matt
  put in an appearance. His first words explained why he had been so
  long in getting there, and quieted the fear that suddenly sprang up in
  Sam’s mind, that his father had been following him as he himself had
  followed Jake.

  “Haven’t I said all along that Rube wasn’t by no means the friend to
  us that he pertends to be?” said the squatter, fiercely. “I didn’t run
  as fur into the bresh as you boys an’ the ole woman did, but got
  behind a log where I could see every thing that was done at the
  shanty. I seen the sheriff’s men when they come outen the woods an’
  surrounded the house, an’ purty quick along come Swan, watchin’ over
  the two robbers an’ carryin’ a pistol in one hand an’ Jake’s canvas
  canoe in the other. They waked Rube up, an’ he stood in the door an’
  talked to ’em as friendly as you please. He showed ’em where we hid
  the two skiffs we stole from Swan’s party on the day they burned our
  camp at this here cove; an’ then one of the robbers an’ sheriff an’
  five or six guides an’ constables got into ’em an’ pulled up to that
  snag opposite Haskinses’ landin’, in the hope of findin’ them six
  thousand dollars. But they had their trouble for their pains. Jakey
  brought ’em up with your mam’s clothes-line last night, an’ hid ’em
  somewheres around here. Seen any thing of Jake since you been here?”

  “Nary thing,” replied Sam. “I was a wonderin’ why he didn’t come. You
  told him to stay where you could get your hands onto him.”

  “So I did, an’ this is the way he minds his pap, the ongrateful scamp.
  I wanted him to meet me here an’ show me where that money is. He
  needn’t think he’s goin’ to keep it all, even if he did capsize them
  robbers. I’m the one who oughter have the care of it, bein’ as I’m the
  head man of the house. Ain’t that so, Sammy?”

  “Course it is. If I’d found it, I would have gone halvers with you.
  How do you know Jake brung it up here an’ hid it?”

  “’Cause I follered him. That’s what kept me out all night. I was
  lookin’ for it when I heard Swan an’ the rest of the guides comin’. I
  wisht Jakey would hurry up an’ come.”

  “Say, pap,” exclaimed Sam. “Let’s me an’ you hunt for the money all by
  ourselves. If we find it, we’ll hold fast to it an’ never give Jake a
  cent to pay him for bein’ so stingy.”

  “I’d like mighty well if we could do it,” answered Matt. “But I looked
  high an’ low for it all last night, an’ not a thing that was shaped
  like a grip-sack could I find. I’m jest done out with tiredness. You
  look for it, Sammy, an’ I’ll lay down here an’ take a little sleep.”

  Without waiting to hear whether or not this proposition was agreeable
  to Sam, the squatter stretched his heavy frame upon the leaves, pulled
  his remnant of a hat over his face and prepared for rest. Sam looked
  curiously at him for a moment, then arose to his feet and disappeared.
  He went straight to the log behind which Jake had concealed himself
  when alarmed by Ralph Farnsworth’s approach, scraped a few leaves
  together for a bed, and laid himself down upon it. But before he went
  to sleep he made up his mind that he would not say a word to his
  father about the loss of the guns; it would hardly be safe. Sam knew
  that his father expected to make some money out of those guns, and
  when he found that he could not do it, he would be apt to lose his
  temper and try to take satisfaction out of somebody.

  “That would be me,” soliloquized Sam, “’cause I am the nighest to his
  hand. I guess I’d best pertend that I don’t know nothin’ about them
  guns. Let pap find out for himself that they are gone, an’ then he’ll
  think that Swan found ’em when he found the canoe.”

  Having come to this decision Sam settled himself for a comfortable
  nap, from which he was aroused an hour before dark by his father’s
  stentorian voice. He got upon his feet and brushed the leaves from his
  clothing before he answered.

  “Well, what’s the use of yellin’ that-a-way an’ tellin’ Swan an’ all
  the rest of the guides where you be?” shouted Sam. “Here I am.”

  “Have you found the money?” asked Matt, in lower tones.

  “Course not. If I had, I should ’a’ waked you up. ’Tain’t in these
  here woods, pap, ’cause if there’s an inch of ’em that I ain’t peeped
  into sence you’ve been asleep I don’t know where it is.”

  “I tell you it is hid in these woods too,” said the squatter, angrily.
  “Didn’t I foller Jake up here an’ hang around while he was hidin’ the
  grip-sacks an’ the canoe?”

  “Well, then was the time that you oughter jumped out an’ took it away
  from him,” said Sam. “I’ll bet you the guides found it same’s they did
  the canoe.”

  “Now, jest listen at you! Wasn’t I hid in plain sight of them when
  they was ferried acrost the outlet at the hatchery, an’ didn’t I take
  pains to see that they didn’t have no grip-sacks with ’em? If I had
  took it away from him by force he would have got mad an’ went an’ told
  on me; don’t you see? I knowed that the only chance I had was to steal
  the money unbeknownst to Jakey, an’ make him think the guides got it.
  Looked in every place without findin’ it, did you? Well, there’s one
  thing about it. If Jakey don’t come up here to-morrer an’ give me them
  six thousand dollars, I’ll tell on him, an’ he shan’t live in my
  family no longer. It’s most dark, Sammy, an’ time for me an’ you to be
  a-lumberin’.”

  “Where to?” inquired Sam.

  “Why, to Rube’s, in course. We ain’t got no place else to go, have
  we?”

  “But what’s the sense in goin’ there when you know Rube ain’t friendly
  to you?”

  “Me an’ your mam talked it all over, an’ we know jest what we’re goin’
  to do,” replied the squatter. “We’ve got to take to the woods now, an’
  live like we done before Rube opened his shanty to us. We’re in danger
  long’s we stay there, an’ this night will be the last one we shall
  ever spend under his roof. But we’ve got to have some furnitur’ to put
  into our shanty after we get it built, an’ we’ll try to get it of
  Rube. I shall make enough outen them guns to buy the furnitur’, an’
  then if Jake will come to his senses an’ give me the handlin’ of that
  money we’ll live like fightin’ fowls; won’t we, Sammy?”

  Aloud Sam said he thought they would; but to himself he said it would
  be a long time before his father would have the handling of that
  money. He intended to keep every dollar of it, although, for the life
  of him, he could not make up his mind what he would do with it.

  It was dark long before Sam and his father reached the cabin, and the
  only member of the family they found there was the old woman, Rube
  being at the hatchery on watch, and Jake having failed to “show up.”
  That made Matt furious.

  “Looks as if he meant to keep outen our way, find that money when he
  gets a good ready, an’ take himself off,” exclaimed the squatter. “It
  won’t work, that plan won’t. I ain’t fooled the sheriff an’ all his
  constables for years an’ years to let myself be beat by one of my own
  boys at last, I bet you. We’ll stay here to-night, ’cause we ain’t
  nowhere else to go, an’ to-morrer we’ll buy some bed-furnitur’ an’
  cookin’-dishes of Rube, an’ go to hidin’ in the woods agin. If Jakey
  wants to live with us, he’d best bring them six thousand dollars with
  him when he comes hum.”

  The squatter went to sleep fully expecting to find the missing boy
  occupying his shake-down when he awoke in the morning; but he was
  disappointed. His absence alarmed Matt, who began to fear that Jake
  had fallen into the hands of the constables; but a few cautious
  questions propounded to Rube, when the latter came to breakfast, set
  his fears on that score at rest.

  “No; the sheriff didn’t ketch Jakey,” said the watchman, “but he was
  clost after him, ’cause he knowed that Jakey was the chap who took the
  robbers over the lake and spilled the grip-sacks into the water. How
  did the sheriff find that out? The robbers told him, an’ described
  Jake an’ his canoe so well that all the guides knew in a minute who
  they would have to arrest. Where did Jake hide the money after he
  fished it outen the lake?”

  “How do you ’spose I know!” growled Matt.

  “Who should know if you don’t?” replied Rube. “I seen you follerin’
  him in a skiff.”

  “Well,” said Matt, who saw it would be useless for him to deny it, “I
  don’t know where he put the money, an’ I’m mighty sorry for it. Seen
  any thing of Jake lately?”

  “No, I ain’t, an’ what’s more I don’t expect to see him again very
  soon, either. He’ll keep clear of me, for he knows that if I could
  find him it would be my bounden dooty to take him up an’ lay claim to
  part of the six hundred dollars reward. All you’ve got to do is to
  make yourselves comfortable here in my house—”

  “Well, we ain’t goin’ to make ourselves comfortable in your house no
  longer,” interrupted Matt. “We’re thinkin’ of takin’ to the woods.”

  “What for?”

  “’Cause we don’t think it safe here so nigh the place the constables
  come every time they go into the woods. We’d feel better if we was a
  piece furder off from ’em.”

  Rube carelessly inquired where his guest thought of going; but Matt
  did not give him any satisfaction on that point. He thought he might
  as well send word to the sheriff and be done with it. Then he broached
  the subject of furniture, and found that, although Rube was quite
  willing to sell what he did not need for his own use, he had one hard
  condition to impose. Cash up and no trust had been his motto through
  life, and he was too old to depart from it now. He wanted to see the
  color of Matt’s money before he let a single thing go.

  “That’s the way I’m workin’ it to keep him here till I can find them
  guns,” thought the watchman, as he threw himself upon his shakedown.
  “Matt ain’t got ten cents to his name; an’ where’s he goin’ to get it?
  Winter’s comin’ on, an’ it would be the death of him an’ all his
  family to take to the woods without something to wrap themselves up in
  of nights, an’ so I reckon they’ll stay here with me for a while
  longer. But I don’t know what to think about Jakey.”

  Rube Royall was not the only one who did not know what to think of
  him.



                              CHAPTER XII.
                         ABOUT VARIOUS THINGS.


  When the watchman took possession of his shake-down Matt Coyle and his
  family, following their usual custom, adjourned to the open air and
  sat on the logs in the wood-yard, smoking their pipes, talking over
  their troubles, and consulting as to the means they ought to employ to
  “get even” with the guides and other well-to-do people who were so
  relentlessly persecuting them. On this particular morning they talked
  about Jake and his unaccountable absence; that is, Matt and his wife
  did the talking, and Sam sat and listened, all the while looking as
  innocent as though he had never heard of the Irvington bank robbery,
  or felt the weight of the two valises that contained the six thousand
  stolen dollars. His brother Jake would have betrayed himself a dozen
  times in as many minutes; but Sam did nothing to arouse suspicion
  against him. Matt at last gave it as his opinion that Jake intended to
  run away with the money, and repeated what he had said the night
  before—that a man who had spent years of his life in dodging
  constables was not to be beaten by one of his own boys. Then he filled
  a fresh pipe and strolled off toward the hatchery. He thought that was
  the safest place for him, for if the sheriff came back after Jake Matt
  would see him when he signaled for a boat to take him across the
  outlet, and have plenty of time to run to the cabin and warn his
  family.

  Of course the squatter did not show himself openly. He took up a
  position from which he could see every thing that went on about the
  hatchery, and smoked several pipes while he waited for something to
  “turn up.” If the sheriff was looking for Jake, he certainly did not
  come near the outlet; but somebody else did. It was Tom Bigden. Matt,
  of course, was not aware that the boy had come there seeking an
  interview with him; but when he saw him loitering about the hatchery
  with no apparent object an idea suddenly popped into the squatter’s
  head.

  “I jest know that Bigden boy didn’t tell me the truth when he said
  that him an’ his cousins was strapped for money, an’ that they would
  have to go to Mount Airy before they could buy them guns of me,”
  soliloquized Matt. “I’ll watch my chance to ketch him while he is on
  his way to camp, an’ tell him that I can’t wait no ten days for my
  money. I must have it to onct, ’cause I want to buy that furnitur’ of
  Rube.”

  While he was talking to himself in this way Matt got up and started
  for the lake; and, as we have seen, he got there in time to intercept
  Tom Bigden. So far as Matt was concerned, the interview was a most
  unsatisfactory one. Tom was so very haughty and independent that the
  squatter knew, before he had exchanged half a dozen words with him,
  that there was “something wrong somewheres.”

  When Tom paddled away, after promising to meet Matt the next morning
  at seven o’clock, he left the man revolving some deep problems in his
  mind. Matt never once suspected that Tom had found the guns, but he
  did fear that he had found the valises that contained the bank’s
  money, and the thought was enough to drive him almost frantic. As soon
  as Tom was out of sight he caught up his rifle and posted off to the
  cabin to see if Jake had been there during his absence; but neither
  Sam nor the old woman could tell anything about him.

  “I’d give every thing I’ve got in the world if I could get my hand on
  that boy’s collar, for jest one minute,” cried Matt, as he stormed
  about the wood-yard shaking his fists in the air. “He kalkerlates to
  ruinate the whole of us by runnin’ off with them six thousand. I’ll
  tell you what we’ll do, ole woman. To-morrer mornin’ at seven o’clock
  I shall have money enough to buy the furnitur’ we need, an’ soon’s we
  get it we’ll go up to the cove an’ camp there agin. Jake hid that
  money somewheres around there, an’ if he don’t take it away to-day he
  won’t never get it, for we shall be there to stop him. Don’t you
  reckon that’s the best thing we can do?”

  Too highly excited to remain long in one place, Matt did not stop to
  hear his wife’s answer, but posted off to the cove after the guns. He
  might never see a cent of the six thousand dollars, he told himself,
  but the guns he was sure of.

  “That Bigden boy didn’t say, in so many words, that he had fifty
  dollars to pay for them, but he winked, an’ that’s as good an answer
  as I want. He wouldn’t dare fool me, knowin’ as he does that I can
  have him ’rested any time I feel like it. Here is where we left ’em,”
  said Matt, stooping down in front of the log in which he and his boys
  had concealed the property he wanted to find. “But I do think in my
  soul that somebody has been here. The chunks is all scattered around
  an’—yes, sir; the guns is gone.”

  Matt dropped upon his hands and knees and peered into the hollow,
  which he saw at a glance was empty. Then he seated himself upon the
  log and took his pipe from his pocket. He did not whoop and yell, as
  he usually did when things went wrong with him, for this new
  misfortune fairly stunned him. His knowledge of the English language
  was so limited that he could not do justice to his feelings; but by
  the time he had smoked his pipe out he had made up his mind what he
  would do.

  “In course that Bigden boy will have the fifty dollars in his pocket
  when he comes after the guns to-morrer,” said he. “So all I’ve got to
  do is to get him ashore an’ take it away from him. I reckon I’ve lost
  them six thousand, but I ain’t goin’ to be cheated on all sides, I bet
  you. Then if he blabs, I’ll tell about his bein’ in ca-hoots with me
  when I stole Joe Wayring’s canvas canoe. I reckon that’s the best
  thing I can do.”

  I have already told you how hard Matt tried to carry out this
  programme when he met Tom Bigden on the following morning and how
  signally he failed. Tom could not be induced to approach very close to
  the beach, and was so wide-awake and so quick with his paddle that
  Matt could not seize his canoe. The squatter’s proverbial luck seemed
  to have forsaken him at last. He was being worsted at every point.

  I pass over the next few days, during which little occurred that was
  worthy of note. Jake Coyle kept aloof from his kindred, who had not
  the faintest idea where he was or how he lived. Matt and the rest of
  his family again established their camp at the cove, and they did not
  go there a single day too soon; for when it became known among the
  guides that the stolen guns had been found and given into Mr. Hanson’s
  keeping a dozen of them plunged into the woods, intent on earning the
  hundred dollars that had been offered for the squatter’s apprehension,
  and ridding the country of a dangerous man at the same time. Tom
  Bigden and his cousins fished a little and lounged in their hammocks a
  good deal, and, having had time to become thoroughly disgusted with
  camp life, were talking seriously of going home.

  As bad luck would have it, the three boys went up to the Sportsman’s
  Home after their mail on the same day that Mr. Swan returned from his
  trip to Mount Airy. They heard him say that he had restored the canvas
  canoe to his owner, that Joe Wayring was all ready to pay another
  visit to Indian Lake, and that he and his two chums might be expected
  to arrive at any hour. Ralph and his brother did not pay much
  attention to this, for they didn’t like Joe well enough to be
  interested in his movements; but Tom paid a good deal of attention to
  it. He spent an hour or two the next morning in loafing about the
  hatchery, and another hour on the beach waiting for Matt Coyle. That
  was the time he was seen by a couple of guides and their employers,
  who were camping on the opposite side of the Lake, and who had a good
  deal to say about the incident when they went back to their hotel.
  They saw Matt plainly when he came out of the bushes and accosted Tom,
  and if they had been near enough they might have overheard the
  following conversation:

  “I seen you hangin’ around the hatchery, an’ thought that mebbe you
  had something to say to me; so I come up yer,” said Matt, who, for
  some reason, was in exceedingly good humor.

  “You have been a long time coming,” was Tom’s reply. “I began to get
  tired of waiting and was about to start for camp. What has come over
  you all of a sudden? You are not quite as ugly as you were the last
  time I saw you.”

  “An’ you ain’t quite so skittish, nuther,” retorted Matt. “I couldn’t
  get you to come ashore last time you was here.”

  “Of course not. You meant to rob me, and I knew it. What good fortune
  has befallen you now?”

  “You may well ask that,” replied the squatter, sitting down on the log
  and producing his never failing pipe. “I did think one spell that luck
  was agin me, but now I know it ain’t. The reason I kept you waitin’ so
  long for me was ’cause I run foul of Jake as I was comin’ here.”

  As soon as Tom had time to recover from the surprise that these words
  occasioned, he told himself that he wouldn’t be in Jake’s place for
  any money.

  “I ain’t sot eyes on that there boy for better’n a week, an’ you can’t
  begin to think how tickled I was to see him,” continued Matt. “He’s
  been livin’ tol’able hard since he’s been away from hum, an’ I reckon
  it’ll do him good to get a jolly tuck-out onct more.”

  The squatter might have added that he and his family had also lived
  tolerable hard during Jake’s absence. They had put themselves on half
  rations, trying to make their bacon and potatoes last as long as
  possible, for when their larder was empty they did not know where the
  next supply was coming from.

  “What did you do to Jake when you ran foul of him?” inquired Tom.

  “What did I do to him? Why should I want to do any thing to him,
  seein’ that he has come hum to show me where them six thousand is hid?
  I jest tied him hard an’ fast, so’t I could easy find him agin, an’
  left him in the bresh behind Rube’s cabin with the ole woman watchin’
  over him to see that he don’t get loose,” replied Matt, with a grin.
  “Did you want to say any thing to me?”

  “I thought it might interest you to know that your friend Joe Wayring
  is coming back to Indian Lake, and that he will probably bring Jake’s
  canoe with him,” answered Tom.

  “Is _that_ all?” exclaimed Matt, knocking the ashes from his pipe and
  glaring fiercely at the boy. “Have you made me tramp three or four
  miles through the woods jest to tell me that? I don’t care for Joe
  Wayring an’ his ole boat now. They can go where they please an’ do
  what they have a mind to, so long’s they keep clear of me. I wisht I
  hadn’t come. Jakey an’ me might have been most up to the cove where
  the money is hid by this time.”

  Seeing that Matt was disposed to get angry at him for the time he had
  wasted and the long tramp he had taken for nothing, Tom stepped into
  his canoe and shoved off, while the squatter disappeared in the woods,
  grumbling as he went. He took the shortest course for the outlet, and
  in the thickest part of the woods, a short distance in the rear of the
  watchman’s cabin, found his wife keeping guard over the helpless Jake,
  who was so tightly wrapped in ropes that he could scarcely move a
  finger. The woman had accompanied Matt to the hatchery with the
  intention of begging a few eatables of Rube; but, finding him fast
  asleep, she helped herself to every thing she could find in the house,
  without taking the trouble to awaken him. When Matt came suddenly upon
  Jake in the woods and made a prisoner of him before he had time to
  think twice, his mother was on hand to stand sentry over him.

  “That Bigden boy made me go miles outen my way an’ lose two or three
  hours besides, jest ’cause he wanted to tell me that Joe Wayring is
  comin’ back to Injun Lake directly,” said the squatter, in response to
  his wife’s inquiring look. “Jest as if I cared for him when there’s
  six thousand dollars waitin’ for me. Now, Jakey, what brung you to the
  hatchery? I ain’t had a chance to ask you before.”

  “I come to git some grub, for I’m nigh starved to death,” said Jake,
  and his pinched face and sunken eyes bore testimony to the truth of
  his words. “I allowed to take one of the skiffs that we stole from
  Swan and his crowd, an’ go up to the lake an’ rob another suller.”

  “Well, you wouldn’t have found the skiffs, even if I hadn’t collared
  you before you knowed I was within a mile of you,” answered Matt.
  “Rube told the guides where we hid ’em, an’ they took ’em off the same
  day they carried away your canvas canoe. But I’m glad you come after
  one of ’em, for it brung you plump into the arms of your pap, who has
  been waitin’ for more’n a week for you to came an’ show him where you
  hid them six thousand dollars. Be you ready to do it now, Jakey?”

  “I allers kalkerlated to do it,” replied Jake. “Sure hope to die, I
  did.”

  “I’m glad to hear it; but I’d been gladder if you had brung the money
  to me the minute you found it. Untie his feet, ole woman, an’ we’ll go
  back to camp.”

  “An’ my hands, too,” added Jake.

  “You don’t need your hands to walk with,” said Matt.

  “But I need ’em to keep the bresh from hittin’ me in the face while we
  are goin’ through the woods, don’t I?”

  “Oh, shucks! The lickin’ you’ll get from the bresh won’t be a patchin’
  to the one you’ll get from me if we don’t find them grip-sacks
  tol’able easy,” replied Matt in significant tones. “Now, you go on
  ahead, takin’ the shortest cut, an’ me an’ yer mam’ll foller.”

  Having helped the boy to his feet, Matt waved his hand toward the
  cove, as if he were urging a hound to take up a trail, and Jake
  staggered off. I say staggered, because he was too weak to move with
  his usual springy step. When his strength failed through long fasting,
  his courage also left him, and Jake had at last determined that if he
  could secure one of the skiffs he would take the money to Indian Lake
  and give it up to the sheriff. He was afraid to surrender it to his
  father, because he knew that Matt would thrash him for not giving it
  up before. His father came upon him suddenly while he was making his
  way around the hatchery toward the place where the skiffs had been
  concealed, and Jake, too weak to run and too spiritless to resist, was
  easily made captive. He was very hungry, and repeatedly begged his
  father to untie his hands and give him a slice off the loaf of bread
  that he could see in the bundle the old woman carried on her arm; but
  Matt would not listen to him.

  “Show us the money first, Jakey,” was his invariable reply, “an’ then
  you shall have all you want. But not a bite do you get till I feel the
  heft of them grip-sacks. ’Tain’t likely that I’ll go outen my way to
  please a ongrateful scamp of a boy who finds six thousand dollars an’
  hides it from his pap.”

  The long ten-mile tramp through the woods exhausted the last particle
  of Jake Coyle’s strength, and when he led his father to the brink of
  the cavity at the foot of the poplar he wilted like a blade of grass
  that had been struck by the frost.

  “Is it in there?” cried Matt, excitedly.

  “Yes; clear down to the bottom, clost up under the roots of the tree,”
  said Jake, faintly. “Now, mam, untie my hands an’ give me a blink of
  that bread, can’t ye?”

  The woman, who was not quite so heartless as her husband, thought she
  might safely comply with the request. Jake could not have got up a
  trot to save his life; but he had strength enough to eat, and the way
  Rube’s bread and cold fried bacon disappeared before his attacks was
  astonishing. He ate until his mother called a halt and reminded him
  that if he kept on there wouldn’t be anything left over for supper.

  Meanwhile Matt was working industriously, almost frantically,
  expecting every moment that the stick with which he was making the
  leaves fly in all directions would strike one of the valises. In a
  very short space of time the ground about the roots of the tree was as
  bare as the back of his hand, but nothing was to be seen of the money.
  Having taken the sharp edge off his appetite, Jake began showing some
  interest in the proceedings, and the longer his father worked, the
  wider his eyes opened.

  “You don’t seem to throw out nothing, pap,” said he, at last.

  “I know I don’t,” answered Matt. “But you will seem to feel something
  if I don’t find it directly, for I’ll lick ye good fashion.”

  “As sure’s you live an’ breathe, pap, I hid it there, clost under the
  roots of that tree,” said Jake, who was almost overwhelmed with
  astonishment. “I can’t for the life of me think what’s went with it.”

  “Mebbe you can after you’ve had a hickory laid over your back a few
  times,” replied Matt. “I’ve heard tell that a good lickin’ goes a long
  ways in stirrin’ up a boy’s ideas.”

  Just then a new actor appeared upon the scene. It was Sam Coyle, who
  had been left in camp to watch over things during the absence of his
  father and mother. While dozing over the fire he heard and recognized
  his father’s voice, and came out to see what he was doing. He took
  care to pass the tree in which the valises were hidden, and to look
  among the branches to make sure that they were still there.

  “Hallo, Jakey,” said he, in a surprised tone. “Where did you drop down
  from? What be you lookin’ for, pap?”

  “Jakey allowed that he come hum to show me where them six thousand was
  hid; but it’s my idee that he come a purpose to get his jacket dusted,
  ’cause the money ain’t here,” replied Matt. “Jakey oughter know better
  than to try to fool his pap that a-way.”

  “I ain’t tryin’ to fool you,” protested Jake. “I put the grip-sacks
  into that hole, an’ I don’t see where they be now.”

  “If he is tryin’ to make a fule of his pap, he deserves a lickin’,”
  continued Matt, paying no sort of attention to Jake. “An’ if he hid
  the money here, an’ somebody come along an’ found it, he had oughter
  have a lickin’ for that, too, to pay him for not givin’ it up to me
  the minute he got it.”

  As the squatter said this he threw down the stick with which he had
  been turning over the leaves, climbed out of the hole and began
  looking for a switch. Jake saw that things were getting serious, and
  so did Sam. It is doubtful if the latter would have revealed the
  hiding-place of the money to save his brother from punishment, but
  still he did not want to see him whipped.

  “Look a here, pap,” said Jake, desperately. “I told you honest when I
  said I put the grip-sacks at the root of that there tree. You can
  pound me if you want to, but it’ll be wuss for you if you do.”

  There was something in the tone of his voice that made Matt pause and
  look at him. “What do you reckon you’re goin’ to do?” said he.

  “In the first place, I shan’t steal no grub to feed a pap who pounds
  me for jest nothin’,” replied the boy.

  “I ain’t a-goin’ to pound you for nothin’. I’m goin’ to pay you for
  not givin’ me the money.”

  “An’ in the next place I shan’t stay with you no longer,” continued
  Jake. “I’ll go down to one of them hotels an’ tell every thing I
  know.”

  “Whoop!” yelled Matt, jumping up and knocking his heels together.
  “Then you’ll be took up for a thief.”

  “I don’t care. I’ll be took up some time, most likely, an’ it might as
  well be this week as next. I ain’t to blame ’cause the money ain’t
  where I left it, an’ I won’t be larruped for it nuther.”

  Matt was in a quandary, and he could not see any way to get out of it
  without lowering his dignity. According to his way of thinking Jake
  deserved punishment for the course he had pursued, but Matt dared not
  administer it for fear that the boy would take revenge on him in the
  manner he had threatened. At this juncture Sam came to his assistance.

  “Look a yer, pap,” said he. “You was hid in the bresh where you could
  see the sheriff an’ his crowd when they crossed the outlet on the
  mornin’ they stole Jake’s canoe, wasn’t you? Well, couldn’t you have
  seen the gun-cases if they had ’em in their hands?”

  Matt said he thought he could.

  “You didn’t see ’em, did you? Then don’t that go to prove that the
  guides didn’t find the guns when they found the canoe? Somebody else
  took ’em, an’ the money, too.”

  “Who do you reckon it was?”

  “I’ll bet it was that Bigden crowd.”

  “I’ll bet it was too,” exclaimed Jake, catching at the suggestion as
  drowning men catch at straws. Of course he knew that Tom and his
  cousins carried off the guns, for he had seen them do it; but he dared
  not say so, for fear that his father would punish him for permitting
  it. Where the money went was a question that was altogether too deep
  for him. Matt was so impressed by Sam’s answer that he found it
  necessary to sit down and fill and light his pipe.

  “I’ll bet it was, too,” said he, when he had taken a few long whiffs.
  “I thought that Bigden boy was mighty sot up an’ independent the
  second time I seen him, an’ he could afford to be, knowin’, as he did,
  that I couldn’t perduce the guns. Now what’s to be done about it?”

  “Why can’t we take a run down to their camp to-morrer an’ see what
  they’ve got in it?” said Jake. “Of course we’ll have to swim to get on
  their side of the creek—”

  “An’ jest for the reason that we ain’t got no boat,” snarled Matt.
  “That’s what comes of my givin’ that canoe to you ’stead of keepin’ it
  for my own. You hid it where they could find it, but I would have took
  better care of it. Now, le’s go to camp an’ eat some of the grub that
  the ole woman helped herself to in Rube’s cabin. Jake, I’ll let you
  off till to-morrer, an’ I won’t tech you at all if we find the money
  an’ guns in Bigden’s camp; but if we don’t find ’em I’ll have to do a
  pap’s dooty by you.”

  Jake, glad to have even a short respite, made no reply, but he did
  some rapid thinking.

  Now it so happened that Tom and his cousins were not at home when Matt
  Coyle and his young allies visited their camp on the following day.
  They had gone to Indian Lake after their mail. Contrary to their usual
  custom they all went, each one of the party declaring, with some
  emphasis, that he was sick and tired of acting as camp-keeper, while
  his companions were off somewhere enjoying themselves, and wouldn’t do
  it any more because it was not necessary. They could take their most
  valuable things with them in their canoes and the rest could be
  concealed. The result of this arrangement was that when the squatter
  and his boys found the camp they found nothing else.

  This was the day that Joe Wayring and his chums arrived at Indian
  Lake, and Tom and his friends found them standing on the beach,
  talking with Mr. Swan, as I have recorded. After exchanging a few
  common-place remarks with the new-comers, Tom kept on toward the
  hotel.

  “I see Joe has brought his canvas canoe back with him,” observed Tom.
  “If Matt Coyle knew it how long do you think it would be before he
  would manage to steal it again?”

  “I hope you won’t put him up to it,” said Loren. “You once got
  yourself into a bad scrape by doing that, and it was more by good luck
  than good management that you wriggled out of it.”

  “I haven’t forgotten it,” replied Tom, with a light laugh. “I assure
  you that I shall have no more suggestions to make to Matt Coyle; but I
  do wish he could make things so hot for Wayring and his party that
  they couldn’t stay here. They haven’t forgotten how to be mean, have
  they? They wouldn’t tell us where they were going to find
  trout-fishing, so we will watch and find out for ourselves.”

  When Tom’s letters, which came addressed to the care of the
  Sportsman’s Home, were handed out he found that one of them contained
  a request for his immediate return to Mount Airy. Some of his New
  London friends were at his father’s house, and if Tom and his cousins
  wished to see them they had better come home without delay.

  “Well, I’d as soon go to-morrow as next day, for I am tired of life in
  the woods,” said Tom. “If we had only brought our blankets and
  provisions along, we could have made a start from here; but as we
  didn’t do it some one will have to go to camp for them. It won’t be
  necessary for all to go, so I propose that we draw lots to see who
  goes and who stays.”

  Without waiting to hear from the others on the subject, Tom arranged
  three sticks of different lengths in his closed hands, saying, as he
  held them out to Loren,

  “The one who gets the shortest stick is elected.”

  Loren and Ralph made selection, and Tom was left with the shortest
  stick in his hand. Of course he was mad about it. He always was when
  he was beaten.



                             CHAPTER XIII.
                          JOE WAYRING’S PLUCK.


  Sometimes there is more in drawing lots than those who take part in it
  imagine, and so it proved in this instance. If Ralph or Loren had
  drawn the shortest stick, some things that I have yet to tell of never
  would have happened.

  “I’m elected,” said Tom, spitefully, “but I’ll stand by the agreement.
  I have plenty of time to go down to camp and return before dark, so I
  will wait and see what Wayring is going to do.”

  “Do you want to go with him?” inquired Ralph.

  “How can I when we are going home in the morning?”

  “Then what difference does it make to you where Wayring goes?”

  “I don’t know that it makes any difference. I simply wish to satisfy
  my curiosity.”

  It did not take many minutes to do that. After a little more
  conversation with Mr. Swan Joe came toward the storehouse, in front of
  whose open door Tom and his cousins were standing. There they met
  Morris, the guide, who cautioned them against quarreling with their
  compass in case they found themselves bewildered in the unbroken
  wilderness through which they must pass in order to reach No-Man’s
  Pond. When Joe and his chums came out of the store with their loaded
  camp-baskets on their back, Morris also came out and accosted Tom.

  “This is the first chance I have had to thank you young gentlemen for
  your generosity,” said he. “Mr. Hanson has given me half the reward
  you earned by restoring those guns and which you did not claim.”

  “You are very welcome, I am sure,” answered Tom. “Were you with the
  party that found Wayring’s canoe? If you had looked a little further
  you might have found the guns, too. How about that money? Heard any
  thing of it lately?”

  “Not so very,” replied the guide. “All we know is, that Jake Coyle
  cheated the robbers out of it very neatly, hid it somewhere, and then
  took himself off. It is over on your side of the lake; we are sure of
  that. You seem to be lucky, so why don’t you hunt it up and claim the
  six hundred?”

  “If you men who know every foot of the woods can’t find it, we
  wouldn’t stand much of a show,” said Ralph. “Do you know where Wayring
  and his cronies have started for? I see that they have left their
  skiff behind and that Mr. Swan is taking care of it.”

  “They’re bound to catch some legal trout before they go home, and are
  going to No-Man’s Pond after them. That’s twelve miles from here, and
  through the thickest woods any body ever heard of. They’ll catch fish,
  but, as I told them, they will have a time getting there.”

  Tom’s curiosity was satisfied now, and, as there was nothing more to
  detain him at the lake, he was ready to undertake the disagreeable
  duty to which he had been “elected.” The trip to and from the camp was
  disagreeable only because Tom did not want to make it just then. He
  would have preferred to stay and seek an introduction to some of the
  pretty girls who had been registered at the hotel since his last
  visit, and who were now in full possession of the lawn tennis court.

  When Tom reached the grove in which he and his cousins had spent their
  two weeks outing, an unpleasant surprise awaited him. He saw nothing
  suspicious about the camp; indeed he did not look for it; but in less
  than half a minute after he beached his canoe and disembarked he was
  surrounded by Matt Coyle and his boys, who glared savagely at him and
  brandished switches over his head.

  “Well, sir, we’ve ketched one of ye,” said Matt, laying hold of Tom’s
  collar. “Now will you own up or won’t you?”

  With a quick jerk Tom freed himself from the squatter’s grasp and
  turned and faced him. He was so bold and defiant that Matt quailed
  before him.

  “What have you to say to me?” demanded Tom, with flashing eyes. “Keep
  your distance if you expect me to talk to you. I was in hopes I had
  seen the last of you.”

  “Well, you see you ain’t, don’t you?” answered the squatter, calling
  all his courage to his aid. “You stole them two guns of me an’ them
  six thousand dollars besides. We’ve come after ’em, an’ we’re goin’ to
  have ’em, too.”

  “I haven’t seen your guns or your money, either,” replied Tom. “Who
  told you I had?”

  “Nobody,” said Matt, who never could take time to think when he was
  excited or angry. “We jest suspicion you.”

  “Then go and ‘suspicion’ somebody else. You are wide of the mark. I
  know you have lost the guns, for Swan found them when he found the
  canoe. Morris told me a little while ago that Hanson had paid him part
  of the reward. But I didn’t know about the money. Here’s Jake; Why
  don’t you make him tell where it is? Every body knows that he hid it—”

  “Yes; but it ain’t there now,” shouted Matt. “It’s been took outen the
  place where he left it, an’ none of us don’t know nothin’ about it.”

  What evil genius put it into Tom’s head to say, “I know where it is?”

  “That’s what we suspicioned all along, an’ that’s what brung us here,”
  exclaimed the squatter, shaking his switch at the boy, while Sam’s
  face grew as white as a sheet. He recoiled a step or two and looked
  anxiously at Tom.

  “But I haven’t got it and never had,” continued the latter. “Do you
  know where No-Man’s Pond is? Well, if you will go there, you will find
  your old friend Wayring and his party; and they’ve got your money.”

  “Why—why, how did they come by it?” stammered Matt.

  “How do you suppose I know? They probably found it where Jake hid it.
  I don’t know of any other way they could get it.”

  “But they ain’t been here long enough to do much runnin’ around,” Matt
  reminded him.

  “They have been here three days, and that’s long enough for them to
  cover a good many miles in that fast-going skiff of theirs.”

  “But we’ve been right there at the cove all the time, an’ they
  couldn’t have come snoopin’ around without us hearin’ them,” said
  Matt, who hardly knew whether he stood on his head or his feet. “What
  took ’em so far up the creek, an’ how did they know where the money
  was hid?”

  “I don’t know any thing about that. I simply tell you that I saw those
  two valises in Joe Wayring’s camp-basket to-day, and that you will
  never handle a dollar of it.”

  “Why, they’re wusser’n thieves theirselves. Do you reckon they took it
  to No-Man’s Pond with ’em?”

  “They certainly did not leave it at the hotel,” replied Tom. “Perhaps
  they don’t mean to go to No-Man’s Pond at all. They may be striking
  for Irvington, for all I know, intending to claim the reward when they
  give up the money.”

  “They shan’t never get there,” yelled Matt, who believed every word of
  this ridiculous story. “I wish we was on t’other side of the lake.”

  “The only way you can get there is to go down to the outlet and ask
  some of your friends living there to set you across,” replied Tom; and
  as he spoke he stepped up to an evergreen, pressed the thick branches
  down with both hands, and took from its place of concealment a roll of
  blankets. From other trees he took more blankets, a lot of tin dishes,
  and provisions enough to last a small party of moderate eaters a week
  or more. Matt and his hungry family could, no doubt, have made way
  with them in a single day. They watched the boy’s movements with the
  keenest interest. They had ransacked every hole and corner of the
  grove before Tom came, overturning logs and throwing leaves aside, but
  their hour’s work had not been rewarded by so much as a can of beans.
  They were as surprised as children are the first time they see a
  magician take money out of a borrowed hat.

  “That bangs me,” said Matt.

  “I don’t suppose I should have found any of these things if you had
  thought to look up instead of down,” replied Tom.

  “I’d like mighty well to have the grub,” was the squatter’s answer.
  “We don’t see nothin’ good to eat from one year’s end to another’s.”

  To Matt’s great surprise and joy Tom said—

  “You may have the grub. I can get more at the hotel. There is an old
  blanket that you can have to wrap it up in. Now look here: Are you
  going to follow Wayring to No-Man’s Pond?”

  “You’re mighty right, I am,” said Matt, emphatically.

  “I don’t know whether or not you will find him there,” Tom went on.
  “But if you do don’t mention my name. Don’t let him even suspect that
  you have seen me this vacation. Don’t refer to me in any way; do you
  hear?”

  “Do you reckon I’ve got a pair of ears?”

  “I reckon you have; and I can see for myself that they are big enough
  for two men. If I were in your place, I would dig out of this country
  and never come back.”

  “I’ve been thinkin’ of doin’ it,” said Matt.

  “The whole region is in arms against you, and it is a mystery to me
  how you have kept out of the clutches of the law as long as you have.
  But if they don’t catch you before they will surely catch you when the
  first snow comes. Mark that. They will track you down as they would a
  mink.”

  “Don’t I know that?” exclaimed Matt, growing red in the face with
  anger. “When the snow comes we’ll have to stick clost to camp, for if
  we go out we shall leave a trail that can be easy follered. But
  what’ll we do when our grub is all gone?”

  “That’s your lookout and not mine,” said Tom, shrugging his shoulders.
  “Go off somewhere. Find a strange place where you are not known, and
  then you can go and come without fear of being tracked down.”

  So saying Tom tossed the blankets into his canoe, stepped in himself
  and shoved away from the beach, leaving three astonished, alarmed, and
  angry persons behind. If Sam Coyle had been alone there would have
  been strange scenes enacted in the grove, for Sam was pretty near
  frantic. Like his father, he believed the story that Tom Bigden had
  cooked up on the spur of the moment, and from that time forward he was
  one of Joe Wayring’s most implacable foes. As for Matt, he was utterly
  bewildered—stunned. Once again he told himself that there was
  something wrong somewhere. Cunning as he had showed himself to be in
  outwitting the guides and officers of the law, he never parted with
  Tom Bigden without feeling that the boy had got the better of him in
  some way. Jake Coyle was the frightened one of the party. His father
  had promised him a terrible beating, which, upon reflection, he had
  decided to postpone until he could learn whether or not the six
  thousand dollars were concealed in Tom Bigden’s camp. Would the
  whipping be forthcoming now that the money had not been found? Having
  had a good night’s sleep and something nourishing to eat, Jake was
  stronger and more courageous than he had been the day before, and he
  made up his mind that he wouldn’t be whipped at all. He had outrun his
  clumsy father more than once, and was sure he could do it again. Matt
  must have been thinking about this very thing, for he said, as he
  spread the blanket upon the ground and began tossing the provisions
  into it—

  “If I done a pap’s dooty by you, Jakey, I’d larrup you good fashion to
  pay you for hidin’ that there money where Joe Wayring an’ his friends
  could find it; but I’ll let you off agin for a little while. We’ll put
  as straight for No-Man’s Pond as we can go, an’ if I find that Joe’s
  got the money I won’t do nothin’ to you; me an’ you will be friends
  like we’ve always been. But if he ain’t got it, or if he’s hid it
  where we can’t find it, then there’ll be such a row betwixt me an’ you
  that the folks up to Injun Lake will think there’s a harrycane got
  loose in the woods.”

  Jake drew a long breath of relief, but Sam wanted to yell. The latter
  was strongly opposed to going to No-Man’s Pond. His great desire was
  to return to camp, separate himself from the rest of the family as
  soon as he could, and look into the tree in which he had concealed the
  money. Somehow he could not bring himself to believe that it had been
  found and carried off.

  “Say, pap, I wouldn’t go acrost the lake if I was you,” Sam ventured
  to say. “So long’s we stay over yer we’re safe, ’cause the guides
  can’t get to us without our bein’ knowin’ to it; but if we go to
  trampin’ through woods that we are liable to get lost in they may jump
  down on us afore we can wink twice.”

  “No they won’t,” said Matt, confidently. “I’m too ole a coon to be
  ketched that a-way. Leastwise I ain’t a-goin’ to let them six thousand
  go without makin’ the best kind of a fight for ’em.”

  “But somebody oughter go to camp an’ tell mam where we’re goin’,” Sam
  insisted. “She’ll be scared if we don’t show up by the time it comes
  dark. I’d jest as soon go as not, and I’ll jine you agin at the
  outlet.”

  “Sam, what’s the matter of you?” exclaimed Matt. “You always was sich
  a coward you would go hungry before you would sneak out of nights an’
  steal grub for us to eat; but you’ve got to stand up to the rack this
  time, I bet you. I need your help; an’ if I see you makin’ the least
  sign of holdin’ back I’ll give you the twin brother to the lickin’ I
  promised Jake.”

  That was what Sam was afraid of, and it was the only thing that kept
  him from running off and making the best of his way to the tree in
  which he had hidden the money. Until he had satisfied himself that it
  was safe he could neither eat nor sleep.

  Having tied the provisions up in as small a compass as possible, Matt
  raised the bundle to his shoulder, picked up his rifle, and set out at
  a rapid pace for the outlet, Jake and Sam following close behind. They
  were ferried across by one of the vagabonds who had given the
  superintendent of the hatchery so much trouble, and who expressed the
  greatest surprise and pleasure at meeting them. But Matt was not
  deceived by his friendly speech. He knew that the man would have made
  a prisoner of him in a minute if he had possessed the power.

  “I never thought to set eyes on you again,” was the way in which he
  welcomed Matt and his boys. “You’ve kept yourselves tol’able close
  since Swan burned your camp, ain’t you? An’ they do say that Jakey has
  made six thousand dollars clean cash outen that Irvin’ton bank
  robbery. Course I’ll set you acrost. Goin’ to change your quarters, be
  you? Where do you reckon you’ll bring up?”

  “New London,” replied Matt, readily. “From there we’ll take a boat to
  some place on the Sound where they want wood-choppers, an’ then we’ll
  settle down an’ go to work.”

  “But the ole woman ain’t with you.”

  “She’s goin’ cross lots, ’cause she didn’t think she could stand the
  long tramp that me and the boys are goin’ to take. Yes; we’re goin’ to
  hide ourselves durin’ the winter, an’ when spring comes mebbe we’ll
  come too. They’ll forget all about us by that time.”

  “Well, I hope the constables won’t foller you through the woods.”

  “It wouldn’t be healthy for any body to do that,” replied Matt,
  looking sharply at the man with his little black eyes. “A feller who
  can hit a squirrel’s head at every shot can throw a bullet middlin’
  clost to a mark the bigness of a constable.”

  This was a threat, and the man who ferried them across the outlet took
  it as such. As he was too timid as well as too indolent to take any
  steps that would lead to the squatter’s apprehension, he contented
  himself by going back to his cabin, smoking a pipe, and wishing he had
  the reward that had been put upon Matt’s head.

  The pursuers had lost a good deal of time in going from Tom Bigden’s
  camp to the outlet, but they made up for it by the fast traveling they
  did after they were set across. If Matt had not missed his way, he
  might have come up with Joe that night. As it was, he and his boys
  went into camp about three miles from the spring-hole. During their
  journey they came near showing themselves to a couple of individuals
  who passed through the woods a hundred yards in advance, heading
  toward Indian Lake; but Matt, always on the watch, dropped in time to
  avoid discovery, and the boys touched the ground almost as soon as he
  did.

  “Who be they?” whispered the squatter, peering through the bushes in
  the vain effort to obtain a view of the strangers’ faces.

  “They’re them two fellers that always runs with Joe Wayring,” answered
  Jake.

  “Sure?” asked Matt.

  “Sure’s I can be without seein’ ’em closter.”

  “That’s who they be, pap,” said Sam. “I know, ’cause they’ve got the
  same kind of clothes and the same kind of hats on ’em.”

  Sam and Jake were deceived by the hunting suits worn by the strangers.
  The latter were a couple of sportsmen who had made a short excursion
  into the woods without a guide, and were now on their way to their
  hotel. Matt took a minute or two in which to think over the situation.

  “Look sharp,” said he, in an excited whisper, “an’ see if they have
  got camp-baskets onto their backs or grip-sacks in their hands. If
  they have, we’ll bounce ’em quicker.”

  “They ain’t got nary thing in their hands but jest fish-poles,”
  answered Sam. “I can see ’em plain. The things they’ve got on their
  backs is knapsacks.”

  “Then they must have left Joe Wayring an’ the money alone at the
  spring-hole,” chuckled Matt. “They can’t go to Injun Lake an’ turn
  around and come back before the middle of forenoon to-morrer, an’ by
  the time they see No-Man’s Pond again we’ll be through with our
  business. I tell you things is beginnin’ to run my way onct more.
  Ain’t you sorry you come, Sammy? We shall find Joe alone at the pond,
  and it’ll be the easiest thing in the world to make him trot out that
  money or tell where he’s hid it.”

  “But supposin’ he won’t do it?” said Jake. “What’ll you do to him,
  pap?”

  “We’ll tie him to a tree an’ thrash him so’t he won’t never get over
  it,” said the squatter, through his teeth. “That boy has put me to a
  sight of trouble ever sense I first heard of him, an’ now I’m goin’ to
  take my satisfaction outen him. We’ll make him ax our parding an’
  acknowledge that we’re just as good as he is, even if we ain’t got no
  good clothes to wear.”

  “An’ when you get through I’ll take a hand, an’ pay him for the whack
  he give me in the face with your paddle,” chimed in Jake.

  “An’ I’ll pay him for—for—bein’ so mean to all of us,” said Sam.

  He came near betraying himself that time. What he was about to say was
  that he would pay Joe Wayring for stealing the money.

  “You can do jest what you please with him, an’ I won’t say a word agin
  it,” answered the squatter. “The way them rich folks has always run
  over us ain’t to be put up with no longer.”

  Pursuers and pursued slept soundly within three miles of one another
  that night, but the morning’s sun found them all astir. While Joe and
  his companions were working like beavers on their bark shanty, Matt
  Coyle was wasting his time in searching for the portage that led from
  Indian Lake to No-Man’s Pond. He passed the best part of the day in
  recovering his bearings, and the afternoon was far spent when Jake
  laid his hand on his arm and pointed silently through the bushes ahead
  of him. Matt looked, and saw the smoke of a camp-fire curling up
  toward the tree-tops. He listened, but no sound came to his ears to
  indicate that the camp was occupied. Arthur and Roy had gone in the
  canvas canoe to explore the spring-hole and Joe was resting after his
  work, thinking the while of almost every thing and every body except
  Matt Coyle.

  “I don’t reckon he’s there, pap,” said Jake in a cautious whisper.

  “He’s there or thereabouts,” was Matt’s reply. “Mebbe he’s went out on
  the pond to ketch some trout for his supper. If he has, we’ll be in
  time to help him eat ’em, won’t we? Jakey, you crawl up, careful like,
  an’ take a peep at things. Me an’ Sam’ll stay here till you come
  back.”

  Matt never went into danger himself if he could help it, but always
  sent Jake; and the boy had become so accustomed to it that he obeyed
  this order without the least hesitation. He crept away on his hands
  and knees, and at the end of a quarter of an hour returned with a most
  gratifying report.

  “Joe’s there, an’ he’s all alone,” whispered Jake. “He’s layin’ under
  a tree an’ acts like he’s asleep.”

  “So much the better for us,” replied Matt, gleefully rubbing his hands
  together. “That money is our’n. Now, Jakey, you go that-a-way; Sam,
  you go this way; an’ I’ll keep in the middle. In that way we shall
  have him surrounded an’ he can’t give us the slip. When you hear me
  whistle like a quail, jump up an’ grab him.”

  “But, pap, he’s got a gun,” said Jake, apprehensively. “I seen it
  layin’ on the ground clost to him.”

  “What of it?” Matt demanded, in angry tones. “That’s the very reason I
  want you to grab him; so’s he won’t have time to use his gun. Now,
  then, here we go, quiet like, an’ still.”

  The three moved off so silently that Joe Wayring would not have heard
  them if he had been awake and listening for their approach. They came
  up on each side of the camp, cutting off every avenue of escape, and
  at the signal agreed upon made a simultaneous rush. Before Joe could
  open his eyes he was powerless, for Matt Coyle had seized both his
  hands, crossed them upon his breast, and pinned them there with a
  vise-like grasp.

  “It’s come our turn to boss things,” said the squatter, returning
  Joe’s astonished look with an angry scowl. “We’ll learn you to drive
  us outen Mount Airy an’ tear our house down jest’ cause we’re poor
  folks an’ ain’t got no good clothes to wear. Jakey, you an’ Sam look
  around an’ find a rope or something to tie him with.”

  “What are you going to do?” asked Joe, when he found his tongue.

  “That depends on yourself,” answered Matt. “You can get off without a
  scratch if you will do jest what I tell you; but if you don’t it will
  be wuss for you. Where is it?”

  “Where’s what?” said Joe, innocently.

  “Now jest listen at the blockhead!” exclaimed Matt. “You don’t know
  what I mean, don’t you? I mean the money you stole from us. The money,
  you varmint.” And whenever he said “money” he jammed Joe’s hands down
  upon his breast with terrific force. “The money, I say. Where is it?”

  “All the money I have is in my pocket,” replied Joe. “If you want it,
  I can’t hinder you from taking it.” He spoke with difficulty, for
  Matt’s furious lunges had nearly knocked the breath out of his body.

  “Whoop!” yelled the squatter. “Listen at you! I don’t want the money
  that’s into your pocket. I want what was stole from the bank. It
  b’longs to me, an’ I’m goin’ to have it. Where is it, I tell you.”

  “I don’t know the first thing about it. I never saw it.”

  “Mebbe you’ll think different before we get through with you,” said
  Matt; “found the rope, have you, Jakey? All right. Stand by to tie his
  hands when I tell you; an’, Sam, you pull off his blue shirt. We won’t
  fool with him no longer.”

  So saying the squatter arose to his feet, pulling Joe up with him. In
  a few minutes more the boy was standing with his face to a tree, and
  his hands and feet were fastened to it. But the work was not
  accomplished without a terrific struggle, I assure you. Joe Wayring
  fought desperately, and during the _melee_ Jake was floored by a neat
  left-hander in the jaw, and Sam received a kick that doubled him up in
  short order. Of course this vigorous treatment added to their fury,
  but Matt was disposed to be hilarious over it.

  “Well, then, what made you hide the money where he could find it, if
  you didn’t want to get a whack from his fist?” said he. “If you had
  brung it straight to me, like you oughter done, Joe never would a hit
  you.”

  “That makes another thing that I’ve got to pay him for,” groaned Jake.
  “Hurry up an’ get through with him, pap, ’cause I want to get at him.”

  “Then go an’ cut some good tough hickories, both of you. They’ll be
  back in a few minutes,” said Matt, as the boys took their knives from
  their pockets and disappeared from view, “an’ before they come, you
  had better make up your mind to tell me what you have done with that
  money. I’ve got all the proof I want that it was seed in your
  camp-basket yesterday.”

  “Who told you so?” inquired Joe.

  “I ain’t namin’ no names,” replied Matt; and then, for the first time,
  it occurred to him that if the valises were in Joe’s camp-basket
  yesterday they might be there yet, and he at once proceeded to satisfy
  himself on that point. The contents of all the baskets were quickly
  thrown out upon the ground, but the valises were not brought to light.

  “I done that jest ’cause I happened to think of it, an’ not ’cause I
  expected to find the money,” Matt exclaimed. “I knowed you would hide
  it as soon as you got here. The boys is comin’. They’d like amazin’
  well to larrup you on your bare back, an’ they will do it too; we’ll
  all do it, if you don’t quit bein’ so pig-headed an’ tell us right
  where we can go an’ find that money. Speak quick. Will you do it?”

  “I tell you I don’t know any thing about it,” replied Joe, “and you
  can’t make me say any thing else. If any body told you a different
  story, which I don’t believe, he fooled you. That’s all I’ve got to
  say.”

  Just then Jake and Sam came out of the bushes with their hands full of
  switches.



                              CHAPTER XIV.
                   THE GUIDE “SURROUNDS” MATT‘S CAMP.


  “How do you like the looks of _them_?” said Matt Coyle, picking up one
  of the switches and flourishing it before Joe’s face. “It’s hickory
  an’ it’ll cut. Whew! I don’t like to think how it will cut when it’s
  laid on good and strong. Now, then, where is it? You see that we are
  in dead ’arnest, I reckon, don’t you? What have you done with it?”

  It was at this juncture that the canvas canoe carrying Roy Sheldon and
  Arthur Hastings came around the point in full view of the camp. The
  boys were so surprised at what they saw before them that for a minute
  or two they were incapable of action. They were as motionless as so
  many sticks of wood; and, although their blood boiled with indignation
  when they saw Jake so unmercifully beaten, they never said a word.
  But, when Matt drew back as if he were about to strike Joe with the
  switch he held in his hand, they had life enough in them.

  “Hold on there! If you touch that boy I will put more holes through
  you than you ever saw in a skimmer,” shouted Arthur, as he raised his
  gun to his shoulder; and the squatter’s triumph was cut short.

  “This is an outrage that shall not be over-looked,” said Roy, plunging
  his paddle into the water and sending the canvas canoe rapidly toward
  the beach. “Keep him covered, Art, so that he can’t escape, and we’ll
  march the whole caboodle of them to Indian Lake.”

  Before the words had fairly left Roy’s lips Arthur found, to his
  intense amazement, that he was pointing his gun at the bushes, instead
  of covering Matt Coyle’s head. The squatter and his boys had dropped
  to the ground, and that was the last that was seen of them. If three
  trap-doors had opened beneath their feet, they could not have
  disappeared with more astonishing and bewildering celerity. The boys
  did not wait to beach the canoe but jumped overboard, as soon as they
  could see bottom, and rushed to Joe’s relief.

  “Who, what—how—what’s the meaning of this?” stammered Roy, drawing his
  knife across the rope that held the prisoner’s hands, while Arthur
  severed the one with which his feet were confined. “How came those
  vagabonds up here, and what was it that Tom Bigden told them about
  money?”

  Joe Wayring stretched his arms and briefly explained.

  “You came just in time, boys,” said he, in conclusion. “Did you see
  Jake’s face when Matt got through beating him? That was a contemptible
  thing for Matt to do, and he ought to be punished for it.”

  “Your back would have looked worse than that if we had delayed our
  coming a few minutes longer,” said Roy. “How did you feel when Matt
  told you that he had seen Art and me putting for the lake as fast as
  we could go?”

  “I didn’t pay the least attention to it, for I thought he said it to
  frighten me. It seems that Jake has lost track of the money that was
  stolen from the Irvington bank; but if Tom Bigden said he had seen it
  in my camp-basket, I don’t see what induced him to do it.”

  “What was it that induced him to tell Matt to steal your canoe?” asked
  Arthur.

  “I don’t know that he did. I only think so from what I have heard.
  Now, fellows,” said Joe calmly, but with determination, “my fishing is
  ended for a while, and I am going on the war-path. I’ll see whether or
  not I am to be tormented in this way by people who can not truthfully
  say that I ever did the first thing to injure them.”

  “Count us in,” said Arthur. “I wish the portage was clear so that we
  could start for the lake at once; but I am afraid to try it in the
  dark.”

  “We mustn’t try it in the dark. We’d get lost before we had gone a
  hundred yards,” said Roy. “We’ll make an early start in the morning. I
  would give something handsome if I knew just how this thing stands,
  and how Matt Coyle found out that we were camping here. I wonder what
  Tom will have to say for himself when the matter is brought into
  court.”

  “I can’t believe that he had any thing to do with it,” answered Joe.
  “If he has half the sense I give him credit for, he must see that he
  would sooner or later bring himself into trouble by acting as Matt
  Coyle’s counselor.”

  “He’s got sense enough; no one disputes that,” said Roy. “But I tell
  you he is at the bottom of this trouble. Matt and his boys knew what
  they were doing when they crossed to this side of the lake and came
  straight to No-Man’s Pond.”

  “That’s what I say,” chimed in Arthur.

  “Well,” replied Joe, “I shall need better evidence than a vagabond’s
  unsupported word before I will believe that Tom Bigden is to blame for
  any thing that has happened to me to-day. I don’t doubt that his will
  is good enough; but he would be afraid to put himself into the power
  of such a fellow as Matt Coyle. At any rate I’ll not make trouble for
  him if I can help it; but I’ll never rest easy till Matt’s whole tribe
  has been arrested or driven so far out of the country that they can’t
  get back in a hurry.”

  “This is what we get by coming into the woods without our body-guard,”
  said Arthur. “If Jim had been here Matt could not have stolen a march
  on you as easily as he did.”

  I believe I forgot to tell you that Jim, Arthur Hastings’s little
  spaniel, was not with the boys this trip. A few days prior to his
  master’s departure for Indian Lake he managed to get run over by a
  loaded wagon, and Arthur had left him at home under the doctor’s care.
  Jim hated the squatter and his kind most cordially, and would
  certainly have given the alarm the moment they came within scenting
  distance of the camp.

  That night the boys did not sleep a great while at a time. Not an hour
  passed that I did not see one of them punching up the fire or walking
  around the shanty with his gun in his hands. But they were not
  disturbed. Matt Coyle had seen enough of Arthur Hastings and his
  double-barrel for one while, and if he was anywhere in the
  neighborhood he did not show himself. When day broke Joe Wayring and
  his friends did not linger to take a dip in the pond or run races
  along the beach, but ate a hastily prepared breakfast, packed their
  camp-baskets, and set out for the lake. They held a straight course
  for it, but the traveling was so difficult that it was high noon
  before they got there. The first man they saw was Mr. Swan, who was
  just pushing away from the landing in front of the Sportsman’s Home.
  His canoe was loaded, and that proved that he was going somewhere.

  “Hallo!” was his cheery greeting. “Did you get lost or run out of grub
  or what? I did not expect to see you again for two or three weeks.”

  “We didn’t get lost, and we’ve lots of grub left,” replied Arthur.
  “Where have you started for, if it is a fair question?”

  “I am going where the rest of the boys are going, or gone; into the
  woods to find Matt Coyle’s trail and Jake’s,” answered the guide. “If
  I can’t find but one I’d a little rather have Jake, because there’s a
  bigger reward offered for him. There are a dozen or fifteen men in the
  woods now, and there’ll be as many more by this time to-morrow. Them
  vagabonds can’t run loose any longer, for the boys are in dead earnest
  now, and have broken up into little parties instead of going in a
  body. In that way they can cover more ground, and stand a better
  chance of getting a big slice of the reward. Of course you haven’t
  seen Coyle lately?”

  “Haven’t we, though?” exclaimed Roy. “There’s where you are mistaken.
  Are you in a very great hurry? Then come ashore and I will tell you a
  little story.”

  The guide smiled as he turned his canoe toward the beach, but before
  Roy Sheldon had talked to him five minutes the smile gave place to a
  frown. He listened in the greatest amazement to the boy’s brief and
  rapid narration of the exciting incidents that had happened at the
  spring-hole, said “I swan to man!” a good many times, and when Roy
  ceased speaking sat down on the ground right where he stood, there
  being no log handy, to think the matter over.

  “Well, well! So Matt broke up your fishing picnic and frightened you
  away from the pond, did he?” said the guide, after a long pause. “I
  don’t know as I blame you for wanting to get back among folks. I’d be
  scared too, if some fellers should tie me to a tree and threaten to
  wallop me.”

  “Matt broke up our fishing for the present, but we want you to
  understand that he didn’t scare us away from the pond,” said Arthur,
  earnestly. “We are going to Irvington to lodge a complaint against
  him, and as soon as that has been done we intend to take a hand in
  hunting him up.”

  “You? You boys alone?” exclaimed the guide.

  “Yes; we three fellows alone, unless you will go with us. But you
  mustn’t think we are afraid of him. If he is such a terrible man,
  what’s the reason he took to his heels the minute he saw the muzzle of
  Art’s gun looking him in the face?”

  “Most any body would run under them circumstances if he thought he had
  the ghost of a chance,” replied Mr. Swan. “You had the drop on him.”

  “But we didn’t have the drop on him last night when we were asleep,
  did we? If he was so sure that money was in our camp, what’s the
  reason he didn’t come and get it after dark? He was afraid to try it.”

  “Most likely he was,” answered the guide. “Well, if you’re bound to
  go, I’d like to have you with me so’t I can sorter keep an eye on you.
  Let’s go and get your skiff. I put it in one of the boathouses under
  cover.”

  “But we want to make complaint against Matt,” said Joe.

  “Why not wait till he has been arrested for stealing them guns and
  that canoe, and then make it? You will save at least four days by it,
  and by that time Matt may be took up and you and me have no hand in
  it. We kinder thought him and his crowd had skipped the country,
  because we ain’t seen none of ’em lately; but the boys _will_ be
  surprised, and mad too, when they hear what he done in your camp.”

  While the guide was talking in this way he led the boys along the
  beach toward the boathouse in which he had placed their skiff for
  safekeeping. To put it into the water, take the provisions out of the
  camp-baskets and stow them in the lockers, ship the oars and return to
  the place where Mr. Swan had left his canoe, was but a few minutes’
  work. When the latter shoved off from the beach the two boats moved
  side by side, I occupying my usual place on the stern locker.

  “There’s one question that has been running in my mind ever since I
  heard your story, and which I ain’t been able to answer yet,” observed
  the guide, as the boys slackened their pace so that the canoe could
  keep up. “What made Matt Coyle think that you boys had the money in
  your possession, and how did he know where to find you? It looks to me
  as though somebody had posted him in regard to your movements, and if
  Tom Bigden had been in your company since you came here I should say
  that he was the chap. Do you suspicion him?”

  Arthur and Roy looked at Joe as if to say: “What do you think of it
  now?” and the latter replied:

  “I don’t know whether to suspect him or not.”

  “Well, if Tom’s mixed up in it, it won’t take long to find it out,”
  said the guide, indifferently. “The minute Matt is brought before the
  justice he’ll blab every thing he knows.”

  When Joe heard this he almost wished that he had not been in such
  haste to declare that he would never rest easy until Matt and his
  family had been arrested or driven so far out of the country that they
  wouldn’t get back in a hurry. Joe was indignant, as he had reason to
  be, but he was not vindictive.

  “I’d rather Matt would get off scott free than be the means of
  bringing Tom Bigden into disgrace,” was his mental reflection. “If I
  could help him out of the country I would do it. But then, there’s the
  money. What’s to be done about that? Do you suppose Jake has really
  lost track of those six thousand dollars?” he added, aloud.

  “I am sure of it,” answered Roy, “What put that thought into your
  head?”

  “If he intended to share it with the members of his family, what’s the
  reason he did not take it to his father the minute he found it?” asked
  Joe, in reply. “Every thing goes to prove that Jake wants all the
  money, and if he can make his father believe that he has lost it of
  course he will not be expected to divide.”

  “Oh, you’re off the track,” said Arthur, confidently. “If Jake had
  told Matt any funny story like that, don’t you think the beating he
  got up there at the spring-hole would have brought the truth out of
  him? What do you think about it, Mr. Swan?”

  “I haven’t yet made up my mind,” replied the guide. “This much I know.
  That money is hidden somewhere in the woods, and it’s going to be no
  fool of a job to find it.”

  “Have you decided upon any plan of action?”

  “Well, yes. We might as well hunt for a needle in a hay-stack as to go
  wandering about through the timber looking for a couple of grip-sacks,
  for I have been told that these woods cover almost two thousand square
  miles of ground. There must be some sort of system about the search,
  or it won’t amount to any thing. The rest of the boys are trying to
  catch Matt and all his family, believing that if they can do that they
  will get the money. Perhaps they will, and perhaps they won’t. I
  wasn’t going to do business that way. I intended to find their camp
  the first thing I did, and hang around it night and day till I got a
  clew. If Jake knows where the money is, he’ll have to go to it every
  little while to make sure it is safe, won’t he?”

  The boys all thought he would, and Joe said:

  “If I were in Jake’s place I would go to it just once, and when I
  found it I’d take it and leave the country. A brute of a father who
  pounded me as Matt pounded Jake should not see a cent of the money.”

  “Mebbe that’s what Jake means to do,” answered the guide. “I hope it
  is, and that we will be in sight when he tries it; for it will be no
  trouble at all for us to slip up and gobble him and the money at the
  same time. That would scare Matt, who would lose no time in getting
  away from these woods.”

  “That’s just what I hope he will do,” said Joe, to himself. “Somehow I
  can’t bear the thought of seeing him come into court to get a Mount
  Airy boy into trouble.”

  “I’ve often thought of it as a curious thing that the stolen guns and
  your canvas canoe should have been found in the same place, and that
  place the cove where Matt’s camp used to be,” said Mr. Swan, after a
  little pause. “By putting this and that together, I have come to the
  conclusion that Matt and his family hang out near that cove, believing
  it to be the safest place for them. I thought I would go up there
  after dark and skirmish around a bit. What do you think?”

  “If that is what you have decided upon, why, go ahead,” replied
  Arthur. “We shall at least have the satisfaction of knowing that we
  are busy, even if we don’t accomplish any thing.”

  “We don’t want to go near the cove until after dark,” the guide went
  on. “We tried that once, you know, but Matt got wind of our coming and
  took himself safely off.”

  A plan of operations having been decided upon, the boys took Mr.
  Swan’s canoe in tow and pulled for the lake with long and lusty
  strokes. Shortly after twelve o’clock they landed in a little grove to
  cook their dinner; but, after they had taken a look at the heap of
  ashes, potato skins, charred chunks, withered hemlock boughs,
  fish-heads, bones, and empty fruit and bean cans that were scattered
  about, they told one another that they would go farther and find a
  neater place.

  “This is the worst camp on the lake, isn’t it?” said Roy. “The fellows
  who lived here were either new hands at the business or else they were
  a lazy lot.”

  They were both. The grove was the site of Tom Bigden’s old camp, and a
  nice looking spot he and his cousins had made of it. But such groves
  were plenty along the beach. Another was quickly found, an excellent
  dinner was prepared and leisurely eaten, and after Mr. Swan had taken
  time to smoke a pipe the party shoved off and headed toward the creek
  that led to Matt Coyle’s old camp.

  “Now, then,” said the guide, who thought it time to assume direction
  of affairs, “we don’t want any more loud talking. And be careful how
  you let them oars rattle in the rowlocks. A slight noise can be heard
  a long distance in a quiet place like this, and Matt is always
  listening.”

  Having cast off the painter of his canoe, Mr. Swan went on ahead, and
  the skiff followed slowly in his wake. Mile after mile they passed
  over in silence, all unconscious of the fact that almost every thing
  they did was observed by one who threaded his way cautiously through
  the bushes abreast of them, and who would have given a large sum of
  money if he could have had one of their boats at his disposal for a
  few minutes.

  So well did Mr. Swan regulate his pace that it was just dark when he
  and his young companions arrived at the mouth of the little stream
  which connected the creek with the cove in which Matt enacted that
  neat piece of strategy described by Fly-rod in his story. Here he
  stopped and listened for a long time. No sounds came from the woods to
  indicate that the squatter and his family were occupying their old
  camp; but that was no sign that they were not there, and the guide
  proceeded very cautiously. He did not attempt to force his canoe into
  the stream, but made a landing below it, and the skiff drew up
  alongside of him.

  “What’s the next thing on the programme?” whispered Joe, lifting his
  oar out of the rowlock and laying it carefully on the thwarts. “Shall
  we all go in?”

  “I reckon we might as well,” replied the guide. “Why not?”

  “You remember what happened the last time we were here, do you not?”
  replied Joe. “How Matt came around in our rear and threw away our
  things and stole two of our boats?”

  “It ain’t likely that I’ll ever forget it,” said Mr. Swan, “nor how
  mad we all were to see how completely he had outwitted us. But he
  can’t do that this time, for we are not going into the cove. We’ll
  leave the boats here.”

  “Matt Coyle isn’t within a dozen miles of this place,” said Roy,
  decidedly. “He’s on the other side of the lake.”

  “That don’t signify,” answered Mr. Swan. “There are plenty of
  vagabones at the outlet who would set him across for the asking, and
  it ain’t a very fur ways from there to this cove. Now, if he is here,
  we’ll not give him a chance to slip away from us like he did last
  time. Yon know right where the camp was, don’t you? Well, I’ll go off
  by myself and surround it. At the end of twenty minutes, as near as
  you can guess at it, creep up toward the place you think I am, no
  matter whether you hear from me or not. Spread out from the center as
  you go, so as to come upon the camp from all sides. If he isn’t there,
  we’ll find out whether or not he has been there very lately, and that
  will be something learned.”

  Mr. Swan lingered a minute or two to give a few additional
  instructions, and then moved silently away through the darkness. The
  first thing the boys did, when they found themselves alone, was to
  secure their guns and cartridge belts, and the second to draw the bows
  of the skiff and canoe upon the bank so that the current would not
  carry them away. After that they struck a match to see what time it
  was, and sat down to wait as patiently as they could for the twenty
  minutes to pass away.

  “I hope Matt Coyle isn’t here,” said Joe, suddenly. “Or if he is, I
  hope he will take the alarm and make off before Mr. Swan gets a sight
  of him.”

  “Well, you are a pretty fellow,” said Roy, with a slight accent of
  disgust in his tones. “After what he has done to you, do you want him
  to get off?”

  “Yes, I do; and I can’t help it,” answered Joe. “But it is not on his
  own account, I assure you. To me there is something repugnant in the
  thought that such a fellow as Matt Coyle can get any body into
  trouble, especially such a boy as Tom Bigden might be if he only
  would. If Tom put it into his head to steal my canoe, or if he told
  him that we had taken the six thousand dollars with us to No-Man’s
  Pond—why, fellows, just think what a story that would be for him to
  tell in court?”

  “Well, could Tom blame any body but himself if he did tell it?”
  demanded Arthur. “He had no business to have so much to do with that
  squatter. Where do you suppose the money is, any way?”

  “Did it never occur to you that some of the vagabonds who live at the
  outlet might have stumbled upon it?” asked Roy.

  “Or that some other member of Matt’s family, Sam for instance, might
  have found it where Jake hid it?” chimed in Joe.

  “That’s so,” exclaimed Arthur. “But if Sam’s got it what is he going
  to do with it? It would be little satisfaction to me to have so much
  money in my possession unless I could use some of it.”

  “The twenty minutes are up,” said Joe, examining the face of his watch
  by the light of a match. “Mr. Swan has had time to ‘surround’ the
  camp, and we must be moving. We must be careful, also, and not get out
  of supporting distance of one another, for there is no telling what we
  may run onto in the dark.”

  It was not without fear and trembling that the boys began their
  advance upon the squatter’s camp. They had given Mr. Swan to
  understand that they were not afraid of Matt, and they would have made
  their words good if it had been daylight and they had been standing on
  the defensive; but advancing upon his supposed hiding-place in the
  dark was something they had not bargained for. Matt might be standing
  guard with a club in his hand, ready to brain the first one who showed
  himself.

  “I declare, that’s just what he is doing. There he is, standing by
  that fire.”

  So thought Joe Wayring, who by good luck happened to strike the well
  beaten path that led through the evergreens from the cove to the spot
  whereon the squatter’s miserable lean-to had once stood. Having no
  bushes to impede his progress, Joe crept rapidly forward on his hands
  and knees without making the slightest sound, and in a few moments
  came within sight of a glowing bed of coals, with a clearly defined
  pair of legs in front of it. A second glance showed Joe that the legs
  belonged to a man who loomed up wonderfully tall and stout in the
  darkness, and that he held across his breast something that looked
  like a bludgeon. He was gazing in Joe’s direction, too, and that was
  the way he would undoubtedly run when he became aware that his enemies
  were closing in upon him. What was to be done now, and where were Mr.
  Swan and the other boys?

  “If he makes a charge he’ll run over me and never know there was any
  thing in his path. I’ll give him all the room he wants,” soliloquized
  Joe; and, suiting the action to the word, he got upon his feet and
  backed softly into the bushes.

  After standing a second or two in a listening attitude, the man kicked
  the coals together with his heavy boot, and threw upon them a dry
  hemlock branch, which instantly blazed up, revealing the guide’s
  honest face. Joe was greatly relieved. “How you frightened me,” said
  he, as he came down the path. “You looked as big as a tree, and I
  thought you were Matt Coyle, sure.”

  “You can see for yourself that he or somebody else has been here
  within a few hours,” replied Mr. Swan, tossing another branch upon the
  coals.

  “Do the signs tell you any thing?”

  “Haven’t seen any sign yet except this smouldering fire. Call up the
  rest of the fellows and we will go into camp back there at the creek.
  In the morning we’ll take a look around and see what we can see.”

  Guided by an occasional word from Joe the other two presently came up.
  By this time the fire was burning brightly, and by the aid of the
  light it gave they were enabled to examine the ground about it. They
  found the charred remains of the squatter’s lean-to, but could not
  discover the first thing to give them a clew to the identity of the
  person or persons who built the fire. The guide was almost sure it was
  not Matt Coyle, for Matt invariably left some sort of rubbish behind
  him. Whoever he was, he had not been gone more than half an hour, for
  the coals had hardly ceased blazing when Mr. Swan found them. They
  lingered long enough to see the fire burn itself out and then started
  for the creek, where a great surprise awaited them.



                              CHAPTER XV.
                      ON THE RIGHT TRACK AT LAST.


  A more astonished trio than Matt Coyle and his boys were when they
  heard Arthur Hastings’s voice, and looked up to find the muzzle of his
  double-barrel pointed straight at their heads, had never been seen on
  the shores of No-Man’s Pond. They really believed that they had seen
  Arthur and Roy in the woods going toward Indian Lake, and when they
  made a prisoner of Joe Wayring they thought they held him at their
  mercy. But, although Matt was surprised at the interruption, he was
  not to be easily beaten. He uttered a faint cry, which had more than
  once sent his whole family scurrying into the bushes, and in less time
  than it takes to write it he and his boys were out of sight. They
  wormed their way through the bushes with astonishing celerity, and by
  the time Roy and Arthur reached the shore and released the captive
  from his bonds Matt and his allies were lying prone behind a log a
  short distance away, with their rifles pointed over it, waiting to be
  attacked.

  “Jakey, you an’ Sam was certainly mistaken when you said that the
  fellers we seen goin’ through the woods was the same ones that always
  went with Joe Wayring,” whispered Matt. “If it was them, how did they
  happen to come up in that there canvas canoe the way they did? My luck
  has turned agin me onct more, ain’t it?”

  “That Bigden boy played a trick on you,” said Jake. He passed his hand
  over his battered face and could hardly repress a howl when he saw
  that it was covered with blood.

  “I told you I’d lick ye if we didn’t find the money in Joe’s camp,
  didn’t I?” said his father, fiercely. “Now I reckon you see that I was
  in earnest, don’t you? If you had brung me the money the minute you
  got hold of it, I would have went halvers with you, an’ you wouldn’t
  have had that lookin’ face, an’ I wouldn’t have been put to so much
  trouble. Next time bear in mind that your pap is boss of this here
  house. You say that Bigden boy played a trick onto me. I begin to
  suspicion so myself; but, if he did, where’s the money? Jakey, did you
  hide them grip-sacks in that hole where you said you did?”

  “Sure’s I live an’ breathe I did,” replied Jake, edging away from his
  father when he saw how savagely the latter scowled at him. “It was
  there the last time I seen it; but I don’t know where it is now.”

  “What be we waitin’ here for?” interrupted Sam. “Joe ain’t got the
  money, an’ why don’t we go somewheres else an’ look for it? Mam’ll be
  scared if we don’t come home purty quick.”

  “Where else shall we go an’ look for it?” demanded the squatter.

  “Why, down to—anywheres,” said Sam, with some confusion.

  “You had some place in your mind when you spoke,” Matt insisted. “Down
  where?”

  “Anywheres on the other side of the lake. It ain’t never been brung
  over here, an’ I didn’t think so none of the time.”

  Very gradually it began to creep into Matt’s head that Sam had not
  acted at all like himself since their party left Tom Bigden’s camp to
  go in pursuit of Joe Wayring. The boy had been opposed to it from the
  first, and showed great anxiety and impatience to return to camp and
  relieve his mother’s suspense. How did she know but that they had
  fallen into the clutches of the law; and how was she going to find out
  unless one of their number went home to assure her that they were all
  safe and sound? It wasn’t at all like Sam to express so much concern
  for his mother’s comfort and peace of mind, and why should he do it
  now, Matt asked himself, unless he had some reason for desiring to go
  back to the cove?

  “An’ what should Sammy want to go back there for, less’n it’s to look
  after something he’s left behind?” soliloquized the squatter. “An’
  what’s he left there if it ain’t them two—Whoop! That’s it, sure’s
  you’re born.”

  “What’s the matter of you, pap?” exclaimed Sam.

  Almost involuntarily Matt uttered the last words aloud, and of course
  his boys heard them and desired an explanation. Sam looked frightened;
  but Jake’s face was so badly wounded that no one could tell what its
  expression was. Matt looked surprised, then thoughtful, and finally
  replied:

  “Yes, sir; that’s it. That Bigden boy done sent us up here on a wild
  goose chase jest to draw suspicion from himself. He is the one that’s
  got the money, and he’s had it all the time.”

  “You’ve hit center, pap, sure’s you’re a foot high,” exclaimed Sam. “I
  wondered why that Bigden boy was so ready to tell us where the money
  was, an’ now I know. Will we go home now, pap?”

  “We’ll start at onct, an’ by this time to-morrer we’ll have the money
  an’ the Bigden boy too. If he don’t tell us what he’s done with it,
  we’ll tie him to a tree like we done with Joe Wayring. He ain’t got
  Joe’s pluck, Tom ain’t, sassy as he lets on to be, an’ when he sees a
  hickory whistlin’ before his eyes he’ll tell us all we want to know. I
  didn’t think Tom would have the cheek to fool me that a-way when he
  knows well enough that I’ve got the upper hand of him.”

  The squatter said this as if he was in earnest, and as if he really
  thought he had got upon the track of the money at last; but while he
  talked he kept close watch of Sam’s face, and saw enough there to
  satisfy him that his own boy, and not Tom Bigden, was the one who
  could tell him right where to look to find the lost treasure.

  “Well, what be we waitin’ here for?” repeated Sam, who was impatient
  to be off.

  “I kinder thought that mebbe them fellers would make a rush on us
  soon’s they turned Joe Wayring loose,” answered Matt, “an’ I wanted to
  be ready for ’em. But I don’t reckon they’re comin’, so we’ll go
  along. Jakey, I didn’t lick you ’cause we didn’t find the money in
  Joe’s camp, but to pay you for not turnin’ it over to me when you
  found it.”

  “Be you goin’ to look in Tom Bigden’s camp for it?” inquired Jake.

  “I be,” replied Matt, who had already determined upon a very different
  course of action.

  “Well, you remember that Tom took away his blankets an’ every thing
  else when we was there, don’t you?” continued Jake. “That looked to me
  as though he was goin’ somewheres else to camp, or goin’ home. If you
  don’t find him nor the money nuther, then who you goin’ to lick?”

  “Yon needn’t worry about that,” said the squatter slowly, and in a
  tone which he meant to be very impressive. “If I don’t find the money
  the very first time tryin’, I’ll tumble onto the feller who knows
  where it is; you may be sure of that.”

  Sam grew frightened again, while Jake shut his teeth hard and said to
  himself:

  “That means me. But he won’t tumble onto me agin, I bet you, ’cause
  when he gets on t’other side the lake I won’t be within reach of him.
  I’m goin’ to do something that’ll make pap’s eyes bung out as big as
  your fist when he hears of it. I ain’t goin’ to be pounded for
  nothing, an’ that’s all about it.”

  “Yes,” continued Matt, who felt more confident of success now than at
  any other time during his search for the money. “I shall make a go of
  it by this hour to-morrer; you hear me? Jakey, you remember the old
  blanket Tom Bigden give us that I used fur a knapsack to carry our
  grub in, don’t you? Well, I dropped it when we was getting’ ready to
  make our rush on Joe’s camp. It’s up there in the woods about two
  hundred yards from here. Mind the place, don’t you? Well, go an’ get
  it.”

  “I’ll go,” said Jake to himself, “an’ it’ll be the last arrant I go on
  for one while, I bet you. What’s the use of me goin’ over on t’other
  side of the lake, when the men I want to see is on this side? I’ll go,
  but I won’t never come back. Pap ain’t goin’ to find that money, an’
  he ain’t goin’ to give me another lickin’ like he done to-day,
  nuther.”

  If Matt could have seen and interpreted the expression that Jake’s
  face wore as he crawled away in obedience to this order, he might have
  called him back and gone himself or sent Sam; but he was too busy
  filling his pipe to notice the boy, and besides it had never occurred
  to him that he could drive any of his family to rebellion. But he had
  done it, for Jake never came back to him. He seized the blanket when
  he found it, threw it over his shoulder, and struck out for Indian
  Lake.

  “He can go hungry for all I care,” muttered Jake, halting now and then
  and looking back to make sure he was not pursued. “He’ll go hungry
  many a time this winter, if the law don’t catch him, for that lazy Sam
  of our’n wouldn’t dare show his head out of camp after dark; so who’s
  goin’ to steal grub for him to eat?”

  Having determined upon this course, Jake held to it with surprising
  resolution, and his father and his brother waited long for his coming.
  At last Matt became angry at his unaccountable absence, but he never
  once suspected Jake’s fidelity.

  “Mebbe he’s gone an’ got himself ketched by them fellers,” suggested
  Sam.

  “More likely he’s gone an’ lost himself or missed the place where I
  left the blanket,” growled the squatter. “I do think we’d best be
  lookin’ into the matter.”

  “Well, go on, an’ I’ll stay here till you come back,” said Sam, with
  suppressed eagerness.

  “I don’t reckon that would be the best plan in the world,” answered
  Matt, who was not to be taken in by any such artifice. “Do you,
  Sammy?”

  “Then you stay an’ let me go.”

  “I don’t think that would be the best thing either, ’cause if you went
  alone them fellers might jump outen their camp an’ ketch you. We’ll
  both go, an’ then they can’t harm us, an’ we won’t get lost, nuther.”

  Sam was well enough acquainted with his father to know that the latter
  had had his suspicions aroused in some mysterious way, and he had
  suddenly hit upon a plan to outwit him. If he could separate himself
  from Matt for just five minutes he would put for the outlet at his
  best pace, induce one of the resident vagabonds to set him across, and
  then he would secure his treasure and go somewhere—anywhere—so long as
  he could hold fast to the money and be out of his father’s reach.
  Perhaps, on reflection, he might decide to give it up and claim the
  reward; but that was a matter that could be settled at some future
  time. Did the squatter suspect this little game? Whether he did or not
  he nipped it in the bud by giving Sam to understand that wherever one
  went the other would go also, and that there was to be no separation.

  “You see, Sammy,” said Matt, as he led the way toward the place where
  he had left the blanket, “if me an’ you stick together we won’t nuther
  get lost nor ketched, one or t’other of which has most likely happened
  to Jakey. ’Tain’t like him to stay away less’n he’s got some excuse
  for it.”

  “Aw! Jake ain’t ketched,” said Sam, who knew that the only thing he
  could do was to put a good face on the matter and bide his time. “If
  he was, wouldn’t we have heard him whoopin’? He’s lost; that’s what’s
  went with Jake.”

  “Well, if he is, he’s lost the grub as well as himself, ’cause there’s
  right where I left the blanket,” said Matt, pointing out the exact
  spot. “He won’t stay lost, for Jakey’s a master hand to find his way
  around in the woods. He’ll put for the outlet, most likely, an’
  there’s where we will go, too. You toddle on ahead an’ I’ll foller.”

  This meant that the squatter was resolved to keep Sam where he could
  see him, and the latter was careful to do nothing out of the ordinary.
  When it became too dark for them to continue their journey they
  lighted a fire and went supperless to bed, with nothing but the leaves
  for a mattress and the spreading branches of an evergreen for a
  covering. They slept, too, for Sam thought it wasn’t worth while to
  escape from his father’s control while they were so near the outlet.
  He could not get across before daylight, for the boats were all on the
  other side, and, more than that, Sam was too much of a coward to
  deliberately undertake a two-mile tramp through a piece of dark woods.
  It would be time enough for him to make a move when he was on the same
  side of the lake that the money was.

  Father and son resumed their journey at the first peep of day, and at
  breakfast time were standing on the bank of the outlet below the
  hatchery, signaling for a boat. The same accommodating vagabond who
  had ferried them across two days before responded to their hail, and
  showed a desire to pry deeper into their private affairs than Matt was
  willing he should go.

  “Jake’s gone off about his business, and if the old woman ain’t left
  camp she’s there yet,” growled the squatter, in reply to the
  ferryman’s eager questions. “I’ve got some things to tend to that I
  forgot about, an’ that’s why I come back. No; we won’t go into your
  house an’ get breakfast, but you can give us a bite to eat as we go
  along if you’re a mind to.”

  “Did you—you didn’t see any body lookin’ for you, I reckon?” said the
  ferryman at a venture. “Well, that’s queer. I’ve heard that there’s as
  many as a dozen or fifteen constables an’ guides follerin’ of you an
  Jakey.”

  “Which side the lake?” inquired Matt, anxiously.

  “This side—the one you’re jest leavin’.”

  This was something that was in Matt’s favor, but he little thought he
  had his friend the ferryman to thank for it. The latter had hung
  around the hatchery all the previous day, and made it his business to
  put every party of officers and guides who crossed the outlet on
  Matt’s trail, first stipulating for a small share of the reward in
  case the information he gave them led to the squatter’s arrest. But he
  had played squarely into Matt’s hands. The road that led to his camp
  was clear, and all he had to do was to keep a close watch upon Sam,
  who, for some reason or other, showed an almost uncontrollable desire
  to take to his heels. At last Matt became satisfied that that was just
  what the boy meant to do; and after they had left the hatchery out of
  sight, and were walking along the carry Indian file, munching the
  bread and meat the ferryman had given them, he came to the conclusion
  that it was time for him to put into operation the plan he had
  determined upon the day before. Suddenly thrusting what was left of
  his breakfast into his pocket, Matt took one long step forward and
  laid hold of Sam’s collar. As quick as thought the boy threw both arms
  behind him and jumped. His object was to leave his coat in his
  father’s grasp, and the only thing that prevented him from doing it
  was the fact that one of Matt’s long, muscular fingers had, by the
  merest accident, caught under the collar of Sam’s shirt. The collar
  stood the strain, Matt’s finger was too strong to be straightened out,
  and Sam was a prisoner.

  “Aha!” said the squatter, looking into the boy’s astonished face with
  grim good-humor. “You didn’t look for your old pap to be so cute, did
  you? Didn’t I give you fair warnin’ that a man who had spent the best
  years of his life in dodgin’ guides an’ constables wasn’t to be beat
  by his own boys? You’ve been mighty cunnin’, you an’ Jakey have, but
  I’m to the top of the heap now. See it, don’t you?”

  “What be you goin’ to do, pap?” inquired Sam, when he saw his sire put
  his disengaged hand into his pocket and draw forth the same stout cord
  that had once been used to confine Jake’s hands and feet. “I won’t run
  from you, an’ I’ll show you where it is, sure.”

  “Where what is?” demanded the squatter, who wanted to be sure that he
  had got upon the right track at last.

  “Where the valises is—the money.”

  “There now, you little snipe!” cried Matt, drawing back his heavy hand
  as if he had half a mind to let it fall with fall force upon the boy’s
  unprotected face. “Oughtn’t I to lick ye for makin’ me tramp
  twenty-four miles on a wild goose chase after that money, when you
  knowed where it was all the while? Dog-gone it! I’ve a good notion—”

  “What’s the use of r’arin’, pap?” interrupted Sam. “You never offered
  to go halvers with me, did you? That’s all I was waitin’ for. You’ll
  get it now, so what’s the use of gettin’ mad about it?”

  “You’re right I’ll have it now,” said Matt, as he proceeded to tie
  Sam’s hands behind his back. “You was kalkerlatin’ to show me where
  the money was soon’s I offered to go halvers with you, was you? Then
  what did you try to jump outen your jacket for when I grabbed you?”

  “’Cause I was afeared you’d lick me like you did Jake before I got a
  chance to talk to you. Don’t draw them ropes so tight. What you tyin’
  me for, anyway?”

  “So’t you can’t run away an’ leave me,” replied Matt. “I’ve seed the
  day when I could ketch you before you’d went ten foot, but I ain’t as
  young as I was then. You ain’t done fair by me. You’ve fooled me all
  along, you an’ Jakey have, ’an you might take it into your head to
  show me the wrong place. If you do, I won’t have to go fur to find
  you. Now tell me true: Did Jake hide the money in that there hole
  where he said he did?”

  Sam replied that Jake had told a straight story. He did hide the
  valises under the roots of the fallen poplar, but he (Sam) had taken
  them out and concealed them in another place.

  “There you be, tied hard an’ fast with one end of the rope, an’ I’ll
  jest hold the other end in my hand an’ be ready to jerk you flat if
  you try to run,” said Matt, when he had finished his task of confining
  Sam’s hands behind his back. “Now put out at your best licks, and go
  straight to the place where you hid them grip-sacks. What had you made
  up your decision to do with them six thousand?”

  “I was goin’ halvers with you an’ mam an’ Jake,” began Sam.

  “Aw! Shucks!” exclaimed Matt.

  “An’ then I was goin’ to buy some good clothes an’ things for myself.
  Now, pap, you’re goin’ to go halvers with me, ain’t you? An’ after you
  get it, you won’t lick me like you done Jake, will you?”

  “That’s a p’int that will take a heap of studyin’ before I can say
  what I’m goin’ to do,” replied Matt cautiously. “I ain’t seen the
  money yet. Show me that first, an’ then I’ll talk to you. I don’t
  reckon that you’ve disremembered where you put it, have you? ’Cause if
  you have—”

  The squatter did not think it necessary to finish the sentence. He
  stopped, took his ready knife from his pocket and looked around for a
  switch. This alarmed Sam, who made haste to assure his father that he
  had the bearings of the hiding-place of the valises firmly fixed in
  his memory, and that he could go to it without the least difficulty.

  “If you do that, you won’t get into no trouble with your pap,”
  answered Matt, winking at Sam, and then cutting down a hickory which
  he proceeded to trim very carefully. “But you an’ Jakey do have sich
  short memories sometimes that I’m afeared to trust you; so I’ll be on
  the safe side. If I find the money where you say you left it, I won’t
  say a word about the twenty-four mile tramp you made me take for
  nothing; but I’ll l’arn you that the next time you find six thousand
  dollars you had better bring it to me without no foolin’, instead of
  keepin’ it for your own use.”

  These words frightened Sam, who saw very plainly that he need not hope
  to escape without a whipping, even if his father found the money. And
  if he didn’t find it, if some one had been there during his absence
  and stolen the valises from him, as he had stolen them from Jake, then
  what would happen? Sam thought of his brother’s battered countenance
  and shuddered. Keeping his gaze fixed upon his father’s face, he moved
  his arms up and down, and discovered that they were not as tightly
  bound as he had supposed. In fact, Sam told himself that if his father
  would go away and leave him alone for two minutes he would not find
  him when he returned.

  “How do you like the looks of that, Sammy?” said Matt, shutting up his
  knife and giving the switch a vicious cut in the air. “It’s mighty
  onhandy an’ disagreeable to be a pap sometimes, leastwise when you’ve
  got two sich ongrateful boys for sons as you an’ Jakey be. This is all
  your own doin’s an’ not mine.”

  “I’ll never do it ag’in,” whined Sam, who wasn’t half as badly
  frightened now as he was before he found that he could move his hands.
  “The next time I find six thousand dollars layin’ around loose in the
  woods I’ll bring it to you; the very minute I find it, too.”

  “Then you’ll be doin’ jest right an’ I won’t switch you. Now we’re all
  ready an’ you can toddle on agin. I hope them valises ain’t a very fur
  ways from here, ’cause I’m in a monstrous hurry to handle the money
  that’s into ’em.”

  So saying the squatter picked up the free end of the rope and followed
  Sam as if he were a blind man, and Sam the dog that was leading him.
  He must have been pretty near blind, or else he did not make the good
  use of his eyes he generally did, for he surely ought to have seen
  that the cord that encircled the boy’s wrists was very slack, and that
  it would have fallen to the ground if Sam had not kept his arms spread
  out to hold it in place. After two miles had been passed over in this
  way, Sam stopped in front of the evergreen in which he had placed the
  valises. The big drops of perspiration that stood on his forehead had
  not been brought out by the heat, but by the mental strain to which he
  was subjected. From the bottom of his heart Sam wished he knew what
  was going to happen during the next two minutes.

  “Why don’t you go on?” Matt demanded.

  “Here we be,” answered Sam, faintly. “Look in that tree an’ you’ll
  find ’em if somebody ain’t took ’em out.”

  “Whoop!” yelled Matt, knocking his heels together and making the
  switch whistle around his head. “Took ’em out? Sam, do you know what
  them few words mean to you? If any body has took ’em out I’m sorry for
  you. Did you say the valises was in the tree?”

  “Yes. I tied ’em fast among the branches so’t the wind wouldn’t shake
  ’em out. Go round on t’other side, stick your head into the tree an’
  you’ll find ’em.”

  Trembling in every limb with excitement, the squatter dropped the
  rope, placed his rifle and Sam’s carefully against a neighboring tree,
  and disappeared behind the evergreen. The instant he was out of sight
  Sam brought his wrists close together, and the rope with which he was
  confined fell to the ground.

  “I’ll show pap whether or not I am goin’ to stay here an’ take sich a
  lickin’ as he give Jakey,” thought Sam, as he wheeled about and
  reached for his rifle. “I wish I dast p’int this we’pon at his head
  an’ make him go halvers with me if he finds it. But shucks! What’s the
  use? He’d steal it from me the first good chance he got, an’ then I
  wouldn’t have none an’ he would have it all. I’ll do wusser’n that for
  him,” muttered Sam, as he moved away from the evergreen with long,
  noiseless strides. “I’ll hunt up old man Swan an’ tell him that if
  he’ll go snucks with me on the reward I’ll show him where pap is.
  There, sir! I do think in my soul he’s found it.”

  These words were called forth by a dismal noise, something between a
  howl and a wail, that arose behind him. Sam had often heard it and he
  knew the meaning of it. Sure enough his father had found one of the
  valises. He seized it with eager hands, tore it loose from its
  fastenings, and dropped it to the ground. It was broken open by the
  fall, and gold and silver pieces were scattered over the leaves in
  great profusion. For a moment Matt gazed as if he were fascinated;
  then he fell upon his knees among them and began throwing them back
  into the valise, at the same time setting up a yelp that could have
  been heard a mile away.

  “Luck has come my way at last,” said he, gleefully. “Sam, I won’t lick
  you, but I must do a pap’s dooty by you an’ punish you in some way for
  not bringin’ it to me the minute you got hold of it, so I’ll keep it
  all an’ you shan’t have none of it. Sam, why don’t you come around
  here an’ listen to your pap?”

  But Matt didn’t care much whether Sam showed himself or not, he was so
  deeply interested in the contents of the valise. After carefully
  picking up every coin that had fallen out of it, he gathered the
  shining pieces up by handfuls and let them run back, all the while
  gloating over them as a miser gloats over his hoard. When he had
  somewhat recovered himself he jumped to his feet and dived into the
  tree after the other valise. He found it after a short search, and
  placed it on the ground beside its fellow.

  “Whew!” panted Matt, pulling off his hat and wiping his dripping
  forehead with his shirt-sleeve. “It’s mine at last, an’ I’m as rich as
  Adam was (I disremember his other name), but I have heard that he had
  the whole ’arth an’ all the money an’ watches an’ good clothes an’
  every thing else in it for his own. I ain’t got that much, but I’ve
  got enough so’t I won’t have to work so hard nor go ragged no more.
  Say, Sam, come around an’ take a peep at it an’ see what you might
  have had if you’d only been a good an’ dutiful son. Sam! Where’s that
  Sam of our’n gone, I wonder.”

  And Matt’s wonder increased when he walked around the tree and found
  that the boy was nowhere in sight. There lay the cord with which his
  arms had been bound, but Sam was missing and so was his rifle. That
  made the whole thing clear to Matt’s comprehension.

  “The ongrateful an’ ondutiful scamp!” cried the squatter, angrily.
  “This is another thing that I owe him a lickin’ for—runnin’ away from
  his pap. He’ll get it good an’ strong when he comes home, I bet you,
  an’ so will Jakey. Whoop! I’m boss of this house, an’ I don’t want
  none on you to disremember it. Now, what shall I do with my money so’t
  I can keep it safe? I reckon I’d best hunt up the ole woman an’ ask
  her what she thinks about it.”

  So saying the squatter took his rifle under his arm, seized a valise
  in each hand, and set out for the cove.

[Illustration: MATT DISCOVERS THE LOST MONEY AT LAST.]



                              CHAPTER XVI.
                      AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER.


  Matt Coyle would have been utterly confounded if he had known, or even
  suspected, how completely his family had been broken up by the events
  of the last few days. He labored under the delusion that Jake and Sam
  had run away simply to escape the punishment they so richly deserved;
  but they had only made a bad matter worse, Matt told himself, for they
  would be obliged to return sooner or later, and then they might rest
  assured the promised whipping would be administered with added
  severity. But Jake and Sam had gone away with the intention of staying
  away. They were afraid of their brute of a father, and the cold chills
  crept all over them whenever they thought of the New London jail. They
  could not see the justice of being beaten or locked up for something
  they did not do, and the only recourse they had was to go to those
  whom they had been taught to regard as their enemies—the guides and
  the officers of the law. With the exception of his wife, the
  squatter’s family had all turned against him. Her he found dozing over
  a fire on the bank of a cove. Without saying a word Matt walked up and
  showed her the valises.

  “What’s them, an’ where’s the boys?” she drowsily asked.

  “Now listen at the fule!” shouted Matt. “Ain’t you got a pair of eyes?
  Them’s the six thousand dollars that’s been a-botherin’ of us so long,
  an’ the boys have run off to get outen the lickin’ I promised ’em. But
  they’ll come back when they get good an’ hungry, an’ then I’ll have my
  satisfaction on ’em. You’ve got a little bacon an’ a few taters left,
  I reckon, ain’t you? Well, dish ’em up, an’ I’ll tell you where I’ve
  been an’ what a-doin’ since I seen you last.”

  The dinner his wife was able to place before him did not by any means
  satisfy the cravings of Matt’s hunger, and when it had been disposed
  of there was not a morsel of any thing eatable left in the camp; and,
  worse than that, Jake was missing, and there was nobody to steal
  another supply. Matt talked as he ate, and by the time he was ready
  for his pipe he had given his wife a pretty full history of his
  movements during the last two days.

  “This ain’t a safe country no longer after me tyin’ Joe Wayring fast
  to a tree an’ promisin’ to lick him if he didn’t tell me where the
  money was,” said the squatter in conclusion. “He never had the money,
  Joe didn’t; Sam knew where it was all the while an’ never told me. But
  Joe won’t be nonetheless mad at me, an’ I reckon I’d best be lookin’
  for new quarters for a while. I’m goin’ to take the money an’ skip
  out. I do wish in my soul I had a boat. I’d run a’most any risk to get
  one.”

  “Where would you go?”

  “I’ll tell you,” replied Matt confidentially. “I’ve been studyin’ it
  over as I come along, an’ have made up my decision that I’d be safer
  if I was onto their trail ’stead of havin’ them on mine; so I’ll put
  as straight for Sherwin’s Pond as I can go an’ stay there till the
  thing has kinder blowed over.”

  “An’ what’ll I do?” inquired the old woman.

  “You? Oh, you ain’t done nothin’ that the law can tech you for, an’
  you had better hang around Rube’s an’ get your grub of him. You can
  pay him for it by slickin’ up his house an’ washin’ dishes for him,
  you know.”

  “What’s the reason I can’t have some of the six thousand to pay him
  with?”

  “Now listen at you!” vociferated Matt. “Don’t you know that if you
  should offer him money he would know in a minute that you had seen the
  six thousand an’ have you took up for it? I tell you, ole woman,”
  added the squatter, who was resolved to hold fast to every dollar of
  his ill-gotten gains as long as he could, “my way is the best; an’ if
  you ain’t willin’ to it, you can jest look out for yourself. Now I’m
  off. I’ll be back directly the thing has kinder died down, like I told
  you, an’ then we’ll put out for some place where we can spend our
  money an’ live like folks. Jakey an’ Sam’ll be back in a day or two,
  to-night, mebbe, an’ they’ll look out for you.”

  The old woman did not say anything more, for she knew that it would be
  useless. She lazily smoked her pipe while Matt fastened the valises
  together and slung them over his shoulder as he would a knapsack, said
  “so-long” in a drawling, indifferent tone, and saw him disappear in
  the bushes.

  “For the first time in my life I feel like I was a free man,”
  soliloquized the squatter, as he lumbered away through the woods. “I
  ain’t a-goin’ to be bothered any more wonderin’ where Jakey is to get
  a new pair of shoes ag’in snow comes, or how I’m to wiggle an’ twist
  to find Sam a new coat, or ask myself whether or not the old woman’s
  got bacon an’ taters enough for breakfast. Rube’ll take care of her,
  ’cause he’ll suspicion right away that I’ve got the money an’ that
  I’ll be sure to come back to her some day. I’ll take care of myself;
  an’ as for the boys—I won’t think two times about them ongrateful
  scamps. They tried their best to cheat me outen my shar’ of this
  money, an’ now I’ll see how much they’ll get.”

  The squatter continued to talk to himself in this style during the
  three hours he consumed in reaching the “old perch hole” at the mouth
  of the creek, which must be crossed in some way before Matt could
  fairly begin his journey to Sherwin’s Pond. What he was going to do or
  how he was going to live after he got there, seeing that there were no
  farmers in the immediate neighborhood upon whom he could forage, Matt
  had not yet decided; but when he found his progress stopped by the
  creek he told himself that he might as well rest a bit and smoke a
  pipe or two while he thought about it. He hunted up a log and seated
  himself upon it, but almost instantly jumped to his feet and dived
  into the bushes. It was at that very moment that our party came into
  the creek. By “our party” I mean Joe Wayring, Arthur Hastings, and Roy
  Sheldon in the skiff, and Mr. Swan, whose canoe was towing behind. As
  I have before stated, I occupied my usual place on the skiff’s stern
  locker, where I could see every thing that went on and hear all that
  was said. On this occasion I saw more than any one else did. I had a
  fair view of the valises on Matt’s back as they were disappearing in
  the thicket, but I can’t imagine how they escaped the observation of
  the sharp-eyed guide who sat facing the direction in which the boats
  were moving. I afterward learned that Matt heard Mr. Swan’s voice when
  he cautioned the boys to speak in a low tone, and be careful how they
  allowed their oars to rattle in the rowlocks, and I know that when he
  cast off from the skiff and led the way up the creak the squatter
  stole silently through the woods and kept pace with him.

  “That was a close shave, wasn’t it?” chuckled Matt, peeping through
  the leaves to mark the position of the boats in the creek and then
  dodging back again. “A little more an’ they’d have ketched me,
  wouldn’t they? Now, what did they come in here for, an’ where be they
  goin’, do you reckon? I’d most be willin’ to say that I’d give a
  hundred dollars of this money if I had one of them boats of their’n.
  Then I could go all the way to the pond without walkin’ a step. I’ll
  jest toddle along with ’em an’ see what they’re up to; an’ if they
  leave them boats alone for a minute they won’t find ’em ag’in in a
  hurry.”

  The boats moved so slowly and the creek was so crooked that the
  squatter had no difficulty in keeping up with us. Indeed, he often
  gained half a mile or more by running across the points while we went
  around them. I have already told you what Mr. Swan and the boys did
  when they reached the mouth of the little stream that led from the
  creek to the cove. They found the camp deserted, as I have recorded,
  the old woman having set out for Rube’s house very shortly after Matt
  left her alone; and when they came back to the creek, intending to go
  into camp there, they found their boats gone.

  I thought all along that Matt was following us up the creek, for if I
  had not caught two distinct views of his evil face peering through the
  bushes I had certainly seen something that looked very much like it.
  All doubts on this point were dispelled from my mind before Joe
  Wayring and his companions had been gone five minutes. While they were
  moving through the evergreens to surround the camp, as the guide had
  directed, Matt Coyle came out and showed himself. The celerity with
  which that vagabond worked surprised me. He had made up his mind what
  he would do, and he did it without the loss of a second. He made the
  painter of Mr. Swan’s canoe fast to a ringbolt in the stern of the
  skiff and shoved it away from the bank. Then he pushed off the skiff,
  stepped in as soon as it was fairly afloat, and headed it down the
  stream, using one of the oars as a paddle. Presently the current took
  us in its grasp and hurried us along at such a rate that we were
  around the first point before I fairly comprehended the situation.
  This was the second time, to my knowledge, that the cunning squatter
  had executed a very neat flank movement upon Mr. Swan and his party.
  Matt must have thought of it, for I heard him say,

  “That’s two times I’ve got the better of you when you reckoned you had
  me cornered, ain’t it? Whoop-pee! Luck’s comin’ my way ag’in, sure
  enough. Now I’m all right. I’ll take Jake’s old canvas canoe, if I can
  make out to put him together, ’cause he’s light to handle an’ won’t
  bother me none if I have to take to the bresh. The other boats I’ll
  hide so’t nobody won’t never find ’em ag’in. But first I’ll hunt me a
  good quiet place an’ have a tuck-out. There’s grub an’ coffee an’
  sugar an’ sich in the lockers of this skiff, an’ I’m hungry for some
  of it.”

  The country about was full of little waterways, and Matt, being
  perfectly familiar with every one of them, had no trouble in finding
  the “quiet place” he sought. He paddled over to the farther side of
  the creek, kept along close to the bank for a mile or so, and then
  pushed the skiff into the bushes. The overhanging branches shut out
  every ray of light, and it was so dark that I could not see what sort
  of a place we had got into even when we stopped; but I heard the
  squatter moving around on the bank, and saw by the aid of a match
  which he struck on his coat-sleeve that he was lighting a fire. When
  the dry leaves and sticks he had gathered in the dark blazed up, I
  could see nothing but a solid mass of hemlock boughs above, and other
  masses, equally impervious to light, on all sides of me. It was a
  better hiding-place than the cove, and the squatter went on building a
  roaring fire, knowing full well that the blaze could not be seen from
  the other side of the creek where the discomfited guide and his
  puzzled young allies were standing, wondering what had become of their
  boats.

  Having gathered wood enough to keep the fire going as long as he had
  use for it, Matt drew the bow of the skiff high upon the bank and
  proceeded to overhaul the lockers. With a contemptuous grunt he caught
  up Fly-rod, who was lying on the locker beside me, and tossed him into
  the bushes. A second later he sent Arthur’s rod and Roy’s to keep him
  company. The cartridges, which were intended for the boys’
  double-barrel shot-guns, and which he could not use in his old
  muzzle-loader, Matt incontinently dumped overboard; also the lemons,
  three gun cases, and as many portfolios filled with writing materials;
  but the pocket hunting knives and one double-bladed camp ax he laid
  aside for his own use. At last he came to the articles he was looking
  for—half a side of bacon, a whole johnny-cake, two canisters
  containing tea and coffee, another filled with sugar, and about half a
  peck of potatoes. He felt in every corner of the lockers in the hope
  of finding a supply of smoking tobacco; but that was something that
  never found a place in Joe Wayring’s outfit.

  Having provided himself with an excellent supper, Matt went ashore to
  cook it. First he opened the valises and placed them where he could
  feast his eyes upon their contents, and then he cut off several slices
  of bacon which he proceeded to broil with the aid of a forked stick.
  For a platter he used a piece of bark; and every time he put a slice
  of the meat upon it he would grab a handful of coins from one of the
  valises and allow them to run slowly through his fingers, laughing the
  while and shaking his head as if he were thinking about something that
  afforded him the greatest gratification. He spent an hour over the
  meal, then replenished the fire and laid down for a nap, covering
  himself with Roy Sheldon’s warm blankets. When he awoke he cooked and
  ate another hearty supper, shook himself together, and declared that
  he felt better and in just the right humor to begin his lonely journey
  to Sherwin’s Pond.

  His first task was to put me together; and to my surprise and disgust
  he accomplished it with very little trouble. Then, in order to make
  sure that he had not overlooked any thing that he could use, he gave
  the skiff a second examination, and took possession of all Mr. Swan’s
  provisions. Every other article belonging to the rightful owners of
  the boats he dropped overboard or flung into the bushes.

  “Mebbe they’ll find ’em ag’in some day an’ mebbe they won’t,” muttered
  the squatter, as he extinguished the fire preparatory to shoving off
  in the canvas canoe. “But if they do it will be long after I am safe
  outen their reach. They’ll never think of lookin’ for me so nigh Mount
  Airy as Sherwin’s Pond is, an’ there I’ll hide as snug as a bug in a
  rug till my grub’s gone, an’ then—why, then I’ll have to steal more,
  that’s all.”

  In a few minutes Matt had pushed the canvas canoe through the bushes
  into the creek, and was plying the double paddle with sturdy strokes.
  He could travel in the dark as well as by the light of the sun, and he
  did not go a furlong out of his course during the whole of the
  journey. Neither did he have a pleasant time of it. From the hour we
  started to the time we arrived within sight of Sherwin’s Pond the rain
  fell in torrents. This was a point in Matt’s favor, for it was not
  likely that sportsmen or tourists would venture abroad in such weather
  unless necessity compelled them; but the unusually high water that
  came with the rain was to his disadvantage. Indian River ran like a
  mill-sluice, and the current, strong at all times, became so turbulent
  and powerful, and its surface was so thickly covered with driftwood
  and trees that had been floated out of the lowlands, that canoe
  voyaging was not only difficult but dangerous as well. On one occasion
  I barely escaped being stove all to pieces. This frightened the
  squatter so that he gave up traveling by night, and took to the water
  only when he could see where he was going and what obstacles he had to
  encounter. More than that, he converted the stolen blankets into bags,
  put the cargo as well as the valises into them, and lashed them fast
  so that they would not spill out in case I were overturned by any of
  the floating _débris_. But that was a bad thing for Matt to do, as I
  shall presently show you.

  The sight that met my gaze when we came where we could see Sherwin’s
  Pond was one I never shall forget. That little body of water had a way
  of getting ugly upon the slightest provocation, but I never saw it in
  so angry a mood as it was on this particular day. It was filled with
  currents which were running in every direction; at least that was what
  I thought after I had watched the erratic movements of the logs and
  stumps that were swimming on its surface. Its numerous inlets had
  filled the pond more rapidly than its single outlet could relieve it;
  consequently the pond looked higher than the river, and going into it
  was like going up hill. Joe Wayring, fearless and skillful canoeist
  that he was, would have thought twice before attempting to go any
  farther; but Matt had grown reckless, having journeyed nearly a
  hundred miles without a ducking, and all he did was to hug the bank a
  little closer and put more strength into his strokes with the double
  paddle. He got along well enough until he came to the place where the
  mouth of the river widened into the pond, and then came the very
  disaster I had been looking for. Before Matt could tell what his name
  was, the current seized me and whirled me out into the middle of the
  stream as if I had been a feather, sending me there, too, just in time
  to receive the full force of a terrific blow from the roots of a heavy
  tree which came rushing along with the torrent. Nothing that was ever
  made of water-proof canvas could remain afloat after a collision like
  that. I rolled over and began filling on the instant; and while the
  eddies were whirling me about, and the gnarled and ragged roots of the
  tree were enlarging the hole that had been torn in my side, and I was
  sinking deeper and deeper into the water, I heard Matt Coyle utter one
  feeble, despairing cry for help, saw him make a frantic grasp at the
  slippery trunk of the tree as it swept by, and then I settled quietly
  down to the bottom of the river, taking the blanket-bags and their
  contents with me. This, thought I, is the end of every thing with me.
  I had expected and hoped to go to pieces in the service, but not in
  the service of such a fellow as Matt Coyle, who had undoubtedly made
  way with himself as well as me, while trying to do a most foolhardy
  thing. There was not one chance in a thousand that I would ever be
  found, or that the Irvington bank would ever learn what had become of
  its money. When Joe Wayring and his friends went home they might pass
  directly over me, and I would have no power to attract their
  attention. I knew Joe would miss me sometimes, but I wasn’t so
  conceited as to think that he could not get another canoe that would
  more than fill my place. I thought of these things, and then I asked
  myself what had become of Matt Coyle. If he were a strong swimmer he
  might succeed in making a landing after the current had carried him a
  mile or so down the river, provided he could keep out of the way of
  the driftwood. One thing I was sure of. He would never find me or the
  money, either. Neither would any body else. If the squatter got ashore
  I did not see how he was going to live, for the rifle on which he
  depended principally to supply his larder during the winter was tied
  fast to my ribs. If he succeeded in evading the officers of the law,
  he would have to go to work. I didn’t see any other way for him to do.

  While I was lying peacefully in my bed at the bottom of the river,
  wondering how long it would be before the never-ceasing friction of
  the current would annihilate me utterly, some events that have a
  slight bearing upon my story were happening in the world above.



                             CHAPTER XVII.
                          THE EXPERT COLUMBIA.


  “Stand perfectly still, boys,” said Mr. Swan, when he and his young
  friends halted on the bank of the creek and discovered that their
  boats had vanished during their brief absence. “Stand still, or you’ll
  muss the ground up so that I can’t see the villain’s tracks.”

  “You don’t think they have been stolen, do you?” exclaimed Arthur
  Hastings.

  “I don’t think nothing else,” answered the guide. “I’ve handled a boat
  too long to go away and leave it without pulling it so far out on the
  bank that the current can’t carry it off. I’ve noticed that you are
  middling particular about that, too. Of course our boats were stolen.
  It’s one of Matt Coyle’s tricks.”

  “Well, I _am_ beat!” cried Joe.

  “And under our very noses, too,” exclaimed Roy.

  “It isn’t quite as bad as that, but it’s bad enough,” said Mr. Swan,
  who was angry as well as surprised. “This is the second time he has
  played this game on us, and I don’t see why I didn’t tell one of you
  to stay here.”

  While the guide talked he scraped a few dry leaves and twigs together
  and touched them off with a match. When they blazed up more fuel was
  thrown on, and presently Roy pointed out something. It was the print
  of a big foot in the mud close to the water’s edge.

  “What better evidence do you want than that?” said Mr. Swan. “Matt
  Coyle is the only man about Indian Lake who wears such a shabby
  foot-gear and the only one who lugs a hoof of that size around with
  him. I know, for I have followed his trail plenty of times.”

  “Then he must have been the one who kindled that fire.”

  “It’s very likely.”

  “He may have been intending to camp there for the night when we
  frightened him away,” added Arthur.

  “He may have been in camp,” assented the guide, “but we never
  frightened him. He had wind of our coming long before we got here. Of
  course I don’t know how he got it, but that’s the way the thing
  stands.”

  “Well, what’s to be done?”

  “Nothing at all to-night. We’ll camp right where we are, and at
  daylight we’ll go back to the hatchery.”

  “Camp right here,” repeated Joe, dolefully. “No blankets, no supper to
  eat, and no nothing.”

  “Go back to the hatchery,” murmured Roy, “and confess ourselves beaten
  again by that villain, Matt Coyle. Oh, we’re the best kind of fellows
  to go on a hunt after so cunning a criminal as Matt, ain’t we?”

  Arthur Hastings was too angry to say any thing except that he was glad
  the squatter had not run away with his gun as well as his skiff. Mr.
  Swan was equally glad to have his beloved brier-root and a plentiful
  supply of smoking tobacco in his pocket. If he had left them in his
  canoe, as he usually did, he would have had the prospect of a
  miserable night before him. As it was, he smoked and told stories, and
  in listening to them the boys forgot that they had no blankets to
  cover them, and that they would not find a bite to eat till they
  reached the hatchery the next day.

  When morning came Joe and his friends had nothing to do but brush the
  leaves from their clothes, smooth their hair with their hands, perform
  their ablutions in the creek, and then they were ready for their
  ten-mile walk. Mr. Swan spent a few minutes in looking about Matt’s
  old camp, but did not find any thing to tell him how long it had been
  deserted or which way the squatter and his family had gone. They
  arrived at the hatchery tired and hungry, and the bountiful breakfast
  the superintendent placed before them was a tempting sight. That
  official laughed when he heard how Matt had stolen up behind them and
  run off with their boats, and scowled when Roy told him what he and
  his boys had done in their camp at No-Man’s Pond.

  “Why, what in the world could have put it into Matt’s head that you
  had the money?” inquired the superintendent; and without waiting for
  an answer he continued: “It beats the world where that money has gone,
  but I think we’ll soon get on the track of it. Did you see the
  watchman as you came by his shanty? Then perhaps you don’t know that
  the old woman was taken into custody last night?”

  “No,” replied Joe. “We hadn’t heard of that. What’s the charge?”

  “Oh, she was taken in on general principles. I don’t suppose she can
  be held as an accessory, for she hasn’t gumption enough to suggest or
  plan the robberies that her worthy husband has committed; but she knew
  all about them and can give the officers more help than any body else.
  You see, ever since Matt and his family left Rube’s cabin, the deputy
  sheriff has taken to sleeping there; and last night who should come
  poking along but the old woman! When she found that she was a
  prisoner, she lost heart and answered all the questions the sheriff
  asked her. She didn’t have the pluck to stand out, and I don’t wonder
  at it. She looked as though she was almost starved. She ate more grub
  than you four are going to eat, judging by the way Joe is backing away
  from the table already.”

  “That’s good news,” said Mr. Swan. “Where’s Matt now?”

  “On his way to Sherwin’s Pond.”

  “I wonder if that’s so, or whether the old woman just made it up.”

  “I am not sure about that, and neither was the sheriff. I loaned him a
  boat and a couple of my men, and he’s gone up to Indian Lake with the
  woman. From there he will take her to Irvington. He says she will have
  to stand her trial with the rest of the family.”

  “I don’t believe that Matt went to Sherwin’s Pond,” said Joe, after
  thinking the matter over. “He would be in more danger there than he
  would if he stayed here. The old woman told that story to throw the
  sheriff off the track.”

  “Mebbe not,” replied the guide. “Don’t we know by experience that the
  squatter is a master hand to slip around and operate in the rear of
  his pursuers? What more natural than he should run up to the pond to
  get behind us, thinking he would be safer there than in the Indian
  Lake country? At any rate, there’s where I am going as soon as I can
  get a boat.”

  “All right,” said Joe. “Any thing to keep busy.”

  “But if I was in your place I wouldn’t go there just yet,” added the
  guide. “You want your boat and the other things Matt stole, don’t you?
  Well, then, hire a boat of Hanson, go up the creek, explore every
  little stream that runs into it on the right hand side as you go up,
  and you will find some of them. You won’t find all, of course, for
  Matt kept one of the boats, all the provisions, and every thing else
  that would be of use to him. After you have done that, you can come up
  to the pond, and you’ll be sure to find me and some of the boys there.
  That would be my plan.”

  A very good plan it was, too, the boys told one another, and they
  decided to adopt it. After the superintendent had set them across the
  outlet, they made the best of their way toward Indian Lake, where Mr.
  Swan said they would sleep that night. The first persons they saw,
  when they entered the hotel and approached the clerk’s desk to ask if
  they could hire a skiff for a few days, were Jake and Sam Coyle. But
  they were not as ragged and dirty as usual. Their faces had been
  washed, their hair combed, and somebody had given them whole suits of
  clothes.

  “Where did you catch them?” inquired Roy.

  “Right here in front of the house,” answered the clerk. “They came in
  and gave themselves up.” And then he went on to tell their story
  pretty nearly as I have told it. For once in their lives Jake and Sam
  had told the truth, and the sheriff knew whom he must find in order to
  recover the money. Of course the boys did not know where their father
  had gone, but the officer put implicit faith in the old woman’s story.

  “There’s where we’ve got to go, Swan,” said the sheriff, “and there’s
  where we shall find our man, if we find him at all. I have engaged
  four unemployed guides to go with me, and you will be a big addition
  to our party. Joe and his friends—”

  “They ain’t going,” said Mr. Swan; and then he told _his_ story,
  whereat the sheriff laughed uproariously.

  “But you are not to blame,” said he, consolingly. “Matt would have
  played the same game on any body else. But he’s got to the end of his
  rope now, for I know just what I have to work on. Don’t neglect to lay
  in a good supply of provisions, for it may take us two or three weeks
  to catch him, and I am not coming back without him.”

  Bright and early the next morning two parties left the Sportsman’s
  Home and started away in different directions, the sheriff and his
  posse heading for Indian River, and Joe and his friends striking for
  the “old perch-hole.” They followed Mr. Swan’s advice to the letter,
  and slept that night in the same camp that the squatter had occupied
  two nights before. They found the most of their things, too, some in
  the bushes, some floating in the creek, and the heavy articles, like
  the two extra camp-axes and superfluous dishes, at the bottom of it.

  “Joe’s unlucky canoe is gone again, and so are our blankets and all
  our grub,” said Roy,

  “The possession of the six thousand dollars must have made Matt
  good-natured, or he would have smashed our boats before he left.”

  “Perhaps he didn’t think it best to waste time on them,” said Arthur.
  “He might have broken them up in a few minutes with the axes, but we
  might have heard him. The cove isn’t so very far from here.”

  Having recovered the most of their property the boys became impatient
  to join the sheriff’s posse; but they were not well enough acquainted
  with the country to make the journey to Indian Lake in the dark. So
  they built a cheerful fire, cooked a good supper and finally went to
  sleep wrapped in the new blankets they had purchased to take the place
  of those Matt Coyle had carried off. Two days later they had returned
  Mr. Hanson’s boat in good order, settled their bills at the hotel,
  placed Mr. Swan’s canoe under cover, and were on the way to the pond
  in their own skiff. They grumbled at the rain, as the squatter had
  done when he passed that way a few hours in advance of them, and did
  most of the rowing with the awning up and their rubber coats and hats
  on. After they had made about fifty miles up the river they began
  telling one another that if the sheriff had gone on to Sherwin’s Pond
  he had made a mistake.

  “Just see how the current runs,” said Joe, as he tugged at his oar.
  “Matt, strong as he is, never could have forced the canvas canoe
  against it. He’s camped somewhere, waiting for better weather, and we
  are getting ahead of him.”

  The other boys thought so, too, but as they could not tell what else
  they ought to do they kept on; but they did not attempt to run out of
  the river into the pond. As Arthur said, “it looked too pokerish.” The
  rain had ceased, but the water was still high, the driftwood was
  coming down in great rafts, and the current was so strong that they
  could not stem it with their three oars. There was nothing for it but
  to tie up to the bank in some sheltered spot, set the tent, get their
  stove going to drive the dampness out of it, and make themselves
  miserable until the water fell. As for hunting up Mr. Swan and his
  party, that was out of the question. The boys knew by experience that
  there was no fun in traveling through a piece of thick woods when
  every thing was dripping wet. Their quarters, although a little
  cramped, were dry, warm, and comfortable; they had an abundance of
  provisions in the lockers, and if it had not been for their impatience
  to be doing something to aid in the search they might have enjoyed
  themselves. On the morning of the third day of their forced
  inactivity, they were surprised to hear a hail close at hand. They
  looked out and saw a boat with two Mount Airy constables just coming
  out of the pond into the river.

  “Well, well,” said one of them, as they came alongside the skiff and
  laid hold of the gunwale to keep themselves stationary while they
  talked to the boys. “You have had a time of it, haven’t you?”

  “Seen any thing of Mr. Swan and the sheriff and the rest of them?”
  asked Arthur, in reply.

  “No. Are they in this part of the country?”

  “Here’s where they started for. But if you haven’t seen them how do
  you know that we have had a time of it? You have not been to Indian
  Lake this summer, have you?”

  “No; but we’ve read the papers.”

  “The papers?” echoed Joe.

  “Yes. The New London _Times_ is full of it. It told how Matt Coyle
  tied Joe to a tree and threatened him if he—”

  “I wouldn’t have had my mother hear of it for any thing,” interrupted
  Joe. “Of course it worried her.”

  “Well, rather; but your father’s mad and so is your uncle Joe. They’ve
  offered a thousand dollars apiece for Matt Coyle’s apprehension, and
  that’s what brought us out here in the rain.”

  “What brought the sheriff up here, any way?” said the other officer.
  “Where is he now?”

  Roy Sheldon, who generally acted as spokesman, replied by relating a
  long and interesting story, saying in conclusion that he didn’t know
  where the sheriff was, but he and a posse had come to Sherwin’s Pond
  because Matt had come there, believing it to be the safest place for
  him. His wife said so.

  “Mebbe she did, but that was a blind,” replied the officer. “Three
  boat-loads of us have been out in all the rain, scouring the country
  high and low, and not the first sign of any body did we see. Swan and
  his crowd must have gone way up some of the creeks, or else we should
  have met them.”

  “Didn’t the papers say that my friends rescued me from the squatter’s
  clutches?” inquired Joe.

  “Of course they did, but that didn’t make your folks feel any easier
  about you. They’ll worry till they see you among them safe and sound.”

  “Boys,” said Joe, decidedly, “I’m going home; but you needn’t go. You
  want to see Matt caught, and I’d like to; but I must go to mother as
  soon as I can. If you will set me on the other side of the creek I
  will start without a moment’s delay.”

  “Not much we won’t put you on the other side of the creek and leave
  you to walk twenty-five miles through the wet woods alone,” answered
  Arthur. “You ought to go; I can see that plain enough; so we’ll all
  go.”

  “I think you ought,” said the constable. “Your folks will all be
  uneasy till they see you. They think you and Matt are still in the
  Indian Lake country, and are afraid he will do some harm to you.”

  That settled the matter. After a little more conversation the officers
  went back into the pond to see if they could find any signs of the
  sheriff and his posse, while the boys cast off the lines that held the
  skiff to the bank and headed her down the creek. They must make a
  journey of seventy-five miles in order to get above the rapids that
  lay between Mirror Lake and Sherwin’s Pond. The narrow streams they
  followed were so difficult of navigation, and the various currents
  they encountered were so strong, that it took them four days to
  accomplish it; but the sight of Mirror Lake, with all its familiar
  surroundings, amply repaid them for their toil.

  Of course they went to Joe’s home first, for he was the one who had
  been tied to the tree and for whose safety the Mount Airy people were
  mostly concerned. If they had been fresh from a battle-field they
  could scarcely have met a warmer greeting than that which was extended
  to them when they walked into Mrs. Wayring’s presence and Uncle Joe’s.
  The former, in spite of their protests, insisted on making heroes of
  them.

  “Well,” said Uncle Joe, when he had listened to a hurried description
  of their various adventures, “I don’t suppose you were at all
  disappointed when you found that I could not take you on that trip
  that we had been talking about for a year or more?”

  “Oh, yes, we were,” exclaimed Joe. “But we couldn’t think of spending
  more than half the vacation in doing nothing, and that was the reason
  we went back to Indian Lake.”

  Leaving Roy and Arthur in conversation with his relatives, Joe
  Wayring, who had been taught to take care of his things as soon as he
  was done using them, took his gun under one arm and Fly-rod under the
  other and went up to his room. A few minutes afterward the boys heard
  him calling to them from the head of the stairs to “come up” and “come
  quick.” They went, and found Joe walking about his room in great glee,
  trundling an elegant nickel-plated bicycle beside him. On the table
  lay a card to which he directed their attention. Roy picked it up and
  read:

  “I am a present for Joe Wayring, and hope in some degree to recompense
  him for the disappointment he must have felt when he found that his
  uncle could not take him on a trip this summer. Use me regularly and
  judiciously, and if you do not say that life has suddenly doubled its
  charm—if you do not, before the end of the year, notice a thousand and
  one improvements in yourself, both physically and mentally, then I
  shall have failed of my mission. There are two others like me in town,
  and one of my relations, ridden by Thomas Stevens, the
  trans-continental cyclist, is now on his way around the world.

                                               “AN EXPERT COLUMBIA.”



                             CHAPTER XVIII.
                              CONCLUSION.


  “Now isn’t he a daisy?” exclaimed Roy, who could scarcely have been
  more pleased if the wheel had belonged to himself. “Full nickeled,
  ball bearings, adjustable saddle, safety bar, Buffalo tool bag and
  lamp. Every thing complete, of course, for your Uncle Joe doesn’t do
  things by halves. Now, Joe, you can ride and Art and I will go afoot.”

  “Say,” cried Arthur, who had taken the card from Roy’s hand. “What
  does this mean? ‘There are two others like me in town?’ There wasn’t a
  bike in Mount Airy when we left.”

  “That’s so. I wonder who have the others. I wish you had, for I don’t
  want to be the only one of our crowd to get my head broke.”

  “Thank you for being so disinterested,” said Roy. “But if it is all
  the same to you I prefer to have my head as it is. But really, I must
  go home now. Bring him out this afternoon and let us see him throw
  you.”

  When the boys went down stairs Joe stepped into the sitting-room to
  thank Uncle Joe for his beautiful gift. He came out looking more
  surprised and delighted than ever.

  “Now that’s an uncle for a fellow to have,” said he. “I shouldn’t
  wonder if you fellows would find mates to my machine when you get
  home. I am going with you to see.”

  “What makes you think that?” exclaimed Roy and Arthur in a breath.

  “Why, I told Uncle Joe that you two had kindly invited me to come out
  where you could see me thrown, and he said you had better look out or
  you might be thrown yourselves. Now what did he mean by that?”

  The eager boys did not stop to decide, but hurried back to the skiff
  and pulled for Roy’s home at the top of their speed. There another
  warm reception awaited them, and sure enough a mate to Joe Wayring’s
  wheel was found in Roy’s room; and tied to the brake was a card
  stating that it was a present from his mother. Of course the other
  wheel was found at Arthur’s home. The three were so nearly alike that
  if it had not been for the names and numbers engraved upon them it
  would have been difficult to tell them apart.

  You may be sure that canoeing, boat-sailing, and every other sport
  connected with the water, was at a discount now. During the next two
  weeks the three friends were rarely seen upon the streets. They were
  practicing behind the evergreens on Mr. Wayring’s lawn, and every time
  the clanging of one of the gates gave notice of the approach of a
  visitor they would seize their wheels and run them around the corner
  of the house out of sight.

  “No; we are not ashamed of them,” said Joe, in reply to a question his
  uncle propounded to him one day. “We are ashamed of our awkwardness,
  and don’t mean to give any of the fellows a chance to laugh at us.
  Wait until we can ride them ten feet without falling off, and then we
  will go outside the gate.”

  It did not take the boys very long to attain to that degree of
  proficiency, for I am told that riding a wheel is easy enough after
  you learn to put a little confidence in yourself; but the boys had
  promised one another that they would not go upon the street until they
  could “get on pedal-mount,” and then they would appear in style, “I
  bet you.”

  The satisfaction they experienced, and the good time they enjoyed
  during their first run about town, amply repaid them for all the
  trouble they had taken to learn to ride. One bright afternoon, when
  the pleasant drive-ways of Mount Airy were thronged with stylish
  coupés and road-wagons drawn by high-stepping horses, Miss Arden and
  two of her girl friends, all handsomely mounted, suddenly appeared
  among them. By the side of each rode a uniformed wheelman who managed
  his steel horse with as much grace and skill as any of the girls
  managed hers. Such sights are common enough now, but it was a new
  thing in Mount Airy, and the riders attracted a good deal of attention
  from admiring friends and excited the ire of the drug-store crowd.

  “Didn’t we say we would come out in style when we got a good ready?”
  said Arthur, as he and his companions dismounted at the post-office
  after seeing the girls home. “I felt a little nervous at first, but I
  am all right for the future. Of course I expect to get some falls, but
  this day’s experience has satisfied me that I can stay in the saddle
  if I only keep my wits about me.”

  The ice having been broken, so to speak, the boys no longer kept
  behind the evergreens, but appeared upon the streets every day and
  enjoyed many a pleasant run. Their wheels proved to be so very
  accommodating and so easily managed that they wondered they had ever
  been afraid of them. Of course they began to try tricks. They wouldn’t
  have been live boys if they had not. First, they practiced at making
  their wheels stand perfectly still; and when they could do that they
  tried something else. Of course they subscribed for wheelmen’s
  journals, and in one of them read of a rider who could bring his wheel
  to a stop, get out of his saddle, open his lamp which he had
  previously lighted, ignite his cigar, close the lamp and mount again
  without ever touching the ground or tipping his machine over. They had
  any number of such examples which they regarded as well worthy of
  emulation, and Uncle Joe was heard to declare that it was as good as a
  circus to stand at one of the windows and watch the performances that
  went on in his brother’s back yard.

  You may be sure that these three boys did not long remain alone in
  their glory. Other wheels of different patterns began making their
  appearance, and one day Tom Bigden and his cousins rode gaily through
  the village, clad in a uniform of their own invention, and which, it
  is needless to say, was entirely different from the one adopted by Joe
  Wayring and his chums. Did this mean that there were to be other rival
  organizations in town? It looked like it. Every body talked wheel; and
  the boy who didn’t have one was going to get it just as soon as he
  could make up his mind which was the best. Canoe literature went out
  of fashion. The _Amateur Athlete_ and _L. A. W. Bulletin_ were the
  only papers that were worth reading, and songs of the wheel were the
  only songs that were worth singing. Even on the school-ground, or when
  the players were taking their positions in a game of ball, it was no
  uncommon thing to hear some fellow strike up:

                “Away we go on our wheels, boys,
                    As free as the morning breeze;
                And over our pathway steals, boys,
                    The music of wind-swept trees.
                And ’round by the woods and over the hill,
                    Where the ground so gently swells,
                From a dozen throats in echoing notes
                    The wheelman’s melody wells.”

  Although Joe Wayring and his friends had so many agreeable things to
  occupy their minds the events of the summer were not wholly forgotten.
  When Joe saw a canoeist shooting up the lake, with his arms bared to
  the shoulder and his dripping paddle flashing in the sunlight, he
  longed to launch his “old canvas-back” and try conclusions with him.
  And when Indian summer came, and a school-fellow showed him a string
  of muscalonge or pickerel he had caught in some isolated pond to which
  he had penetrated with the aid of his light draft canoe, Joe wished
  most heartily that Matt Coyle had not been such an adept at stealing
  things.

  “I’ll never see my canoe again,” said he, with a sigh of resignation.
  “I can’t say that I hope he will drown Matt, but I _do_ hope he will
  duck him so many times and in such dangerous places that the next time
  he sees a canvas canoe he will run from it. What’s become of him any
  way?”

  That was the question that had been in every body’s mouth ever since
  the day when the two constables returned and reported that Matt Coyle
  and the six thousand dollars and Joe Wayring’s canoe must have sunk
  into the ground or gone up in a balloon, for no traces of them could
  be found, although every thicket in the Indian Lake country had been
  looked into. The squatter’s wife and boys were luxuriating in New
  London jail, awaiting the result of the search. As soon as Mr. Wayring
  and Uncle Joe read the startling article in the _Times_ they offered a
  large reward for Matt’s apprehension, and the former wrote to Joe to
  start for home without the loss of an hour. But it took a letter a
  long time to go to Indian Lake by the way of New London, and Joe never
  received it.

  Tom Bigden was in great suspense, and it was a wonder to his cousins
  how he ever lived through it. He was utterly astounded when he read
  the papers and saw what his last interview with Matt Coyle had led to.
  His secret weighed so heavily on his mind that he could not carry it
  alone, and so he made a clean breast of it to Loren and Ralph, who
  could not have been more amazed if Tom had knocked them down. Of
  course they wanted to help him in his extremity, and the advice they
  gave was enough to drive him frantic. One day they were both clearly
  of opinion that he had better leave the State for a while and let the
  trouble blow over. Again, they thought it would be a good plan for him
  to take his father into his confidence; and perhaps half an hour
  afterward they would declare that the only thing he could do was to go
  to a lawyer about it. Tom listened and trembled, but did nothing. How
  would he have felt had he known that the boy he had tried to get into
  trouble was the one who was destined to help him out of his?

  “Rumor says that the old woman and both the boys have told all they
  know; and I have sometimes thought, by the way folks look at me now
  and then, that there is more afloat than we have heard of,” Tom often
  said, rubbing his hands nervously together the while. “Don’t I wish I
  knew whether or not they have mentioned my name in connection with
  this miserable business?”

  “I don’t see what possessed you to tell Matt that you had seen the
  valise in Joe Wayring’s basket,” said Ralph. “If you had had the first
  glimmering of common sense you would have known better.”

  “So I would,” assented Tom, who was so frightened and dejected that he
  could not get angry at any thing that was said to him. “But I didn’t
  suppose he would blunder right off after Joe and do something to get
  himself into the papers. I am glad he didn’t tell Joe Wayring that I
  put the idea into his head, for it would have been just like Joe and
  his crowd to spread it far and wide. They are jealous of me, and will
  go to any lengths to injure me.”

  The short Indian summer passed away all too quickly for the Mount Airy
  boys, the autumnal rains put a stop to wheeling, and finally Old
  Winter spread his mantle over the village and surrounding hills and
  took the lake and all the streams in his icy grasp. When the boys came
  out of their snug retreats they brought with them their sleds, skates,
  and toboggans. Tom Bigden was around as usual, but every one noticed
  that he did not take as deep an interest in things as he formerly did,
  or “shoot off his chin” quite so frequently. He permitted Joe’s
  sailboat to rest in peace, and Joe was very glad of that, and often
  congratulated himself and companions on the fact that they had not
  once mentioned Tom’s name in connection with the events that had
  happened at the spring-hole.

  The holidays drew near, and Roy Sheldon proposed something that had
  not been thought of for two or three years—a three days’ camp in the
  woods between Christmas and New Year’s, and pickerel fishing through
  the ice. Sherwin’s Pond would be a good camping ground, and the mouth
  of Indian River was the place to go for pickerel. The idea was no
  sooner suggested than it was adopted; and on the 27th of December the
  three boys set off down the twelve-mile carry, walking in Indian file,
  and dragging behind them a toboggan which was loaded to its utmost
  capacity with extra clothing, blankets, provisions, cartridges, and
  every thing else they were likely to need during their stay in the
  woods. By two o’ clock that afternoon they were snugly housed in a
  commodious lean-to, whose whole front was open to a roaring fire, and
  debating some knotty points while they rested from their labors. Who
  would put on his skates, cut a hole through the ice, and catch a fish
  for dinner? who would cook the fish after it was caught? and who would
  cut the night’s supply of firewood?

  “I wouldn’t mind catching the fish, but I don’t much like the job of
  cutting through ice that must be all of ten inches or a foot thick,”
  yawned Roy. “But somebody must do it, I suppose, so I’ll make a try at
  it. Nothing short of a sight of Matt Coyle coming around the point
  could put much energy into me.”

  “I was thinking about him,” said Joe, as he picked up an ax and
  whet-stone. “We thought we were safely out of his reach when we made
  our camp at No-Man’s Pond, and yet he found us easily enough. I wonder
  if we shall have a visit from him to-day.”

  “Hardly,” replied Arthur. “Tom Bigden isn’t around to tell him that
  we’ve six thousand dollars stowed away among our luggage.”

  Having mustered up energy enough to get upon his feet, Roy fastened on
  his skates, took a “water-scope” under his arm, put an ice-chisel on
  his shoulder, and disappeared behind the point of which he had spoken,
  leaving his companions to cut wood for the night. The mouth of Indian
  River, so turbulent and furious the last time Roy saw it, was now a
  sheet of glaring ice, over which he moved with long, graceful strokes.
  He stopped a hundred yards or so below the pond, and went to work with
  his chisel. It was a twenty minutes’ task to cut a hole through the
  ice and bail out the pieces, and when that had been done Roy pulled
  the cape of his heavy coat over his head to shut out all the light,
  and brought the water-scope into play. It was a wooden box two feet
  long and six inches square at one end, while the other widened out
  sufficiently to admit a boy’s face. In the smaller end was a piece of
  window glass, which Roy was careful to wipe with his glove before he
  put it into the water. These contrivances, made of heavy tin and
  japanned, are kept on sale now at most gun stores, and you can buy one
  for a dollar and a quarter; but this one, which Roy made himself,
  answered every purpose. With its aid he could locate a bright button
  at the bottom of a stream that was twenty feet deep, provided, of
  course, that the water was tolerably clear.

  Throwing himself flat upon the ice, and drawing the cape of his coat
  over his head as I have described, Roy thrust the small end of the box
  into the water and buried his face in the other. There was a deep hole
  somewhere along that bank in which muscalonge were known to
  congregate, and Roy wanted to see if he had hit it. He looked at the
  bottom for about five seconds, and then threw back the cape, jerked
  the water-scope out of the hole, raised himself upon his knees, and
  sent up a yell that was so loud and unearthly that it brought Joe and
  Arthur around the point in great haste. They probably thought that Roy
  had been attacked by some wild animal, for they held their guns in
  their hands and were pushing the cartridges into them.

  “Whoop-la!” shouted Roy. “I’ve struck it rich. Joe, I’ve found your
  canoe. Don’t believe it, do you? Well, look through that box and tell
  me what you see.”

  Joe complied without saying a word, and one look was quite enough to
  excite him too. Then Arthur took a peep and said:

  “Yes, sir; that’s the canoe, and there’s a rifle lashed fast to one of
  the thwarts. That’s my blanket—the red one with a blue stripe on the
  end. Now what’s to be done?”

  “There’s something in that blanket, boys,” said Joe, after he had
  taken a second look, “and it is also tied to the canoe. How came those
  things at the bottom of the river, and where’s Matt Coyle?”

  “And the money,” added Roy.

  “We can talk about it while we go back to camp and bring another
  chisel, and an ax to enlarge the hole so that we can get the canoe
  out, and a rope to haul him up with,” said Arthur. “The sooner we get
  to work the sooner we may be able to settle some things. I think that
  with three of our largest and strongest fish-hooks fastened into him
  we can pull him up so that we can get hold of him.”

  The others thought so too, and lost no time in putting the matter to a
  test. By their united efforts the hole was quickly enlarged to four
  times its original size, the ice was baled out, and in a few minutes
  more the campers were angling for a bigger prize than they thought.
  Not only three, but half a dozen hooks, two in the hands of each boy,
  were fastened somewhere, either in the sides of the canvas canoe or in
  the thick blankets that were tied to it, and by careful handling the
  whole was brought so near the surface of the water that Roy seized it
  and held it fast. Then with a “pull all together” and a “heave-yo!”
  the canvas canoe and its valuable cargo, which for four long, dreary
  months had lain at the bottom of the river, were hauled upon the ice.

  “Now, let’s see what we’ve got,” said Joe, drawing his knife from his
  pocket. “Here’s Matt’s rifle to begin with.” As he spoke he cut the
  weapon loose and flung it behind him.

  “And here’s my blanket,” said Arthur. “And as I shall never use it
  again I’ll just—”

  Arthur made a vicious cut with his knife as he said this, and the
  result was so astounding that the boys were struck dumb and
  motionless. A small leather valise slipped out of the rent he made,
  and falling upon the ice with considerable force flew open, scattering
  a shower of money before their astonished gaze. Roy Sheldon, being the
  first to recover himself, danced about like a crazy boy; Arthur thrust
  his wet hands into his pockets and whistled softly to himself; and Joe
  leaned against the canoe and looked. Then he wheeled about, made the
  hole in the blanket larger, and found the other valise. While he was
  doing that he discovered and pointed out a gaping wound in my side
  which neither he nor his friends had noticed before.

  “To my mind that explains every thing,” said Roy, bringing his wild
  war-dance to a close and acting more like his sensible self again.
  “Matt Coyle braved something that we were afraid to tackle, and got
  himself snagged and sunk by it. He tried to get into the pond and went
  to the bottom instead. You can see that he expected a capsize, for
  he’s got every thing tied fast.”

  “Did Matt go to the bottom with the canoe?” inquired Joe.

  “That depends upon whether or not he was a good swimmer,” answered
  Roy.

  “I should say it depended more on whether or not the river was as ugly
  on the day he came along here as it was when we saw it,” replied
  Arthur. “If it was, the chances are that he was drowned; for not one
  swimmer in ten could get away from that current after it got a good
  grip on him. Now, let’s pick up the money, unload the canoe, and get
  him to the fire before he freezes stiff.”

  “This is the second time our fishing has been broken up,” said Joe.
  “Well, the winter isn’t half over yet, and it will be easy enough for
  us to come back at some future time. But we’ll never catch another
  prize like this in Indian River.”

  This made it plain to me that my master, whose honest, cheerful face I
  was glad to see once more, intended to start for home as soon as he
  could get ready. I was glad of it, for if I had been in his place I
  should not have cared to camp in so wild a region with six thousand
  dollars of another man’s money in my keeping. It made the boys a
  trifle nervous, and during the night one of them kept watch while the
  others slept. They broke camp after eating breakfast by firelight, and
  hardly stopped to rest until the money had been handed over to the
  officers of the Mount Airy bank, who straightway telegraphed to the
  Irvington people the gratifying intelligence that their missing funds,
  which they had given up for lost, had been fished out of the river.
  Every one said it was a “lucky find,” and Tom Bigden wondered if any
  thing would come of it. If he had been in the bank a day or two
  afterward, he might have heard something to astonish him. A messenger
  came from Irvington to claim the money, and Joe and his two friends
  were invited to meet him. They were able to give him a very accurate
  description of the adventures through which the valises had passed
  since they left his bank on the third of August filled with stolen
  coin, and answered a question or two that was asked them.

  “I don’t know what kind of a case we shall be able to make out against
  Sam Coyle and the old woman,” said the messenger, “but it’s my opinion
  that Jake will have a hard time of it. Are you going to prosecute any
  body for stealing your canoe?”

  “No, sir,” answered Joe. “Matt was to blame for that, and he is dead;
  got drowned when the canoe was snagged and sunk.”

  “The boys and the old woman all contend that they wouldn’t be half as
  guilty as they are if one Tom Bigden had not advised and urged them on
  to commit crime,” continued the messenger. “Do you believe it? We mean
  to sift the matter to the bottom, and want to know how to go about
  it.”

  “If I were in your place I’d let all such talk go in one ear and out
  at the other,” replied Joe, earnestly. “Tom Bigden has too much sense
  to do any thing of the sort.”

  “But I have heard it from more than one source.”

  “That may be. So have I; but I don’t believe it.”

  And this was the boy who was “jealous” of Tom Bigden and his cousins,
  and who was ready to “go any lengths to injure” them, was it? You know
  how close Tom was to the truth when he made that assertion.

  I can not begin to tell you how glad I was to find myself in my old
  familiar quarters once more, or give you even an idea of the interest
  and curiosity with which I regarded the handsome stranger, the Expert
  Columbia, who occupied the recess with me. He wasn’t a bit stuck up
  because he had on more nickel than the rest of us could boast of, and
  during my time I have found that those who have done great things, or
  who are capable of them, seldom are stuck up. This new-comer was as
  common as an old shoe, and as ready to talk to me as I was to talk to
  him. 1 wasn’t jealous of him for crowding me out of Joe’s affections
  for a while, for I knew that Joe would come back to me when he wanted
  to run the rapids into Sherwin’s Pond or go a-fishing.

  Under my master’s skillful care my wound healed rapidly, and in a few
  days I was ready for service again; but of course I was not called
  upon. Even when spring opened I was not in demand, but the bicycle
  was. He began running the very minute the roads would admit of it, and
  kept it up during the entire season, covering an astonishing number of
  miles, and saving valuable lives. He met some adventures, too; and
  what they were and how he came out of them he will tell you in the
  concluding volume of this series, which will be entitled: “The Steel
  Horse; or, The Rambles of a Bicycle.”

  THE END.

                             FAMOUS STANDARD
                           JUVENILE LIBRARIES.

              ANY VOLUME SOLD SEPARATELY AT $1.00 PER VOLUME

       (Except the Sportsman’s Club Series, Frank Nelson Series and
                          Jack Hazard Series.).

                  Each Volume Illustrated. 12mo. Cloth.

                                -------

                            HORATIO ALGER, JR.

  The enormous sales of the books of Horatio Alger, Jr., show the
  greatness of his popularity among the boys, and prove that he is one
  of their most favored writers. I am told that more than half a million
  copies altogether have been sold, and that all the large circulating
  libraries in the country have several complete sets, of which only two
  or three volumes are ever on the shelves at one time. If this is true,
  what thousands and thousands of boys have read and are reading Mr.
  Alger’s books! His peculiar style of stories, often imitated but never
  equaled, have taken a hold upon the young people, and, despite their
  similarity, are eagerly read as soon as they appear.

  Mr. Alger became famous with the publication of that undying book,
  “Ragged Dick, or Street Life in New York.” It was his first book for
  young people, and its success was so great that he immediately devoted
  himself to that kind of writing. It was a new and fertile field for a
  writer then, and Mr. Alger’s treatment of it at once caught the fancy
  of the boys. “Ragged Dick” first appeared in 1868, and ever since then
  it has been selling steadily, until now it is estimated that about
  200,000 copies of the series have been sold.

                               —_Pleasant Hours for Boys and Girls._

  A writer for boys should have an abundant sympathy with them. He
  should be able to enter into their plans, hopes, and aspirations. He
  should learn to look upon life as they do. Boys object to be written
  down to. A boy’s heart opens to the man or writer who understands him.

                 —From _Writing Stories for Boys_, by Horatio Alger, Jr.

                                -------

                          =RAGGED DICK SERIES.=

  6 vols.                 BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.                   $6.00

 Ragged Dick.                        Rough and Ready.
 Fame and Fortune.                   Ben the Luggage Boy.
 Mark the Match Boy.                 Rufus and Rose.

                   =TATTERED TOM SERIES—First Series.=

  4 vols.                 BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.                   $4.00

 Tattered Tom.                       Phil the Fiddler.
 Paul the Peddler.                   Slow and Sure.

                   =TATTERED TOM SERIES—Second Series.=

  4 vols.                                                         $4.00

 Julius.                             Sam’s Chance.
 The Young Outlaw.                   The Telegraph Boy.

                            =CAMPAIGN SERIES.=

  3 vols.                 BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.                   $3.00

 Frank’s Campaign.                   Charlie Codman’s Cruise.
                         Paul Prescott’s Charge.

                  =LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES—First Series.=

  4 vols.                 BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.                   $4.00

 Luck and Pluck.                     Strong and Steady.
 Sink or Swim.                       Strive and Succeed.

                  =LUCK AND PLUCK SERIES—Second Series.=

  4 vols.                                                         $4.00

 Try and Trust.                      Risen from the Ranks.
 Bound to Rise.                      Herbert Carter’s, Legacy.

                         =BRAVE AND BOLD SERIES.=

  4 vols.                 BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.                   $4.00

 Brave and Bold.                     Shifting for Himself.
 Jack’s Ward.                        Wait and Hope.


                           =NEW WORLD SERIES.=

  3 vols.                 BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.                   $3.00

 Digging for Gold.       Facing the World.       In a New World.


                            =VICTORY SERIES.=

             3 vols.      BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.      $3.00

 Only an Irish Boy.                  Adrift in the City.
                  Victor Vane, or the Young Secretary.

                       =FRANK AND FEARLESS SERIES.=

  3 vols.                 BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.                   $3.00

 Frank Hunter’s Peril.               Frank and Fearless.
                           The Young Salesman.

                         =GOOD FORTUNE LIBRARY.=

  3 vols.                 BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.                   $3.00

 Walter Sherwood’s Probation.        A Boy’s Fortune.
                        The Young Bank Messenger.

                           =RUPERT’S AMBITION.=

   1 vol.                 BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.                   $1.00

                        =JED, THE POOR-HOUSE BOY.=

   1 vol.                 BY HORATIO ALGER, JR.                   $1.00



                             HARRY CASTLEMON.

                             --------------

                    HOW I CAME TO WRITE MY FIRST BOOK.

  When I was sixteen years old I belonged to a composition class. It was
  our custom to go on the recitation seat every day with clean slates,
  and we were allowed ten minutes to write seventy words on any subject
  the teacher thought suited to our capacity. One day he gave out “What
  a Man Would See if He Went to Greenland.” My heart was in the matter,
  and before the ten minutes were up I had one side of my slate filled.
  The teacher listened to the reading of our compositions, and when they
  were all over he simply said: “Some of you will make your living by
  writing one of these days.” That gave me something to ponder upon, I
  did not say so out loud, but I knew that my composition was as good as
  the best of them. By the way, there was another thing that came in my
  way just then. I was reading at that time one of Mayne Reid’s works
  which I had drawn from the library, and I pondered upon it as much as
  I did upon what the teacher said to me. In introducing Swartboy to his
  readers he made use of this expression: “No visible change was
  observable in Swartboy’s countenance.” Now, it occurred to me that if
  a man of his education could make such a blunder as that and still
  write a book, I ought to be able to do it, too. I went home that very
  day and began a story, “The Old Guide’s Narrative,” which was sent to
  the _New York Weekly_, and came back, respectfully declined. It was
  written on both sides of the sheets but I didn’t know that this was
  against the rules. Nothing abashed, I began another, and receiving
  some instruction, from a friend of mine who was a clerk in a book
  store, I wrote it on only one side of the paper. But mind you, he
  didn’t know what I was doing. Nobody knew it; but one day, after a
  hard Saturday’s work—the other boys had been out skating on the
  brick-pond—I shyly broached the subject to my mother. I felt the need
  of some sympathy. She listened in amazement, and then said: “Why, do
  you think you could write a book like that?” That settled the matter,
  and from that day no one knew what I was up to until I sent the first
  four volumes of Gunboat Series to my father. Was it work? Well, yes;
  it was hard work, but each week I had the satisfaction of seeing the
  manuscript grow until the “Young Naturalist” was all complete.

                                   —_Harry Castlemon in the Writer._

                                -------

                            =GUNBOAT SERIES.=

  6 vols.                  BY HARRY CASTLEMON.                    $6.00

 Frank the Young Naturalist.         Frank before Vicksburg.
 Frank on a Gunboat.                 Frank on the Lower Mississippi.
 Frank in the Woods.                 Frank on the Prairie.

                         =ROCKY MOUNTAIN SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY HARRY CASTLEMON.                    $3.00

 Frank Among the Rancheros.          Frank in the Mountains.
                      Frank at Don Carlos’ Rancho.

                        =SPORTSMAN’S CLUB SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY HARRY CASTLEMON.                    $3.75

 The Sportsman’s Club in the Saddle. The Sportsman’s Club
 The Sportsman’s Club Afloat.        Among the Trappers.

                          =FRANK NELSON SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY HARRY CASTLEMON.                    $3.75

 Snowed up.              Frank in the            The Boy Traders.
                         Forecastle.

                          =BOY TRAPPER SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY HARRY CASTLEMON.                    $3.00

 The Buried Treasure.    The Boy Trapper.        The Mail Carrier.

                          =ROUGHING IT SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY HARRY CASTLEMON.                    $3.00

 George in Camp.         George at the Fort.     George at the Wheel.

                          =ROD AND GUN SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY HARRY CASTLEMON.                    $3.00

 Don Gordon’s Shooting   The Young Wild Fowlers. Rod and Gun Club.
 Box.

                            =GO-AHEAD SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY HARRY CASTLEMON.                    $3.00

 Tom Newcombe.           Go-Ahead.               No Moss.

                              =WAR SERIES.=

  6 vols.                  BY HARRY CASTLEMON.                    $6.00

 True to His Colors.                 Marcy the Blockade-Runner.
 Rodney the Partisan.                Marcy the Refugee.
 Rodney the Overseer.                Sailor Jack the Trader.

                           =HOUSEBOAT SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY HARRY CASTLEMON.                    $3.00

 The Houseboat Boys.                 The Mystery of Lost River Canon.
                         The Young Game Warden.

                       =AFLOAT AND ASHORE SERIES.=

              3 vols.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $3.00

                           Rebellion in Dixie.
                      A Sailor in Spite of Himself.
                           The Ten-Ton Cutter.

                        =THE PONY EXPRESS SERIES.=

               3 vol.      BY HARRY CASTLEMON.      $3.00

 The Pony Express Rider.             The White Beaver.
                           Carl, The Trailer.

                             EDWARD S. ELLIS.

  Edward S. Ellis, the popular writer of boys’ books, is a native of
  Ohio, where he was born somewhat more than a half-century ago. His
  father was a famous hunter and rifle shot, and it was doubtless his
  exploits and those of his associates, with their tales of adventure
  which gave the son his taste for the breezy backwoods and for
  depicting the stirring life of the early settlers on the frontier.

  Mr. Ellis began writing at an early age and his work was acceptable
  from the first. His parents removed to New Jersey while he was a boy
  and he was graduated from the State Normal School and became a member
  of the faculty while still in his teens. He was afterward principal of
  the Trenton High School, a trustee and then superintendent of schools.
  By that time his services as a writer had become so pronounced that he
  gave his entire attention to literature. He was an exceptionally
  successful teacher and wrote a number of text-books for schools, all
  of which met with high favor. For these and his historical
  productions, Princeton College conferred upon him the degree of Master
  of Arts.

  The high moral character, the clean, manly tendencies and the
  admirable literary style of Mr. Ellis’ stories have made him as
  popular on the other side of the Atlantic as in this country. A
  leading paper remarked some time since, that no mother need hesitate
  to place in the hands of her boy any book written by Mr. Ellis. They
  are found in the leading Sunday-school libraries, where, as may well
  be believed, they are in wide demand and do much good by their sound,
  wholesome lessons which render them as acceptable to parents as to
  their children. All of his books published by Henry T. Coates & Co.
  are re-issued in London, and many have been translated into other
  languages. Mr. Ellis is a writer of varied accomplishments, and, in
  addition to his stories, is the author of historical works, of a
  number of pieces of popular music and has made several valuable
  inventions. Mr. Ellis is in the prime of his mental and physical
  powers, and great as have been the merits of his past achievements,
  there is reason to look for more brilliant productions from his pen in
  the near future.

                            =DEERFOOT SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.                    $3.00

 Hunters of the Ozark.               The Last War Trail.
                         Camp in the Mountains.

                           =LOG CABIN SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.                    $3.00

 Lost Trail.                         Footprints in the Forest.
                          Camp-Fire and Wigwam.

                          =BOY PIONEER SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.                    $3.00

 Ned in the Block-House.             Ned on the River.
                            Ned in the Woods.

                         =THE NORTHWEST SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.                    $3.00

 Two Boys in Wyoming.                Cowmen and Rustlers.
                A Strange Craft and its Wonderful Voyage.

                        =BOONE AND KENTON SERIES.=

  3 vols.                  BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.                    $3.00

 Shod with Silence.                  In the Days of the Pioneers.
                          Phantom of the River.

                 =IRON HEART, WAR CHIEF OF THE IROQUOIS.=

   1 vol.                  BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.                    $1.00

                      =THE SECRET OF COFFIN ISLAND.=

   1 vol.                  BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.                    $1.00

                           =THE BLAZING ARROW.=

   1 vol.                  BY EDWARD S. ELLIS.                    $1.00


                            J. T. TROWBRIDGE.

  Neither as a writer does he stand apart from the great currents of
  life and select some exceptional phase or odd combination of
  circumstances. He stands on the common level and appeals to the
  universal heart, and all that he suggests or achieves is on the plane
  and in the line of march of the great body of humanity.

  The Jack Hazard series of stories, published in the late _Our Young
  Folks_, and continued in the first volume of _St. Nicholas_, under the
  title of “Fast Friends,” is no doubt destined to hold a high place in
  this class of literature. The delight of the boys in them (and of
  their seniors, too) is well founded. They go to the right spot every
  time. Trowbridge knows the heart of a boy like a book, and the heart
  of a man, too, and he has laid them both open in these books in a most
  successful manner. Apart from the qualities that render the series so
  attractive to all young readers, they have great value on account of
  their portraitures of American country life and character. The drawing
  is wonderfully accurate, and as spirited as it is true. The constable,
  Sellick, is an original character, and as minor figures where will we
  find anything better than Miss Wansey, and Mr. P. Pipkin, Esq. The
  picture of Mr. Dink’s school, too, is capital, and where else in
  fiction is there a better nick-name than that the boys gave to poor
  little Stephen Treadwell, “Step Hen,” as he himself pronounced his
  name in an unfortunate moment when he saw it in print for the first
  time in his lesson in school.

  On the whole, these books are very satisfactory, and afford the
  critical reader the rare pleasure of the works that are just adequate,
  that easily fulfill themselves and accomplish all they set out to
  do.—_Scribner’s Monthly._

                          =JACK HAZARD SERIES.=

  6 vols.                  BY J. T. TROWBRIDGE.                   $7.35

 Jack Hazard and His Fortunes.       Doing His Best.
 The Young Surveyor.                 A Chance for Himself.
 Fast Friends.                       Lawrence’s Adventures.

                                -------

                           ROUNDABOUT LIBRARY.

                           For Boys and Girls.

 (97 Volumes.)                       75c. per Volume.

  The attention of Librarians and Bookbuyers generally is called to
  HENRY T. COATES & CO.’S ROUNDABOUT LIBRARY, by the popular authors.

 EDWARD S. ELLIS,                    MARGARET VANDEGRIFT,
 HORATIO ALGER, JR.,                 HARRY CASTLEMON,
 C. A. STEPHENS,                     C. A. HENTY,
                       LUCY C. LILLIE and others.

  No authors of the present day are greater favorites with boys and
  girls.

  Every book is sure to meet with a hearty reception by young readers.

  Librarians will find them to be among the most popular books on their
  lists.

        _Complete lists and net prices furnished on application._

                                -------

                          HENRY T. COATES & CO.

                              PHILADELPHIA.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            Transcriber’s Note

  Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
  are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the
  original. The following issues should be noted, along with the
  resolutions.

  77.11    he would go on to the next.[”]                 Removed.

  84.25    I couldn’t help it,[”] stammered Jake,         Added.

  139.8    it won[’]t take me long to see                 Inserted.

  161.23   Now you are off for that spring-hole, I        Added.
           suppose[.]

  237.2    “We shall be much obliged.[”]                  Added.

  309.10   listening for their app[r]oach.                Inserted.

  344.14   But he [’]won’t tumble onto me agin            Removed.





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